British NCO served as signaller with 144th Heavy Bty, Royal Garrison Artillery on Western Front, 1916-1918
REEL 1: Aspects of period with 144th Heavy Bty, Royal Garrison Artillery in GB, 1914: story of visit to girlfriend during draft leave; returned to boarding camp near Aldershot; description of preparations for embarkation; memories of Bill Toddy; description of loading men, horses and guns aboard the Bellerophon at Southampton and crossing Channel to Le Havre, France, 6/1916. Aspects of operations with 144th Heavy Bty, Royal Garrison Artillery on Western Front, 6-7/1916: various memories of Cpt. Gregory; description of journey in cattle trucks to Rouen; problem with horse 'Ringie'; detrained at Corbie; amusing story of French soldier urinating; moved into horse lines at Suzanne, Somme; story horse drowning in bog; moved into wood outside Suzanne; problem of rats eating ration biscuits; moved into billets on farm in Bray-sur-Somme; method of preventing rats eating ration biscuits; description of 4.7's and 60-pounder guns firing; problem of recoil; use of camouflaged dummy guns.
REEL 2 Continues: amusing story of being shelled while on latrine in Carnoy Valley, Somme, 1/Jul/1916; established observation post; opinion of Maj. Langhorn; duties digging gun pits and dugouts for officers; ammunition dumps; method of carrying shells and ammunition in sandbags on back; description of shells and fuses; story of Maj. Langhorn asking officer to dismantle shrapnel fuse; story of infantry NCO killed while trying to remove fuse from shell; description of observation post; story of demolishing Mametz church tower and Waterlot chimney; story of taking signalling equipment up to front line on morning of 1/Jul/1916; followed infantry attack; description of using flags to send message in Morse code about capture of Montauban; problem of flags attracting German artillery; description of guns, ammunition, battery and counter-battery firing; gun sights; method of detecting German batteries at night and in daytime.
REEL 3 Continues: further comments on battery firing including 'triangle of error'; role in operations at Montauban on 14/Jul/1916; description of shell hitting tree; story of soldier killed by shell; story of being knocked unconscious by piece of shrapnel while carrying rations and receiving extra rations from quartermaster in East Yorkshire Regt; description of cavalry charge by Deccan Horse; attitude to conditions for horses; story of 37 horses killed by one shell; story of taking 38 German prisoners at Templeux-la-Fosse; description of decomposing bodies in Trones Wood; story of being wounded by shrapnel, 17/Jul/1916; nature of wounds and medical treatment in France.
REEL 4 Continues: further description of wounds and medical treatment and voyage aboard hospital ship from Rouen to Southampton. Aspects of period in GB, 7/1916-6/1917: entrained to Birmingham; story about German helmet; admitted to Birch Hill Hospital, Rochdale; description of medical treatment on jaw and arm; opinion of treatment; story of Christmas dinner and discharge, 12/1916.
REEL 5 Continues: transferred to specialist jaw hospital in Manchester; description of wards; opinion of staff and food; hospital uniform; story of being challenged by Sister after visit to Rochdale; x-rays; story of buying pair of pliers, 1/1917; posted to command depot, Ripon; problem of cold weather and snow; description of camp; story of attending medical board to assess wound to jaw; opinion of living conditions and food in camp; story of 2am parade in snow; discipline in camp; story about death of Jewish soldier; latrines and washing facilities; physical training; posted to in Winchester; story about battery football team.
REEL 6 Continues: Aspects of operations with 144th Heavy Bty, Royal Garrison Artillery on Western Front, 6/1917-11/1918: joined Bty in Passchendaele sector; location of Brigade HQ; problem of losing contact with Bty during Battle of Messines ; story of riding on officer's horse; story of visiting friends in 122nd Bty; description of signallers killed by shell; opinion of training; promotions and pay; only 1st class signaller in Bty; duties as corporal; role of 27th Bde and types of guns; story about Taffy Morgan; description of Bde HQ in chateau; problem of observation post in German pillbox facing wrong way; description of German bodies in water; use of pressure driven pumps in trenches; description of ruins of Wieltje; duties on wiring party; obtained food from canteen in Ypres; memories of visit to Poperinghe and Toc H; story of shell landing in town hall square at Ypres and blowing officer of his feet; description of gas shells and casualties.
REEL 7 Continues: memories of horses; story of delayed action mine under latrine; description of German attack on Bullecourt, 21/Mar/1918; story of being accused of desertion by sergeant-major; description of German plane releasing red marker balloons for artillery; story about dud shell passing under armpit of US soldier; rode horse; story of being wounded by shrapnel and casualties among limber team; description of pulling guns out of mud; story of taking food from sergeant's mess; abandoned camp; rations; story of chasing pig in farmyard; role as lead driver on wagon; story of infantry captain calling for three cheers for gunners; description of reconnaissance mission with major.
REEL 8 Continues: returned to battery after course; description of duties with balloon section; story of balloon shot down by German plane; description of advance at Mericourt l'Abbaye, 8/Aug/1918; story of crashed plane; liaison between artillery and aircraft; story of receiving letter of commendation for locating record number of targets; story of gun position in white tent being targeted by German plane; reaction to news of Armistice, 11/Nov/1918; problem of mines and booby traps; story of delivering news of Armistice to Major Armstrong; attitude to being commissioned in Royal Engineers; description of preparations in case of Armistice being called off; opinion of conditions in Soldatenheim.
The Battle of Verdun (21 February-15 December 1916) became the longest battle in modern history. It was originally planned by the German Chief of General Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn to secure victory for Germany on the Western Front.
'Over The Top'. 1st Artists' Rifles at Marcoing, 30th December 1917, by John Nash.
Brothers Paul and John Nash were both commissioned as official war artists during the First World War - Paul from 1917 and John from 1918. Prior to becoming official war artists, both of the brothers had seen active service on the Western Front.
The trench warfare of the Western Front encouraged the development of new weaponry to break the stalemate. Poison gas was one such development. The first significant gas attack occurred at Ypres in April 1915, when the Germans released clouds of poisonous chlorine.