24th November 1914
At 4pm the battalion marched via Lindenhoek to relieve the Easy Surreys in their trenches. The 14th Brigade diary records this taking place from 8pm. The going was very slow. It had started to rain during the day and thaw out the ice. This made the ground both slippery and muddy. The trenches were very close together at this point and rifle fire kept heads down.
Some of the Dorsets were assigned to a fatigue party to collect brushwood with which to line the trenches (with boards placed on top) and prevent men’s feet from becoming wet and frozen. Thus it reached midnight and still the Dorsets hadn’t relieved the East Surreys.
Their destination was Point 75, 1 mile south west of Wytschaete. This village became anglicised by British troops as Whitesheet. It’s also the first village I read about when I started researching Frank ages ago. I still can’t pronounce it.
The Telegraph today has an interesting report about the Gurkhas which regurgitates a similar story to the one Frank wrote in his letter home on the 16th November. This runs contrary to Gleichen’s story from the 30th October.
The first story about the Gurkhas was that they had come to an end of their ammunition and were fighting with the bayonet, but were driven back by superior numbers. But it turned out later that they lost very heavily from shell fire, and, the trenches being too deep for the little men, they could produce no effect with their rifles, and could see nothing.
In other news my incredibly talented Brother-in-Law and brand new daddy, Aled Lewis, has released this brilliant limited edition poster for his upcoming art show based around British comedy. He’s thrown the Kitchener’s sink at it.
It’s so good it’s worth selling your Speckled Jim for.