1st Battalion War Diary – September 1914
In August 1914 the 1st Battalion was in Londonderry, Ireland. At the outbreak of War it became part of 15th Brigade, 5th Division. The War Diary was begun on the day War was declared, 4th August 1914, and is transposed below as written at the time by the C.O.
Key: Bde. = Brigade; Bn. = Battalion; Coy. = Company
…. Casualties for that day
Details of Entry
CREPY – DUVY
6.0 a.m. Battalion moved off in support of the outposts of the Bedfordshire Regt in the direction of Duvy. Subsequently retired to Crépy at 7.30 a.m.
8.0 a.m. and then marched to Duvy as advanced to the Brigade which was left Flank Guard to the 5th Div. Battalion held Duvy and sent strong reconnoitring patrols to N.W. & S.
10.0 a.m. Battalion ordered to hold the ravine between Sery and Duvy to protect the left flank of the Division at Crépy whilst the rest of the Brigade attacked towards Sery to help the 6th Division. This movement was quickly countermanded as the Brigade about Crépy was reported hard pressed and a retirement ordered in the direction of Ormoy. The Battalion was ordered to retire as rear guard to the Brigade.
Battalion was much scattered and a mounted Officer had to gallop from Duvy to West side of ravine opposite Sery to bring in ‘D’ Coy – Two messengers and a mounted Officer failed to find ‘A’ Coy on the East side of the ravine at Sery, and as all troops were withdrawing from under shell fire ‘A’ Coy were supposed to be with them.
11.0 a.m. 15th Brigade retired to Ormoy and took up a position facing West along the railway as left flank guard to the Division.
8.0 p.m. Reached Nanteuil-le-Handoun at 8 p.m. and bivouacked. ‘A’ Coy arrived at 9 p.m. 2nd Lt Newson being slightly wounded. He had refused to retire without C.O.’s orders even when troops on his right and left had retired and when he found all had gone and in an unknown direction he went on a civilian cycle in search of information and was winged by the Ulhans – 2nd Lt Newson got his men away safely in spite of his wound. (12 miles)
NANTEUIL-LE-HANDOUN (“Haudouin” – Ed.)
3.45 a.m. Marched to Montge arriving there at 12 noon. 2nd Lt Newson transferred to 14th Field Ambulance (14 miles)
5.30 a.m. Marched to St Germain, arriving about 4 p.m. – Battalion was the left of the 2nd Army Outpost line and held the villages of St Germain, Couilly with a detached Post at the star roads at Dainville.
10.0 a.m. Divisional Conference 10 a.m. at Bouleurs. Orders to move reached Division at 10 a.m. Troops kept waiting to move at short notice till 10 p.m. as Rear Guard and reached Gagny at 9 a.m. Sept 5th.
4.0 p.m. Reinforced by Lt Hartford, 1 Ches Regt and 90 other ranks at 4 p.m.
7-5 p.m. Marched to Villeneuve arrived 9.15 a.m. bivouacked. Left at 1.15 p.m. arrived Mortcerf 5 p.m. left 7 p.m. arrived Montlevon 8.30 p.m.
Received news this day of the German General retirement in disorder.
12.15 p.m. Left Montlevon and marched to Trouchet. Here ‘C’ & ‘D’ Coys were detailed to drive a wood in an easterly direction to a point at Mouroux. Pte. Hall & Pte. Woods both wounded by shells fired by our own Artillery into the wood whilst the men were being lined up to drive it.
Reached Boisay-le-Chatel at 7.30 p.m. Ptes Hall & Woods transferred to Field Ambulance.
I was given orders direct from a Staff Officer of the 5th Div to execute this drive. The shells fired by our Artillery into this wood were fired by orders of Brig Gen Cuthbertson – They were fired directly against the line of advance of the 15th Infantry Brigade Group – This wood had been searched by the Lancs. that morning. On our searching it again 6 dead men of that Regt were found and their pay books taken by Capt Rich.
7.53 a.m. Arrived Charnesseuil at 7 p.m. – 15th Brigade in Reserve to 13th & 14th Brigade. 3rd Div on our right seemed to be having a good fight about 4 p.m. the Grenadier Company on outposts caught a German Guardsman – he could speak English. He said we only had one Guards Battalion against the Division today and they kept us back for the whole day.
8.0 a.m. Left at 8 a.m. and marched via Sancy to Bezu-le-Query – Battalion shelled near Bezu and lost 3 men, I killed and 2 seriously wounded. Brigade on outposts.
BEZU-LE-QUERY (“Guery” – Ed.)
3.45 a.m. Left via Montreuil – (Here the Battalion took some wounded prisoners) Dhuisy, Germigny & Gandelu. On the road 1 mile S.W. of Chezy we came to the debris of a German column that had been scuppered by ‘J’ Battery R.H.A. at Hautevesnes. Arrived in bivouac at Louvry near St Quentin at 7 p.m. and Officers bivouacked in the deserted and burnt out kennels.
The 2nd Army this day took 600 prisoners, 6 guns and several machine guns.
8.15 a.m. Left for St Reny arriving at 6 p.m. wet through. Took with a starving hound which had returned to the Kennels. Christened him Louvry.
5.53 a.m. Left for Fe de L’Epitaphe reaching there 1 p.m. bivouacked in the farm after dark. Very wet night. A very big battle was going on to the North West along the River Aisne this day.
FE DE L’EPITAPHE
4.0 a.m. To Mont de Soissons farm leaving there at 6.30 a.m… Reached Serches high ground at 8 a.m. Found a large cave capable of containing the Battalion and horses under cover from shell fire. Off at 8 p.m. to the River Aisne.
1:0 a.m. Crossed river in Pontoons at Min des Roche & bivouacked in a field immediately to the North of it till daylight. We then marched to Ste. Marguerite which was shelled. At about 12 noon e advanced to Missy reaching it at about 2 p.m.
At 4.0 p.m. about 6 Coys of Norfolks, Bedfords, East Surrey and D.C.L.(I.) were ordered to make an attack on Chivres Hill Pt. 132 to start at 4.30 p.m.
The Cheshires were in Reserve lining the Northern edge of Missy – This attack failed though Col Longley remained in a position on the hills till he was ordered to retire by G.O.C. 14th Brigade. The Battalion held the village of Missy that night with outposts thrown out in front. Supply wagons brought right up to Missy that night i.e. within 200 yards of the enemy’s position and got away safely.
6.0 a.m. Norfolks and Bedfords reinforced us in Missy and an attack was ordered on Chivres Hill after the guns had shelled the lower slopes. Before this could take place Missy was shelled by the very heavy artillery brought up for the siege of Paris.
The Battalion held on to all the defences of Missy till 6 p.m. when the Norfolks took over the Western half and there was a hot fire coming into the village from the woods on Chevres Hill all day. About 8.30 p.m. the East Surrey Regt arrived to take over the whole village. Whilst they were taking over one of their sentries gave the alarm which caused a good deal of confusion in the Village. A rapid fire was opened on the Wood at once and the enemy replied but from the shouts of the Germans and their throwing white lights it was clear they were expecting an attack and the shouting was to keep the men in the trenches.
4.0 a.m. Handed over the defences to The West Ridings and marched over the Pontoon bridge at Min des Roches to Le Mesnil Mill reaching there at 5 a.m. We were sorry to find that the hound Louvry had broken loose that morning during the shell fire. ½ Bn entrenched a position S. of River Aisne at night.
The following Officers arrived at 10.45 a.m. at the Mill:
LE MESNIL MILL
Remained at the Mill all day – The Bn finished entrenching the position S. of River Aisne.
Battalion moved up from the Mill to Billets in Mesnil
6.30 p.m. 3 Coys under Capt Young occupied the line of trenches S. of the River Aisne. ‘D’ Coy remained in Le Mesnil.
7.30 p.m. ‘A’, ‘B’ & ‘C’ Coys relieved from the trenches -‘D’ & ‘A’ Coys moved to Serches to entrench 8.30 p.m. to 1.30 a.m. 21st inst.
3.30 a.m. ‘B’ & ‘C’ Coys moved to Serches to entrench returning at 8 a.m. At 8.30 p.m. ‘A’, ‘B’ & ‘C’ Coys occupied the trenches at Sermoise
7.0 a.m. ½ of Coy continued entrenching at Serches. At 9.30 p.m. the Companies on outposts were relieved.
11.0 a.m. ‘A’, ‘B’ & ‘C’ Coys were entrenching astride the Mesnil Valley
2.0 p.m. ‘A’, ‘C’ & ‘D’ Coys occupied the trenches at Sermoise – ‘B’ Coy improved their defences astride the Mesnil Valley.
The following Officers arrived today:
Captain L A Forster, Res of Off.; Captain S Butterworth, 3rd Ches; 2 Lt H S Stalker, Res of Off.; 2 Lt L B J Pogson, 1/Ches Regt and 21 men
6.30 p.m. The Coys in the trenches were relieved by the Suffolk Regt & the Battalion marched out at 6.30 p.m. crossing the Aisne. Bivouacked on the North Bank as Battalion in reserve to 15th Inf. Brigade.
In accordance with Divisional Orders Capt J B Young was appointed Temporary Major & assumed command of the Battalion.
Improved shelter trenches and the Battalion proceeded at 8 p.m. to make entrenchments in vicinity of La Bizaie.
‘A’ & ‘D’ Coys proceeded to put 15th Brigade Headquarters in a state of defence at 7.30 a.m.
7.0 p.m. ‘B’ Coy digging trenches.
11.0 a.m. ‘B’ Coy preparing Bomb proofs at Brigade Headquarters.
7.0 p.m. ‘A’, ‘C’ & ‘D’ Coys digging trenches East of bivouac.
Parades under O.C. Coys.
F. B. YOUNG
Major Comdg. 1st Cheshire Regt.