25thNov 1915. Quiet night. Officers patrol sent out during the night provided R Munster Fusiliers and bombed a working party of Turks and a snipers post. Enemy's artillery rather more active during the day. Weather very mild. N E wind. Dull. Warm
26thNov 1915. Quiet night.
1400: C.O.'s Conference at Brigade Headquarters after which the Brigadier took the Commanding Officers round the second line, orders being issued to them that during Saturday and Sunday all the Offiecrs in their Battalions should also visit the second line.
1900: Very severe thunderstorm, with very strong gale and torrents of rain began.
2000: All telephone communication with Battalions cut off. Brigade Headquarters dugouts flooded out
2100:Orderly arrived from the Royal Fusiliers with a message from Major Cripps Commanding 2nd Royal Fusiliers stating that all the trenches were full of water and were falling in; that the water had come into the trenches asthough it had been a tidal wave; that many men must have been drowned and that few had been able to save their rifles or equipment. The men were then standing up to their knees in water behind the parados of the trenches. Later officers arrived bringing messages from their Commanding Officers, from the R Munster Fusiliers and 3rd London Regt, all giving the same story. Orders were issued to all Battalions to do their best to dig their men in behind the parados and that the line of trenches was to be held at all cost. The 2/3rdLondon Regt who had evacuated their trenches and retired to higher ground behind, were ordered at once to re-occupy the trench line. Report as above sentto 29th Division
27thNov 1915. Soon after midnight last night telephone communication was obtained with the 2nd Royal Fusiliers and about an hour later with the [1st] Lancashire Fusiliers. Reports came in continually as to the very bad conditions of the trenches and men, the cold being very intense and the heavy rains and wind continuing.
By daylight the men who were capable of work had thrown up for themselves in most cases sufficient cover to protect them from shrapnel fire. The water had subsided in the trenches to an average depth of about 4 feet. A few rifles, a few overcoats and a certain amount of ammunition were recovered. Great difficulty was found in bringing up rations for the men but eventually bully beef, biscuits and a little rum wasissued.
The conditions during the day were extremely trying. Men were huddled together in shallow trenches dug behind the parados during the night with any implement they could lay their hands on , nearly all without overcoats. Anyone who walked about ran a great risk of being shot, in fact, during the day casualties were fairly heavy from the enemy's snipers, including 4 Officers killed. And 2 wounded. A great deal of shrapnel was fired during the day, chiefly at parties of men who were given permission to leave the trenches, all in various stages of exhaustion to go to ambulances. Of these there is no doubt that a great number failed to reach the Ambulances and died from exhaustion on the way. A cold N E wind blew all day through with a little rain and sleet at intervals, and it is feared that a great number of men died from exposure.
It is interesting to note that on the night of the 26th when the flood int he trenches came with such suddenness one pony, a mule, a pig and 2 dead Turks were swept over the barricade together. Towards evening the weather which hadbeen steadily getting worse, developed into a snow blizzard, with intense cold and men were still struggling down to the trenches in large quantities.
0200. The blizzard continued all through the night and the condition of the men was so deplorable owing to the weather that the Brigadier issued an order at 0200 to battalions that all men who not capable offiring a rifle were to be at once sent back to Filed Ambulances.
0400. Reports from Commanding Officers as to the condition of the men remaining were so serious that the GOC Division gave permission for all four battalions to be withdrawn into reserve nullahs but that "Dublin Castle" was to be held and that Posts near Saps 1 and 2 and in the vicinity of C.52 were to be held [see map below] This order was issued to all Battalions and in the early hours of the morning a continuous stream of men, mostly in a very deplorable condition from exposure was seen for some hours coming back to the reserve nullahs. It was very fortunate that during this time the blizzard became even heavier and hid these movements of troops from the enemy; consequently there was no shelling. As soon as Battalions were sorted out to their respective bivouacs carts with corrugated iron, tarpaulin, brazier fuel, medical comforts and clothing were issued to battalions. All through the day large numbers of stretchers were going backwards and forwards from the nullahs to the ambulances carrying men suffering from exposure and frozen feet.
The weather during the day continued to be very cold, with a hard frost and bitter wind, but there was no more snow. The 3 posts mentioned above were relieved during the evening by officers and men in the Brigade who were found fit to do so. All through the day Officers and men who had done their best to stick it out were forced to go to hospital, the strength of the Bde having now fallen from 97 Officers and 2791 other ranks to 69 Officers and 976 other ranks. During the day the men who were left with the battalions were all entirely re-clothed and it is hoped that a large number may recover from this very severe experience. The water in the trenches had fallen a great deal during the day, leaving thick slushy mud of an average depth of about 2 ½ feet.
The 88thBde was ordered to relieve the posts still being held by the 86thBde in the trenches and were ordered to increase them to a total of 200 men in the front line and with two posts in rear. During the night small parties from each Battalion were sent to the trenches to commence recovering rifles and equipment. Every available man from the Bde was turned on to improve communication trenches to the firing line. This work was very difficult and very arduous owing to the deep mud a owing to a great many trenches having completely fallen in. A large number of trench boots had been issued on the previous day enabling men to work without the risk of getting frozen feet. Small drafts arrived during the day for the 2nd Royal Fusiliers and the 1stLancashire Fusiliers. Parties from [illegible?] Battalions were up in the trenches continually night and day collecting rifles and equipment and burying the dead. Weather improved a great deal during the day, with a cold wind but with a warmer sun. 28/12/15