THE SOMME SECTOR - October 1916 Based on extracts from the Regimental War Chronicles of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light infantry Vol 26 1916-1917
October 1st.-Sarton. The clock was put back one hour, to winter time, at 1 a.m.
A fine, bright Sunday. The Rev. W. L. S. Dallas took the Church Parade Service (at which the Divisional Commander, Major-General W. G. Walker, V.C., C.B., and the Brigade-Commander, Brigadier-General G. M. Bullen-Smith, D.S.O., and part of their respective Staffs were present), followed by a celebration of Holy Communion, and then left to join the 165th Infantry Brigade.
The 59th reinforcement (11 men) joined.
During the period of rest and training at Sarton (since 20th September) some very useful work was carried out. Various forms of instruction, usually by lecture, for the newly joined officers, and physical training for everybody else, before breakfast, and close-order and skirmishing drills, attacks from trenches, wiring, bombing, and Lewis-gun classes after breakfast daily. Officers' Riding School daily, under the Transport Officer.
October 2nd.-The Regiment paraded, so as to pass the starting-point (H.18.a.30) at 10.33 a.m., and marched to Bus-lez-Artois. Went into huts, which had been left in a very dirty condition by the last occupants. A very wet march and a wet night.
October 3rd.-Found two fatigues parties (2 officers and 160 other ranks), who were ordered to be at the rendezvous at 9 a.m. The Regiment moved via Bertrancourt and Beaussart to huts in Mailly Wood.
October 4th.-In Mailly Wood (P.l8.a.b). Furnished fatigue (over 200) at several points. 2nd Lieut. R. Blackwell joined, and was posted to D Company. Lieut. Peploe transferred from D to B Company.
October 5th.-C.O., with Company Commanders, visited trenches in Serre left sub-sector, with a view to taking over tomorrow from the 1st K.R.R.C. (99th Brigade).
October 6th.-Relieved the 1st K.R.R.C. in trenches extending from near Mathew Copse on the right to Russian Sap (just short of John Copse) on the left.
This is a place of considerable trench-mortar activity, a number of guns being established in our lines with a view to wire-cutting. Retaliation for these afternoon shoots cause a certain amount of damage to our line.
2nd Lieut. Fitt proceeded to England, on transfer to the Machine-gun Corps.
October 7th.-Quiet. Mainly remarkable for the great number of reconnoitring officers (Staff, and of all units and arms) who came up during the day.
October 8th.-The Regiment was relieved in the afternoon by the 4th Royal Fusiliers (Lieut.-Colonel E. B. North), now belonging to the 3rd Division, and with whom the Regiment was brigaded (5th Infantry Brigade) in 1911-1912 at Aldershot.
Marched to bivouac in Lealvillers. Wet.
Captain G. Field, M.C., admitted to hospital, having injured his foot by a fall in the trenches.
October 9th.-Reconnaissance by officers of practice trenches, taped out to the south of Arqueves:
October 10th.-At Lealvillers. Lieut. K. Peploe took over command of B Company (with temporary rank of Captain), in place of Captain Field, M.C.
The 60th reinforcement (7 men) joined.
A Brigade conference in the morning, and in the afternoon a Brigade parade for exercise over the taped practice trenches.
October 11th.-The 61st reinforcement (11 men) joined. Another Brigade practice on the same ground took place this morning.
October 12th.-Brigade practice repeated.
October 13th.-Divisional practice of the same scheme as yesterday. The 62nd reinforcement, conducted by 2nd Lieut. A. O W. Webster-Jones (who returned to the Reserve Army School on handing over), arrived. The reinforcement consisted of 95 men, transferred from the 6th R. Berks, and many of them were of a group called up in June 1916, and originally enlisted for the R.F.A. Their knowledge of drill was unsatisfactory, especially the handling of arms.
October 14th.-Quiet day in camp. Inspection of draft.
The 63rd reinforcement (10 signallers) arrived.
October 16th.—Divisional practice, as on the 13th.
October 17th.-The Regiment marched independently to billets in Arqueves.
October 19th.-At Arqueves. 2nd Lieut. A. 0. W. Webster-Jones joined for duty, and was posted to A Company.
October 22nd.-The Regiment moved to billets in Mailly Maillet, in relief of the 17th R. Fusiliers, who went into the trenches.
October 25th.-To trenches in Redan Section, in relief of the 24th R. Fusiliers (left sub-sector) and 2nd H.L.I, (right sub-sector).
October 26th.-Wet and moderately quiet. Two parties, each of an officer and 14 others, went out in front of the Redan at 7,45 p.m., in order to try to get through two gaps in the enemy's wire, and to take prisoner a sentry so as to get an identification. Owing to the fact that they were only shown the ground last night and so had an imperfect knowledge of it, both parties failed to find gaps, and returned with several men slightly wounded.
Casualties during the day.—5 men killed.
October 27th.-Relieved by the 17th R.F., and moved to Mailly Maillet. Captain K. W. Mackenzie, M.C. (R.A.M.C.), transferred to act as D.A.D.M.S. and Division, was relieved as Medical Officer by Captain D. S. Cassidy (R.A.M.C.).
October 28th.-In billets at Mailly Maillet. Bathing, inspections, etc.
October 29th.-Captain J. McTurk (R.A.M.C.) relieved Captain Cassidy as Medical Officer.
October 30th.-The 5th Brigade was relieved by the 99th Brigade, the Regiment remaining in the same billets. A very wet day.
1. The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Chronicle, 1916-17. Vol 26 : compiled and edited by Lieut.-Colonel A.F. Mockler-Ferryman: London : Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1918
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