Tuesday 16 May 2017

The Capture of Bullecourt

Wednesday 16th May 1917

This morning another attack was mounted on the remains of the village of Bullecourt, including the infamous Red Patch. I am delighted to report that this was achieved by 174th Brigade of 58th (2nd/1st London) Division at the point of the bayonet. There is a general feeling here that, with the problems in the French army and the end of their offensive that that is the finish of any further offensive operations around Arras, though time will tell.

Early this morning the Germans again attacked the Highlanders in and around Roeux and its chemical works. After some initial success these attacks were halted and then reversed and the ruins of Roeux re-taken. Further north they succeeded in capturing the hard-won chemical works and got as far as 300 yards west of the station. Again, however, the advance was stemmed and a counter-attack drove the enemy back, the remnants of the chemical works again being taken. 17th Division, north of the highlanders has lost ground which it is hoped the highlanders will win back this evening, the attack going in soon after I will finish writing this piece.

We have heard news today from Palestine. Yesterday 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, in front of the Turkish defences at Gaza, had a few things to report. A new enemy battery (about 4.2" calibre said the adjutant), began to register and fired five rounds within a radius of 50 yards of the Battalion Headquarters. One shell pitched onto the bank of earth, known locally as a terrace, heaped in front of one of B Company’s bivouacs on which twelve men were having breakfast at the time. The only casualty was a slight scalp wound caused by a piece of earth. The system of terraces has been found highly satisfactory in getting protection from shell fire. Last evening a patrol led by an officer to within 500 yards of a feature known as the Cactus Hedge found three bodies of our men killed in the Second Battle of Gaza a month ago.

Source: X550/6/8

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