April 21st 1915
STE MARIE CAPPEL (near CASSEL) :
Day spent in inspections and issuing stores.
A telegram was received from HM The King.
The numbers arriving at STE Marie CAPPEL were:
Other ranks 1001
(Source: War Diary National Archive)
It was usual for novice soldiers to be introduced slowly to the horrors of the trenches. The plan was for the Bede boys in A Company, 8th Battalion DLI to do more training before being placed in a quiet area on the front with more experienced troops to break them in.
Ste. Marie Cappel – a first hand account of April 21st :
In an account later published in book form, H. W. Tustin recorded his memories of the 21st April, a shortened extract of which I reproduce below:
A hen fluttering down from its perch on to my face aroused me…The stench of a sodden pigsty steamed up through the loose boards of the soiled hay which made our common bed.
It was not a sweet billet this; but neither the hens above nor the pigs below had disturbed us..We had passed the night oblivious of the fitful glare and rumble of distant gunfire – careless even of the tearing reverberation of bombs dropped near us during this, our second night in France – for we were dog-tired, and, being Tommies of a Northern Territorial regiment, had learned to make the most of the little rest allowed.
We were still drowsy on that cold Wednesday morning of 21 April 1915 ..but … we stirred ourselves into activity. One or two hardy warriors bathed in the duck pond near at hand and emerged declaring themselves much refreshed…
The morning was occupied in routine work and wearisome inspections and parades, and then in the afternoon, we were free to explore the village of Sainte-Marie-Cappel, which lay within half a mile of our farm.
The peace of this hamlet fell upon us like a benediction…The war seemed far, far away. Yet as the children played there came, rising and falling on the breeze, the sinister jarring and rumbling of the guns.
Credits: Richard Corr and www.pen-and-sword.co.uk
April 22nd 1915:
Nothing of any importance occurred this day.
All arms were tested with ball ammunition.
(Source: War Diary, National Archive)