Charles Venmore Hardman

11/10/1885 - 27/07/1978

 
 

 N.B. This is virtually a verbatim transcription of his pages and therefore contains most of his spelling/punctuation errors


My diary of army life from Wednesday April 7th 1915

By pte C V Hardman 19358 3rd Wiltshire Regt.


April 1915

War being declared by England against Germany. Placards asking men to serve their country, I felt is only my duty to enlist and do my bit. I therefore joined the above Rgt and left the Horse Guards parade for our depot on April 7th at 11 o'clock arrived at Devises at night very tired, was put in a receiving and there made a bed up on tresels, could not sleep thinking of my Dear Wife & Boys.

 

Friday 9th

Taken out for drill to learn left & right turn etc and correct salute.

 

Sat 10th

Same as above

 

Sunday 11th

Fatigue cleaning barrack square

 

Monday 12th

Off we go to our camp at Dorset arrived there @ 6/30

 

Tuesday 13th

Under canvas layed very cold no sleep always thinking of dear Wife & Boys

 

15th April

Out for Company drills etc received equipment

 

16th April

1 1/2 mile run before breakfast then hospital for inoculation made me feel bad little sleep

 

17th April

Nothing doing rest still effects of inoculation

 

18th April Sunday

Church parade

 

From 18th to 26th all drills but on the 26th I had a fight with a chap over rifle oil, beat him in 5 minutes, his pal started on me, fight stopped, but will have him later on.

 

27th April

Thick lip from fight and thumb put out

 

28th April

Alright drill again

 

29th ditto

 

From 29th till July 19th

All drill and route marches

 

20th July

Made Lance Corporal

 

Drills etc up till August the 9th and then I was made Acting Sergeant very quick promotion

Now had news we were for Dardanelles so got things ready and left Dorset on Monday August 23rd at 10/30 at night travelled by way of Exeter here we had a food lunch supplied by the Mayor & Mayoress of Exeter on we went and arrived at Devonport at 3 o'clock on

 

Wednesday 25th

Then went on Empress of Britain troopship and left for war about 6 o'clock at night

 

26th

Allright slept on deck

 

27th

Diaria bad

Sea calm

 

28th & 29th

Nothing to report

 

August 30th

Very much excitement on report of submarine but could see nothing

 

August 31st

Arrived at Malta 3o'clock not allowed to land looks pretty place, fine to see kiddies diving into water for coins, also heard our boat was reported sunk

 

September 1st

Had boxing mat this Dick Torode of Guernsey in final for middle weight lost

 

September 2nd

Submarine  chase us splendid excitement got clear

 

September 3rd

Arrived at Limas at 9 o'clock Hundreds of ships in harbour, just done ships watch with 100 men 12 o'clock

 

September 3rd

Taken off on another boat for firing line getting dark very dark no lights or smoking allowed, stopped men land, taken off in lighters very close to enemy

No one was to strike a light or speak or make a sound or it meant death to hundreds suspense being awful, rifles ready for dirty work, are the beach landing no sound tramp through sand storm cannot hardly see next man, at last rest and told to sleep for night slept well, awake wonder where am, all sudden Bang Bang Bang shells coming over in galore we are spotted dig ourselves in for our lives, none of my boys hit but plenty of others poor chaps, this continued all day on September 4th had some very near shaves men going down beside me I believe I shall have a charmed life (didn't he just!!)


 

September 5th

Orders to pack up off to join the 5th Batt, time 8 o'clock very dark we had a forced march of about 5 miles along beach & around to Suvla Bay it was a awful march in fact it was a double, no food to stop, no noise or lights or we should have the guns on us & were we was it was easy for them to kill the lot, this was reason for marching in the dark, 2of fellows fell out on this march, could not do it so of course I had to drop back with them and I can tell you the feelings was awful pitch dark and only 3 of us in a wilderness walking perhaps into the turks trenches to be slaughtered, didn’t I curse my mates, but they could not help it in fact they were ill, well we managed to find our company by their tracks in the sand they had pulled up for a rest and as soon as we arrived off we would go again, at last we came to our place of abode but could not see no one, so we all slept and in the morning September 6th we found we were with our men the 5th Wilts, poor devils they looked all barmy, I asked where the Turks lie, over there they said and as though the Turks heard me over came about a dozen shells oh cripes didn’t we duck, the shrapnel was falling thick around us & the cries of wounded was awful, I could not realise that this was war, I got rifle ready thinking to see Turks come over the hill but they were a mile away, then the guns in Suvla Bay on the battleships would bang away & our artillery and then them it was enough to send you mad what with and food, oh the food dog biscuits my teeth could not break & jam & bully beef, well as soon as you put jam on it was covered with flies & then the sand would blow on it and you can see how we enjoyed it I here about the jam to feel rotten to see the chaps ill & cooty diarea and disentry & the smell oh cripes I could not eat my food

 

September 1915

This is where Grandad's diary entries end. I assume it was around the time he was shot in the throat and evacuated back, (eventually), to Blighty

 

The following are his training Notes from the back of his notebook


Page 1

 

Squad on the word of command to one pace interval the left hand man stands fast the front rank will move to the right and raising his left hand till he touches the mans shoulder on the left, head and eyes turned to the left, on the words eyes front head turns smartly to front and left hand drops smartly to side ???? Rank 3 paces step back march, front rank about turn. Now ready for bayonet fighting, left ???? Stand at ease stand steady

 

Small Squad

 

Squad in pairs number 1.2.1.2.1.2 ???? Odd number in front rank 5 paces forward Even numbers in rear rank 5 paces step back ????? March, on the word of command ranks 1 & 3 about turn, Ranks  2&4 will take 1 pace to the right which will ???????????????

 

Page 2

 

Command on guard take a walking pace forward with the left foot, at the same time canting rifle forward, seize rifle with left hand between outer band and back sight & grasp butt firmly with right hand, magazine downward & outward keeping bayonet at height of mans throat, on command point thrust rifle out to full extent of both arms, throwing body well forward & left knee bent, withdraw rifle smartly back, bringing left arm in front of stomach still keeping firm grip with right hand, then come back to on guard position.



Grandad certainly was charmed, after the war he seems to have been among the few returning soldiers to have been given the leasehold to a smallholding in Bournemouth which he called ‘Suvla” and worked it with at least one of his sons, Burt.

Grandad and Burt were well known characters among the hotels of Bournemouth, grandad produced the fresh fruit and vegetables that Burt would sell to the hotels from his lorry in the morning. In the afternoon he would collect the hotels waste food that grandad would boil up in an old bath, mix it with feed and recycle to his pigs, happy days! Over time grandad collected a large amount of hotel cutlery that had accidentally been scrapped off plates into the waste bins! 


In the seventies grandads land was acquired to make way for a new round-a-bout and road scheme at the junction of Poole Lane and the A348


Below is an arial picture of the West Howe area of Bournemouth probably taken in the twenties showing Grandads smallholding and I think four others that were given to soldiers after WW1













In the sixties grandad had his own war..... with marauding foxes ravaging his chicken pens and slaughtering dozens of birds. Where he got the rifle from we don’t know but he certainly got his own back as this Bournemouth Echo picture shows.