Read today's entry from Harry Gissing's 1914-18 war diaries

November  26, 1916

I start this new diary, the 3rd since enlistment under conditions perhaps the worst since war was known, i.e., the Somme Offensive.

Such tremendous efforts and concentration of the results of the greatest intellects of the age have never before been availed of for one purpose, and now ‘tis used for the destruction of humanity. Such a possibility in this enlightened age even was beyond the wildest of dreams, and yet we are now in the third year of this devastating, wholesale murder.

The enemy still oppose us in great strength altho’ slowly but surely our vast efforts are pushing him on; it would be deemed impossible for men to withstand such privations and conditions and still live and yet the men go willingly forward, guided by the unseen directing force which represents the might of England, intensified and directed into a channel for the destruction of Militaryism and to establish the right to live as applied to nations.

Before this will be done, however, great grief, pain and distress will be inflicted on countless numbers to a degree unknown before and I hope never will be known again. At present we are running an Advanced Dressing Station close up behind the line in a valley torn up by shells. So far the position has been safe, the enemy paying attention to adjacent positions. The wounded we have through are in a shocking state as a rule, soaked through with water and caked with mud.

‘Tis a wonder they can exist without contracting pneumonia, much less suffer their wounds. I am in charge of the station at night, coming on at 8.30 p.m. till 8.30 a.m. which suits me very well indeed. I sleep well during the day and am comfortable at night as I work alongside a good fire. It has one draw back, it prevents me from exploring the neighbourhood, a thing I rarely miss as a rule.


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