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Soldiers of the Regiment

Diary - First World War

Lance Corporal Robert Higginson, 1st/5th Battalion, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.


Diary of Lance Corporal Robert Higginson of the 1/5th King’s Own (extracts)
Robert Higginson worked as a clerk in the Lancaster office of the London and North Western Railway.  He joined the 5th Battalion of the King's Own in September 1914 as one of the 'Gallant 200' Lancastrians who enlisted as a result of an appeal for volunteers to replace men who were too old or unfit for overseas service.  His number was 2125.  He went overseas with the rest of the 1st/5th Battalion on 14th February 1915.  

Robert Higginson was later commissioned on 2nd August 1915 and joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He was killed in action on 15th August 1916.

Errors have been left unaltered.

Sunday 14th February 1915
Left Southampton 7.0 pm - arrived Harve 7.0 am 15 February 1915. Berthed 12.30 pm - cattle boat - sleeping accomadation rotten.
Was rather sea sick. Twelve in a tent at Harve. Very heavy rain, slept fairly well in cloths with two blankets. Long march, left Harve 1.0 am Tuesday, 4 miles to station wet through, entrained 3.0 am. Cattle trucks 40 to 45 in each, long wait before leaving, train crawled along and only reached Cassel 7.0 am Thursday (24 hours). Horrible journey, Marched a hard 7 miles to Winniyeele. Billited with about 150 in a barn, absolutely awful.

Saturday 20th February 1915
Very hard march then digging trenches. Completely exhausted.

Sunday 21st February 1915
Marched out and trench digging 8.30 am to 5.0 pm

Monday 22nd February 1915
Inspection by General Smith Dorrein, scattering for artillery [fire] through fields (ploughed) filthy farms, dykes, fences etc. Very wet and slutchy.

Tuesday 23rd February 1915
Digging and marching.

Wednesday 24th February 1915
10 miles route march in snow. Off from 1.0 pm.

Thursday 24th February 1915
No parade till 4.0 pm then rifle etc inspection.

Saturday 27th February 1915
Short route march till noon.

Sunday 28th February 1915
Occupied dummy trenches 4.0 pm till 9.30pm at Steenvotre.

Monday 1st March 1915
Fingers nearly numb.

Tuesday 2nd March 1915
To Bailenl 9.15 am to 10.30am in London Buses. Pleasant though rough ride, 60 of us in small class room of school.

Saturday 6th March 1915
Had cloths washed along with Teddy Hannam and bath.

Sunday 7th March 1915
Left Bailenl 1.45 pm, marched 5 miles to farm: where slept, leaving Monday 5.50pm- Battery just on hill to left thence to Messiers 1½, about a mile under fire, simply terrible - ditches dykes, rafts etc to cross through. 24 hours inside - 4 aeroplanes shelled over trenches, shrapnel dropping about our trenches. Bitterly cold, especially feet.

Tuesday 9th March 1915
Out 9.0 pm marched 3 miles to Newiylease which village had been shelled heavily. Slept in empty house on floor from 12.0 night to 5.30 then marched 4 miles to St John Capppel where rested from Wednesday 11.0 to 1.0 pm Thursday 11 March 1915, then left for huts. Right foot very bad. Slept 2 nights in the huts.

Sunday 14th March 1915
left for trenches. Kept as supports in barn (pack horse farm) along with 2nd Kings Own, on Sunday working in dug outs 9.30 am to 5 pm. Terrific artillery fire alnight - could not have Sunday night in consequence of heavy fire rather sick on Monday. Acting supports Saturday night to Tuesday 6.30pm. Expected farm being shelled anytime. In firing line trench at Wulvevham Tuesday night to Wednesday. Awful smells - dead Frenchman’s body etc. Listening Patrol man killed. Long way to get from trenches under heavy fire and completely exhausted. Marched 4 or 5 miles to Draxoutre to rest in barn. Left 7.30pm Friday for Wulveryhem where acted as supports till Saturday night. Took rations, Timber, and Boxes to firing line - out in snow till about 2.0 am. In firing line (350 yards) Saturday night to Sunday night, Mac ill and didn’t go. Shelled fairly heavy but no Casul’ts. Transferred to trenches across road which were peculiarily situated and very low ones.

Monday 15th March 1915
Monday out beyond trenches digging and filling sand bags. Brought in owing to heavy fire. Was sent out for water very wet and undisable and long way getting particuliarly lost on return journey.

Sunday 21st March 1915
Sunday night on Listening Patrol for a few hours. E.T.H. and Watkin Rundall wounded Tuesday 23 March 1915. Shelled pretty heavily night and morning and again 4.0 pm. German artillery very heavy all day.
On Listening Patrol 3.30 am Monday morning. Left trenches 11.0pm Tuesday 24th March 1915 marched about 10 miles in deluge of rain, rested in road covered with water, enroute - arriving destination (farm near Baillenl) 4.0 am, drenched through. Left 4.15pm Thursday, marched in all 14 miles, dug in trenches about 4 miles beyond Dranoutre: Back 1.0am, being fagged out.

Saturday 27th March 1915
Left rest farm 4.30 pm Saturday at Souvenir Farm beyond firing line, 9.0 pm Saturday till Sunday night. On guard all night and next day.

Sunday 28th March 1915
Wolverham shelled Sunday after-noon dropping 40 to 120 yards away from farm.

Wednesday 31st March 1915
In dug outs as supports Sunday to Wednesday. Very cold.

Thursday 1st April 1915
Rested Thursday on Farm.

Good Friday 2nd April 1915
Service along with Y.L.I. in field. Left farm 3.0pm marched 7 miles to Berthen where rested on farm till Sunday 9 April. Slept over Pigs smell quite off.

Tuesday 6thApril 1915
Marched to Westoute for bath but didn’t get them.

Wednesday 7th April 1915
Inspected by General Smith Dorrein and Plumer near Bouchoute.

Thursday 8th April 1915
Saw Captain Clough at latter place. 11 or 12 miles march to Ypres where arrived about 12.45 pm, Friday 9 April. Billeted in large school. Bert Mac and I slept well in entrance hall on stone floor. Left 7.30pm Monday for trenches 8 miles march to firing line.

Monday 12th April 1915
On listening patrol Monday night 4.0am.

Tuesday 13th April 1915
Shelled heavily:- got burried with sand bags and woodwork but was no worse.

Wednesday 14th April 1915
Wednesday shelled morning and after-noon. 2 machine gunners shot dead in our traverse. A Co. lost 20 men in supports shelled whilst out of same falling trees etc.

Thursday 15th April 1915
Again shelled (wizz bangs) in same two places. Trench smashed completely in. Got covered again, but no worse of self.

Friday 16th April 1915
Had to stand by all night expecting an attack, but no attack made. Blackhurst and Elliott killed. Lilley, Jackson, Bowers and Chapman wounded whilst water carrying, I got fired on repeatedly by German snipers in part of communication trench. Came out Friday night 16th April. Thankful to get out of trenches which were very bad, previously being occupied all winter by the Germans.
Very dark night impossible to see scarsely a yard in front. Horrible tramp through long forest stretcher bearers being infront, got in dug-outs at last, same being laid out artistically in a wood.

Saturday 17th April 1915
Left Saturday night (Hill 60 great attack coming off) (part of which trench we had just vacated) 9.45 pm arriving Ypres 1.0am Sunday and not allowed out into the town, or elsewhere on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Town very heavily shelled last few days. Some shells dropping near our billet, (an Asylum) large number of soldiers killed also civillians on Monday by same. 100 Leicsters wounded. Got new drob jacket 19th April.

Wednesday 21st April 1915
All civilians given 24 hours notice to leave Ypres again. Left our billet 3.0am Wednesday on account of heavy and continuous bombardment by enemy. Had to dig our selves in out-side the town.

Thursday 22nd April 1915
Left 11.30pm dug out, having to dig our selves in, a mile away at about 4.0 am, and then again a time or two, eventually took position, and on Saturday was in charge on German trenches about 1.0 or 2.0 pm which was simply terrible. Lost heavily and had to pick up wounded. Artillery fire Day and Night tremendous.

Monday 26th April 1915
Left 1.30am Monday dug ourselves in again a little further away. Heavy fighting 1.30pm left about 2.0 Tuesday 27th May and moved forward coming under horrible shell fire, which lasted 3 or 4 hours terriffically - several killed J. Gardner etc only 20 yards from Bert Mac and Self. In Dug-outs till Wednesday night 28th April. Left for Wooden Huts a mile or more away behind Ypres. Band played Friday evening.

Sunday 2nd May 1915
Sunday out to dug-outs situated where ground was given according to arrangements. On hill and our company entrenched there to hold same. (Bert away at Popeninghe). Terriffic shelling by enemy all day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and very heavy casults (over 200). Lieutenant Gardner killed Wednesday. Left for Wooden Huts (2nd KO) releiving us full strength. Stayed there till Friday. Had rifle smashed by shrapnel on Tuesday.

Wednesday 5th May 1915
On Wednesday shell came through Dug-out, and I got properly berried, but unhurt. 3 men wounded. Mac and I carried wounded man down do dressing station, Wednesday evening in daylight.

Friday 7th May 1915
Left again Friday 7th May to releive Y.L.I. dug-outs. At night dug trenches behind new line of trenches to which 3 miles march. Back 4.0 am but had to move off about 10.0 am to man line of resistance trenches before Ypres. Murderous shell fire all the way up, Germans having broken our lines. “Jack Johnson” fell on portion of Dug-outs- Bert being amongst those buried, but was got out and had few days rest at Poperinghe. In afternoon we went up in the attack lasting till night. I fell heavily in shell hole whilst running at top speed (under rifle and shell fire) and sprained left ankle. Mac bandaged same and sometime later got assistance down to “White Chateau” by W. Yare, from there getting in a bus to Temporary Dressing Station Ypres. Then to Poperinghe since 7.0am to Tuesday in a field. Then to Haxlbroack by bus where stayed in tents until Tuesday Midnight when left by train for Le Tre Port where arrived 6.0pm Wednesday 12th may. No. 3 General Hospital (71 Ward).

Sunday 16th May 1915
Had quantity of Blood taken from right arm for Canadian tommy (Perkins P.P.C.) leg amputated 3.30pm to 6.30pm. Painful Process.

Wednesday 19th May 1915
Left Le Tre Port Wednesday 19th May 5.0am to 8.0am arrived Le Harve 7.15pm, left about 11.0 pm, arrived Southampton 10.0 am Thursday 20th May. Northern Hospital, Liverpool. 11.0 pm Thursday 20 May, Varigus Vain operation Wednesday 2nd June. Discharged 16th July Fizackerly Hospital.


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