1/4TH   BATTALION
Alexandra,  Princess   of   Wales's   Own
YORKSHIRE   REGIMENT
Page 17. Back to the Ypres Salient.

On the 18th December the Bn marched to Bailleul, travelled by train to Poperinghe, then marched to huts at Dickebusch.

4th DECEMBER. Ptes Duffield, Wilkin, Wilson and Cavanagh proceeded to Base unfit for Service and Pte Ledgard as under age.
Company Sergeant Major Bainbridge was granted a Commission in this Bn.

6th to 15th DECEMBER. Football - 4th Yorks 2 - Durham Light Infantry 2.
4th Yorks 3 - 50th Div Cyclists 2.
Pts Rodler and Airey proceeded to Base as unfit for Service.
28 washerwomen were mobilized under 2nd Lt Beresfore Pierse for the purpose of washing the underclothing of the Battalion.
Headquarters supplied bathing facilities for 20 men per hour and made arrangements to wash clothes also.

On the 15th the Bn held a Sports day with 10 francs being awarded to the winner of each event and lesser amounts to the placed men.

18th DECEMBER. The Battalion assembled in Outtersteene at 10 a.m and marched to Bailleul.
From there, they were taken by train to Poperinghe.
From Poperinghe, they marched to Dickebusch huts, arriving at 5.30 p.m.
The state of the ground was awful, deep mud everywhere, but the weather was fine.
Diary reports - "We were all very sorry to leave our comfortable farmhouses, where we had been for 5 weeks."

19th DECEMBER. At 5.30 a.m the Germans gassed the Northern Sector of the Ypres salient.

On the 19th December 1915, the 4th Bn moved to Railway Dugouts, which were shelters dug into the side of the railway embankment.
On the 20th they went into the trenches in Armagh Wood.

The gas penetrated as far South as Bailleul and the Bn stood to, wearing their "Tube Helmets" as it was "uncomfortably strong".
The Artillery bombarded the German lines very heavily from early morning, all day and night.
At 3.15 they marched to the Railway dugouts near Zillebeke for one night and settled in there about 6 p.m.
They "witnessed an exciting plane duel, in which the Hun was driven back to his line.

20th DECEMBER. The Battalion relieved the 6th Bn Kings Own Scottish Borderers, Centre Brigade in trenches A3 to A6 in Armagh Wood.
Y Company was left behind in Railway dugouts, as full Bn strength not required.
X Company were given the important support strong post R1 in Armagh Wood.
The trenches were in a terrible, dilapidated state.
The unit on the right was the 4th East Yorks and on the left the Durham Brigade.

21st DECEMBER. It rained all day. Endeavours were made to drain the trenches and dry all Trench Boots, which were handed over very wet.
[To combat the many cases of Trench Foot that had occurred during the Winter of 1914-1915, Trench Boots were issued where conditions were extreme. These were something like a fisherman's waders.]

The 4th Battalion Diary reports trenches infested with rats.
In the unsanitary conditions of the trenches rats rapidly multiplied.
Their only food supply in a landscape blasted by shells was discarded food, the contents of the latrines [which were a hole in the ground] and the dead.
Horror stories of their bloated size and lack of fear abound.
[Photo retouched copy by website.]

Telephonic communications to the various Companies were established.
Work was got in hand by the Engineers on rebuilding the trenches.
The enemy were quiet all day, but one man, Cpl Brown of W Coy was hit by a bullet through the chest while on duty in the trench.

22nd DECEMBER. It rained from 11 a.m to 7 p.m. Work was continued on the Trenches and dugouts were commenced for HQ servants.
Under Dr Condy's supervision all the boots and socks were dried and mens' feet were washed and some massaged.
The Trenches were infested with rats.
Captain Maughan was admitted to Hospital with water on the heel.

23nd DECEMBER.

3749 Pte Farrow Ernest. Enlisted at Middlesbrough, N Yorks. Killed in action. Commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres.
5 men were sent on Police duty at Ypres.
The Bn was relieved by the 5th Bn DLI in the trenches and proceeded to Bde Reserve in Railway Dugouts.

24th DECEMBER. The Bn got to work to dry themselves after 4 very trying days in the trenches.

25th DECEMBER. More rain. Major Scott set to work with a gang of men to reconstruct the fallen in dugouts and a place was prepared to bath the Bn in Transport Farm.
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