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 6 ... Narrative Parts Index
transcripts :
4th Bttn.
Apr - May
One particularly gallant act wa.s performed that night by Private James Grundy, who was on duty with his telephone under very heavy fire, when he
suddenly discovered that the wire had been cut by a shell. He at once went out in the open to mend the wire, although he was only 120 yards from the enemy, and had hardly returned when the wire was cut a second time. Again, without a moment's hesitation, he went out to find where the wire was broken. This time, however, he was severely wounded as he was engaged in repairing the line, and when rescued was found still working away in spite of his wounds. Even then he refused to be taken out of the trench until he had handed over the secret code to an officer. Shells, bullets, wounds made no difference to him: he had his duty to do, and he meant to do it. For this act of bravery he was awarded the D.C.M.

On the 20th the 4th Battalion returned to Vlamertinghe, where it remained resting for a week, after which it moved up to Ypres, and took over the right of the right sector at Rifle Farm on the 27th for four days.

The Battalion remained at Ypres until the 15th, taking over various portions of the line every four days. Nothing of interest occurred until the night of the 3rd, when it was found that the enemy had undermined our front line. In order to destroy the enemy's shaft, our miners exploded a mine fifteen yards in front of our trenches. The shock of the explosion was very great, and the crater that was formed was roughly 200 feet in diameter and 80 to 100 feet deep.

4th Bttn.
p.20 - 21
The far edge of the crater was about seventy yards from the enemy's trenches. Immediately after the explosion Lieutenant Payne-Gallwey dashed over with a N.C.O. and ten men, and occupied the far edge of the crater to form a covering party, while Lieutenant Nairn, with a similar party, occupied the near edge of the crater, and commenced placing previously-filled sand-bags in position to form some cover while digging. Each of these parties took with them long ropes, which proved of the greatest assistance in keeping the men together and showing the line along which they were to dig. One man shot in the chest fell half-way down the crater, and was pulled up with this rope.

While the consolidation of the crater was in progress, Captain Layton determined to link up the wire entanglements and bring them round in front of the crater. He despatched another party from his company for this purpose, and ordered them to report themselves to Lieutenant Payne-Gallwey, but as the enemy was clearly visible, when the lights went up, the erection of barbed-wire entanglements within seventy yards of their line was perilous work. The wiring of the crater, however, was successfully accomplished, although the enemy threw a quantity of bombs. Fortunately most of them pitched short, but seven casualties occurred from splinters. Meanwhile Lieutenant H.H. Sloane-Stanley on the right sent out similar wiring and digging parties from No. 2 Company to join up with No. 3 Company, and the two parties had got within thirty yards of each other when they were discovered by the

Germans, and a storm of bullets from the enemy's machine-guns put an end to the work. The trench between the two companies had, however, been finished, and as there was no immediate hurry about the wire, the parties were with-drawn.

General Heyworth the next day, in a letter reporting the incident, wrote :

I personally inspected the crater this morning and was enabled to walk through the trench which was dug, and which now connects H.17 to H.19. The work done last night reflects the greatest credit on those officers and men who took part in it, more especially on the wiring party, who for some time had to work under the most trying circumstances, as the Germans turned a machine-gun on them. It was in this party that all the casualties occurred. The Officer Commanding the 4th Battalion Grenadier Guards Must also be congratulated on the excellent arrangements made. The defence of this sub-sector has been considerably strengthened by this trench.

This was the last time General Heyworth saw the 4th Battalion, for he was killed on the 9th whilst going round the trenches of the lst. Battalion Grenadiers.1

On the 18th the 4th Battalion retired to Poperinghe by train, and on the 19th marched to Wormhoudt, and remained there till the end of the month, going into the trenches in various parts of the line, where it was continually under shell-fire, but nothing of interest appears to have happened.

1 See 1st Battalion account.

4th Bttn.
June - July
p. 22
On June 1 the 4th Battalion moved to Poperinghe again, and was employed on fatigues and digging. On the 5th Second Lieutenant J.B.M. Burke and Second Lieutenant C.S. Nash arrived, and on the 7th the Battalion marched to Hon-beghem. The next day after a march of fifteen miles, it moved to Tatinghem, and on the 17th returned to Poperinghe. These were two long, hot marches, but no man fell out on the line of march either day. On the 18th the Battalion moved up to the Canal Bank at Ypres, and then back into the trenches on the right of R sector, with the Battalion Headquarters at Irish Farm. The line was very much disconnected, and consisted chiefly of a chain of posts, most of which were in bad order, while what trenches there were, were mostly derelict, and required a good deal of work. On the 28th Lieutenant H.H. Sloane-Stanley took out a patrol with the object of capturing an enemy post, but it was surprised by one of the enemy's patrols, which opened fire on it, wounding every man in the left party of the patrol. One wounded man was left behind when the party retired, and although Lieutenant Sloane-Stanley, Lance-Corporal Holland, and Private Heap returned and searched for him, he was never found.

After four very wet days in the trenches the 4th Battalion retired to Ypres for four days' rest, and on the 4th returned for two nights to the trenches. The days spent in the trenches proved uneventful, but on the 7th a raid was made on a part of the enemy's line known as the Canadian Dug-outs.

4th Bttn.
p. 23
A party under Lieutenant H.H. Sloane-Stanley and Second Lieutenant D.O. Constable was sent out, and crawled up quite close to the enemy's position. Unfortunately the ground was very wet and muddy, and this made a noiseless advance a matter of some difficulty. There seems no doubt that the enemy heard it, and took precautions. The barrage was timed to commence at 1.5am and this was to be the signal for the assault. At 1am the Battery covering the Twentieth Division on the right opened fire, and the raiding party mistook this for their barrage. Immediately Lieutenant Sloane-Stanley and Second Lieutenant D.O. Constable sprang to their feet, and were about to lead the assault when they found themselves confronted at fifteen paces by a party of the enemy who opened a sharp fire on them. Fortunately the shooting was very wild, and only four men were wounded. The fighting then resolved itself into a bombing and Lewis-gun contest, but the Grenadiers were well hidden and suffered no loss. Lieutenant Sloane-Stanley's orders were not to assault unless it could be done by surprise, and he therefore decided to withdraw his party four at a time, covered by the Lewis gunners, who behaved with great coolness. So successfully did they cover the retreat that the whole party returned without loss. This raid alarmed the enemy, who opened a heavy bombardment on our line, during which 4 men were killed and 18 wounded, in addition to Captain M. Chapman, who was struck by splinters of a shell in the leg and hand.
4th Bttn.
p. 24
On the 8th the Battalion retired to Poperinghe, and on the 10th Second Lieutenant L. R. Abel Smith joined the Battalion. The first anniversary of the formation of the Battalion was celebrated on the 15th in a befitting manner, and a programme suitable for the occasion was carried out. At the men's dinners at 12.30 free beer and extra vegetables were issued. In the afternoon there was a football match between the right half and left half battalions, followed at 5pm by a sergeants' and corporals' dinner. At 6.15 there was a Battalion concert, after which the ofiicers had a dinner. Lord Cavan, who attended the football match, gave away the prizes, and afterwards addressed the Battalion. He visited the N.C.O.'s at dinner, and made them a short speech on the work done by the Division, giving especial praise to the Battalion for its initiative in raids and patrols. Major-General G. Feilding and Brigadier-General C. Corkran attended the oflicers' dinner.

That night the 4th Battalion moved up again into the line, and became the right reserve Battalion, Nos. 1 and 2 Companies going into dug-outs on the canal bank, and Nos. 3 and 4 remaining at Chateau Elverdinghe, which was a large and comfortable house with a park and gardens. The shelling was continuous, and even back at the Chateau the shells fell at times in large numbers. On the 10th "a dummy raid" was carried out with the object of surprising the enemy with artillery fire when he expected an infantry attack. All the usual preparations for an attack were gone through, and at 12.30am our guns, assisted by the Belgian artillery, opened an intense bombardment for three minutes on a selected portion of the enemy's front line, while the infantry indulged in a rapid fire supplemented by Lewis guns.

4th Bttn.
p. 25
After three minutes the fire was lifted on the enemy's second and third lines, following the procedure observed when an infantry attack was about to be launched. It was then hoped that the Germans would come out of their dug-outs and man their trenches in order to repel the attack. The artillery at once shortened their range, and gave the front German trenches a sound shelling. The result of this manoeuvre was of course unknown, but judging by the very feeble reply made by the enemy, the ruse must have been fairly successful.

Second Lieutenant G.H.T. Paton joined the Battalion on the 23rd, and Second Lieutenant A.C. Flower on the 24th. Nothing of interest occurred during the days the Battalion was in the trenches until the 26th, when a party of the enemy raided No. 2 Company trench. About half-a-dozen Germans suddenly got in over the parapet and bombed a working party, which was completely taken by surprise. Second Lieutenant Maclear, hearing the bombing, rushed to the spot, and was instantly killed by a bomb thrown at close quarters. But the German occupation of the trench was only momentary, for bombing parties soon arrived from the right and left, and ejected the raiders, who did not wait but made their escape as fast as they could in the darkness. Second Lieutenant Maclear was an officer who could be ill spared, as he had proved himself to be absolutely fearless and self-reliant, and his loss was felt by every one in the Battalion.

4th Bttn.
p. 26
Captain Layton was hit in the foot during the repulse of the enemy's raid, and Sergeant Aiers, senior sergeant of the Battalion, was wounded for the third time.

The Guards Division now left the Ypres area and moved down farther south by easy stages. Having been relieved by the lst Battalion Hampshire Regiment, the 4th Battalion Grenadiers marched to Poperinghe, where they entrained for Bollezeele and then marched to Millain. During the first fortnight in August they moved via Bollezeelc, Millain, Arqueves, Mailly-Mallet to the line of trenches at Beaumont-Hamel. On the 7th Lieutenant J.F.J. Joicey-Cecil and Second Lieutenant B.Y.T. Kendall arrived, and on the18th Captain C. Mitchell, Lieutenant R. Farquhar, and Second Lieutenant J.W.F. Selby-Lowndes joined the Battalion. The four days spent in the trenches at Beaumont-Hamel proved uneventful, although there was a. good deal of shelling in addition to the Minenwerfers. On the 19th the Battalion started off for the Somme area, but this necessitated going a long way round by Vauchelles, Gezaincourt, Vignacourt to Ville. Here it rested for ten days, and on September 8 moved to Carnoy. On August 31 Captain E.G. Spencer-Churchill joined the Battalion.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 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
This Part
* 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
Part 10
* 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

World War 1 Project MENU PAGE
Members' Pages MENU

link to home page
Oldham in Gazetteers link
From the archives link
link to members' pages
link to News
link to miscellaneous pages
links page