Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (The 2/4th Battalion)

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1917, MARCH 9th – 15th VALET SUB-SECTION OF DENICOURT TRENCHES, ABLAINCOURT SECTOR

Ablaincourt Sector

From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, by Captain G. K. Rose M.C. (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1920)

The Battalion returned to do another tour in the Ablaincourt sector. The line was again held by A on the left (owing to the former three-company system no proper interchange had been possible) and by B on the right. Davenport went to my old headquarters, which the enemy was now busy trench-mortaring, and held half the front previously held by C, which, with D Company, was now in support. To the usual evils were now added rifle-grenades filled with gas, which caused several casualties in A Company. D Company lost a good man in Lance Corporal Tremellen, who was wounded by a bullet through the legs when leading a ration party ‘across the top,’ and other N.C.O.’s went sick with trench fever. During this tour the energy of Corporal Viggers, of my company, was most remarkable. He did the work of ten.

Extracted From The Regimental Chronicles of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

… had one more tour in the line from the 9th to the 15th

1917, MARCH 2nd – RELIEVED BY THE 2/4th ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT IN THE VALET SUB-SECTION OF DENICOURT TRENCHES

Ablaincourt Sector

Extracted From The Regimental Chronicles of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

 On the night of March 2 the Battalion was relieved by the Berks, now under the command of Colonel Beaman, and moved back about 2,000 yards to some support trenches near Bovent Copse.

 From the War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1917-03-02

Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire

Location France, Denicourt Trenches

Entry Battalion relieved 2/4 OXFORDS in “VALET” Sub-Section 50th Div on left of Battn front 2/5 GLOUCESTERS on RIGHT. A, B and C Coys in front line, D in support.

 DIED OF WOUNDS MARCH 2nd 1917

200333 Lance Corporal Albert White

1916, JULY 19th – THE BATTLE OF FROMELLES

The Battle of Fromelles – Order of Battle for British and German forces.

The Battle of Fromelles – Order of Battle for British and German forces.

Extracted From The Regimental Chronicles of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

The 61st Division were to attack on the line from Bedford Row to Bond Street, the 184th Brigade on the front from Sutherland Avenue exclusive to Bond Street inclusive, the 183rd Brigade were on the right, and the Australian Division on the left.

The 2/1st Bucks and the 2/4th Berks were in the trenches and were to make the attack, one Company (C) of  the Battalion was in immediate reserve just north of the Rue Tilleloy, and the remainder of the Battalion remained in reserve at their billets. Owing to a misunderstanding of orders, a platoon of C Company, which was destined to carry trench-mortar ammunition across No Man’s Land after the attack had been established in the enemy’s trenches, was kept in the front line and suffered very heavily in the bombardment. An intense bombardment was kept up from 11 a.m. till 6p.m., when the assault was delivered, but owing to the machine-gun fire of the enemy the assaulting Battalion could not get across No Man’s Land and suffered very heavy losses.

About 7 p.m. the Battalion was loaded on to motor-buses and moved up towards the firing-line, and was sent up to take over the line held by the Berks and the Bucks. The relief was completed by 11, and at 11.30 the C.O., who had been ordered to remain at the Battle Headquarters, received orders to organize an attack with two companies on the Sugar Loaf, being told that he would find a party of Engineers with consolidating material at a certain point for which he was to provide a carrying company.

From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, by Captain G. K. Rose M.C. (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1920)

This harassing warfare had a crisis in July. The operations of July 19, which were shared with the 61st Division by the 5th Australian holding trenches further north, were designed as a demonstration to assist our attack upon the Somme and to hold opposite to the XI Corps certain German reserves, which, it was feared, would entrain at Lille and be sent south. That object was achieved, but at the cost of severe casualties to the divisions engaged, which were launched in daylight after artillery preparation, which results proved to have been inadequate, against a trench-system strongly manned and garrisoned by very numerous machine-guns. The objectives assigned to the 61st Division were not captured, while the Australians further north, after entering the German trenches and taking prisoners, though they held on tenaciously under heavy counter-attacks, were eventually forced to withdraw. ‘The staff work,’ said the farewell message from the XI Corps to the 61st Division three months later, ‘for these operations was excellent.’ Men and officers alike did their utmost to make the attack of July 19 a success, and it behoves all to remember the sacrifice of those who fell with appropriate gratitude. It was probably the last occasion on which large parties of storming infantry were sent forward through ‘sally ports.’ The Battalion was in reserve for the attack. C Company, which formed a carrying party during the fighting, lost rather heavily, but the rest of the Battalion, though moved hither and thither under heavy shelling, suffered few casualties. When the battle was over, companies relieved part of the line and held the trenches until normal conditions returned.

 KILLED IN ACTION JULY 19th 1916

3560 Lance Sergeant Arthur Lunn

Corporal Reginald Harding

5417 Private Frederick William Bateman

5148 Private Charles Bryden

202028 Private Sidney Butler

2990 Private George Jones

6736 Private William John Jones (Formerly 1347, Welsh Regt.)

4317 Private George Edward L. Simpson

4167 Private William Arthur Taylor

3022 Private George Tolley

From the War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1916-07-19

Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire

Location France, Laventie

Entry Artillery preparation opened at 11am attack at 6pm 2/1 BUCKS on our LEFT. AUSTRALIAN Division on Left of 2/1 BUCKS. 183rd Bde on our Right and 182nd Bde on Right of 183rd Bde, 8th and 61st Divisional Artillery behind our lines. Casualties Officers 3 Killed (Lt Col J H BEER, 2/Lieut G S ABBOTT and 2/Lieut F C D WILLIAMS) and 2 wounded (Major T SHIELDS and 2/Lieut D R GIBSON). Other ranks 35K, 115W and 8 Shell Shock. Bn relieved by 2/4 OXFORD and BUCKS LI at 1030pm. Marched back into billets at RUE DE LA LYS (G.27.c.2.2 1/2).

1916, JULY 12th – RELIEVED THE 2/4th ROYAL BERKS IN THE RICHEBOURG TRENCHES

 Extracted From The Regimental Chronicles of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

On 12th July they relieved the 2/4th Royal Berks Regiment in the Richebourg trenches.

From the War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1916-07-12

Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire

Location France, Ferme Du Bois

Entry Heavy bombardment on our Right at 1am. Quiet morning. 3pm, relieved by 2/4 OXFORD and BUCKS and marched into billets West of CROIX BARBEE. Bn HQ at M. 31.d.5.8. (Casualties OR 1K and 1W).

1916, July 6th – MARCHED TO BE IN SUPPORT AT CROIX BARBEE

Extracted From The Regimental Chronicles of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

On the 6th July Captain Scott was instructing some men of D Company in bombing, when a bomb burst prematurely, killing Private Lord, severely wounding Captain Scott and Corporal North, and slightly wounding Lieut. Loewe and Private Williams. At 3 p.m. that afternoon the Battalion was suddenly ordered to march to Croix Barbee, where they relieved the 1st Battalion of the Hertfordshire Regiment and remained in reserve.

DIED OF WOUNDS JULY 7th 1916

5448 Private Charles Montague Lord

 From the War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1916-07-06

Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire

Location France, La Gorgue

Entry Route march 8 miles. 1 man fell out. At 3pm Bn received orders to move as soon possible to CROIX BARBEE (M.26.c.8.3) and await orders. Marched out at 4.20pm arrived at 6pm. Ordered to relieve 1/1 CAMBRIDGESHIRE Regt in LEFT Sub-Section of FERME DU BOIS Sector (Ref: Trench Map S.10.d.2.7. to S.5.c.5.6 1/2). “B” Coy on Right, “C” Coy in Centre, “A” Coy on Left, “D” Coy in reserve. Three Platoons of “D” Coy in LANSDOWNE POST (S.4.a.1.1)). HQ and 1 platoon of “D” Coy at S.4.b.6.0. 2/1 BUCKS in Sub-Section on our Right, 2/7 ROYAL WARWICKS in Sub-Section on our left. 2/4 OXFORD AND BUCKS LI in support at CROIX BARBEE – 2/5 GLOSTERS in support of 2/1 BUCKS at REICHBOURG ST VAAST. Bde HQ at 8 MAISONS (R.30.c.5.8).

1916, JULY 4th – RELIEVED BY THE 2/4th GLOCESTERSHIRE REGIMENT

Extracted From The Regimental Chronicles of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

The Battalion was relieved on the 4th July by the 2/4th Gloster Regiment, and went into billets at Riez Bailleul for rest.

KILLED IN ACTION JULY 4th 1916

5648 Private Walter Taplin

1916, JUNE 28th – PREPARING FOR THE FIRST RAID BY THE 2/4th OXFORDS

Extracted From The Regimental Chronicles of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

On the evening of 28/29th the Battalion had to carry out its first raid. Captain Davenport’s Company had been selected. The plan was to enter the enemy’s trenches, and penetrate to his support line if possible. Two parties were to enter the trenches at points about 100 yards apart, and a third party was to act as reserve and rearguard. Considerable hindrance was experienced by two exceptionally dark nights immediately preceding the raid, which made it impossible to ascertain with certainty whether the wire had been properly cut.

 From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, by Captain G. K. Rose KC (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1920)

By the end of June an intense feeling of expectancy had developed; activity on both sides reached the highest pitch. The Battalion was not slow in playing its part. One of the early casualties was Lieutenant Moberly, who performed a daring daylight reconnaissance up to the German wire. He was wounded and with great difficulty and only through remarkable pluck regained our lines.

On the morning of the 28th Lieut. K. E. Brown and 2nd Lieut. W. H. Moberley went out each by himself to reconnoitre the gaps in the wire. 2nd Lieut. Moberley was hit by a sniper and lay for 9 hours in a shell-hole before he could get back to our lines just as the raid was going out. Lieut. Brown remained out about 5 hours, and returned with the information that the wire at the left gap appeared to be sufficiently broken. In order to avoid the machine-gun fire with which the enemy always swept the top of the trenches at the hour fixed for zero, the various parties crept out into the No Man’s Land and lay there for an hour.

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