Private Diary of J.K. Dick Cunyngham Br Gen 1 June 1918

Private Diary of J.K. Dick Cunyngham Br Gen

PoW

Mainz Blankenburg Mark

Germany

 

June 1st Saturday.  Cool day.  Worked shorthand in morning.  Got Finch to see new orderlies to explain scheme & give them a talking to.  More parcels issued from 3-4.30 p.m.  I got a Y.M.C.A. parcel same as Drummond’s, B.F. got his first bread parcel from Copenhagen dated May 18th, which looks quite good.  In consequence we had good supper, fried our potatoes in the cheese butter & had rice & jam.  Mainzprings performed at 4 & 7 p.m. quite a good show, hope to be able to keep them together but hear they are sometimes difficult to manage.  Milton Hayes for instance was too ill to perform but Canteen revived him.  Am sleeping ever so much better now.

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War Diary of 9th CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE May 1918

CONFIDENTIAL

 

WAR DIARY of 9th CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE

 

From May 1st 1918 – To May 31st 1918

 

 

A.27.c.90.45

LIEVIN

1.5.18           Visibility today has been poor.  Throughout the day the enemy artillery harassed our forward areas with all calibre of guns.  About noon today, an enemy “Whizz-bang” battery was engaged and silenced by one of our batteries.  Very little enemy movement was observed today on account of the low visibility.

 

2.5.18           Visibility today has been fair.  During the morning his artillery was very quiet.  Our forward areas received a light scattered shelling during the afternoon.  A certain amount of movement was observed today in enemy country all of which was fired on by our batteries.  Our planes were very active throughout the afternoon, frequently crossing the enemy lines.  Only one enemy plane was observed today.

 

3.5.18            Visibility continues fair.  With the exception of a light scattered shelling of our forward area, enemy’s artillery has been very quiet.  A considerable amount of movement was observed today, mostly individual.  Our batteries carried out their usual harassing fire during the night.  A large explosion was caused in SALLAUMINES by our Heavies at 5.15 P.M.

Operational Order No 145 was issued today detailing the relief of the 3rd Canadian Division by the XVIII Corps (Imperial); relief to take place on the 3/4th and 4/5th.  The 9th Brigade C.F.A. will be relieved by the 91st Brigade R.F.A.  Relief is to be of personnel only, and all guns will be handed over to relieving batteries.

 

4.5.18           O.O.145-3 was issued today giving instructions regarding the move of the Brigade to AMETTES.  The brigade is to march at night, leaving the Wagon Lines about 7.30 P.M.

 

5.5.18            The Brigade arrived at AMETTES about 4.30 A.M. after an uneventful march.  The day was spent by the batteries in fixing up their horse lines and billets.

 

6.5.18 to 31.5.18       A considerable amount of open warfare manoeuvres in conjunction with the Infantry has taken place during the past three weeks, in the AUCHEL and BOMY Areas.  All Batteries made a very creditable performance, gaining valuable experience in the art of open warfare.  From the 10th to the 17th all the guns of the Brigade were calibrated on the Artillery Range at WESTREHEM.  A special shoot took place, during the calibration of the guns, in which the 33rd and 36th Batteries took part.  A demonstration of firing at short ranges took place which was witnessed by both Corps and Army Staffs.  On 21st, instant all the guns in the brigade were taken by motor lorry to ALBAIN ST NAZAIRE where they were calibrated on the new electric ranges.  A number of trips were taken to the XI and XIII Corps Area and reconnaissance made of the Reserve Trenches and battery area.

On the 30th and 31st the Brigade preliminary Dumbell Contest took place, which was won by the 31st Battery C.F.A.

 

 

Lieut-Colonel

Comd’g 9th Canadian Artillery Brigade

War Diary of 2/6th Sherwood Foresters for May 1918

WAR DIARY of 2/6th Sherwood Foresters for May 1918

 

 

Place       Date    Hour                                                Summary of Events and Information

 

Fighting Strength  31 Offs 836 O.R.s

 

Sheet 27

HOUTKERQUE 1/5/18        Battalion training carried out.

E.20.b.25.75   2/5/18              Battalion moved by march route to Camp at K.17.a.3.3. (Nr. Watou).

K.17.a.3.3.   3/5/18  2.0 pm.   Battalion digging on Watou Caestre Front & Reserve Lines.

4/5/18

5/5/18  9.0 am.            Battalion embossed at E.28.d.6.6 and proceeded to Barracks at St. Omer.

  1. OMER     6/5/18

7/5/18               16 Offs & 665 O.R.s despatched to ‘K’ Infantry Base Depot and Battalion formed into Battalion Training Cadre.   Establishment 10 Offs & 44 O.R.s.

HAZE 5a.95.40

BLESSY             9/5/18  8.0. am.       Training Cadre marched to Blessy.

SHEET 36B

BOURS           10/5/18  8.0 am.          Training Cadre marched to BOURS.

BOURS     11/5/18 to 31/5/18                        Training of Staff carried out.

F.S. Offs 10  O.R.s 43

 

War Diary of 20 Siege Battery for May 1918

WAR DIARY of 20 Siege Battery for May 1918

Place       Date    Hour                                                Summary of Events and Information

 

MAY

1st 1918                                   Officers on strength of Battery

Capt (A/Major) L.G.R.F.H. BELL (Reg) (to Hospital, sick 29.4.18)

Lt. (A/Capt) JC THOMPSON (SR)

Lt. H.L. PAUL (TF)

Lt. E.B. LOACH (SR)

Lt. R.G. PERCIVAL (SR)

2/Lt. F.W. DAVIS (SR)

2/Lt.C.H. BATEMAN (SR)

2/Lt. W.H. CHAPMAN (SR)

2/Lt. A.E. COCKFIELD (SR)

2/Lt. E.O. DAVIES (SR) (Attd 125 SB till 18.5.18)

1st                    3 guns at OBLINGHEM.  2 guns near ANNEZIN. 1 gun in workshops.

6th                    2 guns for ANNEZIN moved to position near BETHUNE BEUVRY Road, E.18.b.3.0. (Sheet 36 B N.E.).  Also 1 gun for OBLINGHEM.  Guns not allowed to fire from this position owing to proximity of Inf Bde & Div H.Q.

8th                    2 guns for position in OBLINGHEM moved into new position in BETHUNE E.11.c.5.3 (Sheet 36 B N.E.) 3rd gun for workshops.

9th                    3 guns for position on BETHUNE-BEUVRY Road to new position on BETHUNE-NOEUX-LES-MINES Road E.17.d.3.2 (Sheet 36 B N.E.)

10th -31st          Both sections almost entirely engaged in destructive counter battery shoots with aeroplane observation, 3450 rounds being fired on these targets & 7 OKs & 37 Ys obtained during **ing

No Battle Casualties during month of May.

 

 

JUNE 1918

 JUNE 1918

Spring Offensive – Operation Gneisenau

The fourth German offensive launched in 1918 was known by the German code-name of Operation Gneisenau. In May 1918, the fighting lines had reached the west of Château-Thierry at Vaux and Belleau Wood. The Battle of Belleau Wood was fought from the 1st to 26th June 1918, and was the first major battle the Americans were involved in fighting against the German army. At the end of the German Aisne Offensive, the American Second Division moved in to replace a French corps in the sector. The German advance was stopped on the 4th June 1918. Two days later this American division made a successful counter-attack against four German Divisions, and recaptured Vaux and Belleau Wood which the Germans had previously over-run as part of Operation Blücher-Yorck. The Americans were operating under French Corps command during the earlier battles, but the American Expeditionary Force commander General John Pershing was working towards the deployment of an independent U.S. Field Army. The rest of the American forces followed at an accelerating pace during the spring and summer of 1918. By June American troops were arriving in Europe at the rate of 10,000 a day and most of them were trained by British, Canadian and Australian battle-experienced officers and senior non-commissioned ranks. The training took a minimum of six weeks due to the inexperience of the servicemen.

The Battle of Matz was fought from the 9th to 12th June 1918 and the German plan was to push the German Front Line westward in the sector between two salients. The northern salient had been formed from the fighting towards Amiens and the southern salient was to be from the previous German offensive in the Aisne sector. In attempting to straighten out the bulge between the two salients the Germans made progress on the first day, but the French organised a counter-attack on the 11th June 1918. Three French and two American divisions were supported by tanks and two days later the Germans halted their offensive.

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Other Theatres

In the Middle East, British forces defended the Jordan Valley. The Action of Arsuf was the second Battle of Jordan, and was fought between the British and Turkish Empires, on the 8th June 1918. The British Empire forces involved were the  21st Brigade comprising the 2nd Battalion the Black Watch, the 1st Guides Infantry, the 29th Punjabis and the 1/8th Gurkha Rifles. The 21st Brigade, was tasked with the capture of two hills, 1 mile (1.6 km) from the Mediterranean Sea known as the two sisters. The hills were defended by elements of the Turkish 7th Division. The hills were being used as observation posts and the intention was to deprive the Turks of their use. The successful assault was carried out by the Black Watch and the Guides. The Turks responded with two counter-attacks of their own. The first succeeded in recapturing a section of their previous position before being driven back. The second counter-attack was defeated before they managed to reach the British position. The Turkish forces suffered considerable losses and had four officers and 101 other ranks taken prisoner. The capture of the two hills greatly improved the British position. Their loss deprived the Turks of an observation post that overlooked British lines and rear areas. They also gave the British their own observation post that could see the Turkish rear areas. The British forces occupied this high ground up to the Battle of Megiddo in mid-September.

In the Caucasus, with the Russians out of the war, following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918, the growing German-Turkish rivalry for Caucasian influence and resources began. The resources were notably the oilfields near Baku, the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, and the associated rail and pipeline connection to Batum on the Black Sea. Early in June 1918 the Turkish 3rd Army renewed its offensive on the main road to Tiflis and confronted a joint German-Georgian force. On the 10th June 1918, the Turks attacked Vorontsovka and took many prisoners, leading to an official threat from Berlin to withdraw its support and troops from the Turkish Empire. The Turkish government had to concede to German pressure and halted its drive and further advance into Georgia for the Batum-Tiflis-Baku railway and associated pipeline. The Turks changed their strategic thrust towards Azerbaijan with a blocking action against British forces in north-west Persia.

On the Italian front, the Second Battle of the Piave River, fought between the 15th and 23rd June 1918, was a decisive victory for the Italian Army against the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Following the defeat at the Battle of Caporetto in the autumn of 1917, the Italians retreated to the Piave River and were reinforced by French and British infantry divisions. The Austro-Hungarian’s had ambitions of forcing the Italians into an armistice. Divided opinions within the Austro-Hungarian command resulted in a decision to attack the Italians at the Piave River. The Italian commander had learned the exact timing of the Austrian attack: 3.00 a.m. on the 15th June 1918. At 2.30 a.m. the Italian artillery opened fire on the crowded enemy trenches, inflicting heavy casualties.  In some sectors the barrage had the effect of delaying or stopping the attack, and the Austrians began the retreat to their defensive positions, but in the greater part of the front the Austrians still attacked. The Austrians were able to cross the Piave and gained a bridgehead in the face of Italian heavy resistance, before the Austro-Hungarians were finally halted. One joint Austrian group commander, Svetozar Boroevié von Bojna was forced to order a retreat. On the following days the assaults were renewed, but the Italian artillery barrage had destroyed many of the river’s bridges. Subsequently the Austrians were unable to receive reinforcements and supplies. An estimated 20,000 Austro-Hungarian soldiers drowned while trying to reach the east bank. On the 19th June 1918 the Italians counter-attacked into Boroevié’s flank, inflicting heavy casualties. In the meantime, on 15th June 1918, the other joint group commander, Conrad von Höttzedorf (the former Austrian Chief of Staff) attacked along the Italian lines west of Boroevié on the Asiago Plateau. His forces gained some ground, but came upon stiff resistance by Italians units, 40,000 casualties were added to the Austrian total. Lacking supplies and facing attacks the Austro-Hungarians were ordered to retreat by the Austrian Emperor Karl on the 20th June 1918. By the 23rd June 1918, the Italians recaptured all the territory on the southern bank of the Piave and the battle was over. The battle signalled the end of the Austro-Hungarian army as a fighting force and the beginning of the collapse of the Empire.

On the 15th June 1918, Captain Edward Brittain was shot in the head and killed during an early morning counter-attack against an Austrian offensive, on the Asiago Plateau, part of the Battle of the Piave River. Following his wounding at the Battle of the Somme in 1916, for which he was awarded the Military Cross (MC), he spent nearly a year recuperating in England. He returned to the western front in 1917 and was immediately sent into battle, before being sent to the Italian Front with the 11th Sherwood Foresters in November 1917. Edward Brittain was close to his sister Vera and was one of the “Three Musketeers”. He, Roland Leighton and Victor Richardson formed a four-way friendship with Vera. Geoffrey Thurlow was to become part of that friendship. However, the Great War took the lives of the four male participants, who meant the most to Vera Brittain, and was one of the many reasons why she became a pacifist. Edward Brittain is buried in Granezza British Cemetery in Italy, and in September 1921 Vera visited the cemetery, but never fully got over the death of her brother, Edward. After her death in 1970 her will requested that her ashes be scattered on Edward’s grave on the Asiago Plateau in Italy: – “for nearly 50 years much of my heart has been in that Italian village cemetery” and her daughter Shirley Williams honoured her request in September 1970.

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Timetable June 1918

 Timetable June 1918

German Spring Offensive – Operation Gneisenau

1st to 26th June          Battle of Belleau Wood

9th to 12th June          Battle of Matz

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Other Theatres

8th June                     Action at Arsuf

8th June-October       Germany interferes in the Caucasus

13th to 23rd June        Second Battle of the Piave River

15th June                   Edward Brittain killed at the Battle of the Piave

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