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

Research and Resources around the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry during WWI

Archive for the tag “Pond Farm”

1917, AUGUST 23rd – DEFYING A GERMAN COUNTER ATTACK AT POND FARM

Attack Aug 22 1917

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

In front-line trenches at St. Julien. At dawn the enemy rushed and captured Pond Farm, but at 8 a.m., assisted by three platoons of the 2/6th Glosters, we recaptured it. Afterwards the enemy made some local counter-attacks; which were repulsed with heavy loss. In these two days we took about 80 prisoners. Casualties today : 2nd Lieuts Webb and Gray and 3 men killed, 29 wounded.

KILLED IN ACTION AUGUST 23rd 1917

2nd Lieutenant Webb

2nd Lieutenant Gray

202109 Private Frederick Berry

24436 Private Thomas John Owen (Formerly 2891, R.F.A.)

32853 Private Thomas William Richards

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

At night the Battalion was relieved by the 2/6th Glosters, and marched to camp near Ypres (Goldfish Chateau). During the night of August 23/24 the Battalion was relieved, when those whom death in battle had not claimed nor wounds despatched to hospital marched back through Ypres to the old camp at Goldfish Château.

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1917, AUGUST 22nd – CAPTURE OF POND FARM

Attack Aug 22 1917

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

On the following night Companies assembled for the attack. Neither the starting place nor the objectives for this are easily described by reference to surrounding villages. The nearest was St. Julien. The operation orders for the attack of August 22 assigned as objective to the Oxfords a road running across the Hanebeck and referred to as the Winnipeg-Kansas Cross Road. The 48th Division on the left and the 15th on the right were to co-operate with the 184th Brigade in the attack.

Shortly before 5 the bombardment started. In the advance behind the creeping barrage put down by our guns, of which an enormous concentration was present on the front, C, D and A Companies (from right to left) provided the first waves, while B Company followed to support the flanks. The Berks came afterwards as ‘moppers up.’ Half-an-hour after the advance started D, B and A Companies were digging-in 150 yards west of the Winnipeg-Kansas Cross Road. The losses of these companies in going over had not been heavy, but, as so often happens, casualties occurred directly the objective had been duly reached. In the case of C Company, on the right, but little progress had been made. Pond Farm, a concrete stronghold, to capture which a few nights previously an unsuccessful sally had been made, had proved too serious an obstacle. Not till the following night was it reduced, and during the whole of August 22 it remained a troublesome feature in the situation.

Before the line reached could be consolidated or they could act to defeat the enemy’s tactics, our men found themselves the victims of sniping and machine-gun fire from Schuler Farm, which was not taken and to which parties of reinforcements to the enemy now came. More dangerous still was an old gun-pit which lay behind the left flank. The capture of this had been assigned to the 48th Division, but as a measure of abundant caution Colonel Wetherall had detailed a special Berks platoon to tackle it. This platoon, assisted by some Oxfords on the scene, captured the gun-pit and nearly seventy prisoners, but failed to garrison it. A party of the enemy found their way back and were soon firing into our men from behind. During the early stages of consolidation, when personal example and direction were required, John Stockton, Scott, and Gascoyne were all killed by snipers or machine-gun fire. Scott had been hit already in the advance and behaved finely in refusing aid until he had despatched a message to Headquarters. While he was doing so three or four bullets struck him simultaneously and he died.

Throughout the 22nd no actual counter-attack nor organised bombardment by the enemy took place, but much sniping and machine-gun fire continued, making it almost impossible to move about. Our loss in Lewis-gunners was particularly heavy.

Callender, the acting company commander of A Company, had been killed before the attack commenced, and Sergeant-Major Cairns was now the mainstay of that company, whose men were thoroughly mixed up with B. Upon the left the 48th Division had failed to reach Winnipeg, with the result that this flank of A and B Companies was quite in the air. On the Battalion’s right the failure of C Company, in which Brucker had been wounded, to pass Pond Farm left the flank of D Company exposed and unsupported. But the position won was kept. Ground to which the advance had been carried with cost would not be lightly given up. Moberly, Company Sergeant-Major Cairns, and Guest -the latter by volunteering in daylight to run the gauntlet of the German snipers back to Headquarters-greatly distinguished themselves in the task of maintaining this exposed position during the night of August 22 and throughout August 23. Some of our men had to remain in shell-holes unsupported and shot at from several directions for over fifty hours”.

At 4.45 a.m. the Battalion attacked on a front of 750 yards, the objective being about 900 yards distant. On our left were the l/5th R. Warwicks, and the 2/1st Bucks on the right, with five platoons of the R. Berks acting as moppers-up. The assembly, which was carried out unknown to the enemy, was on a tape line, laid down in advance of our line by 2nd Lieut. Robinson the previous night. The disposition of companies from left to right was A, D, C in front line, and B in support. The Battalion advanced under our artillery barrage, and A and D Companies, closely followed by two platoons of B, reached their objective and consolidated. C Company on the right, with a platoon of B in support, were held up owing to the failure of the mopping-up platoon to take Pond Farm. Owing to casualties among senior officers, the front-line command devolved on 2nd Lieut. Moberly, with whom were 2nd Lieut. Coombes (A) and 2nd Lieut. Guest (D). The battalion on our left was unable to hold its objective, and consequently both flanks of the front line were unprotected; but 2nd Lieut. Moberly decided to hold on, and arranged to provide such protection as was possible. At 4 p.m., with the assistance of two platoons of the 2/5th Glosters, we assaulted and captured Pond Farm.

KILLED IN ACTION AUGUST 22nd 1917

Captain J. G. Stockton.

Lieut. WT. D. Scott. 2nd

Lieut. W. E. Gascoyne

201057 Sergeant Alfred Mobey

202295 Lance Sergeant Albert Barnes

200871 Corporal Albert Margetts

200978 Corporal James William Smith

202440 Lance Corporal Harold William Percival Bolt (Born Sydney Australia)

201270 Lance Corporal Eric George Cheasley

200689 Lance Corporal Frederick Edginton

267405 Lance Corporal William Merrith

201458 Lance Corporal Benjamin Arthur Tyler

201230 Private Harold Bolton

203189 Private Dennis Bush

240310 Private William James Callow

201694 Private Aubrey Castle

14783 Private Albert Thomas Childs

201655 Private William Walter Cox

24484 Private Herbert Charles Date (Formerly 141415 R.F.A.)

202885 Private William Dennis

203867 Private Albert John Drewitt

285020 Private Arthur Henry Drewitt

202393 Private Joseph Eversden

240350 Private James Charles Ferriman

202151 Private Frank Herbert Gardiner

203844 Private William Guess

201358 Private Lewis Heath

266895 Private Edward George Hoare

203475 Private Arthur James Hughes (Formerly 2694, R. Bucks Hussars)

201435 Private Harold Hughes

201864 Private Henry Impey

200931 Private Howard Stanley May

29025 Private George Albert Missen

240409 Private Leve Mitchell

202701 Private George Payne

202768 Private Christopher Piekton

203787 Private William Richard Pitson

22534 Private Jasper Quincey Plumb

204409 Private Ernest William Rolfe

202554 Private Harold Rolph

202661 Private George Roper

201967 Private Ernest John Rose

204413 Private John Elford Soper (Formerly 3457, Berks Yoemanry)

203434 Private Robert John Stratford (Formerly 1794, R. Bucks Hussars)

203535 Private Ernest Walter Sutton (formerly 2777, R. Bucks Hussars)

203811 Private Alfred Fred Taylor

23717 Private Horace White

200270 Herbert Edward Wright

DIED OF WOUNDS AUGUST 22nd 1917

32542 Lance Corporal Arthur Stamper (Formerly 3427, Notts and Derby Regt.)

Wounded: Captain A. H. Brucker. 2nd Lieut. T. A. Hill. 2nd Lieut. H. G. Turrell. 2nd Lieut. F. Dawson-Smith 2nd Lieut. T. W. P. Hawker And 74 other ranks.

Missing: 44 other ranks (3 of whom were afterwards reported to be prisoners, the remainder presumed to have been killed).

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

The attack, in which the Bucks had successfully co-operated on the right of our advance, earned credit for the Brigade and the Battalion. It had been, from a fighting standpoint, a military success. But from the strategical aspect the operations showed by their conclusion that the error had been made of nibbling with weak forces at objectives which could only have been captured and secured by strong. Moreover, the result suggested that the objectives had been made on this occasion for the attack rather than the attack for the objectives. The 184th Brigade had played the part assigned to it completely and with credit, but what had been gained by it with heavy loss was in fact given up by its successors almost at once. Withdrawal from the Kansas trenches became an obvious corollary to the German omission to counter-attack against them. Ground not in dispute ’twas not worth casualties to hold. On the Battalion’s front Pond Farm, a small concrete stronghold, remained the sole fruit of the attack of August 22. It was after the 61st Division had been withdrawn, wasted in stationary war, that what success could be associated with this third battle of Ypres commenced. Judged by its efforts, the 61st was ill paid in results.

TO 1917, AUGUST 23rd

Private Alfred Fred Taylor

From the Wendover Roll-of-Honour:

Private 203811 2nd/4th Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. Husband of Mary Taylor of Cold Harbour. Enlisted at Aylesbury. Killed in action 22nd August 1917 near St. Julien.

On the 19th of August the battalion was in camp at Watou. The company commanders reconnoitred the line about St. Julien. In the afternoon of the 20th they relieved the 2nd/6th Gloucestershire Regiment in the support line. After nightfall they moved up to the front line, relieving the 2nd/4th Gloucestershire Regiment. The 21st was spent in making preparations for the attack, planned for dawn on the 22nd. There was considerable artillery activity on both sides and the battalion lost one officer and 4 other ranks killed and 31 other ranks wounded. The battalion’s objective was Gunpit No. 36 in C 13 b (Martha House) to the road junction at D 7 c 25 55. This was a front of 750 yards, 900 yards from the British position. They assembled on the tape laid in front of their position without any difficulties. A, D and C Companies formed the assault wave, numbering, from left to right. B Company was in reserve and 3 platoons of the Royal Berkshire Regiment were to act as moppers-up. The battalion advanced under an artillery barrage at 4.45am. A and D Companies, closely followed by two platoons of B, reached their objectives and consolidated. C Company, on the right with one platoon of B, was held up owing to the failure of the rnoppers-up to take Pond Farm. Both flanks were unsupported but it was decided to hold on. At 4pm with the support of two platoons from the 2nd/5th Gloucestershire Regiment, Pond Farm was taken. The battalion’s casualties were three officers and 26 other ranks killed, 5 officers and 74 other ranks wounded and 44 other ranks missing. Three of the missing men were later reported to be prisoners. Commemorated, on the Tyne Cot Memorial; Panel 97 to 98.

Name: Alfred Fred Taylor
Birth Place: Wendover, Bucks
Residence: Aylesbury, Bucks
Death Date: 22 Aug 1917
Enlistment Location: Wendover, Bucks
Rank: Private
Regiment: Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
Battalion: 2/4th Battalion.
Number: 203811
Type of Casualty: Killed in action

Name: TAYLOR, ALFRED FRED
Initials: A F
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Unit Text: 2nd/4th Bn.
Date of Death: 22/08/1917
Service No: 203811
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 96 to 98.
Memorial: TYNE COT MEMORIAL

Please see:

The Attack on Pond Farm, 22nd August, 1917

The Attack On Pond Farm and Other Strong Posts, 21st -24th August 1917

Attack on Strongpoints, South East of St. Julian, 22nd August 1917

The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)

Corporal James William Smith

Name: SMITH, JAMES WILLIAM
Initials: J W
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Corporal
Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Unit Text: 2nd/4th Bn.
Age: 25
Date of Death: 22/08/1917
Service No: 200976
Additional information: Son of Thomas and Louisa Smith, of 2, Friars Court, Friars Entry, Oxford.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: IV. D. 21.
Cemetery: TYNE COT CEMETERY

Name: James William Smith
Residence: Oxford
Death Date: 22 Aug 1917
Rank: Corporal
Regiment: Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
Battalion: 2/4th Battalion.
Number: 200976
Type of Casualty: Killed in action

Please see:

The Attack on Pond Farm, 22nd August, 1917

The Attack On Pond Farm and Other Strong Posts, 21st -24th August 1917

Attack on Strongpoints, South East of St. Julian, 22nd August 1917

The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)

Private Ernest William Alfred Round

Name: ROUND, ERNEST WILLIAM ALFRED
Initials: E W A
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Unit Text: 2nd/4th Bn.
Date of Death: 22/08/1917
Service No: 29166
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 96 to 98.
Memorial: TYNE COT MEMORIAL

Name: Ernest William Alfred Round
Birth Place: Birmingham
Residence: Birmingham
Death Date: 22 Aug 1917
Enlistment Location: Small Heath, Warwicks
Rank: Private
Regiment: Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
Battalion: 2/4th Battalion.
Number: 29166
Type of Casualty: Killed in action

Please see:

The Attack on Pond Farm, 22nd August, 1917

The Attack On Pond Farm and Other Strong Posts, 21st -24th August 1917

Attack on Strongpoints, South East of St. Julian, 22nd August 1917

The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)

The Attack On Pond Farm and Other Strong Posts, 21st -24th August 1917

Please check out http://pondfarm.wimme.net/en/introduction. The link was kindly provided by Stijn Butaye.

A very good German Web site: www.flanderland.de has a page dedicated to Pond Farm with both pictures from 1917 and some recent photographs of the bunker.

2/5th Gloucestershire Regiment

Story of the 2/5th Battalion the Gloucester Regiment 1914-1918
ed by A.F.Barnes
ISBN: 9781843427582
Format: 2003 N&M Press reprint (original pub 1930) 192pp with 39 b/w photos and 12 maps.

This is essential reading for anyone interested in the 2/5th Gloucester Regiment and the other battalions that made up the 184th (2nd South Midland) Brigade

“The Battalion moved first Buysscheure area and then to the Wattou area, and on August 21st it went up the line to support trenches in Warwick Farm, east of the big Wieltje Dugout which was Brigade Headquarters and advanced Field Ambulance dressing station.

On August 22nd the Brigade attacked with the Oxfords on the left and the Bucks on the right. The Glosters were in support. At the last moment, the orders for the Glosters were altered and two Companies were ordered to move into position at zero hour behind the Oxfords and two behind the Bucks. Headquarters was at Call Reserve, a big German concrete that had been captured. The Oxfords were commanded by Lt.-Col. R. H. Wetherall, a young regular officer of the Gloucester Regiment, the Bucks by a very cheery officer of the Black Watch Territorials, by the name of Lt.-Col. J. Muir.

Both Battalions made a magnificent advance, which carried them right forward almost to their limits. But as so often happened, the losses were so great that it was impossible to hold the farthest objectives, and they were pushed back fighting hard. Soon D Company was dispatched to reinforce the left, and B Company the right. While moving up with D Company, gallant Seymour Tubbs was killed while leading his men.

The expression, “he was loved by everyone” became rather the convention of the day; but in the case of Capt. Tubbs, it was literally true, because he possessed in an unusual degree the gift for friendship. Wherever he was there radiated a warmth of happy comradeship; a capable and gallant officer, a perfect sportsman, a delightful companion, he could ill be spared.

In the centre of the Oxfords’ advance was a grim and giant fortress called Pond Farm, manned by fifty picked German machine-gunners with five guns. This fortress had resisted the assaults of no less than five divisions in previous fighting. At 12 noon, two platoons attacked it after a hurricane bombardment. Two platoons from C company were then sent up, and these, with D Company, stormed the concrete fortress with great dash, killing or capturing its entire garrison. The losses were heavy: 2nd Lieutenants Davis and Blythe, and 16 other ranks were killed, and 2nd Lieut. Ross Jenkins and 51 other ranks were wounded and one other was missing.

During the night there was an unfortunate incident. The garrison was small and no other officer of the Glosters left, and one of another unit detailed to take command did not arrive. A fierce German counter-attack, launched at the right was beaten off by the Bucks with D Company, but swerving away, it swept on to the flank and rear of Pond Farm and recaptured it. It was a great pity, but the memory of the gallant attack which captured the fortress wipes out any small stain caused by its weak garrison losing it. Next day it was easily recaptured.

On the right flank D Company under command of Lieut. Johnston, was soon sent forward to support the bucks and detailed to hold and consolidate a line just west of Hill 35. The gallant Scotch officer, helped by his men performed deeds of valour: he consolidated his line, roped in stragglers from another Division and put them in position, extended his line to get into touch right and left, and beat off every counter-attack. His report to the Commanding Officer at Call Reserve, written under heavy shell fire in the open, was the most cheerful document ever penned. He was highly commended by Lt.-Col. Muir, and sent to Corps Headquarters to give an account of the fight. He was recommended for the D.S.O. and was awarded the M.C. He is perhaps best described as one who was just as happy in a fight as at a tea party surrounded by pretty girls. The Battalion was relieved by the 2/6th Glosters and moved to Red Rose Camp for refitting.”

The 2/1st Bucks

The following is extracted from:
“Citizen Soldiers of Buckinghamshire 1795-1926″ by Major General J. C. Swann

On the 15th August the Battalion (2/1st Bucks) moved to Abeele and on the 18th to Goldfish Chateau Camp near Ypres. On the evening of the 20th they advanced to the support line just forward of Wieltje, having many casualties on the way from shell fire. After dark they went into the line in the Pommern Castle sector, Headquarters at Uhlan Farm, “C” Company on the left, “B” on the right (front line), “D” left support, “A” right support. The next day was spent in preparations for the attack on the 22nd.

Of the 61st Division the 184th Brigade was told off for the attack, having the 44th Infantry Brigade, 15th Division, on their right, and the 143rd Brigade, 48th Division, on their left. The Bucks were to make the attack on the right, the Oxfords on the left of the Brigade, each Battalion taking a frontage of approximately 700 yards.

The Bucks were to advance with two Companies forming the first and second waves, and two Companies forming the third and fourth; the Oxfords were to attack with three Companies forming the first and second and one Company the third wave. Eight platoons of the Royal Berks were to be attached to the Bucks as “moppers-up’ and five to the Oxfords. The Glosters and one Battalion of the 183rd Brigade were in Brigade reserve. The final objective was the position on the Kansas Cross—Winnipeg Road.

The “moppers-up” were to deal with the strong posts at Somme, Aisne, Gunpits, Cross Cotts, Green House, Martha, Keir Farm, and various dug-outs, and to be ready to cover the flanks if necessary. This would enable the main attack to push forward to take the main position without delaying to clear the strong points in advance of it.

At 4.45 a.m. the Artillery put down the barrage and the waves advanced, disregarding the strong posts and pressing forward as close as possible to the barrage in accordance with the orders they had received. The “moppers-up,” in attempting to follow, suffered heavily in casualties from machine-gun and rifle fire, the garrisons of the posts behind their concrete walls put up a stubborn resistance. The Somme and Aisne Farms were taken, but the latter retaken almost at once by the enemy. Pond Farm in front of the Oxfords on the left and Gallipoli in front of the 7th Cameron Highlanders on the right remained in the possession of the enemy.

The position of the advancing waves of the Bucks became more and more serious, but still they pressed on, and some at least reached their objective, though exposed to fire from front, flanks, and rear, and entirely cut off from all communication. Meanwhile a company of the 2/5th Gloucesters, under Second Lieutenant Johnston, with the few remaining men available with the Battalion, consolidated a line of shell-holes for the defence of Somme Farm that had been won by a platoon of the Berks, only three men of which remained to follow Second Lieutenant St. Leger into the post and to deal with the 14 survivors of the garrison. Three counter-attacks were made on the newly consolidated line, but were caught by the fire of our Artillery, and easily repulsed by the Infantry. The enemy snipers were much in evidence throughout the day, any movement that might suggest a runner with information for Headquarters attracted their special attention; even stretcher-bearers and wounded crawling painfully back were not spared.

At 4 p.m., with the assistance of two platoons of the 2/5th Gloucesters, the Oxfords finally assaulted and captured Pond Farm. This much relieved the pressure on the left of the Bucks, and they were able to straighten out the line. A party was sent forward to take the gun-pits, but found them deserted by the enemy and giving shelter to many of the wounded of the Battalion.

The losses were found to have been very heavy 13 officers and 637 other ranks went into action, 11 officers and 338 other ranks were reported as casualties.

Killed: Second Lieutenant C. R. Tyson and 46 other ranks.

Died of wounds: Captain J. E. S. Wilson, R.A.M.C., Second Lieutenants Gibson and W. R. Gill.

Wounded: Captain G. C. Stevens, Second Lieutenants T. S. Markham, G. P. Steed, and W. H. Petrie, and 156 other ranks.

Missing: Captain H. R. Foster, Second Lieutenants H. E. Molloy and W. E. Rolfe (presumed dead), and 122 other ranks.

Of the missing 19 were afterwards traced as prisoners of war, and 103 presumed killed. Nine of the prisoners were wounded when captured. At night the Battalion was relieved by the 2/7th Worcesters. The Battalion returned to their old bivouac at Goldfish Chateau, a sad return. Except “A” Company, all were commanded by Sergeants. The men were in the last stage of exhaustion, the strongest Company had barely 80, the weakest just over 50 in the ranks.

After one night at Goldfish Chateau the Battalion moved back to Brandhoek.

2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

War Diaries of the 2/4th Royal Berkshires

Tuesday 21st August 1917 Belgium, Trenches Wieltje

“The day was fairly quiet except for heavy shelling between 9am and 11am. In the evening the various platoons moved to their point of assembly for the following days attack. Casualties 1 OR killed, 13 OR wounded.”

Wednesday 22nd August 1917, Belgium, Trenches Wieltje

The 184th Infantry Brigade attacked the enemy defences from D14 c.6.7. to D7 c. 3.5 (Map FREZENBERG 1/10000 attached).

The 44th Brigade 15th Division attacked on the Right, and the 143rd Brigade 48th Division attacked on the Left.

Zero was at 4.45am August 22nd, an which hour the Infantry advanced and the Barrage commenced. The 2/1st Bucks Battalion, Ox and Bucks Light Infantry attacked on Right, the 2/4th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry attacked on the Left.

The 2/4th Royal Berks found 13 platoons to attack various Strong Points which were known to exist. They followed close behind the leading Infantry, and on nearing their Objectives, dashed through the leading waves and assaulted the Strong Points.

The various platoons were detailed as follows:-

Platoon Commander Objective

No 1 2/Lt A C L Hill Somme
No 4 2/Lt G W de St Legier Somme
No 2 2/Lt A K Glover Cross Cott
No 3 2/Lt C L B Kirkland Aisne House
No 5 2/Lt H W Jewell Schuler
No 6 2/Lt G A F Gilmor Pond Farm
No 13 2/Lt F A N Wilmot Pond Farm
No 7 2/Lt A E Saw Left flank guard for 2/4 Oxfords.
No 8 2/Lt F Exler Hindu
No 9 2/Lt W H Stevens Marth Ho
No 12 2/Lt A H Robinson MarthHo
No 10 2/Lt D Mackinnon Green Ho
No 11 2/Lt H S Griffin Gun positions near D13 central

The first Strong Point encountered was Pond Farm. This was attacked from both flanks, 2nd Lieut F A N Wilmot working in from the Right, and 2nd Lieut G A F Gilmor from the Left. Both these Officers were wounded before reaching the farm. Owing to heavy machine gun fire Sgt Shackleford, then in charge of No 13 platoon found he was unable to take the Farm, revelries these platoons kept the garrison of the Strong Point strongly engaged, thus enabling the assaulting waves and the platoons for the further Objectives to push forward without any serious trouble, Sgt Shackleford then reorganised his platoon and made a fresh attack on the Farm but on getting within 20 yards of his Objective he was again held up by very heavy machine gun fire. However he succeeded in surrounding the Farm, keeping the garrison fully occupied till late in the afternoon he joined two platoon of the 2/5th Glosters and helped to successfully assault and enter the Farm. There were 35 Prisoners taken by us at this Strong Point.

The next Strong Point encountered on the Left was Hindu, 2/Lt F Exler was wounded as soon as the Infantry advanced, but the platoon carried on and owing to the marshy state of the ground were unable to enter the Farm. However they succeeded in advancing beyond and surrounding the Strong Point, thus enabling the assaulting waves to push forward. Pte Pike of “A” coy having lost his own platoon succeeded in entering this Strong Point, and found it garrisoned by 19 Germans, 13 of whom were unwounded. He took all these prisoners, and himself remained there alone for two days guarding them until he was relieved by an Officer of the 2/6th Glosters.

The remaining Strong Point on the Left was Schuler. Despite the fact that the left Division was held up and that his flank was exposed 2nd Lieut H W Jewell pushed forward and stormed the Schuler Galleries, taking 2 Officers and 74 OR prisoners. These he dispatched to the rear. He then consolidated and held his post breaking up three local counter attacks. This post was almost isolated owing to the right flank falling back, but by great determination they held on for two days, till they were relieved by the 2/6th Glosters.

The first Strong Point encountered on the Right was Somme. On nearing this 2nd Lieut G W de St Legierpushed forward ahead of the leading waves and together with two men rushed through our own Barrage and entered this post from the rear, killing the whole of the garrison. He afterwards consolidated the position and broke up several local counter attacks and held his post until he was relieved two days later.

Owing to the 15th Division being held up, and very heavy flanking machine gun fire being directed on our troops from Hill 35 and Gallopoli, the attacks on Green House, Cross Cott and Martha House were unsuccessful but these platoons helped the 2/1st Bucks to form a line running roughly from Somme in rear of Aisne House close to the Gun Pits at D13 Central, on to SchulerGalleries. Three enemy Counter attacks were repulsed.

Tanks were employed, but were unsuccessful owing to the marshy state of the ground. The line was taken over on the night of the 23/24th by the 183rd Infantry Brigade and the Battalion marched back to a camp at Goldfish Chateau, the last platoon arriving about 6am. Casualties for the 22nd/23rd were as follows:-

7 Officers – 2nd Lieuts F A N Wilmot, GAF Gilmor, F Exler, C L B Kirkland, A K Glover, A H Robinson and AE Saw wounded.
2 Officers – 2nd Lieuts H S Griffin and D MacKinnon wounded and missing.
32 OR killed.
111 OR wounded.
25 OR wounded and missing.
54 OR missing.”

Friday 24th August 1917 Belgium, Goldfish Chateau

“The whole day was devoted to rest.”

Abeele: Their are some very good photographs of Abeele on a Web site dedicated to the Calgary Highlanders, 10th Battalion.

Please see:

The Attack on Pond Farm, 22nd August, 1917

Attack on Strongpoints, South East of St. Julian, 22nd August 1917

The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)

The Attack on Hill 35, 10th September 1917

From G. K. Rose, The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

At 4 p.m.’ said the 61st Divisional Summary for the twenty-four hours ending I2 noon, September II, I917, ‘we attacked the Battery
Position on Hill 35. This attack was not successful.’ A grim epitaph. The terse formula, as though wasted words must not follow wasted lives, was the official record of the seventh attempt to storm Hill 35.

Against the concrete gunpits which crowned this insignificant ridge the waves of our advance on July 31 had lapped in vain. Minor attacks designed to take Gallipoli, a German stronghold set behind the ridge, and against the sister position of Iberian on its flank, proved throughout August some of the most costly failures in the 5th Army operations. The defence of the three strongholds,
Iberian, Hill 35, and Gallipoli provided a striking example of German stubbornness and skill, but added an object-lesson in the squandering of our efforts in attack. Operations upon a general scale having failed to capture all three, it was fantastically hoped that each could be reduced separately. Iberian, Hill 35, and Gallipoli supported one another, nor was it feasible to hold any without holding all. Yet to take Hill 35 on September 9 the 2/4th Oxfords were specially selected. The spirit of A and D Companies, chosen b Colonel Wetherall for the attack, was excellent. We confidently believed that we could succeed where others failed. Optimism, so vital an ingredient in morale, was a powerful assistant to the English Army. It was fostered, perhaps unconsciously, throughout the war by the cheerful attitude preserved by our Generals and staff, but its foundation lay, in our great system of supply. The A.S.C., which helped to win our victories, helped, too, to temper our defeats.

On September 7 Brown and myself went up through Ypres to view the scene of the attack. At Wieltje, where Colonel Wetherall and B and C Companies already were, we descended to a deep, wet dug-out and that night listened to a narrative brought by an officer who had participated in the last attempt to take the hill. He dispensed the most depressing information about the gunpits, the machine-guns, the barrages, and last, but not least terrible (if believed), the new incendiary Verey lights used by the Germans to cremate their assailants. The description of a piece of trench, which we were to capture and block, particularly flattered our prospects. ‘Wide, shallow trench, enfiladed from Gallipoli, filled with the Division dead,’ it ran. The tale of horror becoming ludicrous, we soon afterwards clambered on to the wire bunks
and slept, dripped on, till the early morning.

The next day was misty. Our 15-inch howitzers, on whose ability to smash the enemy’s concrete strongholds reliance was staked, could not fire. The attack was postponed until September 10, but that decision came too late to stop our companies quitting the camp according to previous orders and marching up through Ypres. They could have stayed at Wieltje for the night, but the men’s fear that by so doing they would miss their hot tea, decided their vote in favour of a return to Goldfish Château. Tea is among the greatest bribes that tan be offered to the British soldier.
Accordingly the march through Ypres, or rather, round it (for no troops chose to pass its market place) as repeated on the morrow.

The tracks towards the line were shelled on our way up, but we came safely through. Dusk was awaited in a much war-worn trench in front of Wieltje.

As daylight fades we file away, each man with his own thoughts. Whose turn is it to be this journey ?

Along the tortuous track of tipsy duckboards we go for a mile, until acrid fumes tell that the German barrage-line is being passed. This is a moment to press on! To get the Company safely
across this hundred yards is worth many a fall. Presently the shattered pollards of the Steenbeek are left behind and flickering Verey lights cast into weird relief the rugged surface of the earth.

The Shattered Pollards of the Steenbeck

At Pommern Castle our front trenches, in which figures of men loom indistinctly, are reached. At one corner, where the trench is littered with fragments, we are cautioned by a sentry, whose voice is a little shaken, not to linger; the entrance to a pill-box (which faced the enemy) was hit a short rime ago. From the trench we proceed further into No-Man’s-Land, where the Bucks are said to have linked up shell-holes since night-fall. (Those will be our “assemblv position’ for the attack tomorrow afternoon). By now all shells are passing over our heads; we are level with where Verey lights are falling, and the sweep of bullets through the air shows that the enemy is not far off. Figures appear as if by magic. All at once there is a crowd of men, rattling equipment and talking in suppressed voices. A few commands, and the relief is complete. We are in No-Man’s-Land, strung in a line of shell-holes, from which in sixteen hours’ time the attack is to start.

Soon after 3 a.m. I set out to visit all the scattered groups of men to give my last instructions, for from dawn onwards no movement would be possible. It was an eerie situation. The night was filled with multifarious noise–peculiar poops,’ the distant crash of bombs, and all the mingled echoes of a battlefield. At one time German howitzers, firing at longest range, chimed a faint chorus high above our heads; anon a hissing swoop would plant a shell close to our whereabouts. Lights rose and sank, flickering. Red and green rockets, as if to ornament the tragedy of war, were dancing in the sky. Occasionally a gust of foul wind, striking the face, could make one fancy that Death’s Spectre marched abroad, claiming her children …..

Our guns fired incessantlv. Their shells came plunging down with an arriving whistle that made each one as it came seem that it must drop short –and many did. Mist drifted fitfullv around and
hid, now and again, two derelict tanks, at which a forward post of my company was stationed. This post I was on my way to visit, when, suddenly, what seemed trench-mortar bombs began to fall. About twenty fell in a minute, the last ones very close to where I stood. They were gas. It was a sickening moment; surprise, disaster, and the possibility that here was some new German devilry fired at us from behind, joined with the fumes to numb the mind and powers. Half-gassed ] gave the gas-alarm. By telephone I managed to report what had happened. The Colonel seemed to understand at once; ‘l’ve stopped them,’ conveyed everything of which it was immediately necessary to make certain. For it was an attack by out own gas. Some detachment, without notifying our Brigade staff or selecting a target which sanity could have recommended, had done a ‘shoot’ against my company’s position under the mistake that the enemy was in it. Two casualties, which I believe proved fatal, resulted. Many men vomited. I was prostrated for two hours. “The effect on the morale of some of my men was as pitiable as it was amply justifiable.

For this dastardly outrage I fancy that no person was ever brought to book. Infantry loyally condoned the so-called ‘short shooting’ by our guns. Out of thousands of shells fired at the enemy some must and did rail in our lines. But from such condonation is specifically to be excepted this instance of a gas projection carried out with criminal negligence upon my comrades. For or
by its perpetrator no excuse was offered: and yet the facts were never in dispute.

Proverbially the worst part of an attack was waiting for it. On September 10, from dawn till 4 p.m., A and D Companies lay cramped in shell-holes on the slopes of Hill 35- In my own hole,
so close that out knees touched, sat Sergeant Palmer, Rowbotham, my signalling lance-corporal, Baxter, another signaller, Davies, my runner, and myself. With us we had a telephone and a basket of carrier pigeons.

At 8 a.m., while some of us were sleeping heavily, there came a crash and a jar, which shook every fibre in the body. An English shell had burst a yard or two from the hole wherein we lay. Voices from neighbouring shell-holes hailed us- ‘Are you all right?'” and we replied ‘We are.’ We had no other shell as close as that, but all day long there were two English guns whose shells, aimed at the Germans on the ridge in front, fell so near to where we lay- that we became half-used to being spattered with their earth. As the air warmed the error of these guns decreased, but we counted the hours anxiously until the attack should liberate us from such cruel jeopardy.’

The intolerable duration of that day baffles description. The sun, which had displaced a morning mist, struck down with unrelenting rays till shrapnel helmets grew hot as oven-doors. Blue- bottles (for had hot six attempts failed to take the hill ?) buzzed busily. The heat, our salt rations, the mud below, the brazen sky above, and the suspense of waiting for the particular minute of attack, vied for supremacy in the emotions. The drone of howitzers continued all the day. Only at 2.30 p.m., when a demonstration was made against Iberian, did any variety even occur. There was no choice nor respite. Not by one minute could the attack be either anticipated or postponed.

Of the attack itself the short outline is soon given. Promptly at 4 p.m. the creeping barrage started. In a dazed way or lighting cigarettes the men, who had lost during the long wait all sense of their whereabouts, began to stumble forward up the hill. Our shrapnel barrage was not good. One of the earliest shells burst just behind the hole from which I stepped. It wounded Rowbotham and Baxter (my two signallers) and destroyed the basket of carrier pigeons. Of other English shells I saw the brown splash amongst our men. Prolonged bombardment had ploughed the ground into a welter of crumbling earth and mud. Our progress at only a few dozen yards a minute gave the Germans in their pill-boxes ample time to get their machine-guns going, while correspondingly the barrage passed away from our advance in its successive lifts. Heavy firing from Iberian commenced to enfilade our ranks. Long before the objective was approached our enemies, who in some cases left the pill-boxes and manned positions outside, were masters of the situation. The seventh
attempt had failed to struggle up the slopes of Hill 35-

Despite the disappointment of this immediate failure of the enterprise, I realised at once the impossibility of its success. Yet on this occasion less was done by the men than the conduct of their leaders deserved. Almost as soon as bullets had begun to bang through the air some men had gone to shelter. Those who stood still were mown down. A handful of D Company, led by the company commander, by short rushes reached a ruined tank, close to the enemy, but the remainder disappeared into shell-holes, whence encouragement was powerless to more them. Only in A Company was any fire opened.

No sense of anti-climax could be demanded of the English soldier, whose daily shilling was paid him whether he was in rest-billets, on working-party, or sent into the attack.

On the part also of the Artillery less was done than the scheme promised or our attacking Infantry had counted on. By shell-fire the issue of Hill 35 was to have been placed beyond doubt.
When the artillery machine broke down, achievement of success demanded more initiative on the part of the Infantry than if no artillery had been used. In a sense our loss of a hundred guns at
Cambrai a few weeks later became a blessing in disguise, for it restored the scales in favour of the Infantryman as the decisive agent on the field of battle.

So ended the attack on Hill 35- Upon its slopes were added our dead to the dead of many regiments. But our casualties were few considering that the attack had been brought to a standstill by machine-gun fire. Of D Company officers Guest was wounded (he had behaved with gallantry in the attack) and Copinger missing. Viggers, a very brave sergeant, was killed. Three lance-corporals, Wise, Rowbotham, and Goodman, had been wounded. The total casualties to the Battalion, including several in B Company Headquarters from a single shell and others in passing afterwards through Ypres, were, happily, under fifty.
A few days after its attack on Hill 35 the Battalion marched away from Ypres, never to

Nowhere is this truth better expressed than in the words
of “Tommy’s own song, the refrain of which ends :-But you get your bob a day, never mind!” return. What credit had been earned there by the 61st Division was principally associated with the work of the I84th Infantry Brigade and of the 2/4th Oxfords. Improvement in morale flowed from the test of this great battle. The losses of the BattaIion had been heavy; fourteen officers
and 26o men were its casualties. The final winning of the war could not be unconnected with such a sacrifice. Like others before and others after it, the Battalion at Ypres gave its pledge to posterity.

“At this stage in the war the barrels of many of our guns and howitzers in use on the Western Front were very worn. That fact alone and not any want of care or devotion on the part of our artillery or staff would have accounted for the ‘short shooting’ which I record. To locate a worn barrel, when scores of batteries were bombarding together according to a complicated programme, was naturally impossible. Infantry recognised this.”

“Nowhere is this truth better expressed than in the words
of “Tommy’s own song, the refrain of which ends :-But you get your bob a day, never mind!”

Captain James (John) Godfrey Stockton

From G. K. Rose, The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

“I recall especially the work of some who have not returned; Davenport, Scott, Stockton, Zeder, and Tiddy among the officers, and among the non-commissioned officers and men a host of good comrades.”

“Just now much sickness occurred among the officers, John Stockton, Moorat and several others being obliged to go away by attacks of trench fever.” (In the Rose book, he is called John Stockton)

“A new Major, W. L. Ruthven, arrived in January and temporarily was in command. Loewe and John Stockton returned.”

“We change into gumboots in an old cellar and our journey commences. Sec the Colonel, Cuthbert, Marcon, Brown, Stockton, Robinson and myself lead off down a communication trench behind a guide, pledged to take us to the Berks Headquarters.”

“John Stockton led B Company, and under him was Moberly.”

“A party of the enemy round their way back and were soon firing into out men from behind. During the early stages of consolidation, when personal example and direction were required, John Stockton, Scott, and Gascoyne were all killed by snipers or machine-gun fire.”

From: King’s Canterbury Roll of Honor

“Captain James Godfrey STOCKTON
B Company, 2/4th Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (TF)

Date of birth: 4th of May 1892
Date of death: 22nd of August 1917

Killed in action aged 25
Commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial Panels 96 to 98
He was born at Banbury on the 4th of May 1892, the son of Oliver James Stockton, solicitor, of Porthnabe, Mornan Smith, near Falmouth in Cornwall.

He was educated at Dent de Lion, Westgate, and at the King’s School Canterbury from September 1905 to March 1909, where he was in Holme House.

He became a solicitor articled to A.E. Eves of 7 Mark Lane EC.

He joined the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps on the 11th of January 1911 as Private 532 and was mobilised on the 5th of August 1914 being commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry on the 31st of August 1914. He was promoted to Lieutenant on the 26th of July 1915 and to Captain in June 1917 and served in France from the 24th of May 1916 when the battalion landed in France at Le Havre.

They spent much of the rest of 1916 on the Somme front although mostly holding various parts of the captured lines. He was away in hospital for a short time at the end of 1916 but re-joined the battalion in early January 1917 while they were at Hedauville. They spent February in trenches at Ablaincourt and in March, followed the German retreat towards St Quentin.

By April James Stockton was commanding B Company and according to the battalion history “was ill, but refused to leave the trenches and carried on in a most determined manner under shocking weather conditions”.

On the 18th of August 1917 the battalion arrived near Ypres and on the night of the 20th they moved into trenches to the east of Wieltje. On the night of the 21st they assembled for an attack near the village of St Julien with their objective being the Winnipeg-Kansas Crossroads. For the attack B Company was in support of the flanks of the other three companies which were in the vanguard. They advanced behind a creeping barrage and took their objective after just thirty minutes and all four companies dug in 150 yards to the west of the crossroads.

Unfortunately an old German gun pit which was to the battalion’s left had been cleared but not garrisoned. The enemy filtered back into this position and opened fire with a mixture of rifle and machine gun fire, killing James Stockton and two other officers.

Name: STOCKTON, JAMES GODFREY
Initials: J G
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Captain
Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Unit Text: 2/4th Bn.
Date of Death: 22/08/1917
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 96 to 98.
Memorial: TYNE COT MEMORIAL

Please see:

The Attack on Pond Farm, 22nd August, 1917

The Attack On Pond Farm and Other Strong Posts, 21st -24th August 1917

Attack on Strongpoints, South East of St. Julian, 22nd August 1917

The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)

Second Lieutenant William Elhanan Gascoyne

From G. K. Rose, The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

“Guest, another new office, before he went into the line showed that he was made of the right stuff; he was commander of No. 16 Platoon. Dawson- Smith, Copinger, Gascoyne, and Hill were other new arrivals in my company.”

“A party of the enemy round their way back and were soon firing into out men from behind. During the early stages of consolidation, when personal example and direction were required, John Stockton, Scott, and Gascoyne were all killed by snipers or machine-gun fire.”

Name: GASCOYNE
Initials: W E
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Unit Text: 2nd/4th Bn.
Date of Death: 22/08/1917
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: VII. A. 6.
Cemetery: TYNE COT CEMETERY

From Long Crendon Church Memorial, Buckinghamshire:

Name William Elhanan GASCOYNE
Rank/Number 2nd Lieutenant
Regiment Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry   2/4th Battalion
Enlisted
Age/Date of death 22      22 Aug 1917
How died/Theatre of war Killed in action
Residence at death
Cemetery Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium 
Grave or Memorial Reference VII.A.6
Location of memorial Long Crendon Church
Date/Place of birth 18 Jan 1895      Long Crendon
Date/Place of baptism 15 Feb 1902 Long Crendon
Pre-war occupation of Casualty
Parents Gilbert & Eliza Jane Gascoyne
Parent’s occupation manager of Horner’s works
Parents’ Address (last known) Long Crendon
Wife
Wife’s Address (last known)
Notes pupil at Lord Williams’s School, Thame

Please see:

The Attack on Pond Farm, 22nd August, 1917

The Attack On Pond Farm and Other Strong Posts, 21st -24th August 1917

Attack on Strongpoints, South East of St. Julian, 22nd August 1917

The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)

Private George Worpole

George Worpole was killed in action during or after the attack on Pond Farm, 22nd August 1917

Name: WORPOLE, GEORGE
Initials: G
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Unit Text: 2nd/4th Bn.
Age: 23
Date of Death: 22/08/1917
Service No: 240140
Additional information: Son of Mary Ann C. Worpole, of 46, Khedive Rd., Forest Gate, London, and the late Charles Worpole.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 96 to 98.
Memorial: TYNE COT MEMORIAL

Please see:

The Attack on Pond Farm, 22nd August, 1917

The Attack On Pond Farm and Other Strong Posts, 21st -24th August 1917

Attack on Strongpoints, South East of St. Julian, 22nd August 1917

The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)

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