The 1917 Wartime Diary of Private Samuel Henry Brown

Samuel Henry Brown

Samuel Henry Brown was born in Clinton, Ontario in 1891, the youngest child of John and Mary Ann Brown. He served in the militia as a young man and later enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War. Private Brown sailed overseas in October 1916 and would see action on the Western Front with the Canadian Machine Gun Corps. He fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917 and lost his life on August 20, 1917, after being seriously wounded during the Battle of Hill 70. Brown was 26 years old and is buried at the Étaples Military Cemetery in France.

Images of the diary entries are available on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.

January 1917

January 2, 1917 – 161 marched from Tilgate to Sandling camp

January 11, 1917 – I left by [illegible] to [illegible] m g [*machine gun] school

March 1917

March 11, 1917 – Drafted out 11 o’clock night by train.

March 12, 1917 – Sailed for France; stayed in rest camp night at Prolong [*Boulogne*].

March 13, 1917 – Went to base at Commers [sic], marched from estabs [sic] 5 miles.

April 1917

April 1, 1917 – I left the base from Commers [sic] for the line.

April 2, 1917 – Walked in 15 miles through rain and snow to montsaintalovre [*Mont St. Éloi*].

April 3, 1917 – Resting in billets in montsaintalovre [*Mont St. Éloi*].

April 4, 1917 – Resting in billets in montsaintalovre [*Mont St. Éloi*].

April 5, 1917 – Night up the line and back again [illegible] time to montsaintalovre [*Mont St. Éloi*].

April 6, 1917 (Good Friday) – Night up the line and back again to Mont.

April 7, 1917 – Resting in billets.

April 8, 1917 (Easter Sunday) – We went up the line to Vimy Ridge.

April 9, 1917 (Easter Monday) – We went over the top at Vimy Ridge.

April 10, 1917 – Reserve man in cave.

April 11, 1917 – Reserve in cave night; night went thought (with message [illegible]). [sic]

April 12, 1917 – Reserve man in capered cave.

April 13, 1917 – Same as above.

April 14, 1917 – Came back to billets at montsentalouvre [*Mont St. Éloi*].

April 15, 1917 – Pay and bath parade.

April 16, 1917 – Marched up line for reserve in [Neuville-Saint-Vaast].

April 17, 1917 – Still on reserve in [Neuville-Saint-Vaast].

April 18, 1917 – Still on reserve in [Neuville-Saint-Vaast].

April 19, 1917 – Still on reserve in [Neuville-Saint-Vaast].

April 20, 1917 – Still on reserve in [Neuville-Saint-Vaast].

April 21, 1917 – At six o’clock night went to RR in support.

April 22, 1917 – Under RR still in support, morning guard duty 11 to 6, night guard duty 10 to 12.

April 23, 1917 – Still in support under RR; went up to line for night and anti-aircraft.

April 24, 1917 – Still in support under RR; came back line morning before daylight; did guard duty from 2 to 4 afternoon.

April 25, 1917 – S,I,S under RR; in line for night. Snell got lost.

April 26, 1917 – Came back from line in morning, came back to horse line at midnight to [Neuville-Saint-Vaast] – most dead tired.

April 27, 1917 – Still at the horse lines; seen Will Snell near [Neuville-Saint-Vaast].

April 28, 1917 – Still at horse lines and pay parade.

April 29 – Still at horse lines and bath parade.

April 30, 1917 – Still at horse lines on training.

May 1917

May 2, 1917 – Come up for reserve at midnight under R Road [sic]; teach under R Road [sic] to dark; came forward to support and dug in, and now slept all night left of arlucks [*Arleux-en-Gohelle*].

May 3, 1917 – Still in support under heavy shell fire left of arlucks [*Arleux-en-Gohelle*].

May 4, 1917 – Still in support under heavy shell first left of arlucks [*Arleux-en-Gohelle*].

May 5, 1917 – Still in support under [illegible] fire; ten o’clock night near buried in front hope left [illegible].

May 6, 1917 – Still in support on Sankin [sic] road 100 yards rear of top [illegible].

May 7, 1917 – In support on [illegible] road till night, moved up forward all night, lost in no man’s land found ourselves at [illegible].

May 8, 1917 – [illegible] guns just behind front lines laying in funk holes, left of [illegible] of out Leense [Lenze].

May 9, 1917 – In deed dug out at Corrie [sic] for rest, just out of Leense [Lenze].

May 10, 1917 – On guard, just out of Leense [Lenze] at night back to Sungen [sic] road again left of arlucks [*Arleux-en-Gohelle*].

May 11, 1917 – Still on “Sungon [sic] road” list of left of arlucks [*Arleux-en-Gohelle*], Elf gone to hospital.

May 12, 1917 – Still on road left of arlucks [*Arleux-en-Gohelle*] on “aunty” (anti) aircraft.

May 13, 1917 – Still on road left of arlucks [*Arleux-en-Gohelle*].

May 14, 1917 – Still on road left of arlucks [*Arleux-en-Gohelle*] relieved at night.

May 15, 1917 – Out at horse lines, and pay parade.

May 16, 1917 – At horse lines, bath parade, anti-aircraft at 3 o’clock.

May 17, 1917 – At horse lines, bath parade, anti-aircraft at 3 o’clock.

May 18, 1917 – Still at horse lines.

May 19, 1917 – Still at horse lines; day up the line at night to Count’s Wood in reserve.

May 20, 1917 – Still in reserve in Count’s Wood.

May 21, 1917 – Still in reserve in Count’s Wood.

May 22, 1917 – Still in reserve in Count’s Wood.

May 23, 1917 – Still in reserve in Count’s Wood.

May 24, 1917 – Still in reserve in Count’s Wood.

May 25, 1917 – Still in reserve in Count’s Wood.

May 26, 1917 – Still in reserve in Count’s Wood; at night go up to supports.

May 27, 1917 – Up in support; some shelling at midnight.

May 28, 1917 – Still in support and anti-aircraft.

May 29, 1917 – Still in support and anti-aircraft.

May 30, 1917 – Still in support and anti-aircraft.

May 31, 1917 – Still in support and anti-aircraft.

June 1917

June 1, 1917 – Still in support and anti-aircraft.

June 2, 1917 – Still in support and anti-aircraft; relieved at midnight.

June 3, 1917 – Arrived at horse lines at 11 o’clock morning; walked 15 miles for a month’s rest.

June 4, 1917 – First day at rest camp at [illegible].

June 5, 1917 – Pay parade.

June 6, 1917 – Bath parade.

June 7, 1917 – In rest camp.

June 8, 1917 – In rest camp.

June 9, 1917 – In rest camp.

June 10, 1917 – In rest camp.

June 11, 1917 – In rest camp.

June 12, 1917 – In rest camp.

June 13, 1917 – In rest camp.

June 14, 1917 – In rest camp.

June 15, 1917 – In rest camp.

June 16, 1917 – In rest camp.

June 17, 1917 – Went to Barlin [sic] to see Draper [sic].

June 18, 1917 – Went to Barlin [sic] to see Draper [sic].

August 1917

August 10, 1917 – Party gassed while coming to the line; was caught with pants down.

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