Author Topic: Lt L B Humphreys PoW Interview - 17th Bttn, Trones Wood  (Read 2479 times)

Offline Tim Bell

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Lt L B Humphreys PoW Interview - 17th Bttn, Trones Wood
« on: June 03, 2017, 07:03:45 AM »
At 6.0 am on 9/7/16 the battalion attacked Trones Wood & captured the whole of it.  During the attack my company had become rather scattered & I spent some time trying to collect them.  At 10.0 am I reported at Batt HQ for orders & was told that B & D Coys would hold the NE edge of the wood, with A & C on the NW edge.  Having heard that the bulk of what remained of “B Coy” (which started 98 strong) were at that time at the NW edge, I proceeded there & found that the only men there were 20 men of A Coy & 20 men of B Coy, with a trench in of them still occupied by the enemy.  I therefore ordered my own men to remain where they were, at any rate till some reinforcement arrived & at once sent runners to Batt HQ to inform them of the position.   At 2.0pm, having received no communication from HQ, I despatched an officer & after waiting another hour without result, a second to HQ.  At that time I was with a party of about 10 men, separated from the rest by a wide, deep communication trench & about fifteen yards of undergrowth, making it practically impossible to keep in touch without going round by a circuit across country.  At 3.45 pm, the artillery fire which has all day been violent ceased, & shortly afterwards I heard enemy shouting close behind me in the wood, into which they appeared to have penetrated without opposition.  We at once stood to & discerned that in spite of the sentries keeping a good look out to both front & rear, the enemy had crept to within 10 yards under cover of the undergrowth & were keeping up a fusillade of rifle fire at the top of the trench followed by bombs dropped into the trench.  We returned his fire, but found it difficult to raise our heads above the parapet. They now pressed on our exposed flank, & it became evident that we could not hold on there, while at the same time the enemy were still holding a trench in rear making it impossible to get back.  I also did not know what was happening to the men on our right.  Under the circumstances I considered that the only course open was to surrender.  On arriving behind enemy lines, I was joined by about another 30 men of the battalion, who had been captured attempting to get back.  I have since heard that the rest of the battalion retired at about 2.0 pm, but apparently the runners sent up to me were killed on the way.
L B Humpreys Lt
17th Manchester Regt.
Following one Platoon and everything around them....