Published By John Davies
Battle of Langemark. St Julien. 1/5 Bn Gloucestershire Regiment. 15-18 August 1917.
The 1/5 Bn Gloucestershire Regiment had spent the first half of August in camp around Vlamertinghe were they had been training and preparing for the forthcoming engagement, Battle of Langemarck. A large plan of the ground they would attack over had been set up which they studied and practiced upon.
On 15 August they moved up to their start position in trenches near to St Julien and were deployed with C and A Coys in the lead waves followed by B and D Coys. They would be advancing under cover of a creeping barrage. At Zero hour of 4.45am on 16 August the artillery started and they left their trenches heading towards their first objective of Border House and gun pits to the north and south of the St Julien – Winnipeg road. The objective was soon gained but further advance was held up by enemy machine guns to their front at Janet Farm and from rear. The delay meant that they lost the protection of the creeping barrage which had now lifted. Limited communications between gunners and infantry meant that changes to the plan of attack were difficult to accommodate, gunners would stick to the schedule lifts regardless of how the infantry were progressing often leaving them unprotected with the barrage falling ever more ahead of them. In this instance the battalion had no option but to dig in. The enemy soon launched counter attacks against then which they managed to fight off but there were heavy casualties as the battalion became isolated. Enemy snipers also became active causing more casualties. They remained in the position for the rest of the day until, as darkness fell, the 8 Bn Warwickshire Rgt. came up and dug in about 100 yards to their front, they remained as support troops for the rest of the day until that evening they were withdrawn back to Dambre Camp near to Vlamertinghe. Casualties were 1 officer killed and 1 wounded and 209 other ranks killed, wounded or missing.
GOOGLE MAPS centres on St Julien (Sint Juliaan)
References and Sources War Diary 1/5 Bn Gloucestershire Regiment
B&O 1917. Third Ypres. Battle of Langemark. 1/5 Bn Gloucs. Rgt. 15-18 August 1917.