1ST BUCKINGHAMSHIRE BATTALION WAR DIARY 15-17 JULY 1917
Battn marched by Coys at 200 yards interval to CANAL BANK leaving DAMBRE CAMP at 11am in accordance with W3X
Dinner and Teas eaten there.
Men made to rest the whole afternoon.
Started moving from CANAL BANK by platoons at 11pm.
Route up to Forming Up Positions –CORDUROY track past HAMMONDS CORNER – JULIET FARM.
Considerable delay at HAMMONDS CORNER, owing to Lewis Gun limbers not arriving in time, they having been blocked on the road.
Very Dark night.
ZERO to be 4.45am, 16th inst.
Ration Strength 22 Officers 806 OR
A, B, & D Coys formed up W of STEENBEEK by Zero. Only one casualty.
C Coy late owing to above mentioned Lewis Gun limbers & heavy enemy shelling which they encountered on way up.
DISPOSITIONS- The Battalion in four waves-each Company on a two platoon front.
A Coy on Left & B Coy on Right forming 1st two waves C Coy on Left & D Coy on Right forming 2nd two waves
Battn HQ at C12C03.
1/5th GLOSTER REGT on Right 1/4th OX & BUCKS LI on Left 1/4th R BERKS REGT in Support.
1st Wave-HILLOCK FARM & line of gunpits to its Right.
2nd Wave-GREEN LINE (SPOT FARM–SPRINGFIELD-LANGEMARK RD)
3rd Wave-RED LINE
4th Wave-BLUE LINE Right Coy –STROPPE FARM
Left Coy – GENOA & HUBNER FARM
NARRATIVE Soon after leading Company (A) reached its Forming Up Position W of STEENBEEK, enemy commenced to shell ground about 150 yards behind. To keep all companies clear of this, the leading companies were sent forward close to the stream.
Two leading Companies (A & B) crossed stream at Zero -7.
1 Platoon “C” Coy arrived about this time.
Remaining 3 platoons did not arrive until Zero +20 & losing direction to the Left were so far as this Battn was concerned, NO further assistance in the attack.
The Right of the leading wave lost a few men from our own barrage, but this lifted before they could reach the ridge E of STEENBEEK and they came under heavy Machine Gun fire while topping the ridge.
This fire was very rapidly reinforced by considerable rifle fire from trenches to the sides and front of numerous concrete blockhouses out of which the MGs were firing.
The leading wave of the Right Company was almost entirely annihilated by this fire.
The second wave closed up & engaged the enemy with fire, while parties worked around the flanks.
But the enemy kept up a very strong resistance & until the 3rd wave joined in & closed on them with a rush they showed no signs of giving in.
After this charge, there was a short bout of hand to hand fighting before the enemy in & around one house out up their hands. This was at about 6am.
After this the other garrisons soon followed suit.
The Left leading company met with less resistance at first but after going about 150 yards E of the STEENBEEK, they came under a very heavy cross fire from machine Guns at a distance & the first wave reached the gun pit line with about 16 men.
The second wave closed up but the left platoon was absolutely stopped by fire from the Left gun pit, & a trench immediately NE of it, also from MAISON DU HIBOU & TRIANGLE FARM.
The Right half of the second wave went right through , passing SE of HILLOCK FARM apparently taking with them the remains of the Right Platoon of the 1st wave, altogether about 25 strong & reached SPRINGFIELD & road to left of it about 6.45am.
Several of these were seen to fall in route especially by line of gun pits around C.12.a.8.7. Six of our men were seen at SPRINGFIELD about 9am & four were seen led away by Germans about 9.30am.
At about 7am, Battn HQ moved forward to blockhouses at C12a51.
At that time situation was as follows. ( a ) CAPT PULLMAN, 2LT REEVES with about 25 men & 2LGs holding line from C.12.c.96 – 78
( b ) about 15 men & 1 Lewis Gun C12c65-58
( c ) about 20 men astride road in neighbourhood of HILLOCK FARM
( d ) 1 Offr & 6 OR in GUNPIT C.12a.3.4
( e ) 4 men under a Cpl at C.12a.62.45
( f ) about 25 men & 1 Lewis Gun reported to have got through to SPRINGFIELD
2LT PASSMORE although slightly wounded was commanding Left half of line & On the Right it was impossible to get on as there was a large sheet of water in front & the ground all round was little short of a morass, with a blockhouse & gunpit the far side held by enemy Machine Guns & a number of snipers.
Every attempt at movement resulted in casualties.
2LT JOHNSTON was seriously wounded here in trying to get touch with this party of D Coy. Several attempts were made to get forward on the Left but all were stopped by enemy MG fire.
At this time there was no connection with the Battalions on either flank.
About midday casualties from enemy snipers & MG on the left had become so numerous that we were forced to withdraw from HILLOCK FARM & take up a position immediately to the South of it.
This proved to be but a slight improvement as enemy fire from TRIANGLE FARM & MAISON DU HIBOU never stopped shelling the TRIANGLE FARM – ST JULIEN ROAD & the ground to either side of it.
Finally at dusk after an enemy counter attack the Left withdrew to a line C12a23 – C.12.a.7.2 – C.12.c8.8.
The Right consolidated their position consisting of a disused trench.
By evening it was evident we did not hold SPRINGFIELD any longer. A patrol set out to get there during the night but lost their way.
ENEMY COUNTER ATTACKS
About 8am the enemy were seen to be coming over the ridge N of SPRINGFIELD in threes & fours & dropping into a trench just SE of Xroads C.6.d.2.1. This continued for some time.
About 9am two or three lines of men came over the ridge & moved down towards TRIANGLE FARM.
There was also an attempt made to reinforce the gun pit opposite our Right.
By this time a Vickers Gun had been mounted on top of one of the blockhouses close to Battn HQ & two others arrived about this time & were quickly got into action in a trench about C.12.a.3.0.
All available men round Battn HQ were sent up to reinforce the men around HILLOCK FARM.
1 platoon 4 R BERKS was asked for & put into positions about C.12.a.2.5 to protect Left flank. This platoon were in position by 10am.
Our fire stopped the enemy advance about TRIANGLE FARM & after about 20 minutes many of them were seen returning over the ridge.
About 7.30pm the enemy attempted to rush the gunpits at about C.12.a.2.4 but were stopped & suffered heavily.
At 9.30pm he again attacked from direction of TRIANGLE FARM & rushed our posts with bombs, succeeding in driving them in.
The night passed without further incident.
Enemy could not be said to have put down a barrage, but a few minutes after Zero, the shells (chiefly 5.9”s) which had been bursting behind us appeared to shorten range & burst on both sides of the STEENBEEK, but casualties from shell fire NOT numerous.
GENERAL Ground Very Wet.
Lewis Guns especially got V muddy& in some cases unworkable.
Barrage had NO effect on concrete blockhouses, which had NOT previously been knocked down by heavies.
A large number of Germans had been killed.
Enemy belonged to 7th BAVARIAN INF REGT.
About 80 prisoners (wounded & unwounded) 1 Field Gun 3 Machine Guns
Strength of Battn (Bayonets) before going into action
BN HQ 7 OFFICERS 42 OR A COY 3 OFFICERS 148 OR B COY 3 OFFICERS 148 OR C COY 3 OFFICERS 142 OR D COY 2 OFFICERS 152 OR