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Henry Tabor's 1916 War Diary

January 1916



1916 Diary entry

Research & comments 2003


1 Sat

At Bertangles.  Had a half holiday, dinner, football match and concert.

Bertangles, five miles north of Amiens in Picardie , France , was the base of No 9 Squadron from 24th December 1915 to 26th March 1916 .


2 Sun

Made us pay 1 franc [9 5/8 d] each for dinner yesterday.



3 Mon




4 Tue

Went to Albert and rigged up a land station.

Terrible wreckage in Albert, notably the cathedral.

Albert is a town 17 miles NE of Amiens.

A Wireless Station, used to receive communications from aeroplanes.

Albert Basilica in 1916


5 Wed

Beardmore, Josling, Williams and Dowling went away to join battery.

Amongst the group of friends who journeyed to France with 9 Squadron:

Steve Beardmore

Edward Charles Josling 2/AM 7600, died later that year on 31st October 1916 near Carnoy. 

Probably John Lewis Williams 2/AM 8191 No 3 Squadron (awarded Military Medal same day as Henry Tabor (HTT)).

William Henry Dowling 1/AM 7745 (awarded MM on the same day as HTT).


6 Thu

Eight of us left for battery’s Airman.  Finch and myself at Martinsart, had some shells in it.  Very comfortable.

Moved to what is now known as Mesnil-Martinsart, four miles north of Albert, where he stayed until 14th February.

Refers to Tom Finch.


7 Fri


British position at the Somme


8 Sat




9 Sun




10 Mon




11 Tue


A Wireless Station at the Somme


12 Wed




13 Thu




14 Fri




15 Sat




16 Sun




17 Mon

25 machines passed over on bombing expedition.

Aeroplanes are often referred to in the diary as machines.


18 Tue




19 Wed




20 Thu




21 Fri

Received letter from Mr Osborne



22 Sat

Received parcels from Uncle Charlie and Mr Osborne. 

Went down to Pearce and Wilkins dugout, had a small banquet.

Refers to either W Pearce 2nd AM, 9 Squadron later wounded and in hospital by 18/9/1916 , or John F Pearce 2nd AM (7750) (4 before HTT) who died on 16/08/1916 .


23 Sun

Stayed in bed until 9 am .  Foggy.  Received letters from Ma, Aunt S and Harold and parcels from Ma and Aunt S.

Stayed in billet all evening.

Definition:  Billet - a place for soldiers to stay in for a short time

German offensive near Neuville-St. Vaast 20 miles north of HTT.


24 Mon

Received letter from Gertie.  Spent evening in letter writing and making a form.

Gertie Gray – Henry’s future wife (then aged 19)


25 Tue

About a dozen shells come across this morning, did no damage.  Williams came and we went down to see Pearce.

Severe fighting near Arras .


26 Wed

Nothing of interest, except a small rat hunt this evening.  Supposed to be a terrific bombardment – came to nothing however.

Letter from Gertie.

[later] On 26th enemy brought down one of our machines inside British lines.  Artillery finished it off.

Trenches tended to be hit by rodent plagues.   Rats thrived on the plentiful supply of decaying bodies. According to veteran reports, there was so much “food” available, that the rats became selective, and preferred to eat the livers, eyes, and tongues of the dead.


27 Thu

Divisional bombardment at 6 am .  Pearce and Wilkins came up and we had a card party and bust up.

Day very quiet no machines over at all.

Pay day.

A Wireless Operator at work in a dugout


28 Fri

Received letters from Gertie, Ma, Syd, Uncle Syd.  Day very quiet. 

This evening the enemy replied to our fire of yesterday without doing much damage.  Shelling continued all night.  A Battery replied with effect.

Germans take Frise ten miles to the south east of HTT and trenches near Givenchy; repulsed at Carnoy six miles south.

An artillery brigade would typically have three or four batteries (A, B, C & D).  A Field Battery generally consisted of two or three sections (although later in the war there would be four) each of two guns with their complement of ammunition wagons. A Brigade of Artillery was composed of three batteries of field artillery, each with its ammunition column.” []


29 Sat

Heavy firing this morning, no machines over.

Went down to a village with Airman & Hindrew. 

Heavy siege battery firing this evening.

German offensive at Dompierre (south of the Somme ).


30 Sun

No machines over.  Lieut Turner called.  Went round to officers’ mess this evening.

Refers to 2nd Lieutenant N Turner, 9 Squadron.

Definition:  Officers’ Messdinning area for officers


31 Mon

Artillery very active.  Enemy made a terrific bombardment between 4 and 6 pm .

No machines over.  Received 50 cigs from Mr Mack.



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Diary home © peter james tabor 2004  

This page was last updated on 23 February 2004.