Title - Account of the Attack on Serre, 1st July 1916 by Lt.-Col. Arthur Wilmot Rickman

Arthur Wilmot Rickman Lt.-Col. Arthur Wilmot Rickman D.S.O. and Bar served with the Northumberland Fusiliers from 1897 until 1909 when he retired to the Special Reserve. He assumed command of the 11th East Lancashire Regt. (Accrington Pals) on 1st March 1915 and - excepting periods when he was either recovering from wounds or acting as temporary brigade commander - he remained with the battalion until March 1919. On 1st July 1916 he was knocked unconscious by a shell which burst nearby. He died aged 51 in 1925. This is his account of the attack on Serre.

Left: Arthur Wilmot Rickman. Photograph courtesy of his grand-daughter, Bindy Wollen.

The 11th East Lancashire Regt. marched off according to timetable along the prescribed Route at 7.pm. 30.VI.16 and reached Courcelles at 8.30pm. where tea was served to the men.
9.40pm.After synchronising watches at 9.30pm. the head of the column left Courcelles at 9.45pm. and marched as directed to Central Avenue. The trench was in a very bad state and over the knee deep in mud which had become glutinous -
As the Fork in Central Avenue had not been reached by 12.20am. - I proceeded to the head of the 2nd wave and ordered them to go overland - I reported this to 94th Brigade at entrance to Central Avenue - After coming to the batteries the regiment had to proceed in the trenches owing to the batteries firing - I reached with the head of the Column the front line system of trenches at 2.40am. - where I found that orders had been issued by Higher Command that Sap D & Sap C were not to be occupied by any troops - Accordingly I had to make fresh dispositions for the accommodation of my first wave - I accommodated No. I & II Platoon W Company between Warley Avenue and 29A93 No. 5 & 6 platoons X Company between this point & Mark Copse inclusive - in the positions from which the 1st wave would start - They were accommodated in partially blown in fire bays & Traffic Trench, the wave being under command of Capt. Tough. The 2nd wave was under command of Capt. Livesey and was accommodated in Copse Trench - The 3rd wave under 2/Lt. Williams in Campion. 4th wave in Monk under Capt. Riley. Head Quarters at mouth of Sap C - During the night and early morning there was a constant bombardment. Attention was paid to Rob Roy and the Front Line.
7.20am.At 7.20am. the hurricane bombardment opened and the first wave crossed into No Mans Land - The Germans opened almost immediately with MG & Rifle fire putting on a few minutes later an intense barrage -
7.22am.The 2nd wave proceeded to follow the 1st wave into No Mans Land.
7.23am.Two platoons 13th Y&L crossed following my 2nd wave.
7.29am.I saw my 3rd & 4th waves advancing from Campion & Monk respectively -
By this time there was intense Rifle, MG Fire and a very heavy barrage of artillery Fire.
They crossed into No Mans Land crossing the front line about 7.32am.
7.39am.I reported by runner via Mark Copse 1st two waves crossed according to timetable.
Heavy MG & Rifle Fire still coming from German 1st line. Intense Fire of all description.
7.42am.I reported by runner intense fire of all description.
7.50am.I reported by runner all four waves have gone forward - MG fire still coming from the North. Report from Lt. GAY. Left platoon through 1st line. Lt. Gay wounded.
MG Fire much less intense -
I sent Lt. Macalpine to establish telephone communication between Mark Copse & my HQ - Lt. Macalpine returned & informed me all communication was cut & it was not re-established all day -
8.10am.I reported MG fire still coming from the North traversing from beyond Mark Copse over Sap C.
Capt. Gurney 13th Y&L arrived with only 9 men in his two platoons.
I further reported I could see odd groups in my front believed to be wounded.
Also that I could not see any of my waves.
No further Report from waves.
Heavy artillery Barrage on front line.

Machine gun fire still coming from direction of Mark Copse.
Heavy artillery Barrage front line.
No information from my waves.

R.7. line not entered about 8.55.
Very little Rifle fire to my front. Heavy MG fire still coming from my left over Mark Copse. And now & then a burst from right.
No information from my waves.

9.am.Report from Corpl. Rigby wounded, belonging to 1st wave states that only 7 of his platoon got into 1st Line.
They held it for about 20 minutes - Bombing Germans back till Bombs were exhausted. Capt. Livesey was with Corp. Rigby & was wounded.
Corpl. Rigby saw remains of 2nd wave in front of our barbed wire.
Germans still holding out.
Saw no sign of 3rd or 4th wave.
Heavy Barrage on front line.
Capt. Currin 13th Y&L reported arrived.
Capt. Smith 13th Y&L was informed was going forward to 2nd Line German trenches.
10.1am.No Report from my waves - Excema heavily shelled - Capt. Roberts RAMC wounded. Message from O.C. 13th Y&L that C Company 13th Y&L - Capt. Currin - was going forward to occupy German 1st line trenches.
Heavy barrage front line trenches. MG fire from Right.
Capt. Currin is putting his company into front line from Matthew Copse to Sap C.
10 wounded men 11th E.L. have returned & they state Front line still in German hands.
11.25am.No information from my waves.
Pte. Glover - 1st wave - observer Capt. Livesey states 1st wave encountered heavy MG, Rifle & Grenades & Bombs & artillery fire in crossing No Mans land.
Capt. Livesey 1st wave with remnants of 2nd wave. Together with 3rd wave charged German trenches led by Capt. Livesey.
Lt. Thompson also entered German trenches.
Lt. Ashwell wounded.
Between 1st & 2nd Line German Trenches Capt. Livesey sent back a message for reinforcement - This never reached me - Capt. Currin is holding from Matthew Copse to Sap C. 18th W Yorks probing his line to the South.
A number of wounded in Sap C & in Excema. Field Dressings urgently required.
11.50am.Capt. & Adjt. Peltzer & Lt. Ryden wounded. Lt. Ryden remained on duty.
No reports from my waves except statements of wounded men.
I asked for reinforcement of one Company as only a few of Capt. Currin's party arrived. Was promised Company HXQ - They never arrived.
12.noon.I proceeded to put Front Line in state of defence as far as possible against counter attack - Sap C which had been opened up was blocked by bomb stops. I asked Staff Capt. for supply of bombs which arrived later.
3.10pm.The Trench Mortars 92nd Brigade occupying Sap C were withdrawn and put in emplacements on right & left of Sap C. I went along my whole front line and reported there were very few bays defensible - Men mostly driven out of them and are located in Excema. 93rd Brigade have withdrawn their men and I have only left 1 officer & 25 other ranks of my own Regiment available. 2 Stokes guns in position and details of KOYLI & Capt. Currin & Capt. Gurney and about 30 men 13th Y&L. 12th Y&L HQ are in Mark Copse & have no one except their HQ and that they are not in touch with any of their waves. I am holding Mine head by means of Bomb Stops.
Very intense Bombardment of my front line - All posts driven in by artillery fire - Men accommodated in Excema.
Urgently require more men.
Bombardment still intense especially from Rossignol.
Lt. Ryden severely wounded.
R.19.I have 55 men in all, some of whom are wounded. 2 Lewis guns only. Two men to work them one of whom wounded - Pans filled by officers servants.
I beg to report that at 9.20pm. I saw 2 Germans removing our wounded back to their Lines from No Mans Land. As regards numbers I have at present 50 men including Stokes mortars & HQ HLR. I have also 1 officer & 25 men 18th West Yorks holding 3 posts in 93 area, 1 & 2 posts opposite Warley Ave. Then there is a gap until you come to Capt. Gurney who holds 4 posts immediately s. of Sap C. I have one post between Sap C & Mark Copse.
There are no Lewis or MG in line.
I am getting the wounded evacuated as soon as possible but there are a good number yet to be attended to.
I have 5 Red Rockets at Sap C & 12th Y&L have their Rockets but I have no rockets at Warley or any Very Lights or pistols.
The men are a good deal Rattled and have very few NCOs.
Just completed inspection, SOS Rockets in position.
9.40pm.Here I was knocked out by Shell.

Rickman Lt-Col.
11th East Lancs Regt.

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