6th Battalion, Royal Berks
1st July 1916
 
 


Draft copy of report to Brigade Major 54th Brigade
7th (S) Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment

N.B. The Beds. of 54th Brigade attacked to the left of and immediately adjacent to the 6th Berks of 53rd Brigade. This report is reproduced as written - the handwriting is not legible in places and this has been clearly indicated where appropriate.


Handwritten copy in 7th (S) Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment duplicate War Diary.
Bedford and Luton Archive & Record Office.
Ref X550/8/1.


Brigade Major.

54th Brigade.

Enclosed herewith report on operations 1/2 July for information of G.O.C. 54th Brigade.

Sir - I beg to forward herewith report on the operations carried out by the Battalion under my command on 1/2 July 1916.

In a report of this nature, in order to arrive at a clear understanding of the various incidents that took place, where the advance was held up and where it progressed - it appears advisable to divide the ----- ----- ----- ? Batt'n into right and left attack. The dividing line between the assaulting Coy's can roughly (be drawn) through the triangle and left of Pommiers Redoubt. The right started on Bay Point then swung half right on to Popoff Lane, keeping in touch with the 53rd Brigade. The left was directed on Austrian Junction to a point about 80 yds west of Pommiers Redoubt.

Assaulting Right attack - B Company - under Capt Bull.

Coy's Left attack - C Company - under Capt Clegg.

Supporting Company D Company - under Capt Floyd.

Reserve A Company - under Captain Percival was kept in Battalion Reserve.


Formations The Bat'n was formed up in four forming up trenches each Coy of the assaulting Coys on a two Platoon front of 175 ----? - with one Platoon in
support and one in Company Reserve. No 3 Company acted as support to the two leading Coy's - No 4 Coy in Bat'n Reserve.

The first phase waves of each Coy moved in extended order the first ----? in sections. No 3 Coy moved in sections- in Artillery Formation. No 4 Coy moved in Platoons in Artillery Formation.

I would (---?) call attention to the fact that although No's 3 & 4 Coy's moved in what would appear to be close formations, yet their losses while remaining in these formations was extremely small. Their losses really began when called into the final stages of the attack.

As this formation is more mobile and infinitely more under the control of their leaders, it is one that might be adhered to on future occasions and the fact that they are not so vulnerable as would appear at first light, might with advantage be made more widely known.

Touch was maintained from rear to front - The result was good especially as regards the 3rd & 4th Companies - and permitted the leaders of the assaulting Coy's to devote all their attention to the forcing of the enemies position, in addition to -------? the ------? number of rifles in the front waves.

The ---? no possibility of keeping touch with units on right and left -------? with the leaders of the assaulting Coy's.

Right

Attack At 7.28 the Right Attack started to move out. Zero being 7.30. I considered this most necessary - as it had some distance to traverse before reaching the first line German trenches- 2nd ly - in order to get straight on its first line of advance, it had to move half left before the right of the Company could rest on Bay Point- 3rd ly previous to the intense bombardment enemy machine guns had been particularly active and I wished to get the men through our wire whilst this bombardment continued. 4th ly it seemed of vital necessity not to run any risk of being late for the pre arranged barrage up to Pommiers Redoubt.

As the machine gun fire - even on cessation of intense bombardment, was still very galling- The waves hurried through the gaps in the wire and doubled down the slope - it was on the gaps and the top of the slope that the machine gun fire was principally directed - There was practically none at foot of slope.

Here the right attack formed up in deliberate fashion - making absolutely certain of its true line of advance. It then advanced as if on parade, the waves were perfectly dressed - intervals and distances as it seemed to me from our trenches - kept extraordinarily well.

The machine gun fire still continued - very active and casualties were sent to rear before Austrian Trench was reached, but the waves still continued on their way, seemingly without a check.

Between the Austrian Trench and Emden Trench the Company was practically leaderless as regards officers - all having been either killed or wounded - There was practically no opposition except from machine gun fire - This principally came well away from our right flank. Which from the early commencement of the fight, was most exposed owing to the Battalion of the 53rd Brigade on our right, being unable to advance at the same rapid rate as our right attack. Severe machine gun fire seemed to come from Popoff Lane which did considerable ----------? It was not until reaching the ground between Bund and Pommiers Trench that a real check occurred - here the wire in front of Pommiers was not cut and a mixed party of the right attack, with men of the Berkshire Rgt, proceeded to cut the wire in a most methodical way. In the words of Capt Bull, in a letter to me, " the 1/2 hour outside that trench will be a nightmare for years to come and this was our expensive time - there were about 20 Berkshire and about the same number of my lot - were splendid - the way they cut the wire just as if there was nothing doing"

The Comp Serg Major of the right attack states that the German front line where he crossed it was filled with barbed wire and spiked stakes - From previous reports it would appear as if the Germans hold only parts of the front line - and those parts are defended with machine guns only.
  
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