The Wartime Memories Project - The Great War - Day by Day
1st August 1917On this day:
- Field Ambulances in Action The 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Wessex Field Ambulances (24th,25th,26th) were based at Remy Siding Lissenhoek, nr. Ypres serving with the 8th Division. The 8th Division of the 5th Army who were engaged in the battle of Pilkhem Ridge in the opening stages of the 3rd battle of Ypres which began on 31st July 1917.
The Wessex Field Ambulance established an Advanced Dressing Station at Birr Cross Roads on the Menin Road. The weather turned at the beginning of August and the battlefield turned into a quagmire. It was taking up to six stretcher bearers to bring in one casualty.
The War Diary of the 3rd (26th) Wessex Field Ambulance records gas attacks as well as aircraft bombing on the ADS at Birr Cross Roads and casualties in August were horrendous. Pte. Regnald James Brookes Butt was one such casualty having his thigh shattered by a German high velocity shell on the night of 4/5th August, after being called out of reserve to assist another Division's (25th possibly) RAMC unit to pick-up Front Line casualties.
- 16th Northumberland Fusiliers move back The 16th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers move back from Coxyde to Ribaillet camp.
- Battle of Langemark 16th Btn. Royal Irish Rifles - Pioneers.
The Battle of Langemark
The first task was to clear and repair the Weltje to Spree Farm road from crossing the German front line to Bosseart Farm, a distance of some 650 yards. The road and surrounding land was almost level and shelling had made it difficult to distinguish the road itself. At 0530 on the 31st July, the assault began and No.1 Company moved into position to commence work on the road. They found it practically non-existent with only the outline being distinguishable. The attack had been initially successful but had then been driven back to first positions. As a result of heavy shelling work could not start until 1200. Despite this the road was cleared by 1530 to a length of 350 yards. Heavy shelling again made work impossible between 1530 and 1730, when number 3 company relieved number 1 company. The rain began to fall in torrents and with shelling continuing through the night, by morning the road had turned into a quagmire. The company could only bring materials up as close to the road as possible.
The battle continued from the 1st to 4th of August and little progress was made. The pioneers continued with their work, but shelling and continuous heavy rain made progress very slow. Because things had not gone well for the 55th Division, the Ulster Division were committed to operations so the pioneers were back with their Parent Division again but that made little difference. Work continued with better progress every night until 13/14 August. On the night 14/15 August attention was switched to 3 tracks to the front line. With the next attack due to launch at 0445 on the 16th August the company moved to billets (cellars) in Ypres in preparation for the next day’s battle.
The 36th Division’s objective was Red Line about 1900 yards from their start line but the German defences were strong and the only gain was about 400 yards by 109 Brigade. On the morning of the 18th August the 16th relieved 1/5 DLI (P) on Corps road works so once again while the Division moved to a rest area, the Pioneers were kept on the battlefield. This work had taken them back to the Weltje – Spree Farm road which they cleared for another 500 yards.
A series of orders and counter orders followed in the period 21st to 26th August. At least it gave them a welcome 3 day break from their hard labour. On 26th August Battalion HQ and numbers 3 and 4 companies moved to the camp outside Poperinghe, while numbers 1 and 2 companies moved to a camp near Vlamertinghe. The unit was now under the command of the Chief Engineer VIII Corps. Next day it received orders that on the 29th August, HQ and number 2 Company were to move to Canal Bank dugouts, north of Ypres. Work in the new area was under the command of CRE 58th Division.
For the last 2 days in August work was as follows:
No. 1 company – repair Weltje to St Julien road.
No. 2 company – Improvements to Reigersberg Camp.
No. 3 company – repair and extend track Admirals Road to Steenbeek.
No. 4 company – repair and extend track Forward Cottage to Steenbeek.
Following these tasks 16th were placed under orders XIX Corps for work with 42nd Division.
Battalion Strength 1st July Officers 44 ORs 930
31st July Officers 41 ORs 913
31st Aug Officers 39 ORs 845
Casualties July Officers killed 1 ORs killed 17
Officers wounded 4 ORs wounded 16
Aug Officers wounded 7
ORs killed 18 ORs wounded 125.
- Inspections 245 Machine Gun Company
Received Operations Order No.115 but the Company is not affected by this Operations Order.
GSO1 visited the Company and informed me that the Company would not take over trench positions until the 7th inst.
(GSO General Staff Officer).
Copy of Operations Order GSO1 5oth Division.
No.115 Copy 23.
150th Infantry Brigade to relieve 149th Brigade in the Vis and Guemappe sectors on night 4/5th Aug 17.
- Hospital ship
The first HMHS Letitia was a short lived ship. Built by Scott's Shipbuilding and Engineering Co, Greenock for the Donaldson Line of Glasgow in 1912, she was a 8,991 gross ton ship, length 470.4ft x beam 56.9ft, one funnel, two masts, twin screw and a speed of 14 knots. There was passenger accommodation for 300-2nd and 950-3rd class. Launched on 21st February 1912, she left Glasgow on 4th May 1912 on her maiden voyage to Quebec and Montreal.
Employed as a hospital ship during the Great War, she was wrecked on 1st August 1917 at Chebucto Head, Halifax, NS with no loss of life.
- Hospital Ship or Ambulance Transport Service during WW1.
- Medical Staff strength.
- Accommodation capacity.
- Period of Service as Hospital Ship or Ambulance Transport.
- Date From:18th November 1914
- Date To:1st August 1917
- Ships Crew details:
While entering the Portuguese Cove on the 1st August 1917 she was bound for Halifax Nova Scotia in heavy fog and due to Pilot error ran aground. Only 1 casualty a stoker accidently left behind drowned while trying to swim ashore.
- 1st August 1917 Relocation
- 1st August 1917 Parade postponed bad weather
- 1st August 1917
- 1st Aug 1917 9th York & Lancs in Billets
- 1st Aug 1917 Operational Action
- LINE MERICOURT SECTOR
1st - 6th August. In trenches. Weather rather wet with fine intervals. Very quiet time no casualties during whole period of 16 days except one accidental. On the night of 6/7 the Battalion was relieved by 13th EYR relief complete at 1.35am.
- 1st Aug 1917 Wet Day
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