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Monthly Archives: March 2015

28 March 1915 – Ted to Gertrude

March 28/15

Dear Mother

Very many thanks for your letter yesterday and the cake which arrived today, & is much appreciated in the mess. We have had to shift our billets up closer to the firing line, as the General thought we were too far away; we are’nt nearly so comfy in these new billets, and my room is awful. I share it with Mr Fox, & they had one of our big 9 inch guns here the other day & every time it fired it shook most of the house down! My room happens to be in a very shaky corner, & there is’nt a pane of glass left in the windows, & a regular tornado blows all night round the room!

It is awfully cold nowadays with a bitter N. wind all day, & a little snow. It froze hard last night, & is quite fine today and this morning ours went all over the German lines and got fired at an awful lot. We have all got to go out tonight up to the Indian Corps, so I suppose that means we’ll be going up into the trenches fairly soon now.

Just finished tea; the cake you sent has nearly all gone; it was very crumbly for some reason or other & all fell to bits when we cut it, but it was very good all the same.

Please send me a refill for my torch as I have only one left now. The films rolled up all right but just then an order came out prohibiting all cameras, so I have sent the camera & films home to Jane; I hope they roll up all right, I registered them so they ought to. Can I also have 2 more khaki silk hankies please, as I have only 2 at present. Not much going on here; there was a lot of firing last night, heavy guns firing too, but I don’t think it meant much.

Did Bee Dudman ever hear from me; because I wrote her a long letter about a month ago; will you ask when you next write. Thank Ben for her letter, I will try and answer it tomorrow. Must end up now. Love to all

yr loving son

Ted

 
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Posted by on 28 March, '15 in About

 

25 March 1915 – Ted to Jane

March 25/15

Dear Jinny

All cameras are disallowed now, so I am sending mine to you to look after for me; also two packs of films, unused, which you can take pictures with. Also book of instructions. You’ll find it quite easy to work only rather tricky at first, & it’s much less bother than a roll film camera. You simply jam the film pack in the back & all is ready.

Weather’s turned for the bad today, wet & raw again & filthily muddy, I expect we shall be booted out of these billets tomorrow, & go up north a bit; see a new bit of France anyway.

I only wrote to you yesterday so I’m afraid I can’t scrape up much to tell you this time, only about the camera. You might tell Dryden to send along some cigarettes, as I’ve run out today. I really must send some money but postal orders are so hard to get hold of nowadays.

Hope the camera rolls up safely & you take some good snaps with it. I carried it all through the Neuve Chapelle show but I did’nt have a minute to spare; besides there was’nt much to take really. Send along a cake some old time; the Delaford cakes are always welcome in the mess & much liked – always thinking of our stomachs are’nt we; pigs, I call us.

So long keep smiling I’m as fit as a flea

Tons of love

Ted

 
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Posted by on 25 March, '15 in About

 

24 March 1915 – Ted to Jane

March 24/15

Dear Jinny

Very many thanks for your ripping long letter. So glad you liked my letters & I’m glad I wrote when I did because I’m blowed if I remember now what happened then, it’s all a sort of dream. We are still in these same billets, but are now called Divisional reserve, as the other 2 brigades of the [censored?] Division are in the trenches, & we are in reserve to them. I don’t suppose we shall be wanted, unless they have a “Bismarck’s Birthday Biff” on April 1st, which is the rumour at present. Anyhow I expect we’ll be going up into the trenches some time during the next week.

I’ve been into Bethune today & had a dam good lunch; it’s a great place & fairly buzzes with officers, all having lunch there. I sent you some picture postcards, awful things, but I didn’t put any stamps on, as I was told if I put F M (ss they have a “rve to them. I don’t called Divisional reserve, as the other 2 brigades of the Francaise Militaire) on them they would go free; I wonder if they ever got home; do let me know if they did, & I hope you did’nt have to pay on ‘em.

I feel much better for the change to Bethune, even though it was only for a few hours. I drove one of our interpreters in our mess cart; you know what a good driver I am, & the road was full of traffic, but I managed very well really; anyhow no accidents occurred & we got safely back which is the main thing- I also had several short drinks which helped the world go round faster & the horse fairly raced home!

Lovely weather here too, & so warm & mild, hedges all budding & birds singing etc; I shall be sending home all my warm clothes & waistcoats soon; & if they send us to Egypt I shall want only a bathing suit I should think. No more cameras are allowed now & we all had to finish off our films & send the cameras home. I flew round taking anything I could find, & wound up by taking 3 ducks on a pond, so you can imagine how I was put to it to finish ‘em off!

Pardon such a dull letter. Guy Mainwaring was hit by an empty shell case, after it exploded, like the ones I brought home; of course it laid him slap out, but he is all right I hear, in hospital at home somewhere, but is so badly bruised that he can’t lie down, & has to sit up all the time! Mankelow was only slightly wounded, & never went to hospital, but is now home on 7 days’ leave.

I’m afraid I have no more news. I may be able to get home on leave for a day or two sometime within the next month, but it’s extremely doubtful and unlikely so don’t put any faith in it as there is really practically no chance of it coming off. Tell Ben Billy came to see me the other day, & was very pleasant; his affairs don’t seem to be going very well; he is A.D.C to General Willcocks, (cmdg: the Indian Army Corps) now, so is a bit of a nut.

Fit as a fiddle I am nowadays; write again some old time, & send us a Graphic or Tatler; Tatler always welcome, I like reading “Eve”

Tons of love

from

Ted

 
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Posted by on 24 March, '15 in About

 

22 March 1915 – Ted to Gertrude

March 22/15

Dear Mother

Very many thanks for your short note and the Café au lait, much appreciated in the mess; also the chocolate which Mr Fox & I finished off today. Café au lait is always welcome as it is so easy to make & is really very nice.

Gorgeous weather here nowadays, the last 2 days have been lovely and fine and really quite hot. Beginning of spring I suppose. Anyhow all the roads are getting quite dusty now, & the motors etc kick up no end of dust whereas a week ago it was nothing but mud. So let’s hope we are in for some dryish weather at last.

Did you ever get a jacket & pair of breeches I sent home about a month ago I wonder, because you have never said anything about them. I expect I shall be sending home some more clothes as the weather gets warmer.

No news here; we are still resting but I believe move off a bit further north in a day or two. Any news of Paul? They seem to be having a lively time in the Dardanelles don’t they.

Still got a bit of cold but otherwise am quite fit, & we have all benefited by our rest I think. Send along a cake when you have time. Excuse a short scrawl. Best love to all your loving son

Ted

 
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Posted by on 22 March, '15 in About

 

18 March 1915 – Paul to Gertrude

H.M.S. Gloucester

18 March

Dear Mother

We have arrived in harbour again after a longish trip from our last Place. Boiling hot where we are now and it’s a place I’ve never been to before. I’ve been ashore twice & had some tennis & to-day we have a cricket match

I met Dr Hill yesterday – he’s Digby’s great friend & was at Barts with Dick – he asked after all of you.

I find it very difficult to write letters when we get no mails – so you must excuse a short letter.

Hope you are all very well at home. I am still quite fit & much prefer this hot weather. Does’nt look as if we should get a mail for 2 or 3 months, as a ship here has only just got her Christmas letters!!

With ever so much love from

ever your loving son

Paul

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HMS Gloucester Log – 18 March 1915
Sierra Leone
Lat 8.5, Long -13.2

4caf86d4cadfd34197017ed9: (http://oldweather.s3.amazonaws.com/ADM53-43058/0029_0.jpg)

 
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Posted by on 18 March, '15 in H M S Gloucester

 

16 March 1915 – Ted to Gertrude – Neuve Chapelle

March 16/15

Dear Mother,

I have just a few moments now to spare, even though it is nearly midnight, to write & tell you something about our doings of the last few days. You have of course seen in the papers about the successful “British advance” & the Indian Corps doings, but I fancy the accounts lack detail & are very general. The part we played was small of course, but may be interesting, as I saw it.

To begin with – we left our comfy billets at the farm suddenly at 6.45 p.m. on the 8th, got a wire saying move at once; so off we went & reached a little village soon afterwards, where we stayed the night. At 6 next morning I had to go up to the trenches to find out various things, not very exciting, & we stayed in this little village all the 9th, not doing very much.

At 6 o’clock on the 9th, we got orders to move at 1 o’clock that night, (it was freezing hard & very cold all this time) so off we went up to the trenches and awaited the dawn. Our orders were to attack the German trenches in the morning, after they had been heavily bombarded by artillery. Our regiment was only taking up a small front of course, & was but a tiny unit in the whole show, which took place over a very long bit of the line, the whole of the 1st Army being engaged; but you will understand how we only saw a small, but important bit of the whole thing. Divisions on our right & left were attacking as well.

As soon as it was light, the guns began, & my goodness, there never was such a row! Every conceivable gun in the Corps concentrated its fire on the front to be attacked by the Brigade, our Brigade that is, the Garhwal Bde (rather an honour to be chosen out of the whole Indian Army Corps to do the attack) and for half an hour they bombarded the German trenches. Lyddite, shrapnel, small guns, big guns, howitzers, field, horses & siege guns, all banging away as hard as they could.

We were only about 150 yards from the German trenches, so we got the double benefit of hearing the sound of the discharge, & the explosion of the shell too. Enormous shells burst in their trenches, poor devils, throwing up huge columns of yellow smoke, & heaving up trenches, dug out trees, hedges, everything that came in their way.

Precisely at a time previously settled the guns “lengthened their fuse” as the saying is, that is they fired at the trenches and houses beyond the front trenches, so as to prevent supports etc coming up. And at that same moment our men jumped out of our trenches & charged across the open. It was splendid, & the men were into the first line of trenches before you could wink. They went on and rounded up the next trench behind that, but met with some resistance here, but overcame it & captured the trench.

In all there were 4 lines of trenches, & they finally reached & captured the 4th line. In doing so they had captured 180 prisoners & 3 machine guns & we had about 100 men killed & wounded.

Alas! I was not in the charge, being Adjutant I had to keep up with the Colonel, who went up with the last line. However it was all very exciting, & a splendid sight to watch. Well having captured the 4th line of trenches, there, straight in front, was Neuve Chapelle; & nothing would stop the men, the officers there say they had the greatest difficulty stopping them, & on the whole Brigade rushed into & through Neuve Chapelle & out the other side, where they took up a line of entrenchments in front of the village.

We all hurried on, there were bullets & shells flying about, but we managed to dig ourselves in, & found a whole lot of German sandbags & entrenching tools which were very useful. Perhaps this map will help a bit.

Neuve Chapelle Map

Well we stayed there digging all day, & they fired maxims etc at us, & caused several casualties; they also shelled us a good deal, but by evening we had quite good cover.

Late that night we got orders to go down & help the right flank, but owing to the darkness & perfect maze of trenches (you must remember we were in the German lines now, at least in the lines captured from the Germans that morning, so we didn’t know our way about much) and the guide who lost his way, we were ordered back.

We spent the whole night trekking about, & then at 6 o’clock next morning got orders to be attached to another Bde to help them in an attack at 7 a.m. So off we went again, trekking off into the unknown, & finally reached our position just at dawn, with an awful prospect before us, an attack over quite 800 yards of absolutely open country.

We lay out there in readiness to move when the attack began, being fired at the whole time, & getting several men hit, but for some reason or other thank goodness the attack was postponed, & we got into some very bad trenches there with the Leicester Regt. Had we done that attack we should have been very badly mauled, as the ground was absolutely open, & the Germans were well entrenched against us.

Well all that day we lay there, tired & no food (no one knew where we had got to, in the muddle); but we got some fun watching our guns shell a wood in front of us, & by gore they did  knock it about. We saw the Germans simply scuttling for cover when our high explosive shells got on to them.

Late that night 12 midnight, we were told to go back to billets, so we marched back, very tired & hungry, & reached them at 4 a.m. At 5 we got orders to move to more billets further back at 7 a.m. So we moved off & had of course no sleep that night. Well we marched at 7, reaching billets at 12, & settled down we thought for a day or two’s rest. But at 4.30 that evening we got orders to go back at once, to stay in reserve up near the firing line. So we trekked off again, the men utterly fagged, for we had no sleep for 3 nights, but we managed to get there, & found rotten billets, & could get no food. However I got some tea off a tommy & went to bed (?) about 1 a.m. absolutely cooked.

Nothing happened and we stayed there next day till 5.pm. & then marched back to here, arriving at 11pm.; that was on the 13th as we are still here.

The Brigade did splendidly, and got no end of praise from everyone, & the regiment has received heaps of congratulations on the good work done in capturing Neuve Chapelle, or helping to do so, for really the 2/3 Gurkhas & Berkshires had a hand in it too.

Our poor 1st Bri. got a very bad time; they got off the track a bit in their attack & lost very heavily. Seven officers were killed that day & 2 wounded; only 3 of the Bgde were killed, Kenny, Welchman, & Sparrow, other Col. was wounded; the other 4 were fellows attached. In the 2nd Bri. we were very lucky, as we had no officers touched, though we had 150 men hit in the 3 days. I’m most awfully sorry, we all are, about those 3 fellows, whom one knew so well, it’s so hard to believe they are dead; & the other 4 whom I only knew really by sight, as they were only attached to fill up vacancies caused by Lumb & Lane being on the sick list. Terrible is’nt it; but they were soldiers, & it was a soldier’s death anyhow.

But our 1st Bri did wonders next day; after having all those officers killed, they were heavily attacked & shelled all day, but they never broke, though they suffered terrible losses, they fought like fiends & earned absolutely undying fame, really they did; everyone says so, & our Divisional General told us this morning that the name of [censored?] was famous for all time. Our men are really splendid, & 1st class fighters & soldiers, & I am frightfully proud of belonging to such a magnificent regiment.

And poor dear Major Mac! He’s gone too, the very nicest man that ever stepped; one of nature’s gentlemen, & a perfect example of courtliness. He went in to command the 1st Bri. on the 10th after their Colonel was wounded, & was killed on the 12th by a chance bullet. I was so fond of him, & he was always a perfect dear to me. I don’t know what the regiment will do without him, he always seemed essential to its welfare, & it is hard to imagine the 39th with no Major Mac; it has taken away a lot of the joy of victory. I would give anything to get him back.

We buried him & Kenny in a little churchyard close here; I was so glad they buried him there, & that I was able to go to his funeral; I was at least able to pay my last respects to a very dear friend. All gone now, 7 good men in the 1st Bri. & 1 in the 2nd Bri, all given their lives for their country.

Everyone has been loud in their praises of the conduct of the two battalions in the fighting, but I would rather they said nothing if only we could get those good fellows back again.

Well it can’t be helped. I have tried to describe to you this small part we took. It was all very exciting, & after it was all over we were all absolutely done, tired was’nt the word. We had been constantly on the move for three days & nights, food had been erratic, & sleep out of the question. But for all that, the men were cheery & hopeful, & you couldn’t want better soldiers. I am frightfully busy now fixing up all the muddle inevitable after a show like this, & am still very sleepy & tired, as I have’nt had much time to rest yet.

I’m afraid the casualty lists will be heavy when published. We all had narrow shaves, I had a fearfully narrow one, but must tell you about it some other time, as I’m too tired to go on writing now. Goodnight Mother & I’m as right as rain & awfully fit.

Love to all   yr loving son

Ted.


The original of this letter is in the Archive of the the Imperial War Museum: Private Papers of Lieutenant Colonel E R P Berryman DSO –  http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1030021700 

The grave of Henry MacKinnon MacTier

The grave of Henry MacKinnon MacTier

War Graves Photographic Project: http://twgpp.org/information.php?id=1986474

Major Henry MacKinnon MacTier – 21/07/1866 to 12/03/1915
http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/328074/MACTIER,%20HENRY%20MacKINNON

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Neuve_Chapelle

 
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Posted by on 16 March, '15 in About

 

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13 March 1915 – Ted to Gertrude – Neuve Chapelle

March 13th/15

Dear Mother

Just a line to tell you briefly of our doings the last few days. On the 9th we left our billets after a week’s rest & marched to more billets near the trenches. We spent the 9th there & on the night of the 9th marched off to the trenches- on the morning of the 10th, as you see in the papers, we advanced. You no doubt saw that Neuve Chapelle was taken; well this brigade took it & the 2/39th practically took it on their own, & we went on right beyond it. After a terrific bombardment by artillery for ½ an hour we charged the trenches, captured 180 prisoners & 3 machine guns; we lost a few men but on the whole it was very successful- We dug trenches beyond Neuve Chapelle, & stayed in them that night.

We then got orders at 12 midnight to march off and relieve our 1st Batt: in the trenches, & there remained till dawn, when we were ordered off to be attached to another brigade as they were short of troops. So off we marched again, & reached them about 7 am and stayed there or thereabouts, digging & working hard, till 12 midnight, when we were told to march off and have a rest. Well we got to our billets at 3.30 am on the 12th, & got orders at 5 am to march off that morning at 7 a.m.!

So off we went again, back to have a real rest for 2 or 3 days as the men were rather tired & knocked up after 3 hard days & nights  fighting, marching, and digging- We got to our new billets, settled down, but at 4 p.m. got orders to proceed at once up to a village near the trenches to be in readiness.

So again we marched off, although none of us had had any sleep for 3 nights & had been hard at work all the time. However we staggered off & arrived here at 9.30 pm. & after a long search for billets managed to get settled down, very tired & very hungry & we had had no decent food either for 3 days.

I got to bed about 12.30 & had a good sleep, but I could do a lot more. We are still here awaiting orders. I am afraid our 1st Battn have had a lot of casualties, 7 officers killed, including my great friend Major Mac, who had gone to command them vice their colonel who had been wounded. This war is too awful for words. This is only a scrawl, will write more when I have time. I am very fit & well, & going strong.

Love to all, your loving son Ted

(Enclosed in letter the following:
With many thanks
I hope and trust he may get through alright but it is awful – W G )


The original of this letter is in the Archive of the the Imperial War Museum: Private Papers of Lieutenant Colonel E R P Berryman DSO –  http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1030021700 

In the ‘terrific bombardment by artillery’, Ted and Colonel Drake Brockman were sitting shoulder to shoulder, either side of two men who were killed outright by a shell exploding.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Neuve_Chapelle

 
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Posted by on 13 March, '15 in About

 

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12 March 1915 – 2/39 Garhwal Rifles – Unit War Diary

12-3-1915
LA COUTURE and CROIX
MARMEUSE, and RICHEBOURG
St VAAST.

LA COUTURE was reached by the last Company about 3.a.m., on the way back the Regiment had to march down a road which was being heavily shelled all night by the enemy, and 3 men of the Dogra Company were hit. The road was much congested with traffic, as the Sirhind Brigade were marching up it in one mass into the trenches to relieve the Dehra Dun Brigade. It was afterwards stated that some 300 casualties occurred on this road during the night from shell fire. On the way back the men collected as many of their great coats as they could find, which had been left in the 6th Jat trenches on the morning of the 10th previous to the attack.

The men had hardly settled down in LA COUTURE when orders were received to march early next morning to billets near L’ESTREM. Battalion marched at 7.30 a.m. and reached billets at CROIX MARMEUSE at 10.30 a.m after a long wait on the road for the billetting officer.

The march as necessarily a slow one as the men were much fatigued after their strenuous efforts of the last 3 days. Billets were much scattered here.

At 4.40 p.m. orders were received to march at once to RICHEBOURG St VAAST. the men were cooking at the time, and most of the food had to be thrown away and the Regiment fell in immediately and marched off. The march was very slow, and several men wanted to fall out owing to bad feet. In fact the feed of all the men were in a very bad way and the regiment was in no condition to do any more hard work till it had a day or two’s good rest and food. CROIX MARMEUSE was left about 5.45 p.m., and RICHEBOURG reached at 9.5 p.m. and on arrival their billets were allotted but proved difficult to find as there were so many troops in the village and no Staff Officer to show us till he was seen and fetched out. However sufficient rooms were eventually found and the men got what rest they could.

All ranks heard with the deepest regret this day that Major MacTier had been killed in action while commanding the 1/39th G, Vice Colonel Swiney, wounded.


The Unit War Diaries are held at the National Archives. Ted was Adjutant and often wrote them, but they are typed and it’s not possible to tell if he wrote them. In this case I wonder if Drake-Brockman wrote or dictated the diary.  Major “Mac” was a close friend of Ted’s.

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Posted by on 12 March, '15 in 39th Garhwal Rifles, Neuve Chapelle

 

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11 March 1915 – 2/39 Garhwal Rifles – Unit War Diary

11-3-1915
Trenches

At 5.a.m. orders were received placing the Battalion at the disposal of the G.O.C Dehra Dun Brigade, in connection with operations to be under-taken on the morning of the 11th. The Battalion was ordered to support the Right flank of the Dehra Dun Brigade, which was to attack the BOIS de BIEZ that morning. Accordingly the Battalion marched off once more and reached their appointed position on the R. flank of the Dehra Dun Brigade at about 6.30 a.m. The morning was foggy and cold. The Battalion took up a position in the open ground in front of trenches captured the previous day and now occupied by the 2/Leicester Regiment and the Seaforths. Touch was gained with the 2nd Gurkhas on our left and all as in readiness to support them when they advanced. The prospect was not a pleasing one as, the ground was absolutely open for 800 yards, and it was across this that the Battalion would have to advance, as it was, the battalion lying out there in the open suffered a good many casualties from rifle fire and snipers, and eventually the C.O. ordered their withdrawal into and behind the trenches, where some dead ground in an orchard afforded a certain amount of cover. here the Companies entrenched themselves, A report was sent into the G.O.C. Dehra Dun Brigade explaining the situation and pointing out the extreme difficulty of the task allotted to the Battalion, i.e. to advance under fire from 3 sides across the open ground. Meantime our guns shelled the BOIS de BIEZ heavily the enemy replying occasionally with rifle and machine gun fire. Considerable movement was seen in the German trenches opposite the Battalion, and it was evident that a good number were collecting there. the Bombardment of the BOIS de BIEZ continue practically all day, till about 4.p.m. Rations were brought up for the men by a party fo the 28th Gurkhas, the first food the men ha since leaving RICHEBOURG St VAAST, except what they had in their haversacks with them.

The Germans opened a fairly heavy shell fire all along the line from 4 to 5.30 pm, but no much [sic] damage was done.

At 12 midnight orders were received from G.O.C. Dehra Dun Brigade to march to billets at LA COUTURE. Which was reached at 3.a.m.

Casualties during this day.

Casualities - 11th May 1915

Casualties – 11th May 1915

Captain J F Parkin, 113th Infantry (attached) had been wounded on 10th instant while doing duty as Brigade Bomb gun officer through the busting of one of his own bomb gun while assisting in the attack on NEUVE CHAPELLE.


 

The Unit War Diaries are held at the National Archives. This time I find myself hearing echos of Drake-Brockman’s voice in the understandable irritation in this account and its overview of the day, and I find myself wondering if he dictated it. 

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Posted by on 11 March, '15 in 39th Garhwal Rifles, Neuve Chapelle

 

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10 March 1915 – 2/39 Garhwal Rifles – Unit War Diary

10-3-1915
NEUVE CHAPELLE
and VICINITY

Left RICHEBOURG St VAAST at 1.30 a.m, and marched to and took up position in 6th Jat trenches. Just before dawn Nos. 1 an 2 Coys., left the trenches and filed out in front of main trench and lay in readiness in a small trench specially dug at the C.O.’s request just the other side of the road ready for the assault on the German trenches covering Neuve Chapelle. Here the line lay down out of site of the German trenches defended [?] by  the shape of the ground. The whole Brigade was to assault in line, the regiments being in the following order from the left

2/39th G.  23rd G.R.  Leicesters.  1/39th G

The front to be assaulted was divided up and assigned to the various regiments of the Brigade as above, the 3/London Regiment being in reserve. The object of the attack was to capture the advanced German trenches, and if possible push on, capture NEUVE CHAPELLE and eventually occupy the original British line E. of the village, known as the Smith-Dorrien line, as being the line taken up by that General’s Corps in the fighting round this area in the early days of the war. The 8th (British) Division of the 4th Corps was also to assault on our left, and Brigades of the 1st Corps on our right were also to attack the German trenches in their front. The plan of attack was as follows:-

From 7.35 a.m. to 8.5 a.m. the guns were to concentrate their fire on the front to be assaulted by the Garhwal Brigade; 10 minutes fire being by Field Guns on wire entanglement etc. At 8.5 the attack was to be launched simultaneously along the whole line, though the attack by the 8th Division was timed for half an hour later. At 7.30 a.m., the guns began a terrific bombardment, every kind of gun being used, field siege, and howitzer. The noise as deafening and the fire very accurate. One or two premature bursts caused casualties in the trenches, but these were remarkably few considering the number in action. the German guns also fired a good deal in reply.

Precisely at 8.5 a.m. Nos. 1 and 2 Companies rose to the assault, advancing in a very good line across the 100 – 200 yards or so between the trenches, followed by their 2nd Platoons at 50 yards distance, and soon reached the German lines. The barbed wire had been cut a good deal by the fire of the guns, and but [sic] little resistance was at first met with. Bombing and bayonet parties worked down the main fire trench an up communication ones and so rounded up prisoners who all surrendered and touch was thus gained with the Berkshire regiment who also were working up the trenches towards us. Several casualties occurred here, bu t the line pressed on, and reached their objective the line G – H. During this advance 187 prisoners and 3 Machine Guns were captured. Meantime No. 3 Company had been sent  up to support Nos. 1 and 2, and eventually the whole line advanced and passed through NEUVE CHAPELLE and reached the Smith- Dorien line beyond. touch was gained with the Rifle Brigade on the left, the right battalion of the 8th Division. A strong line was now established here, the Battalion taking up a position in support of the front line behind the 2/3rd G.R and facing the BOIS de BIE. Sandbags, hurdles, and entrenching tools were found in a house in NEUVE CHAPELLE, evidently a German Sapper depot, and good use was made of all this material to build up a breastwork. a few shells were fired during the day and occasionally a maxim [gun] opened on the groups working, but on the while there was little firing. Jemadar Ghantu Sing Bisht [sic – this was how Singh was spelt at this time] was killed by maxim fire while here.

During the advance, Subedar Shib Sing Negi had been killed, and Subedar Ratan Sing Negi, Jemadar Balbhadar Sing Gusain and Jemadar Amar Sing Negi had been wounded. 26 rand and file had been killed, and 75 wounded, 31 being reported missing of whom 11 were  believed to have been killed. Subedar Khiyali Sing Negi was missing, not traceable at all, so it is presumed he must have been killed by a shell.

The advance has been carried out with great dash and vigour, and the start was well timed; and this undoubtedly prevented heavier casualties. The men behaved splendidly and were always ready and anxious to advance further.

The Battle of Neuve Chapelle

This photograph of a painting, probably of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, was among Ted’s papers

(For a detailed account of the operations see report, Appendix attached).

About 5 p.m. G.O.C Brigde sent for the C.O. and he received orders to go and consult with Colonel. Swiney, 1/39th G. who had been slightly wounded about consolidating the R.Flank of the line at PORT ARTHUR and to take over both Battalions. Orders were received to be ready to move at a moments notice, and at 12 midnight the Battalion was ordered to proceed to PORT ARTHUR. On the way the Commanding Officer was met on his way back from PORT ARTHUR and he ordered the Battalion back to the trenches they had just evacuated. meanwhile the G.O.C. Brigade had directed Major MacTier, to take over Command of the 1/39th G. vice Colonel. Swiney who had been wounded, and Captain Harbord was also transferred to the 1/39th G. as they had suffered heavily today in the attack losing 6 British Officers Killed. the Battalions returned to the breastwork behind the 2/3rd G.R., and got what rest it could.

2/39 Garhwal Rifles, Casualties, 10th March

2/39 Garhwal Rifles, Casualties, 10th March


The Unit War Diaries are held at the National Archives. As Adjutant, Ted was often responsible for writing them. It’s hard to tell when he wrote them because they are often typed, though sometimes his voice comes through. However, the typescript for the 10th March has additions and corrections which are not in his writing. 

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit
 
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Posted by on 10 March, '15 in Neuve Chapelle

 

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