Second Battle of the Scarpe

Summary of events

With the exception of the 4th Bn (ordered to move to the old German line north of Beaurains) and two sections of the 149th MGC who were to support the attack of the 150th Bde, the 149th Bde was to remain in billets at Ronville 23 and Guemappe 24 was taken. The 4th Bn reached Buck Trench 25, and the Divn frontline was advanced to a point not far from the outskirts of Cherisy 26. HQ was established at Telegraph Hill 27

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23rd April 1917 (St Georges Day)

At 4.15am the front line Bns were reported in position. The 150th Bde attack was to be carried out by the 4th Bn East Yorkshires on the right and the 4th Bn Green Howards on the left. Five minutes before Zero hour two tanks nosed their way to the front and moved slowly in a north-westerly direction.

At 8am the Bn moved forward again to the O.G. 1st line (map ref: N.5.b) and remained there during the day at half an hour notice. The Bn moved forward at five minutes notice at 7.45pm to the Brown Line 28 and for tactical purposes came under the orders of the GOC 151st Bde.

During the early morning of the 24th the 151st Bde relieved the 150th Bde, who moved back into reserve in the Harp area 29; the 4th Bn were attached to the 151st Bde, the remainder of the 149th being in support.

At about 11.30am, the enemy was reported retiring in front of the 30th Divn, and the GOC of the 30th Divn stated that he was going to push on to the Blue line 30.

Wancourt

The Bn moved forward from the Brown Line under the orders of the 151st Bde. ‘B’ Coy were sent forward to the front line and came under the orders of the 5th Bn DLI. They dug and occupied a new trench connected to the right flank of the 9th Bn DLI. Their covering party captured four Germans. No contact was made on the right flank until 3pm at which time communications were established with the 5th Bn Border Regt who were to the rear and slightly right of them. The 5th Bn Borders agreed to come forward at night and dig and occupy a trench that would be connected with ‘B’ Coy on the left.

‘A’, ’C’ and ‘D’ Coys and Bn HQ arrived at the old British front line north of Wancourt Tower (dispositions as per sketch) 2.30am. Rations were brought up to the 5th Bn Border HQ in the Long Lane 31 and brought up to ‘A’, ‘D’ and HQ by ‘C’ Coy. There was insufficient time to deliver rations to ‘B’ Coy before daylight so the men had to consume their second lot of iron rations. ‘B’ Coy were subjected to continuous, heavy shellfire and persistent sniping. 2nd Lt R Johnson and five men were killed and 16 men were wounded.

('B' Coy or the Bn) Lewis Guns identified good targets at ranges varying round 1000 yards and inflicted several casualties on the enemy. One Lewis gun was destroyed by shellfire. The areas occupied by the remaining Coys were also subjected to considerable artillery fire, which was especially violent between 2.30am and 7am and again between 1.30pm and 2pm. No direct hits were obtained on the trench and no casualties were sustained in this line during daylight.

2pm A part of ten stretcher-bearers and ten men were sent out to collect wounded still lying on the battlefield.

The GOC 151st Bde was instructed to advance at 4pm under an artillery barrage. But, meanwhile, the 30th Divn had already reached the Blue line, and was digging in on it, and the 151st Bde was, therefore, ordered to conform immediately to the movement of the 30th Divn. The 5th Borders Regt swung up their right flank and obtained touch at about 4pm. But the 9th DLI, in the centre, with a Coy of the 4th Bn attacked, and had a sharp tussle with the enemy before occupying the Blue Line 32. (50th Divn)

3pm ‘B’ Coy under 9th Bn DLI orders (2.25pm) went forward one platoon to reconnoitre and capture an enemy trench 600 yards long astride the railway. The platoon captured the trench sustaining three casualties in the process.

Bn HQ received Operation Orders at 3.30pm stating that the 15th Divn were advancing on the left and 9th Bn DLI would support their advance with rifle, Lewis Gun and MG fire. Also that they would push forward patrols to reconnoitre and capture the German trench six hundred yards long astride the railway. OC 9th Bn DLI detailed ‘B’ Coy for this work and captured and held the trench as described above.

At 5.22pm 4th Bn HQ received a wire from OC 9th Bn DLI stating that one of the 'B' Coy platoons had just captured an enemy trench (from map ref: O.20.7.6. to O.20.C.1.9) and was holding it. Only three casualties were incurred. Fine piece of work. Lt Col B.D. Gibson and 2nd Lt Burton went forward to reconnoitre the new positions occupied by ‘B’ Coy and ‘A’ and ‘D’ Coys.

Another platoon was sent forward under heavy artillery and machine gun fire to help hold it. Under cover of darkness one more platoon of ‘B’ Coy was sent forward to the trench and three strong points were constructed, two north and one south of the railway.

10pm ‘A’ and ‘D’ Coys dug a new support trench between the railway and the Cojeul River and occupied it. One machine gun was attached to each Coy. At 10.30pm Bn HQ moved to a dugout at the old German gun pits at the north end of old German support line between Cojeul River and the railway. ‘C’

2nd Scarpe - Military Units

15th (Scottish) Division - Comprised of the 44th, 45th and 46th Infantry Brigades

The 44th Bde - Comprised of the 9th Bn - Black Watch, 8th Bn - Seaforth Highlanders, 8th & 10th Bns - Gordon Highlanders, 7th Bn - Camerons.

The 45th Bde -Comprised of the 13th Bn - Royal Scots, 6th & 7th Bn - Royal Scots Fusiliers, 6th Bn - Camerons, 11th Bn - Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

The 46th Bde - Comprised of the 10th Bn - Scottish Rifles, 7th & 8th Bn Kings Own Scottish Borderers, 10th & 11th Bn - Highland Light Infantry, 12th Bn - Highland Light Infantry.

30th Division - Consisted of the 89th, 90th and 91st Bde.

The 89th Bde comprised of the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th Bns - The Kings Liverpool Regiment

The 90th Bde comprised of the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th Bns - The Manchester Regiment.

The 91st Bde comprised of the 20th, 21st, 22nd and 24th Bns - The Manchester Regiment.

50th (Northumbrian) Division Consisted of the 149th (Northumberland) Bde, 150th (York & Durham) Bde and 151st (Durham Light Infantry (DLI)) Bde.

The 149th Bde comprised of the 1/4th, 1/5th, 1/6th and 1/7th Bn Northumberland Fusiliers

The 150th Bde comprised 1/4th Bn East Yorkshires, 1/4th Bn Green Howards, 1/5th Bn Green Howards and 1/5th Bn Durham Light Infantry

The 151st Bde comprised the 1/6th, 1/8th, 1/9th Bn - DLI and 1/5th (Cumberland) Bn - Border Regt.

149th MGC -

Bibliography

Footnotes

  1. Ronville [/note].

    The 151st Bde and the 4th Bn. The Germans were pushed down the hill from the Wancourt Tower [note] Wancourt Tower - A German observation post based on a ruined windmill strengthened with concrete. It ceased to exist as a landmark on the night of the 13th April 

  2. Guemappe
  3. Buck Trench
  4. Cherisy
  5. Telegraph Hill 
  6. Brown Line
  7. Harp
  8. Blue line
  9. Long Lane
  10. Blue Line
  11. Ronville [/note].

    The 151st Bde and the 4th Bn. The Germans were pushed down the hill from the Wancourt Tower [note] Wancourt Tower - A German observation post based on a ruined windmill strengthened with concrete. It ceased to exist as a landmark on the night of the 13th April 

  12. Guemappe
  13. Buck Trench
  14. Cherisy
  15. Telegraph Hill 
  16. Brown Line
  17. Harp
  18. Blue line
  19. Long Lane
  20. Blue Line
  21. Ronville [/note].

    The 151st Bde and the 4th Bn. The Germans were pushed down the hill from the Wancourt Tower [note] Wancourt Tower - A German observation post based on a ruined windmill strengthened with concrete. It ceased to exist as a landmark on the night of the 13th April 

  22. Guemappe
  23. Buck Trench
  24. Cherisy
  25. Telegraph Hill 
  26. Brown Line
  27. Harp
  28. Blue line
  29. Long Lane
  30. Blue Line
  31. Ronville [/note].

    The 151st Bde and the 4th Bn. The Germans were pushed down the hill from the Wancourt Tower [note] Wancourt Tower - A German observation post based on a ruined windmill strengthened with concrete. It ceased to exist as a landmark on the night of the 13th April 

  32. Guemappe
  33. Buck Trench
  34. Cherisy
  35. Telegraph Hill 
  36. Brown Line
  37. Harp
  38. Blue line
  39. Long Lane
  40. Blue Line
  41. Ronville [/note].

    The 151st Bde and the 4th Bn. The Germans were pushed down the hill from the Wancourt Tower [note] Wancourt Tower - A German observation post based on a ruined windmill strengthened with concrete. It ceased to exist as a landmark on the night of the 13th April 

  42. Guemappe
  43. Buck Trench
  44. Cherisy
  45. Telegraph Hill 
  46. Brown Line
  47. Harp
  48. Blue line
  49. Long Lane
  50. Blue Line
  51. Ronville [/note].

    The 151st Bde and the 4th Bn. The Germans were pushed down the hill from the Wancourt Tower [note] Wancourt Tower - A German observation post based on a ruined windmill strengthened with concrete. It ceased to exist as a landmark on the night of the 13th April 

  52. Guemappe
  53. Buck Trench
  54. Cherisy
  55. Telegraph Hill 
  56. Brown Line
  57. Harp
  58. Blue line
  59. Long Lane
  60. Blue Line