We Are All Flourishing The letters and diary of Cpt Walter JJ Coats MC 1914-1919
Capt. Walter JJ Coats
How was it that military tactics allowed for such relentless casualties?
There is little dwelling on the human cost of war and its futility; what we see here is an account of what had to be done and how one young man did it. Alexander McCall Smith pxi
1 Aug 1914 be in Glasgow
2 Aug 1914 prepare for mobilisation
3 Aug 1914 awaiting
4 Aug 1914 telegram to attend Battalion HQ at 4.00pm
5 Aug 1914 filling up forms: name, address, next of kin, whether married, no. of children, names, ages, etc:
All left lying about the drill hall when we left two days later.
£5 given per man for boots, razors etc:
Field Devices Pocket Book
Field Service Regulations Part I
16 August ‘We are all flourishing here’.
27 August 1914: Physical drill and running before breakfast, marching and fighting etc: from 9am ’til any time in the afternoon and a lecture for officers at night. Understudy for the machine gun officer so time learning its innards. Capt. Walter Jj Coats
Swimming. Game of cricket. Referee a football match. Capt. Walter JJ Coats
Some reading or billiards, bed and Reveille.
Does initiative stretch to staying out after hours then marching the men in past the sentry as a piquet. p31
Letters to all members of the family: older sisters and younger brother, mother and father.
6 September 1916. Capt. Walter JJ Coats
Bayonet fighting : it is a cheery thing to teach and I think they all like it.
3/11/14 to move to France tomorrow.
10/11/14 we are being put up to all the lessons so far learnt in the war. 15 bags of letters arrived. We had a days most strenuous physical workout, but no brainwork.
14/11/14 Three weeks digging trenches, training generally.
Missing chocolate, tobacco and censorship of letters.
19/11/14 request for coloured handkerchiefs.
21/11/14 to the Front, three French officers over for the evening.
22/11/14 all the officers are sending their swords back as they are more danger than use.
For 1914 Order of Battle : Major A F Becke ‘Order of Battle of Divisions Part I – The Regular British Divisions.
The 2nd (Regular) Division, consisting of 4th (Guards), 5th and 6th infantry brigades.
26/11/14 nonchalant shelling. So peaceful and monotonous that ‘I spent the time trying to cut my hair with the assistance of a pair of nail scissors and a shaving mirror’. p62
4/12/14 have just heard that we have ‘Hurled back the Prussian Guard’ – this is the first time we have heard of it. Shows how much you should believe of what the papers say. Capt. Walter JJ Coats
Three quarters of us have not seen a German yet, myself included … ‘ p65
14/11/14 St Omer funeral of Field Marshall Roberts – simple and impressive. Jack Coats standing almost next to the Prince of Wales. P67
9/12/14 Don’t believe all you hear about us in the papers. Cowrie was not wounded by a sniper … he was about a mile from the trenches when he was hit by a stray bullet … there were about 700 of us standing about who might have been hit.
Lace from Madame and her daughter for his sister
14/12/14 Over supply of short bread, chocolate cake and socks. Capt. Walter JJ Coats
30/12/14 It is funny how one gets accustomed to this sort of life. Sleeping outside in the middle of December with a mud-caked greatcoat for cover and wet feet is treated as a matter of course and it certainly has its humorous side if you look at it in the proper way.
1/1/15 the most rotten of jobs standing up digging a new communications trench in bright moonlight with snipers busy all around.
2/1/15 Could you look up in ‘Scott’s Last Voyage’ to see what they did about frostbite. Capt. Walter JJ Coats
3/1/15 sent out with a dozen men and a couple of ropes to pull two men out of the mud.
13/1/15 Just had a bath. It was ripping! The last one I had was 15th December.
17/1/15 Subaltern had a wardrobe carried down to the trenches to use as a canoe only to find it wouldn’t float.
28/15 out filling sandbags all night – make something of a competition of it.Capt. Walter JJ Coats
30/1/15 building breastworks. P.87
22/7/15 last rest
Brigade swimming : swept the board Capt. Walter JJ Coats
Splendid concert last night in the theatre : star turn son of Funny Frame. p143
Beauty parade with subalterns posing as girls. Capt. Walter JJ Coats
Ref: Alex Aiken ‘Courage Post’ 1971