Remembering the men from the Kingsdown and Creekside Cluster
who gave their lives in the First World War
On the centenary of their death, we remember
Edward James Victor WHITE (of Teynham)
d. 5th September 1918. Aged 20
Lance Sergeant, 593455
London Regiment (1st London Irish Rifles)
(Formerly 2063, 4th Buffs and 18th London Regiment Corporal 6301)
Remembered with Honour
Péronne Communal Cemetery Extension
Plot 5, Row H, Grave 16
Killed in Action
Edward James Victor White was the son of Charles Alfred and Elizabeth Jane (nee Wilson), who lived in Greenstreet, Teynham at the time of Edward's death. But this agricultural labouring family did not originate from this part of Kent. Rather, Edward's antecedents came originally from the area around Saltwood Parish, inland from Folkestone. Edward's mother, on the other hand was born in London. Nevertheless, we can see there was a move towards Canterbury as Edward's only sibling, Rose Millicent, was born in 1905 at Chartham, just south of Canterbury. Rose went on to marry Alfred George Downs (b.1904) in Faversham during 1927. Alfred Downs was a child of Greenstreet, Teynham. In 1911, Alfred Downs is lodging (nephew) at the age of 7 in the family of George Baker. So, the links emerged with the Teynham Memorial.
We find Edward's father still living in Greenstreet in 1926 in a small run of cottages (long-since demolished) immediately west of what is now a fish and chip shop, previously the site of the Teynham Arms at the corner of London Road and Station Road.
We are fortunate in having to hand a fairly detailed newspaper account of the life of Edward in service to his country. The East Kent Gazette of 16th November 1918 contained the following item:-
"A YOUNG GREENSTREET HERO, SERGT. E J V WHITE.
A sad bereavement has befallen Mr. and Mrs. E.J. White, London Regiment, having been killed in action by a shell burst, on September 5th. At the age of Seventeen, in August, 1914, he joined the 2/4th Buffs, and served with that battalion as a transport driver for two years. In August, 1916, he was transferred to the London Irish Rifles. He was promoted lance-corporal for his clever guidance of his company at night when they were relieved in the Ypres salient, and he obtained sergeant’s rank through marked ability, particularly under fire. In the fierce fighting in March last he was one of the few of his Company N.C.O.’s to come through. At the time of his death he was expected home on leave. The young soldier, who was an only son, was 21 years of age.
The sorrowing parents have received eloquent testimony of the regard in which their son was held. Captain G.F.H. Wraight, his Company officer, wrote: ”I knew Sergeant White for two years, and he was such a splendid boy I feel I should like to write to you a few lines. He has always been in the same Company as myself, and as a rifleman and N.C.O. he was always to be relied upon to do his duty thoroughly and well. He was hit in the head on the 6th September, and died instantaneously. We were able to bury his body and erect a cross. He is buried near a village called Moislains, which is also near to another village called Nurlu, not many miles from Péronne I extend you my deepest sympathy in your great loss. Our loss is great too. He was a good soldier and a good friend of mine.”
Lance-Corporal G. Cobb, the deceased “pal,” wrote:- “Ted was a great help and cheer to me. When under heavy shell fire he never showed the slightest sign of fear. There wasn’t another man in the battalion who could compare with him for bravery. . . . . When out of the line on the Arras front we used to attend services and Bible classes at the Y,M,C, whenever possible.. . . . . He was very affectionate. His death is a great loss to his country.”
C.Q.M.S. King also wrote: “We are all extremely sorry to lose a good pal, and deeply sympathise with you in your sad loss.”
In the same edition, this "In Memoriam" item appeared:-
"WHITE. - In ever-loving memory of our only son, Sergeant Edward James Victor White, who was killed by a shell, in France, on September 5, 1918, aged 21 years.
We miss the hand-clasp, miss his loving smile,
Our hearts are broken, yet a little while;
We, too, shall meet within the golden gate,
God help us, God comfort us, while we wait.
Never forgotten by his sorrowing Mum, Dad, and only sister, and dear Olive."
Edward's body was first buried near the scene of his death from shell shrapnel, marked by his comrades with a cross, outside Moislains [Map ref: 62c.D.13d.5.2]. As was quite common, Edward's body was 'concentrated' to the Péronne Communal Cemetery Extension to the south. His final resting place is marked by a stone to which his mother, Elizabeth J White (Greenstreet), paid for an additional inscription:-
HE THAT OVERCOMETH
SHALL INHERIT ETERNAL LIFE
GOD IS LOVE
Edward was posthumously awarded the British War and Victory Medals. His mother, Elizabeth, was his sole beneficiary, receiving his outstanding pay of £11 16s. 8d, and a further War Gratuity of £19 10s. 0d.
Edward enlisted during August 1914 this is consistent with the War Gratuity payment made to his mother after the war. Edward's medal records confirm that Edward began his military life with our County Regiment, Private 2063, 2/4th Battalion the Buffs (East Kent Regiment) - he was a driver at the Home Front. Later, he was promoted Lance Corporal and Corporal 6301, posted into 1/18th London Regiment before appointment as "Lance Sergeant", and finally promotion to full Sergeant, 593455. Clearly he was a very able leader of men. It was with the London Regiment that he served overseas.
He joined his Battalion in France from August 1916 when they had moved to Gapennes, north-east of Abbeville where they undertook extensive training in "Attack on Enemy Front Line" as well as "Rear Guard Actions". It wasn't until 11th September that the Battalion moved into Support and (14th September) the Front Line, at High Wood, close to Albert. The next day, they took part in a doomed early morning attack - "There was no barrage it being apparently hoped that the 3 tanks attacking through the wood would keep down the machine gun fire, this they entirely failed to do, and in consequence the first attack was held up and there were heavy casualties from machine gun fire. Lt.Col. A.P. Hamilton of the 19th Battalion immediately organized a number of men and attempted a rush but was killed together with every man who went over with him." This debacle would be Edward's introduction to trench warfare.
During 1916 the Battalion was active in Battles of the Somme. In 1917, the Battalion took part in the Battle of Messines, Battles of Ypres, and the Battle of Cambrai. This takes his story into 1918 when the Battalion faced the German Spring Offensive in the First Battles of the Somme - the Battle of St. Quentin, Battle of Bapaume, and Battle of The Ancre. Thereafter, the German momentum ebbed through exhaustion and heavy casualties.
With this realisation, the Allies came to a renewed belief that they might prevail after all. We pick up the War Diary accounts from 22nd August and the Second Battles of the Somme - Battle of Albert and Second Battle of Bapaume (31st August). This was the second phase of the Allied 100-day Offensive against the weakened German Army.
Edward's Battalion then joined in with an ultimately successful attack. An overview of the Allied attack from 21st/22nd August through to 6th September can be read below in Additional Documents - a Society transcription of a Report by 141st Infantry Brigade. Note that the report refers to "1st Irish Rifles" rather than 1/18th Battalion.
The 1/18th Battalion London Regiment War Diary gives a perspective closer to the experience of Edward and his comrades.
Edward is reported as a victim of sniper fire (elsewhere recorded as shell fragments) on 5th September, but before then he was in the thick of an important wide-front attack on German positions from 21st/22nd August. Indeed, his death was inflicted after the most active phases of the battle were over.
21st August: IN SUPPORT: Battalion situated as for last night. Enemy Artillery reached all ground with short bursts, but caused no casualties. Preparations for attack by 47th Division in conjunction with 12th Division on our left and an Australian Division on the Right. The 141 Infantry Brigade attacking on the 47th Divisional front; 19th Londons on left, 20th Londons on right; 1st London Irish Rifles in Support. The Battalion moved forward to the assembly position at 2 a.m. 22nd inst. Battalion H.Q. moving forward at the same time. Left Company H.Q. Left Battalion about K.11.b.8.7. The assembly was made under continuous and very heavy shell fire from the enemy, who, it was afterwards discovered, had been warned of the attack. Casualties during assembly 1 Officer, 2/Lt MACKENZIE wounded and about 25 O.R.s killed and wounded.
The Battalion moved forward to the attack at ZERO, 4.30 a.m. following 500 yards in rear of the leading Battalions. The enemy put down a very heavy gas and H.E. barrage on the Old British Line at ZERO and for two hours following. The attack progressed favourably and the objectives (marked in blue Map A) where all gained by 7 a.m.
The Left Company Left Battalion lost all its officers, and their men wavered. Lieut. C.R.O. VINCENT then moved forward, took command, and led them to their objective, and remained there. Battalion H.Q. moved forward with 142 Infantry Brigade at 5.25 a.m. Tanks of the Brigade lost direction badly.
7 a.m.: Happy Valley was mopped up by 3 Platoons captured 3 officers (including Battalion Commander) and 103 O.R.s. On completion of this the Platoon withdrew and filled a gap which had been left between 12th Division and 19th London.
4 p.m.: At 4 p.m. the enemy heavily shelled the 142nd Infantry Brigade and then attacked driving them back. Some considerable numbers withdrew through the front line to the support positions; these men were collected by Battalion H.Q. and were aligned West of BROWN LINE. Many gaps in BROWN LINE, but secure . Three Platoons 1st London Irish Rifles, with oddments from 142 Infantry Brigade, and 12th Division now pushed in and held BROWN LINE as far as FORKED TREE.
5.30 p.m.: Enemy back in HAPPY VALLEY. BROWN LINE of consolidation held. In touch with 12th Division, gap on Right of FORKED TREE.
9 p.m.: Conference of C.O.s, afterwards C.O.s L.I.R. and 17th London reconnoitred and found enemy still East of BRAY-MEAULTE ROAD an our line running South of same from PEAR TREE.
22/23rd, midnight: Battalions 140 Infantry Brigade and 20th Battalion formed front line. 17th Battalion Left, 20th Battalion Centre, 15th Battalion. Right. L.I.R. withdrawn to own positions in support.
23rd August: 10.45 a.m.: Right of 17th Battalion swing back across L.I.R. and to their rear, thus placing Right and Centre L.I.R. in front line. 17th Battalion had however just been ordered to push up.
Enemy establishing M.G. and rifle posts on BRAY-MEAULTE ROAD. Lieut VINCENT and one Platoon of “D” Company, who were forward of the BRAY-MEAULTE ROAD, with portion of 19th Battalion earlier in the day, then withdrew West of main road.
Enemy artillery continued very active all through the day on line of main road. During the evening orders were received that the 141 Infantry Brigade was to make good the line of the main road to enable the 140 infantry Brigade to form up for their attack on the GREEN LINE This operation was [carried] out by 50 O.R.s per Company at 10 p.m. and was entirely successful, resulting in the capture of 2 officers and 65 O.R.s and 7 Machine Guns. The Battalion remained on this line and consolidated.
The 140 Infantry Brigade passed through the Brigade to attack the GREEN LINE at 1 a.m., 24th inst. All objectives were gained, but very heavy shell-fire caused elements of the 140 Brigade to withdraw. These men were however collected by the L.I.R. and taken forward to their original position.
The enemy continued to shell our positions very heavily. The Battalion remained in the same position on the BROWN LINE all day.
25th August: The 58th Division confirmed the attack beyond the GREEN LINE at 2.30 a.m. Enemy found to have retired leaving pockets of Machine Guns to hold up our advance. Battalion moved at dawn to position East of BRAY-MEAULTE ROAD from F.27.b.2.9 – F.20.d.1.5 (62D N.E.). The 141 Infantry Brigade after being under orders of G.O.C. 47th Division which Division then became Division in Corps Reserve. Battalion H.Q. in an old German Regimental H.Q. and Battalion in old German Shelters. For the remainder of the day the Battalion rested, whilst the Band collected salvage and buried the dead. The Cookers, L.G. Limbers and riding horses joined the Battalion in this area, having lines in HAPPY VALLEY.
Casualties from August 22nd to date: Officers wounded 7, being Lieut-Colonel G.H. NEELY, M.C. (at duty), 2/Lt A.F. MACKENZIE, 2/Lt L.A. MANN, 2/Lt. E. MICHAEL, D.C.M., 2/Lt R.D. VERNON, Lieut. O.R.C. VINCENT, M.C., 2/Lt. A.H. FARRANT (gassed). O.R.s killed and wounded 204.
The G.O.C. Division and the Brigade Commander visited the Battalion during the day and congratulated the Commanding Officer on the success of the Battalion during the previous day’s fighting.
26th August: Battalion in same position. Slight shelling of HAPPY VALLEY during the day. 2/Lts. HILL< SIMPSON and HAMMOND joined the Battalion. Lieut MACDONALD reported to the Transport Line.
27th August: Battalion in same position. Still slight shelling, principally in direction of the COPSE. All Machine Guns captured from the enemy now cleared from forward dump and sent down to trophy park. Total: 63 Light and Heavy Machine Guns and 6 Trench Mortars, also a few anti-Tank Rifles. The C.O. inspected Companies during the morning, the remainder of the day being spent in reorganisation, and refitting by shoemakers and tailors.
The Battalion proceeded by Companies, in the afternoon, to the SOMME at BRAY to bathe. During the night the Platoons from MOLLIENS-AU-BOIS rejoining the Battalion, and about 15 men per Company and H.Q. were sent back to the Transport lines, as Battle Surplus, for a rest.
28th August: LT. KEANE rejoined the Battalion and relieved the adjutant Capt. T.F.G. CARLESS for a rest. The C.O. and Adjutant proceeded to the Transport Lines at MERICOURT L’ABBE, calling at Brigade H.Q. on the way. On arrival a systematic sorting out of all men was carried out, and a party of 42 men was immediately immediately sent up to join the Battalion. The C.O. returned to the Battalion about 6 p.m., the Adjutant remaining for the night. Capt. CURLING and 2/Lt MARTIN rejoined the Battalion, and Lieut. RICKS went sick (gassed).
29th August: FAVIERE WOOD: The Battalion moved from the GREEN LINE to FAVIERE WOOD in the evening, stopping at CARNOY on the way for teas. Orders were suddenly received in the morning for the Transport lines to move to a position ½ mile North of MAMETZ, move to start at 2 p.m. at 1.30 p.m. a draft of 200 O.R.s arrived. They were roughly posted to Companies, 50 to each Company, a Sergeant from the Battle Surplus taking charge of each Company’s draft, Lieut MACDONALD taking charge of the whole. Having had teas this draft followed the Transport which had already moved to MAMETZ. The Adjutant riding on ahead found out location of Battalion and moved forward in the evening via MARICOURT with the rations to join it again. A quiet night was spent in an Artillery H.Q. in the wood.
August 30th: At 6.50 a.m. orders were received for a move at once, as the 47th Division were to move forward through the 12th Division, the 142 Infantry Brigade forming the advanced guard, the 141 Infantry Brigade being in support. The Battalion moved across country in artillery formation A-C, D-B and took up a position N.E. of MAUREPAS, Battalion H.Q. and A Echelon Transport being in the MAUREPAS RAVINE. This position was reached about 8.45 a.m. At 1 p.m. orders were received for 141 Infantry Brigade to move forward towards HOSPITAL FARM to fill gap which existed there between 142 Infantry Brigade and 58th Division. The Brigade moved about 2 p.m. as follows:- 20th Battalion in Front, L.I.R. in support, 19th Battalion in Reserve. The Battalion moved in artillery formation, “C” Company on Right, “A” Company on left, “B” Company in Support, through LE FOREST and took up a position at 4.10 p.m. S.W of HOSPITAL FARM, with “A” Company in HOSPTIAL FARM. The Battalion came under very heavy fire from 5.9’s, firing with open sights from the direction of ARDERLU WOOD, as they came down the slopes of MAUREPAS ridge to LE FOREST. There was however no wavering, and on account of this the casualties were very small. On arrival at the position it was found that the gap had already been filled by the 4th Suffolks, Pioneer Battalion, 58th Division at 6.30 p.m. orders were received for the Brigade to sideslip to the North, taking up a position S. of ARDERLU WOOD and in rear of the 142 Infantry Brigade. These orders were however cancelled shortly after, and new orders received to continue the attack in the morning 31st at 5.30 a.m. in conjunction with the 142 Infantry Brigade on the left and 58th Division on the Right, the objective being the line of the RANCOURT-BOUCHAVESNES ROAD. The 1st L.I.R. to be Left Battalion, 20th Battalion Right Battalion, 19th Battalion in Support. The Battalion formed up at ZERO – hour on a line running N. and S. about 200 yards West of HOSPITAL FARM. “A” Company on Left, “C” Company on Right, with “D” Company Left Support, “B” Company Right Support. A gap of about 1,000 yards had been purposely left 142 Brigade and 141 Brigade. This gap was supposed to be covered by M.G. fire, but this the M.G.s failed to do. The Battalion gained their objective but lost heavily in doing so, 60% of the casualties however being caused by our own barrage, which was very short.
11 a.m.: The evening shelling was very heavy all the morning and at 11 a.m. the enemy counter-attacked, and, although stopped in front, succeeded in effecting a lodgement in the gap between the 142 Infantry Brigade and our left. A Company of the 19th Battalion led by Lt. T.I. JONES, M.M., and O.C. Company, counter-attacked successfully, drove out the enemy and captured 25 prisoners. Heavy shell and M.G. fire continued all day and caused heavy casualties.
5 p.m.: At 5 p.m. posts had been established on the RANCOURT-BOUCHAVESNES ROAD, but owing to RANCOURT still being uncaptured by the 142 Brigade, sniping and M.G. fire continued active. The enemy continued to push in all the afternoon and evening on the left of the Battalion, and counter attacked 4 times in all. The Battalion was relieved during the night by the 19th Battalion London Regiment, and withdrew to NEEDLE WOOD to reorganise.
1st September: On the morning of the 1st the Battalion attacked in support to the 19th and 20th Battalions and reached its objective 600 yards short of ST. PIERRE VAAST – MOISLAINS WOODS. That night we were ordered to relieve the Civil Service Rifles who held the left of the Divisional Front. We did so with a draft of 200 recruits who came up that night.
2nd September: On the morning of the 2nd we took advantage of an attack proceeding on our right to mop up a pocket that had been left by the 21st Battalion in AMAZON and AMULET trenches. During this operation we captured 2 officers and 65 other ranks and drove a party of about the same strength into the 142 Brigade lines, where they surrendered. On the night of the 2nd we were relieved by Companies of the Machine Gunners and moved back to HOSPITAL FARM.
3rd September: At HOSPITAL FARM. Resting and reorganising.
4th September: At HOSPITAL FARM. Resting and reorganising. On the evening of the 4th we moved forward to ALF CUT just east of the BOUCHAVESNES – RANCOURT Road.
5th September: On the morning of the 5th, the Battalion advanced behind the 19th and 20th Battalions across the CANAL DU NORD just north of MOISLAINS under heavy shell fire and advanced between the QUARRY west of the PERONNE-NURLU Road. The leading Battalions were held up 600 yards short of their objective where we joined them. The attack was resumed at 1 p.m. The Right half of the 20th Battalion and the Left half of the 19th Battalion failed to attack. Our objective was the QUARRY. As it was impossible to mop up the QUARRY unless the lines of the Main Road were captured and made good. Two Companies were pushed through the 19th & 20th Battalions. The remaining two Companies mopped up the QUARRY.
6th September: On the morning of the 6th, the 19th and 20th Battalions were ordered to capture the line of trenches 800 yards east of the PERONNE – NURLU Road by 8 a.m. Reported to Brigade H.Q. that they had done so, whereupon the London Irish were to receive orders to push through them, capture the village of LIERAMONT and establish a line running North and South 600 yards East of LIERAMONT. The 12th Division on the left and the 1/4th Division on the Right were to conform to the Advance of the 47th Division. At 8.10 a.m. the 19th and 20th Battalions were still held on the PERONNE – NURLU Road by some Machine Gunners. A patrol of the London Irish advanced on the right flank of the 19th Battalion across the road. Shot half the enemy gunners and captured the remainder, and the advance was then resumed by the 19th & 20th Battalions. The London Irish following immediately behind pushed through them and advanced on LIERMONT. The 1/4th Division on the Right did not move forward from EPINETTE WOOD till 11.30 a.m. and the 12th Division on the Left debouched from the village of NURLU at 1.47 p.m. We captured the village of LIERAMONT and reached our objective 600 yards East of the village at 1.12 p.m. The Battalion was relieved from this position the same night by units of the 58th Division. On completion of relief the Battalion moved back to huts East of MOISLAINS where Battalion was met by cookers etc.
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NARRATIVE OF EVENTS
OPERATIONS ON BRAY – MEAULTE FRONT DURING PERIOD
AUGUST 22ND TO SEPTEMBER 6TH, 1918
Detailed account of the operations carried out by the 141st Infantry Brigade during the period 22nd August to 6th September 1918.
After short preliminary training over a taped course South of HEILLY the 141st Infantry Brigade took over the 47th Divisional Front on the night 20/21st August. Brigade Headquarters was established in MINEN COPSE K.25.d.9.1. for night 20/21st. On 21st August 141st Brigade Battle Headquarters was established at K.14.b.2.1.
During night 21/22nd August, hostile artillery carried out active harassing fire on front and back areas from 10.0 p.m. onwards (largely 4.2’s and Blue Cross Gas).
The 141st Infantry Brigade attacked at dawn on 22nd August with 20th Londons on Right, 19th Londons on Left and 1st London Irish Rifles in Support.
At 4.45 a.m. (Zero hour) our barrage opened promptly and the troops quickly closed up to the barrage from their assembly positions. The hostile artillery barrage came down on our front line and TAILLES WOOD (K.12) almost immediately. German prisoners stated they had been warned of impending attack by English prisoners. Hence the prompt barrage.
Enemy retaliation was very heavy on the Eastern side of TAILLES WOOD at 5.5 a.m., but decreased slightly at 5.15 a.m.
At 5.30 a.m. a report was received from 1st London Irish Rifles that satisfactory progress was being made and the 19th Londons reported that their left Company had penetrated 1000 yards into enemy line. Information was received at 5.40 a.m. that our Infantry were in vicinity of F.26.a. The enemy retaliation had appreciably slackened. At 6.45 a.m. our troops had captured STRAGGLY TREE and at 7.0 a.m. the 141st Infantry Brigade had captured the First Objective (BROWN LINE).
At 8.30 a.m. information was received that our cavalry had attempted to go East of HAPPY VALLEY but met with heavy opposition from Machine guns on Hill S.E. of Valley and artillery fire which forced them to withdraw. Our troops were consolidating the First Objective. 141st Brigade Headquarters was advanced to K.17.a.4.6.
The situation forward of HAPPY VALLEY appeared rather obscure at 9 a.m.
At 10.25 a.m. a report was received that the GREEN LINE had been captured after heavy fighting. Cavalry and Whippets passed through GREEN LINE but were obliged to withdraw.
At 11.5 a.m. the situation became much quieter but at 12.15 p.m. the enemy shelled the BROWN LINE very heavily, and the work of consolidation was difficult. A few Germans were reported to be holding out in the North end of HAPPY VALLEY. Orders were issued for 1st London Irish Rifles to clear up HAPPY VALLEY. Battalions were instructed to consolidate captured positions in accordance with instructions issued from Division.
Advanced Brigade Headquarters were established at K.12.b.5.2. Enemy shelled area very heavily during afternoon.
At 4.50 p.m. 9th Australian Brigade (Brigade on Right) reported situation all quiet.
At 5.0 p.m. information was received that Germans had broken through 142nd Infantry Brigade and the Brigadier ordered Brigade Intelligence Officer to go forward and reconnoitre. At 5.30 p.m. Lt. Col. T.O. BURY, 1/20th Battalion London Regiment reported to G.O.C. and stated he had seen troops falling back on his right. He was instructed to maintain connection with the Australians on his right and if necessary form a defensive flank on the left. At 6.0 p.m. Artillery were asked to put down barrage East of BROWN LINE.
At 6.30 p.m. our troops were reported falling back on left of BROWN LINE, North of FORKED TREE. G.O.C. 140th Infantry Brigade assumes Command of all troops in Divisional front.
At 6.45 p.m. Division were asked to put barrage down on line K.25.b.3.7. – L.9.b.1.6. Enemy were reported to be massing in HAPPY VALLEY.
At 6.55 p.m. message received from 20th Londons stating that Germans appeared to hold high ground North of FORKED TREE.
At 7.12 p.m. 1st London Irish Rifles reported gaps in BROWN LINE between 12th and 47th Divisions which were being filled by 1st London Irish Rifles and Cambridgeshire Regiments BROWN LINE holding, but enemy still pushing forward towards BRAY-MEAULTE Road.
At 7.45 p.m. orders received for G.O.C. 141st Infantry Brigade to return to Brigade Headquarters at K.17.a.4.6.
Brigade Headquarters established at K.17.a.4.6. at 9 p.m.
During night 22/23rd the Divisional Front was re-organised as follows:-
140th Infantry Brigade Left Subsector
141st Infantry Brigade Right Subsector
142nd Infantry Brigade Support Area S.W. of MORLANCOURT.
175th Infantry Brigade (58th Division) placed at disposal of 47th Divisional.
Orders were received from 47th Division that 141st Infantry Brigade was under orders of 58th Division.
Orders were received from the 47th Division that the attack would be continued on morning of 24th. The attack was to be carried out by the 140th Infantry Brigade on the Left, 175th Infantry Brigade (58th Division) on the Right and 173rd Brigade were available to exploit the operation should it be successful.
18th and 20th Battalions of 141st Infantry Brigade were ordered to establish a line of posts 100 yards West of BRAY – ALBERT Road in order to cover the assembly of assaulting troops
This operation was successfully carried out before midnight and 4 Machine Guns, 2 Officers and 50 O.R.s were captured. A good jumping off position was thus obtained with little loss and the assaulting troops assembled without difficulty.
The object of the assault was to completely secure the BROWN LINE, and to push forward and regain the GREEN LINE, the previous final objective. The 140th Infantry Brigade on Left and 175th Infantry Brigade on Right were assaulting Brigades on the Divisional Front, Zero hour being at 1.0 a.m. 2 Sections of Tanks were allotted for mopping up after dawn, and also to assist in case of counter-attack. 141st Infantry Brigade having covered a “Jump off” were to consolidate the BROWN LINE and hold it in support of the GREEN LINE.
The Right Brigade forced the Germans into TRIGGER and BRONFAY WOODS. The Left Brigade was punished by enfilade Machine Gun fire from the 12th Divisional Front - the 37th Brigade being short of their objective. The 140th Brigade was therefore forced to form a defensive flank, facing North, the 141st Brigade received instructions to hold the BROWN LINE in the Divisional Area, their Right flank being at FORKED TREE. Hostile artillery and minenwerfer were not troublesome before about 9.0 a.m.
On the evening of the 24th the 141st Infantry Brigade went into Corps Reserve, being relieved by 175th Infantry Brigade (58th Division) but remained in readiness to take part in the pursuit of the enemy who had now commenced to retreat.
On August 28th the 47th Division took over the front of the 12th Division. 141st Infantry Brigade relieved 36th Infantry Brigade (12th Division) on the HARDECOURT – MALTZ HORN FARM Line and was under the orders of 47th Division (G.M. 504 dated 29th).
The Brigade was disposed in the neighbourhood of CARNOY, Headquarters A.8.c.2.5.
142nd Infantry Brigade Group formed the Advanced Guard of the 47th Division.
Orders were issued to the Brigade to follow 142nd Infantry Brigade, 20th Londons on Right, 1st London Irish Rifles on Left and 19th Londons in Reserve.
Brigade Headquarters was established at A.4.b.5.3. at 6.10 a.m. on 30th instant and then advanced to B.8.b.3.3. at 7.5 a.m. Close touch was maintained with 142nd Infantry Brigade and the Brigade was finally concentrated in the neighbourhood of MAUREPAS.
Owing to the position of the 58th Division reported to be obscure the 141st Infantry Brigade was ordered to push forward with left flank on then Southern Divisional Boundary. The advance was made in bounds; 20th Londons was detailed as leading Battalion, the remaining Battalions followed up.
The Brigade reached final objective with little difficulty, but found units of the 58th Division already in position on the final objective.
Dispositions of the Brigade were as follows:-
20th Londons in trenches South of HILL 150.
1st London Irish Rifles trenches in B.17.c.& d.
19th Londons trenches South of LA FOREST.
Report was received from 47th Division timed 8.15 a.m. that the Advanced Guard had passed through 12th Division at 6 a.m., HOSPITAL FARM captured and our troops on HILL 150 (B.18.b).
A report was received from 47th Division at 1.30 p.m. that 18th Division’s Right was in RANCOURT, 142nd Infantry Brigade along road in C.7.a. & c. and HILL 150. 142nd Infantry Brigade was ordered to push forward to the main RANCOURT – BOUCHAVESNES Road and obtain touch with 18th Division in RANCOURT.
141st Infantry Brigade was ordered to move up on Right of 142nd Infantry Brigade and to be prepared to advance in N.E. direction in conjunction with 142nd Infantry Brigade on Left and 58th Division and Australian Division on Right.
Southern Boundary of 3rd Corps ran as follows – B.27.central – C.19.central – C.14.central – C.9.a.8.0. – C.3.b.5.0.
Australians were reported to have reached line C.9.a.0.3. – C.25.central and 58th Division at B.17.central and B.23.central at 11.30 a.m.
A report was received from 3rd Australian Division, through 47th Division, timed 1.0 p.m. that squares B.18., B.23. and B.24. were clear of enemy.
An order was received from 47th Division (G.M.4) – On arrival on line B.18.b.5.0. – B.18.d.2.0. 141st Infantry Brigade will push forward together with 142nd Infantry Brigade on the Left to the Spur C.13.b.central – C.7.d.central. 141st Infantry Brigade will be prepared to act as Advanced Guard Brigade tomorrow August 31st and will be assembled on the line HILL 150 – B.6.central night 30/31st August. 18th Division intend to gain a footing today in ST. PIERRE VAAST WOOD.
Orders were issued to Units of 141st Infantry Brigade to relieve front of 142nd Infantry Brigade from Southern Divisional Boundary to B.18.b.5.0. – B.12.c.9.6. 141st Infantry Brigade were given orders to carry out an attack at 5.30 a.m. on August 31st in conjunction with 142nd Infantry Brigade on Left and 58th Division on Right. Objective was the high ground immediately West of the RANCOURT – BOUCHAVESNES Road. The attack was carried out most satisfactorily, NEEDLE WOOD was reached by the 19th Londons at 6.7 a.m. and the 1st London Irish Rifles reported final objective captured and patrols pushing forward to RANCOURT-BOUCHAVESNES Road. A considerable number of prisoners were captured, Officers and Other Ranks. Some of these were collected by the 58th Division.
Orders were issued by Brigade for consolidation of objective and to conform if necessary with any advances made by 58th Division and Australians on Right flank.
A report was received at 11.15 a.m. from Brigade Observers that a large body of Germans could be seen advancing from RANCOURT. Information was received at 12 noon that 1st London Irish Rifles were being attacked on their Left flank. Orders were issued by Brigade for line to be held at all costs. The counter-attack was repulsed and on the left Germans attacking up Valley were successfully met by a Company of the 19th Londons and prisoners of 159th Regiment were captured. Line remained intact.
Orders were issued for the resumption of the attack by 141st Infantry Brigade at 5.30 a.m. on September 1st. Objective was the West edge of ST. PIERRE VAAST WOOD. 20th Londons attacked on the Right, 19th Londons on the Left and 1st London Irish Rifles in Support.
The attack was successful and many prisoners were captured, identifications from 53rd Regiment and 16th Regiment were obtained. Report was received from 1st London Irish Rifles that the Left flank of the Brigade was being held up by M.G. fire and that troops were unable to keep up with barrage. A gap was located on front of attack on left of AGILE AVENUE about C.9.a. between 140th Infantry Brigade and 141st Infantry Brigade. The 141st Infantry Brigade was then too weak to fill the gap without assistance, but 140th Infantry Brigade reinforced their Right flank. Pressure was exerted on both flanks and the enemy was prevented from expanding his advantages.
Considerable sniping and M.G. fire was experienced from the Right flank but this subsided as soon as 59th Division came up level.
The final objective was reached after considerable opposition but on the Left flank there remained a gap between 140th and 141st Infantry Brigades where the enemy held a post of several M.G.’s.
Instructions were issued by Brigade for 19th Londons to build up a defensive flank on their Left and utilise Stokes Mortars if possible against enemy posts in C.9.a.
The 141st Infantry Brigade took over the whole of the divisional Front on the night of 1/2nd September from U.26.d.5.0. – C.10.d.5.0. 2 Companies 2nd Life Guards M/G/ Battalion and 2 Companies 47th M.G. Battalion were attached to 141st Infantry Brigade for the defence of the line. The necessary re-adjustment was carried out without difficulty.
The attack was resumed on September 2nd on whole Corps front at 5.30 a.m., 18th Division on Left advancing along Ridge from SAILLISEL and the objective of 74th Division and Australians being NURLU on Right. The 47th Division attacked in the centre with 142nd Infantry Brigade which passed through the Right of 141st Infantry Brigade, 140th Infantry Brigade followed in close Support of 74th Division.
During this operation 1st London Irish Rifles successfully cleared up gap in C.9.a. capturing 60 prisoners and putting the remainder to flight. These were subsequently captured in ST. PIERRE VAAST WOOD.
141st Infantry Brigade was ordered to withdraw from Front Line taken over night 1/2nd September and re-organise West of the main RANCOURT – PERONNE Road, the line being held by the M.G.’s already in position. The withdrawal was carried out successfully during the afternoon of 2nd instant.
74th Division were counter-attacked and driven back to West side of MOISLAINS. 140th and 142nd Infantry Brigades held SORROWITZ TRENCH with defensive flank along South edge of ST. PIERRE VAAST WOOD.
The Divisional Front was re-organised on night 2/3rd September.
Southern Divisional Boundary was an East and West Grid line through C.11.d.0.0. 140th Infantry Brigade was relieved by 74th Division and 142nd Infantry Brigade; 142nd was ordered to hold the whole of Divisional Front.
18th Division were to continue the attack at 5.30 a.m. 3rd September and join up with 142nd Infantry Brigade at U.29.c.7.0. The 142nd Infantry Brigade were to clear up situation in LINK AVENUE.
Information was received from 47th Division that there was a decided strengthening of front opposite Corps and that the 232nd Division and 2nd Guards Division would probably be relieved tonight.
Evidence from prisoners showed that as a result of operations yesterday East of ARRAS a large retirement was contemplated by the enemy and that the enemy was retiring on the front of 18th Division who were reported in U.23.central and advancing through VAUX WOOD towards TURTILE River.
141st Infantry Brigade Group was ordered to be prepared to act as Advanced Guard on 4th September.
Orders were received from the 47th Division that 18th Division would take over the front of the 142nd Infantry Brigade as far South as East and West Grid line through C.6.d.0.0. on night 3/4th. The 141st Infantry Brigade would take over the remainder of front of 142nd Infantry Brigade and in addition the front of 74th Division as far South as East and West Grid line through C.17.d.0.0. on night 4/5th September.
It was reported that the enemy held the NURLU – TEMPLEUX – LA FOSSE Line in strength and instructions were received that the Fourth Army would deliver an attack along the whole front probably on 6th September.
Air reports at 12 noon stated that no signs of enemy occupation appeared in NURLU – TEMPLEUX – LA FOSSE Line and 18th Division had pushed patrols forward and were now working through RIVERSIDE WOOD having encountered no enemy.
Air report 1.30 a.m. stated no enemy West of the line V.14.central – V.20.central – V.25.central – J.1.a.0.0. and our patrols were at V.14.c.0.2. – V.20.a. – S.7.c., MOISLAINS was reported entirely clear of the enemy 5.20 p.m.
Orders were received from the 47th Division that the relief of 74th Division by 141st Infantry Brigade on night 4/5th September was cancelled. 141st Infantry Brigade was to act as Advanced Guard on 5th September and would pass through 142nd Infantry Brigade in the foremost positions occupied by them.
141st Infantry Brigade Headquarters moved to QUARRY at C.20.b. at 8.0 p.m. on night 4/5th September. The Brigade staged for the night 4/5th September as follows, 19th Londons square c.15., 20th Londons square C.9., 1st London Irish Rifles square C.8.
The enemy resistance East of MOISLAINS was reported to have considerably increased at dusk on night 4/5th September necessitating withdrawal of Advanced Posts of 142nd Infantry Brigade to allow of enemy being dealt with by Artillery. The 141st Infantry Brigade moved up to assembly positions along the CANAL Du NORD and passed through the 142nd Infantry Brigade under a barrage at dawn on 5th September. 1st Objective was the line D.9.a.3.4. – D.8.d.5.0. – D.20.b.6.5., 2nd Objective line D.10.b.5.4. – D.16.b.6.0. – D.23.a.2.2.
Troops were ordered to avoid the village. 74th Division, and 12th Division were to co-operate on either flank.
The attack was successfully launched and at 7.30 a.m. the 19th Londons reported holding the line D.19.a.1.6. – D.13.b.5.8. but out of touch on either flank, owing to the delay in the advance of 74th Division on Right the 19th Londons were forced to bring back their Right flank to conform. 20th Londons reached SIGNAL COPSE but were held up West of the QUARRY in D.14.b. and trenches D.8.b. & c.
141st Infantry Brigade was ordered to make good the NURLU positions between D.10.central and D.23.central and patrols pushed out to keep touch with the enemy. 140th Infantry Brigade was ordered to move forward in a S.E. direction to D.20.b. and D.21.a. to safeguard Right flank and set free 19th Londons. The 74th Division reported Suffolks to be at 3.50 p.m. in J.1.b.8.8. to D.25.d.9.4.
Orders were received from 47th Division that the advance would be continued under a barrage at 7.0 p.m. on 6th September, 141st Infantry Brigade to attack on the Left, 140th Infantry Brigade on the Right. Objective trench running N. and S. through D.9.b. & d. and D.15.a. to main road at D.15.a.9.2. thence S.W. along the main road.
141st Infantry Brigade attacked in a N.E. direction between SIGNAL COPSE and QUARRIES with 19th Londons on Right, 20th Londons on Left and 1st London Irish Rifles in Support. 12th Londons on Left and 1st London Irish Rifles in Support. 12th Division attacked NURLU at the same hour having failed to capture it during morning operations. The objective was successfully captured and the Brigade was ordered to push forward to 2nd Objective D.10.b. & d. – D.16.d. & a. so as to reach that line by 8 a.m. on the 6th September. 140th Infantry Brigade were to carry out a similar operation on the Right flank. On the morning of the 6th the Right of 141st was held up by Machine Guns on the NURLU-PERONNE Road but these were successfully dealt with by the 1st London Irish Rifles, and the enemy’s resistance then became weaker and the Brigade pushed Eastward with 140th Brigade on Right and 12th Division on Left to LIERAMONT which they captured and consolidated.
The 141st Infantry Brigade was relieved by the 175th Infantry Brigade (58th Division) on night September 6/7th and was withdrawn to D.13.
During the operations the 141st Infantry Brigade captured several hundred prisoners and a large number of Machine Guns and Trench Mortars.
[Review] "The preliminary training was necessarily limited owing to the very short time available but the best use was made of the time at disposal and much benefit accrued notwithstanding the brief exercises.
The work of the Brigade was on the whole very good. Many difficult and arduous operations were carried out successfully by very young soldiers who had not hitherto delivered an assault or worked under a barrage.
Enemy Machine Gun nests caused much loss at first but as the operations progressed the troops taught by experience began to deal with them in an effective manner and losses were less in consequence.
Troops numerically weak advancing on a broad front are apt to get scattered and become especially vulnerable to counter-attack and even when the objective has been reached it may not be possible to consolidate in the full sense of the word.
The line will probably have to be held by posts and unless these posts are well placed tactically and command exercised by unit Commanders, regrettable incidents may occur.
Battalion Commanders must seize the first opportunity to reorganize and satisfy themselves that posts are so placed as to be effective and that Machine Guns attached to units are utilized to the fullest extent to cover gaps and bring fire to bear on hostile attacking troops.
The work of attached Tanks was not very good. Tanks were worn out and little assistance was rendered to the infantry.
Communication is not yet satisfactory from Companies to Battalion and thence to Brigade. Steps are being taken to improve matters.
In the later operations improvement was noticeable.
Wireless will be increasingly useful as units realize its value. It is essential that Battalions have a qualified Signalling Officer who must be held responsible for the communications of his Battalion.
It was undoubtedly an advantage to have the Headquarters of forward Brigades and Battalions in close proximity.
The work of the Machine Gun Company was very good and an immense improvement. Sections going forward with the Infantry were exceedingly useful and when Battalion Commanders fully realise how important the co-operation of the Machine Guns is to the Infantry much better results will be obtained.
In the later stages of the operations the Field Artillery moved up in close support to attacking Infantry and much good work was done. Complete liaison was not established however, due t shortage of Officers and lack of means of communication between Infantry and their supporting Batteries.
Troops of Divisions on the flanks were not always in the position they were supposed to be and again Brigades of the 47th Division had to work with exposed flanks thus incurring unnecessary loss and delay.
The question of barrage is a difficult one. When carefully worked out barrages were very good, on at least one occasion serious loss was caused by the short firing of a Field Battery which should not have occurred. Later when Batteries were distributed the barrage was very thin and ineffective and it is a matter for consideration as to whether creeping barrages are not overdone at times.
Certain troublesome points were effectively dealt with by Heavy Artillery and Infantry enabled to advance with little loss in consequence.
The absolute necessity of training the smaller units tactically to deal with German offensive and defensive methods was most noticeable and the need of sound Musketry training again demonstrated.
Stokes Mortars were detailed to follow in close support of attacking troops and were usefully employed on several occasions.
During the whole period of the operations Rations and S.A.A. were sent up to the troops without a hitch and no difficulty was experienced in supplying the troops.
The Brigade was constantly employed often in very difficult circumstances and losses were severe in consequence.
Statement of casualties of the Brigade during the operations is attached.
Brigadier General, Commanding 141st Infantry Brigade.
18th September 1918
Headquarters, 47th (London) Division
Complete statement of casualties from 21st August to 14th/15th September.
|Killed||Died of Wounds||Wounded||Wounded (Gas)||Wounded at Duty||Missing||Missing
|18th Lond. Regt||3||62||-||7||14||399||-||38||2||5||-||33||-||-|
|19th Lond. Regt||5||95||3||21||22||428||-||3||-||-||1||57||1||-|
|20th Lond. Regt||12||60||1||15||7||380||-||2||1||1||-||5||-||5|
|141st T.M. Bty||-||1||-||-||-||3||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|