1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

F. Joseph Rice

Contributed by: Ninety Years of Remembrance, on 2008-11-04

F. Joseph Rice
First Name F. Joseph
Surname Rice
Year of Birth 1893
Year of Death 1976
Regiment Royal Field Artillery
Place of Wartime Residence Boston, Lincolnshire

F. Joseph's Story

Colonel F. Joseph Rice was a commander in the 82nd Brigade RFA (18th Division) from November 1914 to June 1919. He was involved in numerous battles including those of the Somme (July 1916), Third Battle of Ypres (Oct-Nov 1917), and the battles of Selle (Oct 1918) and Sambre (Nov 1918).

another shell coming in the same place was pretty small, and I was soon asleep in my torn blankets

Third Battle of Ypres

Diary Extracts

20th Oct 1917 An awful evening. A 10.5cm shell burst in the doorway of the signallers' dugout and all were killed or wounded. Twentyman and I got there first, but there was such a weight of sandbags to move that we had to turn out some of the gunners, who did not know what had happened. While they were shifting sandbags and extricating casualties, Twentyman and I groped our way across to the next battery, B/82, to fetch the M.O. who lived there. Halfway across I fell into a large shell hole full of water, which did not help matters. This was at 10pm. Later, while I was in the 'mess' dug-out, and had just said that I was going to turn in, a 10.5cm shell arrived in the doorway of my dug-out, put out the candles in the 'mess', and ripped up my blankets, a pair of ankle boots and my belt, cracked my field glasses, and buried my shaving and washing kit. Still, the chance of another shell coming in the same place was pretty small, and I was soon asleep in my torn blankets, but, to complete the unpleasantness of that night, the Boche gas-shelled us heavily about 1am.

26th Oct 1917 Another attack and another barrage in heavy rain. Not successful but a slight gain of ground was achieved. [...] We had more bad luck. Bdr. Marshall brought up the rations and was returning along the duckboard track to the mess cart when he was blown to bits by a 15cm shell which landed very close to the track. Gn Clarke, who was walking down to the track close to him, got a large piece in the back and died a day or two later. There was a bad show by some infantry soldiers who were the only witnesses. They didn't seem to want to stop in that unhealthy spot, so they did nothing for Gn Clarke, but walked on to the battery and told some of the gunners that a man, probably one of ours, was wounded two or three hundred yards down the track, but they wouldn't go back and help as they 'had to be getting on.' Our own gunners also seemed rather slow in the uptake and one of them came across and told Rickard and me in the 'mess.' I was pretty annoyed that nothing had been done and Rickard and I set off with a stretcher. We both had gum boots on and the duck boards were very slippery, and when we got Clarke onto the stretcher it was almost too much for us owing to the difficulty of keeping on our feet. The dressing station was over half a mile from the battery, but luckily we soon met with some assistance from some R.A.M.C men. On our way back we collected most of Bdr. Marshall into one shell hole, and managed to find some papers, letters, etc., in what was left of his jacket. While this was going on our last bit of bad luck for that day took place. Bdr. Collett got a nice little wound in the arm and while being accompanied down to the dressing station by one of the gunners (Page, who got a M.M. at Zillebeke) with the certainty of being evacuated to England, he got another bit in the head and was killed. This was one shock too many for Gr Page, who had a narrow escape, and he came back gibbering with shell shock.

Text published by the BBC with permission from the soldier's relatives and the Imperial War Museum.

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