EXTRACTED FROM THE REGIMENTAL CHRONICLES OF THE OXFORDSHIRE & BUCKINGHAMSHIRE LIGHT INFANTRY
The last half of 1916 was spent in recreating the Battalion, by gathering together and training men. The few survivors of the unfortunate repulse at Sannaiyat (April 6th) were gradually reinforced by drafts from England and from the convalescent depot in India. Lieut.-Colonel L. H. R. Pope-Hennessy, D.S.O., had been sent out from home to take command, but the greater number of the officers were attached from other regiments. The time spent at Amara was uneventful from the point of view of military operations, but there was plenty of leisure for getting the new Battalion into order, and by the end of November it had been stiffened up by the return of a considerable number of old soldiers who had recovered from wounds received in the earlier battles on the Tigris. In December the Battalion moved up to Sheikh Saad, for duty on the line of communications, and occupied the Blockhouse Line guarding the railway from Sheikh Saad to Atab. On this and similar duty higher up the Tigris the Battalion was employed until the summer of 1917, at which time Lieut.-Colonel F. H. Stapleton was in command, having replaced Lieut.-Colonel Pope-Hennessy, employed on the Staff.
From the Battalion Diary. July 1st.—The strength of the Battalion this day is 16 officers and 312 other ranks.
July 6th.—The Provisional Battalion will in future be known as the 1st Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. A G.H.Q. telegram intimated that this change of nomenclature had come into force on the 30th April.
July 8th.—Lieut. Kinghorn, 2 machine-guns and Section, and 6 signallers embarked for Qualat Saleh.
July 9th-31st.—The Battalion remained at Amara. Perimeter Camp, Tigris right bank, employed on fatigues and in training.
During the month 3 men died of enteric, 1 of cholera, and 1 of dysentery.
The strength of the Battalion on the 31st July was 13 officers and 287 other ranks.
August 4th.—2nd Lieut. Griffin assumed command of A Company;
2nd Lieut. Roberts and 2 N.C.O.'s commenced a course at the Machine Gun School, Amara.
August 14th.—2nd Lieut. Wilmot and Regimental Sergeant-Major Dancy proceeded on one month's leave to India.
Major R. H. Crake (King's Own Scottish Borderers) arrived from Basra, for duty with the Battalion, and took over the command from Captain Titherington, who had assumed temporary command on the 28th July, when Major the Hon. W. R. S. Barrington was admitted to hospital.
August 22nd.—A draft of 220 O.R. joined the Battalion from Magil and England.
August 23rd.—A draft of 35 joined from Basra. C and D Companies were formed, 2nd Lieut. Field in command of the former, Lieut. Kinghorn of the latter.
August 28th.—2nd Lieut. P. G. Wells (2nd King's Liverpool Regiment) joined the Battalion for duty.
August 31st.—The whole of the month of August was devoted to training of various kinds, including night operations, musketry, etc. The strength of the Battalion was now 15 officers and 530 other ranks.
September 1st.- The following was received from the A A.G., 3rd Echelon :-- "Extract from Gazette of India, No. 776, 13.7.16: 'Officers, N.C.O.'s, and men under Major-General C. V. F. Townshend, C.B., D S.O., brought to notice for Gallant and Distinguished Service in the Field from 5th October 1915 to 17th January 1916 :-- Lieut.-Colonel E. A. E. Lethbridge, D.S.O. Captain W. E. T. Morland. Captain S. C. B. Mundey. 2nd Lieut. F. Brown (since deceased). Captain Hon. J. C. W. S. Foljambe (since deceased). Captain and Quartermaster T. Ivey. 8540 Private L. Grey (since deceased) 5574 A/R.S.M. J. Love. 8361 Private A. Apps. 8148 A/C.Q.M.S. W. Robins. 7452 A/Corporal W. Donohoe. 9015 Private A. Evans (since deceased) 9687 Private J. Harvey. 6907 A/Sergeant A. Purseglove. 8057 A/Sergeant F. Smith. 5768 A/C.Q.M.S. H. Arlett, 8397 Sergeant Armitt. 7315 Private E. Leach. 9099 Private Day.
September 5th.—A draft of 55 N.C.O.'s and men joined the Battalion, including 28 Serving Soldiers from the 2nd Durham Light Infantry (Nowshera).
September 16th.—Major the Hon. W. R. S. Barrington returned from hospital, and took up the duties of Second in Command.
September 18th—In Part II. Orders a list of 23 N.C.O.'s and men who died at Kut or Baghdad between 23rd April and 4th September was published today; of these 20 belonged to the 43rd, and 3 were attached.
Lieut. G Heawood (2/4th Wilts, attached) and 23 N.C.O.'s and men, taken prisoner at Kut (29th April), and subsequently exchanged, left Basra for India on the 9th September; 18 belonged to the 43rd, and 5 were attached to it from other regiments.
September 29th.—A draft of 66 other ranks (including 44 N.C.O.'s and men who had previously served with the 43rd) joined the Battalion.
September 30th-.—Strength of Battalion, 16 officers and 654 other ranks.
The Battalion remained at Amara, in the same camp on the right bank of the Tigris, the training being continued as before.
One man died of cholera on September 3rd.
October 1st.—Part II. Musketry Course was concluded.
October 5th.—Lieut.-Colonel L. H. R. Pope-Hennessy, D.S.O., joined from England and took over command of the Battalion. Captain W. E. C. Terry also joined from England, and took command of C Company.
October 6th.—2nd Lieut. J. R. Brown and 150 O.R. joined from the 3rd Battalion. The draft came from various regiments and had an average service of 3 months.
October 11th— 2nd Lieuts. F. E. Anderson and H. W. Bleeze, with 150 O.R., joined the Battalion from England, being the remainder of the last draft.
October 16th.—2nd Lieut. Wilmot and R.-S.-M. Dancy returned from leave in India.
October 22nd.—Company Training started.
October 23rd.—The Amara Column mobilized. The 2/7th Gurkhas proceeded last evening to raid an Arab village 14 miles east of Amara with one troop of cavalry. Agents had reported that the village contained hidden rifles. The surprise was not successful, but 300 sheep were captured. The Battalion, with other troops, started at 5 a.m. and met the Gurkhas returning at 9.30 a.m., the whole force reaching camp at 12.30p.m. The day was hot and still, and about 50 men of the Battalion fell out, three of whom were admitted to hospital, while the others rejoined in the evening. 2nd Lieut. H. T. C. Field took over the command of B Company from Captain H. C. Butcher, admitted to hospital.
October 24th-31st.-Company Training continued. One company now finds the guards and duties daily. The guards take 19 N.C.O.'s and 105 men, and are over hospital, blockhouses, railway, various offices in Amara, etc.
October 3lst.—The present strength of the Battalion is 22 officers and 914 other ranks.
November 1st.—Company Training continued.
November 6th.—2nd Lieuts. G. C. Huggard, H. E. F. Smyth, T. R. Milford, rejoined from India, and a draft of 61 men joined from Bangalore.
November 18th—TCompany Training completed to the 13th day. N.C.O.'s and men rejoined from courses, 16 qualified instructors in Lewis Gun, 32 1st Class Bombers, 16 1st Class Snipers.
The Battalion is still waiting for Lewis and Vickers guns.
November 19th.—The Battalion was warned to be prepared to move to Sheikh Saad at short notice.
November 22nd.—Second Bombers' Course (under 2nd Lieut. Bleeze) and second Snipers' Course (under 2nd Lieut. F. E. Anderson) commenced.
Winter scale of clothing issued, viz.: serge, 3 blankets, and waterproof cape.
In future in "marching order " a cardigan and a waterproof cape will be carried.
November 27th.—Barges were allotted, and the Battalion was ordered to embark at 12 noon tomorrow on P. 55. Loaded the barges, and handed over the camp to the l/6th Devons, but the embarkation orders were subsequently cancelled.
November 28th.—Ordered to embark on P. 52 at 8 a.m. tomorrow.
November 29th.—P. 52 did not come alongside until 8 p.m. The Battalion then embarked in the dark.
November 30th.—P. 52 left Amara at 6 a.m. and stopped for the night at Ali Garbi. The strength of the Battalion this day was 24 officers and 918 other ranks.
December 1st.—P. 52 left Ali Garbi in the morning, and arrived at Sheikh Saad at night.
December 2nd.—Sheikh Saad (right back of Tigris). At 9 a.m. the Battalion started disembarkation, and unloaded the barges in two hours. The rest of the day was spent in pitching camp 800 yards from the river and settling in. There was no transport, and it was found that the tents (thirty-five 160 Ib. tents), which had been supplied to us from the Ordnance at Amara, were deficient of poles, so we had to borrow tents from the 2nd Dorsets. The Battalion took over internal defence guards, amounting to about 100 men nightly.
December 3rd-5th.—Battalion Training and fatigues.
December 7th.—Ordered to be ready to move at short notice on various detachments.
December 11th-2nd Lieut. G. R. Grosvenor and one platoon of C Company left, by road, for the Advanced G.H.Q. at Sinn.
December 12th.—C Company less one platoon, and two platoons of A Company, left by road under Captain W. E. C. Terry, for Advanced G.H.Q. at Sinn, to be Army Commanders' Guard and Prisoners-of-War Guard.
December 13th.—The Battalion was relieved of all garrison duties.
December 14th.—Mobile Column (Xth Lancers, section 2/105th Battery, half battalion 43rd) moved off at 7 a.m. in the direction of Lots Mound, south-west of Sheikh Saad. We halted about 3 miles out from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in support of the cavalry, who patrolled up to Lots Mound. No enemy encountered, and the Column returned to camp at dark
December 15th.—The Battalion found the garrison fatigues.
December 16th.—Instructions received that the Battalion would take over the Blockhouse Line l from No. 31 (near Twin Canals) to No. 66 .(near Imam-el-Mansur and garrison S.P. 4).
The detachment at Sinn left 1 platoon of A Company there, and the remainder moved to the most distant end of the Blockhouse Line (western end). The Arab Village detachment moved to S.P. 4.
(In December 1901 the 43rd were carrying out similar duties on the Blockhouse Line across a portion of the Orange River Colony.—ed.)
December 17th.—Signallers, Machine Gun Section, with two Maxim-guns and 30 men of B Company, left for S.P.4; transport, 20 camels; arrived 11 a.m. on the 18th.
December 19th.—Regimental H.Q. moved to S.P. 4.
C Company occupied S.P. 12 with one machine-gun.
Surplus stores, etc., dumped at Sheikh Saad awaiting transport. At 7 p.m. 100 men of the 2nd Norfolks arrived at S.P.4 with orders to relieve the garrison of S.P. 4 and the company occupying Blockhouses 31 to 42, who were to move forthwith to Dujailah. Redoubt.
December 21st.—Regimental H.Q. moved to Blockhouse 55—a central position near Sinn. Dujailah started rationing from Sinn, whence companies had been drawing independently.
400 mounted Arabs reported to be on Jumailiat. The Xth Lancers made a reconnaissance in that direction.
December 22nd.—The piquets along the old Turkish position thrown out by Dujailah towards Atab were withdrawn. The left of the 119th Infantry connects with Imam.
December 23rd.—The Battalion came under the command of Lieut.-Colonel Darley (2/119th Infantry), commanding the West Section of L. of C. Defences. The garrison of Dujailah was reduced to 200, so B Company returned to H.Q. The Cavalry Division bivouacked near Blockhouse 54, prior to raiding Gossar's Fort.
December 24th.—H.Q. moved to old IIIrd Corps H.Q. camp (Sinn), which was found in a most unsanitary condition.
December 25th.—1 platoon of A Company, relieved from G.H.Q. Guard, rejoined the Company. All companies are now complete units, less Lewis-gun crews still at Dujailah.
December 26th.—The Battalion took over the Prisoners of-War Camp at Sinn from the Squadron Xth Lancers.
December 27th.—Rain. Commenced wiring Blockhouse Line from the Imam end.
December 28th.—Training impossible, owing to the state of the ground.
December 29th.—Sergeant-Major G. Dancy promoted Hon. Lieut, and Quartermaster (London Gazette, 16th December), and took over the duties from Lieut. W. W. Wooding, who had been acting in that capacity since 16th February last.
December 30th.—Rain. Inter-company reliefs between H.Q. Blockhouse Line, and Dujailah.
A new line of blockhouses (south of Dujailah Depression and east of Imam) is proposed.
December 3lst.—H.Q. at Sinn. Ground drying, but movement still difficult, owing to mud. Blockhouse 61 destroyed by rain; the blockhouses east of Sinn are surrounded by water.
Field Firing from Dujailah with Lewis-guns.
Strength of the Battalion, 22 officers and 860 other ranks.