28 March 1916

Extract from the diary of Harrison Johnston, the 15th (Service) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, 105th Infantry Brigade, 35th Division

11-50 p.m.  I found some men not quite on the job – also some N.C.Os and officers, I am sorry to say.  They evidently did not expect me and found braziers in dugouts more attractive than the fire trenches.  Of course all sentries were all right but the N.C.Os and officers all gave similar explanations – “just came in for a match,” “to ask the time,” “to get gloves,” &c., &c. I was rather harsh, but it was needed.  They won’t forget it.  I ordered “stand-to” for 4-30 – very little firing took place and we “stood down” at 5-15 a.m. It was very wet all night and most of the day – cold and uncomfortable.

After rifle inspection at 5-45 we got breakfast.  Then got working parties (mostly draining) on the job at 7 a.m.

I sent out two patrols at night – it was a beastly wet night.  Willy took one of the three men, and SERGT. Brittain took the other three men.

Captain Earle, Brigade Bombing Officer, came up this morning.  I told him our grenades would not reach so he offered to bring up a few that would reach there.  He came up with them and a lot of men, rifles (for grenades), &c., this afternoon, also a cake in a box and invited himself for tea. We were glad to see the lad.

Earle’s strafe came off all night and he fired 19 Newton grenades, nine of which landed plumb in Fritz’s trench – not bad, eh?

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