24 June 1916

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


We got up 8.30 having been advised that “no parade until 9 am.” We them had a “field dressing and iodine inspection” and prepared for M.O.’s inspection at 10 am. The M.O. did not arrive until nearly 11 am. He fond very few cases in X Company, skins quite good on the whole. Later we had rifle inspection and then dismissed.

At 7.30 pm we had a concert in Y Company’s billets. The Brigadier turned up and, rally, the concert was good, Our musical drill experts gave a turn and it was a great success, also Hunt, a company runner, gave a typical song which went well. I write him a couple of verses which went down well. Liet. Austin dressed as a girl, was a great success. He sang three songs. He has a fine tenor voice and he took the place by storm.

At half-time the Brigadier made an announcement “The British Offensive has commenced.” We are in reserve. We all pray to-night “May God help the British Push. We’re ready and anxious to help. At last it’s started. As I write I can hear our guns pounding way. I have been out watching the Huns coloured light signals going up. I’ve seen those signals at closer quarters and I know what most of them man – “Artillery support,” “Enemy attacking,” &c. Please God we will break their line this time and help to end this terrible business. Fritz is sick of it. We may sometimes think of you, but we’re going to “stick it” and rub it in. He wanted this business and he’ll get it – but we’ll see it to the end.

I’m going to bed now (midnight 24 June) but before I get in, I shall get on my knees and pray to God this may be the beginning of the end of this horrible nightmare. We may be called out at any minute and we’re ready. I’m a silly old optimist but we’re got him – got him by the neck. “Wait and See.” Good-night.

 Extract from the official war diary of 11th Bn, 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment

The Battalions stay at ST OUEN was a very agreeable one, and the weather was on the whole fine. A fine agricultural area was available for Training purposes and schemes of Attack, outposts &c were carried out. The surrounding country in this neighbourhood is very beautiful.

 On the 24th Capt J. H. L. Abell was reprimanded by the G.O.C. Division for writing a letter of an insubordinate character to his Commanding Officer. Capt Abell was warned that a repetition of this offence would entail trial by Court Martial.

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