46th DIVISION attacked enemy trenches on a line from DUMP TRENCH to North of HOHENZOLLERN REDOUBT.
137th Brigade on Right, 138th Brigade on Left, 139th Bde in Reserve.
Attacking positions of the 138th Brigade (4th & 5th Lincolns; 4th & 5th Leicesters; 1st Monmouths)
Attacking positions of the 137th Brigade (4th & 5th North Staffs; 4th & 5th South Staffs)
6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (139th Brigade) in Reserve
At 12 noon Battalion came under orders of 137th Brigade to which it was in immediate support. Artillery opened at noon – gas attack at 1.0 pm. Infantry attacked at 2pm.
“A” Company (Capt VO Robinson) moved to front line trenches. “B” Company (Capt Dick) & “D” Company” (Capt CJ Wheatcroft) ordered to push on to DUMP supporting S. STAFFORDS but MAJOR BLACKWALL found attack unsuccessful & kept them in trenches. All Companies (less 3 platoons & M.G.) eventually in front line and immediate support trenches.
“Great congestion in trenches owing to evacuation of wounded & carriage of S.A.A & bombs. Battn Bombardiers under 2/Lt LYTLE twice attacked BIG WILLIE but attack unsuccessful.”
Oct 13th. Heavy bombardment of German trenches 12 till 2 p.m. Then Staffs, Lincs & Leicesters charged & took line. Gas many losses. About 4-30 p.m. we (Sherwoods) moved up into reserve trenches. Saw many wounded come down, some an awful mess. Nice day.
About four thirty on the morning of the thirteenth the artillery fire commenced, the whole area seemed to shake, of course the Germans joined in. This Redoubt to be attacked was about a hundred and fifty yards in front of our assembly trenches, and for about two hours was subjected to such a hail of shell fire that we were quite sure that no one could possibly remain alive to defend the position against our attack.
The first unit of our division at a prearranged time leapt from their trenches to the attack, and as soon as they left the protection of the deep front line all Hell broke loose. The enemy concentrated still further heavy artillery fire. This was to smash the next wave attempting to get out. In the awful stretch of ground the attacking first wave was met by such a withering scythe of machine gun fire that the Brigade lost fifty per cent of its strength in the first twenty five yards, the remainder somehow struggled on through that murderous hail, and only a very small part got a foot hold in the Redoubt.
It was now the turn of my Battalion to try and join them, but the fire was so great and effective that it was decided to wait a while to try as a sort of surprise. It will be appreciated that a frontal attack over the top was out of the question, as the artillery had not destroyed the German machine guns. In the meantime remnants of the attacking waves and some members of my Brigade had succeeded in worming their way along an old trench to join up with the lucky few in the Redoubt, they were established and consolidating the position, they mounted their machine guns and the artillery was asked to concentrate their fire on the German front line, to stop them gathering for a counter attack to regain the lost position.
About two thirty in the afternoon a message was received from the captured position that they badly needed bombs to repel the counter attack which surely would come at night fall. I was detailed to take a party of twelve men to carry bombs across this dreadful stretch of ground, with instructions that if we reached the captured position which was very doubtful to remain there and help in the defence.
Never shall I forget that dreadful journey, we started up by the disused trench, but it was so packed with dead and dying men also debris, that it was impossible to proceed, I therefore gave instructions to scramble out into No Mans Land, this I knew was very dangerous but could not be helped. We scrambled across guns, bodies, arms, legs and heads, the carnage had been complete. The first attacking wave had been completely wiped out, and any moment I expected the German fire to wipe us out. I imagined that every moment the trigger minded Germans would spot us and that would be the end, but somehow our little party struggled on. We were lucky in the extreme, either the Germans were resting, or they did not contemplate any attempt to cross that miserable stretch of ground in daylight. We made it in one piece.
Our crossing had been observed by the men in the Redoubt, in fact when we arrived along side them they told us that with every step of our journey they expected us all to be blown to smithereens, I shall always remember the words of one of the Officers who had observed our progress – “good show – here take a pull of this”, as he handed me his brandy flask, and although I was not a habitual drinker that brandy was very refreshing.
[2305 Pte. Frank Longson]