2nd Battalion War Diary, March 1917

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    2nd Border Regiment War Diary Transcriptions (1915-1918)
The National Archives WO/95/1655 & WO/95/1656    
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Place Date Hour Summary of Events
MAILLY-MAILLET
1/3/17
The Battalion remained in billets.
2/3/17
The Battalion remained in billets.
3/3/17
The Battalion remained in billets.
4/3/17
The Battalion remained in billets.
5/3/17
The Battalion marched from billets at MAILLY-MAILLET to billets at BERTRANCOURT commencing at 6pm and arriving at about 7.30pm.
BERTRANCOURT
6/3/17
Working parties were furnished by the Battalion to work on roads.
7/3/17
Working parties were furnished by the Battalion to work on roads.
8/3/17
Working parties were furnished by the Battalion to work on roads.
9/3/17
Working parties were furnished by the Battalion to work on roads.
10/3/17
Working parties were furnished by the Battalion to work on roads.
11/3/17
Working parties were furnished by the Battalion to work on roads.
12/3/17
Working parties were furnished by the Battalion to work on roads.
13/3/17
The Battalion marched from billets at BERTRANCOURT to BOLTON CAMP (Near MAILLY MAILLET) starting at 4pm and arriving at 5.30pm.
14/3/17
The Battalion marched back to billets at BERTRANCOURT starting at 1.30pm and arriving about 3pm.
15/3/17
The Battalion marched from billets at BERTRANCOURT to billets in MAILLY-MAILLET starting at 2.30pm and arriving about 4pm.
16/3/17
Working parties were furnished by the Battalion for work on roads.
17/3/17
Working parties were furnished by the Battalion for work on roads. Notification was received that the Commander in Chief awards the bar to the Military Cross to 2nd LIEUT. T. GRONOW.
18/3/17
The Battalion remained in billets.
19/3/17
The Battalion marched to PUISIEUX starting at 10am & arriving about 12 noon.
20/3/17
The Battalion remained at PUISIEUX.
21/3/17
The Battalion marched to COURCELLES starting at 7am. At 3pm the Battalion moved into the line in front of ST. LEGER relieving 8th Bn. Devons Regiment. "A" Company was on the right. "B" Company in the centre, and "C" Company on the left.

The Right of the line was in ST. LEGER wood and the left was T.27.a.2.7. The 9th Bn Devons were on the Right of the Battalion and a Battalion of the London Regiment was on the left. From an aeroplane report it wasthought that CROISILLES was unoccupied by the enemy and two Officer Patrols were therefore sent out on the night of 21st/22nd to verify this.

One patrol under 2nd Lieut. J.J. DEDMAN advanced on CROISILLES from the SE. This was held up by machine gun fire 500 yards from the village. The other under 2nd Lieut. W.G. GRAHAME entered the village from the SW and found the houses smouldering & the village strongly held.

22/3/17
On 22nd a Lewis Gun of "B" Company was knocked out by shellfire. During the day the situation remained unchanged. On the night of 22nd/23rd posts were pushed forward and CROISILLES was again reconnoitred.

As it was not certain whether the troops to the left were going to advance to the ST. LEGER-BOIRY Road it was decided to send up "D" Company from support to establish the posts on the West of CROISILLES so that in the event of the troops on the left not moving forward "C" Company would have automatically come into support.

The posts were successfully pushed forward as required and on 23rd the line was held as follows:
RIGHT:- "A" Company. Strong Posts at:-
    (1) T.29.c.6.6.    (2) T.29.c.5.9.    (3) T.29.a.5.0.
RIGHT CENTRE:- "B" Company. Strong Posts at:-
    (1) T.29.a.1.3.    (2) T.29.a.2.9.    (3) T.28.d.6.9.    (4) T.28.b.7.2.    (5) T.28.b.4.5.    (6)T.28.b.1.6.    (7) T.28.a.8.9.
LEFT CENTRE:- "D" Company. Strong Posts at:-
    (1) T.22.b.8.1.    (2) T.22.b.3.1.    (3) T.22.b.3.8.    (4) T.22.a.2.7.    (5) T.22.a.3.0.
    The road between Nos. 4 & 5 posts was consolidated and manned.
LEFT:- "C" Company. Strong Posts at:-
    (1) T.22.c.5.3.    (2) T.21.d.7.8.    (3) T.21.d.3.8.    (4) T.21.d.1.5.    (5) T.28.a.5.9.    (6) T.28.a.6.7.
A patrol was sent up the ST. LEGER-BOIRY Road to a point 1000 yards beyond the crossroads in T21.a. but could not get into touch with the Battalion on the left.

23/3/17
On the morning of the 23rd it was reported that the Division on the left had occupied the crossroads in T21.a. A daylight patrol was therefore sent out and found that the crossroads was not occupied.

All four companies were consequently in the front line. Two patrols were sent towards CROISILLES under 2ndLIEUT. T. GRONOW and 2nd LIEUT. E.J. PEACOCK during the night. Both these patrols reached the outskirts of the village but found it held in some strength by the enemy.

On the morning of the 23rd, a party of the enemy about 20 in number, were surprised by a Post at T.22.b.8.2.The party came round a bend in the road with tools on their shoulders & were immediately fired on by the Lewis Gun at the Post. Several casualties were inflicted on the enemy. On the night of 23rd/24th the posts were again pushed a little nearer CROISILLES the nearest being within 500 yards of the village on the road in T.23a.

24/3/17
On the night of 24th the Battalion was relieved by 2nd Bn Manchester Regt. Before relief however two officer patrols were sent out to reconnoitre CROISILLES which had again been reported evacuated. These patrols under 2nd Lieut. A. HARPER and 2nd Lieut. J.J. DEDMAN advanced towards CROISILLES on either side of the road through T.28.b & T.25.c. They reached the wire & started cutting it. The enemy had a sentry post a short way inside the wire. The post was not alarmed until two of the enemy walking along the outside of the wire came up against our wire-cutting party. An endeavour was made to capture these two men but as they refused to put up their hands they were shot. This gave the alarm. The sentry opened fire- also automatic rifle & consequently our patrols retired.

The Battalion billeted at COURCELLES.

COURCELLES
25/3/17
The Battalion remained in billets at COURCELLES.
26/3/17
The Battalion remained in billets at COURCELLES.
27/3/17
The Battalion remained in billets at COURCELLES.
28/3/17
The Battalion moved at 9.30am to ERVILLERS where it stood to in readiness to proceed to ST. LEGER in support of an attack by 91st Infantry Brigade on CROISILLES. During the afternoon, "A" Company was sent up to support 20th Bn Manchester Regt. The remainder of the Battalion relieved the 8th Bn Devons Regt in front of ECOUST.

Front line:- Left: B Company.    Right: C Company.
D Company was in support.
Battalion Headquarters were in MORY.
A patrol under 2nd Lieut. J.HARDING was sent out on the night of 28th/29th to reconnoitre ECOUST which was reported to have been evacuated. This patrol reported that not only was the village held but also posts out in front of the village were held by the enemy.

29/3/17
On the 29th the village was again reported to have been evacuated. D Company was therefore ordered to send strong patrols into ECOUST. The village was still found to be held and "D" Company’s patrols returned

having suffered a few casualties. "A" Company joined the Battalion & went into reserve at the Abbey, MORY.

On the night of 29th/30th "B" Company was relieved by 2nd Royal Warwickshire Regt. & went into reserve at the Abbey, MORY. "A" and "D" Companies relieved 2 companies of 2nd Gordon Highlanders on the right of "C" Company.

Patrols were again sent out to reconnoitre ECOUST but the village was found to be held as on the night before. The Posts held by the Battalion were as follows:

Right Front Company:- (1) C.8.d.2.7.    (2) C.7.d.6.2.    (3) C.3.a.9.2.    (4) B.24.b.8.7.
Centre Company:- (1) C.7.b.4.3.    (2) C.7.b.0.3.    (3) C.7.a.2.3.    (4) B.12.a.8.9.
Left Front Company:- (1) B.12.b.9.9.    (2) B.6.d. central    (3) B.6.a.9.5.    (4) B.6.c.1.7.
Reserve Company at the Abbey B.22.a.8.7.

30/3/17
ECOUST was again reported by aeroplane to be evacuated. Daylight patrols were therefore ordered to be sent out. "B" Company under Lieut. R. MAXWELL was detailed for this duty. As "B" Company advanced across the plateau in B23.a and B17.c they came in full view of the enemy & were heavily shelled suffering several casualties.

During the night 30/31st "B" Company attacked a post at C.7.a.5.5. under an artillery barrage and took it. They were temporarily blocked by a small bombing post at C.7.a 65.45. This check enabled the enemy in the Strong Point to withdraw. The occupants of the bombing post were however killed.

A simultaneous attack had been planned on an enemy post at C.8.c.0.7. "D" Company was detailed for this duty. This Company had first to be relieved by a company of 2/1st HAC and were late in starting because this relief could not be completed in time. The consequence of this was that "D" Company could not get near enough to rush the post when the barrage lifted & when they did get near it they were held up by machine gun fire from the post. When however the post at C.7.b.1.8 was captured the occupants of the post at C8.c.0.7 retired.

Two posts were established at C.7.b.1.8 & C.8.a.3.2.

31/3/17
The Battn was then relieved by the 2/1st HAC & proceeded to billets at ERVILLERS.

Casualties from 21/3/17 to 31/3/17 were as follows:-
OFFICERS:-
Killed: Capt. T.T. BEATY-POWNALL (24/3/17)
Wounded: 2nd Lieut. T. GRONOW, MC (24/3/17)
OTHER RANKS:-
Killed 10, Wounded 35, Missing 15.

The following officers joined the Battalion during the month:-
17/3/17: 2nd Lieuts. W.G. GRAHAME and W. INKPEN.
20/3/17: 2nd Lieut. E.J. PEACOCK.
22/3/17: 2nd Lieut. M. SEYMOUR-ISAACS.

Drafts as under joined the Battalion during the month:-
5/3/17: 7 O.Ranks.
12/3/17: 7 O.Ranks.
17/3/17: 13 O.Ranks.
26/3/17: 7 O.Ranks.

The men of these drafts were fully trained, most of the men having previously served in the Battalion.
13 Other Ranks were evacuated sick during the month.
The strength of the Battalion on the last day of the month was:- 33 Officers, 727 Other Ranks.

[signed] E. Thorpe, Lt-Colonel
Commanding 2nd Bn The Border Regt.

References / notes[edit]

  • 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.