REPORT ON RAID BY 4/5th L.N.L. REGT.
on NIGHT 14/15th JULY 1917
15th July 1917
- The 4/5th L.N.L. Regt. (O.C. Lieut. Col. C.L. Harford) carried out a silent raid on the E.F.L. trench from N.11.a.42.63. to N.6.c.74.43. last night, 14/15th July.
- “B” Coy (4 Offrs. and 123 O.Rs.) was selected to carry out the enterprise.
- The objects of the raid were as follows:-
(i) To kill or capture enemy sentry groups or patrols.
(ii) To secure identification.
- Considerable movement has been seen and heard along the area to be raided for some weeks past. Patrols had located the following during the 6 days preceding the enterprise –
8/9th …. NEBULA…..N.5.d.95.20…. Large wiring party working opp. this point, also to left and right.
8/9th ……NED ……………..Voices heard and flares sent up from E.F.L. about N.11.a.50.80.
10th …….NECK ………… …Enemy patrol heard in E.F.L. opp. N.5.d.05.25.
11th …….NECK …………. …Flares sent up from head of NECK LANE.
11th …… NEBULA …………. Enemy wire badly smashed – no enemy seen.
10th …….NEBULA………….14 of enemy met in N.M.L. coming towards O.Ls. from NEBULA
12th ……..NECK …………….N.5.d.90.05. Voices heard in E.F.L. and flares sent up.
12th …..…NEBULA………….N.6.c.30.30. – 3 separate parties were seen in E.F.L. and flares sent up.
12th ……..NECK ……….…. N.5.c.00.20. – Metal being dumped and men seen in E.F.L.
11th ……..NED ……………. Wiring party located at N.11.a.40.60.
13th ……..NEBULA ………. Wiring party at N.6.c.45.40.
13th ……..NEBULA …….….Sentry group at N.6.c.30.20.
12th ……..NED ……………..Flares sent up from left and right of N.11.a.40.60. and M.G. fired on patrol.
- (a) It was therefore decided to attack the enemy all along his line at different points; this procedure obviated the possibility of a heavy enemy barrage, and it was hoped that one party would succeed in distracting the enemy’s attention from the operations of other parties if contact was obtained.
(b) The raiding party was therefore split up into 7 subparties or fighting patrols, each patrol consisting of 1 Offr. or N.C.O. and 18 O.Rs. Each patrol was given a definite point of entry and definite area to mop up. These areas adjoined one another, making a total of 1400 yds. of E.F.L. to be mopped up.
- The points of exit and areas to be mopped up were as follows:-
Party. Point of exit from Point of entry Point of
our lines into E.L. exit from E.L.
”T” Party. N.5.c.22.15. N.11.a.42.63. N.11.A.78.82.
“U” N.5.c.63.42. N.11.a.78.82. N.11.b.05.95.
“V” N.5.c.95.53. N.11.b.05.95. N.5.d.53.10.
“W” N.5.d.30.74. N.5.d.33.10. N.5.d.93.05.
“X” N.5.d.70.81. N.5.d.93.05. N.6.c.21.17.
“Y” N6.c.95.83. N.6.c.21.17. N.6.c.50.37.
“Z” N.6.c.30.92. N.6.c.50.37. N.6.c.74.43.
- Parties were given the following orders:-
- Parties were to “lie up” on the enemy’s parapet until Zero hour, unless a sentry group or patrol was located in the near neighbourhood when they were to be attacked at once.
- If an enemy patrol was met in No Man’s Land it was to be immediately attacked.
- If no enemy was discovered before Zero hour parties were to advance along the enemy front line at Zero hour.
- Any party obtaining a prisoner could return to our lines at once. Unsuccessful parties were to “lie up” until 2.15 a.m. and endeavour to capture an enemy visiting patrol. All parties were to return at 2.15 a.m.
- For several days prior to Zero day, wire cutting operations were undertaken, and the great eagerness of the enemy to repair the damage immediately was noticeable in the number of wiring parties located each night.
Gaps cut were kept open by M.G. fire and a careful watch kept.
- The raiding party was trained on ground in the vicinity of ELBOW FARM, and all ranks were thoroughly conversant with their duties. The men were kept fit by constant training in Bayonet Fighting, Physical Training etc.
- Arrangements were completed by the 14th instant.
- – ACTION TAKEN DURING RAID.
About ½ hour before Zero hour, heavy thunder clouds appeared, rain threatened and the darkness became intense. To allow for additional difficulties in reaching the point of entry of the enemy trenches, all raiding parties left our line at Zero hour minus 45 minutes instead of Zero minus 30 minutes. Even this extra period was insufficient and in only three cases had the parties reached the enemy wire at Zero hour. Strombos horns were sounded by the Portuguese Bde. on our right at about 11.30 p.m. This continued till 12.5 a.m. and was taken up in a few cases by the strombos horns in the CORDONNERIE SECTOR. This delayed parties considerably and one party sent back for information before proceeding.
During the raid a heavy thunderstorm, torrential rain, and accompanying intense darkness continued to produce the most unfavourable conditions for carrying out the operations.
“T” Party. (2nd Lieut. Scholes and 15 O.R.) found their way to point of entry but the gap could not be found and had apparently been filled up, as much new wire was encountered. The party worked left handed and was half way through enemy wire at Zero hr.
Borrow ditch and adjacent shell-holes were all filled with masses of loose wire which, owing to the intense darkness, proved impossible. Party worked along outside borrow ditch for a short distance. Enemy neither seen nor heard in “T” area. A few flares were sent up from NED SUPPORT. Party returned to O,Ls. At 2.30 a.m.
“U” Party. (Sergt. S. Slater and 18 O.R.) reached enemy wire at N11.a.70.90. at Zero hour. Many partial gaps were found, but only after many failures was it possible to get through the wire in the borrow ditch and shell holes owing to intense darkness. Knife rests had been placed on the parapet. An enemy M.G. was firing into enemy wire at N.11.a.65.90. (approx.) prior to and after Zero hour. A few flares seen from NED SUPPORT. No sign of occupation of E.F.L. in “U” area. Parties returned at 2.45 a.m.
“V” Party. (2nd Lieut. A.R. Rickard and 15 O.R.) Party reached enemy wire at N.5.d.05.00. at Zero hour. Gap found through first rows of wire. 3rd row a mass of regular loose wire; this was cut through. Plenty of loose wire in borrow ditch and parapet. Front line appeared to be in a battered and derelict condition. At Zero hour enemy M.G. at very long range opened fire close to raiding party. No signs of occupation of E.F.L. Flares sent up from NED SUPPORT. Party returned at 2.40 a.m.
“W” Party. (Sergt. Smart and 15 O.R.) were about 50 yds. away from enemy wire at point of entry at Zero hour. 1st row of wire easily passed. Remaining wire a mass of broken and loose wire. Owing to intense darkness gap could not be found although enemy wire was patrolled for 100 yds. No signs of occupation of E.F.L. Flares sent up from NEBULA SUPPORT. Party returned at 2.4 a.m.
“X” Party. (Sergt. Fletcher and 14 O.R.) This party was delayed by sounding of strombos horns, and was about 75 yds. from enemy wire at Zero hour. Wire was much knocked about in places, but owing to intense darkness proved an impassable obstacle. Several places along “X” Area were attempted; no sign of occupation of E.F.L. 2 flares sent up from NEBULA SUPPORT. Party returned at 2.0 a.m.
“Y” Party. (Sergt. Grimshaw and 16 O.R.) This party was delayed by sounding of strombos horns. Wire badly damaged but owing to darkness borrow pit wire could not be negotiated. Area wire patrolled. No signs of occupation of E.F.L. 4 flares sent up from NEBULA SUPPORT. Party returned 2.30 a.m.
“Z” Party. (Lieut. Hein and 13 O.R.). party was about 50 yds away from enemy wire at Zero hour. Large gap in enemy wire and parapet at N.6.c.48.35. Front line trench waterlogged. Patrol “lay up” and saw no signs of enemy with the exception of flares from NEBULA SUPPORT. Party returned to our lines at 2.45 a.m.
GENERAL. From the preceding reports it is apparent that the enemy were not in occupation of any part of his front line in the raided area. This is unusual and may have been due to either of the following causes:-
- The most unfavourable climatic conditions prevailing last night, which may have compelled the enemy to withdraw his sentry groups to his support line.
- The enemy may have suspected that a raid on this sector was imminent on account of the fact that it had been vigorously patrolled for the preceding 10 days, and wire had had to be cut on the whole of the front to be raided.
170th Infantry Brigade.
O/C B Coy