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Sidney Walter Antwis Great War Diary 1914-1917

 

Sidney Walter Antwis kept this diary from when he enlisted in the Welsh Regiment, 9th Battalion in 1914 until October 1917. He survived the Great War, was Commissioned and awarded the Military Medal.

He married Winifred May Harse.

The diary was donated to Cardiff Museum by Sidney Walter's daughter, Madge.

The Diary is a 1913 Canadian diary. [Sidney was on a visit to his home town when war broke out, having been in Canada since being transported there with his younger brother Robert by Dr Barnardo's at age 11.]

Some words and phrases are indecipherable.

 

******************

1914

2nd Battalion

Monday December 14th. Arrived at Havre

Wed 3rd December. Arrived Bailleul left Thurs 4th

Sun 20th. Arrived Festubert where after 21st, making an attack in the swamps of Flanders and holding position we took, we spent a considerable period there and journeyed to Bethune and from there to Givenchy where on 25th January we held a very lively field day with the 56th. From whence a short time afterwards we travelled La Bouvriere. From there by various very long roads to Essars where we arrived 25th Feb. Then to Festuber.

March 15th. To trenches Neuve Chapelle, went back to Les Facons near Locon for a short rest where we are at present enjoying ourselves trying to dodge the shells and bullets of which they seem to have a good supply.

Came back to Hinges and from there to Rue De Bois. Returned to........from there to big attack at (Richel....).

May 9th....(Rue d'Epinette) owing to us being severely cut up but returned....day to Guinchy trenches and from there to (Con) where we 17th May took over some trenches from the French.

 

1915.

Extract from Welsh Regiment Official War Diary-

14th March 1915. Festubert area. Quiet all day. The following did good work on March 12/13. L/C Davies and Pte Dudley who went out and reported mining of the roads by the Germans. Lieut. Wells. L/C Antwis 804 Pte Davies, Pte Alldridge and Sergeant Smedley reported mining and also the width of the barbed wire. Late L/C Antwis 804 Pte Davies and 7742 Pte Alldridge went out a second time in front of D Company and reported of condition of ground and barbed wire.

 

May 20th 1915. Returned to Labourse and from there to Guinchy on the 25th where they have given up using bullets because they can do more damage with grenades....And from there by way of Beuvre, Bethune and Auchel to Vermelles where they tried very hard to spoil what couldn't be spoiled on 28th June and from there to Verquin, thence again to Vermelles. 12 days- 8 days on, 4 days out. (Tomber de Arris) and then to Bomb Alley right flank and Sailly La Bourse to Annezin sports field and then back to Noyelles on Sept 2nd. On the attack at Vermelles on the...of Haines and the village of Hulluch where I was wounded.

 

1916

 

Tues Feb 22nd left Cardiff 10.40

Weds Feb 23. Folkestone rest camp then went aboard HMS Victoria but disembarked again and returned to rest camp to remain there for the night owing to severe weather.

Thurs Feb 24th.Weather fine again. Went aboard 10.30 and left Folkestone on Princess Victoria. Arrived Boulogne 3pm. Went into tents for the night. Everything froze up and covered with snow. 9.30 entrained and left Boulogne. 11.30 arrived at base camp Etaples.Under canvas again and everything snowed up.

Sat Feb 26. Still at base camp and snowing Still at base Etaples on training ground.

Monday Feb 28th. Still at base. Went on route march. Rained all afternoon.

Tues 29th February. Still at base. Went on rifle range.

Wed March 1st. St David's day. Still at base. Wore leeks in hat.

Saturday March 4th. Still at base. Had kit and medical inspection.

Sunday March 5th. Still at base. Had necessaries and ammunition issued.

Mon March 6. Left camp 5am. Left Etaples about 6am. Arrived Estaires 4.15. Marched to billets.

Wed March 8th. CO's inspection and told off to platoons

Saturday 11 March. On guard at (Zoolog) near La Couture

Sunday 12 March. (Brode Abbaye). left Lacoutre and went into reserve at Laventie

Monday 134 March. Went into post at Neuve Chapelle.

Tues 14. Went back into reserve at Hills Keep and in charge of guard both days.

Friday 17. St Patricks Day. Stayed in Hills Keep until 8pm and was relieved by the Wilts and went back to relieve billets at Brode Abbey.

Monday 22 March. With working party at St Vaast post 8 am to 12.

Tuesday 21st. Went into trenches at Neuve Chapel.

Thurs 23 Left trenches about 8.30pm and marched to La Gorgue arriving about midnight.

Sat 25. Had 2 hours pokey drill NCO;s drafts and left billets 4pm and marched up to Cadbury Post at Rue de Bois.

Sunday March 26. Raining and miserable and breakfasted on bacon, bread and tea.

Monday 27. Relieved by 6th Wilts then went back to King's Road reserve.

Weds 29th. Paid out NCO's parade and working party.

Thursday 30th. Working Party at night.

Sat April 1st. Had parcel....Aberdare

Tues 4th. Went out of trenches and took over Mespaux Post near Latourne

Sat 8th April. Was relieved about 9pm by Wilts and joined company in reserve-part of the company in Teetotallers Corner.

Weds 12th. Back to Kings Road.

Sat 15th April. Relieved Wilts in Farm Corner.

16th April. Trenches

Wed 18th April. Relieved by Notts and Derby and marched back to billets for the night.

Thur 19th Continued marching to Robecq.

Sat 21st. Marched to Erny St Julien.

Mon 23rd April. Trenching.

7th May. Left 5pm. Marched to Berquette entrained about 8pm and arrive Amiens.

Mon 8th May. Had ride in a lorry to La Flesselles  From there on 29th to Gorenflos.

30th May. Neuilly L'Hopital. Training daily.

10th June. Left Neuilly L'Hopital.

12th June. On to Frechencourt.

June 13th. On to Albert Camp. Stayed there in bivouacs and worked on the entrenchments until the advance was to have started on 29th June, but owing to so much weather it was postponed for 48 hours.

June 30th. Went into assembly trenches.

 

14 - 30th June. Extract from Official War Diary of 9th Welsh.

Albert Camp. During this period the Battalion was chiefly employed in supplying working parties by night and day under supervision of 84th & 91 Co. RE

Work consisted chiefly in the preparation of

A. New assembly trenches on Tara-Usna line E of Albert

B. New preliminary trenches SW of Albert run for a distance of 850 yards each side of railway.

C. Digging and covering trenches to hold cable and telephone wires in and around Albert.

 

1st July 1916.  Battle Of The Somme.

The attack started and went well but making the mistake of being too eager was the cause of having to....some distance and then it was continual advancing and retiring every day with very little ground gained.

7th July. We made an early start and got well away but owing to the inability of reinforcements coming we had to retire from the village of Contalmaison which we had to take under heavy machine gun and shell fire. Made Paid Lance-Sergeant from 7th July 1916.

8th. Came out of trenches just out of midnight, stopped evening 9th and then started back to Bazieux.

20th July. Left Bazieux 2pm

21st July. Left Becourt Wood and went to Mametz Wood.

22nd. Moved further into wood . Got just about dug in and had to ...again further up in the woods.

Sunday 23rd. Evening moved up to ....front Bazentin-le-Petit. Stayed there.

28th/29th. Trenches relieved and came out to Bethencourt Wood.

August 1,2,3. By train to Longpre and 5 miles to Pont-Remy

4th/5th. Promoted to full sergeant.. Left there by train, arrived Bailleul 6th August.

7th August. Went up to Kemmel six days reserve (RC Farm). Went into trenches 13th. Came out 19th. In reserve in tents 20-24th.

 

Extract from Official War Diary 9th Welsh Regiment July 2nd 1916      

La Boiselle. 6pm C Company was detailed to carry ammunition chiefly to Stokes Mortars fron Tara-Usna Line to vicinity of village.

6th Tara-Usna Line

7th Heligoland. At 7.30 B/HQ was moved into the front line at same time A & C Company moved in front line. At 8.15 leading platoons of each Coy. crept over the parapet and were followed by the remaining platoons in successsion. The 2 Battalions captured the German line. An urgent message sent to OC 9th RFW asking him to bring his Battn to the front line to fill the gap. He replied that all his battalion engaged in carrying bombs.

22nd. The battalion stood fast in Mametz Wood. Officers proceeded to Eastern edge to reconnoitre ground in front. About 3.30 Southern edge of wood was subjected to a most intense bombardment shrapnel and HE probably from 5.9 Howitzers...

In consequence the battalion moved to a position near centre of road.

 

 

1917

Jan 11. After 4 days went to Beauval then by motors to Rossignol Farm at Cognieux

14-20th At Rossignol then 2 nights front line at Hebuterne.

24-28th. Sailly into reserve. Went up 25th to front line. Platoon stayed working party in Sailly - went to Coucelles

28th had a strafe but no good.

1st March. Another strafe. Did extra well. Took more ground than was supposed and named trench 'St David's Trench'

24th March. 1 week railway work. Left 31st. Went to La Clytte between Locre and Wickiebush.

April 1st. Went into line.

April 4th. C and W in front line just to left of Kemmel.

Sunday 8th. To dugouts in Ridge Wood by Gordon Farm. Working every night - went into new reserve line.

 

Battle Of Messines

June6/7. Barrage was grand. Advanced without any opposition. Went beyond our objective to Mauve Line. Dug in, then was relieved and went to Blue Line.

2 days in reserve. Relieved Royal Fusiliers in front line.

Odyssey Trench 2 days then making new line at nights.

 

Extract from Welsh Regiment Official War Diary  7 June 1917

The Battalion left the assembly trenches at 3.30. The enemy's barrage was not heavy and there were gaps in it which enabled Companies to get through....our barrage was shooting short on the right during the advance and caused several casualties. All objectives reached at times laid down.

Losses for IX corps 5,263.

 

June 13/14th. Moved to old trench, then 2 nights across Road to Old Farm.

16th. Back in reserve. Stayed there till night and marched back to huts in Locre.

19th. Marched to camp in Bailleul. There until 30th training.

2nd July to old support trenches at Kemmel.

9th. Moved up to support 57th in trenches near Estaminet Corner and then on 10th Battalion took over line ABC f/line. D Company in reserve.

14th. Relieved by Cheshires and went to support Odonto Trench.

18th. Cheshires captured another strongpoint in the morning and are back the same night and then we went up and relieved 1 Company morning.

19th. At 3.30 recaptured strongpoint. Again driven back by the Germans about 1 hour after losing the greater part of our men and two officers, Mr V.Roberts and Mr Salmon. We were to have been relieved by E.Lancs but owing to severe shelling could not relieve until morning of 20th when we went back to Birr Barracks, Locre where Fritz's planes dropped bombs on the camp.

 

Battle Of Pilkem Ridge

Wef 1st August. relieved Cheshire's old front line just behind Junction Buildings after making two journeys to C Co. with wire. ABC in front line.

2nd August. Same place, carrying party at night after making one journey to Preston Dump in the afternoon.

Fri 3rd August. Relieved at night by RWF - went back to Albert dugouts, Irish Farm.

Sunday 4th. A C. Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Tiny Farm. A & B Co. on left, C in Spider farm on our right front. A hot shop all the time we were in. I lost my old pal Dick through the carelessness of the guide, who led them astray. They buried poor old Dick just behind Tiny Farm.

 

Sat 11th August. I went on leave....arrived Folkestone 11.30. Arrived Victoria 4.10 taxied to Paddington. Bad Lunch. Arrived Cardiff 8.30pm. Mon 13th went to Swansea. 15th went down to Milford (Haven). 21st arrived Folkestone and went straight on board Princess Clementine.

22nd. Arrived Bandaghem 9am

23 Aug. Raining and got nearly drowned going to parade ground. Promoted full sergeant.

 

Extract from 9th Battalion Welsh regiment Official War Diary

Battalion relievd 9th RFW in line in front of Oostaverne 56- but having attacked the day previous. Weather very bad, trenches waterlogged.

2nd August. Rained very heavily. Enemy very active with gas shells.

3rd Aug. Irish Battalion relieved by 9th Royal Welsh Fusiliers and moved to camp at Irish House.

5th  Aug. Battalion relieved 9th RWF in the line. Weather much better and drier.

7th Aug. Camp near Bailleul.

The 9th Battalion during the last 2 tours in the line had lost 3 officers killed, 2 wounded and 50 OR Casualties. The strength at this tiome was very low - all companies were composed of 2 platoons only and ration strength was about 575. J.A.Gibbs, Major.

 

Battle Of Menin Road Ridge

10 September. Moved to Bois Carr and at night 14 and 16 platoon went up to Spoil Bank.

13/14 September. Front line

15th to Rossignol Wood Camp

19th Sep. Rank substantive. Went to assembly trenches. Thu 19th. Advanced. Took objective ,Hessian Wood and was relieved early in the morning.

22nd. Came back to Rossington Wood

[Sidney Walter Antwis was awarded the Military Medal] for his conduct in this battle

 

Extract from 9th Battalion Welsh Regiment Official War Diary

On night 19/20 September, battalion moved to assembly position. A very wet night and assembly carried out with some difficulty. At 5.40 battalion attcked. Heavy machine gun fire was encountered from Hollebeke Chateau. 9th Welch held up at dugouts 06B 60.30. D Co. pushed through to final objective and established a post south of Hessian Wood.. On account of the marshy state of Hessian Wood it was decided to hold a line on the North side of Hessian. Casualties heavy mostly due to machine gun fire. OR casualties 35 killed, 204 wounded, 40 missing.

20th Battalion Awarded following decorations for gallantry in attack in Hessian Wood-

Lieut Cat D K Bourne, 2nd Lieut. R.J.Williams, Capt I T Evans - DSO

Capt A W Young, RAMC and 2nd Lt H T Horsfall - MC

33690 CSM I D Morris, 16757 L/Cpl T G Green, 15625 Pte H Davies - DCM.

19 Military Medals also awarded to the Battalion.

 

The 19th Division in IX Corps covered the southern defensive flank of the attack front against the German 9th Reserve and 207th divisions, on a 1,600 yards (1,500 m) front from the Comines canal to Groenenburg Farm on the west slope of the Bassevillebeek valley. The six attacking battalions of the 58th Brigade on the right and the 57th Brigade on the left and their supporting battalions had a difficult approach. The 58th brigade battalions had to make their way through the obstructions of Opaque Wood and Imperfect Copse and then at midnight it began to rain until 5:00 a.m.. Zero hour was decided according to the weather and the time of 5:40 a.m. was passed forward at 1:45 a.m. so all ranks had to lie quiet in the rain for more than three hours. Around dawn a heavy mist formed and at 5:40 a.m. the barrage began. On the right the short advance to the first objective (red line) was met with opposition from dug-outs south-west of Hessian Wood, Jarrocks Farm, Pioneer House and a small wood nearby. Heavy machine-gun fire was also encountered from Hollebeke Château and the railway embankment. The right battalion reached the objective on time but the two to the left had many casualties and lost touch with their flanking units and the barrage, until the pause on the red line (first objective) allowed them to reorganise, mop-up and regain touch with units which had lost direction. The third battalion on the left was still held up by Hessian Wood so a defensive flank was formed facing north.

 

24th Mon. Up to Bois Confluent and from there on 29th up to front line, Hessian Wood

 

German attacks near the Menin Road on the 37th Division front in IX Corps and the 5th Division (X Corps) on 3 October failed.

 

Passchendaele

14th October. Platoon in posts.

15th Front line.

 

On 14 October a German attack captured a post on the IX Corps front in the 37th Division area. Next day patrols from the 9th Division (XVIII Corps) found Varlet Farm occupied. After a 48-hour bombardment, an attack at 5:25 a.m. on 20 October, by two battalions of the 18th Division reached a German headquarters west of Poelcappelle church. On 21 October, wire-cutting began on the Fifth and Second Army fronts; under cover of the bombardment, 18th Division platoons moved forward on the night of 21 October and dug shallow trenches, which saved many casualties from a German counter-bombardment, after a ruined farm behind the jumping-off places caught fire and silhouetted the troops during a gas bombardment. On 22 October, in the British 9th Division sector to the south, the XVIII Corps Cyclist Battalion conducted a feint, using dummy figures to assist an attack by the 9th Division, which captured the Brewery strong-point quickly.The attack was resumed at 7:30 a.m. through the village, taking Noble's Farm, Meunier House and then Tracas Farm, a total advance of 1,000 yards (910 m). At 5:00 p.m. a German counter-attack was stopped short of Noble's Farm with many casualties

Sidney Walter War Record Antwis WW1 IMG_0173 IMG_0174 IMG_0172

Photo taken at Military Field Hospital. 1915