War diary transcript Sept/Oct 1915 - 8th go to war

Transcripts of the 8th Border Regiment War Diary and associated discussions.

War diary transcript Sept/Oct 1915 - 8th go to war

Postby plbramham » Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:50 pm

Hi, I’ve set myself a colossal task of transcribing the whole 8th Border Regt war diaries from when they went overseas in 1915 until they were disbanded in 1918. It will be a very long job as it consists of almost 200 A4 pages of copperplate scrawl written in faded pencil on tissue-type paper, with archaic English and obscure military abbreviations! I’ll get through it, but I’m estimating an average of about 45 minutes per page then checking on place name spellings etc, before typing it up. I received the diary pages as “raw” documents” from Mike Deacon and I have photoshopped them all individually to enhance the writing as best I can. Some are clear, but others are very pale grey pencil written on grey paper so I’ve had to introduce weird colours to tweak the contrast and show up the writing! Bear with me as I’ll post the transcription in stages – Watch this space!
I find it interesting in these opening two months that they still mentioned wounded by name in the diary, and held a memorial service in the trenches for a fallen officer – such niceties were soon to end!
Paul

8th battalion THE BORDER REGIMENT war diary part 1

Grammar, spelling mistakes (e.g. Ploegstreet/Ploegsteert), missed punctuation etc. left as on original documents
(words in round brackets) are as such on original
Illegible or guessed words in [square brackets?] with? question marks. Transcription notes in [square brackets]

September 1915
ALDERSHOT
26th - 6pm. Left at 6pm in two troop trains for Folkstone & Boulogne. Reached Boulogne disembarked and marched to next camp about 2 miles out arrived there about 1 AM Iron rations issued that morning
BOULOGNE
27th - 9 am . Left camp and marched to station, entrained for Hazebrouck. Proceeded slowly by rail to that place, disentrained at 4pm, and marched to Strazeele, and billets were found there for the night about 8pm.
STRAZEELE
28th - 8am.Left Strazeele by motor lorries and reached Nieppe about 1.30pm, and marched to Le Bizet, where billets were found by the [gendarmes] for the Battn.
LE BIZET
29th - 8am. Three platoons were sent to the trenches that eveing under platoon officers for instructional purposes with the 48th Canadian Highlanders who were holding the trenches. All Company Commanders visited the trenches that day.
30th - 8am. D company (4 platoon) proceeded to the trenches at 6pm that eveing, relieving the three paltoons already there.

October 1915
LE BIZET
1st. One platoon from A,B,and C Co. s proceeded to the trenches that night relieving D Co.
2nd- 8am. Another platoon from A,B, and C Co. relieved those already in the trenches at 6.30pm. One lance Corp of [B W?] notes shot returning from a listening post on the night of the 1st
3rd - 8am Orders received to get into the trenches that night, billets soon vacated, and transport [removed?] all baggage. Left for trench at 6.20om, marching by platoon. The entire handing over was completed by 9pm, and 48th Canadians vacated trenches.
Right on the section of trenches E of PLOEGSTREET
4th- 8pm. A good deal of firing at night by the Germans. Casualties one man killed about 6.30AM. One slightly wounded by shellfire. Repairing of parapet being done and revetting in communication trench, which was damaged by [ourt?]. artillery observation post found out by enemy.
5th- 8am. Much less firing but a good deal of sniping on the German side who seem very active at daylight and in the afternoon. Two Germans were seen, one wearing black spiked helmet, the other soft round dark blue cap. Work continued in repairing parapets, and strengthening trenches. Latrines inspected & cleaned. Three or four shells came into A Co ‘s trenches, and [c?nv?t – convent?] again shelled.
6th- 8pm. A noisy night and a good deal of sniping. Two machine guns opposite C Co. on our left were very active. The [Co Comp] informed artillery, and with 3 or 4 rounds the machine guns were completely silenced, the range being perfect, and the machines guns are believed to be knocked out, as observed from the trenches. Very little firing from our lines, silence being maintained. Repairs to trenches carried out all day under supernision of RE officer.
7th- 8pm. A good deal of sniping at night. Repair to trenches continues under RE officer’s supervision.
8th- 8pm. A quieter night our snipers believed to have accounted for two of the enemy, one sniper and one man at work. Repairs go on as usual.
9th- 8pm. A quiet night. Relief completed by 8pm, and our Co’s occupy the farm where the X Cheshire were in billets
PLOEGSTREET
10th- 8pm. General cleaning up of billet.
11th- 8pm. Physical drill in morning. Short route march. B Cp. Furnished fatigue in second line trenches
12th- 8pm. Physical drill. Route marching. Improving trenches near billets. Baths commenced.
13th- 8pm. D Co furnished fatigue at 1.30pm all second line trenches manned till 7.30pm, [which?] guns bombarded enemy’s trenches. 20 casualties.
14th- 8pm. Drills as usual, and fatigue party Church of England service carried out in W’s quarters in rotation.
15th- 8pm Relieved X Cheshires in the trenches. Relief completed by 7pm and trenches handed over.
16th- 8pm. A quiet night. Some shelling in afternoon in reply to our guns, three shells dropped close to our communication trench and some other [near?] Lancashire support [???] [No?] damage done. A clear night.
17th- 8pm. Enemy in action at night they turned a machine gun on to our communication trench and tram line. It is evidently well marked but they just missed the ration party on the way up.
18th -8pm. The Germans shelled a good deal today, both in the morning and afternoon, and inflicted some casualties amongst [??nking] parties especially at Le Touquet [Borthe?]. One casualty amongst the patrol party in front of our lines at night. Pte Willan shot thro’ the arm.
19th- 8pm.A little more firing at night, the enemy shelled the trenches a little in the morning, and two casualties from shrapnel. L C [Bownes?] seriously wounded in lung, and L C Bell wounded both of C Co .All work proceeding under direction of RE officer as usual.
20th-8pm. A noisy night much more firing on German side, apparently due to new reliefs. Capt McCulloch severely wounded in the leg. [putting?] up [soon?] about 5AM. Another casualty in B W the same night. A quiet day, and work proceeded as usual. Hope [???] have located a German battery which has been shelling our trenches and informed the artillery.
21st- 8pm. A quiet night. Heard of Capt McCulloch’s death at No 2 clearing station from collapse. Relief was completed by 5pm and [stores?] and trenches handed over to X Cheshires
PLOEGSTREET
22nd- 8pm. General cleaning up
23rd- 8pm. A & B Co’s on fatigues. C Coy sent to baths. A memorial service held for Capt McCulloch for officers & C Coy at 5pm.
24th- 8pm. C & D Co on fatigues. Divine service for A & B Co’s.
25th- 8pm.Relieved X Cheshires in the trenches. C Coy [???] [dig?] and part of communication trench between 1875 [ posn?- position?} and Batt HQ impassable owing to walls fallen in. Relief completed at 4.30 and trench handed over.
TRENCHES
26th- 8pm. A fine day, and several aeroplanes. One man slightly wounded by shrapnel from anti aircraft gun and another by a German shell. A quiet day repairs carried on all day.
27th- 8pm. A quiet day. Two officers and 65 men went to attend the review at Bailleul. Work proceeded as usual. Communication trench btween [Lavina?] [posn? / farm? – very poor copperplate writing of four letter word] and 1875 [posn?] still impassable. And from [ Lavina posn/farm?] to Lancashire support [posn?] only kept open by pumping
28th- 8pm. A very quiet night, and most day. Trench work to be done owing to walls falling in when not revetted.
29th- 8pm. A quiet night. .Communication trench again blocked in places by water, and walls falling in Howitizers fired over our D Co this morning on earthworks. One man S.W.Borderers killed & 5 men of D Co wounded by shell dropping in cookhouse of D Co. Relief carried out in afternoon by 2nd S Lancs Regt. Relief completed by 5pm and trenches handed over.
PLOEGSTEERT
30th- Men resting after tour in trenches. The shell which wounded the men in the cookhouse yesterday appears to have been fired by the German from a Captured French gun from a pt. N. of Messines. This is the conclusion arrived at by Brig 2 [Battle CRA]
31st- B Company were away nearly all day working with the engineers, improving communication trenches. D company proceeded to Ploegsteert Wood to gather fire wood. The remaining two companies imporved trenches at the own billets
3/11/15 [H?} Brander Col. Comdg 8th Border Regiment
User avatar
plbramham
General
General
 
Posts: 1369
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 9:49 pm
Location: kendal

Re: war diary transcript Sept/Oct 1915 - 8th go to war

Postby mrdeacon » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:34 pm

Well done Paul and good luck it is one heck of a project you have taken on, especially how bad the diary's are.

Regards Mike.
mrdeacon
Colonel
Colonel
 
Posts: 709
Joined: Fri Feb 25, 2011 12:32 pm
Location: egremont

Re: war diary transcript Sept/Oct 1915 - 8th go to war

Postby spike » Sat Mar 23, 2013 3:06 am

The fate of some of the men mentioned.....
14275 Thomas William Bailey of Far Pump Yard Kendal who was killed in action on October 4th 1915. He is buried in The London Rifle Brigade Cemetery, Belgium. Grave II.A.39.
The war diary states "4th October- 8pm. A good deal of firing at night by the Germans. Casualties one man killed about 6.30AM. One slightly wounded by shellfire."

18th October -8pm. The Germans shelled a good deal today, both in the morning and afternoon, and inflicted some casualties amongst [??nking] parties especially at Le Touquet [Borthe?]. One casualty amongst the patrol party in front of our lines at night. Pte Willan shot thro’ the arm.
(14695 Private John Willan Of Bowland Bridge, Crosthwaite, Kendal, a farm servant, born 1895, survived this wound to be killed on the Somme in July 1916.)

19th October- 8pm.A little more firing at night, the enemy shelled the trenches a little in the morning, and two casualties from shrapnel. L C [Bownes?] seriously wounded in lung, and L C Bell wounded both of C Co .All work proceeding under direction of RE officer as usual.
(5985 Lance Corporal Thomas Alexander Bownes, Husband of Eleanor Elizabeth Taylor (formerly Bownes), of Elm Villa, Rake Lane, Eastham, Birkenhead, Cheshire, age 36, recovered form this serious lung wound and was promoted to Corporal and later killed on the Somme in July 1916. Lance Corporal Bell also recovered and appears to have survived the war.)

20th October -8pm. A noisy night much more firing on German side, apparently due to new reliefs. Capt McCulloch severely wounded in the leg. [putting?] up [soon?] about 5AM. Another casualty in B W the same night. A quiet day, and work proceeded as usual. Hope [???] have located a German battery which has been shelling our trenches and informed the artillery.

21st- 8pm. A quiet night. Heard of Capt McCulloch’s death at No 2 clearing station from collapse. Relief was completed by 5pm and [stores?] and trenches handed over to 10th Cheshires."
(Captain John Wyndham Hamilton McCulloch, son of J. E. McCulloch, Richmond House, St Mary’s Terrace, Paddington, London. is buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension in grave I.C.25 .)
SPIKE

LINK - Border Regiment in the Great War Websites
(right click and open in new tab)

In memory of -19455 Private John Farrer,
A Company 11th Border Regiment k.i.a. 1st July 1916
.
User avatar
spike
General
General
 
Posts: 1788
Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2008 4:40 pm
Location: Carlisle

Re: war diary transcript Sept/Oct 1915 - 8th go to war

Postby plbramham » Sat Mar 23, 2013 8:57 am

Thanks very much for that Spike. After starting the transcripts for November I have added CWGC details for named deaths, but a great idea of yours to check if those mentioned as wounded were later killed, and hence their details are readily available. Please can you continue to check for me? ( Though I strongly suspect that the concept of naming individual casualties in the diaries will end before I progress very far into 1916 - there were too many by then!)
I'm posting below the cutting for Private Bailey - first one to die, from Westmorland Mercury October 15th 1915
Poor weather and being stuck indoors means I have made good progress, though I don't expect to be able to maintain this rate of transcription , but I reckon I've done about a tenth of them now and will soon be posting the November/ December entries this weekend. (An amusing entry about shooting a pheasant as an aside in the November diary - watch this space!)
Paul
Attachments
mercury Oct 15th bailey first kendalpal dies_edited-1.jpg
User avatar
plbramham
General
General
 
Posts: 1369
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 9:49 pm
Location: kendal

Re: War diary transcript Sept/Oct 1915 - 8th go to war

Postby kerchi » Mon Mar 25, 2013 4:45 pm

Do you know what the NA's catalogue reference number is for 8th's war diary? You know, the WO/95 numbers.

As I have been updating the war diaries section on the wiki over the last couple of days (and including the ref numbers for all the months transcribed for each of the battalions so far) I would like to follow this with the 8th's war diary so it is stated clearly what the reference number is.

I did notice that the 1st and 2nd battalion war diaries have different reference numbers: WO/95/4311 +2305 and WO/95/1655 +1656 respectively. Does the 8th's contain two different reference numbers or just the one?

Thanks
In memory of John Bardgett (15309 L/Cpl.), 11th Border Regiment who died 1st July 1916.

Any problems, comments or questions about the forum? Contact me at: admin@border-regiment-forum.com
User avatar
kerchi
Field-Marshal
Field-Marshal
 
Posts: 2160
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 5:36 pm
Location: Padfield, Derbyshire

Re: War diary transcript Sept/Oct 1915 - 8th go to war

Postby kerchi » Mon Mar 25, 2013 4:58 pm

Just as an afterthought, I don't know if anyone remembers the discussion we had about war diaries and copyrights etc. but the Great War forum coughed this thread up: War diaries and Crown Copyright, which was quite interesting especially post no. 13 which reinforces that it ok to use transcriptions of war diaries in a public space (as that person personally checked with the NA before hand). The request is that the source and catalogue reference number are clearly displayed on the transcription, hence my question in the previous post ;-)

Also Paul, would you like me to acknowledge your time-consuming efforts as the transcriber of the 8th's war diary, and if yes how would you like me to acknowledge you?
In memory of John Bardgett (15309 L/Cpl.), 11th Border Regiment who died 1st July 1916.

Any problems, comments or questions about the forum? Contact me at: admin@border-regiment-forum.com
User avatar
kerchi
Field-Marshal
Field-Marshal
 
Posts: 2160
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 5:36 pm
Location: Padfield, Derbyshire

Re: War diary transcript Sept/Oct 1915 - 8th go to war

Postby plbramham » Mon Mar 25, 2013 6:59 pm

Chris,
The Ref nos. are WO-95-2251-0000 to WO-95-2251-0207, but that includes about 26 documents which relate to a trench raid carried out by the 8th Bn on the night of 10/11th Nov 1917.
I hadn't really thought about an acknowledgement. Just put something like "transcription by Paul Bramham" if you wish,( but don't worry I won't take offence if you don't bother!)
Also remember it was Mike Deacon who obtained the original documents for me,
Cheers Paul.
User avatar
plbramham
General
General
 
Posts: 1369
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 9:49 pm
Location: kendal

Re: War diary transcript Sept/Oct 1915 - 8th go to war

Postby kerchi » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:42 pm

Thanks Paul. I realised the WO reference number is on every image of the war diary when I opened it shortly after I posted my above question.

I have started adding your transcriptions to the wiki here and have included both yourself and Mike in the references/notes at the bottom of each page.

Each month has its own page. Excellent work so far.....is it getting repetitive yet? ;-)
In memory of John Bardgett (15309 L/Cpl.), 11th Border Regiment who died 1st July 1916.

Any problems, comments or questions about the forum? Contact me at: admin@border-regiment-forum.com
User avatar
kerchi
Field-Marshal
Field-Marshal
 
Posts: 2160
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 5:36 pm
Location: Padfield, Derbyshire

Re: War diary transcript Sept/Oct 1915 - 8th go to war

Postby plbramham » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:59 am

kerchi wrote:Excellent work so far.....is it getting repetitive yet? ;-)



Not as repetitive as I suspect as things were for the lads involved in " usual fatigues supplied" ", "usual repairs to trenches" etc!

I remember a quote somewhere that trenchlife was endless mindless boredom and repetition interspersed with rare bursts of absolute horror and terror.

Transcribing the routine activities such as drainage does get a bit tedious, but it gives the correct perspective about their lives i.e. it is not like the schoolboy ideal of them going over the top every day! - more a case of being frozen, bored, and lousy (check the diaries - a bath was special enough event to deserve a mention)

You will notice that each month I try to pick out a couple of items that are out of the ordinary to mention in the introduction e.g. shooting a pheasant, inspection by Winston Churchill (when he was in France as an infantry officer after his Gallipoli fiasco), demonstrations of German flame throwers, and first use of tear gas shells. What I also find interesting (another example that trenchlife was generally very monotonous) was how very few casualties the battalion had until The Battle of the Somme. So few in fact that until April 1916 even other ranks casualties were recorded in the war diary by name!.

The procedure I've adopted for doing the transcripts is to call up the original pages in photoshop where I tweak up the contrast to enhance the writing ( which produces some strange colours!). I then print these out (two pages per A4 sheet) and read them aided by a magnifying glass to make my handwritten transcript. I circle words which are hard to read and then go back to them by zooming the photoshopped image on screen. I then check place names and spellings on maps. I also check officer's names against the army lists for the Border Regiment, and soldiers names in Spike's kendalpals site and CWGC .Obviously you can only find them if they were fatal casualties on that date ( or for named wounded, if they died later in the war, but in that case you have to be certain that it is the same man ). I also use CWGC to find unnamed casualties by just entering "Border Regiment" and the date of that diary entry to find which 8th Bn men were killed that day. I then type up the final version of the transcription. You will notice that I am being totally honest about entries which I cannot read, and am not making guesses. e.g. I have left "[???king] parties" - obviously "working parties", in brackets with question marks because it is not legible on the original. An extreme example, but an indication that if I cannot read it I am not making wild assumptions.

Inspired by Spikes idea I am interspersing personal details about named individuals in italics and square brackets.

I reckon I'm almost a third of the way through now, I'll keep at it, Paul

P.S. Rather poignantly I pass the homes of some of the named men ( e.g. William Ellis Jones of Ferney Green died 30/12/15) almost every day as my part of Kendal - Windermere Road/Burneside Road/Fellside , was a prime recruiting area for 8th Border in 1914. The closest one to my house lived about 200 yards away on Windermere Road- Serjeant Walter Dixon (not named individually on the diaries as he was killed between 3-5 July 1916 - one of the mass casualties during the battalion’s opening action of the Somme). He was the great uncle of another forum member “Peter the Elder” of Canada.
User avatar
plbramham
General
General
 
Posts: 1369
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 9:49 pm
Location: kendal

Re: War diary transcript Sept/Oct 1915 - 8th go to war

Postby kerchi » Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:48 am

Sounds like a lot of work; I certainly wasn't that thorough. You have the patience of a saint. I am trying to keep up with you when adding them to the wiki.

I totally agree though that reading about the routine and the monotony of everyday trench life opens your eyes to what it must have been like.....and then come the shells, the MG and sniper bullets, dead comrades, strewn body parts, mud and filth, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, rats, dysentry and horrendous weather and then you realise that unless you have been in the same or similar situation you will never know what it must have been like, truly horrifying.
In memory of John Bardgett (15309 L/Cpl.), 11th Border Regiment who died 1st July 1916.

Any problems, comments or questions about the forum? Contact me at: admin@border-regiment-forum.com
User avatar
kerchi
Field-Marshal
Field-Marshal
 
Posts: 2160
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 5:36 pm
Location: Padfield, Derbyshire


Return to 8th Border Regiment War Diary

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

About Us

The Border Regiment Forum is a small and friendly community for anyone with an interest in the British regiment throughout its long and colourful history. The forum was set up first and foremost to bring together those with an interest and passion in the Regiment; to ask questions, share stories, provide knowledge and post photos relating to the regiment during the various conflicts and peacetimes it bore witness to.

  -  Cumbria's Museum of Military Life
  -  5th Border Regiment War Grave Project and Roll of Honour
  -  7th Border Regiment War Grave Project and Roll of Honour
  -  8th Border Regiment War Grave Project and Roll of Honour
  -  11th Border Regiment (Lonsdale) War Grave Project