Oldham Historical Research Group

1914 - 1918

Guardsman 21718,
Service No. 385
No. 2 Company
Killed in Action 31st July 1917

3rd Battle of Ypres
With many page transcriptions from 'The Grenadier Guards in the Great War of 1914-1918' by Sir Frederick Ponsonby, to recount the actual organisation & battles in which the Grenadiers, in particular the 4th Battalion, took part.
Pub. 1920 in 3 Volumes, .
from Volume 2
Part 10 ... Narrative Parts Index
transcripts :
Apr - July
p. 17-176

Diary of the War

The British offensive operations still continued with great success, and considerable progress was made on the famous Vimy Ridge. An advance on a 50-miles front was undertaken in the direction of Cambrai, and 19,343 prisoners were taken, in addition to 257 guns and 227 trench mortars. The Germans made fierce counter-attacks, but were not sufficiently strong to check the advance, and even the Hindenburg switch line was broken through. A further offensive from Ypres to Armentieres was commenced, and there was some very stiff fighting on the Messines-Wytschaete ridge. The French were equally successful, and having gained positions between Soissons and Craonne they pushed forward on a 100-miles front, taking 20,000 prisoners. In May they succeeded in capturing Craonne, and the important position on the Chemin des Dames. During the Allied offensive 52,000 Germans were taken prisoner, and 446 guns and 1000 machine-guns fell into our hands.

The Italians made good progress on the slopes of Monte Santo and on the heights of Gorizia, and there was some fierce fighting on Monte Vodia. Later San Giovanni was taken and the Timavo crossed, when there was more fighting on the Corso Plateau. In Russia the war was at a standstill, although a certain amount of fighting still continued in isolated places. In Greece the situation was still so unsatisfactory that the Allies agreed to let France undertake the whole Greek question. M. Jonnart was accordingly sent to Athens, where he at once demanded the abdication of King Constantine. Two days later King Constantine abdicated in favour of his second son Alexander, who was proclaimed King.

In Mesopotamia General Sir Stanley Maude gained two victories over the retreating Turks near Deltawa and Istabulat.

The following nations severed relations with Germany and joined the Allies: Cuba, Brazil, Bolivia, Liberia, and Honduras.

4th Battn
p. 189-190


The officers of the 4th Battalion on April 1, 1917, were :
Lieut.-Colonel G.C. Hamilton, D.S.O ... Commanding Officer
Major W. S. Pilcher ... Second in Command.
Capt. R.S. Lambert, M.C. ... Adjutant.
Lieut. I.H. Ingleby ... Act.-Quartermaster.
Lieut. J.B.M. Burke ... Intelligence Ofiicer.
2nd Lieut. C.E. Benson ... Transport Oflicer.
Capt. C.G. Keith, M.C. ... No. 1 Company.
Lieut. J.N.F. Pixley ... No. 1 Company
2nd Lieut. E.H. Tuckwell ... No. 1 Company
2nd Lieut. G.R. Green . . . ,, No. 1 Company
Capt. the Hon. F.E. Needham ... No. 2 Company.
Lieut. G.H.T. Paton ... No. 2 Company
Lieut. the Hon. A.H. L. Hardinge ... No. 2 Company
2nd Lieut. M.P.B. Wrixon ... No. 2 Company
Capt. C.H. Greville ... No. 3 Company.
Lieut. R. Farquhar, M.C ... No. 3 Company
Lieut. G.C. Sloane-Stanley . ... No. 3 Company
Lieut. C.S. Nash ... 3 Company
2nd Lieut. T. T. Pryce, ALC ... No. 3 Company
Capt. E.G. Spencer-Churchill ... No. 4 Company.
Lieut. E.R.D. Hoare ... No. 4 Company
Lieut. R.H.G. Leveson-Gower ... No. 4 Company
Lieut. C.E. Irby ... No. 4 Company
2nd Lieut. B.J. Hubbard ... No. 4 Company
2nd Lieut. N.A. Pearce ... No. 4 Company
Capt. N. Grellier, M.C., R.A.M.C ... Medical Officer.

Lieut.-Colonel G. Hamilton, having been given a command in England, left to take up his duties and was succeeded by Captain (Brevet Major) the Viscount Gort, D.S.O., M.V.O., M.C. After a fortnight at Clery the 4th Battalion moved to Cartigny, where it remained for six weeks. On arrival it had to pitch camp on soddcn ground. Though it was snowing hard and almost dark, the men managed in an incredibly short time to collect timber from the ruined houses, bring up braziers and pitch tents, so that a tolerably habitable camp soon sprang up. On the 14th Captain M. Williams assumed temporary command of the 58th Prisoners of VVar Company.

4th Battn
Apr - June
p. 192-193
The greater portion of the Battalion worked on the railway, but each company in turn remained behind to do steady drill.

By degrees the Battalion made itself very comfortable, and a canteen with a recreation room was built, two football grounds were made, and a cricket-ground begun. The pioneers of the Battalion collected the debris from the neighbouring ruins and erected stables and various other buildings. On the 23rd the work on the railway ceased, and all the companies were left at the disposal of the Commanding Oflicer.

The 4th Battalion remained at Cartigny untilMay 18, practising all the latest developments of the attack, but the work on the railway again claimed three companies, and it was only occasionally that the Commanding Officer had the whole Battalion at his disposal for training purposes. Second Lieutenant R.G. West joined the Battalion on the 1st of May, Second Lieutenant R.C. Denman on the 2nd, Second Lieutenant H.W. Windeler on the 16th, and on the 12th Second Lieutenant N.A. Pearce was appointed Transport Ofiicer. On the 18th the Battalion marched to Bronfay, and on the way was inspected by Major-General Feilding commanding the Guards Division. The following day it proceeded to Corbie, where it remained training until the end of the month.

At the beginning of June it moved on by train to Le Rons. Second Lieutenant J.M. Chitty joined the Battalion on the 4th, and Second Lieutenant F.R. Oliver and Second Lieutenant J.J.M. Veitch on the 7th. Company training and musketry were carried out during the fortnight spent at Le Rons, and on the 17th the Battalion moved to Herzeele, where the whole Brigade manoeuvred together. On the 21st Captain E.O. Stewart joined the Battalion, and on the 29th Second Lieutenant D. J. Knight arrived.

4th Battn
p. 193
The officers of the 4th Battalion on July 1, 1917, were :
Lieut.-Colonel the Viscount Gort, D.S.O., M.V.O., M.C. ... Commanding Ofiicer.
Major W. S. Pilcher, D.S.O. ... Second in Command.
Capt. C.R. Gerard ... Adjutant.
Lieut. I. H. Ingleby ... Act.-Quartermaster.
Lieut. Lord E. D.J. Hay ... Intelligence Officer.
2nd Lieut. N.A. Pearce ... Transport Officer.
Capt. C.G. Keith, M.C. ... No. 1 Company.
Lieut. J.N.F. Pixley ... No. 1 Company
2nd Lieut. E.H. Tuckwell ... No. 1 Company
2nd Lieut. G.R. Green ... No. 1 Company
2nd Lieut. G.C. Burt ... No. 1 Company
2nd Lieut. J.M. Chitty ... No. 1 Company
Capt. the Hon. F.E. Needham ... No. 2 Company.
Capt. E.O. Stewart ... No. 2 Company
Lieut. R.G. West ... No. 2 Company
2nd Lieut. T.T. Pryce, M.C. ... No. 2 Company
2nd Lieut. R.C. Denman ... No. 2 Company
2nd Lieut. W. H. Windeler ... No. 2 Company
Capt. C.H. Greville, D.S.O. ... No. 3 Company.
Lieut. R. Farquhar, M.C. ... No. 3 Company
Lieut. J.B.M. Burke ... No. 3 Company
Lieut. G.C. Sloane-Stanley ... No. 3 Company
Lieut. C. S. Nash ... No. 3 Company
2nd Lieut. D.J. Knight ... No. 3 Company
Capt. G.H.T. Paton ... No. 4 Company.
Lieut. R.H.G. Leveson-Gower ... No. 4 Company
Lieut. C.E. Irby ... No. 4 Company
Lieut. B.J.Hubbard ... No. 4 Company
2nd Lieut. J.J.M. Veitch ... No. 4 Company

2nd Lieut. F.R. Oliver ... No. 4 Company.
2nd Lieut. C.E. Benson ... No. 4 Company
Capt. N. Grellier, M.C., R.A.M.C ... Medical Officer.
4th Battn
p. 194
The 4th Battalion now made its way to the area opposite the portion of the German line which had been selected for an attack on July 31. The camp consisted of a few bivouac sheets in a wood, and was well within the range of the German shells; almost as soon as the Battalion arrived some shells fell in the Transport lines, but fortunately did no damage. Lieut.-Colonel Lord Gort went up to the line to make himself acquainted with the trenches from which the Battalion would attack, and took with him Captain Paton, Lieutenant Pixley, and Lieutenant Burke. During the first week in July the Battalion had to find between 500 and 600 men for fatigues in the forward area. On the 5th the camp was again shelled, but luckily there were no casualties. Lord Gort made a second visit to the front line, and took with him this time Captain the Hon. F.E. Needham, Captain Greville, Captain Keith, and Lieutenant Lord E. Hay. During these days there were constant gas alarms, and on one occasion the men were ordered to sleep with their helmets in the "alert" position.

July 14 was a red-letter day for the 4th Battalion, as it was the second anniversary of its formation, but owing to the large number of men required for fatigue work Lord Gort decided to keep this anniversary on the 15th. The celebrations consisted of a football match, a tug-of-war, and a sergeants' dinner, followed by a Battalion concert, and last, but not least, a free issue of beer to all the men.

4th Battn
p. 195
The Corps Commander, Lord Cavan, attended the sergeants' dinner, and made a speech which aroused the greatest enthusiasm. Major-General G. Feilding also attended.

The fatigue parties worked day and night, and as the work necessitated going up into the front trenches there were almost daily a number of men wounded. On the 16th the Battalion moved up nearer to the front line and received orders to raid the German trenches on the whole Divisional front in eight different places. The men selected for this were trained separately, and for three days the raid was rehearsed so that every man knew exactly what to do.

On the 18th the Battalion moved up into the front line of the Boesinghe Sector, and was unlucky enough to come in for considerable artillery fire while the relief was being carried out, as the enemy put up the S.O.S. signal, when he was being raided by the neighbouring Brigade. As soon as the relief was completed, gas was discharged from our Stokes mortars, while the enemy's artillery put down a heavy barrage on our front line. No. 1 Company was placed in the front line; No. 2 Company placed two platoons in S line and two platoons in Y line; and X line was occupied by No. 4 Company. The raiding parties from No. 3 Company were posted at Paradou Farm.

At 1am. on the 20th the raids took place, and in accordance with the orders received the German front line was penetrated in four places. No. 1 party started off, and had nearly reached the German line when it found that the mat which had been provided to help it over the mud was too short.

4th Battn
There was nothing to be done but to plunge into the Canal, and in spite of being up to their knees in mud the men succeeded in entering the German trench at the right place. After moving down the trench for 100 yards, they came upon a German double sentry post which was engaged in sending up Very lights. They determined to work round this post, but one of thc raiders lost his head, and fired point-blank at the Germans. This would in any case have raised the alarm, but in addition to this another of the raiders dropped a bomb, killing his neighbour and wounding himself, so that all attempt at surprise was at an end. The German sentries rushed off yelling, but had not gone far when one of them dropped dead. Showers of Very lights were soon sent up by the Germans in rear, and men were seen advancing with bombs and hand grenades in all directions. This raiding party therefore withdrew, bringing with it the body of the man who had been killed by the bomb. They were able to see a good deal of the German trench, and reported it to be badly knocked about.

No. 2 party under Second Lieutenant T.T. Pryce was more successful. The mat in this case was the right length, and enabled the men to cross over the mud quickly. They saw five Germans, who immediately ran over the Yperlee into Crapouillot Wood. They visited two German dugĀ·outs, but found them unoccupied and empty, and reported that they had some difficulty in moving along the trench, which was badly damaged.

4th Battn
p. 197-198
No. 3 party arrived at its destination without difficulty, but the Germans. who had bolted across the Yperlee opened fire on it from the opposite bank. The raiders afterwards claimed that they had silenced this fire with bombs, but there was no evidence to prove that they succeeded in killing any of the enemy. However, they were able to make a tolerably accurate report on the state of the trench.

No. 4 party was heavily handicapped, as the part of the parapet over which it had to start was on the sky-line, and therefore clearly visible to the enemy. No sooner had the men started than the alarm was given, and they found the Germans waiting for them. Again the mat proved too short, and the men were obliged to advance knee-deep in mud. Bombs were thrown at them from the start, and one bomb reached the covering party, wounding all three men. Sergeant Waterfall was hit as he topped the parapet, but continued to advance, and succeeded in effecting an entry into the German line. Then a regular bombing fight took place, during which Sergeant Waterfall was again wounded and knocked down into a shell-hole. The Germans determined to catch this raiding party, and commenced an outflanking manoeuvre on each flank, but this attempt was stopped by the covering party and mat men. There was no object in pursuing the enterprise any further, and the raiders therefore returned bringing back with them the eight wounded men.

On the whole the result of these raids was very satisfactory, and a great deal of valuable information was obtained, but none of the parties succeeded in bringing back a live prisoner. It had been proved that the enemy only held his front line in posts, all of which had been located, and that the concrete dug-outs or pill-boxes were what the Germans mostly relied on for protection. The wire on the whole length of the trench, although not continuous, was passably good, and formed an obstacle difficult to pass.

On the 23rd the Battalion was relieved by the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards, and retired to Battle Area Camp, having lost 3 men killed, 1 died of wounds, and 10 wounded during the three days it had been in the front line. In this camp it remained until the 31st.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Next part

Edward Garside Whitehead
* Edward & family
Part 1
* Edward enlists in Jan.1915;
* formation of the 4th Battn.
* Guards Division in 1915.
Part 2
* Battle of Loos, Sept.1915 -
* the Guards Division
at Loos.
Part 3
* Battle of Loos, Sept.1915
* The 4th Battn at Loos.
Part 4
Edward lands in France Oct.

* Diary of the War-
Oct., Nov., Dec., 1915;
* 4th Battn. Oct - Dec
Part 5
Edward transfers to
Machine-Gun Guards

* Diary of the War -
Jan - Sept. 1916;
* 4th Battn. Jan - Apr. 1916
Part 6
* 4th Battn. Apr - Jul.1916
Part 7
* The Guards Divison
at the Somme;
* Division Orders
Part 8
* The 4th Battn. at
The Battle of the Somme
Part 9
* Diary of the War -
Oct to Dec 1916:
* 4th Battn - Oct - Nov 1916;
* Diary of the War -
Jan - Mar 1917;
* 4th Battn. Jan - Mar 1917
This Part
* Diary of the War -
April - July 1917;
* 4th Battn. Apr - July 1917
Part 11
* The Guards Division. -
Battle of Boesinghe
31 July 1917
Part 12
* Edward Killed in action in
Battle of Boesinghe

31 July 1917
*3rd Battalion - Boesinghe
1st battalion - Boesinghe
4th battalion - Boesinghe

Part 13
* 2nd Battalion - Boesinghe
* Diary of War - Aug -Sept.
* 1st Battn. Aug - Sept.
* Guards Divison - Oct. 1917
Crossing the Broembeek
* Diary of War - Oct - Dec.


* Gallery
of pictures & Maps
War Diaries - Extracts
*4th Battalion M-G Guards
'The Grenadier Guards in the Great War of 1914-1918' by Sir Frederick Ponsonby
Pub. 1920 in 3 Volumes, is freely downloadable as .pdf files or can be read on-line.
Vol 1 HERE
Vol 2 HERE
Vol 3 HERE

Contributed by Sheila Goodyear

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