Category Archives: Trench Raid

3406/241056 Pte Richard Clewlow

A collier from Danesmore who arrived in France in 1916 and served until the end of the Great War. Here he is wearing the 1914 Pattern equipment.

These items were sold on eBay – I didn’t win the auction – but I think that his story needs to be told.

Diary page, which appears to be written on May 22nd 1916, which is consistent with the 8th – 10th Reinforcements.
July 1st 1917

Made an attack on Cite St Edwards [sic] at 2.45 AM. Got into German trenches held it until 8.0 AM but had to retire on account of being run out of bombs + ammunition. I was out numbered by the Germans. Come into support for D Coy Cite St Laurence [sic].

See here, here and here

August 8th 1917

2nd Lt Evans killed at 4pm – see here.

Richard Evans
September 21st and 22nd 1917

Relieved West Yorks in support on Hill 70. CO Col C B Benson killed – see here.

Moved into front line + relieved the Durham Light Infantry – see here.

Cyril Benton Johnson
October 4th 1917

One hours P drill. Relieved 5th S.F. in support in Hurdle Trench shelled all the way coming in from Loos – see here.

November 4th 1917

Raid. Missing. Sgt Salt M, L/C Brailsford WH, L/C Simpson, Pte Metcalfe C, Pte Ormerod, Pte Richardson.

See here and here.

September 27th – 29th 1918

Came up from Brigade Reserve ready for the attack.

In reserve.

Made an attack taken the village of Magny 5,000 prisoners 9 field guns we had tanks in action 32nd Division through us and advanced a way forward – see here.

On this day 18th June 1918 – a raid by the 1/5th Sherwoods


Artillery barrage commenced punctually at ZERO (12-35am) and was excellent except on right, where it fell rather short and delayed a party of “B” party from moving forward.

“A” Party

2/Lt Waterhouse and 20 other ranks reached their objective – house at X.16.c.60.70 and captured two prisoners with a births Lewis Gun adapted to German ammunition.

The house was then examined and one prisoner captured in cellar. Hose was then flooded with paraffin and burnt down. On leaving this house the OC Party discovered a German hiding underneath a tub and he shot him.

2/Lt Harry Waterhouse was awarded the Military Cross, London Gazette 24.9.1918: In a raid on enemy posts at Le Touret/Essars Sector on the night of 18/18 June he Commanded a platoon and captured an enemy post, taking three prisoners and machine gun. He personally killed one of the enemy at close quarters and it was chiefly owing to his fine example of courage and determination that the attack was successful.

943 Sergeant Harry Waterhouse of Chinley was Commissioned on the 27th March 1917.

“B” Party

Sergt Pope and 20 other ranks were divided by our barrage half the party reached the objective at X.16.c.75.75.

Two Germans were encountered on the way to this house, and these were killed, and papers taken prom their bodies. This house after being searched was also destroyed and the remainder of party joined “C” Party.

203500 Sergeant James Pope was awarded the Military Medal, London Gazette 21.10.1918. For gallantry and devotion to duty during a raid on several enemy posts near Le Touret on the night of 18th-19th June 1918, when he commanded one of the parties in the raid with great success.

Originally from London he enlisted into the Army Reserve in August 1914 and then served with the 9th Battalion (as 4971). He transferred to the 1/5th Battalion in September 1916 and was eventually posted home in September 1918 after receiving a gun shot wound. He was also awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

“C” Party

2.Lt Moore and 25 other ranks advanced along light railway and found 6 enemy in trench running alongside railway. Three of these were shot and killed in the trench, one bayonetted and two attempted to run towards orchard X16 central. These were both killed.

An Officer with knapsack also attempted to run from post X.16.c.73.90. He was shot at and dropped his pack and greatcoat. He ran for some distance and then fell apparently killed. The pack and greatcoat are sent herewith, also some papers taken from some of the killed enemy.

“D” and “E” Party

One Lewis Gun Section and 2/Lt Dench and 20 other ranks advanced along ditch on north side of RUE DE BOIS and under wire belt located previous daylight patrol of 2nd Lieut Nash. This Officer was unfortunately killed whilst completing an excellent reconnaissance.

2/Lt Joseph Richard Dench was to win the Military Cross for great dash and courage at Lehaucourt on September 29th 1918. He was also awarded two Bars for 3/10/18 (Montbrehain) and 6/11/18 (Prisches). Later served in Ireland with Auxiliaries.  


Although no men were reported killed on the patrol, the 1/5th Battalion did in fact suffer 3 men killed that day. It is not known if they had been mortally wounded on patrol.

7627/203257 L/Cpl John Thomas Archer aged 24. Son of William and Catherine Archer of 19 Grayling St., Derby. Arrived in France in December 1916 and only served overseas with 1/5th Battalion. Previously enlisted in Derbyshire Yeomanry in November 1915.

5515/202259 Pte James Robert Trodd aged 39. Son of William Thomas and Ann Trodd, of I, Bell Lane, Ditton, Maidstone. Native of New Hythe, Maidstone. Attested in December 1915 and posted to 3/5th Sherwood Foresters in March 1916. Originally arrived in France in July 1916 and served overseas with the 1/5th and 2/5th Battalions. Previously wounded on 26th August 1917 whilst serving with 2/5th Battalion.

1602/20005/203272 Thomas Watts. From Lenton in Nottinghamshire. A pre-War member of the Robin Hood Rifles who arrived in France with the 46th North Midland Division in February 1915.

On the night of 6th June 1918 – a ‘minor operation’

Night 6/7-6-18 LEFT SUBSECTOR GORRE SECTOR: A party consisting of Lieut HD VAUGHAN (in Command), 2/Lt F TOUCH and 58 other ranks raided area enclosed by X.23.c.97.80. – X.23.c.85.60. – X.23.d.00.50. – X.23.d.10.65 (Intel Map No. 2 RUE DU BOIS).

Enemy garrison was annihilated and one light machine gun captured.

Casualties suffered by party were light, 1 man being killed and Lieut HD Vaughan (slightly) and 3 OR wounded.

1/6th Battalion War Diary [WO/95/2694]

93793 Pte Albert Edward Cleaver aged 19 awas killed by a stray bullet

Son of Mr JE and Mrs R Cleaver of 32 Bescot St., Walsall. Mobilised in the summer of 1917 and only served overseas with the 1/6th Battalion.

[Image courtesy of Graham Conway]

Report on the Raid

At the time of the raid, the enemy had a wiring party out of from 20 to 30 men, on the front of attack. On our barrage opening, this party ran back to trench at X.23.d.0.7.

Our parties moving forward all met thin wire, which they cut through

The enemy threw a few bombs from his post and opened fire to our right flan, from his light machine gun in the Post (at the time of capture this gun had fired some 60 rounds).

Our parties rushed the Post and bayonetted the German who was still firing his gun

Several other Germans were killed in the Post. One German was seized by one of our men and hauled out of the Post. He refused to move and was apparently consequently killed.The remainder of the Post and wiring party ran away and attempted to cross the dyke at X.23.d.1.7.

There they met Sergt WAGG’s party (less six men who had joined in the fight at the Post. Sergt WAGG and three men shot several of the fleeing enemy and charged the remainder who turned back and were lost apparently running into the barrage about X.23.d.3.6.

1680/240211 Sergt Richard Wagg

At this time Lieut TOUCH gave the recall signal, it having been reported to him that a prisoner had been secured.

Frank Touch

The enemy attempted to fire a Gun at ZERO plus 2′ from X.23.a.95.00. This was silenced and completely controlled by our three flanking Lewis Guns. The enemy fired red lights from Cse. Du Raux and X.23.a.95.20 at 1.12am and the first shell fell at 1.15am behind our front line.

Cse. Du Raux

The device of throwing up Very lights from 200 yards to the right flank of raid for illuminating the dark night was particularly successful, the effect being one of bright moonlight.

Owing to the fact that it was believed a prisoner had been secured, sufficient care was not taken to obtain further identification. On return, an hour after the raid, a further patrol was sent out for this purpose but was unable to enter the post as there were 4 Germans there and a party of 20 were advancing over the open towards the Post. Fire was brought to bear on this party.

Our casualties were:-

1 Officer accidentally wounded

1 man slightly wounded

I am exceedingly annoyed at no identification being obtained

X.23 in 2017

On this day 24th May 1918 – our patrol was fired on and sustained casualties

24/5/18: Hostile artillery less active. During the night one of our patrols encountered an enemy post which had been unoccupied on previous nights. Our patrol was fired on and sustained some casualties.

139 Infantry Brigade: Headquarters War Diary [WO95/2692]

Missing on Patrol

“24th- L/Cpl Stevens wounded in wrist and face with whizz bang. Lt Wilkes killed on patrol getting information in view of raid”

2/Lt Albert Victor Wilkes was missing in action

266691 Pte Walter Hyman was missing in action aged 28

Son of Frederick Hyman of Basford; husband of Grace Annie Hyman of Ranby, Retford in Nottinghamshire. Walter arrived in France in 1916 and served with the 1/7th Battalion. He was later transferred to the 1/5th Battalion after the Territorial Force renumbering in the spring 1917. Walter does not have a known grave and is Commemorated on Loos Memorial; its possible that he was missing on patrol.

See here.

On this day 29th March 1918 – a raid on 1/5th Battalion positions

At 10-40pm the enemy commenced a slow trench mortar and Prieste Bomb bombardment along our front line and support line, from NABOB ALLEY to about line of Railway running through the centre of SATURDAY POST.

About 11-15pm this bombardment concentrated on to the front and support lines between N.8.b.40.15 to COSY TRENCH.

At 11-25pm as this bombardment appeared to be intensifying, the Right Company fired the S.O.S. Rocket and sent the message by wire to Battalion Headquarters. Our Artillery barrage came down promptly. Shortly afterwards out post N.8.b.57.58. saw 14 Germans advancing near out wire. Rifle and Lewis Gun fire were opened and the enemy disappeared towards his own line. It is believed that they suffered casualties, but no trace of these could be found later by our patrols.

Our Postbin COMMOTION SAP was also attacked and one of our men was killed by a bomb. The post, however, succeeded in driving the enemy away away by rifle fire and bombs at close quarters.

Unfortunately the enemy T.M. Barrage was exceedingly accurate, and the garrisons of two of our posts were buried; several men killed and wounded and out trench considerably damaged. Owing to these circumstances there were not sufficient men immediately available to follow the enemy as he withdrew.

Our men showed a fine spirit and thanks to their steadiness the enemy failed to enter our trenches or obtain identification.

Our Artillery barrage appeared to have the effect of breaking up the raiders, as the two parties which reached our wire appeared to be quite disorganised and were probably part of a large party.

This is the fourth time in 20 days that he has raided the same area, his lack of artillery was very noticeable and only two or three guns were firing during the whole raid.

At 11-49pm the Front Line Companies reported that the raid had been successfully repulsed and our barrage was stopped.

The raided area included NUN’S ALLEY and COMMOTION SAPS and the ground in between.

On 7th January 1918 – 2/Lt Edward Lake Flewitt was killed on patrol aged 19

rhr-copyflewittSon of Thomas and Gertrude Emily Flewitt of 77 Mustors Rd., West Bridgford in Nottingham

Patrol Report

A Party: 2/Lt EL Flewitt and 10 other ranks

B Party: Captain ALM Dickins, Lieut JN Wightman and 5 other ranks

C Party: Cpl Mycroft and 4 other rankshairpin-2

g11bA and C parties crossed the HAIRPIN CRATERS at G.11.b.80.50. C Party was posted at G.11.b.80.50 and A Party advanced along the parados of the enemy trench in single file towards enemy post at G.11.b.90.80.

On reaching point G. A Party was spotted and fired upon by the enemy post at G.11.b.90.80 who also threw a shower of bombs at them which chiefly passed over their heads although a few dropped short. At the same moment an enemy MG from G12.a.10.75 opened fired on A Party hitting 2/Lieut EL FLEWITT in the head and Pte Hall in the back of the knee.

When the enemy post at G.11.b.90.80 opened fire on A Party, B Party was approx at G.11.b.85.80. Lieut WIGHTMAN and myself at once crawled forward and threw bombs at the enemy post at G.11.b.90.80 hoping to distract the attention of the post from A Party. We managed to draw the fire of the post on to ourselves and judging by the rifle flashes the post could not have been manned by less that 10 men. But we were unable to entirely draw the fire of the MG from A Party as the gun simply traversed the ground between A Party and ourselves, firing very low and hitting the enemy wire.

We waited for 8 minutes and then crawled 10 yards to the left flank and threw more bombs still hoping to drive the enemy post towards A Party. The enemy post again opened rifle fire on us and there several bombs, putting up white lights in rapid succession.

It was obvious that the enemy was very much on the alert and that there was no chance of getting around the flank of the post, so at 3am B Party returned to our lines and discovered that A and C Parties were all in with the exception of 2/Lieut EL FLEWITT, Pte’s Bridgestock and Andrews who were reported missing.

[267117 Pte Tom Bridgestock]

As soon as possible a small party of volunteers was formed to go in search of the missing. Groans were heard coming from the HAIRPIN CRATERS and proceeding into the Craters we discovered 2/Lieut FLEWITT who had been badly hit in the head and in the stomach. Pte’s Bridgestock and Andrews had carried him under very heavy rifle and MG fire from within 20 yards of the enemy post back to the HAIRPIN CRATERS. Pte’s Bridgestock and Andrews showed utter contempt of danger and devotion to duty under the most trying circumstances.

2/Lieut FLEWITT died after being carried along our front line.dickins-wightman


Albert Light Moody Dickins

On night 2nd/3rd January 1918 – the enemy attempted a raid

Night 2/3 Jan 18 ST ELIE SECTOR: The enemy attempted to raid our trenches but was completely repulsed.

For good work on this occasion 2/Lt CF BARHAM was awarded the MC and 240244 L/Cpl EH WHITE, 240436 Pte A KNOWLES and 240205 W THOMSPON were awarded the Military Medal.


About Midday yesterday Battalion observers noticed that the enemy had removed his wire at G.12.c.45.95. Suspecting a hostile raid Officer Commanding 6th Sherwood Foresters took precautionary measures by strengthening Posts at  and LOOKOUT.Map Jan 1918

The 8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters on the left were also informed of this and they made special arrangements to co-operate by rearranging their Lewis Guns to cover No Mans Land in the threatened area.

At 5.45pm the 6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters sent out a Fighting Patrol of 2 Officers and 25 other ranks from LOOKOUT POST to investigate the enemy gap, enter the hostile trenches and obtain prisoners. Special arrangements were made with the artillery in connection with this.

Owing to watchfulness on the part of the enemy it took some time to reach the enemy wire. A party of the enemy was located in front of his wire opposite BRESLAU who fired and bombed our men before they had time to rush them. The enemy was driven off by Rifle & Lewis Gun fire.

A few of our men succeeded in entering the enemy trenches and engaged his posts with rifle fire and bombs but were unable to obtain a prisoner and withdrew. We had a few men wounded and all were back in our trenches by 8 pm.

At 9.20 pm. a very heavy bombardment was opened by the enemy from South of HULLUCH ROAD to North of HAIRPIN CRATERS, this extended later further North and eventually covered practically the whole of the Brigade Front.

Parties of the enemy were seen approaching LOOKOUT & BRESLAU Posts and “S.O.S. LANCER” was sent through. Our Machine guns and Artillery and Trench Mortars opened out rapidly and it is thought they must have inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy.

At the time all our Posts were standing to an opened heavy Lewis Gun and Rifle fire, particularly across the North side of LOOKOUT Post, where large numbers of the enemy were seen. The whole of No Mans Land between HAIRPIN CRATERS & LANCER was plastered with Lewis Gun and Rifle fire.

On the 6th Battalion S.F. front the enemy attempted in strength to approach our posts at LANCER via LANCER Craters, but were driven off with bombs and rifle fire; at the same time another party also in strength attempted to enter BRESLAU Post but were driven off by Lewis Gun and Rifle fire. None of our posts were at any time entered. It is thought that the enemy sustained heavy casualties in these attempts. Owing to the difficulty in communicating with the Company in HAIRPIN CRATERS and arranging for them to cease fire, some time elapsed before patrols could be sent out to search for enemy dead, this unfortunately gave the enemy time to remove his casualties. Our casualties in this Battalion were 2 killed, and 9 wounded all of which were the result of the enemy barrage.

On the 8th Battalion S.F. front owing to “SOS LANCER” practically covering HAIRPIN CRATERS the Company Commander did not consider it necessary to send “ATTACK QUARRIES”. Between 9.35 & 9.45 pm. various enemy groups approached the Post to the rear and left of HAIRPIN i.e. STUDIO II and RAT CREEK. The groups appeared to consist of 8-12 men. All groups seemed quite confused and our men had no difficulty in driving them off with Rifle and Lewis Gun fire. One of the enemy parties on being challenged replied “FREUND” and another “SECHSISCHE”.

Smoke bombs fell in HAIRPIN CRATERS which made some men think there was gas. Two of the enemy were seen approaching a Post South of HAIRPIN, our men rushed out and took them prisoners. When the barrage died down at about 10 pm. patrols were sent out and one German was found about 40 yards from STUDIO II Post. No further trace could be found of any of the enemy. The casualties in this Battalion were 1 Officer and 7 O. Ranks wounded (none serious).

In both battalions we were ready for the Raid and all ranks showed considerable coolness. The keenness and action of Lewis Gun teams was very marked. It is difficult to estimate the exact strength of the raiding party, but it is estimated at between 150 and 200 men.blackwall-signature

240244 White Jan 1918240436 Knowles Jan 19181/6th Battalion War Diary [WO/95/2694]

139 Infantry Brigade: Headquarters War Diary [WO95/2692]

On this day 22nd December 1917 – a raid by Lieutenants Lake and Barham

barham and lake

Cecil Fisher Barham and Thomas Ashton Lake


g12c-19172/Lt: LAKE and myself proceeded from No. 7 LOOKOUT round outer edge of LOOKOUT CRATER to point G.12.c.52.82 when we entered enemy’s trench. After examining the right sap we returned and crawled over block in enemy trench on the left of point of entry and crawled along the trench running in the direction of QUARRIES.

At a point about 15 yards along we found enemy trench was in good condition and good repair, also a latrine recently used. Following trench to the right we suddenly came on a German dugout, the entrance facing his own line, and a sentry emerging from dugout at the moment of our arrival.

He turned suddenly and saw us (we were then at a distance of 3 yards from him) and he put up his hands in token of surrender, but apparently altering his mind, he suddenly reached for his rifle, which had bayonet fixed, and attempted to turn on us.

We fired at very close range with our revolvers, the German being apparently hit low, twice in the stomach, and the second time we fired he fell with a hit in the left cheek and fell headlong down the dugout steps.

Immediately after our opening fire two shots were fired at us from the left by enemy behind barricade in trench with wire in front of it, followed by rapid rifle fire and we consequently were unable to follow up our advantage as the shots were very close, we were obliged to retreat hastily, being in a very exposed position and managed to jump into crater and return quickly to our own lines.

Immediately after shooting the German there were shouts on stairway of dugout which apparently contained a good number of the enemy.

We found that trench at point G.12.c.51.86 was completely blocked with barbed wire and handbags, the wire crossing the trench – this was the point the enemy opened fire on us and obliged us to return – his distance from us being 20 to 25 yards. The sap facing LANCER is apparently not used and is in bad condition. We were unable to obtain any information as to identify as we were already heavily fired at

The German was in full equipment as if moving, mess tin strapped to his back with other things.hordenLake Jan 1918Barham Dec 1917

On this day 22nd December 1917

22.12.1917 St Elie Right: Relieved by 5th Sherwood Foresters and moved to Brigade Support (2 Companies and HQ in PHILOSOPHE and 2 Companies in close support.

1/6th Battalion War Diary [WO/95/2694]

22/XII/1917: Normal artillery and TM activity. 2/Lts LAKE and BARHAM of 6th Sherwood Foresters entered the German front line in G12c during the morning. They found it occupied and shot a German with their revolver but were immediately subjected to heavy rifle fire from behind a block in trench and were forced to leave before obtaining identification.g12c-1917

Inter Battalion reliefs.

139 Infantry Brigade: Headquarters War Diary [WO95/2692]