2nd Battalion War Diary, July 1916
| 2nd Border Regiment War Diary Transcriptions (1915-1918)|
The National Archives WO/95/1655 & WO/95/1656
|Place||Date||Hour||Summary of Events|
|On the night of the 30th June/1st July 1916, the Battalion moved up from MORLANCOURT and took up position in B2 Sub-sector of the trenches. The move was completed at about 1:30am on 1st July 1916. The Battalion was formed up as follows:-|
RIGHT ‘A’ Company under Lieut. G.M.F. PRYNNE Occupying RESERVE TRENCH from 70 Street to 71 Street.
1st LINE LEFT ‘C’ Company under Capt. L.A. Newton Occupying RESERVE TRENCH from 71 Street to 72 Street in ALBERT STREET.
2nd LINE LEFT ‘D’ Company under Leiut. P.N. Fraser having 2 Platoons in ALBERT STREET from junction of WEBB STREET to the left 2 Platoons in WELLINGTON REDOUBT.
WELLINGTON REDOUBT: Battalion HQ, HQ Bombers, Signallers, 2 Lewis Guns in reserve, Battalion Aid Post.
Whilst the Artillery Bombardment of the hostile line continued, the Battalion was subjected to a heavy bombardment in retaliation from the enemy, but as this was mostly directed at our front and support lines. Little damage was done. At 7:27am the Battalion advanced in 4 lines from our trenches in the following order.
1st LINE Right:- 2 Platoons ‘A’ Coy. Left:- 2 Platoons ‘C’ Coy.
Just as our front line had cleared, our front, the head of the subway from 71 Street towards DANUBE TRENCH was blown out. Zero Hour. The Battalion now moved forward until it reached its first objective, DANUBE SUPPORT TRENCH, when the left wheel was commenced.
Up until now the casualties were small in the first and second lines and were caused by a machine gun firing from our right in the direction of SAP ‘A’ in hostile trench and also from one on our left in DANUBE SUPPORT. The wheel was now gradually completed, and the advance continued towards our objective APPLE ALLEY which was reached by our 1st Line at about 8:30am.
During this advance our line was broken up into a line of groups, bombing and bayonetting the enemy, who, when they found that their line had been entered formed a new front in shell holes and communication trenches facing us, thus checking our advance.
On reaching SHRINE ALLEY the Battalion was temporarily checked through coming under heavy, indirect machine gun fire from FRICORT and enfilade fire from MAMETZ, but on the 1st and 2nd Lines being reinforced by the 3rd Line, the advance was continued to HIDDEN LANE. Here the line was again temporarily held up by fire from a machine gun and hostile party in HIDDEN WOOD and another party at about the junction of KIEL SUPPORT and BOIS FRANCAIS SUPPORT. The latter were bombed out without very much difficulty by our party, working along KIEL SUPPORT, but the former had to be attacked across the open as well as down HIDDEN LANE. This was done by a party organised and led by 2nd Lieut. S.J.C. RUSSELL. The advance was now continued to APPLE VALLEY by parties being pushed forward by the 1st and 2nd Lines whilst the 3rd Line consolidated HIDDEN LANE.
At this time the right of the 4th Line, moved up to HIDDEN WOOD so as to strengthen that flank as it was found that the DEVON REGIMENT had not kept up with the advance of the battalion and this flank was very exposed. The left of the 4th Line was still in Reserve in KIEL TRENCH, close up to the junction of HIDDEN LANE.
The Battalion was now checked in HIDDEN LANE with posts forward in APPLE ALLEY at junction of it and PEAR TRENCH. Ditto BOIS FRANCAIS SUPPORT and also BOIS FRANCAIS TRENCH.
At 2:30pm the 20th MANCHESTER REGT advanced across our front and bombing parties of the BORDER REGT worked along APPLE ALLEY without opposition.
At about 5pm APPLE VALLEY was occupied by ‘A’ and ‘C’ Coys of the BORDER REGT with a party of 8th DEVON REGT on the right. ’B’ and ‘C’ Coys BORDER REGT held HIDDEN LANE as a support line. Head Quarters were established in an old Company dugout in SUPPORT TRENCH at its junction with 75 STREET.
This position was maintained until 8am on 3rd JULY, when Battalion changed its position to BOIS FRANCAIS SUPPORT which was held by ‘B’ and ‘D’ Coys with ‘A’ and ‘C’ Coys in BOIS FRANCAIS TRENCH, Battalion Head Quarters remaining in the same position. Here the Battalion remained until the evening of 3rd JULY when it moved down to POST 71 SOUTH in Reserve.
The casualties in the attack were not as heavy as they might been owing, firstly, to the splendid way the wire had been cut by ‘T’ Battery RHA and secondly, to the fact that the advance was very close behind the artillery barrage the whole time.
During the latter half of the attack the Battalion was subjected to a heavy sprinkling of hostile shrapnel, which in addition to rifle and machine gun fire and bombs, caused the casualties mentioned.
The whole battalion behaved with their usual steadiness and coolness under fire and all orders were strictly carried out.
No mistake was made in the advance and the wheel was carried out without any gaps being left in the line, which is entirely due to the care taken by all Officers in instructing their NCO’s and men in all fronts regarding the operation and the interest taken by all ranks in it.
The Battalion captured:-
The casualties were:-
|The Battalion was relieved on the night of the 3rd July and proceeded to dugouts and shelters at the CITADEL.|
|The Battalion remained at the CITADEL.|
|The Battalion marched to billets at RIBEMONT.|
|The Battalion marched to bivouacs near MINDEN POST.|
|At 10pm on 13th July the battalion moved and was in its position of deployment in CATERPILLAR WOOD by 1-15am on 14th July 1916. During the latter part of the march up WILLOW VALLEY and when in position, the Battalion was subjected to a bombardment by Hostile field guns and 10.5cm Howitzers firing high explosive and shrapnel.|
The object of the 20th Infantry Brigade was BAZENTIN-LE-GRAND WOOD with a small portion of the German 2nd Line to East and West of it. The battalion had the left of the 1st Line with the 8th DEVON RGT on the right. The dividing line between these 2 battalions was a portion of the German trench, which jutted out and was known by the name SNOUT.
The 2nd BORDER REGT was to open 4 lines, the fourth one being the Reserve in CATERPILLAR WOOD. At 2.20pm the advance was ordered so as to move in conjunction with the 8th DEVON REGT. The Battalion moved as follows:-
1st + 2nd LINE: - LEFT ‘D’ Coy under Capt. A. WRIGHT, 2 Platoons in each line.
Lines advanced of 150 yards distance. Owing to the night, though moonlight, being cloudy the 1st line was able to move straight on to the Southern edge of FLATIRON COPSE covered by scouts and others in their positions in rear of this line. This stage was reached by about 2.35am. From this position the Battalion crawled forward some 30 yards from the hostile trenches and awaited the lift of the artillery bombardment.
At 3.25am the Battn again advanced and the first hostile line was captured. Here another halt had to be made until the artillery barrage lifted off the WOOD.
At 4.25am the Battn again advanced and pushed through the wood to its final objective, which was reached at 4.40am. The order had been given that the North side of the wood should be consolidated, but, it was found that if this were done there would be very considerable delay in obtaining cover, owing to the ground being thickly strewn by the branches of trees, so advantage was taken of a good bank which now ran parallel with the edge of the wood and some 30-50 yards from it, and the position was consolidated. It was now found that owing to casualties and other causes, the 2 companies were insufficient to hold the line. So the 3rd Line, ‘A’ Company, was absorbed into the general line.
Just previous to the actual assault, at about 3.15am, 2 platoons of the Reserve Company had been advanced as far as FLATIRON COPSE, so as to be close in case reinforcements were necessary. The remaining 2 Platoons of ‘C’ (Reserve) Company remained in their place in CATERPILLAR WOOD, as also did Battn. Head Quarters.
In this attack, the casualties were few, amounting to:-
All the ranks behaved with their usual coolness and the advance was very steadily carried out. During the night the Battalion remained in the captured position.
On the afternoon of the 15th July, the Battalion was withdrawn and proceeded to POMMIERS REDOUBT in Reserve, where it remained until 19th July.
On the night of 19th July, the battalion moved from POMMIERS REDOUBT, an old German line, to CATERPILLAR WOOD at 10pm, being in position at 12.30am 20th July. The Battalion was in Brigade Reserve all day, and never came into action.
With the exception of a certain amount of hostile shelling which caused few casualties owing to the Battn. being well entrenched, there is nothing to report.
|The Battalion moved back at night and rested in a field near DERNANCOURT.|
|The Battalion entrained at MERICOURT Station at about 2pm and detrained at HANGEST and marched to billets at BREILLY.|
The undermentioned Officers became casualties during the month.
The following reinforcements joined the Battalion during the month.
7/7/16 7 Other Ranks
[Signed] E. Thorpe Lieut. Colonel
Commanding 2nd Battalion The Border Regiment
References / notes
- National Archives Catalogue Reference: WO/95/1656
- The transcription above is available under the National Archives Open Government Licence for public sector information.