The war diary of Captain Noel Spicer Simpson (cont.) 1881 – 1915


Noel was posted to the 48th Heavy Battery and arrived in France on 17th August 1914. Here are some extracts from his diary:
“Rained torrents on arrival in France, everyone soaked.”

“August 26th fought” A wagon was shelled, destroying all Noel’s personal possessions! August 28th. “Trekking all night, no sleep. Left exhausted horse. Gunner run over by gun. Bathed in the river Oise.”

Sept 8th. “Slept at farm, 200 Germans had slept there the previous night.

Saw many of our wounded. Germans fighting rear guard action, heavy fighting right and left. Bought two chickens, bread, jam and candles in Nanteuil and eggs and milk in Montmilon.”
“One gunner drunk. Shrapnel bursts over the hill.”
Sept 10th. “Took nose bag and water sheet from horse killed by shrapnel. Entered cottage at Grand Rozair – took a bath in a bucket.”

Sept 12th. “Bivouacked in an open field, wind and rain very strong. Mishap in night when adjacent hayrick collapsed. The Major had to be dug out, under six feet of hay! Everything soaked.”

Sept 13th. “German heavy battery opens fire with high explosives. Big shells (crumps) falling near. Several nasty sights, men and horses lying mangled in the road.”

Sept 14th. “Ammunition wagon hit and all the cartridges flared up, wounded and killed some men. Brought back Thompson, Gub’s servant, a nice lad, terribly injured and burnt. He died in a short time. Shells dropping continuously all around. Took off spurs because we were pricking each other when ducking.”

Sept 15th. “Went to see the Major to arrange a trench for the burial of the dead. Villagers dug a trench by the churchyard. Some women villagers present at the service, who laid flowers on the grave. A simple and touching ceremony.”

Sept 25th. “Monsieur Conseil killed a pig and served us an excellent dinner.”

Sept 27th. ” Inspected caves for men to live in.”

Sept 30th. “A tragic incident today. The Swedish Minister came up in a motor car to visit and bring gifts and the car was shelled killing the chauffeur.”

Oct 1st. “After lunch I was left in command when Sir Douglas Haig (commanding the First Army) came up with his staff. He asked a lot of questions. A very pleasant man.”

Oct 20th. “Remained in bed, fever still on me. Took 18 grams of quinine.”

Oct 22nd. “Arrived at Croix Barbee. The village is shelled to pieces.”

Nov 13th. “Felt a pain in my abdomen yesterday. Saw the doctor – he pronounced it appendix and offered to send me home at once. I refused.”

Dec 20th. “Six days leave sanctioned. Bus leaves at 4 am.”

To be continued,