Thursday, 3 August 2017

Fourth Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Friday 3rd August 1917

Two more divisions have been relieved in the line today, another day of cool drizzle. The 2nd Bedfords have moved back with 30th Division to a place called Micmac Camp, well behind the lines, being relieved by 12th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, of 54th Brigade, home of the 7th Bedfords. I think the respective Bedford battalions were sorry that one could not have relieved the other, allowing a brief meeting of relatives, friends and fellow countrymen. The adjutant of the 2nd Bedfords tells me by wire that during their stint near the front line they have lost fourteen other rans and one officer killed, and fifty other ranks and one officer (Second Lieutenant T J Pemberton) wounded. Three other ranks are missing, six have shell shock from the enormous bombardment of the opening day and the retaliatory German bombardments and two have been gassed. One of the wounded men rendered a self-inflicted wound and has been arrested pending court martial(1).

Second Lieutenant Pemberton [X550/1/81]

The 7th Bedfords are proceeding slowly towards the front line. After a general kit inspection they are, as I write this, marching to Railway Dugouts in the shadow of the front line.

Meanwhile, the war grinds on in places far-removed from Ypres. I have had a wire from the adjutant of the 1st/5th Bedfords, in far-away Palestine. Yesterday Military Medals were issued to Private W A Beesley, Private H Reeves, Private W Pratt, Sergeant E G Clifford, Private Charger and Private D A J Worrow, for gallantry in connection with the recent raids on Umbrella Hill(2).

Sources: X550/3/wd; X550/6/8; X550/9/1

(1) Self-inflicted wounds could often mean a long prison sentence - 3,894 men from all units being so sentenced during the war.

(2) Private William Arthur Beesley MM would die on 22nd December 1917 and is buried at Ramleh War Cemetery; Sergeant Eustace George Clifford MM would die on 5th October 1917 and is buried at Gaza War Cemetery.

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