Charles Robert Grimes was a leather tanner and territorial soldier of the
1st/6th Battalion Manchester Regiment. He was born in Moston 1892 and lived in Prestwich. Charles was killed in action on the 5th June 1915 during the Third Battle of Krithia.

This is the full text from Charles Grimes’s diary. It records what it was like being a long way from home and not knowing what was going to happen next on the long way from Littleborough to Gallipoli. It is funny, poignant and just one of many private First World War diaries held by Tameside Local Studies and Archives.

Part 2 covers the period between December 1914 and April 1915. Charles describes Christmas in Egypt, games of football and chess, and lots of marching in the desert…

The diary was transcribed by Liam Hart and David Govier. Veteran Graham Braithwaite provides context in bold.

Manoeuvres and football

Tuesday 1/12/14: had another day out at manoeuvres finished at dinner time had a few football matches in the afternoon a competition we got beat 2-1 after a draw of 1 goal each.

Wednesday 2/12/14: had a full morning of a sham fight we started from camp, the enemy were advancing from the batt we were on the right flank and A Coy were in the middle with D on the left. The Brigadier was watching us from a very high hill, he could see everything the two twenty, I came in second and got the value of twenty five Piastres. 5/2 was also in the relay race was winning by 30 yards when I gave my mate the the handkerchief but he had ran a mile before and was done up he lost us that relay race value 10 shilling a piece. Our Coy done very well received most of the prizes.

Thursday 3/12/14: got everything ready for moving off packed up the trap with all our baggage. Had the afternoon off played football.

Friday 4/12/14: moved off at 8.45 landed at Mustapha 12.15 had the baggage to unload in the afternoon. Cleaned up our equipment ready ready for guard duty at Kom el Def

Saturday 5/12/14: moved from Mustapha at 8.45 landed at 9.45 at Kamel Dih. Spent the rest of the day looking around the fort a splendid view of the town.

Sunday 6/12/14: Was put on guard duty, at the prison, these are four guards to do, Maseoni, Cable, Main and Wilson. I was on the latter put at the back two of us had a fine time two football matches were being played at we had it in turn watching them play our orders were to shoot if any body climbed over the wall.
Had no luck. Have a guard to do once every four days next time we went on the guard were only half the number that were on before. Instead of having five at one part there were only one. I was still at the back. That was in between we were.

Wednesday 9/12/14: Cleaning rooms out with disinfectant. Thurs. Friday. Saturday. Nothing doing.

Sunday 13/12/14: Had a march to St Marks Church 28 of us, in Mohammed eble Square. It very nice church it was too, also the service was nice too.

Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, Alexandria by A. Fanous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday 14/12/14: On guard again got my post changed to the main door at the front. There were a few convicts let loose (illegible) was up people watching for them at the road way. Kissed them and made a fuss of them.
Also a German Spy was sent out of the prison to be escorted to England. He was Lieut Mause a big man in the (illegible) porch. Also 15 more German prisoners came in the prison in cabs I called the guard out and they seemed (illegible) to find they were (illegible) by us.

An Egyptian Christmas

Tuesday 15/12/14: Came off guard, had another parade at 2 o’clock till 3, allowed full size play at football with the natives, missed our tea. Had a good game.

Wednesday 16/12/14: No parade at all played football with some French chaps had a champion game. Nearly missed our tea again.
Thursday 17/12/14: Up at six o’clock scrubbed all the floors made everything look clean in the afternoon. Spent own time cleaning up for to move our guard.

Friday 18/12/14: Up at 6.30 changed guard, at 9.30 played football with some class marines, treated at half time. Came off from playing football to go on guard.

Saturday 19/12/14: Came off guard 9.30.

Sunday 20/12/14: 6.30 up and doing, raining like anything, the bugle went for no parade, thundering and lightening.

Monday 21/12/14: Up at 530 oclock up everyone packed kit bags before breakfast was put on baggage guard batt moved off at 1130. We had dinner in the canteen and a good dinner we had. We moved of at 2.30 arrived at 4 oclock. Visited the pictures at night in aid of the Prince of Wales fund it was packed out to the doors, didn’t get back to barracks until 12 oclock.

Tuesday 22/12/14: Reveille at 6 oclock paraded at 830 marched to the desert had a sham battle got had dinner on the desert (illegible). Got back at 4.30, got inoculated at 8.30 had to stay in bed for 48 hours, doctors orders.
Wednesday 23/12/14: In bed all day, got tired of being in bed.

Thursday 24/12/14: Couldn’t stick in bed any longer than 9.30. Got put on a soft job cutting paper for decorations for Christmas. Had the rest of the day off as to ourselves had a tea party at night and a ruckus it was.

Friday 25/12/14: No reveille, got up when breakfast out, went and had bacon and eggs for breakfast, dinner was best it was a beetroot (illegible), cabbage, potato, cheese, pickles, lemonade (sic.) and pudding.

26/12/14: was told to put full marching order on thought we were going to have a route march made those who had had a cosey time turn their nose up. Anyway it wasn’t a march instead we ha our photo taken all the battalion then our coy by itself.

27/12/14: reveille as usual had to miss church parade, because I had to clean up for guard for the night went on guard at 5 oclock, my turn at 9.30 on officers quarter only had to do two guards.

28/12/14: dismissed from guard at 5 oclock am. Had two hours asleep woken up for breakfast at 7.30 paraded 9 oclock had a brigade route march all around Alexandria.
Had the afternoon off.

29/12/14: usual reveille had a (very good day out) {this is crossed out} parade at 7.50 went to the desert 4 mile had brigade drill had the afternoon off.

30/12/14: paraded at 8.30 marched to the desert had a sham fight got back at 2.30.

31/12/14: Paraded at 8 oclock had a good day out had a sham fight which started from barracks charged all the side streets, our enemy were supposed to be on the desert, it took us about two hours to get to the desert otherwise we can do it in 1 hour.
When we got on the desert we had half an hours (illegible) the best of these field days its nothing only rest. Anyway, when we got on the desert we we got in touch off all the other coys we were told to extend as far right as possible, which we did then we found ourselves almost behind our enemy.
Of course we advanced in extended order and didn’t we give them a surprise. They were surrounded and also cutely helpless.
When the fight was won over we had dinner it was five oclock when we got back.

New Year 1915

1/1/15: Had no parade to do past straighten up. Had eggs and bacon for breakfast, played football until dinner, then we had a dinner feast plenty of it, enough left for a tea. Cabbage, beans, potatos, puddings plenty of each. Played football again after dinner until tea, jam for tea. Then got paid, went down to town at night first time since we came from Kom El Dih, almost late for roll call

2/1/15: Reveille 6 oclock, orderly stayed until he called us. No parade, inspection of rooms, and kit and equipment. Put down for a shirt and a pair of socks. Afternoon played football, received two one from home and one from my friend. Had a night in town, first place we went in were a skating rink. Pint one I have been in, it is a fine past time came out and into a confectionery, came out get on the car it was 9.15, roll call 9.30.

3/1/15: Reveille 6 oclock didn’t get up until 8 oclock had breakfast at 8.30 check parade at 9.30 for an hour had a game of football until dinner had for dinner piece of meat, rice, rice pudding. It is now 2.45 pm afternoon wrote a letter to my friend.

4/1/15: Reveille 6 oclock didn’t get up until breakfast 7.30. Paraded at 8.30 marched to the desert had a sham fight finished about a mile and a half in the desert had dinner marched back landed at 4 oclock. Recieved letters when we got back.

5/1/15: Not much to do, only had to do range duty move range to about, should have done anyway. Left behind to sweep the rows out then follow on, of course we did. I don’t think, we had a walk around the sea coast. On the range in the afternoon.

6/1/15: Range duty holding a red flag as a signal in danger of fire. Had to climb up the pole to get a flag down about 30

7/1/15: Bayonet fighting rest of the day to ourselves from 11 oclock am

8/1/15: Reveille 530 as usual paraded at 830 marched in the desert had a sham fight, our turn for defending. We dug trenches lay in them for an hour waiting for enemy it was very cold as a strong wind was blowing our hands and eyes were filled with sand. We made a very decent show at defence they had to retire there front firing line. Had dinner on the desert. Managed to get back at barracks at 4.30.

9/1/15: Reveille as usual had to (illegible) the floors for inspection by O. C. Coy. had rest of day to ourselves from 10 oclock.
Had our fatigues given to us also a new pair of Khaki trousers about us wages. We stayed in at night. It is now 715 I am in the institute.

10/1/15: Had a church parade 10 oclock (illegible). Stayed in played draughts at the canteen, very prominent game with the 5th + 8th

11/1/15: Has an early revielle 5.30 had to jump to breakfast at 6.45, parade at 8.30 full marching order, started at 9 oclock had three stops on our way, We have one stop every hour it was 12 oclock when we got to Abukir our destination. Time for dinner then, we had leave until 1 oclock we were allowed to roam about until that time we visited three forts only old fasion ones. Got back at 2.30

January – March, march, march

12/1/15: Reveille as usual only had coy training, (illegible) at 11 oclock but had a cooked meat 3 (illegible) at 4.30
13/1/15: Paraded sick with a swollen face didn’t notice it at first but I have found out since it is only a cold, had the afternoon off
14/1/15: Had to drill under the S. M. Bath for the afternoon, in the afternoon we had to do a bit of company drill under Major Pilkinton
15/1/15: Had another march in full marching order quite 10 miles we went to the desert then went off had our second stop at Cape Marketos, bright it is too, but muddy. Got back at 10 oclock. Had the afternoon off
16/1/15: Had to clean all the rooms out scrubbed them all out at night got back at 10, 520 minutes late, lights out at 10/10
17/1/15: Has a church parade, nothing.
18/1/15: Had no parade but had to scrub the floors again, got everything ready for moving off had to provide a guard at station has all our transport were on it. Got the job of taking the tea to them missed the scrubbing
19/1/15: Reveille at 5 oclock had to get up, had a blanket rolled at 5.30 breakfast at 6 oclock. Kit bags packed at 6.30 and battalion transport. Moved off at 9.20 got at Abyssinia 2/30 5 oclock when we had finished work. We had to unload the train
20/1/15: Cleaning up all day. Barracks left in a dirty state by the 4th and 8th Lancs
21/1/15: Still putting things right.
22/1/15: Reveille at 5 oclock had to get up on the dot no sleeping in until breakfast. Breakfast at 6.15 paraded at 7 oclock marched for 5 mile then came to the desert we paraded again on the (illegible) to Virginia Breast (illegible)
23/1/15: Had to clean up all (illegible) rifles and floors the afternoon was allowed as a half holiday: Met my work mate Wm Booth, went to the Citadelle to meet him, went from there (illegible) had a pleasant afternoon out
24/1/15: Church parade, after that met W B had a look round the Citadel but did not go in side it
25/1/15: Went to the desert paraded another (illegible) to our dinner with us got back at 4.30
26/1/15: Reveille 5 oclock breakfast at 7 oclock had to parade at 9 oclock coy (illegible) went to the desert came back at 4.30 to our dinner will us
27/1/15: Had a divisional route march through (illegible) lovely lunch pack and by the side of the Ibrahimya Canal had a sham fight from Helioples to the (Illegible) with live cartridge. Sic
28/1/15: Had a rather easy day after the much yesterday, coy heavy on the (illegible) Afternoon half holiday
29/1/15: Had an exceptionally hard day. Reveille 5 oclock breakfast 6 oclock parade at 7 oclock marched to the desert had a sham fight on the Virgin Brest a very warm day warmest day we have had and it was the hardest day we had not sorry when we fainted
30/1/15: Cleaning up equipment and rifles for the afternoon to inspect. Afternoon half holiday
31/1/15: Church parade only for the left half of batt. Had the rest of the day to ourselves
1/2/15: Had another big day past charges brest attacked it from behind
2/2/15: Had coy training by the sergeant
3/2/15: Had Batt training with the bn yesterday, went to the Cidadel missed my pal, W B had the afternoon off
4/2/15: Division day, got back at 5.30
5/2/15: Division day, back 5.30
6/2/15: Room inspection
7/2/15: lunch parade
8/2/15: Coy training under the Sergeant Major
9/2/15: Just on guard
10/2/15: on guard 10pm half holiday then 11am
11/2/15: On training with the SM (Sergeant Major)
12/2/15: Training under the SM by march in. I got 2 letters over lunch and a bunch of papers
13/2/15: Kit and equipment inspection
14/2/15: Church parade
15/2/15: Back on the desert got back 4.30
16/2/15: Another division day digging trenches
17/2/15: Kit inspection in the morning. Inoculation in the afternoon. Individual Sergeant (illegible)
18/2/15: On the desert digging trenches
19/2/15: Under the SM for musketry
20/2/15: Kit inspection until equipment drill. Batt was (illegible) sunset
21/2/15: Pt Parade
22/2/15: Paraded for drill under the Sergeant Major
23/2/15: Had a very nice route march, it was a splendid day for marching. All around (illegible)
24/2/15 Had to go on gvm (.sic) fatigue, Batt in front on the desert for a full day parade at 8.30, back at 5 oclock, very hot day
25/2/15: Same duty putting targets in for firing
26/2/15: Paraded at 6.30 for adjustment day got back at 5 oclock
27/2/15: Had a room inspection at 10 oclock got paid at 11 oclock quarter pay up till Feb 18. Paid me 16/0 owed me 2/8½ didn’t draw wages on Saturday
28/2/15: 7/7 drawn wages back after (illegible) pay 5/3 23 4 (illegible). Usual parade

Private Ferguson’s funeral

1/3/15: Had to parade under the SM cleaned up for funeral (1444 Private A. Ferguson). Reveille at 4/45 Batt on divisional day on the desert. Paraded at the Hospital at 2 pm with drums draped in black I paraded with the bear (illegible). We had rifles with us martching at 4 oclock for a two hours march to the cemetery the respect shown to us by the natives was surprising

Divisional route march through Helioples

2/3/15: Divisional route march through Helioples coming back through Cairo
3/2/15: Paraded for drill in the march past on the desert under the Colonel
4/3/15: Paraded at 9 until 11pm under the adjutant
5/3/15: Inspection of lines by the C/O the fire alarm went at 10 oclock as we were just getting into bed
7/3/15: Usual church parade
8/3/15: Rev 5/30 had to go to a class of signaling
9/3/15: Parade for musketry at 7am went to the desert, fire drill our platoon as firemen, very funny
10/3/15: Rev 6 usual parade for musketry, us yesterday signaling
11/3/15: Rev 6 usual signaling. Musketry as usual
12/3/15: Rev 5 B/fast 6, Batt on desert attacking (illegible) drew Zealanders turks (illegible) at 6pm
13/3/15: Usual inspection, Rifles from armoury for inspt at 9.30am
14/3/15: Usual parade a littler later 11
15/3/15: Evening signaling our SM and drill instructions Sergeant left here for home (a time sent off batt)
16/3/15: Batt on desert from 7.45 until 4pm, thunder and lightning heavy rain
17/3/15: Usual class signaling
18/3/15: Usual class. Jim Kelly left here at 7.30 in carriage for course for (illegible) at 8 for dress packing for England

Night operations

19/3/15: Rev 5 for 10 am dinner 12 batt paraded for night operations. Mess changed to the third tower, it was 5.40. Inspection paraded of the road on to the desert some of the men were picked out for cooks made fires to brew tea, we had to take our team for outpost duty, three of us were put on at once one on duty, the others were put to go to sleep. Tea were very near to us. Batt came back in the platoons scout were knocking about. We had to be careful we did it sum ink, them these job was to get the number I suppose. We came back on Saturday morning at 10 oclock
20/3/15: Got back at 10 oclock work house went as soon as we got in. Brought tea up, washed the dixly to Batt played n/s/c were beaten 3/2 after a very testing game. Went to the Citadelle after tea to see my work mate it would be two oclock when we got in the (illegible) nw 6 oclock, B/fast 8 kit and rifle inspection at 11 he was on guard couldn’t see him. First match our team lost this season
21/3/15: Church parade 10/30 did not get up until cook house went
22/3/15: Revel 5/30 paraded as usual pm classes, splendid weather
23/3/15:Usual classes. Rev 5.30 usual musketing parades 7 oclock
24/3/15: Rev 6 usual classes. Hot pot 1/2 holiday,
British battle with Turks on Suez
25/3/15: Usual classes on Musketry. Received two letters one from home one from Marjorie
26/3/15: Paraded sick with a bad cold, missed a night manoeuvre but went on the desert out all night
27/3/15: Went on Officers mess fatigue, Batt came back at 9.30 some men had to go on guard after this, hard times
28/3/15: Rev at 5.30 had to clean all my things for a parade we had an inspection by Gen J. Milton (Sic.) who is commanding the Expeditionary force, For worth (illegible) 2 Brigades went on parade [8,000 men]
29/3/15: Rev 5.30 signaling class finished put on patrol leaving a very interesting job
30/3/15: Paraded on patrol duty (illegible) at 7.30 at night a lecture on stars
31/3/15: Usual patrol duty half holiday

A divisional day in the desert

1/4/15: Had a divisional day on the desert paraded at 5 oclock, breakfast at 6.30 came back at 2.45 not a hard day at all.
2/4/15: Had today off no parade at all
3/4/15: Had an inspection of kit and equipment
4/4/15: Usual church parade
5/4/15: Up till Saturday we paraded all week patrol lecturing
11/4/15: Church parade 8.30
12/4/15: Had to parade at 3.45 pm full marching order for a brigade route march to Halbouan (sic.) 21 miles
14/4/15: Still at Helouan yesterday was very hot 101 in the shade 130 in the sun. Not half as hot today. Moved off at 9 oclock marched to Maide, got back at 2 oclock
15/4/15: Marched from Maide at 2.30 this morning get to Abbassien at 7.30 had rest of day off
16/4/15: Had another inspection, rest of day off
17/4/15: Usual parade for church at 11.20
18/4/15: Had a short route march
19/4/15: Another route march in the afternoon. We had a musketry parade 3.45
20/4/15: A ceremonial drill parade at 8 oclock. Half holiday
21/4/15: On guard quarter guard (illegible)
22/4/15: On guard 2 to 4, came off guard at 8 oclock, hand sist off (illegible) as guard, went on parade at 5.50 pm. Came back at 10 oclock marched about Heliopolis
23/4/15: Usual inspection
24/4/15: Changed the church to hall. Paraded sick with a swollen foot. International sporting club meeting should have came but couldn’t

Heard a rumour of moving

25/4/15: Had to parade sick again, change of programme, reveille 5.30 light breakfast at six parade at 6.45 sick 8.30 no parade after this.
Heard a rumour about moving

Look out for part 3 in which Pte Grimes describes the journey to Gallipoli and his experiences at the battle of Krithia…