The Western Front

The Life and Death of a British Officer

Captain Oswald Eric Wreford Brown

Page 8 - Page 9 - In the trenches

We got up safely in spite of bullets whizzing round from two sides. We did not use the communication trench as it is used by people carrying up rations, sandbags, supplies, etc. 2 men were hit in the 2 days while going to and fro (we go up in the open) .

Page 10 - Page 11 - Ypres is an inferno

We breakfasted at 7am and I spent most of the morning cleaning myself (incidentally I lost my shaving brush and shall need one sent to me immediately). In the evening we were inspected by General Allenby. We are told that we are to go back from where we came from and take over the line of trenches held by the 1st Battalion, so we are not yet for Ypres, which is fine as the place is an absolute inferno - we hear that the line last night was held successfully, though our losses were fairly heavy from our Brigade.


Page 12 - In reserve

We are back behind our Brigade in reserve. It is a lot more peaceful though I am told  we may expect an attack at midnight and our men had to hurry up rations etc. for the trenches, owing to bad management we did not get away until 6am this morning; in addition their loads were so big it was a physical impossibility to get them through the trench. Our QM should be throttled for this.

Page 13 - Page 14 - Opinions on staff officers

I am strongly of the opinion that all young staff officers should be given a taste of trench work, a week on end would be excellent; they would make real efforts to do their work properly once they had lived with the men and seen what they had to undergo. There are far too many bad errors by staff e.g. food coming up late, bad arrangements of water, etc.

Page 15 - Conscription

I attach the greatest importance to physical fitness. To my mind that is really all that is necessary for this business. No young man working at home in any capacity at all except ammunition etc. can said to be equivalent or any where near  to the men doing their job out here. So you must work for conscription.