9th Mar 1918: Enemy shelling intensifies along the front

Enemy shelling of the country immediately behind a considerable part of the British front began to noticeably increase. In the Australian Corps sector in Flanders this shelling fell mainly in the Douve Valley and in the battery areas which were bombarded with gas. Large Gotha planes also bombed Bailleul along with German long range guns shelling the town and the dumps and villages behind the lines. This intensity included the use of ‘minnies’ on the front line trenches, and at La Basse Ville, where the 22nd Battalion were holding the front line, 2nd Lieut. Robbins of the 5th/22nd having only just returned with his commission from the Officers Cadet Battalion in England, was killed in action along with three other ranks.

31st Mar 1917: HS Gloucester Castle torpedoed with loss of 3 lives

gloucestercastleThe Gloucester Castle was a steam ship requisitioned by the British for use as a hospital ship during the First World War, operating in the Mediterranean between Lemnos and Malta and taking the wounded back across the English Channel from the Western Front. On one such voyage from Le Havre to Southampton on 31st March 1917 when carrying 399 patients including 300 cot cases, she was torpedoed by German U-boat U-32 off the Isle of Wight. All the patients were evacuated by the attendant destroyers and other transports, but three unfortunately died during the transfer. Although badly damaged she was eventually towed into port.