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

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1917, APRIL 30th – RELIEF BY 2/4th ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT COMPLETE 1.00 AM

Dug Outs in Attilly (near Holnon),  2 May 1917 Rose, Geoffrey K (MC)  A view along a railway track, which runs through a narrow man-made valley bordered by steep earth banks. British soldiers are gathered along the left bank, with men sitting on the ground amongst equipment and stacked rifles.

Dug Outs in Attilly (near Holnon),
2 May 1917
Rose, Geoffrey K (MC)
A view along a railway track, which runs through a narrow man-made valley bordered by steep earth banks. British soldiers are gathered along the left bank, with men sitting on the ground amongst equipment and stacked rifles.

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

Though chased a little on the way by shells, the Battalion had an easy march to Holnon Wood, in which a pleasant resting place was found. The trees and undergrowth, just bursting into green, presented happy contrast to the dust and danger of Fayet.

In the sandy railway cutting, where the single line turns through the wood to reach Attilly, companies sat during the day and slept secure at night. Transport and cookers were near, and for a spell one was on terms of friendship with the world

War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1917-04-29

Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire


Location France, Bois d’holnom


Entry [This entry covers 29th/30th April 1917] The Battn relieved the 2/4 OXFORDS in the front line on night 29th/30th, relief complete by 1am 30th.

1916, SEPTEMBER 19th – RELIEVED FROM THE LEFT SUB-SECTION OF THE MOATED GRANGE SECTOR BY the 2/4th ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT

Laventie, Showing The Fauquissart Sector 1916 From the The Story of the 2/5th Gloucestershire Regiment 1914-1918, by A. F. Barnes, M.C.

Laventie, Showing The Fauquissart Sector 1916
From the The Story of the 2/5th Gloucestershire Regiment 1914-1918, by A. F. Barnes, M.C.

 War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1916-09-19

Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire
Location France, Riez Bailleul
Entry Battn relieved 2/4 OXFORD and BUCKS LI on Left Sub Section of MOATED GRANGE Sector – 2/7 ROYAL WARWICKS on our Left (183rd Bde) (casualties 2 OR wounded).

1918, MARCH 20th – FORWARD ZONE BETWEEN GRISCOURT AND FAYET

Redoubts 21st March 1918 The Fifth Army in March 1918 Walter Shaw Sparrow

Redoubts 21st March 1918
The Fifth Army in March 1918
Walter Shaw Sparrow

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

During the night of March 20 a raid on the Battalion’s right was carried out near Cepy Farm by the 182nd Brigade. It was successful. German prisoners from three divisions corroborated our suspicion that the great enemy offensive was about to be launched. From headquarters to headquarters throbbed the order to man battle stations.

From The Story of the 2/5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment, 1914 – 1918, by A. F. Barnes, M. C., (Gloucester, The Crypt House Press, Limited, 1930)

On the night of the 20th/21st of March a strong raid by the 2/6th Warwicks was made against the enemy trenches east of Fayet. This raid was completely successful, and resulted in the capture of fifteen prisoners and three machine-guns, establishing the fact that the enemy forces opposite our immediate front had been increased by at least two Divisions, and, from prisoner statements, that an attack would be launched on the morning of the 21st.

The Fifth Army in March 1918, by Walter Shaw Sparrow, John Lane Company (1921)

Next evening, at ten o’clock, after our guns had poured in a great many shells, two companies of Warwickshire troops – Shakespeare for ever!—raided the German trenches beyond Fayet, partly to get a few prisoners, and partly to learn how much the foe’s ordinary line troops had been reinforced. Fifteen Germans were captured, and three German regiments, nine battalions, were found on a span of front formerly held by one regiment, or three battalions. More valuable still was the news that in five or six hours Ludendorff would open his attack. This warning was made known at once to all Headquarters, British and French.*

* Ludendorff says, I believe with truth, that on March 18 or 19 two Germans deserted from a trench mortar company and gave information to us of the impending attack.

War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1918-03-20
Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire
Location France, Ugny
Entry The ADJUTANT – INTELLIGENCE OFFICER and one Officer per Company spent the day in reconnoitring the ground of the Battle Zone Sector and the ground between SPOONER REDOUBT and HOLNON WOOD, being one of the positions to which the Battalion be required to move in the event of an attack. Light Training was carried out by the Battalion.

1918, MARCH 18th – MOVING FROM THE ATTILLY HUTS IN THE BATTLE ZONE TO THE FORWARD ZONE NEAR FAYET

Redoubts 21st March 1918 The Fifth Army in March 1918 Walter Shaw Sparrow

Redoubts 21st March 1918
The Fifth Army in March 1918
Walter Shaw Sparrow

 

The following narrative of events from March 18th to 25th, 1918, was written shortly afterwards by Lieut.-Colonel H. E. de R. Wetherall, D.S.O., M.C., Commanding the 2/4th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry:

My Battalion, in the natural course of reliefs, went up on the 18th March to hold the Forward Zone for 8 days.

War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1918-03-18
Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire
Location France, Gricourt-Fayet St Quentin Wood
Entry The Raid carried out last night was repeated in the hope of obtaining identifications. As soon as our Barrage commenced, however, the enemy replied intensely and the flanks of the point of entry were strongly manned with rifles and machine guns resulting in our raiding party being beaten off without effecting an entry.

From The Story of the 2/5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment, 1914 – 1918, by A. F. Barnes, M. C., (Gloucester, The Crypt House Press, Limited, 1930)

On March 18th the Battalion relieved the 2/4th Oxfords and took over the defences of Holnon Wood, one of the strong points in the Battle Zone.

1918, FEBRUARY 22nd – REORGANIZATION OF THE 184th BRIGADE

Redoubts 21st March 1918 The Fifth Army in March 1918 Walter Shaw Sparrow

Redoubts 21st March 1918
The Fifth Army in March 1918
Walter Shaw Sparrow

War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1918-02-22

Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire

Location France, Holnon Wood

Entry The morning was spent preparing to march and in the afternoon the Battalion moved to UGNY. The 184 Brigade which has been reorganised now consists of 3 Battalions disposed in depth.

2/4th Bn OXFORD AND BUCKS LIGHT INFANTRY in the Front Line.

2/5th Bn GLOSTER Regiment in HOLNON WOOD.

2/4th Bn ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT at UGNY.

184th BRIGADE HQ are at ATILLY.

61st DIVISION HQ are at AUROIR

XV111 CORPS HQ are at HAM

Fifth ARMY HQ are at NESLE.

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 three Battalions which remained were now arranged in ‘depth,’ a phrase explained by stating that while one, say the Berks, held the front line ‘twixt Fayet and Gricourt, the Gloucesters as Support Battalion would be in Holnon Wood and ourselves, the Oxfords, in reserve and back at Ugny. When a relief took place the Gloucesters went to the front line, ourselves to Holnon, and the Berks back to Ugny. The Battalion holding the line was similarly disposed in ‘depth,’ for its headquarters and one company were placed more than a mile behind the actual front.

From The Story of the 2/5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment, 1914-1918, by A. F. Barnes, M.C.

A new system of defences was adopted by General Headquarters (Early 1918). There were to be three distinct areas of defence – a Forward, a Battle, and a Rear Zone. The Forward Zone was to consist of a line of outposts with strong fortified redoubts on the rising ground behind. These redoubts though from 500 to 1,500 yards apart, were not connected up by any system of trenches but a single line of barbed wire with a machine-gun post here and there. The redoubts and the machine-gun forts were sited so that they could sweep with converging fire all the intervening low lying ground. The depth of the Forward Zone was about 3,000 yards and its purpose was to break up and disorganize the leading troops of the German assault.

Behind this came the Battle Zone, consisting also of Redoubts but without the line of outposts.

The Last line was the Rear Zone, some two miles behind the Battle Zone and consisting of a double line of trenches.

So far as the 184th was concerned, the forward battalion held a line of posts north of Fayet with a strong point at Enghien Redoubt. These posts were very lightly held and were at distances of approximately 100 yards. The support Battalion held that part of the Battle Zone which lay along the front of Holnon Wood, The reserve battalion was some miles behind at a village called Ugny.

1916, NOVEMBER 24th – IN TRENCHES NEAR GRANDCOURT

Trenches Near Grandcourt November and Dececember 1916

War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1916-11-24
Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire
Location France, Trenches
Entry Normal artillery activity on both sides. Lt Col R S Salkeld evacuated to hospital sick. Capt H J BENNETT assumed command. Casualties 2 OR killed 2 OR wounded.

Note: Captain H. J. Bennett had only just joined the 2/4th Royal Berkshire regiment from the 2/4th Oxfords on the 19th November 1916.

1916, NOVEMBER 23rd – IN TRENCHES NEAR GRANDCOURT

Trenches Near Grandcourt November and Dececember 1916

War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1916-11-23
Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire
Location France, Trenches
Entry Normal artillery activity on both sides. Casualties 2 OR killed 5 OR wounded.

1916, AUGUST 15th – RELIEVED BY THE 2/4th ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT FROM THE TRENCHES AT FAUQUISSART

Laventie, Showing The Fauquissart Sector 1916

Laventie, Showing The Fauquissart Sector 1916

After the Relief moved to Laventie.

War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1916-08-15
 Regiment.

2/4th Royal Berkshire

Location France, Laventie

Entry Took over Left Sub Section of FAUQUISSART Sector of Trenches from 2/4 OXFORD and BUCK LI. Relief completed 6pm. 2/5th GLOSTERS on our Right. AUSTRALIANS on our Left.

1916, DECEMBER 24th – RELIEVED THE 2/4th ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT IN THE FRONT LINE ON CHRISTMAS EVE

 Trenches Near Grandcourt November and Dececember 1916

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 Christmas Eve, 1916, the Battalion relieved the front line. Brown and Davenport took their companies to Desire and Regina. Battalion Headquarters had an improved position at Zollern Redoubt, and their old dug-out in Hessian was left to D Company Headquarters. Robinson with C Company was also in Hessian, to the left of D. His headquarters possessed plenty of depth but neither height nor breadth. The dug-out entrance was the size of a large letter-box and nearly level with the trench floor.

After the march up, the remainder of the night was devoted to the trying process of ‘getting touch.’ This meant finding the neighbouring sentry-posts on each flank–an important duty, for the Germans usually knew the date and sometimes the hour of our reliefs and the limits of frontage held by different units (we naturally were similarly informed about the enemy). For reasons of security no relief could be held complete before not only our own men were safely in but our flanks were established by touch with neighbouring posts.

In the course of the very relief I have mentioned, a platoon of one battalion reached the front line but remained lost for more than a day. It could neither get touch with others nor others with it. ‘Getting touch’ seemed easy on a map and was often done in statements over the telephone. Tangible relations were more difficult and efforts to obtain them often involved most exasperating situations, for whole nights could be spent meandering in search of positions, which in reality were only a few hundred yards distant. Total absence of guiding landmarks was freely remarked as the most striking characteristic of this part of the Somme area. I refer only to night movement, for by day there were always distant objects to steer by, and the foreground, seemingly a cratered wilderness of mud, to the trained eye wore a multitude of significant objects.

My last topic introduces the regimental guide. Guides performed some of the hardest and most responsible work of the war. Staff work could at time be botched or boggled without ill-effects; for mistakes by guides some heavy penalty was paid. Whenever a relief took place, men to lead up the incoming unit into the positions it was to occupy were sent back, usually one per platoon, or, in cases of difficult relief and when platoon strengths were different, one per sentry-post. Guides rarely received much credit when reliefs went well, but always the blame when they went ill. The private soldiers, who guided our troops into trench and battle, played a greater part in winning the war than any record has ever confessed.

War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1916-12-24

Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire

Location France, Trenches

Entry Battn relieved by 2/4 OXFORDS – 1 Coy in support MOUQUET FARM, 1 Coy in dug outs at R26.b.5 9 R26a.27 and R32,g.8 and 2 Coys to WELLINGTON HUTS. Capt Bennett (OXFORDS) returned to his Bn. Draft of 76 arrived.

1916, NOVEMBER 25th – FRONT LINE ALONG DESIRE

Trenches Near Grandcourt November and Dececember 1916

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 evening of November 25, 1916, Robinson of C Company and myself, taking Hunt and Timms (my runner) and one signaller, left for the front line. This was being held along Desire–my fondness for this trench never warranted that name–with a line of resistance in Regina, a very famous German trench, for which there had recently been heavy fighting. Our reconnaissance, which was completed at dawn, was lucky and satisfactory; moreover–I do not refer to any lack of refreshment by the Berks company commander–I was still dry at its conclusion, having declined all the communication trenches, which were already threatening to become impassable owing to mud.

KILLED IN ACTION 25th NOVEMBER 1916

20413 Private Herbert Gerald Montague

Herbert Gerald Montague

Herbert Gerald Montague’s short and adventurous life is detailed below.

 

DeRuvigny’s Roll of Honour, 1914 – 1924

MONTAGU, HERBERT GERALD, Private, No. 20413, 4th Battn. The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, late Lieut. The Royal Munster Fusiliers, 2ns s. of Alfred John Montagu. Of Braeside, Hillingdon, co. Middlesex, formerly of Colnbrook, co. Buckingham, by his Wife Hester Vaudrey, dau. Of the late James Holland, of Manchester; b. Perth, Western Australia, 20 Nov. 1892; educ. St. Paul’s School, London, where he played polo for the school; won the 1909 Bantam Weight, competition at Aldershot the year of its foundation.; was gazetted 2nd Lieut. 5th Battn. The Royal Fusiliers 1 April 1911, and attached to the 4th Battn. At Aldershot, afterwards became a familiar figure at the Regimental hunts in the Curragh, and well known as an excellent shot. On the outbreak of the Turko-Italian War, anxious to see active service, he offered himself to the TurkishGoverment and after a long and adventurous journey reached Turkish Headquarters. During this Journey he and Mr. Seppings Wright, War Artist for the “Illustrated London News” whom he met at Sfax, also on his way to Turkish Headquarters, were owing to rough weather, stranded on an island, where they existed on octopus and porpoise for three days, threatened meanwhile by a mutinous native crew. After leaving the island their fresh water gave out, and suffering terribly from thirst, they finally reached Zwarra, whence Mr. Montagu proceeded by camel to the Turkish Headquarters. Here he was given the rank of Captain, with a command of 3,000 Turkish troops and Arab irregulars comprising the right flank of the Turkish forces. He was three times mentioned in Despatches, and his gallantry and his control over undisciplined Arab troops led Mr. Alan Ostler, War Correspondent with the Turkish forces, to describe him as the “Paladin of the Desert.” He was severely wounded in Dec., and later returned to England suffering from dysentery, having in the meantime been notified that the War Office demanded his resignation for communicating with the Press, as it was he who sent a cable exposing the massacre of women and children whose body he found in a mosque; subsequently he receieved an illuminated address from the representatives of the Moslem community resident in England. Later he visited Constantinople as the guest of the Minister of War, when he was decorated by the Sultan with the Odre Imperial du Medjidie and the Ordre de la Gloire Nichon-I-Iftikhar, who also appointed him an A.D.C. At this time an attempt was made on his life which happily failed; returned to England in March, 1913, suffering from the effects of typhoid; was reinstated as Lieut. In Aug. 1914, being attached to the Royal Munster Fusiliers; served with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, 10th Division, at Gallipoli from july, 1915; took part in the landing at Sulva Bay; was wounded on the ridge at Kislagh Dagh, and invalided home in Sept. with a septic wound and nerous breakdown., being invalided out f the Army after a year’s ill-health. On recovery he enlisted as a Private in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, preferring not to wait in the hope of regaining his commission; proceeded to France 2 Nov., and was killed in action at Moquet Farm, near Thiepval, 25 Nov. 1916, while carrying despatches to the base, only a few days before the recommendation for his reinstatement and consequent return to England. He m. in London, 15 Oct, 1913, Mai Hermoine, only au. Of the late James Cunningham Mitchell, Indian Police, Simla.

Limerick Chronicle, January, 1917.

Romantic Career Ended on battlefield.

The death in action is announced of Herbert Gerald Montagu, a private in the Oxford and Bucks, Light Infantry, formerly a lieutenant in the Royal Munster Fusiliers. Mr Montagu was deprived of his commission in the Royal Fusiliers for joining the Turkish Army in Tripoli without leave. He took a romantic part in the Turkish-Italian war in Northern Africa in 1911, and was subsequently decorated by the Sultan with the Orders of the Mejidie and Nichan-Lftikhar for conspicuous bravery in the field. At the conclusion of the Tripoli campaign he returned wounded to England, and was presented with an illuminated address on behalf of the Moslem community in this country. As Lieutenant in the Royal Munster Fusiliers he tool part in the Suvla Bay landing and in other Gallipoli operations, was wounded at Kislag Dagh, and ultimately returned to England in September 1915, suffering from septic wounds and nervous breakdown. Immediately he was fit he joined the ranks, went to France, and there met his death at the age of 24. He was the second son of Mr and Mrs A J Montagu, of Braeside, Hillingdon, late of Colnbrook. He was educated at St Paul’s School.—“Daily Sketch.”

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

1916-11-25

Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire

Location France, Trenches

Entry Normal artillery activity on both sides.

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