Friday 16th June 1916: Trooper F W Ballard, Bedfordshire Yeomanry, writing to a friend this past week says: “for the past three weeks a part of our regiment has been doing trench work in a very hot part of the line, and this particular ridge has been mentioned in the daily papers for some considerable time now(1). You will be pleased to learn that several Southill boys are with this party, viz. C Lockey, Sid Hall and George Bean(2); this is a fine experience for all of us. We are billeted in a village, or rather the remains of one, as everything is in a terrible state of ruin, every building, including the church being in a battered condition. The Sunday night we came into the line the Boches attacked and got into our front trenches, but were driven out by the brigade bombers; we were told that Fritz sent no less than half a million shells over our lines in 4½ hours, so we evacuated our front line trench, as it was of no use. You can guess when they got in it was of no use to them.
The next two nights the laugh was on our side, our artillery bombarding their trenches all night long; since then things have been much quieter. Really it does not seem possible for humanity to life in such affairs as these, with so many spare pieces of iron flying about. We go up the line to work every night and we have been extremely fortunate up to the present, not having had a single casualty and we have been working on the top only from 80 to 200 yards from the enemy’s front line at times.
Source: Bedfordshire Standard 16th June 1916
(1) The war diary gives no mention of this but states that the Yeomanry were at Desvres, well behind the lines near Boulogne.
(2) 30882 Private George Bean, from Broom, would die on 8th December 1918 and is buried at Maubeuge (Sous-le-Bois) Cemetery