From September 1st 1916 – To September 30th 1916



Steenvoorde (Training Billet)

1/9/16 9.30 p.m.       The Brigade continued to carry on training in preparation for action on a new front.


2/9/16 9.00 p.m.       Training as usual.  All officers attended a lecture at 5. p.m. on “Aeroplane photographs” (illustrated by lantern slides)


3/9/16 9.00 p.m.       Brigade Commander inspected all batteries in full marching order.


4/9/16 9.00 p.m.       Heavy rain all day greatly hampered work.


5/9/16 2 a.m.            3rd C.D.A. Operation Order No 17 received, announcing Brigade would go into action on a front between St. Eloi and Kemmel.

10 a.m.           Advance party set off.


6/9/16 2 a.m.            3rd C.D.A. Operation Order No 18 received, giving details of relief of 88th Bde R.F.A. by 9th Bde C.F.A. One section of each battery goes into action tonight.


7/9/16 9.30 p.m.       All batteries have reported relief completed.  We are now “Centre Group”


8/9/16 9.00 p.m.       All batteries carried on registration during the greater part of the day.


9/9/16 9.00 p.m.         Registration continued.  Gas alarms in evening, infantry requested retaliation, which was given, no gas came over.


10/9/16 10 p.m.          To-day infantry reported destruction of tramway at O.13.c.8 ¼ .5. by our fire; also destruction of machine gun by our 33rd Bty.  The 78th Bn are replacing the 73rd Bn in our front to-night.  All batteries began to cut wire in their zones this afternoon.


11/9/16 10 p.m.          All batteries registered.  “Petit Bois Barrage” this morning.  Wire cutting continued systematically in the afternoon.  Operation Order issued by O.C. Left Group to our batteries which are to be placed at his disposal for a contemplated operation.


12/9/16 9 p.m.              Further registration and wire cutting by all batteries.

33rd Bty reports destruction of M.G. emplacement and snipers post.  Enemy shelled Vierstraat quite heavily in retaliation for shelling of Wytschaete by our batteries.  One man in 45th Bty killed and one in 33rd Bty wounded.


13/9/16 9.00 p.m.          36th Howitzer Bty (4.5”) which has been firing with the “Left Group” under Lt. Col. A. McNaughton is back with us (Centre Group) and registering our zone.


14/9/16 10.00 p.m.        Each battery has cut a substantial gap in the wire entanglements in their zones.  This is part of the general operations extending along the whole British Front.

The 33rd Bty reports quite extensive minor operations at request of infantry, having demolished 4 m.g. emplacements and several snipers posts.


15/9/16 10.30 p.m.       Rather quiet day, with little but registration going on.  33rd Bty continued to demolish a few m.g. gun emplacements and snipers posts at request of infantry.  Ammunition shortage was announced tonight, and all batteries warned to limit expenditure to lowest possible amount.


16/9/16 10 p.m.           Firing today practically nil.  Ammunition is being held in reserve for tonight’s raids.



17/9/16 9.25 p.m.        Last night’s bombardment was very successful.  Shrapnel barrage was reported by F.O.O. in Front Line to be very effective and bursts good.  32nd Bty assisted the Right Group with one section, and with the remaining section covered the Centre Group front line.  33rd, 45th and 36th Btys assisted the Left Group.  Successful raids were carried out by both Right and Left Groups; 22 prisoners being taken.


18/9/16 9.30 p.m.        Operations today practically nil, and likely to continue so for a time, as ammunition expenditure has been limited to 10 rds. Per battery per day.


19/9/16 10 p.m.           Very quiet day.


20/9/16 11.45 p.m.      All batteries fired 10 rounds retaliation; otherwise operations nil.  Operation order No 20, 3rd C.D.A. issued today.  10th Can Inf Bde also 12th Can Inf Bde to be relieved by the 4th Australian Division and the 16th Division respectively, on the nights of 20/21st Sept and 23/24th Sept.

3rd C.D.A. to remain in action as at present.


21/9/16 10 p.m.           All batteries were tested with a “Denmark” last night, and got the shot off in time varying from 30 seconds to, in one case, 2 minutes, where the line seemed to be defective and some difficulty was experienced in passing the message from the Trench Station.  Time is taken from the giving of the order to the moment when the shot passes over the trenches.

At 1.30 a.m. today a heavy explosion took place in the German front line opposite Petit Bois, in a place they are supposed to be tunnelling at present.


22/9/16 10 p.m.          Our batteries did their first shoot in cooperation with aircraft today.  The 32nd and 45th each registered one target.  Also the 33rd Battery registered Omnac Farm and the 45th Battery a corner of Grand Bois, fire being directed in both cases by the Brigade Adjutant from the kite balloon at N.29.c.1.1.


23/9/16 10.30 p.m.      A little further work was done with aeroplane cooperation.  Otherwise the day was very quiet.



24/9/16                        The 12th Can Inf Bde which we have so far been covering on this Front has been replaced by the 48th Inf Bde.  Instead of 1 battalion as heretofore, we (Centre Group) are now covering 2 viz 7th Royal Irish Fusiliers and 8th Royal Dublin Fusiliers.  These have just returned from the Somme, and are greatly reduced in strength by casualties.  33rd Bty demolished m.g. emplacement at N.18.c.9 ¼ ¾.  This had been greatly annoying the infantry who had two men killed by it during the afternoon.


25/9/16 11.00 p.m.       Enemy are continuing work very actively in front of Petit Bois.  Strong concrete dugouts are being constructed and trenches are being strengthened.

Hostile shelling cannot reach our front line here effectively due to intervening crest, but enemy is using heavy trench mortars, his activity in this connection having considerably increased of late.  Lieut J.R. Jamieson, 33rd Bty has undertaken the task of locating the enemy mortars with a view to arranging a combined action of our T.Ms, 18-pdrs and 6” Hows to shell them out.

45th Bty shelled an aggressive sniper today, silencing him with 3 rounds.


26/9/16 10 p.m.            32nd Bty knocked out an O.P. with large periscope at O.19.b.7.6.  45th Bty registered road bend O.14.a.6.6. and Omnac Farm, O.14.a.2.1. with balloon observation.

Hostile searchlights active during last night.


27/9/16 11.10 p.m.      At 5.30 p.m. a hostile kite balloon adrift was attacked by our aeroplane and brought down at 5.40 p.m. in a mass of flames in the vicinity of N.31 *** at 165 T.B. from N.13 c.1.9 (Centre Group Hdqrs.)  This balloon had drifted here from Bapaume (30 miles) with a German Officer clinging to a rope under the basket.  *******


28/9/16 9.30 p.m.         33rd Bty fired 12 rounds retaliation at request of infantry.  Otherwise no artillery activity in this group.


29/9/16 11 p.m.            Remainder of this page is unreadable and the next page is missing.




October 1916

October 1916


On the 19th October, the French began a 4 day artillery barrage on Fort Douamont without causing too much destruction to the fabric of building. The French  discussed pre-planned preparations and extensive traini, followed by an attack on the Fort.  Ceasing the bombardment on the 22nd October 1916 the French troops began cheering from their trench lines. The Germans thought an attack by the French was imminent and prepared their defensive measures to repulse the coming onslaught, thus giving away their positions. The French immediately opened up another ranged artillery bombardment. Their infantry remained in their trenches for a further two days. However, on the 23rd October 1916 a massive French shell penetrated the roof of Fort Douamont. This was followed up by a second shell causing more damage. Holes were torn into the 8 feet thick concrete walls of Fort Douamont where they were penetrated by 400mm shells, killing most of the German defenders. Under cover of early morning mist on the morning of the 24th October 1916   the French attacked and re-captured Fort Douamont. The Germans had taken four and a half months to take Fort Douamont, whereas the French had taken one day to recover the ground lost.


The Somme

The Battle of the Ancre Heights began on the 1st October 1916. The British army were positioned from Courcelette to Thiepval. The German army defended the Ancre Heights, by holding the Staufen-Riegel (Regina Trench), Schwaben-Feste (Schwaben Redoubt) and Staufen-Feste (Stuff Redoubt). Capturing the Heights required to be the over-running of individual trenches, rather than whole villages as before during the Somme campaign. The weather deteriorated as autumn turned to winter. Rain and constant artillery shelling had turned the ground to mud. Guns sank into the mire which required up to twelve horses to pull the guns clear. The troops were exhausted, soaked and shivering before struggling through the mud under heavy fire toward their barely seen objectives. The Germans fiercely fought constant attacks and counter-attacks which delayed the British from taking the Heights for more than a month. On the 9th October 1916, Stuff Redoubt was captured, and the Schwarben Redoubt was finally taken on the 14th October 1916. With the advantage of the higher terrain, British ground observation was now possible owing to the exposed flank position of the German forces. By the 21st October 1916, the German counter-attacks had been a series of costly failures while the British had managed to advance 500 yards (460 M) and take the eastern portion of Regina Trench. The exception being the last German foot-hold on Regina Trench. On the 22nd October 1916, the British began numerous attacks and counter-attacks, raids and trench patrolling until the 29th October 1916 when bad weather stopped all operations.

Following the Battle of Flers-Courcellette (15th to 22nd September 1916) the new British front line was under constant view from the heights of the Butte de Warlencourt. The Butte was a mound 50-60 feet (15-18 M) high and protected by many layers of barbed wire. The But is located with Bapaume to the north-east, Pozzieres to the south-west and the village of Le Sars to the south. An attack on the 7th October 1916 by the 1/8th London Regiment (London), the 1/15th London and the 1/7th London against the Butte was halted by machine gun fire. Several patrols were sent out to try to locate the 23rd Division which had in the meantime advanced along the main Albert-Bapaume road and captured the village of Le Sars.

German national hero Oswald Boelcke was killed during a dogfight over the Somme on the 28th October 1916. He crashed whilst flying his Albatros when he collided with another aircraft. Boelcke and the other pilot Erwin Boehme were pursuing the Same Royal Flying Corp aircraft. Boehlke was the first fighter pilot to be awarded The Pour le Merite (The Blue Max). By the end of 1915 he had scored 6 kills and by the end of June 1916 he was up to 19. Whilst commanding Jagdstaffel Justa 2 from the 2nd September to the 26th October 1916 he had shot down a further 11 bringing his total to 40 allied aircraft destroyed. He was buried with full military honours in Cambrai Cemetery of Honour in Dessau. The following day the British Royal Flying Corp dropped a wreath over Justa 2 for a chivalrous and honourable foe. His legacy was his example and teaching, with his star pupil being Manfred von Richthoffen the future “Red Baron”.

The weather during the month of October 1916 was appalling with it raining for no fewer than twenty days. Battlefield conditions had turned the ground into a quagmire of mud and shell holes, due to the heavy rains and continued artillery shelling. As autumn turned to winter the weather on the Somme deteriorated more.  By mid-October existence for the troops, both British and German, in the open, wet, muddy trenches became a test of endurance. The troops were exhausted, cold, wet and hungry as insufficient stores were able to reach the front line owing to the terrible conditions.


The Eastern Front


At the end of the Brusilov Offensive against the Austro-Hungarian forces in September 1916, the Russia army had suffered nearly half a million casualties including 60,000 deserters by October 1916. Their army was exhausted and disillusioned by the losses. The civilian population also suffered massive deprivation, the main problem being food shortages and rising prices. Crime and strikes by the workers increased steadily, but the majority of the population endured the suffering. Government officials responsible for public order was concerned the patience of the lower class population would result in riots. The political unrest was blamed on Tsar Nicholas for the breakdown of the economy. Whatever support the Tsar still retained became disillusioned with the way the war was heading, which eventually led to the Russian Revolution of 1917.


The Balkans

For much of the Great War, Greece had remained neutral despite the Greek King having pro-German sympathies. His wife was the sister of the German Kaiser. At the request of the Greek government the Allies had landed in Salonika to support the hard pressed Serbians in 1915, but the Greeks remained neutral. During September 1916 the Allies had organised a major show of naval strength to the Greek King and on the 10th Oct 1916 the allies seized the Greek fleet. The larger ships were demilitarised and one cruiser and many smaller ships were incorporated into the French navy.

The Romanian Second Army, which was the main central force, attacked the Austro-Hungarian force, from the 7th to 9th October 1916.  The attack was repulsed and the Romanians were forced to retreat. The Romanian 4th Army, attacking the northern part of the border, retreated without too much pressure from the Austro-Hungarian troops. After the successful assault into Transylvania and the inevitable counter-attack at the end of September 1916 the Romanian army began the retreat to the Vulcan and Turnu Rosu Passes. These passes are located on the southern section of Carpathian Mountains along the border. The Central Powers (Germany & Austro-Hungary) had massed large forces for the defence of the Carpathians, consisting mainly of Bavarian mountain troops who were ideally suited to this type of warfare. By the 14th October 1916, and faced with the threat of an attack the Romanian 1st Army offered strong resistance. Near the southern section of the border, in the region of Torgu Jiu, the town was supported by the civilian population, men, women and children. One of these citizens was Ecaterina Teodoroiu , who was to become the “Heroine of the Jiu”. By the 25th October 1916 the Romanian army was back to its original position prior to the Romanian assault into Transylvania. By the 29th October 1916, the German High Command had regrouped their forces in readiness for a renewed attack on the 1st November 1916, after the Romanian troops had halted the German advance on the Jiu valley.

Prior to Romania entering the Great War on the Allies side in 1916, Ecaterina Teodoroiu was to become a teacher. At 22 years old she initially worked as a nurse with the Scouting organisation, and as such was instrumental in moving and tending the wounded.  About that time she decided she wanted to become a front-line soldier. On the 14th October 1916 she joined the civilian and reserve soldiers fighting to repulse the German attack at Jiu River Bridge, as she was deeply impressed by the patriotism of the wounded who she was nursing. On the 30th October 1916 she travelled in her capacity as a nurse to the front-line to see her brother Nicolae who was a Sergeant in the Romanian 18th Infantry Regiment.


The Caucasus and Middle East Campaign

On the 29th October 1916 Hussein ibn Al-Hashmi declared himself King of the Arab Countries. Hussein was a Hashemite Arab leader who was the Sharif and Emir of Mecca. He announced the Arab Revolt would begin against the Ottoman Empire. Despite the promise of support by the British for Arab independence, his aspirations were not accepted by the Allies who recognised him as King only of Hejaz (Modern day Saudi Arabia).


Other Fronts

On the 1st October 1916, eleven airships left their air bases for the largest raid on London. Due to bad weather only seven actually crossed the English coast at Lowestoft. Conditions slowed six of the airships down but Zeppelin L31 commanded by Capitanleutnant Heinrich Mathy set out on a solitary course for London. At approximately 8.00 pm the ground searchlights caught L31 in their beams and to lighten the load Mathy dropped thirty high explosive and twenty six incendiary bombs over Cheshunt in Hertfordshire. The only casualty was one woman who was injured but not fatally. Three hundred houses were damaged and many glass-houses had their glass shattered. Still pinpointed by the searchlight beams and being fired upon by anti-aircraft batteries, L31 headed off toward the west. At approximately 11.45 pm Second Lieutenant Wulstan Tempest spotted L31 and closed with the airship firing his machine-gun along its length. A second attack under the tail and firing the gun along the length when he saw a glow from within the airship and flames shot out the front and the Zeppelin began to fall. Rather than burn to death Mathy, without a parachute, decided to jump. All members of the air-crew were killed. The bodies of the crew were buried in the local churchyard alongside the earlier crew of SL11 the first airship to be shot down and crash the previous September 1916.

German submarines were given permission to hunt for Allied merchant vessels on the 6th October 1916. The German authorities stressed the resumption of the attacks were on the condition the merchant vessels were warned before the attacks commenced.

Founded in 1910, the Imperial German Army Air Service entered service when the first military aircraft were acquired. On the 8th October 1916 the name was changed to Luftstreikrafte (Imperial German Flying Corp). Initially the aircraft were used for reconnaissance and artillery observation duties, but gradually air combat was established. The Western Front was the main focus of air combat and was to produce fighter pilots who were to become aces, with many serving in the Second World War Luftwaffe. Some of the well-known aces produced were Oswald Boelcke, Ernst Udet, Werner Voss, Max Immelmann, Manfred von Richthoffen and Herman Goering. After the defeat of Germany in 1918 under the Treaty of Versailles the Luftstreikrafte was dissolved and all military aircraft destroyed.

The Eighth Battle of Isonzo was fought from the 10th to 12th October 1916 and was essentially a continuation of the Seventh Battle of Isonzo. The Italians attacked the Austro-Hungarian forces in an attempt to extend the bridgehead in Gorizia. As with earlier attacks heavy Italian casualties necessitated a short, sharp concentrated initiative be employed to enable the army to recover their losses. The seemingly continuing onslaught at Isonzo was renewed on the 31st October 1916 with the Ninth Battle of Isonzo.

In late October 1916, the occupying German administration began the deportation of Belgian workers to Germany. At the beginning of the war in 1914, the conscription of German men created a man-power shortage in German factories. From mid-1915 Belgian civilians were encouraged to voluntarily enlist to work in Germany, but the 30,000 recruits were insufficient to meet demands. The military required more German troops and consequently factory labour declined leaving Germany with an even greater man-power shortage. German administration began to consider forcibly deporting Belgian workers to help solve the situation. The deportation began in October 1916 and continued until March 1917, but the 120,000 workers who had been deported proved to be insufficient to meet German needs. Economically the deportations had little effect, but politically, International widespread condemnation of the deportations helped to cause the rise of the Belgian resistance. By late 1917 most of the deported workers had returned to Belgium, influenced by pressure from other neutral powers.














19th Oct                            French began 4 day barrage against Fort Douamont

24th Oct                              French take Fort Douamont


The Somme

1st Oct                                 Battle of Ancre Heights began

7th Oct                                British secure Le Sars

28th Oct                              German air ace Oswald Boelcke killed in action

October                           Heavy rain and the onset of winter


The Eastern Front

October                            Political unrest in Russia


The Balkans

10th Oct                               Allies seize Greek naval warships

7th to 9th Oct                   Romania attacked Austria/Germany forces and were forced to retreat

14th Oct                              Romanian 1st Army had assistance by civilian population in the Jiu Valley

25th Oct                               Romanian was forced back to original position prior to the engagement

29th Oct                               Germans regroup in readiness for further advancement

14th Oct                               Ecaterina Teodoroiu joins the Romanian civilian and reserve troops

30th Oct                               Nurse Ecaterina Teodoroiu goes to the Romanian front-line


The Caucasus and Middle East Campaign

29th Oct                               Sheriff of Mecca proclaimed King of Arabs




Other Fronts

1st Oct                                Zeppelin heaviest bomb raid on London

6th Oct                                 Germany allows unrestricted submarine attacks

8th Oct                                 German air force established

10th to 12th Oct               Eighth Battle of Isonzo

31st Oct                             Ninth Battle of Isonzo

Oct                                     Germans deport Belgian workers to Germany




Alfred George Richardson’s Diary September 1916

Alfred George Richardson’s Diary September 1916


Friday 1st September 1916:     Cold, windy day.  Tons of mud in lines.  Couldn’t keep warm.  Weather “no bon”.

Saturday 2nd September 1916: Wet, cold day.  Delivered 266 A, 38 AX to C/247 batty at 6 pm.


Sunday 3rd September 1916:   Terrific artillery bombardment, followed by infantry actions.  “The Glorious 3rd Sept”.  49th Divisional infantry opposed by a stubborn resistance.  Failure in front of Thiepval. – Hot shop.

Monday 4th September 1916:  4 am to B/247 – 400 A.  3 pm to B/247 114 A, 38 AX.  Heavy day.


Tuesday 5th September 1916:  Showery.  Artillery fire terrible beyond words.  Went to “Tykes” at night.  Splendid performance.

Wednesday 6th September 1916: 456 A, 152 AX to A/247 at 8.30 am.  Many Boches aeroplanes visit us.  Two (2) bombs dropped on dump.  3 men slightly wounded, 4 horses wounded one having to be shot.  Got there practically first.  Pieces of bomb as souvenir.


Thursday 7th September 1916: A quiet day.  Fine weather; gun fire never ceases.  Tremendous “straffe” at night.

Friday 8th September 1916:     Delivered 304 A, 76 AX to C/247 Battery at 7 am.  The Boche sent 16 balloons over our lines with newspapers containing slanderous matter etc.  Got one as souvenir.  Anti-aircraft fire at them.  Great joke.


Saturday 9th September 1916: Rose at 7.30 am.  Fine day.  Heavy Artillery bombardment never ceases.  Received 684 A 228 AX from 49th Dump 7 pm.

Sunday 10th September 1916: Rose at 7.45 am.  Glorious day.  Great artillery duels.  456 A 152 AX to A/247 at 1.30 am.


Monday 11th September 1916:  Fine day.  Artillery at it in early hours.  Nothing doing rest of day.  Busy with nominal rolls of sect etc.

Tuesday 12th September 1916: Delivered 228 A 76 AX to C/247 Batty at 1.30 am.  Glorious morn up.  Very fine but ghastly sight over        towards THIEPVAL.



Wednesday 13th September 1916: Cold morning, early on.  Received 228 A 228 AX from Dump at 6 pm.

Thursday 14th September 1916: Delivered at 11.30 am to A/247 Battery: – 228 “A” 172  “AX”.  “Heavy” artillery duel.  Nothing doing   much at MESNIL.


Friday 15th September 1916:   Awfully cold morning.  2 Boch aeroplanes over, but no bombs.  Fine in middle of day.  “Heavies” at it all        morning, great artillery duel.


There are no further diary entries after 15th September 1916.

H.E. WITTY Sep 16

H.E. WITTY Sep 16


  1. Section


1st September 1916.  Friday.  Stayed in trucks overnight and left for Fricourt (German 1st line before advance) 10 A.M.  (Met everything *** “pertaining to war on our march).  Albert Statue plainly visible.  Spent day getting in stores with lorry – slept in German dug-out.  This dug-out excellently constructed about 20’ underground – reached by two flights of steps.  Connected with next dug-out by a small tunnel.  Remains of dead bodies everywhere.


2nd September 1916.  Saturday.  Extra hard day near Mametz Wood (German 2nd line defence).  Preparing dug-outs in chalk hill.  This will undoubtedly be a long affair.  Gun position being prepared near our dug-outs.  German prisoners pass constantly.


3rd September 1916.  Sunday.  Strenuous day – turned out at 5.45 a.m. and walked with Mr. Mallins to O.P. in front line trench near Martinpuich.  Present at attack on High Wood – too thick with smoke from German guns to distinguish details.  Had a good view of mine explosion which was signal for the attack.  Our vicinity heavily shelled.  Twice hit with fragments of shell.  Mametz Wood a mass of ploughed ground – also surrounding country.  Contalmaison non-existent.  Odour from dead bodies.  Phew!!!


4th September 1916.  Monday.  On telephone – had my first attempt at washing.  Rain in morning but fine rest of day.  Fricourt Wood shelled.  NO MAIL.  Wrote R.  Shelled FRICOURT CIRCUS.  BOTTS’ visit from Albert.


5th September 1916.  Tuesday.  On telephone – weather variable.  Very cold.  Nothing doing thro’ bad weather.  Letter from Douglas.  ANS.


6th September 1916.  Wednesday.  On telephone and lines – badly broken.  Walked to Becourt Wood (2 ½ miles) for an open air shower bath.  Splendid.  Discovered some huge “Minnies” 10” diameter in a dug-out.  Good mail.  Letters Pa, R., Mary and home.  Papers home and Scott.  Fine day.


7th September 1916.  Thursday.  On telephone – also on lines in afternoon.  No 1 Position heavily shelled.  Hit on hand with a splinter of shell.  60 Pounder got away safely.  NO MAIL.  Weather dry but overcast.


8th September 1916.  Friday.  On telephone – also on bty line.  Completed dug-out and then learnt we were leaving at 4 p.m.  Travelled to Meaulte and reached Maricourt about midnight.  Letters R., Kathie and book from Miss R.


9th September 1916.  Saturday.  Worked on gun unloading shell cartridges etc until 5 a.m.  Had two hours rest and then put in 4 hours laying lines.  Met 45 Siege on same loop as us.  Expecting a big shoot subject to good weather.  First acquaintance with ”ARMADILL”.  Conversation with Lors soldier – sad case of wife and girl.  Weather fine.  Went into action but only fired 12 rounds owing to faulty recoil buffer.



10th September 1916.  Sunday.  On telephone 3 a.m. – slept splendidly last night in bivouac.  Laid a line to 45 to get through to H.Q. – Line to 83 broken repaired after tea.  Saw remains of 9.2.  Enormous crater.  Neighbourhood heavily shelled.  Little damage Loss of Ginchy.  NO MAIL.  Weather fine and warm.  “The Garrisons’ Deathtrap” Maricourt.


11th September 1916.  Monday.  On telephone – unable to shoot owing to ineffectual observation.  Received orders to pack up and depart tomorrow.  Fine day – Letters R., Ma home, N.T., Humberstone and Gladys.  Ans.


12th September 1916.  Tuesday.  On telephone 3 a.m. to breakfast – also 9 a.m. to 12.  Standing by to fire 40 rounds to E. of Combles in support of French.  Observation from Balloon failed.  Received orders to move out at 1 o’clock.  Day fine but cloudy.  “Shelled at Latrine at 2 a.m.” Ugh.  Moved to new siding.  On telephone.  Letter from Mr. Woodthorpe.


13th September 1916.  Wednesday.  On telephone 3 p.m.  Expecting to fire 40 rounds in support of the French attack.  Fired 1 rd at 7.25.6.  New CB idea to fire from many bties so that shells fall at one time.  NO MAIL.


14th September 1916.  Thursday.  A great day.  Left at 7 p.m. for LEUZE WOOD O.P.  (200 yds from Germans – in front of our 1st line).  Passed thro’ Hardicourt and had view of GINCHY and COMBLES.  Horrible sights en route.  Heavily shelled all day – especially when repairing line.  Hit in groin with a piece of shell – most painful.  Hostile balloon brought down – in flames.  Great activity.  What does it portend?  MAIL; Pal & letter (R.).  Letters N.T. and home.  Ans tomorrow.


15th September 1916. Friday.  Grand attack on LEUZE WOOD front – great successes.  1st use of the “Armadill” – conflicting reports re their advantages.  3000 Yds advance.  Saw many wounded both English and German.  Cavalry reported in action.  We fired many rounds on MORVAL and LES BOEUFS.  On telephone in morning.  Glorious day.  Balloon breaks away – descent by parachute.  NO MAIL.


16th September 1916.  Saturday.  On telephone most of day.  Reported success at Les Boeufs and MORVAL.  Grand French advance – in action all the day.  Case of the Zouave and the letter to his officer’s wife.  Fine weather.  NO MAIL up.  Case of pea-soup.  (code).


17th September 1916.   Sunday.  On telephone Mallins at 0.P. with Caller, Gill, Candlin.  Knight returned to duty.  Great shoot on the quadrilateral – very dull – 92 rounds fired.  Mail up.  Letter R.  Papers home and Scott.  P.C. Gilbert.  ANS.  A few shells fall in vicinity of camp one just missing the telephone hut.


18th September 1916.  Monday.  On telephone 3 a.m. – very rainy morning – in action 5.50 a.m.  Fired 9 rounds on MORVAL.  Quadrilateral captured after our preparation.  Heavy rains make bivouac life most unpleasant.  Letter from Ira.  Major idea that I should be B.C.s assistant to help him with his calculations.  Thanks of the Infantry.


19th September 1916.  Tuesday.  Heavy showers today but mainly fine.  Recover from my attack of diarrhoea which has been troubling me for the past 36 hrs.  Laid a line to m.c. in French lines.  Line laid to north of Ginchy.  Expectation of big shoot for tomorrow.  Postponed.  Letters R., Peg.  Ans.  Saw French ammunition ‘Dump’ go up.  Some sight.  Laid line to M.C. in French line.


20th September 1916.  Wednesday.  On telephone 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. (fine & moonlight but intensely cold.  Am a little better off then Scroogs clerk as I warm myself a little with the Primus.  On M.C. line twice in morning & afternoon – drenched – visit of the General.  No mail.


21st September 1916.  Thursday.  Big shoot – fired 110 rounds in preparation for tomorrow’s attack on Les Boeufs and Morval.  Aeroplane observation – fine day – rather chilly but sunny.  Walked down to the Loop for Kit (4 miles).  No Mail.  Bombardment postponed.


22nd September 1916.  Friday.  On telephone 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. & then on line to C.M. (in French lines).  Lovely sunny day – cool.  Enjoyable after last night’s bitter cold.  Fired 34 rounds on”Sunken Road” near Les Boeufs.  (Aeroplane and balloon observation).  Fritz retaliates.  One shell falls 3 yds off amn (Dud) while another just misses gun and explodes 4 yds away.  Poor Stemp killed instantly.  Had a narrow escape one falling just short of telephone hut and covering me with dirt.  Acted as Major’s assistant today.  Hope the job continues.


23rd September 1916.  Saturday.  Off duty today but went out to repair M.C. line.  Another lovely day.  Good Mail.  Letters N.T., Home, Scott.  Paper Scott.  ANS.  Inspection of gun by I.oM. who condemns it after yesterday.  Camp again shelled during the night.


24th September 1916.  Sunday.  Expecting to move back to Loop.  Very little doing.  On telephone.  Mail.  Letters Kathie and Alice.  Another fine day.  1 detachment for amn fatigues.  On night duty.  Moving tomorrow.


25th September 1916.  Monday.  Getting lines in before removing at 10 a.m.  packed up and moved to Loop.  Had a ride in train up to Mountauban.  Letter R.  Parcels R. (letter from Ma) and Mother.  ANS.


26th September 1916.  Tuesday.  Finally settled down after a good night.  .  Barney goes sick with a crocked ankle.  Another fine day.  Saw many prisoners and wounded Huns yesterday.  Reported capture of LES BOEUFS and MORVAL.  Saw some 2000 prisoners – rather poor specimens.  Very different from those I saw dead in the Sunken Road     GINCHY.  NO MAIL.


27th September 1916.  Wednesday.  Had a good night.  Heard from French soldiers that COMBLES had been taken.  Heard of the capture of THIEPVAL, GOURDECOURT and COMBLES.  Neighbourhood bombed last night by two Taubes.  NO MAIL.  Showery.


28th September 1916.  Thursday.  Fine with occasional showers.  Good news still pouring in.  Spent day in the ‘office’.  Letter from R. ANS.   No further news of COMBLES.  BRAY shelled with little damage.  Letter from Gilbert.  ANS.


29th September 1916.  Friday.  Spent the day with Clements in the ‘office’.  Barney’s ankle broken (Court of Enquiry).  Day wet and unsettled.  Heavy firing up Combles way.  Letters N.T. & Home.  Ans.


30th September 1916.  Saturday.  Fine day – very windy.  Another busy day in ‘the office’.  Leave commences today.  Turner and Cousins.  Letter R. Dorothy and papers from home.  Our old pn. very heavily shelled.

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne September 1916

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne




Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda &




September 1916.





The Brigade was reorganised in Six gun batteries, and became a Brigade of two six gun batteries instead of three four gun 18 pdr. batteries. B Battery was split up between A/175 and C/175, and the latter battery renamed B/175.


SEPTEMBER 1, 1916.

The weather has been truly awful this last week. For two days it rained continuously.  One night I spent in the trenches, living like a water rat, and I felt like one.  The dug-out or what passes for one in this area leaked badly, and my silly servant opened my bedding, and when I turned in I found a large pool in the middle.  Cursing is ineffective for drying blankets.


We have ceased moving about for a bit, and after living in caves and holes in the ground the battery personnel is housed in a farm-house, and the guns in pits under the trees of an orchard, firing over a country lane much to the surprise of the unaware passers-by. Certainly the house is a dilapidated one and full of holes.  But there is one fairly good room though small.  One side boasts of panelling of sorts, and to cover up blemishes I am having it painted with white enamel with a blue edging.  So it will look a bit more cheerful.  At present we lack furniture, but looting will cure that defect.


We have returned to our old area. I have left my old battery and am now in a six gun battery, but in the same brigade, A Battery.  The battery commander is an old Etonian and “shop” boy.  He will now be a major.  The subalterns are all regulars.


The battery is still in the line, and we do some firing when the spirit moves us; but it is very quiet. I am going into the town of A… this afternoon for tea at the tea shop.


Last night I watched the infantry rations come up. It was most amusing.  The major wanted them to come up sorted ready for distribution in the G.S. wagons.  But no!  What has been must always be.  Such is the army way.  Rations must come up in bulk and the division made after dark where they are unloaded.  The usual confusion followed.  The orderlies seemed to chuck the rations in the air like small boys with nuts and scramble for them.  Result, some men had two loaves, some two tins of bully beef, one had all the company’s salt ration.  Another man looking miserable was asked by the O.C. what his trouble was, and replied that he had his dry ration of tea, but could find no water.


On the way up the relief had discovered a French civilian lying with his head on the metals of a railway which had not been used for two years. He must have been trying to wreck a train due for the next advance.  The party did not know what to do with him.  Can’t you imagine their consultation in the dark?  And the varied advice offered?  Eventually they took him along with them for some distance.  At last the officer in charge discovered a civilian in his ranks.  So as they could not possibly take a civilian into the trenches with them they lost him on the way.  He must have been mad or drunk, the civilian, I mean.


The flies worry us a lot here too, but they are not as bad as they were in the south. There they were big and fat drunken looking blue and green things, and seemed to be every where.  Here we also get mosquitoes, which love feeding on us.


The old routine has begun again, but it seems worse now after all our recent excitement.


Have you read “The Great Push” by Patrick McGill? I have sent for a copy.



September, 3, 1916.

A/175, Bde. R.F.A.


I am now with a six gun battery, and in accordance with the Colonel’s orders second in command.


At present we are living in an old and broken down farmhouse just outside a small village. There is one small but fairly watertight room which we use for a mess.  It is panelled and we are painting it white with a blue border.  The ceiling is also white and the beams black.  Two polished cartridge cases serve as the only mantelpiece ornaments.  One wall is papered with maps.  We have looted some chairs, a table and a carpet.


The O.P. is quite near by, but does not afford a very good view, and is certainly not watertight. However I have had worse.


It is somewhat of a relief to get away from the south. Our artillery were there longer than most other troops.


One of my best friends, Haydon by name, an old Marlborough boy and a good officer, was killed only two days before we left while acting as Liaison Officer.  He went up into the trenches and was never seen or heard of again.  He was an excellent fellow.  It was bad luck going through that time only to get killed at the last moment.  He was in our battery for some time.  Another officer, who was the Colonel’s Orderly Officer, was killed early on.  Two F.O.Os were casualties on the 1st July.  One, Hickman, was killed.  I understand he was shot when wounded by a Boche.  The other was badly wounded in the stomach, and is now in England.  I suppose I am lucky.  I was knocked over once and scratched, but nothing very serious.  Well, it is something to have been through.  Now we are out of it we can look back with some pride and say, “I was there.”



September 5, 1916.

I am now in A Battery, to which all letters should now be sent.


The weather is typical Flanders weather.  It always seems to be raining.  In contemplation of a winter here we are trying to make ourselves as comfortable as possible.  We have removed the horrid French stove in the mess together with its iron chimney, and chopped away the plaster and exposed the brick.  It looks quite nice and I hope will give a good fire.  The woodwork is being painted white.  The windows are a problem as the glass is all broken, and it will be difficult to find unbroken panes.  We need some chairs too.  But I have no doubt we shall find some in the houses in the neighbourhood.


As ornaments brass cartridge cases when polished do very well with an old enamelled ginger jar. We must do something to cover up the atrocious wall paper.  On a shopping expedition last Saturday the B.C. and I bought a lamp, table cloths, and other requisites of civilization.


Today I am up at the O.P., but there is very little doing as it is pouring with rain.


Have you seen any moving pictures of the Somme battles.  I hear they are worth seeing.  We do not come into any, but I saw an operator one day.



September 11, 1916.

The Thatched Cottage,

(at least it was once.)

What a fuss they are making at home about the Zeppelins, and the fellow who was lucky enough to bring one down. I understand it is contemplated erecting a large monument.  It would be better to use the money for other purposes, for instance the wounded and disabled soldiers after the war.  When the danger is all over they will be forgotten.  We can hardly expect this war to be an exception from the rule of other wars when the returned soldier stank in the nostrils of civilians.


Our mess is now furnished with a round table, two arm chairs, and four small chairs, and large oak chest, three earthenware jars, and one solitary picture.


At present things are very quiet here, but there is plenty to do as we are one officer short.

It is raining hard this afternoon again.


After our meagre fare on the Somme we are indulging our appetites a little.  A little greediness may be excused.  The other night we had for dinner: Sardines and olives; mock turtle soup; curried prawns; Roast beef with potatoes, cabbage and beans; fruit salad and cornflower; anchovies on toast; cheese and biscuits; your melon (most acceptable) and grapes (the contribution from home of another member of the mess); and coffee.  For drink we had French red wine, beer, liqueur brandy and whiskey.


Another blessing is that we can get our washing done decently, and not by one’s servant, badly and only occasionally.

There is hardly any night firing either, and we can now get a good night’s sleep.


So you see we are in luck’s way. Of course it is as it used to be when we were first here, but the comparison after the Somme makes it so different.


My clothes are sadly dilapidated. I am still wearing the old service jacket I had when I first joined two years ago.  It will be pleasant to wear mufti again.


Then the gramophone is nearly worn out and makes scratchy noises, but it still has to go on duty every evening.


SEPTEMBER 14, 1916.



We are glad to be in a “house” again. I have put its name on my letter.  Some one painted it up the other day, but he was rather off the mark, as there is not much thatch left now.  Other names have been suggested, e.g., “Au retour du Somme”, or “The Berkeley”, or “Porty’s Estaminet” or even “Au Reve de Blighty”.  This place is not merely a house.  There is the usual courtyard with the usual square brick manure pool, which we have filled in with earth, and planted with rose bushes.  It was necessary.  Then there is a delightful orchard full of shell holes at any rate.  There are also two or three barns where the troops sleep and nibble their biscuits by way of rations.  Last but not least there is what looks like a lodge at the entrance where the officer’s mess cook presides over tin plates and broken glass.  These hereditaments deserve, I think, the description of park or demesne.  Further description I may not give you, for you may be a German spy.


The other evening I was alone in the battery, sitting in proud but lonely occupation of our mess, and feeling more or less contented (unusual), and censoring letters (usual), when bang! A 5.9 landed right in the middle of our estate. My first reaction usually urges instant flight.  On this occasion I actually hesitated.  How could I leave the precious mess we were trying so hard to make decent and comfortable to the hard hearted 5.9. H.E.? On second thoughts, however, I fortunately realised that it would be better to save myself, as I could not put the mess in my pocket and run away with it.  I dashed out shouting the necessary orders to leave the buildings, but the place was deserted.  Even the officer’s dinner was left to look after itself.  It is always best to leave bricks and mortar when H.E. is flying about.  No, you are wrong, quite wrong, for after a few rounds, doing no more harm than cover the place in dirt, and churn up a bit more of the orchard, and without hitting the precious mess, the Hun left off.  Delicately, like Agags, the troops came trickling back.


The cooler weather has settled the flies for us; but I would rather have flies than the cold of today. I am at present perched on two bits of wood in the rafters of the top attic of a house (Moat Farm), and supposed to be observing.  The wind is cold and high.  It is raining hard, and the water comes in through the roof.  On my right is a 60 pdr.  Observing officer using most vile language; on my left is a 4.5 How. ditto pretending he likes it.  Down below whispering together are our respective signallers or telephonists and look out men.  When the rain clears, the everlasting buzzing of field telephones will begin again, and the monotonous repetition of “’ullo, ‘ullo, Battry, ‘ullo, ‘ullo”, till the light quite goes.


My horses are not bad, but nothing like the chestnut I used to have, which got killed by the Boche. The old thing is buried near here.  I am glad I am with the guns in this weather.  The wagon lines would drive me frantic.  I might take care of three or four horses in this weather, but when one is responsible for keeping two hundred in good health and well groomed and the harness clean with too few drivers to do the work it is a melancholy job.  In such conditions personally to superintend in pouring rain early morning stables, the watering of horses four times a day in meagre troughs, and other wagon line work in open muddy fields is hardly exhilarating.  I prefer the excitement of the gun-line.


You ask me what I think of Patrick MacGill’s book “The Great Push”. Not much.  I am suspicious of all war books.  It is not possible to describe for those who have not been here what the war is like because there is no common experience, and words are inadequate to convey impressions of it to another.  There is also the writer’s bias, which usually tends to give another wrong ideas.  The emphasis is of too high or too low.  Ian Hay is cheerfully optimistic, leaves out the horrors, and writes for maiden ladies or boys.  His presentation is not true.  MacGill, on the other hand is realistic, but dwells on the horrors disproportionately.  Certain incidents are not perhaps overdrawn but life here is not a continuous series of such incidents.  While the war is on I do not see the use of writing such books, for they only upset those whose men are out here without being able to alter things in any way.  The idealistic books are of far more value while the war is on.  We should make the best of conditions while it lasts, and so hearten people.  But I daresay he wants to make some money.  Even MacGill has to be reticent about some things.  “The battle line is a secret world, a world of curses.  The guilty secret of war is shrouded in lies, and shielded by bloodstained swords; to know it you must be one of those who wage it, a party to dark and mysterious orgies of carnage.”  It sounds silly doesn’t it?  But still there is something in it.  So why write about it?  It is certainly a contrast to the rot journalists write in the daily papers.  He describes Loos.  One day stronger language will have to be used about the Somme.


For the rest he is sometimes inaccurate. By “star-shells” he means “Very Lights”; few cellars are safe; cats don’t “croon love songs”; concussion shells are usually called “High Explosive” or H.E. for short; and all soldiers do not get drunk the night before they “go over the top”.  Finally gunners do not sleep all day, and they do not organise “strafes” of their own free will without being ordered to do so.


Now you see what a wet day in the line can produce.



September 16, 1916.

We are still in our Thatched Cottage. Things are getting much more lively here now.  Excellent news comes from the Somme, but I always feel now that I have to discount a good deal of what one hears.


The weather is still bad, and it is much colder now. Our bedroom requires considerable renovation, especially as all the windows are out.  There is no proper door either.  The wheeler must do something about it.



September, 16, 1916.

The Thatched Cottage


I am told I am getting blasé and easily bored. I admit it.  But I never am when I get the chance of killing Boche.  It is far more exciting than killing pheasants because, I suppose it is more dangerous.  But the job is not so easy.  One has to keep cool and send to the battery some sort of intelligible orders, “5 minutes more right, add two five, Corrector 160, repeat.”  That sort of thing.


The weather is as usual beastly, and now it is getting cold.


We had a dinner party the other night. It was as follows, Sardines and olives, bottled mock turtle soup, tinned fish, joint and three vegetables, tinned fruit sweets, savoury of anchovies on toast, three kinds of wine, fruit, coffee and cigars.  We do not dine like this every night.


SEPTEMBER 21, 1916.

From Bois Grenier the Brigade moved to Houplines and came under the orders of the C.R.A. Frank’s Force.

This Force relieved the 51st Highland Division in the line.



September, 23, 1916.

We have left our happy home, and moved again. They cannot leave us alone.  We moved out at three hour’s notice, and were clear in ¾ of an hour.  Then we marched eight miles.  As we could not move until it was dark, we were rather late in turning in.  We had to leave our precious mess, and it was the staff who robbed us of it and not the Boche.  We went into action in another place two nights afterwards in quite different surroundings.  Still we have an excellent billet with plenty of furniture.  We each have a bedroom with doors still on, which is unusual.  We are short handed, one officer away and one short.


SEPTEMBER 30, 1916.

34th Division carried out a raid with the Mushroom Salient as the objective, and captured one prisoner.


SEPTEMBER 30, 1916.

There are people who write “How fine and jolly it must be giving the Germans a good hiding”. This was actually written to one of our officers the other day.


The Y.M.C.A. are doing a great work out here. Of all institutions for helping the troops they are the best.


You seem to be having an exciting time with Zepps in London now; but they seem to have a rotten time when they arrive.  I suppose more heroes will be getting V.Cs and untold wealth.


The Boche after all did not deprive us of our mess. It was our wonderful Staff who did that.  They moved us out at an hour’s notice.  Now we are in another part of the line.  (Houplines).  We have a large billet (a factory), and much more furniture.  I have a large bedroom to myself.  Two officers are away.  One was posted elsewhere, and the other is on leave as he had not been home since last November.  But leave for the rest of us has now been stopped just as we were hoping to get away.  Of course all the Staff and the A.S.C. have theirs regularly.  Poor things!  They do have such hard work and nerve shattering times in their offices and chateaux and seaside towns behind the line.  We cannot grudge them their little relaxations.


The Captain is away and I am in charge with only two subs to help in all there is to do. The Colonel has been worrying on the phone all the morning; numerous notes have been arriving from various higher commands; the men are getting slack and lazy.  I have lost half my kit and the rest is not fit to wear.  The weather is getting much colder.  I was up late last night or rather this morning playing bridge.  Now I have sore ribs from falling down a big hole in the road the other night with the B.C. on top of me.  We were coming back in the pitch dark from dining out (in Armentieres).  No we were quite sober!  But we were walking along what used to be the pavement when it suddenly ceased in a big shell hole.  I fell in first.  And twelve stone on top finished me.  Such is my tale of woe.


But still today is fine. It is getting nearly time for the mail to arrive, which it does soon after dark.


So tennis is still going on. Heavens!  I have not seen anyone in whites this year, except the B.C. in his wonderful “robe de nuit”.


One or two famous institutions run by civilians have closed down owing to the unwelcome attentions of the Boche, but the tea shop carries on though depleted somewhat of its former glory.


I have discovered a delightful old oak chest well carved. Unfortunately it has been covered with cheap varnish.  This is now being scraped off by various members of the mess with bits of glass, at odd moments.  How I hate varnish.  It is of the same moral category as eye-wash much in evidence in H.M. Army, especially among the higher ranks.


CONFIDENTIAL.                                                                                          MS/H3631

Franks’ Force R.A. G/69

175th Bde. S/39


2nd Army.


In future the Victoria Cross or other immediate reward will not be given for the rescue of wounded, excepting to those whose duty it is to care for such cases.


Such attempts, more often than not, result in the death of would-be rescuer and rescued. Moreover, it depletes the fighting strength of Units perhaps at most critical moments.


Please communicate this decision to all concerned as soon as possible.

(sd.) W.E. PEYTON, Major General,

Military Secretary

to Commander in Chief.

General Headquarters,




2nd Anzac

Passed to you for information and communication to all concerned.

(sd.) J. Knowles, Major,

A.M.S., Second Army.

2nd Army



(175th Brigade  Right Group, R.A. Franks’ Force 5-10-16


Alf Smith letter 26 Sept 1916

Addressee T. Smith Esq., 24, Palmerston Rd., Bowes Park London N. England

Passed Field Censor 1555. Signature unreadable.


Sept 26th 16


Dear Father


Just to let you know I am still jogging along alright, although still in bed.  I cannot say that I feel very ill but the doctors know best.  I don’t expect it will do me any harm to stop here for a bit although it gets rather tiring.

We came here last Saturday had 11 hrs ride in an ambulance train.  It was packed.  I had the middle bed so I had a good view of the country the first time I have had a chance of seeing much of it was we travelled at night when we went up the line.

I am very close to “Blighty” now. It is only the water in between but I don’t think I am bad enough to get over to England worse luck.

I expect I shall be convalescent in a few days & I shall probably be there long enough to give you an address to write to. I shall be very pleased to get some news again.  I come off alright for new laid eggs now.  Always have one for tea.  They are tres bon.

Well I think I must conclude now.

I hope you are all in the best of health.


With much love from

Your devoted



Letter to Hammonds 21 Sept 1916





Sept 21st (1916)


My Dear Auntie

Mother and I are thinking of coming over to see you on Friday (tomorrow) afternoon.  I have to go to Manchester to do some shopping but mother will come straight to Stockport and says if you are going to the market will you meet her at the bottom of Station Road at 2.30 and she will go with you.  If you are not there she will come up to your house by car.  I shall come to Stockport later in the afternoon when I have finished my shopping.  I hope Gladys will be at home as I want to see her and I think this will be our last chance of coming to see you before I go up to Oxford.

We have had rather better weather the last two days, but before then the rain was shocking

With love to all

Yours affectionately



With cover to E. Hammond, 9 Countess Street, Stockport postmarked Macclesfield 5.45 pm 21 SP 16.


Hammond letter 21 Sept 1916

62 Benyon Road


London N

Dear Ted & Mary

I hope you are quite alright after your holiday & that you have a good account of Fred & George.  It does make one wonder how they are still going on when we read what terrible battles are raging with the dark prospect that we may have to face another winter.  However I believe the Lord will give us strength equal to our day.  We must trust in Him & He will be our Defender.  We are expecting that the Zepps may come anytime now that the nights are dark & calm.  We do do some looking out now for the searchlights.  If they do not come out we think the Zepps are on the way.  Hoping you are all well.  Love to all M.A.


Postmarked London Sep 21.16A 5.15PM

Narrative of the Operations carried out by the 20th (Light) Division 15 Sept 1916

G.S. 555/60

20th Division


XIV Corps




With reference to my G.S. 555/60 dated 5th inst.

I submit herewith a complete narrative of the operations undertaken by the troops under my command on the 3rd, 4th and 5th September.  I would particularly call the Corps Commander’s attention to my recommendations made in para 14.  This was compiled by Lieut. Colonel James who was acting as G.S.O. I during the operation.


(sd) W. Douglas Smith, Major General,

15th Sept. 1916.

Commanding 20th Division




On 3rd, 4th and 5th SEPTEMBER, 1916




  1. Movements previous to the attack.
  2. Strength of the Infantry Brigades employed.
  3. Dispositions and Orders for the attack. Push pipes and Flammenwerfers.
  4. Attack on the first objective.
  5. Attack on the second objective.
  6. Attack on the third objective.
  7. Attempt to capture fourth objective.
  8. Events on 4th September.
  9. Events on 5th September.
  10. Casualties.
  11. Work of the R.E. and Pioneers.
  12. Work of the Signal Company.
  13. Lessons to be learnt from the Operation.
  14. Recommendations.





APPENDIX    1. Revised Operation Orders of 27th August and covering minute.

  1. Orders for the defence of GUILLEMONT.
  2. Operation Order No. 95.
  3. Operation Order No. 96.
  4. Operation Order No. 97.
  5. Operation Order No. 98.
  6. Report on the communications of the 20th Division during the operation.




MAP   A.        Showing objectives.

  1. Showing the Artillery Barrages.
  2. Showing positions of Assembly.
  3. Showing Dispositions at 12.30 p.m. on 3rd
  4. Showing Dispositions at 1.30 p.m. on 3rd
  5. Showing Dispositions at 3.45 p.m. on 3rd
  6. Showing Dispositions at 2. a.m. on 4th




On 3rd, 4th, and 5th September.


  1. Movements previous to the attack.


The Operations carried out by my Division on the 3rd September had, as you are aware, originally been planned to commence on August 24th, but, owing to various causes, including inclement weather, they were postponed  from time to time and the attack was not actually launched until noon on 3rd instant.

These unavoidable delays, owing to the inclement weather, gave rise to a considerable amount of sickness, chiefly due to trench feet and diarrhoea which, together with considerable casualties, reduced the fighting strength of the Infantry to a serious extent.

This reduction of strength, combined with persistent bombardment with gas shells, rendered it necessary to with-draw the 60th Inf. Bde. from the left sector of the Divisional front and to replace it by the 47th Infantry Brigade which you placed at my disposal for that purpose.  The 60th Infantry Brigade was relieved successfully on 31st August and was placed in Divisional Reserve at Carnoy.

On the night 2nd/3rd September the 59th Infantry Brigade reinforced by 6th Battn Ox & Bucks L.I. (from 60th Brigade) relieved the 61st Infantry Brigade in the Right sector of the line, and the 47th Infantry Brigade took up its battle position in the Left Sector.  When relieved the 61st Infantry Brigade fell back into Divisional Support.  This Brigade had orders to place one battalion at the disposal of each of the two assaulting Brigades to assist in capturing the fourth objective should it be found that by that time they were unable to do so with the troops of their own Brigades.  The remaining two battalions were ordered to move forward and occupy positions as they were vacated by other units in their front; in this way a reserve of fresh troops was always at hand to meet any emergency.  The two battalions placed at the disposal of the assaulting Brigades viz: 7th Somerset L.I. and 12th King’s Liverpools moved to their battle positions, the Somersets in the trenches between TRONES AND BERNAFAY WOODS, the Liverpools in the trenches in BERNAFAY WOOD itself.  The remaining two battalions of this Brigade and the Brigade H.Qrs concentrated at the CRATERS.



  1. Strength of Brigades.

The available strength (Actual number of rifles) of the Infantry Brigades at the commencement of the operation was approximately as follows:-

47th Infantry Brigade …..                   2400

59th Inf Bde plus Ox & Bucks.           2300

60th Inf Bde less Ox & Bucks             1000

61st Inf Bde                                         2253

Total                7953


  1. Dispositions and orders for the attack.


Owing to the several occasions on which the attack had been postponed, various slight alterations had to be made to the Operation Orders originally issued. Revised Operation Orders embodying these alterations were therefore issued on the 2nd Sept. and a copy of these orders is attached hereto as Appendix 1.  the objectives allotted to the Division are shewn on attached Map “A”.

In accordance with my orders troops under my command occupied the following positions during the night of 2nd/3rd inst., it being impossible to move them into position by daylight.


Right Attack.  59th Inf. Brigade H.Qrs at the BRIQUETERIE.

(a). Front line, from right to left – 11th R.B., 10th R.B., 10th K.R.R., plus one Coy 11th K.R.R.

In Support. –  Ox & Bucks L.I. in SHERWOOD TRENCH.

In Reserve. – 11th K.R.R. less one Coy in LIDDEL TRENCH S. of BERNAFAY WOOD.

(b) The 96th Field Coy R.E. and one Coy 11th Durham L.I. Pioneers, attached to 59th Inf. Bde. were divided, one section R.E. being in SHERWOOD TRENCH about S.30.a.9.8., one section R.E. in JACKSON TRENCH about S.30.d.1.7. and the remaining half Coy R.E. and Pioneers in LIVERPOOL TRENCH S.29.d.7.9.


Left Attack.  47th Inf Bde. H.Qrs DUMMY TRENCH.

(a). Front line, from right to left – 6th Connaught Rangers in trenches facing E. and opposite to the QUARRIES, 7th Leinsters in the GRIDIRON TRENCH facing S.E. and practically parallel to BROMPTON ROAD.

In Support – 8th Munster Fusiliers in KNOTT, MIKE, EDWARDS and NEW trenches.

In Reserve – 6th Royal Irish in TRONES and SHERWOOD trenches.

(b)   The 83rd Field Coy R.E. and one Coy 11th Durham L.I. Pioneers, attached to the 47th Brigade, were in DUMMY TRENCH behind BERNAFAY WOOD.


Supports to Right and Left attacks – Two battalions detailed from 61st Inf. Brigade viz 7th Somerset L.I. (detailed to support 59th Inf. Bde.) in trenches between TRONES and BERNAFAY WOODS.  12th King’s Liverpools (detailed to support 47th Inf. Bde.) in trenches in BERNAFAY WOOD.


Divisional Reserve. – 61st Inf. Bde. H.Qrs. at BERNAFAY WOOD S.28.b.6.7.  The remaining two battalions of this Brigade viz 7th D.C.L.I. and 7th K.O.Y.L.I. moving forwards from the CRATERS with a view to occupying the trenches vacated by the 7th Somersets and 12th King’s Liverpools as soon as the latter battns advanced.

60th Inf. Bde. (less Ox & Bucks L.I.) H.Qrs. THE CRATERS.

11th Durham L.I. Pioneers (less 2 Coys).  Trenches W. edge of BERNAFAY 84th Field Coy R.E.                         )    WOOD.


Artillery. – The attack of the Division was covered by the fire of the Artillery of the 6th and 24th Divisions, and the Corps Heavy Artillery allotted for that purpose.  The two Divisional Artilleries were placed under the command of the G.O.C. R.A. 24th Division, Brigadier General L.M. PHILPOTTS.  The principles upon which the Divisional Artilleries directed their fire are given in para. 9 of Appendix 1 and the lines upon which stationary barrages were established from time to time are shewn on attached Map ”B”


  1. Sept 3rd Attack on the first objective.


During the night of the 2nd/3rd September there was very little shelling and no bombardment with gas shells as there had been on the two previous nights.  This was most fortunate for had the troops been forced to move into their battle positions with their gas helmets on, their movements would have been so hampered that in all probability it would not have been possible to complete the assembly before dawn.  This would have been serious as the enemy would no doubt have realised the situation, shelled the assembly and communication trenches, and inflicted great loss upon the troops.


As it was, the enemy apparently remained ignorant of the concentration being carried out against them and the early morning passed quietly.


6.0 a.m. At 6.0 a.m. the Corps Heavy Artillery commenced a slow and deliberate bombardment of selected places in the divisional objectives.  The Field Artillery co-operated during this bombardment by directing bursts of fire at irregular intervals over the area to be attacked.


8.15 a.m. At 8.15 a.m. a “Chinese Attack” took place and all batteries delivered a rapid burst of fire on the enemy’s front, support and communication trenches.


8.33 a.m. At 8.33 a.m. in accordance with previous arrangements, a special concentration of fire took place upon an area on the North Eastern side of GUILLEMONT which purposely had not been shelled during the preliminary bombardment.  The whole of the Divisional Artillery of both the 6th and 24th Divisions concentrated an intense fire on this area known as the TRAP AREA for five minutes.  At the same hour four of the field howitzer batteries opened fire with ”Lethal” shell and continued with this nature of projectile until 9.3 a.m.


9 a.m.   At 9 a.m. the 5th Division on my right commenced their attack on FALFEMONT FARM supported by an intense bombardment.  The enemy did not retaliate heavily on the trenches held by my Division, but contented themselves with shelling the assembly and communication trenches intermittently.  This shelling did not inflict any serious losses on the troops and in no way affected their keenness to advance.  The attack on FALFEMONT FARM at first resulted only in a partial success, but indirectly it was of great benefit to the subsequent attack of my division as it appeared to convince the enemy that no attack against GUILLEMONT was being prepared.


Noon. The morning passed comparatively quietly and both the 47th and 59th Infantry Brigades reported shortly before ZERO that the situation was as favourable as possible casualties having been very few.  10 seconds before ZERO i.e. Noon – the “Push Pipe” mine driven from the trench at T.30.b.5 ½ 1 ½. towards the hostile strong point at T.30.b.7.2. was exploded and the Flammenwerfer turned on to the same objective.  The apparent results of the explosion was somewhat disappointing, as the trench formed was very shallow and only some 120 feet long.  The actual results obtained from the combined effects of the explosion and the Flammenwerfer appear, however, to have been satisfactory, for the strong point against which they were directed gave no trouble to the troops during the advance.


The bombardment of GUILLEMONT was not increased in intensity before ZERO, and consequently the enemy had no indication of the infantry assault. At Zero the artillery fire became intense and the rolling barrages commenced.

Whether owing to some mistake in the time, or the keenness of the troops, the leading Companies of the Left Battalion of 59th Brigade, i.e. 10th K.R.R.C. (Note. Owing to the death of the Coy Comdr. It has been impossible to ascertain the reason for the departure from the orders laid down) quitted their trenches slightly before the appointed time and suffered some losses from our own barrage in consequence.


12 noon.  The 6th Connaught Rangers on the Right of the 47th Brigade, determined not to be left behind followed suit, and punctually at 12 noon the whole front line of the 59th Brigade and the right battalion of the 47th Brigade pressed on to the assault, close, in fact in some cases too close, under our own barrage.


The enemy was completely taken by surprise, The QUARRIES were taken in the first rush, and there was comparatively little fighting. The enemy surrendered freely.


So impetuous had been the attack of the Connaught Rangers that they passed the QUARRIES without completely clearing them of the enemy. This placed the left flank of the 10th K.R.R.C. in a difficult position for a few moments, but Lieut. Colonel Blacklock, the O.C. of this Battalion detached 5 platoons to clean up behind the right of the Connaught Rangers, and the danger was soon obviated.  Great credit is due to this officer for so quickly grasping the situation.


At noon also the left battalion of the 47th Brigade left their trenches and attacked their first objective, the North Western edge of GUILLEMONT.  They reached the German line just as the enemy was manning the parapet and mounting a machine gun.  Here also the garrison appeared to be taken completely by surprise, and most of the survivors surrendered at once.


12.15 p.m. At 12.15 p.m. the enemy placed a heavy barrage on the TRONES WOOD and the G.O.C. 59th Infantry Brigade asked for as much counter battery work as possible.  This was arranged for accordingly.


12.30 p.m. From the aeroplane reports received it appeared that both attacking Brigades had succeeded in occupying their first objective by 12.30 p.m.  These reports were confirmed shortly afterwards by the Artillery F.O.O. with the right battalion of the 59th Infantry Brigade.

Whilst the advance was being carried out the two battalions of the 61st Infantry Brigade detailed to support the attacking Brigades, moved forward.  The leading battalion, the 7th Somerset L.I.  at first occupied the trenches vacated by the 59th Brigade.


Moving on from there its two leading Companies reached the first SUNKEN ROAD from GUILLEMONT S.30. (b) by 12.30 p.m., the Bn Headquarters and two rear companies established themselves in LAMB TRENCH and the trenches about ARROW HEAD COPSE. The enemy had established a heavy barrage on the latter point, and the battalion in consequence suffered a considerable number of casualties.


The second battalion, the 12th King’s Liverpools, following some 20 minutes after ZERO, were advancing in assembly formation through TRONES WOOD to occupy KNOTT, MINE, NEW and EDWARDS trenches.


These two battalions were supported by the 7th K.O.Y.L.I. and 7th D.C.L.I. which were marching up from their billets.  The former battalion reached the trenches between BERNAFAY and TRONES WOOD, where they halted.

The disposition of the troops under my Command at this juncture are shown on Map D.


  1. Attack on the second objective.


12.50 p.m. The attack on the second divisional objective was timed to take place at 50 minutes after Zero, i.e. 12.50 p.m.  At 12.52 p.m. I received a report from my Liaison Officer with the 59th Brigade stating that wounded passing the Brigade Headquarters at ARROW HEAD COPSE were asserting that the second objective has already been taken.


At 1.20 p.m. confirmation of this rumour reached me in the shape of an aeroplane message saying that British troops were holding the GUILLEMONT ROAD running through T.25.b. to 25.c.6.9.  A further aeroplane message, received at 1.35 p.m., stated definitely that the whole of the second objective had been taken, that our troops held the Eastern edge of GUILLEMONT and that a Yellow flare had been shown in the SUNKEN ROAD at T.25.b.1.5.


1.30 p.m. This message added that the enemy still held the trench from FALFEMONT FARM to WEDGE WOOD.


It would appear therefore that the capture of the second objective was completed by about 1.30 p.m.


From reports from the Brigades and battalions concerned it seem that when the barrage lifted the whole of the troops in the front line followed close under it and reached the second objective without much difficulty. Some casualties were caused by machine gun and shell fire.


The advance of the right brigade front was carried out by the 11th R.B., 10th R.B., and one Company 10th K.R.R.C. supported by the Oxfords and Bucks on the Right and the 10th K.R.R.C. on the left, with the 11th K.R.R.C. in reserve.

On the left Brigade front the Leinsters and the Connaughts were detailed to consolidate the positions already won, the former dealing with GREEN STREET, the latter with the Western Edge of HILL STREET to its junction with MOUNT STREET.  The actual attack on the second objective was therefore executed by the 6th Royal Munster Fusiliers, who passed through the Connaught Rangers, pressed on and captured the Eastern part of the village up to and including NORTH STREET, taking 6 machine guns and a new pattern trench mortar designed to throw darts.  The troops at once consolidated the position won, but avoided the actual edge of the village, the line dug in running about 100 yards in advance of the road on the right to about 30 yards in rear of the road on the left.  The comparatively few casualties suffered by the troops whilst consolidating their position was due to the judicious line selected, and the importance of not consolidating on a line well-known to the enemy’s artillery such as the edge of a Wood or village, was once more proved.


Whilst the second objective was thus attacked the supporting troops moved forward and the methodical progression of re-inforcements from front to rear was maintained.


The disposition of the troops under my command at the time when the second objective had been taken is shewn on attached map E.


  1. 1.30 p.m. Attack on the Third Objective.


As our troops approached the second objective the enemy’s barrage round ARROW HEAD COPSE and TRONES WOOD BECAME HEAVY and the 7th K.O.Y.L.I. moved off to their right front to avoid it.  When this barrage became less severe the Officer Commanding the 7th D.C.L.I. ordered his battalion to advance and occupy the trenches between the BERNAFAY and TRONES WOOD which he had seen the K.O.Y.L.I. vacate.  The Western edge of GUILLEMONT was also heavily shelled at this time and F.O.O. reported that there was a considerable movement of enemy troops near the cemetery T.19.a.  The reports were not very clear as to the direction in which these troops were moving, but in all probability they were the survivors of the GUILLEMONT Garrison retreating.  In accordance with my instructions, however, the G.O.C. R.A. 24th Divisional Artillery directed the fire of all the guns he could spare upon this vicinity, and, if the troops seen were men massing for a counter attack, the artillery fire prevented them from delivering it.


2.15-2.25 p.m. At this time the situation as regards the advance of the 5th Division on my right flank was not at all clear.  The G.O.C. 59th Infantry Brigade had reported that his right flank was exposed owing to the left brigade of the 5th Division failing to affect its advance.  On the other hand I had received aeroplane reports stating that whilst British obviously those of 5th Division, held the German trench T.25.b.1.4. to T.26.c.0.6. German troops were still in the GINCHY GUILLEMONT Road from T.20.c.2.6. to T.26.c.1 ½.5.  I also knew that the enemy still occupied the line FALFEMONT FARM to WEDGEWOOD.  At 2.20 p.m. I learnt from your Headquarters that the 7th Division had occupied GINCHY and received your orders to co-operate closely with the 5th Division in clearing the trench running from the S.E. point of GUILLEMONT to FALFEMONT FARM by working down from the North.  I therefore placed an additional battalion of the 61st Brigade at the disposal of G.O.C. 59th Brigade, but instructed him not to use it unless in case of absolute necessity.


2.40-2.45 p.m. At 2.40 p.m. the G.O.C. 61st Brigade reported that he was moving the 7th K.O.Y.L.I. and 7th D.C.L.I. forward to occupy SHERWOOD and TRONES TRENCHES.  At 2.45 p.m. the G.O.C. 59th Brigade reported that the enemy were placing a very heavy barrage on TRONES WOOD and ridge to the South of it, and asked for further re-inforcements in view of the probability of a counter attack on his right flank.


I did not consider that the information I had pointed to there being any serious risk of counter-attack. I therefore contented myself with ordering the G.O.C. 59th Infantry Brigade to form a defensive flank and waited for further information.

3 p.m. This was not long in forthcoming as at 3 p.m. I received a message from the 5th Division stating that their left brigade had captured their 3rd objective, i.e. the trench running from WEDGE WOOD to T.25.b.1.5. and that their right brigade were just about to attack the line FALFEMONT FARM –  WEDGE WOOD.  Any anxiety that I had felt for my right flank was thus set at rest, but I had not received any very clear information as to the situation on my left.  I therefore ordered the 47th Brigade to use every endeavour to link up with the 7th Division and in case of failure to form a defensive flank watching the approaches from GINCHY.


The delays caused by the hand-to-hand fighting in GUILLEMONT itself and the inevitable confusion which arose from the simultaneous assault of that village in front and flank had rendered it impossible for the troops to progress in accordance with the programme laid down in my orders. The G.O.C. R.A. 24th Division, however, maintained a clear grasp of the situation and modified his artillery barrages accordingly and with excellent effect.


3.35 p,m.   The G.O.C. 59th Brigade reported that his front line had reached the third objective, the GINCHY – WEDGWOOD road without heavy casualties and that the position gained was being consolidated.  The right of his Brigade had not, however, succeeded in gaining touch with the 5th Division.  He therefore prolonged his right to the Southward towards T.26.a.0.3. and from that point formed a defensive flank to the S.E. towards T.26.d.5.9., this flank he strengthened with 7 machine guns posted on the line T.25. central to T.26?0.6.  The four remaining machine guns he concentrated in the cemetery.  The front line defensive flank of the right attack was being held by the following troops from right to left – 7th D.C.L.I. which the G.O.C. 59th Bde. had ordered to move up to his support when I had placed it at his disposal, 6th Ox. & Bucks L.I., 11th R.B., 1 Coy 10th K.R.R.C., 10th R.B., portions of the 96th Field Coy. R.E.  The enemy had offered but little opposition to this advance.


Whilst the 59th Brigade was carrying out their advance the 47th Brigade had also moved forward.  The Royal Irish advanced from our old front trenches near the station through and to the North East of GUILLEMONT.  They experienced great difficulty in keeping their direction owing to the way in which the ground was cut up by shell craters.

MOUNT STREET upon which their right flank was supposed to rest was completely blotted out and only a piece of railing showed where the cemetery had been. They were followed by some of the Munsters whilst the remains of the Leinsters and the Connaughts remained in GUILLEMONT as a reserve.  G.O.C. 47th Brigade had not intended the Munsters to advance at this junction, but their ardour could not be restrained and a great many pushed on and joined the Royal Irish.  The Royal Irish thus reinforced approached to within 70 yards of the GINCHY – WEDGEWOOD road under hot fire, when the trenches were rushed and the enemy threw down their arms.  Over 100 prisoners were taken on this portion of the front and a machine gun was captured.  The Lewis guns were properly posted on the flank and a strong point constructed at the junction of MOUNT STREET and the GINCHY – WEDGEWOOD road.  The rest of the Munsters came up and advancing some 40 yards beyond the road took up a position with their left running W. of the railway so as to form a defensive flank towards GINCHY.


The fighting in and around the ruins of GUILLEMONT village had in the meantime created some confusion. The G.O.C. 59th Inf. Bde. therefore detached one company of the 6th K.S.L.I. to reinforce the right of the 47th Inf. Bde.  Companies of the 10th and 11th K.R.R.C. were also engaged in consolidating the village south of MOUNT STREET, whilst the remainder of the K.S.L.I. had continued their advance through the southern portion of the village.  The last remaining company of the 7th K.O.Y.L.I. had also moved forward out of the heavy barrage on TRONES WOOD and had occupied SHERWOOD TRENCH as far south as SCOTTISH TRENCH.

On the left the 12th King’s Liverpools, the battalion of the 61st Brigade specially detailed to support the 47th Brigade, had under instructions from the latter Brigade, occupied our old trenches near GUILLEMONT STATION.  Shortly after it reached its new position, this battalion in accordance with instructions received from 47th Bde sent forward two companies to support the Connaught Rangers.  Two companies advanced accordingly, and at about 3.45 p.m. when the front line troops were in position in the third objective, had reached the point T.19.c.6.8. without, however, having gained touch with the Connaught Rangers.


During the fighting the 96th Field Coy and attached Coy of Pioneers had reached the road in front of ARROW HEAD COPSE where they halted.  The half Coy of the 83rd Field Coy R.E. and the half Coy of Pioneers which had been ordered up from DUMMY TRENCH had succeeded in reaching GUILLEMONT and were assisting the Connaught Rangers to consolidate North Street.  The position of the troops under my command at this time are shewn on Map ”F”.


  1. The attempt to capture the Fourth Objective.


The actual course of events immediately subsequent to the capture of the third objective did not at first become known to me with accuracy. I was aware that the 47th Brigade were not in touch with the 7th Division, but I was still under the impression that GINCHY had fallen into the latter’s hands.


3.50 p.m. I had heard from G.O.C. 47th Bde that the Munsters had been ordered to advance & take the Fourth Objective, that GUILLEMONT was being heavily shelled, and that the village itself was being consolidated by the Connaughts and the Leinsters assisted by two companies of the King’s Liverpools.  I also knew that the other two companies of the latter battn had reached our old front line.  I had therefore no immediate anxiety for my left flank.


4.30 p.m. At 4.30 p.m. I learnt from G.O.C. 59th Inf. Bde that latterly casualties amongst his troops had been heavy, that the Ox & Bucks L.I. were pushing on slowly to the 4th objective in touch with the 5th Division but not without losses, and that the GINCHY-WEDGE Road was being consolidated.

I had therefore every hope that the combined efforts of the right and left attacks would give me possession of the 4th objective.


5 p.m. At 5 p.m. the G.O.C. 59th Bde reported that his advance was held up by machine guns on the SPUR N.W. of LEUZE WOOD T.20 central and that the 6th Ox & Bucks L.I. supported by the Somerset L.I. were about to attack the final objective.


5.15 p.m. At 5.15 p.m. I received a report from the 47th Bde stating that the 22nd Bde of the 7th Division had evacuated GINCHY. I therefore requested G.O.C. R.A. 24th Division to barrage my left flank and his quick response did much to prevent counter attacks on that flank before a proper defence could be organised.  I also ordered the 60th Bde to move up immediately into NEW GUARD TRENCH W. of TRONES WOOD, and not knowing that the G.O.C. 59th Bde had already called upon the 7th D.C.L.I. I placed that battn at the disposal of the G.O.C. 47th Bde.


5.30 p.m. At 5.30 p.m. I ascertained that the 47th Bde had suffered heavily in attacking GUILLEMONT, that the 7th Division had been definitely forced to give up GINCHY and that the 5th Division on my right had not succeeded in advancing up to their objective – the edge of LEUZE WOOD.  The  G.O.C. 59th Bde also reported that the enemy had been seen moving on the high ground to his right, about T.26 central.  The position of my front line with both its flanks in the air appeared therefore to me to be too precarious to admit of a further advance to the 4th objective until the situation was cleared up.  I therefore ordered the G.O.C. 59th Bde to consolidate his position on the GUILLEMONT-WEDGE WOOD road and confine his efforts against the 4th objective to pushing out strong patrols as close up to it as possible.


I also requested the Corps Heavy Artillery to open fire on the GINCHY – LEUZE WOOD road in case the enemy might mass for a counter attack and reported the situation to you.


I then learned for the first time that the D.C.L.I. had actually been drawn into support the 59th Bde, and at once placed the last remaining battalion of the 61st Bde, the 7th K.O.Y.L.I. at the G.O.C. 47th Bde.


The situation on my left flank in reality was far more precarious than I knew, and but for the prompt action of Capt. C.D.R. CLEMINSON, 12th King’s Liverpools, might have jeopardised the whole of the success already won.

This officer had been sent up in command of the two coys 12th King’s Liverpools detailed to reinforce the Connaught Rangers.  As already related he had advanced to T.19.c.6.8. without gaining touch with the battalion he had been sent to assist, and whilst moving forward he had noticed parties of the 7th Division returning from GINCHY.


Shortly after arriving at T.19.c.6.8. he was joined by a party of about 60 men of the Manchester Regt. 7th Divn, without officers.  These men stated that the 7th Division had definitely been driven out of GINCHY.  Realising the danger to our left flank, Capt. CLEMINSON on his own initiative advanced towards GINCHY and occupied a line running from T.13.c.8.4. via T.13.c.9.3. to T.13.d.0.1. where he dug in.  he had not been long in this position when he received a message purporting to come from an officer of the Royal Irish and asking for help.  Capt. CLEMINSON at once sent forward a platoon and a Lewis Gun to the edge of GINCHY WOOD T.13.d.8.3. the place to which he was asked to send assistance.  In advancing this platoon came under fire, the Platoon Commander and many of the Platoon being killed.  The platoon Sergt, Sergt. JONES, took command, and after getting the Platoon and Lewis Gun into position returned to Capt. CLEMINSON to report that no trace of the Royal Irish could be found.  Capt. CLEMINSON ordered him to return to his platoon and hold out in the position already gained.  (Sgt. JONES & his party held their position until they were relieved on the morning of 5th )  Capt. CLEMINSON then reported the situation to his Commanding Officer who at once sent up an additional Coy.  As soon as this reinforcement came under his command, Capt. CLEMENSON proceeded to organise a strong defensive flank towards GINCHY.  Throwing out advanced posts to T.13.c.9.4 ½. T.13.c.9 ½.3. and T.13.d.1.1 ½.  He strengthened his line by collecting parties of stragglers from the 7th Division, amongst which were two Lewis Gun detachments with their guns.


The additional Coy of the 12th King’s Liverpools he posted to protect his left flank as follows:-

One platoon at about T.13.c.7 ½.4. – 8.4.

One platoon at about T.13.c.6 ½.3. – 7 ½.3.

Two platoons at T.13.c.5.4. – 7.3 ½.

Capt. CLEMINSON gained touch with the parties of the 7th Division on his right flank fairly soon, but it was not until 9 p.m. that he gained touch with a party of about 50 rifles of the Royal Irish Rifles under Lieut HEAD.  This party placed themselves  under Capt. CLEMINSON and remained with him until the morning of the 5th when all were relieved.


5.30 p.m. At 5.30 p.m. a number of Germans estimated as 200 strong by one account and 400 by another were seen advancing along the road running through T.15.c., T.14.d. & c. to GINCHY.  They were fired at by the Lewis and Machine Guns on my left and dispersed with considerable losses.


5.46 p.m. At 5.46 p.m. I received information from your H.Qrs that the 48th Bde of 16th Division at BILLON FARM was placed at my disposal and that the 49th Bde was being moved to that place.


6.30 p.m. At 6.30 p.m. the enemy again attempted to counter attack my left.  No less than three attacks were delivered but all broke down under the fire of the defensive flank already alluded to.


6.40 p.m. At 6.40 p.m. I learned that the 7th K.O.Y.L.I. were approaching GUILLEMONT.  The G.O.C. 59th Bde reported that he was consolidating his position on the GINCHY-WEDGE Road by every means in his power and that he was in touch with 95th Bde on his right, but believed that their right was in the air.  He stated that some of the 47th Bde were mixed up with his men and that he feared he might lose what he had gained unless some stiffening was put into the troops on his left.  He added that he was not attempting any further advance that evening.  I told him that so far as the information at my disposal showed there were no serious hostile concentrations being carried out against his right.  Throughout the whole period of consolidation after the capture of the third objective, messages were received stating that the enemy were moving W of LEUZE WOOD, and also in the valley to the N. of BOULEUX WOOD.  None of these messages, however, reported the enemy in force, and the G.O.C. 24th Divisional Artillery at my request arranged with the 3rd Divisional Artillery to cover the whole of the area likely to be used by the enemy to concentrate for counter attack.  The 3rd Divisional Arty arranged to keep the high ground swept with fire while the 24th Divl Arty dealt with the valley.


7.15 p.m. At 7.15 p.m. the Germans opened a very heavy barrage on the MONTAUBAN-GUILLEMONT Road and continued it for one hour.


  • m. At 7.30 p.m. the situation was as follows:-

The 59th and 47th Bdes were holding the GINCHY-WEDGE WOOD road from about T.26.a.2.8. toT.20.a.1.2.  Some patrols had been thrown forward on the right but they had not gained touch with any similar patrols sent out by the 5th Divn.  The 59th Bde reported that Germans were still massing N. of LEUZE WOOD, but that our guns were dealing with them.

The 47th Bde had two battns in the front line along the GINCHY-WEDGE WOOD Road, and the defensive flank on its left was held by some 250 men of the Connaught Rangers and 7th Leinsters, some 60 men of the Manchesters without officers and 3 coys of the 12th King’s.  Casualties had been very heavy in this Brigade and S.A.A. was running short.  I therefore ordered the 48th Bde to move to CARNOY as Divl Reserve.


8.10 p.m. At 8.10 p.m. I received information from your H.Qrs to the effect that the troops of the 7th Division were back in their original trenches.  I therefore determined to use the  60th Bde to relieve the 47th Bde and issued orders accordingly.


8.30 p.m. During the evening the enemy made repeated attacks upon my left flank, but their efforts gradually became less vigorous, and they were finally driven off at about 8.30 p.m.

During these counter attacks, the officer commanding the front line troops of the 47th Bde called upon the 59th Bde for assistance, and the G.O.C. of that Bde at once detailed two Coys of the K.S.L.I. to strengthen the defensive flank.  The arrival of these troops added very materially to the defensive powers of that flank and made it practically secure.


11.25 p.m. At 11.25 p.m. I learnt that two battns of the 60th Bde, viz:- the 12th R.B. and 12th K.R.R. had started from TRONES WOOD at 9.15 p.m. to assist the 47th Bde in accordance with my instructions, and I therefore felt the situation on my left flank was more satisfactory.




12.10 a.m. At 12.10 a.m. I issued the following orders for the defence and consolidation of GUILLEMONT.  A copy of the orders issued will be attached to this report as Appendix 2.


1 a.m. At 1 a.m. the Royal Irish and Munsters had been relieved by the 12th R.B. and 12th K.R.R.C. and returned to their original positions in BERNAFAY WOOD and at CARNOY.  In view of a possible counter attack in the morning I ordered the 48th Bde to reach the following position at 6 a.m.  One battalion to the trench running through BERNAFAY WOOD, S.29.a.c.  One battn to the trenches along the Western edge of BERNAFAY WOOD S.28.b and d.  One battn to the BRIQUETERIE and one battn to the CRATERS.


2 a.m. At 2 a.m. the situation was as follows:-

(a) Right attack. The front line of the right attack was established in the GINCHY-WEDGEWOOD road from the cross roads at T.20.c.2.4. to T.26.a.1 ½.6.  This line was composed of companies of the 6th Ox & Bucks L.I. and 7th Somerset L.I., 11th R.B., 10th K.R.R., and 10th R.B.  This line was in touch with the 47th Bde on its left and the 5th Divn on its right.  The 96th Field Coy R.E., one coy 11th D.L.I. Pioneers and the 7th D.C.L.I. were in GUILLEMONT south of MOUNT STREET, the area they had been detailed to consolidate and hold.

(b) Left attack. The front line running from T.20.c.2.4. where it joined up with the 59th Bde along the GINCHY-WEDGE WOOD Road to T.20.a.1.2.  From there it bent west and N in front of the old German trench in T.13.c.9.4 ½.  This front was held by the 12th R.B. 12th K.R.R.C. 2 coys Somerset L.I.

A composite battn formed from men of the Leinsters and Connaughts, 60 men of the Manchester Regt. without officers, 50 men of the Royal Irish Rifles, and 3 coys of the 12th King’s.  The left of this line was in touch with parties of the 7th Division.  The 83rd Field Coy R.E. and one Coy 11th D.L.I. Pioneers were employed in strengthening the left flank and consolidating GUILLEMONT VILLAGE N. of MOUNT STREET.



The 84th Field Coy R.E. and the remaining two coys of 11th D.L.I. Pioneers, were engaged on wiring in the front line and improving communication trenches back to GUILLEMONT.

The situation at this juncture is shewn on Map “G”.


4a.m. At 4 a.m. you’re your orders were received that the 20th Div. must be prepared to participate in conjunction with the 5th and 7th Divisions in an attack on the 4th objective which was to be launched by 3.10 p.m.  After consulting your H.Qrs I issued the necessary orders, a copy of which are attached hereto as Appendix 3.


8.30 a.m. At 8.30 a.m. G.O.C. 60th Bde reported that the S. and S.E. end of GINCHY requires constant attention from the Artillery, but that E. of the GINCHY-WEDGE WOOD Road the Germans were a long way off.  I accordingly arranged with the G.O.C. 24th Divl. Artillery to keep a barrage on this area.  Unfortunately owing to reports that some of the 7th Division troops were still in GINCHY, the G.O.C. R.A. could not bring this barrage as close to our front as either he or I would have wished.


9.30 a.m. At 9.30 a.m. the G.O.C. 59th Bde reported that his men were very exhausted, and he did not think they could last longer than another 8 hours.  He also stated that an officer’s patrol had entered LEUZE WOOD but found no Germans.  I concluded from this and other evidence that there was no immediate danger to my right, and I therefore told the G.O.C. 59th Bde that whilst I would do my utmost to relieve his men at the earliest possible moment, I trusted him to hold out in the position he then occupied until I could effect his relief.


9.45 a.m. At 9.45 a.m. I sent out messages to Bdes warning them that they must be prepared to send out strong patrols during the afternoon to secure the line of the fourth objective.


10.50 a.m. At 10.50 a.m. as it was evident that some considerable time must elapse before the 59th Bde could be relieved by fresh troops, I ordered the two coys of the 11th D.L.I. Pioneers which had been in Divisional Reserve to relieve exhausted units of the 59th Bde.  The units thus relieved I ordered to assemble at CARNOY.


11 a.m. I learned from G.O.C. 47th Bde that troops of the 7th Division had again entered GINCHY, and that the 7th K.O.Y.L.I. had taken up their position in the old German trenches running through S.19.b. with one coy in support in the GRID IRON.  All these trenches had been badly damaged and the troops were digging themselves in.


12.25 p.m. At 12.25 p.m. the G.O.C. 47th Bde reported that the 7th Division had again been driven out of GINCHY, and that the 12th King’s Liverpools had defeated an attempt to work round their left flank.


1.30 p.m. At 1.30 p.m. I issued orders for the relief of 47th Bde and 60th Bde, less Ox & Bucks L.I. by the 48th Bde during the night of the 4th/5th September.  A copy of these orders is attached hereto as Appendix 4.


3 p.m. At 3 p.m. I issued orders confirming the verbal instructions for the attack on the 4th objective which I had given in the morning.  A copy of these orders is attached hereto as Appendix 5.


4 p.m. At 4 p.m. I issued further orders for the relief of the 59th Inf. Bde during the night 4th/5th by the H.Qrs and two battns of the 49th Inf. Bde. (16th Division) which you had placed at my disposal.

A copy of these orders is attached hereto as Appendix 6.


4.35 p.m. At 4.35 p.m. the G.O.C. 60th Inf. Bde reported that Germans had been seen moving about in the South end of GINCHY and that our men were retiring from that village.  He also stated that all movement on his left flank was very hazardous as sniping from GINCHY was continuous.  As this information again pointed to the danger of my left being driven in,  I again arranged for the artillery barrage to be placed as close to the defensive flank as possible.


7.30 p.m. Owing to the state of the trenches and casualties amongst the runners, the orders given in my operation order No 97 did not reach battalions until some while after 6.30 p.m. the time at which the strong patrols were instructed to push forward.  At 7.30 p.m. however, these patrols under cover of an intense creeping barrage had succeeded in establishing themselves on the line S.W. of LEUZE WOOD to T.26.a.6.5.  Simultaneously the 5th Division captured FALFEMONT FARM and pushed out strong patrols to LEUZE WOOD.  As I now had a line of strong posts with Lewis Guns formed across the whole of my front and was in touch with the 5th Division on my right, I felt confident that any danger of my being driven back from GUILLEMONT by an attack from my right front had ceased.




2 a.m. At 2 a.m. the G.O.C. 60th Bde reported that owing to messengers being killed and guides losing their way, the relief of the 60th Bde troops in the front line could not be completed before dawn.  The relief of the remainder of the 47th Bde was complete and the relief of the 59th by the 49th Brigade was proceeding slowly.

Information regarding the progress of this relief was not at all easy to obtain and in view of the new line of advanced posts established during the night, I did not think it advisable to hand over command of the Divisional front until I was certain that the situation was satisfactory. The G.O.C. of the 16th Division concurred, and I did not therefore hand over to him until the G.O.C. 49th Bde reported that the

relief had been carried out successfully.

9.20 a.m. This report was received at 9.20 a.m. when I moved my H.Qrs in accordance with your instructions to the FORKED TREE CAMP.  On handing over I left at the disposal of G.O.C. 16th Division, the following troops –

60th Inf Bde

7th Somerset L.I.

11th Durham L.I.

These troops rejoined my Division on 7th instant.


  1. The casualties suffered by the troops of my Division were as follows (excluding 47th Bde) –

Officers.                                  Other Ranks.

  1. W. M.                         K.              W.       M.

59th Inf Bde        5.     20.       5.                        117.             404.     416.

60th Inf Bde        2.     16.       2.                          70.             231.     101.

61st Inf Bde        4.      12.       0.                          64.             308.     46.

R.E.                            2.                                       6.             42.        2.

Pioneers                       4.                                       3.             78.        6.

R.A.M.C.                    1.                                       1.                7.        0.

  1. 55.       7.                          263.             798.    371.


GRAND TOTAL. 73 Officers                                  1632 other ranks.


The medical arrangements made for the evacuation of the wounded worked admirably in spite of the very great difficulties which existed owing to the mud and to the way in which the whole ground was cut up by shell fire.

How great these difficulties were may be realised from the fact that at one time wounded had to be carried some 5,000 yards before they could be placed in ambulances.

Moreover so bad was the condition of the roads that heavy motor ambulances could not get within reasonable distances of our front trenches. It became necessary therefore to transport stretched[r] cases firstly by horsed ambulances and then by light motor ambulances before they could be finally evacuated in the large motor ambulances.




The successful consolidation of the positions won and the construction of various strong points was very largely due to the assistance rendered by the R.E’s and 11th D.L.I. (Pioneers). These troops worked gallantly and strenuously without rest for some 48 hours, and during part of that time two companies of the 11th D.L.I. took over and held part of the front line of the 59th Brigade.




The arrangements for transmitting orders and information throughout the division were devised by the Officer Commanding the Signal Coy, Major F.J.M. STRATTON, R.E. and worked admirably. I was in telephonic communication with the various Brigade H.Qrs practically continuously throughout the action and communication between Bdes and their component units was also maintained with unexpected success.  This I attribute to the carefully thought out methods adopted by Major STRATTON who I consider deserves great credit for the manner in which he planned and carried them out.

A short report describing the methods adopted is attached hereto as Appendix 10.




The operations did not reveal any unusual features, nor did they teach any new lessons. The value of well directed artillery fire was again emphasised, the infantry were loud in their praises in the way in which the barrages were controlled and the methodical searching of all areas from which the enemy might attempt to counter-attack, no doubt largely prevented any really serious effort to wrest the position again from us.

The value of Lewis and Machine Gun fire was most apparent.

The Lewis guns dug in with the advanced patrols were invaluable, and the fire of the Machine Guns which were brought up into or close up to the front line, served to disperse several counter-attacks attempted by comparatively small bodies of the enemy.

The consumption of small arm ammunition was unexpectedly great. Men went into action with 120 rounds a man each, and in spite of this, calls for more ammunition commenced early on the 3rd September, and continued throughout the 4th.  I have gone very carefully into the reasons for this expenditure and have come to the conclusion that it was due to the fact that the fighting after the capture of GUILLEMONT was rather more of the nature of open than trench warfare.  Small bodies of the enemy were frequently seen moving and numerous minor counter attacks were delivered especially on the left flank.

Men consequently had good targets for rifle fire with far greater frequency than is usual in trench warfare, and took advantage of it accordingly. I do not consider that 120 rounds is enough it there is any intention or possibility of driving the enemy into the open, and consider that the number should be raised to 220 immediately before an attack is launched.

In conclusion I would add that it appears almost certain that the Germans were not expecting an attack in the Northern end of GUILLEMONT and it shows the importance of the GRID IRON trenches which were dug before the operations. These were very heavily shelled on the days previous to the attack, but every night were reclaimed.  It says a great deal for the discipline of the 7th Leinsters that they were able to keep themselves concealed in these trenches for the 6 hours before ZERO.  Had they moved about or even shown their bayonets over the parapet, the Germans would have shelled them heavily.



Brigadier-General PEREIRA, Commanding 47th Infantry Brigade carried out the task which was given to him in a most masterly manner and although he was able to work on the Operation Orders prepared by Brigadier-General BUTLER, whom he relieved two days before the attack he had very little time at his disposal to make careful reconnaissances of the position and to explain the details to his commanding officers.  That he made the most of his time is obvious by the great success gained by his troops.

The 59th Inf. Bde captured the successive objectives with courage and dash which is inherent in the Brigade, and great credit is due to Brigadier-General SHUTE, his Staff, and the regimental officers, for the careful forethought they gave to all details without which success cannot be assured.  I again wish to bring to notice Brigadier-General SHUTE’s powers of organisation and command which eminently fit him for the command of a Division.

The names of other officers will be brought forward for special recognition when called for.