Armed Forces: War diary of 2nd Wiltshire Regiment

NB Private William George Gumbleton is not mentioned by name but was known to be part of the 2nd Wiltshire Regt which took part in the events described below

Wednesday 18 Oct 1916

The artillery shelled heavily the enemy positions until 2.40 am when the bombardment was intense. Previous to this hour, C and D coys. were formed up in waves, each company having 2 platoons in the first wave and 2 in the 2nd wave. Both of these were in advance of the front line. A coy. formed the third wave, lying behind the parados of our front line, and B coy. were ready to move up from support line. At 3.40 am the 21st Brigade attacked, the 2nd Wilts on the left, the 18th King's L'pools in the centre and the 2nd Yorks on the right, with the 19th Manchesters in support. Very little information forthcoming. Apparently C and D coys. reached their objectives but failed to take them. 2/LT E W WARE wounded and missing, 2/LT S G HINE wounded; LT F N VERRAN and 2/LT D I LYALL missing, all of D company. 2/LT E B GARNETT missing, 2/LT IC TRENCH, V W VENABLES, A E L CRAVEN wounded, all of C coy. A coy. advanced but were held up by wire and were eventually driven back. 2/LTS H T NEWTON and H L REEVES wounded. B coy advanced but lost direction and part of the coy under Capt V H CLAY crossed the sunken road and got into the first German lines. They bombed up a communication trench, but were driven back on account with shortage in bombs. On being reinforced by the Camerons of the 26th Brigade 9th Division this trench was captured and a block made. The first line trench captured in conjunction with the 9th divn. , of which we held a part, and was consolidated. Capt. V H CLAY was killed during the advance. 2/LT E A CARRINGTON volunteered to seek information as regards the position of our companies some while after the attack started. He did not return and parties sent to search afterwards found no trace of him. 2/LT R L SCULLY who acted as liaison officer was buried by a shell and consequently had to be sent down suffering from shock. Information did not arrive and it was understood that the attack had failed on the whole of the 21st Brigade front but that the 9th Division had gained all their objectives. Our estimated casualty report reads: 14 officers, 350 other ranks. The remainder of the battalion held the old British front line from the sunken road to the junction of Turklane and Frontline. The trenches were by this time in an appalling state owing to the bad weather. The 19th Manchester Regt took over the front line from Turklane to the right.

Thurs 19th Oct

The enemy counter-attacked the 9th Division on our left after a heavy bombardment, but was driven back. 2/LT A C B DODD with a party carried bombs for the 9th Division as their supply was giving out. Our trenches were badly knocked about as a result of the German bombardment and 19th Manchester Regt took over the whole of our front line.

Friday 20th October

Our depleted companies were withdrawn from the support lines and taken to Cobham Trenches. Headquarters remained in the same place. Fine day everything drying rapidly.

18 Oct 1916

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