Tag: Germans

20 September 1917

Extract from war diary of 9th Bn, 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment

Berthen

At a quarter past twelve a message came from Brigade stating Zero hour to be 5.40 am – this was communicated to Coy Commanders immediately.  In spite of the darkness and the rain, which soon soaked the mens clothes through, the Battn was all assembled and H.Q. established in IMPERFECT COPSE by 1-45 A.M without casualty.  The Battn was to attack in two waves of two lines each and the four lines all formed up close behind one another.  There was no cover or protection for the lines of assembled troops, who had to lie out in the open, and unfortunately no Rum was issued.  However, silence was maintained and no movement made, the troops lying there confident and quiet.  The following is a list of Officers who went into action with the Battn:-

Headquarters Lt Col J.A. SOUTHEY Commanding, 2LT D. GREVILLE acting Adjutant, LT J.R. MALLALIEU Signal Officer, 2LT A.C.W. BENETT DAMPIER, intelligence Officer, and attached Capt. L. ROSE M.C. 5th S.W.B.

“A” Coy Capt H.E. QUAYLE M.C. commanding, 2/Lts’ F. FULLER, PLATT, attached 2LT DAVIES R.W.F.

“B” Coy Capt R.D. TONGE Commanding, 2/Lts’ N. SCARRATT, and J.H. McKEEVER

“C”    “    “      J.G. WOOD Commanding, 2/Lts’ A.D. ELSTUB, N. SUTHERLAND M.C. and F.L. WALSH

“B” Coy Major W.H.JONES Commanding, 2Lts’ H. COLVIN, T.H. TEARE and 2Lt BUCK R.W.F. attached.

The strength of the Battn going into action was 20 Officers 556 other ranks except for the normal activity of our Artillery and machine guns the night passed quite quietly until 5.40 am, when our Artillery and machine gun barrage opened and the troops advanced to the attack:- the four lines moving forward at once to clear the enemy barrage, which came down within a few minutes of Zero hour.  Once clear of our front line, the lines corrected their distances and experienced no difficulty from the enemy artillery, but hostile machine gun fire was very heavy, coming from the front and flank, especially from the direction of HOLLEBE CHAETAU [sic].

6.9 AM

Other than this no opposition was met with, JERROCKS FARM, PIONEER HOUSE, and the intermediate objective, all being easily carried according to Schedule time, only slight casualties were sustained and many (GERMANS) were killed & captured.

Major W.H. JONES and Capt R D TONGE MC were wounded by machine gun bullets before the capture of the intermediate objective. The consolidation of the GREEN LINE was immediately carried out.  As they had now gone beyond the crest of the ridge, the Battn was now in full view of the enemy, who started to make full use of his machine guns and brought rather disconcerting enfilade fire to bear on our troops both while digging in and on their subsequent advance.  This was the cause of the greater of the Battns casualties.  Capt J.G. WOOD was wounded soon after the arrival of [at] the intermediate objective. [sic]

6.44 AM

The advance on the final objective commenced at 6.44 am and more resistance was met with.  On the left “A” Coy under Capt H.E. QUAYLE experienced difficulty with machine guns on the ridge in front about MAY FARM, but on receiving a reinforcing platoon from “B” Coy captured POTSDAM FARM and all their final objectives and established touch with the Worcesters on their left.  On the right matters were more obscure and more difficult.  The WELCH REGT the attacking troops on our right flank suffered heavy casualties and were help up by HESSIAN WOOD.  2Lt. H. COLVIN who had taken over “D” Coy  on Major W.H. JONES becoming a casualty, took two platoons with him and went to their assistance the remainder of “D” Coy had to go up to reinforce “C” Coy of our Battn who had sustained about 50 casualties and were held up by SNIDERS POST  on their extreme right. [sic]

6.58AM

With this assistance the final objective was taken on the Battn front by Schedule time, but touch was not established on the right flank as HESSIAN WOOD was not cleared until after 7.30 AM.  Then it was found necessary to withdraw to the NORTHERN edge of this wood on account of the swamp it proved to be, to conform with this, 2Lt H. COLVIN who had been mainly personally responsible for the clearing of HESSIAN WOOD and had now returned and taken over command of “C” & “D” Coy, with 2Lt F.L. WALSH to assist him, withdrew his right flank and the line of final objective consolidated by the Battn ran from 50 yards N of the N.E corner of HESSIAN WOOD to POTSDAM FARM.  The estimated casualties of the Battn were returned as 200.  This proved however to be too great.  Officer casualties during the advance from the intermediate line were:- wounded:- 2Lt A.D. ELSTUB; 2Lt J.H. TEARE; 2Lt J.H. McKEEVER, last named died later in the day from his wounds.  Consolidation was pushed on with all speed and a double line of posts prepared.  Wire had been carried up by a Battn carrying party under the direction of Sgt WILSON who was performing the duties of R.S.M.  This wire was put out protecting the line of posts.  Intermittent shelling was kept up by the enemy on our new positions and especially on Battn H.Q in IMPERFECT COPSE.  The posts were subjected all day to continual sniping and heavy machine gun fire, but no further casualties were sustained.  A party of R.E.’s under an Officer had reported to Battn about 6.30 AM to go forward beyond the final objective and blow up enemy dugouts likely to cause Battn trouble.  Owing to the strength of the enemy in these Shelters this was impossible.

7PM

 

 

At dusk both sides put up artillery barrages – these lasted until 8.30 PM, from which time until 4 AM the situation was very quiet.  Wire was again carried up and the consolidation and organisation of the position completed.  Water and rations were also brought and distributed to the men before dawn.

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26 August 1917

Extract from the diary of LCpl Walter Williamson, 6th Bn, 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment

In the darkness we seemed to cross and re-cross trenches without end, till we began to wonder when we would strike the right one. At last, a voice from a trench at our feet complained that we were kicking mud down his “scarlet” ventilator. It seemed lucky that we had done so, or very likely we would have crossed the trench which happened to be the home we were looking for. I had now lost my last shred of affection for the “Yellow Peril” and wished it might make the acquaintance of a 5.9 were it not that it kept me company so closely. My home this time was in a concrete pill box. It was the same place that we had kicked the mud into, down the ventilator. Haifa dozen of us were domiciled here. Timber had been laid over the flooded floor, and nothing prevented us from being quite comfortable, but the fact that the place was literally swarming with lice. As there were evidently of enemy origin, we showed no mercy till our energy was exhausted, and we fell to bemoaning our ill fate at becoming victims to German hate in this undignified manner.

Having a little time to spare the next morning, I had a walk round to see if I could find Pat, and found the signallers dugout, for once, a hive of industry, inside and out. They were busy on a scheme of drainage, having evidently slept in the dugout first to dream of the plans for morning. It (the scheme) seemed quite a success, but as I saw the stream of water pouring out of the dugout, down the trench, I wondered whose dugout would get the benefit of the deluge.

There was very little to do here, Pat was supposed to be “on the lines”, but I suspect this was more or less of an excuse to roam about at his own sweet will, for one morning he looked me up to see whether I had time to come for walk round to see the sights. I left word in the dugout that I had gone round to see the four companies over some question of “nominal rolls” and went off until four. We cut over the back of the trench. A short distance behind the trench was a road where the transport could come up at night with shells and rations, and where ration parties from the front line, and the supports would meet them.

Beyond the road again was a masked battery of 18 pdrs. Camouflage curtains being lifted only during firing. As no one was visible about the guns, we dropped into some trenches close by where the gunners had their quarters. Pat seemed to be well known round here, though I could not learn of any telephone line between our battalion and the artillery, which might account for his presence over here. He popped his head in a dugout here, and dugout there wishing them good morning, till at one dugout we learned that a new barrel of beer had arrived up the previous night, for their canteen. This was evidently “the line” that Pat was interested in hereabouts, as he did not then enquire the way to the canteen, but marched me off straight there to test the new barrel. The barrel and its attendant guardian occupied a dugout to themselves in solemn state. After testing the beer and murmuring “bon” more from habit than conviction, we moved off further to have a look at the old original front lines of this sector, previous to July. They were now battered out of all shape, but we could judge that it had not been a particularly restful spot to stay in. The German line was so near to our own, that it was impossible for either side to actually shell their apposing front line without their friends suffering in the process.

20 August 1917

Extract from war diary of 10th Bn, 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment

Dominion Area

Training was carried out under Company arrangements for two hours during the morning. DIVISIONAL PERRIOTS performed tunes in the evening.

About 9.30 pm a BOSCHE PLANE flew over the camp & dropped seven bombs. Three of these fell on the parade ground & two in D Coy lines. Material damage caused nil  but we sustained twenty two casualties:  Capt H.W.W. ROWE. MC & one man being killed and twenty men wounded. The LEWIS GUN on duty seemed unable to pick up the raider.

6 August 1917

Extract from war diary of 1st Bn, 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment

Front line trenches

At 1-30am. enemy put down a very heavy barrage on front and support lines with trench mortars and shells – including gas shells.  He is also believed to have released cloud gas apposite our left Company.  S.O.S. and gas alarms given.  Our barrage was quickly put down.  “Strafe” lasted about 1 hour.

Two wounded – including 2/Lieut C.G. EDWARDS (at duty)  Eleven suffering from gas.

Work – as before.