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West Yorkshire Regiment (2nd Battalion)


JustinL

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The 2nd West Yorks were in the trenches near La Boisselle on the right of the 2nd Middlesex between 4th and 9th April 1916.

Can anyone please tell me whether anything of note happened in those 5 days?

Was anything reported in a war diary or mentioned in a regimental history?

Cheers,

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justin.

2nd April, the battalion marched to Albert, the troops being "very fit and marching well". On the 4th, Battalion left Albert and relieved the 2nd KOYLI and 11th Border Regiment in the trenches east of Becourt. First entry in War Diary states;

"Trenches, 5th April; Found a different enemy to the quieter V11 Bavarians to whom we were accustomed in the Sailly area. Enemy very active with rifle grenades (time fuses) canisters and trench mortars. Very little material protection was found available and it was two days before any rifle grenades could be obtained. The supply became more regular after the second night and vigorous retaliation was carried out, with rifle grenades chiefly. Two trench mortars were brought into the line last night (8th). The Battalion was not accustomed to such activity.

The work was of a very different nature to the old breastwork-deep chalk trenches, making digging difficult, and the burst of a shell more widely felt. The wire in front of the trenches was very old and scarce, and the enemy had the upper hand certainly in the siting of trenches. The left Company (D) had a bad time, there being several large mine-craters immediatly in front of an occupied almost indiscernable front line. Deep dug-outs holding as many as thirty men were near to us, and the cooking was done in Trench Headquarters".

Battalion was relieved on the 9th.

Regards, Chris.

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Chris,

Thanks very much.

That is a much better discription of the conditions. Does the diary give a reference for trenches? Becourt is a good two miles south of La Boisselle. The 8th division must have been holding a long section of the front.

Were there any casualties as a result of this activity?

Cheers,

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Hi Justin.

I should have mentioned in my original posting the source of the information was an extract from the Regiments History by Wyrall.

As regards location of the Battalion, i had a look at the War Diary a number of years ago, but unfortunately did not take any notes. However, if memory serves me correct, the battalion was occupying trenches near to, or just south of the Glory Hole, maybe the refernce to Mine Craters, if that is what they truly are? Maybe someone can confirm this?

Interestingly enough, there is a reference to this period in General Jacks Diary;

"My bed chamber is a solitary dug-out hewed eight foot deep in the chalk near the point of Chapes Spur, an eerie residence, like a sepulchre, dark as the grave save for the flicker from a candle whose beams dimly light up the ghostly white walls. A rough bed frame, a small table and chair from Becourt Chateau make up the furniture".

Another reference relates to the offensive spirit of the Battalion;

" I have gained the opinion that the troops formerly here have allowed the Germans to get the upper hand too easily. One must always hit back as hard and as often as one can; to do less is to invite the bullying to continue".

In the Regiments History, there is a reference to the Battalion forming a permanent Raiding Party comprising of two Officers and sixty-two O/Rs.

As regards casualties during the period, SDGW gives 7 O/Rs (3 dying of wounds).

Hope that is of some help Justin.

Regards, Chris.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Chris,

I don't think I thanked you for last post. In truth, I have only just noticed it. Oops!

Every little bit helps to form a more complete picture.

Thanks again.

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They were relieved on 9 April by the 1st Royal Irish Rifles who then hand over a portion on their left to the 2nd R Berkshires. 1 RIR were then heavily raided on 11th. James Taylor's history of the battalion gives a good description of the area that they take over and an account of the raid with a map. I can email you extracts if you wish.

The sector was directly opposite the Schwaben Höhe, i.e. where the Lochnagar Crater now lies, to the right of the mine craters of the Glory Hole.

The British later captured the German orders & reports of the raid (which Taylor doesn't seem to have used) and these were reprinted as SS 462.

Regards

Simon

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Simon,

Thanks for the offer. The map and description of the area would be very interesting, although I think the RIR must have been in the trenches in square X20, somewhat further south than the 2nd Midd'x had been until the 9th.

What is SS 462?

Rgds,

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Simon,

Thanks for the offer. The map and description of the area would be very interesting, although I think the RIR must have been in the trenches in square X20, somewhat further south than the 2nd Midd'x had been until the 9th.

What is SS 462?

Rgds,

Justin

I'll send you a personal message about the map & info from the history of the 1st RIR as I don't think I should post it on account of the copyright.

SS 462 is the pamphlet issued by the General Staff titled '(Translation of a German document) German Raid on the British Trenches near La Boisselle, 11th April, 1916'.

SS stands for Stationery Service and the manuals & instructions were numbered.

regards

Simon

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