2nd Battalion War Diary, February 1917

    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
The Battalion continued its training. During the morning Company Drill, platoon and section training and instruction in Bombing, Rifle Grenade, Lewis Gun, Musketry, Bayonet Fighting was carried out. The afternoon was devoted to Sport.
The Battalion continued its training.
The Battalion continued its training.
The Battalion continued its training.
The Battalion continued its training.
The Battalion continued its training.
The Battalion continued its training. Notification was received that the Commander in Chief awards the following decorations.

    MILITARY CROSS:- 2nd Lieut. T. GRONOW.
    DISTINGUISHED CONDUCT MEDAL:- No. 9565 Sergeant C. GARWOOD for gallantry in the field on 20/1/1917.

The Battalion continued its training. The Army Commander was present at a practice attack at a strong point which was carried out by Bombing and Lewis Gun Sections of the Brigade. During the attack the undermentioned Officer and NCO were accidentally wounded by the premature bursting of a rifle grenade:- 2nd Lieut. W.B. START, No. 6095 L/Cpl. J.CLARK.
The Battalion took part in a Brigade Exercise.
The Battalion continued its training.
The Battalion continued its training.
The Battalion continued its training.
The Battalion continued its training.
The Battalion continued its training.
The Battalion continued its training.
The Battalion marched to billets at BEAUVAL starting at 10am and arriving at 2pm.
The Battalion attended a Review parade for the inspection of the Division by GENERAL NIVELLE Commander in Chief French Army in the morning.
The Battalion marched to billets at BUS starting at 9am and arriving at about 2pm.
The Battalion marched to billets at BERTRANCOURT starting at 11am and arriving at about 2pm.
Working parties for repairing roads were furnished by the Battalion.
The Battalion came under Command of GOC 91st Infantry Brigade. Working parties were furnished by the Battalion during the day.
The Battalion marched to billets in Brigade Reserve at MAILLY-MAILLET starting at 11.15am & arriving about 12 noon.
The Battalion remained in billets in Brigade Reserve.

Orders were received that the 91st Infantry Brigade was moving into the line and that the Battalion would remain in Brigade Reserve at MAILLY-MAILLET. At 11.15pm orders were received from 91st Infantry Brigade as follows:-
    "1. There is reason to believe that the enemy has retired from his line of post in the rear of TEN TREE ALLEY and possibly evacuated the village of SERRE."
    "2. At 5am on 25th February 1917 OC 21st Manchester Regt. will send forward strong patrols, supported by 2 Companies (remainder in Reserve) with the following objectives":-
        "(2) Line from K.30.b.2.5 - POM POM ALLEY"
        "(3) Line K.30.b.6.8 – L.25.a.0.7 – L.25.a.7.5."
    "3. At the same hour OC 1st South Staff Regt. will carry out a similar advance on a 2 company front from the line of TEN TREE ALLEY with objectives as under:-
        "1. A Line from Northern Corner of PENDANT COPSE - along track running NW through L.25.c.0.3 to junction MAXIM TRENCH - WAGON ROAD."
        "2. PENDANT TRENCH."
        "3. PENDANT ALLEY EAST."
        "4. WING TRENCH – i.e. a line from L.25.b.5.2. - L.25.a.7.5.
        X        X        X        X        X        X        
        [there is no "5"]
    "6(a) OC 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers will hold himself in readiness to move his Battalion at short notice up to WAGON ROAD in support of 1st South Staffs REGT.
    "6(b) OC 2nd Border Regt. will similarly be prepared to move by the SERRE ROAD in support of 21 Manchester Regt. Orders were at once issued for the Battalion to pack up and stack all kit and to stand to from 4.30am 25th inst.

At 5.45am 2nd Lieut. B.L. Cumpston was sent to Headquarters 21st Manchester Regt. at MOUSE POST (L.35.a.8.8)

During the day the orders for the attack were changed four times. – Finally at 3.45pm the Battalion left billets at MAILLY-MAILLET and moved up to dugouts in the neighbourhood of K.35.c.31 in support of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in WING TRENCH.
Orders were received and preparations were made for an advance on PUISIEUX with the object of establishing a line through SOAP ALLEY and pushing strong patrols forward to take up a line ofpost on the Northern and Eastern edge of PUISIEUX.

[margin note] 2nd Border R. transferred from 91st Inf. Bde. to 22nd Inf. Bde.

At 1.15 am verbal orders were received that the attack was cancelled. Two strong points were now to be pushed forward – one by the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on the right – one by 2nd Border on the left.

Objective:- Junction of SOAP ALLEY and BATH LANE – junction of SOAP ALLEY and SUNSET TRENCH to the BEAUCOURT-PUISIEUX Road.
Dividing line between Royal Welsh Fusiliers and 2nd Border Regiment:- SERRE PUISIEUX Road inclusive to 2nd Border Regiment.

"D" Company was detailed for this duty. The patrols advanced to WING TRENCH where they came up in line on the left of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at 6am. The patrols advanced and reached KAISER LANE. Here it was found that the ridge on the left front was lined with machine guns. OC "D" Company (Capt. T.T. Beaty-Pownall) decided that to advance without artillery support would mean sustaining heavy losses. He therefore gave the order to withdraw after being in action for an hour and a half. "D" Company then withdrew to WING TRENCH.

At 12 noon information was received that the 62nd Division on the right had occupied GUDGEON TRENCH. The Royal Welsh Fusiliers were ordered to send up one company to occupy SUNSET TRENCH South of the SERRE Road and gain touch with the troops on the right. The Brigade on the Right were reported to be advancing on ORCHARD ALLEY. The Brigade on the left were reported to be advancing on BOX WOOD.

At 1pm orders were sent out by Brigade that the Royal Welsh Fusiliers were to advance and occupy SUNSET TRENCH as far North as the SERRE Road, then extend Northwards and occupy SOAP ALLEY. Touch was to be gained with the 19th Division on Left in FORK TERRACE and 12th Division on Right at L.15.c.3.3. 2nd Border Regt. were ordered to move to WING TRENCH and support on application. The 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers moved forward at 3.45pm.

At 5.50pm a message was received from 91st Infy Brigade that the Battalion was not to be involved without reference to Brigade Hd. Qrs. Later arrangements were made however that 1 company was to be at the disposal of OC 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers. C Company was detailed for this duty.

At 6.25pm information was received that the troops on our right in WING TRENCH had been withdrawn. The next nearest troops were at L.26.c. central. It was reported that the troops in GUDGEON TRENCH had their left flank at L.21.c.0.7. The occupation by them of ORCHARD ALLEY was not confirmed.

At 7.56pm the Left Company Royal Welsh Fusiliers were reported in KAISER LANE and orders were received that OC 2nd Border Regt. was to keep in touch with the situation and exploit any success gained by The Royal Welsh Fusiliers on his own initiative with the object of establishing a strong picquet in KAISER LANE astride the SERRE ROAD. "C" Company were ordered up to do this. In the meanwhile however the Royal Welsh Fusiliers had achieved its objective & was in occupation of KAISER and SOAP trenches. O.C. Royal Welsh Fusiliers sent "C" Company back and consequently no further action was taken by OC 2nd Border Regt. Patrols of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers were pushed on towards PUISIEUX.

10.50pm - The following dispositions were made for the night:-
        (1) 1 Picquet of 1 Platoon on the SERRE ROAD immediately above BM 1276.
        No.5 platoon "B" Coy under 2nd Lieut. G.S. RUTHERFORD was detailed for this duty.
        1 Picquet of 1 Platoon near the BRICKFIELDS in 26.a.
        No.6 Platoon "B" Coy under 2nd Lieut. J.J. DEDMAN was detailed for this duty.
        These Platoons were employed as point d’appui and consolidated their posts.
        (2) 2 Companies occupied & consolidated
                (a) RHINE TRENCH ("A" Company)
                (b) WING TRENCH ("D" Company)
        These were employed in the same manner as the platoons in (1).
        (3) This left a striking force of 6 Platoons - "C" Company had already been placed at the disposal of OC Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

Captain C.E. Graham was sent forward to Headquarters 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers to superintend these dispositions and to act as liaison to OC 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

At 11.50pm orders were received that at 6am 27/11/1917 2nd Bn Border Regt would push strong patrols through PUISIEUX and establish posts at Northern and Eastern road exits and gain touch with neighbouring troops. The duty of organising these patrols was entrusted to Captain C.E. Graham. The following were the orders to patrols by him:-

No.1 Patrol will endeavour to obtain touch with troops on the left and move up ROSSIGNOL TRENCH. If this patrol gets in touch they will retire to Company Hd Qrs. If they fail to get in touch they will form a block just outside the village.
No.2 Patrol will form a post in KNIFE TRENCH just outside the village (L.14.c.3.1.) They will watch FORK and KNIFE Trenches.
No.3 Patrol will block the PUISIEUX-BUCQUOY Road at L.14.a.8.6.
No.4 Patrol will block the crossroads at L.14.d.3.9.
No.5 Patrol will block the road leading Eastward at L.15.c 5.5.
No.6 Patrol will endeavour to gain touch with the troops on the Right and with this object will move up GUDGEON TRENCH. If unable to obtain touch they will leave a post (about 10 men) in GUDGEON TRENCH on the right flank of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The remainder of the patrol will block the road leading Eastwards at L.21.a.8.7. If fired upon and unable to move forward they will extend the line Eastwards in GUDGEON TRENCH pushing smaller patrols further Eastwards. If touch is obtained the patrol will fill up the gap between the Right of the 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers and the left of the troops on our right, the remainder of the patrol to block the road as already indicated.

Reports to be sent to Captain C.E. Graham at 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers Headquarters. The following were detailed for the above.         No.1 Patrol No.8 Platoon "B" Company under 2nd Lieut. E.R.L. BISHOP.
        No.2 Patrol No.13 Platoon "D" Company under 2nd Lieut. T. GRONOW.
        No.3 Patrol No.12 Platoon "C" Company under 2nd Lieut. D.D. LOW.
        No.4 Patrol No.2 Platoon "A" Company under 2nd Lieut. R. ABRAM.
        No.5 Patrol No.3 Platoon "A" Company under 2nd Lieut. R.J. CUNNINGHAM.
        No.6 Patrol No.4 Platoon "A" Company under 2nd Lieut. J. MOORE.

By 10-12am it was reported that the four patrols sent through the village had concentrated in CITY and VILLAGE trenches. 2nd Lieut. T. GRONOW took charge of the patrols and took up a defensive position as follows:

From the junction of KNIFE and VILLAGE trenches along VILLAGE TRENCH to CITY TRENCH. Along CITY TRENCH to a point L.14.d.2.6 and turned Southwards to a point L.20.b.2.5. The NW corner of the village was then cleared of the enemy who made little resistance. Lewis Gun and rifle fire was brought to bear on the S.W corner which was still in the hands of a few snipers and a machine gun mostly concentrated in the church.

No.4 patrol under Lieut. R. ABRAM was the first to reach the village at L.20.c.6.9. They advanced up the road running Northward and were almost immediately held up by machine gun fire at the corner L.20.a.60.05. Shortly afterwards this patrol was joined by No.2 who entered the village at the double under machine gun and rifle fire along the road running Eastward from point L.19.d.55.65.

No.2 patrol under 2nd Lieut. T. GRONOW advanced up the road running N.E of L.20.a.80.05. They then turned Northward into VIILLAGE TRENCH and opened Lewis Gun fire on the enemy who were located at L.20.a.60.15. This advance was covered by a few men of No 4 Patrol led by No. 10624 Sergt. H. HURNDALL who stood up on a ledge of an old ruin and bombed the machine gun. (This NCO was subsequently killed).

The enemy now retired and enabled the Lewis Guns of No.4 Patrol to inflict some casualties on them as they retired up the main road running Northward through the village.
Nos.2 and 4 Patrols now joined hands & commenced to work their way to the Northern edge of the village. They advanced up VILLAGE TRENCH to the road running roughly East & West through point L.20.a55.60. The enemy now opened fire from the square at L.20.a.45.80 & the houses on the Eastern side of the BUCQUOY ROAD.

No.4 Patrol now remained at L.20.a.55.60 & covered the advance of No.2 patrol along the road from L.20.a.99. to L.14.c.70.35. Hence No.2 patrol brought Lewis Gun Fire to bear on the enemy whoretired into the NE corner of the village whereupon No.4 patrol advanced up VILLAGE TRENCH to its junction with CITY TRENCH. Here consolidation was commenced while 2 Lieut. T. GRONOW took forwards a Lewis Gun team & a small patrol and drove the enemy out of the NE corner of the village. The enemy retired up FORK TRENCH & a block was made in KNIFE TRENCH.

Nos.3 & 5 Patrols which had become somewhat disorganised when the Patrol leaders were wounded were now reorganised by 2nd Lieut. T. GRONOW as one patrol and sent forward to join No.4 patrol in CITY TRENCH. This patrol was now under the leadership of No. 8665 Sergt. R. IVES.
No.1 patrol which had been sent up on the left to gain touch with the troops on our left flank were unable to find anybody although they went 300 yards up ROSSIGNOL TRENCH.
No.6 Patrol on the Right went some 400 yards East along GUDGEON TRENCH but were unable to find the main bod. They came across however a few isolated groups of the 62nd Division who had lost connection with the main body.

At 10.17am a message was received that touch was to be gained by the 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers while the 2nd Border Regt. continued reconnaissance of the village. Thereupon No.6 Patrol was ordered to advance on the Eastern portion of the village & clear the church and orchards of snipers who were causing inconvenience to our troops in GUDGEON TRENCH. They attempted to advance along MIRAUMONT-PUISIEUX Road but were unable to do so owing to machine gun and rifle fire which was opened on them from the church and surrounding neighbourhood. They therefore came back along GUDGEON TRENCH, turned up VILLAGE TRENCH and advanced along ORCHARD ALLEY.

No.1 Patrol was ordered to advance up SUNSET TRENCH to NE Corner of PUISIEUX. Meanwhile 22nd Brigade had received information that the church was strongly held by a large force with machine guns.

Orders were received that no attempt was to be made to dislodge the enemy as heavy guns were going to be turned on to the church. 2nd Lieut. J. MOORE OC No.6 Patrol was therefore ordered not to advance on the church. The Patrols in CITY TRENCH were ordered to extend their line Eastwards towards BM.103.8 on the PUISIEUX - ACHIET le PETIT Road.
At 5pm one company was ordered up to occupy VILLAGE TRENCH. A Composite Company was detailed for this duty under the command of Capt. T.T. BEATY-POWNALL. On the night of 27th/28th February the Companies in reserve were relieved by 2 companies of 2/1st H.A.C. (Infantry) – The Companies in the front line by 2nd Royal Warwicks Regt.

Relief was complete at 5.45am 28th February and the Battalion marched to billets at MAILLY-MAILLET.

Total Casualties sustained by the Battalion were:-


The following officers joined the Battalion during the month:
6/2/17:- 2nd Lieuts G.S.RUTHERFORD, J.B.R. EDWARDS, D.B. DEMPSTER, R. ADAMSON – 3rd K.O.S.B.
10/2/17:- Lieut. R. MAXWELL, 2nd Lieuts. E.R.L. BISHOP, E.J.H. METTHAM - 3rd K.O.S.B.
10/2/17:- 2nd Lieut. R.J. CUNNINGHAM.
18/2/17:- 2nd Lieut. D.T. HOLMES - 2nd K.O.S.B., 2nd Lieut. J.B. DUNLOP – 13th H.L.I. - 21/2/17
21/2/17:- 2nd Lieut. D.D. LOW.
28/2/17:- 2nd Lieut. C.B. BARR.

Drafts as under joined the Battalion during the month:-
4/2/17:- 12 Other Ranks.
10/2/17:- 10 Other Ranks
21/2/17:- 6 Other Ranks
26/2/17:- 9 Other Ranks. The men of these drafts had previously served with the Battalion.
51 Other Ranks were evacuated sick during the month The Strength of the Battalion on the last day of the month was: - 35 Officers 820 Other Ranks.

[signed] G.E. Beaty-Pownall, Major[1]
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. George Ernest Beaty-Pownall, DSO (Lt-Col.) Died 10/10/1918 Age: 41. 2nd Border Regiment (attd. 1st Bn. King's Own Scottish Borderers). Buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery. His brother Thomas also died with 2nd Border Regiment.
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