Nieppe Forest, 7th / 8th August 1918
“Early in August, 1918, the 61st relieved the 5th Division in front of the Nieppe Forest. Minor attacks had already cleared the enemy from the eastern fringe of the forest and driven him back towards Neuf Berquin and Merville. At 7 p.m. on August 7 A and B Companies attacked and captured the trenches opposite to them, causing the enemy to retire behind the Plate Becque, a stream as wide as the Cherwell at Islip but far less attractive. We had a dozen casualties in this attack, which was rewarded by half as many German prisoners and a machine-gun. Sergeant Ravenscroft, of B Company, for an able exploit during the advance, received the D.C.M.
Already the Forest of Nieppe had become notorious for German gas. It was now a nightly programme of the enemy to drench the wood, which was low-lying and infested with pools and undergrowth, with his noxious ‘ Yellow Cross ‘ shells whose poisonous fumes bore the flavour of mustard.
Throughout the night of August 7/8, when things generally were very active, a heavy gas-bombardment was kept up. The Colonel was away from his headquarters at the time. He returned after the shelling to find that gas helmets had been taken off. No harm was expected, but the next day, after the sun’s heat had awakened dormant fumes, the Colonel, Symonds (the adjutant), Kirk, who had brought up the rations, and Cubbage, as well as the Regimental Sergeant -Major and many signallers and runners, all found that they were gassed. Their loss was serious. It was known that Wetherall would soon have to leave the Battalion, for he had been appointed to a command in the Machine Gun Corps; indeed already his successor, Colonel Woulfe-Flanagan, had arrived to take his place. Under the present unlucky auspices (for more than half Headquarters were knocked out) the interchange took place.”
From the War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire
Wednesday 7th August 1918, France, Nieppe Forest
Quiet day in Reserve Line. Considerable shelling at night. 2/Lt THORN killed.
Thursday 8th August 1918, France, Nieppe Forest
Quiet day in Reserve Line.