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Remembered Today:

Pte John KELLY 6th Wilts


Owen D
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KELLY John

Born. St. Michael and John's,Co. Dublin

Enlisted. Dublin.

Lived. Dublin.

22782 6th Wilts

K in A ,F &F 10/4/18.

Formerly 24934 Royal Irish Fusilers.

Name: KELLY, JOHN

Initials: J

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Private

Regiment: Wiltshire Regiment

Unit Text: 6th Bn.

Date of Death: 10/04/1918

Service No: 27782

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 119 to 120.

Memorial: TYNE COT MEMORIAL

(War Diary was not filled in until 25/4/18.http://www.thewardrobe.org.uk/wardiary.php...nth=4&year=1918)

6th Wiltshire Thursday 25th April 1918 Belgium, In the Trenches

H.Q. 58th Inf. Bde

April 1918

Herewith Narrative of Events from 10th April - 20th April during operations near WYTSCHAETE.

N.W. HOUSE Major

6th Wilts. Regt.

April 25 1918

6th Wiltshire Yeomanry Battn.

The Wiltshire Regt.

Narrative of event during the operations from April 10th - April 20th 1918

On the night of the 9/10th April the Battn. was holding a subsector of the trenches east of the MESSINES - WYTSCHAETE ridge - with its right on the WAMBEKE & its left on JUNCTION BUILDINGS (exclusive). The front was held by two Coys. (A & B) which were distributed in depth - each with two platoons in the front line of posts & 1 strong platoon in support. C & D Coys. Were in reserve about 2000 yds. Behind the front line.

About 3.30a.m. fairly heavy shelling on the whole subsector began consisting of H.E. & gas shells. This continued practically without intermission the whole day though no gas shells fell after about 5.30a.m.

About 6.a.m. the shelling which was much heavier on the subsector of the Battalion on our right reached a climax, and the enemy under cover of a very thick "scotch mist" attacked the 57th Bde. On the right & apparently forced its centre Battn. back on to its reserve line. The left Bn. Of the 57th Bde. (the 10th Warwick R.) thereby had its right flank turned & the success of the attack was so sudden that a portion of the Warwicks were forced to fall back in a northerly direction on to our right flank - the WAMBEKE formed the natural boundary between the 57th & 58th Bdes. - & just North of it ran a long duck-boarded but shallow Communication trench. MANCHESTER ST. between VERNE RD. & GUN farm was a system of flooded shallow trenches, which "C" Coy. Occupied at once to form a defensive position, while half the support platoon of B Coy. was utilized with any parties of the 10th WARWICK R. which came across the BEKE to man MANCHESTER ST. as a long defensive flank.

The 4th Coy. (D Coy) was used to stiffen up the defence of the right flank of the Bde. which was so dangerously exposed.

The whole Bn. Subsector was subjected to heavy shelling and a large part of it to M.G. & rifle fire throughout the day, the M.G. & rifle fire coming from the high ground South of WAMBEKE round ANZAC FARM.

The Bn. maintained its position everywhere until 4.30p.m. that afternoon. At 3.30p.m. the enemy was massing 2000 yds. east of our front line - & a frontal attack developed, but was unable to materialise owing to our vigorous Lewis & gun rifle fire.

At 4.30p.m. orders were received by the Battn. on our left (9th R.W.F.) to evacuate the front line of posts; & as this order emanated from Bde. the front line held by this Bn. was also abandoned, although the order for this to be done never reached the front line from our Bn. H.Q. A strong position was then taken up by the two front Coys on a line of supporting points. The enemy advanced about 5.30p.m. to our original front line, but was unable to approach nearer than 600 or 800 yds. owing to our active Lewis gun & rifle fire.

About 6p.m. the enemy organised strong attacks on our right & left flanks - The order to withdraw on to the Reserve Line never reached the front line Coys. so our position on the support line were held until the enemy had completely surrounded the two front line Coy. A few elements of which, only, managed to work through to our own lines.

The reserve Coys. Which had been heavily engaged on the right flank, fell back fighting on to the high ground WEST of COSTAVERNE. Battn. H.Q. Coy. which was utilised in an attempt to strengthen the right rear was also engaged heavily in fighting in which the C.O. Major Monreal was mortally wounded & the 2nd in Command Capt. Garthwaite wounded.

During the night the survivors of the battn. rallied on portions of the front between the DAMMSTRASSE & WYTSCHAETE. 75 stragglers were collected & sent up to GRAND BOIS, where Capt. Rentoul had established Bn. H.Q. The remainder of the day was spent in collecting & re-organising the Battn.

On the 12th April the Bn. was withdrawn to ROSSIGNOL CAMP near KEMMEL.

270 Reinforcements were waiting here & the Battn. was re-organised mustering 450 strong - and moved to BABADOS camp via CLYTTE for the night.

At 10.30a.m the next day orders were received to stand by ready to move & a quarter of an hour later the Battn. was ordered to march to a position of readiness between LA CLYTTE & KEMMEL east of the main road. At 12 noon C.Os were warned that the Bde. would take over the lines that night from the S. African Bde. Details of the relief could not be given until 4.30p.m. at the S. Africans Bde. H.Q. & then were very complicated. The Bn. Was to take over from 4 units - a portion of the 4th S. African Bn. the whole of the 1st S. African Bn. 2 Coys. of the 10th R. Warwicks R. & 1 Coy. of the S.W.B. The front of it was to take over was about 800 yds. & included the extremely important high ground at the SPANBROEK - MOLEN CRATER.

The Bn. marched up from its position of readiness and although all companies were in position by 3a.m, the relief was not reported complete till 6.a.m.

The Bn. was disposed as follows from left to right -

A Coy. two platoons, front line One support east of SPAENBROEK MOLEN CRATER.

B. C. & D Coys each two platoons in front line & one in support from left to right.

On the right of D Coy. were the 12th R.I.R. and on the left of A Coy. were the 9th R.W.F.

Bn. H.Q. were 300 yards in rear of the front line just W. of SPANBROEK MOLEN CRATER.

The 14th April was an abnormally quiet day; the enemy Artillery was more or less inactive except on the area round Bn. H.Q. which later moved to REGENT ST. DUG OUTS. N29.c.central.

On the night of the 14th it was decided that the dispositions of the Bn. required adjustment - It was decided to push up the whole of A & D Coys into the front line & withdraw the whole of B & C Coys. into support, B on the left C on the right, covering A & D respectively.

In addition to ensure the security of SPANBROEK MOLEN this G.O.C. placed 1 Coy. of the 9th Welch at the disposal of O.C. 6th Wilts R. The O.C. this Coy. (B Coy) was accordingly ordered to send 1 platoon to be in close support to A Coy. just east of the CRATER, and place the remainder of his Company in a position S. West of the CRATER from which it would be ready to launch an immediate counter attack against the high ground should this be lost, or reinforce the front lines.

These alterations in the dispositions of the Battn. were carried out during the night of the 14th/15th.

At dawn on the 15th the enemy opened a heavy H.E. barrage on the whole subsector particularly along support line, and in the area round REGENT ST DUG OUTS.

About 5.45a.m the S.O.S. went up on the left Coy. front. The enemy were attacking on the right Coy. front and on the front of the battn. On our right.

The attack failed to reach our front line, but the enemy succeeded in penetrating the front of the 12th R.I.R. who were at the time attempting to carry out a withdrawal, using their left flank as a pivot - The enemy occupied R.E. & SHELL FARMS and made it necessary, first for half of C. Coy. to move up & occupy a line, running approximately E. & W. North of SHELL farm and secondly for D Coy. in order to safeguard its right flank, to bend its right back on to the left of the C. Coy's front line.

The line therefore was intact, though thinly held; enemy snipers and machine guns were extremely active, & being close, hindered movement & the organisation of our new front on the Southern flank.

On the remainder of the Battn. front enemy movement was vigorously checked by snipers & Lewis guns - In spite of very heavy shelling in the earlier part of the day, casualties on the left half of the front were slight.

As the line was so thinly held on right, it was decided to dribble 1 platoon of B. Coy of the 9th Welch up into the front line held by C & D Coys. And to move 1 platoon up into support behind D Coy's left . This was successfully done.

That night orders were received to withdraw from the front line South of the SPANBROEK MOLEN CRATER - this meant that the line occupied by three Coys. B. C. & D was to be evacuated, while that held by A. Coy was to be handed over to the 62nd Bde. Att. 9th Division.

This Coy. Which consisted of about 120 men (including the supporting platoon of B. Coy, 9th Welch) handed over the line to 19 men of the 1/7th West Yorks and it was due to this severe weakening of the garrison of such important ground that the crater was lost the next day (16th inst.)

During the night of the 15th/16th the Battn. withdrew without molestation, according to the orders outlined above - At dawn it was taking up positions astride the KEMMEL - WYTSCHAETE road, just E. of PARRAIN FARM where Bn. H.Q. were established. The Battn. was here in support to the 9th Welch who were holding the line from a point just S. of SPANBROEKMOLEN CRATER to SPY FARM.

B Coy. was ordered to dig a series of posts in the N.E. corner of N.28.b and A. C. & D Coys. were distributed in partly dug positions over the area N. & S. of PARRAIN FARM.

The Battn. remained in these positions for two days - during which time SPANBROEKMOLEN was lost.

On the night of the 17th/18th the Battn. relieved the 9th Welch and elements of the 5th S.W.B. in the front line - which ran from the X roads N.29.w.2.5. South to N.29.d.2.8. - thence W. to N.28.d.5.6.

This line was taken over with three Coys. In the front line (A. B. D. from left to right) and 1 Coy. In support just South of STONE FM. (C. Coy) - the line was nowhere continuous but touch was maintained everywhere. The day was quiet (18th April) until 1.30p.m. when the enemy started to shell the support line fairly heavily, and the front line intermittently.

The French had, at about 6p.m the night before , attempted to advance & capture SPANBROEKMOLEN. This was unsuccessful, although elements of the 22nd Division reached the western edge of the crater - A number of French troops remained in our front line throughout the following day (April 18th) and apparently it was owing to some movement in the French advanced trenches West of the CRATER that the enemy put down this heavy barrage at 1.30p.m. It lasted till 5.30p.m. when the French withdrew from their advanced line & the enemy followed - Our left Coy put up the S.O.S. and the Artillery opened on their S.O.S. lines. At the same time the enemy who had been advancing with difficulty under our L.G. & rifle fire (which was slightly hampered by the French on their retirement) apparently decided to advanced no further.

He was then about 300 yards away and opened heavy M.G. fire on our trenches, sweeping the parapets of the front & support lines. However soon afterwards the situation quietened down completely.

The whole operation on the afternoon of the 18th seemed in the nature of a demonstration more than anything else; the enemy were nowhere in large numbers, & I fancy that movement on the part of the French in their front trenches was largely responsible for the liveliness during the latter part of the day.

On the night of the 18th/19th the Bn. was relieved by the 22nd French Divn. & on relief moved to billets near ABEELE via LA CLYTTE & RENINGHELST, where they arrived about 9.30a.m.

H.W. HOUSE Major

Commdg 6th Wilts R.

25.4.1918

Appendix

APPROXIMATE CASUALTIES to the 6th Wilts R. between the 10th April & 20th April 1918 -

1. No. going into the line on the night of the 7th/8th April ;- 11 Officers. 580 Other ranks.

2. No. coming out of the line 12th April - 5 Officers. 175 Other ranks.

Reinforcements & attachments 5 Officers. 270 Other ranks.

3. No. going into the line on the night of the 13th April - 10 Officer. 380 Other ranks.

4. No. coming out of the line on the night of the 18th/19th April - 4 Officers. 250 Other Ranks.

H.W. HOUSE Major

Commdg 6th Wilts R.

April 25th 1918

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