Saturday 30 September 2017

Sixty Second Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Sunday 30th September 1917

Today the action at Ypres has been restricted to the area of 23rd Division, just north of the Menin Road. They relieved 33rd Division in the line last night. It may be that the enemy realised a relief was under way and sought to exploit the natural confusion that prevails at these times, or it may be they had planned an attack anyway. However it may be, the attack was made with the aid of numerous flame-throwers but was driven off by the 9th Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment of 70th Brigade.

Once again it has been a dry day, so the latter part of September, blue and clear and well and truly autumn, has mocked the high summer days of August, so full of greyness and rain.

Friday 29 September 2017

Sixty First Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Saturday 29th September 1917

Today has been another day without rain and another day of preparation. 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment’s guess that they are being fed into the Third Battle of Ypres seems confirmed. They are now north-east of Hazebrouck heading towards the Belgian border. Yesterday they moved to Staple, coming under the orders of X Corps (Lieutenant-General Sir T L N Morland) of 2nd Army (General Sir Herbert Plumer) and today marched on to Thieushouck.

Source: X550/2/5

Thursday 28 September 2017

Sixtieth Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

 Second Lieutenant C E Compton [X550/1/81]

Friday 28th September 1917

There has been little fighting today at Ypres as lines are consolidated and guns brought up ready for the next push. Remarkably in this sodden offensive we have now had no rain to speak of for eight days in a row and the higher parts of the battlefield are beginning to present firm going.

Second Lieutenant W Pennington [X550/1/81]

The 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, has received four new subalterns today to make up for losses - Second Lieutenants L A Tansley, C E Compton, S Scutt and W Pennington. The 4th Battalion have received seven subalterns - G Theed, J W Tacchi, G W Childs, C Bornet, L A W Vincent, G M Radwell and W I Broughton. The adjutant of the 4th Battalion, currently at Oppy Wood near Arras speculated with me that the new draft might indicate a move to Ypres and participation in the offensive soon.

Second Lieutenant L A Tansley [X550/1/81]

7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, have also had four new subalterns, Second Lieutenants W N Brawn, R C S Ransom, F H Fox and H W Haward. The adjutant was really getting in touch to tell me that a celebration dinner is planned for tonight to commemorate the first anniversary of the capture of Thiepval and the attack on the Schwaben Redoubt(1)

Sources: X550/3/wd; X550/5/3; X550/8/1

(1) Of these fifteen new subalterns the following would not see the end of the war: George Willmot Childs, died 22nd January 1918 and buried at Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery, Manancourt; Leslie Arthur Walter Vincent, died 31st March 1918 and buried in Cambrai East Military Cemetery; R C S Ransom, died 19th October 1917 and buried at Minty Farm Cemetery; Frank Herbert Fox died on 23rd August 1918 and is buried in Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension; H W Haward died 1st July 1918 and is buried in Pernois British Cemetery, Halloy-les-Pernois

Roll of Honour - 28th September 1917

Died of Wounds

8th Battalion
  • 40151 Private Archie BRAZIER, 21, ex-28260 Essex Regiment, son of Harry and A M Brazier of 15 Halifax Road, Cambridge (Longuenesse (Saint-Omer) Souvenir Cemetery)

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Fifty Ninth Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Thursday 27th September 1917

Last night 39th Division, immediately south of the Menin Road, was forced to defend its gains of yesterday from three separate German counter-attacks, which it did successfully and has now been relieved by 37th Division, though 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment which belongs to this formation is already in the line.

33rd Division is immediately north of the Menin Road and also received counter-attacks, which seized Cameron House. However, today 100th Brigade has pushed forward again and stabilised the situation, and, indeed, gone on to take ground it failed to take yesterday. 98th Brigade has also gone forward and found touch with the 5th Australian Division.

1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, currently near Saint-Omer reports that it has been joined by three new subalterns, Second Lieutenants A H Wakefield, A W Rope and H W Cornelius(1).

Source: X550/2/5

(1) Herbert Walter Cornelius would be killed on 20th July 1918 and is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial.

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Fifty Eighth Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Wednesday 26th September 1917

It seems that the armchair generals of the press corps were right in their guess, reported Monday, as today seven divisions have launched another attack, including assaults on Polygon Wood.

Only one of these attacks has been made south of the Menin Road, and that by 39th Division which began its attack in a V-shaped position where a German salient extended into our lines as a result of the failure of 41st Division to take the Tower Hamlets strong-point complex on 20th of this month. The two assaulting brigades were 116th and 118th, and the assaulting units included the 1st/1st Battalion, Cambridgeshire Regiment, the only battalion of this Territorial Army regiment to be overseas on active service. The ground here was in the usual state for this battle - a stinking marsh - however the men from Cambridgeshire were able to take their objective, Joist Redoubt and the division as a whole has taken Tower hamlets and smoothed out this bulge into our lines into something like a more pleasing straight line up to the Menin Road.

Incidentally, speaking with the adjutant of the Cambridgeshires, your correspondent learned that this battalion reckons it has suffered deaths of 475 of its number since its war began, including fourteen officers of captain’s rank and twenty one other officers.

Immediately north of the Menin Road is 33rd Division. Their task was to support the attack made by the Australians on their left flank and to regain the ground the Glasgow Highlanders lost yesterday. The latter task they have largely succeeded in achieving. At one point the Glasgow men are said to have performed something akin to the famed Highland Charge of days of yore in driving off an enemy counter-attack, so eager were they to be avenged on their for.

Both Australian Divisions, 4th and 5th, went into action again today after their successes on 20th of this month. The 5th Division used two brigades to attack Polygon Wood which, we understand, they have largely, if not wholly, taken. 4th Division’s first task was to take the northern parts of Polygon Wood and push on towards Molenaarelshoek and the ground south of Zonnebeke, which they achieved, occupying the brickyard south-west of the latter village. Both these Australian divisions have again performed very well and accomplished all that has been demanded of them.

On the left flank of the 4th Australian Division is 3rd Division, new to the line and to this struggle. Their attack was to head in a north-easterly direction. The division used 76th Brigade on the right and 8th Brigade on the left. Both brigades crossed the Steenbeck, quite a major feature of this part of the landscape, 76th Brigade, we understand, has occupied the western portion of Zonnebeke, certainly as far as the church. We believe that capture of the whole of this place, as well as its station, just to the north, was the prize, in which case the brigade has come up short, if not by much. 8th Brigade has also ended their advance, it seems, just short of their final objective but are consolidating the western slopes of Hill 40, though an attempt is underway to take the summit and east side too, as I write these lines(1).

On the left flank of 3rd Division, 59th (2nd North Midland) Division, began from a line which bent back sharply as it went north. Their attack, again, utilised two brigades. The attack has taken Dochy and Fokker Farms and a good long list of blockhouses - Toronto, Schuler Farm, Cross Cottages, Kansas House, Martha House, Green House, Road House, Riverside, Deuce House and Kansas Cross. The division is now not far from the hamlet of s’Gravestafel. Otto Farm was taken but has been threatened in the last half hour by a German counter-attack(2).

The final division in action today has been 58th (2nd/1st London) which attacked using 175th Brigade. This brigade has taken Dom Trench and pillboxes called Nile and Cairo; Dear House, Aviatik Farm and Vale House also fell but we understand that the enemy have made a strong counter-attack this evening and seem to have re-taken Aviatik Farm and Dear House, leaving the the brigade about four hundred yards short of its objective.

So ends another day of steady success. So fast on the heels of the advance of 20th September this advance gives hope that the elusive breakthrough might just be in reach, though the state of the ground and the depth of the strong German defences probably militate against this. Indeed, this battle has been characterised by slow, steady advances, immediately consolidated, what high command likes to call “bit and hold” rather than by any attempted rupture of the enemy line and eruption into the rear areas, which are seen, on the whole, as unrealistic expectations

(1) This attempt failed.

(2) Some of the advanced posts gave way in this attack but reinforcements were brought up and the line, including Otto Farm, re-established.

Monday 25 September 2017

Fifty Seventh Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Tuesday 25th September 1917

Today is the second anniversary of the Battle of Loos. It seems remarkable, looking back, how momentous an event that attack was. It was the largest battle of the war so far to involve the British Expeditionary Force, the largest battle we as a nation had fought since Waterloo a century before. It involved six divisions and lasted eighteen days. In some ways it seems a life-time ago. Last year the opening day of the Battle of the Somme involved fourteen divisions and the battle itself lasted four and a half months. So far this year we have had the Battle of Arras which lasted for just over five weeks and had a similar number of divisions involved in the opening stages as did the Somme, and now we have a battle in its fifty-seventh day which involved fifteen divisions on the first day. The army has come a long way in just three years, from a war of manoeuvre which the Duke of Wellington would have recognised to a modern killing-match of industrial proportions involving battles of hundreds of thousands of men and weeks of struggle more akin to siege warfare than the battles of old.

Today the struggle has been taken up by 100th Brigade of 33rd Division, which has succeeded 23rd Division in the line on Westhoek Ridge between Inverness Copse and Polderhoek. During the relief of one division by the other, we believe the Germans tried to seize their chance by attacking the newcomers, resulting in 1st/9th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry losing ground. Rallying, the men from Glasgow, retook part of the ground they had lost and, supported by other battalions, any attempt to exploit the gains the enemy had made was extinguished.

Elsewhere, the 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, in the front line between Shrewsbury Forest and Gheluvelt have been under continuous shelling all day. Second Lieutenant N W Rycroft and eleven other ranks have been killed and sixteen other ranks wounded. The adjutant told me on the blower that, incongruously, the battalion transport is well behind the lines at Sint-Jans-Kappel, at the 37th Divisional Horse Show, where, in the cooker and limber competition, the battalion’s entry maintained an unbeaten record!

Second Lieutenant H Hutchinson [X550/1/82]

Finally, we believe that 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, part of 15th Brigade of 5th Division, may well be on its way to Ypres. Today it marched to Tincques, west of Arras, where it took the train to Saint-Omer, then marched to Zudrove, near Setques. Two new officers, Second Lieutenants W W White and H Hutchinson joined today(1).

Second Lieutenant W White [X550/1/81]

Sources: X550/2/5; X550/7/1

(1) Herbert Hutchinson would be killed on 27th September 1918 and is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial 

Roll of Honour - 25th September 1917

Killed in Action

6th Battalion: 3rd Battle of Ypres: front line south of Ypres, heavily shelled
  • 15060 Private Thomas Ernest ADAMS of ADNAMS, born Hillingdon [Middlesex], resided Paddington [London], son of Harry G Adams of Adnams of 21 Sutherland Avenue, Maida Hill [London] and late Susan M (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 32207 Private Frederick George BRITTEN resided Bedford (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 16285 Private Arthur Henry DALE (real name Arthur Henry MAITLAND), 24, born Spitalfields [London], resided Bethnal Green [London], son of Arthur H and Catherine Maitland (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 22679 Private Albert Victor GOLDING, 20, son of William and Mary Jane Golding of Saint Albans [Hertfordshire] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 27882 Private William HUMPHREY, born and resided Houghton Regis (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 37546 Private William Henry Frederick JOHNSON, born Takeley [Essex], resided Bishop's Stortford [Hertfordshire] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 12629 Private William Harry LARNER, 21, born Paddington [London], son of Thomas and Elizabeth Larner of 16 Weston Place, Marylebone [London] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 204002 Private Albert George MAYES, 29, ex-331115 Cambridgeshire Regiment, son of J and E Mayes of Wellingborough [Northamptonshire], husband of Ethel Frances of 2 Holly Gardens, Wellingborough (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 40680 Lance Corporal William NEASHAM, ex-1683 Northumberland Fusiliers, born Spennymoor [Durham], resided Gateshead [Durham] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 32007 Sergeant Reginald OSBORNE, 24, son of Frederick George and Caroline Ann Osborne of 19 Gloucester Road, Walthamstow [Essex] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 204008 Private Cecil Charles PHILLIPS, ex-331125 Cambridgeshire Regiment, born and resided Wellingborough [Northamptonshire] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 25659 Private Wesley Daniel PREW, 21, born Hollesley [Suffolk], son of E M Prew of Laburnum Cottage, Tendring [Essex] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • Temporary Second Lieutenant Nelson Wynne RYCROFT (Tyne Cot Memorial, Passchendaele)
  • 12259 Lance Corporal Charles SANSON, born Trimulgherry [Hyderabad], resided Colchester [Essex] (Locre Hospice Cemetery)

Died of Wounds

6th Battalion
  • 39414 Private Percy Leonard BOWDLER, 24, ex-3892 Army Pay Corps, born Brentford [Middlesex], resided Goodmayes [Essex], son of Percy Edwin and Rose Charlotte Bowdler of 478 Green Lane, Seven Kings [Essex] (Tyne Cot Memorial)

Sunday 24 September 2017

Fifty Sixth Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Monday 24th September 1917

Today has seen no great activity on the Ypres battlefield. Both sides seem to be drawing breath, our own armies prepare for another assault and the enemy girds its loins to receive it. The armchair generals of the press corps are putting their money on another go at the centre of the battlefront, perhaps in or near Polygon Wood as an enemy strong-point not carried in the attack of 20th of this month, but we will see.

Roll of Honour - 24th September 1917

Killed in Action

6th Battalion: 3rd Battle of Ypres: relieved from the front line south of Ypres
  • 32052 Private John BETTS, 36, D Company, son of Thomas and Ann Betts of Felmersham, husband of Edith A W of Victoria Cottage, Felmersham (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 204039 Private Albert Edward MINTING, ex-328963 Cambridgeshire Regiment, born London, resided Tottenham [Middlesex] [Hooge Crater Cemetery]


1st Battalion
  • 32042 Private William George BISHOP, 21, B Company, born Canterbury [Kent], resided Bishopsgate [London], son of Thomas Edwin and Phoebe Bishop of 3 Hope Terrace, Snodland [Kent] (Liencourt Communal Cemetery)

Saturday 23 September 2017

Fifty Fifth Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Sunday 23rd September 1917

Once again it is proved that one should never speak too soon. After opining on 21st that the gains made on 20th now looked safe from any counter-attacks, your correspondent was, not for the first time, made to look a fool today when of German counter-attacks, albeit unsuccessful ones, took place.

The enemy launched an attack against 58th Division (2nd/1st London), trying to take the position known as Stroppe Farm, but this has been beaten off. Another attack was put in against the 51st (Highland) Division It came from the direction of enemy-held Poelcapelle and struck the centre of the new line, but was repulsed by 5th and 6th Battalions of the Seaforth Highlanders. 20th (Light) Division drove off the enemy with small arms fire around dawn this morning.

20th Division have also been on the attack themselves. 59th Brigade attacked the last remaining length of Eagle Trench in enemy hands. They were able to pinch out this salient by attacking it from both ends at once.

Roll of Honour - 23rd September 1917

Died of Wounds

6th Battalion
  • 11019 Private Percy William MARKS, born and resided Leighton Buzzard (Elzenwalle Brasserie Cemetery)

Friday 22 September 2017

Fifty Fourth Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Second Lieutenant F C Baldwin [X550/1/81] 

Saturday 22nd September 1917

Today the army has been busy spending a second day consolidating the gains made on 20th September, bringing up the runs, re-registering them on the next series of targets and so on. It is the third day in a row without rain, though the battlefield still resembles a swamp in places.

Second Lieutenant D D Warren [X550/1/81]

Following their action on 20th, the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment has moved back to a camp near the remains of the city of Ypres, though they have been finding some working parties in the front line. Five subalterns have joined them today - Second Lieutenants: D D Warren, J Kerr, W S Goble, F C Baldwin and S Courtney(1).

Second Lieutenant J Kerr [X550/1/81]

The 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, we have been told, have relieved the 6th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, of 39th Division in the front line, at six hours’ notice, being brought up in a fleet of buses. The Battalion was heavily shelled on its way up to the line and the laconic adjutant of the Battalion simply described the whole operation as: “Extremely difficult”. 

Second Lieutenant S W Goble [X550/1/81]

Two officers, Captain J Hislop MC and Second Lieutenant C E Inch have been killed along with four other ranks, twenty men being wounded. The line they have taken over is shown on the map above, facing south-east.

Second Lieutenant S Courtney [X550/1/81]

Sources: X550/3/.wd; X550/7/1

(1) Second Lieutenant Frederick Charles Baldwin, from Bletchley [Buckinghamshire], would die on 11th May 1918 and he is buried at Esquelbecq Military Cemetery.

Roll of Honour - 22nd September 1917

Killed in Action

6th Battalion: 3rd Battle of Ypres: relieved 39th Division in the front line south of Ypres, very difficult relief
  • 35909 Private John BANCROFT, 20, son of M Lock of Block Wick,  Saint Osyth [Essex] and late John Bancroft (Perth Cemetery (China Wall))
  • 43185 Private Herbert BRIGHT, 24, ex-2206 Essex Regiment, son of Joe Bright of 3 Copous Place, Shenfield [Essex] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 31888 Private George HORNETT, 24, of 3 Newgate Cottages, Sandpit Lane, Saint Albans [Hertfordshire] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • Second Lieutenant George INCH, 27, son of George Edward and Alice Inch of 2 Charlotte Street, Bolton [Lancashire], husband of Mary (Tyne Cot Memorial, Passchendaele)
  • 26786 Private Albert LANE, 23, son of John and Minnie Lane of Kirkham Cottages, Dunstable Road, Toddington (Tyne Cot Memorial)

8th Battalion
  • Acting Captain John HISLOP MC (Tyne Cot Memorial, Passchendaele)

Died of Wounds

2nd Battalion
  • 27075 Private John Edward SMITH, born and resided Cheshunt [Hertfordshire] (Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension, Bailleul)

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.

Roll of Honour - 21st September 1917


13th (Transport Worker) Battalion
  • 34679 Lance Corporal Charles PARR ex-17513 Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, born Bury [Lancashire], resided Little Lever [Lancashire] (commemorated Manchester Southern Cemetery buried Bury (Brunswick) United Methodist Cemetery)

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Fifty Second Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Thursday 20th September 1917

Today the great offensive, like the engine of a Mark IV Tank, once more roared into life, something the gentlemen of His Majesty’s Press Corps here at the front have been urging for a little while now. Today’s action has straddled the ground either side of the Menin Road, with eleven divisions involved.

One of the earliest actions was a raid near Hollebeke by the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, of which we hope to be able to speak at greater length tomorrow.

The action, running from south to north, has been as follows. 19th (Western) Division attacked with two brigades, 57th and 58th in the area immediately north of Hollebeke and the 2nd Bedfords. Their attack ran south-eastwards and, despite some local difficulties, it appears to have gone well. The strong-points of Hessian Wood, Moat Farm, Funny Farm, Wood Farm, Belgian Wood and North Farm have all been taken and the division is understood to be anticipating a counter-attack(1).

39th Division attacked in a south-easterly direction, took the greater part of Bulgar Wood from positions on the eastern edge of Shrewsbury Forest. A post was also established on the far side of a stream known as the Bassevillebeek.

41st Division were attacking south-eastwards in the general direction of Gheluveldt, though this was not an objective. All three brigades of this division were used. Progress was difficult at times but objectives have been taken including Java Avenue, Tower Trench and Bitter Wood. They could not quite take Tower Hamlets, which is a very strongly sited and defended maze of concrete dug-outs and pillboxes, but have dug in right in front of it and, in places, they are a way short of the Bassevillebeek.

23rd Division used 68th and 69th Brigades and attacked on the left flank of 41st Division and managed to advance a way further, in most places taking all their objectives. 69th Brigade straddled the Menin Road itself. Between them they have taken Dumbarton Wood and Herenthage Chȃteau and, we are very glad to report, the festering sore of Inverness Copse has been eradicated, by 11th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment. This afternoon the understand the enemy made a two determined attempts to retake lost ground but these were destroyed by artillery fire.

1st Australian Division is on the left of 23rd Division and 2nd Division on their flank further to the north. The 6th Australian Battalion passed through Glencorse Wood, of evil memory, with as little difficulty as the 7th Bedfords did on 10th August. Unlike the case with the Bedfords, the units on their flanks also continued going forward, making the Australians’ advance a much easier proposition. The 1st Division has also taken Fitzclarence Farm along with Verbeek Farm, also Nonne Bosschen, the advance coming to a halt on the western edge of Polygon Wood. 2nd Division took Hanebeek, Iron Cross and Anzac House and achieved all its objectives.

9th (Scottish) Division went into action on the left flank of the Australians, attacking north-eastwards in the general direction of Zonnebeke. Two brigades were used - 27th and the South African Brigade. Hanebeek Wood fell quickly, as did the Potsdam pillboxes and the Zonnebeke Redoubt. The South Africans took Borry Farm, Zevenkote and Bremen Redoubts. We understand they were attacked by the enemy about two hours ago, but beat them off.

55th (West Lancashire) Division attacked with 164th and 165th Brigades. . 165th Brigade has taken Iberian, Lens, Gallipoli, Kier, Suvla, Capitol and Delva Farms as well as Hill 35 - another thoroughly successful attack. The day seems to have been harder for 164th Brigade. They have taken Aisne and Loos Farms and Hindu Cottage and Schuler Galleries but further gains seem to have eluded them, a rare disappointment in this day of successes.

58th (2nd/1st) London Division have also made a successful advance, 174th Brigade taking Vancouver Farm and Keerselare as well as Hübner Farm and Dimple Trench, Cluster House, Clifton House, Wurst Farm and Olive House, all their objectives. 173rd Brigade have made a full advance and taken the western edge of the Gravenstafel Spur.

Our friends the 51st (Highland) Division, quartered in Bedford until 1915, attacked with 154th Brigade. They have taken Pheasant Trench and Flora Cottage, Quebec Farm and Bavaroise House. Pheasant Farm Cemetery, Malta, Rose and Delta Houses were taken in a second wave of attacks. A couple of hours ago the enemy began a counter-attack between York Farm and Tweed House. We understand that the highlanders are putting up stiff resistance(2).

20th (Light) Division was the northernmost division in the attack, using 59th and 60th Brigades. 60th Brigade was held up by a defensive line called Eagle Trench, though we understand this is again under assault as I write this (3). 59th Brigade have also been held up by Eagle Trench(4).

It will be evident from the foregoing that fighting is still going on in parts of the battlefield. Nevertheless, it has been a very successful day, with deep gains across a broad front making it the best day for our armies since 31st July. Naturally we have to be cautious about the possibility of enemy counter-attacks overnight and early tomorrow, but there is a decided air of optimism among the “gentlemen of the press” out here tonight.

Source: X550/3/wd

(1) When it arrived at 7.30 p.m. it was quickly stopped.
(2) Until their ammunition ran out, which forced a retirement, Rose Farm falling to the enemy. After collecting ammunition from the dead and wounded the Scots attacked again, retaking the lost ground.
(3) It fell but that was the limit of the gains.

(4) Which could not be taken in its entirety

Roll of Honour - 20th September 1917

Killed in Action

2nd Battalion: 3rd Battle of Ypres: failed trench raid at Hollebeke
  • 18932 Private Charles ARNOTT resided Hemel Hempstead [Hertfordshire] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 9552 Sergeant George Edward BAKER, 26, of 40 Hart Street, Barking [Essex] husband of Clara Barker (ex-Baker) of 99 Essex Road, Islington [London] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 27510 Private Charles Chapman BULL,33, born Conington [Cambridgeshire], son of Elizabeth of Barwell Road, Fenstanon [Huntingdonshire] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 29268 Private Charles John BUMFREY, born Alby [Norfolk], resided Cromer [Norfolk] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 43375 Private Thomas Albert COOK, 30, ex-23196 Northamptonshire Regiment, son of Thomas and Sarah Ann Cook of Spratton [Cambridgeshire] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 201294 Private William George FITZJOHN, 28, born and resided Cheshunt [Hertfordshire]; son of Mr and Mrs Fitzjohn of 40 Park Lane, Waltham Cross [Hertfordshire], husband of Gertrude of 4 Myrtle Cottages, Cromwell Avenue, Cheshunt (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 29303 Private Alfred GOLDING, 22, son of George and Anna of Oulton [Norfolk] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 18721 Private Alfred GREEN, 21, brother of Thomas Green of Pipers Lane, Godmanchester [Huntingdonshire] resided Huntingdon (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 201991 Private William HALE, born and resided Bishop's Stortford [Hertfordshire] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 18024 Private Cecil Richard HOLMES, 24, son of David and Clara Holmes of Whitwick Green, Bletsoe (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 3/7430 Private Horace Edgar HUBBOCKS, born Leighton Buzzard, resided Luton (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 39461 Private Joseph PARR, ex-DM/2/231433 Army Service Corps, born and resided Tunstall [Staffordshire](Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 32254 Private Stanley John ROE, 22, born and resided Luton, son of late David and Kate Roe (Tyne Cot Memorial)  
  • Second Lieutenant Thomas George SEARLE MC, MSM, 26, son of W J and E M Searle of 32 Liverpool Road, Watford [Hertfordshire] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 33768 Private Arthur Edward SMITH, 27, son of Hannah Smith of 37 Watton Road, Ware [Hertfordshire] and late Walter Smith (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 28115 Private Henry SPARROW, 20, born Littleport [Cambridgeshire], resided Downham Market [Norfolk], son of John and Elizabeth Sparrow of Feltwell [Norfolk] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 14319 Private Joseph Henry TASKER MM, 25, born Willian [Hertfordshire], son of Joseph and Elizabeth Tasker of 42 Ridge Avenue, Letchworth [Hertfordshire] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 10788 Private Frank William WELLS, born Westwell [Kent], resided Saint Leonard's-on-Sea [Sussex] (Tyne Cot Memorial)
  • 18230 Private William WILSHER, 28, born and resided Tewin [Hertfordshire], son of E Wilsher of 88 Hartley Road, Luton (Tyne Cot Memorial)

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Fifty First Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Wednesday 19th September 1917

Today the 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, has moved back from the front line near Klein Zillebeke to RE Farm, where it was inspected by the Brigadier. Later the Brigade Major of 112th Brigade addressed the Battalion as follows: "The Brigade Commander desires me to inform you that he was more than satisfied with the splendid turnout of your battalion on parade this morning. The cleanliness of every article of kit as well as the general turnout spoke well for the organisation within your battalion and was a credit to all concerned. It gave the Brigade Commander very great pleasure to see such a fine parade and he feels confident that in any possible offensive operations, your battalion will continue to show as it has in the past that good interior economy and organisation are half the battle."

The Battalion also heard today that 10551 Corporal S W Sawford has been awarded the Military Medal.

Sources: X550/7/1

Monday 18 September 2017

Fiftieth Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Tuesday 18th September 1917

The fiftieth day of this new offensive has not been marked by any offensive actions, everyone holding the line and, seemingly, waiting for something. Following the awards of medals to other ranks of the 7th Bedfords yesterday we have heard today that the Military Cross has been awarded to Lieutenant and Quartermaster F Corner and to Captain J A Vlasto of the Royal Army Medical Corps, the Battalion Medical Officer. A bar to his MC has also been awarded to Captain W W Colley.

Source: X550/8/1

Sunday 17 September 2017

Forty Ninth Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Monday 17th September 1917

Those cheery slackers, as the adjutant called them, the 7th Bedfords have been idling at the sea again today. This time, the other five officers and two hundred other ranks. Have enjoyed themselves at Dunkirk. One bar to the Military Medal and twenty nine other Military medals have been issued for bravery shown between 9th and 16th August. One of the recipients is Private George Deacon of 34 Turnpike Road, Husborne Crawley, known personally to your correspondent. George is a stolid but self-effacing man and played down his award as “being dished out with the rations”, others in his Battalion tell a different story.

34 Turnpike Road, Husborne Crawley

Here at Ypres the 1st and 2nd Australian Divisions have gone into the line for the first time in this offensive, taking the place of 47th (1st/2nd London) Division. The replacement of this one division with new divisions suggests, to some of the older hands out here, that something special is being planned in this sector.

Source: X550/8/1

Saturday 16 September 2017

Forty Eighth Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Sunday 16th September 1917

Today it has been the enemy’s turn to attack. Advances were made against 20th (Light) Division, the Guards Division and 47th (1st/2nd London) Division, the latter against the strong-point in Inverness Copse taken on yesterday. All three attacks have been beaten off with some loss.

Following their seaside holiday on 23rd August the five officers and three hundred other ranks which, at present, form just over half the strength of the Battalion, went to the sea again today. They had a nice time at Mardyk, near Dunkirk, the adjutant remarking to me: “Weather good and all ranks much enjoyed themselves”.

Source: X550/8/1

Roll of Honour - 16th September 1917

Killed in Action

4th Battalion: front line south of Oppy Wood
  • 30020 Acting Sergeant William FRANCIS, 26, son of William and Bella Francis of Wimbledon [Surrey] resided Streatham [London], husband of Ethel May taylor (ex-Francis) of 25 Acacia Road, Norbury [London] (Bailleul Road East Cemetery, Saint-Laurent-Blangy)

Died of Wounds

8th Battalion
  • 23445 Private William Harry KILPIN, son of William and Mary Esther Kilpin of 23 The Crescent, Newport Pagnell [Buckinghamshire] (Saint Patrick’s Cemetery, Loos)


8th Battalion
  • 40276 Private John William HOWARD, ex-5236 Norfolk Regiment, born and resided Saint Germans [Norfolk] (Chocques Military Cemetery)

Friday 15 September 2017

Forty Seventh Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Saturday 15th September 1917

Today there have been, again, a few isolated attacks. 47th (1st/2nd London) Division used 7th Battalion, London Regiment, to launch an attack on a strong-point near Inverness Copse. Meanwhile 1st/4th East Lancashires of 42nd Division took a point called Sans Souci. Perhaps the most interesting “attack” was a Chinese attack undertaken by 51st (Highland) Division. A Chinese attack uses dummy figures to draw enemy fire either to pin the enemy in place for a bombardment or to deceive him into thinking an attack is coming from that direction when, in fact, it is coming from another.

Thursday 14 September 2017

Forty Sixth Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Friday 14th September 1917

Two more small affairs have taken place today. 58th (2nd/1st London) Division made an attack from the vicinity of Springfield Farm on Winnipeg Farm, sadly they were unsuccessful. Meanwhile 1st/4th East Lancashire Regiment of 42nd Division made an advance of about a hundred yards and consolidated their new position.

Area raided by 8th Battalion

Early this morning  8th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, in trenches to the left of Hill 70 east of Loos mounted a raid on the enemy at 1.10 a.m. At 11.40 p.m. on 13th Second Lieutenant Webb reported Bangalore Torpedoes in position under the enemy wire and connected up to explode. At 1.0 a.m. the raiding party (2 officers and 85 other ranks) formed up outside the battalion’s wire. At 1.08 a.m. the torpedoes were successfully fired and at 1.09 a.m. a barrage by artillery, machine guns and mortars opened.

The raiding party advanced under cover of this barrage. The enemy wire was found to have been cut but the enemy themselves were alert and standing to arms shoulder to shoulder. Several attempts were made by the raiders to force their way into the enemy trench, but only a few got in. Hastily erected blocks and obstacles had been made which had not previously been noted by the battalion’s reconnoitring patrols and these caused a good deal of confusion.

The enemy's closely packed trench was heavily bombed by the raiders causing them considerable casualties. All bombs having been used, the raiders withdrew to their trench thirty minutes after the raid started, being guided by a vertical beam from a searchlight in the rear.

The Battalion’s casualties are reported as light. - two other ranks killed and ten wounded. No one is missing and all the killed and wounded have been brought in.

The adjutant told me: “The night was pitch dark and the enemy found in much greater strength than expected, so although we did not obtain an identification our brush with the enemy was not altogether a failure".

Source: X550/9/1

Roll of Honour - 14th September 1917

Killed in Action

8th Battalion: front line at Hill 70 near Mazingarbe
  • 19714 Private Walter HUDSON, 30, son of Josiah Hudson of High Street, Earith [Huntingdonshire], husband of Ethel Ginn of 2 New Town, Earith (Loos Memorial)
  • 3/7466 Private James LOUGHTON, born and resided Luton (Loos Memorial)

Died of Wounds

8th Battalion
  • 23074 Private Richard HARLOCK, born and resided Huntingdon (Béthune Town Cemetery)
  • 39590 Private William John REA, 35, ex-DM/2/231758 Army Service Corps, son of F and A Rea of Kempsey [Worcestershire], husband of F E rea of 87 Saint Dunstan’s Crescent, Worcester (Béthune Town Cemetery)