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War Diary, 1/18th London Regiment – October 1916

October 1st – Eaucourt L’abbaye.
Battalion moved to position of Assembly as follows – A Coy. M 34. B.8.8 to M 35 A.5.9. Bombers in Flag Lane less those attached 19th Bn. B Coy – Starfish, C Coy – Price Trench, D Coy – Cough Drop, Lewis Gunners – Flag Lane, HQ – Starfish.
Battalion was in assembly position by dawn. Signal Officer had got communication by wire to A, B & C Coys by 10.30am – D Coy was last in position to observe and were not laid on. By 12 noon, all Coys had reported their reconnaissance complete & were ready to move up to take over from or cooperate with either of the three front line Bns. At zero, report received & sent back Bde HQ all correct on front.
Zero + 10 report received “Troops gone over in good order, Flers Line taken.”
Zero + 15 Report all Coys “Smoke so thick that little can be seen” – looks as if held up in left & centre. Conflicting reports during following 4 hours.
Verbal order from Bde received upon which following order issued to Coys:- “Bn will move to position occupied by 19th & 20th Battalions M.28.A8.8 to M.29.A9.3. Order of Coys from right to left A.D.B.C. A & D Coys will move via trench. B & C via Sunken Rd to their new positions. Coy frontage roughly 200 yards. Report at once when in position. Bn HQ remain present position.” Time 4.7 pm (confirmation received from Bde 4.25)
On moving, Coys found considerable confusion, 17th, 19th & 20th having elements back in the trench D.B.I. Runners from two left Coys had difficulty in finding their way back in the dark to HQ & exact position not known till 8.30pm. A Coy first in position at 6.30pm. D Coy was delayed by 19th Bn who thought them a reinforcement but Coy reported in position at 7.30pm. C & D in position roughly at 6.30. Night very dark, early morning misty. Information received through Bde at midnight Flers front & Support lines were held in places by us but in parts enemy had strong points. Orders received to send 2 platoons & bombers to dislodge enemy from a strong point about M.23 c.8.1. Two platoons from A Coy & 1 Section of Bn Bombers attacked at 3.0 am & succeeded in taking this position which was double blocked & held. Communication very bad also ground. No operations before dawn. Patrols reported enemy holding front Flers line as far as our double block. D.B.I.


October 2nd – Eaucourt L’abbaye.
6.45am – 23rd Battalion attacked but without success. Orders received about 7.0am to attack as soon as possible.
Objectives (1) Flers front & support lines
(2) Line running NW of Eaucourt l’Abbaye along sunken Rd.
Message subsequently received to suspend attack. Conditions of D.B.I. very bad and overcrowded. Sniping very active apparently from derelict tank. In the afternoon the 18th Battalion closed up in waves but attack postponed. Patrols reported during night Flers line still occupied & wounded confirmed this.


October 3rd – Eaucourt L’abbaye.
Preliminary order – 18th Bn would attack.
Objectives:(1) Flers front & support line M.23 a.0.5 M.23 c.6.0
(2) a line west corner Eaucourt L’Abbaye to M.25 a.5.3 where part 19th & 20th were still holding a position in touch with Anzac Division on right.
Patrols reported lines lightly held and a patrol was sent out at 11.30am & on hearing from them that they penetrated Flers line without opposition authority was asked to push forward without barrage which was granted verbally at 2pm & at 3 o/c three Coys of the Btn went across in attack order. The fourth Coy sent up Crescent Alley at 3pm to form defensive flank. At first there was machine gun fire which ceased as advance developed and about 40 enemy gave themselves up to 50th Div. The enemy put barrage along the Flers line which caused some casualties but both lines were occupied by 3.45pm.
The two rear waves stayed here to consolidate & at 4pm the 1st & 2nd waves moved forward through the village. No opposition offered here and by 4.10 the objective had been reached.
Consolidation was carried on at once. Our line was formed up with that of 20th on night. Patrols were at once sent forward & established connection with 50th Div about M.22 b.2.1. The Flers front & support line had been vacated by enemy and sent back to Bde at 5.0pm asking for gap to be filled. Two Coys of the 17th Bn arrived at about 12.45am.
Heavy shelling by enemy all night.


October 4th – Eaucourt L’abbaye.
Enemy seen in large numbers on Butte de Warlencourt barrage called for with satisfactory results & again at 7pm their movements were suspicious and barrage put on satisfactorily.


October 5th – Bechcourt.
Bn was relieved by 6th Bn at 2.45am & moved into Bde reserve in Bechcourt.


October 6th – Bechcourt.
Left Bechourt for Mametz Wood.


October 7th – Francvillers.
Left Mametz Wood & arrived Franvillers by March Route.
Started at 2.30pm & arrived in billets at 11pm.
Captain S V Skevington & 300 OR’s were left behind and attached to 17th Batt as a working party.


October 8th to 13th – Franvillers.
In Corps reserve Franvillers resting.


October 14th/15th.
Left Franvillers by March Route for Albert & arrived there at 9pm for Longpres-les-Corps camp arriving there about 8pm night of 15th and marched to Bussus.


October 16th – Bussus.
In billets at Bussus.
Left Bussus by March route at 11pm for Longpres les Corps Saints Station.


October 17th – Wagenbruge/Steenvoorde.
Entrained at 6am for Northern area arriving at Caestre Station at 9pm & marched to billets in Wagenbruge (near Steenvoorde) arriving there about 11.30pm.


October 18th/19th.
In Wagenbruge.


October 20th – Scottish Camp.
Left Wagenbruge at 7.30am & moved over the frontier into Belgium arriving at Scottish Lines (near Ouderdom) at 1pm.
In Divisional reserve.


October 21st.
In Div. Reserve.
Training of specialists carried on with also NCO’s class.


From October 22nd to 25th.
In Div. Reserve.


October 26th.
Small hose respirators tried & tested.


October 27th.
Inspection by GOC 2nd Army at 12 noon.


October 28th.
In Div. Reserve. Bde Reserve.


From October 29th to 31st.
Btn moved into Bde Reserve. BNHQ & one Coy in Woodcote House. C Coy in Strong points. One Coy in Café Belge & one Coy in dugouts.