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Born in August 1887 in Awsworth Notts, to Henry and Sarah Lamin. Elder Sisters Catherine (Kate), Mary Esther and Sarah Anne(Annie) and Elder brother John (Jack). Educated at Awsworth Board School, just outside Ilkeston, Derbyshire, England. I served with honour in the 9th Battalion York & Lancaster Regiment seeing front line action in Flanders and Northern Italy from the end of 1916 to January 1920.

September 1917

WIPPENHOEK
1st & 2nd
Batt under canvas in WIPPENHOEK AREA k30 c3.0
3rd
Left 8 a.m. for NORTPEENE AREA by march - route through STEENVORDE, OXELERE, BAYINCHOVE. Arrived in billets at OOSTHOEK at 6 p.m.
4th -11th
Batt at OOSTHOEK training was carried out which included bombing, musketry, bayonet fighting, practice formations for the attack & flag courses. Coy drill etc. Special training on 7th- & 10th.
12th
Moved to LUYTPENE area at 2.15 pm. arr 5 pm.
13th
11 am STEENVORDE area (east) arrived billets 5.30 pm
14th Moved 6 am to DICKEBUSCH area; arrived camp 3 pm.
15th Relieved 8th BUFFS in rt subsector of divl front; relief complete about 7 pm. dispositions Bn HQ, C Coy & D Coy in HEDGE ST TUNNELS, B Coy on left in JAM SUPPORT. A Coy on right in BODMIN COPSE.
17th/18th Relieved by 15th HANTS + 8th KOYLI: Batt moved to RAILWAY DUGOUTS & became batt in reserve: afternoon of 18th to No 1 DICKEBUSCH area.
19th Moved from camp at 9.45 pm to BEDFORD HOUSE being "A" Battn of Reserve Brigade.
20th ATTACK DAY: at zero hour, 5.40 am A Coy lost 22 killed & wounded. 3 Coys & Batt H Q went into tunnels. 1 Coy in trenches on top: about 1 P.M. C Coy (Harry's Company) went forward to reinforce 68th Bde and dug in in rear of BLUE LINE nr JASPER TRENCH: 4.30 Batt ordered to relieve10th N.Fs in BLUE LINE: 5.45 pm to 7 pm terrific shelling: releif complete 10 pm.
20th -21st night Coys digging the whole night & by morning all coys had a continuous line of trench: B Coy formed defensive flank from right of 13th D.L.I. to left of 41st Div.
21st Very heavy shelling throughout the day. 6.30 p.m. Enemy counter- attack: C Coy moved forward to strengthen B Coy: Enemy did not reach our lines.
22nd Very misty morning: enemy shelling heavy especially near Batt H.Q; continual enemy sniping from TOWER HAMLETS. 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. hurricane bombardment of our supports & defensive flank.
23rd misty: protective barrage 5.30 am. heavy bursts of enemy artillery throughout the day.
24th Protective barrage in early morning: heavy enemy shelling 5.15 a.m. to 7 a.m: 6 p.m to 7.30 p.m.
24th - 25th night relieved by 11th SUSSEX: relief complete 8.45 p.m. Enemy got to know of our relief and shelled heavily. Casualties during tour: Officers, killed 1, wnd 7: O.R's killed 22 wounded 83, missing 4.
25th
Batt at CHIPPAWA CAMP cleaning, reorganising etc
26th Inspection by Divisional General.
27th Proceeded to RIDGE WOOD, arr 5 pm.
28th 10.00 am to BEDFORD HOUSE. 8.30 pm ordered to relieve 8th KOYLI in front line.
29th relief complete about 10 pm: took over right sector, right Brigade: relief slightly delayed by shelling. DISPOSITIONS: front line C Coy: close support A Coy less 2 platoons: counter-attack coy, D Coy: Batt reserve, 2 platoons A Coy & 2 plats B Coy: Gen reserve, B Coy less 2 platoons.
30th About 4 am very thick mist; 4.30 am intense bombardment helped on with minewerfers & smoke bombs: 5.15 am enemy discovered in large numbers advancing against our trench especially on our right: mist still very thick: enemy used bombs and flammerwerfer. Heavy fire with rifles, Lewis machine guns and bombs was opened on them & none reached our trench: S.O.S. sent up but was not seen at Batt H.Q. owing to mist: an orderly arrived with the first news at 7.20 am. About 6 am enemy again attacked but was driven off: took 2 prisoners, 1 flammenwerfer & a machine gun: 60 or 70 dead were left in front of our trenches: the attack was repulsed entirely with the fire of the infantry: the artillery did not barrage our front: a wire fence, put up during the previous night by a pioneer battn helped greatly to impede the enemy. A short barrage was put down on our lines at 10 am: the remainder of the day was normal

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3 comments:

Roger O'Keeffe said...

A few comments on the entry for the 30th.

English-speakers often misuse the word “barrage” to refer to an artillery bombardment, but the diary makes a distinction between the two – a distinction particularly relevant to trench warfare. A bombardment is intended to destroy the target and its occupants, whereas a barrage (French tir de barrage) is intended to prevent movement. In this case, where the diarist writes “the artillery did not barrage our front” he is complaining that the British artillery did not put down a screen of fire in front of the Battalion's lines to stop the German advance. The battalion was left to defend itself with just its own rifle and machine-gun fire because Battalion headquarters in the rear had not seen the SOS due to the morning mist and therefore failed to telephone the artillery for support: it wasn't till 7:30 that a messenger (orderly) made it back a few miles on foot to inform HQ.

The SOS was an emergency signal in the form of a succession of Very lights (flares fired from a pistol) in a fixed series of colours, fired by the infantry as an urgent request for artillery fire on a prearranged line just in front of their own trenches in the event of an enemy attack.

The barrage put down on the British lines at 10 am was, I imagine, a German barrage designed to prevent the British from counter-attacking, or it may have been to cover the reinforcement or relief of the unit which had unsuccessfully attacked and taken heavy casualties.

A “creeping barrage” was used in the attack to shield advancing troops – artillery fire would be aimed to land in a line just in front of them, and the elevation of the guns would be constantly adjusted so that this impact line would move forward at a prearranged rate so as to continue to fall just in front of the advancing troops. Once the attackers had occupied their objective – typically a line of trenches which would have been separately bombarded - the barrage might be laid down beyond that line to prevent the enemy from moving up reinforcements or launching a counter-attack.

Flammenwerfer is the German word for a flame-thrower, and it's interesting that the German word is used by the diarist without the need for any explanation.

A Minenwerfer (literally mine thrower) is a German heavy trench mortar (nicknamed a “moaning Minnie”). It fired a very large projectile over a fairly short range, and was dreaded because the projectile could be seen flying through the air and did considerable damage on impact.

“Bombs” are hand grenades. They were one of the most useful weapons in trench warfare, and were very widely used in all infantry battalions – designated soldiers would carry a canvas bucket full of them or a sleeveless jerkin covered with grenade-sized pockets (from memory, I think that this was the original meaning of the term “bomber jacket”, though I can't find a source to prove this): these soldiers were originally called grenadiers until the British Grenadiers objected to this prestigious title being used by inferior regiments (never mind the fact that by this time most of the soldiers in a Grenadier battlion would be riflemen!), so grenadiers became “bombers” and grenades became “bombs”.

Roger O'Keeffe said...

4th-11th

The word "musketry" might seem odd to some readers in the context of the first world war.

In British Army training terminology, "rifle marksmanship" refers to learning how to shoot accurately, whereas "musketry" is about understanding the tactical use of the rifle in the field.

Roger O'Keeffe said...

20th to 24th

Quite a lot going on. The battalion takes part in an attack, behind 10th NF (10th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers) which it then relieves in the front line. It seems as if it lost 22 killed immediately on going over the top (zero hour), but only one more fatality during its five days in the front line.

Blue line seems to be the objective of its attack, and it digs in into a new trench system along that line and then moves into the front line and holds the position for four days until relieved, relying mainly on artillery to protect it from German counter-attack.

It spends the night of 20th to 21st consolidating its position – turning bits of captured enemy trench, shell holes etc. into a continuous trench line, with a fire step and new barbed wire on the side facing the enemy.

Note that on several misty mornings it calls for a barrage in front of its position to as a precaution against a dawn attack.

The “hurricane bombardment” is a short period of intense enemy artillery fire intended to create the expectation that the Germans are about to counter-attack, and thus to keep the British, who are occupying their recently-captured position, on edge and guessing about the time and place of the real counter-attack.

The Northumberland Fusiliers (from the industrial North-East of England) included about a dozen battalions of “Tyneside Irish” and “Tyneside Scots” - these pals' battalions were so named to generate competition between the local communities of Irish and Scottish immigrants to see who could raise the most troops for Kitchener's New Armies.

DLI: Durham Light Infantry

KOYLI: King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. My father was born in Dublin in 1904, when it was still a British garrison town. No offence to any Yorkshireman reading this, but he once told me that, when he was a young man, years after Irish independence and the departure of the British army, “KOYLI” was still shouted as a term of abuse by Dublin football supporters at any player who kicked into touch to escape a tackle!