1/4th Battalion (TF) – The Gordon Highlanders

Diary of the 16th June 1915

2 am. Dawn broke on a very quiet morning. There was considerable mist.

3 am. The artillery bombardment commenced on Y wood at 2:50am. The ranging was very accurate.  The bombardment almost ceased for 15 minutes between 3:30 and 3:45 then it commenced again. The mist had to some extent cleared but was still thick in the hollows.  This combined with the great smoke made observation difficult.

Bombardment heavier and fairly accurate. It ceased at 4:15am.  The 7th Brigade then advanced to attack.  They had little difficulty capturing the first line of German trenches then very little could be seen of the advance.

4 am. Fairly quiet. Germans were firing a few shells – mostly shrapnel.

Verbal orders from Brigadier General afterwards confirmed, to send a company to Y wood with shovels. They were to occupy a portion of German trenches captured in the morning. At 10:30 D Coy advanced to K wood undergoing heavy shelling from shrapnel. No room could be found in Y Wood all the trenches being occupied and more men coming pouring back being driven back by German bombs.

7-10 am

Shrapnel and machine gun fire in Y wood

10 am

D Coy dig themselves in, in Y wood having failed to discover any trench unoccupied by out men or any means of working. There was considerable confusion and no orders could be got of any sort.

Severe bombardment of Y wood lasting for ¾ of an hour. The shelling continued during the afternoon and evening. All trenches were severely shelled

11 am.Shelling slackens slightly. Message received from Brigade that 42nd Brigade would attack and attain original objective.  This to be started later.

12 Noon. 42nd Brigade arrive in our front line trenches but unable to advance further because of heavy German shellfire.  They also suffered from German GAS shells. The Battalion crowded into our fire trench.

Trenches in Y Wood visited with a view to moving two companies there to support D Coy.  These trenches were found however to be very much congested with 42 Brigade and no move was made.

1 pm.

German shelling very fierce for 1 hr especially at Y wood. 42 Brigade withdrew to Ypres

Shelling slackens considerable. Fair number of “ GAS” shells

2 pm.

Only occasional German shells.

Quiet

3 pm.

A few shrapnel and gas shells falling

4 pm. Collection of wounded. Received orders that the Batt was to go with the Brigade reserve at GHQ line. D Coy. relieved in Y Wood at midnight.

Casualties: Major G A Smith, Lieut. DSP Douglas, Lieut. J A  Clarke and 2/Lt D Pratt all wounded.  7 men killed, 46 wounded 1 missing

Kind permission of Chris McDonald