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August 1917

They were just outside Nieuport, and by Jove we knew it! We hadn’t been there half an hour before one chap was war wounded. I thought Ypres was bad but Nieuport beats it. It’s the hottest place I’ve been in. The chaps used to say any port in a storm, but B- this port.

Site of the ruined village of Thiepval, 30 June 1917. Copyright: © IWM.

We could only work at night and then we couldn’t do above half an hour’s work, for he shelled us heavy every night. One night we were lucky to get back alive. He shelled us all the way home. The worst part was we had five bridges to pass over and he shelled them day and night. RE were always repairing them.

After a fortnight in the trenches we were put on repairing bridges, well my section clicked. We had nine bridges to look after, but they were at the rear of Nieuport. And we only had two bridges hit, but they were long jobs for they were stone bridges.

He planted two 12-inch shells on one bridge leaving about 18 inches of road to walk on, but we repaired it and made a good job of it. Well old Fritz found out where we were billeted and he let us have it. He gave us gas shells every night, and bashed in one of our own dug outs. Half the Coy got gassed. I had a good mouth full of it too. Talk about excitement.

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