Report on the Raid carried out by 5th Yorks Bn against enemy crater E. on the morning of 10th July 1916. [continued]
2nd Lt HP Bagge.
The front men of the Party were lying on the parapet and the remainder closing up. I was lying at the head of B Party, when suddenly
the whole thing started by bombs being thrown at our Party, who all stood up and started throwing back. This went on for a few
minutes. On this slackening I called on to the men behind to jump into the crater and jumping down myself turned to the right.
Here a man alongside me was wounded by a bomb and went back. Seeing a path leading across the crater I proceeded across with the men
following and on reaching the other side turned right handed round the near tip of the crater till I reached point C. We bombed
a dug out and some fire bays on the way. On reaching C the bayonet man in front reported Germans in front of us and hearing them
behind we turned back [This trench being untraversed] so as to try and reach the flying traverse where the cross path and trench round
the lip met.
As neither CT was blocked and as we were then the only men left in the trench, I thought a stand might be made there and a way cleared
to point of entry. A bomb was thrown by us at the party coming up from CT "Y". Certainly one man at least was killed and others ran back
round the corner down CT "Y". We then recrossed the crater and came out at the original point of entry, from which we returned to our
2nd Lt ER Saltonstall.
I reached my objective [enemy's wire at point B] without any considerable difficulty. On arriving, however I found that an extra
knife rest had been put out in the week part of the wire, where I was to cut it, which rendered the operation practically impossible.
By the time I discovered this bombs started all of a sudden bursting on my Left [about point A] and almost immediately a perfect hail
of bombs come over my party. We now saw two Germans firing over the parapet of the crater trench just in front of us. Sergt Francis
thereupon lobbed a grenade right on the parapet top between the two and both fell over backwards.
By this time it was nearly 1.45 am, the hour agreed upon for retirement, and as I could hear no signs of any of our fellows in the crater
trench, but heard shouts on the Left, I made my way there to find what was happening. On the way I heard Capt Brown shout out "All right,
get back everyone."
I therefore started back with my party. On the way back we came across the Party with the Bosche prisoner. He was causing considerable
trouble, shouting and struggling to get away. As he could not be got in peaceably I had to apply a little persuasion with the butt of
my revolver on his head. This partially dazed him and he gave little further trouble.
Pte Court of A Party.
The next thing I heard was shots being fired by Capt Brown. The Bosche threw bombs at us. I threw all my six grenades into the crater
and got into the trench with L/Cpl Priestman. We turned up the CT to the left [CT "Y"] and met a German dashing round the corner. I
bayoneted him just before he could escape. L/Cpl Priestman now went into the crater trench, while I proceeded a short way down CT "Y".
I met a German, whom I shot and he fell down. I then came back to the edge of the crater where I met L/Cpl Stephenson. A German
suddenly came up from the crater and wounded L/Cpl Stephenson, who said "I'm hit lad, I'm off." and got out of the trench. I shot
this German through the face and he rolled into the crater. I again went a little way down CT "Y" and then came back, but could see no one
in the crater, at all, and so I thought it was time to go. I climbed out of the trench where I had got in and caught up L/Cpl
Stephenson as he reached K1.
4. Capt Brown's impressions of the crater.
Whilst lying on the parapet Sergt Daggett and I distinctly heard a powerful pump working in the forward part of the crater.
When inside the crater, by the light of the flares and the bursting bombs, I saw that the position had been admirably consolidated.
The general effect was that of a theatre, of which the rear,[East side] of the crater would represent the stage, The boarded trench
with a low parados about 3 feet high would represent the level of the stalls. Above this ran a sort of track which might represent a
dress circle and again up two steps the fire bays, in the place which would be occupied by the upper circle. Forming a chord across the
bottom of the crater was a boarded trench with sandbagged wall on the western side. Behind this were some piles of timber.
Though I did not see the main shaft I am of the opinion that it was in the neghbourhood of the trench across the bottom of the crater.
Shots were fired into the crater from a trench some little distance behind it and commanding it.
CT "X" was a find trench, some 5 or 6 feet wide at the bottom, dry and firm with boards. The floor was beaten hard as by constant
traffic. It was revetted with hurdles for the first four feet, then with heavy timber and sandbags, the depth being at least 8 feet.
Firebays. These were exceedingly well constructed. There was accommodation for two men on the fire step with overhead cover.
On the Left of each was a pit or dugout about four feet deep
Notes on the dress of the Raiding Party.
i. All marks of identification [cap badges, shoulder titles, letters etc] removed. One or two caps were lost, so this may have been a
ii. Steel helmets not worn. SD Caps worn reversed, [Steel helment too conspicuous and liable to drop off. Difficult to crawl with one].
iii. All men's faces and hands were blacked. This was probably the chief reason for the successful approach to the enemy's trenches.
iv. Rubber bats were nailed to the men's boots as below:-
This was to deaden all sound when walking on the trench boards, and gave our fellows a great advantage. Capt Brown found it worked
v. Careful arrangements were made for speedy disposal of prisoners.
vi. Watches. Everyman of parties A, B, C, C [dash] had a watch. D and E Parties had two watched each.
vii. Torches. Each party had an average of two torches. No torches however were used except one by 2nd Lt Bagge, who made use of his to
find his revolver in the Bosche barbed wire on his way back.
viii. D and E Parties each had two rope ladders and 20 feet lengths of rope, but owing to unforeseen developments these were not used.
ix. A tape was laid by Capt Brown to Point A as he went out, which proved very valuable on the return journey, The tape was previously
darkened by mud.
x. All Officers, Sergeants and Corporals carried revolvers. [these were invaluable].
xi. The other men were armed as below -
Waistbelt and bayonet.
Knobkerry [tucked into belt, to prevent it rattling against bayonet scabbard].
Grenades. The number carried varied. Some men carried 6 [three in each side pocket], others 24. The total carried was 308 and F Party
had 96 in reserve in the Advanced Bombing Post.
A small proportion of men had rifles [cut down] and fixed bayonets, to act as bayonet men. The bayonets were blackened.
xii. Wire cutters. Each man of A, B, C and C[dash] Parties had a small wirecutter, to help him back, in case he lost and encountered
wire. E Party had 3 pairs of large wire cutters, but, as shown in the narrative these were not used as had been anticipated.
xiii. D and E Party had a canvas mat with wooden cross pieces, in case loose wire might be encountered, so as to afford a quicker retreat.
these were heavy and were not used.
i. Our own - Capt H Brown and 2nd Lt HP Bragge, slightly wounded and at duty. 7 OR wounded and 4 OR slightly wounded and at duty.
ii. Enemy. 1 OR captured. 15 ORs killed. This is a conservative extimate.
L/Cpl Stephenson, who has just returned from Hospital, gives his story as follows:-
I entered the German trench immediately behind Pte Court, got on the trench baords and went round the inside of the crater to CT "Y".
I then caught sight of the mine shaft, which was near the middle of the crater, beside a pile of timber. I was looking at this from
where we were when a man at the entrance of the mine shaft shot me. I then came back.