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Royal Garrison Artillery

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1914 entries

6 - 9 September

10 - 15 September




35th Heavy Battery R.G.A. (aged 27 at time of writing)


THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 10th  (this is the date which HGP wrote in his diary)

This was quite a "gala" day for the "Heavies". About 4.30 a.m. we were starting to wake up when a frantic message came to know why we were not starting. Major disclaimed all knowledge of having received orders, but orderly swore positively he had woken Major up at 2 a.m. and had seen him read the order and put it in his lefthand top pocket. On examination it was discovered there. Major must have been so tired that he never woke up properly as he really had not the slightest recollection of having received the order.

Anyhow, the order was for one section of the battery to march with the Advanced Guard - quite a new place for a 60 pounder (at last they are starting to realize our merits!) (They have since realised it very much more - Nov 3).

I got the order to take my section; my men rose to the occasion well and we got off in record time and by a little "bluff" got an infantry battalion out of the way and got to our place in the advanced guard just in time. We marched via Caupru - Marigny - Hussiars. The 3rd Division was marching parallel to us on our left. When we got to Hussiars a good deal of firing started on our left front and infantry were pushed up. Very soon we got the order to go up and we went up a steep hill into the village of Hautevennes under shell and rifle fire (the shells I'm afraid were very like English ones). The reason being that a lot of Germans had been surprised between the two divisions and both divisions were firing into them from either side. Some of the shells came right over us, eventually about 500 prisoners were taken.

We came into action just east of the village did some good work at about 7,000 yards on a German column trekking like blazes. We hurried them up all right and knocked out several vehicles. Later on in the afternoon the whole battery advanced to near Counticouat, south of Hennes and went into action to shell the village of Chouy, which an aeroplane had reported to be blocked with German transport. Left section put a dozen rounds of Lyddite and some shrapnel into the place. An aeroplane went to observe our fire, but we never got any report on it. Right section went off to a quiet corner and got rid of its Fuze 2, much to everybody&~039;s relief. We bivouacked for the night on the guns.

Day's march: 12 miles. Rounds: 49 shrapnel, 10 Lyddite.


FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 11th

Came out of action about 7 a.m. and joined column. Marched via Meully - Vichal - Breny - Culchy le Chateau. A slow, tiring march: my horse had been showing signs of "wear and tear" for some day's and I had foot slogged most of the marches recently. We went into bivouac about 1 p.m. in a large muddy field south east of Culchy. It poured with rain and we were all soaked to the skin. Made a large fire to try and cheer ourselves up, but spent a fairly uncomfortable night.

Day's march: 10 miles.


SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 12th

Moved out of bivouac about 7 a.m.. Had some difficulty at first owing to the heavy ground and a mistake in the road. Joined remainder of column south of Brugneux. March continued via Arcy - Quincy - Lime - Braine - Courcelles. Signs of a good deal of street fighting in Braine. March very slow all day as cavalry were engaged in front all day. Pitch dark night and pouring wet. Last part of march very bad - roads flooded and crowded with cavalry. Bivouacked in a mud heap, at Courcelles.

Day's march: 17 miles.


SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 13th

7 a.m. left bivouac and joined column on the road. Very steep hill out of Courcelles. Long halt on top. Cavalry and advanced guard engaged in valley in front. 11 a.m. ordered to come into action just north of "D"* of La Grande Rache. Good observation from left front of battery. Targets - infantry on hills across Aisme valley. Once, an extraordinary target appeared - a thick column of infantry. I think we got well into them. Battery went to "Section fire" and got rid of some ammunition (at least it seemed a lot at that time, but we have exceeded it since on several occasions). 128 shrapnel 10 lyddite. In addition all day, no reply from enemy - no casualties. Bivouacked on guns.

Day's March: 5 miles.

* Note: HGP is referring to a map which presumably accompanied his diary for the original reader. They were in action in the place on the map where the "d" of Grande is written. He uses this technique quite frequently to explain to his reader where they are.


MONDAY SEPTEMBER 14th

Joined column to continue march. Crossed River Aisne at Bourg and then went along tow path of canal. Several bridges had been blown up. By the time we had reached the cross roads by "L" of Neufachatel, there was a lot of shell fire and rifle fire close in front of us. Soon a general ?? was in progress. Battery came into action on the north west side of cross roads for want of a better place, but we could not do very much as observation was difficult.

Soon after coming into action, right section was ordered back to across river to take up position on ridge beyond Villarcy from where good observation was possible. This section came into action south of "G" in La Grande Roch. Left section remained in action and fired in direction of Braye. About midday an urgent order was received for the section to fire in direction of point 166 north of Chavenne as Germans were turning our left flank of Division. Switched quickly round and carried out rapid fire. Kept up till situation was relieved by cavalry and artillery from 1st Division. Both sections bivouacked on their guns. Left section had coal boxes falling pretty close all night.

Rounds fired: 78 shrapnel, 12 Lyddite.


TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 15th

At daybreak, left section was ordered to withdraw across the river and take up a position south of Vieil Arcy from where observation was possible over the greater part of the high ground across the river. Position taken up alongside position of Sunday 13th.

The battery stayed in this neighbourhood from this date till October 13th. I have kept no daily record of our target etc. but a summary with a sketch showing changes in position.

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