No record in the War Diary [WO/95/2694]
21st: Operation carried out against the enemy trenches in X.3.b. by 8th Battalion
139 Infantry Brigade: Headquarters War Diary [WO95/2692]
Raid carried out by the 1/8th Battalion
Wire cutting was done by 2″ trench mortars from 2pm to 6.30 pm. It could be seen that a gap had been made at the Sap head and considerable damage had been done to wire at junction of Sap and front line.
At 8pm the wire patrol went out from CAVENDISH SAP to investigate gaps in enemy’s wire and at 10 pm reported that gaps were good and that ammonal tubes were not required. Machine gun fire was turned on to gaps.
At 11.15pm the wire patrol laid tapes from gaps back to CAVENDISH SAP.
At 11.20 pm the parties began to move forward through CAVENDISH SAP and by 12 midnight were in position in groups at distances varying from 70 to 125 yards from CAVENDISH SAP, on the tapes leading to their entrances. with two machine guns and their covering parties on the flanks
By 12.15 pm parties were up to the enemy’s wire and when bombardment started it was found that parties were too near and they withdrew about twenty yards. One dud trench mortar came within ten yards of “A” Party. We had one casualty – shell splinter in right arm, probably from our own shells.
At 12.25 am warning to get ready was passed down.
At 12.27 am orders were passed down to move forward. The last shells &c fell into trench and at 12.28 am the whole raiding party went through gaps and were in the enemy’s trench almost immediately. Sap Party were held up for about two minutes by iron knife rests having been blown back into their gap.
A German who was in the trench was at once bayoneted. “B” Party went to the left and “C” Party to the right. “A” and “C” parties met in the Sap and it was found that “B” and “C” instead of entering front line had entered the Sap nears its junction with the front line.
"A" Party comprised 2/Lieut H De C Martell and 21 other ranks to deal with ITALY SAP.
"B" Party comprised 2/Lieut WP Duff and 20 other ranks to work left along front line, block CTs, bomb dugouts and obtain identification.
"C" Party comprised CSM G POWELL and 23 other ranks to work to right along front line with same object as "B" Party.
“A” Party investigated a dead end on the southern side of the Sap and found nothing. Then went right up to the top of the Sap nearest to our lines and the trench very much damaged. Portions of a man were also discovered. There was only one dug-out which was bombed and entered. Nothing was found and it was left in flames.
“B” Party soon came to the front line and a blocking post was established on the right of the junctions and bombers and bayonet men pushed along the front line bombing doug-out entrances.
By this time “C” Party went to front line and bombed dugouts. One was set on fire by a “P” grenade and even the woodwork in the trench began to burn, but was extinguished.
"P" Grenade was also known as Cylindrical Type 'C' or Grenade, Spring Gun, No.26. A tinplate cylinder painted black with a red diamond on the lid. It had a copper cylinder soldered into the centre of the top plate which accepted a lighter set consisting of a a Brocks igniter, a 9 second fuze and a No 8 detonator. The filling was 1.046 lb, of red phosphorus. Courtesy of the GWF.
One dugout near near junction was blown up by the REs with an ammonal tube.
2 REs accompanied "C" Party with two short ammonal tubes fro blowing up dug-outs. 1 NCO and 4 men were held in readiness with two 24' ammonal tubes for completing gaps in wire if wire was not well out.
An enemy machine gun opened fire on us from Sap to right, but was at once engaged by the Lewis Gun on parapet and by the right flanking Brigade Machine Gun and silenced at once. It did not fire again.
I [Captain Bernard William Vann, MC] went along parapet with my runner and two buglers to help “B’ Party along their trench and a German bomb burst quite near, wounding my runner and a bugler. This appeared to come from CT about X.3.b.84.85 but the thrower was soon silenced. Bombing along parapet & trench we found another dug-out entrance and someone at once went down and called to the huns to come out. Two who came up with bayonets fixed were shot, one through the head and another through the thigh. This man was pulled out and four others, including a stretcher bearer came out with hands up. shouting ‘KAMERAD’, ‘KAMRAD’ and crying for mercy. They were very frightened. They were sent over the parapet under escort. Some showed fight in their own wire, but were speedily suppressed and brought across to our lines.
During the last ten minutes the Huns had surrounded the occupied portion of trench with red lights and their artillery had begun to shell both the front line and ITALY SAP, making it necessary to take all but 5 men out of ITALY SAP. One shell landed in their front line, beyond where we were. Two hit their parados, and two fell in the southern derelict arm of ITALY SAP.
At 12.49 am I ordered my bugler to sound recall. At this moment the rocket signals went up from Battalion Headquarters, and a bugle sounded the “Cook House Door” in our own trenches. The enemy had been firing from his support line and from the two saps near the BLAMONT-RANSART ROAD. Bullets also passed over very high from the N. side of the SUNKEN ROAD.
There was fairly strong rifle fire as we withdrew, and plenty of Very Lights. No one was hit. Tpaes were cut just outside enemy wire and were brought in. All men reported by 12.55 am. The enemy was shelling our front line, CTs and Supports fairly heavy, which gradually died down and ceased about 2.45 am.
Five Germans were killed by the raiding party apart from those in dug-outs which were bombed, and five prisoners taken (one wounded).
Our Casualties were very slight – eight men being wounded (only one seriously).
3513 Pte Arthur Stocks was killed later that morning. He was the son of james and Agnes Stocks, of Cinder Hill, Shireoaks, Worksop is buried in Bellacourt Military Cemetery.
“Dear Mr. and Mrs Stocks,-I very much regret having to write and give you bad news, but I feel sure you will be glad to have particulars from me. I am sorry to tell you that your son was killed by a machine gun bullet whilst “Standing to” this morning. He had just come off a patrol, and as it was just beginning to get light he had to “stand to” with the others of his team as usual. A machine gun, somewhere in the German lines, suddenly opened out, and a bullet hit your son in the forehead, killing him instantly. Your son was one of the best men on his team. I always found him a keen and reliable soldier. I just sent him on a Lewis Gun course, so that would be an additional help to me in the training of reserves, and he had already started this, with the results which were very pleasing to me. He will be very greatly missed by the others of his team, as he was always cheery and helped to tide them all over bad times. I went to his funeral this afternoon, and I understand the Wesleyan Chaplain who officiated is writing to you, giving all the particulars of where he is buried. Please accept my heart felt sorrow in your loss, and I shall miss him also, but I trust the blow will be softened by the knowledge that he did his duty,-Yours faithfully, C.G. Tomlinson, Sec.-Lieut”
4511 Pte Robert Spencer