Oldham Historical Research Group

'What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
- Only the monstrous anger of the guns.'

from 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' by Wilfred Owen

1914 - 1918

From the National Archives: Unit War Diaries of the British Army 1914 - 1922

"These records are the unit war diaries of the British Army in the First World War. They are not personal diaries (try the Imperial War Museum for those). They are part of a large series of records, WO 95, which contains many more diaries scheduled for digitisation. We are now conserving, sorting, digitising and itemising thousands more diaries from the WO 95 series as part of our First World War 100 programme."
Full details on the National Archives website HERE

4th December 1915 - 31st December 1915 ... File WO-95_1663_2

Examples of Diary Pages

© Crown Copyright


© Crown Copyright



November 1916
December 1916
January 1917
February 1917

March 1917

April 1917
May 1917

DECEMBER 1915 ... File WO-95_1663_2

WO 95_1663_2-2
4th December - 15th December 1915

Next page : WO 95_1663_2-9

24th Manchester
Vol. 2
Transferred to 22nd Bde. 7th Div. Dec. 20th


Next page : WO 95_1663_2-10



Next page : WO 95_1663_2-11

Page 6
Ref map AMIENS Sheet 12, scale 1" to 1.26 miles

BERLES AU BOIS Dec 4th 9 pm
Weather : Wind less in strength; still S.W. continuous rain.
Situation : Quiet. A few H.E. shells were placed by the enemy on Groups 5 & 6. The two Companies of the 24th MANCHESTERS holding Groups 7 & 8 were relieved at 7 am by the 8th Leicesters.
TRENCHES required constant attention in revetting and draining.

BERLES AU BOIS Dec 5th 10 pm
Weather : Wind fresh S.W. Rain at intervals in daytime. Occasional sunshine.
Battalion left billets at BERLES, the last section clearing the village by 6:30 am.
HALLOY - Destination HALLOY via HUMBERCAMP - GAUDIEMPRE - PAS*. Roads were in bad state making it difficult for Transport. Battalion. Reported in billets complete with transport At 12:30 pm.
* Appendix II

AUTHEUX Dec 6th 11 pm.
Weather: Wind strong S.W. with heavy rain from noon till night.
Battalion cleared the village of HALLOY by 9 am. Destination AUTHEUX via DOULENS-HEM.
Roads were good. The Battalion was reported in billets complete with transport at 3 pm.


Next page : WO 95_1663_2-12

WO 95_1663_2-12

No. 4
4th Decr. 1915


Reveille will be at 4:00am and breakfast at 4:45am.
All wagons will be loaded by 5:20am.
Billetting party under Lieut. Murdoch will parade at Battalion Headquarters at 4:00am.

Starting point, junction of roads Midway BERLES AND POMMIER.
Transport will pass starting point at 5:45am
Order of march 'A', 'B', 'C', 'D'.

The head of 'A' Coy. by platoons at 200 yds. interval will pass starting point at 5:50am.
The head of 'B' Coy. by platoons at 200 yds. interval will pass starting point at 6:00am.
The head of 'C' Coy. by platoons at 200 yds. interval will pass starting point at 6:10am.
The head of 'D' Coy. by platoons at 200 yds. interval will pass starting point at 6:20am.

Machine Gun by sections at 200 yards interval will pass starting point at 6:30am, and the Band at 6:35am.

Battalion assembles at fork Road immediately WEST OF POMMIER.

In case of shelling on BERLES-POMMIER road, platoons will move over into valley North West of road. Band will not play until after Battalion has assembled. Great care is to be taken that all Billets and Latrines are left clean.

Each Company will have a baggage wagon sent to them this evening.
'D' Company will provide one Officer to march in rear of Transport to pick up stragglers.



Reveille 6:00am. Breakfast 8:00am. Battalion will be formed up ready to move off at 9:45am. Billetting party paraded at 7:45am under Lieut. Bateman. All wagons to be packed by 9am.

'A' Company will provide one Officer to march in rear of Transport
to pick up stragglers.


(signed) G.B. DEMPSEY. Lieut. and Adjutant.
24th (S) Battalion The Manchester Regiment.


Next page : WO 95_1663_2-13

Page 7

Ref Map AMIENS Sheet 12, Scale 1" to 1.26 mile

AUTHEUX Dec 7th 10 pm
Weather : Wind SW. Rain at intervals. Day was spent in cleaning equipment and clothing.
Bath houses and drying rooms were arranged.

AUTHEUX Dec 8th 11 pm
Weather : Bright during greater part of the day - dull towards evening.
Bombing trenches were constructed. Scheme for improving billeting accommodation was begun.
Lieut. Andrew and party of 30 men attached to 29th C.C.S. for duties under R.T.O. GEZAINCOURT

AUTHEUX Dec 9th 10 pm
Weather : Continuous rain during day - Wind light S.W.
Machine Gun work on Range. Trenches improved.

AUTHEUX Dec 10th 11 pm
Weather : Wind light S.W. Rain in early morning. Fine during greater part of day.
Bombing practices for bombers of all Companies.
Machine Gun practice on 30x Range.

AUTHEUX Dec 11th 11 pm
Weather : Wind light S.W. Showery.
Bombing practices were carried out. Improvement of billeting area continued.


Next page :WO 95_1663_2-14

Ref Map AMIENS Sheet 12, Scale 1" to 1.26 mile

AUTHEUX Dec 12th 11 pm
Weather : Fine and bright morning - Fine sleet shower in afternoon.
Training : Bombing Machine Gun classes held. Captain Prendergast and Lieut. Bateman left for 3rd Army School of Instruction.
Village Improvement Scheme* : Company latrines improved. Drains and roads cleared. Company Headquarters yards and Quarter Master's Store yard cleaned and metalled.
* 30th Divisional letter A/1351 d/- 4/12/15 Appendix III.

AUTHEUX Dec 13th 10 pm
Weather : Fine and bright - slight frost.
Training : Bombing Machine Gun & Wiring classes held.
Improvement Scheme : Ovens commenced (brick and clay). Latrines fitted with wooden seats and foot grids. Stone quarried for footpaths. Roads cleaned & mud carted away.

AUTHEUX Dec 14th 10 pm
Weather : Fine and bright - frosty.
Training : Classes in Bombing, Machine Gun and Wiring.
Improvement Scheme : Latrines partly thatched. One trench oven (clay) completed with brick.


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WO 95_1663_2-15

Bde. Ref. A.S.6[?].
Date 7/12/15
Appendix 3


1. With reference to this Office Letter No. A.524 dated 23rd November, 1915, the instructions issued thereon by the C.R.E. both by letter
and his conference of C.O.s on the 1st instant at FIENVILLERS on the subject of improving of billeting accommodation in this Divisional Area - C.O.s must realise that the provision of accessory buildings referred to is to be proceeded with at once with whatever materials are locally available.

The method of organising this work has been clearly laid down in the notes issued by the C.R.E. of the Division, and the general lines of the scheme therein set forth must be adhered to.

Each Brigade has an affiliated Company R.E. who will provide all materials indented for on a reasonable scale. At the same time it must be clearly understood that these R.E. Stores are only to be used for the purposes of this scheme.

A number of tools for the Brigade Workshop are now available at the Divisional R.E. Stores at CANDAS and Brigades will arrange to draw them immediately.

2. In regard to payment for buildings required for purposes of this scheme, such buildings should be acquired by agreement with the owners and paid for in billeting slips, the amount being based on the numbers the said buildings would accommodate if used as billets for men. In this way £2 per diem per 1000 men is available for Unit Commanders.

3. During the absence at training, Infantry Units proceeding to the trenches will leave behind 5% of selected personnel under a selected Officer for the purpose of carrying on the work in their Area whilst they are away. Separate instructions as to the training of the details as left are being issued.

One section Field Company R.E. will also be specially allotted to remain in each Brigade Area to assist in the provision of work in that Area.

Brigade Commanders will at once inform the C.R.E. of the localities in their Brigade at which they wish these R.E. sections to be established and will be responsible for their billeting etc.

4. G.O.C. Division holds Brigade Commanders responsible that the work in their area area is proceeded with forthwith. They should again impress on their Battalion Commanders the imperative necessity of giving practical effect to the instructions issued to them.

No excuses can be accepted accepted for failure of compliance.

5. A report is to be rendered to the Divisional Commander through the C.R.E. by noon on the 12th instant giving a clear statement by localities of work in their areas completed by that date. This report is required for the information of the Corps Commander.

Please acknowledge.

J. HUME SPREY. Lieut. Colonel.
A.A.&Q.M.G., 30th Division


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Ref Map Amiens Sheet 12, Scale 1" to 1.26 mile.

AUTHEUX Dec 15th 10pm
Weather : cold but fine - Wind N.E. Towards evening wind changed to S.E. - slight rain.
Training : Route March in morning. Route MACFER - MONASTIR - OCCOCHES - LE QUESNAL fm. - AUTHEUX. Distance about 8 miles. Roads were good and fairly hard.
Bombing, Machine Gun and Signalling classes.
Improvement Scheme : B Company wash house commenced. C Company latrines almost completed. Work held up owing to lack of material.
Lieut. Murdoch, Lieut. Lee and 4 N.C.O.s left for the 7th Divisional School of Instruction.

AUTHEUX Dec 16th 10pm
Weather : dull with occasional rain - Wind S.E.
Training : Classes in bombing, Machine Gun and Signalling. Wire Entanglement erected. Practice with very light ammunition*
Improvement Scheme : Footpath to C Coy. Latrine metalled - Latrine completed. Site of C Coy. ablution house being prepared.
The oven erected was put into use & was successful.
* Scheme attached.


WO 95_1663_2-2
16th December - 31st December 1915

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WO 95_1663_2-17

24th (Service) Battalion the Manchester Regiment


'D' Company will parade at 5:30 pm with picks and shovels. Half the Company will be told off to work in the four trenches on the range. Half a platoon in each trench. Then men will act as though actually occupying the trenches.

At 6:30 pm this half Company will be relieved by the other half Company which will be concealed in the sunken road. Every endeavour is to be made to carry out the relief in absolute silence.

The remainder of the Battalion will be drawn up at 6 pm in line 100 yards S of the 250 yard trench, and during the work and relief, Very Lights and llluminating Pistols will be fired and a careful note made of the visibility of the working parties and reliefs at the various ranges.

C.C. 'D' Company will arrange that on Lights going up half his men will endeavour to take cover, either by getting down in the trench, or in the case of reliefs, lying down in the open, so as to demonstrate the possibility of concealment from observation when flares are used.

For the purposes of this experiment it will be assumed that the trenches are facing S, instead of North. C.C. Companies will submit a report with their observations and remarks by 9 am the following day.

Every possible man to be on parade


Next page : WO 95_1663_2-18

WO 95_1663_2-18

Appendix IV

24th (Service) Battalion The Manchester Regiment

PRACTICE NO. 1 ........ 20 rounds

Appendix IV

24th (Service) Battalion The Manchester Regiment

PRACTICE NO. 1 ........ 20 rounds

1. One Section, under Section Leader, will be placed in the 250 yards fire trench. The men will stand to arms and on a signal being given, will fire 5 rounds rapid at fixed silhouette targets.

2. They will then climb out of the trench (on command being given) and advance at the double to the 200 yards fire trench and again fire 5 rounds rapid as in 250 yards trench.

3. This will be repeated at the 150 yards and 100 yards fire trenches, one continuous practice being made.

Sections will be under the control of Section Leaders, supervised by their platoon and Company Commanders.

Great care must be exercised that all safety catches are back before men leave the trench.

Bayonets will NOT be fixed.

Men must climb out of trench by the front, and all advances must be made at the double.

Hits will only be signalled at the close of each practice.


Next page :WO 95_1663_2-19

AUTHEUX Dec 17th 10:30 pm
Weather : S.S.W. wind. Slightly warmer - rain throughout the day.
Training : Bombing by employed men and one company.
Machine Gun classes & Signalling classes continued.
Two companies on the Long Range.
Scheme attached*.
Appendix IV
Village Improvement : Metalling of footpaths continued. Signboards to Company Headquarters, Latrines and Stores fixed up.
Yard of transport stables cleaned and repaired. Work on C Company ablution room continued.

AUTHEUX Dec 18th 11 pm
Weather : S.W. wind - dull inclined to rain.
Training : Wire Entanglements - Machine Gun and Signalling classes.

AUTHEUX Dec 19th 10 pm
Weather : Brighter - wind dropped.
Battalion left billets at AUTHEUX and marched to CONDE via DOMART and LA FOLIE AUBERGE. Distance about 15 miles. Roads swere good generally.
Appendix V

CONDE Dec 20th 9 pm
Weather : fine - slight breeze (S.W.) march continued to AUMONT via AIRAINES distance about 11 miles.
Roads wet but fairly good.
Appendix VI


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Appendix V
Copy No. 12
24th (Service) Battalion The Manchester Regiment
ORDER NO. 5. 18th December 1915

Reference Map. Sheet 12, 1/80,000

Reveille will be at 6 am.
Breakfast 7 am. All wagons to be loaded by 8 am.
Move off at 9 am.

ORDER OF MARCH - A, B, Band, C, D.
Company Offficers will detail one Subaltern and one man per billet to report to Captain F. Marshall, who will make a thorough inspection of the Village and Billets after the Battalion has marched off, and follow on in rear.
Dinners will be about 1 o'clock, on the road.

Appendix VI
Timetable will be as before, 19/12/15
ORDER OF MARCH - B, C, Band, D, A.

2/Lieut. Dunkerley will march in rear of the Transport on both days to collect stragglers. One motor lorry will carry the baggage of A and B Companies - the other C & D.
The Battalion will come under the orders of the Brigadier General Commanding, 22nd Infantry Brigade, 7th Division, on arrival at

(Signed) G.B. DEMPSEY. Lieut. and Adjutant.

No. 1 - 1st Brigade
No. 2 - 22nd Brigade
No. 3 - O.C. 'A' Coy.
No. 4 - O.C. 'B' Coy.
No. 5 - O.C. 'C' Coy.
No. 6 - O.C. 'D' Coy.
No. 7 - O.C. 'M.G.' Section.
No. 8 - Transport Officer
No. 9 - Quartermaster
No. 10 - Medical Officer
No. 11 - File
No. 12 - War Diary
No. 13 - War Diary


Next page : WO 95_1663_2-21

AUMONT Dec. 21st 10 pm.
Weather - Heavy rain most of day.
Improvement Scheme - Billets cleared and Improvement Scheme commenced.
Latrines dug.

AUMONT Dec. 22nd 10 pm.
Weather - Heavy rain in morning, fine rain in afternoon.
Improvement Scheme - Latrines partly fitted with seats. Roads cleaned. Site for Battalion Canteen chosen.
Training - Practice on 30 yds Range. Company dull : lectures.

AUMONT Dec. 23rd 11 pm.
Weather - S.W. wind fine during day. Slight rain in early morning and evening.
Improvement Scheme - Bombing trenches dug: House for canteen put in state of repair.
Training - Battalion Field Operations in the morning:- Rapid extensions : Emergency Formations. Company Training and Lectures in the afternoon.

AUMONT Dec. 24th 10 pm.
Weather - Strong breeze S.W. occasional rain during day.
Training - Brigade Scheme. The 24th Batt. Manchester Regt. formed part of the 22nd Brigade which was the Advance Guard to the 7th Division. The enemy (represented by 7th King's Liverpool Regt.) retired through FLOXICOURT from MOLIENS VIDAME.
Line taken up by 22nd Brigade was DREUIL - Fm LE COCQ - point 106. the 24th Manchester were in Brigade Reserve


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AUMONT Dec. 25th 11 pm Christmas Day
Weather - Wind S.S.W. Rain throughout day.
Services in the morning. Football Match in afternoon.
The Regimental Canteen was opened.

AUMONT Dec. 26th 10 pm
Weather - Wind N.E. fine.
Services were held in the morning - Football Match in the afternoon.

AUMONT Dec. 27th 10 pm
Weather - Wind N.E. rising to a gale at night.
Training - Company training, Musketry and Machine Gun classes.
Improvement Scheme - Incinerators provided for each Company. Permanent latrines in course of construction.
Manure heaps removed from billets and roads cleaned.

AUMONT Dec. 28th 10 pm
Weather - Wind N.E.fresh.
Training - Battalion attack on flagged enemy force about 2000 yards distance. Ammunition supply practised; Consolidation of position.
Improvement Scheme - Battalion baths constructed with good supply of hot water.
Latrine footpaths made with bricks and empty tins.


Next page : WO 95_1663_2-23

AUMONT Jan 29th 11pm
Weather - Wind N.E. fine.
Training - Grenade Instruction for Grenade Company : Company Training Machine Gun classes.
Village Improvement - work continued on roads and footpaths. Yards in billets cleaned and refuse removed.

AUMONT Jan 30th 10pm
Weather - Wind N.E. fine.
Training - Battalion Scheme in the morning. Advance Guard Action against flagged force. Consolidation of captured position.

AUMONT Jan 31st 9pm
Weather - Cloudy. wind changed to North. Heavy rain in the afternoon.
Training - Brigade Scheme - Attack on a retiring force represented by one battalion. The 24th Bn. Manchester Regt. were on the left of the attack.

J.B. Batten Lieut. Colonel commanding 24th Bn. Manchester Regiment.


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Transcribed by Sheila Goodyear
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