The War Diary of Mervyn Crawshay

Tues 8 Sep. 1914

Marched before dawn 2.30a.m. A is leading squadron. Came through French army in town. Tiger advance troop.

Uhlans quite close but cannot be sure if they are English, till C. Squadron is fired on from a village.

Then on ridge above Sablonieres I saw the German Brigade and reported it, but the village was considered to be weakly held and I get orders to take it.

Just then a B. squadron man comes in saying he was the only man left out of Joe Nettlefolds troop, they ran mounted into an ambush.

We get down to road without loss by taking cover, lined road, and pinned Germans opposite.

Partridge and Norwood killed, Martin and J. Nettlefold wounded.

1st troop gets on ahead.

A. squadron finds only one machine gun and guns in village, follow right up to Monvilliers.

Get glasses and flag from German wounded officer.

It comes on very wet, went to a farm on a hill and managed to get good dinner.

Pouring rain.

A. squadron the first troops in Monvilliers.

Wed 9 Sep. 1914

Started at 2.30.a.m

Cross the Marne about 10.a.m.

Bays on hill shelled by own artillery which could not be stopped.

We saw a village attacked by our cavalry, then I am shoved on contact Squadron to go to Etre Pilly.
Meet Blackburn with a report of 1000 Germans in front of me, turns out to be a convoy. I get to 500x of it when our guns open into my back.

I jink into a hollow, then Tiger gets a place where he can see a X road, all sorts of Germans on bikes and in cars. We don’t attack, as its my job to get information. Brook goes off alone and never returns. Cpl. Kelly gets the information from the French which saves me.

Get into billets very tired in dark, thought we had lost the way. Sergeant Christian is guide.

Report to Briggs, sleep in hay and cold.

Thurs 10 Sep. 1914

A. squadron leading squadron over difficult county. Yellow Sally broke her neck over a bridge.

Found a battle going on near a village, can’t make out Germans from English.

Fired at from a bush and 2 German prisoners hunted out of it by French Lancers.

A great muddle.

Watson a gunner comes to reconnoitre with A. squadron which is sent to get close to our Infantry.

Come into very heavy shell fire at close range, Watson severely wounded.

Squadron gallops back on Brigade, 2 men wounded, 8 horses, some killed.

After to take a hill, X while going to find Winwood passed 11th Hussars by a tree. A shell fell within 5 yards of me on the pony, wounding Lockett amongst others.

Good billet in a valley, sleep in a bed.

X Saw a German cavalry Division going slowly across plain 2 miles off.

2 Battery could not get up in time.

We were shelled heavily and our gunners had to leave guns.

Friday 11 Sep. 1914

Marched by Oulchy, turned N.E.

8 German corps and 1 Division are operating here.

French have a reported success.

English army reported to have captured 7 guns, many machine guns and 1000 prisoners. Sat about under a culvert wet through, back to a village, dirty dishevelled and wet.

We fix up a fire and liberate a white goat.

Pankhurst goes sick with Pneumonia, am not surprised.

Sat 12 Sep. 1914

Advance, soon in contact with enemy.

Braine village is held. A. squadron into a wood on right of road and we eventually get into a castle and good long distance shooting from there into the backs of German infantry, they also get heavily shelled whenever they appear, dropping into turnips on all sides.

A. Squadron get to a farm “La Saulx Sadree”, by a covered way, thought all Germans had gone, when suddenly firing broke out and shortly after a party of 45 and 1 officer in close order appear on road.

Get Squadron from behind gate way on road, rapid fire, down they went, only a few shots back, which got Sergeant Christian.

Then closed into chateau again, get into cellars while our artillery fired over us.

Get Madeira, and after went forward for white flag, only 5 of us, which was rash. We found 20 unwounded men, 12 killed and wounded and the officer dying.

Fortunately the unwounded behind the rick were very frightened, I threatened them with sword and we fired revolvers, then formed them up and handed them to the Infantry, took their arms and broke them.

A good success for A. squadron. Saw Allenby just after it was over.

We went on a fools errand after some machine guns in wet. In evening in mud and rain, told there was a charge coming off, it did not.

All this was battle of Marne, from 6 Sept.

Billetted at Dhuisel, left helmet there. Pouring rain, rotten billet, uncivil inhabitant, have to threaten them.

Helmet left with: Mons Mathieux de Guart, Dhuisel, Aisne.

Sunday 13 Sep. 1914

Went up to where the Worcestershire Regiment was, then behind them. Then guns came into action by us, so we moved. Grossed the Aisne for the 1st time. See the Zouaves.

A great battle in full swing, hundreds of guns firing.

The Brigade twice ambles out into the middle of it, in apex of guns, and has to retire, shelled and useless.

I am responsible for the connection with French attacks, ride down to them in the village of V. close to Craonne, where Nap fought in 1814.

Find Brigade has suddenly shifted and that we have been beaten back, through Bourges many wounded coming in, including young Loyd of 60th Rifles who says Nat (my brother) with the 2nd Battalion got 12 German guns, and that Nat is unhurt.

I go on quietly after the Brigade, they have been thrown into a hole at Chavonne, where a counter attack was expected.

Our billets already full.

Mon 14 Sep. 1914

Action begun for heights on N. bank of Aisne. Fought all day, we finish by having gained some 2 miles of ground.

Get to Pagnan, saw French troops Zouaves.

We were brigaded all day, and occasionally, did a little ceremonial in the face of the enemy up by Tourde Paissy farm, right in the middle of crowds of guns.

I and Tiger were sent to keep communications with French, in a little village Varogne. While watching French rather vacillating attack, the Germans attacked all along the line, the Brigade is hurled to Chavonne to a critical point. I pursue and see big shell hitting gunners, also many stragglers get rather cold feet.

We awaited the counter attack which did not meet us, as we are in support. Then under covered line to Soupir Chateau.

Get in late, I am ordered to be the Squadron for night battle position. A very long night in open behind guards.

Fall down a bank.

Luckily we are not attacked we have no bayonets etc.


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