Wednesday, 16 April 2014


December 1914, in the trenches, France

It was Christmas and we were shouting across to the Germans, no firing that day. We were given whale oil to rub our feet to stop frost bite, then we got a week's rest as a battle was in the offing. We were not allowed to smoke or to make any noise, and lived on biscuit and bully beef, nobody was to know we were there. When we left there, we were put onto some big buses to go a long way. They were old buses open at the top and we expected them to turn over any minute, they came from London.

The next trenches were a lot better built and very close to the Germans – we could hear them talking. It was very safe as both sides were afraid of hitting their own soldiers. Up there were some locks and a river … the boys went bathing, it was ten feet deep. I could not swim and they threw me in, I never went near it again. There was nowhere to sleep and we made holes inside the trench bottom. After digging for two hours we made room for three to sleep in. Up came a boy and he jumped in, saying 'this is my place'. All the other lads jumped on top of him and it fell in. We were half an hour getting him out, he was almost gone.

             The Sherwood Forresters Military Band in Ashbourne, Derbyshire

Thomas Beswick was born in Flagg, Derbyshire in 1894.
This diary extract is reproduced courtesy of the Beswick family.

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Thursday, 10 April 2014