Diary of 305 Private AW FINDLAY

Date of enlistment 17th May 1915
Age at enlistment 22
Profession Farmer
Town Leitchville
Status Single
Rank at enlistment Private
Company A Company
Significant events while with the AIF Sailed with the Battalion on the HMAT A38 Ulysses

Served in Gallipoli, Egypt and France

Wounded in Action – Pozieres, 5th August 1916

Discharged 8th June 1917

Private Findlay’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 Private Findlay while serving with the 22nd Battalion in France until the time of his wounding in action at Pozieres. The originals are stored in the Australian War Memorial research centre in Canberra, and acknowledgement goes to the family of Private Findlay and the AWM enabling the subsequent publishing within this commemorative project.

France

8th April 1916: The Germans are heavily shelling our billets at Fleurbaix.

27th April 1916: At 2200 Germans heavily shelled our line. Heavy casualties along the line

29th April 1916: Germans gassed our left at Armentieres, we are provided with shrapnel proof helmets, weeping gas goggles and new respirators#

1st June 1916: Inspection by PM Hughes and Fisher, and Gen Birdwood

6th June 1916: Australians raided three trenches, killed about 60 Germans, taking 3 prisoners

23rd June 1916: German active with artillery, bombs, machine guns, we had casualties

25th June 1916: Heavy German artillery. A great number of our chaps go away with shell shock. This is the fifth day of bombardment which has practically been continual. Trench raid arranged for the night

29th June 1916: Three hundred of the Brigade are raiding at night, the largest to date. At 2400 the artillery opened up, and the Germans replied smashing the parapets. Our raiding party rushed the trenches with full vigour and the slaughter commenced, covered with blood and blackened faces the raiders return under heavy fire leaving the German trench with every German killed, their brains knocked out. The result was 100 Germans killed also two officers and we took six prisoners. Our casualties were eight killed and 17 wounded.

The 22nd Battalion have suffered the heaviest bombardment of any Australian Battalion; it has been 10 days and nights of bombardment

7th July 1916: Arrival of the 9th Reinforcement

26th July 1916: At 1800 we left the brick kilns for the firing lines eight miles. The Huns heavily shelled us heavily going in, it was an awful sight, dead men laying everywhere, we dug in, but the Hun blew us out of it, for three days we were digging and carrying our chaps out, the 7th Brigade and half of our Brigade charged on the 28th. Our Bgde reached their objective but the 7th retired we are cut to pieces, hardly any men left, hanging on to our positions, our nerves are all gone, for we have had no sleep

29th July 1916: We had to leave for the support line and retire for we are cut to pieces, the boys, what is left of them are done, I am played out, and we did what we set out to do, so we are now having a rest behind the lines. We have over a 1000 guns here, the din and row is awful, I shall be glad to get out of it

31st July 1916: We received reinforcements to build us up a bit. The smell and dead men about is awful for we cannot bury them

3rd August 1916: We went into no-man’s land and dug a shelter trench to attack from. Fritz heavily shelled us, we had a few casualties, it was very hard work for we had to complete it, it meant working hard all night, so by the time we finish we are completely knocked out.

4th August 1916: We had a few fours spell, and then had to assemble for the attack tonight. At 1800 we move up to attack but the Germans had a barrage of fire around us, we suffered heavy casualties and were held up, but at 2115 we rushed to attack. We got safely to the first line driving the Hun out then our artillery lifted to their 2nd line, a few minutes later we rushed the second line, but our men were falling fast, for Fritz maintained a heavy artillery and machine gun fire. Eventually we reached the 2nd line, so after a few minutes of hand to hand fighting we cleared the line of them, capturing many prisoners, our artillery then put a barrage of fire around us, and then we dug in. Fritz counter attacked three times but our lads would not leave

5th August 1916: At 0400 one of our own shells hit me in the jaw [Pte Findlay was evacuated wounded to England before returning to Australia and discharged in June 1917]

 

Published as ‘news’ 100 years on to the day, follow the 22nd Battalion on the project website and via Facebook and Twitter

poppy-2       FIRST WORLD WAR TIMELINE       poppy-2

1914          1915          1916          1917          1918          1919