Incessant

31st January 1915

The Dorsets remained billeted in Dranoutre for the day.

The 5th Division’s diary makes special note of the work that had been done on the trench system in front of Wulverghem after the destructive storms at the beginning of the month. The word it uses is incessant.

I’ve certainly found that I’ve been writing incessantly about trench digging and marching to and from billets this month. January 1915 is the first full month of a routine that would become familiar to troops on both sides of no man’s land all the way up to near the end of the war in 1918.

I would have liked to have expand upon how trenches were developed but I just haven’t had the time and for that I apologise. In fact there are many subjects I’ve touched upon over the last six months I would like to expand upon. If you are a regular reader of this blog (all three of you) then you’ll be relieved to know that my daily update is drawing to an end. After that, I will only be updating the site every couple of weeks. I will be revisiting those subjects I’ve touched upon in more detail and exploring new ones too. Subjects that continue to document the world of Frank and the Dorsets.

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Lamp batteries

 

30th January 1915

The Dorsets were relieved by the Cheshires. If the Dorsets were already in billets then there’s no explanation why they were relieved or what from exactly. A and D Company joined the battalion later at Dranouter so perhaps it was they who were relieved.

The 5th Division’s artillery busied itself by experimenting with lamp signalling. Royal Flying Corps aeroplanes would reveal the position of hidden enemy batteries using lamps back to Allied artillery. It was not very successful; there being too many variables for it to become an exact science. Wireless would prove to be the better solution, but at the moment the receivers were just too big to be of any real use.

The guns of  7th Siege Battery registered three direct hits on Messines Church tower. So much for just the Germans targeting civilian buildings.

 

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A bad moon rising

29th January 1915

The Dorsets remained in billets. A and D Company remained in the trenches. The 15th Brigade’s diary notes that they  made good progress today working on the trenches and that more wire was laid in front of them. A bright night, lit by a gibbous moon, led to “considerable sniping”.


I’ve missed a couple of things lately and so I apologise. Time is very, very limited at the moment. Firstly I missed a footnote which give us a bit more information about the fascinating Frederick Morley. I’ve added this detail as a comment to the 26th January post. Find out about his nickname and capacity for Anglo Saxon profantities.

I also missed a death yesterday and I’ll list it here to flesh out this post. Welshman Rees Harris, a former collier from Aberdare, was killed in action. There’s no record of how he met his death in the Dorsets’ diary; not even a mention, but the Norfolk’s diary entry records one death from sniping which could have been him. The only death from the Norfolks listed by CWGC for the 28th January was interred in Thame, Oxfordshire, so he presumably died of wounds at home.

Harris was attested into the 3rd Battalion Dorsets having served for 10 years in the Cardigan Royal Garrison Artillery Militia. He’d only arrived in France on the 4th December. Intriguingly he signed up with his age as 37 years and six months. The cut off for regular army was 38 and the Special Reserve was 40. He was 36 in 1911, according to the census, which made him 40 in 1915. It appears that Harris had told a little white lie to go to war. It wasn’t uncommon, but it was uncommonly brave. His mother, Martha, signed for his effects with the mark of a cross.

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Stuck with the Peacemakers and the Holy Boys

28th January 1915

Another quiet day ended with half the Dorsets going into reserve and marching to billets on the Lindenhoek-Neuve Église road at 8.30pm.

The other half of the Dorsets stayed behind in the trenches. Frank, with A Company, came under orders of the O.C. Bedfords, Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Roche, and pretty much stayed put. D Company, came under the orders of the O.C. Norfolks, Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert Done. D Company would have moved slightly north to D Sector and E1 (Trench 15d) which the 15th Brigade took over from the 3rd Division.

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Humdrum day

27th January 1915

The Dorsets enjoyed a quiet night, apart from a “burst of fire at 4am”. In the morning, some of the Bedfords came under the Dorset’s command, allowing most of D Company to move to the Battalion’s HQ, which was in a farm nearby.

II Corps O.C. Lieutenant General Sir Charles Fergusson visited the sector at 6pm, but other than that it was a fairly humdrum day spent making more improvements to the trenches.

 

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