Tuesday 4th May 1915

The retreat which started at 12.30 am carried out successfully. As we march down the roads, we pass parties of engineers mining, ready to blow up the road as soon as we get through. We try to carry our post bag back with us but can’t manage it, so divide up the letters to be carried by different chaps and open all the parcels, throwing away everything except what we can eat as we go along. We buried all our dead except one, but left kits lying all over the place. We march by side roads and through fields left of Ypres, across wooden bridge and so on to just the other side of Vlamertynghe where the cooks have got ready a fine hot meal of tea, rum, skilly and bread and jam. We had had no food the last day except what we found in dead men’s kits and water bottles. I ask to be put on cart for the rest of the march after breakfast, instead they send me to Field Hospital where I spend the day (leg bad). While there the barn next to ours struck by shrapnel. Taken in motor ambulances to Poperinghe which had been shelled that afternoon, and was again in the evening while we were there and the following morning. Manage to get first wash and shave for ten days.

Monday 3rd May 1915

In the same trench. Some more re-inforcements come up, in the early hours of the morning, of E. Lancs. and W. Yorks. A certain amount of shelling and sniping going on, but Germans seem to be spending their time strengthening their position. Secker and Thompson lose their nerve and are rather trying in the trench. In the evening, after burying spare rifles and ammunition, the whole line retires (only water to drink all time in trenches).

Sunday 2nd May 1915

In the same two lines of trenches. Day opens very quietly but, after breakfast the shelling is worse than it has ever been before, the parapets are absolutely smashed to pieces. Millar is hit, then Teakle killed on top of me. Oliver wounded in the arm. We leave our little bit of the trench and try, by going round the communication trench, to get better cover. Baldwin killed as we go, and Hudson wounded. Fairs, Hudson and I make our way up to the E. Yorks. Left flank. After dinner the attack commences again. The whole line on our front was shelled, then they sent over poison gas and we had to tie wet handkerchiefs over our faces, more shelling and then rifle fire. Fairs killed, all except one of the E. Yorks wiped out round me. I take a message from the E. Yorks. Colonel right down to the trenches to Major Bates at H.Q. (Right flank) and return along the back to our trench. The German attack fails, but they have advanced their position and we ‘stand to’ all night, after being re-inforced by the W. Yorks. And practically half the battalion knocked out. Get cut across the back of the neck with a piece of shrapnel.

L/Cpl Leonard Hastings Teakle 157 aged 25 Panel 52 & 54 Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
Rifleman Ernest Wilfrid Baldwin 9397 aged 32 Panel 52 & 54 Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
Rifleman Ernest W. Fairs 9551 aged 19 Panel 52 & 54 Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

Thursday 29th April 1915

In same trench. Still the same old story, shells, shells, shells (not ours). Change over into a trench that was held by E. Yorks. Where things are a little bit quieter. During the last four days should think we have had at least two hundred casualties. E. Yorks. Trench in an awful condition, no good at all. We make up the parapet in front a bit until daylight, and then have to chance our arm for the following day.