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Remembered Today:

1st Battalion., Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) - War Diary


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Hi all,

I have been researching my great grandfather who was KIA on 28/09/1918 whilst serving with the 1st Bn queens Own (RWK)Regt, I have visited the cemetery were his name is inscribed on one of the walls, now I woul like to see what happened to the 1st Bn on the day he died,

Does anyone have a copy of the war diary entry for that day I would be eternally grateful for a copy.

My GG Father was G/21563, PRIVATE William Reed.

Any help would be appreciated

Mick sennett

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Hi Mick i can not help with diary but your Great grand father was one of 5 deaths listed on CWGC for that date one other having no known grave.john

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I dont have the War Diary for Sept 1918 but this extract is taken from the Battalion History Invicta (had to use bullet points or lose formatting):

  • September.—The Division moved into army re­serve for a period, and remained in the area just north of Bapaume until the 13th of September. During this period various drafts of reinforcements joined the Battalion and all spare time was devoted to training, and making preparation for further move­ment forward. The Battalion eventually moved on the afternoon of September 13th, passing through Bapaume, and subsequently took over an area from the 2nd Auckland Battalion, New Zealand Division, about Metz en Couture, immediately south of Havrincourt Wood. Active movement forward by the Corps had not taken place for some days, in order that the advances of the enormous number of troops engaged should be brought up to a comparatively level frontage. Small actions to obtain possession of local points of vantage had been carried out, but no attacks of a serious nature. The Battalion spent two short tours in the line, that had been gained up to date, and for the rest devoted its attention to further training, and the improvement of the bivouac area assigned to it.
  • After a period of rest the Division again took up position in the line, the 13th Brigade being in reserve. On the 25th the Brigade relieved the Brigade in the line, and the Battalion took over the right sector from the 1st Battalion, East Surrey Regiment. All preparations had been made for the continuance of the forward movement, and after twenty-four hours of increased activity an attack was launched by the whole Corps. The objective of the Battalion was African Trench. This was the most forward trench which had been constructed by our troops after the surprise attack towards Cambrai in the previous year. It had been very strongly fortified by the enemy, and had been a cause of many casualties to our troops, who had made several individual battalion attempts to take it. The advance had to be made over a crest, which was swept by machine-gun fire by the enemy, and exposed to machine-gun fire from the high ground above the village of Gouzeaucourt, about 1800 yards eastwards.
  • The 13th Brigade attacked, with the 95th Brigade on its left holding the flank. Troops also attacked on the right of the Battalion, but very little progress was made. The frontage assigned to the Battalion was just over 1000 yards, and with the strength reduced by its previous casualties and the number of machine guns employed by the enemy, the task was too great for it, and indeed also for the other troops engaged, to carry out successfully. Added to these difficulties the enemy had heavily bombarded our support line on the early morning of the 27th, and unfortunately knocked out most of our heavy trench mortars, under cover of a hurricane barrage from which our troops were to attack. Thus the Brigade was deprived of any covering fire, except a light barrage from our field batteries, which was not sufficient to make the enemy take refuge in his dug-outs. He had had ample warning of the operations in progress, for the Divisions to the north had attacked at 5.20 a.m., whereas the 5th Division did not commence until 7.52am., in accordance with the plan of higher command.
  • As soon as our men topped the crest they were met by a withering machine-gun fire, alike from the front and the flanks, where the enemy were holding strong points, constructed from abandoned tanks. The tanks taking part in our attack were ditched and burnt out, and in spite of local reinforcements the Battalion was unable to take its objective. By 11 a.m. the few survivors of the Battalion's attacking companies had dug themselves in in a line of posts, about 200 yards east of the jumping-off line. The troops on the right had got into African Trench, but the Germans were in too great strength and bombed them out again.
  • Enemy artillery fire continued to be heavy against the front and support line until darkness fell. During the night patrols crawled forward and ascertained that the enemy was still holding his position in strength. An attack at 2.15 a.m. on the 28th evidently shook his resolution, for patrols, hearing movement in the enemy trench, went forward to reconnoitre, and found that the enemy was moving eastwards. Eventually the enemy's trench was occupied about daylight, five belated Huns being taken prisoners. Further patrols were immediately sent to follow up the Huns, who were still keeping machine-guns in position to cover the movement of their rear-guard. These patrols were ordered not to advance further east than absolutely necessary to discover the enemy's movements, for the 95th Brigade was assigned the duty of continuing our eastward advance.
  • When this Brigade had passed through our line a thorough search of the field was made, and several wounded were brought in, including two of the Northumberland Fusiliers, the Battalion which had attacked on our right; also five wounded Germans were gathered, who reported that their comrades had retired hastily at 2.30 a.m. This statement was borne out by the condition of their trench. Equipment of every description was littered about everywhere, and ten machine guns in working order, with numerous others which had been rendered unserviceable, were found in the trench, together with numberless rifles, and 300,000 rounds of S.A.A. in boxes, besides that in the machine-gun positions and dug-outs ready for immediate use. The Battalion casualties in the action were heavy, especially taking into consideration the then low effective strength. Lieuts. Hemmerde and Lewin and 2/Lieut. Stevens were killed; 2/Lieuts. Burden, Nott, Luscombe, Thorning, Smith and Bernard, wounded, and of other ranks 59 were killed, 3 died of wounds, 118 were wounded while 10 wounded slightly remained at duty. In addition, 37 were missing at the roll call, and of these 35 were found later, having been collected and taken to hospital wounded, without passing through the Regimental Aid Post Whilst the other Brigades of the Division were performing their allotted task of following up the re­treating enemy, until relieved by other troops, the 13th Brigade remained on the captured ground, and on the 30th the Battalion withdrew into Brigade Reserve and reorganised.

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