The Battle of Epehy Wood:
|The following is an extract from the War Diary of the 2/24th
Battalion, London Regiment, The Queen's - the "Narrative of Operations
18/20th September 1918". The original typewritten document is held at
the National Archives, Kew where a copy was taken during a visit in
2009. The catalogue reference is WO/95/3001. Private Herbert Robert
Albert was killed on the 18th - more details about his death - was he
killed outright or did he die at a casualty clearing station are not
currently known and will be the subject of further research and another
visit to the National Archives.
|The Battalion was in close support to 2/2nd London Regt. and was
allotted the following tasks
(1) To "mop up" all ground captured by the 2/2nd London Regt.,
(11) To immediately attack any enemy who may be holding up the advance of the 2/2nd Bn.
(111) To consolidate and hold the captured ground as follows:-
RIGHT FRONT COY. ("A" Coy.).
(a) CHESTNUT AVENUE from X.26.c.2.6. to FIR SUPPORT exclusive with a view to repelling attack from N. or S.E. and -
(b) Trnech Running N.W. from X.26.c.2.6. with a view to strengthening the defence against the attack from the East.
RIGHT SUPPORT COY. ("B" Coy.).
PRINCE RESERVE TR. and Railway from Southern Brigade boundary to trench running E. and W. through PROCTORS POST exclusive:-
LEFT FRONT COY. ("C" Coy.).
PRINCE RESERVE from trench running E> and W> through PROCTORS POST inclusive to Northern Brigade boundary.
LEFT SUPPORT COY. ("D" Coy.).
Line of the Eastern most railway within the above limits.
During the night 17/18th Sept. 1918, "A" & "C" Coys. assembled with the 2/2nd London Regt. in the front line trench running from W.29.d.3.3 to W.29.b.9.9. and "B" & "D" Coys. in the support trench running from W.29.c.3.2. to W.28.b.9.5. Assembly was completed by 1.30 a.m.
At Zero 5.20 a.m. 18th inst., behind a barrage of shrapnel and smoke and accompanied by a tank on either flank, the advance commenced. The leading troops followed close on the barrage and reached the enemy positions with few casualties. The tank of right flank was sonn disabled by a direct hit on a track.
PRINCE RESERVE Trench was immediately captured . About 30 of the enemy made an immediate counter attack on the extreme left but were beaten off.
TOTTENHAM, McLEAN, McPHEE posts were mopped up quickly but consequent upon the troops attacking on the right not effectively dealing with EPEHY further progress was delayed. Fire from FISHER'S keep delayed the occupation of MORGAN Post for some time after the enemy had evacuated it and support from WEEDON Post similarly made the capture of PROCTORS POST a matter of considerable difficulty. Touch was not obtained with Cambridgeshire Regt. on the right.
At 3.30 p.m. a fresh attack on the right cleared EPEHY and allowed the mopping up of PEIZIERES to be completed.
The dispositions of the Battalin were now,
"A" Coy. with 2/2nd Bn. in FIR SUPPORT.
"B" Coy. N.E. outskirts of the Village, with Headquarters at PROCTORS POST.
"C" Coy. PRINCE RESERVE Trench
"D" Coy. Railway cutting behind PRINCE RESERVE with a Liaison post with Lincoln Regt. at F.25.a.2.8.
Although a Coy. of Leicester Regt. was in position with its right on the SUNKEN ROAD at F.26.a.9.9. POPLAR trench - the Division's final objective - was still held by the enemy.
At 5.30 p.m. orders were received for a bombing attack to be made on POLAR Trench simultaneously from both flanks.
"D" Coy. was ordered to be ready to advance from E.26.a.9.9. at 9 p.m. in co-operation with a similar advance undertaken by 2/2nd London Regt. from the right. some progress was made but a machine gun, firing down a straight stretch in the middle of the trench enabled the enemy to put up a stout resistance and the attempt was not successful. At 2 a.m. on 19th inst. another attempt was made and a bombing block established about F.26.b.25.5.0.
At 11.20 a.m. 2/2nd Bn. attacked frontally that portion of the trench remaining in enemy hands. "D" Coy. bombers co-operated in this and the position was eventually captured.
At dusk the Battalion relieved 2/2nd London Regt. and the Companies were disposed as follows:-
POPLAR Trench. Right, "B" Coy. Left, "A" Coy.
BEECH Avenue. Right "C" Coy. Left, "D" Coy.
On the night of the 20th, the Battalion was relieved by 9th London Regt. and proceeded into reserve at GUYENCOURT. Relieft completed 10.35. p.m.
CASUALTIES. during the three days operations.
The two page entry is signed by John Crosbie Lieut. Colonel, Commanding 2/24th Battalion London Regt, The Queen's and is dated 23rd September 1918.