Ilfracombe Soldier’s Diary

In this interesting article from the North Devon Journal, Edgar Lancey Laramy sends home a diary to his wife detailing his experiences of the war…Barum Athena

NDJ 8th July 1915 2b Ilfracombe Soldier's Diary
From: North Devon Journal 8th July 1915 page 2 column b

Mrs. Laramy, No. 1, Strand, Ilfracombe, has just received an interesting diary from her husband, Driver Edgar Laramy, 108th Heavy Battery, R.G.A., as under :-

“We left Southampton on Saturday, October 3rd, arrived at Havre on the 4th. We slept at the Docks on Sunday night, and on Monday went to camp for a week. Then we went to No. 2 Camp, Lanviet, for another week. On the 24th we entertained for St. Omer; we had three nights there, then we went to Hazebrouck at three in the morning; we got there at six in the night, slept in a field behind the Square, then we went to the firing line. We were about three miles from Bethune, when we stopped and had a bit of bully and biscuit. We could see the shells bursting, so we thought we had come to it at last. We stayed there until it became a bit dark, then we took the guns into action. The horses were in a farm about 500 yards from the battery. We had to sleep under our waggons, and it was cold. This was Sunday night, the 1st of November. We were there a couple of days, and then the 80th R.F.A. Came along side of us in the next field. We had no tobacco nor fags, so they gave us some woodbines, and it was like giving us £5 notes. We enjoyed it, and they were with us for four days. We got shelled out after we had been there eight days, and on the Sunday we lost the Lieutenant and Sergt.-Major. They were very good both of them. Then we shifted the guns where we had our horses, and after this buried the two together. We tied them in blanket, and put crosses up; next day another shell nearly dug them up again. We got shelled out of that, and shifted into a ploughed field; it took 16 horses to draw the guns, as we had had so much rain and the field was all mud.

“We were in this place three weeks, and then we went to a place called Le Fainge to rest. The 109th Heavy Battery came and relieved us, and we were in the rest camp for ten days, and we had a camp fire concert the last night we were there. Then we went into the same place in action. At Xmas we had bully and biscuits fro dinner and jam for tea. We had a service in the morning and had the King and Queen’s p.c. In about a week we had the Princess Mary’s box of fags and tobacco, and no matches. We had a bit of Xmas pudding about a week after, the size of two fingers. We were there till February 25th, then we went to Lillers for another rest. We had a fortnights there, and had a good time, sports, &c., and we had all new guns.

“We left there the 6th March, to go to the Neuve Chapelle battle. We were there three days before it started, and I can tell you it was awful. While the big battle was on for 48 hours we could not sleep much. It was over about three days, and I went sick with tonsilitis. I went to Richburg dressing station, and was there two hours; they took me in a motor to Chagres; there I stopped two nights. The next morning I had my breakfast, what I could eat, which was not much. I had a wash, and was taken to the station to the hospital train. I was in the train two days and nights, and at last got to Beaune. I was taken to No. 8 General Hospital. They kept me there about ten days, and I was getting all right. Then I was sent to convalescent camp; there I stopped two nights, and in the morning I was sent to Havre, to the No. 1 General Base, R.A. I had full kit given me there to start in again, when I was to go up to the line again. I got into a tent with some of the New Army chaps, and they wanted to know all they could about the war and what it was like, so I told them what I knew about it. While I was at Base camp, I went to the docks to work with the R.E.s, and the rest of the time I was at Base camp.

“One day I was at the A.V.C. I was warned at 2 o’clock for a draft, and was to be ready. At 3.45 a.m. we fell in and went to the docks, and the train did not leave until 10 o’clock. We had a walk over the docks. We got to Rouen early the next morning, and had the day there till 6 30. The train left at 12 midnight, and we got to Boulogne at 7 the next morning. We had a good look round the docks and town, and left at 10 o’clock. We got to Abelle at 6 the next morning; this was in Belgium. We went to the stores and got some food. They told us to get into one of the motor lorries and they would take us to where we had to go. So we did; and when we did they did not know anything about us, so we came back to Abelle by the motor. We slept in one of the sheds that night, and the next day they sent us to a place called Beauchamp, where we found the 5th D.A.C. We were there four days, then we were sent to different batteries. One of the other chaps and myself got to the Battery I am in now, the 108th H.B. 60 pounder. We met them at a place called Dranute, it was at Hill 60.

“I was in the Battery one day, then they sent me to the column as a gunner. I was there about a week, and the Battery went to Neuve Chapelle. We were there a week, and we were shifted again. There were some men went on leave from our Battery, and I had a pair of horses until they came back, so we came to Ypres while they were on leave, and I still had the horses. I changed over from the D.A.V. to the B.A.C. on the 3rd June. When we left for the place it rained all night, and in the day it was fine. We had a couple of hours at Belturb to feed the horses and rest. After we were here four days we had to advance, so we went up with the column. We had left some things behind in our waggon and were told off to fetch them. The Sergeant came back with us, and when we were coming back we met the Y.L.I. They delayed us, and a good job they did, because they were shelling the road we had to go, and it would have been time we should have got there if it hadn’t been for the Y.L.I. delaying us. We waited about an hour, and then we went on. The road was all to pieces where they had shelled it, and we had to go as fast as we could get over it. We had a drop of tea and something to eat, and then we fetched our ammunition. It was 11 o’clock when we got back, so we fed up the horses and lay down under a tree to sleep for a couple of hours. As soon as daylight came we were shifted again.

“We are shifted every day, but we stuck it until they were too hot for us. We are still in the same place now. We can see Ypres from here. We had some gas on Whit-Monday, but none since, and now they have started shelling this place.”

transcript taken from the North Devon Journal 8th July 1915 page 2 column b. This just one of many articles about  North Devon’s experiences during World War One published in the local newspapers. For more visit our North Devon War Items Album on our Facebook Page…Barum Athena

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