Friday, 19 December 2014

No Attack

Saturday 19th December 1914: It seems that the 2nd Battalion has spent another period keyed up for an attack only to have the plan cancelled. Word has reached us that the attack by the 2nd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, expected last night or today, will not now take place and so C Company will not need to assault a German trench which extends some way in front of the enemy front line. Whilst this is, of course, welcome to the men, we feel sympathy for them as they will have spent a sleepless night, many of them wondering if it was to be their last night on earth.

Such little episodes as this, though not even meriting a footnote when the history of this great conflict is penned in years to come, all sap the soldiers’ nerves and strength and will, no doubt, continue to linger in the memory of those involved for some time to come. The battalion remains in the front line trenches today and has received reinforcements to the tune of two officers and six others ranks.

Another instance of the fog of war concerns the 1st Battalion. Half its strength (two companies) is in front line trenches near Wulvergem. Last evening the remaining two companies were ordered up to reinforce the battalion. However, on their arrival they discovered that there was no room for them in the trenches and so they had to march back to their billets in Niewekerke!

Again this morning B Company was ordered to the front line, arriving at 6 am with instructions to, as the adjutant put it to us: “Crowd into the trenches or, failing room, to get any cover available in Wulvergem which, owing to shelling has no complete houses standing”. A reconnaissance will be carried out later with a view to possibly making an attack on the enemy’s front line.

The enemy’s front line, at this point, forms a rough arc around the Bedfords' position. This means that if they advance they will be fired at from three sides. Such murderous fire will likely cause very high casualties.

Sources: X550/3/wd; X550/2/5

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