Artillery Fire – February 15th, 1918

Friday February 15th, 1918

Ditto, nothing doing

Artillery Fire

Frank’s diary and the Battalion diary usually dovetail pretty well.  Today this doesn’t happen.  According to Frank nothing is going on and yet the Battalion diary is recording heavy bombardments on both sides.  The enemy targets Frank’s location (Silbury). Indeed, six soldiers of the 13th are killed today.

Reverend John Vincent°, Chaplain of the 13th, provided the following account of being caught in a burst of enemy artillery fire.  He was near the Commandant while walking back to base in November 1917: ‘A working party was coming towards me making for the trench I had just left. …. the familiar whine of a heavy shell – at first faint, but rapidly getting louder, until it became a veritable roar. I was down on my face lying flat, before you could say ‘Jack Robinson’, without even having time to change my service cap for my ‘tin hat’ which I was carrying with me. Then the explosion – I thought the whole world was bursting followed by the ping of hundreds of pieces of metal flying … around and over me. Then a depressing silence with one’s ears tingling. I remained on my face for a moment or two expecting another, but the silence continued. Rising to my feet I adjusted my tin hat and found that the working party, after having taken the same precautions as I had, were now making their way towards the communication trench.  As we passed I happened to remark, “That’s a bit too close for comfort”, at which they smiled their assent.’¹

13th (Service) Battalion War Diary – 15th February 1918 – No 1 Sector, Minden Camp 

Our artillery was fairly active all day, at 20:17 hrs and 20:58 hrs short bombardments of O1, O2 & O3 were carried out. Enemy retaliated on Rockley and Silbury at 21:25 hrs. Enemy fired about 10 Trench Mortar shells and rifle grenades between B2 and B6 in answer to our Trench Mortar fire which worked with the artillery bombardment. One of our patrol’s heard working party in O1. Enemy trenches in O1 appear to be revetted with sand bags and wooden fascines.

Temp Captain FO Thorne relinquishes the appointment of Adjutant 17-12-17 (invalided to UK). (Auth List No 89 Appointment, Commissions & Rewards etc.) dated 12-2-18. Extracts from this list:- To be Adjutant- Temp Lieutenant LA Turvey vice Temp Capt FO Thorne MC (invalided) and is granted an acting rank of Capt with pay and allowances as Lieut whilst employed, dated 18-12-17. Temp Lieut (Acting Capt) GT Newman to be Temp Capt vice Temp Capt FM Beeley (transferred) (Auth WO letter MSIK dated 23-11-17). Temp Lt (Act Capt) WR Batty to be Temp Capt vice Temp Capt FO Medworth MC (transferred) dated 20-8-17 (Auth WO letter MSIK dated 22-11-17). Temp Lieut JAF Callis to be Temp Capt vice Temp Capt SB Edward (to RFC) dated 27-9-17 (Auth WO letter MSIK dated 16-11-17). 6 OR killed in action 15-2-18. 1 OR having been wounded in action one 14-2-18 is struck off effective strength from that date. 3 OR struck off effective strength under GRO 1011 from 15-2-18. 3 OR  having rejoined are again taken on from 13-2-18. A reinforcement of 3 OR is taken on from 13-2-18.

References & Further Reading

º Reverend Vincent served as the Chaplain of the 13th Manchesters and 8th King’s Shropshire Light Infantry in Salonika in 1917.  He went on sick leave to Malta later in 1917 , suffering from malaria.  Despite wanting to return to the 13th Bn, after going on home leave, he was posted to France.

¹ ‘A Day in the Life of a Chaplain. Salonika 1st November 1917’ by John C Welch, New Mosquito, newsletter of the Salonika Campaign Society, issue 11, 2005

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