Published By Ben Hillidge
Polygon Wood. 9 Bn Leicestershire Regiment. 1 October 1917.
During the last week of September 1917 the 9 Bn Leicestershire Regiment had been in camps and billets in the Casetre and Berten areas about 20kms to the rear of Ypres. On 26 September they moved by bus to Micmac Camp near to Poperinghe and were held as Brigade reserve. Three days later they moved to a camp in the forward area and on the night of 30 September relieved troops of 32 Bn Australian Infantry. The Battalion was holding a front between Cameron Covert and Jetty Wood along the eastern side of Polygon Wood, HQ was set up in an old German pill box. The line was a series of shell holes described as ‘mud wallowing in the open air’. Conditions were bad, the weather was cold and wet ‘dreary and miserable’. On 1 October, at 4.00am, all was reported as quiet. However, at 5.25am the enemy put down an intense bombardment on Polygon Wood, Black Watch Corner and Glencorse Wood. The bombardment also included smoke bombs. At 5.27am the enemy attacked, shielded behind the smoke. The battalion managed to hold and drive back the first wave with Lewis machine gun and rifle fire – A Company took the full force of the assault and it was at this time that Captain Lee was killed. A second wave followed soon after and was similarly fought off. At about 5.40am B Coy and 2 Platoons from D Coy counter attacked – during this attack the battalion CO, Lieutenant Colonel P E Bent DSO(CWGC) lead the charge, the enemy were driven from the front line but the Lt. Col. was killed, he was awarded a posthumous VC for his gallantry.
On the battalion front the enemy was held but to their right flank the Germans were making headway. The battalion made moves to defend their flank and to support the defending troops. By about 6.30am the enemy had been driven off but continued shelling causing heavy casualties which required that the line be adjusted and they were withdrawn back about 100yards to the edge of Polygon Wood in the area around Cameron House, this was completed by about 9.30am. Through the rest of the morning reinforcements arrived, new defensive lines were established. Although the shelling continued no further attacks came during the morning – enemy stretcher bearers were seen bringing in wounded men. During the afternoon and evening the attacks renewed but again were held off. The night was quieter. The battalion remained in this position until relieved the following night. The battalion would spend the rest of the month on more tours as the Third Ypres offensive continued. Casualties for the month were KIA 5 officers. 50 ORs, wounded, 7 officers, 213 ORs, missing 38 ORs.
GOOGLE MAPS Satellite view centres on Polygon Wood = Jetty Wood is the group of trees adjoining the right edge of Polygon Wood, Cameron Covert, now gone, occupied the area to the south of the road with the buildings on what was the northern tip of the covert.
References and Sources WAR DIARY 9 Bn Leicestershire Rgt page 69ff
B&O 1917. Third Ypres. Polygon Wood. 9 Bn Leicestershire Regiment. 1 October 1917.