WAR DIARY

1/8th (ARDWICK) BATTALION MANCHESTER REGIMENT

APRIL 1918


APRIL 1 1918 - ESSARTS
During the morning the weather was bright and warm but in the afternoon there were some showers.
Orders that the Brigade was going into the line were received. This Battalion was to be in the Brigade Reserve. The 429th Field Co R.E. was attached to the Battalion.
During the day the enemy made an area shoot on the Village and although there were a number of direct hits on the trenches occupied by our men, there were no casualties.
In the evening the battalion left ESSARTS for the line (according to orders at 8.30 pm) but actually at 9.30 pm as the battalion in front were very late. There was considerable block and congestion of traffic by the cross roads at F19 C82 - usually heavily shelled but tonight there was only one shell near it. Route via cross roads F14 d00, MONCHY - BUCQUOY Road to intersection of road & trench F21 C93.
The Battalion relieved the 19th Bn. Middlesex (Pioneers) 41st Division who had held the line for two days and were very exhausted.
Relief complete without incident at 11.55 pm. Very little shelling.

APRIL 2 1918 - BRIGADE RESERVE
Disposition of Battalion were Bn H.Q. in Dugout approximately F21 d 05, A Company occupying trench in F21 c, D Company trench F21 d, B Company in communication trench in F21 b, and C Co. in Sunken Road F22 a (as sketched below).
The trenches were in fairly good condition and the day bright and warm as the men were fairly comfortable. At night a trench was dug in completion of the one occupied by D Co. to join it up with the communication trench of B Co. A Co. also linked up on the right. The night was very dark and work was rather difficult as the trench was not completed that night.
Slight shelling during the day and slightly increased at night. Otherwise remarkably quiet.
During the evening the dispositions were slightly altered as in sketch 2.

APRIL 3 1918 - BRIGADE RESERVE
Rain fell during morning and afternoon. Trenches very wet and muddy. The mens' condition very bad as there was little shelter - the most was an (?)undercut(?) covered with a ground sheet. Shelling very slight all day. Evening the work on the trench continued and was finished sufficiently to be manned. The 428th Field Company R.E. left the Battalion, but remained attached to the Brigade. Orders were received that the Brigade would be relieved 4/5th inst.

APRIL 4 1918 - BRIGADE RESERVE
The day was very wet but there was little shelling. At night (very dark) the Battalion was relieved by the 1/7th Manchester R. The remainder of the Brigade went back but this Battalion was put under the orders of 127th Infantry Brigade and accomodated in the trench in F20 b&d. The tactical idea of the Battalion was to deny the high ground in F21 c to the enemy. This was to be done by pushing out the Battalion (as on sketch next page), distributed in depth so that resistance could be offered to the front and to the flanks.

APRIL 5 1918 - DIVISIONAL RESERVE TRENCHES
The dispositions of the Battalion in case of attack are as per sketch below. The day was very wet and from 5 am - 6 pm there was a heavy enemy bombardment. All the battery positions behind were shelled with gas shells and a number fell near our trenches - a number of men had serious effects from it next day.
Later we heard the enemy had attack BUCQUOY (held by the 125th L. Fusiliers Brigade) and had driven back the right Battalion.
The condition of the trenches was very bad and the men were excessively uncomfortable - the mud and water was up to the depth of the fence along the greater part of the Trench.

APRIL 6 1918 - DIVISIONAL RESERVE
The weather was much warmer and brighter and the condition of the trenches greatly improved. The whole of the day was spent in cleaning out the trench and make a clear reconnaissance of the ground over which any counter-attack might be delivered.
In the afternoon a message was received from the 1/7th Lancashire Fusiliers stating that they had been informed that this Unit was to relieve them in the Line that night. Orders to this effect were received at about 6.30 pm.
The Battalion was relieved by the 42nd Division Composite Battalion (composed of the Battln Surplus of each Battalion in the Division).
About 9 pm the Battalion marched off to relieve the 1/7th Lancashire Fusiliers in the line in the BUCQUOY Sector.
There was some rain during the night. The night was very dark and communications difficuly, and great difficulty was found in finding the way which of course had not been reconnoitred.
There was little shelling during the night and the front was quite quiet.
Disposition of Companies in the Line, Right to Left, A, D, C, & B Cos.

APRIL 7 1918 - FRONT LINE BUCQUOY
The relief was complete without tactical incident at about 3 am. The condition of the posts was extraordinarily bad - very wet and muddy.
The day was quiet - little artillery or machine gun activity on either side. At about midday an old French Woman was found in the village. She was brought to the headquarters and she stated that she had lived there all her life and had stayed whilst the remainder of the civilian population had fled. She was sent to Brigade Headquarters under escort for investigation.
Orders were received that the Battalion would be relieved that night by two battalions of different brigades - 2/5th West Yorks R. & 5th Duke of Wellingtons. The relieving troops were guided into position but it was then found that there had been a misunderstanding between the Brigades concerned and that C Company, the second company from the left could not be relieved. This was made clear to the battalions concerned, who, however, would not relieve the company.

APRIL 8 1918 - FRONT LINE BUCQUOY
Our C Co. was still not relieved at 6 am, a report was forwarded to Brigade Headquarters and permission for Battalion Headquarters to withdraw. A definite promise was made that C Company would be relieved that night.
Route of Relief was via MONCHY-le-BOIS, BIENVILLERS, SOUASTRE, TO HENU, where billets were provided for the Battalion.
The Billets were crowded but were moderately good.
The men were thoroughly exhausted and were allowed to sleep the whole day and night.

APRIL 9 1918 - HENU
C Company was relieved and motor lorries were provided for them from BIENVILLERS to HENU.
The remainder of the Battalion bathed at PAS.

APRIL 10 1918 - HENU
The day spent in cleaning up and in reorganizing the companies on account of the large draft which had arrived.
The Red Line Reconnoitred by O.C. Cos.

APRIL 11 1918 - HENU
The Divisional Commander inspected the 126th Inf Bde and in his address afterwards expressed himself satisfied with what the Brigade had done during the recent action.

APRIL 12 1918 - HENU
Cleaning up, short periods of drill and physical training were carried out during the day.

APRIL 13 1918 - HENU
(?)Recuperative(?) training, short periods of smartening up drill, & recreational training continued.

APRIL 14 1918 - HENU
As yesterday.

APRIL 15 1918 - BRIGADE RESERVE
The Battalion ordered to go into the line that night into Brigade Reserve. Route SOUASTRE & FONQUEVILLERS. The Battalion relieved the 8th Lincolns. Relief complete about 11.30 pm without incident. There was some shelling as the battalion passed through FONQUEVILLERS but only two slight casualties were incurred.

APRIL 16 1918 - BRIGADE RESERVE
The Battalion was accomodated in the Three Purple Lines - the Old German Front and Support Lines. There was plenty of good dugout accomodation and the men were very comfortable.
As the whole of the trenches were under direct observation, movement and fires were necessarily limited as far as possible.
In case of attack the Battalion were to occupy the 1st Purple Line and be ready to deliver counter attacks on the Front & Support lines if captured by the enemy.
Slight shelling of our trenches during the day.

APRIL 17 1918 - BRIGADE RESERVE
Fairly Quiet - spasmodic shelling of PIGEON WOOD & GOMMECOURT WOOD. The weather was bright and clear.
Besides a number of working parties, a great deal of work was done in cleaning the trenches and digging Lewis Gun Positions & Emplacements particularly in the 1st Purple Line.
Lieut Colonel W. H. MICHOLLS reported to the Battalion and assumed command, Major BOWEN returning the next day to the Transport Lines.

APRIL 18 1918 - BRIGADE RESERVE
Enemy artillery continued to be fairly quiet - there was intermittent shelling of GOMMECOURT, PIGEON WOOD, & BIEZ WOOD.
The Defense Scheme & Battle Dispositions of the Battalion were reorganised with the permission of Brigade Headquarters.

APRIL 19 1918 - BRIGADE RESERVE
In the early morning a Practice Manning Scheme for the New Arrangement of Battle Positions was carried out.
Artillery on both sides very quiet.
Orders received that the Battalion would go into Support the next night. Support Battalion Position reconnoitred in the afternoon.

APRIL 20 1918 - BRIGADE RESERVE
Enemy artillery slightly more active during the day.
At night the Battalion relieved the 1/5th East Lancs. Regiment in Brigade Support. There was some shelling during relief.
LT Col W. H. MICHOLLS was wounded in the calf during the relief.
Relief completed just before midnight. Capt. A. FORBES temporarily in command of Bn.

APRIL 21 1918 - BRIGADE SUPPORT
Major H. S. BOWEN rejoined the Battalion in the Line and assumed Command of the Battalion.
The weather was very wet during the day and the condition of the trenches very bad.
The Battalion was disposed as follows: Bn HQ & B Co. in the Strong Point called SALMON POINT, A Co. in CHUB TRENCH, D Company in SALMON TRENCH, C Co. WAACS TRENCH.
During the day there was spasmodic shelling near Battalion Headquarters, otherwise fairly quiet.
Working parties for R.E.s & for the Front Line Battalion continued.

APRIL 22 1918 - BRIGADE SUPPORT
Area near Battalion Headquarters & the derelict Tank shelled intermittently during the day - chiefly Whizz-Bangs (77mm) but also a few 10.5cm. The weather much brighter & warmer. A considerable amount of work carried out on the trenches which was improved a great deal.

APRIL 23 1918 - BRIGADE SUPPORT
Weather warm and dry. Trenches further improved. Order received for the Battalion to relieve 1/10th Manchester Regiment in the Line. Reconnoitring parties were sent out in the afternoon to the Front Line Battalion Area.
In order to complete an adjustment of the Brigade Boundary, "D" Company was placed at the Disposal of 1/19th Manchester R. to be in close support. Little artillery activity on either side. Working parties continued.

APRIL 24 1918 - BRIGADE SUPPORT
Some rain during the afternoon made all the trenches very muddy and wet. There was some shelling during the day but the night was very quiet. The Battalion relieved 1/10th Manchester R. in the Line. There was no difficulty about the relief which proceeded without incident.

APRIL 25 1918 - FRONT LINE
Relief complete at 12.55 am. The Battalion Front extends to about 2300 yards long. The front line consists of a line of posts - the right half in a continuous trench, the left half in the open and quite isolated. Each post is on an average of a strength of 1 N.C.O. & 6 men.
A newly dug support trench - about 200 yards in the rear of the front line of the right half battalion and about 600 yds (average) in the rear of the left half of the battaion line accomodated the support platoons of the Companies. On the left were three posts in the open, about 250 yds behind the front line acting as close support to the left isolated front posts.
At night in accordance with Brigade Instructions, the Battalion Reorganised its method of holding the line (vide Map & Orders attached). The supporting posts on the left were withdrawn leaving the isolated front line posts in grave danger of being cut off before anything was known in rear of what had happened.
The day was fairly quiet, there being little retaliation to our frequent "hurricane" artillery shoots. Enemy Machine Guns (particularly at night) and snipers were markedly active.
There was little enemy movement noted during the day.

APRIL 26 1918 - FRONT LINE
There was little artillery activity on either side during the day but enemy snipers & machine guns remained active.
A little movement seen in ROSSIGNOL WOOD was immediately fired upon but very little of the enemy was seen the whole day.
A patrol from A Company found an unoccupied post (apparently for a machine gun) in the East Corner of the WOOD. Some loose S.A.A. and four stick bombs were also found in the post and brought away.
Other patrols were sent out but no enemy were encountered nor were any enemy posts located.

APRIL 27 1918 - FRONT LINE
Slight shelling on HIGH STREET and near the Support Bn H.Q. took place during the day. Enemy snipers and machine gunners active - all exposed ground was swept at night by the enemy's machine gun fire. Our artillery remained active during the day & night.
The Left Company adjusted its disposition at night. Two men posts in close support to the Front Line were established at L7 b77 & L7 b68. These posts were of high morale value to the front line posts.
A small reconnoitring patrol from A Company discovered a working party of the enemy in front so word was immediately brought back and Lewis Fire opened on the Spot with great effect it was thought. Other patrols failed to establish contact with the enemy.

APRIL 28 1918 - FRONT LINE
Enemy artillery more active today - snipers and machine gunners also remained active. Our artillery continued their active probing of hurricane shoots at irregular intervals.
At night a fighting patrol of 1 Officer (2LT McADOREY) & 9 O.R. attempted a silent raid on the enemy post located at L7 c28. The surprise failed and the enemy opened fire with machine gun, rifle, & bombs wounding the officer severely (he later died) and a man. Our patrol returned the fire with bombs but withdrew as it was now impossible to achieve its purpose. The wounded man, who was thought to be dead, was left behind and was taken in by the enemy. At 9.30 pm the enemy fired a volley of rifle grenades on our left post killing one man and wounding two others. Following this up immediately, a party of about eight of the enemy attempted to rush the post. The rush was stopped without difficulty with rifle fire and bombs and the enemy quickly withdrew. A non commissioned officer's cap (badly damaged by a bomb) and a dead man were afterwards found outside the post. The man's papers identified him as belonging to the 7th ERSATZ BAVARIAN Regiment. The man was only young - born 1899. There was little else of interest to report during the day as it was quiet and little enemy movement observed.

APRIL 29 1918 - FRONT LINE
Enemy artillery quiet - our artillery continued its activity throughout the day and night. Enemy snipers and machine gunners continued their activity.
During the night the enemy sent up a number of flares showing that he was somewhat apprehensive.
During the night several patrols and listening posts were sent out. One patrol encountered a working party. Rifle Fire was opened on them and bombs were thrown but after an hour seeing it was impossible to rush the party on account on their strength, the patrol withdrew.

APRIL 30 1918 - FRONT LINE
Enemy artillery more active - about 100 4.2s were fired at HIGH STREET during the day. Our artillery also remained active.
Some enemy movement at L7 d32 was fired on and several parties of about 6 men were dispersed.
At night the dispositions of the Battalion were again changed to give more strength and support to the left flank.
We carried out active patrolling during the night but although a working party was seen and fire opened on them - resulting in casualties being inflicted upon them, no prisoners were captured.


Officers O.R.

Killed

4

Wounded

3 67 (7 at duty & 24 gassed)

Missing

3

Sick to hospital

139


Total casualties

3 213

 

May 1918

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