Attack on Pontruet and Forcans Trench 24th September


The following account is taken from the 5th Leicester’s

At 4-0 p.m., as our position was materially unchanged, we received orders for a fresh advance, to be made in conjunction with one Company of the 6th Sherwood Foresters. Our objective was to be a line along the Southern edge of the village, to link up with “C” Company, or at least to extend to where we imagined “C” Company to be. Captain Pink, of the Sherwood Foresters, commanded the Company which was to help us, and no one could have worked harder than he did to make our advance a success, but the uncertainty of “C” Company’s exact position, and the impossibility of sending them any orders, made our task very difficult.

At 7-30 p.m., as it was getting dusk, the combined advance started without a barrage. It was a big frontage for so small a force and parties lost touch with each other amongst the ruins. “A” Company’s left kept close to the Sherwood Foresters, but the outer flanks of both were “in the air,” for “C” Company could not be found. It was dark when the South side of the village was reached, and it was found terribly difficult to keep direction amongst the ruins and trenches. A Lewis Gun Section, under C.S.M. Wardle, disposed of the only party of the enemy who were encountered, but the post near the Blockhouse could not be found. Finally at 9-0 p.m. the Sherwood Foresters fell back to Fourmi trench near the main road, and 2nd Lieut. Dennis, now commanding “A” Company, ordered his platoons to return to their former positions. We had accomplished nothing.

Eventually, at 2-0 a.m. on the 25th, we were ordered to withdraw all our Companies and evacuate the village. This we did by 4-0 a.m. What was left of the Battalion then marched back to where we had left our greatcoats, while the Sherwood Foresters took over the line north and west of Pontruet. The Adjutant saw the last parties out of the village, and the Colonel, though tired out, insisted on going round the lines and visiting each platoon as it came in.

[The Fifth Leicestershire: A Record Of The 1/5th Battalion The Leicestershire Regiment, T.F., During The War, 1914-1919]

Number 9 Platoon, “C” Company, 1/6th Sherwood Foresters

On the morning of Sept. 24th Lt. Jepson came to us lads and told us that we were to go over the top with the Leicesters, zero was at 5 o’clock, this was 2 o’clock and about 3 o’clock he brought us an issue of rum just to liven us up a bit. Half an hour after we had orders to toll up our great coats in bundles and dump them on the dump. About quarter past four Mr Jepson led the Platoon along the sunken road up to the ridge and lined us up in Artillery Formation.

We all got down in shell-holes and waited for zero. The zero came in and it was like hell let loose, the shriek of the shells was like a thousand locomotives welcoming in New Years Day – the flashing of our shells on his trenches, flare lights going up in all directions. It was just the sane as seeing Bosches fire work display. Up rose the gallant No. 9 Platoon who went forward like one man.

The spirit of the troops was absolutely marvellous. They stormed the trenches. Jerry went helter skelter and we lads after them. We reached our objective with only one casualty – Pte. Jones was shot in the forearm. By that time dawn was beginning to break, you could see the Leicesters on our left go forward and the wounded coming in. Shortly after some of the Leicesters came down our trench with about 100 prisoners. Our chaps were soon after souvenirs as they came along and about every man in the Platoon had a watch.

We held our objectives for 48 hours when ‘A’ Coy came to relieve us.

[202274 L/Sgt Frank Mayne of Letter “C” Company, 1/6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters]

Alfred Jepson was Commissioned into the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters and posted to “C” Company, 1/6th Battalion on the 5th September 1918 . Wounded in action on the 3rd October during the attack on Joncourt and returned to England on the 5th October.

202274 MayneMedal Roll for Frank Mayne showing his entitlement to the British War and Victory Medals. Recording of his 4-digit Regimental number confirms that he arrived in France in 1916 and served with the 1/5th Battalion.

 Wounded during the attack was 1588/240173 Pte William Wragg 1588 Wragg wounding