Sunday 14 May 2017

The Fall of Roeux and a regimental Round-Up

Monday 14th May 1917

Readers will remember that yesterday Brigadier-General Cumming of 91st Brigade was relieved of command because his commanding officer did not like his plan of attack on The Red Patch in Bullecourt. An alternative plan was tried by his replacement, which was unsuccessful. Today Cumming’s original plan was used to attack this beastly place. Ironically, it looked for a while as if this plan might actually work. Then a bomb dump being used by the attackers was blown up by an enemy shell and, lacking sufficient ammunition the attacks petered out with nothing achieved.

Our old friends 51st (Highland) Division are in the field again. Having replaced 4th Division in the line, last night they attacked and took Roeux, which had been abandoned by the enemy.

News has reached us from three of the battalions of the Bedfordshire Regiment. Firstly from Palestine: yesterday 1st/5th Battalion remarked on groups of camels seen on the road from Gaza to Beersheba. A nearby brigade of howitzers decided to try their luck, at 6,500 yards range, but their shots fell some 200 yards short.

During the morning a Battalion signaller was mending a line outside a communication trench behind the front line when he was sniped and killed by a Turk some 1,400 yards away(1). At the moment their war seems to be at long range.

The commanding officer of 6th Battalion, Colonel F H Edwards MC has been transferred to Home establishment for three months’ rest. He has been replaced by Lieutenant-Colonel W R Campion, Member of Parliament for Lewes in Sussex(2).

The 8th Battalion, in the front line at Hulluch reports that last night gas was vented along the whole line and sent drifting towards the enemy. Gas bombs were also fired from projectors and then the British artillery bombarded communication trenches to catch men hurrying from the front line with pas poisoning and to the front line expecting an attack. The enemy’s artillery was very feeble in response

Sources: X550/6/8; X550/7/1; X550/9/1

(1) This must have been 200870 Private G Pratt, aged 19, son of Sophia of Pyne Cottages, Chalton near Toddington who is buried at Deir el Belah War Cemetery, twelve miles or so south-west of Gaza.
(2) and later Governor of Western Australia from 1924 to 1931.

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