I thought I would post up info on my own Great Grandfather who served during WW1.
John first enlisted with the East Lancashire regiment in London on 24 June 1896, giving his age as 18 years and 7 months and his occupation as a Steward. He is 5 feet 4 1/4 inches tall, weighs 131 pounds and has a chest measurement of 33 inches. His complexion is fair, eyes Grey and hair Light Brown. John's distinctive marks are listed, his eyebrows meet, he has tattoed initials E.K on his forearm, a ring on his little finger of his left hand and scars to both legs. His next of kin is given as his father James of 43 Brasenose road, Bootle, Liverpool.
John is posted as private 5101 with the East Lancs 2nd Battalion. On 11 September 1897 he is posted to the depot in Preston, remaining there until 18 December 1897 when he returns to the 2nd Battalion. Two days later on 20 December he sets sail for India. arriving in Rhaniket, he also spends time in Chakratta and Jullunder, Punjab ( Modern day spelling is Jalanhar )
On 4 July 1901 he is granted an extra 1d a day pay, then on 19 February 1903 he is confined to prison and faces a District Court Martial on 6 March charged with " Wilfully injuring his arms " John is sentenced to 122 days with hard labour, the sentence is later reduced to 56 days. John also loses his extra 1d a day pay. He is released from prison back to his regiment on 30 April 1903. On 7 January 1904 he sails from Poona and arrives in England on 30 January.
On 3 February 1904 at Gosport, John is transfered to the 1st class Army reserve after spending 7 years and 225 days as a full time soldier. His description on transfer gives his age as 26 years and 1 month, and he has grown to 5 feet 7 inches in height. John's chest measurement now reaches 38 inches and his waist 36 inches, with a hat size of 22 1/2 inches and boot size 8.
The charge of Wilfully injuring his arms meant that John was carving his rifle stock, either creating a picture or writing names. probably through the boredom of sitting around in India with not much to do.
One interesting thing is that John's WW1 service number with the East Lancs 7021 would have been issued to a regular around 1900, So John must have been given this number after transfering from full time soldier to 1st class reserve in 1904. John rejoined the East Lancashire regiment at the start of WW1. His regiment was took part in the famous Christmas truce of 1914 while they where positioned in trenches near Ploegsteert Wood, just 400 yards away from where the game of football with the German soldiers took place.
John Owens died during the battle of Frezenberg. His unit was moved to the front line trenches north of Wieltje on May 9th, where they held their position under heavy shellfire and infantry attack. They went over the top and took part in the fighting at Mousetrap farm between 13th -14th May. John was killed in action on the 13th May. His unit was relieved on the 15th, total casualties since 9th May=387 killed, wounded and missing.
The actor Matthew Kelly made a TV programme called " My Family At War " Where he travelled through France and Belgium tracing the footsteps of his Great uncle Albert Nugent who fought and was wounded on the battlefields while serving with the 1st Battallion of the East Lancashire Regiment. Matthew later visits Germany where Albert was sent after being taken prisoner and sadly where his life was to end in 1917.
Watching Matthew's programme I realised that his Great uncle Albert Nugent and my Great Grandfather John Owens where fighting alongside one another in the same regiment. I became very interested when Matthew visited Mousetrap Farm as this is where John Owens gave his life. I made sure my family members watched the repeat of the programme, they and I where very moved to see where John had fought and died.
Through his agent, myself and Matthew made contact with each other 94 years after our ancestors had served together in that horrific war. I thanked Matthew for making the programme and told him how special and moving it was for my family to see some of the places that John had fought at, and of course Mousetrap Farm where he died. Matthew has since viewed John's story on my family website and has sent me the following letter.
" I've looked at your family website and think its great-there must be hours of work and dedication that has gone into that achievement. I would be honoured if you would like to make a note that your Great Grandfather, John Owens, and my Great Uncle, Albert Nugent, served together in the same regiment. We can only wonder at what experiences they shared- good and bad.
It was amazing going over to France to trace Uncle Albert's path through the war, and far more emotional than I expected. Mousetrap Farm has an atmosphere all of its own- I'm glad that it meant something to your family and that you could see where John served and died. We owe them all such a lot and should always appreciate and learn from their sacrifices.
Anthony, your family has given so much over the years- It was fascinating and a privalege to read about them-I know that you are justly proud of them all.
Thanks so much for contacting me, with all best wishes-Matthew Kelly "
---------- Post added at 03:51 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:47 PM ----------
This is the diary from the 1st Battalion East Lancashire Regiment from the outbreak of war in 1914 up to my Great Grandfathers death on 13th May 1915. Its very long but it gives you a good insight into what they faced. Never moan about a hard day again.
Mobilization of the regiment took place at COLCHESTER.
Field training and route marching at COLCHESTER.
6.am Battalion less two companies proceeded to HARROW where they camped in one of the school playing fields. remainder of the battalion followed one hour later.
Platoon traing round camp.
9.pm Battalion less two companies leaves HARROW and proceed to SOUTHAMPTON. Remaining two companies follow one hour later.
12.05.am The battalion, under the command of Lt Col Le Marchant D.S.O, Sailed on the " BRAE MAR CASTLE " and arrived at HAVRE ( France ) about 4.pm, but did not disembark untill 11.pm, and went into camp just outside HAVRE.
10.pm Entrained for LE CATEAU arriving about 6.pm on 24th, and marched to BRIASTRE where we billited about 10.pm.
5.am Marched to SOLESMES where we took up a position to cover the retirement of the 2nd Army corps. We where not however engaged. 7.pm Marched to BEAUVOIS arriving at 11.50 pm and billited in a field.
4.am Left BEAUVOIS and marched to take up position ordered. After considerable hesitation C and D companies took up a position on LA CARRIERE hill just south of BEAUVOIS, with the Rifle Brigade on our right and the Hampshire regiment on our left. The remainder of the battalion moved south. The transport in BEAUVOIS village came under fire about 5.am but escaped.
6.am C and D coys came under rifle and machine gun fire at a range of about 800 yards. One gun in paticular from a position in a corn field caused us considerable loss. A and B coys where moved back to the support of the other two coys. In spite of our own fire the enemy advanced and at about 10.am C and D coys ( less Lt Hopkinsons platoon ) retired a short distance and took up a position on the railway line and along a sunken road. About this time the enemy started to shell our position along the railway, but without doing any damage. Lt Col Le Marchant was hit in the foot but not seriously hurt. From this postion we held up the enemy's attack until about 12 noon when German reinforcements came up and they pushed forward. They also managed to establish a machine gun somewhere which hit the sunken road and we had a good number of casualties, chiefly wounds in the leg.
1.30 pm Orders recieved to retire on LIGNY village, and take up a position on the hill covering the village. The battalion less a part of C Coy under Lt Hopkinson which with Rifle brigade covered the retirement, formed up with the rest of the brigade under cover of the hill, and then retired across the 1 1/2 miles of open country which seperated us from the village. During the retirement we where subjected to very heavy rifle, machine gun and shell fire, and lost considerably. The battalion reformed as far as possible in the village and took up a position covering the East end of the village. While this was being done village was attacked, but the attack was repulsed.
6.30-7.30 pm The battalion retired in three parts, one under Major Lambert, one under Major Green, and the third under Lt Col Le Marchant in a South Westerley direction. Major Lambert's party was composed of men not engaged in defending the village, who he had collected and later of the men who were defending the village and who were withdrawn at this time. Lt Col Le Marchant's party consisted of a few odd men, and Lt Hopkinson's party, which retired with the Rifle brigade from LA CARRIERE where they had been engaged all day. Just prior to this Major Green's party was with Major Lambert, but missed the road and did not rejoin until some days later.
7.30 pm Major Lambert's party joined Lt Col Le Marchant's party near CLARY. The battalion had been ordered to retire to MALINCOURT, but on arrival at ELINCOURT were ordered to halt just outside and billeted at 11 pm.
CAUSUALTIES 26th August
Lt Chisholm killed
Major Collins Killed
2nd Lt Hooper wounded and taken prisoner.
2nd Lt Salt Wounded
Lt Flood R.A.M.C taken prisoner.
About 250 other ranks Killed, Wounded or missing.
Almost everyone was either bruised or hit through the clothing.
2.am Marched with the rest of the brigade, led by a guide largely across country S.W towards BEAUREVOIR. Halted for 1 1/2 hours at FOLEMPRISE ( north of ESTREES ) at about 8.30 am. And then marched to NAUROY, where we halted at 10.am for food.
11.30 am Village shelled and we retired across the canal and reforned off the road N.W of BELLENGLISE. Marched S.W passing North of PONTRU to BIHECOURT, and had a short halt to water. Marched again via VERMAND, MARTVILLE, ATTILLY, ETREILLERS and FLOQUIERES to HAM and billited at 7.pm. The march was very long, about 29 miles.
3.am Marched back through HAM and took up a position covering the town while the 19th brigade passed through. Marched off again about 5.30 am and halted at South end of the town for 1 1/2 hours. Marched off again via GUISCARD Passed through NOYON, crossed a canal and the river Oise at PONT L'EVEQUE and halted outside a Chateau at SEMPIGNY. Supplies ( 1/2 ration ) issued direct by A.S.C. The March was hot and tiring and about 15 miles.
Transport arrived in the early morning. rested until about 5.pm and them marched about three miles further south and billeted in a field. The machine guns where left behind temporally to guard the bridges which where being prepared for demolition.
6.am Major Green's party rejoined ( they had gone via PERONNE ) and the battalion marched via CARLEPONT on BAILLY before reaching which place a halt of 2 hours was made for food. Marched resumed via TRACY-LE-MONT and BERNEVIL to railway crossing where another long halt was made. Marched on via TROLSY BREVIL and FONTENOY and entered the edge of the forrest of COMPIEGNE just as it grew dark, a very tiring march. ( one or two parties of Uhlands were supposed to be in the woods ) reached PIERREFONDS at 11.pm and as there was supposed to be small-pose in the village, billited in the streets.
6.30 am Marched through COMPIEGNE forrest with the intention of reaching VERBERIE.
11.am Reached ST SAUVEUR and were ordered to take up an outpost line to cover the retirement of 12th brigade. The battalion found two coys on outpost at the South end of the village. D coy ( Major Green ) were posted on the right connecting through the wood at CARREEOUR ST JEAN with the Hampshire regt A Coy ( Capt Clayhills ) on the left of D coy. Remainer in reserve under Major Lambert at the north end of the village.
8.am ST SAUVEUR, Uhlands attacked on our right and at 8.30 am a further attack was made on the centre ( D Coy ) which spread and involved A coy. The enemy then brought up a gun and shelled the village at close range. No retirement however could be made until the Hampshire regt were clear of point 127 on the high ground in rear. Ultimately the battalion was withdrawn over the wooded hills to the road leading to VAUCELLES.
The battalion then marched to NERY which had been earlier the scene of an attack on the bays of H Battery. The brigade retired slowly across open cornfields, the battalion finding rearguard to the division, to ROZIERES, were we billited at 7.pm.
Casualties 1st September.
Capt Seabroke wounded
13 other ranks killed, wounded or missing.
1.am Marched just outside the village to the edge of the wood where a halt was made until 5.am. We then marched via BARON, MONTAGNY, FORET D'ERMONVILLE to EVE which was reached at 10.am.
7.pm A and C coys sent on outpost facing North. Som LI at OTHIS, Hants regt on right. Brigade reassembled at 10.30 pm and moved off as rearguard to the division. 19th Battalion to over at ST MART.
March continued via SOUILLY, ST MESMES, CLAYE, SULLY, ANNETT, THORIGNY through LAGNY to BOIS DE CHIGNY where we billited at 1.pm.
Joined the brigade who had gone onto CHau DE FONTINELLE the previous day. Left CHau DE FONTINELLE at 4.pm and marched to COUPVRAY arriving about 5.30 pm and billited in the Chateau grounds.
8.pm A and B coys sent on outpost on the canal line and at 10.30 pm the rest of the battalion was sent to rienforce the outpost line and occupied the high ground near CHALIFERT. The transport was sent back to JOSSIGNY.
4.30 am retired as rearguard to the brigade via SERRIS, JOSSIGNY, FERRIERES, PONTCARRE and FORT D'ARMANVILLERS to MARSAUDIERE Chateau were we billited at 2.pm.
Capt Preston with firt reinforcement of 98 other ranks and 1st line transport went to CHEVRIL ( 4 miles away ) and billited. It was originally imtended to go to CHEVRIL and billit there, but owing to the heat and the length of the march we were unable to reach it.
4.am Paraded but we did not move off until 7.30 am. Orders announced the end of the retreat. Marched to JOSSIGNY and halted from 11.am to 3.pm. March continued to SERRIS and then across country to VILLENEUVE LE COMTE were we billited in a field.
3.am Warned to be ready but did not move until 9.am. Marched via CRECY and VOULANGIS to MAISONCELLES which was reached at 7.pm. ( another hot march ) C and D coys went on outpost
8.am Marched via PIEREE LEVEE and HAUTE MAISON towards JOUARRE and halted in some corn fields in a heavy rain storm. Moved on again towards LA FERTE sous JOURRE and reached LES CORBIERS at 7.pm. Billited in a large farm.
3.30 am Left billets by a track to LA FERTE.On reaching the road enemies machine guns opened on the battalion, but without serious effect. On reaching crossroads in centre of LA FERTE we were ordered to take over post of Royal Welch Fusiliers.
D coy was sent with machine guns up the hill to CONDETZ. Capt Goldie and Lt Delmege were sent with a civilian guide to find a route to Eastern bridge ( destroyed ) and at 7.am Capt Coventry with B coy was sent to try and sieze the approches to the bridge by this route.
10.30 am Lt Col Le Marchant killed while visiting Lt Leeson's post and Major Lambert assumed command of the battalion.
12 noon Infantry withdrawn temporally while the Artillery bombarded the houses on the far side of the river in which the enemies snipers and machine guns had taken up their position. At 1.pm we reoccupied our former positions but progress was still difficult.
2.30 pm The enemy abandoned the approaches to the two bridges which fell into our hands. A and C coys followed by B coy and Hants regt crossed the MARNE in boats between 6.pm and midnight. D coy and machine guns remained at CONDETZ.
Casualties 9th September.
17 other ranks Killed, wounded or missing.
3.am LA FERTE SOUS JOUARREThe battalion ( less D coy and the Machine guns ) and the Hampshire regt advanced up the hill in 3 columns.
Left column - 2 coys Hants regt - objective MORINTRU
Centre column - A coy and two coys Hants regt - objective LE LINON
Right column - C and B coys - objective BERGETTE
The right and centre columns were fired upon by hostile patrol shortly after starting. The objectives were duly reached by dawn.
7.am Orders recieved to close and march to the spot marked ANenne TELEGRAPHE on the LA FERTE-MONTREVIL road, which was reached at 10.am. Awaited the remainder of the brigade which crossed the MARNE by a pontoon bridge. Marched at 2.pm to RADEMONT and billeted in a farm.
Marched in brigade via VENDREST, COLOMBE, HERVILLIERS and VAUX to PASSY where we billeted in a large farm.
4.30 am Prepared to march but did not leave until 7.30 am. Marched via MARIZY, SAINTE GENEVIEVE, CHOUY, LOUATRE and VILLERS HELON and halted for a meal but an alarm was given and we marched to cross roads South of VIEZLEY, where we deployed in the open in line of battalion masses facing N.N.W. After an hours halt the march was resumed through ROZIERES to SEPTMONTS where we billeted 2 coys in the church and 2 coys in 2 farms. Village full of transport and heavy rain all evening.
10.30 pm Brigade reassembled and marched towards VENIZEL, Hants regt leading.
Marched through VENIZEL and crossed the bridge ( which had been damaged ) in single file at two paces distance and advanced across the open plain to BUCY-LE-LONG. The battaliom halted just outside in reserve while the othe battalions siezed the heights. Later in the morning C and D coys and machine guns were sent to support the SOM LI. A and B coys and battalion HQ billeted in the maine.
Hill North of BUCY heavily shelled all day causing 5 casualties among C and D coy. A and B coys where sent to ST MARGUARITE to support the Rifle brigade but were later withdrawn.
A and B coys ordered up the hill to support SOM LI. C and D coys had been moved during the night to fill up the gap between the Hants and SOM LI.
Entrenching all day and night. The transports and HQ 11th and 12th brigades in BUCY-LE-LONG heavily shelled and had a number of casualties.
Intermittent bombardment by both sides. The machine guns of the battalion were moved to the end of the wood covering the lead of the ravine road. B coy occupied edges of wood at its point, D coy were in support of B coy and both were under the orders of Major Green. C cot were posted among hilloaks with the SOM LI.
Entrenching continued, intermittent shelling.
Enemy attacked the ravine road but were easily repulsed.
Moved into reserve in the place previously occupied by the Rifle brigade on the Southern slope of the hill. All Quiet.
All Quiet, most of the day spent building huts.
All Quiet, Trenches dug facing West for use in possible event of French retirement.
All Quiet, Construction of huts and paths continued.
All Quiet, Major General Sir H Rawlinson and G.O.C 11th brigade visited the trenches.
All Quiet, Divine service held in camp.
All Quiet, Lt Hughes and 30 other ranks went to Div HQ as divisional guard.
Night alarm but no attack pressed.
All Quiet, The battalion was in reserve to the brigade.
9.pm were relieved by the French and marched to SEPTMONTS via VENIZEL where we arrived at 11.15 pm and billeted.
4.45 pm Left fo LA CARRIERE L'EVEQUE arrived at 5 pm and billete, with the exception of A coy on outpost covering 4th Division HQ.
10.30 am Left for BUZANCY Chateau arriving at 12 noon and billeted in the Chateau grounds.
11.30 pm Marched to BILLY-SUR-OURCQ and billeted on 3.45 am on the 8th.
5.pm Marched to LAGNY via VILLERS-COTERETS arriving at 1.am and billeted in a farm.
2.30 pm Marched to BETHISY-ST-PIERRE via OURCY and billeted at 7.pm.
2.pm Marched to MAGNY ( COMPIEGNE ) via LA CROIX ST OUEN arriving at 7.pm. During this march we passed through ST SAUVEUR and were recognised by the inhabitants.
10.15 pm Entrained but did not leave until 1.45 am.
6.pm Arrived at BLENDECQUES via AMIENS, ABBEVILLE and ETABLES and detrained. Billeted in a paper factory belonging to M.Scotsmans.
8.pm The battalion less two companies left in French motor wagond for HONDEGHEM. Remaining two companies under Major Lambert left at 10.pm. Both parties arrived at 2.30 am. The first party having lost their way. The day was spent in the streets of BLENDECQUES waiting for the motors.
10.am Marched to FLETRE via CAESTRE and billeted in FLETRE church, arriving 6.pm. We remained outside the village from 2.pm to 6.pm in heavy rain while the 10th and 12th brigade attacked METEREN.
9.am Marched to METEREN.
11.15 am Arrived METEREN and took over advanced guard to IV Division at 12,15 pm.
1.15 pm The battalion ( less 2 coys ) reached BAILLEUL as van guard to the Division. The remaining 2 coys ( B and C ) under Major Lambert following at the head of the advance guard. With the exception of a few shells from a light gun no opposition was met and the battalion billeted in a farm just over the Belian frontier at 5.30 pm. D and B coys were on outpost.
The battalion left billets at 1.30 pm and arrived at NEUVE EGLISE at 2.30 pm. A and C coys were sent to take up an outpost line covering the village. The remainder of the battalion found billets in the village.
5.pm Orders were recieved to advance on NIEPPE.
6.45 pm Advance commenced ( the outpost coys having been withdrawn ) and arrived at ROMARIN at 8.30 pm where orders were recieved to hold the high ground West of PLOEGSTEERT and await further orders. C compamy were ordered to hold this high ground while the rest of the battalion rested in the village of ROMARIN>
1.30 pm Left ROMARIN and arrived at LE VEAU near NIEPPE at 3.pm and billeted there.
Rested at LE VEAU.
1.am Ordered to proceed to LE BIZET. Arrived 3.am and remained until 9.am as support to 12th brigade. When we were ordered via the PONT DE NIEPPE to ARMENTIERES, where we halted for dinners within the grounds of the lunatic asylum.
4.pm Ordered to attack L'EPINETTE but as darkness came on before a proper reconnaissance could be made and it was uncertain what troops were ahead of us, this order was cancelled and we were ordered to billet in ARMENTIERES.
9.30 pm Orders to billet were cancelled and orders were recieved to proceed to CHAPLE D'ARMENTIERES as support to 17th brigade.
11.30 pm Arrived at CHAPLE D'ARMENTIERES and dug in along road facing East on either side of the railway line.
Rested at CHAPLE D'ARMENTIERES.
10.45 am Orders were recieved from G.O.C 17th brigade to proceed to WEZ MACQUART and reinforce his brigade as the German's had broken through the line at dawn. Arrived about 12 noon but were not required until the evening.
About 6.pm A and D coys were sent to dig and line trenches just East and South East of the village. C company ( under Capt Goldie ) were sent towards PREMESQUES to support the 17th brigades firing line ( one platoon under Lt Dowling going up the hill to fill a gap between N.Stafford ans Leinster regt's ) B coy under Capt Coventry were sent to a point half way between WEZ MACQUART and PORTE EGAL where they took up a covering position while the 3/Rifle brigade dug themselves in at rear.
10.pm Orders recieved to proceed to ARMENTIERES. A coy 3 platoons, C coy and D coy left at 11.15 pm.
12.15 am Arrived at ARMENTIERES and after a short rest in the market square were ordered to go to PLOEGSTEERT were we arrived at dawn and found that the German's had made a night attack and captured the village of LE GHEER.
About 6.am Orders recieved to counter attack the German position at LE GHEER through BOIS DE PLOEGSTEERT. D company ( under Major Green ) and A company ( under Capt Clayhills ) were ordered to carry out the attack.
The companies were extended by platoons. One platoon behind the other and gained the East edge of the wood without opposition. When half way through the wood a message was recieved that the Somerset Light Infantry would co-operate with us and advance from the North edge of the wood. Having captured the wood we faced South and discovered the German's lining a natural ditch in the open country which we took flank, killing and wounding a large number of the enemy. Number 16 platoon then charged led by Ly Hughes who was killed while charging. From this point we pushed on South, C company being sent to line the trenches recaptured from the German's.
6.pm Orders recieved to attack LE TOUQUET in co-operation with the Essex and B company, who had gone to their support, but as patrols were unable to get touch with the Essex Regt or to locate the enemy we were held in readiness to support the attack from the West. When the attack had finished the two coys concerbed ( A and D ) retired to a supporting position in the rear. One platoon from each coy going into the trenches to help C coy.
4.45 Am Enemy attacked supported by machine guns, but were easily repulsed. Remainder of the day quiet except for one hours heavy shelling at 9.am and 5.pm. Took over longer line ie from LA GHEER cross roads to LE TOUQUET cross roads inclusive. A and B coys took over the trenches at dusk.
All quiet. C and D coys relieved A and B in the trenches at dusk.
1.15 am Enemy attacked supported by Artillery and machine gun fire. The attack was repulsed with the aid of our Artillery. Major Green was wounded during the attack. Remainder of the day quiet.
All quiet till 11.pm when enemy attacked for an hour and were repulsed. A very wet night and rifles got badly choked with clay.
All quiet, some shelling chiefly on convent. A and B coys relieved C and D in the trenches at dusk.
Shelled in the morning and afternoon. C and D coys dug supporting trenches behind the Rifle brigade.
Shelled at 11.am and again in the afternoon for 2 hours at a time. Digging behind Rifle brigade continued.
Enemy's heavey Howitzers started shelling at 11.am. One shell wrecked the kitchen of battalion HQ at the inn at the cross roads and compelled HQ to quit and occupy the cottage in the wood some 200 yards further back. Heavy shelling again in the afternoon and at 7.pm we were attacked all along the line for an hour, but the enemy was repulsed. Trenches behind Rifle brigade completed.
Heavy shelling all day from 7.15 am with heavy rifle and machine gun fire at intervals. As an attack was believed to be imminent C coy was ordered up to support A and B coys in the trenches. Three platoons were sent into the trenches while the fourth was held in support in trenches on edge of PLOEGSTEERT WOOD. The relief by the Somerset Light Infantry was cancelled. We were attacked again at 3.pm but again repulsed the enemy. Casualties 2 killed and 8 wounded.
Enemy started with the heavey Howitzers at 7.45 am and continued all day. Coveys of four came at a time, also coveys of field gun shrapnel, the din was defeaning. The cottage in the wood was hit by a shell and wrecked and battalion HQ moved to the inn " LA BELLE PROMENADE " some 800 yards behind the trenches on the LA GHEER-PLOEGSTEERT road. 2nd Lt Stanley killed, Lt Dowling sick to hospital.
Heavy shelling all day. Capt E.Coventry killed.
4.am First bomb ( Minenwerfer ) fired at our trenches. Shelling had been heavy since 2.am and continued all day.
5.am Infantry attacked on the left and were repulsed. Remainder of the day quiet. Capt G.Clayhills DSO and 2Lt T.H.Mathewe killed.
The Minenwerfer began firing again at daybreak and destroyed our forward trench South of the WARNETON road burying 15 men of whom only 2 were got out alive. Our Howitzers finally got onto it and knocked it out about 9.am.
All quiet, Relieved by Hampshire regt about 6.pm and went into the reserve in 3 farms behind PLOEGSTEERT WOOD. A and C coys under Major Lambert in one, and B and D coys in seperate ones.
In reserve, dug trenches on hill 63.
5.am Stood to arms owing to German attack on Worcester regt on Eastern front of PLOEGSTEERT WOOD. The German's broke through from the WARNETON road Northwards for about 600 yards. We remained standing to arms until 3.pm, when orders were recieved to counter attack.
3.pm Moved to Worcestrer HQ in the wood and after consultation with O.C Worcester's pushed on towards LE GHEER. D and A coys attacked LE GHEER cross roads and Worcester main trench which they carried with slight loss. B coy which since 2.pm had been in support of the Hampshire regt, rejoined at LE GHEER cross roads.
Major T.S.Lambert wounded and Capt L.F.Cane killed.
10.pm C and B coys moved North, then right resting on trench now occupied by A and D coys, and then left on the wood. Advance checked by enemy in the kink of the wood.
12.30 am B and C coys supported by battalion machine guns attacked kink in the wood ( under Capt Goldie ) Attacked repulsed with heavy loss and we dug in with the right on the reoccupied trench and left on the wood facing North just before dawn. The remainder of the day was quiet.
Casualties 8 November
2Lt L.D.Waud killed
Lt E.B.M.Delmege to hospital
Other ranks 16 killed and 31 wounded.
Enemy in kink of the wood heavily shelled during the day. Casualties 6 killed 15 wounded.
11.pm C coy in conjunction with 2 coys A and S highlanders and 2 coys Lancashire Fusiliers again attacked the kink in the wood, and C coy captured a German trench whick was weakly held.As the other 2 regiments did not make progress the attack was discontinued.
Casualties 9 November 1 killed and 6 wounded.
B and C and D coys intermittently shelled. A light gun which enfiladed a large part of our trenches causing considerable loss. Causualties 2 killed and 9 wounded.
Shelling by light gun continued, Casualties 3 killed and 8 wounded.
Shelling by light gun continued, Casualties 6 killed and 11 wounded.
Shelling by light and heavy guns continued, Casualties 8 killed and 17 wounded. Capt Goldie Wounded and Lt Warner Wounded ( died on the 16th )
Shelling by light and heavy guns continued, Casualties 1 killed and 4 wounded.
Shelling continued, Casualties 2 killed and 6 wounded.
Shelling not so severe. We were relieved by the Hampshire regt at night and went into billets at NIEPPE ( arrived 18th ). During this last week the light field gun caused great loss to B,C and D coys. Capt Preston killed.
2.am Arrived NIEPPE and rested.
Battalion washed and marched to new billets in ARMETIERES.
4.30 pm Marched to LA GHEER and took over original trenches from Essex regt by 8.pm.
All quiet with occasional shelling. Officers leave began.
All quiet, occasional shelling. Lt Col Lawrence during absense on leave of Major General Hunter-Weston took up the command of the 11th Infantry brigade. Capt Rutter took command of the battalion.
All quiet with occasional shelling.
All quiet with occasional shelling.
All quiet with occasional shelling. B coy under Lt's Wade and Parker was inspected by H.M the king at PONT DE NIEPPE. Lt Col Lawrence as acting brigadier was in command of the 11th Infantry Brigade parade.
All quiet with occasional shelling. Capt C.Fletcher wounded on the 3rd.
All quiet with occasional shelling. Lt Col Lawrence rejoined the battalion.
All quiet with occasional shelling. D.Bent was awarded the VC.
All quiet with occasional shelling. Capt G.M.Smith wounded on the 15th.
The Somersets and Rifle brigades attacked the the kink in the wood supported by Artillery and machine gun fire. The battalion Co-operated by keeping up a heavy fire on the enemies trenches opposite them.
All quiet with occasional shelling.
Christmas day. No shots being fired at all. An informal truce being held.
All quiet, A coy of the London Rifle brigade took over the convent trenches from D coy who went to wash at NIEPPE.
All quiet, and no sniping.
All quiet, Sniping recommended.
Sniping heavy. Communication trenches badly flooded. 2Lt Hoare died of wounds.
Enemy shelled second line. Lt N.A.Nesson wounded. Capt G.M.Smith rejoined from hospital and assumed command of D coy.
Second line shelled by enemyHeavy Howitzers fired on convent-used as Capt Smith's HQ.
Nothing to report.
No change. Lt Col Lawrence on leave, Capt E.F.Rutter assumes command.
No change. Ly Col Lawrence back from leave again takes over command.
Battalion HQ shelled by shrapnel morning and afternoon. No serious damage.
Battalion HQ again lightly shelled.
Still at LE GHEER. 6.30 pm Major General Hunter Weston inspected trenches. Capt Hopkinson sick to hospital.
Sunny and frosty day. Enemies aeroplane observers up. Intermittent shelling. Lt Tosswill sick to hospital. 2Lt Wolseley wounded.
Situation quiet, no shelling.
Very quiet day. Major General Hunter Weston inspected the reserve coy at NIEPPE.
Very quiet day. No shelling and very little sniping. 2Lt Dickinson sick to hospital.
Bright sunshine resulted in shelling of PLOEGSTEERT, otherwise quiet. Lt Dodwell sick to hospital.
No change in situation.
Quiet day, very little sniping. Lt Dodwell returned from hospital.
Orders recieved for extra alertness and for supporting and reserve coys to hold themselves up in readiness, as from information supplied by ALSATIANS who had given themselves up, the enemy was expected to take the general offensive. Support company ordered to sleep in its equipment. All was quiet.
All quiet. Lt C.E.M.Richards sick to hospital.
Fairly heavy shelling. 60 heavy H.E enemy shells at convent which broke in the cellar used as company HQ by D coy and wounded 3 men.
Nothing to record.
Heavy shelling of POEGSTEERT and the field battery behind us.
The Convent shelld again otherwise all quiet.
No change, convent shelled in afternoon.
Convent shelled, no damage. situation unchanged. Enemy opened rifle fire onto one of our aeroplanes. we replied on their trenches.
Village shelled but no damage done. Capt B.W.Molony killed.
Quiet day. About 25 shells fell in LA GHEER but did no damage.
About 20 shells on defences. 5 wounded.
Convent lightly shelled. 1 wounded.
Usual shelling, no change. 7th Notts and Derbyshires ( North Midlands territorial brigade ) attatched to us to learn French warfare. Casualties 2 killed 1 wounded.
All quiet. Casualties 1 killed ( found drowned )
All quiet no shelling.
Situation unchanged. 3 wounded.
Situation reports were ordered to be sent in every 2 hours. These to have special reference to the movement of the enemy. All was very quiet throughout the day. Orders from the brigade were recieved to occupy and place in a state of defence the burnt out farm 150 yards East of the convent.
Under cover of a very dark night one platoon of B coy advanced to the farm and formed a covering party while a working party built up breastworks inside and loopholed the walls. Meanwhile A coy dug communication from our main line of trenches to the farm. This work was carried out with the loss of only one man and one wounded.
A quiet day. Work on defences and communication trenches of Burnt Out Farm continued. A conference of commanding officers was held at brigade HQ and arrangements for the brigade line to be held by two battalions with one battalion in support and one in reserve were discussed. The London Rifle brigade to permanently hold a company in the front line on the right.
Orders for the re adjustment of the defence areas were recieved. Our defences from the Convent to the WARNAVE road were to be handed over to the London Rifle brigade. From their left to the left of the present Hampshire regt line was known as the centre section of the brigade defences. This was to be held alternately by the Hampshire regt and the East Lancs regt, each of which when out of the front line was to be alternately in support around POEGSTEERT and in reserve at NIEPPE. Casualties 1 wounded.
Arrangements for changes in the defensive areas were continued and completed. Enemy was quiet. Fortiforcations of Burnt Out Farm were continued. Casualties 1 wounded.
A wire from the brigade cancelled all arrangements for alternation of defensive areas and ordered the battalion to be prepared to move on the night of 15th-16th after handing over the trenches. Arrangements for the move were made and officers of the 83rd Infantry brigade who were to take over the defences were shown around in the evening at 9.30 pm. Orders for the move were cancelled until further orders owing to the German attack on the 27th Division. B coy was moved from NIEPPE to the RESERVE FARM instead of relieving D coy in the trenches. C coy stood fast at the support farm ( Lawrence Farm ) instead of relieving A coy in the trenches. Casualties 2 wounded.
A quiet day. The usual distribution and programme of relief of the companies was resumed. Casualties 1 wounded.
Operation orders from the brigade to the effect that the 11th Infantry brigade ( less HQ and 3 coys of East Lancs regt ) would hand over the line to 83rd Infantry brigade. The HQ and 3 coys E.Lancs as well as the fourth coy in NIEPPE were to be attatched to the 12th Rifle brigade and remain in their line. This order was cancelled in the evening and the brigade stood fast.
The trenches occupied by the two right platoons were handed over to the London Rifle brigade, who took over the Convent and the houses in rear of these trenches as well as Burnt Out Farm in advance. The line was still held by 2 coys who closed up to the left thus thickening our line which extended from the Convent to the LE GHEER-WARNETON road both exclusive.
HQ of the right company to be at RUTTERS LODGE and of left company at ESTAMINET A LA PAIX. Orders for the readjustment of the defence areas similar to those recieved on the 11th and 12th were recieved. The Hampshire regt and East Lancs regt to occupy the front line of the centre section of the brigade defences alternately for period of 6 days. Casualties 1 wounded.
A quiet day. In the evening B coy moved from support to reserve in NIEPPE. This left A and D coys in the trenches, C and D in NIEPPE. Casualties 1 killed.
Battalion HQ and A and D coys moved to NIEPPE.
Brigade reserve in NIEPPE. Company training.
Orders recieved regarding a further readjustment of the brigade defenceareas. The Hampshire regt and the East Lancs regt were made responsible for the right section of defence which extended from under track running East-West past Lawrence Farm to the line GERMAN HOUSE-REGENT STREET inclusive.
The battalion ( less B coy washing ) did a route march of 9 miles. Only one man fell out which was good after 5 months trench warfare.
Battalion recieved the Hampshire regt in the front line. Coys were ditributed as follows. A coy from LE GHEER-WARNETON ROAD to the T trench. B coy from LE GHEER-WARNETON ROAD as far South as the cinder track ( where it was in touch with the Rifle Infantry of 12th brigade ) C coy in the breastworks in PLOEGSTEERT WOOD to the rear of A coy, and D coy on the left of C coy also in breastworks in the wood and in touch on the left with London Rifle brigade in holding the centre section of the brigade defences.
All quiet. Day spent improving breatworks and trenches. Casualties 1 wounded.
All quiet. 5th Lincoln regt attatched for instruction. Casualties 1 killed.
All quiet. 3 wounded on 29th.
All quiet. Hampshire regt moved up and relieved the battalion which withdrew into support at 8.pm Distibution of coys as follows.- A and B coys in HUNTERSTON NORTH and SOUTH respectively-there coys coming under the orders of O.C the left section of the brigade defences. C coy in TOUQET BERTHE FARM coming under orders of the O.C right section of brigade defences, and D coy in the 1875 FARM coming with battalion HQ and and one coy London Rifle brigade under the immidiate orders of the brigadiers.
2Lt Forster accidently blew off the thumb and two first fingers of his right hand in attempting to uncharge the detonator of a hand grenade at 5.pm.
Coys supplied fatigues for work on the brigade defences.
PLOEGSTEERT. Coys engaged in fatigue work on the brigade defences, battalion in support. 1 killed and 3 wounded on the 1st April.
7.30 pm The battalion relived the Hampshire regt in the fron line. Coys were ddistributed as follows-A coy in the breatworks at the South-East end of PLOEGSTEERT WOOD, B coy in the breatworks North of there. C coy from LE GHEER cross roads to the left of 12th brigade and D coy in the old Hampshire trench to the North of c coy and in front of A coy.
All quiet. Work continued on communication breastworks from the wood to the cross roads and fron the cross roads to PALK VILLA and on mining operations from second house.
4th Oxford and Buckinghampshire light Infantry attatched for instuction between 7-10 April.
Casualties 1 wounded ( 7th) 1 killed ( 8th) 2 wounded ( 10th ).
All quiet. 9.30 pm The battalion was relieved by the Hampshire regt and moved into reserve at NIEPPE. Operation orders were recieved to the effect that the 11th Infantry brigade less London rifle brigade would be relieved by 1st South Midland brigade on night 15th-16th Apriland would move to STEENWERK.
Day spent cleaning up after the trenches. Company training.
Company training. Operation orders recieved to the effect that the battalion would move from NIEPPE by 5.15 pm on on 15th April and relieve the Kings Own in trenches at LE TOUQUET and while there to be attatched to 12th brigade. Arrangements for the move made. Coy commanders visited Kings Own trenches.
Arrangements for the move completed. All officers inspected the Kings Own line.
5.15 pm Clear of NIEPPE.
Relief carried out by companies at quarter hour intervals. A coy took over trenches on the left, B coy in the centre and C coy on the right. D coy took over the local reserve immediately in the rear.
Casualties 1 wounded.
The enemy shelled a white house in the copse 100 yards in the rear of B coy defences. The house was unoccupied and though the enemy put 58 shells of different types ( mostly LITTLE WILLIES and WHITE HOPES ) in its neighbourhood no damage was done. At dusk the snipers houses held by C coy and the railway barricade held by A coy were bombed with rifle grenades. The fire was replied to by our Grenadiers and the enemy silenced.
Casualties 1 killed.
The enemy Artillery did not shell the defences. At dusk snipers houses and the barricade were again grenaded. No damage was done and two bombs were returned for one.
Casualties 1 wounded.
B coy were lightly shelled with no effect. Otherwise all quiet.
A quiet day but enemy shelled LE BIZET church heavily-the shells passing over our heads.
7.30 pm The Kings Own moved up and relieved the battalion by companies.
9.30 pm LE BIZET Battalion billeted in support to the Kings Own.
Day spent in washing and cleaning up after trenches.
Route marching and company training.
Route marching and company training.
7.30 pm LE TOUQUET The Kings Own moved up and reieved the battalion by companies. The companies occupied the same positions as on the last tour in these trenches.
light shelling by Little willy. Casualties 1 killed.
Light shelling on our lines by the enemy. Our own 4.7 guns dropped a shell by North block wounding two men.
Casualties 1 killed.
Little Willy very active. About 70 shells were fired on out trenches. They did no damage. The enemies Grenadiers were very active on the left. One of their rifle grenades by luck dropped into our trench killing 1 and wounding 3. One other wounded this day.
8.pm Orders recieved that 12th brigade will be relieved on 28th. That the battalion will be prepared to move in the morning.
9.pm LE BIZET relief by Kings Own completed. battalion moved back into support.
11.pm Warning order that battalion will be ready to move by 1.pm recieved.
3.30 am Machine gun withdrawn from Kings Own line.
1.10 pm Started from LE BIZET.
5.pm Arrived at billets in the farms South of the level crossing 2 miles South East of BAILLEUL.
5.15 pm Left BAILLEUL and proceeded in motor buses to cross roads East of VLAMERTINGHE. Where orders were recieved to narch to VERLORENHOEK.
11.30 pm Left VLAMERTINGHE, marched through the GRANDE PLACE OF YPRES to 11th brigade HQ at VERLORENHOEK. There tools were issued and the battalion marched to ZEVENKOTE ( East of ZONNEBEKE ) where it arrived at 3.am ( 30th ) and proceeded to dig in at dawn. Fortunately the morning was misty and the battalion was fairly well under coverbefore the enemies aeroplane came over.
The march from VLAMERTINGHE was carried out without any casualties despite the fact that the enemy was shelling the road the whole way from all sides of the acute salient in our line in front of YPRES.
Battalion remained in reserve and spent a quiet day withexception of the transport which was heavily shelled on its up at night.
Casualties 2 wounded.
ZEVENKOTE-Remained in reserve trenches. A few light shells on our lines, but owing to no fires being lighted and the posting of aeroplane sentries we were not deliberately shelled.
All quiet up to 5.pm at which hour an intense bombardment began on our front lines on the North of the Salient. This bombardment lasted for two hours and the batteries near the position occupied by the battalion were severely shelled, but our own trenches were left alone.
Communication between the four battalions of the brigade and the brigade HQ was brokenand 8 orderlies from the East Lancs went up to the front with message and returned with answers through all the shelling.
8.30 pm C coy under Capt F.E.Belchier moved up to support 1st Somerset Light Infantry and dug in rear of their fron line.
11.pm D coy under Capt G.M.Smith moved up to suppoert the London Rifle brigade who had lost very heavily.
Front line trenches of the brigade heavily shelled all day. Communication between brigade HQ and Hampshire regt and London Rifle brigade kept up by our own orderlies when lines were broken. Operation orders for a withdrawal recieved.
8.pm HQ and A and B coys under Lt Canton and Capt Leake respectively moved up to support the London Rifle brigade. A gap between the lines of this regiment and the Hampshires was occupied.
10.30 pm HQ and A and B coys less one platoon from each coy left the trenches and withdrew ( via WIELTJE over number 2 platoon bridgeon the YSER canal ) to ELVERDINGHE where at they arrived at 4.30 am.
The remaining 2 platoons under the command of Major E.F.Rutter left the trenches at 12 Midnight and followed the rear of the battalion to ELVERDINGHE. C and D coys joined and the 11th Infantry brigade billeted in the Chateau grounds.
8.pm The battalion moved with the rest of the brigade to the woods 1 mile East of OOSTHOEX it billeted.
Remained at rest. The corps commander General Plumer inspected the lines.
With a view to the battalion relieving the Monmouth regt in the front line the HQ officers, company commanders and machine gun officers visited this regiments lines in the trenches at about 11.pm.
12.15 pm The brigade moved to the grounds of the Chateau in VLAMERTINGHE and acted as corps reserve.
7.30 pm Marched via number 2 plantoon bridge ( to North of YPRES ) and LA BRIQUE to relieve the Monmouths.
9.30 pm The battalion was halted on the road near LA BRIQUE and Colonel Lawrence went to brigade HQ were he was informed that the enemy who had been heavily attacking the line all day had got into WIELTZE, so getting in rear of the flanks of the Salient.
Colonel Lawrence was ordered to proceed with the Arglye and Sutherland Highlanders on his right and take up a reserve line of defence known as the G.H.Q line. Running North and South 700 yards East of WIELTZE. Any enemy in WIELTZE were to be turned out.
The battalion moved along the second class road running East and West through squares C20, 21 and 22. Up to the cross roads North of WIELTZE where the companies deployed. A to the left of the road and B to the right. C coy followed on the road and D coy in reserve, 500 yards in the rear.
A and B coys advanced under Major Rutter and occupied the trenches without opposition at 1.40 am. C coy followed an hour later and HQ and D coy as reserve moved to road junction C 21 d, where trenches by the roadside were occupied. On the left of the battalion were the Monmouths holding SHELL TRAP FARM ( MOUSETRAP FARM ) and on the right the Dublin Fusiliers.
The trenches were fairly heavily shelled all dayand a 3.30 pm a very heavy bombardment with enfilded fire started and lasted about 2 hours. No Infantry attack developed.
Situation as before but not such heavy shelling as on 9th. 3 platoons of B coy which had occupied a trench in front of our wire filled in this trench, and 2 platoons joined D coy in reserve while the third dug in in immediate support to A coy on the left.
D coy and B coy less 1 platoon in the breastworks dug in on a new support line 200 yardsin rear of the front line.
Steady bombardment of the trenches with JACK JOHNSONS continued throughout most of the day. A cot suffered severely.
An intense bombardment of the line at 3.30 am and about 7.am the enemy Infantry attacked. They were driven off with heavy losses by C coy on the right but on the left suceeded in entering Shell Trap Farm which was garrisoned by Rifle brigade. This resulted in A coy being taken in the rear and enfilade by their snipers.
The breastworks had been very seriously damaged in the bombardment and a few men in the company gave way, but the remainder in the breastworks brought heavy rifle fire to bear on the enemyin the farm, and assisted by C coy of the Essex regt which came up, drove the enemy from the farm which then became neutral ground.
B coy under Capt Leake was sent up and reinforced A coys breastworks and C coys of the Essex regt who dug themselvesin in the shell holes West of the farm.
At 8.pm 2 platoons of B coy in the shell holes by the farm advanced into the farm to occupy it. Unfortunately the three officers were shot and the farm was not gained. A platoon of D coy under Lt Lane which had been brought up entered the farm and occupied the buildings and there Lt Lane was killed.
2 platoons of D coy were then sent in. These occupied the buildings and then advanced and occupied the trenches in front of the farm and immediately inside the moat. There Capt Smith who had been away from the company on a reconnaissance joined his 3 platoons and took command.
C coy of the Essex regt moved back into the divisional support line, B coy less 1 platoon was withdrawn to the retrenchment it had occupied before it reinforced the left of the line and Lt Parks was put in command of it.
Lt Richards commanded the breastworks between Shell Trap Farm and C coys trenches on the right and manned it with the remaining platoon of D co, 1 platoon of B coy and 1 platoon of A coy. The remainder of A coy was withdrawn to the retrenchment with B coy. Two companies less 1 platoon of the South Lancashire regt were also sent up to the retrenchment and these with the rest of their battalion-in trenches 500 yards further back were placed at the disposal of Colenal Lawrence.
At 10.30 am a report reached battalion HQ that the enemy were in Shell Trap Farm. A platoon of South Lancs were at once sent up to clear the situation.These entered the farm without opposition and held the buildings. The trenches in front were empty and the party of D coy had been captured. Another platoon of the South Lancs reinforced Lt Richards in the breastworks and a third occupied the shell holeswhich the Essex held on May 13th.
Two coys less 3 platoons of South Lancs regt moved up and reinforced the retrenchment. The rest of the day passed very quietly with prctically no shelling by the enemy.
At 8.pm two more platoons of the South Lancs regt were sent up to the front, one reinforcing the farm garrison and one Ly Richards.
11.pm The battalion relieved by the Monmouth regt and moved back to the divisional suppoert line.
unit was relieved on the 15th, total casualties since 9th May=387 killed, wounded and missing.
On the morning of the 13th the battalion was disposed as follows:
A coy under Lt Canton held breastworks close to Mouse Trap Farm, C coy under Capt Belchier hels a line of trenches on the right of A coy, and was in touch on the right with the London Rifle brigade. Bu company under Capt Leake was in support of A coy 200 yards in the rear, and D coy under Capt Smith supported C coy in some low ground another 200 yards to the rear. Battalion HQ was established in some grouse butts 500 yards in the rear of A coy. Major Rutter was placed in command of the two forward coys.
Dawn on the 13th broke in heavy rain which continued all day, and about 4.am the enemy commenced an intenses bombardment of the whole line and back areas, which continued until dusk ( The bombardment was said to be the heaviest that had hithero been experienced ) This bombardment caused much damage to the breastworks held by A coy with many casualties. C coy however in good trenches did not suffer to the same extent, and an attack on C coy between 7 and 7.30 am was easily repulsed by rifle and machine gun foire, but it was otherwise with A coy.
The attack on A coy commenced about 9.am, and was carried out by bombers covered by rifle fire from Mouse Trap Farm. It was believed that practically the whole of the 2 platoons of the 1st Rifle brigade in the farm were annihilated by the enemy's artillery fire. At one time over a hundred shells fell in the farm in one minute. In the breastwork nearest the farm manned by 2 platoons, Lt Knight and many men were killed and Lt Barr and the survivors were driven out.
The remaining breastworks held by A coy, with which were Major Rutter, Lt's Canton, Browne and Salt, were enfilded from both flanks and were shelled by heavy and light artillery: the heavy Howitzers fired salvos of four in quick succession, a fire under which it seemed that no man could survive. During lulls in the artillery fire the German bombers advanced to the attack, covered by their snipers lying close up to the wire.
The fighting was very hot: many bombers were shot by the survivors in the breastworks. Major Rutter and Lt Canton were killed while firing over the parapet, and Lt's Salt and Browne were wounded. Lt Salt though wounded in the head stuck to his post, and it is said that he shot some thirty German's, including an officer who was leading an attack and had demanded his surrender. Lt Salt recieved the Military Cross for his gallantry on this occassion.
During the action the fire from the farm was replied to from Shell holes and remains of breastworks, and Lance Corporal Thorne and Private Cowburn took up a position at the bridge over the farm moat; both men were wounded, but they hung on and prevented the enemy crossing the moat.