Friday December 31 1915
Quite nice to be back again. Trip over to Westoutre.
Came in early but no sleep as the boys let the New Year in in somewhat boisterous fashion in our room.
From War Diaries of Brigadier Alexander Johnston:
Dec 31st 1915
At 11pm, the German midnight, we gave them a good New Years greeting by turning on every gun in the neighbourhood firing as hard as they could into their various dugouts.
Thursday December 30 1915
Relieved by Tomki, Dwyer and Bruvver. Rotten journey in a light spring. Bit of shelling to scare us.
Came through Ypres, just like a graveyard now.
Our horses got in barbed wire on the Lille Road and again we jammed with limber on Lille Bridge; nearly into moat.
Wednesday December 29 1915
Pretty quiet. A(lexander) C. J(ohnston) takes a trip over the Bluff at night with (Billy) Congreve.
We get relieved tomorrow. Merci.
From War Diaries of Alexander Johnston:
December 29th 1915
Another very enjoyable day and had a long walk round the trenches of the right Bn which are pretty good. The Bluff is a most excellent point from which one looks right down into the German trenches and the Huns can’t show themselves at all without our snipers having a good chance of getting at them. Had a long look at the German trenches and watched our Gunners shelling them with some effect, planks, bags etc being chucked in the air, and whistles the usual German signal for stretcher bearers, being heard.
Later no less than 14 of our aeroplanes passed over on a bombing expedition, which fairly roused the Germans, and they turned every gun in the neighbourhood on to them but without effect. Further on our aeroplanes could be seen circling round and dropping bombs on to some German rest billets I expect: one could hear the bombs exploding so they must have been pretty big ones. Eventually got back to Brigade HQ just in time as our guns commenced a fairly heavy bombardment of Hill 60 to which the Germans replied pretty heavily, and machine guns turned on them. We crawled about all over the place, had a look at all our wire, and saw the biggest mine crater I’ve ever seen. We have a bombing post there, and our miners are running a shaft round it in order to try and break into the German shaft which of course must have run into it in the first instance. Got back about midnight.
Tuesday December 28 1915
Mr Wright gone on leave again, third time in four months! Johnston takes his place here.
Monday December 27 1915
Fairly quiet till about midday when they properly straffed us. One HE straight into Pioneer’s place and bomb store. Two of the guards hit, one badly. Scamper for the dugout. Fearful racket from falling tiles. Several shells dropped just in rear failed to burst. Chronic ordeal waiting for them!
Again in afternoon, they violently shelled light railway in field at back and tore it up in places.
Col. Beresford Ash O(fficer) C(ommanding) 10th R(oyal) W(elsh) F(usiliers) wounded near HQ at night.
Very nervous today. Two letters from L(aura) together T(hank) G(od). Poor child still worried over that feline monstrosity M.
Sunday December 26 1915
Nice day. German aeroplanes busy.
Carried out violent bombardment of their lines in morning. They retaliated heavily on roads in rear. Shelled us with 10cm Universal.
One big percussion alongside barn. Others over us, fearful crashes. Badly frightened us. They also put 50 rounds of H(igh) E(xplosive) on light railway.
It will be S.O.S. presently unless we shift.
Christmas Day 1915
Fine day. Bombardment cancelled by order of Corps. Germans started shelling Ypres so our 8 inch carried out their programme. Quiet rest of day.
Germans in trenches singing.
Walked over to 9th Brigade Chateau and spent a pleasant evening with the boys there. Had a good supper with whiskey and champagne. Rawley badly “straffed”. I thought the verey lights rather numerous coming home.
Rather unique Xmas. Exciting journey home over the light railway sleepers!