EXTRACTED FROM THE REGIMENTAL CHRONICLES OF THE OXFORDSHIRE & BUCKINGHAMSHIRE LIGHT INFANTRY
January.—Spent at Faluja training and finding working parties. On the 2nd Captain W. E. C. Terry rejoined from being attached to Divisional H.Q., and took command of C Company. On the 11th 2nd Lieuts. Rock and Murray with 4 N.C.O.'s proceeded to Dunsterville Camp, Baghdad, for " employment with Armenian or other local levies " ; and Lieut. A. E. Riddle was placed in command of the Divisional Rest Camp. On the 19th Private Hogarth was accidentally wounded by a premature bomb explosion. 2nd Lieut. H. N. Burrell (K.R.R.C.) joined the Battalion for duty on the 26th, and on the 29th Lieut. E. C. Kinghorn (attached from 2/4th Border Regiment) joined the R.F.C. for duty as observer. On the 31st Lieut. H. E. F. Smyth rejoined from duty with Brigade H.Q. as 2nd Staff Captain, Strength of the Battalion on the 31st, 25 officers and 1,063 other ranks.
February 2nd.—Marched out of Faluja at 9 a.m., and arrived at Dhibban at 1.30 p.m. Pitched camp for the night.
February 3rd.—Left Dhibban at 8.30 a.m., and arrived at Madhij at 12.15 p.m. Roads good and weather cool. The men marched in serge, with waterproof cape and cardigan in the coat straps, great coats being packed with kits.
February 4th-l9th.—Remained at Madhij carrying out camp duties, training, etc. On the 13th Captain W. E.G. Terry proceeded to the 15th Division for duty, and A/Captain H. W. Bleeze (Bombing Officer) was posted to the command of C Company. Lieut. H. E. F. Smyth was promoted A/Captain, vice Kinghorn, to complete establishment,
OPERATIONS ON THE EUPHRATES FRONT.
February 20th.—Orders received for the Brigade to move forward on "operation scale " tomorrow.
February 2lst.—The Battalion (24 officers and 855 men) left Madhij at 8 a.m., and arrived at Ramadil (12 miles) at 1 p.m., camping upstream of the Azezia Canal B Company on outpost 1 ½ miles upstream.
(Ramadi was captured from the Turks in September 1917.)
February 22nd.—Preceded at 6 a.m. by the 6th Jats and 97th Infantry, the Battalion marched at 9 a.m., in column with two batteries R.F.A., Field Ambulance, H.Q. Transport, Signals, and Brigade Supplies, and arrived at 2.30 p.m. at Khan Abu Rayat (13 ½ miles), where bivouacked and dug anti-aircraft bombardment shelters,
February 24th.—Left Khan Abu Rayat at 8 a.m, and arrived at Uqbah (8 miles) at 10.45 a.m.
February 25th.—D Company and scouts as escort to R.F.A. reconnoitred 4 miles towards Hit. The Turks bombed our camp at 5 p.m., 3 men of the Battalion killed.
February 26th.—Reconnaissance towards Hit left camp at 8 a.m. as follows :—The Battalion, 2 batteries R.F.A., 97th Infantry, 2 armoured cars, and Field Ambulance. Patrols penetrated to enemy's second line of trenches and found them partly wired, but almost unoccupied. The enemy, who had trenches registered, opened fire (about 150 rounds) with field guns from near his Broad Wadi position. No casualties. We took 4 prisoners, and returned to Uqbah about 5.30 p.m.
February 28th.—Captain H. E. F. Smyth appointed Adjutant Ramadi area. The present strength of the Battalion was 24 officers and 846 other ranks.
March 1st-8th.—At Uqbah, training, road-making, etc. Air reconnaissance reported that Turks have evacuated Hit and the Broad Wadi position, and retired to Sahilya and Baghdadi.
March 8th.—At 10 p.m. the 50th Brigade moved towards Hit.
March 9th.—At 2 a.m. halted 4 miles south of Hit, and at 7.30 a.m. the column advanced to Hit, preceded by the Herts Yeomanry and 10th Lancers, with the 90th Punjabis on the left bank.
Halted at 10 a.m. 500 yards south of Hit Town, and no enemy being encountered, moved on and bivouacked on the river bank one mile north of Hit at noon. Enemy was reported to have retired 20 miles to Baghdadi.
March 11th.—Moved to Sahilya and bivouacked. 9136 Sergeant W. Bull was awarded the Military Medal for work in command of a patrol of Regimental Scouts before Hit on the 26th February 1918.
March 12th-24th.—The Battalion remained at Sahilya, carrying out reconnaissances and other duties. The enemy is reported to have left Baghdadi and moved north.
March 25th.—At 9 p.m. the column moved off up the Aleppo Road towards Khan Baghdadi in bright moonlight.
March 26th.—At 1 a.m. halted three miles from Khan Baghdadi to reconnoitre enemy's forward position, consisting of a line of short trenches across the road 1 ½ miles S.E. of Khan Baghdadi. These trenches had been reported lightly held, it was thought by only a cavalry piquet. A Company (Captain Price's) of the Regiment, one company of the 6th Jats, and one company of the 24th Punjabis extended across the road, and advanced with orders to rush the piquet and so clear a way for the column to advance towards what was supposed to be the enemy's main position, 2 ½ miles farther on.
At 2.30 a.m. the three companies came under heavy ride, M.G., and field-gun fire, and shortly afterwards the column, as it was moving south from the road, was shelled. It now being known that the enemy was holding his forward position, our three companies were ordered to rejoin the column (3.30 a.m.). A Company had actually captured part of the enemy trenches, and had taken prisoners. The casualties were 2 men killed and 4 wounded. The column then deployed south of the road, and waited for daylight, while at 6 a.m. the batteries registered on the enemy's forward position, etc. At 10.30 a.m. the 50th Brigade advanced on a three-battalion front, with the 42nd Brigade on its right, the Regiment in support. The enemy retired to his main position. At 12.30 p.m. our infantry reached a position some 2,000 yards from the enemy's trenches, and waited for the artillery to come up and register. At 5.30 p.m. the 50th Brigade advanced, the Regiment in the centre, 21st Punjabis on the right, and 6th Jats on the left, with 97th Infantry in support. The 42nd Brigade advanced level on their right. An effective artillery arid M.G. barrage was put down; and at 6 p.m. the enemy's position was occupied, 800 prisoners with machine-guns and three field guns were captured, and at 8 p.m. the Battalion reformed.
Casualties :—Lieut S. J. Griffin and 2 men killed, 5 men wounded.
March 27th.—At 2.30 a.m. the Battalion moved down to the Aleppo Road on the river bank, and at 6 a.m. the Brigade moved forward towards the Wadi Hauran (6 miles W. of Khan Baghdadi). Here the 11th Cavalry Brigade had blocked the road, and 3,000 of the enemy, attempting to retire from Khan Baghdadi, surrendered, together with 6 guns, 25 M.G.'s, and much transport and material.
March 28th—This day and the next were spent in salvaging, providing convoy escorts, etc.
March 30th.—The Battalion moved at 7 a.m. to the river bank two miles upstream from Khan Baghdadi.
The total captures during the Khan Baghdadi operations were officially reported to be as follows :—Officers (Turkish), 212 ; German, 2 ; other ranks (Turkish), 5,024; German, 16; guns, 14; M.G.'s, 47 ; upwards of £3,000 in gold and notes; millions of rounds of ammunition; and an immense quantity of transport and stores. The casualties in the British force amounted to 159 of all ranks.
April 1st.—The Battalion marched to Sahilya (16 miles) and went into standing camp, where it remained for six weeks, training, etc. On the 26th April Lieut. T. A. Hill and 2nd Lieut. P. J. Andrews joined from India.
May 10th.—Information having been received that on the 29th April there were 30 enemy cavalry at Khan Baghdadi and two regiments of infantry at Haditha, it was decided to establish contact. At 7.30 p.m. a force, consisting of the Battalion (844 strong), 1 company 48th Pioneers, 1 battery R.F.A., 1 section M.G.C., 1 squadron 10th Lancers, Field Ambulance, moved out and found an enemy piquet on the Wadi Brooking Bridge at 2 a.m. (11th May). The piquet fired and retired.
May 11th.—At 3.20 a.m. B and D Companies advanced astride the Aleppo Road, and came under fire from Turkish cavalry (about 12 men), who retired. We had two men slightly wounded. The armoured cars which had left Sahilya at daybreak advanced and captured one Turk at Wadi Hauran, who said that there had been 30 mounted Turks at Khan Baghdadi, 200 at Haditha, and one division of infantry at Ana.
May 12th.—Reconnaissance of ground inland from river. Contact with Turkish cavalry patrol two miles upstream from Khan Baghdadi.
May 13th.—The column returned to camp at Sahilya at 4.45 a.m., arriving at 10 a.m.
May 14th-June 30th—This period was spent at Sahilya, the men being employed in working on the defensive position, carrying out a little training, particularly of specialists. Parties of officers and men were sent on leave to India. On the 22nd June the Battalion, with cavalry and machine-guns, left Sahilya for Khan Baghdadi, to raid enemy cavalry there. At 2 a.m. on the 23rd the column moved on to Wadi Brooking, which was crossed at 4 a.m., and thence beyond the enemy's former northern position. Touch was gained with our cavalry, who had captured 1 officer and 16 men, and the force then moved back to Khan Baghdadi, returning next day to Sahilya.
On the 30th June there were present with the Battalion 10 officers and 750 men.
July 5th.—Practice at night firing with Lewis guns. Good firing was done with luminous sights at 50, 100, and 150 yards. With luminous foresight only the shooting was not so good, and very few hits were made without luminous sights, even when Very Lights were used.
July 12th.—Captain G. W. Titherington was appointed Acting Brigade Major, and Captain Smyth took over the duties of Acting Adjutant.
July 31st.—Effective strength of the Battalion, 14 officers and 794 other ranks.
August.—During this month at Sahilya training was continued, and work on the defensive position carried out.
On the 31st the effective strength of the Battalion was 17 officers and 807 other ranks.
September.—Training and courses of instruction went on as before.
The 30th September, being the anniversary of the Battle of Ramadi, was observed as a general holiday. The effective strength of the Battalion this day was 18 officers and 785 other ranks.
In October the Battalion moved to Hit, and on the 1st November information was received of the signing of the Turkish Armistice.
November 2nd-4th.—These days were observed as holidays to celebrate the defeat of the Turks.
November 11th.-News received at 11.30 p.m. of the signing of the Armistice with Germany.
November 12th.—At 5 p.m. there was a parade of all troops in the Hit area, when a salute of 31 guns was fired, the National Anthem sung, and much cheering.
November 13th-15th.—Holidays to celebrate the winning of the War; and on the 17th a Special Parade Service was held.
November 26th.—Lieuts. A. E. S. Riddle, Thompson, Tompkins, L. V. Steele (attached from K.R.R.C.), and 224 surplus personnel proceeded to Salonika.
November 27th.—Major-General Sir H. T. Brooking, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., Commanding the 15th Division, inspected the positions, and delivered lectures on " The War : Its Causes and Effects," and " Demobilization."
The strength of the Battalion on the 30th was 11 officers and 646 other ranks.
The following were mentioned in Dispatches (London Gazette, 27th August 1918):-- Lieut.-Colonel G. E. Whittall, M.C.; Brevet Major G. W. Titherington, Captain H. T. C. Field, Lieut. T. R. Brown, Captain H. W. Bleeze, 8041 R.-S.-M. A. Cowley, 9075 Sergeant J. M. Green, 21565 Sergeant E. Davies, 9479 Lance-Corporal A. Dean.
December.—Training, road making, and general routine.
Parties visited the ruins at Babylon, and demobilization was proceeded with.
Christmas holidays lasted from the 23rd to the 31st, and a Race Meeting was held at Hit.
On the 31st the strength of the Battalion was 14 officers and 607 other ranks. No. 21483 Sergeant Smallwood, (Instructor of Bombing) was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal,