Saturday 27 May 2017

Exciting Patrol by 6th Battalion

Sunday 27th May 1917

The 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment are currently in the front line near Guémappe, south-east of Arras. The adjutant informed me this evening: “A strong party was sent out at midnight under Second Lieutenants Cranswick and Wright to obtain a prisoner if possible and to get information about the line of shell holes held by the enemy in the area highlighted on the map above. Before reaching the objective, a covering party was encountered who were protecting a large party of the enemy who were wiring in front of the line of shell holes. Further progress was impossible as our party were considerably outnumbered, but a lively encounter with bombs and rifle grenades took place”.

“Several Germans were killed and the whole enemy party appeared considerably frightened and surprised. Fire was opened all along the line and our party withdrew, all men, except three, regaining our trenches. Casualties were one officer and three men wounded and 3 men killed. The whole operation was conducted with great determination and was highly successful considering the opposition that was met with”(1)

Source: X550/7/1

(1) Those killed were: 39458 Private Herbert J Pollington, aged 20; 15250 Private William F Button, aged 22, of C Company and Harpenden [Hertfordshire] and 32224 Private Joseph Bertie Harding, aged 29, of 16 High Street, Kempston. The bodies of Pollington and Button could not be recovered, as they are commemorated on the Arras Memorial to the Missing. Harding’s body is buried in Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery so either he was brought in all the way from the fight, perhaps he was still alive for a short while, or he was killed close enough to the Bedfords’ lines for his body to be recovered.

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