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Title: The Grenadier Guards in the Great War of 1914 - 1918, Vol. II
Author: Ponsonby, Frederick Cavendish
Language: English
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THE GRENADIER GUARDS

IN THE GREAT WAR OF

1914-1918



[Illustration: Printer’s Logo]

MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

LONDON · BOMBAY · CALCUTTA · MADRAS · MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

NEW YORK · BOSTON · CHICAGO · DALLAS · SAN FRANCISCO

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.

TORONTO



  [Illustration:
  _J. S. Sargent portrait_               _Emery Walker ph. sc._
  _Field Marshal H.R.H. The Duke of Connaught K.G., G.C.B. &c._
  _Colonel of the Regiment_]



THE

GRENADIER GUARDS

IN THE GREAT WAR OF

1914-1918


BY

LIEUT.-COLONEL

THE RIGHT HON. SIR FREDERICK PONSONBY

(LATE GRENADIER GUARDS)


WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY

LIEUT.-GENERAL THE EARL OF CAVAN


_MAPS BY MR. EMERY WALKER_


IN THREE VOLUMES

VOL. II


MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

ST. MARTIN’S STREET, LONDON

1920



COPYRIGHT



CONTENTS


CHAPTER XVIII

                                                            PAGE

JANUARY 1 TO SEPTEMBER 1, 1916 (3RD AND 4TH BATTS.)           1


CHAPTER XIX

THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME (1ST, 2ND, 3RD, AND 4TH BATTS.)      27


CHAPTER XX

OCTOBER, NOVEMBER, DECEMBER 1916 (1ST, 2ND, 3RD, AND
4TH BATTALIONS)                                             148


CHAPTER XXI

JANUARY, FEBRUARY, MARCH 1917 (1ST, 2ND, 3RD, AND
4TH BATTALIONS)                                             160


CHAPTER XXII

APRIL, MAY, JUNE, JULY 1917 (1ST, 2ND, 3RD, AND 4TH
BATTALIONS)                                                 174


CHAPTER XXIII

BOESINGHE (1ST, 2ND, 3RD, AND 4TH BATTALIONS)               199


CHAPTER XXIV

AUGUST, SEPTEMBER 1917 (1ST, 2ND, 3RD, AND 4TH BATTS.)      235


CHAPTER XXV

THE CROSSING OF THE BROEMBEEK (1ST, 2ND, 3RD, AND
4TH BATTALIONS)                                             246


CHAPTER XXVI

CAMBRAI AND GOUZEAUCOURT (1ST, 2ND, 3RD, AND 4TH
BATTALIONS)                                                 266


CHAPTER XXVII

JANUARY, FEBRUARY, MARCH 1918 (1ST, 2ND, 3RD, AND
4TH BATTALIONS)                                             349



ILLUSTRATIONS


Field-Marshal H.R.H. The Duke of Connaught, K.G.,
G.C.B., etc., Colonel of the Regiment             _Frontispiece_

                                                       FACING PAGE

Lieutenant-General The Earl of Cavan, K.P., K.C.B.           48

Major-General G. D. Jeffreys, C.M.G.                         80

Brigadier-General C. E. Corkran, C.M.G.                     112

Inspection of the Guards Division by Field-Marshal
H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, K.G., November 1, 1916        150

The Grenadier Guards marching in Fours past their
Colonel, Field-Marshal H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught,
K.G., November 1, 1916                                      159

Brigadier-General G. F. Trotter, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O.       198


MAPS

Battle of the Somme, the evening of September 15, 1916      118

Battle of the Somme, the night of September 25, 1916        138

Boesinghe, July 31, 1917                                    200

Broembeek, October 10, 1917                                 246

Attack on Fontaine, November 27, 1917                       306

Attack on Gonnelieu and Gauche Wood, December 1, 1917       332



CHAPTER XVIII

JANUARY TO SEPTEMBER 1916


THE 3RD BATTALION

[Sidenote: 3rd Batt. Jan. 1916.]

At the beginning of 1916 the officers of the 3rd Battalion were:

     Colonel N. A. L. Corry, D.S.O.             Commanding Officer.
     Maj. M. E. Makgill-Crichton-Maitland       Second in Command.
     Capt. O. Lyttelton                         Adjutant.
     Lieut. E. H. J. Wynne                      Transport.
     2nd Lieut. L. St. L. Hermon-Hodge          Bombing Officer.
     Hon. Lieut. G. H. Wall                     Quartermaster.
     Capt. R. Wolrige-Gordon                    No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. the Hon. H. E. Eaton                 ”      ”
     Lieut. G. P. Bowes-Lyon                     ”      ”
     Capt. the Hon. R. P. Stanhope              No. 2 Company.
     2nd Lieut. E. R. M. Fryer                   ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. J. F. Worsley                    ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. W. Parker                        ”      ”
     Capt. G. G. Gunnis                         No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. the Hon. F. O. H. Eaton              ”      ”
     Lieut. F. J. V. B. Hopley                   ”      ”
     Capt. E. N. E. M. Vaughan                  No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. the Hon. A. E. F. Yorke              ”      ”
     Lieut. R. Asquith                           ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. R. W. Parker                     ”      ”
     Lieut. A. T. Logan, R.A.M.C.               Medical Officer.

On the 1st the 3rd Battalion marched from Merville to Laventie, and
went into billets vacated by the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards. On the
3rd it took over the left sector from the 1st Battalion Scots Guards,
with the Battalion Headquarters at Wangeric Farm. Forty-eight hours in
the trenches followed by forty-eight hours’ rest was the regular
routine for the next fortnight. The trenches in this sector were in a
very good state, and it was possible, therefore, to go in for
refinements and erect splinter-proof shelters; but the enemy’s
artillery was very active, and expended a great deal of ammunition on
the reserve trenches and communications. During this fortnight a troop
of Wiltshire Yeomanry was attached to the Battalion for instruction,
and did very well although it was quite new to trench warfare. On the
12th Colonel Corry relinquished command of the Battalion, and on the
14th Lieut.-Colonel Jeffreys took charge of it temporarily, pending
the arrival of Major Sergison-Brooke.

On the 14th the Battalion marched back to La Gorgue, where it remained
in billets for ten days, after which it returned to Laventie. Great
activity was noticeable behind the enemy’s lines, and as this might be
the prelude to an attack every precaution was taken. There seemed some
possibility of a gas attack, and special warnings were conveyed to
each company, but although the enemy’s artillery shelled the strong
points in our line, Elgin Post, Fauquissart Cross Roads, and
Hougoumont Post, no infantry attack was made by the enemy.

[Sidenote: Feb.]

On February 1 the 3rd Battalion proceeded to Merville, where it
remained until the 7th, when it marched to Riez Bailleul. The usual
routine of two days in and two days out of the trenches was observed
until the 16th, when it was relieved by the 9th Battalion Royal Welsh
Fusiliers, and marched back to La Gorgue. The only incident worth
recording during this tour of duty in the trenches was an unfortunate
accident that happened to Lieutenant R. W. Parker. He was returning
with a patrol early in the morning, and as he came in over the parapet
he slipped, and fell on a bayonet which penetrated his leg below the
knee. On the 17th Lieutenant W. Champneys and Second Lieutenant G. D.
Jackson arrived, and on the 19th the Battalion marched to Eecke. The
following day it proceeded to Wormhoudt, where it remained for two
days, and then marched to Poperinghe.

[Sidenote: March.]

Major-General G. Feilding gave a lecture to the officers on March 1,
and impressed on them the importance of making the line north of Hooge
strong and defensible, since it was the left flank of the whole
British line. This could be done only by ingenious concealment of any
new work and by unremitting efforts of all ranks. He added that, if
the enemy concentrated opposite the Ypres salient, a withdrawal would
be made to the Canal line. Any ground that could not be held against
the enemy’s artillery fire would be defended by strong points and
machine-guns concealed in natural features, and placed apart from
entrenchments and other works.

On the 5th the 3rd Battalion proceeded to Calais, and marched to Camp
Beaumarais, where it remained until the 18th. Here a most unfortunate
bombing accident occurred. No. 4 Company bombers were practising under
Lieutenant L. Hermon-Hodge behind a thick sand-bag wall, when a bomb
exploded prematurely on leaving the thrower’s hand. Five men were
killed and sixteen wounded in addition to Lieutenant Hermon-Hodge
himself, who received fragments of the bomb in his right arm. On the
18th the 3rd Battalion left Calais, and went by train to Cassel, where
it detrained and marched to Oudezeele.

On the 26th it reached the Ypres salient, and went into the support
trenches. Lieut.-Colonel Sergison-Brooke was on leave, and the
Battalion was commanded by Major Maitland. Special precautions with
regard to gas were taken, and on the wind becoming favourable it was
arranged that the Brigade would send the message “Gas alert,” when all
sentries would be doubled, and men would be placed at the entrance of
each dug-out to give the alarm. Warnings were also issued with regard
to the aeroplanes, which required careful watching, since the enemy in
that sector was very active, and if any movement was seen on the Canal
bank or in the town shelling immediately began. During the sixteen
days the Battalion spent at Ypres there were a certain number of
casualties, and the number of sick increased slightly.

On the 30th the 3rd Battalion had to relieve the Scots Guards under
very trying conditions, for not only was the front line being shelled,
but the communication trenches were also included in the bombardment.
The three leading companies succeeded in reaching the front line
without casualties, but No. 2, under Captain Stanhope, came under
shrapnel fire as it passed through Potidje, and had seven casualties.
Communication between the Battalion Headquarters and the companies was
cut, and there was considerable difficulty in transmitting the orders.
The leading companies, which were ordered to hold from Duke Street to
Roulers railway, found the front trenches devastated and swept by
shrapnel fired both frontally and obliquely from Pilkem and Belleward
ridge. The 1st Battalion Scots Guards had suffered considerably and
was in great difficulties, as communication along the front line was
impossible under cover. Men were cut off from the remainder of their
company and were covered with mud and debris, some even being buried.
Relieving a battalion under such conditions required time, and it was
not till 4 A.M. that the relief was complete.

In view of the probability of an attack while the relief was being
carried out, three batteries of 18-pounder guns were ordered to put
down a barrage on the German front line. This proved to be a great
help, and no doubt prevented the 3rd Battalion from suffering as heavy
losses as the Scots Guards. There were in all five men killed and
sixteen wounded, in addition to Captain R. Wolrige-Gordon, whose leg
was grazed by a bullet. The front line was wrecked, but by placing men
in the wreckage under what cover there was the trench was made
defensible. The enemy, however, showed no signs of life, and the
following days were quiet. Meanwhile it was found difficult to drain
the trenches, which were in a very dilapidated condition after the
bombardment. The whole ground was cut up, and water stood in the
shell-holes, while the wooden revetments had been torn to pieces and
buried beneath the parapets and parados. The work of clearing away the
debris was necessarily slow, and the water could not be got rid of in
spite of the good fall in the ground towards Belleward Beer. At first
it was impossible to go down the front line for more than a few yards,
but after two days’ hard work the trench was so far improved that men
could crawl along it, although not without difficulty. On April 3,
instead of returning to Ypres, the 3rd Battalion went into camp just
west of Vlamertinghe.

[Sidenote: April.]

The officers of the 3rd Battalion at that time were:

     Lieut.-Colonel B. N. Sergison-Brooke       Commanding Officer.
     Maj. M. E. Makgill-Crichton-Maitland       Second in Command.
     Capt. O. Lyttelton                         Adjutant.
     Lieut. E. H. J. Wynne                      Transport Officer.
     Lieut. G. H. Wall                          Quartermaster.
     Lieut. the Hon. H. E. Eaton                No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. G. P. Bowes-Lyon                     ”      ”
     Captain the Hon. R. P. Stanhope.           No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. J. F. Worsley                        ”      ”
     Lieut. E. R. M. Fryer                       ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. R. W. Parker                     ”      ”
     Capt. E. S. Ward                           No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. F. J. V. B. Hopley                   ”      ”
     Lieut. the Hon. F. O. H. Eaton              ”      ”
     Lieut. W. Champneys                         ”      ”
     Capt. E. N. E. M. Vaughan                  No. 4 Company.
     2nd Lieut. G. D. Jackson                    ”      ”
     Capt. G. G. Gunnis                         Bombing Officer.
     Lieut. the Hon. A. E. F. Yorke             Lewis Gun Officer.
     Monsieur Minne                             Belgian Interpreter.

     _Attached_――Capt. A. T. Logan, R.A.M.C.

After four days’ rest the 3rd Battalion returned to the same line of
trenches it had occupied before, and found them worse than ever. The
Scots Guards who had been there had again been subjected to a severe
bombardment, and all the work that had been done was now obliterated.
On the 4th Lieutenant Worsley left to take up his appointment as
Trench Mortar Officer. The four days spent in the trenches proved to
be very quiet, as the Germans seemed to have expended all their shells
on the Scots Guards, and nothing of any interest occurred. On the 11th
the Battalion moved to Poperinghe, where most unfortunately four men
were killed and two wounded whilst unloading the officers’ kits. On
the 12th Captain Wolrige-Gordon rejoined, his wound not having proved
very serious, and Second Lieutenant M. Thrupp arrived. Two days later
Captain A. K. Mackenzie, Captain W. A. L. Stewart, and Second
Lieutenant F. J. Heasman joined the Battalion.

The system of reliefs was changed at this time in order to avoid the
inconvenience of two brigades relieving on the same night. The tour of
duty was divided as follows: five days at Ypres, five days in the
front line, three days at Camp B, three days in the front line. On the
18th the 3rd Battalion moved up into Ypres, and went into support
trenches. The men were provided with steel helmets, and left their
service caps with the transport and their unnecessary kit in sand-bags
at the prison. On the 24th they relieved the 1st Battalion Scots
Guards in the front line, where the trenches proved to be fairly good,
although there was still a lot of water standing everywhere. As the
ground was so much cut up, the draining of the trenches was not easy;
and since any movement during the day was impossible, all the work had
to be done at night. Lieutenant Thrupp was knocked down by a shell
during these operations, but was fortunately unhurt, and there were a
few casualties every day. On the 29th the 3rd Battalion was relieved
by the 1st Battalion Scots Guards, and retired to B Camp near
Vlamertinghe.

[Sidenote: May.]

On May 1 Second Lieutenant M. Duquenoy arrived, and was appointed
Transport Officer. The Battalion returned to the trenches on the 2nd,
when the relief was carried out in most favourable circumstances. The
three days in the front line were uneventful, although the patrols
reported great activity in the enemy’s lines, and the time was spent
in draining operations and in wiring and repairing the parapet. A good
many high-explosive shells were sent over by the enemy’s artillery,
which became fairly active during the third day, but the casualties
were few. On the 5th the Battalion was relieved, and went by train to
Poperinghe where it went into billets, but it was by no means free
from shell-fire, as the German artillery periodically bombarded the
town.

After a week’s rest it returned to Ypres, and was employed on nightly
fatigues, carrying wood for mining parties and wiring the support
lines. On the night of the 16th it returned to the trenches from Duke
Street to Roulers railway, and came in for a good deal of shelling,
chiefly behind the lines. The usual work was continued, but forty
yards of the line had been completely blown in, and accordingly the
trench had to be re-dug. On the 21st the Battalion returned to
Poperinghe after having been relieved by the 10th Battalion Rifle
Brigade, and marched to Camp N, where it remained till the end of the
month.

[Sidenote: June.]

On June 1 the 2nd Guards Brigade proceeded to Volckerinchove, where it
marched past Lieut.-General Lord Cavan, the Corps Commander, and
Major-General G. Feilding, the Divisional Commander. In order to try a
new method of attack, a complete representation to scale of the German
trenches revetted with sand-bags was constructed, while the British
line was also roughly indicated. The assault on the German trenches
was then practised on the following lines: the assault was to take
place in five waves, the fifth wave being a carrying company, provided
by a battalion other than the actual assaulting battalion. The two
leading companies were to assault in two waves, the second following
about fifty yards in rear of the first. These two waves were to cross
the German front-line trench without getting into it, and push on to
the objective, roughly speaking, the German third line. The third wave
was to pass over the German front line and take the German second
line, which was to be consolidated. The fourth wave was to take and
consolidate the German front line. Strong bombing parties were to be
placed on both flanks of all companies, with centre bombing parties
dispersed roughly opposite the German communication trenches. Bombing
parties of the two leading waves were to establish blocks in the
German communication trenches, while the bombing parties of the rear
waves were to clear the communication trenches forward and get into
touch with the two leading waves. All the men were to carry two Mills
grenades and four sand-bags, tucked through the web equipment in
front, and every third man was to carry a shovel slung. The R.E.
material and trench-mortar ammunition was to be carried by the fifth
wave. At night the men were to carry Roman candles to show the
position of the waves. All the battalions in the Brigade carried out
this form of attack, and when they had mastered the new features it
was practised by the Brigade.

On the 14th the 3rd Battalion moved to Vlamertinghe in motor lorries
to relieve the 9th Canadian Battalion, which had suffered heavy
losses, and remained there for three days, with one company at Ypres
and three companies at the west end of Zillebeke Lake. On the night of
the 18th it took over from the 1st Battalion Scots Guards the front
trenches in Sanctuary Wood, and found the whole ground much cut about
by shell-fire. The wire, which the Germans had put up whilst in
occupation of the old British front line, combined with the natural
obstacles, such as fallen trees and debris, made any approach on the
part of the enemy very difficult. Reconnaissance proved that the
Germans had withdrawn to their original front line, leaving the old
British line full of dead, equipment, and ammunition. Over 350 rifles
and a large quantity of ammunition were thus collected. Both on the
19th and 20th the Battalion was subjected to heavy shelling, and even
during the relief suffered casualties, among whom was Lieut, the Hon.
H. E. Eaton who was wounded. After a week’s rest in Camp D, the
Battalion took over the left reserve sub-sector, at the junction of
the British and French armies on the Yser Canal, where it remained for
three days, and on the night of the 30th it went up again into the
front line.

[Sidenote: July.]

During the three days the Battalion was in these trenches there was a
great deal of activity on the part of the artillery on both sides.
Preparation was being made on our side for an attack by the Welsh
Guards on Morteloje Estaminet, while the enemy replied by laying down
a heavy barrage over our communication trenches; but as the men had
been withdrawn from the first trench the casualties of the 3rd
Battalion were not heavy. On the 3rd the Battalion withdrew into
support by the Canal bank, and returned again to the front line on the
8th. On the 7th Major Maitland left to take command of the 1st
Battalion, and on the 9th Second Lieutenant W. W. S. C. Neville
arrived. On the 12th the Battalion retired to the Canal bank, and
three days later proceeded to Camp E, where it remained for ten days.
On the 25th it proceeded to Volckerinchove, and left the Ypres area.
On the 31st it moved down to Le Souich, where it was employed for a
week in digging for another Division.

[Sidenote: Aug.]

On August 3 Lieutenant G. F. R. Hirst and Lieutenant W. A. Stainton
joined the Battalion, and on the 6th Second Lieutenant A. H. Penfold
and Second Lieutenant H. St. J. Williams arrived. On the 9th His
Majesty the King paid an informal visit to the 2nd Brigade, but there
was no actual inspection or parade. On the 13th the Battalion went up
into the trenches in front of Bertrancourt, and beyond the usual
amount of shelling nothing of interest occurred. On the 15th
Lieutenant C. G. Gardner and Second Lieutenant G. M. Cornish joined
the Battalion. Two days later the Battalion went into camp at
Sailly-au-Bois, where it was packed rather closely together; and when
the enemy began shelling that locality it had to be taken out of the
camp and placed in artillery formation in the fields in rear. The
remainder of the month was spent in training, during which the
Battalion was encamped at Bus-les-Artois, Amplier Naours, and finally
Morlancourt.


THE 4TH BATTALION

[Sidenote: 4th Batt. Jan. 1.]

The officers of the 4th Battalion on January 1, 1916, were:

     Lieut.-Colonel Lord Henry Seymour          Commanding Officer.
     Capt. J. A. Morrison                       Second in Command.
     Capt. H. S. Lambert                        Adjutant.
     2nd Lieut. H. H. Sloane-Stanley            Bombing Officer.
     2nd Lieut. M. Chapman                      Lewis Guns.
     Lieut. I. H. Ingleby                       Transport Officer.
     Lieut. E. Ludlow                           Quartermaster.
     Capt. C. L. Blundell-Hollinshead-Blundell  No. 1 Company.
     2nd Lieut. F. G. Bonham-Carter              ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. B. Burman                        ”      ”
     Capt. C. R. Britten                        No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. F. C. Lyon                           ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. C. G. Keith                      ”      ”
     Capt. Sir R. Filmer, Bart.                 No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. B. C. Layton                         ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. G. C. Sloane-Stanley             ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. E. W. Nairn                      ”      ”
     Capt. F. O. S. Sitwell                     No. 4 Company.
     Lieut, the Hon. E. W. Tennant               ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. D. O. Constable                  ”      ”

     _Attached_――Capt. W. Hilton-Parry, R.A.M.C.

The 4th Battalion began the new year in billets at Merville, where it
remained till the 13th, doing steady drill, route marching, Lewis gun
and bombing practice. On the 1st, Second Lieutenant B. Burman, Second
Lieutenant C. G. Keith, and Second Lieutenant D. O. Constable joined
the Battalion.

On the 13th it moved up to the trenches in front of Laventie, and
relieved the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards. There it remained for a
fortnight, spending two days in the trenches, followed by two days in
support billets. In the line it occupied were certain strong points, A
1 Redoubt, Flank Post, and Firework Post, and these were subjected
daily to a systematic shelling from the German artillery. Beyond a few
casualties, nothing of importance occurred until the 25th, when
Captain Sir Robert Filmer was mortally wounded. He had just left the
trenches when he found he had lost his glasses. Being very
short-sighted, he determined to go back and look for them, although he
was warned that the road was being heavily shelled at the time. With
that supreme contempt for all shells that had characterised his whole
conduct since he came out, he rode back when a shell burst close to
him, killing his horse and wounding him so severely that he died the
next day.

[Sidenote: Feb.]

On the 27th the 4th Battalion returned to billets at Merville for four
days, and on the 1st of February took over the Red House line at
Laventie, where it remained until the 15th, retiring into support
billets every two days. Numerous patrols lay out each night in the
hopes of capturing prisoners, but these ventures were not attended
with any success, and no prisoners were secured. Heavy shelling of the
front line of trenches continued daily, but although considerable
damage was done to the parapet the casualties were few. On the 12th
the enemy shelled Dead End Post, and burnt it to the ground. There
were fortunately no men killed or wounded, but all the rifles, S.A.A.,
bombs, and rations were destroyed. The same night Captain Layton sent
out one N.C.O. and four men, with two R.E. men carrying a Bangalore
torpedo, which was placed under the German wire, with its nose against
the enemy’s parapet. After the party had returned in safety the
torpedo was successfully exploded by means of an electric cable, and
our patrols later reported extensive damage to the enemy’s parapet.

On the 15th the 4th Battalion returned to billets at Merville, and the
next day entrained at Lestrem for Calais. On arrival at Calais it
marched to a camp at Le Beaumarais, where the Y.M.C.A. had hot drinks
and cakes ready. The sea air for which the men had come was somewhat
powerful when they arrived, as it was blowing a gale, and most of the
tents were laid flat. In fact, the whole time they were there the
weather was bad, with heavy snow and hail storms, which made camp life
unpleasant. On the 23rd forty-three officers of the 1st and 4th
Battalions dined together, and invited General Heyworth to join them.
On the 26th the Battalion went by train to Cassel, where it detrained
and marched to Herzeele. A great deal of snow had fallen, and the
roads were in a very bad state, which made it difficult for the
transport to move with any rapidity. The men were billeted in farms
round about, and, although very much scattered, the billets were good.

A new system of parchments, in recognition of good work done by
N.C.O.’s and men in the Division, was instituted. These were signed by
the Major-General commanding the Division and issued to the men, but
as there was every danger of their being lost if carried about, they
were re-collected, and sent through the Regimental Orderly Room to the
men’s relatives. The infinitesimal number of decorations allotted to
each battalion necessitated some other means of recognising
conspicuous services, and although it could hardly be said that these
parchments in any way compensated for the lack of decoration, they at
least gave the man the satisfaction of knowing that his services had
been brought to the notice of the Major-General.

[Sidenote: March.]

After spending a fortnight at Herzeele the 4th Battalion moved to a
camp of huts and tents near Poperinghe on March 6. A digging party 250
strong, under Captain Blundell, was sent on to work at Ypres, and
remained there for three days. On the 15th the whole battalion went by
train to Ypres, where it went into dug-outs, and on the following day
took over the line of trenches with its right 200 yards north of the
Menin road, and its left on the Roulers railway by Railway Wood. There
it remained until the 27th, retiring every four days into dug-outs at
Ypres, and although it became a mere target for the German artillery,
it had only nineteen casualties in its first four days in the
trenches.

On the 23rd the following officers joined the Battalion: Lieutenant C.
G. Goschen, Second Lieutenant A. F. Newey, Lieutenant M. F. H.
Payne-Gallwey, and Second Lieutenant J. P. Bibby. On the 24th Second
Lieutenant B. G. H. Maclear rendered a very good patrol report, and on
the information he gained a further reconnaissance under his guidance
was sent out the next day, to be followed, if successful, by a bombing
raid. The patrol was unfortunately seen by the enemy, and a hot fire
was opened on them all down the line. This completely precluded all
possibility of surprise, and consequently the enterprise was
abandoned. That evening the German artillery heavily shelled the
Canadian trenches on the right, and inflicted considerable damage. On
the 27th the Battalion returned to Poperinghe, where the men washed in
the Corps baths, and received clean underclothing.

The officers of the 4th Battalion at that time were:

[Sidenote: April.]

     Lieut.-Colonel Lord Henry Seymour          Commanding Officer.
     Major J. A. Morrison                       Second in Command.
     Capt. R. S. Lambert                        Adjutant.
     Lieut. H. H. Sloane-Stanley                Bombing Officer.
     Lieut. M. Chapman                          Lewis Gun Officer.
     Lieut. I. H. Ingleby                       Transport Officer.
     Lieut. E. Ludlow                           Quartermaster.
     Capt. C. L. Blundell-Hollinshead-Blundell  No. 1 Company.
     2nd Lieut. B. Burman                        ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. A. F. Newey                      ”      ”
     Lieut. C. G. Goschen                       No. 2 Company.
     2nd Lieut. C. G. Keith                      ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. B. G. H. Maclear                 ”      ”
     Capt. B. C. Layton                         No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. G. C. Sloane-Stanley                 ”      ”
     Lieut. M. F. H. Payne-Gallwey               ”      ”
     Lieut. E. W. Nairn                          ”      ”
     Capt. F. O. S. Sitwell                     No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. the Hon. E. W. Tennant               ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. D. O. Constable.                 ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. J. P. Bibby                      ”      ”

On April 3 the 4th Battalion moved to Camp B at Vlamertinghe by
companies, and on the 8th returned to the trenches, relieving the 1st
Battalion Grenadiers as right battalion of the left sector of the
Division. There it remained until the 20th, placing two companies at a
time in the front line. There was a great deal of work to be done in
strengthening and heightening the parapet, which in some parts was in
a lamentable condition. On the 17th Second Lieutenant M. H. Ponsonby
and Second Lieutenant R. A. Gault arrived. The enemy was very active
in this sector, and frequent raids occurred. On the 19th the German
artillery began a systematic bombardment of our first and second lines
by way of a barrage, while they launched an attack somewhat to the
left of the line occupied by the 4th Battalion. At first this attack
hardly seemed to affect Nos. 2 and 3 Companies, which were at that
time in the front trenches, but when a message arrived from the
Brigade-Major to the effect that the enemy had occupied Wieltje in
front of the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards, which had held it lightly, it
was clear that something had to be done. It afterwards turned out that
the enemy had made a determined attack on the Sixth Division, and had
taken 600 yards of trench, while a raiding party had got down the
trench occupied by the Scots Guards. Lieutenant C. G. Goschen, who was
an old hand at this type of fighting, at once sent a strong patrol,
under Second Lieutenant Maclear, up the trench to the left to clear up
the situation, and if necessary support the Scots Guards. This
manœuvre proved eminently successful, and, in spite of the bombs which
rained on them the party of Grenadiers carried all before them. In the
meantime the Scots Guards ejected all the Germans who had succeeded in
penetrating into their trench. There was necessarily some very stiff
fighting, but although there were 3 men killed and 24 wounded, of whom
3 died later, the party returned with no men missing. Lieut.-Colonel
Lord Henry Seymour afterwards attributed the success of the operation
to the coolness and resource displayed by Second Lieutenant Maclear,
Lieutenant Goschen, and Captain Blundell. He also praised the marked
ability shown by Second Lieutenant Keith and Second Lieutenant
Constable in the control of their men under very difficult
circumstances.

One particularly gallant act was performed that night by Private James
Grundy, who was on duty with his telephone under very heavy fire, when
he suddenly discovered that the wire had been cut by a shell. He at
once went out in the open to mend the wire, although he was only 120
yards from the enemy, and had hardly returned when the wire was cut a
second time. Again, without a moment’s hesitation, he went out to find
where the wire was broken. This time, however, he was severely wounded
as he was engaged in repairing the line, and when rescued was found
still working away in spite of his wounds. Even then he refused to be
taken out of the trench until he had handed over the secret code to an
officer. Shells, bullets, wounds made no difference to him: he had his
duty to do, and he meant to do it. For this act of bravery he was
awarded the D.C.M.

On the 20th the 4th Battalion returned to Vlamertinghe, where it
remained resting for a week, after which it moved up to Ypres, and
took over the right of the right sector at Rifle Farm on the 27th for
four days.

[Sidenote: May.]

The Battalion remained at Ypres until the 15th, taking over various
portions of the line every four days. Nothing of interest occurred
until the night of the 3rd, when it was found that the enemy had
undermined our front line. In order to destroy the enemy’s shaft, our
miners exploded a mine fifteen yards in front of our trenches. The
shock of the explosion was very great, and the crater that was formed
was roughly 200 feet in diameter and 80 to 100 feet deep. The far edge
of the crater was about seventy yards from the enemy’s trenches.
Immediately after the explosion Lieutenant Payne-Gallwey dashed over
with a N.C.O. and ten men, and occupied the far edge of the crater to
form a covering party, while Lieutenant Nairn, with a similar party,
occupied the near edge of the crater, and commenced placing
previously-filled sand-bags in position to form some cover while
digging. Each of these parties took with them long ropes, which proved
of the greatest assistance in keeping the men together and showing the
line along which they were to dig. One man shot in the chest fell
half-way down the crater, and was pulled up with this rope.

While the consolidation of the crater was in progress, Captain Layton
determined to link up the wire entanglements and bring them round in
front of the crater. He despatched another party from his company for
this purpose, and ordered them to report themselves to Lieutenant
Payne-Gallwey, but as the enemy was clearly visible, when the lights
went up, the erection of barbed wire entanglements within seventy
yards of their line was perilous work. The wiring of the crater,
however, was successfully accomplished, although the enemy threw a
quantity of bombs. Fortunately most of them pitched short, but seven
casualties occurred from splinters. Meanwhile Lieutenant H. H.
Sloane-Stanley on the right sent out similar wiring and digging
parties from No. 2 Company to join up with No. 3 Company, and the two
parties had got within thirty yards of each other when they were
discovered by the Germans, and a storm of bullets from the enemy’s
machine-guns put an end to the work. The trench between the two
companies had, however, been finished, and as there was no immediate
hurry about the wire, the parties were withdrawn.

General Heyworth the next day, in a letter reporting the incident,
wrote:

     I personally inspected the crater this morning and was
     enabled to walk through the trench which was dug, and which
     now connects H.17 to H.19. The work done last night reflects
     the greatest credit on those officers and men who took part
     in it, more especially on the wiring party, who for some
     time had to work under the most trying circumstances, as the
     Germans turned a machine-gun on them. It was in this party
     that all the casualties occurred. The Officer Commanding the
     4th Battalion Grenadier Guards must also be congratulated on
     the excellent arrangements made. The defence of this
     sub-sector has been considerably strengthened by this trench.

This was the last time General Heyworth saw the 4th Battalion, for he
was killed on the 9th whilst going round the trenches of the 1st
Battalion Grenadiers.[1]

On the 18th the 4th Battalion retired to Poperinghe by train, and on
the 19th marched to Wormhoudt, and remained there till the end of the
month, going into the trenches in various parts of the line, where it
was continually under shell-fire, but nothing of interest appears to
have happened.

[Sidenote: June.]

On June 1 the 4th Battalion moved to Poperinghe again, and was
employed on fatigues and digging. On the 5th Second Lieutenant J. B.
M. Burke and Second Lieutenant C. S. Nash arrived, and on the 7th the
Battalion marched to Honbeghem. The next day after a march of fifteen
miles, it moved to Tatinghem, and on the 17th returned to Poperinghe.
These were two long, hot marches, but no man fell out on the line of
march either day. On the 18th the Battalion moved up to the Canal Bank
at Ypres, and then back into the trenches on the right of R sector,
with the Battalion Headquarters at Irish Farm. The line was very much
disconnected, and consisted chiefly of a chain of posts, most of which
were in bad order, while what trenches there were, were mostly
derelict, and required a good deal of work. On the 28th Lieutenant H.
H. Sloane-Stanley took out a patrol with the object of capturing an
enemy post, but it was surprised by one of the enemy’s patrols, which
opened fire on it, wounding every man in the left party of the patrol.
One wounded man was left behind when the party retired, and although
Lieutenant Sloane-Stanley, Lance-Corporal Holland, and Private Heap
returned and searched for him, he was never found.

[Sidenote: July.]

After four very wet days in the trenches the 4th Battalion retired to
Ypres for four days’ rest, and on the 4th returned for two nights to
the trenches. The days spent in the trenches proved uneventful, but on
the 7th a raid was made on a part of the enemy’s line known as the
Canadian Dug-outs. A party under Lieutenant H. H. Sloane-Stanley and
Second Lieutenant D. O. Constable was sent out, and crawled up quite
close to the enemy’s position. Unfortunately the ground was very wet
and muddy, and this made a noiseless advance a matter of some
difficulty. There seems no doubt that the enemy heard it, and took
precautions. The barrage was timed to commence at 1.5 A.M., and this
was to be the signal for the assault. At 1 A.M. the Battery covering
the Twentieth Division on the right opened fire, and the raiding party
mistook this for their barrage. Immediately Lieutenant Sloane-Stanley
and Second Lieutenant D. O. Constable sprang to their feet, and were
about to lead the assault when they found themselves confronted at
fifteen paces by a party of the enemy who opened a sharp fire on them.
Fortunately the shooting was very wild, and only four men were
wounded. The fighting then resolved itself into a bombing and
Lewis-gun contest, but the Grenadiers were well hidden and suffered no
loss. Lieutenant Sloane-Stanley’s orders were not to assault unless it
could be done by surprise, and he therefore decided to withdraw his
party four at a time, covered by the Lewis gunners, who behaved with
great coolness. So successfully did they cover the retreat that the
whole party returned without loss. This raid alarmed the enemy, who
opened a heavy bombardment on our line, during which 4 men were killed
and 18 wounded, in addition to Captain M. Chapman, who was struck by
splinters of a shell in the leg and hand.

On the 8th the Battalion retired to Poperinghe, and on the 10th Second
Lieutenant L. R. Abel-Smith joined the Battalion. The first
anniversary of the formation of the Battalion was celebrated on the
15th in a befitting manner, and a programme suitable for the occasion
was carried out. At the men’s dinners at 12.30 free beer and extra
vegetables were issued. In the afternoon there was a football match
between the right half and left half battalions, followed at 5 P.M. by
a sergeants’ and corporals’ dinner, At 6.15 there was a Battalion
concert, after which the officers had a dinner. Lord Cavan, who
attended the football match, gave away the prizes, and afterwards
addressed the Battalion. He visited the N.C.O.’s at dinner, and made
them a short speech on the work done by the Division, giving especial
praise to the Battalion for its initiative in raids and patrols.
Major-General G. Feilding and Brigadier-General C. Corkran attended
the officers’ dinner.

That night the 4th Battalion moved up again into the line, and became
the right reserve Battalion, Nos. 1 and 2 Companies going into
dug-outs on the canal bank, and Nos. 3 and 4 remaining at Château
Elverdinghe, which was a large and comfortable house with a park and
gardens. The shelling was continuous, and even back at the Château the
shells fell at times in large numbers. On the 19th “a dummy raid” was
carried out with the object of surprising the enemy with artillery
fire when he expected an infantry attack. All the usual preparations
for an attack were gone through, and at 12.30 A.M. our guns, assisted
by the Belgian artillery, opened an intense bombardment for three
minutes on a selected portion of the enemy’s front line, while the
infantry indulged in a rapid fire supplemented by Lewis guns. After
three minutes the fire was lifted on the enemy’s second and third
lines, following the procedure observed when an infantry attack was
about to be launched. It was then hoped that the Germans would come
out of their dug-outs and man their trenches in order to repel the
attack. The artillery at once shortened their range, and gave the
front German trenches a sound shelling. The result of this manœuvre
was of course unknown, but judging by the very feeble reply made by
the enemy, the ruse must have been fairly successful.

Second Lieutenant G. H. T. Paton joined the Battalion on the 23rd, and
Second Lieutenant A. C. Flower on the 24th. Nothing of interest
occurred during the days the Battalion was in the trenches until the
26th, when a party of the enemy raided No. 2 Company trench. About
half-a-dozen Germans suddenly got in over the parapet and bombed a
working party, which was completely taken by surprise. Second
Lieutenant Maclear, hearing the bombing, rushed to the spot, and was
instantly killed by a bomb thrown at close quarters. But the German
occupation of the trench was only momentary, for bombing parties soon
arrived from the right and left, and ejected the raiders, who did not
wait but made their escape as fast as they could in the darkness.
Second Lieutenant Maclear was an officer who could be ill spared, as
he had proved himself to be absolutely fearless and self-reliant, and
his loss was felt by every one in the Battalion. Captain Layton was
hit in the foot during the repulse of the enemy’s raid, and Sergeant
Aiers, senior sergeant of the Battalion, was wounded for the third
time.

[Sidenote: Aug.]

The Guards Division now left the Ypres area and moved down farther
south by easy stages. Having been relieved by the 1st Battalion
Hampshire Regiment, the 4th Battalion Grenadiers marched to
Poperinghe, where they entrained for Bollezeele and then marched to
Millain. During the first fortnight in August they moved _via_
Bollezeele, Millain, Arqueves, Mailly-Mallet to the line of trenches
at Beaumont-Hamel. On the 7th Lieutenant J. F. J. Joicey-Cecil and
Second Lieutenant R. Y. T. Kendall arrived, and on the 18th Captain C.
Mitchell, Lieutenant R. Farquhar, and Second Lieutenant J. W. F.
Selby-Lowndes joined the Battalion. The four days spent in the
trenches at Beaumont-Hamel proved uneventful, although there was a
good deal of shelling in addition to the Minenwerfers. On the 19th the
Battalion started off for the Somme area, but this necessitated going
a long way round by Vauchelles, Gezaincourt, Vignacourt to Ville. Here
it rested for ten days, and on September 8 moved to Carnoy. On August
31 Captain E. G. Spencer-Churchill joined the Battalion.



CHAPTER XIX

THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME


A new stage, and a very distinct and important stage, in the Allied
operations in the West was marked by the battle of the Somme.

It was at last understood, in the summer of 1916, that spasmodic
attacks on the German trenches did little to gain any real and
comprehensive success, and that, in order to prevent the enemy moving
his reserves from one front to another, a simultaneous assault by all
the Allies was necessary.

In accord with this view the Allies at the beginning of the year
accepted the principle of an offensive campaign, and as the objective
for the British and French advance Sir Douglas Haig and General Joffre
selected the Somme area. All idea of “breaking through” had by now
been abandoned. Such a thing was no longer regarded as possible in the
West, and the plan adopted was one more suited to modern conditions of
war and more economical of human life. The objects of the offensive
were to relieve Verdun, to prevent the transfer of German troops
elsewhere, and to wear down the resistance of the enemy on the Western
front.

Conditions had changed, too, in other ways. The British Army had been
slowly gaining strength, and the old Army had given place to the new.
There were now fifty divisions in the field. At the same time, the
supply of ammunition had been steadily increasing, and, thanks to the
patriotism of the trade unions and the splendid performances of the
workers, immense quantities of guns and shells were pouring into
France. Consequently there was no reason why a general attack should
not be made on the Western front, although, as Sir Douglas Haig
pointed out in his despatch, he considered it advisable to postpone it
as long as possible.

During the gigantic battle, which began on July 1 and lasted till
November 18, the fighting was continuous. The German positions were
amazingly strong. First came a network of trenches, well provided with
bomb-proof shelters and protected in front by wire entanglements, many
of which were in two belts forty yards broad and built of iron stakes,
interlaced with barbed wire, often as thick as a man’s finger. Behind
these lines the enemy’s strongholds had been reinforced with every
device of military ingenuity――woods and villages turned into
fortresses, cellars filled with machine-guns and trench mortars,
dug-outs connected by elaborate passages. The enormous power of modern
weapons of defence had been used to the utmost. In fact, the whole
line was as nearly impregnable as Nature, art, and the unstinted
labour of close on two years could make it. And undoubtedly the
Germans believed it impregnable.

The first phase of the battle took place at the beginning of July, and
although the attacks in the northern sector were unsuccessful, the
armour was pierced; while in the south our troops secured Mametz,
Montauban, Fricourt, Contalmaison, and Trônes Wood. On July 14 and the
three following days, the capture of the enemy’s second line on a
front of three miles gave us possession of the main plateau between
Delville Wood and Bazentin-le-Petit.

The long and severe struggle, which was the second phase, began on
July 18 and culminated on September 15 with the fall of Ginchy, after
Pozières, Delville Wood, Guillemont, Falfemont Farm, and Leuze Wood
had been taken in succession. But although the main ridge from
Delville Wood to the road above Mouquet Farm was secured, Morval on
the right and Thiepval on the left remained in German hands.

In the third phase Flers, High Wood, Martinpuich, Courcelette, and the
Quadrilateral came into our hands one after another, and on September
25 Morval, Lesbœufs, and Gueudecourt were secured by the British Army,
while the French took Combles. During October Thiepval was taken, and
also Eaucourt l’Abbaye and Le Sars, while in November, as the outcome
of an advance on both sides of the Ancre, we captured St. Pierre
Divion, Beaucourt, and Beaumont-Hamel.

Thus all our principal objects were achieved, in spite of the fact
that the Germans were able to mass more than half their army upon this
part of their front. The British Army took 38,000 prisoners, including
over 800 officers; also 29 heavy guns, 96 field-guns and
field-howitzers, 136 trench mortars, and 514 machine-guns.

The battle was marked by the sudden appearance of the Tanks. So well
had their secret been kept that until they came upon the battlefield
the Germans had no idea of their existence. “The Machine-gun Corps,
Heavy Section” was the official title of these heavy armoured cars
which could move anywhere, over trenches and through wire
entanglements, pushing down walls and even houses; they contained a
garrison of six men with machine-guns and 6-pdr. guns. So many legends
had grown up of their supernatural powers that their actual début
caused a certain disappointment. But although in some parts of the
battlefield they failed us, some of them did wonders, and many of the
strongholds in the German line could never have been taken without
their help.

The net result of the battle was a brilliant victory for the British
Army, for not only was a large tract of ground captured from the
enemy, but the three objects which we had set out to gain were fully
attained. Verdun was relieved of pressure, the main portion of the
German Army was detained on the Western front, and a crippling blow
was struck at the enemy forces. It was clearly shown that, on anything
like equal terms, the British could drive back the German Army,
sheltered even by the strongest entrenchments.

As the area and duration of modern battles are immense, a long time
naturally elapses before their effects are felt by the losing side.
Formerly battles lasted only a few days, and their results were seen
immediately in the retirement of the beaten army. After the battle of
the Somme, however, nothing happened at first, and it was not until
six months later that the Germans found that their positions had
become untenable, and a general retirement was advisable.


THE GUARDS DIVISION AT THE SOMME

[Sidenote: Sept.]

Nothing has ever been done by battalions of the Guards finer than the
part they took in the battle of the Somme. It was not until the
beginning of September that the Guards Division arrived in the Somme
area, so it was not present at the first two phases of the battle. But
in the attacks of September 15 and 25 the men covered themselves with
glory; their discipline and coolness under fire were magnificent, and
they captured lines which had up to then been considered impregnable.
The final assault of Lesbœufs was one of the most successful
operations of the war.

Not only were the staff arrangements admirable, but the co-operation
between infantry and artillery proved in every way perfect. Against
the unflinching attack of the Division nothing could stand; the mass
of shells poured over by the German artillery, the hail of bullets
from their machine-guns, and the rifle-fire of their infantry in the
trenches, were all powerless to check it. The men were splendid: it
made not a scrap of difference whether they had officers or not,
whether they were with their own units or mixed up with other
regiments. Nothing could stop them. When the 3rd Brigade went up, the
battle had already been raging for over two months; and the Germans
were then busily but vainly carrying out counter-attacks, in the hope
of re-taking some of the ground that had been wrested from them.
Consequently the two battalions sent forward came in for some very
stiff fighting, especially the Welsh Guards, who went through some
anxious moments owing to the advanced position they were occupying.
They were fiercely attacked by large bodies of the enemy, but, with
the help of one company of the 1st Battalion Grenadiers, managed to
hold their own. Meanwhile the 4th Battalion Grenadiers――the other
battalion sent up from the 3rd Brigade――held an uncomfortable position
near the Quadrilateral, to the right and in rear of the Welsh Guards.

Parts of the line had also to be straightened, and “pockets” of
Germans to be cleared away before the general attack of the 15th; and
for this task were detailed those battalions from the 1st and 2nd
Brigades which would not be in the front line on the 15th. There were
some closely-contested bombing fights, supported by artillery, in the
parts of the line that needed straightening, and these operations were
all successfully carried out.

On the 12th Major-General G. Feilding issued the following orders:

     THE GUARDS DIVISION ORDER, NO. 76

     1. The Fourth Army will attack the enemy’s defences between
     Combles Ravine and Martinpuich on Z day with the object of
     seizing Morval, Lesbœufs, Gueudecourt, and Flers, and to break
     through the enemy’s system of defence.

     The French are undertaking an offensive simultaneously on the
     South and the Reserve Army on the North.

     2. The attack will be pushed with the utmost vigour all along the
     line until the most distant objectives are reached. The failure
     of one unit on the flank is not to prevent other units pushing on
     to their final objective, as it is by such means that those units
     who have failed will be assisted to advance.

     3. _Preliminary Bombardment._――(_a_) Commencing on the 12th
     September a bombardment and wire-cutting on the hostile defensive
     system will take place from 6 A.M. to 6.30 daily.

     (_b_) The preliminary bombardment on the day of the attack will
     be similar to that of previous days, there being no further
     increase of fire previous to zero.

     (_c_) At 6.30 each evening from the 12th September inclusive
     night firing will commence, and continue till 6 A.M., lethal
     shells being used.

     4. (_a_) The Sixth Division is to attack on the right and the
     Fourteenth Division on the left.

     (_b_) The 2nd Guards Brigade will attack on the right of the
     Division, the 1st Guards Brigade on the left. The 3rd Guards
     Brigade will be in Divisional Reserve.

     5. _Forming-up Areas._――Forming-up areas are shown on attached
     maps. The 1st and 2nd Guards Brigades will allot a forming-up
     area for the 75th and 76th Field Companies R.E. respectively in
     their forming-up areas.

     Instructions as to movements of troops to their forming-up areas
     will be issued separately.

     6. The objectives allotted to the Guards Division and
     neighbouring divisions are shown on attached map.

          First objective is marked Green.
          Second      ”       ”     Brown.
          Third       ”       ”     Blue.
          Fourth      ”       ”     Red.

     7. (_a_) 50 per cent Field Artillery covering the Division will
     be used for creeping barrage, and 50 per cent for stationary
     barrage.

     (_b_) Details of the stationary barrages will be issued later. In
     all cases the stationary barrage will lift back when the creeping
     barrage reaches it.

     (_c_) At zero the creeping barrage will open 100 yards in front
     of our front trenches, and will advance at the rate of 50 yards
     per minute until it is 200 yards beyond the first objective, when
     it will become stationary. At zero + 1 hour the creeping barrage
     will become intense on the line 200 yards in front of first
     objective, and will creep forward at the rate of 50 yards per
     minute in front of that portion of the 1st Guards Brigade which
     is to advance to the second objective.

     (_d_) At zero + 1 hour and 10 minutes the creeping barrage will
     become intense on a line 200 yards in front of the first
     objective as far north as T.86.4.6, thence on a line 200 yards in
     front of the second objective, and will advance at the rate of 30
     yards per minute until it has passed 200 yards beyond the third
     objective, when it will become stationary.

     This barrage is to cover the advance of the tanks. There will be
     no creeping barrage in front of infantry during their advance to
     third objective, which commences at zero + 2 hours.

     (_e_) At zero + 3 hours and 30 minutes the creeping barrage will
     become intense on a line 200 yards in front of third objective,
     and will advance at the rate of 30 yards per minute until it has
     passed 200 yards beyond fourth objective, when it will become
     stationary. This barrage is to cover the advance of the tanks.
     There will be no creeping barrage in front of the infantry during
     the advance on the fourth objective, which commences at zero + 4
     hours and 30 minutes.

     (_f_) In the attack on the first and second objectives gaps of
     100 yards wide will be left in the creeping barrage for the
     routes of the tanks.

     8. The flow of troops to the 2nd Guards Brigade and 1st Guards
     Brigade must be maintained so as to ensure a strong attack being
     pressed against each successive objective. Sufficient men will be
     left in each line captured to clear it of the enemy. No troops of
     the 2nd and 1st Guards Brigades will be detailed to remain behind
     in objectives after they have been passed for purposes of
     consolidation.

     The task of the two leading Brigades is to press the attack
     through to their ultimate objectives with every means at their
     disposal.

     9. The 3rd Guards Brigade will advance at zero + 1 hour and 30
     minutes until its leading troops reach the south-western
     outskirts of Ginchy, when the Brigade will halt and await orders.

     Special instructions as to action of Reserve Brigade will be
     issued.

     10. Tanks will be employed to operate with the attack;
     instructions as to their movements are attached.

     (Remainder of orders related to R.E., R.A., Aircraft and
     Transport.)

        C. HEYWOOD, Lieut.-Col.,
     General Staff, Guards Division.

    _September 12, 1916._


So great was the danger of battalions being practically annihilated in
an attack that orders had been issued for a certain nucleus of
officers and N.C.O.’s to be left with the Transport, whenever a
battalion went into action, so as to make sure of a sufficient number
surviving to carry on the work. Accordingly on this occasion the
Second in Command, the junior Captains of companies, the Battalion and
Company Sergeant-Majors and Quartermaster-Sergeants in each battalion
were left behind.

At 6.20 on the morning of the 15th the artillery bombardment ceased,
and the Guards Division advanced, preceded by a creeping barrage, with
Pereira’s Brigade on the left and Ponsonby’s Brigade on the right,
while Corkran’s Brigade remained in reserve. In the front line were
the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions of the Coldstream and the 3rd
Battalion Grenadiers. The advance of the three Coldstream battalions
was a wonderful sight, and they carried everything before them, but in
their eagerness to reach the enemy lost direction and went too far to
the left. Meanwhile the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers on the right kept
straight on, so there was a considerable gap between it and the three
battalions of Coldstream. Coming up through the German barrage, the
2nd Battalion Grenadiers, which was in support of the 2nd Coldstream,
completely lost sight of the Coldstream battalions. In accordance with
its orders it advanced with its right on the Ginchy――Lesbœufs road,
but on reaching the first objective it found it occupied by the enemy
instead of by the Coldstream, as it expected, and suffered heavy loss.
Under the impression that it was following in the wake of the 2nd
Battalion Coldstream, it was advancing in artillery formation, and had
to form line when within a few yards of the enemy’s trench, which was
untouched, as the Coldstream battalions had passed farther to the
left.

When the first objective was secured, the order from right to left was
as follows: the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers, the 2nd Battalion
Grenadiers, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalion Coldstream. Between the
first two objectives there were several intermediate lines of
trenches, all of which were most confusing for the battalions in
front. The Coldstream battalions mistook these intermediate lines for
objectives, and thought that they had reached the third objective when
they were really between the first and second objectives. Their real
position, however, was correctly reported by the air scouts.

Meantime the Quadrilateral――a powerful system of redoubts――on the
right had made any advance by the Sixth Division impossible, and on
the left also the Fourteenth Division had been held up by some strong
points in the enemy’s line. The result was that the Guards Division
had both flanks in the air, and was subjected to a withering fire
almost from the start. The 3rd Battalion Grenadiers on the right and
the 3rd Battalion Coldstream on the left were obliged to throw out
protective flanks, and so had some difficulty in keeping pace with the
battalions in the centre.

It was some time before the two brigades were firmly established in
the first objective, as there were parts of the line in which some
Germans had been left, more especially in the space reserved for the
tanks, which unfortunately never arrived. However, the 1st and 2nd
Battalions Coldstream in the centre pushed on and gained the second
objective, while the battalions right and left threw back protective
flanks. The second objective was a trench running into the first
objective, and only concerned the Coldstream battalions on the left.

On the next day, the 16th, Corkran’s Brigade was ordered to advance
through the leading brigades and continue the attack. But it did not
start till the middle of the day, and after having gone some distance
was held up by machine-gun fire and the men were told to dig
themselves in where they were.

The whole Division was taken out of the line on the night of the 18th
and remained resting in bivouacs until the 20th, when each brigade
sent battalions into the front line to dig assembly trenches and
straighten parts of the line. On the 22nd Major-General G. Feilding
issued the following orders:

     GUARDS DIVISION ORDER, NO. 82

     1. (_a_) The Fourth Army will renew the attack on Z day in
     combination with attacks by the French to the South and the
     Reserve Army to the North.

     (_b_) The objectives of the Fourteenth Corps include Morval and
     Lesbœufs, and those of the Fifteenth Corps Gueudecourt.

     (_c_) The attack of the Fourteenth Corps will be carried out by
     the Fifth Division on the right, the Sixth Division in the
     centre, and the Guards Division on the left. The Fifty-eighth
     Division will form a defensive flank to the south of the Fifth
     Division. The Twenty-first Division will be attacking on our
     left.

     2. The 1st Guards Brigade will attack on the right and the 3rd
     Guards Brigade on the left.

     The 2nd Guards Brigade (less one Battalion) will be in Divisional
     Reserve.

     1st Battalion 2nd Guards Brigade will be in Corps Reserve; 2nd
     Guards Brigade will notify Divisional Headquarters the name of
     the Battalion detailed.

     3. _Preliminary Bombardment._――A steady bombardment of hostile
     positions will be commenced at 7 A.M. on Z day, and will be
     continued to 6.30 P.M.; it will recommence at 6.30 A.M. on Z day.

     The ground in front and rear of the German trenches which are
     being bombarded will be searched occasionally with 18-pdr.
     shrapnel and H.E. shell.

     There will be no intensive fire previous to the hour of zero.
     Night firing will be carried out nightly between the hours of
     6.30 P.M. and 6.30 A.M.

     4. Forming-up areas are shown on the attached map. The 1st and
     3rd Guards Brigades will allot forming-up areas to the 75th and
     55th Field Companies R.E. respectively, within their areas.

     Instructions for movements to forming-up areas will be issued
     separately.

     5. Objectives allotted to the Guards Brigades and neighbouring
     Divisions, also the dividing lines, are shown on attached map.

          First objective is marked Green.
          Second      ”       ”     Brown.
          Third       ”       ”     Blue.

     6. The infantry will advance to the attack on the Green line at
     zero; to the attack on the Brown line at zero + 1 hour, and to
     the attack on the Blue line at zero + 2 hours.

     7. _Barrages_――

     (_a_) 50 per cent of the Field Artillery covering the Division
     will be used for the creeping barrage and 50 per cent for
     stationary barrage.

     (_b_) In all cases the stationary barrage will lift when the
     creeping barrage meets it.

     8. (_a_) At zero the creeping barrage will commence 100 yards in
     front of our front trenches. It will advance at the rate of 50
     yards per minute until it is 200 yards beyond the Green line,
     when it will become stationary.

     (_b_) At zero + 1 hour the creeping barrage will commence 200
     yards in front of the Green line and will advance at the rate of
     50 yards per minute until it has passed 200 yards beyond the
     Brown line, when it will become stationary.

     (_c_) At zero + 2 hours the creeping barrage will commence 200
     yards in front of the Brown line, and will advance at the rate of
     50 yards per minute until it has passed 200 yards beyond the Blue
     line, when it will become stationary.

     9. (_a_) The task of the two leading Guards Brigades is to press
     the attack through to the Blue line. A sufficient flow of troops
     must be maintained by the 1st and 2nd Guards Brigades from zero
     onwards to ensure that the attack made from the Brown line is
     strong and well supported.

     (_b_) Special arrangements must be made to deal with resistance
     in Lesbœufs and thus prevent any possibility of the enemy getting
     round our troops who have gained the Blue line.

     (_c_) The 1st and 3rd Guards Brigades will garrison and
     consolidate the Brown line with a portion of their reserves when
     the attack goes forward to the Blue line.

     (_d_) On gaining the Blue line, Battalions will be sent forward
     to any ground from which observation can be gained; such points
     will be consolidated and eventually joined up with our line.


On the 24th the Battalions that were to lead the attack took their
place in the line ready for the next day. The order of attack was for
the Fifty-sixth Division to form the right flank guarding Combles, the
Fifth Division to capture Morval, the Sixth Division to occupy the
southern end of Lesbœufs, and the Guards Division to take Lesbœufs.

In Pereira’s Brigade, which attacked on the right, the 2nd Battalion
Grenadiers and 1st Battalion Irish Guards were in the front line, and
were supported by the 2nd and 3rd Battalions Coldstream. In Corkran’s
Brigade on the left the 4th Battalion Grenadiers and 2nd Battalion
Scots Guards led, supported by the 1st Battalion Grenadiers and 1st
Battalion Welsh Guards. The orders of the two brigades differed. In
the 1st Guards Brigade the leading battalions were to take all the
objectives, and when they passed on the battalions in support were to
consolidate each line. In the 3rd Brigade the two leading battalions
were to take the first two objectives and then throw out a defensive
flank; the battalions in support were then to advance through them and
secure the third objective, one of these again throwing out a
defensive flank.

At 12.35 P.M. on the 25th the attack started, and in spite of the
wire, in some places intact, the first objective was secured. At 1.30
the advance to the second objective began. The battalions in front
suffered heavily, especially in officers, but by 1.45 the second
objective was in our hands. All this time the Twenty-first Division on
the left had been held up, and the left flank of the Guards Division
was consequently in the air. The 4th Grenadiers had therefore to throw
out a defensive flank to the left, which eventually became so long
that not only that battalion but also the Welsh Guards were employed
to guard it. Major-General Feilding regarded this defensive flank as
of the utmost importance, since it was from this quarter that a
counter-attack was expected. In some parts of the line the wire was
uncut, and the advance was retarded, but this did not prevent the
objectives being secured by the times specified in the orders.

As soon as we had gained the second objective, the 1st Battalion
Grenadiers and 1st Battalion Welsh Guards passed through the leading
battalions of Corkran’s Brigade and attacked Lesbœufs, while the 2nd
Battalion Grenadiers and 1st Battalion Irish Guards continued their
advance.

Thus with the 4th Battalion Grenadiers on the defensive flank there
were three Grenadier battalions engaged in the attack on the third
objective. The capture of Lesbœufs itself fell to the lot of the 1st
Battalion, and news was at once sent back that all the objectives had
been secured. The battalions in front appear to have been so elated by
their success that they asked for the cavalry to be allowed to go
through. But Lord Cavan, the Corps Commander, realised that it would
be madness to employ cavalry on such a limited front, and gave orders
that the leading battalions were to consolidate their position.


THE 2ND BATTALION

[Sidenote: 2nd Batt.]

Detached from the 1st Guards Brigade on August 31 the 2nd Battalion
Grenadiers had been sent up to Carnoy to dig in rear of the Twentieth
Division. It returned on September 3rd to Méaulte, where it underwent
a thorough course of training, something in the nature of a dress
rehearsal. Expert bombing officers gave instruction to every company
in the Brigade, so that each man had an opportunity of learning the
latest developments in bombing. All the battalions practised deploying
in artillery formation, attacking an imaginary line of trenches, and
then moving on immediately to a second objective. A great deal was
learned in the way of signalling, and trials were made of a system of
organising a single main trunk line, as central as possible, so as to
avoid having a number of defective lines to each unit. This line was
to consist of telephone or visual or relay posts――or, if possible, of
all three. Careful consideration was given to the difficult task of
getting the men across No Man’s Land, and every detail was rehearsed.
Later the whole Brigade was practised in the attack, and in
maintaining constant communication during an advance.

[Sidenote: Sept. 9.]

After a week the 1st Brigade received orders to proceed to Carnoy, and
all surplus kit and equipment were left behind in store. The 2nd
Battalion Grenadiers marched to Carnoy, and bivouacked not far from
the place where it had been at the beginning of the month.

[Sidenote: Sept. 11.]

On the 11th orders were received for the 1st Brigade to relieve the
left half of the 3rd Guards Brigade, while the 2nd Guards Brigade was
to take the place of the other half. These orders (given below) were
communicated to commanding officers at a conference held at Brigade
Headquarters.

Brigadier-General Pereira issued the following orders:

     1ST GUARDS BRIGADE ORDER, NO. 73

     1. The Fourth Army will attack the enemy’s defences between
     Combles Ravine and Martinpuich on Z day with the object of
     seizing Morval, Lesbœufs, Gueudecourt, and Flers, breaking
     through the enemy’s system of defence.

     The French are undertaking an offensive simultaneously on the
     south and the Reserve Army on the north.

     2. The attack will be pushed with the utmost vigour, all along
     the line, until the most distant objectives are reached.

     The failure of a unit on a flank is not to prevent other units
     pushing on to their final objectives, as it is by such means that
     these units, which have failed, will be assisted to advance.

     3. _Preliminary Bombardment._――(_a_) Commencing on the 12th
     September bombardment and wire-cutting on hostile defensive
     system will take place from 6 A.M. to 6.30 P.M. daily.

     (_b_) The preliminary bombardment on the day of the attack will
     be similar to that on previous days, there being no increase of
     fire previous to zero.

     (_c_) At 6.30 P.M. each evening from the 12th September
     inclusive, night firing will commence and continue till 6 A.M.
     Lethal shells will be used.

     4. (_a_) The 2nd Guards Brigade will attack on the right of the
     Division――the 1st Guards Brigade the left, and the 3rd Guards
     Brigade will be in divisional reserve.

     (_b_) The 4th Brigade of the Fourteenth Division will attack on
     the left of the 1st Guards Brigade.

     (_c_) Boundaries are shown on attached map.

     5. _Forming-up Areas._――Forming-up areas are shown on attached
     maps.

     Instructions as to movement of troops to their forming-up areas
     will be issued separately.

     6. Objectives allotted to Guards Brigades and neighbouring
     Divisions are shown on attached map.

          First objective is marked Green.
          Second      ”       ”     Brown.
          Third       ”       ”     Blue.
          Fourth      ”       ”     Red.

     7. The infantry will advance to the attack of the Green line at
     zero.
          To the attack of the Brown line at zero + 1 hour.
          To the attack of the Blue line at zero + 2 hours.
          To the attack of the Red line at zero + 4 hours and 30 minutes.

     8. _Artillery Barrages_――

     (_a_) 50 per cent of Field Artillery covering the Division will
     be used for creeping barrage, and 50 per cent for stationary
     barrage.

     (_b_) Details of stationary barrages will be issued later. In all
     cases the stationary barrages will lift back when the creeping
     barrage reaches it.

     (_c_) At zero the creeping barrage will open 100 yards in front
     of our trenches, and will advance at rate of 50 yards per minute
     until it is 200 yards beyond the first objective, when it will
     become stationary.

     At zero + 1 hour the creeping barrage will become intense on a
     line 200 yards in front of the first objective, and will creep
     forward at rate of 50 yards per minute in front of that portion
     of the 1st Guards Brigade which is to advance to the second
     objective.

     (_d_) At zero + 1 hour and 10 minutes the creeping barrage will
     become intense on a line 200 yards in front of the first
     objective as far north as T.8.b.4.6, thence on a line 200 yards
     in front of second objective, and will advance at rate of 30
     yards per minute until it has passed 200 yards beyond the third
     objective――when it will become stationary.

     This barrage is to cover the advance of the tanks.

     There will be no creeping barrage in front of the infantry during
     their advance to third objective, which commences at zero + 2
     hours.

     (_e_) At zero + 3 hours 30 minutes, the creeping barrage will
     become intense on a line 200 yards in front of the third
     objective――and will advance at rate of 30 yards per minute until
     it has passed 200 yards beyond fourth objective, when it will
     become stationary. This barrage is to cover the advance of the
     tanks.

     There will be no creeping barrage in front of the infantry during
     the advance to the fourth objective, which commences at zero + 4
     hours 30 minutes.

     (_f_) In the attack on first and second objectives gaps of 100
     yards wide will be left in the creeping barrage for the routes of
     the tanks.

     9. The attack will be carried out as follows:

     (_a_) The 2nd and 3rd Battalions Coldstream Guards will attack
     and capture the first, second, and third objectives. The dividing
     line between these battalions is shown on attached maps.

     (_b_) The 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards will move in rear of the
     2nd and 3rd Battalions Coldstream Guards. When the latter advance
     to the assault of the second objective the 2nd Battalion
     Grenadier Guards will occupy the first objective until the 1st
     Battalion Irish Guards have passed through them; they will then
     follow and support them in their attack on the fourth objective.

     The rôle of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards is to form a
     defensive flank, if necessary, and to support the attack of the
     1st Battalion Irish Guards in their attack on the fourth
     objective, with such troops as are not required for a defensive
     flank.

     (_c_) 1st Battalion Irish Guards will attack the fourth
     objective.

     (_d_) Machine-gun Coy. One section will accompany each battalion
     in the assault, and will be under the orders of the O.C.
     Battalion.

     (_e_) Stokes T.M. Battery. Four guns will accompany the 2nd
     Battalion Grenadier Guards in case it is necessary to form a
     defensive flank. They will not go farther than the second
     objective. They will act under the orders of the O.C. Battalion.

     The remaining four guns will be in the trench in which advanced
     Brigade Headquarters is situated, S.24.b.6.2.

     (_f_) The 75th Field Coy. and the four work platoons will remain
     in their forming-up area until further orders are received.

     10. _Formation of Attack._――The formation for the carrying out of
     the attack is shown on attached sketch.

     The 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards and 1st Battalion Irish Guards
     will move into line or small columns according as to whether they
     are under rifle-fire or not.

     11. The flow of troops will be continuous. This is to ensure a
     strong attack being pressed against each successive objective.

     Officers commanding battalions will call for support, if
     necessary, from the battalions immediately in rear of them. If
     necessary, men will be left in each line captured to clear it of
     the enemy, but troops will not be detailed to remain behind in
     objectives for purposes of consolidation, except that the 2nd and
     3rd Battalions Coldstream Guards will remain in the third
     objective ready to support the troops attacking the fourth
     objective.

     The task of the Brigade is to press the attack through to their
     ultimate objectives with every means at our disposal.

     12. Tanks will be employed to co-operate with the attack.
     Instructions as to their employment are attached.

     Instructions will be issued as to movement of tanks to their
     departure positions, and as to time of their advance to the
     various objectives.

     13. _Royal Flying Corps_――

     (_a_) 9th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps will have one Contact
     aeroplane in the air from zero to dark on Z day, and again from
     6.30 A.M. to 9 A.M. on Z + 1 days.

     (_b_) Flares will be lit as follows:
          (1) On obtaining each objective.
          (2) At 12 noon and 5 P.M. on Z day by leading troops.
          (3) At 6.30 A.M. on Z + 1 day by leading troops.

     Red flares will be used by infantry, Green flares by Cavalry.

     14. An orderly with a watch will visit all Battalion H.Q. about 1
     P.M. and 7 P.M. on Y day, so that time may be checked.

     15. Special instructions will be issued on the following subjects:
          (_a_) Medical arrangement.
          (_b_) Supply of rations, water, S.A.A., Light T.M. ammunition
                and hand grenades.
          (_c_) Communications.

     16. All transport will be packed up and ready to move forward at
     one hour’s notice after zero + 4 hours.

     The Brigade Transport officer will remain at Divisional
     Headquarters, Minden Post, from zero + 2 hours onwards.

     On Y day after 7.30 P.M. the road running north from cross-roads
     S.28.d.4.2 will be clear of all wheeled traffic.

     17. As soon as the final objectives have been captured by the
     infantry the cavalry will advance and seize the high ground
     Rocquigny――Villers-au-Flos――Riencourt-les-Bapaume――Bapaume.

     The Fourteenth Corps will be prepared to support the cavalry on
     the above line at the earliest possible moment.

     18. Prisoners will be sent _via_ Brigade Headquarters to
     Divisional Collecting Station at Crater Post A.8.a.6.3, where
     they will be taken over and searched under A.P.M. arrangements.

     Receipts will be given for prisoners and escorts will return to
     their units.

     All captured documents should be sent with prisoners to
     Divisional Collecting Station, whence they will be forwarded
     under Divisional arrangements.

     19. _Dumps._――R.E. dumps of sand-bags and wire have been
     established along the Guillemont――Waterlot Farm road in the
     Brigade area. A water dump is being established at Advanced
     Brigade Headquarters at S.24.b.6.1½.

     Dumps of bombs and S.A.A. are also being established along the
     Guillemont――Waterlot Farm road in the Brigade area.

     20. Brigade Headquarters will be established at S.24.b.6.1½ from
     9 P.M. to-night.

           M. B. SMITH, Captain,
     Brigade-Major, 1st Guards Brigade.

    _September 13, 1916._


[Illustration:

_S.A. Chandler & Co. Southampton, photographers_  _Emery Walker ph. sc._
_Lieutenant-General The Earl of Cavan. K.P., K.C.B._]

[Sidenote: Sept. 12.]

By September 12 the whole Brigade was fully equipped. To every
battalion had been issued bombs, sand-bags, distinguishing arm-bands,
rockets, flares, wire-cutters, etc., and all that remained to be done
was to fix the hour and the day of attack.

The 2nd Battalion Grenadiers took over the left half of the line
occupied by the 3rd Guards Brigade on the night of the 12th, while the
1st Battalion Irish Guards moved up in support to Trônes Wood and
Bernafay Wood. The 2nd and 3rd Battalions Coldstream, which were to
carry out the assault, remained resting at Carnoy till the last
moment, and the Brigade Headquarters moved up to a dummy trench
between Trônes and Bernafay Woods.

The following message from Lieut.-General Lord Cavan was circulated:

     The Corps Commander knows that there are difficulties to be
     cleared up on the left and in front of the 1st Guards
     Brigade, and on the right of the 2nd Guards Brigade, but the
     Commander-in-Chief is of opinion that the general situation
     is so favourable that every effort must be made to take
     advantage of it and that tanks should carry out a special
     programme before zero to deal with these unsatisfactory
     positions. The Commander-in-chief states that there were
     only two German divisions in reserve on a large front, and
     that one of them had recently had enormous casualties, and
     the other heavy casualties.

     The French operations yesterday have been most successful,
     and they have captured Bouchavesnes, which was their
     objective.

[Sidenote: Sept. 13.]

Next night the 2nd Battalion Grenadiers, which was holding the
northern sector of the Ginchy line, was instructed to go out and
straighten the line, so that the battalions which were to attack on
the following day should not be held up at the very start.
Lieut.-Colonel C. de Crespigny issued these orders:

     1. In order to have a good “jumping-off” place for X day it is
     essential to gain ground forward and dig a trench running from
     T.13.b.4.9. to T.14.a.2½.2½. It will be necessary to establish a
     post at the top of the cutting at T.13.b.4.9 and to drive the
     Germans from the trench T.13.b.6.4. point of orchard T.14.a.5.5.

     2. No. 4 will carry this out to-night. Time given later.

     3. Two Stokes guns and one Lewis gun will report to you about 9
     P.M. to-night. The Stokes gun will be used previous to the
     attack. If possible a position will be chosen by O.C. No. 4 in
     readiness.

     4. No. 3 Company will be in readiness to move up to No. 4
     Company’s present position, and the route should be reconnoitred
     by daylight if possible. No. 2 Company will watch the left flank
     of No. 4.

     5. No. 3 Company will detail small parties after dark to carry up
     fifty boxes of bombs from H.Q. to No. 4. A party will also be
     required to carry up S.A.A., but this will be called for when
     S.A.A. is available.

     6. No. 2 Company will be prepared to dig through the sunken road
     and join up with the new left of No. 4.

     7. O.C. No. 2 Company will send up one Lewis gun after dark to
     report to O.C. No. 4.

     8. All companies will detail two men to report at H.Q. as guides
     for ration parties after dark.

     9. O.C. Nos. 2 and 3 Companies will meet C.O. at H.Q. of No. 4
     Company at 8.0. P.M.

     W. R. BAILEY, Captain and Adjutant,
       2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards.


As it was known that the enemy held the point of the Ginchy orchard,
and that they had machine-guns in the Ginchy――Flers sunken road, about
four hundred yards north of that village, Captain G. Harcourt-Vernon,
who commanded No. 4 Company, detailed two platoons under Second
Lieutenant T. W. Minchin for the operation, while No. 2 was to protect
their left flank and keep touch with them. Lieutenant M. H. Macmillan
was ordered to bring up two platoons from No. 3 Company to support No.
4 Company and take over the line evacuated by Lieutenant Minchin’s
platoons.

The enterprise was difficult, as the left flank had to advance farther
than the right in order to form a line facing north-east. By way of
artillery preparation, thirty or forty shrapnel shells were fired at
the German trench just north of the orchard, but this had the effect
only of putting the enemy on his guard. Unfortunately, too, it was a
bright moonlight night, and the attacking party showed up distinctly.

The two platoons under Second Lieutenant Minchin advanced, and cleared
the orchard of all Germans, in spite of a heavy rifle and machine-gun
fire, which caused several casualties. Not content with this, they
tried to push on farther, but were fiercely resisted by the Germans,
and failed to make good any more ground. As it was imperatively
necessary to have a trench dug before daylight, Second Lieutenant
Minchin decided to hold a line on the edge of the orchard, and the
trench was completed by the next morning. The task assigned to the
party had been carried out, and there seemed no necessity to attempt
anything further.

That evening the following confidential message was received:

     Day of attack (Z day) will be 15th Sept. Zero hours will
     probably be in the early morning.

[Sidenote: Sept. 14.]

All next day the 2nd Battalion remained in the front trenches, where
it was very heavily shelled. One shell pitched on the headquarters of
No. 1 Company; Company Sergeant-Major Percival was mortally wounded
and died later, and Captain A. F. R. Wiggins was so severely shaken
that he retired suffering from shell shock. Company Sergeant-Major
Gudgeon of No. 3 Company was buried by another shell, and had to be
sent back. These losses were particularly regrettable, just as the
Battalion was going into action.

The Battalion was relieved in the evening by the 2nd and 3rd
Battalions Coldstream, and went into bivouac just behind Ginchy, where
rations and rum were served out. The men had been three days in the
trenches, and Lieut.-Colonel de Crespigny and the Adjutant, Captain
Bailey, hardly had a moment’s sleep during that time. It was bitterly
cold at night, and the men, who had no greatcoats, suffered very much.

The time appointed for the attack was revealed during the afternoon,
in this message: “Zero hour to-morrow, September 15, will be at 6.20
A.M.” As shown in the above orders, four successive objectives had
been allotted to the Brigade. The first was about 1200 yards distant,
and the second 1500――but this concerned only the left battalion of the
Brigade. The third was 2500 yards off, while the fourth or final
objective, which included the northern outskirts of Lesbœufs, was no
less than 3500 yards away. The infantry were to advance to attack the
first objective at 6.20 A.M., to the second at 7.20, the third at
8.20, and the final objective at 10.50. The front allotted to the
Brigade was 500 yards.

The 2nd and 3rd Battalions Coldstream were to assault the first,
second, and third objectives. The 2nd Battalion Grenadiers was to
follow them, and form a defensive flank to either side, if required.
On reaching the first objective the 2nd Battalion Grenadiers was to
remain there until the Irish Guards passed through them, and if the
flanks were all secure was to follow on and support them. The 1st
Battalion Irish Guards was to pass through the 2nd and 3rd Battalions
Coldstream at the third objective, and take and consolidate the fourth
objective.

Each battalion had a section of machine-guns attached to it, and was
told to place two guns on the flanks of the battalion and two at the
Battalion Headquarters. The 2nd Battalion Grenadiers had four Stokes
guns, while four more were kept in reserve. Three tanks were to start
on the left outside the Brigade area, and were to pass into it north
of the cutting, which was known to be a troublesome place, on the left
flank.

Detailed instructions for the attack were issued in the following
operation orders by Lieut.-Colonel C. R. C. de Crespigny, Commanding
2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards:

     1. The Battalion will be relieved to-night by the 2nd and 3rd
     Battalions Coldstream Guards and part of the 41st Brigade on the
     left, and will form up on the assembly area S.W. of Ginchy.

     2. Companies will detail guides as follows to be at H.Q. at 7.30
     P.M.:

          No. 1 Company, 4 guides.
          No. 2    ”     4   ”
          No. 4    ”     8   ”

     No. 3 Company will not wait to be relieved, but will move off to
     place of assembly east of the Waterlot――Guillemont road. On
     relief, Nos. 1, 2, and 4 Companies will march to H.Q. of No. 3
     Company, where they will draw rations and water. They will then
     move on to their positions in assembly area, where fresh meat,
     sandwiches, and rum will be issued.

     3. The assembly march will be carried out in absolute silence,
     and there must be no smoking, and no lights shown. Between dawn
     and zero (about 6 A.M.) there will be no movement.

     4. Companies will each detail one N.C.O. to report at H.Q. of No.
     3 Company at 6 P.M. to get rations ready for issue, also one
     officer to be at H.Q. No. 3 Company at 4 P.M. to be shown
     forming-up positions. Companies are responsible for reconnoitring
     the route to H.Q. No. 3 from their present positions.

     5. _Dress._――All men will carry two bandoliers S.A.A. and two
     Mills bombs. This must be made up before leaving the trenches.
     Every third man will carry a shovel, every fourth man a pick. Two
     days’ rations will be carried.

     6. _Forming-up._――Companies will form up as under on the assembly:

                _350 Yards Frontage_
          No. 1 Coy.      No. 2 Coy.      A.
                 100 yards.
          No. 3 Coy.      No. 4 Coy.      B.

     Line of platoons at forty yards’ intervals. G.G. lines are A and
     B. Lateral pegs on the company frontage at ten yards apart.
     Forward direction time boards are five yards apart, one central
     line and two on tanks.

     7. The Brigade will attack at zero on the morning of 15th on the
     left of the Division. Six tanks will co-operate on this
     Divisional front.

          First objective T.8.a.2.5――T.8.d.3.7.
          Second objective T.2.a.9.4――T.8.b.2.3.
          Third objective T.3.a.5.9――T.3.L.2.6.
          Fourth objective N.3.a.0.9――N.34.C.9.0.

     8. Infantry will advance to the attack of――

          The first objective at zero.
          The second objective at zero + 1 hour.
          The third objective at zero + 2 hours.
          The fourth objective at zero + 4 hours 30 minutes.

     9. The attack will be carried out as follows:

     The 2nd and 3rd Battalions Coldstream will attack and capture the
     first, second, and third objectives. The 2nd Battalion Grenadier
     Guards will move in rear of the two Coldstream battalions. When
     the latter advance to the assault of the second objective this
     battalion will occupy the first objective until the 1st Battalion
     Irish Guards has passed through them. They will then follow and
     support the Irish Guards in their attack on the fourth objective.
     The rôle of this Battalion is to form a defensive flank, if
     necessary, and to support the attack of the Irish Guards. The
     Irish Guards will attack the fourth objective.

     10. The Battalion will advance in the same formation as it forms
     up (two lines at 100 yards’ distance of two companies each in
     lines of platoons at 40 yards’ interval). If it comes under rifle
     or machine-gun fire it will deploy into extended order.

     11. When the Coldstream have captured the first objective the
     Battalion will halt until zero + 1 hour, probably in the old
     British front line.

     12. Battalion Headquarters will move about the centre of the two
     rear companies. A dressing-station will probably be established
     in the old British front line.

     13. As soon as the final objectives have been captured by the
     infantry, the cavalry will advance and seize the high ground
     ahead.

     14. The first line transport will be packed up and ready to move
     forward at one hour’s notice after zero + 4 hours.

       W. R. BAILEY, Capt. Adjt.,
     2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards.

    _September 14, 1916._


The officers of the 2nd Battalion who took part in the operations from
September 15 to 17 were:

     Lieut.-Colonel C. R. C. de Crespigny, D.S.O.  Commanding Officer.
     Capt. Viscount Lascelles                      Second in Command.
     Capt. the Hon. W. R. Bailey                   Adjutant.
     Capt. C. N. Newton                            No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. P. M. Walker                            ”      ”
     Lieut. A. T. A. Ritchie, M.C.                  ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. C. C. Cubitt                        ”      ”
     Capt. A. K. S. Cunninghame                    No. 2 Company.
     Capt. M. K. A. Lloyd                           ”      ”
     Lieut. T. Parker Jervis (Pioneer Platoon)      ”      ”
     Lieut. N. McK. Jesper                          ”      ”
     Capt. W. H. Beaumont-Nesbitt                  No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. H. F. C. Crookshank (Lewis Guns)        ”      ”
     Lieut. M. H. Macmillan                         ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. J. Arbuthnott                       ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. A. Hasler                           ”      ”
     Capt. G. C. FitzH. Harcourt-Vernon            No. 4 Company.
     2nd Lieut. T. W. Minchin                       ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. D. Harvey                           ”      ”
     Capt. J. Andrews, R.A.M.C.                    Medical Officer.

[Sidenote: Sept. 15.]

At 5 A.M. on the 15th the tanks were seen moving slowly forward on the
left flank of the Brigade, but they apparently aroused no suspicion,
and did not attract any fire. Punctually at 6.20, the zero hour, the
two Coldstream battalions started off, and immediately came under a
terrific fire from the enemy’s machine-guns. The unevenness of the
“jumping-off line,” and the total absence of any recognisable
landmarks in that desert of shell-holes, made a certain loss of
direction inevitable. The leaders of the assault were mown down, but
the remainder, undeterred by losses, pushed on until they were within
twenty yards of the sunken road. It was a red-letter day in the
history of the Coldstream, for with the 1st Battalion Coldstream from
the 2nd Brigade there were three battalions of Coldstream all in line.

When they reached the sunken road there was a momentary check, as the
leading companies had lost a large number of officers or
non-commissioned officers. Lieut.-Colonel J. Campbell saw that to
pause for a moment in the attack would mean failure, and dashed
forward. Knowing that in the infernal roar of rifle and machine-gun
fire no commands could possibly be heard, he had provided himself with
a hunting-horn, which he now blew. The familiar sound, piercing the
din, instantly arrested the attention of the men, and they at once
followed their Colonel. Straight into the midst of the enemy they went
with an irresistible rush, and got to work with the bayonet.

Large numbers of Germans were killed or taken prisoner, and four
machine-guns were captured, in addition to a number of trench mortars.
The casualties in the 2nd Battalion were considerably increased by the
fact that the tank, which should have passed over the place where the
machine-guns were posted, never reached its objective, and
consequently a gap of 100 yards was left where it should have gone.

On reaching the road the Coldstream battalions did not halt, but swept
on down the valley, where they found another entirely unexpected
German line. Their losses had been very heavy, especially among the
officers; in the 2nd Battalion Coldstream there were only two officers
left besides the Commanding Officer. Yet so splendid were the rank and
file that they “carried on” as if they still had officers at their
head. The fact that the whole Coldstream Regiment was in line leading
the Guards Division undoubtedly lent an additional impetus to the
whole attack. When they reached what they thought the third objective,
Lieut.-Colonel Campbell reported their position to General Feilding,
but Lord Cavan, who had received reports from aeroplanes, discovered
that it was not the third but the first objective that the Coldstream
were occupying, and sent back at once to say so.

Again the three Coldstream battalions had to go forward in the face of
a withering fire, and were joined soon after they started by No. 2
Company 2nd Battalion Grenadiers under Captain Cunninghame and parties
from the Irish Guards. But with a heavy barrage from the enemy’s
artillery, in addition to the machine-gun and rifle fire, an advance
was no easy matter. It was asking a great deal even of a regiment like
the Coldstream to face such a terrible ordeal a second time, but when
they were clear of the German barrage the note of the hunting-horn
once more rang out and warned them that Lieut.-Colonel Campbell was in
front, calling upon them to follow. Without hesitation the line again
swept forward, and the second objective was reached.

Meanwhile, the 2nd Battalion Grenadiers started off, moving forward by
platoons in artillery formation some 350 yards in rear of the
Coldstream. With it came Lieut.-Colonel de Crespigny, who was easily
distinguished as he marched along, for he wore a forage cap in place
of a helmet. When the Battalion reached Ginchy a heavy German barrage
came down on the men, who were almost blinded by the shells.
Fortunately, the bulk of the barrage was chiefly on the south side of
the village, but huge shells, bursting at the appalling rate of one a
second, were shooting up showers of mud in every direction, and the
noise was deafening. All this in addition to a fierce rifle fire,
which came from the right rear. Though the softness of the ground
prevented many shells from exploding, there were naturally a
considerable number of casualties. Captain M. K. A. Lloyd was killed
as he came along with his half company through the barrage, and
Lieutenant Macmillan was slightly wounded in the knee, but was able to
go on. Lieutenant Hasler, who was severely wounded in the stomach,
never recovered from his wound, and about the same time Second
Lieutenant J. Arbuthnott was also fatally wounded.

Twenty minutes later Lieut.-Colonel de Crespigny decided to push on,
and the Battalion emerged from the barrage with its right on the
Ginchy――Lesbœufs road, but nothing could be seen of the two Coldstream
battalions. It turned out afterwards that the leading battalions of
the 2nd Guards Brigade, which were on the right, had started off in
the wrong direction, and had consequently pushed the Coldstream
battalions in the 1st Guards Brigade too far to the left, so that they
were no longer in front of their support. The orders given to the
Grenadiers were to keep their right on the Ginchy――Lesbœufs road, and
this they had managed to do in spite of the barrage. Lieut.-Colonel de
Crespigny knew he was in his right place, but was totally unable to
understand what had happened to the Coldstream battalions.

He sent a message to General Pereira and received the following reply:

     Your pigeon message timed 7.45 A.M. not quite clear. Irish
     Guards reported their Headquarters in Green line (first
     objective) and in touch with 41st Brigade on left at 8.45
     A.M. You state no signs of Coldstream. Presume they are
     pushing on to next objective. Am sending bombs up.

Throughout the day it appears to have been assumed that the 2nd
Battalion Grenadiers was in touch with the two Coldstream battalions,
but although the Coldstream were fully aware of the position of the
Grenadiers, the Grenadiers had no knowledge of the whereabouts of the
Coldstream.

Almost immediately after the 2nd Battalion Grenadiers cleared the
barrage it came under machine-gun fire from the left front and rifle
fire from the right rear. Instead of finding itself, as it expected,
in rear of the Coldstream, it was suddenly confronted by a trench full
of the enemy. This was the first objective, which the men naturally
imagined had been taken by the Coldstream. Here they were in artillery
formation instead of in line, marching forward under the impression
that the two battalions of Coldstream were in front of them. To
approach the trench with any prospect of success it was necessary to
deploy into line, and in doing this they lost very heavily. Our
creeping barrage had, so to speak, run away, and there was now no
artillery support of any kind.

The companies on the right pushed on into the Green line, the first
objective, and there gained touch with the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers in
Ponsonby’s Brigade, which was attempting to stop the Germans turning
its right flank. Here Lieutenant Jesper was wounded, and Lieutenant
Macmillan, who had gone on in spite of the wound in his knee, was
struck a second time in the left thigh. The attack of the Division on
the right had failed, with the result that the right flank of the
Guards Division was dangerously in the air. On the left there was a
considerable gap, which caused great trouble, as it happened to be
opposite one of the enemy’s strong points. Lieutenant A. T. A. Ritchie
was wounded as he was trying to deal with this difficult situation,
and Sergeant Lyon, who took charge of his platoon, was soon afterwards
shot through the head.

One platoon of No. 1 Company with a machine-gun went out and succeeded
in forming a defensive flank, thus preventing the Germans, who were in
considerable strength, from working behind us. The greater part of the
casualties in the 2nd Battalion occurred about this time. Although
three of our machine-guns reached the first objective, two were
instantly required on the right flank, as the Sixth Division had
failed to take the Quadrilateral; this left only one to deal with the
Germans on the left. The centre of the Battalion then rushed a part of
the Green line and bayoneted all the Germans who did not surrender,
making prisoners of the rest. One German soldier who was taken in this
way thought it too dangerous to wait for an escort and ran off towards
our supports, holding up his hands as he went.

Meanwhile the left of the Battalion was still held up outside the wire
of the first objective, as the two Coldstream battalions had
apparently passed still farther to the left. As soon as the companies
in the centre entered the trench which was the first objective, the
enemy started bombing down it from the left. The Grenadier bombers ran
short of bombs and were powerless to stop the rush. The situation
looked ugly, when Company Sergeant-Major J. Norton, who was lying
outside the wire, gathered some men together and led a bayonet attack
against the German bombers. This momentarily relieved the situation.

All available bombs were then collected, and a party began to work up
the trench, but on reaching the enemy they were driven back with great
loss. The situation again became critical, as the Germans were slowly
driving our men back. Captain Harcourt-Vernon, finding that the supply
of bombs had given out, determined not to waste any more men’s lives
in what must necessarily be a one-sided contest, and organised a
bayonet charge over the top.

Calling on the Adjutant, Captain Bailey, to come with him, he led the
charge and took the German bombers completely by surprise. Many of
them were killed before they realised what had happened, and forty to
fifty more in rear all surrendered. Captain Harcourt-Vernon himself,
on arrival at the enemy’s trench, was confronted by a stalwart German
who immediately held up both hands and was made a prisoner, but
Captain Bailey’s man proved a fighter although, happily, a bad shot.
Captain Bailey missed him with the first three shots of his automatic
pistol, but despatched him with the fourth.

The Grenadier bombers, having managed to find some more bombs, now
worked along the trench to the left, and the Germans who had escaped
from Captain Harcourt-Vernon’s bayonet attack broke and ran across the
open to their support trench. Having cleared the line for some
distance, the Grenadiers began to consolidate. Two small parties of
the enemy tried to return but were dealt with by Lewis guns.
Lieutenant Crookshank, who was in charge of these guns, was wounded by
a H.E. shell which exploded a few yards in front of him, and Captain
Lord Lascelles, who was explaining to Captain Beaumont-Nesbitt what he
wanted him to do, and had just sent for a runner, was hit by a bullet
and had his arm broken.

Meanwhile No. 2 Company under Captain Cunninghame had pushed forward,
and got into line with the 3rd Coldstream, some 500 yards to the left
front of the remainder of the Grenadiers, who were in the first
objective, with the 3rd Grenadiers on their right and a mixture of men
from the Guards Division on their left. The Irish Guards had followed
the Coldstream, and had been able to send up some platoons to support
them.

When the aeroplanes reported that the two Coldstream battalions were
not at the third but between the first and second objectives, General
Feilding despatched the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards from the 3rd
Brigade, which was in reserve, to support them. But their position was
not accurately known, and only one company with two Lewis guns reached
them.

During the afternoon Lord Cavan had issued orders for the third
objective to be bombarded by heavy artillery. On hearing this, General
Pereira strongly protested, as he believed that two of his battalions
were already occupying that position. But Lord Cavan was so well
satisfied that the aeroplane reports were correct that he overruled
the protests, and the bombardment took place.

Further and costly attempts to retake the lost ground were made by the
enemy during the evening, but all their counter-attacks were easily
repulsed. The position in the evening was this: the remnants of the
2nd and 3rd Battalions Coldstream and the Irish Guards, with one
company of the 2nd Battalion Grenadiers and one company of the 2nd
Battalion Scots Guards, were holding the second objective. The 2nd
Battalion Grenadiers was holding the first objective to the right,
with its right flank on the Ginchy――Lesbœufs road and in touch with
the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers.

[Sidenote: Sept. 16.]

Nothing of importance happened during the night of the 15th, and the
1st Guards Brigade remained in the same position throughout the 16th,
when it was subjected to a terrific shelling. That evening the troops
in the first objective were relieved by the 59th Brigade, and those in
the second objective by the 62nd Brigade. The 2nd Battalion Grenadiers
was relieved by the 15th King’s Royal Rifles and retired about five
miles to bivouacs, where it arrived dead-beat, having had practically
no sleep for five days. It slept through the whole day on the 17th.

The casualties throughout the 13th, 14th, and 15th were: killed and
died of wounds 108, 235 wounded, and 12 missing――total 365, excluding
officers. Amongst the officers, Captain M. K. A. Lloyd was killed, and
Lieutenant H. Hasler and Second Lieutenant J. Arbuthnott were
seriously wounded and died a few days later, while the following were
wounded: Captain Lord Lascelles, Lieutenant T. Parker Jervis,
Lieutenant M. H. Macmillan, Lieutenant A. T. A. Ritchie, Lieutenant H.
F. C. Crookshank, Second Lieutenant T. W. Minchin, Second Lieutenant
N. McK. Jesper, Second Lieutenant D. Harvey, and Second Lieutenant C.
C. Cubitt.

Captain J. Andrews, R.A.M.C., was also wounded, but insisted on
remaining at duty. His gallant conduct throughout these three days
elicited much praise from the Commanding Officer.

General Pereira addressed the following message to the 2nd Battalion:

     2ND BATTALION GRENADIER GUARDS.

     As your Brigadier I wish to say in a few words how deeply I
     appreciate the gallant work done by you in the recent
     operations at Ginchy.

     On the 12th September you took over Ginchy trenches, and the
     following night you drove the German out of Ginchy Orchard;
     this work caused you one hundred casualties, but by your
     fine work you cleared the ground for the advance on
     September 15, and ensured that it would not be held up at
     the very beginning.

     On September 15 your first advance was through a heavy
     artillery barrage, but owing to the splendid discipline of
     your Regiment, you went through it as if on parade.

     Your opportunity came later on when you cleared trenches at
     the point of the bayonet, having run out of bombs, and when
     you charged a trench strongly held and in the face of
     machine-gun fire.

     You have shown the Germans what they have to expect when
     they meet the pick of the British Army.

     In the near future you may be called upon to do as much
     again, and I know that you will not fail.

          C. E. PEREIRA, Brigadier-General,
           Commanding 1st Guards Brigade.

     IN THE FIELD,
    _September 18, 1916_.

[Sidenote: Sept. 17-20.]

The 2nd Battalion remained at the Citadel from September 17 to 20
with the rest of Pereira’s Brigade. The weather was wet and cold,
and the Brigade was busily employed in absorbing drafts. On the
19th a conference of Commanding Officers was held at Brigade
Headquarters, when the frontage and objectives for the attack
which was to take place on the 25th were outlined. As the front
allotted to the Brigade was 700 yards, it was decided to attack
with three battalions in front and one in support; but when this
scheme was subsequently changed, and the frontage decreased to
500 yards, it was proposed to entrust the next attack to the 2nd
Battalion Grenadiers and 1st Battalion Irish Guards, with the 2nd
and 3rd Battalions Coldstream in support.

On the 20th the Brigade began moving in companies from the
Citadel to relieve the 61st Brigade. It was still very wet, and
the roads were blocked by transport in a sea of mud. The weather
had now broken, and owing to the cold nights the men took their
greatcoats with them, though the rest of their spare equipment
was stored as before.

[Sidenote: Sept. 20-24.]

The two Coldstream battalions remained in the front line from the 20th
to the 24th, while the 2nd Battalion Grenadiers and 1st Battalion
Irish Guards, who were to undertake the attack, were bivouacked in
Bernafay and Trônes Woods. The 3rd Guards Brigade was employed in
digging an assembly trench about 150 yards in rear of our front line.
The fact that the trench was completed only the night before the
attack accounted for the Germans being, apparently, ignorant of its
exact situation, for although they shelled all the other trenches this
one escaped their notice. The 2nd Battalion Grenadiers was put on to
salvage work and carrying during the days that preceded the attack.

On the 21st the following orders were issued by Brigadier-General
Pereira:


     SECRET.

     1ST GUARDS BRIGADE ORDER, NO. 77

     _21st September 1916._

     1. The Fourth Army will renew the attack on Z day, in combination
     with the attacks by the French to the south and Reserve Army to
     the north.

     2. (_a_) The Guards Division will form part of the attack of the
     Fourteenth Corps.

     (_b_) 1st Guards Brigade will attack on the right and 3rd Guards
     Brigade on left of Guards Division.

     (_c_) 18th Infantry Brigade of Sixth Division will be attacking
     on the right of 1st Guards Brigade.

     _Attacking Troops_――

     3. The attack of 1st Guards Brigade will be carried out by 2nd
     Bn. Grenadier Guards on the right and 1st Bn. Irish Guards on the
     left.

     The 2nd Bn. Coldstream Guards will be in support on the right and
     3rd Bn. Coldstream Guards in support on the left.

     _Preliminary Bombardment_――

     4. A steady bombardment of hostile positions will begin at 7 A.M.
     on Y day and will be continued to 6.30 P.M. It will begin again
     at 6.30 A.M. on Z day.

     Night firing will be carried out nightly from 6.30 P.M. to 6.30
     A.M.

     There will be no intensive fire previous to zero hour.

     _Forming-up Areas_――

     5. Forming-up areas, boundaries, and objectives are shown on the
     attached map.

          The first objective is marked Green.
          The second objective is marked Brown.
          The third objective is marked Blue.

     _Formation for Attack_――

     6. The 2nd Bn. Grenadier Guards and 1st Bn. Irish Guards will
     form up in two lines――one in the firing line and one in the
     support line.

     The 2nd Bn. Coldstream Guards will form up in the communication
     trench from T.8.a.9.4 to T.3.c.3.8.

     The 3rd Bn. Coldstream Guards will form up in the trench from
     T.8.a.9.4 to T.8.d.5.5.

     The 1st Guards Brigade Machine-gun Coy. will assemble with one
     section at the head of 2nd Bn. Coldstream Guards――one section in
     rear of 2nd Bn. Coldstream Guards and one section on right of 3rd
     Bn. Coldstream Guards.

     The 1st Guards Brigade Trench Mortar Battery will form up with
     two guns on right of front line and two guns on right of support
     line.

     The 75th Field R.E. and work platoons will form up in trenches
     T.8.d.

     7. The infantry will advance to the attack of the Green line at
     zero――to the attack of the Brown line at zero + 1 hour. To the
     attack of the Blue line at zero + 2 hours.

     _Barrages_――

     8. (_a_) 50 per cent of Field Artillery barrage will be used for
     creeping barrage, and 50 per cent for stationary barrage.

     (_b_) In all cases the stationary barrage will lift back when the
     creeping barrage meets it.

     9. (_a_) At zero the creeping barrage will start 100 yards in
     front of our front-line trenches. It will advance at the rate of
     50 yards a minute until it is 200 yards beyond the Green line,
     when it will become stationary.

     (_b_) At zero + 1 hour, the creeping barrage will start 200 yards
     in front of the Green line, and will advance at the rate of 50
     yards a minute until it has passed 200 yards beyond the Brown
     line, when it will become stationary.

     (_c_) At zero + 2 hours the creeping barrage will start 100 yards
     in front of the Brown line, and will advance at the rate of 50
     yards a minute until it has passed 100 yards beyond the Blue
     line, when it will become stationary.

     (_d_) Other permanent barrages are being arranged along certain
     sunken roads.

     _Tasks_――

     10. (_a_) The task of the Division is to press the attack through
     to the Blue line. A sufficient flow of troops will be maintained
     from zero onwards to ensure that the Brown line is strong and
     well supported.

     (_b_) The attack on all objectives will be carried out by 2nd Bn.
     Grenadier Guards on the right and 1st Bn. Irish Guards on the
     left.

     The 2nd and 3rd Bns. Coldstream Guards will be in support under
     command of Lieut.-Colonel J. V. Campbell, D.S.O.

     _Method of Assault_――

     11. The assault will be carried out by leading battalions in two
     waves of 75 yards’ distance.

     _Action of Support Battalions_――

     12. As soon as the front and support lines are vacated by 2nd Bn.
     Grenadier Guards and 1st Bn. Irish Guards the 2nd Bn. Coldstream
     Guards and 3rd Bn. Coldstream Guards will occupy them.

     All movement to these lines by supporting units should be by the
     communication trench from T.8.a.9.4 to T.8.c.3.8.

     Similarly 2nd and 3rd Bns. Coldstream Guards will occupy the
     Green and Brown lines as soon as they are vacated by 2nd Bn.
     Grenadier Guards and 1st Bn. Irish Guards.

     As soon as the 2nd Bn. Grenadier Guards and 1st Bn. Irish Guards
     have gained the Brown line, 2nd and 3rd Bns. Coldstream Guards
     will each send a company as clearing-up parties in Lesbœufs.
     These two companies must shelter in shell-holes behind the Brown
     line during the pause on that line. They must on no account be
     mixed up with 2nd Bn. Grenadier Guards and 1st Bn. Irish Guards.
     They will carry a special supply of P. bombs and Mills grenades
     for dealing with cellars.

     The 2nd and 3rd Bns. Coldstream Guards are responsible for making
     good each objective as captured, and for guarding either flank if
     threatened, paying special attention to the right flank.

     Lieut.-Colonel J. V. Campbell, D.S.O., commanding supporting
     battalions, will be prepared to give such additional support as
     may be required to carry out the attack on the final
     objective――bearing in mind the necessity for holding positions
     already captured.

     _Machine-guns_――

     13. (_a_) At the first favourable opportunity after the Green
     line has been captured, O.C. Machine-gun Coy. will send one
     section forward to it. In this line and in his subsequent move to
     the Brown line two guns will always be on the right flank, ready
     to assist in the formation of a defensive flank.

     (_b_) Similarly, when the Brown and Blue lines have been
     captured, one section will be sent forward to help in the
     consolidation of each of these lines.

     Thus when the final objective has been captured there should be
     four guns in the Blue line and eight in reserve in the Brown
     line.

     _Stokes T.M._――

     14. (_a_) Previous to the assault two guns will be established on
     the right of the Brigade area. These two guns will move forward
     at the first favourable opportunity and establish themselves on
     the right of the Green line.

     (_b_) Two other guns will be in reserve in the front line, and
     will only move forward to the Green line if ordered to do so by
     Lieut.-Colonel J. V. Campbell, D.S.O., or by the Brigadier.

     _R.E. and Work Platoons_――

     15. 75th Field Coy. R.E. and Work Platoons will move forward from
     their assembly area to the trench about T.8.b.3.0, as soon as
     this trench is clear of 3rd Bn. Coldstream Guards. They will be
     ready to move forward on receipt of orders from Brigade H.Q. and
     consolidate ground gained. O.C. 75th Field Coy. R.E. will detail
     one officer and three orderlies in liaison with O.C. supporting
     battalions.

     _Patrols_――

     16. When the Blue line has been gained, patrols will be sent
     forward, and any ground from which good observation can be gained
     will be occupied.

     Such points will be consolidated and eventually joined up with
     our line.

     _Contact Patrol and Flares_――

     17. One contact aeroplane will be in the air from zero till 6.30
     P.M. on Z day. Flares will be lit by leading infantry lines on
     obtaining each objective and also at 6 _P.M._ on Z day.

     18. Watches will be synchronised at 7 P.M. on Y day and at 9 A.M.
     on Z day.

     _First Line Transport_――

     19. Ammunition portions of first line Transport will be collected
     on the south-west side of Bernafay Wood to the south of the
     Guillemont――Montauban Road, and remainder of first line Transport
     in the neighbourhood of Minden Post by 12 noon on Z day.

     Brigade Transport Officer will detail an orderly to be in waiting
     at Advanced Divisional H.Q. Bernafay Wood, and will himself be at
     Minden Post from 12 noon on Z day to receive instructions.

     _Prisoners_――

     20. Prisoners will be sent back to the Corps Cage at the Craters
     A.8.a under escort. In future correspondence will not be taken
     off prisoners except off officers. Officers’ documents will be
     removed as soon as they are captured and sent to the Corps Cage
     with their escort.

     _Dumps_――

     21. An advanced Brigade Dump of bombs――S.A.A.――Stokes mortar
     ammunition――R.E. material and rations has been established about
     T.8.c central.

     _Equipment_――

     22. The equipment to be carried by assaulting troops will be the
     same as that laid down for the attack on September 15.

     23. Arrangements have been made for the Brigade on our right to
     open enfilade machine-gun and trench-mortar fire on the Green
     line from about T.9.d.3.9 at zero. This fire will be continued
     until the creeping barrage passes beyond the Green line.

     _Medical Arrangements_――

     24. Medical arrangements will be notified later.

     _Brigade Headquarters_――

     25. Brigade Headquarters will be at T.19.a.½.3½. An advanced
     Brigade Report Centre will be established in the communication
     trench T.8.b――T.3.c on September 22.

     Pigeons will be supplied to the battalions on Z day as follows:

          3 to 2nd Bn. Grenadier Guards.
          3 to 1st Bn. Irish Guards.
          6 to 3rd Bn. Coldstream Guards.

     As soon as all pigeons have been released pigeon men must return
     at once to Brigade Headquarters.

     26. Z day will be September 23. Zero hour will be notified later.
     It will probably be in the afternoon.

     Acknowledge.

           M. B. SMITH, Captain,
     Brigade-Major, 1st Guards Brigade.

A Memorandum from the Brigade-Major on the lie of the land followed.

     1ST GUARDS BRIGADE, NO. 262

     2ND BATT. GRENADIER GUARDS――

     The forthcoming attack differs from the last in that the whole
     scheme is not such an ambitious one. The distance to the first
     objective is about 300 yards, to the second objective 800 yards,
     and to the last objective about 1300 yards. In each case the
     objective is a clearly defined one, and not merely a line drawn
     across the map.

     Between our present front line and the first objective there is
     only “No Man’s Land.” During the next two nights this should be
     actively patrolled to ensure that our attack is not taken by
     surprise by some unknown trench, and in order that Officers and
     N.C.O.’s may have a knowledge of the ground.

     It would also be of great assistance to the Artillery if reports
     as to the actual distance to the Green line were sent in.

     The ground slopes down to Lesbœufs, beyond which there is a
     distinct hollow with a plateau the same level as Lesbœufs beyond.
     On reaching the final objective Officers and N.C.O.’s should
     understand the necessity for pushing patrols out to command this
     hollow and give warning or prevent counter-attacks forming up
     here.

     Large-scale maps of Lesbœufs have been sent to all battalions.
     These should be carefully studied by all Officers and N.C.O.’s,
     and especially by those of the companies detailed for the
     cleaning up of Lesbœufs.

     All runners and signallers should know the position of the
     advanced Brigade Report Centre, and that the best means of
     approach to it will probably be down the communication trench
     T.3.c and T.8.b.

     Finally, it cannot be too much impressed on assaulting troops the
     necessity for clinging to our own barrage. It will be an attack
     in which this should be comparatively easy and on which the
     success of the whole operation may depend.

           M. B. SMITH, Captain,
     Brigade-Major, 1st Guards Brigade.

     _September 22, 1916._

The Operation Order by Lieut.-Colonel de Crespigny, Commanding 2nd
Battalion Grenadier Guards, was as follows:

     22/9/16.                 _Map Ref. 57.c.S.W._

     1. _Intention._――The Fourth Army will renew the attack on Z day
     in combination with the attacks by the French to the south and
     Reserve Army to the north.

          1st Guards Brigade will attack on the right of the Division.
            3rd Guards Brigade will attack on our left.
          18th Infantry Brigade will attack on our right.

     2. This Battalion will be on the right of the 1st Guards Brigade.

          1st Bn. Irish Guards will be on the left.
          2nd Bn. Coldstream Guards will be in support on the right.
          3rd Bn. Coldstream Guards will be in support on the left.

     3. _Formation of Attack._――The Battalion will form up in two
     lines, one in the firing line and one in the support line, care
     being taken that bayonets do not show on the top of the trenches
     before zero.

          _Front Line._――No. 1 Coy. on left, No. 2 Coy. on the right.
          _Support Line._――No. 3 Coy. on left, No. 4 Coy. on the right.

     Forming-up areas, boundaries, and objective as shown on map at
     Headquarters, to be copied in.

     4. First objective is marked Green. Second objective Brown. Third
     objective Blue.

     5. _Task._――To press the attack through to the Blue line, a
     sufficient flow of troops being maintained to ensure that the
     Brown line is strong and well supported.

     6. (_a_) At zero the creeping barrage will start 100 yards in
     front of our front-line trenches. It will advance at the rate of
     50 yards a minute until it is 200 yards beyond the Green line,
     when it will become stationary.

     At zero Nos. 1 and 2 Coys. will advance to the attack of the
     Green line, followed at 75 yards’ distance by Nos. 3 and 4 Coys.,
     who will not stop at our old front line but will push on into the
     Green line. On reaching the Green line companies will at once
     reorganise.

     (_b_) At zero + 1 hour the creeping barrage will start 200 yards
     in front of the Green line, and will advance at the rate of 50
     yards a minute until it is 200 yards beyond the Brown line, when
     it will become stationary. At zero + 1 hour Nos. 3 and 4 Coys.
     will advance to the attack of the Brown line, followed by Nos. 1
     and 2 Coys. at 75 yards’ interval.

     (_c_) At zero + 2 hours the creeping barrage will start 100 yards
     in front of the Brown line and will advance at the rate of 50
     yards a minute until it has passed 100 yards beyond the Blue
     line.

     At zero + 2 hours Nos. 1 and 2 Coys. will attack the Blue line,
     followed by Nos. 3 and 4 Coys. at 75 yards’ distance. The
     Battalion will consolidate on the Blue line and hold it at all
     costs.

     (_d_) Other permanent barrages are being arranged along certain
     sunken roads.

     When the Blue line has been gained, patrols will be pushed
     forward at once to seize and hold any point from which good
     observation can be obtained.

     7. _Lewis Guns._――Each company will have one Lewis gun: the
     remainder (four) under Lieut. Knatchbull-Hugessen will move up
     with the second wave and be prepared to act against hostile
     machine-guns in the village or forward objectives or against
     counter-attacks. They will also be ready to form a defensive
     flank to the right or left.

     8. _Mopping Up._――The dug-outs in the first and second objectives
     will be promptly dealt with by Nos. 3 and 4 Coys. As soon as the
     Battalion has gained the Brown line, the 2nd and 3rd Batts.
     Coldstream will occupy the Green line, and will each send
     clearing parties of 1 Coy. to clear the village of Lesbœufs.

     9. _Dress and Equipment._――Greatcoats will not be carried, and
     arrangements will be made for them to be collected before moving
     up.

     Following will be carried: Per man――three sand-bags, two
     bandoliers, two Mills bombs, one day’s rations, one iron ration.
     A large percentage of each company will carry slung shovels.
     Flares will be carried by every officer and platoon sergeant, and
     the remainder of the flares and rockets will be distributed among
     the companies. V.P. lights should be distributed among companies,
     men carrying one or two in their pockets.

     Water-bottles must be filled before starting, and men must be
     very sparing in their drinking.

     10. All S.A.A. and bombs to be taken off casualties, whenever
     possible, and dumped in the nearest objective.

     11. One contact aeroplane will be in the air from zero till 6.30
     P.M. on Z day. Flares will be lit by leading troops on obtaining
     each objective, and also at 6 P.M. on Z day.

     12. _Communication._――A party of signallers will accompany the
     second wave and lay a telephone line from the jumping-off place
     to the Green line, afterwards extending it to Brown and Blue
     lines.

     Battalion Headquarters will not move from the jumping-off place
     until the Green line has been captured.

     13. _Watches_ will be synchronised at 7 P.M. on Y day and at 9
     A.M. on Z day.

     14. _Prisoners._――If prisoners are taken they must be sent out of
     the way, to prevent blockage in the trenches.

     The Corps Cage is at the Crater A.8.a.

     In future correspondence will _not_ be taken off prisoners except
     off officers. Officers’ documents will be removed as soon as they
     are captured, and sent to the Corps Cage with their escort.

     15. _Dumps._――An advanced Brigade Dump is at T.8.c central.

     16. The Brigade on our right will open enfilade machine-gun and
     mortar fire on the Green line from about T.9.d.3.9 at zero, and
     continue until the creeping barrage has passed Green line.

     17. Z day and zero will be notified later, but zero will probably
     be in the afternoon.

     18. _Miscellaneous._――(_a_) Assaulting troops should keep as
     close behind our creeping barrage as possible.

     (_b_) There will be no intense artillery fire before zero.

     (_c_) All troops should watch for any messages which aeroplanes
     may drop.

          W. R. BAILEY, Capt. and Adjt.,
           2nd Batt. Grenadier Guards.

[Sidenote: Sept. 25.]

The following officers of the 2nd Battalion took part in the attack on
the 25th:

     Lieut.-Colonel C. R. C. de Crespigny, D.S.O.   Commanding Officer.
     Capt. the Hon. W. R. Bailey                    Adjutant.
     Lieut. M. A. Knatchbull-Hugessen               Lewis Gun Officer.
     Lieut. A. F. Irvine                            No. 1 Company.
     2nd Lieut. G. A. Arbuthnot                      ”       ”
     Capt. A. K. S. Cunninghame                     No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. H. G. Wiggins                            ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. F. H. G. Layland-Barratt             ”       ”
     Capt. W. H. Beaumont-Nesbitt                   No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. A. McW. Lawson-Johnston                  ”       ”
     Capt. G. C. FitzH. Harcourt-Vernon             No. 4 Company.
     Lieutenant the Hon. W. A. D. Parnell            ”       ”
     Lieut. R. B. B. Wright                          ”       ”
     Capt. J. Andrews, R.A.M.C.                     Medical Officer.

The remainder of the officers remained with the transport.

Late on the night of the 24th the Brigade was informed that zero hour
would be 12.35 P.M. the next day. The 2nd Battalion Grenadiers moved
up that night from Bernafay Wood to relieve the 2nd Battalion
Coldstream in the trenches preparatory to the attack, with its right
on the Ginchy――Lesbœufs road. On arrival at the assembly trench No. 1
Company was placed on the right and No. 2 on the left, with No. 3 and
No. 4 in support. The trenches were so narrow that the men were unable
to sit or lie down, and had to remain standing all the next morning,
shoulder to shoulder.

Punctually at 12.35 P.M. the attack was launched, and immediately the
creeping barrage was put down by our artillery with great accuracy 200
yards in front of the attacking force. The necessity of getting men
across No Man’s Land as promptly as possible after zero had been found
from experience to be of paramount importance, and the Grenadier and
Irish Guards therefore did not hesitate for a moment, but dashed
forward in two waves. The enemy must have had some very accurate
information about our intentions, for the attackers had hardly left
their trench (it was three-quarters of a minute after zero) when they
put down a heavy barrage on our front trenches, as well as on the
support and communication trenches.

The leading wave of men was able to get close up under our creeping
barrage, and the Irish Guards found no difficulty in capturing the
first objective at the point of the bayonet. The 2nd Battalion
Grenadiers would have had an equally simple task but for the fact that
the wire in front of them, which was in standing crops and therefore
hidden, had been very little damaged by our artillery fire. There
seemed no possibility of getting through it, with the Germans so
close, and for the moment the whole advance of the Grenadiers was held
up.

Captain A. Cunninghame, Second Lieutenant G. A. Arbuthnot, Lieutenant
W. Parnell, and Lieutenant Irvine at once ordered their men to lie
down, and the four gallantly advancing by themselves proceeded with
the utmost coolness to cut gaps in the wire. Their one thought seems
to have been that the attack must not be checked on any account, and
as the task of cutting the wire meant almost certain death, they never
thought of sending on any of their men, but decided to do it
themselves. Captain Cunninghame, Second Lieutenant G. Arbuthnot, and
Lieutenant Parnell were killed, and Lieutenant Irvine was wounded, but
sufficient room was made for the men to go through, and the Grenadiers
swept forward into the first objective.

Apparently the line was strongly held by the enemy, and a large number
were killed and one man taken prisoner, while three machine-guns fell
into our hands. Lieutenant H. Wiggins, who was on the extreme right,
was trying to creep down the fire-swept sunken road when he was struck
by a fragment of a shell which burst near him. Lieutenant
Knatchbull-Hugessen brought up the Lewis guns by the sunken road and
did great execution with them. He was still directing the fire of his
guns, although wounded and covered with blood, when a shell pitched on
the road near him and killed him.

[Illustration:

  _J. Weston & Sons photographers_      _Emery Walker ph. sc._
  _Major-General G. D. Jeffreys, C.M.G._]

By 1.30 the first objective was entirely in our hands, and five
minutes later the advance to the second objective began, close up
under our barrage. This was a complete success, as the barrage kept
the enemy in their trenches, and they had not even shown themselves
when the Grenadiers and Irish Guards were on them with the bayonet.

After the capture of the first objective there were only two company
officers left, Lieutenant A. Lawson-Johnston and Second Lieutenant
Layland-Barratt, and the attack on the second objective was
practically carried out by the non-commissioned officers. Never have
the sergeants of the regiment showed to better advantage. The skill
with which they handled their companies or platoons, their quick grasp
of an order conveyed to them, and the intelligent way in which they
carried out their instructions elicited the warmest praise from the
Commanding Officer.

By 1.45 P.M. the second objective was secured, and many of the enemy
killed. The dug-outs in the sunken road on the right of the Grenadiers
were all searched, and a large number of prisoners taken. The
following message was received from Brigade Headquarters:

     Prisoner you sent down states that the rest of his Company
     are in dug-outs or subterranean passages about 250 yards
     east of Lesbœufs and south of the sunken road. He appears to
     think they are anxious to surrender, but gives no reasons.
     In thinking this he seems to be more talkative than reliable.

The prisoner proved to be right, though, by the time the search of
these dug-outs started, all their occupants had already run out,
holding up their hands. During this second phase of the attack, the
enemy appear to have offered little resistance, and many more were
captured than killed.

Meanwhile the company of Coldstream under Captain Verelst which had
been detailed for clearing Lesbœufs closed up in rear of the
Grenadiers, according to the programme, and at 2.35 P.M. the advance
on the third objective began. To this also there was little
resistance, and soon the Grenadiers and Irish Guards were established
in a line 100 yards east of Lesbœufs village. During the whole of
their advance the Grenadiers had kept in perfect touch with the Irish
Guards on their left and the 1st West Yorks on their right, and the
orders were carried out almost to the minute. However, the situation
on the left of the 1st Guards Brigade seemed doubtful, and General
Pereira therefore sent up a company from the 3rd Battalion Coldstream
to strengthen that flank.

Thus Lesbœufs passed into our hands, and these positions, which had
been considered quite impregnable, were taken by the combination of
the creeping barrage and a simultaneous infantry attack.

It was about this time that the only real hitch in the attack
occurred. Arrangements had been made for the artillery barrage to be
put down 200 yards east of the final objective, but the position of
the trench was marked differently on the artillery and infantry maps,
and the shells fell short. This not only caused a good many casualties
amongst the men who were digging in, but also prevented the attacking
force from pushing forward patrols and occupying the best ground for
observation. A furious message was sent back by Captain Bailey: ”Our
artillery are blowing us out. Please stop it at once,” but whether the
messages miscarried or whether the maps were so inaccurate that the
orders were not understood, the shelling continued for nearly two
hours.

Meanwhile the 2nd and 3rd Battalions Coldstream moved up by the new
communication trench to the support line and thence across the open to
the first objective, where they remained in support.

When the barrage eventually cleared away it was found that there were
practically no Germans in front, although a good many of them could be
seen running towards Le Transloy without rifles or equipment, and the
enemy were not shelling us at all, no doubt because they had been
obliged to move their guns. It seemed to Lieut.-Colonel de Crespigny
that some advantage should be taken of this situation, and he sent a
message back that it was a splendid opportunity for the cavalry to go
through. Lord Cavan, however, decided that the circumstances did not
permit of such a move, as the front was too narrow.

Lord Cavan sent the following message to General Pereira:

     Hearty thanks and sincere congratulations to you all. A very
     fine achievement, splendidly executed.

To which General Pereira replied:

     Your old Brigade very proud to be able to present you with
     Lesbœufs. All ranks most gratified by your kind
     congratulations.

Later this message was received from General Ponsonby, commanding the
2nd Guards Brigade:

     G.O.C. and all ranks wish to congratulate the 1st and 3rd
     Guards Brigades on their splendid success to-day.

The men were in the highest spirits, and that evening they had a quiet
time even in the front trench, so quiet that there was no difficulty
in getting supplies up. During the night each battalion was ordered to
thin out the front line, as there were far too many men in the trench;
this order was carried out, but next morning it was found that still
further thinning had to be done.

[Sidenote: Sept. 26.]

On the 26th the 2nd Battalion Grenadiers and Irish Guards received
orders to try and push patrols on to the ridge which ran 800 yards
east of Lesbœufs; but, although this might have been possible the
night before, it was found to be impracticable now as the Germans had
had time to recover, and had established a strong line of posts with
machine-guns, so that our patrols were unable to advance more than 300
yards.

That night the 2nd Battalion Grenadiers was relieved by the 2nd
Battalion Irish Guards from the 2nd Guards Brigade, and marched back
to the Citadel Camp, where it arrived at 4 A.M. on the 27th, after
stopping on the way at the south end of Bernafay Wood for hot food
provided by the cookers.

The casualties in the Battalion were 108 killed, 222 wounded, and 12
missing, making a total of 312 excluding officers. Considering what
had been accomplished this was surprisingly little, but the percentage
of officers was very high, the result, no doubt, of the fact that the
wire had not been cut at the first objective. Captain A. K. S.
Cunninghame, Lieutenant the Hon. W. A. D. Parnell, Lieutenant M. A.
Knatchbull-Hugessen, and Lieutenant G. A. Arbuthnot were killed, and
Captain Harcourt-Vernon, Captain Beaumont-Nesbitt, Lieutenant A. F.
Irvine, Lieutenant H. G. Wiggins, and Lieutenant R. B. B. Wright were
wounded.

The following order was issued by General Pereira to the 1st Guards
Brigade:

     2ND BATT. GRENADIER GUARDS――

     You have again maintained the high traditions of the 1st
     Guards Brigade when called upon a second time in the battle
     of the Somme. For five days previous to the assault the 2nd
     and 3rd Battalions Coldstream Guards held the trenches under
     constant heavy shell-fire and dug many hundred yards of
     assembly and communication trenches, this work being
     constantly interrupted by the enemy’s artillery. The 2nd
     Battalion Grenadier Guards and 1st Battalion Irish Guards,
     though under shell-fire in their bivouacs, were kept clear
     of the trenches until the evening of 24th September, and
     were given the task of carrying by assault all the
     objectives to be carried by this Brigade. Nothing deterred
     them in this attack, not even the fact that in places the
     enemy wire was cut in the face of rifle and machine-gun
     fire, and in spite of all resistance and heavy losses the
     entire main enemy defensive line was captured.

     Every battalion in the Brigade carried out its task to the
     full.

     The German Reserve Division, which includes the 238th,
     239th, and 240th Regiments, and which opposed you for many
     weeks at Ypres, left the salient on the 18th September. You
     have now met them in the open, a worthy foe, but you have
     filled their trenches with their dead and have driven them
     before you in headlong flight.

     I cannot say how proud I am to have had the honour of
     commanding the 1st Guards Brigade in this battle, a Brigade
     which has proved itself to be the finest in the British
     Army.

     The Brigade is now under orders for rest and training, and
     it must now be our object to keep up the high standard of
     efficiency, and those who have come to fill our depleted
     ranks will strive their utmost to fill worthily the place of
     those gallant officers and men who have laid down their
     lives for a great cause.

          C. E. PEREIRA, Brigadier-General,
            Commanding 1st Guards Brigade.

     _September 28, 1916._


THE 3RD BATTALION

[Sidenote: 3rd Batt.]

At the beginning of September the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers was at
Morlancourt, being trained with the rest of the 2nd Guards Brigade. On
the 9th the Brigade moved into camp at Happy Valley and on the 12th it
marched to Carnoy.

The following officers of the 3rd Battalion took part in the attack of
September 15, 1916:

     Lieut.-Colonel B. N. Sergison-Brooke, D.S.O.   Commanding Officer.
     Capt. O. Lyttelton                             Adjutant.
     Capt. G. G. Gunnis                             Bombing Officer.
     Lieut. A. O. Whitehead                         Asst. ”    ”
     Capt. R. Wolrige-Gordon                        No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. C. G. Gardner                             ”      ”
     Lieut. W. A. Stainton                            ”      ”
     Lieut. E. H. J. Wynne                            ”      ”
     Capt. the Hon, R. P. Stanhope                  No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. G. F. R. Hirst                            ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. M. Thrupp                             ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. D. W. Cassy                           ”      ”
     Capt. F. J. V. B. Hopley                       No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. W. Champneys                              ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. J. F. Worsley                         ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. G. M. Cornish                         ”      ”
     Capt. A. K. Mackenzie                          No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. R. Asquith                                ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. G. D. Jackson                         ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. H. St. J. Williams                    ”      ”
     Lieut. A. T. Logan, R.A.M.C.                   Medical Officer.

[Sidenote: Sept. 12-13.]

On the night of the 12th the 2nd Guards Brigade was ordered to relieve
the right subsection of the 3rd Guards Brigade. In the front line was
placed the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards, with the 1st Battalion Scots
Guards in support, while the two battalions which were eventually to
undertake the attack, the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers and 1st Battalion
Coldstream, remained behind in reserve. Orders were given to the 2nd
Battalion Irish Guards to clear away isolated posts in front, where it
was reported that some Germans were lurking, and this was successfully
done; but an attack that was afterwards organised with the 71st and
16th Infantry Brigades was not quite so successful.

[Sidenote: Sept. 14.]

Up to this point the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers had stayed in reserve.
Its packs, greatcoats, and surplus kit were now sent into the
Divisional store at Méaulte, and bombs, sand-bags, tools, flares,
etc., issued to the men for the attack on the following day. The
Battalion marched off by companies at 9 P.M. to take up its position.

The following orders were issued by Brigadier-General J. Ponsonby,
commanding the 2nd Guards Brigade:

     2ND GUARDS BRIGADE

     1. The Fourth Army will attack the enemy’s defences between
     Combles Ravine and Martinpuich on Z day with the object of
     seizing Morval, Lesbœufs, Gueudecourt, Flers.

     The French will attack simultaneously on the right, and the
     Reserve Army on the left.

     The attack is to be pushed with the utmost vigour all along the
     line until the most distant objectives are reached. The failure
     of a unit on the flank is not to prevent other units from pushing
     on to their final objective.

     As soon as the final objectives have been captured by the
     infantry, the cavalry will advance and will seize the high ground
     Rocquigny――Villers-au-Flos――Riencourt-les-Bapaume――Bapaume.

     The Guards Division is to be prepared to support the cavalry on
     the above line at the earliest possible moment.

     2. The objectives allotted to Guards Brigades are marked on the
     attached map as follows:

          First objective, Green (X line).
          Second    ”      Brown (Xa line).
          Third     ”      Blue (Y line).
          Fourth    ”      Red (Z line).

     2nd Guards Brigade will be on the right. 1st Guards Brigade will
     be on the left. 3rd Guards Brigade will be in reserve. 71st
     Infantry Brigade will be on the right of 2nd Guards Brigade.

     3. The Brigade will attack with two battalions in front and two
     battalions in support.

     3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards will be right front battalion.
     1st Battalion Coldstream Guards will be left front battalion.
     1st Battalion Scots Guards will be right support battalion.
     2nd Battalion Irish Guards will be left support battalion.

     4. Battalions will be formed up on a company front in column of
     half-companies. Troops will be in single rank. Each battalion
     will therefore advance in four waves.

     5. 2nd Guards Brigade Machine-gun Company will detail guns as
     follows:

     I. Two guns to advance with 3/G.G. and two guns with 1/C.G. These
     guns will take position in the third wave on the inner flank of
     the right and left flank platoons respectively.

     II. Four guns to advance with 1/S.G., and four guns with 2/I.G.
     Four of these guns will take position in the sixth wave on the
     inner flank of the right and left platoons respectively. The
     other four will take the same position in the eighth wave.

     The remaining three guns will advance in the centre of the ninth
     wave.

     6. Four Stokes guns will be detailed to advance on the flanks of
     the ninth wave.

     1/S.G. and 2/I.G. will find carrying parties of one officer and
     fifty men each to advance with these guns.

     Remaining guns will be in Brigade Reserve, with 76th Field
     Company, R.E.

     7. The formation for attack will accordingly be as follows:

                         1/C.G.           3/G.G.
                     B Coy.  A Coy.  B Coy.   A Coy.
     First Wave      6  5    2   1   6   5     2  1
     Second Wave     8  7    4   3   8   7     4  3

                     D Coy.  C Coy.  D Coy.   C Coy.
     Third Wave     14  13  10   9  14  13    10   9
                      2                         2
                    M.G.’s                    M.G.’s
     Fourth Wave    16  15  12  11  16  15    12  11
                       2/I.G.      1/S.G.
                    B Coy.   A Coy.  B Coy.    A Coy.
     Fifth Wave     6   5    2   1   6   5     2   1
     Sixth Wave     8   7    4   3   8   7     4   3
                      2                          2
                    M.G.’s                     M.G.’s
                    D Coy.   C Coy.  D Coy.    C Coy.
     Seventh Wave  14  13   10   9  14  13    10   9
     Eighth Wave   16  15   12  11  16  15    12  11
                      2                          2
                    M.G.’s                     M.G.’s
     Ninth Wave   S.G. S.G. 4 M.G.’s S.G. S.G.
                         Carrying Parties.

     Sapping platoons will be formed up in rear of Battalion H.Q.,
     which will move in the centre of the fourth and eighth waves. The
     distance between waves will be 50 yards.

     8. Details of artillery barrage are given in Appendix A.

     9. Nine tanks will advance from Guards Division front. They will
     probably start from each successive line well in advance of the
     attacking troops.

     The action of the troops will be entirely independent of the
     action of the tanks, and will be carried out as ordered, whether
     the tanks are held up or not.

     10. The assaults on successive objectives will be delivered at
     the following times:

     Attack on X line at zero.
     Attack on Xa line at zero + 1 hour.
     (This second assault is limited to 1st Guards Brigade. 2nd Guards
       Brigade will not move till time for third assault.)
     Attack on Y line at zero + 2 hours.
     Attack on Z line at zero + 4 hours and 30 minutes.

     11. The action of the waves of attack will be as follows:

     (_a_) First four waves will pass over X line and lie down close
     in rear of the barrage, which will halt till zero + 1 hour and 10
     minutes at X + 200 yards.

     Fifth and sixth waves will clear up X line.

     Seventh and eighth waves will clear up X line and lie down in
     rear of fourth wave.

     Ninth wave will lie down short of X line.

     (_b_) At zero + 2 hours all waves will advance to the Y  line.
     Seventh and eighth waves will advance in front of fifth and sixth
     waves. Ninth wave will be in rear as before.

     (_c_) On reaching Y line, first four waves will pass over Y  line
     and lie down close in rear of barrage as before.

     Seventh and eighth waves will clear up Y line.

     Fifth and sixth waves will pass over Y line and lie down in rear
     of fourth wave.

     Ninth wave will lie down short of Y line.

     (_d_) Half an hour after reaching Y line all Commanding Officers
     will meet at Battalion Headquarters of 3rd Bn. Grenadier Guards,
     and will confer on attack on Z line.

     Lieutenant-Colonel Brooke, D.S.O., 3rd Bn. Grenadier Guards, if
     present, will command the attack on the Y  line.

     In the absence of Lieut.-Colonel Brooke, senior officer present
     will command.

     Stokes Gun Sections will act in accordance with orders of O.C.
     attack.

     12. It is the object of these dispositions to ensure a steady
     flow of troops so as to press the strongest possible attack
     against each successive objective.

     Rear lines will reinforce leading lines wherever they appear
     thin.

     No troops will be left in any objective when the attack goes on.

     The task of the two leading Guards Brigades is to drive the
     attack through Lesbœufs to the ultimate objective by every means
     in their power.

     3rd Guards Brigade will be in close reserve to carry out any of
     the following duties, as may be required:

     (_a_) To pass through Z and press the attack behind the cavalry.

     (_b_) To make a defensive flank, if the attack on our flanks is
     held up.

     (_c_) To support the attack of the leading Guards Brigades, if
     held up anywhere.

     13. 76th Field Company, R.E., will be in Brigade Reserve. It
     will be formed up in a place to be notified later, and will await
     orders from the Brigade.

     14. Ninth Squadron, R.F.C., will have two contact aeroplanes in
     the air from zero to dark on Z day, and again from 6.30 A.M. to 9
     A.M. on Z + 1 day.

     Flares will be lit as follows:

            (i.) On obtaining each objective.
           (ii.) At 12 noon and 5 P.M. on Z day.
          (iii.) At 6.30 A.M. on Z + 1 day.

     Red flares will be used by infantry, Green flares by cavalry.

     15. All transport will be packed up and ready to move forward at
     1 hour’s notice after zero + 4 hours.

     Brigade Transport Officer will report at Divisional Headquarters,
     Minden Post, at zero + 2 hours, and await orders there.

     16. Separate orders will be issued regarding――

            I. Supply of rations.
                 ”    ”  water.
                 ”    ”  S.A.A.
                 ”    ”  Stokes ammunition.
                 ”    ”  bombs.
           II. Disposal of prisoners.
          III. Medical arrangements.

     17. Watches will be synchronised at 12.30 P.M. and 6.30 P.M. on Y
     day by telephone from this Office.

     18. Brigade Headquarters will close at Bernafay Wood at 5 P.M.
     to-morrow and open at T.19.a.1/2.3½ at the same hour.

     Acknowledge.      E. W. M. GRIGG, Captain,
                            Brigade-Major.
     13/9/16.

The following orders are supplementary to this Office No. 129/G. The
latter will be amended, where required, accordingly.

     1. 3/G.G., 1/C.G. will relieve 2/I.G. in the line to-night.
     2/I.G. will move back to its assembling area on relief, and
     remain there till zero hour.

     3/G.G. will march off at 9 P.M.
     1/C.G. will march off at 9.30 P.M.
     1/S.G. will march off at 10.45 P.M.
     T.M.B. will march in rear of 1/C.G.

     Company guides from 2/I.G. will be at Brigade Headquarters,
     Bernafay Wood, for relieving battalions at the following hours:

          3/G.G.  9.45 P.M.
          1/C.G. 10.15 P.M.
          1/S.G. 11 P.M.

     2. Forming-up will be carried out as follows:

     (_a_) Every battalion is provided with printed boards to mark the
     waves and the flanks of platoons.

     3/G.G., 1/C.G. and 1/S.G. will detail marking parties of 1
     officer and 12 O.R. each to put these out before relief to-night.
     Brigade Signal Officer will provide three guides for this party
     to be at Brigade Headquarters, Bernafay Wood, at 7 P.M.

     (_b_) In order to avoid the enemy barrage, all battalions will
     form east of the road from _G_ of Ginchy (1/20,000 Sheet 57 C.,
     S.W.) and the southern end of the Sunken Road in T.14.a. In order
     to make room, battalions will feel their right in forming up as
     far as a line running parallel to the direction of the attack
     through Ginchy Telegraph.

     On starting at zero hour, battalions will incline left until the
     left flank is in touch with the right flank of 1st Guards
     Brigade.

     (_c_) The direction of the attack is 58 degrees magnetic from the
     cross-roads in T.14.a.

     Marking boards will be put out on a line 148 degrees magnetic
     from left flank mark, or 328 degrees magnetic from the right
     flank mark. Right and left flanks have been marked in advance by
     2/I.G.

     3. The dividing line between battalions in attack on X and Y
     lines is as follows:

          X line. T.8.d.9.4.
          Y line. Road junction T.3.d.5.2.

     4. 2/I.G. will be formed up in two waves. First wave will clear
     up second German trench in X line.

     Second wave will clear up first German trench in X line. Both
     these waves will clear up Y line.

     Officer commanding 1st Bn. Scots Guards will make arrangements
     for clearing the part of these two trenches in his area.

     5. The creeping barrage will open at zero hour on a line at right
     angles to the direction of the attack through cross-roads in
     T.14.a.

     It will advance and halt thereafter as laid down in Appendix A to
     this Office No. 129/G.

     6. Prisoners will be collected at Battalion Headquarters under
     Battalion arrangements, and sent back to Divisional Collecting
     Station, Crater Post, A.8.a.6.3, when possible.

     They should be made to carry wounded when practicable.

          (Signed)      E. W. M. GRIGG, Captain,
                              Brigade-Major.
     14/9/16.


The first phase of the attack of the Guards Division was to be carried
out with Pereira’s Brigade on the left and Ponsonby’s Brigade on the
right, while Corkran’s Brigade would be in reserve. To the 2nd Brigade
was allotted a front of 500 yards, north-east of Ginchy, and the
attack was to be carried out by the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers on the
right with the 1st Battalion Scots Guards in support, and the 1st
Battalion Coldstream on the left with the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards
in support. In order to evade the heavy barrage which the Germans
usually put down along the east of Ginchy and Guillemont villages, it
was decided to assemble the whole Brigade east of Ginchy.

This precaution had the advantage that the assembly trench was not
shelled, but there were certain disadvantages. In the first place, the
assembly ground was not square with the line of attack, so that a
change of direction was necessary after the attack had started, and,
in the second place, it was by no means easy to keep the 2nd Guards
Brigade in immediate touch with the 1st Guards Brigade. It had been
intended to align the Brigade on painted boards showing the waves and
the flanks of the platoons, but these showed up so bright in the clear
moonlight that they were thrown away and men were put out as markers
instead.

[Sidenote: Sept. 15.]

The 3rd Battalion Grenadiers was formed up in four waves, all the men
being in single rank, and companies in columns of half-companies, with
fifty yards’ distance between platoons. Their distribution was as
follows:

             No. 4 Company.                    No. 3 Company.
     No. 14 Platoon.  No. 13 Platoon.  No. 10 Platoon.  No. 9 Platoon.
      ”  16    ”       ”  15    ”       ”  12    ”       ” 11    ”

             No. 2 Company.                    No. 1 Company.
     No. 6 Platoon.   No. 5 Platoon.   No. 2 Platoon.   No. 1 Platoon.
      ”  8    ”        ”  7    ”        ”  4    ”        ”  3    ”

At 4 A.M. the Battalion was in position and everything was ready.
Sandwiches and an issue of rum were served out to the men, who then
tried to snatch a little sleep. Complete silence reigned, except for
the sound of the tanks making their way slowly to their places. At 6
A.M. exactly our heavy guns started, and fired about forty shells
apiece in quick succession. This immediately woke up the enemy and
brought down their barrage in exactly the place where it was expected,
but of course there were no troops there. Orders were passed down at
6.15 to fix bayonets and get ready, and five minutes later the attack
started.

The first objective or Green line lay over the ridge about 600 yards
away, and it was hoped that this would be reached without any serious
opposition. The ground in and around Ginchy was a battered mass of
irregular ridges and shell-holes, which overlapped and stretched away
into the early morning mist. Direction became a matter of the greatest
difficulty, as there were absolutely no landmarks to go by. No one
except the Irish Guards had seen the ground before, as it had been
found impossible to send officers up during the heavy fighting of the
last days. On the map it seemed a simple matter to pick out the
Lesbœufs road and the church of Lesbœufs, either of which would have
served as a guide, but on the actual ground, which was just a great
desert of shell-holes, with our own barrage ahead and the enemy’s
shells falling all round, it was practically impossible to distinguish
anything.

Soon after it started off the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers came on
unexpected intermediate lines. These were no more than connected
shell-holes, but had served to shelter a number of Germans, who fought
with the utmost bravery. The guns had not bombarded them, while the
creeping barrage had passed over too quickly to do much harm. Though
the men holding them were all shot or bayoneted, and the delay thus
caused was very slight, it had the effect of breaking the regularity
of the formation and telescoping up the men in the rear.

Almost at the outset Captain A. K. Mackenzie was hit and fell, as he
led his company to the attack. Though mortally wounded, he got up
again and struggled on, still waving his men forward. Once more he
fell, and this time was unable to rise, but even then he managed to
raise himself on one knee and cheer the company on. Afterwards he was
carried down on a stretcher, but never recovered and died in the
ambulance on the way. About the same time Lieutenant Raymond Asquith
was shot through the chest and killed as he led the first half of No.
4 Company. He had endeared himself to both officers and men in an
extraordinary degree since he joined the regiment at the beginning of
the war, and his preference of service with his Battalion to the good
staff appointment which he had just given up had won the admiration of
all ranks. Lieutenant E. H. J. Wynne was mortally wounded by a German
officer in one of the intermediate lines, and Lieutenant C. G. Gardner
was killed soon afterwards. Captain G. G. Gunnis, Lieutenant A.
Whitehead, Second Lieutenant H. Williams, and Second Lieutenant J.
Worsley were wounded.

While these intermediate lines were being cleared, an extremely heavy
machine-gun fire was opened from the right flank, where the Sixth
Division had been held up at the start. The tanks which were to have
flattened out the wire and helped the advance never appeared, and so
it came about that, from the moment it crossed over the Ginchy ridge
and came within view of the enemy’s lines, the 2nd Guards Brigade was
committed to hard and continuous fighting in a position of much
difficulty.

By now the Brigade had got very much mixed up, and, though still all
together, continued its advance as a brigade rather than as four
battalions. Whenever the leading wave met with any check, those in
rear, impatient to get at the enemy, closed in on them, and thus
companies and even battalions became intermingled. As an inevitable
result of this quick advance the right flank of the Brigade was
completely exposed, and Lieut.-Colonel Sergison-Brooke deciding that
some protection was essential, threw out a company as a defensive
flank to within 200 yards of the enemy’s flanking trench, to keep down
the fire, while the rest of the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers pressed on to
the main assault.

It had been arranged that after the first objective had been captured
our artillery should bombard the second objective and prepare it for
attack, so when these lines were carried there was some uncertainty as
to whether the advance should be continued or not. In spite of the
casualties the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers, with the 1st Battalion Scots
Guards, continued to push on till it reached the first objective, and
was able to secure it according to the specified time, though the task
was no easy one. In some parts between the right and left columns of
the assault, and also on the extreme right, the wire had been
untouched, but as soon as any man gained a foothold in the trench he
at once proceeded to clear the way by bombing. Curiously enough,
though the Germans had fought with such tenacity in the intermediate
lines, the garrison of the first objective offered comparatively
little resistance, and surrendered in large numbers.

The men were out of breath, as the pace had been hot, and they were
carrying a good weight, so a pause in this first objective was not
unwelcome. The prisoners were grouped together, and sent back in
batches; in one part of the line the German machine-gunners caught
sight of them and turned their guns on them, but the prisoners
scurried off and ran as fast as they could back through our lines.

On the right Captain Wolrige-Gordon with No. 1 Company was attempting
to keep touch with the Sixth Division, and as the Battalion advanced
he started firing down the enemy’s trench where the machine-guns were
holding it up. At first the Germans were puzzled, but when they
grasped where the fire came from their snipers got to work and
accounted for many men before Captain Wolrige-Gordon could join the
rest of the Battalion.

In the meantime the three battalions of Coldstream advanced in a
splendid manner, carrying all before them. When men in line are going
forward with no reliable landmarks to guide them, small incidents,
quite insignificant in themselves, will often cause a slight change of
direction without their being aware of it. On starting off the 1st
Battalion Coldstream met with little resistance, and in its endeavour
to rush the foremost German trenches the left flank of the Battalion
moved ahead faster than our creeping barrage. Quickly realising what
had happened, the men checked the pace and hung back for a little,
while the right flank of the Battalion still pressed on. The check was
momentary, but caused the whole Battalion to swing slightly to the
left. This led the 2nd and 3rd Battalions Coldstream in the 1st Guards
Brigade also to ease off slightly to the left, and, as often happens,
the slight deviation was exaggerated as the advance continued, and
soon all the Coldstream battalions were moving in a northerly instead
of a north-easterly direction. A switch trench running at an angle
into the German main line gave them the impression that they were
going in the right direction, as it seemed square with their advance.
The 2nd Battalion Irish Guards swung with the 1st Battalion
Coldstream, but the 1st Battalion Scots Guards followed the 3rd
Battalion Grenadiers.

While this was happening the 2nd Battalion Grenadiers from the 1st
Guards Brigade, having completely lost sight of the 2nd and 3rd
Battalions Coldstream as it passed through the enemy’s barrage,
continued to advance according to its orders, and eventually forced
its way to the first objective, where to its surprise it found itself
between the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers and the 1st Battalion Irish
Guards.

The situation was most complicated, and yet all was well. The
Division, as a Division, had swept everything in front of it, although
not quite in the order in which it should have moved. But parts of the
German trenches remained untouched, and these had to be dealt with
before any farther progress could be made. When the 1st Battalion
Coldstream began to swing to the left, a gap was made between the two
front battalions of the 2nd Guards Brigade, which widened out as the
advance progressed. Observing this, Captain Oliver Lyttelton pushed up
100 men of the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers to fill the intermediate
space, but as the gap gradually extended, and the smoke and dust made
it impossible for them to see where they were going, these hundred men
were able to keep touch with the 1st Battalion Coldstream only, and
became detached from the rest of the Battalion.

Progress towards the first objective was made very difficult by the
failure of the Sixth Division to take the Quadrilateral. As soon as
the attacking lines showed themselves they were met by a sweeping fire
from the enemy’s machine-guns on the right flank, and were mown down.
After the first objective had been entered, and Lieut.-Colonel
Campbell, Coldstream Guards, was organising an attack upon the second
objective, it was discovered that the whole of the first objective was
not entirely secured. An attack was immediately made on that portion
of the line still occupied by the enemy, and Lieut.-Colonel Guy
Baring, who commanded the 1st Battalion Coldstream, in attempting to
gain touch with the remainder of the Brigade from which he had, for
the moment, been separated, left the trench to advance over the top of
the ground when he was struck by a bullet in the head and instantly
killed.

Lieut.-Colonel Campbell then ordered Captain Lyttelton to bomb down
the trench together with a party of the 2nd Irish Guards under
Lieutenant Mylne. But hardly had they started when the Germans came
running down the trench, holding up their hands. They were being
pursued by another bombing party, composed, not of the 3rd Battalion
Grenadiers as might have been expected, but the 2nd Battalion
Grenadiers.

Now that the whole of the first objective was in our hands the advance
towards the second objective at once took place. On the extreme right
no ground could be gained, but farther towards the centre the 3rd
Battalion Grenadiers reached a position which it assumed to be the
second objective, but was in fact, according to the report from the
aeroplanes, half-way between the first and second objectives.

During this last advance Captain Stanhope and Second Lieutenant
Jackson were killed. Lieutenant W. Stainton was reported missing, and
there were several conflicting stories as to what had happened to him.
Second Lieutenants Thrupp and Cassy were wounded, as well as Second
Lieutenant Cornish, who behaved with great gallantry and was
recommended for a Military Cross.

As to whether it would have been possible to push on at once into
Lesbœufs, accounts vary. Certainly those in front thought that had
reinforcements come up the town would have fallen into our hands
without further opposition. It was not known, however, that the right
flank of the Division was absolutely unprotected, and that the farther
the Division advanced the more perilous its position was bound to
become. Even if Lesbœufs had been taken, it is difficult to believe
that it could have been held against counter-attacks with the right
flank thus in the air.

The sight of the Germans retiring hastily towards Bapaume and
withdrawing their field-guns proved too tempting for some adventurous
spirits, and patrols were organised to press on towards Lesbœufs.
After consulting their maps, Captain Sir Ian Colquhoun, 1st Battalion
Scots Guards, and Captain Lyttelton, 3rd Battalion Grenadiers,
determined to keep the Germans in front of them on the move, and they
were joined soon after by Major Rocke, Captain Alexander, and
Lieutenant Mylne of the Irish Guards. Sir Ian Colquhoun had already
won a reputation as the bravest of the brave, and was credited with
having killed a large number of Germans in personal combat. The others
were very much of the same type――officers who were never content with
simply carrying out their orders, but would instantly take advantage
of any weakness in the German defence to drive a success home.

Having collected about twenty men, Sir Ian Colquhoun pushed forward to
reconnoitre towards Lesbœufs, followed soon after by Major Rocke and
Captain Alexander with some men of the Irish Guards. Captain Lyttelton
called on the men of the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers who were near, and
brought the whole party up to about 120. This party pushed on, and met
with no opposition for 800 yards. At this stage they found themselves
in an unoccupied trench running along the bottom of a little gully,
with standing crops in front of them. They could have pushed on into
Lesbœufs, but owing to their small numbers and, as they expressed it,
the ”draughtiness of their flanks,” they decided to hold on where they
were and send back for reinforcements. Messages were accordingly
despatched to the Brigade Headquarters, and were marked, “To be read
by all officers on the way.”

This daring attempt to capture more ground from the enemy was quite a
feasible operation, but its success undoubtedly depended on whether
reinforcements could reach them before the Germans returned. For so
small a party to try and do anything more than hold the trench until
an adequate force arrived would have been madness. Every possible
precaution was taken against surprise, and Lewis guns were placed on
each flank. From 1 P.M. onwards this gallant little band waited and
waited for the reinforcements which never arrived. Meanwhile, finding
that the British attack had spent itself, the Germans began returning
in small bodies, and soon after 5 P.M. a whole battalion was seen
advancing. The position of this party was now becoming serious.
Gradually the Germans were moving round each flank, and even getting
to their rear.

At 6 P.M. they were still doggedly holding on to their trench, being
fired at from all sides, when suddenly a company of the enemy, 250
strong, charged them in front. The surprise was complete, as the
standing crops hid the Germans till the last moment. With 250 of the
enemy rushing a trench occupied by less than 100 British troops, one
might have thought it only a matter of time before our men were all
killed or taken prisoners. But the men who had followed Major Rocke,
Sir Ian Colquhoun, and Captain Lyttelton were naturally stout
fighters, and when the order to retire was given they actually
contrived to disengage themselves and get away, after killing a good
number of the enemy. Captain Lyttelton, finding himself surrounded,
threw his empty revolver at the Germans; thinking it was a Mills bomb,
they ducked, and gave him time to scramble out of the trench and
escape.

Even then, had the Germans only stayed where they were and fired at
the retreating party, they might have inflicted considerable losses,
but they came running on, firing from the shoulder, and so allowed
these gallant men to rejoin the main British line with astonishingly
few casualties. When once they were safe, the pursuers were greeted by
such a deadly fire from our trenches that numbers of them were killed,
and the rest scattered in all directions.

Meanwhile General Ponsonby pressed for the 3rd Guards Brigade to be
sent up, but the reports which reached General Feilding from the air
showed that the troops in front were not in the positions ascribed to
them, and as the situation on both flanks of the Division was
unsatisfactory, and the Germans were reported to be massing between
Morval and Lesbœufs, he considered that it would be impossible to
throw forward all his reserves. However, the 4th Battalion Grenadiers
was ordered to reinforce the 2nd Guards Brigade, and told by General
Ponsonby to strengthen the right flank.

[Sidenote: Sept. 16.]

All that night the right flank of the 2nd Guards Brigade was being
bombed, and Captain J. Hopley, who behaved with great gallantry, at
one time had his men standing back to back and firing both ways. The
next day, September 16, the 2nd Guards Brigade was relieved by the
61st Infantry Brigade, who continued the attack, and secured the next
objective.

The percentage of officers killed and wounded in the 3rd Battalion
Grenadiers was exceptionally high; out of 22 officers who went into
action, 17 were killed or wounded. Lieut.-Colonel Sergison-Brooke was
wounded almost at the start. Captain A. K. Mackenzie, Captain the Hon.
R. P. Stanhope, Lieutenant E. H. J. Wynne, Lieutenant Raymond Asquith,
Lieutenant W. A. Stainton, Lieutenant C. G. Gardner, Second Lieutenant
G. D. Jackson were killed; Captain G. G. Gunnis and Second Lieutenant
E. G. Worsley were mortally wounded, and subsequently died; Captain F.
J. V. B. Hopley, Lieutenant W. Champneys, Lieutenant A. O. Whitehead,
Second Lieutenant M. Thrupp, Second Lieutenant D. W. Cassy, Second
Lieutenant G. M. Cornish, Second Lieutenant H. St. J. Williams, and
Second Lieutenant J. F. Worsley were wounded.

Amongst other ranks the casualties were 395 killed and wounded.

On September 20 the 3rd Battalion moved into bivouacs at Carnoy, where
it remained until the second attack of the Guards Division on the
25th. The 2nd Guards Brigade was then, however, in reserve, and, owing
to the complete success of the attack, its services were not required.
The 3rd Battalion Grenadiers was in Corps Reserve during the attack,
but returned to the Brigade in the evening. On the 26th Lieutenant C.
C. Carstairs and Second Lieutenant C. F. Johnston joined.


THE 1ST BATTALION

[Sidenote: 1st Batt.]

At the end of August the 3rd Guards Brigade went through a period of
training which lasted until September 7; during this time it stayed in
billets at Ville-sous-Corbie. Captain E. Sheppard joined the 1st
Battalion Grenadiers on September 3. On the 8th the Brigade moved up
into the line and took over Ginchy, which had just been captured by
the Sixteenth Division. The 4th Battalion Grenadiers and 1st Battalion
Welsh Guards were placed in the front trenches, while the 1st
Battalion Grenadiers and 2nd Battalion Scots Guards were in reserve.

The officers who went up with the 1st Battalion were:

     Lieut.-Colonel M. E. Makgill-Crichton-Maitland  Commanding Officer.
     Capt. E. H. J. Duberly                          Adjutant.
     Lieut. R. P. le P. Trench, M.C.                 Bombing Officer.
     Lieut. A. V. L. Corry, M.C.                     Lewis Gun Officer.
     Capt. W. D. Drury-Lowe, D.S.O.                  King’s Company.
     Lieut. G. F. Pauling                              ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. B. G. Samuelson                        ”       ”
     Capt. A. C. Graham                              No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. E. B. Shelley                             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. E. G. L. King                         ”       ”
     Capt. E. N. E. M. Vaughan                       No. 3 Company.
     2nd Lieut. O. F. Stein                           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. C. C. T. Sharp                        ”       ”
     Capt. L. G. Fisher-Rowe                         No. 4 Company.
     2nd Lieut. R. H. P. J. Stourton                  ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. W. H. Lovell                          ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. L. de J. Harvard                     Sapping Platoon.

The rest of the officers, as well as the Sergeant-Major, Senior
Drill-Sergeant, and Company Sergeant-Majors, remained behind with the
Transport.

[Sidenote: Sept. 10-11.]

At 3.30 A.M. on the 10th the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards reported that
it had completed the relief of the 48th Brigade, and was digging in on
a line 200 yards east of the south-east corner of Delville Wood to 100
yards north of Ginchy on the Flers road, and 250 yards east of the
Lesbœufs road. Its left was in touch with the 164th Brigade, but its
right was in the air. Meanwhile the 4th Battalion Grenadiers was
relieving the 47th Brigade between Guillemont and Leuze Wood. But
although both these battalions were carrying out their orders
correctly, there was a gap of at least 600 yards between them, owing
doubtless to the fact that the troops they had to relieve were not
quite in the positions they had been reported as occupying. The 47th
Brigade had been held up by the Quadrilateral, while the 48th Brigade
on its left had advanced some distance.

On learning this, Brigadier-General Corkran decided to employ some
companies from the battalions in reserve to fill up the gap, and
accordingly instructed Lieut.-Colonel Maitland to send one company to
support the 4th Battalion Grenadiers and another company to the Welsh
Guards. No. 2 Company, under Captain Graham, was despatched to Arrow
Head Copse in support of the 4th Battalion Grenadiers on the right of
the Brigade, and while going on ahead to find Lieut.-Colonel Lord
Henry Seymour, Lieutenant E. King was hit by a rifle bullet in the
leg, and Lieutenant E. B. Shelley and Lieutenant Llewellyn were
wounded shortly afterwards. Captain Vaughan, with No. 3 Company, was
instructed to place himself under the orders of Lieut.-Colonel W.
Murray-Threipland, while the rest of the Battalion remained a little
distance behind in case of emergency.

Hardly had the Welsh Guards finished their relief, when they were
attacked, and had to fight hard to maintain their position. Coming on
in great force as early as 3 A.M., the Germans began to press back the
right of their line from the sunken road. Every available man had been
hurried to the front line, where the casualties were thinning out the
ranks to an alarming extent, and even the 100 Grenadiers who had been
sent up as ammunition carriers had to be put in as supports. The Welsh
Guards had lost a good many officers and N.C.O.’s, and matters were
beginning to look serious when Captain Vaughan arrived with No. 3
Company of the 1st Battalion Grenadiers, having passed through a
barrage of 5·9 shells near Trônes Wood in artillery formation. He was
at once sent off by Lieut.-Colonel Murray-Threipland to take over the
line on the right of the Welsh Guards and relieve the Munster
Fusiliers, who had had some very heavy fighting and were much shaken.
Second Lieutenant Stein went on with the leading platoon, and the
relief was carried out by sections and completed by noon.

It was anything but a pleasant position, as both flanks were in the
air, and the Company was occupying an extended front at right angles
to the trench occupied by the Welsh Guards. Captain Vaughan was told
that the attack would probably come from the left, and made his
dispositions accordingly. He placed two sections in shell-holes in
échelon on the left, and established a double block at that end of the
trench with a strong bombing section, supported by a Lewis gun; the
other Lewis gun he stationed on the right flank. Second Lieutenant
Sharp was in charge of the left of the Company and Second Lieutenant
Stein of the right.

The day proved quiet and uneventful, the enemy showing no inclination
to advance, but at 10 P.M. their attack began. Coming on in four
waves, they not only succeeded in getting between No. 3 Company and
the Welsh Guards, but even gained a footing in the front trench. The
Lewis gun on the left did excellent work, but the men in the bombing
post were all knocked out. At the same time the Welsh Guards were
heavily attacked all down their line, and Lieut.-Colonel
Murray-Threipland sent a message to Captain Vaughan to say that his
front line was falling back somewhere to the centre of Ginchy, and
asking him to fill up the gap between them until reinforcements could
be brought up. Captain Vaughan replied that his left flank was in
contact with the enemy, and he could not, therefore, throw back that
flank, but that he had double-locked the trench on that side; if
reinforcements did not reach him soon, he would endeavour to protect
his flanks as best he could.

This Company’s situation was now becoming precarious. It had the enemy
at each end of a very long trench; enemy in front of it and enemy
behind it. It was short of bombs and practically out of ammunition. At
one time it had some of the enemy actually in the trench, but
fortunately their bayonets were still left to them, and not a German
survived to dispute possession with them. Apparently the enemy did not
know that this was an advanced trench, thinly held; probably he
thought it was his old line 100 yards farther back. In any case he
found it a hard nut to crack, in spite of his superior numbers and
obvious advantages. The men of No. 3 understood that if they gave way
it would go hard with the Welsh Guards, and refused to yield an inch.
Sergeant Whittaker showed great courage and skill with the bombing
party, and was responsible for killing a large number of Germans, as
well as holding up the enemy’s attack on the left.

Both Second Lieutenant Sharp and Second Lieutenant Stein were wounded,
in addition to many N.C.O.’s, and 56 men in all were killed, but the
rest fought on and made it plain to the enemy that they had no
intention of retiring. When the ground was afterwards cleared, over
100 Germans were found dead in front of the trench, amongst them being
a captain named von Hahen and two other officers. Throughout this
difficult operation Captain Vaughan directed the proceedings with
great coolness, and his messages were clear, precise, and cheerful.
His stubborn defence of his trench undoubtedly saved the Welsh Guards
from being surrounded.

     [Illustration:

     _Speaight Ltd. photographers_      _Emery Walker ph. sc._
     _Brigadier-General C. E. Corkran, C.M.G._]

General Corkran in the meantime sent up two companies of the 2nd
Battalion Scots Guards to the assistance of the Welsh Guards, and they
arrived at 3.30 P.M. The remaining companies of the 1st Battalion
Grenadiers were despatched to Guillemont, while the rest of the Scots
Guards took their place near Bernafay Wood. After continuous fighting
the Welsh Guards had managed to straighten their line, and Captain
Ashton of that regiment organised some bombing attacks, and regained
all the ground lost during the day. About midnight on the 11th the
Welsh Guards were relieved by the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards.

Meanwhile the King’s Company 1st Battalion Grenadiers, under Captain
Drury-Lowe, moved into the line to fill up the gap between the left of
No. 3 Company and the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards, which now occupied
the line originally held by the Welsh Guards. In carrying out this
operation the King’s Company captured fifty German prisoners. No. 4
Company, under Captain L. G. Fisher-Rowe, moved into the line on the
left of the Scots Guards to fill up another gap there. Second
Lieutenant Stourton was wounded in the shoulder while in charge of the
carrying party of 100 men that went into the line early that
afternoon.

[Sidenote: Sept. 12.]

At 2 A.M. No. 2 Company, under Captain A. C. Graham, was ordered to
bomb along a trench running east from the right of No. 3 Company along
the south side of the Ginchy Telegraph Road, and attack the
Quadrilateral. At that time it was not known how strongly this point
was held. The formation of the bombing attack was:

     Bombing party        10 men and 1 N.C.O.
     Blocking party        4    ”    1   ”
     Bombing party        10    ”    1   ”
          One platoon under a subaltern.
     Bombing party        10 men and 1 N.C.O.
     Blocking party        4    ”    1   ”
     Lewis gun             6    ”    1   ”
               One platoon.
          The Company Commander.
               Two platoons.

Each bombing party was composed as follows:

     2 bayonet men carrying 6 bombs each.
     1 thrower carrying 6 bombs.
     2 carriers carrying 12 bombs each.
     1 N.C.O. carrying 6 bombs.
     1 Mills adapter firer carrying 6 Mills adapters.
     2 Mills adapter carriers carrying 10 Mills adapters.
     2 bomb carriers carrying 12 bombs each.

Each blocking party was composed of four privates and one N.C.O.,
carrying 25 sand-bags and 1 shovel each.

Every man in the Company carried 4 Mills bombs, 4 sand-bags, and 225
rounds S.A.A., while every alternate man carried a shovel. Six men and
1 N.C.O. were left in the old line, with a Lewis gun to cover the
right flank, while No. 3 found the Lewis gun to cover the left.

All the ground had been obliterated by shells, and No. 2 Company found
its line with some difficulty and advanced to within 100 yards of the
Quadrilateral, where it was held up by machine-gun fire. Captain
Graham was killed by a shell during the advance, and Captain
Fisher-Rowe took his place, but among other ranks the casualties were
not heavy. There was nothing more to be done but to block the trench
as far as they had got and consolidate the line. At 6 A.M. the whole
Battalion made another attack, and attempted to seize the
Quadrilateral in conjunction with the Fifty-sixth Division, but the
place proved too strong. This time the Battalion lost heavily;
Lieutenant A. V. L. Corry was killed, and there was a large number of
casualties among the other ranks.

[Sidenote: Sept. 13.]

Next day the 1st Battalion Grenadiers was relieved at 2 A.M. by the
2nd Battalion Irish Guards, and went into camp at Happy Valley.

That afternoon there was a conference of Commanding Officers, when
General Corkran explained the dispositions for the impending attack.
The 1st and 2nd Guards Brigades were to attack on the 15th, while the
3rd Guards Brigade would be in reserve. The orders issued by
Brigadier-General Corkran are given below.


3RD GUARDS BRIGADE

     _Operation Order, No. 59_

     1. The Fourth Army will attack the enemy’s defences between
     Combles Ravine and Martinpuich on the 15th September, with the
     object of seizing Morval, Lesbœufs, Gueudecourt, and Flers, and
     breaking through the enemy’s system of defence.

     The French are attacking simultaneously on the south and the
     Reserve Army on the north.

     The Eighth Division are attacking on the right of the Guards
     Division and the Fourteenth on the left. The Division is
     attacking with the 2nd Guards Brigade on the right and the 1st
     Guards Brigade on the left. The forming-up areas are shown on the
     map issued to the C.O.’s. Tanks will be employed to co-operate
     with the attack. Information regarding their employment is
     forwarded separately.

     2. The 3rd Guards Brigade will be in Divisional Reserve, and will
     be formed up on the night of the 14/15th Sept. in and east of
     Trônes Wood as follows:

     4th Batt. Grenadier Guards, east of wood between railway and
       Montauban――Guillemont road.
     2nd Batt. Scots Guards, north of railway in S.24.C.
     1st Batt. Grenadier Guards, about the trench running north and
       south through the centre of the wood.
     1st Batt. Welsh Guards and Machine-gun Company, less four guns,
       along the edge of the wood.
     Trench Mortar Battery in the vicinity of Copse S.24.C.50. A
       separate order is issued regarding the move to these positions.

     3. At zero hour plus 1 hour and 30 minutes the Brigade will
     advance in the following order:

     The 4th Batt. Grenadier Guards to T.19.b astride the
       Guillemont――Ginchy road.
     The 2nd Batt. Scots Guards to T.13.c.
     These two Battalions will halt when leading troops reach S.W.
       outskirts of Ginchy.
     1st Batt. Grenadier Guards to the vicinity of Guillemont Station.
     1st Batt. Welsh Guards to N.W. of 1st Batt. Grenadier Guards with
       their left on Waterlot Farm.
     Brigade H.Q. Company to S.24.a.
     Brigade T.M. Battery will not move.
     The Battalions will be formed up in depth.

     4. (_a_) If the attack is completely successful, the rôle of the
     Brigade will be to pass through the 1st and 2nd Guards Brigades
     and support the cavalry beyond the fourth objective. The cavalry
     will not enter villages.

     (_b_) Should the attack be partially successful and the fourth
     objective reached in the face of determined resistance, the
     Brigade might be required to relieve the 1st and 2nd Guards
     Brigades in the line of the fourth objective, and move into
     position in reserve in T.8.c and T.7.d.

     As soon as the situation permits, the O.C. 4th Batt. Grenadiers
     and 2nd Batt. Scots Guards will send forward officers to
     reconnoitre these reserve positions and lines of approach to
     them. Reports from these officers will be at once forwarded to
     Brigade Headquarters.

     (_c_) Should the advance be held up, the Brigade might be ordered
     to press home a fresh attack, passing through the 1st and 2nd
     Brigades.

     (_d_) If the attack on either flank be held up, the Brigade might
     be required to secure the flank of the Division, probably by
     offensive action.

     (_e_) Detailed information regarding artillery support will form
     part of the orders for any of these movements.

     (_f_) The direction of the attack is N.E. Officers must know the
     compass bearings to prominent points.

     [The remainder of the orders referred to artillery and transport,
     etc.]

                    E. C. WARNER, Captain,
               Brigade-Major, 3rd Guards Brigade.
     14/9/16.

[Sidenote: Sept. 14-15.]

On the 14th the 1st Battalion Grenadiers marched to Carnoy and then to
Trônes Wood, where it spent the night huddled together in shell-holes.
It was so bitterly cold that it was difficult to get any sleep, and
next morning every one was chilled to the bone. The ”wood” consisted
of trunks of trees blackened by shell-fire, the upper parts having
been shot away; they were quite leafless, and the splintered branches
lay all tangled over the shell craters. Amongst the wreckage were
shapeless bodies in khaki and grey; some almost skeletons, and others
with the skin stretched over the bones and tanned like leather. Flying
about among the bare trees were half-a-dozen magpies, the only
occupants of the wood. All was quiet, when suddenly our barrage began,
followed by the German one, and soon the noise was terrific.

With the rest of the 3rd Guards Brigade, the 1st Battalion Grenadiers
advanced to a position south-west of Ginchy in artillery formation,
and proceeded to strengthen the line of trenches there. The Brigade
was to support the attack of the other two brigades, or to counter any
hostile movements against the right flank of the Division, which was
in the air, as the Sixth Division had been held up by the
Quadrilateral. The 4th Battalion Grenadiers and 2nd Battalion Scots
Guards accordingly moved up to a position about half-a-mile north of
Ginchy, while the 1st Battalion Grenadiers and 1st Battalion Welsh
Guards took their places south-west of that village, and were employed
most of the day in supplying carrying parties for the other two
brigades.

Second Lieutenant L. G. E. Sim and 100 men of No. 3 Company did
particularly good work in carrying up ammunition and materials under
fire to the battalions in the front line of trenches.

Lieutenant Samuelson was sent forward that night by Lieut.-Colonel
Maitland to ascertain where the leading line had got to, so that he
might know exactly the position occupied by the 1st and 2nd Guards
Brigades. After stumbling about for three-quarters of an hour he
reached the trench indicated by the guides, but it was deserted except
for a few wounded. So he had to push on still farther, and eventually
found the front trench occupied by a mixed mass of men of the Guards
Division.

  [Illustration: _Battle of the Somme, the evening of Sep. 15th, 1916._
                                                   _Emery Walker Ltd._]

[Sidenote: Sept. 16.]

He reported this to Lieut.-Colonel Maitland, who gave orders for the
King’s Company under Captain Drury-Lowe, and No. 4 Company under
Captain Fisher-Rowe, to advance through Ginchy. There were apparently
no guides, and after passing south of Ginchy these two companies
advanced towards the front line until they met Lieut.-Colonel
Murray-Threipland, who told them there were no unoccupied trenches in
front. They therefore returned to their original position, having
unluckily lost five N.C.O.’s, who were killed or wounded by a single
shell that pitched in their midst.

At 9 A.M. the order came for the 1st Battalion to move up so as to be
ready to attack with the rest of the 3rd Guards Brigade. Having joined
the other battalion, the 1st Battalion Grenadiers reached a position
just behind the starting-point at 11.15 A.M. The 3rd Guards Brigade,
with the 1st Battalion Grenadiers on the right, the 1st Battalion
Welsh Guards on the left, and the 4th Battalion Grenadiers in support,
was ordered to pass through the battalions in the front line and
attack the previous day’s third objective, or Blue line, but all the
Commanding Officers raised a protest against an advance unsupported in
any way by artillery fire, and General Corkran reported this back to
the Divisional Headquarters. The protest was overruled, and the attack
was ordered to begin at once. The 1st Battalion Grenadiers reached the
high ground west of Lesbœufs, but was met with heavy machine-gun fire,
opened on it from the church tower and other strong points. Second
Lieutenant Sim was killed, and Second Lieutenant Samuelson wounded, in
addition to some casualties among other ranks.

[Sidenote: Sept. 17-19.]

Orders were given to consolidate the position which had been reached,
and the 1st Battalion, having been relieved by the 59th Infantry
Brigade, returned to bivouacs in Carnoy. On the 18th Major A. F. A. N.
Thorne, D.S.O., left to take command of the 3rd Battalion, and
Lieutenant C. H. C. Healy and Lieutenant W. J. Dashwood joined.

[Sidenote: Sept. 19-24.]

On the 20th the 1st Battalion Grenadiers marched to the trenches west
of Lesbœufs and remained there till the next day, when it was relieved
by the 3rd Battalion Coldstream. Lieutenant Dashwood was wounded while
his Company was going into the front line. On the 24th the 1st
Battalion left Trônes Wood and marched to the assembly trenches in
preparation for the attack next day, for which Brigadier-General
Corkran issued the following orders:


3RD GUARDS BRIGADE

     _Operation Order, No. 66_

     1. The Fourth Army will renew the attack on the 25th Sept. in
     combination with the attacks by the French in the south and the
     Reserve Army in the north. The Guards Division will capture
     Lesbœufs. The 1st Guards Brigade will attack on the right and the
     3rd Guards Brigade on the left. The Fifth Division will attack
     Morval on the right and the Twenty-first Division (62nd Brigade)
     will attack Gueudecourt on the left of the Guards Division.

     2. _Objectives._――The objectives, assembly trenches, and dividing
     line between brigades and divisions are marked on attached map.

          The first objective Green.
          The second objective Brown.
          The third objective Blue.

     The 2nd Batt. Scots Guards and the 4th Batt. Grenadiers will
     capture the first and second objectives, and will advance in two
     waves on a front of two companies each. The 2nd Batt. Scots
     Guards will attack on the right and the 4th Batt. Grenadiers on
     the left.

     The 1st Batt. Grenadiers will pass through the two leading
     battalions and capture the third objective. The 1st Batt. Welsh
     Guards, less two companies, will be held in Brigade Reserve in
     T.8.a.

     3. _The Assault._――The 2nd Batt. Scots Guards and 4th Batt.
     Grenadiers will be formed up in X and Y trenches, and will
     advance to the attack of the first objective at zero hour close
     up to their barrage. There are two hostile lines to cross before
     the objective is reached, the first being from T.2.b.97 to
     T.8.b.3.10, and the second in the main German Brown line.

     These two battalions will reorganise in the first objective and
     advance to the attack of the second objective at zero + 1 hour.

     The left of the 2nd Batt. Scots Guards will direct. The 1st Batt.
     Grenadiers will be formed up in Z trench and will advance so as
     to reach the first objective at zero hour + 1 hour. The Battalion
     will advance to the attack of the third objective so as to reach
     their barrage 200 yards beyond the second objective at zero + 2
     hours.

     Two companies of the 1st Batt. Welsh Guards will be formed up in
     T.8.a, and will move into X line so as to be ready to occupy the
     first objective as soon as the 1st Batt. Grenadiers leave that
     line. In timing their advance to the X line these two companies
     will seize opportunities offered by any slackening of the hostile
     barrage.

     4. _Consolidation._――The 4th Batt. Grenadiers and 2nd Batt. Scots
     Guards will consolidate the second objective. At zero hour + 2
     hours the 4th Grenadiers will push a unit forward by the sunken
     road in N.33.b and d and consolidate a strong point at the
     northern end, obtaining touch with the 62nd Infantry Brigade. The
     Battalion will also consolidate a strong point on the left of the
     second objective. The O.C. 2nd Batt. Scots Guards will detail one
     company to push forward at zero hour + 2 hours on his right flank
     and consolidate a strong point to protect the right rear of the
     1st Batt. Grenadiers against attack from the south.

     Two companies of the 1st Batt. Welsh Guards will consolidate the
     first objective, making a strong point on the left flank of that
     objective and at N.32.d.8.3, and maintaining touch with the 62nd
     Infantry Brigade.

     In the event of the Brigades on our right and left being held up,
     defensive flanks will be formed. As soon as the situation
     demands, half a battalion will be advanced to the sunken road in
     R.34.a and d.

     5. _Preliminary Movement._――Battalions will be moved up to the
     assembly positions on the night of the 24/25th September. The 1st
     Batt. Grenadiers will not move before 10 P.M.

     Assaulting battalions will cut any wire in front of our trenches
     on the night of the 24/25th September. Wire-cutters can be drawn
     at Guillemont station if required. Units will report when they
     have reached their assembly positions as detailed above on the
     night of the 24/25th September; special relief of 1st Batt. Welsh
     Guards will be arranged direct between O.C. 4th Batt. Grenadiers,
     2nd Batt. Scots Guards, and 1st Batt. Welsh Guards.

     [The remainder of the orders referred to artillery and transport.]

                    E. C. WARNER, Captain,
               Brigade-Major, 3rd Guards Brigade.

The Z line referred to in these orders was a narrow trench about five
feet deep, a little way behind the British front line.

[Sidenote: Sept. 25.]

The first objective or Green line was the last German trench running
north and south, well in front of the villages. The second or Brown
line was a sunken road with dug-outs about 800 yards in rear of the
first, and the third or Blue line was another sunken road some 600
yards farther back still. Zero hour was fixed for 12.35 P.M.

The following officers took part in the attack on September 25:

     Lieut.-Colonel M. E. Makgill-Crichton-Maitland  Commanding Officer.
     Capt. E. H. J. Duberly                          Adjutant.
     Lieut. G. F. Pauling                            Bombing Officer.
     Capt. W. D. Drury-Lowe, D.S.O.                  King’s Company.
     Lieut. P. M. Spence                               ”      ”
     Capt. E. Sheppard, M.C.                         No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. R. F. W. Echlin                           ”       ”
     Lieut. C. H. C. Healy                            ”       ”
     Lieut. C. T. Swift                              No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. K. O’G. Harvard                           ”       ”
     Lieut. R. D. Lawford                            No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. R. P. le P. Trench, M.C.                  ”       ”
     Lieut. N. A. C. Flower                          Sapping Platoon.

The other officers, and the Sergeant-Major, Drill-Sergeants, Company
Sergeant-Majors, and Company Quartermaster-Sergeants remained with the
Transport.

Exactly at 12.35 P.M. the assault began, and the 3rd Guards Brigade
advanced to the attack with the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards on the
right and the 4th Battalion Grenadiers on the left. The first and
second objectives were secured with comparatively little loss,
considering the strength of the German lines.

With mathematical precision the 1st Battalion started off, and
advanced in column of platoons in fours, so as to be close up when the
moment arrived for it to pass through the leading battalions at the
second objective. The order from right to left was――the King’s
Company, No. 2, No. 4, and No. 3. The German artillery at once
directed a barrage on them with considerable accuracy, causing a
number of casualties. Necessarily the advance was slow, but the
military precision with which every order was carried out under this
shell-fire was truly remarkable. It might have been a Wimbledon
field-day, judging by the cool way in which the non-commissioned
officers gave their orders, interposed with cautions such as “Steady
by the right,” etc. And all the while the shells were falling and
exploding hideously.

On arrival at the Green line the 1st Battalion had to wait for some
time, and spent it in digging itself farther in, pressing into the
service some remaining terrified Germans who had been found alive. The
men were all eager to get on, and fretted at being left so long in
this trench. At last the moment arrived for the Battalion to continue
the advance, and again it moved on in a line.

The first two objectives had been taken by the Battalions in front,
and the moment had arrived for the 1st Battalion Grenadiers, to which
had been entrusted the attack on the third objective and the capture
of Lesbœufs, to pass through the front line and continue the advance.
It was faced with the usual problem in such attacks――how to guard the
flanks of a successful attacking force when the neighbouring division
is held up. In this case it was the left flank which remained in the
air, and although the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards was forming a
protective flank, the 1st Battalion Grenadiers was subjected to a
cruel enfilade fire. Simultaneously on the right the leading battalion
of the 1st Guards Brigade was advancing towards the third objective.

The order in which the 1st Battalion attacked was now slightly
changed: the King’s Company under Captain Drury-Lowe was still on the
right, but No. 2 came under Captain Sheppard next, with No. 4 under
Lieutenant Lawford in support. No. 3 Company under Lieutenant Swift
was nearest to the enfilade fire, and found it necessary to swing to
the left, in order to face the machine-guns which were causing so many
casualties. Both Lieutenant Swift and Lieutenant Harvard, the only two
officers with this company, were wounded, in addition to Lieutenant
Flower, and the casualties among other ranks were very heavy.

With the forward progress of the Battalion the menace to the left
flank increased, and Captain Sheppard threw back his left flank to
protect the advance, but this naturally made it difficult for him to
keep pace with the King’s Company. No. 4 Company under Lieutenant
Lawford was therefore ordered to come up between the King’s and No. 2
Companies, and the advance continued in perfect lines, never
hesitating for a moment in the face of a terrific fire. Lieutenant
Healy was wounded, and Sergeant Brooks, who led No. 14 Platoon,
behaved with great coolness and gallantry, although all his men but
two were killed or wounded. He himself was not touched in the morning,
but later in the afternoon had his right hand and wrist blown off by a
shell. Sergeant Martin, who was in charge of a Lewis gun, had all his
team knocked out, but borrowed some men from No. 2 Company, and kept
his gun in action for the rest of the day. He was afterwards awarded
the D.C.M.

As the King’s Company advanced and took the third objective, its
Commander, Captain Drury-Lowe, was killed by a shell, while he was
consulting Captain Hargreaves of the Irish Guards. He had already
gained the D.S.O. in the artillery battery, in which he had fought all
through the first years of the war, and would no doubt have earned
further distinction had he lived, for he was a man without fear and a
worthy commander of the King’s Company. Lieutenant P. M. Spence took
command, and directly the Blue line had been secured, ordered the men
to dig themselves in, which they did, in a narrow and deep trench.

In order to protect the left flank. General Corkran sent up two
companies of the Welsh Guards to watch the left of the Division, and
as soon as these arrived No. 3 Company of the 1st Battalion Grenadiers
under Lieutenant Pauling, who had been sent up to take charge of this
Company, now without officers, was once more free to join the rest of
the Battalion. When it reached the front line it was ordered to form a
strong point 400 yards in front of the junction of No. 2 and No. 4
Companies. Strong patrols were sent out to deal with any of the
enemy’s snipers who might still be lurking about in front, and they
continued their search well into the night. One patrol under Sergeant
Carter did particularly well, and managed to secure a German map
showing all their dispositions. Application was made that evening to
the Guards Division Headquarters for the cavalry to come through, but
this was refused on reference to Lord Cavan, on the ground that the
situation on the flanks of the Division was still very uncertain.

[Sidenote: Sept. 26.]

On the 26th the Germans shelled Lesbœufs with their heavy guns, but
the trenches that had been dug were good and little harm was done. No
counter-attack was made by the enemy, and that night the 1st Battalion
Grenadiers was relieved by the 1st Battalion Scots Guards, and
returned to bivouacs at Carnoy.

The total casualties in the 1st Battalion during the consolidation of
Ginchy and the two attacks were: officers, killed 4, wounded 12, total
16; other ranks, killed 80, wounded 431, missing 84, total 595.


THE 4TH BATTALION

[Sidenote: 4th Batt.]

After a course of training with the other battalions of the 3rd Guards
Brigade, the 4th Battalion Grenadiers moved up in omnibuses to the
neighbourhood of Carnoy, where it was employed in repairing a road
running from Carnoy to Wedge Wood. When this work was finished, it
bivouacked in shelters near Talus Boise, about two and a half miles
west of Leuze Wood. On September 9 Captain Mitchell left to take up an
appointment at the Central Training School at Havre.

[Sidenote: Sept. 9.]

On the evening of the 9th the 4th Battalion was sent up to relieve the
47th Brigade, which had just attacked, while the Welsh Guards took the
place of the 48th Brigade. As the attack had succeeded in some places
and failed in others, the front line ran in an irregular pattern; in
some parts large dents had been knocked in the German line, but in
others we had made no progress at all. In the particular section of
the line which the 3rd Guards Brigade was to relieve, the 48th
Brigade, on the left, had secured all its objectives, but the 47th
Brigade, in the centre, had the misfortune to find itself opposite the
Quadrilateral. It could not be blamed for failing to advance, for the
Quadrilateral was one of the strongest points in the enemy’s line, and
contained eight machine-guns. Hence its losses were very heavy and it
was quite unable to make any headway. On the other hand, the 167th
Brigade on its right had been completely successful, and had gone well
forward. So at the close of this attack the left of the 167th Brigade
and the right of the 48th Brigade were in the air, with a space of 600
yards between the two still in the hands of the enemy.

About midnight the 4th Battalion made its way slowly towards Trônes
Wood, and took over the line occupied by what was left of the 47th
Brigade between Guillemont and Leuze Wood, with its left on the Wedge
Wood Road, 500 yards south of Ginchy. The Battalion advanced across
country under a light shell-fire, leaving Guillemont immediately on
its left, and heading direct for Ginchy. On reaching its destination
No. 1 Company got touch with the supports of the 167th Brigade on the
right; No. 2 came next, and No. 3 was on the left, while No. 4
remained in support with the Battalion Headquarters.

[Sidenote: Sept. 10.]

The relief was complete by 5 A.M., and patrols were sent out in the
thick morning mist to try and locate the enemy. In the trenches that
were taken over lay heaps of wounded and dying men, some of whom had
been there for five days. There was constant sniping by the enemy in
front, and patrols from both sides continually met in No Man’s Land
(which varied from 80 to 200 yards in width); often neither party knew
whether the others were friends or foes. It was difficult for officers
commanding companies to send in any clear report of the situation, as
whole trenches had been obliterated and the position on both flanks
was most obscure. Meanwhile the incessant sniping and shell-fire made
any movement almost impossible.

[Sidenote: Sept. 11.]

As will have been seen in the account of the 1st Battalion, General
Corkran tried to remedy this very unsatisfactory state of things by
sending up No. 3 Company from the 1st Battalion Grenadiers to support
the Welsh Guards, and No. 2 Company to the 4th Battalion Grenadiers.
It was reported at the time that the Quadrilateral was thinly held by
a small garrison, which was only waiting for a suitable opportunity to
surrender. Nothing further from the truth could well have been
imagined, as the 4th Battalion soon discovered. Orders had been sent
from Brigade Headquarters for the 4th Battalion to push up north and
get touch with the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, the impression being
that these two battalions were in line; but since the Welsh Guards
were 600 yards in front of the Grenadiers’ position, it was impossible
to carry out these instructions.

Lieut.-Colonel Lord Henry Seymour did his best, and ordered No. 3
Company under Captain Stewart to move off to the left, its place in
the line being taken by No. 4 under Captain E. Spencer-Churchill.
Captain Stewart eventually got touch with a company of the 2nd
Battalion Scots Guards, which had been sent up in support of the Welsh
Guards. Noticing this movement of troops, the enemy imagined that an
attack was in preparation, and sent up a succession of lights,
presumably to call for a barrage. In answer to these signals the
German artillery despatched a regular flow of 5·9 shells, and one
pitched in the trench occupied by the 4th Battalion Grenadiers; Second
Lieutenant R. F. C. Tompson and Sergeant Todd of No. 4 Company were
killed, and Captain C. G. Goschen of No. 1 Company was wounded very
slightly in the face. All that day the Welsh Guards in their advanced
position were very heavily attacked, but managed to retain their
trenches with the help of a company from the 1st Battalion Grenadiers.

[Sidenote: Sept. 12.]

An attempt was made at 1 o’clock next morning to secure the
Quadrilateral, and No. 2 Company from the 1st Battalion carried out a
bombing attack; this proved unsuccessful, and Captain Graham,
Lieutenant Corry, and a number of other ranks were killed. No. 4
Company from the 4th Battalion went up in support, but as it was found
impossible to advance beyond a certain point, its services were not
required. At 3 A.M. the 4th Battalion was relieved by a battalion of
the Suffolk Regiment, and No. 2 and No. 4 Companies were placed at the
disposal of the officer commanding the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards,
while No. 1 and No. 3 Companies retired to Bernafay Wood, which they
reached at 5.30 A.M. While No. 2 Company was moving up to support the
Welsh Guards, Lieutenant R. Y. T. Kendall was wounded, being shot
through the lungs.

In the course of the day efforts were made to connect the various
parts of the line, and the 1st Battalion Grenadiers and 2nd Battalion
Scots Guards were sent up by companies to strengthen the weaker
portions. By the evening the line, though not by any means straight,
had been joined together in one continuous trench. Even when No. 2 and
No. 4 Companies got to Trônes Wood they were still under very heavy
shell-fire. Captain Spencer-Churchill reported this by telephone to
the Brigade-Major, who inquired whether he wanted any retaliation.
“Very much,” replied Captain Spencer-Churchill, and instructions were
accordingly given. The effect was wonderful, and after a few minutes
the German artillery turned their attention to another part of the
line. Later on No. 3 Company was sent up and placed at the disposal of
the O.C. 1st Battalion Grenadiers. At 10 P.M. the 4th Battalion
Grenadiers was relieved by the 1st Battalion Scots Guards and marched
back to Happy Valley Camp, remaining there until the 14th.

During the evening of the 14th the Battalion moved to Carnoy, and
afterwards to a small copse east of Trônes Wood, where it stayed till
the following morning.

The officers of the 4th Battalion who took part in the attack of the
15th were:

     Major (temp. Lieut.-Colonel) Lord
      Henry Seymour, D.S.O.                     Commanding Officer.
     Lieut. (temp. Captain) R. S. Lambert       Adjutant.
     2nd Lieut. R. A. Gault                     Sapping Platoon.
     2nd Lieut. A. F. Newey                     No. 1 Company.
     2nd Lieut. B. Burman                        ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. A. C. Flower                     ”       ”
     Lieut. (temp. Captain) C. R. Britten       No. 2 Company.
     2nd Lieut. G. H. T. Paton                   ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. C. G. Keith                      ”       ”
     Capt. W. A. L. Stewart                     No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. R. Farquhar                          ”       ”
     Lieut. M. H. F. Payne-Gallwey               ”       ”
     Capt. E. G. Spencer-Churchill              No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. L. Abel-Smith                        ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. J. W. F. Selby-Lowndes           ”       ”
     Capt. N. Grellier, M.C., R.A.M.C.          Medical Officer.

[Sidenote: Sept. 15.]

The attack started at 6.20 A.M., and the 1st and 2nd Guards Brigades
advanced with the 3rd Guards Brigade in reserve. After some waiting
news was brought down to the 3rd Brigade by the wounded that the first
objective had been secured, and about 9 A.M. the Brigade received
orders to move up to a position north of Ginchy, and be prepared to
support the attack or counter any hostile movement against the right
flank of the Division. Originally it had been intended that the 4th
Battalion Grenadiers should pass through the rows of massed
field-guns, but when the guns began an intense fire this was obviously
impossible, and orders were therefore issued for the Battalion to move
by platoons at 100 yards’ interval along the old railway. The advance
was made with the 4th Battalion Grenadiers on the right and the 2nd
Battalion Scots Guards on the left, and they reached trenches near
Ginchy in comparative safety, as the German barrage did not extend so
far back.

Second Lieutenant Keith from No. 2 Company and Second Lieutenant
Farquhar from No. 3 were sent on to locate and report on a position on
the other side of Ginchy, to which the Battalion was to move later. On
their return the two battalions moved forward, and passed over what
had been the first objective of the two leading brigades, where heaps
of dead Germans remained as evidence of the recent fighting. On
arrival at their destination 500 yards north of Ginchy, the two
battalions dug in in a defensive position, with a support line facing
half right. In the line was a stranded tank whose commander claimed to
have destroyed two of the enemy’s machine-guns. It was hopelessly
stuck, and, after the crew had spent most of the day vainly trying to
move it, was eventually used to provide excellent cover for a dug-out
which was constructed underneath it. At 5 P.M., by order of General
Feilding, the 4th Battalion Grenadiers was placed under the command of
the G.O.C. 1st Guards Brigade, and the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards
under the G.O.C. 2nd Guards Brigade. It was rather disappointing for
the 3rd Guards Brigade to be split up in this way instead of going in
as a brigade, but of course the situation in front was not known to
those who were in reserve.

At this moment No. 3 Company under Captain Stewart and No. 4 under
Captain Spencer-Churchill were sent forward through the German barrage
to protect the flanks of the 2nd Battalion Grenadiers in the 1st
Brigade. No. 4 Company moved up to an empty trench which it explored
as far as it went to the right, and there found a company of the
Durham Light Infantry, led by a most gallant officer, a captain, who
was killed soon afterwards by a German bomb. In order to expedite
matters, Captain Spencer-Churchill sent twenty to thirty men over the
top to co-operate with the party working down the trench, and the
Germans were soon driven back some distance. Meanwhile No. 3 Company
had gone to strengthen the left of the line held by the 2nd Battalion.
These two companies remained in their position during the night of the
15th, while No. 1 and No. 2 stayed near Ginchy with the Battalion
Headquarters.

[Sidenote: Sept. 16.]

Next morning Lieut.-Colonel Lord Henry Seymour was ordered to withdraw
one company from the line, and sent a message to Lieut.-Colonel de
Crespigny, asking him whether he would prefer to keep No. 4 Company on
his right or No. 3 on his left. He decided to keep No. 3, and Captain
Spencer-Churchill accordingly brought his Company back to
Headquarters. While moving back through the barrage with No. 4
Company, Lieutenant Abel-Smith was wounded in the arm, and there were
about seventy casualties among other ranks. Second Lieutenant R.
Gault, in charge of the sapping platoon, went up to help the 2nd
Battalion, and while putting out posts in front of the line was shot
through the head. Instructions were given for Corkran’s Brigade to
pass through the leading brigades and continue the attack on the third
objective, but owing to a protest having been referred back to the
Corps Commander, the actual attack did not start until 1.15. The 1st
Battalion Grenadiers and 1st Battalion Welsh Guards carried it out,
with Nos. 2 and 3 Companies from the 4th Battalion Grenadiers in
support. But this advance was soon held up by the enemy’s
machine-guns, and the battalions were told to dig in where they were.
No. 3 Company from the 4th Battalion took part in the operation, and
Sergeant Higgins particularly distinguished himself by clearing the
Germans out of a trench and killing several single-handed.

That night Corkran’s Brigade was relieved by the Twentieth Division
and returned to Carnoy. There it remained in bivouacs until the 20th,
when it returned to the line just north of Ginchy. On the 18th Second
Lieutenant H. C. S. Maine joined from the entrenching battalion, and
on the 19th Second Lieutenant A. R. Ellice and a draft of thirty men
arrived.

[Sidenote: Sept. 20.]

Going up to the trenches in front of Lesbœufs at 7 P.M. on the 20th to
dig communication and assembly trenches for the attack of the 25th,
the 4th Battalion had what seemed an interminable march, owing to the
congestion of the traffic and the bad state of the ground. The only
available road was one mass of transport, guns, etc., and so deep was
the mud in some places that it was difficult to cover more than
half-a-mile an hour. To make matters worse the guides who had been
supplied lost their way, and it was not till three o’clock next
morning that the relief was complete. The front-line trench was very
shallow, and not by any means bullet-proof, while the communication
trench called Gas Alley was filled with British and German corpses.

Captain Spencer-Churchill was ordered to go with his company to Gas
Alley and dig a trench connecting it with the one on the right, the
exact position of which was not known. He was told that the
shell-holes round the block in Gas Alley were strongly held by the
enemy’s snipers, and that he could call for artillery support if he
thought it advisable. He decided that it would be useless to send out
patrols at night, and determined to find the other trench himself.
This he accomplished by going a long way round by the sunken road, and
on reaching the block in the other trench he came across a small post
with a Lewis gun which had attracted a good deal of attention from the
Germans. Having located the other trench he returned to Gas Alley and
organised a bombing party, which Lieutenant J. F. J. Joicey-Cecil was
to lead.

[Sidenote: Sept. 22-24.]

Just as the attack was about to start next morning the Germans hurled
a succession of bombs at the trench, but they exploded some distance
off and no one was hurt. Then the Grenadier party broke down the block
and advanced, but discovered that the Germans had retired 100 yards
towards their main line, where another block had been made by filling
in the trench for 40 yards. Captain Spencer-Churchill followed on and
established a bombing post there. On returning to the sunken road, he
received orders to take over Gas Alley and the 80 yards of the trench
leading into it.

Being told by the guide that it was quite safe to go over the top, he
did so, with Sergeant Roberts and his runner, Private Woolridge, but
hardly had they emerged when they found themselves in full view of the
enemy, who fired at them from all directions. One bullet passed
through Captain Spencer-Churchill’s steel helmet, scratching his face
and knocking a piece of the helmet into his eye, while another grazed
Sergeant Roberts’s ear. It was obvious, therefore, that any attempt to
connect the two trenches would have to be made below the surface; as a
preliminary, two long sticks with an empty sand-bag on top were put up
in the farther trench, and proved to be easily visible from Gas Alley.
In the meantime Lieutenant the Hon. E. W. Tennant, who had been left
in Gas Alley, had occupied his time shooting at the enemy. Apparently
there was some movement by the Germans which led him to shoot with his
revolver, and a moment later he fell dead, shot through the head by
one of the enemy’s snipers. The men of No. 4 Company now set to work
to connect the two trenches, and managed to complete the work, though
in the gathering dusk they had at first some difficulty in hitting off
the exact spot.

That night the 4th Battalion was relieved by the 1st Battalion Welsh
Guards and retired to Bernafay Wood. Captain Spencer-Churchill’s eyes
were now giving him great trouble, and his sight became so much
affected that he had to be led by his orderly. At Bernafay Wood the
surgeon insisted on giving him a tetanus injection and sending him
down to hospital. The command of the Company therefore devolved on
Second Lieutenant D. O. Constable. During the next two nights the 4th
Battalion was again engaged in digging communication and assembly
trenches, and had some casualties. On the 24th the orders for next
day’s attack were issued, and at night the 4th Battalion took up its
position in the line.

The officers of the 4th Battalion who took part in the attack of the
25th were:

     Major (temp. Lieut.-Colonel) Lord
      Henry Seymour, D.S.O.                    Commanding Officer.
     Lieut. (temp. Captain) R. S. Lambert      Adjutant.
     Capt. C. G. Goschen                       No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. A. C. Flower                        ”       ”
     Lieut. A. R. Ellice                        ”       ”
     Lieut. (temp. Captain) C. R. Britten      No. 2 Company.
     2nd Lieut. C. G. Keith                     ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. C. S. Maine                  ”       ”
     Capt. W. A. L. Stewart                    No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. R. Farquhar                         ”       ”
     Lieut. J. F. J. Joicey-Cecil               ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. M. H. F. Payne-Gallwey          ”       ”
     Lieut. D. O. Constable                    No. 4 Company.
     2nd Lieut. J. W. F. Selby-Lowndes          ”       ”
     Capt. N. Grellier, M.C., R.A.M.C.         Medical Officer.

  [Illustration: _Battle of the Somme, the night of Sep. 25. 1916._
                                             _Emery Walker Ltd._]

[Sidenote: Sept. 25.]

The attack on the 25th, with the subsequent capture of Lesbœufs,
formed one of the most successful operations in which the Guards
Division was engaged in the war. The preparation seems to have been
complete, and every possible contingency foreseen. In the first attack
on the 15th the 4th Grenadiers had been in reserve, and so had not
seen so much of the fighting as the other battalions in the Division,
but it was now to take a leading part, and to go through some of the
toughest fighting of the whole battle of the Somme. Orders were given
for the attack to be carried out by Pereira’s Brigade on the right and
Corkran’s on the left, while Ponsonby’s Brigade remained in reserve.
In Corkran’s Brigade, the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards were to take the
right and the 4th Battalion Grenadiers the left.

When the 4th Grenadiers moved up on the night of the 24th, No. 4
Company under Second Lieutenant Constable on the right and No. 2
Company under Captain Britten were sent to the support trenches in
front of Ginchy, while No. 1 Company under Captain Goschen and No. 3
under Captain Stewart remained in Trônes Wood. On the left of the
Grenadiers was a battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry,
but it was to start from a line quite 100 yards in front of the
assembly trench occupied by No. 2 Company, which made communication
difficult. Captain Britten, realising that it was essential to keep
touch with the battalion on the left, made his men deepen a shallow
communication trench which ran in that direction. For the last five
nights the 4th Grenadiers had been constantly employed in digging, and
had been obliged to get what sleep they could during the day――not at
all the same thing as a good night’s rest.

From 10 to 12 noon the artillery bombardment continued, and was
supplemented by the Stokes mortars in the support trenches. During
these preliminaries Second Lieutenant Maine was wounded in the foot,
and sent down to the dressing station. As zero time approached the men
fixed bayonets and remained motionless, waiting for the whistle which
was to be the signal to advance. The officers in each company had
carefully explained to the platoon and section commanders exactly what
was expected of them, and each non-commissioned officer therefore knew
as much as the captain.

At 12.35 P.M. the line advanced, preceded by a creeping barrage, which
moved 150 yards ahead at the rate of 50 yards per minute. In perfect
order, with not a man out of his place, the line swept on until it
came to the two intermediate lines, which the officers had been warned
to expect somewhere in front of the first objective. These had only
recently been discovered, and no one quite knew how strongly they were
held. Although the leading companies closed up as near as they could
to the creeping barrage, they were met by a terrific machine-gun and
rifle fire from the intermediate lines, and terrible gaps were made in
the ranks. But the companies pressed on, and made short work of the
Germans in these lines. Over 150 were killed there with the bayonet.
Re-forming again, the Grenadiers rushed the first objective, which, to
their surprise, offered comparatively little resistance. Our guns,
however, had dealt effectively with the first objective, and forced
the occupants into dug-outs, whereas the intermediate lines had only
been passed over by the creeping barrage. On the right the Scots
Guards met with little opposition, and easily secured their first
objective with no serious loss.

An hour later, at 1.35 P.M., the attack on the second objective
started, and the 4th Battalion Grenadiers moved forward, preceded as
before by a creeping barrage. Although there was some stiff fighting
at the end, the second objective was secured up to time. The brigade
on the left had been held up, and the usual difficulty arose of one
brigade pressing on while another was kept back. The right of the 4th
Battalion under Sergeant Pitt had managed without difficulty to keep
touch with the Scots Guards and had reached the second objective, but
on the left, which was in the air, Second Lieutenant Keith was unable
to advance while he had the Germans on the left in the same trench as
his Company. In fact, the situation on the left had resolved itself
into a bombing fight, and while the right got forward the left had
always to form a defensive flank.

At 2.35 P.M. the 1st Battalion Grenadiers passed through the leading
battalions and attacked the third objective; but, as the left flank
was still exposed, the result was the same――the right got well forward
while the left écheloned back and dug in. To fill the gaps the Welsh
Guards were sent up, and thus a continuous line, nearly 1400 yards
long, was made, protecting the left flank of the Division. That night
the position was as follows: the 1st Grenadiers on the right in the
third objective, facing east; the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards in the
centre, facing east and north-east; the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards and
4th Battalion Grenadiers on the left, facing north. The 1st Battalion
Grenadiers were in touch with the 1st Guards Brigade on the northern
outskirts of Lesbœufs, and although the enemy made counter-attacks in
several places, the situation remained unchanged during the night. In
spite of their heavy fighting, the men were in very good spirits and
made a hearty meal off the German rations which they found, ending up
with German cigars. Water was the difficulty at first, but parties
soon came up with this, as well as food and ammunition. The only
company officers now left with the Battalion were Lieutenant Farquhar,
Second Lieutenant Keith, and Second Lieutenant J. W. F. Selby-Lowndes,
and the untiring energy they displayed elicited the highest praise
from the Commanding Officer.

A tank made its appearance at 6 A.M., and slowly crawled along on the
left of the Division towards the Gird trench, where the brigade on the
left had been checked. This trench was very strongly held by the
enemy, but when the tank arrived and fired into it 300 Germans
surrendered, and the Durham Light Infantry moved up and took
possession of it. The Leicester Regiment continued the line to the
left towards Gueudecourt. At noon a large number of Germans were seen
to leave their trenches between Gueudecourt and Le Transloy and retire
across the open in great disorder, dropping their rifles and equipment
as they went. Frantic messages were sent back by telephone to our
artillery, which opened fire on them and inflicted heavy losses.

A squadron of our cavalry rode up towards Gueudecourt, and a cavalry
patrol from the 5th Lancers went towards Lesbœufs, but Lord Cavan
decided that the situation did not permit of cavalry going through,
and they retired. Between 8 A.M. and noon the enemy ceased shelling,
but between 12 noon and 2 P.M. a barrage was sent over by the enemy’s
artillery on our two front support lines. Subsequently this died down,
and the evening was comparatively quiet. Throughout the day the
companies in the front line suffered a good deal from small parties of
snipers concealed in shell-holes, but the patrols eventually cleared
the ground. At 10 P.M. the 4th Battalion was relieved by the 2nd
Guards Brigade, and went into bivouacs at Carnoy.

From the 18th to the 26th the casualties in the 4th Battalion were
445, exclusive of officers. Among the officers Captain C. G. Goschen,
Captain W. A. L. Stewart, Lieutenant the Hon. E. W. Tennant,
Lieutenant J. F. J. Joicey-Cecil, Second Lieutenant D. O. Constable,
Second Lieutenant M. H. F. Payne-Gallwey, and Second Lieutenant A. C.
Flower were killed, and Captain E. G. Spencer-Churchill, Captain C. R.
Britten, Second Lieutenant A. R. Ellice, and Lieutenant H. C. S. Maine
were wounded. Second Lieutenant A. R. Ellice died of wounds three days
later.

The King, on hearing the result of the attack on the 15th, sent the
following telegram:

                                                  _September 16._
     GENERAL SIR DOUGLAS HAIG,
       Commander-in-Chief, British Armies in France.

     I congratulate you and my brave troops on the brilliant
     success just achieved. I have never doubted that complete
     victory will ultimately crown our efforts, and the splendid
     results of the fighting yesterday confirmed this view.
                                                       GEORGE R.I.

To which the Commander-in-Chief sent the following reply:

                                               _September 16._
     HIS MAJESTY THE KING,
       Windsor Castle.

     I have communicated to the troops your Majesty’s gracious
     and inspiriting message, for which all ranks respectfully
     offer grateful thanks.
                                        SIR DOUGLAS HAIG.

General Sir Douglas Haig also congratulated the Fourth Army in
the following terms:

                                   O.A.D.151, _September 17_.
     GENERAL SIR H. RAWLINSON,
       Commanding Fourth Army.

     The great successes won by the Fourth Army on the 15th are
     most satisfactory, and have brought us another long step
     forward towards the final victory. The further advance
     yesterday after such severe fighting was also a fine
     performance highly creditable to the troops and to Corps,
     Divisional, and Brigade Staffs. Our new engine of war, the
     Heavy Section Machine-gun Corps, acquitted itself splendidly
     on its first trial, and has proved itself a very valuable
     addition to the Army. My warmest congratulations to you and
     the Fourth Army on a very fine achievement.

                         D. HAIG, GENERAL,
          Commanding-in-Chief, British Armies in France.

The following letters passed between the Commanders-in-Chief of
the British and French Armies:

                                   G.H.Q. OF FRENCH ARMIES,
                                   _September 17, 1916_.

     TO GENERAL SIR DOUGLAS HAIG.

     MY DEAR GENERAL――I desire to convey to you my most sincere
     congratulations on the brilliant successes gained by the
     British troops under your command during the hard-fought
     battles of the 15th and 16th of September. Following on the
     continuous progress made by your Armies since the beginning
     of the Somme offensive, these fresh successes are a sure
     guarantee of final victory over our common enemy, whose
     physical and moral forces are already severely shaken.

     Permit me, my dear General, to take this opportunity of
     saying that the combined offensive which we have carried on
     now for more than two months has, if it were possible, drawn
     still closer the ties which unite our two Armies――our
     adversary will find therein proof of our firm determination
     to combine our efforts until the end, to ensure the complete
     triumph of our cause.

     I bow before those of your soldiers by whose bravery these
     successes have been achieved, but who have fallen before the
     completion of our task; and I ask you to convey, in my name
     and in the name of the whole French Army, to those who stand
     ready for the fights still to come, a greeting of
     comradeship and confidence.

                         (Signed)      J. JOFFRE.


                                   GENERAL HEADQUARTERS,
                                     BRITISH ARMIES IN FRANCE,
                                       _September 19, 1916_.

     TO GENERAL JOFFRE.

     MY DEAR GENERAL――I thank you most sincerely for the kind
     message of congratulation and goodwill that you have
     addressed to me and to the troops under my command on their
     recent successes. This fresh expression of the good wishes
     of yourself and of your gallant Army, without whose close
     co-operation and support those successes could scarcely have
     been achieved, will be very warmly appreciated by all ranks
     of the British Armies.

     I thank you, too, for your noble tribute to those who have
     fallen. Our brave dead, whose blood has been shed together
     on the soil of your great country, will prove a bond to
     unite our two peoples long after the combined action of our
     Armies has carried the common cause for which they have
     fought to its ultimate triumph.

     The unremitting efforts of our forces north and south of the
     Somme, added to the glorious deeds of your Armies unaided at
     Verdun, have already begun to break down the enemy’s powers
     of resistance; while the energy of our troops and their
     confidence in each other increases from day to day. Every
     fresh success that attends our arms brings us nearer to the
     final victory to which, like you, I look forward with
     absolute confidence.――Yours very truly,

               (Signed)      D. HAIG, General,
               Commanding-in-Chief, British Armies in France.

On the 26th Lieut.-General the Earl of Cavan sent the following
message to Major-General G. Feilding:

     Please convey to the Guards Division my thanks and
     admiration for the excellent manner in which they carried
     out their attacks to-day.

A fortnight later General Sir H. Rawlinson conveyed his appreciation
of the part taken by the Guards Division in the battle in the
following message:

     It is only since the reports have come in that it has become
     clear that the gallantry and perseverance of the Guards
     Division in the battles of the 15th and 25th September were
     paramount factors in the success of the operations of the
     Fourth Army on those days.

     On the 15th September especially, the vigorous attacks of
     the Guards, in circumstances of great difficulty, with both
     flanks exposed to the enfilade fire of the enemy, reflects
     the highest credit on all concerned, and I desire to tender
     to every officer, N.C.O., and man my congratulations and
     best thanks for their exemplary valour on that occasion.
     Their success established the battle front of the Fourteenth
     Corps well forward on the high ridge leading towards Morval
     and Lesbœufs, and made the assault of these villages on the
     25th a feasible operation.

     On the 25th September, the attack of the hostile trenches in
     front and north of Lesbœufs was conducted with equal
     gallantry and determination. In this attack the Division
     gained all the objectives allotted to them, and I offer to
     all concerned my warmest thanks and gratitude for their fine
     performance.

                              H. RAWLINSON,
                      General Commanding Fourth Army.



CHAPTER XX

OCTOBER, NOVEMBER, DECEMBER 1916

_Diary of the War_


The battle of the Somme continued, and further gains by both the
British and French armies were announced. On November 13 a successful
offensive operation was carried out by the British Army on the Ancre.

The French were still engaged in fighting at Verdun, and eventually
succeeded in regaining all the ground they had lost in that part of
the line.

The Germans now developed a strong offensive movement against the
Roumanians, who, finding themselves outnumbered and out-manœuvred,
retired into their own country.

The situation in Greece became very acute, because King Constantine,
in direct opposition to the wishes of his people, made persistent
overtures to the Germans. The Allies, on the invitation of the Greeks
themselves, landed men and blockaded the Greek coast. M. Venizelos was
brought back, and acclaimed by the people.

On the 22nd of November the Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria died.


THE 1ST BATTALION

[Sidenote: 1st Batt. Oct. 1916.]

The 1st Battalion remained in bivouacs at Carnoy after the battle of
the Somme, and on October 1 proceeded in motor buses, provided by the
French, to Fontaine-le-Sec, where it remained till the end of the
month. Training was carried out daily with bombing practice and
occasional musketry. The following officers joined during the month:
on the 5th, Second Lieutenant C. Wilkinson; on the 7th, Second
Lieutenant B. L. Lawrence; on the 18th, Lieutenant F. C. St. Aubyn and
Second Lieutenant T. P. M. Bevan; on the 19th, Second Lieutenant R. C.
Cain.

[Sidenote: Nov.]

On November 1 Field-Marshal His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught,
Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, accompanied by Colonel Sir Henry
Streatfeild, the Lieut.-Colonel, inspected the Guards Division. His
Royal Highness was received with a royal salute, and having ridden
down the ranks returned to the saluting base, when the three Brigades
marched past.

To relieve the monotony of the training, as well as to be prepared for
any eventuality, the Battalions were now trained in open warfare. On
the 10th the 1st Battalion moved in French motor buses to the sandpits
at Méaulte, where it remained five days. After spending forty-eight
hours at D Camp in Trônes Wood, it went into the front trenches east
of Gueudecourt, with the Australian Division on the left and the 1st
Guards Brigade on the right. The Battalion spent three uneventful days
in the trenches, except that while it was being relieved by the 59th
Australian Infantry, Lieutenant V. C. H. Gordon-Lennox was wounded. On
the 20th the Battalion proceeded to Montauban, moving on the following
day to Méaulte. On the 2nd Captain C. V. Fisher-Rowe joined the
Battalion, and on the 13th Lieutenant W. J. Dashwood arrived.

[Sidenote: Dec.]

After a fortnight at Méaulte the Battalion went into dug-outs in
Bouleaux Wood on December 6, and two days later relieved the 4th
Battalion in the trenches. On the 11th it retired to Maltzhorn Camp,
moving on the following day to Bronfay, and then back to Bouleaux
Wood. This routine was followed up to the end of the month, the
Battalion spending three days in the trenches followed by a week at
Maltzhorn, Bronfay, and Bouleaux, but nothing of importance happened.
On the 17th Captain P. J. S. Pearson-Gregory joined, and during the
month several drafts arrived to bring the Battalion up to strength.

  [Illustration: INSPECTION OF THE GUARDS DIVISION BY FIELD-MARSHAL
  H.R.H. THE DUKE OF CONNAUGHT, K.G.

  NOVEMBER 1, 1916.]


THE 2ND BATTALION

[Sidenote: 2nd Batt. Oct.]

After spending the end of September at Morlancourt, the 2nd Battalion
proceeded in buses lent by the French Government to Aumont, where it
remained for six weeks. The time was spent in training and musketry,
with instruction in bombing and Lewis gunnery. The following officers
joined during the month: Second Lieutenant W. H. S. Dent on the 2nd;
Captain E. O. Stewart on the 5th; Lieutenant the Hon. F. H. Manners
and Lieutenant F. A. M. Browning, Second Lieutenant R. A. W. Bicknell
and Second Lieutenant J. H. Jacob on the 6th; Second Lieutenant E. W.
Seymour on the 7th; Captain C. F. A. Walker, M.C., and Second
Lieutenant J. D. C. Wilton on the 12th; Captain I. St. C. Rose,
Captain Lord Frederick Blackwood, D.S.O., Lieutenant A. H. Penn, and
Second Lieutenant Lord Basil Blackwood on the 16th. On the 10th
Captain the Hon. W. R. Bailey, D.S.O., was granted the temporary rank
of Major, and became Second in Command of the Battalion, his place as
Adjutant being taken by Lieutenant A. H. Penn.

[Sidenote: Nov.]

On November 6 Captain I. Rose was transferred to the 3rd Battalion. On
the 10th the 2nd Battalion proceeded in French motor buses _via_
Méaulte to the Citadel Camp, where it remained for two days, after
which it marched to “H.I.” Camp near Montauban. The weather was very
bad, and the whole country was a sea of mud, which made marching
across country anything but easy. On the 15th the Battalion proceeded
to Camps A and B at Trônes Wood, and moved up the following day into
the line, relieving the 1st Battalion Irish Guards in the inside right
sector between Lesbœufs and Gueudecourt, where the front line
consisted of shell-holes joined up, and was held by a succession of
small posts. Owing to the frosty condition of the ground, the relief
was carried out quickly and without casualties, but a working platoon
that had been sent on ahead had two men killed, and Lieutenant J. D.
Wilton, the officer in charge, and two men wounded. The line was not
good, and as there were no communication trenches considerable
difficulty was experienced in bringing up the rations and trench
requirements. The second day in the trenches was one of the most
trying the Battalion had experienced, as the snow changed to rain, and
a thaw began which converted the whole ground to a morass. No one who
has not experienced the difficulties of moving about up to the knee in
liquid mud can realise the great fatigue it entails: many men were
completely exhausted, while some lost their way owing to the tracks
having been obliterated. All the time the shelling continued, causing
a certain amount of casualties. On the 19th, after a long and
difficult relief, the Battalion returned to H.I. Camp, where hot food
and warm water for the feet were provided. During the relief Captain
C. N. Newton was slightly wounded, but remained at duty. On the 21st
the Battalion marched to Méaulte, where it remained until the end of
the month. However, it took some days to clean the clothes, rifles,
and equipment which were plastered with mud, and training was not
commenced until the 23rd. Every day a certain number of men were
detailed for work on improving the roads, each company taking it in
turns to supply the necessary fatigue parties.

[Sidenote: Dec.]

On December 2 the 2nd Battalion marched _via_ Bray to Camp 108 at
Bronfay, and later moved to Maltzhorn Camp. On the 9th it relieved the
1st Battalion Irish Guards in the trenches at Sailly-Saillisel, where
again, owing to the mud, it had a very fatiguing three days, and
suffered several casualties. On the 11th it was relieved by the 2nd
Battalion Irish Guards, and marched to Maltzhorn Camp. The following
day it went to Montauban, and after two days’ rest moved up to the
front line at Combles, where the trenches were still in a bad state
owing to the wet weather. For three days it remained in the line, and
the men worked very hard on improving the trenches and making a
foundation of timber and rubble. When it was relieved, No. 4 Company
was heavily shelled and suffered a number of casualties. On the 18th
the Battalion marched to Trônes Wood, where it entrained for Plateau
Siding. On the 20th it returned to Combles, where there was little
hostile fire, but the sodden condition of the ground made all work
very difficult. After three days in the trenches it moved back to
Plateau Siding, and subsequently marched to Camp 15. Divine service
was held there on Christmas Day, but as the Battalion had to return to
the trenches the following day, the Christmas dinners were postponed
until later. Three uneventful days were spent in the trenches at
Combles, and on the 30th they went back once more to Camp 15. On the
12th Lieutenant J. N. Buchanan joined the Battalion. Brigadier-General
C. E. Pereira, C.M.G., D.S.O., was promoted and given command of a
Division. He was succeeded by Brigadier-General G. D. Jeffreys, who
had fought in every engagement since August 1914, and who had latterly
commanded the 2nd Battalion Grenadiers with conspicuous ability.


THE 3RD BATTALION

[Sidenote: 3rd Batt. Oct. 1916.]

After the battle of the Somme the 3rd Battalion moved from Carnoy to
Heucourt by train, and remained there till the end of October.
Training was carried out in accordance with the new training schemes,
and there were field days in which Advance-guards, Flank-guards, and
tactical schemes were practised.

[Sidenote: Nov.]

On November 1 Field-Marshal His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught,
accompanied by Colonel Sir H. Streatfeild, inspected the Guards
Division. On the 6th Captain I. St. C. Rose joined the Battalion. On
the 11th, after a journey in French motor lorries, the Battalion
arrived at Méaulte, where it remained until the 15th, and then moved
to Mansell Camp near Carnoy. There the men were employed in mending
the roads until the 27th, when the Battalion marched to the Camp at
L’Arbre Fourchée just north of Bray.

From this time onward the Division was divided into two groups, each
consisting of six battalions. This necessitated the 2nd Guards Brigade
being split up, and two battalions were sent to each group. The right
group consisted of the 1st Guards Brigade with the 1st Battalion
Coldstream and 2nd Battalion Irish Guards. The left group consisted of
the 3rd Guards Brigade with the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards and 1st
Battalion Scots Guards.

Thus the brigade system was in abeyance, and battalions worked the
line in a regular cycle, always going and returning to the same camp
or portion of the line. All blankets and cookers were made camp
stores, to reduce the work of the transport.

[Sidenote: Dec.]

On December 1 the 3rd Battalion moved to a camp at Maltzhorn Farm, and
on the following day marched _via_ Trônes Wood, Guillemont, and
Combles to Haie Wood, where it was taken by French guides into the
front line of trenches north of Sailly-Saillisel and south of Morval.
This portion of the line had been only recently captured by the
French, who had not had time to organise it properly. The parapets
were extremely thin, and there were few if any fire-steps, while
communication with the front was entirely overground. There was not a
single strand of wire on the frontage, and the enemy was hardly eighty
yards away. While the relief was being carried out, forty to fifty
Germans attempted to make a raid, and got right up to the parapet,
where they shot a French machine-gunner who was sitting on the saddle
of his gun. The remainder of the gun-team retreated hastily down a
small communication trench, and met No. 4 Company coming up. Rapid
fire was at once opened on the raiders, who disappeared carrying off
the machine-gun with them, and any further development of the attack
was successfully frustrated, although the German barrage on our front
line continued for some time. The following day a patrol that went out
found the bodies of seven Germans belonging to a storm section of the
23rd Grenadier Regiment of German Infantry, and close by the
machine-gun that had been lost. This gun was subsequently returned
undamaged to the French.

The rest of the time in the trenches passed without incident, but a
great deal of work was done in thickening the parapet and making
fire-steps. On the 5th the 3rd Battalion was relieved and marched to
Maltzhorn Farm. The following days were spent in going by train to
Bronfay Farm and then on to Bouleaux Wood. On the 11th the Battalion
returned to the trenches, which it found in a deplorable condition,
the parapet having fallen in along the greater part of the frontage.
Most of the men had to stand with the mud above the knee, and in some
places above the waist; some had to be dug out on the way up. Nor did
matters improve, as the weather conditions became still worse and rain
and snow came down intermittently. So bad were the trenches that it
was decided to hold the front line in islands, and to concentrate the
work on them. The three days spent in the trenches were some of the
most unpleasant the men had ever had, and when they were relieved they
were in a most exhausted condition, being encased in mud and quite wet
through. After four days’ rest, when all the arms and equipment were
overhauled, the Battalion returned to the front line for forty-eight
hours, but the trenches had already been very much improved. Two days
in and two days out of the trenches became the routine till the end of
the month, and by degrees the “islands” were made habitable. There had
been casualties almost every day in addition to cases of trench feet
and chills, but with the trenches in such a state this was inevitable.


THE 4TH BATTALION

[Sidenote: 4th Batt. Sept. 1916.]

[Sidenote: Oct.]

The 4th Battalion was sadly depleted after the battle of the Somme,
having lost nearly half its number, and a reorganisation and
redistribution of the officers and non-commissioned officers was
therefore necessary. On the 28th September Major-General Feilding
addressed the men on parade, and paid a great tribute to their share
in the battle. On the 30th the 4th Battalion moved to the sandpits at
Méaulte, and the next day to Morlancourt, where it got into motor
buses belonging to the French, and proceeded _via_ Amiens to
Epaumesnil. There it remained for five weeks; the billets were good,
the weather on the whole was fine, and the Battalion was able
gradually to recover its spirits and normal proportions. Company
training was carried out in addition to musketry practice on the
rifle-range and Lewis-gun instruction. On the 4th Brigadier-General C.
E. Corkran, commanding the 3rd Guards Brigade, addressed the Battalion
on parade, and said that their splendid behaviour during the recent
fighting could not have been surpassed. He thought that the part
played by the Battalion in the battle of the Somme equalled in
brilliance what it had achieved in any of the battles whose names were
embroidered on the Regimental Colours.

The following officers joined the Battalion during the month: on the
2nd, Captain the Hon. F. E. Needham; on the 4th, Captain E. G.
Spencer-Churchill; on the 5th, Captain E. O. Stewart and Lieutenant R.
Farquhar; on the 6th, Second Lieutenant A. C. Adams; on the 14th,
Lieutenant H. J. Boyton and Second Lieutenant the Hon. A. H. L.
Hardinge; on the 17th, Captain M. Williams and Second Lieutenant E. H.
Tuckwell.

[Sidenote: Nov.]

On November 1 Field-Marshal His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught,
accompanied by Colonel Sir Henry Streatfeild, inspected the Guards
Division. On the 10th the Battalion left Epaumesnil, and was
transported in French motor buses _via_ Amiens to the sandpits at
Méaulte. Two days later it moved to Carnoy, and on the 13th went up
into the trenches in front of Lesbœufs and Gueudecourt, with two
companies in the front line, one in support and one in reserve. The
front line was much battered, and was also 3 feet deep in mud, which
made the relief a matter of some difficulty. In addition to the
continual sniping there was considerable activity on the part of the
enemy’s artillery, which resulted in a considerable number of
casualties. The weather had now turned very cold, and it was freezing,
with snow and rain at intervals. On the 17th the 4th Battalion retired
to H Camp at Carnoy, where it remained until the end of the month. On
the 19th Lieut.-Colonel Lord Henry Seymour left to take temporary
command of the 2nd Brigade.

  [Illustration: THE GRENADIER GUARDS MARCHING IN FOURS PAST THEIR
  COLONEL, FIELD-MARSHAL H.R.H. THE DUKE OF CONNAUGHT, K.G.
                       NOVEMBER 1, 1916.]

[Sidenote: Dec.]

On December 5 the 4th Battalion took over a line of trenches near
Sailly-Saillisel, and two companies of the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards
were attached. The front line was a long one, and there were no
communication trenches, which made the relief more dangerous than
usual. After four days, during which there was little shelling, the
Battalion retired to Bouleaux Wood, and the next day proceeded to
Bronfay Farm. On the 9th Lieut.-Colonel G. C. Hamilton arrived and
took over command, and on the 14th the Battalion returned to the front
line. During this relief the Germans put down a barrage, and
Lieutenant H. J. Boyton was killed by a shell and a few men wounded.
After the first day the shelling diminished considerably, and there
were no more casualties, but the mud was as bad as ever. Private James
behaved with the greatest gallantry the first night, and went over to
bring in three men who were wounded within fifty yards of the enemy.
There were again a certain number of casualties, and Lieutenant J. W.
F. Selby-Lowndes was wounded. Returning to the line again on the 27th,
the Battalion had a quiet time, and suffered no casualties.



CHAPTER XXI

JANUARY, FEBRUARY, MARCH 1917

_Diary of the War_


[Sidenote: 1917]

At the beginning of 1917 events of the highest importance succeeded
each other with startling rapidity. On the British front a series of
operations was commenced on the Ancre, beginning at Sailly-Saillisel
Ridge; and so successful was the British offensive that village after
village was captured. The Germans adroitly retired to what was known
as the Hindenburg line, and after Bapaume and Peronne had been
captured Sir Douglas Haig pressed forward towards Cambrai on a
100-miles front. The French had some very stiff fighting between the
Aisne and the Argonne, and also between Tahure and Massiges where the
Germans broke through. There was still fighting round Verdun, and the
Germans claimed some successes there; but, on the other hand, in
conjunction with the British, the French made an advance between La
Fère and St. Quentin.

In Russia some progress had been made in the Bukovina and also near
Riga, when a revolution broke out in Petrograd. The Czar was forced to
abdicate, and Kerensky proclaimed a Russian Republic. Under the
delusion that this change would assist either Russia or the Allied
cause, the British Government sent messages of congratulation. In
Roumania the situation was hopeless, and the Germans were masters of
Wallachia. The Greek Government accepted all the Allies’ demands, and
even sent apologies; and when the junction of the French and the
Italians in South Albania isolated Greece from the Central Powers, the
activities of King Constantine in the German cause were much lessened.

On January 31 the policy of unrestricted naval warfare was adopted by
the Germans, who announced their intention of sinking every ship
neutral or otherwise. With Russia in a state of revolution, the
Germans calculated that they would be able to dispose of the other
Allies before the United States Army was ready. This was a plausible
theory, since with the tightening up of the submarine blockade there
was some prospect of Great Britain being starved into submission
before America could move. On February 3 the United States broke off
diplomatic relations with the Central Powers and declared war.

In Mesopotamia General Sir Stanley Maude commenced a series of
brilliant operations which resulted in the fall of Kut-el-Amara on
February 24, and the capture of Baghdad on March 11. In Palestine
General Sir A. Murray succeeded in inflicting a blow on the Turks at
Gaza, and took 900 prisoners, but these operations were only partially
successful.

On March 13 China broke off diplomatic relations with Germany.


THE 1ST BATTALION

[Sidenote: 1st Batt. Jan. 1917.]

The officers of the 1st Battalion on January 1, 1917, were:

     Lieut.-Colonel M. E. Makgill-Crichton-
       Maitland                                   Commanding Officer.
     Major E. N. E. M. Vaughan, D.S.O.            Second in Command.
     Capt. E. H. J. Duberly                       Adjutant.
     Capt. P. J. S. Pearson-Gregory               Bombing and L.-G.
                                                    Officer.
     Lieut. D. H. S. Riddiford                   Transport Officer.
     Lieut. and Quartermaster J. Teece            Quartermaster.
     Capt. L. G. Fisher-Rowe                      King’s Company.
     Lieut. F. C. St. Aubyn                         ”       ”
     Lieut. C. Wilkinson                            ”       ”
     Lieut. B. L. Lawrence                        No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. T. P. M. Bevan                         ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. Bird                            ”       ”
     Capt. P. M. Spence                           No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. G. F. Pauling, M.C.                    ”       ”
     Lieut. W. J. Dashwood                         ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. J. F. Eastwood                     ”       ”
     Capt. R. D. Lawford                          No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. R. P. le P. Trench, M.C.               ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. W. H. Lovell                       ”       ”
     Capt. J. C. B. Grant, R.A.M.C.               Medical Officer.

At the beginning of 1917 the 1st Battalion was in camp at Maltzhorn,
where it had retired after the usual tour of duty in the trenches. On
the 2nd it moved to Méaulte, and on the 10th to Billon Wood Camp,
where it remained for twelve days’ training by companies. On the 22nd
it proceeded to Priez Farm, and on the 25th to Maurepas. Lieutenant C.
S. de Cerjat joined on the 14th, and Lieutenant C. D. Baker on the
24th.

On the 30th the 1st Battalion moved into the line about fifteen miles
north of St. Quentin, and during the first three days spent in the
trenches nothing occurred worth recording. Just before it was
relieved, however, the Germans attempted a raid on the advanced posts.
An intense bombardment lasting for thirty-five minutes warned the 1st
Battalion of the impending attack, and the King’s Company, which was
holding the part of the line selected by the Germans, was easily able
to repulse the raiders by rifle-fire. The casualties were 1 man
killed, 1 missing, and 2 wounded. In the evening the 1st Battalion was
relieved by the 4th Battalion, and proceeded to camp at Maurepas.

[Sidenote: Feb.]

After four days’ rest it returned to the trenches, placing two
companies in the front line and two companies in reserve, and carrying
out inter-company relief. On the 10th of February, about 5 A.M., the
enemy launched a bombing attack, and tried to raid the two right posts
of the right companies, but it was a half-hearted affair, and the
enemy succeeded in reaching the wire in front of our trenches; the
Lewis-gun and rifle fire was too strong for them, and none of the
bombs they threw reached our men. The remainder of the month was spent
at Mericourt, where training was carried on by companies. Second
Lieutenant S. Y. P. Gardner and Second Lieutenant O. F. Stein arrived
on the 13th, and on the 21st Lieutenant M. Thrupp joined the
Battalion. On the 17th a Guard of Honour consisting of Captain L. G.
Fisher-Rowe, Lieutenant W. J. Dashwood, and Lieutenant C. Wilkinson,
with 100 rank and file from the King’s Company, proceeded to the 4th
Army Headquarters for the reception of General Nivelle, the
Commander-in-Chief of the French Armies.

[Sidenote: March.]

On March 3 the 1st Battalion moved to Bronfay Farm, and on the
following day to the trenches at Fregicourt and Haie Wood, where it
was employed in improving the dug-outs. On the 5th a shell most
unluckily fell among the King’s Company. Company Sergeant-Major
Bradbury had both his legs blown off, and three other Sergeants were
wounded. Captain Fisher-Rowe was knocked down but not hurt, and
Brigadier-General Lord Henry Seymour and Lieut.-Colonel Maitland, who
were only a few yards off, were untouched. Sergeant-Major Bradbury was
carried back on a stretcher, but it was plain to every one, including
himself, that he could not live. As he was being borne away he asked
to speak to the Adjutant, Captain Pearson-Gregory, who at once came up
thinking it was some personal request or last wish the dying man
wanted to communicate. “You won’t forget, sir,” said Bradbury, “the
Battalion has to find a fatigue party of a hundred men to-morrow
early.” Unselfish to the last, no thought of himself in his terrible
condition crossed his mind. His sole idea, to the very last, was to do
his duty to the Battalion.

Another four days in the trenches caused further casualties, and
Lieutenant H. B. Vernon was wounded. On the 11th the 1st Battalion
retired to Bronfay Farm, where it remained resting for a week, after
which it returned to the front line. The Germans were now retiring
along the whole front, and a close and unremitting pursuit had to be
maintained. The 1st Battalion was employed on outpost duty with orders
to accelerate the retirement as much as possible. This necessitated
constant advances, but each line, as it was reached, had to be
consolidated in case of counter-attack. After four days of this the
Battalion retired to Maurepas, and subsequently to Camp 15 at Billon.
Second Lieutenant R. B. St. Q. Wall joined on the 8th of March,
Lieutenant P. G. Simmons on the 14th, Lieutenant R. H. Rolfe and
Second Lieutenant R. F. W. Echlin on the 30th.


THE 2ND BATTALION

[Sidenote: 2nd Batt. Jan.]

The officers of the 2nd Battalion on January 1, 1917, were:

     Lieut.-Colonel C. R. Champion de
       Crespigny, D.S.O.                     Commanding Officer.
     Major Hon. W. R. Bailey, D.S.O.         Second in Command.
     Lieut. A. H. Penn                       Adjutant.
     Lieut. G. G. M. Vereker                 Transport Officer.
     Hon. Lieut. and Quartermaster W. E.
       Acraman, D.C.M.                       Quartermaster.
     Lieut. J. N. Buchanan                   No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. F. A. M. Browning                 ”       ”
     Lieut. E. W. Seymour                     ”       ”
     Lieut. A. McW. Lawson-Johnston,
       M.C.                                   ”       ”
     Lieut. J. C. Cornforth                   ”       ”
     Captain E. O. Stewart                   No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. Hon. F. H. Manners                ”       ”
     Lieut. F. H. G. Layland-Barratt, M.C.    ”       ”
     Lieut. T. A. Combe                       ”       ”
     Captain C. F. A. Walker, M.C.           No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. K. O’G. Harvard                  No. 3 Company.
     2nd Lieut. Lord I. B. G. T. Blackwood    ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. M. Wilson                  ”       ”
     Capt. Lord F. T. H. T. Blackwood,
       D.S.O.                                No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. R. Terrell                        ”       ”
     Lieut. R. A. W. Bicknell                 ”       ”
     Lieut. A. T. A. Ritchie                  ”       ”
     Lieut. J. Tabor                          ”       ”
     Capt. J. A. Andrews, R.A.M.C.           Medical Officer.

From January 2 to 25 the 2nd Battalion remained at Méaulte, training
by companies, providing fatigue parties, and receiving instruction in
bombing, Lewis gunnery, and precautions against gas attacks. Each
company went through a course of musketry, and constantly had route
marches. On the 25th orders were received to move to Priez Farm in
motor buses and lorries, but owing to some unexplained mistake only
seven buses and nine lorries arrived, so that a large part of the
Battalion had to march. Priez Farm, which is between Combles and
Rancourt, consisted of dug-outs which were constantly subjected to the
enemy’s shells. The men were employed in filling sand-bags, but owing
to a sharp frost the ground was hard as iron, and it was by no means
easy to obtain the requisite soil. One shell pitched among the
cookers, killing 2 men and wounding 4, while another fell on the
water-cart, wounding 2 men. On the 29th the Battalion was relieved by
the 3rd Battalion Coldstream and marched to Billon Camp near
Maricourt. The weather was bitterly cold, and the men suffered a good
deal in spite of the warm clothing provided for them.

The following officers joined during the month: on the 2nd, Lieutenant
J. C. Cornforth; on the 14th, Lieutenant K. O’G. Harvard; on the 24th,
Captain G. C. FitzH. Harcourt-Vernon, D.S.O.

[Sidenote: Feb.]

For the first ten days in February the 2nd Battalion remained at
Billon Camp, where the companies trained. A sporting event somewhat
out of the ordinary was held on the 6th, 7th, and 8th, when Lord Cavan
started a ratting competition, and promised an extra ration of rum to
the Battalion that succeeded in killing the largest number of rats.
The 2nd Battalion, accustomed to excel in all forms of sport,
succeeded in securing this coveted prize by capturing as many as 386
rats. On the 10th the Battalion marched to Maurepas Ravine, and two
days later took over from the 1st Battalion the trenches between
Peronne and St. Pierre Vaast Wood. This part of the line consisted of
a series of isolated posts, which were dry and well revetted, on the
forward slope of the hill. The Battalion remained in the trenches five
days, and although there was a good deal of shelling there were
fortunately no casualties. On the 15th it was relieved by the 1st
Battalion Irish Guards, and returned to camp at Maurepas. The weather
was now warmer, and a thaw which had set in made the whole camp very
muddy. After four days’ rest the Battalion returned to the trenches
and again carried out inter-Company reliefs. On the 21st Lieutenant A.
McW. Lawson-Johnston and Lieutenant R. Terrell were wounded by the
same shell: the latter recovered, but Lieutenant Lawson-Johnston, who
was hit in twenty places, died from his wounds the following day.
There were no casualties among other ranks. The mornings were very
foggy, and Lieut.-Colonel de Crespigny took advantage of this fact to
reconnoitre the ground to his immediate front. On the 23rd the
Battalion, after being relieved by the 21st Battalion of the Middlesex
Regiment, returned to Maurepas, and on the 26th proceeded to Camp 107
at Billon, remaining there until March 14.

[Sidenote: March.]

The German retirement necessitated by the battle of the Somme had now
begun, but it was impossible to tell at first what exactly the enemy’s
intentions were. After four days at Maurepas the Battalion moved up
into the line at Sailly-Saillisel, where no German could be seen and
no gun heard. The outpost line had been advanced to within 1000 yards
of Le Mesnil, and cavalry patrols were being pushed forward to
establish touch with the enemy. The difficulty presented itself of how
to make the guns and supplies keep pace with the advance, and all
available battalions were employed in road-making.

One curious incident happened during this advance. Two Russian
soldiers who had remained hidden after the German retirement were
found in Etricourt. Originally taken prisoner on the Russian frontier,
they had been transferred to the Western front, and employed in
digging. Hearing the orders given by the German officers to retire,
they managed to conceal themselves, and waited until the British
troops arrived. They were overjoyed at finding themselves once more
free, and delighted at their cordial reception.

The interesting duty of following up the Germans did not fall to the
2nd Battalion, which was employed till the end of the month in making
roads and filling up shell-holes.


THE 3RD BATTALION

[Sidenote: 3rd Batt. Jan.]

The officers of the 3rd Battalion on January 1, 1917, were:

     Lieut.-Colonel A. F. A. N. Thorne,
       D.S.O.                                 Commanding Officer.
     Major G. E. C. Rasch, D.S.O.             Second in Command.
     Capt. O. Lyttelton, D.S.O.               Adjutant.
     Lieut. the Hon. F. O. H. Eaton           Bombing Officer.
     Lieut. the Hon. A. G. Agar-Robartes      Lewis Gun Officer.
     Lieut. M. Duquenoy                       Transport Officer.
     Lieut. G. H. Wall                        Quartermaster.
     Capt. J. C. Craigie, M.C.                No. 1 Company.
     Capt. I. St. C. Rose                     No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. G. F. R. Hirst                     ”       ”
     Lieut. F. Anson                           ”       ”
     Lieut. C. A. Hall                         ”       ”
     Lieut. P. M. Walker, M.C.                No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. W. W. S. C. Neville                ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. L. Holbech                     ”       ”
     Capt. R. W. Parker                       No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. W. G. Orriss                       ”       ”
     Lieut. C. H. Bedford                      ”       ”
     Capt. J. N. L. Thoseby, R.A.M.C.         Medical Officer.

The 3rd Battalion came out of the trenches on January 2, and spent the
next ten days training at Corbie, Billon Farm, and Priez Farm. This
was followed by three uneventful days in the trenches from the 12th to
the 15th, and again from the 21st to the 24th, after which it returned
to Mericourt. On the 28th it marched to La Briqueterie, where the men
were employed in making the foundation for the Decauville railway, a
tiring fatigue owing to the frozen nature of the ground and the long
distances to be covered.

[Sidenote: Feb.]

During the greater part of February the 3rd Battalion remained at
Mericourt training. On the 7th it was chosen from the 2nd Guards
Brigade to drill at Ville before General MacMahon, who expressed
himself much pleased with the smart appearance of the Battalion. The
parade was rendered more impressive by the presence of the band of the
regiment under Lieutenant Williams. On the 9th an unfortunate bombing
accident occurred: a defective bomb of the Mills Adapter type burst at
the muzzle, and wounded Lieutenant W. G. Orriss, Lance-Sergeant
Dugmore, and two men. Brigadier-General Lord Henry Seymour and Major
Rasch, who was temporarily in command of the Battalion, were looking
on at the time, and fortunately were not hit. On the 26th the 3rd
Battalion marched to Maurepas, and on the following day went into the
front line, where it remained for five days, carrying out
inter-Company reliefs. On the last day the Fifteenth Corps carried out
an attack east of Bouchavesnes, and the Battalion was to have assisted
with a discharge of smoke-bombs, but owing to an unfavourable wind the
orders were cancelled. Several patrols were, however, sent out to
ascertain how strongly the enemy’s posts were held, and the nature and
strength of his wire.

[Sidenote: March.]

Early on the 5th the Battalion was relieved, and retired for three
days’ rest to Maurepas. Three more uneventful days were spent in the
trenches from the 8th to the 11th, but the retirement of the Germans
had begun, and their lines were therefore only thinly held. On the
15th two companies were ordered to move up into the reserve trenches,
while the rest of the Battalion remained at Priez ready to move at a
moment’s notice. On the following day Lieut.-Colonel A. Thorne took
charge of the centre of the whole line, while Major Rasch commanded
the Battalion, and Captain R. W. Parker took command of the vanguard
composed of two companies. The advance began on the 16th, and met with
little resistance, the patrols pushing forward through St. Pierre
Vaast Wood to Vaux Wood. On the 18th the Battalion was relieved, and
spent the rest of the month on fatigues and work on the railway.


THE 4TH BATTALION

[Sidenote: 4th Batt. Jan.]

The officers of the 4th Battalion on January 1, 1917, were:

     Lieut.-Colonel G. C. Hamilton, D.S.O.      Commanding Officer.
     Major W. S. Pilcher                        Second in Command.
     Capt. R. S. Lambert, M.C.                  Adjutant.
     Lieut. I. H. Ingleby                       Act.-Quartermaster.
     2nd Lieut. C. E. Benson                    Transport Officer.
     Lieut. C. G. Keith, M.C.                   No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. B. Burman                            ”       ”
     Lieut. J. N. F. Pixley                      ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. E. H. Tuckwell                   ”       ”
     Capt. the Hon. F. E. Needham               No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. G. E. Shelley                        ”       ”
     Lieut. the Hon. A. H. L. Hardinge           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. G. H. T. Paton                   ”       ”
     Capt. C. H. Greville                       No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. R. Farquhar, M.C.                    ”       ”
     Lieut. G. C. Sloane-Stanley                 ”       ”
     Lieut. J. B. M. Burke                       ”       ”
     Lieut. C. S. Nash                           ”       ”
     Capt. E. G. Spencer-Churchill              No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. R. H. G. Leveson-Gower               ”       ”
     Lieut. C. K. Irby                           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. B. J. Hubbard                    ”       ”
     Capt. N. Grellier, M.C., R.A.M.C.          Medical Officer.

The first week in January was spent by the 4th Battalion at Mericourt,
and on the 9th Major-General Feilding presented medal ribbons to the
N.C.O.’s and men of the Battalion who had been awarded the Military
Medal. On the 10th the Battalion proceeded to Billon Camp, where it
was employed in road-making and improving the camp, and on the 14th it
moved to Priez Farm. The weather was now very cold, and there was
continual snow. Occasional shells reminded the men forcibly of the
presence of the enemy, but there were no casualties. On the 18th the
Battalion retired to Billon Camp, remaining there until the 25th, when
it moved to Maurepas. The following day it took over the trenches
immediately east of Rancourt on the edge of St. Pierre Vaast Wood.
This part of the line was held by a series of posts or islands, which
were duckboardcd; it was a quiet spot, and there was practically no
shelling.

[Sidenote: Feb.]

After four days’ rest the Battalion returned to the line, and during
the relief came in for a heavy barrage, but after it had settled down,
the shelling died away. On February 7 it was relieved, and retired to
Maurepas. Two days later it went by train to Méaulte, and marched from
there to Ville-sur-Ancre, where it remained till the end of the month
going through the usual routine of training. The French War Minister,
General Lyautey, inspected the 3rd Guards Brigade, and was reported to
have been much impressed by all he saw.

[Sidenote: March.]

On March 1 the Battalion moved to Bronfay, and on the following day to
Combles with two companies at Haie Wood. There it went into the
trenches until the 6th. During this tour it came in for a good deal of
shelling, and Lieutenant B. Burman and seventeen other ranks were
wounded. After four days’ rest at Fregicourt, the Battalion returned
to the same line of trenches, but this time found everything far
quieter. On the 13th it moved to Billon Camp, and on the 19th to Priez
Farm, whence it moved up to the trenches for four uneventful days. On
the 24th it retired to Bronfay Farm, and on the 27th marched to Clery,
where it was employed on railway work.



CHAPTER XXII

APRIL, MAY, JUNE, JULY 1917

_Diary of the War_


[Sidenote: 1917.]

The British offensive operations still continued with great success,
and considerable progress was made on the famous Vimy Ridge. An
advance on a 50-miles front was undertaken in the direction of
Cambrai, and 19,343 prisoners were taken, in addition to 257 guns and
227 trench mortars. The Germans made fierce counter-attacks, but were
not sufficiently strong to check the advance, and even the Hindenburg
switch line was broken through. A further offensive from Ypres to
Armentières was commenced, and there was some very stiff fighting on
the Messines-Wytschaete ridge. The French were equally successful, and
having gained positions between Soissons and Craonne they pushed
forward on a 100-miles front, taking 20,000 prisoners. In May they
succeeded in capturing Craonne, and the important position on the
Chemin des Dames. During the Allied offensive 52,000 Germans were
taken prisoner, and 446 guns and 1000 machine-guns fell into our
hands.

The Italians made good progress on the slopes of Monte Santo and on
the heights of Gorizia, and there was some fierce fighting on Monte
Vodia. Later San Giovanni was taken and the Timavo crossed, when there
was more fighting on the Corso Plateau. In Russia the war was at a
standstill, although a certain amount of fighting still continued in
isolated places. In Greece the situation was still so unsatisfactory
that the Allies agreed to let France undertake the whole Greek
question. M. Jonnart was accordingly sent to Athens, where he at once
demanded the abdication of King Constantine. Two days later King
Constantine abdicated in favour of his second son Alexander, who was
proclaimed King.

In Mesopotamia General Sir Stanley Maude gained two victories over the
retreating Turks near Deltawa and Istabulat.

The following nations severed relations with Germany and joined the
Allies: Cuba, Brazil, Bolivia, Liberia, and Honduras.


THE 1ST BATTALION

[Sidenote: 1st Batt. April.]

The officers of the 1st Battalion on April 1, 1917, were:

     Lieut.-Colonel M. E. Makgill-Crichton-
       Maitland, D.S.O.                           Commanding Officer.
     Major E.N.E.M. Vaughan D.S.O.                Second in Command.
     Capt. P. J. S. Pearson-Gregory               Adjutant.
     Lieut. W. J. Dashwood                        Signalling Officer.
     Lieut. R. P. le P. Trench, M.C.              Bombing Officer.
     Lieut. T. P. M. Bevan                        Lewis Gun Officer.
     Lieut. D. H. S. Riddiford                    Transport Officer.
     Lieut. and Quartermaster J. Teece            Quartermaster.
     Capt. L. G. Fisher-Rowe                      King’s Company.
     Lieut. C. Wilkinson                            ”       ”
     Lieut. R. F. W. Echlin                         ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. F. T. Maurice                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. R. H. Rolfe                         ”       ”
     Capt. C. D. Baker                            No. 2 Company.
     2nd Lieut. S. Y. P. Gardner                    ”       ”
     Capt. P. M. Spence                           No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. P. G. Simmons                           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. J. F. Eastwood                      ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. Bird                             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. O. F. Stein                         ”       ”
     Capt. R. D. Lawford                          No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. N. G. Chamberlain                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. W. H. Lovell                        ”       ”
     Capt. J. C. B. Grant, R.A.M.C.               Medical Officer.

The whole of April was spent by the 1st Battalion in working on the
railway and in training. Second Lieutenant A. S. Chambers joined on
the 11th; Lieutenant E. G. L. King, Second Lieutenant H. G. Johnson,
and Second Lieutenant J. W. Chapple on the 30th. On the 26th Captain
C. V. Fisher-Rowe arrived to take up the duties of Second in Command,
but did not remain long, as he was appointed a week later
Brigade-Major to the 51st Infantry Brigade.

[Sidenote: May.]

May was spent in very much the same way, with three companies on
railway fatigue and one company training. The Commanding Officer,
Lieut.-Colonel Maitland, started competitions in all the various arts
of war, and there seems no doubt that these competitions made the men
keen and fostered a spirit of friendly rivalry between the various
teams. There were also tactical schemes in open warfare, so that if by
any chance the German line should break, the men would know how to
act. The latter part of the month was devoted solely to training, and
the Commanding Officer was able to assemble the whole Battalion.
Captain Viscount Lascelles arrived on the 2nd, and a few days later
was promoted to the rank of temporary Major, and appointed Second in
Command. Lieutenant G. F. Pauling, M.C., joined on the 2nd. On the
31st the Battalion went by train to St. Omer, and subsequently to
Campagne.

[Sidenote: June.]

For the first fortnight in June it remained training at Campagne, and
then proceeded to Zudausques. On the 18th it moved to Herzeele, where
it remained until July 13.

[Sidenote: July.]

The officers of the 1st Battalion on July 1, 1917, were:

     Lieut.-Colonel M. E. Makgill-Crichton-
       Maitland, D.S.O.                           Commanding Officer.
     Major H. G. C. Viscount Lascelles            Second in Command.
     Capt. P. J. S. Pearson-Gregory               Adjutant.
     2nd Lieut. O. F. Stein                       Bombing Officer.
     Lieut. W. H. Lovell                          Lewis Gun Officer.
     Lieut. D. H. S. Riddiford                    Transport Officer.
     Lieut. and Quartermaster J. Teece, M.C.      Quartermaster.
     Capt. L. G. Fisher-Rowe, M.C.                King’s Company.
     Lieut. G. F. Pauling, M.C.                     ”       ”
     Lieut. T. P. M. Bevan                          ”       ”
     Lieut. M. Thrupp                               ”       ”
     Capt. C. D. Baker                            No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. B. L. Lawrence                          ”       ”
     Lieut. E. G. L. King                           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. S. Y. P. Gardner                    ”       ”
     Capt. P. M. Spence                           No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. W. J. Dashwood                          ”       ”
     Lieut. P. G. Simmons                           ”       ”
     Capt. R. D. Lawford                          No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. N. G. Chamberlain                       ”       ”
     Lieut. R. P. le P. Trench, M.C.                ”       ”
     Lieut. R. F. W. Echlin                         ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. F. W. Chapple                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. A. S. Chambers                      ”       ”
     Capt. J. C. B. Grant, R.A.M.C.               Medical Officer.

The 3rd Guards Brigade now moved up into the line in order to take
part in the attack by the Guards Division on the 31st. The Battalion
Headquarters were at Boesinghe Château, and all four companies had two
platoons in the front line. The two days spent in the trenches were
uncomfortable and noisy, but there were no casualties. The Germans
raided the 1st Battalion Irish Guards which was on the right, and the
platoon on the right of the Grenadiers’ line was involved, but Second
Lieutenant Johnson, who was in command, succeeded in preventing the
enemy reaching our lines.

On the 15th the 1st Battalion came out of the line, and retired to de
Wippe Cabaret, where for ten days it was employed in carrying up
ammunition and war material to the front line. This necessitated
constant visits to the front trenches always under shell-fire, and
there were in consequence many casualties. On the 22nd Lieutenant E.
G. L. King was killed by a shell close up to the front trench while in
command of a fatigue party. The loss of so promising and keen an
officer just before the attack was most unfortunate for the Battalion.
On the 24th Second Lieutenant R. H. Rolfe, who had only just rejoined
from hospital, was wounded in the same way. Second Lieutenant L. de J.
Harvard joined the Battalion on the 15th, and on the 28th the
Battalion moved up to Forest Camp so as to be ready to take its place
in the line for the attack on the 31st.


THE 2ND BATTALION

[Sidenote: 2nd Batt. April.]

The officers of the 2nd Battalion on April 1, 1917, were:

     Lieut.-Colonel C. K. C. de Crespigny, D.S.O.  Commanding Officer.
     Major the Hon. W. R. Bailey, D.S.O.           Second in Command.
     Lieut. A. H. Penn                             Adjutant.
     Lieut. G. G. M. Vereker                       Transport Officer.
     Quartermaster and Hon. Lieut. W. E. Acraman,
       D.C.M.                                      Quartermaster.
     Capt. J. N. Buchanan                          No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. F. A. M. Browning                        ”       ”
     Lieut. J. C. Cornforth                          ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. R. G. Briscoe                        ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. T. Smith                             ”       ”
     Lieut. A. T. A. Ritchie, M.C.                 No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. the Hon. F. H. Manners                   ”       ”
     Lieut. F. H. G. Layland-Barratt, M.C.           ”       ”
     Lieut. T. A. Combe                              ”       ”
     Lieut. R. G. C. Napier                          ”       ”
     Capt. C. F. A. Walker, M.C.                   No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. A. W. Acland                             ”       ”
     Lieut. K. O’G. Harvard                          ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. Lord I. B. G. T. Blackwood           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. M. Wilson                         ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. I. FitzG. S. Gunnis                  ”       ”
     Capt. G. C. FitzH. Harcourt-Vernon, D.S.O.    No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. R. A. W. Bicknell                        ”       ”
     Lieut. J. H. Jacob                              ”       ”
     Lieut. J. Tabor                                 ”       ”
     Lieut. R. E. H. Oliver                          ”       ”
     Capt. J. A. Andrews, M.C., R.A.M.C.           Medical Officer.
          Hon. Captain A. Williams, with Regimental Band.

During the first week in April the 2nd Battalion remained in camp at
Ginchy, and was employed in road-making. Later it moved to Rocquigny
for a week, and then on to Bronfay to train. The monotony of company
training was relieved by brigade competitions, and No. 11 Platoon
under Lieutenant Gunnis succeeded not only in winning the prize, but
also in being first in every event――a very remarkable performance.

[Sidenote: May.]

On May 9 the Battalion marched _via_ Maricourt, Guillemont, and Ginchy
to a camp near Lesbœufs, and three days later moved to Le Mesnil,
where it worked on the railway. On the 20th it returned to Bronfay,
and on the way halted for half-an-hour to enable the men to view the
memorial to officers and men of the Regiment who had been killed there
in September 1916. It consisted of an oak cross about ten feet high,
made out of wood collected from the ruins of Lesbœufs. On May 22 the
Battalion went to Sailly-le-Sec, where it remained till the end of the
month, when it went by train _via_ Cassel and Bavinchove to Renescure.

[Sidenote: June.]

During the first fortnight in June the 2nd Battalion remained at
Renescure training and going through a course of musketry, and on the
16th marched to Winnezeele. The weather was fine, and though the heat
was great the men stood the marching well. On the 18th the Battalion
marched into Belgium, and went into bivouacs at Proven, where it
remained for two days and then moved to Herzeele. On the 20th it
attended a parade at which General Antoine, commanding the First
French Army, presented crosses of the Legion of Honour and medals to
officers of the Fifth British Army. At the conclusion of the parade
the Battalion marched past followed by the 2nd Battalion Coldstream
Guards, and then returned to billets. On the 24th it marched to de
Wippe Cross-roads, where it remained a week. The enemy’s big guns
carried out some long-distance shelling, chiefly on the roads at
night, but fortunately the 2nd Battalion suffered no casualties. On
the 28th it marched to Cardoen Farm.

[Sidenote: July.]

The officers of the 2nd Battalion on July 1, 1917, were:

     Lieut.-Colonel C. R. C. de Crespigny, D.S.O. Commanding Officer.
     Major the Hon. W. R. Bailey, D.S.O.          Second in Command.
     Lieut. A. H. Penn                            Adjutant.
     Lieut. G. G. M. Vereker                      Transport Officer.
     Hon. Lieut. W. E. Acraman, M.C., D.C.M.      Quartermaster.
     Capt. J. N. Buchanan                         No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. F. A. M. Browning                       ”      ”
     Lieut. J. C. Cornforth                         ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. P. A. A. Harbord                    ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. R. G. Briscoe                       ”      ”
     Capt. A. T. A. Ritchie, M.C.                 No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. A. S. L. St. J. Mildmay                 ”      ”
     Lieut. the Hon. F. H. Manners                  ”      ”
     Lieut. F. H. G. Layland-Barratt, M.C.          ”      ”
     Lieut. R. G. C. Napier                         ”      ”
     Capt. C. F. A. Walker, M.C.                  No. 3 Company.
     Capt. Sir A. L. M. Napier, Bart.               ”      ”
     Lieut. K. O’G. Harvard                         ”      ”
     Lieut. A. W. Acland                            ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. H. M. Wilson                        ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. Lord I. B. G. T. Blackwood          ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. I. FitzG. S. Gunnis                 ”      ”
     Capt. G. C. FitzH. Harcourt-Vernon, D.S.O.   No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. J. H. Jacob                             ”      ”
     Lieut. R. E. H. Oliver                         ”      ”
     Lieut. J. Tabor                                ”      ”
     2nd Lieut. F. H. J. Drummond                   ”      ”
     Capt. J. A. Andrews, M.C., R.A.M.C.          Medical Officer.
     Capt. C. F. Lyttelton                    Chaplain of the Forces.

On July 2 the 2nd Battalion relieved the 3rd Battalion Coldstream
Guards in the Boesinghe Sector, which was soon to become the site
selected for an offensive. The Belgians at the time were on the right,
and were subsequently relieved by the French. The trenches occupied by
the Battalion were extended for about 1500 yards along the western
bank of the Yser Canal. The first day was spent in improving the
position, and as soon as it became dark the men were mostly employed
in carrying up material of all kinds to the front area. At 11.30 P.M.
orders were received from the Brigadier to make two raids into the
enemy’s lines, with a view to obtaining identification of the German
regiments employed there, as well as information as to the whereabouts
of the German trench. Lieut.-Colonel de Crespigny decided to send out
two parties: the first consisting of No. 11 Platoon, under Second
Lieutenant I. FitzG. S. Gunnis, whose task it was to capture, if
possible, a prisoner; and the second under Second Lieutenant Lord
Basil Blackwood with a party of five men from No. 10 Platoon, who
received orders to reconnoitre in a certain direction. It was a very
dark night, and this was all in favour of the enterprise, but on the
other hand the difficulties of crossing the canal and advancing into
“No Man’s Land,” where the exact disposition of the German defences
were unknown, in absolute darkness, were only too obvious. The first
obstacle to be overcome was the passage of the Yser Canal, and this
was accomplished by means of 5-feet mats made of canvas and wire
netting, nailed to wooden slats. Two of these were used, being placed
in position by two specially detailed parties, and proved most
effective in providing a foothold over the muddy bed of the canal.
Thus the two parties succeeded in crossing without detection by the
enemy.

On arrival on the east side of the canal, Lord Basil Blackwood led his
party on into the darkness, but instead of the trench which they had
expected to find from a previous study of the aeroplane map, there was
nothing but a mass of shell-holes with heavy wire entanglement, which
made it difficult for the party to keep together. After going a
considerable distance over rough and broken ground, rifle-fire was
suddenly opened on them from a dug-out. Lord Basil Blackwood’s orderly
was wounded, while a sapper from the Royal Engineers, who formed one
of the party, was killed. The remainder at once lay down in
shell-holes, and as they waited bombs were thrown at them from the
same direction. Owing to the two men who originally followed him
having become casualties, the party now became scattered. Beyond this
point little is known. A corporal of the Royal Engineers who
accompanied the party, and who was wounded, said that he saw Lord
Basil Blackwood crawl forward after the shots were fired, but
subsequently lost sight of him. The two remaining men of the
Grenadiers assert that they saw him fall, but that owing to the
darkness they completely lost touch with him, and after crawling about
for some time they returned to the canal bank. Unfortunately they
omitted to report all this to their Company Commander, Captain Walker,
who with Colonel de Crespigny and Major Bailey was waiting on the
canal bank for any news of the raiding party. It did not at first
occur to Captain Walker that anything was amiss, but when time wore
on, and Lord Basil Blackwood failed to return, he became uneasy. The
difficulty was, however, that no one could be found to give any
information which would enable a patrol to go out with any hope of
tracing the missing party.

The movements of the other party under Second Lieutenant Gunnis are
even more obscure. After crossing the canal, one portion of the party
went on to form a block on the north side, whilst the remainder worked
south in search of a prisoner. Eventually they found a German trench
and walked down it, until an obstruction of barbed wire made farther
progress impossible. As the sides were too steep to admit of egress,
Second Lieutenant Gunnis gave the order to turn about, with the
intention of retracing his steps and getting out farther back. The
order was apparently misunderstood, and some of the men became
detached. Second Lieutenant Gunnis then entered another trench. He
went along it until he was suddenly fired at, at very close range.
Undeterred by this, he retired a short distance and returned again
outside the trench. Having passed the point from which he was fired
at, he appears to have lost direction, for he went on until he came
upon the dead body of a British soldier, most probably that of the
Engineer, who had accompanied Lord Basil Blackwood’s party. He told
the two men next to him to carry the body back. He intended the
remainder of the party to follow him, but, owing to the darkness,
combined with the broken state of the ground, the orders were
misunderstood. At that moment several bombs were thrown. The men took
what cover they could in shell-holes. When the bombing ceased Second
Lieutenant Gunnis was no longer with the party. Whether he walked on
under the impression that the others were following him, or whether he
was killed by a bomb it is impossible to say. The enemy about this
time sent up S.O.S. signals which brought down a heavy barrage on the
British lines, and this no doubt prevented the survivors of the party
returning in time to enable a patrol to go out before daylight.

During the following day the shelling continued intermittently, but it
was not until the 5th that the Germans began to search the ground in
earnest. Two heavy Minenwerfers were firing from the left front, and
the bombs were falling near the support line. The range was gradually
lengthened until the Battalion Headquarters were reached. Then came a
gas alarm, but the discipline was so good, and gas helmets were put on
so promptly, that although a large number of gas shells pitched on our
front line, there were no casualties. On the 6th the shelling
continued, and one shell pitched in the support line, wounding
Lieutenant Hermon-Hodge and three sergeants, one of whom subsequently
died.

On the 7th the Battalion was relieved, and retired into billets at
Roussel Farm, where it remained until the 11th, ostensibly for a rest,
though the men were constantly employed in carrying material to the
front line. On the 11th they went up into the support system, where
they were employed in repairing the trenches which were being
constantly blown in by shell-fire. All available officers and N.C.O.’s
were taken over the ground which had been selected as the forming-up
area of the Battalion in the coming offensive, and were shown
objectives and landmarks. On the 13th the Battalion was relieved and
marched to Elverdinghe, where it entrained for Proven. On the
following day it marched to Honflond, where it remained for a
fortnight, carefully practising every stage of the attack over ground
exactly representing the German lines, until even the men knew by
heart the lie of the land and the position of the strong points and
farmhouses. On the 15th Lieutenant F. A. Magnay arrived, and on the
16th Lieutenant G. R. Westmacott and Second Lieutenant S. H. Pearson
joined the Battalion. On the 28th the Battalion moved up to Roussel
Farm, and then to the Forest Area, preparatory to taking part in the
offensive on the 31st.


THE 3RD BATTALION

[Sidenote: 3rd Batt. April.]

The officers of the 3rd Battalion on April 1, 1917, were:

     Lieut.-Colonel A. F. A. N. Thorne, D.S.O.    Commanding Officer.
     Major G. E. C. Rasch, D.S.O.                 Second in Command.
     Lieut. the Hon. F. O. H. Eaton               Adjutant.
     Lieut. K. Henderson                          Intelligence Officer.
     Lieut. M. Duquenoy                           Transport Officer.
     Lieut. G. H. Wall                            Quartermaster.
     Capt. J. C. Craigie, M.C.                    No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. the Hon. A. G. Agar-Robartes            ”       ”
     Lieut. F. J. Siltzer                           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. A. G. Elliott                       ”       ”
     Lieut. G. F. R. Hirst                        No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. E. R. M. Fryer                          ”       ”
     Lieut. F. W. R. Greenhill                      ”       ”
     Lieut. C. A. Hall                              ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. A. H. S. Adair                      ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. L. Holbech                          ”       ”
     Capt. W. W. S. C. Neville                    No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. N. Thornhill                            ”       ”
     Lieut. J. C. D. Tetley                         ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. the Hon. A. M. Borthwick            ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. G. A. I. Dury                       ”       ”
     Capt. R. W. Parker                           No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. F. J. Heasman                           ”       ”
     Lieut. J. F. Worsley                           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. C. W. Carrington                    ”       ”
     Capt. J. N. L. Thoseby, R.A.M.C.             Medical Officer.

April was spent by the 3rd Battalion in road-mending, loading trucks,
and other fatigues. As a rule half the Battalion was engaged on these
works, while the other half, with the exception of those men required
for the ordinary duties, was occupied in training.

[Sidenote: May.]

During May the Battalion continued training at Clery, Billon, Ville,
and Wardrecques.

[Sidenote: June.]

On June 5 Lieut.-Colonel A. F. A. N. Thorne was obliged to go to
hospital with a strained leg, and Captain Craigie temporarily
commanded the Battalion until the 10th, when Major Rasch returned. On
the 17th the Battalion relieved the 1st Battalion Scots Guards in the
support line with their headquarters at Bluet Farm, and although at
first there was not much firing the shelling increased in intensity
each day, with the result that there were quite a number of
casualties. On the 22nd the Battalion was relieved, and returned to
Roussel Farm, where it remained until the end of the month. There were
a great number of hostile aeroplanes over this part of the line, and
the men had constantly to be warned to keep under cover. The Battalion
spent another two days in the trenches on the 26th, and came in for a
great deal of shelling. Second Lieutenant B. J. Dunlop had a lucky
escape; he had just been called away from the bomb-store, where he had
been all day, when a high-explosive shell pitched on it, killing the
men to whom he had been speaking.

[Sidenote: July.]

The officers of the 3rd Battalion on July 1, 1917, were:

     Lieut.-Colonel G. E. C. Rasch, D.S.O.        Commanding Officer.
     Capt. E. D. Ridley, M.C.                     Second in Command.
     Lieut. the Hon. A. G. Agar-Robartes          Adjutant.
     Lieut. M. Duquenoy                           Transport Officer.
     Lieut. G. H. Wall                            Quartermaster.
     Lieut. K. Henderson                          Bombing Officer.
     Capt. J. C. Craigie, M.C.                    No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. E. R. M. Fryer                         ”       ”
     Lieut. F. J. Siltzer                          ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. A. G. Elliott                      ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. E. G. A. Fitzgerald                ”       ”
     Capt. the Hon. F. O. H. Eaton                No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. G. F. R. Hirst                         ”       ”.
     Lieut. C. A. Hall                             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. L. Holbech                         ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. F. W. R. Greenhill                 ”       ”
     Capt. W. W. S. C. Neville, M.C.              No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. J. C. D. Tetley                        ”       ”
     Lieut. N. Thornhill                           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. the Hon. A. M. Borthwick           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. B. J. Dunlop                       ”       ”
     Capt. R. W. Parker                           No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. F. J. Worsley                          ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. C. W. Carrington                   ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. L. E. Dunlop                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. R. Ogle                         ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. G. V. G. A. Webster                ”       ”
     Lieut. H. Dearden, R.A.M.C.                  Medical Officer.

On July 1 the 3rd Battalion went to Wylders, and the following day
moved on to Herzeele. Every detail of the projected attack on the 31st
was carefully rehearsed over specially prepared trenches, and every
officer and N.C.O. was made familiar with the plan of the German lines
and the prominent landmarks. On the 12th Lieut.-Colonel Thorne resumed
command of the Battalion, and Major Rasch went to hospital, his place
as Second in Command being taken by Captain Ridley. On the 13th the
Battalion moved up to the Forest Area and was bivouacked in two
fields. The enemy’s aeroplanes were so busy overhead that the greatest
attention had to be paid to “camouflage,” and everything had to be
hidden as far as possible. The men were constantly employed in
carrying up ammunition and war material to the front trenches, an
arduous and dangerous task since they were continually under
shell-fire. Private Bignell of No. 4 Company behaved with great
coolness and gallantry in carrying from a dug-out a box of Véry lights
which had been set on fire by a pineapple bomb. For this he received
the Military Medal.

On the 18th Second Lieutenant W. H. S. Roper joined, and on the 21st
the Battalion took over the right Brigade Sector near Boesinghe, with
Nos. 1 and 2 Companies in the front trench. For five days the
Battalion remained in the trenches, during which time it suffered much
from shell-fire. Second Lieutenant H. R. Ogle was wounded but remained
at duty, and the casualties among other ranks were 27 killed, 11 died
of wounds, 45 wounded, 10 gassed, 7 to hospital from concussion.
Second Lieutenant G. Webster made an excellent reconnaissance of the
Canal, and discovered four places where it could be crossed without
the men getting very wet. No. 4 Company was to have carried out a raid
to ascertain the strength of the enemy, but at the last moment the
order was cancelled. On the night of the 26th the Battalion was
relieved by the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards, and retired again to
the Forest Area to rest before the attack by the Division on the 31st.


THE 4TH BATTALION

[Sidenote: 4th Batt. April.]

The officers of the 4th Battalion on April 1, 1917, were:

     Lieut.-Colonel G. C. Hamilton, D.S.O.        Commanding Officer.
     Major W. S. Pilcher                          Second in Command.
     Capt. R. S. Lambert, M.C.                    Adjutant.
     Lieut. I. H. Ingleby                         Act.-Quartermaster.
     Lieut. J. B. M. Burke                        Intelligence Officer.
     2nd Lieut. C. E. Benson                      Transport Officer.
     Capt. C. G. Keith, M.C.                      No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. J. N. F. Pixley                        ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. E. H. Tuckwell                     ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. G. R. Green                        ”       ”
     Capt. the Hon. F. E. Needham                 No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. G. H. T. Paton                         ”       ”
     Lieut. the Hon. A. H. L. Hardinge             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. M. P. B. Wrixon                    ”       ”
     Capt. C. H. Greville                         No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. R. Farquhar, M.C.                      ”       ”
     Lieut. G. C. Sloane-Stanley.                  ”       ”
     Lieut. C. S. Nash                             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. T. T. Pryce, M.C.                  ”       ”
     Capt. E. G. Spencer-Churchill                No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. E. R. D. Hoare                         ”       ”
     Lieut. R. H. G. Leveson-Gower                 ”       ”
     Lieut. C. E. Irby                             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. B. J. Hubbard                      ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. N. A. Pearce                       ”       ”
     Capt. N. Grellier, M.C., R.A.M.C.            Medical Officer.

Lieut.-Colonel G. Hamilton, having been given a command in England,
left to take up his duties and was succeeded by Captain (Brevet Major)
the Viscount Gort, D.S.O., M.V.O., M.C. After a fortnight at Clery the
4th Battalion moved to Cartigny, where it remained for six weeks. On
arrival it had to pitch camp on sodden ground. Though it was snowing
hard and almost dark, the men managed in an incredibly short time to
collect timber from the ruined houses, bring up braziers and pitch
tents, so that a tolerably habitable camp soon sprang up. On the 14th
Captain M. Williams assumed temporary command of the 58th Prisoners of
War Company. The greater portion of the Battalion worked on the
railway, but each company in turn remained behind to do steady drill.

By degrees the Battalion made itself very comfortable, and a canteen
with a recreation room was built, two football grounds were made, and
a cricket-ground begun. The pioneers of the Battalion collected the
debris from the neighbouring ruins and erected stables and various
other buildings. On the 23rd the work on the railway ceased, and all
the companies were left at the disposal of the Commanding Officer.

[Sidenote: May.]

The 4th Battalion remained at Cartigny until May 18, practising all
the latest developments of the attack, but the work on the railway
again claimed three companies, and it was only occasionally that the
Commanding Officer had the whole Battalion at his disposal for
training purposes. Second Lieutenant R. G. West joined the Battalion
on the 1st of May, Second Lieutenant R. C. Denman on the 2nd, Second
Lieutenant H. W. Windeler on the 16th, and on the 12th Second
Lieutenant N. A. Pearce was appointed Transport Officer. On the 18th
the Battalion marched to Bronfay, and on the way was inspected by
Major-General Feilding commanding the Guards Division. The following
day it proceeded to Corbie, where it remained training until the end
of the month.

[Sidenote: June.]

At the beginning of June it moved on by train to Le Rons. Second
Lieutenant J. M. Chitty joined the Battalion on the 4th, and Second
Lieutenant F. R. Oliver and Second Lieutenant J. J. M. Veitch on the
7th. Company training and musketry were carried out during the
fortnight spent at Le Rons, and on the 17th the Battalion moved to
Herzeele, where the whole Brigade manœuvred together. On the 21st
Captain E. O. Stewart joined the Battalion, and on the 29th Second
Lieutenant D. J. Knight arrived.

[Sidenote: July.]

The officers of the 4th Battalion on July 1, 1917, were:

     Lieut.-Colonel the Viscount Gort,
       D.S.O., M.V.O., M.C.                       Commanding Officer.
     Major W. S. Pilcher, D.S.O.                  Second in Command.
     Capt. C. R. Gerard                           Adjutant.
     Lieut. I. H. Ingleby                         Act.-Quartermaster.
     Lieut. Lord E. D. J. Hay                     Intelligence Officer.
     2nd Lieut. N. A. Pearce                      Transport Officer.
     Capt. C. G. Keith, M.C.                      No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. J. N. F. Pixley                        ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. E. H. Tuckwell                     ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. G. R. Green                        ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. G. C. Burt                         ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. J. M. Chitty                       ”       ”
     Capt. the Hon. F. E. Needham                 No. 2 Company.
     Capt. E. O. Stewart                           ”       ”
     Lieut. R. G. West                             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. T. T. Pryce, M.C.                  ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. R. C. Denman                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. W. H. Windeler                     ”       ”
     Capt. C. H. Greville, D.S.O.                 No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. R. Farquhar, M.C.                      ”       ”
     Lieut. J. B. M. Burke                         ”       ”
     Lieut. G. C. Sloane-Stanley                   ”       ”
     Lieut. C. S. Nash                             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. D. J. Knight                       ”       ”
     Capt. G. H. T. Paton                         No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. R. H. G. Leveson-Gower                 ”       ”
     Lieut. C. E. Irby                             ”       ”
     Lieut. B. J. Hubbard                          ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. J. J. M. Veitch                    ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. F. R. Oliver                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. C. E. Benson                       ”       ”
     Capt. N. Grellier, M.C., R.A.M.C.            Medical Officer.

The 4th Battalion now made its way to the area opposite the portion of
the German line which had been selected for an attack on July 31. The
camp consisted of a few bivouac sheets in a wood, and was well within
the range of the German shells; almost as soon as the Battalion
arrived some shells fell in the Transport lines, but fortunately did
no damage. Lieut.-Colonel Lord Gort went up to the line to make
himself acquainted with the trenches from which the Battalion would
attack, and took with him Captain Paton, Lieutenant Pixley, and
Lieutenant Burke. During the first week in July the Battalion had to
find between 500 and 600 men for fatigues in the forward area. On the
5th the camp was again shelled, but luckily there were no casualties.
Lord Gort made a second visit to the front line, and took with him
this time Captain the Hon. F. E. Needham, Captain Greville, Captain
Keith, and Lieutenant Lord E. Hay. During these days there were
constant gas alarms, and on one occasion the men were ordered to sleep
with their helmets in the ”alert” position.

July 14 was a red-letter day for the 4th Battalion, as it was the
second anniversary of its formation, but owing to the large number of
men required for fatigue work Lord Gort decided to keep this
anniversary on the 15th. The celebrations consisted of a football
match, a tug-of-war, and a sergeants’ dinner, followed by a Battalion
concert, and last, but not least, a free issue of beer to all the men.
The Corps Commander, Lord Cavan, attended the sergeants’ dinner, and
made a speech which aroused the greatest enthusiasm. Major-General G.
Feilding also attended.

The fatigue parties worked day and night, and as the work necessitated
going up into the front trenches there were almost daily a number of
men wounded. On the 16th the Battalion moved up nearer to the front
line and received orders to raid the German trenches on the whole
Divisional front in eight different places. The men selected for this
were trained separately, and for three days the raid was rehearsed so
that every man knew exactly what to do.

On the 18th the Battalion moved up into the front line of the
Boesinghe Sector, and was unlucky enough to come in for considerable
artillery fire while the relief was being carried out, as the enemy
put up the S.O.S. signal, when he was being raided by the neighbouring
Brigade. As soon as the relief was completed, gas was discharged from
our Stokes mortars, while the enemy’s artillery put down a heavy
barrage on our front line. No. 1 Company was placed in the front line;
No. 2 Company placed two platoons in S line and two platoons in Y
line; and X line was occupied by No. 4 Company. The raiding parties
from No. 3 Company were posted at Paradou Farm.

At 1 A.M. on the 20th the raids took place, and in accordance with the
orders received the German front line was penetrated in four places.
No. 1 party started off, and had nearly reached the German line when
it found that the mat which had been provided to help it over the mud
was too short. There was nothing to be done but to plunge into the
Canal, and in spite of being up to their knees in mud the men
succeeded in entering the German trench at the right place. After
moving down the trench for 100 yards, they came upon a German double
sentry post which was engaged in sending up Véry lights. They
determined to work round this post, but one of the raiders lost his
head, and fired point-blank at the Germans. This would in any case
have raised the alarm, but in addition to this another of the raiders
dropped a bomb, killing his neighbour and wounding himself, so that
all attempt at surprise was at an end. The German sentries rushed off
yelling, but had not gone far when one of them dropped dead. Showers
of Véry lights were soon sent up by the Germans in rear, and men were
seen advancing with bombs and hand grenades in all directions. This
raiding party therefore withdrew, bringing with it the body of the man
who had been killed by the bomb. They were able to see a good deal of
the German trench, and reported it to be badly knocked about.

No. 2 party under Second Lieutenant T. T. Pryce was more successful.
The mat in this case was the right length, and enabled the men to
cross over the mud quickly. They saw five Germans, who immediately ran
over the Yperlee into Crapouillot Wood. They visited two German
dug-outs, but found them unoccupied and empty, and reported that they
had some difficulty in moving along the trench, which was badly
damaged. No. 3 party arrived at its destination without difficulty,
but the Germans who had bolted across the Yperlee opened fire on it
from the opposite bank. The raiders afterwards claimed that they had
silenced this fire with bombs, but there was no evidence to prove that
they succeeded in killing any of the enemy. However, they were able to
make a tolerably accurate report on the state of the trench.

No. 4 party was heavily handicapped, as the part of the parapet over
which it had to start was on the sky-line, and therefore clearly
visible to the enemy. No sooner had the men started than the alarm was
given, and they found the Germans waiting for them. Again the mat
proved too short, and the men were obliged to advance knee-deep in
mud. Bombs were thrown at them from the start, and one bomb reached
the covering party, wounding all three men. Sergeant Waterfall was hit
as he topped the parapet, but continued to advance, and succeeded in
effecting an entry into the German line. Then a regular bombing fight
took place, during which Sergeant Waterfall was again wounded and
knocked down into a shell-hole. The Germans determined to catch this
raiding party, and commenced an outflanking manœuvre on each flank,
but this attempt was stopped by the covering party and mat men. There
was no object in pursuing the enterprise any further, and the raiders
therefore returned bringing back with them the eight wounded men.

On the whole the result of these raids was very satisfactory, and a
great deal of valuable information was obtained, but none of the
parties succeeded in bringing back a live prisoner. It had been proved
that the enemy only held his front line in posts, all of which had
been located, and that the concrete dug-outs or pill-boxes were what
the Germans mostly relied on for protection. The wire on the whole
length of the trench, although not continuous, was passably good, and
formed an obstacle difficult to pass.

On the 23rd the Battalion was relieved by the 2nd Battalion Scots
Guards, and retired to Battle Area Camp, having lost 3 men killed, 1
died of wounds, and 10 wounded during the three days it had been in
the front line. In this camp it remained until the 31st.

  [Illustration:
    _W. & D. Downey photographs_      _Emery Walker ph. sc._
    _Brigadier-General G. F. Trotter, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O._]



CHAPTER XXIII

BOESINGHE, JULY 1917

_Diary of the War_


[Sidenote: July 1917.]

During this month the Germans made a determined attack on Nieuport in
the Dune country near the coast, and succeeded in penetrating 600
yards into the British line, in spite of the stout resistance of the
British troops; but a counter-attack was successfully launched, and
restored the line to its original position. At the end of July a
combined attack by the British and French troops in Flanders commenced
in the neighbourhood of Ypres.

On the French front the Germans made strong attacks on the Chemin des
Dames and gained some ground after severe fighting, but a week later
the French were able to regain all the lost ground.

The Russians, under General Korniloff, advanced in Galicia, and even
gained some victories over the Austrians, but disaffection was
beginning to show itself among the men, and the Germans found no
difficulty in driving them back over the frontier. This retirement on
the part of the Russians ended in an ignominious retreat and open
mutiny.

London was raided by a large number of German aeroplanes, and many
people were killed and wounded by the bombs which were dropped.


THE GUARDS DIVISION

When the attack on the Boesinghe Sector was decided upon, the great
difficulty of crossing the Canal under the enemy’s artillery fire at
once presented itself to the Corps and Divisional Commanders. It would
be necessary to construct bridges, and under an accurate barrage the
loss of life entailed in crossing the Canal would certainly be very
heavy. Lord Cavan thoroughly appreciated the drawbacks, but thought a
well-organised attack would succeed. He ordered every detail of the
attack to be carefully rehearsed over dummy representations of the
Canal and the German trenches, and by the end of July every officer,
N.C.O., and even every man knew exactly what he had to do. During this
time the enemy seem to have been completely ignorant of the
preparations that were being made, and imagined that so long as their
positions farther south remained intact there was small probability of
an attack on this sector of the line.

  [Illustration: _Boesinghe
                  July 31st 1917_
                                  _Emery Walker Ltd._]

The date of the attack, or zero day, was originally fixed for the
28th, but on the 24th it was postponed until the 31st. About a week
before zero day British aeroplanes reported that, although the German
trenches were fully manned at dawn, the greater part of the garrison
was withdrawn during the day to avoid the shells. A small incident
occurred which left no doubt in General Feilding’s mind on this point.
Two wounded British soldiers who had been left behind during a night
raid were observed on the far side of the Canal, and Lieutenant C. J.
Hambro and Private Smith of the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards
volunteered to go across the Canal and bring them in. This they
succeeded in doing, and Lieutenant Hambro reported that not only had
he not been fired on during his successful venture, but that he had
seen no signs of the enemy at all.

General Feilding thereupon conceived the audacious plan of seizing the
Canal in broad daylight without the aid of an artillery barrage. If
the information which he had gained was correct, the enterprise would
certainly succeed, but if on the other hand the absence of the Germans
was only momentary, as had so often happened, it might prove a costly
failure. He decided not to wait but to strike at once, and accordingly
sent for Lieut.-Colonel Crawfurd commanding the 3rd Battalion
Coldstream Guards, and told him to send out strong patrols properly
supported at 5 P.M. as far as Baboon Support Trench, Artillery Wood,
and Cactus Junction. As the matter was urgent, these orders were given
verbally, and were later confirmed in writing, but it was not found
possible to start before 5.20. The whole scheme, although planned at a
moment’s notice, was well thought out. The patrols pushed forward
closely followed by supporting platoons and moppers-up, and succeeded
without difficulty in reaching their objectives, where they surprised
the Germans who had been left in charge of the trenches. Many
prisoners were made, but so quickly and unobtrusively was the raid
carried out that the Germans in rear were totally ignorant of what was
happening in front. The Division on the right attempted a similar raid
somewhat later, but owing to no moppers-up having been ordered to
accompany the raiders, the patrols were captured or killed by Germans
who emerged from dug-outs in rear of them. The following day, however,
it succeeded in gaining a foothold on the farther bank of the Canal.

For the best part of two days the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards
remained in its advanced positions unmolested. When the men of a
German patrol advanced on their usual rounds, they were allowed to
enter the trench, and were then quietly made prisoners. On the 29th an
officers’ patrol sauntered along down a communication trench quite
unconscious of the danger it was approaching; the officer himself and
the leading men were made prisoners, but the N.C.O. in rear escaped,
although he was fired upon. Presumably he dashed off, and telephoned
that the front German trenches were in our hands. It was not long
before enemy aeroplanes came soaring over at a comparatively low
height to investigate the situation, and then the enemy’s artillery
deluged these trenches unmercifully with shells.

However, the Canal had been gained, and the enormous advantage of this
could not well be over-estimated. The attack was started on the far
bank, and thus hundreds of men were saved from being killed in the
initial stages.

On the night of the 29th the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards and 1st
Battalion Irish Guards were relieved by battalions from the 2nd and
3rd Guards Brigades. On the left the 1st Battalion Grenadiers and 1st
Battalion Welsh Guards from the 3rd Guards Brigade, and on the right
the 1st Scots Guards and 2nd Irish Guards from the 2nd Guards Brigade,
moved up to take over their attack frontages.

The order of battle of the Guards Division was as follows:

          3RD GUARDS BRIGADE
              (SEYMOUR)

     1st Welsh Gds.      1st Gren. Gds.
       (Gordon)            (Maitland)
     2nd Scots Gds.      4th Gren. Gds.
       (Orr-Ewing)          (Gort)

          2ND GUARDS BRIGADE
              (PONSONBY)

     2nd Irish Gds.      1st Scots Gds.
       (Greer)              (Ross)
     1st Cold. Gds.      3rd Gren. Gds.
       (Brand)             (Thorne)

          1ST GUARDS BRIGADE
              (JEFFREYS)

     2nd Cold. Gds.      2nd Gren. Gds.
       (Follett)         (De Crespigny)
     3rd Cold. Gds.      1st Irish Gds.
       (Crawfurd)          (Pollock)

The first objective, or Blue line, consisted of Cariboo Trench, Wood
15 Trench, and Wood 15.

The second objective, or Black line, some 600 yards farther on, ran
parallel to the Pilckem road.

The third objective, or Green line, was not a line of trenches, but an
imaginary line 100 yards beyond the Iron Cross――Kortekeer Cabaret
road.

The fourth objective, or Dotted Green line, was not parallel to the
others, and while it crossed the Steenbeek on the right joined up with
the Green line on the left. The total depth was about 1¾ miles from
the Canal.

The French First Division was on the left, and the Thirty-eighth Welsh
Division on the right of the Guards Division.

The 2nd and 3rd Guards Brigades were to take the first three
objectives, and the 1st Guards Brigade was then to pass through and
secure the fourth. In the 2nd and 3rd Brigades the leading Battalions
were responsible for the first and second objectives, and the
Battalions in support for the third.

So carefully had the whole attack been rehearsed that from the first
there was never a moment’s hesitation: each Company knew exactly what
was expected of it. If General Feilding with his staff had thought out
every eventuality, he could not have asked for more prompt execution
of his orders. Each successive objective was captured exactly
according to the time stated in the orders. The creeping barrage was
perfect. The Field Companies of the Royal Engineers did admirable
work, and nothing could have been better than the arrangements for
bringing up ammunition, water, and rations. There appears to have been
no hitch throughout the attack.

Ponsonby’s Brigade on the right occupied the frontage from the railway
to Boesinghe Bridge, while Seymour’s Brigade continued the line to the
left for 600 yards. The frontage of Ponsonby’s Brigade, although much
smaller than that of Seymour’s, included more enclosed and difficult
country with many strong points. Whether it was wise to have the
railway as a boundary between the Guards and the Thirty-eighth
Division is open to doubt. There was a number of concrete block-houses
on the railway which gave a great deal of trouble, and required the
united efforts of the troops on the flanks of both Divisions. Now the
junction of two Divisions is admittedly the weakest part in the line,
and therefore it would have been better had the difficult task of
capturing these block-houses been entrusted wholly to one Division.

These concrete block-houses or “pill-boxes” were built in the ruins of
the numerous farms scattered about the country. They were cunningly
concealed under old roofs and screened from frontal view by bricks and
rubble, and the tops were often covered with old tiles, grass, or
earth. They were generally built to accommodate eight or twelve men,
and were strong enough to resist a direct hit from a field-gun or
light howitzer, but their weakness seems to have been the restricted
field of fire from the loopholes. This enabled troops to work round
them and often close up to them without difficulty.

The morning was excessively dark and cloudy, although it was not
raining. Zero hour was at 3.50, but it was not until 4.10 A.M. that
the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards and 1st Battalion Scots Guards advanced
in four waves, with an interval of 100 yards between each wave, moving
at the rate of 100 yards in four minutes behind the creeping barrage.
The first objective was captured at 4.30. During the barrage which the
enemy’s artillery put down on the Canal, the Scots Guards had the
misfortune to lose the services of their Commanding Officer,
Lieut.-Colonel Romilly, who was wounded by a shell, and soon after the
attack started Lieut.-Colonel E. B. Greer commanding the 2nd Battalion
Irish Guards was killed. This was a serious loss to the Guards
Division, as he had proved himself a most able officer.

Punctually the attack on the second objective started, and although
the pill-boxes proved hard nuts to crack, the Black line was
successfully taken. The Scots Guards had their right flank constantly
exposed to enfilade fire from the railway, and were consequently
obliged to throw back a defensive flank, so that when they reached the
Black line they had hardly sufficient men for the front allotted to
them. The 3rd Battalion Grenadiers and 1st Battalion Coldstream in
support, however, made good the deficiency when they advanced to the
third objective. The 3rd Battalion Grenadiers which passed through the
Scots Guards had to contend with precisely the same difficulty, and as
it advanced was continually obliged to leave men to guard its right
flank. In spite of all this, the Green line fell into our hands, and
was at once consolidated.

Meanwhile the 1st Battalion Grenadiers and 1st Battalion Welsh Guards
in Seymour’s Brigade had the advantage of starting the attack from
Baboon Reserve Trench some 500 yards on the far side of the Canal, and
had to wait some time to enable Ponsonby’s Brigade to come up on their
right. They advanced behind the creeping barrage and had no difficulty
in reaching the first objective. Nor did the Black line present any
great stumbling-block, although the casualties here were heavier. As
soon as this line was consolidated, the 4th Battalion Grenadiers and
2nd Battalion Scots Guards passed through and attacked the Green line.
Here there was a slight delay, as the French Division on the left was
held up near Colonel’s Farm. It was only a momentary check, and as the
2nd Battalion Scots Guards passed this farm the French were able to
capture it. So the Green line was reached.

The moment had now arrived for Jeffreys’ Brigade to pass through, and
the 2nd Battalion Grenadiers on the right, and the 2nd Battalion
Coldstream on the left, taking up the whole Divisional frontage, swept
over the ground in perfect formation. The task of the Grenadiers
involved the more severe fighting, since they were confronted with a
large number of “pill-boxes.” They also had the same difficulty as
their predecessors with the railway, but after severe fighting
succeeded in one place in gaining a foothold on the farther side of
the Steenbeek River. No. 2 Company of the 2nd Grenadiers, on the
extreme right, reached the river, but found it impossible to cross it.
Although the Coldstream did not encounter so much opposition, they had
to wheel to the left in the course of the advance――by no means an easy
manœuvre when the shells were falling thick; but they carried out
their task most successfully, and joined up with the Grenadiers. By 11
A.M. Brigadier-General Jeffreys was able to report that, except by the
extreme right Company, all the objectives had been secured. No
counter-attack was attempted against the front held by the Guards
Division, no doubt because the Germans were thoroughly disorganised.

At the end of the attack our barrage became thin and uncertain, making
it impossible for the companies in front to send out patrols; but when
it became dark the barrage ceased, and the 2nd Battalion Coldstream
Guards succeeded in establishing advanced posts at Pinson and Sentier
Farms.

During the advance the dash and gallantry displayed by the 201st
French Regiment on the left, often in circumstances of exceptional
difficulty, gained the admiration of the whole Guards Division. The
ground over which it passed was covered with block-houses; there were
several strong posts which had to be reckoned with; but in spite of
all this it managed to keep pace with the Division.

The total casualties in the Guards Division during these operations
were 59 officers and 1876 men, while 750 Germans were taken prisoner,
and 30 machine-guns and 1 howitzer were captured.


THE 3RD BATTALION

[Sidenote: 3rd Batt.]

On the evening of the 30th of July the 3rd Battalion left Forest Area,
and moved up with the remainder of the 2nd Brigade to the assembly
area on the western side of the Canal. On the way it halted in a field
just east of Elverdinghe, and the men were provided with hot tea and
rum. This halt had a very good effect, for not only did it give the
men rest on a long and tiring march, but it saved them from the
nervous tension of a long period of waiting in the line for the battle
to begin.

The east side of the Canal had fallen into our hands a few days
previously, and it was therefore possible to hold that side lightly.
On the right of the Guards Division the Thirty-eighth Division had
been equally successful, and had established itself on the east bank;
but it had not been able to push its line any farther forward.

The 1st Battalion Scots Guards and the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards were
to be in the front line, and their leading companies were to start
from the farther side of the Canal, which had fallen into our hands a
few days previously. The 3rd Battalion Grenadiers and 1st Battalion
Coldstream were in reserve some 400 yards from the Canal. The two
leading Battalions were to take the first and second objectives, and
the two Battalions in reserve were then to pass through and secure the
third objective. The final objective was left to the 1st Guards
Brigade, which formed the Divisional Reserve.

The following officers took part in the attack:

     Lieut.-Colonel A. F. A. N. Thorne, D.S.O.    Commanding Officer.
     Lieut. K. Henderson                          Acting Adjutant.
     2nd Lieut. L. Holbech                        Intelligence Officer.
     Lieut. E. R. M. Fryer                        No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. F. J. Siltzer                           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. A. G. Elliott                       ”       ”
     Capt. the Hon. F. O. H. Eaton                No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. F. W. R. Greenhill                      ”       ”
     Lieut. J. F. Worsley                           ”       ”
     Capt. W. W. S. C. Neville, M.C.              No. 3 Company.
     2nd Lieut. the Hon. A. M. Borthwick            ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. B. J. Dunlop                        ”       ”
     Lieut. F. J. Heasman                         No. 4 Company.
     2nd Lieut. C. W. Carrington                    ”       ”
              _Attached_――Capt. G. W. East, R.A.M.C.

The whole Brigade took up its battle positions without any difficulty:
the two leading Battalions each placed two companies less two platoons
on the farther bank, and left two platoons as moppers-up on the
western bank. The shelling of the Canal by the German artillery never
ceased for a moment, and caused a good many casualties. The attack was
timed to start at 3.50 A.M., but in order to conform with the creeping
barrage the actual advance of the Brigade did not take place till
twenty minutes later. The leading Battalions advanced behind the
creeping barrage in four waves, with an interval of over 100 yards
between each wave. The attack was assisted by a machine-gun barrage:
eight guns from the Divisional Machine-Gun Company were detailed for
this work, as well as the 4th Guards and the 29th Machine-Gun
Companies. Both by the attacking troops, and by prisoners who were
subsequently taken in the advance, this barrage was reported to have
been most effective.

The attack was completely successful, and the first objective or Blue
line was secured at 4.30 A.M., but there was naturally a considerable
number of casualties, especially on the right, where the Scots Guards
were exposed to enfilade fire. The 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards
waited in its trenches until 5 A.M., by which time it was light; and
although the enemy continued with all the German thoroughness to shell
the Canal itself, it never seems to have occurred to him to put
barrages down farther back. This was undoubtedly a bad mistake on his
part.

At 5 A.M., according to orders, the 3rd Battalion started off with No.
1 Company under Lieutenant E. R. Fryer on the right, and No. 2 Company
under Captain the Hon. F. Eaton on the left. In support came No. 3
Company, commanded by Captain W. Neville, while No. 4 Company under
Lieutenant F. Heasman was employed in carrying up material to the
various objectives, and was directly under the orders of the Brigade.
The passage across the Canal was successfully accomplished, though
owing to the broken bridges there was a certain amount of delay. In
some places, indeed, these bridges, consisting of petrol tins, had
been so much damaged that there was practically nothing to walk upon.
However, the barrage thrown on the Canal was by no means continuous,
and as a certain amount of latitude was allowed in the choice of a
crossing, officers were able to select comparatively safe courses,
with the result that there were no casualties. Having crossed the
Canal, the Battalion advanced in artillery formation towards Artillery
Wood over the most difficult ground, while the German artillery sent
high-explosive shells over, directing them to any strong points that
might be made use of by the attacking force. So the 3rd Battalion
arrived at the Blue line.

Meanwhile the battalions in front had been pushing on to the second
objective or Black line. This phase of the attack was more
complicated, for the enemy’s machine-guns were scattered about in
“pill-boxes,” which were difficult to capture, and a great many
casualties occurred not only from the machine-guns, but also from the
German infantry, which was holding positions in the shell-holes in
front of its trenches.

When the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards approached the Black line it
found that there were hardly any British troops in front of it, as the
Scots Guards, having suffered heavy casualties, were mostly employed
in dealing with the “pill-boxes” on their right. Captain Eaton at once
disengaged No. 2 Company, and brought it up on the left of No. 1. The
enemy’s machine-guns at Maison Tambour had been very troublesome, and
had caused twenty casualties in No. 1 Company on the way up. Leaving
Captain Neville to deal with this difficulty, Captain Eaton and
Lieutenant Fryer extended their companies in two waves, and with the
help of the Scots Guards, who were now freed from guarding the right
flank, rushed on, and seized the second objective or Black line. At
the same time Captain Neville brought up Lewis guns and rifle
grenades, and with the help of hand grenades succeeded in silencing
the obstructive enemy post. The Adjutant, Lieutenant Henderson,
finding that the Division on the right was not keeping pace, went out
to find the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, but before he was able to
accomplish his mission he was shot through the body, and eventually
carried back into safety.

Although the Black line had been captured, the situation on the right
was still unsatisfactory, and part of No. 1 Company had to face to
that flank. The duty of reporting the position of the Battalion to the
contact aeroplanes was then accomplished by waving large flappers
above sheets laid on the ground.

The advance to the third objective or Green line was now timed to
begin, and this was entrusted to the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers and 1st
Battalion Coldstream. As the advance progressed considerable
opposition was met with from the block-houses on the railway. These
block-houses were also holding up the Thirty-eighth Division. Nor was
No. 2 Company on the left of the Grenadiers free to advance, as there
were several “pill-boxes” in front of it to be disposed of. Captain
Eaton began to deal with these methodically, and with the aid of Lewis
guns and bombs demolished each in turn. As No. 1 Company approached a
house which it had surrounded, a large white flag was seen to be waved
frantically from one of the apertures, and eventually three German
officers and fifty men emerged and surrendered.

Captain Neville was occupied in dealing with the situation on the
right, while Nos. 1 and 2 Companies continued their advance. Just
beyond Wood House he brought up two machine-guns and got them into
action under cover of the low railway embankment. Lieutenant Dunlop
was told to advance with No. 9 Platoon, and started off most gallantly
in the face of a withering fire when he was shot dead. Captain Neville
at once brought up No. 12 Platoon, while Lieutenant Borthwick, with
No. 11 Platoon, guarded the right flank. This enabled Nos. 1 and 2
Companies to push on and secure the Green line. During the last
advance Captain Eaton had been unable to keep touch with the 1st
Battalion Coldstream Guards, who had had to bear to the left to retain
touch with the 3rd Guards Brigade, but on reaching the Green line
every unit was at its allotted post. While Captain Eaton and
Lieutenant Fryer were ordering their Companies to consolidate the
position, Captain Neville noticed that the Thirty-eighth Division was
still being held up by three “pill-boxes” which were situated in rear
of his Company on the other side of the railway line. Rifle-fire was
quite useless against 2 feet of ferro-concrete, and he therefore
determined to make a bombing attack. Though there was, of course,
considerable danger of the attackers being shot by the Thirty-eighth
Division, it seemed the only way of dealing with this obstruction. The
attack was led by Sergeant Browning and Private Baker, both of whom
were wounded, and was wonderfully successful, the enemy being
completely dislodged from their position, and losing 20 killed and 42
captured. Lieut.-Colonel Thorne came up soon after, and expressed his
approval of all the dispositions that had been made. In order to
adhere strictly to the orders, he told Captain Neville to take his men
from the front line into support, and Lieut. Fryer to occupy the whole
of the front-line trench. At this moment, however, the 2nd Battalion
Grenadier Guards, of the 1st Brigade, was seen advancing to pass
through, and in order to prevent any confusion Captain Neville decided
to wait until it had passed before sorting out his men. Having carried
out his orders he was just looking round to see if there were no more
men of his Company in the front line when he was hit by a bullet.

During the whole attack No. 4 Company, under Lieutenant Heasman, acted
as a carrying party for the whole Brigade, and was split up into five
small parties of about twenty men, each under a Sergeant. Yukon packs
which the men wore were of great service for carrying shells and
water-bottles. Each man carried four Stokes-gun shells and a coil of
French wire during the initial stages of the attack, but later in the
day two or three tins of water were carried instead. One party made no
less than five journeys to the Blue line, a distance of 1000 yards,
and the average number of journeys was three. After the third
objective had been taken Lieutenant Heasman received orders to go
himself to Battalion Headquarters, and to send Second Lieutenant
Carrington with the whole of No. 4 Company up to the second objective
to relieve the Scots Guards.

The total casualties in the 3rd Battalion were 2 officers killed
(Second Lieutenant B. J. Dunlop and Captain G. W. East, R.A.M.C.), 4
officers wounded (Lieutenant K. Henderson, Lieutenant J. F. Worsley,
Second Lieutenant A. G. Elliott, and Captain W. Neville, M.C.), whilst
among other ranks there were 26 killed, 113 wounded, and 12 missing.


THE 1ST BATTALION

[Sidenote: 1st Batt.]

Although the attack at Boesinghe was, comparatively speaking, a simple
operation, since the Germans had brought in the “crater zone” theory
of defence, and the ground therefore was not strongly defended, it was
most successful, and the manner in which the distances between the
various waves were maintained during the attack, and the promptitude
with which the fire positions were taken up and consolidated, won the
warmest praise from the Brigadier, Lord Henry Seymour. The morning of
the 31st was very misty, and the enemy’s aeroplanes were unable to
locate the attacking troops and incapable of directing the barrage.
The comparatively light casualties may therefore be attributed to this
fortunate state of the atmosphere.

The dispositions of the 3rd Guards Brigade were as follows: The 1st
Battalion Grenadier Guards on the right, and the 1st Battalion Welsh
Guards on the left, were to take the first two objectives, the Blue
and Black lines, while the 4th Battalion Grenadier Guards and 2nd
Battalion Scots Guards were to capture the third objective. The 1st
Guards Brigade was then to pass through and take the fourth objective
or Dotted Green line.

On July 29 the King’s Company under Lieutenant Pauling and No. 2
Company under Captain Baker left Forest Camp to take over from the
Irish Guards their battle front, while the officers and men who were
not to take part in the battle returned to Herzeele under Captain L.
Fisher-Rowe. Owing to a most fortunate reconnaissance by the 1st
Guards Brigade, some days before, advanced positions on the eastern
side of the Canal had been seized by the 3rd Battalion Coldstream
Guards, and had since been maintained. This proved of the greatest
value to the 1st Battalion, since it enabled the leading companies to
start the attack on the farther bank, instead of having to cross the
Canal under fire.

As soon as it was dark the King’s and No. 2 Companies crossed the
Canal by means of petrol tin bridges, which swayed so much that
several men fell into the water, until orders were given that not more
than four men at a time were to cross. Each company pushed forward two
platoons as far as Baboon Reserve Trench, leaving one platoon in
Baboon Support Trench and the remaining platoon on the Canal bank.
This movement was naturally not carried out without a certain number
of casualties. Captain Baker and his servant were killed by a direct
hit from a shell, and Acting Company Sergeant-Major Wheatley of No. 2
Company was wounded in addition to a number of other ranks. The
Battalion Headquarters, which was on the west side of the Canal at the
end of Bridge Street, was also constantly shelled, but as Nos. 3 and 4
Companies remained in Forest Area till the 30th, the greater part of
the German shells were wasted.

On the 30th, subsections of the 3rd Guards Brigade Machine-Gun Company
and the Trench Mortar Battery moved up to their assembly positions.
No. 3 Company under Lieutenant Dashwood and No. 4 under Captain
Lawford moved up into the trenches known as X line, just short of the
Canal. Brigadier-General Lord Henry Seymour came round as soon as
these positions were taken up to see that everything was ready. All
through the day the two leading companies in their advanced position
came in for a great deal of shelling, although mercifully the German
artillery did not seem to know their precise position. Lieutenant
Pauling, in command of the King’s Company, and Lieutenant Lawrence,
who had been sent up to command No. 2 after Captain Baker had been
killed, were both wounded, and the two Company Sergeant-Majors, who
had replaced those wounded the day before, were both killed. These
losses were particularly unfortunate just as the attack was about to
start. It rained intermittently all day, and the trenches were
consequently in a marshy condition. On the night of the 30th the
Battalion was formed up ready to attack the following morning.

The officers who took part in this attack were as follows:

     Lieut.-Colonel M. E. Makgill-Crichton-
       Maitland, D.S.O.                           Commanding Officer.
     Capt. P. J. S. Pearson-Gregory               Adjutant.
     Lieut. W. H. Lovell                          Lewis Gun Officer.
     Capt. P. M. Spence                           Attached to Batt.
                                                    Headquarters.
     Lieut. M. Thrupp                             King’s Company.
     2nd Lieut. O. F. Stein                         ”       ”
     Lieut. T. P. M. Bevan                        No. 2 Company.
     2nd Lieut. S. Y. P. Gardner                    ”       ”
     Lieut. W. J. Dashwood                        No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. P. G. Simmons                           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. G. Johnson                       ”       ”
     Capt. R. D. Lawford                          No. 4 Company.
     2nd Lieut. A. S. Chambers                      ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. J. W. Chapple                       ”       ”
     Capt. J. C. B. Grant, R.A.M.C.               Medical Officer.

During the night of the 30th our artillery bombarded the German
artillery with gas shells. The result was very satisfactory, for,
although the British front line received a good proportion of shells,
the assembly was carried out without a hitch, and almost without a
casualty. Zero hour was at 3.50 A.M., but, as the 3rd Guards Brigade
was so far in advance of the rest of the line, the 1st Battalion
Grenadiers had to wait till 4.28 A.M. before advancing behind the
barrage. The enemy put down a heavy barrage on the Canal, but seeing
no attack start on our front evidently assumed that none was intended,
and lifted the barrage to another sector. During this preliminary
bombardment Lieutenant Thrupp had his wrist smashed by a splinter of a
shell, but after he had had it bound up by his runner he joined the
advance, when a bullet through his leg stopped him a second time.
Although he was carried down to the dressing-station, he never
recovered, and died that evening.

The order of the advance was as follows:

     First Wave.      2 Platoons of the King’s Company.
                      2 Platoons of No. 2 Company.
     Moppers-up.      2 Platoons of No. 4 Company.
                      2 Sections of the King’s Company.
                      2 Sections of No. 2 Company.
     Second Wave.     No. 3 Company in support.
     Third Wave.      2 Platoons of the King’s Company (less 2 sections).
                      2 Platoons of No. 2 Company (less 2 sections).
                      Remainder of No. 4 Company.

There were ten paces between the lines and seventy-five paces between
the waves.

At 4.36 a protective barrage was put down on the southern half of the
Blue line, and a quarter of an hour later it was continued on the
northern half. The King’s and No. 2 Companies advanced in perfect
order, but so eager were they to get at the enemy that the officers
and N.C.O.’s found it difficult to prevent the men going too fast, and
getting dangerously near the creeping barrage. Owing to the mist the
1st Battalion went a little too much to the right, but this tendency
was easily corrected later on. At first the moppers-up did not make
many prisoners, but as the advance continued they found dug-outs full
of Germans, and captured about fifty. The first objective or Blue line
was taken with comparative case, but just as the Battalion reached it
Captain Lawford and Lieutenant Dashwood were wounded. The former
recovered, but Lieutenant Dashwood died two days afterwards in
hospital. Within twenty minutes of the capture of this line the
consolidation was complete. French wire was run out and strong points
were dug. While this was being done the attack on the second objective
or Black line was started by the third wave followed by the second
wave. Everything went like clockwork, and there was no hitch of any
kind. At zero + 3 hours and 24 minutes the 4th Battalion passed
through to assault the Green line. No. 3 Company was placed under the
direct orders of the officer commanding the 4th Battalion, and was
ordered to make a strong point just north of Abri Farm. The 101st
French Regiment on the left was held up for a time, but the 4th
Battalion Grenadiers by its advance lessened the pressure on the
French front and enabled them to seize the enemy’s strong point at
Colonel’s Farm. While No. 4 Company was consolidating the Black line
Second Lieutenant Chapple was seriously wounded, and died a few days
later in hospital. As the advance to the third objective started, the
two platoons of the King’s Company, which had reached the Black line,
returned to the Battalion in the Blue line, and at 9.50 A.M.
Lieut.-Colonel Maitland received orders to withdraw his Battalion.

During the attack the 1st Battalion captured four machine-guns and two
Minenwerfers. The casualties in the Battalion were 2 officers and 24
other ranks killed, 2 officers and 3 other ranks died of wounds, and 3
officers and 85 other ranks wounded. The medical arrangements were
perfect, and the whole battlefield was cleared by 10 A.M.


THE 4TH BATTALION

[Sidenote: 4th Batt.]

At 9 o’clock on the night of the 30th the 4th Battalion left Forest
Bivouac Area, and marched _via_ Artillery Track 12, Bridge Street, and
Clarges Street through Boesinghe to its forming-up areas, which it
reached without suffering any casualties. By 1.20 A.M. all companies
were reported to be in their places. No. 1 under Lieut. Pixley and No.
4 under Captain Paton, with two mopping-up platoons from No. 2
Company, were in the front trench, with the rest of the Battalion some
distance in rear. The 4th Battalion was to follow the 1st Battalion
until the first two objectives, the Blue and Black lines, had been
secured. It was then to pass through that Battalion, and attack the
Green line. After this had been taken the 1st Guards Brigade would
pass through and go on to the Dotted line over the Steenbeek River.

The following officers took part in the attack:

     Lieut.-Colonel Viscount Gort, D.S.O.,
       M.V.O., M.C.                               Commanding Officer.
     Capt. C. R. Gerard                           Adjutant.
     Lieut. J. B. M. Burke                        Intelligence Officer.
     Lieut. I. H. Ingleby                         Act.-Quartermaster.
     2nd Lieut. N. A. Pearce                      Transport Officer.
     Lieut. J. N. F. Pixley                       No. 1 Company.
     2nd Lieut. G. R. Green                        ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. E. H. Tuckwell                     ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. J. M. Chitty                       ”       ”
     Capt. the Hon. F. E. Needham                 No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. R. G. West                             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. W. Windeler                     ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. F. R. Oliver                       ”       ”
     Capt. C. H. Greville                         No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. R. Farquhar, M.C.                      ”       ”
     Lieut. C. S. Nash                             ”       ”
     Capt. G. H. T. Paton, M.C.                   No. 4 Company.
     2nd Lieut. B. J. Hubbard                      ”       ”
     Lieut. C. E. Irby                             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. J. J. M. Veitch                    ”       ”
     Capt. N. Grellier, M.C., R.A.M.C.            Medical Officer.

At 3.50 A.M. the barrage began, and the noise was terrific. The whole
sky blazed, and it seemed as if every gun that had ever been made was
firing. Nos. 1 and 4 Companies, followed by the Battalion Forward
Command Party and the moppers-up, crossed the Canal, moving in
artillery formation. The left of No. 4 Company was heavily shelled as
it crossed, and two platoons became rather scattered and lost
direction. Second Lieutenant Hubbard with great coolness succeeded in
rallying them and bringing them back to their correct position. There
was at the time a considerable amount of machine-gun fire from
Crapouillot Wood, and in the terrific noise and semi-darkness it was
not easy to keep the platoons together. During the first stages of the
advance both companies found it difficult to recognise landmarks, and
compass bearings had to be used. There was a marked tendency to
mistake Artillery Wood for Wood 15, which in the circumstances was
hardly to be wondered at. Some loss of direction was inevitable, and
at one time Grenadier, Irish, and Scots Guards seemed inextricably
mixed south of Artillery Wood. But the private soldier of to-day is
extremely intelligent, and if he can only see his officer he will
disentangle himself, and get into his right place. Captain Pixley soon
managed to re-form his Company, and take it on in the right direction,
while the companies and platoons from the other Battalions sorted
themselves out in an incredibly short time. No. 4 Company had also
lost direction, and had come in for very heavy shelling, but Captain
Paton was able by the aid of his compass to bring it back to the
correct line of advance. A 5·9 shell fell right among the Battalion
Forward Command Party, wounding many men and throwing it into great
confusion. Lieutenant J. B. Burke quickly reorganised the party with
the few remaining men, and was able to maintain the chain of
communications.

When the Black line was reached, the 4th Battalion deployed into line.
The hostile shelling had completely died down, and except for some
machine-gun fire from the direction of Abri Wood the deployment was
not interfered with. A smoke barrage proved most effective, and
completely covered the Battalion as it deployed. The 1st Battalion had
succeeded in capturing the Blue and Black lines in accordance with the
scheduled time, and the advance on the Green line now commenced. On
the right of the 4th Battalion was the 1st Battalion Coldstream, and
on the left the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards. No. 1 Company was delayed
for a short time by the water surrounding Lapin Farm, but managed to
catch up the barrage again before entering Abri Wood. The creeping
barrage was perfect, and gave the men great confidence. On the left of
the 3rd Guards Brigade the 101st French Regiment had been held up by
machine-guns, with the result that the left flank of the Brigade was
in the air. The 2nd Battalion Scots Guards had to throw back a
defensive flank, so as to keep touch with its neighbours.

There was a considerable amount of machine-gun fire from “pill-boxes”
in Abri Wood, and also enfilade fire from the right, but the advance
was not delayed on this account. The “pill-boxes” were rapidly
surrounded, and the occupants of dug-outs immediately emerged and
surrendered; only in a few cases was it necessary to bomb them. Three
trench mortars were captured in a position near Abri Farm, and the
whole attack was most successful.

As soon as the Green line was secured, consolidation was begun. The
front occupied by the Battalion extended from Captain’s Farm to
Fourche Farm, with strong points at both these places, and a support
line consisting of fortified shell-holes fifty yards in rear.
Machine-guns, Stokes mortars, and Lewis guns were brought up and
posted at different points in the front line. No. 3 Company of the 1st
Battalion, which had been placed under Lord Gort’s orders, dug a large
cruciform post in rear of the support trench, and by 2 P.M. the whole
of the defences were complete and efficiently wired.

Meanwhile the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards had passed through, and
had succeeded in reaching the Green Dotted line, with its left on
Fourche Farm and its right on Signal Farm. For the first two hours
after the Green line had been captured the shelling was negligible,
but when three German contact aeroplanes flew very low over the line,
and located the Battalion, every one feared the worst. It was not long
before a heavy bombardment took place, and the shells fell with
alarming rapidity. Captain Pixley had a somewhat lucky escape: he had
selected a concrete dug-out in Captain’s Farm for his headquarters
when he was requested by the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards to hand
it over to be used as its Battalion Headquarters. He had hardly left
it when it was blown to pieces by a shell. He then changed his
quarters to a hut, but had to move farther to the left when the
Battalion took over the whole line, and soon after he vacated it the
hut was demolished by a shell.

Orders were now received for the 4th Battalion to take over the whole
frontage, from Captain’s Farm to Colonel’s Farm, so that the 2nd Scots
Guards might be withdrawn. This operation was carried out in pouring
rain, and the Battalion spent a miserable night, being soaked to the
skin and continually shelled. The next morning, August 1, the trenches
were in a shocking condition owing to the rain, and the shell-holes
were full of water. A heavy bombardment took place in the morning, and
died down later. At 7 that evening the 4th Battalion was relieved by
the 3rd Battalion Coldstream, and returned to Forest Area Bivouac
Camp. Both officers and men were dead-beat, having had no sleep for
three days: they were so wet that everything they had with them was
ruined by the rain, and any paper or book was like pulp.

There were 2 officers wounded (Lieut.-Colonel Lord Gort and Captain C.
H. Greville), while the casualties amongst the other ranks were:
killed 15, wounded 94, gassed 1, shell-shock 3, died of wounds 4,
missing 5. On Lord Gort being sent to hospital, Captain the Hon. F. E.
Needham took over the command of the Battalion.


THE 2ND BATTALION

[Sidenote: 2nd Batt.]

The assembly march on the night of the 30th of July was carried out by
the 1st Guards Brigade without any difficulty, and all units were in
position by 1 A.M. The 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards moved from
bivouacs in the Forest Area, 2½ miles west of Elverdinghe, to a field
near Roussel Farm, where cookers, sent on with the platoon guides,
provided tea and rum for the men before they bivouacked in the open.

The following officers of the 2nd Battalion took part in the attack on
the 31st:

     Lieut.-Colonel C. R. C. de Crespigny,
       D.S.O.                                     Commanding Officer.
     Capt. C. F. A. Walker, M.C.                  Acting Second in
                                                    Command.
     Lieut. A. H. Penn                            Adjutant.
     Capt. J. N. Buchanan                         No. 1 Company.
     2nd Lieut. R. G. Briscoe                      ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. P. A. A. Harbord                   ”       ”
     Capt. A. T. A. Ritchie, M.C.                 No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. A. S. L. St. J. Mildmay                ”       ”
     Lieut. F. H. G. Layland-Barratt, M.C.         ”       ”
     Lieut. R. G. C. Napier                        ”       ”
     Capt. Sir A. L. M. Napier, Bart.             No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. K. O’G. Harvard                        ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. Minto-Wilson                    ”       ”
     Lieut. J. H. Jacob                           No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. R. M. Oliver                           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. F. H. J. Drummond                  ”       ”
     Capt. J. A. Andrews, M.C., R.A.M.C.          Medical Officer.

The task assigned to the 1st Guards Brigade was the capture of the
farthest objective, after the first three objectives had been secured
by the 1st and 2nd Guards Brigades. During the first phases of the
attack the 1st Guards Brigade was therefore in reserve, advancing in
rear so as to be prepared to pass through the leading Brigades when
the moment arrived.

Zero hour was fixed for 3.50 A.M., and at 4 A.M. the 1st Guards
Brigade advanced with the 2nd Battalion Coldstream on the left and the
2nd Battalion Grenadiers on the right, moving in artillery formation.
The 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards and 1st Battalion Irish Guards
were under the direct orders of the G.O.C. Guards Division. On the
right of the Guards Division, the battalion which had to undertake the
attack on the last objective was the 17th Battalion Royal Welsh
Fusiliers in the Thirty-eighth Division.

During the early stages of the advance the shelling was very slight,
and it was not until the Canal was reached that the 2nd Battalion
began to suffer casualties. A considerable amount of shelling was met
with on both sides of the Canal, but the crossing was effected without
serious difficulty, although in places the bridges were broken, and
some of the men fell into the mud. The Battalion advanced in very good
order, the intervals and distances being kept with great precision.
Lieut.-Colonel de Crespigny, finding that he was gaining on the time
allotted to him, and noticing that the German barrage was irregular,
gave orders that commanders of platoons might use their discretion,
and halt occasionally in shell-holes, in order to avoid any zones
which appeared to be receiving particular attention from the German
artillery. The enemy was continually shortening his range, and there
is no doubt that, by avoiding the shelling as necessity demanded, many
casualties were avoided.

After going on in this way for about 2000 yards the leading companies,
No. 1 under Captain Buchanan, and No. 2 under Captain Ritchie, M.C.,
having come under machine-gun fire, deployed into line, their example
being followed by the companies in rear. The German barrage seemed to
follow the Battalion as it advanced, but without ever reaching it. One
howitzer shell, however, fell among the men of the Battalion
Headquarters, knocking over no less than five. When the Battalion
reached a point 500 yards south-west of the Green line, some 3000
yards from our old front line, it halted in accordance with orders,
and Lieut.-Colonel de Crespigny went forward to confer with
Lieut.-Colonel Thorne, commanding the 3rd Battalion. In the meantime
the 2nd and 3rd Guards Brigades had captured the Green line, which was
not a line of trenches but a line on the map, 100 yards beyond the
Iron Cross――Korteker Cabaret road, and therefore easily recognisable
as a landmark. At 8.20 A.M. the 1st Guards Brigade advanced through
the leading Brigades, which were to dig in and consolidate the Green
line.

When the leading companies of the 2nd Battalion reached the Green
line, Captain Ritchie with No. 2 Company found, as he expected, the
3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards digging itself in, and consolidating
the line; but Captain Buchanan with No. 1 Company could find no trace
of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, which should have been on the
left of the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers. As he had arrived somewhat ahead
of his time he commenced to dig in, as the position was on the crest
of a hill and exposed to a considerable amount of machine-gun fire.
The Company soon began to suffer heavy casualties. Captain Ritchie on
the right sent word to say that he was being held up by machine-gun
fire from the right, and was being subjected to enfilade fire from a
partially destroyed house on the east of the Boesinghe-Staden Railway.
He added that he could see no trace of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on
his right. The whole line was under machine-gun and rifle fire, and
not long afterwards Captain Ritchie and Lieutenant Napier were hit by
machine-gun bullets, so that the command of No. 2 Company now devolved
on Lieutenant A. St. J. Mildmay.

Captain Buchanan considered that while it was possible to push on he
should do so, even if the Company on his right was unable to advance.
He therefore decided to move forward, and sent back to Captain Sir A.
L. Napier, commanding No. 3 Company, asking him to garrison the Green
line. As the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, which, it was afterwards
discovered, had gone too far to the right, did not appear, and as the
Royal Welsh Fusiliers were unable to reach their objective, the
advance was delayed and not continued until fifteen minutes after the
creeping barrage was timed to move on. However, our barrage had now
become uncertain, shells falling sometimes far ahead and sometimes
alarmingly close, so that the two leading companies could not well
have advanced any sooner. Captain Buchanan, regardless of the
situation on his flanks, continued to advance with No. 1 Company in
the most gallant manner, and succeeded in reaching Signal and Ruisseau
Farms, where thirty of the enemy were captured, including a battalion
commander and a number of officers. A platoon of No. 3 Company, under
the command of Lieutenant Harvard, who showed considerable ability in
handling his men in exceptionally difficult circumstances, was now
sent up as reinforcements. No. 1 Company dashed on, and managed to
cross the Steenbeek River, on the farther side of which it dug itself
in.

Meanwhile the position on the right was full of difficulties. The 17th
Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers had been held up, and the usual
problem demanded solution: how to keep pace with the advance, and at
the same time to guard the exposed flank? A platoon of No. 4 Company,
under Lieutenant Oliver, at once formed a defensive flank to the
right; but this was an insufficient safeguard, and as No. 2 Company
continued to advance, Lieutenant Mildmay, now in command, was forced
to waste half his strength in protecting the right flank. Lieutenant
Jacob, who commanded No. 4 Company, sent forward one platoon to assist
No. 2 in their advance, and after consultation with Captain Buchanan
despatched a third platoon under Second Lieutenant Drummond to prolong
the left of No. 3 Company, which was now advancing in support of No.
1. This platoon had not gone far before Lieutenant Drummond was
wounded by a shell, but in spite of this, and even another wound in
the neck from a bullet, he insisted on remaining with his Company
until the Battalion was relieved, dealing coolly with every situation
which arose. During the advance Sergeant Sharpe and two men captured a
block-house 150 yards west of the railway, securing no less than
twenty-one prisoners.

By now the Royal Welsh Fusiliers had succeeded in demolishing the
block-houses which impeded their advance, and had gained ground on the
right. This enabled Lieutenant Mildmay to push on with No. 2 Company
to within 80 yards of the Steenbeek, but there he was held up by
machine-gun fire from Langemarck village. Any endeavour to cross the
river in the circumstances would be doomed to failure, nor was there
any advantage to be gained by the attempt, since the men now occupied
a position with a good field of fire dominating the approaches to the
river.

The section of the Machine-Gun Company which followed the 2nd
Battalion during this advance suffered very much from shell-fire.
Lieutenant Cottle, the officer in command, was killed whilst going
forward to reconnoitre, and shortly afterwards one of the guns of this
section with its entire team was knocked out by a shell. The remaining
guns, however, were brought up into good positions in the front line.

Three German aeroplanes made a complete and leisurely reconnaissance
of our position, although they were freely engaged with Lewis guns and
rifle-fire. Meanwhile, the 2nd Battalion Coldstream on the left, which
had not experienced much opposition, but had had a very difficult
wheel to perform, had succeeded in reaching its objective, and was
established with its left on the Green line and its right in touch
with the 2nd Battalion Grenadiers on the Steenbeek. As soon as it was
dark, the line was straightened and strengthened, and touch was
established between all units. A steady downpour of rain commenced
that night and continued unceasingly until the Battalion was relieved
two days later. The ground became one large morass, and the trenches
were mere ditches, in which the men had to stand up to their knees in
water. The hardships which the men had to endure cannot be
over-estimated. Not only were they soaked through and covered with
mud, but they were under continual shell-fire. Being for the most part
on the forward slope of a hill, they were unable to move about in
daylight to keep warm, and no hot food of any description could be
brought up to them. The only way to ensure warmth was to dig a new
trench at dusk and dawn every day. The advanced position of the
trenches made it a precarious line to hold, more especially as it was
impossible to dig down very deep on account of the water. There were
consequently many casualties, amongst whom was Lieutenant K. Harvard,
who was so badly wounded that he never recovered. He died the same
evening at the dressing-station. The situation was not made easier by
the Thirty-eighth Division on the right, which continually sent up
S.O.S. signals without any apparent reason. This not only brought down
our barrage, some shells of which fell in the Battalion’s own advanced
trenches, but it also caused retaliation from the enemy’s artillery.

On the night of August 2 the 2nd Battalion was relieved, and marched
to Bluet, where hot tea was provided. It was a very trying march;
every one was knee-deep in mud, and the weight of the mud and soaked
equipment was almost intolerable. Later the Battalion moved on to
Elverdinghe in order to entrain for Proven, but a shell had blown up a
part of the line, and no train was therefore available. A move was
made instead into bivouacs near Cardoen Farm, where the Battalion
remained until lorries arrived to convey it to Proven.

The casualties amongst the officers were: Lieutenant K. O’G. Harvard,
killed; Lieutenant R. G. C. Napier, died of wounds; Captain A. T. A.
Ritchie, M.C., Lieutenant J. H. Jacob, Lieutenant A. S. L. St. J.
Mildmay, and Second Lieutenant F. H. J. Drummond, wounded. Amongst
other ranks: 44 killed, 191 wounded, 15 missing, 11 slightly wounded.



CHAPTER XXIV

AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER 1917

_Diary of the War_


[Sidenote: 1917.]

There was much fighting on the British front during these two months.
Early in August the Germans counter-attacked near Ypres, and succeeded
in regaining St. Julien, but only for a short time, for it was retaken
by the British a week later. On the Ypres――Menin road there was fierce
fighting; the British gained some ground north-west of Lens, and also
reached the Bois Hugo. In co-operation with the French they made good
progress in the direction of Langemarck, and crossed the Steenbeek
River. A general offensive east of Ypres was undertaken in September,
and the line was advanced considerably.

The French launched a determined attack at Verdun on an 11-mile front,
and captured several villages.

The Italians advanced in strong force on a 30-mile front from the
Isonzo to the sea, and captured the Austrian front-line trenches
beyond the Piave. They also had successes at Monte Gabriele and Val
Sagana.

The Russian _débâcle_ continued, and the Germans captured Czernowitz
and Riga. General Korniloff, finding that the Army was in a state of
mutiny, marched on Petrograd, apparently with the intention of taking
over the Government of Russia, but his insurrection ended in failure,
and he was forced to submit to the Provisional Government under
Kerensky.

In Mesopotamia Sir Stanley Maude defeated the Turks at Ramadie, and
there was some further fighting in East Africa. China declared war on
the Central Powers.

During these months several air raids were carried out against
England, and not only London but many other towns were severely
bombed.


THE 1ST BATTALION

[Sidenote: 1st Batt. Aug.]

After the operations at Boesinghe the 1st Battalion retired for a few
days’ rest to Forest Area, but returned to the front trenches on
August 5. While it was being relieved by the 3rd Battalion Royal
Fusiliers, Second Lieutenant H. G. Johnson was killed. On the 8th it
proceeded to Putney Camp near Proven, where it remained for four days,
and then moved on to Reinforcement Camp at Herzeele. On the 12th
Captain J. C. B. Grant, R.A.M.C., who had been attached to the
Battalion for over a year, left, and Captain P. H. Wells arrived to
take up the duties of Medical Officer. On the 26th Second Lieutenant
W. A. Fleet joined from the base, and on the 22nd Captain A. T. G.
Rhodes arrived. At the end of the month the Battalion moved to Rugby
Camp in the Bluet Farm Area.

[Sidenote: Sept. 1917.]

On September 1 it went into the line for four days, and came in for a
certain amount of shelling. Second Lieutenant R. H. Carson received a
bad wound in the side from a shell, and although he was carried down
to the dressing-station, where it was at first thought that his wound
was not serious, he died the next day. Second Lieutenant S. Y. P.
Gardner was wounded, and Second Lieutenant W. A. Fleet was gassed. On
September 5 the Battalion entrained at Lunéville Siding for Ondank,
whence it marched to Cariboo Camp. On the 13th it moved to Harrow
Camp, and on the 21st to Purbrook Camp. The following officers joined
during the month: Lieutenant A. A. Moller, Lieutenant J. F.
Tindal-Atkinson, Second Lieutenant F. H. Ennor, Second Lieutenant C.
C. Mays, Second Lieutenant R. Hall-Watt, Lieutenant J. P. Bibby,
Second Lieutenant W. U. Timmis, Lieutenant C. Wilkinson, Second
Lieutenant F. T. Maurice, Lieutenant the Hon. P. P. Cary, Second
Lieutenant J. A. Lloyd.

[Sidenote: Oct.]

The first few days in October were spent by the Battalion at Putney
Camp, and on the 3rd it moved to the Elverdinghe Area, where the
following officers rejoined: Captain Spence, Captain Chamberlain,
Lieutenant Bevan, and Second Lieutenant Timmis.

     LIST OF OFFICERS OF THE 1ST BATTALION AT THE BEGINNING OF OCTOBER

     Lieut.-Colonel M. E. Makgill-Crichton-
       Maitland, D.S.O.                           Commanding Battalion.
     Major H. G. C. Viscount Lascelles            Second in Command.
     Capt. P. J. S. Pearson-Gregory               Adjutant.
     Lieut. D. H. S. Riddiford                    Transport Officer.
     Capt. and Quartermaster J. Teece, M.C.       Quartermaster.
     Capt. L. G. Fisher-Rowe, M.C.                King’s Company.
     Lieut. T. P. M. Bevan, M.C.                    ”       ”
     Lieut. L. de J. Harvard                        ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. R. B. St. Q. Wall                   ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. R. C. Bruce                         ”       ”
     Capt. A. T. G. Rhodes                        No. 2 Company.
     2nd Lieut. L. G. Byng                          ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. W. U. Timmis                        ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. R. Hall-Watt                        ”       ”
     Capt. P. M. Spence                           No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. P. G. Simmons                           ”       ”
     Lieut. J. P. Bibby                             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. F. H. Ennor                         ”       ”
     Lieut. A. A. Moller                           No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. the Hon. P. P. Cary                     ”       ”
     Lieut. R. P. le P. Trench, M.C.                ”       ”
     Lieut. J. F. Tindal-Atkinson                   ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. A. S. Chambers                      ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. C. C. Mays                          ”       ”
     Capt. P. H. Wells, R.A.M.C.                  Medical Officer.


THE 2ND BATTALION

[Sidenote: Aug.]

The 2nd Battalion reached Plumstead Camp between Herzeele and Proven
on August 3, and remained there training until the 21st, when it moved
into bivouacs at Bluet Farm. On the 28th it went to Harrow Camp, and
was employed in carrying up material to the front line. There was a
great deal of promiscuous shelling by the enemy’s artillery, and one
shell pitched on the cookers of the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards,
killing 3 men and wounding 14, while later two of its travelling
cookers were blown to pieces, but the 2nd Battalion only had one man
wounded. On the 31st it moved back out of the shelled area. During the
month the following officers joined: Lieutenant H. White, Captain C.
N. Newton, M.C., Second Lieutenant R. H. R. Palmer, and Second
Lieutenant H. B. G. Morgan.

[Sidenote: Sept.]

On September 8 the Battalion took over the front trenches immediately
to the left of the Staden Railway, where the line was held by a series
of posts running across the Broembeek. This was a very unpleasant line
to occupy, as it was wet and marshy, and the enemy was able
practically to overlook the trenches. Captain Walker, M.C., commanded
the Battalion, while Major Rasch temporarily took command of the
Brigade. During the three days in the line, 6 men were killed and 32
wounded. Second Lieutenant H. B. G. Morgan and three other ranks were
slightly wounded, but remained at duty. On the 10th the Battalion
spent four very disagreeable days at Rugby Camp, where it was
continually bombed, shelled, and gassed. The men were employed in
carrying up material to the front line, but considering they were
constantly subjected to shell-fire they suffered very little: 3 men
were killed, 3 wounded, and 11 gassed. Just as the Battalion was
leaving camp, six 8-inch shells fell close by, but fortunately without
causing any casualties. After a fortnight at De Wippe Camp, where it
was employed on fatigues, the Battalion moved on the 23rd to Plumstead
Camp, where it remained until October 6. On September 22
Brigadier-General G. D. Jeffreys, C.M.G., having been given command of
the Nineteenth Division, left the 1st Guards Brigade to take up his
new appointment, and was succeeded by Lieut.-Colonel C. R. C. de
Crespigny. Lieutenant R. Y. T. Kendall and Second Lieutenant H. D.
Stratford joined the Battalion on the 14th, and Second Lieutenant G.
H. Hanning on the 21st.

[Sidenote: Oct.]

     LIST OF OFFICERS OF THE 2ND BATTALION AT THE BEGINNING OF OCTOBER

     Major G. E. C. Rasch, D.S.O.                 Commanding Battalion.
     Major the Hon. W. R. Bailey, D.S.O.          Second in Command.
     Capt. A. H. Penn                             Adjutant.
     Hon. Capt. W. E. Acraman, M.C.               Quartermaster.
     Lieut. G. G. M. Vereker, M.C.                Transport Officer.
     2nd Lieut. H. M. Wilson                      Intelligence Officer.
     Capt. J. N. Buchanan, M.C.                   No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. J. C. Cornforth (Battalion
       Bombing Officer)                            ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. P. A. A. Harbord, M.C.             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. S. H. Pearson                      ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. D. Stratford                    ”       ”
     Capt. Sir A. L. M. Napier, Bart.             No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. F. A. M. Browning (Asst.
       Adjutant)                                   ”       ”
     Lieut, the Hon. F. H. Manners                 ”       ”
     Lieut. F. H. G. Layland-Barratt, M.C.         ”       ”
     Lieut. W. H. S. Dent                          ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. R. H. R. Palmer                    ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. B. G. Morgan                    ”       ”
     Capt. C. N. Newton, M.C.                     No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. R. Y. T. Kendall                       ”       ”
     Lieut. F. A. Magnay                           ”       ”
     Lieut. A. W. Acland                           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. White                           ”       ”
     Capt. G. C. FitzH. Harcourt-Vernon,
       D.S.O.                                     No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. G. R. Westmacott                       ”       ”
     Lieut. R. A. W. Bicknell (Battalion
       L.G. Officer)                               ”       ”
     Lieut. J. Tabor                               ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. G. H. Hanning                      ”       ”
     Capt. J. A. Andrews, M.C., R.A.M.C.          Medical Officer.
     Capt. the Rev. Hon. C. F. Lyttelton          Chaplain.


THE 3RD BATTALION

[Sidenote: Aug.]

After three days’ rest in Forest Area the 3rd Battalion went by train
to Elverdinghe, and marched up from there to the front line. While the
relief was being carried out there was a good deal of shelling, and
Second Lieutenant G. V. G. A. Webster, a keen young officer of great
promise, was killed by a shell. After a week’s rest at Herzeele, the
3rd Battalion moved into Corps Reserve, while the Twentieth and
Twenty-ninth Divisions attacked on the 16th. It returned to Herzeele
on the 19th, and on the 22nd went to De Wippe Camp.

[Sidenote: Sept.]

On September 4 the Battalion moved to Eton Camp, which was close to
the railway, and therefore exposed to attacks by the enemy’s aircraft.
There were no less than forty casualties from bombs dropped from
aeroplanes. On the 12th the Battalion moved to Rugby Camp, which was
regularly shelled at night, and then took over the trenches in the
Broembeek sector. For four days it was subjected to considerable
shelling, and on the 20th it prolonged the line to the left, where the
10th King’s Royal Rifle Corps attacked, and took their objective. The
casualties during the four days were 6 killed and 28 wounded,
including Lieut. the Hon. A. M. Borthwick, Lieut. E. D. Tate, and
Lieut. R. W. Eliot Cornell.

[Sidenote: Oct.]

The first week in October was spent in training at Herzeele and
Proven.

     LIST OF OFFICERS OF THE 3RD BATTALION AT THE BEGINNING OF OCTOBER

     Lieut.-Colonel A. F. A. N. Thorne, D.S.O.    Commanding Battalion.
     Capt. E. D. Ridley, M.C.                     Second in Command.
     Capt. the Hon. A. G. Agar-Robartes, M.C.     Adjutant.
     2nd Lieut. L. Holbech                        Assistant Adjutant.
     Lieut. C. C. Carstairs                       Intelligence Officer.
     Lieut. M. Duquenoy                           Transport Officer.
     Lieut. G. H. Wall                            Quartermaster.
     2nd Lieut. F. W. R. Greenhill                      ”
     Capt. J. C. Craigie, M.C.                    No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. E. R. M. Fryer, M.C.                   ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. E. G. A. Fitzgerald                ”       ”
     Lieut. E. W. Seymour                          ”       ”
     Lieut. W. H. Beaumont-Nesbitt, M.C.          No. 2 Company.
     2nd Lieut. W. H. S. Roper                     ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. C. B. Hollins                      ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. J. Chapman                         ”       ”
     Lieut. J. C. D. Tetley                       No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. G. P. Bowes-Lyon                       ”       ”
     Lieut. N. Thornhill                           ”       ”
     Lieut. the Hon. H. E. Eaton                   ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. A. C. Knollys                      ”       ”
     Capt. G. F. R. Hirst                         No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. F. J. Heasman                          ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. C. W. Carrington                   ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. C. L. F. Boughey                   ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. F. S. V. Donnison                  ”       ”
          _Attached_――Lieut. H. Dearden, R.A.M.C.


THE 4TH BATTALION

[Sidenote: Aug. 1917.]

The first few days in August were spent by the 4th Battalion in Forest
Area; its strength was made up to 32 officers and 882 men. From the
5th to the 7th the Battalion went up into the trenches, where it came
in for a good deal of shelling. The casualties were 15 killed, 35
wounded, 3 missing, 1 case of shell-shock, total 54. Lieutenant J. B.
Burke was slightly wounded, but remained at duty. A patrol under
Second Lieutenant D. J. Knight was sent out to reconnoitre the ground
on the far side of the Steenbeek, and returned without having
encountered any Germans. On the 8th the Battalion marched to
Zonnerbloom Cabaret, where it entrained for Proven, whence it marched
to Penton Camp. On the 27th it proceeded to Herzeele, where Lieutenant
M. Chapman joined, and on the following day moved up into the line,
where it remained for four days. At first all was quiet, but later
shells began to fall very heavily. Second Lieutenant Benson took out
his platoon from No. 4 Company, and advanced the bridgehead positions
a distance of 100 yards, thus gaining a fresh field of observation
over three-quarters of a mile. He also went out with a daylight patrol
to locate the enemy, and succeeded in going as far as 200 yards before
two machine-guns opened fire on his party. One man was killed by a
low-flying aeroplane, which flew along the front line firing a
machine-gun, and the total casualties during the four days in the
trenches were 4 killed and 7 wounded.

[Sidenote: Sept.]

On the evening of September 1 the Battalion retired to Rugby Camp near
Bluet Farm, where it remained for a week. On the 5th a German
aeroplane flew over the camp, and dropped bombs, which wounded
Lieutenant R. G. West and Lance-Sergeant S. G. Bull. After a week at
Dublin Camp a move was made to Charterhouse Camp, where Lieutenant R.
Farquhar, M.C., was killed by a shell. He was a fearless officer who
had seen much fighting, and already distinguished himself; his death
was a great loss to the Battalion. On the 21st the Battalion moved to
Herzeele, and on the 24th to Penton Camp, where it remained training
until the operations of October 5.

[Sidenote: Oct.]

     LIST OF OFFICERS OF THE 4TH BATTALION AT THE BEGINNING OF OCTOBER

     Lieut.-Colonel Viscount Gort, D.S.O.,
       M.V.O., M.C.                               Commanding Battalion.
     Major W. S. Pilcher, D.S.O.                  Second in Command.
     Capt. C. R. Gerard                           Adjutant.
     Capt. G. C. Sloane-Stanley                   Assistant Adjutant.
     Lieut. M. Chapman                            Intelligence Officer.
     Lieut. I. J. Ingleby                         Act.-Quartermaster.
     2nd Lieut. N. A. Pearce                      Transport Officer.
     Capt. J. N. F. Pixley                        No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. C. E. Irby                             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. E. H. Tuckwell (Battalion
       L.G. Officer)                               ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. G. R. Green                        ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. J. M. Chitty                       ”       ”
     Capt. the Hon. F. E. Needham                 No. 2 Company.
     2nd Lieut. C. E. Benson, D.S.O.               ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. T. T. Pryce, M.C.                  ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. R. C. Denman                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. W. Windeler                     ”       ”
     Capt. J. B. M. Burke, M.C.                   No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. C. S. Nash (Battalion Bombing
       Officer)                                    ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. D. J. Knight                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. R. L. Murray Lawes                 ”       ”
     Capt. G. H. T. Paton, M.C.                   No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. H. H. Sloane-Stanley                   ”       ”
     Lieut. E. R. D. Hoare                         ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. B. J. Hubbard, M.C.                ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. F. R. Oliver                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. N. R. Abbey                        ”       ”
     Capt. N. Grellier, M.C., R.A.M.C.            Medical Officer.



CHAPTER XXV

THE CROSSING OF THE BROEMBEEK (THE GUARDS DIVISION)


[Sidenote: The Guards Division. Oct. 9-12. 1917.]

The crossing of the Broembeek and the occupation of the southern edge
of Houthulst Forest by the Guards Division was one of those
brilliantly executed attacks which are apt to be counted among minor
operations simply because of their success. There had been plenty of
time to make the arrangements, and General Feilding was determined to
ensure the success of the whole operation. The weather was an
important factor, as the ground was low, and there had been much rain.
If the Broembeek should become swollen by the rain, it would develop
into a serious obstacle, and the ground, already very deep in places,
might become a morass over which the troops would pass with
difficulty. Two patrols, which had gone out the week before the
attack, reported that mats would be necessary for crossing the stream,
but the weather fortunately improved, and on the day of the attack the
passage of the Broembeek presented few difficulties.

  [Illustration: Broembeek Oct. 10. 1917.
                                          _Emery Walker Ltd._]

General Feilding decided to hold the line with Seymour’s Brigade until
the 9th, and to carry out the attack with De Crespigny’s Brigade on
the right and Sergison-Brooke’s Brigade on the left. De Crespigny’s
Brigade was to cross the Broembeek from Panther and Leopard trenches,
and continue on either side of the Koekuit Road through Vee Bend to
its final objective, on the edge of the forest, from Egypt House to
about 800 yards east of Les Cinq Chemins. Sergison-Brooke’s Brigade,
starting from Craonne Farm and Panther trench, was to advance across
the stream through Ney Wood and Gruyterszaale Farm to Louvois Farm,
and a strong point beyond on its left, while on the right the group of
houses from Obtuse Bend to Suez Farm was to be taken, so that the line
up to the road to Les Cinq Chemins on the edge of the wood would be
secured.

Brigadier-General Lord Henry Seymour, who had to hold the original
line for the two days before the attack, placed the 4th Battalion
Grenadiers and 2nd Battalion Scots Guards in the front trenches, and
these two Battalions had a strenuous time preparing accommodation for
the other two Brigades, and placing mats in readiness for the crossing
of the stream. The 1st Battalion Grenadiers and 1st Battalion Welsh
Guards had also to work hard forming forward dumps, and dragging guns
into their new position.

On the evening of the 7th the relief was successfully accomplished,
and De Crespigny’s and Sergison-Brooke’s Brigades moved up into their
assembly positions.

[Sidenote: Oct. 9.]

At 5.20 A.M. on the 9th the attack began. In De Crespigny’s Brigade,
the 2nd Battalion Grenadiers and 2nd Battalion Coldstream advanced
after an intense bombardment, which lasted four minutes, and having
crossed the stream with comparatively little difficulty secured the
first objective. In Sergison-Brooke’s Brigade, the 1st Battalion Scots
Guards and the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards succeeded in crossing the
stream, and reaching the first objective by the appointed time. They,
however, experienced some difficulty at Ney Wood, where the enemy had
posted a strong machine-gun nest.

At 7 A.M. the advance to the second objective commenced, and was
equally successful, although in De Crespigny’s Brigade the 2nd
Battalion Coldstream met with some resistance from a group of
block-houses at Vee Bend.

As soon as the second objective had been secured, the remaining
Battalions in each Brigade moved up, and passing through the leading
Battalions attacked the third objective. In De Crespigny’s Brigade the
3rd Battalion Coldstream and 1st Battalion Irish Guards advanced, but
found that their task was not so easy as that of their predecessors.
Concrete block-houses had to be disposed of, and in some places a very
determined resistance was encountered. The Newfoundland Battalion of
the 88th Brigade had been unable to keep pace with the advance of the
Guards Division, whose right flank was consequently exposed. But the
third objective was reached according to the scheduled time.

In Sergison-Brooke’s Brigade the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers and 1st
Battalion Coldstream encountered little opposition, and seized Suez
Farm, where they captured two field-guns. The 3rd Battalion Grenadiers
reached the third objective so quickly that it was able to open fire
on the Germans retreating into Houthulst Forest and inflict on them
heavy casualties. The 1st Battalion Coldstream had some difficulty
with a strong point at Louvois Farm, but after working round it
succeeded in effecting its capture, together with the forty Germans
who formed the garrison.

When the third objective was secured the two Brigades dug themselves
in, and prepared for the expected counter-attack, but, although the
enemy showed some signs of activity, no actual attack took place. The
position was maintained until the night of the 10th, when Seymour’s
Brigade took over the line. The 1st Battalion Grenadiers was placed on
the right, the 4th Battalion in the centre, and the 1st Battalion
Welsh Guards on the left. In order to improve the front line, and at
the same time slightly to alter its direction, General Feilding
decided on a farther advance. The Welsh Guards had to remain where
they were; the 4th Battalion in the centre had to advance a short
distance, and the 1st Battalion on the right had to go somewhat
farther. All this was successfully carried out under a protective
barrage, though the 1st Battalion found it difficult to maintain
contact with the 51st Brigade on the right flank.

The new line was held until the evening of the 13th, when De
Crespigny’s Brigade took over the line. On the 17th the Guards
Division was relieved, and retired for a period of rest. The
casualties in the Division amounted to 67 officers and 1899 other
ranks. The total number of prisoners captured was 28 officers and 1152
other ranks, in addition to 3 field-guns, 1 howitzer, 36 machine-guns,
and 9 trench mortars.


THE 2ND BATTALION

[Sidenote: Oct. 7-13.]

On October 7 the 2nd Battalion with the remainder of the 1st Guards
Brigade reached Charterhouse Camp between the Yser Canal and
Elverdinghe. The afternoon was spent in distributing fighting stores
to the companies who were to undertake the attack.

The following officers took part in these operations:

     Lieut.-Colonel G. E. C. Rasch, D.S.O.        Commanding Officer.
     Capt. G. C. FitzH. Harcourt-Vernon, D.S.O.   Second in Command.
     Lieut. F. A. M. Browning                     Acting Adjutant.
     Lieut. J. C. Cornforth                       No. 1 Company.
     2nd Lieut. S. H. Pearson                      ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. D. Stratford                    ”       ”
     Capt. Sir A. L. M. Napier, Bart.[2]          No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. the Hon. F. H. Manners                 ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. B. G. Morgan                    ”       ”
     Capt. C. N. Newton, M.C.                     No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. A. W. Acland                           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. White                           ”       ”
     Lieut. G. R. Westmacott                      No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. R. A. W. Bicknell                      ”       ”
     Lieut. J. Tabor                               ”       ”
     Capt. J. A. Andrews, M.C., R.A.M.C.          Medical Officer.

Nos. 1 and 2 Companies took up their battle positions on the night of
the 7th, but the relief was long and troublesome owing to the sodden
and shattered state of the ground, and the night was cold and windy.
On the following day Nos. 3 and 4 Companies came up into their places
behind Nos. 1 and 2. The day was fine until 4 P.M., when a steady rain
commenced, which increased to a downpour, and continued until early
the next morning. It was a miserable night for the men who were going
to attack the next morning, and well calculated to depress the spirits
of the boldest. Rum and rations were sent up in addition to hot tea,
and everything possible was done to make the position bearable.

The condition of the Broembeek, which ran parallel to our front line,
was a matter for great anxiety. During the past week patrols had
reported it to be impassable at various places, and it was feared that
the recent rains had converted it into a serious obstacle. Both
companies sent out patrols to reconnoitre it during the night without
very reassuring results, although Lieutenant the Hon. F. Manners found
one or two points at which he was able to wade across. Mats and light
bridges were carried to the front companies to be used by the leading
waves of the attack.

The 2nd Battalion was on the right of the Guards Division, with the
2nd Battalion Coldstream on its left, and the 4th Battalion
Worcestershire Regiment on its right. Nos. 1 and 2 Companies were to
capture the first objective, and Nos. 3 and 4 were then to pass
through and secure the second objective. The capture of the third
objective was allotted to the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, which was to
pass through the Battalion after the second objective had been taken.
The line of advance of the 1st Guards Brigade was parallel to and 300
yards from the Staden――Langemarck railway.

There was no preliminary bombardment, but at zero hour, 5.20 A.M., an
intense barrage from 18-pounder guns and Stokes mortars dropped on and
beyond the Broembeek. It was considered of the first importance that
the effects of the barrage should not be lost by delay in crossing the
stream, but in the half light its exact line was not easy to
determine, and some casualties were caused by men pressing too close
to it. The stream proved far easier to cross than was anticipated, and
fallen trees, planks, and duckboards were of great assistance. The
German Division who held this part of the line appears to have been
taken by surprise, for it made a very poor resistance, and in places
where the crossing was difficult, the curious sight of Germans holding
out their hands to help our men out of the mud could be seen. Its line
was held by a series of posts, mostly converted shell-holes. In spite
of the line of advance being oblique to the trench from which they
started, No. 1 Company under Lieutenant Cornforth, and No. 2 Company
under Captain Sir A. Napier, managed to keep the direction, and the
advance continued unchecked. Minor adjustments were necessary from
time to time with the Battalion on the right, which at one time lost
direction, and swerved too far to the left, but the first objective
was gained and consolidated without any great opposition or serious
loss. No. 3 Company under Captain Newton and No. 4 under Lieutenant
Westmacott passed through, and advanced on the second objective. This
attack was equally successful, and this objective also was secured and
consolidated up to time. Both advances had been carried out with the
greatest steadiness and precision, and the skilful way in which the
N.C.O.’s handled their sections was remarkable. Although the task
allotted to the Battalion had been successfully carried out, its
troubles began after the second objective had been consolidated. It
had hardly had time to make the position secure, when the enemy’s
aircraft flying very low became unpleasantly attentive, and soon
afterwards it was subjected to a very heavy shelling from the enemy’s
artillery. Lieutenant Tabor was shot in the ankle, and soon afterwards
Second Lieutenant Stratford was wounded in the thigh. Captain Sir A.
Napier was slightly wounded, but remained at duty. The total
casualties in the Battalion were 33 killed, 123 wounded, 11 missing,
21 slightly wounded, total 188.


THE 3RD BATTALION

[Sidenote: Oct. 8-11.]

On October 7 the 3rd Battalion reached H Camp in Forest Area, and on
the following day moved up towards its assembly positions. There had
been heavy rain during the 7th, but on the 8th the weather improved.
The attack of the 2nd Guards Brigade was to be undertaken by the 1st
Battalion Scots Guards and the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards, who were to
seize the first two objectives, while the attack on the third
objective was entrusted to the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers and 1st
Battalion Coldstream.

The following officers of the 3rd Battalion took part in these
operations:

     Lieut.-Colonel A. F. A. N. Thorne, D.S.O.    Commanding Battalion.
     Capt. the Hon. A. G. Agar-Robartes, M.C.     Adjutant.
     Lieut. F. W. R. Greenhill                    Intelligence Officer.
     Capt. J. C. Craigie, M.C.                    No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. E. G. A. Fitzgerald                    ”       ”
     Lieut. E. W. Seymour                          ”       ”
     Capt. W. H. Beaumont-Nesbitt, M.C.           No. 2 Company.
     2nd Lieut. W. H. S. Roper                     ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. J. Chapman                         ”       ”
     Lieut. J. C. D. Tetley                       No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. N. Thornhill                           ”       ”
     Lieut. the Hon. H. E. Eaton                   ”       ”
     Capt. G. F. R. Hirst                         No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. F. J. Heasman                          ”       ”
     Lieut. J. F. Worsley                          ”       ”
     Lieut. H. Dearden, R.A.M.C.                  Medical Officer.
     Capt. the Rev. S. Phillimore                 Chaplain.

Patrols which had been sent out by the leading Battalion reported the
ground in front to be wet and boggy, but passable. Lieut.-Colonel
Thorne sent forward guides to make themselves thoroughly acquainted
with the assembly position, so that they might lead the Battalion to
its destination without delay. This comparatively simple task was not
without danger, and when Second Lieutenant Greenhill, who was in
charge of the guides, met the Battalion at Wood 15, his party had
already suffered six casualties. At 5.20 A.M. the attack commenced,
and the leading Battalions started off preceded by a barrage. The
Broembeek was crossed without difficulty, and the first objective was
secured according to the scheduled time. The companies in support then
passed through and captured the second objective. The 3rd Battalion
Grenadiers and 1st Battalion Coldstream received instructions not to
cross the Broembeek until the first objective had been secured. They
accordingly waited until 7.30 A.M., and then advanced. On nearing the
second objective the 3rd Battalion deployed with No. 3 Company under
Lieutenant J. C. D. Tetley on the right, and No. 4 Company under
Captain G. Hirst on the left. Nos. 1 and 2 Companies under Captain J.
Craigie and Captain W. H. Beaumont-Nesbitt were in support. The moment
had now arrived for the two rear Battalions to pass through the troops
in front, and attack the third objective. There were, however, some
very strong concrete posts to be disposed of before the third
objective could be reached, and there seemed every prospect of
desperate fighting. The 1st Battalion Coldstream had one particularly
strong post to deal with, and by working round the flanks it succeeded
in effecting its capture. Barring the way of the 3rd Battalion
Grenadiers was a concrete block-house, the garrison of which no doubt
thought it held an impregnable position. Lance-Sergeant Rhodes
determined to silence the fire from this post, and most gallantly
advanced towards it by himself. His bravery was rewarded in an
astonishing manner, for the whole garrison of eight men surrendered to
him under the impression that he was the leading man of a large party.
For this conspicuous act of gallantry Sergeant Rhodes was recommended
for the V.C., the award of which was published on November 27, the day
on which he was mortally wounded in the attack on Fontaine in the
Cambrai offensive.

Nor was this the only notable act of gallantry during the advance, for
Lance-Sergeant Horgan and Lance-Corporal Unsworth, on reaching Suez
Farm, succeeded in capturing two field-guns and fifteen prisoners. The
Germans who took refuge in dug-outs were a constant trouble; in cases
where they surrendered at once, they were simply made prisoners. In
certain instances, however, when they imagined they were stronger than
their captors, some of them tried to fight their way out. In this way
three men of No. 4 Company found a dug-out full of Germans, and there
seemed no reason why they should surrender. The leading men who
emerged from the dug-out, finding their captors only numbered three,
determined to fight, but were instantly killed, and the remainder,
numbering fifteen, were made prisoners.

Thus the third objective was secured. Carrying parties with wire from
No. 1 and No. 2 Companies came up, and consolidation was at once
begun. Two machine-guns were also sent up to be placed at the strong
posts east of Veldhoek Cemetery. In the afternoon the enemy was seen
advancing down the Panama House――Faidherbe road, and they were
dispersed by machine-gun fire.

All through the day the Chaplain, Capt. Phillimore, behaved with great
gallantry, attending to the wounded and encouraging the men during the
advance――quite oblivious of the shells and rifle-fire. When it was
dusk the sad task of burying the dead had to be undertaken, and Capt.
Phillimore stood up with his head uncovered, and read the service.
Although the shells fell unpleasantly close to the burial-ground,
which was in the open, he refused to shorten the service in any way,
and when one of the men silently handed him a helmet, he merely shook
his head, and continued to read the service as if there were no
shells.

During the 10th the 3rd Battalion remained in the line they had
captured. About 4.30 A.M. the Germans put down a heavy barrage on our
line, but no infantry attack developed, and the remainder of the day
was quiet. Before nightfall the Battalion established two strong posts
on the road east of Faidherbe Cross-roads, and that night, relieved by
the 4th Battalion Grenadier Guards, it retired to H Camp.

Lieutenant F. W. R. Greenhill and Lieutenant J. C. D. Tetley were
killed, and Second Lieutenant W. H. S. Roper died of the wounds he
received. Lieutenant N. Thornhill and Lieutenant E. G. A. Fitzgerald
were wounded. Among other ranks there were 13 killed, 61 wounded, 3
missing, and 2 slightly wounded remained at duty.

During the attack the Battalion captured 2 field-guns, 4 machine-guns,
2 trench mortars, and 93 prisoners.


THE 1ST BATTALION

[Sidenote: Oct. 7-13. 1917.]

Although the 1st Battalion took no part in the attack on October 9, it
had a very strenuous time during the preparations. All the men worked
every night for the five nights previous to the attack, and were
employed in forming dumps for the attacking Brigades, and in helping
to get the artillery into their forward positions in the Steenbeek
Valley.

On the 9th the 1st and 4th Battalions Grenadiers and the 1st Battalion
Welsh Guards were assembled in the neighbourhood of Wood 15. The
following officers of the 1st Battalion took part in these operations:

     Lieut.-Colonel M. E. Makgill-Crichton-
       Maitland, D.S.O.                           Commanding Battalion.
     Capt. P. J. S. Pearson-Gregory               Adjutant.
     2nd Lieut. A. S. Chambers                    Intelligence Officer.
     Lieut. D. H. S. Riddiford                    Transport Officer.
     Capt. L. G. Fisher-Rowe, M.C.                King’s Company.
     Lieut. L. de J. Harvard                        ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. V. A. N. Wall                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. J. A. Lloyd                         ”       ”
     Capt. A. T. G. Rhodes                        No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. A. A. Moller                            ”       ”
     Lieut. L. G. Byng                              ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. E. G. Hawkesworth                   ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. R. Hall-Watt                        ”       ”
     Lieut. O. F. Stein                           No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. J. P. Bibby                             ”       ”
     Lieut. P. G. Simmons                           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. F. H. Ennor                         ”       ”
     Lieut. J. F. Tindal-Atkinson                 No. 4 Company.
     2nd Lieut. C. C. Mays                          ”       ”
     Lieut. R. P. le P. Trench, M.C.                ”       ”
     Capt. J. C. B. Grant, R.A.M.C.               Medical Officer.

The attack by De Crespigny’s and Sergison-Brooke’s Brigades was so
successful that the services of Seymour’s Brigade were not required.
Owing to the strenuous work of the previous nights the men were
exhausted, and would have been glad of some rest, but the bad weather,
wet ground, and constant shelling made their position far from
comfortable. The German prisoners taken were employed in carrying the
wounded, but they were not sufficient for the purpose, and 100 men of
the 1st Battalion were told off to assist. Had it not been for this
impromptu assistance, the medical arrangements would have broken down
very badly. On the night of the 10th a relief was carried out, which
has an especial interest for the Regiment: by a curious chance the 2nd
and 3rd Battalions of the Grenadiers were relieved in the line by the
1st and 4th Battalions respectively. The line occupied by De
Crespigny’s and Sergison-Brooke’s Brigades was taken over by Seymour’s
Brigade, and the 1st Battalion Grenadiers placed all four Companies in
the front trenches.

The attack of the 9th had carried the Guards Division to its final
objective, but the troops on the right had not been so successful,
with the result that Seymour’s Brigade had taken over a salient more
acute than a right angle, which made the general plan for a further
attack rather awkward. On the evening of the 11th, Nos. 3 and 4
Companies moved up behind the King’s and No. 2 Companies with two
platoons of the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards, which went to Egypt House.
These two platoons had been specially detailed to get in touch with
the 51st Brigade, which had met with so much opposition that it was
unable to advance. During the night the enemy put down a heavy
gas-shell barrage on the front line, and caused a large number of
casualties. On the 12th a further attack was commenced, and the
British barrage proved to be irregular and ragged, in marked contrast
to the excellent barrages of July 31 and October 9. Under this barrage
the 1st Battalion moved up to its objective, which it successfully
captured. Lieutenant J. P. Bibby was killed as he advanced with No. 3
Company, and there were a good many casualties among other ranks.
Unfortunately the Officer Commanding the two platoons of Scots Guards
was killed, and Second Lieutenant L. G. Byng was sent to take his
place.

Although the Battalions from the 51st Brigade reported themselves on
their objectives, the contact patrols which were sent out failed to
find any trace of them. It was afterwards found that this Brigade had
reached its objective, passing over many Germans in doing so, and had
swerved away too far to the right. Early in the morning the 1st
Battalion reported a field-gun in action on the edge of the forest a
few hundred yards in front of it. In response to an appeal for
assistance, our artillery applied destructive fire to the spot
indicated, and put down a box barrage to enable the patrols to go
forward and destroy the gun, but owing to the hostile sniping this was
impossible. On the night of the 12th the Battalion succeeded in
clearing up the situation on the right, and getting in touch with the
51st Brigade. The following day it was relieved by De Crespigny’s
Brigade, which now took over the line. During the relief Second
Lieutenant R. Hall-Watt was killed, and Captain Rhodes was wounded,
but remained at duty. The casualties among other ranks were 36 killed
and 200 wounded or missing.


THE 4TH BATTALION

[Sidenote: Oct. 7-13.]

For two days previous to the 7th, the 4th Battalion had been working
in the trenches in the front line and carrying up material to the
dumps. On the night of the 6th a large fatigue party under Lieutenant
Nash had worked for six hours with water and mud up to their waists,
endeavouring to lay mat crossings over the marsh. The following day
Lord Gort took round representatives of the 1st Guards Brigade, which
was to use these mats during the attack, and showed them the positions
of the bridges which had been made. Unfortunately in the early morning
many of them had been destroyed, and Lieutenant Nash was again at work
repairing them and relaying others. On the night of the 7th the 4th
Battalion was relieved, and retired to Dulwich Camp near Bluet Farm.
The following officers took part in the operations from the 9th to the
12th October:

     Lieut.-Colonel Viscount Gort, D.S.O.,
       M.V.O., M.C.                               Commanding Officer.
     Capt. G. C. Sloane-Stanley                   Adjutant.
     Lieut. M. Chapman                            Intelligence Officer.
     Capt. J. N. F. Pixley                        No. 1 Company.
     2nd Lieut. E. H. Tuckwell                     ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. T. T. Pryce, M.C.                 No. 2 Company.
     2nd Lieut. R. C. Denman                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. W. Windeler                     ”       ”
     Capt. J. B. M. Burke                         No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. C. S. Nash                             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. D. J. Knight                       ”       ”
     Lieut. H. H. Sloane-Stanley                  No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. E. B. D. Hoare                         ”       ”
     Lieut. N. R. Abbey                            ”       ”
     Capt. N. Grellier, M.C., R.A.M.C.            Medical Officer.

On the 9th Seymour’s Brigade was not called upon to fight, and after
reaching Wood 15 remained in shell-holes and abandoned gun-pits.
Lieutenant Ingleby, the acting Quartermaster, brought up hot soup in
the morning, and bivouac sheets were given to the men to protect them
from the rain which now came down heavily. On October 10 the 3rd
Brigade was sent up to take over the whole line, and relieve the other
two Guards Brigades. The 4th Battalion was to be in the centre, with
the 1st Battalion Grenadiers on the right, the 1st Battalion Welsh
Guards on the left, and the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards in reserve.
Lieut.-Colonel Lord Gort and Lieut.-Colonel Maitland went up to
ascertain the exact positions their Battalions were to take up, and as
there seemed a good deal of uncertainty about the position on the
right, the Brigade-Major suggested they should wait until the contact
aeroplane had dropped its report. This would have entailed some delay,
and the Commanding Officers decided to bring up their Battalions at
once to Vee Bend. In order to ensure the close co-operation of the 1st
and 4th Battalions, it was agreed to have one Headquarters for both
Battalions. On arrival in the front line, No. 3 Company under Captain
Burke, and No. 2 under Second Lieutenant Pryce, were placed in the
front line with the remainder in reserve. The relief was arduous, as
the ground was a mass of shell-holes full of water, with the sides
slipping and crumbling. On the 11th detailed orders for the attacks on
the next day were issued, and the position of the enemy was carefully
studied. In the morning German aircraft came over flying at 300 feet:
the pilots were clearly visible leaning over the edge of their
fuselages, and dropping Véry lights on to the trenches to indicate
them to their artillery. They were received with a fusillade of
Lewis-gun and rifle fire, and No. 3 Company succeeded in bringing one
down in flames at the southern end of Houthulst Forest; but the
enemy’s artillery had received sufficient information to shell the
front trenches with considerable accuracy, and shells began to fall in
large numbers. That night a good deal of difficulty was experienced in
bringing up the rations, for it was extremely dark and the mud on the
sand-bags made it almost impossible to distinguish the marking. No. 4
Company under Lieutenant H. H. Sloane-Stanley were told off for this
task, and worked very hard under great difficulties. Sergeant Billings
of No. 3 Company, observing an enemy patrol approaching our lines, ran
out and captured the officer and his orderly, from whom much valuable
information and some maps were secured.

At 5.25 A.M. on October 12 the attack was launched. The task allotted
to Seymour’s Brigade was small compared with that of the troops on the
right, as the direction of the advance of the Division was half left.
Nos. 2 and 3 Companies under Second Lieutenant Pryce and Captain Burke
consolidated their positions on the new objective during the previous
night, although No. 3 Company had to withdraw to its original line at
daybreak, as it was in the direct line of the creeping barrage. The
Welsh Guards on the left remained stationary while the forward
movement was being made on the right, and No. 3 Company of the 4th
Battalion had only to go about 100 yards, so that these units were in
position before zero hour. The object of the attack was to bring the
whole line to within 150 yards of Houthulst Forest. As soon as our
barrage came down, two platoons of No. 3 under Lieutenant Nash
advanced and captured their objective with comparative ease, while two
platoons from No. 1 Company occupied the old front line in close
support. Not long afterwards Lieutenant Pryce reported that his two
platoons had also reached their destination. The whole advance had
been attended with but few casualties, as the enemy offered very
little opposition. While coming up to inspect his two front platoons,
Captain Pixley was killed by snipers, who had been left behind when
the enemy retired to harass the advance. Any movement immediately drew
the fire of these snipers, and after some of them had been located and
killed it was easier to move about. About 11.30 A.M. the enemy’s
barrage died down, and as there were no signs of any counter-attack,
the rest of the day was spent in consolidating the position and in
attending to the wounded. Two patrols were sent out into the fringes
of Houthulst Forest, and returned with reports of the enemy’s defences
and the condition of the ground, obtained from some prisoners they
captured. Since it was clear that the enemy knew the range of the
taped tracks, repeated hits having been registered on it, a party was
detailed to lay out a new course on the 13th. The construction of this
course was fully justified later by the absence of casualties when the
Battalion was relieved. Including the two days in bivouacs on the east
side of the canal, the Battalion had spent seven days in the open,
exposed to the rain, and lying on waterlogged ground with little or no
shelter.

The total casualties in the Battalion were 20 killed, 4 missing, and
64 wounded. On the night of the 13th the Battalion was relieved, and
travelled by train from Boesinghe to Ondank Station, where it went
into billets at De Wippe Corner.



CHAPTER XXVI

CAMBRAI AND GOUZEAUCOURT

_Diary of the War, October, November, December 1917_


Successful operations were carried out by Field-Marshal Sir Douglas
Haig in front of the Passchendaele Ridge at the beginning of October,
when a large number of prisoners were captured, and, in spite of
repeated counter-attacks by the Germans, the British forced their way
to Houthulst Forest. The French made a successful advance on the Aisne
front across the Soissons――Laon road, and penetrated the German line
in several places. At the beginning of November the Germans retreated
from the Chemin des Dames, and were closely followed by the French.

Sir Julian Byng with the Third Army gained a remarkable victory in the
direction of Cambrai, and penetrated the Siegfried line. Farther
advances were made, until the whole of the Bourlon Wood fell into the
hands of the British, but the Germans attempted an encircling
movement, to cut off the troops in the salient that had been created,
and forced back the British line at Gonnelieu and Bourlon. After some
very heavy fighting Sir Julian Byng was able to bring up
reinforcements, and restore the line.

In Italy the Austrians, reinforced by some German divisions, gained a
decisive victory over the Italians, and advanced far into Italy. So
serious was the situation that the Allied War Council decided to send
British and French Divisions to the aid of the Italians. The Italians
continued to retreat until they reached the Piave, and at one time
Venice seemed threatened, but eventually the Italian resistance
stiffened, and the Austrian invasion was checked.

In Palestine, after a series of brilliant operations, General Sir E.
Allenby captured Jerusalem.

From Mesopotamia came the sad news of the death of General Sir Stanley
Maude from cholera, and the appointment of General Sir W. R. Marshall
as his successor.


CAMBRAI AND GOUZEAUCOURT

[Sidenote: Nov.]

In November Sir Douglas Haig determined to take advantage of the
concentration of the enemy’s forces on other parts of the line, to
carry out a surprise attack in the direction of Cambrai, and to
penetrate as far as possible into the German lines, with a view to
dislocate one of the enemy’s nerve centres. In his despatch he makes
it clear that the capture of Cambrai itself was a secondary
consideration, and that his main object was to secure the right flank
of the principal objective north-east of Bourlon.

Sir Julian Byng, to whom these operations were entrusted, received
instructions to dispense with artillery preparation, and to depend
entirely on the tanks, to cut through the enemy’s wire. This was an
entirely new departure. Hitherto it had been generally admitted by
both sides that no infantry attack could possibly succeed, without an
artillery preparation and a creeping barrage, and it remained to be
seen whether the absence of all artillery support would be compensated
for by the tanks, and by the undoubted advantage of attacking without
giving the enemy any warning. With the utmost secrecy Sir Julian Byng
assembled flotillas of tanks, and hid them in the woods.

The attack started on November 20, and succeeded beyond all
expectations, for not only was the Siegfried line pierced to a depth
of six miles, but over 10,000 prisoners and 142 guns were taken. The
capture of Bourlon Wood was successfully effected, but the Germans
soon recovered from their surprise, and commenced to bring up
reinforcements, with the result that the Guards Division on attempting
a farther advance on Fontaine found the enemy in great strength.

The ground that had been gained during the British advance formed an
awkward salient about ten miles in width and six miles in depth, and
the problem that confronted Sir Douglas Haig was whether to continue
the advance or to withdraw. After weighing the various considerations
involved, he came to the conclusion that it would be best to advance.
On the enemy’s side the Germans were at first rather staggered at
finding that their impenetrable Siegfried line had been pierced, but
Ludendorff determined to take advantage of the situation that had been
created, and to strike on each side of the salient with a view to
cutting off the troops in front.

On November 30, after a severe bombardment with gas shells, the
Germans advanced under cover of the morning mist, and surprised our
men in the trenches. From Bonavis to Gonnelieu, the Germans pushed
through masses of men, and succeeded in capturing a large number of
prisoners, although their attacks between Mœuvres and the Scheldt
Canal were not so successful. The situation was extremely critical,
and at one time it seemed that the enemy would succeed in cutting off
all the British troops in the salient. They would undoubtedly have
done so, had it not been for the gallant stand made by the
Twenty-ninth Division at Masnières. This enabled Sir Julian Byng to
bring up reinforcements, and the Guards Division was thrown in to stop
the rush. The British troops retook the St. Quentin Ridge, and entered
Gonnelieu and Gauche Wood; but meanwhile the position at Masnières had
become precarious, and the Twenty-ninth Division was ordered to
withdraw. Although the situation was saved, Sir Julian Byng saw that
he must either retake Bonavis Ridge, or else withdraw to the
Flesquières line. The latter course was considered best under the
circumstances, and accordingly the shortening of the line commenced on
December 4.


_Divisional Account_

After the successful operations in October the Guards Division had a
month’s rest. On November 9 the move southward began, although the
eventual destination was not known, and many days were spent in long
marches. On the 11th Major-General Feilding was informed of the
proposal to attack Cambrai, but was warned that the success of the
whole operation depended on its being kept a profound secret. The
Guards Division was to move by easy stages to that area, marching
invariably by night, and the eventual attack was to depend on the
result of the operations then in progress in Bourlon Wood. If they
were successful, the Guards Division was to advance on Cambrai, but if
not, the attack was to be altered to a raid on a large scale.
Major-General Feilding confidentially informed his Brigadiers and
Commanding Officers of the impending attack, but in order that some
ostensible reason might be given for these continual marches, he told
them to announce that the Division was on its way to relieve the
French. It was, however, necessary to account for the order to leave
the kits behind, as this was generally associated in the men’s minds
with an impending attack. It was consequently announced that, on
account of the lack of accommodation in the part of the French line to
which the Division was going, the kits must be stored. It was
generally believed that these orders were also due to the transfer of
large forces to Italy and the consequent dearth of transport.

It was not until the 23rd that the Guards Division reached the
neighbourhood of Flesquières, and De Crespigny’s and Seymour’s
Brigades were sent up to relieve two Brigades of the Fifty-first
Division. This was a very long day for the men, involving a march of
over fifteen miles across an unknown country in the dark, and it was
far more difficult to find the way than it need have been, because the
positions of the Brigade and Divisional Headquarters were incorrectly
given by the Corps Staff. The cavalry, to be employed in certain
eventualities, stood about in large numbers, and blocked the road, but
eventually the relief was successfully accomplished. The Divisional
front extended from the south-eastern outskirts of Cantaing to the
north-eastern corner of Bourlon Wood, and was supported by four
Brigades of R.F.A. and two of Guards Divisional Artillery.

[Sidenote: Nov. 24.]

Although the situation remained unchanged during the 24th, the
Fortieth Division, on the left, had some severe fighting in Bourlon
Wood. The same night General Feilding placed the 2nd Battalion Scots
Guards under the orders of General Ponsonby, commanding the Fortieth
Division, and sent them up to reinforce General Crozier’s 119th
Brigade, which was hard pressed. This Battalion moved up to the
south-east corner of Bourlon Wood, where it received orders to clear
the wood of the enemy. This attack, which started at 2 P.M., had the
effect of advancing the line some distance.

[Sidenote: Nov. 25.]

Meanwhile the 4th Battalion Grenadiers, which had taken the place of
the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards, received orders on the 25th to move up
in support of the Fortieth Division. This meant that it had to advance
in full view of the Germans, who at once put down a heavy barrage in
front of it. With the utmost coolness and steadiness the 4th Battalion
advanced through this barrage as if it was on parade, and earned
special praise from General Ponsonby. Though the 4th Battalion moved
up into close support in Bourlon Wood, its services were not needed,
as the Fortieth Division had secured all its objectives.

[Sidenote: Nov. 26.]

Next day General Feilding held a conference of Brigadiers, and
discussed in detail the plan of attack on Fontaine, which was to be
carried out by General Sergison-Brooke’s Brigade. The general scheme
did not appear to offer much prospect of success, since the whole
country between Bourlon Wood and Flesquières was overlooked by the
enemy, whose guns were posted on the ridges, west of Cambrai, north of
Bourlon Wood, and east of the Canal. The Germans would therefore be
able not only to concentrate their fire on Fontaine but to sweep the
back areas where our reserves would be massed. Major-General Feilding
had already pointed out that, unless these ridges were captured, it
would be quite impossible for any troops to remain in Fontaine. He had
only six available Battalions, and the line was 3800 yards in length,
so that it was expecting a great deal of half a division to attack a
position so strongly held. The Higher Command, in spite of these
weighty arguments, however, decided to attempt the experiment. The
attack was to be undertaken by the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers, 1st
Battalion Coldstream, and 2nd Battalion Irish Guards, while the 1st
Battalion Scots Guards was to hold the right of the line.


ATTACK ON FONTAINE

[Sidenote: Nov. 27.]

It was 6.20 on the morning of the 27th that the attack started. As the
tanks were late in crossing the line, the infantry did not wait for
them. Advancing with the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers on the right, the
1st Battalion Coldstream in the centre, and the 2nd Battalion Irish
Guards on the left, the force at once came under heavy machine-gun
fire. All the ground on the way to the first objective――approximately
1000 yards off――was covered with houses, which were practically
untouched by shell-fire, and afforded cover to the enemy’s
machine-guns. Moreover, our artillery were not allowed to shell
Cambrai. But in spite of innumerable difficulties the three Battalions
went gallantly forward, and captured the first objective by 8.30 A.M.

The casualties, however, were very heavy, and so weakened the
attackers, that they had not enough men properly to “mop up” the
houses in the village and the dug-outs north of it. The tanks, which
had been detailed to move round the outskirts of Fontaine, were
knocked out almost at once, but one or two that later went through the
village itself were of great assistance in clearing the streets.
Everywhere the enemy were in large numbers, and though at one time
over 1000 prisoners had been taken, only 600 eventually reached the
Divisional cage, owing partly to the small numbers available for
escort, and partly to the incomplete “mopping-up.” Just the same
difficulty confronted the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards, which had to go
through Bourlon Wood, lost many prisoners in the thick undergrowth,
and on reaching the northern edge of the wood, came in for a deluge of
shells from the enemy’s artillery.

When General Sergison-Brooke received the report that the first
objective had been secured, and that the Battalions had been greatly
weakened, he sent word to Lord Gort, in command of the 4th Battalion
Grenadiers, to move forward in support. One company was to support the
3rd Battalion Grenadiers, and two others the 1st Battalion Coldstream,
while the remaining company was to watch the left flank of the 2nd
Irish Guards. At the same time he asked that the 1st Welsh Guards from
General Seymour’s Brigade might be lent to him. This was immediately
done.

In the meantime the Germans had developed very strong counter-attacks
against the Irish Guards in Bourlon Wood, and, finding there was a gap
between that Battalion and the 1st Battalion Coldstream, endeavoured
to drive in a wedge. In their endeavours to close this gap the
Coldstream only succeeded in creating another gap between them and the
Grenadiers. The result was that the Irish Guards at the north edge of
Bourlon Wood were completely cut off, and there seemed every prospect
of the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers in Fontaine and the 1st Battalion
Coldstream on the left being cut off too. The 3rd Battalion
Grenadiers’ casualties amounted to well over half of its attacking
strength, including nine officers out of twelve killed and wounded. It
was now seen that the enemy had brought up large masses of troops, and
were attacking vigorously on the whole front. General Sergison-Brooke
therefore gave orders for all three Battalions to withdraw to the line
from which they started.

Such a move was most disappointing to the men who had reached the
first objective, but in the circumstances there seemed no other
alternative. The enemy continued to throw in more men, and once more
the fighting became very fierce, but though our depleted Battalions
were unable to maintain their hold on Fontaine, the enemy found it
equally impossible to advance or make any impression on the line.
Under cover of darkness the 1st Battalion Grenadiers and the 1st
Battalion Welsh Guards took over the line that evening, and
Sergison-Brooke’s Brigade withdrew to La Justice, while the 4th
Battalion Grenadiers retired to Flesquières.

This was the first real failure the Guards Division had. In part it
was due to the enemy having masses of men available for the
counter-attack, but there was also a notable lack on our side of any
reinforcements at the critical moment, which was attributed at the
time to the faulty arrangements of the Corps Staff.

On hearing of the heavy casualties suffered by the Guards Division,
the Twenty-seventh Corps sent up two Brigades of the Fifty-ninth
Division, but they had a considerable distance to cover, and there was
no hope of their reaching the line that night. Consequently they were
sent to Ribecourt and Trescault, while De Crespigny’s Brigade was
moved from Ribecourt to Metz. Fortunately, the night of the 27th was
fairly quiet, and these movements were carried out without much
difficulty.

[Sidenote: Nov. 28.]

A day without any incident worth recording followed, and on November
29 the Fifty-ninth Division took over the whole area. The Guards
Division was disposed as follows: the Divisional Artillery at
Flesquières, the Royal Engineers at Trescault, De Crespigny’s Brigade
at Metz, Sergison-Brooke’s Brigade at Ribecourt, and Seymour’s Brigade
at Trescault. After a hard week in the line they were now to rest, and
retire by easy stages to billets.

[Sidenote: Nov. 30.]

Suddenly a telegram arrived announcing that the Germans had broken
through our line, and the whole Division was ordered to be ready to
move at a moment’s notice. Then came a stream of orders, conveying
instructions for different Brigades to be placed under different
Corps, that followed one another with bewildering rapidity, only to be
countermanded the next moment. Finally the whole Division was placed
under the Third Corps, and General Feilding motored off to get
instructions.

Information was now received that the enemy were holding the line
Villers Plouich――Gouzeaucourt, and as De Crespigny’s Brigade was
already marching on the latter place, orders were sent to divert
Seymour’s Brigade, which was moving south, and bring it up on the left
of De Crespigny’s forces.

Meanwhile General de Crespigny determined to ascertain for himself the
exact situation in front of his Brigade, for the roads were all
blocked with retiring troops, and all sorts of rumours had reached
him. So off he rode at full gallop in the direction of the enemy.
Having crossed the open, he came in view of Gouzeaucourt, and there
saw the Germans making preparations for a farther advance. He quickly
returned to his Brigade, and at once gave orders to attack. All the
four Commanding Officers had also ridden ahead of their Battalions, to
see for themselves what the ground was like; and so it came about that
this Brigade, which a few hours before had been resting and preparing
to retire, were now going forward to the attack, as if they had had
plenty of notice. The advance of De Crespigny’s Brigade in perfect
formation through all the stragglers and despite the general disaster
was a splendid and heartening sight, which restored confidence to all
the army in that area.


GOUZEAUCOURT

The ground consisted of undulating downs gradually descending from
Gouzeaucourt Wood, which occupied a commanding position, to the
village of Gouzeaucourt, and thence rising more steeply towards Gauche
Wood and Gonnelieu. One great disadvantage Major-General Feilding had
to contend with was the total absence of artillery support. The guns
had been left in the line at Flesquières, and it was impossible for
them to reach the Guards Division until 7 o’clock that evening. The
attack had therefore to be launched entirely unsupported by artillery,
and had there been any guns there was no Artillery Divisional
Commander or Artillery Staff. When they did eventually come into
action, they were too doubtful about the situation in front to be of
any real assistance.

About noon the head of the Brigade reached Gouzeaucourt Wood, and as
they arrived the Battalions formed up for attack. The 1st Battalion
Irish Guards were on the left, with their right on the Metz-Gouzeaucourt
road; the 3rd Battalion Coldstream in the centre, with their left on
this road, and the 2nd Battalion Coldstream on the right; the 2nd
Battalion Grenadiers were in reserve in Gouzeaucourt Wood. Each
Battalion assumed artillery formation, with two companies in front and
two in support, and was responsible for 500 yards of frontage. There
was no time for written orders, and all instructions were given by
word of mouth.

At 12.30 the attack was launched, and, as soon as the leading troops
appeared on the crest of the hill, they came under heavy machine-gun
fire. No very striking incident marked the initial stages of the
attack, but when the leading Battalions came within 1000 yards of
Gouzeaucourt they found a few men of the Royal Engineers and some
remnants of the Twenty-ninth Division still holding on to a trench.
Later on the 20th Hussars (dismounted) came up on the right of the 2nd
Battalion Coldstream, and prolonged the line to the right. During the
descent of the slope towards the village, the machine-gun fire became
intense, but it never even checked the attacking Battalions, who swept
on down the hill and up again to the far side of the village. When
they reached the rise immediately east of the village, the shells from
the enemy’s artillery on St. Quentin’s Ridge raked them at very close
range, but in spite of this the whole objective, including the
village, was captured by 1.30 P.M.

General de Crespigny now found that his left flank was in the air, but
the Cavalry Corps sent up a regiment to fill the gap, and touch was
subsequently gained with the 4th Battalion Grenadiers in Seymour’s
Brigade. Soon after a cavalry regiment on the right came into action
mounted, and made a gallant attempt to turn the enemy’s left flank,
but was stopped by wire and machine-gun fire. The tanks came up on the
right, but directly they were seen by the enemy four of them were put
out of action. With great promptitude the crews got their Lewis guns
out and joined the 2nd Battalion Coldstream. It was now beginning to
get dark, and the battle died down. During the day about 100 prisoners
were captured, besides a number of machine-guns, and many British
howitzers were recovered. Two supply trains were found at Gouzeaucourt
station untouched.

While De Crespigny’s Brigade was taking Gouzeaucourt, Seymour’s
Brigade, which had come into the field with equal rapidity, was
ordered to prolong the line to the right. But this order was
subsequently cancelled, and they were told instead to hold the line
Gouzeaucourt――Villers Plouich. Moving off in artillery formation, they
advanced between Gouzeaucourt Wood and Havrincourt Wood, and lined the
railway line between Gouzeaucourt and Villers Plouich.

At this juncture General Feilding received orders to continue his
advance, and attack the ridge running from Gonnelieu through Gauche
Wood to Villers Hill. To General de Crespigny he entrusted the attack
on Gauche Wood, and to General Lord Henry Seymour the capture of
Gonnelieu. Lieut.-Colonel the Hon. Claud Willoughby, in charge of the
tanks, had been kept at Divisional Headquarters in anticipation of an
attack, and so only verbal orders for their assembly direct to him
were needed. The tanks were to precede the infantry, while the
Divisional artillery put down a heavy barrage. The Fifty-ninth
Division were assigned to the left, and the Cavalry Division to the
right. The whole attack was only to take place if the Twentieth
Division failed, and it was not till 2.45 A.M. that the failure was
announced.


CAPTURE OF GAUCHE WOOD

[Sidenote: Dec. 1.]

The orders originally sent to the Division were to attack the line
from Gonnelieu to Gauche Wood (exclusive) but Major-General Feilding
quickly realised that until Gauche Wood was taken, there was small
prospect of success for the attack on the left. When the cavalry did
not appear on the left, he instructed General de Crespigny to make
Gauche Wood inclusive.

In De Crespigny’s Brigade the 2nd Battalion Grenadiers and the 3rd
Battalion Coldstream on the right and left respectively started off.
But the tanks which were to have operated on the right of the Brigade
were late, as well as the cavalry that should have joined in the
attack. After waiting ten minutes in vain for the tanks,
Lieut.-Colonel Rasch attacked without them. The tanks detailed to the
left of the Brigade arrived just in time, and were of the greatest
possible assistance; in fact, it is doubtful whether the ridge could
ever have been taken without their help. However, the 2nd Battalion
Grenadiers reached the wood without any tanks to help them, apparently
because the enemy’s machine-guns were aimed too high.

Immediately the wood was reached two counter-attacks were launched by
the enemy, but a company from the 2nd Battalion Grenadiers, which had
gone out to protect the right flank of the Battalion, quickly disposed
of them. After much fighting the whole wood was eventually cleared of
the enemy, but the thickness of the trees gave the enemy’s snipers a
good opportunity of picking off our officers and N.C.O.’s, and the
casualties among them were very heavy. When the tanks on the right
came up, they were of little use in the wood, and as they appeared to
attract the enemy’s shells from all sides, they eventually retired.
Although the cavalry on the right were over an hour late, when they
did arrive they not only reinforced the men in the wood, but made the
right flank of the Brigade quite secure. There was some difficulty in
maintaining touch between the two Brigades, and a company of the 1st
Battalion Irish Guards at one time had to be sent up to fill the gap.
During this attack over 300 prisoners were captured, in addition to 3
field-guns and nearly 100 machine-guns, which had been packed, ready
for removal, near the railway-station.


ATTACK ON GONNELIEU

Seymour’s Brigade meanwhile attempted the more difficult task of
taking Gonnelieu and Quentin. There should have been a large number of
tanks to help, but at the last moment only nine could be procured.
Most of these arrived too late, but one that was working in
conjunction with the Welsh Guards was of great assistance, and was
largely responsible for clearing a trench held by machine-guns. The
1st Battalion Welsh Guards on the right and the 4th Battalion
Grenadiers began the advance, but were at once met by heavy
machine-gun fire――so intense was it that progress on the right was
completely arrested, until a tank saved the situation.

It seemed almost impossible to take this village without the aid of
artillery, as there were machine-guns bristling from every building,
and since the Twentieth Division had failed there appeared to be but
small hope of this second attempt succeeding. Yet so determined and
persistent was the onslaught of the 4th Battalion Grenadiers that
isolated parties managed to penetrate into the village. But this was
not enough to silence the enemy’s machine-guns, and soon it became
clear that all we could do was to hold the line 200 yards from the
western edge of the village. On the left of the line two Companies of
the 1st Battalion Grenadiers were sent up to strengthen that flank.

That night the position was as follows: the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards
was established on the high ground on the right, in touch with De
Crespigny’s Brigade; the 4th Battalion Grenadiers, reinforced by two
Companies of the 1st Battalion, held the line west of Gonnelieu, with
its left in touch with the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards, who were
covering Villers Plouich. Through the failure of the 183rd Brigade to
arrive in time for the relief on the night of December 1, the men in
the front line, who had had very heavy fighting, were obliged to
remain where they were for another twenty-four hours. Next day the
relief was carried out, and on the 3rd De Crespigny’s Brigade took
over the line.

[Sidenote: Dec. 5.]

Two bombing attacks were made by the enemy on the front line on the
morning of the 5th, and at one time they gained a foothold in our
trenches, but a prompt counter-attack by the 1st Battalion Irish
Guards soon re-established the line. On that night De Crespigny’s
Brigade was relieved by the 26th Infantry Brigade.

The casualties in the Guards Division between November 25 and December
5 were:

                                        Officers.       O.R.
     1st Guards Brigade (De Crespigny)      44          820
     2nd Guards Brigade (Brooke)            40         1136
     3rd Guards Brigade (Seymour)           34          928
     Divisional Artillery                    4           49
     Royal Engineers                         2           10
     R.A.M.C.                                1           19
     4th Guards Machine-Gun Company         --            4
                                           ---         ----
         Total                             125         2966

On December 5 Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig telegraphed:

     I desire to congratulate the Guards Division most warmly on
     their fine counter-attacks at Gouzeaucourt and Gonnelieu.
     The promptness of decision and rapidity of action displayed
     by them were successful in dealing with a difficult
     situation.

Lieut.-General Sir W. Pulteney sent the following message:

     The Corps Commander wishes to express to all ranks of the
     Guards Division his high appreciation of the prompt manner
     in which they turned out on 30th November, counter-attacked
     through a disorganised rabble, and retook Gouzeaucourt. The
     very fine attack which they subsequently carried out against
     Quentin Ridge and Gauche Wood, resulting in the capture of
     these important positions, was worthy of the highest
     traditions of the Guards.


THE 4TH BATTALION

[Sidenote: Oct.]

[Sidenote: Nov. 9.]

On October 20 the 4th Battalion left the Houthulst Forest area, and
went into billets at Le Marais, where the men were comfortably housed.
There it remained until November 9, when the march to the south
through Fiefs to Averdoingt was commenced. On November 2 Captain C. R.
Britten, Lieut. L. R. Abel-Smith, and Lieut. the Hon. A. H. L.
Hardinge joined. The village of Averdoingt proved too small for the
whole Battalion, and one Company went to La Neuville Planquette, while
another was billeted at the Le Haut Barlet Farm.

The transport had been very much reduced, owing, it was said, to the
despatch of British Divisions to Italy, and an order was issued
restricting the officer’s kit to a minimum of 40 lb., including the
valise. But, as the officers never saw their kit after November 23,
these regulations made very little difference. Officers and men lived
out in the open, exposed to rain and frost, without any change of
uniform or underclothes.

[Sidenote: Nov. 17.]

On the 17th the march was continued through Ivergny, Bienvilliers-au-Bois
to Achiet-le-Petit, which the Battalion reached on the 20th. There the
news was received that the forward movement of the British Army had
resulted in a considerable gain of territory, and that the Division
was now to continue the advance. Lord Gort sent for the Company
Commanders, and explained the details of the operations, which were to
take place the following days, giving a sketch of the part to be
played by the Guards Division. There was still some distance to go
before our men reached the area of operations, and in order to avoid
aerial observation the advance was continued by night. The whole
Brigade moved in buses through Bapaume and Le Transloy to Rocquigny,
and reached Baumetz-les-Cambrai on the 23rd.

The following officers took part in the operations of November 24-28:

     Lieut.-Colonel Viscount Gort, D.S.O.,
       M.V.O., M.C.                               Commanding Officer.
     Capt. C. R. Gerard                           Adjutant.
     Capt. M. Chapman                             Intelligence Officer.
     2nd Lieut. N. A. Pearce                      Transport Officer.
     Capt. H. H. Sloane-Stanley                   No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. C. E. Irby                             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. E. H. Tuckwell                     ”       ”
     Capt. C. R. Britten, M.C.                    No. 2 Company.
     2nd Lieut. R. C. Denman                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. W. Windeler                     ”       ”
     Lieut. C. S. Nash, M.C.                      No. 3 Company.
     2nd Lieut. F. R. Oliver                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. G. W. Selby-Lowndes                ”       ”
     Capt. G. H. T. Paton, M.C.                   No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. E. R. D. Hoare                         ”       ”
     Lieut. L. R. Abel-Smith                       ”       ”
     Capt. N. Grellier, M.C., R.A.M.C.            Medical Officer.

[Sidenote: Nov. 23.]

The march to Flesquières was very trying, and the whole Brigade had
some difficulty in finding the way in the dark. Owing to the constant
checks and hesitation, which betrayed the uncertainty of the leaders
as to the direction, there were brief halts, not long enough even to
allow the men to sit down, then sudden rushes followed again by abrupt
halts, and so on for several hours. As a bridge had been blown up by
the enemy, the 4th Battalion was forced to go some distance out of its
way through Graincourt, which was within 100 yards of the outpost
line. Flesquières itself was occupied by the 1st Battalion Grenadiers,
and the 4th Battalion was billeted just outside the village, in a
portion of the famous Hindenburg line, which the Germans had
considered impregnable!

Perfectly drained and dry underfoot, the trenches were 15 feet wide
and 10 feet deep. The men’s quarters were in dug-outs constructed with
massive wooden beams and reinforced concrete, and were fitted with
tiers of beds. The communication trenches were perfectly camouflaged
with rabbit-wire and boughs, so strongly staked to the side that a man
with full equipment could safely use the wire as a bridge. The belt of
wire in front of the trenches was 100 yards wide in places, and seemed
untouched by shell-fire. The effect of the attack by the tanks was
clearly visible, for great rides had been made through the wire, and a
number of bodies crushed out of all human semblance lay across the
tracks, while groups of dead Germans, killed in the act of flight, lay
scattered about between the trenches and the village. The trenches
were full of German equipment, abandoned in the panic, and two
valuable periscopic observation sets were found by the 4th Battalion,
and forwarded to General Headquarters.

The labour entailed in digging this stupendous work, which may fairly
be compared in conception and execution to the great Chinese Wall, was
clearly beyond the powers of any army actively engaged, however high
might have been its discipline and capacity for work. But the problem
of how this wonderful result had been achieved was solved when a
notice-board was discovered on which was printed “For Russian
Prisoners Only.”


BOURLON WOOD

[Sidenote: Nov. 24.]

On the morning of the 24th, a cold, wet day, with a gale blowing, a
warning order arrived, instructing the 4th Battalion to move to the
neighbourhood of Bourlon Wood. Later this order was cancelled, and the
Battalion was told to take over from the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards
the position north of Flesquières. It moved into its new position that
night, and by midnight the relief was complete. The Battalion
Headquarters were in a dug-out, cut out of the solid chalk, and formed
a good example of the comfort and luxury in which the Germans had been
living. The former occupant of this palatial abode had provided
himself with a wardrobe, looking-glass, and other luxuries, and had
actually arranged a number of flowering shrubs in pots at the entrance
to improve its appearance.

[Sidenote: Nov. 25.]

Early next day the 4th Battalion was placed under the orders of the
119th Infantry Brigade, and was sent up to relieve the 2nd Battalion
Scots Guards in Bourlon Wood. The Fortieth Division were engaged in
the difficult task of capturing Bourlon Wood, and both these
Battalions had been lent to Major-General Ponsonby. While Lord Gort
went off to Graincourt to report to his new Brigadier, Captain Chapman
proceeded with the Intelligence Party to Anneux chapel, to reconnoitre
the position to be occupied by the Battalion and the route it was to
follow.

By now the Germans had begun to recover from the defeat inflicted on
them, and were bringing up a number of guns to bear on our position.
Bourlon Wood and Anneux chapel were subjected to a severe shelling,
and the 119th Brigade suffered very heavy casualties. The Intelligence
Party had been ordered by Colonel Benzie, commanding the forward area
round Anneux chapel, to remain in the sunken roads, and were therefore
protected from shell-fire; but, when they returned by the road which
had been selected for the 4th Battalion to march by, they came in for
a certain amount of shelling and lost 2 men, while Captain Chapman
himself was slightly wounded. It seemed perfectly clear that, if a
small party could be seen by the enemy from Fontaine, a whole
battalion would necessarily offer a tempting target to the German
artillery. Captain Chapman therefore decided to alter the route, and
approach Anneux chapel by another road, leaving Graincourt on the
right.

Meanwhile the 4th Battalion, with No. 4 Company under Captain Paton
leading, waited in the position held on the previous night, south of
La Justice, along the southern edge of the Graincourt――Marcoing road,
until the Intelligence Party returned, and then advanced by the new
road that had been chosen. For the first 200 yards nothing happened,
and then suddenly the enemy put down a heavy barrage across the line
of advance. No doubt he imagined that his barrage would effectually
prevent any troops coming up; in practice it proved a perfectly
useless barrier, for the Battalion took not the slightest notice of
it. There was about half a mile to be crossed, on which the shells
continually fell, and the Battalion did not even check its pace.

Assuming artillery formation, it went straight through the barrage.
Spouts of earth sprang up at the men’s feet as if by magic, and the
noise was deafening, but they plodded on. So steady was the behaviour
of all ranks that General Ponsonby afterwards issued a special order
of the day, stating that the 4th Battalion had come up to his support
as steadily as if it had been on parade. It suffered 30 casualties,
which, in view of the amount of shell-fire, may be considered
astonishingly light.

The following graphic description of these two days was written by
Captain M. Chapman in a sketch entitled “Intelligence,” which he
began, but which he never lived to finish.

     “On the morning of the ―― the Battalion marched up a long
     wet _pavé_ road in the direction of the gun-flashes and the
     Véry Lights, whilst the Battalion ‘drums,’ somewhere in the
     dark, played the tune that Grenadiers call their own, and
     the C.O. in silence watched his men file by. The test of
     discipline and training had begun. The figures of the men
     looked tall and grim, magnified by the shadows cast from the
     shrouded lanterns of the motor-lorries. The night was dark,
     and a driving rain soon soaked the tramping men. In an
     hour’s time you could see by the light of a torch a mist
     rising from the soaked and perspiring humanity in front.

     “A halt was called and men were detailed to pick up
     bivouac-sheets and petrol-tins of water. The already
     heavy-laden troops moved on again more slowly with their
     increased burden, along slippery wooden tracks laid across a
     field of mud. Another halt. An officer appeared, dripping
     with moisture, accompanied by guides who took charge of the
     companies and allotted them their area in which to bivouac.

     “To-morrow was zero day, not for the 4th Battalion, but for
     some one else. If some one else failed, then the Grenadiers
     would have to put matters straight; that is to say, the
     Grenadiers were in reserve. The Intelligence Officer gave
     one last look at the inky darkness, and going down on hands
     and knees crawled into a long, low-arched dug-out. Sleeping
     men sprawled across the floor, while at the farther end a
     solitary candle burned. Picking his way across the recumbent
     figures he saw the Commanding Officer lying on his back, his
     head propped against a pack, silently smoking a cigarette
     and thinking. The Intelligence Officer lay down by his side,
     and, watching the Adjutant writing orders and speaking down
     a telephone, fell into a fitful sleep.

     “Zero hour for some one else left him cold, unmoved. The
     accustomed environment of war and great fatigue dull the
     sensibility of man. The steady roar of countless guns was a
     pleasing murmur as of rippling water in his sleepy brain.

     “A ray of sunlight struggled through the narrow entrance of
     the dug-out, and the sleeping mass of humanity near the door
     stirred uneasily. The Intelligence Officer shivered, and,
     cautiously rising into a stooping posture, crawled out into
     the open air. The sun was trying to pierce a passage through
     the heavy ground-mist. The troops were cooking their
     breakfast and beating their chests with a flapping motion to
     restore the circulation in their half-frozen limbs.

     “On a modern battlefield, lines of wooden ‘duckboards’ run
     like arteries across the trackless waste towards the front.
     Up the arteries flow fresh men, new blood, human forms
     complete; food to support life, ammunition to destroy it.
     Down the arteries flow ghosts of what yesterday were men,
     with tissues torn, and muscles rent; gibbering prisoners and
     men who have been spared to be shattered another day.

     “An artery passed the dug-out door. The Intelligence Officer
     observed the circulation to and from the battlefield, and
     speculated on the fate of the tide going up, watching the
     expression on the faces of the advancing and receding
     groups. The men lazily watched the passing tide, exchanging
     jokes with friends going either way. Prisoners alone excited
     interest, but not sufficient to make men move more than a
     few yards from where they stood.

     “French gunners in a wood near by ran hotfoot to see each
     band of prisoners pass, but our men with British phlegm
     stayed where they stood, and eyed the foe with casual
     glance. The passing wounded drew no expression of pity from
     the onlookers, nor did the fate of the ingoing tide even
     raise a questioning expression on their faces. This was the
     last spot where selfishness still reigned supreme――the
     fringe of the battle. Death and danger were not sufficiently
     close to draw out the best in man; he behaved as he did in
     civil life――each man for himself and the devil take the
     hindmost.

     “The men who marched up the endless ribbon to the front
     looked just like other men, and anxiety for their own safety
     left no trace in their expression. They might have been the
     crowd that streams through the factory gates in the early
     morning. The outgoing men were different. They hastened by
     and looked neither to the left nor right. They felt that
     fate had been too good to them and that it might change its
     mind and rend them if they loitered by the way. They had
     reached the fringe where the ‘Ego’ was whispering in their
     ears with insistent voice. They were alive; the others――they
     might be dead――what matter? They were alive.

     “The wounded stared in front of them, except those in pain,
     and the prisoners looked cowed and miserable. The escorts
     walked with jaunty air, rifle slung, bayonets fixed, and
     exchanged jokes with all who would pay attention. The
     feeling of victory was still in their veins, for the
     slouching prisoners spurred their pride of race; were they
     not the symbol of all their friends ‘up there’ had done?

     “The stretcher-bearers, intent on their work, passed the
     fringe of selfishness untouched. The bond of pain and
     suffering held them fast in unselfishness until the moment
     when they delivered their charge to the clearing-station in
     the rear. While other men hurried from the battlefield,
     these slowly and with aching arms and legs carried their
     burdens carefully. Human suffering must touch some special
     chord of self-sacrifice in man. Duty, discipline, and other
     self-taught virtues would never produce that careful studied
     plod of the stretcher-bearer under heavy shell-fire, or
     those deliberate halts to attend to their patients’ needs.

     “Thus the second day passed. The Grenadiers were not called
     upon, but sat in the pit and watched the puppets moving on
     and off the stage. The Intelligence Officer had the critic’s
     box and made his notes. The night passed quietly and slowly,
     the news filtered back that our friends in front had taken
     all their objectives and that all went well. The morning
     brought the fateful news that the 4th Battalion was under
     orders to take over the front line that night, and
     afterwards to attack. Every one was busy, even the
     Intelligence Officer, and the passing puppets moved
     unnoticed. The 4th Battalion prepared to leave the pit and
     occupy the stage.

     “The third day passed quickly in preparation. At 4.30 in the
     afternoon the first platoon stepped on to the wooden pathway
     and moved up towards the front. The Intelligence Officer
     started last, with Battalion Headquarters, while the
     Commanding Officer and Adjutant and orderlies plodded off
     alone. The sun had set and it was growing dark. That ribbon
     of wood which led to the unknown had its advantages, for it
     gave a hard, though slippery, foothold; but, once you
     stepped upon it, you became its slave. The Path began to
     assume a sinister character, when ahead you saw it lead into
     a wood full of bursting shells. Then it took the form of an
     endless moving staircase, surely leading to destruction. The
     serpent of men moved into such a wood. The very name it bore
     was ominous. No one spoke. The Intelligence Officer noticed
     his throat was very dry. His heart pumped at the scream of
     each arriving shell. He continued to move forward as in a
     dream. At intervals he made way for stretcher cases. The
     flash of the bursting shells disclosed a row of
     gun-emplacements. Two gunners pinned under an overturned
     carriage screamed.

     “Still Battalion Headquarters moved on――out of the wood into
     the open――away from death to what seemed like security. An
     odd shell or two burst near the path, while others shrieked
     their way overhead, dealing death somewhere behind. The mind
     neglected the latter, focussing all attention on the former.
     The pathway crossed two streams. By now the darkness was
     complete. A snorting, sobbing noise came from somewhere in
     front, succeeded by a splashing sound. The path went by a
     dark and slimy pool, in which the head and ears of a bogged
     horse waggled this way and that pathetically. Then all was
     still. A man’s figure could be dimly seen attempting to cut
     off the pack saddle before it was buried in the slough.

     “The wooden track abruptly ended. A white tape feebly
     glimmered in the dark, hanging loosely between upright iron
     stakes, rifles driven muzzle down into the sodden soil, and
     portions of broken branches.

     “The Intelligence Officer seized the tape and floundered
     slowly on. The men behind him breathed heavily, and in quiet
     tones cursed the water and the mud, the tape and the hand
     that laid it. Some one tripped. A halt was called. The
     obstruction proved to be a comrade, some flotsam from the
     men ahead. He was alive, warm, but inarticulate. A sergeant
     felt him over in the dark. Some one said, ‘My Gawd, Sir,
     ’e’s got it through the throat.’ The Intelligence Officer
     spoke words of promise to the man and left him there.
     ‘Outgoing troops would pick him up,’ and other well-worn
     words of comfort, although he knew they might not see him.
     He felt he was leaving him to die. This is war.

     “The tape suddenly ended. Heaps of broken stone disclosed
     the close proximity of a concrete dug-out. A guide
     cautiously felt his way into the darkness and presently led
     the Intelligence Officer down some steps below the ground.
     At the foot of the steps hung a soaking blanket, behind
     which a light glimmered feebly. The Intelligence Officer
     cautiously pulled the blanket to one side, and blinked at
     the group inside. Two Commanding Officers and two Adjutants
     were talking. ‘Handing over’ was in process. The outgoing
     were clearly anxious to be gone; the incoming were anxious
     not to let them go without knowing what lay before them.

     “A succession of officers and orderlies peered through the
     doorway, saluted and uttered the magic words, ‘Relief
     complete, Sir,’ and vanished into the outer darkness. Their
     strained expressions did not belie the full meaning of the
     sentence. The outgoing C.O. pushing back his chair with a
     scraping noise said, with a half-apologetic air, he would be
     off, and he and his satellites vanished. He had laid down
     his burden; the 4th Battalion had assumed it. His footsteps
     sounded light and care-free as they died away.

“All that night officers and men groped their way through mud and
filth, visiting outposts, distributing rations, each bent on a
mission involving the safety and comfort of the other. The
Intelligence Officer felt that the atmosphere had changed. The
Commanding Officer could have reclined on the German bed in the
dug-out, his feet out of the six inches of liquid slush. Actually
he spent his time going round the line, four hours of intense
physical strain. Shells and bullets do not sound more pleasant
because it is dark.

     “The Transport Officer might have dumped the rations beyond
     the barrage and returned to the security of the horse-lines,
     and the warmth of his valise. As a matter of fact, he led
     his struggling animals up a broken, shattered road, through
     the barrage, round the trunks of fallen trees, and delivered
     his consignment at B.H.Q. The Adjutant might have said with
     reason that the ration parties had lost their way, that
     conditions were impossible, but the Intelligence Officer
     watched him supervise everything in person――in the open.
     Before dawn the front line was rationed――every post
     established, no chances taken. The Intelligence Officer saw
     it all and said: ‘If this is war, some parts of it at least
     are good.’

     “At dawn the next morning he arose and stood shivering in
     the cold mist. He visited his observation-post, and,
     watching trenches through his telescope as the sun slowly
     made its way through the haze, he smiled as he recognised
     well-known N.C.O.’s and men moving about in the nonchalant
     manner which all assume before the sniper starts his work,
     and when tired gunners take their rest. He knew that later
     he might search for hours and find no movement; all would be
     hiding in their shell-hole lairs.

     “A distant hum reminding him of some gigantic insect, drew
     his attention from his work, and two aeroplanes appeared,
     flying very low. In a few minutes the moving figures
     vanished from the field of view of his telescope. The earth
     swallowed them up. Then commenced manœuvres that reminded
     him of sparrow-hawks quartering their haunting ground for
     prey. The droning insects flew back and forth. No movement
     was visible on the ground. A hooded head looked over the
     fuselage of each machine. The Iron Cross showed clearly on
     the wings. Then warning lights were dropped from each
     machine. Each light marked the position of a trench and
     seemed to say, ‘Eat, drink, and be merry, for soon you will
     die.’ The whole proceeding revolted the men watching from
     the O.P. They knew the full intent of it. Their imagination
     heard the scream of the shells which would surely fall where
     the lights had dropped. They felt for their friends out
     there. Discovered by their enemies, the hiding men used
     their weapons viciously. The rattle of machine-guns and
     rifles was mixed with the drone of the aeroplanes. The
     pilots knew their work was done. They turned to fly. One of
     them staggered in his course. The Intelligence Officer
     watched the machine crash in flames in a distant forest. The
     hiding men in their shell-holes sat down to wait for the
     punishment that they knew must come. The Intelligence men
     watched great spouts of earth rise skywards and listened to
     the rending crash that came slowly across the intervening
     space. They longed to help; instead they noted the time and
     place and entered the information in their Intelligence
     report.

     “Zero was set for 5 A.M., this time a zero that concerned
     the 4th Battalion alone. The Commanding Officer and the
     Intelligence Officer moved forward through the darkness to
     an advanced position at three o’clock in the morning. Here
     the nerve centre of the 4th Battalion was established. Here
     would enter the news of battle. The Intelligence Officer
     established himself in a corner of the new dug-out. His
     carrier-pigeons made little noises to themselves, while the
     telephone operators tested and re-tested their lines. The
     Intelligence Officer’s hand kept wandering to his watch. The
     Commanding Officer snored. His plans had been truly laid;
     interference now would be fatal. He was a well-trained
     soldier, and he slept.

     “Five minutes before zero the Intelligence Officer woke the
     Commanding Officer, and both waited for the well-known throb
     of innumerable guns. One of them at least thought of his
     friends waiting to follow up the moving death. What were
     those others, his enemies, doing? Did they realise what hell
     would break upon them? Did they suspect the impending
     stroke?

     “The blow fell to the minute. The dug-out rocked. A sheet of
     flame lit up the sky. A thousand devils seemed to be forging
     a red-hot band on the earth as far as the eye could see.
     Their countless hammer-strokes were merged into one loud
     growling, rumbling noise. Gradually the ear became
     accustomed to the sound and detected the sharp crack of
     answering bullets and the rattle of machine-gun fire. Dawn
     was breaking and eyes were strained to pierce the
     half-light. Minutes seemed like hours.

“The first messenger arrived at the nerve centre. He brought good
news. Others followed. All reported success. The Intelligence
Officer took out one of his pigeons, attached a message to its
leg, and released it. He noticed how clumsy his handling of the
bird had become. The pigeon circled once and flew straight as an
arrow in the right direction. This was dramatic, exciting, the
cream of war. Then came the sordid side.

     “The enemy artillery awoke. Great shells came hurtling
     through the sky.

     “The shelling grew less. The machine-gun fire died away. The
     enemy was accepting the new situation. We had won; he had
     lost. Both sides prepared to settle down where they found
     themselves, too tired to prolong the struggle.

     “The Commanding Officer was satisfied with the position.
     Emerging cautiously from its shelter, the party moved back
     to the original Battalion Headquarters. As they passed the
     trenches and the scooped-out holes in which the supports
     sheltered, inquiries were made as to casualties, and brave
     words spoken to cheer the exhausted men. The Intelligence
     Officer, ruminating on death, saw many signs of it. The true
     value of the body in which for a short period resides the
     soul of man was brought home to him. Three men crouched in a
     trench. Two were cooking; some conversation was in progress.
     The third man sat by their side and took no part. He seemed
     by his attitude to be thinking deeply, immersed in the
     solution of a problem. His face was turned away. The
     attitude was one of puzzled thought.

     “The Intelligence Officer made inquiries as to how they had
     fared. Two of the men looked up; they gave him a friendly
     smile and told him all they knew. The other sat with his
     head bent, still studying that inscrutable problem. The
     Intelligence Officer noticed with a start the colour of his
     ears, how wax-like in appearance; then he knew in a
     flash――the man was dead. His comrades did not even explain
     the fact. They seemed to realise that the figure by their
     side no longer counted, that the soul and personality were
     fled, that there was nothing dreadful in the husk that sat
     there and still seemed one of them. War had taught them what
     a small thing the body really is, what a matter of
     indifference whether it is smashed or not. They had learned
     one thing at least――the proportionate value of the body and
     the soul.

     “That night the 4th Battalion handed over its burden to some
     one else. It was due to be relieved. The Chaplain had
     arrived to see to it that the brave dead had decent burial.
     When it was possible, the Grenadiers always carried down
     their dead, so that in the future, grouped together, they
     would stand as a memorial of the cause they fought for, and
     indicate plainly to future generations how Grenadiers could
     fight and die――a monument to the power of discipline,
     self-sacrifice, and pride of race.”

No. 1 Company under Captain Sloane-Stanley, No. 3 under Lieutenant
Nash, and No. 4 under Captain Paton, dug themselves in with
entrenching tools along the Anneux chapel――Mœuvres road, while No. 2,
under Captain Britten, was placed in Anneux chapel itself. The
shelling was very violent, and all the roads, by which supplies and
supports had to move, were accurately and persistently shelled. The
Brigadier, Lord Henry Seymour, came along, quite unconcerned and not
even wearing a helmet, to see how these companies were getting on, and
told them they might have to move up later into Bourlon Wood. When it
got dark snow began to fall, and it became bitterly cold. The position
of a lent battalion is by no means an enviable one, and soon orders
and counter-orders from different authorities succeeded each other
with amazing rapidity. Finally definite orders were sent to the
Battalion to take up a position in Bourlon Wood, and at the same time
it was placed under the orders of the 186th Brigade. While this move
was being carried out, Lieutenant Nash was wounded in the leg and sent
back to the dressing-station. In order to keep in touch with the 186th
Brigade, Second Lieutenant Tuckwell was sent to Graincourt to act as
liaison-officer to General Bradford, V.C.

Bourlon Wood, which covers about 100 acres, might well have been a
typical English covert, with its tall trees interspersed with
undergrowth about eight feet high. The line to be held consisted of a
road running north and south, parallel to the front line. The ground
was soaking wet, and the men had to force their way through the
dripping leaves and lie out in the wood with no protection of any
kind. Digging through the stubborn soil and soaking undergrowth was no
easy matter with light entrenching tools, but they soon produced some
sort of cover. The Fortieth Division, however, had succeeded in its
attack, and so there was nothing for the 4th Battalion to do but to
remain in the wood where it was. In the evening, much to the
satisfaction of every one, it reverted to the command of the Guards
Division. Lieutenant Ingleby, the acting Quartermaster, arrived at
Battalion Headquarters at 11 that night, having guided the transport
up to Anneux chapel through intense shelling, and reported that Second
Lieutenant N. A. Pearce, the transport officer, who had shown great
determination and pluck in his efforts to bring all that was wanted up
to the men in the trenches, had been killed by a shell. Major-General
Feilding received the following message from Major-General Ponsonby:

     I wish to express on behalf of my Division my sincere thanks
     for the support given us on the 24th and 25th by the
     Battalions of the Guards Division placed at my disposal for
     the defence of Bourlon Wood, namely the 2nd Battalion Scots
     Guards and 4th Battalion Grenadier Guards.

     I should like to bring to your notice particularly the 2nd
     Battalion Scots Guards, who throughout the period prevented
     the enemy from breaking through the right flank of the
     position, and assisted in repelling at least two of the
     enemy’s counter-attacks. I enclose extracts from the report
     of the Brigadier-General commanding the 119th Infantry
     Brigade:

     “The 2nd Battalion Scots Guards reinforced the firing line,
     which had become very thin, early in the morning of November
     25, and remained in action until they came under the orders
     of the 186th Infantry Brigade on the night of 26-27th
     November. All ranks behaved with the utmost gallantry, and
     assisted to repel at least two German counter-attacks in
     addition to continual enemy pressure. They inspired all with
     great confidence.

     “The 4th Battalion Grenadier Guards came under my command in
     the afternoon of the 25th inst. To reach a position of
     readiness it had to cross the open in artillery formation
     for a great distance under enemy observation, and were
     heavily shelled in so doing. The men were as steady as if on
     parade. To the above-mentioned units I wish to express my
     gratitude.”


[Sidenote: Nov. 26.]

The next day passed quietly, and the company commanders were able to
go in turn to Battalion Headquarters to have some rest. In the evening
snow fell heavily, and the men had a cold and uncomfortable night. The
4th Battalion was again to be lent to another brigade, that of General
Sergison-Brooke, who received orders to attack Fontaine. It was not
actually wanted for the attack, but merely to form a defensive line,
on which the assaulting waves could fall back in case of failure.

The enemy put down a heavy barrage on the whole line that night, and
Lord Gort sent Captain Chapman to inquire from the 2nd Battalion Irish
Guards what was happening, but it proved to be merely the outcome of
nervousness on the part of the Germans, and no attack developed. The
Battalion moved off at 5.30 A.M., to take up new positions facing east
instead of north, at very short notice; and, as the night was very
dark and wet and the enemy was so close, the advance into position
required some care. In order to prevent any confusion in the
jumping-off line, the Battalion was told to occupy a position
immediately in rear of the line, and to move up in the line only when
the attack had actually started.


ATTACK ON FONTAINE

[Sidenote: Nov. 27.]

In a drizzle of rain, and under an intense enemy barrage, the attack
of Sergison-Brooke’s Brigade started at 6.30 in the morning of the
27th. It reached its objective, but the cost was so great, that the
survivors found it impossible to maintain the position they had so
dearly gained, without reinforcements. So weak were the attacking
battalions, that they were in danger of being overwhelmed by
counter-attacks. While the 4th Battalion was waiting for orders about
10 A.M., the German counter-attacks began to develop, and fire from
the left became very heavy. No. 2 Company under Captain Britten was
sent off to secure the left flank of the Division, which seemed to be
in a dangerously weak condition. As they came up Second Lieutenant
Windeler was killed by a sniper, and Captain Britten himself was
wounded in the arm by a rifle bullet. Soon afterwards Second
Lieutenant Oliver, who was now in command of No. 3 Company, was
severely wounded in the chest, arm, and foot, while going out to bring
in a wounded Irish Guardsman. The casualties among other ranks were
proportionately heavy.

A warning order arrived from Brigadier-General Sergison-Brooke at
10.30 A.M., preparing the Battalion to supply two companies for the
support of the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers and 1st Battalion Coldstream,
but it seemed doubtful whether a couple of companies, or even four,
would be of any use in the circumstances. Captain Gerard, the
Adjutant, reported that he had heard from Captain Paton that already
the 2nd Guards Brigade was falling back to the original line.

Lord Gort went off at once with Captain Chapman to the headquarters of
the 3rd Battalion, and discussed the new situation with Colonel
Thorne. They decided that it would be inadvisable, in view of the
enemy’s strength, and the absence of any appreciable reserves on our
side, to renew the attack, and so use up the 4th Battalion with small
chance of success. Orders were accordingly issued for the original
line now held by the 4th Battalion to become the line of resistance,
under the command of Captain Paton and Captain Sloane-Stanley. That
night the 4th Battalion was relieved, and returned to the Hindenburg
line at Flesquières.

[Sidenote: Nov. 28.]

On the 28th it marched to Trescault, and pitched a camp on the open
ground between the Trescault――Metz road and Havrincourt Wood. The
enemy’s aircraft left them no peace, and so the tents were struck the
next morning, and pitched again in Havrincourt Wood. The undergrowth
was thick, and the cutting of it took some time, but when the camp was
finished it proved snug and sheltered.

  [Illustration: _Attack on Fontaine_
                 _November 27. 1917._]

[Sidenote: Nov. 30.]

The officers had just finished breakfast on the 30th, and were about
to inspect their companies, when the news arrived that the Germans had
broken through the line near Gonnelieu. It was said that the enemy had
been seen marching in fours through Gouzeaucourt. Immediately orders
were given for the Battalion to be ready to start at a moment’s
notice. Although the men had expected a quiet day, and were quite
unprepared, so perfect were the organisation and discipline that in
half an hour’s time the Battalion was ready to move off.

Lord Gort’s orders were to concentrate on Metz, and accordingly the
Battalion moved off in that direction. The road was full of transport
moving in the opposite direction, and with it ran a stream of men
looking strangely unlike British soldiers, with no rifles or
equipment――wounded and unwounded with incoherent stories, officers
half-undressed, gunners with breechblocks in their hands, all with a
hunted look. Some high-explosive shells came streaming over, and
pitched not far from the road. Lord Henry Seymour with his commanding
officers rode on ahead to try and glean some information, while the
four battalions of his Brigade marched through Metz, past the beetroot
factory and on to the open ground beyond, where they lay down and
waited.


ATTACK ON GONNELIEU

About 2.30 P.M. the whole Brigade, in artillery formation, moved off
in the direction of Gouzeaucourt, and in the meantime the attack of De
Crespigny’s Brigade had been completely successful and required no
reinforcements. The direction of the march was consequently slightly
changed. The 4th Battalion crossed the Trescault――Gouzeaucourt road,
where, thanks to Lieutenant Ingleby, the cookers arrived, and the men
were provided with hot food. That night General Walker, commanding the
16th Brigade of the Sixth Division, held a conference at the 4th
Battalion Headquarters. His object was to ensure that the 4th
Battalion understood his scheme of attack, for if his brigade failed
it would have to carry out his plan. The hurried manner in which the
attack was planned, and the obviously scanty information on which the
plan was based, seemed to indicate that it was not likely to succeed.
At 1 A.M. a warning order was issued to the effect that Seymour’s
Brigade would assault Gonnelieu, if the attack of the 16th Brigade
failed. Lord Gort thereupon wrote out his orders with the very meagre
information at his disposal.

To have to select a definite objective after dark made things very
difficult, since the final disposition depended upon the attack of the
16th Brigade, and whatever happened an indefinite front line would be
the result. If the 16th Brigade succeeded, Seymour’s Brigade would
simply relieve it, but if it failed the attack would have to be
attempted a second time. These considerations alone made it necessary
to work out alternative schemes. Lord Henry Seymour fortunately
prepared a detailed plan for the worst event, and fully realised that
his Brigade was to be employed in a manner generally accepted as
impossible, except in a great emergency, involving the advance of
infantry, unsupported by artillery, across the open against an enemy
occupying trenches, and houses bristling with machine-guns.

The following officers took part in the attack on Gonnelieu:

     Lieut.-Colonel Viscount Gort, D.S.O.,
       M.V.O., M.C.                               Commanding Officer.
     Major W. S. Pilcher, D.S.O.                  2nd in Command.
     Capt. C. R. Gerard                           Adjutant.
     Capt. M. Chapman                             Intelligence Officer.
     Capt. H. H. Sloane-Stanley                   No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. C. E. Irby                             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. J. M. Chitty                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. B. J. Hubbard, M.C.               No. 2 Company.
     2nd Lieut. R. C. Denman                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. D. E. A. Horne                     ”       ”
     Capt. J. B. M. Burke, M.C.                   No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. the Hon. A. H. L. Hardinge             ”       ”
     Lieut. L. R. Abel-Smith                       ”       ”
     Capt. G. H. T. Paton, M.C.                   No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. B. C. Layton                           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. J. J. M. Veitch                    ”       ”

When the news of the failure of the 16th Brigade’s attack reached Lord
Gort, he at once started off with the Battalion, and crossed the
Villers Plouich road. On reaching the railway the companies extended,
and dug themselves in. There they waited in the dark for zero hour.

The order of battle for Seymour’s Brigade was as follows: The 1st
Battalion Welsh Guards on the right and the 4th Battalion Grenadiers
on the left were to undertake the attack. The 1st Battalion Grenadiers
was in support on the left, and had to protect the left flank as the
attack advanced, while the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards had already
occupied the high ground about Villers Plouich. In the 4th Battalion
No. 2 Company under Second Lieutenant Hubbard on the right and No. 3
under Captain Burke on the left formed the first line. No. 4 Company
under Captain Paton was in support, and No. 1 under Captain
Sloane-Stanley formed the reserve. Captain Chapman was sent forward to
establish a forward Battalion Headquarters.

[Sidenote: Dec. 1.]

Without any artillery preparation the attack started at 6.30 A.M. It
was still fairly dark, but the Germans could see enough to use their
machine-guns with considerable accuracy. The line of advance was over
open ground, up a gentle slope leading to Gonnelieu, and there was no
cover or protection of any kind for the attackers. On came the leading
companies of the 4th Battalion in perfect order. The men never wavered
for an instant, though they knew that they were to be sacrificed to
save the situation. They all understood that the rules of modern
warfare were to be defied, and that instead of following a creeping
barrage they were to advance across the open, with not even a
preliminary bombardment. Though they knew this, they never faltered.

The enemy’s machine-gun fire when it broke over them was terrible,
like a driving hailstorm, but the pace was never checked for a moment.
Especially on the right the fire was terrific, and No. 2 Company,
which had gone rather too far in that direction, suffered heavy
losses: one platoon was practically wiped out. Second Lieutenant
Hubbard himself was killed, and Second Lieutenant Denman was mortally
wounded, gallantly attempting to silence a German machine-gun, while
Second Lieutenant Horne was also wounded. No. 3 Company under Captain
Burke maintained its direction, and had few casualties until it came
up close to the village. On reaching a road running in the direction
of Vacquerie, it had to pause for a moment to allow No. 4 to come up
before continuing its advance. Second Lieutenant Veitch had his thigh
smashed by a bullet, and fell back into a shell-hole. Almost
simultaneously a man shot through the head fell on the top of him, and
being too weak to move the dying man, for twelve hours he remained in
this cramped position.

The left of the line met with less resistance than the right, and so
got far in advance. No. 3 Company dashed forward into the outskirts of
Gonnelieu, but the village seemed almost impregnable against infantry
unsupported by tanks or artillery. A small enclosure sheltered by
ruined buildings was the only protected spot, the ground all round it
was swept by machine-gun fire, and of course the shrubs and rank grass
were no cover at all. Captain Burke dashed in on the left, and
penetrated into the eastern outskirts of Gonnelieu, while Lieutenant
Hardinge with a few men got round to the north of the village, and
brought up a Lewis gun to a position in the cemetery. This had a most
disconcerting effect on the enemy, for it threatened his right flank,
and enfiladed the troops opposing Nos. 2 and 4 Companies.

The Germans quickly grasped the fact that this movement on Lieutenant
Hardinge’s part required immediate action. They managed to press back
the troops on the left of the Brigade, with a view of enfilading the
cemetery. With great ingenuity they worked round with their
machine-guns, and soon Lieutenant Hardinge’s position became
untenable. All his men were killed or wounded with the exception of
Sergeant Hull. Then the gun jammed. There was now nothing to be done
but to get back as best he could, and being luckily only slightly
wounded, he was able to make his way back, accompanied by Sergeant H.
Hull.

Meanwhile Lieutenant L. Abel-Smith and Sergeant Williams went down a
line of huts to the right, to see if an advance could be made in that
direction, but were met with a withering fire from the right flank.
With two platoons they therefore advanced a short distance down the
centre of the village, but the enemy’s machine-gun fire was so fierce
that the ground over which they crawled was plastered with bullets.
Some men, who were creeping along behind a wall, were killed by
bullets which pierced the brickwork, and Lieutenant L. Abel-Smith
himself was wounded.

This most gallant attempt on the part of No. 3 Company to capture the
village resulted in such heavy losses that it was obvious it would
have to retire. A German counter-attack as it was attempting to
consolidate its position settled the matter. A certain number of men
managed to get back, but most of them were killed or taken prisoners,
including Captain Burke himself, who died fighting to the last. The
same fate befell Second Lieutenant Chitty, who, with a party of No. 1
Company, had succeeded in entering the village.

Captain Paton with No. 4 Company had the difficult task of deciding
what he should do, on reaching the trench in front of Gonnelieu. No. 3
had gone on into the outskirts, and there was no sign of the Welsh
Guards on his right. It was obvious that his best plan would be to
hold the trench until the others came up into line, so that at least
those who had gone on would have a strong supporting line to retire
to. But there was a mixed medley of men on his left, who seemed to be
wavering in the face of the counter-attack. Captain Paton thereupon
leaped out of his trench, and ran across the open, with machine-gun
bullets ploughing up the ground all round him. With almost reckless
bravery he went from trench to trench in full sight of the German
machine-gunners, encouraging these groups of men from various
regiments. At first he seemed to have almost a charmed life, and his
splendid example inspirited all who saw him. The situation was saved,
and he fell soon afterwards mortally wounded. For this conspicuous act
of gallantry he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. Captain
Gerard, the Adjutant, who came up to obtain information for Lord Gort,
found that owing to Captain Paton’s efforts the left flank was secure.

It was now clear that without considerable reinforcements and
unlimited sacrifices the village could not be taken. The enemy’s
machine-guns were too strong. The Germans were counter-attacking, and
were able to overpower any parties that had gained a footing in the
village. Only one of the fourteen tanks that had been expected
appeared, and, although it was undoubtedly a great help to the Welsh
Guards, it was quite inadequate by itself. The Brigade on the left and
the Welsh Guards on the right had been held up, so that even had the
Battalion taken the village they would not have been able to hold it.
A German officer captured that day stated that his battalion had
attacked from behind Gonnelieu at 6 A.M., and as our attack started at
6.30 they had been completely disorganised by our advance, which they
imagined was a counter-attack delivered with amazing rapidity.

Captain Sloane-Stanley, who had come up with No. 1 Company, determined
to consolidate the trench immediately in front of Gonnelieu, so that
it might be held with what remained of the attacking Companies.
Lieutenant Irby of the same Company held a block in the trench against
persistent bombing attacks, and eventually knocked out a German
machine-gun by counter-bombing. Lord Gort himself now came up to see
exactly how matters stood, and walked about, as he always did on such
occasions, with an absolute disregard for all danger. It was not long,
however, before he was severely wounded; the only wonder was that he
had not been hit before. There were many acts of individual bravery,
and perhaps the gallantry displayed by Sergeants Canham and Buckle was
one of the most conspicuous. At one time, when the enemy were
advancing dangerously near our line, these two sergeants left their
trench, and charged. The Germans, imagining that these two wore only
the foremost of a large party, fled in confusion.

Major Pilcher, who now assumed command of the 4th Battalion, was
confronted with a very difficult situation. The sadly depleted ranks
of the Battalion were holding the trench in front of Gonnelieu, and
there were only three officers left――Captain H. Sloane-Stanley,
Lieutenant Layton, and Lieutenant Irby. The tactical position was
hazardous in the extreme, for both flanks were in the air and
dangerously large gaps in the line seemed to invite a German attack.
When the troops on the left retired, Major Pilcher called on the 1st
Battalion Grenadiers to send up one Company to his assistance, and
Captain Rhodes was sent to form a defensive flank. Later, when further
assistance was required, two more Companies under Captain Spence and
Captain Lawford advanced down the sunken road, and prolonged the line
to the left. This timely assistance undoubtedly saved the left flank
of the 4th Battalion, and enabled it to maintain its position.

[Sidenote: Dec. 3.]

The line now formed a salient in front of Gonnelieu; the apex being
held by the 4th Battalion with some men of the Northants Labour
Battalion. On the left was the 1st Battalion Grenadiers, which formed
a defensive flank, while the Welsh Guards écheloned back to the right.
This position was maintained until December 3, when the 4th Battalion
was relieved by the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards, which latter had been
due the night before. Owing to the delay the already exhausted
officers and men had to spend a further twenty-four hours in the
trenches, exposed to a hard frost. It was only through almost
superhuman efforts that they received their rations on the morning of
the 2nd, as the failure to relieve them had upset all arrangements for
supply.

On the night of the 3rd they marched back, and bivouacked in the open
on some ground north of Gouzeaucourt Wood, where they remained ready,
in case their services should be required.

When the Guards Division left the area of operations near
Gouzeaucourt, the 4th Battalion proceeded to Etricourt, where they
entrained for Laherliere. Thence they marched to Gouy-en-Artois, and
were placed in comfortable billets in a château. On December 11 they
proceeded to Dainville, where they remained till the end of the month
training. The weather became very cold and misty, and later there was
a good deal of snow. On the 23rd the following officers joined the
Battalion: Lieutenant F. C. Lyon, the Hon. C. C. S. Rodney, Second
Lieutenant B. R. Osborne, Second Lieutenant R. D. Richardson, and
Second Lieutenant C. J. Dawson-Greene.


THE 1ST BATTALION

[Sidenote: 1st Batt. Nov.]

After the operations at Bixschoote in October, the 1st Battalion
remained in billets at Zudroue, near Watten. During this period the
following officers joined the Battalion: Lieutenant I. C. Gascoigne,
Second Lieutenant D. B. Topham, Lieutenant R. D. Lawford, Second
Lieutenant A. H. Forbes, Second Lieutenant C. Cruttenden, and
Lieutenant H. G. Wiggins. Captain H. H. Castle, R.A.M.C., also arrived
to take the place of Captain P. H. Wells, R.A.M.C. While the Battalion
was at Zudroue, the Colonel of the Regiment, Field-Marshal H.R.H. the
Duke of Connaught, paid them a visit.

On November 9 the move south began, and the 1st Battalion marched to
Enquin-les-Mines, continuing its march on the following day to Fabain
Palfart, and then on to Foolinricametz. Second Lieutenant S. J.
Hargreaves joined from the base on the 15th. The march was continued
on the 17th through Ivergny Pommier to Achiet-le-Petit, where the men
had twenty-four hours’ rest. The greatest secrecy was preserved, and
no orders were issued to the Company Commanders till the last moment,
though from the great concentration of troops it seemed clear that
some big move was impending. The 1st Battalion was brought up in buses
to Beaumetz-les-Cambrai, and from there it marched with the rest of
Seymour’s Brigade to Flesquières. Though two Battalions of the Brigade
were sent up to support the Fortieth Division, which was taking
Bourlon Wood, the 1st Battalion did not take part in these operations.
On the night of the 27th the 1st Battalion Grenadiers and the 1st
Battalion Welsh Guards, assisted by two Companies from the 2nd
Battalion Coldstream Guards, relieved the 2nd Guards Brigade in the
front line. The following officers took part in these operations:

     Lieut.-Colonel M. E. Makgill-Crichton-
       Maitland, D.S.O.                           Commanding Officer.
     Capt. L. G. Fisher-Rowe, M.C.                Second in Command.
     Lieut. W. H. Lovell, M.C.                    Acting Adjutant.
     Lieut. L. de J. Harvard                      King’s Company.
     Lieut. J. A. Lloyd                             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. J. H. Frere                         ”       ”
     Capt. A. T. G. Rhodes                        No. 2 Company.
     2nd Lieut. L. G. Byng                         ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. E. G. Hawkesworth                  ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. W. U. Timmis                       ”       ”
     Capt. P. M. Spence, M.C.                     No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. H. G. Wiggins                          ”       ”
     Lieut. S. J. Hargreaves                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. C. Cruttenden                      ”       ”
     Capt. R. D. Lawford                          No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. the Hon. P. P. Cary                    ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. C. C. Mays                         ”       ”
     Lieut. N. G. Chamberlain                      ”       ”
     Capt. H. H. Castle, R.A.M.C.                 Medical Officer.

Conditions were favourable for carrying out the relief, and the next
day passed without incident, although the enemy continued to shell the
valley south of Bourlon Wood. On the evening of the 28th the 3rd
Guards Brigade, having been relieved by the Fifty-ninth Division,
marched to the reserve trenches south-west of Ribecourt. Next day it
proceeded to Havrincourt Wood. A camp was pitched, and to make way for
the tents it was necessary to clear away the undergrowth, which so
delayed matters that it was not till 10 P.M. that every one had
settled down.

[Sidenote: Nov. 30.]

Barely had the officers finished breakfast on the morning of the 30th,
when rumours reached them that the Germans had broken through the
line. At first no one believed this possible, and, as the camp was
quite five miles from our front line, a further report that the
Germans were not far off was received with incredulity. But soon small
parties of men were seen coming over the hill, as well as gunners and
horses without guns. By degrees these isolated parties became a mob,
and the road was blocked by a torrent of transport and men. A few
shells pitched not far from the camp, and confirmed the news of the
approach of the Germans. At the same time there arrived a warning
order to be ready to move at a moment’s notice, and soon the whole
camp was filled with bustle and excitement.

The first warning said that Seymour’s Brigade was to be ready to take
up a defensive position on the ridge of Havrincourt Wood. This was
cancelled later, and the Brigade was told to concentrate at a point
near Metz. As soon as the order was confirmed, the 1st Battalion moved
off to join the rest of the Brigade on the Trescault――Metz road. The
march was trying, as the road was blocked with traffic, all moving in
the opposite direction. At some points the Brigade encountered as many
as three limbers abreast. Sometimes, therefore, the troops had to go
in single file through a mass of vehicles and men, and then to double
so as to keep touch with those in front. Being on a hill, the road was
clearly visible for miles, and the Germans soon started hammering it
with high-explosive shells, which added to the general confusion. It
requires a very highly disciplined force to move quickly against such
a stream as this was, but the men never checked their pace for a
moment. Spades and shovels were drawn in Metz, and the whole Brigade
was soon ready to advance in artillery formation. The 1st Battalion
followed the Welsh Guards across country in the direction of
Gouzeaucourt and Villers Plouich. Brigadier-General Lord Henry Seymour
rode on in front with his Staff.


ATTACK ON GONNELIEU

The position taken up by the Brigade was just under the crest of the
ridge, running north from Gouzeaucourt Wood, and the 1st Battalion
bivouacked for the night within half a mile of the camp in Havrincourt
Wood, where the stores and transport had remained. As the night was
bitterly cold, one blanket per man and the officers’ trench kits were
fetched, and eventually, when the cookers came up, tea and porridge
was given out to the men.

[Sidenote: Dec. 1.]

At 4 A.M., after the Company Commanders had returned from
reconnoitring, orders were issued for the 1st Battalion to move by
Companies in artillery formation, and take up a line on the railway
between Gouzeaucourt on the right and Villers Plouich on the left. By
9 A.M. the Companies were in position: No. 2, under Captain Rhodes, on
the right and in touch with the 4th Battalion Grenadiers; No. 3, under
Captain Spence, in the centre; No. 4, under Captain Lawford, on the
left; and the King’s Company, under Lieutenant Harvard, in reserve.

Both the railway and a sunken road which ran parallel with it were
shelled incessantly by the enemy, while machine-gun bullets also swept
down the line from the direction of Gonnelieu. The 4th Battalion
Grenadiers and the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards were ordered to
undertake the attack, while the 1st Battalion was to be in support,
and guard the left flank as the advance progressed. At 6.20 A.M. the
attack began, and a rather feeble bombardment was continued for ten
minutes by three Brigades of R.F.A. Twenty-two tanks had been allotted
to the Division, eight of which were to co-operate with Seymour’s
Brigade.

Lieut.-Colonel Maitland summoned the four Company Commanders to
Battalion Headquarters, and they started off just as the Germans were
putting down a heavy barrage on the railway. As they made their way
along the embankment, shells were pitching among the men, and causing
groups of casualties. As soon as any reinforcements were wanted,
Captain Rhodes was to take his Company up the sunken road from
Gouzeaucourt to Gonnelieu. No. 3 and No. 4 Companies were to advance
across the open, so as to be near at hand when called upon. The
Company Commanders scrambled back to their Companies, and explained
the general idea to their Platoon Commanders as far as time would
permit. It was a trying time for the men, who had to sit still as mere
targets for the German gunners, and watch their comrades again and
again being blown to pieces. They felt that even an advance under
machine-gun fire would have been preferable.

As soon as the attack started, the 1st Battalion advanced under a hail
of bullets, although there was no artillery fire, and many men fell at
once. The 4th Battalion Grenadiers, which it supported, was at first
so successful that it outstripped the troops on the left, and
consequently had that flank in the air. Lord Henry Seymour sent orders
to the 1st Battalion to secure the high ground to the north of
Gonnelieu, hoping that by this means it would not only secure the left
flank of the 4th Battalion, but also materially assist it to hold the
village. The 1st Battalion had therefore to advance half left, and
after going about 600 yards it was joined by men of various regiments.

Complete success attended the first part of the attack, and the three
leading Companies, by a free use of the bayonet, captured the first
German trench they reached. It was then necessary to “mop up,” and
clear all possible hiding-places where any Germans might be lurking.
Apparently the enemy had been taken unawares, and there were traces
everywhere of surprise and precipitate flight. One German officer was
caught while changing his clothes, and had nothing on but a shirt. The
men stood up, and fired their rifles from the shoulder at the
retreating Germans, and the Lewis gunners did their work well. A large
number of the enemy were killed, and 110 prisoners were taken. No. 3
Company, under Captain Spence, was on the right, in touch with the 4th
Battalion, and No. 4, under Captain Lawford, on the left, in touch
with the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards. No. 2, under Captain Rhodes, in
the centre, had the most difficult task, as it had continually to
swing round to keep up with the Companies on either flank.

Having succeeded so well with the first trench, the 1st Battalion
continued its advance until it arrived at a well-wired trench north of
Gonnelieu. The three leading Companies managed to get through gaps in
the wire, and push on, but when they topped the ridge they were met
with a terrific machine-gun fire, which staggered them, and caused
many casualties. It seemed madness to advance in the open against
well-posted machine-guns, and orders were therefore given to withdraw
to the trench they had already gained. In the meantime five tanks were
seen advancing up to the ridge south of Gonnelieu; three of them were
put out of action before they reached the village, and none were able
to enter the village itself. Captain Spence, finding that his Company
had run short of ammunition, sent back a small party to fetch some
from Battalion Headquarters.

During the last advance Lieutenant Chamberlain, who had gone on too
far, had been either cut off or killed, and half of No. 2 Company,
having gone astray, was nowhere to be seen. The whole line in fact had
been bent to a semicircle, and needed reorganising. Lieutenant Wiggins
was sent by Captain Spence to get touch with No. 2, which should have
been on his right, and, after hunting about for some time, reported
that he could find no trace of this half-Company. At the same time
Second Lieutenant Cruttenden went off to find Lieutenant Chamberlain,
and after a fruitless search was shot through the lungs by a sniper.
By degrees every one got into his right place, and the missing half of
No. 2 Company was retrieved by Captain Rhodes.

As soon as it became dark, began the difficult task of collecting the
wounded and getting them down to the dressing-station. The
stretcher-bearers worked indefatigably all night, and were assisted by
any men who could be spared. Another search-party, under Sergeant
Porter, went out to find Lieutenant Chamberlain, but was no more
successful than the first.

Next day the Battalion remained in the same position, but two platoons
were sent off to reinforce the line held by the 4th Battalion. That
night the 1st Battalion was relieved, partly by the 2nd Battalion
Scots Guards, and partly by a battalion of the 183rd Brigade, and was
sent off to relieve the Welsh Guards. As the 2nd Battalion Scots
Guards did not arrive till dawn, Nos. 3 and 4 Companies had to hold on
all night. There was a rumour that Seymour’s Brigade would continue
the attack on Gonnelieu the next day, but nothing came of it. On
December 3 the whole position was severely shelled, and there were
several casualties, including Lieutenant Bevan, who was wounded.

In the evening the Battalion was relieved, and retired to
Gouzeaucourt, where it remained in reserve. On the 6th it moved to
Etricourt, where Second Lieutenant F. H. Ennor and Second Lieutenant
R. C. Bruce arrived, and on the 11th it retired to Arras, where it
remained till the end of the month. Second Lieutenant A. Forbes and
Second Lieutenant V. A. N. Wall rejoined from the Reinforcement
Battalion on the 16th.


THE 2ND BATTALION

[Sidenote: 2nd Batt.]

For the rest of October the 2nd Battalion remained at Tournehem in the
area between St. Omer and Calais, carrying out training of all kinds.
Lieutenant O. Martin Smith and Lieutenant S. T. S. Clarke arrived on
the 18th.

[Sidenote: Nov.]

On November 11 the Battalion with the rest of De Crespigny’s Brigade
started their march south, through Herbelle, Lairs, and La Thieulloye.
A Divisional Reinforcement Battalion was now formed. This was a new
idea, which had gradually come to be adopted, whenever an attack was
impending, and which had been rendered necessary by the large numbers
of all ranks who were left behind whenever offensive operations were
undertaken. Companies at that time neither attacked nor went into the
line with a greater average strength than 32 other ranks per platoon
and 3 officers per Company, and the Reinforcement Battalion was
designed to take charge of the remainder. Though some such scheme was
doubtless necessary, its application inevitably proved chaotic, for a
hurriedly improvised Battalion Staff administered by the A. and Q.
branches, who were themselves always at their busiest time, when the
Reinforcement Battalion came into existence, hardly made an ideal
administrative machine. From the Battalion point of view the result
was desperate. All ranks returning from leave were usually detained at
the Reinforcement Battalion, so that it was never known from day to
day what officers, N.C.O.’s, and men would be available for duty, nor
was it possible to obtain appropriate substitutes to fill deficiencies
caused by sickness.

On the 13th there was a Divisional Conference, which was attended by
the Brigadiers and Commanding Officers, when Major-General Fielding
outlined the future operations. After four days spent at La Thieulloye
the Battalion marched to Manin, and on the 18th went into camp between
Blaireville and Hendecourt. There the Commanding Officer held a
conference, at which he explained the scope and intention of the
forthcoming operations. On the 19th the Battalion marched by night
from Blaireville, through Hamelincourt and Ervillers, to a tented camp
at Gomiecourt. A full moon lit the road, and the Battalion was in
great spirits, all the companies singing on the march, and all ranks
feeling the suppressed excitement which precedes an attack. The road
passed through an area which the Battalion was to know very well four
months later, when it was called upon to stem the German onslaught.

After two nights in this camp the Battalion proceeded in buses to huts
near Barastre, where it was quartered in very comfortable billets. It
was nearly dawn by the time the troops settled down, as the journey
had been slow and laborious owing to the congestion on the roads,
which, though deserted by day, were crowded with men and vehicles from
dark to dawn.

November 23rd was one of the most remarkable days in the Battalion’s
experience. Starting from camp near Barastre in the dark at 5.30 A.M.,
it marched through Velu to a field on the western outskirts of
Doignies, which was reached about 9.30 A.M. Here the men drew
bivouac-sheets, and set to work to make provision for the night,
having been told that no move would be undertaken that day, whilst the
Commanding Officer and most of the Company Commanders went out to
reconnoitre various routes. Early in the afternoon an order was
received that the Battalion would be required to move at short notice,
and that it would relieve a Battalion in the line that night. Marching
orders were issued, and bivouac-sheets returned. Shortly after 7 P.M.
an order was received that the Battalion was to march off immediately;
it was not known what Battalion was to be relieved, nor where it was,
but it was said that definite orders would be received at the Canal du
Nord. General de Crespigny had gone off to reconnoitre the forward
area, and had not returned.

The whole of De Crespigny’s Brigade and part of Seymour’s Brigade were
found to be on the same track, and as it was already congested by the
passage in both directions of ammunition limbers, ambulances, and
traffic of every description, progress was slow and wearisome. During
the course of the march, the Lewis-gun limbers, which had started with
the Battalion, but had become slightly separated in the press of the
traffic, were diverted by a Staff Officer. The Battalion Headquarters
were not informed of this, and consequently it was not until some time
after their departure that the absence of the guns became known. On
reaching the Canal crossing at Lock 7 the Battalion halted, and the
men fell out on the side of the road to snatch a few minutes’ sleep,
while Captain A. Penn, the Adjutant, rode forward to meet
Lieutenant-Colonel Follett, who was commanding the Brigade in the
temporary absence of General de Crespigny. From Colonel Follett it was
learnt that the Brigade to be relieved was in the neighbourhood of
Cantaing. Lieut.-Colonel Rasch thereupon rode forward to find the
outgoing Battalion, to arrange for guides, and to borrow Lewis guns,
while the Battalion wearily followed the road through Graincourt. The
men who were not required to take part in the operations were diverted
from the main body, and sent off under Lieutenant Drummond and
Lieutenant Layland-Barratt, to find their way to Ribecourt. The march
was undisturbed, and the night quiet, save on the hill crowned by
Bourlon Wood, which all night was intermittently shelled.

Near Brigade Headquarters at La Justice Farm, north of Orival Wood,
the Battalion met guides from the 9th Battalion Royal Scots (152nd
Brigade), which was holding the first line on the eastern outskirts of
Cantaing. Thanks to the admirable arrangements made by this Battalion,
which had been heavily engaged for some days past, the remainder of
the relief passed off without difficulty. Just before daylight the
Battalion completed a relief, which the Royal Scots at any rate
believed to be impossible of achievement, in view of the demands it
made on the endurance of the men, who had been on the move almost
unceasingly for twenty-four hours.

When once the relief was complete, the tour passed without incident,
except that Lieutenant Alexander was wounded in the hand, whilst
throwing from the slit he was occupying an enemy grenade, which had
fallen unexploded among his men.

No. 2 Company was on the right, stretching towards Bois Neuf, and in
touch with the 8th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment; No. 4 on the left
held a line of posts just east of the Cantaing――Fontaine road, facing
La Folie Wood, and in touch with the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, which
stretched towards Bourlon Wood; No. 1 was in support, and No. 3 in
reserve. Everywhere there were signs of the rapidity with which the
British attack had swept the enemy from his trenches, and derelict and
charred tanks, scattered in all directions, bore evidence of the
stubborn resistance with which our advance had been met. The country
was open and undulating, and the spires of Cambrai were distinctly
visible in the clear wintry light. On the 26th the Battalion was
relieved, and marched back in a blinding snowstorm to Ribecourt,
passing the Battalions of the 2nd Guards Brigade, on their way to
carry out the attack on Fontaine-Notre-Dame. The night spent at
Ribecourt was one of the most miserable passed by the Battalion.
Soaked by the snowstorm, through which they had marched from Cantaing,
and sodden with mud from the line, the men, whose blankets and
greatcoats had been stored when the advance began, found no
accommodation but a few leaky shelters in the Hindenburg Line. All the
dug-outs with any possibilities of comfort had already been occupied
by the swarm of troops following the advance. In the afternoon of the
28th, orders were received to march to billets in Metz, and thither
the Battalion went in the evening, finding on its arrival rather
cramped but quite comfortable quarters.


THE CAPTURE OF GOUZEAUCOURT

At daybreak on 30th November the sound of a heavy bombardment on a
wide front made it clear that the enemy was undertaking a
counter-attack. At the same time a long-range gun began to drop shells
into Metz, where the Battalion was resting, causing casualties to the
troops billeted there. The village street was quickly choked with a
miscellaneous rabble of soldiers of every kind, all streaming back in
hopeless confusion, and spreading rumours of a break-through by the
enemy. Soon after 9 A.M. a message was received from General de
Crespigny that the Third Corps was being heavily attacked at
Gonnelieu, about four miles away, and ordering the Battalion to move
at short notice. At 10.30 Lieut.-Colonel Rasch was told to march the
Battalion towards Gouzeaucourt, and to clear Metz by 12.25 P.M. He
handed over the command of the Battalion to Captain Harcourt-Vernon,
and rode off to the Brigade Headquarters to get as much information as
possible.

The following officers took part in these operations:

     Lieut.-Colonel G. E. C. Rasch, D.S.O.        Commanding Officer.
     Capt. G. C. FitzH. Harcourt-Vernon           Second in Command.
     Capt. A. H. Penn                             Adjutant.
     Lieut. J. C. Cornforth, M.C.                 No. 1 Company.
     2nd Lieut. P. A. A. Harbord, M.C.             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. S. H. Pearson                      ”       ”
     Lieut. F. A. M. Browning                     No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. F. H. G. Layland-Barratt, M.C.         ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. F. H. J. Drummond, M.C.            ”       ”
     Lieut. A. W. Acland, M.C.                    No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. F. A. Magnay                           ”       ”
     Lieut. R. Y. T. Kendal                        ”       ”
     Lieut. G. R. Westmacott                      No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. W. H. S. Dent                          ”       ”
     Lieut. F. P. Loftus                           ”       ”
     Capt. J. A. Andrews, M.C.                    Medical Officer.

Half a mile from Metz, Lieut.-Colonel Rasch and the Company
Commanders, who had preceded the Battalion, rejoined, with the news
that De Crespigny’s Brigade was to advance immediately towards
Gouzeaucourt, which was reported to be in the hands of the Germans:
the 1st Battalion Irish Guards on the north of the Gouzeaucourt――Metz
road, the 3rd Battalion Coldstream in the centre, and the 2nd
Battalion Coldstream on the right; the 2nd Battalion Grenadiers in
Brigade support.

The whole countryside was by this time dotted with men retiring, and
the A.P.M. at the Metz cross-roads was busily engaged in dealing with
stragglers; throughout the advance of the Brigade no trace was seen of
any defending infantry. On clearing the village, the Battalion assumed
artillery formation, and advanced to Gouzeaucourt Wood, a low scrubby
plantation crowning the ridge which bisects the ground lying between
Metz and Gouzeaucourt. Here the Battalion waited full of anxious
curiosity. Shelling caused a few casualties, but the protection of the
rising ground sheltered it from the rifle and machine-gun fire,
directed at the leading battalions, which were now advancing towards
Gouzeaucourt village. The capture of Gouzeaucourt was a fine
achievement carried out with wonderful precision. So successful was it
that the Battalion was never required: by nightfall the village had
been completely cleared of the enemy, and all British stores had been
recovered. When it was known that the Battalion was not likely to be
called upon until the next day, cookers were brought up, and provision
for the cold night was made as far as possible.


CAPTURE OF GAUCHE WOOD

[Sidenote: Dec. 1.]

At 2.30 A.M. General de Crespigny received orders to attack and
capture Gauche Wood, in co-operation with Seymour’s Brigade on the
left, and the cavalry on the right. The objective of the Battalion was
the eastern edge of Gauche Wood, and the 3rd Battalion Coldstream was
to be on the left. This wood was oblong in shape, and measured
approximately 700 by 300 yards; its nearest corner was about 1200
yards from the line which the Brigade had taken up the night before.
Orders were written and explained to the Company Commanders. The
Battalion was to form up behind a sunken road on the eastern outskirts
of Gouzeaucourt village, which then constituted the front line. Twenty
tanks were allotted to the Brigade, but as there seemed grave doubt as
to whether they would be able to reach their rendezvous at so short
notice, companies were ordered not to wait for them.

  [Illustration: _Attack on Gonnelieu & Gauche Wood_
                        _December 1st 1917_
                                            _Emery Walker Ltd._]

In the 2nd Battalion the attack was undertaken by No. 1 Company under
Lieutenant Cornforth on the right, and No. 3 under Lieutenant Acland
on the left, each in two lines of two platoons, followed at a distance
of 250 yards by No. 4 under Lieutenant Westmacott, and No. 2 under
Lieutenant Browning, in similar formation. Lieut.-Colonel Rasch went
on ahead with the Company Commanders to reconnoitre the forming-up
ground, whilst the Battalion followed after breakfast, and picked up
tools on the way. At 6.30 the artillery support, which was most
attenuated, opened and searched the wood and the ravine behind it. No
tanks had yet put in an appearance, and, after giving them ten
minutes’ grace, the attack was launched without them.

The enemy retaliated with a heavy barrage, most of which fortunately
fell behind the advancing troops, but the machine-gun fire made it
doubtful whether any one would ever reach the wood. When the attack
opened, all four companies advanced at a great pace over the
intervening grass land, which rose in a gentle slope up to the wood.
It is difficult to understand why, with the machine-guns posted at the
edge of the wood, the enemy did not wipe out the whole Battalion.
Ignoring all regulations about short rushes, both officers and men
went straight for the wood as fast as they could. They instinctively
felt that the only chance was to cover the mile of naked slope in the
shortest possible time. In all probability the German machine-gunners
in the half-light of the morning became flurried, at seeing this
formidable attack sweeping over the ground, for, although the fire was
very hot, the bullets passed over the men’s heads, and it was not
until they had nearly reached the wood that casualties occurred. Here
the fringe of German machine-guns, established at the edge of the
wood, began to take heavy toll, and then began perhaps the fiercest
fighting of all. When the leading companies reached the wood, it
became a struggle of man to man. But the Germans soon found that with
the bayonet they were no match for the Grenadiers. Back into the wood
they were forced, and then-down into a hollow in the centre of it.
Their machine-guns were all captured, and, although some fought
stubbornly, most of them were driven slowly up the incline on the far
side into the corner of the wood. Second Lieutenant Pearson was killed
as he went through the wood, and Second Lieutenant Harbord, whilst
most gallantly rushing a machine-gun, received wounds from which he
died later in the day. Lieutenants Cornforth, Drummond, Dent, Kendal,
Acland, and Magnay were all wounded, and the Battalion lost many
valuable N.C.O.’s.

This left Lieutenant Browning and Lieutenant Westmacott responsible
for the whole Battalion front, and to them the success of the attack
was largely due. Between them they reorganised and controlled the
whole line, making their dispositions with great skill. On reaching
the wood, Lieutenant Westmacott faced part of his company to the right
flank, to guard against a counter-attack from the south. Hardly had he
done so when about seventy Germans appeared; they were met with steady
rifle-fire from the wood, and wavered for a moment, uncertain as to
what they should do, but they finally made for the wood. Our fire,
however, was too steady for them, and accounted for all but a handful
of men, who were taken prisoners. Soon afterwards another party of
sixty appeared from the same direction, but they also were met with so
well-directed a fire that they were staggered, whereupon the men of
No. 4 Company charged them with the bayonet.

Lieutenant Westmacott now decided that he must push his men farther
forward on the right flank of the wood, so as to command the valley,
which lay between the wood and the village of Villers Guislain. He had
just moved forward his company, and prolonged the right with two
platoons of No. 2 Company, when some dismounted cavalry, consisting of
the 18th Bengal Lancers and a detachment of the 7th Dragoon Guards,
appeared from the same direction as the enemy attacks. Their orders
had not enabled them to attack simultaneously with the 2nd Battalion,
and it was in all probability this delayed advance that precipitated
the two unfruitful attempts of the enemy to gain the wood. Their
arrival was of the greatest value, and at Lieutenant Westmacott’s
suggestion they proceeded to reinforce the other companies, which were
meanwhile fighting their way through the wood. Several tanks had by
now put in an appearance, although the majority had been knocked out
before they reached the wood, by a most accurate shell-fire directed
by a low-flying aeroplane. The lack of any particular trench for the
surviving tanks to attack made their fire ineffectual, and their
presence seemed to attract the shells of all the German batteries in
the neighbourhood, causing many casualties in the Battalion.

Lieutenant Layland-Barratt, who had been assisting Lieutenant Browning
to reorganise the companies in the wood, was wounded by a splinter of
a shell, and had to retire to a dressing-station. This left only
Lieutenant Browning in the wood, and Lieutenant Westmacott and
Lieutenant Loftus outside.

Lieut.-Colonel Rasch went up to the line, and organised a readjustment
of the companies. Lieut.-Colonel E. C. Corbyn, commanding the 18th
Bengal Lancers, was asked to withdraw his men to the centre of the
wood so as to form a reserve, and dig a support line on some
commanding ground in the wood. The dash and fighting spirit of all
ranks of this regiment, and the help and experience which Colonel
Corbyn gave at that critical moment, made the greatest impression on
the Battalion, and enabled the Grenadiers to realise how great a loss
his regiment suffered, when he was killed by a shell later in the
afternoon.

In a letter describing this attack an officer of the 18th Bengal
Lancers wrote:

     We then occupied the captured trench sandwiched in between
     the Grenadiers and Coldstream.… I have now seen His
     Majesty’s Guards in action and fought alongside of them, and
     I take off my hat to them. They can die like gentlemen,
     without a groan. Four of our men were carrying a Guardsman
     who appeared to be suffering considerably. I asked him who
     he was, and he instinctively straightened himself as best he
     could and said, “A Grenadier,” his tone implying how proud
     he was to be one, and, what I also thought, “how magnificent
     they were.”

The comradeship between the two regiments was later marked by the
presentation of a Grenadier Bugle, with an inscription, which the
Battalion gave to the 18th Bengal Lancers. Subsequently the Lancers
presented the 2nd Battalion with a silver statuette of a mounted
Bengal Lancer, on the plinth of which was the following inscription:
“To Lieut.-Colonel G. E. C. Rasch, D.S.O., and Officers of the 2nd
Battalion Grenadier Guards, as a memento of Gauche Wood.”

On the return of Lieut.-Colonel Rasch, Captain Harcourt-Vernon went up
to the line, taking with him some ammunition and also a company of the
2nd Battalion Coldstream, under Captain H. Brierley, M.C., which had
been sent to prolong the right flank, still dangerously in the air. In
the afternoon a party of Strathcona’s Horse began an attack, and made
very little headway. Half a squadron came into the wood, but was
withdrawn later to link up the right of the Brigade line with the
remainder of Strathcona’s Horse.

Shelling continued almost without cessation during the rest of the
day, but no further enemy action developed, and about 10 P.M., in
heavy rain, the Battalion began to be relieved by the Deccan and Poona
Horse and one company of the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers, under Captain
Ridley, and marched back to bivouacs in Gouzeaucourt Wood. There it
remained until December 5, when the Guards Division was relieved, and
retired out of the area of operations. The casualties in the Battalion
were 153 killed, wounded, and missing; among the twelve Company
Officers who went into action, one was killed, one died of wounds, and
seven were wounded. The percentage of N.C.O.’s killed was also very
high, including many first-rate sergeants. Three field-guns and twelve
machine-guns, in addition to many prisoners, were captured in this
attack. The Battalion proceeded by train to Beaumetz, and went into
billets at Berneville, where it remained until, the end of the month.

The following officers joined during December: Second Lieutenant F. J.
Langley, Lieutenant G. B. Wilson, Second Lieutenant R. T. Sharpe,
Second Lieutenant C. C. T. Giles, and Second Lieutenant S. C. K.
George.


THE 3RD BATTALION

[Sidenote: 3rd Batt.]

During the last ten days of October and the first week of November,
the 3rd Battalion was in good billets at Moule. During that time,
Lieutenant G. W. Godman, Second Lieutenant G. H. R. Hoare, and Second
Lieutenant E. C. Long arrived. On the 21st the Battalion was inspected
by the Duke of Connaught, and lined both sides of the Calais――St. Omer
road. On the 25th the whole Guards Division was inspected by the
Commander-in-Chief, Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig.

[Sidenote: Nov. 10.]

[Sidenote: Nov. 26.]

On November 10 the march south began, and the 3rd Battalion proceeded
to Enquingatte. On the following days it marched through Heuchin,
Hernicourt, Houvin, Bailleulval, Courcelles-le-Comte, Beulencourt, and
Le Bacquiere to Ribecourt, which it reached after a fortnight’s hard
marching. There the men had twenty-four hours’ rest, during which they
managed to collect a considerable amount of salvage, and on the 26th
they quietly took over the line, round the south-east edge of Bourlon
Wood, opposite the village of Fontaine-Notre-Dame, from the 3rd
Battalion Coldstream. That evening Sergison-Brooke’s Brigade
received orders to attack a front, extending from the village of
Fontaine-Notre-Dame to a point about 1000 yards east of the centre of
Bourlon village――that is to say, a front of about 3500 yards. The
intention to attack Fontaine was only decided upon at the last moment
after much discussion, and even General Sergison-Brooke himself knew
nothing of it till the afternoon of the 26th. The orders reached the
3rd Battalion only as it was on its way up to relieve the 3rd
Battalion Coldstream.


ATTACK ON FONTAINE

The first objective, which was to be the main line of resistance, ran
through the road junction at the east end of Fontaine to the northern
edge of Bourlon Wood. The second objective was the station and the
eastern outskirts of Fontaine, which was to become the outpost line.
The 3rd Battalion Grenadiers was to be on the right, the 1st Battalion
Coldstream in the centre, and the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards on the
left. The first objective of the 3rd Battalion was half-way through
the village, including the church on the right, after which it was to
push its outposts on to the road leading from Fontaine to La Folie
Wood.

As soon as Colonel Thorne received his orders, he rode off, and
collected the Company Commanders, as the Battalion was moving through
Flesquières. Detailed orders were dictated, and the maps were
carefully marked. Two hours later the Company Commanders overtook
their companies, and the relief began. No. 1 and No. 3 Companies,
under Lieutenant Bowes-Lyon and Second Lieutenant G. Hoare, were to
form the first line, with No. 2 and No. 4, under Captain
Beaumont-Nesbitt and Captain Hughes, in support.

The following officers took part in the attack:

     Lieut.-Colonel A. F. A. N. Thorne, D.S.O.    Commanding Officer.
     Capt. E. D. Ridley, M.C.                     Second in Command.
     2nd Lieut. C. C. Carstairs                   Intelligence Officer.
     Lieut. G. P. Bowes-Lyon                      No. 1 Company.
     2nd Lieut. H. St. C. Cooper                   ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. E. C. Long                         ”       ”
     Capt. W. H. Beaumont-Nesbitt, M.C.           No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. J. F. Worsley                          ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. C. B. Hollins                      ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. G. H. R. Hoare                    No. 3 Company.
     2nd Lieut. A. C. Knollys                      ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. W. B. Ball                         ”       ”
     Capt. J. S. Hughes                           No. 4 Company.
     2nd Lieut. C. W. Carrington                   ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. Sir J. L. Hanham, Bart.            ”       ”
     Lieut. H. Dearden, R.A.M.C.                  Medical Officer.
     Capt. the Rev. S. Phillimore                 Chaplain.

The night was bitterly cold, with snow and sleet soon after midnight.
At 5.30 A.M. Colonel Thorne, accompanied by the Intelligence Officer,
Lieutenant Carstairs, went round the line and found all the companies
ready for the attack, which started at 6.20, after a very short and
light artillery preparation. It was practically dark, and as the sleet
had turned to a steady drizzle of rain it was difficult to see more
than a few yards ahead. The tanks were late, but it was decided not to
wait for them, and the signal to advance was given. Directly the 3rd
Battalion left its trenches, it was met by a heavy machine-gun fire
from a small house 200 yards to its right front, as well as from the
line of trenches, just east and south of Fontaine, and began to suffer
casualties. On reaching the German line, the wire was found to be
uncut, and this, combined with the absence of the tanks, nearly ruined
the success of the whole movement.

In spite of these difficulties, however, Nos. 1 and 3 Companies got
through the wire, and captured the trench, but their losses were very
heavy. It was asking a good deal of a battalion to advance against a
number of machine-guns, with strands of uncut wire intervening, and it
was truly a marvellous performance to take the enemy’s trench under
such conditions. Actually Lieutenant Bowes-Lyon with No. 1 Company
managed not only to penetrate the wire, but to seize the machine-guns
in the small house.

Second Lieutenant G. Hoare, who was on the left with No. 3 Company,
was wounded in the face by a bullet, as he arrived at the enemy’s
wire, and Second Lieutenant A. C. Knollys took over command. This
company was more fortunate than the others, for after it had
penetrated the enemy’s wire and was entering Fontaine, the tanks came
up, and enabled it to secure the first objective without much trouble
or many casualties. The difficulty was the mass of isolated houses,
which were admirably suited for defence, and which provided good cover
for the enemy’s machine-guns. The first house on the north side of the
road held up the advance, until Second Lieutenant Carrington with some
of No. 4 Company came up in support of No. 3, and seized the house,
together with all its occupants. On the south side of the road the
enfilade machine-gun fire was terrific, and before the men could reach
the shelter of any house, Captain Beaumont-Nesbitt was killed. The two
companies in support now came up, and the Battalion continued from
this moment to fight practically as two half-battalions. No. 1 and No.
2 Companies suffered most, and all the officers and most of the
N.C.O.’s were killed or wounded. In the village it became a difficult
matter to distinguish between the houses held by the enemy and those
occupied by our men, and thus several parties were cut off.

After some very fierce fighting the Germans were slowly driven back
all along the line. Lieutenant Bowes-Lyon, who had gallantly rushed
on, was killed, and Lieutenant Worsley shared the same fate. The
remaining officers of these two companies were all wounded: Second
Lieutenant Hollins through the foot, Second Lieutenant Cooper through
the arm, and Second Lieutenant Long in the face and arm. A dozen men
of one party, without an officer, fought their way through to the
church, where they joined up with some men of No. 3 Company.

The first objective was now secured, although the price paid had been
heavy, and the village had to be mopped up. Here was another
difficulty: the companies were so weak that they could not even find
enough men to escort the prisoners they had taken. Then the ammunition
began to run short, and the supply of bombs became alarmingly low. The
enemy remained in possession of two derelict tanks, captured in an
earlier attack, and from the trenches just south of the village were
able to keep up a harassing fire. Captain Hughes, when he came up with
No. 4 Company, determined to push on, but could find no signs of No. 2
Company in the labyrinth of houses. He divided his company into two
parties, one of which he himself led to attack the trench on the
Cambrai road, while the other, under Second Lieutenant Carrington, was
ordered to secure the Station road as far as the Crucifix. Both
parties secured their objectives, and began to consolidate their
position.

It was shortly afterwards discovered that the right flank of No. 3
Company was in the air. At the time nothing was known of the failure
of No. 1 and No. 2 Companies to carry their objective, and in
anticipation of their arrival a defensive flank of a sergeant and
twelve men with a Lewis gun was formed. The valley to the south of the
village was filled with the enemy, and under the wall of the
churchyard there was a deep dug-out full of Germans, one of whom was
so placed at the entrance that he could not be seen. Every time a bomb
was thrown from round the corner he fired at the thrower’s hand, and
managed to kill one man and wound another. As no phosphorous bombs
were available, a guard was placed over the entrance, and the dug-out
was left for future treatment.

But it was beginning to dawn on the remaining officers of the 3rd
Battalion that all was not well, since not only did no reinforcements
arrive, but the troops on the left seemed to be in great difficulties.
Colonel Thorne went round, and told all the parties he saw to hold on
where they were, until reinforcements came up, but the men were being
shot at from houses in all directions. A determined counter-attack by
the Germans, who seemed to be in some force, drove back Captain
Hughes’s platoons, and Second Lieutenant Sir J. Hanham was wounded,
but the tables were soon turned when the tanks came up, and poured a
terrific fire into the retreating enemy. Captain Hughes, who had dealt
successfully with a very complicated operation, was now wounded, and
Second Lieutenant Carrington took command of No. 4 Company.

The situation had begun to look very precarious. The houses in the
village, most of which were undamaged, might easily mask the advance
of considerable numbers of the enemy, and the men did not know how
long they could hold on to their position, without being cut off.
Although the tanks had done wonders in clearing the streets, as well
as the trenches along the embankment, they were of very little
assistance in the village itself, where so many houses were still
untouched by artillery fire. The enemy’s shells, which never ceased to
fall, combined with the snipers’ bullets, made the position anything
but pleasant.

Two companies from the 4th Battalion were ordered up, but the
situation demanded more drastic measures, and before these small
reinforcements even started, the enemy made very heavy counter-attacks,
first from the railway-cutting north-east of Bourlon Wood, on the left
flank of the 1st Battalion Coldstream, then against the junction of
the 1st Battalion Coldstream and 3rd Battalion Grenadiers, while a
third took place round the southern edge of the village. Colonel
Thorne decided to hold the village with three centres of resistance,
one from the cross-roads in the centre of the village to the south
corner of the village beyond the church, under Second Lieutenant
Knollys, the second at the cross-roads in the centre of the village,
under Lieutenant Mackay of the Machine-Gun Guards, with two
machine-guns, and the third on the left from the cross-roads to the
right flank of the 1st Battalion Coldstream, under Second Lieutenant
Ball. At the same time Lieutenant Carstairs was sent up with six men,
to get touch with Lieutenant Carrington, who with thirty men was
stubbornly holding on to the position he had gained.

These measures would have been very effective if it had been merely a
matter of clinging on till reinforcements arrived, but as these
depleted companies could not expect to hold their own for long
unsupported, Colonel Thorne determined to go back himself, and press
for more troops to be sent up. It now appeared that there was a gap of
nearly 500 yards between the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers and 1st
Battalion Coldstream, and that the enemy were creeping through. But so
intent were they on cutting off the Coldstream that they did not
appear to notice the Grenadiers, with the result that they were
heavily enfiladed. They retired precipitately, but their retirement
was only momentary, for in a short time they returned with two
machine-guns. At the same time Germans were reported to be advancing
from the north in large numbers, while the counter-attack against the
Irish Guards was developing with renewed vigour.

The position of the 3rd Battalion was now perilous in the extreme.
They were outflanked, and the enemy in front was visibly increasing in
numbers. Lieutenant Mackay with the centre party was forced to retire
before a large number of the enemy, and his withdrawal rendered the
position of both Second Lieutenant Knollys and Second Lieutenant Ball
untenable. Quite apart from the danger of being cut off, these
platoons were not nearly strong enough to resist any attack in large
numbers.

Thus No. 4 Company, under Second Lieutenant Carrington, was
practically cut off, with the enemy already behind it. It had held on
under the impression that another brigade would come to its support,
but found itself in danger of being surrounded. So the men faced about
and fought their way back to the original line. No attempt was made to
hold the old German front trench, for it was without a field of fire
on the east, and the wire was all on the wrong side, while it could be
raked by fire from the buildings on the western end of the village at
a range of about fifty yards.

This, as already remarked, was one of the only failures in which the
Guards Division took part. This splendid Brigade had been practically
decimated, and no advance had been made. The first objective had been
taken, and in some places even the second objective was reached, but
all the work was wasted, owing to the failure of the higher command to
bring up any reinforcements.

The casualties were: Three officers killed and six wounded; while
among other ranks the total casualties were 270.

[Sidenote: Nov. 28.]

On the 28th the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers, 1st Battalion Coldstream,
and 2nd Battalion Irish Guards were relieved by three battalions of
Seymour’s Brigade, and remained in support in La Justice area. That
night the Guards Division was relieved by the Fifty-ninth Division,
and withdrew to Trescault, Metz-en-Couture, and Bertincourt.

[Sidenote: Nov. 29.]

[Sidenote: Dec.]

On the 29th Sergison-Brooke’s Brigade moved from Trescault to
Bertincourt. There they remained until the dramatic news arrived that
the Germans had broken through our line, when it moved to Gouzeaucourt
Wood, where it bivouacked in the open, but its services were not
required. On December 1, when De Crespigny’s and Seymour’s Brigades
attacked Gauche Wood and Gonnelieu, it was in reserve, and that
evening it relieved De Crespigny’s Brigade in the front line and
occupied chalk trenches, in part of Gauche Wood, and in bitterly cold
weather, with no coats or blankets, until December 4. During those
four days there was the usual amount of shelling, but no attack was
made by either side. On the night of December 1 the Germans brought up
teams of horses to remove two field-guns, which had been abandoned
within twenty yards of the trenches by Villers Guislain, occupied by
No. 3 Company, but were driven off by rifle and revolver fire. On
December 4 the 2nd Brigade was relieved by the 1st and 2nd South
African Regiments, and retired from the area of operations with the
rest of the Guards Division. On the 7th the Battalion moved to
Simencourt, where it remained till the end of December. The following
officers joined during December: Second Lieutenant W. A. Pembroke,
Captain N. C. Tufnell, Lieutenant C. H. Bedford, Lieutenant W.
Champneys, Second Lieutenant E. J. Bunbury.



CHAPTER XXVII

JANUARY, FEBRUARY, MARCH 1918

_Diary of the War_


[Sidenote: 1918.]

Although fighting went on all down the line, and constant raids were
made, no operations on a large scale were carried out by either side
during the first two months of the year. In March the great German
attack on the Third and Fourth British Armies commenced. The British
positions were penetrated in several places, and a large number of
prisoners were claimed. This initial success was quickly followed by
other victories, and the territory which had been gained during the
last year was lost by the British. Towards the end of March the German
rush was checked, but not until they had nearly reached Amiens.

In Russia peace was signed with the Germans, and hostilities ceased on
the Eastern front.

In Italy attacks on a small scale continued, but no large operations
were attempted.

In Palestine General Allenby continued his advance north of Jerusalem,
and in Mesopotamia General Marshall defeated the Turkish Army at Khan
Baghdadre.


THE 1ST BATTALION

_January 1 to March 31, 1918_

[Sidenote: 1st Batt. Jan. 1918.]

The officers of the 1st Battalion were as follows:

     Lieut.-Colonel M. E. Makgill-Crichton-
       Maitland, D.S.O.                           Commanding Officer.
     Major Viscount Lascelles                     Second in Command.
     Capt. P. J. S. Pearson-Gregory, M.C.         Adjutant.
     Lieut. W. H. Lovell, M.C.                    Lewis Gun Officer.
     2nd Lieut. L. G. Byng                        Transport Officer.
     Capt. J. Teece, M.C.                         Quartermaster.
     Lieut. L. de J. Harvard                      King’s Company.
     Lieut. J. A. Lloyd                             ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. R. C. Bruce                         ”       ”
     Lieut. A. A. Moller, M.C.                    No. 2 Company.
     2nd Lieut. W. U. Timmis                        ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. E. G. Hawkesworth                   ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. V. A. N. Wall                       ”       ”
     Lieut. O. F. Stein                           No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. P. G. Simmons, M.C.                     ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. F. H. Ennor                         ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. S. J. Hargreaves                    ”       ”
     Capt. R. D. Lawford                          No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. R. P. le P. Trench, M.C.                ”       ”
     Lieut. J. F. Tindal-Atkinson                   ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. C. C. Mays                          ”       ”
     Capt. H. H. Castle, R.A.M.C.                 Medical Officer.

The 1st Battalion left its billets north of the Scarpe, and went by
train to Fampoux, where it relieved the 12th Battalion Highland Light
Infantry in the line, with three companies in the front trench and one
in reserve. On the 5th it was relieved by the 4th Battalion
Grenadiers, and retired into Brigade Reserve for four days. On
returning to the front trenches on the 9th, a hostile patrol was
observed approaching our lines, and was easily dispersed. One German
appeared without any arms or equipment, and on being challenged gave
himself up: he turned out to be a miserable specimen belonging to the
236th Prussian Infantry Regiment. On the 13th the 1st Battalion again
went into reserve, and on the 16th retired to Arras. During the days
spent in the trenches, one man had been killed and several wounded.
Lieutenant H. B. Vernon, Second Lieutenant J. H. Frere, Lieutenant R.
Echlin, and Second Lieutenant J. R. Nicholson joined the Battalion,
and Major Lord Lascelles left to go through a Commanding Officers’
course at Aldershot. On the 25th the 1st Battalion again went into the
line, relieving the 1st Battalion Irish Guards just south of the River
Scarpe. On the 29th the enemy put down a considerable barrage, lasting
half an hour, of all calibres, including trench mortars, on the front
line where No. 2 Company under Captain Rhodes was posted, and made an
attempt to raid the posts in two places under cover of the barrage.
They were, however, repulsed, and never succeeded in entering our
trenches. A patrol, that subsequently went out, found two dead and two
wounded Germans belonging to the Twenty-fourth Divisional
Sturm-Truppen, and ascertained from one of the wounded men that the
raiders had numbered fifty, but had been prevented from advancing any
farther on account of their barrage shooting short. The casualties in
No. 2 Company were two killed and nine wounded, mostly by shell-fire.

[Sidenote: Feb.]

The 1st Battalion remained in the line until February 3, when it was
relieved by the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, and retired into billets
at Arras. After four days’ rest, it returned to the line for three
days, and then proceeded to Gordon Camp, where it remained until the
14th. It spent three more days in the trenches, and on the 18th made a
move to Baudimont Barracks. Captain Pearson-Gregory left, to join the
Headquarters of the 3rd Guards Brigade, and in his absence Lieutenant
Lovell was appointed acting Adjutant. Lieutenant Gascoigne and Second
Lieutenant Ames rejoined the Battalion, and Lieutenant Ennor and
Lieutenant Moller left to take up Staff appointments. After four days
in the support trenches, the Battalion went up into the line on the
27th. During the various periods spent in the front trenches, there
had been a few casualties, but on the whole the Battalion suffered
very little loss during the month.

[Sidenote: March.]

On March 8 Viscount Gort took over command of the Battalion from
Lieut.-Colonel Maitland. A strong German Offensive was now daily
expected, and the Battalion was consequently reduced to fighting
strength, the surplus men being sent to the Guards Divisional
Reinforcement Battalion. But although the enemy’s working-parties
could be distinctly heard, nothing in the nature of an attack from the
enemy took place during the first fortnight in March. The artillery on
both sides was very active, and never ceased sending over shells. On
March 15 the 1st Battalion retired to Gordon Camp, and remained always
on the alert, so that it could be available at three-quarters of an
hour’s notice. Advantage was taken of a week’s rest to have football
matches, boxing contests, and musical entertainments in the evening,
after the day’s training had been done. This undoubtedly freshened up
the men, and helped them to forget the monotony of trench life. On the
20th Captain Greville came from the 4th Battalion to take up the
duties of second in command. On the 21st Major-General Feilding sent
for the Battalion Commanders, and expounded his views on the various
rôles in a counter-attack, which the Division might be called upon to
play. It was of course impossible to issue any definite orders, since
everything depended on where and in what strength the Germans
contemplated making their attack.

OFFICERS WHO TOOK PART IN THE OPERATIONS AT THE END OF MARCH 1918

     Lieut.-Colonel J. S. S. P. Viscount
       Gort, D.S.O., M.V.O., M.C.                 Commanding Battalion.
     Capt. R. D. Lawford, M.C.                    Act.-Second in Command.
     Lieut. the Hon. P. P. Cary                   Act.-Adjutant.
     2nd Lieut. E. G. Hawkesworth                 Intelligence Officer.
     Lieut. J. A. Lloyd                           King’s Company.
     2nd Lieut. R. C. Bruce                         ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. A. Ames                             ”       ”
     Lieut. L. de J. Harvard                      No. 2 Company.
     2nd Lieut. J. H. Frere                         ”       ”
     Capt. O. F. Stein.                           No. 3 Company.
     2nd Lieut. W. A. Fleet                         ”       ”
     Lieut. the Hon. T. G. P. Corbett               ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. C. C. Mays                        No. 4 Company.
     2nd Lieut. G. E. A. A. Fitz-George
       Hamilton                                   No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. R. F. W. Echlin                       Transport Officer.
     Capt. and Q.M. J. Teece, M.C.                Quartermaster.
     1st Lieut. C. A. Forgety,
       U.S.M.O.R.C.                               Medical Officer.

On the 22nd Brigadier-General Lord Henry Seymour took with him in
buses the Commanding Officers of Battalions as well as the Company
Commanders, to reconnoitre the ground round Henin. As soon as Lord
Gort returned, the Battalion was ordered to move at half an hour’s
notice in buses to the Mercatel area. At 6 P.M. it reached its
destination, and went into billets in some Nissen huts in the
neighbourhood of that village. Immediately on arrival Lord Gort took
the Company Commanders with him, to reconnoitre the 3rd system to the
north-east of Boiry Becquerelle, and on the 23rd the Battalion went up
into the front line with the King’s Company under Lieutenant Lloyd on
the right, No. 2 under Lieutenant Harvard in the centre, and No. 3
under Captain Stein on the left, while No. 4 under Lieutenant Mays
remained in reserve. Patrols were at once sent out along the whole
front, but discovered nothing, although a number of the enemy had been
seen assembling in the sunken roads leading to Henin.

[Sidenote: Mar. 24.]

On the morning of the 24th the Germans commenced an attack across the
front of the Battalion, and were caught by enfilade fire from Captain
Stein’s Company, which inflicted heavy losses on them as they
advanced. The troops employed by the enemy seemed to have been well
trained in the new method of attack, and men were dribbled forward to
their assembly positions, where they deployed into waves for the
attack, but when they came under our machine-gun, Lewis-gun, and rifle
fire, they soon began to bunch in groups. It seemed as if the enemy’s
troops had started with the intention of carrying out the operation at
the double for the whole 3000 yards. In order even to attempt this,
they must have undergone a considerable training to reach the standard
of physical fitness necessary for such an attack. Round discs were
used to maintain the correct direction, and the flanks of the attack
were marked by flags. In other respects they appeared to have evolved
no new ideas in minor tactics, and the absence of any covering fire
during the advance was most noticeable. Light machine-guns followed up
in rear of the assault, and only came into action to cover the
retirement of the defeated “Sturm-Truppen.”

[Sidenote: Mar. 25.]

On the 25th patrols were again pushed out, and, although the enemy
could be seen moving about on the Croiselles――Henin road, the day
passed quietly. That night, in accordance with verbal instructions
received over the telephone, the 1st Battalion withdrew to the Army
line, commencing the evacuation of the front trenches at 11.30 P.M.
Although the orders for this retirement were originally received at
2.20 P.M., they were subsequently cancelled, and it was not until 1.30
A.M. that the retirement was carried out after verbal orders over the
telephone had been received. The only incident that occurred during
this withdrawal was the approach of an enemy patrol towards the
rearguard platoon of the King’s company, which at once opened fire on
them. The hostile patrol scattered, and the retirement was carried out
without further molestation. Lord Gort kept two platoons from No. 4
Company in their position, to ensure that no troops of the Guards
Division had been left east of the Arras――Bapaume road. He also
telephoned to the officer commanding the Royal Scots Fusiliers, and
satisfied himself that this regiment was conforming with his movements
before he withdrew the rearguard.

The new sector occupied by the 1st Battalion was to the north-east of
Boisieux-St.-Marc, and was held by Lieutenant Lloyd’s, Lieutenant
Harvard’s, and Captain Stein’s Companies, each having two platoons in
close support in shell slits. The 2nd Battalion Scots Guards was on
the right, and the Royal Scots Fusiliers on the left.

[Sidenote: Mar. 26.]

One and a half hours before dawn the next day outpost patrols,
consisting of picked shots, were pushed forward by each Company in the
line, so that any attempt on the part of the enemy to occupy Boiry
Becquerelle might be instantly reported. At 7.30 one patrol sent back
the information that the Germans could be seen, advancing in large
numbers in artillery formation, and covered by a screen of scouts. The
enemy’s aircraft had been busy since the preceding day, in flying over
this area, while the German artillery continued to shell the western
end of Boiry Becquerelles and the Arras――Bapaume road with 5·9
howitzers. These combined efforts of the enemy’s artillery and
aircraft seemed to suggest that, in the opinion of the Germans, the
Guards Division would be compelled, by the situation farther north, to
withdraw. Orders for a farther withdrawal of Seymour’s Brigade were
issued, and were cancelled that evening, as the enemy made no signs of
any further attack.

[Sidenote: March 27-29.]

The enemy put down a heavy and accurate barrage on our front line, in
the morning of the 27th, which lasted about an hour; in the afternoon
it died down, and no infantry attack developed. That night the 1st
Battalion was relieved by the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, and went
into support until the night of the 29th. During the relief Lieutenant
J. R. Nicholson and Lieutenant W. U. Timmis were wounded.

[Sidenote: Mar. 30.]

On returning to the front trenches, it found the enemy’s machine-guns
very active. At dawn patrols were sent out 300 yards in front of the
line, and no movement on the part of the enemy was reported.
Everything was quiet until 8 A.M., when the German artillery put down
a heavy barrage on our front trenches. This bombardment was
supplemented by Minenwerfer, and was directed more especially against
certain points, which the enemy evidently considered of tactical
value. The barrage increased in intensity later, and extended to the
back area. Shells fell with considerable accuracy on the front
trenches, and the whole Battalion had a terrible time. But the
Germans, with characteristic thoroughness, were not content with this:
they thickened up their barrage with machine-gun fire, and sent
fourteen aeroplanes to drop bombs behind the trenches. They not
unnaturally thought that, after three hours of a bombardment of this
kind, no one could possibly remain to resist their infantry attack,
but in this they were mistaken. The 1st Battalion remained unmoved.
Shattered, covered with earth, deafened by the constant explosions,
dazed by the spectacle of maimed and mutilated men, the Grenadiers
hung grimly on to their line, though in some places the trenches were
completely obliterated.

Amongst the casualties at this time were Lieutenant Harvard, who was
killed by a Minenwerfer, and Second Lieutenant Mays, who was mortally
wounded by machine-gun bullets.

At 10.45 A.M. the enemy’s barrage lifted, and was replaced by an
intense machine-gun fire, which swept the parapets. Under cover of
this the enemy’s attack developed, and dense masses of men could be
seen advancing. Under the impression that the bombardment had
accounted for most of the Battalion, and had so demoralised the
survivors as to render them incapable of resistance, the Germans
determined to turn the flank of Seymour’s Brigade, and marched up the
sunken road in close formation. They apparently thought that by sheer
weight of numbers they could gain their object, and when they came in
sight they were met with a withering fire which completely staggered
them. To their dismay they found that not only was the 1st Battalion
waiting for them, but that the men were shooting coolly and
accurately, in spite of the shelling to which they had been subjected.
The attack was stopped, and although the Germans suffered heavily in
their ineffectual attempts to reach our trench, they never succeeded
even in reaching the wire, except at one point opposite No. 2 Company.
When they approached by the sunken road in dense masses, one of their
companies was sent round the south-western edge of the road to carry
out a flanking movement, and about fifty men succeeded in entering
into the front trench, occupied by No. 2 Company. Captain Stein
immediately organised a counter-attack, and in order to cut off any
Germans who might escape, sent Lieutenant Corbett with a party to a
position on the sunken road, where they could fire on the Germans as
they were ejected from the trench. Meanwhile he himself led a bombing
attack down the trench towards the sunken road. This manœuvre was
completely successful, and was undertaken with so much rapidity and
daring that the Germans were not only quickly ejected, but fell an
easy prey to Lieutenant Corbett’s party, as they attempted to escape
down the sunken road. On returning to the trenches, Lieutenant Corbett
was buried by a Minenwerfer, and had his leg smashed. The German
attack had been a costly failure, and, in spite of the three hours’
bombardment and the masses of men employed, not even a dent had been
made in the line. From a wounded prisoner who was taken the next day
it was ascertained that the Germans had employed two regiments (the
452nd and 453rd) in this attack, each having one battalion in the
front line, while a third regiment was to exploit the attack if
successful. Although the infantry attack was effectually arrested, the
enemy maintained a heavy machine-gun and rifle fire until it was dark,
probably with the intention of preventing patrols following them up,
and also to enable them to clear their wounded.

[Sidenote: Mar. 31.]

The casualties in the 1st Battalion were remarkably small, amounting
to 80, with two officers killed and one wounded. The men were all dead
beat after these strenuous days in the trenches, and they had to
remain for another twenty-four hours in the front line. Lieutenant
Vernon came up to command No. 4 Company, and Second Lieutenant Webber
joined No. 3 Company. The next day passed uneventfully except for a
certain amount of shelling. Captain Malcolm was sent up to take
command of the King’s Company.


THE 2ND BATTALION

_January 1 to March 31, 1918_

[Sidenote: 2nd Batt. Jan.]

ROLL OF OFFICERS OF THE 2ND BATTALION AT THE BEGINNING OF JANUARY

     Lieut.-Colonel G. E. C. Rasch, D.S.O.        Commanding Officer.
     Major the Hon. W. R. Bailey, D.S.O.          Second in Command.
     Capt. A. H. Penn                             Adjutant.
     Hon. Capt. W. E. Acraman, M.C.               Quartermaster.
     Lieut. G. G. M. Vereker, M.C.                Transport Officer.
     Capt. F. A. M. Browning, D.S.O.              No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. M. H. Ponsonby                         ”       ”
     Lieut. G. B. Wilson                           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. R. G. Briscoe, M.C.                ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. C. C. T. Giles                     ”       ”
     Capt. C. N. Newton, M.C.                     No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. the Hon. F. H. Manners, M.C.           ”       ”
     Lieut. O. Martin Smith                        ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. R. H. R. Palmer                    ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. B. G. Morgan                    ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. S. C. K. George                    ”       ”
     Capt. G. R. Westmacott, D.S.O.               No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. S. T. S. Clarke                        ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. White                           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. F. J. Langley                      ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. R. T. Sharpe                       ”       ”
     Capt. G. C. FitzH. Harcourt-Vernon, D.S.O.   No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. R. A. W. Bicknell, M.C.                ”       ”
     Lieut. F. P. Loftus                           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. G. H. Hanning                      ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. H. M. Chapman                      ”       ”
     Capt. J. A. Andrews, M.C., R.A.M.C.          Medical Officer.
     Lieut. H. M. Long                            U.S. Army Medical Staff.

On January 1 the 2nd Battalion marched from Berneville to Arras, and
went into good billets in Levis Barracks. Second Lieutenant J. S.
Carter and Second Lieutenant the Hon. S. A. S. Montagu arrived on the
8th. On the 9th the Battalion went into the line for a tour of sixteen
days, spending alternately four days in the front trenches and four
days in support. The frontage allotted to the Battalion was astride
the River Scarpe, with one company in the village of Roeux on the
north side, and the remaining three companies on the south side of the
river. In many ways the line was convenient, for there was a light
railway as well as a canal, which facilitated the bringing up of
troops and rations to within a mile of the line. There were also
cook-houses, where hot meals could be cooked, and conveyed thence in
hot food containers to the line. Above all, there was a continuous
line of communication throughout the Battalion area; on the other
hand, the trenches had been neglected, and in places were unrevetted.
During the first four days spent in the front line nothing of
importance occurred, although there were a few casualties caused by
shell-fire. Colonel Lord Ardee assumed command of the 1st Guards
Brigade, replacing Colonel Follett, who had been in command while
Brigadier-General de Crespigny was on leave. Rain fell almost
unceasingly during the four days spent in support, and the trenches
became so impassable that the men had to work day and night to make
them habitable. On the 17th Lieut.-Colonel Rasch went on a month’s
leave, and Major the Hon. W. Bailey took over the command with Captain
Harcourt-Vernon as second in command. The four days in the front line
from the 17th to the 21st were unusually quiet, and the Germans
confined themselves to spasmodic bombardments by trench mortars at
dusk and at dawn. On the 19th the Corps Commander, Lieut.-General Sir
Charles Fergusson (an old Grenadier), visited the Battalion. During
the following days spent in support, there was a heavy bombardment
with gas-shells, and when the next tour of duty in the front line
came, the railway was subjected to heavy shelling. Several gas-shells
fell among Nos. 2 and 4 Companies, which were waiting to entrain, but
owing to good gas discipline the casualties were slight, the chief
injuries being caused to men who were splashed with liquid from the
exploding shells. Several men had to be sent to hospital suffering
from the effects of gas, and Lieutenant M. H. Ponsonby was sent home
for the same reason.

[Sidenote: Feb.]

Owing to the formation of the 4th Guards Brigade in the Thirty-first
Division, the Guards Divisional frontage was readjusted, and each
Brigade, now consisting of only three battalions, had one battalion in
the front line, one in support, and one in reserve, the latter usually
in Arras. The 2nd Battalion was in support from the 2nd to the 5th,
and was chiefly employed on fatigues, digging out forward trenches,
and carrying up wire and duckboards. On the 6th it moved into the
front line, when it had a few casualties. After four days in reserve
at Arras it returned to the support line, and was again occupied in
improving and strengthening the trenches. On the 14th Second
Lieutenant A. P. J. M. P. de Lisle joined from the Reinforcement
Battalion. Rumours of a coming German offensive reached the Division,
and Staff Officers came from all directions, while new trenches in
unexpected places sprang up every night. On the 22nd the Battalion
went into reserve, and spent the following days resting in Gordon
Camp.

[Sidenote: March.]

On March 6 a raid was carried out by the 2nd Battalion. While it was
in the support line, Major Bailey had been told that the Battalion
would be required to carry out a raid when it went up into the front
line, as the Intelligence Branch of the Headquarters Staff was anxious
to obtain information with regard to the coming German offensive. The
place selected for the raid was opposite the extreme left of the
Battalion frontage, and had been chosen partly because the aeroplane
photographs showed that the enemy was thinner there than elsewhere,
and partly on account of some rising ground on the left which would
give partial protection from machine-gun fire. In the original scheme
a silent raid by twenty-four men under Lieutenant Palmer was proposed,
but this was altered later to a raid on a larger scale with an
artillery and trench mortar barrage. In addition to the twenty-four
men from No. 2 Company, eight volunteers from the other three
companies were called for, and the whole party proceeded to Gordon
Camp under Lieutenant Clarke, with Captain Browning, who was an old
hand at raids, to supervise their training. Meanwhile a great deal of
valuable reconnaissance and preparation was carried out from the front
line by Captain O. M. Smith, commanding No. 2 Company. Unfortunately
during the few days before the raid the visibility was good, and
therefore unfavourable for such operations, since the greater part of
the wire-cutting had to be postponed until the day before the raid
took place. In order to deceive the enemy as to the actual place
selected for the raid, wire-cutting was carried out at different
places along the whole Divisional frontage.

The night of the raid proved to be fine and bright. The raiders were
brought up from Gordon Camp in buses, and, after an issue of rum at
advanced Battalion Headquarters, formed up on a tape in No Man’s Land
about 150 yards from the enemy’s trench (the total distance between
the opposing trench lines being 240 yards). At zero hour, 2.40 A.M.,
our artillery put down a barrage on the German front trenches for one
minute, and then lifted it on to the support trenches, where it was
maintained during the raid. At the same time two separate barrages
were dropped on either flank, while suspected saps, machine-guns, and
communication trenches had a standing barrage of Newton trench mortars
and howitzers directed on them. The raiders were divided into three
parties: the right and left parties, each consisting of a sergeant and
eight men, entered the enemy trench simultaneously and immediately
wheeled outwards. The centre party, consisting of Lieutenant Clarke
himself, a sergeant, two stretcher-bearers, and five men, remained at
the point of entry. The orders were that the raid was not to last more
than twenty minutes, and the raiders were to withdraw as soon as a
prisoner had been captured. In order to confuse the enemy great
quantities of coloured lights were sent up along the whole Divisional
front. The enemy were completely taken by surprise, although, as
subsequent examination of the prisoners proved, they had been warned
of the possibility of a raid. The right and left parties had not gone
far before they came upon several small shelters containing Germans.
These were at once bombed and two prisoners were quickly captured. At
the same time a machine-gun mounted on the parapet was taken, and the
team bayoneted. The gun itself was carried back to our lines by
Private Marshal of No. 1 Company. Lieutenant Clarke at once ordered a
withdrawal, as the object of the raid had been accomplished, and the
whole party returned safely with its two prisoners and machine-gun,
having been away for only twelve minutes. Somewhat later the enemy
retaliated with machine-guns, trench mortars, and artillery, but
caused no casualties, and finally the shelling on both sides died down
completely. The prisoners were identified as belonging to the 10th
Imperial Bavarian Regiment; one was a machine-gunner and the other an
orderly. A certain amount of useful information was elicited, but
their knowledge was naturally only local.

With the exception of this raid, nothing of importance occurred at the
beginning of March, until on the 12th Second Lieutenant G. H. Hanning
and Second Lieutenant H. M. Chapman were both wounded by the same
shell. Fortunately they were close to a dressing-station, and were in
the doctor’s hands within ten minutes. On the 13th an attack was
expected, and our artillery fired continual bursts of harassing fire
which brought retaliation from the Germans, during which one sergeant
and three men were wounded. The four days from the 14th to the 18th
were spent in the line, but proved uneventful, and on the 20th the 2nd
Battalion retired to Arras. Next day rumours of a successful German
offensive on a large front reached the Battalion, but nothing definite
was known. Shells fell in Arras, causing many casualties, and the town
began to be cleared of its inhabitants. On the 22nd Lieutenant P. V.
Pelly and fifty men who had been transferred from the Household
Battalion joined from the Reinforcement Battalion.

Further disquieting rumours with regard to the German advance were
repeated from mouth to mouth, and became so exaggerated that drastic
and often unnecessary measures were taken to prevent any stores from
falling into the hands of the Germans.

On the 24th preparations were made to relieve the 1st Battalion Scots
Guards in the Army line, from St. Leger running north towards Henin,
but in the afternoon these instructions were cancelled. It appeared
that the enemy had taken Gomiecourt, and was advancing towards
Courcelles. Lieut.-Colonel Rasch received orders to take up an outpost
line on the high ground south-west of Boiry, and went off at once with
the Company Commanders, to reconnoitre the ground and settle the
boundaries.

The following officers accompanied the Battalion:

     Lieut.-Colonel G. E. C. Rasch, D.S.O.        Commanding Officer.
     Capt. G. C. FitzH. Harcourt-Vernon, D.S.O.   Act.-Second in Command.
     Capt. A. H. Penn                             Adjutant.
     Capt. F. A. M. Browning, D.S.O.              No. 1 Company.
     2nd Lieut. H. B. G. Morgan                    ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. J. S. Carter                       ”       ”
     Capt. O. Martin Smith                        No. 2 Company.
     2nd Lieut. S. C. K. George                    ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. A. P. J. M. P. de Lisle            ”       ”
     Lieut. S. T. S. Clarke, M.C.                 No. 3 Company.
     2nd Lieut. F. J. Langley                      ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. the Hon. S. A. S. Montagu          ”       ”
     Capt. G. B. Wilson                           No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. J. H. Jacob                            ”       ”
     Lieut. D. Harvey                              ”       ”
     Capt. W. H. Lister, D.S.O., M.C., R.A.M.C.   Medical Officer.

All four companies were placed in the front line and told to find
their own supports, but two platoons of No. 1 Company were kept in
Battalion reserve. The line of resistance was just on the forward
crest of a slope. Patrols were at once sent out, and reported the
presence of several units of the Thirty-first Division, still holding
the line in front of the Battalion. In the early morning troops were
observed moving southward across the front, and these proved to be
units of the Thirty-first Division, who had received their orders too
late to withdraw under cover of the darkness. Later in the morning the
2nd Guards Brigade appeared on the right with orders to dig a line, in
continuation of that held by the 2nd Battalion, and to cover the
retirement of the rest of the Thirty-first Division. The remainder of
the Guards Division had had to conform to the retirement on the right,
by withdrawing during the night to a line which prolonged to the left
the new position taken up by the 2nd Battalion, so that at daybreak
all four Guards Brigades were in line between Boisieux-St.-Marc and
Ayette. During the morning several battalions of the Thirty-first
Division passed through the line on the left of the Battalion, and
retired to the rear. All the time the enemy were following close
behind, and about 7 P.M. Captain Martin Smith reported that 100
Germans could be seen advancing on the crest of a hill in front. They
were preceded by machine-guns, which at once opened fire on our
advanced posts, causing a few casualties. This advance on the part of
the enemy was, however, soon arrested by Lewis-gun and rifle fire, and
for the moment no action developed. As soon as it was dark, patrols
were pushed out, and the trench line was wired. At 11.30 P.M. that
night orders were issued for De Crespigny’s Brigade to relieve
Sergison-Brooke’s Brigade, the relief to be complete by 4.30 A.M. The
2nd Battalion relieved the 1st Battalion Coldstream astride the
Arras-Albert railway, with Nos. 1 and 2 Companies under Captain
Browning and Captain Martin Smith on the east side, and Nos. 3 and 4
under Lieutenant Clarke and Captain Wilson on the west side of the
railway line. The new position was difficult to hold, for, not only
did it include three sunken roads and a railway, but it was also
overlooked from the outskirts of Moyenneville and from high ground all
along the front, where a number of deserted huts could give cover to
snipers and machine-guns. During the night it was found necessary to
throw back the right of the line towards the supporting battalion,
which had to send up men to fill the gap made on the right by the
withdrawal of the Thirty-first Division.

[Sidenote: Mar. 27.]

Soon after dawn on the 27th the German infantry appeared, and
evidently intended to continue their advance. The whole method of
attack seemed to have been altered by the Germans. No longer did they
advance in close formation, and offer easy targets to their opponents.
They copied our methods, running forward by twos and threes, until a
sufficiently strong line of men had been built up for an assault, and
all the time feeling for a weak place in the British line. This new
method was difficult to counter in many ways, for not only was there
no target for our artillery but it entailed a great expenditure of
ammunition often with little result. On this occasion, however, the
new German tactics were not attended with any success, for the men of
the 2nd Battalion began shooting steadily and thinning out the enemy’s
ranks with great accuracy. The firing was soon universal down the
whole line, and the Germans found it impossible to make any headway
against the storm of bullets. All four companies had a great deal of
shooting, but especially No. 1 under Captain Browning, since it was
afforded an opportunity of enfilading the Germans, as they advanced
across its front. All the time the enemy’s shells fell on the
trenches, and No. 4 Company under Captain Wilson suffered severely.
Lieutenant D. Harvey was killed by a shell, and Captain Wilson was
badly wounded. About the same time Second Lieutenant de Lisle in No. 2
Company was also wounded. Under the storm of shells and bullets the
men found time to bring down one of the enemy’s aeroplanes which had
ventured down too low. The German attack did not progress in this part
of the line, and the chief thrust drifted farther to the south
opposite the 3rd Battalion Grenadiers and the 4th Guards Brigade.
Second Lieutenant Montagu was sent from No. 3 to No. 4 Company, the
latter having lost two officers.

[Sidenote: Mar. 28.]

The next morning No. 4 Company reported that its patrols had
discovered the enemy lining up within 100 yards of its trench; this
news was at once telephoned to our artillery, which soon dispersed
them with a wonderfully accurate fire. During the morning No. 1 and
No. 2 Companies were heavily shelled, and under cover of this barrage
and of machine-gun fire, parties of the enemy made continual efforts
to penetrate the line, but never even succeeded in reaching the wire.
The Germans had direct observation on the whole of our line, and their
shooting was consequently very accurate. On the other hand, their
abortive attacks over the open cost them dearly, and their losses must
have been very heavy. In the 2nd Battalion that day there were 22
killed and 42 wounded, among whom was Lieutenant J. H. Jacob.

[Sidenote: Mar. 29.]

The following day was quieter, as the main German attack was made
farther south, and advantage was taken of this lull in the offensive
to relieve some of the officers in the front line. Major the Hon. W.
R. Bailey went up to take the place of Lieut.-Colonel Rasch, and
Lieutenant Acland, Lieutenant Manners, Lieutenant Lubbock, Second
Lieutenant Sharpe, and Second Lieutenant Pelly replaced Captain Martin
Smith, Second Lieutenant Carter, and Second Lieutenant Montagu, who
went down to the first line transport for a rest. Forty other ranks
were also relieved every night in the same way.

[Sidenote: Mar. 30.]

After two hours’ very heavy shelling on the 30th, the Germans made two
very determined attacks on the Divisional front, but were repulsed
with heavy losses. These attacks were not directed against the portion
of the line occupied by the 2nd Battalion, which was not therefore
engaged. Later on, however, the enemy launched two faint-hearted
attacks on the Battalion, one up the railway, and the other west of
the railway, and about a dozen Germans succeeded in getting a foothold
in a post held by No. 3 Company, from which most of the occupants had
been blown by shell-fire. They were promptly ejected, and the post was
re-established. Lieutenant Manners and Second Lieutenant Langley were
wounded, and the total casualties that day were 10 killed and 35
wounded. In the evening Lieutenant Palmer was sent up to relieve
Lieutenant Clarke.

[Sidenote: Mar. 31.]

After a quiet day in the line on the 31st the 2nd Battalion was
relieved by part of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards and 2nd Battalion
Coldstream Guards, and went into Brigade Reserve, Nos. 2 and 4
Companies in huts near Boiry St. Martin, and the remainder of the
Battalion in a camp between Heudecourt and Blairville.


THE 3RD BATTALION

_January 1 to March 31, 1918_

[Sidenote: 3rd Batt. Jan.]

ROLL OF OFFICERS OF THE 3RD BATTALION AT THE BEGINNING OF JANUARY

     Lieut.-Colonel A. F. A. N. Thorne, D.S.O.     Commanding Officer.
     Major R. H. V. Cavendish, M.V.O.              Second in Command.
     Capt. the Hon. A. G. Agar-Robartes, M.C.      Adjutant.
     Lieut. C. H. Bedford                          Intelligence Officer.
     Lieut. E. W. Seymour                          Assistant Adjutant.
     Lieut. F. J. Heasman                          Transport Officer.
     Lieut. R. W. Parker                           Quartermaster.
     Lieut. E. G. A. Fitzgerald                    No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. W. Champneys                            ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. E. D. Tate                          ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. P. J. M. Ellison                    ”       ”
     Capt. L. Holbech                              No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. A. H. S. Adair                          ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. G. A. I. Dury                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. W. A. Pembroke                      ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. P. Durbin                           ”       ”
     Capt. N. C. Tufnell                           No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. A. C. Knollys, M.C.                     ”       ”
     Lieut. G. W. Godman                            ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. W. B. Ball                          ”       ”
     Capt. C. W. Carrington, D.S.O.                No. 4 Company.
     2nd Lieut. F. S. V. Donnison                   ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. C. L. F. Boughey                    ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. E. J. Bunbury                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. N. C. Bennett                       ”       ”
     Lieut. H. C. Fish, U.S.R.                     Medical Officer.
     Capt. the Rev. S. Phillimore, M.C.            Chaplain.

The 3rd Battalion went into the line near Fampoux from the 2nd to the
4th, placing No. 2 Company under Captain Holbech and No. 4 under
Captain Carrington south of the River Scarpe, with No. 3 under Captain
Tufnell north of the river, and No. 1 under Lieutenant Fitzgerald in
reserve. The front line was held by posts which were in good order,
but it was bitterly cold, and there was snow on the ground. After two
days in support the Battalion retired to Arras for eight days. On the
14th Lieut.-Colonel Thorne, in the absence on leave of the Brigadier,
took command of the Brigade, and Major Cavendish commanded the
Battalion. On the 17th the Battalion returned to the trenches. A thaw
having now set in, the trenches became mere drains, and required a
great deal of work to keep them habitable. The four days subsequently
spent in support were made unpleasant by the gas-shells, with which
the Germans searched the back area.

[Sidenote: Feb.]

After four more days in reserve the Battalion returned to the trenches
on February 1, when it came in for a severe bombardment with
gas-shells, which caused 104 casualties; most of these occurred while
the gas-shell holes were being filled in, as it had not been realised
before that there was any danger of gas-poisoning while the men
performed this work, and masks were therefore not worn. After the
usual four days in support and four days in reserve, the Battalion
began another tour of duty in the front trenches on the 15th. Patrols
went out every night under Lieutenant Bedford or Second Lieutenant
Durbin, to ascertain the effect of our trench mortar fire on the
enemy’s wire, in view of a raid being undertaken. After four more days
in reserve the Battalion again retired to Arras.

[Sidenote: March.]

The same routine was followed during the first three weeks in March,
and the days spent in the front line proved uneventful. Rumours of a
German offensive movement became more persistent every day, and it was
perfectly clear that in the course of the next week the enemy would
commence their great attack. Every possible precaution was therefore
taken, and the men in the front line were always looking out for any
sign of hostile movement. The German attack actually began at dawn on
the 21st, when the 3rd Battalion was in reserve at Arras. The
companies were marching off to do their training, when several shells
fell in the town, causing four casualties in No. 1 Company. Orders
were then received that there was to be as little movement as possible
in the town, so that training was confined to musketry and gas drill
carried out in the barrack-rooms. At 5.30 on the same evening the
Battalion was ordered to move at once to the Mercatel area. There it
remained the next day, ready to move at a moment’s notice, and the
Company Commanders took advantage of this pause to reconnoitre the
third system of trenches, in front of Neuville Vitasse and north of
Henin-sur-Cojeul. Meanwhile Brigadier-General Sergison-Brooke had been
gassed, and the command of the Brigade had devolved on Lieut.-Colonel
Follett.


OFFICERS WHO TOOK PART IN THE OPERATIONS AT THE END OF MARCH 1918

     Lieut.-Colonel A. F. A. N. Thorne, D.S.O.    Commanding Battalion.
     Capt. the Hon. A. G. Agar-Robartes, M.C.     Adjutant.
     Lieut. E. W. Seymour                         Assistant Adjutant.
     Lieut. E. G. A. Fitzgerald                   Intelligence Officer.
     Capt. R. W. Parker                           No. 1 Company.
     2nd Lieut. E. D. Tate                         ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. P. J. M. Ellison                   ”       ”
     Capt. L. Holbech                             No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. G. A. I. Dury                          ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. W. A. Pembroke                     ”       ”
     Lieut. G. F. Pauling, M.C.                   No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. A. C. Knollys, M.C.                    ”       ”
     Lieut. E. N. de Geijer                        ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. P. Durbin                          ”       ”
     Capt. C. W. Carrington, D.S.O.               No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. W. G. Orriss                           ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. N. C. Bennett                      ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. R. Van T. Ranney                   ”       ”
     Lieutenant H. C. Fish, U.S.R.                Medical Officer.

At 3 A.M. on the 23rd Lieut.-Colonel Thorne received verbal orders to
bring up the Battalion at once, and to relieve the remnants of the
93rd Brigade in the line, but on reaching Boyelles he found that this
Brigade had only just taken over the line and required no relief. He
therefore withdrew the front companies, Nos. 1 and 4, and placed them
in the support trenches, occupied by the West Yorkshire Regiment,
which consequently had to retire into reserve. This manœuvre was
carried out under heavy shelling, during which Lieutenant Seymour was
wounded. That evening No. 2 Company under Captain Holbech and No. 3
under Lieutenant Pauling went up into the front trenches, the
remainder of the Battalion being in support. The next day these two
companies moved back from the railway cutting, which was being heavily
shelled, and occupied the support trenches. The Germans could be seen
advancing by twos and threes with the object of forming a sufficiently
strong line to attack, but they were scattered by our rifle fire
before they could complete the assembly. At night patrols were sent
out to obtain identifications but were not successful, since the enemy
had had time to remove their dead and wounded.

[Sidenote: Mar. 25.]

It was reported that Ervillers had been taken by the Germans; and
there seemed every probability that the line held by the Guards
Division would have to be withdrawn. A retirement to the Adinfer line
being shortly expected, one officer per company was sent back to
reconnoitre these trenches. There was little doubt that the Germans
were massing their men in front of the line held by the 3rd Battalion,
and Lieutenant Pauling reported that they were dug in not fifty yards
away, dressed in pack order. The men were quite confident in their
ability to stop any advance on the enemy’s part, but it was essential
that the Guards Division should conform to the movements of the other
troops in the line. At 10 P.M. orders were received cancelling all
previous ones, and instructing the Battalion to retire to a new line
not yet dug. The withdrawal was carried out without hurry, companies
retiring at half-hour intervals, and the Lewis-gun sections remaining
till the end. The new trench line, composed of slits only, was at once
begun, and was completed by the next morning. During the withdrawal
Lieutenant Pauling and Second Lieutenant Durbin were killed by the
same shell. They were both first-rate officers who could be ill
spared, the former having already gained the Military Cross.

[Sidenote: Mar. 26.]

Nothing of importance occurred during the 26th, although the Germans
were seen in large parties in Hamelincourt and Moyenneville. All day
shells continued to fall, but no infantry attack developed.

[Sidenote: Mar. 27.]

On the 27th the 3rd Battalion was relieved by the 2nd Battalion
Coldstream Guards, and went into Divisional support, where it took up
a position in an old German line on the ridge just south of Boiry St.
Rictude with all four companies in the line. At 11 A.M. the East
Yorkshire Regiment, which was in the front line, was attacked by
Germans in mass formation, but held its ground. The enemy, however,
was able to creep round in rear and cut it off. This movement placed
the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards, on the right, in a perilous position,
and forced it to retire. All the time the German artillery shelled the
back area, and particularly the valley in which the 3rd Battalion
Headquarters was situated. As the East Yorkshire Regiment also
retired, the trenches held by the Battalion became the front line. The
Germans now determined to pursue their success, and advanced with
confidence towards No. 2 Company, but were met with an accurate and
steady fire from the Lewis and machine guns, which staggered them and
decimated their ranks. The fighting became general all along the line,
but although the Germans fought with great courage they were unable to
make any impression on the Battalion frontage. The casualties among
our officers were very high, Captain Parker and Second Lieutenant Van
Ranney receiving severe wounds from which they never recovered.
Captain Carrington, Lieutenant Knollys, Second Lieutenant Bennett,
Second Lieutenant Tate, and Lieutenant Fish, the American Medical
Officer, were wounded. Among other ranks the casualties were 30
killed, 90 wounded, and 4 missing. The attack now drifted down towards
the right, where the 4th Guards Brigade was posted, and the German
troops opposed to the 3rd Battalion did not appear to be anxious to
renew their attack. That night a somewhat complicated relief took
place. Nos. 3 and 4 Companies were relieved by two companies of the
13th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment; No. 3 passing into
support, and No. 4 relieving another company of the York and Lancaster
Regiment which prolonged the line to the right, and took the place of
No. 2 Company. Just before dawn No. 3 Company moved up to get touch
with the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards, and placed three platoons in
the front line with one in support. All these moves were successfully
accomplished by daybreak.

[Sidenote: Mar. 28.]

Although the Germans had lost very heavily in their attack on the
27th, they had not abandoned the idea of forcing back that part of the
line. Early the next morning a heavy barrage was put down by the enemy
on our trenches, and soon afterwards a force of about 200 Germans
attacked No. 4 Company and the 13th Battalion York and Lancaster
Regiment in four waves. So determined was this attack that the Germans
succeeded in getting into the posts in the front line. Lieutenant
Fitzgerald, who was in command of No. 4 Company, quickly organised a
counter-attack from the support platoon of the York and Lancaster
Regiment, and, having launched this, organised a second counter-attack
from the platoon in support of his own Company, which he led himself.
These counter-attacks were completely successful, and ejected the
enemy, who made haste to retire some 400 yards. In order to ensure the
stopping of the German attack, should it succeed, Captain Holbech had
in the meantime made a strong point in rear of No. 4 Company. Another
bombardment by the enemy seemed to indicate the imminence of a further
attack, but the evening passed off quietly, the shelling being merely
the fringe of the barrage, put down by the enemy farther to the right.
There were further casualties among the officers: Lieutenant Orriss
was mortally wounded, and Second Lieutenant Ellison was also wounded.

[Sidenote: March 29-31.]

The 3rd Battalion was then relieved by the 1st Battalion Scots Guards,
and went into Brigade Reserve. No. 3 Company remained in slits along
the ridge during the day of the 29th, but was withdrawn at night. On
the 30th the 3rd Battalion returned to the front line, but except for
a certain amount of shelling nothing of importance took place.


THE 4TH BATTALION

_January 1 to March 31, 1918_

[Sidenote: 4th Batt. Jan.]

At the beginning of 1918 the officers of the 4th Battalion were as
follows:

     Lieut.-Colonel W. S. Pilcher, D.S.O.         Commanding Officer.
     Major C. F. A. Walker, M.C.                  Second in Command.
     Capt. C. R. Gerard, D.S.O.                   Adjutant.
     Capt. M. Chapman, M.C.                       Intelligence Officer.
     Lieut. I. H. Ingelby                         Act.-Quartermaster.
     2nd Lieut. G. W. Selby-Lowndes               Transport Officer.
     Capt. H. H. Sloane-Stanley, M.C.             No. 1 Company.
     Lieut. E. R. D. Hoare                         ”       ”
     Lieut. C. E. Irby, M.C.                       ”       ”
     Lieut. E. H. Tuckwell, M.C.                   ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. R. B. Osborne                      ”       ”
     Capt. C. E. Benson, D.S.O.                   No. 2 Company.
     Lieut. the Hon. C. C. S. Rodney               ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. T. T. Pryce, M.C.                  ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. R. L. Murray-Lawes                 ”       ”
     Capt. G. C. Sloane-Stanley                   No. 3 Company.
     Lieut. the Hon. A. H. L. Hardinge, M.C.       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. D. J. Knight                       ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. C. J. Dawson-Greene                ”       ”
     Capt. B. C. Layton                           No. 4 Company.
     Lieut. F. C. Lyon                             ”       ”
     Lieut. N. R. Abbey                            ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. G. R. Green                        ”       ”
     2nd Lieut. R. D. Richardson                   ”       ”
     Captain N. Grellier, M.C., R.A.M.C.          Medical Officer.

On January 1 the 4th Battalion went by train to Athies, and moved into
the support line with three Companies near Northumberland Lane, and
one Company attached to the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.
Lieut.-Colonel Pilcher was at the time on leave, and the Battalion was
commanded by Major Walker. On the 5th three Companies were moved up
into the front trenches with one Company in reserve. On the following
day Company Sergeant-Major W. Stretton, Lance-Sergeant C. Hatton, and
Lance-Corporal W. Long, all non-commissioned officers of great
gallantry and experience, were killed by a Grenatenwerfer, while
Captain Layton of the same Company was wounded. There was a hard frost
followed by a heavy fall of snow, and a German mistaking his way in
the snowstorm walked into our lines, and was taken prisoner. On the
9th the 4th Battalion was relieved by the 1st Battalion, and retired
into the support line, where it remained till the 13th.

A thaw now began and caused much damage to the trenches in many
places, especially where they were not revetted. The following
officers joined the Battalion: Lieutenant T. W. Minchin, D.S.O.,
Lieutenant M. D. Thomas, Second Lieutenant M. P. B. Wrixon, and Second
Lieutenant R. M. Meikle. The four days spent in the front line from
the 13th to the 17th were a time of hard frost, followed by a thaw,
which made the trenches almost impassable. The enemy sent over a large
number of gas-shells, but thanks to the masks there were no
casualties. The Battalion was relieved by the 3rd Battalion Grenadier
Guards, and marched to Fampoux, where it entrained for Arras. There it
was placed in billets in the prison, with Battalion Headquarters in
the Rue Gaugières. On the 25th it was sent up as support Battalion to
the right sector, and came in for a heavy bombardment of gas-shells.
The trenches were now in a deplorable condition, and constant fatigue
parties had to be supplied for their improvement.

[Sidenote: Feb.]

On the night of February 2 a successful raid was carried out by
Seymour’s Brigade, and four prisoners were captured, but with this
exception there was little activity in the front line, and the work of
repairing the trenches was proceeded with unmolested. On the 5th the
Battalion again retired to Arras for a week’s rest, and occupied its
old billets. The Battalion transport, inspected by the Brigadier, was
reported to be the best in the whole Division, and Second Lieutenant
Selby-Lowndes, the transport officer, received great credit for its
high state of efficiency.

A decrease in the supply of men for the Army made it necessary to
reduce the fighting strength of divisions, and it was therefore
decided to reduce each brigade in the Army by one battalion. A new
Brigade, consisting of the 4th Battalion Grenadier Guards, 3rd
Battalion Coldstream Guards, and 2nd Battalion Irish Guards, was
therefore formed and placed under the command of Brigadier-General
Lord Ardee. It was with much regret that these Battalions had to leave
the Guards Division, in which they had fought for so long.
Major-General Feilding sent the following message to Lieut.-Colonel
Pilcher:

     I cannot tell you how sad I am that your Battalion should
     have to leave my Division. Throughout the time that the
     Battalion has been under my command it has maintained the
     great traditions of the Brigade of Guards.

     Formed as it was during the war, it was able at once to take
     its place equal in efficiency and smartness to any Battalion
     in the Division. It has been a great grief to me that I have
     not been able to be present to bid you farewell and thank
     all ranks for their services, and wish you all good luck in
     the future.



     [1] See 1st Battalion account.

     [2] Captain Sir A. Napier, Bart., was the only officer who
     had taken part with the 2nd Battalion in the operations on
     July 31.



END OF VOL. II


_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_.



Transcriber Note

Words and phrases in italics are surrounded by underscores, _like
this_. Obvious printing errors, such as spaces missing between letters
and final stops missing at the end of abbreviations, were adjusted.
Misspelled words and names were not changed.

Anchors and footnotes were numbered in sequence; notes were moved to
the end of the volume.

The illustration of The Earl of Cavan was moved to follow General
Order 73.





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