Report on operations taken part in by 6th Battn Ox & Bucks Light Infantry Sept 3/6. 1916.
The Battalion was attached to the 59th Brigade for the above operations, in accordance with 59th Brigade operation orders left the Craters at 11 p.m. Sept. 2nd and moved into position of assembly in ARROW and SHERWOOD trenches.
The Battalion advanced from these trenches at noon Sept. 3rd.
”B” Coy from ARROW trench was in the centre and from the position of the starting points was somewhat in advance of “A” and “C” companies which were on the left and right of “B” company respectively. “D” Company followed in rear of “B”. The Battalion was ordered to follow the 10th and 11th R.B. to the first sunken road (see map attached) open through them to the 2nd sunken road, then to halt to consolidate till 1 p.m.
“A”, “B” and “C” Coys. lost all their officers except one and three of their Company Sgt. Majors before reaching the 2nd Sunken Rd. “D” Coy. also lost its Captain at the 1st Sunken Rd.
”B” Coy. in the centre found the Rifle Bde. clearing dug-outs and appeared to have stopped at the first to help and then pushed on to the 2nd Sunken Rd. “A”, “C” and “D” Coys. passed right on. “A” Coy. appeared to have overrun the 2nd Sunken Rd. and got on to the near objective at the edge of the Orchard about 150 yards, probably due to the fact that their Officers had gone and the Sunken Rd is difficult to locate in places owing to damage by shells.
At 1 p.m. the advance was continued. As a matter of fact men were going forward about 4 minutes too early, but the barrage ruled the pace. I do not think many casualties were incurred by our barrage. There was but little resistance after this. By the time that the Eastern side of the village was reached Units were much mixed, 10th & 11th R.B. some of K.R.R.C., Somerset L.I. and my own Battalion. Units were reorganised here as far as possible. The 7th Somerset L.I. at my request kept back a portion in the position, when the advance was continued up to the WEDGE WOOD – GINCHY Rd. to look after the right flank, as the number of Germans were visible working down the open street of LEUZE WOOD and our contact with the 5th Division did not appear complete. At 2 p.m. the whole line went forward up to the WEDGEWOOD – GINCHY Rd. and reached it with very little opposition, but a number of prisoners were taken from dug-outs on the road.
The consolidation of the position at once began, but there was a shortage of tools.
I had previously sent a message to that effect by aeroplane, it would be interesting to hear if it ever arrived. The message was sent to the aeroplane by a lamp and the aeroplane acknowledged. It was evident that the 5th Division had not been able to advance up to the Spur S.W. of LEUZE WOOD, and that the spur and the wood were still in the hands of the Germans. I therefore decided not to move forward from the road to the final objective ordered that was with the right on the S.W. corner of the wood.
1st D.C.L.I. of 5th Division were now in touch with my right, and the 8th Royal Munster Fusiliers on the left near the Cross Roads.
There were then on the WEDGE WOOD – GINCHY Rd. portions of the following battalions – 10th and 11th R.B., 11th K.R.R.C., 6th Ox & Bks.
The 7th Somerset L.I. were digging trenches in support close behind.
An officer patrol went through the Quarry and up to the S.W. edge of LEUZE WOOD and found no one there.
During the night 3rd and 4th Sept., patrols were working in the valley below us but could not work up the ridge owing to our artillery fire. The enemy made no attacks during the night on our front. Nearly all the losses incurred were from shell and M.G. fire before reaching the 2nd Sunken Rd, and more especially before reaching 1st Sunken Road. During the clearing of dug-outs at the final position, one case occurred of a “P” bomb being thrown in at one door of a dug-out smoke came out at the other without dislodging the Germans who however came out when the Mills’ bombs were thrown in. 8 Company Officers out of 11 and 72 N.C.O.s were casualties, mostly early in the advance so that I think much credit is due to the men and the few Company leaders left for obtaining the right objective.
During September 4th, consolidation was continued and was not interfered with except by a few shrapnel shells.
During the afternoon the 5th Division were up the Spur East of us to LEUZE WOOD. About 7 p.m. Battle patrols were established by 7th Som. L.I. from S.W. corner of LEUZE WOOD – GUILLEMONT – COMBLES RD.
The night was very wet, about 5 a.m.5th Sept. the line was relieved by 49th Brigade and the Battalion withdrew to SHERWOOD TRENCH where it remained until the afternoon of the 6th September. When relieved by the 6th K.S.L.I. the Battalion returned to the Craters.
I attach a list of those I recommend for Reward in connection with the operations.
(Sd) E.D. WHITE. Lt.-Col.
Commanding 6th Ox & Bucks L.I.