Published By Ben Hillidge
Polygon Wood. 7 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. 26 September 1917
The 7 Bn KSLI had spent the first 3 weeks of September undergoing training for the forthcoming Battle of Polygon Wood. They spent their time practicing the attack plan as well musketry firing on the rifle ranges. There was also a brigade football tournament, the battalion beat the 142 Field Ambulance 6 – 1 in the semi final but lost 2 – 0 to 1 BN Royal Scots Fusiliers in the final. Officers were treated to a lecture on how to attach a message to a pigeon. On 15 September they moved nearer to the forward area into billets and camp at Watou and Brandhoek spending the next days training. On 24 September they marched to Toronto Camp where they collected the stores and equipment needed for the attack. The next day, 25 September, they went by light railway up to Ypres and then marched up to their assembly positions.
The Brigade was to the north of the Ypres–Roulers railway. The battalion was to be in the second wave in support of the 8 Bn East Yorkshires on the left of the brigade front. The attack went ahead at 5.30am. with a creeping barrage. Mist covered the battleground. The first objective was the enemy front line, this was quickly taken by the East Yorks. The KSLI men went over at 5.50am. Crossing boggy ground around the Zonnebeke stream, and passed through the East Yorks. to attack the second line on the slope of Hill 40. The War Diary records – ‘…obtained objectives. Severe fighting ensued’. They captured 70 prisoners, 8 machine guns and a 77mm gun. They consolidated the gains, set up defensive flanks and waited for the inevitable counter attacks. The first counter attack came at 2.30pm, it was fought off, a second and stronger came at 6.30pm, also repelled. They remained in position for the next day, 27 September, until they were relieved the following night. They went back to Ypres. Casualties for the engagement were 5 officers killed and 1 wounded, other ranks 36 killed, 237 wounded and 27 missing.
GOOGLE MAPS Satellite view centres on Hill 40
References and Sources WAR DIARY 7Bn KSLI page 115. History KSLI.
B&O 1917, Third Ypres. Polygon Wood. 7 Bn KSLI. 26-28 September 1917.