Diary of 2669 Lance-Corporal LW Henderson

Date of enlistment 13th July 1915
Age at enlistment 27 years
Profession Railway Fireman
Town Colac
Status Single
Rank at enlistment Private
Unit  AIF 7th Battalion
Significant events while with the AIF Sailed on A38 Ulysses with the 6th Reinforcements

Served in Egypt, France and Belgium

Transferred to 7th Battalion

Wounded in Action twice, 30th June 1916 and at Broodseinde on 4th October 1917

Appointed Lance-Corporal

Returned to Australia 24th January 1918 following severe gunshot wound to head

Henderson - DA11810.JPGLance Corporal Henderson’s  full WW1 service record can be located in the National Archives of Australia. Full details are available online, NAA Series B2455

The following extracts are taken from the diary of 2669 Lance Corporal Henderson while serving in Egypt, France and Belgium. The original is stored in the State Library of Victoria and acknowledgement goes to the family of Lance Corporal Henderson and the SLV enabling the subsequent publishing within this commemorative project.

 

Egypt

1st January 1916: Visit to the Citadel in Cairo. Explanation cannot convey the splendour of this place, it requires personal inspection

22nd February 1916: Company split up; I am now in the 7th Battalion, 2nd Brigade as far as I know

France

29th April 1916: Preparing to move to Fleurbaix into reserves, we were issued with steel helmets and moved off at 8pm, we passed ammunition wagons on the road, star shells going up all the time and lighting the place. We marched through village streets, houses with windows shattered and walls and roofs with holes in them; we arrived at our destination at 10.15pm, not far from the firing line, trenches and barbed wire entanglements just outside

5th May 1916: The Germans attacked at 7.30pm and our artillery opened fire from all over the place and there was a din of a battle for 2 hours

12th May 1916: Shifted from our billets to the firing line at 2pm, when we got halfway up Fritz started shelling us and knocking dirt on us, all but the last section got up straight away but shrapnel was being put over and they had to take cover

29th June 1916: It is marvellous the quantity of metal that flies about without hitting anyone, a shell skimmed the parapet and landed a few yards from a chap but didn’t hit him, but he went out of the line with shock.

30th June 1916: Fritz started to bombard our trenches hot and strong from about 9 to 10.30 last night; I got a piece of shrapnel in my knee about 9.15pm

Belgium

20th September 1917: Hopped over the top just after daybreak, was shelled for a while beforehand our barrage opened up and was like hell let loose, it chewed up everything as it went, we followed it and found Fritz’s concrete machine gun emplacement chopped about, we took some prisoners at the first line our men were too anxious and had to retire out of our own barrage; we reformed and followed the barrage across a vacant piece of ground and then came  on a strong line of concrete strongholds of machine guns, we were held up for a while till the heavy artillery played on them for about half an hour, when it lifted, they were rushed, the Fritzers came rushing out with white flags and hands up (they shoot at you till the last minute then put up the white flag and were glad to be made prisoners. Three of our fellow went into the wood in front through our own barrage and brought back about 50 prisoners; Fritz rushed up reinforcements, but our artillery got on to them while forming up and finished reinforcements. Our platoon officer and 4 men killed also 2 others wounded by one of our own shells which landed short

21st September 1917: Some Fritzers taking machine guns from in front of our line to safety, the machine guns were carried like stretchers and a ground sheet thrown over them and conveyed by men wearing Red Cross badges, also carrying a Red Cross flag

4th October 1917: As there was a likelihood of being shelled before our hop over time, which was booked for 4am, 3 of us deepened a shell hole with small shovels, this very likely saved us from sharing the fate of many others which hadn’t dug themselves further in. Fritz must have anticipated as he got his barrage first and killed many where they lay in waiting. On the red flare, we all started moving forward and when I got through some mangled barb wire, I remembered nothing further till I woke up head first in a shell hole

 

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