Saturday, 9 September 2017

Forty First Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Sunday 9th September 1917

Inverness Copse continues to be the scene of bloodshed. Today it is mostly Germanic blood as they launched an attack through the wood on 24th Division but were repulsed after a stiff fight.

Captain J P Pitts [X550/1/82]

Last night 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, suffered a raid. The Battalion is in the front line east of Oostaverne, some way south of most of the recent fighting. The raid fell on A and B Companies. A Company is commanded by Captain J P Pitts, who was able to give your correspondent the following account:  “At 11.55 p.m. the enemy put down an intense box barrage, consisting of light trench Mortars and 77 mm shells, on a front of 400 yards to a depth of 300 yards. The front portion of the barrage, which consisted chiefly of light trench mortars, fell on the front line taking in about 150 yards of A and 150 yards of B Companies”.

“The tail end of the barrage fell on and behind the supporting platoons, the majority of this was 77 mm shells. At 12 midnight the barrage lifted off the front line for 100 yards. The enemy then attempted to rush two of our posts, both of which were Lewis gunners, they both saw the Bosche coming and opened fire, the Lewis Gunner of A Company succeeded in keeping the Raiders off and killing two, but the Bosche managed to get round the right flank of B Company Post”.

“I should imagine the enemy were in our trench for two minutes, certainly no longer. I managed to get to my right post about 12.02 a.m., the Bosche had just left our trench. I then put up Very Lights for ten minutes but could not see any movement, but saw the two bodies about 20 yards from my right post, we at once got them in. The barrage lasted until 12.10 a.m. but after that everything was very quiet”.

“The place the enemy raided was the only part of our line that we had no wire out. Directly the barrage lifted I sent out a patrol to see if B Company were alright, but found they had lost some men”.

In fact it appears that overall three men have been killed, three more are missing and fifteen have been wounded. Also wounded was an attached officer, Second Lieutenant H H Harman of the 32nd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. One of B Company’s Lewis guns was captured.

Source: X550/3/wd

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