War diary transcript March 1918- German Spring Offensive

War diary transcript March 1918- German Spring Offensive

Postby plbramham » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:17 pm

8th battalion THE BORDER REGIMENT war diaries

Hi, I’ve set myself a colossal task of transcribing the whole 8th Border Regt war diaries from when they went overseas in 1915 until they were disbanded in 1918. It will be a very long job as it consists of almost 200 A4 pages of copperplate scrawl written in faded pencil on tissue-type paper, with archaic English and obscure military abbreviations! I’ll get through it, but I’m estimating an average of about 45 minutes per page then checking on place name spellings etc, before typing it up. I received the diary pages as “raw” documents” from Mike Deacon and I have photoshopped them all individually to enhance the writing as best I can. Some are clear, but others are very pale grey pencil written on grey paper so I’ve had to introduce weird colours to tweak the contrast and show up the writing! Bear with me as I’ll post the transcription in stages – Watch this space!

Grammar, spelling mistakes (e.g. Ploegstreet/Ploegsteert), missed punctuation etc. left as on original documents
(words in round brackets) are as such on original
Illegible or guessed words in [square brackets?] with? question marks.
Transcription notes in [square brackets and italics]

March 1918

March – much training, then The German Spring Offensive

1st- Training continued . Ceremonial Parade. Firing on 100 yards range ( 15 rounds rapid fire and five rounds application with box repirators. Coy training in Bombing etc and Jump Lines – remainder of Battalion ( almost 100) passed through Gas Chamber.
2nd - Training continued. Firing on 30 yd range. Coy Training. Surprise Gas Alarms. Demonstration of PBT by selected platoon of HAC at DIV HQRS. CO officers and 45 ORs attended lecture in Brigade Cinema on Growth of RFC by OC 59 Squadron.
3rd-Divine Services & Recreational Training. Officers Record of Services Book received and issued, supplying a want much felt by junior officers owing to changes from one Battalion to another.
4th-Training continued. Bde Horse Show on cold wintry afternoon. Cup for best cooker won by 8th Borders also 2nd & 3rd in limbers and 2nd in mess cart.
5th-Training continued. Capt A.V. Bentley rejoined Battalion from hospital and resumed command of C Coy.. Information received that 2Lt (T/Capt) J.G.Runciman Royal Scots attached to this battalion has been posted to 5/6 Royal Scots. Night Firing on Corps Reinforcement Camp Range from 6.30 pm to 10pm.
6th- Training continued. Commanding officer took all officers over ground for proposed night Assembly and Attack. Weather mild & bright and Bde Sports took place in afternoon.
7th- Training continued. Firing on 30 yds range. Night operations.
8th- Returned to camp from night operation 8am. No training in morning. Lewis Gun class in afternoon. D coy on 200 yds range in afternoon.
9th- Training continued. Firing on 200 yds range (15 rounds rapid & 5 rounds application) Recreational training in afternoon.
10th- Divine service & recreational training.
11th- Training continued. Ceremonial parade. Musketry (15 rounds rapid). Brigade staff ride for Coy Commanders. Recreational training.
12th-Training continued. Ceremonial parade. Musketry. Recreational training. Brigade removed to SAVOY CAMP.
13th-16th- Training continued. Ceremonial parade. Musketry. Recreational training.
17th Divine Service & Recreational Training.
18th-Training continued. Ceremonial parade. Musketry. Recreational training.
19th- Training continued. Ceremonial parade. Musketry. Recreational training. Practice attack under Brigade arrangements
20th- Training contined. Musketry. Lewis Gun Classes. Recreational training.
21st- Heavy guns fire 5.30 am. Bn stood to 7.00am – Bn moved off 9.10 am under Lt Col Birt with 1st line T’port to 150 Labour Coy Camp at BEUGNATRE- Bn was placed under order of 16 Bde & was ordered to counterattack North of VAULX Wood in the VAULX- MORCHIES line. Capt Dove killed [DOVE, CHARLES BERTRAM.Captain. Age: 34 3rd Bn. attd. 8th Bn. FAVREUIL BRITISH CEMETERY.Husband of Amy Caton Dove, of "La Casina," Hayling Island, Hants] After leaving BEUGNATRE:- order of battle from Right A Coy (Capt BIRNIE), B Coy (Lt REED), C Coy (Lt ALLAN),with D Coy (Lt DUGGAN) in reserve. Counter attack reached 1st objective 3.10pm & did not proceed further owing to wire being uncut.. Communication established on the right by Lt BELL & party – D coy filled gap on left joining up with BUFFS on Rt & RSF on left. Lt REED hit in VAULX-MORCHIES lines & died of wounds. [REED, GERALD FRANCIS WOOLTERTON.M i D. Lieutenant.Age:22. ARRAS MEMORIAL. Son of Thomas Allen Woolterton Reed and Ida Reed, of The Inglenook, Rode Hill, Rode, Bath ]
22nd- Shelling began early & enemy attacked about 7.30am – penetrated VAULX WOOD on our right. The Bn was surrounded on 3 side – for 4 hours Capt BIRNIE held the enemy at bay & only withdrew at 1pm our right being in the air - & the [ Divn?]on our left falling back.- All communication with Artllery & Bde was cut – Bn withdrew to VAULX-FRENICOURT road. During the day Lt DOWDELL, McTAVISH & WARWICK were killed [DOWDELL, ERNEST GEORGE.2nd Lieut. MC.3rd Bn. attd. 8th Bn. Arras Memorial. WARWICK, COLIN WINDER 2nd Lieut MC Age:26. 5th Bn. attd. 8th Bn. VAULX HILL CEMETERY. Son of John and Sarah Warwick, of "Brundholme," Workington, Cumberland ] The Bn eventually reorganised in ARMY LINE assisted by Scottish troops (51st Divn) Bn relieved by 41st Divn Except Lt OAKDEN, Lt FENTIMAN [FENTIMAN, FREDERICK WILLIAM . 2nd Lt Age:19. ARRAS MEMORIAL. Son of Frederick and Annie Louisa Fentiman, of "Slievemore", Dalhousie Rd., Eskbank, Dalkeith, Midlothian ] & 24 ORs who refused to leave until properly relief which never came. Lt FRYER missing [FRYER, JOHN PERCIVAL 2nd Lieut. Age: 25. ARRAS MEMORIAL.Son of George K. and Frances Fryer, of Birkenshaw Colleries, Gomersal, Leeds ] . CAPT BIRNIE, Lt GANDOLFO, 2nd Lts LIGHTFOOT & SANDWELL wounded. [ CWGC states Capt Birnie died on 22/3/18 -BIRNIE, EDWARD D'ARCY Captain DSO MC.Age:26.DERNANCOURT COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION.Son of Robert and Isabella Birnie, of Sycamore Terrace, High Harrington, Cumberland. Native of Workington, Cumberland.]
23rd- Bn relieved and moved to SAVOY CAMP – hot meal at 4am – At 9am ordered to move to ridge E of BEHAGNIES-SAPAGNIES road & dig in. About 4pm B team from 25 [ORB?] under MAJOR WILKINSON & 140 ORs arrived - & Col Birt handed over command and went down to transport.
24th-Trenches improved during day. Shelling became active in afternoon & increased – situation became very vague & Lt ALLAN [ALLAN, JOHN WILLIAM ANDERSON 2nd Lieut MC Died 10/04/1918. PLOEGSTEERT MEMORIAL. Son of Andrew Allan, of 42, Cambridge Gardens, Leith; husband of Isabella D. Elliot Allan, of 4, Montagu Terrace, Edinburgh ] twice went forward to report. Night passed without incident. Bn was relieved by 1 Coy 5th Lancs Fusiliers [42? Div] & moved to
25th- LOGEAST WOOD – where the Bn dug in E of Wood Lt Col Birt resumed command. Shelling was intermittent but never very heavy.- Orders received 8pm to move to AISIEUX AU MONT.
26th- Dug in – POISIEOX – with 62 [Divn?] on left- Information received 4am that enemy held MIRAUMONT & that our right flank was in this [a?] & ordered to concentrate north of GOMMECOURT – which was reached 6.30am – At 10am moved to form defensive position N of GOMMECOURT- 7th & 74th Bde in front - 75th in supports- At midnight Bn was withdrawn to
27th- COUIN arriving 4am- where a good nights sleep was obtained- left 3.30pm and marched to
28th- PUCHEVILLERS arriving 8pm- & left next morning 7.30 am for
29th- VASQUEERE arriving about 2pm- & billeted there.
30th- Cleaning up & resting
31st- Marched to DOULLENS & entrained for GOOEWAERSVELDE

CWH Birt Commanding 8th (S) Bn, The Border Regt.
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