Title - War Diary of the Sheffield City Battalion

Battalion Headquarters consisting of Major A. Plackett, Commanding; Major A. R. Hoette, second-in-Command; Captain & Adjutant N. L. Tunbridge, Lieutenant H. Oxley, Signalling Officer, and other Headquarters' Details arrived at JOHN Copse. All quiet. Nothing seen of "A" & "C" Companies.
1.55amCaptain Clarke reported our own wire cut on our front and tapes laid out in front of our line, vide Battalion Operation Order, No.15, para.2 (a,b,c,d.) Laying of tape completed about 12-30.am. Report sent to Brigade Hdqtrs in DUNMOW.
2.40amThe first and second waves of "A" Coy reported in position in the Assembly trenches. Company Hdqtrs established in the front line near its junction with JORDAN.
3.45amLieut. ELAM reported Battalion in position in the Assembly trenches. Reports not yet received from "B", "C", & "D" Coys, however.
3.50am"D" Coy reported in position.
4.5amEnemy started shelling JOHN COPSE and front line.
4.25amReport sent to 94th Infantry Brigade. Battalion in position in Assembly trenches.
6.0am"C" Company report our own guns firing short on the front line between JOHN & LUKE COPSES causing casualties. Reported to Brigade by runner telephonic communication being cut.
6.30am"C" Coy reported Bays 31 to 38 heavily shelled. 8 killed & 6 wounded -- principally No 12 platoon. Reply sent "Report again at 7-0 am. Nothing can be done at present."
7.0am"C" Coy reported no further casualties, but that our guns had been firing short, and had been hitting our own parapet in the front line. This was reported to Brigade.

NOTES: The Communication trenches i.e., NORTHERN AVENUE, PYLON, & NAIRNE were in an exceedingly bad condition owing to the heavy rain; in places the water was well above the knees. This caused great fatigue to the men and consequently delayed assembly of Battalion in the trenches at least 2½ hours.

The Eastern end of NAIRNE was found to be considerably blown in, but was passable. The front line was badly smashed up throughout its length; also the Traffic trench. COPSE trench was also badly smashed up. MONK & CAMPION were in a bad state, but this was due to the weather rather than to the enemy shelling.

From the outset telephonic communication with the Brigade was cut, and the only means of communication throughout the day was by runner.

The enemy artillery continued shelling heavily from 4.5 am, until the attack commenced. In view of the fact that the enemy artillery became active as soon as it was daylight, it would appear likely that the enemy was warned of the attack by observing gaps cut in our own wire and tapes laid out in No Man's Land, thus obtaining at least three and a half hours warning of the attack.

"A" Company reported no sign of the tape which was laid during the night; it had, apparently, been removed. It served no purpose at all except to give the enemy warning.

The wire in front of our lines had been cut away too much and as the gaps were not staggered, our intention to attack must have been quite obvious to the enemy.

7.20amThe first wave of "A" and "C" proceeded into No Man's Land and laid down about 100 yards in front of our trenches under cover of intense bombardment by Stokes Mortars and Artillery. Casualties were not heavy up to this point.
7.29amSecond wave moved forward and took up a position about 30 yards in rear of the first wave. The third and fourth waves left CAMPION & MONK and advanced in section columns. The enemy started an artillery barrage commencing at MONK and gradually rolling forward to the front line, where it finally settled.
7.30amBarrage lifted from the German front line and first and second waves moved forward to the assault. They were immediately met with very heavy machine gun and rifle fire and artillery barrage. The left half of "C" Coy was wiped out before getting near the German wire, and on the right the few men who reached the wire were unable to get through. As soon as our barrage lifted from their front line, the Germans, who had been sheltering in Dug-outs immediately came out and opened rapid fire with their machine guns. Some were seen to retire to the second and third lines. The enemy fought very well throwing Hand grenades into his own wire.

NOTES: A great many casualties were caused by the enemy's machine guns; in fact the third and fourth waves suffered so heavily that by the time they reached No Man's Land they had lost at least half their strength. Whole sections were wiped out.

The German front line wire was found to be almost intact, particularly on the left.

A few men of both "A" and "C" Coys managed to enter the German trenches on the right of the attack, but in all other parts of the line men were held up, being shot down by the Germans in front of them. The few survivors took shelter in shell holes in front of the German wire and remained there until they could get back under cover of darkness.

The failure of the attack was undoubtedly due to the wire not being sufficiently cut. Had this been cut the enemy's machine guns could have been dealt with by the men who managed to reach the front line. As it was, they could not be reached and there was no means of stopping their fire. Bombers attempted to silence them with grenades but could not reach them - consequently succeeding waves were wiped out and did not arrive at the German wire in any strength.

10.30amMajor Hoette wounded in JOHN COPSE. No reports from Coys yet to hand. Reported to Brigade.
1pmBattalion Hdqtrs moved to MARK COPSE, as JOHN COPSE was full of wounded. Still out of touch with Coys; reported to Brigade.
8.21pmReply sent to BM 41, enquiring as to strength, ammunition, bombs, Lewis guns, &c., in front line: "Strength of Battalion - 10 men unwounded. These are runners and Signallers. Have no Lewis Guns. 3000 S.A.A., 350 Bombs. Lewis pans -- nil."
10pmMessage received from Brigade that we should be relieved by the 13th and 14th S. Battalions, York & Lancaster Regiment, in the front line; the Battalion to withdraw to ROLLAND trench. Hdqtrs withdrew from MARK COPSE at 10-15 am, and was established in a deep sap in ROLLAND. During the night message received from Brigade to say that information had been received that about 150 men of our men had penetrated the enemy front line opposite MARK COPSE, and were still maintaining their position in the German front line. Every endeavour was to be made to get into touch with them and withdraw them.
1.30am to
Two Officer patrols were sent out from MARK COPSE with men borrowed from the 14 Battn, York & Lancaster Regiment. These went out into No Man's Land and approached the German wire. No signs of any fighting were apparent, and wounded men, who were met and brought in, stated that any men left in the trenches, had become casualties and unable to offer further resistance. Patrols consequently withdrew. German machine guns were very active, sweeping No Man's Land and a large number of Very lights were sent up. Lieut. H. Oxley was slightly wounded.

Captain E. G. G. Woolhouse and 2nd Lieut. W. H. Rowlands arrived with 80 1st reinforcements. These joined up in ROLLAND trench with the remainder of the Battalion. The Officers now with the Battalion were: Capt. E. G. G. Woolhouse, Captain & Adjutant N. L. Tunbridge, Lieutenant E. L. Moxey (M G Officer), 2nd Lieut. C. C. Cloud, 2nd Lieut. W. H. Rowlands, also Major A. Plackett & Lieut. H. Oxley.

12 NOONCasualty Return:
Killed in Action: Captain W. A. Colley, Captain W. S. Clark, 2nd Lieut. C. H. Wardill, 2nd Lieutenant E. M. Carr.
Wounded: Major A. R. Hoette, Captain R. E. J. Moore, Lieut. C. H. Woodhouse, Lieut. G. H. J. Ingold, Lieut. F. C. Earl, Lieut. F. W. S. Storry, Lieut. H. W. Pearson.
Missing, Believed wounded: Lieut. C. Elam, 2nd Lieut. P. K. Perkin, 2nd Lieut. A. J. Beal, 2nd Lieut. F. Dinsdale.
Killed, Wounded & Missing: Other Ranks: 468.

LATER: Major A. Plackett and Lieut. H. Oxley, evacuated wounded.
Headquarters removed from ROLLAND to TROSSACHS, owing to there being better dug-out accommodation.

In a Special Order of the Day, Brigadier-General H. C. Rees, D.S.O., prior to handing over the Command of the 94th Infantry Brigade, to Brig.-General T. Carter-Campbell, D.S.O., said:

"In giving up the Command of the 94th Brigade to Brigadier-General T. Carter-Campbell, whose place I have temporarily taken during this great battle, I wish to express to all ranks my admiration of their behaviour. I have been through many battles in this war and nothing more magnificent has come under my notice. The waves went forward as if on a drill parade and I saw no man turn back or falter. I bid good-bye to the remnants of as fine a Brigade as has ever gone into action."
CASUALTIES: Officers as reported yesterday. Other ranks: 468 previously reptd "Killed, wounded & missing", now 21 Missing rejoined unwounded, 67 wounded, 6 killed. Casualty since 1 O.R., -- 373 Missing.

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