The Bedfordshire Regiment in the Great War
1914 War Diary
[Note that all remarks in squared brackets are my own additions and not part of the original text]
WAR DIARY FOR AUGUST 1914
5 Aug - 13 Aug 1914 - Mullingar [Ireland] Battalion mobilized at Mullingar. Everything proceeded smoothly. Mobilization completed according to schedule; but did not move as early as expected. Capt Le Huquet [Reginald Le HUQUET], Lt Hatch [Robert Bernard Lawson HATCH] & 2 Lt Birch [James Charles Abbott BIRCH] sent to Depot to train new units.
14-15 Aug 1914 - en route to le Havre Entrained at Mullingar about 2 a.m. Embarked at Belfast on S.S. 'ORONSA' about 2 pm sailed for HAVRE, arriving there night of 15th
16 Aug 1914 - le Havre Disembarked at HAVRE. Marched to rest camp (very muddy) on top of hill
17 Aug 1914 Marched to station late at night, arriving there about 12 midnight
18 Aug 1914 - Pommereuil Left Havre by train about 6 a.m. arriving at Le Cateau about 10 pm. Detrained & marched to POMMEREUIL arriving about midnight
19 Aug 1914 Billeted POMMEREUIL. Remained there awaiting arrival of remainder of 5th Division & 2nd Army Corps.
20 Aug 1914 Started advance to MONS by march route
21 Aug 1914 - Gomminies Billeted GOMMINIES
22 Aug 1914 - Bois Boussu Billeted at BOIS BOUSSU (Belgium) about 6 miles S.W. of MONS
23 Aug 1914 - [Comment; The Battle of Mons] Wasmes/Paturage About midday ordered to go with 1/2 Battn to WASMES to select & dig trenches. No immediate fighting expected. Started trenches. Men unexpectedly shelled; enemy attacked in afternoon & we had a few casualties. C.O. Recalled personally & sent with remainder of Battn to take up line between Dorsets & next Division near PATURAGE. 1/2 Bn at WASMES to join Hd Qrs of Bn. Reached Paturage after dark. No trace of Division on right. Enemy reported by inhabitants approaching in force on road on right flank. Sent out officers patrol & located enemy temporarily halted; next Division's left found nearly 2 miles to right rear. Reported situation by breaking into railway Station & using telegraph & telephone. Gen HAKING sent up with 3 Battns to fill up gap on our right. Also gap between Dorsets on our left, & ourselves: this gap eventually lightly held by parties from each of the two Regts., 2 Companies Bedfords at WASMES were unable to disengage from enemy until after dark, when they moved to join Hd Quarters at PATURAGE, arriving there before daybreak. Enemy attacked soon after daylight, 'C' Company holding houses & bridges on railway line first to be engaged, eventually driven back slowly as houses knocked down by shells.
24 Aug 1914 - 2 miles west of Bavay Enemy attacked strongly on our right which rested on high heap of slag (this mound was occupied by other units under Gen.HAKING), which shut out all view to that flank. Found about 11 a.m. that the Battns under Gen HAKING had either withdrawn or retired leaving our right in the air, with enemy in close proximity. Reported situation to Brigadier 15th Bde. Battn commenced retirement westward in 3 columns, covered by small rear guard. Then moved S.W. to .. A considerable portion of the Battn detached in action not yet rejoined. Our casualties Capt Millery [John McMaster MILLING], Lt Shearman [Charles Edward Gowran SHEARMAN] wounded about 66 other ranks killed, wounded & missing On arrival at ATHIS with rather more than half Battn (men very tired & footsore) at once called upon as escort to Artillery moved about 2 miles with guns preceded by Cavalry towards wood. Extended men over open cornfields. Guns at once moved; again moved men. R.A. officer galloped up & said guns unable to remain as cavalry had passed. Left in air without orders. Retired slowly & formed up under cover. Proceeded towards Bavay & found rest of Battn holding road. Moved south & rejoined remainder of 15th Brigade 2 miles W. of BAVAY. Left bivouac about 3.30 a.m.
25 Aug 1914 - [Comment; The Retreat to Paris] le Cateau Retired to Le Cateau: troops very tired. On arrival Battn set to work to improve existing trenches. Brigade with main body & out of touch with enemy
26 Aug 1914 - [Comment; the Battle of Le Cateau] Estres Battle of Le Cateau. Battn mostly in good trenches. Supports & 1st line transport & water carts in hollow lane, which though protected from front, would be badly enfiladed if enemy's artillery or machine guns advanced a short distance on the right. Supports dug into side bank of road, so as to be well traversed. Troops on right eventually driven back leaving right exposed. Battn suffered little owing to good trenches but had eventually to retire: remained long enough to cover retirement of guns in rear, which suffered considerably. Withdrawal difficult from trenches as country flat & open: fortunately enemy's fire rather wild. Our Casualties Lt. Wagstaff [William Wynter WAGSTAFF who was wounded and taken prisoner] & about 30 men. All ranks rather mixed during retirement. Main road very crowded with troops converged on it. Very slow progress units gradually sorted. Reached Estres about midnight. No orders. Billeted in empty barns 1 a.m. 27.8.14. Road much congested in the dark. Transmission of orders very difficult. Dark, damp night. Brigade got separated about midnight.
27 Aug 1914 - Eaucourt Left Estres at 4 a.m. & continued march. Reached St.Quentin about 11.30 a.m. & passed through to join remainder of Brigade & Division. Found them on arrival on far side of St.Quentin at 11.55 a.m. Men absolutely tired out & hungry. Received instructions to push on another 13 miles to Eaucourt at 12.15 p.m. Reached Eaucourt billet around 5 pm. Battn put on outposts.
28 Aug 1914 - Pontoise-les-Noyon Retired to Pontoise, through Le Noyon
29 Aug 1914 - Cardepont Retired to Cardepont, marching at night.
30 Aug 1914 - Croutoy Retired to Croutoy, starting at night.
31 Aug 1914 - Crpy-en-Valois Retired to Crpy. Enemy discovered in close proximity. Battn put on outpost duty.
DIARY FOR SEPTEMBER 1914
Sep 1914 - [Comment; Action at Crepy-en-Valois]
Nanteuil-le-Haudoin Rearguard action. Several enemy's guns captured. Major
Allason [Walter ALLASON] & Lt.WEST of N.Irish Horse,
captured German officer & trooper. Retired to Nanteuil.
1 Sep 1914 - [Comment; Action at Crepy-en-Valois] Nanteuil-le-Haudoin Rearguard action. Several enemy's guns captured. Major Allason [Walter ALLASON] & Lt.WEST of N.Irish Horse, captured German officer & trooper. Retired to Nanteuil.
Sep 1914 - Vinantes Retired to Vinantes. Billeted in very comfortable
2 Sep 1914 - Vinantes Retired to Vinantes. Billeted in very comfortable farm (deserted)
Sep 1914 - Mont Pichet Retired to Mont Pichet; all bridges blown up over
river & canal after we crossed.
3 Sep 1914 - Mont Pichet Retired to Mont Pichet; all bridges blown up over river & canal after we crossed.
4 Sep 1914 - Gagny Retired to Gangy [sic] through Tournan, marching at night. Remained there on 5th Sept. Joined by draft of 90 men under Capt. Orlebar [Basil John ORLEBAR]
6 Sep 1914 - [Comment; The First Battle of the Marne] La Celle Advanced through Villeneuve & Mortcerf to La Celle. Germans (6 Corps) retiring in disorder N. & N.E.
7 Sep 1914 - Boissy-le-Chatel Advanced to Boissy-le-Chatel at head of main body
Sep 1914 - River Marne Battn in advanced guard, sent on to cover left
of 13th Brigade, with them attacked St.Cyr & St.Owen [sic], & reached
banks of R.Marne. Captured about 200 prisoners (Division), but our own
guns fired on both alike, causing most of prisoners to escape. Eventually
recaptured by other units
8 Sep 1914 - River Marne Battn in advanced guard, sent on to cover left of 13th Brigade, with them attacked St.Cyr & St.Owen [sic], & reached banks of R.Marne. Captured about 200 prisoners (Division), but our own guns fired on both alike, causing most of prisoners to escape. Eventually recaptured by other units
9 Sep 1914 - Bezu-le-Guery Crossed river Marne at Saacy & moved to Bezu. Shelled by enemy, & 'B' Co. under Major Thorpe [Edward Ivan de Sausmarez THORPE, CMG, DSO] came under machine gun fire in wood: put enemy's machine gun out of action. Enemy's rear guard made good stand: but had to leave several guns eventually. Battn lost about 10 men.
11 Sep 1914 - St-Remy-Blanzy Advanced. Weather abominable: drenched by torrents of rain. Billeted at St.REMY.
Sep 1914 - River Aisne Advanced. Weather again very bad. Roads a sea of
mud. 1/2 Battn went on to R.Aisne to protect guns: remainder billeted
12 Sep 1914 - River Aisne Advanced. Weather again very bad. Roads a sea of mud. 1/2 Battn went on to R.Aisne to protect guns: remainder billeted in farm
Sep 1914 [Comment; The
First Battle of the Aisne] - Missy-sur-Aisne Germans holding line
of R.Aisne in force. Artillery duel all day. Some big shells dropped near
Battn which was in quarter column behind guns. Had to move further to
flank & rear eventually. Moved at 9 pm (13th) with remainder of Brigade
to bank of river via Jury, with view to crossing. Crossed by pontoon &
raft attacked Missy: heavily shelled: McGloughin
[Captain Robert James McCLOUGHIN] killed, Mayne [Joseph
Herbert MAYNE] & Edwards [Francis Hyde EDWARDS, DSO, MC
] wounded: about 40 casualties
13-14 Sep 1914 [Comment; The First Battle of the Aisne] - Missy-sur-Aisne Germans holding line of R.Aisne in force. Artillery duel all day. Some big shells dropped near Battn which was in quarter column behind guns. Had to move further to flank & rear eventually. Moved at 9 pm (13th) with remainder of Brigade to bank of river via Jury, with view to crossing. Crossed by pontoon & raft attacked Missy: heavily shelled: McGloughin [Captain Robert James McCLOUGHIN] killed, Mayne [Joseph Herbert MAYNE] & Edwards [Francis Hyde EDWARDS, DSO, MC ] wounded: about 40 casualties
Sep 1914 Battn in support in village of MISSY. Heavily shelled with high
explosive shell about midday also under Rifle fire. Capt
Ker [Cecil Howard KER] killed, Major
Onslow [Cranley Charlton ONSLOW, CMG, CBE, DSO, Croix de Guerre]
& Lt. Courtenay
[Hugh COURTENAY, DSO, MC] wounded. Also about 35 casualties in
15 Sep 1914 Battn in support in village of MISSY. Heavily shelled with high explosive shell about midday also under Rifle fire. Capt Ker [Cecil Howard KER] killed, Major Onslow [Cranley Charlton ONSLOW, CMG, CBE, DSO, Croix de Guerre] & Lt. Courtenay [Hugh COURTENAY, DSO, MC] wounded. Also about 35 casualties in other ranks.
16 Sep 1914 - Montgard Mill, near Jury Relieved by 14th Brigade in evening. Heavy firing as Battalion returned, fortunately passed over head when Battn lay down. Few casualties. Horrible night march through very muddy track. Pitch dark under trees, mud up to mens knees frequently & pouring rain. Recrossed river Aisne by pontoon bridge recently completed & billeted at Montgard Mill near Jury
Sep 1914 Remained in billets. Companies employed alternately on outposts
& in digging entrenchments. Restful time for the Battalion, on the whole
17-23 Sep 1914 Remained in billets. Companies employed alternately on outposts & in digging entrenchments. Restful time for the Battalion, on the whole
Sep 1914 - front line near Chivres-Val Battn recrossed to N. bank of R.AISNE
& took over section of line close to CHIVRES in a marshy wood. Impossible
to dig deep trenches as a rule owing to nature of ground. Part of forward
line held was a bank, or drop fence where surrounding country was higher.
In other places supports were placed in shallow ditches with fascines
of brushwood at bottom & raised parapets in front, cover from view owing
to trees. A few casualties from snipers! Battn relieved in trenches by
units of another Brigade at dusk
24-30 Sep 1914 - front line near Chivres-Val Battn recrossed to N. bank of R.AISNE & took over section of line close to CHIVRES in a marshy wood. Impossible to dig deep trenches as a rule owing to nature of ground. Part of forward line held was a bank, or drop fence where surrounding country was higher. In other places supports were placed in shallow ditches with fascines of brushwood at bottom & raised parapets in front, cover from view owing to trees. A few casualties from snipers! Battn relieved in trenches by units of another Brigade at
WAR DIARY FOR OCTOBER 1914
1 Oct 1914 - Jury-sur-Aisne Marched at 10 pm back to S. bank of Aisne, & billeted at JURY in mill & farm nearby
2 Oct 1914 - Launoy 7 pm. Left JURY & marched through Namptenil to Launoy: billeted there for night
3 Oct 1914 - Corcy Left Launoy at 6 pm. marched through Hartennes Longepont to CORCY billeted there, at Chateau.
4-5 Oct 1914 - Vattier Left Corcy about 6 pm, & marched with Bde marched thro Villar-Cotterets [sic] to Vattier arriving 5 a.m.: billeted there
6 Oct 1914 - Bethisy-St-Pierre Left Vattier, & marched thro' GILLOCOURT [sic] to BETHISY ST.PIERRE. Billeted there for night.
7 Oct 1914 - onboard train 7 a.m. marched thro' Saintines [,] Verberie to Pont St.Maxena [sic] and arrived there about 11 a.m. Outspanned in a field near Railway station. No room on train for 'C' Company & one wagon; which had to come on later 4 pm Entrained: passed thro' CREIL, Amiens, Abbeville
8 Oct 1914 - Gennes-Ivergny 5 a.m. detrained Noyelles, & marched to Millancourt [sic] arriving about 10 a.m. 6 pm. marched with Brigade thro' Agenvilliers [sic], Brailly, Boufflers to Genne-Ivergny [sic], arriving about midnight. Marched about 28 miles in all; tiring day.
9 Oct 1914 - Haravesnes 2.15 pm. Battn started without transport towards HARAVESNES to be picked up by motor buses (French) at 7 p.m. Waited - no 'buses. Continued to wait by roadside.
10 Oct 1914 - la Thieuloye Motor 'buses arrived about 10 a.m. Moved by 'bus through FILLIEVRES, St.POL, to LA THIEULOYE, where Battn was billeted. Transport, which had started by road on afternoon of 9th, arrived soon after the Battn.
11 Oct 1914 - Essars 6.30 a.m. Marched, as Adv. Guard to Division, through Dival towards BETHUNE. Found Bethune occupied by French; & moved at 2 pm. across canal to ESSARS to hold line there. Found Essars occupied by French territorials. After a little discussion finally decided that the Territorials should withdraw, & Battn took over trenches from them.
12 Oct 1914 [Comment; The Battle of La Bassee] - Givenchy-les-la-Basse Left ESSARS in morning early, & proceeded East. Ordered to occupy GIVENCHY. Occupied village & rough trench E. of it without much opposition except a few shells & a little rifle fire. Considerable shelling towards evening, of which a proportion was enfilade fire. Dorsets on our right; line on left unable to advance as far as intended. 17 casualties.
13 Oct 1914 Heavy bombardment of trenches & village all day. About midday cannonade became terrific. Practically every house damaged & neighbourhood of church continually shelled. Our front trenches, in continuation of Dorsets, unable to hold on in afternoon after Dorsets were enfiladed & withdrew. Smoke of shells & dust of falling houses made it impossible to see clearly what was going on to flanks. Enemy attacked front & flanks & Battn retired about 300 yards in rear of village & reformed on new line holding road to Pont Fixe in continuation of Dorsets. Norfolks on our left. Losses 7 officers & 140 other ranks. [Comment; Lt Claude Charles STAFFORD killed]
14 Oct 1914 Held out new line. [Comment 2/Lt James Reginald SHIPPEY died of wounds]
15 Oct 1914 2nd Lt Edwards [Edwin Allan James EDWARDS, died from wounds 31/12/1914 in London] wounded, badly, also stretcher bearers who went to his assistance. Altogether 5 casualties. Enemy reported retiring during night.
16 Oct 1914 Lieut. Rendell [Leonard Wyndham RENDELL] & scouts reconnoitred Givenchy: & found enemy had evacuated It except for two or three snipers. Lt. Rendell [Leonard Wyndham RENDELL] mortally wounded but carried in & reported 'all clear'. Battalion reoccupied the village, & recovered a number of wounded officers & men, most of whom had been given rough 1st aid by enemy.
17 Oct 1914 Troops in trenches & supports in one or [sic] ruined houses, with trenches close at hand.
18 Oct 1914 French attack through Devons on our right; Bedfords in reserve. French advance some little distance towards La Basse along canal.
19 Oct 1914 Quiet. 'B' Company sent to join Cheshire Regt on our left near VIOLAINES. Subsequently at dawn on 22nd inst. were in support close to Cheshire front trenches when the latter were rushed by Germans, who came through on to 'B' Co. Lts. Coventry [William St John COVENTRY] & Litchfield [John LITCHFIELD] missing, believed to be killed [comment; both confirmed as killed in action 22-10-14]. About 40 other ranks killed, wounded or missing.
20 Oct 1914 Quiet. Little Shelling.
21 Oct 1914 Fairly quiet. Some shelling
22 Oct 1914 GIVENCHY somewhat heavily shelled in morning: several men wounded. battn ordered to move to CHAPELLE ST.ROCH about 12 noon & report to O.C. 13th Inf. Bde. On arrival, ordered to assist in attack on farms near VIOLAINES about dusk. Attack not pushed home, & orders received for Bde to fall back at midnight to new line running through GIVENCHY & about 1 mile E. of FESTUBERT. 'B' Company rejoined the Battalion.
23-25 Oct 1914 - trenches 1 mile east of Festubert Occupied line of trenches south of FESTUBERT - RUE QUINQUE road about 1 mile East of Festubert. Enemy particularly active & pertinacious, constantly sapping forward & making attacks at various hours of night & day: all successfully repulsed. Owing to length of line held, nearly whole Battn had to be kept in front trenches, & constantly on the alert.
26 Oct 1914 Battn was relieved from the trenches by 1st Battn Manchester Regt in the evening. Lt. Walker [Walter Arthur Beaumont WALKER; died on the 30th] & about 14 men killed & wounded.
27 Oct 1914 - Gorre Moved to GORRE to billets, arriving about 7 am.
28 Oct 1914 Sent out to FESTUBERT for the night as support returning to GORRE following morning.
29 Oct 1914 - Festubert 1 p.m. Hd Qrs & B & D Companies ordered to proceed to assist Manchester Regt. part of whose trenches had been occupied by enemy. Assisted Manchesters to regain their trenches & remained in support.
30-31 Oct 1914 4 a.m. returned towards Gorre 12 noon. Ordered to reinforce Indian Troops E. of Festubert, found Germans had driven back Ghurkhas (8th) & occupied part of their trenches. West Ridings, 58th Wilde's Rifles, 107th Pioneers, 41st Dogras ordered to assist. Whole, including Devon Regt & 8 Ghoorkhas put under command of Lt.Col. Griffith D.S.O. [Charles Richard Jebb GRIFFITH CMG, DSO] 1/Bedf Regt. Difficulty in ascertaining which trenches were occupied by enemy as enemy called out 'We are Gurkhas' & it was impossible to see in the dark. Line finally re-established. Capt Gale [Frederick Horace GALE], Sergt Cooper [6792 Allen COOPER] & 2 or 3 men wounded.
WAR DIARY NOVEMBER 1914
1 Nov 1914 - Gorre 4 a.m. returned to GORRE
2 Nov 1914 - in trenches east of Festubert 5 pm ordered back to support native troops on line E. of FESTUBERT.
3 Nov 1914 6 a.m. returned to Gorre. 4 pm ordered to proceed to trenches occupied by Black Watch & reinforce them. This section of line to be under command of Lt. Col. Griffith [Charles Richard Jebb GRIFFITH, CMG, DSO] 1 Bedf Regt.
4 Nov 1914 - Gorre Relieved about 9 p.m. by Indian Troops, & returned to GORRE about midnight. 1 man killed.
5 Nov 1914 - Locon Hd Qrs & 2 companies received orders at 5pm to move at once to LOCON, en route to rejoin 15th Infantry Brigade. Battn moved at 7pm.
6 Nov 1914 [Comment; The First Battle of Ypres] - trenches south of Menin Road Left LOCON 7 a.m. in motor 'buses, & proceeded to near YPRES where we halted. Moved again on foot at 5 p.m. via Ypres, & Hooge to trenches in wood south of road, where remaining two companies of Battn had arrived on previous day. Passed 2nd Bn. Bedf. Regt near BAILLEUL, resting: 1st Battn relieved them in firing line.
7 Nov 1914 Enemy broke through line held by Regt about 200 yards to our left, carrying next Regt & some of our men with them. Our supports were moved to left by self, Capt. Monteith [John Cassells MONTEITH] & Adjutant, & assisted in driving enemy back. Qr. Mr.Sergt. Byford [4893 Thomas William BYFORD, DCM] (awarded Distinguished C. Medal) collected about 40 men & captured trench held by 21 Germans, killing or capturing all. Pte. Falla [8095 William FALLA, DCM] (awarded Distinguished C. Medal) ran on in advance, & getting on left of trench enfiladed enemy whilst remainder were rushing the trench. Our casualties about 7 officers & 140 other ranks killed wounded 7 missing.
8 Nov 1914 No serious attack
9 Nov 1914 Sergt. Mart [7814 Alfred J. MART, DCM], assisted by Corporal Cyster [10129 Phillip G. CYSTER, DCM] succeeded in creeping up to trench occupied by enemy, where 2 machine guns had been previously lost. Found only about 1 German actually with guns, though adjoining trench, a few yards away in prolongation, was occupied. Sergt. Mart [7814 Alfred J. MART] shot the German & guns were safely brought back. 1 wounded soldier found in trench also. He was brought back by Mart assisted by 2nd Lt. Garrod [Alfred Guy Rowland GARROD] & others. Mart & Garrod in turns facing the enemy to keep their heads down by accurate fire at a few yards range. Battalion thanked in wire from Corps Commander. Sergt.Mart wounded. Casualties about 17 killed 7 wounded.
10 Nov 1914 No serious attack: 2 Lt. Garrod [Alfred Guy Rowland GARROD] wounded.
11 Nov 1914 Enemy broke through Fusiliers line about 200 yds from our left. In attack on our line about 5 killed & 17 wounded. Line partially restored by counter attack on our left.
12-13 Nov 1914 Fairly quiet in Bedfordshire front, except for heavy shelling which affected other Battns more than us. Our casualties about 5 men from rifle fire. Battn ordered to prepare new line of front, as withdrawal possible owing to situation on our left
14 Nov 1914 In consequence of enemy having broken through line to left of Battn Bedfords & Cheshires ordered to withdraw front line to new position about 300 yards in rear, about 4 pm. Germans enfiladed & drove back part of Cheshire Regt advanced trench on right of small advanced trench held by Bedfords leaving our right 'in the air'. In subsequent hand to hand fighting in advanced trench, Lt Pope [Cyril POPE] & about 10 men missing, believed to be captured; about 11 men killed & wounded. Hard to see exactly what happened as it was getting dark. [Comment; Lt Cyril POPE confirmed as as a prisoner of war]
15-18 Nov 1914 Fairly quiet. Usual bursts of rifle fire at intervals, & constant intermittent shelling only mild attacks at various parts of line. 3 killed 7 wounded. Shells usually over front trenches & slightly to left of supports.
19 Nov 1914 - Sanctuary Wood, Hooge Relieved at 8.30 pm by Worcester Regt, & retired about 3/4 mile to reserve dugouts in wood, near HOOGE, arriving about midnight.
20 Nov 1914 Remained in dugouts awaiting relief by French. Occasional shelling, nor very near us.
21 Nov 1914 - Loker Battn relieved in support trenches by French troops: marched via YPRES, VLAMERTINGE to LOCRE to billets. Road shelled occasionally with shrapnel,
22-23 Nov 1914 Remained in billets at LOCRE. Endeavoured to reorganize as far as possible & to get all ranks washed: considerable difficulties as freezing hard & accommodation [sic] very limited
24 Nov 1914 - St-Jans-Cappel Marched to St.JANS CAPPEL to be billeted
25 Nov 1914 Remained in billets
26 Nov 1914 Major Mackenzie V.C. [John MACKENZIE, VC] joined the Battn. bringing with him 2nd Lt. Baker [Cyprian Francis Thurlow BAKER] (4th Kings Own) & 11 N.C.O. & men.
27 Nov 1914 Remained in billets; drawing clothing etc as far as possible to make good deficiencies
28 Nov 1914 - trenches north west of Wulvergem Marched via DRANOUTRE to trenches N.W. of Wolverghem, & relieved Worcester Regt. at 8 pm
29 Nov 1914 Trenches disconnected & in bad condition: communicating trenches full of water. Men kept hard at work trying to revet & improve trenches, & bail out water. Casualties - 8 wounded.
30 Nov 1914 An extra section of trench about 300 yards in extent handed over to the battn. This section full of unburied French soldiers & old trenches. In very close contact with Germans, whose trenches, on slightly higher ground, were within about 25 yards. A company of another Regt. detailed to assist in reserve owing to weakness of Battn.
WAR DIARY FOR DECEMBER 1914
1 Dec 1914 - trenches north west of Wulverghem Trenches improved by communication trenches & addition of steel loopholes. Casualties - 1 wounded.
2 Dec 1914 Major Roche [Benjamin Robert ROCHE], with 6 other officers & 190 other ranks joined at 8 p.m., as reinforcements from England.
3 Dec 1914 Trenches constantly falling in owing to wet, & nature of soil. R.E. assisted our men at night in revetting, bailing out trenches etc. but without much avail. Casualties 2.
4 Dec 1914 Our right trench dug a 'sap' which surprised enemy at dawn, several of their ration party being shot from there. Casualties - six.
5 Dec 1914 - Dranouter Relieved by 2nd K.O.S.B. at about 6 pm & moved into billets in support near DRANOUTRE, leaving 3 officers & 200 men to assist K.O.S.B. who were too weak to hold the line. Casualties 1 officer; 1 man killed.
6 Dec 1914 Remained in billets.
7 Dec 1914 3 officers & 200 men left in trenches were relieved & arrived at billets about 10 p.m.
8 Dec 1914 - trenches near Wulvergem Reinforcements numbering 140 Sergeants, R.& F. arrived from BAILLEUL. Battn unexpectedly received orders about 12.45 p.m. to return to firing line. Proceeded to WOLVERGHEM and took over line near there from 1st Norfolk Regt. at dusk
9 Dec 1914 Quiet day in trenches except for occasional sniping & shrapnel. 2 killed & 1 man wounded.
10 Dec 1914 Patrols & scouts reconnoitred German trenches during early morning: found Germans alert, & trenches protected by wire. Casualties 2 killed 3 wounded. Relieved by 1st R.West Kent Regt. at dusk, & returned to billets at St.JANS CAPPEL about 8 1/2 miles away.
11 Dec 1914 - St-Jans-Cappel Arrived in billets about 1 a.m. Billeted in farms some distance apart. The Brigade in Divisional Reserve.
11-12 Dec 1914 Reorganized companies, made up numbers of acting ranks to complete vacancies amongst N.C.O. 13 Dec 1914 Orders received about 4 p.m. to move early next morning. No opportunity of washing clothes or men, as Battalion's turn at baths, Bailleul, on 14th cancelled owing to move.
14 Dec 1914 - Nieuwkerke Brigade in Corps Reserve, marched from billets arriving at DRANOUTRE 8 a.m. Spent day bivouacing in muddy field whilst attack on enemy's trenches taking place near WYSCHAETE [sic]. Moved after dark to billets at NEUVE EGLISE
15-16 Dec 1914 Remained at Neuve Eglise in Reserve. Arranged baths for about 1/2 Battalion.
17 Dec 1914 - trenches near Wulvergem Brigade took over line of Trenches. Bedfords on left, close to WOLVERGHEM, between R.W.Kent & Dorset Regt. Communication trenches full of water, other trenches wet in parts. 1 Company 6th Cheshire Regt. (Territorials) attached to Bedfords for duty. Half Battn in trenches, remainder in support at NEUVE EGLISE. 1 casualty.
18 Dec 1914 Attack on our left against WYTSCHAETE continued. Heavy bombardment of Enemy along our front, combined with bursts of Infantry fire from our trenches ordered at intervals throughout the day. Remainder of Battn. sent up to reinforce at 6 a.m. but no room for them in trenches, so were sent back again to Neuve Eglise. Wolverghem & neighbourhood of trenches shelled intermittently by Enemy; shells fell in some cases very close to trenches, or almost into them, but no actual casualties caused in Battn.
19 Dec 1914 'B' Company from Support in Neuve Eglise sent to front, so as to arrive by 6 a.m.. with instructions to crowd into trenches or failing room to get any cover available in Wolverghem (N.B. Wolverghem, owing to shelling has no complete houses standing). Reconnaissance of front ordered with view to ascertaining possibility of advancing. Enemy's trenches in front form more or less arc of a circle so that any advance on our part likely to be partially enfiladed.
20 Dec 1914 Heavy bombardment of enemy's trenches, to cooperate with attack from other parts of our line, during yesterday, & to a lesser extent today. Enemy did not respond with much rifle fire, but shelled our trenches. About 12 yards of our front trench blown in by heavy explosive shell, & machine gun damaged. 2 men killed, 2 wounded by 'snipers'.
21 Dec 1914 No change in situation. Enemy put two heavy shells through Hd Quarters of Battn., a partially damaged farm: 1 shell an 8 inch armour piercing pierced three walls & fortunately failed to explode. Several shells struck the trenches, but owing to amount of water in trenches the portions damaged happened to be unoccupied.
22 Dec 1914 No change: frost in early morning rendered the situation in the wet & muddy trenches very unpleasant. Enemy shelled the roads along which rations were coming at dusk, but without result.
23 Dec 1914 No change
24 Dec 1914 Relieved by Manchester Regt. at 8pm. Battn took over a section on their right from Dorset Regt. at about 9 pm. without any casualties. Wolverghem & Battn. Hd Qrs shelled by enemy. Reinforcements 69 R & File arrived.
25 Dec 1914 Christmas cards from Their Majesties the King & Queen distributed to all ranks of the Battn. Also present from Her R. Highness Princess Mary. Cold & frosty day. Quiet day. Germans semaphored over that they were not going to fire. Hard frost all day. [note that a private diary by a battalion member records fraternisation between men of B Company and the Germans in No Man's Land]
26 Dec 1916 Another quiet day. A little shelling by both sides. Some Germans came forward unarmed apparently with a view to friendly intercourse. A few shots fired in their direction as a hint to withdraw. Later, enemy shelled trenches & Wolverghem: damaged several rifles, but only wounded 1 man.
27 Dec 1916 No change in situation. Enemy shelled trenches & section generally. 2 men wounded. New fire trench dug in advance.
28 Dec 1914 No change. Heavy outburst of rifle fire from enemy's line at dusk.
29 Dec 1914 - Bailleul Battn. relieved by Duke of Wellington's Regt. at about 8.30 pm. & moved into Divisional Reserve along with remainder of 15th Bde. Billeted at BAILLEUL. Lt.Col. C.R. Griffith D.S.O. [Charles Richard Jebb GRIFFITH, CMG, DSO] temporarily takes over command of 15th Brigade from Br.Gen.Count Gleichen [Lord Albert 'Edward' GLEICHEN, KCVO, CB, CMG, DSO] who proceeds to England.
30 Dec 1914 In billets in Bailleul
31 Dec 1914 All men inoculated against Enteric who have not been inoculated within past 2 years.
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