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2nd Battalion War Diary, September 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 remained in billets in Brigade Reserve.
— " —
The Battalion proceeded to trenches near VERMELLES.
In trenches (Casualties 3 wounded).
— " —
The Battalion was relieved in the trenches at night and proceeded to billets at LABOURSE. A draft of 31 Other Ranks joined the Battalion.
The Battalion marched to MT. BERNONCHON at 2pm, arrived at 4pm and billeted.
2nd Lieut H.L. Houlgate joined the Battalion from Lords Strathcona’s Horse.
— " —
7/9/15 to
The Battalion remained in billets.
— " —
The Battalion marched to LABOURSE at 9.30am; arrived at 11.30am and billeted.
The Battalion proceeded to trenches near VERMELLES at 11.30am.
14/9/15 to
In trenches (Casualties 6 killed, 2 wounded by shellfire)[1]
— " —
The Battalion were relieved in the trenches and proceeded to billets at LABOURSE arriving about 4pm.
In billets A draft of 12 NCOs & men joined the Battalion.
— " —
19/9/15 to
In billets.
— " —
The Battalion proceeded to NOYELLE at night and billeted.
The 20th Infy Bde was ordered to form up on the night 24th-25th Sept as a front VERMELLES - HULLUCH ROAD – SAP2 preparatory to an attack on 25th Sept.

Information:- Enemy defences consisted of 2 well defined lines of trenches. First running from FOSSE 8 Southwards to LOOS. Second 500 yds to East running through HAISNES-CITE ST ELIE – HULLUH. Our troops attacking were a Division on right eastwards, 7th Divn centre, 9th Division on left Southeast between HULLUCH and LOOS.
Task:- The task of 20th Infy Bde was to clear the trenches in front & occupy HULLUCH and BENEFONTAINE pushing on thence to PONT-A-VEDIN & seize Canal crossings. At 10pm the Brigade began to concentrate and by 2.30pm were in position as follows:-
    1st Line :- 2nd Gordon Highlanders on right (in four lines) HULLUCH ROAD to SAP.1. 8th Devons on left (in four lines) SAP.1 to SAP.2.
    2nd Line:- 6th Gordon Highlanders in support to 2nd Gordons. 2nd Border Regt supporting 8 Devons.
    3rd line:- 9th Devons.
The Battalion occupied the following position:     1st line:- OLD SUPPORT TRENCH from CHAPPEL ALLEY to FROG LANE as follows from right to left:-
        1 machine gun, B Company. D Company 1 machine gun on left of FOSSE WAY.     2nd Line:- CURLEY CRESCENT from CHAPPEL ALLEY to 100 yds N of FOSSE WAY as follows from right to left:-
        1 machine gun, C Coy, A Coy, 1Machine Gun, Headquarters.

At 5.50am the attack with gas commenced. At 6.30 the 2nd Gordons and 8th Devons left their trenches & advanced at a walk in line up to the enemy's trenches. The trenches vacated were immediately occupied by 6th Gordons and the Battalion. In 35 minutes from the hour of the assault the enemy trenches in front of 20 Inf Bde had been captured with rather heavy losses. At 7.25 am the front system of enemy trenches opposite 20th Brigade had been captured & both 2nd Gordons & 8th Devons were steadily advancing in spite of heavy losses supported by 6th Gordons and the Battalion. During the advance an enemy trench containing 8 field guns was captured, the enemy gunners being taken prisoner.

At about this time the 22nd Inf Bde on left were held up at POPES NOSE REDOUBT and sections of the Battalion Bombers were ordered up to try and bomb down the obstruction. The Bombers were unable to make any headway. At about 9am the 8 Devons reached PUITS 13, still supported by the battalion &commenced to dig themselves in. The resistance of the enemy at POPES NOSE still continued at 9.30 am and part of D Company under Captain A.W. Sutcliffe were ordered to attack this point.

Capt A.W. Sutcliffe led his men out with great dash & assisted by Capt H.K. Caton-Ostle [Eaton or Caton? neither name on Border Regt Army List] with half of A Company broke down the resistance and took the enemy in this place prisoners to the number of about 70. This set the example to the line behind who came on & moved the advance forward to join the remainder of the Brigade.

The attack had now come to a standstill for the want of further backing and the position was that a forward line East of HULLUCH Cross Road was held connecting up on the right with the 1st Division but with the left in the air. Behind this GUN TRENCH was held with 8 enemy guns in it which was being heavily shelled by the enemy.

At 10.50 am 2 Battalions of 21st Inf Bde were ordered to reinforce 20th Inf Bde but no forward movement from GUN TRENCH was possible yet. Meanwhile messages had been received that 4th Corps were to attack HULLUCH and 21st Brigade were ordered to co-operate. Nothing came of this attack & the enemy continued to hold HULLUCH and CITE-ST-ELIE & were getting more troops into both places. The fronts of both villages were strongly held with Machine Guns besides a trench with strong [writer has missed out a word here] were in front. The Battalion was now in GUN TRENCH. At 4.30 Division sent orders to consolidate positions gained. Position of units of 20th Inf Brigade at 6.30pm were as follows: 2nd& 6th Gordons about H.7.C H.H. with a mixture of 8th& 9th Devons. These were ordered to dig in & make the crossroads a strong point with the aid of two 1½ inch trench mortars.

2nd Border Regt, some 8th & 9th Devons & details 21st Bde in GUN TRENCH in touch on right with 1st Division & on left with 22nd Brigade & whole were ordered to dig themselves in and RE ordered to put out wire in front. Shortly before midnight 25th/26th the enemy made a determined counterattack on the advanced position near HULLUCH Crossroads just before it had been put in a state of defence. The attack was pressed home in the endeavour to recapture the field guns in GUN TRENCH. The men in the forward position gave way & fell back on GUN TRENCH – some even went back further than this but were rallied by officers of the Battalion and the Brigade Major and taken back to help men in GUN TRENCH. The enemy's forward attackers actually reached GUN TRENCH and were killed almost on the parapet whilst a good many others variously estimated at anything between 50 and 100 were killed in this attack which was beaten off. Thus the advanced position at HULLUCH Cross Roads was lost but all other ground gained by 20th Inf Bde during the day was held and consolidated before daylight.

About 1am information was received that the QUARRIES had been captured by the enemy. It was eventually made known that the enemy had not penetrated to their own line but still held the QUARRIES. At about 3am a counterattack was made on them by a fresh battalion but failed at 7am & none other attempt was made till 5.30pm. Our section of Brigade Bombers were sent to assist this attack which was only partially successful. Major General T. Caper KCMG, CB, DSO, Commanding 7th Division was wounded during the attack and died later. During this day the Battalion was relieved in GUN TRENCH and took the place of the Royal Scots Fusiliers in BRESLAU AVENUE (old German communication trench).
27/9/15 to
The Battalion remained in BRESLAU AVENUE in Reserve until relieved on 1/10/15.
E. Thorpe, 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. The following six men were killed or died of wounds from action on this day:
    • George Charles Sams (10645 Pte.) Died 14/09/1915. Age: 25. Commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial. Son of Mrs. Elizabeth Sams, of 39, Paisley Rd., Walworth, London.
    • Albert Edward Shelton (5686 Pte.) Died 14/09/1915. Commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.
    • Henry Lober (21527 Pte.) Died 14/09/1915. Age: 19. "A" Coy. 2nd Bn. Buried at Fouquieres Churchyard Extension. Son of George and Cecilia Lober, of 23,Greenfield St., Liscard, Wallasey.
    • George Murphy (18024 Pte.) Died 14/09/1915. Age: 33. Commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial. Son of the late Peter and Elizabeth Murphy.
    • Harold Fordham (16153 L/Cpl.) Died 14/09/1915. Commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.
    • William Hines (6788 Pte.) Died 14/09/1915. Age: 30. Commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial. Son of the late William Hines.
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