This section was made possible thanks to Annie Walker, of School Lane, Old Skem, and tells of life in the Somme through the eyes of Frank Patrick. Frank is the uncle of Annie’s first husband, Ron Lackland.
On the inside of the hardback diary, which is for 1916, it says “This book contains some of our doings during 1916. I have far from put everything in but have put a bit in for each day. Please return if found to Mrs Patrick of Nags Head Cottage, Rainford, St Helens, Lancashire.”
On the facing page it says – “If anyone should find this book will they please forward it onto Mrs Patrick, Nags Head Cottage, St Helens, Lancashire, England, and oblige Mrs Patrick and her son Frank”
Next page – “I got this while on my pass to England from a friend of mine Mr Harry Saunders, Colliery House, Rainford, Nr St Helens, Lancashire, England”
Overleaf – Pte Byrom, No 16751, 7th South Lancs, D Coy, BEF, France; Fairie J Thorpe, No 16787, D Company, 7th South Lancs; Pte W Pase, No 15949, D Company, 7th South Lancs
Overleaf – “The finder please forward to my mother and I hope mother will send word to my girlfriend. Her address is Miss Francis Graham, No 96 Corker Street, Blackpool, Lancashire. I got her address under very strang sercumstances.” After that there a few pages of printed information abour weights and dates to remember. The next handwritten page is titled (printed by the publisher) “Memoranda from 1915″
Everything which is written down in the diary is exactly how Frank wrote it
20th May 1916
Joe Byrom went on pass this morning from Tirancourt with Pte Davies, they got 30 franc from Lut Oil, there being a mistake in the order of there pay. It is very warm, the Battalion left LA Chaussee yesterday… the 21/5.16 for a 14 miles walk near the line, we are left behind for instructions on scouting three of each company. The 23/3/16 wa a stiff march, we left our billets at 5.30 and matched from La Gougue to the La Bassee Road then alonmg the La Bassee Road to the trenches via Ibges Hole through Neave Chapell village, the British tranches lie about 200 yards in front of the village. We relieved the Royal Welsh Fusilliers. On the 23/5/16 I got hit on my left thumb just as we started work at 9.15 in the morning. Pte Rogerson got hit about 15 minutes before, I was not away many days, Pte Rogerson got to England.
The plase we are at now the 24/5/16 is a nice pace on the river Somme called La Chaussee, the village church is 186 years old. Our artilliery is 4 kilometres away at a place called Belloy De Somme. On the 26/5/16, 21 of the advance party from the Battalion landes back at La Chausee, they are sick who fell out going, the Batt. are out-side Albert, 28 miles from La Chaussee, they start back on the 27/5/16 and are having 3 days coming back instead of two.
Sunday the 28/5/16 the Batt. land back in two days march, they are tired but there is not many falls out. 1/6/16 we go on fire picket duty under Mr Porter at 6.30 and then parade again at 10.0pm. On the 5/6/16 after the Brigadires inspection me Pte Loving and Pte Butterworth go on Brigade Guard at 3.0pm.
I receive a parcel from my sister Florie also a watch. There is plenty of food on this guard. Before we leave La Chausee we have an inspection of clothing and equipment to see if we are dressed proper.
The date is 7/6/16 we go through St Vast, a little village between La Chausee and Thesselles. On the 8/6/16 we have a brigade schem and we get wet with crossing the country it rains. On the 14/6/16 we have a new officer in our Platoon. Mr Porter went away a week ago with a working party to Armeins, 3 of 16 Platoon going.
16/6/16 we leave Flesselles, have a nice march about 6 and a half to a place called Melliens Bois. It is a village all country round about all D. Com. is in one billet – there is some nice big churches in these villages for the size of the places. On the 7/6/16 I am asked by our Captain to take Lanc Corporal but I refuse it. 22/6/16 it is a nice day, the scouts have a nice morning learning signalling the battalion. Went at 9.0 for a rought march full pack. We are still at Melluns au Bois. We have 4 to a loaf and have no cheese this last four days. On the 21/6/16 we had 8 to a loaf but our officer bought us 3 loaves.
23/6/16 the divisional general presented medals to the men out of our division for bravery while on service, 3 of our Battalion 1 private and 2 leitenants got them. Since 24/6/16 we have been getting ready for the attack which came off on the 1st of the 7th months, we was in the fighting 8 days round the village of La Boiselles where we took some trenches and the village. We lost a good few officers and men we came out of the fighting on the 10th and are under canvas at the moment where we have an inspection by the Army Corp General and he speak of the fine fighting by the 19th division.
The article from the Ormskirk Advertiser (above) about the diary and explains the history behind it.