2 May 1917

Extract from the diary of LCpl Walter Williamson, 6th Bn, 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment

The battalion came back into supports at trenches known as “x” lines and Irish Farm and.2 platoons of “A” company to a “strong point” called “Wilson’s Farm” Frank, Jim and myself taking over the signals at this place. It consisted of a short well built trench, containing a deep sap which led down below fully 30 feet to the signal office and the sleeping accommodation. Down here we found the strongest point of the strong point. It was the smell. As yet, there was only the one entrance and no through ventilation, and the heat was terrific, and as we sat on our shelf we shed everything but tunics and trousers in our efforts to keep cool. As this failed and the smell became unbearable, we moved the instruments up into the trench where they were having glorious sunshine. “Nobby” Clarke who was now on Battn. H.Q. visited us one day to inspect (?) instruments etc. While he was chatting with us, the Fullerphone buzzed off.

“Gas alert. Strombus horn heard on our left”

Everyone dashed for Gas Masks to see if they were in working order, which of course should be done every day. “Nobby” was horrified after unloading his gas mask case of candle ends, to find his mask short of an eye piece, which of course put the mask entirely out of action. We loaned him a good old “P.H.” bag mask, and he flew off as hard as his long legs would carry him, to get back to Battn H.Q. before the gas caught him.

We heard later unofficially, that it was a false alarm. A new and inquisitive Sgt. had arrived in the line with the Battalion on our left front and had inadvertently started the strombus horn, and every telephone in a large area had immediately sent the alarm far and wide.


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