Published By Ben Hillidge
Cambrai. Baupame-Cambrai Road. 7 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. 12 August 1917
At the beginning of August the 7 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry had been at Vélu engaged in training and working parties. On the night of 4/5 August they went up to the front line and relieved the 2 Bn Royal Scots. They went into trenches in front of Boursies on the road between Baupaume and Cambrai. It would be a relatively quiet tour with time spent working to improve and strengthen the trenches. The weather was warm and misty with occasional showers. On 11 August the battalion received orders to send out a patrol to reconnoitre and get intelligence about the enemy lines to their front. Below is a Transcript from 7 Bn KSLI War Diary of the report for the patrol.
REPORT ON PATROL ACCOUNTER (sic) ON THE NIGHT OF 11/12 AUGUST 1917.
On the night of the 11-12 August, a strong Patrol consisting of 2 platoons was sent out with orders to reconnoitre the CRATER (MAP) on the CAMBRAI ROAD and to seize any opportunity that might occur of securing identification.
The Patrol under the command of Second Lieutenant G Hughes and accompanied by Lieutenant AC Hetherington, Battalion Intelligence Officer, left our lines from outpost (B) at about 10.30pm and proceeded to the Trench at (C). One platoon was left in this Trench as a covering party while the remaining platoon under 2/Lt G Hughes advanced towards the CRATER, moving to the north of the CAMBRAI ROAD. At a point estimated about 200yards from this trench at (D) a belt of wire was encountered. 2/Lt G Hughes thereupon halted his platoon in extended order and went forward with some Scouts in order to reconnoitre for a gap in the wire. During this reconnaissance the enemy sent up a Very Light from a Trench at (D). Immediately after a few men left the Trench and came towards the wire. Two of the enemy came up to the Patrol, one of these was bayoneted before he could give the alarm, but in doing so a round was accidentally fired. The other man was thereupon shot. Almost immediately afterwards the enemy opened a heavy fire on the Patrol with rifles, machine guns and trench mortars. It is estimated that 4 MGs and 2 trench mortars were in action, one of the trench mortars was believed to be firing from the CRATER, and the other from a small enemy work at (E) one on the MGs was also firing from the latter point.
The Patrol replied with Lewis Gun and rifle fire, the enemy however were in too great strength to make any further advance possible, and orders were given to withdraw to the trench at (C ).
The Patrol halted at this point for 10 minutes, but as the enemy trench mortar had lengthened his range on to the Trench it was decided to withdraw to the Bank on the Road at (F).
During this retirement a strong party of the enemy was observed advancing towards the left flank of the Patrol. This party did not advance beyond the trench at (C).
While the Patrol was reorganising at the Bank, it was discovered that 2/Lt G Hughes and 2 men were missing. Two search parties were sent back to endeavour to find some trace of the missing men, but were unable to do so.
It was subsequently discovered that 2/Lt G Hughes and 1 man were killed close to the wire where the enemy were first encountered. The remaining man is reported to have been killed during the retirement, but there is no clear evidence regarding this. The Patrol returned to our lines at 3.15am. One Stokes Mortar accompanied the Patrol, and was left with the covering party. This gun did not come into action. It appears that the tripod and some of the ammunition were not brought back.
All identifications were removed before the Patrol went out.
Total Casualties; Killed 2/lt G Hughes, 1 OR; Missing believed killed 1 OR, Wounded 4 ORs,
Signed Lieutenant Colonel Commanding 7 Bn KSLI
The other casualties were –
Private 26391 G King (CWGC) and buried next to Lieutenant Hughes in Anneux British Cemetery.
The missing man was Private 23548 William Henry Poynton (CWGC) of Weston Rhyn and commemorated on Weston Rhyn war memorial and on the Arras Memorial.
GOOGLE MAPS satellite view – centres on the the crossrods where the KSLI men sheltered behind the bank.
GOOGLE MAPS – street view, behind the Bank the KSLI men sheltered behind after withdrawing from the ground to the front
References and Sources 7 Bn KSLI War Diary. History KSLI.
B&O 1917 Somme. Cambrai. 7 Bn KSLI. Baupame-Cambrai Road. 12 Aug 1917