Published By John Davies
Bouchavesnes and Moislains. 1 Bn Worcestershire Regiment. 4 March 1917.
On 1 March 1917 the 1 Bn Worcestershire Regiment left Bray sur Somme and marched to Asquith Flats – a complex of dug-outs believed to be near Corlu. The next evening they relieved the 2 Devonshire Regiment in trenches to the north of Bouchavesnes – that night a lone German walked into their lines, he was duly captured. The weather was fair, activity was quiet.
On 4 March the battalion, in conjunction with the 2 Bn Northamptonshire Regiment and 2 Bn Royal Berkshires Regiment were assigned to raid the German trenches. The Worcestershire men had the objectives to capture Pallas Trench, the front line, and Fritz Trench, the second line. The battalion was in the centre with the Northants to their left and the Berkshires to their right. The assault would be lead by A Coy, on the left , with D Coy in the centre and C Coy on the right abreast the Bouchavesnes – Moislains road. B Coy would follow in support. At zero hour, 5.30am, the British guns opened up. This was the signal to start and the men left their trenches advanced under a creeping barrage.
The Worcestershire men easily overran Pallas Trench and then moved on to the second objective, Fritz Trench. Here the resistance was stiffer. An enemy machine gun held up the assault but it was rushed and quickly put out of action and the crew killed. Once at the trench there was a short and desperate bombing fight lasting about 15 minutes when the second objective was taken. A great many Germans were killed, 2 machine guns captured and about 100 prisoners taken. A party of men, in the heat of the battle, then continued and rushed down the slope to Bremen Trench, the third line, here too they bombed dugouts and captured prisoners, however, British shells were falling around them, they had advanced too close to the barrage. Realising they had gone too far, they made their way back to the main body. The men began to consolidate the position in readiness for the inevitable enemy counterattack and soon enemy shells began to fall on the captured positions.
From Fritz Trench there was good observation down towards Moislains, it was an important position and the Germans were determined to recapture it; they soon brought their full weight to bear. Under heavy shelling the battalion worked to consolidate the shattered trenches. Counter attacks were made against the battalions to the left and right of the Worcesters and also on their front. They were able to see German forces grouping near Moislains and brought rapid rifle and Lewis gun fire to bear and the Germans were dispersed and beaten back. Counter attacks and heavy shelling continued and lasted throughout the day accounting for most of the casualties. That evening the battalion was relieved by 2 Bn West Yorkshire Regiment, the relief was carried out under a heavy bombardment. Casualties for the action were Officers 5 KIA, 4 wounded, 1 missing and ORs 44 KIA, 158 wounded, 11 missing.
GOOGLE MAPS Moislains
References and Sources WAR DIARY 1 Bn Worcs Rgt. March 1917. Worcs. Regimental History. Evesham War Memorials
B&O 1917. Somme. Bouchavesnes & Moislains. 1 Bn Worcestershire Regiment. 4 March 1917.