Box of Shells Contained
new gun site was in the open. Our ammunition was limited and some of it was bad. I opened
one box of four 18 lb shells to find only bricks. Other boxes of American shells did not
suit our guns. We were pleased to have wagon loads of boxes with good shells. The first
one I opened had a card tied to a shell, 'If you're single, drop a line; if you're
married, never mind,' underneath a woman s name. Such things were common.
six-horse wagon team hurried to the rear a crump of shells straddled them. Animals were
killed, but three drivers and a mounted NCO were unhurt. On 26th September, 1915, we
witnessed a dreadful sight - hundreds of young infantrymen hurrying to the front line and
being decimated by enemy machine-gun fire.
men moved over Hulluich Plain in full view of the Germans. It was sickening to view. Force
marched, weary, hungry and untried under fire, these 'rookies' seemed ignorant of the
dangers facing them and they were needlessly sent to their slaughter.
guns were given enemy targets. We fired, switching from one area to another. We scored
many direct hits and silenced many guns.
Guardsmen manoeuvred forward and occupied forward shell holes to give support to Highland
soldiers. Our sister batteries, in the far side of the plain near a cemetery, used open
sights to blast Hun trenches. The tactics were bold, but short lived, for German mobile
guns moved up and pounded them, creating heavy losses.
and linesmen were taxed to keep communications open. By luck, a signaller saw the flash of
the enemy mobile guns, gave us bearings and in ten minutes of rapid gunfire, we had
silenced the tormentors.
Battle of Loos was a tragedy. Losses on both sides reached many thousands dead and many
more wounded. We had a rough time during this long battle, our guns playing a big part.
prisoners trooped past our guns. One remarked, on seeing a pile of shell cases, 'You have
done well. Are you the 24th Division?' His English was perfect. He asked again, but no one
spoke, then, 'Your silence tells me you are the 24th Division.
a lull in the battle we were relieved by another battery. Rain was falling incessantly and
we lived in a sea of mud which drowned many wounded infantrymen before they could be
reached in 'No man's land'.
were tired, lousy, hungry and footsore. We reached a place six miles in the rear. First,
horses were groomed, watered and fed, then we were seen to. A rum ration was handed out. I
never touched the stuff, even when an officer demanded I take rum, I refused. I was
reported to the Captain who demanded, 'Why do you refuse a lawful command, Caseby?'
I said, 'I promised my parents I would not drink. I hate all kinds of drink. I'm sorry,
Captain complimented me. As I walked away I heard him say to the officer, 'I admire the
day, while we were on parade in pouring rain, I was one of three gunners called from the
rank. We could not think what we had done wrong. My name was called first, '70412, Caseby
A., gunner. You are promoted Bombardier.' I was the youngest with a 'Tape', also an extra
9d per day. When called out, I expected to be court martialled or drafted to front line
trench mortars, but promotion it was indeed - a great surprise. Next day when my name
appeared on the order board, I reported to the Quartermaster (stores), for my chevrons.
Not only did I receive them but he called the tailor to sew them on. I was delighted and
my promotion was popular. I was friendly with everyone in the battery, for I wrote letters
for many who could not write and they knew I would not expect anyone to do something I
could not do myself - with the exception of drinking rum!
come through a bloody battle, the weather was filthy, but we were not discouraged. We
mourned the loss of friends, other recruits filled the blanks in our ranks. Orders came
after three days to move. Loos was left behind, we were on the long trail to Ypres. This
was to be the role of the 24th Division, where a mammoth attack was planned. We were
fortunate to have fine leaders, men tried and proved in war.