16.4.1916 CAPPEL FERMONT: Lt F.W. HIPKINS & 5 men proceeded to Lewis Gun Course CAMIERS for 1 weeks course.
Night of 16th/17th April: The French Miners exploded two mines 1) at head of GRANGE C.T. at 11.55 P.M. & 2) and at head of BIRKIN C.T. (under old crater) at 11.59 P.M.
2/Lt HOLDERNESS killed & 1 other rank [4536 Pte Arthur Brown from Matlock] ; 3 O.R. wounded [3127 Pte Percy Holford from Rotherham].
2/Lt HOLDERNESS had been most useful as an Interpreter for the Battalion.
"I suppose you heard of the death of Arthur Brown from the Warehouse, he was shot while he, with several others were taking a crater that had just been blown up under the Germans by our sapper, both he and the Officers in charge were killed" 1839 Pte Stanley Wykes a Clerk Attendant from Matlock
- APPENDIX II Bde Operations Order No 53 Battn Orders 53 April 1916
- APPENDIX III Memo Re II
- APPENDIX IV Bn Operations Orders Operation Order April 1916
- APPENDIX V Message From 139 Bde
- APPENDIX VI Report on Operation Report on Operations April 1916
War Diary [WO/95/2694]
At midnight this evening we exploded mines at points of BIRKIN & GRANGE (See O.O. No 53 attached).
The former mine was exploded 6 minutes before time & the letter 2 minutes.
The Germans apparently were quite ready for both these explosions & opened a hot Machine Gun fire, in addition to rifle fire as soon as the mines went up.
All the orders for consolidating the craters worked very well & both positions were snug [sic] by the morning.
Raiding parties were sent out from each Crater with the object of getting into the enemy trenches during the confusion, using their bayonets & returning with prisoners. Neither were successful in attaining their objective though the party from Grange actually got into the German trench which they found strongly held & prepared.
The Officer in Command was very fortunate under the circumstances in being able to withdraw his party without any casualties except himself slightly wounded.
The GRANGE CRATER is a very large one, some 100 yards in diameter & the BIRKIN CRATER has wrecked the enemy’s front trenches & knocked out a sniping & strong point he had in rear of the original Crate.
The G.O.C. Division sent his congratulations & appreciation for the manner in which the operations had been arranged & carried out.
139 Infantry Brigade: Headquarters War Diary [WO95/2692]
Operation Order No. 53
Brig.-General C.T. Shipley C.B.
Commanding 139th Inf Brigade
Reference Trench Map 1/5000 April 16th 1916
1. The following mines will be exposed tonight the 16th/17th instant at 12 midnight:-
(a) P.75. “P” at point of BIRKIN
(b) P.75. “O” at point of GRANGE
2. These Operations will be under the Command of the following Officers.
(a) BIRKIN MINE Lieut.-Colonel GOODMAN, 6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters, Commanding the RIGHT SECTOR.
(b) GRANGE MINE Lieut.-Colonel BLACKWALL, 8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters, Commanding the LEFT SECTOR.
Report on Operations
The trenches specified in Bde Orders were cleared by 11.45 pm and at 11.52pm it was reported to me that our parties were in place. At 11.53 pm a shock wave was felt which proved to be the explosion of the GRANGE MINE before the given time. This tended to cause confusion. However at 11.59 pm the second shock was felt and the artillery were directed to start firing.
At 12.10 am 2/Lt HOLDERNESS reported that his digging party were enfiladed from the right and unable to out to dig. I sent CAPT JACKSON forward and by 12.18 am received a further report that that the digging party were being posted.
Eventually a trench was dug a few feet in rear of the original CRATER TRENCH linking up the outpost line as before. An observation post was not fully completed.
Shortly before 4 am I regret to say that 2/Lt HOLDERNESS was fatally wounded while employed in fixing wire palisades, and I regret to say that he died.
An inspection of the crater from the observation post showed that it was about 30 yards inside diameter and about 15 feet deep. It must have carried away the enemy loophole post. barricades and a good deal of his front line trench. It is of an unusual length and the ground to the south is covered in chalk. The new crater projects to the right of the old outpost line and it is a question whether it is desirable to make a short trench joining the new CRATER TRENCH with a portion of COMMON C.T. beyond our present one. Both ends of the the new CRATER TRENCH are occupied by Bombers.
I attach 2/Lt EVANS’ report on his attempted raid I directed him to make a second attempt if he saw any way of doing it successfully as I thought he had mistaken the direction first time. Fortunately, although his party came under heavy rifle fire, he was able to withdraw without loss.
On viewing the ground at daybreak I saw that the attempt could not have succeeded. Apparently the post we intended to seize and the adjacent position was obliterated and it would have been practically impossible to cross the chalk without being seen.
Our shrapnel appeared to burst very effectively. Unfortunately the 2″ French Mortar and the Stokes Gun could not fire. The former had not registered owing to shortness of notice and the latter was defective at the time.
My Lewis Guns did good work. One of the 3 on the left took on the German Gun that was enfilading the CRATER TRENCH, eventually silenced it.
The total casualties are killed 1 Officer, 1 Other Ranks. Wounded 4 Other Ranks
17.4.16 6.50 am (Sgd) G D Goodman Lt.-Col. 6/Sherwood Foresters.
I have a photo of the grave/headstone of 2/LT Holderness if you would like to have it. He is buried next to my great grandfather Pte. John Ernest Pawley 4295 of the Notts. and Derby Regiment who was killed in action on 18th April 1916 near the Albany CT.
Angela, many thanks for the offer of the photo. I do already have one and on checking I also took a picture of your grt grt g/father’s grave at the time. Unfortunately there is not much written about how/why John Pawley was killed or what the 1/5th were doing that day/night other than securing the crater that was exploded the night before. Cheers mike
Thanks for replying Mike. Every little bit of information helps. I follow your On this Day posts and find them fascinating. Great website. If you happen to have any photos of his battalion I’d love to see them. I’ve been searching for some time now and haven’t been able to find a photo of him. No family photos either.
Thanks Angela – glad you like the posts. I assume that you have a copy of John’s service record from Ancestry? Mike
I have his enlistment papers etc. that are available online and the war diaries. Don’t think I’m missing anything other than a photo. I’ve been to visit his grave twice in the last couple of years. Also followed in his footsteps as much as possible. Amazing trip.