Blazin’ squad

19th December 1914

It was another squally and rainy day. Conditions in the trenches had become fairly desperate. Trenches regularly collapsed and men stood up to their waists in liquid mud. Gleichen writes that it was from a trench like this that “a Dorset man was literally almost drowned and drawn forth with great difficulty”.

The Dorsets diary contains the first mention of a patrol by the Dorsets. German trenches are found to be strongly held. I’m not sure what they were expecting.

At 7pm Battalion headquarters moved quarter of a mile south of original HQ on the Wulverghem-Messines road.

The war diary and the CWGC report two Dorset men killed. 1 man was wounded. The dead men were Privates Joseph Hooper and James Purbrick.

The battalion took part in “demonstrations’ against the enemy throughout the day, which essentially meant every free man blasting away like guns at a pheasant shoot. Why did they do this? It seems to have been to create a diversionary effect on the enemy – presumably these were continuing orders from the attack on 15th December. A kind of brigade-wide “cover me!”.

The video clip above is trailer for the excellent 1983 film, “The Shooting Party“. It’s like Downton Abbey but with a decent script, plot and actors.

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