The 1st East Yorkshire Regiment

This section of the Long, Long Trail will be helpful for anyone wishing to find out about the day to day activities of the army.

Coverage

This short extract covers the build up to the battalion's attack on the Somme on 1 July 1916.

Extract

Date and place Events
25 June 1916, Ville

Battalion paraded for C of E Church Parade at 11.30am, Non-Conformists at 9.00am and RCs at 10.00am. Casualties nil. Sick to Field Ambulance nil. Fine day – rather sultry.

 

26 June 1916, Buire

Battalion moved to camp at Buire where the 64th Infantry Brigade concentrated. All Companies were in camp by 12 noon. A gas and smoke attack was carried out on the 21st Division frontage about mid-day, which was successful. Heavy shelling of enemys positions all day. 2/Lts Dennis, Collen and Box joined for duty, and were posted to A, B and D Companies respectively. Wet. Battalion held a concert in camp at 9.00pm to which all the Brigade was invited.

 

27 June 1916, Buire

Still wet. Camp in a very waterlogged condition. Battalion inspected by GOC 64th Brigade in fighting order at 3.30pm. Casualties nil. Sick nil. Heavy shelling heard during day and night.

 

28 June 1916, Buire

Heavy rain, and conditions in camp bad. Battalion occupied in packing, storing kits, etc. Parade ordered for 8.15pm to march to assembly trenches preparatory to taking the offensive against the German line on morning of 29th. At 4pm however orders were received that the operations of the British Fourth Army were postponed for 48 hours. A new and drier site for the Battalion camp was chosen and men were occupied in moving camp. Casualties nil. Sick nil.

 

29 June 1916

No rain. Companies were at disposal of Company Commanders for physical training and lectures, inspections, etc. from 9.00am to 12 noon. German lines were subjected to a heavy bombardment between 4.30pm and 5.30pm. Gas and smoke were discharged at 5.00pm. Casualties nil. Sick 1.

 

30 June 1916
Much finer. Sunny in afternoon and ground drying up. Whilst bombs were being issued an accident occurred: one bomb bursting and wounding 9 men. Bomb appeared to be defective as pin was illegible piece of the bomb. Battalion paraded at 8.15pm to march to the assembly trenches as ordered for the 28th.
1 July 1916, Fricourt and vicinity

The Battalion moved up to the assembly trenches on the night of 30th/1st, the following officers moving up with the Battalion:

Headquarters: Col. M.B.Stow; Adjutant Capt G.Willis; Bombing Officer 2/Lt J.B.Bailey; Signalling Officer 2/Lt H.Rieder (?); Lewis Gun Officer Lt T.F.Smith; Medical Officer Capt Winfield RAMC.

A Company: Capt J.L.J. Hawkesworth, 2/Lt D.V.Black, 2/Lt Boncker.

B Company: Capt C.J.Huntriss, Lt F.S.Cracknell, Lt Moore, Lt Sawyer, Lt English.

C Company: Capt D.F.Anderson, 2/Lts F.S.Bultitiude, (J.P.P.) Peregrine, (P.C.J.) Smith and (R.J.H.) Gatrell.

D Company: Capt T.L.Bisant, 2/Lts Trounce, Cooper and Lanson.

The following were left behind as first reinforcements: Major H.C.R.Saunders, Lts Rhodes, Marshall, 2/Lts James, Dennis, Benson, Stockham, Collen, Williams, Sheffield and Box. Capt E.F.Pipe who had been appointed acting Brigade Transport Officer remained with the First Line Transport.

On the way up, 2/Lt Gatrell was killed and 3 other ranks wounded while in the communication trenches, the battalion getting into place at 3.30am in its position of assembly. A heavy and continuous shelling was maintained throughout the night, which at 6.30am became intense and continued until 7.30am when the artillery barrage lifted off the German front line and the infantry moved forward to the assault. The 64th Brigade attacked in the following order: 9th KOYLI on the right, 10th KOYLI on the left, supported by the 15th DLI right and the East Yorkshire on the left. 64th Brigade Machine Gun Company advanced as follows: half the Company behind the 9th and 10th KOYLI and half behind the supporting battalions.

The Battalion attacked in the following formation: B and D Companies in column of platoons at 100 yards distance from the Battalion HQ, then A and C Companies in a similar formation to the two leading Companies. Although our bombardment had been very severe and the German trenches badly damaged, there were still a few machine guns untouched and they took a heavy toll of the battalion.

In spite of heavy losses the Brigade pushed on and seized the first objective, i.e. the Crucifix Trench and the Sunken Road, though the Shelter Wood and Birch Tree Wood on the north flank still remained in German hands. The object line was reached at about 8.05am. All the units of the Brigade had become considerably intermingled, on our left the line was continued north by the 34th Division, the 15th and 16th Royal Scots and 27th Northumberland Fusiliers being the regiments in our immediate vicinity, while the 63rd Brigade was on our right.

At about 2.00pm the Germans counter attacked in a halfhearted manner from the direction of Shelter Wood, but were repulsed. It was impossible to advance further owing to the heavy casualties the Brigade had incurred and all efforts were directed towards consolidating the position and holding the ground already won.

Our artillery vigorously bombarded Shelter Wood and vicinity, to which the enemy replied on the Sunken Road, but his range was not good and although the fire was at times hot, few casualties resulted.

At almost 7.30pm Major Saunders together with Lt Marshall, 2/Lts James, Benson and Stockham arrived and took over command from Capt Willis, who had been in charge of operations since the early morning when Col. Stow had been wounded. Orders were now received that the 62nd Brigade would relieve the 64th and the 1st Lincolns and 10th Yorkshire Regiment arrived, owing however to delay on the part of 12th Northumberland Fusiliers the relief was not completed until about 6.38am.

2 July 1916

The 64th Brigade then took up a position in the rear, the 9th and 10th KOYLI in a portion of the German network known as the Sausage Support trench, the 15th DLI and the 1st East Yorkshire behind them in our original assembly trenches.

At about mid-day, information having been received by the Brigade that parties of Germans still remained in the trench network on our immediate left, which were ….. illegible … our communications, the East Yorkshire Regiment were detailed to despatch a bombing party to reconnoitre the ground and clear up the situation. This party was despatched under 2/Lt A.H.Eames. A superior number of Germans was encountered and it was while dealing with this situation that Lt Eames was killed. In consequence however of his resistance, a strong party of the East Lancashire were sent to clear out the enemy and fighting took place in the network which lasted throughout the day and resulted in the killing or capturing of all of the enemy who had occupied it.

3 July 1916

In order to clear up any doubts as to the state of things on our left, a further reconnoitring party under Lt Marshall was despatched. He executed a useful reconnaissance which attracted the … illegible … notice of the Brigadier and reported all clear.

On this, C and D Companies under Capt Hawkesworth were despatched to construct a defensive flank in the German network facing north east, A and B Companies remaining in the original positions.

At 4.30pm Lt Rhodes accompanied by 2/Lts Dennis, Collen, Williams, Sheffield and Box arrived and at 5.00pm A and B Companies under Lt Rhodes relieved C and D, the former returning to their original front positions.

At 8.00pm the Brigade received orders that they were to be withdrawn from the battle and proceeded to the railway siding near the village of Dernancourt where they bivouacked for the night.

4 July 1916

At 9.00am the Brigade entrained at Dernancourt and proceeded by rail to Ailly sur Somme where they detrained and proceeded by road to Yzeux, where they went into rest billets, arriving about 4.00pm.

The following is the list of casualties amongst the officers:

Killed: Capt C.J. Huntriss, Lts R.F.H.Gatrell, J.P. Peregrine, B.R. Boncker, A.C.J Smith, on 1 July and 2/Lt A.H.Eames on 2 July.

Died of wounds at Casualty Clearing Station at Heilly: Lt-Col. M.B. Stow.

Missing and believed killed: Lt C.S.E.English.

Total officers killed 8.

Officers wounded: Capt D.D.Anderson, Capt T.L.Bisant, 2/Lts E.P.Cooper, Bultitude, W.R.Moore, J.S.Cracknell, J.W.Sawyer, D.V.Black, R.Trounce, J.B.Bailey, and Lt T.F.Smith.

Total 11.

Slightly wounded and returned to duty: Captains G.Willis, F.L.I.Stockham, 2/Lt A.S.Stockham.

Other ranks Killed: 35 Wounded: 239 Wounded and missing: 9 Missing: 158

Totals: Officers killed and wounded 19; other ranks 441.

The following trophies were captured by the battalion: one light gun, one machine gun.

This is a transcribed extract from the original battalion war diary which is held at the National Archives in document WO95/2161. Crown Copyright.