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suesalter1

Bedfordshire Regiment

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suesalter1

Okay, must be going mad here, but any idea why I can't find the war diary of the 4th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment on Ancestry? Found it on the National Archives, but have a subscription to Ancestry and they always seem to make it so difficult to find the relevant war diary.

 

Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks.

 

 

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steve fuller

4th Battalions diaries are not the most detailed so you may have to fall back on Brigade diaries for extra details. Give me a nudge if you're after something specific that's missing from the diaries as I may have come across it from other sources over the years.

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suesalter1

Thanks for the hints. Never thought of looking at Brigade reports before. The soldier I am researching died of wounds on the 26th August 1918 where it looks like the 4th Beds were involved in a major attack. For the record, he was Private Leonard Alfred Woods, service no.51334.

 

Sue.

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Stebie9173

If I find the War Diaries on Discovery then I use the piece number, e.g. 3118 and put that into the War Diary keyword box leaving everything else blank. That usually gets me to the right place.

 

Steve.

Edited by Stebie9173

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suesalter1

Good idea,Steve. I'll try that when I'm searching for another one.

 

Sue.

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steve fuller
13 hours ago, suesalter1 said:

Thanks for the hints. Never thought of looking at Brigade reports before. The soldier I am researching died of wounds on the 26th August 1918 where it looks like the 4th Beds were involved in a major attack. For the record, he was Private Leonard Alfred Woods, service no.51334.

 

Sue.

Transcribed from the battalion appendices (apologies for any typo's, I transcribed that battalion many years ago - before I was best friends with spell check - and I have not checked it since):

 

4TH BATTALION BEDFORDSHIRE REGIMENT REPORT ON OPERATIONS AUGUST 20th. - 28th, 1918 inclusive. Reference Sheets 57 D. and 57 C.

1. On the night 20/21 Aug. 1918 the Battalion marched from billets in SOUASTRE to LEEDS TRENCH in L.20 c. and d. Considerable difficulty was experienced in reaching this position in the FONQUEVILLERS [sic] - LA BRAYELLE FARM road was blocked by lorries and a tank. All the Companies were in LEEDS TRENCH by about 4.15 a.m.

2. The Battalion formed up on the East side of LEEDS TRENCH in artillery formations A Coy. on the right, C Coy. on the left. "B" Coy. in the centre, "D" Coy. in support in rear of "B" Coy. The 7th. Bn. Royal Fusiliers were on the left.

3. At 5.25 a.m. the Battalion commenced to move forward behind the 189th Inf. Brigade. A thick fog hung over the ground making it difficult to keep direction. The Battalion marched in artillery formation North of BUCQUOY and South of ABLAINZEVILLE [sic], passed over the enemy front line, and proceeded in S.E. direction to leave LOGEAST WOOD on the North.

4. When the Battalion reached L.9.a., the enemy put down a smoke screen which mingled with the fog and made it impossible to see more than two or three yards ahead. The Battalion became somewhat disorganised in consequence and touch was lost for a time with the leading Brigade. Five tanks came to their assistance and it was arranged that 2 tanks should proceed on the south of the trench running through L.6.c., G.2.e., G.9 and 15, and 3 tanks on the north of the trench. two companies of the Battalion followed the tanks in artillery formation on the north side of the trench and two companies on the south side, in each case one company being in front and one company in support in rear. In this manner it was hoped to keep direction as the trench led to about the centre of that part of the ACHIET-LE-GRAND - MIRAUMONT railway, which formed the objective of the 189th Brigade and from which the 4th Bedfords were to attack their objective.

5. The Battalion proceeded in this manner dealing with any small parties of the enemy who had been left by the leading Brigade, and reached a line about G.2.d.2.3. to G.8.b.0.5. Here it was found that the leading Brigades had not been able owing to the fog to make good the ACHIET-LE-GRAND - MIRAUMONT railway.

6. Orders were received that the 190th Brigade would consolidate a line G.14.a.9.9., G.9.c.0.8., G.3.d.2.2., A.27.d.5.1. The 4th Bedfords consolidated a line from G.9.c.0.8 to G.3.d.2.2. - "A" Coy. on the right front, "C" Coy. on the left front, "D" Coy. in support and "B" Coy. in reserve. The Battalion passed the night in these positions.

7. At about 5.30 a.m. 22/8/18 about 100 enemy were seen leaving huts at about G.9.b.0.8. advancing in a S.W. direction to attack post at about G.9.a.6.2. They were observed by "C" Coy. on the left, fired on and dispersed - 9 dead were counted. At 6.50 a.m. a party of the enemy approached a post at G.9.a.8.1. held by the right company ("A"). They also were driven back. 2/Lieut. FLORY who was in charge of the post was killed. Later in the day strong counter-attacks were made by the enemy on the 7th R. Fus. but were repulsed.

8. On 23/8/18, the 37th Division passed through the line we held to attack the ACHIET-LE-GRAND railway and to take up a position East of BIHUCOURT. The 4th Bedfords were then withdrawn in artillery formation to LEEDS TRENCH, which was reached in the evening.

9. On 24/8/18, the Battalion marched in artillery formation to assembly positions about G.21.b. Here the night was spent. At 5 a.m. 25/8/18 the Battalion proceeded in artillery formation: "D" Coy. on the right with "B" Coy. in support: "C" Coy. on the left with "A" Coy. in support, behind the 1st. Artists who followed the 189th Brigade. The 188th and 189th Brigades were to take LA BARQUE and THILLOY and the 190th Brigade were to pass through them to RIENCOURT. the companies were echeloned in order to protect the right flank.

10. The Battalion proceeded round the South side of LOUPART WOOD and reached the main BAPAUME-ALBERT Road at about M.12.a. The 188th and 189th Brigades had penetrated into LA BARQUE but were held up by M.G. fire. Meanwhile the right flank was exposed and as M.G. fire was coming from that direction, it was decided to form a defensive flank facing S.W. along the line roughly M.12.d.7.7. to M.5.d.7.5. The 1st Artists Rifles held the line from M.12. central to the main road, and the 7th R. Fus. prolonged the line in a North Westerly direction. In the evening attacks were made on the 188th and 189th Brigades, but were repulsed, and the dispositions of the 4th Bedfords remained unchanged. The night was spent in this position.

11. On 26/8/18 the 188th and 189th Brigades attacked THILLOY and LIGNY THILLOY from the sunken road called RED CUT running north and south through N.1.a. and c. and N.7.a. The 4th Bedfords formed up in artillery formation 700 yards behind them ready to follow them. The attacking troops were unable to get forward and the night was spent in these positions

12. At 11 a.m. on 27/8/18, 4th Bedfords assembled in RED CUT to attack THILLOY and LIGNY THILLOY. The 7th R. Fus. were on the left, the boundary running along line from N.1.c.2.3. parallel to grid to N.2.c.3.3. Boundary on south was grid running through N.7.8. and 9. D.Coy. was on the right, "B" Coy. in centre, and "C" Coy. on left each with 3 platoons in front line and 1 in reserve. "A" Coy. in reserve behind "B" Coy.

13. The barrage started at 11 a.m. and lifted forward at 11.3 moving back at the rate of 100 yards every 3 mins. Shells fell into the assembly positions which were thought to come from our own guns firing short. On leaving the sunken road heavy M.G. fire was encountered from the front and the left and especially from the right flank. It had been arranged that 21st. Division would attack on our right, but their attack was cancelled at the last moment and our right flank was thus exposed to extremely heavy M.G. fire from the high ground in M.7.d., M.8.c. and further south.

14. The line was held up and the positions occupied were then roughly a line from about N.1.e.8.2. - N.7.a.9.4. - N.7.a.4.0. No further advance was possible as M.G. fire from THILLOY and the ridges on the right was so heavy. Snipers were very active and claimed many victims.

15. At 6 p.m. after 1 hours bombardment by heavy artillery and preceded by an 18 poundered [sic] barrage the advance was continued again. Just previous to zero one of our heavy shells fell in the midst of the centre Coy. and did much damage. Some of "C" Coy. on the left entered THILLOY and went right through, with their right on the cross roads at about N.2.e.8.0. The left of the centre company was met again by very heavy M.G. fire from the right and was unable to make much progress and the right company was unable to advance at all owing to the same reason. The enemy had a perfect defensive position which commanded the approach from in front and on the right flank.

16. As regards those elements of the left company which passed through THILLOY, the situation is difficult to ascertain. No Officer by this time appears to have been left with the company. The enemy appear to have been surrounding them on the right flank and eventually they withdrew through the village, and back to the sunken road from which the attack had started.

17. Owing to the formation of the ground the only possible defensive line was then the sunken road RED CUT, with posts pushed out to the edge of LA BARQUE. The line joined up with the 7th R. Fus. on the left. The Battalion was in this position when it was relieved during the night by the 8th Manchester Regt. and withdrew to MIRAUMONT.

18. I attribute the failure of the attack to the fact that the right flank was exposed as the Division on our right did not advance. It is possible that the first attack would have been held up in any case from M.G. fire from THILLOY, but I feel certain that if other troops had been pressing on our right and so engaging the M.Gs. on the ridges in M.7.d. and neighbourhood, my right company would have been able to get forward at the second attempt. If the request for tanks to co-operate had been granted the task would have been easy and could have been accomplished by one Battn instead of two.

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steve fuller

Leonard was from Essex so I dont have any newspaper articles to help I'm, afraid.

 

Based on the service number 51334, he would have been drafted in the summer of 1917, possibly July / August but a birth cert. would presumably confirm this. Someone will correct me if I have the dates of the criteria changes to the Military Service Act wrong but I suspect that he would have been called up at age 18.5 given he was 19 when he died?

 

The numbers around his were of men initially in the Training Reserve and a large proportion relate to the 4th Battalion being rebuilt from April 1918 onwards, following their heavy losses during the German Spring Offensives. So in the absence of any solid details, it would appear that he went to France late Spring / early Summer 1918?

 

Attached is an image of Leonard's grave, from a visit some years ago (in case you do not already have one)

WOODS LA 51334.JPG

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suesalter1

Hi Steve,

 

Thanks so much for sending the information from the war diary and the photograph of Leonard's headstone! That was a great surprise. Leonard Woods was my cousin;s uncle, her father's younger brother. The oldest brother, Percy, also died in 1918 (March). He was in the 16th Lancer and has no known grave and commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial,The family are hoping to visit both memorials next year.

 

I will try and find something in the Essex newspapers about their deaths. Although I suppose two brothers dying in the same year wasn't that uncommon,

 

Thanks once again,

Sue.

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steve fuller
On 4/5/2017 at 16:26, suesalter1 said:

Hi Steve,

 

Thanks so much for sending the information from the war diary and the photograph of Leonard's headstone! That was a great surprise. Leonard Woods was my cousin;s uncle, her father's younger brother. The oldest brother, Percy, also died in 1918 (March). He was in the 16th Lancer and has no known grave and commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial,The family are hoping to visit both memorials next year.

 

I will try and find something in the Essex newspapers about their deaths. Although I suppose two brothers dying in the same year wasn't that uncommon,

 

Thanks once again,

Sue.

Pleasure Sue :) 

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