8th Battalion War Diary, July 1916

    8th Border Regiment War Diary Transcriptions (1915-1918)
The National Archives WO/95/2251    
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Place Date Hour Summary of Events
FORCEVILLE 1st The Battalion halted here for the day, but had sudden orders at 11 pm to be ready to move. However the order to move did not come till the next day.
MARTINSAART WOOD 2nd The Battalion moved to MARTINSAART WOOD at 11am. A team composed of Reserve Officers and NCO’s moved to VANDENCOURT. The Battn moved to its appointed place in the front line trench south of THIEPVAL preparatory to the attack. The XI Cheshires on our left and the 2nd S. Lancs Regt. on our right.

The trenches were heavily shelled by the Germans.

3rd The Reg’t was supposed to attack the German front line at 3am but this was postponed till 6am. The Bat’n advanced in 4 waves. D & A Coys from our front line B & C Coys from our support line.

Each company had two platoons in line crossing on a front of some 150 or 200 yards followed by the other two platoons. As the leading companies left the front trench their place was taken by the two leading Platoons of each supporting Company. Touch was kept with the Cheshires by means of runners. This means of communication was also adopted to keep touch with the 2nd S. Lancs. Regt. The leading companies understood their objectives and had sufficient time to explain their orders to their men according to the operation orders issued in MARTINSAART WOOD. The Coys in support had not sufficient time to explain these orders thoroughly to their men owing to the distance from the front line and the enemy’s shell fire.

The 1st two waves went out punctually at the appointed hour, the other two Coys were held in the front line till it was seen how things were going and till reinforcements were requested. A message was sent back asking for reinforcements and bombs and these were sent up immediately. [D ?] platoon at this time were sent up, no reinforcements had arrived from the reserve to take our place. Eventually all reinforcements were sent except a platoon with 2 Lewis guns. The last reserve of 2 platoons did not reach the enemy line but returned with the Battalion when it retired. The frontage occupied in the German line was about 180 yards which had been much damaged by our shell fire and there was very little cover. The right flank giving way was the cause of the Battn falling back and also the unfortunate word "retire" undoubtedly passed along from the right. Major Birt ordered the left to conform.

Orders and messages referring to the operations took a very long time to reach Battn HQ owing to the dark and the orderlies being near to the trenches. There was no telephone to Battn HQ and all messages were by runners. This delayed instructions to OC Coys and did not give them time to arrange bombing parties, etc. for clearing the German communication trenches. The German rifle & machine gun fire was not particularly severe and had communication with the right and left been kept up throughout the attack would have been successful.

During the operation we suffered the following casualties: 4 officers killed and 10 wounded, 430 casualties other ranks.

4th The Regt left the front line trenches being relieved by the 1st Wiltshire Regt & marched to the south side of Aveluy Wood.
AVELUYWOOD 5th The regiment remained in bivouac at Aveluy Wood.
6th The regiment remained in bivouac at Aveluy Wood.
7th At 2pm the Regiment marched to ALBERT and remained there for 6 hours and then marched to USNA REDOUBT these being a reserve line of trenches.
USNA REDOUBT 8th The Battalion remained at USNA REDOUBT.
9th The Battalion remained at USNA REDOUBT.
10th A & B companies proceeded to the front line trenches. The Commanding Officer accompanied these two coys.
11th C & D companies remained at USNA REDOUBT. A & B in the front line.
12th C & D Coys marched at 6pm and joined A & B Coys in the front line German trenches.
OVILLERS 13th The Batt was ordered to attack & take two lines of trenches on the southern side of OVILLERS. A & B Coys on the right and C & D on the left. All companies gained their objectives with little resistance. Unfortunately during the operation Capt Conelly[1] of A coy was killed and 2nd Lt. Rhodes wounded. He eventually died from his wounds.[2]
14th The attack on Ovillers was continued. The trench occupied by C & D coy was retaken and a block established under Lt. Stewart at the Northern end.[3] The trench was then consolidated and held. In the meantime we had pushed forward and taken and held the church and the trench North of it.
15th The Cheshire Regt relieved us in the captured trenches. A & B companies were held in readiness to advance and occupy the trench held & the 2nd Lancs Regt. if they advanced.
16th The Battalion rested in the afternoon in the German front line trench which was at the time our support trench to Ovillers.
SENLIS 17th During the night the Batt left the trench and marched to SENLIS and bivouacked.
18th The Regt remained halted. Left 5pm when we marched to HEDAUVILLE and bivouacked therefor the night.
HEDAUVILLE 19th Left Hedauville and marched to AMPLIER, billeted in huts.
AMPLIER 20th The Brigade was inspected by the Divisional General during the afternoon.
21st Baths were allotted to the Battn. Company parade.
VAUCHELLES 22nd The Battn moved to VAUCHELLES at 10am and were accommodated in huts.
ACHEVY 23rd Church parade in morning. The Regt moved to ACHEVY at 4pm.
24th Regiment remained in billets in ACHEUX
25th The Regiment moved from ACHEUX to Marley Wood.
MARLEY WOOD 26th The regiment remained in Marley Wood. Draft of 1 Coy x 91 men arrived.
27th The regiment remained in Marley Wood. Draft of 1 Coy x 59 men arrived.
28th The regiment remained in Marley Wood.
29th The regiment remained in Marley Wood. Draft of 1 Coy x 82 men arrived.
30th The Battalion moved to the front line trenches opposite BEAUMONTHAMEL. Draft of 31 men arrived.
31st Front ine trenches. A Coy x 37 men arrived.
P. Strachan Major
Comdg 8th Border Regt.

See also

References / notes

  • National Archives Catalogue Reference: WO/95/2251
  • The transcription above is available under the National Archives Open Government Licence for public sector information.
  • War diary made available by M. Deacon and transcribed by P. Bramham.
  1. Perhaps an attached officer. No one of this name in Border Regt Army List or CWGC.
  2. John Kenneth Rhodes, 10th Border Regiment (attd. 8th Battalion Border Regiment). Age 25. Son of Agnes and the late Samuel Rhodes, of Hill Park, Greenodd, Ulverston. Also on Colton All Saints Church Memorial. Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension.
  3. Capt. John Ebenezar Stewart MC, killed 28 April 1918. Tyne Cot memorial panels 85-86, 8th Border Regiment (attd. South Staffordshire Regiment). Son of William A. Stewart, of 37,Kildovan St., Coatbridge, and the late Isabella Shaw Stewart.
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