6th Battalion, Royal Berks
1st July 1916
 
 

 
Report from Capt. W. H. Bull regarding the participation of the 7th Beds. on 1st July, 1916. The Beds. attacked to the left of and immediately adjacent to the 6th Berks and as can be seen the two units worked closely together. This report gives an excellent insight into the events of the day on the front attacked where 53rd and 54th Brigades of 18th Div. met.



WO 95 2043

To: Officer Commanding
7th (S) Battalion Bedfordshire Regt
Sept 26 1916
 

Sir.

With reference to the operations carried out on July 1st, I beg to report on such part thereof as came to my notice.

At 7.28. am immediately after blowing of mine at Kasino Point, Mr Rawes left our trenches with the first wave. The Berkshires on our right left their trenches in advance of us & at time of the blowing of mine their men were lying down in the open & some men very close to Kasino Point - it must have caused them casualties - we back in our front line trenches were covered with falling debris. I mention this as I think it weakened the attack at the junction of the two Brigades.

On leaving our trenches all 4 waves came under heavy machine gun fire - casualties occurring immediately - reinforcements going up immediately - it was carried out like a parade movement. Austrian Fire Support trenches appeared to be occupied with little resistance. I entered trenches near Bay Point & saw the leading waves advancing on Emden - the right flank came under rifle fire from a party of Germans at the foot of Bay Lane - they caused considerable casualties - a lot of bombs were exchanged - eventually 3 or 4 surrendered - but the majority doubled off up Popoff Lane I fancy. The men advanced on Bund - I remember being stuck with the few men.

At this juncture I came across 3 or 4 small groups of Berkshires going in the direction of "C" Co. they said they were bombers - came over with their 3rd wave & I took them along with me & joined the leading waves in Bund trench. I do not know what opposition the men had encountered here - but think very little. A strong bombing party had gone up Popoff Lane & we started off near Pommier Trench.

We must have got within 70 yds of Pommier Trench without any opposition when we suddenly came under heavy rifle fire & machine gun fire from Popoff Lane - also from Pommier trench & I remember seeing a good stretch of uncut wire to my immediate front, so we went to earth - those who found shell holes got good cover, but those lying in the open & those crawling for shell holes were picked off.

For some time the ground was swept with a machine gun firing very slowly and very low from Popoff Lane - movement of any description was very difficult. The time was about 7.55 am - the barrage had just shifted to the redoubt - Popoff Lane was approx 100 yds to my right - evidently not cleared. Further along on my left I could see troops advancing apparently without opposition - but between myself and these troops there was an interval of some 200 yds or more where there were no troops - behind this gap well down the slope I could see a considerable number of troops lying down - some of whom I subsequently found out were "D" Co. This gap and formation is now explained to me by the fact that one or more of our big guns was pounding big stuff into this gap & dropped a few amongst us. In the noise it was difficult to locate where shells were coming from, but at the time, we were all convinced it was our own artillery, this further confirmed by the fact that when our barrage lifted off Pommier Redoubt - it ceased - and moreover before we left our own trenches - shells of same caliber were pitching into the parados where "C" Co. were. I saw it and Mr Sherwell has confirmed it & my view is it was the same gun or guns.

My orderly who I had sent to "D" Co. for reinforcements returned with "D" Co. S.M. & he arranged to get some men up behind me & also to send some up Popoff Lane. I had already sent an orderly over to the right to get in touch with the Berkshires & he had returned with a very unsatisfactory message to the effect he could see no troops on our right.

During this period small groups of men on my right, entirely on their own initiative were cutting at the wire - altho' under rifle fire, they were most persistent - it was very costly. Our casualties here were very heavy. Eventually a few groups succeeded in getting into Pommiers Trench thro' the gaps on my right, they were followed by few men who had come up - probably "D" Co. It must have been shortly before 8.30 that these men got thro' - I cannot say what became of them - no doubt some went straight on to the redoubt - but a small party must have gone along Pommiers to Popoff Lane, because I remember coming across 3 or 4 badly wounded somewhere about the junction of the two trenches.

On the left - it must have been after 8.30, a similar process took place - a few cut gaps and pushed thro' and they were shortly followed by a strong wave of reinforcements coming up from the rear - these pushed on to the outskirts of the redoubt & got a footing with little opposition, as the advance element had no doubt driven the Germans back into & around their dugouts - bombing was going on in all directions - a certain amount of re organization here took place - men being divided into small groups & given trenches to clear with an ultimate objective, Maple Trench. Eventually this trench was reached & I got into touch with Fusiliers - but could not find out whether Beetle Alley was captured by then - patrols were sent out - & men reorganized with a view to pushing on to Beetle Alley. I cannot speak too highly of the good work done by CSM Amos & Sgt Bagg "D" Co.

At this stage whilst this reorganization was going on I got in touch with the Berkshires who were coming up the right edge of the redoubt, via Pommiers Lane & I then sent a message to B. Hqs to the effect that the Redoubt was completely held by us. Shortly after this & having just given the order to Sgt Bagg for an advance on Beetle Alley, I became a casualty.

In conclusion there is no doubt that the extreme right of our attack from the time of leaving Austrian Support, suffered very heavy casualties and encountered much opposition from Popoff Lane and I attribute this to 2 causes.

The Germans who had been holding the front lines, retreated via Bay Lane & Popoff Lane & made 2 very definite stands, the first at foot of Bay Lane & the second somewhere near junction of Popoff Lane & Pommier Trench.
 
At this very point the attack was unfortunately weakest & my opinion is that the mine at Kasino Point was largely responsible, causing casualties to the Berkshires in the first place & secondly probably a tendency of their reinforcements to swing away 1/2 right from this point.

The behavior of the men under most trying circumstances was wonderful - it is entirely by their own initiative & total disregard of danger that Pommiers Trench was taken - every man went over perfectly clear in his mind of his objective, & full of determination to get there.

Yours obediently

W.H. Bull. Capt.
7th Beds.

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