War Diary of 8th Divisional Artillery July 1916
- At 6.25 a.m. the Bombardment for the 4th Army Operation commenced all along the line. The Right and Left Groups covering the whole 8 Dn front. The Centre Group under Col. WILSON 86th Bde R.F.A standing fast owing to have been dug in well forward to support the further advance and unable to clear the crest at front line range. The attack was launched at 7.30 a.m. The Right and Left Bdes found in difficulty in closing but centre Bde was hung up by OVILLERS. Little progress was made during the day. The 70th Bde on left reached the third support line but had to withdraw later. The Right and Centre being hung up by OVILLERS. By evening the Division was back in its old front line the attack having failed. The Batteries fired throughout the day mostly at a fairly rapid rate. A good deal of trouble with Buffers and Springs. The Trench Mortars took an Active part in the Bombardment. Also the Heavy Trench Mortars.
Casualties to Artillery practically nil. 1 Howitzer 57th Battery blown up caused by premature.
- Night firing as appropriate and occasional rounds in front line.
During the day the 8th Division less the Artillery and R.E. were relieved by the 12th Division the relief being complete by midnight. There was no infantry action during the day. The Batteries kept up a continuous fire at a slow rate throughout the day. At 10 p.m. 12th Division Operation Order was issued for an attack on OVILLERS to be launched at 3.15 a.m. preceded one hour’s bombardment by all natures. The 57th Battery had one howitzer blown up by a premature. 18 Pdr Batteries experienced considerable Buffer trouble, elongation cylinders being the chief trouble. Casualties LT WENHAM wounded while acting as Liaison Officer to Battle H.Q.
- Night firing was continued on approaches up to 2-15 a.m. at which hour the Hows bombardment of OVILLERS started. The Div Artillery bombarding the whole front trench area especially the portion W of OVILLERS while the Heavy Artillery bombarded the village.
2 Trench Mortars firing on the front Line. At 3.15 a.m. fire was lifted off the front line and the attack launched by two Bdes. Both attacks were partially successful, the right gaining the front line, the left the front two lines. It was found to be impossible to hold the ground gained owing to the machine gun fire from the THIEPVAL SALIENT and from the outskirts of LA BOISELLE.
By 9.30 a.m. all our Infantry men were back in our old front line. Failure of the attack was due to well placed flank Machine Guns which had not been knocked out. At 9.30 Batteries were put in to put a Barrage around OVILLERS in order to prevent movement in or out. One Howitzer D/86 Battery received a direct hit fired by a 5.9 How which came in through the firing aperture. The Howitzer was knocked out and three men killed and two wounded. – One section per Battery, excepting 5 Battery relieved during the night by one section per Battery 12 Divn. Artillery.
Sections marching to wagon lines – HENENCOURT WOOD and BRESLE.
Operation Order No 12 marked APPENDIX OO/12 attached.
APPENDIX OO/12 and OO/13.
- Night firing continued from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. No infantry action during the day was made by our infantry (12th Division). Guns continued firing on roads and approaches during the day. The 55th Battery and 33rd Battery were used to assist the infantry (19th Div) bombing in LA BOISSELLE. These two batteries on several occasions doing very useful work.
At 9 p.m. Batteries resumed night firing.
During the night the whole of the Divisional Artillery was relieved by the 12th Dn Artillery reliefs being completed by 2.15 a.m.
Brigades marched to BEHENCOURT and FRECHENCOURT.
Operation Order No. 14 marked Appendix OO/14 attached.
- Heavy firing by German Batteries on THIEPVAL followed by counter attack on trenches held by 32nd Batteries continued night firing on roads and approaches and Right flank Barrage at LA BOISELLE.
During the night Batteries were relieved by Batteries of 12 Dn Arty and withdrawn to BEHENCOURT and FRENCHCOURT. Relief being completed in the line by 2.15 a.m.
R.A. H.Q. handed over responsibility to 12 Div Arty at 10 a.m. 5 July and proceeded to CAVILLON.
The Dn Artillery marched from BEHENCOURT and FRECHENCOURT at 12 Noon for Billets S of SOMME.
5th Bde and 35th Bde Billeted at LES MEAGES.
45th Bde MOULIENS VIDAMES.
D.A.C. at CROUY.
Arriving during the evening from 7 to 9 p.m.
Orders received same night that Dn Arty will entrain to PERNES Area.
Operation Order No. 15 dated 5 July marked OO/15 attached.
Weather Rain at night. Day fine.
- Div R.A. H.Q. at CAVILLON. Brigades at LE MEAGES, MOULIENS-VIDAMES. A.C. at CROUY.
Orders sent out to entrain at LONGUEAU and SALEUX starting at 5.30 A.M. 7th.
Weather fine though cloudy. Warm.
- Brigades entrained at LONGEAU and SALEUX starting at 5.30 a.m. and continuing throughout the day. Destination BRUAY Area (1st Corps Area LOOS Sector).
Brigades Detrained at PERNES-CAMBLAIN, DIEVAL, BRYAS and marched to Billets as under
5th Bde R.H.A. – LAPUGNOY.
33rd Bde R.F.A. – MARLES-LES-MINES.
46th Bde R.F.A. – LABEUVIERE.
Div. Amn. Column. – AUCHEL.
Div Artillery H.Q. – BRUAY
Weather Heavy rain all morning, clear in afternoon.
- In Rest. The Division placed in Army reserve from now onwards. No restrictions as to number of hours notice to move.
Weather fine Warm.
MARLES LES MINES
- In Army Reserve. Divisional Artillery H.Q. moved to MARLES-LES-MINES.
Officers of 5th and 33rd Brigades visited Left Sector 1st Corps Area (VERMELLES).
Weather fine Strong Wind.
Ditto 10-7-16 Reserve Area.
Brigade Commanders, B, C or Captains of 5th & 33rd Bdes visited Left Sector of 1st Corps Front (VERMELLES).
Weather fine Windy.
Ditto 11-7-16 Reserve Area.
Second party of officers visited Left Division Area. G.O.C. inspected 5th Bde. R.H.A.
Weather fine. Mounted parade. Medals ribbons were presented to 8 N.C.O’s & men.
Ditto 12-7-16 Reserve Area.
The M.G. R.A. 1st Army inspected 45th Bde R.F.A. in their lines.
Ditto 13-7-16 Reserve Area.
Inspection by G.O.C. 8 Division. Dismounted Parades.
Orders received that Artillery of 8 Division will be transferred from 1st Corps to XI Corps as early as possible under arrangements to be made direct between Corps.
ESTAIRES Ref 1/80,000 ST OMER, LILLE and ARRAS and FRANCE and BELGIUM 1/40,000.
- At 1.30 a.m. orders received for 8 D.A. to join XI Corps at LACORGUE arriving at that place at 12 Noon. – Brigade Commanders, Battery Commanders and 1 Subaltern per Battery went on in advance to report to H.Q. 61stA. for orders. – Remainder of Artillery moved at 7.30 a.m. by route march to FOSSE (R.21.central) where they were met by guides who conducted batteries to Wagon Lines in LESTREM vicinity.
Positions for Batteries were selected in the RUE BACQUEROT between cross roads M.17.d. and RED HOUSE (M.6.d.). Positions are derelict positions and require rebuilding – order of occupation 33rd Bde on right, 5th Bde Centre, 45th Bde on Left – H.Q.s of Brigades in LAVENTIE.
Operation Order No. 16 marked Appendix OO/16 attached. APPENDIX OO/16.
Order for move of Wagon Lines marked A1/3 attached.
Div Artillery H.Q. established in the Square ESTAIRES.
Weather fine. APPENDIX A1/3.
- Brigades preparing positions and getting up Ammunition.
H.Q. 33rd Bde moved to RUE de PARADIS. H.Q. 45th Bde to ROUGE de BOUT
- Brigades in Action in RUE BACQUEROT. All Batteries started wire cutting front line wire between FAQUISSART and SUGAR LOAF. Moving to the preparations being **** it was impossible to provide head cover for Gun Pits. The 32nd & 36th Batteries were somewhat heavily shelled by the hostile guns and suffered considerably T/Captain POWELL being killed and Captain ARCHER HOUBLON wounded (at Duty).
Casualties were 5 Bde R.H.A. 1 Killed. 2 Wounded
33 R.F.A. 1 Officer Killed
1 Officer Wounded (Duty)
5 O.R. Killed
45 Bde R.F.A. Wounded O.R. 2
D.A.C. Wounded O.R.s 2
Weather fine slight drizzle in evening.
- The night was Quiet. 32nd and 36th Batteries moved from positions in RUE BACQUEROT to LAFLINQUE.
No action by our Artillery during the Day.
The Trench Mortar Officer and X, Y, Z/Trench Mortar Batteries rejoined the Div Artillery from ALBERT. The personnel of these three Batteries is to be used in the event of offensive action on this front. All three Batteries spent day in preparing Positions.
Weather fine though heavy clouds about all day. Barometer 29.98.
- The Enemy fired a certain number of rounds during the night at 32nd and 36th Batteries wounding 6 men of 32nd Battery.
Batteries resumed wire cutting between hours 10 a.m. to 12 Noon and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
32nd & 36th Batteries had to stop firing owing being heavily shelled.
’O’ Battery R.H.A. did not wire cut its position being too exposed.
Casualties during day CAPT M.H.D. PARSONS ‘O’ Bty Killed.
MAJOR A.O. BOYD ‘O’ Bty Wounded.
CAPT ARCHER HOUBLON 32 Bty Wounded
Other Ranks 2 Killed 4 Wounded
- Night firing on approaches and cut wire. Zero hour for operations 11 a.m. Preliminary bombardment from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at which hour the Assault was launched. Batteries lifting from the front line and forming barrage in rear of hostile support line.
Casualties during day. Killed – 2 O.R.s
Wounded – 2 O.R.s
Shell Shock – 2 O.R.s
- Batteries remained in Battle Positions. Operations broken off.
Orders received at 1.30 a.m. for 8 Dn Artillery to rejoin 8 Division marching on 21st.
- Batteries remained in action all day but did not fire. During afternoon Batteries were withdrawn to Wagon Lines the withdrawal being carried out by single Guns. – At 7.30 p.m. the D.A.C. march to Billets at FOUQUEREIL.
The 33rd Bde plus ‘O’ Bty R.H.A. and D/5 Bty. Hows 5 Bde R.H.A. march at 9.45 p.m. to Billets at BETHUNE – BEUVRY road. At 10.15 p.m. 45 Bde plus ’Z’ Bty marched to Billets at LE QUESNOY – H.Q. Div Arty remained at ESTAIRES.
- Orders received for 8 Div Artillery to relieve the 8 Div Artillery Group in the QUINCHY Sector, and LEFT Group 15th Div Artillery on nights of 22nd/23rd and 23rd/24th July – Operation Order No. 17 dated 21st July 1916 issued. Marked APPENDIX OO/17 attached.
Instructions re relief of 8 Div Artillery Group and 15th D.A. LEFT Group marked APPENDIX A1/6 attached.
Operation Order No. 18 dated 21st July 1916 March Table and detail of Relief marked APPENDIX OO/18 attached.
- Q. R.A. at ESTAIRES. RIGHT Group Billets BETHUNE – BEUVRY Road. LEFT Group Billets LE QUESNOY. D.A.C. Billets FOUQUEREIL.
At 4 a.m. 7 18 Pdr guns from 33rd Bde sent up to action to replace 7 guns of 8 Dn Artillery Group sent to workshops.
Reliefs carried out in accordance with Operation Order No. 18 above.
Guns and Howitzers 16th and 40th Division Artillery forming part of 8 Div Artillery Group exchanged with 8 Div Artillery being 10 18 Pdr Guns and 8 4.5 Hows.
At 6 p.m. 8 D.A.C. relieved 15th D.A.C. at VERQUIGNEUL.
CHATEAU DES PRES
- Divisional Artillery H.Q. moved from ESTAIRES to SAILLY-LABOURSE opening at 12 Noon.
During the Day the relief of Batteries of 16th and 40th Divisions was carried out in Personnel only. Guns having been exchanged. Reliefs completed by 4 p.m.
Relief of 15th D.A. Batteries carried out at 9.30 p.m. and completed by 11 p.m. Guns of 15th D.A. being withdrawn and 8 D.A. guns put in. This includes the whole of the right group and two Batteries 18 Pdr in Left Group.
SAILLY- Group and Battery Commanders took over on completion of reliefs.
LABOURSE H.Q. R.A. assumed responsibility for Artillery Defence of Line on completion of reliefs (11-15 p.m.)
During the Day five mines were blown. 3 by us and 2 by the Enemy.
Hostile Artillery activity was slight during the 24 hours. Our advanced sections registered. Weather fine though cloudy.
- A Quiet Day. Our Batteries continued registration and checking lines taken over. This provoked a certain amount of hostile fire which was mostly directed against the trenches in the HOHENZOLLERN Sector. A few rounds from 5.9 How and 77 mm were fired into ANNEQUIN. Shelling ceased on our retaliating.
Weather fine though cloudy.
CHATEAU DES PRES
- The night was Quiet. Hostile Artillery very inactive. He used his Trench Mortars a little on the HOHENZOLLERN sector. MAISON ROUGE and KINGSCLERE O.P. were shelled by 4.2 Hows considerable damage being done on the former. Our guns retaliated on his O.P.s with successful results. Registration and checking lines of fire taken over was continued at intervals during the day.
Weather fine though cloudy. Rain expected.
27-7-16 The night was Quiet. During the day the enemy appeared to register a few points on our front probably in reply to our registration of various points. No shelling of any importance took place.
Weather fine though dull with heavy cloud.
28-7-16 The night was Quiet. During the day intermittent firing on both the CUINCHY and HOHENZOLLERN Sector to which we retaliated on his ‘Tender Spots’ and Support Line – KINGSCLERE O.P. was shelled but no damage done. His Trench Mortars from the BRICK STACKS and LITTLE WILLIE TRENCH were fairly active.
At 11.0 p.m. the enemy fired both heavy & Medium Trench Mortars and 77 mm on Left Battalion HOHENZOLLERN Sector. We replied vigorously.
Weather fine bright sunshine all day. Misty in the Early morning.
29-7-16 The hostile Artillery of all natures including Trench Mortars were more active than on previous days. Particular attention being paid to VALLEY OF DEATH, KINGSCLERE O.P. and CUINCHY CHURCH. He also appeared to be CHATEAU carefully registering our front line system opposite HOHERNZOLLERN. Our Artillery retaliated on all occasions on DES PRES his front line system and suspected O.P.s. at 6.45 p.m. our 6” Hows engaged a Trench Mortar Emplacement in the BRICK STACKS – At 9.0 p.m. his Artillery opened a lively fire on our trenches in the HOHENZOLLERN Sector SAILLY- which increased in intensity till 11.30 p.m. when he raided our trenches in this Sector. Between 11.30 p.m. and LABOURSE 2.30 a.m. he attempted three more raids with varying success.
Each attempt being preceded by an intense bombardment by all natures to which our Artillery replied with heavy Barrage fire.
30-7-16 The night was Quiet. Greatly reduced hostile Artillery activity during the Day. A few rounds from 4.2” Hows and 77 mm being fired at odd points on our front Line system. Our batteries fired at ’Tender Spots’ and continued a policy of continual annoyance. Our Medium Trench Mortars fired about 80 rounds into the hostile front line wire and parapet doing Considerable Damage.
Weather fine. Misty up to 9 a.m. rest of Day bright sunshine.
The Enemy was very quiet during this period with his Artillery only firing some 15 rounds of 10.5 cm in the
CHATEAU HOHENZOLLERN Sector. His Trench Mortars were however fairly active along the whole front – our Batteries who DES PRES had not finished their registration carried on with it during this period. In addition several points on the hostile trenches SAILLY- were subjected to bursts of fire in conjunction with our Trench Mortars.
LABOURSE Weather fine. Very warm.
Report on Casualties to Personnel for month ending 31st July marked APPENDIX A/16is attached. APPENDIX A/16
Appendices OO/12, OO/13, OO/14, OO/15, OO/16, A1/3, A1/6, OO/17, OO/18, N/1 are attached.
C.R. Gover Major
B.G.R.A. 8 Division
2nd Aug 1916