8th Battalion War Diary, October 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
OVILLERS 1st In dugouts in old farm on front line and North side of road. Working parties supplied for carrying rations stored up to Mouquet Farm.
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Lt Parkinson hit in leg.
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Ordered to relieve Canadians on right of Pozieres. In relief 2 Lieut Turner was wounded.
TRENCHES 6th Trenches were shelled intermittently shelled throughout the day. CSM of D Coy killed,[1] 2 Lt. Lewis wounded & 2 Lt. Wilson.[2] Relieved by the 9th L.N.L. [Loyal North Lancs] 74th Brigade. Proceeded to Crucifix Corner.
CRUCIFIX CORNER 7th Men cleaning up after the trenches.
8th Companies under Coy arrangement. Bayonet fighting bomb throwing etc.
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NCOs proceeded in afternoon to look at ground over which an attack was to be practised on next day.
11th Attack practised 1st by company & then by Battalion Major Strachan in Command.
12th Company & Battalion training.
13th Battalion training.
14th The OC and Coy officers inspected the line of trenches to be taken up by the Battn.
15th The Battn relieved the 1st [Wilts?] Regt. In the front line. We were the left Battn in the division, the 39th being on our left. The 2nd S. Lancs on our right. During the evening the headquarters were heavily bombarded.
16th The Battn moved to the right, taking the line occupied by the 2nd S. Lancs Regt. HQ moved to Quarry Pit.
17th & 18th Battn engaged in repairing & strengthening their line.
19th The contemplated attack on Regina Trench postponed 4 [illegible] on account of rain. Lt. [Passmente?] wounded.
20th Repairing of trenches after the rain continued.
STUFF REDOUBT 21st Attack on REGINA TRENCH by the Battn and 1 Coy of 11th Cheshire Regt. The Battn and 1 Coy XI Cheshires took over the line in Hessian trench as 6am. The relief being completed by 8am. Borders on right & Cheshire on left of line. The objective in Regina trench assigned to the Battn was roughly 350 yards. The 13th Cheshires 74th Bde being on our right & [illegible] for the [illegible] [illegible] [illegible - possible that the last two are "on road"] The 8th Lancs were on our left.

The attack was advanced in four waves, Borders being in half Coy columns. A Coy XI Cheshires in column of platoons 30 paces [illegible].

Our artillery barrage opened at 12.6pm which was the signal to get out of the trench. The waves were not very good but there was no confusion, direction was well kept by the Borders, this was caused by the communication trench on the right running obliquely across our front, a change of direction had also to be made.

The whole advanced too quickly, sufficient attention was not paid to the barrage orders, officers were few, but watches could not have been properly used.

The ground was not cut up by shell holes as much as was expected and was easy to advance over, the leading wave reaching the objective before the barrage lifted and suffered some casualties in consequence. The wire was well cut and presented no obstacle.

The barrage was excellent, a few shells were short, but I think this must be expected. The attack was sudden and swift, had there been a slight check to allow the barrage to lift the Battn would have got out almost without a casualty.

When the trench was reached on the left, the men got in so easily that they did not realise they had gained their objective, a gap was also left on the right owing to opposition from a large dugout on the right where a machine gun fired a few rounds.

Some dugouts & emplacements showed up unexpectedly on the left of STUMP ROAD, and Germans were seen coming out of there. Within a minute of reaching REGINA TRENCH some officers and about [80?] men of whom 40 were Borders left the trench and made straight across for them. Amongst these men were about 20 of the 13th Cheshires who had come across our front, some went through the barrage and occupied a trench some 600 yards in front of the line, they were withdrawn afterdark.

Capt. Stewart[3] realized what was happening and stopped a good many from going forward and got them to work at once in the trench. He found he was in touch with the 8th S. Lancs on the left but the right was held up. He ordered a block to be made up till he could collect some men as the line was thin & sent back a written report of the situation which was most useful as it arrived soon after a report came from Lt. (Willard?) as to the situation on the right. He said the trench had now been cleared but was now full of Borders & Cheshires. This turned out to be the bombers originally told off to clear the right & two details of [illegible] & about 30 men of the Cheshire Regt. who were unable to go on. Lt. Birnie[4] was the sent up with the last remaining squad of Battn bombers at Batt HQ to try and get in touch with Capt. Stewart by bombing up the CT [communication trench]. On arriving at the dugout he found that the one just beyond the block was ablaze and he could not get in that way, but under cover of the smoke caused by it he managed to get his squad & 10 others from the CT over [illegible] German to Regina Trench where Capt. Stewart was only one man being hit on the way. He got to work at once in a very gallant manner, himself getting onto the parapet and sniping while his men worked up the trench. He accounted for at least 8 Germans killed, and within 20 minutes the remainder [illegible] to surrender. The trench was cleared and touch gained with the 13th Cheshires. Consolidation proceeded without opposition and several patrols were captured during the night. 3 machine guns were captured, 1 by the Borders, 1 by XI Cheshires, & 1 by the 8 Lancs. 251 Germans were captured and 50 killed were counted. The Coy of the XI Cheshire Regt. & the officers attached from that Battn rendered very useful assistance. Also the platoon of carriers who did excellent work carrying bombs and ammunition.

A Coy of the XI Cheshires was ordered to uniface the front line, their place in Hessian Trench being taken by a Coy Xth Cheshires. FIELD TRENCH was dug during the night by the R.E.s also the PT [parapet?] on the right was improved and made passable throughout. This trench was heavily shelled after the attack commenced, this was kept up in [illegible] [illegible] for 24 hours until the Battn was relieved.

The front line was thinned out on the morning of the 22nd, the Coy of the Xth Cheshires being sent back to their HQ, the XIth Cheshires from front line taking their place. The bombers of the XIst Cheshires were kept in reserve and were not required. Casualties Capt. Miller[5] & Capt Watson Thomas[6] killed. Lt Le May wounded, 18th other ranks killed, 111 wounded, 80 missing.

22nd Battn relieved by the 10th [Lancasters?] & marched to camp [illegible] Albert & 23rd Btn left camp and went to Warloy in motor [B?????court] buses.
GEZAINCOURT 24th Battn left Warloy & marched to Gezaincourt some went by road and some in buses.
25th The Corps commander inspected the Brigade. The Borders & 2nd S. Lancs. paraded at 2pm in the chateau grounds.
26th [No diary entry made]
27th The Battn was unable to carryout field training on account of the bad weather. Sir Douglas Haig inspected the Battn. In billets during the afternoon.
28th Training was carried on under company arrangements.
29th Church Parade at 9.30. At 7pm the Battn left Gezaincourt for [D????] to entrain for Meteren. Train left 10.50pm.
METEREN 30th The Battn arrived by rain at Bailleul at 5am and detrained and marched to Meteren.
31st Company training carried out at OC Battn proceeded to (Romain?) to inspect part of new line being taken up by this Brigade.
[Signed] P. Strachan, Major

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. From CWGC: Patrick James Nolan, (CSM 6453), died 5/10/16. Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
  2. Possibly Stanley Wright Wilson, 2nd Lieut. KiA 18/11/1918. Died with 11th Border Regiment (formerly 8th Border Regiment). Age 22. Son of John Wright Wilson & Margaret Wilson, of Ravenstone, Penrith, Cumberland. Commemorated on the Theipval Memorial and on Shap (St. Michaels) Church Memorial Plaque.
  3. Capt. John Ebenezar Stewart, MC. 8th Border Regiment (attd. South Staffordshire Regiment). 28/4/18 Commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial. Son of William A. Stewart of 37, Kildovan St., Coatbridge, and the late Isabella Shaw Stewart.
  4. Capt. Edward D'arcy Birnie, DSO, MC, KiA 22/3/1918. Age 26. Son of Robert and Isabella Birnie, of Sycamore Terrace, High Harrington, Cumberland. Buried at Denancourt Communal Cemetery Extension.
  5. Capt. Tom Drysdale Miller, MC. Died 21/10/16. Age 28. Son of the Rev. Andrew Miller & Isabella Elspeth Smith Miller of 29, Annfield Rd., Partickhill, Glasgow. Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
  6. Capt. Walter Patrick Watson-Thomas, born 1884 at Landsdowne Road, Notting Hill. Address: 80 Brondesbury Villas, Kilburn. Antique dealer, auctioneer, estate agent and valuer. Mother Margaret. Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
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