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

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

Archive for the tag “Soyecourt”

1917, APRIL 5th – FRONT-LINE EAST OF SOYECOURT

By G. K. Rose.

By G. K. Rose.

Enemy’s artillery less active; 1 man 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)

On the next night a battalion of Sherwood Foresters relieved D Company, which returned to its wood, but B and C Companies remained holding the line. John Stockton, who now commanded B, was ill, but refused to leave the trenches and carried on in a most determined manner under shocking weather conditions. A new officer, Allden, in my company also proved his worth about this time. Events of some sort were of hourly occurrence. The 2/5th Gloucesters held the line on the Battalion’s right, near the Omignon river. One night, after a heavy bombardment with 4.2s, the Germans

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1917, APRIL 4th – FRONT-LINE EAST OF SOYECOURT

By G. K. Rose.

By G. K. Rose.

 Snowing all day. The front posts were heavily shelled during the morning; 1 killed, 2 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)

In the early morning of April 4 the 59th Division, which was operating on the Battalion’s left, attacked Le Vergier. Fighting continued till noon, but the village was not taken. The 59th lost heavily. As they formed up for their advance–which was for some 1,000 yards across the open and exposed to view–behind the line the Battalion was holding, considerable enemy fire was brought down upon us and I lost Sergeant Watkins, wounded in the arm, and several other casualties. It snowed nearly all day. In the shallow trenches, which were ill-sited both for drainage and concealment from the enemy, life was miserable. 

Killed in Action 4th April 1917

201985 Private George Loveridge (Likely to have been D Company)

Died of Wounds 4th April 1917

201448 Private Creswick Franklin

1917, APRIL 3rd – RELIEVED 2/1st BUCKS EAST OF SOYECOURT

By G. K. Rose.

By G. K. Rose.

Moved up to the line and relieved the 2/1st Bucks in the sector east of Soyecourt;

D Company in front-line posts;

C in close support;

B at railway embankment at Montolu Wood;

A and Battalion H.Q. at Soyecourt.

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

At midnight, April 3/4, the Battalion relieved the Bucks. B, C, and D Companies shared the new outpost line. Headquarters and A Company went to Soyécourt. The relief, the first of its kind, was difficult. In my own front a small brushwood copse was reputed to contain a sentry post. The ground was dotted with small copses which the darkness made indistinguishable, and no report of this post’s relief was ever made. When dawn was breaking in the sky, Sergeant Watkins, accompanied by the Bucks guides, returned to say that no sentry group nor post in any copse could be found. The most likely copse was then garrisoned and the night’s mystery and labour ceased.

Further advance was evidently in store. The smoke of burning villages still mounted the sky. At night a glow showed where a great fire in St. Quentin was ablaze. The weather now changed for the worse. Hail, rain and snow prevailed alternately. A fierce wind blew. Winter conditions were repeated in the outpost line, where no shelter other than tarpaulins rigged across the shallow trenches existed. Nor was the artillery inactive. As the enemy’s resistance stiffened, shells commenced to fall on fields yet unscarred by trench or shell-hole. Better ammunition seemed to be in use–or was it a month’s holiday from shells that made it seem so?–and more subtlety was shown by German gunners in their choice of targets. Our casualties, though not numerous, proved that the war, in most of its old incidents, had been resumed.

1917, MARCH 30th – ONWARDS TO TERTRY

By G. K. Rose.

By G. K. Rose.

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 resume the war. On March 30 the Warwicks entered Soyécourt and shortly afterwards the Bucks relieved their outpost line. We ourselves reached Tertry on the 30th,

1917, APRIL 7th – FAILED ATTACK AND RELIEF BY THE 2/1st BUCKS

AdvanceStQuentin

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

Before dawn our troops were in their old positions.

In the attack the sergeant-majors of both A and B Companies were hit. Of the officers, Barton, commanding B, and Tilly, of A, were killed. Aitken and Wayte were wounded. Nearly 40 of rank and file were casualties.

The attack had proved a failure, but, as often happened, hopes of success were reluctantly abandoned by the staff. Thus my company was warned that it might have to repeat the attack at dawn. Pending such a fate, I was sent to bivouac in a windswept spinney known as Ponne Copse. It was still snowing. After their week’s exposure I was loth to inform my men of such a destiny.

But a more favourable turn of events was in store. The weather cleared, and at 11 a.m. on the 7th I was allowed to return to my version of Montolu Wood. On the same day the Battalion was relieved by the Bucks and marched back through Soyécourt to Caulaincourt. There we found Bennett, who had come from the Aldershot course to be Second in Command. The château grounds were quieter than before, for our guns had now moved further up towards the line.

On relief by the 2/1st Bucks, the Battalion moved to Caulaincourt, except B Company, who went into close support at Sailor’s Wood.

KILLED IN ACTION APRIL 7th 1917

Lieutenant C. J. Barton

2nd Lieutenant A. H. Tilly

200230 Company Sergeant Major Cecil Amos Witney

200917 Sergeant Bertie Elliott

200401 Lance Corporal William James Pacey

200864 Lance corporal Richard Yeates

203455 Private Donald Carruthers

200924 Private Frederick Jesse Gulliver

203473 Private Edward Harris (Formerly 2768, R. Bucks Hussars)

201263 Private Francis Walter Salcombe

1917, APRIL 6th – GOOD FRIDAY ATTACK EAST OF SOYECOURT

AdvanceStQuentin

The 184th Brigade attacked the enemy’s trenches; 2/5th Glosters on the right, 2/4th Oxford and Bucks on the left. “Zero” hour, midnight. A Company was the attacking company. The enemy wire was found to be uncut; two attempts were made to break through, but without success, and the attacking companies, were consequently forced to withdraw. Casualties. — Lieut. C. J. Barton and 8 men killed; 2nd Lieuts. J. P. Wayte, R. Aitken, A. H. Tilley and 21 men wounded (2nd Lieut. A. H. Tilley afterwards died of his wounds)

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

For April 6–Good Friday, 1917–an attack on a large scale had been arranged. The 59th Division on our left, the Gloucesters and the 182nd Brigade on our right, shared in the operations. The line was to be advanced a mile on both sides of the Omignon. The Battalion’s objective was a line of trenches recently dug by the enemy and running between Le Vergier and the river. To capture them Brown’s company, which hitherto had stayed in reserve at Soyécourt in tolerable accommodation, was selected. B and D Companies were ordered to keep close behind A to support the attack, while C remained to garrison the outpost line.

Zero was midnight, but before that snow and sleet were falling heavily. It proved the dirtiest night imaginable. Companies moved in columns across the 1,000 yards of open fields between their old positions and the objective, against which our artillery kept up as severe a fire as possible. That fire was less effective than was hoped. In its advance A Company lost men from our own shells, of which nearly all were seen to be falling very short. The German wire, still the great argument to face in an attack, was found uncut. Although at first inclined to surrender, the enemy soon saw the failure of our men to find a gap. Machine-guns were manned, which swept the ground with a fierce enfilade fire. Brown, Aitken, and Wayte behaved in a most gallant manner, the line was rallied, and a renewed attempt made to storm the trenches. In vain. No troops will stand against machine-gun fire in the open when no object can be achieved. It was idle to repeat the attack or send fresh companies to share the forlorn enterprise.

KILLED IN ACTION APRIL 6th 1917

201177 Lance Sergeant Francis Hugh Silvester Smith

1917, APRIL 5th – FRONT-LINE EAST OF SOYECOURT

AdvanceStQuentin

Enemy’s artillery less active; 1 man wounded.

Ruins of the Château of Soyecourt, in the Santerre, May 1917: Rubble of the food quarters on a mound with dead trees

Rubble of the food quarters on a mound with dead trees

At midnight, 3rd or 4th ApriI, 1917, 2/4th Battalion OBLI relieved the Bucks. B, C, and D Companies shared the new outpost line. Headquarters and A Company went to Soyécourt. This drawing by Sir Muirhead Bone illustrates the conditions they would have faced. The drawing is held by the British Museum. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_results.aspx?queryAll=People%2F!!%2FOR%2F!!%2F134893%2F!%2F134893-3-9%2F!%2FDonated+by+United+Kingdom%2F!%2F%2F!!%2F%2F!!!%2F&objectId=738378&partId=1&numpages=10&orig=%2Fresearch%2Fsearch_the_collection_database%2Fmuseum_no__provenance_search.aspx&currentPage=5

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