Report 30 October 1916

ARMY BOOK 152
CORRESPONDENCE BOOK
(FIELD SERVICE)
Opened on Nov. 1st 1916.
Started Intelligence Nov 21st 1916.
Norman Richardson
2nd Lieut S.O.
DECK
SIGNAL SECTION.
30/10/16
LOCATION OF UNITS.
Unit Nearest Place Location
Bde. H.Q. HULL Thievres I.7.b.30.10
BOW Couin D.26.c.05.05.
STERN Thievres I.7.b.40.50
KEEL [less 2 Cos] Coigneux J.9.a.30.10
KEEL [2 Cos] Courcelles J.27.d.9.2.
DECK Rossignol Farm J.3.c.90.70.
RIB Coigneux J8.c.40.60.
RUDDER Sailly J.18.a.50.50.
SHIP (Advanced) Bay*** J.9.b.90.50.

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Notes on Operations 56 Division September & October 1916

Notes on Operations 56 Division September & October 1916

NOTES on OPERATIONS of 56th (LONDON)
DIVISION on the SOMME 7.9.16 to 10.10.16.

The results of the operations carried out by the Division during September and October 1916 have led to the following deductions:-
1. Direction of Advance. To give an attack a fair chance of success it must be launched from departure trenches as nearly as possible parallel to the objectives. Complicated manoeuvres, such as a wheel or change of direction during an assault prejudice the chances of success of present-day troops.

2. Distance of departure trenches from objective. The system of departure trenches should not be nearer than 200 yards from the first objective; otherwise trenches may have to be evacuated to enable the Artillery to bombard. An evacuated trench may be occupied by the enemy; and even if it is not, it is liable to be mistaken during an assault for the enemy’s first line.
In order to ensure the success of an assault, a proper scheme of assembly trenches must be thought out, and sufficient time must be given for their construction. To enable this to be done, accurate information must be available as to the position of our own troops and trenches, and the enemy’s troops and trenches.

3. Woods. An attack through or from a wood is to be avoided, if it is possible to work round it. If the wood has been heavily shelled it is impossible to dig assembly trenches in it, and troops get disorganised directly they try to move in it.

4. Selection of Objective. The selection of objectives should be as definite as possible – i.e. they should be recognisable on the ground. Considering the heavy casualties which occur among officers, and the partially trained state of many of the N.C.O’s and men, it is seldom of any use leaving the site of the objective to the judgment of the assaulting troops.

5. Flank in the Air. Too much attention is apt to be paid to the “bogey” of the flank in the air. Commanders should never be deterred from seizing and occupying valuable ground for fear of having a flank exposed. Such a flank is comparatively easily protected, at any rate for a time, by machine or Lewis Guns, or a bombers post, and one knows from experience that it is no easy matter, and usually a costly one, to attack an enemy trench in flank. For example, the left flank of the 56th Division was entirely in the air from September 9th until the QUADRILATERAL was captured by the 6th Division on the 18th; and again (in GROPI and RANGER Trenches in T.15.d. and T.16.c.) from the night of the 20th to the 24th September. The right flank of the Division in the COMBLES, BULLY and BEEF Trenches was continually in touch with the enemy.

6. Information as to Situation. Experience has shewn that the first reports received from units and from F.O.O’s as to the position of advanced troops are generally unreliable. Air photos and air reports are the only reliable sources of information, and both are dependent on the weather. Airmen also complain that troops in the front line frequently neglect to show their positions when called on. This is due to ignorance and want of training. It is suggested that a time should be fixed at which troops in the front line should always indicate their position, on fine days by flares or mirrors, to air observers, and on dull or cloudy days by shutter or some other signal to F.O.O’s. In active operations a fixed board is dangerous as it is apt to be left on the parados when our troops advance or withdraw.

7. Air Photos and Maps. The air photos are excellent but the issue is so small that they scarcely ever reach units below brigades.
The Army, Corps, Divisions and Brigades all produce sketch maps, all of which vary considerably. A clear and reliable map is wanted, in sufficient numbers to be issued down to platoon commanders. It is of course impossible to issue sufficient maps showing daily changes on this scale. A weekly issue of a 1/10,000 map (on paper and similar in style to the GUILLEMONT Trench Map) in sufficient numbers to allow of all commanders down to battalion commander issuing them with their orders, would meet the case, provided the periodical corrections were issued on a sufficiently large scale to reach battalions and batteries. At present there are too many different maps. Fewer maps and a larger issue would improve matters.

8. Liaison with R.F.C. It would be an advantage if rather closer liaison could be established between the R.F.C. and Divisions. If the observer detailed to reconnoitre a divisional front were in personal touch with the G.S. of the division concerned, particular points about which further information is wanted could be discussed with the observer overnight.
It is understood that duplicate copies of reports to divisions by contact patrols are always dropped at Corps Headquarters. It would save unnecessary congestion of the telephone and telegraph lines if observers could state on their reports when similar reports are dropped at neighbouring divisions.

9. Barrages. All battalions have realised the importance of working close up under the creeping barrage. The simpler the task set to the Artillery, the more effective will be the barrage. The task for the Artillery is simple when the front departure trench of our own troops is parallel to the enemy’s first line trench, and not less than 200 yards from it. An enfilade creeping barrage is most effective, and should be employed whenever possible.
To avoid complications for the Artillery, it is most important after the capture of a village or wood to push troops forward well beyond it; otherwise the trees will interfere with the creeping barrage when next advance is attempted (e.g. it was difficult to arrange a good creeping barrage on the German trenches just E. of LESBOEUFS on October 7th and 8th).
The system of dividing the barrages into a creeping and standing barrage is sound; but the standing barrage must stand on something definite, such as a line of trenches, or a road known to be held. A standing barrage on an indefinite system of defended shell holes, gun-pits, and short lengths of trench, is likely to result in waste of ammunition unless very careful registration can be carried out beforehand. Under these circumstances it is better to have two creeping barrages.
An effective creeping barrage in a wood is very difficult to arrange, and unobserved bombardment by howitzers is frequently very disappointing. In spite of considerable bombardment GRAPHIC Trench in BOULEAUX WOOD was found to be almost untouched. The same cannot be said of IRISH Trench in LEUZE WOOD, which was most effectively and accurately bombarded by the German Artillery. This was partially due to the fact that IRISH Trench was originally dug by the Germans and was no doubt accurately marked on their maps.

10. Liaison with Hy Artillery. The liaison between Heavy Artillery and units of the Division is not sufficiently close. Many batteries of Heavy guns are newly raised and more than one case has occurred of our Heavy Artillery shelling our own trenches. It is quite realised that an occasionally short round is unavoidable, but the delay that occurred in discovering and stopping the offending battery is avoidable. The present procedure in cumbrous when a message from a company commander that his trenches are being shelled by our own guns has to pass through battalion, brigade, Divisional H.Q., thence from the Heavy Artillery Liaison Officer to Corps Heavy Artillery H.Q., and down through similar channels to the offending battery. It is not suggested that Liaison Officers should be multiplied, as trained officers are too valuable. I think, though, that matters would be improved whenever a heavy battery was detailed to bombard any points in the enemy’s line in close proximity to our own trenches, if that battery were placed (temporarily) under the orders of the Field Artillery Group Commander who was responsible for that sector of the front. The battery would then be in close liaison with the infantry brigade, through the Group Liaison Officer, and would have better information regarding, and access to, the best positions from which to observe.

11. Bombing Attacks. Bombing attacks should not be undertaken lightly. An unsuccessful bombing attack is very wasteful of specially trained men. They are frequently necessary in order to gain some tactically important point, and every means must then be employed to ensure the success of the operation. This means obtaining the co-operation of the Artillery, who must know the exact point the bombers are to start from, and the point they are expected to reach, and the operation must be conducted according to the time table. The bombers must work close to the barrage, and must be able to indicate their position to the supporting guns.

Stokes Gunners, Lewis Gunners and Bombers, must be trained to work together. The training of bombers in the Mills Rifle Grenade is most important.

12. Patrols. Considerable ground was made on occasions by patrols, who were ordered to work their way forward and dig themselves in. A definite “objective” for these patrols is most essential; otherwise it is most difficult to arrange a suitable defensive barrage.

13. Digging. Much ground was made at night by digging lines of trenches; and strong points, which were connected up to form a continuous trench the following night. It is of the greatest value to have a definite pattern of trench, and definite patterns of strong points, which R.E., Pioneers and Infantry are all trained to lay out and dig. An adequate supply of tracing tape is necessary.

14. Marking Tracks. In heavily shelled areas it is of importance to decide on and mark our tracks for infantry. A large supply of sign-boards painted white for these tracks should be held in readiness. If these were painted with luminous paint on both sides, one to every 50 to 100 yards would probably be sufficient, and they would be invaluable for working parties and reliefs.

15. Communications. The value of well laddered telephone communications was well demonstrated throughout.

It was impossible to find the necessary working parties to bury cables, to any great extent, but it might be possible to select a German communication trench beforehand (where sufficient exist) to ear-mark this as a cable trench; to lay the cable and fill in the trench at once. Dug-outs could be constructed along this trench which would be used first as Battalion Headquarters and then for Brigade and Divisional Headquarters as the advance progressed.

16. Communication between Coy & Bn Hdqrs. A message thrower, capable of propelling the container of a message 500x to 600x would be invaluable. It is understood that the 6th Division used a Stokes Mortar with a specially prepared projectile for this purpose. The value of such devise cannot be overestimated.

17. Dug-outs. Many German dug-outs in a partially finished condition were found in captured trenches. It would save much time and labour if frames of the standard German pattern were prepared and kept ready for use, so that the work might be continued directly the trenches were captured.

18. Code A. Practically no use was made of Code “A”. It was too complicated under the existing conditions, when the code was changed every day. It is very unlikely that the Germans could decipher the code even if messages were overheard in conditions similar to those that existed in September. If the code were changed not more frequently than once a fortnight it might be **. At present no one has sufficient confidence in the deciphering powers of the recipient to use the code at all.
Hull
Major-General,
Commanding 56th Division.
Head Qrs. 56th Divn.
29th October 1916.

Account of 56 Division Operations September & October 1916.

Account of 56 Division Operations September & October 1916.

School
Stamp of
General Staff
56th Division
No OG 58
SECRET
ACCOUNT OF OPERATIONS CARRIED OUT BY 56th DIVISION
DURING SEPTEMBER and OCTOBER, 1916.
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1. On the 23rd August the 56th Division arrived in the St. RIQUIER Training area and remained there until September 3rd, when the Division moved partly by road and partly by rail to CORBIE.
During the stay of the Division at S. RIQUIER information was received that the Division would take part in offensive operations in co-operation with the Heavy Section Machine Gun Corps, and each Brigade had an opportunity of practicing with the Tanks during its stay at S. RIQUIER.
On the arrival of the Division at CORBIE orders were received for the Division to proceed at once to the forward area with a view to going into the line to relieve the 5th Division on the extreme right of the British front.
On the afternoon of the 5th September the 168th Infantry Brigade proceeded to MARICOURT SIDING and came under the orders of the 5th Division, the remainder of the Division moving up to the CITADEL and HAPPY VALLEY.
Divisional Headquarters opened at the FORKED TREE (L.2.b.0.9.) at 10 a.m. on 6th September.
On the night 6th/7th the 56th Division relieved the 5th Division in the line in accordance with 56th Divisional Order No. 31. Divisional Headquarters was established at BILLON FARM on the morning of the 7th September.

2. On the 6th September a Warning Order was received from the XIVth Corps that it was intended to renew the offensive with the 16th and 56th Divisions on the line T.27.b.3½.4 ½. – 141.7 East of GINCHY. This operation was to be carried in co-operation with the XVth Corps, and was originally intended to take place on the 8th but was postponed to the 9th September.

3. In view of the offensive operations mentioned in the preceding paragraph, 56th Divisional Order No 33 was issued ordering the attack to be carried out by the 169th Infantry Brigade on the right and the 168th Infantry Brigade on the left with the 167th Infantry Brigade in Divisional Reserve.

The 169th Infantry Brigade assembled in LEUZE WOOD and the 168th Infantry Brigade in assembly trenches that were dug just South of LEUZE WOOD – GINCHY ROAD. The hour for the assault was fixed for 4.45 p.m. By 6.0 p.m. the 168th Infantry Brigade were reported to have reached all their objectives also the left battalion (Q.V.R.) of the 169th Infantry Brigade.
The situation as regards the 5th Londons (L.R.B.) on the extreme right was obscure. Information was also received that the left Brigade of the 16th Division had reached its final objective East of GINCHY, but that the right brigade had not made progress and was approximately on the line of the road from T.29.a.1.4. T.20.c.1.5. to T.20.d.3.2. where they connected up with our own troops. It was also reported that there was a fair number of Germans still about T.20 central.
The 169th Infantry Brigade was instructed to clear up the situation on its right flank by putting in its reserve battalion if necessary, and the 168th Infantry Brigade was ordered to put in its reserve battalions from about the Northern corner of LEUZE WOOD on a North Westerly direction so as to surround the Germans in T.20 central by joining up with the left brigade of the 16th Division along the GINCHY – 141.7 road.
In order to carry this out the 168th Brigade ordered the Kensingtons to reinforce the Rangers and the London Scottish to move forward on their left to the line of the GINCHY – 141.7 road.

4. 10th SEPTEMBER. Reports were received during the morning that the left brigade had occupied all its final objectives and that consolidation was proceeding; also that the London Scottish had succeeded in reaching GINCHY – 141.7 and were extending Westward so as to obtain touch with the Guards who had relieved the 16th Division and were supposed to be in position in trenches due East of GINCHY.
The day was misty and no confirmation of our situation could be obtained from the air. The London Scottish reported that they had failed to obtain touch with the Guards about T.14.c. On the right of the divisional front from the Q.W.R’s carried out an attack at 7.0 a.m. with the object of gaining the QUADRILATERAL due East of LEUZE WOOD but this attack failed.

5. On the evening of the 10/11th, arrangements were made for the 167th Infantry Brigade to take over the line held by the 168th Infantry Brigade, and a composite brigade of the 5th Division relieved the 169th Infantry Brigade on the Southern half of the 56th Divisional front. During the morning of the 11th, , reports were received that our troops holding the QUADRILATERAL had been driven out previous to the relief taking place, and that the Northern extremity of our line now rested at T.21.a.4.8.. It also transpired that the London Scottish were not holding the line of the GINCHY-141.7 road but that they had on the previous day apparently lost direction in the mist and were occupying the trench facing North East in T.21.a. This situation was definitely confirmed by air reconnaissance during the afternoon which showed that the QUADRILATERAL in T.15.c. was in German hands. The 167th Bde made several attempts to gain a footing in the QUADRILATERAL but met with no success, chiefly owing to machine gun fire from T.20.b.
As the efforts to surround the Germans in T.20 had not proved successful, Corps decided that an attack against the enemy in this neighbourhood would be carried out as a separate operation by the 6th Division on the 13th instant, and the front held by the Division was consequently altered in accordance with 56th Divnl Order No 35. This operation however, did not meet with success. On the night of the 13/14th the Composite Brigade of the 5th Division was relieved by the 169th Infantry Brigade.

6. Orders were now received from the Corps that the main offensive would be renewed on the 15th instant, and that the main task of the 56th Division on the right would be the clearing of BOULEAUX WOOD and the formation of a protective flank covering all the lines of advance from COMBLES and the valleys running N.E. from COMBLES. The capture of MORVAL and LESBOEUFS was to be undertaken by the 6th and Guards Divisions.

7. Orders and instructions for the attack on the 15th instant were contained in 56th Divisional Orders No 37 and 38 which included instructions for the use of tanks, three of which were allotted to this Division. The 169th Infantry Brigade were again formed up on the right with the 167th Brigade on the left and the 168th Brigade in the rear, with orders to pass through 167th Brigade and to secure the right flank of the 6th Division in its attack on MORVAL. The attack was fixed for 5.50 am. and was carried out according to time-table. As regards the three tanks allotted to the Division, the male tank broke down on its way to the point of assembly owing to engine trouble, and this tank never came into action. One female tank rendezvoused at the S.W. corner of LEUZE WOOD and got as far as T.27.b.4.7., but was unable to proceed any further. The third tank cruised about the Northern side of BOULEAUX WOOD, but finally stuck at T.21.b.2.2.

The attack of the 169th Infantry Brigade failed to make much progress, and the bombing attacks of the 167th Infantry Brigade on the same objective were also held up. The attack of the 167th Infantry Brigade was successful as regards its first objective, but the 7th Middlesex, who were ordered to advance to the second objective were held up in BOULEAUX WOOD by hostile machine gun fire.
All efforts to make further ground were without avail. About 8.30 am. reports from out patrols indicated that the attack of the Division on our left was not progressing favourably. Consequently, orders were sent to the 168th Infantry Brigade that they would not keep to the time-table issued with Divisional Orders, but would await instructions from Divisional H.Q. before attempting to pass through 167th Brigade.
The situation on the evening of the 15th September was, therefore, that the 169th Brigade had only obtained a portion of their objective. They had progressed up the LOOP TRENCH as far as T.27.b.8.8., and they were in possession of the COMBLES TRENCH from LEUZE WOOD down as far as the track at T.27.b.4.4.
The 168th Infantry Brigade were holding the main German line running through BOULEAUX WOOD from T.21.b.2.2. to T.21.d.2.7., and had joined up with the 6th Division on our left on the LEUZE WOOD –MORVAL track at T.21.d.8.8.
The 167th Brigade had pushed forward posts into MIDDLE COPSE at T.21.b.2.8.

8. 16th SEPTEMBER. Was spent in consolidating our present position, and beyond a few isolated bombing attacks, no attack on any large scale was carried out to gain further ground.
Owing to the considerable success attained by the Fourth and Reserve Armies on the 15th instant, further attacks were carried out by the Guards Division and by the XVth Corps against LES BOEUFS and GUEUDECOURT. Attacks were timed to start at 9.25 am.

9. 17th SEPTEMBER. Instructions were received from the Corps that minor operations were to be carried out on the following day with a view to obtaining a satisfactory line for a further advance in the near future. The 56th Division were to capture the line T.21.b.7.3. – MIDDLE COPSE, where touch was to be obtained with the 6th Division. This attack was to be carried out at 5.50 am. on the 18th instant. The objectives of the 56th Division were allotted as follows. 169th Infantry Brigade to complete the capture of the QUADRILATERAL East of LEUZE WOOD. General direction of attack, S.W. to N.E. the 167th Infantry Brigade were to make good the S.E. face of BOULEAUX WOOD up to T.21.b.7.3., and secure a line thence to MIDDLE COPSE inclusive. The general direction of attack was to be from W. to E. the 4th Londons and the 14th London Scottish were attached to the 167th Infantry Brigade for this operation.
Rain started to fall on the evening of the 17th instant, so that the whole country very soon became a mass of mud, and progress over the ground near LEUZE WOOD, which was badly pitted with “crump” holes, became a matter of extreme difficulty.
The result was, that by 5.50 am., the time arranged for the attack, the troops of the left (167th ) Brigade attack had failed to reach their rendezvous. This attack, accordingly never materialised. The right (169th Brigade) attack was carried out under an artillery barrage but it again failed to make good its objectives. The attack was not renewed. The attack of the 6th Division on the QUADRILATERAL was completely successful.
On the evening of the 18th, the 167th Brigade was relieved by the 168th Brigade, while the 169th Brigade continued to hold its present front with orders to consolidate the ground gained and to push down the COMBLES Trench.
A Warning Order had now been received from the XIVth Corps that the general offensive would again be resumed on the 21st September, and that the task of the 56th Division was again to form a protective flank on the line from the N.E. Corner of BOULEAUX WOOD to the Southern end of MORVAL. With this object in view the ground in the vicinity of MIDDLE COPSE was reconnoitred, and instructions were issued for a trench to be dug on the night 19/20th running from the tramline at T.15.d.8.7. through MIDDLE COPSE on to BEEF TRENCH in the vicinity of the Tank at T.21.b.2.2. This trench was successfully dug by the 1/5th Cheshire Regiment and was occupied by troops of the 168th Infantry Brigade on the 20th instant, and on the night of the 20/21st strong points at T.16.c.1.8., T.15.d.9.4., and T.15.d.8.2 were connected up, and this system of trenches was used as assembly trenches for the next offensive.
Information was now received from the Corps that the attack arranged for the 21st inst. had been put off until the 22nd; it was again postponed until the 23rd, and finally postponed until the 25th September.
During this time the Division was busily employed in consolidating the line. On the 23rd instant, a change in the weather occurred and the ground rapidly dried in the fine weather that ensued.
Orders for the attack on the 25th September were issued in 56th Divisional Order No 43, which also contained instructions for the employment of two tanks, and instructions to the Special Brigade R.E., who had orders to create a smoke barrage across the Northern end of BOULEAUX WOOD.
On the 25th September, the task allotted to the 56th Division was the capture of the trench running from the Northern corner of BOULEAUX WOOD up to the tram line at T.16.c.4.6., and the construction of a strong post at the Northern extremity of BOULEAUX WOOD. This was carried out successfully by two battalions of the 168th Infantry Brigade – London Scottish on the left, 4th Londons on the right, who were assembled in RANGER and GROPI Trenches.
The assault of the 168th Brigade was timed seven minutes after zero to allow the troops on our left to come up into line, as we occupied trenches well in advance of the Division on our left. The Royal Fusiliers on the right and the London Scottish on the left advanced to their objectives close under a most efficient enfilade artillery barrage. The Royal Fusiliers reached their objective and cleared the Northern end of BOULEAUX WOOD without great opposition, but they killed a number of Germans who were occupying shell craters on the Western side of the Wood. This battalion suffered from snipers in the Southern part of the Wood, while they were establishing and consolidating the two strong points allotted to them. The London Scottish captured their objective the first German trench running N.E. from the end Corner of BOULEAUX WOOD without much opposition. The Germans were very strongly posted in the railway embankment N. of this trench, and for some time a hot bombing fight took place here. The left assaulting company put out of action and captured four hostile machine guns, but in spite of this suffered losses from the enemy posted in the embankments. This was finally cleared by 1.30 pm. and 80 prisoners were taken and sent back. Meanwhile, the leading company of London Scottish found the trench objective to have a poor field of fire, and also observed Germans driven out of BOULEAUX WOOD by the Royal Fusiliers withdrawing to a second trench running N.E. from the Eastern corner of BOULEAUX WOOD. This was captured, being cleared with the bayonet.
At a low estimate 150 Germans were killed in these operations a certain number escaped in the direction of COMBLES.
Eight prisoners were taken with four machine guns and five medium Minnenwerfer.
The strong points ordered to be made were sited further S.E. to conform with the greater extent of ground captured.
At 5.50 pm. the 2/1st Field Company R.E. and “C” Company 5th Cheshire Regiment were ordered forward to consolidate the ground won. Each section R.E. and each platoon of the pioneers had a definite job allotted to it, and the details of stores required had been worked out, and forward dumps had been formed at BILLON COPSE and at North GROPI Trench.
Touch was obtained with the 5th Division on our left after the embankment was cleared at 1.30 p.m., the 5th Division having exactly obtained the objectives allotted to them. The forward trench captured by the London Scottish was of great value in that it commanded a good view of the valley between MORVAL and COMBLES. Patrols were ordered to move Eastwards but could not at first be pushed far forward owing to our barrage in this valley, but in spite of the barrage our patrols moved several hundred yards East and cleared some dug-outs and captured a few more prisoners.
The Lewis Guns were invaluable in these operations as the dugouts and caves in the embankment were cleared by bombs, the Lewis Guns obtained many good targets as the Germans strived to escape eastwards.
At 10.40 p.m. orders were issued for the blocking of the COMBLES – MORVAL Road to prevent the exit of the garrison of COMBLES. One Officer, 40 O.R. and two Lewis Guns of the London Scottish were moved South along the tram line and established themselves at T.22. Central before dawn. Other posts were established to support them. At dawn our patrols moved down to COMBLES and met French patrols in T.22.d. coming from the Town. From this time on touch was maintained with the French North of COMBLES, and with the 5th Division in the MORVAL – LESBOEUFS Trench line.

10. 26th SEPTEMBER.
During the night of the 25/26th information was received from the French that the enemy proposed to evacuate COMBLES during the night. Brigades were directed to keep constant pressure on the enemy wherever they were in touch, and to patrol actively towards COMBLES from the S.W. N.W. and N. 168th Brigade was directed to block the roads leading from COMBLES towards MORVAL. A heavy barrage was placed across the valley N.E. of COMBLES and the French were asked to continue the barrage to the South, in their own barrage area.
The events of the night can be traced from the following:-
at 12.30 a.m. the enemy was working his end of LOOP TRENCH.
at 3.0 a.m. his bombing blocks opposite our right Bde were still active.
at 2.55 a.m. the enemy evacuated his post behind the derelict tank at T.21.b.2.1. and the 1st Londons had established a post there.
at 3.0 am. patrols from our centre brigade entered the ORCHARDS West of COMBLES.
at 5.30 am. The London Rifle Brigade who had worked down COMBLES TRENCH, obtained touch with the French on the railway.
at 7.0 am. the French occupied the portion of COMBLES south of the railway.
at 7.20 am. reports were received that BOULEAUX WOOD was clear of the enemy.
at 8.0 am. reports were received at 167th Brigade H.Q. that our patrols were in touch with the French along the railway through COMBLES.

It is thought that the bulk of the garrison of COMBLES escaped by the trench running through T.29.a. and b. and N. of FREGICOURT which was not in French hands until early on the 26th. A few small parties who tried to break away north were shot and dispersed by the posts of the London Scottish about T.22. central.
The trophies found in COMBLES were very few –
3 small Minnenwerfer
7small Flammenwerfer
1 large do.
Large quantities of rifles, grenades and ammunition were abandoned there by the enemy.
Progress was made throughout the 26th by all Brigades and the situation on the evening of the 26th was that the 168th and 169th Brigades kept touch with the 5th Division at about T.16.d.9.9. and were holding the line of the road from that point through T.22.d.9.2. Two Companies of the Rangers were situated in SUNKEN ROAD between T.22.b.9.0. and T.22.d.9.0. ready to seize MUTTON TRENCH which runs through T.17.c. and d. as soon as that trench had been dealt with by Tanks. The situation in this trench was that the French were reported at T.23.c.8.6. and that the 5th Division were as far down as T.17.c.8.6. This trench in between, which was strongly wired on its Western side, was strongly held by the Germans.
Instructions were issued for two Tanks to proceed to MORVAL on the afternoon of the 26th with orders to work down in front of MUTTON TRENCH and destroy the wire, and the Rangers who were in SUNKEN ROAD were to occupy the trench, as soon as the Tanks were seen to have accomplished their object. One tank, however, stuck at the southern corner of MORVAL and the second tank stuck near the tram line in T.16.c. so the attack of the Rangers from the SUNKEN ROAD never materialised.

On the 27th inst., another three tanks were allotted to the 20th Division for the purpose of clearing up the situation as regards MUTTON TRENCH. This task was, therefore, handed over to the 20th Division and the 56th Division took no further part.

On the evening of the 27/28th the whole of the front was taken over by troops of the 1st and 2nd French Divisions and the 56th Division withdrew to the MEAULTE – SAND PITS and TREUX area.

11. On the morning of the 29th September, Brigades were disposed as follows:-
167th Inf. Bde In the area of SAND PITS & MORLANCOURT.
168th “ “ “ “ “ VILLE-sur-ANCRE & MORLANCOURT.
169th “ “ “ “ “ MEAULTE.
Divnl. Hdqrs BILLON COPSE

There was a conference of Brigadiers and Commanding Officers at H.Q. 169th Inf. Bde. MEAULTE during the morning.

In the afternoon, the preliminary moves as detailed in 56th Divisional Order No. 48 were carried out, the 167th and 169th Brigades moving up into the forward area.

A warning order had been received from the XIVth Corps stating that the Fourth Army would renew the attack on the line LE TRANSLOY – THILLOY – WARLENCOURT – FAUCOURT on or about October 10th, and to enable this to be carried out successfully it was necessary to gain by the 5th October, certain tactical points from which observation of the enemy’s main positions could be obtained.

During the afternoon Divisional Order No. 48 was issued for the relief on the night of the 30/1st October of the 6th and Guards Divisions in the Sector E. of LESBOEUFS.

12. On the 30th September moves detailed in Divisional Order No. 49 were carried out, and at 6.0 pm. Divnl Hdqrs closed at BILLON COPSE and opened at A.10.b.3.8. on the MARICOURT – BRIQUETERIE Road.
On the night of the 30/1st relief was carried out as ordered without incident, and on the morning of the 1st October Brigades were disposed as follows:-
169th Inf. Bde. holding the right subsector, with H.Q. at GUILLEMONT QUARRY.
167th “ “ holding the left subsector, with H.Q. GUILLEMONT STATION.
168th “ “ in reserve in the area TRONES WOOD – BERNAFAY
WOOD, with two battalions at the CITADEL and the Brigade H.Q. at the BRIQUETERIE.

At 7.0 am., with a view to co-operating with operations further N., a heavy bombardment of the LE TRANSLOY line and other selected points commenced and lasted until 3.15 pm. when the XIVth Corps opened an intense barrage on the enemy’s defences on its front. Under cover of this barrage patrols were pushed out with a view to establishing themselves on a line running approximately parallel to the Divisional front at a distance varying from 500 to 300 yards from it.

The patrols left our trenches and advanced apparently without difficulty. It was not until the evening that the left battalion of the left brigade reported all objectives gained and parties digging in. The right battalion of the left brigade reported RAINY TRENCH occupied by one platoon with posts pushed forward to the Crest – The report about the posts was not correct. The position of the patrols of the right brigade was obscure because although the patrols got forward, it was definitely reported by airmen that the trenches in T.5.c. central were strongly held by the enemy. A further air report showed our occupation of RAINY TRENCH doubtful, but subsequent events proved that it was undoubtedly in our possession.

13. During the night 1/2nd the 169th Infantry Brigade dug a trench parallel to and E. of FOGGY TRENCH, but it was some days before its position could be accurately determined owing to lack of aeroplane photographs.

14. On the morning of the 2nd October, 167th Brigade reported that they were uncertain as to whether RAINY TRENCH was held by them, but they had joined up a line of posts from N.34.b.0.9. to N.34.d.3.3.

During the night 2nd/3rd the right brigade took over 500 yards of the front line from the left brigade so that on the morning of the 3rd the Divisional front was held by 2 Battalions of the right brigade and 1 Battalion of the left brigade. This move was preparatory to relieving the 169th Brigade by the 168th during the night of the 3rd/4th the intention being to reduce the left brigade to a one battalion front in order to avoid the necessity for relief.

15. 3rd October. By this time it had been ascertained definitely that we were in occupation of RAINY TRENCH, and that DEWDROP immediately East of it was strongly held by the enemy.

During the night 3rd/4th the relief of the 169th Brigade by the 168th Brigade was carried out. Before the relief took place, the London Rifle Brigade seized and occupied at 8.30 pm. the length of isolated trench T.5.c. afterwards known as GERMAN TRENCH. This was connected up the same night by a communication trench to the trench immediately West of it (MUGGY TRENCH), and thence to our front line at FOGGY TRENCH.

16. 4th October. GINCHY and the area immediately North of it were frequently shelled throughout the day. A flight of 5 Hostile Aeroplanes over our lines preceded the commencement of the shelling.

On account of the extremely wet weather the renewal of the attack which had been arranged to take place on the 5th was definitely postponed for 48 hours.

17. 5th October. – was uneventful except for the usual shelling of our trench system and valleys to the West of LESBOEUFS.

18. 6th October. – intermittent shelling of our front line trenches by the enemy with occasional heavy bursts of 77 mm. fire. No enemy movement was observed but his snipers were active throughout the day. During the evening, a flight of four enemy aeroplanes reconnoitred over LE TRANSLLOY LESBOEUFS and MORVAL, and were fired on by our anti-aircraft guns and infantry.

From the 1st up to this date a considerable amount of digging had been done by our troops, so as to make a connected trench system which was necessary for launching the attack due to take place on the 7th. This work was greatly impeded by the wet weather which also prevented the taking of aeroplane photographs. Consequently it was exceedingly difficult to obtain correct information as to the position of our own troops and those of the enemy. It was known that the latter was occupying a number of short lengths of trench and gun pits between his main line in front of LE TRANSLOY and our own front system. Reports received from patrols indicated that the whole of RAINBOW and SPECTRUM TRENCHES were wired through; this was contradicted by a special aeroplane reconnaissance. The only definite positions known to be held by the enemy were RAINBOW, SPECTRUM, DEWDROP, Gun Pits in T.5.a. and HAZY TRENCH. It was suspected that DEWDROP and SPECTRUM had been connected by a trench.
The wet weather made living conditions extremely bad, this added to the length of time the troops had been engaged in offensive operations, and the hostile shelling had considerably lowered the fighting efficiency of the Division.

During the night 6th/7th the Divisional front had been readjusted to allow of two battalions of 167th Brigade and three battalions of 168th Brigade being in the front line.

19. 7th October. – shewed improved weather conditions. The task of the 56th Division in the attack which was to take place at 1.45 pm. was divided into two portions, the first objective was the capture of the Southern portion of RAINBOW TRENCH, SPECTRUM, DEWDROP, and HAZY TRENCHES; the second was to push forward a further 500 yards and establish a line within assaulting distance of the enemy’s main TRANSLOY line. This second position was to be strengthened by numerous strong points, communication was to be obtained with the 20th Division on the left, and our right flank slightly advanced to gain and keep touch with the 56th French Division on the right.
A heavy bombardment of the enemy’s position was maintained throughout the morning; this was not to be increased before zero hour for fear of disclosing our intention to attack. The assault under cover of a standing and creeping barrage was so arranged that troops which were farthest away from their objectives started at Zero hour and the remainder at varying times according to the distances to be covered so that all assaulting waves should reach their first objectives simultaneously along the Divisional front. This expedient was necessary owing to the fact that it had been impossible to construct a continuous line parallel to that held by the enemy, and a barrage conforming exactly to our irregular line of departure trenches would have been dangerous.

The first reports received showed that the infantry went forward well, and it was shortly afterwards reported that they had gained their first objective. However, this later proved to be incorrect. The left battalion of the left brigade (7th Middlesex Regt.) having reached its first objective and occupied it after some minutes of hand to hand fighting in which they succeeded in capturing a number of prisoners (70 odd). The right battalion (1st London Regt.) of the left brigade was not so successful although it was repeatedly reported that it had taken SPECTRUM trench. Actually the left company of the 1st London Regt reached its objective in SPECTRUM, bombed up to the left, where it obtained touch with the 7th Middlesex Regiment. Several Germans were killed and a machine gun captured. The right brigade were reported as having captured all their first objectives and at 2.15 pm. observers reported seeing troops move forward to their final objective. The first definite information received was from an aeroplane report at 4.3 pm. which stated that the situation at HAZY TRENCH was doubtful but it was thought that this trench was in our hands. The enemy could be seen in occupation of the gun pits at T.5.a.4.7. The attack on DEWDROP and SPECTRUM TRENCHES had failed, but we had gained and were holding RAINBOW TRENCH. The observer stated that owing to the strong wind that was blowing he was unable to vouch for the accuracy of his report. Shortly afterwards the right brigade reported that the advance of their left battalion was being held up by two machine guns in the gun pits T.5.a.4.7. Reserve companies were pushed forward with a view to assisting the advance, but they in their turn failed to dislodge the enemy from this point. Up to nightfall, no further definite information was received. At 6.45 pm. the following orders were issued: – Right Brigade (i) to push out a company from RAINBOW TRENCH and establish a strong point at N.35.a.3.9. and round up the enemy occupying SPECTRUM and connect up with a post which was reported to have reached N.35.a. central. (ii) to dig a trench 200 yards W. of SPECTRUM from which a further attack could be launched if necessary. One battalion from the reserve brigade (169th Infantry Brigade) was placed at the disposal of the 167th Brigade. 168th Brigade was to ascertain whether or not DEWDROP was held by the enemy. (I) If found empty it was to be occupied and posts established to connect between N.35.a. central and HAZY TRENCH. The battalion from the reserve brigade which had been sent up earlier could be used for this purpose. (II) If DEWDROP was held by the enemy a new trench was to be dug 200 yards to the West to admit of bombardment should a new attack be launched. The organisation of a fresh attack was to depend on the reports received from the 168th Brigade as to whether DEWDROP was held by the Germans.
On receipt of information as to the position of the right flank of the 20th Division our left brigade was ordered to obtain touch with it about the Southern end of MISTY TRENCH.

About 7.30 pm. a report was received that we had a footing in the Northern end of SPECTRUM TRENCH where a machine gun had been captured and further progress was being made by bombing.

At 9.10 pm. a message was received stating that the French on our right had fallen back to their line of departure, that the right battalion of the right brigade had been counter-attacked and forced to withdraw from HAZY TRENCH, and the gun pits in T.5.a. central to the trenches from which they had delivered their assault in the morning. By this hour it was definitely ascertained that the Germans were in occupation of DEWDROP.

20. On receipt of instructions from Corps Headquarters orders were issued for the attack to be renewed on HAZY, DEWDROP and that portion of SPECTRUM not in our hands on the morning of the 8th . The night which was comparatively quiet was spent in digging the necessary trenches and re-organising troops for the attack on the forthcoming day.

Owing to our proximity to the objective it was necessary to withdraw from the Northern end of SPECTRUM TRENCH and from RAINY TRENCH so as to allow of the bombardment of SPECTRUM and DEWDROP Trenches.

21. To enable the attack to be carried out, two battalions of the reserve brigade were placed at the disposal of 168th Brigade and one battalion at the disposal of 167th Brigade. These were to be employed either for carrying out the attack or for assisting in the digging of the necessary trenches. As it was unavoidable that the order should be issued very late at night, great difficulty was experienced in getting the troops into position and it was not until daylight that the last battalion reached its assembly trenches. Arrangements for the bombardment and the artillery support were similar to those of the previous day except as regards the barrage. On the 7th RAINY TRENCH was occupied by our troops, and the barrage on DEWDROP was provided by Stokes Mortars. On the 8th in order to allow the artillery barrage to reach DEWDROP, RAINY TRENCH had to be evacuated. Several adjustments of the barrage had to be made, as many batteries owing to the short range were unable to clear LESBOEUFS and hit DEWDROP TRENCH. This readjustment of lines of fire may have been responsible for the thinness of the barrage on the 8th. The assaulting troops, however, left their assembly trenches at Zero hour irrespective of the distances from their objectives. The bombardment by the heavy artillery was not successful, chiefly owing to the difficulty of observation caused by the weather conditions, and many shells were reported to be falling very short. Shortly after Zero a report from an F.O.O. stated that our infantry were advancing along our whole front and that the enemy could be seen leaving their trenches and running back over the rise. This, however, was not the case and at 3.55 pm. a message was received from the left brigade which stated that their attack had been held up by heavy German barrage and machine gun fire and had definitely failed. On the other hand, the left battalion of the right brigade were reported to be progressing favourably. No definite reports were received as to progress of the right and centre battalions of the right brigade until later in the afternoon when a report was received from a wounded officer of the battalion on the extreme right that he had seen his company go through the gun pits in T.5.a. central and enter HAZY TRENCH. At this time reports from wounded tended to show that the extreme right had got to its final objective. No definite news, however, was to hand as regards DEWDROP TRENCH until a message was received that the situation of the right battalion as discovered by the personal reconnaissance of the Commanding Officer was as follows:- His battalion were digging in just West of HAZY TRENCH which was held by the Germans. His left was in touch with the centre battalion about T.5.a.5.9. and his right at T.5.a.7.3. The centre battalion appeared to be East of DEWDROP. The position of the French on the right was unknown.

22. 9th October. At 12.10 am. the O.C. of the centre battalion returned from personal reconnaissance and reported that DEWDROP and RAINY TRENCHES were held by the enemy and that his battalion was back at its departure line having been heavily counter-attacked at dusk from the direction of DEWDROP. It was also ascertained that the same counter-attack succeeded in dislodging the right battalion which appeared to have been digging in in prolongation of RAINY TRENCH, in a Southerly direction, bringing back with them 17 prisoners and a machine gun.

On the morning of the 9th the situation was that with the exception of our gains in SPECTRUM trench, we were back in our departure line, RAINY TRENCH apparently having been occupied by the enemy during our bombardment of the 8th.

During the early hours of the morning 167th Brigade had succeeded in digging a continuation of WINDY TRENCH for several hundred yards in a S.E. direction thus forming a more or less continuous line along the Divisional front.

23. During the night of the 9th/10th the Division was relieved in the line by the 4th Division and withdrawn to the back area.
C Hull
Major-General,
Commanding 56th Division.
Head Qrs. 56th Divn.
29th October, 1916.

56 Division casualties June 14 to October 1916.

56 Division casualties June 14 to October 1916.

CASUALTIES.

PERIOD DIED OF WOUNDS KILLED WOUNDED MISSING TOTALS
Off O.Rs. Off O.Rs. Off O.Rs. Off O.Rs. Off O.Rs.
JUNE 14th to JUNE 30th 1916
JULY 1st to JULY 4th 1916
JULY 5th to AUGUST 20th 1916
SEPTEMBER 6th to OCTOBER11th ’16 1
1

8 –
3
1

2 3
30
3

81 66
347
83

1148 23
87
20

258 405
2277
412

4943 –
40
1

30 26
1497
22

1680 27
158
24

377 497
4124
518

7773
TOTALS 10 6 117 1644 388 8037 71 3225 586 12912

53 Infantry Brigade scheme of attack Poelcappelle 16 October 1917

53 Infantry Brigade scheme of attack Poelcappelle 16 October 1917

SECRET.
Scheme of attack on HELLES HO, – THE BREWERY, – NOBLES FM. –MEUNIER HO. –TRACAS FM.
———————————————————————————-
Phase I (Zero) attack on HELLES HO & THE BREWERY.
8th Norfolk R. 2 Cos & 2 Pns will form up on the approximate line V.19.b.35.90. – V.13.d.9.6. and will capture that portion of POELCAPPELLE still in the enemy’s hands including the BREWERY and S.Ps V.20a.4.5. & 7.7.
1 Co will form up on the approximate line V.14.c.0.4. – V.14.c.0.9. 1 Pn of this Co will capture the enemy trench from V.14.c.3.5. to 2.8.
2 Pns less 1 L.G. Sec will move N. of REQUETE round the swamp and attack the HELLES HO Group from the North.
2 Pns will be in Bn. Reserve.
Phase II (Zero +4) attack on MEUNIER HO & NOBLES FM.
10th Essex R. 1 Co. plus 2 Pns will form up on the approximate line V.20.a.0.3. – 5.8.
1 Co will capture MEUNIER HO & Ridge.
2 Pns will capture S.Ps V.20.a.1.1. & 20.c.35.99.
1 Co will form up on the approximate line V.20.a.8.8. – V.14.c.65.15.and capture the NOBLES FM area. Smoke barrage to be put on to cover our forming up.
Phase III (Zero +5) attack on TRACAS FM & BEEK HOUSES.
1 Co & 2 Pns 10th Essex R. will form up on the approximate line V.20.c.2.9. – 20.c.7.4. and will attack BEEK HOUSES and TRACAS FM from the N.W.
2. During Phase I standing barrages will be required as follows –
NOBLES FM Pt V.20.b.3.8. – MEUNIER HO – PAPA FM – CAMERON HO (in case of M.G. barrage).
During Phase II standing barrages will be required as follows –
PAPA FM.
CAMERON HO
TRACAS FM
BEEK HOUSES

During Phase III standing barrages will be required as follows –
CAMERON HO
PAPA FM & HINTON FM.
MORAY HO
3. the present front line will be held very lightly by troops of the 8th Suffolk R. or 6th R. Berks. R.
As soon as all objectives have been gained these troops will be re-organized & formed into a Reserve.

H.W. Higginson,
Brig Gen.
Comg 53rd Inf. Bde.
16.10.17.

A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 16 October 1917.

A.A. Laporte Payne letter to Muriel 16 October 1917.

 

B.E.F.

16 ? October 1917

 

My darling,

 

Twenty minutes ago I returned to my shanty, where I am living alone again. – Since I wrote to you last I have left Headquarters and have been away down south to the town or rather what was a town, and I have just returned; to find a lovely pile of correspondence – two dear letters from you and some delightful sweets – and the book.  Thank you so much dearest – but you must stop you are sending much too much in the way of letters and parcels – you know you spoil me dreadfully.

 

I have an idea that to-day must be the 16th.  I am not sure, and I have no one to ask.  Everybody was in bed when I got back.  I had dinner in a place beginning with a D and then came back in a car with 2 R.N.A.S. fellows.  Some of those fellows can drive – especially after a good dinner.

 

It is blowing hard and raining again. I should like to know how many days in the year it rained.

 

A noise has worried me at times here. It is very faint and far away, but seems to get into my head.  At first I did not know whether it was only in my head or not.  It sounds like rubbing a wet finger on a tumbler only much shorter in length.  It is a bell buoy some distance away. Eureka! But it is very monotonous.

 

Did not ‘No Man’s Land’ come out in some magazine. I have been looking through its pages and I am sure I have read ‘The Man Traps’ and ‘Morphia’ somewhere else.  Did you read it all?  It is extraordinarily clever I think.  Thank you for allowing me to keep the ‘Student in Arms’ for a time.  I want to lend it to one or two fellows.  You had better buy yourself a new copy and put it on my book bill.  I hope you are keeping an account of the books you are sending me, because if you don’t I shall feel bound to send them back in good condition which I cannot always guarantee.

 

Why are you so afraid of my laughing at you? Why should you think that I looked annoyed at something or another.  I can’t think what puts all these things into your head.  It must be my fault for I must have given you a very wrong impression.  I am very sorry and I must try and mend my ways.  Perhaps I shall learn in time.

 

What a long bike ride you had with Evelyn. I wish I could have been there too.  You must be having much better weather than we are to get a bike ride nowadays.

 

Mrs Cross does not seem to be at all well lately – what with headaches and neuralgia – please give her my love & tell her she must get better forthwith. I am very sorry for her.

 

You are keeping quite fit and well – all spots gone – I hope. How is Mr Cross? – still carrying on at the station.

 

I remember hearing Jane Harrison – Fellow of Newnham, lecture at Cambridge and I have read some of her articles – she had a fight once with Gordon Selwyn – fellow of Corpus and now Warden of Radley – a literary fight I mean – and the blows were in pamphlet form.  Don’t believe all you read in Jane Harrison by a long way.

 

In your next letter you might give me Manning’s initials (the Rector of High Barnet) if you don’t mind.

 

Maude does not seem to want to return home again. It looks as if she never would get away.

 

If I could rely on you to send me the bill and if it were not troubling you too much I should ask you to send me out the Times Literary Supplement and the Bookman (monthly I think). If you do please let me know how much it is with the copies or else I shall return them unread.  If you should see any good articles in the Nineteenth Century, the Hibbert Journal, or the Quest when you are looking at a bookstall I should be glad of any such.  See how I rely on you and how much I am worrying you!  As the winter comes on and the evenings are long and dreary I must have something to read, and novels usually are too much for me.

 

Have you another photo of yourself – the one I like best – to keep for me when I return – your photos are getting so dirty here but they will do for active service – everything gets filthy in no time.

 

I read the Political Article in Blackwoods this month and thought it was very good. Do you read the magazine every month?

 

I must dry up now or I shall be asking you to do something else and you will be so annoyed with me.

 

So glad to hear that Betsy is not being choked with smoke any more.

 

Much love to you my darling,

& many kisses

Ever your

Arch; Divl.

H.E. WITTY Oct 16

H.E. WITTY Oct 16

18th SIEGE BATTERY R.G.A.

  1. Section

 

1st October 1916.  Sunday.  Most energetic day – Left at 7.30 for TRONES WOOD to dig dug-outs for the H.Q. worked hard until 6 p.m. and then had a six mile walk.  Well fagged out ere camp was reached.  Grim relics in TRONES WOOD of the fight.  English and German dead mixed up.  Young English Officer lying there.  Pockets rifled and buttons and adornments taken away.  Went to pick up a German boot & found a leg inside it.  Whew!!!!  Much fighting in the air and intense artillery duels continuing. NO MAIL.

 

2nd October 1916.  Monday.  A miserable wet day.  In the office in the morning and part of the afternoon.  Spent the rest of the day in the “bed” reading.  Letters R. & Gladys.  ANS.

 

3rd October 1916.  Tuesday.  Nothing doing yesterday for me.  Working parties at Mountauban and Trones Wood.  Very dull and showery. NO MAIL.  New Biscuits have arrived.

 

4th October 1916.  Wednesday.  Turned out 6.30 a.m. and went to Flash to remove camp.  Very hard work.  Finished 4 p.m.  Heavy rain in the morning.  Cleared in afternoon.  Harper’s M.D. (at Trones Wood). NO MAIL.

 

5th October 1916.  Thursday.  In the office.  Windy but no rain.  In the office.  Rumours of a move.  Nothing doing.  All packed up ready for going.  No Mail.  Interesting conversation with French soldier.

 

6th October 1916.  Friday.  Parades 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. for inspection purposes.  Busy in the office.  Word from Rouen that ‘Barney’ was en route for Blighty.  Fine day again.  Left X returned to camp in Fricourt.  Scarbro’ Post from Bee re trawlers.

 

7th October 1916. Saturday.  Left the Loop at 3.30 p.m. after an idle day.  After many trials reached MEAULTE (4 miles) at 7 p.m. NO MAIL.  French Officer gives us entertainment on Badgy’s Bugle and trumpet.  Fine day but wet night.  Stayed here over night.

 

8th October 1916.  Sunday.  Heavy rain.  Still in Meaulte.  Saw 3 guns captured from Germans.  Apparently Belgian guns manufactured in Liege.  Back to Fricourt again and installed in another German dug-out.  Apparently this one has been some Headquarters as it has been fitted up with electric light, heating etc.  A chute provides for ventilation.  Previous occupant has left his name for his successors.  E. Einderits.  I wonder what his fate has been.  Perhaps the shell which broke in the corner has his name on it.  Saw some prisoners today working at Meaulte, two of whom spoke English well.  One thought our ‘tanks’ equalled their Zepps in “Frightfulness”.  Splendid Mail.  Letters & Books (R.).  letter and papers (Mother).  Letters Bee, Douglas, Mrs. Smith, N.T. and Scott.  To be answered tomorrow.

 

9th October 1916.  Monday.  Tween found dead in bed this a.m.  Verdict & cause at present unknown.  Fine day.  Kelly at O.P.  meet Bottrill again.  On telephone.  Ans yesterday’s correspondence.  NO MAIL.  Reported capture of Bapaume.

 

10th October 1916.  Tuesday.  On telephone line in morning – saw Hun sniper’s post – NO MAIL. – Very little doing.  On night duty.  Fine day.  Saw Maj. About speaking to Colonel re Commission.

 

11th October 1916.  Wednesday.  On telephone otherwise nothing doing.  4 on working parties.  Letter R. and G. and shirts from Gamages.  ANS.  Fine day.  Warned for O.P.

 

12th October 1916.  Thursday.  Turned out at 4.30 a.m. for O.P.  Motored to BAZENTIN- LE-GRAND and walked to O.P. near FLERS via HIGH WOOD.  Had a splendid view of GOURDECOURT, EAUCOURT, LE SARS, WARLIENCOURT.  BAPAUME about 6000 yds.  On a clear day time by clock easily distinguished.  When shall we get it?  Saw the boys attack at 2 p.m. after a terrible bombardment – not a casualty as far as German front line.  Amazed at the splendid way the boys walked across.  The treatment of a German who rushed out of his trench.  Am wondering what today’s result is.  Returned 6 p.m.  Saw many wounded, 80 prisoners passed the O.P.  NO MAIL.  Pay up.

 

13th October 1916.  Friday.  On telephone.  Fine day.  80 prisoners passed today.  No report of yesterday.  Arrival of 44 Siege and 53 Siege.  Good Mail.  Letters Marshall, Kathie, R. (from Crossgates) Frank, M, J.B. (R.).  Books (N.T.) ANS.  Had a bath underground!!

 

14th October 1916.  Saturday.  On duty.  On telephone.  Gill at O.P.  Fine day.  Prisoners passing.  O.C. told that Colonel intended to recommend me for a commission in R.E. Signals.  Wait & see.  Letters Mag, Mother, N.J. & Alice.  Also pd from Home.  Ans.

 

15th October 1916.  Sunday.  On telephone – very cold – issue of winter blankets – Letters R. and Ma.  Ans.  Reported attack – no news.

 

16th October 1916.  Monday.  Very little doing – Rare sight today.  German aeroplane over the camp.  Shells drop in the vicinity.  Gun to go to Havre again.  Fine day tho’ chilly.  Letter from Mr Taylor.  ANS.  Calley at O.P.  intensely cold.

 

17th October 1916.  Tuesday.  Very unsatisfactory day.  On duty 3 to 6 a.m. and stayed in bed until 11 a.m.  had a walk up to left X in afternoon.  Quaker Oats for supper and bed at 7.0 p.m.  on duty again midnight to find a pouring rain.  Much warmer.  Letter R. to be answered later.

 

18th October 1916.   Wednesday.  On telephone otherwise very little doing.  Wet day and cold.  Had a tour of the various canteens.  ANZAC’s jolly good.  NO MAIL.  Winter holder downwards reverted as formation to be made in Group.

 

 

19th October 1916.  Thursday.  On telephone in the morning.  Wire from 4th Army that we had to move to HAVRE.  Modified to the extent that only artificers and guard were to accompany guns.  Much tribulation.  exceedingly cold wet miserable day.  Shippen at O.P.  Moved into another dug-out.  NO MAIL.

 

20th October 1916.  Friday.  Frightfully cold this morning when I went on duty at 3 a.m. Ugh!!!  Stayed in bed until 11 a.m. had a stroll to O.P.F.  Heavy German counterattacks fail.  Glorious clear day.  Enemy aircraft active – two brought down in view of Fricourt.  Letters Mother and G.  ANS. tonight when on duty.

 

21st October 1916.  Saturday.  On telephone.  Another intensely cold day.  Reported success near Warlencourt.  Rumours of leave!!  Improved and made most comfortable our little dug-out.  (in the Somme).  Fitted up a sleeping bag on my bed.  Hope it is a success.  Spent last night rubbing myself to help the circulation.  Finished Mrs. Firth-Brassey (Jolly good). Mail.  Letters R., N.T., F.Aus & Mr. Carman.  ANS.

 

22nd October 1916.  Sunday.  On telephone 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.  Very cold.  My sleeping bag well tested last night proved a perfect success.  Mr. Mallins joins 48 Siege on temporary duty. Reading ‘Hocken & Hunker’ (Q) NO MAIL. Caudlin at LE SARS O.P.  Spent day ratting and playing football and then suddenly discovered it was Sunday.  Shall I ever become accustomed to the old fashioned Sunday?

 

23rd October 1916.  Monday.  On telephone last night and during the day.  Cold slightly modified.  Inspection of gas helmets, field dressings etc. by Major Read.  “Profit & Loss” by Oxenham.  Very good. Mail up.  Pcl (home).  Letters Miss R., Scott, Mr. Carter.  Ans.

 

24th October 1916.  Tuesday.  On telephone during early morning – rain sets in with an appreciable fall in the temperature.  Spent the afternoon in bed.  As nothing doing inclement weather stopping operations.  Letter from Humberstone.  Ans.  List of first 10 men for leave sent in to H.Q.  Will it materialise?  Reading “At the Foot of the Rainbow”.  Bott to move to A.J. in BAZENTIN WOOD.

 

25th October 1916.  Wednesday.  Telephone midnight onwards.  In bed part of morning.  Spent afternoon reading “Queed” (Harrison).  Exceedingly wet.  Miserable day.  On duty 6-9 (Pay day).  Letter R. Ans.  Rumours of an early move forward.

 

26th October 1916.  Thursday.  On telephone 9 to 12 – and also at midnight onwards – Weather showery and chilly.  ‘Rumour of Leave’ still in atmosphere but no materialisation at present.  Finished “Queed” absolutely it.  Reading “8days” (Forrest).  Things very quiet on the whole. NO MAIL.

 

27th October 1916.  Friday.  Midnight to 3 a.m.  rather cold wet and miserable.  On telephone 5 – 9 tonight.  Very little doing owing to inclement weather. NO MAIL. Spent morning in bed!  Only thing to pass the time.

 

 

28th October 1916.  Saturday.  On telephone 6 hrs as usual.  Clear cold windy day – Excellently for drying.  Working party goes to BAZENTIN WOOD for railway construction.  Obtained a new tunic from Q.M.S. NO MAIL.  Shell drops in 10 Siege Officers’ Mess.  2 killed (Lt. Reed over in 18 and Major of 21st Heavies who was a guest).  3 wounded and O.C. suffering from severe shell shock.

 

29th October 1916.  Sunday.  On working party constructing light railways in BAZENTIN-LE-GRAND for the transport of amn direct to batteries.  Heavy rain and a rotten task – finished at 3 p.m. and arrived in camp 4.15.  good mail.  Letters R., Ma, Home, Kathie, Gilbert (pc) and Marshall.  ANS.

 

30th October 1916.  Monday.  Walked to O.P. via BAZENTIN-LE-PETIT & HIGH.  Awful day of rain and mud (up to the knees).  Had a good view of  BAPAUME to the left of which easily distinguished Germans walked along the main road.  Three shells dropped in vicinity of O.P. one to left, one to right and one behind in a radius of 20 yds.  Ugh!!  Walked as far as CONTALMAISON on return journey where was met by car.  Met young Bennett in BAZENTIN-LE-GRAND – looked well with his three stripes.  Car stuck on nearing FRICOURT and we had to walk to bty.  Change.  A wash and tea made a new man of me.  I have grave doubts that B– will fall this winter.  The Butte looks as impregnable as ever.  Letter from N.T.  ANS.

 

31st October 1916.  Tuesday.  Collapse of dug-out entrance 3 a.m.  Had to dig ourselves out removing about a ton of earth.  Repairing the damage in the morning.  On telephone in afternoon.  At H.Q. in evening.  Visit of enemy planes tonight bomb dropping.  Destruction of lorries and A.S.C. canteen. NO MAIL.