George Ryan’s letter home dated 6 April 1917

George Ryan’s letter home dated 6 April 1917


Scouts Section,

1/9th Middlesex Regt



6 Apl 1917


Dear Ma,


I have written to Mr Walker this week (about time too, I expect you’ll think) & asked him to send you what remains to my credit at the office, so that the monthly amounts will dis-continue. Please invest it in War Loan – you will know best which Stock – & let me know the particulars.


To-day, being Good Friday, we should have had a Church Parade but we’ve got a holiday instead, owing to the outbreak of measles.


Hoping you are all well &with best love & kisses from

Your loving son



42nd Inf. Bde. Order 4 April 1917

V – W – X – Y – Z


42nd Inf. Bde.

S6/117 B.M.


5th Oxf & Bucks L.I.

5th Shrops L.I.

9th K.R.Rif.C.

9th Rif Brig.

42nd Machine Gun Company.

42nd Trench Mortar Battery.

No. V Group R.F.A.


  1. W day will be April 5thY             do           7th
  2. Z             do         8th
  3. X             do          6th
  4. The Artillery bombardment will be continuous on V, W, X and Y days, except for pauses given in paras 3 and 4.
  5. Pauses will take place during the bombardment on the whole Army front for the purpose of photography:-W day             10 a.m. – 10.30 a.m.             3 p.m. – 3.30 p.m.
  6. X day              10.30 a.m. – 11 a.m.            3 p.m. – 3.30 p.m.
  7. V day              11.30 a.m. – 12 noon          4.30 p.m. – 5 p.m.
  8. During the preparatory bombardment the Brigade will send out patrols, each under an officer, at stated times during each period of 24 hours to investigate state of enemy wire and strength of enemy in his trenches. The G.O.C. Brigade will decide on the time at which these patrols will go out during each period of 24 hours, and points which they will reconnoitre.
  9. All patrol reports will be sent by Special D.R. to Brigade Headquarters as soon as they have been written and seen by the Commanding Officer, who will state in a covering letter the degree of accuracy which he considers that each report possesses.
  10. The work of these patrols is of great importance, more especially regarding the examination of enemy wire and the accuracy of their reports on its condition. Capt,42nd Inf. Bde.A Patrol under 2/Lt. Anderson capture and *** Machine G un.4th April 1917
  11. NOTE.
  12. Bde Major,
  13. B . Taget
  14. Officers in charge of patrols should be informed that the Offensives has now begun, and that all work in connection with it is of the highest importance, more especially as regards details such as preparatory patrolling.

56 Division Instruction re Tanks 2 April 1917

56 Division Instruction re Tanks 2 April 1917


SECRET                                                                                            56TH Divn. No G.A. 125



  1. Sixteen Tanks of “D” Battalion, 1st Brigade, Heavy Branch M.G. Corps will work with VII Corps. Headquarters “D” Battalion will be in ARRAS about G.21.a. (CONVENT de NOTRE DAME).
  2. Headquarters 1st Brigade, Heavy Branch M.G. Corps will be at MONTENESCOURT.
  3. 1 Section (4 Tanks) will be allotted to the 56th Division.
  4. Each half Section (2 Tanks) will be accompanied by 1 Section of Infantry to assist them in their advance where required. These Sections will be furnished by 169th Infantry Brigade.
  5. These two Sections of Infantry will no longer be required once the BLUE LINE has been reached.
  6. The 2 Section Commanders will meet Lieut. BELL (O.C. Section of Tanks working with the Division) at Divisional Headquarters at 10.45 a.m. on April 4th.
  7. The two Infantry Sections will undergo a preliminary training with the Heavy Branch Machine Gun Company.
  8. Details re attachment will be notified later.
  9. The C.R.E. will detail an Officer to meet Lieut. BELL at 11 a.m. on 4th April at Divisional Headquarters, and will be prepared to attach this Officer and 3 R.E. N.C.O.s to “D” Battalion, should their services be required.
  10. A Map is attached shewing approximately the Tank objectives and direction of routes to them.Dotted GREEN lines show lines of advance to 2nd objective.
  11. Continuous GREEN Lines show lines of advance to 1st objective.
  12. After the capture of the BLUE LINE the Tanks will act in accordance with the orders issued to them direct by VII Corps.
  13. If Zero is at dawn, Tanks will be able to move up during Z – 1/Z night to points as close up to our Front Line as is consistent with the safety of the Infantry.
  14. Tanks will move on to the BLUE LINE following up the leading infantry and will not proceed any great distance in front of them, otherwise the Infantry will not be in a position to take advantage of the opportunities that the Tanks may create.
  1. Pakenham

Lieut-Colonel, General Staff.

Head Qrs. 56th Divn. 2nd April 1917.    P.T.O.


Copies to –

167th Infantry  Brigade.                                                       56th Div Train

168th Infantry Brigade.                                                        Div. M.G. Officer.

169th Infantry Brigade.                                                        Div. Gas Officer

VII Corps                                                                                D.A.D.O.S.

“   ”    Artillery.                                                                     4th Aust. Div. Supply Column.

“   ”   Heavy Artillery                                                          No. 2 Ammn. Sub Park.

“   ”   M.G. Officer                                                              G.O.C.

14th Division                                                                          A.D.C.

30th Division.                                                                         A.D.M.S.

C.R.A.                                                                                                “Q”

C.R.E.                                                                                                War Diary.

1/5th Cheshire Regt.                                                                        File


193rd Div. M.G. Coy.

56th Div. Signals.

1st Bde. H.B. M.G. Corps.

“D” Battalion

Lieut. BELL c/o “D” Battalion.




Preliminary Instructions for the Offensive NO. 7. 2 April 1917



42nd Inf. Bde.

S 6/105 B.M.






  1. PRELIMINARY MOVES. As far as is known at the present the following will be the locations and movements of Units on “W to Z Days”.                                                ) In the Trenches) behind the Old Support Line G.35.d.10.95.5th Oxf & Bucks L.I.              ) In DUNEDIN CAVE.5th Shrops L.I.                       ) DAINVILLE. Ditto Y Day 42nd T.M. Battery                   ) and partly in ARRAS.‘Y’ Day                                                ) In the Trenches.                                                ) the Old Support Line G.35..10.95.                                                ) Battalion H.Q. in HOP ALLEY.                                                ) Three Companies in Old Reserve Line in                                                 )                                          ( dugouts at M.5.b.65.60.                                                )                                          ( 9th K.R.R.C. Battn H.Q. 42nd T.M. Battery                   ) and partly in ARRAS.Night of ‘Y/Z’) In Assembly Position in Advance of Old5th Oxf & Bucks L.I.  ) Battalion H.Q. in the Old German Front Line                                    9th K.R.Rif.C.             ) German Front Line System.) Line System M.5.b.83.95.                                    ) In Old German Front Line System.                                    )System at G.35.d.50.05                                    ) In our Old Firing & Support Lines. And Reserve Lines.                                    ) 2 Companies in Old Reserve Line.                                    ) the Old Support Line G.35.d.10.95.                                    ) In their Assembly Position in the Old German42nd M.G. Coy           )Reserve Guns and Teams in Dugouts in Old German                                    )H.Q. Company in dugout in the Old German Front                                     ) West of HALIFAX                                    ) Factory G.34.b.95.70.                                    ) In the Factory G.34.b.95.70. on W. X. Y and ZBrigade H.Q.             ) A Staff Officer will be in the Command Post in                                    ) Y and Z Days.
  2.                                     ) Old German Second Line about M.5.b.55.90. on
  3.                                     ) Days
  4. 42nd T.M. Bty             ) H.Q. of Battery at Advanced Brigade H.Q. in the
  5.                                     ) In dugouts in our Old Reserve Line immediately
  6.                                     )Line System to be allotted later.
  7.                                     ) Front Line.
  8.                                     )Front Line System.
  9.                                     )Battalion H.Q. in HUNTER STREET behind
  10. 9th Rif Brig                 ) 2 Companies in Firing & Support Line.
  11. 5th Shrops L.I.          ) Battalion H.Q. in Old German Front Line
  12.                                     ) Battalion H.Q. in the Old German Front
  13.                                     ) In Assembly Position in Advance of Old
  14.                                     ) System M.5.b.65.60.
  15.                                     ) German Front Line System.
  16. 42nd M.G. Company             ) Partly in the Trenches
  17. 9th K.R.Rif.C.                         )                                        ( in dugouts at M.5.b.63.95.
  18.                                                 ) In DUNEDIN CAVE.     (
  19. 5th Oxf & Bucks L.I.              )                                          ( 5th O.L.I Battn H.Q.
  20.                                            ) dugouts between HOOGE and HUNTER STREET.
  21. 5th Shrops L.I.                       ) One Company in dugouts in Old Support Line.
  22. 9th Rif Bde                             ) Battalion H.Q. in HUNTER STREET behind
  23. 42nd M.G. Company             ) Partly in the Trenches
  24. 9th K.R.Rif.C.                         ) DUNEDIN CAVE
  25. 9th Rif Brig.                            ) Battalion H.Q. in HUNTER STREET
  26. W and X Days.
  27. DISTINGUISHING BADGES.The following distinguishing badges will be worn by all Battalions and will be put on forthwith.Necessary material has been issued from Brigade H.Q.RUNNERS……………………..RED.MOPPERS UP…………………WHITE.
  28. CARRIERS…………………….YELLOW.
  29. Regtl & Coy SIGNALLERS …..BLUE.
  30. SCOUTS……………..………….GREEN.
  31. They will be sewn on round the sleeve of the left arm between the elbow and the shoulder.
  32. WATER.
  1. Water in Tanks will be stored in the Trenches as follows, to enable every man to have a full water bottle at ZERO. In reckoning the amount required, the allowance of ONE gallon for FOUR men has been made.
  1. TWO EIGHTY FIVE gallon tanks in the Old German Front Line one on either side of the ARRAS WAY, about G.35.d.50.05. and G.35.d.65.15.
  2. The 42nd Trench Mortar Battery and the 42nd Machine Gun Company will fill water Bottles from these on Y/Z night. The remainder will form a reserve for use in case other tanks get knocked out.
  3. TWO SIXTY gallon tanks one on either side of the ARRAS WAY in Patrol Trench about G.35.d.15.45. and TWO SIXTY gallon tanks one on either side of the ARRAS WAY in Support Line about G.35.c.88.72. and G.35.d.20.55.
  4. These are reserved for the sole use of the 5th Shrops L.I. who will fill water bottles from them on Y/Z night.
  5. ONE EIGHTY FIVE gallon tank in the A.D.S. in the shaft off HUNTER STREET about G.35.d.05.85.
  6. These are reserved for the wounded.
  7. FOUR SIXTY gallon tanks in the Reserve Line, two on either side of the ARRAS WAY about G.35.a.50.25. and G.35.a.60.30.
  8. These are reserved for the sole use of the 9th Rif Brig. who will fill water bottles from them on Y/Z night.
  9. ONE FOUR HUNDRED gallon tank at Advanced Brigade H.Q. in the Factory at G.34.b.95.70.Water will not be drawn from here without sanction from Brigade H.Q.
  10. This is a reserve for use as required.
  11. The 5th Oxf & Bucks L.I. and the 9th K.R.Rif.C. will fill their water bottles from the water supply in DUNEDIN CAVE, before leaving the CAVES on Y/Z night to occupy their positions of Assembly and the men should not be allowed to drink from their water Bottles again till after ZERO.
  12. These two Battalions may make use of the reserve supply of water (a) above in case of emergency, but only on the authority of the O.C. Battalion who will inform Brigade H.Q. without delay, stating approximately amount drawn from (a) for his Battalion.
  1. In addition to the water supply in Tanks there will be 350 500 petrol tins each holding 2 gallons, distributed as follows:-
  1. 100 150 tins at the Advance Brigade Dump in the ARRAS WAY about M.6.a.00.35.
  2. These will be issued to Units on the personal or written demand of the O.C. any Unit, only by the N.C.O. in charge of this Dump after the Assault, and in a fair proportion to each Unit.
  3. 100 tins at Advanced Brigade H.Q. in the Factory at G.34.b.95.70.
  4. 250 tins at the Transport Camp in the CITADEL to be sent up on pack ponies, if required.These will be filled at a tank which is being filled up over at the spring at that place.
  5. N.B. It is important that all empty petrol tins should be returned either to the Advanced Brigade Dump (a) above, for return to Advanced Brigade H.Q. or by pack ponies to the Transport Camp, so that they may be re-filled ready for re-issue.
  6. Petrol tins for carrying up water by pack animals will be stacked on the Moat of the CITADEL at G.26.d.4.3.
  1. The party of One Officer and 80 men of this Brigade at present attached to ‘C’ Coy. 11th King’s Regt (Pioneers) will be employed under Brigade arrangements to :-
  1. Carry between Advanced Brigade H.Q., in the Factory at G.34.b.95.70. and the Advanced Brigade Dump in the ARRAS WAY about M.6.a.00.35.
  2. Work the trucks on the Tramway up HALIFAX.
  3. Furnish guards over the water tanks.
  4. Furnish personnel for Brigade Dumps.
  1. Battalions will arrange to provide carrying parties between the Advanced Brigade Dump and their captured objective, assisted, if the tactical situation permits, by carrying parties from the Battalion in Brigade Reserve.
  2. The Officer or N.C.O. in charge of each carrying party will be furnished with a chit showing –
  1. Articles and amount of each to be carried by his party.
  2. Destination of carrying party after loading up.
  1. DUMPS.
  1. Stores to equip Battalions as laid down in Tables A.B. & C. issued to Units under this Office S 5/135 B.M., dated 19/2/17 will be dumped as follows:-i.In DUNEDIN CAVE to be drawn before marching off for their Assembly Positions on Y/Z night.   Meat and biscuit rations to be carried on the man. Water.           Sandbags      Tools.Bombs.     Rifle Grenades.        Ground Flares.5th Shrops L.I.9th Rif Brig.N.B. There will be a separate and clearly marked Dump for each Company of the 5th Oxf & Bucks L.I. and 9th K.R.Rif.C. both in the CAVES and at Advanced Brigade H.Q. Detailed orders regarding times for drawing stores at Advanced Brigade H.Q. will be issued later.
  2.      In Reserve Line near The ARRAS WAY.
  3.      In dugout in Old German Front Line near Battalion H.Q.
  4. Very Cartridges both coloured and white.
  5. ii. At Advanced Brigade H.Q. in the Factory at G.34.b.95.70. to be drawn on route from the CAVES to Assembly Positions:-
  6. 5th Oxf & Bucks L.I., and 9th K.R.Rif.C.
  7. The Stores shown in Table D issued to Units under this Office S 5/135  For Two Battalions.For Two Battalions.N.B. After ZERO all Battalions will draw stores from the Advanced Brigade Dump, which will be replenished under Brigade arrangements form the Dump at Advanced Brigade H.Q.
  8. At Advanced Brigade H.Q. in Factory at G.34.b.95.70.
  9. In the Advanced Brigade Dump in Dugouts in the ARRAS WAY about M.6.a.00.35.
  10. B.M. dated 19/2/17 will be dumped as follows:-
  11. S.A.A. for 42nd Machine Gun Company and Stokes bombs for the 42nd Trench Mortar Battery will be stored at Advanced Brigade Dump and replenished from the Dump at Advanced Brigade H.Q..
  12. A Dump for R.E. Stores will be formed by the 61st Field Company R.E. at the junction of ARRAS WAY and Old German Front Line G.35.d.55.10.
  13. All Units will draw R.E. Stores from here.
  1. TRAMWAY.O.C. 61st Field Company R.E. will be responsible for the maintenance and control of the Tramway.No one is allowed to use HALIFAX except men pushing trucks, and the maintenance gang. Capt, Bde Major,2nd April 1917.
  2. 42nd Inf Bde.
  3. J.B. Paget
  4. The Tramway will be used exclusively for moving stores forward from Advanced Brigade H.Q. and for evacuation of the wounded from the A.D.S. at G.35.d.05.85.
  5. All trucks proceeding EAST to have the Right of way over trucks proceeding WEST.
  6. The Tramway runs from the R.E. Dump on the RUE du COMMANDANT DUMETZ (G.28.d.60.15.) to Advanced Brigade H.Q. in the Factory G.34.b.95.70., thence up HALIFAX to the RUINED FARM at G.35.c.90.80., thence along ARRAS WAY to the Old German Front Line at G.35.d.55.05. Personnel to work the trucks and traffic controls will be provided under Brigade Arrangements.

“Preliminary Instructions for the Offensive”. 2 April 1917


42nd Inf Bde.

S 6/105 B.M.

5th Oxf & Bucks L.I.

5th Shrops L.I.

9th K.R.Rif.C.

9th Rif Brig.

42nd Machine Gun Company.

42nd Trench Mortar Battery.

8th Inf Bde.

9th Inf Bde.

41st Inf Bde.

43rd Inf Bde.

14th Division



Herewith No. 7 of “Preliminary Instructions for the Offensive”.


Please acknowledge receipt.


On account of the very secret nature of these Documents. The G.O.C. directs that none of the information contained in them should be circulated in writing to Companies and that they be kept under lock and key.


J Paget


For Bde Major,

42nd Inf Bde.

2nd April 1917


Message 14 March 1917

“A” Form



To        Camp Comdt.


Senders Number                     Day of Month             In reply to Number     AAA

IG 632                                                 14


Fifth Army reports they have consolidated brickfields at N.2.A.5.5. AAA Trench H.31.B.0.3. to H.32.D.2.7. occupied by us AAA Line West of G.23.C.3.0. now runs West to G.22.C.8.1. North to G.22.A.5.3., G.22.A.0.7., G.21. Central Railways in G.20. central AAA Post established at F.26.D.3015. AAA ends.




Time: 11/40 am

(Sd) K.M. Leader Lieut G.S.

Signature of Addressee


14 March 1917



20 Division probable dispositions 5th March, 1917.

Camp Comdt.
SECRET. 20th Division No. G.762.
1. The advance to be reckoned with is an advance by short bounds from one enemy trench system to another.
The advance of the Division will probably be in a N.E. direction, and will include, as the first step, a move towards the LE TRANSLOY Line, viz: – SUN TRENCH, MOON TRENCH, STAR TRENCH, and the village of LE TRANSLOY. The next bound would be to the BARASTRE – ROCQUIGNY line. The first advance would carry our line forward about 800 – 1,000 yards, while the second step would be one of about 2,500 yards, beyond the LE TRANSLOY Line.

2. Some of the factors which will regulate the rate of the advance are:-
(i) The reconstruction of roads and railways (both light and ordinary) with a view to bringing up supplies and material.
(ii) Ability to bring forward guns to support the advance.
(iii) The resistance offered by the enemy.
The factors under (i) and (ii) are known quantities as regards the present fighting area. The resistance of the enemy may be counted on to be energetic, and it may therefore be assumed that the rate of progression will be slow.

3. On the 7th instant, Brigades will have been reformed into their proper groupings, and it is proposed, unless orders to the contrary are received, to advance with whichever two Brigades happen to be in the line, the Brigade from CARNCY being kept in Reserve.

4. The action of the two forward Brigades will consist in sending out strong fighting patrols, to their front, within the Divisional limits defined by the Corps, and to keep touch with the retiring enemy and occupy all evacuated trenches. It is most important that at this stage, lateral communication between these patrols be maintained. Divisional orders will define the spheres within which patrols of each Brigade will operate.

5. The Headquarters of Formations will move forward to new positions as soon as the LE TRANSLOY line has been occupied. These will be as follows:-
Divl: H.Qrs (including H.Qrs R.A. & R.E.) to GUILLEMONT.
Reserve Brigade to GUILLEMONT.
Bde in MORVAL Sector to dugouts T.12.a.60.75.
Bde in LESBOEUFS Sector to “ T.5.c.45.25.
Bn. H.Qrs of above 2 Bdes to most suitable dugouts in our own
front line or the enemy’s front line, according to the position of their Battns.
2nd Echelon Divl: H.Qrs. to BRIQUETERIE.
Should the advance continue to the BARASTRE – ROCQUIGNY line, “G” Branch, Divisional Headquarters, moves to the Left Brigade H.Qrs. in T.6.a., while both leading Brigade H.Qrs move to suitable positions in the LE TRASNOY line, and Battalion H.Qrs to selected points in rear of their units between the LE TRASNOY and BARASTRE – ROCQUIGNY lines.

6. Unless orders are received to the contrary, units will advance at their trench strengths. The personnel not with units and not required for Works Battalion or other Corps work, will move with the transport which will follow up the advance, under orders to be issued by “Q”. The personnel with the transport will be considered to be the 50% reinforcements to be kept out of the fight in accordance with O.B. 1635 (Instructions for the training of Divisions for Offensive Action). The extra regimentally employed men to return to units when advance begins, will probably be those attached to Tunnelling Coys, Hutting Coy. and to those units whose existence has become necessary through Trench warfare.

7. Troops advancing over the occupied area cannot count on any accommodation beyond that which may be found in evacuated dugouts which have not been destroyed by the enemy, and may therefore have to bivouac in the open. “Q” Branch are ascertaining what tent squares (bivouacs) will be available.
Until the roads have been repaired, rations, water, tools, ammunition etc., will have to be carried by the troops themselves, with the assistance of pack-animals. Pack-animals will not be able to proceed usually beyond Battalion Headquarters.
The transport lines would probably be advanced to the neighbourhood of GUILLEMONT and GINCHY as soon as the move commences, and sites for these are to be reconnoitred now by Transport Officers, the reconnaissance being co-ordinated by “Q”.

8. The most suitable map to be used by troops will be sheet 57c. S.W., 1/20,000.

9. When the advance commences, the S.A.A. Section D.A.C. will come under the control of “Q” and will be at once moved to GUILLEMONT, the proposed site for transport lines being selected beforehand.

10. Tool carts will be filled up to mobilization scale at D.A.D.O.S. dumps, under orders from “Q”.
11. Details as regards disposal of stores, equipment to be worn, transport arrangements etc. will be issued by “Q” in due course.
T. McN. Haskard
Lieut. Col.
General Staff, 20th Division.
5th March, 1917.

Copies to:-
59th Inf. Bde.
60th Inf. Bde.
61st Inf. Bde.
11th Durham L.I.
Divl Train.
A.A. & Q.M.G.
Camp Commandant.
XIV Corps “G” (for information).