Sanctuary Wood, Maple Copse

12th Feb 1916

That night the Bn relieved the 9th Bn DLI in the Sanctuary Wood trenches. Relief went quite quietly. At 8am on the 13th the enemy began shelling Hooge Ridge1, just to the left of the Bn. The bombardment continued all day with the Germans firing an estimated six thousand shells. Sanctuary Wood was on the receiving end of some of them and a few fusiliers from the 4th Bn wounded. The night passed off fairly quietly. During the morning of the 14th there was only little activity. In the afternoon the enemy shelled Hooge Ridge again and late in the afternoon attacked opposite the Rifle Bde positions but were beaten back. A good amount of stuff was thrown over the 4th Bn trenches, killing four men and wounding about 13 or 14. On the right flank, opposite the 17th Divn, the enemy in the afternoon bombarded very heavily and attacked taking a few of our trenches. Our Bn transport was shelled while returning through Kruisstraat2, one Cpl was killed and two men wounded. Just before 3.30pm on the 14th the enemy opened up with a heavy bombardment on the Hooge trenches, held by the 24th Divn, on the immediate left flank of the 50th Divn. At 3.30pm shelling of trenches 37, 38 and 39 (opposite Hill 60 and astride the railway) and the area to the rear held by the 150th Bde. The 149th Bde had the 7th Bn on the right and the 4th on the left, the 6th Bn in close support and the 5th in Bde reserve. The 149th Bde, however, seem to escape the very heavy bombardment to which units on their right and left were subjected; ''The whole of the day the trenches immediately to our right and left came in for a very heavy and, at times, intense bombardment, and it was apparent that the enemy intended to put in an attack at some point or other''. All the approaches up from Kruistraat were shelled with 'whizz-bangs'3 and HE, and the Bde Office at Zillebeke4 dugouts was blown in and a good deal of material destroyed.The bombardment continued until 5pm.

15th Feb 1916

The night was disturbed and at 4.30am a counterattack was made on the lost trenches but failed. The whole of the day was rather disturbed; the enemy shelled Hooge Ridge and round about, but nothing further happened. On the 14th there was an attack on the left flank, during which some of the enemys’ bombers were opposite our trenches, but they were spotted and dispersed. During the night two rifles, two grenades and the belongings of one of them who was shot were safely recovered to the trenches. The information gained turned out to be of great value to GHQ. At 8pm another counterattack was made on the lost trenches and met with partial success.

16th Feb 1916

The whole of the day was quiet on both sides. In the evening the Bn was relieved from the front line by the 6th Bn and moved into close support redoubts. HQ went to Maple Copse5. Capt JR Robb and 2nd Lt Scaife returned from leave and no officers being due, all leave went to men.

Maple Copse

17th - 20th Feb

Nothing much to record during these four days. The Bn supplied seven working parties, each night and lay in support during the daytime. On the night of the 20th we came up to trenches again and took over from the 6th Bn. Owing to the low strength of the Bn, the 7th Bn take control of the right hand trench, relieving the pressure greatly.

21st Feb 1916

In trenches at Sanctuary Wood. A good deal of snow on the ground, but artillery less active on both sides

22nd - 24th Feb 1916

All these three days passed quietly, and there were no casualties

Sanctuary, Square & Armagh Wood - Military Units

17th Division - Comprised of the 50th, 51st and 52nd Bdes

The 50th Bde. Comprised of the 10th Bn - West Yorkshire Regt, 7th Bn - East Yorkshire Regt, 7th Bn - Yorkshire Regt, 6th Bn - Dorsetshire Regt.

The 51st Bde. Comprised of the 7th Bn - Lincolnshire Regt, 7th Bn - Border Regt, 8th Bn - South Staffordshire Regt, 10th Bn - Sherwood Foresters.

The 52nd Bde. Comprised of the 9th Bn - Northumberland Fusiliers, 10th Bn - Lancashire Fusiliers, 9th Bn - Duke of Wellington’s Regt, 12th Bn - Manchester Regt

24th Division - Comprised of the 17th, 72nd and 73rd Infantry Bdes

The 17th Bde. Comprised of the 8th Bn - Buffs, 1st Bn - Royal Fusiliers, 12th Bn - Royal Fusiliers, 3rd Bn - Rifle Brigade.

The 72nd Bde. Comprised of the 8th Bn - Queen’s, 9th Bn - East Surrey Regt, 8th Bn - Queen’s Own and 1st Bn - North Staffordshire Regt.

The 73rd Bde. Comprised of the 9th Bn - Royal Sussex Regt, 7th Bn - Northamptonshire Regt, 13th Bn - Middlesex Regt, 2nd Bn - Leinster Regt.

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.

The 150th (York & Durham) Bde - Comprised of 1/4th Bn - East Yorkshire Regt - , 1/4th & 1/5th Bn - Green Howards and 1/5th Bn - Durham Light Infantry.

The 151st (Durham Light Infantry) Bde - Comprised of 1/5th (Cumberland) Bn - Border Regt, 1/6th, 1/8th and 1/9th Bn - DLI.

1st Canadian Division - Comprised of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Canadian Bdes.

The 1st Canadian Bde. Comprised of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Bns Canadian Infantry.

The 2nd Canadian Bde. Comprised of the 5th, 7th, 8th and 10th Canadian Infantry.

The 3rd Canadian Bde. Comprised of the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th Bns Canadian Infantry.

If would like to read the full story of the 4th NF in World War 1, then please select here




  1. Hooge Ridge
  2. Kruisstraat
  3. whizz-bangs
  4. Zillebeke
  5. Maple Copse