1st Battalion War Diary, August 1915

    1st Border Regiment War Diary Transcriptions (1915-1918)
The National Archives WO/95/4311 & WO/95/2305    
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Part One (1 — 21 August)

Place Date Hour Summary of Events
1st August
Relieved R Innis Fus on ectreme left of firing line taking up from the sea over FUSILIER BLUFF to the barricade in J13. A & B Coys in firing line, C Coy in support & D in reserve (in TROLLY RAVINE). Headquarters were established in BORDER RAVINE. Eight saps in progress in right section of firing line & work in there was continued day & night. The parapet throughout the whole line had to be practically remade as it was much too high & not bullet proof at the top nor were there any loopholes for snipers. No special activity on the part of the enemy during the day, beyond sniping which was extremely accurate from well concealed loopholes & owning to the unsafe state of our parapet & lack of loopholes the enemy's superiority was for the time complete. During the night the enemy kept up an almost continuous fire but made no attempt to attack.
Work as on previous day continued. Soon after dark a bombing party of the enemy tried to get into a small ravine close under the parapet of the trench held by A Coy. They were spotted by our lookouts & driven off with loss by bombs & rifle fire before they could do any damage. 2nd Lt AMPT placed on sick list.
C & D Coys relieved A & B in the firing line, A going into support & B in reserve. By this time something like an equality in sniping had been established partly by constructing proper loopholes & also by the use of periscope rifles & the enemy's sniping was consequently kept within reasonable limits.
GALLIPOLI [new page]
3rd August
2/Lts CRANFIELD, COE & ARMSTRONG joined the Battalion.
During the afternoon an attempt was made to get into communication with the enemy as the G.O.C. wished to send out a letter by an interpreter. Fire was ceased along our front & two khaki flags waved from our fire trench for about 20 minutes but the enemy refused to recognize them & opened fire with a mountain battery on the place where they were being shown. Fire was accordingly re[?].
Preliminaries for a series of attacks by the 29th Division arranged & careful reconnaissances made of the ground allotted to the 87th Bde. Detailed plans made for accompanying the task of assaulting & capturing the portions of the J trenches occupied by the enemy & for establishing our line across both arms of the nullah with the right resting on H14. 2nd Lt ARMSTRONG placed on sick list.
Attack on H trenches by 88th Bde during afternoon. Attack unsuccessful & projected attacks by other Brigades of the 29th Division arranged for subsequent days accordingly cancelled.
LT A.V. MARSDEN wounded. Total casualties for week: officers wounded one, rank & files killed three, wounded eighteen. 2nd Lt ARMSTRONG rejoined from sick list.
8th, 9th, 10th
Usual sniping continued day & night. Patrols were sent out nightly along the beach & discovered that the enemy were in the habit of sending a party estimated at 60 strong down to their wire entanglements on the beach each night. Attempts were made to abush patrols sent out from this party but without success. LT J.T.B. DINWIDDIE promoted temporary Captain & LTs W.F.H. CHAMBERS & G.W. O'BRIEN temporary Lieutenants.
GALLIPOLI [new page]
11th August
LT HOLLAND 10th SUFFOLK REGT, 2nd LT STEER 10th NORFOLK REGT & 2nd Lt W.A. PRICE 1/BORDER REGT & 100 R & F joined from ENGLAND. CAPT KENNEDY & LT WILSON placed on sick list.
12th 13th
Nothing of special military interest occurred though every endeavour was made to keep the enemy fully employed & to ascertain in what strength the trenches immediately in front of us were held. No decrease in the enemy's strength was perceptible & any aggressive movement met with strong opposition not only in our sector of the line but also in portions held by other units of the Division.
Enemy suddenly opened heavy fusilade from their front trenches & the troops in occupation of them fixed bayonets. Our trenches were fully manned with great promptitude & all arrangements made to repel any attack. About 6.30pm the Turks exploded their mine underneath our barricade in J12 (held by R.I.F.[1]) but no attack was made & the firing died down at dusk. Casualties during the week rank & file, killed 5, wounded 15.
LT O/BRIEN & LT HOLLAND placed on sick list. Orders received that the battalion would be relieved by the ROYAL FUSILIERS the following morning & return to X Beach. During the period 1st to 15th August a tremendous amount of hard work was performed by the battalion. The new saps which had only just been started on the right sector of the line when we took over, were Teed out to either flank & a new continuous firing line some 15 to 20 yards in advance of the old one completed. On the left sector continuous work was required to keep the parapet bullet proof & also in revetting the fire step & making steps in the [?- flood] of the trench to make passage up & down it easy. A second line of defence from the mule track to the sea just N of TROLLEY RAVINE was also constructed. Very heavy daily fatigues were also necessary to get rations & water to the firing line from head of Y Ravine.
GALLIPOLI [new page]
16th August
The Battn was relieved by ROYAL FUSILIERS & proceeded to X Beach (in future designated IMPLACABLE Beach).
Order received from 87th Bde to embark 600 NCOs & men at V Beach at 9pm & remaining 319 at same place at 9.30pm.
Embarkation completed.
Battn disembarked at SUVLA BAY & went into bivouac near PUNAR.
Order recieved for Battn to march at 8pm & proceed to headquarters of 159th Bde, 53rd Div, less A Coy who proceeded to headquarters of 158th Bde.
Battn reached hqs of 159th Bde but owing to lateness of hour O.C. Bde decided not to attempt to advance his line as had been intended & the Battn accordingly returned to Azmak nullah where it bivouacked for the night.
Arrangements for assisting the 159th Bde to advance their line after dark were made & three patrols were sent out in front of the line to assist in dealing with the snipers who were causing considerable losses amongst the bde. These patrols did excellent work & pushed out from 600 to 1000 yards in front of the fire trench & accounted for five Turkish snipers & suffered no casualties themselves. A proportion of Territorials accompanied them for instruction in patrolling work.
18th August
One officer & 90 men from both B & C Coys were sent to assist 159th Brigade to advance their line, their special mission being to instruct the Territorials how to construct a fire trench in the dark under fire. The intention was to advance the line 400x & with this object in view a covering party ^from the 159th Bde was to be pushed out at dusk some 600x to cover the digging parties until they were sufficiently dug in to protect themselves. The covering party failed in all cases to go out far enough & in many cases to go out in the right direction & in consequence it was impossible to get the line forward more than from 150x to 200x.
This much however was accomplished & by daylight a fairly continuous line some 200x in advance of the old one had been established. Orders received from 87th Bde for Battn to be withdrawn at dusk & return to reserve camp. Battan left AZMAK nullah at dusk & when about a mile from the Reserve Camp was met by the Bde Major 87th Bde & directed to go into bivouac near the shore in square 116 P.
LT T. WALLACE & LT F.C. FRINK placed on sick list.
Order received from 87th Bde to be in readiness to move at 7.45pm & proceed to a position in rear of firing line in sq 105 h. Battn to be in Reserve & to dig in in four lines in suitable formation for immediate advance.
Battn marched off & reached new position about 10.30pm & proceeded to dig in where necessary.
21st August
C.O. ordered to attend at Bde hqs at Hill 53 (CHOCOLATE HILL). Bde orders for attack on HILL 70[2] to the following effect were handed to [?]: -

“Bde brigade will attack Hill 70 on a frontage of 400x from behind line now held by KOSB[3]. Artillery bombardment will commence at 2.30pm & at 3.30pm a covering fire will be opened by KOSB's in which 2 MG's 1/Border Regiment will assist. At 3.30pm the R Innis Fus will pass through line held by KOSB & make the assault. The 1/Border Regt will be held in support of the RIF & will move up into the trenches at present held by RIF as soon as that regt vacates them. The KOSB will remain in Reserve in the present fire trench”.

LT W. CLAGUE & 2nd Lt N.C. AMPT rejoined convalescent from wounds & from sick list respectively.
Battn orders Operation order No I for the Battn (based on the above) issued.
Information received from Bde that R.I.F. will send out a thin firing line about four or five hundred yards to the front of the line held by the KOSB at 3.5pm, the actual assault on Hill 70 to begin at 3.30pm.
Order received fromBde to support R.I.F. & take Hill 70.
D & C Coys advanced to the supports of the R.I.F. whose attack on the hill had been checked apparently by enfilade fire from the left.
Message from to R.I.F. & 1st Border Regt “Hill 70 must be taken”.
Order sent to O.C. A Coy to support C Coy & guard the left flank.
Another message sent to A Coy to push forward in support of C Coy, the left of HILL 70 being named as the objective.

Part Two (21 — 31 August)

Place Date Hour Summary of Events
21st August
Message received from LT CLAGUE saying he was within 500 yards of objective but unable to advance further & was building head cover, also requesting reinforcements. Two messages received about this time from LT ARMSTRONG, the only officers remaining unwounded with D Coy to the effect that he was within 50 yards of the top of the hill on the right but was not in touch with any troops on the right or left & asking for reinforcements. Two platoons of B Coy dispatched at once to reinforce him.
Message from Bde “When the mounted bde advance against Hill 112, the SWB[4] will come up in supports & take Hill 70 & the knoll on the left”.
Message from O.C. B Coy received to effect that attack on the right appeared to have come to a standstill in a small nullah just below the crest of the hill & that the attack on the left was still hung up by fire from the knoll 105 D8.
Artillery 7.0.0 reported to Bde that enemy have apparently retreated from Hill 70 in direction of ridge going from 112 though still some stragglers on N side of the hill. Between 6pm & 6.15pm the advance of the mounted Bde & SWB's commenced but was met with very heavy shrapnel fire & also by machine gune & rifle fire especially from the knoll on the left of Hill 70. [new page] From the heavy opposition offered to this attack it was evident that the enemy were just as strongly in possession of Hill 70 as ever & though a small party of mixed units succeeded in gaining a footing in the Turkish trench on the right of the hill, they were at once driven out of it by shrapnel fire enfilading them from the right. From information brought back by wounded men & also by messages from the firing line it was clear that our casualties had been extremely heavy both in officers & men, of the 15 officers who had gone out into the firing line only one, LT CLAGUE remaining unwounded.
It being now almost dark efforts were made to reorganize units & to establish some sort of continuous line below the crest of the hill.
MAJOR H. NELSON & 2nd LT COE were sent out to undertake this work & at the same time water parties & stretcher bearers were organized to go out to the firing line.
Major Nelson reported to the effect that in his opinion the situation was [new page] hopeless as although it might be quite feasible to hold on till daylight, owing to the stony nature of the ground, it would be impossible to obtain cover from shell fire & the position would be untenable by daylight. This opinion was based to some extent on information given him by the O.C. SWB & was modified by a detailed report submitted by him the following morning. Major Nelson received instruction direct from the Bde to carry out the evacuation of the position before daylight.
At 6am a message was recieved from LT CLAGUE to the effect that he was still holding on, on the extreme left of the position & had received no orders to retire & had with him the remnant of him own company about 33 strong & another 50 or so of various corps. Orders were at once sent to him to withdraw his party which he succeeded in doing successfully in spite of heavy sniping. During this action many gallant deeds were performed but owing to the heavy mortality among officers & the intermingling of units only very few of them were brough to light. The following were the casualties suffered by the Battn in the engagement, officers wounded: - CAPTS G.C. MAY, J.A TENNANT, J.T.B. DINWIDDIE, LTs J.H. HODGSON, F.A. RUPP, J.J. ADAIR, J.E.R. LAKE, W.F.H. CHAMBERS, HAMILTON, 2nd LTs P. NEW, N.C. AMPT, F.G. GOODALL, A.P.J. ARMSTRONG, E.C. STEER. Rank & file killed 38, wounded 274, missing 64.
COLONEL A.E. St v. POLLARD arrived & assumed command of the Battn from MAJOR (temp LT COL) F.G.G. MORRIS. LT B. MAY HEW BONE R.A.M.C took over the duties of M.O. I/C of the Battn from LT K.G. HEARNE R.A.M.C. Total casualties for week ending 21st excluding casualties in engagement of 21st, 22nd were: - Rank & file killed 6, wounded 8, missing 1.
Information received from Bde that Battn will be relieved after dark & go into reserve in vicinity of sq 117 B.
Battn relieved by 5th Inniskillings & marched to gully in square 117 I which was reached about midnight.
23rd August
Day was spent in digging terraces & making proper dugouts & also in searching for wells. MAJOR (temp LT COL) F.G.G. MORRIS sent to take temporary command of R. Innis. Fus. One good well was discivered in the nullah itself.
2nd Lt J.W. FARRELL & J.R. STREATER with draft of 74 R & F joined from ENGLAND.
25th, 26th
Remained in gully & continued to improve terraces & dugouts.
Ordered to send in working party of 200 to work at A Beach unloading stores.
Message received from LT FARRELL reporting that no 11 platoon C Coy had been practically wiped out on its way down by big H.E. shell, losing 6 men killed & 11 wounded. The same shell also wounded MAJOR (temp LT COL) F.G.G. MORRIS who happened to be near them at the time. Battn ordered to proceed to bivouac just N of A Beach after dark.
Battn arrived at bivouac & all available men sent to work to dig in by daylight. Good cover for the whole Battn had been constructed.
Battn ordered to return to gully 117 I after dark & reoccupy old bivouacs. Casualties for week: - officers wounded one, rank & file killed 6, wounded 13, missing one.
29th August
Remained in gully. Orders received about noon to move up into nullah 117 D & relieve 2 HANTS REGT, the Battn being in Reserve with KOSB & SWB in firing line.
Relieved 2 HANTS, Regtl Hqs were established in nullah previously occupied by 88th Bde hqs & the Coys in the nullah just N of it.
Work on improving existing dugouts proceeded with. Working party of one officer & 50 men sent to K.O.S.Bs. & 3 officers & 150 men to S.W.Bs. for work in communication trenches from 8pm to 12 midnight. During the night all the balance of Regtl stores, kits etc. were brought up from the beach to headquarter nullah.
Improvements to existing accommodation continued & plans made for making the two nullahs habitable during the winter.

See also

References / notes

  • National Archives Catalogue Reference: WO/95/4311
  • The transcription above is available under the National Archives Open Government Licence for public sector information.
  1. Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
  2. Otherwise known as Scimitar Hill.
  3. King's Own Scottish Borderers.
  4. South Wales Borderers.
Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.