1/9th Battalion War Diary - October to December, 1917

AIZECOURT-LE-BAS 1st The Battalion paraded at 9.30 a.m. & proceeded by route march to AIZECOURT-LE-BAS, arriving at about 4.30 p.m., dinner being served to the troops en route.
2nd to 6th On the 2nd inst the Battalion paraded at 2.30 p.m. & proceeded by route march to ST. EMILIE arriving there about 4.30 p.m. relieving 17th Bn ROYAL SCOTS in reserve. The billets in this area were in sore need of repair and the vicinity of the camp was in a dilapidated condition necessitating a great amount of labour being spent on removing debris & quantities of machinery. The usual working parties were found for Sanitary and R.E. employ during our stay in this Camp. Ample bathing facilities were provided for the men.
LEMPIRE 7th The Battalion left ST. EMILIE on the 7th inst, Companies marching independently, starting about 6 p.m. and proceeded to LEMPIRE SECTOR (Left Battn of Right Brigade) front line, relieving 1/6th KING'S. The enemy artillery during our stay in this Sector was very inactive, except on one occasion when he shelled Battn Headquarters with 77 mms
7th to 12th A great amount of work was performed in the trenches and at Battn H.Q.s, Elephant Dugouts being erected, trenches duckboarded, & revetting of Fire Bays. On the 10th inst. Lieut Colonel F.W.M. DREW assumed command of 165 Infantry Brigade vice Brig Gen L. BOYD-MOSS C.M.G. on leave.
The usual patrols were sent out nightly, but on no occasion were the enemy encountered. The weather during this period was rather dull and misty, with occasional showers of rain.
ADELPHI 12th to 17th On the night of 12/13th the Battalion was relieved in this Sector by the 1/8th (Irish) Bn KING'S L'POOL REGT & proceeded to centre Sector of the LEFT BRIGADE, relieving 1/10th (Scottish) Bn KING'S L'POOL REGT, relief being complete about 2 a.m. 13th inst. As in previous Sector, a deal of work was performed daily under R.E. Supervision, in Duck Boarding, revetting & the erecting of Dugouts.
On the 16th inst the Army Commander visited the Companies in the line. The usual Patrols were sent out nightly & on two or three occasions the enemy were observed, patrolling in large numbers.
Lieut. Colonel F.W.M. DREW rejoined the Battalion on 13th inst and assumed Command.
VAUGHAN'S BANK 18th to 22nd The Battalion was relieved in this Sector on night of 17/18th by 1/7th bn THE KING'S L'POOL REGT and proceeded to Support Line, with Headquarters at VAUGHAN'S BANK; 3 Companies in the line, & 1 with Headquarters. Practically the whole Battn were engaged on various working parties. At Bn Headquarters the work consisted chiefly in demolishing obselete dugouts & erecting strong & spacious ones in their place. This formed the majority of work in this Sector.
HAMEL 22nd to 31st On the 22nd inst the Battn was relieved by 1/5 KING'S OWN & proceeded to HAMEL, in Divisional Reserve, the men being accommodated in billets. The first day was spent in cleaning up & taking of indents. The usual parades & programme of training were carried out consisting of Handling of Arms, Bayonet Fighting, Physical Training, Musketry, Firing on Ranges, Lewis Gun Instruction, Training of Snipers, Signalling, Classes in Map Reading for Junior Officers, Lectures & Demonstrations in Wiring, Bombing, Firing of Rifle Grenades & Revetting. A notable piece of work was performed by this unit, e.g. the erection of a miniature Rifle Range.
On 29th inst the Brig.Genl. Commanding inspected "A" Company of this unit in Platoon Drill, Map Reading etc, a small tactical scheme was carried out "Attacking a Strong Point". The Brigade Boxing Tournament was held on the 30th inst, several of our men being competitors. The leave during the preceding four weeks was fairly good and during the latter part of the month the allotment was appreciably increased.
The Battalion received the following Officer reinforcements during the present tour:-
Sept 30th - 2nd Lieut WHEELER, F. - 3rd KING'S
Oct 10th - 2nd Lieut ENGLAND, C.A. - 16th KING'S
Lieut RINGHAM, F.S. - 16th KING'S
Lieut PROVOST, D. - 16th KING'S
Oct 19th - 2nd Lieut EDWARDS, G.H. - 9th KING'S
2nd Lieut Nichols, H.G. - 9th KING'S
Oct 28th - 2nd Lieut YOUNG, F.W. - 9th KING'S
2nd Lieut CRUIKS, F.G. - 3rd KING'S
2nd Lieut WILLIAMS, G.P. - 3rd KING'S
2nd Lieut KENNEDY, J.O'N. - 3rd KING'S
2nd Lieut COLLINGS, L. - 3rd KING'S
2nd Lieut THORPE, H.G. - 3rd KING'S
2nd Lieut WHITLOCK, C.B. - 3rd KING'S
2nd Lieut BAKER, N. - 3rd KING'S
2nd Lieut MULLINER, W. - 3rd KING'S
2nd Lieut WILSON, W. - 9th KING'S
Oct 30th - 2nd Lieut RENDER, J.H. - 7th KING'S

The undermentioned Officers proceeded on leave during the month:-
Lieut. G.W. HARRISON (R.A.M.C.)
Lt. Col. F.W.M. DREW
Lieut. N. LEES

The following officers were struck off Strength of the Unit, having proceeded to England for 6 months tour of duty:-
Capt. & Adjt. W. RAINE, M.C.

2nd Lieut. C.B. JOHNSON, appointed A/Capt. & Adjt., vice Capt. W. RAINE, M.C. 10/10/17.

The Battalion sustained the following casualties during the month:-
14/10/17 3 O. Ranks wounded (1 at duty).

Capt. & Adjt.
(Sgd.) E.G. HOARE
Major, Commanding
1/9 The King's Liverpool Regt.
1st/2nd Night of 1/2nd, Battn moved up from TINCOURT by Light Railway & relieved the 1/4th Battn LOYAL NORTH LANCS in Left Battn (Right Brigade) Sector, i.e. THE BIRDCAGE.
2nd to 5th Usual Patrols. The Battn Pioneers erected a large Dugout on the LEMPIRE ROAD North of Bn H/q. with Bunk accommodation for 18 men. This eventually became an Emergency Aid Post.
During the 5th Enemy sent over large number of T.M.s of various sizes. 1 man killed. An enemy Raid being expected, H/Q Details & D Coy found lying-out parties to protect right of LARK POST & EAGLE QUARRY.
6th Usual T.M. activity. 2 Lewis Guns put out of action.
8th 1 Sergt. Killed by T.M.
800 Gas Projectors sent over from BIRDCAGE @ 7 p.m. Enemy retaliation NIL.
9th & 10th Time spent repairing Trenches & Wire where damaged by T.M.s
11th/12th Night of 11/12th - Proceeded to Brigade Reserve @ LEMPIRE. The whole of the Battalion's time from 12/11 to 17/11 was occupied in providing Working Parties.
17th/18th 17th to 18th - Battn relieved 1/6th KING'S LIVERPOOLS in THE BIRDCAGE, Left Sub-Sector, Right Brigade.
19th 10 p.m. - 1 Killed & 3 wounded whilst our party was placing Dummy Tank and Figures in position for forthcoming operations. These were eventually placed in correct position.
20th 6.20 a.m. - 164 Brigade attacked GILLEMONT FARM & THE KNOLL. In conjunction with this operation the 1/9th KING'S LIVERPOOLS worked Dummy Figures as per programme and drew much fire. No casualties to this Battalion. Normal dispositions resumed at 9.30 a.m. Enemy retaliation on THE BIRDCAGE throughout the day practically NIL. Party of this Battn wired from FLEECALL to EGO.
21st Dummy figures again worked at Dawn with good results. Day passed quietly. Dummy Tank & Figures brought in at night.
22nd Daylight Patrol proceeded to OSSUS WOOD to ascertain if enemy showed any signs of retirement from this front. Party returned safely but Enemy still in occupation of his front line.
Night of 22nd/23rd Battn relieved by 1/6th K.L.R. & proceeded into reserve billets at LEMPIRE.
23rd Battn bathed at LEMPIRE.
24th Usual Brigade Working Parties found.
25th to 29th Usual Brigade Working Parties found.
Night of 29th Battn warned to stand to arms next morning @ 5 a.m. as enemy were expected to attack.
GUILLEMONT FARM 30th Enemy attack took place as per details attached hereto.

On this day the 165th Infantry Brigade was holding from GUILLEMONT FARM to CATELET ROAD in the LEMPIRE Sector. The 7th K.L.R.s were on the right, holding the GUILLEMONT FARM Subsector, the 5th K.L.R.s the centre SubSector comprising the BIRDCAGE. The 9th K.L.R were in support to the whole Brigade. On the left flank of the Brigade was the 166th Infy. Brigade and it had been reported that the 183 Infy. Division was holding the enemy line. The dispositions of the Battn were:- "A" & "D" Coys were in SANDBAG ALLEY, "C" Coy in dugout on the LEMPIRE ROAD & "B" Coy distributed over the three Strong Points:- ZEBRA YAK & LEMPIRE EAST & CENTRAL. Battn H.Q. were in LEMPIRE. Information had been received the day before that an enemy attack was imminent and the Battn stood to arms at 5 a.m. At this time every was usual.
About 7.15 a.m. commenced a heavy bombardment of the Brigade Sector using Minenwerfers Bombs against the BIRDCAGE, Heavy Howitzer shells against the supporting Points in rear including Battn H.Q. & also Gas Shells both Phosphorous & Lacrymatory & Mustard Oil which were fired at all targets. After a bombardment of about 20 minutes the enemy attacked & captured the BIRDCAGE and HOLTS BANK. His further advance in the Brigade Sector was arrested by the 6th K.L.R. who held out in HEYTHROP & CRUCIFORM POSTS & the 5th K.L.R. who in GRAFTON & FLEECEHALL POSTS inflicted sanguinary losses on the enemy. The 166th Inf Brigade was unfortunately overcome & the enemy occupied KILDARE, LIMERICK & MEATH POSTS. He was able to continue his advance almost to the village of EPEHY.
It is supposed that after being held up at CRUCIFORM POST he formed a defensive flank along STONE LANE. The gravity of the situation was not apparent from the positions the Coys were occupying.. The gas alarm had been given & reassuring messages were sent to the Battn H.Q. & from one Coy to another. Various rumours began to come through & about 9.30 a.m. the G.S.O.2 of the Div. Staff arrived at Battn H.Q. & explained that the BIRDCAGE had been lost and that the enemy had broken through on the left. A message was sent to Coys that a dismounted Bde of Cavalry would take over the Battn Sector & that Coys were to hold themselves in readiness for counter-attack.
11 a.m About 11 a.m. the C.O. went forward and selected a line along which to dig a trench to protect the north side of LEMPIRE. He pointed this out to the Coy Commander and "A", "C" & "D" Coys immediately commenced to dig. In about two hours "A" & "D" Coys had got well down. Their work was somewhat impeded by a squadron of about a dozen low flying enemy planes which kept circling around and firing on the men as they were digging. The 2/5th LANCS FUSILIERS arrived at LEMPIRE and took up a position along the LEMPIRE - EPEHY ROAD flanking the 9th KING'S on the left. Officers of the 2nd LANCERS of a Dismounted Cavalry Brigade then arrived at H.Q. They were making arrangements to take over from the Battn when they were withdrawn & some officers of the 8th QUEEN'S reported that they had been sent up as supports for the LEMPIRE SECTOR.
1.30 p.m. "C" Coy was detailed to go and occupy PRIEL CUTTING. After sending out a patrol of 2/Lt WHEELER and 5 men to reconnoitre No.13 COPSE and PRIEL CUTTING, "C" Coy left for PRIEL CUTTING about 2.30 p.m. proceeding via MALASISSE CROSS ROADS & owing to enemy aerial activity the advance had to be in Artillery formation up to No.12 COPSE where they halted. They then received word by the enemy and the Coy then took up a position & dug in.
5.30 p.m. About 5.30 p.m. "B" Coy was ordered to reinforce 6 K.L.R. at the NEST. They proceeded there immediately, 2 platoons were sent forward to reinforce HEYTHROP POST and CRUCIFORM POST and the remaining 2 platoons were kept at Batt H.Q. They worked during the night connecting BIRD LANE & the NEST with a communication trench.
When first two platoons of the 8th QUEENS arrived they were first quartered in the farmyard opposite H.Q. from whence they proceeded to take over posts evacuated by "B" Coy.
When the remainder of the 8th QUEENS arrived they were sent to take up a position & dig in parallel to the LEMPIRE ROAD & in front of the village which they did, about 9.0 p.m. These dispositions were maintained until dawn. During the night the enemy shelled the transport routes & then his fire went quiet which enabled rations to be delivered to Coys. It is interesting to note that No. 330007 R.S.M. ROBERTS M.C. with a few of his ration party were able to visit CATELET COPSE & the lower portion of HOLTS BANK from which they salved 4 bicycles & this was done without interruption by the enemy.

(Signed) C.B. Johnson
F.M. Drew
Lieut. Col. Cmdg
1/9 The Kings (Lpool Rgt.)
In the Field
LEMPIRE 1st 5 a.m. - At morning "Stand to" today the position of affairs was as follows:- I was in command of the LEMPIRE Sector.
My H.Q. was approximately at F.15 Central. The village was defended on the north by approximately two Companies of my Battalion who were occupying the trenches they had dug on 30th Nov.17. On the north east it was defended by 2 Coys of the 8th QUEENS who had dug in on the approximate line from F 10 C. 95. 05 to F 10 C. 50. 70. BASSE BOULOGNE NORTH, BASSE BOULOGNE SOUTH, LEMPIRE WEST & ORCHARD POST were held by the 8th QUEENS who also garrisoned YAK, ZEBRA & LEMPIRE EAST Posts.
In the village itself were:- A Coy of the Pioneer Battalion (1/4th South Lancs Regt. T.F.), A Section of the R.E. Field Coy, A Party of 2 officers and about 100 Other Ranks infantry who had been attached to the Tunnelling Coy.
During the morning the situation in LEMPIRE was fairly quiet. Enemy aircraft displayed considerable activity in low flying over the Sector. The village was lightly shelled with Phosgene Gas shells, several of which fell near Battalion H.Q. which necessitated the wearing of respirators. From the vicinity of Battalion H.Q. it was possible to see the Counter attack which was launched by the BENGAL LANCERS against the enemy who was holding KILDARE POST and HOLT'S BANK. This counter attack seemed to be successful as the enemy were seen to depart expeditiously from their positions and Battalion observers reported that the cavalry were digging in somewhere near OSSUS I. From later accounts it appears that the cavalry had to withdraw at night from the positions they had acquired.
9.30 p.m. About 9.30 p.m. orders were received that the 9th KING'S (LIVERPOOL REGT.) T.F. was to relieve the 6th Battalion of the same regiment before dawn on the 2nd. Steps were taken to ascertain what posts were held by that Battalion and in what strength. These were:-
BIRD LANE - 14 Other Ranks
HEYTHROP LANE - 20 Other Ranks
HEYTHROP POST - 45 Other Ranks
CRUCIFORM POST - 45 Other Ranks
CATELET COPSE - 11 Other Ranks
THE NEST (F.4 CENTRAL) - 1 Company
Machine Guns were at the east end of PRIEL CUTTING enfilading the CATELET VALLEY, at CRUCIFORM POST enfilading HOLT'S BANK. The defence scheme was that the posts were to hold out at all costs, and that if they were driven out the headquarter Company could man the bank at Battalion H.Q., and , if necessary, a left defensive flank could be formed along the new trench which had been dug extending BIRD LANE to F.4 CENTRAL.
2nd 6.10 a.m. - After resting as much as possible during the night the remaining 2 Companies of the 9th Battalion relieved the 6th Battalion and the relief was complete by 6.10 a.m.
6.45 a.m. - About 6.45 a.m. the enemy put down a heavy barrage covering HEYTHROP & CRUCIFORM POSTS and the vicinity of Battalion H.Q. which lasted for three quarters of an hour. No infantry attack followed. During the course of the morning the standing patrol at CATELET COPSE was driven back by a party of the enemy who were immediately evicted by a party of our bombers. It was reported that the enemy had placed a minenwerfer in position between KILDARE POST and DADOS LOOP, and he had a machine gun which enfiladed LEMPIRE ROAD in the neighbourhood of Battalion H.Q. from KILDARE POST. On the whole the day was fairly quiet. At evening "Stand to" the enemy again put down a barrage on the same places as in the morning. After nightfall the following tasks were proceeded with:-
1. Deepening extension of BIRD LANE to Battalion H.Q.
2. New trench from BIRD LANE to HEYTHROP POST
5. C.T. from Battalion H.Q. towards LEMPIRE.
2nd/3rd The night of 2/3rd was passed in tranquillity.
3rd It was noticed that at morning "stand to" the enemy's shell fire was considerably less. The enemy again bombed the standing patrol at CATELET COPSE but he was driven back and the post re-established itself there about 10.30 a.m. The enemy shelled the battalion Area at intervals and kept up his enfilading fire along the LEMPIRE ROAD. After nightfall he used Minenwerfers against the LEMPIRE ROAD and the vicinity of the posts. The work of the previous night was continued with the addition of the wiring of CATELET COPSE. The night was fairly quiet.
3rd/4th During the night of Dec ¾-17 the post at CATELET COPSE heard cries coming from NO MAN'S LAND and as soon as it became light a native was seen lying in NO MAN'S LAND about half way between our trench and the enemy. The officer in charge of the post at CATELET COPSE - 2/Lt A.O. WARDE M.C. - crawled out and, though fired on by enemy Machine Guns, succeeded in bringing the wounded man in. He was found to be a Sergeant Major in the BENGAL LANCERS.
4th During the day the enemy was very quiet, the vicinity of PRIEL BANK was lightly shelled. The Machine Gun, which on the previous day was very active from KILDARE POST, was very quiet. The work on the trench joining up CRUCIFORM. HEYTHROP and GRAFTON POSTS was continued, and the front wired, the work on the C.T. to LEMPIRE was also continued. Patrols were sent out from HEYTHROP POST and PRIEL BANK but no enemy activity was observed.
5th 7 a.m. - At 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. our artillery shelled the enemy trenches at KILDARE POST, HOLT'S BANK, and the BIRDCAGE, several direct hits were observed. The retaliation from the enemy was very little, the principla targets being PRIEL FARM, No.13 COPSE, HEYTHROP and CRUCIFORM POSTS. The remainder of the day was very quiet. At 12 noon the Commanding Officer of the DUBLIN FUSILIERS came to look over the Battalion area prior to taking over from me. At 12.30 p.m. I was informed that the Battalion would be relieved that night. The DUBLIN FUSILIERS began to arrive about 5 p.m. and relief was complete by 9.30 p.m. Patrols were sent out to cover the relief. On relief the Battalion proceeded to Billets at ST. EMELIE arriving there about 12.15 a.m. During this tour the casualties were 2 killed and 26 wounded.
ST. EMELIE - PERONNE - MOREUILLE - BAILLUIE 6th The Battalion moved from this area about midday and were conveyed by Motor lorries to billets in PERONNE. Here we stayed for 3 days, the battalion meanwhile spending most of the time in cleaning up etc. While the Battalion were here all Officers and men who were at the Reinforcement Depot returned to us, which numbered 2 Officers and 30 Other Ranks. 2/Lt ANDERSON, H.R. and 2/Lt LEATHERLAND P.J. being the Officers.
8th On the 8th inst the Battalion received orders for a further move.
10th The Battalion entrained at PERONNE STATION about midday.
8 p.m. - About 8 p.m. the Battalion detrained at MOREUILLE and marched to a camp just on the outskirts. The Transport arrived here on the 11th inst after having a rather unpleasant trek owing to the weather not being very good. While the Battalion remained here 1 Officer and 2 other ranks arrived from the base, the Officer being 2/Lt MANDERS, J.
12th 9 a.m. - On the morning of the 12th about 9 a.m. the battalion moved by route march to BAILLUIE. On this move the transport followed in rear of the Battalion.
E.P.S. 13th On the 13th inst the Battalion again moved by route march to EPS arriving there about 4.30 p.m. The transport again following in rear of the Battalion. When we arrived here Major HOARE and Captain JOHNSON rejoined from leave.
LISBOURG 15th On the 15th inst the Battalion moved by route march to its training area and occupied billets in LISBOURG.
16th The 16th was spent by the Battalion in cleaning themselves up thoroughly. Also on this date 2 Officers reported for duty they being 2/Lt ABRAHAMS C.A. and 2/Lt DIXON E.T.
17th On the 17th the Battalion had the Fumigator and Baths allotted to them.
The following improvements were carried out by the Battalion on the training area.
(1) A Miniature range was constructed to accommodate 30 men firing at once.
(2) A Lewis Gun range was constructed to accommodate 4 Lewis Guns firing at once. This range contains 12 targets, length of range 100 and 200 yards.
(3) Bayonet Fighting course was constructed, which includes 3 trenches and 3 sets of gallows.
(4) Set of Bombing trenches were dug.
(5) A shed was erected on the training area by the Regimental Pioneers and in this shed targets of every description are made.
Training, which includes the following is carried out each day:- Close Order Drill; Handling of Arms; Bayonet Fighting; Rapid Wiring; Physical training; Musketry, which includes firing on the ranges, practice in rapid loading, Triangles of error; Trigger pressing etc.
Every day the young officers of the Battalion are receiving instruction in the Lewis Gun and in the evening they are also given lectures or demonstrations. Training of Signallers is also carried out.
23rd The Battalion had a route march today, the distance covered being 8½ miles. One Officer reported for duty with this Battalion today - 2/Lt HALEWOOD.
24th The Battalion Concert party gave an entertainment today which was very well appreciated.
25th This being Christmas Day the Battalion were excused all parades with the exception of Rifle inspections. At 2.0 p.m. Christmas Dinner was served to each Company which was greatly appreciated.
31st Capt BEATH R.N. (R.A.M.C.) reported to take over duties as M.O. from Capt HARRISON M.C. who unfortunately had to return to 1/3rd WEST LANCS Fd. Amb on account of ill health.
(Signed) C.B. Johnson
F.M. Drew
Lieut. Col. Cmdg
1/9th Bn. "THE KINGS"
Field 2/1/18