March 1916

3rd Grenadier Guards War Diary

1 Mar 1916 In camp, training. Finished practice trenches for bombing. Lecture by Major General ?Fielding? CHQ Guards Division in which he greatly impressed on all Officers the need for securing the left flank of the British ?away? by making the line from just N of HOOGE safe and defensible. This could only be done by ingenious concealment of new work and unremitting efforts to carry it out. He stated that in the event of a large concentration opposite the YPRES salient a withdrawal would be made to the  line canal – ramparts and such ground as could not be denied to the enemy by artillery fire would be defended by strong points and machine guns concealed in natural features and placed apart from entrenchments or other work. 2 L/Cpls and 6 OR (all trained signallers joined Battalion 1/3/16
2 – 4 Mar 1916 Training. Especially bombing.
5 Mar 1916 Marched to POPERINGHE siding and entrained 6.50 a.m. Reached Calais 12.10 p.m. and marched to Camp BEAUMARIS almost 2 miles E of town.
6 Mar 1916 Training especially in bombing, sniping and ?????.
11 Mar 1916 Competitions were also organised as follows: (1) Inter Battalion football match (2) Inter Battalion ???? ?????? match (3) Signaling match (inter company) (4) Inter Company race (all men to enter) (5) Individual 5 mile raceOn the 11th a most regrettable bomb accident occurred amidst No. 4 Company ***note by transcriber:  whole sentence on edge and faded*** Lt. P ?Haman? Hodge.5 men were killed or died of wounds and 16 men were wounded. The court of enquiry found that no one was to blame, but that the bomb exploded prematurely immediately it left the hand of the thrower. All the men were behind a thick sandbag wall at the time but the moment of explosion caused the effect to be very wide.
11 – Mar 1916 Continued training in good weather on the same lines. The inter company race was won by No.2 Company and the individual 5 mile race proved a great success as 72 started and 30 finished within 10 minutes of the winner. The 1st Bn Scots Guards defeated us in the final of the Bde football cup. We proved victorious in a signalling competition open to Bde.
17 – 19 Mar 1916 On the 18th the Bn entrained at CALAIS and detrained at CASSEL where it marched into comfortable billets at OUDEZEELE. This was a long day for the men as we started at 7 a.m. from CALAIS and did not reach billets until 5 p.m. where the men had ?????. The marching however was admirable. Sheet 28 Belgium 1/40,000
20 Mar 1916 Marched 10 ½ miles to billets at POPERINGHE and came into Divisional Reserve M?????? ???. Billets fair. Very little room for drill a parade. Short route marches were done by companies.
26 March 1916 Entrained at POPERINGHE station and detrained at ASYLUM YPRES. Marched by companies through YPRES into support. Companies were disposed as follows No 2 Company ½ company KAAIE salient ½ company POTISZE defence. Bn H.Q. I.2.d.1.7. in canal bank. No 4 Company PRISON YPRES No 1 in day switch.No 3 Company in billets BOULEVARD MALOW.
The arrangements made for the reserve were as follows – ?Copies? were taken and placed in concealed positions in YPRES, water carts were also taken and all water boiled and passed through them. A small canteen for each company was required to sell beer, at rate of 1 pint per man, ????? a cigarettes, matches, buns, chocolate, soap, sardines, stationary. The men had ?????? ????? was carried on the man, the other brought up by the transport. Special precautions on following ?bends? became necessary.(1) Gas. On the wind becoming favourable for gas the Brigade sent the message ‘GAS ALERT’. All sentries then doubled, sentries are placed on all dug out ?????? of 10 minutes and gas helmets are requested.
(2) Aeroplanes. Careful watch had to be kept for these as the Germans were very active and if any movement is seen on canal bank or the town shelling begins at once.
Map reference hence forward are to
Sheet 28 Belgium 1/40,000
Trench HOOGE and ST JEAN 1/10,000C.O. was on leave at this time and Bn was commanded by Major M.E.M.C. Maitland
26 – 30 Mar 1916 On 29th No 1 Company had three casualties in day and similar number on night of 29/30th.
It will be seen from above that it is difficult during 16 days “in the line” to keep the men fit and impossible to drill them. Sickness showed a slight increase after 10 days of this period but on the whole health was satisfactory.
3 O.R. wounded 27th
3 O.R. wounded 29/30th
30 – 31 Mar 1916 On the afternoon of the 30th we received news that the Scots Guards who we were about to relieve were being very heavily shelled. The fire however slackened about the time of the relief and it was not consequently delayed. The 3 leading companies got into the communication trench (HAYMARKET) without casualties but No 2 came under shrapnel fire through POTISZE and had 7 casualties. The bombardment became intense at this moment on the front line system and on the S end of the “X” line. Communications broke down from Bn H.Q. to all companies and to Brigade. One wire was still kept going to Artillery. The leading two companies who were to hold from DUKE ST to ROULERS railway found the front trenches devastated and being swept by shrapnel and H.E. fired with frontally and in enfilade from PILKEM and the BELLEWARDE ridge. The Scots Guards had had very heavy casualties (90 in all). Communication along this front line was impossible under cover, and they were necessarily somewhat disorganised in consequence as men became cut off from commanders. Many being buried and others who were not casualties covered with mud and debris. The relief was however accomplished but the shelling never slackened until 4 a.m. the following morning.In view of the difficulty of relief and the probability of attack the 3 batteries of 18 pdrs covering on frontage were asked to open a barrage on the German front line. This was done and not lifted till daylight. At 4. a.m. dispositions and situation were as follows. No 4 Company in front line from DUKE ST to A4 (2 platoons) and 2 platoons in support line marked … on sketch map. No 3 Company from A4 to the right. No 2 Company from road to just E of junction of X line and HAYMARKET. No 1 with a gap of 200 yards of thrown in trench in the middle dividing their left half and right half companies. The front line was wrecked, but by placing men in the wreckage and under what cover remained it was found to be defensible and it was hoped the Germans would attack. Men had their ammunition ready cleaned and arrayed and as the distance between trenches is considerable they would certainly have been met with heavy rifle fire.
The X line N of HAYMARKET was practically undamaged but S of X2 nothing was left.
Sketch map Appendix
6 O.R. killed 15 wounded.Capt R. Woolige Gordon ***Wolrige-Gordon*** slightly wounded
31 Mar 1916 Mo movement was possible during day, which was very quiet.

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