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Henry Tabor's 1916 War Diary

 May 1916



1916 Diary entry

Research & comments 2003


1 Mon

Came out to 9th Siege again tres bon.

Siege Battery 8” Howitzers 1916


2 Tue

Luggie strafing this battery by aero observation - some excitement.

Letter from Fred Jones.  Letter from Ma.



3 Wed

Nothing much doing.



4 Thu

Letters from Gertie and Lily. 

Terrific bombardment of this valley, fairly put the wind up me, one fell within 50 yards of me, went down like a pancake, all tres bon though.  Both aerials blown down hole all smashed about.



5 Fri

Busy day plenty of machines about.  Some job to repair the aerials.  My word, some duds.

Definition:  dud - (2) An incapable person; no good


6 Sat

Day quite, should have been a shoot, weather unfavourable.

Luggie strafing a little this evening.



7 Sun

Letters from Dad, Nellie and Gertie.  Dull day nothing doing.



8 Mon

Letter from Gertie.  Nothing doing again.



9 Tue

Parcel and letter from Ma.  Enjoyed a fine walk through Vaux Wood this morning with Charlie Woods.  Nothing doing.

Vaux Wood is 1m east of Suzanne on River Somme.


10 Wed

Fair kind of day, quite decent this afternoon.

Few machines about.  Organised strafe this morning, some noise.



11 Thu

Fair day, bit doing.  Should have been aeroplane shoot 6 am today, came over, but too cloudy.

Germans take British trenches north-east of Vermelles (La Bassee), 40 miles north of HTT.



12 Fri

Letter from Gertie.  Fair day, much warmer.



13 Sat

Terrific bombardment at 1:15 am weeping gas in big quantities, 60 pounders replied with effect.  Hear that Luggie made an advance but was repulsed.

Big things are brewing.

60 pounders – heavy artillery guns:

·   built by the Elswick Ordnance Company;

·   twelve horses were needed to move it;

·   5 inches (12.7 cms) calibre;

·   weighed four tons (4,470 kg);

·   range of 11,611 meters and fired a 60 pound shell.


14 Sun

Nothing doing again too dull. Books, parcel and letter from Ma.



15 Mon

Same as yesterday.

Letters from Gertie and Lily.



16 Tue

Not a bad day.



17 Wed

Parcel and letter from home.  Grand day, up at 5 am.

Germans capture British mine crater on Vimy Ridge, 25 miles north of HTT.


18 Thu

Aeroplane shoot this evening.  Glorious day.

There is a reference to this shoot in the 9th Siege Battery’s War Diary of 18/8/16 6:15pm 3 Armour Piercing on F10b12.35, Aeroplane Registration”


19 Fri

Letter from R, pen from Herbert.

Very successful aeroplane shoot.  Walked to Bray this evening and saw old Bunny.

Extract from Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig's 1st Despatch, 19 May 1916 :

“I take this opportunity to bring to notice the admirable work which the Royal Flying Corps has continued to perform, in spite of much unfavourable weather, in carrying out reconnaissance duties, in taking photographs - an important aid to reconnaissance which has been brought to a high pitch of perfection - and in assisting the work of our Artillery by registering targets and locating hostile batteries.

In the performance of this work they have flown in weather when no hostile aeroplane ventured out, and they have not hesitated to fly low, under fire of the enemy's guns, when their duties made it necessary to do so. 

The observers, no less than the pilots, have done excellent service, and many fine feats have been performed by both.

Much inventive genius has been displayed; and our equipment for photography, wireless telegraphy, bomb-dropping and offensive action generally has been immensely improved.”


20 Sat

Glorious day.  Capt Everidge came round, very chatty.


Now we shan’t be long.

British regain mine crater on Vimy Ridge.


21 Sun

Letter from Ma.

Glorious day, terribly busy.



22 Mon

Had a shoot booked for 2 pm cancelled owing to thunderstorm.

Letter from G.



23 Tue

Luggie ranging on top road, both aerials shot away.



24 Wed

Letters from Dad and Syd.  Nothing much doing.



25 Thu

Letter from Airman and parcel from Ma. 

Terrific bombardment of valley about 10:30 pm .  Walked to Bray this evening saw old Bunny, got soaked to the skin, coming back.



26 Fri

Letters from Fred Jones, Ma and G.  Fair day, plenty of other squadrons out no M’s.



27 Sat

Very decent day, plenty doing.  Went and saw Williams this evening, took a stroll up the valley, very interesting to see the immense preparations.

How much longer.

Preparations for the Battle of the Somme:  The battle was a Franco-British attempt to pierce the German lines near the river Somme . Initially conceived as a small-scale offensive based mainly on artillery firepower, General Haig expanded the offensive throughout the second half of 1916 in an attempt to achieve a major breakthrough.  The British planned to attack on a 15 mile front between Serre, north of the Ancre, and Curlu, north of the Somme . Five French divisions would attack an eight mile front south of the Somme , between Curlu and Peronne.


28 Sun

Fine day.  Went with G Woods up in the first line of trenches, very interesting.

Germans bombard British line between La Bassee Canal and Arras .


29 Mon

Letter from Dad.  Bad news about Syd being wounded.



30 Tue

Letter from Lily.

Decent day after a dull morning.



31 Wed

Decent day but very misty.  Went up to F.P. this morning, too misty for observation.

Much artillery activity on Vimy Ridge.


Next month


Diary home © peter james tabor 2004  

This page was last updated on 23 February 2004.