Extract from war diary of 11th Bn, 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment
Attack on Messines – Wytschaete ridge
At 3.10 am on the 7th June the 25th Division in conjunction with divisions on the right and left carried out an attack on the MESSINES-WYTSCHAETE RIDGE. The 75th Brigade was in Divisional Reserve and the task allotted to the Battalion was to advance from a line to be captured by the 8th South Lancashire Regt running from LUMM FARM (O. 26. d. 1.8.) to O.33.a.5.6. and establish a line of strong points between Farm at O. 27 central and the BLAVWEPOORTBECK SOUTH of DESPAGNE FARM (O.33.b.5.8)
The Battalion moved off from PIONEER CAMP at about 10 p.m. and was in position in the assembly trench (DURHAM TRENCH) by 1 a.m. While assembling and before ZERO the battalion was shelled with lachrymatory shells which caused a few casualties. Two officers were wounded in the Assembly Trench.
At 6.45 a.m. the battalion moved forward. On reaching the top of the MESSINES-WYTSCHAETE RIDGE casualties were caused by machine guns from LUMM FARM and the vicinity on the left flank of the Battalion when the enemy were still holding out. During the advance from the BLACK LINE (O. 26. d. 1.8. – O 33.a. 5.6.) many prisoners, four field guns and one machine were captured. By 9 a.m. the objective was reached and owing to the non-arrival of the Battalion on the left, the farm at O.27. central was captured and consolidation commenced. Between 11 a.m. and 12 NOON the enemy was seen massing in O. 34.b. and O. 35,a, and between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. a counter attack was launched from that direction. About 600 of the enemy attacked in four waves but were met by our Lewis Gun and rifle fire and were finally dispersed by our S.O.S. barrage leaving a large number of dead. At 3.10 p.m. the 52nd Battalion A.I.F. passed through the Battalion to capture a further objective. The Battalion apparently went too far NORTH and thus a gap was left in front of our right post. This was confirmed by the fact that between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. about 60 of the enemy were seen approaching this post but were driven back by Lewis Gun and rifle fire. The night passed fairly quietly and consolidation proceeded rapidly.
BAR to D.S.O. Lieut Col. W.K.EVANS, D.S.O.
MILITARY CROSS Capt. & Adjutant W.H. McKERROW;
Captains R. LE B. NICHOLSON, W.A. WILLIAMS
2nd Lieutenant L.F.CLIS, C.WRIGHT.
D.C.M. Coy. Sgt Major C.LOUTH – Sergt FLETCHER – Lance
MILITARY MEDALS 21.
Extract from war diary of 9th Bn, 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment
Assembly was complete by 12.45 a.m., on Zero day, and took place quietly, without hitch or casualty. The men were very crowded in the trenches, but silence was well maintained. From 12-30 a.m. to 1-30 a.m. airoplane [sic] was heard flying very low overhead. Its silhouette could be seen distinctly, it was apparently British, although “Instructions” distinctly said that no ‘planes would be up before Zero hour.
About 2-15 a.m to 2-45 a.m. mens water bottles were filled from the supply previously carried up, and a tot of rum was issued. The night was fine and not cold. Up to 3-9 a.m. everything was quiet. Our machine guns were doing their usual overhead fire, but our artillery was quiet, the enemy too was very quiet
Zero hour. At Zero hour the mines went up and our barrage opened. Almost immediately the enemy commenced to shell our assembly positions. No damage was caused however, until our advance from the assembly commenced at 3-30 am when 2Lt. F.B. GADSDON, commanding “D” Coy, and about 15 other ranks of “B” & “D” Coys were killed. At this time it was quite dark and very misty. In addition there was a wind from the east, and this carried the smoke, dust and gas from the mines. As companies advanced they found they had to pass through parties of Engineers and Pioneers, which had been assembled behind the leading battalions. Battn. H.Q. reached the RED LINE and got into touch with the Brigade forward station. From the Battn. H.Q. scouts it was learnt that the advance was going well. There was little hostile shelling As the advance through GRAND BOIS progressed, more & more sections got lost, and by the time the barrage had reached the BLUE LINE there were many gaps. These were filled by the second wave and there was a fairly complete line at 4-50 a.m. when the barrage lifted off the BLUE LINE, [sic] This – the first objective allotted to this Battn. – was taken without opposition at schedule time. A good many Germans were killed and wounded with the bayonet, and many more sent back as prisoners. The left of our line was in touch with the 56th Brigade on our left. On our right the barrage was short of the objective, and a gap of about 100x was made between ourselves and the 9th Welch. Later when the barrage lifted this gap was filled. Communication by runner through the GRAND BOIS was difficult and slow. The capture of the BLUE LINE was not reported until 5-33 a.m., by the left coy., whose report was the first to reach H.Q.. About 5-15 am. the Commanding Officer left H.Qrs. in the RED LINE to reconnoitre the position. He returned at 5.55 a.m. and reported to Brigade [sic] He then considered that owing to the loss of direction in the wood, the front companies would be too thin to continue the advance to the GREEN LINE in two waves. Accordingly he reorganised the companies. “A” and “B” leading were to attack in one wave, whilst “D” continued its task of mopping [sic] During the two hours halt on the BLUE LINE, consolidation was carried on rigorously. A trench was dug about 200x further east than the old German trench on the edge of the wood, during this time a message (App. X h) came from Brigade. The explanation given by Officers in the front line is that certain men of the 56th Brigade passed through their places in our protective barrage and patrolled the ridge to the N.W. of ONRAET WOOD. The mist of the early morning had now risen and the advance from the BLUE LINE was begun in the sunshine. The GREEN LINE was taken at schedule time, although information was a long time coming in from the coys. Battn. H.Q. moved forward from the RED LINE at about 8-10 a.m., and took over the position established by the Battn. forward command party in ONRAET FARM. The left of our front line and ONREAT WOOD [sic] were shelled intermittently during the morning but very little damage was done & no casualties caused.
The 57th Bde. passed through us at 7.50 a.m. to the capture of the BLACK LINE
Consolidation of the GREEN LINE was proceeded with actively. A large dump of concertina barbed wire was found in ONREAT WOOD [sic] and used for wiring our new positions. Our casualties up to this time were estimated at 150 but this proved to be too great. Not more than 100 casualties of all natures was suffered on this day. A reserve water supply was brought up by the R.S.M. and his battalion carrying party. This was distributed to the coys. The work of consolidation & communication went on without interruption from the enemy, who had ceased to shell our area. Water and rations were brought up by the pack mule train during the morning.
Touch had been established with Battn’s on flanks and our dispositions given. Location of coys is shewn on App X k.
At 1-30 p.m. a telephone message was received by the Adjutant from the Brigadier to relieve a Battn. – the second on the right of the 57th Bde. on the MAUVE LINE. No name or location could be given. The reconnaissance and relief had to be completed by 3.0 p.m., as the 57th Bde. were to advance to the BLACK LINE at 3-10 p.m. Confirmation of these orders was received at 2-0 p.m. and 4-12 p.m.
This relief was carried out by 2.55 p.m. and location reports was wired to Bde by 5.0 p.m. [sic] At 6.20 p.m. further confirmation was received from Bde., and further report was sent at 6.23 p.m. All the Bde. message referred to in App X o had reached us. Consequent on receipt of these orders (App X o) from the Bde., the 9th R.W.F. came up to the BLACK LINE on our right, and the 6th WILTS., moved up to the GREEN LINE. Both the H.Qrs of these Battns settled in ONRAET FARM.
A message was received ordering a carrying party of 120 men, to report at H.Qrs. 57th Bde. at BOIS CARRE. This party was used for carrying rations and stores to the Battns. of 57th Bde, in the OOSTTAVERNE LINE. 2Lieut E. SIMCOCK
Extract from war diary of 10th Bn, 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment
At 2.15 a.m. tea and rum were issued to all ranks. At 3.10 A.M. the Battalion left their trenches and advanced to the attack, they got away very well the arrangements made by R.E. for paths etc being excellent. The men kept close up to our barrage and our objectives, OCCUR TRENCH, OCCUR SUPPORT, NATHAN AVENUE, NATHAN DRIVE, HELL FARM (0 31 b 5.6) and STYX FARM (0 31 b 50.82) were taken without much opposition. The total numbers of captures made by the battalion were 1 officer, 117 O.R’s and 14 MACHINE GUNS. We got into touch with the 14th ROYAL IRISH RIFLES on our left flank and the 11th LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS on our right. The rest of the day was spent in consolidating our positions. Our total casualties were 1 officer died of wounds, officers wounded. Other ranks killed wounded missing.* The Bn was thanked and congratulated very heartily by Army Corps Div & Bde Comdrs