Jump to navigation Jump to search
- For events that took place elsewhere in the Great War, see The Great War:5 June.
Lonsdale Battalion events that took place on 5 June.
1916[edit | edit source]
- Battalion is situated in Divisional Reserve at Bouzincourt providing working parties for the Royal Engineers.
- A volunteer group led by Lieutenant Barnes undertakes a night raid on German trenches at the Leipzig Redoubt.[note 1] Zero time is 11pm.
- 11 German prisoners are captured. Casualties: Lt Barnes and 5 other ranks killed, 27 wounded and 1 wounded and missing.
- Note by Lt-Col. Machell: "After the raiders had returned, a strong patrol of Lancashire Fusiliers, with two machine guns, went out, and remained till dawn in case of counter-attack, and also brought in the wounded and dead. The prisoners are poor specimens and belong to the 6th Company, 99th Reserve Regiment." 
- Deaths: David Johnson Allison (17523 Pte.) / James Herbert Copeland (13877 L/Cpl.) / Francis Little (17584 Pte.)
- The objective of this raid was to gain information about a very important part of the enemy trench systems that were to be attacked on 1 July. Large mounds of earth had appeared at the point of the salient, which looked as though mining was in progress, and it was clear that there were several machine-gun emplacements in or near a quarry shown in their photos of this part of the German line. Another feature of the aerial photos was a square trench, or the Bull’s Eye, about 30 yards back from the front line. The curious shape gave rise to suspicions that it was being used as a very strong point in defence, which afterwards proved to be the case.
The objective of the raid was threefold: To find out about the Bull’s Eye trench. This needed a separate party, which would have to go forward to the third line, and work independently of the rest; to find out about the quarry; to get as many prisoners as possible, and so extract general information about the troops holding that part of the line, and the methods of defence. Volunteers were called for, and four officers—Lieut. Barnes, with Lieuts. McKerrow, Margerison and L. Machell—and 82 O.R. were chosen.
The date of the attack was not published until the actual day arrived.
Training for the raid began about three weeks before it took place, and there can be no doubt that the careful drill and rehearsal of the advance was the main cause of the final success. A piece of ground was chosen near Bouzincourt, about three mile behind the British line, and there the section of trench to be raided was exactly reproduced with the aid of the aerial photographs.
The programme of training varied slightly, but nearly every night the actual advance was practised under the eye of the commanding officer and the most minute details criticised and modified. During the day bomb-throwing was practiced, and the men had two hours’ physical training, also instruction in conducting prisoners and carrying wounded. By the time the party moved from Bouzincourt to their final bivouac in Aveluy Wood, every man knew his job and his exact place in the scheme.
On the afternoon of the 4 June the party moved to Aveluy Wood, and pitched bivouac tents under the trees among dense undergrowth, well hidden from view of aeroplanes. On the morning of the 5th it was given out to the men that the raid would be that night. There had already been careful dress-rehearsals, and every man knew the best way to carry his kit, so when the order was given to prepare to move, everyone was ready in half an hour, with boots, revolvers, torches, and compasses, and with faces blackened.
Various sources contemporary to the war have been used to compile The Lonsdale Battalion On This Day. The majority of the events shown on this day (5 June), including any supplementary notes, enlistments and statistical data etc., have been primarily sourced from the Lonsdale Battalion War Diary (November 1915 to June 1918), Record of the XIth (Service) Battalion (Lonsdale) and abridged material from Timeline and Chronology of the Lonsdale Battalion (September 1914 - May 1915), which are sourced from the original DLONS/L/13/13 Lowther Estate Archives. Events from that chronology are reproduced here with kind permission of Jim Lowther (2016). They are identified and referenced separately by their unique DLONS numbers. Please do not publish these events without prior permission from the Lowther Estate. All casualty names, numbers, ranks, date of deaths and places of burial/commemoration have been sourced from Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-19, Volume 39, The Border Regiment and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database respectively.