1st March 1916 Wednesday

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The 14th Welsh were relieved by the 9th Cheshires.

Contrary to modern thinking Douglas is about to tell us how on this day in 1916 smoking was about saving lives.

“We had quite a lively time going out, as the Hun machine guns were very active. My guide got a bullet through his pack and smashed up a tin of tobacco in it. This deflected the bullet and saved his life. It took us fully four hours to get back to Locon as the roads were in a terrible state of mud and it was a pitch dark night.

The battalion remained in Locon until March 7th and I got a billet in a cottage, not very comfortable, but better than a dug-out in the trenches.

My days were occupied with sick-parades and training of stretcher-bearers and visits to the ambulance at Mesplaux, &c. Bathing parades were held at the Divisional Baths with laundry attached. I had to be present at these parades to inspect all the men for skin diseases &c. They all got a good hot bath and new underclothing and socks.

Then one night the 14th Welsh Concert Party gave a very good show in the factory at Locon to a crowded house including the divisional General Ivor Philipps. It was an excellent concert greatly enjoyed by all.”

Major General Ivor Philipps MP KCB DSO

Major General Ivor Philipps MP KCB DSO

Major General Sir Ivor Philipps 1861-1940

At the time of the concert Brigadier General Ivor Philipps was in command of the 38th (Welsh Division). Already having had a distinguished career in the British Indian Army, Philipps had retired from the army in 1903 and had joined the Pembrokeshire Yeomanry as a reservist and as Commander from 1908-12.

At the outbreak of war in 1914 he was initially behind a desk at the War Office, but by November he was promoted to Brigadier General and given command of the 115th brigade attached to the 38th Welsh. In January 1916 he assumed command of the entire 38th (Welsh) Division, bringing them to the Western Front. Returning to London for a short period to take up ministerial duties, he returned to the front to lead the 38th Welsh into battle on the first day of the Somme on July 7th 1916.


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