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Posted 21 June 2012 - 09:31 PM
Posted 22 June 2012 - 05:46 AM
The month was one of almost continuous fighting for the 2nd KRRC.
Passed day in billets in Arras. Proceeded to the line in the evening, and moved into reserve for an attack carried out by the Canadian Division.
The Canadians moved at dawn; the Battalion followed up in artillery formation about 4 miles behind. Towards evening, we halted 1000 yards in front of VIS-en-ARTOIS. Harrassing fire fell on the Battalion area and one Lewis Gun team was knocked out completely.
Orders received to stand-to at 1am. The CO and Company commanders reconnoitred areas north of the Cambrai road, occupied by a Battalion of the Essex Regiment. We are holding the Sensee River, on the left flank of the attack. Meanwhile, the Battalion began to advance with the intention of wheeling left into the valley in front of DURY. But orders came to return to original positions. Very heavy enemy shelling. Marched through ETERPIGNY, where we picked up our guides. From this point, the Companies moved to relieve the Essex in an area south east of ETAING.
At 3am we began to advance again. There was a heavy HE barrage but very few casualties and by dawn we were in position of the DURY-? Road, throwing out sentry groups on the forward slopes of the Sensee valley. B and half of D Company moved to the village of L’ECLUSE. The rest were distributed in depth, and settled down by dawn.
Fairly quiet, sunny and delightful. In the evening, a patrol reached the first houses in TORQUENILLES, with no opposition.
Relieved by the 13th Londons at 9pm. Moved in column down the main road to Dury and then along a track to the Cambrai road. Picked up the battalion cookers at Picharts Factory. Shelled at 4am. Hot tea, then moved by bus to HERMAVILLE, arriving at 6am on 8th.
Moved off at 9am and marched a few miles to ACQU. Entrained at noon, moved off eventually at 2.15pm, arrived at GUILLANCOURT and then marched to PROYART.
Rained all day. Too wet for parades.
Moved by bus to ATHIES, and billeted in cellars and nissen huts.
Moved by road to Fox Copse. Spent rest of the day making shelters.
Sunday Church parades, and inspection of fighting order in the morning. The CO, Adjutant and Company commanders went to VERMAND to reconnoitre. A very fine day. At 8.30pm we moved out across country through TERTRY to a wood east of COURLANCOURT, where the Battalion spent the night in dugouts. Slight shelling.
The morning was spent in preparations. Orders for the attack were read out. The Battalion moved up at 8pm. Storm during the night.
2/Lt Drapkin joined the Battalion. 2 OR wounded. Bn occupied in making final arrangements for tomorrows attack. Bn HQ moved up soon after dusk to MAISSEMY.
BY 4.30am the Battalion was formed up ready for the attack. The Bn was attacking on a front of about 800 yards, which gradually narrowed down to about 500 yards at the final objective – area intended from the impassible marsh ground of the River Omignon on the left, to the road running north east from Maissemy to BERTHACOURT. The 2/Sussex wereon our left and the 1/Cameron Highlanders on our right. Our first objective was an enemy trench system along the high ground in M13a (Half way between Maissemy and Berthacourt). The second and final objective was Berthacourt. There was a further objective for the exploiting of success but this was not attempted on account of the Bns on our right being held up. Zero was at 5.20am and the Battalion moved forward. A Company under Capt.Barnes MC in front, with B Company under 2/Lt Cunningham MM supporting the right half of A. C Company under Capt.Cook MC supported the laft half of A. D Company under 2/Lt Cotton was in Battalion reserve. The morning was very wet and unpleasant but the weather changed up towards noon. Prisoners soon began to come in but news was difficult to get on account of the heavy Scotch mist which hung thickly in the valleys and thus prevented any visual signalling or direct observation of the attack. The Colonel went forward and got in touch with the Company commanders of C and B Coys, and learned that the Bn was held up by MGs on the left and right flanks. C Company was ordered to work around the left flank, and B Company, together with a portion of the left Company of the Camerons were to work round the right, while A Company held the MGs in front. This worked very well and it was mostly through the splendid leadershipof 2/Lt Cunningham that the position was turned. He took charge of the whole situation on the right, and himself dealt with the crew of an enemy gun. All this caused considerable delay and as it was not till about 9.45am that the position was turned it was discovered that our barrage had gone far ahead. However without the aid of the barrage the Bn pushed forward quickly, C on the left, A (now commanded by 2/Lt Nugent-Head, Capt.Barnes having been seriously wounded) in the centre and B on the right. D was still in full strength and in reserve. They fought their way through the village of Berthacourt to the eastern outskirts and finally consolidated there, throwing out sentry groups in front of the main line of resistance. Throughout the operations enemey shellingwas practically negligible and most of the opposition was from MGs. Battalion HQ took up a position in a half-dug trench just short of the village, from which an extensive view could be obtained of the country beyond. We had been told to expect a counter-attack from PONTRUET, a village 500 yards east of Berthaucourt, and sure enough much movement in the shape of small groups of men was observed working forward from that village at about 4.45pm. WE had a telephone line back to Brigade which was laid as we advanced and our artillery liaison officer was able to get back to his Brigade and within a few minutes an excellent barrage of shrapnel and HE was put down in the area where movement was seen, with the results that the counter attack failed to develop. The Colonel had been hit in the foot earlier in the day and was eventually evacuated, Major Butler taking his place.2/Lt F.A.Simonds joined the Battalion,with 1 OR.2/Lts Eldridge, Elmhurst, Best killed.Capt. Barnes, Lt Chambers, 2/Lts Winter, Lister wounded.23 OR killed, 6 missing, 95 OR wounded.
We had a counter preparation barrage just before dawn. Lt Chambers came up. The enemy attempted at 3pm to bomb down a communication trench on the extreme right but was stopped by counter bombing. Unfortunately both Lt Chambers and 2/Lt Cunningham were wounded during this minor operation and the latter afterwards died of wounds. 2/Lt Kiddle took over B Company temporarily. A small fighting patrol went out from D Company that night and proceeded down the main road towards Pontruet. They bumped into a strongly-held enemy post and 2/Lt Marlow who was leading was never seen again. Enemy artillery did a considerable amount of harassing fire round Bn HQ and left the front Companies alone. We had a counter preparation barrage that evening as well. That evening Bn HQ was moved back about 300 yards to the trench which formed our first objective, as they had suffered several casualties in their former positions.2/Lt Cunningham MM died of wounds.2/Lt Marlow missing.2 ORs killed, and 13 wounded.
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