WAR DIARY

1/8th (ARDWICK) BATTALION MANCHESTER REGIMENT

DECEMBER 1917


DECEMBER 1 1917 - LEFT SUBSECTOR GIVENCHY SECTOR
Our 18 pounders shelled RUE du MARAIS between 12.30 & 12.40 pm. Our T.M. also shelled the front line of the enemy system of trenches. Enemy artillery quiet. Enemy M.G.s fairly active during the night. The usual (?)Lonely(?) Patrol to the Battalion on the right was sent during the night. Our left Coy. (D Coy.) continued the wiring of their front. An enemy aeroplane over our lines from 7.40 am to 7.55 am.

DECEMBER 2 1917 - LEFT SUBSECTOR GIVENCHY SECTOR
Artillery on both sides fairly quiet. Fourteen medium T.M. shells fell near our line in S28 a between 9.50 & 10.[0]5 am. The wiring of CANADIAN ORCHARD improved and extended so that now there is a complete belt of wire round the post with one gap. An enemy aeroplane was over our lines from 9.[0]5 to 9.10 am and again at 9.20 am when it was driven off by our A.A. guns.
A patrol of one Officer (Lt HARRIS) and 12 O.R. left our lines at A3 a94.30 at 6.30 pm with the object of reconnoitring No Man's Land and examining the Wire at Old Man's Corner. The night was very dark and the patrol had great difficulty in making its way across No Man's Land to the enemy wire which was reached at A3 b30.15. The wire from here to a point 150 yards south of it was examined. There were two belts of wire, the outer one being in a very poor condition and mostly broken. The inner belt was in very good repair and no gaps were found in it. Whilst the patrol was looking for gaps an enemy M.G. (not yet located) opened fire on them and the patrol withdrew, returning to our lines at 8.50 pm. No Man's Land was very difficult as the ground was cut up intersected by numerous streams and ditches.
Another patrol (from the centre Coy.) of one Officer (2LT DUNN) and three other ranks left our line at S27 b51 at 6.30 pm to reconnoitre No Man's Land East of the Point. About 80 yards out the patrol found an embankment running N.E. & S.W. It was found that this embankment had been sandbagged here to form a post and had also been tunnelled from the direction of the enemy. 2LT DUNN thought that this post if manned by the enemy would be of great use to them. Still further out the going was very bad. The patrol returned about 8.30 pm.

DECEMBER 3 1917 - LEFT SUBSECTOR GIVENCHY SECTOR
Very Quiet. Very little artillery or M.G. fire on either side. During the day about 20 light T.M. shells fell near the front line of the left and centre Coys. who retaliated with our L.T.M. The Battalion was relieved in the Line by 1/6th Manchester Rgt. Relief Complete 4 pm. Coys. moved down independently to GORRE CHATEAU, the Bn. now being in Reserve. Three Coys. are billetted in the Chateau, and the other Coy. in a farm very close by. The Officers (except H.Q. Officers in the Chateau) are billetted in the cottages close by. Everyone is very comfortable.

DECEMBER 4 1917 - GORRE
Two Companies bathed at the Baths LE QUESNOY in the morning and the other two in the afternoon. Training carried out according to programme. The weather very dry and frosty.

DECEMBER 5 1917 - GORRE
Training continued as per programme. There is a very fine training ground here complete with trenches & assault course & miniature range. There is also a football ground. A Class of 16 N.C.O.s for training in P.T. & B.F. meets daily under C.S.M. Spigett (Bde Instructor).
Afternoon inter-company league matches took place.
During the day Officers & N.C.O.s reconnoitred the routes to the front line of the Right Subsector. Enemy aircraft action during the night. A few bombs were dropped on BETHUNE & LE QUESNOY.

DECEMBER 6 1917 - GORRE
Training continued. The Bde Armourer Sergt inspected the Rifle and Lewis Guns of the Battalion during the day. The weather still continues very cold indeed.

DECEMBER 7 1917 - GORRE
Training continued. In the afternoon half holiday & games instead of on Saturday. Slight rise in temperature and a thaw commenced. BETHUNE shelled during the day.

DECEMBER 8 1917 - GORRE
Weather relatively warm. Training continued. Each coy. on range in LE QUESNOY for an hour.

DECEMBER 9 1917 - LEFT SUBSECTOR GIVENCHY SECTOR
The Battalion left GORRE at 1 pm to relieve the 1/6th Manchester Rgt. in the Front Line. The weather very dull and wet. Relief complete at 3.20 pm.
Dispositions of Coys. Right to Left: Front Line A, C & B Coys. In Support D Coy. Visibility during the day was very poor and very little could be seen from our O.P. at BREWERY (S20 d32). The night was intensely dark and no wiring was done on this account. A small enemy patrol was seen outside our wire at S27 d11. Very Lights were sent up and fire opened on them, nothing more being seen of them but they were heard splashing in the water and talking loudly. Both our own and the enemies (sic) artillery & M.G.s were quiet all day and night.

DECEMBER 10 1917 - LEFT SUBSECTOR GIVENCHY SECTOR
The weather much brighter today. The enemy had two balloons up - visibility very good. Artillery of both sides very quiet. Enemy Trench Mortars were active all day - about 60 light T.M. shells fell near SHETLAND TRENCH and in S22 a from 8.45 am - 9.45 am. About 15 light T.M. shells fell near S27 b63 during the morning whilst during the afternoon about 8 medium T.M. shells fell in A3 a. No damage or casualties were caused by these T.M. shells. During the day and night enemy machine guns were fairly active, traversing along the Front Line Trench & O.B.L. and also a few bursts on the QUINQUE RUE. One man was wounded by bullet (later died). In the morning 2LT GLENDENING accidentally wounded whilst engaged on a rifle inspection in the Front Line.
Two patrols were sent out to examine the enemy wire.
A patrol of 8 O.R. under a sergt. left BARNTON CENTRAL at point A3 a60.86 at 4.45 am to ascertain the state of wire from OLD MAN'S CORNER to a distance of 200 yds North of this point. The patrol reported there was only one thick belt of wire with a good deal of loose wire thrown in. Wooden stakes were wired and a trip wire was found in front of the main belt of wire. Only one small gap - sufficient for one man at a time to crawl through was found. No enemy was heard or seen.
A patrol of 1 Officer (2LT S.B. YATES) and 8 O.R. left the Centre Coy. at 3 am and reconnoitred the enemy wire from S27 d58.56 to S28 c12.97, leaving our line at S27 d20.75. The wire was in good condition without gaps and was of a regular low apron type about 12 feet thick. There was only one belt. No Man's Land in this area is very flooded and very difficult to pass. None of the enemy was seen or heard.

DECEMBER 11 1917 - LEFT SUBSECTOR GIVENCHY SECTOR
Artillery on both sides very quiet. Enemy machine guns active and fired several bursts on Right Cover Trench during the night. During the day an enemy M.G. fired several bursts on BARNTON NORTH TRENCH in retaliation to our snipers, who were active all day (each Front Line Coy. has four snipers in the front line). About 20 rounds light T.M. shells fell during the morning near Right Cover Trench in S27 b central.
A patrol of 1 Officer (Lieut.WARE) and 8 O.R. from the left Coy. went out from our line (at S28 a28) at 3 am. The enemy wire from S28 a43 to S28 a76 was examined. It was about 15 feet thick and a trip wire with tin cans attached. No gaps were found and there was no sign of the enemy. The ground south of CANADIAN ORCHARD is bad but North of the Post the going is better. Patrol returned about 4.30 am. Casualties 1 Officer (Lt Harris) sick to H.P.

DECEMBER 12 1917 - LEFT SUBSECTOR GIVENCHY SECTOR
Enemy artillery very quiet. Our 18 pounders fired on enemy wire in front of DOVER TRENCH for (?)purposes(?) of (?)registration(?). Enemy M.G. not so active today. Occasional bursts on QUINQUE RUE and O.B.L. during night. Four T.M. shells fell near S22 c21. No direct hits on trench and no damage was done. Another heavy T.M. shell fell near S27 b. Our Stokes Mortars retaliated and no more T.M. were fired till 10 pm when 8 heavy T.M. shells were fired on RIGHT COVER TRENCH in S28 a. Direct hit on SHETLAND ROAD and CANADIAN ORCHARD TRENCH.
An N.C.O.'s patrol left our lines at S28 a45 at 1 am. The wire from S28 a43 to S28 a05 was examined and found to be in good condition without gaps.
An Officer's patrol (LT KILNER & 8 O.R.) left CANADIAN ORCHARD at 3 am. The wire between S28 a28 was examined and found to be in good condition without gaps. A trip wire 2 feet high on iron pickets runs in front of main belt. No Man's land is clear & dry for 50 yards West of wire, after which it is very cut up and swampy. No enemy were seen or heard. Patrol returned 5.15 am.
An N.C.O.'s patrol left our lines at A3 a68 at 2 am. The Wire in front of the enemy trenches was examined from A3 b49 to S27 d53. At that later point a M.G. opened fire on them. No gaps were found in the wire which was in very good condition. No Man's Land is fairly dry and the going good. Two of the enemy were seen inside their own wire. Patrol returned at 5.30 am. Casualties Nil.

DECEMBER 13 1917 - LEFT SUBSECTOR GIVENCHY SECTOR
Enemy artillery very quiet. Our 18 pounders fired 290 rounds to cut the wire in front of DOVER TRENCH near S28 a 41. Two of our observers were left in No. 16 post (usually occupied only by night) and in CANADIAN ORCHARD post to observe the effect of this fire. The two former were killed by a direct hit by a medium T.M. shell. Medium T.M. very active during the day. 4 rounds fell near S23 c portion of our trench. 6 rounds near BARNTON NORTH and 68 rounds near No 16 post and between there & COVER TRENCH. Our Stokes Mortars fired 49 shells in retaliation on enemy from line in S28 a.
An N.C.O. patrol left our lines at No. 15 post to investigate the affect of our artillery on the enemy wire about S28 c19. There was no gap and very little damage had been done.
A patrol of 1 N.C.O. left our lines at A3 a97 at 2.30 am to examine the enemy wire. Wire from A3 b36 to A3 b27 is very thin. There are a number of holes in the ground as though stakes had been pulled up and East of OLD MAN's CORNER the wire is very broken but no actual gaps. Wire is very strong from A3 b23 to A3 b24.18. There was a good deal of talking from A3 b35.60 but none of the enemy were seen. The patrol returned at 3.25 am.
Casualties 2 O.R. killed.

DECEMBER 14 1917 - LEFT SUBSECTOR GIVENCHY SECTOR
Artillery on both sides fairly quiet. Enemy M.G. fairly active. Enemy T.M. active. During the morning 37 medium & 50 light T.M. shells fell between S27 b51 to S27 b45.
A patrol of 7 O.R. left our line at S27 d12 and went due East to the enemy wire. Two wide ditches were crossed. The patrol went along the wire for about 150 yds but nothing was heard so that no enemy post (the object of the patrol) was located. No gaps were discovered. Casualties 2 men wounded (1 man since died of wounds).

DECEMBER 15 1917 - LEFT SUBSECTOR GIVENCHY SECTOR
This Battalion was relieved by 1/6th Manchester Rgt. in the Line. The day was very bright and clear - visibility very good. the 1/6th sent up all their stores, etc. very early in the morning at dawn whilst we waited till dusk. After relief the Battalion went into Brigade support. C Coy. was left in O.B.L. SQ. of the QUINQUE RUE under the control (tactically) of the left Battalion (1/6th Manchester Rgt.). D Coy. was sent to garrison the Keeps - five small redoubts, East of Windy Corner. A & D Coys. are in protected homes near WINDY CORNER. These two Coys. are chiefly engaged on working parties for the R.E. and the Tunnelling Company (251st). Bn. H.Q. is A14 a88. There are cellars for everyone in case of hostile shelling which we were told had taken place fairly often recently as there is an 18 pounder battery just behind Bn Headquarters.
During the night a few shells fell about 100 yds. East of the Road.
Casualties 1 O.R. killed in action (during the relief) 1 O.R. wounded.

DECEMBER 16 1917 - SUPPORT BATTALION GIVENCHY SECTOR
The Battalion used the Baths at LE PLANTIN. The weather was bright and clear with frost. There were the usual working parties from A & B Coys. There was nothing of interest during the day. Snow - about two inches fell during the night.

DECEMBER 17 1917 - SUPPORT BATTALION GIVENCHY SECTOR
Bathing continued. Regimental Christmas Cards arrived from England. The weather very cold indeed. Warning Order arrived that we are to be relieved on the 23rd inst. by the Lancashire Fusiliers Brigade - this Battalion is to go to OBLINGHEM.

DECEMBER 18 1917 - SUPPORT BATTALION GIVENCHY SECTOR
Bathing & Work continued. Passage through the wire (in front of the Valley line) running through A8 b, 8 d & 14 b were made and bridges on the Trenches opposite laid down.

DECEMBER 19 1917 - SUPPORT BATTALION GIVENCHY SECTOR
Bathing & Work continued. Weather intensely cold - a keen frost all night.

DECEMBER 20 1917 - SUPPORT BATTALION GIVENCHY SECTOR
Orders received for the relief. Representatives of 1/5th Lancs. Fusiliers came out to look round and collect information, etc.

DECEMBER 21 1917 - SUPPORT BATTALION GIVENCHY SECTOR
Weather very cold with a slight fall of snow (about two inches). Working parties and bathing continued.

DECEMBER 22 1917 - SUPPORT BATTALION GIVENCHY SECTOR
The Battalion was relieved by the 1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers - in Support. Relief complete at 2.30 pm. Companies marched independently to their Billets at OBLINGHEM. As D Coy. were marching through the town of BETHUNE - as two platoons with 100 yards between them - enemy aeroplanes without any warning dropped about 50 bombs on the Town. About 4 - 6 bombs fell on or near D Coy. and heavy casualties were inflicted.
Casualties: Killed 1 Officer (2LT S.B. YATES) and 21 O.R.
Wounded and died of Wounds 1 Officer (2LT S.Y. WILKINSON) and 7 O.R.
Wounded 2LT BRIERLEY and 35 O.R. (including 2 O.R. at duty).

DECEMBER 23 1917 - OBLINGHEM
Battalion spent the day in cleaning up. etc. Church Services in the morning for all denominations. Assistant Chaplain General to 1st Army addressed the men at the C.E. service.
Weather very cold and frosty.

DECEMBER 24 1917 - OBLINGHEM
Very cold - two inches of snow. Very keen frost.
In the afternoon the Funeral of the men killed by bombs on 22/12/17 took place at the BETHUNE Cemetery. Fifty men and all available officers (two per Coy. stayed behind) attended.

DECEMBER 25 1917 - OBLINGHEM
Christmas Day. Each denomination held services, etc. Each Coy. had a Christmas Dinner in the evening followed by a concert. The P.R.I. provided pork, beer, apples, nuts, raisins, cigars, and vegetables. There was also Christmas Pudding and extra vegetables. All the men's dinners were very successful and the men greatly enjoyed themselves.
The Sergeants dined in the Company Sergeants Mess. The Officers also dined by companies.
The day was very cold and sharp.

DECEMBER 26 1917 - OBLINGHEM
Training carried out at W26 a. Battalion Parade at 8 am. One Coy. on the range. Remainder Physical Drill & Bayonet Fighting, Musketry, Wiring and drill.
Afternoon Kit Inspection. Evening a Battalion Concert in a Barn at Battalion Headquarters. Major MOORE left the Battalion for 6 months duty in U.K. Capt E. HORSFALL M.C. assumed duties of 2nd in Command.

DECEMBER 27 1917 - OBLINGHEM
The Battalion was engaged on working parties for the R.E. Motor Lorries came at 8 am (actually came 8.45 am) for the Bn. Very cold.

DECEMBER 28 1917 - OBLINGHEM
The Battalion again engaged on working parties.

DECEMBER 29 1917 - OBLINGHEM
Battalion Training in the morning. Rehearsed for G.O.C. Inspection on the 30th.

DECEMBER 30 1917 - OBLINGHEM
The Battalion marched to AVELETTE (W17 c central) where 1/5th Bn Manchester Rgt. & 127th M.G. Coy. were paraded for the Divisional Commander (Major General SOLLY-FLOOD) Inspection. The General presented ribbons to the winners of decorations (including three Military Medal winners of this Unit (Sgt WHITE, Pte POKE and Pte McCORMACK)). After the General's inspection, speech, and presentation, the troops marched past him.

DECEMBER 31 1917 - OBLINGHEM
A Coy. on Working Party. The other three Companies marched to LOCON in the morning and bathed. B & C Coys. in the afternoon had their box respirators tested. Weather very cold.
At night D Coy. had a concert for New Year's Eve.


Officers O.R.

Total Strength

33 687

Casualties

Killed

1 24

Died of wounds

1 9

Wounded

1 37 (including 2 O.R. at duty)

(accidentally wounded)

1

Died of natural causes

1

Sick to hospital

3 58

 

January 1918

8th Battalion home page