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2nd Battalion War Diary, December 1916

From the Lonsdale Battalion wiki
    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
Reference:- Trench map REDAN 1/5000
to K35.d.5.6.)
Artillery on both sides was active during the day. Owing to the state of the ground there was little movement on the part of the enemy infantry and practically no rifle fire. The support line and Battalion Headquarters were shelled at intervals during the afternoon.

The Battalion was relieved at night by 2nd Bn Gordon Highlanders “A” “C” and “D” Companies and Battalion Headquarters on relief proceeded to billets in Brigade Reserve at MAILLY-MAILLET. “B” Company on relief moved to their old position in the support line. The relief was completed about 1am on 2/2/1916. Casualties 1/12/16:- 2 wounded.

The Battalion remained in billets. During the morning the village was shelled by an enemy high velocity gun but no casualties occurred in the Battalion. B Company was relieved in support trenches by 1 Company of 9th Bn Devons Regt at night and on relief joined the Battalion in billets at MAILLY-MAILLET. Casualties 2/12/16:- 2 wounded.
The village was again shelled by the enemy about midday but no casualties occurred. The Battalion (less B Coy who remained in billets at MAILLY-MAILLET) proceeded to trenches (Front Line K35.a.3.0 to K35.d.5.6) at night relieving 2nd Bn Gordon Highlanders. The relief was completed about 12 midnight & the Battalion was then disposed of as under:-

Front Line:- Right "A" Company, Left: - "D" Company.
Support Line:- "C" Company.
The 8th Bn Devons Regiment were on the right of the Battalion & the Right Battalion of the 3rd Division on the left. Up to 11pm the situation was reported quiet by the Officer Commanding 2nd Bn Gordon Highlanders. After 11pm the front line and support line was intermittently shelled by 4.2 and 5.9 enemy guns. This was apparently in retaliation to a bombardment by our heavy guns. Work in strengthening the wire and improving Bombing Posts was carried out.
Casualties:- Lieut R.W. CHETHAM-STRODE (employed as Bombing Officer 20th Infantry Brigade) wounded.
1 man died of exposure at Advanced Dressing Station.[1]

Enemy artillery was active during the day between points 56, 17 and 95. Enemy snipers were very active firing from the trench running from point 17 to 88. They were kept down by our own snipers who accounted for at least four of the enemy in this neighbourhood during the day. Many of the enemy were seen during the day – groups were seen moving back soon after daybreak to their support line. No new enemy work was observed – a party digging behind trench 17-88 ceased when fired at by our snipers.

Aircraft on both sides was active. One of our aeroplanes was brought down on the right of the Battalion. Work in improving and strengthening of trenches was carried on. Barbed wire was laid on the front of each fire company at night.
Casualties:- NIL.

Our artillery bombarded point 88. The bombardment was accurate &had the effect of silencing enemy snipers. Enemy artillery retaliated particularly on front of Left Fire Company at Brigade Headquarters which were shelled intermittently during the day. A few of the enemy were seen during the day but no new work was observed.

Our snipers were again active. The Battalion was relieved by 1st Bn South Staffordshire Regiment at night and on relief marched to billets at BERTRANCOURT. B Company were relieved in billets at MAILLY-MAILLET by 1 Company of 9th Devonshire Regiment and joined the Battalion in billets.
Casualties:- NIL.

6/12/16 to
The Battalion remained in billets in Divisional Reserve. Working parties for work on repairing roads were furnished daily.
The Battalion marched to BEAUMONT HAMEL in the morning relieving 2nd Bn Royal Warwickshire Regiment in the Defences. The relief was completed by 10AM. Aircraft on both sides was active during the morning. The enemy periodically shelled the defences during the day.
The Battalion remained in BEAUMONT HAMEL Defences in Brigade Support. Enemy Artillery was again active especially at night against the BEAUMONT-AUCHONVILLERS Road.

Casualties:- 1 wounded.

Owing to the exceedingly bad weather the Battalion relieved the 9th Battalion Devonshire Regiment in the front line (Q5.b.9.7 to Q b.c.4.5 approximately) in the early morning, the relief was completed about 6am and the Battalion was then distributed as under:-

Front Line:- RIGHT “A” Company, LEFT “B” Company.
Support LINE:- “D”Company.
Reserve Line:- "C" Company.
The 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders were on the right of the Battalion and 21st Battalion The Manchester Regiment on the left. Artillery on both sides was active during the day. Enemy infantry was very quiet, Several small working parties were seen opposite Right Fire Company. Work in strengthening the posts was carried on at night.
Casualties:- 1 killed.[2]

Our heavy artillery shelled various positions of the enemy line during the day. The enemy retaliated on support and Reserve lines. Enemy infantry were very quiet, no sniping being done. Small enemy working parties were seen occasionally but no new enemy work was observed.

Patrols at night examined the line from Q6.a.6.2. to Q6.a.3.9. and the area between the lines. No enemy patrols were seen. Casualties:- NIL.

The Battalion was relieved by 9th Devonshire Regt in the early morning and moved back to BEAUMONT HAMEL Defence, the relief was competed by 6am.
16/12/16 to
The Battalion remained in BEAUMONT HAMEL Defences in Brigade Support furnishing working & carrying parties daily. During this period the enemy periodically shelled the BEAUMONT-AUCHONVILLERS Road and surrounding areas.

Casualties 17/12/16:- 1 wounded. 19/12/16:- 1 killed,[3] 1 wounded.

The Battn. moved back to billets at MAILLY-MAILLET arriving at about 12 NOON.
20/12/16 to
The Battalion remained in billets at MAILLY-MAILLET. From 29th to 31st December patrols went out nightly to reconnoitre the groundenclosed in the area Q6.d.8.3, Q12.b.8.4, Q6.c.4.0 and Q6.c.5.3 for a special purpose.

These patrols were much hampered by the very bad condition of the ground which was so cut up by shell holes besides which the surface was so soft as to make it impossible to move with any speed. One party consisting of 2nd Lieut J. HAYTON and three NCOs which went out into the night of 30/12/16 encountered two of the enemy. 2nd Lieut HAYTON’s revolver had slipped round his belt and he was unable to draw it. He therefore drew his pipe and pointed it at one of the enemy who put up his hands and was taken prisoner. The other man turned and fled and got away in the dark.

Lieut-Colonel E.I. de S. THORPE rejoined the Battalion on 27th December 1916 and took over command from tempy Lieut-Colonel G. EBEATY-POWNALL.
Drafts as under joined the Battalion during the month:-
3/12/1916:- 4 Other Ranks; 12/12/16:- 4 Other Ranks; 15/12/16:- 3 Other Ranks; 22/12/16:- 7 Other Ranks.
The men of these Drafts had all served with the Battalion previously.
Captain T.L. Wilson, 2nd Lieuts R.L. Beckh [“Beckh” is correct], A.J. Croft and H.J.B. Warren and 96 Other Ranks were evacuated sick during the month.
The large amount of sickness in the Battalion was owing to the bad weather and wet condition of the ground.
The strength of the Battalion on the last day of the months was 26 Officers and 726 Other Ranks.

[signed] E. Thorpe, Lieut-Colonel
Commanding 2nd Battn. The Border Regt.

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. William Wilson (27337 Pte.) Age: 30. Buried at Sucrerie Military Cemetery, Colincamps. Son of Edward and Martha Wilson, of Ashton-under-Lyne.
  2. J.J. Ryan (27089 Pte.) Buried at Serre Road Cemetery No.1.
  3. F. Wykes (10065 L/Cpl.) Age: 24. Buried at Redan Ridge Cemetery No.2, Beaumont-Hamel. Son of Mrs. Eunice Tysoe, of 8 Elstow Rd., Bedford. Born at Spratton, Northampton.
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