WAR DIARY

1/8th (ARDWICK) BATTALION MANCHESTER REGIMENT

MARCH 1918


MARCH 1 1918 - L'ECLEME
Training carried out in the vicinity of the Companies' Billets. Weather cold and sharp. Evening sharp Frost.
During the night and particularly during the early morning heavy gun fire was heard. It was thought that the enemy had attacked.

MARCH 2 1918 - L'ECLEME
Orders were received for the Battalion to proceed at once to the MESPLAY Area (behind the PORTUGUESE FRONT) to occupy the positions previously reconnoitred. Orders were received at 7.29 am. The Battalion marched off at 9.10 am. Motor Lorries were met at V28 a82. Embussing complete and the buses moved off at 10.12 am. The Right Half Battalion de-bussed at LOCON at 11.15 am and the companies marched off independently to their positions. The Left Half Battalion (?)are in(?) Brigade Reserve - de-bussed at ZELOBES (the (?)Site(?) of Brigade Headquarters) at 11.20 am. The Battalion was reported in position at 12.20 pm. Work was immediately started on improving the trenches and making or improving latrines, etc.
At 4.15 pm. Orders were received to return to billets occupied before the move. 4.45 pm. Three Companies marched off to AVELETTE to embus there for L'ECLEME. Battalion Headquarters & One Company marched off at 5.50 pm. Two Companies embussed at 5.55 pm. and the remainder of the Battalion at 7.30 pm.
On arrival at the old billets it was found that a Battalion of the 46th Division had moved into them thinking that this Battalion would not return. The party left behind had arranged billets for the Battalion in the ROBECQ Area. All the Battalion, with the exception of a portion of one company which was lost for a time with its motor lorries, was settled in the new billets by 9.20 pm.

MARCH 3 1918 - ROBECQ
The day was spent in resting, cleaning up, etc. No services were held.

MARCH 4 1918 - ROBECQ
Battalion proceeded by march route to new billets in BURBURE. Strong wind and some rain during the day. The Billets here much more comfortable & convenient than any the Battalion has been in since the Division came out of the Line for Rest. There are also good facilities for training in the district.

MARCH 5 1918 - BURBURE
Training carried out according to programme, on Area A (C9 b). The weather was bright, sharp - good for training.

MARCH 6 1918 - BURBURE
Training carried out according to Programme, on Football Field (U28 c), the Ground at U27 d and the Range at U29 c. Football Competition (Inter-Platoon) carried out during the afternoon and evening.

MARCH 7 1918 - BURBURE
Training carried out according to Programme, on Area A. Inter Platoon Competition carried out during afternoon & evening.

MARCH 8 1918 - BURBURE
Training continued according to programme. Weather warm & dry.

MARCH 9 1918 - BURBURE
Training carried out according to programme. 17 Officers of the Battalion reconnoitred the VERMELLES Area.
In the afternoon the Battalion played 1/5th Bn East Lancs R. at Football. Result 1-0 for the 1/5th Bn East Lancs R.
Evening: Summer Time came into Force at 11 pm.

MARCH 10 1918 - BURBURE
Sunday Service for all denominations were held during the morning. Afternoon: Inter-Platoon Football competition continued. Weather warm & bright. Battalion received orders to be ready to move at once but this was cancelled later and we were informed that we were allowed 12 hours notice.

MARCH 11 1918 - BURBURE
Training carried out according to programme. The last two platoons of the Battalion inspected for the Platoon Efficiency Competition. Result: The Four Platoons at the head of the list are B6, B7, C10 & D15, each with 350 marks out of a maximum of 500 marks.
Evening: a Concert was given by the Regimental Troupe for A & B Companies. A motor lorry was provided for 25 O.R. to visit the Divisional Wing (ALLOUAGNE) to see the Divisional Pantomime.

MARCH 12 1918 - BURBURE
Training continued according to programme at Area A. C Company gave a demonstration of an open warfare attack which was quite successful. Evening: The Regimental Troupe gave a performance to C & D Companies and 25 O.R. went by Motor Lorry to the Divisional Pantomime ALLOUAGNE.

MARCH 13 1918 - BURBURE
Training continued according to programme. Weather warm & bright. Evening: concert for Battalion Headquarters & Transport.

MARCH 14 1918 - BURBURE
Orders received at 6.10 am for the Battalion to prepare to move at once. The Battalion was reported ready to move off at 7.29 am. The Battalion was then ordered to be ready to move at ten minutes notice. The Brigadier came and inspected the Transport and one Company and then ordered the Battalion to continue the ordinary route as the Alarm was merely a Brigade Test. Remainder of the morning spent on kit inspections, musketry, in Billets, etc. Afternoon: Games - Boxing & Football.

MARCH 15 1918 - BURBURE
Training continued as per programme. Afternoon: Bath at LILLERS allotted to the Battalion. No clean clothing available.
Brigade Inter Platoon Competition (This Bn represented by 2LT TEASDALE and 10 Platoon).

MARCH 16 1918 - BURBURE
Training as per programme. Afternoon: recreational training - Inter Company Football Matches.

MARCH 17 1918 - BURBURE
Sunday, The Range at ALLOUAGNE allotted to the Battalion. Each Company made use of it for two hours. No men available for Church Parade. Inter Platoon Efficiency Competition continued.

MARCH 18 1918 - BURBURE
Training continued as per programme. Weather fine & dry.

MARCH 19 1918 - BURBURE
Heavy rain fell during the morning so training was carried out in billets - lectures, Preliminary Musketry, Anti Gas Training. Afternoon: the weather drier so training carried out on company training grounds. Evening: an officer of the Tank Corps gave a lecture to all Officers on the use of tanks.
Brigade interplatoon competition for Football, lost 2-1 to 1/5th East Lancs R.

MARCH 20 1918 - BURBURE
Training continued. Afternoon: Brigade Finals of Boxing & Football. Weather fine and dry.

MARCH 21 1918 - BURBURE
Training continued - weather fine & dry. Evening concert in Schoolroom by the Regimental Troupe - the Brigadier attended.

MARCH 22 1918 - BURBURE
Training continued - concert in the Schoolroom for A & B Cos. in the evening. About 7.30 pm, a verbal message from Brigade Headquarters was received to stack all surplus stores at Brigade Quartermasters Stores as the Brigade was moving almost immediately and only three motor lorries for Battalion would be available. All surplus stores were stacked by midnight. Throughout the night there was a constant stream of Brigade Messages but definite orders that the Battalion would move was received early in the morning.

MARCH 23 1918 - BURBURE
Battalion ordered to proceed to BASSEUX (S.W. of ARRAS) by bus. The Battalion was to embus at 10 am, but the buses were late and the (?unknown?) of the (?)brigade(?) buses moved off shortly after 12 noon. The buses (actually the Battalion was chiefly in motor lorries) proceeded via PERNES, ST. POL, FREVENT, DOULLENS, RIVIERE GROSVILLE, RANSART TO ADINFER. Here the Brigade debussed and the 125th & 126th Brigade bivouacked the night in ADINFER WOOD. As the men had their blankets and the weather had been fine and dry, they were fairly comfortable. The three motor lorries arrived at 10 pm. Gun sentries posted and the Battalion to be ready to move without further notice.

MARCH 24 1918 - ADINFER WOOD
Fires were allowed to be lighted at dawn. The C.O. and Company Commanders reconnoitred a position forming a defensive flush facing S.E. running N.E. from ABLAINZEVELLE to COURCELLES - AYETTE Road, both inclusive.
At 11.30 am. information was received that the Brigade would move forward in the early afternoon. At Brigade Headquarters a conference first of Adjutants and then of C.O.s was held. The Battalion was ready as ordered to move at 2 pm. The Brigade actually moved at 4 pm to LOGEAST WOOD by march route. No transport was available so the Lewis Guns, Magazines, etc. had to [be] carried by the men. The day was very hot and close and the men were rather exhausted at the end of the march. The Route taken was via DOUCHY - les - AYETTE, BUCQUOY and (?)thence(?) by a track. The Battalion arrived about 6 pm. Orders were received that the Division would go into the line that night and that this brigade would be in Divisional Reserve. The Battalion marched out at 8.20 pm guided by an officer of the 20th Bn. Middlesex Regiment. Strength of Battalion: 20 Officers 512 O.R. The Battalion took up a position in the railway cutting from about A22 d27 to A22 b37 and dug in at the (?)top(?) of (?)Bastion Side(?) to form fire steps & fire positions. The 126th L.T.M.B. was south of the Battalion, next to the 1/10th Manch R., also in the cutting. The 1/5 East Lancs Regiment was about A30 central. Everything was quiet until 11.30 pm when all the batteries near the cutting of which there was a large number opening fire at what seemed S.O.S. rates.

MARCH 25 1918 - [RAILWAY CUTTING]
Orders were received for the 1/5 E. Lancs. & 1/10th Manch. R. to advance at once and occupy a line of trenches from B25 b24 - B13 c03. Another order was received for the Battalion to take up a position outside the ACHIET-le-GRAND - ERVILLERS Road from A30 d central to A30 a57. The Battalion at once left the cutting and marched to GOMIECOURT. The roads forward were blocked with traffic of all descriptions - ambulances, ammunition limbers, etc. and progress very slow. On passing through GOMIECOURT orders were received to return to the cutting as the situation had quietened. This was done, the cutting being reached about 5 am. Fires were allowed to be made at dawn and everyone had a hot breakfast as rations and water had arrived about 11 pm the previous day. About mid-day the enemy began to shell the batteries near the cutting and all save one changed position. Shells now began to burst in the cutting (?)rather(?) frequently and a number of casualties were caused. It was difficult to decide whether the enemy were shelling the batteries or the cutting itself. The men were spread along the cutting as much as possible and kept in close to the Eastern Side. The shelling and the casualties however continued until orders were received from Brigade Headquarters to advance and take up a position in the sunken road (?)running(?) through G4 b, G5 a & A29 d. The Battalion at once advanced in artillery formation to the sunken road in A28 b & A29 a. This advance was made with few casualties. The Battalion then advanced to its destination and arrived with about only 30 casualties. Touch was kept with the Battalion on the right and left, respectively, 1/7th Manchester Rgt. & 1/5th East Lancs. There was continuous shelling here but the casualties were successfully evacuated. About 7 pm one heavy howitzer began to shell GOMIECOURT and our (?)own(?) positions very thoroughly and with great effect - 30 casualties were caused in two companies and the battalion on the left had heavy casualties. Written messages were sent to brigade H.Q. and also attempts were made to secure communication by lamp. The shelling did not stop until about 9.30 pm. In the mean time, the two companies affected were pushed forward into a trench about 100 yds away from the road. Shelling on both sides quietened down about 10 pm. An officer was sent to Brigade Headquarters in the Railway Cutting in A22 b and orders were received for the Battalion to withdraw to positions East of COURCELLES. The withdrawal was ordered at 2 am. Everything was quiet now except for an occasional shell and rifle shot.
Casualties: Killed: 1 Officer (2Lt W. TUSON) & 7 O.R., Wounded: 1 Officer Lt GIBSON, 95 O.R., Missing: 11 O.R.

MARCH 26 1918 - [SUNKEN ROAD near GOMIECOURT]
At 1 am. the 127th Inf Bde on the right withdrew. At about 2 pm [sic - should be "am"] as the battalion was beginning to withdraw loud shouts and cries were heard on the left flank as though the enemy were charging, apparently this was merely a ruse as he did not attack and the withdrawal was concluded quietly and without incident, to the trenches running from about A27 b86 to A22 a60 (these had been dug during the day by a previous battalion). Work was carried out during the remainder of the night on improving the trench. There was a considerable amount of shelling on COURCELLES. At 7 am. orders were received to withdraw still further to West of ABLAINZEVELLE. This was carried out without incident.
At first orders were received for one company to hold the village and the other three companies to garrison the old trench running west of ABLAINZEVELLE. As however the Battalion on the right was not pushing forward into the village, this Company was (?)absorbed(?) into the trench line. Battalion Frontage from BUCQUOY-ABLAINZEVELLE Road to F22 b82. Dispositions right to left A, C, B, & D Cos.
A dump of tools was found in the village and efforts at once made to consolidate as the trench was wide and shallow. There was an old water (?)pond(?) in the village but the tank was dry and useless.
Dispositions of the Brigade were Right: 1/8th Manchester R., Left: 1/10th Manch R. (?)1(?) up to F16 d 74. Reserve: 1/5th East Lancs R. in roads & trenches - F21 & 22. On the right was the 1/6th Manch R. (127th Inf Bde). At F22 d75 15 an old German dug out was found so Battalion Headquarters & the Regimental Aid Post were established here. Throughout the day there was only slight shelling of the village and near the trench. Patrols were sent out but there was no sign of the enemy. At dusk a standing patrol was sent out. This consisted of 2 sections and an officer and returned about 9 pm and reported an encounter with a strong patrol of the enemy. Several of the enemy were killed or wounded and a (?)specimen(?) equipment brought in. The enemy were now also reported to be in the village and to be occupying some of the houses. A platoon of A Company was at once pushed forward to occupy a position close to the village so as to give warning of any attack from there.
A patrol was sent out to reconnoitre the ground to the left (North) of the Village. Enemy were encountered here also and casualties were inflicted on both sides. The enemy were reported to be occupying the two sunken roads in F23 a&b in strength unknown.
Casualties: Killed: 8 O.R., Wounded: 39 O.R.

MARCH 27 1918 - West of ABLAINZEVELLE
During the early hours of the morning the enemy established a machine gun and several rifle posts in the village as there was a certain amount of fire from there. 2LT LINDLEY was seriously wounded whilst in command of the picquet but remained in charge until relieved. At dawn the picquet was withdrawn as there was now much less danger of being rushed. During the morning the enemy shelling on and near our trenches was considerably increased.
About 10 am the enemy made an attack on the brigade on our right but it was purely local and as it was made without artillery support it was beaten off successfully.
About 2 pm the enemy made a local attack from ABLAINZEVELLE and the South on our right flank and the 1/6th Manchester R. This was beaten off by our Lewis Gun & Rifle Fire. A small counter attack by the 1/6th Manchester R. resulted in the capture of two machine guns. Several other local and hap-hazard rushes were similarly dealt with.
About 3 pm: A large body of German infantry were seen crossing over (?)front(?) and moving in a North Westerly Direction. They were fired at (at long range) by our Lewis Guns. At about 9 pm. the 1/10th Manch R. reported the enemy to be massing in F12 (?)b&d(?). This was at once reported to the artillery who reached this ground thoroughly. No attack came from this quarter.
Throughout the afternoon and until about 7.30 pm. the enemy heavily shelled the two right Companies causing considerable casualties particularly with A Co. A platoon of 1/5th East Lancs R. reported as reinforcements and was attached as a (?)reserve(?) to B Co. and placed between B & C Cos.
During the night the enemy's artillery was quiet and patrols entered the village and reported that the enemy were still there but it was difficult to say in what strength or to locate their exact position.
Early in the afternoon LT HOLDAWAY, who had assumed control of a small advanced post manned by two sections of 1/10th Manch R. and 1/8th Manch when an officer of the 1/10th Manch R. previously in charge had been wounded, advanced with his force covered by his Lewis Gun into the wood but met a large force of the enemy so withdrew covered by his Lewis Gun Fire.
Casualties: Killed: 3 O.R., Wounded: 2LTS LINDLEY, HARRISON, TEASDALE, & WALKER, & 10 O.R., Missing: 7 O.R.

MARCH 28 1918 - West of ABLAINZEVELLE
At 6.20 am the enemy were reported to be massing in F11 d - about one battalion strong. Our 18 pounders opened fire on them effectively and they were dispersed.
From 8 am - 9 am our 18 pounders thoroughly reached and swept the Village of ABLAINZEVELLE - chiefly shrapnel which burst very accurately and with few short. One of our men who had been captured the day before informed us that this shelling was so effective that the enemy had withdrawn and he was so able to escape.
The enemy made a bombing raid on the 1/6th Manch R. It was unsuccessful and an Officer and men were left as prisoners.
During the day a considerable amount of movement was observed in the two sunken roads in F23 a&b particularly about F23 a64.
In the afternoon these two roads were shelled and the enemy was soon to rush out from them in small parties.
A machine gun was located in the village at about F23 c43 and another about F23 b26. A fighting patrol of one officer and 20 O.R. was ordered to deal with these two guns but just as the patrol was setting out orders were received from Brigade Headquarters that no patrols were to be sent out as an enemy attack was expected and it was impossible to change the S.O.S. Line.
Orders were received that the 127th Inf. Bde. was being relieved and that the 126th Inf. Bde. would take over a portion of their front. This Battalion extended and sidestepped so as to take over the front held by one company of 1/6th Bn. Manch. R. which had a good number of casualties and was very weak.
The night was very quiet and the relief was successfully carried out without incident.
The rain which fell almost continually the whole day rendered the trenches very muddy and almost impassable. It was exceedingly difficult to keep the Lewis Guns & Rifles clean and almost impossible for the men to keep dry or rest.
Casualties: 1 O.R. wounded.

MARCH 29 1918 - West of ABLAINZEVELLE
At dawn a patrol reconnoitred the trench position at F29 a (?)25 80(?). A strong bombing post was discovered at F29 a38 and after shooting one of the enemy, the patrol withdrew.
Lieut Colonel E. G. K. CROSS was wounded in the right arm. He remained at duty until the Brigadier gave him verbal permission to go to hospital. Capt. E. HORSFALL assumed command of the Battalion.
About 2 pm. a warning order was received that the Division was being relieved that night by the 41st Division.
During the day there was little artillery activity but snipers were active from ABLAINZEVILLE. Our snipers and Lewis Gunners kept up harrassing fire on the village during the day.
At night the battalion was relieved by a composite battalion of 11th Queens and 10th West Kents.
Relief complete without incident at 11.55 pm.
After relief the Battalion proceeded to ESSARTS to be Corps Reserve with the remainder of the Division.
Casualties: Killed: 1 O.R., Wounded: LT Col E. G. K. CROSS & 3 O.R.

MARCH 30 1918 - ESSARTS
The Battalion arrived in ESSARTS and was accomodated in trenches. As the cookers and ration limbers had arrived, the men were able to have a hot meal and change of socks before settling down to sleep. The day was spent in sleeping and cleaning up (slightly) as the men were very fatigued.
The Divisional Commander paid a personal visit to the Battalion to express his appreciation and thanks for what had been done during the past few days. In the afternoon the rain began to fall and this greatly added to the discomfort of the men who, however, fully conscious that they had done everything asked or expected of them, were wonderfully cheerful.
Major H. S. BOWEN who was waiting for the Battalion, assumed command on arrival of the Battalion in ESSARTS.

MARCH 31 1918 - ESSARTS
The morning was warm today but in the afternoon rain began to fall again. Rest and cleaning up was continued throughout the day. We were informed that the Division would relieve the 41st Division the next night.
Great efforts were made throughout the day to help the condition of the mens' feet - on account of the wet weather. All feet were thoroughly rubbed with whale oil and clean socks issued.
During the afternoon the enemy shelled the area of the village but did not cause any casualties or as far as could be seen cause any other damage.
There was however a good deal of movement in the village during the day despite the fact that enemy balloons were up.


Officers O.R.

Total Strength Mar. 1st

47 949

Total Strength Mar. 31st

46 741

Killed

1 19

Wounded

6 148

Missing

18

Sick to hospital

2 100

Total Casualties

9 285

 

April 1918

8th battalion home page