22 September 2012

2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment

Before our next trip to the National Archives at Kew, I thought it might be an idea to transcribe some of the info I picked up last time ........ can't hurry these things!

My great-uncle Ben, the reason I started this family-history lark, served with the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment in the Great War, sadly losing his life on 31st October 1914.  I'd worked out roughly what the regiment were doing but it was good, if somewhat sobering, to read the war diary.

So, in the unlikely event that any of my readers also had someone in the 2nd Battalion, here's what the diary said:

4th October
Embarked Southampton
5th October
Sailed at 0830
6th October
At Dover
7th October
Arrived Zeebrugge and moved to Bruges
8th October
Moved to De Haan and bivouacked
9th October
Returned to Bruges
10th October
Marched to Beermen
11th October
Remained at Beermen
12th October
Marched to Coolscamp
13th October
At Coolscamp
14th October
Marched to Ypres
15th October
21st Infantry Brigade in centre of line from east of Ypres to east of Halte; captured several Uhlars
16th October
Removed before dawn and reached Gheluvelt about 0800.  Took up line Ypres-Menin Road-Poezelhoek-Reutel-Nord Westhoek.  21 IB in the centre.
17th October
Trenches were improved
18th October
21 IB advanced to the line 10Kilo-Terhamd.  Entrenched. “During the advance the Bedford Regiment came under sharp artillery fire and had a considerable number of casualties, including one officer killed.”
19th October
21 IB fall back, re-occupy previous entrenched position. Nordwesthoek.  Position reoccupied about dusk.
20th October
Recce not carried out.  Enemy very strong.
21st October
Brigade HQ moved back from Chateau to farm house.  Very heavy shelling all along the line all day.  All ordered to hold on.
22nd October
Congratulatory message from GOC Division.
23rd October
At dawn, one company of Bedfordshire Regiment advanced to retake the trench evacuated by the Royal Scots Fusiliers on their right, supported by one company of Royal Scots Fusiliers.  The attack met a very heavy fire from machine guns and artillery and could not accomplish their objective but they were able at dusk to take up a line linking the Yorkshire Regiment and Royal Scots Fusiliers, this line was occupied by the Bedfordshire Regiment.  Heavy shelling all day.  Infantry attacks repulsed.
24th October
Bad communications.  Phones not working.  Heavy shelling.  Bedfordshires in same position.
25th October

26th October
The Bedfordshires were to assist the Guards in their attack as soon as the 1st Guards Brigade passed their trenches, but the Guards did not succeed in doing this.  At dusk, Brigade relieved and assembled during the night in reserve at Veldhoek.
27th October
Brigade moved back to Hooge into bivouac in a wood to rest, but were moved out again at 5pm to take up a line from Vanvoordie Chateau to join with 1st Guards Brigade at about 9Kilo Menin-Ypres Road; which they did during the night, Bedfordshires on the left.
28th October
Held the line under heavy shell fire.  Enemy entrenching.  Bedfordshires filled the gap between Royal Scots Fusiliers and 7th Cavalry Brigade.
29th October
No attack against the Bedfordshire Regiment or 7th Cavalry Brigade.  General offensive ordered.  Bedfordshires on the right of Yorkshire Regiment.  Advance under heavy shellfire.  Casualties heavy.  Not far.  Prepare a further advance in the morning.  Welsh Fusiliers occupied the Bedfordshires trenches, the Bedfordshires came into reserve.
30th October
Movement of large bodies of troops heard during the night.  Further offensive action put off.  Germans occupied Zandvourdie.  Bedfordshires cover the withdrawal of 20th Brigade from salient.  Many casualties.  Line occupied by Bedfordshires on the right.
31st October
Heavy shelling early in the morning.  Germans seized Gheluvelt.  Bedfordshires (on the right) able to withdraw to new line at dusk.  Fighting very fierce.  Many casualties.  Bedfordshire Regiment also losing their CO and many of their officers.  Total Brigade strength reduced to 11 officers and 750 men.

More soon.