1/9th Battalion War Diary - April to June, 1917

RAILWAY WOOD SECTOR - YPRES 1st Weather changeable.
During the afternoon orders were issued for a fighting patrol to go out and endeavour to (1) capture enemy post, (2) kill or capture its occupants, (3) to obtain identifications from Sap at I.11.b.68. 78 on S.W. edge of No.5 Crater. The patrol consisted of 1 officer (2/Lt A.M. ADAMS) and 7 other ranks. At 9.58 p.m. our barrage commenced. At 10 p.m. patrol left our trenches and moved across NO MANS LAND and entered enemy sap at South side about midway between head and enemy front line. About 10 yards up 2 sentries were encountered and taken prisoners. The patrol then returned to our lines having only been away 13 minutes. Our barrage was splendid throughout the operations. A number of red Very Lights, breaking into two stars were put up by the enemy at about 10.28 p.m. This was immediately followed by a heavy barrage of our front line and CAMBRIDGE trench which lasted until 10.55 p.m. The raid was very successfully carried out with only one man slightly wounded during the whole operations. A covering party was sent out just South of No.5 Crater consisting of 1 Officer (2/Lt R.C.H. ELLAM, M.C.) and 10 other ranks to cover the left flank of the Fighting patrol. None of the enemy were encountered by the covering party.
The Battalion was relieved in the Left Sub Sector at 2 a.m. on the night of the 1st/2nd. After relief it proceeded to billets at YPRES.
YPRES 1st to 6th Large working parties were supplied by us during our tour in YPRES. Work principally being improvement of trenches, wiring etc. A certain amount of training (arms drill, box respirator drill, musketry, etc.) was also carried out daily although this was impeded somewhat by having to train under cover of billets etc. The weather during this period was rather changeable with some snow. No casualties were sustained while the battalion was in YPRES.
6th During the night of 6th/7th the Battalion was relieved by the 1/10th Bn. Liverpool (Scottish). Two Companies "C" & "D" remained in YPRES and came under the command of Capt. E ASHTON. "B" Company entrained at YPRES at 9.30 p.m. and proceeded to PROVEN, arriving there at 12 midnight. "A" Company and Battalion Headquarters entrained at YPRES, detrained at BRANDHOEK and then marched to "C" Camp, arriving about midnight.
"C" CAMP 7th to 17th With the exception of an N.C.O.s class under the R.S.M. and Signalling class, no training could be carried out owing to large working parties having to be found by the Battalion, i.e. 230 other ranks work at YPRES, 100 other ranks working on new AERODROME at PROVEN and 160 other ranks working under R.E.s etc. on new Corps R.E. Park, Ammunition Dump, etc. Several lectures were attended by officers and N.C.O.s class on Mining, Bayonet Fighting etc.
The following officers arrived as reinforcements:-
8/4/17 - 2/Lt H. P. DALLOW
11/4/17 - 2/Lt G.A. HENRY
16/4/17 - 2/Lt A.G. WARDE
The following officer was admitted to hospital on 17/4/17 - Lt. S.S. Fausset.
On the 8th Brig-Gen F.J. DUNCAN, C.M.G., D.S.O. proceeded to England and Brig-Gen L. BOYD-MOSS assumed command of 165 Infantry Brigade. The weather during the above period was very changeable. "C" & "D" Companies at YPRES had no casualties although on several occasions they were heavily shelled and had to evacuate billets.
17th/18th During the night of 17/18 the Battalion moved up into Brigade Reserve at the ECOLE east of YPRES and took over billets from 1/5th KING'S. Dispositions of our companies being Battalion Headquarters, A, C & D companies in the ECOLE, 2 platoons "B" Company in MENIN ROAD dugouts and two platoons in HALF MOON trench.
18th to 23rd During the tour in the ECOLE large working parties were supplied for carrying, improvement of trenches, wiring etc. in Right Sub-Sector. A certain amount of training was carried out but owing to the area being under observation by the enemy the training had to be done under cover of billets etc. Church Parades, by Companies, were held in the ECOLE on the 22nd. The ECOLE was not shelled by the enemy during occupation although a large number of 'blind' anti-aircraft shells fell in and around the ECOLE on the 22nd. The weather was fairly fine during the above period. No casualties were sustained.
23rd During the night battalion moved out of the ECOLE, the 1/7th KING'S taking over from us. We moved up into the Right Sub-Sector and relieved the 1/5th KING'S at RAILWAY WOOD, the dispositions of our companies being "C" Company, Right Front Company; "D" Company, Left Front Company; "B" Company, Right Support Company; "A" Company, Left Support Company.
RAILWAY WOOD SECTOR 24th to 29th During the tour in RAILWAY WOOD numerous patrols were sent out, very good work being done. No enemy patrols were encountered. With the exception of two days, enemy's Light & Heavy Minenwerfers were extremely active although the shooting was not very accurate, therefore, considering the number of Minenwerfers fired very little damage was done to our trenches. The enemy fired a Camouflet about 3 p.m. 26th. This only made a depression on the surface about 4 feet deep. The weather during the tour was very fine. The Casualties were heavier than usual while in the line:-
24th, 2 O.R. killed & 1 O.R. wounded
25th, 2 O.R. wounded
26th, 1 O.R. killed & 7 O.R. wounded
29th, 1 O.R. killed.
29th During the night the Battalion was relieved by the 1/7th Bn THE KINGS L'Pool REGT. After relief the Battn proceeded to YPRES and entrained at ASYLUM. Headquarters & A, B & C Coys detrained at BRANDHOEK & proceeded to "C" Camp arriving there at 3.30 a.m. D Coy proceeded by train direct to PROVEN arriving there at 4.20 a.m. During the relief the enemy put over a few Minenwerfers and as the Coys were proceeding from the Trenches to the ASYLUM the enemy commenced shelling the MININ ROAD, ECOLE & YPRES, with 4.2s & 5.9s & heavy artillery, fortunately the Coys arrived at RAILWAY without having any casualties.
"C" CAMP 30th Although the Battalion only arrived in camp at 3.30 A.M., two working parties had to be supplied and it was necessary for one party to parade three hours afterwards to arrive at Rendezvous by time stated 9 a.m. - Remainder of Battalion was at disposal of Coy Cdrs for Indents etc. Weather fine.
(Intd.) W.R.
Lieut. Colonel
Cdg. 1/9th Kings L'pool Regt. T.F.
"C" CAMP 1st During the morning Headquarters & the three Companies in Camp proceeded to "B" Camp, and took over billets from the K.R.R. During the afternoon the three Companies were sent tot the Baths.
2nd 2nd Although the Battalion had to supply several working parties during the time it was in "B" Camp, excellent training was carried out in accordance with instructions laid down in Pamphlet "Training of Platoons in Offensive Action". Brig.Gen. BOYD-MOSS inspected "B" Company during the morning of the 3rd. The weather was very fine during the whole time & as this was the first rest the Battalion had had for some 42 days great benefit was derived from the training carried out in the few days at our disposal. T 9.40 p.m. on the night of the 5th the Battalion entrained at BRANDHOEK Station but owing to the enemy shelling the line at YPRES the train did not move off until 10.40 p.m. The Battalion detrained at ASYLUM, YPRES and proceeded to the trenches and billets at YPRES and relieved the 5th KING'S L'POOL REGT. Relief was complete by 2 a.m.
5th During the relief the enemy shelled the MENIN ROAD lightly i.e. 1 4.2 every five minutes, other wise everything was quiet. No casualties were sustained. ("D" Coy entrained at PROVEN at 8.40 p.m. and joined the remainder of the Battalion at BRANDHOEK). The dispositions of our Companies in the line being Battalion Headquarters, POTIJZE, "A" Coy in Front Line from I.5.D. 52. 38 to HAYMARKET inclusive, "B" Coy in Support, in ST. JAMES TRENCH, "C" & "D" Coys in billets in YPRES.
RAILWAY WOOD SECTOR 6th to 11th During this tour in the line the weather was excellent. The enemy artillery was not very active on our trenches but paid a great deal of attention to the town of YPRES, MENIN GATE and MENIN ROAD. At 11 a.m. on 7th a Practice Barrage was carried out on the enemy's trenches so as to enable the Officers, N.C.O.s and men of the Battalion to form an idea as to what a barrage was like. At 8.45 P.M. and 11 P.M. at night our Artillery bombarded enemy's back area such as dumps, approaches to trenches etc., with very good effect as the enemy ceased to shell the approaches to YPRES as he had done each night previously. Between 10.30 and 11.30 a.m. on the 8th enemy shelled Battalion Headquarters, 4.2, 5.9 and 8" principally being fired (only about 10 shells altogether). At 9.30 p.m. at night we blew a mine at RAILWAY WOOD but there was no artillery activity whatever. The following night a Camouflet was blown by us. The two Companies in YPRES were principally used for working parties and owing to the shelling very little training was carried out. A little training was carried out by the two Companies in the line such as Map Reading, Scouting, lectures on Bombs, and Lewis Guns.
Casualties during this period were very light.
7th May, 1 other rank died of wounds, one other rank wounded.
9th May, 1 officer, 2/Lt R.C. WHITE, wounded (at duty) four other ranks wounded.
11th May, 5 other ranks wounded.
12th inst., 1 O.R. killed
13th inst., 2 O.R. wounded.
During this tour orders were received to carry out a raid on enemy's trenches at OSKAR FARM. Practice trenches were dug in rear of Battalion Headquarters & practices were carried out on two occasions at night. NO MANS LAND was patrolled for three nights prior to the raid. During the afternoon of the 11th inst. Major GOSSAGE's battery of 18 pounders cut an excellent gap in enemy's wire. At Zero (11 p.m.) raiding party consisting of 2nd Lieuts. S.H. RANDALL, A.G. WARDE and 40 other ranks left our trenches and proceeded across NO MAN'S LAND. At the same time our artillery put an excellent barrage on the enemy trenches. The enemy obviously expected a raid as bombing blocks were placed in his front line - only three men were found in the front line, these were captured. The different parties proceeded along trenches as directed. 2nd Lieut. RANDALL's party succeeded in getting over one block, they then proceeded to the 2nd block and attacked same with bombs etc., considerable amount of groaning was heard from behind this block. All telephone wires along trench were cut. 2nd Lieut. WARDE's party proceeded south along front line from thence down Communication trench. They came across a shelter in the side of the trench where several Germans were sheltering. They called upon the enemy to surrender, this they refused to do, so they immediately bombed the enemy. The enemy then ran further down the C.T. followed closely by our party. Another small shelter was encountered with several of the enemy in who refused to surrender. A bomb was immediately thrown in. 6 Germans then came out and surrendered. A bombing party of ours under Sgt. McCARTHY were counter-attacked by 6 Germans. Sgt McCARTHY shot 3 of these men, bayoneted one, the other two got away.
At 11.15 p.m. the signal to withdraw was given. All our men arrived back to our trenches safe with the exception of two men slightly wounded. On the way back to our trenches several of the prisoners captured became unruly, these were effectively dealt with. The raid was a splendid success, everything working according to programme. 5 unwounded prisoners and one wounded were sent back to Brigade Headquarters. There were at least 10 Germans killed by the raiders in their trench by fair fight besides those who may have been killed at OSKAR FARM BLOCK & the DUG-OUT mentioned as being bombed by Lieut. WARDE. Some booty was also captured, such as Rifles, Equipment, Box Respirators, Steel Helmets, Caps etc. The men captured belonged to the 1st MARINE INFANTRY REGIMENT. Congratulatory messages were received from Army, Corps, Divisional & Brigade Commanders. Copy of messages attached.
ECOLE 12th to 16th During the night the Battn. was relieved by the 7th Battn. KING'S. After the relief the Battn proceeded to the ECOLE and took over billets, dugouts etc. "A" Coy were in dugouts on the MENIN ROAD and HEDGE and HALF MOON TRENCHES. During our stay in the ECOLE large working parties were supplied. A certain amount of training was also carried out. During the night 16/17th the Battn was relieved by the 5th Battn KING'S OWN & after relief Companies proceeded independently and entrained at the ASYLUM for BRANDHOEK arriving there at 2.30 a.m. The weather during the above period was very fine.
"B" CAMP 17th The Battn paraded at 9.15 a.m. and proceeded to POPERINGHE where they entrained for WATTEN, arriving there at 4.45 p.m. They then marched to Billets at BOLLEZEELE. The Transport proceeded by road on the 16th.
BOLLEZEELE 18th to 31st During our stay in BOLLEZEELE with the exception of one day the weather was excellent and we were therefore able to carry out quite a lot of training. The first four or five days being devoted to PLATOON training in the ATTACK, BAYONET FIGHTING, DUMMY BOMB & GRENADE THROWING & Specialist training. Several days were also devoted to COMPANY training, etc. A ten mile ROUTE MARCH was carried out on Saturday 26th inst., on the 27th the BATTALION SPORTS were held in BOLLEZEELE, and were a huge success.

On the 25th inst. One O.R. slightly wounded in RIGHT FOREARM by firing Rifle Grenade.
On the 28th inst. Night Operations were carried out by Brigade at MERCKEHGEM. On the 29th Brigade sports were held, this unit winning 3 out of 4 Military events, i.e. BEST PLATOON TURNOUT DRILL ETC., tie with 5th KING'S. 1st Prize in LEWIS GUN Competition in rapid unloading and getting into action, also 1st prize in Coy or Battn Runners in Relay Race. Battn was well represented in all the other events.
(Intd.) W.R.
(Sgd.) F.M. DREW
Lieut. Colonel Comdg.
1/9th The Kings.
BOLLEZEELE 1st to 11th Our stay in BOLLEZEELE was much longer than at first anticipated. A large amount of training was carried out during the whole period, and the battalion benefited greatly from these 25 days of rest from the line. Training. The second week "Company in the Attack", and the third week 'Platoon', 'Company' and 'Battalion' in the Attack", particular attention being paid to organising the Platoons as per instructions contained in pamphlet "Instructions for Platoons in the Offensive". The training of each Section in its own weapon, Bayonet Fighting, Revolver Shooting for numbers 1 and 2's of the Lewis Guns, close Order Drill, "Handling of Arms" and "extended Order Drill". During the afternoons each Section was allowed to carry out its own Programme of Training under a Specialist Officer; the Snipers, Scouts, Runners, carried out some very good training under Major Hoare in Map Reading, Scouting etc. On Saturday, June 9th, 3 Companies went for a 10 mile Route March. The following reinforcements arrived as the Div. Reinforcement Camp for this unit:-
1st - 2 O.R.
8th - 6 O.R.
11th - 100 O.R.
12th - 1 O.R.
15th - 4 O.R.
17th - 19 O.R.
11th During the morning orders were received from Brigade that the transport would move independently to HERZEELE in the afternoon. The following day they would proceed from HERZEELE to Transport Lines at G.b.C east of POPERINGHE.
11th The Battn paraded at 8 a.m. and marched to ESQUELBECQ & entrained at 10 a.m. for POPERINGHE, arriving there at 1.30 p.m. They then marched to B. Camp where hot dinners were served. They remained at B Camp until 11.30 p.m. They proceeded to BRANDHOEK STATION to entrain for YPRES, but owing to a break-down on the Line at POPERINGHE, they were unable to entrain until 1.5 a.m. Owing to the Enemy Shelling the Railway Crossing between VLAMERTINGHE and YPRES, the Battn was detrained just East of VLAMERTINGHE & were marched to the trenches, relieving the 1/4th L.N. LANCS in the POTIJZE Sector. Owing to these mishaps etc. the relief was not complete until 6 a.m. 1/4th L.N. LANCS were obliged to leave the trenches in parties of 4 owing to it being daylight. During the relief there was a fair amount of Shelling of Back Areas going on, but the Battn was very fortunate throughout and sustained no casualties.
11th to 12th The dispositions of our Companies being; "D" Coy on the right from PICCADILLY TRENCH to HAYMARKET TRENCH, "C" Coy Left Front from HAYMARKET to WARWICK FARM, "B" Coy in Support in ST. JAMES TRENCH, and "A" Coy in Dugouts on the POTIJZE ROAD. Battn Headquarters at POTIJZE (I. 5a. 5.4).
Lieut. Col. DREW proceeded on Short leave to England today and Major HOARE assumed command of the Battn.
77 O.R. were sent to be attached to the 177 TUNNELLING COY.
POTIJZE SECTOR 12th to 15th During the tour in this Sector, enemy artillery has been very active indeed on Back Areas, Ypres, Battn Headquarters, Approaches to Trenches, Roads, etc. A certain amount of attention being paid to the trenches, Front Line & Supports. Enemy Aircraft has also been very active.
On the 13th at 3 a.m. and 3.10 a.m. respectively, several MINES were blown by the Bosche, opposite the RAILWAY WOOD SECTOR; early in the morning of the 14th, between 2 and 3 a.m. the Bosche blew 5 MINES which appeared to be between his Front Line and Support Line, opposite this sector, although reports as to exact locality vary.
Although enemy Artillery has been so active, practically no Casualties have been sustained by this unit, i.e.- 1 O.R. wounded 14/6/17 (Died of wounds 15/6/17).
WIELTJE SECTOR 15th/16th During the night the Battn was relieved in the POTIJZE Sector by the 1/5th KING'S OWN. After relief we proceeded to the WIELTJE Sector and relieved the 16th Battn SHERWOOD FORESTERS in the Front Line. The relief by the 5th KING'S OWN was complete by 2 a.m. & our relief of the 16th SHERWOOD FORESTERS by 3.10 a.m. The dispositions of our Companies being:- "A" Coy on the Left Front, from the ST. JULIEN ROAD to C.22.D.O.5.27: "C" Coy in support in LIVERPOOL TRENCH, with one Platoon & one Lewis Gun in the ST. JEAN Defences: "D" Coy in reserve in Dugouts on the POTIJZE ROAD at I.3.D.30.30. Regt A.P. at ST. JEAN opposite HASLER HOUSE. Battn Headquarters remained at POTIJZE (16th to in this sector there are 7 posts out in front of the Front Line, and while officers of B Coy were being shown the different positions of the various posts, RIFLE GRENADES were fired by the enemy at one of these posts, several casualties were sustained. During the tour of duty in this Sector the activity of the enemy's artillery has been increased somewhat, particularly around Battn H.Qs.
On the night of the 17th large numbers of GAS and LACHRAMATORY Shells fell all round POTIJZE H.Qs. and it was therefore necessary for Box Respirators to be worn. In this Sector approximately 150 men are supplied daily for work with the Tunnellers in the WIELTJE Dugout, and as GARRISON for Dugout, therefore very few men were available for work on the trenches.
Orders were received from Brigade that HOPKINS TRENCH (an advanced trench only about 1 foot deep) in front of the Left Front Coy.) had to be re-opened. All available men (about 25) were detailed for this work, and an average of about 50 yards x 3ft x 2 ft was dug each night.
Patrols were sent out nightly during the time the Battn was in this Sector.
The following casualties were sustained:-
16th 2nd Lieut A.F. MORTON, 2nd Lieut H.P. DALLOW, 2nd Lieut R.C.H. ELLAM, and 5 O.R. including 1 C.S.M. and 1 Sergeant.
17th 1 O.R. at duty
18th 1 O.R. Died of Wounds, 3 O.R. wounded.
The Battn remained in the line rather longer than was at first anticipated. We could have been relieved about the 20th but the general feeling in the Battn was that so long as the Battn was in the line, & there was no opportunity of baths while in support they preferred to hold the line.
15th to 30th During this period the whole of this Sector was subjected to fairly heavy artillery fire & a considerable amount of damage was done to our trenches. On the 25th no less than 1,200 shells including 60 8inch and several hundred 5.9s fell on the trench system. Battn H.Qs at POTIJZE was also very heavily shelled almost every night, and also during the day. A number of GRANATENWERFERS were fired almost every night on working party out in front of our front line.
On the night of 24/25th Fighting Patrol consisting of :- 2nd Lieuts DEY and HICKSON and 20 Other Ranks proceeded to Old Disused Trench at C.29 a. 05.96 to C.29 a.10.90 with the intention of rushing enemy working party reported to be working on this trench. Working party were evidently not out this night as no trace could be found of them. The work that they had been doing was evidently filling shell holes with loose barbed wire. Our patrol returned complete.
A large amount of work was carried out by the Battn during the tour despite the fact that 78 men were attached to the 177 Tunnelling Coy., 34 men to the 165 M.G.C. and that we were supplying 153 men for work for the WIELTJE ESTAMINET.
The existing trenches were kept in good repair and New Trench was dug in the front of the front line running from C.28.b.80.40 via ARGYLE FARM west of LYTHAM COT thence to C.22.d.30.30. This trench was dug to give 6 feet of cover. With the exception of a stretch of about 200 yards the trench was completed by the end of the month.
The WIELTJE Dugout was made Gas Proof. All the existing Gas Proof arrangements were taken down and re-fitted.
The weather during this period was very changeable.
The following Casualties were sustained:-
19th 2 O.R. killed and 2 O.R. wounded (1 S.I.W.)
20th 1 O.R. killed and 4 O.R. wounded (1 at duty)
21st 2 O.R. wounded (1 at duty)
23rd 2nd Lieut N.M. GREEVES wounded, 1 O.R. killed and 3 O.R. wounded
24th 2 O.R. wounded (1 at duty)
25th 4 O.R. wounded (2 at duty)
26th 6 O.R. wounded (1 at duty)
27th 3 O.R. wounded (1 at duty)
28th 2 O.R. wounded
29th 5 O.R. wounded
30th Capt. E. ASHTON wounded
18th to 30th - Casualties of the Transport Section during this month have been fairly light considering the amount of shelling that has been directed at back areas. This unit lost 1 Rider, 1 H.D. 1 H.D. (wounded) and 1 mule (killed) & Half a Limber. On the night of 29/30 enemy shelled Brigade Transport Line - fortunately this unit did not loose any horses.
During this period 18th to 30th Patrols were sent out nightly - On the night 29/30th an enemy Patrol advanced close to our listening Post at LYTHAM COT. Patrol was fired at, and dispersed by one of our Lewis Guns. The Patrol of ours immediately went out to find out if any of the enemy had been wounded; with the exception of a soft cap & a German Rifle (quiet clean and in good condition) no trace could be found.
The following Reinforcements arrived at Div. Ref. Camp for this unit:-
21st 4 O.R.
25th 1 O.R.
28th 8 O.R. (These men reported to Transport Section)
30th 20 O.R.
26th Lt. Col DREW returned from leave and resumed command of the Battn.
15/30th Inter-Company reliefs were carried out every five days.
25th 2/Lts C.B. JOHNSON & J. EBBELS were transferred from the BORDER REGT to this unit. Capt E.G. HOARE was appointed Acting Major and second in Command from 15.4.17.
(Intd.) W.R.
Lieut. Colonel
Commanding 1/9 Bn. The Kings
L'pool Regt. T.F.
In the Field