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War Diary, 2/18th London Regiment – December 1917

Dec 1st

The Bttn less B Coy at Neby Samwil. B Coy at Beit Surik. Very quiet day.

After dark, Bttn was relieved by 2/24. Bttn under Lt-Col Crosbie. Relief completed about 2245 – Bttn moved into bivouac at Kubeibeh into Brigade Reserve under BGC 181 Infantry Brigade – Bttn Rear H2 shelled during the day at Kubeibeh- 3 ORs slightly wounded and 7 camels killed. B Coy rejoined from Beit Surik.

Dec 2nd.

Bttn in bivouac at Kubeibeh near the Latin Hospice – Peaceful day and men resting.

Dec 3rd.

Bttn resting at Kubeibeh.

Dec 4th.

Bttn resting at Kubeibeh- weather fine and bright.

Dec 5th.

1200 – Bttn at Kubeibeh.

1400 – Moved to bivouac ground just west of Kurvet el Enab, moving via Kattanneh. Wind round to south west blowing from sea – cloudy and overcast with slight rain at midday.

Dec 6th.

Bttn resting except officers’ reconnoitring.

Dec 7th.

Bttn resting at Enab – very wet day. Left Enab at 1500 in heavy rain for position of concentration T27 C82 north of Kustel.

Dec 8th.

Bttn marched from Pt T27 C82 north of Kustel at 0015 and carried out night advance preparatory to an attack at dawn on the enemy works known as Heart and Liver Redoubts (B6 and Y25). Bttn reached Kulonieh without mishap, moving down the Wadi bed just north of Kulonieh – Ednab main road and parallel to it about 0300. The leading coys heavily machine gunned at the Wadi crossing at B5a. Bttn pushed on getting into position of deployment about 0445. Lt Willis killed and 4 medical orderlies hit by MG fire. Lt Toms mortally wounded during advance from Heart Redoubt. 1st objective taken at 0545. 2nd at 0605.

Read more here.

Dec 8th/9th

Bttn holding an Outpost Line from Y25c central in a SE direction on line of Jerusalem Rd to pt H2a  – In truck with 2/17 on right and 74 Div on left compositions of Coys. D Coy and B less two platoons H2c. Two platoons B Coy H16. C and A Coys in Heart Redoubt with A extended to main Jerusalem Rd north of Redoubt. Bttn HQ in Heart Redoubt. Night fine and light – cold – …all night. Captures during the operations: C Coy – 1 MG, 6 prisoners (including 4 wounded). A Coy – 5 officers (2 Doctors), 40 ORs (4 wounded). Total prisoners – 51.

Own casualties:

Officers – Lt Willis (killed) Lt Toms (died of wounds).

Sgts – Sgt French (killed).

ORs – Rfn Wills, Tribe (killed). 8 wounded. 1 died.

Total – 14.

Dec 9th.

Situation at 0800 hours – Bttn holding Outpost Line as detailed for 8/9. At 1200 Bttn moved forward Jerusalem surrendered to BGC 180 Brigade. Bttn moved into north-west outskirts of Jerusalem (H 10 & 4 1/20000). Reached point Y296 in the Wadi in Somar and bivouacked for the night being the Bttn in Brigade Reserve. Heavy rain again at night and cold.

Casualties – Sgt …. B Coy wounded in head. Bttn HQ established in an old tomb.

Dec 10th.

Bttn in bivouac about Y26b. At 1200, moved back to Jerusalem and went into billets being relieved by 179 Brigade in line.

Dec 11th/12th.

Bttn resting in billets.

Dec 13th/14th.

Bttn resting in billets. Visited by General Shea (GOC 60th Division) who made a short speech.

Dec 15th.

Bttn resting in billets. At 1245, Bttn moved to Pt 17A and relieved 2/14th Bttn (Lt Col ) in the line – line held Jerusalem-Nablus road to Wadi ed Dunn in Y10C both inclusive. The 10th Buffs on front line, C and D in support – left and right support coys respectively.

Day very quiet. Light enemy shelling, no sniping.

Dec 16th.

Bttn holding front line from Jerusalem-Nablus road to Wadi ed Dumm (Y10c). Following honours confirmed: L/Cpl Gregory DCM; Sgt Soper and Cpl Bone, Rfn Burrows and MacLabbee MMs.

Dec 17th.

Bttn holding front line from Jerusalem-Nablus road (incl) to Wadi ed Dumm (incl). Day quiet. Received orders to occupy Khurbet Adaseh (W34 central) by 0700 on the 18th. Lt Oliver, Sgt Henderson and 22 ORs detailed for this. Khurbet Adaseh was to be occupied to …..of a reconnaissance being carried out of ground north of Shafat

Night – Lt Oliver party attacked at dawn 18th – occupied the hill but were casualties – attacked and driven off by a superior force of the enemy. Casualties – Lt Oliver and 10 ORs wounded. 1 wounded and missing. 1 missing.

Dec 18th.

Bttn holding same line. Heavy enemy shelling from 0630-0745 on forward coys, A and D. Heavy rain towards evening which continued at intervals throughout the night. The following officers rejoined: Lts Brayden and Thompson. Draft of 1 officer (Lt Drake) and 50 ORs arrived and posted to coys. Orders received that 2/19th relieves 2/18th on Dec 19th.

Dec 19th.

0600 – Bttn still in line as before. Weather cold with heavy rain and showers up to midday. During the afternoon, the Bttn was relieved in the line by the 2/19th Bttn. Relief complete by 1745. The Bttn moved into Brigade Support occupying area vacated by 2/19th Bttn (Y23 central). Heavy rain again at night.

Dec 20th.

Bttn in Support at Y23 central. Day quiet. Heavy rain practically all day. Conditions very uncomfortable owing to the mud and want of shelter for the men.

Dec 21st.

Bttn in Support at Y23 central. Day quiet. Heavy rain practically all day.

Dec 22nd.

Bttn in Y23 central. Weather fine but sill cold. Received order to attack Khurbet Adaseh in W34 central. Coys started off at 2300 hrs for position of assembly in Y11 and 88 (B, C and D). A Coy in Reserve ay Y17.  Night strong and boisterous with moon up till abut 0100.

Night Dec 22nd/23rd.

B, C and D moved off from Point of Assembly (Y11 and 88) about 0300 hrs and deployed for the attack at dawn. Enemy opened heavy MG fire at 0555 and the coys failed to take the hill at dawn. Fight lasted until midday when the bttn withdrew having suffered heavy casualties. Lts Whyte, Burke and Brayden killed. Lt Godsill wounded and missing. Wounded Capts Diamond and Cousin, Lts Thompson, Bisset and Drake. Estimated casualties among ORs – 130 (killed, wounded and missing).

Dec 23rd.

At 1200, Bttn ordered to concentrate at original bivouac area in Y23 central. Following officer returned with the Bttn: Lt-Col Norton, Lt Crosby, Lt Gardner, Chaplain Hickey (CF), Capt Hardcastle RAMC T.The bulk of the Bttn back in bivouac area about 1900. Weather boisterous and wet.

Dec 24th.

Bttn relieved in Y23 central and went into billets in Jerusalem to reorganise etc on relief by 2/14th Bttn (London Scottish). Occupied same billets as previously. Weather still cold. Boisterous and strong.

Dec 25th.

Bttn in billets in Jerusalem. Cold and boisterous day. Standing to at half an hour’s notice to move.

Dec 26th.

Bttn in billets in Jerusalem. Weather – heavy rain all day. Under half an hour’s notice to move.

Capt Standrick rejoined from hospital. Draft of 1 officer (Lt Battersby) and 79 ORs posted reported and posted to coys. Capt Murray of 3rd Cheshires reported attached for duty. Bttn was addressed about 0945 by General Shea and copy of speech taken for record. Sgt Henderson presented with MM for gallantry on patrol at Khurbet Adaseh. Following officers awarded MC for Dec 8th/9th: Lts Whyte and Gray. Sgt Kelly awarded MM.

Dec 27th.

Bttn in billets in Jerusalem. Weather fine and sunny. Still under half an hour’s notice to move. Turks launched heavy attack along Divisional front during early hours of morning – again at about 1330. All attacks repulsed. Bttn did not move from its billets or participate in counter attack.

Dec 28th.

0700 – Bttn in billets in Jerusalem. Message received that enemy were retiring northwards. Hurried conference of COs at Brigade HQ. Affairs did not assume a definite aspect till noon when the Brigade received orders to move. Bttn moved at 1330 to V28d. at 1600, Bttn ordered to move to a new position of concentration at Y11 a99 and to act as support to 2/19th Bttn who at dusk were to advance and seize the high ground known as Whale Back Hill Y28. At 2230, Bttn moved forward (2/19th having seized Whale Back Hill) to new position about Y35 central. Ordered to remain stationery till further instructions. At 1700 hrs, the 179 Brigade occupied Khurbet Adaseh without opposition. Chaplain Hickey and search party sent out once to endeavour to identify and bury our dead left on the field after Lt Oliver’s fight on 18th December and also the attack on 22nd/23rd December. Fifty bodies recovered.

Dec 29th.

0700 – Received orders to move forward supporting 2/19th Bttn, moving on Nasbeh (2nd bound). Advanced by main Jerusalem-Nablus road and reached Nasbeh at 1030 and reported to 2/19th then holding Nasbeh. 2/20th on high ground east of road and north of Kafi Akab. 2/23rd on left advancing on Bireh. At 1140, orders received to relieve 2/19th on Nasbeh. 2/19th to assist 2/20th in an attack on the high ground about U35a central and which attack was carried out successfully about 1500. At 1505, received message to meet BGC at Bethn Bridge W5a50. Ordered to concentrate the bttn and make an attack on left of 2/19th – viz between 2/19th and just east of Bireh in conjunction with 2/23rd advancing on Bireh. All coys ordered to concentrate as quickly as possible at point V5a05. Bttn concentrated and ready to advance at 1730. In the meantime, situation had changed – the 2/23rd had advanced on Bireh and to the ground on the line Ras el Tahuneh-Bireh-Khar-Jebel-el-Tawil–U29c-U35b cleared of the enemy. Brigade Order No 120 received in confirmation of verbal instructions already given by BGC – Bttn advanced at 1800 – route taken U35 central thence along wadi in U35a – to tomb in U29a. Owing to darkness and very tough going, the Bttn abandoning all animal transport did not concentrate at tomb (U29a) until 2015. At 2115, the advance was continued on a bearing 34 degrees true on Beitin – high ground in U17d and U18d secured by A and D Coys with opposition about 0030. Advance continued at 0140 on Beitin. B Coy (Capt Murray Advance Guard) with C Coy (Capt Standrick) in support.

At 0330, B Coy occupied high ground at U18a26. At 0400, C Coy had reached point U12d52 and reported all clear. Touch was gained with 2/23rd on El Balur. At 0430, dispositions were as follows: C Coy on high ground 300 metres south of Beitin village – B Coy ditto – A Coy on high ground 200 metres north of B in tombs in U18a. Bttn HQ and D Coy at point U18c central. The Bttn accomplished a fine night advance in the face of big obstacles in the nature of steep ravines and rough and rocky terrain, marching continuously for 10 hours. All LGs and ammunition were man handled throughout and not one man fell out. No opposition was encountered. Night quiet generally.

Dec 30th.

Bttn holding line as stated above. At 0100 hrs, B Coy was withdrawn to Support position with Bttn HQ on one sub section MBC arriving in the line. At dusk, D Coy moved forward from Support to Beitin – parts of 2 platoons each from A and D Coy established respectively at U12 and 81and Burj-Beitin at pt 2900 in V13a. Day quiet on Divisional front. No rain although cold and overcast throughout the day. Chaplain Hickey rejoined from Khurbet Adaseh having found 51 bodies and buried 9 including Lts Burke, Brayden, Godsill and Whyte.

Dec 31st.

Bttn in line holding Beitin sector. Owing to unsuitability of present line as held, yesterday dispositions were made to occupy the ground further in advance. Dispositions at 1800 hrs as follows: A and D Coys (less two platoons) holding high ground U12 central- B Coy U 126 central – high ground V1c93. C Coy high ground V7b09 – V8a43. Two platoons D Coy holding Burj-Beitin V13a79 (pt 2900, Bttn HQ at Aimessultan U18c – 2/23rd Bttn holding U11 central on left. 2/17th Bttn on right. Day quiet – no shelling or sniping.