Title - January 1915 Diary of 12/69 Alphaeus Abbott Casey

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Alphaeus Abbott Casey was born at Annesley Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire on 22nd January 1895, the son of Thomas and Annie Casey. He was a student at the University of Sheffield when he enlisted into the ranks of the City Battalion with the number 12/69 on 10th September 1914. Between 1st January and 24th March 1915, during which time the battalion was at Redmires Camp, Alphaeus kept a detailed diary which gives a rare insight into the training regime of a Pals battalion. On 1st July 1916, he was killed in action with the battalion's "A" Company during the attack on Serre. Alphaeus has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

The original copy of Alphaeus's diary, written in pencil, is now in the care of the University of Sheffield Library (Special Collections). The following transcript was made by the Library's Jacky Hodgson, and appears here with her kind permission. I am also grateful to Alphaeus's family - in particular, Anne & Lois Brookes, and Melinda & Gemma Smallwood - for allowing me to use the diary.

Notes from 1914

Spent Easter at Festiniog.

Had enjoyable year, completing second varsity year, B.Sc., Physics, Pure Math, Geogr. Was doing 3 wks teaching practice at Morley Rd Council School when Archduke of Austria murdered. Never thought would lead up to England entering war. At Chapel was secretary Petre St P.M. Tennis Club, and won mixed doubles tournament. Played about every day during long vacation. Day before war declared (August 4th) asked by War Office with other Varsity men if prepared to accept commission. Applied, passed medical, [   ]. Didn’t think war would be so tremendous. When realised, enlisted as private in Sheffield University and City Battalion on 10th September 1914 together with over 90 others from varsity. Had part 1 drill party in O.T.C. for 6 wks afternoons.

Drilled now at Drill Hall, Bramall Lane, Norfolk Park. After 3 months went to Redmires in huts. Up to date chiefly dug trenches and made roads.

Friday 1st January 1915

(Land of hope and glory, Mother of the free,
How shall we extol thee, we who are born of thee.
Wider yet and wider shall thy bounds be set,
God who made thee mighty make thee mightier yet).

Attended Watch Night Service at Petre St. Father and Mr Saul delivered addresses. Pater’s subject condensed to “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth”. Wished many happy new years. Hope victorious. All hoped would be no war next new year. Went home. Thought saw lad hiding. Was Eunice disguised. Saw new house Burngreave Rd. Very tired. Bed 12.45am. Got up 11am. Afternoon saw footer match Wednes v Newcastle, 2-1. Muddy ground, players wet through.

Mother came home, met her at G C Station. Percy paid a visit, having returned from Red Cross at Boulogne. Had fine time, looks well, attended lot of wounded. Said didn’t think much of French. Went with him in evening to Cinema to see Cinderella.

Saturday 2nd January 1915

Bed 12.15am. Stopped up for girls who had gone to Mosbrough. They arrived when in bed. Arose 10.45am. Learned “Formidable” sunk in Channel. We are pretty even in naval losses but their % more than twice ours.

Wednes v United, fine hard game, sludgy, 1-1, Wednes better team.

Evening went to Albert Hall to see “Traffic in Souls”. Fine picture, though rather too suggestive. Wouldn’t like to take girl.

Bought paint brush to paint needsfoot [neatsfoot] oil on boots. Am gradually getting little things I need.

Had hot bath. Must have hair cut. Last night at home before end of 6 days leave.

Bed 11.15pm.

Sunday 3rd January 1915

Rose 11.30. Splendid concert at Chapel in afternoon in aid of Belgians. Beautiful music, raised £12/4/-/. Had little chat with girls. Evening heard good sermon by Rev A.E. Rose, subject “The Talents”. Pointed out men are given powers and placed among certain environments in which should use them, and that account must be rendered. He emphasised that men think of their talents wrongly. They are held in trust.

I wonder what my talents are?

Arrived in camp 9.15pm. Redmires covered with slushy snow. Lads comfy and well. Orders, 1 light, no undress, ready to be fetched out at night. Huts new years resolution:- no swearing. Order cancelled.

Monday 4th January 1915

The rain it raineth every day. Slush and sleet, rifles inspected, physical exercise in hut, 1½ mile run, drill with rifle in closed formation.

Dinner rather poor for a surprise.

More rifle drill in platoons and company.

Rain, which stopped about 11am, started again 4.10pm. Read Times. 6 new armies being formed, total 800,000 men, ready in early spring. We’ll make them jump. Good tea. Played footer. 3 chess games, won all. Oldale says was report in Green Un re 20 out of 30 in hut being chess players. 8pm went into Y.M.C.A. hut. Exceedingly cosy and attractive. Comfortable chairs and small tables to write on. Splendid piano. Sing-songs. Chap VII, Lodge, “Revelation of Christ”. Opportunity for painful service as test, e.g. Christ. His coming foretold. Everything we understand is orderly, in design and structure. Was this war? Wonder what good.

Tuesday 5th January 1915 

Arose 6.30. Cold. Porridge and Bully Beef. Excellent. Washed brekker pots. Rifle physical exercise. Nearly broke me. Extended order drill. Rain, Lecture. Good dinner: potatoes, peas, onions, turnips, cabbage, fig pudding.

Orders:- 2 night marches, weekly. Afternoon off. Washed dinner pots, 10 minutes footer, lost to Marsden at chess, read little of [left blank], listened to Il Trouvatora [Il Trovatore?], Arcadia on gramophone. Dozed on bed. Felt lazy. Peaches for tea. Night march, paraded 5.45pm, ended 9.5pm. No smoking, talking, noise allowed. Went about 10 miles thro Wyming Brook, back past Lodge Moor. Marched in 4s, 2 deep, in two’s on each side of road, halted by passing in whispers. Practised hiding on road side. Dismissed by passed message. Very tired. Fortunately beautiful night. Enjoyed bread and soup for supper. Made bed.

Wednesday 6th January 1915 

Clear sky, sunshine. Felt stiff round belt. Sergeants’ Mess fatigue, paraded 7am, not time to perform toilet. Washed dirty supper pots 7-8.15. Brekker:- sausage. Returned 8.45, washed great no of pots, fetched 3 pans of coal and 1 coke, emptied 2 rubbish tins, scrubbed 2 tables, washed dirty glasses in sergeants’ canteen. Absolutely sick of work. Dinner 12.45:- usual and figs (stewed). Very nice, savoury. Played footer 1.15-1.45. 1.45-3.15 washed dinner pots. Thought would never finish. Scrubbed floors. 3.30 other 3 men went. I stayed to tea, went to canteen for provisions, helped butter and cut bread. Bardsley (picket) and I took guard sergeant tea. 6.10-6.30 tea, apricots and pineapple and cake. Enjoyed it. Very tired, slight headache, helped finish pots. Finished work 6.45pm. Played Moses chess, lost. Several good games at solo-whist. Corporal asked for names of those applied for commission. Gave mine.

Thursday 7th January 1915

Fair weather but gloomy at reveille 6.30. Mess orderly, took tins to cook-house and fetched food. Bacon for brekker. Excellent. First attempt at digging trenches with traverses at 9-10.15am. 10.15-11 acted as screen, practising attack and retreat and passing messages. 11-12.15 more trench digging. Rain 12-rest of day. Enjoyed dinner but had slight cold. Afternoon beat Foster at chess, went to library and read Land and Water by Belloc, played solo whist. Rained heavily. Night march 6-8.45pm, all companies. Route:- Wyming Brook Rd, Hollow Meadows, back along Manchester Road, round dams and up Wyming Rd. Sleet and finally snow fell heavily. Hot soup for supper. Sing-song. Read Chap. I, Part II. Lodge “Hints on teaching”. Old Testament history of early people, suitable to childhood of world and to individual children.

Friday 8th January 1915

Clear sky, cold wind. Brekker:- fried liver. Refuse bucket orderly. Practised attacking trenches, advancing in column, then line of sections and line by sections. Screened trenches. Formed part of picket.

Dinner:- Usual, Bread Pudding. Very good.

Afternoon. Rifles inspected; pay day. Rained intermittently. Also in evening. Cold worse. If no better, sick parade tomorrow. Read Star and Times in evening. Little news. Lodge Chap. II, I, “Aspects of truth”, “In so far as a thing is perfectly beautiful it corresponds to an ideal in the mind of the Creator”. Truth is an affair of perception. Only poetry and litt accepted by all ages. “A dog in picture gallery, interested in smells and corners, may represent, as in parable, much of our attitude to Universe”. Germans is military standpoint, depending on force.

Saturday 9th January 1915

Raining heavily, cold worse, sick parade 7.30am, my temp low, 4 quinine tablets and confined to hut. Porridge and sauce brekker. Helped hut orderly, Goodier [Goodyear?], fetch coal and sweep up till 10.45. Read papers and lost 1 chess v. Goodier until 2pm, when others returned from battalion route march.

Dinner:- usual and mince pie.

Afternoon, dozed, played solo. Tea 4 tins pineapple between 10 men. Lockwood taught me bridge. Had poor hands. Cold much better. Bought phospherine.

Must write John and Douglas tomorrow.

10.15pm lights out. Goodier, Croft, Robinson, Howard gathered round fire, striking matches, smoking, humorous yarns. 10.55 knocking at door. No notice taken, door bolted. Officer goes to other door. Men get in bed making row. Laughable incident. Funny when Peter came in.

Sunday 10th January 1915

Cold better, went on duty; inlying picket. Porridge and bacon. Read Times Literary Supplement, glanced at Zoo notes, played bridge, winning every rubber, footer. Dinner:- usual and jam roll. Very good. Played No. 1 Hut footer, lost 1-0. Snowed lightly all day from 11.30am. Wet through. Poor game, conditions too bad. Tea, jam.

Evening read Star, chess with Bardsley. Tired, head dull. Read how Koenigsberg was destroyed after being bottled up in creek, aeroplane being used to locate it. Germany trying to make peace with France and Russia, not England. Fine compliment.

We could alone beat almost any possible combination in Europe. Looks as if Italy and Rumania will come in on our side in spring.

Monday 11th January 1915 

Woke early morning with rain dropping on face thro’ open window. Shut it. Rained and snowed all morning. Practised aiming, firing positions, muscle exercises, physical exercise. Brekker, roast pork. Dinner:- usual and stewed fruit. Washer up.

Afternoon, blowing gale, no rain, company drill. 4.15pm, rain, rifle exercises and rapid altering of sights. 5pm cleaned rifle. Gave name in as having applied for commission before war. Tea:- apricots. Evening, played bridge, draw 178-178. Cleaned buttons. Still slight cold. Reply to American Note  proves U.S.A. smuggling contraband into Germany. Has showed trade of U.S.A. increased.

Tuesday 12th January 1915

Clear sky, crisp. Cold almost better. Brekker:- porridge and bacon. Good. Marched to hill overlooking camp and completed trenches by making loopholes over ammunition places[?]. Loophole 9’ by 3’ in trench, 3’ by 3’ at end. [   ] 18 in, roof made of flat stone. Elbow rest of 9 in. Stood pieces of rubble in parapet (from slope in front and rear).

Afternoon marched past “Grouse and Trout” towards top side of dams on moors. Practised semaphore. Tea:- jam and usual. After tea had outpost [scheme?] between Fulwood Booth and 1175 on Ordinance Map, on land ½ ml front and ½ ml rt of Grouse and Trout. 2 and 4 platoons marched out to the Stanage Pole, and represented army trying to get at rear of defeated army retreating on 2 || rds on Sheffield. We spread out to prevent enemy getting between. Formed part of screen on rt of Redmires Rd. Secured ground. Devilish dark. Lost touch with one another. Mistook Crick for enemy and special constable for enemies picket. Sgt Major got through (at Fulwood Booth) to camp and fetched [   ].

Wednesday 13th January 1915

Rained about 4am. 6.30am no rain. Did company drill until 11am. Rain, going into huts when stopped to be inspected by Brigadier General Bowles, commanding 115 Brigade. Made short address. Seemed decent sort, older than colonel and not as upright in figure. Impressed on us necessity of subordinating self in interests of battalion. Afternoon no parade. H D O [half day off] raced to catch 2.40 bus to Sheffield. Win by 200 yds. 3.10-5.10 Electra, saw fine film “Mr What’s His Name” [actual title is “What’s his name”] by Lasky. Had hair-cut at Constantines and home for tea at 6pm. Took 1lb nuts for children. Mother missioning at Mexboro’. Saw Doug’s father, had recovered from operation. Everybody seems to be enlisting. Father gave me French New Testament. Has brought back military notes from Varsity. Bought 2/4 box of chocs for hut. Peeled onions 9-10pm ready for brekker. Read Chap. 1 New Testament.

Thursday 14th January 1915

Potato orderly, had done onions, peeled carrots and took onions to cookhouse. Stake(sic) and onions for brekker. Visual training over water, dead ground, and light and dark backgrounds. Afternoon, being inlying picket, wheeled barrows full of stone for camp roads from quarry. Had race, 2nd. Dismissed at Retreat, played bridge. Jam for tea, bought tin of sardines from canteen, 3 ½ d. Swindlers at canteen. Played bridge till 8pm. Lost. Wrote P.C. to Thompsons, taxi to Lyceum, Saturday Turks invaded Persia and occupied Tabriz. Defeated in Caucasia, prepare to advance in Egypt. Poor devils. Viscount Hardinge says 200,000 Indian soldiers fighting in different parts of Empire.

Part of Chap. II, St. Matthew. Birth of Christ.

Friday 15th January 1915

Very windy, dull. Completed Chap. II, St. Matthew, describing journeys taken by Joseph according to divine instruction.

Brekker:- Porridge and bacon. Very satisfying.

Battalion route march thro’ Redmires Rd, turn to left, over Roper’s Hill, Camp. Forming part of van guard, was thrown out as flanker on Roper’s Hill, joining rear guard at 1st rest on moor. Sleet and hail came heavily for 2 hrs, making me very fatigued, walking, running, climbing, over moor, walls, ravines, hills, ridges, and close thicket. Rain stopped 12am, to recommence vigorously 12.30-6.30pm. Arrived camp 1.45, having left at 10am. Cleaned rifle, dinner, paid 7/- for week at 3pm, beat Jackman at chess, read “Sphere”. Bought pineapple for tea, alas Bully Beef. 7.30-9.30 Splendid concert at Y.M.C.A. I, given by Harry Heath’s Party. 9.35pm learnt on guard for Saturday so couldn’t go to opera “Gluck’s Tales” at Lyceum as arranged.

Saturday 16th January 1915

Gusty and cloudy weather. Cleaned buttons. Bacon for brekker. Paraded 8.15am. for guard on verandah. Rain. Miserable outlook. Was relief of No. 2 sentry, Officers’ Mess. Read Chap. III, Matthew, John the Baptist foretelling Christ, baptises him in Jordan. Sentry at Officers’ Quarters, 10-12am. Rained till 9.30am. Saluted officers below Major, presenting arms to Majors and Colonel, carefully guarding all government property within view, walking about in smart and soldier-like manner, preventing unauthorised persons from entering officers’ quarters. Relieved at 12, dinner. Read London Mag, beat Fife [Fyffe?] at chess, lost to another man, acted as escort on visiting rounds. Inspected by Orderly Officer. Chess 1-1. Won solo whist. Newspapers. 10-12 Sentry. No compliments between retreat and reveille, except present arms to “guard rounds”. Clear, starry sky, cold, piercing wind. Visited by “visiting rounds”. Challenged all who approached post.

Sunday 17th January 1915

12pm. Relieved by corporal, “relief halt”, the new sentry taking position 2 paces to left of me, “sentries pass”; he took up my position. Had little cake, tried to sleep on planks with blankets and overcoat on. Cold, got up 12.45pm. At 1am went with corporal and another to patrol the lines; all correct. Tried to sleep 1.30-2am. Man talking in sleep, 1 snoring, sergeant coughing. Sleep impossible. Sat by fire 2.45-4am. 4am-6am guard. Very cold, sleepy, saw only sergeant on visiting round and officer’s servant.

6-8.30am washed pots, folded blankets, toilet, swept up, cleaned tables. Guard turned out 7am at reveille, retreat (4.30pm) and tatos (1st and 2nd posts). Presented, sloped, ordered arms to new guard and vice-versa. Dismissed. Brekker:- bacon, dozed, lost at bridge. Went home in afternoon, Mother missioning at Mexboro, saw birthday cake. Visited Douglas. Convalescent , tonsils out and adenoids, Sydney Walton ditto.

Monday 18th January 1915

Clear, crisp sky, piercing wind which lessened. Before brekker helped Foster to carry laundry into No. 1 Hut. Brekker porridge and bacon, excellent.

Paraded with guard at 8.15am for outlying picket. Read London Mag and hand at solo. On picket at gate 12-2pm. Stood in sentry box most of time, fetched people who were wanted at gate, prevented unauthorised persons entering or leaving. Rice and fig pudding, rotten, had bread and honey for dinner. Fetched two buckets of coal, sergeant Unwin’s dinner. Read few old mags. Learnt Auction Bridge. Good game. 5.15 tea in hut. 6-8 picket at gate. Saw soldiers in full dress, puttees on, coat fastened, prevented smoking when passing sentry. 8-9.30 Played Auction Bridge. 9.30 1st post, 10pm 2nd. Paraded most of inlying picket, dismissed. Had to put out light in outlying building. Told to parade 7am on morrow to make fire. Noticed in morning that new guard presented arms when old marched off.

Tuesday 19th January 1915

Hut orderly, made, fire. 6.20, bed, washed, marched to guard room at 7am, made fire in orderly room, swept up. 7.45 brekker. No parade until 10.50 because of previous night march. Robinson and 2 Howards and others helped me to sweep up. Scrubbed tables; fetched coal 9.20 helped by Robinson, meat 8.50 took to cookhouse. Emptied washing water, put more on fire. When hot, cleaned Dixie’s, tea-cans, straightened beds and hut, swept up again, fetched choc for Benson, sick, Marsden also in bed. 11am orderly officer, Elam, inspected hut with medical. Told to open windows. After dinner, washed cans again, cleaned bath, fetched next day’s rations, swept hut, beat Marsden at chess, read Daily News. Tea, peaches. Washed tea-cans, wrote letter to John in Y.M.C.A. hut, wiped tables, washed dish-cloths. Made bed, very tired, prayers. Haven’t missed evening prayers for 11 years.

Wednesday 20th January 1915

Shooting, scored 27 out of 35 at 25 yds. Out of practice, 5th time. While others shot at improvised ranges, we did rifle exercises. 3 bulls, 4 inners ¼ in. off bull and close together.

11.30 and 12.30 company drill under colonel. Enjoyed it. Officers at sea. Jarrard didn’t know what to do. Formed mass, 4 lines of platoons in fours at 20 yds distance ect [sic].

Afternoon went on moors top side of Roper’s Hill and practised attack. Formed part of supports. Sleet falling, lay on damp moors, climbed lot of walls. Holmes [scouted?] with rifle at slope. 7-9 practised attack on parade ground, no noise. Line of platoons in fours [   ] by line of men, formed 2 deep, formed line, charged with linked hands. To dig trenches form line at 2 paces interval, [   ] slope [   ] put pick and shovel down [   ].

Thursday 21st January 1915

Washing pots, read Chapt IV Matthew, 1st part of a sermon. Parade 10.50. Rain. Physical exercise in hut under Townsend. Leg circling on floor nearly strained me. 12-12.30 Sgt Unwin gave us details of Quartermaster Sgt Marsden’s lecture to officers and N.C.Os. 1/ Tables thoroughly scrubbed outdoors in fine weather. 2/ Wash basin cleaned with soda, used only washing, if not clean produce eye disease. 3/No waste be poured down grate or typhoid in hot weather. 4/Make beds and sweep up before wash.

Afternoon:- Company drill under Jarrard, observed by colonel. Practised echelon formation at several paces interval. Used against barbarians and weak enemies, every man shooting, first line kneeling. Form it from close and from columns at that distance. After Simpson and 2 others tested in platoon drill. Weather bitter cold. 5.15 ran to Lodgemoor, home, saw mother, brought back birthday cake.

Friday 22nd January 1915

Twentieth Birthday and on cookhouse fatigue. Blizzard during night. Ground covered with fine snow. Weather mild. Paraded at cookhouse 7am. Mended fire and told orderlies to bring 2 and 1 [   ]. Direct to cookhouse. Brekker:- sausage and bacon. After brekker, cleaned pans, washed tables, swilled floor, cleaned [knives?], fetched 3 potatoes from No. 1, told orderlies to parade with 3 [carts?]. Rotten fatigue. Jolly hard work. Place smells of meat and pudding. Gave me 2 fine chops for dinner. After dinner, emptied and cleaned copper, fetched 6 buckets of coal. 3.15-4.30 off. Beat Benson at chess. 4.30 offered and made condensed milk in a bucket, fetched orderlies, helped to make tea, finished 5.10. Apples for tea, bought sardines. Birthday cake cut, very good [   ]. Beat Forster 3-1 at chess.

Saturday 23rd January 1915

Route march 9-2.30pm. [    ] over Roper’s Hill, Ringinglow, over moors, down to town past Drill Hall to Norfolk Park, back to [   ], Midland Station, [   ], to Grand Hotel and back to Redmires. Band played very well, saw [   ] nicely.

After dinner peeled potatoes and cabbage for Sunday. [   ] cookhouse. Had to wait 25 minutes for bus, ran and caught car, home 6.10pm. Percy there. Tea, chat; he had told Jarrard off. Sing-song in drawing room. Brought sweet cakes back. Arrived 9.25pm camp, found Jarrard told picket at 9 to [   ] till 10.15pm. Rush [   ]. Nearly all in.

Sunday 24th January 1915

Helped Howard to clear hut, chapel 10am, address by Rev. McNeal on “Personal sin and use of a friend:- Christ”. Old-fashioned, very good, men very attentive. Believed in personal devil. After, chat round fire on “predestination” and “clairvoyance”, some believed.

1.30-6.15pm, telephone orderly, relieving Copplestone who had engagement. Read magazines. Telephone used by Lieut. Woodhouse. Cosy by fire but monotonous. Had tea late, Townsend boiled me an egg, very nice. After tea, very tired, dozed on bed, other 5 in hut making sofa from mattresses round bed of Croft who was ill. Goodier in a swearing mood, got on my nerves a bit. 9.30 Lockwood arrived from town and said official news of naval victory over German raiding squadron.

Monday 25th January 1915

Rush for newspapers. Quite true. Blucher, 15000 tons, twelve 8.2 ins, 8 - 6 ins, guns and 880 men sunk in running fight by patrolling squadron under rear admiral Beatty, 2 armoured cruisers of 25000 tons escaping, seriously damaged in their mined areas.

Mess orderly. Camp inspection on Tuesday, Jones, Oldale, Lockwood and self detailed to clean hut in morning. Scrubbed floor on hands and knees, forms and tables, moving beds. Hard work, no rest from 9-12.35am.

Afternoon one of 6 on fatigue cleaning wash bowls with bathbrick. Finished 4.30, beat Jackman at chess. 6-9pm night operations, with pick and shovel on parade ground. Pick in left hand, in ground at sketch to trench line, spade sketch, interval 2 paces, for straight trenches. For traverses 2 deep, rear 3 form traverse sketch so. March back 4 paces, equipment off, back, start work.

Tuesday 26th January 1915

Clear, frosty day, tidied hut for inspection by Inspector General. 9-10.50 played chess, beat Foster 2-1. Drill,company, including echelon. In afternoon, 2-3, physical exercises under late drill instructor from King Edwards, Costello. Smart man. Bayonet drill 3.15-4.15. On guard, point and parry. Stand with feet as when walking forward, left shoulder to front, left foot forward, holding rifle firmly, left hand near lower band and not below or near magazine, rt hand at small pt of bayonet opposite left breast, rt elbow in front of rt hip, both arms away from body for freedom, barrel slightly inclined to left. Important shoot rifle out firmly bending left knee rt leg straight, whole wt of body behind. Parry by straightening left arm smartly in direction of point. Very good, rather gruesome.

Wednesday 27th January 1915

German official says we withdrew; peculiar the defeated rescuing 200 enemy. Lion oil supply tanks damaged and destroyed, towed to port. Soon repaired.

Morning worked in quarry, getting sandstone for roads. Ground thinly covered with snow. Fine snow fights during breaks.

Afternoon trench digging on Roper’s Hill; new type. 6 paces lth, 4 paces traverse, width of trench 18 ins, depth 3’6”.
Colonel came up. Dug trench within regulation time of 3 hrs.

Night march 6-9.10pm, over Roper’s Hill on way to Ringinglow. Near dams deployed to rt and extended to 2 paces, having supposedly come in contact with enemy. Foggy, snow made look near. Hot cocoa when returned.

Thursday 28th January 1915

9-11 no parade. Jackman transferred to 8 hut and replaced by L.Cl. Simpson and Curwen from No. 1. Jackman ill-tempered, animal, remainder cut him more or less, both sides glad for move. Rearrangement of places, Bardsley and self moved near store.

11-12.30 company drill, Capt Allen, very monotonous. Echelon formations cover long front and can change direction rapidly to meet cavalry.

2-5pm formed screen for trenches, practising sectional rushes, advances and retirement. Snow fight at break. Report slight skirmish with Turks near Egypt. Letter from Pater asking me to run over for hr to correct his accounts and explain pt he was puzzled over. Ran to Lodge Moor, caught 5.20 bus, home 6.15pm, saw Pater, quickly explained pt re reclaimed tax. Tea, chat with Pater, caught 8.40 bus, snack, bed.

Friday 29th January 1915

Clear frosty day, occasional snow showers in morning.

9-9.30 drill under colonel, advancing in extended order with platoons kept together. Advanced from column after 2, 3, 4 platoons had deployed to rt to 50 paces, in line of platoons in fours at 50 paces. 1st section 1st section[sic] of each platoon extended to cover front as advanced. So whole platoon extended in 4 lines connected by files, reinforcing 1st line.

9.30-12am shooting and rifle exercises. 25 yds, 71/100 S.M.R.C. decimal target.

Afternoon trenching. Made parapet at back of trench to stop back effect of shrapnel.

Paid 7/- at 4.30. E Company marched up for uniform, about 160 strong, inspected trenches.

7-9.30 artistic concert in Y.M.C.A. by elecutionists, Jessie Skidmore. Beautiful violin solos from “Il Trovatore”, Shakespeare, “Lord J Talbot and Son”. Humouresque “If I durst but a dursnt”.

Saturday 30th January 1915

Beautiful morning, sky downy white and pale blue. Battalion Route march under Major Clough down Wyming Brook Rd, Moors, Wyming Brook Rd. Warm, little snow still on ground, no coats. Washed up, Townsend obliged, and Copplestone. Potatoes and ran 1.30 for bus. Hillsborough 2.50pm, saw Wednes beat Wolves 2-0. Good game, class tells. 25,000 present. About 30,000 at Bramall Lane. Robertson and Glennon scored beautiful goals 1st half. McLean absent. Saw J. Price. Home. Enjoyed little music, chat with Pater and Mater. On Wkend pass, went to Lyceum with Tom 7.30-10.30, to see Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. Children’s piece, delicious, 1st rate piece of work. Peter Pan and Wennie[sic] and 2 brothers flew wonderfully thro’ air. Germans would have enjoyed it. The Pirates bold were just like children conceive them. Childhood is sweeter than manhood. They play at soldiers, we murder. 8th week at Redmires completed.

Sunday 31st January 1915

Slept soundly and well until 12.10am. In afternoon had hot bath. Told Tom to bring Douglas to tea but didn’t see him at Sunday School.

Chapel, Rev. B. Arnfield preached on shortcomings as illustrated by politicians whose policy was “a bed shorter than he could stretch himself on and the net shorter than that he could wrap himself up in[“]. Good sermon.

Straight from Chapel arrived in camp 9.10pm. News of German submarine U21 enterprise, sinking 3 merchant ships in Irish Sea. Also sunk two off French coast without warning crews, poor sportsmen. Only small vessels. Couldn’t catch those which ran.

PointerNext instalment

Permission to publish this transcript of Alphaeus Casey's diary is by kind permission of Jacky Hodgson and the University of Sheffield Library.

Top | Sheffield City Battalion | Site Map