RECORD OF THE 6th (SERVICE) BATTALION. 1st July 1916 to 30th June 1917.
BASED ON EXTRACTS FROM THE REGIMENTAL CHRONICLES
When the Somme offensive opened on the 1st July, the Battalion was in Zillebeke trenches, and continued to take tours of duty there and in the neighbourhood of Ypres for the following three weeks.
It then moved south to the Somme area and took its share in the fighting. The Battalion was commanded by Colonel E. D. White until October 1916, then by Lieut.-Colonel J. E. Osborne (late 2nd Battalion) until the 19th April 1917, then by Lieut.-Colonel C. R. C. Boyle (2nd Battalion), and from the 27th April by Lieut.-Colonel H. M. Dillon, D.S.O. (2nd Battalion).
The following is a summary of events as recorded in the Battalion Diary, supplemented by information from the Battalion Order Book:--
July lst-24th.—The casualties during this period were: 1 officer and 11 men killed; 3 officers and 52 men wounded. Military Medals were awarded to 1400 Lance-Corporal Frederick Adams; and 14991 Private Frederick V. Porter.
July 24th.—Remained at Meteren.
TO THE SOMME AREA. July 25th.—Marched at 6.30 a.m. to Hopoutre Station (near Poperinghe), entrained, and proceeded to Frevent Station(4.30p.m.), thence marching to billets at Lucheux.
July 26th.—Marched to Vauchelles, and on the 28th to Courcelles.
July 29th.—Relieved the 10th South Wales Borderers in the trenches, opposite Serre, at K.29.C.7.7 to K.23.d,2 1/2.2 1/2 (Map Sheet 57d), the 10th K.R.R.C. on our left, and 6th K.S.L.I. on our right.
July 30th-3lst.—Quiet; 1 man wounded.
August lst-5th.—The Battalion remained in the same trenches, the days being generally quiet, but at night the enemy was active with trench-mortars, and our artillery was also active. Casualties.-- On the 1st, 1 killed, 2 wounded; on the 2nd, 1 wounded; on the 3rd, 1 officer and 3 men wounded, 2 men killed; on the 4th, Captain J. E. Bryant killed, 4 men wounded.
August 6th-3lst.—On relief from the trenches on the night of the 6th-7th, the Battalion moved to Courcelles, where it remained for a week, training and finding working parties. A move was then made to Ville-sous-Corbie, which was reached on the 20th, and on the 22nd the Battalion took over old German dug-outs and trenches in the Reserve Brigade area. The next ten days were spent in supplying working parties, and carrying parties (for R.E. material) from dumps at Trones Wood to support and front-line trenches. Eighteen men were wounded.
THE ATTACK ON GUILLEMONT. The original orders, issued towards the end of August, were to the effect that the 20th Division would capture Guillemont, and then establish itself on the Wedge Wood-Ginchy road from T.26.a.l.7 to T.22.a.l.5." According to these orders, an important part was to be played by the 60th Brigade, but before the final arrangements were made it was found that this Brigade had become so depleted in numbers that it was necessary to take it out of the 20th Division temporarily, and substitute for it the 47th Brigade (16th, Irish, Division). Sir A. Conan Doyle, in his British Campaign, 1916, says : "The 60th Brigade had lost heavily in strength from cold, wet, and continual German gassing and bombardment.'
The attack on Guillemont on the 3rd September was, therefore, entrusted to the 59th Brigade and 47th Brigade, with the 61st Brigade in Divisional Reserve, the 6th Oxford and Bucks (the only battalion of the 60th Brigade of any strength) being attached to the 59th Brigade.
The following is Lieut.-Colonel E. D. White's official account of the Operations of the 3rd-6th September in which the 6th Battalion took part:--
The Battalion was attached to the 59th Brigade for the above operations, and, in accordance with 59th Brigade Operation Orders, left the craters at 11 p.m., 2nd September, and moved into the position of assembly in Arrow and Sherwood Trenches.
In accordance with 59th Brigade Operation Orders the Battalion advanced from its trenches at noon on the 3rd September to attack Guillemont.
B Company, from Arrow Trench, was in the centre, and, from the position of the starting-point, somewhat in advance of A and C Companies on the Battalion's left and right respectively; D Company followed in rear of the centre.
The Battalion was to follow the 10th and 11th R.B. to the first Sunken Road (the first Divisional Objective).
The three leading companies lost all their officers and all their Company-Sergeants-Major before reaching the second Sunken Road. The fourth company (D) also lost its captain at the first Sunken Road.
B Company, in the centre; found the Rifle Brigade battalions clearing dug-outs, and appear to have stopped a short time to assist, and then pushed on to the second Sunken Road. A and C Companies passed right on. A got on beyond the second Sunken Road to the edge of the village, which was the 2nd Objective-of the Battalion. Their officers had gone, and in some places the Sunken Road was not easy to locate, being much knocked about.
At 1 p.m. the advance continued. As a matter of fact men were going forward about 4 minutes before the hour, but the barrage ruled the pace. Casualties from our own barrage were slight, if any at all.
By the time the eastern side of the village was reached units were much mixed. There were, besides my own Battalion and the 10th and 11th R.B., some of the 10th K.R.R.C. and Somerset Light Infantry, as well as some of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry (5th Division). Units were reorganized here as far as possible. The Somerset Light Infantry, at my request, kept back a portion of the battalion in this position, when the advance was continued up to Ginchy—Wedge Wood road, to look after the right flank, as a number of Germans were visible in the open, south-west of Leuze Wood, and our contact with the 5th Division on our right did not seem complete.
At 2 p.m. the whole line went forward up to the Ginchy—Wedge Wood road, and reached it with very little opposition, but a number of prisoners were taken from dug-outs on the road.
The consolidation of the position at once began, but there was a shortage of tools.
It was evident that the 5th Division had not been able to advance up the spur south-west of Leuze Wood, and that that spur and the wood were still in the hands of the Germans. I therefore decided not to move forward from the road to the final objective ordered, that is, with the right flank of the 59th Brigade line just outside the south-west corner of the wood.
The 1st Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry were now in touch with us on the road-line, on our right; the 8th Munster Fusiliers were on our left, at the Cross-Roads.
There were then in the 59th Brigade area on the Ginchy—Wedge Wood road the following troops under Lieut.-Colonel E. D. White: 200 10th R.B., 200 11th R.B., 100 10th K.R.R.C., and 300 6th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. The Somerset Light Infantry were digging themselves in, in support, close behind.
An officer's patrol went up by the Quarry to the south-west edge of Leuze Wood and found no one there.
During the night (3rd/4th September) patrols were working in the valley below us, but could not work up to the ridge and wood in front owing to our artillery fire.
The enemy made no attacks.
Nearly all the losses suffered by the Battalion were from shell and machine-gun fire before reaching the second Sunken Road, and more especially before reaching the first Sunken Road.
During the clearing of dug-outs at the final position one case occurred of a "P" bomb being thrown in at one door of a dug-out and the smoke coming out at the other door without dislodging the Germans, who, however, did come out when Mills bombs were thrown in.
Eight Company Officers, 72 N.C.O.'s, and about 200 men were casualties, mostly early in the attack, and I think that much credit is due to the men and to the few leaders left in getting on the right objective.
During the 4th September the consolidation of the position was continued, and not interfered with except for a few shrapnel. The 5th Division was, during the afternoon, working up the ridge opposite us, to Leuze Wood.
At about 7 p.m. battle patrols were established from our line by the 7th Somerset Light Infantry, i.e., from the south-west corner of Leuze Wood to the Guillemont-Combles road.
The night' of the 4th/5th September was very quiet. About 5 a.m. on the 5th the Battalion and others in the line were relieved by the 49th Brigade, and the Battalion withdrew to Sherwood Trench, where it remained until the afternoon of the 6th September, when it was relieved by the 6th K.S.L.I., and moved back to the Craters (A.8.b.6.3).
From the Battalion Diary. September 7th-20th.—Changing camp several times and doing a certain amount of training, the Battalion reached Waterlot Farm on the 16th and went into the front-line trenches (The Triangle), from which it pushed forward three advanced posts on the 19th. Casualties.—6 men killed and 8 wounded.
September 21st.—At 3.20 a.m. the Battalion was relieved by the 2nd Coldstream Guards. Two of our Lewis-gun teams remained behind owing to the relieving battalion not bringing guns with them. Three prisoners from the German 240th Regiment were captured just before the relief and brought back to Battalion H.Q. At 9 a.m. the Battalion arrived at the Citadel. The following appeared in Regimental Orders this day :-- The C.O. is glad to be able to publish to the Battalion the following messages which he knows all ranks have well earned during the last few days :-- "20th Division wire : 'Please convey G.O.C.'s appreciation of the good work done by the 60th Brigade during their last tour in the line. They beat off every attack, captured prisoners on several occasions, patrolled actively, and kept going well in spite of casualties and the trying conditions of wet and cold.' "The Brigadier-General is much gratified in having received the above wire from the Divisional Commander, and he wishes his congratulations and thanks conveyed to all ranks for the fine soldierly spirit shown by them. "The Commanding Officer has much pleasure in informing the Battalion that the Corps Commander, under authority delegated by His Majesty the King, has awarded the Military Medal to 12748 Corporal Garratt and 9444 Sergeant Hannis for Gallantry in Action on 3rd September."
September 22nd-30th.—The Battalion moved on the 22nd to Ville-sur-Ancre, on the 25th to the Citadel, and next day to a position behind Morval, where it was relieved by French troops on the 28th, and went back to Carnoy Valley. On the 29th the Battalion paraded in "battle-order,"("Battle-order" consisted of : Jersey (on the man), smoke helmets, braces, pouches, bayonet and frog, entienching-tool and carrier, canteen (on hack of belt with supporting strap) containing day's ration of bread or biscuit, tea and sugar, haversack (carried on the back) containing day's meat ration, 1 pair socks, waterproof, and 230 rounds S.A.A.) and marched to the north of Trones Wood, where it went into the trenches until the 6th-October. Intimation was received of the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal to 16258 Sergeant R. Betts and 11751 Private E. Parker.
Early in October Lieut.-Colonel E. D. White was invalided to England, and Major J. E. Osborne assumed command of the Battalion.
THE ATTACK OF THE 7th OCTOBER. On the 2nd October Preliminary Orders, issued by the 20th Division, outlined coming operations. The intention was that the Fourth Army should attack the line Le Transloy-Thilloy-Warlencourt-Faucourt on or about the 10th October, the attack being made by the 4th and 6th Divisions on the XIVth Corps front. To open the way for these operations, it was necessary to establish a forward line (known as the Brown Line), and the task of driving the Germans out of this line was allotted to the Reserve Divisions, with whom the French would be cooperating on the right. This preliminary attack was to be made, about the 5th or 6th October, by the 41st, 12th, 20th, and 56th Divisions (in that order from left to right) against the portion of the German Line known as the Meteorological Trenches, since they had received names such as Rainbow, Cloudy, Misty, Gusty, Rainy, etc.
The weather was so inclement that operations were postponed until the 7th October, on which day at 1.45 p.m., despite the rain and consequent mud, the assault was launched. The Orders issued by the 60th Brigade are given below in detail, and the action of the 6th Battalion is described in the Report which follows. Suffice it to say here, therefore, that the attack as a whole was fairly successful. The two Divisions on the left (41st and 12th) met with such heavy resistance that they were unable to make much progress.
The 20th Division, on the right of the 12th, were more fortunate, and, in spite of all obstacles, succeeded in carrying their objectives and consolidating them. The 56th Division, on the right of the 20th, also won ground, though later in the day they and the French were pushed back again by a German counterattack.
60th Infantry Brigade Operation Orders were issued on the 5th October as follows :-- Secret. Ref. Map Sheet 57c. S.W. 1.The Fourth Army are renewing the attack on October 7th at a zero hour which will probably be in the early afternoon, and which will be communicated later; the 56th Division attacking on the right and the 20th Division on the left. The 12th Division of the XVth Corps will also attack on the left of the 20th Division.
2.The task of the XlVth Corps is to establish a line from which the Transloy system of trenches can be observed and at tacked later.
3.The 60th Infantry Brigade will be the right attacking Brigade of the 20th Division. On the right of the 60th Infantry Brigade will be the 56th Division; on the left will be the 61st Infantry Brigade.
4.(a).The attack will be carried out in two stages : 1st Objective (Green Line), Rainbow Trench from about N.28.a.1.4 (where touch will be maintained with the 61st Infantry Brigade) to about N.28.c.l ½ .l ½ (where touch will be maintained with the 56th Division).
2nd Objective (Brown Line). A line from about N.22.C.8.2 (where touch will be maintained with the 61st Infantry Brigade) to N.28.b.7.1 (where touch will be maintained with the 56th Division). This line includes Cloudy Trench.
(b)If good observation of the Transloy system of trenches cannot be obtained from the 2nd Objective, patrols will be pushed forward to secure good observation points for the subsequent attack.
(c)The attack will be pushed with the utmost vigour all along the line until the Objectives have been reached. The failure of a unit on a flank is not to prevent other units pushing on to their objectives, as it is by such means that those units which have failed will be assisted to advance. To meet the possibility of this happening units must keep parties of bombers near their flanks ready to bomb down and, if necessary, to establish blocks in captured trenches.
5. The right of the 61st Brigade will direct. The 60th Infantry Brigade will, therefore, advance by its left. All ranks will be impressed with the importance of maintaining correct direction. Before each advance, and as far as possible during each advance, all officers should use their compasses; 60° (sixty degrees)(In the Battalion Operation Orders appeared the following : "All ranks should be warned to advance so that the sun, if shining, is just behind their right ear, thus casting their shadows a quarter left of the line of their advance."— ED.) is approximately the magnetic bearing for the advance of the 60th Infantry Brigade from 1st to 2nd Objective. All ranks should also note that the general line of advance is approximately between Beaulencourt and Le Transloy. The angle at which their shadows will be cast by the sun if it be shining during the advance should also be calculated and communicated to all ranks by Commanding Officers when the zero hour is published. Any similar aids for keeping direction must be made use of.
6. The dividing line between battalions will be approximately N.28.c.4.6 in Green Line to N.28.b.4.6 ½ in Brown Line.
7. The attack will be preceded by a steady bombardment of the hostile positions by the Corps Heavy Artillery, commencing at 3 p.m. on 6th October, but there will be no intense fire previous to the hour of zero.
8. The infantry will advance to the attack on the 1st Objective at zero, and to the 2nd Objective at zero plus 20. In both cases the infantry will get close under the creeping barrage which will be established in front of them and which will commence to creep forward at zero plus 2 in the case of the 1st Objective, and zero plus 23 in the case of the 2nd Objective. The barrage will creep forward at the rate of 50 yards per minute. It is most essential that the infantry should leave their trenches quickly. Commanding officers will, therefore, ensure that good steps or other means of egress are provided beforehand for leaving their trenches.
9. (a) The two assaulting battalions will be formed up before dawn previous to the attack on the N.E. side of the road which runs from N.27.c.3.1 (Guedecourt) to road junction N.34.a.l.9, the 6th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry on the right and the 12th R.B. on the left. Battalion Headquarters will be established in the forming-up areas.
(b) The 12th K.R.R.C. will be in support; two companies will be in the old front line (N.33.b.), two companies in Needle Trench and the trench running from about N 33.c.0.1 to N.33.c.9.4., with H.Q. in Needle Trench.
(c) The 6th K.S.L.I, will be in reserve; one company in each of Blighty, Mail, Times, and Punch Trenches, with H.Q. in Punch Trench.
10. (a) The 83rd Field Company R.E. is placed at the disposal of the 60th Infantry Brigade. (b) The O.C. this Company will detail 1 N.C.O. and 4 men to assist the 12th R.B., and 1 N.C.O. and 3 men to assist the 6th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry in the construction of strong points as detailed - in para. 15 below. These men will form up before dawn with their respective battalions rationed for the day. (c) The remainder of the Company will be just south of Brigade H.Q. (T.8.a.3.5) by 4 p.m. The O.C. the company will report to Brigade H.Q. at 3 p.m.
11. One company, 11th D.L.I. (Pioneers), is placed at the disposal of the G.O.C. 60th Infantry Brigade. It will be just south of Brigade H.Q. (T.8.a.3.5), or in Serpentine Trench at 4 p.m. The O.C. the company will report to Brigade H.Q. at 3 p.m.
12. (a) The O.C. 60th Machine-gun Company will detail four guns and teams to each of the assaulting battalions. They will form up before dawn with the battalion to which they have been detailed. They should accompany the last wave of the assault, and should be used to hold and consolidate the position gained, paying particular attention to firing to the flanks. When the 2nd advance takes place each battalion will send forward two of its four guns to help to hold the 2nd Objective, the other two remaining in position for the defence of the 1st Objective, and assisting the advance in every possible way. (b) He will also arrange for four more guns about Needle Trench or farther forward to assist the advance with overhead fire. The O.C. 60th T.M. Battery will place as many guns in position as he can in N.28.C. and 27.d., and will fire rapidly on the German front line from zero to zero plus 2, having carefully registered each gun beforehand.
14. The Assault, (a) At zero hour both battalions will leave their trenches, and will assault the 1st Objective, each battalion having a frontage of two companies. Each of these leading companies should advance in two waves, if possible. They will assault, capture, and consolidate the 1st Objective. They will be followed as closely as possible by the two remaining companies of each battalion, each company advancing similarly in two lines, forming 3rd and 4th waves. These 3rd and 4th waves will pass right over the 1st Objective, unless they are urgently required to assist in its capture, and they will lie down about 40 yards to 80 yards in front of the captured trench ready to lead the second advance. (b) At the same time the two companies of the Supporting Battalion from N.33.b. will move forward, and will enter and hold our vacated front line as soon as the hostile barrage permits. During the halt at the 1st Objective all officers and N.C.O.s must pay particular attention to ascertaining the direction of their next advance (c) At zero plus 20 the two companies of each battalion, who will then be in advance of the 1st Objective, will advance in two waves to capture the 2nd Objective. The second wave will be followed as closely as possible by the original two companies of each battalion who captured the 1st Objective, who will then form a third wave. (e) The two companies of the Supporting Battalion will move up into the 1st Objective and hold it. (f) The captured line must be consolidated, and held as lightly as possible, full use being made of Lewis and machine guns. Posts should also be pushed forward and dug in.
15. Strong points will be established in Rainbow Trench by the 12th R.B. at N.28.a.2.3, and by the 61st Infantry Brigade at about N.27.b.4 ½ .7 ½ , and in the 2nd Objective by the 6th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry at N.28.b.7.2, and by the 12th R.B. at N.28.b.0.7, and 61st Infantry Brigade at about N.21.d.6.7.
16. The assaulting troops will wear fighting order; others should carry greatcoats. Every infantryman will carry 220 rounds S.A.A., 2 Mills grenades, one Yellow flare, and one Very pistol cartridge. Water-bottles will be filled. Fifty per cent, of the assaulting troops will carry forward picks and shovels (1 pick to 4 shovels).
17. The 9th Squadron R.F.C. will have a contact aeroplane in the air from zero to 5.30 p.m. Flares will be lit as follows :-- (a) On attaining each Objective. (b) At 5 p.m.
18. Medical arrangements will be communicated later." Battalion Commanders will arrange for their own Regimental Aid Posts
19. Prisoners of war will be sent to Brigade H.Q., and thence to Corps Cage at the Craters (A.8.a.), where they will be taken over by the A.P.M.
20. Watches will be synchronized at 7 p.m. on the 6th instant and 9 a.m. on the 7th instant by wire from Brigade H.Q. Units not on the telephone to Brigade H.Q. will send a representative to check time at the above hours.
21. There will be a dump of S.A.A., Mills bombs, water, and a few S.O.S. rockets and flares at old German gun-pits about N.33.b.6.3.
Battalion Operation Orders, issued on the 6th October by Major J. E. Osborne, commanding, contained extracts from the above Brigade Orders, and some additional instructions, the more important of which were:--
The general line of advance from the 1st to the 2nd Objective is on a magnetic bearing of 58°. Officers must make every effort to work by compass, as the advance is very blind.
Battalion H.Q. will be situated in dug-out about point N.27.d.9 ½ .5 (in the Sunken Road), to which reports will be sent by runner.
As soon as the 2nd Objective is gained, officers commanding companies will mark their dispositions as near as possible on the map issued for the purpose, and send it to Battalion H.Q.
A Battalion Aid Post will be established at N.33.b.9.4. Company stretcher-bearers are to be used chiefly for collecting wounded in shell-holes and binding them up. They should not be used for carrying back wounded in the earlier stages of the operations.
On gaining the objective men should keep in the shell-holes and make them good without exposing themselves. The Brigadier-General attaches great importance to this.
Zero hour tomorrow will be 1.45 p.m.
REPORT ON THE OPERATIONS OF THE 6TH OXFORD AND BUCKS LIGHT INFANTRY By Major J. E. Osborne, Commanding the Battalion. [Ref. Map Sheet 57 c. S.W.]
On the 7th October zero hour was 1.45 p.m., when, in accordance with 60th Brigade Operation Orders, the Battalion left its trenches and attacked Rainbow Trench (1st Objective), which runs from about N.28.a.l.4 to about N.28.c.l ½ .l ½ . The leading waves moved out of the British line close up to our barrage, arrived at the German barbed wire (about 40 yards in front of our trench), and lay down. The enemy had manned his parapet some 60 yards to our front, and was delivering a very hot fire from 6 machine-guns and from rifles, to which our troops replied. Shortly afterwards the advance began again; some men were able to crawl through the wire; others were able to move round through the gaps; others, by placing their feet on the top strand of the wire, were able to get through. The wire obstacle was one single length of barbed concertina wire, extending along the whole of the frontage of the Battalion's left company. It was about 2 ½ feet high, and appeared more of an alarming obstacle than it actually was.
During the period zero to zero + 4 minutes the enemy's machine-gun fire was very intense, but at the latter time it was silenced. The enemy then left their trenches unarmed, and ran back towards their second line. During their retreat our Lewis-guns did considerable damage to them; large numbers were seen to fall, and few Germans got back, those remaining in their front line being bayoneted or captured.
The advance from the first German line to the second, a point about N.22.c.8.2. to N.28.b.7.1., was accomplished with comparatively little loss, although some casualties occurred from snipers on our extreme right, who took advantage of that flank being temporarily in the air. Shortly afterwards a portion of the Division on our right pushed forward their attack and commenced digging in; thus, by joining up with our troops, they made our extreme right secure.
The consolidation of this position was at once commenced, our troops having reached their final objective.
This attack was launched in conjunction with the 56th Division on our right and the 12th Division attacking on our left.
The Battalion lost most of its officers early in the attack; the Company 'Commanders of A, B, and C were killed, and D Company Commander was severely wounded.
The casualties amounted to 13 officers and 230 other ranks.
Battalion Diary continued. October 8th-3lst.—The 8th was spent in consolidating the captured position, and at night the Battalion moved to Bernafay Wood, thence marching next day to a camp on the Bray-Albert road, and on the 15th to Daours. Continuing the march, Vignacourt was reached on the 19th, and there training was carried out until the end of the month.
November was devoted to continuous training at various camps.
On the 1st the G.O.C.-in-Chief awarded the Military Cross to:- 2nd Lieut. T. N. C. Harris and 2nd Lieut. H. Money ;
Temp. 2nd Lieut. Thomas Noel Cleather Harris. For conspicuous gallantry in action. He assumed command of and led the right of the line forward with great courage and determination. He set a splendid example to his men. Temp. 2nd Lieut. Harry Money. For conspicuous gallantry in action. He led his men with great courage and initiative, successfully reaching his objective. He set a splendid example throughout the operations.
On the 5th the G.O.C. 20th Division presented ribbons of medals to the following :-- 12636 Sergeant F. C. Stanton, Distinguished Conduct Medal. 20783 Sergeant W. French, Military Medal. 12133 Corporal A. T. Jones, Military Medal. 11662 Private J. Elkerton, Military Medal. 12743 Private A. Kimble, Military Medal. 12280 Private E. W. Spooner, Military Medal.
On the 19th intimation was received that the following had been awarded the Military Medal in the London Gazette of the 27th October :--
12732 Sergeant W. Wise. 15907 Corporal E. Patient. 12528 Lance-Corpl. H.W. Sear. 12584 Private G. White. 12744 Private H. Smith. 7707 C.-S.-M. W. Woodcock. 11747 C.-S.-M. E. George. 12646 C.-S.-M. J. East. 12747 Sergeant W. Edgington. 12993 Sergeant C. Fox. 17053 Private U. Kinchin.
December.—On the 10th the Battalion moved from Mansell Camp to Guillemont, and went into the trenches until the 15th, when it moved back to Carnoy. It had one more tour of the same trenches, and spent the remainder of the month at Meaulte training.
Five men were wounded in December, and about 140 were admitted to Field Ambulance suffering from "trench-foot."
1917. January.—Marching to dug-outs in the vicinity of Bouleaux Wood on the 1st, the Battalion moved up into the line next day, and remained in the trenches until the 4th, when it went back to Bronfay Camp. Three further tours in the same trenches, alternating with rest periods at Bronfay, were carried out, and the Battalion then marched to Meaulte for training. Casualties.—2 men killed and 19 wounded.
February.—On the morning of the 3rd Captain H. J. Sutherland was found dead in his bed. A post-mortem examination and court of inquiry found that death was due to poisoning from carbonic acid gas from a brazier which was in his room. He was buried on the following day at Grove Town.
During this month the Battalion took several tours of duty in the trenches in front of Guillemont, losing 8 men killed and 2nd Lieuts. Higlett, Skoulding, J. W. Wright, and 26 men wounded. 2nd Lieuts. Skoulding and Wright had been with the Battalion less than a week.
March.--Up to the 15th the Battalion continued in and out of the line as before, with camps at Carnoy and Guillemont; on the 16th the Morval Sector, with three small posts, was taken over, after which the Battalion continued to move gradually forward after the retreating Germans until Barastre was reached on the 28th. Casualties.—2nd Lieut. H. E. Rayner and 4 men killed, and 8 men wounded. 2nd Lieut. Rayner was killed four days after joining the Battalion. On the 29th Major C. R. C. Boyle took over the command of the 12th K.R.R.C.
April.--The advance continued throughout this month. On the 1st the Battalion moved from Barastre up into the outpost line. On the 3rd, at 12.30a.m., Captain A. B. Baines and 2nd Lieut. J. A. Sellar went to the 12th K.R.R.C. (on the left) to locate a new piquet. They started back, but failed to rejoin their companies, and were reported missing. Next day a piquet of A Company recovered their bodies, the Germans having apparently taken everything they possessed, including their equipment. 2nd Lieut. A. G. West was also killed on the 3rd by a stray bullet at "stand-to" in the morning.
Moving forward, the Battalion reached Havrincourt Wood on the 22nd. On the 24th 2nd Lieut. C. S. Benson went forward into the village of Trescault to reconnoitre. He appears to have lost his way, was heavily fired on, and killed.
The casualties in the ranks during the month were 2 killed and 8 wounded.
On the 19th Lieut.-Colonel J. E. Osborne relinquished the command of the Battalion on being sent to the base, sick, and Major (acting Lieut.-Colonel) C. R. C. Boyle assumed command until the 27th, when Major-(acting Lieut.-Colonel) H. M. Dillon, D.S.O. (2nd Battalion), joined and took over command.
May.--The first part of this month was spent in Vallulart Wood training, after which the Battalion moved to several different places, and had two uneventful tours in the trenches, losing 6 men wounded.
June.—Nothing of particular interest occurred in this month. The Battalion was in reserve, support, and front-line trenches once, while at other times it carried out training. The last few days of the month were spent at Achiet-le-Petit, and on the 30th a move was made by train to Montrelet.