The Bedfordshire Regiment in the Great War
1918 War Diary
[Note that all remarks in squared brackets are my own additions and not part of the original text]
WAR DIARY FOR JANUARY 1918
1 Jan 1918 - Bailleulmont The Battalion was relieved by the 1st LEICESTERSHIRE Regiment 71st Brigade. On relief coys marched independently to their new billets in BAILLEULMONT. Route taken by coys was AYETTE - DOUCHY-LES-AYETTE - ADINFAR [sic] - RANSART - BELLACOURT - BASSEUX - BAILLEUVAL [sic] to BAILLEULMONT. Roads were in a bad condition owing to frost. The march was done in good time by the battalion and no men fell out during the march. At 6P.M all coys and transport were reported in billets. Condition of billet good A&B Coys in huts with C&D coys & H.Qrs in barns all men wire beds.
2 Jan 1918 Coys at disposal of Coy Commanders for training as per programme issued from 9AM to 1 P.M. Afternoon devoted to games.
3 Jan 1918 Training by companies as per programme. 24 O.R arrived from DIV WING.
4 Jan 1918 Training by companies as per programme
5 Jan 1918 Training by companies as per programme
6 Jan 1918 Training by companies as per programme. 29 O.R. arrived from DIV WING also Captain Elliott [Arthur Winterbottom ELLIOTT, MC] who took over command of 'C' Coy from Captain Wright.
7 Jan 1918 Training by companies as per programme Commanding officer inspected new drafts.
8 Jan 1918 Training by companies as per programme.
9 Jan 1918 Training as per programme 2/Lt Smith rejoined from DIV WING.
10 Jan 1918 The Battalion allotted baths at BAILLEULVAL during the day 40 O.R. were bathed and received clean clothing 40 O.R. A boxing bout was held in afternoon which was very well attended and some excellent boxing was out up by the men taking part.
11 Jan 1918 Training as per programme mostly carried out in billets wing to weather.
12 Jan 1918 Bn. parade & march to BAILLEULVAL where presentation parade of medals was held by General Officer Commanding 6th DIVISION. The following were presented with MILITARY MEDAL for operations round CAMBRAI:
C.S.M. Walker P. 'A' Coy [13919 Percy Albert Tom WALKER, MM]
Lce Cpl Mills H.J. 'A' Coy [15722 Henry J MILLS, MM]
Sgt Freer R. 'D' Coy [29918 Robert FREEAR, MM]
Captain Nixon [Noel Charles Frederick NIXON] & 2/Lt Whitbourn [Walter WHITBOURN, MC] to Rest Camp III Corps 5 O.R joined from DIVISION WING.
13 Jan 1918 Church parade service. LC Goody to Corps Gas school.
14 Jan 1918 Battalion exercise carried out during forenoon afternoon devoted to games.
15 Jan 1918 Training as per programme Afternoon devoted to games.
16 Jan 1918 Training as per programme Afternoon devoted to games.
17 Jan 1918 Training under Coy Commanders two Companies A & C firing on Range Brigadier General went round all coys at work during the forenoon. Afternoon games.
18 Jan 1918 Training under Coy Commanders Coy attack practice carried out by 'B' Coy. 4 O.R arrived from Divisional Wing.
19 Jan 1918 Battalion exercise under Commanding Officer (Major Saunders) during forenoon
20 Jan 1918 - Courcelles-le-Comte The Battalion proceeded by march route to billets at COURCELLES-LE-COMTE (LENS II) marching off at 8AM Route was BAILLEULVAL - BASSEUX - RANSART - ADINFER - AYETTE - COURCELLES-LE-COMTE Billets taken over were in a good condition. The marching of the Bn. was good throughout. Transport moved with battalion.
21 Jan 1918 - Lebucquiere The battalion marched to billets at LEBUCQUIERE parading at 7.15AM route ACHIET-LE-GRAND - BHIUCOURT [sic] - BAPAUME - FREMICOURT - LEBUCQUIERE (Sheet 57c) The battalion marched by companies at intervals of 100 y Transport moved in rear of Bn. in two portions. The marching was god throughout and very few men fell out. Lt & Qr.Mst.Rutherford [George Thomas RUTHERFORD] evacuated to Hospital. Lt Martin [Robert Reginald MARTIN] to Hospital,
22 Jan 1918 Companies carried out inspections during the forenoon. Officers reconnoitred assembly positions N. & S. of CAMBRAI ROAD which the battalion is to form up on in case of enemy attack. 13 O.R. joined from DIV WING. 5.O.R. admitted to Hosp. 9 officers & 400 O.R. furnished by Bn. to bury cables under direction of 6th Div Signals
23 Jan 1918 Company parades Officers again reconnoitred route to Assembly positions. 1 off 65 O R furnished by Bn. to work under direction of 252nd Tunnelling Coy on Dug-outs. Captain Pares [William Thomas PARES, MC] awarded MILITARY CROSS.
24 Jan 1918 Commanding officers conference as regards defence scheme, Coy Commanders had parade for training from 9 AM to 12.30 PM under Coy arrangements. 9 off, 400 O.R. furnished by Bn. to work under officer of 6th Div Signals burying cables.
25 Jan 1918 Baths alloted to Bn. for one & half hours 150 O R had bath & clean clothing 1 sgt 15 O.R. proceeded to TANK CORP 2 O.R. to Dib Employment Coy. Battalion entertainment in CINEMA Hut Battalion relieved 4 working parties of the 9th SUFFOLK REGIMENT in the following positions 'A' Coy 1 off (Mr.Hughes [William HUGHES, MC]) 40 O.R. at J.12.a.6.7. 'B' Coy (Mr.Ambridge [William AMBRIDGE]) 40 O.R. at J.6.c.6.2. 'C' Coy (Mr Williams [Harry WILLIAMS]) 40 O.R. at J.5.A.8.3. 'D' Coy (Mr Bradfield [James W BRADFIELD]) 40 O.R. J.17.A.8.6. Ref sheet 57c Enemy carried out bombing raids on our back area in early part of the evening.
26 Jan 1918 Coys at training under Coy arrangements. Coy commanders reconnoitred positions of their respective working parties in forenoon. 'A' Coy furnished 2 off & 2 platoons (Mr.Balls [Bertie Henry BALLS] & Mr.Poulter [Herbert James POULTER]) to relieve 2 platoons of the 9th NORFOLK Regt. in SUNKEN ROAD about J.23.A.30.40 to J.22.b.90.90 Ref sheet 57c and came under direct orders of O.C. 1st The Buffs. This party moved off at 5.15 P.M. Mr.Wilson [W.O. WILSON] & 2 O.R. proceeded for course at 59th Squadron R.F.C. COURCELLES.
27 Jan 1918 10.30AM Parade service under Commanding Officer (Major Saunders) for all men not in line 2nd in Command (Capt Pares MC [William Thomas PARES, MC]) and signalling officer (Mr.Lapper [Frank Staley LAPPER]) reconnoitred the position of the 2 platoons of 'A' Coy. Coy Sgt Major Garrod W.F. [Walter Frederick GARROD, MM] interviewed by 6th Div General with a view of being recommended for Temporary Commission.
28 Jan 1918 Parades under Coy arrangements. Battalion had entertainment in Cinema Hut given by 6th Div "FANCIES" I N.C.O. & 15 O.R working under Town MAJOR.
29 Jan 1918 Parades under Coy arrangements Commanding Officer & Lewis Gun officer (Major Saunders & 2/Lt Oakley [William George OAKLEY]) reconnoitred all the working parties in forward area. 1 off 40 O.R. (2/Lt Kinkead MC) of 'D' Coy relieved the platoon of 'A' Coy in line under 2/Lt Hughes. platoon of 'C' Coy under 2/Lt WILLIAMS [Harry WILLIAMS] moved to 16th BDE. H.Q. for work on new dug-outs 2/Lt Wilson from R.F.C. course.
30 Jan 1918 Parade under the Commanding Officer at 10.15 AM when letters of appreciation were read out to the Bn. from the major General Commanding 6th Div and the Brigadier General Commanding 16th.I.B. Working parties as follows were supplied by the B. 1 NCO & 15 OR under Town MAJOR. 2 N C O & 40 OR on Brigade Grenade school. 1 off & 100 O.R. under direction of R E on intermediate line. Lt Lapper [Frank Stanley LAPPER] proceeded to ENGLAND for 6 months tour of duty. Copy of speech attached to War Diary.
31 Jan 1918 Parades under coy arrangements. The following working parties were furnished by the Battalion 1 NCO & 15 O.R. Town Majors fatigue 2 NCO & 40 OR working on Brigade Grenade school. 4 officers & 100 O.R. working on intermediate line under R.E. 1 officer (2/Lt Ambridge [William AMBRIDGE]) & 2 O.R. proceeded to Third Army Musketry course 1.O R to Pigeon course at 6th Div H.Q.
WAR DIARY FOR FEBRUARY 1918
1 Feb 1918 - Lebucquerie Working party of 4 officers 150 O.R. working on intermediate line. 4 Spoils parties consisting of 1 off 40 OR working on dug-outs.
2 Feb 1918 Working party of 4 officers 150 O.R. working on intermediate line. 4 Spoils parties consisting of 1 off 40 OR working on dug-outs.
3 Feb 1918 Working parties as above. Remainder of Bn. at Divine Service in Cinema Hut. 2/Lt Maddison from HQ, 2/Lt Pratt [Arthur PRATT] & 10 O R joined from Div Wing. 2/Lt Dolman [Leonard DOLMAN] (since died of wounds) awarded BELGIAN CROIX-DE-GUERRE 20454 L.Sgt Cooper W [William John COOPER] ('A' Coy) awarded BELGIAN CROIX-DE-GUERRE. Commanding officer (Lt Col R le Huquet) reconnoitred all working parties.
4 Feb 1918 Commanding officer reconnoitred all working parties. Wire received to send 13 offs 300 O R to 4th Bedfordshire Regiment. Commanding officer & Adjutant visited BDE H.Q. & 6th Div HQ regarding the transfer of above men
5 Feb 1918 The spoils parties were relieved by 1st The Buffs at 8.0 PM Orders were received to send 13 officers & 300 O.R. to 4th Bedfordshire Regiment parading at 12.30 on 6th. Officers farewell dinner at night very enjoyable evening. 'A' Coy still in line & working on intermediate line. 1 officer 2/Lt Everett [Percy W EVERETT, DCM] & 36 O.R. joined from BDE Pioneer Coy.
7 Feb 1918 The draft having to join the 4th Bedford Regiment paraded at 12.30 P.M. and proceeded by route march to 6th Div HQ FREMICOURT where busses were waiting to take them to their new Bn. at ALBUERA CAMP BEAULENCOURT The Commanding officer gave the draft a speech on keeping up the history of the regiment although they were going to a new Bn. and also thanked all ranks for the loyalty & devotion they had shown to him whilst in this Bn. The following officers left with the draft of 238 O.R [for the 4th Btn]. Capt Knight R.B. [Richard Brodnax KNIGHT] 2/Lt Webb E.C. [Ernest Charles WEBB] 2/Lt Everett P.W. "D.C.M." [Percy W EVERETT, DCM] 2/Lt Bradfield J.W. [James W BRADFIELD] 2/Lt Hawkes A. "M.C." [Albert HAWKES, MC] 2/Lt Gudgeon H.L. [Henry Lester GUDGEON] 2/Lt Cottrill W.H.T. [William Henry Thomas COTHILL] 2/Lt Smith relieved 2/Lt Balls [Bertie Henry BALLS] in the line 22 O.R, also relieved.
8 Feb 1918 The draft leaving to join 2nd Bedford Regiment paraded at 8.15 Am and proceeded by march route to 6th Div H Q FREMICOURT where busses were waiting to conduct them to their new battalion. Debussing point of this party was X roads L " central sheet 70 E. the Commanding Officer made a speech similar to one given to other draft. The following officers left with the draft of 86 OR Capt Pares "M.C" [William Thomas PARES, MC] 2/Lt Whitbourn [Walter WHITBOURN, MC], 2/Lt Maddison. The draft leaving to join 6th Bn. Bedfordshire Regiment paraded at 8.45Am & proceeded by march route to BAPAUME station to entrain for EBBELINGHEN. The Commanding Officer made a speech similar to one given to the other drafts. The following officers proceeded with the draft of 118 O R - 2/Lt Williams [Harry WILLIAMS], 2/Lt Webb [Ernest Charles WEBB]. 'A' Coy were relieved in the intermediate line by 1st The Buffs and returned to billets here after doing 12 days in the line Lt Hendrie, 2/Lt Balls & 6 O R proceeded to Third Army school of instruction.
9 Feb 1918 - Courcelles-le-Comte The draft of 8 officers & 170 O.R proceeding to join 7th Bn. Bedford Regt paraded at 8.30 AM & proceeded to BAPAUME for entrainment to 18th Div Railhead. The Commanding officer made a speech similar to the one given to the other drafts. The following officers proceeded with this draft:[Andrew Best McBRIDE, MC] [Martin Cave DUPLOCK] (since died of wounds) [Arthur PRATT] 2/Lt Hughes [William HUGHES, MC] 2/Lt Smith, 2/Lt Poulter [Herbert James POULTER]. The details left paraded at 10.30 AM & proceeded by march route to COURCELLES-LE-COMTE by the following route - FREMICOURT - BAPAUME - BIHUCOURT - ACHIET-LE-GRAND - COURCELLES. Arrived in camp about 3 30PM & took over billets. Details are under orders of Officer Commanding IV Corp Surplus Reinforcements (Lt Col Finch DSO 13th Cheshires)
10 Feb 1918 Repairing of Huts and making trenches round camp. Sorting out correspondence to send to records & books to be sent back to 16th Brigade
11 Feb 1918 Usual fatigue party working on trenches round camp. Cross country run for all units in the afternoon distance about 2 1/2 miles Bedford details had 5 in the first six finishing. Sgt VIVIAN being first man home in 14 minutes 2/Lt OAKLEY [William George OAKLEY] & 10 O.R proceeded to 4th Bn.
12 Feb 1918 Usual fatigue party on trenches round camp All W.Os paraded under R.S.M. Armstrong. Football match in afternoon against 8th Loyal North Lancs in which details won by 2-0
13 Feb 1918 Very wet day no parades during the forenoon WOs had lectures on musketry by RSM. Football matches in afternoon were cancelled owing to rain.
14 Feb 1918 usual fatigue party on trenches round camp All Orderly Room documents ready for despatch to Base Records. Football match in afternoon
15 Feb 1918 Orders were issued that all the remaining details of the Bn. would be formed into an entrenching Bn. Rolls rendered to Orderly Room IV Corp Surplus Camp showing numbers actually posted to entrenching Bn.
16 Feb 1918 All details of the 8th Bedfordshire Regiment posted to 5th Entrenching Bn. with the exception of WOs & C.Q.M Sgts. All Orderly Room closed and the final disbandment of the 8th Bedfordshire Regiment carried out. The details which were posted to 5th Entrenching battalion form No 2 Coy with 9th Suffolk Regiment and 8th L North Lancs Regiment
1918 War Diary appendices
NOTES: All remarks in squared brackets are my own additions, amendments or comments and are not part of the original document
I have adjusted all names to show in bold and capital letters, to make them easier to pick out. This is not how they appear in the original document.
There are more appendices from this year to follow, once I have been able to transcribe them.
GENERAL HEADQUARTERS, BRITISH ARMIES IN FRANCE. 20th January, 1918.
My dear Byng, The situation with regard to man-power has rendered it impossible to maintain all the units now in the field, and in consequence the Army Council have issued orders that a large number of battalions must be broken up. I wish, through you, to convey to the Commanders and all ranks of the battalions about to be disbanded my great regret that this step should have been found necessary. I know how deeply officers and men will feel the severance of the ties binding them to the units in which they have served and fought with such splendid [sic] gallantry and success and with which they had hoped eventually to return home after the great struggles had been won and their task achieved. But I know also that since this reorganisation has to be it will be accepted with the loyalty and devotion with which every trial has been met by British officers and men throughout the war. Please convey to the officers and other ranks concerned, with my deep appreciation of their services in the past, my confidence that they will accept this disappointment in the right spirit and will give to the new units to which they are transferred the same devotion and espirit-de-corps that they gave to those they have been with until now. Your very truly D.HAIG Gen, Sir J.H.G.BYNG K.C.B., K.C.M.G., M.V.O., Commanding Third Army. SECRET Third Army A/A/10492 IV Corps A.958 6th Divn. A/11068 16th I.B. A.106/3 IV Corps The Army Commander directs that a copy of the Commander-in-Chief's letter is to be sent to the Commanding Officer of every battalion which is to be broken up, to be communicated verbally to all ranks of the battalion.
(Sd) A.F.SILLEM , Major-General D.A. & Q.M.G. Third Army H.Qrs. Third Army 25.1.1918
Officer Commanding, 8th Bedfordshire Regiment (thro' 16th I.Bde.)
In forwarding the attached correspondence, the Major-General Commanding regrets that is has been found necessary to break up the 8th Bedfordshire Regiment, and he wishes to express to the Officers, N.C.Os. and men his high appreciation of the services rendered by the Battalion during the time it has been with the Division. The splendid gallantry with which it has fought and the loyalty with which it has served has been in keeping with the highest traditions of the British Army.
(Sd) P.HUDSON, Lieut. Colonel, A.A. & Q.M.G. 6th Division 29.1.1918
After serving with the 8th Bedfordshire Regiment for 26 months the other units of the Brigade will sadly miss the Battalion. Its conduct in action and in the line has taught them to have every confidence in it. The Battalion did practically all its fighting in the 16th Infantry Brigade and it leaves a record of which the Brigade is proud.
(Sd) H.T.WALKER, Brig. General Commg. 16th Infantry Brigade. 29.1.1918
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