About Bolton


Topics + People

Townships + Places



Terms + Disclaimer

James Hall - A First World War Diary

Staff Sergeant James Hall, of the Royal Horse Artillery, kept a small pencil written diary of his experiences during the First World War. The diary starts in March 1915 and the last legible entry is June 1917.

His main role, as an engineer, was to keep the ‘big guns' in operation. He fought at the Dardanelles and was, in his words, "hit with a bullet in the left forearm which I had just dropped down at that second and saved me from a fatal wound in the stomach". He was sent to Limnos to convalesce and then was back in action. Following the evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula he thought he would be going home but was sent to the Somme.

He was mentioned in Dispatches ‘for gallant and distinguished services in the Field' and eventually returned safely to his home, in Vernon Street Farnworth, to his wife Teresa, and son Jack. He had 6 more children, Dorothy, Mary, Bob, Ann, Jimmy and Margaret. James died on 27th July 1952 and is buried in Farnworth cemetery. Many of his descendants live in the Farnworth and Bolton area.

The diary is faint, worn and difficult to read, and these are some of the entries in it, along with some family photos and documents.

The First World War Diary of James Hall

James Hall, from Farnworth, was born in June 1889 and died in July 1952. Before he enlisted, he was a fitter at the Clifton and Kearsley Coal Company's Trencherbone Pit. His diary has been written up by Bernadette Tither. These are some of the extracts.

March 26 1915

French gunboat "Paris" was anchored alongside and greeted us with the band playing "Tipperary". Harbour full of men-of-war. Malta was the most lovely spot, clean and white. Flowers growing everywhere, of such deep colouring that all the place is a riot of bloom.

April 25 1915

Left Limnos for Gallipoli peninsula. Received orders not to speak to a Turkish woman except through her menfolk. If having cause to go to a house, knock hard to give the woman time to veil. Not to defile their shrines and temples and to hold all personal property sacred, unless ordered to commandeer.

May 1 1915

Last night terrible. Infantry forced to give way through the French giving way. We had to dig trenches along guns and man them with only 50 rounds per man under terrible machine gun and rifle fire. Several men hit and one Sgt. killed in space of five minutes but when day broke just as we were fagged out, we opened fire with our guns 4.30am to 6.00am at gun fire. Guns red hot but kept up a steady fire until 7.00am. We have slaughtered thousands.

May 9 1915, Gallipoli

Have gone through a lifetime during the past few days. It was simply murderous.

May 10 1915

Lost my best friend, Sergeant Barford, who was killed just as we were talking together about a job we had just completed on one of the guns.

February 9 1916

4 days leave. Arrived at Cairo 2 am. Put up at Hotel Des Vougithu for the night. 10am took car to Pyramid. Rode on camel to Pyramids and Sphinx. Had photo taken on camel in front of Sphinx. Saw tombs and temples and back by gharry to Zoological Gardens - very fine.

March 18 1916

France. Left Marseilles, (after loading all night, horses and guns), at 9.00am for Abbeville, Calais and Paris line. 52 hours ran through the best of France. Stopped to water horses at Orange, a pleasant, pretty town. Stopped a short time later at Valenciennes, rather important and pretty.

June 26 1916

12.30am, large shell burst over my dugout. I heard a groan and rushed up with my torch and saw the officers hut smashed in. Went inside through debris and found our officer Mr. Drake lying in the bed, a piece of shell through left lung and heart, dead.

July 2 1916

The enemy position is so strong on our front that they have given up taking by frontal attack and trying to cut them off from the right. Most regiments lost 70% through the front line not being smashed.

August 4 1916

Prince of Wales round our quarter with the guards. Passed him riding a bike up a hill from Loussencourt, sweating like a bull.

August 29 1916

Gassed for six hours with gas and tear shells.

September 13 1916

Arrived at Le Havre in hospital at the Casino No2 General Hospital. Heart rending to pass hospital boats.

April 8 1917

Easter Sunday. Trekking through St Pol 2pm, no cigarettes, no grub, saddle weary and fed up.

May 17 1917

Passing through Bethune this evening met J Prendergast , and have a stroll (delighted). Later got into action behind Givenchy alongside canal. An inhabited village on the other bank of the canal and an open cafe 200 yards lower down - brave people.

There are 178 entries in the diary, detailing his travels, miraculous escapes, and the hell of war.

Patrick Gariepy is a member of the Gallipoli Association, and is compiling a biographical register of all 42,000+ British and Dominion servicemen who died at, and as a result of, the Gallipoli Campaign during World War One. Patrick has been in touch with Bernadette Tither who is the granddaughter of James Hall and has sent this updated diary.

sei/s/1397/f37.pdf Diary of James Hall

Patrick also says: "So far I have also proven 18 Gallipoli deaths and 2 burials to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The Gallipoli Association routinely forwards questions relating to casualties to me.

I am also writing a book about the campaign, but it will have a twist to it. It's a survey of the campaign - which has been done - but it will be tied together with firsthand accounts about men who died there (or as a result of their service there) - which has not been done. I am drawing these accounts from personal and unit war diaries, letters, missing in action reports, newspapers, family lore, etc. Essentially, I am trying to get the point across that, before these men were soldiers, sailors and marines, they were people, and they were all missed by someone."


James Hall and family
James Hall and family
On leave in Cairo

On leave in Cairo

Group photo with comrades
Group photo with comrades
James with his son
James with his son