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16th December 1916 - The Great War, Day by Day - The Wartime Memories Project

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The Wartime Memories Project - The Great War - Day by Day

16th December 1916

On this day:

  • 33rd Battalion AIF Intelligence Summary up to 6 am 16th December 1916    33rd Battalion AIF up to 6 am 16th December 1916
    Right (1) Sub Sector
    Intelligence Summary

    Our operations: Artillery: I-10–2 heard (?) at 8 pm two minutes 10 seconds. Shelled railway salient at 9:30 pm with shrapnel. Fired one salvo at 12 midnight on target in rear of enemy firing line. Fired six shots over 2-10–6 on to enemy support line.
    Vickers guns: Fired during night on targets in the rear of enemy position.
    Lewis guns: Fired on an enemy patrol - strength not known – which was moving in front of left Co. wire. Otherwise quiet. 1 gun put out of action by split cartridge case jamming in trench. Replaced from reserve.

    Patrols: At 6 pm patrol left strong point at left can left-centre of A gap. They patrolled towards enemy lines moving towards the left. At 7 pm a noise was heard on our wire almost directly in front of where they went out. 10 minutes later it was heard again. One of the men coughed, there was a rustling sound then quietness. A short time after this, not long enough to allow anyone to reach the hostile lines 12 very lights were sent up by him in quick succession. Patrol returned at 8:15 by the same route as it went out. Otherwise patrols report very everything quiet on front I -16–4 and I – 10–1 during night. A patrol left the north of mushrooms salient at 5:35 to examine no mans land returned at 5:50 and reported an enemy patrol inside our wire. Lewis gun fired in its direction. Patrol went out again and reported talking closer. Two verey lights were fired by us but could not see patrol. Lewis gun again fired. Patrol left same place 645 to reconnoitre in front of wiring party to north of mushroom. Return 730 reporting no enemy seen.

    Patrol from left of mushroom 9 pm returned 1050 reconnoitred no mans land reported enemy working party on his wire in front of C Post but could not fire on them on account of patrol from B Co. being out. Patrol went out from I-10-D- 9.5–7 worked to the fourth, then returned by same route reported having been fired on by machine gun in old disused trench in no mans land at about I-11–c-2.5–95. This is doubtful however, as it was probably the gun in the railway salient firing. They also report enemy were opposite I-10–3 very strong. The above machine gun killed one man in a party covering our wiring party at about 10:30 pm. Otherwise nothing to report on frontage I-10–2 to I-10–3.

    On front I-10–4 – I-10–5 patrols went out from 5:30 pm. These returning up to 10:15 pm reported all quiet. Patel left C Post at 10:15 reported having seen a hostile patrol in no mans land at 11:15 pm. Did not succeed in getting in touch with them. Patrols from 12 midnight onwards had nothing of note to report.

    Frontage: I-10–6 – I-10–7 Patrols from 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm report all quiet. Patrol left I-10–6 at 9:35 and after moving out 100' heard an enemy patrol in front. Lewis guns open fire and two Verey lights were fired but no patrols seen. Patrol then proceeded and worked towards the north. They returned at 11:30 but had nothing further to report. Patrol left I-10–6 at 11:30 and patrolled enemy wire opposite. They found it in fairly good condition. Patrols from then onwards report all quiet. Enemy operations: Enemy artillery: for most part quiet all day. They fired a few about 10 rifle grenades which fell short of the parapet in front of I-10–1 some of which were duds. A 77 mm fired on left centre Co. about I-10-B-8-4 at 11:45. Fired 11 rounds apparently at working party. The gun was firing from about a bearing of 1040 from I-10-d-9.5–2.5. Enemy fired some light trench mortar at Central Avenue at about 10 am without result. At about 1.45 to 2.45 enemy fired six rounds 77 mm HE from same gun as above at same place. No damage done.

    Machine guns: Gun above reported to be in No mans land reported by covered ground in front of C gap and traversed our parapet. Gun in railway salient fired frequently during the night apparently over our firing line at target in rear. New gun heard near railway salient particulars later. Machine gun opposite B post very troublesome during night wounding one man. It is believed to be behind the front line in the support line. In front of I-10–6 & 7 machine guns were quieter than usual.

    Enemy defences: No new work observed.

    Enemy movement: Enemy can be seen just after daylight with a telescope moving along communication trench about I -11-C-6–8 showing head and shoulders. He cannot be seen during the day. He is wearing leather waistcoats similar to those issued to our troops also round blue caps. Communications: Enemy fired many verey lights during the night. During the evening bombardment of our support and communication trenches at 12:35 pm. Two lights were observed in Armentières. These lights appeared at intervals during the enemy bombardment but disappeared as soon as the bombardment closed. They were observed for about 15 minutes. The bearing of these lights from La Petite Porte Farm was 312° and 315° magnetic and were in high buildings.

    Aircraft: Enemy observation balloon was up for a very short time early in the morning well back and some distance to the left of the Battalion position well in rear.

    Miscellaneous: On14th instant enemy registered his own wire south of railway salient with 77 mm. Enemy frequently bombed his own wire during the night. Transport heard behind enemy line all night. Enemy fired a number of rifle grenades during the day over I-10–6 – I-10-7 most of which burst in the air harmlessly. A number of rifle grenades were fired from our position I-10-6 which appeared to land within enemy trenches.

    33rd Btn Australian Imperial Force War Diary

  • Enemy Artillery Active   236th London Brigade Royal Field Artillery report the enemy artillery was fairly active on our back area. Snipers were busy on both sides. D236 Battery fired one hundred and six rounds at 1530 in cooperation with Scheme of Division on our right (47th). Aeroplanes were active on both sides.

    War Diaries

  • 33rd Bn AIF use Stokes mortars   cf Intelligence Summary attached dated 16 /12/1916. System of a man when challenged answering by giving his own name instead of his unit or a password adopted throughout the Battalion. Stokes mortars found effective for dispersing working parties at night on enemy wire. Stokes guns placed at disposal of O.C.Co for this purpose to be ordered to fire 12 shots at any time required.

    33rd Btn Australian Imperial Force War Diary, La Chapelle-d'Armentières, Right (1) Sub Sector

  • 33rd Battalion AIF Intelligence Report No.12    Intelligence Report No.12
    33rd Battalion AIE, Chapelle d'Armentieres, Right (1) Subsector
    Period 6 am 16/12/1916 to 6 am 17/12/1916

    Our operations

    1. Our Artillery:
    1:45 PM as arranged our medium trench mortar covered by artillery fire bombarded enemy wire and trenches with apparently good results. A number of our 18 lbs shells were duds. Enemy wire in front of I-10–1 greatly damaged. I-10–2 1 round test three minutes seven seconds. Our Artillery light trench mortar bombarded enemy front line in front of the south of mushroom with 17 shells. Shells on lift appeared to fall short. Two salvos of N.P. rifle grenades fired from I-10–4 into enemy front line during night. Also nine grenades from I – 10–6. Five of the latter landed in anyway front line and two in his wire. Artillery made a large crack in enemy parapet at I-11-C- 6–6.

    2. Machine guns: our machine guns fired indirectly on enemy communications last night.
    Lewis guns: in good order fired very little during night.

    3. Patrols: 1 NCO and six men left A gap at 8 pm returning same way at 10 pm. They went forward along ditch to within 50 feet of enemy wire. At this time D Co. light trench mortars started to bombard mushroom and enemy fired a great number of verey lights. 2 machine guns opened on left and right front of patrol at distance of 150 feet apart. It would appear as if there were a gap between these two guns from I-16–B–7-6 to I-16–B- 9–2 as no movement was heard and no shots fired from this sector while patrol was out.

    Another patrol went out from same place at 1 am. Our wire here is weak. 10 foot from our wire they struck a track leading right into enemy line which seemed to be well worn. They followed this track to within 70 yards of enemy wire when enemy fired some verey lights. His wire here is very strong. There are about nine shell holes along this track - the largest would hold five men. Track runs from about I-16–B-4–6 to I-16–B-9–2. Patrol returned by this track at 8:10 am.

    A patrol left work end of mushroom chord to examine enemy wire at 5 pm returning at 7:15 pm reported that the enemy wire has been considerably cut about by shellfire since last examined. Several gaps being noticed. Saw no enemy but heard working party in trench.

    A patrol from the same point at 10 pm reported seeing an enemy patrol returning towards their gap. Returned 11 pm. The battalion front otherwise was patrolled continuously all night. Patrols report all quiet, no enemy encountered. Enemy was exceptionally quiet during the night.

    Enemy operations

    1. Artilery: Enemy retaliated to our bombardment at 1:45 with 5 minenwerfer shells. One landed some distance behind the parapet of I–10-1. Two landed in B post wrecking a firebay and two were duds. All seems to be directed towards the medium trench mortar emplacements. Enemy also fired a few rifle grenades into this locality during the day. No casualties resulted from this retaliation. Enemy fired 6–5.9 shells into our parapet at C Post but did no damage. At 2 pm he put over 11 minenwerfer shells all but two of which fell short of our wire. These two did considerable damage to our wire which has since been repaired. Two shells were duds. This occurred at No.3 locality and the shells appeared to come from opposite I-10-7. Light trench mortar fired four shots between fire trench and support line at I-10-4 doing no damage. Enemy fired three minenwerfer shells into our wire opposite I-10–6 at 1:55 pm. He also fired 12 rifle grenades into this locality at this time all of which landed between our front and support lines doing no damage.

    Machine guns: enemy machine guns active during the night along the front but on the whole were quieter than usual.

    2. Enemy defences: our Artillery considerably damaged the parapet of enemy trenches and also his wire. Enemy working parties seen working in his front line opposite No. 3 locality during the day. No new work observed. Enemy wire considerably damaged by our artillery fire at 1:45 pm.

    Communications: bright light in Armentières referred to yesterday again appeared from 12: 5 pm to 12:10 pm just after the enemy had started to bombard our position. This light appears to come from ???

    Aircraft: at 8 am enemy plane passed overhead at a great height. At 11 am two of our planes appeared overhead.

    Miscellaneous: enemy wearing spiked helmets observed opposite I-10–7. Also some wearing steel helmets somewhat resembling ours except that the crown seems to be higher. Some weight-bearing round blue caps. A number were wearing cap comforters. Immediately in front of I-10-7 at about 10:30 am at about 1000 feet a number of men were observed working among the timber digging and clearing with what appeared to be a large bell book. The men, who were wearing blue uniform, and round flat topped caps, appeared to be of fine physique. At about 4 pm a man wearing a heavily braided cap looked over the enemy parapet opposite I-10-6. A shot was fired at him but the result could not be observed owing to the bad light. He put his head down and it did not reappear.

    Sniping: snipers claim five hits today. On 15/12/1916 snipers claim three hits. Men take a great interest in the periscope rifle.

    Wind: S.SW. all day at less than 4 mph. Enemy opposite A Gap oberved to be ? new sandbag something with a sand bag on the end of the stick.

    Enemy bombed his own wired during the night. He used many verey lights.

    33rd Btn Australian Imperial Force War Diary

  • 33rd Battalion AIF Operation order number No. 4     Secret.
    33rd Battalion, A.I.F.
    Operation order number No. 4
    Lt. Col LJ Morshead,
    Reference map. Sheet 36 N.W. 1/20,000.
    Battalion headquarters, 16th December, 1916.

    1. The 33rd Battalion will be relieved by 35th Battalion commencing at 8 am on 17th December, the 33rd Battalion will move into billets and become "D" Battalion.

    Advance parties.
    2. In accordance with Third Australian Divisional Trench Standing Orders, para 4, specialists will move into front line on 16th inst.

    Billeting parties.
    3. Billeting parties of one officer and one NCO per platoon will proceed to "D" Battalion billets on 16th inst. to arrange billets for their companies.

    4. Four guides per Company (billeting party) will report to Lieut. WJC Duncan at Square Farm at 9 am to guide companies from trenches to billets.

    Handing over.
    5. Officers commanding Companies will hand over and obtain duplicate receipts for all trench stores, defence schemes, logbooks, aeroplane photos, maps, plans and other useful information, and forward these to Battalion headquarters immediately they have handed over. Code books are now a regimental issue and will not be handed over. RSM will obtain duplicate receipt for Battalion stores and hand it to Adjutant.

    Tables of times and routes.
    6. (1) In coming Battalion (35th Battalion AIF).
    C (left flank) 7.37 am Fire Trench Port Egale Avenue
    A (right flank) 7.51 am Fire Trench Lothian Avenue
    C 8.5 am Support Trench Port Egale Avenue
    A 8.10 am Support Trench Lothian Avenue
    B (Left centre) 8.33 am Fire Trench Port Egale Avenue
    D (Right centre) 8.47 am Fire Trench Lothian Avenue
    B 9.1 am Support Trench Port Egale Avenue
    D 9.45 am Support Trench Lothian Avenue
    C 12.30 pm Subsidiary Trench Port Egale Avenue
    A 12.44 pm Subsidiary Trench Lothian Avenue
    C 12.52 pm Subsidiary Trench Port Egale Avenue
    A 1.12pm Subsidary Trench Lothian Avenue
    B 1.26 pm Subsidiary Trench Port Egale Avenue
    D 1.40 pm Subsidiary Trench Lothian Avenue
    B 1.54 pm Subsidiary Trench Port Egale Avenue
    D 2.6 pm Subsidiary Trench Lothian Avenue
    Bn Bombers 5.30 pm Subsidiary Trench Lothian Avenue
    Bn Scouts 5.44 pm Subsidiary Trench Lothian Avenue

    (2) 33rd Battalion, A.I.F. The platoons it firing line and support trenches will be ready to move outat 10:15 am and clear Railway Crossing at 1.2.c.4.7. near gum boots store by 12 noon. Platoons in subsidiary line will be moved out as soon as relieved.

    (3) Company specialists. Company specialists, including Lewis gunners, bombers, stretcher bearers, sappers, salvage men, sanitary men and cooks will be relieved their respective companies.

    (4) Headquarters Specialist. The relief of headquarters and attached specialists, i.e. Lewis gunners, bombers, scouts and snipers will commence on 16th inst. and be completed on 17th inst. They will remain in subsidiary line until they are completely relieved when they will move to billets, on 17th inst.

    Method of relief
    7 (1) All ranks will be at their alarm stations during the relief.
    (2) One platoon of each relieving Company will be posted to the firing line, one to support line and 2 to Subsidiary line.
    (3) No platoon will move out until the whole of the relieving platoon is actually in position. The men in the firing line being relieved will stand on the fire step and as soon as relieving units are in position they will change places, i.e. 35th Battalion will mount fire steps and 33rd Battalion the trench walks.
    (4) Platoon commanders will report to their Company commanders when this is done, and orders will then be given to file out.

    8. Every precaution must be taken against hostile observation both aerial and from ground level. Troops will move in parties not larger than sections at two minute intervals south-east of the Armentières-Nouvel Houplines railway line.

    March to billets
    9 (1) Platoons on relief will proceed as in sub-section 2, para 6, moving in parties not larger than sections at 2 minutes intervals, C. Co. Leading. D and B Co.s will proceed to billets on relief.
    (2) Guides detailed in para 4 will meet outgoing parties at Chapelle Armentières Railway Crossing (I.1.d.45.90) and conduct them to billets in Armentières.

    Distribution of details
    10 Specialists and headquarters details will be attached as follows:

    A Co. Bombing platoon and HQ Lewis gunners
    B Co. Signallers,
    C Co. Pioneers and sniping platoon, Scouts.
    D Co. AMC (Australian Medical Corps) and band.

    (11) Company commanders will remain in command of their sub-sections until their units are completely relieved on 17th inst.

    Lewis guns
    (12). Lewis guns and equipment will be placed in Square Farm by 3 pm. The transport officer will arrange to collect these at 5 pm on 17th inst.

    (13) Trench kits, mess gear and all stores other than trench stores will be dumped at Square Farm by 3:30 pm. The transport officer will arrange to collect these at 5 pm on 17th inst. This officer will also see that officers kits are left at their billets and that Companies are informed of sites of water carts.

    Gum Boots
    (14) These must not be taken beyond the Gum Boot store at I.2.a. If handed over to incoming Battalion, receipt must be taken and this should also be obtained for boots returned to store. "A" Co. will detail a reliable NCO to check boots handed into store. He will report to Battalion HQ for instructions at 9 am on 17th inst.

    (15) The Battalion police under Cpl Hewitt will guard all stores and Lewis guns in Square Farm and will assist in loading these on to transport after which they will report to Battalion HQ in Armentières.

    17 (1) On completion of relief and before they leave front line Company commanders will wire "complied with" to Battalion headquarters.
    (2) When their commands are settled in billets, Company commanders will so inform Battalion HQ in Armentières by runner.

    (Signed) RC Jones S/Lieut.
    Adjutant, 33rd Battalion A.I.F.

    Copy No. 1 to 9th Inf.Brigade
    2 - CO
    3 - Second in command
    4 - Adjutant
    5 - A Co.
    6 - B. Co.
    7 - C. Co.
    8 - D. Co.
    9 - Lewis gun officer
    10 - Signalling officer
    11 - Scout Officer
    12 - Sniping officer
    13 - Bombing officer
    14 - Billeting officer
    15 - Regimental Medical Officer
    16 - Transport officer
    17 - Quarter Master
    18 - 35th Battalion AIF
    19 - Office in charge Light trench mortar battery
    20 - Officer in charge night Machine Gun Co.
    21 - File
    22 - War Diary

    33rd Btn Australian Imperial Force War Diary

  • 33rd Battalion AIF Routine Order No.137   NOT TO BE TAKEN IN FRONT LINE TRENCHES
      33rd BATTALION A.I.F.
    Lieutenant-Colonel LJ Morshead,
      Chappelle d'Armentières, 16th December, 1916

      INSPECTION 1327
      Lieut-General Birdwood will visit Armentieres on Sunday 17th inst. and may visit Subsidiary Line.  Platoons when relieved must be moved to billets as expeditiously as possible and all ranks are warned to be smart and orderly during the whole of relief operations.  Special stress must be laid on saluting.  

    STATE OF WIRE 1328
      Company Commanders will prepare and submit to Battalion Headquarters by 10 am on 17th inst. a report on the amount of work done on the wire on their front during the present tour of duty, giving as much detail as possible.

      DIET SHEETS 1329
      Diet sheets must be kept in all cook houses and it is important that close attention should be given to these by Company Commanders and the Senior Major.

      SALVAGE DUMP 1330
      A salvage dump has been established at Square Farm near Fockaber's Dump.  All salved articles should be placed there.  

      DUTY CO 1331
      17-12-16 A. Co.
      18-12-16 B. Co.

      Captain of the week: Capt. CH Linklater
    Subaltern of the day: 2/Lt. CF Kirby
      Next for duty: Lt AG Farleigh
      Regimental Orderly Sergeant:  Sgt AE Walker
      Next for duty:  Sgt TW Rourke
      Regimental Orderly Corporal: Cpl. GA Cawkwell
      Next for duty: Cpl. G Richardson

      GUARDS 1333
      On return to billets each Company will mount a guard consisting of 1 NCO and 3 men over Company Headquarters and duty Co. will mount similar guard over Battalion Headquarters. These guards will be changed daily at 5 pm.

      PRIMUS STOVES 1334
      A and B Co. will return one Primus stove to Battalion Headquarters by 8 am on 17th inst.

      PROMOTIONS 1335
      The following promotions have been approved:

    No.715, L/Sgt. BWA Budden to be Sgt vice Carter (killed in action)
    No. 769, Cpl.F Flick to be L/Sgt. vice Budden promoted
      No. 2043, L/Cpl. W Casey to be Cpl. vice Flick promoted
      No. 240, Pte.J Reid to be L/Cpl. vice Casey promoted

      (Signed) RC Jones  2/Lt.
      Adjutant. 33rd Battalion A.I.F

    33rd Btn Australian Imperial Force War Diary

  • 16th December 1916 Ongoing training

  •    SAILLY

    Wet & dull. Enemy fairly quiet. Shell hit left front Coy HQ – Capt. PHORSON & 2Lt BUSBY killed – 2Lt LEAN wounded. 2Lt WAGGOTT took temporary command of.

    The National Archives Reference WO95/2361/1

  • 16th Dec 1916 On Leave

  • 16th Dec 1916 On the March

  • 16th Dec 1916 Cold and Raining

  • 16th December 1916 A Green Light

  • 16th of December 1916 Mist and Quiet

  • 19th Dec 1916 Ship Lost

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  • Pte. Fred A. Hobart. 5685 Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 1/8th Btn. Read their Story.
  • Cpl. William Meehan. Royal Irish Regiment 6th Btn. Read their Story.
  • L/Cpl. William Meehan. Royal Irish Regiment 6th Btn. Read their Story.
  • Pte. Simon Parratt. Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Kings Own Yo 6th Battalion Read their Story.
  • Pte. Walter Rogers. Durham Light Infantry 18th Btn. Read their Story.

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