The Diary

 

Of

 

240522 Sergeant

George Potter Bagshaw M.M.

 

1/6th Sherwood Foresters

 

 

25th February 1915 – 29th May 1915

 

 

 

This diary is released by G I Bagshaw for information only and is to be treated as disclosed in confidence. The recipient shall use its best endeavours to ensure that this information is not dealt with in any manner likely to prejudice the rights of any owner thereof to obtain copyright or other statutory protection thereof.

 

Modern Map of the Area mentioned in this Diary

 

 


25th February 1915

 

We fell in at Braintree at 1 – 30 a.m. On parade till 4 – 50 a.m. when we entrained for Southampton. In the meanwhile the transport were loading half a Battalion on each train. We arrived at Southampton at 10 – 00 a.m. Very cold in the train. We went straight on the docks by train and from the docks right on the ship ‘Maidou'. We were on the ship all day setting sail at 5 – 00 p.m. The ship was manned by Lascars. No 8 Platoon was on guard all night in the fore part of the ship watching for Aeroplanes and Submarines. We were well guarded all the way, having a Minesweeper in front and a Destroyer on each side of the vessel followed by other Destroyers and transports. It was a lovely night and as we left Southampton the searchlight was thrown on us and a voice came over the sea through a siren wishing us ‘Good Luck’.

 

 

26th February 1915

 

We arrived at Harvre about 3 – 00 a.m. after an uneventful night. At Harvre they had a revolving searchlight which lit the bay up for miles. We disembarked at 9 – 00 a.m. We went into a shed on the side of the docks, staying there until next morning. We were not allowed to go out. We had nothing else only biscuits, bully beef and cheese. There was a good YMCA there. While we were there the 4th Black Watch marched into camp just outside Harvre. In the afternoon we had our fur coats issued out to us which came in very handy at night as we slept on the floor.

 

In the afternoon we had our fur coats issued (centre back row).

 

 

27th February 1915

 

We were up at 2 – 30 a.m. and marched on to the dock station. B Company were the fatigue party for the loading. There were only cattle trucks for the men. The whole Battalion and transport were on one train. We left Harve at 6 – 00 a.m. The railway went through the streets of Harve. There were 43 men in the truck that I was in. The train was rather slow, in some places men could jump off the train, run after it and jump in again. At night when we tried to sleep we were in a very cramped condition. On our way we passed Rouen and I saw Gartsides by the side of the line, it made me wish that I was going there instead of where I was.

 

 

28th February 1915

 

We arrived at Cassel station about 3 – 00 a.m., but we did not detrain while 6 – 00 a.m. We then had to march about 6 miles to Terdeghen where we were billeted in a barn. About two miles from here at Cassel was where the British stopped the retreat from Mons. As you walk along the roads and see the graves dotted here and there of men that have fallen it makes you think of the homes made desolate in England. Everybody must be in bed by 8 – 00 p.m. and when walking out you must have rifle and ammunition.

 

 

1st March 1915

 

We were doing platoon drill. Could here the artillery going all night and also see the German rockets going up in the distance. On billet guard all night.

 

 

2nd March 1915

 

Went on stretcher drill. We had nothing only biscuits and bully beef until now so I bought some bread with the last money that I had.

 

 

3rd March 1915

 

Stretcher drill. Rained very hard all day. Toothache very bad all week. Getting rather anxious as to what is happening at home. Wrote letters every day and found out that none of them had gone.

 

 

4th March 1915

 

We were inspected by Smith-Dorien (General).

Reveille at 6 – 00 a.m. Left Tereghem at 8 – 00 a.m. Marched two miles, went by motorbus to Bailleul and then marched seven miles to a farm near Nieppe. Never had such a march in my life, what with cobblestones and mud – awful. The mud was up to the knees in some places. When we got there we were all tired out and to crown it all B Company was made line piquet for 24 hours. That is, have your equipment on all the time and be ready for anything. All night the artillery was firing and one shell dropped about 100 yards from our barn. Ready for home any time. Here we got one slice of bread besides the biscuits.

 

 

 

 

5th March 1915

 

Line piquet all day. Never seen as much mud in my life. There was a grave nearby with about 75 N.C.O.’s and men buried in it.

 

 

6th March 1915

 

Knocking about all day until 4 o’clock when we went into the trenches at Ploegsteert Wood. This is in Belgium. It was about three miles from where we were billeted. The wood is a wonderful place, all pathways made through by the Engineers, just like a town. In the trenches, which are made of sand bags there are dug outs which the men have their meals in and sleep in. Each dug out has a separate name such as ‘Hotel de Rochart’, ‘Castle Dase’ etc. I was put in charge of a trench where there were about seven regulars and five terriers. I felt rather nervous, but that soon wore off. During the night I went with the Sergeant to the listening patrol, which is about 60 yards from the German trenches. We could see the Germans working on their wire entanglements. The Germans kept sending up rockets lighting everything up everywhere, making us keep our heads down because of the snipers who are always on the lookout. As you go between the trenches you come across dead Germans, some having laid there for a week or two.

 

 

7th March 1915

 

It is a Sunday. What a Sunday – one never to be forgotten. We had the order at 5 – 00 a.m. to stand by. We stood for an hour and then we began to fill sand bags to strengthen the trenches. As you passed certain places a bullet would come whizzing past your head into a tree nearby. That place would be marked by a sniper, and had you stopped just in that place it would have meant that you would receive that bullet. Soon after breakfast word came ‘Stretcher bearers wanted’, a man had got killed with a sniper just behind us. He had been out since August. Hard lines. Half an hour after being killed he was buried. All the men worked just as though they were in ordinary times. After dinner the order came down the line ‘At 3 – 30 p.m. the artillery on the left will begin to bombard the German trenches, be ready for attack if necessary’. Exact to the minute the artillery began. What with the noise of the artillery, maxims and rifle it was something never to be forgotten. When filling sandbags it was a common occurrence to put your shovel into a dead German. In this wood on the 19th of December there were 2000 casualties when the English drove the Germans out of the wood. We left the trenches about 4 – 30. On our way through the wood we passed the English burial ground. It is a piece of ground railed round, full of graves with wooden crosses over the graves, all the graves being well cared for. A sight once seen never forgotten. On our way back to our billet we passed many graves by the road side. In the village of Ploegsteert, which is just behind the wood, there were many houses wrecked by shell fire, the church in particular. The roads here are in an awful state, for where the shells drop it leaves a great hole and you can’t tell there is a hole there because it is full of mud. When you drop up to the knees in mud you feel inclined to swear. We got back to our billets about 6 o’clock for a meal of bully beef and biscuits.

 


8th March 1915

 

Reveille 5 – 30 a.m. Went to wash us in a ditch nearby. The water was frozen over. We had to break the ice before we could wash (rather parky). We fell in at 7 – 30 a.m. to go as a fatigue party for the Engineers at Ploegsteert Wood. We were working just behind the firing line making corduroy paths. These paths have all sorts of names ‘Bunhill Row etc. Plans are drawn of these paths just as though it was a town. All the time we were working there, stray bullets would come and shells would go whistling through the trees. C Company were doing their turn in the trenches that day. In the middle of the morning we got the news that Lance Corporal Redfern had been shot through the heart by a sniper. They buried him half an hour later in the cemetery in the wood. We went for a walk in the morning in the wood, we saw something in a ditch. We touched it with a stick and there it was  - a dead German. We left at 1 o’clock for our billet. In Ploegsteert wood the Somerset Light Infantry and Rifle Brigade were stationed. When we arrived back to our barn we had orders to pack up so as to be off next morning. We received our first mail in France here.

 

 

9th March 1915

 

Reveille 5 – 30 a.m. Left the barn at 8 – 00 a.m. Marched to Outtersteene, a distance of about eleven miles, going through Bailleul. We got a very good billet in an empty house, which was in charge of a Belgian refugee. Guarded by aeroplanes all the way.

 

 

10th March 1915

 

Standing by all day waiting for orders. As you pass through Nieppe, which is just in Belgium, it was a pity to see the sorrowful looks on womens faces.

 

 

11th March 1915

 

Standing by until 10 – 30 when we got sudden order to move. We were going by 11 – 30. We marched sixteen miles through Estaires to Bac St Maur. Here we were billeted in a weaving shed. I slept under a warping machine. At this place we were local reserves to the 1st Army Corps under General Haig. Big battle going on at Neuve Chappelle.

 

 

12th March 1915

 

We were standing by all day. At night we could see an artillery duel in the distance. Part of the mill here has been used as an ammunition stores by the Germans. The English had blown it up. I never saw iron twisted as much in my life. On this day the Notts and Derby Brigade was attached to a Cavalry Division commanded by General Gough. Nearby was a big naval gun 15.7 inches. Shook the whole factory when fired. Aeroplanes flying in all directions.

 


13th March 1915

 

Standing by till 2 o’clock when we got orders to move. Marched about eight miles to Neuf Berquin. Marched past General Gough on our way. Slept in an outhouse all night. Very comfortable.

 

 

14th March 1915

 

Church Parade 9 – 30 a.m., held in a field. In the afternoon we moved two kilometres to a small farm.

 

 

15th March 1915

 

Route march, about 12 miles. In the afternoon did our washing.

 

 

16th March 1915

 

Reveille 6 – 00 a.m. Fell in at 8 – 10 a.m. for route march. Went about fifteen miles. In the afternoon we had our first pay – 10 francs. Everybody made a rush for bread. Bread 1 frank per loaf. Bread here baked in baskets.

 

 

17th March 1915

 

In the morning we had a route march of twelve miles. After dinner we moved our billets back into the village were we slept in a loft over a cow shed. The surprising thing on our route marches was to see how many churches had been hit by shells. In the village where we are the Germans had a machine gun in the church steeple. The British shelled it causing considerable damage to the Church. As you walk along the street you can see where shrapnel bullets have hit, going through windows and doors or knocking pieces out of the brick. A number of Indians came into the neighbourhood. Novel sight to see them with their turbans. Musselmen.

 

 

18th March 1915

 

We had a route march of about eleven miles.

 

 

19th March 1915

 

When we got up ground covered with snow. Fell in at 8 – 15 a.m. was out two hours when we had to come back because it snowed so very hard. Brigade field day. Bitter cold all day, up all night with sick man.

 


20th March 1915

 

We were inspected by Colonel Goodman at 11 o’clock. German aeroplane drops bombs on Estaires, but is fetched down by shells.

 

The Officers

 

 

21st March 1915

 

We had a church parade, during service many aeroplanes up which were being shelled towards Estaires. Very warm day. Aeroplanes flying about all day.

 

 

22nd March 1915

 

Brigade fell in at 8 – 30 a.m. for field operations. Stretcher bearers fell in for ambulance lectures. Lovely weather, could hear the distant boom of guns.

 

 

23rd March 1915

 

Battalion fell in at 9-00 a.m. for field operations watched by General Gough. Stretcher bearers fell in for lecture at 11 – 30 a.m.

 


24th March 1915

 

Reveille at 5 – 00 a.m., Breakfast at 6 – 00 a.m. Moved at 8 – 30 a.m. about two miles into fresh billets.  Fell in at 5 – 00 p.m. to watch the 1st Sherwoods in, who were coming in for a rest from the trenches. It was a pathetic sight to see soldiers coming in tired out. Ges Barnes and Joe Bennett was among them and it was a touching sight to see Ges Barnes break down in tears when he saw all his companions from Whaley Bridge. Many of the men met brothers who they hadn’t seen for years. Some of the men had beards two or three inches long. They all looked ready for a rest.

 

 

25th March 1915

 

The battalion went out trenching. I got a pass to go down to Neuf Berquin to see the Sherwood Foresters go. Had a chat with Ges Barnes and Joe Bennet, they had many tales to tell of what they had seen. They marched off at 4 – 30 with our band.

 

 

26th March 1915

 

Battalion went for a route march while we had a lecture on ambulance, and we drew 10 Francs.

 

Stretcher Bearers (Middle row seated, second from right).

 

 

27th March 1915

 

Battalion went for a route march. We had a lecture on first aid. In the morning we could see four aeroplanes being shelled in the distance. Rather a pretty sight to see the shells bursting over the aeroplanes. Do not know whether any damage was done. I had a bath all over at night and a clean change.

28th March 1915

 

Church parade in the morning.

 

 

29th March 1915

 

Battalion went out in Brigade trenches. We had lectures on first aid and sanitation.

 

 

30th March 1915

 

Battalion on route march. Lectures on ambulance and sanitation. In the afternoon did our washing.

 

 

31st March 1915

 

Battalion on tactical exercise. Lecture on first aid. Every day this week aeroplanes being shelled.

 

 

1st April 1915

 

Battalion went out on tactical exercises, strecher bearers with them. In the afternoon B Company went to fill the Brigade trenches ready for moving. Attached to North Midland Division in future.

 

 

2nd April 1915

 

GOOD FRIDAY Church parade at 8 – 40 a.m. Early dinner. Moved at 12 – 30. Marched four miles to Outtersteene back to our old billet, the woman pleased to see us back. Stayed there all night, empty house, very comfortable.

 

 

3rd April 1915

 

Left Outtersteene after one or two inspections at 2 o’clock and marched to Bailleul. Arrived about 3 – 30. First time we had been billeted in a town. Rather a dirty place. We saw a number of prisoners being taken under escort to Havre. Had a walk round the town at night. Went in the church. One of the most beautiful Churches I have been in. Our billet was in a warehouse – Rue de Jardine.

 

 

4th April 1915

 

EASTER SUNDAY I had one of the best breakfasts that I have had in France – eggs and bacon. After breakfast saw them bring two spies in, also saw wounded coming in. Church parade.

 

 

 

5th April 1915

 

We left Bailleul at 9 – 30 a.m. for Loker, which is just behind the firing line. On our march we saw a New Mills man who is in the Royal Engineers. While in Bailleul we saw two or three that we knew who were in the Cheshires. On our way we passed an Aerodrome. We got our billets on the top of a hill near a windmill. We could see for miles around. We could see Ypres in the distance. It was a pretty sight to see the country round and it seemed a pity that it should be devastated by war. At night as you stood on the hilltop you could see our artillery firing and you could see the shells bursting over the German trenches. You could also see the Germans firing from just beneath their observation tower. It was a pretty sight to see the German star shells bursting over our trenches. Royal Garrison Artillery was quite near us. Just behind there was a 15 inch Navel gun which has done a great deal of damage. C and D Company went out on fatigues to our trenches, not a very pleasant experience. The 8th Battalion went in Saturday night and have lost so far  - one killed and four wounded. Rained very hard all night. Our billet was a loft on the top of a pigsty, not a very pleasant smell. You could see the sky through the roof and there were holes in the floor.

 

 

6th April 1915

 

Nothing else but inspections all day. In the morning we had a look through the windmill while it was working. Rained very hard at night.

 

 

7th April 1915

 

We were having one or two inspections and preparing for the trenches all day for at night we are to relieve the 8th out of the trenches. Stretcher bearers had their rifles and ammunition taken off them. At 7 – 45 we fell in to go to the trenches at Kemmel. We marched to Kemmel, which is about four miles from Loker. From Kemmel we marched to the trenches by platoon. Here there is about 2000 yards of open country, which is swept by fire all night long. As you march along you come to Jack Johnson holes in the road, which could easily bury two or three horses, first one then another tumbling in them with it being so dark. When the star shells go up, which are very bright, everybody has to lie down wherever they are. We took H2, 3 and 4 trench. We were very lucky to get up without casualties. On our left are the Royal Scots. On the right were C Company of our Battalion, A Company being in reserve. All the men were put to their posts and then they began to find their dugouts, which were not very good.

 

 

8th April 1915

 

The men work in turns at sentry and then on fatigue work, getting a rest when they can. At 9 o’clock a thrill went through all the men down the line as it was passed down the line ‘Stretcher bearer wanted’. When I got there it was G. W. Wilkinson of Disley. He was quite dead being shot through the head by a sniper. I laid him out and put him on side until night when a bearer party from Kemmel came for him. He was buried in the dark in the Churchyard getting a proper burial. Just by his side is Private Ward of the Liverpool Scottish from Chapel who was killed Dec. 23rd 1914. It made an impression all down the line for a time. Just about dinnertime the fun began, the Germans began sending us a few Jack Johnsons over. They sent us about fourteen shells altogether, but none of them dropped in the trench. They were all well away behind. In the morning two of our men had a remarkable escape from being shot. A man was taking his sight to shoot at a German sniper when a shot came knocking his sight protector off hitting one of the men behind the ear with his guard. The other man getting the bullet through his cloths on his back, and just grazing his back leaving a very slight wound. Everything went on as usual after this except for minor incidents. After the fatal accident the men were not so ready at putting their heads over the parapet. They used the telescope, which is a very handy thing in the trenches.

 

 

9th April 1915

 

The men kept on with their fatigues and sentries until dinnertime. It was a remarkable thing how the men got used to their conditions in the trenches, getting their own meals ready, boiling their own tea and taking things just as they come. At dinnertime the Germans began to shell us, the first shell dropping in C Company’s trench on our right killing four men and wounding one. You could see the men going up in the air – an awful sight to witness. After that we began to have the shells just behind our trenches. It was a funny sensation to hear the guns boom in the distance and to know that the shells were for you. You could here the shells coming through the air and when they dropped they lifted the mud and dirt all over the place. The men crouched in the trenches wondering whether the next shell would be for them. It was something the men will never forget as long as they live. We had twentyeight shells altogether, two of them not exploding. One of the shells caught a heap of turnips just behind our trench lifting some of them into the trench enough to make anyone think that it was their last day. When our artillery began to return their shellfire the Germans soon gave over for they cannot stand Jesse Willards. Everything went on as usual after they had done. The rations are brought up at night as nobody could pass during the day. They are brought up in bags by fatigue parties. There was a great scarcity of water and at the finish they used water out of Jack Johnson holes at the back of the trench for boiling tea.

 

 

10th April 1915

 

Everything went on as usual all day except for about sixteen shells about dinnertime, which did no damage. At night they would send a listening patrol out to see that the Germans did no sapping. They also send men out to mend the wire entanglements and to mend the parapet, which may have been damaged by shell fire. At night I had just got in my dugout and got to sleep when I was fetched out to go to one of the fatigue party who had been wounded. He had been shot by a spent bullet and if he hadn’t had so many clothes on he would have had the bullet inside whereas it only just stuck in him.

 

 

11th April 1915

 

My birthday, which I was spending in the trenches. Nothing unusual happened. The men just cleaned the trenches up ready to be relieved by the 8th Battalion at night. In the afternoon there were a good many aeroplanes up which were being shelled by both sides, there being both German and Allied aeroplanes up. At 10 o’clock we were relieved by the 8th Battalion. We had a job to get through to Kemmel but we managed it without any casualties. Just before we were relieved the Scots began to give them rapid fire and then the Germans put their trench mortars on. They make a big noise but are not very effective. When I got to the dressing station with my report there were several wounded in. Oh what a birthday! While in the trenches we had nothing but biscuits and bully beef etc, but there was plenty of it.

 

 

12th April 1915

 

We arrived at our billet at Loker about 2 – 30, everybody completely fed up and ready for bed. They had a cup of soup ready for us and then we were soon asleep. We wakened for breakfast at 11 – 30. We did look a warm lot for the majority of the men hadn’t had a wash or shave since the Wednesday before. Everybody got washed and shaved feeling much better after having a night’s rest. For our tea we had the birthday parcel. At night each Company had to find a fatigue party to go to the trenches, so I had to go with them as stretcher bearer. The men went to make a communication trench about 30 yards from the German trenches in some places. While the men were doing this, the Germans were repairing their wire entanglements. We were very lucky, as we had no casualties. As we were marching back we passed a bearer party taking a man down who had been killed out of the 8th  , making one wonder whose turn next. We arrived back at our billets about 3 – 30 a.m. tired out. We had some soup and then went to bed.

 

 

13th April 1915

 

Another fatigue party went out at night but I was excused – Lamb taking my place. They had one casualty Sergeant Fletcher being killed on the road going up to the trenches.

 

 

14th April 1915

 

Church parade in the morning, also pay 10 Francs per man. At night another fatigue party went out, Kirk going with them. Back by 11 – 30, no casualties.

 

 

15th April 1915

 

We were taking things easy until night when we went into the trenches going in the same trenches as before. We got in the trenches without any casualties but I hadn’t been in 5 minutes when I was fetched to go out to an Engineer about 30 yards from the German trenches. He was shot through the head but was living. They carried him down on a board to the dressing station. It was laughable to see what stocks of bread our men took with them to the trenches.

 

 

16th April 1915

 

Everthing went on as usual until breakfast time when Private Mason was killed. Nothing else of note occurred during the day. The dead are taken out at night and buried in the Churchyard in the village.

 

 

17th April 1915

 

Everything went on as usual until after dinner when Private Mullin was killed. He lived about one and a half hours after being hit. After this I went to have my tea. Just as I had done my tea I was sent for again, this time it was Private Watts, death being instantaneous as he was shot through the hart. During the afternoon we had the order to come down that Hill 60 was to be taken that night. They would begin to bombard at 7 o’clock and the bombardment would come slowly down the line getting to us at 7 – 45. At this time our men had the order to put 40 round into them quick. The men got very enthusiastic some of them putting over a hundred rounds into them. This ruse was to stop the Germans from sending reinforcements to Hill 60. At the same time as our men began to fire the artillery behind us started three or four hundred guns going. The noise was terrific. The German artillery began to reply but doing no damage. It was a grand sight but one I don’t want to see again. It was too dangerous to be healthy. If our men had got the order to charge they would have been into the Germans pel-mel, but our order was to hold the position. The bombardment lasted about two hours. The Germans hardly ever replied to our rifle fire because it was as much as they could do to keep their heads down. About 12 – 30 the bearers came for the two casualties and I was able to get to bed.

 

 

18th April 1915

 

Sunday once more. I was up at 6 – 00 a.m. and went to have my breakfast. Corporal Armitage cooked it for us and then at 8 – 30 word came Corporal Armitage hit, come at once. The bullet passed in at his neck and came out in the small of his back. We did what we could for him but he gradually sank. He died about 1 – 30 being conscious about three quarters of an hour. He knew from the first that he was done. It made a gloom over all the Company for a time. The bearers came for him about 9 – 30 and he was buried in the English Cemetery. I had just got in bed when word came down ‘Stretcher bearer wanted’. This time it was Private C Turner, he had been shot in the ankle. I bandaged him up and sent for bearers, getting him off about 1 a.m. I then went to bed for a well earned rest.

 

 

19th April 1915

 

Everything went on as usual until dinner time, when just as I was sitting down to my dinner the word was passed up ‘man hit’. It was Private G Stychie. He had one half of his head split right off and it was hanging on his shoulder. All his brains and everything out of his head was on the floor. I got hold of his head and tied the two parts together, then put it on a sand bag. We had no more casualties that day. At about 10 30 at night we were relieved by the 8th Battalion. We had no accidents coming out. It is a remarkable thing what few casualties we have when changing, for bullets are whistling past you all the time. This time in we hadn’t many shells near the trench, although we had a good many went over the top of us but they were well behind. It is a sensation to hear the shells coming and as they go over you, swish and then there is a big explosion, everybody asking ‘where has that hit?’. We arrived at our billets about 3 a.m. tired out and ready for our bit of soup. Up to this time in the Battalion we had lost eighteen killed and twenty-four wounded.

 

 

 

20th April 1915

 

We rested all day until night when we had to go to the trenches to dig a communication trench from the trenches to the roads, a distance of nearly two miles. This was so if necessary we could walk in the trenches during the daytime. We arrived back about 4 – 30 tired out.

 

 

21st April 1915

 

The men rested all day for they were tired out.

 

Front row, sitting fourth from left.

 

 

22nd April 1915

 

In the afternoon all the men went to Bailleul for a bath and then they had a clean change. At night at 6 – 30 the men fell in as April 20th , but about 10 – 30 the order came ‘Cease work and stand by’ as the Germans were attacking on our left. We stayed in a school all night, leaving Kemmel about 3 – 00 a.m.

 

 

 

23rd April 1915

 

We rested till night when we went on a fatigue party. The 8th ‘s were doing five days this time. On this fatigue party we were taking barbed wire entanglements to the trenches. Heather got wounded through the leg. We arrived back about 1 – 30 a.m.

 

 

24th April 1915

 

There were the usual inspections during the day and then we fell in at 7 – 30 to go to the trenches. When we arrived at Kemmel we got the awful news that the 8th had been heavily shelled by a trench howitzer and there were about 28 men buried, as near as they could tell. All the stretcher bearers of the 6th and 8th with 30 RAMC men had to go to help to bring them out. That night we got seven men dead and fourteen wounded. We all stayed at the dressing station and went to bed about 4 – 30 a.m. tired out and wet through for it had rained all night.

 

 

25th April 1915

 

We got up about 1 o’clock and then cooked our breakfast. We tidied up and then had our dinner. After dinner we went down to the English Cemetery and saw the graves of our dead comrades. There are a large number of graves, but I think the 6th and 8th’s are the nicest graves, each grave has a separate cross and each one has trees and flowers planted on it. The crosses are beautifully painted and well got up. In the same cemetery is Private Ward’s grave of the Liverpool Scottish. After this we had our tea and then word came down for a bearer party to fetch Private S Hibbert, who had been seriously wounded in the head. We got him off to hospital at Loker to be operated on but it was no use; he died next morning at 8 – 40 and was buried in the afternoon in Loker Churchyard. The 8th stretcher bearers came up to get their remaining dead. They brought seven bodies down. Two of them being in little sand bags, all that there was left of them. An awful sight to see, they were buried the same night. We went to bed about 4 a.m.

 

 

26th April 1915

 

Everything went on as usual until night when all bearers had to turn out. We brought Private Muir down who was very seriously wounded in the head. We had a job to get him down because he was so rough. We got him off to hospital as quick as possible. We also fetched Lieutenant Tolson who had been shot through the leg. We had no more cases that night, so we were rather quiet. Went to bed about 4 a.m.

 

 

27th April 1915

 

About 10 – 30 the Adjutant came and wakened us up asking for four volunteers to fetch a man who had been very seriously wounded in the stomach. It was a very dangerous job because the Germans could see us. Three men Hall, Kirk, Newton and myself volunteered because it was a case of life and death. We got up to the trench after a trying journey for we had to keep lying down as they kept shooting at us. Bullets flying in all directions. When we got there we were wet through with having to lie in water. When we got there it was no use bringing him down as he was dying. He died about an hour after. We left him there till it was dark and made our way back to our breakfast getting there about 3 – 30. When it was dusk we went to fetch the wounded and dead to bring down. There were two that had been badly gassed who were Engineers. They were gassed with firing a mine. A Sergeant of the R.E. was dead leaving a wife and six children. We went to bed at 4 – 30 tired out. One of the wounded was Private Greenhalgh of B Company and he is not expected to live.

 

 

28th April 1915

 

We went through the same routine until night when a bearer party had to fetch Sergeant Waterhouse who had been shot through the shoulder and had entered his body. The 8th ‘s relieved us this night and we left the dressing station for Loker about 1 o’clock.

 

 

29th April 1915

 

We got up about dinnertime and then all the men went to Bailleul for a bath.

 

 

30th April 1915

 

Church parade. Bishop of Pretoria preaching. Inspections all day. I had a new pair of boots and new puttees (you can have nearly anything for asking).

 

 

1st May 1915

 

Everything went on as usual until night when a fatigue party went out. I went out with them. There was one man wounded out of D Company. We arrived back about 2 – 30 a.m.

 

 

2nd May 1915

 

Church parade in the morning conducted by Wesleyan Chaplain, sacrament afterwards. In the afternoon we saw a service conducted by priests. They make a great thing of their religion here. At night we relieved the 8th ‘s. We had no cases and I was at the dressing station again.

 

 

3rd May 1915

 

Things went on as usual until afternoon when word came down that Private Ditchfield of B Company had been seriously wounded, could anybody volunteer to fetch him. Four of us went up by the communication trench, which our Brigade had made. We had a job to get him out of the trenches as they were very narrow, but after a hard struggle we got him out and down to the dressing station. After he had been dressed we set off to meet the motor ambulance vehicle, which cannot come into Kemmel during the day or the Germans would see them and then we should get shelled out. We met the ambulance over the hill. We carried him in all from two to three miles. By bringing him out in the daylight we either saved his life or prolonged it. We were wet through with sweat.

 

 

4th May 1915

 

Things went on as usual until night when three wounded men had to be fetched. Leonard went to base

 

 

5th May 1915

 

I shall never forget this day as long as I live for I witnessed the most awful sight I have ever seen in my life. Everything went on as usual until about 6 – 30 when Private Ward came running into the dressing room saying ‘I have been hit’. He had run down from the trenches in the daylight without being dressed. When we had dressed him he said, Oh God, there is a lot of men buried yonder’. Immediately we got all the stretcher bearers and we set off to see whether we could get any of them out alive. When we got there a rescue party was at work, Captain Derbyshire in command. There were three wounded men but they wouldn’t let us take them down, all that they thought of was their comrades left behind. They got two men each to help them down. We worked hard all night getting eight dead bodies, the Germans giving us a hot time all the time with rifle fire. We got the bodies to the dressing station over a mile away. After that came the work of identifying them. Some of them were without heads, others without bodies, some with limbs missing. It was really to awful to describe. All the time we were laying them out and getting them straight there was a nightingale singing outside. It was very nice but it did seem a mockery with all those mutilated bodies lying there.  In all that night we had eight killed and nine wounded. One man was stone deaf with shock. We went to bed about 4 tired out.

 

 

6th May 1915

 

We had no cases this day. We were relieved by the 8th ‘s at night getting home about 2 a.m. The casualty list up to date for 6th Battalion was 25 killed and 53 wounded admitted into hospital. This did not include those slightly wounded.

 

 

7th May 1915

 

We got up about dinnertime and immediately after breakfast we went for a change of clothes and a bath at Bailleul. We arrived back about 6 – 15 p.m. and then a fatigue party had to go out at 6 – 45 arriving back about 1 a.m.

 

 

8th May 1915

 

There were the usual inspections and nothing else of interest.

 

 

9th May 1915

 

Church parade in the morning and after this parade we got word that we had to relieve the Gordon Highlanders and Royal Scots in J,K and L trenches. At 8 o’clock we left Loker for the trenches. All the stretcher bearers and the medical staff stayed at the dressing station, the dressing station being about half a mile behind the firing line (Rossignol), it being subject to stray bullets and shell fire. We had no cases that night except a Gordon Highlander who had been hit in the back. This time I was doctors orderly.

 

 

10th May 1915

 

We went through the usual routine. Just after dinner we had an hours shelling of shrapnel, having to get down in the cellar. At night we had six wounded and Lieutenant Severne killed.

 

 

11th May 1915

 

As usual. At night nine wounded and one killed.

 

 

12th May 1915

 

Everything went on all right till after tea when we had six shrapnel shells in about two minutes, one hitting the corner of the dressing station breaking every window and we found lumps of iron in the room afterwards. We had seven wounded.

 

 

13th May 1915

 

Everything went on as usual until night when there was a two hour bombardment. We had two wounded. We were relieved by the 5th Battalion. We got to our billets about midnight. Nearly all the men were bivouacking out. We had to go to an E Staminet and we had a job to get in for the people did not want us, but after a little waving of hands and a few gestures we laid down on the floor while morning. It surprised me at the dressing station the way the farmers tilled their land and went on with their work only taking cover when they began shelling. Near the dressing station the Derbyshire Artillery are stationed, when they gave a volley it being enough to frighten anybody.

 

 

14th May 1915

 

After we had got up we went and saw the Doctor and got our billet changed. We went and stayed with a very old woman, all the medical staff being there, fifteen in all.

 

 

15th May 1915

 

Everything going on as usual. Most of the men went for a bath to Bailleul.

 

 

16th May 1915

 

Everything as usual. Sick parades etc.

 

 

17th May 1915

 

Everything as usual, took stock of the medical drugs and went to the hospital for new supplies. At night we went to the trenches at Rossignol. We had a very quiet night getting one man wounded at the dressing station about 3 – 30 a.m. He had a wrist broken with a bullet.

 

 

18th May 1915

 

We had our usual shelling in the afternoon and at night we never had one case.

 

 

19th May 1915

 

We got the usual shelling and at night we had three wounded and one killed, the killed being Tom Bramwell, one of the wounded being Eyre from Chapel.

 

 

20th May 1915

 

During the day we identified and sewed Tom Bramwell up. At night we got two wounded and two killed.

 

 

21st May 1915

 

We had two wounded and thenat midnight we left for our billets at Kemmel being well received by the old woman.

 

 

22nd May 1915

 

We were inspected by General Plummer our new General. Everything as usual.

 

 

23rd May 1915

 

Church parade. Everything as usual.

 

 

 

24th May 1915

 

I slept near the door and just where my mouth was there was a hole. In the early morning I wakened in a dazed condition, my throat burning, and my head going all round. I couldn’t understand it because I had been having such good health. I struggled through the day as best I could and we were told that there had been a heavy dose of gas along the line and it had been felt our way. It didn’t strike me then what I was suffering from. I wrote my usual letter with much difficulty and went to bed early thinking I should be much better next morning.

 

 

25th May 1915

 

I wakened up next morning feeling worse than I did the day before. I struggled on through the day until afternoon. I felt so bad I went to the doctor. He couldn’t understand it. He took my temperature and it was 101°. He didn’t know what to do at the finish. He sent for a motor ambulance and I was taken to the hospital at Loker. When I got there my temp was 102°.

 

 

26th May 1915

 

I was in hospital all day.

 

 

27th May 1915

 

They couldn’t tell what was the matter with me so they sent me to Bailleul to the clearing hospital. When the doctor saw me there he said ‘Why the poor fellow is gassed’. There were some awful sights all around me there on stretchers. At 2 o’clock we were put on the hospital train for Boulogne. We arrived at Boulogne about 10 o’clock. There was no hospital ship and all the hospitals were full so our train was ordered to Rouen another thirteen hour ride. I had two sisters and a doctor with me for two and a half hours after leaving Boulogne for I was in an awful condition. I was unconscious nearly all the way.

 

 

28th May 1915

 

We arrived at Rouen about 12 o’clock. I was taken to the hospital two miles away where I was well looked after.

 

 

29th May 1915

 

During the morning the Colonel came and told me he was going to send me to England. At 6 o’clock I was taken to the hospital train for Havre. We arrived at Havre about midnight and I was put on the hospital ship ‘Asterius’.

 

 

 

30th May 1915

 

We were on the ship all day and were very well looked after. We sailed at about 8 p.m.

 

 

31st May 1915

 

We arrived at Southampton in the early hours and disembarked about 9 a.m. We left on the hospital train about 11 a.m. for Liverpool. We had our dinner served on the train. When we got to Birmingham the S.J.A.B. provided us with tea, which was very nice. We arrived at Aintree about 6 o’clock where we had a great reception. I was put into bed immediately and had a good meal.

 

 

 

+++++++     FINIS     ++++++

 

 

 


Names Mentioned in Diary Text

 

Lce Cpl Redfern

              Barnes Ges

              Bennet Joe

              Wilkinson G W

Pte         Ward

              Lamb

Sgt         Fletcher

              Kirk

Pte         Mason

Pte         Mullin

Pte         Watts

Cpl        Armitage

Pte         Turner C

Pte         Stychie G

              Heather

Pte         Hibbert S

Pte         Muir

Lt          Tolson

              Hall

              Newton

Pte         Greenhalgh

Sgt         Waterhouse

Pte         Ditchfield

Cpt        Derbyshire

Lt          Severne

              Bramwell Tom

              Eyre

Colonel Smith-Dorien

Colonel Goodman

General Gough

General Plummer

 

 

 

 


GEORGE POTTER BAGSHAW

 

George Potter Bagshaw was the eldest son of Charles Bagshaw, a collier, secretary of the local branch of the Miners Union, lay preacher and Sunday school Superintendent at Fernilee Methodist Church.

George was born on 11 April 1887 at Whaley Bridge and worked at the local print works. On the 11 July 1913 he married Sarah Downs the daughter of a Quarryman and local councillor from New Mills.

At some time he joined the 1/6th  Sherwood Foresters Territorial Battalion with his brother Leonard and became a stretcher bearer. He went to France in February 1915, suffered from gassing in May 1915 and was sent back to England to recover. On his returned to the trenches he was mentioned in despatches in 1917 and in 1918 he was awarded the Military Medal.

After the war he became foreman dyer at Whaley Bridge Print Works and eventually moved to Chorley as Foreman dyer at Heapy Works, which produced calico and oil cloth. He attended the local Methodist Church and became a church deacon and, like his father a local preacher.

In the early 1930’s he was made redundant from the Heapy Works and opened his own Drapers shop. The business expanded to include a Market stall at Chorley Market.

He was taken ill suddenly late in September 1936 and died on 1st October 1936.

His epitaph in the local newspaper stated that he had been introduced to the King on three occasions.

 

 


 


 

 

Military Medal Citation

 

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in the attack at Ramiecourt 3rd October 1918. This N.C.O. is Orderly to the Medical Officer. He constantly went out searching for, and bringing in, wounded under very heavy shell and Machine gun fire, showing a complete disregard of danger.

After the village was captured, he at once went round and located many wounded to expedite their early evacuation. His initiative in getting forward to assist the wounded rather than waiting for them to be brought to the R.A.P. was the means of saving many lives. On many other occasions this N.C.O. has rendered conspicuous service to the Battalion.