Report on Raid of September October 14th 1917
Composition of Raiding Party
No 5 Party (Right Flank)
No 6 Party
No 7 Party
No 8 Party (Left Flank)
Party Sectors as per attached Sketch Map.
The Raiders began to form up in our Front Line at ZERO minus 45 minutes and all were in assembly positions by ZERO minus 10 minutes. During this period the German artillery was practically silent. Our barrage started promptly at ZERO. German barrage started to come down at ZERO plus 3 minutes, but was only light at first, all raiders were clear of our front line by that time. The attack was carried out as during practice, both waves went over in distinct and maintained formation. Communication was established on both flanks immediately. O.C. Raid (Captain L.C.R. Smith) took over a wire with him which was established in the German Front Line. One message was received from him, despatched at ZERO plus 7 minutes, saying “All objectives carried, prisoners coming in.” This wire was out about ZERO plus 10 minutes.
No 5 Party. (2nd Lieut. H.G.B. Slade) reports, Germans put up a slight resistance to us entering their front line, using a light Machine Gun covered by Bombers. They were engaged by snipers and rushed. A large number (about 40) of Germans ran back, followed closely by our leading wave which stopped at the German support line. They were engaged with rifle fire and suffered heavy casualties from this and our protective barrage. The German trenches and wire were almost obliterated. Traces of BAKER TRENCH were found and a patrol pushed down it about 150 yards. No Trench Mortar emplacements or dugouts could be traced in this trench. Two dugouts were demolished about O.8.d.55.60 (German support line) and O.8.d.45.80. (German front line). A Machine Gun emplacement was demolished about O.8 d.45.95. Germans appeared thoroughly demoralised and many dead were seen. The body of a man of the 163rd I.R. was found near junction of BADGER TRENCH and German front line. This party sent back 10 prisoners including an officer.
No 6 Party. (2nd Lieut. R.E. Davy, wounded) reports, a Machine Gun was firing whilst forming up in No Man’s Land from the direction of BOIS DU VERT. firing high, no casualties from it. No resistance encountered in either objective. A dugout was found about O.8.b.50.15. (German front line) many Germans inside refused to come out – it was demolished. About 20 Germans were seen to run back from the German front line and were caught by our barrage. A patrol of 1 N.C.O. and 3 man was pushed out about a hundred yards East of the German support line, no live Germans were encountered but several dead were seen in shell holes. This patrol observed a considerable number of Germans coming out of BOIRY. German trenches and wire were flattened. This party sent back 12 prisoners.
No 7 Party. (2nd Lieut. J. Parminter, slightly wounded) reports, German front line entered without resistance. Exact position of German support line could not be located as it was obliterated. About where support line was situated some 20 Germans occupying shell holes and a portion of BAT TRENCH put up a fight, inflicting several casualties on us. 6 were sent back as prisoners the remainder killed. Patrols report many German dead lying about. A light Machine Gun was captured.
No 8 Party. (2nd Lieut. W.J. Elliott) reports, The wire was not entirely cut on this party’s front, about 25 yards of German wire and trench appeared to have escaped out artillery. The party, however, split in two, going to right and left. Germans (about 15) were occupying this portion of trench and gave some resistance, they were engaged in front by bombs and outflanked. The majority then ran back but were mostly knocked down by rifle fire. The German support line was obliterated and several German dead found. A dugout was blown up just outside our left flank by our Sappers at about 0.8.b.8.4., after 11 prisoners had been extracted.
It would appear that between 40 and 50 prisoners were started back to our front line, but of these only between 20 and 25 can be accounted for. Receipts are actually held for 31 prisoners but I think some of these may have been duplicated in error as I do not believe as many came through as the raiders actually claim. Captain Smith, however, reports having seen many dead and wounded Germans in No Man’s Land as he came back, evidently knocked out by their own barrage. Some dead Germans were also left in our trenches and about 8 wounded.
Our artillery preparation was perfect and our barrage could not have been better. Our casualties are, 2 Officers, 47 Other Ranks (Killed 4, Missing 23, Wounded 20). A large number of these casualties were inflicted by German artillery as we withdrew. The evacuation was carried out in perfect order commencing at ZERO plus 30 minutes in the following order
- Men from German support line
- Men from German front line
In all, 2 German light Machine Guns were captured and were sent back. These have not appeared and were apparently lost on the way back, but I have absolute proof that they were started on their way back. Both were apparently British Lewis Guns converted.
A German aeroplane was flying very low over the portion of German Trench raided by us, firing a machine gun and dropping some bombs. He was previously flying dangerously low while we were forming up but fortunately did not appear to observe our movements. Our aeroplanes did not seem to be sufficiently far forward or low enough to deal with this.
Note. With reference to our casualties it is thought that several of the missing will eventually be accounted for as having gone through the dressing stations wounded.
Cmdg. 6th Bn. The Queen’s Own
(Royal West Kent Regiment)