Oldham Historical Research Group

1914 - 1918

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

3rd Battle of Ypres
... Narrative Parts Index
National Archives 1206-1-1
transcripts :
My notes are in italics.
1917 MAR. to MAR.1919
1915 JULY TO 1919 FEB


4th Grend. M-G Coy. March 1917
17th to 27th March

EPSOM, 17/3/17, 5am
The 4th Guards Machine Gun Company entrained at Epsom Station - 10 officers and 177 O.Rs.
The officers were as follows:
Capt. B. Burbeck Ms. C.G. in Command
Lt. Hon. V. Agar-Robarts G.G. SGC in Command
Lt. J.I. Mackay S.G.
Lt. A Paget I.G.
Lt. G.M. Parry C.G.
Lt. G.H.G.M. Cartwright C.G.
Lt. Y.W. Swaine G.G.
2nd Lt. E. Hughes Hughes W.G.
2nd Lt. C.R. Stock C.G.
2nd Lt. R.D. Simpson C.G.

SOUTHAMPTON, 17/3/17, 5pm
Half the company embarked on the S.S. 'Duchess of Argyll' and the remainder with the transport on the S.S. 'Siptah'

HARVE [sic], 18/3/17 to 22/3/17
The Company disembarked and proceeded to No. 1 Rest Camp. G.S. wagon joins to complete transport.

HARVE [sic], 22/3/17, 2pm.
Entrained with orders to proceed to the PLATEAU near BRAY (SOMME)

BONFRAY CAMP 23/3/17 to 27/3/17, noon
Detrained at the PLATEAU station and marched to BONFRAY CAMP.

LE TRANSLOY, 27/3/17, 11am.
The C.O., 4 officers and 142 O.Rs. proceed to camp at LE TRANSLOY. Joined by 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Guards Brigade Machine Gun Companies. Employed on road repairing near LE TRANSLOY. Work still in progress at the end of the month.

B. Burbeck, Capt. O/C 4th Guards M-G Coy.


4th Gds. Machine Gun Company
April 1917

1st to 16th April
LE TRANSLOY, 1 April to 16th Apr.
The Company continued to repair roads and construct railways until the 16th April.

Orders were received to forward a three week's syllabus of training to Div. HQ.
The hours are 8:30am - 9am, 9am - 10:30am , 11am - 12:30pm, 1:30pm to 2:30pm.
The 8:30am to 9am parade is always put aside for Squad Drill or Arm Drill.
During the first week the remaining parades (with the exception of 2 Company drill parades in the afternoon) were devoted to very elementary work such as no Gun Drill, Elementary Tactical Handling, Limber parking and Box 'Respirators'[?] drill.
During the second week the programme was extended and a certain amount of firing was done on the range. the limbers were taken out and the men practised coming into action in the open. A gun drill competition took place amongst sections. No. 4 section winning by 4 points from No. 1 section.
No mechanism was included as the syllabus as it was reserved for wet days.

B. Burbeck, Capt. O/C 4th Guards M-G Coy

4th Guards. Machine Gun Company
May 1917
Map. ref. France sheet 57 c SE

1st May to 4th May
Having received orders that we were to be attached to the 40th Division for a minor operation the Company marched to COMBLES, while the O.C. made a thorough reconnaisance of the ground over which we were to operate.

the company marched to EQUANCOURT and came under the orders of the 120th Bde. - The O.C. accompanied by the 4 section officers reconnoitred the front line which had to be taken up.

Nos. 1 and 3 sections relieved 8 guns of the 120th M. Gun Coy. in the morning in the BROWN LINE, running from Q35 c.0. - Q29 a 2.8 - Q21 e 1.6. The remainder of the Company marched up to DESSART WOOD where the company HQ were formed.

In the evening Nos. 2 and 4 sections relieved the remaining 8 guns of the 120th M.G. Coy. in the intermediate line running R19 a 2.9 - Q17 a 3.5.
In front of this was a line of Outposts at varying distances of 1100 - 2000 yds.
The Company had now relieved the 120th M.G. Coy. and also taken over the frontage covered by the infantry of the 12oth Bd. holding this part of the line, thereby releasing them to assist in the attack on the LA VACQUERIE position.
During a reconnaisance carried out by the O.C. and 2nd in command in Coy. [2 illegiible words] with the C.M.G.O. XV Corps, it was decided that it would require 10 guns (and 2 Lewis Guns in the valley N.W. of BEAUCAMP) to provide for the defence of this line.
Operation orders were received during the day, of which the following are extracts:
(I) The 40th Division will attack the LA VACQUERIE position in
[2 illegiible words] to the 8th Div. on the 5th May.
(II) a. The attack will be carried out by the 119th and 121st Bdes.
b. The 120th M.G. Coy. will be placed at the disposal of the G.O.C. 121st Inf. Bde. The 4th Gds. M.G. Coy. (less 1 section) will cover the front of the 120th Inf. Bde.
c. One section of the 4th Gds. M.G. Coy. will remain in the second system.

V. Agar-Robartes O/C 4th Guards M-G Coy.

4th Guards. Machine Gun Company
May 1917
Map. ref. France sheet 57 c SE

4th May to 9th May
O.C. 4th Guards M-G Coy. was also asked if possible to barrage a deep gorge in front of the outpost line at about R8 a 0.8.

No. 1 Section moved up to the intermediate line where 2 guns were placed in position according to the scheme.
The remaining 2 guns, after consultation with O.C. oupost line, were dug un in an old trench about R13 e 8.8 and laid on to gorge with a range of 2000 yds.
The attack was changed to a raid on a large scale - Zero being at 11pm and time of withdrawal 1am on the 6th May.
The 2 barrage guns opened fire simultaneously with the artillery - The German artillery place a barrage on VILLERI PLOICH and BEAUCAMP.
One gun was hit and put out of action in the first five minutes, the other one fired about 3500 rounds.

The Company was relieved in the afternoon by the 120th M.G. Coy. The left hand gun was shelled during relief, some belt boxes and kit being destroyed and the relieving team were also wounded except one man. The relief of this gun was consequently delayed until a new team could be procured. The Company had no casualties during the time time in the line, though the dugout in which the C.O., 2 Section officers and 2 servants were, was destroyed by a shell immediately after it had been evacuated. Brigadier General Willoughby, commanding 120th Bde. expressed his thanks to the ranks for their work whilst attached to his brigade.
After relief, the Company marched to ETRICOURT where it remained until the 8th when it moved to COMBLES

COMBLES, 8/5/17

CURLU, 9/5/17
The Company marched to LOITER CAMP, CURLU, where training was continued

V. Agar-Robartes O/C 4th Guards M-G Coy.

4th Guards. Machine Gun Company
May 1917
Map. ref. ALBERT (combined sheet) and AMIENS 17C

17th May to 31st May
CURLU, 17/5/17 to 18/5/17
The division commenced to concentrate in the CORBIE-VILLE area. The Company receives orders to march to BRONFAY CAMP for one night - and proceed to BONNAY the next morning.

BONNAY, 18/5/17
The company re-commence training on arrival, special attention being devoted to more advanced work such as problems connected with undirected fire, also of compass, elevating wheel, traversing dial, etc.

BONNAY, 25/5/17
The whole Company, less cooks and the guard, was inspected by the Major General (O.C. Divisonal Train and the A.D.V.S. were in attendance)

BONNAY, 26/5/17 to 31/5/17
Training. Orders were received to move to ST. OMER on the morning of the 31st May

V. Agar-Robartes
O/C 4th Guards M-G Coy.

4th Guards. Machine Gun Company
June 1917
Vol. 4

1st June to 22nd June
HAUT-ARQUES, 1/6/17 to 15/6/17
The company recommenced training, special attention being devoted to the limber drill, and use of map and compass. On the 14th June the O.C. the Company Capt. B. Burbeck, M.C. was appointed Divisional Machine Gun Officer with acting rank of Major and Lieut. A.V. Agar-Robartes was appointed O.C. 4th Guards Machine Gun Company with acting rank of Captain.
Orders were received on the 15th June to move to STEENVOORDE on the morning of the 16th June, marching with the 1st Guards Brigade under the orders of the G.O.C. Brigade.

The company marched to STEENVOORDE. Soon after arrival orders were received to move to PROVEN area.

PROVEN, 16/6/17 to 19/6/17
The company marched to PROVEN area, a camp was pitched & training continued.
10 O.R. were attached to the Company from each brigade of the Guards Division and 2 O.R. from the Pioneer Battalion, 32 O.R. in all.
Orders were received on the 19th June to move to A 11 a 2.9 Sheet 28 on the morning of the 20th June.

Map Ref. Sheet 28 A11 a 2.9, 20/6/17
The company marched to 28 A11 a 2.9 and pitched a camp.

Map Ref. Sheet 28 A11 a 2.9, 21/6/17
The Divisional machine Gun Officer, the O.C. Company & two officers went up to the X line to choose positions for the gun emplacements which the Company is to build under the orders of the Divisional Machine Gun Guard Officer.

Map Ref. Sheet 28 A11 a 2.9, 22/6/17
One section started the work in the X lines, making square emplacements with shrapnel-proof head cover and semi-circular platforms for longfield mountings. This work was done by night

V. Agar-Robartes O/C 4th Guards M-G Coy.

4th Guards. Machine Gun Company
June 1917
Vol. 4

Map Ref. Sheet 28 A11 a 2.9,

23rd June to 30th June
23/6/17 to 30/6/17
Three sections went to the X line & continued building the emplacements by the night of 23rd June. Subsequently two sections went to work on the emplacements each night & the remaining two sections resumed training.

Lieut. C.J. Hewitt, Machine Gun Guards, joined the Company on the 29th June.

V. Agar-Robartes O/C 4th Guards M-G Coy.

4th Guards. Machine Gun Company
July 1917
Vol. 5

Map Ref. Sheet 28 A11 a 2.9,

1st July to 27th July
1/7/17 to 14/7/17
The company continues digging machine-gun emplacements in the vicinity of the X line near RAILWAY STREET and GOUVY FARM. It is eventually found that the type of emplacement is unsuitable - being too easily picked up by the enemy. The idea is abandoned in favour of 'slits'.
Four open emplacements with LONGFIELD TRENCH MOUNTINGS constructed in BOESINGHE.
Battle HQ built for the 4th Guards M.G. Coy. and 2nd Guards Bde. M.G. Coy. The rest of the period up till 14th July is spent in carrying up S.A.A. and other material to HQ.

Map Ref. Sheet 28 A11 a 2.9, 15/7/17
On night of 15/16 July Nos. 1 and 3 Sections commence a programme of overhead harassing barrage fire prepared by D.M.G.O. in conjunction with the Artillery - the firing positions being previously selected and worked out by an officer of the Company.

Map Ref. Sheet 28 A11 a 2.9, 21/7/17 to 24/7/17
Two sections of 227th Machine Gun company are attached for instruction in night firing.

Map Ref. Sheet 28 A11 a 2.9, 25/7/17 to 27/7/17
Two sections of 88th Machine Gun Company arrive to take over night firing.
On night of 27/28 an enemy aeroplane dropped a bomb on the camp and wounded Lt. A.W.L. PAGET (I.G.) 4th Gds. M.G. Coy.

From the 1st - 28th July the following casualties occurred in the Company:
GASSED: Lt. Y.W. SWAINE (G.G.) and 21 O.R.
WOUNDED: A.W.L. PAGET (I.B.) and 4 O.R.


29th July to 31st July
4th Guards. Machine Gun Company
July 1917
Vol. 5

On the afternoon of 29th July the Company moved up to the X Line to battle positions for barrage fire on ZERO day. No. 1 Section under Lt. C.J. HEWITT with 3 guns formed part of the left wing of the first echelon - the wing being commanded by P.H.B. KENT 2nd Bde. M.G. Coy.
The right wing of the 1st Echelon commanded by Capt. Hon. V. AGAR-ROBARTES was composed :
8:- No 2 section under 2nd Lt. R.D. SIMPSON
No. 3 section under Lt. G.H.G.N. CARTWRIGHT
No. 4 section under 2nd Lt. R.N. JACKS
Each section providing 3 guns.

Lt. J.I.M. MACKAY, Lt. G.M. PERRY and 24 O.R. remained out of the attack.

X LINE, 31/7/17
ZERO DAY, ZERO HOUR being 3:50am. The time-table as drawn up by the D.M.G.O. was as follows for the 1st Echelon:
• Open fire ZERO +2 mins and form first barrage on BLUE LINE till +20mins.
• Lift to BLACK LINE from +20 till + 1 hour.
• Move across CANAL
• Open fire again at +2 hours 34 mins till +3 hours 10 mins
• Lift +3 hours 10 mins till + 3 hours 40 mins.
• Move to ABRI WOOD.

4th Guards. Machine Gun Company
July 1917
Vol. 5

On arrival at the EAST side of ABRI WOOD the teams dug themselves in and stood by to open a barrage in reply to S.O.S. signals from the front. The S.O.S. signal was sent up several times during the afternoon and evening.

The following casualties occurred in the operation:-
Wounded : Capt. the Hon. V. AGAR-ROBARTES and 6 O.R.

[That, I believe, was the incident in which Edward Garside Whitehead was killed.

And on p. 232 (referencing the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards) in Vol 2 of 'The Grenadier Guards in the Great War of 1914-1918' we read :

"The section of the Machine-Gun Company which followed the 2nd Battalion during this advance suffered very much from shell-fire. Lieutenant Cottle, the officer in command, was killed whilst going forward to reconnoitre, and shortly afterwards one of the guns of this section with its entire team was knocked out by a shell. The remaining guns, however, were brought up into good positions in the front line."

From the Commonwealth War Graves website ... we find that the only Machine Gun Guards to be killed in action that day were: Edward age 21, George Anderson age 21, Robert Whyte Robbie age 21, and Lance Corporal William Reid all of whom are recorded as being in the '4th Battalion', and 2nd Lieutenant Cottle, who was attached to the Machine Gun Guards..

Return to Narrative Part 11

4th Guards. Machine Gun Company
August 1917
Vol. 6

1/8/17 to 7/8/17
On August 1st No. 1 Section under Lt. C.G.HEWITT & one gun of No. 4 Section returned to the FOREST AREA. The teams of the remaining 8 guns in ABRI WOOD line were relieved by spare men from FOREST AREA. These 8 guns were arranged to cover the whole of the Divisional Front with S.O.S. barrage fire.

On the right of the 3rd/4th the 8 guns of the Company relieved 8 guns of the 1st Gds. Bde. M.G. Coy. - 4 in front line and 4 in support.

On the afternoon of 6th a hostile aeroplane dropped bombs on the CAMP in FOREST AREA (A11 a. 2.9) wounding 2 O.R.

On night of 6th/7th the Company was relieved by teams of 88th M.G. Coy.

During this period the following casualties were sustained:
Wounded - Lt. C.J. HEWITT,G.G. who remained at duty until admitted to hospital 9/8/17
Killed : - 1
Wounded : - 12

The ' 1 Killed' , above, must surely refer (on CWGC) to ANDERSON, DAVID GEORGE MARCUS
Rank:PrivateService No:13
Date of Death:06/08/1917
Regiment/Service:Machine Gun Guards 4th Bn.
(Grenadier Guards 23287 ref medal rolls index card - indexed as just David)

PARTRIDGE CAMP Sheet 19 X26. c. 0.5
7/8/17 to 26/8/17
Company marched to PARTRIDGE CAMP in the PROVEN AREA taking over from 227th Company M.G. Coy.
Resumption of training - special attention being paid to BARRAGE FIRE drill. This was carried out by teams, sections and finally the whole Company. Instruction in bombing and anti-gas measures was received.
Many imoprovements to the Camp were made by the construction of Stores etc.
24th - Warning orders were received for moving to the FOREST AREA A11 a. 2.9

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

Contributed by Sheila Goodyear

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
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
This Part
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
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