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8th Battalion War Diary, May 1918

From the Lonsdale Battalion wiki
    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
LA CLYTTE 1st Beyond intermittent shelling the day was very quiet.
ROMARIN CAMP 2nd         do        do        
3rd About 7.30pm the Bn moved back out of the lines. On arrival at L 16 d 22 (Sheet 27) at hot meal was ready for the men. After one hours halt the Bn again moved back to L 29 A 15. 20 where they rested for the remainder of the night.
L 29 A 15. 20
4th The following officers having reported to the Transport lines on the 2nd Inst were taken on the strength of the Bn and posted to the coys shown against their names:-

Lt. A.L.E. SHEEHAM - B Co.
2nd Lt E.A. JACKSON - B Co.[1]
2nd Lt H.R. SAWE – B Co.
2nd Lt.H.G. MACHELL -A Co.[2]
2nd Lt. G.A. SUTCLIFFE - C Co.
2nd Lt. A.S. PEARSON - D Co.
Lt. G.E.H. SLATER - A Co.
At 10.30AM in accordance with Bde instructions the battalion marched via WATTOU–HOUTKERQUE, HERZEELE to billets in the vicinity of WYLDER. Bn Hq at PONT DE WYLDER. Coys were settled in their billets by 3.30pm.

WYLDER 5th Inspection of Billets. Church service.
6th CO’s inspection. The remainder of the day was spent in cleaning up reorganising. Kit inspections. Medical inspection, and forming new Lewis Gun and signalling classes.
7th Physical Training and Arms Drill, Lewis Gun and signalling Classes Lt. V.BLOOMFIELD appointed Bn Lewis Gun Officer.
8th Physical training, Arms drill and classes. The following officers having reported on 7th inst were posted to Co’s as stated against their names:-

2nd Lt. R. SCOTT – D Co. 2nd Lt. J.K. MACKENZIE – C Co.[3]
2nd Lt. A. HEPBORN – B Co.
2nd Lt. W.T. THORTON - C Co.
2nd Lt. A.A. DALLAS - A Co.
2nd Lt. D. PHILIP – D Co.
2nd Lt. J. BROWN – A Co.
2nd Lt. J.D. DEAS – B Co.
2nd Lt. L. RITCHIE – C Co.
2nd Lt. J.GORDON – A Co.

9th At 3AM the Bn marched to entraining point at HEIDEBECKE arriving there at 7AM. Breakfast was issued and at 10.15AM the train moved off. The remainder of the day was spent on the train.
TRAIN, FISMES 10th At 10.30 the train arrived at the detraining point (FISMES). The Bn then marched to billets in COURVILLE arriving there at 10pm.
11th Cleaning up, foot inspections & c.
COURVELLE 12th Billet inspection by C.O. Church services. Lt M. TURNBULL appointed Bn Signalling Officer at 5pm the Bn was inspected with the other units of the Bde group by the Divisional Commander.
13th & 14th Training. Physical Training. Bayonet Fighting. Musketry. Squad Drill. Gas Drill and classes.
15th         do        do        

Lt. Col J.N. de la PERRELLE, DSO, MC, having arrived took over Command of the Bn. Capt. J. DAWSON, MC having reported was taken on the strength of the Bn and took over command of "A" Co.

16th & 17th Training. Physical Training. Bayonet Fighting. Musketry. Gas Drill and classes. Lt A.L.M. SHEEHAM was appointed Bn signalling officer Vice Lt M.TURNBULL who took over the duties of A/Adjutant.
18th Training. 2nd Lt F.W. DARVELL appointed intelligence officer.
19th Church parade and service.
20th Training.
21st Training included firing 100 yards. Grouping and 200 yds Application.
22nd Training.
23rd Training. 2 hrs specialists only. At 7.5 the Bn marched to billets in VENTENAY ROMAIN CAMP EAST 50 yds N. of I in ROMAINE arriving in camp about 11.45pm. Ref MAP SOISSONS.
ROMAIN CAMP 24th The morning was spent in cleaning up the Camp. During the afternoon Coys practiced "Coy in the Attack" and specialists had two hours instruction.
25th Training specialists. Coy in the attack. Musketry.
VENTELAY 26th Church parade in the morning.
6.45pm At 6.45pm orders were received from Bde to be prepared to move within one hour.
9.30pm At 9.30pm the Bn moved to a position south of VENTELAY-BOUVANCOURT road about 800 yds E. of VENTELAY and there awaited further orders.
27th 1 AM At about 1 AM the enemy bombardment opened and a few HE and Gas shells fell on our right. Orders were received to reconnoitre roads and approaches to CONCEVREUX ROUCY and GEYRECOURT. Our Scouts were sent out.
VENTELAY 6.35 AM At 6.35am orders were received to send one platoon per Co. to take up position astride the VENTELAY-ROUCY road in front of LA PAITE farm preparatory to Bn. taking up that line.
7.30 AM At 7.30am orders were received to move forward and take up a position to defend the bridge head at PONTAVERT. This task was allotted to C & D Coys with A & B Coys in support. At 8.30am orders were received to move forward and defend the bridgeheads between PONTAVERT and CONCEVREUX. There were eight bridges and dispositions were made so that each Coy held two bridges.
ROUCY 9.30 AM At 9.30am the Bn. moved off. Between VENTELAY and ROUCY information was received that the Enemy were already over the River and Canal. Orders were then received to send two Coys forward at once to reinforce the 2nd SOUTH LANCS in a line 100 yds. north of the village of ROUCY to the East of the ROUCY-PONTAVERT road. A & C Coys were sent forward, B & D Coys were ordered to remain in support in the vicinity of ROUCY. On arrival at Roucy at midday B Coy was sent forward to reinforce the 11th CHESHIRES on the left of the 2nd SOUTH LANCS and D Coy was placed in close support to the 11th CHESHIRES to the west of ROUCY. Bn Hqrs were established in a sunken road immediately behind D Coy.
ROUCY 12.30 PM At 12.30pm a message was received from C Coy to say they were in position 150 yds south of railway N. of ROUCY and later a message from A Coy saying they had placed themselves under the 2nd SOUTH LANCS and were occupying the northern slope of the BUTTE de MARCHANNE.
1 PM At 1pm orders were received from Brigade to withdraw two Coys into reserve to the top of the hill on the northern outskirts of ROUCY. B & D Coys were withdrawn and held in readiness in BOIS de ROUVROY. Each Coy sent forward an officer and small party to position held by 2nd SOUTH LANCS and at 2pm one Coy was ordered to move forward into the line west of BOUFFINGEREUX. D Coy went forward but were unable to advance owing to heavy MG fire and were ordered to fall back to their original position. A patrol was then sent out to ascertain the situation on the right and failed to return. The line appeared to have fallen back on the right but could not be located.
3 PM At 3pm order swere received to move back about 300 yds and take up a position astride the VENTELAY-ROUCY road with our right resting on the BOISROUVRIY. D Coy were placed on the right and B Coy on the left of the road. Details of the 8th and 50th Divisions were collected and placed in the line on the left and also a small party of 11th Cheshires under Capt. WILKINSON. A number of MGs were collected and placed for the defence of the position. One MG and one LG were placed in a position to command the road. Lt. BLOOMFIELD went forward to the left front with four LGs but was forced to fall back on the mainline.
ROUCY 4.30 PM At about 4.30pm a number of the enemy emerged from the wood and rushed down the road cheering and shouting. They were soon repulsed and heavy casualties inflicted. Patrols were then sent out on both flanks but were unable to locate any British troops. Our position was reported to Brigade who told us to hang on. They were arranging to send up ammunition which however did not arrive.
5.30 PM At about 5.30pm the Enemy commenced to encircle our position. He brought up heavy TMs and shelled the road and were in front of our position inflicting some casualties. They crawled out from the wood in front and started to snipe. At the same time they advanced through the woods on both flanks and started to enfilade our position with MG fire. At this point orders were sent to a party of 75th TM Battery who had been previously ordered to withdraw to LA PAITE farm, and await orders to come forward and deal with the enemy MGs in the wood. The runners failed to find this party and no more was seen of them.
ROUCY 7 PM At about 7pm a Colonel from 8th Div. HQ. informed us that a French Regiment was moving up to reinforce us. By this time the position on our right made it imperative for the right flank to swing back. This was successfully done. The left of the line had by this time suffered heavy casualties and part of it on the extreme left consisting of mixed details of various units had broken and withdrawn.
LA PAITE FM 10.30 PM The Bn. continued to hold on to this position until about 10.30pm By this time the position had become untenable. Enemy were seen in the farm 600 yds. north of BOURGOYNE and MGs were firing from our left rear. The Bn. withdrew to a position immediately in front of LA PAITE farm. On arrival at the position an order was received from 23rd Bde. to hang on to our line and informing us that a party of 50 CHESHIRES was coming up on our right flank. This party failed to reach us. Two runners were sent back to try and find the location of 23rd Bde. HQ but they failed to return. Immediately after taking up the position the enemy fired a Very Light from the valley about 600 yds to the NW of VENTELAY and numbers of the enemy were seen in the valley. These were dispersed by our rifle and LG fire. A patrol under Cpl. ROBINSON was immediately sent out who brought back identification from a wounded Enemy. Papers and identification were despatched to Bde. by runners who were fired on from VENTELAY and failed to find Bde HQ. Later two other runners were sent out to inform Bde. of our exact disposition but they were unable to get through and brought back information that VENTELAY was in the hands of the enemy. Lt-Col. de la PERELLE and Capt. BENTLEY then went out to the west of LA PAITE farm to reconnoitre a position to be occupied before dawn. They were fired on by an Enemy MG and it was apparent that the position was surrounded. After a brief consultation it was decided that an attempt should be made before dawn to break through and rejoin our troops.
COURVILLE 28th 1.30 AM About 1.30am the remaining troops were formed up on the road running through the farm. Advance Flank and Rear Guards were detailed and the Bn proceeded along the Spur running South between VENTELAY and ROMAIN. Our left flank guard became engaged with the enemy on the outskirts of VENTELAY and the remainder were enabled to get through to ROMAIN which was occupied by 21st French Infantry Regt whose HQ had just moved to BREVIL. The Bn then proceeded to BREVIL and reported to Lt-Col WEILLER Commanding the 21st IR. Here information was received that the 75 Inf Bde HQrs were at MONTIGNY. On receiving this information the Bn moved to LES VENTEAUX, and on arrival there runners were sent out to locate Bde HQrs and report our positions. These runners failed to return and later two more runners were despatched who returned with the information that our troops were retiring and Bde HQ could not be found. A DR [despatch rider] was found who said he was looking for Bde. A message was despatched by him to Bde that as we could not find them we would place ourselves under the command of the 21st I.R. (French). On doing so we were ordered to report to the Officer Commanding 3rd Bn 21st I.R. at FM. BONNE MAISON on the hills to the NE of COURVILLE. The troops atthe disposal of the Bn were formed into two Coys. One Company consisting of the Border Regt and the other of details from various Units of the 8th and 50th Divisions. A position was taken up between two French Battalions on the Aerodrome on the high ground N of COURVILLE.
2pm At 2pm the enemy launched a further attack on our position. The Bn of French on our right gave way and fell back.
3pm At 3pm Orders were received to occupy a position astride the spur to the North of CRUGNY.
CRUGNY 5pm At 5pm The Enemy who had been working round our left flank launched an attack from the direction of COURVILLE which appeared to be in his hands. Since both flanks of our position were again up in the air a withdrawal was ordered to the South of CRUGNY. By this time ammunition was running short and the French were unable to supply either ammunition or rations, we were ordered to the rear to get In touch with our own troops. The reminder of the Bn proceeded in the direction of BROUILLET coming under heavy enemy shelling. From BROUILLETE the Bn marched to LARGERY, here rations were waiting but no ammunition.
AOUGNY 9 PM At 9pm we proceeded to AOUGNY and on arrival here rested for a few hours.
29th 4 AM At 4am we proceeded to ROMIGNY and here reported to 8th Divl HQ. We received orders to rest in a field 1 mile S of N in ROMIGNY and await further orders.
ROMIGNY 10 AM At 10am in accordance with orders received from 8th Div a position was taken up on the west side of the LHERY-[SCNIGNY?] road about half mile from ROMIGNY. On taking up this position we came under the orders of 74 Inf Bde. On our left were the 106 Field Coy RE and on our right the 1/6 CHESHIRES. The position held by us was a reserve line in case the enemy broke through from LHERY. Beyond slight shelling the day was fairly quiet.
ROMIGNY 10 PM About 10pm the French troops who were occupying the ridge in front of our position fell back leaving a gap of about 200 yds. This was patrolled continually throughout the night.
30th 4 AM About 4am the Enemy were seen advancing down the slope towards [RE?] NW of AOUGNY. They continued to work down the valley and owing to the French with drawing our left flank was in the air and the village of ROMIGNY undefended from S.W. By this time our position came under heavy enemy MG fire and light field gun fire from the ridge. The troops on our right withdrew leaving our right flank in the air. As our position had become untenable we gradually withdrew in a S.W. direction over the VALE-EN TARDINOIS-ROMIGNY road into the BOIS de BENIAL and coming round in a Westerly direction took up position in the front edge of the wood facing North. The position ran along the front of the wood from road 800 yds S.W of ROMIGNY to where track runs North to ROMIGNY-JONQUERY road. By this time the enemy were in the village of ROMIGNY but were driven out by a Counter attack by the N.F.s. Good targets were fired on from our position and we were able to provide covering fire.
10 AM At 10am the wood was very heavily shelled with 4.2 HE. Owing to the heavy shelling our line was withdrawn about 200 yds. On our right was a Bn of South Wales Borderers. On our left the French.
6 PM At 6pm a party of French troops came up and took over the line held by us. Runners were sent out to try to find HQ but they failed to do so. Orders were then received to take up a position on either side of the VALE ENTARDINOIS–JONQUERY road about 200 yds from the rear edge of the wood. The remainder of the night was fairly quiet.
NAPPES 31st 5 AM At 5am in accordance with instructions received from 74 Bde the Bn withdrew to NAPPES and took up a position of readiness on ridge running from CARBON WORKS along North side of road to CHAUMULY.
6 PM We remained here until 6pm when orders were received to take up a position running from W side of BOIS de EGLISE for 200 yds towards T in BOOJACOURT. The 1/6 CHESHIRES were on our left flank and 2 NG on our right with details of 74 Bde in support. Posts were dug and patrols were pushed well forward and round the wood. About 10pm a message was received from Bde saying that small parties of the Enemy were trickling through from VILLE EN TARNINOIS. Cpl ROBINSON took out a patrol but encountered no enemy. The remainder of the night was quiet.

Casualties Officers:
Killed - 2nd Lt. J. BELL, 2nd Lt. J.K. McKENZIE.
Wounded - 2nd Lt. N.W.S. YOUNG, 2nd Lt. E.W. JACKSON (Wounded & Missing)
Missing - Capt A. MISSCAMPBELL
2/Lt. J. BROWN

Other ranks killed 9, Wounded 60, Missing 203

Honours during month (Military Medal)
14455 Sgt. GRAHAM H.F.
28895 Pte. HEWITT W.
203133 L/C Bray.F.W.
15047 Pte. GEORGE J.
26595 Pte. JONES W.B.
14659 Pte. STAFFORD W.J.
15754 Pte. McGUINESS T.
15091 Sgt. CRAYSON, M., Bar to Military Medal
15153 Pte. JONES J.R., Bar to Military Medal
203060 Pte. TODKILL H., Bar to Military Medal

[Signed] J.M. DE LA PERRELLE, Lt-Col.
Comdg 8 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. 2nd Lieut. Ernest Alexander Jackson. 6th Border Regiment (attd. 8th Border Regiment) Died 27/5/18. Commemorated on the Soissons Memorial.
  2. 2nd Lieut. H.G. Machell. Died 12/6/18 Age 30. Buried at St. Sever Cemetery, Rouen. Son of Hugh and Helena Machell of 69, Grosvenor St., Marylebone, London.
  3. 2nd Lieut. John Kincaid Mackenzie. Died 27/5/18 Age:26. Commemorated on the Soissons Memorial. Son of the late Frederick Thomas Mackenzie and of Annie Sang Mackenzie, of Riverview, Wormit, Fife.
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