|5 a.m.||All units had reported they were in position of Assembly, in accordance with Operation Orders. The German reply to our six days' bombardment had caused considerable damage to our fire-bays, traffic trench, and to Rob Roy, especially the latter; this trench, however, was not used at all in the operations.
Our artillery maintained a heavy bombardment on the enemy's trenches from 5 a.m. to 7 30 a.m., the last hour being intense.
The German artillery replied to this with shrapnel and heavy H.E. on our front line, particular attention being paid to junction of communicators with front line, especially the junction of NAIRNE and front line.
|7.20 a.m.||Trench Mortars in Saps C, D and E opened a hurricane bombardment on German Front Line; at the same time our first wave advanced in extended order as near the German front line as our barrage permitted, and lay down. The leading platoon of 14th York & Lanc. Regt. in NAIRNE advanced just in rear of the left flank of first wave, lying down in single file.|
|7.25 a.m.||Second wave crossed our front line, and lay down fifty yards in rear of first wave. At this time the German front line was seen to be manned, (about one man per yard), by men who had either been lying behind the parados of fire trench during the bombardment, or who had emerged from shelters. These men, despite our artillery and trench mortar barrage, opened a heavy rifle and machine gun fire, and threw bombs on our first two waves, causing many casualties.|
|7.30 a.m.||Our artillery barrage rolled back towards the German fourth line, and at the same time the remnants of the first and second waves moved forward. German artillery now put a most effective shrapnel and heavy H.E. barrage on No-Man's-Land and our front trenches.
Also our third and fourth waves advanced out of CAMPION and MONK, third wave coming under very heavy fire about 200 yds. behind our front line trench. These two waves marched on in spite of this, but lost considerably before crossing our front line, where they encountered a particularly heavy barrage.
|7.55 a.m.||Two platoons of 13th York & Lanc. Regt. moved from MONK to our front line trench, and one company of same regiment moved from ROLLAND to COPSE.
Owing to mist and heavy smoke barrage on third line, observation of movement of troops was very difficult, but parties of the first and second waves were seen to enter the first German trench on right and left. Subsequently small parties were seen between first and second trenches, and at 8 a.m. parties were observed to enter the German second line.
|8.10 a.m.||The Company of 13th York & Lanc. R. in COPSE Trench advanced over our front line, but were heavily shelled with H.E. and only very few were seen to enter the German tenches.|
|8.35 a.m.||Fighting observed in progress in German front trench, up to 8.35 a.m., when the enemy put shrapnel into his own front line.|
|8.45 a.m.||Having received a message from 11 E. Lanc. R. asking for reinforcements, the Brigade Commander ordered two Companies of the 13th York & Lanc. R. to advance, and hold German second and first lines. By this time the barrage on our front line was exceptionally intense, and these 2 Companies of the 13th Y. and L. R., advancing steadily in two waves from CAMPION & MONK, suffered very heavy casualties. They were not able to get beyond our front line, and were ultimately ordered to re-form in MONK.
The enemy's barrage at this particular time appears to have been remarkably well observed, as it was invariably concentrated on trenches where troops were massed.
|9.5 a.m.||Six platoons of 14th York & Lanc. R. reported making good progress under heavy fire, with our left flank fire trench facing North. They were only observed as far as German second line trench, until, by 10.35 a.m. there were apparently none of them left to carry on.|
|9.18 a.m.||German artillery firing on his second line.|
|10.15 a.m.||The German barrage on his first and second lines was removed, and German bombing parties were seen to work up communicators into front line.|
|10.45 a.m.||At odd intervals, and for the rest of the day, small groups of Germans were seen in their first line, standing up on fire step sniping at any of our men in No-Man's-Land who showed any sign of life, and making target practice of dead bodies. Our machine guns were turned on these groups, apparently with some effect.
Machine gun and K.O.Y.L.I. detachments moved forward with their respective waves to establish strong points at various previously selected positions in captured German trenches, but never reached them. Altogether we lost seven machine guns in the attack, and two were damaged. We lost two trench mortars, one being subsequently recovered.
Our Reserve at this stage of the battle was two Companies of the 14th York & Lanc. in MONK & HOLLAND, two platoons of the 13th York & Lanc. in the front line, and remainder of two Companies in MONK; "A" Company of the 12th K.O.Y.L.I., less two platoons, in EDEN. Also Machine Gun Company, less nine guns in EDEN. Both the latter units attempted to proceed to the front line, in accordance with orders, were held up under hostile artillery fire, and returned to MONK, and later to EDEN, by order of the Brigadier.
From Corps, Divisional, Artillery and Brigade observers and also from statements of casualties, it appears certain that parties of the Brigade penetrated to the third and fourth German lines, and that a few ultimately reached SERRE. Furthermore, three Officers reported that the Germans were shelling SERRE at 10.25 a.m.
Bombing was observed in second and third German trenches at 2.50 p.m., E. of MATTHEW COPSE.
Shelling was carried on intermittently throughout the remainder of the day.
Appended copies of wires received from Division during the operations (Appendix A).
Also list of Casualties in the Brigade (Appendix B).
G.O.C. 93rd Inf. Brigade visited Brigade H.Q. about 4.15 p.m., reporting that his Brigade, generally speaking, had made no progress.1
- It is interesting to note that this sentence is a handwritten amendment of the typed original which read "G.O.C. 93rd Inf. Brigade visited Brigade H.Q. about 4.15 p.m., reporting that his Brigade had made no progress and had, in fact, "not left our Front Line"". If such a grossly erroneous interpretation circulated at Brigade level - however fleetingly - it is hardly surprising that Douglas Haig should that same day infamously remark "I am inclined to believe from further reports that few of the VIII Corps left their trenches!!"
Crown copyright: The National Archives. This document may be copied and downloaded for personal and research use only. You must apply to The National Archives for permission for any other use.