War Diary of Headquarters 31st Divisional Artillery from JUNE 1st 1916 – To JUNE 30th 1916

War Diary of Headquarters 31st Divisional Artillery from JUNE 1st 1916 – To JUNE 30th 1916




1st June 1916                                                                           31st Div Artillery                                                         Ref Map 57 D N.E.

H.Q. BUS LES ARTOIS                               G.O.C. R.A. Brig Gen E.P. Lambert C.B., R.A.                   Infantry

Bde Major Capt H.O. Hutchison R.A.                       Right Sector

Right Group                                        Right Group                            A/170 Q.13.b.10.60                            93rd Inf Bde

H.Q. MAILLY-MAILLET                Lt. Col C.B. Simonds R.F.A. C/170  Q.2.c.50.25.                             Brig Gen Ingles

Cmdg 170th Bde                     D/171(How) Q.7.b.30.80.                   (1 Battalion in the line)



Left Group                                          Left Group                                C/165     K.27.a.13.13.                     Centre & left sectors

H.Q. COLINCAMPS                         Lt. Col W.S.D. Craven R.F.A. C/171     K.27.c.05.95.                      93rd Inf Bde

Cmdg 169th Bde.                      B/169      K.32.a.90.35.                     (2 Battalions in line)

C/169       K.32.b.15.15                     94th Bde less 1 Batt training

H/169       K.31.c.70.00.                    92nd Bde less 1 Batt in Div reserve,

D/170 (How) Q.2.b.10.25                   1 Batt 92nd & 1 Batt 93rd in Bde reserve.


A/171             K.27.a.05.70.          Attached to 48th Div.

D/169 (How) K.27.c.20.10.         Cover whole Div Front.  (Under tactical control of Col. Hon. H.W. Addington R.F.A. Cmdg 171st Bde)



In Reserve:-


1st June 1916

  • 165 Bde R.F.A. (less C Battery) Lt ColG. Henderson R.F.A.
  • 171 Bde Hdqtrs (and B/171 battery) Col Hon. H.W. Addington R.F.A.


Guns in Action   32 18pdrs, (4 18 pdrs lent to 48th Div)

12, 4.5 Hows

”In Reserve”      14 18 pdrs

3, 4.5 Hows

In Shop (for repairs) 2 18 pdrs

1 4.5 How

On LEFT FLANK         =          48th Division.

On Right FLANK         =          29th Division


1st June

Right Group Enemy was active with 5.9’s firing 90 rounds into Q.2.d. between 6 & 8 a.m.

Otherwise a quiet day.  A/170 fired at a battery in PENDANT COPSE with observation by Kite balloon.

Left Group   Enemy fired about 120 rounds into K.21.a. between 7.30 & 9 a.m.  He was also active with 77 mm.

2nd June

Right Group Normal day.  Snipers post located at Q.5.a20.80., also probably T.M. emplacement at K.35.b.0.5.

Left Group     Normal day.  Enemy shelled COURCELLES – COLINCAMPS road

3rd June

Right Group & Left Group Normal; enemy artillery quiet during the day, & up to 12 midnight, when the bombardment of the raid started.

Appendix I Raid scheme 48th D.A. orders & raid map (with “Original” copy of Diary)

Orders etc re the raid attached.

The artillery bombardment in conjunction with the 2 Trench mortars was accurate & effective, & the timing was punctual throughout. It was interesting to note that the enemy did not start retaliation to our bombardment till 12.20, their heavies did not open till 12.35.  Even then our trenches opposite the point of entry did not suffer very much, as most of the German fire was directed on our trenches opposite T.S. of the QUADRLATERAL.

The infantry were delayed in getting to their places and there was some delay in getting their Bangalore Torpedo into position – One of our own guns was afterwards reported by the raiding party to have been falling short on their left & caused some casualties. After the Bangalore torpedo was exploded, there was still some wire left uncut near the German parapet.  While cutting this wire some casualties were incurred, but an entry was made into the first line and 3 Germans are known to have been killed.  By this time the Officer in charge of the raiding party considered it time to withdraw & ordered the return to our own lines.  No prisoners were taken.

It was never discovered which gun was shooting short & it is quite possible that it was German fire & not our own.

The German artillery fire in reply was directed chiefly on the right & left of the front of entry and the heaviest retaliation was opposite the Quadrilateral where our casualties were somewhat heavy owing to lack of sufficient cover.

June 4th

Right Group  Hostile Artillery was much quieter than of late opposite both groups.  Transport was fairly active on PUISIEUX road between 5.30 & 7 p.m.

Left Group   Normal day.

June 5th

Right Group Normal day.

Left Group   Normal day.                     See Appendix V (with original Diary)

June 6th

Right Group & Left Group Normal day.  Enemy artillery rather quieter.

June 7th

Right Group Normal day.  Camouflage observed at Q.6.a.5.1. A 77 mm battery is suspected.  Work continues on K.35.a.40.00.

Left Group Snipers posts located at K.30.c.15.67, K.35.c.40.70, K.35.c.30.40.

June 8th

Right Group  Enemy fired about 90 5.9 shell at C/170, having previously ranged on it some hours before.  One man was wounded, one gun damaged.

Hostile battery was located at R.1.d.7.9 & engaged by 60 pdrs.

Ranging for instruction of Infantry Officers continues. Batteries starting dumping ammunition at the guns today for the forthcoming offensive.

Left Group Train movements observed rather above normal.

June 9th

Right Group Enemy artillery slightly more active.  Machine gun was located at K.29.b.4.0.

Left Group  Normal day.

June 10th

Right Group  Enemy artillery active with 77 mm & 4.2 cm.  Strong parties were working on the trenches in the QUADRILATERAL all night, probably repairing damage done by our 2” Trench mortars, who fired 20 rounds with good effect in the afternoon.  C/170, A/170, D/171 cooperated during this shoot with a large number of rounds.

Left Group Fired over 200 rounds in retaliation for hostile shelling, which was active on our front line in the morning in K.29.b.

June 11th

Right Group  Enemy artillery very quiet

Left Group

June 12th

Right Group & Left Group  Enemy artillery again below normal.  Weather, rainy & bad for observation.

June 13th

Right Group & Left Group  Slight enemy artillery activity confined to 77mm.  Large working party observed in afternoon at K.31.c.7.4.  Weather wet & misty.

June 14th

Both Groups  – Normal day – transports observed by Left Group slightly above normal.

June 15th

Both Groups – report Camouflage in Munich Trench at K36.a.71.82., this has been moved along the trench day by day; it is thought it may be a forward position.


June 16th       On night of 15/16 June 2 guns 134th Battery 4th Div relieved 2 guns C/170.  On night 16/17 remaining guns 134th battery relieved remaining guns C/170.  When this relief was completed C/170 were in their new positions at K.27.c.64.40 & A/170 also withdrew & moved into their new position at K.27.c.64.07.

At 6 p.m. on 16th the Left Group covered the front from North point of JOHN COPSE to K.35.a.4.7., covering both battalions in the line.  The left group was reinforced by D/171.

The batteries, therefore, till the 24th June, were grouped as follows.

Left Group. Lt. Col. W.S.D. Craven.                                                   H.Q. K.25c.23.28.

Cmdg 169 Bde R.F.A.


C/165              K.27.a.16.14.

C/171              K.27.c.05.95.

B/169              K.32.a.91.35.

C/169              K.32.b.20.15.

A/169             K.31.c.71.00.

D/170              Q2.b.10.25.

D/171              Q.7.b.30.80.


16th – 23rd June                                 Reinforcing batteries.

B/165              K.15.d.09.17.                                      During this week these batteries were

A/165              K.21.a.00.80.                                      gradually moved into their new positions

A/171              K.27.a.07.48.                                      by night.  They registered with a few rounds,

D/169              K.27.c.20.10.                                      but did not take part in the defence of the

A/170              K.27.c.64.07.                                      line, as it was not considered desirable to

B/170              K.27.c.22.68.                                      disclose their positions more than was

C/170              K.27.c.64.40.                                      absolutely necessary.

D/165              K.32.d.40.70.

B/171              K.32.c.83.73.

16th June

Right Group  Handed over tactical control to 4th Div Art & O.C. Left Group, 6.30 p.m. this evening.  A trench mortar at Q.5.a.35.45was silenced by our Artillery fire.

Left Group Transport heard during the night seemed much greater than usual.

The IV Division are now on our Right with the 29th Division on their right.

June 17th

Left Group B/169 was shelled with 5.9’s between 6.30 & 7 p.m., causing 7 casualties, 4 killed & 3wounded.  No damage to emplacements.  Enemy aeroplanes were active over our lines.

How. Group. (D171) Normal day.


June 18th

Both Groups  Enemy artillery very quiet.  Hostile aeroplanes again active.

June 19th

Both Groups  Hostile artillery shewed greater activity today, especially with 4.2’s & 5.9’s.  Left Group fired over 200 rounds in group retaliations.

June 20th

Both Groups Normal day.  Preliminary bombardment (wire cutting) to general attack, which should have started at 6 a.m. this morning, was postponed to the 24th.

June 21st

Both Groups  Hostile Artillery slightly more active.  Left Group fired over 150 rounds in retaliation.

June 22nd 23rd

Both Groups  Nothing of interest to report.


June 24th       For the grouping of the Divisional Artillery during the bombardment & attack see attached Appendix.    Appendix III

For reports from 24th June onwards see attached appendix IV.  (pp 24&25).                                                                                                              Appendix IV

Appendix V

Two inch Trench Mortars

T.M.O. Capt Horner 18th W. Yorks


X31     Lieut Binns                                                     S31 was formed from the Div Arty by officers & men who Y31           Capt Kirk                                                        had one week’s course.  2nd Lt Axten was given command Z31            Lieut Alexander                                     of this battery.


V 31 Heavy T.M. Battery (Capt Haney R.F.A.) arrived from the Trench Mortar School on June 4th without guns.  Two mortar positions & ammunition dumps were built, pending the arrival of their guns which, however, were not eventually forthcoming.

Z 23 (Lieut George) with mortars complete was attached to 31 Div Arty from 23rd Div Arty & arrived on June 18th.

Capt Horner T.M.O. was relieved by 2nd Lieut Bates R.F.A. on June 8th.  2nd Lt Bates was given the local rank of captain while employed as T.M.O.   Captain Kirk, on going sick, was relieved in his command by 2nd Lieut Dann R.F.A. on the 2nd June.

Throughout June the personnel of the Trench Mortars assisted by 53 Pioneers (later increased to 100) prepared 18 T.M. positions & ammunition dumps to hold 6000 rounds of ammunition in the trenches.

Dumps of 1000 rounds each were situated in SACKVILLE St., OBSERVATION WOOD & MATTHEW COPSE.  Component parts for dump in OBSERVATION WOOD were stacked in a specially made dug-out off EXCEMA & behind HITTITE.  The remainder of the ammunition was stored in deep dug-outs between each pair of mortar positions.

The transport of 2” T.M. ammunition to the trenches was a heavy task. Lorries carried them to COLINCAMPS & thence by G.S. wagons to EUSTON DUMP – thence by hand to the various positions in the trenches.

The weather was wet & the trenches muddy & very heavy to walk through, & it was almost impossible to get the men carrying bombs to do more than one journey by night.

By the evening of          all the mortars were in position & the ammunition at the various dumps.  The Pioneers had to work day & night shifts during the last 10 days & the ammunition required actually 9000 men to carry it from first to last, including the replenishment of gun pits during the bombardment.

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