British private served with 2nd Bn Hampshire Regt and 88th Coy Machine Gun Corps on Western Front, 1916-1918
REEL 1: Enlistment in London, 10/Aug/1914; problem of speech impediment. Recollections of operations as private with 2nd Bn Hampshire Regt and 88th Coy Machine Gun Corps on Western Front, 1916-1918: in line in Somme area, France, 5/1916; army number; question of not having served in India; fatigues; story of Canadian officer; description of operations with listening patrol; rations and water supply; description of trenches including Constitution Hill; story of friend Ted Smith; description of training and preparation for Battle of Somme; instructions and briefing; told wire would be cut; ordered not to run across No Man's Land; threat of court martial if caught in own barrage; advanced in extended order; terrain; preliminary artillery bombardment; training exercises; memory of sharpening bayonet; one in five soldiers had tin plate on back; issued with wire cutters; memory of writing field post card; amusing story of card game; description of role as No 3 in Vickers machine gun team; description of artillery bombardment.
REEL 2 Continues: conditions in communication trench; description of carrying boxes of ammunition on back; noise of bombardment; rum ration; memory of wounded coming in; description of climbing ladder out of trench and going over the top; death of officer and other casualties in trench; memory of seeing men falling; took cover in shell hole; description of view across No Man's Land; casualties; story of returning to trenches at night; memory of taking water bottle from dead soldier; problem of getting though barbed wire; story of helping wounded soldier in shell hole to dressing station; rifle and equipment; memories of Canadian and Scottish troops in Hamel sector; story of South African artillery man; billeted in barn near Englebelmer.
REEL 3 Continues: story of corporal; description of carrying duck boards; question of wearing respirator at alert; story of Canadian officer and respirator; entrained to Poperinghe and marched to Ypres sector, Belgium, 8/1916; memory of Belgian women making lace; use of mules; description of terrain around Ypres, 8/1916; story of Joan ofArc brooch; problem of gas; story of two-year service badge; duties with wiring party; description of gas attack and effects of gas; opinion of effectiveness of respirators.
REEL 4 Continues: story of interview with officer about gas attack and faulty respirators; transferred to Machine Gun Corps, 8/1916; opinion of Newfoundland troops; composition of Machine Gun Corps; entrained to Arras, France; memory of Jewish sergeant; description of duties as mule driver with transport section; memory of Arras racecourse; moved into line at Monchy-le-Prieux; description of trench system and defences; question of sense of direction; duties delivering rations and water; opinion of rations; rum ration; death of horses on Arras racecourse; description of Arras and tunnels under Arras; amusing story of message on shell; moved into line at Combles; memory of Pawn Shop corner and other 'corners' in France and Belgium; moved into line at Cambrai; aerial activity; question of removing machine guns from crashed aircraft; use of mules to carry ammunition; story of mules being shelled; use of mules to carry wounded; opinion of value of mules; other duties with transport section; mobile role of Machine Gun Corps attached to various units; question of co-operation with artillery; opinion of Australians
REEL 5 Continues: story of carrying duckboards; daily routine and duties with transport seection; care of mules; cooking food; various memories of post-war period in Germany, 12/1918.
REEL 6 Continues: memory of billets in village near Ypres; further memories of Belgian lace makers; description of supervising members of Chinese Labour Corps in maintenance of latrines; amusing story of Chinese acting lance-corporal; memory of billets in convent cellars, Ypres; further comments on duties with transport section including carrying boxes of .303 ammunition; memory of German POWs; home leave, 1917; memory of seeing film about Battle of Arras in London; returned to Monchy-le-Prieux, France; story of Sergeant Cook; description of unloading guns and ammunition at Cambrai; memory of seeing tanks in action; story of capturing German stores; duties carrying boxes of .303 ammunition up to infantry; role in helping wounded brought back wounded from Marcoing Copse; various memories of Victoria Railway Station, London.
REEL 7 Continues: description of dispersal station and facilities at Dover prior to embarkation; amusing story of Scottish soldier; landed at Boulogne and entrained to Poperinghe, Belgium; moved into Ypres sector; description of rest areas behind lines; care of mules; billets in farmhouse; story of helping farmer make cider; picket duty.
REEL 8 Continues: story of enlistment with Hampshire Regt and question of age, 8/1914; memories of brother killed at Gallipoli; description of voyage to France; story of sap in sunken road and listening patrol; memories of Canadian officer; role of listening patrols; story of capturing German soldier in trench; use of flash blinder on machine gun and method of firing through sandbags to reduce muzzle flash; role of Machine Gun Corps; further description of operations at Cambrai; opinion of model of Ypres area at Imperial War Museum, London; story of billeting officer; story of riding mule; reception from local civilians in Germany, 1918; billets in Germany; demobilisation, 1/1919.
REEL 9 Continues: opinion of American troops; memories of Armistice, 11/11/1918; amusing story of moustache; problem of food shortages at end of war; plays popular songs on accordion and whistle; story of German family and accordion, Christmas 1918.
REEL 10 Continues: story of birth in Dublin, 1896; father's service with Hampshire Regt in Boer War; story of passport; family; education; father's medals, length of service and pension; pre-war employment as blacksmith's apprentice; story of enlistment with Hampshire Regt, Aldershot, 8/1914; question of age and influence of godfather; posted to Special Reserve; trained as machine gunner at Gosport.
REEL 11 Continues: description of return to GB and demobilisation, 1919. Post-war life and employment: employment as ticket collector on London buses.
REEL 12 Continues: Further recollections of operations on Western Front, 1914-1918: memories of tanks; further comments on training as machine gunner; role of members of machine gun team; description of loading and firing machine gun; comparison between British and German machine guns; problem of cartridges jamming; opinion of army training; description of setting sights on Lewis gun; question of firing Lewis gun from shoulder; comparison of Maxim and Vickers machine guns; opinion of German machine guns; memory of WVS canteen; story of German aircraft strafing troops.
REEL 13 Continues: Comments by son Alan Byrne on post-war visit to Somme battlefields, France, 1978.