War diary transcript April 1918- retreat & "boy"replacements

War diary transcript April 1918- retreat & "boy"replacements

Postby plbramham » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:16 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]

April 1918

Events in April 1918: attacks, withdrawal, “boy soldier” draft replacements

1st- Advance Coy D coy arrived 1.301m & remainder of Bn 5am & embussed for KORTE PYP CAMP- New draft of 170 19 year old boys . Excellent appearance & smart of parade. CAPT J.DAWSON rejoined.
2nd - Move to ROMARIN CAMP- 2nd S Lancs in line - 8 Border support 11 Cheshire reserves. D coy under Capt DAWSON ( Lancashire Support Farm) { co????e – communique? ] attaching coy under tactical orders of 2/S Lancs – C coy CAPT BENTLEY A & B coys. ROMARIN CAMP with Bn HQrs – Excellent weather
3rd- Cleaning up & baths – unsettled
4th- Unsettled cleaning up & inspections – C &D coys withdrawn from support line – preparatory to moving up next day. OC Coys reconnoitred front line. The Bn relieved 3rd Worcestors & 11th Lanc Fusiliers – Bn sector Lys River on right to C4b7.8 on left – C Coy (Capt Bentley) left subsector D coy (Capt Dawson) right subsector.
5th-B coy- support- Grande Rabeque- A coy - Reserve - Le Bizet- Bn HQrs - [Desquieres?] Farm- Relief began 7.30pm & finished 10pm except 3 posts D coy 3am - night wet.
6th- Fine. Co visited OC’s front line coys C & D – Day quiet. Patrols out at night.
7th- Battn in the line. A little TM activity. Persistent fire by enemy MG all night from FRELINGHEIN.
8th do. MG fired from FRELINGHEIN all night. Patrol located strong enemy working party at West end of FRELINGHEIN BRIDGE, they were wiring the Bridge Head. 2nd Sth Lancs on our left relieved by XI Cheshire. A Coy (2nd Lt Allan) moved up from LE BIZET to FRANDE RABEQUE – B Coy side slipping to the right in the RESERVE LINE. Enemy TMs in WARNETON sector heavily bombarded during the afternoon.
9th- Dull & cloudy. Heavy bombardment on our right - several miles away. Reported GERMAN attack from ARMENTIERES to LA BASSEE. Our sector heavily shelled in afternoon - with Gas, HE & shrapnel. A coy (Lt Allan) relieved C coy ( Capt Bentley) in left front. B coy (Capt COXON) relieved D Coy ( Capt Dawson) in right front.
10th- Dull-slight mist-. Enemy attacked about 5.30 am after heavy bombardment. A Coy practically cut off B C & D Coys returned to Reserve line which was soon enveloped & about midday Battalion withdrew with other troops to a NORTH and South line West of LE BIZET. A further withdrawal to the ROAD Clef de la BELGIQUE- OOSTHOVE was necessitated during the afternoon, and late at night the right flank was swung back to the line COUTRE RUE OOSTHOVE-DOUDOU – Two companies 9th Cheshires being on our right at COURTE RUE, and 2 companies 9th Cheshires on our left at OOSTHOVE
11th- Enemy attacked early morning but was driven off by rifle & LG fire. Position bombarded fairly heavily. About midday a withdrawal on the left necessitated falling back on TRENCH LINE about LE ROSSIGNOL which was held till night. LT STRONG & party of 40 OR captured a MG & restored a temporary gap in the line about BRUNEGAYE in the afternoon. Orders to evacuate NIEPPE SALIENT being received, the Battalion withdrew to CONNAUGHT ROAD at dusk – where it dug in, in support to 75th Inf Bde Group.
12th- Day was fine. Beyond little shelling & sniping nothing of great importance occurred during the morning. About 2pm a general retirement was observed on our right – which necessitated a further withdrawal to KORTE PYP – where the line was reorganised.
13th- Very heavy mist in morning. The night had passed quietly. About 6am 6SWB were seen to be retiring along the NEUVE EGLISE Road & soon after under cover of mist &the heavy bombardment enemy attacked in great strength & forced us back to the line NEUVE EGLISE – TROIS ROIS CABT. Where elements of 75th Bde Group & the 9th HLI had already dug in. Here a stand was made. Capt COXON & LT BOTT [ COXON, PERCY HUNTER Captain MC Age: 25. MESSINES RIDGE BRITISH CEMETERY. Gazetted Sept., 1914; wounded at Thiepval July, 1916. Son of Thomas and Mary Coxon, of 8, Vernon Parade, Whitehall Rd., Gateshead. BOTT, G G R Lieutenant MC.Age: 26. South Lancashire Regiment attd. Border Regiment. MESSINES RIDGE BRITISH CEMETERY.Son of Arthur T. and Constance Bott, of 63, Victoria Rd., Fulwood, Preston; husband of Mary A. Bott ] were both killed making a counterattack on the enemy’s flank during the morning. Meantime a position was being prepared from CRUCIFIX CORNER along the ridge in a NORTH EASTERLY direction.
14th- Morning quiet except for heavy shelling of back areas. About midday enemy began dribbling small parties forward & soon evidence of massing was observed in the valley along the NEUVE EGLISE-DRANOUTRE ROAD about TBC Central. Our barrage & MG fire nipped the attack in the bud. Orders for Bde relief received about 9.30 pm.
15th- Battalion relieved in line by 71st Bde about 2.30 am & marched to KOUDOKOT where it joined the rest of the Brigade. At 2pm the Brigade marched via BERTHEN to MONT DES CATS which was reached about 7pm.
16th- About 10.45pm Battalion marched via BOESCHEPE to LA LEVRETTE in support to 33rd & 34th Divisions. Bde formed into a composite Battalion under Lt Col J.B.ALLSOPP. Capt BENTLEY & Lt DUGGAN remained with Battalion. Lt Col BIRT returned to rear Brigade HQ.
17th- Still at LA LEVRETTE- Shelled rather heavily during the day.
18th- Early morning the Battalion returned to hutments at MONT DES CATS. Major STEWART rejoined Battalion temporarily during the evening. Draft of young boys mostly.
19th-Snow fell- very cold. Shell burst in C Coys hut killing 5 & wounding 26 OR [ CWGC list 6 deaths on 19th:
HILL, CHARLES EDWARD.Private.34574. Age: 19. METEREN MILITARY CEMETERY. Son of James Edward and Florence Hill, of Hemming Green, Old Brampton, Chesterfield
JONES, J R. Private. MM & Bar.15153. Age: 22.METEREN MILITARY CEMETERY.Son of the late John R. and Mary A. Jones, of Branthwaite, Cockermouth, Cumberland
QUINN, EDWARD.Private.18993.Age: 32.METEREN MILITARY CEMETERY.Son of David and Eliza Quinn. Native of Workington, Cumberland
20th - Cold cleaning up & refitting. Enemy shelled vicinity fairly heavily. Classes for specialist. Firing on range behind MONASTRY. Inlying piquet established as a safeguard against surprise.
21st- Brigade marched to HIRST CAMP> near VOXVRIE-POPERINGHE. Fine
22nd- Fine. Classes continued. 18 officers joined Battalion in afternoon & draft of 63 OR.
23rd- Lewis Gun classes continued 2nd Lt Mackie joined the Bn and was posted to A Co.
24th- Specialist classes continued. Lt M. TURNBULL [TURNBULL, MAXWELL Captain MC.Date of Death: 18/10/1918 Age: 27. 3rd Bn. attd. 8th Bn. ETAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY. Son of David and Isabella Beattie Turnbull, of Ellock, Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire ] joined the Bn . He was posted to D Co and appointed Bn signalling officer.
25th-The Bn was employed in digging trench line. At 10am orders were issued from Bde warning the Bn to stand by ready to move. Coys were recalled from digging and preparations were made for an immediate move. At .30 pm the Brigade moved to HOUGRAAF CABARET where the division were ordered to concentrate. At 11pm the DIVISION received orders to counterattack in the vicinity of KEMMEL. The 7th Brigade on the right and the 74th Brigade on the left were ordered to move forward in conjunction with the 39th French Division. The 75th Bde were in close support. The Battalion moved forward and took up a position in the right of the LA CLYTTE- RENINGHELST road about 600 yards E of RENINGHELST at 2AM
26th- Owing to heavy enemy shelling D Coy [?????ed} to a [????] position on the flank. The remainder of the day was fairly quiet
27th- During the afternoon the Bn. moved forward and relieved the 10th Cheshires ( 7th Brigade). In the evening the Bn moved into the front line and relieved the 8th Loyal North Lancs and 3rd Worcesters. Patrols were sent out during the night. Small parties of the enemy were encountered and dispersed.
28th Intermittent hostile shelling throughout the day. Otherwise quiet. Lt F.W. DARVELL[DARVELL, FREDERICK WILLIAM 2nd Lieut MC. Age:20.SOISSONS MEMORIAL. Son of the late Arthur H. and Jane Darvell ] took out patrol during the day and patrolled the whole of the right front. During the night patrols were again sent out and a little wiring was done.
29th- At 3am the enemy opened a bombardment of Gas shells which at 5am developed into a heavy HE barrage. The SOS was seen going up on the left of the line. At 6.15am the two from coys reported the enemy were massing on the right front and appeared to be attempting to attack down the L CLYTTE-KEMMIL road. Owing to our artillery MG and rifle fire the attack did not develop. About this time the two front Coys were subjected to heavy MG and rifle fire from the right front. At 10 AM LT COL CWH BIRT DSO was wounded in the left arm by a shell. Capt A.J.BENTLEY A/Adjt took over command of the Bn. Up to 11am considerable enemy movement was observed on the right front. MG and rifle fire was opened on them and heavy casualties inflicted. Owing to heavy hostile shelling throughout the morning communication with the rear was difficult. At 5.15pm the enemy opened a heavy barrage on our front and support which continued until 6.15 when the enemy again appeared to be attempting to attack along the LA CLYTTE-KEMMIL road. This attack was again broken up by our artillery MG and rifle fire. The remainder of the day was without incident. The following officers were wounded during the morning. CAPT C.W McLENNAN, Gassed went down to ADS and returned to the Bn. 2 Lts. J.W.ROGERS (B coy) J.GIBSON (B Co) J.T.R VAREL ( B Co) J.H.MACK!E (A Co) on the night of the 29/30 the Bn was relieved by the 2nd Bn South Lancs. On relief the Bn moved back to a position on the LA CLYTTE-RENINGHELST road 800 yds west of LA CLYTTE. There Major H.G.FRASER joined the Bn and assumed command.
30th- The day was fairly quiet . At 6pm the vicinity of Bn HQ was heavily shelled for about an hour
HONOURS and awards during the month
MILITARY MEDAL for Conspicuous gallantry during the retreat on the SOMME
32272 Cpl J.S.SEWELL, 12235 Cpl J.W.BURKIN, [BURKIN, J W Corporal MM 12235 Date of Death: 18/04/1918. HARINGHE (BANDAGHEM) MILITARY CEMETERY ] 9844 Cpl P.CARR, 24645 L/C J.LEE, 11884 Sjt J. MACDONALD, 21036 Cpl H.WISE, 27434 Pte H.SINGLETON, 5622 Pte H.FERGUSON, 18388 Pte. R. LAWRENCE, 13589 Pte J. VARITY, 16233 L/C B. DUCKWORTH, 30198 Pte.G. PORTER, 15597 L/C G. JOHNSTON, 14509 Pte J.KELLY, 15091 Sjt M.CRAYSTON.

AJ Bentley Capt for Major Comdg 8th Bn The Border Regt.
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