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2nd Royal Sussex


Michelle Young

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Do any of you know the whereabouts of the 2nd Royal Sussex in the first 2 weeks of August 1916 please?

Very many thanks, Michelle

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Michelle

They were in training at Henencourt from the 31st July until the 13th August, then to Becourt Wood on the 13th and to High Wood on the 14th.

Sue

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Thanks Sue

Regards Michelle

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Interestingly, nine men were listed as 'killed in action' on 7th August, all 9*** numbered men, a lot of whom seem to have been highly probably Derby Scheme men. Some of these would have only joined the Bn in the July.

In fact all of the 2nd Sussex men who were killed in that period ( 1 Sgt on 1st; 1 Sgt on 4th; 1 Private on 5th and 2 on 6th) less for the Sgt who was classed a 'Died' are listed as 'Killed in action' - funny since they were in training at the time? No doubt night training and wood fighting (as the battalion were practicing) could have caused these casualties in training accidents, but wouldn't they have been listed as 'Died'?

9 men killed - grenade accident?

War diary mentions nothing about casualties

Jim

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Morning

Here is a bit of the WD

14th August
BECOURT WOOD TO HIGH WOOD [Firing Line]

About 1 pm. the Battn. marched off from BECOURT WOOD and proceeded via MAMETZ WOOD to HIGH WOOD. We relieved the 11th Suffolk in the Firing Line, the situation was then quiet. At night, about 11pm. the Enemy shelled our trenches in reply to our artillery bombardment and we suffered several casualties. The 1st Brigade was on our left and the 1st Middlesex [33rd Division] on our right.

15th August
HIGH WOOD

Our batteries remained very active throughout the day, the German guns replied with occasional shelling. About 9.30 pm. a Patrol was sent to report upon the western portion of the trench running S.W. from HIGH WOOD. At midnight the Patrol reported the line not wired and attack feasible. About 2.30 am. ‘B’ Coy. on the right, and one Company Northamptons on the left, moved out. There was no artillery preparation and the enterprise was unsuccessful principally owing to loss of direction. Lieutenant Collins killed and some 30 other ranks casualties.

16th August
HIGH WOOD

Some shelling during the day. It was further decided to again attack the German position but with 2 Coys. R. Sussex and 2 Coys. 1st Northants. This time, moving forward at 10 pm. under an intense bombardment, the trench was occupied with few casualties, and some 12 prisoners unwounded, were taken by the 2 Coys.

17th August
HIGH WOOD to MAMETZ WOOD

Towards morning the Germans made a determined counter-attack with a Flamenwerfer and hand grenades. Considerable confusion ensued; 2/Lieut. Atkinson was killed and 2/Lieuts. Sainton and Johnson having been wounded earlier in the evening, 2/Lt. Wright was the sole officer left and managed to maintain himself with a small party in the captured trench. the Enemy bombarded all day and about 8 pm. the Loyal North Lancs. began to relieve the Battalion which now moved into Brigade reserve in MAMETZ WOOD.

18th August
MAMETZ WOOD

Battalion in reserve in the wood. Situation in our direction was quiet. In the afternoon our batteries opened a heavy bombardment which lasted about ½ an hour. Our troops [1st Division] met with success and captured several important trenches, in the subsequent attack in the direction of HIGH WOOD and the ‘SWITCH’. Working parties and carrying parties were found in the evening.

19th August
MAMETZ WOOD to HIGH WOOD

Battalion remained in the Wood all morning. In the afternoon the K.R.R. Corps moved up to the firing line and relieved the L.N. Lancs. who had lost rather heavily in the previous days attack. Fighting was very severe in the vicinity of HIGH WOOD where the Germans were very active pushing forward bombing parties. Our ‘A’ and ‘D’ Coys. moved to support the Northants who had occupied the high ground West of HIGH WOOD.

20th August
HIGH WOOD

In the early morning we received orders that the Battn. would be relieved about 2 pm., and proceed to billets in ALBERT; this order was however cancelled about 1 pm. and the two remaining Coys. in MAMETZ WOOD ‘B’ and ‘C’ moved up to reinforce the firing line immediately, under 2/Lieuts. CHAD & YOUNG. About 8 am. the Germans with strong forces had moved against the Northants advanced line and driven it back. The Northants counter attacked from CLARKS TRENCH [captured on the night of 16th/17th] and ‘D’ Coy. was moved forward from the original British front line to CLARKS TRENCH, where later ‘A’ Coy. joined it. The previous attack having failed, ‘A’ and ‘D’ with ‘B’ and ‘C’ who had now come up, and one Coy. Northants attacked at 2.30 pm. Enfiladed from the West [sWITCH LINE] and from HIGH WOOD on the East by machine guns and meeting a very strong resistance in front, but little headway was made though a strong post was established by 2/Lieut. Roberts near the crest of the hill and this with the rest of the line was handed over to the 2/Welch and the Battn. having withdrawn, reorganised S. of MAMETZ WOOD and moved into billets in ALBERT about 3 am. Although the situation had quietened down whilst battalion was being relieved, the Germans shelled MAMETZ WOOD with gas shells and continued to do so throughout the night, but we were fortunate in suffering no casualties through the gas. The Fighting Strength of the Battn. on coming our was 4 Officers and about 150 O.Rs. Our casualties for the previous 7 days attacks, although heavy, were justified by the successes gained and the excellent work carried out. The following message was received by the G.O.C. 2nd Brigade.

Regards,

Graeme

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Thanks Graeme

Michelle

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Michelle drew my attention to this.

The row of 2nd Bn Royal Sussex Regiment graves at Bois Grenier are from a draft of men who got to the IBD and were initially allocated to 2nd Bn. They were then all sent to join 8th Bn East Surrey Regiment, part of 18th (Eastern) Division, who after heavy losses on the Somme needed replacements and were sent to Bois Grenier as it was a 'quiet' sector. Very soon after arrival the companies the draft was sent to were raided by the Germans and a significant number killed, wounded and even taken prisoner. Their records still showed them as 2nd Royal Sussex and were never updated. So they are all shown in Soldiers Died, MICs etc at Royal Sussex. I only found out the truth behind this as I have medals to two of the men who died in this incident and I looked them up on the contemporary 2nd Bn Roll at the WSRO in Chichester which mentions the attachment; the only source to do so.

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Morning Paul,

That is brilliant information, thank you for passing onto us. I'm looking at a couple of local fallen 8th East Surrey men at the moment, one transferred from 14th Bn RSR (among others with 5*** numbers) and one from 3rd (with a 9*** number, like these men), look like Derby Scheme men to me from my limited knowledge, joining the Scheme in Nov/Dec 1915 and being mobilised the following March, does that fit in with you?

Thanks again, fascinating

All the best, Jim

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Chums, which Bois Grenier cemetery are the nine in? My friend Jack is a local historian in nearby Erquinghem-Lys and I like to let him know about any interesting postings about his manor so to speak. I'm hoping to go over in the not too distant future and I can maybe photograph the row.

Pete.

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Brewery Orchard Pete, I hadn't been there for years.

Michelle

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Brewery Orchard Pete, I hadn't been there for years.

Michelle

Thanks Michelle; I'll let Jack know about Paul's discovery and make a mental note to go and have a look when I drop in on him next time. Jack likes little mysteries; in Erquinghem-Lys Communal Extension outside his museum there is an unknown Russian. I have his explanation of how he came to be there but it's in French and I've been meaning to run it through the translator. This is my opportunity.

Pete.

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