Published By John Davies
Rancourt. 19 Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers. 15 February 1917
Between the 1-9 February 1917 19 Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers was at Camp 12 at Bois Celestine in the rear area south of Albert. On 10 February they marched to Suzanne and the next day proceeded to Maurepas by motor bus and then marched to Rancourt. At Rancourt they went into the front line and relieved the 2 Bn Lincolnshire Regiment. The relief was uneventful and was completed by 9.00pm. It was a cold frosty night. They would spend the next 4 days at the front. On the first day British heavy artillery opened up at 9.30am to bombard enemy positions to the south of St Pierre Vast Wood and kept up well into the afternoon. In the early evening the German guns opened up a retaliatory bombardment, the British guns replied until at 7.45pm the shelling on both sides ceased. Early in the morning of 13 February the British guns began again which brought more retaliatory fire from the Germans. This time the exchange lasted a few hours and stopped at 7.00am. For both days there were no casualties and little damage was done to the trenches.
The 14 February was quiet, only intermittent shelling and machine gun fire. On 15 February, at about 9.00am. the enemy guns started up again. This time they were on target, hitting the battalion’s trenches, there were 3 men wounded. The British guns fired back ‘with obvious good effect as many wounded were seen being taken out of the trenches’(War Dairy). Things quietened down until about 4.0pm when the British guns recommenced, accompanied by machine gun fire. This lasted about half an hour. Shortly afterwards the Germans began returning firing, this time hitting the trenches to the right of the battalion front. Casualties were 1 NCO KIA (Corporal, 10910 Jack Roberts) and 5 ORs wounded. That night the battalion was relieved and moved back into the reserve lines at Maurepas
GOOGLE MAPS – Satellite view – centres on the right front of trench sector held by 19 Bn RWF, Rancourt, Somme, February 1917.
References and Sources War DIARY 19 Bn RWF
B&O 1917. Somme. Rancourt. 19 Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers. 15 February 1917.