Published By Ben Hillidge
Ypres Salient. 3 Bn Middlesex Regiment. 7-10 February 1915.
At the outbreak of war 3 Bn Middlesex Regiment was in India. They returned to the UK arriving in December 1914 and went over to France arrived in January 1915. In February 1915 the battalion was in camp at Fletre near to Balliel and on 2 February marched to Reningelst not far from Ypres. Late on the 5 February orders were received to move to Ypres, they arrived there at 2am and went into cavalry barracks. The men were in good spirits but were tired. The next day, 7 February, at 4pm, they moved up to the front line for their first tour in the trenches. They took over the line from 2 Bn King’s Own. That night the Battalion c/o inspected the trenches and found all correct. They found that the trench telephone was broken and all communication had to be done by runners at night, during daytime it was impossible to leave the trenches. The weather was cold and wet.
All companies reported steady enemy sniping especially on D Coy’s front. There were also reports of ‘sapping’ by the enemy – digging trenches out into no man’s line preliminary to an attack. By early evening the firing on D Coy’s front had become so bad that they asked for an artillery bombardment. Later during the evening the battalion C/O came up to assess the situation. He ordered reinforcements to D Coy’s position. Also, D Coy was redeployed, the firing line, by now badly damaged and under fire, was to be lightly manned while the main body would move back to the second line. The C/O also ordered that the position be held at all cost. This was early on the morning of 10 February. The battalion had been due to be relieved but because of the uncertain situation they were to remain at the front. Conditions in the trenches were miserable, some men were standing knee deep in cold muddy water. The mud also clogged their rifles making it impossible to return fire – in one section only 2 of 25 rifles were serviceable. Throughout the day the enemy rifle fire and sniping continued, a suppressing artillery bombardment bringing some much needed respite. There was a steady flow of casualties, many having great difficulty evacuating the front line. The battaliom remained in the line until 11pm when they were relieved. Casualties for the four days were 1 officer, 28 ORs KIA, 2 officers and 56 ORs wounded. There were also many men with frostbite – only 220 men of the battalion were fit for duty.
War Diary 3Bn Middlesex
B&O 1915 Ypres. (Place) 3 Bn Middlesex Regiment. 7-10 February 1915.