About Me

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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.

War Diary - November 1918

note. During the month, the general health of the Battalion was good, the prevailing disease being I.C.T

G.L. Pymm
Commanding 9th Bn. York & Lancaster Regt.

30th Billets and environs were cleaned during the day. The Commanding officer inspected Companies and Detachments.
29th The Battalion marched from MONTECCHIA de CROSARA to S. GIOVANNI, taking over billets from the 11th Bn. West Yorkshire Regiment.
28th The day was devoted to interior economy and football.
27th Two Companies practised an advance to-wards an objective (open warfare). The remaining companies were allotted baths.
26th Company and Platoon Drill, Physical drill and games were carried on during the morning. Football was played in the afternoon and a concert in the evening.
25th Battalion route march in the morning. Educational classes commenced.
Beginning to prepare for civilian life? BL
24th Church Services were held during the day.
23rd (Saturday) General holiday for the Battalion. A "victory" dinner was provided for the men. Football was played during the morning , and a concert held in the evening.
At last, some acknowledgment that there was something to celebrate!BL
22nd 'A' Coy fired practices on the rifle range. The remaining Companies carried out training during the morning.
Companies moved into billets vacated by the 8th Bn. York & Lancaster Regiment. Lt Col. S. D. Rumbold D.S.O., M.C. proceeded to take over command of Brigade. Major G.L. Pymm D.S.O., M.C. took over command of the Battalion.
20th Battalion route march in the morning. Football was played in the afternoon.
19th 'C' Coy fired practices on the rifle range. The remaining Companies did a route march during the morning.
18th Company parades during the morning. Football was played in the afternoon.
17th Brigade Church Service near RONCHE, being a special thanksgiving service for victory, conducted by the Rev T. F. James C.J.
The detail of the church service appears to have been added later - in smaller writing.BL
Company parades during the morning.
15th Inspection by the Commanding Officer. A football match was played in the afternoon.
14th The Battalion rested during the day.
13th The Battalion moved by march - route to MONTECCHIA du CROSARA.
12th The Battalion marched to TREVISO station, and entrained for TAVERNELLE at 1700 hours. Billets in TAVERNELLE were occupied for the night.
11th The Battalion marched to CASIER near TREVISO.
10th The battalion moved by march route to VASCON. The Corps Commander, Divisional and Brigade Commanders witnessed the recrossing of the PIAVE from the Bridge-head near PALAZZON.
9th The Battalion moved to billets in SARANO
8th The Battalion moved to billets in ORSAGO.
7th Battalion route march in the morning. A Brigade concert was held in the evening.
5th & 6th Recreational training was carried out in the morning. Football was played in the afternoon.
"Recreational training" ??? BL
4th The armistice with Austria came into force at 15.00 hrs. Billets and environs were improved. A Battalion Concert was held in the evening.
A simple matter-of-fact announcement that was of immense and life-changing importance to these men. No triumphant hyperbole, just a simple statement in the War Diary. I wonder how the men were told and what their reaction was.
It is hard to believe that the fighting is over and the men have to clean up the billets. (No it's not hard to believe, I did some time in the British Army.) BL

3rd Church Services were held in the morning. Football was played in the afternoon.
This is an extraordinary change in conditions. Very welcome. It would appear that the enemy had disappeared over the horizon! BL
2nd The battalion moved by march route to RORAI - pic near PORCIA arriving in billets at 1730 hrs.
Around 5 miles (8Km) progress in a day. Rather different to Flanders. BL
1st The Battalion occupied a line of posts in the N.E. outskirts of SACILE. The Austrians were reported to be retiring across the TAGLIAMENTO.
The Tagliamento river is some 20 miles (32 Km)to the East. Encouraging intelligence. BL


G. Tingey said...

The Austrians asked for an Armistice on November 2nd (Saturday), it was signed on the 3rd (Sunday) and became effective on Monday 4th.

Of course, there is still fighting going on in Belgium, but the Germans start asking for an armistice on the 4th, and the Allied troops on the Italian front will be needed for post-Armistice occupation of all of SW Austria.
So they will be busy, but NOT FIGHTING.

Hisrorical note:
The whole of Süd-Tirol was occupied and is still part of Italy today, though the spoken language there is German. Also the Western part of modern Austria proper, as far up as Innsbruck.

Plenty to do, before Harry and the lads can come home ....

Anonymous said...

Being a combat vet in the US Marines. I can understand some of the emotion Harry must feel at this point. being away form home is bad, but being away from home and having a chance of never seeing home agains is much worse. cleaning billets and other types of house cleaning chors are probably to keep idle hands busy, especially after what they have been through. GY Wilson.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the Battalion War Diary makes no mention of the armistace on the Western Front with Germany.

Chris said...

Why isn't the armistace at 11 on the 11th mentioned?

Anonymous said...

Yo may dfind this of interest http://www.john-dillon.co.uk/yorklancs/sgt__davenport.html

Janell said...

Why is Harry's Battalion still in Italy, practicing on the rifle range, route marching and playing football? Very strange. And why are there no letters from Harry? Is he sick or have they been lost? I would be frantic, if I didn't know that he does return home. Janell

Roger O'Keeffe said...

"Recreational training" is army speak for sports or any other activity which gives the lads a bit of time to take things easier, while making it clear that they are still in the army!

The term was still in use in the Irish Army right up to the 1980s, and it may well still be in use for those not "deployed" on operations, to use the 21st-century term. Every day had a full training programme for those not engaged in guard duty, patrols or "employed" - i.e. people like cooks, company clerks etc.

In normal garrison conditions in the Irish Army (which on its establishment after independence in 1922 was largely made up of former members of the British Army - first-world-war veterans and even old regulars who had served in India), Wednesday afternoon was always programmed for recreational training, i.e. sports, just like in school.

Now that Bill's Battalion has effectively reverted to peacetime conditions, you can be sure that "blanco and bullshit" will become a more prominent part of daily life for himself and his chums. This might seem unduly harsh for men who have been through what they have been through, but if you read Paul Fussell's "Band of Brothers", you will get an idea of how quickly an army can fall apart on the cessation of hostilities.

In answer to Janell, you have to bear in mind that the armistice of 4/11 was just an armistice, a temporary if substantial cease-fire pending negotiation of a final settlement: the allied armies had to be kept in an operational state until it became clear that especially Germany, but also Austria had collapsed. The French and British armies would go on to take up garrison duty in Germany, and elements of the British Army would go to Russia to get involved in the war against the Bolsheviks.

Roger O'Keeffe said...

On reflection, as the diarist makes a distinction between recreational training in the mornings and football in the afternoons, he may be using the term to gloss over the fact that the lads were simply allowed the morning off, especially if they had an opportunity to work up a hangover the night before.

Janell said...

Thanks to Roger O'Keefe for the detailed explanation of military thinking, or lack thereof. It is becoming obvious that Harry and his battalion will be serving in some post-war capacity. By the way, does anyone know how much WWI soldiers were paid or the mechanism of payment? Meanwhile, I imagine his family is wondering why he hasn't written since Nov. 4th. I certainly am.

Roger O'Keeffe said...

Correction: "Band of Brothers" is by Stephen E Ambrose.

Roger O'Keeffe said...

28th:"Interior economy", about which a question was asked on the main blog, is the official term for "housekeeping", i.e. general tidying up ("policing" in US parlance).

In this instance, it was probably programmed because the battalion was about to leave its current billets, and officers and NCOs in any self-respecting unit would make a point of handing over the billets in good, clean condition, since this is one of the issues on which a regiment's reputation would be built. The same is true, with even more force, of the condition of trenches and dugouts: you may have noticed in one of Harry's letters that some of the trenches that the battalion took over were judged to be in poor condition, and his battalion immediately set about improving them.

I may be over-interpreting, but I note that on the 30th the term used is "Billets and environs were cleaned", which may be a hint that the previous lot handed them over in a condition "not quite up to our standards" - it may have been true, or was possibly just a bit of one-upmanship. Armies thrive on a sense of competition.

By the way, while in normal English usage "billeting" means quartering troops in civilian homes, in British Army usage the "billets" are simply the soldiers' accommodation, whether barrack rooms or wooden huts.

Similarly "the lines" means the area around the billets. Originally it meant lines of tents, but the term is now still applied even to the paved areas between accommodation blocks in the most permanent of brick-built barracks.