2nd Battalion War Diary, March 1915

    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 proceed to trenches from Divisional Reserve Billets.
In trenches. Casualties 1 killed.[1]
The Battalion was relieved in the trenches at night by 16th Battn Canadian Scottish and proceeded to billets at Sailly.
The Battalion proceeded by march route to ROSTRAETE near VIEUX BERGUIB (arrived about 9pm and billeted).
4/3/15 to 7/3/15
The Battalion remained in billets.
The Battalion proceeded by march route to ESTAIRES (arrived at 5pm and billeted).
In billets.
The Battalion proceeded by march route to Estaires Bridge and formed up with the 20th Brigade. At about 8am the Brigade moved off and occupied dugouts in rear of trenches occupied by 21st Infantry Brigade acting as reserve.
The Battalion moved forward in support of Gordon Highlanders. The attack commenced at 7.30am. Gordon Highlanders and Grenadier Guards in front line. Border Regiment and Scots Guards in support. Whilst waiting for the Gordon Highlanders to advance the Battalion was subjected to heavy shellfire both high explosive and shrapnel and had many casualties.

Our objective was line DU PIETRE. On the advance of the Gordon Highlanders being checked the Battalion came up in line with them and with the greater portion of our front line on their left. A and B Companies under Major ASW Moffat with C & D Companies in support. A great many casualties occurred in A and B Companies from enfilade fire and in 2 platoons of B Company when ordered to move round to the left flank. The companies remained more or less in their positions all night but they straightened the line and dug themselves in.

In the early morning of the 12th C and D Companies moved forward and took up positions in trenches dug during the night in advance of A and B Companies whilst the Gordons withdrew into Reserve. The Scots Guards were ordered to take up a position on our right and the attack was to commence at 8.30am, objective being breastwork and trenches about 600 yards to the NE. The advance at 8.30am was cancelled owing to fog until 10.30am. The attack was ordered to take place at 10.30am precisely. At 10.30 "C" Company moved forward and immediately came under heavy Machine Gun and rifle fire with a Company of Scots Guards on their right. The attack continued for about 15 minutes but the casualties in both Regiments were so heavy that Lieut Colonel L.I. Wood ordered the advance to stop until strong artillery fire or covering fire could be brought to bear.

At this critical time, 20 minutes after the attack had been launched, an order arrived to say the attack would be postponed until 12.30pm. As this order did not arrive till 10.50am nothing could be done except wait in the present position for the Artillery Bombardment. At 12 mid day the Artillery commenced their bombardment. At about 12.20 Lieut- Colonel Wood again gave the order to advance, although still enfiladed. The Battalion pushed on and got close up to the enemy’s positions and rushed it just as the guns ceased firing. The Germans came out holding up their hands and waving handkerchiefs. Some 200 prisoners were taken and large quantities of rifles, bayonets, and ammunition.

The Battalion then reorganised as quickly as possible and pushed forward in direction of red house on road - but again came under heavy enfilade fire from the right flank and having no battalion on it’s right had to stop and withdraw into the German trenches which were greatly strengthened at night to provide against a counterattack. The Machine Guns were brought up by hand under 2nd Lt A.V.H. Wood but many were hit - the two guns that did get up doing great execution. Lieut. C.W. Wilson and G.N. Fraser were killed on this day.[2]

The Battalion were under orders to remain in the German trenches and to be in reserve ready to move forward if necessary to support the Grenadiers and Gordon Highlanders who were to make an attack. Owing to some mistake the attack was never launched. The Battalion came under exceptionally heavy shellfire but had few casualties. The night was spent strengthening the position and parapets.

Total casualties 10/3/15 to 14/3/1915
Officers Killed 2, wounded 13. Total 15.
O. Ranks Killed 65. Died of Wounds 21. Wounded 186. Missing 16. Total 288.

The Battalion was again heavily shelled all the morning. At 12 midnight the battalion was relieved by the Worcester Regiment and proceeded to LAVENTIE and billeted.
In billets.
The Battalion proceeded by route march to ESTAIRES (at 5pm, arrived at 7pm and billeted).
In billets.
The Battalion proceeded to trenches at 5pm at RUE TILLELOY relieving The Queens Regiment.
19/3/15 to 23/3/15
In trenches.
In trenches. Capt W. Watson DSO, Lieut O.M. Crackenthorpe, Lieut C.B. Dove,[3] 2nd Lieut D.H. Leckand and 275 O. Ranks joined the Battalion.
The Battalion was relieved in trenches at night and proceeded to billets at LA GORGUE arrived at 9pm and billeted.
26/3/15 to 30/3/15
The Battalion remained in billets.
The Battalion proceeded by march route to LAVENTIE at night arrived about 8pm and billeted.
6 April 1915
L.I. Wood, Lieut-Colonel
Commanding 2nd Bn The Border Regt.
The following is a handwritten note attached to the diary dated 16th March.

2nd Battalion Border Regt. Roll of Officers (Combatant)
Lt Col Wood L.I.
Major Moffat DSO A.S.W.
Lieut Drake-Brockman G.
2 Lieuts:

Kerr W.,
Chetham-Strode [RW?],
Dowding P.,
Wood A.V.H.,
Horsley J. joined 13/3/15[4], Johnson S.F. joined 13/3/15[5]
L.I. Wood, Lieut-Colonel
Commanding 2nd Bn 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. Charles Harold Season (10403 Pte.) Age: 20. Buried at Rue-Petillon Miliatry Cemetery. Son of Mary Season of 7, White St., Roundhay Rd., Leeds; and the late Charles Season.
  2. The following two officers were killed 12th March, 1915:
    • Lieut. Charles Wyndham Wilson. Age: 20. Commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial. Son of William J. and Rachel Wilson of High Park, Kendal, Westmorland.
    • 2nd Lieut. Geoffrey Norris Fraser. Age 22. Commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial. Son of Simon Henry and Amy B. Fraser of 8, Windsor Terrace, Newcastle-on-Tyne.
  3. Capt. Charles Bertam Dove. Died 21/03/1918. Age: 34. 3rd Border Regiment (attd. 8th Border Regiment). Buried at Favreuil British Cemetery. Husband of Amy Caton Dove of "La Casina," Hayling Island, Hampshire.
  4. Capt. John Horsely. Died 16/05/1915. Age:22. Buried at Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy. Son of James Henry and Margaret Horsley of "Chirton," Clifton Rd., Newcastle-on-Tyne.
  5. Capt. S.F. Johnson. Died 10/01/1917. Age:29. Buried at New Munich Trench British Cemetery, Baumont-Hamel. Son of George Frederick and Blanche Evelyn Johnson of Streatham, London; husband of Helen Marguerite Robertson, of Montreal, Canada. Severely wounded at Festubert, 1915.
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