The Bedfordshire Regiment in the Great War
1915 War Diary
[Note that all remarks in squared brackets are my own additions and not part of the original text]
WAR DIARY FOR AUGUST 1915
- 21 Aug 1915 - Blackdown Ordered to Mobilize.
22 Aug 1915 - "Train loads for New Army Division ["] recd. Secret
23 Aug 1915 - Chobham Common "Despatch of New Armies" Recd. Secret. 19 Rank & File transferred from 9th Suffolk Regt. Officers' Mess Cart recd. Establishment of Vehicles complete. Battalion carrying out Trench Warfare on CHOBHAM COMMON.
24 Aug 1915 - Blackdown Battalion returned to Barracks.
25 Aug 1915 -----------------
26 Aug 1915 -----------------
27 Aug 1915 - 1 Heavy draft horse recd to complete Establishment. Orders for Entrainment recd.
28 Aug 1915 - Order of Embarkation recd. Secret. Transport & details (O.C. Major G. Logan Home [George John Ninian LOGAN-HOME, the 13th Laird of Broomhouse]) entrained at 11 PM.
WAR DIARY FOR SEPTEMBER 1915
10 Sep 1915 - Merville
17 Sep 1915 - Alarm for concentration recd. 9.30 pm. Bn. moved off 11 pm to concentrate at Bde HdQrs at 12 midnight.
18 Sep 1915 - Divisional Manoeuvres proceeded & Bn. returned 1.45 pm.
19 Sep 1915 -----------------
20 Sep 1915 - C.O. went to Trenches
21 Sep 1915 - Marched from MERVILLE 3.20 PM.
22 Sep 1915 - Radinghem Arrived RADINGHEM 2.30 AM. 21 miles. Bivouacked. Marched 5.30 P.M.
23 Sep 1915 - La Miquellerie Arrived MOLINGHEM 3.0 AM. 18 miles. Billets. Marched LA MIQUELLERIE 5.30 P.M. arriving 7 pm. 4 1/2 miles.
24 Sep 1915 - Marched from LA MIQUELLERIE 8 pm.
25 Sep 1915 - [Comment; The Battle of Loos] Larutoire Arrived BETHUNE 1.30 AM. 10 miles. Billeted in Girls' College. Stand to ordered 8 AM. Moved off 1 pm. Halted with Brigade near Fosse No 9 de BETHUNE in reserve. Moved at 6.30 to LARUTOIRE. Brigade advanced in support on 72nd Bde for attack on HULLUCH. 9th Suffolks & 11 Essex in front line, 8th Bedfords & 9th Norfolks in Support, which was reported held by British but not verified. Hulloch [sic] being found to be occupied by enemy.
26 Sep 1915 [Comment: The Battle of Loos] - Vermelles 3 A.M. Bn. ordered to occupy front line of British Trenches. 6 A.M. Bn. ordered to support Norfolks in attack on Quarries at G.6.c.5.2. from the South. Our position at that time being G.16.d.4.3. ref. 36c 1/40,000. The morning was thick & misty. The Bn. advanced in artillery formation as far as the HULLOCH [sic] - VERMELLES Road, being 4 hours behind the Norfolks. We came on trenches occupied by the Cameron Highlanders & they knew nothing of the whereabouts of the Norfolks. Patrols were sent out who failed to get in touch with the Norfolks - The Bn. being subject to severe rifle & shell fire & gas bombs after 3 hours as no news could be obtained of the Norfolks, the C.O. decided to reoccupy the front line British trenches, as the Highland Regt. stated there was no room in the captured enemy trenches. On returning to the 1st Line British trenches the Bn. became somewhat separated owing to portions of the trench being occupied by other units. The Bn. was relieved by the Coldstream Guards about 6 pm & returned to VERMELLES for the night where they bivouaced. Casualties Killed O.R. 2 wounded 2nd Lt.A.G.Hodges [Archibald Gordon HODGES] O.R. 23. Gassed Col.E.S.C. Kennedy [Edward Stanley Curwen KENNEDY] O.R. 2.
27 Sep 1917 - 7 A.M. Moved to L.10 B where the Cookers & supplies were met. 10 AM. Moved 200 yds N.E. into Coys in line at 40 yds distance. 6 pm moved again to L.5.c. where we bivouaced.
28 Sep 1917 - Ham-en-Artois 12.30 P.M. Moved to L.9.A. where bivouaces were erected, but ordered to move at 6.33 pm to railway station at NOEUX LES MINES where the Bn. entrained for BERGUETTE. From there we marched to HAM-EN-ARTOIS where the Bn. was billeted 2.15 AM. A very wet evening & night.
29 Sep 1917 - Norrent Fontes 2.30 P.M. Marched to NORRENT FORTES [sic] 4 1/2 miles & took over billets from 12th Royal Fusiliers.
30 Sep 1915 - The day spent cleaning Equipment. washing etc.
WAR DIARY FOR OCTOBER 1915
1 Oct 1915 - Norrent Fontes In billets at NORRENT FORTES [sic]. Regl Transport except cookers & 1 water-cart proceeded North. Billeting party sent to Bde HdQrs 12 noon.
2 Oct 1915 - Watou Marched to BERGUETTE station (4 miles) where the Bn. entrained for GODEWAERSVELDE at 9.5 A.M. arriving at 10.30 A.M. Received orders to march to WATOU xx (7 miles) where billeting officer met us. The Bn. was taken to 2 farms, about 2 miles N.E. & were partly billeted (part bivouacing) for the night.
3 Oct 1915 One farm being required for artillery, the whole Bn. was accommodated at the more Southerly farm, 80 tents being drawn & all troops being either billeted or under canvas. Divine service was held at 12 noon.
4 Oct 1915 Bn. inspected by Maj.Gen. J.E.CAPPER C.B. Comdg 24th Div.
5 Oct 1915 - Vlamertinge 12 noon Marched to pt. H.8.c.7.2. S.W. of VLAMERTINGHE, 9 miles. 220 men accommodated by R.E. 160 men by 2nd Royal Scots. Remainder in barn & tents. A very wet day.
6 Oct 1915 - trenches and Vlamertinge A & D Coys. proceeded to Trenches to be attd. to 1st Gordons & 2nd Royal Scots. C Coy attd. for training to 4th Middlesex. "B" Coy to 2nd Suffolks. Lt. S.N.Kennedy [Stanley Nugent Sherrard KENNEDY] & 55 O.R. proceeded to ABEELE for control duty in the forbidden area.
7 Oct 1915 Lt. G. Brewster [Gordon David BREWSTER] & Lt. C.J.Williams [Charles James WILLIAMS] took working party of 100 O.R. to L.13.a.8.4. 2nd Lt. McMICHAEL [Douglas William McMICHAEL] & 2 N.C.Os proceeded to parade school at M.10.A.5.8. 2nd Lieut. M.A.Steward [Martin Andrew STEWARD] reported his arrival & was taken on strength & posted to B. Coy.
8 Oct 1915 Draft of 115 O.R. arrived. Lt. G. Borwick [George BORWICK], 2nd Lt. C.S. Shippey [Cyril Shaw SHIPPEY] and 2nd Lt. A.C. Croskell [Arthur Cyril CROSKELL] reported their arrival & were taken on the strength of the Bn. and posted to C. A. & D. Coys respectively. Casualties in trenches on 7th inst. Wounded O.R.3.
9 Oct 1915 Hd.Qrs. A & B. & C. Coys. proceeded to trenches & relieved A. & D. Coys. who returned to billets. Casualties - Wounded O.R.1.
10 Oct 1915 Hd.Qrs. B. & C. Coys returned to billets. Casualties, Wounded O.R.1.
11 Oct 1915 Hd. Qrs. A. & D. Coys marched at 12.15 to farms on WATOU- PROVEN road. B. & C. Coys followed at 3. p.m.
12 Oct 1915 In billets. 1 N.C.O. and 7 men of 2nd Leicester Regt. attached for bombing instruction.
13 Oct 1915 In billets. Casualties - Wounded 1 O.R. (accidentally). Sick & removed to Hospital Lieut. & Qr.Mr. F.C. Wootten [Frederick Charles WOOTTEN].
14 Oct 1915 - Camp B 3.15 p.m. Marched to Camp B. in woods at A.30.
15 Oct 1915 In Camp. Adjt. Bombing Officer, M.G. Officer & Pioneer Officer visited trenches held by 1st Buffs.
16 Oct 1915 2 Coys. bathed at POPERINGHE. B & C. Coys. inspected by Corps Commander Gen. Sir H.C.O. Plumer, K.C.B.
[Comment; The period 17 October to 30 October are missing from The National Archives, but part of the 71st Brigade diary is below]
17 Oct 1915. The morning and evening reports contained reports mainly of enemy working parties hard at work improving their parapets. Some of their snipers were shot by our men in the left sector and centre sector. From the right sector they report that shells from enemy 5" howitzers scored several direct hits on their parapets [causing?] some damage. Shells were coming from the south. Right sector claims to have blown up enemy bomb store with [some?] of their trench mortar shells.
18 Oct 1915. CANAL BANK I.22.214.171.124. Very heavy bursts of rifle and machine gun fire by the enemy which followed the bursting of a flare with 3 red starts. It is not known what this sudden opening of fire was intended to do. There was rather more shelling than usual today. Enemy working parties still hard at work.
19 Oct 1915. 11am. German aeroplanes flew low over the front trenches, otherwise the the day was quiet. German working parties were dispersed last night in front of the left battalion by M.G. fire. Enemy fired a rocket at 7pm showing 3 red stars, whereupon machine gun & rapid rifle fire was opened by the enemy.
20th [Oct 1915]. CANAL BANKS. Operation Order No.42 received from 6th Division. The morning report from battalions showed everything quiet. Right battalion reports that last night enemy were busy working in their trenches. A working party on MARK LANE was shelled last night and had 4 casualties. Operation Order No.3 [see Appendices, below] was issued and one company Essex Regt. arrived on CANAL BANK to furnish [?] men for working parties.
21st [Oct 1915]. Morning report showed a normal situation. Operation Order No.3 of yesterday had to be amended by Operation Order No.4. Evening report was normal. Bedford Regt. patrols had nothing to report. Some enemy's batteries which have been causing annoyance have not yet been located.
22nd [Oct 1915]. Morning report contained news of the St. JEAN having been heavily shelled last night. Machine gun officer of the Bedford Regt. reported that one of his guns had been put out of action by a rifle bullet which hit the working portion on the right side. Evening report contained news of front and second line trenches having been damaged by hostile artillery. Otherwise nothing to report.
[Comment; last page absent from the copies I have seen, as nothing recorded for period 23 to 30 October inclusive]
WAR DIARY FOR NOVEMBER 1915
1 Nov 1915 - trenches. Wet weather. Pumping and draining trenches, many trenches falling in. GARDEN ST full of water. O.C. 2nd Sherwood foresters came to see trenches preparatory to taking over.
2 Nov 1915 - trenches. Trenches very wet and muddy. 2/ Sherwood foresters commenced relieving at 6.30pm. Owing to broken telephone wires relief not completed till 11pm, communication with Coys in front line being very difficult. Marched by platoon to H.11 to dugouts. 1 Coy 1 platoon canal bank., 1 platoon LA BRIQUE, 1 Coy MACHINE GUN FARM, 1 Coy 2 platoons dugouts. Ref. Map Belgium and France B series, sheet 28 1/40,000.
3 Nov 1915 - H.11 Found working parties for trenches.
4 Nov 1915 - Drill and physical training in the morning. Found working parties for trenches.
5 Nov 1915 - ditto
6 Nov 1915 - Heavy shelling of H.11 by Germans commencing at 4am. Lasted about 3 hours. Working parties for trenches.
7 Nov 1915 - 2nd Lieut WYETH [Hugh Francis Hy WYETH] to hospital with rheumatism. Capt [unreadable] to 17th F.Amb [unreadable] on sprained ankle. Detained. Relieved 9th Norfolks in trenches (left Btn) centre sector. Trenches very muddy and in bad condition. No. 19788 Pte Pearson [James R PEARSON] gunshot wound during relief.
8 Nov 1915 - trenches Pumping & cleaning trenches. Lieut. G. Brewster [Gordon David BREWSTER] slightly wounded in the temple at duty No.3/8706 Pte.E.Tingey [Ernest TINGEY] killed by rifle bullet. Patrol reports enemy front line trench in part of B.14 not held by enemy
9 Nov 1915 Pumping, draining & cleaning trenches No.19608 Pte.A.E.TOMS [Arthur TOMS] wounded by bullet No.16755 Pte.A.C.Reed [Arthur C. REED] wounded by bullet No.19922 Pte.F.UNDERWOOD [Frederick T. UNDERWOOD] wounded rifle bullet. LA.BRIQUE dump was heavily shelled during the evening whilst rations were being dumped, all rations were got up to the trenches there were no casualties. Very wet day
10 Nov 1915 Trenches very wet & muddy work done pumping water out & repairing trenches where they had fallen in dump at LA BRIQUE dump heavily shelled during the morning.
11 Nov 1915 Trenches still very wet & muddy 2nd Lieut.Glenfield M.G.Officer 9th Norfolks killed by shell in front line trenches whilst handing over to our M.G. Officer Raining most of the day.
12 Nov 1915 - Camp A Following message received from 71st I.B. "Division wires that certain information has been received showing that there is a possibility that the Germans may attack today. Information is unreliable but you are hereby warned and close touch should be kept on your flanks and with the neighbouring Brigades especially with the 49th Division". The 49th Division was on our left & close touch was maintained with the West Yorkshire Regt. who was on the Right of 49th Div. Trenches very full of water it rained heavily during the day, the enemy sent up rockets during the afternoon. Relieved by the 2nd Sherwood Foresters relief being completed at 11.30 pm. Marched to Camp A. Wood A.30 on relief.
13 Nov 1915 - Poperinge Camp very wet & muddy still raining moved at 3pm to billets in POPERINGHE in Divisional Reserve under orders to move at 2 hours notice. 14 Nov 1915 Divine Service at 11 am in Cinema.
15 Nov 1916 6th Div. Baths allotted to the Bn.
16 Nov 1915 Coy. Training in billets cold day hard frost.
17 Nov 1915 Very wet day Platoon training in billets.
18 Nov 1915 - Camp C near Poperinge Transferred to 16th I.B. received orders to move to Camp C W. of POPERINGHE Sheet 27 L 3 d 4.4. moved at 3 pm camp very muddy. Rest Camp of 14th Div.
19 Nov 1915 10 am Brig.Gen.C.L.Nicholson inspected camp, working parties daubing huts, hard frost.
20 Nov 1915 9.30 am Hostile Aeroplane dropped bombs on camp no damage done. 10 am Brig.Gen.C.L.Nicholson inspected Bn. in marching order. Commenced issue of webbing equipment in place of leather pattern 1915
21 Nov 1915 Camp very muddy
22 Nov 1915 Frost camp drier
23 Nov 1915 Officers from 1/K.S.L.I. York & Lancaster & 2/Buffs attached
24 Nov 1915 Genl. Ross 6th Div. inspected camp
25 Nov 1915 6th Div Baths allotted to Bn.
26 Nov 1915 Inspection of Camp by Gen. J.Kerr K.C.B. VI Corps Commander
27 Nov 1915 - Poperinge Moved from Camp to billets in POPERINGHE
28 Nov 1915 Billets in POPERINGHE hard frost
29 Nov 1915 Div. Baths allotted from 9 am - 12 noon
30 Nov 1915 Billets in POPERINGHE
WAR DIARY FOR DECEMBER 1915
1 Dec 1915 - Poperinge In Billets town shelled in the afternoon took Bn out of the town along ABEELE RD.
2 Dec 1915 Coy. Training
3 Dec 1915 Bde. Route March inspected during march by Gen.Plumer 2nd Army Commander
4 Dec 1915 Brig.Gen.Nicholson inspected billets. Very high wind blew down wall in transport lines burying nine horses three killed
5 Dec 1915 Service held in the "Fancies Hall"
6 Dec 1915 Found Working Parties in YPRES for 42nd Bde also on trenches
7 Dec 1915 Found Working Parties very wet
8 Dec 1915 - Watou Left POPERINGHE for Billets near WATOU BN.H.Q. in WATOU Coys billetted [sic] in farms near very scattered billets.
9 Dec 1915 Bde. Practice concentration very wet Bde. Inspected by Gen.Ross
10 Dec 1915 Bde.Gen Nicholson inspected billets.
11 Dec 1915 Coy training
12 Dec 1915 Colder some sleet & rain
13 Dec 1915 Route march in the morning. Inspection of M.Gunners by Brigadier in the afternoon
14 Dec 1915 Cold & frosty preparing for move to Camp C Wood A.30 sheet 28.
15 Dec 1915 - Camp C Moved at 2pm [comment;killed]
16 Dec 1915 - trenches at Forward Cottage Relieved 7th K.R.R. in FORWARD COTTAGE line of trenches
17 Dec 1915 Trenches very wet heavily shelled.
18 Dec 1915 Improving wire in front of the trenches & support trenches
19 Dec 1915 [Comment: The first German use of Phosgene gas] 5.30am Gas attack opened rapid fire the Germans did not come over the parapet very heavy shelling gas cleared at 7.30 pm. Telephone wires cut between coys. B.Coy. in FORWARD COTTAGE trench relieved by 1 Coy 2/York & Lancaster. Heavy shelling all day, also gas shells. [Comment;died of wounds and died from wounds received today on the 9th January 1916]
20 Dec 1915 Intense shelling support trenches demolished & relieved in the evening by 2/Buffs
21 Dec 1915 - Camp C Raining heavily 6th Div Baths allotted
22 Dec 1915 Brigadier Gen. Nicholson inspected battalion & complimented them on their behaviour
23 Dec 1915 Coy. training
24 Dec 1915 - Forward Cottage trenches 11 am Prepared for move to trenches 11 pm Relieved 1/BUFFS in FORWARD COTTAGE trenches raining trenches very wet & muddy BN. H.Q. Canal Bank during day, with advance H.Q. in 5.13B at night Little or no shelling during relief. 2/SHERWOOD FORESTERS on our Right 2/YORK & LANCASTER our left. Distribution 3 Coys. trenches 1 Canal Bank
25 Dec 1915 Xmas day. Quiet day, a little shelling Enemy Aeroplanes active
26 Dec 1915 Raining heavily relieved coy. in FORWARD COTTAGE by coy on CANAL BANK. Roads shelled one transport driver hit
27 Dec 1915 Quiet day very little shelling.
28 Dec 1915 Fairly quiet day YPRES and canal bank shelled Enemy aeroplanes active.
29 Dec 1915 - Poperinge FORWARD COTTAGE & B.14 heavily shelled, got intense retaliation from Bde. Relieved by 1st Buffs 2 coys remaining on Canal Bank H.Q. & two coys to Billets in POPENIGHE [sic] relief completed 11.35pm.
30 Dec 1915 Town shelled about 2pm & again about 4pm
31 Dec 1915 Town Shelled at 11.30 am till 12.30pm 22 shells 6th Div Allotted [baths to battalion]
[Two maps of the front line sector held between October 1915 and April 1916, showing front lines, support trenches and reserve positions]
Operation Order No.3 by Brig. Genl. Shewen 19th October 1915.
1. Once Company of the Essex Regt. will leave the wood at 1 p.m. on the 20th moving by platoons via BRIELEN to Brigade Headquarters, Canal Bank. On the 22nd, the Essex Regt. will relieve Bedfords in the trenches. They will move by HIGH ST. which must be reconnoitred and must arrive at Bridge 2A (I.1.B.0.9) by 5.30 p.m. moving from the wood by companies at 300 yard intervals. Bedfords will arrange for platoon guides to be at bridge on Friday at 5.30 p.m. On relief by Essex, the Bedfords will move to billets in POPERINGHE.
2. On the 22nd the Norfolks will relieve the Suffolks in the trenches, moving via HIGH ST. and will be at bridge 2A by 5.30 p.m., moving similarly to the Essex Regt. Suffolks will, on relief by Norfolks, move to Camp A in wood, leaving one company on the Canal Bank, Brigade Headquarters. Suffolks will arrange to have platoon guides at bridge on 23rd at 5.30 p.m.
Sgd. Bde. Major, 71st Inf. Bde.
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