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 January 1916
1-1-16 Trenches D1 2.0am M.T.R. Patrols have been out all night between the gaps on our front but nothing unusual is reported. A German working party at F10C7555 appeared but being fired on at once by our machine guns dispersed immediately. A bombing party has been all night at the far end of sap in 83 trench. This sap is being deepened, already 16 yds have been accomplished. Six reels of barbed wire have been put out opposite 83 trench. Enemy quiet in our sector but at 11.30 and onwards during the last ½ hour of the old year, kept up Machine Gun and Artillery fire on Sector D2. Our guns retaliated. Enemy are being kept under very close supervision by patrols. 1-1-16 2.0pm E.T.R. Very quiet day. Our artillery fired a few registering shots. Enemy working party seen at F1De55, Artillery informed & point registered, if see again will be fired at. Wind S.S.W.
2-1-16 2.0am M.T.R. Night very quiet. Advanced standing patrols, report work being carried on in enemy's lines at about F9D7880 and the German trench running from AEROPLANE trench to WHITE crater was held by about one man every 4 or 5 yards. About 5 yards of sap in 83 has been completed. 42 feet of wire has been put up in MATTERHORN gap. A continuous line of wire has now been erected opposite 83 trench but this will be still further strengthened. Wind W-W.S.W. Battalion on our left 11th Bn Royal Fus. 2-1-16 2.0pm A working party was shelled in CANTERBURY AVENUE at 11.30 A.M. Our guns retaliated and enemy ceased fire. Morning very quiet. trenches very wet again after rain. Wind W.
3-1-16 2.0am M.T.R. Enemy sent up flares on left subsector and rifle fire in this quarter more frequent. A patrol went out to investigate Sunken Rd. A specimen of wire opposite German trenches in front of 83 trench is sent for inspection. This patrol was one of numerous ones sent out and was led by an officer 2/Lt Rawes [Jocelyn Hugh Russell RAWES] in order to give men confidence Its object was to examine enemies' wire and to instruct and train new patrol leaders. Night otherwise very quiet. Wind S.W. Work has been continued on sap in 83 trench and 30ft of wire has been put up opposite 79 trench. Our patrols again active in crater gaps. battalion on our right 1st Cheshires 3-1-16 2.0pm E.T.R. Our guns registered sap head at F10D0506 on C2. Four grenades were sent over 77 trench we replied with West Guns and T.Mortars. Enemy fired a few small shells into 83 trench at 11.45 A.M. Our howitzers replied on the Aeroplane trench. Wind W. strong
4-1-16 2.0am M.T.R. This afternoon enemy shelled RUE ALBERT with small H.E. and a T.M. fell behind 75 trench. This was in retaliation to our guns which fired on F10C96 and Mametz. At 8 P.M. we sent over 4 T.M. shells and several bombs from West guns in reply to some bombs which enemy put into 78 trench. Our T.M. is now out of action having destroyed its own firing platform. patrols have been continually sent out but report nothing up to present. Work has been carried on in sap at 83 trench. Communication with Batt on our left has been improved by digging a path parallel to existing impassable trench. 12 yds of wire completed opposite 83. 4-1-16 2.0pm E.T.R. Enemies' trench mortar emplacement located F3A7850. Enemy working party located opposite to Matterhorn and dispersed by our guns. Occasional Rifle grenades on Front trenches. Situation otherwise quiet. Wind S.W. 12 noon G.O.C. 18th Div. inspected section D/1.
5-1-16 2am M.T.R. Patrol was sent out last night to investigate German sap by white crater. Specimen of wire and report of patrol following. between 3 and 4pm enemy fired several whiz-bangs & rifle grenades. We replied with 10 rifle grenades and 12 T.M.Bombs on F10C6970 where wood was seen to fly in the air. All enemy activity them ceased. Enemy machine guns regulated by red and green rockets very active on our working parties. Wind S.S.W. strong. 5-1-16 9-11am Bombardment going on somewhere left of our lines - ALBERT way. Weather Fair to dry 5-1-16 2pm E.T.R. Much aeroplane activity this morning. Our guns registered on enemy trenches in front of 77 trench. Enemy noted signalling with flash lamps in trenches in front of Quarry F10C76. Enemy snipers more active firing at periscopes. Wind W.
6-1-16 2am M.T.R. Enemy sent over 2 rifle grenades near Watling Street at 6.30pm and at midnight we replied with 4. Considerable more rifle fire than usual. Enemy busy trying to smash our periscopes. Enemy heavy howitzers search for our guns at 9.30pm. Night otherwise quiet. Wind W. 6-1-16 2.15pm E.T.R. At 8.15am enemy sent over numerous rifle grenades and trench mortars apparently aimed at L/18. Their grenades outnumbered ours so we retaliated with trench mortars. These did exceedingly good work. Timber was blown into the air from enemy lines opposite to the Fort. We must have inflicted serious damage on enemy. All active hostilities ceased on their part after our mortars had fired. Wind W. Weather Fair
7-1-16 1.45am M.T.R. At 4.30pm enemy fired 8 H.E. shells in rear of the Bn HQrs but did no damage. Rifle fire more frequent especially opposite trench 83 where enemy very persistently hitting our parapet. At 10.30pm enemy started to send over bombs and rifle grenades but upon our replying with 2 trench mortars they at once ceased. Every endeavour is being made to reclaim Matterhorn trench. Wind W. 16th R.Warwicks on our right flank C/2 Sector. 7-1-16 2.30pm E.T.R. Enemy fired a few shells at our working parties in Rue Albert and one or two rifle grenades but morning otherwise very quiet. Wind W. weather Fair to rain & mist 8-1-16 Morning Tactical Report. At 7.30am in response to our rifle grenades enemy shelled Bn H.Q. and Watling Street quite heavily for about 10 minutes. They were silenced by our Guns and trench Mortars. Several of enemy's shells fell also either side of Old Kent Road and between Maple Redoubt and 71 South. More flares were sent up by enemy last night but less firing. Wind L [light?] N.W.
8-1-16 Evening Tactical. German working party observed at F10C2062 about 10am. dispersed by our Guns. German working at F.10.C.45-61 fired at by one of our patrols and was sent [seen?] to fall. Corroborated by 2 N.C.O.'s who were observing at the time. Wind - W.N.W. Relieved by 12th Middx midday. Good weather 16th Warwicks on Right, 11th R.FUS.on Left
9-1-16 Méaulte Nothing to report. Good weather
10-1-16 Nothing to report. Weather Fair. Some Sun. 11-1-16 The Commander-in-Chief was in neighbourhood but did not pay us a visit
12-1-16 Nothing to report. Weather dull
13-1-16 8 shells fell in fields behind Hd.Qrs. near a bombing party & a football match. No damage.
14-1-16 Nothing to report. Instruction in Wire erecting by R.E.
15-1-16 Nothing to report. Instruction in Wire erecting by R.E.
16-1-16 Relief of 12th Middx in D/1. Good weather. Enemy shelled the hill after all our men were over. Wind S.S.E. 16th Warwicks on right flank, 6th Northants on left D/1 Trenches
17-1-16 2am Morning Tactical Report From 3.30pm-4.30pm enemy fired several whiz bangs on to our left sub sectors. At 6.15pm our machine guns dispersed enemy working party opposite to the Fort. At 9pm enemy sent over sausages and canisters all of which hit the roof of a dug out and severely bruised six men. We retaliated with trench mortars and enemy are now quiet 17-1-16 2pm Evening Tactical Report Smoke seen issuing from dugouts opposite Matterhorn Gap. Morning quiet. Our Artillery Registering. Wind S.E.E. Some excitement prevails in well-informed circles on account of a sham attack and heavy strafing which we intend administering tonight. Reports will appear later
18-1-16 2am M.T.R. Detailed reports on mine operations were despatched to you at 9.30pm. Night quiet except for occasional trench mortar from enemy. After mine explosion enemy traversed our line with trench mortars doing a good deal of damage in places. This is being repaired. Wind S.E. 18-1-16 2pm E.T.R. Work is being carried out on sap round edge of new crater. Situation quiet. Wind S.
19-1-16 2am M.T.R. Full report of mine explosion forwarded at 6.15pm. The explosion appears to have been a double one. Enemy kept up persistent bombardment with trench mortars and rifle grenades until 11pm when they were silenced by our trench mortars and guns. Total casualty from Gas 13, 2 of whom have died. Gas casualties were greatly reduced by coolness of Cpl.Blanshard [15321 Arthur Ernest BLANSHARD, DCM] & Cpl.Ivory [14619 James IVORY, DCM] who entered mine shaft & removed all gassed men. Work is being carried on cleaning damaged trenches. Wind S.S.W. 19-1-16 2pm E.T.R. Morning quiet until 12 noon when our 4.5 guns commenced firing on German trench mortar positions about F10.C65.60 and enemy replied with trench mortars on 79 trench. Work is being continued on clearing front trench round Matterhorn. Wind S.S.W. slight
20-1-16 2.25am M.T.R. At 2.45pmthis afternoon Germans sent over whiz-bangs in rear of trench 84 which was followed by 10 more. No damage done. Mine felt about 9pm apparently in Tambour. Germans also fired 8 salvos from light field pieces at R.Sussex Pioneers working in Rue Albert some of which fell near Park Lane. Our 18 pounders replied and the enemy ceased fire. Enemy trench mortar fairly active between hours of 5pm and 11pm. Our trench mortars replied in every case. Saps are being pushed out in new crater and wire put out in front. Wind S.W. 20-1-16 4.5pm E.T.R. Situation abnormally quiet until 9.30am when Germans sent over some rifle grenades into right sector. During the morning mud was observed being thrown out of trench 81 the snipers were informed and were able to stop the enemy working. In right sector a German working party was observed throwing up earth at F10C42.6 at about 8.30am. The F.O.O. turned the 18 pounders on and work ceased. At 11am several Germans were seen looking over their trench at F10C45.60. None of them wore hats and they continued to observe for some time. The T.M.Officer was informed and two footballs were sent over which fell near the spot. Our machine gun fired 500 rounds into the German wire which had been put out round new crater in Fort gap. The wire was considerably damaged and the enemy were not able to continue their wiring. Wind S.W.
21-1-16 4.15am M.T.R. Enemy very quiet up to 10.30pm when several rifle grenades were fired into 84 trench from the Aeroplane all falling short. We replied with our Ribemont grenades from battery. At 8.40pm a sentry reported 3 Germans at about F10.C65.50. Bombs were thrown at them and they disappeared. Movements were observed on further edge of crater opposite 82. We fired 2 Mills rifle grenades which had the desired effect. Canister fired from F10C70.65 at 10.35 which landed behind Fort - a dead Wind S.W. 21-1-16 4.15pm E.T.R. Enemy very quiet except for a few rifle grenades over 79 & 82 trenches this morning. We retaliated with our Ribemont batteries & the enemy ceased. Wind S.S.W.
22-1-16 4.10am M.T.R. Between 5 & 7pm enemy fairly active with their trench mortars, one landing in a small dug out in 77 trench containing 4 persons. 1 N.C.O. & 1 Man killed. Mine blown by us at 10pm. A special report has been sent in. Enemy very quiet in left sub sector subsequently evidently mending his own parapet. At 12.35am a patrol of 3 Germans was seen in lip of new German crater. Three shots were fired and one of them was hit. Wind S.S.W. 22-1-16 4.15pm E.T.R. There was some artillery activity during the morning our 18 pounders shelling Aeroplane trench & fire trench east of it. The Germans replied vigorously on Rue Albert, 83 communication trenches and Canterbury Avenue. they were also shelling a few men who were wiring in front of gun positions. Possibly they suspected a relief. Wind W.
23-1-16 4.15am M.T.R. Enemy very quiet up to 5pm yesterday afternoon the time we exploded the mine. It was entirely successful and filled in greater part of Quarry Gap the new crater extending to within 5 yards of Round Pond on right and about 5 yds of Fort crater on left being about 30yds from our front line at nearest point. This information was brought in by 2nd Lt.G.H.A.Hughes [George Henry Augustus HUGHES] with patrol. This patrol and also a party sent out from Quarry were fired on from further side of Round Pond. Two saps are being dug to new crater one from left of Quarry and the other from right of Fort. 23-1-16 4.15pm E.T.R. Morning very quiet until 9.30am when enemy sent over a few rifle grenades in the Rue Albert. Our rifle grenade battery silenced enemy. One German was shot by a sentry post opposite Fort. Heavy bombardment heard this morning further south. Wind S.S.W. 24-1-16 4.15am M.T.R. Enemy very quiet up to 5.15pm at about which time the T.M. in C/2 sent over 4 or 5 footballs. This brought retaliation on our sector behind 77 trench one falling right in fire trench & blocking it. Our T.M. then joined in and after sending a few more trench mortars and rifle grenades enemy sent over two 5.9" shrapnel shells aimed at our T.M. position. This finished the strafe and except for one more T.M. at 12.45 the rest of night has been quiet. Two bearings taken on German T.M. position shows it to be about F10.C90.65. They apparently have two machines, one laid on C/2 and the other on 77 trench. Examination of new crater in Quarry Gap shows it to be very deep with steep sides. Wind slight W. breeze.
24-1-16 E.T.R. Enemy very quiet and no activity on either side 3pm Relieved by 12th Middlesex
25-1-16 Méaulte Bathing carried out
26-1-16 10.30am Enemy sent over one round battery fire at men playing football North Rd end. No damage done. 3pm Enemy sent two rounds battery fire over MÉAULTE one round of which were duds, otherwise day quiet. Parades carried out.
27-1-16 10.30am Enemy sent over 6 shells which landed North Rd end of Village. No material damage. 8pm Notification received that 48th Division were being gassed. Stood-to with helmets ready. All clear by 8.33pm. Enemy sent another round battery fire at same place at about 10pm. Parades carried out.
28-1-16 Day quiet nothing to report. Bombardment heard on our right. Germans gain ground from French.
29-1-16 Day quiet until 2.30pm when Germans sent over 6 high explosives shrapnel which landed behind No.101 High St. injuring two Ptes in R.E. They repeated this again at 4.15pm since when all has been quiet, except for increased bombardment heard on our right
30-1-16 Day quiet. Nothing unusual to report. Weather misty
31-1-16 Day quiet until 5 pm when enemy gassed D/2 sector. Battalion move off, battle order, to sandpits on Le Carcaillot-Bray Road. After an exchange of artillery & machine gun fire during which period several enemy shells passed over Méaulte, everything quietened down and Battalion returned to billets at 7.15pm.
War Diary for February 1916
1-2-16 Meaulte Nothing to report. Day quiet
2-2-16 Nothing to report. Day quiet
3-2-16 11.30am Enemy sent over 3 dud shells one of which slightly damaged a house near church 2pm March to La Houssoye according to attached table of moves [attached moves, section missing] ...soon as relief has been reported complete. After this 6th Northants and 1 Company 7th Bedfords at Bécordel will come under G.O.C. 20th Bde. The Coy 7th Bedfords at Bécordel will remain as Garrison until relieved by a Coy of 20th Bde. On 5th Feby, after which it will join its Bn at La Houssoye. O.C.Garrison will report when he has handed over and will not move until permission is obtained from 20th Bde HQrs. 1 Btn 20th Bde will be relieving the 7th Queens in D/3 on 5th Feby. This Btn will move by the Willow Ravine its transport by the Albert-Bellevue Farm Road. Completion of relief will be reported by both Btns to 54th Bde HQrs Méaulte. 54th Bde HQrs will close at Méaulte on completion of relief on 4th Feby. It will open for routine correspondence at the Shooting Lodge at 12 noon 4th. 6pm Arrived La Houssoye
4-2-16 La Houssoye Nothing to report. Day quiet
5-2-16 to 14-2-16 Nothing to report. Day quiet. Conference at Bde H.Qrs. 10-2-16 Major Mills [George Pilkington MILLS, DSO] on leave. Capt.Meautys [Paul Reginald MEAUTYS] C.O. 13-2-16. 2/Lts B.C.Foster [Bernard C FOSTER] & Ross Taylor [Ian Henry Munro ROSS-TAYLOR] arrived
15-2-16 Information from Bde. That a German captured by the French stated that the Germans were attacking over D Sector on early morning of 15th but nothing happened
16-2-16 Nothing to Report. Very rough weather
17-2-16 Nothing to Report. Played Middlesex Rugger - Won
18-2-16 Nothing to Report. Lieut.E.W.Benson [Ernest Wallace BENSON, MC]rejoined from Hospital
19-2-16 Rained all day. Zeppelin over Amiens with a bomb. Brigade visited Orderly Room
20-2-16 Fine Day. Played 12th Middlesex Soccer - Won
21-2-16 Rained all day. Conference for C.O.s & Adjutants at Bde.Hqrs
22-2-16 Nothing to Report. First night of Bde. Boxing Competition - New Bde Major arrived (Capt.R.Davidson)
23-2-16 New Staff Captain (Lt.Stutfield) arrived & Visited Orderly Room
24-2-16 Snowed very heavy. Accident at Bde. Bombing School Lt.Smith & 2nd Lt.I.H.M.Ross-Taylor [Ian Henry Munro ROSS-TAYLOR] injured
25-2-16 Snowed all day. Nothing to report
26-2-16 Beat Middlesex Soccer. Brigade Boxing Final
27-2-16 Nothing to Report
28-2-16 Nothing to Report
29-2-16 Move to Corbie ordered for 1.3.16. Vide 54th Brigade Operation Order attached. 18th Division transferred to 13th Corps.
War Diary for March
1916 1-3-16 Corbie Arrival at Corbie. Conference for C.O. & Adjt. At 8pm at Bde.H.Q.
2-3-16 C.O. Adjt. & Coy Commanders visited trench which it is proposed we are taking over - A Sector 3-3-16 C.O. & Adjt. Conf. At Bde. 11am
3-4-16 Fine Day. Enemy quiet. 11th R.Fus. relieved last night from Bronfay & now in A.1.
4-3-16 9am Fitting Clothing and Route Marches under company arrangements. Weather very cold and windy - frequent sleet & snow.
5-3-16 3.30pm Marched from Corbie to BRAY-SUR-SOMME. G.O.C. 54th Brigade and G.O.C. 18th Div. Both inspected the battalion while on the march and expressed their approval of march discipline and general appearance of troops. March orders attached herewith.
Carnoy Trenches 6-3-16 2pm Relieved 2nd Yorkshire Regt. In Sector A.2. Relief Completed 9.30pm. Relief Orders attached herewith. 12th Middx on right 22nd Manchesters on left.
7-3-16 Night very quiet. Sharp Frost which made trenches very sticky. Work commenced on Dug out at H.Qrs. and cleaning of communication trenches. General Maxse visited the sector.
8-3-16 3.30am Morning Tactical Report. At 5.20pm enemy sent over some heavy shells towards BRAY and fired several rifle grenades, most of which fell short near 50 trench. Situation otherwise calm. Wind N.N.E. Br.Gen.Shoubridge visited sector 10am. 8-3-16 3.15pm Evening Tactical Report. Enemy sent over one or two rifle grenades which fell short of 48 trench. We dispersed a working party by our Artillery Fire at A2D8152. At 2pm enemy whizzbanged Centre Coy. And Montauban Road but were silenced by our guns. Enemy aircraft was driven back over its own lines by one of our aeroplanes. Wind E.N.E. Situation quiet.
9-3-16 Day fine but dull and cold. C Coy. relieved B Coy. in centre sub sector. 11th R.Fus. relieved 12th Middx on our right and 22nd Manchesters relieved 21st Manchesters on our left last night. G.O.C. 54th Brigade inspected our trenches with O.C. R.E. Enemy very quiet except for an occasional rifle Grenade into centre subsector
10-3-16 Day fine but dull. Considerable fall of snow which made trenches very muddy. Battn. conference over Defence scheme at H.Qrs. 2 pm. Enemy very quiet all day and night. Heavy bombardment has been going on tonight N. of Albert.
12-3-16 Bray Nothing to report. Fine Day.
13-3-16 Nothing to report. Fine day.
14-3-16 Day fine. Adjutant and Brigadier Visited trenches together. A Bosch aeroplane dropped 2 bombs at the end of Bray 9pm. 53rd Brigade moved into 30th Div.
15-3-16 Relieved 6th Northants in A2. Relief completed 10.40pm. Operation Orders attached. part of 53rd Brigade moves as per March Table.
16-3-16 Trenches A2 Sniping fairly vigorous on part of enemy. 1 Cpl. Sniped in B Coy (in Saps) otherwise enemy quiet. Fine, but dull day, slight rain about 4 pm. 55th Brigade move to Corbie.
17-3-16 Vide March table. Day fine. More than usual aerial and artillery activity.
18-3-16 Day fine & quiet. Nothing to report.
19-3-16 Bedfords relieved by 6th Northants. 12th Middx vacated Bronfay for A.1. & 7th Beds took over Bronfay. Relief complete at 10.5 pm.
20-3-16 Bronfay Nothing to report.
21-3-16 Morning Quiet. Intermittent Shelling during Afternoon. fatigues all day.
22-3-16 Fine Day. Nothing to Report.
23-3-16Nothing to Report. G.O.C. Div. & Corps visited Bronfay & A2 Sector. Morning Wet.
24-3-16 Nothing to report.
25-3-16 A2 Sector Relieved 6th Northants in A2 - relief completed 9.15 pm. 11th Fusiliers on right
26-3-16 Quiet Day. Cold. No movement at all.
27-3-16 Relieved 6th Northants & went to Bray. Fusiliers relieved by 12th Middx.
28-3-16 Bray Very quiet day. Much Finer. Fatigues & training carried on.
29-3-16 Attempted to Snow in morning, afternoon quiet. Nothing to report.
30-3-16 Nothing to report. Day Quiet
31-3-16 Nothing to report. Day Quiet & Fine.
War Diary for April 1916
1-4-16 Fine Day. Nothing to report.
2-4-16 Fine Day. Relieved 6th Northants in Sector A.2. Relief completed at 10.5p.m.
4-4-16 Fine Day. Enemy quiet. Nothing to report.
5-4-16 Considerable enemy activity with Artillery during morning. Several rifle grenades landed right into our trenches.
6-4-16 Situation calm. Nothing to report.
7-4-16 Concerted Strafe on craters with 2" T.M., Stokes Gun, 18 pdrs & Hows. Considerable damage done. Enemy reply very feeble.
8-4-16 Relieved by 6th Northants. Went to Bronfay Farm. Relief complete 9.30 p.m.
Bronfay 9-4-16 Nothing to report. Whole Battalion on fatigues.
10-4-16 Nothing to report. A German captured by the French gave particulars of an impending attack on "A" Sector but nothing so far happened.
11-4-16 Intermittent shelling of Bronfay & district. One shell hit extreme corner of barn but no damage.
12-4-16 An uneventful day.
13-4-16 2am Severe hostile bombardment of Bronfay & district with 10cm & 15cm shells. Battn. "Stood To" and "Stood Down" again at 4am. Germans raided A2 subsector (6th Northants holding the line). Several casualties. One man of ours on morning fatigue & in front line at the time - missing. Several dead Bosches lying out between the lines at 6am. 1 Captured & sent to Brigade.
14-4-16 Sorting out & burying Germans occupied our attention & no unusual movements of us or the Germans. A2
15-4-16 Relieved 6th Northants in A2 yesterday. 12th Middx relieved by 11th R.Fus. Nothing to report.
16-4-16 Captured a Bosche prisoner of 6th Entrenching Bn who took part in raid with 62nd Regiment on 13/14 night.
17-4-16 Situation calm. Weather cold wet & windy.
18-4-16 Enemy very quiet. Nothing to report. Fine weather.
19-4-16 An uneventful day.
20-4-16 Relieved by 6th Northants. Nothing to report.
Bray 21-4-16 Nothing to report.
22-4-16 Day Quiet. Nothing to report.
23-4-16 Day Quiet. Nothing to report.
24-4-16 Day Quiet. Nothing to report.
25-4-16 Day Quiet. Nothing to report. A2
26-4-16 Relieved 6th Northants in A2 Sector early morning. Relief complete 12.40pm. Hostile aeroplane dropped bombs just by Bray Church. A Hole in road and windows etc. broken was the only damage. No casualties. We raided German trenches night of 26/27th. No killed but 2/Lieut.H.Driver [Harry DRIVER, DSO, MC] wounded & 13 others. [Comment; see Times article "Raid on Carnoy" and May Appendices]
27-4-16 Quiet day. Nothing to report.
28-4-16 Quiet day. Nothing to report.
29-4-16 Enemy shelled Carnoy for about 2½ hours. No damage nor casualties.
30-4-16 Quiet day up till evening. Enemy shelled support line & Hd.Qrs. for about 1½hrs. rather heavily - Communication trenches to front line damaged. 8 casualties.
War Diary for May 1916
1-5-16 Nothing happened of any importance in A2 Sector. 12th Middx. were relieved by 11th R.Fus. in A1. 31.4.16. 19th Manchesters on our left. General Officer Commanding 54th Brigade requested the C.O. to publish in Battn. Orders the communiqué appearing in the Times of 29th April respecting the raid carried out on night of 26/27th April by D Company. Complimentary Order attached. [Comment; see May 1916 Appendices].
2-5-16 General MacAndrew visited trenches in morning. Fine Day. Enemy very quiet day & night. 2/Lieut.H.J.Cartwright [Henry Joseph CARTWRIGHT] joined for duty. Capt.L.H.Keep [Leslie Howard KEEP. DSO] & Capt.W.H.Bull [Wilfred Herbert BULL] sat as members of a F.G.C.M. in A1 Sector Headquarters at 10.30 a.m. Revd.G.Jarvis Smith (Wesleyan Chaplain) posted to the Battn. by 54th Brigade.
3-5-16 2nd Wiltshire Regiment relieved 11th Royal Fusiliers on our right. Day and night was fine & enemy quiet except for an occasional shell towards Bronfay.
4-5-16 Day quiet. relieved by 18th King's Liverpool Regt. 21st Brigade. Relief completed at 9.15 pm with no casualties. two companies proceeded to Froissy (A & B) & two companies (C & D) took over billets in BRAY. Battalion Headquarters in No.4 Rue Gambetta BRAY. Arrived in billets early morning of 5th
BRAY 5-5-16 2-3am A very heavy Artillery duel on our right in the direction of FROISSY. Fine day & warm. General cleaning up & resting prior to proceeding on fatigue tomorrow.
6-5-16 Fatigue taken over from 30th Division. D Company at BRONFAY working on tramway line from BRONFAY FARM to BILLON WOOD. A Company sent 50 men to Ecluse Mericourt for permanent fatigue of unloading barges. Brigade School of Instruction for Specialists commenced at Oissy. Sent 5 Officers & 70 Other ranks.
7-5-16 Fatigues & training carried on. Physical Training in early morning. Adjutant's parade for All N.C.O's & men available at 10 a.m. Weather Fine & dry.
8-5-16 Fatigues & training carried on as per programme. Weather cold rained most of the day. Nothing exciting occurred in BRAY. Everything very quiet.
9-5-16 Fatigues & training carried on as per programme. The Defence Post allotted to this Battn. by 30th Division is the area NE of BRAY with an Office representing the Battalion at road junction L 9 d 9/2. Musketry range opened at field just off Cappy Road. Brig.Genl.H.Shoubridge proceeded on leave Lt.Colonel G.D.Price [George Dominic PRICE, CMG] in command of 54th Brigade. Weather Fine & dry.
10-5-16 Training & fatigues carried on as per programme. 2 Officers & 13 Other ranks proceeded on leave (12th to 21st) day quiet. Weather Fine & Dry. C.O. called a conference of Company Commanders at 10 a.m. Musketry carried out on the range. All employed men & details fired. Weather Fine & Dry.
11-5-16 Training & fatigues carried on as per programme. Nearly all men employed on fatigue. Those not on fatigue paraded at 10 a.m. under the Adjutant. Day cold & squally.
12-5-16 Training & fatigues carried on as per programme. Day very quiet; nothing of importance occurred. At night a few shells dropped near the La Neuville end of BRAY. Day wet & dull.
13-5-16 Early hours of morning a severe bombardment went on between the Germans & the French. A few shells fell near FROISSY & BRAY. A few bugles sounded the "Standfast" in BRAY but the excitement died down about 2.30 a.m. Fatigues carried on but parades cancelled on account of rain.
14-5-16 Fatigues & training carried on. Weather changeable with rain. Lieut.Colonel G.D.Price [George Dominic PRICE, CMG] appointed Commandant of 18th Divisional School vice Colonel Fiennes to date from 20th May. Col.Price [George Dominic PRICE, CMG] proceeded to 18th Div. Headquarters.
15-5-16 Fatigues & training carried out as usual. Captain E.Clegg [Ernest CLEGG] assumed command of the Battn. until Major G.P.Mills [George Pilkington MILLS, DSO] returns from leave. A Company & B Company vacated billets at Froissy & joined the other two companies at Bray. French troops arrived at Froissy & took over our vacated billets.
16-5-16 Fatigues & training carried out as usual, most of the Battn. being on fatigues. 2/Lieuts.H.H.Pizey [Herbert Harry PIZEY] & W.H.Bennett joined for duty & posted to D Company. Fine weather & warm. Enemy aeroplane over Bray during morning about 8 a.m.
17-5-16 Major G.P.Mills [George Pilkington MILLS, DSO] returned from leave and assumes command of the Battn. from 18th inst. inclusive. Very fine weather. Training and fatigues carried out as usual. Nothing of importance occurred.
18-5-16 Fine day, very warm. Received notification that following decorations had been awarded by Commander-in-Chief. D.S.O. - 2/Lieut.H.Driver [Harry DRIVER, DSO, MC] D.C.M. - L/Sgt.Mills [14753 Walter Frederick MILLS, DCM]; Military Medal - Cpl.A.H.S.Joyce [22101 Alexander Hugh Sinclair JOYCE, MM] and L/Cpl.Lancaster [3/7669 Alexander LANCASTER, MM & Bar]. [From Raid on Carnoy, April] Most of the Battn. on fatigue. Those who were left carried out Bombing & Bayonet Exercises under the Adjutant.
19-5-16 very Fine day - warm. Training and fatigues as usual. Nothing of importance happened in Bray. A few shells of large calibre dropped in the vicinity of Bray at about 7 p.m.
20-5-16 Night quiet. From 8 a.m. till about 9.30 a.m. the BRAY-CORBIE Road was steadily shelled by large calibre shells. No damage to our billets but a few casualties & a slight damage was sustained by the S.Staffords. Day very fine.
21-5-16 Divine Service, Voluntary. Fine & quiet day. No 15635 Pte.F.E.Groves [15653 Frederick E.J. GROVES] accidentally drowned while bathing near the Bridge on the BRAY-FROISSY Road. Court of Enquiry proceedings held & forwarded to A.G. & 54th Brigade.
22-5-16 Fine Day & quiet. A German aeroplane over BRAY during early hours but was dispersed by our A.A. Guns.
23-5-16 Day dull & Showery. Nothing of importance occurred.
24-5-16 Fine Day & quiet. Brigadier General Visited BRAY & called into our Hdqrs. Fatigues & Training carried on as usual. Nothing to report.
25-5-16 Fine day. 4 Officers arrived: 2/Lieut.R.B.Rednall, [Reginald Barry REDNALL, MC] 2/Lieut.A.H.C.Gibson [Alexander Horace Cecil GIBSON], 2/Lieut.G.J.Luscombe [Cridland John LUSCOMBE], 2/Lieut.J.Cunningham [James CUNNINGHAM]. Fatigues as before. Bn.Hq.Qrs. moved from Rue Gambetta to Rue Phillipe Auguste. Not such good billets as those we vacated but after being cleaned up they looked more respectable.
26-5-16 Bronfay tram line fatigue discontinued & carried on by 53rd Brigade. We took over fatigues of 7th Buffs, cable burying for XIII Corps Artillery. Draft of 7 N.C.O's & 70 men arrived from Base (5th Entrenching Battn.). Fine day & quiet.
27-5-16 Fine day. Captain J.H.Bridcutt [John Henry BRIDCUTT, DSO] proceeded on leave & 2/Lieut.F.E.Dealler [Frank Everard DEALLER] took over the duties of Adjutant. 2/Lieuts J.D.Hopper [John Dickson HOPPER] & G.B.Hasler [Gordon Beverly HASLER] joined for duty.
28-5-16 Divine Service - Voluntary. Capt.L.H.Keep [Leslie Howard KEEP] & Sergt.Cornell proceeded on course at 4th Army School. Brigadier General Shoubridge visited Hdqrs 10-11 a.m. Fine day, another lot of N.C.O.'s & men proceeded to 54th Brigade Schools of Instruction in place of those returned 27-5-16.
29-5-16 Fine day. fatigues carried on as usual. Town Major BRAY inspected the billets & congratulated on [sic] all ranks on the improvements effected.
30-5-16 Fatigues carried on as before but had to commence at 4.15 a.m. to enable men to get back to bathe during morning. Fine day. 7th Bn. Bedfordshire Regiment mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig's first despatch published in London Gazette Supplement 29-5-16.
31-5-16 G.O.C. 54th Brigade visited BRAY, called into our Headquarters to discuss matter of fatigues. Division require 600 men. Difficult to find them. Fine Day.
War Diary for June 1916
Bray 1-6-16 Quiet Day & Fine. 70 men of B Company employed on Barge Fatigue; remainder and all available N.C.O.s and men of A & D Companies employed on burying cable for 13" Corp[s] Heavy Artillery. Battn. H.Qrs. in Rue Phillippe Auguste. A Company next door B Company Rue Faidherbe, C Company Rue Phillippe August[e], D Company Rue Faidherbe.
2-6-16 Fine Day. Usual Fatigues during the morning. Similar fatigues at night commencing at about 10 pm so that men could get a holiday on Saturday & Sunday. During fatigue, heavy strafe of our guns began on German lines. (Manchesters said). We had 1 killed and wounded by M.G. fire.
3-6-16 No fatigues except B Company on Barge fatigue. Day fine. Instructions received that cable burying fatigue for Corps would cease from Sunday inclusive, and that we should be employed on cable burying fatigue for 18th Div. Sigs.
4-6-16 Day Quiet night of 3/4th saw some heavy Artillery duels. but nothing of importance occurred. B & D Companies marched to Corbie to take over fatigues of 1 Coy. 6th Northants and 1 platoon 12th Middx. Operation Orders attached. General Maxse visited Hd.Qrs. to discuss fatigues and arranged that we should furnish 70 men for barges and the remainder on cable burying fatigue for Sigs. 18th Division.
5-6-16 Day Quiet. Unsettled weather. Nothing unusual to report. Fatigues as usual. Furnished guard for 53rd Bde. H.Qrs. 2/Lieut.J.H.R.Rawes [Jocelyn Hugh Russell RAWES] assumes command of D Company pending the return of Capt.T.E.Lloyd [Tom Edmund LLOYD] from leave. Leave allotment reduced from 13 places to 9 places. The following honours appeared in the King's Birthday Honours List: D.C.M. : 3/7753 L/Cpl.A.Jones. [3/7753 Albert JONES, DCM]; Military Medal: 3/7669 L/Cpl.A.Lancaster [3/7669 Alexander LANCASTER, MM & Bar]; 22101 Cpl.A.H.S.Joyce; [22101 Alexander Hugh Sinclair JOYCE, MM] 17514 Private W Wilsher [17514 Charles WILSHER, MM].
6-6-16 Day quiet; wet weather. Draft of 7 N.C.O.s and 38 men arrived from No.2 Entrenching Battn. Fatigues as usual. Captain E.Clegg [Ernest CLEGG] returned from leave after being a spectator of the great naval battle on H.M.S. "Revenge" [Comment: this would become known as 'The Battle of Jutland'].
7-6-16 Wet day with occasional bursts of sun. News of the tragic death of Lord Kitchener reached Bray about 4 pm and caused great consternation and general depression. Fatigues as usual.
8-6-16 Wet day; very miserable weather. Captain J.H.Bridcutt [John Henry BRIDCUTT, DSO] returned from leave night of 7th inst and resumed duties of Adjutant morning of 8th inst. 2/Lieut.F.E.Dealler [Frank Everard DEALLER] acting adjutant returns to his company at Corbie.
9-6-16 Day Quiet with showers of rain. C Company and part of A on cable fatigue, remainder of A on barge fatigues & other small guards etc. Leave allotment reduced to 4 places per Battalion. Amiens placed out of bounds to all British troops except those on very special urgent business.
10-6-16 Orders for move received. handed over fatigues t o 10th Essex Regt. (18th Div) B & D Companies moved by train from Corbie to Picquigny. Indifferent weather.
Bray/Picquigny 11-6-16 A & C Companies and Bn Hd.Qrs. moved from Bray to Picquigny to commence Brigade Training. Operation Orders attached. Arrived Picquigny 10.20 am. Brigadier General T.H.Shoubridge met the Battn at the Station and watched it march to billets. Headquarters in the main Amiens road.
[Picquigny] 12-6-16 Men were given a clear day. Brigadier, C.O. and all officers visited the practice trenches in the morning and the N.C.O.s proceeded to the same place at 12.30 pm. Weather dull and rainy. Draft of 49 arrived during night and early morning of 13th inst.
13-6-16 Wet morning. Draft paraded and sorted out. First real day of Brigade Training. All the Bn. out at practice trenches. Returned about 6 pm.
14-6-16 Fine Day. Brigade Training carried out according to programme. At 11 pm the time is advanced one hour, 11 pm becoming 12 midnight. Lieut.H.C.Browning [Herbert Compton BROWNING, MC] relinquishes post of T.O. and returns to duty with B Coy.
15-6-16 Fine Day. Brigade Training carried out practice attack on trenches. Bn on duty for Brigade. Furnished Bde H.Q. Guard and Picquigny Sanitary fatigue.
16-6-16 Fine Day. Brigade carried out practise [sic] attack on trench. battn. returned to billets at 6.30 pm. 2/Lieut.R.Cathcart-Nicholls proceeded to Hd.Qrs R.F.C. on probation as an observer.
17-6-16 Good weather. Bn. proceeded to practise trenches for Brigade Training and returned to billets at 6 pm.
18-6-16 Orders received for Bn to move to Grovetown Camp and be attached to 53rd Bde. but were cancelled about noon. Bn out on the training are practising the attack. No 23738 Pte.Griffin J [23738 John GRIFFIN] C.Coy shot himself - died in Field Amb.
19-6-16 Fine Day. Btn. on duty for Brigade. Furnished H.Qrs Guard & Town Major's Sanitary Fatigue.
20-6-16 Fine day. Companies training under company arrangements. leave allotment reduced to 3 places every 10 days. 2/Lieut.F.E.Tilton [Frank E. TILTON] proceeded to R.E. Dump Bray to relieve 2/Lieut.Covell [Hugh Cecil COVELL] sick. Brigade Open Air Concert.
21-6-16 Companies training under company arrangements. Captain E.Clegg [Ernest CLEGG] sat as member of F.G.C.M. at Town Hall Picquigny.
22-6-16 Quiet Day. Men given a rest to prepare for move tomorrow. [Picquigny/ Grovetown Camp]
23-6-16 Battn moved from Picquigny to Grovetown Camp in accordance with attached Operation Orders No.19. Arrived Grovetown Camp about 3 pm. Changeable weather. Very hot and much rain.
[Grovetown Camp] 24-6-16 Battn. at Grovetown till 11.30 pm. Moved to A.2. Sector Trenches and took over 54th Brigade Battle Front.
[Carnoy Trenches] 25-6-16 Holding the line. Area rather crowded and casualties a few above normal. Artillery bombardment going on all day and all night. Germans made feeble reply by day but seemed to wake up at night.
26-6-16 Artillery bombardment as yesterday. Heavy retaliation and many casualties. One shell fell in C Coy. Off. Mess. 2/Lts Baden & Hasler killed. Capt.Clegg [Ernest CLEGG], 2/Lts Doake [Richard Lionel Vere DOAKE, DSO, MC] & Johnson [Evelyn Walter James JOHNSON] wounded.
27-6-16 Bombardment carrying on. 11th R.Fusiliers arrived at Carnoy and went into support line. Orderly Room and officers dugouts shared on account of limited space.
28-6-16 Fine Day. 12th Middlesex took over front line of 54th Brigade from 7 Bedfords. 7 Bedfords proceeded to Bray arriving at 1 am
29.6.16. 29-6-16 Fine Day. Btn. resting and cleaning up.
30-6-16 Fine Day. Battalion proceeded to trenches Carnoy. 54 Brigade concentrated in trenches of 54 Brigade Battle Front. 11th R.Fusiliers & 7 Bedfords in attacking line 6th Northants in support 12 Middx in Reserve. Operation orders in War Diary of July [Comment: see appendices].
War Diary for July 1916
Carnoy Trenches 1-7-16 [Comment: The Battles of the Somme 1916 - the Battle of Albert] At about midnight on night of June 30th/July 1st 1916 the whole of the 54th Brigade was concentrated on its Battle Front ready for the assault on morning of 1st July. Assaulting Battalions were 7th Bedfords & 11th R.Fusiliers, in support: 6th Northants and in reserve 12th Middlesex. An artillery bombardment waged heavily all night and increased in intensity up till 7.30 am, Zero Hour, when the assaulting Battalions stormed the German first line trenches. Operation Orders appended. A special account of the events is being compiled by the Commanding Officer and will be appended hereto also [comment; see July appendices for casualty list and detailed reports and September Appendices for Cpt. Bull's report]
Pommiers 2-7-16 At about 2 am, after consolidating as much of Pommiers Redoubt Redoubt & Beetle Alley & New Trench as was possible in the time, the Battalion returned to Carnoy from the enemy's captured trenches & rested. At about 7 pm. the Battn. moved forward again as a reserve Battn to Emden & Austrian Trenches (German). Battn.Hd.Qrs. at Piccadilly.
3-7-16 Battn. remained in these Trenches all day till about 6 p.m. and then returned to Carnoy in Caftet Wood. 2 coys remaining in German first line trenches. Battn.Hd.Qrs. at Suicide Corner on the Montauban Road.
4-7-16 Battn. resting in Carnoy Wood positions as on 3rd inst. general attack progressing favourably. Much traffic, guns and convoys, in Carnoy.
Carnoy 5-7-16 Battalion remained all day in Carnoy & Caftet Wood. Weather changeable with intermittent rain. Carnoy, 5-7-16 Battalion remained all day in Carnoy & Caftet Wood. Weather changeable with intermittent rain.
The Loop 6-7-16 Battalion in Carnoy & Caftet Wood till about 6 pm when it moved forward to Pommiers Trench & Caterpillar Trench. Battalion headquarters at the Loop. Soon after arrival enemy shelled Battn.Hdqrs. with Lachrymatory shells. No material damage but slight discomfort was caused.
The Loop 7-7-16 Battalion still holding Caterpillar Trench & Pommiers Trench which the enemy subjected to much Artillery Fire. Weather wet and accommodation in German trench dugouts somewhat limited.
8-7-16 Battalion still holding Caterpillar Trench & Pommiers Trench. Rather more artillery activity than usual. A machine Gun emplacement was hit by a shell & 4 of the team were killed. Dull & wet weather.
9-7-16 Weather fine. Battalion relieved at 5.30 pm by 14th Bn.Kings Liverpool Regt. and returned to dugouts in the vicinity of Bronfay Farm. A complimentary letter received from 54th Brigade regarding "Good Patrol Work" which has been recognised by the Corps Commander.
Bronfay/Bois des 10-7-16 Battalion moved from Bronfay Farm district to BOIS des Tailles TAILLES leaving dugouts at 11 am and arriving at Camp at about 3 p.m. the entire Brigade & Bde.Hd.Qrs. billeted here. Qr.Mr.Stores remained at Grovetown. Fine weather. 10-7-16 Battalion moved from Bronfay Farm district to BOIS des TAILLES leaving dugouts at 11 am and arriving at Camp at about 3 p.m. The entire Brigade & Bde.Hd.Qrs. billeted here. Qr.Mr.Stores remained at Grovetown. Fine weather.
11-7-16 Battalion resting & cleaning up. Bathing by companies during the morning and afternoon. A draft of 50 which had arrived on 7th were brought up from Grovetown Camp & posted to Companies.
Bois des Tailles 12-7-16 Fine weather. Battalion remained at Bois des Tailles. Nothing of special importance to the Battalion occurred during the day - received orders for move to Trigger Wood.
Bois des Tailles 13-7-16 Battalion marched from Bois des Tailles to Trigger Wood Trigger Wood (South of Bronfay) via Grovetown Camp & Bray-Bronfay Road. Arrived about 12 noon and remained till about 1 am next morning. Fine weather. Enemy shelling Suzanne during the night.
Trigger Wood 14-7-16 [Comment: The Battles of the Somme 1916 - The Battle of Bazentin] Received sudden orders just after midnight of 13th inst. Maricourt to proceed to Maricourt. A very heavy Artillery Battle raged during the entire night and did not cease till after dawn of 14th inst. The Brigade was wound up with orders to retake Trones Wood which had been lost by the 55th Brigade. The 12th Middlesex & 6th Northants Regt. were the assaulting Battns, 11th Royal Fusiliers held the advanced trenches, 7th Bedfords were in Reserve in Trenches at Maricourt. On night of 13/14th July the German 2nd line trenches were taken from Bazentin-le-Petit to Longueval including the woods at these villages.
Maricourt 15-7-16 Battalion at Maricourt. Head Quarters in dugouts about 500 yards from maricourt Wood on the Montauban Road. First portion of enemy's third line penetrated at Bois de Fourneau.
16-7-16 Battn. remained in same position. Orders were received to hold ourselves in readiness to attack in conjunction with 11th Royal Fusiliers the village of Guillemont. As the leading Companies were moving off at about 2 pm to get into their battle positions the time was postponed and eventually the orders for the assault for that day were cancelled.
17-7-16 Fresh orders were received regarding the assault on Guillemont. 53rd Brigade were to co-operate in the attack, their objective being the north eastern half of the village. At the same time a Battalion of Bantams from the 53rd [sic 35th?] Division were to attack Ginchy from the edge of Delville Wood. These orders were again cancelled but Battn. remained under orders to move at a moment's notice to battle positions previous to assaulting Guillemont. Middlesex & Northampton Regts relieved by 2 Battns. of Bantams from 35th Division.
18-7-16 At about 3 pm it was rumoured that the 54th Brigade would not be called on to attack Guillemont owing to the heavy casualties it occurred on July 1st and in the re-taking of Trones Wood. Enemy's artillery very active throughout the day. 4 pm the Battn. cookhouse was shelled and some casualties sustained. Left Maricourt very suddenly at about 9 pm and proceeded to Bois des Tailles (North) taking over same camp as before.
Bois des Tailles 19-7-16 Fine day. Men given a rest to clean up after somewhat rough time in trenches. Nothing of importance occurred. Following Officers who joined the Battn. while in Maricourt were posted to Coys as stated: Lieut.W.G.Lacey [Walter Graham LACEY] A Coy. 2/Lieut.H.F.Trewman B Coy. 2/Lt.T.E.Adlam [Tom Edwin ADLAM, VC] C Coy. 2/Lieut.I.H.M.Ross Taylor [Ian Henry Munro ROSS-TAYLOR] A Coy. 2/Lieut.C.B.Kydd [Chester Bishop KYDD] B Coy. 2/Lieut.R.E.Moyse [Robert Edwin MOYSE] C Coy. 2/Lieut.E.G.Pernet [Ernest George PERNET] A Coy. 2/Lieut.D.A.Roeber [David Arnold ROEBER] C Coy. Capt.T.R.J.Mulligan [Thomas Reginald John MULLIGAN] D Coy. 2/Lieut.T.P.Wilson [Thomas Percy WILSON] B Coy. 2Lieut.H.F.Graves C Coy. 2/Lt.J.H.Kay [John Hubert KAY] D Coy.
20-7-16 Day Fine & quiet. Expecting orders to move today but first Line Transport only moved, and proceeded to destination unknown, bivouacing one night near Querrieux. Following officers arrived and posted to Coys: - 2/Lt.R.D.Hunston [Robert Donald HUNSTON] (A), 2/Lt.H.Potts [Henry POTTS] (D), 2/Lt.W.Rankin [William RANKIN] (B). Capt.E.E.Bull [Ernest Edward BULL] (B Coy.) Employed as supernumerary Transport Officer.
Bois des Tailles 21-7-16 Battn. moved from bois des Tailles and marched to Citerne Edgehill Station (between Buire & Dernancourt) arriving there at 11 am. Owing to heavy traffic it did not entrain till 3p.m. and eventually arrived at Longpré at 9 pm. After a long delay it was entrained to Wiry arriving there at 11 pm. From Wiry the Battn. marched to Citerne where it was billeted - hour of arrival about 12.30 am
22-7-16. Citerne 22-7-16 The Battn. hoped that it would remain at Citerne but at 5 pm orders were suddenly received for the whole Brigade to move on morning of 23rd. The Battn. in consequence paraded at 2 am. 23rd proceeding by route march to Longpré (distance 9 miles) and there entrained for St.Omer. The whole of the 1st & 2nd Line Transport went with the Battn.
Wallon Cappel 23-7-16 The Battn. Arrived at Arques at about 2.30 pm after resting two hours it proceeded to the village of Wallon Cappel distant about 9 miles arriving there at 8 pm. Between 2 am and 8 pm the Battn. In addition to a very tiring train journey marched 18 miles and was under arms 18 hours.
24-7-16 Day fine. Nothing of importance occurred. Battn. Rested after yesterday's strenuous journey.
25-7-16 Battn. Parades under Adjutant 7 am till 11 pm. Afternoon - Recreation.
26-7-16 General Maxse inspected the Battn. Formed up in mass in a field opposite Battn. Orderly Room. The Battn. Paraded as strong as possible in dull order. 29 officers & about 650 O.R. being present. The Battn/ was highly complimented for turning so clean well clothed & shod after its recent heavy fighting. On completion of the inspection the Div. Comdr. Called all officers together and spoke in very high terms of praise of both officers, N.C.O's & men who had taken part in the recent fighting. He particularly mentioned the splendid fighting spirit of the Battn. And thanked the C.O. (Lt.Col.G.D.Price [George Dominic PRICE, CMG]) & all concerned for the very efficient manner in which the attack on the Pommiers Redoubt was carried out on the 1st July. This being the anniversary of the Battn's landing in France the surviving Officers (12 in number) assembled for dinner at the Battn.Hdqrs. Mess. A very enjoyable evening being spent.
27-7-16 Route marching carried out by Companies. Orders received to move further forward tomorrow.
Steam Mill 28-7-16 The Battn. Left Wallon Cappell at 9 a.m. & proceeded by Bailleul Brigade route march to the Steam Mill W of Bailleul via Hazebroucke, Borre, Pradelles, Stazeele & Moolenaeker. A very hot day which tired the men severely. Arrived at Steam Mill about 2 pm. Draft of 4 N.C.O's arrived.
29-7-16 Fine hot day short route march carried out under Company arrangements. Inspection of recent draft by C.O. Lewis Gunners trained by Lewis Gun Officer.
30-7-16 Fine hot day. Company training carried out. Bombers, snipers, Lewis gunners & Signallers trained under Specialist Officers.
31-7-16 Fine hot day. Platoons trained under Company arrangements. Bombers, snipers, lewis gunners & Signallers continued their training. C.O. & 2nd in Command interviewed at 54th Brigade Hqrs by General Plumer commanding 2nd Army.
War Diary for August 1916
Steam Mill, Bailleul 1-8-16 Musketry training on small range. Many new rifles found to be too stiff for "rapid". These are being altered by Armourer Sergt. All specialists training under specialist officers. Weather fine & hot.
2-8-16 Platoon training under Company Officers, Specialists training under specialist officers. Weather hot & fine. Demonstration at 2nd Army Bomb School (destruction of trenches by 2" mortars, consolidation of destroyed position & provision of shelters in same).
3-8-16 Company training. Weather hot & fine. C.O., 2nd in Command, Adjutant, 4 Company Commanders, Lewis Gun Officer & Sniping Officer proceeded by bus to Armentieres & made at [sic] tour of trenches to be shortly taken over by this battalion, on the Armentieres-Lille road.
4-8-16 Fine & hot. lecture by Gas Expert & examination of Anti-Gas Appliances. orders received to move tomorrow to Erquinghem.
Erquinghem 5-8-16 Proceeded at 5.30 a.m. by route march to ERQUINGHEM via BAILLEUL arriving at 9.0 a.m. Battalion billeted at ERQUINGHEM. Fine cool day.
Left Sub Sector B Sector 6-8-16 Took over trenches in Left Sub Sector of B Sector astride the ARMENTIERES-LILLE road, from the 1st Batt. Wellington Regiment, 1st New Zealand Brigade. Relief started at 9.30 p.m. & was completed by midnight.
B.2. Sector 7-8-16 Fine day, with very light N.W. breeze. Enemy very quiet. Work done on front line parapets & wire in front of support line.
8-8-16 Fine day, light N.W. wind. Enemy very nervous during hours of darkness as though he expected a raid. Day quiet.
9-8-16 Fine day, very slight S.E. wind. Enemy active during night with bombs. two men very slightly wounded. About 50 heavy shells fired into ARMENTIERES during day. German of 156th Regt. surrendered at 1 p.m. after he was missed by a sentry.
10-8-16 Dummy raid carried out by Artillery on next sector to the North. Enemy replied with machine guns & artillery, the latter was feeble. Two hostile working parties dispersed by Lewis gun fire. Our artillery registered. 2.30p.m. Rifle grenades on Leith Walk. Fine, hot day. One casualty in wiring party.
11-8-16 Enemy very quiet all day. Wind light from S.W. Weather fine. Somewhat foggy at night. Enemy stood to in fog & appeared jumpy.
12-8-16 Machine guns fired at intervals during night, causing one casualty in our wiring parties. Quiet day on our front.
13-8-16 Quiet day. In the evening at 9.20 p.m. we fired 50 rounds from Stokes Mortars at enemy's machine gun position, silencing the gun for the night. Enemy's retaliation did no harm to us. Enemy's wiring party dispersed during night.
14-8-16 Very quiet day. Our artillery cut two gaps in enemy's front wire in preparation for a dummy raid. Lewis guns fired on gaps during night.
15-8-16 Day quiet. At 10 p.m. a dummy raid was carried out. Our artillery & mortars bombarded a section of enemy's trenches for 30minutes & then simulated a lift, at the same time we showed pole targets above our parapets & sent over smoke. Enemy manned his parapet & opened fire with machine guns & rifles. A very heavy fire was then opened by our 18 pounders & Stokes mortars & it is thought that enemy suffered severe losses. His artillery reply was feeble. Our losses were 2nd Lieut.Roeber [David Arnold ROEBER] & 3 O.R. killed & 2 O.R. wounded.
16-8-16 Very quiet day. relieved at 10.45 p.m. by 6th Northants. battalion took over billets vacated by 6th Northants in RUE MARLE.
RUE MARLE 17-8-16 Quiet day. Companies bathing & preparing for move to BOIS de NIEPPE
La Motte 18-8-16 5.15am First platoon left RUE MARLE followed at 5 minutes intervals by remaining platoons & marched to ERQUINGHEM. The battalion then proceeded by motor lorries & buses to LA MOTTE in the BOIS DE NIEPPE 10am arriving at 10 a.m. We took over the camp vacated by the East Surreys about 1 mile S. of LA MOTTE. Officers & N.C.O.s instructed in keeping direction in a wood in the afternoon & later the companies practised the attack through the BOIS DES VACHES. Fine day, Rained heavily during night.
19-8-16 9am Companies practised in the attack through BOIS DES VACHES, returning to camp at 2 p.m. Companies practised in the attack at night through BOIS DES VACHES returning at midnight. Fine day. At 8 p.m. on the night of the 19th August, 1916, the Officer Commanding 7th Bedfordshire Regt. received the following orders: - "On the night of 20/21st August, 1916, the 7th Bedfords will relieve the Battalion holding the BOIS DES VACHES wood on a line running North almost central of the wood and through the second S. in BOIS DES VACHES. Map Reference - France, 1/20,000 Completion of relief will be reported to Bde. Headquarters. At dawn on the 21st inst. 7th Bedfords will attack and endeavour to make good the north-western portion of the BOIS DES VACHES from a line running North almost central of the wood and through the second S. in BOIS DES VACHES, as far as the canal. On arrival at the canal the line should be consolidated and strong points put in to strengthen the position".
20-8-16 9am Battalion practised the attack through BOIS DES VACHES up to central drive making strong points along this. G.O.C. 54th Brigade was present & criticised the operations at the close. Fine day.
21-8-16 2am Battalion practised in an attack in a wood at dawn also relief of another Battalion already in position see orders attached. 5 a.m. Battalion moved in motor buses & lorries to ERQUINGHEM & from there marched to billets in RUE MARLE. 5.30 p.m. Conference of Officers & N.C.O.s held at 5.30 p.m. on lessons learned during previous 3 days training in wood fighting. Fine Day.
22-8-16 Battalion remained in billets. Fine quiet day. N.C.O.s & new officers paraded under Adjutant.
ERQUINGHEM 23-8-16 10am Battalion marched to ERQUINGHEM by platoons at 5 minutes interval. N.C.O.s & officers paraded under adjutant. Fine day, rain at night.
24-8-16 10am Battalion drill under C.O. battalion left ERQUINGHEM at 6.30 p.m. & marched, accompanied by transport to BAILLEUL station. After a hot meal the battalion entrained for St.POL.
LA THIEULOYE 25-8-16 5.30am The battalion detrained at St.POL & after breakfast in station yard marched to LA THIEULOYE where it went into billets. Fine hot day.
26-8-16 Companies trained in advanced & rear guards. Very heavy rain interfered with training. Heavy rain, dry intervals.
27-8-16 Company training in afternoon. At 2 p.m. battalion practiced forming up for an attack from trenches & carried out an attack from trenches in A2 area. Heavy showers at times.
28-8-16 Battalion marched to BOIS des HEROMBUS & was exercised in forming up for attack in a wood & attacking through a wood, clearing parties, carrying parties & runners being used. Heavy showers at times. After a midday meal the battalion returned to billets at 5 p.m. In the evening the 18th Divisional Brass Band played for 1½ hours in the village.
29-8-16 Company training in billets during morning & battalion training on A1 area in afternoon. Forming up at night for attack at dawn practiced. Heavy thunderstorm, men got very wet on the way home.
30-8-16 Wet day. Company training lectures etc. in billets. 31-8-16 Brigade training in an attack at dawn on two lines of German trenches. Fine day. Corps commander & Divisional commander present. On 26/8/16 a reinforcement of 23 O.R. arrived & on 30/8/16 a further reinforcement.
War Diary for September 1916
THIEULOYE 1-9-16 Training carried out according to Brigade and Battn Programme. battn visited C2 Area, left billets 1 p.m. arrived back 6.30 p.m. Fine morning wet afternoon and night. 2/Lieut.A.W.Brawn [Arthur W BRAWN] appointed Adjutant's understudy. Night operations carried out. Bn left billets 8.30 p.m. arrived back about 12.30 p.m.
2-9-16 Weather fine; companies proceeded to D Training Area for Wood fighting, left billets 1.30 pm arrived back 6 p.m. Draft of 2 Lance Corporals and 28 men arrived from 9th Battn. and posted to companies as per Battn. orders. Adjutant proceeded on leave to England.
3-9-16 Church Parade Service held at 10 am in field just behind LA THIEULOYE Church. Fine Day but wet evening. No training parades. Major G.P.Mills [George Pilkington MILLS, DSO] and Capt.Percival [Arthur Ernest PERCIVAL, DSO, MC] proceeded on leave to England.
4-9-16 Battn. received orders to proceed with the Brigade to a new Training Area of reserve (5th) Army in accordance with operation Orders attached. Wet and changeable weather.
5-9-16 About 5 a.m. orders were issued cancelling the move. Battn. did not therefore proceed but carried out training on Brigade Training Area A1. Wet weather. 4 men trained in the rapid construction of tunnelled dugouts in Northern part of Wood in U.10.a. under Capt.Chase, R.E.
6-9-16 Battalion remained in billets in morning; proceeded to Wood in U.10.a for practice of intensive digging. C.O., Adjutant and Coy Commanders attended a demonstration in "Rapid construction of Shelters". Corps & Divisional Commanders and officers from other divisions also were present. 1 Lewis Gun Detachment (D Coy.) carried out an experiment of a Lewis Gun Detachment sheltering in a dugout during a bombardment and rapidly emerging the moment a hostile barrage lifts. Experiments carried out in the morning and afternoon. Fine weather.
7-9-16 Morning spent in training under Company Commanders in the vicinity of billets. Battn. proceeded to B area and practised "Rapid construction of tunnelled dugouts" and "Following up a barrage" Returned to billets at 6 p.m. Fine weather.
8-9-16 Fine weather. Morning spent in vicinity of billets under company Commanders. In afternoon Battn. proceeded to "C" Area and continued practising Intensive Digging and Following up a barrage. Returned to billets about 7 p.m.
Ternas 9-9-16 54th Brigade marched as a column to MONCHÉAUX Area in accordance with Operation orders attached. destination of 7th Bedfords: - TERNAS at which place the Bn. arrived at 11.30 am, leaving LA THIEULOYE at 8.15 am and proceeding via ORLENCOURT and MARQUAY.
IVERGNY 10-9-16 Battn. continued its march with 54th Brigade and proceeded to IVERGNY at which place it arrived at 1.40 pm, leaving TERNAS 10 am and proceeding via HOUVIN-HOUVINGEUL - ESTRÉE WAMIN - BEAUDRICOURT. Operation Orders attached. Fine weather. On midnight 10/11 Sept. 18th Division is transferred to the Reserve Army.
RAINCHEVAL 11-9-16 Battn. proceeded to RAINCHEVAL "O" Area Reserve Army in accordance with operation Orders No.31 attached. Left IVERGNY at 8 am by bus, and proceeded to HALLOY. Debussed at HALLOY and proceeded by march route to destination via THIEVRES & MARIEUX. Arrived RAINCHEVAL 2.15 p.m. Battn. Hq.Qrs. at École des Garcons General Maxse inspected the march discipline of the Brigade during the three days of the march, and expressed his general satisfaction.
12-9-16 Training carried out under company commanders; (early morning running parades; parades at 9 am for instruction in Bombing, Bayonet Fighting and Musketry. Commanding Officer visited Observation post in vicinity of THIEPVAL. Day Quiet and dull; some Rain.
13-9-16 Training carried out in the following subjects: - Following up a barrage, bayonet Fighting, Physical Training, Bombing etc. Companies paraded at 3 pm and went for a short march, Outposts etc. practised.
14-9-16 Fine Day. Captain Percival [Arthur Ernest PERCIVAL, DSO, MC] returned from leave and resumed command of "A" Coy. from 13th inst. Major G.P.Mills [George Pilkington MILLS, DSO] & Capt & Adjt J.H.Bridcutt [John Henry BRIDCUTT, DSO] also returned from leave on 13th inst. battn. was out practising bayonet Fighting, Bombing, Barrage etc. as previously. Two men who were casualties 1st July joined from Hospital.
15-9-16 Fine Day. Companies out training in the morning under Company Commanders. Afternoon - Battn paraded at 3pm and practised outposts duties. battn. received notification to be ready to move at 6 hours notice. Captain A.E.Percival [Arthur Ernest PERCIVAL, DSO, MC] visited trenches in the vicinity of Thiepval.
16-9-16 Fine day. Training by companies in bayonet Fighting, Bombing, Physical Training, Barrage, Digging etc. carried out as usual, no orders to move being received.
17-9-16 Sunday. Fine Day. bathing all day by companies. F.G.C.M. in battn. Orderly Room in morning. C & D Companies attended Church Parade at 11 am. Major G.P.Mills [George Pilkington MILLS, DSO] visited trenches in the vicinity of Thiepval. At 4 pm G.O.C. Brigade held a conference of Bn. Commanders, Coy. Commanders etc. in Orderly Room. Stokes Mortar Demonstration by 54th T.M.Battery at 3pm on ground just North of Raincheval. 2/Lieuts H.A.Reaney [Harold Agnew REANEY], H.G.Merchant [Herbert George MERCHANT] and S.C.Tremeer [Sidney Charles TREMEER] joined Bn. for duty from 9th Battn.
18-9-16 Captain Mulligan visited trenches in the vicinity of THIEPVAL. Wet morning. Commanding Officer lectured all Officers & N.C.O's. in Battn. Orderly Room 9.30am. Brigadier General Shoubridge visited Bn.H.Qrs. and conferred with C.O. 2/Lieut.E.F.Piercy [Eric Fryer PIERCY] joined Battn. for duty.
19-9-16 Changeable weather. Companies practised training as before. Capt.L.H.Keep [Leslie Howard KEEP] proceeded to trenches in vicinity of Thiepval. Information received of following awards for gallantry. Captain A.E.Percival [Arthur Ernest PERCIVAL, DSO, MC] - Military Cross. 18257 Pte.H.W.Fish, [Herbert W FISH, DCM] "C" Coy now 1st Bn.Bedford R. - D.C.M.
20-9-16 Fine Day. Battn. proceeded to training area and practised the attack.
21-9-16 Companies proceeded independently to the Training Area and practised Bombing, Bayonet Fighting etc. Information received of the award of the Medal of St.George (Third Class) to: 18257 Pte.H.W.Fish [Herbert W FISH, DCM], late 7th Bedfords, now 1st Beds. 2/Lieut.H.B.Stewart [Hew Bertram STEWART, MC] appointed Bn.Lewis Gun Officer. 2/Lieut.H.C.Cannell [Walter Percy CANNELL] joined.
22-9-16 Fine Day. Companies training independently in the morning - practised short route marching in afternoon. Received orders to move on 23rd inst. time uncertain.
VARENNES 23-9-16 Battn. proceeded by Route March from Raincheval to VARENNES via ARQUEVES - LÉALVILLERS - ACHEUX, leaving Raincheval at 9am and arriving at VARENNES at 12 noon. Fine Day. C.O. attended Brigade Conference at Bde H.Qrs, HEDAUVILLE. Major G.P.Mills [George Pilkington MILLS, DSO] inspected reserve trenches in THIEPVAL WOOD.
24-9-16 Fine Day. Church parade in the morning.
N.BLUFF 25-9-16 Battalion proceeded by Route March via HEDAUVILLE - AUTHUILLE - BOUZINCOURT - MARTINSART & BLACK HORSE BRIDGE to AUTHUILLE (NORTH BLUFF) arriving 2.30 p.m. - Major Mills [George Pilkington MILLS, DSO] & four Company Commanders reconnoitred front line & forming up trenches, south of THIEPVAL Hdqrs & A & B Companies at N.BLUFF - C & D Companies in PAISLEY AVENUE in THIEPVAL WOOD. Orders issued for 54th Bgde to attack THIEPVAL & SCHWABEN REDOUBT. 7th Bedfords in Reserve. Heavy Bombardment. Enemy shelled N.BLUFF heavily. Fine Day. [Comment; see August 1916 Appendices for two Officers reports and casualty lists]
26-9-16 12.30pm Fine Day. Zero hour for intense bombardment fixed for 12.30 p.m. Assaulting battalions to leave their trenches at 12.30 p.m. Received news that the 1st objective (road running E. & W. through THIEPVAL) had been taken & assault progressing well. C.O. & Adjutant summoned to 54th Bgde. H.Qrs. owing to situation requiring consideration, 2nd objective not having been taken. 11p.m. Orders received for Battalion to move forward to dugouts in the vicinity of THIEPVAL & to be in position at 1 a.m. for the purpose of clearing up & consolidating the 2nd objective (North face of THIEPVAL).
THIEPVAL 27-9-16 2 a.m. The Comdg Officer (Lt.Col.G.D.Price [George Dominic PRICE, CMG]) & Adjutant (Capt.J.H.Bridcutt [John Henry BRIDCUTT, DSO]) arrived at the Chateau in THIEPVAL after conferring with Lt.Col.Maxwell 12th Middx. commanding the scattered portions of the three Battalions i.e. 12th Middx, 11th Royal Fusrs, 6th Northants. The C.O. (Lt.Col.Price [George Dominic PRICE, CMG]) decided to attack the untaken portion of THIEPVAL i.e. the N.Western part of village. Dispositions for the attack were as follows C & D Coys Commanded by Capts.Keep [Leslie Howard KEEP] & Mulligan [Thomas Reginald John MULLIGAN] respectively were detailed for the assault which was to be carried out in two Lines (Waves) with C Co. on the Right, D Co. on the Left. A & B Coys. were sheltered close at hand in German Dug-outs. ZERO was fixed for 5.30 A.M. The morning was extremely dark & the assaulting Coys had great difficulty in forming up for the attack on the correct alignment. At about 5.45 AM all was ready & a few minutes later the two Lines advanced sweeping across the untaken portion of Ground & trenches. two M.Guns & a good deal of Rifle fire opened from the enemy's lines but our troops (7th Bn Bedfords C & D Coys.) continued to advance & in a short time were in possession of the German trenches on the North-Western face of THIEPVAL. Capt.Mulligan [Thomas Reginald John MULLIGAN], 2/Lt Potts [Henry POTTS] fell badly wounded during this action 36 prisoners were taken & about 100 Germans killed by Rifle fire & Bayonets. This action though apparently small was of the utmost importance as without the whole of the Village of THIEPVAL & the trenches surrounding it being captured the whole Line of Attack was held up. So to the 7th Bn.Bedfords (especially C & D Coys) belongs the honour & Glory of the final destruction of one of the Germans strongest position & one which they had boasted could never be taken (i.e. THE VILLAGE OF THIEPVAL & its defences) Our casualties were 2 officers above mentioned & about 110 O.R. in the above action (see Appx.IX) The other three Battns of the 54th Bde. who made a former attack on THIEPVAL had been withdrawn to cover in our Support Area. the Bn. held the line it had gained until 1 P.M. the following day at which hour it continued the attack as stated hereafter.
28-9-16 From early morning until 12 Noon everyone was going at high pressure preparing for another attack on the ground which included a very high ridge & a Redoubt called the "SCHWABEN REDOUBT" to the North of THIEPVAL. At 12 Noon the Battalion was ready for this attack and disposed as follows A & B assaulting Coys, D Coy., dug-out clearing, C Coy., Bn. Reserve a full description of the battle that followed is attached to this diary [see Appendices].
29-9-16 5 a.m. About this hour the 1st/5th Yorkshire Regt. who had moved up during the night relieved the Battn. in the front trenches & they (7th Bedfords) were withdrawn to THIEPVAL and placed in Reserve. The Bn. Sheltered in dug-outs during the day shell fire being particularly fierce [Comment; see here for a story on the battle and Tom Adlam's VC]
30-9-16 4 a.m. In the early hours of the morning the Battn. was relieved by the 7th Bn. West Kent Regt. & returned to billets in Mailly-Maillet Wood (List of Honours & Awards recommended attached) During the period mentioned in this diary the Battn. (7th Bedfords) went into action on two occasions. The Morale of the Battn. was extremely high. The men fought with determination & skill, gained all their allotted objectives, & received the highest praise from their Brigadier, Divisional Commander, Corps Commander, Army Commander & especially congratulated by the G.O.C., Sir D.Haig.
War Diary for October 1916
MAILLET WOOD 1-10-16 After being relieved from the captured THIEPVAL Position the battalion rested in huts for the day in Mailly-Maillet Wood - G.O.C. 54th Bde. visited the battalion and Addressed them in very high terms of congratulation on their Moral, & Stubborn fighting. He said "The 7th Bn. Bedfordshires were one of the best fighting battalions it was possible to find & he was very proud to have such a battalion under his command" he particularly referred to the severe fighting & the daring manner they had snatched from the Bosch a position they boasted of being "impregnable & impossible for the English to take".
2-10-16 Battn. left the above place marched to ACHEUX Station & travelled in trucks (40 in each) to CANDAS, from this Station the battalion moved into billets, A & B Coy. & Battn.H.Qts. at VACQUERIE C & D Coys. at GORGES reaching billets about 10 p.m. ½ Bn. billeted VACQUERIE. ½ Bn. GORGES
3-10-16 Time devoted to cleaning up, checking all kits & making up deficiencies lost in action. Bn.H.Q.
VACQUERIE 4-10-16 Classes of officers & N.C.Os. formed for Special Instruction in bayonet fighting - Battn. exercised in Close order drill.
5-10-16 Classes of officers & N.C.Os. formed for Special Instruction in bayonet fighting - Battn. exercised in Close order drill.
6-10-16 Training in all its details commenced; Bombing, Sniping, Lewis Gun, Signalling Message Runners (going across Country) put into real going order.
7-10-16 The above training rapidly pushed forward. Corps Commander expected but he did not turn up.
8-10-16 Training programme continued. The following Officer [sic] joined as Reinforcements and were posted as under 2nd Lt.H.M.Woodyer [Henry Mawby WOODYER] A Co. 2/Lt.A.J.Clarke [Alan Jardine CLARKE] A Coy. 2 Lt.J.J.Murray [John James MURRAY] A Coy. 2.Lt.A.H.Waddy [Alexander Harry WADDY] D Coy. These were a good stamp of recruit officers.
BILLETS AS ABOVE 9-10-16 Training programme Continued.
10-10-16 Training pushed forward rapidly, battalion to be ready by 16th to move forward for further fighting.
11-10-16 Training. Draft of 158 Other Ranks arrived from England all of which were well equipped, of good Physique, and a marked improvement on previous drafts (except they had no marching powers). C.I.C. Genl.Sir Douglas Haig visited the Billets, Saw the above draft chatted with many officers N.C.Os & men as he passed from one place to the other. No inspection was arranged as he wished to pay a visit to unit carrying on in the ordinary way. Lt.Col.G.D.Price [George Dominic PRICE, CMG] who had taken Command of the 53rd Infantry Brigade on the 6th inst. till the 10th inst. took over Command of the 54th Infantry Brigade, Protem, on the 11st inst. the vacancy in both cases being caused by the Brigadier being granted Special Leave to England. Major G.P.Mills [George Pilkington MILLS, DSO] commanded the Battn. during the absence of Lt.Col.Price [George Dominic PRICE, CMG] as above.
12-10-16 Training continued. The undermentioned officers arrived as reinforcements on the night of the 11/12 & were posted on the 12th to Coys as under. 2 Lt.T.H.Elderton B Co. 2 Lt.L.G.Angas [Lionel George ANGAS] A Co. 2 Lt.F.A.Walker [Foster Alfred WALKER] A Co. Fine stamp of young officers knowing something of what was required of them as a Platoon Leader.
14-10-16 Training. orders received from Brigade (54th Infantry) to the effect that the 18th Divn. had opened advance Divisional Hd.Quarters at Albert, the 53rd Brigade had moved up in readiness for attack on Regina Trench - The 54th Brigade would move to Beauville - All necessary arrangements made for the Bn to move (to-morrow morning) Advance billeting parties detailed to proceed ahead at 2 pm to-day - but, this was cancelled just before time to march off.
GORGES AND VACQUERIE. 15-10-16 Morning A & B Coy. Left Vacquerie C & D Coys. GORGES & marched to Beauval.
BEAUVAL 16-10-16 Morning Continued the above march from BEAUVAL to VADENCOURT WOOD (Marched in Brigade).
17-10-16 Morning Continued the above march from VADENCOURT WOOD to BOUZINCOURT.
18-10-16 Morning Inspection of all personal kits, C.O. Adjt. & all Coy.Comdrs. proceeded by Bus to Visit Front Line 54th Bde Sector North of COURCELETTE.
19-10-16 Morning Battn Marched from BOUZINCOURT to ALBERT & billeted.
20-10-16 Morning Battn Training in ATTACK practice in fields near Albert.
21-10-16 Morning Battn Training in ATTACK practice in fields near Albert.
22-10-16 Voluntary Church Service. Afternoon ATTACK PRACTICE.
23-10-16 Holding front Line trenches - Regina.
24-10-16 Holding front Line trenches - Regina.
25-10-16 Holding front Line trenches - Regina.
26-10-16 Relieved from above trenches to Billets in ALBERT.
27-10-16 Held up by weather from carrying out prepared attack, Copy of orders attached - battn Billet in Albert & its vicinity
28-10-16 Held up by weather from carrying out prepared attack, Copy of orders attached - battn Billet in Albert & its vicinity
29-10-16 Held up by weather from carrying out prepared attack, Copy of orders attached - battn Billet in Albert & its vicinity
30-10-16 Held up by weather from carrying out prepared attack, Copy of orders attached - battn Billet in Albert & its vicinity 31-10-16 Held up by weather from carrying out prepared attack, Copy of orders attached - battn Billet in Albert & its vicinity.
War Diary for November 1916
ALBERT 1-11-16 In billets. Coy. & Battn. training carried on in the vicinity of Albert.
2-11-16 In billets. Coy. & Battn. training carried on in the vicinity of Albert.
3-11-16 4.30pm Relieved the 8th Battn.Suffolk Regt. in REGINA TRENCH. Copy of Orders attd.
4-11-16 In Trenches Bn.Hd.Quarters at R29 Central (MAp Ref Miraumont - 1/20000). 2/Lt.A.W.Brawn [Arthur W BRAWN] took over the Regimental transport - vice Lt.H.C.Browning [Herbert Compton BROWNING, MC] who took up comd. of A Coy. Lts.D.S.Keep [Douglas Scrivener Howard KEEP, MC] & H.C.Browning appointed acting Captains whilst Comdg A Coy - Copy of order attd. appdx II. [not attached]
5-11-16 In trenches as above.
6-11-16 Relieved from Trenches & move to Bivouacs in TARA Hill near Albert.
TARA Hill 7-11-16 Training of Coys. carried out in vicinity of Bivouac. List of Awards for Gallantry attd. (appx III) [comment - see November 1916 Appendices]
Albert 8-11-16 Training by Coys. Lt.W.Mason [Walter MASON] joined the battalion for duty as Transport Officer but a Transport Officer Lt.Brawn [Arthur W BRAWN] was serving in charge of the Transport & doing well Lt.Mason [Walter MASON] was attd to the 54th Brigade.
9-11-16 Training from Billets in & around Albert.
10-11-16 Training from Billets in & around Albert.
11-11-16 Training from Billets in & around Albert.
12-11-16 3.30pm to 15-11-16 Bn. detailed to relieve 8th Bn.Suffolk Regt. in TRENCHES - (REGINA) 12/13 Copy of orders attd. remained in Trenches until night of 15/16 when they were relieved by the 11th Canadian Brigade. The Battn. moved back to Huts in OVILLERS (X.13.b.29) Albert Map. During this tour in trenches all preparations were made for Attack on MIRAUMONT but the weather was very wet & it was not carried out before the Bn. was due for relief.
16-11-16 Bn. employed in improving the Communication Trench in 54th Brigade Sector.
17-11-16 Bn. employed in improving the Communication Trench in 54th Brigade Sector.
18-11-16 Bn. employed in improving the Communication Trench in 54th Brigade Sector.
19-11-16 Bn. employed in improving the Communication Trench in 54th Brigade Sector.
20-11-16 to 25-11-16 Until the 25th the Bn. marched back to rest billets in the St.RIQUIER district: to enjoy a well earned rest, the march close on sixty (60) miles was performed by easy stages Not one man fell out.
26-11-16 Battn. Billeted for the night at AGENVILLERS.
27-11-16 Bn. moved into its final billets at MILLENCOURT.
MILLENCOURT 28-11-16 to 30-11-16 The battalion in rest billets. Training carried on daily. Refitting & overhauling all Kits, Clothing, Transport etc.
War Diary for December 1916
Millencourt 1-12-16 Battalion in rest billets Re-organising, Re-fitting & making up all deficiences.
2-12-16 As above. Party of one officer & 14 N.C.Os & men allowed to proceed to England on Ten days Leave. Congratulatory message from Corps Commander received. Copy attached [comment; See December 1916 Appendices]
3-12-16 Training in the Attack. trench digging. Improving billets etc.
4-12-16 Training in the Attack. trench digging. Improving billets etc.
5-12-16 Training for Attack, Advance Guards etc. Lt D.S.H.Keep [Douglas Scrivener Howard KEEP, MC] appointed acting Captain from 28 October 1916. Lt.H.C.Browning [Herbert Compton BROWNING, MC] from 29th Oct 1916.
6-12-16 Training for the attack in Brigade.
7-12-16 Training for the attack in Brigade. two officers & 10 O.R. proceeded to England on leave for Ten days.
8-12-16 Brigade Training. Draft of 194 N.C.Os. & men joined the battalion a very good lot of men on the whole but their drill was not all that could be desired & their knowledge of Training limited.
9-12-16 Training of all Specialists, Sectionised, each unit made up to its full strength such as Bombers, Snipers, Signallers, Runners, Lewis Gunners & so on.
10-12-16 Training of all Specialists pushed forward. the following appointments were made, 2/Lt.C.J.Luscombe [Cridland John LUSCOMBE] Sniping Officer, 2/Lt.H.M.Woodyer Reserve Bombing Officer, 2/Lt.Waddy A.H. [Alexander Harry WADDY] Reserve Lewis Gun Officers, 2/Lt.W.P.Cannell [Walter Percy CANNELL] Town Major. Domvast.
11-12-16 Specialist & Coy. Training in all its detail pushed forward with all speed. No.14622 Pte.Gough, G.E. [14622 George E GOUGH, MM] 12702 Cpl.Mulrien, B., [12702 Bernard MULRIEN, MM & Bar] 15213 Thompson, A. [15213 Arthur THOMPSON, MM] 14135 Corpl.Dean, W. [14135 Walter DEAN, MM] were awarded "The Military Medal" for Gallantry.
12-12-16 Coy. and Battalion preparing for change of Billets.
13-12-16 Coy. and Battalion preparing for change of Billets.
Domvast 14-12-16 Battalion changed billets from Millencourt by March Route.
15-12-16 to 24-12-16 Battn. Training, Coy. Training, all Specialists, Brigade Schools of Instruction opened up for Special Instructions.
25-12-16 Christmas Day, this was spent by the battalion in real Christmas from. Presents of Pudding, Fruit, Nuts, Cigarettes etc. had been received from Sir Frederick Price, Lady Price, Col & Mrs.Hudson, Mrs.Heneker, wife of the late Brigadier, 54th Brigade. the men were supplied with a good Christmas dinner, quart of beer per man & so on which was followed by Entertainment. the officers dined together in one billet. Each Coy. had their dinner Separate. A most enjoyable day was spent by everyone in the battalion, the C.O. (Lt.Col.G.P.Mills [George Pilkington MILLS, DSO]) visited each mess & the health of all was toasted.
26-12-16 Clearing up after the Christmas repast.
27-12-16 The Bn. was specially selected to carry out the attack as per Somme battles & give demonstration before many Generals and high officials. The attack was from trenches & carried out with such precision & steadiness that they were very highly complimented by all concerned. The organisation of the Coys. was checked & illustrated in full detail all unit Commanders understudies & specialists showed the most complete knowledge of their Military business & duties & were held up as a pattern to other regiments to which the Crowd of Spectators with many of the Staff belonged. The staff of the 5th Army & Corps were present.
28-12-16 Specialists Training, Coy. Training continued, Concert held in a Large Barn used as recreation room.
29-12-16 Training during the morning, Paper Chase & Boxing Competition afternoon & evening. During the absence on Leave of the Brigadier, Lt.Col.G.P.Mills [George Pilkington MILLS, DSO] took over Command of the 54th Brigade.
30-12-16 Training Continued of all Specialists; Bn. & Coys.
31-12-16 Training pushed forward with all speed so as to obtain a high Standard of efficiency during the Spell of rest. Note During the period of the month the battalion has been in rest billets enjoying a much need [sic] rest after the Somme battle. Organisation, refitting, Training Specialists; Training Drafts; Special Instruction given to young officers, N.C.Os. indifferent shots & all specialists such as Bombers, Snipers, Lewis Gunners, Runners, Signallers etc. etc. being particularly dealt with. The General Routine has been to work extremely hard from 9 A.M. to 1 P.M. daily, Games in the afternoon, lectures, Concerts, Boxing Entertainments & other forms of enjoyment being indulged in every evening, which has resulted in the battalion appearing very Smart, Merry & Bright & very fit for fighting.
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