Tag: 6th Bn

15 October 1917

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

On the 15th of October we finished work for the Australians, struck camp, sent the tents back to where they came from, and marched back through Ypres, picking up motors at Vierstraat Corner. These landed us in Kemmel village in the darkness, and we climbed Little Kemmel Hill expecting to find a nice little camp, after the mud of Potijze. We were disgusted to find ourselves marched into a field to a bivouac camp, in only a little less mud than we had left behind us. There were a few tents for the officers, and we managed to secure one for the Orderly Room. We had rather a startling reception on our arrival. As we marched in at one end of the field, eight aeroplane bombs dropped in quick succession at the other end of the field. We dared have no lights whatever for sometime after our arrival, and there was a deal of shouting, and passing of compliments in the darkness before the battalion were settled in.

Sometime after the battalion had got settled down Len and I were wandering miserably round the camp in the mud and darkness looking for our luggage.

The limber that had the orderly Room boxes on board, had broken down on the journey and had not arrived.

We found “Q” and reported the matter to him. He decided that no work could be done before morning, and we might as well get to bed. When we left him, we groaned and looked blankly at one another, and our misery was great. When leaving Potijze we had been stuck with the brilliant idea of packing our blankets, rations, and anything else we could squeeze in, into the Orderly Room boxes, to save having to carry them.

This was of course against all rules, and without “Q’s” knowledge, and we hardly knew him well enough yet to confess our predicament. Here we were, without a blanket or a bite, and expected to get down to bed. We would of course go to bed without a blanket, but without a bite, was too much for us.

We decided to hunt up the transport to find out if the limber had turned up. We found that it had just arrived, but orders had been given that the limber was not to be unloaded before morning. We explained that we must have the typewriter at least, as some urgent work had to be done for the C.O. We were allowed to unload the typewriter box, and bore it off triumphantly in the darkness.

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2 September 1917

Extract from war diary of 6th Bn, 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment

Battalion proceeded to the trenches in the ZLEIN [sic] ZILLEBEKE sector and took over from 12 Sussex Regt. Considerable artillery and aeroplane activity on both sides. No material damage caused to our lines. Working parties engaged deepening support trenches.

Lieut G H Churchill struck off strength.     2 OR to hospital sick.

2nd Lieut G Rowley, MC., rejoined.   1 OR Rejoined.

26 August 1917

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

In the darkness we seemed to cross and re-cross trenches without end, till we began to wonder when we would strike the right one. At last, a voice from a trench at our feet complained that we were kicking mud down his “scarlet” ventilator. It seemed lucky that we had done so, or very likely we would have crossed the trench which happened to be the home we were looking for. I had now lost my last shred of affection for the “Yellow Peril” and wished it might make the acquaintance of a 5.9 were it not that it kept me company so closely. My home this time was in a concrete pill box. It was the same place that we had kicked the mud into, down the ventilator. Haifa dozen of us were domiciled here. Timber had been laid over the flooded floor, and nothing prevented us from being quite comfortable, but the fact that the place was literally swarming with lice. As there were evidently of enemy origin, we showed no mercy till our energy was exhausted, and we fell to bemoaning our ill fate at becoming victims to German hate in this undignified manner.

Having a little time to spare the next morning, I had a walk round to see if I could find Pat, and found the signallers dugout, for once, a hive of industry, inside and out. They were busy on a scheme of drainage, having evidently slept in the dugout first to dream of the plans for morning. It (the scheme) seemed quite a success, but as I saw the stream of water pouring out of the dugout, down the trench, I wondered whose dugout would get the benefit of the deluge.

There was very little to do here, Pat was supposed to be “on the lines”, but I suspect this was more or less of an excuse to roam about at his own sweet will, for one morning he looked me up to see whether I had time to come for walk round to see the sights. I left word in the dugout that I had gone round to see the four companies over some question of “nominal rolls” and went off until four. We cut over the back of the trench. A short distance behind the trench was a road where the transport could come up at night with shells and rations, and where ration parties from the front line, and the supports would meet them.

Beyond the road again was a masked battery of 18 pdrs. Camouflage curtains being lifted only during firing. As no one was visible about the guns, we dropped into some trenches close by where the gunners had their quarters. Pat seemed to be well known round here, though I could not learn of any telephone line between our battalion and the artillery, which might account for his presence over here. He popped his head in a dugout here, and dugout there wishing them good morning, till at one dugout we learned that a new barrel of beer had arrived up the previous night, for their canteen. This was evidently “the line” that Pat was interested in hereabouts, as he did not then enquire the way to the canteen, but marched me off straight there to test the new barrel. The barrel and its attendant guardian occupied a dugout to themselves in solemn state. After testing the beer and murmuring “bon” more from habit than conviction, we moved off further to have a look at the old original front lines of this sector, previous to July. They were now battered out of all shape, but we could judge that it had not been a particularly restful spot to stay in. The German line was so near to our own, that it was impossible for either side to actually shell their apposing front line without their friends suffering in the process.