Report on Operations from 19-4-17 to 6-5-17
During the morning of 19-4-17 the 178 Light Trench Mortar Battery relieved the 177 Light Trench Mortar Battery with Headquarters in HESBECOURT and four guns behind the main line of resistance running through L.33, L.27, L.21, L.16 and L.10 (Sheet 62C N.E.)
These guns were situated at about:-
Two guns were held in reserve at Headquarters, the remaining two being at the School.
From 19-4-17 to 6-5-17 the above positions were improved by digging a communication trench between Nos 1 and 2 guns and the construction of dugouts and ammunition recesses. Two further emplacements were also constructed behind the main line of resistance at about L.16.C.30.24 and L.16.C.30.15.
On the night of 27/28 April after the attack on POLOGNE FARM and the QUARRY in L.5.d. at the request of the 2/6 Notts & Derby Regt a gun was placed in position al L.12.c.2.7. to protect the right flank of the above regiment and cover the valley in L.12.c. and the sunken road. This position was purely defensive and the gun was not fired.
During the night of 28/29 April one gun was placed in position at L.5.b.85.35. to support the bombing block which had been established at L.5.b.9.4. by the 2/8 Notts & Derby Regt on the night of 27/28 April. This gun was registered on the continuation of the old German front line trench in L.5.b. at a range of 150 yards with yellow cartridge.
During the night of 29/30 April one gun was moved from the main line of resistance and placed in position at L.5.b.85.55. It was registered on a new German trench (NEW TRENCH) in L.6.a. which was known to be held, at a range of 360 yards. During the same night bursts were fired at the junction of NEW Trench with the continuation of the old German front line trench in L.6.c [ENFILADE TRENCH].
At 7.45 pm 1-5-17 twelve rounds were fired at NEW TRENCH and seven direct hits were obtained. Parties of men were observed to run away along the trench.
At 6 pm 2/5/17 another gun was moved from the main line of resistance and placed at L.5.b.7.4. in a shell hole deepened and improved to make an emplacement. This gun was registered on the UNNAMED FARM at the cross roads at L.6.a.10.
During the night of 2/3 May a bombing party covered by our mortars pushed forward and erected a permanent block at the point where the ENFILADE trench meets the sunken road at about L.6.a.15.45. A number of enemy bombs at the junction of ENFILADE trench and NEW trench were destroyed by our stokes fire at the same time.
During the same night the gun from L.12.c.2.7 was advanced and dug in on the lip of the QUARRY at L.5.d.8.4. to fire on COLOGNE FARM in support of the attack on the following night. The men of the battery not in the line acted as a carrying party for ammunition for this gun.
An advanced ammunition dump was formed under the quarry bank at L.10.a.4.6.
On the night 3/4 May the 2/5 Notts & Derby Regt attacked COLOGNE FARM and MALAKOFF FARM 1and the officers of the 178 LTMB took command in the line as per attached copy of Operation Order No. 5.
During the attack all guns fired as per above order with good effect.
On the right where the attack failed to reach its objective the retirement from No mans land was covered by the guns under 2nd Lieut. A.A. DICKSON the men of the Battery not in the line carried up a further supply of ammunition to this gun.
The attack on the left was successful and both objectives were taken. Heavy enemy casualties were observed in NEW trench next morning due to our stokes fire.
At 6 A.M. 4-5-17 2nd Lieut H.P.GRIEVES was withdrawn from the left sector into rest billets leaving 2nd Lieut. C.D.B. BOYS in command of the three guns.
Throughout the 4th May NEW trench was kept under observation and several enemy working parties were shelled and dispersed. At 10 am a sniper was located at L.6.b.15.95. and killed by our fire.
During the afternoon the farm at L.6.a.1.0. was shelled with 10 rounds and then occupied by a post from the 2/8 Notts & Derby Regt.
At 9 pm 4-5-17 the enemy put down a very heavy barrage of all varieties of shell from L.5.b.9.0 to F.29.d.9.0. and made a counter attack on the positions gained by us the previous night. The post at L.6.a10 was compelled to withdraw and our men EAST of MALAKOFF FARM driven in.
During the retirement an enemy machine gun was observed to be firing from the junction of NEW trench and ENFILADE trench. This was blown up by a stokes shell.
During the night of 5/6 an intermittent bombardment of the unnamed farm and NEW trench was kept up by our mortars.
At 12.30 pm 5-6-17 our machine gunners reported an enemy machine gun at L.6.c.5.2 firing at an aeroplane.
The gun under 2/Lt DICKSON was brought into action and direct hits obtained. The machine gun was observed to be completely destroyed.
During the night of the 5/6 May 2/Lt DICKSON moved his gun to a position at about L.5.d.9.1 and at 3.45 am 6-5-17 rapid fire was opened on the German trench at L.12.a.2.8. where new earth had been noticed. A working party was caught by our fire and several casualties inflicted. In the morning the trench was observed to have been greatly damaged.
During the whole of the above operations approximately 325 stokes shells were fired.
The accuracy of the shooting was good.
Very few misfires occurred and as far as could be observed only 3 shells failed to explode during the whole time.
At 9 pm 6-5-17 the Battery was relieved by the 176 Light Trench Mortar Battery.
In the field
R.S. PRATT CAPT.
COMMDG 178 BDE. TRENCH MORTAR BATT.