The Bedfordshire Regiment in the Great War
1916 War Diary
[Note that all remarks in squared brackets are my own additions and not part of the original text]
WAR DIARY FOR JULY 1916
10/7/16: Landguard, Felixstowe, 12 noon. Battalion received orders to mobilise for service overseas. This was carried out 10th-24th July 1916.
24/7/16, Landguard, Felixstowe, 3 a.m. Battalion entrained at Felixstowe Town Station & proceeded to Southampton.
24/7/16. Southampton, 6.30 p.m. Embarked on S.S. Inventor and arrived a HAVRE 6.a.m. 25/7/16.
26/7/16. HAVRE. Left Base Camp and arrived HAVRE Station 5.15 p.m. Left HAVRE 7.30 p.m.
27/7/16. HOUDAIN 1 p.m. Arrived HOUDAIN and marched about 9 miles to COUPIGNY.
27/7/16 5.30 p.m. Arrived COUPIGNY at this time and formed part of the 190th Infantry Bride, 63rd (R.N.) Division, IV Corps, 1st Army, under Brigadier General C.N. Trotman, C.B. [Sir Charles Newsham TROTMAN, K.C.B.]
WAR DIARY FOR AUGUST 1916
7/8/16 COUPIGNY, noon. A working party consisting of 2 officers & 200 NCO's and men proceeded to AIX NOULETTE and thence to COLONELS HOUSE in SOUCHEZ section to bury cable. This party was relieved from time to time by the Battalion and finished Aug. 22nd.
9/8/16 COUPIGNY, 2 p.m. Deep dugout platoons consisting of 1 NCO and 19 men from each company under the command of 1 officer proceeded to Divisional Engineers, 63rd R.N. Division for work on the line and are still detached. 31/7/16 9 a.m. Brigadier General C.N. Trotman, C.B. [Sir Charles Newsham TROTMAN, K.C.B.] Commanding the 190th Inf. Brigade inspected the Battalion.
24 & 25/8/16 9 p.m. Two Companies, A & D, under Major J.S. Collings-Wells [John Stanhope COLLINGS-WELLS, VC, DSO] and Captain C.E.G. Shearman [Charles Edward GOWRAN (CBE, DSO, MC, Legion of Honour (France))] respectively were attached to Battalion as under, in SOUCHEZ section for training; B Company on night of 24/25 to HAWKE Battalion, SOUCHEZ II, relieved 28.8.16; D Company on night of 25/26 to HOOD Battalion, SOUCHEZ I, relieved 29.8.16. Specialists were attached to similar units.
23/8/16, COUPIGNY, 3 p.m. G.O.C. 1st Army, General Sir R.C.B. Haikin, K.C.B. [sic; Sir Richard Cyril Byrne HAKING, G.B.E., K.C.B., K.C.M.G.], inspected the Brigade.
28 & 29/8/16, COUPIGNY, 9 p.m. B Company proceeded to SOUCHEZ II on the night of the 28th - 1/9/16 for instruction, attached to HAWKE Battn. C Company proceeded to SOUCHEZ I on the night of the 29th - 1/9/16 for instruction, attached to HOOD Battn.
WAR DIARY FOR SEPTEMBER 1916
4/9/16: Coupigny 10 am - Lieut.Colonel R.P.Croft [Richard Page CROFT] proceeded to 17th Infantry Base pending further deployment
5/9/16: Coupigny Command of the battalion taken up by Major A.E.Greenwell [Aynsley E. GREENWELL]: 2nd in command Major J.S.Collings-Wells [John Stanhope COLLINGS-WELLS, VC, DSO]. Lieut.B.L.S.Frere [Bartle Laurie Stuart FRERE] took over command of A Coy.
7/9/16: Coupigny-Calonne II 4.30 am - The battalion proceeded to CALONNE in relief of 1st H.A.C. [1st Honourable Artillery Company] in Support line. In the firing line in CALONNE I there were the 1st HAC and in CALONNE II the 10th R.F. [10th Royal Fusiliers]
11/9/16: Calonne II 8 am - The battalion took up a position in the firing line in relief of 10th RF in CALONNE II The trenches occupied were:- RIGHT COY M.15.c.20.20 - M.15.c.65.80 CENTRE COY M.15.c.65.80 - M.15.b.22.40. LEFT COY M.15.b.22.40 - M.9.d.25.10 SUPPORT COY - M.9.c.95.20 - M.15.a.45.20 The troops on the Right of the battalion were 7th RF; on the left the 14th H.L.I. [14th Highland Light Infantry] who were relieved on the 13th inst by the 13th E. Surreys; in support was the 13th R.B. [13th Rifle Brigade]
15/9/16: Calonne II 9 am - The battalion was relieved by the 13th RB in CALONNE II and proceed to BULLY-GRENAY in reserve. trenches occupied in case of alarm were (36 BSE 2) R.12.c.63.20 - M.8.a.45.06
17/09/16: Bully-Grenay 3.30 pm - The battalion proceeded to COUPIGNY en route for DIEVAL
18/09/16: Coupigny 7.30 am - The battalion left COUPIGNY and arrived DIEVAL 12.30 pm
20/09/16: Dieval 9.15 am - The battalion left DIEVAL and arrived ORLENCOURT 12 Noon (A.E.Greenwell, Major, [Aynsley E. GREENWELL] commanding).
WAR DIARY FOR OCTOBER 1916
Oct 3rd . Orlencourt. 10.15 p.m. The battalion left Orlencourt and proceeded via Marquay to entrain at Ligny-St. Flochel station. Arrived Acheux Railhead at 1 p.m. (4/10/16) and proceeded to billets at Lealvillers.
Oct 6th. Hedauville. 11 a.m. Proceeded to Headauville, where the battalion remained one night, afterwards proceeding to front line trenches at Mailly-Maillet (White City). Oct 8th. White City. 10 a.m. Occupied the line from 8.10.16 to 11.10.16. The battalion on the left being the 7th R.F. and that on the right the Royal Sussex Regt. Map reference Q.126.96.36.199. (Map 57D S.E. 1/20,000). Took over from 1st H.L.I.
Oct 11th. Mailly-Maillet. 12 noon. In huts and tents in Mailly Wood until 16.10.16.
16 Oct. Arqueves. 3.30 p.m. Left Mailly-Mailet and arrived Arqueves at 6.30 p.m. Billets.
17 Oct. Lealvillers. 10 a.m. Left Arqueves and arrived Lialvillers at 2 p.m. Bivouacs.
18 Oct. Puchvillers. 10 a.m. Left Lealvillers and arrived at Puchevilelrs via Arqueves and Raincheval at 3 p.m. Huts.
21 Oct. Varennes. 9 a.m. Left Puchevillers and arrived Varennes at 1 p.m. via Harponville. Huts.
30 Oct. 8.20 a.m. The Battalion proceeded via Englebelmer to Gabion Avenue and Knightsbridge, arriving there at 11 0.m. and took over front line trenches (left sub sector) from 1st RMLI. 1 Company being left in Englebelmer in billets. Map Reference Q.16.c.9.9. (Map 57D S.E. 1/20,000)
WAR DIARY FOR NOVEMBER 1916
2/11/16: Knightsbridge Captain B.C.R.Loder [Basil C.R. LODER] (Adjutant) evacuated to C.C.S. [Casualty Clearing Station] - Lieut.W.A.Turnbull [William Arthur TURNBULL] takes over duties of A/Adjutant
3/11/16: Knightsbridge 11 am - Bn was relieved in front line trenches Q.17.d by 10/R.D.F. [10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers] and proceeded to ENGLEBELMER
7/11/16: Englebelmer 7.30 am - Bn left ENGLEBELMER and proceeded to HEDEAUVILLE by route march arriving at 12 noon and after dinner proceeded to Hutments at PUCHVILLERS arriving about 5 pm
9/11/16: Puchvillers Bn was inspected by Brigade Commander (Brig.Gen.W.C.G.Heneker DSO ADC)
10/11/16: Puchevillers Bn was inspected by Divisional Commander (Maj.Gen.C.D.Shute CB)
11/11/16: Puchvillers 1.30 pm - Bn left PUCHVILLERS and proceeded to VARENNES
12/11/16: Varennes 2.30 pm - Bn marched to assembly trenches off BEDFORD ST and VICTORIA ST to take up position as right centre Bn of the Division preparatory to attacking between BEAUMONT HAMEL and RIGHT bank of R.ANCRE. 7/R.Fusiliers on our right, 10/RDF on left
Appendix A: Operations on the North Bank of the ANCRE - Nov 13th 1916. The Battalion advanced with the remainder of the Brigade at 6.45 am and sustained heavy casualties among Officers and NCOs in and near the enemy front line from a strongpoint established between enemy front line and second line which had been passed over by the leading Brigades. Battalion advanced to enemy second line and from there parties pushed forward to Station Road and beyond. Casualties Officers Killed: Captain F.G.C.Ashmead-Bartlett [Francis George Coningsby ASHMEAD-BARTLETT], Lieut.B.L.S. Frere [Bartle Laurie Stuart FRERE], Lieut.R.H.Boys [Richard Harvey BOYS], Lieut.W.A.Turnbull [William Arthur TURNBULL], 2nd Lieut.J. Brodie [John BRODIE], 2nd Lieut.H.B.Hudson [Harold Baldwin HUDSON], 2nd Lieut.S.H. Agate [Sidney Herbert AGATE], 2nd Lieut.T.H. Hill [Thomas Hooten HILL]. Died of Wounds, 2nd Lieut.L.S. Wilkinson [Leslie Stuart WILKINSON]. Wounded 2nd Lieut.A.R.Fraser [Arthur Ronald FRASER], 2nd Lieut.L.BROOKS, 2nd Lieut.W.R.Bridges [William Robert BRIDGES], 2nd Lieut.R.J.Thomas [Reginald James THOMAS], Lieut.G.ARTHUR RAMC . Other Ranks Killed: 48, Died of Wounds - 9, Wounded - 108, Missing - 16 In the evening all available men were withdrawn and taken down to HAMEL, refitted and moved into position in Station Road, close to BEAUCOURT Road
14/11/16: Beaucourt Sector Bn acted as carrying parties for taking bombs, sand bags etc. up to BEAUCOURT 4 pm - Bn withdrew to our original second line (ROBERTS TRENCH) and reorganized there
15/11/16: Roberts Trench Bn remained in ROBERTS TRENCH
16/11/16: Bn moved to bivouacs & huts on ENGLEBELMER-MARTINSART road
17/11/16: Bn assisted to clear the battlefield and bury the killed. Lieut.L.T.Despicht [Leonard Terry DESPICHT, MC] takes over duties of A/Adjutant Lieut.A.J.Clarke [Alan Jardine CLARKE] assumes command of A Company Lieut.G.F.Wray [George Frederic WRAY] assumes command ob B Company Lieut.E.C.Wilson [Eric Chilver WILSON] assumes command of D Company
18/11/16: Martinsart 8 am - Bn proceeded in motor omnibuses to LONGUEVILLETTE
19/11/16: Longuevillette 9.30 am - Bn proceeded to HEUZECOURT by route march
20/11/16: Heuzecourt Bn inspected by Divisional Commander (Maj.Gen.C.D.Shute CB)
21/11/16: Heuzecourt 9 am - Bn proceeded to DOMLEGER by route march
22/11/16: Domleger 11 am - Bn proceeded to NOYELLES-en-CHAUSSEE by route march
23/11/16: Noyelles-en-Chaussee 9 am - Bn proceeded to Lamotte-Buleux by route march
24/11/16: Lamotte-Buleux Bn proceeded to NOUVION-EN-PONTHIEU (J.S.Collings-Wells, Major [John Stanhope COLLINGS-WELLS, VC, DSO], Commanding).
WAR DIARY FOR DECEMBER 1916
1st & 2nd NOUVION-EN-PONTHIEU. Platoon and Section training.
3rd. Inspection of Bn. by Brig. Gen. W.G.C. HENEKER, DSO, ADC.
4th. Brigade Field Day. 2nd Lt. G. McKIRDY [Gilles McKIRDY] joined for duty.
5th to 9th. Section and Platoon training.
10th. T/Major J.S. COLLINGS-WELLS [John Stanhope COLLINGS-WELLS, VC, DSO] to be A/Lieut-Colonel from Oct. 20 '16 while commanding a battalion.
11th. Brigade route march.
12th to 16th. Company training .
12th. Lieut. W.H. BARNETT, DSO [William Harold Louis BARNETT, DSO, MID] 4/Bedf. Rgt, joined for duty and assumed command of B Coy.
18th. Brigade route march.
19th to 23rd. Company and some Battalion training. 19th. T/Lieut. A.J. CLARKE [Alan Jardine CLARKE] to Field Ambulance and relinquished command of A Coy. Lieut. W.H. BARNETT D.S.O. [William Harold Louis BARNETT, DSO, MID] assumed command of A Coy. and relinquished command of B Coy. T/Lieut. G.F. WRAY [George Frederick WRAY] assumed command of B Coy.
26th to 30th. Battalion training.
30th. Captain P DRAYSON [Phillip DRAYSON] 1st Herts. Regt. (T.F.) and 2/Lt F.G.A. THOMPSON [Fredrick Charles Alex THOMPSON] 4th/Bedf. Regt joined for duty.
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