Ooteghem (26th Fusiliers 1918)

Ooteghem

26th Royal Fusiliers...The Battalion War Diary for 25 October 1918 together with corresponding maps....................................................................................................I have attempted to show the movements on a modern aerial photo. ..........Hope they make sense..................“At 01.15 the Battalion concentrated its assembly along the road running through O.6.b & O.6.a – O.12.a.3.9, and proceeded to dig in until Zero hour. The enemy kept up moderate dispersed shell fire during the night, only slackening down after dawn. At 09.00, on the commencement of our barrage, the whole line closed under the barrage and moved forward at 09.04.

The enemy appeared to have withdrawn his front posts to a depth of about 400 yards on our immediate front, and relied upon a barrage to break up our advance. Heavy casualties were suffered on passing through the barrage, four officers being wounded in the first five minutes. There was also fairly heavy machine gun fire from both flanks, which increased as the advance continued, Machine Guns coming into action from the Farms and High Ground around P.7.c. and P.7.d. The Windmill at P.7.d.2.4 especially causing casualties as the Battalion entered the village round P.7.c.6.4. Tp silence these enemy Machine Guns the right front coy worked round to the Right Flank into dead ground along the road from P.7.c.6.4 to P13a.7.9, passing into 20th Bn. D.L.I. front for this purpose, and two Vickers guns attached to the Battalion brought fire to bear from the Right Flank, while the left flank pushed steadily ahead over the KASSELERYBEEK up the higher ground in P.7.d. There were three more casualties to Officers and several to men, but by 10.30 the village and windmill had been taken; from the windmill itself one enemy machine gun and sixteen men were captured.

From 10.30 to 12.30 re-organisation wherever possible took place in dead ground, and the line held by the Battalion was a s follows:-

“A” Company around Farm at P.13.a.7.6 and along round running North of it.

“C” Company in dead ground in P.7.d.2.4.

“B” and “D” Companies along crest In P.7.b. and P.7.d.

This was a line approximately 1000 yards short of the first pause line, but enemy Machine Gun fire was very accurate and casualties had been severe. It was necessary, therefore, to reorganise before pushing forward.

At 12.30the advance was recommenced. On the right a composite company was made out of “A” and “C” Companies owing to the casualties to Officers and men, and a determined effort was made to penetrate enemy positions by means of infiltration on both sides of the windmill took place. At the same time “B” and “D” Companies attempted to work forward into P.8.a and c. This attack on the left flank penetrated as far as OOTECHEM, but the casualties were too heavy to admit further progress. At the same time the Camerons on the left were ordered to retire, and. In conformity with them, the Left Companies of the Battalion swung back and eventually took up their positions alon the road at the forward crest at P.7.d.9.3 to P.6.e.7.7

On the Right Flank the Composite “A” and “C” Company were also met by extremely accurate Machine Gun fire in their attempt to move forward. The sections sent around the left of the windmill were unable to move forward and were withdrawn and sent around the right flank to rejoin their platoon, and together these sections penetrated as far as P.13.a.5.5, beyond which point further progress was impossible.

As the point reached by the Battalion was on the 20th Bn. D.L.I. front and machine gun fire from P.14.a and b began to die down, O/C “A” and “C” Company ordered his Company to sidestep a distance of 300 yards, and at 15.30 this was carried out by sections and a position at P.13.b.8.8 was occupied. In doing this Machine Gun fire was drawn from the left i.e. the Eastern slopes of OOTECHEM, and the men commenced to dig in.

At this point the Commanding Officer was wounded while re-organising the line of the left flank, and Captain A SPOTTISWOODE took over command of the Battalion. This was at about 16.00 and at dusk the 10th Bn. “Queens” R.W.S. Regt. passed through the 20th Bn D.L.I. and by dark had reached P13.b.6.6 with their left resting on P.7.d.6.0. “A” and “C” Company were then ordered to withdraw and move forward to fill the gap between P.7.d.9.3 and the “Queens” left flank at P.7.a.6.0 a continuous line being established.

Casualties

Killed

1 Officer and 14 Other Ranks

Wounded

7 Officers and 72 Other Ranks

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