Category: world war 1

Last night Camerons shot a German who was trying to bomb one of their saps. His correspondence showed him to be a bright boy. It included letters from parents whose daughters he had wronged and deserted, a variety of affectionate letters from young women and about fifteen different addresses of Frauleins.

Found the French next to us most cheery and looking wide awake. They had an awful contraption called a “piège à Boches”, so arranged that any German jumping in was impaled and caught in barbed wire. This French division has been in this part of the line since mid-October, and their little pathetic groups of graves just behind parts of our trenches, mark places where snipers are active.

They apparently have some facetious Germans opposite Givenchy now.
One of them shouted across to the Welsh Regt. “Is there anyone there from Swansea?”
Several answered “Yes”, whereupon he hurled a hand grenade across, with the remark – “Then you can divide that among you, you blighters.”

One burst a few feet over the crest-line, hitting gun, horses and my own poor horse. I had just time to call to the gunner drivers that it was no use running about when another 5.9 H.E shell came just right for us.  It struck a little tree about 12 foot up its trunk and exploded.
I felt something hit me on the left breast and on right instep, no pain and did not think I was wounded. I looked up and heard Corpl. Jack saying his leg was broken, and the lad laying next to me looked pitifully round and I saw he was practically disembowelled by the base of the shell.
Then I opened my shirt, found a fair hole about 4 inches above the left nipple, and a lot of blood flowing, foot only bruised, but very painful, and end of the left spur shot away. The bullet, or shell fragment, had gone through my medal ribbons.
Did not feel sick and was not spitting blood, so concluded it was not serious, but as well to clear out; picked up my kit, got out the field-dressing and stepped off down the road. Clancy of the machine-gun detachment helped me unpack the FFD which I held on the wound. Halfway down the hill found B and C companies just arrived with Stephen; also my poor horse lying dead. Stephen had just finished him off. Secured my sword, on which the horse had fallen, bending it to scythe shape, and offered it to the advanced dressing station at Vendresse.
There Meaden diagnosed my trouble as a superficial injury; but he was wrong, as I know the bullet if not in me will be in my trousers. Got a dressing put on, felt fine, and asked if I might return to the battalion. This was refused, and quite right, as I soon felt groggy with loss of blood, and pain and stiffness increased.
At about 1 I drove off on the box of a horsed ambulance to Villers 4-5 miles back, and beyond the Aisne, where a fresh dressing was put on, and the missle was found lying on my breast bone. I decided not to have it out then as I had had enough interesting incidents for one day.

Of the sights and sounds at the dressing station it is better not to write.

November 30 1919, JelgavaThe truce between the Ulmanis government in Riga and the German forces in Latvia was fraying by the fall.  The Latvians and the Allies were both losing patience in the German presence in the area nearly a year after the Armistice.  Goltz attempted to keep them there by claiming that they were actually part of the West Russian Volunteer Army, under the command of one Bermont-Avalov, a committed czarist.  This did not convince anyone, however, and attempts to enlist the Latvians in an invasion of Russia to coincide with the push by Yudenich and the Estonians on Petrograd fell on deaf ears.  In early October, attempting to go through the Latvians instead, Bermont-Avalov pushed his forces ahead to the west bank of the Daugava.

In mid-October, however, the Latvians counterattacked, and by mid-November had reached Jelgava.  Freikorps reinforcements from East Prussia, arriving despite attempts by the German government to stop them, prevented a complete encirclement at Jelgava.  Bermont-Avalov resigned and hoped to hand over control of his forces back to the German Army.  The Germans attempted to negotiate another ceasefire but were rebuffed; on November 26, the Latvians declared that they were at war with Germany.  On November 30, the last Germans were pushed across the border into Lithuania.  The Latvians wanted to pursue, especially once they saw the damage inflicted by the Germans during their retreat, but were dissuaded by the French.  The French also negotiated a ceasefire between Lithuania and the Germans, who crossed back over the border into East Prussia before long.  Germany’s postwar adventures in the Baltic were over, at least until 1939.

Sources include: Prit Buttar, The Splintered Empires

The band of the 21 Australian Battalion rehearse in the middle of a ruined farmyard at Cappy, 7 September 1918.

Australian troops prepare a meal in their billet among the ruins of a house near Ypres, 9 November 1917.

Arab revolutionaries inspecting a Bristol F.2B of No. 1 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps, while Australian officers watch on. 

Australian soldiers outside a bath house near Ypres on 1 November 1917.

The Smart Set concert party of the 4 Australian Division discussing alternative arrangements in the ruins of their improvised concert hall, 31 May 1918.