from 'T.P.'s Journal of Great Deeds', June 5, 1915
'Leading An Attack - Experiences'


On the Western Front


Trouble was brewing ; rumours of a most unsettling and persistent nature were backed up by fatigues, inspections, and other indications which made a big move in the near future almost certain. The climax came when we were definitely ordered to pack light and be ready to shift early one evening — Saturday. That news hardly came as a surprise, but when we learnt that we were to lead the attack — well, it was exciting, to say the least of it. We marched off with a glorious sense of pride to think that such an honour and compliment had fallen to our lot!

Getting into Position

Eventually, after taking things very easily, we arrived •in our respective portions of trench shortly before midnight. The first three double companies went into the front line, as they were entrusted with the attack proper; the fourth was stationed in a special reserve trench a few yards behind them, ready to follow up immediately with spades and flags in order to repair any damage done to the captured trenches, and also to indicate to our own people that we occupied them. Besides this, any gaps in the attacking line were to have been made up from this rear line. Unfortunately we had counted our chickens too soon, for we were doomed to bitter disappointment.

The Opening Chorus

Soon after dawn our artillery let fly with a most deafening bombardment, which, unexpectedly, was almost immediately replied to with equal force from the opposing side. The noise was terrific, one constant whiz-bang, earth and fragments of shell flying everywhere. Before long a steady stream of wounded kept passing down the communicating trench, some on stretchers, white and motionless, some hobbling along with pain and difficulty, all presenting a most gruesome sight in their blood-red bandages and shattered uniforms. Presently the order was given to advance.

With undaunted courage and a determination which has long made British grit the envy of the world, our front line, with a ringing cheer, scrambled over the parapets to start on their headlong — but fateful — rush to the enemy's lines. The Germans, having experienced a taste or two of the men they are up against, had prepared a fire which no man on earth — not even a Britisher — could stand against, and thus, hardly before advancing: twenty yards, the majority of those gallant fellows had fallen for the last time. Their places were quickly filled, the occupants only to meet with the same fate.

Reinforcement and Relief

Shortly after mid-day our casualties had assumed such proportions that it was found necessary to reinforce us, and eventually relieve us altogether, but this was not such an easy performance as we had anticipated. The congestion in the communication trench, owing to the passage of stretchers, ingoing troops and outgoing troops,, made the retirement extremely difficult. However, at last we gained the open ground, where we started on a one-and-a-half mile's trot, the like of which none of us are anxious to repeat.

We had evidently been seen, for hardly had we started before the enemy put in shell after shell perilously near our path. Fortunately we were protected to a certain extent by a shallow, hastily constructed communication trench, but, even so, it was no enviable job running the gauntlet with such a fire.

Baffled, to Fight Better

At last we reached a reserve line of trenches, where, in comparative safety, we spent an hour or so in cooling down and partaking- of a little light refreshment in the shape of bully beef and the celebrated army biscuits. Later on we shifted back to some very pleasantly situated billets, where we spent a most peaceful night. While the regiment undoubtedly fulfilled all that was expected from a moral point of view, it was unfortunate that its magnificent bravery did not bring about the success anticipated, but great consolation is gained by the fact that regular battalions also fell victims to the deadly fire from the opposition. However, considering that we are the first Territorial battalion to be entrusted with an attack, I think there is little cause for complaint. Anyway, the enemy will always have to be as well prepared in future if they are going to hold their own in any further attack we make.


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