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Bois Grenier

Bois Grenier

The attack was conceived as an adjunct to the Battle of Loos. The aim was 'to capture about 1200 yards of the German front line system opposite the re-entrant and link them up with our own line at the Well Farm and Le Bridoux salients, thereby both shortening and strengthening our position'.

The following assault troops were used: 2/Rifle Brigade , 2/Royal Berkshire, 2/Lincolnshire and the 1/Royal Irish Rifles. The remainder of the brigade were in reserve. 2/East Lancashire and 1/Sherwood Foresters (both 24th Brigade) were detailed to exploit any 'weakening of the enemy opposite them'.

A four day bombardment was used. By day three it was noted that the German retaliatory fire had increased. This was thought to herald the arrival of more guns (it may have been due to shell shortages - German gunners at Loos were slow to retaliate for this reason apparently).

The assault force got forward at 3.30am on the 25th. In addition, six 18-pdr guns were dug into the front line for direct fire support. Smoke discharges on the flanks were ineffective because of the wind. Two mines were blown but did not break the surface, so they too were ineffective.

At 4.25am, the barrage increased. The 18-pdrs also began firing at the German parapets. The infantry kept forward under cover of the bombardment then leapt to the assault when the barrage lifted. "C" Company, 2/Rifle Brigade, with an additional 80 bombers immediately occupied the front line trench on the right. "A" Company followed with 4 machine guns. By 6am the second line had also been occupied.

Three companies of 2/Royal Berkshire attacked through the centre. One company was picked up in a searchlight and came under fire while forming up. The attack was also successful in capturing the front line, as was the effort of two companies of 2/Lincolnshire on the left. The one problem was a 200 yard section of trench between the Rifle Brigade and Berkshire companies that remained in German hands. It was linked to a communication trench through which the Germans could funnel forward counterattack troops.

At 6.30am, the captured second line had to be abandoned under pressure from the counterattacks. The bombers were having difficulties with resupply and with the rain, which was affecting the fuses. On the right and in the centre, the German attacks were held. Pressure increased on the left but reinforcements of 2 companies of 1/Royal Irish Rifles were fed into the left sector. Three 'Grenadier platoons of the 24th Infantry Brigade were sent up at 8am to reinforce our troops throughout the length of the captured trenches. Despite this further reinforcement, the situation in Bridoux Fort again became serious as the morning advanced'. The supply of bombs gave out completely. The 2 companies of 2/Royal Berkshires and their reinforcements were forced back to the British lines at 2pm.

The British centre then gave way under increased German pressure. Although the right flank held out longer, reinforced with two trench mortars, once contact with the centre companies was lost, the retreat of these forces was inevitable as well.

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