WAR DIARY Of Headquarters 55th W. Lancs Divisional Artillery April 1916

WAR DIARY Of Headquarters 55th W. Lancs Divisional Artillery

 

From 1st April 1916 to 30th April 1916

 

April 1st 8.30 a.m.   8th Lancs How Bty fired on active hostile battery X.10.c.60.24 getting direct hits on 3 emplacements – 2 explosions – aeroplane observation.  10th & 11th Lancs Batteries Kept fired salvoes of shrapnel during the night to prevent removal of guns.

3 p.m.        Centre Group carried out bombardment in accordance with attached – result not very satisfactory – barrier was not completely breached.                                                                                       Appendix I

2nd       1.30 p.m.      WAILLY was heavily shelled –

3 p.m.         6 H.A.G. – 6” Hows – 8” How – 9.2” Hows 2 4.7 batteries – 1 60 pr battery-

D.A. – 5 18 pr batteries – and – 2 4.5 How Batteries retaliated on FICHEUX.

6 p.m.         18 prs again fired on FICHEUX for further shelling of WAILLY – results satisfactory –

3rd         3 p.m.         Bombardment in accordance with Appendix II – Result most satisfactory – the 9.2” How levelled the house to the ground.  The enemy retaliated at 4 p.m. on BRETENCOURT – in reply to this 6th H.A.G. 2 4.7 batteries 1 60 pr battery, 2 8″ Hows, 1 9.2” How with French heavy guns responded on HENDECOURT

5.45 p.m.     55 D.A. 3 4.5 How batteries – 2 18 pr batteries responded on HENDECOURT.

There was some further retaliation to which 2 4.5” How batteries made instant reply.             Appendix II

3/4th     After dark    Relief of 68th by A/123rd and 88th by D/124th Batteries in accordance with Order No 15 as amended by Order No 18.     Appendix III.

4/5th     After dark    Section 12th Lancs Bty from Right to Left Group to form 6 gun bty with A/123rd.                         Appendix IV

5th        11 a.m.        Relief of 14th Bde H.Q. and B.A.C. by Section 123rd B.A.C. completed –

6th        6 p.m.         For 4.2” How fire on F Sector. R/4 W.L. and 7th Lancs How Bty replied on German front line opposite trenches 184 -194.

8th         2 p.m.          BELLACOURT heavily shelled – 60 4.2” How fired into 7th Lancs Bty position

3.15 p.m.     Chastisement on BOIRY.  3.15 p.m. with 7 4.5” Hows 8 – 4.7” guns 4 120 mm French – This concluded hostile activity

9th       12.10 p.m.    BEAUMETZ heavily shelled – about 120 7.7, 10.5 and 15.0 cm shells.  Casualties besides 2horses and some cows killed 2 men slightly wounded.

9th           3 p.m.       Chastisement of BOIRY as on the previous afternoon.  This concluded the day’s activity.

12th         4 p.m.       Bombardment in accordance with Appendix 5.  Result as far as could be observed satisfactory – Raining – but 9.2 Hows obtained direct hits.                                                                                      Appendix V

13th         9.55 p.m.   Hostile aeroplane dropped 2 bombs outside BEAUMETZ and one near BASSEUX.

17th         4 p.m.        Wire cutting at X.3.b.5.8 ½ by Section 3rd Lancs Bty from R.32.a.2.9 – Guns shot well but the wire was not completely cut – it was at least 30 x in depth.  On conclusion the section was withdrawn just in time to avoid retaliation of 5.9”’s at 5.15 p.m. and returned to its battery after dark.                     Appendix VI

18th         2a.m.         18 prs centre group and Howitzers cooperated in a successful raid on enemy front line R.34.b. by 8th L’pool (Irish).  Fire was well directed and helped to make the operation successful.

19th         3 p.m.        Retaliation on FICHEUX for shelling WAILLY – H.A.G. fired 71 rds in 3 minutes and 5 18 pr batteries and 2 Howitzer Batteries cooperated.

19-20th

20-21st                      Reliefs in accordance with Operation Order No 21.                                                              Appendix VII

24th                          5.45 hostile aeroplane dropped a bomb on 7th Bty wagon lines near MONCHIET killing 3 horses – 10 others had to be destroyed owing to injuries – No men injured –

3 p.m.         8” How fired in accordance with G.O. 24 – getting 5 rds into the sap – 3 rds into German wire – 2 rds into our own wire (not unexpected) and 4 blinds.  The result most satisfactory – infantry much pleased.                                                                                                                                               Appendix VIII

5 p.m.         Wire cutting in accordance with Order 22.                                                                   Appendix IX

26th       5.15 a.m.     Aircraft dropped 2 bombs near BELLACOURT H.A.G. retaliated 6 a.m.

27th       6-73 a.m.    A & B/125th heavily shelled by 5.9” How – no casualties to personnel – 1 gun A/125 dial sight (No 7) and shield damaged – (out of action) – Ranging by aeroplane –

3 p.m.        6” How on saps opposite F Sector.

Hostile aeroplanes very active and observation balloons watching and observing fire.

30th         6 a.m.       166th Inf – took over extra front in accordance with Appendix X.

Orders received for artillery to cover this line from May 6th.

Period 24-27th marked by hostile counter battery activity – observation balloons up in all directions and aircraft observing.  No batteries were knocked out and only one gun (mentioned above) damaged – 14th Bty preparing a new position.

  1. Bueson

Major

B.M. 55 D.A.

1st May 1916

18 Div. Arty. No of Batteries required for Wire Cutting

No of Batteries required for Wire Cutting

and Distribution of Reserve Artillery.

 

 

 

 

  1. The wire to be cut amounts approximately to :-       Along front line 2300 yds.       Along rear lines 7000 yds.       total 9300 yds.

 

  1. The Medium Trench Mortars will assist in cutting the wire on the front line, thus reducing the number of rounds of 18-Pdr ammunition required for this purpose. On the other hand owing to distance and difficulty in observation a liberal allowance should be allowed for wire on rear lines.

 

  1. Assuming the bombardment to last 3 days 3100 yds require cutting daily. The following shows approximately number of yards per battery, per gun, and number of rounds per gun per day assuming that 12 batteries, 15 batteries or 18 batteries are available:-

12 batteries = 260 yds per battery = 65 yds per gun = 520 rds per gun p. day 15 batteries = 200 yds per battery = 50 yds per gun, = 400 rds per gun p.day.

18 batteries = 170 yds per battery = 42 yds per gun = 336 rds per gun p.day.

(N.B. allowing for 8 rds per yard of wire.)

 

  1. It would therefore be advisable to reinforce the 12 wire cutting batteries by at least 3 (possibly 4) batteries from Reserve Div. Art. – This would leave 2 or 3 batteries for posting in forward positions.

 

  1. It is suggested to reinforce each Group with one extra wire cutting position. Suitable positions being at F.23.c.5.5.; F.23.d.8.3.; and A.20.d.35.99 (or A.21.a.2.3).

 

  1. Forward batteries would be placed one in OXFORD COPSE, one split up with 2 guns in MARICOURT, one gun F.18.b.4.4. and one gun A.F.17.b.8.3; the third battery being sited in valley running just South of CARNOY.

 

  1. Sites for 4.5” How Batteries are available F.29.a.6.7; A.25.b.2.4., and OXFORD COPSE or behind CARNOY.

 

  1. In addition to above one extra site is required for battery of Right Group, probably in corner of BILLON WOOD about A.20.c.1.4. Arranged.

Letter to Mr Murray 1 June 1916

c/o I.E.F.D.

Mesopotamia

1.6.16

 

Dear Mr. Murray,

 

Just a line to let you know that I have heard from your son who is in hospital at Poona, & that he is getting on very well.  I had to send him to hospital at the Front Line & could not get any news of him before, as it is somewhat difficult to get in touch with people up here.  He has done very well indeed out here & I hope to have him again in my Squadron, a very good boy & a sound flyer.  We have been ordered home, but I live in hope of taking what is left of the Squadron out again to some other place after they have had a little leave.

 

Yours faithfully

 

F.W. Bowhill

Squad. Comdr R.N.

18 Div. Arty Artillery Scheme 1 June 1916

 

SECRET

 

SCHEME FOR ARTILLERY SUPORT.

 

 

  • ARTILLERY AVAILABLE.

The Artillery available will probably consist of the following:-

(a) 12, 18-pounder batteries of the 18th Division.

6, 18-pounder batteries of the “Z” Division.

(b) 3, 4.5” Howitzer batteries of the 18th Division

1, 4.5” Howitzer battery of the “Z” Division.

All batteries consist of 4 guns unless otherwise stated.

A total of 72 18-pounder guns and 16 4.5” Howitzers.

 

  • OBJECTS TO BE ATTAINED BY DIVISIONAL ARTILLERY.

 

The objects to be attained by the Divisional Artillery will be

(a) Wire Cutting.  The extent of wire to be cut amounts to rather more than 9,000 yards.  On the assumption that the bombardment is to last for five days, 1,800 yards require cutting daily.

It is proposed to allot 15 4-gun 18-pounder batteries = 60 guns for this task.

An expenditure of 8 rounds per yard of wire is taken as the maximum amount required.

The following shows approximately the number of yards per battery, per gun, and amount of ammunition to be fired per gun per day for the purpose.

15 batteries = 120 yards per battery = 30 yards per gun = 240 rounds per gun per day.

(b) Destruction of trenches etc.

This will be undertaken by the heavy howitzers assisted by fire from the 4.5” howitzers, and considerable damage will be caused to the hostile parapets, etc., by the fire of the 18-pounders during the process of wire cutting. The 4.5” howitzers assisted by the 2” Trench Mortars on the hostile front trenches will deal with all known machine gun emplacements and sniper’s posts etc.

(c) Blocking of Communication Trenches.

This will be undertaken by the 4.5” howitzers assisted by enfilade fire from the 18-pounders.

(d) Preventing repair of the damage caused to the hostile trenches and wire entanglements. This will be carried out by the 18-pounders, assisted by machine gun fire.

(e) The shelling of roads and approaches in rear of the enemy’s position. These within range of the Field Artillery will be undertaken by the 18-pounders, those beyond by fire from the Counter Battery Group.

(f) Destruction of Observation Posts.

This will be undertaken towards the end of the bombardment.

(g) Protection of the present line in case of a surprise attack.

(h) To support the assault.

(i) To form an effective barrage of fire across the whole of the new front.

(j) To be able to place an effective barrage on both flanks of the attack should the occasion arise.

 

 

  • GROUPING OF ARTILLERY.

The Artillery of the 18th Division, reinforced by six 18-pounder batteries and one 4.5” howitzer battery of the “Z” Division, will be grouped as follows:-

Group   Position of H.Q.      Commander                                  Composition

Right BILLON VALLEY Lt. Col D.G. Blois D.S.O.  3 18-pr Bties 84th Bde R.F.A.

1 4.5” Bty      “        “      “

1 18-pr Bty 85th Bde R.F.A.

2 18-pr Bties “Z” Division

Total       7  batteries

 

Centre BILLON WOOD     Lt. Col Seagram        3 18-pr Bties 83rd Bde R.F.A.

1 4.5” Bty      83rd Bde R.F.A.

1 18-pr Bty   85th Bde R.F.A.          2 18-pr Bties   ”Z” Division

Total       7 batteries

 

Left BILLON FARM       Lt. Col A. Thorp          3 18-pr Bties  82nd Bde R.F.A.

1 4.5” Bty 82nd Bde R.F.A.

2 18-pr Bties ”Z” Division

1 18-pr Bty 85th Bde R.F.A.

1 4.5” Bty ”Z” Division.

Total       8 batteries

 

This grouping of the Divisional Artillery and the positions selected for the Hd. Qrs. Of each group have been arranged with a view to simplifying the communications between the Artillery and the Infantry, and thus ensuring that, as far as may be possible, close touch is maintained between the two arms throughout the operation. The Artillery Group Commander thus becomes the LIAISON Officer at each Infantry Brigade Headquarters, as long as the latter remains in its present position.

The Right Group will be affiliated to the 55th Infantry Bde.

The Centre Group will be affiliated to the 53rd Infantry Bde.

The Left Group will be affiliated to the 54th Infantry Bde.

The zones allotted to the three Artillery groups are practically the same as the fronts told off to the Infantry Brigade to which they are affiliated.

 

  • FORWARD GUNS.

One 18-pounder battery of each group and one 4.5” battery attached to the Centre Group will be sited within 1,600 yards of the hostile front trenches. These guns and howitzers will be available to open fire shortly before the attack, and will form the framework of the barrage of fire in front of the furthest objective.  The range to this front being about 3,500 yards.  In addition, the remaining guns of the Division will be capable of supporting from their present positions the new front at a range of about 5,000 yards.  It should not be necessary, therefore, to have to move batteries forward during, or shortly after, the attack.

 

 

  • OBSERVATION STATIONS.

These have been prepared along PERONNE AVENUE, in vicinity  ”U” Works, on Hill 124, and in square F.17.d.

These observation posts have been made as strong as possible, and provided with deep dugouts.

In addition to these each battery employed to cut wire will be provided with a post in the front system of trenches.

 

 

These will be duplicated in all cases and wherever possible triplicated. Those from Group H.Q. to batteries and from batteries to observing stations will be either placed dug in two feet below the bottom of communication trenches or else buried in separate trenches 6 feet deep.

Arrangements will be made for visual signalling from selected points in German lines to the Observation Stations.

 

 

  • LIAISON OFFICERS.

An Artillery officer will be told off for this duty to each battalion taking part in the attack. Similarly, an officer from each Group will be detailed to act as Liaison Officer at Infantry Brigade H.Q. in the event of this H.Q. moving forward beyond present sites selected.

 

 

Each battery position will be capable of accommodating 1,500 rounds in the case of 18-pounders, and 1.250 rounds in the case of the 4.5” Howitzers. This amount should be sufficient for operations extending over 5 days.

Under instructions received up to the present, all battery vehicles will be kept full, 1,000 rounds per gun will be dumped at or near the guns, and a further reserve of 250 rounds per gun will be dumped in a Divisional Reserve in the BOIS DES TAILLES.

 

 

  • TRENCH MORTARS.

Positions are at present being prepared for 4 7 6 Batteries of Medium Trench Mortars distributed along the front of attack.  These mortars will be employed in destruction of wire and first line trenches.

Positions have been selected for four Heavy Trench Mortars. These positions are so sited as to cover the whole front of attack to a depth of from three to five hundred yards at their maximum range.  Junctions of trenches and dug-outs in rear of front line will be dealt with by these mortars.

  • Definite tasks will be allotted to all Heavy and Medium Trench Mortars, and time-table of tasks issued to all Trench Mortar Batteries.
  • In order to minimise the chance of trench mortars being located by the enemy, it is proposed to keep these batteries silent during the first day of the bombardment.
  • Up to the hour of assault all Medium and Heavy Trench Mortar Batteries will be supervised and controlled by the Divisional Trench Mortar Officer, who will be in CARNOY for this purpose and in telephone communication with Divisional Artillery H.Q.
  • After the assault, certain Medium Trench Mortar Batteries will be controlled by Infantry Brigades, and used for forward work.

 

 

  • FIVE DAYS PRELIMINARY BOMBARDMANT.

During the five days previous to the Assault, the Divisional Artillery will be engaged on the following tasks:-

  • WIRE CUTTING.

It is proposed in the first place to engage the wire on the front trench (and support trench when the latter is close) with Medium Trench Mortars, and to complete the work on any portion of uncut wire with 18-pounders.

For details of wire cutting by 18-pounders, see Appendix A.

(b) DESTRUCTION OF TRENCHES.

Heavy and Medium Trench Mortars will be employed for this task on the front system of trenches, assisted by the 4.5” Howitzer Batteries, who will also engage points further in rear.

(c) PREVENTING REPAIR OF WIRE AND TRENCHES AT NIGHT.

18-pounders and 4.5” howitzers will be responsible for definite fronts, and subject the portions of the enemy’s trenches which have been previously destroyed to irregular bursts of fire throughout the night.

The Divisional Artillery will be assisted by machine guns in this task.

(d) SHELLING OF APPROACHES.

All approaches within range of Divisional Artillery will be subjected to barrages at irregular intervals.

(e) DEFENSIVE BARRAGE.

Definite defensive barrages will be allotted to 18-pounder batteries, in such a manner as to be able to establish a heavy barrage in the event of any German attack or minor enterprise.

 

 

 

 

  • PROGRAMME OF PRELIMINARY BOMBARDMENT.

The following is the proposed programme for five days preliminary bombardment.

1st Day.  18-pounder wire cutting in accordance with Appendix A.  4.5” howitzers.

“U”         communication trenches, trench junctions, strong points, approaches etc.  Heavy and Medium Trench Mortars remain silent to avoid detection.

2nd Day.  18-pounder wire cutting in accordance with Appendix A.

“V”          Approaches and communications.

4.5” howitzers, same as first day.

Medium Trench Mortars, wire on front trench.

Heavy Trench Mortars remain silent.

3rd Day.  18-pounders, wire cutting in accordance with Appendix A.

“W”          Approaches and communications.

4.5” howitzers same as before.

Medium Trench Mortars, wire cutting on front & support trenches.

Heavy Trench Mortars, special points allotted to them.

4th Day.  18-pounder, wire cutting on front & support trenches to complete work ”X” carried out by Medium Trench Mortars.

Approaches.

4.5” howitzers, as before.

Medium Trench Mortars, destruction of trenches and machine gun emplacements.

Heavy Trench Mortars, same as 3rd day.

5th Day.  18-pounder, wire cutting on any portions of wire left uncut.  All approaches.

”Y”            4.5” howitzers, as before.

Medium Trench Mortars, same as fourth day.

Heavy Trench Mortars, same as 4th day.

A definite daily time table will be worked out in conjunction with XIII Corps H.A. to ensure batteries not interfering with each other in the execution of these various tasks.

 

 

  • SUPPORT OF INFANTRY SUPPORT

The five wire cutting batteries from each Group will have a strip of German defences allotted to each battery, and will be responsible for engaging all German trenches within this strip in accordance with the time table of lifts.

These strips will be exactly similar to those allotted to batteries during wire cutting, consequently, all registrations arrived at during wire cutting will form part of the general registration for support of the assault.

The Divisional Artillery lifts will be so timed as to be clear of assaulted trenches one minute previous to stipulated time for the Infantry to reach the trench in question. The lifts of the Divisional Artillery are shown in attached map, marked “B”.  During the last minute previous to each lift, H.E. ammunition (5 rounds HE per gun?????) will be used exclusively by 18-pounders, it is hoped that this may act as an indication to the assaulting troops that a lift is impending.

The fire of the forward batteries situated in the CARNOY valley will, in the initial stages, be kept as a reserve to deal with any unforeseen contingencies, and to deal with special portions of the line.

Any small intermediate lifts other than the Divisional lifts will be arranged direct between Infantry Brigade Commanders and Officers Commanding their respective Groups.

 

 

  • Barrages to ensure Consolidation of Positions Gained.

It will at any moment during the assault be possible to establish an effective barrage, to check counter attacks and assist in consolidation of ground.

The five batteries per Group with strips of front allotted to them will be responsible for establishing a barrage at any point along their respective strips as required. In addition, the forward batteries in the CARNOY Valley will be in a position to form the backbone of any barrage required at longer ranges, such as for instance in the vicinity of CATERPILLAR WOOD should the final objective be obtained.

 

 

  • PREPARATION FOR FORWARD MOVE.

Two batteries from each Group will be detailed to hold themselves in readiness to move forward to reinforce batteries in CARNOY Valley should occasion arise.  The possible positions for these batteries are being selected, roads to them reconnoitered and necessary bridges erected.

As far as is possible, positions further in advance, on the POMMIERS RIDGE, will be selected and roads of advance to them reconnoitered with a view to their possible occupation at a later stage in the operation.

 

 

18 Div Arty. Appendix B 1 June 1916

Appendix B

 

SECRET

PRELIMINARY INSTRUCTIONS AS REGARDS ARTILLERY SUPPORT DURING ASSAULT.

 

  1. The Infantry Assault will be supported by a systematic bombardment of German defences by Corps Artillery and Divisional Artillery.
  2. A definite prearranged plan is being drawn up for the time table of the bombardment and will be issued later.
  3. In order to regulate the bombardment with regard to the rate of the Infantry advance, and to co-ordinate the attack throughout the various Divisions engaged, a series of Artillery lifts have been laid down with definite times assigned to them.
  4. These lifts are shown on attached sketch by different coloured lines. The times shown at left extremities of these lines refer to the Divisional Artillery, those at the right extremities to Corps Artillery. These lines indicate that at the times stipulated, no gun of the Divisional or Corps Artillery will be firing on any ground situated south of these lines.
  5. The lines have been lettered A, B, C, etc., and will be referred to within the Divisional Artillery by these letters.
  6. The southern edge of the barrage of fire is thus definitely established at specified times. Further instructions will be issued later as to the depth of German defences to be engaged in rear of these lines, the distribution of batteries, rate of fire etc.
  7. Special fronts have been allotted to five batteries per Group for wire cutting together with a strip of German defences for which they are responsible. The boundaries of these strips are shown in attached diagram.The 4.5” Howitzers will engage trenches somewhat in rear of front barrage from which fire might be brought to bear on our assaulting troops.
  8. The remaining batteries from each Group will be employed in dealing with any unforeseen contingencies.
  9. Each of these batteries will be responsible for engaging defence within the strip allotted to it as the barrage moves forward.
  10. During the bombardment, 18-pounder batteries will fire Shrapnel with a mixture of 20% H.E. As an indication to the Infantry that a lift is about to occur, for 50 seconds previous to each lift, all 18-pounders will fire exclusively High Explosive ammunition, namely about 5 rounds per gun.
  11. Throughout the advance Group Commanders will hold themselves in readiness for the possibility of having to establish a flank barrage to protect any salient that may be formed owing to some portion of the advance being checked.On the left flank the forward section of guns situated in F.17.b. will similarly be detailed for the protection of the left flank and is well sited for this purpose.
  12. This precaution is of special importance on the right in the vicinity of MONTAUBAN, the protection of this flank will consequently be allotted to the forward battery situated in OXFORD COPSE.
  13. In the event of the assault being checked, or of a German counter-attack being launched, it will be possible at any moment to establish an effective barrage on any stipulated line.On a basis of 15 batteries of 18-pounders available to establish such a barrage, the front should be covered by one 18-pounder to every 50 to 25 yards.
  14. Thus, for instance, should it be necessary to check a counter-attack whilst holding the POMMIERS Trench, the order would be passed to establish a barrage along ”Line D”. The barrage front of each battery being represented by the width of the strip allotted to it at that point.
  15. After arrival on the line POMMIERS Redoubt – POMMIERS Trench namely along lines E and D, the advance will be delayed for approximately two one hours during which time the Infantry will consolidate the line. This period will be employed by the Divisional Artillery in searching the ground to be covered in the further advance; and in dealing with any hostile preparation for a counter-attack. R.F.C. contact patrols and the Kite Balloon will be requested to furnish all possible information as regards hostile movements north of the POMMIERS Redoubt – MONTAUBAN Ridge. The further advance of the Infantry will be preceded by a barrage of 18-pounder fire starting from line ‘F’ at 2-10 and moving forward by increments of range of about 100 yards until line ’H’ is reached.
  16. Under cover of this curtain of fire the Infantry will advance to establish themselves on the line shown in attached sketch.
  17. During the final stage whilst the Infantry are consolidating their objective, the role of the Artillery will be all important. Every possible endeavour will have to be made to obtain forward observation and to establish communications, such that the Artillery barrage can be controlled from the new line.
  18. The above instructions are to be regarded as a general guide, and are only intended to assist Group Commanders in making necessary preparations and carrying out required registration.
  19. Full orders as regards lifts, barrages, etc. will be issued later.

JUNE 1916

JUNE 1916

 

The Western Front

.

The two day Battle of Jutland, in the North Sea, ended on 1st June 1916, after the main British fleet had engaged the German fleet off the west coast of Scotland. The Germans realised they were in danger of losing their entire force, and were forced to retire. The two fleets engaged again later in the evening, but the German’s managed to avoid the opposing ships and under cover of the dark, returned to their secure ports.

Morally the Germans were victorious for they had inflicted greater casualties and sank more ships. Upon arrival at their home ports the German navy remained penned up for the remainder of the war. The British claimed a victory as the Royal Navy was still in command of the seas.

The battle of Jutland was the last of four major naval battles of the Great War. The first being the engagement, on the 14th October 1914 at Coronel, off the west coast of Chile. The Germans were victorious.

The second engagement was on the 8th December 1914, at the Falklands, where the British fleet sank the German fleet with the exception of one light cruiser which had managed to slip away.

The third engagement was at Dogger Bank, in the North Sea, on the 24th January 1915. Five British battle cruisers engaged three German battle cruisers. The British sank one vessel and damaged the German flagship, but the Germans succeeded in                                                                                                                                                                        damaging the British flagship before retreating. The battle was inconclusive owing to British abandoning the action allowing the German fleet to escape.

 

Three divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force were involved in the defence of the high ground south-east of Ypres. The ridge at Zillebeke was known by the British army as Mount Sorrel. It included the double summits of Hill 61 & Hill 62, Sanctuary Wood.

The battle of Mount Sorrel began on 2nd June 1916 when the German forces attacked with an artillery barrage which blew the Allied trenches apart. The 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles were nearly wiped out, suffering 89 per cent casualties either killed or injured.

German infantry swarmed across no-man’s land and captured Mount Sorrel ridge along with the near-by peaks of Hill 61 & Hill 62, together with the village of Hooge. The Germans attacked on three sides and were well positioned to attack the city of Ypres.

The Canadians tried to retake the hills on 3rd June 1916 but were repelled by the German defenders. Adequate troops and sufficient supplies were unavailable as the allies were planning the Somme Offensive.

 

The British Secretary of State for War, Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener, was drowned on the 5th June 1916, when HMS Hampshire sank off the west of the Scottish Orkney Islands. Kitchener had sailed on a diplomatic mission to Russia but the Hampshire struck a German mine during a Force 9 gale and rapidly sank in the icy waters.

Kitchener was one of the few people who anticipated the war would last at least three years. It was his decision to create a mass volunteer army to boost the regular army. Consequently, his pointing finger and face on recruitment posters stating “Your country Needs You” summoned many men to arms and would be known as “Kitchener’s army”.

 

Lieutenant General Sir Julian Byng, commanding the allied forces attacked the dug-in German hilltop position with artillery, on the 9th June 1916. An Allied infantry attack on the 14th June 1916 recaptured Mount Sorrel.

Less than three weeks after the Battle for Mount Sorrel, Allied forces launched the Battle of the Somme.

 

On the 27th June 1916, Oswald Boelcke scored his last victory in an Eindecker, which brought him a total of 40 downed allied aircraft. While flying the Eindecker, Boelcke received Germany’s highest military decoration, the Pour le Merite or “Blue Max”. By the end of June the “Fokker Scourge” was finally over as allied aircraft design had caught up with the Eindecker.

 

In June 1916 the first German submarine for civilian use safely reached America. The un-armed submarine freighter Deutsland, skippered by Merchant Navy Captain Paul Konig, transported cargo from Bremen to Baltimore in Maryland. The Deutsland successfully returned to Germany in August 1916, and continued until un-restricted U-Boat warfare was declared in 1917.

 

———————————————————

 

Verdun

 

 

The German bombardment of Fort Vaux began on the 1st June 1916. Inside the fort were 600 troops commanded by Major Raynal. The barrage stopped suddenly just before dawn on the 2nd June 1916 and two German battalions moved forward, and by mid-afternoon had occupied a large part of the structure of Fort Vaux. Raynal’s determination to resist, resulted in the defenders withdrawing to the underground corridors.

On the 4th June 1916, at Fort Vaux the Germans used flamethrowers in an attempt to drive out the French with asphyxiating black smoke. Raynal sent out his last carrier pigeon with a message to send immediate help.

A relief French force arrived on the 5th June 1916, but suffered terrible casualties in the course of trying to relieve the pressure on Fort Vaux. The men of the fort, were by now, suffering from lack of water and by the 7th June 1916 Raynal decided his only alternative was to surrender. The Germans finally captured Fort Vaux on the 8th June 1916, but had paid a heavy price with over 2,740 casualties while the French had suffered roughly 100 casualties.

The French 3rd Company of the 137th Infantry Regiment was wiped out on the 10th June 1916. The troops were buried in their trench at the Ravine de la Dame. After the war, when the authorities were overseeing the burial of the dead, they found a line of bayonets sticking up out of the earth and discovered the bodies buried beneath them. The Trench of Bayonets (“Trenchee Des Baionettes”) has been preserved as a Battle Monument.

When the Germans used phosgene gas near Fort Souville on the evening of the 22nd June 1916, the French were totally surprised. The Germans took Fleury the following day, the 23rd June 1916, but the counter-attack by the French halted the German advance. A further German offensive planned for early July 1916 was delayed by torrential rain.

On the 30th June1916, the French succeeded in reclaiming Fort Thiaumont, stormed by German forces the previous week.

 

——————————————————————-

 

The Somme

 

An artillery bombardment began a 14 mile barrage against the heavily defended German front line at the Somme River on the 24th June 1916. Over 1,400 British and 100 French guns were to participate, and 3 million rounds of artillery ammunition had been stockpiled for this purpose. The bombardment was planned to continue until 29th June 1916 when the infantry would attack the German front line.

This action was requested by the French army to relieve the pressure on Verdun by diverting German troops to defend the Somme region.

 

The Allied attack was scheduled for the 29th June 1916, but was postponed for two days owing to heavy rain. Raiding parties in no-man’s land had discovered that the bombardment had not been as effective as had been hoped for since the barbed wire, in front of the German front line trenches, was mostly intact despite the pounding it had received. The bombardment was also expected to wipe out the defenders in the front line trenches, but unknown to the Allies the Germans were housed deep in underground dug-outs. Assurances had been forthcoming, by the British high command, that advancing attacking forces would be able to walk across no-man’s land with very little resistance. The reality was, the British and her allies would be faced with virtually uncut wire and the full complement of defensive German troops

 

—————————————————————–

 

The Eastern Front

 

In an attempt to relieve the German pressure on Verdun, the commander of the Southwestern Front of the Imperial Russian Army, General Aleksei Brusilov, launched a major attack against the Austro-Hungarian forces on the 4th June 1916. It took place in an area of present-day western Ukraine, in the vicinity of the towns of Livov, Kovel and captured the town Lutsk attacking along 48 Km (30miles) of front. The Brusilov Offensive, as it became known, opened with a brief but massively accurate artillery bombardment before unleashing the infantry. The Austro-Hungarian defenders were taken completely by surprise and the short bombardment did not allow them time to bring up reserves and evacuate the front line trenches before the Russian infantry attacked.

On the 6th June 1916, the Russians entered and captured Lutsk, with the Austrians in full retreat. Despite having taken over 200,000 prisoners, Brusilov’s forces were in danger of being overextended. Further success of the operation depended on General Alexei Evert, commander of the Russian Western Army Group, launching his part of the offensive. Evert had opposed Brusilov’s proposals and delayed his offensive, giving the German high command time to send reinforcements to the Eastern Front on the 8th June 1916.

 

On the 16th June 1916, Evert finally ordered his weak and poorly prepared offensive against the Austro-Hungarian, but the Russians eventually took the town of Czernowitz on the 18th June 1916.

By the end of the June the Russians had advanced over 96 Km (60 miles) in some sections and taken over 350,000 prisoners and 100 guns. They were ready to press on to the Carpathian Mountains.

 

————————————————————

 

The Caucasus and Middle East Campaign

 

Hussein, the Grand Sharif of Mecca began his Arab revolt against the Turkish garrison at Medina in Hejaz on the 5th June 1916. Hussein proclaimed independence from Turkey on the 7th June 1916 and the Turks surrendered at Mecca on the 10th June 1916 which started one of the longest ever sieges, lasting until January 1919.

The Arab revolt arose because the Arabs were desperate for full independence from Turkey, and later in the campaign Lawrence of Arabia assisted in the uprising.

 

———————————————————-

 

 

 

THE GREAT WAR – JUNE 1916

 

THE GREAT WAR – JUNE 1916

The Western Front

1st June                Battle of Jutland ends

2nd June                Battle of Mount Sorrel begins

5th June                 Lord Kitchener drowns at sea

9th June                 Allied artillery attack on Mount Sorrel

14th June               Battle of Mount Sorrel ends

27th June              The last victory of Boehlke finally ended the “Fokker Scourge”

June                       German submarine Deutschland reached America

—————————————————–

Verdun

1st June                  Bombardment of Fort Vaux began

4th/8th June           Germans attack Fort Vaux

10th June               Trench of Bayonets

22nd June               German attack on Fort Souville with phosgene gas

23rd June              French counter-attack halted German advance

30th June               French reclaim Fort Thiaumont

——————————————————

The Somme

24th June               Allies began week long artillery bombardment

29th June              Battle of Somme postponed

——————————————————

The Eastern Front

4th June                 Brusilov Offensive commeces

6th June                 Russians capture Lutsk

8th June                 Germany sends reinforcements against the Brusilov Offensive

16th/18th June      Czernowitz falls to the Russians

——————————————————-

The Caucasus and Middle East Campaign

5th June                Start of Arab revolt

7th June              Hussein proclaim independence from Turkey

10th June              Turks surrender at Mecca

——————————————————–