Monday 26 January 2015

A lull in the Storm for Will

In my last post about Will Sidney's War it was 30 September 1917 and Will had been granted a day's sick leave as a result of straining his side.  This could be seen to have been a be a bit of a lucky injury for Will.

Whilst Will's personal diary entry for 30 September reads ...
"30 Sun - Got excuse duty for 1 day, sprained side. Rest all day. Painful."
You can read the Battalion's official war diary entry, which was actually written in the field as events were unfolding, below ...

"About 4 am very thick mist; 4.30 am intense bombardment helped on with minewerfers & smoke bombs: 5.15 am enemy discovered in large numbers advancing against our trench especially on our right: mist still very thick: enemy used bombs and flammerwerfer. Heavy fire with rifles, Lewis machine guns and bombs was opened on them & none reached our trench: S.O.S. sent up but was not seen at Batt H.Q. owing to mist: an orderly arrived with the first news at 7.20 am. About 6 am enemy again attacked but was driven off: took 2 prisoners, 1 flammenwerfer & a machine gun: 60 or 70 dead were left in front of our trenches: the attack was repulsed entirely with the fire of the infantry: the artillery did not barrage our front: a wire fence, put up during the previous night by a pioneer battn helped greatly to impede the enemy. A short barrage was put down on our lines at 10 am: the remainder of the day was normal."
The card below was found with Will's things and is to commemorate the Division's actions at The Battle of The Menin Road earlier in the month.

As you can see, Will sent the card to Ethel, though we have no way of knowing when it would have been sent.

On 1 October Will went to see the 'Doc' and was diagnosed with a compound fracture.  He was excused duties for 2 days and moved to Meteren, where he was placed in charge of the stores for 3 days.

On 3 October Will writes that the Battalion came in and had been badly cut up.  Who knows what may have happened to Will had he not suffered his injury when he did.

Following his stint in the stores Will acted as the Orderly Corporal for the Company.  He carried out this role until the 8th, when it seems he helped run a course for a group of NCOs.

On 9 October Will was back into the fray, having been dismissed after Parade, awaiting orders to go back up the line.  The Battalion went, by motor, to Ridgewood, for 1 night, before hitting the line again on the 10th.

You can read more about Will's next foray to the front line in my next post.

Monday 19 January 2015

A Week in the Life ...

Last week was a funny old week. 

Martin headed off for the first of his, every other year, week long trip to Larbert in Scotland with work, with plenty of bad weather, including heavy snow, forecast. I waved him off on Sunday lunchtime in a big white van full of bits of rail and plenty of warm clothing. 

I had a bit of a surprise planned whilst he was away and, within 20 minutes of him heading off, I had made a start on a bit more decorating in the guest bedroom. This is a project that has been ongoing now for nearly a year. We are beginning to wonder if it will ever be finished. 

Whilst he was away I was hoping to get all of the airing cupboard woodwork and doors prepped, painted and re-hung. A small goal, I know, but progress all the same. 

He phoned at 5pm to say there was a problem with the van and he was at Southway services on the M6 waiting for an engineer. Happy days!! He finally arrived at 8pm, having left home at 12.00. He was not the happiest of bunnies. 

He had plenty of snow whilst he was away and we had just a little bit overnight here. 

I also had a few craft projects in mind for having a go at whilst he was away, including a few more bracelets and a start on my decoupage. That coupled with trips to the dentist and the doctor and a school governors meeting made for a pretty busy week. At least I wouldn't have chance to miss him too much. 

The bracelet making went well with no problems and you can see how I got on here. 

The decoupage experience was a bit mixed. I am trying to 'up cycle' some old table mats and coasters I have. When they are done I will do a post giving more detail of how I did it but for now here is a before and after of the first coaster that I've done. I'm quite pleased with it. 

The table mat didn't go so well and ended up covered in bubbles and creases so I pretty much had to pull it apart and will have to start again. I'll keep you posted with how I get on. 

Martin was due back on Friday and we were due to go and see our almost sister-in-law, Alison, in her 'Am Dram' performance of the Copacabana at The Brewhouse Theatre in Burton-on-Trent.

Luckily Martin managed to get away from Larbert early, avoid the snow and any bad traffic and made it back just in time for what was a very colourful and flamboyant show to start off the weekend.

Alison played Conchita Alvarez and looked just amazing as you can see for yourself!

Sunday 11 January 2015

A Crafty Hand-made Christmas

I have been wanting to write this blog for ages but have had to restrain myself as it would have
spoiled my home made Christmas present surprise. 

A few months ago a friend of mine showed me some jewellery she had made. She was thinking of a possible career change and was considering starting up a jewellery making business and had been having a bit of a play to see how it went. 

I had thought that I might buy some bits and pieces from her to give to friends and family as Christmas presents, to help get her started off. 

When she showed me what she had made so far, I was really impressed but, I have to confess, I thought ... Hey, I fancy having a go at that myself, not to the same extent, just as gifts for friends and family ... I know my limits!

So I got on the web, found some really pretty beads and other bits and pieces, watched lots of YouTube tutorials and decided to give it a go. 

I must let you know that I did speak to my friend about it before going ahead, after all, it wasn't worth falling out about and I didn't want her to think I had pinched her idea, even though I kind of had really.

I decided that I'd stick with stretchy beaded bracelets and have to say I've surprised myself at how well they have come out. I have even made a few to order which I've sold for £5 each.

Here are some of what I've made so far. The options for variation are endless with loads of different coloured glass beads, spacers and charms available. 
So everyone has now had a bracelet for Christmas. I've made sure I've made a list of who's had what, so I can make sure I do a completely different one for birthdays. 

I've also had a go at making some wooden ones, I won't tell you where I got the beads from but, let's just say, they haven't cost me much at all and, in my opinion, they look just as good as any you will see in the surfer shops in Cornwall. 

If you're interested in having a hand crafted stretchy bracelet, either for yourself or as a gift, just get in touch. I can make to pretty much any individual requirements. The glass beaded ones cost £5 each and the wooden are just £1.50. 

You can either contact me by leaving a comment on the blog post or by direct mailing me on Twitter @CarolDunhill

My friend's jewelry business is now pretty much up and running and gearing up for Valentine's Day. It's called 'Totallylovejewellery' and can be found on Twitter @tljdesigns. Go on over and have a look, I know she'd love to see you.

Wednesday 7 January 2015

The Front Line - The Menin Road - September 1917

This is quite a long post, but Will's diary entries for September are a real first-hand account of life on the front line and I didn't want to leave anything out.

In early September 2017 the Battalion was on the move again.  They left at 8.00am on 3 September, by route march, through Steenvorde, Oxelere, Bayinchove, arriving in billets at Oosthoek at 6.00pm. They'd marched all day.

From 4-11 September, whilst at Oosthoek training was carried out, which included: bombing, musketry, bayonet fighting, practice formations for the attack, flag courses and company drills.

On 12 September the Battalion was then on the move again, this time they were heading for the front line and the trenches.

"12 Wed - Rev 6.  Came off guard @ 10.30.  Parade 11.  Inspection for moving off, Moved off @ 2.30.  Landed @ Zuytpeene @ 6o'c.  Letter from Jim & Sarah.  No time to write, being on the move tomorrow."
"13 Th - Rev 6.  B 7.  Moved from Zuytpeene to Steenvorde.  13 kilos.  Pretty tired when landed.  No letters from anybody.  Heavy going.  Getting ready for moving the following day."
"14 Fri - Rev 4.30.  B 5.  Moved from Steenvorde to Dickebusch (20kilos).  Very tired, no wash or shave.  No letters from anybody.  No time to write anythink."
"15 Sat - Left Dickebusch for line @ 12o'c.  Landed in the trenches @ 6o'c.  Very hot. Went to fetch rations for HQ.  No letters from anybody.  Not time to write to anybody. Went to front line in charge of 3 men & sandbags." 
Things continued to get more intense for the Battalion and for Will in the following week. 
 "16 Sun - Helping RE under heavy fire.  Working & rations all day up to front line in charge of 13 men."
"17 Mon - Helping REs till dinnertime under heavy shell fire. Went out @ night on rations.  Fritz shelled us all the way up & back again.  No letters from anybody."
"18 Tues - Up all night & being shelled pretty often.  Went to bed @ Rail Dug O.  Up again @ 4 carrying water to the front line.  Got back @ dinner time.  Had to move back a bit.  Move to a camp for a short rest.  Letters from Ethel.  Dog tired & thinking of Ethel all time."
"19 Wed - Rev 5.30.  Parade for a bath @ 6.  Good bath.  Writ to Ethel. Rest until 9o'c night then moved up to the line for a big push.  Stayed @ Bedford House. Slept outside. Wet & cold.  Up @ 4o'c.  Moved up line.  Few casualties.
"20 Th - Spent a night on front line.  Got shelled very heavy.  Working party lost a chum, young Jones (Welsh man).  Stop in trenches all day.  Got shelled all day & night.  Still in trenches."
"21 Fri - Went on a ration party.  Lost LCpl Jewitt.  Died of wounds.  Decent chap. And also LCpl ???  Went out wiring @ night.  Rotten & cold work.  My hands all cut to pieces.  No letters from anybody.  Thinking of my own dearest wondering how she is."
"22 Sat - Got shelled pretty heavy.  Still in trenches.  No wash or shave for 3 days. Very dirty.  Got shelled very heavy during night."
The last week in September saw a small amount of respite for the Battalion whist preparing to go back into the field at the Menin Road ...
 "23 Sun - Fritz made a counter attack & gave us hell for about 1 1/2 hours.  Cold night."
"24 Mon - Gave us a barrage early morning again @ 9o'c & dinner time.  Got gassed & got relieved under a heavy bombardment 9o'c.  Went to Cafe Belle and then to Chippawa Camp.  Landed @ 2o'c next morning."
"25 Tues - Rev anytime.  B 8.  Cleaning up.  D 2o'c.  Still cleaning & no time for writing.  Inspection of rifles.  Tea 4.30.  Pay 5.  Parade for baths 6.30.  Letter from home.  None from Ethel."
"26 Wed - Rev 7.  B 8.  Parade for GOC inspection 11.30.  Recomended for the good work we did.  Papers from Ethel.  Went out with C Blake @ night."
"27 Th - Rev 7.  B 8.  P 9.  Drill order cancelled.  Get packed up for moving off. Moved to Ridge Wood for 1 night, full pack.  Very tired.  Told off with 2 men to get prepared for an advance party.  No letters."
"28 Fri - Rev 3.30.  B 4.  Parade 4.30.  Moved to Bedford House.  Arrived there @ 7o'c.  Got billets for the Coy.  Coy arrived @ 12o'c.  Slept in open, went up to the front line on a working party.  1 letter from Ethel."
"29 Sat - Rev 7.  B 8.  P 9.  Inspection rifles & gas bags.  Getting prepared for up the line.  Bomb 100 rounds, 2 sandbags.  Ready for moving off @ any minute.  Sent FP to & ...  Strained my side.  Went to see Colonel, sent to transport." 
This may have been a really lucky injury for Will.  His own diary entry for 30 September reads ...
"30 Sun - Got excuse duty for 1 day, sprained side.  Rest all day.  Painful."
You will be able to read the official Battalion war diary entry for 30 September in my next post.

Monday 5 January 2015

Well ...... that was 2014!

Time to say good bye to December and hello to January ... I think you are gonna be cold. 

Time to say good bye to 2014 and hello to 2015 ... I hope you will be awesome. 

And it's also time to say a sad farewell to Christmas! I will miss you, though there is loads more space in the lounge and everywhere feels lots tidier. 

We waved good bye to 2014 with our very good friends, Jackie and Phil. We wandered round to theirs for a fabulous New Years Eve feast which we didn't finish eating until about 11.45pm, perfect timing. 

We feasted on crispy duck with stir fried veggies, followed by home-made Coquilles St Jacques and on to Beef Wellington with Dauphinoise potatoes and veg for the main event. 

We broke for a couple of games of Monopoly Deal, a new card game which I think we will be looking out for ourselves, before finishing our feast with chocolate roulade or walnut parfait, or both in some cases! 

We caught the end of the Queen concert which was amazing, before watching the London fireworks which never disappoint. 

We'd had a lovely relaxing evening with good friends, very good food and even some good wine, home made by Martin. It was just before 2.00am before we made for the short walk home, not bad for a gang of over 50s. 

New Years Day we didn't surface till gone midday. I have to say it wasn't the drinking that did us in, we just can't cope with late nights anymore. 

We've spent the rest of the week and weekend just pottering about, getting straight, visiting family and friends and buying lots of craft stuff. 

2015 is looking like it will be a busy one with lots of projects already in my mind and wanting to make a start on the 50 things I want to do before I'm 60. It could also be Martin's last year before he retires so in 2016, if things go to plan, we may be Pottering a Deux!! 

Bring it on ...... I'm ready!!