War Diary of 20 Siege Battery for July 1918

WAR DIARY of 20 Siege Battery for July 1918

Place       Date    Hour                                                Summary of Events and Information

JULY                                                        Battery in 44 (S.A.) Bde RGA.  (Lt. Col H.BLEW DSO) under I Corps H.A. (Brig Gen F.G. MAUNSELL CB CMG)

1st                    Officers of the Battery

Lt. (A/Major) J.C. THOMPSON M.C. (SR)

Lt. A/CAPT A.A. HANHART (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. B.W. TURNBULL (SR)

2/Lt. E.O. DAVIES (SR)

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

[2/Lt. H.E.WELLS R.F.A. attd]

Battery on Rest at RUITZ with guns in position near HOUCHIN 13000 yds from line.

3rd                             Major THOMPSON went to I Corps H.A. Counter Battery Officer.

7th                    2/Lt. F.W. DAVIS left on PARIS leave.

9th                    2/Lt. W.H. CHAPMAN left on ordinary leave to UK.

12th                  2/Lt. A.E. COCKFIELD arrived at Billets on return off leave to UK.

14th                  2/Lt. C.H. BATEMAN left on ordinary leave to UK.

17th                  2 Lt. E.O. DAVIES left for 1st Army Artillery School.

18th                  Lt. F.W. DAVIES arrived from PARIS LEAVE.

21st                  Lt. H.L. PAUL left for 1st Army Artillery School Course.

24th                  Sgt Biggs accidentally hit on range and subsequently died from wounds.

25th                  2/Lt. W.H. CHAPMAN returned from leave to UK.

25th                  Musketry Competition at FROISSART range.

29th                  Lt. E.B. LOACH proceeded on GAS course.

30th                  Lt. BATEMAN returned from leave to UK.

One Section relieve 193 Siege Bty at LABOURSE in situ under 2nd Lts TURNBULL and COCKFIELD.

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War Diary of 2/6th Sherwood Foresters July 1918

WAR DIARY of 2/6th Sherwood Foresters

 

For July 1918

 

 

Place       Date    Hour                                                Summary of Events and Information

 

1/7/18                                                                       Fighting Strength Officers 10 O.R.s 43.

FONTAIN-LEZ-BOULANS

(F.29.d.8.8 Sheet 44C Eastern Half)

9/7/18              Notification received that the 2/6th Bn.  Sherwood Foresters Training Cadre be disbanded & the personnel placed at the disposal of the G.O.C. 59th Division for posting within that Division (Authority First Army’s No 8835/25a dated 6/7/18 & 59th Divs No A 1820/30/24 dated 9th July 1918)

23/7/18 1. pm.            Left FONTAIN-LEZ-BOULANS & proceeded by motor-bus to BARLY (P.15.a.0.8. Sheet 51C) Billeted in Chateau.

BARLY   28/7/18       Portion of the Training Cadre posted to units within 59th Division

(P.15.a.0.8. Sheet 51C)

31/7/18      Remainder   “      “           “          “                   “          “       “

1/7/18 to 31/7/18       Portion of the Training Cadre instructing at 59th Div School.  Remainder assisting in the training of the 13th Bn. West Riding Regt.

31/7/18        Fighting Strength Nil.

 

War Diary of 9th CANADIAN Artillery Brigade July 1918

CONFIDENTIAL

 

WAR DIARY of 9th CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE

 

From July 1st 1918 – To July 31st 1918

 

 

BOESEGHEM

1.7.18           The 9th Brigade C.F.A. commenced to trek to BASSEUX to join the 3rd Canadian Divisional Artillery was taking over from the 2nd Canadian Divisional Artillery in the line.  On the 1st inst the Brigade marched to ANVIN and spent the night of 1st/2nd in billets.  The weather was fine and warm and the Brigade arrived in ANVIN tired and dusty.  Advantage was taken of the stream flowing through ANVIN to bathe.

 

2.7.18            The Brigade continued its march to BASSEUX, arriving in MAGNICOURT-sur-CHANCE at about 4.00 P.M.

BASSEUX

3.7.18           The Brigade arrived in BASSEUX at about 4.30 P.M. bivouacking on the night of 3/4th July in the BASSEUX Staging Area.  Advance parties from Brigade Headquarters and batteries went forward by Motor lorry to positions in the line of Units being relieved.

 

4.7.18           During the night 3rd/4th one section per battery of the 9th Brigade C.F.A. sent their guns into the line relieving one section of the batteries of the 6th Brigade C.D.A.

Nr-BLAIRVILLE

5.7.18           On the night of 4/5th the remaining sections of the Brigade moved into the line and completed the relief of the 6th Brigade 2nd C.D.A.  Batteries were pleased with the turn-over and positions on which a good deal of work had been done by the 2nd C.D.A.

Enemy’s artillery was somewhat active during the afternoon on counter-battery work. No damage was done to the batteries of the brigade.  Considerable individual movement was observed from O.Ps and from Intelligence Reports received the front appeared as if it would be an interesting one.  Enemy aerial activity was above normal during the day, in all 12 machines observed over our lines.

 

 

6.7.18              Hostile artillery less active than usual.  A good deal of individual movement was observed and taken on by our forward sniping guns.  Enemy’s aeroplanes were again active crossing our lines at intervals throughout the day.  Gas proofing of dugouts at various Battery positions            and Headquarters was found to be quite incomplete.  Work was immediately started on the completion.

 

7.7.18              Hostile artillery was quiet.  The usual movement was again observed and engaged by our forward guns.  Our bombing planes were active during the night and could be distinctly heard.  Weather, cloudy.

 

Letter ‘M’ on typewriter broken from now on

 

8.7.18              Enemy’s artillery slightly more active today.  BOISLEUX au MONT and BLAIRVILLE received some attention from 5.9s.  Visibility fair today.  A considerable amount of movement was observed today in enemy’s back country which was energetically engaged by our sniping guns.  5 E.As were observed today and two balloons.

 

9.7.18              Hostile artillery fairly active.  Our forward areas received a light scattered shelling throughout the day and night.  Visibility was good and more than the usual amount of movement was observed and dispersed, in some cases causing casualties.  Enemy’s aeroplane activity below normal, considering the visibility, only three being observed opposite our front.  5 balloons were observed during the day.

 

  • Hostile artillery today, quiet during the morning, slightly active during the afternoon being chiefly confined to harassing fire on the forward area. The enemy’s light and heavy T.Ms were more active than usual.  Visibility was good.  A large amount of movement was again observed in back country most of which was engaged and dispersed, our artillery causing several explosions in enemy back country.  Two E.As observed today.

 

11.7.18            Hostile artillery quiet during the morning and the usual activity in the afternoon.  The usual movement was again observed, our sniping guns claiming two hits.  Visibility was fair.  One E.A. observed.

 

12.7.18            Enemy’s artillery was more active than usual today, our front line and C.Ts receiving considerable attention.  The batteries of the brigade retaliated on the hostile batteries within range and succeeded in neutralising his fire to a great extent.  Visibility was fair in the morning and good in the afternoon.  A large amount of movement was again observed.  Enemy planes showed increased activity on our front, 4 of which attempted to cross our line and were heavily engaged by A.A. and M.G. fire and turned back.  Our bombing planes were evidently very active during the night as a large number of enemy search lights were observed in action.

 

13.7.18            Enemy’s activity today was confined mostly to the shelling of our forward areas by a 15cm Howr.  The usual movement was observed.  Visibility today was indifferent.  Enemy’s planes more active than usual, 17 E.As being observed.  A large number of search lights were again observed during the evening and our O.Ps reported numerous explosion in the enemy’s lines caused by our Artillery fire.

O.O 146 and 147 were issued today giving details of a proposed artillery shoot on NEUVILLE VITASSE which is believed to be strongly held by the enemy; the object of the shoot being to cause the enemy casualties.  The 33rd 45th and 36th Batteries are taking part in the operation.

 

14.7.18            Enemy’s activity was confined to long range guns firing on our back areas.  Hostile T.Ms were more active than usual today and to which our guns retaliated on known T.M. Emplacements.  Visibility was fair.  Considerable movement was again observed, most of which was considerably beyond the range of our field guns.  7 E.As and 10 balloons were observed during the day.  Two explosions were caused in the enemy’s rear country by our shell fire.

 

15.7.18            Artillery activity today was confined to a scattered shelling of our O.Ps and intermediate areas, CHATMAIGRE receiving some attention from a 21 cm Howr.  A large amount of movement was observed today, many of the enemy observed to be carrying kits, which leads us to suspect a relief.  Visibility fair during the day.  Our expenditure of ammunition was increased during the night in view of the above suspected relief.  6 E.As observed today, all of which crossed our lines.  3 enemy balloons observed opposite our front.  Several large explosions were observed during the day.  During the night 9 searchlights were observed.

 

16.7.18            Hostile artillery activity was again more active on our rear areas especially during the night.  Our O.Ps were shelled rather heavily about midnight.  Visibility was good. More movement than usual was observed in the enemy’s lines, owing to the fact that suspected relief had taken place.  15 E.As were observed opposite our front during the day, one of which was shot down by two of our scouts.  4 balloons were up, one of which was forced to descend by our planes.  11 enemy balloons were up during the day.

 

17.7.18            Hostile artillery quiet today.  T.M activity during the morning more active than usual.  Visibility fair.  A large amount of individual movement still observed and engaged by our forward guns.  Two shoots were put on by the 36th Battery at the request of the 42nd Battalion which proved very satisfactory to out infantry.  10 E.As observed opposite our front during the day.  Two enemy balloons up. Many small explosions were again observed.

 

18.7.18            Hostile artillery activity quiet during the day with the exception of a shoot at dawn, the enemy evidently suspected an attack on our part.  Visibility was good today between showers.  The usual movement was reported in his back country.  13 E.As were observed today, three of which were low-flying.  3 balloons were observed.

 

19.7.18            Enemy’s artillery activity more active than usual today, 77cm 10.5 and 15 cm being used.  The ERCATEL SWITCH received attention during the afternoon and H.V. guns firing into our back country from vicinity of CROISELLES.  Visibility was fair. Movement today below normal.  22 E.As were observed opposite our front during the day.  4 balloons were observed up for a short time.  Several small fire observed in enemy country during the day.  Operational Order No 149 was issued with reference to small raid to be carried out on enemy post on our front, our guns putting up a box barrage for this raid.  All our batteries are engaged.

 

20.7.18           Enemy activity today fairly active, intermittently shelling our forward area with 7.7 and 10.5 cm.  Enemy T.Ms were quiet during the day but more active during the evening.  The 36th Battery retaliating on known emplacements.  Visibility good.  The usual large amount of movement was again observed during the day.  8 E.As and 4 balloons observed.  Attitude of the enemy has today been very quiet.

 

21.7.18            Artillery activity quiet during the morning and fairly active during the afternoon, in the vicinity of our O.P.  His H.V. guns again shelled our rear areas.  Visibility was good. Movement above normal, our batteries claiming several hits.  4 E.As and one balloon observed.  Enemy’s searchlights during the evening were very active.

 

 

22.7.18            Hostile artillery activity more active than usual today.  One of our recently vacated battery positions was heavily shelled by a 10.5 cm; estimated 200 rounds.  Hostile H.V. guns shelled our rear areas.  Enemy used some gas shells on our battery area during the evening.  We had no casualties.  Good visibility today.  The usual movement was observed.  A considerable number of the enemy were observed carrying packs.  18 E.As were observed on our front.  5 balloons up.

 

23.7.18         Hostile artillery very quiet on our front today, with the exception of the usual shelling of our rear areas by H.V. guns.  Visibility was good during the morning, perm itting of the usual amount of movement to be observed, batteries again claiming many hits.  8 E.As and one balloon were observed.

 

  • Enemy’s hostile artillery activity confined to a light scattered shelling of the forward area. Mostly of light calibre. Visibility good.  A great deal of movement was again observed which kept our forward guns active throughout the day.  16 E.As were observed during the day opposite our front, also 2 balloons.  Numerous explosions also heard in enemy’s lines.

Operation Order No 150 issued today giving details of relief of our Brigade by the 232nd A.F.A. Brigade on the nights 25/26th and 26/27th.

 

  • Enemy’s artillery active on our forward areas during the day. FISCHEUX and BOISLEUX-le- MARC were shelled during the night with YELLOW CROSS and LACHYMATONY gas shell. Visibility good.  The usual large amount of movement was again observed. Most of which was engaged and dispersed.  The 36th Battery put on a destructive shoot at the request of the infantry.  Two E.As and one balloon were observed today.  Two explosions were observed in enemy’s lines evidently due to our shell fire.

GROSVILLE

26.7.18            The completion of the relief took place today, the brigade moving to the wagon lines in the GROSSVILLE Area, preparatory to a move to another new area.

SAVY

27.7.18            The Brigade passed the Starting Point, BEAUMETZ at 7.00 a.m. Marching through BEAUMETZ – HERMAVILLE to SAVY, arriving at 1.30 p.m.

 

  • The day was spent in cleaning equipment and saluting drill.

 

29.7.18            The day was spent in saluting drill.  O.O. No 151 was issued today giving details of the Brigade march from SAVY to HUMBERCOURT-CULLEMONT Area.

CULLEMONT

  • The Brigade passed the Starting Point near BERLES, at 8.30 a,m. marching through IZEL-les-HAMEAU-AVESNES-les-COMTE-SOMBRIN and WARLUZEL to CULLEMONT and HUMBERCOURT, arriving about 1.00 p.m.

 

  • The Brigade remained in this area during the day and for the first time in the history of the brigade our final destination remained a secret. Wild rumours were in circulation throughout the brigade.  O. 151-1 was issued today giving details of a march from the present area to CANDAS area.  The march to commence at 10.10 P.M.

 

Lieut-Colonel

Com’g 9th Canadian Arty. Brigade

 

 

AUGUST 1918

AUGUST 1918

Hundred Days Offensive

Having finally halted the German Spring Offensive, the final period of the Great War was called the Hundred Days Offensive. The Allies launched a series of successful attacks against Germany and the Central Powers on the Western Front from the 8th August to 11th November 1918. Beginning with the Battle of Amiens, the offensive essentially pushed the Germans out of France. The Germans were forced to retreat behind the Hindenburg Line which resulted in an armistice on the 11th November 1918. The term ”Hundred Days Offensive” does not refer to a specific battle, but rather the rapid series of Allied victories beginning with the Battle of Amiens.

……………..

The Battle of Amiens was the opening phase of the offensive which began on the 8th August 1918. Later known as the Hundred Days Offensive, Allied forces advanced over 11 km (7 miles) on the first day, one of greatest advances of the war, with the British Fourth Army playing the decisive role. The battle began in dense fog at 4.20 a.m. when the III Corps of the Fourth Army attacked north of the Somme. The Australians attacked south of the river and the Canadians south of the Australians. Although German forces were aware of an imminent attack, when the attack occurred it was so unexpected that the Germans only began their counter-artillery bombardment at the area after the Allies forces had long vacated their trenches. The attackers captured the first German position by 7.30 a.m. advancing approximately 3.7 km (2.3 miles). By the end of the day the Allies had punched a gap 24 km (15 miles) long in the German line south of the Somme and taken approximately 16,000 prisoners. Total German losses were estimated to be 30,000 whilst the Fourth Army’s casualties, British, Australian and Canadian infantry, were approximately 8,800. The German General Erich Ludendorff described the first day of Amiens as the “Black day of German Army”, not because of the ground lost but because the morale of German troops had sunk to a point where large numbers of troops began to capitulate. The Battle of Amiens was a major turning point in the tempo of the war. On the 27th August 1918 the Germans had been forced into defensive rather than offensive positions , without any hope of victory on the Western Front. All they could hope for was to defend themselves long enough to gain peace by negotiation.

The advance was continued on the 9th August 1918 at the Battle of Montdidier with French forces attacking the southern part of the battlefield. The advance was not quite as spectacular as the result of the first day as the infantry had outrun their supporting artillery. The Germans commanded a wide field of fire to the south of the Somme on the Chipilly Spur until a small Australian party slipped across the river and captured the village of Chipilly itself on the 12th August 1918.

The Second Battle of Noyon was fought on the 17th August 1918 when the French attacked and captured the town on the 29th August 1918.

On the 15th August 1918, British Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig refused demands from Supreme Allied Commander Marshal Ferdinand Foch to continue the Amiens offensive. The German attack at Amiens was faltering as their troops outran their supplies and artillery. The decision by Foch to launch a three-pronged attack against the Germans saw Haig beginning to plan for an offensive at Albert. The main attack was to be launched by the British Third Army, with the assistance of the United States II Corps.

The Third Battle of Albert was fought on the 21st -22nd August 1918, and Albert was taken from the Germans on the 22nd August 1918. The British and Americans began the advance on Arras. This battle was significant in that it was the opening push that would lead to the Second Battle of the Somme.

The Second Battle of the Somme began with the Second Battle of Bapaume, which was a continuation of the Battle of Albert, and was fought between the 21st August and the 3rd September 1918. These attacks developed into an advance, which pushed the German Army back along an 80 km (50 mile) front line.

On the 29th August 1918 during the Second Battle of Bapaume, the town fell into New Zealand hands. This resulted in an advance by the Australian Corps who crossed the Somme River on the 31st August 1918 and broke the German lines during the Battle of Mont St.Quentin. The German armies were pushed back to the Hindenburg Line from which they had launched their spring offensive in March 1918.

The Battle of the Scarpe was fought between the 26th and 30th August 1918. On the 26th August 1918 the Canadian forces advanced over 5km (3.2 miles) and captured the towns of Monchy-le-Preux and Wancourt. The Allies widened the attack by another 11 km (7 miles) with the Second Battle of Arras. On the 26th August 1918, heavy rain during the night of the 26th/27th August 1918 resulted in slippery ground, making it difficult to assemble troops and the day’s assaults started late. Stiff resistance from the Germans and their heavily defended positions limited the Canadian gains to approximately 3 km (1.9 miles). On the 28th August 1918 the Canadian Infantry seized an important portion of the German Fresnes-Rouvroy defence system after three days of intense fighting. The Canadian Corp cleared portions of the Fresnes-Rouvroy trench system on the 30th August 1918. After holding out all day under heavy fire the Canadians drove off a German counter-attack.

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Other Theatres

On the Italian Front the Battle of San Matteo was fought from 13th August 1918 to 3rd September 1918, on the Punta San Matteo, with the Italians resisting the Austro-Hungarian forces. The battle was regarded as the highest fought battle in history, but has subsequently been surpassed since. The battle followed the defeat at Caporetto and the subsequent counter-attack by the Italians had recaptured all the territory on the southern bank of the Piave River and the battle was over by the 29th June 1918. At the beginning of 1918 Austro-Hungarian troops had set up a fortified position on top of the San Matteo Peak. From this high ground they were able to harass the Italian supply convoys to the front line. On the 13th August 1918 a small group of Italian troops conducted a surprise attack on the peak, and successfully took the fortified position. The Austro-Hungarian forces launched an attack aimed to retake the mountain on the 3rd September 1918. The lost position was recaptured following a massive artillery bombardment and subsequent infantry attack. The successful counter-attack was the last Austro-Hungarian victory in the Great War, and they held that position until the armistice of November 1918.

…………….

During the Caucasus Campaign the Battle of Baku was fought from 26th August to 14th September 1918. The clash was between the Turkish-Azerbaijani coalition forces and the British-Armenian-White Russian forces. Baku and its environs had been the site of clashes since June 1918, and on the 26th August 1918, the Islamic section in the Turkish Army of the Caucasus launched its main attack against positions at Wolf’s Gate. Despite a shortage of artillery, British and Baku troops held the positions against the army of the Caucasus. Over the period of 28th – 29th August 1918, the Turkish forces heavily shelled the city, and attacked the Binagadi Hill position. 500 Turkish soldiers in close order charged up the hill, but were repulsed with the help of artillery. However, the under-strength British troops were forced to retire to positions further south. From the 29th August to 1st September 1918 the Turkish forces managed to capture the positions of Binagadi Hill and Diga. By this point, Allied troops were pushed back to the saucer-like position that made up the heights surrounding Baku. However, Turkish losses were so heavy they were not immediately able to continue their offensive. This gave the Baku Army invaluable time to reorganise their defences.

………………

In August 1918, Flora Sandes was back in the trenches in Serbia. She was the only English lady to fight in the trenches for the Serbian Army. She had been wounded in 1916 and was sent back to England to convalesce. Upon recovery in December 1917 she was ready to resume her duty with her troops but was told by the Serbian Embassy she would be more help to Serbia by continuing a lecture tour in the YMCA centres in Northern France. She had been lecturing to audiences about the plight of the Serbian people, and had raised considerable funds to help relieve the Serbian troops who were desparately short of basic essentials. Upon returning to the trenches another piece of shrapnel trapped inside her body had moved which entailed her having another operation to remove it. She returned to her regiment and was waiting for the order to begin the advance on the long road back into Serbia.

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Timetable August 1918

Timetable August 1918

Hundred Days Offensive

8th Aug to 11th Nov              Hundred Days Offensive

………….

8th – 12th Aug                       Battle of Amiens

9th – 12th Aug                        Battle of Montdidier

17th – 29th Aug                     Second Battle of Noyon

21st – 22nd Aug                     Battle of Albert

21st Aug – 3rd Sept             Second Battle of the Somme and Second Battle of Bapaume

26th – 30th Aug                      Fourth Battle of the Scarpe

26th Aug – Sept                   Fourth Battle of Arras

31st Aug – 3rd Sept             Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin

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Other Theatres

13th Aug – 3rd Sept             Battle of San Matteo

26th Aug – 14th Sept             Battle of Baku

August                                    Flora Sandes back in the trenches in Serbia

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