Gerald Benham’s notes from diaries
22 June 1915. First horse riding lesson at Gt Clacton.
Gerald Benham’s notes from diaries
22 June 1915. First horse riding lesson at Gt Clacton.
Gerald Benham’s notes from diaries
18 June 1915. Brian born at 4.30 p.m.
Special Order by, Major General J.A.L. Haldane. C.B. D.S.O.
Commanding 3rd Division. June. 17th 1915.
The Major General Commanding cannot adequately express his admiration for the gallant manner in which the attack was carried out yesterday.
The dash and determination of all ranks was beyond praise and that some actually reached the objective in the first rush and remained there under most trying circumstances is a proof of their high superiority over the German Infantry.
That the captured could not all be held is disappointing more especially as the losses incurred were heavy. But these casualties have not been in vain.
The 3rd Division carried out a fine piece of work, and fought splendidly, and their Commander is deeply proud of them.
The bombardment of the Artillery was most effective but unfortunately, a slight mist and the smoke from the shells interfered with observation, and the Infantry flags could not be seen.
This combined with the pace at which the assault was carried out, made it impossible to keep our shells ahead of the advancing Infantry.
Sgd. A.F. Sillem Lieut Colonel.
A.A. and Q.M.G. 3rd Division.
SECRET. Copy No…..
OPERATION ORDER NO: 2
BRIGADIER-GENERAL W. DOUGLAS-SMITH.
COMMANDING 9INF. BDE.
Reference Special Map 1/10,000. 14th June, 1915.
1. The 3rd Division will attack the BELLEWADE FM Ridge on the 16th instant. The task of the Division is to seize and hold the line – S.W. corner of BELLEWADE LAKE (I.12.d.3.2.) – Y.18 – Y.7.
This task will be carried out by the 9th Inf Bde, supported by the 7th Bde, and if necessary the 8th Bde.
2. March Table for 9th Bde to places of assembly has already been issued. Two Sections Cheshire Fd Co R.E. will march immediately in front of behind Liverpool Scottish will occupy a position in assembly trenches just behind between Liverpool Scottish and Lincolns.
3. The attack will be divided into three phases as follows:-
FIRST PHASE. Objective – to seize the east edge of Wood (Y.16 – Y.15) and the front line of trenches as far as the N.E. corner of RAILWAY WOOD.
The artillery will bombard the front to be attacked from 2-50 am. to 4-15 am. with 3 pauses at 3-10 am., 3-40 & 4 am.
At 4-15 am. exactly the 4th Royal Fusiliers, 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers and 5th Fusiliers will assault the front from the south corner of the Wood Y.16 to the north edge of the RAILWAY WOOD.
The right of the R.F. will be on the stream running west from the south corner of Wood Y16, the left of the R.S.F. on the hedge running east and west from I.11.d.4.8. to I.11.d.8.8. The division of front between these two battalions has already been fixed on the ground.
The right of the 5th Fusiliers will be on above hedge and left on north edge of RAILWAY WOOD.
This attack will be supported:-
(a) On the right, one battalion 7th Bde (WILTS) from the MENIN Road about I.18.a.2.6. who will seize the west end of the trench running from Y.16 to Y.20, and also by covering rifle and Machine Gun fire from the MENIN Road and south of it.
(b) On the left by covering fire of the 6th Division and by rifle and Machine Gun fire from the Railway.
As soon as the front line is gained, the Royal Fusiliers will push strong bombing parties down the trench from Y.16 to Y.17, the R.S.F. in conjunction with 5th Fusiliers will seize the hostile trench from I.12.c.1.5. to I.12.a.2.1., lying between Y.13 – Y.15. and the second objective, and the 5th Fusiliers will work out towards Y.7 with bombing parties.
Second Phase. Objective – to gain and secure the line of the road from the house 100 yards south of Y.17 through Y.17 to BELLEWADE FM and thence through Y.14 and Y.11 to Y.7.
The artillery will, as soon as the infantry have secured the line mentioned in first phase, bombard the second objective.
The Lincolns and Liverpool Scottish, who during the first phase will move up to the front line of the trenches vacated by the three leading battalions, will, as soon as it seen that the first objective has been gained, advance and assault on front House 100 yards south of Y.17 to Y.11. The dividing line between these two battalions will be the hedge running east and west from I.11.d.4.8. to I.11.d.8.8. and thence the track leading to BELLEWADE FM. Having gained this line they will consolidate it, assisted by two sections Cheshire Fd Co R.E., one of which will follow each of these battalions.
The flanks of this attack will be secured on the right by the battalion of the 7th Bde, which will work up towards Y.20 and the trench leading from that point towards the bridge at I.12.c.9.4., and on the left by the 5th Fusiliers, who will work towards Y.7 and Y.8 with bombing parties.
The R.F. and R.S.F. will during this phase re-organise and be prepared to support the attack of the Lincolns and Liverpool Scottish, if necessary, and to push on to the third objective when the second has been made good.
Third Phase. Objective – S.W. Corner of BELLEWADE LAKE (I.12.d.3.2.) – Y.18 – Y.12 – Y.7.
This objective will be bombarded by the artillery as soon as the second objective is secured.
This line will be assaulted by the R.F., R.S.F., and the 5th Fusiliers, who will attack as soon as it is seen that the second line has been secured.
The R.F. will attack from S.W. corner of LAKE to corner of hedge I.12.d.0.8., R.S.F. from this point to road junction I.12.a.7.4. (inclusive), 5th Fusiliers from road junction to Y8.
4. 7th Bde will support 9th Bde closely, moving forward as the 9th Bde does. They will detail two battalions to occupy and consolidate the line from south corner of Wood Y.16 to Y.7 as soon as units of 9th Bde move forward from this line or any part of it. Parties from these two battalions will be detailed to join up above line with our original front line, immediately this line had been gained.
As soon as third objective is reached, 7th Bde will be prepared to push forward troops to consolidate the line gained.
5. No: 3 Motor Machine Gun Battery will assist the attack by fire from positions south of MENIN Road according to separate instructions issued.
6. R.F., R.S.F., and 5th Fusiliers will establish advanced Medical Aid posts in or near present front line of trenches. Liverpool Scottish and Lincolns will establish similar posts in houses on MENIN Road in I.9.d.
Divisional Collecting Station will be at ECOLE east of YPRES. Advanced Dressing Station will be at ASYLUM I.12.d.
7. Separate instructions regarding communications during the attack have been issued.
8. Brigade Headquarters will be in I.10.d.6.4.
Bde Major, 9th Infantry Brigade.
Units 9th Bde.
Cheshire Fd Co R.E.
No: 3 Motor Machine Gun Bty.
C.R.A. 3rd Div.
Operation Order No 1 by Brigd. Genl W. Douglas-Smith,
Commdg 9th Infy. Bde.
1. 9th Bde supported by 7th Bde, will attack the BELLEWADE SPUR at early morning on the 16th inst.
The objectives and positions allotted to battalions have already been explained to C.Os in the instructions issued for reconnaissance on 12th inst.
Detailed Operation Orders and instructions for the attack will be issued tomorrow 14th.
2. Units will march on evening of 15th to places of assembly for attack in 2 Columns as detailed in attached march table.
March Table, 9th Brigade (to accompany Operation Order No 1)
Units Starting point Hour of passing Starting point Route to Divnl Starting point Halting Place Divnl Starting point and hour of passing Route to places of Assembly Destination
(in order of march)
Commander Major Hely-Hutchinson. 4th R.F.
4th Royal Fuslrs
1st Lincolns Road junction H.13 central 5 pm Road through H.13 H.14 H.15 H.16 H.17 H.23 to KRUISSTRAAT, across No 13 bridge, thence along railway to LILLE GATE Along road near chateau in H.23.b. LILLE GATE 8.30 p.m. ROULERS RAILWAY to I.10.d.0.2. thence by MENIN ROAD (Route B, marked GREEN on sketch to be issued R.F. to assembly trenches I.11.d.7.5. Lines to Cambridge Road Trench (South end)
In order of March.
Commander Lieut Col. C. Yatman 5th Fuslrs
1st Royal Scots Fuslrs.
Liverpool Scottish Cross-roads H.7.c.3.5. 5 pm Road joining POPERINGHE – YPRES road in H.8.A, thence by main road through YPRES to MENIN GATE Along YPRES road about H.11.central MENIN GATE 8.30 p.m. Road junction I.9.D.7.4. – Road I.10.Central – I.11.A – I.11.B.3.5. (Route A marked RED on sketch to be issued) R.S.F. to assembly trenches on left of R.F. and up to I.11.D.7.8. 5th Fuslrs Railway Wood, and trenches as far South as I.11.D.7.8. Liverpool Scottish Cambridge Road North End.
1. Times given above must be strictly adhered to, and Columns kept closed up, as 7th Bde has to follow, and time for reaching places of assembly under cover of darkness is limited.
2. Machine Guns of right column must accompany left column as far as road junction I.9.D.8.4. whence they will proceed to ARRET and join their own Units on Route B. it is essential that returning m.g. limbers should not block the advance of troops of 7th Bde on Route A.
3. Units must be careful at halting places to conceal themselves from Aeroplane Observation as far as possible.
4. Guides to trenches from 8th Bde at a rate of 1 Officer and 4 men to each battalion will meet Units at Divisional Starting points.
SECRET. Copy No 9
INSTRUCTIONS TO Os. C. UNITS, 9th BDE.
1. Maps. Special Maps (1/10,000) with German trenches marked and numbered will be issued on a scale of one per officer.
2. Grenades. 5th Fusiliers, R.F., and R.S.F., will each draw from Bde Workshop on morning of 14th 400 and LINCOLNS and Liverpool Scottish each 160 MILS Pattern Grenades. Receptacles for carrying these will be issued at the same time.
Other grenades will be issued if they become available and there will be a reserve on east side of WITTE POORT FM of 700 No: 6 and 7 pattern Grenades and 300 MILLS Pattern.
3. Screens. Screens (Red and Yellow on one side) will be drawn on 14th at rate of 6 per company. These screens are to mark positions gained, the red and yellow side being turned away from the enemy. It is most important that full use be made of them for information of artillery and observers in rear.
4. Wire cutters. 5th Fusiliers, R.F., R.S.F., will draw on 13th, 50 wire cutters each and Lincolns and Liverpool Scottish 25 each.
Lanyards will be issued with these.
5. Equipment. Packs and greatcoats will be stored at present bivouacs under regimental arrangements. Waterproof sheets should be carried on backs.
Every man will carry:-
1 day’s ration in addition to Iron Ration.
2 sandbags fastened through the belt at back.
chin straps will be worn down.
6. Tools. In each battalion one platoon will carry shovels securely slung on back. These tools will be drawn from Bde workshop on afternoon of 13th.
7. Flags. Units will draw on afternoon of 13th, 10 small flags each for use by grenadier parties to mark position gained in enemy communication trench.
8. S.A.A & R.E. Two S.A.A. Depots of 50 boxes each will be established
Stores reserve. one on each east side of WITTE POORT FM the other at the road barricade I.11.b.4.4. Depots of R.E. stores will be established, one where Cambridge Road joins MENIN Road the other at I.11.b.4.4.
Above will be made known to all concerned.
9. Communication. Special instructions are being issued to battalions by brigade signalling officer. Bde Headquarters will be at the dug-outs at I.10.d.5.5. and it is important that battalion orderlies know its exact position and routes to it.
Brigade Major 9th Inf Bde
13th June, 1915.
Signature in pencil is not facsimile.
Letter to Rev. R.M. Laporte Payne 13 June 1915
9 Arandale Road
To Rev W. La Porte Payne
My dear Vicar,
I am taking the liberty of writing you these few lines. Thank you very much for your last kind letter with all the news it contained.
We hope you are each keeping well and that the work goes forward in the Parish. I hear a little about it from Mr Taylor. I am pleased to inform you that we are all three keeping well at present, Terrence has been under the Doctor here for a Fortnight but is now better and started school again.
Mrs Smith and myself are keeping very well. We went to the 8 o/c Celebration this morning together and of course our thoughts flew to Finchley. My brother has been over to see us on several occasions & has stayed two week ends with us.
My brother in the Army has gone back into the firing line, though the splinters of shell are still in his arm. It is quite two weeks sine I heard from him. My Nephew was well last I heard from him. S.L. Smith has been promoted to Lance Corporal.
I am still making progress in Business and in health, and would be quite happy if it were not for the dark cloud of the past, and the pain & suffering I caused others. I am pleased to say Mrs Smith seems better on the whole, her sister is coming to stay with her on Tuesday next.
I hope Mrs. Payne and your family are each keeping well.
I have often wondered how Archie was getting on, especially when I see the large lists of Officers that are falling day by day. Please to kindly remember me to Mr. Mannering. You must have your hands full just now with your staff reduced. We were wondering if you were having the Garden Fete soon & know what an extra burden that is upon you.
I am still bearing you and the Parish up in my poor prayers, that Our Father may reward you for all your goodness & kindness & give you His blessing in all things.
With our united kind regards & good wishes
Yours v. sincerely
War Diary of AA Laporte Payne
Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda & Correspondence
June 13, 1915.
“I am unable to get away this week end. It has been truly glorious weather, much too hot for work. We had two field days last week . This week we are doing night digging.
I motored over to Bath one evening early last week and went with some friends to hear the band of the 1st Life Guards. We got back about one in the morning. The roads here are full of vehicles of every description ever invented since the Flood, from the donkey cart to the large steam lorry. Even the railway has been carried along the Codford Road. Hundreds of led horses, wagons of forage, stores, cause a vast confusion, and a solid block of sweating horses and men. Everywhere and above all is thick dust, turning the troops white.
I have just managed to get a beautiful little mare. She looks well, and is full of life. I have entered her for the Divisional Horse show to be held soon as a final social function. The Howitzer Brigade are firing this afternoon about eight miles away, and most of the officers have gone over there.
I had to go to Church Parade this morning in the tin tabernacle. A most awful little parson preached. He wore his wife’s fur stole round his neck. It may have been white once. Last Sunday afternoon I went to the Cathedral Service at Salisbury, and then had tea with some friends. Field Days. Colonel’s galloper.
June 22 1915.
“I had a most amazing journey last night. I caught the 9.50, from Paddington, and could not get further than Swindon, even with the help of a goods train. There I got a room at the local Railway Hotel, until 4.30, this morning, and then travelled by the early morning train to Heytesbury, arriving at 8.10 A.M. Today I have been Brigade Orderly Officer, and had the cleanliness of the camp to see to, and other similar duties, among them the inspection of prisoners in the cells. One is a trifle mad, and threatens to murder any one who goes near him. Tonight we are out picketing. Tomorrow there is an inspection by the General in preparation for Thursday, for rumour has it that the King and Kitchener are going to review us on that day. But I always doubt rumour. There is little news in the Times today, bar the War Loan.
Heytesbury Hole is just the same, 1only whiter with age and dust. The 17th Division are just arriving, so more dust.
The Colonel had been away fishing and is in a good mood.
June 23 1915.
I thoroughly enjoyed my week end at home. I had a long journey back via Swindon, where I spent the four midnight hours in the local Railway Hotel, and arrived at Heytesbury at 8 a.m. the next morning.
Tomorrow the King and Kitchener review us at Stonehenge, about fourteen miles from here. The whole Division will turn out. I am acting as Colonel’s Orderly Officer, so the Adjutant and I go by the saluting point together. I hope my mare does not run away with me. Tomorrow stables are at 4 a.m., and we start on our journey at 6.30 am. We shall be dusty when get there, unless it rains which it is trying to do now. The weather is on the change. The dust has been somewhat trying lately, covering everything with a white deposit. The day has been spent getting ready for tomorrow. Yesterday we spent the night, “picketing out” on the Plain.
The Divisional Horse Show is on Saturday. I am putting in my new mare.
They are still building huts here. The place may be completed after we have left.
Heytesbury is white with dust.
(Left Heytesbury on Tuesday afternoon, June 30th 1915).
Alfred George Richardson’s Diary June 1915
1915 diary shows Bombardier Gunner (Signalling Dept) A. G. Richardson 4th Section, West Riding Divisional Ammunition Column R.F.A., Norfolk Barracks Sheffield.
Home Address:- Station House, Ben Rhydding near Leeds. Yorks.
Au Grand Bois d’ Estaires.
Tuesday 1st June 1915: Went to Estaires for forage. Received letter from W. Jennings. Also parcel from home.
Wednesday 2nd June 1915: Went to Estaires for forage. Received letter from Mr. Atkinson & Aunt Etty.
Thursday 3rd June 1915: Went to Bac St. Maur for forage, via Estaires. Afternoon “nothing doing”.
Friday 4th June 1915: Went to Bac St. Maur for forage. In afternoon went to Estaires on a mule for papers.
Saturday 5th June 1915: Went to Bac St. Mann for forage at 7.30. Back at 12.30.
Sunday 6th June 1915: Went to Estaires at 6.30 am for forage. Back at 9.30. Reading & sleeping rest of day. Bathing.
Monday 7th June 1915: Went to Estaires for forage at 6.30 am. Got some fishing tackle for Mr Walker & myself. Grand bathe in pool. Heat terrible.
Tuesday 8th June 1915: Went to Estaires for forage 6.30 am. Washed blankets & trousers. Afternoon thunderstorm. In bivouac all aft. At night, we beat H.Q. (5-1) at football.
Wednesday 9th June 1915: Went to Estaires (6.30) for forage. Doing nothing special during rest of day. Out at night.
Thursday 10th June 1915: Went to Estaires at 6.30 am for forage. Fishing at night at swimming pool. Caught very large eel: also a small one. Smith 6 small ones.
Friday 11th June 1915: Got up at 4 am & went fishing but had no luck. Only caught small roach. Went to Estaires for forage in morning. Out at night.
Saturday 12th June 1915: Went to Estaires for forage at 6.30 am. Made a “Reserve” forage place. Working all day. Out at Estaminet at night.
Sunday 13th June 1915: Went to Estaires for forage at 6.30. Church Parade 9.30. Rest of day spent resting & reading. Sang Hymns at night round camp fire.
Monday 14th June 1915: Went to Estaires for forage at 7 – 9 am. Received pd & letter from home asking me to get a photo taken of the grave of J.W. Kettlewell, only son of a M.R. Goods Guard at Ben Rhydding.
Tuesday 15th June 1915: Went to Estaires for forage at 7 am. Back at 9 am. Filling nosebags in morning. Went to Estaires for bran. Found out cemetery & also a photographer.
Wednesday 16th June 1915: Went to Estaires for forage at 7 am. Back at 9 am. Went to Doulieu at 10 am for clover. Back at 1 pm. Went to Estaires cemetery & had the grave of J.W. Kettlewell (2nd West Yorks) photographed. He died at Neuve Chapelle.
Thursday 17th June 1915: Went to Estaires for forage at 7 am. Back at 9 am. Went to Doulieu for clover, but there was none today for us. Filling nosebags at night. On Guard.
Friday 18th June 1915: Went to Estaires for forage at 7. Back at 9. Filled nosebags. Went to Estaires for photos of grave. Disappointed with result “no bon”.
Saturday 19th June 1915: Went to Estaires at 7 for forage. Went to Fleurbaix to see Arnold. Left 10.30 arrived 12.45. Left 3.40 arrived home 5.50. Beautiful up altho. Ruins etc visited.
N.B. Estaires Cemetery, with the numerous graves of heroes who all fell at Neuve Chapelle, looks indeed a piteous, yet glorious, spectacle.
Sunday 20th June 1915: Went for forage at 6.30. Church Parade 9.30. Reading & writing. Sunny & fine.
Monday 21st June 1915: Went for forage at 7. Back at 9. Wrote to Arnold. Grand day. Went to H.Q. for stores. Out at night.
Tuesday 22nd June 1915: Went to Estaires at 7 am for forage. Back at 9. Filled nosebags. On Guard. Raining.
Wednesday 23rd June 1915: Went to Estaires at 7 am. for forage. Filled nosebags. Cricket Match with 3rd Section. Abandoned owing to storm. Took 2 wkts for 15. Went fishing caught 1 eel.
Thursday 24th June 1915: Went to Estaires at 7 am for forage. Saw Herbert Routledge. Went to A.C. at Sailly sur la Lys with ammn. Back at 8.30 pm.
Friday 25th June 1915: Went to Estaires at 7 am for forage. Storm. Terrific rain. Went to La Gorgue for a bath. Ripping. Singing at night.
Saturday 26th June 1915: Went to Estaires for forage at 6.30 am. Reading & writing all morning. Went to H.Q. for stores. Finish Cricket Match with 3rd Section. Scores: – 3rd – 100 4th – 21 My batting was 9 no out. My bowling was 2 wkts for 10.
Au Grand Bois d’ Estaires – Caestre – Watou.
Sunday 27th June 1915: Went to Estaires for forage at 7 am. Filled nosebags. Rest of day reading, writing & sleeping. On Guard.
Monday 28th June 1915: Went to H.Q. forage. Filled nosebags all day. Wrote 3 letters. Received pcl from home. Letter from Arnold & Miss Whitaker (at Llandudno).
Tuesday 29th June 1915: Went to H.Q. for forage & rations at 7.30 am. getting ready to move off (to Poperinghe?). Cricket at night.
Wednesday 30th June 1915: Went to H.Q. for forage & rations at 7.30 am. Raining hard. Fine in afternoon. Cricket at night. Church Service at night – Prayers etc by Cpl of N.H.Y.