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Remembered Today:

54th Brigade assault Glencourse Wood 89 yrs ago today

steve fuller

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Remembering the 7th Bedfords, 11th Royal Fusiliers, 6th Northamptons and 12th Middlesex who assaulted Gencourse Wood this day 89 years ago.

The 7th Bedfords Battalion War Diary:

9-8-17 The day proved fine with a good breeze blowing which helped to dry the ground. Officers and NCOs continued to examine the features of the landscape to be attacked over on the following day. In the evening the weather again appeared threatening but blew up fine during the night. Cap H.DRIVER and Cap O.KINGDON put out the forming up tapes about 10 PM. At 11 PM the leading platoons of B and C companies began to arrive as described in App II [see Appendices]. After receiving tea and rum the platoons were passed forward with guides to their forming up positions.

7th (S) Bn.Bedfordshire Regt. Officers to go into Action

Headquarters Major J.H.Bridcutt D.S.O. Comdg. Officer.

Capt.W.J.W.Colley M.C. Adjutant.

Lieut.H.B.Stewart Lewis Gun Officer.

Lieut.S.R.Chapman Signal Officer.

Capt.J.A.Vlasto (R.A.M.C.) Medical Officer "A" Company

Capt.R.O.Clark O.C.Coy.


2/Lieut.K.H.Bishop. "B" Company

Capt.H.Driver D.S.O. O.C.Coy.

2/Lieut.G.R.Craig. "C" Company

Capt.O.Kingdon O.C.Coy.



2/Lt.S.M.Connor. "D" Company

Capt.J.C.M.Ferguson O.C.Coy.




At 3.30 AM all companies were formed up for the attack timed for 4.35 AM. C company on the right B Company on the left A Company in close support and D Company in reserve under Caps O.KINGDON, H.DRIVER DSO, R.O.CLARK, J.C.M.FERGUSON.

The forming up was carried out in an exceedingly steady manner under considerable enemy artillery and M/G fire and great credit is due to the company commanders for the cool and deliberate manner in which they handled their companies.

At zero hour 4.35 an intense British barrage opened and the battalion moved forward close under its protection. A full account of the glorious manner in which all ranks carried out their duties appears in APP.II

The battalion famous for its fighting spirit in the past eclipsed all former deeds of gallantry, when heavy wire held up the foremost men, those behind stood on lumps of earth and rubbish and fired over the heads of those cutting the wire, seldom have any troops shown such brilliant dash and utter contempt for the Bosch

By 5.13 AM NONNE BOSSCHEN Wood was reached and at the same time all other objectives occupied. Within an hour SAA Lewis gun drums etc had been dispatched to the advanced positions and much consolidation had been carried out.

Very early in the operations the 11th Royal Fusiliers operating on our right and the Queens operating on their right became adversely involved with a Bosch strong point at the N.W. Corner of INVERNESS COPSE and the whole attack on our right became confused and fell back. The Fusiliers fell back from their advanced posts on to a line running along the ridge from the SW Corner of GLENCOURSE WOOD to CLAPHAM JUNCTION.

This change in the situation exposed our right flank and necessitated the partial expenditure of D Company to make a defensive flank which was carried out by cap Ferguson in a quick and clever manner.

Very severe fighting resulted later in the day through the unsatisfactory position in which our troops were placed.

About 5.30 PM the Bosch showed considerable movement and it became evident that a heavy counter attack was imminent: by 6 PM the attack developed and by 7 PM the situation was severe, the Bosch attacking in mass and our own guns shooting desperately short.

This condition lasted till 9 PM by which time although we had lost connection with our advanced posts the main position was still firmly in our hands and the enemy casualties were extremely heavy.

About 8.30 PM the 6th Royal Berks were sent up to relieve our companies and one company of Norfolks took over the strong point at the SW Corner of GLENCOURSE WOOD from which the Fusiliers had previously been relieved by us.

By 2 AM the Regiment had been completely relieved by the Royal Berks and moved back to CHATEAU SEGARD Area No.4.

From: Officer Commanding 7th (S) Battalion Bedfordshire Regt. [Appendix III]. To: Headquarters 54th Infantry Brigade.

In accordance with B.M.465 I have the honour to forward herewith a brief account of the operations undertaken by the 7th (S) Bn.Bedfordshire Regiment on the 10th August 1917 13/8/17 J.H.Bridcutt, Major Comdg 7th (S) Bn.Bedfordshire Regt.

On Y/Z night the Battalion was distributed as follows:

One Company ("D" Coy Company Commander Capt.J.C.M.Ferguson) was holding the battle front, one Company ("A" Coy Company Commander Capt.R.O.Clark) was in close support sheltered in tunnel on MENIN road (about J.13.a.9.3) two Coys ("B" & "C" Companies Commanders Capt.H.Driver & Capt.O.Kingdon respectively) were quartered in the RITZ area (RITZ trenches). Zero was fixed for 4.35 a.m. and all troops were to be in their jumping off position by 3.30 a.m. At about 11.50 p.m. the first platoon of "B" Coy (left assaulting Coy) arrived at a point on the MENIN Road about J13.a.9.3. Here they were checked by two Officers (Capt.W.J.W.Colley, Lieut.H.B.Stewart & the Regtl.Sergt.Major). Each platoon was counted by one Officer. Each man was given a cup of hot tea & Rum as he passed. Each platoon Commander & Sergt. was handed copy of situation map. Each platoon Commander given his guide to conduct him to SURBITON VILLAS. The remaining platoons of the assaulting Companies "B" & "C" arrived at this point at about one or two minutes interval and were checked and passed as already described. A Tape was laid previously from this point to SURBITON VILLAS (this tape was independent of the forming up tapes) along which each platoon moved and could not possibly miss their way.

As each platoon arrived at a spot near SURBITON VILLAS they were met by a platoon guide and the Company Commanders and were conducted to their battle formation - here they laid down in perfect quietness until the first note of the guns sang out. "A" Company (the Company in immediate support) moved from their cover in the MENIN road tunnel by platoons to their place in battle formation, under the same arrangements as the assaulting Companies. "D" Company (already in and holding the line) furnished a covering party (one platoon) who were posted about 150 yards in front of the forming up tapes, pieces of trench which were almost identical to their forming up position afforded this Company protection in case of Bosche barrage being turned on; this they occupied, moving forwards to JARGON trench as previously ordered as the attack went forward.


The arrangements for forming up went without a hitch and at the appointed time (4.35 a.m.) the guns opened and the attack went forward in a most determined manner to the final objective which was reached at 5.13 a.m. Some 100-150 Bosches were in GLENCOURSE WOOD on the Battalion front and two machine guns, these were knocked out & the teams destroyed in such a rapid manner that any organised resistance by the Bosch was at once overcome and most of the Bosch that had not been killed at once cried "KAMERAD" and ran forward into our lines most of them wounded & fearfully frightened. After the objective had been reached battle patrols were sent out & posts established in usual way, along the South Western end of NONNE-BOSSCHEN WOOD as near to the protective barrage as it was safe to get. (i.e. about 200 yards). The Battalion then commenced to consolidate. "A"-"B" + "C" Coys = front line "D" Coy - Reserve Coy = JARGON TRENCH and a Battalion carrying party was sent forward with S.A.A. and Lewis Gun drums etc.

During the day the Bosch made repeated attempts to from up & deliver what appeared to be a counter-attack of some strength, he was prevented time after time from doing sp by rifle and machine gun fire, but owing to the expenditure of S.A.A. and the difficulty of replenishing same, care rose to anxiety and probability of our foremost line & right flank being overcome. At this stage of the operation I considered it advisable if the position was to be held with any degree of certainty it required artillery support in the form of a few shots every few minutes on the only places the Bosch could use to form up under cover from view i.e. NONNE BOSSCHEN, INVERNESS & SOUTH WESTERN portion of POLYGON WOOD. This was suggested over the telephone but so far as could be understood it could not be arranged, consequently it appeared to me & others at the front that it was a question of S.O.S. for Artillery or nothing at all. And this signal was repeatedly seen in the air at various points along the line but no S.O.S. was asked for by the 7th Bedfords until towards the evening when it was too obvious that the Bosch intended to have a final struggle to get back the ground we held, as troops were seen emerging from each of the three woods above mentioned, and a dense cloud of smoke & gas was being sent over which obscured everything from view. At this time I cannot state the exact clock hour the artillery opened and with terrible execution, but the Bosch line came on delivering their attack on the right flank of the Battalion. The advanced posts were either killed or captured, it is impossible to say which, but judging from the very intense barrage which the Bosch rolled over GLENCORSE WOOD they were undoubtedly killed, a certain amount of confusion set in on our right and it was only by firm determination that the strong point at J.14.a.4.2. which I had taken over from the right Battalion (11th Royal Fusiliers) and JARGON TRENCH was held.

When the attack was fully developing reinforcements (two Coys) of the Royal Berkshire Regt arrived and were sent forward to hold our original front line in case the Bosch succeeded in his object to gain the strong point and high ridge STIRLING CASTLE - STRONG POINT J 14.a.4.2. - JARGON TRENCH. The attack however did not materialise and only his advanced line got near the position.

The situation quietened down and the relief of the Battalion by the Royal Berkshire Regt was carried out by 2 A.M. and the Battalion withdrew to CHATEAU SEGARD. Established line handed over was JARGON TRENCH - LADY'S LEG - STRONG POINT J14.a.4.2. Situation of forward posts was somewhat obscure.

It is worthy of record the splendid manner in which the two Coys of the Royal Berkshire Regt came up to reinforce. They had a terrific barrage on the support line through which they travelled without a waver, shells falling into and all round each platoon. Major Longhurst of this Regt. arrived in advance of these two Coys and rendered most valuable assistance in establishing a second line of defence in case of necessity.


1. I venture to think had a fresh Battalion been close at hand when the situation on the right became obscure and pushed in, in attack formation a good deal more ground would have been taken and the Boche routed from his position.

2. Artillery should not cease firing on protected lines until Battalion Commander is satisfied all is well. Artillery ceased on the 10th without any reference to Battalions (at least not to 7th Bedfords). I consider it of great importance that Battalion Commanders should be able to convey to Artillery which fire other than S.O.S. is required.

3. No telephone wire to be laid beyond Brigade HQ as it is used for all kinds of things that hopelessly give away arrangements, and too many other ranks have access to it and the Commanders of the sector having no knowledge of many things happening on the wire unless he or his Adjutant sits by it. The telephone was a nuisance and not the least assistance to the Battalion on the 10th inst.

4. It took from 5 to 6 minutes before the Hun Barrage got really going on our lines, it was severe when it did do so.

5. The 54th Brigade arrangements for ordering up the reserve Coys from RITZ area and the Coys for mopping up was excellent, timing was also extremely good.

6. To avoid any Platoon going astray I placed Battalion Police posts 100-200 yds apart along the ATN track from RITZ area to MENIN road passing point.

7. Our own Artillery inflicted many casualties on our troops by firing very short what appeared to be one 8" gun in particular.

8. The Boche attack was guided by a line of his men at a few paces apart firing very lights, during the advance these were with the first wave.

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