1918

Place: NOUVEAU MONDE
Date: 01/01/18
Summary of events and information: In rest billets at NOUVEAU MONDE – training.

History of the 35th Division: ‘The year 1918 opened with a divisional assault at Arms, which was held on the 3rd and 4th. The weather was fine and frosty and the meeting was successful.’

Place: ELVERDINGHE
Date: 07/01/18
Summary of events and information: Moved by rail to BRIDGE CAMP, ELVERDINGHE.

Date: 08/01/18
Summary of events and information: Relieved 23rd London Regt, 53rd Division, in support, in LANGEMARCK area. Three men wounded during relief.

History of the 35th Division: ‘The relief was not pleasant. A heavy fall of snow disturbed the arrangements.’ 

A Lancashire Brigade in France: ‘The day we went into the line was bitterly cold, and the whole countryside was covered with snow and ice, but the hard going made the relief comparatively easy. 

‘Unfortunately, a thaw set in almost immediately, and we found ourselves once more under the conditions of mud and water always associated with the salient. 

‘Conditions, however, had changed a good deal since the Houthulst days. The back areas were for the most part deserted, and elaborate duck-board tracks had been laid almost up to the front line posts. 

‘Owing to the state of the ground, even patrolling was difficult, and raids were out of the question. Most of the men were employed on large working parties, making corps lines, deep dug-outs and strong points, which were never used, and which were eventually abandoned after the German offensive in March…’ 

‘The shelling in these days was not severe, and casualties were few. Battalion and Company Headquarters were all in shell-proof pill-boxes, and the majority of men were in broken-down pill-boxes and shelters, which afforded reasonable protection. 

‘Unless one had lived in a pill-box it is difficult to imagine the discomfort which it may entail. It was common to find a commanding officer with the whole of his Battalion staff, including signallers, runners, pigeon flyers, wireless operators and cooks, living in perhaps two or three small rooms, each about 10 feet square.’

Date: 10/01/18
Summary of events and information: Relieved 17th Lancashire Fusiliers in the line. 18th Divn on our left and 18th Lancashire Fusiliers on our right.

Date: 12/01/18
Summary of events and information: Relieved by 17th Lan Fus and moved back to support.

Date: 14/01/18
Summary of events and information: Relieved 17th Lan Fus in line again. One man wounded and another wounded and missing on 15/01/18.

History of the 35th Division: ‘There was a further fall of snow on the 14th. This was followed by two days and nights of heavy rain, after which snow again fell. Needless to say, the Steenbeek immediately rose in flood and washed away the bridges. B/159 Battery was once again flooded, and dead horses were washed down into the gun position. The roads were submerged, and many of the duckboards of the tracks were displaced.’

Date: 16/01/18
Summary of events and information: Relieved by 14th Gloucester Regt, 105th Brigade, and moved back to CANAL BANK – Divisional reserve.

Date: 18/01/18
Summary of events and information: Three companies attached to 255th Tunnelling Company R.E.

Date: 21/01/18
Summary of events and information: Three companies returned from Tunnelling Company. Battn. H.Q. and three companies moved to CALIFORNIA TRENCH (C 22 b & d, Sheet 28 N.W.) and one company to IRISH FARM (C 27 a).

Date: 24/01/18
Summary of events and information: Relieved 14th Gloucester Regt in support.

Date: 26/01/18
Summary of events and information: Relieved by 17th Lan Fus in the line. 18th Lan Fus on our right, and 18th Division on our left.

Date: 27/01/18
Summary of events and information: One of our posts rushed by the enemy at about 6 a.m., in a thick mist. One N.C.O. and three men taken prisoners. One man escaped as a result of Lewis gun being opened on the party from the next post. One officer and two other ranks wounded by machine gun fire while wiring the support line.

The History of the 35th Division details: ‘Under cover of a thick fog, a party of about twenty of the enemy crept up and rushed the post from the rear. They succeeded in capturing a sergeant and 3 men. On leaving, the party was fired at by the adjacent post and one of the prisoners escaped; the others however were carried off. It would appear that the enemy parties traversed some distance before making raids, as patrols had difficulty in locating hostile posts.’

Date: 28/01/18
Summary of events and information: Relieved by 17th Lan Fus.

Date: 30/01/18
Summary of events and information: Relieved the 17th Lan Fus in the line. 32nd Division on our left and 18th Lan Fus on our right. Two men wounded (gas shell) while wiring Corps line.

[Signed off by] G. W. Miller, Capt. & Adjt. 23rd W. Bn. Manchester Regt.

Date: 01/02/18
Summary of events and information: Relieved in the line, immediately south of the YPRES-STADEN Railway, by 14th Gloucesters, 105 Brigade, and returned to Divn Reserve at KEMPTON PARK.

Date: 01/02/18 – 07/02/18
Summary of events and information: Official information received that the Battn was to be disbanded, owing to the re-organisation of Infantry Brigades.

History of the 35th Division: ‘At this time a change took place in the organisation of the forces. Under instruction from the Army Council divisions were changed from a 13 battalion to a 10 battalion basis and this necessitated the breaking of many ties of mutual admiration and friendship which bound together units which had been fighting side by side for years.’ 

A Lancashire Brigade in France: ‘It was with a feeling of intense regret that we finally had to take leave of two battalions who had played such a conspicuous part throughout the career of the Brigade in France.’

Place: KEMPTON PARK
Date: 04/02/18
Summary of events and information: Instructions received that the Battn was to send reinforcements to other Battalions of the Manchester Regiment, as follows: –

2nd Bn                   7 officers and 150 other ranks
11th Bn                 12 officers and 250 other ranks
12th Bn                 12 officers and 230 other ranks

Date: 06/02/18
Summary of events and information: Party left for 2nd Bn Manchester Regt.

Place: “G” CAMP (A.16. central)
Date: 07/02/18
Summary of events and information: Battn moved to G Camp, A.16. central (Sheet 28)

Date: 11/02/18
Summary of events and information: Parties left for 11th and 12th Bn Manchester Regt, entraining at POPERINGHE STATION.

Date: 15/02/18
Summary of events and information: Regimental Transport proceed by road to join 45th Infantry Brigade, 15th Division.

Date: 16/02/18
Summary of events and information: The “surplus”, comprising Battn H.Q. Warrant Officers and CQMS, together with 21 Battn signallers, moved by lorry to “Surplus Wing, II Corps Reinforcement Camp”, near MERCKEGHEM, A.22.c.3.o (Sheet 27)

Date: 17/02/18
Summary of events and information: Orders received for the formation of “Entrenching Battns”.

Date: 20/02/18
Summary of events and information: New unit, known as “12 Entrenching Battn”, formed and ready for work, under the command of Lieut-Colonel L.M. Stevens DSO, and to which all surplus personnel of 23rd Manchester Regt were posted, with the exception of all Company Sergeant Major and Company Quartermaster Sergeants, who came under the command of II Corps surplus wing and who were subsequently sent to the Base Depot of the “Manchester Regiment”.

[Signed off by]
L. M. Stevens Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding 23rd Service Batt Manchester Regt