30th July 1917

Another wet morning and, after the usual makeshifts involving rifle, ammunition and kit inspection, preparation for battle was further improved by more lectures.  Lt Lowndes, who always knew his subject, spoke about “Outposts” but Lt Marsh on “Naval Badges of Rank” raised little enthusiasm.  We deduced that those in authority were running out of subject matter.

In the afternoon, under Lt Chilton the company snipers established outposts with a view to observing movements some half a mile away across a valley.  Each post was manned by two snipers; in theory one man kept his eye on the telescope whilst the other noted down each incident as it took place.  In practice Rfn. P.E.Walter and I devised a less exhausting scheme.  The job we dreaded could easily be done by one person and taken in short spells whilst the other was free to doze or gather the wild strawberries which abounded in the woods behind us.  We were later commended on the accuracy of our report!

1:57 Shot fired.
2:05 Man appears at left hand end of trench.
2:10 Shot fired.
2:11 Running man, left of trench.
2:12 Shot fired from extreme left.
2:14 Signs of digging, left end of trench.
2:15 Shot fired.
2:16 Man appears in shirtsleeves, handkerchief on head, smoking and carrying sandbag at left of trench.
2:17 Second man, rifle at the trail, enters trench at point where parapet repaired.
2:18 Signs of digging at same spot. Two men appear repairing parapet.
2:20 Sniper’s post erected. Men disappear.
2:21 Signalling from sniper’s post.
2:24 Tin hat fixed on parapet.
2:25 Tin hat removed. Signalling from sniper’s post.
2:26 Shot fired from right of sniper’s post.
2:27 Shot from sniper’s post.
2:28 Man appears from top of hill and disappears into sniper’s post.
2:29 Shot from sniper’s post.
2:32 Hat-less and carrying coat, man appears left of sniper’s post, runs towards hill and disappears in trench.
2:34 Same man, apparently, returns to sniper’s post.

The value of the exercise was dubious.  Normally telescopes and telescopic rifles were safely locked up in Quartermaster stores and there they remained out of harm’s way when the Battalion was in the line.

Original observation report

Wet. Sick again.
Rifle, ammunition and kit inspection.
Lectures Lt Lowndes and Lt Marsh - "Outposts".
Observation under Mr Chilton in afternoon.

Original diary entry
Original journal notes