20th Division No. G.961 2 September 1917

20th Division No. G.961
REPORT ON OPERATIONS
CARRIED OUT BY THE 20TH (LIGHT) DIVISION.
AUGUST 6TH – 19TH 1917.

TABLE OF CONTENTS.
1. ORDER OF BATTLE.
2. GENERAL SUMMARY OF OPERATIONS. (Sub-appendix “A”)
3. PERIOD AUGUST 6TH – 15TH
(a) Destructive and counter-battery shoots.
(b) Roads and tracks.
(c) Preliminary Preparations.
(d) Role of 59th Infantry Brigade.
(e) Role of 60th Infantry Brigade
(f) Role of 61st Infantry Brigade.
(g) Summary.
4. PRELIMINARY OPERATION – FORCING OF THE STEENBEEK.
(a) Peaceful penetration.
(b) First attempt by two companies.
(c) Second attempt by one and a half battalions. (Map “W”)
(d) Proposed operation to capture Strong Point at AU BON GITE.
5. DISPOSITIONS OF UNITS AT ZERO, AUGUST 16TH.
(a) The concentration and assembly.
(b) 60th Infantry Brigade.
(c) 61st Infantry Brigade.
(d) Dispositions of all units and location of dumps. (Map “X”).
6. PLAN OF ATTACK.
(a) Summary of plan. (Sub-appendix “B”).
(b) Diagrammatic plan of objectives. (Plate “Y”).
(c) Detailed instructions.
7. NARRATIVE OF OPERATIONS ON AUGUST 16TH.
(a) Night August 15th/16th.
(b) General course of engagement (from messages received.)
(c) Action of 60th Infantry Brigade.
(d) Action of 61st Infantry Brigade.
(e) Enemy counter-attack.
(f) Attempt to regain ground enemy had gained in counter-attack.
(g) Final position of Division. (Map “Z”).
(h) Relief of Division by 38th Division.
(i) Casualties. (Sub-appendix “C”).
(j) Prisoners captured.
(k) Captured material.
8. LESSONS LEARNT. (Sub-appendix “D”)
LIST OF SUB-APPENDICES.
A. SUMMARY OF OPERATIONS.
B. DIVISIONAL INSTRUCTIONS 8 – 15.
C. CASUALTIES INCURRED.
D. LESSONS LEARNT.
LIST OF MAPS, ETC.
W. MAP SHOWING COY. FRONTAGES AT FORCING OF STEENBEEK.
X. DISPOSITIONS AT ZERO.
Y. DIAGRAMATIC ORDER OF BATTLE FOR ATTACK.
Z. FINAL POSITIONS.
———–oOo———–

1. ORDER OF BATTLE.
G.O.C.
Major General T.G. MATHESON. August 6th/7th.
Major General C.G. BLACKADDER, C.B.,D.S.O, ADC August 7th/8th.
Major General W. DOUGLAS SMITH C.B., August 8th/19th.

59TH INFANTRY BRIGADE.
Commander: Brig.-General R.C. BROWNE-CLAYTON. D.S.O.
10th K.R.R.C. 10th R.B.
11th K.R.R.C. 11th R.B.
M.G. Coy. T.M. Bty.
Attached: 96th Field Coy. R.E.
———————————————–

60TH INFANTRY BRIGADE.
Commander: Brig.-General Hon. L.J.P. BUTLER, C.M.G., D.S.O.
6th Oxf. & Bucks. L.I. 12th K.R.R.C.
6th K.S.L.I. 12th R.B.
M.G. Coy. T.M. Bty.
Attached: 83rd Field Coy. R.E.
———————————-

61ST INFANTRY BRIGADE.
Commander: Brig-General W.E. BANBURY, C.M.G.
12th King’s (L’pool)Regt. 7th D. of Cornwall’s L.I.
7th Somerset L.I. 7th K.O. Yorkshire L.I.
M.G. Coy. T.M. Bty.
Attached: 84th Field Coy. R.E.
——————————–
Pioneer Battalion: 11th Durham L.I.
Divl. M.G. Coy. 217th M.G. Coy.
————–

RIGHT ARTILLERY OF THE XIV CORPS
(20th and 38th Divisional Artilleries.).
Commander: Brig-General W.A.M. THOMPSON, C.B.
———–oOo———–

2. GENERAL SUMMARY.
A general summary of operations during the period August 6th to 19th is given as Sub-appendix “A” of this report.

3. PERIOD AUGUST 6TH/15TH.
(a) Destructive and Counter-battery Shoots. Destructive and counter-battery shoots were carried out continuously by Divisional and Heavy Artillery.
(b) Roads and tracks. Roads, tramways and tracks were extended and improved by the Divisional Engineers and Pioneers, assisted by Infantry working parties.
(c) Preliminary Preparations. The following preliminary preparations were made:-
(i). Signal Communications. (Instructions No 10).x
(ii). Machine Gun Barrage Positions. (Instructions No 11).x
(iii). Medical Arrangements. (Instructions No 13).x
(iv). Dumps; (S.A.A., Grenades, etc. (Instructions No 14).x
X NOTE: Vide Sub-appendix “B” of this Report.
(d) Role of 59th Infantry Brigade. The 59th Infantry Brigade relieved the 61st Infantry Brigade on the Divisional front on the night of August 7th/8th.
During the period August 8th/15th, the 59th Infantry Brigade:-
(i). Essayed to establish themselves on the East bank of the STTENBEEK by peaceful penetration, and on this being unsuccessful,
(ii) Attempted to force the passage with two companies, in the early morning of August 11th, again without success, vide para: 9 of “Summary of Operations”, (Sub-appendix “A” to this report.)
(iii) Forced the passage with six companies in the early morning of August 14th, vide para: 10 of “Summary of Operations”, and para 4 of this report.
(iv) Prepared a special operation for the reduction of the enemy strong point at AU BON GITE on the night of the 14th, but were prevented by darkness, shell, and machine-gun, fire from carrying it out.
(v). Left covering troops on the East bank of The STEENBEEK when the rest of the Brigade was relieved on the night of August 14th/15th.

(e) Role of 60th Infantry Brigade. The 60th Infantry Brigade, from August 6th to 14th, was in support in the MALAKOFF FARM Area.
Throughout this period it furnished working parties on an average of two battalions per diem.
(f) Role of 61st Infantry Brigade. The 61st Infantry Brigade relieved the 114th Infantry Brigade (38th Division) on the night of August 5th/6th, and was itself relieved by the 59th Infantry Brigade on the night of August 7th/8th.
From August 8th to 14th, the Brigade was in Reserve in the GARDOEN FARM Area, whence it furnished working parties on an average of one battalion per diem throughout the period.
(g) Summary. This period may be summed up as follows:-
(i) All preliminary preparations were made, and the way paved for the attack by the 60th and 61st Infantry Brigades by the forcing of the STEENBEEK by the 59th Infantry Brigade.
(ii). The 59th Infantry Brigade, owing to the casualties incurred in forcing the STEENBEEK, was no longer fit for operations, with the result that two battalions of the 114th Infantry Brigade (38th Division) were ordered up to form part of the 20th Division Reserve; with the 59th Infantry Brigade practically out of action, the Division had to be relieved on the conclusion of the battle.

4. PRELIMINARY OPERATION – FORCING OF THE STEENBEEK. (vide Instructions No. 9)
(a) Peaceful Penetration. During the first week of August, the enemy, profiting by the bad weather which had prevented any advance to the East bank of the stream, organised his defences there, with the result that it proved impossible to establish bridgeheads on the East bank by peaceful penetration as had been intended.
(b) First attempt by two companies. Two companies of the 11th K.R.R.C., with artillery support attempted to establish themselves on the East bank at 4.15 a.m. on August 11th.
The right company appears to have crossed the stream, but suffered severe losses from an enemy patrol who crossed to the West bank of the stream and enfiladed them. The left company was unable to effect any progress.
(c) Second attempt by one and a half battalions. Another attempt was made on August 14th by one and a half battalions (10th R.B. and two companies 11th R.B.), (vide map attached, marked “W”).
(i). The final objective was a line about 300 yards East of the STEENBEEK; this would provide room for the attacking troops of the 60th and 61st Infantry Brigades to assemble for the attack on August 16th.
(ii). At 3.0 a.m. on August 14th, the attacking troops were successfully assembled on a taped line 250 yards West of the STEENBEEK.
(iii). Zero was at 4.0 a.m. at which hour the artillery barrage fell; the enemy’s barrage was fairly heavy, but generally speaking fell West of the attacking Companies.
(iv). The crossing of the STEENBEEK proved on the whole easy, but a certain amount of delay arose owing to the swampy ground.
(v). The fixing of bridges had not been sufficiently practiced and proved difficult at some points.
(vi). The first waves of Nos. 1, 2, and 3 companies reached their objective about 4.30 a.m.; the second wave continued mopping-up shell craters and inflicted a number of casualties on the enemy, besides taking prisoners.
(vii). No 4 company suffered rather heavy casualties, and was held up by machine-gun fire from the right flank and rifle fire from the front.
(viii). No 5 company was considerably delayed in crossing the STEENBEEK, and both assaulting waves got mixed up. The company carried straight on for AU BON GITE, although met with heavy machine-gun fire from there; the mill mound at AU BON GITE was reached and taken possession of.
Behind that was a solid concrete structure practically untouched by our bombardment, and to the right of that and connected to it by a trench, were four dugouts also of concrete.
These four smaller dugouts were mopped-up without much difficulty, but the larger structure behind the mill could not be captured. Our troops were all around it and some on top of it, when the enemy counter-attacked in large numbers from a trench some 70 yards to the East. In face of this No. 5 company which was now very short of S.A.A. and had run out of bombs, was compelled to fall back and take up a position some 200 yards West of AU BON GITE, and partially encircling it.
(ix). No 6 company on the extreme right crossed the STEENBEEK fairly easily, and advanced to, and occupied, their objective without much opposition. They remained there for some time, but were involved in the counter-attack on No. 5 company and had to withdraw, some of them recrossing the river. When No. 5 company had established itself in a position surrounding AU BON GITE, No. 6 company was brought up again and used partly as a defensive flank of No. 5, partly to form a post on the extreme right, practically on the line of the original objective.
(x). At about three hours after Zero the artillery was ordered to keep under fire the triangle U.28.b.4.5. – U.29.c.2.9. – U.28.b.75.80., in order to prevent enemy reinforcements coming up.
(xi). By this time No. 4 company had become disorganised, and part of it was absorbed by No. 3 company and part by No. 5 company.
(xii). Nos. 1, 2, and 3 companies remained in their objectives until the morning of the 16th without being seriously interfered with by the enemy.
(xiii). Early in the morning of the 15th the enemy attempted to force back No. 5 company by working round the right flank. Their advance was impeded from the start by the boggy nature of the ground, and was met by a steady fire from our troops, under which the attack soon melted away.
(xiv). On the morning of the 15th, after this attack on No. 5 company, parties were pushed up from the two companies of the 11th Bn. R.B. which had not taken part in the assault, as reinforcements for the troops across the STEENBEEK; 60 men were sent to the right, and 50 to the left flank. These parties suffered rather severe casualties on the way up, but succeeded in reaching the forward troops.
(xv). Although the strong point at AU BON GITE itself had not been reduced, the STEENBEEK was definitely crossed, and the way paved for the major operation on the 16th. One officer and 38 other ranks of the 262 R.I.R. were captured, and many of the enemy were killed. Our own casualties, especially in officers, were fairly heavy.
(d) Proposed operation to capture Strong Point at AU BON GITE. Preparations were made for a company of the 10th K.R.R.C./ and a company of the 11th K.R.R.C. to capture the Strong Point at AU BON GITE at 2.0 a.m. on August 15th with the assistance of trench mortars, machine-gun fire from the 217th M.G. Coy and 6 R.E. detachments from 83rd Field Coy, for blowing in the doors. Owing , however, to the darkness, heavy rain, and continuous shell and machine-gun fire on the line of the STEENBEEK, this attack did not materialise.
NOTE: On the morning of August 16th the assaulting troops of the 60th Infantry Brigade passed forward on each side of AU BON GITE, which was then mopped-up by the original No. 5 Coy. of the 11th R.B. (59th Infantry Brigade) and a party of 83rd Field Coy., R.E. at their leisure.

5. DISPOSITIONS OF UNITS AT ZERO AUGUST 16TH.
(a) The concentration and assembly. The concentration and assembly of the Division was carried out in accordance with orders No. 199x and 200,x and Amendment No. 1 and special Instructions to Order No. 200x.
The forming up of the assaulting troops on the line of the STEENBEEK was a difficult manoeuvre, and its successful accomplishment reflects the greatest credit on all concerned.
x NOTE: Included in War Diary as Appendices.
(b) 60th Infantry Brigade.
(i). At dusk on August 15th parties from 12th R.B. and 83rd Field Coy. R.E. carried forward 16 bridges covered with canvas (which had been specially prepared by the 83rd Field Coy., R.E.) from CANDLE TRENCH, where they had been dumped the previous night, to the STEENBEEK, and placed them across the stream.
(ii). During the night the 6th Oxf. & Bucks L.I. assembled in two waves, with two platoons of the 12th R.B. attached to each wave as moppers-up. The leading wave crossed the STEENBEEKE by means of the bridges, and assembled on the East side of the stream; this wave was covered by the posts of the 11th R.B. (59th Infantry Brigade.) The hostile posts were on the average less than 150 yards from this bank of the stream; opposite AU BON GITE they were considerably nearer.
(iii). The second wave assembled on the West bank of the stream, together with two guns of the 60th T.M. Battery, and two sections of the 60th M.G. Company.
(iv). The 6th K.S.L.I. and 12th K.R.R.C. formed up in artillery formation, (a series of lines of platoons, each in single file), their positions being roughly indicated by tapes, which had been laid out on compass bearings by the Brigade staff.
(v). In spite of the difficulty as regards the laying of the tapes, the bad state of the ground, and the fact that the 6th K.S.L.I. came under heavy shell fire at IRON CROSS while on the march up from CANAL Bank, the assembly was successfully carried out; the 6th K.S.L.I. on the right from about C.4.a.9.9. to about U.28.c.7.2., and the 12th K.R.R.C. thence N.W. to DAVIES STREET.
(vi). The 12th R.B. (less one company) assembled in CANDLE TRENCH.
(c) 61st Infantry Brigade.
(i). At 10.0 p.m. August 15th two officers of the 84th Field Coy., R.E. laid out tapes about 175 yards East of the STEENBEEK, also at right-angles to the line of advance, and in prolongation of it.
(ii). When this had been accomplished 7th Somerset L.I. on the right, and 7th K.O.Y.L.I. on the left, crossed the STEENBEEK. By 3.30 a.m. the whole of these two battalions were on the East bank of the STEENBEEK, deployed on a two company front, each company being formed of three platoons. Two guns of the 61st T.M. Battery, and two sections of the 61st M.G. Company were also East of the stream.
(iii). The 12th King’s (L’pool) Regt. from MALAKOFF FARM Area, and 7th D.C.L.I. from West Canal bank moved forward during the night; the 12th King’s (L’pool) Regt. were across the stream by Zero, and the 7th D.C.L.I., who came under shell fire en route, at Zero plus 15 minutes.
(d) Dispositions of all units and locations of dumps. The dispositions of all units of the Division, including transport, and the locations of dumps are shewn on attached map marked “X”.
Brigade Headquarters were as follows:-
59th Inf. Bde. H.Q. C.19.c.50.05.
60th Inf. Bde. Adv H.Q. STRAY FARM.
Rear H.Q. C.13.c.30.15 (HUDDERSFIELD ROAD DUGOUTS).
61st Inf. Bde. Adv. H.Q. GDE BARRIERE HOUSE.
Rear H.Q. C.13.c.10.20. (FUSILIER HOUSE)

6. PLAN OF ATTACK.
Summary of plan.
(a) The plan of attack is summarised in paras: 12 and 13 of “Summary of Operations” (Sub-appendix “A”). additional details are shewn in the following Instructions:-
Summary of plan – Instructions No. 8 x (Revised)
Action of Engineers – Instructions No. 12. x
Action of Artillery – Instructions No. 15 x
(b) Order of Battle for attack. The plan for the capture of the various objectives is shewn diagrammatically on attached plate marked “Y”.
(c) Detailed Instructions. Various other Instructions for this operation, already referred to, are as follows. Nos. 1 to 7 were attached as Appendix “D” to War Diary for July, the remainder are included as Sub-appendix “B” of this report.
(d). General Instructions. – Instructions No. 1 (Revised 15th July,
1917).
Role of 20th Division – Instructions No 2.
General Principles and
Instructions.
System of Inter-communications. – Instructions No. 3.
Officers and other ranks – Instructions No. 4.
to be kept out of battle; Liaison Officers.
Orders regarding – Instructions No. 5.
Prisoners and captured
Territory.
Equipment, Transport – Instructions No. 6.
and dumps.
Captured Guns, Evacuation – Instructions No. 7.
and Maps
Summary of Plan. – Instructions No. 8. x
(See para: 6 (a) (Revised)
The passage of the – Instructions No. 9. x
STEENBEEK (See para: 4 above).
Signal Communications. – Instructions No. 10. x
(See para:3 (c) above).
M.G. Barrages. (See – Instructions No. 11. x
Para 3 (c) above).
Action of Engineers – Instructions No. 12. x
(see para: 6(a) )
Medical Arrangements. – Instructions No. 13. x
(see para: 3 (c) above).
Dumps. (See para: 3 – Instructions No. 14. x
(c) above)
Action of Artillery – Instructions No. 15. x
(See para: 6 (a) )
X NOTE: Vide Sub-appendix “B” of this report.

7. NARRATIVE OF OPERATIONS ON AUGUST 16TH – 19TH.
(a) Night August 15th/16th. During the night August 15th/16th there was intermittent artillery and machine-gun fire from the enemy, who also fired Very lights from AU BON GITE and neighbourhood.
As already described (para 5), however, the assembly of the 60th and 61st Infantry Brigades was concluded without incident.
(b) First attempt by two companies. The general course of the engagement may be followed from the précis of messages given below, which were received at Divisional Headquarters during the day. A feature of these messages was the accuracy and promptitude of F.O.O’s reports. In all cases these reports proved accurate, though on at least one occasion, a report received from the air was at variance with the corresponding report received from the F.O.O.
4.45 a.m. Zero Hour. Our barrage opened and enemy sent up
many lights, chiefly Green.
5.0 a.m. Our barrage appears to be very good, and one of our
aeroplanes is over and engaging enemy machine guns.
5.2 a.m. An enemy barrage which started shortly before zero still
continues on the line of the STEENBEEK, but is light.
5.40 a.m. F.O.O. with 61st Inf. Bde. telegraphs the first objective
taken, all going well, and prisoners coming back.
5.45 a.m. F.O.O. at RUDOLPH FARM reports that our men can be
seen round ALOUETTE FARM, showing 60th Inf. Bde. to be beyond its first objective.
6.10 a.m. F.O.O. with 61st Inf. Bde. reports attack passed
CRUCIFIX, U.28.b.83.60., and LANGEMARCK Church at 5.40 a.m.
6.12 a..m. 29th Div. on our left report their first objective taken.
6.30 a.m. Wounded officer of the 60th Inf. Bde. gives account of the
taking of AU BON GITE without difficulty, but says that when he left the front line, the 61st Inf. Bde. seemed to be having some trouble at REITRES FARM.
6.35 a.m. F.O.O. reports enemy shelling LANGEMARCK.
7.20 a.m. 29th Div. on our left report that they can see our infantry in
strength on our second objective, and that they themselves have captured the GREEN line. (Second objective).
7.30 a.m. F.O.O with 60th Inf. Bde. reports we are holding the GREEN Line. (Second objective).
8.15 a.m. B.G.G.S. of Corps telephones that contact planes are
confident our troops were not in LANGEMARCK at 7.5 a.m.
8.20 a.m. Telephone messages from B.G.C. 60th Inf. Bde. says he
can see our men in RED Line, near MILL at U.24.c.10.15.
8.25 a.m. Intelligence Officer, 20th Division reports capture of
enemy Battalion Commander defending LANGEMARCK, who confirms fall of village.
8.30 a.m. 29th Div. on our left consolidating GREEN Line and in
touch with both flanks.
9.2. a.m. F.O.O. with 61st Inf. Bde. reports that he has established
himself at U.22.d.5.8., and that our Infantry are 800 yards in front of him.
9.30 a.m. F.O.O. with 60th Inf. Bde. reports that the RED Line was
taken at 7.45 a.m. Our infantry are now consolidating the RED Line.
11.0 a.m. 60th Inf. Bde. state they are consolidating line 150 yards
in front of salient on our right front, and are in touch with the 11th Div.
12.57 p.m. 29th Div. on our left report all RED Line captured.

(c) Action of 60th Infantry Brigade.
(i). At Zero, 4.45 a.m., the barrage fell, and the 11th R.B. (59th Inf. Bde.) threw smoke bombs at AU BON GITE, (In order to mask the advance of the Infantry) and rushed forward to capture it; a party of 83rd Field Coy. R.E., co-operated.
(ii). The first wave of 6th Oxf. & Bucks L.I. moved forward well under the barrage, while the second wave crossed the STEENBEEK by means of the bridges previously laid. The ground between the STEENBEEK and the BLUE Line was practically a bog, and troops had the greatest difficulty in advancing; a certain amount of opposition was met with from a blockhouse at U.28.b.6.1., but at Zero plus 35 minutes the first objective was reached with trifling loss; 35 prisoners were taken during the advance to the BLUE Line.
(iii). At Zero plus 1hour (5.45 a.m.) the advance to the GREEN Line was begun, by the second wave of the 6th Oxf. & Bucks L.I. The GREEN Line was captured, without special incident, with little loss, and was consolidated.
(iv). At 5.10 a.m. the 6th K.S.L.I. and 12th K.R.R.C. had crossed the STEENBEEK; the 6th K.S.L.I. reached the BLUE Line without incident, but the 12th K.R.R.C. came under machine-gun fire from a concrete emplacement at about U.28.b.8.6. The commanding Officer (Lieut. Colonel PRIOLEAU, M.C.) was wounded and casualties caused. Captain LYCETT assumed command, and ordered Sergeant COOPER and his platoon to rush this post; this was done very successfully, and the garrison of 40 were taken prisoners.
(v). The two battalions (6th K.S.L.I., and 12th K.R.R.C.) then continued the advance to the GREEN Line; a certain amount of mopping-up had to be done with the result that many of the enemy were killed, and 46 prisoners taken. Beyond some opposition on the outskirts of LANGEMARCK from machine-guns and snipers, and from ALOUETTE FARM, no serious trouble was met with, and the two battalions deployed about 100 yards East of the GREEN Line preparatory to a further advance.
(vi). The advance to the third objective began at 7.20 a.m.; the ground East of the GREEN Line was firmer; both battalions pressed on and occupied the RED Line as soon as the barrage lifted. Strong opposition had been met with from hedges and ditches, and from concrete dugouts at U.23.d.4.0., U.23.d.9.0.; also from the MILL, WHITE HOUSE, and the neighbourhood of RAT HOUSE. Many Germans were killed, and several batches of unwounded prisoners, numbering in all 135, were sent back during this period.
(vii). At 7.45 a.m. patrols were sent forward from the RED Line, made good a line across the salient from U.24.c.45.00. to U.24.c.50.00., and began consolidating. WHITE HOUSE was dealt with by rifle grenades, and then rushed by an officer and 8 men. The N.E. edge of the Cemetery was also occupied, with posts, by the 12th K.R.R.C.
(viii).Valuable help was given to the Brigade, both before, during, and after action by the 83rd Field Coy. R.E.

(d) Action of 61st Infantry Brigade.
(i). After the barrage fell at 4.45 a.m., the attacking waves of the 7th Somerset L.I., and the 7th K.O.Y.L.I. advanced across the boggy marsh which lay in front of them. Considerable trouble was caused by machine-gun fire which came from AU BON GITE, and other concrete blockhouses, – notably REITRES FARM, and the strong point near the station at U.22.c.8.4.
(ii). Great dash and initiative was shewn by individual officers, N.C.O’s and men during this period, – instances occurring of bombs being thrown, and Lewis-guns, rifles, and revolvers, fired, through the loopholes of the concrete blockhouses. Not only was the advance facilitated by these actions, but considerable casualties were inflicted upon the enemy, over 70 prisoners being taken including a Battalion Commander.
(iii). The advance from the BLUE to the GREEN Line met with opposition on the right from machine-gun fire and snipers located about U.23. central; on the left, little resistance was encountered once, the Station had been taken.
(iv). The “mopping-up” parties (200 per cent of the actual assaulting waves), did their work thoroughly; each concrete dugout was “mopped-up” separately “mopping-up” parties working forward from shell hole to shell hole under Lewis gun fire and then bombing the enemy out. Over 70 prisoners were captured during this period.
(v). Up till now the enemy’s standing barrage on the STEENBEEK had been ineffective, and though he now began to shell the S.W. entrance to LANGEMARCK, little damage was done.
(vi). The 12th King’s (L’pool) Regt. and 7th D.C.L.I. had suffered casualties while following up the two leading battalions. In spite of this, and of the morass through which they were moving, the men showed such keenness that some of them became involved in the attacking waves. East of the BLUE Line little resistance was offered as far as the 12th King’s (L’pool) Regt. was concerned, but the 7th D.C.L.I. on the left encountered greater opposition; they were moreover delayed by the holding-up of the 7th K.O.Y.L.I. at REITRES FARM. One platoon of the 7th D.C.L.I, actually assisted the 7th K.O.Y.L.I. in reducing this obstacle.
(vii). At 7.20 a.m. the 12th King’s (L’pool) Regt. and 7th D.C.L.I. reformed on the GREEN Line, and continued the advance to the RED Line under the barrage. Little opposition was met with, except from a group of buildings on the Railway at U.23.a.00.50 and U.17.c.50.00., from which about 60 prisoners were taken.
(viii). Throughout the advance the left flank was in touch with the 88th Infantry Brigade (29th Division), both battalions with one another, and on the right flank with the left battalion of the 60th Infantry Brigade.
(ix). Consolidation proceeded throughout the morning; the 7th D.C.L.I. and 12th King’s (L’pool) Regt. working on the RED Line, the 7th Somerset L.I. and 7th K.O.Y.L.I. on the GREEN Line.
(x).Valuable assistance was given by the 84th Field Coy. R.E. in arranging for the crossing of the STEENBEEK and construction of strong points; it was found impossible to repair the DAVIES STREET Bridge, in spite of two hours’ work under shell fire. A ford was constructed however, at U.28.c.8.8. Mules could cross at 7.30 p.m. on the 16th, and limbers by the following morning.

(e) Enemy counter-attack.
(i). Between 12 noon and 1.0 p.m. several reports were received from Infantry and F.O.O’s stating that the enemy appeared to be forming up along the hedges in front of the Division; there was undoubtedly considerable enemy movement on our front. At 3.0 p.m. fire became more noticeable, and at 4.0 p.m. the enemy delivered a counter-attack, and effected a lodgement somewhere about the junction of the 60th and 61st Infantry Brigade. During this attack “B” Company 12th K.R.R.C. suffered heavy casualties.
(ii). Survivors from the left battalion front of 60th Infantry Brigade, which had now been driven in, fell back on the Reserve Company. 12th K.R.R.C., where touch was effected with “A” Company 12th K.R.R.C. on the right, and 12th King’s (L’pool) Regt. (61st Infantry Brigade) on the left. A company of the 6th Oxf. & Bucks L.I. was ordered forward to assist 12th K.R.R.C.
(iii). About 6.30 p.m. a report was received from the Right company commander of the 12th King’s (L’pool) Regt. that he had been compelled to withdraw his company some 200 yards. This appears to have influenced the centre company of the 12th King’s (L’pool) Regt., which had lost all its officers and senior N.C.O’s., and this company withdrew from the RED Line.
The left company of the 12th King’s (L’pool) Regt. then swung back its right flank in order to fill the gap caused by the retirement of the centre company.
(iv). During the night 16th/17th, Lieut Colonel E.A. WOOD D.S.O., Commanding 6th K.S.L.I., being unable to join up with the 9th Lancs. Fusiliers (34th Infantry Brigade, 11th Division) at WHITE HOUSE, and fearing that his right flank was too exposed, withdrew his posts from WHITE HOUSE, and formed a defensive flank. This flank was taken over about midnight by two platoons of the 12th R.B.
(v). During the counter-attack nearly all S.A.A., had been expended, and a company of the 12th R.B. was ordered forward to carry up more ammunition.
(vi). At 7.0 p.m. the 10th (Welsh ) Regiment (114th Infantry Brigade), (38th Division), was placed at the disposal of B.G.C. 60th Inf. Brigade. One company was placed in position from about U.28.b.8.3. to U.28.d.7.5.; the remaining three companies were employed in carrying water and ammunition to ALOUETTE FARM from JOLIE FARM Area.
(vii). About the same time the 15th Welsh Regiment (114th Infantry Brigade), (38th Division) was placed at the disposal of B.G.C. 61st Infantry Brigade; this battalion also gave valuable assistance in carrying water, rations, and S.A.A. One company assisted consolidation on the GREEN Line.
(viii). The night 16th/17th was comparatively quiet, and passed without incident. At 11.0 p.m. Lieut Colonel C.J. TROYTE-BULLOCK, D.S.O. Commanding 7th Somerset L.I. who had received orders from B.G.C. 61st Infantry Brigade to clear up the situation, reported all quiet and the line continuous.

(f) Attempt to regain ground enemy had gained in counter-attack.
(i). Orders were issued from Divisional Headquarters at 9.0 a.m. on the 17th August, for the 60th and 61st Infantry Brigades to attack, and re-occupy, that part of the RED Line from which they had been driven by the enemy counter-attack the previous day. Artillery co-operation was arranged for, and the 11th Division on our right were asked to assist by placing a smoke barrage on the right flank of our line near RAT HOUSE, and by searching with 18 pdrs. PHEASANT FARM, and the ground between that and RAT HOUSE. Zero was to be at 6.30 p.m.
(ii). The 60th Infantry Brigade detailed two and a half companies of the 12th R.B. for the attack; the 61st Infantry Brigade detained the 12th King’s (L’pool) Regt., supported by the remainder of the 7th Somerset L.I. and one company of the 7th D.C.L.I.
(iii). The enemy’s barrage fell at Zero plus 6 minutes but did little damage. Machine-gun fire and sniping commenced from the direction of RAT HOUSE and U.24.c.central, however, as soon as our troops left the shelter of the buildings and the hedges along the ALOUETTE FARM – LANGEMARCK ROAD. On the left of the 12th King’s (L’pool) Regt. the RED Line was occupied with little opposition, but the right flank of the 61st Infantry Brigade troops, and the whole of the 12th R.B. (60th Infantry Brigade) suffered severe casualties from the heavy machine-gun and rifle fire from the direction of RAT HOUSE. Owing to this the attack failed and it was decided to dig in on the original line.
(g) Final position of Division. The final position reached by the Division is as shown in Map “Z”.
(h) Relief of Division by 38th Division.
(i). On the night 17th/18th the 61st Infantry Brigade were relieved by the 114th Infantry Brigade
(ii).On the night 18th/19th the 60th Infantry Brigade were relieved by the 114th Infantry Brigade .
(iii). The G.O.C. 20th Division handed over command of the Sector to G.O.C. 39th Division at 10.0 a.m. on 19th August.
(iv). On relief the Division was concentrated:-
Divisional H.Qrs. PROVEN, F.7.d.6.9.
59th Inf. Bde. P.1. Area.
60th Inf. Bde. S.1. Area.
61st Inf. Bde. P.4. Area.

(i) Casualties. The casualties incurred during the 13 days’ numbered just over 3,000; details are shewn in Sub-appendix “D” to this Report.
(j) Prisoners captured. As far as can be ascertained, the total prisoners captured by the Division were as follows:-
Officers. O.R.
Unwounded. 13 335
(includes 1 Bn. Comdr.)
Wounded. 7 70
Total. 20 405

Units identified on Divisional Front.
261 R.I.R.) 79th Reserve Division.
262 R.I.R.)

184 I.R. 183rd Division.
119 Gren: R. 26th Division.

(k) Captured material. No accurate account of captured material was possible before the Division was relieved, but the following figures are approximately correct:-
Guns. 2, 4.2” Howitzers.
1, 77 mm. Field Gun (less breech block)

Machine Guns. 15, 2 of which were definitely used in action
against the enemy.

8. LESSONS LEARNT. The lessons learnt from these operations are summarised in the two attached letters, addressed to the XIV Corps, and shewn as Sub-appendix “C” of this Report.
(Signed) W. Douglas Smith.
Major General.
Commanding 20th Division.
2nd September, 1917.

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