Thursday, 21 September 2017

Fifty Third Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Friday 21st September 1917

Readers will recall my caution last evening about the gains of yesterday being subject to enemy counter-attacks. I am surprised, but delighted, to say that there have been none so we may take yesterday’s gains as true gains. There has been some fighting today as 41st Division made an attack using 123rd Brigade. Progress has been slow and limited in the bog which covers this part of the battlefield but a stream called the Bassevillebeek has been reached. The enemy counter-attacked the division this afternoon but all have been seen off. I understand that as I wrote this another counter-attack is developing(1)

As promised, I have been able to discover more of the role of 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, which launched a raid near Hollebeke on the extreme right flank of yesterday’s advance. The report below was handed to me by the commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel C H de St. P. Bunbury and is a copy of the summary sent to headquarters.

Captain W J Holbrook [X550/1/81]

“On the morning of 20th September 1917, zero hour 5.40 a.m. the Battalion carried out two minor operations in conjunction with a general advance of the 2nd and 5th Armies. Captain W. J. Holbrook M.C. and Second Lieutenant T. G. Searle M.C. were in command of a party consisting of fifty other ranks, with orders to raid the enemy Centre of Movement (shown on the map above) for the purpose of collecting information, capturing prisoners and machine-guns and damaging Dug-outs. They were accompanied by a party of eight Royal Engineers with blasting charges”.

Second Lieutenant T G Searle [X550/1/81] 

“The party, on nearing their objective, were fired on heavily both with machine -guns and rifles. This fire, so intense, and the wire discovered to be uncut, made further advance and return impossible. The party, among whom were several wounded, remained in shell-holes during the whole day and returned about 9 p.m. to our own line”.

“Much valuable information was collected from this enterprise”.

Simultaneously with the above, B Company on our left flank pushed forward their left post on the Ypres-Commines Canal to a line from No. 9 Post to the canal, in prolongation of the 6th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment, thereby advancing about 300 yards. Our line then joined the Canal at about the position shown on the map”.

“This operation was entirely successful”.

The casualties for the raid included Second Lieutenant T G Searle MC who was wounded and is now missing(2). Amongst other ranks they were as follows:

  • Killed 8;
  • Missing 4;
  • Wounded and missing 3;
  • Wounded 13.
Lieutenant G R Jacob [X550/1/81]

Other casualties incurred included Lieutenant G R Jacob, who has been wounded, with three other ranks killed and five wounded.

Source: X550/3/wd

(1) It was ended by artillery, machine-gun and rifle fire.

(2) He was evidently killed or died of his wounds that day and he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, his body having never been recovered.

No comments:

Post a Comment