1 /7/ 16
The attached Battn Operation Order No 63 gives the general and detailed orders for the offensive for which the Battn assembled in the trenches opposite FRICOURT VILLAGE on the afternoon of 27th June 1916. The first zero hour was 7.30am on July 1st when the troops on our left and right attacked, and the 2nd zero hour was at 2.30pm when the battalion assaulted. Owing to an unfortunate mistake on the part of the officer commanding A Coy, his company assaulted at 7.45am. As soon as they began to climb over the parapet terrific machine gun was opened by the enemy and the company was almost at once wiped out. The survivors lay in crump holes some 25 yards in front of our wire until after dark. As soon as it was discovered that A Company had assaulted by itself, D Coy (the reserve Coy) was brought up into the assembly trenches to take A Coys place.
At 2pm 1/7/16 our artillery began the 1/2 hours preliminary bombardment of FRICOURT VILLAGE. This bombardment was feeble and did little damage to the enemy as the battalion soon learned to its cost. At 2.30pm the Battn assaulted and were met by a murderous machine gun and rifle fire, officers and men were literally mown down and were finally brought to a standstill about half way across to the enemy’s trenches. 13 Officers and over 300 men became casualties in about three minutes. The survivors lay in crump holes until dark with a few exceptions who managed to crawl back. Many magnificent deeds of courage were performed especially in bringing in wounded and carrying messages under fire.
1/7/16 to 2/7/16
The Battn was withdrawn after dark on 1/7/16 and marched some 5 miles behind the line to reorganise at VILLE continuing the march at 4pm 2/7/16 to HEILLY.
The Battn was relieved by 6th Battn Dorset Regt which was subsequently relieved the same night by 51 Bde.
This Bde occupied FRICOURT VILLAGE on the morning of 2/7/16 without a shot being fired, the enemy having evacuated his trenches during the night (about 11.30pm).
The casualties in the Battn amounted to 5 officers killed and 10 wounded, OR 336 killed and wounded.
Arrived from VILLE. The Battn being in tents in the same place as it occupied at the end of June.
A draft of 2 NCOs & 44 men joined the Battn & posted to A Coy. Messages received from the GOC 50th Bde and GOC XVII Div congratulating the Battn on its gallantry & devotion to duty on 1st July. The GOC XVII Div adding that owing to the self sacrifice of the Battn the village of FRICOURT was occupied, without a shot being fired, the following day.
Moved to billets in VILLE during the afternoon.
Reorganisation of bombing squads and Lewis Gun Teams. The men were refitted as far as possible. Capt AJW BARMBY in command of C Coy vice Capt RWS CROFT wounded. Lt. CVC Hawkes appointed Adjutant vice Capt BARMBY.
Marched to MEULTE went into billets.
Battn ordered to march in the direction of FRICOURT with the idea of forming supports to a further attack on the German position in MAMETZ WOOD the following day.
Bivouacked for the night on the BECORDEL – FRICOURT Road.
Took up a position in FRICOURT WOOD after spending some hours waiting for orders in FRICOURT VILLAGE.
7/7/16 to 8/7/16
During the night the Battn moved forward to the advanced trenches to the SW of MAMETZ WOOD relieving the 6th Battn Dorset Regt. A & B Coys in the front line. C & D Coys in RAILWAY ALLEY in Support. Battn HQ in BOTTOM WOOD with A Coy: E Yorkshire Regt on the left. XXXVIII Div on the right.
Bombing attack ordered on QUADRANGLE Support trench at 6am. The 51st Bde co-operating on the left. Artillery at the same time to barrage enemy CTs. This attack was subsequently postponed to 7am.
B Coy began moving up the CT at the hour fixed and advanced about 100 yards. The mud in the trench was over the men’s knees & they soon became very exhausted but continued to move forward up QUADRANGLE ALLEY until held up by machine gun & rifle fire. The 51st Bde were also held up on the left. This attack failed & the Coy withdrew to its former position in QUADRANGLE Trench.
A 2nd attack ordered on QUADRANGLE Support Trench.
The orders for this operation were issued by the Bde as follows:
7th Yorkshire Regt to attack at 5.50pm with 6th Dorset Regt attacking on the left at a different zero hour. The orders were to rush up to junction of QUADRANGLE ALLEY & QUADRANGLE Support & establish necessary stops 30 mins later after further Artillery preparation, to work NW & join hands with 51st Bde working from PEARL ALLEY.
D Coy bombers were sent up for this attack & placed under the orders of Lt. HKC Hare commanding B Coy.
This attack also failed to achieve its object for the same reasons as the 7am attack. The mud in the trenches made a rapid advance absolutely impossible, the enemy machine guns enfilading the line of advance the whole way. Both sides of the CT having been destroyed by our artillery, gave no protection to the attackers.
During the night the Dorset Regt occupied WOOD trench on our right without opposition & held it with one company. Emplacements for Stokes Mortar Guns constructed in QUADRANGLE
A third bombing attack on the junction of QUADRANGLE ALLEY & QUADRANGLE Support Trenches after bombardment lasting 1 hour & 15 minutes failed. The enemy machine guns again holding up the attack from different positions. Stokes Guns unable to participate, ground too soft & muddy to allow suitable emplacements being made.
A night surprise attack suggested with artillery support.
C Coy with Capt AJW BARMBY in command ordered to attack once more the junction of QUADRANGLE ALLEY & QUADRANGLE Support. This attack to be with the bayonet over the open and stops were ordered to be formed in QUADRANGLE ALLEY & WOOD Support. Bombing parties to work down QUADRANGLE Support & join hands with 51st Bde working in the opposite direction. Sappers detailed to make strong point at junction if attack succeeded while C Coy held stops.
Attack again failed partly caused by 51st Bde on the left beginning the assault before C Coy & giving the alarm to the enemy in front. Brigade ordered no further attack to be made. Division however ordered another attempt & then countermanded it. Capt BARMBY wounded & Lt. GD MacINTYRE missing, believed killed.
XXXVIII Div on our right attacked MAMETZ WOOD. Objective line running E & W just S of where WOOD Support joins Wood. 50 Bde ordered to co-operate about 6am & push up QUADRANGLE ALLEY & the railways & get a footing in WOOD Support. The objective of XXXVIII Div altered to “secure all of MAMETZ WOOD”. The Battn did not move during the day but materially assisted the attack on MAMETZ WOOD by directing Lewis & Machine gun fire on strong points held by the enemy especially at a point where WOOD Support trench joins MAMETZ WOOD. The Germans eventually retired from QUADRANGLE ALLEY & WOOD Support trenches, the Battn Lewis Guns & Machine Guns attached to the Battn doing great execution.
The East Yorkshire Regt did not succeed in their attack on WOOD Support Trench.
The Bde was relieved by 21st Div. The Battn handed over to 8th Battn Lincolnshire Regt. Before doing so B Coy sent patrol to QUADRANGLE Support, WOOD Support and Northern part of QUADRANGLE ALLEY & found them all unoccupied by the enemy. Two wounded men of NORTHUMBERLAND Fusiliers found in a dug out & 3 wounded Germans. One of these was brought in.
Total Casualties since the beginning of operations as at present ascertained.
|_<\2. Officers||_<\3. NCOs and Men|
Battn Strength, 26 Officers and 525 NCOs & men. These figures include all men attached to Bde and Div HQ, Trench Mortar batteries, MG Coys & Transport etc. Fighting Strength 19 Officers, OR 412.
Ceremonial parade of the 50th, 51st & 52nd Bdes with trench mortar and machine gun Coys and Field Ambulances. GOC XVII Div Major General Robertson CB distributed the ribbon of the Military Medal which had been awarded to NCOs & men for gallantry in the field during the recent operations.
The Battn was awarded 15 medals out of 35 awarded to the Bde.