The Wartime Memories Project - The Great War - Day by Day
8th April 1915On this day:
- Appointments 6th London Brigade RFA 6th County of London Brigade RFA record that bad weather has been experienced daily. Lieut W R Sadler RAMC, attached to this Brigade as Medical Officer, instead of Capt C H Welch. The Adjutant and Brigade Commander's Orderly Officer attended a conference on ‘Telephones’ at Marles. 2/Lt H B Wells (Officer in charge Base Details) reported for duty with the Brigade.
- 1st Battalion Royal Scots Belgium & France 1914 - 1915. 1st Battalion Royal Scots in Ypres, Belgium.
1st Battalion Royal Scots took over trenches around Inverness Copse.
- 8th April 1915 Tactical Tours
- 1st Bn Herts moves into billets at Le Quesnoy Btn was relieved by 3rd Bn Coldstream Guards and went into billets at Le Quesnoy.
- 3rd Monmouths at Polygon Wood An early Easter came and went and after a few days rest and recreation, equipment was reissued and the Battalion were on the move again, marching to Boeschepe, two and half miles north-west of Westoutre. Once settled the Adjutant, Company Commanders reconnoitred the trenches east of Ypres, held by the French troops. Vigorous enemy action was anticipated and the Division had the responsibility of an important area, the immortal Ypres Salient. This area had a reputation for it was most vulnerable to attack being a salient. It could be likened roughly to a saucer with the German Army in the secure position on the rim. The territory lying behind the line could be clearly observed from Passchendaele and Messines Ridge, both of which lay at the rear of the enemy lines
The battalion arrived on the morning of the 8 th April in the Grande Place at Ypres . The famous Cloth Hall and St Martins Cathedral were wrapped in a mysterious gloom. When the warring armies dug in during the winter of 1914-1915, the allied lines developed a large bulge around the ancient Belgian town of Ypres ; this was the infamous Ypres Salient.
The lay of the land meant that the German Armies surrounded the British forces on three sides
The orders were given to draw rations and go to the trenches. The battalion moved off through the Menin Gate, up the Zonnebeke Road to Frezenberg, on to Polygon Wood in the Southeast of the Ypres Salient. Before the War high pine trees grew in Polygon Wood, in a light soil with sandy patches, but when the Battalion arrived every big tree was down and underfoot was thick undergrowth and shrub.
The Battalion's Headquarters were dug-outs in a mound - the Butte de Polygon, the Australian War Memorial now stands on this site, the rest of the battalion took over the trenches from the their previous occupants, 2 nd Battalion of the 146th Regiment of the French Army. The French appear to adopted the “Live and let live” attitude of trench warfare. The men of the Monmouth's were treated to the site of the Germans opposite cooking their breakfasts in braziers on top of the parapet. Action was instigated to stop this but it provoked a reply of rifle grenades and whizz bangs that knocked the trenches about. The dug-outs taken over from the French were not very deep, giving very little protection from rifle fire or the inclement weather, so what protection there was from the smaller pine trees was welcomed. At least they gave cover to the dugouts from the air when enemy aircraft were active. Polygon Wood was exposed to fire from the south and the east, and at the quarter to of every hour, throughout twenty-four hours, a German field-gun fired a shell in the general direction of the Headquarters, fortuitously they all crashed amongst the trees. The trenches were of irregular line and lay east and southeast of the Wood. The parapets were of poor construction and certainly not bullet-proof, the dugouts and traverses were few and in front were a few coils of light wire.
The enemy was 200 yards away to the right and within bombing distance to the left. The right trench was called Pall Mall and the left Whitehall , the 3rd Mons Battalion took over these trenches and began to settle in. Private Reg Pritchard wrote home to his sister:
"It is much worse fighting where we are now to what it was in the last place. One of the chaps out of the same section as I am got wounded in the leg yesterday morning as we were leaving the trenches. One man got killed in our company by a trench mortar shell, he was in the same platoon as Dad"
'Dad' was Sergeant William Pritchard both he and his son Private Reg Pritchard were killed on 2nd May 1915 .
- 8th Apr 1915 Relieved
- 08th Apr 1915 On the March
- 8th Apr 1915 Specialist Courses
- 8th Apr 1915 Under Shellfire
- 8th Apr 1915 Lack of Water
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