War Diary 20th Siege Battery R.G.A. Jun to Sep 15

WAR DIARY

 

Of

 

20th Siege Battery R.G.A.

 

From 18th June 1915– To 25th September 1915

 

Place        Date    Hour                                                Summary of Events and Information

June

TAUNTON  18th 7.10 a.m.                 Entrained for SOUTHAMPTON to embark for FRANCE.  Arrived Southampton 12.5 p.m.  Sent to rest camp for night – guns left in docks – Transport had embarked at AVONMOUTH on the 16th inst.

SOUTHAMPTON 19th 5 p.m.            Cast off & proceeded across Channel escorted by destroyers.  Arrived at

BOULOGNE          20th  3.a.m.          & commenced unloading at 8 a.m.  Transport & Capt Fenner arrived from Avonmouth same time.  These commenced unloading at 3 p.m.  men marched to ST MARTINS Camp abt 1.15 p.m.

Informed D.A. & Q.M.G. base that I should be ready to start day break on 22nd inst.

BOULOGNE    21st                            Caterpillars & lorries finished unloading by 9.30 a.m.  Belting for fan drive of caterpillars had to be procured.  Guns & lorries taken up the hill to Napoleon’s monument at 5 p.m.

22nd 5.30 a.m.            Guns & caterpillars, 1 officer & 20 men – started to march to AUTIGNES, about 22 miles – Men & lorries started at 7.15 a.m.  Caterpillars broke down once or twice, probably from going too fast, and did not arrive till 11 p.m.

AUTIGNES     23rd 9.15 a.m.             Under orders from G.H.Q. ST OMER.  Started for TILQUES about 10 miles.  Caterpillars arrived 4 p.m.

TILQUES        24th to 29th                  Waited at TILQUES.  Got orders to march to  HAZEBROUCK to join IInd Army.

30th 7.30 a.m.             Marched to HAZEBROUCK, about 17 miles.  Caterpillars & guns arrived 4 p.m.

July

HAZEBROUCK 1st 10.30 a.m.         Marched to POPERINGHE & then to ELVERDINGHE.  Most delayed at start by No 2 gun getting too close to ditch at starting & getting a wheel down – 3 horses to extract.  Got No 1 gun into position selected by Gen. Uniacke 2nd Group H.A.R. by 3 a.m.  Just getting light.  No 2 placed under trees.

 

July

ELVERDINGHE 2nd                         At work on position, luckily a dull day & no aeroplanes.  At 9 p.m. started to get No 2 gun in position: finished by 11 p.m.

3rd                          Telephone lines laid to forward observing position by Capt. FENNER.

4th                          Difficulties about water supply, which were overcome.

5th                          Shells about 100x to left flank of battery – pieces all over the battery.

6th                          Bombardment by 5th Division on our front at 5 a.m.  Infantry attack to take short length of trench quite successful.

7th                          Blowing hard & some rain.  3 rounds per gun were allotted to us to settle platforms.  Asked that aeroplane might observe these when it was possible to fire.  Looked for alternative position in afternoon.

8th                          Still blowing hard – Went with Kingscote to see a Forward Observing Station close to trenches.  Aeroplane work impossible.  West Riding Field Artillery arrived in evening.

9th                          Dull weather.  Aeroplane work impossible.

10th                          Dull weather.  Clouds low.  Aeroplane work impossible.

11th                          Too windy & cloudy.  Aeroplane work impossible.  Went in afternoon to see Left half Battery which had arrived in position at NIEPPE.

12th                          Nothing doing.

13th                          Unfavourable for aeroplane work.  About 16 – 4.2” shell round house in which Officers are billeted, looking for A.A. gun which was in action on previous evening behind house.

6 p.m.               Bombardment by Germans – Attack stopped by Our Artillery – Much firing which died away about 11 p.m.

14th 3p.m.                 3 rounds from No 1 in direction of LANGEMARCK Stn.  1st round only was observed –

1 round from  No 2  aeroplane then went home without a word.

15th                           To see Gen Uniake at H.Q. 2nd H.A.R.   Told I could fire 6 more rounds with aeroplane.  Went to look at another Forward Observing Station, with Capt. FENNER who had been taken round French Stations on previous day by French Officer Capt. MARTIN in charge of all French O.P.s  Previously I had made acquaintance of Commandant Ricard & several other French Officers of French Heavy Artillery.

16th                           Too rough to shoot.

17th                           Emptied No 2 gun in direction of LANGEMARCK.

18th                           To windy to shoot in morning. Prevented in evening by presence of German aeroplanes which circled in front of us for an hour and a half.

ELVERDINGHE 19th                        Registered cross roads at PILCKEM with 3 rds from No 1 in morning & LANGEMARCK Station with rounds from No 1 & No 2 in afternoon.  Again aeroplane went home before we had finished.  Much delayed by German aeroplanes which were frequently over us.

20th                       No firing.  Aeroplane came out to register at about 6.30 p.m. but Hostile aircraft were in front of battery.

21st                      Aeroplane went up three times to register 1st occasion 8 a.m.  Clouds too low.  2nd at 6 p.m. when Hostile aircraft were in front and 3rd at 7.30 p.m. Hostile aircraft still about – Aeroplane went home about 7.50 p.m. at which time Hostile aircraft disappeared also.

VERDINGHE        22nd                     Aeroplane should have gone up at 7 a.m. but prevented by engine trouble.

4 p.m.          Fired 12 rounds (5 from No 1 & 7 from No 2) into and about buildings in B.6.d.  Last round struck ruins of old brewery. Raining most of the time.  2nd charge used – accuracy moderately satisfactory.

23rd                       Sergeant Mason (pay sergeant) joined from base HAVRE.

2.45 p.m.     Fired 3 rounds from No 1 & 5 from No 2 at building in B.6.d. with 2nd charge & in very high wind (about 60 fs) all but first & last rounds hit buildings.

24th                      No firing.

25th                      112 rounds with 3rd charge at buildings in C/C.  Error of 3o  in line from No 1 to start with due probably to incorrect registration by airman on PILCKEM Crossroads – Direct hit at 7th round. – Observed from GAY FARM.

26th                     No firing went to BAILLEUL to see IIIrd Group H.A.R. & enquire about move to NIEPPE.

ELVERDINGHE   27th      11 a.m.   12 more rounds – Direct hit on house engaged with 3rd round – Put 4 rounds round mound reported to be machine gun emplacement – No sign of movement so went on to some houses beyond – hit some outbuildings – observed from high tree – all the above shooting was done by ranging on line of observation which was satisfactorily done.

28th 8 p.m.           Took guns out of position & got them clear of village by 9 p.m. to march to NIEPPE via BAILLEUL.  Guns arrived BALLEUL (14 ms) 4 a.m. on 28th.

Men & lorries left at 10 p.m. arriving LE ROSSIGNOL farm at 1.30 a.m. 27th.

NIEPPE                   28th 10 a.m.        Commenced to prepare battery position, guns remaining on road at BAILLEUL.

10 p.m.        Guns brought into position – arming completed by 12.30 a.m. on 28th.

29th                      Digging in continued.  Went with Major Swayne & Capt Coe over KEMMEL observation station.

NIEPPE             30th                       Made arrangements to shoot with aeroplane observation after 3 p.m.  At 2.15 p.m. received telephone message to prepare to cooperate in an attack – nothing happened however and it appeared afterwards that wireless had broken down.  

31st                      Stood by in case it might be possible to shoot.  Completed dug outs &c.  at 7 p.m. received orders to return at once to ELVERDINGHE.  Guns being loaded, were emptied over German lines at 8 p.m. and by 9.15 were on the road to BAILLEUL.  They arrived 3 miles short of POPERINGHE at 4 a.m. & stopped there the day.

 

 

August

1st   3.30 a.m.    Started personally to report to 2nd Group H.A.R. which I did at 5 a.m.  Remainder of battery started in lorries at about 7.30 a.m. & arrived ELVERDINGHE about 11.0 a.m.

Was instructed by H.A.R. 2nd Group to go into former position if I could find place for No 1 gun whose place was occupied by a 60 pr of Galloway’s.  Went to see Galloway at 7.0 a.m. he went out at 9.0 a.m. to see if he could find another place for his 60 pr.  I found a good position for 8” Hows about 900 yards behind former position.  Reported to H.A.R. about 11 a.m.  Gen Uniake agreed to this position & we went in.  Guns arrived at 8 p.m.

ELVERDINGHE       2nd 3 p.m.        14 rounds fired to register Standard line and one other target.  5th round from No 1 gun HIT & 4th round from No 2.  Line laid out by compass.

3rd 3.30 p.m.     17 rounds fired registering German trenches (2)

4th                     Raining & misty nothing doing.

5th 4.0 p.m.       13 rounds registering 2 buildings, first of which was hit.

6th 3.30 p.m.     3 rounds registering No 1 on railway cutting.

7th 2 a.m.          10 rounds bombarding, railway cutting touch & touch in C.7.a.0.5. to 2.4.

4 p.m.          9 rounds registering German redoubt C.7.a.8.0 &.2 & farm C.8.a.8.2 used O.P. post of 10” How Bty 4 How Bde W. Riding Divn.

 

 

ELVERINGHE        8th 2 a.m.        10 rounds as on 7th.

6.30 p.m. to 8.        20 rounds on two German trenches, redoubt & farm already registered.  Capt. Fenner at O.P. could observe nothing after 1st round as whole front was covered with smoke of bursting shells.  The French were cooperating from the left.  At 9.30 p.m. Capt. Fenner left O.P. post to return but missing his way in a field a short way from O.P. was caught by a flare & fired on with rifle & machine gun.  Eventually got to cover in a ditch where he had to remain the night.

9th 2.30 a.m to 3          Bombardment of German trenches. Battery then stood by in case targets should be sent down by wireless aeroplane.  Nothing was received however.

10th                   No firing.

11th                   20 rounds allotted for destruction of buildings  – much delayed by enemy aeroplane in front of battery – fired one round only when we got information that wireless aeroplane would range us on German 17” How in FOREST D’ HOUTHOULST – apparently at least 500 yards beyond our range.  Fired 2 rounds first reported “Just Right, range correct.”  Second “Line correct about 100x short”.

12th 2 p.m. to 3.30 p.m.  Twenty two rounds fired at German strong post in C.14.a in conjunction with 4th Siege Battery & 49th Divisional Artillery.  Shooting not very good about 6 hits but one round fell 200x short – All from No 2 gun of which elevating gear is very loose and a good deal worn.  Also there is no clamp to elevating gear which may also have a deleterious effect on shooting.  Observed from Canal Bank with Capt. Heaslop of 4th Siege.

13th                     Went to see Gen. Uniacke 2nd Group H.A.R. who instructed me to fire a few rounds if enemy opened in the Canal bank.  Took Lt. Spring down to F.O.P. of 10th Howitzer Battery (W. Riding Divn.).  Fairly quiet on canal bank.  No firing.

14th                      Quiet on canal bank in morning.  Went down in afternoon 1.30 p.m. with Capt. Heaslop 4th Siege to their O.P. to put 20 rounds into buildings round crossroads C.1.c.7.2.  no 1 gun 2nd charge.  Shot well in spite of wind but deflection for wind worked out at more than stated in Range Table.  Good deal of damage done to buildings and possibly trenches which are thick round that part.  In retaliation presumably at 5.0 p.m. enemy shelled in the direction, but well wide of, 4th Siege & then went on to 7th Siege whose cartridges were destroyed together with their tackle store.  At 6.10 p.m. message received to put 20 rounds into LANGEMARCK which was done at once.  Shelling than seemed to cease.

15th                     Quiet day.  No firing.

ELVERTINGHE  16th                    Went down to H.Q. 147th Infy Brigade to ask what they would suggest in way of retaliation.  Asked them to let us know through 4th Siege with whom we are in communication when shelling became heavy.  They seemed to think that this was the duty of the Artillery Liaison Officer.

8.30 p.m.    Moved No 1 gun to grounds of Red Chateau just behind old position with a view to taking on German 42 cm How. at extreme range (Map range 10,600).  Got into position & ready for action by 1 a.m.

17th                     Too misty to fire in morning – Commenced firing at about 3 p.m. – Fired 8 rounds of which last was reported as 30x from target – Delayed by presence of enemy machines & eventually fired 9th round about 7 p.m.

18th                     Prevented from firing in afternoon by enemy aeroplanes & observation balloon.  About 1.0 p.m. enemy shelled all round gun position with 4” gas and shrapnel – one shell 2x from L gun wheel & one 8x from tail – Gr Warwick v. slightly wounded.  Shelling due to working & digging parties that swarm all round, & no doubt seen by aeroplanes.

19th 10 a.m.        Put 20 rounds into German redoubt C.15.a.3.2.  Short run by Capt Fenner 15 reported as effective & doing material damage.

4 p.m.      6 rounds at 17” How.  Wind too much from North – 3 rounds unobserved and 3 rounds short – not worth going on – impossible to reach it.  Received orders at 5 p.m. to take No 1 gun back to its original position during night.

9 p.m.     No 1 gun shifted & taken back to original position.

20th                     No firing.

21st                     No firing rain & wind.

22nd 10.30 a.m.   5 rounds at trench near KIEL COTTAGE – stopped firing as enemy observation balloon could have seen flash through gap in trees.

23rd                     As No 1 gun could not take on targets to the South of the BOESINGHE railway a place was prepared for it on left of No 2 in farm yard under walnut tree & gun shifted up at 8.30 p.m. in position & covered up 9.30 p.m.

24th                     Fired 6 rounds 2 from new No 1 gun & 4 from No 2 at house C.1.d.8.5 which was registered as new STANDARD LINE.

25th                     No firing – weather very bright but misty on ground.  Stood by 5.30 p.m. as aeroplanes were making raid on Forest D’HOUTHOULST.  Too misty for wireless aeroplane to see any targets so nothing was done.

 

 

ELVERTINGHE 26th 11.20 a.m.   In morning fired 20 rounds into buildings C.8.a.8.2 reported to be utilised as a headquarters – much damage seemed to be done.  Just previously as a 5.9” battery was very active along BOESINGHE front, put 4 rounds into the position suspected – shelling ceased at once – possibly coincidence.

4 p.m.     Fired 2 rounds at Battery V.19.d.3.9 with wireless aeroplane up – both rounds N.O. possibly blind though by a mistake they were laid 1 ½ o L and with about 400 yards too much elevation.  Wireless then appeared to fail & machine went home.

27th noon            Fired 20 rounds at Detraining Platform, Transport Park & Huts of German Light railway in U.27.c & d.  Ranged with wireless aeroplane – good effect.

7.20 p.m.     6th Divn Trenches reported being crumped ordered to retaliate on trenches nearest to those being crumped.  Fired 20 rounds at Redoubt C.15.a. by 7.50 p.m.

28th 10 a.m.        Received message that Gen Uniacke wished me to inspect position of 25th Siege Bty South of VALMERTINGHE – went off at once & found section of 25th Bty had left the night before – Position very open but guns had been there since May undiscovered.

Noon          Saw Gen Uniacke who told me I might have to move down to above position – told me to go to Left half and see whether Capt. Coe’s gun could bear up to the north.  Went to see Coe & found gun could be arranged as desired: returned to

3 p.m.        Gen Uniacke who told me to move that night.

Retaliated for shelling of 49th Div trenches with 12 rounds at redoubt in C.15.a.  Message to say our shells were falling short near TURCO FARM.  Could find no reason for this: firing on previous registration but 1 degree R of line fired on night before as it had been decided that on that occasion we were too much to the left.  Heard no more of this so presumed they were over our trenches.

Fired 12 rounds with aeroplane observation at battery U.19.d.3.9.  5 hits on emplacements, the first round being given a hit.

7.30 p.m.   Pulled guns off platforms.

9.30 p.m.   Guns left for new position.

VALMERTINGHE 29th    1 a.m.       Guns in position & covered up.  Lieut Glass & detachments remained with them.  Remainder came over about 10.30 a.m.

30th 3.30 to 6.30 p.m.     Fired 31 rounds registering points on trenches near HOOGE J.13.a.2.1. J.13.c.3.9. & J.13.a.0.3.  Long ranges, over 8800, guns shooting apparently 300x over R table.

 

VALMERTINGHE

31st 4 to 6 p.m.    Fired 21 rounds registering BELLEWARDE FM., ECLUSETTE & trenches between.  Guns apparently shot 150x over R table.

 

 

Sept.

1st 4 a.m. to 4.30 a.m.    Fired 25 rounds into FORT 13 Elev 27o.

At 6 a.m. aeroplane arrived and 11 rounds were fired registering on points on trenches I.18.b.8.6, J.13.a.5.5. & 6.4. when presence of German aeroplane stopped further firing.

2nd 3.55 a.m.       28 rounds into J.13.a.5.5., 5.7., & 6.4.

7 a.m.          Registered J.13.a.5.0., J.13.c.7.8., J.13.c.4.7., – 14 rounds fired.  Also  J.13.c.9.2. at 8.25 a.m. 3 rounds.

2.5 p.m.        20 rounds at J.13.a.03 & 50 in retaliation.

3.35 p.m.      20 rounds at J.13.a.03 & 50 in retaliation.

5.45 p.m.      20 rounds at J.13.a.03 & 50 in retaliation.  Total fired during day 105.

3rd     3.45 a.m.      Weather v bad & platforms greasy – 12 rounds fired in bombardment.

4th      5.30 a.m.     6 rounds in bombardment I.18.b.9.9. to J.13.a.1.9 to J.7.c.11 to I.12.d.9.1. 4 rounds fired in unsuccessful registration.

23 rounds fired in bombardment 03 to 84 with aeroplane observation to start with.

6.35 p.m.     12 rounds in retaliation Q 48 to Q 44.

9.10 p.m.     12 rounds in retaliation Q 48 to Q 44.

5th      4.40 a.m.     14 rounds in bombardment Q 25 to Q 38.

12.5 p.m.     42 rounds in bombardment Q 25 to Q 38.

3.45 p.m.    12 rounds at trenches about Q 18 – Maj Creswell observing in front trench B.4.  Observation v difficult & complicated by the fact that 9.2s were firing in same direction at same time.

6th                          27 rounds expended in registering (at 2 different times) Q.8.0 & Q8.1 – observation probably very difficult for airman – most unsatisfactory shoot.

7th      6.45 a.m.     5 rounds registered both guns on Q82.  23 rounds in registering Q58, Q 48 Q 56, Q60.

8th                          19 rounds registering Q60, Q49 (both guns)

9th                          13 rounds registering Q 31, Q32, Q 43.

10th                         5 rounds in unsuccessful registration – plague of aeroplanes which prevented shooting.

 

 

11th    4.45 p.m.     9 rounds registering points Q.4.7 & Q.6.1. with aeroplane.

8 rounds checking registration of Q.3.6 (J.13.a.21) B.C. observing from hill 47.  it appeared that at least 1o (or about 200x) had to be added to original registration: possibly different cordite accounted for this, though subsequent shooting did not seem to prove that the lot used on this occasion was unusually low in M.V.

12th     11. a.m.      14 rounds fired – to register Q.75 with aeroplane: guns apparently shooting all over the place.

4 p.m.      Checking registration of the trench running N.W. from ECLUSETTE.   B.C. observing from hill 47.  result fairly satisfactory.  18 rounds fired.

13th    12.18 p.m.   4 rounds fired with aeroplane at Q. 69 after which machine had engine trouble & went home.

2.45 p.m.   Deputation of French Officers came round to see guns: Capt. Fenner forward but telephone line was cut & no communication at time.  3 rounds fired at Q. 36.

14th    11.50 a.m.   11 rounds in retaliation on Q.28 & Q.43.

15th      2.30 p.m.   12 rounds in unsuccessful registration with aeroplane of I.12.a.47 – 6 rounds N.O.

16th                        Both guns had Elevating gears taken up as much as possible in workshop of M.T. A.S.C. 5th Brigade, and 19 rounds expended in trial of both guns on Q. 36 result satisfactory.

18th      5.0 a.m. to 5.30.    Bombardment – 30 rounds fired on I.12.a.47 -72 – 85 (6 misfires)

6.40 a.m.   Registered with aeroplaneI.12.a.85, I.12.a.77 & I.12.b.36 – 14 rounds fired.

3 p.m.        16 rounds fired in unsatisfactory registration with aeroplane.

19th 4.50 to 5.20 a.m.        32 rounds fired in bombardment Q 69 to I.12.a.71.

10 a.m. to 10.30 a.m. 30 rounds fired in bombardment I.18.b.76 -67- 69.

11.30 a.m.     Registration with aeroplane – I.12.a.47, I.6.c.3 ½. 4, I.12.c.79.  18 rounds fired.

3.25 p.m.     Registration with aeroplane I.12.b.0.2 ½ & I.12.b.5.3 (unsuccessful) 17 rounds fired I.6.c.7.0 & I.6.c.45.

5.25 p.m.     10 rounds fired in retaliation – Total fired this day 107 rounds.

20th    12.15 p.m.   40 rounds fired at trenches S.E. of BELLEWARDE FARM:  B.C. observing from hill 47 – satisfactory result.

21st   5.5 a.m. to 5.45 a.m.             20 rounds fired in bombardment I.12.a.77 to 85.

1 p.m.        Ranged by wireless on trench I.12.a.64 -71 – 11 rounds

2.15             Continued                                                    – 3 rounds

4.22             Continued                                                    – 20 rounds Trench reported by airman well strafed except southern end.

 

 

22nd   12.15 p.m.    20 more rounds fired with wireless at above trench.

4 – 4.30 p.m.           24 rounds in bombardment.

23rd    4 a.m. to 4.25          20 rounds in bombardment on area I.12.a.71 – 80 & I.12.c.79.

7.35 a.m.    Registered with wireless I.12.d.29 – 7 rounds

12.45 p.m.  Did in, with wireless, trench I.12.d.29 – I.12.c.8 ½.9 – 33 rounds – satisfactory results.

24th 3.50 to 4.30 a.m.        40 rounds in bombardment – 13 misfires.

3.5 p.m.     20 rds on trenches I.18.b.99 – 07 -16.

3.31 p.m.   10 rds on trenches I.13.a.43-45.

25th 3.50 a.m.        Bombardment – HOOGE attack – 29 rounds to 4.20 a.m.

4.20                              Infantry attacked lifted to 94 -85 – 77 – 6 rounds

4.30               Lifted again to 36 – 29                          – 29 rounds – total 64 rounds

8.46 a.m.       Fired at 2’ interval 30 rounds at from 85 – 77.

10.23             Fired at Trenches J.12.a.77 – 76 -85   – 40 rounds.

11.42             35th round was premature at No 1 gun, burst 15 yards from muzzle – Killed Br. Powell, who was laying No 2.  Apparently by shock and Gr. Moss shell number at No 1 & wounded 7 others (5 slightly).  Piece of base pierced buffer tank putting gun out of action.

3.25 p.m.       No 2 fired 10 rds at I.12.a.47

11 p.m.          No 2 fired 8 rds on night line I.12.a.47.  total rounds this day 152.

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