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

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1917, MARCH 9th – RELIEVED THE 2/4th ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT IN THE VALET SUB-SECTION OF DENICOURT TRENCHES

Ablaincourt Sector

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

1917-03-09

Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire

Location France, Denicourt Trenches

Entry Relieved by 2/4 OXFORDS. Battalion went into Brigade Support. A Coy at Poplar Copse, B Coy BOURGEAT Trench, C Coy BOVENT COPSE, D Coy LETHE Trench. Battn HQ’rs near DENICOURT. Relief complete by 2am on 10th.

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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, JUNE 21st – RELIEVED FROM THE RED HOUSE SUB-SECTION OF THE FANQUISSART SECTION BY THE 2/4th ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT AND WENT IN SUPPORT AT LAVENTIE

June 21st-27th the Battalion was in support at Laventie.

KILLED IN ACTION JUNE 21st 1916

4103 Private Albert Joseph Randall

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

1916-06-21
Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire
Location France, Trenches
Entry Relieved 2/4 OXFORDS. Complete 9.30pm. Coys in same position as before. Listening Patrols out. Sap started from No 5 Sally Post and PICANTIN AVENUE. Heavy firing in S.

1916, JUNE 15th – RELIEVED THE 2/4th ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT IN THE RED HOUSE SUB-SECTION OF THE FANQUISSART SECTION

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

From 15th-21st June the Battalion was in the trenches in the Red House Sub-section of the Fanquissart section.

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

1916-06-15
Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire
Location France, Trenches
Entry Quiet day. Relieved by 2/4 OXFORDS at 11pm and moved back to rest billets in LAVENTIE. 1 Coy holds 2 Platoons in LAVENTIE E POST, 1 Platoon HOUGOUMONT, 1 Platoon DEAD END POST, 1 Platoon in PICANTIN POST. 2 Platoons ready to move at 15 minutes notice.

1917, FEBRUARY 22nd – RECONNOITRING THE NEW FRONT LINE AT ABLAINCOURT

Ablaincourt Sector

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

It is morning of February 22, 1917. Colonel Bellamy and his four company commanders are setting out to reconnoitre the new front line. Guides are to meet us at Deniécourt Château, a heap of chalk slabs and old bricks, beneath which are Brigade Headquarters. To reach this rendez-vous_ we pass through Foucaucourt and then along a corduroy road through Deniécourt Wood to the village of that name. The wood has been fought through and but few branches remain on the trees, whose trunks, like so many untidy telegraph poles, rise to various heights from the upheaval of shell-holes and undergrowth. Dismal surroundings on a dismal morning, for the frost has relented for several days and already sides of trenches are collapsing (flop go the chunks into the water!) and on top the ground is loading one’s boots at every step.

We change into gumboots in an old cellar and our journey commences. See 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. The going is desperate–water up to our knees; however, each hundred yards brings our goal nearer, and it can hardly be like this all the way. We come to a trench junction, and our guide turns left-handed; presently another–the guide knows the way and again turns to the left. Confound the mud! If we do not get there soon we shall never be home for lunch … but we do not get there soon. The guide, always protesting that he knows the way, has led us in a circle and here we are whence we started an hour ago!

After such well-meaning mockery of our efforts, a route ‘over the top’ is tried. Soon we are outside Battalion Headquarters of the Berks. Whilst we are there, German gas shelling starts–a few rounds of phosgene–and helmets require to be adjusted. It is not everybody’s helmet that fits, this being the first real occasion on which some officers have worn them. There is some laughing to see the strictest censor of a gas helmet (or its absence) in difficulties with his own, when the moment for its adjustment has arrived.

The company commanders duly separate to go up to their own sections of the front. They see the ‘posts,’ or any of them that can be visited in daylight, make notes of local details affecting the relief, and so home independently.

Billets never seemed so comfortable or attractive as on the night preceding a relief. Perhaps they would have seemed more so had the Battalion known, what luckily it could not, that an unpleasant tour was in store, and that afterwards, with the enemy in retreat, there would be no more billets until the summer.

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

1917-02-22
Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire
Location France, Trenches Deniecourt
Entry Greater artillery activity. 1 OR wounded (gas).

1917, FEBRUARY 23rd – RELIEVED THE 2/4th BERKS – ABLAINCOURT SECTOR

Ablaincourt Sector

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 afternoon of February 23, we marched up to relieve the Berks. Near Foucaucourt the cookers gave us tea. There also we changed into gumboots. Guides met us at Estrées cross-roads, a trysting place possible only when dusk had fallen, and the lugubrious procession started along a tramway track among whose iron sleepers the men floundered considerably, partly from their precaution of choosing gumboots several sizes too large. On this occasion the usual stoppages and checks were multiplied by a brisk artillery ‘strafe’ upon the front, accompanied by all manner of coloured lights and rockets. The noise soon dying down we were able to continue a bad journey with men frequently becoming stuck and a few lost.

The Battalion relieved the 2/4th R. Berks in the left sub-section of the Ablaincourt sector. Dispositions : A Company on the left, C centre, D right, B in support.

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

1917-02-23

Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire

Location France, Trenches Deniecourt

Entry Great artillery 7-45pm – 8-30pm. 1 OR killed 1 wounded. Battn relieved by 2/4th OXFORDS.

1916, JULY 13th, 1916 – TRENCH MORTAR TIT FOR TAT

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

On 13th July the Berkshire Battalion carried out a raid. During the raid a 5.9 shell went into the hospital dug-out, but luckily did not cause any casualties. Lieut. Brown distinguished himself by his work in recovering the wounded on this occasion. On the night of 12th (/ 13th) July an unfortunate accident happened to D Company. ‘They were occupying a part of the trench peculiarly liable to retaliation by trench-mortars, which was always cleared if our trench-mortars contemplated firing. A trench-mortar was fired without any warning to the officer commanding the Company, and a trench-mortar bomb fired by the enemy caught a whole platoon of D Company and made casualties of the lot.

KILLED IN ACTION JULY 13th, 1916

James Frederick Durham

4250 Private James Durham

3686 Private Herbert Winfield

From the War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Thursday 13th July 1916, France, Croix Barbee.

Cleaning up. Preparation for Raid by party from “A” Coy, consisting of Capt. E P Lucas, Lieut. O V Dowson, 2nd Lieut. J H Skene, 2nd Lieut. G A Brooke, and 100 OR. Operation Orders and Supplementary Orders attached. Owing to casualties in RE party carrying Bangalore Torpedo only 2nd Lieut. J H Skene with a small party were able to get through enemy’s wire. Raiding party returned to our Trenches at 10.50pm (Casualties 1 Officer Killed (Lieut. R V C F Freeth) 3 wounded (Capt. E P Lucas, Lieut. O J Dowson and 2nd Lieut. G A Brooke) 1 missing (2nd Lieut. J H Skene) Other ranks 6K, 14W, 1 Shell shock, 12 missing.

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