2nd Battalion War Diary, December 1914

    2nd Border Regiment War Diary Transcriptions (1915-1918)
The National Archives WO/95/1655 & WO/95/1656    
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Place Date Hour Summary of Events
Strength of Battalion 13 Offrs., 973 Other Ranks
A draft of 570 NCO’s & men Lieut. G.P.L. Drake-Brockman, 2nd Lieut C.R. Cooch[1] and Captain R.F. Hanbury & Lieut G.P. Nunneley (attached from 4/Bedfords Regt.) joined from England.
2/12/14 to 4/12/14
In trenches. The draft remained in billets at SAILLY. The Battalion was relieved on night of 4th November[2] and proceeded to billets. At SAILLY. Casualties – slight.
4/12/14 to 6/12/14
In billets. The draft was allotted to Companies under instructions received from 20th Brigade. 2 Companies (A & C) Borders and 2 Companies Gordon Highlanders proceeded to trenches on night of 6th December. B & D Companies remaining in billets at SAILLY.
B & D Companies proceeded to trenches at night relieving A & C Companies who returned to billets at SAILLY.
A draft of 20 NCOs & men and Lieut. Hatch-Barnwell joined from England.
A & C Companies proceeded to trenches at night relieving B & D Companies who returned to billets at SAILLY.
At about 11am Major Warren received orders from 20th Brigade for 2 companies 2nd Border Regt. to attack enemy's trenches at 6.30 pm/ 2 companies of Scots Guards attacking their front at 6pm. In the trenches at about 2.30 pm Captain C. Lamb DSO, was informed by Lieut. Sampson B Company that B & D Companies would attack at 6.30pm. At about 3pm Major G.E. Warren arrived at the trenches with Captain H.A. Askew and B and D companies. Major Warren gave orders that A & C Companies were to make attack not B & D Companies. The left was to be the road running SE of LA CORDONNIERE FARM, and the right to be the Scots Guards whose left was the SAILLY-FRAMELLES ROAD. This necessitated the moving of the whole of C Company to the right - A Company also moving their position. B and D companies were to get behind each man of A & C Companies and help them out of the trenches. The companies were not in position until well after dark and consequently no one knew exactly their correct front or point of attack. At 6.15pm the companies advanced – strength about 300 men. Both A & C Companies reached the enemy's trenches reached the enemy's trenches being fired on the whole time crossing the intervening distance between trenches – about 150 yards. Many casualties occurred in this advance, some of our men being hit by our own Artillery, which opened fire at the same time. Owing to our Artillery fire the Companies withdrew about 50 yards, lay down and waited for orders. The order came after about 1 hour to advance again. The Companies did so but the attack failed and they retired to our own trenches and lay down in front of them. Major Warren then collected the remnants of A & C Companies and brought up 2 platoons of B Company under Captain N.F. Jenkins. Again they advanced to the enemy's trenches but halted in a ditch near the enemy's barbed wire – more cutters being required. Major Warren went back and obtained 3. On his return he said he would go and see the General who was at LA CORDONNIERE FARM. He did so and was way 1½ hours. When he returned he found that Captain Jenkins had brought the Companies back to our trenches as the General had ordered no further attack unless it could be done without heavy loss – further operations ceased and collecting of dead and wounded was carried on.

Casualties. Capt C. Lamb DSO and 2nd Lt. N. Castle were wounded in first advance – Captain H.A. Askew[3] being killed on top of enemy's trenches (Captain Lamb[4] died of his wounds 11 days later) Lieut. M.S.N. Kennedy was wounded in second advance. Total casualties Other Ranks:- 40 123.

Lce. Cpl. Brewer[5] and Pte. Clarke[6] received the DCM for bringing back Captain Lamb under heavy fire.[7] No. 10694 Pte. A. Acton and No. 6423 Pte. A Smith were both awarded the VC for bringing in wounded men lying between the trenches by daylight on 19th December 1914 under heavy rifle and machine gun fire.[8]

B & D Companies remained in trenches and A & C Companies proceeded to billets in SAILLY.
A & C Companies proceeded to trenches at night relieving B & D Companies who returned to billets at SAILLY. Major G.E.Warren proceeded sick to England.
Captain S.H. Worrall joined the Battalion.
2nd Lieut. A.V.H. Wood and 130 Other Ranks joined the Battalion. Captain S.H. Worrall took over command of the Battalion from Captain N.F.Jenkins who proceeded to England. In the morning the enemy in front of A and B Companies trench signalled for an officer. One went over to their trench and an armistice was signed for the purpose ofburying the dead lying between the trenches from he night of the 18th Decr. There was no firing on either side on this day and the bodies were buried near the trenches.
B & D Companies proceeded to the trenches relieving A & B Companies who returned to Billets at SAILLY. The armistice was still recognised and there was no firing – the troops walking along the top as communicating trenches were so bad.
Lieut. C.W. Wilson[9] and 2nd Lieut. H.R. Wright joined the Battalion.
A & C Companies proceeded to the trenches relieving B & D Companies who returned to billets. Casualties:- NIL

References / notes

  • National Archives Catalogue Reference: WO/95/1655
  • The transcription above is available under the National Archives Open Government Licence for public sector information.
  • War diary transcribed by P. Bramham.
  1. Lieut. Charles Rollo Cooch, "B" Company, died 17/12/1914 aged 20. Buried at Rue-Petillon Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix. Son of Maj. C. E. H. Cooch (Border Regt.) and Mrs. Cooch of Cheltenham.
  2. The writer of this entry in the war diary must have meant December, not November.
  3. Capt. Henry Adam Askew, Mentioned in Despatched, died 19/12/1914 aged 33. Commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial. Son of Mrs. E. A. Askew and the late Canon Askew; husband of Winifred Askew. Served in the South African campaign.
  4. Capt. Cameron Lamb, DSO. Died 29/12/1914 age 35. Buried at Wimereux Communal Cemetery. Son of the late Sir John Cameron Lamb, C.B., C.M.G. and Lady Lamb.
  5. R. Brewer, DCM, (6615 Cpl.) died 27/05/1915. Buried at Lillers Communal Cemetery.
  6. David Clark, DCM, (2873 Pte.) died 11/03/1915 age 30. Commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial. Husband of M. McQueen (formerly Clark) of 2, Murray St., Edinburgh.
  7. DCM citation for Pte. Clark's actions: "For gallant conduct on the 18th December 1914, at Rouges Bancs, in advancing with great gallantry to within ten yards of the enemy’s trenches and assisting another man to rescue a wounded officer".
  8. VC citation – "For conspicuous bravery on 21 December at ROUGES BANCS in voluntarily going from their trench and rescuing a wounded man who had been lying exposed against the enemy's trench for 75 hours, and on the same day again leaving their trench voluntarily under heavy fire, to bring into cover another wounded man. They were under fire for 60 minutes whilst conveying wounded men to safety". Note the diary states 19th and citation reads 21st. The diary also appears to give Acton’s initial as "G" not "A", but poor writing.
  9. Lieut. Charles Wyndham Wilson died 12/03/1915 aged 20. Commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial. Son of William J. and Rachel Wilson of High Park, Kendal, Westmorland.
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