The Regiment marched, as part of the 5th Brigade, to the area Hermin-Frevillers via Dieval and Bajus. One hour halt for tea east of Dieval.
April 10th.-To Maroeuil.
April 11th.-On the 2nd Division relieving the 51st (Highland) (T.F.), in the area in front of Roclincourt, captured by the latter Division on the two preceding days, the Regiment went into support in the old German Second Line (Kleeman Stellung), relieving the 6th Black Watch. The relief was effected during the afternoon and in a snowstorm, which made conditions throughout extremely unpleasant. Two companies (A in particular) were very badly provided with dugouts, which in this line were most disappointing. Shelters had to be improvised, in some instances with S.A A. boxes.
April 13th.-In the early morning Brigade orders were received to make preparations to carry out an attack on the railway line crossing the Divisional front, about 700 yards in front of the then British Front Line (Farbus—Point-de-jour Line), and establish a line of posts in front of it in the direction of the line Bailleul-Willerval. Reconnaissances of forming-up places were made by officers. During the afternoon, however, the line was found to have been vacated by the enemy, and occupied by the front battalion (24th R.F.) on the Brigade front.
About 10 p.m. the Regiment moved forward, still as support battalion, having A and D Companies in the Farbus—Point-du-Jour Line, and H.Q., B and C Companies, and the Regimental Aid Post in Tommy Trench.
April 14th.- At night the Regiment relieved the 24th R.F. in the front line, H.Q. moving to a dugout on the railway embankment. There was considerable delay, due chiefly to the non-arrival of ration and water pack-transport at the proper places, the convoy having been misled by its guides. The line which the Regiment was to hold ran parallel to and about 1,000 yards from the Oppy-Arleux and Arleux Switch Trenches, which were held by the enemy.
Disposition of the Regiment : A, B, and D Companies, each with 2 platoons in the front line posts, and C Company in posts round the Sugar Factory.
Owing to the difficulty of finding the posts in the intense darkness, the relief was not complete until after daylight (15th April).
Casualties.—2 men killed and 3 wounded.
April 15th.-The enemy bombarded all the posts throughout the day with H.E. and shrapnel. During the night (15th/16th) B and D Companies were relieved by the 17th R.F., and were brought back to dugouts in Sunken Road, between the railway embankment and the Sugar Factory. The enemy bombardment was particularly heavy this night.
Casualties.—2 men wounded.
April 16th.- Casualties.—1 killed, 10 wounded, 1 missing.
April 16th/17th.-At 6.40 p.m. orders were received for the Regiment and the 17th R.F., in conjunction with the 63rd (R.N.) Division on the right, and Canadians on the left, to "endeavour to capture" the Oppy Line and Arleux Switch by means of bombing parties. According to all reports of observers and patrols, the wire was thick and without gaps on our front. At about 10.30 p.m. the attack was postponed, in order that further patrols should be sent out.
At about 3.30 a.m. the attack was cancelled. It rained all night, and there was heavy hostile shelling.
After 3.30 a.m. D Company relieved A Company, which, with B, was moved to Ouse Trench and cellars and dugouts in the northern outskirts of Bailleul.
April 11th.-During the afternoon several cellars occupied by A Company were blown in by shell-fire, and the Company was moved to a dugout in the Sunken Road.
Casualties.—5 killed, 4 wounded, 1 missing.
At night B and C Companies exchanged places.
April 18th/19th.-The Regiment was relieved by the 2nd South Staffordshire Regiment (6th Infantry Brigade), and withdrew to the old British and German frontline dugouts. All ranks were in a very exhausted condition, and badly in need of a few days' rest.
Casualties.-On the 18th, 1 man wounded; on the 19th, 5 men wounded.
April 2lst.- The Regiment exchanged lines with the 2nd H.L.I., being then posted: H.Q. and C Company in Tommy Trench; A, B, and D Companies in the Kleeman Stellung.
April 22nd.-B and D Companies moved to the Farbus—Point-du-Jour Line, in relief of two companies 17th Middlesex Regiment.
April 23rd.- The 63rd (R.N.) Division, on the right of the 2nd Division, attacked and captured Gavrelle about dawn, thereby somewhat advancing the British line to the south. From near our Regimental H.Q. an excellent view was obtainable, both of the attack and of the several counter-attacks. Officers and Regimental Observers were employed all day in watching and writing reports.
April 24th.-Comparatively quiet day, but the enemy made several more fruitless counter-attacks on Gavrelle.
April 25th.-Orders received at 1.30 p.m. that the Regiment would be relieved by the 17th R.F., and would then proceed to Bray, near Ecoivres and Mont St. Eloi.
April 26th.- Move completed about 3 a.m. Day spent in explanation of the schemes, etc.
ATTACK ON THE ARLEUX-OPPY LINE.
Secret Orders for the attack had already been issued by the 2nd Division and by the 5th Infantry Brigade. The Officer Commanding the Regiment embodied such of these as applied to the Regiment in his Confidential Orders, given further on. There were, however, certain orders and instructions, issued by the Division and the Brigade, which are of considerable interest, as showing to what extent matters of detail were worked out beforehand; and some of these orders are worthy of being quoted in full. After giving the plan of the attack, the boundaries of the Divisional front, the dividing lines between Brigades, and the exact location of the three objectives, the method of carrying out the attack by the battalions was entered into fully, while separate instructions were given (in appendices) for the employment of Trench Mortar Batteries, Machine-gun Companies, R.E., Signallers, Bombers, etc.
Extracts from 5th Infantry Brigade Orders.
"DRESS.—Fighting order without greatcoats.Waterproof sheets will be carried, as well as the following :--
(a) Two No. 5 Mills bombs per man.
(b) 120 rounds A.S.A. per man, except signallers, bombers, rifle-bombers, scouts, runners, Vickers and Lewis-gimners, who will carry 50 rounds.
(c) One day's ration per man.
(d) By every other man one flare.
(e) Two sandbags per man.
(f) Wire-cutters and breakers as available. (Wire-cutters should be attached to the man by a cord.)
"Officers will be dressed exactly the same as their men. They will carry Very pistols and a packet of S.O.S. coloured lights.
"Field Message Cards will be carried by all officers and Platoon Commanders.
"Distinguishing marks will be worn as laid down.
"Not more than 16 officers (including Medical Officers) will go in with a battalion. The complement of N.C.O.'s and men laid down in para. 30 S.S. 135 must be left behind.
"All ranks are forbidden to carry any document, maps, or sketches which may give information to the enemy.
"Watches will be synchronized at 10a.m., 2p.m., and 10p.m. on ' Y' day, and 3 hours before zero."
Appendix III to Brigade Orders dealt with inter-communications as follows:-- 1.Telephone.—Lines will be laid to the Sugar Factory and forward to the two Battalion H.Q. on road in D.l0.b.
There will be an exchange at the Sugar Factory.
Battalion Signal Officers of the two attacking battalions will arrange for lines to be laid to companies on the night Y/Z.
Each attacking company will carry on their line immediately after zero. Cable for this purpose will be provided.
Earth circuits will be employed until time and opportunity admit of improvement.
The two lines thus taken over on each battalion front should be laddered, if possible, by small parties detailed for the purpose, having prepared lengths of cable with them.
2.Runners.—A Brigade Runner Post will be established at the Sugar Factory consisting of 1 N.C.O. and 6 men. This will work both backwards and forwards.
The two attacking battalions will establish Relay Posts in the Arleux Loop as soon as it is captured.
They will consist each of 1 N.C.O. and 6 men. These will be called No. 1 Relay Posts.
No. 2 Relay Posts (consisting of the same number) will be ready to advance as soon as the final objective is captured. They will be instructed to report to Company Commanders as soon as they arrive, and will be used for sending back to the No. 1 Posts.
Telephone lines mentioned in para. 1 should be led into the Runner Posts, and linesmen posted there.
3.Power Buzzers.—One Power Buzzer will be established at the Forward Battalion H.Q. This will be manned by brigade signals.
The listening set will be at Brigade H.Q.
One Power Buzzer will be kept in reserve at Sugar Factory, and will be sent up on word being received by brigade signals that a suitable place had been found.
There will be one Power Buzzer in Company H.Q. in the present line.
4.Wireless.—A Wireless Station will be established at the Sugar Factory, and will be moved forward as soon as opportunity offers.
5.Pigeons.—Probably only two birds per forward battalion will be available. These should not, therefore, be brought beyond Battalion H.Q.
6.Visual.—A Divisional Reading Station will be established at B.19.d.2.8, which will watch for signals from the whole Division front. In the event of the day being misty, a Brigade Station will be established at the Sugar Factory, if a suitable view can be obtained from there.
note.—From the above scheme it will be seen that from the forward battalions there will be 4 ways, and from the Sugar Factory 5 ways of sending back information without runners.
Battalions should, therefore, never have to send farther than the Sugar Factory in the event of other means failing.
DIVISIONAL ADMINISTRATIVE ARRANGEMENTS I. Provost Arrangements :-- (1)Battle Straggler Posts will be established at-- (a) G.G.c.8.0. (b) Cross Roads in Roclincourt, A.29.c.4.4. This post will have a sub-post at the beginning of the duck-boards, A.29.a, which will also deal with walking wounded cases, vide below.
The 99th Infantry Brigade will detail an officer and 3 men for each of these posts. These officers will get into communication with the A.P.M. as soon as possible, and will be instructed by him (A.P.M.'s address, Divisional H.Q.). They will report to the A.P.M. on the evening of " Y " day.
Officers in charge of posts will take down full particulars of all stragglers before sending them on to the Collecting Station, with a view to evidence being forthcoming for disciplinary action to be taken subsequently, if desirable. They will pay special attention to noting if stragglers have discarded their arms and equipment, and will record the fact.
They will observe all walking wounded passing their posts, and will note if they are in possession of arms and equipment. If they are not, the Officer in charge of the post will, if he considers the man could have brought out his arms and equipment, record the fact for future inquiry.
In the case of walking wounded who have properly brought down their arms and equipment, but who appear too exhausted to carry them farther, the officer in charge of the post will take them over, giving a certificate that he has done so.
The A.P.M. will issue proformas to the posts.
Nothing in the above paragraphs is to be interpreted to mean that all walking wounded (many of them are severely injured) are to bring down arms and equipment. It is, however, intended that all who can should do so.
(2) Prisoners-of-War Cage is situated in Roclincourt off the Barrier (Cross Road A.28.a) Roclincourt Road. Notice-boards are up. Responsibility for prisoners rests with Brigades until they reach the Cage. Prisoners (except officers) will not be searched until they reach the Cage, but escorts are responsible that they do not destroy papers. Officers are to be searched at once, and all papers sent as quickly as possible to the Divisional H.Q.
The 5th Brigade will detail one officer and 10 men to report to the A.P.M. at 4 p.m. on " Y " day, to act as Guard on the Prisoners-of-War Cage.
The A.P.M. will arrange for the necessary rations for posts, and for any escorts supplied by the Corps or Division for the Cage.
He will arrange for shelter in consultation with "Q."
The A.P.M.'s H.Q. will be at the Prisoners-of-War Cage.
All prisoners captured by the Division should be sent to the 2nd Division Cage, unless circumstances forbid, and not to other Divisional Cages. Escorts on handing over to a Cage should always demand a receipt.
Escorts should not exceed 10 per cent, of prisoners.
All personnel detailed from Brigades for duty under the A.P.M. will be taken from the men who will be left out of the fight in accordance with the amended para. 2, Sect. XXX of S.S. 135 " Instructions for the Training of a Division for Offensive Action."
II.Ammunition Supply (Small Arms) :-- (1) An Advanced Divisional Dump has been formed in the Tunnel at B.15.C.6.3. and will be known as "Tunnel Dump."
The main Divisional Dump is at B.26.c.0.5, and is called "Weston's Damp." This Dump is on the telephone.
Brigades will indent on " Tunnel Dump " and " Weston's Dump " direct.
(2) In building up Brigade, etc., Dumps, the establishments issued from this office (dated 19/2/17) will be followed generally (Flares and Very Lights probably cannot be got in the numbers laid down), but Brigadiers will use their discretion regarding the number of forward dumps to be formed. Positions of forward dumps to be notified to D.H.Q. as soon as selected
(3) Grenades in dumps will be kept in boxes.
(4) On reaching the enemy's trenches dumps of grenades and S.A.A. will immediately be formed, partly from supplies carried by each man of the attacking waves, partly by special parties detailed to carry them, and later from supplies sent up from the rear.
Notice-cloths, marked " S.A.A." and " Grenades," will be carried by all attacking companies, and will be set up in objectives, supplies of ammunition being collected near them. Cloths will be supplied by D.H.Q.
(5) The principle of all ammunition supply must be adhered to strictly, i.e., troops in front are supplied from the rear, and do not have to send back except to give information to the next dump in rear.
III. Food Supply :-- (1) A dump of reserve rations will be formed at "Weston's Dump." Brigades will indent on it in case normal rations do not get through.
(2) 2,500 cheese sandwiches will be delivered to the 5th and 6th Brigades on Refilling Point on "Y" day.
(3) Rations on the normal scale will continue to be sent up daily. Special carrying parties, distinct from dump carrying parties, will be detailed to meet rations.
All rations are to be taken up by pack transport, and not in limbers.
Brigades will arrange suitable rendezvous for pack transport, where guides from the front will meet the animals, to ensure their being taken as far forward as possible.
IV. Water:-- Brigades in the line will complete water-dumps in forward dumps. A reserve of 800 tins will be held at "Weston's Dump." The officer in charge of the dump will issue sparingly.
It is hoped that a water-point about Area B.19.a.0.0 will be ready by "Z" day.
An advanced reserve dump of water is being formed at B.15.a.7.2, in which there will be 800 tins of water. (There is also a reserve of 20,000 sandbags at "Tunnel Dump.")
V. Carrying Parties :-- (1) Battalion Commanders and Company Officers must know where the forward dumps are situated, and officers must make themselves personally acquainted with the actual positions. In addition, two N.C.O.'s per section must visit their Battalion and Company Dumps.
(2) At" Weston's Dump "there will be a carrying party of 3 officers and 150 men, found by the 99th Brigade, to carry to Brigade dumps. The party to report to the officer in charge "Weston's Dump" on the evening of " Y" day.
(3) At each Brigade dump there will be carrying parties of at least one officer and 25 O.R., and 2 men to act as runners, to supply the Battalion dumps of attacking battalions. Parties to be found by Brigades concerned.
(4) Not less than 1 officer and 20 O.R. will be detailed as carrying party for each Battalion dump.
(5) Each Company will detail not less than 2 sections as carrying parties from Company dumps onwards. These parties must be commanded by a determined N.C.O.
(6) Carrying parties will wear a yellow band on the left arm.
(7) Company dumps will be refilled from Battalion dumps, and so on.
(8) The stores for the first journey must be taken forward immediately in rear of the last attacking waves.
Officers and N.C.O.'s in charge of parties will move in rear of their parties, to ensure that the stores arrive.
(9) A guard of 2 N.C.O.'s and 6 O.R. will be found by the 99th Brigade on " Weston's Dump," and will report on the morning of " Y " day. The party will report to the officer in charge of the dump. Guards of 1 N.C.O. and 3 O.R. will be mounted on Brigade dumps.
VI. Tools:-- As many tools as possible are being sent up to " Weston's Dump."
VII. Side Shows :-- A Soup Kitchen and Coffee Bar will be running at the beginning of the duckboards at Roclincourt.
Free issues of coffee, tea, biscuits, and cigarettes to the 2nd Division.
Summary of Confidential Orders, issued by Lieut.-Col. Crosse, D.S.O., on the 26th April 1917.
On a date to be decided later and known as " Z " day, at zero hour (which will be about dawn), the 2nd Division will co-operate with the 63rd (R.N.) Division on its right, and the 1st Canadian Division on its left, in an attack on the Arleux Loop and Oppy Line, with the 5th Infantry Brigade on the left, and the 6th Infantry Brigade on the right, of the Divisional front.
The 5th Infantry Brigade will have the 2nd Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry on the left, and the 2nd Highland Light Infantry on the right, as assaulting battalions. The other two battalions of the Brigade, viz., 17th R. Fusilier and 24th R. Fusiliers, will act, the former as "mopping-up" and carrying parties, and the latter as Brigade Reserve.
The dispositions and formations of the Left Battalion (2nd Oxford and Bucks) at zero hour will be as follows :--
1st Wave, on parapet of our own front-line trench.-- 2 Platoons D Company on left; 2 Platoons B Company on right.
2nd Wave, inside our own front-line trench.-- 2 Platoons and H.Q. D Company; 2 Platoons and H.Q. B Company.
Immediately behind our own front-line trench.-- 2 Platoons of attached Company 17th R.F., to mop up the Blue Line.
Immediately behind them.—Remainder of attached Company 17th R.F., to mop up Arleux Loop.
On a taped line 50 yards behind our own front-line trench.— 2 Platoons A Company on the left; 2 Platoons C Company on the right.
On another taped line 50 yards behind the above.-- Remainder of A and C Companies.
25 yards in rear of the above.—Carrying party of 2 Platoons of the attached Company 17th R.F.
Regimental H.Q. (sharing dug-out with H.Q. 2nd H.L.I.).—Near road B.10.b.82.
Regimental Aid Post will be notified later.
Each company will be prepared to hand over its reserve stretcher-bearers to the Medical Officer.
Artillery Time-table as it affects the Regimental front:--
0 to 0 + 8 minutes.—Artillery barrage on enemy's front line. Infantry gets forward under the barrage. 0 + 8.—Artillery lifts off enemy's front-line trench, and Infantry assaults enemy's front line. 0 + 12.—Artillery lifts forward at the rate of 100 yards per 4 minutes, until it becomes protective beyond the Blue Line. Infantry moves forward behind the barrage, and attacks any enemy met with until the Blue Line is reached. 0 + 32.—The last of the Infantry reaches the Blue Line, and halts for 23 minutes. From 0 + 50 to 0 + 55 all the Divisional Artillery ceases fire. 0 + 55.—Divisional Artillery opens intensive fire for 5 minutes. Infantry gets forward under the barrage. 0+1 hour.—Artillery begins to lift forward at 100 yards in 4 minutes, and Infantry moves forward behind the barrage (clearing the village, etc.). 0+1 hour 24 minutes.—The last of the Infantry reaches the Green Line. Artillery barrage becomes protective beyond it.
The occupation of the Brown Line does not constitute the attainment of the third objective in full. What is required is the establishment of a line of posts (B.6.d.85—C.l.c.64—C.7.a.77), which will be done under cover of a protective barrage.
The successive phases which lead up to the above are as follows :-- First Wave, followed by 2nd Wave and moppers-up, will advance close to the barrage during the intensive bombardment ready to rush the Arleux Loop when the barrage lifts off it. The advance will continue to the Blue Line (1st Objective) as the barrage creeps forward.
The 2 Platoons of moppers-up next following the 2nd Wave will remain in and consolidate Arleux Loop.
During the pause in the advance of the barrage after the capture of the Blue Line (by the 1st and 2nd Waves), the 3rd and 4th Waves will close upon the 1st and 2nd Waves, but will not enter the Blue Line.
The Regiment will advance in four Waves to the Green Line, and, after the necessary halt on the barrage, will continue the advance on the Brown Line. It is the actual pace of the Artillery barrage which decides the Infantry advance.
Once more it must be impressed on every one that it is absolutely necessary, and far more safe, to advance close up to the barrage, and that any portion of the enemy's trench or position opposite, even to as small a body as a section, must be assaulted immediately the barrage lifts off it, as this is the only sure means of preventing any enemy, whom the trench or position may hold, from manning his parapet and stopping the advance.
The principle to be observed throughout is to avoid committing troops to enfilade machine-gun fire on the open ground between Oppy and Arleux, until the attacks through those villages have progressed sufficiently to protect the flanks of the advance over the open ground.
All ground gained must be at once consolidated.
Strong points are being constructed by platoons of the 17th R.F.
A Regimental Compass Party will march on the right of the Regiment. The O.C. C Company will detail an officer for this duty.
After zero hour hourly reports (as nearly as possible) will be rendered.
Contact aeroplanes signalling ground sheet and panel will be at Regimental H.Q.
Vigilant periscopes, 20 per company, will be issued tomorrow, and their use for flashing to aeroplanes will be explained to all ranks.
Contact aeroplanes will fly over the line about 7 a.m., when flares will be lit and mirrors flashed. This will be done also when the contact aeroplane sounds its Klaxon horn or drops lights.
O.C. C Company will have 1 N.C.O. and 6 men detailed to form a relay runner-post, to be known as "No. 1 Relay Post," in the Arleux Loop, as soon as it is captured. These must be selected men, whose duty will be to receive messages and get them back to Regimental H.Q.
On the 27th April the order was received that "Z" day would be the 28th and zero hour 4.25 a.m.
April 27th.-At 11 a.m. the Regiment moved to the transport bivouac, there to equip and move direct to the Assembly Trenches after dark.
On going into the Assembly Trenches on the night of the 27th/28th, A Company was shelled near Brigade H.Q., 2nd Lieut. E.G. Calloway and 6 men were killed, and a number of others wounded. Two Lewis-guns were destroyed, and the teams practically all casualties. There were several others wounded going in, for the most part belonging to Regimental H.Q.
April 28th.-4.25 a.m. was fixed for "zero hour," when the Regiment attacked in four Waves, B and D Companies (Captain Giles and Captain Barnes) on the right and left front respectively, C and A Companies (Lieut. Dowson and 2nd Lieut. Whitehead) forming the 3rd and 4th Waves in rear.
The 8th Battalion Canadian Infantry attacked on the left and the 2nd H.L.I, on the right, the 6th Infantry Brigade being again beyond them on the right.
The whole attack was more successful on the left than on the right, the Canadian Corps taking and holding, apparently without difficulty, all their objectives.
On the right the 6th Infantry Brigade experienced considerable trouble in the vicinity of Oppy Wood and Village, partly due, it is believed, to an uncertain situation still farther to the right or southwards.
This affected the Regiment and the 2nd H.L.I, on our right in that our right flank had to be swung back and in a measure made "defensive."
The feature of the operations (which continued, as far as the Regiment was concerned, up to the night of the lst/2nd May, when it was finally relieved) was the initiative, resource, and good leading of the Company and Platoon Commanders, more especially Captain D. T. Barnes and Captain Giles, to whom very great credit is due for the immediate control of the forward situation. All their subordinate commanders seemed to realize the necessity for at once collecting together adjacent men—no matter to whom they belonged—and retelling-off and reorganizing them for immediate further action. Particularly good work in this latter respect was done by 2nd Lieut. B. J. Crewe.
The casualties included 2nd Lieut. G. S. La W. Lyle, wounded (subsequently died of his wounds at Aubigny); also wounded: Lieut. L. S. Dowson, 2nd Lieut. P. H. R. Whitehead, 2nd Lieut. A. E. Walter, 2nd Lieut. H. A. Smith, 2nd Lieut. H. S. Eagle (who rejoined after 3 days), about 200 other ranks, of whom 130 were wounded, and the remainder either killed or missing.
The Regiment, in touch on either flank with the adjacent troops, continued to hold its front, approximately on the line of the "Blue Line" (2nd Objective), where extremely good work was done by the Lewis-gunners.
The trenches were very much shelled and badly provided with dugouts; a number of men were buried, and a certain number of casualties occurred, the exact figures it has not yet been possible to arrive at as regards separating them from those which occurred in the actual attack.
After the attack the Captains of the two leading Companies of the Regiment reported :--
Right Company.—"On my Company front there was only one proper gap in the wire, and that was on the right. The remainder of the wire had not been cut very much."
Left Company.—"There was one gap in the wire on my Company frontage, and that was a very bad gap."
Both these officers described our barrage at zero as "weak."
Rations, water, and stores for consolidation purposes were brought up by the 10th (Pioneer) Battalion D.C.L.I.
As far as I could ascertain, arrangements in accordance with Field Service Regulations, Part II, Ch. XI (12) for clearing our part of the area of operations of the wounded had not been made sufficiently early, as might have been done.
April 29th.-The situation did not change; all the ground was maintained, and no infantry counter-attacks matured, although the shelling was considerable. Rations and water came up in the same way as yesterday, and the remaining wounded were evacuated— 17 cases in all. Reserve officers and N.C.O.'s were brought up from the transport.
A reinforcement of 1 Sergeant and 73 other ranks arrived near Ecurie.
April 30th.—Situation unchanged. The Regiment was relieved (on the night of 30th April/1st May) by two composite companies,No. 1 (Lieut. Blackwell) and No. 2 (2nd Lieut. Walker, 2nd H.L.I.), each of 3 platoons, made up of reserve officers, N.C.O.'s, and men, and reinforcements of the two Regiments, so as to enable the two Regiments to be withdrawn.
May 1st/2nd.-This composite battalion (commanded by Lieut. Colonel Crosse) was finally relieved by a battalion of the Composite Brigade, and the Regiment, on relief, proceeded to the dugouts in the old German and British front lines (i.e., as they were up to the 9th April last) near Roclincourt.
May 2nd.-About midday orders were received to move, as part of the 5th Brigade, to Ecoivres. The move was carried out during the afternoon, and the Regiment was billeted in "Y" Hutments.
May 3rd.-Cleaning up and bathing.
May 4th.-The Regiment marched via the main Arras-St. Pol Road, to Villers Brulin, being there very comfortably billeted in the village. About 10 p.m. received orders to march at 8 a.m. tomorrow.
May 5th.-Marched to Camblain-Chatelain; comfortable billets in the area round the Mairie. (This was the area occupied by the Regiment in July 1916, immediately prior to entraining (from Pernes) to join 4th Army on the Somme.)
May 7th-12th.-At Camblain-Chatelain. During this week some very useful training was carried out, also reorganization, and promotion of N.C.O.'s to complete establishment.
May 14th-16th.-During these days training was continued as last week. A series of Regimental photographs was taken by permission of the Brigadier-General, and on the afternoon of the 16th some very successful sports were held, in spite of the inclement weather.
May 17th.-The Regiment marched by the Chausses Brunhaut to Bray, and were accommodated in huts and bivouacs, in not quite the same area as we occupied in April.
May 18th.-Marched to a camp about Les Quatre Vents, between Arras and Roclincourt, and relieved the 2nd S. Staffords (6th Brigade).
May 18th—23rd.-The Regiment found working and road-mending parties—about 200 men per 24 hours.
May 24th.-The 5th Infantry Brigade relieved the 15th in the Left Brigade Section of the 2nd Divisional Front.
The Regiment took over from the 16th (Service) Battalion R. Warwicks the position of Support Battalion in the Red (or Corps) Line, in front (east) of Willerval.
May 28th.-Relieved the 2nd H.L.I, in L.3 Sub-section (Right Battalion of Left Brigade). Two companies (D on right and C on left) in the front line, in front of Arleux; A and B, with Regimental H.Q., in Arleux Loop.
May 31st.-After three quiet and uneventful days the Regiment was relieved by the 2nd H.L.I, after dark, and returned to the position of support (Willerval).
June 1st.-Completed the move at about 1 a.m. Casualties.—2 men wounded.
June 3rd/4th.-The Regiment was relieved by the 1st King's Liverpools, and took over the camp at Roclincourt, vacated by that Regiment. Casualties.—1 man wounded on the 2nd; 4 men killed on the 3rd.
June 4th/5th.-A working party of 200 men found for the forward area from C and D Companies. Several bombs dropped near the camp.
June 5th/6th.-The Regiment moved to the Support Position of the Right Brigade (99th). H.Q. at the Railway Tunnel, and the companies disposed from right to left: A in the Railway Embankment just south of Tunnel; B astride the Arleux—Sugar Factory— Tunnel Road (H.Q. in old Brigade Battle H.Q. in Sunken Road); C and D thence to south end of Long Wood.
Working parties (200 men per night) were furnished.
June 7th.-The 82nd reinforcement (36 R. and F.) arrived. Casualty.-1 man wounded.
June 8th/9th.-The Regiment was relieved by the 2nd H.L.I, and moved to Ecurie Wood Camp.
June 10th.-Two companies on various working parties within the Corps area.
June 11th.-At Ecurie Wood Camp. Lewis-gun and Bombing Classes, began.
June 13th.-Working parties, and training yesterday and today.
June 14th.-Training, but no working parties. A and C Companies held their Company Sports. At 8.30 p.m. the Regiment moved to camp east of Roclincourt, vacated by the 1st East Surrey (5th Division), as one of the 6 battalions detailed for work in the forward area, found by the Division out of the line. A great deal of work was necessary in the camp, and this was very ably executed by the Regimental Sapping Platoon.
June 15th-19th.-Roclincourt Camp. During this period the Regiment was employed on working parties, chiefly round Willerval North Strong Point and in Tommy Trench, at the rate of 200 men per night, except on the night of the 19th/20th, when 400 men were taken. On that night the Regiment was relieved by the 10th R. Dublin Fusiliers, and moved to huts and billets in Mt. St. Eloi.
June 20th.-XIIIth Corps Horse Show.
June 21st.-By motor-bus and lorry to Bethune, where the Regiment was billeted in the Ecole de Jeunes Filles.
June 22nd.-The Regiment relieved the 2/4th E. Lancashire (T.F.), of the 198th Brigade, 66th Division, in the "Canal Right" Sub-sector of the Divisional front. The 23rd R.F. (99th Brigade) was on the right (i.e., in Cambrin Left Sub-sector), and the 2nd H.L.I, was on the left (i.e., in the Canal Centre Sub-sector). The Regimental Front extended from the Vermelles—La Bassee road (Boyau 15, or Burbure Alley) on the right to the Bethune—La Bassee road, exclusive, on the left.
This front was taken over by two companies—B on the right, C on the left, while D was in immediate support on the line Kingsway (late Kinsbury) Trench to Tower Reserve Trench, and A Company in support in the Village Line, between its junctions with Maison Rouge Alley and Wilson's Way. The feature of the area was the existence of four long tunnels, viz., Wilson's, Robertson's, Lane (not taken over or held), and Mill Tunnel, which went under the Mill (erroneously described as "Tower"), just south of the Bethune—La Bassee road.
A regular system of reliefs and interchange of companies was instituted, by which each company spent 2 out of every 8 days in support in the Village Line, being able to get baths in Annequin. In this way every man had a bath and was re-underclothed once in 8 days.
Casualties.- 5 men wounded on the 24th; 1 man wounded on the 27th; 1 man wounded (died of his wounds) on the 28th.
June 30th.-The Regiment still in the same position.
Between April 10th and May 3rd 1917 60 Officers and men of the 52nd were killed in action and have No Known Grave, they are commemorated on the Arras Memorial.
10 officers and men of the 52nd who died between 29th April and 9th May 1917 lie in this cemetery.
In Orchard Dump Cemetery 8 members of the 52nd lie who died between 28th April and 3rd June 1917.
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