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

1st November – Beersheba.
Bttn in Westminster Wadi awaiting orders to move.
Animals watered in Beersheba.

2nd November – Beersheba.
Bttn moved to vicinity of Beersheba (about J22.b.3.8). Water plentiful.
Beersheba bombed at dusk by enemy aircraft.

3rd November – Beersheba.
Bttn moved to Wadi about Hill 900 – taking over part of the line from 53rd Division, Situation changed and 74th Division held lone north of this Division.
About 1700 hrs, a Boche plane dropped 4 bombs in the bivouac, killing 1 man and wounding about 7.

4th November.
Bttn moved to Wadi Irgsig. Arrived at about 1930hrs. Marching was heavy and a large number of the roads and possible …very congested.
Quiet night

5th November.
Bttn to Wadi Irgsig. Preparing for attack on Kauwakah defences. Packs to be left behind as unnecessary weight. Every man carrying extra ammunition (a bandolier containing 50 rounds), 2 filled water bottles, two days food and aeroplane contact flares.
Casualty RSM Roffy MC – shrapnel wound, evacuated.

6th November.
0330 Bttn set out for Position of Readiness.
0500 Bttn in position 500 yards south west of correct position.
0710 Commenced advance. No enemy firing. Visibility bad due to mist and low clouds.
0930 74th Division held up on right. Bttn held up in consequence. Leading Bttn of 179 Brigade also held up.
1130 74 Division pushing on. Able to advance. Moving down Wadi Pitt to junction with Wadi Samarra. 2/19th London Regiment following down Wadi.
1230 Coys reported as in position for assault.
1300 Kauwakah position captured. Prisoners: 6 Officers, 58 ORs.
Total casualties 1 officer (Lt Ashdridge), 40 ORs.
Companies, having pushed onto final objective, came under heavy fire from the flank, from the direction of Tel el Sheria, died down at dusk and partly owing to one Company of 2/20th pushing on and seizing Sheria Station.
Received order to concentrate and march to Sheria to take up an outpost line to the west and north -west of that village. Only one company replied, remainder being out of touch and unable to be found in the dark. Halted on railway, running from Kauwukah to Sheria for the night.

7th November.
0600 Collected B, C and D Coys from their advanced positions and on hearing that the village of Sheria and the water supply there was in our hands pushed onto help to hold the position.
The Battalion (less A Company) in reserve during the day under hill on bank of Wadi, just north-west of railway bridge Sheria.
1100 A Coy sent out to cover left flank of Brigade Operation very successfully carried out. 3 MG and 2 Lewis guns falling to this company.
Casualties – Capt RWF Harding (wounded mortally), Lieut CJ Thompson (wounded slightly leg).
OR: Killed -3, Wounded – 38.

8th November – Hareira/Irgeig/Huj.
0630 Carried out forced march, echeloned on the left rear of the 181st Brigade from Sheria (the enemy having retired) to a spot about N36 central.
180 Infantry Brigade moving in two columns; one column comprising 2/18th and 2/17th (under Lt Col Norton) moving in support of the advance guard (179th Brigade) echeloned on the right rear. On nearing Huj, the Bttn with 2/17th in support pushed on and took up an outpost line for the night about 1¼ miles south of Nejed. The Bttn secured 2 Krupp 77 Field Guns, 2 wounded, and 4 unwounded prisoners. Very good march.

9th November – Huj.
Bivouacked at N30 central. Two 77 guns found abandoned and claimed by C Coy. Every evidence of a very hasty retreat by enemy; packs, gas helmets and all manner of personal effects strewn all over the country side. Shortage of water for animals, practically nine available.
Bttn animals without water for over 50 hours. Eventually, had to be watered the following morning. Animals travelled 20 miles during the day in search of water. None obtainable No 591304 Cooper C Coy received MM.

10th November – Huj.
Still bivouacked at N30 central. Animals now 56 hours without water. Cannot go on unless water is forthcoming. Camels going back to Sheria to water. Animals watered
Rest Day.

11th November – Neieleh.
Bttn still bivouacked at N 30 central. At 1000, Bttn moved to vicinity of Jemmameh (B15b and B16a) and bivouacked about 1315 hrs.
Slight shower of rain about midday, dust very bad owing to high head wind for later part of march. Day quiet.

12th November – Neieleh.
Bttn in bivouac in wadi about Jemmameh. Shower about 0500 hrs. Weather clear, cool and bright day. First reinforcements (Lieuts Diamond and Bissett and 73 ORs report arrival at 2330 from railhead at Karm).

13th November – Palestine.
0930 Bttn marched to Tel El Hessy and bivouacked about Y15…Water plentiful in pool at Wadi Hessy. Troops had first baths since leaving El Shauth (28/10/17). Weather fine and bright, cool northerly breeze.

14th November – Palestine.
Bttn resting at Tel el Hessy.

15th November – Palestine.
0900 Hrs. Bttn at Tel El Hessy.
1500 Hrs. Bttn marched to Jemmameh on sudden orders to move, bivouacked about B28 central, arriving after dark. Much congestion south of wadi. First reinforcements 2/Lt Whyte reported arrival from Karm.

16th November – Hareira.
0830 Hrs. Bttn marched to Hareira and bivouacked about 1600 hrs, north east of Hareira Tape, arriving about 1220 hrs.

17th November – Hareira.
In bivouac at Hareira.
0830 hrs. Brigade ceremonial parade. Decorations distributed by GOC Division:
No 590495 Sgt Burte and No 592502 Rfn Harding received MM. Capt Tyler first reinforcement rejoined Bttn from duty with 180 Infantry Brigade H2.
Captains Cross, Standrick and 2/Lt Grayden …to FA.
Weather dull forecast. Water plentiful in Wadi el Sheria but not good quality.

18th November – Hareira.
Bttn resting at Hareira same bivouac. Capt Tyler returned to railhead Karm. 2/Lt Tolson rejoining Bttn vice Capt Tyler.

19th November – Palestine.
Bttn marched to Gaza 0745 hrs. Arrived 1350 and bivouacked about 1 mile east of Alimuntar (U26 cen). Heavy rain from 1600 to 2100 hrs, continuing more or less throughout the night.

20th November – Palestine.
0900 Bttn marched to vicinity of El Meudel, bivouacked 014a cen, arriving in about 1530 hrs. Very heavy rain about 1530 hrs and at intervals during night. Conditions uncomfortable on account of heavy mud. March casualties – 12. First reinforcements Major Crabbe and ORs reported arrival from Gaza.

21st November – Palestine.
0900 Bttn moved to neighbourhood of Kustenah and bivouacked at point K15 d cen at 1430 hrs. Weather fine and cool after heavy night’s rain.

22nd November – Palestine.
0900 Bttn to vicinity of Junction Station on Jaffa – Jerusalem Railway bivouacking at 010 b cen. Weather fine and cool, going good.

23rd November – Palestine.
Bttn marched to Latrun at 0900 bivouacking (N138) on Jerusalem road. Arrived in at 1350 hrs. Weather fine and cool and bright.
2/Lt Thomas (Signalling Officer) to hospital.

24th November – Palestine.
Bttn resting at Latrun. Men had second bath since leaving El Shauth. Capt Tyler reported (1st reinforcement). Weather fine bright and warm.

25th November – Palestine.
Bttn rested. At 1300 hrs, order received to move at 1400 hrs. Bttn moved at 1430 hrs via Kurket el Enab (s29a), thence to Biddu (T3) and took over part of …Line for 156 Brigade 7th Royal Scots on the line T10, T11 Wadi Bufai – Bttn H2 at Biddu. Stony country. Relief completed at 0300 (26th).

26th November – Palestine.
Bttn holding Outpost Line as indicated above (25th). A Coy at Beit Suria, C Coy at Wadi Buwai. B and D Coys about T 10 control. Quiet day, fine and bright until 1630 when weather became dull and overcast – slight rain about 1645 hrs. Captain Standrick and 2/Lt Cousin awarded the MC.
At 0045 hrs on night 26/27, enemy attacked high ground at T18622 held by a detachment (40 strong of A Coy under 2/Lt Gray). 2/Lt Gray heavily engaged – enemy strength estimated at 100. Two platoons of 2/20 reinforced the detached and the enemy was driven off leaving their prisoners.

27th November – Palestine.
Bttn still holding line. After dark, B Coy moved from the vicinity of T10 central to T22 central, thus extending our line to the right in time with 179 Brigade. Bttn HQ moved at the same time from Biddu to Beit Surik. Heavy enemy shelling throughout the most parts of the Line. Dispositions of units on our right and left as follows: on left, 2/17 holding slopes of Nebi Samwil with 2/19 on left of 2/17 – on right 2/16 of 179 Brigade.

28th November – Palestine.
Bttn disposed as follows: 0600 Bttn H2 Beit Surik. A Coy T 16 central. B Coy T 22 central, C Coy T 96 central, D Coy T 106 central. Bttn Rear R 2 under Major Crabbe at Biddu. Transport and Details in vicinity of Kubeibah.

29th November – Palestine.
Disposition of the Bttn as follows: C and D Coy at Nebi Samwil holding front line trenches with Bttn HQ in rear. A Coy at T16, B Coy at T22 under command of OC 2/17 London Regiment. At about 0800 to 1330 desultory shelling of Nebi Samwil by enemy artillery. At 1345, enemy artillery increased and became intense from 1400 to 1600 when firing died down. Enemy attempted an attack about 1500 on front held by 2/20th Bttn principally and was repulsed – Casualties: 2/Lt Tolson badly wounded and four other ranks. Relief continued – A Coy from T16 moved in and relieved C Coy 2/17 Nebi Samwil. Relief completed at 0030 on 29th/30th. B Coy remaining at Surik owing to impossibility of getting to Nebi Samwil in time to A Coy by 2/17th by dawn. Weather fine and bright.

30th November – Palestine.
0100 Disposition of Bttn as follows: HQ, A, C and D at Nebi Samwil. B Coy by Beit Surik under command of OC 2/17th Bttn. The 2/20th Bttn on our left being relieved by 2/22nd under Lt Col Borton, relief being completed just before midnight.
Dispositions at Nebi Samwil midnight 30 Nov/1st Dec: Sector under command of Lt Col Norton, 2/18th Regimen. Right Sub sector: C and D Coys front line, A Coy left support Coy, A Coy 2/17th right support coy (B Coy 2/18th being at Beit Surik). Left Sub sector: 3 coys 2/22nd Bttn with 1 coy in reserve – 22 Bttn H2 at cave with 2/18th H2 – there are six guns TM Battery and 2 sections 180 MGC also in the sector. Very quiet day – enemy showing much less activity than usual, Weather fine and bright.