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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. 

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Posted by on 10 March, '15 in Neuve Chapelle

 

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

9-3-1915
RICHEBOURGH
St VAAST

Cold morning with wind and frost, with some snow during the day. Final preparations made for going into trenches to night, taking over Bombs, ammunition etc.

Orders received to march to position of assembly in 6th Jat trenches along ESTAIRES-LA BASSÉE road at 1.30 a.m. on 10th.


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.  

 
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Posted by on 9 March, '15 in Neuve Chapelle

 

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