March 1916

 

14th Week at War - 4th - 10th March - Mesplaux Farm

On Saturday the 4th March it snowed again. More space was obtained at Mesplaux Farm with permission being granted for the Unit to use a Granary as accommodation for 40 men. The weather remained cold and there was a further heavy fall of snow in the evening. A section of the 105th Field Ambulance departed from the Unit at 10am on the 5th having completed their week's instruction. Further improvements were made to the Hospital and headquarters at Mesplaux Farm with a joiners shop being erected on the 7th and work on the horse standing was proceeded with on the 9th. Lt Col Davies visited and inspected the advanced dressing station every few days.

Friday 10th was the 8th payday for the Unit and 48563 Pte Ieuan Phillips received 10 francs.

Festubert in 1915 - much as the Unit will have found it 

 


 15th Week at War - 11th - 17th March - Mesplaux Farm

A concert was held in the Barn on the evening of Saturday 11th with a Piano being acquired for the occasion. This was a huge success and very enjoyable records 48563 Pte Iuean Phillips. During this week, the weather remained very changeable, varying from warm, fine days to very cold and snowing. On Monday 13th, instructions were received by the Unit to make arrangements at the Bearer Post at Festubert to dry the socks of the 2 Battalions in the trenches and to massage the feet of the men who required such treatment, with whale oil.

Trench foot inspection

Strict attention to foot hygiene was essential in the wet conditions that the soldiers were forced to live and fight and regular inspections were a necessary duty to help prevent 'trench foot', a serious and debilitating condition caused by standing in cold wet mud/water for long periods but it can not have been the most pleasant task for the men of the Unit. On the following day, the Horse transport of the Unit was inspected by the Officer Commanding the 38th (Welsh) Divisional Train (Transport rather than steam engine) and stated that it was the best kept transport he had yet seen in the Division. More praise for the Unit's hard work.

The D.D.M.S. II Corps and the D.A.D.M.S. 38th (Welsh) Division visited the Hospital at Mesplaux Farm on Thursday and on the following day Lieut Elliott proceeded to the 13th Royal Welsh Fusiliers (RFW) to act as temporary Medical Officer (MO) and Lieut Burke proceeded to 232nd Company Royal Engineers (RE) for the same purpose.

 


 

16th Week at War - 18th - 24th March - Mesplaux Farm 

The weather remained very cold all this week with further snow falls on Friday 24th which was also the Unit's 9th payday in France.

Biplane over the snow covered trenches

Things remained fairly quiet for the Unit with little reported in the War Diary for the week except for the regular visits to the Unit by the A.D.M.S. and D.A.D.M.S. and the O.C. visiting the Advanced Dressing Station (A.D.S.). On the 20th, Lieut Buckley proceeded to the 10th South Wales Borderers (S.W.B.) to act as temporary M.O.. This temporary attachment of the M.O.s of the Unit to other units in the Division was common. The infantry Battalions and other units only had a single M.O. and if they went on leave, were sick, wounded or killed, this left them with no medical cover so the Field Ambulances of the Division with 9 or more M.O.s would fill in for these M.O.s until they returned to duty or were replaced.

 


 

17th Week at War - 25th - 31st March - Mesplaux Farm

Major W Bickerton Edwards reported for duty on Sunday 26th March, his arrival from England having been delayed by ill health. His arrival was not welcomed by all, Capt Ffoulkes at the A.D.S. wrote in a letter to his family' "Major Edwards has returned to us too. he looks very well and has completely recovered but I don't think any of us are frightfully keen on having him back. He and Col Davies came to see me yesterday (27th/28th March) . I believe there is some discontent amongst the Officers at Headquarters already. Major Edwards is so bigheaded and it is a shame that he should come and upset everything when we have always been happy together without friction. It is a pity he was not kept at a home station."

On the following day, 96 men of the Unit were inoculated against typhoid and many of them may well have had an agonising night and been sore and unwell for several days as 48563 Pte Iuean Phillips did. Certainly, Capt Ffoulkes records that he felt "rather seedy" for a few days afterwards. 

Having been with the Unit in France for less than a week, Major W Bickerton Edwards was attached to the 129th Field Ambulance and he was struck of the strength off the 130th (St John) Field Ambulance on the following day which 48563 Pte Phillips records as "Rough luck".