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War Diary, 1/18th London Regiment – August 1918

1st August.

Battn in Right Sub-sector of left Sector of Divisional front. American Officer arrived to take over in view of relief in the evening. The Brigadier General called in the evening. Acting on Operational Orders the 19th Battn 131 Regt. U.S.A. were met by our guide at Henencourt Chateau and relieved us in our Sector. Just before the relief the 19th Div on our left made a raid on the Sector left of the Hairpin which caused a certain amount of retaliation which delayed the relief momentarily. Relief was completed without a casualty. The C.O., I.O., Coy Commdrs & 10 men per Coy. C.S.Ms, and M.Is of L.Gs remained in for 24 hours with the American troops. The Battn marched back to Contay with halt at Warloy for tea. The last Coy “C” arrived at Contay at 7am. Casualties NIL.

2nd August – CONTAY.

In Billets. Coys cleaning up in the afternoon. The C O & other officers & men returned in the evening. The C O was ordered back to the line to take charge of Patrols etc on the Brigade front as it was thought that the Bosche were retiring or were likely to do so. He went back to H Q of the 3rd Battn 131 U.S.A. Regt. leaving here at 8pm with Lieut Vincent, M.C. Orders were received from Brigade for Battn to be ready to move at 1 hours’ notice.

3rd August.

In Billets at Contay. Warning orders to be ready to move at 1 hours’ notice to take over trenches of Support Battn 19th. Cleaning up and inspection during morning. News received that the Bosche were retiring all along the front and that his Patrols were in the outskirts of Albert.

The “Shamrocks” gave a performance at the Haymarket Theatre in the evening at 7pm. At 8pm orders were received to move up. The Battn marched out at 9.15pm with Band as far as Warloy and proceeded to the trenches occupied provisionally Carson, Wallaby, Murray & Wanzgo. Battn H.Q. in Bouzincourt – Millencourt Road as before. The relief was completed by 2.15am. Major Hughes, DSO, MC took over command of the 20th Battn. 2/Lt Roney “C” Coy went down sick. Lt Col Neely, MC still attached to the Americans. Capt E M Ellis MC temporarily in command of Battn. Several men were left behind sick under 2/Lt Martin who was also sick. Patrols reached the bank of the Ancre in Albert under directions of Lt Col Neely MC. Casualties Nil

4th August.

The Battn as for yesterday. The General called in the morning and said that we should be taking over the new front line tomorrow night. A working party for Australia Street – 2 Officers & 50 men from “C” & “D”. 2/Lt Stevens in charge. 2/Lt Shell went down sick. Lt Col Neely, M.C. called in on his way back to Brigade H.Q. 2/Lts Taylor & Hill rejoined the Battn from Battn Training Camp. Former to “C” Coy, latter to “D” Coy. 2/Lt Martin rejoined from Warloy. Lieut Vincent, MC, went down to Warloy on the way to Le Touquet for 10 days rest. Casualties Nil.

5th August.

The Battn as for yesterday. Acting on Operations Orders to relieve the 3rd Battn 131 U.S.A. Regt the C.O. reconnoitred the front in the morning and met Coy Commdrs who then reconnoitred their new positions. “C” & “B” Coys in the Bosche line and “A” & “D” Coys in Carey, Ward, Swan – North Boundary. Carey South Boundary Australia. Coys moved off at 9 pm. The relief was completed by 12.45 which was quick, as it was very dark and pouring with rain and the ground a swamp. Two Patrols of “B” Coy – 1 under 2/Lt Mackenzie & 1 under 2/Lt Vernon – 1 Sergeant & 15 OR’s each + 1 LG – went into Albert as far as the Ancre when the enemy were met on the father bank. They returned without casualties. Disposition : Battn HQ – Melbourne, Right Battn HQ – “A” Coy, Carey + OH in W.26.a, Ward + Swan in W.26.b – “D” Coy, Carey IN w.20. c & d & Swan in 20.a – “B” Coy in Bosche front line W.21 .d.2.1. southwards to Millencourt – Albert Road – “C” Coy in Bosche Support line from W.22.c.1.3. southwards to Millencourt Road. 2/Lt Martin at HQ as Infill Officer. Casualties Nil.

6th August – In Line.

The Battn as for last night. The Adjutant went round the front at morning stand-to. During the day the left Platoon of “C” Coy moved to a sub position N of Quarry in W.27.b & found touch with the right post of 19th Battn on Railway embankment at W.12.d.9.4. At midday Lt Col Neely, MC, 2 Lieut Mackenzie & a Patrol of 12 O.Rs with the GHQ Photographer proceeded to patrol Albert & were photographed in front of the Cathedral. The enemy were encountered in a fortified house at W. 21.c.7.3. a fight ensuing in the course of which we had one man killed & two wounded. Having located this post it was decided to send one Coy (“D”) to attack it & any others which might be located during the operation. The Coy left our line about 9.45 pm. 2 Platoons proceeding Millencourt – Albert Road, 2 Platoons via Bouzincourt – Albert Road. One Platoon under Lieut Keane proceeded across the wires up the road towards the objective followed about 100 yds by 2/Lieut Hall and one Platoon who were accompanied by Lt Col Neely, MC, & Capt Ellis, MC. A party of Bosche however came between the two Platoons and attacked 2/Lt Hall’s Platoon. They were dispersed by L.G. & rifle fire but not before they had killed Capt Ellis & wounded 2/Lt Hall with a bomb and killed 1 O.R. & wounded several with rifle fire. Lieut Keane met with heavy resistance from post and owing to impossibility of support from 2/Lt Hall had to withdraw. All casualties were carried back. 2/Lt Michael and his Platoon encountered no enemy. 2/Lt Baxter and his Platoon encountered a strong enemy post in a fortified house at W.29.c.9.2 from which he was fired by M.G. fire from the windows and rifle & bomb fire from the ruins around owing to which he had to withdraw, he himself being wounded – Total Casualties Capt A M Ellis MC killed, 2/Lts R W C Hall and J W P Baxter wounded, 2 ORs killed, 7 wounded, 1 missing.

7th August – In Line.

Battn in same position. A very quiet day. “C” Coy pushed outpost towards Railway Embankment to connect up with the 19th Bn. Lon Regt. 2/Lt Mackenzie with a patrol searched Albert to try and find traces of the missing man but only picked up a certain amount of equipment dropped by the wounded man. No patrols proceeded into Albert during the night as it was being bombarded with gas. 2/Lt Brookes joined the Battn for duty and was posted to “D” Coy.

8th August.

A quiet morning. Battn disposed as for yesterday. At 8 pm Albert was heavily bombarded with H.E., smoke and gas shells, M.Gs & L Gs continuing in the operation. Numerous fires were started. The bombardment ceased at 8.50 and our patrols went into Albert almost immediately. All Bosche had cleared out excepting two fortified posts which fired on our patrols. During the night the front line was subjected to a bombardment by 5.90 one every three minutes. Added to this our own 6 and 60 pounds were dropping short by old German 1 and 2.

9th August – In Line.

This bombardment continued during Stand-to with additional shelling by lighter guns. The remainder of the day was quiet. The Right Division carried out an attack which was plainly visible from our lines. It appeared to be most successful. Major Hughes joined the Battn in the line. Lt Keane returned to take command of Battn Training camp. 2/Lt Stamcourt took over “D” Coy. 2/Lt Martin proceeded to G Instructors Course. The 4 platoons at Battn training camp relieved another 4 platoons in the line. 2/Lt Ken proceeded to Training camp. 2/Lts Mainwearing and Mann joined from camp.

Lt Col Neely, MC, selected as one of representative party from Division to be inspected by HM The King on or about August 11th. 2/Lt Michael and one Platoon patrolled Albert. Only a few enemy encountered and they ran away.

10th August.

Battn disposed as for yesterday. Very quiet day with practically no shelling. Lt Col Neely left the line in the afternoon. Advance parties of 6th Northants arrived at 4pm to reconnoitre line. About 6pm the attack again started on the ridge between the Ancre and the Somme with continued success, the attack developing well to the rear of Albert to the E of Meaulte. The Battn relieved in the the line by the 6th Bn Northants, 34th Brigade, 18th Divn. Relief Complete. On completion of relief the Battn moved into Billets in Warloy.

11th August – WARLOY.

The Battn in billets at W. Battn paraded F.M.O. at 11.45 and moved by march route to Bois de Mai. Accommodation bad. No bivouacs – only tents for HQ Officers. Warning order received of probable move to line to relieve 58th Division. Invading E A passed overhead during night, no bombs dropped in close vicinity.

12th August – BOIS DE MAI.

The Battn accommodated in Bois De Mai. The morning spent on organising Coys for the line, leaving out the Battle Supplies personnel who proceeded to Battn Training camp. The C O had a talk with Coy Cmmdrs, Platoon Sgts, CQMS & Platoon representatives. Battn concert in the evening at 6pm with the aid of a piano borrowed from the Australian YMCA. Some 2000 attended amongst whom was the Brigade Commander. Orders received for move tomorrow to relieve Reserve Bde – 58th Bde. Incoming aerial activity not very great.

13th August.

Battn in bivouacs in Bois de Mai. Battn moved by Route march from Bois de Mai to bivouacs in J.10 (Sheet 62 D NE). Route Querrieu – Lanousssone – Franvillers – Heilly. The whole Battn arrived in good order at about 5.30pm, only one man having fallen out on route. Accommodation at first bad; only a small number of bivouac sheets and tents in a wood. Good accommodation however was found in a bank for Bn HQ & 2 Coys. Transport lines & QM Stores at Bonnay. During the night a Giant Gotha descended about 1000 yds from Battn HQ and was badly damaged in doing so, 3 Germans being killed and one escaped untouched.

14th August.

Battn in bivouacs, shelters & dug-outs at J.13. The men bathed in river Ancre & afterwards were issued with clean clothing. Men employed on cleaning up the Battn area. Hostile aircraft dropped bombs in the vicinity of camp after dark. No casualties

15th August.

Battn in bivouacs etc at J.13. Battn paraded at 9.15am. Ceremonial drill until 11am after which Coys were at disposal of Coy Cmmdrs. Remainder of day spent in rest.

16th August.

Battn situated as for 15th. Battn carried out attack on the high ground running from the Brickworks 3 of Heilly to the Chess Board Woods. During the afternoon most of the men bathed in the river Ancre, the weather being the hottest yet experienced. The attack was repeated at 6pm.

17th August.

Battn as yesterday. Battn paraded at 9.15 am during which the General Sir A J Gooley, KCB, KC, MC, the Corps Commander arrived in a car and held an improvised inspection of the Battn. He was very pleased indeed and particularly admired the flashes and green cuffs of the Rifles. After the Inspection Coys were handed over to Coy Commdrs for training. Remainder of day spent in rest.

18th August.

Sunday. Battn church parade at 10.30am. The Brigadier was present and the Battn marched past. The afternoon was devoted to cricket, a match being played between the Battn Teams and Transport Section, the latter winning by 9 runs.

19th August.

Battn carried out a Tactical Exercise on same ground as on 16th inst. The “Shamrocks” gave an open air concert which was highly appreciated by the troops. Operational Orders received for Battn to move forward to relieve 17th London Regt.

20th August – SUPPORT.

Coys carried out Tactical Scheme in the morning and prepared for move in the evening. Battn moved forward in accordance with O Os and relieved the 17th London Rifles in Support at area W of Taille Wood.

21st August – SUPPORT.

Battn situated as for last night. Enemy artillery reached all ground with short bursts but caused no casualties. Preparation for attack by 47th Div in conjunction with 12th Div on our left and an Australian Division on the Right. The 141 Inf Bde attacking on the 47th Divl front, 19th Londons on left, 20th Londons on right, 1st London Irish Rifles in support.

22nd August.

The Battn moved forward to the assembly position marked xxxx at 2am 22nd inst, Battn HQ moving forward at the same time left Coy HQ, left Battn about K.H.b.8.7. The assembly was made under continuous and heavy shell fire from the enemy who it was afterwards discovered had been warned of the attack. Casualties during assembly, 1 officer 2/Lt Mackenzie wounded and about 25 ORs killed and wounded.

The Battn moved forward to the attack at Zero, 4.30am following 500yds in rear of the leading Battns. The enemy put down a very heavy gas and HE barrage on the Old British Lines at ZERO and for two hours following. The attack progressed forward and the objective (marked in blue map A) were all gained by 7am

The Left Coy, Left Battn lost all its officers and their men wavered. Lieut C R C Vincent then moved forward, took command and led them to their objective and remained there. Battn HQ moved forward with 142 Inf Bde at 5.25 am. Tanks of this Brigade lost direction badly

7 am Happy Valley was mopped up by 3 Platoons of “D” Coy and 1 Platoon of “A” Coy after 142 Inf Bde had passed through same. These platoons captured 3 Officers (including Battn Cmmdr) and 103 ORs. On completion of this the platoons withdrew and filled a gap which had been left behind 13th Div and 19th London.

4 pm At 4pm the enemy heavily shelled the 142 Inf Bde and then attacked driving them back. Some considerable numbers withdrew through the front line to the support positions; these men were collected by Battn HQ and were aligned W of Brown Line. Many gaps in Brown Line, but secure. Three Platoons 1st London Irish Rifles with additions from 142 Inf Bde and 12th Div now pushed in and held Brown Line as far as Forked Tree.

5.30 pm Gassing back in Happy Valley. Brown Line of consolidation held in trench with 12th Div. Gaps on Right of Forked Tree.

9 pm     Conference of COs. Afterwards COs L I R and 17th London reconnoitred and found enemy still E of Bray – Meaulte Road and own line running south of same from Pear Trees.

22nd/23rd August.

Midnight Battns, 140 Inf Bde and 20th Bn formed front line. 17th Battn left, 20th Battn centre, 15th Battn Right. L I R withdrawn to own positions in support.

23rd August.

10.45 am Right of 17th Battn move back across L I R and to their rear, thus placing Right, Centre L I Rs in front line. 19th Battn had, however, just been ordered to push up.

Enemy establishing M G and rifle posts in Bray – Meaulte Road. Lieut Vincent and one Platoon of “D” Coy who were forward of the Bray – Meaulte Road, with position of 19th Battn earlier in the day, then withdrew W of main road.

Enemy artillery continued very active all through the day on line of main road. During the evening orders were received that the 141 Inf Bde was to make good the line of the main road to enable the 140 Inf Bde form up for their attack on the Green Line. This operation was cut by 50 ORs per Coy at 10pm and was entirely successful, resulting in the capture of 2 officers and 65 ORs and 7 M Gs. The Battn remained on the line and consolidated.

The 140 Inf Bde passed through the Bde to attack the Green Line.

24th August.

At 1am, 24th inst all objectives were gained but very heavy shell-fire caused elements of the 140 Bde to withdraw. These men were however collected by the L I R and taken forward to their original position. The enemy continued shell our positions very heavily. The Battn remained in the same position on the Brown Line all day.

25th August.

The 58th Divn continued the attack beyond the Green Line at 2.30 am. Enemy found to have returned leaving pockets of MGs to hold up our advance. Battn moved at dawn to position E of Bray Meaulte Road from F.27.b.2.9 – F.20. d.1.5 (62 D NE). The 141 Inf Bde after being under order of GOC 58th Div for the past 24 hours returned to the command of GOC 47th Div which Division then became Division in Corps Reserve. Battn HQ in an old German Right HQ and Battn in old German shelters. For the remainder of the day the Battn rested whilst the Band collected salvage and buried the dead. The cookers, LG limbers and riding horses joined the Battn in this area having lines in Hapy Valley.

Casualties from August 22nd to date: Officers wounded 7, being Lieut Col Neely MC (at duty), 2/Lt A F Mackenzie, 2/Lt L A Mann, 2/Lt E Michael DCM, 2/Lt R D Vernon, Lieut O R C Vincent MC, 2/Lt A H Farrant (gassed). ORs killed and wounded 204.

The GOC Division and the Brigade Commanders visited the Battn during the day and congratulated the Commanding Officers on the success of the Battn during the previous days fighting.

26th August.

Battn in same position. Slight shelling of Happy Valley during the day. 2/Lts Hill, Simpson & Hammone joined the Battn. Lieut Macdonald reported to the Transport Lines

27th August.

Battn in same position. Still slight shelling principally in direction of the Copse. All MGs captured from the enemy were cleared from forward dump and sent down to trophy park. Total 63 light and heavy MGs and 6 TMs also a few anti-tank rifles. The CO inspected Coys during the morning, the remainder of the day being spent in reorganisation and refitting by shoemakers and tailors. The Battn proceeded by Coys in the afternoon to the Somme at Enay to bathe. During the night the Platoons from Molliens-au-Bois rejoined the Battn and about 15 men from Coys and HQ were sent back to Transport Lines as Battle Surplus for a rest.

28th August.

Lt Keane rejoined the Battn and relieved the Adjutant Capt T E G Carless for a rest. The CO and Adjt proceeded to the Transport Lines at Mericourt L’Robe calling at Bde HQ on the way. In general a systematic sorting out of all men was carried out and a party of 42 men were immediately sent up to join the Battn. The CO returned to the Battn about 6pm, the Adj remaining for the night. Capt Carling and 2/Lt Martin rejoined the Battn and Lieut RICKS went sick (gassed).

29th August – FAVIERE WOOD.

The Battn moved from the Green Line to Faviere Wood in the evening, stopping at Carnoy on the way for teas. Orders were suddenly received in the morning for Transport Lines to move to a position ½ mile N of Mametz, move to start at 2pm. At 1.30pm a draft of 200 ORs arrived. They were roughly posted to Coys, 50 to each Coy, a sergeant from Battle Surplus taking charge of each Coys draft, Lieut Macdonald taking charge of the whole having had tea, the draft followed the Transport which had already moved to Mametz. The Adjutant riding on ahead found out location of Battn and moved forward in the evening via Marincout with the rations to join it again. A quiet night was spent in an Artillery HQ in the wood.

30th August.

At 6.50am orders were received for a move at once as the 47th Div were to move forward through the 12th Div, the 142 Inf Bde forming the advanced guard, the 141 Inf Bde being in support. The Battn moved across country in artillery formation

A       C

D       B

and took up a position NE of Maurepas Ravine. Battn HQ and A Section Transport being in the Maurepas Ravine. This position was reached about 8.45 am. At 1pm orders were received for 141 Inf Bde to move forward through Hospital Farm to fill gap which existed there between 142 Inf Bde and 58th Div. The Bde moved about 2pm as follows:- 20th Battn in front, L I R in support, 19th Battn in Reserve. The Battn moved in Artillery formation “C” Coy on Right, “A” Coy on Left, “B” Coy in Support through Le Forest and took up a position at 4.10pm SW of Hospital Farm with “A” Coy in Hospital Farm The Battn came under very heavy fire from 5 9s firing with open sight from the direction of Ardelo Wood as they came down the slopes of Maurepas Ridge to Le Forest. There was however, no wavering and on account of this the casualties were small. On arrival at the position it was found that the gap had already been filled by 4th Suffolks Princess Battn, 58th Divn. At 6.30pm orders were received for the Bde to side slip to the North taking up a position S of Ardelo Wood and in rear of 142 Inf Bde. These orders were, however, cancelled shortly after and new orders received confirming the attack in the morning 31st at 5.30am in conjunction with 142 Inf Bde on the left and 58th Div on the right the objective being the line of the Hancourt – Bouchavesnes Road.

31st August.

The 1st L I R to be the Left Battn, 20th Battn, Right Battn, 19th Battn in Support. The Battn formed up at ZERO- 1 Hour to a line running S about 200 yds W of Hospital Farm. “A” Coy on Left, “C” Coy on Right, with “D” Coy Left Support, “B” Coy Right Support. A gap of about 1000 yds had been purpose left 142 Bde and 141 Bde. This gap was supposed to be covered by M G fire but this the M Gs failed to do. The Battn gained their objective but lost heavily in doing so, 60% of the casualties however being caused by our own barrage which was very short.

11am    The enemy shelling was very heavy all the morning and at 11am the enemy counter-attacked and, although stopped in front succeeded in affecting judgement in the gap between the 142 Inf Bde and our left. “A” Copy of the 19th Battn led by Lt T I Jones MM and OC Coy counter-attacked successfully, drove out the enemy and captured 25 prisoners. Heavy shell & M G fire continued all day and caused heavy casualties.

5pm      At 5pm posts had been established in the Hancourt-Bouchavesnes road but Hancourt still being uncaptured by the 142 Bde sniping and M G fire continued active. The enemy continued to push in all the afternoon and evening on the left of the Battn and counter-attacked 4 times in all. The Battn was relieved during the night by the 19th Battn London Regt and withdrew to Needle Wood to reorganise.