Home » First World War » War Diaries – First World War » War Diary, 2/18th London Regiment – March 1918.

War Diary, 2/18th London Regiment – March 1918.

1st March.

Battalion holding line. B and C Coys in line on right and left respectively. Approximate front from G17d to G12a. D Coy on plain by Jericho as escort to 60 pounder battery. A Coy at G11d82. Bttn HQ at G11c38.

2nd March.

Dispositions as for 1st Mar.

3rd March.

D Coy returned from Jericho plain and took up normal position as right support company. Otherwise, dispositions as for 1/3/18. Support Coys providing working parties for RE.

4th March.

A Coy sent as escort to 60 pounder guns on Jericho plain. Other dispositions unchanged. D Coy working on water supply under RE.

5th March.

D Coy moves to A Coy’s old camp as left support coy. A composite half company consisting of 30 men from B Coy and 20 men from C Coy under command of Lt Hurley and Lt Cuolahan left for K3 preparatory to a reconnaissance in conjunction with 2/17 London Regiment of the Wadi Nueiameh as near to the Jordan river as possible. Other dispositions unchanged.

6th March.

Reconnaissance carried out under Major AH Crabbe. Remainder of bttn disposed as for 3/3/18.

7th March.

Composite half company remain on plain. Both S units under Lt Antill return to camp. Other dispositions unchanged.

8th March.

Composite half company return to camp.

Other dispositions unchanged.

9th March.

Battalion no disposed as followed:

B Coy in right sub sector of line. C Coy (less two platoons) in left sub sector. Two platoons on Jericho road about Kh Kakun guarding approach. D Coy in reserve about … 300 men supplied as working parties on road and water distribution.

10th/11th March.

Dispositions as for 9th March 1918.

12th March.

Showery and hot.

13th/14th March.

Dispositions as for 9th March 1918.

Bttn holding the line.

15th March.

Guard of Honour of 100 men for XXth Corps HQ. The Guard is for HRH The Duke of Connaught, his presentation of medals in Jerusalem. Capt JS Crosbie commands the Guard and LT CS Williams with 2/Lt Caton are his officers. The Guard is composed of 70 Other Ranks from C Company and 30 Other Ranks from B Company.

16th March.

Dispositions as for 9th March 1918.

Orders for operations against ES Salt and the Hejaz Railway at Amman received late on 15th March 1918. Operations to commence on 20h March 1918 (‘Z’ Day)

17th March.

Orders issued for operations. Bad weather. Heavy rain clearer towards evening.

18th March.

Move as arranged cancelled owing to bad weather causing Jordan to overflow. Wadis full of water. Wadi Kelt a torrent. Stayed in position as for 9th March.

19th March.

No move made. Weather greatly improving. Dispositions unchanged.

20th March.

Battalion received order to move at 1245 hours. Bttn moves at 1345 owing to various delays in issue of stores from dump. Caps at Kh Kakun for the night 20/21.

Weather is very hot, blue sky. Sun helmets issued and taken in to wear.

21st March.

Battalion stayed in bivouac at Kh Kakun until 1800 hrs. On preparing to move in accordance with Order 85, however orders were received to “stand by”. After waiting until about 1930 hrs, the Bttn received orders to move to Makhadet Hajla without delay and to operate with the 2/19 London Regiment at that place. The new scheme was for the 2/19th, after forcing the crossing of the Jordan, to hand over the defence of the bridgehead to this bttn. The 2/19th was then to push out north towards Ghoraniyeh. Battalion arrived at Kusr Hajleh (N10a) at 2400 hrs where echelons C and D were left with the QM.

22nd March.

Battalion moved to Ain Hajleh about N6c arriving there about 0100 hr. Here the Bttn waited until about 0300 hrs. Moved on to above S2c where 2/19 HQ was established. Stayed here until about 0730 hrs when bridge was reported as complete.  A Coy (Capt Gray) and D Coy (Capt Manning) left under Major Crabbe to cross the river and take over left sector of bridgehead from 2/19 London Regiment (0800 hrs). B Coy and C Coy composite under Lt Cuolahan left with remainder of HQ about 1030 hrs. Heavy machine gun fire at range of about 1800-2000 yards encountered during the movement of reserve company. Attempt made by 2/18 and 2/19 at 1315 hrs to take high ground overlooking ford failed owing to very heavy fire and general stubborn resistance on part of enemy. Second attempt made at 2400 hrs the centre of the line being reinforced by 2/20 London Regiment.

Result – high ground occupied.

23rd March.

Battalion holding left of high ground above Hajleh Bridge. One Brigade of Australian cavalry passed through about 0500 hrs and pushed enemy back to foothills. About 30 prisoners and 1 MG handed over by AMR to Bttn for escort to rear. Bttn remained in position all day. The 179 Infantry Brigade passed through left flank and extended line to vicinity of Ghoraniyeh.

24th March.

Battalion moved to about Q3a starting at 0700 hrs and arriving about 1000 hrs. Moved again at 1445 hrs to about O36a where Brigade was concentrated as Divisional Reserve. Stayed here the night.

25th March.

Brigade moved to Shunet Nimrin and bivouacked abut P24b and d. Spent the day, which was showery in cleaning and inspections.

26th March.

The Battalion moved (up Jeiai Wadi road) to carry on road repairs. Companies disposed along road as follows: A Coy at about J2c79, B Coy at about N26a89 and D Coy at about N21c26. Bttn HQ at about N21c81. The road as far as A Coy was fairly good even for wheels but after that westwards was impracticable for anything except mules and camels.

Weather clear and bright.

27th March.

The Battalion worked on road improvements. Hours of work 0600–1000 hrs and 1400-1900 hrs. The original intention was to make the road practicable for guns but this was subsequently cancelled and rough improvements for pack transport only carried out. The Guard of Honour to the Duke of Connaught under Capt Crosbie rejoined the Bttn having marched from camp at G10d to P24b in one day (18 miles).

28th March.

The Battalion worked on the road in the morning. At 1300 hrs, orders were received that the Battalion would move to Ain Es Sir at 1400 hrs together with the 2/17th London Regiment, the while detachment of the 180th Infantry Brigade under the command of Lt-Col Dear DSO of the 2/17th.

Battalion arrived about one mile west of Ain Es Sir at 2200 hrs. Here they halted for half an hour after which they again pushed on to about 142R36c where they passed the night under the orders of 181st Infantry Brigade.

Weather cold and damp.

29th March.

Battalion stayed at R36c until orders were received that they would take part in the attack on Amman the next morning. The task allotted to the Battalion (A and D Coys) was the advance along and clear the open (known as Citadel Hill) in Y4a/b/5a/d/6c as far as the Wadi Amman. Commencing from position of deployment at 0200 hrs on 30th March. The other half of the Bttn under Capt Crosby was attached to the Imperial Camel Corps under their orders for attack.

30th March.

Owing to rain and general difficult nature of the country, daylight found A and D Coys on the next ridge south of Citadel Ridge but this error was quickly rectified and by 0600 hrs we were held up 1000 yards from the Citadel by heavy rifle and flanking machine gun fire. At 1400 hrs, message was received from 181 Infantry Brigade to attack Citadel at 1500 hrs.

The bombardment was carried out but owing to lack of artillery, enemy resistance was not broken, although A and D Coys advanced some 600 yards. At about 1100 hrs, one coy of the 2/17th under Capt Ross arrived in reserve to the bttn but the BGC 181st Infantry Brigade would on no account allow these to be used in attack on Citadel.

A and D Coys combined at this time only numbered 85 rifles.

About 2200 hrs, orders were received that on receipt of a code word (“Holiday”), the two companies withdrew. At 0110 hrs, the code word was received.

31st March.

The half battalion commenced to withdraw about 0200 hrs after evacuating all casualties, burying all dead and destroying all enemy rifles and stores.

Marched back to bivouac at 142/R36c where C and B Coys rejoined the battalion. Moved on from R36c to road just east of Ain Es Sir at about 1000 hrs. Moved on again from Ain es Sir at 1300 hrs to N21c81 where bttn bivouacked at about 2300 hrs. The track was very bad and appeared impassable for camels but not withstanding this the 64 came in at their destination complete.