8th Border Regiment trench raid: report on raid (11th Nov 1917)

8th Bn. BORDER Regt. on night Nov. 10th/11th, 1917.

          1. To secure identification.
          2. To inflict casualties.
          3. To secure booty.

          Posts in enemy front line at:
            (a) A.21.d.90.65. (VESUVIUS Crater)
            (b) A.22.a.05.10. (LA BASSEE Road)

          believed to be occupied by enemy were selected as objectives.

          2 parties (from A & D Coys.) each divided into 2 sub-parties as follows:-
          Sub-party A. 1 Sergt. and 7 O.R.                     'A' Coy.
          Sub-party B. 1 Officer (2/Lt. C.A. WATTS) & 7 O.R.   'A' Coy.
          Sub-party C. 1 Sergt. and 7 O.R.                     'D' Coy.
          Sub-party D. 1 Officer (2/Lt. T.C. Vaughan) & 7 O.R. 'D' Coy.

          Objective (a) as above was allotted to sub-parties A & B.
          Objective (b) as above was allotted to sub-parties C & D.

          The raid was accompanied by a simulated gas attack. Gas projectors and 4" Mortars had the area RYANS KEEP - RAILWAY COTTAGE as a target.
          The raid was originally timed to take place at 12.35 a.m. night of 8th/9th Novr. but the wind being unfavourable it was postponed until 1.25 a.m. night of 9th/10th Nov. The wind again being unfavourable it was further postponed until 2.20 a.m. night of 10th/11th November.

          Projectors and 4" Mortars were fired at 2.20 a.m. and immediately smoke cases were lit in our front line - the wind being West - 3 - 4 miles per hour. practically no retaliation resulted, nor any Machine Gun fire. An odd Very Light went up from the enemy line, but on the whole everything was extremely quiet.

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A and B
          These parties left our line as per my Battalion Order No.44, copy of which was sent to you - sub-party A making for the South end of the Sap at VESUVIUS North and sub-party B keeping directly to the North of this Sap made straight for the enemy front line. The Sap was found to be occupied by at least two of the enemy, tho' owing to the darkness and the smoke visibility was too uncertain to say exactly by how many more. These two sentries are claimed as casualties by the Sergeant in charge of Party A.
          The C.T. connecting (as we supposed) the Sap head with the enemy trench was found to be absolutely filled with wire, and the post completely and effectively surrounded by wire. No other C.T. being discovered by either Party A on the South or by Party B on the North of the Sap suggests the possibility that the Sap head is connected to the enemy line by the tunnel.

          Party B (2/Lt. WATTS) found the enemy front line about 5 feet deep but absolutely filled with wire. This was crossed and the party proceeded in a Southerly direction behind the line and could still find no way of getting into the Sap head post on the VESUVIUS CRATER. Talking was heard at the junction of C.T. and front line at A.21.d.9.7. but as the party had already stayed ten minutes after the recall signal, and on account of the wire filled trenches, both A and B parties had to retire without being able to effect any of the desired results. These parties reached our lines soon after 3 a.m., the recall having been given at 2.40 a.m.

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C and D.

          These parties proceeded as per instruction given in Battalion Order No.44. They found the enemy wire at points of entry into trench no great obstacle (part having been previously cut by hand). Much loose wire was met and the German front line immediately North and South of LA BASSEE ROAD found not only unoccupied but in a state of disrepair and very muddy. No dugout under the Road was located. Covering parties having been left in the front line the rest of the parties proceeded up the short C.T. leading S.E. from A.22.a.12.20. but owing to the mud and the heavy going had only reached the LA BASSEE ROAD when the recall was given. No sign of the enemy was observed though three bombs and several Very Lights came from the direction of FRANKS KEEP - the bombs fell short.
          These parties reached our lines at 2.52 a.m., the recall having been given at 2.40 a.m.
          The 'Officers Call' on the bugle was the Signal of Recall.
          The wind was scarecely strong enough to carry the smoke cloud across to the enemy lines as had been hoped, it being about our trenches so much that fewer cases were lit. Though we heard a bell being rung 2nd Lieut. WATTS does not think the smoke cloud deceived the enemy - the reflection of the smoke cases burning in our trenches could be seen from the enemy front line.
          We suffered no casualties.

11/11/17. (sd). C.W.H. Birt, Lieut. Col.,
Commanding 8th Bn. Border Regt.

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