Published By Ben Hillidge
Bethune. Locon, Mesplaux Farm. 1/10 Bn King’s Liverpool Regiment. 9-11 April 1918.
During Operation Georgette, Kaiser Offensive the 1/10 BN King’s Liverpool Regiment were in action near to Le Hamel and Gorre about 5km east of Bethune. The 1/10 Bn KLR War Diary contains a number of reports covering 9-11 April 1918. These are written by NCOs and officers. The following is a transcript of the report submitted by CSM JAS Briggs, Z Company. On the 8 April the battalion was in billets at Mesplaux Farm and Le Hamel near to Locon – CSM of Z Coy, JAS Briggs takes up the story.
‘At about 3.30am on the morning of April 9th I was awakened by the explosion of large high explosive shells which seemed to be dropping a good sight nearer the farm (Mesplaux Farm Map A) than they ever dropped before. I just hopped downstairs and found the yard in a state of excitement, and could hear a well known phrase coming form the direction of the Orderly Room “Stand to”. Well the thundering of the guns was this time increasing and I just said to myself that “Old Jerry was going to attack”. As events turned out and before the 9th April was through I found that my assertions were not far wrong. After about 20 minutes there stood Z Coy of the 1/10 (Scottish)KLR on the road outside the Farm and shivering in the mist and cursing and swearing the while which increased fourfold when I slung the extra bandolier to each man. The bedlam in the Farmyard was still going on and after I had got our Company Lewis Gun limber at the rear of the company I reported “Ready to move” to my very cool and collected Company Officer. The C/O gave the word to get to ‘Bustle’ (the codeword to move to battle positions) tout suite so off we go. I’m afraid with wind vertical. The gunfire was at this point awful the whole front was ablaze with the flashing of the Hun’s Artillery. We hadn’t got more than 200 yards along the road before the scouts which the C/O had pushed forward reported that to get along the road was suicide. About turn was given so back we go past the Farm again to go on out towards Le Hamel (Map B). Getting across there was bad going owing to the mist, the Loisne Stream and several successive belts of wire which ran across towards Locon. To make things worse the whiff of gas was getting stronger each pace so of course we had to don our masks which do not tend to make marching all clover,
On we pushed, great HE shells and gas as well dropping all round us up to Loisne Chateau (Map C). Here we picked up spades and picks and then plodded on. How the platoons missed getting wiped out between Loisne Chateau and Tuning Forks Line goodness only knows. However our first casualty was just getting into the trench, a chap was hit in the neck, not too bad. He is having a great time in Nottingham at present. Well, from then on (it was about 5.30am) until about 4 in the afternoon, that old Tuning Fork Line was a inferno. Naturally our casualties were severe but the boys who were left were by this time hardened to it and gave a Boche airman )who tried to rattle us with MG bullets about 2.00pm) a hell of a pasting. He retired dam smart anyhow. Hunger prevailed about now and after consultation with the O/C Company I sent a Corporal and a couple of men with a chit to Loisne Chateau and nearly went into a fit when they returned later with a tin of biscuits and 2 boxes of Bully Beef’.
The battalion would stay in the front line until the night of 15 April. On 10 April things were quieter. The enemy launched 3 attacks, the first 2 during the morning were fought off. A third and more determined attack came at dusk when the enemy infiltrated Loisne Central and managed to set up a MG – they were driven off with 2 MGs captured and many Germans killed. On 11 April, a hurricane bombardment was opened up, it lasted about 30 minutes but no attack came. During the evening Y Company moved to relieve and reinforce the keeps at Festubert. —12-15 April to come.
Casualties Officers 2 KIA, 7 wounded, 1 missing; ORs 49 KIA, 127 wounded 7 missing, 6 died of wounds.
GOOGLE MAPS Centres on Locon
References and Sources WAR DIARY 1/10 Bn The King’s Liverpool Regiment (Liverpool Scottish)
B&O 1918. KO. Georgette. Le Hamel. 1/10 Bn King’s Liverpool Rgt. 9-11 April 1918.