2nd Battalion War Diary, May 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
1/5/15 to
In trenches. Casualties 1 killed,[1] 9 wounded.
— " —
The Battalion was relieved in trenches by West Riding Brigade and proceeded to billets at LAVENTIE.
6/5/15 to
In billets.
— " —
The Battalion marched with 20th Brigade to reserve trenches near ROUGE BANCS. The Brigade being reserve to 8th Division who attacked at about 6am. The attack was unsuccessful.
The Battalion marched with the Brigade to Bethune at 8pm. Arrived and billeted at about 12 midnight.
In billets. 2nd Lieut R.M. [Burmain?] joined the Battalion & assumed duties of Adjutant.
— " —
The Battalion marched to HINGES at 9pm, arrived at 12 noon and billeted.
13/5/15 &
The Battalion remained in billets.
— " —
The Battalion marched to trenches at FESTUBERT at 5pm. The Battalion arrived in trenches at 9pm. Previous orders had been issued as to operations on the following day. Casualties during the night by shell fire 7 men in Machine Gun Section.[2]
The Brigade were allotted the task of breaking the line at two points.The Border Regiment from P5 to PRINCES ROAD roughly 150 yards and the 2nd Scots Guards from PRINCES ROAD to 150 yards to right.

At 3.15am two Platoons of A Company made the assault but were stopped by two of our own heavy howitzer shells which dropped after the time the bombardment should have ceased. They advanced a second time after heavy loss & gained the German trench. They were at once supported by the remaining two Platoons of A Company. An attempt was made to progress further but the advance was stopped by a ditch full of water and by heavy machine gun fire which enfiladed from the left.

The whole of the B Company was then pushed over & occupied the German front line trench with orders to hold P5 at all cost. 80 Brigade Bombers were attached to the Company for this purpose.Attempts were made to bomb down the trench to the left which was still in the hands of the Germans. About 200 yards were gained but on each occasion the ground gained had to be given up owing to the shortage of bombs. These parties came under fire from a trench mortar during each attempt and suffered very heavy losses. But despite their losses P5 was held until the Battalion was relieved.

About this time the communication trench P5, P4 which was our objective was made good. The machine gunners with 2 guns were then set up to a point about midway between P5 and P4 to strengthen the line. C & D Companies pushed over into the German trench & prolonged the line to the right. During these operations the battalion suffered very heavily. Lieut-Col. L.I. Wood was wounded midway between the British & German trenches and was brought in by Sgt. Maj. Davenport & Corporal Coleman but died as soon as he reached the British lines.[3] Major A.S.W. Moffat was in command of the two leading companies & was hit in the head in the German communication trench P4, P5 & died shortly afterwards.[4]

The following officers were also killed and wounded.
Killed – 2 Lieut H. Owen,[5] 2 Lieut W.R.C. Simpson,[6] 2 Lieut K. Bales,[7] 2 Lt R.M. Goodman,[8] 2 Lieut D.S. Richardson, [9] 2 Lieut J. Horsley,[10] 2 Lt N.A. Krohn,[11] 2 Lt H.G. Byng died of wounds,[12] 2 Lieut F. McCance.[13]
Wounded – 2 Lieut D.N. Leck, 2Lt G.E.H. Slater, 2 Lt S.F. Johnson,[14] 2 Lt GP Lindsay.

During the night the Battn was relieved by the 1st Grenadier Guards on account of the serious losses it had sustained and returned to the old British line where it was reorganised by Captain O.M. Crackenthorpe who had assumed command of the Battalion.

This day was spent in bringing in the wounded & burying the dead. While superintending this work Lieut W. Kerr was wounded in the leg in the early part of the afternoon. At about 5pm the Battalion received orders to move into reserve billets near RUE L’EPLINETTE. This was carried out as soon as it was dark.

The total casualties during these operations were:-
Officers: 11 killed, 5 wounded.
Other Ranks: 110 killed, 240 wounded, 35 missing.

The Battalion marched to Hinges in the afternoon and billeted.
The Battalion marched to BUSNES at 2.30 and billeted.
20/5/15 to
In billets, the following joined the Battalion on 20/5/15:

Lieut-Col E.I. de S. Thorpe, 2nd Bedfords Regt who assumed command of the Battalion.
2nd Lieut K.M. Bourne 2/S Lancs Regt, 2 Lt R.G. Spalding 3/S Lancs Regt, 2 Lt A.F. Ventris 2/S Lancs Regt.
A draft of 146 Other Ranks joined on 20/5/15.
Capt R.B. Corser & Lieut M. Thwaite, 2/Yorks Regt joined the Battalion on 22/5/15.
2 Lieut A.W. Gates, 3/S Lancs joined on 26/5/15.
2 Lieut H.K. Caton-Ostle, Artist Rifles joined on 28/5/15.

The Battalion marched to GORRE at 2.30 and billeted. 2nd Lieut K. Sherrif 3/ R.W. Kents joined the Battn.
M. Crackenthopre, Captain
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. Richard Edward Bell (11053 Pte.) Died 04/05/1915. Commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.
  2. There were 121 names listed on CWGC for the 16th May casualties; impossible to state which seven these casualties were.
  3. Lieut-Col. Lewis Ironside Wood, CMG, died 16/05/1915 age 48. Buried at Le Touret Military Cemetery. Son of John Richard and Frances Isabella Wood of Melton Hall, Melton, Suffolk.
  4. CWGC lists Major Moffatt as Lt-Col., perhaps a short lived acting rank after Lt-Col. Wood was killed: Archibald Shirving Woolery Moffatt. Age: 47. Commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial. Son of the late James Moffatt of Ken Ervie, Kirkcudbrightshire; husband of Marjorie Moffatt.
  5. Lieut. Hugh Owen. Died 16/05/1915. Age: 24. "A" Coy. 3rd Border Regiment (attd. 2nd Border Regiment). Buried at Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuichy. Son of Elizabeth Owen of 3, Brendon House, Great Woodstock St., London. Native of Sevastopol, Crimea.
  6. 2nd Lieut. William Ronald Carde Simpson. Buried at Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuichy.
  7. 2nd Lieut. Keith Bales. Commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.
  8. 2nd Lieut. Reginald Moon Goodman. Mentioned in Despatches. Age: 26. Buried at Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuichy. Son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Goodman of 26, Beverley Rd., Barnes, London.
  9. Lieut. (rank as stated by CWGC) Daryl Stewart Richardson. Age: 24. 3rd Border Regiment (attd. 2nd Border Regiment). Commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial. Son of William and Ada Richardson of Bishops Down Grange, Tunbridge Wells.
  10. Capt. (rank as stated by CWGC) John Horsley. Died 16/05/1915. Age: 22. Buried at Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuichy. Son of James Henry and Margaret Horsley of "Chirton," Clifton Rd., Newcastle-on-Tyne.
  11. 2nd Lieut. Nicholas Adolf Krohn. Commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.
  12. 2nd Lieut. Harry Gustav Byng. Died 18/05/15. Age: 25. Buried at Bethune Town Cemetery. Son of Gustav and Ida Byng; husband of Evelyn Byng of 32, Bryanston Square, Marylebone, London.
  13. 2nd Lieut. Finlay McCance. Died 22/05/15. Age: 23. Buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery. Eldest son of J. Stouppe McCance and Mary McCance of Woodbourne, Dunmurry, Co. Antrim.
  14. Capt. S.F. Johnson. Died 10/01/1917. Age: 29. Buried at New Munich Trench British Cemetery, Beaumont-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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