May 1916

22nd Week at War - 29th April - 5th May La Gorgue - continued from April

For the next six weeks or so, the Unit's War Diary largely consists of lists of the number of sick and wounded Officer and men admitted and transferred i.e.. 5th May: Cases admitted 8am on 4/5/16 to 8am on 5/5/16 - Wounded 3 Officers, 4 Other Ranks: Sick 15 Other Ranks. I have not included these figures in the text of this history except where they help to illustrate the activity of the Unit during a particular day. During this time, while stationed at the Hospital, 48563 Pte Phillips records doing a week on night duty alternating with a week on day duty, the switch overs occurring on a Saturday. He recorded that the weather was "very warm again" on Saturday 29th April and that on the 30th he was "feeling in the pink of condition" and on the 1st May he went for a walk to Estaires and Sailly.

Red House (13th London) Cemetery

On the 1st May, 48554 Pte G H Jickells recorded that he was one of a party (of men) to march back from the A.D.S. at Laventie to the Unit H.Q. at La Gorgue and further records that while back at H.Q., they had a good time. During his time back at La Gorgue, the weather was lovely and that they always had 2 men on duty at a certain place on the canal bank from 9am to 5pm for bathing parades.

On the 2nd of May, the Unit was visited by the D.A.D.M.S. in reference to the estimated 100 tons of old manure that had been left on the horse lines by the 19th Division and arrangements were made with a local farmer just outside La Gorgue, for this manure to be placed on his land. What an unpleasant fatigue for the men of the Unit!

The men of the Unit were inspected in full marching order by the A.D.M.S and the men's gas helmets, goggles, contents of valises and haversacks including their clothing and boots were examined and found to be most satisfactory.

Friday 5th May was the Unit's 13th pay day in France and 48563 Pte Phillips received 10 Francs. 

23rd Week at War - 6th May - 12th May La Gorgue

The Hospital was inspected by the D.D.M.S. XI Corps in company with the A.D.M.S. 38th (Welsh) Division on the 6th May and 48563 Pte Phillips changed from day to night duty at La Gorgue and had a quiet night.

Time went by quickly records 48554 Pte G H Jickells in his diary, especially with us general duty stretcher bearers. Every three days we should be on guard, either at H.Q., the (Divisional) Laundry or the Corps Rest Station. All the above guards were for 24 hours, falling in at 9am properly dressed and clean and we were dismissed the following morning for the rest of the day. We were always detailed for guard, 3 men and an NCO and our beats were 2 hours on and 4 off. Not such a tough time!

On Monday 8th May, the Lt Col Davies carried out a clothing inspection of the men at the A.D.S. at Laventie and did the same for the men at the Unit HQ at La Gorgue on the following day.

24th Week at War - 13th May - 19th May La Gorgue

On Saturday 13th May, Lieut Thomas J Buckley returned from leave and reported for duty with the Unit and 48563 Pte Phillips changed from night to day duty and had a busy day.

Laventie Church 1914 and 1917 showing the destruction done.

On the 15th May, Capt Anderson relieved Capt Ffoulkes at the A.D.S. at Laventie and Capt Ffoulkes proceeded to the 13th Battalion the Welsh Regiment (2nd Rhondda) to relieve their MO Lieut Reynolds who reported to duty for training with the 130th (St John) Field Ambulance at La Gorgue. Capt Ffoulkes described his time with the 13th Welsh in a letter home dated 26th May 1916. "A great number of medical officers are now undergoing a course of instruction at Field Ambulances and we are put in regiments to replace them. I came to this battalion on my birthday - the day before they proceeded to the trenches. They were then completing 8 days rest at the town where the headquarters of our Field Ambulance is situated (La Gorgue). We came to the trenches for four days, then went into reserve for four days to the small town where the Advanced Dressing station is situated (Laventie). We came to the trenches again last night, remain here for 4 days, then in reserve for 4 days after which the battalion will go into rest for 8 days and then proceed to another part of the line but I shall probably not be with them then. The work is quite interesting but has the disadvantage that we are never settled long in the same place. 

Red House (rebuilt) 2015

This photograph of the rebuilt Red House is taken looking east towards the front line, standing on the road back to Laventie. The Red House (13th London) Cemetery is a couple of hundred yards to the left.

Capt Ffoulkes letter continued. We had a moderately quiet time in the line and casualties have been few and only 3 or 4 fatal. I had a good deal of work to do the first few days - improving the sanitary conditions of our surroundings etc and things are now fairly well established. I am attached to battalion headquarters (when in the line - this was located at Red House where the Unit also had an Aid Post) which consist of the Colonel - Colonel Packe, Major Edwards, second in command, the adjutant, machine gun officer and I. We have quite a decent roomy dug out as a mess. I have a dug out close by as sleeping apartment and an adjoining one which serves as a dressing room. In this area the line is in splendid condition and at times it is difficult to realise that the Hun is only 300 yards away. His own parapet is also in good condition (we have occasional peeks at it through a periscope) but it looks a trifle lower than ours."

Viewing the German trenches with a periscope

German aeroplanes bombed La Gorgue and outskirts on the 16th but no men of the 130th (St John) Field Ambulance were injured. On the same day, Lt Anderson proceeded on leave as did Lt Burke who had been on duty at the Labour Corps Hospital. Lt Burke was able to go on leave in place of Capt Anderson (MO of the 19th Pioneer Battalion, the Welsh Regiment) whose leave was cancelled due to an outbreak of small pox in their camp!

On the 17th a medical inspection of the men of the Unit was carried out and the summer horse standing was completed and put to use.

The Units 14th Pay day in France occurred on Friday the 19th and 48563 Pte Phillips received 20 Francs! 


25th Week at War - 20th May - 26th May La Gorgue

On the 21st, 48563 Pte Phillips managed a trip to Hazebrouck and on the 23rd witnessed an aeroplane duel which he described in his diary as "Excitement intense."

The night of the 24th saw a large number of wounded being admitted to the Unit.

On Friday 26th, Lt Col D E Evans, the OC of the 2/3 Welsh Field Ambulance reported to the Unit and was shown by Lt Col Davies the Main Dressing Station (M.D.S.) at La Gorgue and also the Divisional Baths, Laundry and Labour Corps Hospital at La Gorgue, the Unit's A.D.S. at Laventie and the Units old M.D.S. at Mesplaux. He was also shown the new steel shelter, now completed with window and door, all thoroughly sandbagged at Laventie East Aid Post. All the work of the men of the Unit and also the Aid Posts at Red House and Hougemont, where the men of the Unit where constructing a further shelter. 


26th Week at War - 27th May - 2nd June La Gorgue

48071 Sgt Maj William Stroud proceeded on leave in the evening of the 27th and Lt Col Davies visited the A.D.S. at Laventie and reported that the work of filling in the new shelter at Hougemont Post had started.

Lieut Buckley was posted for temporary duty to the 119th Brigade R.F.A. on the 28th and the following day, Lieuts Anderson and Burke returned to the Unit from leave.

On the 31st, the M.D.S. at La Gorgue was visited by the G.O.C. 38th (Welsh) Division who expressed his satisfaction with the arrangements and work carried out by the Unit which he wished to be notified to the Officers and other ranks of the Unit.

26th Week at War is continued in June.