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War Diary, 2/18th London Regiment – April 1918

1st April.

The Battalion moved from bivouac at N21c81 about 0900 hrs and continued the withdrawal to Shunet Nimrin arriving in the vicinity of the wooden bridge at P24b about 1400 hrs. Rearguard dispositions for the purpose of covering the withdrawal of the force were taken up on arrival, the 2/20th London Regiment holding the high ground north of the Shunet Nimrin – Es Salt road (El Haud) and this Bttn astride the Jeria road.

A statement is attached hereto showing the name of all officers with the Battalion on this day, the effective strength of the battalion in the field and how distributed, the casualties sustained in the operations against Jericho in March and against Amman in March/April.

Nominal Roll of Officers with Battalion across the Jordan on April 1st 1918.

Lieut Col Norton DSO – Commanding.

Major AH Crabbe MC – 2nd in Command.

Captain E Manning (from the Royal Berks) – Commanding D Company.

Captain JS Crosby – Commanding C Company.

Captain TW Gray – Commanding A Company.

Lieut AF Cuolahan – Commanding B Company.

Lieut RD Gardner.

2/Lieut HE Dennis.

2/Lieut Caton.

2/Lieut Cohn.

2/Lieut Hall.

2/Lieut Davies (Wounded at Amman 30/3/18).

Lieut RH Battersby.

Captain JC Cross – Adjutant.

Lieut WS Antill – Intelligence and Scouting Officer.

Lieut WJ Thomas – Signalling Officer.

Rev D Hickey – RC Padre.

Liut AM Laurie – RAMC. RMC.

Casualties.

Crossing the Jordan. 21-22.3.1918.

Officers – Nil.

ORs: Killed – 3. Wounded – 21.

Attack against Amman 30.3.1918.

Officers – 2 wounded (1 at duty).

ORs: Killed -5. Wounded 10. Died of Wounds – 2.

Total Casualties for the whole operations from 20th March to 1st April – All ranks – 41.

Effective Strength of Battalion on 1st April: Officers -23. Other Rank – 685.

Strength of Battalion as it stood during operations east of Jordan: Officers – 18. Other Ranks – 548.


2nd April.

The rearguard of the 179th and 181st Infantry Brigades were through our rearguard line by 0430 hrs. The day was non eventful up to 1400 hrs when the withdrawal commenced. B Coy relinquished their position on Tel el Muia first, closed on the Jeria road and marched to the small hill south of the road and about 900 yards west from the wooden bridge, which was Brigade HQ. C Coy from Jeria Hill following next. Then A Coy passing through D Coy withdrew and finally at 1600 hrs D Coy withdrew. All companies (2 under the command of Major Crabbe MC and two independently) proceeded en route for Ghoraniyeh where a bridgehead position was to be taken up.

The withdrawal at Shunet Nimrin was carried out without incident as far as the bttn was concerned. We moved each time simultaneously with 2/20th London Regiment with whom visual communication by flag was maintained throughout at a distance of from 2500-3000 yards.

The Light Armoured Cars which assisted in the withdrawal opened machine gun fire about 1615 hrs but at what target it was impossible to see.

The Battalion took over the right subsector of the bridgehead defences at Ghoraniyeh on arrival at about 1800 hrs and held them with B and C Coys in the line. D in support and A Coy in Brigade Reserve. The night passed without incident.


3rd April.

Early in the morning mounted patrols of the enemy was observed pushing forward without caution. These were fired on by Vickers guns from the left subsector at a range of 2000 yards. The damage done was not apparent and the patrols returned.

By 1300 hrs, the Battalion had been relieved by the 1st Australian Light Horse and moved (2 companies under Major AH Crabbe MC and two independently) on route for bivouac at Kh Kakun. A hot day and a fatiguing march across the plain through Jericho. Battalion finally concentrated in bivouac about K31 at 1800 hrs.


4th April.

Battalion in bivouac – resting. Nothing of peculiar interest.

Weather – sultry.


5th April.

Battalion in bivouac at K31. Still resting.


6th April.

As for 5/4/18. Nothing particular of note.


7th April.

Moved to about K3 (113). The whole Brigade Group moved in reserve to the cavalry holding Ghoraniyeh Bridgehead and the Imperial Camel Corps who were holding the line of the Wadi Aujah. One platoon B Coy sent to hill in H27.


8th April.

Commenced training of specialists. Bttn in same place as for 7/4/18.


9th April.

Same place.  Bttn training.


10th April.

A platoon of D Coy sent to relieve B Coy at H27.  Later in the day, another platoon of D Coy sent to join the first. This post was held as a sort of liaison post between the right of the 74th Division and the left of the Camel Corps where there was a gap.


11th April.

Bttn training in same place.


12th April.

Bttn training in same place. Inspection of C Coy by the Commanding Officer.


13th April.

Bttn in same place. Training of specialists continued.


14th April.

As for 13th April. Nothing of peculiar note.


15th April.

Remainder of D Coy (under Captain Manning) moved to H27 more from a training point of view than a tactical one. The Commanding Officer inspected B Coy (Captain Tyler).


16th April.

Inspection of Battalion (less D Coy who were inspected separately) by Brigadier General CF Watson CB DSO. General turnout of bttn good considering the circumstances but many small points required attention.


17th April.

Same place. Training continued.


18th April.

The Battalion moved to about L4a at midday. The whole brigade took part in a demonstration, the role of the infantry being to cause much movement and dust etc. on the plain to give the impression of converging columns gathering for attack.


19th April.

Stayed at L4a all day. Enemy positions heavily shelled about Shunet Nimrin. Moved back to G10d camp in evening arriving about 0030 hrs on 20/4/18.


20th April.

The Battalion rested at G10d for the day. Advance parties with 6 lorry loads of stores were sent on to the new camping area near Jerusalem. The Division was now in Army Corps Reserve and was to be encamped near XXth Corps HQ situated on the Mount of Olives.


21st April.

Moved (commencing at 0330 hrs) to Jerusalem arriving about 1015hrs. Marching fair but obviously….


22nd April.

The Battalion now engaged in training of specialists and general refitting and … after a prolonged period of activity. Attention chiefly directed to ….of trained Lewis Gunners and Signallers.


23rd to 26th April.

As for 22/4/18.


27th April.

The Brigade moved on G10a where night of 27/28 was passed.


28th April.

Moved onto east of Jordan at El Ghorinayeh…Bivouacked in scrub.


29th April.

Bivouacked in scrub at about Q2b. Slight shelling and mortared – probable registration, Received orders for attack on enemy positions at Shunet Nimrin (Copy of Brigade Orders and Btn orders attached). Moved out to position of assembly.


30th April.

Bttn in reserve for the attack on Shunet Nimrin defences except for A Coy (Capt Manning) who were attached to 2/20th London Regiment. March forward about 0500 hrs at about P26a south of road in scrub. Remained here until 1845 hrs except B Coy under Capt Tyler which was despatched to support 2/20th London Regiment at about 1300 hrs. Remainder of bttn moved forward at 1845 hrs and 2/18th relieved the 2/20th in line as held on night 30/4/18 – 1/5/18. Enemy resistance 30/4/18 stubborn. Casualties were 1 officer wounded and 3 ORs killed and 26 wounded.