The War Diary of Mervyn Crawshay

13 Oct 1914

We are rejoiced to finish with Division Cavalry.

Pursued after the brigade a quick and rather arduous march, but found our supplies behind the French fighting line, to which we got quite near, including shells.

Get champagne by the road side. A battle in progress, we are reserve cavalry on a flank, infantry Division deploying when we arrived.

Mont Noir taken with 1000 German casualties, 200 of ours.

We billet on farm near Rochonville and dry after the downpour, which we sat in. Tiger and I sleep behind the firing line, close by enemy.

We get beds and are shown the lie of the land by the daughter of the house. The Brigade has had casualties but a better day than yesterday.

14 Oct 1914

Drenching rain, the forward movement proceeds. Don’t like papers, it looks like a huge siege boiling up.

Hear 6000 marines in Antwerp, 2000 into Holland

A squadron advance to Brigade.

Our operation the taking of Dranouches from Uhlans, who luckily run, as we entered village frontally.

Flemish here can’t speak much French over frontier, a different country.

15  Oct 1914

Get up early after a very good night in an empty house and it resolved itself into a rest day, only we did not know it.

Met 2 marines who gave the naval situation, chain of mines and submarines across channel.

2000 marines lost at Antwerp, had to go to Holland.

The new aeroplane motor guns to go back to Plymouth, everything points to a winter campaign, only one can’t tell.

The Kaiser should die today by prophecy

16 Oct 1914

Reserve brigade. We have off at 7.

I am with echelon A, tomorrow will be advance squadron of the Division if we go on.

Go to Leuve Eglise in a thick fog, pack and await events in a small cottage. Next door home is shut, the owner a workman shot against a wall by Germans last Sunday.

Two German army corps reported advancing from Bruges and by coast. We are as far forward as required, perhaps further.

17 Oct 1914

Start off as advance Brigade at 6 with orders this time to take the river line, to Ploughshot into a large wood. An extraordinary manoeuvre in middle of same, sit down later to firing and guns all round.

Machine guns ordered up, as Cousal sick, I take over and am amused therewith, tho’ get gunned and get no shooting.

A new haystack position, the Bays gun knocked out, the 11th in a beastly position right up by railway line behind a hedge opposite infantry entrenched, who had done it in night.

Lumly killed, various wounded. Our battery busy, some casualties.

See one of our aeroplanes working well, with lights etc.

Thought we were for very unpleasant job facing Germans.

All night we were spared, Lord knows what, by arrival of a lot of infantry and back under cover of darkness, followed by a parting salvo, to Drasoutre

18 Oct 1914

Reserve Brigade wander out at Dawn, and still do machine guns.

To a large wood and sit there all day, very little fighting but 60lb guns close to us make the day hideous.

A few shells fall, coal boxes ½ size but not close. After dark a trying march to a farm near Romeraines. There get champagne which was hidden from Germans

19 Oct 1914

In a new flea bag and very comfortable on a mattress.

Pulled out at 3 with an order to make a night march to St Yves arrive at dawn and report to O.C.4th D.Gs.

Succeed in finding my way there, farms are burning most of the day and coal boxes, but they don’t quite come our way.

A scare when I first arrived it looked like an attack, but was the Tins.

Rumour says things are not very bright. I guessed as much.

Expect we will dig in here.

5th DG m guns with Holland occupy the old advanced position which I considered a bad and untenable one.

Sleep in the Inn, shells all round and in the wood but not into us. Go round posts at night on a cycle.

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