Tag: trenches

15 June 1918

Extract from war diary of 5th  Bn, 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment

Arras

The platoons at C.O’s disposal have worked for last three nights on TILLOY RESERVE trench completing excavation of same.

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6 June 1918

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

MONTAGNE de BLIGNY

At 3.a.m the enemy put down a heavy barrage on the positions occupied by the French on the immediate right of the Brigade front.  This gradually spread to the left and by 3.30 a.m the battalion area was being subjected to the barrage fire.  The enemy was shortly afterwards observed to be advancing to the attack in a South-Westerly direction, covering fire also being given by his Machine Guns from both flanks.  Many casualties were inflicted on him by rifle, Lewis Gun, and Machine Gunfire.  He succeeded however by 7.a.m in driving the French out of the village of BLIGNY and into the BOIS de REIMS.  This left the Brigade right flank completely exposed.  The 8/N. Staffs. therefore formed a defensive flank by withdrawing to the road (about the letter E of CHAMBRECY – reference map SOISSONS 1/100,000).  By attacking in large numbers the enemy contrived to eject our front line troops and gain possession of their trenches.  The Commanding Officer immediately issued orders for a counter-attack, and Lieuts Clarke and Berry re-organised their men and assisted by the supports, launched a counter-attack up the Southern slopes of the MONTAGNE.  This attack was held up by heavy machine gun fire before reaching the final objective, and did not succeed in turning the enemy out, in spite of flanking tactics that Lieut. Clarke organised.  The parties were compelled to withdraw and took up a defensive position on the road immediately South of the MONTAGNE de BLIGNY.  The enemy had by now (10.a.m) strong forces in our late front line and attempted to advance.  All his efforts were however frustrated by fire from the line in the road.  About 10.30 a.m orders were received that the hill must be held at all costs.  The Commanding Officer commenced reorganising for further counter-attacks and at 12.30 pm the reserve battalion, 1/4th K.S.L.I. arrived to assist.  The counter-attack was duly launched about 1.p.m. – the details of the 8/N. Staffs. were on the right – those of the 9/ Cheshire in the centre and the 1/4th K.S.L.I. on the left.  Before the objective, our front line, was reached the K.S.L.I. and the N/Staffs had orders to stand fast until the arrival of French troops, this they did and took up positions on the Southern and Eastern slopes of the hill.  The Cheshire party pushed forward however, and on reaching the crest of the hill, where they came under heavy fire from the enemy established on our old front line, charged and recaptured our positions at the point of the bayonet.  Two machine guns and 50 prisoners were taken and passed down through the K.S.L.I.  This charge was led by Lieut. CLARKE – Lieut. BERRY (who was missing in action) and 2nd Lieuts WRIGHT and LEES also took part and amongst the men were N.C.O’s and men of other units, who had become attached to the battalion.  The situation on the Battn. right was now completely restored and remained intact from this time onwards.  On the left, however, the enemy still retained hold in our trenches and attempts were made by small parties of the K.S.L.I. to get into close touch with him.  The Commanding Officer took a small party up the Western slope of the hill to try and eject the enemy but hostile fire was too heavy and the party practically wiped out.  He again organised two parties to attack this left flank; one was led, very gallantly, by 2nd Lieut JONES (9th Welsh Rgt) but was unsuccessful, the officer being wounded; the other Captain Griffiths himself led and succeeded in capturing a small portion of the trench, Killing several of the enemy and wounding others – the remainder fled.  The attacking party, oddments of all Units, remained in occupation of this post.  The situation at 7.20 pm was as stated in the Commanding Officer’s report (App K99.) and remained unaltered.  About 8.0 pm. orders were received that the Brigade would be relieved by the 150th Composite Brigade that night, the 6/7th June.  The situation was now becoming quiet and by dusk all was quiet on the Brigade front.  Stretcher parties were able to get to work and many wounded were brought in.  Guides were despatched (as detailed in A/44 –App K 100 (b) to meet the incoming unit, the 151st Composite Battn. and this battalion arrived in the line at 11.30 p.m.  Owing to the darkness of the night the relief took some time to carry out and was not completed until 2.a.m (App K100(c)).

23 February 1918

Extract from the diary of Capt Ferguson, 1st Bn, 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment 

I went to dinner at Bn HQ last night, as I had a number of points to discuss with the CO. He is a very genial fellow, but I find it difficult to get any definite orders from him, and I should not call him a good leader of men; he is far too ready to take the ideas of others than to suggest a point himself. Even though I went to Bn HQ to discuss the operations, he would hardly mention the subject and would always branch off into other matters of fact. Tonight I went with him to dine at division, a great honour, and I was very pleased to tell the General what my own ideas were on the ‘stunt’. I found him a ready listener, and he cleared up a number of points I wanted him to know. I was rather alarmed at the thought of food supply and SAA running short, in case we are forced to stay longer than 48 hours on the other side; this was quite likely if the river flooded, which is usual at this time of year. He had not thought about this, and promised to have supply ready by air if required, He also told me that a big German offensive was expected in France, and that two divisions in Italy were under orders to return; however the 5th would not go back, but we were under orders to leave the PIAVE, and go into training for the mountain front, and we should eventually go to the ASIAGO plateau. Altogether, we had an interesting evening, and I was feeling much more confident of a big success when I returned home. I also got to know many of the staff, whom I had not met before. On leaving we noticed a big fire on the enemy lines of trenches in the mountains and thought it must be Austrian gas flares which had been lit. The Italians also have this idea of making a fire along the trench if they smell gas, thinking the heat will send the gas over the line. It might do good but cloud gas is now not much used. The weather is wonderful & the sun is as hot in the daytime as the warmest day we ever get at home, but we still have about 20 degrees of frost at night. The moon is very bright, & the bombing is very bad; each time he comes over, he lets 4 or 5 bombs drop in this village. Last night, I was much disturbed, as the house rocks & bits of the plaster keep tumbling down, also last night the window fell out. I stuck to my bed, but the other fellows got up and went to the funk hole. The nearest bomb last evening was 100 yds away in the fields, and I am told that the total damage done all night was 1 man and 1 horse killed and 4 or 5 wounded; he also hit houses that were unoccupied. The safest spot out here is the front line. With 14 hours sunshine each day, and the beauties of this country and the spring flowers in bloom, everybody is happy & full of ‘bits’[sic].