|Will Abbott’s diary a small black covered booklet details his service in 1916 and 1917:
Enlisted 30th Nov. 1915.
Gillingham (to the 3rd Battalion) 25th May 1916 - 3 months training
To France on Monday August 28 Started from Gillingham at 7p.m. Changed at Canterbury to Folkestone, started from there to Bologne, stayed one night - from there to Etaples.
Passed out at the Bull Ring on Sunday Sept 10. Monday we went to Paris Plage bathing in the sea. Paris Plage is a very nice place fine buildings. Etaples is a dirty place.
Picked for the 1st Northants on Tuesday Sept 12
Paris Plage 5 miles. Bull Ring 3 miles. Wash Out.
The Boat we sailed on was the Princess Victoria to France.
Moved from Etaples the 22nd Sept, got out at Bethune, marched to Sailly.
Labours, went in the trenches on the 23rd of Sept through Vermilles into the [Hoyenzollan Redugt] Sector.
On the 5th of Oct we were in the trenches at Hulluck where we could see the village of St. Elio in front of us, and Loos and Lens in the distance to our right.
Came out of the trenches on Oct 11, marched to Fouqureuil village the 12th Oct, first day in the Line, and first day of billies.
On Sunday Oct 15 we moved from Fouqureuil by rail, got out at a village named [left blank] past La... marched on a few kilometres, rest, marched next morning a few more and then rode in Motor buses by Amiens to some village with Albert on the night camp.
Barns at other places named
[the next page details some firing but is too blotted to read]
Primarily extracting to the first movement of the bolt when pulled back.
Extreme range of rifle fire is 2800 yds.
Firing at 100 yds
Friday 12 inch 15yds
Monday 8 inch 20 yds
On the 18 of Oct we marched to Trones Woods into the Reserve trench in the Somme.
On Oct 19 we went through Trones Wood into the Reserve trench on the Somme with Ba... Road in Front.
On Oct 22 I witnessed our Airmen fetch two German Aeroplanes down.
On Monday was the first time I saw troops go over the top, they were the East Lancaster and the first time I ever picked dead up during that week, terrible. We came out of the first line on Sat Night to the Reserve line during that night. I fell ever so many times in shell holes. I could not see so I slipt in a shell hole while moving with Mr Whiteman and another when we moved on Monday to G Camp Montauban. I was just the same falling over hundreds of times until I slept in Denvils Wood arrived in the morning we moved from G Camp same day to Sandpit Camp near Fricourt, stopped there while the next Sunday, moved to a Camp, stopped there a day or two, then they went into the trenches. I went back to our transport for they would not be bothered with me in the dark, but the next time I went in and came out in the afternoon with the Cook before dark, went in Barns at Malt on the Nov 20 moved from there by train, got in the train at Edge Hill, got out at 5 miles from Mellville, stopped there one night, moved 3½ kilometres to a village named Villiers and pleased to get away from the Somme. Nov 23 now.
I was sent on Wednesday Nov 29 to Bertangles to work for the R.E. or the Royal Flying Corps about 6 miles from Amiens
3rd Wing rejoined the Regiment on Boxing Day.
Dec 26 at Villers and moved by rail on Dec 29, got out at Edge Hill station, and being unfit for trenches were sent to Maurepas to work for R.E. Store, rejoined the Regt. on Jan 8 1917.
On Jan 9 moved to Sailly-Le-S.., on Jan 18 entrained to Airaines, marched to Saint Maulvis, stayed there till Jan 20 then I moved to Avense at a Divisional School for both Official and now I was made Storeman and Batman for Sergt. Major. We moved from there to Pont Remy on March 6, entrained March 7, got out at Bray, rejoined our Batt. at Asquta????/ Flats on March 8. I fell sick next morning, got to hospital, first at Maricourt then Bray. Stopped at Bray 2 nights, came down the Line to Rouen. One night in Hospital ... to Con Camp, stayed until April 6 from there to rest camp, entrained to Calais, got there on April 11. From Calais to Etaples on May 1. Etaples on May 2 to Peronne, stayed one night, from there to transport, stayed one night, from there to Rest on May 4 in trenches, came out on May 9, marched to Leevmont. May 11 marched to Moislins pitching tents. May 12 marched to Moislanes. From Leivamont on May 18, marched to Hudecourt for ...
On March 4 took Guslains ... Ridge
On March Fourth we went over the top and took B... Ridge which made the Germans retire off the Somme.
The 2nd Northants belonged to the 24 Brigade 8th Division, 4 Army Corp. From when I joined up to May.
On May 29 we marched from Moislains to Suzane, washed our feet in the river Somme.
May 31 marched to Shippoley, June 1 to Corbie, June 2 route march, very nice Church or Cathedral at Corbie, went in, very pretty.
June 3rd entrained at Corbie, got out at Godewalerest on June 4 marched to Metren in Belgium, now joining the 14th Army Corp on the Ypres Front.
On June 11 marched to a village about 2 kilometres from Ceastre. June 12 From there Renninghelist.
June 13 From there to Ypres where we were billeted in cellars.
June 14 in the Front Line for 24 hrs, there was a Dug Out [to] hold a Batt with beds and Electric Light and a Well at Drerpeng Water and went back to Ypres in Cavalry Barrack for one night, next night digging in the line, the next night or early morning Monday, Tuesday the 19th June in Huls a few kilometres back at Dominion Camp, while there went digging every night a cable trench to blow our mines up in the big push. Went to Esplanade Fort at Ypres on Friday to the trenches on Sunday digging a kick off trench for going over the top, in front of the front line, on Monday about six o’clock I was sent for, to report at the orderly Room at Ypres. Off I went, gave me a note to report at Winepeg Camp, got there about 10 o’clock, next day I found myself on Salvage at Division headquarters.
From Ypres on Monday Aug 20, moved in motor buses to Caister, on Aug 23 returned to Batts just outside Caister, made Coy Sanitary man next day. On Aug 27 motored to Ploicstreet near H... about 2 miles off, on Aug 28 went to 24 Brigade Bombing School as Sanitary man Armentieres.
Rejoined Unit on the 13th of Nov, entrained next day to somewhere else, shifted from there to left of Ypres Monday, the 21 in Reserve 48 hrs, Wednesday 61 hrs in the Front Line, shell holes very fierce bombardment Passachdale Ridge.
Courtesy of Eric Fowell, transcribed by Kay Collins