The Bedfordshire Regiment in the Great War
1917 War Diary
[Note that all remarks in squared brackets are my own additions and not part of the original text]
War Diary for January 1917
1 Jan 1917 - Geneffe Railhead Battalion [comment - overwritten in original] concentrated at PT 250 east of Railhead. Junior Officers Class started today.
2 Jan 1917 Post routine & Junior Officers class. Heavy rain at intervals through day & night.
3 Jan 1917 Fatigues in connection with impending move. Heavy rain at intervals
4 Jan 1917 Battalion (less detachments) left Railhead at 0945. Move postponed 45 mins owing to rain. Battalion less detachments [comment - mentioned in Appendix A] arrived SHALLUFA & bivouacked in huts for night. Rain at intervals.
5 Jan 1917 - Shallufa, Kubri Battalion, less detachments, left SHALLUFA at 0900 for KUBRI. C.O & Adj who rode ahead were met by assistant Bde Major 1 mile E of KUBRI & given verbal orders to concentrate Battalion at KUBRI which were subsequently confirmed in writing. C Coy arrived in accordance with Appendix A. B Coy was kept at KUBRI. A & D Coys were informed by Bde & arrangements made to relieve them on 6th.
6 Jan 1917 - Kubri B & C coys engaged on fatigues connected with forming Battalion dump at KUBRI WEST siding (see Appendix B) & Post duties. A & D Coys arrived by lighter & route march at about 1700 from KABRIT & SHALLUFA & OLDHAM, GENEFFE RAILHEAD & GENEFFE respectively.
7 Jan 1917 CHURCH PARADE. Move orders No.1 issued in accordance with Appendix B.
8 Jan 1917 Fatigues & work in connection with move, tents struck & baggage dump completed.
9 Jan 1917 - SUEZ CAMP Battalion moved by March Route to SUEZ Camp leaving 0845. Arrived 0950 bivouacked on strip of ground & had use of 2 tents for men, day spent in fatigues & cleaning up.
10 Jan 1917 Batt clothing inspection of drill, helmets & web equipment by C.O.O. Suez. Fatigues tent pitching & baggage carting.
11 Jan 1917 Batt training on ground N.W. of Camp. Attack practice & the use of different formations for different purposes.
12 Jan 1917 Coy training, signalling & Lewis Gun classes.
13 Jan 1917 Coy drill, C.O.'s lecture on "Communications in field" P.R.I's lecture to Coys in War Saving Certificates
14 Jan 1917 Church Parade (with rest of 162 Bde) at 0900. HOLY COMMUNION in Regtl institute 1000.
15 Jan 1917 Coy training & specialist sections at their own work.
16 Jan 1917 Batt training. Practice attack from about 4000 yds, one coy & 1 Coy LG section pushed ahead to cover main attack which came from remainder on a flank.
17 Jan 1917 Bde route march about 12 1/2 route.
18 Jan 1917 Battalion training attack from 5000 yds one coy detailed to cover advance of rest.
19 Jan 1917 Bde training: attack with imaginary Bdes on either flank
20 Jan 1917 Batt drill & half holiday.
21 Jan 1917 Church Parade (with rest of 162 Bde) at 0930. HOLY COMMUNION in regtl institute 0900.
22 Jan 1917 Batt training attack practice.
23 Jan 1917 Bde field day. Attack & pursuit. Batt in reserve.
24 Jan 1917 Bde route march 5 hours. (1 man in Batt fell out only).
25 Jan 1917 Coy training & interior economy.
26 Jan 1917 Batt training.
27 Jan 1917 Battalion drill half holiday
28 Jan 1917 Church Parade. HOLY COMMUNION 10.30. Orders to prepare for move came about noon, preliminary organisation took place.
29 Jan 1917 Tent striking & forming battalion dumps, issuing rations & general preparations.
30 Jan 1917 - KANTARA Move by train to KANTARA leaving Suez 08.25 arrived 12.40 entered standing camp 3/4 hours march from Station.
31 Jan 1917 C.O.s inspection, bathing parades, preparations for move next day.
War Diary for February 1917
1 Feb 1917 - Kantara Battalion, with rest of 162 Bde & details, marched to a point near Kilo 18 on the KANTARA - ROMANI road, from KANTARA & Bivouacked
2 Feb 1917 Battalion continued march to PELUSIUM SIDING on railway KANTARA to ROMANI
3 Feb 1917 - Romani Battalion continued march to ROMANI & bivouacked in the camp. Baggage fatigues. [Comment; 2/Lt Leonard Leader BRERETON joined]
4 Feb 1917 Church Parade 10.00 HOLY COMMUNION 0700
5 Feb 1917 - Romani and Mohamdiya 75% of the Battalion marched to MOHAMDIYA for a bathe & picnic rest stayed at ROMANI
6 Feb 1917 25% of the Battalion did as yesterday, 75% at disposal of O.C.Coys
7 Feb 1917 - Romani Coys at disposal of O.C. Coys for Coy training
8 Feb 1917 Coys at disposal of O.C. Coys for interior economy
9 Feb 1917 - Rabah Marched to RABAH. Left ROMANI 14.30 arrived 1700 bivouacked with rest of Bde
10 Feb 1917 - Kirbah Marched to KIRBAH. Left RABAH 0830 arrived at bivouack 11.45
11 Feb 1917 - Bir el Abd Marched to BIR EL ABD & bivouacked. Left 0830 arrived 11.30. From about 1700 to 2000 there was brilliant lightning & some thunder later during the night but especially about 2300 there was heavy rain & some hail
12 Feb 1917 - Salmana Marched to SALMANA & bivouacked. Lefty BIR EL ABD 0808 arrived SALMANA 1035. Showers during afternoon
13 Feb 1917 - Tilul Marched to TILUL & bivouacked. Left 0804, arrived 1200. weather fine
14 Feb 1917 - Maza Marched to MAZA & bivouacked left 0802 arrived 11.50, baggage fatigues & tent pitching
15 Feb 1917 Coys at disposal of Coy Commanders for interior economy. Working parades, Quinine tablet parades & inspections. During the last few days on the march a number of dead animals have been noticed on the line of march - 5 camels & 2 oxen yesterday - These have caused a great number of flies at the bivouacks.
16 Feb 1917 Coys at disposal of Coy Commanders. 2 coys under Capt James [Christopher Russell JAMES, MC] found an outpost line to protect Bde bivouack.
17 Feb 1917 Coys at disposal of Coy Commanders. 2 hour route march for bad marchers.
18 Feb 1917 HOLY COMMUNION 0700, 0745, 10.30 Church Parade 9.30 Voluntary service 1715
19 Feb 1917 All Officers & N.C.O.s except where otherwise stated under C.O. for lectures & teaching on Outposts. Rest of battalion under Adj., R.S.M. & 4 CSMs & M.O. for route march & practice in "HOSTILE AIRCRAFT IN FOUR FILES EXTEND"
20 Feb 1917 Orders received to move to MAADAN next day, tent striking & fatigues in connection with Train echelon baggage
21 Feb 1917 - Maadan Marched to MAADAN, left 0822 arrived 1145 & bivouacked
22 Feb 1917 - Bardawil Marched to BARDAWIL & bivouacked left 0800 arrived 1150
23 Feb 1917 - El Arish Marched to EL ARISH & took over vacant standing camp from our advanced party left 0816 arrived 13.10 during march battalion did "in 4 files extend" owing to a hostile aircraft, which however was not observed. Through order came from front of Bde column
24 Feb 1917 Bathing Parades, interior economy & Bde fatigues
25 Feb 1917 Digging trenches clear of sand, which had blown into them after completion
26 Feb 1917 Clearing trenches of sand & cleaning of camp. Bathing parades & interior economy
27 Feb 1917 Marking out Camp area & cleaning it
28 Feb 1917 Marking out Camp areas & cleaning it Note. Most of the places named appear on the 1/250,000 map PORT SAID; but the railway sidings near which the battalion mostly bivouacked & which bore the names in the margin, were often several miles from the name on the map referred to & some were not shown at all
War Diary for March 1917
1 Mar 1917 - el Arish Coys at disposal of Coy Commanders. C.O. made reconnaissance before issuing ALARM ORDER No.1. C.O., 2nd i/c & 4 O.C. Coys attended Div gas lecture
2 Mar 1917 Practice of Alarm Order No.1
3 Mar 1917 CO's inspection, lecture, guard mounting & fatigues
4 Mar 1917 Church Parade 0900 HOLY COMMUNION 1000
5 Mar 1917 Digging trenches (part of the defence scheme) near hill 7. Half Battalion went for 4 1/2 hours route march
6 Mar 1917 Battalion, less specialists continued digging. Specialists trained
7 Mar 1917 Striking camp, getting train echelon to station & fatigues
8 Mar 1917 - El Burj Marched to EL BURJ with 162 Bde group & bivouacked
9 Mar 1917 Batt started being inoculated against cholera. fatigues under Bde orders & dugouts were constructed in case of Hostile aircraft - Appendix B - The usual pattern for a platoon was 10 dugouts 5 in front & 5 in rear each to hold 3 men - Specialists were apart from their platoons - each dugout was a square hole about 6ft 6in x 5ft 6in x 3ft between each hole a traverse of 4ft was left & between each platoon 10ft
10 Mar 1917 Battalion finished inoculation & digging in. CO's lecture to NCOs. Sandstorm during afternoon & early in the morning
11 Mar 1917 HOLY COMMUNION 0730 & 0900. NO CHURCH PARADE owing to very severe dust storm
12 Mar 1917 Severe dust storm, heavy rain during morning. Specialist training
13 Mar 1917 Weather fine. C & D coys went for 4 hour route march A & B cleared up camp [Comment; 2/Lts Ernest Edward DENNIS and Ernest Arthur PHILLIPS joined]
14 Mar 1917 A & B coys went for 4 hour route march C & D cleared up camp. Tactical exercise for Lewis Guns, snipers & scouts
15 Mar 1917 Dust storm, cleaning batt area. Specialist & Coy training
16 Mar 1917 Fine weather, cleaning camp area, field firing by new draft & snipers & Lewis Guns
17 Mar 1917 4 hours Route March for all those who have not previously been in the week. Completion of cleaning up camp area: C.O. & mounted officers went for a "staff ride" to prepare for a Bde outpost scheme
18 Mar 1917 HOLY COMMUNION 0730 & 0945. Church Parade 0900 & 2100
19 Mar 1917 Batt went on Bde outpost scheme at 0730: received orders to return to Camp tomorrow
20 Mar 1917 - Sheikh Zowaid Batt with 162 Bde group moved to SHEIK ZOWAID. Left 1700 arrived 2000
21 Mar 1917 Fatigues & bathing in the sea
22 Mar 1917 Bathing parades. Gas drill
23 Mar 1917 Bathing parades. Gas drill 24
Mar 1917 - Rafa Moved with Bde to RAFA: left 0812 arrived 1305. The battalion with 1/11th London & section 162 MG Coy found Div outposts at 1700
25 Mar 1917 - Beni Sela and Inseirat Batt moved with Bde group at 0455 to BENI SELA, arriving 0740, moved at 1622 to INSEIRAT with water & cooking camels only. Remainder of camels had gone on during the moving to INSEIRAT to dump their load & draw extra rations. Batt arrived at INSEIRAT at 2130
26 Mar 1917 - [Comment; The 1st Battle of Gaza] Sharta Moved [unreadable] SHARTA [unreadable] arriving 1045 2015 Batt with 1/11th LONDON moved along track leading towards GAZA 1 mile and took up an outpost line in extension of the right flank & to the SOUTH of the 53rd Div both the outposts connecting up with ESSEX BDE who had been lent to 53rd Div during the afternoon's fighting. In position 2155 (approx), quiet night
27 Mar 1917 Moved into Day position at 0445. At about 0645 orders were issued in accordance with 162 Bde orders for Batt to concentrate, this was completed partly under shell fire, about noon at a point bearing 220 degrees true from TEL EL ARMAR. 2150 Batt marched in Bde to INSEIRAT bivouacked 0025. Passed Bde starting point at 2200 owing to camels being away & animals at watering. Reserve SAA & Medical Panniers were buried Lewis gun & signal equipment carried on man. During day iron rations were consumed
28 Mar 1917 Rested in bivouack till 1700 when the battalion took over a section of the outpost line to the camp; all quiet
29 Mar 1917 D Coy on outpost on readjustment of line were relieved at 1700 & batt moved to bivouack area
30 Mar 1917 Digging part of general defence line, gas lectures & drill. Bathing. A Coy on outposts
31 Mar 1917 Gas lectures & drill, bathing. A Coy relieved 1700 from outposts
War Diary for April 1917
1 Apr 1917 - Inseirat Holy Communion 0700 & 1000. Church parade 0900. Gas drill, Bathing, Fatigues draft of 1 officer & 147 O.Rs arrived from ROMANI.
2 Apr 1917 Battalion for 3 parties of 300 men & officers for work on road formation. 1700 Gas drill. B Coy left camp 1700 for covering party to RE working party.
3 Apr 1917 0245 B coy returned with nothing to report. Gas drill & marching. 0700 C coy left camp as covering party returned 1705. 1700 D coy went out as working party. Camp routine.
4 Apr 1917 0140 D coy returned nothing to report. 0700 A coy went out returned 1700 1715 C coy went out as covering party. Camp routine.
5 Apr 1917 0240 C coy returned 0700 B coy left as covering party. D coy left as digging party to dig in naval 'phone line. Returned 1710. 1700 A coy left as covering party
6 Apr 1917 0240 A coy returned with nothing to report. 0700 C coy left as covering party. Returned 1700. Being GOOD FRIDAY rest of battalion attended Church parade at 0900. 1715 D coy went out on covering party returned 2230
7 Apr 1917 0700 B coy found covering party which returned 1700. A & C found working parties [Comment; Battalion Medical Officer Captain Richard Harold Cotter PRYN, RAMC arrived]
8 Apr 1917 0245 A & C returned. HOLY COMMUNION 0600. EASTER DAY. Church parade 0800. 0830 B & D found working parties which returned 1530
9 Apr 1917 0740 A coy found working party & returned 1715. Routine work in camp.
10 Apr 1917 0700 B & C found working parties for 486 Field Coy RE, out 0700 returned 1715. D & A coy found covering party to 484 & 486 Fld Coy RE. Parties returned about 0200 11th.
11 Apr 1917 C.O. took mounted officers for a reconnaisance. 0700 B coy found working party which returned 1600. Camp routine.
12 Apr 1917 Camp routine coy training C.O. & adj reconnoitred ground E of SHEIKH NEBAW
13 Apr 1917 Camp routine & training
14 Apr 1917 1000 GOC 54th Div inspected coys training C.O. & adj & 2 coy commanders reconnoitred ground on DORSET HOUSE side of WADI NUKABIR, with a view to intended advance 1030 C.O's conference at Bde HQ. Camp routine.
15 Apr 1917 0700 HOLY COMMUNION. C.O. adj OCA & B coys Lieut. Taitt [Noel Rothwell TAITT, MC] & MGO of 162 MG Coy reconnoitred same ground as yesterday. Camp routine.
16 Apr 1917 Morning spent in preparation for a move forward. Packing kits, inspections issuing extra rations & stores. Afternoon everyone not on duty rested. 1900 From 1900 silence to 2400, for A B & D coys. C coy moved out at 2200 crossing C 14 of WADI GHUZZE & took up a position in T4 to cover concentration of Bde at DORSET HOUSE
17 Apr 1917 - Mansura Ridge 0105 Batt less one coy moved up Wadi NUKABIR [owing to the action of the weather on the carbon duplicate taken at the time the next 3 lines are illegible] 0640 About 0640 the batt had secured a line about 600 yds long on MANSURA RIDGE & was consolidating it; C Coy was drawn out into reserve & the line from right to left dug & held by A B & C coys.
18 Apr 1917 day passed with intermittent shell fire.
19 Apr 1917 [Comment: The 2nd Battle of Gaza] 0530 General attack commenced. Batt closed into Bde reserve after the attack had gone through. 0740 D coy were thrown in to try to make touch with 10th London & 4th Northants. 1340 D coy got touch with Northants & advanced as far as possible. 1830 Heavy shell & MG fire stopped progress. During the night the whole of the battalion were thrown in to take up a trench line. This was completed about 2100, the Batt holding about 1500 yds of rifle pits; each to hold 7 men at intervals of 25 paces. The night passed without incident (Casualties for the day, 2 officers wounded, Lieut H. Wilkin [Hugh WILKIN, MC] & 2nd Lieut L.L. Brereton [Leonard Leader BRERETON] who died of his wounds 10 days after & about 40 ORs killed wounded & missing.
20 Apr 1917 Batt distributed CDAB from about W.20.D.2.9. to W.13.c.8.9. some snipers & shelling during the day but hardly any damage done. Digging & wiring continued at night.
21 Apr 1917 0500 Touch found with 10th LONDON Regt on left & 161 Bde on right. 1900 At night a new line was taken up & wired old trenches being filled in & wire rolled up.
22 Apr 1917 - Sheikh Abbas New line from 2nd H of SHEIKH ABBAS to Wadi near 20A.8.2. day passed without incident digging at night
23 Apr 1917 2045 Day passed without incident except that an enemy patrol fired a burst of rapid fire from about 1250 yds. Light signals during this were: 1 green 3 white 1 green near the beginning of burst & 2 red when firing ceased.
24 Apr 1917 Day passed without incident. Some shelling, sniping & counter sniping. Our snipers claimed 2 hits.
25 Apr 1917 1800 The batt was relieved in the trenches by 1/11th LONDON Regt. Coys withdrew to position in rear of lip of SHEIKH ABBAS ridge behind the line the batt had held.
26 Apr 1917 0730 Found digging party of 250 for road making 0730-1130. In the evening all coys dug on their dug outs deep refuse & latrine pits were started & terraced for dugouts & paths cut in the sides of the lip which is nearly precipitous in this neighbourhood.
27 Apr 1917 Work continued as yesterday & in addition a party worked at Bde HQ of 60
28 Apr 1917 Work continued as before & shelters were erected with the supply of iron & timber which became available.
29 Apr 1917 HOLY COMMUNION, work continued, Regtl aid post started [Comment; 2/Lt Leonard Leader BRERETON died of wounds today]
30-31 Apr 1917 Work continued on roads, dugouts, shelters, sanitation & in the evening on the trench line
War Diary for May 1917
1 May 1917 - Sheikh Abbas Bivouack routine & work on dugouts during the morning and afternoon 1800 our coys began to relieve the 4 coys of the 1/11th LONDON Regt in the right sector 162 Brigade line. the Batt relief was complete by 1950. the line from right to left was held by D, A, B & C Coys. 8 L.G.s re-sited & dugouts begun
2 May 1917 0300 Coy patrols pushed out to line of Wadi W.14 & 21 2230 Quiet day. At 2230 officer's patrol left W.20.A went N to W.8.C where enemy picquet was found. Nothing more was ascertained
3 May 1917 2200 Quiet day, Officer's patrols with 4 ARMENIAN (deserters) left our line at W.20.B & went N to W.8.B. They located an enemy working party driving in stakes (covered by a covering party). Armenians failed to get in touch with Turks.
4 May 1917 0005 Officer's patrol left line at 2nd H of SHEIKH & proceeded NE, crossed SNIPER'S RIDGE left Wadi in W.21 on their left & reached slope before NORFOLK TRENCHES. No enemy seen but heard at work. Returned about 0200 1645 Quiet day anticipatory orders received for change of sectors 2000 Patrol to NORTHAMPTON RIDGE. Brought in identification particulars of 1 officer & 12 O.Rs not previously known. The day passed very quietly with nothing to report
5 May 1917 At 1930 a small salvage party went out to a point about 100 NE of Road in W.23 & recovered among other things 6 boxes SAA, 71 sets equipment, 5 L.E. Rifles & 3 identity discs from bodies. An officer patrol left our line at the same time & went to road in W.15.C & found the Turks at work under cover of 2 picquets. Meanwhile a salvage party working under cover of this patrol on NORTHAMPTON Mound collected from bodies the identity disc of 2 officers & 30 O.Rs belonging to various units 2000 An officer's patrol proceeded to a point 1300 yds N.N.E from our line & found the enemy working between ROCKY CREST & BROWN PATCH 2135 An officer's patrol went to a point 800 yds N. of our lines, where they were held up by enemy fire it then being bright moonlight. They returned at 2415
6 May 1917 Nothing to report during the day, except a few shrapnel shells fired at our new communicating trenches as though TURK was registering 2000 4th ESSEX relieved C coy in the line 2100 5th ESSEX relieved A B & D coys. The battalion moved by coys to a position in support of the left of the 162 Bde new sector thus relieving part of the 156 Bde
7 May 1917 - Mansura Ridge 0010 Last convoy of stores arrived from old bivouacks. For a large part of this night digging was proceeded with as the new bivouacks had a reputation for being heavily shelled. Latrines were dug as a temporary measure till the camels arrived with the buckets & seats. During the day & for 4 hours of the night digging continued
8 May 1917 Digging continued. The work on the bivouack terraces & dugouts during the day. At night 240 men (60 per coy) started to dig 230 yds of communication trench from 1900-2100
9 May 1917 Routine as yesterday. A & B coys attended a gas demonstration near DOREST HOUSE & all passed through the gas in a satisfactory way
10 May 1917 Routine as yesterday, C & D attended gas demonstration. Digging 7 hours during day
11 May 1917 Routine as yesterday, details attended gas demonstration
12 May 1917 Routine as yesterday, but orders having been received to relieve 1/11th LONDON coy commanders met LONDON coy commanders & orders as Appendix A were issued 1815 Coys filed into trenches in order from Right to left A B C & C & took over from day group of 1/11th LONDONS who withdrew into support bivouacks. Relief was reported complete at 1950. Each coy front consists of 27 firebays each capable of holding about 10 men if full. In the battalion line 4 MGs 8 LGs (of ours) & 4 Stokes guns.
13 May 1917 0450 The night passed quietly - the front was reported all clear at dawn by coy commanders patrols, day passed without incident though groups of camels were observed on the GAZA - BEERSHEBA Rd. C battery 265 Bde of Howitzers took on one convoy at a range of 6500 yds but was observed to be 200 yds short by our forward O.P. During morning a signaller, who was mending a line outside a communication trench behind front line was sniped from about 1400 yds & killed [comment; Pte 200870 George PRATT of Charlton, Beds]. The C.O. made a personal reconnaissance of the ground across our front for about 800yds out & decided that only one observation post was necessary to watch Batt front. 1930 Officers patrol left fire at R.17.C.5.8 on bearing of 37 degrees (true) to Little CACTUS GARDEN & returned 2300. Three groups were seen & fire from a fourth drawn.
14 May 1917 0705 Night was quiet, 0705 20 enemy seen filing from left to right of CACTUS HEDGE B/272 informed & several rounds of shrapnel fired which caused them to disappear. 0800, 0950, 1000 Convoys, out of range, seen on GAZA - BEERSHEBA Rd during day the dead ground from 400yds to 700 yds in front of our line was registered by the 3 supporting batteries with a view to night firing 2200 Officer's patrol left for ground to NE of CACTUS Hedge, but owing to intense darkness could find out nothing & returned about 0200
15 May 1917 0630 A new enemy battery (about 4.2" calibre) began to register & fired 5 rounds within a radius of 50yds of the Batt HQ. No shelling near our trenches. One shell pitched onto the bank of earth heaped in front of one of the "Terraces" of B coy's bivouack on which 12 men were having breakfast at the time. The only casualty was a slight scalp wound caused by a piece of earth. The system this unit has found satisfactory of getting protection from shell fire on a slope is roughly shown below [comment; diagram not attached] The slope is cut perpendicular (AB) to a depth of 10ft BC is flat & earth heaped up at C as shown in Fig 2. An "undercut" dugout is made at B (Fig 2). The dugouts BE did not need to be supported in most cases as the ground was very hard, if the roof was well arched as in fig.3. The shell in question pitched about D & buried itself in the earth before exploding the men were sitting on the terrace BC. 1900 Officer's patrol to 500yds NE of Cactus hedge found 3 of our bodies.
16 May 1917 0640, 0852, 1415 Camel convoys on the GAZA-Beersheba Rd all came under fire of our guns. 2100 Officer's patrol under Bde orders left line at W.19.d & proceeded to CACTUS GARDEN. They selected a site considered suitable for the starting point for an attack by 2 coys on the GARDEN, about 550yds SE of garden & 300yds E of Road. The approach to this was a double wire laid back to the MENDUR Rd and returned 0239 on 17th
17 May 1917 0200 Patrol of 1 officer & 20 O.Rs proceeded to a point 800 SE of CACTUS Hedge & remained out all day. As opportunity offered they changed their position from time to time, being sniped at every now & then. At dusk many snipers got out of the grass & went for the garden, as though they rested there during the night. 0530 An enemy working party of about 200 was observed about 600yds N.W. of CACTUS GARDEN. B/272 opened fire & got 4 shots of 7 into the party which scattered. The rest of the day passed without incident.
18 May 1917 The day passed without incident & except for the usual convoys in the distance little was seen. About 1800 several small parties of enemy came out from ALI MUNTAR & disappeared in trenches about 500yds N of CACTUS GARDEN. During day the supporting Batteries C/2659 B/272 were engaged in gapping the wire on Outpost Hill & registering the gaps. 2000 The Battalion was relieved by 25th R.W.F. [comment; this unit did not serve in the MEF - should be 1/5 RWF?] and moved into bivouack area previously occupied by 7th R.W.F. Note on daily routine. During the whole period that the Battalion was in support to the 11th LONDON working parties were found of a strength to employ. The whole Battalion less necessary specialists worked at communication trenches for 3 to 4 hours each night, cutting a considerable length of new trench & opening up to allow stretchers to pass, another long length. The whole battalion was employed for about 4 hours a day - generally between 0700 & 1100 - on erecting terraces & dug outs of the pattern alluded to & also in building splintered roof verandahs on the terraces. as in Fig 3. made of 2 strips of corrugated iron supported by upright timber beam XY & horizontal beams XW. On the roof was 2 sandbags round edge with earth & tufts of grass in the centre. During the period that the Battalion was in the front line trenches 6 hours work a day was performed usually from 0700-0900 & from 1900-2300. This work consisted chiefly in reconstructing fire bays, levelling parapets & heaped up traverses, widening & deepening the communication ways behind the firestep & constructing deep dugouts & coy H.Q.s. As will be seen there has been a considerable amount of sickness & a very large proportion of this id due to slight abrasions got while digging and at other times becoming septic. It was found useful for each coy HQ to keep a bottle of iodine & some cotton wool & orders were issued that any man who grazed himself, however slightly, was at once to be iodized.
19 May 1917 The day was spent in settling into new bivouacks which consisted of about 200yds of gully with 4 small branches about 40yds long off it & the flat ground between these arms. During the day & the next few days, much sanitary work including the erection of incinerators, latrines, washing baths & areas & the dugouts were sprayed with fly solution. The Battalion with the 1/11th LONDON Regt & 1st HEREFORD Regt & 6th R.W.F. were all in the same area & were placed under the orders of GOC 53rd Div in general reserve - organised for tactical purposes as a composite Bde under command of the Batt C.O. - Lt.Col E.W.BRIGHTEN C.M.G.
20 May 1917 0730 CHURCH PARADE with 1/11th LONDON Regt. HOLY COMMUNION 10.30. Working parties had been ordered by 53rd Div. but these were cancelled in view of a KHAMSENE or hot dusty wind which made the weather too hot for work.
21 May 1917 Working parties were found under orders of 162 Bde to construct Bde HQ for 162 Bde which expects to come into residence in its new area on the night of 25th/26th.
22 May 1917 Working parties were found under 53rd Div orders for work on making the new wire road to C14 crossing & near PICCADILLY CIRCUS. Work continued at Bde H.Q. no of man hours worked in day 2245
23 May 1917 Working parties under 53rd Div & 162 Bde orders were provided on similar tasks to those performed yesterday. "Man hours" worked 1500. In nearly all instances the work was a considerable distance away & the parties took from 50 mins to 1 1/2 hours in marching to & from work.
24 May 1917 Working parties continued as yesterday. Man hours 1740. During the day work continued in bivouack on making baths of sandbags, covered with W.P. sheets for the men. 1 gallon of water was allotted to 3 men who were enabled by washing themselves first & their straining off the soapsuds in a straw "trap" to wash their clothes also.
25 May 1917 Camp routine & working parties at new bde HQ. 1900 162 Bde HQ moved to the area & the Batt passed under its orders from those of the COMPOSITE Bde of 53rd Div. Lt Col E.W.BRIGHTEN CMG - in the absence of the GOC in hospital assumed command of the 162 Bde, handing over command of this unit to Capt C.R. James [Christopher Russell JAMES].
26 May 1917 Camp routine & work at Bde HQ.
27 May 1917 WHITSUNDAY. HOLY COMMUNION 0615. Church parade 0730. Voluntary service 1800. A & B coys marched to sea at mouth of WADI GHUZZE & spent the day bathing & resting
28 May 1917 Working party under 495 Coy RE;s of 376 all ranks. One coy was being inoculated for T.A.B. otherwise this was the digging strength of the battalion. Pow-wow for C.Os at Bde HQ at 1000. Train echelon kit brought up to unit from DEIR-EL-BELAH
29 May 1917 1000 C.O. adj & 4 OC coys reconnoitred the approaches to SHEIKH ABBAS salient from bivouack with a view to reinforcing it if ordered to do so by Reserve Commander. Training in signalling bombing & Lewis guns.
30 May 1917 Classes of bombing, signalling, sanitation, stretcher bearers were started under coy & batt. arrangements. Some 75 men who needed it went to the 54th Div San Section & were disinfected. T.A.B.1 inoculation which started 2 days previously was continued.
31 May 1917 Specialist training continued. Battalion being on Bde duty found guards & fatigues as ordered. Inoculation continued. This completes 3/4 of the battalion's annual TAB inoculation first dose
Average Daily Sick Average daily sick for 1st week 75 all ranks Average daily sick for 2nd week 110 all ranks Average daily sick for 3rd week 105 all ranks Average daily sick for 4th week 122 all ranks Average daily sick MONTH 102 all ranks Max number of sick on 20th 208 all ranks Minimum number of sick on 2nd 56 all ranks
War Diary for June 1917
1 Jun 1917 - Sheikh Abbas Camp routine. Last batch of T.A.B. 1 inoculations completed: Training in bombing (on a basis if 4 sections of 1 NCO & 7 men per coy), Lewis Guns (on a basis of 4 sections of 1 NCO & 6 men per coy), Sanitary & signalling & stretcher-bearing with first aid, continued under officer & NCO instructors
2 Jun 1917 As yesterday. Digging parties of 2 officers & 80 O.Rs were found for wire road mending
3 Jun 1917 HOLY COMMUNION 0615 & 0815. Church parade 0700. Voluntary service 1730. TRINITY SUNDAY
4 Jun 1917 Training as per programme outlined. Routine work in camp
5 Jun 1917 Training as yesterday. A section of the "sealed-pattern" trench employed by this battalion was constructed & bad shots were practised is assuming the correct position for firing at suitable aiming marks over the parapet.
6 Jun 1917 Training continued as yesterday. Men being trained in 2 of D coy's bombing sections & some of A coy's threw live bombs
7 Jun 1917 Training continued. The CO & adj rode to the bivouacks area of the 7th Royal Scots. Orders had been received that the 54th Div was to take over the area held by the 52nd Division on the night of the 12th/13th 8 following nights. This unit has been ordered to form left subsection reserve to the Div & for the purpose will be attached to the 163rd Bde on arrival at the new defences. The distribution of the battalion will be given later. A lecture on "Horse & Mule Management" was given by the ADVS at Bde H.Q. to all officers.
8 Jun 1917 Training continued. Live bombs thrown by rest of A & D coys' bombing sections. Further reconnaissance of the new position by C.O & Adj. Lecture by ADVS on "diseases of horses & mules", for all officers.
9 Jun 1917 Training continued C.O. adj., OSC A, B, C & D coys visited new area. Lecture on "sanitation" by D.A.D.M.S. for all officers. Demonstration & Lecture on "carrier pigeons" for all officers & some signallers
10 Jun 1917 HOLY COMMUNION 0630. Church parade 0500. Voluntary service 1730. C.O. Adj. M.O. T.O. & QM visited new line
11 Jun 1917 Training continued. All heavy baggage & Train Echelon kit dumped at QM Stores by 1200, Great coats in bundles by 10s by coys. Advance parties of 1 Officer & 1 O.R. per coy & HQ reported before dusk to the new unit & spent the next 24 hours in taking over trench stores allotting bivouacks & dugouts & generally preparing for the Battalion. 1800 Camels carried the dump to the new quarters under the escort of 1 NCO & 2 O.Rs per HQ & Coy. 2100 Owing to a raid having been timed about 2100 on the left of the left section, heavy rifle & artillery fire was going on when the convoy approached the new position & the camels were accordingly barracked for 4 hours & thus avoid loss from "overs"
12 Jun 1917 - Merioneth Redoubt, Flint Redoubt, Welch Redoubt The day was spent in rest apart from necessary fatigues connected with the move. 1900 the battalion moved off at 1900 & moved without incident to the "T-PIECE" a name given by this unit to the fork in the wire road in O.36.D.6.5. Here guides from advance parties took over the coys & HQ & led them to their new positions. Rations, water & light kit were brought by camels during the night to HQ where the coys sent necessary guides. 2130 The relief was complete. 155 Bde to whom the 1/5th Bedfords were attached being lent by 162 Bde for the purpose, was in command of the left sub sector. the Battalion was distributed in the second or redoubt line in support to the firing line of the left sub sector, left section. A coy held MERIONETH Redoubt, D coy FLINT REDOUBT & C coy WELCH REDOUBT. B coy in reserve at Batt HQ. Detachments of MG coys were also in the redoubts. During the night a number of "overs" from enemy rifle & m.g. fire aimed at our front line, fell in the bivouack area at H.Q. 1 Pte, 1 Native camel driver & Camel were wounded.
13 Jun 1917 During the day work continued on men's bivouacks & redoubts. 1900 B Coy was detached & lent to 1/4 NORFOLK Regt under 163 Bde orders & were employed to form 3 local supports to the 3 coys of NORFOLKS in the right of the Bde line.
14 Jun 1917 Work continued at the redoubts which are all very incomplete a list or work to be done & work completed will be given in appendix A. Working parties of 100 were sent to each redoubt from the reserve div to help. [Comment; Lt & Quartermaster Gerald Owen Lydekker died of Myasthenia Gravis at the Hadra Hospital In Alexandria]
15 Jun 1917 1300 B Coy was sent to train for 16 days at the 54th Div Coy training camp. A composite coy of 1/4th NORTHANTS & DEVON Regt men were sent to replace them. One man was hit by an over at night in the HQ cookhouse. A barricade of sandbags was erected near the cookhouse & near the place where the camels unload at night this gives the men protection. G.O.C. 54th Div inspected left section, including the redoubts held by this unit. Work continued during the day on the redoubts
16 Jun 1917 Work continued as yesterday. Everything has continued to be very quiet. Most days about 4 shells = "PIPSQUEAKS" - of about 15lb Field gun type are sent over FLINT REDOUBT & one or two near WELCH REDOUBT, but so far no one has been hit by their shrapnel. During the hours of darkness a certain number of "overs" come near batt HQ bivouacks, but these are less frequent than on arrival & barricades of sandbags & an order issued to keep men not on duty in their bivouacks, have prevented any more casualties.
17 Jun 1917 Routine as usual. A latrine has been constructed on the beach and a bathing area allotted for use of the troops of thus unit. As this is in view of "SEA POST" an enemy work about 1500 yds away parties are limited to 12 at a time. A bathing picquet is told off in case of accidents. The ground on which the battalion now is, is a series of sand dunes& there is nearly always a cool breeze from the sea. In consequence the health of the troops has greatly improved since arrival as will be seen from the numbers of sick shown in Appendix B.
18 Jun 1917 Work & Routine as yesterday.
19 Jun 1917 Routine as yesterday. Usual working parties from reserve. A quantity of hurdles 5' x 5' covered in matting arrived for the erection of bivouacks for the men & were erected as in sketch [sketch in text]
20 Jun 1917 Working parties as yesterday were received from the reserve. parties were sent down to bathe. Adj made reconnaissance of the front line & advance posts of the left batt of left sector i.e. the left of the line skirting the sea. Everything seemed extremely quiet & it was quite possible to keep one's head & shoulders over the parapet for 15 mins at a time without being sniped at.
21 Jun 1917 Work & routine as usual.
22 Jun 1917 Work & routine s usual. It is noticed that since the relief the enemy has been growing less & less active from a MG point of view. During the last 3 nights especially very few "overs" have come near the bivouack & most of those have been from single rifle shots & not from MG bursts. A few shrapnel & HE shells have come over - generally about 3-5 between 1500 & 1800 - & our guns have always replied with one or two salvoes which seems to have a sobering effect on the enemy guns.
23 Jun 1917 Work & routine as usual. Nothing of any note.
24 Jun 1917 Work & routine as usual. HOLY COMMUNION 0600. Voluntary service 1700 Lt-Col. EW BRIGHTEN CMG, who had been in command of 162 Bde during the absence sick of Brig-Genl A.MUDGE, [comment - entry ends]
25 Jun 1917 Work & routine as usual. A wire cutting programme to extend over a fortnight was started by the artillery in our sector. Orders have been received that while wire cutting is going on unnecessary movement behind our front line is to stop, so as to avoid provoking retaliation.
26 Jun 1917 No working parties were sent to-day in view of the reorganisation ordered in the left subsection by 163 Bde. As a result of the reorganisation this battalion remains as before except that the coy of 4 NORTHANTS Regt attached has to be withdrawn to Batt local reserve with HQ.
27 Jun 1917 Working parties sent to work at FLINT & WELCH post 50 each. Routine as usual. 1430 Coy of 1/4th NORTHANTS reported at Batt HQ on completion of their withdrawal.
28 Jun 1917 Work & routine as usual. Northants supplied working parties for FLINT & WELCH. Very quiet on the front.
29 Jun 1917 Working parties as usual by detachment of Northants. More shelling but no casualties.
30 Jun 1917 Working party for FLINT only. Northants detachment worked at MERIONETH.
APPENDIX B June 1917
Average daily sick during month: 16 Strength at beginning of month: - 32 Officers 878 O.Ranks Strength at end of month 27 officers 895 O.Ranks
War Diary for July 1917
1 Jul 1917 - Flint, Merioneth and Welsh Redoubts HOLY COMMUNION 0600. Working parties from reserve coy sent to MERIONETH & FLINT posts for 4 hours (0715-11.15) during morning: one party for 3 1/2 hours work on MERIONETH communication trench worked at night. Parties were arranged with reliefs so that a man's ration of actual digging was 5 hours.
2 Jul 1917 The day passed without incident. Working parties as yesterday. C.O visited 54th Div training school ST JAMES PARK to see a practice trench raid by B coy
3 Jul 1917 Working parties as usual
4 Jul 1917 Working partiues in morning. 1800 1 Coy 1/11th LONDON regt relieved 1 coy 1/4th NORTHAMPTON REGT att to this unit
5 Jul 1917 0800 Working parties as usual. B coy left Div training camp & moved to new batt bivouack area arriving about 1000
6 Jul 1917 The day was spent in preparing their bivouack, resting & bathing. Routine continued & working parties as usual. Information received that a raid on Umbrella Hill would shortly be performed by this unit.
7 Jul 1917 Orders were received that on the 9th the whole battalion would be concentrated at MARINE view on relief, at WELCH & FLINT by the HQ & 2 coys of 1/5th NORFOLK Regt and at MERIONETH & HQ bivouack by HQ & 2 coys of 2nd/5th HANTS. Working parties & routine were continued as usual.
8 Jul 1917 Advance officers from relieving units visited HQ & coys. Work & Routine as before.
9 Jul 1917 - Marine View 0900 1 coy FINSBURY (1/11th LONDON Regt) were relieved by 1 coy 2/5th HANTS & then rejoined their own unit. 1 Platoon of A coy in MERIONETH & D coy in FLINT were relieved by 1 Platoon of 2/5th HANTS & 1 coy 1/5th NORFOLKS respectively. C Coy were relieved at WELCH at 1000 by HQ & 1 coy 1/5th NORFOLKS. Batt HQ were relieved at 1500 by HQ 1/5th HANTS. Batt concentrated in new area.
10 Jul 1917 Training for the raid began. Capt C.H. Miskin [Christopher Harold MISKIN, MC] assisted by aeroplane photos & plans commenced a replica of Umbrella Hill on which to practice. Capt H.S. Armstrong [Harold Simon ARMSTRONG, MC] commenced to train the RAIDERS. An appendix dealing with the orders issued & the details of organisation will be attached [comment; see Appendices]. Owing to the lengthy preparation of orders, due to the number of arms & units concerned - RFA, RE, MG units in line superior authority it was considered best to start the general training at once & to complete the details when orders were issued. A patrol of Capt Armstrong [Harold Simon ARMSTRONG, MC], LIEUT B.W. SMYTHE & 2nd Lieut R.H. Smith [Ronald Herbert SMITH] & 2 O.Rs spent about 1 1/2 hours in no man's land between our trenches and Umbrella Hill [comment; overwritten and unreadable section beginning "A suitable spot for the support..."]
12 Jul 1917 Practice by day & night was continued by both Raiders & Supports in which good practice was made. Dugouts for Battle HQ, aid post & Sig office were started at entrance to K39 Trench. The day passed without incident.
13 Jul 1917 Raid practice by day was continued. Dugouts as yesterday. During both morning & afternoon the enemy shelled the beach with shrapnel using each time a few rounds only. No casualties were suffered by the battalion.
14 Jul 1917 Raid practice continued by day & night a rehearsal of Raiders & Supports in conjunction was arranged & went off satisfactorily
15 Jul 1917 HOLY COMMUNION 0700. 162 Bde HQ Routine work. Raiders had a rest from practice. Patrol of 2 officers 6 O.Rs went out into no mans land to SE & SW of UMBRELLA HILL and MG opened fire on the SE side. No one was encountered.
16 Jul 1917 During the morning Raid practice continued & in consequence of fresh aeroplane photos the replica, on which practice had been going on, was altered & modifications in personnel [sic] made. Some shelling took place on the beach where bathing was in progress. Three small shrapnel fell & one man was slightly wounded.
17 Jul 1917 Raid practice continued & details were discussed by the C.O. & Brigadier. In the evening a practice raid on the replica took place.
18 Jul 1917 Raid practice at night before Brigadier & GSO1 of 54th Div. Conference of left subsection group battery commanders to enable the CO to explain the infantry programme
19 Jul 1917 Raid practice continued especially with 6 new rifle sections which had been added as local reserve to RAIDERS under the orders of G.O.C. E.F. a gap of about 30 yds wide was cut on front trench of Umbrella hill by our Artillery during the afternoon. During the morning the R.S.M. & party had been at work on the dump of stores at the "place of assembly". This was shelled for a time & one Sergt was wounded. In view of this shelling being in the nature of registration, the roll call after the Raid was ordered to take place on the wire road in P.31.D.4.3 instead of at the place of assembly.
20 Jul 1917 [Comment; 1st Umbrella Hill raid] 0540 GOC 162 Bde inspected a rehearsal by the new 6 rifle sections. 0600-1100 R.S.M. & party laid out stores at place of assembly in proper dumps. These stores had been taken up by the T.O. to the entrance of K.M1 communication trench near P.31.D.4.4. The afternoon passed without incident. 1900 The whole raiding party marched arriving at the place of assembly at about 2015. Stores were issued & the party detailed in orders placed the four trench bridges in position & made the gap in our own wire. Everything was quite ready by about 2050 & all stores issued. The raiders left the place of assembly at 2055 in accordance with programme & the raid was carried through very successfully in accordance with programme - details are given in Appendix B. By sheer bad luck the enemy had put up an intense bombardment of 5.9" H.E shells onto a very small area near the place of assembly & almost the whole of the casualties are due to this except for the missing & probably two or three killed in UMBRELLA HILL & perhaps 8 or 10 wounded there. 2145 About this time the Raiders & followed by the supports came back to our front line with so many men & in view of the tremendous noise & dense smoke some confusion was inevitable but the officers & N.C.Os of these parties quickly appreciated the situation & with the assistance of some parties organised by the reserve commander Capt C.H. Miskin [Christopher Harold MISKIN, MC] managed to retain most of their men in our front trench which was comparatively safe as the enemy barrage was plastering a zone some 50 yds to 150 in rear of our front line & on a front of about 200 yds, with occasional shots further to our rear & to the flanks. After some reconnaissance it was found possible to move our men to the flanks i.e. towards SAMSON'S RIDGE & SNIPER'S SPUR along the front line & so out of the barrage. They were then passed down communication trenches or in small parties in the open. The garrison had been relieved & all except wounded evacuated by 0130. [Comment; Private 201326 W. Patterson was taken prisoner and died in captivity on the 30th October at Aleppo and Private 200573 A.G. Cook was also taken prisoner, later dying in captivity on 4th November 1918 at Afion Kara]
21 Jul 1917 0230 The large number of wounded were evacuated by about 0230. This is dealt with in the appendix. 0330 A patrol of 1 officer & 5 O.rs went in the direction of the BEANFIELD (about 150 yds short of UMBRELLA HILL), but found nothing. Everything was quiet on UMBRELLA HILL. The remnants of the smoke & a thick mist made visibility difficult. 0400 About 0400 a patrol of two went out, just as the dawn & lifting mist enabled one to see. They only stayed out about 10 mins and found 1 dead body - from a former engagement & some equipment which was brought in. During the morning equipment & booty was collected into a dump. The dead of the expedition including RAMC, 1 Div Sig Coy, 1 484 Coy RE & 1 M.G Coy, 1 unknown & 16 BEDFORDS were buried in a cemetery near HQ of the Raid viz K 39 trench The remainder of the day was spent in rest & by the officers & NCOs in writing reports, recommendations, transporting the dump & booty. One feature of the reports was that every commander of a Unit from O.C Supports, Reserves & Raiders down to individual "mopping-up sections" was asked for a written report of his own work. These were forwarded to GSO 1 54th Div. 22 Jul 1917 HOLY COMMUNION 0600. Voluntary Service 1730. The day passed without incident. Brig.General A. MUDGE G.O.C. 162nd Bde [overwritten and unreadable] 23 Jul 1917 1700 The day was spent in routine work. At 1700 Major-General S.W.HARE G.O.C. 54th Div presented 19 Military Medals to members of the Raiding party for gallantry in action of the recipients. 16 belonged to the unit.
24 Jul 1917 Orders were received that a second raid on UMBRELLA HILL would be executed by the Battalion on the 27th. Preparations were started at once & the various modifications - especially in size of the parties employed were discussed & decided on. Practice started at once & 2 dugouts were started in a special trench off K39.
25 Jul 1917 Raid order No2 - Appendix C - were made out & circulated to all concerned. Practice was pushed on with & good progress was made with dugouts & collecting stores. This was not such an easy task as might appear on the surface, material, safety pins, cotton (for identification armlets) had to be got from CAIRO!
26 Jul 1917 Raid practice continued. Dugouts were completed & stores got up. Profiting by the first raid the dugouts were on unregistered ground - no shell holes about. They were also smaller & fitted with overhead cover to a depth of about 4' 3" of sand. The dump too was made unostentatiously & concealed by sand bags. Wire of enemy was gapped.
27 Jul 1917 [Comment; the 2nd Umbrella Hill raid] The Zero hour was fixed for 2100 as before. At dawn it was found that the gaps which had been cut by our guns in the enemy's wire had been mended in the night. During the afternoon their wire was again cut by the guns. 2100 The battalion concentrated as before in the hollow by K39 & by 2045 all was ready. Zero hour had been fixed for 2100 & in accordance with the programme the bombardment started then & our Raiders & support moved through the gap in our wire. Again our barrage seemed perfect but it did not have the same demoralizing effect as before on the TURKS, who opened fire at 2103 & kept it up till our men dashed into the work at 2106. Here a MG was on the parapet firing but it was rushed & passed back to the supports, where the two men detailed to carry it lost it. A stubborn resistance was met with everywhere, but the parties were of a more handy size & there was no confusion but each dashed for its objective & after a number of hard bombing duels the Turks began to give way & everything appeared to be going in our favour when a whistle was blown, it thought by the Turks & as this was taken for our evacuation signal the Raiders & supports withdrew. There had been no time to collect prisoners or booty, but in all some 50 Turks had been killed. Our casualties were 3 killed, 7 missing, 23 wounded including 4 remaining at duty. 2nd Lts Coate [T.A.J. COATE?] & H.W.E. SMITH [?] were also wounded. As before the enemy put down a heavy barrage of H.E on K39 Hollow & a quantity of shrapnel along SAMSON RIDGE & some shrapnel & H.E behind SAMSON RIDGE. Owing however to the more "elastic" arrangements for the return of the Raiding Party few if any casualties occurred in our work & the enemy barrage was successfully negotiated. 2300 A patrol to look for the M.G went out about 2300 & returned about 2330 the M.G was not found, but 2 Turks who fired on the patrol were killed.
28 Jul 1917 0220 All wounded & unwounded were clear of the trenches by 0220. The rest of the day passed without event, two of our dead were buried in our lines. Patrols of 25 O.R & 2 officers searched no mans land from HEREFORD RIDGE to the BEANFIELD at the foot of UMBRELLA HILL without result.
29 Jul 1917 HOLY COMMUNION 0600. Voluntary service 1730. the day passed without incident. 300 men were sent on working parties.
30 Jul 1917 200 men were sent on working parties to various posts the day passed without incident
31 Jul 1917 0630 Musketry practice with the short rifles which were issued on the 22nd under the rearmament of the 54th Div scheme with short rifles. A & B coys used the range. Nothing of interest occurred apart from this.
STRENGTH 1st July 1917 18 off 750 O.R. STRENGTH 31st July 1917 17 off 690 O.R.
War Diary for August 1917
1 Aug 1917 - Marine View Routine work in camp. Musketry practice with new short rifles by C & D coys. Working parties for 19.30-23.30 to 1/5th Suffolks 50, to FLINT 50, to CANARVON [sic] 100. Adj. went to site of new area near DEIR EL BELAH to see where new bivouack was to be.
2 Aug 1917 Routine work in camp. Working parties from 0700-1100 to 1/5 Suffolk R FLINT REDOUBT & A Batt 270th Bde RFA. At 1645 Military Medals were distributed by G.O.C. 54th Division to Pte BEESLEY, W.A., Pte REEVES, H., Pte PRATT, W. (award of Military Medal notified in the case of Sergt.CLIFFORD, E.G, Cpl. CHARGER, Pte.WORROW, D.A.J. all of whom were absent) for gallantry in connexion with 2nd raid on UMBRELLA HILL
3 Aug 1917 - Deir el Belah Notification received of award of Military Cross to Capt.H.S.Armstrong, [Harold Simon ARMSTRONG, MC], Capt.C.H.Miskin [Christopher Harold MISKIN, MC] & Capt.A.T.Cunningham [Andrew Tocher CUNNINGHAM, MC] for gallantry in connexion with 1st raid on UMBRELLA HILL. Routine work in camp. Musketry practice on range for details from each Coy. At 2210 the Battalion moved in small parties to a point on the Sea Shore near DEIR EL BELAH between the AERODROME & the Sea having been relieved by the 2/4th Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment
4 Aug 1917 Arrived at new area. Bivouac camp. AT 0500 received orders to move the camp from vicinity of AERODROME. 0900 Took up new bivouac area at a point 3000 yds EAST of sea shore vacated [unreadable]
5 Aug 1917 Specialist training & routine. Voluntary service at 0800.
6 Aug 1917 Specialist training & routine work.
7 Aug 1917 - Wadi Reuben L.Gun firing into sand dune on S.W. of camp. Specialist training. 1700 Battalion moved by companies to relieve 12th SOMERSET L.I. in Wadi REUBEN. Companies marched by BELAH station PICADILLY CIRCUS to W.31.C.3.9 relief complete at 2303
8 Aug 1917 Commenced platoon training under new organisation.
9 Aug 1917 Training routine
10 Aug 1917 Training routine
11 Aug 1917 Lieut Col E.W.BRIGHTEN CMG assumed command of the 162 Inf.Bde. Capt & Adj.J.T.Yarde [John Tristram YARDE, MC & Bar] attached to 162 Inf Bde for instructional purposes. Capt C.R.James MC [Christopher Russell JAMES, MC] assumed command of Batt. Training
12 Aug 1917 - Sheikh Abbas. Voluntary Services as usual. 1300 orders received for Battalion to move to SHEIKH ABBAS. Batt moved at 1830 arriving SHEIKH ABBAS 2015. relief complete 2030.
13 Aug 1917 Dugouts constructed. Working party consisting of A B & C coys proceeded to dig in front line and communication trenches. Hours of work 2000-0200.
14 Aug 1917 D Coy found working party at 0600-0900 and again from 1500-1800. Capt F.B.Hobbs [Francis B. HOBBS, MC] and 1 O.R. wounded by shrapnel. Draft of 3 officers arrived from ENGLAND [Comment; George Harold PINCHIN, W.H. MAYERS, MC and Percy John SOWDEN arrived]
15 Aug 1917 Working Parties found as usual. 157 Bde Alarm Orders received.
16 Aug 1917 Hours of work altered viz. 1st Party 0600-0900 and 2000-2300; 2nd Party 1400-1700 and 2300-0200
17-19 Aug 1917 Working parties found as on 16th hours of work same.
20 Aug 1917 Working parties as on 19th inst. Casualty list for week ending 17/8/17 sent to this unit by O i/c No3 Records Section the following particulars are given Sgt Cleaver 200497 [4193, later 200497 Frederick William CLEAVER] 200573 Pte Cook A.G. 201316 Pte Miles H.A. 201326 Pte Patterson W. [5957, later 201326 William PATTERSON] 200696 Pte Smith F.D. [4851, later 200696 Frederick D. SMITH] previously reported missing now reported prisoners of war All these men took part in 1st raid on UMBRELLA HILL & were made prisoners on that occasion
21-22 Aug 1917 Digging as usual [Comment; 2/Lts R.E. OTTER, Kenneth Murray WATT and J.R. REYNOLDS arrived from England]
23 Aug 1917 Wire recd from Brigade to effect that 162 Bde relieves 159 Bde on night of 26/27 1/5 Bedfords to relieve 4 Welsh then in reserve Digging as usual
24 Aug 1917 162 Bde operation order No.33 being the order for this to effect above relief recd. Digging as usual
25 Aug 1917 Digging as usual
26 Aug 1917 - Wart Hill Moved without relief at 1830 via EL BURGELYE to Bivouac Area of 4 Welsh. Situate under second "e" in El Sire. Move complete 2100 22.30 On this night No.200728 Pte [Sidney] Kirby was killed while sleeping in a dugout which had been under cut by a fall of earth. The digging performed by Battn Btn 13th-25th inclusive was on front line & communication trenches at SHEIKH ABBAS, during this period the Battn acted as a pioneer Battn for the 157 Bde & the work was carried out under the direction of 412 Field Coy LDRE
27 Aug 1917 All dug out inspected No.200728 Pte. [Sidney] Kirby, S. was buried in Essex Cemetery at 1830 by Capt the Rev.Marriot C.F. [comment - now transferred to Gaza War Cemetery] Working parties in Braintree Rd & WARLEY RD.
28 Aug 1917 0700 C.O. and O.C. Companies made a tour of front line trenches and communication trenches in vicinity of BLAZED HILL and LEES HILL. 2Lt.Buck [Charles Frederick BUCK] left to report to War Office London. 2Lt E.P.RANDLE reported for duty from Imperial School of Instruction ZELTOUN. 20 O.Rs reported as Reinforcements from hospital. Working Parties on BRAINTREE RD and WARLEY RD.
29 Aug 1917 Digging as for 28th Aug.
30 Aug 1917 Working Parties as before now finding about 300 men for various work daily. Our Artillery made demonstration on El Arish Redoubt, R.F.C. planes working in conjunction between 2100 & 2200
31 Aug 1917 Working Parties as before.
Average Daily Sick 35 Average Daily admissions to Hospital 4 Strength at beginning of month 16 officers 707 O.Ranks Strength at end of month 27 officers 855 O.Ranks
War Diary for September 1917
1 Sep 1917 - Wart Hill Capt E.T.Maier [Emil Theodore MAIER, MC] assumed command of Battn on Capt C.R.James MC [Christopher Russell JAMES, MC] leaving for Zeitoun to attend a Senior Officers Course. Digging as usual
2 Sep 1917 The Battn had a day of rest
3 Sep 1917 B & D Coys moved from Bivouac area at Wart Hill to new Bivouac Area on Kurd Hill taking over area formerly occupied by 1/4 Northants Digging as usual
4 Sep 1917 Digging as usual
5 Sep 1917 - Kurd Hill Battn HD Qrs moved to Kurd Hill
6 Sep 1917 Digging as usual
7 Sep 1917 Digging as usual
8 Sep 1917 Digging as usual No.203363 Pte Pain G.A. recd a slight wound from a Shrapnel Burst whilst forming one of a digging party in the redoubt line on Queens Hill
9 Sep 1917 Digging as usual
10 Sep 1917 Digging
11 Sep 1917 Digging
12 Sep 1917 Digging as usual 201217 Pte [John] Jeeves wounded on knee, remaining at duty
13 Sep 1917 0530 Practice "Stand to" see Appendix. Digging started at 0830 and continued as usual
14 Sep 1917 Digging as usual i.e. cable burying, communication trenches, Lieut Smith [Ronald Herbert SMITH] to hospital (Sandfly)
15 Sep 1917 Digging
16 Sep 1917 Digging as usual (Cable Burying only) Lt Col E.W.Brighten took over command of Battalion from Capt E.T.Maier [Emil Theodore MAIER, MC] who was posted to C Coy. Some artillery counter fire from direction of SHEIKH ABBAS
17 Sep 1917 Digging [Comment; Lt & Quartermaster Horace Frederick FULLER arrived from the 1st Hertfordshire's]
18 Sep 1917 Digging in cable and working on Communication trenches
19 Sep 1917 Digging in cable and working on Communication trenches
20 Sep 1917 Digging in cable and working on Communication trenches
21 Sep 1917 Digging in cable and working on Communication trenches
23 Sep 1917 Move order No 36 cancelled. cable Burying only [Comment; Battalion Medical Officer Captain J.P. BRACKEN R.A.M.C. arrived]
24 Sep 1917 Digging
25 Sep 1917 Digging
26 Sep 1917 Digging
27 Sep 1917 Digging. Brigade Order No 37 received 1200
28 Sep 1917 Digging in morning on Cable Trenches. Battalion Order No4 issued at 1200
29 Sep 1917 Battalion took over No4 SECTION COASTAL SECTOR from 1/4 Norfolk Regiment relief complete by 2117. No 203155 Pte Wilson W.G. B.Coy G.S.W. Right leg, 2 patrols (Coy) went out nothing to report. Capt H.W.Cronin [Harold William CRONIN] reported back from English leave.
30 Sep 1917 Quiet day nothing unusual to Report. Trench Routine
1/5th Bedfordshire Regt Average Daily Sick for September 25 Strength at beginning of month 28 officers 856 O.Ranks Strength at end of month 29 officers 864 O.Ranks
War Diary for October 1917
1 Oct 1917 - Hereford Ridge, Hill 100 Yards 2Lt Pinchin [George Harold PINCHIN] took out a patrol of four men and did a ground reconnaissance of the ground between HEREFORD RIDGE and UMBRELLA HILL on a 400 yd front. 2 Lieut K.M.Watt [Kenneth Murray WATT] went out from right company with three men to select sniping posts for day use but the patrol has failed to return. 2 Lt R.E.OTTER took out a patrol of fourteen OR's for the purpose of gaining any information possible about 2Lieut Watt [Kenneth Murray WATT] and his patrol and also to reconnoitre the ORCHARD and ground up to P.33.c.5.7. no traces of patrol were found. [Comment; 2/Lt K.M. Watt died of wounds whilst a prisoner of war on or about the 1st October]
2 Oct 1917 1000 One prisoner came down from Right Company H.Q. he had been captured by two of our snipers who had been pushed out into the orchard, prisoner was one of two who had been picking gaps just outside the enemy trenches. Large patrol of two officers and 26 men + 2 Lewis Guns went out at dusk approx 1800. Three casualties occurred & some brisk encounters with Turks who, it is estimated lost about 12 from our rifle & lewis gun fire.
3 Oct 1917 The day passed without incident 1735 Patrols of 3 officers, 3 lewis guns & 46 O.Rs left our line near the SUBKET POST & returned about 0300.
4 Oct 1917 Heavy enemy firing was encountered & Lieut ECB Wodeshouse [Evelyn Charles Bradley WODEHOUSE] was fatally wounded & 60 ORs were hit, more or less seriously. It is thought that some loss was inflicted on the enemy as they were prevented from coming to close quarters by our rifle & lewis gun fire. The day passed without incident, a few shells being fired at our lines without doing any damage. 1800 3 patrols of 3 officers & 6 O.Rs in one case & 9 O.Rs & a lewis gun in the other left our line at SUBKET POST. The first patrol's object was to advance into FISHER'S Wood & draw the TURKS to follow them back on to a line held by the second patrol. The Third was to lie up & try to ambush patrols of TURKS who might come along. The first patrol under the command of 2nd Lieut. Dennis [Ernest Edward DENNIS] found the TURKS & succeeded in drawing them towards the 2nd patrol commanded by 2nd Lieut Gurney [Francis J. GURNEY]. Here the TURKS discovered the trap & withdrew, followed by a heavy fire from our Lewis gun & rifles. The right, or 3rd patrol, commanded by 2 Lieut Mander [Arthur John MANDER] did not encounter any enemy. The three patrols were all in by 0450. [Comment; Private 203163 Fred Alford died of his wounds on the 5th October]
5 Oct 1917 The day passed without incident. 1800 Patrols commanded by 2nd Lieuts Dennis [Ernest Edward DENNIS], Phillips [Ernest Arthur PHILLIPS] & Sowden [Percy John SOWDEN] went out with the same objectives as the previous night. 2nd Lieut. Dennis [Ernest Edward DENNIS] patrol had to withdraw under a heavy fire & on arrival back at the trench he & Sergt CLIFFORD were found to be missing. The other two patrols did a lot of shooting at bodies of TURKS, but it is not known with what result. All patrols were in by 0400 without further casualties. [Comment; Sergeant 200195 Eustace CLIFFORD, MM died that day in captivity and 2/Lt Ernest Edward DENNIS was also taken prisoner but survived]
6 Oct 1917 A.C.D coys relieved in Merioneth Redoubt and front line of HEREFORD RIDGE SECTION, between 0900 and 1100. Strong Patrol consisting of three officers, 3 Warrant Officers, 3 Lewis Guns and 46 men left SUBKET POST at about 1800 for the purpose of locating position of enemy in FISHER'S ORCHARD, engaging them and then withdrawing sending back a code word to Brigade via Coy and Battalion H.Q. on receipt of this zero hour was fixed by Brigade and on zero hour 4.2" howitzers and Stokes guns opened up on Echelon Trench followed 10 minutes later by 18pr and machine gun barrage, this lasted for another 10 minutes, shortly after this the patrol pushed out again but met with such strong opposition just outside our wire that Capt F.B.Hobbs [Francis B. HOBBS, MC] who was commanding patrol, thought it advisable to withdraw to our own lines and to call on the Artillery and Stokes Guns to put an other [sic] barrage down closer to our own trenches thus inflicting many casualties on the enemy. Our casualties were one killed [comment; Private 203211 Walter Smith of Luton] six wounded.
7 Oct 1917 - Belah North 0900 Commanding Officer inspected the area in which the four companies were laying at Marine View. 1830 Companies moved to BELAH NORTH AREA at Hill 100 via Crossing 35 and KINGSWAY. HQ moved via CAITO ROAD, RED HOUSE, ST.JAMES' PARK. Batt reported IN at 2117
8 Oct 1917 Reorganization of companies, Bathing Parade, Commanding Officer's address to all ranks at 1100. Lecture by Commanding Officer to officers and N.C.O's.
9 Oct 1917 Bayonet Fighting 0545, Company Parade 0800, Battn Drill 1000. A Coy firing on Sheikh Shebassi Range during the afternoon. Night operations under Coy commanders 1715. Private Edgar ELSE and Private William BUNYAN awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in the field dated night 3/4th.
10 Oct 1917 Batt training, practice for the attack
11 Oct 1917 Batt training, practice for the attack
12 Oct 1917 Route March and practice attack using Klaxon horn etc. 1700 G.O.C. 54th Division presented M.M. to Private Edgar ELSE.
13 Oct 1917 Attack Practice over prepared position. Lieut W.A.Shaw [William Arthur SHAW, MC] rejoined from El Arish Snipers Course.
14 Oct 1917 Church Parade. Lecture by Lt Col E.W.Brighten CMG on consolidation and messages. 2 Lieut Geoghegan [Patrick GEOGHEGAN, MC] Gloucester Regiment joined for duty
15 Oct 1917 0800 Attack practice over prepared position, Major James [Christopher Russell JAMES, MC] rejoined from Senior Officers Course Cairo
16 Oct 1917 Companies at the disposal of Company Commanders "Consolidation"
17 Oct 1917 Brigade attack practice over prepared position
18 Oct 1917 Companies at the disposal of Company Commanders "Consolidation". Lieut Bruhl A.S.C. [Henry George Percy BRUHL] attached to this unit left to report to G.O.C. Alexandria District for transport to France for attachment to Chinese Labour Corps at Noyeles [sic]
19 Oct 1917 Brigade Attack practice over prepared position. Commanding Officer and 2nd in command went on Naval drifter for purpose of making a reconnaissance of Sheikh Hassan and approaches to it
20 Oct 1917 Brigade attack practice over prepared position starting at 0325 from bivouackes. Attack started 0500. Contact aeroplane worked with the Battalion and took one message, quite satisfactory.
21 Oct 1917 Brigade Church Parade Service at 0830. Brigade Commanders pow wow at 1700. C.O. Conference to Company Commanders
22 Oct 1917 Companies at the disposal of Company Commanders. Lieut.R.H.Smith [Ronald Herbert SMITH] rejoined this unit from I.C.C. Abbrassia
23 Oct 1917 Companies at disposal of Company Commanders
24 Oct 1917 Battalion Practice Attack. Batt moved off from Batt parade ground 0325 returned to camp at 0800. Box Respirators and Steel Helmets issued.
25 Oct 1917 0800 Companies worked on Gas Training with Box Respirators and fitting of Kit etc. 1500 Demonstration to XXI Corps by 1/4 Northampton Regt and one regiment of 52nd Division on Scaling Cactus Hedges G.O.C. XXI Corps came to the decision that it was better to use a spade instead of scaling ladders as the place or hole once cut through the cactus hedge is permanent and on the other hand scaling ladders easily break and are by no means permanent.
26 Oct 1917 Company training instruction in the use of the Small Box Respirator which was issued to the Battalion on the 24 Oct 1917. Field General Court Martial assembled there [sic] HQ for the purpose of trying No 200456 Private Arthur Horace HOLDERNESS of this unit.
27 Oct 1917 0325 Battalion Parade ready to move off for practice attack over prepared position returned to camp at 0800. Machine Gun Section working with Battalion also D Coy 1/4 Northampton Regt. Trenches filled in and sandbags emptied and brought back to this bivouac
28 Oct 1917 Sunday Voluntary Services only. Battalion Sports. Tank Officers visited unit in order that final arrangements might be made for forthcoming operations. Much rain and hail between 2050 - 2400
29 Oct 1917 Rain. Battalion Parade for Divisional Practice work with contact aeroplane. Each Company was represented by 1 Platoon Ground Flares were taken and lit when called for by plane. Signal Section paraded at full strength, and sent one message to plane. Brigade Order No 40 received at 0800. Battalion Order No 7 issued at 1700 re move to Butts Camp on night of 30/31st Oct. APPENDIX A attached
30 Oct 1917 - Butts Camp Companies at disposal of company commanders. Bathing Parades. Batt moved to Butts Camp leaving Hill 100 yds at 1830 arriving at Butts Camp at 2020. Orders received re Special Shell. Strong bombardment all day.
31 Oct 1917 This bivouac area is situated at O.34.B Central. Brigade Order No.41 received at 0830. Batt Order No.8 re "Scheme M" issued at 2100. Companies at disposal of Company Commanders for whole day, Bathing, Gas Drill, Bombs, Very Light etc, issued to companies. Heavy bombardment on and off all day by our artillery
Strength of Unit on 1st of Month 23 Officers 839 O. Ranks Strength of Unit on 31st of month 24 officers 858 O. Ranks Admissions to Hospital during month 1 officer 113 O. Ranks
War Diary for November 1917
1 Nov 1917 - Butts Camp Preparation made for operations. Extra Rations, ammunition etc., issued. A dump was formed for all surplus kit 2/Lt Bass [Robert Edward BASS] being left in charge. Packs were put on this dump. Everyone rested during day as much as possible. The Divl. Commdr. spoke to all officers, about 1400.
2 Nov 1917 - [Comment - 3rd Battle at Gaza] Skeikh Hasan 0210 Left Bivouac area, in order named in Bedford Order No.8 dated 31 Oct 17. 0310 Passed SHEIKH AJLIN. No casualties 0315-0345 Moved forward very slowly to within 150 yds SEA POST, where we were blocked owing to 11th Londons waiting to deploy 0410-0430 Moved forward about 300 yds. Companies moved off and Battn .H.Q. were established about 150 yds S. of CRICKET WELL waiting here until Advanced Battn.H.Q. reported TOMB SPUR cleared and Advanced H.Q. established there. This was reported about 0510. Battn.H.Q. moved to TOMB SPUR, they came under heavy machine gun fire from RAFA-BELAH RIDGE. No casualties. Attack on SHEIKH HASAN was carried out absolutely to programme and by 0600 HASAN GARDEN was cleared right through and consolidated on a line from S.W. corner of P.3.c. HASAN PIMPLE - SHEIKH HASAN. Thirteen officers and 140 O'Ranks prisoners were taken and sent back, a number of Turks were killed twenty have been counted, there are probably more as the locality is too big to reach properly. Three Machine Guns, fragments of a fourth over 200 rifles many thousand rounds of S.A.A., Bombs, R.E. material, Q.M.Stores, papers and booty is being collected, but owing to consolidation no proper salvage arrangements can be put into operation. In the attack one Platoon led by 2/Lieut.E.A.Phillips [Ernest Arthur PHILLIPS], BERKSHIRE REGT attached this until with more dash than thought for his orders reached and entered TURTLE HILL. The Turks put up the white flag, but a M.G. in rear opened on the Platoon and nearly all of them were wiped out 2/LieutE.A.PHILLIPS was killed. During the advance through the garden our shrapnel barrage is said to have been erratic, or it may have been the keenness of the men, but we suffered most of our casualties there from our own shell fire. The protective barrage also did not lift off HASAN PIMPLE and SHEIKH HASAN this also caused further casualties before it could be stopped. The Tanks were not on time and only No.5 turned up eventually at 0625, this off-loaded its R.E. material and proceeded forward, but soon afterwards it broke down. From about 0615 to 0830 the enemy shelled us heavily with what was thought to be one 5.9 one 4.2 and two 77 m.m batteries. Efforts were made to support the Northampton attack on LION and TIGER but owing to smoke and mist visibility was bad. During the morning we suffered from enemy M.G. and Rifle fire from TORTOISE HILL and TURTLE HILL. At 1430 the 1/4th Northampton Regiment attacked TORTOISE HILL and BELAH unsuccessfully and were driven back at the same time the whole locality came under very heavy enemy shell fire again and a very strong enemy counter-attack developed between TORTOISE HILL and TURTLE HILL. We reinforced our right, and all communications being cut by shell fire, fired the S.O.S. signal our barrage then came down and this together with our machine gun fire stopped the enemy. At the same time Turks were reported advancing from the direction of TIGER this was confirmed by the action of the Navy who opened fire on them at once and this stopped the movement. It is said that this party was the remains of the Northampton Company returning to our lines. During the evening the remaining Northamptons and one Company of 1/11th London Regiment were put under this Battns orders, the distribution being as follows Strong Point S.E. corner of P.2.d is held by Northamptons. Three of our Coys with one Platoon each attached from 1/11th London Company are distributed in two lines from BEACH ROAD, HASAN PIMPLE to SHEIKH HASAN. No attempt has been made to entrench a continuous line. Platoons are distributed checkerwise mutually supporting one another, four M.Gs and four Stokes Guns are in the second line near the road. This arrangement has worked well so far although the enemy has shelled us very continuously we have not had as many casualties as we might have done. We are under close observation from TURTLE HILL and it is beginning to tell.
3 Nov 1917 A Section of RE were with us all night on the Northampton strong point and also put in a pump and well at the North end of BEACH ROAD which is giving us a good supply of water. The men are very tired, the long advance over the sand carrying heavy loads took a lot out of them, the [sic] got a little sleep last night, and blankets are expected up for them tonight, bivouac sheets are already up. The morale of the men is excellent all round and needs to be on account of the heavy shell fire they are subjected to. Patrols during the night went out to (1) TURTLE HILL. Found enemy consolidating (2) LION and TIGER. Found enemy consolidating. Two O.P.s have been established No.1 O.P. at SHEIKH TOMB, No.2 O.P. in centre of ALFRED approx P2.D.3.9. 0630 Enemy shelled HASAN GARDEN, H.E. and shrapnel 0735 Enemy shelled our 1st and 2nd Line in the Garden every 2 1/2 minutes 1030 Enemy shelled with H.E. from direction of SHEIKH REDWAN 0635 Small parties of Turks seen at different times all morning on high ground behind enemy lines 1655 Considerable movement on Sand Ridge E. of No.1 O.P. 1545 16 Turks came forward over small Ridge in front of trench LION-TIGER Line. They had full march order 1605 Small parties observed in communication trenches LION-TIGER Line 1730 100 Turks seen N. of TURTLE HILL Flash of enemy gun observed 60 degrees near Clump of trees The total casualties for 2/3rd are officers 1 Killed 3 Wounded 2 of these remained at duty. O.Ranks [blank] Killed [blank] Wounded [blank] of these remained at duty. Missing: [blank] 27 Turks have been buried 10 Evacuated to Hospital wounded. A British cemetery has [sic] made in SHEIKH HASAN GARDEN. 2 Barrels of Beer were brought up with the rations and issued to the men. The men are in excellence [sic] spirits, but rather tired. Consolidation proceeding satisfactorily.
4 Nov 1917 Two patrols left our line, no enemy patrols were met but enemy working parties were heard on TORTOISE HILL and TURTLE HILL, Consolidation continued. Enemy shelling fairly continuous during day.
5 Nov 1917 Two patrols left our line, no enemy patrols met. Enemy stores and equipment collected and a quantity sent by ration camels back to Salvage Dump. A Cemetery was made in the gardens and our own and enemy dead buried. Enemy shelled the whole garden with 5.9s over 200 falling between 2000 and 2130 only 1 casualty.
6 Nov 1917 A patrol left our lines and proceeded towards LION and TIGER no enemy patrol met. 1/4th Northampton Regt took over A Coy's strong point. A Coy to [sic] over C Coy's Sector. C Coy coming in Reserves. C & D Coy practiced for a proposed attack on TURTLE HILL. Day was quiet, situation remaining unchanged.
7 Nov 1917 - Jebalieh 0100 C & D Coy attacked and took TURTLE HILL, Turks were found to have evacuated the work. Our casualties 1 O'Rank. Information received that the enemy was withdrawing from his line. GAZA was reported as unoccupied. The Divl Cavalry rode through SHEIKH HASAN to follow up retiring enemy. 52nd Divn proceeded through later. Collection of captured stores etc. was proceeded with. Our captured include 8 M.G's (Damaged), 400000 rds SAA, 2000 bombs, refuelling equipment and numerous other stores. Orders received to prepare to move. All Transport was got up and everything packed up in readiness. Moved at 1800 and proceeded to JEBALIEH via Beach Road On arrival at JEBALIEH, A B & D Coys took up an Outpost Line, during which time they came under enemy M.G. fire. C Coy with H.Q.Coy were in Reserve and formed Battn HQ in the Cactus Gardens. 2 4.2 Guns manufactured by Armstrong Whitworths in 1897 were taken by A Coy. also a considerable amount of transport
8 Nov 1917 The day was very quiet the enemy having withdrawn during the night. An enemy plane was brought down by one of our machines. A large explosion was seen in the direction of the enemy Railhead and it was afterwards found out that a [sic] enemy dump was blown up. Orders were received that we were to be relieved by 1/4th Essex Rgt who were taking up a more advanced line. 6 Prisoners were captured by us during day. Moved at 1730 to Support Line 162nd Bde Outpost Line, a draft of 94 were used as guides along the route.
9 Nov 1917 - el Nuzle Draft detailed to Coys. Cleaning and straightening up generally
10 Nov 1917 Packs got up from SHEIKH HASAN. Inspection parades etc.
11 Nov 1917 Usual cleaning up parades. A voluntary service was held at 1700 by Rev.Walkey V.B. C.F.
12 Nov 1917 Moved bivouac on to the cliff near the Sea
13 Nov 1917 Parades, Close Order Drill and smartening up drill
14 Nov 1917 - Herbieh Parades up to 1100. Orders received to move. 1400 Bn. parades and proceeded by march route to HERBIEH arriving 2100.
15 Nov 1917 - Medjel Marched with Bde group to MEDJEL, arrived about 1700
16 Nov 1917 - Esdud Permission given to visit village. relieved guards of 7 NCO and 35 men of B.W.I's Orders received to march with Bde Group to ESDUD staring 1800 arrived at 2200
17 Nov 1917 - Yebna Marched with Bde Group to YEBNA arrived about 1600
18 Nov 1917 - Ayun Kara Formed Advance Guard to Bde Group moving to AYUN KARA, on arrival about 1600 A & D took up Outpost duty but were latter [sic] withdrawn and came into Bivouac with remainder of Battn.
Nov 1917 - Ludd Marched with Bde Group to LUDD arrived at about 1130. A, B & C Coys took up Outposts very heavy rain in evening.
Nov 1917 - Haditheh Batt moved to HADITHEH to take over line held by Yeomanry. D Coy took over their position.
21 Nov 1917 B & C Coys took over their positions. A Coy & Battn H.Q. moved to position at Y.1.D Central. 1 section 162nd M.G.Coy coming under orders of this unit. The positions held from part of the Bde line 1/11th London Rgt on the Left Yeomanry on the Right [Comment; Private 200582 Frederick DICKENS of Luton killed]
22 Nov 1917 Quiet day. Coys consolidating their positions, each Coy making a Strong Post. Posts manned D.Coy. ZEIFY HILL, C Coy. NABALA HILL, B Coy PINNACLE HILL running Left to Right respectively/ 1/8th Hampshire Regiment relieved the Yeomanry on our Right.
23 Nov 1917 Quiet day. Consolidation proceeding. Sections of line numbered, that held by this Battn being No.3 Section, which was later altered to No.2 Section
24 Nov 1917 A patrol of the Battn.Scouts proceeded to reconnoitre the track BEIT NABALA via KHDATHRAH to SHUKHAH including track from KHDATHRAH via ROMAN ROAD to ABUD returning via KIBBIA and WADY [sic] SHAKIN. About 20 enemy cavalry were sighted by this patrol when at X.26.c about 1500 yds distant. No other sign of enemy. Quiet day. Roads made to Posts
25 Nov 1917 A Turkish Officer (Captain) was captured by one of our Picquets, coming down to the well near BEIT NABALA. A line of Control Posts was formed to prevent inhabitants moving backwards and forwards through our line, no inhabitant of HADITHEH and BEIT NABALA being allowed to cross the WADY ES SURAR in either direction. This was proclaimed in both villages also a proclamation to the effect that if any Turks were hidden up the MUDAR would be held responsible and hanged.
26 Nov 1917 A patrol of Battn. Scouts went out to reconnoitre WADY ADASIYEH towards RENTIS and DEIR ALLA. Both these villages were reported clear of enemy.
27 Nov 1917 0230 Arab gives himself up to C Coy. with information with information [sic] as to a force of Turks at SHOKHAH. 0815 About 150 Turks in close order are seen from ZEIFY HILL advancing down Wadi betn ZEIFY HILL & DEIR TOREIF. Fire opened upon them by L.G. Rifles from ZEIFY HILL at range of betn 1300 & 1500 yds. Turks scattered & some loss inflicted on him, he taking up position under cover & a sniping engagement ensued 1030 Strong patrol pushed forward from right of ZEIFY HILL to cistern kiln at W.26.a, where an advanced post was established, consisting of 2 L.G. Sections & section of riflemen. 1500 From ZEIFY HILL an enemy force consisting of a Battn & transport was seen moving [sic] in an E. direction from ET TIREH at about 1515 this force came within range of post at Cistern Hill & fire was opened by both LGs at range of about 1400 yds. Casualties were seen to be inflicted on enemy especially amongst their transport. As a result of this the direction of enemy advance was altered & enemy advanced in extended order on Cistern Hill. Post on CISTERN HILL contd to engage enemy until latter were 300yds away when they were withdrawn. At dusk enemy occupy CISTERN HILL. [Comment; Captain Thomas Alderman FRANKLIN, MC and 2/Lt George Harold PINCHIN died of their wounds]
28 Nov 1917 During the day enemy attempts to renew advance were continued. Fire from ZEIFY & NABALA checked them, small enemy sniping post established 300 yds from ZEIFY HILL.
29 Nov 1917 1230 Enemy commenced to shell ZEIFY HILL with 4.2 & mountain guns this contd intermittently throughout day, casualty one wounded at same time enemy infantry showed disposition to attempt to gain ground. MG & LG fire from ZEIFY HILL brought to bear on an enemy advance on DEIR TOREIF. This was stopped at 900 yds from 10 Londons position, At dusk complete cessation of fire by enemy 1800 Enemy strength about 150 attempted to carry ZEIFY HILL by surprise attack. Front line rushed & M.G. captured. Immediate c/attack organized & launched by Post Commander & [in margin Capt.Francis B.HOBBS, MC] enemy were ejected with bayonet. Enemy party carrying away M.G. disposed of & gun recaptured. 1900 Lull established & all quiet again. Casualties inflicted on enemy 9 bodies (including 2 Austrians) buried by us, 3 prisoners 13 rifles captured. Numerous dead bodies in front of our position most could not be collected. Our casualties one officer [in margin 2nd Lt.J.E.WATERTON, Privates Lancaster, Perry] & 2 ORs killed 8 ORs wounded [Comment; Privates 200832 Arthur LANCASTER of Leighton Buzzard and 34231 Joshua PERRY of Bromley killed]
30 Nov 1917 Party of about 50 enemy attack NABALA HILL with bombs, this attack did not quite reach our position & the fire of LGs carried on immediate retirement of enemy to lower slopes of hill. A small c/attack was launched by us without loss of time & the enemy retired precipitately. A Barrage from 4.5 Battery was directed on the position of deployment in which direction he retired. Enemy casualties not known our casualties one officer seriously wounded [in margin Lt.Harold William CRONIN] Remainder of day passed quietly on our whole front. 162nd Inf Bde order No.48 as to move on night of 1/2 Dec recd.
War Diary for December 1917
1 Dec 1917 - el Yehudiyeh and Kefr Ana Quiet day. At about 1900 PINNACLE HILL and NABALA HILL were relieved by 1/8th Hants Rgt. ZEIFY HILL and Battn H.Q. relieved by 1/4th Norfolk Rgt. Battalion moved by Coys to EL YEHUDIYEH Section, and relieved 1/5th Suffolk Rgt. B Coy in Front Line at O.36.B., A Coy in Support, O.36.D., D Coy in Reserve with Bn.H.Q. at O.35.D.3.0. C Coy in 2nd Line at KEFR ANA. [Comment; Private 36863 Henry GODWIN killed]
2 Dec 1917 Quiet day. Fresh trenches marked out in Front Line and 2nd Line. [Comment; Lt Harold William CRONIN died of wounds. Battalion Chaplain Rev. J.W. HANTON arrived]
3 Dec 1917 Front Line Coy shelled in morning. Casualties 2 O'Ranks Killed 7 O'Ranks Wounded. Consolidation proceeded with. [Comment; Private 46087 Rudolph HAUER of Austria - yes, Austria, near Germany - died from his wounds, Lance Sergeant 200401 John BOON of Kempston and Private 36442 Gilbert TANNER of Shirehampton killed]
4 Dec 1917 A new Post marked and pegged out at O.85.P.326. The Support Coy was made responsible for this Post garrisoning it with 2 Platoons at night, 1 L.G. by day. Quiet day. Consolidation continued.
5 Dec 1917 H.Q. Bivouac shelled with small shrapnel. Work as usual. C Coy. moved into Reserve at Bn.Q.
6 Dec 1917 Heavy rains. A patrol proceeded to P.8.Central and got touch with the enemy at P.19.B. [Comment; Capt. & Adjutant James Francis HARE arrived from the K.R.R.C.]
7 Dec 1917 Heavy rain. Inhabitants of YEHUDIYEH and KEFR ANA were removed according to orders received. Work on Front line continued.
8 Dec 1917 Heavy Rains. Front line shelled during the afternoon. A patrol went to O.18.B. Work on Posts continued
9 Dec 1917 Rain. Work was not possible owing to wind and wet. A Coy moved their bivouac to SH.ABBAS.
10 Dec 1917 Fine day. Line extended and Battn took over Nos 1, 2 & 3 Posts from New Zealand Mtd Rifles. Dispositions of Coys now being A Coy, 2 Platoons at JUNCTION Post P.32.C. Central. Remainder of Coy at FORK Post O.36.D. C Coy 2 Platoons at OLIVE TREE Post O.39.C. Remainder of Coy at ROAD Post O.29.B. D Coy 1 Platoon at HEDGE Post O.26.C. Remainder of Coy at RED HILL Post O.23.C. B Coy in Reserve with Bn.H.Q. at O.29.A.1.2.
11 Dec 1917 A small patrol went out in the morning and located about 20 Turks in Trench at YAFA HILL O.24.A. Work was proceeded with on Posts. A patrol went in the direction of NEBY TARI and located an enemy picquet in P.25.D.
12 Dec 1917 Quiet day. Work on posts continued. A patrol to 600 yds N.W. of YAFA HILL where it located a new enemy trench.
13 Dec 1917 Enemy registered on OLIVE TREE Post during the day. A patrol to the E. of YAFA HILL found a trench being dug between YAFA HILL and trench at P.19.A.8.5. Work continued.
14 Dec 1917 Very quiet day. Work continued [Comment; Private 203151 Alfred STANBRIDGE of Maulden died]
15 Dec 1917 Very quiet day. Work on Posts continued
16 Dec 1917 Quiet day. Work as usual
17 Dec 1917 Enemy slightly shelled out front line. Work on posts as usual. 2 Patrols left out line; small enemy picquets & sentry groups located.
18 Dec 1917 Enemy shelled ROAD POST with 4.2 and 77 m/m for over an hour beginning O315 1 casualty. Remainder of day quiet. Work as usual
19 Dec 1917 Usual light shelling. Work as usual. Draft of 2 Officers 144 O'Ranks arrived. [Comment; 2/Lts Cecil A. Ivan DAMON of the Gloucester regiment, R.S. SAWYER, S.E. GEORGE, Frank GOODERHAM, MC and A.D. JARVIS of the Bedfordshire regiment arrived on the 19th and 20th].
20 Dec 1917 [Comment: The Battle of Jaffa] Slight shelling at intervals, otherwise quiet day. Work as usual
21 Dec 1917 Rather more shelling than usual. Enemy were observed to be very restless all day. Our aeroplanes were frequently fired on by all arms 2350 B Coy left our line near No.4 Post and proceeded towards the enemy trench on YAFA HILL
22 Dec 1917 - Hackney Mound and Yafa Hill 0010 B Coy assaulted YAFA HILL without Artillery Support, the bayonet being the only weapon used. The enemy put up a stiff fight but was soon overcome and the whole garrison bolted. Our men having received orders not to advance beyond a certain point did not pursue. Consolidation of the Post was immediately begun. C Coy acted as carrying party and brought up R.E. material, S.A.A. &c they remained as Working Party withdrawing at dawn 0030 YAFA SUBSECTION till then occupied by 1/10th London Regt was taken over by D & A Coy. By dawn the consolidation of YAFA HILL was sufficiently advanced to render it tenable during day. No shelling was taking place but heavy enemy M.G. fire was experienced. Our casualties were 4 O'Ranks Killed, 1 Officer & 9 O'Ranks wounded. Enemy casualties 5 Turks buried, 2 Prisoners. Considerable stores were captured. Enemy shelled our line heavily from beginning of operations to about 0300. At dawn an O.P. was established and this at once reported that the enemy was making a general retirement, Guns, Transports & troops could be seen moving N on all routes. C Coy pushed forward and occupied trenches at 018 Central and D Coy trenches at ).17.B.7.9. 1200 A line was occupied running about 1500 yds N.E. of HACKNEY MOUND, A & D Coys occupying a post each and B & C being with Bn.H.Q. at HACKNEY MOUND. [Comment; Lance Corporal 203149 Albert SANDERS of Battersea, Privates 201122 William BEESLEY, MM of Watford, 37096 Jack LAWRENCE MM of Lewisham and 21480 Frank PAMMENT of Gt. Holland were killed, with Private 27950 William FOSTER of Watford dying the next day of his wounds]
23 Dec 1917 The line was orgainsed into 3 Posts in the front line and 1 Post in the Support line. A, B & D Coys took over the posts in the Front Line C Coy the Post in the Support Line
24 Dec 1917 Work on Posts continued. Turkeys were got up from Railhead [Comment; Major Frederick George OWENS arrived from the Kings Liverpool Regiment]
25 Dec 1917 Xmas Day. No work. Heavy rains.
26 Dec 1917 Work as usual
27 Dec 1917 Work continued [Comment; Private 200907 William JOHNSON of Hitchin died]
28 Dec 1917 - Mulebbis 0400 2 party of enemy were seen approaching our Left Post, strength estimated about 60 or 70. An Officer with a patrol & 1 LG left our Post and got within 600 yds of the enemy party and opened fire with the L.G. The enemy party withdrew. 1200 Relieved by troops of 163rd Bde, our own Bde going into Divl Reserve. Troops of Reserve Bde were to billet in MULEBBIS so far as was possible. The area allocated to this unit was only capable of holding 200 men and was in a very dirty condition. It was therefore decided that the Bn should bivouac as a whole. This was done and the Bn had concentrated in the new area by 2000 29 Dec 1917 General straightening up. Some billets were inspected and chosen for Recreation Rooms & Orderly Rooms
30 Dec 1917 Voluntary Services at 1000 and 1700. [Comment; The SS Aragon was sunk in Alexandria Harbour today. Over 600 lives were lost, including 25 reinforcements bound for the 5th Battalion. See here for the story and Roll of Honour]
31 Dec 1917 Close Order Drill, Specialists Classes. A Working Party of 2 Officers & 100 O'Ranks found for Road improvement
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