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The Somme 8th October 1916

The Attack On the Quadrilateral by the 3rd Batt. Royal Regiment of Canada Toronto & the 4th Batt. Western Ontario Regiment

 

 

All the sheets on this page are from Le Sars 57 SE. 2 & 57 S.W. 1 corrected to 18/10/1916 and are in secton M. Scale of 1:10,000 or each large square e.g. 14b is 1000 yards square.

Four 1000 yard squares make up a larger square see the large 14 on the map. These four squares are  top left a, top right b, bottom left c & bottom right d.

Each 1000 yard grid is divided into a 10x10 grid.

E.g. the "a" in Farm is at M.14.b.3.2. 

 

 

Le Sars Trench Map Showing the Qudrilateral

Objectives

The Objectives

Attack on a 2 Company frontage with A & D Companies leading the assault. B & C companies to supply support. C Company to follow through A company & B to follow through D Company.

A Company to attack the Regina trench from M.14.b.4.4 to M.14.b.6 3/4. 7 1/2 where they would join up with the 4th Batt. 

D Company to attack the Regina trench from M.14.b.4.4 to M.14.b.0.3 1/2 where they would join up with the 16th Batt. 

C Company to attack German line from M.8 .d. 6 3/4.1 to M14.b.3.7 & place 1 Lewis gun at each of the following Blocks. M.8.4.5.2 & M.8.4.3.0.This meant attacking the Below trench & then attacking the Western end of the Quadrilateral. 

B Company to attack German line from M.14.b.3.7 to M.14.b.0.4.

Here they will consolidate with D Company by digging a trench from M.14.b.4.5 to M.14.b.2 1/2.6. With machine guns placed at M.12.b.2.6 & M.14.b.3 1/2.7. 

Two sections of the battalion Grenadiers were attached to C Company. One to take & hold Block M.8.d.5.2 & the other M.8.d.3.0. 

The other two sections were used to keep the front line supplied with bombs.

Lewis Gun

Weighing over 26lb but could fire 550 .303 rounds per min the Lewis Gun was the standard infantry support weapon during WW1.

Planed Position of Lewes Guns and new Trench

The Attack

The 1st Brigade arrived in Albert on Weds 4th with the 1st Batt. taking over the line on Thurs night.

The 3rd & 4th Batt. took over the line from the 1st Batt. on Sat night the day before the assault on the morning of the 8th. 

The 3rd Batt. attacked in four waves.

1st wave-2 Platoons A Coy, 2 Platoons D Coy.

2nd wave-2 Platoons A Coy, 2 Platoons D Coy.

3rd wave -2 Platoons C Coy, 2 Platoons B Coy.

4th wave- 2 Platoons C Coy, 2 Platoons B Coy. 

A distance of 75 yards separated all waves.

The assaulting Companies A & D formed up 50 yards in front of C & B Companies in the open. C & B companies formed up in a jumping off trench dug just North of the Dyke Road. The Companies were in position at least an hour before the attack. 

The assault started at 04.50am in the dark.

There were a total of 496 men of all ranks in the assault including 15 officers.

A Coy. reached their objective the 1st & 2nd Regina trenches with only 10% loses. Many Germans in these trenches (about 150) surrendered without much fight. 

Two companies then occupied each of the Regina trenches and began to consolidate their position. An attempt was made to join the 2 Regina trenches by digging a trench along the line M.14.b.0.3. All this time they were under heavy shellfire. Many of the 3rd Batt. Bombs were passed over to the 4th Batt. fighting their way along the 1st Below Trench toward the Dyke road. 

A Block was established in the 1st Below Trench at about M.8.d.3.1 and from this point a mixed garrison of 3rd & 4th Batt. men held the 1st Below Trench to M.14.b.7.8. 

Touch was made with the 16th Batt. on the left and the 4th on the right. 

One of the waves of C Company according to Sergt. Smith was down to 6 men out of 40  including himself. Most of these men were lost trying to cross the wire in front of the Below Trench.

Men also took cover in the Regina support Trench that was found to be 2ft wide & 4ft deep and badly knocked about. This again was dug out and consolidated. 

Lieut. Simmie the Batt. Bombing Officer ignoring orders had come forward and established his Block as ordered at M.8.d.3.1/2. He was to have a continuous fight for hours until his Bombs ran out. He kept calling for more Bombs at one point he sent the following message. "Completed Block M.8.d.3.1. Lot of wounded men and some prisoners in Trench. Will be difficult to keep supply of Bombs  if enemy continue to Bomb left flank. 

Simmie was twice wounded and when his supply of Bombs ran out continued to fight on with a rifle. He only retreated when the Germans pushed the 3rd & 4th Westwards along the Regina Trench threatening to cut him & his men off. 

He and his remaining men managed to retire West along the Regina Trench and then back to the jumping off line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 4th Batt.

The 4th Batt. on the right had made the assault with 598 men including 18 officers and suffered only light casualties until they encountered heavy wire in front of the 1st Below Trench. 

The wire proved impassable so they had to work their way left along the wire into the Regina Trench occupied by the 3rd Batt. 

They then had to bomb their way down the Below Trench towards the Dyke Road to meet up with the 23rd on their right. This took around 41/2 hours. 

Once the 4th had control of the 1st Below Trench they were unable to attack the 2nd Below Trench due to the continuous wire in front of it. 

The 1st Below Trench was then consolidated with blocks put on the N.W. & S.E. faces of the Quadrilateral. The 2 Northerly faces of the Quadrilateral were by now badly smashed up. 

The Batt. was then organised into four Companies with A Company on the right.  The Batt. got to work putting up fire steps and gathering up German bombs rifles and S.A.A for future use.

 

The German Counter Attack

At 2.00pm enemy Artillery was reported as Hurricane and at 2.15pm two lines of Germans were seen advancing on the Quadrilateral. The Canadian artillery immediately quickened their fire in response.

At 2.30pm the 3rd & 4th Batt. successfully counter attacked.

However a further very heavy counter attack by the Germans was launched and at 3.27 the Heavy Artillery F.O.O. informed the 1 Division that their men appeared to be out of the Quadrilateral and into the Dyke Road. 

A Company from the 4th Batt. commanded by Major Dymond and accompanied by Major Haddon & Lieut. Jones put in a block 30 yards West of the junction of the 1st Below Trench and the Regina Trench.

They were joined by A Company of the 3rd Batt..

This block was held until the supply of Bombs was exhausted and attemps to hold up the Germans with rifle fire failed. 

Major Haddon together with Majors Bennett & Mowat also from the 4th then attempted a bayonet charge from shell holes on the South side of the Regina Trench.

A few men only went forward cheering, but were at once stopped by the enermy with bombs, machine gun fire and sniping.

The attempt failed and Major Mowat was killed. 

Lieut. Chatterton from the 3rd headed a further 2 unsuccessful bayonet attacks. The first from the North side of the Regina Trench was repulsed and Chatterton was shot through the shoulder. He managed to crawl back to the Trench tied his arm in a sling and then got out of the South side of the Regina Trench. Here he rallied some more men and mounted a second bayonet charge. Chatterton was killed and the bayonet charge was again repulsed. 

An officer of the 3rd Batt. is stated to have shot some of his own men at this point who were in shell holes and could not be induced to counter attack with the bayonet. It was now under the continued fire of machine guns, sniping and Artillery fire that the men gradually drifted back to the original line.

No orders to retire were issued at any time. 

The remnants of the 4th Batt. were bombed down the 1st Below Trench towards Dyke road, a few men getting into shell holes at M.14.b.7.8. 

When the supply of Bombs in the Below trench ran out the remaining men dropped over into Dyke Road under order from an Officer and into the 23rd Division lines. 

This left the right flank of the 16th Batt. in the air so the Artillery was ordered to lay down a protective barrage in front of  Regina Trench extending as far as the Back Rd. The Heavy Artillery was requested to take on the Quadrilateral including those trenches that run from it 200yards all round.  The Lahore Artillery would also be turned on. 

The right of the 16th Batt. was now at 14.b.2.3. 

At 04.30pm arrangements were now being made by General Hughes for a counter attack that night to retain lost ground. 

At 05.00pm it was reported that 3rd & 4th Batt. troops had been driven out of area M.d.8 including the Quadrilateral. 

At 05.21pm the 3rd Division reported that no portions of the Regina Trench were in their possession and that elements of 3 Companies were in shell holes between their front line and Regina Trench. 

At 5.30pm the 3rd Batt. reported that the 69th Bde. were seen retiring and were now back in their jumping off Trench. 

At 06.35pm a message was received from the 3rd Bde. stating that the 16th Batt. was still in Regina Trench. The 3rd Bde. was told that instructions would be issued when General Currie returned from the Canadian Corps, but that most it was most probable no counter attack would take place to night and the men from the 16th Batt. would return back. 

At 07.45pm a message was forwarded to say operations for the 1st Canadian Brigade for tonight had been cancelled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Around 4000 of these were used during the attack.

3rd Batt. Losses From 15 Officers 481 Other Ranks

Cas. Type

Killed

Wounded

Missing

Officers

3

9

1

O/R

31

144

151

  

4th Batt. Losses From 18 Officers 580 Other Ranks

Cas. Type

Killed

Wounded

Missing

 

Officers

--

5 (7)

4

 

O/R

25

190

133

 

Details of Some of the 3rd & 4th Batt. Men Killed or Wounded

I have found the following from the court of enquiry reports.

Lieut. Smith  4th Batt. Died of wounds received in the jumping off trench.

Lieut. Jones 4th Batt. Evacuated sick.

Lieut. Simmie Batt. Bombing Officer Wounded twice while holding his block.

Major Moss C Company Wounded early morning.

Lieut. Mc.Lean C Company wounded going over.

Lieut. Livingstone C Company wounded early morning.

Lieut. Harvey C Company wounded around noon.

Major Chisholm D Company wounded early in fight for Regina trench

Lieut. Chatterton (3rd Batt.CHATTERTON, WILLOUGHBY E.)*  Killed during his 2nd bayonet charge near Regina Trench.

Major Mowat 4th Batt. (MOWAT, JOHN MCDONALD)* Killed during a Bayonet charge from shell holes on the Sth side of Regina Trench.

Captain Anglin wounded early morning.

Lieut. Pike (Pile C.W.)* (CLAUDE WELLINGTON PIKE)** killed going over.

Lieut. McPherson killed whilst his company was falling back.

* Details in brackets form CWGC site. **The Canadian Virtual War Memorial

 

Lieut. Hobday (HOBDAY, STEPHEN GEORGE 3rd Batt.)*        D Company killed by shell fire early morning. 

Lieut. Stephen Hobday 

photo by kind permission of Malcolm Rickson.

 

 

 

 

* Details in brackets form CWGC site. 

 

notes by Stephen Hobday's Grandnephew Malcolm Rickson 

Stephen enlisted on 23 Oct 1914 in Montreal. Despite the fact that it appears to say "23rd Battalion" across these papers he was in fact drafted to the 3rd Battalion - the Toronto Regiment. 

He seems to have gone to France (via England) in 1915 and took part in the Battle of Festubert in the summer of that year.

 In subsequent actions nearby at Givenchy in mid June 1915, he won the DCM. By this time he had been promoted to Corporal ,  

He seems to have been wounded in autumn 1915 (though not seriously) and again (more seriously) on 13 June 1916, as a result of which he was taken back to hospital in England.

 According to a contemporary British press report at the time of his death, Stephen was gazetted Lieutenant on 4 May 1916 and may have been fighting as a platoon officer when he was seriously wounded in June 1916. If so, then the 8 Oct action would not have been his first as an officer. Whatever the case, he had only just returned to the front when he was killed in the action of 8 Oct.

 

Court of Enquiry Finding 11th October 1916

The court of enquiry found "there was no general retirement in this action, but that the 3rd and 4th Battalions were pushed back fighting, after a very severe artillery bombardment by sheer weight of numbers. our lack of bombs, which it appears could not be got up in sufficient numbers, contributing to this effect".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lee Enfield Rifle

Weighing 8lb 3 oz with a 10 round magazine the Lee Enfield was capable of around 15 .303 rounds per min.

Sources

War Diary of the 1st Division General staff Oct 1916

1st Division Court of Enquiry Report 16th October

Court of Enquiry Report 11th Oct 1916

 

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