Here is the only other account that I have. This is by CSM Weaver, 1/19th Londons. It is taken from his unpblished diary which is held in the Liddle Collection, at the Library, University of Leeds.
Up early, after stand down inspect trenches. Line fairly quiet, Fritz seems to be behaving himself. Weather very warm and I am kept busy on working parties etc. strong rumours again that the Americans are coming in. Sort rations and post, bed late.
Hear we are to be relieved today and then take over the front line. Up early for Stand To, see to breakfasts and examine rifles etc. Go off again to Aid Post and get my knee dressed, it is rather painful now but fortunately quite clean. Hear later relief is to be tomorrow so have quiet day. Heat is terrific, and there is a shortage of issue lime juice. Rations up early, distribute them and bed fairly early.
20 July (Sunday)
Up early for Stand To, then go round the line and see all is OK. We are holding a long line in small isolated posts some little distance apart and so it is a bit eerie walking along an empty front line from one post to another not knowing what is round the next traverse or if Fritz is contemplating a trench raid! However, all is quiet and the trenches are in good condition.
We assume Fritz is busy eating his breakfast and so we have ours, leaving, of course, the sentries on the look out to have theirs later.
After breakfast Captain Peppiatt tells me the Americans are coming in with us in small parties for 24 hours at a stretch and are coming for instruction and to get used to trench life.
No man’s land, between the two front lines, is very wide, about a quarter of a mile I should say and long grass in between.
Spend afternoon cleaning up trenches and finding accommodation for all these extra people and I, as acting CSM, am to look after them and show them the ropes!
In the late evening they begin to arrive in small parties. They are a Chicago battalion, a pretty lot to look at and are very bewildered and curious about everything, their first sight of the front line. They make a hell of a row and it is very lucky that no man’s land is so very wide and Fritz cannot hear them too well.
We split them up among our own men and there is a sort of mutual ‘sizing up’, some of them volunteer at once to go on sentry with our chaps. The MG section calls itself the “automatic rifle section” and then all sorts of people with strange titles appear.
Later the officer’s batman turns up with no extra kit or baggage. I asked him where his officer and his kit was to which he replied “I guess he’s trailin’ around here somewhere behind” and it seems he has to carry his own kit.
They take some little time to settle down, everything is so strange and novel, our habits and ways so different in many cases to theirs and they all want to be up and about examining all and sundry and I have to warn their NCOs about them unduly exposing themselves and to be extra careful about smoke, fires and noise.
I have a feeling those NCOs rather think we are “windy” and over cautious, whereas they are anxious to get up and on with the war. As it is now so quiet they simply cannot understand all these warnings and restrictions but they don’t know Fritz and will find out quick enough.
The sergeants (two of them) come in with me and they seem a very decent and interesting couple. Their kit and equipment is simply marvellous, everything of the highest quality, patent safety razors, field dressings in special tins, wonderful mess tins and patent cookers, knives, pistols etc. whilst their rifles seemed to be rather more complicated than ours, too many gadgets!
All are simply burning to get at Fritz and cannot understand our apparent apathy and our national “flair” for understatement completely puzzles them, when we say Ypres was rather sticky and the Somme bloody awful etc. they think we are trying to pull their legs.
Their messing arrangements are rather peculiar, instead of issuing 24 hour rations as we do, they try to issue each meal separately, a hell of a job in the line, everyone has to come to one spot for every meal, a risky proceeding in a front line trench.
They are not exactly boastful but they do give an impression of superiority, or is it inferiority on our part? No! I don’t think so! Anyhow, they are very interesting and are very eager to learn all they can about everything and listen intently to all we can teach them about trench warfare.
We sit up very late talking about the war, America and England, they really seem rather child like in some of their ideas, especially of England, which they seem to think is peopled mainly by the aristocracy who wear their full regalia on every pretext, but they do seem to have quite a high opinion of the British Army.
I go along to the Company Headquarters later to meet their officers and take down the orders etc. The American officers seem a quiet sort of man, quite friendly to us and rather remote from their own men.
As luck would have it, we have a quiet night, a few shells and an odd machine gun burst or two. The Very lights quite thrill the Americans and those on duty in the front line are allowed, as a special favour, to fire one or two. “Stand To” puzzles them but they soon fall into the idea and settle very well to our conditions.
21 July (Sunday)
Up for “Stand To” and go round the front line with the two American sergeants and all is OK. The weather is still very good and hot.
Have breakfast in which the Americans join and are somewhat amused though we are getting really well cooked food now.
Day passes in general cleaning up and trench repair work, new duck boards etc. Pay a visit to the front line with Captain Peppiatt and the American officers and sergeants. Captain Peppiatt, when we arrive at the line stresses the point that everyone in the line must be armed at all times. I feel very small as I am armed only with my stick (that I cut in Crecy forest). This fortunately seems to amuse him.
No. 10 platoon is in a very isolated post and we have to go along quite a long stretch of unmanned trench in the front line. The grass in no man’s land is quite long, but Fritz has evidently been cutting it over his side from what we can see from the trench periscope.
A patrol goes out in the evening, otherwise all quiet.
Weather still very hot and fine. “Stand To” as usual, nothing much doing but very great aerial activity. Usual routine during the day.
The Americans are relieved by another contingent from their battalion after dark but to theirs and especially our consternation Fritz sends over trench mortars, mostly little devils or “pineapple” bombs that almost reached our support line, the first time this has happened it seems, not too nice!
Rations come up and we eventually settle in all the Americans and get to bed late and dead tired.
Weather still good. “Stand To” and have an excellent breakfast and then the usual routine of inspections etc, but later many strange staff and technical ‘birds’ appear and there are very definite rumours of a ‘stunt’ coming off.
We have a very busy time indeed, providing working parties for bringing up ammunition, stores etc. and all the other battalion Lewis gunners are brought up to augment our own company gunners.
The RE are up all night putting in special projectors which are fired electrically and the medical people bring up extra supplies, a very ominous sign! The Americans are wildly excited to be in it, we do NOT share this view. A raiding party of the 23rd battalion are to do the ‘show’ on our left whilst we put up a decoy fire and stage a dummy raid, other companies helping in this.
Fritz is quiet but seems to smell something, keeps sending up Very lights because, I suppose, we are not, for fear of giving our working parties away.
A very hectic night in which few of us get any sleep at all.
Up early for “Stand To” and inspect posts etc. Another fine day, early breakfast and then the procession begins, all types, shapes and sizes of Staff and Brigade officers come up to look round, American officers as well. RE busy all day.
Dinner early, then at 3.45pm the barrages open up. The Americans wildly excited and we have to hang on to them to prevent them looking or standing on the top of the trench.
Hell let loose for half an hour. A terrific barrage of all types, heavies, field guns, TMs and a heavy Vickers and Lewis MG overhead barrage.
In a few minutes our Lewis Guns start up and then, quite unexpectedly, the projectors go off in one great mass and when they burst they throw up huge fountains of a sort of golden rain, terrible stuff, right on the German line as we can see through our periscopes.
Presently Fritz begins to open up and we start getting “pineapple” TMs right on our trench, most unpleasant.
Very soon there comes the call for stretcher bearers, a couple of Americans have caught it, one of them, who is a full blooded negro, in the ankle. Our stretcher bearers come along and see to him, he is making a hell of a fuss and the stretcher bearers decide to “chance it” by getting him back over the top to the rear as it is quicker and much easier than working a loaded stretcher along a crowded trench and this frightens him even more!
Gradually the barrage eases up and we hear the raid was OK, several prisoners taken and the American officers, for whose benefit the whole thing was staged, seem quite happy over it!
Cannot hear anything about our own casualties but Fritz caught it very badly, especially from the new projectors which seem able to burn through anything.
In the evening all is quiet again and soon the trench is full and busy with various working parties and gunners removing their gear.
Late that night we are relieved and make our way back to Warloy by platoons where we bivouac in the open in ‘funk holes’. Fritz comes over by air and bombs us just as we arrive, it is a glorious moonlight night and we are also worried by the long range shelling of an observation balloon moored quite near us. Too tired to worry, just flop out in full kit and sleep.