February 1916

9th Week at War - 29th January - 4th February - Mesplaux Farm - continued from January

At the A.D.S., things remained quiet, with football being played daily according to 48563 Pte Ieuan Phillips until at 8.30pm on the 4th, the football field was shelled. 

 

10th Week at War - 5th - 11th February - Mesplaux Farm

The A.D.M.S. and D.A.D.M.S. of the 38th (Welsh) Division along with the O.C., Lt Col Davies visited and inspected the A.D.S. (Le Touret aka Rue de Bois) and the Aid Post at Tube Station. 

Le Touret Military Cemetery

The Military Cemetery near the site of the A.D.S. at Le Touret contains the graves of 908 identified casualties including the graves of 12 men who died during the Units three and a half week occupation of this A.D.S., nine of these are of men of the 38th (Welsh) Division including Capt James Gordon Davies aged 24 who was the O.C. of D company 10th Battalion Welsh Regiment (1st Rhondda) who died on the 9th February and 2nd Lt Henry Herbert Marsh aged 25, also of D Company 1st Rhondda who was killed on the 12th February.

Grave of Captain J G Davies

 

The Memorial at Le Touret commemorates about 13,400 British soldier who were killed in the sector stretching from Estaires in the north to Grenay in the south, between October 1914 and Spetember 1915 who have no known grave.

Le Touret Memorial

Although this area of the Western Front was considered a quiet sector at this time, it can be seem that there was a relentless toll of Officers and men both killed and injured. The 10th Battalion Welsh Regiment (1st Rhondda) lost 2 officers and one man killed and man wounded in a single 4 day tour in the front line between the 8th - 12th February.

 

On Tuesday 8th Feburary, the ADMS gave instructions, when he visited the Unit, that 4 men were to be posted at Tube Station Aid Post and 2 at the junction of Cadbury Corner and Princes Road but when it was discovered that there was no accommodation at Cadbury Corner, the two men were posted at Path House Post. On Wednesday, Capt Anderson, Capt Ffoulkes, Lieut Anderson and Lieut Elliott attended a Gas lecture at the recreation room at Lestrem.

On the 5th February, 48563 Pte Iuean Phillips was relieved at the ADS by another clerk and returned to the Unit's headquarters at Mesplaux Farm where he records in his diary spending every day of the week doing heavy fatigues. "If the war is to be decided by the amount of fatigue work, our side will win." he records and later "There seems to be a new jobs arising from every corner." Clearly, Lt Col Davies enthusiasm for fatigues was not necessarily shared by all his men.


 

11th Week at War - 12th - 18th February - Mesplaux Farm

The weather remained cold and unsettled and apart from the usual visits by the A.D.M.S., the early part of the week was quiet according to the War Diary but on Tuesday 15th, the hospital and A.D.S. were visited by Mr Owen Owen, Secretary of the Welsh Army Corps. 

In accordance with instructions from the A.D.M.S., the A.D.S. at Le Touret/Rue de Bois and the Aid Posts at Tube Station and Path House Post were handed over to a party from the 131st Field Ambulance on the 17th. 

On the 18th, Lt/Col Davies in company with Major Hayton D.A.D.M.S. of the 61st Division and also Major Mackie of the same Division visited the A.D.S. of the 5th Field Ambulance at Marais and also the Aid Post at Festubert.

 

Pont Mesplauts between Locon and Mesplaux Farm


 

12th Week at War - 19th - 25th February - Mesplaux Farm

The bridge between Mesplaux and Locon in 2015

On Saturday 19th, Capt Ffoulkes with 12 other ranks left at 08.30 am to take over the A.D.S. at Marais and on the following day, a further party of men left for the A.D.S. at Marais and later in the day, Lt/Col Davies visited both the A.D.S. at Marais and the Aid Post at Festubert (Map 3. C) situated in an estaminet, which was being heavily shelled at the time. Also on Sunday 20th, Lt Col Walton, Officer Commanding the 107th Field Ambulance, arrived with 3 officer and 55 other ranks who were attached to the Unit for instructional purposes. In just a few short months, the 130th (St John) Field Ambulance had gone from trainee to trainer!

On Monday the 21st, General Pike DMS inspected the Unit, the Hospital at Mesplaux Farm, and the Advanced Dressing Stations and congratulated Lt Col Davies stating that; "He had known this farm for a good many months and it had always appeared to him to be a hopeless place to convert into a Field Hospital but he could now state it was now one of the best, if not the best kept Field Ambulance in the 1st Army." High praise indeed and a testament to Lt Col Davies being a stickler for things being done properly and to the hard work of the men of the Unit.

The following morning there was a heavy fall of snow and the weather continued to be very cold with intermittent snow falls into Wednesday when the Unit received further praise from both Col T J Morgan A.D.M.S. 38th (Welsh) Division as well as from Major General Ivor Phillips, the Commander of the 38th (Welsh) Division who wrote. "Will you please convey to all the Officers, NCOs and men of the three Field Ambulances and of the Sanitary Section and Bacteriological Laboratory my congratulations. I have watched their work since they have been in France with much interest and have noted their steady progress. I hope this satisfactory report will be an incentive to all ranks for further effort so that the Field Ambulances of the 38th Division may eventually be held as second to none in the Army."

On Friday 25th, the Unit was visited by a number of Staff Officers accompanying a group of American journalists.

 


 

13th Week at War - 26th February - 3rd March - Mesplaux Farm 

Quite a number of patients were admitted on the night of 26th records 48563 Pte Iuean Phillips who was on night duty at the time. Lt Col Walton and C Section of the 107th Field Ambulance returned to their Unit on the 27th February and were replaced by A Section of the 105th Field Ambulance. On the 29th, Capt Anderson and Capt Ffoulkes departed for two weeks leave and Lieut Page proceeded to the 14th Welsh Regiment to act as RMO in place of Lieut McMillan who had been taken ill. 

The Unit continued to improve the facilities in and around Mesplaux farm with a large number of men employed in making a new horse standing on the 1st March.

New horse standing - it was never just medical work for the men of this Unit

This area of the Western Front was relatively quiet at this time and little of note happened during the rest of the week although the weather did improve and in spring sunshine, numerous aeroplane duels were visible overhead.