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

2nd March 1916 - 31st March 1916 ... 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

MARCH 1916 ... File WO-95_1663_2

WO 95_1663_2-2
2nd March - 15th March 1916

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22nd Brigade
7th Division
MARCH 1916


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24th Manchesters
Vol. 5
7 Div.
MARCH 1916
Vol. V


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Volume V
MARCH 1916

MORLANCOURT Mar. 2nd, 10pm
Weather - Fine & dull. Afternoon bright. Wind S. to S.W.
Situation - The two Coys. at CITADEL and GIBRALTER were relieved by the 2nd Warwicks the relief being complete at 12:15pm
Work done - The 7:30am wiring party was found by Coy. at CITADEL.
In addition the following parties were found for the R.Es. from the two Coys. at MORLANCOURT:-
2 parties 50 men each, 5 full ranks & 1 officer at BARRIER at 6pm.
One man was killed and one wounded from working party of B Coy. in Rue ALBERT.

MORLANCOURT Mar. 3rd, 10pm
Weather - Fine, dull. Later rain. Wind gentle N.W.
Work done - Road fatigues were found for roads '13'.
In addition parties for R.E. were found as follows:-
2 parties 50, 5 full ranks & 1 officer West End MAIDSTONE AV. at 9:30am
70 men, 7 full ranks & 1 officer at BARRIER at 6pm

MORLANCOURT Mar. 4th, 10pm
Weather - Cold, Snow & sleet. Wind N. to N.W.
Work done - 30 men, 3 full ranks & 1 officer were found at BDE. H.Q. 8:30am for road fatigue.


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TRENCHES C2 SECTOR Mar. 5th, 10pm
Weather - Fine & cold. Later sleet. Wind gentle, N.
Situation - We took over C2 sub-section of trenches from 20th Manchesters the relief being complete by 12:45. C Coy. on left, D on the right in front line, A in KINGSTON AVENUE, B at 71 North, Battn. H.Q. at 71 S.
Hostile artillery active on the left between 12noon and 3:30pm. One man C Coy. slightly wounded. Rifle grenades were sent over at intervals during the hours 5pm & 6pm. The evening was fairly quiet; a few canisters being sent once which our artillery soon silenced.
Work done: -
Trenches 84 - 87 were pumped out and cleared & fire bays in 86 built up.
The wire in front of our sector strengthened and repaired and all trenches cleared.
Parties from 71 N cleaning CANTERBURY AVENUE, SEEGAR, NEW CUT. This Coy. also found parties for carrying rations to Coys. in front line & KINGSTON ROAD.

TRENCHES C2 SECTOR Mar. 6th, 10pm
Weather - Fine frosty. Wind N. N.W.
Situation - Quiet until 12:15 when one or two torpedoes were sent over doing us damage. One man in right half sector was killed by sniper. Artillery was active on both sides between 2 and 3:30pm. One man on working party from 71 N was hit by a canister from T.M. and killed in SHOOTERS HILL. A hostile mine was exploded at 5:30pm between 81A & 81B, nearer the enemy's lines than ours. At the same time canisters were [continued on next page]


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TRENCHES C2 SECTOR Mar. 6th, 10pm
Situation [continued from last page] - sent over from T.M. No damage was done to our front by mine. A dugout in 83 B was blown in by canister. One man was buried but rescued unhurt. Machine guns were active throughout the night but otherwise everything quiet.
Work done - Wiring was continued and old wire improved along the front.
Trenches were cleared and parapets strengthened. Floor boards were put down in KINGSTON RD. Working parties were on clearing SEEGAR CUT. The Coy. at 71 N supplied all the parties for carrying material from R.E. to Coys. in front line and KINGSTON RD.

TRENCHES C2 SECTOR Mar. 7th, 10pm
Weather - Fine and frosty. Wind N. to N.W.
Situation - the situation was quiet in the morning. In the afternoon the enemy used rifle grenades intermittently on trench 83. One man was slightly wounded from shrapnel. Artillery was fairly active between 5pm and 6pm. There were no casualties on our side.
The night was quiet except for intermittent machine gun fire.
Work done :-
In KINGSTON RD. revetting of fire base continued. Four traverses were made, trench boards laid and parapet improved in this trench.
First system of wire completed at 83B. Trench 83 was cleared and widened.
[continued on next page]


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TRENCHES C2 SECTOR Mar. 7th, 10pm
Work done [continued from last page] : -
parapets were strengthened and trenches cleared.
On the left a new dugout was commenced in 87; good communication made between 85 and RUNDLE AVENUE. Company at 71 North continued clearing CANTERBURY AVENUE and NEW CUT and supplied all carrying parties.

TRENCHES C2 SECTOR Mar. 8th, 10pm
Weather - Fine and bright. Wind S.E. Light breeze.
Situation - Companies redistributed in the front line. A Company relieved C in left half sector; B Company relieved D Company in right half sector. C Company returned to KINGSTON ROAD and D Company to 71 NORTH. Reliefs were complete by 12 noon.
The enemy fired a few H.E. shells on left half sector in the morning knocking in a dugout. One man was killed in 86 at 11am by field gun shell, and one man wounded in 87 by a rifle grenade.
83 trench and RUE ALBERT was fired on by enemy trench mortars at 7pm & 9am.
Rifle grenades were also thrown on to 83 trench. Enemy machine guns were active during the night 7th - 8th.
Supposed enemy trench mortar positions spotted at F3c 55 61, F3c 60.56, F3c 64.56, F3c 72.41, F3c 69.36. These mortars appear to have a range of 1000x and fire a heavy projectile.
[continued on next page]


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TRENCHES C2 SECTOR Mar. 8th, 10:30pm
Situation [continued from last page] - Enemy machine gun spotted. This gun sweeps parapet from CEMETERY to 85 TRENCH, and will be fired on.
Enemy trench enfiladed from F9B 40.40 to F9B 75.40 from 86 trench. Enemy sniper's loophole detected F9B 71.08
Work done : -
Left Half Sector- Shelter constructed near M.G.O's dugout and fire trenches cleared in left half sector.
Dugouts in course of construction in 86 trench and KINGSTON ROAD.
85, 86, 87 trenches and CEMETERY ST. cleaned. New traverse in course of construction in 87 and sap deepened in 87. Fire steps revetted in 85 - 86 - 87.
Right Half Sector - RUE ALBERT cleaned - sand bag traverse completed. 83 trench blocked and cleaned also 81 B
trench cleaned and widened. Upper part of BURLINGTON AVENUE cleaned and trench boards relaid.

TRENCHES C2 SECTOR Mar. 9th, 10pm
Weather - Frosty, fine and bright. Wind E.N.E.
Situation - Quiet in the morning. At 1pm the 413 T.M. (Stoke's Gun) battery opened fire on the enemy to try and draw fire from enemy trench mortars. Observers had previously been posted to spot the hostile mortar for our artillery. The ruse was not altogether successful and so, as arranged, our artillery fired on supposed [continued on next page]


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TRENCHES C 2, Mar. 9th, 10pm
[continued from last page] enemy mortar positions and on the AEROPLANE TRENCH in which several H.E. shells exploded. This bombardmentstarted at 2:15pm and lasted about an hour. The enemy replied very little and only knocked in the parapet at the top of 82B and blocked the same street near RUE ALBERT. There were no casualties.
Work done :-
Left Half Sector - Wire strengthened in front of open sap in 86 Trench. 30 yds. of concertina and barbed wire were put up.
86 (bay 5) cleaned up and blown in parapet re-built. Traverse commenced opposite open sap in 86 trench.
Right Half Sector - Traverses in course of construction in 84 and 82B. Trenches deepened at 81B & 83C

TRENCHES C 2, Mar. 10th, 10pm
Weather - Wind fresh N.E. Fine during day. Slight fall of snow during night 9th - 10th.
Situation -
Left Half Sector - Enemy shelled left half sector with H.E. and knocked down parapet at 87(3). Canisters were dropped late at
night, no damage done. One man slightly wounded


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TRENCHES C 2, Mar. 10th, 10pm
Situation :
[continued from last page] Right Half Sector - Enemy fired rifle grenades and trench mortars in right half sector, very little damage was done.
CANTERBURY AVENUE was shelled at intervals during the day; several fragments falling in 71 North.
Intelligence - Trench mortar position verified - F3c 69.36. sniper located at F3c 69.36 - 73.29. Supposed enemy machine gun emplacement at F9b 70.08. Supposed aerial torpedo battery at F9a 02.75
Work : -
Open sap at 86(12) filled in. Shelter and traverse 86(12) continued.
L.H.S. - 30x wire erected opposite 86(b). Broken parapets repaired. Trenches 85, 86, 87 trenches cleared.
R.H.S. - ALBERT ROAD cleaned up. Broken parapet at 82b repaired and trench deepened. Traverse in course of construction at 84. Trench 81b deepened.
Support Line - KINGSTON ROAD being traversed and revetted. QUARRY TRENCH cleaned and deepened. Trench boards laid in CANTERBURY AVENUE.



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Weather - Cold and dull inclined to snow. Wind fresh N.E..
Situation - There was a heavy bombardment on our right during the night of the 10th-11th. The situation on our front was quiet generally.
The battalion was relieved in C2 Sector by 12 noon. The 20th Manchester Regt. taking over the line. The 24th Manchesters returned to billets at MORLANCOURT, three companies occupying the huts and one company in the East end of the village.

Weather - Fine and bright. Wind fresh N.E. Much warmer.
Work :-
One party of 15 men eight hours road making BRAY - CORBIE RD.
One party of 25 men cleaning roads in the billet area.
The baths at VILLE were utilised by half the battalion during the day. Inspections of clothing, equipment and boots were held and deficiencies made up.


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Weather - Fine and warm. Breeze N.W. Slight thunderstorm at 7pm.
Work :-
Four parties of 50 O.R. and 1 officer for work in the trenches as carrying parties. 6 hours.
One road fatigue of 15 men road repairing on the BRAY - CORBIE RD.

Weather - Fine and warm. Breeze N.W.
2nd LIEUTS. J. SUTCLIFFE, J.L. CLAYTON & H. DRAKE joined the battalion this day.
Work :-
Three parties of 50 each under an officer for work in the trenches making dugouts and carrying. 6 hours.
One road party of 15 men repairing road BRAY - CORBIE.
Situation - A heavy bombardment lasting about 20 minutes was heard on our right. It started about 9:15pm.

Weather - Dull in the morning - Fine and warm in the afternoon.
Situation - Scheme* of numbering trenches C1 and C2 sectors based on MAP Sheet F (MEAULTE) introduced at midnight
15th/16th inst.
* attached


WO 95_1663_2-2
16th March - 31st March 1916

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Weather - Fine. Wind changed late in afternoon to S.W.
Work :-
Road repairing party of 15 men 8 hours.
Road cleaning party of 20 men 4 hours.
Baths - the Baths at VILLE were allotted to the battalion for the day.

Weather -Wind South. Fine drizzle rain in the morning.
Situation - The battalion relieved the 20th Manchesters in C2 Sector. Attached are orders for the relief.
Enemy sent over some H.E. shells on our left but no damage was done. On our right half sector 80A was blown in. Capt. Frank Marshall (O.C. B Company) was killed by a sniper at about 9:30pm whilst directing a working party behind the parados of the right
half sector.
The enemy was very active with machine guns at about 10:30pm.


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C2 TRENCHES Mar 18th, 11pm
Weather - Fine and bright. Wind S.E. fresh.
Situation - Operations - nils. The night was too moonlight for patrols.
Enemy's artillery was active during the day on our support line and on the CEMETERY. Our wire was damaged on the left. Enemy trench mortars were active at 8am, 3:15pm and at 11pm. Very little damage reported. An enemy wiring party was dispersed at F3c 83.42 on the night of the 17th inst.
Intelligence - German trenches repaired at F9b 41.46 and new enemy wire put up at F3c 96.13. New sandbagging at F9b 79.04. Large amount of smoke emitted from vicinity of RED COTTAGE at 6:30am 18inst.
Work -
Left Half Sector - Parados of 85 - II and 86 - I revetted partially. New dugout deepened. 87 Street cleared. Work hindered by hostile artillery.
Right Half Sector - parapet rebuilt at 8.2m. RUE ALBERT cleaned.
Support Line - KINGSTON RD. deepened. New dugouts under construction. RAILWAY AVENUE being cleared - trench boards laid. Lewis Gun firing position built in KINGSTON ROAD.



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TRENCHES C2 Mar. 19th to 20th, 6pm to 6pm
Weather - Fine slightly overcast but warm. Wind S.E.
Intelligence - A mine was blown by us in C1 Sector at 6:30pm 19th inst. It was noticed that the enemy replied with T.Ms. and R.Gs. within a quarter of a minute.
Enemy artillery was quiet on C2 sector. Trench mortars were active after explosion of mine. Fewer rifle grenades etc. have been used by the enemy during the last three days. It would appear that a redistribution or relief has taken place in the enemy line.
Enemy aeroplane dropped darts on our lines at KINGSTON ROAD. No damage was done. Our Lewis gun kept back enemy transport wagons until 2am on the 20th inst. by firing from KINGSTON ROAD on to the part of WILLOW AVENUE from the ORCHARD to BUNNY WOOD - Range 1500x - 2000x. Capt. F. Marshall was buried in the English Cemetery, MEAULTE.
Work :-
Officers' latrines improved and dugout strengthened on Right Half Sector. Work continued on 82a. Dug outs 3 & 4 in KINGSTON ROAD strengthened. Work on RAILWAY AVENUE (floor boards etc. continued). 86a being opened up (enemy now sniping the bottom of this trench.


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TRENCHES C2, Mar. 20th to 21st, 6pm to 6pm
Weather - Wind S.S.E. Light breeze. Cold and dull.
Operations - R.E. tested F9.3 for suspected mining but discovered nothing.
Intelligence - Enemy trench mortars active from 6:30 - 8:30pm on the 20th and from 3:45 to 4pm 21st. Six H.E. shells were dropped on REDOUBT A in the support line at 1:40pm 21st, the enemy were also active during the night of the 20th. Enemy machine guns quiet.
Rifle grenades were sent over on F91; hostile working party was dispersed by our M.G. fire at 1:5am. A dozen men were seen working on the trench which cuts the FRICOURT - CORITALMAISON RD.
Aerial torpedoes were observed to come from a point F3d 03.17.
Trench mortars appeared to fire from F9d 69.79
Work :-
Left Half Sector :- F9 3 repaired where damaged by shells. Parados revetted. 85 street deepened. 86a and RAILWAY AVENUE cleared. 40 yds. wire erected opposite F93.
Right Half Sector :- RUE ALBERT cleared. Latrines improved. BURLINGTON ARCADE partly cleared of debris. Five bays revetted in F.9.1.
Support line :- RAILWAY AVENUE cleared. 30 trench boards laid. 100x fire trench deepened. 700 sandbags filled for revetting
RAILWAY AVENUE. CANTERBURY AVENUE cleared as far as SEEGAR CUT. Lewis Gun emplacements completed in the front line, and another in front of CEMETERY STREET.


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C2 SECTOR, Mar. 21st to 22nd, 6pm to 6pm
Weather - Wind N.N.E. rather cold but fine.
Intelligence - Enemy artillery sent 4 or 5 shells onto 71N at 9:30am and again at 2pm. Shells were also dropped behind the CITADEL at about 2pm. Trench mortars and rifle grenades were active against the right C2 from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. Enemy traversed our front line with machine gun fire.
New enemy wire reported opposite FB 9.2 where there is a suspected emplacement. Square loophole in enemy trench at F9d 87.93. Sandbags newly erected at F9 65.43.
Work :-
Left Half Sector - Parados revetted and sumpholes drained at F9.3
Dugout under construction at F 9.4. 85 street deepened. 86 street cleared. 100 yards of wire erected at the junction F9.3 and F9.4.
R.Half Sector - BURLINGTON ARCADE deepened and cleared of debris. HQ dugout improved. Front line cleared and revetted.
RUE ALBERT cleaned and deepened. Work has been hindered by trench mortar fire.
Support Line - RAILWAY ROAD cleaned, revetting done, trench boards placed. Two fire bays completed in KINGSTON RD.


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C2 SECTOR Mar. 22nd to 23rd, 6pm to 6pm
Weather - Cold - snow and hail. Wind N.N.E.
Intelligence - Enemy artillery was active about midnight 22nd/23rd, Whizz-bangs were sent over on our right company and on the CEMETERY.
Canisters were dropped around the STATION and the shells on RUNDLE AVENUE. Enemy machine guns quiet.
Work -
Left Half Sector - F 9.3 dugout deepened, parados revetted and also in F9.4.
85 and 86 streets deepened. Work on RAILWAY RD. continued. 30 yds wire put up opposite F 9.4
Right Half Sector - Connection being made between forward posts of R.H. Sector. Traverses under construction in front line & RUE ALBERT.
Support Line - Work on RAILWAY RD. continued. Trench boards laid. NEW CUT and QUARRY TRENCH cleared. Fire bays revetted in KINGSTON RD. Traverses constructed in RUE ALBERT. Dug outs strengthened in 71 SOUTH.

The battalion was relieved by the 20th Bn. M/c Regiment in C2 on the 23rd.


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MORLANCOURT Mar. 24th, 10pm
Weather - Fine but dull. Wind N.
Work - Work was begun improving the sanitary system of the new billets taken over.
Baths - The battalion proceeded to baths at the MILLE VILLE

MORLANCOURT Mar. 25th, 10pm
Weather - Wind N.N.W. Slight rain.
Work - Working parties (150 total) were provided for work in the support line of C2.

MORLANCOURT Mar. 26th, 10pm
Weather - Wind N.N.W. Heavy rain in the morning. Bright in the afternoon.
Work - Working parties (230 in total) were provided for work in the support line of C2.

MORLANCOURT Mar. 27th, 10pm
Weather - Wind N.N.W. Fresh. Rain at intervals during the day.
Work - Working parties (150 total) were provided for work in the support line at C2.

MORLANCOURT Mar. 28th, 10pm
Weather - Brighter. Wind N.N.W. strong.
Baths - The baths at VILLE were allotted to the battalion this day.


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C2 SECTOR Mar. 29th, 10pm
Weather - Fine during greater part of day. Some sleet in the morning.
Relief - The battalion relieved the 20th Manchester Regt. in C2 Sector being distributed as follows:-
C Coy. Left Half Sector; D Coy. Right Half Sector; A Coy. KINGSTON RD.; B Coy. 71 NORTH.
Situation - Quiet during relief.

6pm 29th to 6pm 30th - Hostile artillery active on F9.4 and REDOUBT A during the morning of the 30th. Enemy trench mortars very active on the right of C2 from 3 to 5 pm on the 29th. BURLINGTON ARCADE and RUE ALBERT damaged. One killed.
Again at 11am on the 30th trench mortars active on the same place. One NCO and four men killed; 3 men wounded in B Coy.
Sniping and machine gun fire throughout the night.
Two machine gun emplacements appear to have been made at FB 37.56. Then seen placing sandbags in trench F3a 84.62.
Unusual aeroplane activity. Enemy aeroplane flying low circled over C2 Sector about 9am. Three Taubes passed over our lines between 9:30am & 10:30am. driven off by anti aircraft guns. Two patrols were sent by us on the night of the 29th, to ascertain the condition of our wire. Where necessary it was repaired and strengthened.


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C2 SECTOR Mar. 30th (continued)
Intelligence - Germans seen passing F3d 53.68 and entering trench which leads past chateau into wood. Some passing at
3:30pm on the 29th wore steel spiked helmets but no equipment.
Progress of work - Sump holes cleared in F9.3 and F9.4.
84 Street deepened. Parados revetted and dugout under construction at F9.3. BURLINGTON ARCADE and RUE ALBERT
partly cleared.
82a street deepened. Communication being made between 81a and 81b streets also 82 & 83 streets.
RAILWAY AVENUE deepened; trench boards laid. New dugout in KINGSTON RD. being made.
Firing bay in KINGSTON RD. being deepened.

C2 SECTOR Mar. 31st, 11pm
Weather - Wind S.S.W. much warmer. Bright sunshine.
Intelligence - Enemy artillery have been active throughout the day also trench mortars, and machine guns during the night 30/31st.
Enemy exploded 3 mines. The first at 4:30 pm to our right and the other two at 5pm near the FORT C1 Sector. No damage was done
to our trenches. The enemy trench mortars have got [continued on next page]


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C2 SUB SECTOR, Mar. 31st, 11pm
Intelligence [continued from last page] - the range of BURLINGTON ARCADE and have seriously damaged it.
Progress of work -
L. Half Sector - Trenches deepened and revetted. One dugout completed and one continued. Damage repaired at F9.3. 84 street cleared. 100 yds new wire put up at F9.4.
R. Half Sector - BURLINGTON ARCADE cleaned and deepened. Work continued on 82a & 83. Work continued on fire bays in RUE ALBERT.
Support Line - Trench mats laid in RAILWAY AVENUE.
Junction of RAILWAY AVENUE and KINGSTON RD. sandbagged.
CHATHAM COT and NEW CUT deepened.

J.B. Batten, Lieut. Colonel. Commandg. 24th Manchester Rgt.


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WO 95_1663_2-74


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