1917, JUNE 6th – RELIEVED THE 2/4th ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT IN THE FRONT LINE TRENCHES SOUTH EAST OF MONCHY-LE-PREUX
Relieved 2/4th R. Berks in the front-line trenches (Monchy); A Company, left front; C, right front; B and D, in support; 3 men wounded.
From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry by Captain G. K. Rose M.C. (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1920)
To prepare for an attack on Infantry Hill, a position held by the enemy south-east of Monchy-le-Preux, the 2/4th Oxfords went into the front line on June 6. Orders were received to advance across No-Man’s-Land and link up a line of shell-holes as a ‘jumping-off place’ for the subsequent attack. A Company successfully accomplished the task, and the Battalion earned a message of thanks from the Division which a few days afterwards made the designed attack.
Apart from this achievement, the confused network of old and new trenches occupied during this period offered few features of special interest. C and A Companies and part of D were in the front line, which ran through chalk and was unsavoury by reason of the dead Germans lying all about. The enemy’s fire was of that harassing kind which began now to mark the conduct of the war. In the old days conventional targets such as roads, trenches, and villages within a mile or two of our front were generally shelled at times which could be guessed and when such places could be avoided. These methods changed. Wherever Infantry or transport were bound to go at special times during the night, the German shells, reserved by day, were fired. Roads, tracks, and approaches, where in daylight English nursemaids could almost have wheeled perambulators with confidence, by night became hated avenues of danger for our Infantrymen moving up the line or ration-carrying to their forward companies. The fire to which they went exposed was the enemy’s ‘harassing fire,’ and we, in our turn, very naturally ‘harassed’ the Germans. At this time a crater on the Arras-Cambrai road which must needs be passed and a shallow trench leading therefrom, known as Gordon Alley, were the most evil spots. Monchy, the hill-village which had cost us so many lives to capture, was heavily shelled by German howitzers both day and night; below its slopes lay several derelict tanks. Our gun positions, in proportion to the new increase in counter-battery work, were also often shelled.
War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment
Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire
Location France, Trenches
Entry [In trenches at MONCHY LE PREUX] The Battalion was relieved in the front line by the 2/4th Oxfords on the night of 6/7th and companies marched independently to Reserve Trenches in the WANCOURT-FEUCHY line. 2 OR killed, 1 OR wounded, 1 OR shell shock.