Daily Archives: August 15, 2015

15 August 1915

Ypres

Sunday morning & we are still here, not yet shelled out.  It is a really peaceful morning, only very occasional gun-fire audible & not more than half a dozen shells over the town so far today.  Last night we had a most successful concert for the two Companies in one of the large rooms of this place.  Some artillery people were good enough to lend us a piano that they had previously looted from some shattered house, & from 6.30 to 8.30 we kept up an almost continuous noise.  We found several quite good vocalists, also some funny men who really were funny, & what is perhaps still more necessary, a first rate pianist who could accompany anybody at anything.  The piano is still here & all this morning we have had a mixed bag of comic songs, rag-time choruses & as it is Sunday a few hymns jostled in amongst the rest.  The other half battalion are observing the Sawbath somewhat more correctly as they have got the Padre with them – he will come to us tomorrow & we shall get Matins & a celebration, always supposing the Germans do not choose that hour for bombardment.

Today a tremendous packing case arrived from Harboro for the men of the half company who come from there.  Every man got a writing tablet & envelopes, a tin of sherbet powder, two khaki handkerchiefs, a card of bachelor buttons, & some tobacco & cigarettes.  Really a most stupendous package, & one which does great credit to the two ardent Harborians who have taken so much trouble in getting the stuff together.  There has been one sad accident.  The wash house got shelled the other day & I lost my washing in the general ruin.  The result is that my want column is now lengthened.

I see that todays paper talks about the possible evacuation of Petrograd, I suppose this doesn’t mean anything more that the evacuation of Paris at the beginning of the war.  Talking of Petrograd will you please discover whether anything momentous happened at the other place to which some of our relatives sometimes go ( it is pronounced Moorunia – how it is spelt I don’t know ) – on July 31st or Aug 1st because the name kept running through my head the whole of one of those days , I am not sure which.  It was very curious because I hadn’t seen the name & had no particular cause to think of it, but still I kept finding myself saying , or rather thinking, the word Moorunia.  I am not superstitious but I should first like to know.   Tomorrow night we are going off to the trenches again for six days, & then right back for our six days rest.  But I certainly must say that it has to be a good billet & good rest to rival the last six days which have been six of the very best.

My poetic effort has made quite an “impact” – The C.O. wants a copy & one of the men took the trouble to copy it out & send it home.

To The Slackers

August Bank Holiday 1915

In The Trenches


Five score men with shovel & pick,

We’re diggin’ for all we’re worth;

An’ its no soft job for the night is thick,

An’ it’s clammy clay-clogged earth.

We started at half-past nine last night,

We’ve got to dig till two –

This is our way on Bank Holiday,

Is it the way with you?

All through the night we’re here to dig.

With a ten minute rest each hour:

We cannot shirk, we’ve got to work,

Though the pouring pelting shower.

While the bits of lead whine over head

Every minute or two—

This is our way on Bank Holiday

Is it the way with you?


At two o’clock we’re back again

To a rain sopped  * “chatty” bed;

With a couple of sandbags round our feet,

And a haversack under our head.

Above us, a beam & a few old sacks,

An’ the rain-drops dripping through-

This is our way on Bank Holiday

Is it the way with you?


The ration of rum’s too small to taste,

Our bread’s been packed with the coke;

We’re not allowed to build a fire,

For fear they’d see the smoke.

We’re cold & wet, but cheerful yet,

We’re a damp but careless crew

This is our way on Bank Holiday

Is it the way with you?


There’s a rifle to clean, An’ we’ve got no rag,

The gauze on the pull-thro’s worn

There’s a wash to get, an’ clothes to patch

There’s most of our trousers torn.

An’ the day seems long, ay, terribly long, With nothin’ else to do-

This is our way on Bank Holiday,

Is it the same with you?


A whistle, a whir, a deafenin’ crash,

The crack of a shell split tree,

A cry, a shout, the stretcher’s out – “Is it Blighty or R.I.P.?

Shrapnel, they send them now and then

In the hope of catching a few-

This is our way on Bank Holiday,

Is it the same with you?


At half past nine we’re off again

To dig in the same old ditch

At half past nine on come the rain

And the night’s as dark as pitch.

And so we end as we began, Diggin’ from ten till two-

This is our way on Bank Holiday,

Is it the same with you?


*Note- a “chat” is Mr Atkins’ word for the unauthorised inhabitant of his clothing, sometimes found on service

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