Monday, 21st June 1915
The 4th Bn 1 marched to Aldershot huts 2 near the town of Neuve Eglise 3 and twelve miles south of Ypres. It was a very hot and dusty journey that sapped the men's strength, but they soon recovered.
The following day Bn officers rode off to reconnoitre the new trenches under the guidance of an officer from the South Staffordshire Bn they were about to relieve. The trenches were to the east of Wulverghem village and ran along a high ridge with a wide expanse of 'dead' ground behind them. They had been very well built and significantly improved by the Staffordshires during their two month occupation. The German trenches were between one and three hundred yards to the east. It would appear that on the ride out to the trenches the officers were spotted by the Germans, because Col Foster, Major Gibson and their two orderlies were subject to directed artillery shelling for most of the ride back.
That night the Bn set off to take up position in support of the front line. On arrival 'A' Coy occupied Souvenir Farm4, 'B' Coy took control of 'SP 4'5, 'North Midland' and 'X' dug outs6. Half of 'D' Coy occupied trenches SP 5 and 7 and a machine gun was placed in trench SP 4.
It was a short stay, because on the 23rd of June the Bn was relieved for four days of rest and training at an encampment near Neuve Eglise .
Monday, 28th Jun 1915
At 9.30pm the Bn formed up and marched off for the trench system they had vacated on the 23rd. Neuve Eglise was being heavily shelled, so rather than passing through, the Bn crossed the fields and skirted round the town.
The 4th Bn trenches ran in a parallel line across the fields below the Messines Ridge. The 149th Bde occupied the trenches on the right flank of the 50th Divn 7sector. To the immediate left were the 150th Bde and beyond them were the 151st Bde. Each Bde had two Bns in the front line.
On arrival, the 4th Bn deployed 'A' and 'D' Coys as follows:
Trench D2 - 1 platoon from 'A' Coy
SP4 - 1 platoon from 'D' Coy
SP5 - 1 platoon from 'D' Coy
North Midland Dugouts 8- 2 platoons from 'D' Coy
Souvenir Farm - 3 platoons from 'A' Coy and Bn stores
X dugouts - Reserve MG
D2 and SP5 - Machine gun
Approximately two hundred yards behind the front line two sandbag fortifications were established, to be used as rallying posts in case of emergency. These fortifications became known as 'Prudhoe' and 'Bywell' Castles910. Bn HQ was established in Pheasant Farm11.
Tuesday, 29th Jun 1915
Major General The Earl of Cavan assumed command of the 50th Divn from Major General Sir W.F.L Lindsay. At the same time Brigadier General H.F.H Clifford succeeded Brigadier General G Fielding as OC 149th Bde12.
Two 15lb shrapnel cases fell into trench 'D2'13.
Wednesday, 30th Jun 1915
A very quite day, but the shelling recommenced that night. Trench D2 and the support trenches were shelled, one man was wounded.
Thursday, 1st Jul 1915
Lecture on smoke helmets at Divn HQ.
Friday, 2nd Jul 1915
Weather: Warm & sunny
High explosive and woolly bears14 in salvoes (two of 4 each) over front line. A few men from the 5th and 6th Bns were hit, but none from the 4th Bn.
Lord Cavan and General Clifford inspected the trenches.
Saturday, 3rd Jul 1915
Weather: Very hot
An enemy wiring party was spotted in front of trench 'D2' from the Bn's listening post. The Bn opened fire and several whistles were blown by the enemy. Two bursts of rapid rifle and machine gun fire were given in return.
Lt Gregory was badly wounded by a snipers bullet whilst directing a working party in one of the trenches
4th & 5th Jul 1915
Weather: Very hot
The 4th was quiet, but on the 5th two rifle grenades landed in front of trench 'D2'. OC 'C' Coy replied with three grenades and one burst on the parapet. A patrol discovered that more wire had been erected and the grass cut in front of an enemy trench to a depth of five yards. Also straw was spotted in a communication trench near the German wire.
Tuesday, 6th Jul 1915
Weather: Very hot
The enemy fired twenty rifle grenades at the Bns' position, but none of them landed in the trenches. Twelve grenades were fired in retaliation and some appeared to land in the enemy trenches. General Sealy’s HQ was shelled in the afternoon with common shell. Three shells fell during the evening.
At 5pm General Clifford arrived at Bn HQ to inspect the trenches and invited Colonel Foster to accompany him. The last port of call was Souvenir Farm, where one of the platoons and the Bn stores were located. It was here that the General had a lucky escape. It was around 9pm when, with the inspection completed, the Colonel noticed that the General had set off on the return journey down the main road to Messines. The Colonel followed him in some haste, explained to him how dangerous the road was and directed him to the nearby communication trench. They had just entered the trench when a shell exploded not five yards from where they had stood.
Ptes Newton and McClafferty of 'C' Coy went out to try and capture a German listening post, but they were unable to locate it. They threw three bombs into a German trench causing some commotion. 'C' Coy was relieved by 'A' Coy.
7th & 8th Jul 1915
The 7th was quiet, but there was much more shelling than usual on the 8th. Twelve rifle grenades were fired at trench 'D2' and approximately forty others fell along the line.
A few days earlier the Bn listening post reported noises underground, noises that indicated the Germans were digging a shaft towards and under the Bn trenches, no doubt with the intention of detonating a mine under them. To counter this plan a company of 50 men from the Bn, who had been miners prior to enlisting, was formed and set to the task of digging a shaft under the German shaft. On the evening of the 8th the officer in charge reported that the shaft was complete and that a counter-mine was in position and ready to detonate. He planned to detonate the mine at 4am the following morning.
Friday, 9th Jul 1915
Early that morning the enemy were heard under trench D4. They had just stopped work when at 4.30am the mining officer detonated the counter-mine and blew up the German shaft. Judging by the debri that fell into the Bn trenches, there must have been Germans down the shaft when the mine was detonated. The signs were that that they were close to detonating their own mine as a precursor to an infantry assault, because the German forward trench was full of men who instantly opened up with heavy rifle, machine gun and light artillery fire. Although the fusiliers were prepared for the detonation and any subsequent attack, it is not clear what damage was caused the Battalions' own trenches.
The allied howitzers shelled during the night.
An allied aeroplane forced a German aeroplane to descend during the morning of Jul 10th. In the evening an allied aircraft came down behind the British lines, the pilot having been wounded in the shoulder. One of the fusiliers in trench D2 shot a German who stood up to watch. By 12.30am on the 11th the Bn had been relieved by the 6th Bn.
Sunday, 11th Jul 1915
A working party of 5 officers and 150 men was sent out. Five men were wounded and work was delayed when a British mine exploded and drew fire.
12 - 15th Jul 1915
The days were spent resting and training. A working party of three officers and one hundred and fifty men were sent out.
13 Jul 1915
Weather - Hot sunny in the morning.
An inspection of the GHQ 15 second line defences and Switch were carried out
Inspection of 'A' Coy. Demonstration of trench catapult. Back for tea and cricket.
14 Jul 1915
Inspection of 'B', 'C' and 'D' Coys. Two Canadian officers, from the Bn due to replace them, visited. Major GIbson set off for leave in England. The first from the Bn to do so.
The relief of the 50th Divn began on the night of the 14th -15th Jul and continued the following two nights. The GOC 16 assuming command of a sector to the east of Armentieres at midnight (17th -18th Jul).
Go to the Armentieres Sector page
Wulvergem was a relatively quiet period and records indicate that no fusiliers from the 4th Bn were killed. For information on 4th Bn burial and memorial sites in the Ypres Salient, select the link.
Wulverghem - Glossary
CO - Commanding Officer.
Coy - Company. 234 men in full strength Coy. 4 Coys in a Bn.
HQ - Headquarters.
MG - Machine Gun.
Trench Catapult -
Wulverghem - Military Units
46th (North Midland) Division
The 137th (Staffordshire) Bde Comprised of the 1/5th & 1/6th Bn - South Staffordshire Regt, 1/5th & 1/6th Bn - The Prince of Wales's (North Staffordshire Regt). Learn more about this Bde at: http://www.hellfire-corner.demon.co.uk/wulver.htm
The 138th (Lincolnshire and Leicestershire) Bde. Comprised of the 1/4th Bn &1/5th - Lincolnshire Regt, 1/4th & 1/5th Bn - Leicestershire Regt.
The 139th (Notts and Derby) Bde. Comprised of the 1/5th, 1/6th, 1/7th & 1/8th Bn Sherwood Foresters.
50th (Northumbrian) Territorial Division - Comprised of the 149th, 150th and 151st Infantry Brigades.
The 149th (Northumbrian) Bde - Comprised of 1/4th, 1/5th, 1/6th and 1/7th Bns - Northumberland Fusiliers, 1/5th (Cumberland) Bn - Border Regt.
The 150th (York & Durham) Bde - Comprised of 1/4th Bn East Yorkshire Regt, 1/4th Bn Green Howards, 1/5th Bn Green Howards and 1/5th Bn Durham Light Infantry
The 151st (Durham Light Infantry(DLI)) Bde - Comprised of 1/6th, 1/8th and 1/9th DLI
Wulverghem - Locations
General Sealy's HQ -
Ypres (Ieper) - Medieval Flemish town around which the salient formed in 1914.
- Bn - Battalion. A full strength infantry battalion at this time would comprise 1021 men.
- Aldershot huts - Hutted military encampment near the village of Neuve Eglise
- Neuve Eglise (Nieuwkerke) - Town 11km south southwest of Ypres. 3km south west of Wulverghem trenches
- Souvenir Farm - Ruined farm on the eastern outskirts of Wulverghem and the road to Messines. The 4th Bn kept its supplies here.
- SP 4, 5 & 7 - Strong Points based on ruined farm buildings. marked on Map 1 - Wulverghem trench map - dated 21st Jun.
- 'X' dugouts - Marked on Map 1 - Wulvergem trench map - dated 21st Jun.
- Divn - Division. Approximately 18,000 men in a full strength Division.
- North Midland Dugouts - Dugouts named after the 46th (North Midland) Division who had occupied this part of the line prior to the 50th (Northumbrian) Division. Marked on Map 1 - Wulverghem trench map - dated 21st Jun. Learn more at: www.hellfire-corner.demon.co.uk/wulver.htm
- Prudhoe Castle - The precise location of this sandbag fortification is unclear at the moment. However, its is named after the castle on the south bank of the River Tyne below the village of Prudhoe, Northumberland.
- Bywell Castle - The precise location of this sandbag fortification is unclear at the moment.
- Pheasant Farm - The precise location of this farm is unclear at the moment.
- Bde - Brigade. An infantry Brigade at this time was usually comprised of 4 Battalions.
- D2 - Section of front line trench occupied by 4th Bn. Marked on Map 1 - Wulverghem trench map - dated 21st Jun.
- Woolly Bear - German shrapnel shell bursting with a cloud like explosion.
- GHQ - General Headquarters
- GOC - General Officer Commanding.