1st Battalion War Diary, August 1917

    1st Border Regiment War Diary Transcriptions (1915-1918)
The National Archives WO/95/4311 & WO/95/2305    
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Instructions regarding War Diaries and Intelligence Summaries are contained in F.S. Regs., Part II, and the Staff Manual respectively. Title Pages will be prepared in manuscript. WAR DIARY
(Erase heading not required.)
Army Form C. 2118
Place Date Hour Summary of Events and Information
Sheet 1[1][2]
Companies were employed on laying duckboard tracks up over the captured ground. Weather appalling - pouring with rain incessantly. In spite of this however, all our field guns were got across the caberat, ready to continue the advance.
Another fearfully wet day today, fighting practically impossible. St Julien was lost during the night & retaken by us this morning. Battalion rested today.
PROVEN 3/8/17
Battalion employed making duck walks again, up to the front line. Still fearful wet weather. Battalion moved back this evening to PROVEN P.2 area to PENTON CAMP.
Another wet day – little training. General De Lisle visited the battalion.
Fine today at last, warm & dry. Training continued.
Casualties for week ending 3/8/17.
Increase Off. O.R.
Quartermaster appointed from 10th East Yorks Hon. Lt. & QM H. Ireland 1
a/Lt Col F.G.G. Morris (comd. Detail Depot Bn. 1
Draft 29 Total 2+29
Decrease Killed[3] 9
        Wounded 1 13 a/CAPT. A.V.H. WOOD
        Missing 3
Classified PB ADMS 29 DIV N&R 13/24/1. 3
Transferred 2
Evacuated from Divisional Area 12 1+44
1 44[4]
Sheet 2
Training again at PENTON CAMP, tho’ the heavy ground made it difficult.
PROVEN 7/8/17
Moved this morning to DE WIPPE CABARET camp 20 again. Previous to the move, all NCOs & men who had not had leave for 15 months or over were sent to BOLLESEELE the Divisional Depot Battalion & were replaced by an equal number from the Depot Bn. This party, replacing the leave party joined us on the march – 24 other ranks.
Resting at Camp 20.
Moved to Bivouacs in the wood near DE WIPPE CABARET – FOREST CAMP AREA & practiced forming up on [?] this evening in the park & moving as was arranged for in the action to take place soon.
Continued as yesterday training for stunt.
Casualties for week ending 10/8/17
Increase Off. O.R.
Draft from Base to 29th Divl. Depot Bn 2 17 2+17
Decrease Killed
Transferred to Employment Co 3
Classified PB by A.D.M.S 1
Evacuated from Divl Area 11 15
Battalion moved into the line tonight.
Battn HQ at SAULES FM.
Sheet 3

B C&D Coys were in wood 15. B Coy at SAULES FM. Battalion HQ and A Coy moved into ABRI WOOD. The whole unit being attached to the 86th Brigade temporarily. No sooner had the battalion got into position, dark night & guides who were at least doubtful, than orders were received that a company was to be moved forward to "a line parallel to FOURCHES FM." When a map had been carefully studied & an idea formed as to what was probably meant orders were issued to o/c A. Coy to occupy a portion of the GREEN LINE to the from FOURCHES FM to the SW for about 200y & owing to excellent judgement & skilful handling of his company 2Lt A FULTON. o/c A Coy. got his men there just at dawn with few casualties. 2Lt J.B. TROTTER was wounded.
TRENCHES 12/8/17
Fairly quiet time for all coys. except A. who had a few casualties from fairly lively shelling round the green line. Battn. moved up to front line. 3 coys. A Coy remained in Green Line, Bn HQ at FORCHES FM the battalion struck the enemy barrage round FOURCHES FM & all told the battalion had about 40 casualties.
Hours shelling at stand to this morning. 2Lt G.F. HAMLETT killed & A/CAPT. A FULTON (just promoted that day) wounded and about ten casualties to other ranks.
Sheet 4
Again heavy shelling. principally in the early morning between 2.30 & 3.30 AM. an absolute barrage was put down. on the line FOURCHES FM CAPTAINS FARM. getting 3 or 4 direct hits on FOURCHES FM – Bn H.Q. causing about 5 casualties in the Green Line & around.
" 14/8/17
Another lively day at FOURCHES FARM. from shellfire. The Company Commander of the French company on our left paid us a visit & also the machine gun officer & a considerable entente resulted. Another barrage was put down by the BOCHE tonight about dusk.
Relieved early this morning & moved down to bivouacs at BLEVET FARM & slept till noon. Then cleaned up. issued battle stores & issued final orders for the battle. About 9 P.M. the companies began to move off, at intervals to the place of assembly EAST of the STEENBEEK in preparation for this second phase of the 3rd Battle of YPRES.
Sheet 5
Second Phase of the 3rd Battle of YPRES
15/8/17 9 PM
The Battalion marched from bivouacs at BLEVET FARM and proceeded via BRIDGE ST. – SAULES FARM. CAPTAINS FARM SIGNAL FARM to the place of assembly EAST of the STEENBEEK
10.30 PM
Battalion Headquarters, with Regimental aid post were established at SIGNAL FARM. Battalion Headquarters party comprised
LT Col A.J. ELLIS DSO. commanding.
LT G.H.S McDONALD. Signalling Officer.
LT MAXSTON R.A.M.C. Medical Officer
A stokes mortar & personnel, under 2LT. J. WHIGHAM accompanied battalion H.Q at SIGNAL FARM.
A section of machine guns of the 87th M.G.C under LT. PAGE were attached to C Coy – the support company – and proceeded direct with them to the place of assembly.
The battalion was formed up EAST of the STEENBEEK in rear of the 1st K.O.S.B.s on a two company frontage D and B companies in the front line forming the 1st 2 waves and A&C Coys in support forming the second two waves. A company was under the command of a/Capt W.F.H. Chambers with 2LT M.C. Nicholson as the only other officer.
Sheet 6
B Coy was under command of a/CAPT J.W. EWBANK M.C with platoon commanders:

C was under command of a/CAPT R.E.S JOHNSTON with platoon commanders:


D was under command of a/CAPT W.B. BUTLER with platoon commanders:

4 AM
During the approach march each battalion was shelled intermittently but the enemy was unable to put down his usual heavy barrage owing to our on the line CAPTAINS FARM. FOURCHE FARM. line probably owing to the gas shells which our artillery were sending over – in a practically continuous steady bombardment. It was the quietest night comparatively that the battalion had ever experienced in that area. Each company on passing Bn HQ at Signal farm dumped eight tins of water as a battalion reserve. Just previous to the assault CAPT WB BUTLER was slightly wounded but after going to the aid post returned to his company. 2LT A.J.F DANIELLI was also blown up by a shell & knocked unconscious, but owing on recovering consciousness on the way down on the stretcher, got off & rejoined his platoon in time to lead them in the show!!
Our barrage fell with great precision & the advance started. The enemy put down his barrage on the lines (1) CAPTAINS FARM, FOURCHE FARM (2) SIGNAL FARM. RUISSEAU FARM, but nothing more than an occasional shell on the line of the STEENBEEK
Sheet 7
NE of LANGEMARCK 16/8/17 6.40
Visual message was sent through from our advanced signal station at PASSEREILLE FARM saying the blue line had been taken.
and their message from the visual station stated that the advance was held up on the blue line by M.G. fire & later a message from Capt Ewbank confirmed this stating that the K.O.S.B & S.W.B. were held up by M.G fire from a "pill box" near what appeared to be MONTMIRAIL FARM, The stokes mortar, which had been pushed forward to Passereille farm on the blue line being taken, was accordingly sent forward to engage this obstacle.
Lt RES JONSTON o/c C Coy reported that the advance had continued & he had now reached his position in the gun pits near CANNES FM, the opposition from the blockhouse having been overcome by an outflanking movement which caused the garrison to surrender.
A/Capt W.B. BUTLER reported that the RED LINE had been taken & prisoners captured including 2 machine guns and that he was in touch with A Company on his right.
CAPT. EWBANK M.C o/c B Coy reported that the block house had been taken by an outflanking movement, forty prisoners being taken from it also a machine gun and a heavy trench mortar. This has enabled him to push on & capture his objective on the RED LINE. There he took several prisoners and 2 machine guns.
On receipt of this message Battalion Headquarters was moved forward to WIJDENDRIFT from SIGNAL FARM & at the same time the machine gun section ordered to move forward to take up [sentence appears to be missing its end or the phrase "take up" is incorrect in sentence context]
Sheet 8
16/8/17 9.35
After battalion headquarters had been established at Wijdendrift situation reports were received from all companies which made it possible to write up a full situation report for the battalion which was then sent to the Brigade, with a map showing the exact positions taken up, similar to those shown on attached map. The work of consolidation went forward quite smoothly all morning and the casualties were light though considerable sniping from the enemy on the EAST side of the BROEMBEER was kept up. A heavy howitzer, at first thought to be our own 9".2, but afterwards proved to be a French 8" caused no losses by dropping shells in PANTHER TRENCH WEST of the swamp and it some considerable time to get it stopped though the F.O.O. Lt NAPIER R.A at WIJDENDRIFT got his messages through with great promptitude.

During the consolidation the enemy artillery was fairly active between the green line and the steenbeek and at times concentrated heavily on Wijdendrift itself, but they seemed unable to locate our front line, or at any rate made no attempt to shell it.

Enemy aeroplanes were very active all morning and continually flew up and down our line at very low altitude firing Machine Guns at the garrison and also firing single red very lights. None of our battle planes came over, to interfere with them and one gallant contact plane of ours which came over
Sheet 9
unescorted was promptly brought down by them, so that they had matters pretty much their own way. Our contacts had been very busy & did splendid and gallant work further on in the morning.
1 PM
A report came from o/c B company that the enemy could be seen 3 or 4 hundred strong massing in NEY WOOD. The guns were prop promptly turned on, chiefly owing to Lt. Col. A.J. ELLIS D.S.O taking the matter personally in hand, and with excellent effect scattering the enemy alike heavy casualties were further inflicted by the front line garrisons by rifle fire, many of the men whose rifles were clogged with mud using captured enemy rifles and ammunition. At various times through the afternoon the firing line companies reported enemy activity beyond the BROEMBEEK and this culminated in a definite report about
7.20 PM that the enemy were massing from NEY WOOD to a point opposite the right boundary of the Bedford’s sector and were already pushing forward in small parties by short rushes.
A barrage was again asked for on the line of the BROEMBEEK from U.16.d.1.8 to U.16.C.1.9 (see map attached 1/10,000 LANGEMARCK) and this barrage was put down with great accuracy
Sheet 10
at precisely the right moment. again due to Lt Col. AJ. ELLIS D.S.O personal efforts & instructions.
CAPT and ADJT. A.W. SUTCLIFFE M.C., who was observing from WIJDENDRIFT spotted the enemy advancing in large numbers clear of our barrage - NW of NEY WOOD up to a point about U.15.b.2.6. After some little delay, LT. COL. ELLIS, who was still at the telephone, was able to get the artillery group commander on the other end and personally instruct him exactly where to put down his barrage & to what point to extend it with the result that all available guns heavy and light were turned ON and an annihilating fire The result of this fire was annihilating. It came down just at the right time and in the right place, completely broke up the enemy’s attack – he could be seen scattering in all directions, while parties could be seen being blown up all over by the heavier shells. – causing enormous casualties. All this time a heavy rifle, machine gun and Lewis gun fire was kept up by our firing line. Troops, who had never had such a "picnic" opportunity since Gallipoli and as the enemy had practically no trenches to get into
Sheet 11
the losses inflicted by this fire were also very heavy. Previous to, and during his counter attack the enemy put down a fairly heavy barrage on the WIJDENDRIFT and STEENBEEK lines but only a light and inaccurate one on the front line.
About 8.45 PM the 18 pounders withdrew their barrage from the BROEMBEEK line onto PANTHER TRENCH from the right brigade sector bombing up to the swamp causing some few casualties in the firing line. The barrage was never asked to be withdrawn from the Broembeek line, and consequently this contretemps cannot be [?claimed], and certainly not a single BOCHE ever got to the WEST of the stream alive.

During the late afternoon patrols were sent out & reconnoitred the BROEMBEEK & exploited its crossings. They encountered no enemy west of the stream, but were sniped at from by the enemy who appeared to be holding a shell hole line about 200y East of the stream.

The failure of the counter attack finished the enemy activity and the Battalion was relieved by the Inneskillen [sic] Fusiliers during the
Sheet 12
night and early morning of the 17th. The operation as far as this battalion was concerned being a complete success and carried out with remarkably light casualties. The advance was a difficult one owing to the assault running diagonally across our front from CANNES FARM to the BROEMBEEK and its success reflects the greatest credit upon the company commanders & their subordinates in keeping direction etc. Track and direction were kept throughout and they arrived at their allotted objectives to time. The endurance displayed by all ranks reflected was beyond all praise as the going throughout was in an appalling state and during the previous three days the battalion had held the firing line for [?18] hours and carried out two difficult reliefs under most adverse conditions and suffered considerably from shellfire. Notwithstanding, their moral was unsurpassed. and worthy of the highest traditions of the regiment.
Casualties for the action were as follows.
Sheet 13
Casualties for the action 16/8/17
Killed Officers NIL Other Ranks 14 (including C.S.M HARRISON)
Battalion relief was completed by about midnight & the battalion moved to CHARTERHOUSE CAMP near DE WIPPE CABERET behind Elverdinghe spending a restful day.
Cleaning up, reorganising and replacing deficiencies of the battalion.
Casualties week ending 17/8/17

[6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

Officers    1 2Lt GF HAMLETT 13/8/17 Other Ranks    24
Wounded Officers    3 a/CAPT A FULTON 13/8/17 Other Ranks    105
2LT J.B TROTTER 13/8/17
2LT M.C. NICHOLSON 16/8/17
Missing Officers    1 2Lt H.T. THOMPSON 13/8/17 Other Ranks    22
Died of Wounds
Total 5 Officers 152 other ranks
Maj General Sir Beauvoir De Lisle called on the CO, and company commanders & congratulated all in the excellent show of 16/8/17
Sheet 14
In camp near Elverdinghe making the place respectable. Great Boche air activity in the evening dropping bombs around.
Company parade etc. but fairly restful day. The boche again "laid eggs" around the camp this evening no casualties.
Battalion worked for two hours on the dry [?] track forward to the canal.
Fairly quiet restful day – nothing much done.
Battalion moved into the line opposite CANNES FARM this evening. Major R.P.M. NICHOLS in command temporarily LT G.B.D. CARGILL a/adjutant temporarily while Lt Col A.J. ELLIS DSO and CAPT A.W. SUTCLIFFE MC being temporarily 10% for a rest. LT W.S.M RUXTON took out a special patrol tonight to support the crossing of the BROEMNEEK & consider the possibility of establishing posts on the far side, also LT A.J.F DANIELLI made a short hearted attempt to establish an advanced post near NEY WOOD but was unsuccessful owing to an enemy post having been already established near, a party of about 40 boche being located. One prisoner was taken tonight by D Coy. a German despatch rider who had lost his way.
Considerable shelling of the front line and battalion HQ at CANNES FARM but fortunately casualties were light. The weather was appallingly wet & raw.
Another uneventful day. Considerable shelling by day & miserable weather. posts were eventually established across the BROEMBEEK. LT RUXTON doing particularly good work again in establish-
Sheet 15
ing posts within 25y of the enemy. A prisoner – a Prussian guard Sergt
TRENCHES 27/8/17
Major (Feldwebel). being taken by Pte. Corran C Coy after he / Corran had killed 3 & wounded 1 of a patrol of 5 including the feldwebel, by his Lewis gun
Battalion moved back from the front line & got into support by this morning at dawn. The 4th Scots Guards taking over, on the WIJDENDRIFT line.
Battalion relieved from the WIJENDRIFT line & moved back to ELVERDINGHE area & moved at 5 pm by rail to beyond PROVEN into the P4 area & into POLL HILL Camp near HAANDEKOT crossroads – the mens lines were very sloppy & muddy owing the heavy rains. Officers lines good [?]
Spent the day in reorganising – checking deficiencies & making them up as far as possible – & cleaning up generally.
" 31/8/17
C.O. held battalion parade & presented the following medal ribbons[11]
Capt JW Ewbank MC – bar to MC Capt WB Butler – MC Capt FRC Chambers[12] – MC 2Lt AJF Danielli – MC
Sergt Shearer – DCM and MM Cpl Fildes No 33857 – DCM 9134 CQMS Smith – DCM
Military Medals
10743 Sgt Billington 27911 L/Sgt Graham 19797 Sgt Markland 8281 Cpl Jarvis
17526 Cpl Moore J. 18988 Cpl Morris T. 10780 L/C Kelly J. 14673 L/C Yarrow E.
37695? L/C Blow FA. 240890 L/C Ismay. W 11833 L/C Mason T. 13782 L/C Graham T.
33615 Pte. Crooke 25245 Pte Watson J. 26287 Watson J. 4927 Massay G.
21183 Pte Turner? P. 21488 Burton L. 28734 Pte Watt D. 7584 Allen G.
25425 Wrigley G.
Casualties for week ending 31/8/17
Increase Off. O.R.
Drafts from base 1 32 2Lt Lowthorpe- Lutwidge
Rejoined from Hops. 1
Killed[13] 9
Wounded 22
Missing 2
Evacuated 4
To Sch O&Q 1
NIL  38

[Signed] AW Sutcliffe Capt.
1/Border Regt

Trench Map of 1st Border Regiment positions 16 August, 1917

References / notes

  • National Archives Catalogue Reference: WO/95/2305/1
  • The transcription above is available under the National Archives Open Government Licence for public sector information.
  • War diary transcribed by Hugh Fulton
  1. A note on the War Diary author’s writing style, AW Sutcliff’s (Capt. a/adjutant) frequently uses a full stop in sentences but the following word remains in lower case.
  2. The National Archive’s scanned War Diary has the following page order: 1,2,3,4,5,8,9,10,11,12,6,7,13,14,15 – this transcription has been reordered and pages have been placed according to numerical value.
  3. Commonwealth War Graves Commission: Casualties for week ending 3/8/17, 1st Border Regiment, 9 killed in Belgium (refer also to 1st Border War Diary entry for 31 July 1917):
    • C.S.M. 9616 William Millar Randolph
    • Sgt. 4372 Robert Montgomery
    • Cpl. 33608 Percy Douglas Bennett
    • L/Cpl. 241830 Harry Cook
    • Pte. 21167 Ernest Day
    • Pte. 22826 Charles Jordon
    • Pte. 28717 Hugh Mahon
    • Pte. 260065 George Parker
    • Pte. 28722 Joseph Wright
  4. Total decrease of other ranks adds up to 42 not 44.
  5. Commonwealth War Graves Commission: Casualties for week ending 17/8/17, 1st Border Regiment, a total of 46 men killed in Belgium.
  6. Men killed 12/08/1917 (1):
    • Pte. 24709 Joseph William Armstrong
  7. Men killed 13/08/1917 (15):
    • 2Lt. George Froude Hamlett (3rd Border)
    • C.S.M. 4778 Darrell Jackson
    • Cpl. 21826 John Wallace ("B" Coy.)
    • L/Cpl. 16545 James Cavanagh (No. 2 Coy.)
    • L/Cpl. 18901 Arthur Heaton
    • L/Cpl. 23962 William Kitchin
    • Pte. 9485 W Barlow
    • Pte. 33686 Stanley F. Clawson
    • Pte. 242146 WW Foster
    • Pte. 28548 G Gregson
    • Pte. 28609 George Pollitt
    • Pte. 33866 M Garlick
    • Pte. 18933 William Wilkinson
    • Pte. 4055 John Scott
    • Pte. 22630 James Scrace
  8. Men killed 14/08/1917 (7):
    • L/Cpl. 23015 JJ Wise
    • Pte. 27007 John Ferguson
    • Pte. 18311 Fred Haydock
    • Pte. 32353 Thomas Jolliffe
    • Pte. 28721 Fred Schofield
    • Pte. 28569 Joseph Philip Wilcox
    • Pte. 202207 William Wilkinson
  9. Men killed 16/08/1917 (22):
    • Lt Col. Frank George Greir Morris DSO
    • Cpl. 20480 R Elliott
    • L/Cpl. 13861 Edward Backhouse
    • Pte. 241205 W Bartle
    • Pte. 33903 George Bennett
    • Pte. 28727 Henry John Reginald Came
    • Pte. 25757 William Clark
    • Pte. 32310 Joseph William Collinson
    • Pte. 25231 Robert Douglas ("D" Coy.)
    • Pte. 16841 Charles Harris ("A" Coy.)
    • Pte. 28592 John William Lee
    • Pte. 202686 Joseph William Megah
    • Pte. 25081 John Arthur Mitchell
    • Pte. 32554 Nicholas Moore
    • Pte. 21015 William Payne
    • Pte. 33774 Benjamin Sayers
    • Pte. 25807 Joseph Lister Sherrard
    • Pte. 15279 John Smith
    • Pte. 25278 Craven Sunderland
    • Pte. 28607 Joseph Walsh
    • Pte. 33807 Herbert White
    • Pte. 27839 William Wilson
  10. Men killed 17/08/1917 (1):
    • L/Sgt. 9030 Albert Edward Moody
  11. Names cross referenced with the National Archive (Medal Card Records):
    • Sgt Shearer and J. Moore (not found)
    • Fred Fildes / Albert Joseph Smith / Thomas H. Graham / William S. Crook
    • Joseph Billington / Richard Graham / Herbert Markland / William T. Ismay
    • Maurice Jarvis / Thomas Morris / J.P. Kelly / G Massey
    • Leonard Burton / Duncan Samuel Watt / George Allen / George Wrigley
    • Possibly 14633 Edward Yarrow
    • Possibly 26286 John Watson – James F. Watson (not found)
    • No.2183 is associated with Percy Jimson
    • No.11833 is associated with James Marsden
    • No.221096 is associated with F.A. Blow
  12. It is assumed that this is William Francis Herbert Chambers as per diary entry 2am on 16/8/17 above.
  13. Commonwealth War Graves Commission: Casualties for week ending 31/8/17, 1st Border Regiment, 12 killed in Belgium:
    Men killed 19/08/1917 (1):
    • C.S.M 6339 H Harrison
    Men killed 21/08/1917 (1):
    • Pte. 202343 William Bardsley
    Men killed 25/08/1917 (1):
    • Pte. 33630 Albert James Huggett
    Men killed 27/08/1917 (7):
    • Pte. 28720 Harry Butler
    • Pte. 260084 William Dixon
    • Pte. 33718 Herbert Arthur Dormer
    • Pte. 28732 James Tomlinson
    • Pte. 25285 Arthur Walton
    • Pte. 260089 Charles Allen Shaw
    • Pte. 28576 Arthur Dennis Crompton
    Men killed 28/08/1917 (1):
    • Pte. 201976 John Morgan
    Men killed 30/08/1917 (1):
    • Pte. 260085 Jones Morris
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