the 2 leading the Battalions entered the Wood A & C Coys moved
forward in Artillery Formation followed out at 200 yards distance
by D & B Companies.
in its advance "A" Company became aware of a large party
of the enemy on its right flank directing fire against the Division
operating on our right. This party was successfully attacked and
fifty prisoners taken without materially interfering with the forward
movement of our troops.
"A" Company had passed North of the Old Quarry in F.
14 c two small parties of the enemy appeared behind them and
opened fire. These were successfully dealt with by "D "
Company several being killed and seventeen captured. Therefore
except for occasional snipers and a few small enemy parties no
further resistance was encountered on the right until the first
objective (Road E & W through F. 13. a & b) was
reached by A Company at 11.45 a.m. 23/11/1917.
the Left little opposition was met by C & B Companies. A few
Snipers were accounted for and "B" Company cleaned up
a dugout the bag being 30 prisoners including an Officer and a Machine-Gun.
"C" Company reached the first Objective at 11.55 a.m.
23/11/1917 and B Company established a Strong Point at about
E.18.a 1. 9. by a.m.
an early hour on the 23rd it became evident that the attack
on BOURLON VILLAGE was not progressing satisfactorily and
the O/C "B" Company (Lieut A. R. Jones M.C.) was
ordered to send another platoon to reinforce the garrison of the
Strong Point on the left and form a defensive flank on be S. W.
edge of the Village.
11.30 a.m. the 12th S. W. B. were hard pressed by the enemy
in the North West portion of the wood and Captain DUNN (O.C.
'C' Company) sent up 2 platoons under Lieut ENSOR to
pressure increasing still further, Captain DUNN took the
two remaining platoons of his Company forward into the firing
line with the results that the Enemy advance in was for the time
being "checked". Meanwhile the enemy was counter attacking
vigorously from BOURLON VILLAGE and the O.C. 'B' Company
was ordered to move his remaining two platoons to the left flank.
The whole of 'B' Company was then hotly engaged and did splendid
work under the leadership of Lieut A. R. Jones M.C. 2Lieutenant
T. T. DAVIES of this company fought hard in an endeavour to
clear the path of the Middlesex Regiment on his left but
without avail, and in a little while 'B' Coy were fighting hard
to maintain its own ground against the ever increasing pressure
of Enemy troops debouching from the Village.
condition of affairs on the left flank had now become very serious
and at 1.30 pm a message was sent back asking for reinforcements.
The 12th S. W. B. and the two Companies of the 17th Welsh
though disputing every inch of ground were being forced slowly back
when at p.m. the 18th Welsh arrived. Enemy progress was
immediately stayed and our troops in their turn began to gain ground.
For some time the line surged backwards and forward but when night
fell and the fighting ceased our troops held all the High Ground
and were within sight of the houses of BOURLON VILLAGE.
the right rapid progress was made at first but at 12.45 p.m.
a message was received from the 19th R. W. F. asking for
reinforcements to be sent to the Eastern edge of the Wood. This
request had been anticipated. One company having been ordered to
make good the the N.E portion of the Wood as soon as it became known
that the R. W. F. had passed beyond the N edge giving to
the left of the line being driven back from the N. EAST portion
of BOURLON VILLAGE the R. W. F. were forced to drop
back to the N edge of the wood and being subjected to considerable
enemy pressure were reinforced by 2 platoons of 'A' Coy. 17th
attempt was made to dig in along the N & NE edges of the wood,
but heavy shell fire and M-gun fire forced the line to drop back
to a position about 100 to 150 yards inside. This line was worked
on during the night of 23rd/24th November.
evening however the right centre had been driven back and a message
was sent to o.c. 'A' Coy to throw his left back towards the track
running diagonally through a F. 13.b and link up with the right
of 'C' Coy. At midnight 23/24th November this function was
effected and the line was continuous from F. 7.b.2.6 to F. 8.C..5.4
and thence by means of posts to the sunken road at F. 14.A..3.3
operation was rendered the more difficult because by the time that
the 17th Welsh and the 19th R. W. F. were very much
mixed up and re-organisation was hampered by darkness.
about 8.0 p.m. a 23rd of November the left of 'C' Company was at
F.7.b. 2.6 and touch had been lost with 'B' Company 17th Welsh
and 18th Welsh and the 12th S. W. B. Before midnight
the right of the 18th Welsh had been located at F. 7.C..5.5
and instructions issued for O.C. 'C' Coy 17th Welsh to establish
posts along the road running from the N.E to S. W. through F.
7.C & for the 18th Welsh to throw back and extend
their right in order to gain touch. This was satisfactorily effected
and the whole line was then continuous.
dawn on the 24th November the enemy delivered a very heavy
counter attack along the greater part of the front but mainly against
the centre. In the heavy fighting that follow 'B' and 'C' Company
17th Welsh lost all their remaining Officers and the Companies
suffered very heavy losses. On the right centre the line was driven
back a considerable distance and the remnants of A & D Companies
in the N. E. and E. portion of the wood were completely cut off.
These two Companies were almost surrounded and though putting up
a determined resistance suffered very heavy losses.
arrival of reinforcements stiffened the defence and despite all
efforts of the enemy the whole of the High Ground in the Wood remained
firmly in our hands. During the day two efforts were made by Dismounted
Cavalry and A & SH, to recover the Eastern portion
of the wood where some parties of A & D Companies 17th Welsh
were still holding out. These efforts failed but at dusk a considerable
number of our men continued to get back and join up with the troops
holding the main line of resistance on the High Ground.
about midnight 24th/25th November a Battalion of Scots
Guards and some King's Own Royal Lancs were brought up
in an endeavour to re-establish our line around the edge of the
wood. The King's Own proceeded along the main road running
N & S through the Wood with the object of securing the N edge.
Scots Guards proceeded to the Sunken road at F. 14 a.3.3
with the intention of securing the Eastern edge of the Wood. On
arrival at the Sunken road it was at once evident that the enemy
held that portion of the wood East of the road running from N.W
to SE through F. 7.d very strongly, and it was deemed advisable
to wait till the morning before endeavouring to clear it. The attempt
was made on the morning 25th November but was only partially
successful since the Guards withdrew once again to the High
p.m. 25th a general advance of the line was ordered. Progress was
made by the Scots guards on the right of their attack the
Units of the. 119th Infantry. Brigade on their left. The
Guards gamely left & the 119th Infantry Brigade right
however were able to make little or no progress and the attack came
to a standstill.
the 24th/25th November an immense amount of work was done
in reorganising groups of leaderless men of different units &
sending them back to the firing line as fighting units under a recognised
leader. The promptness with which this was done and the alacrity
with which orders were obeyed alone rendered it possible to stiffen
the line of resistance at the critical periods and enabled our troops
to hold on to the all important High Ground in the wood. The astonishing
valour and tenacity displayed by all units of the 119th Infantry
Brigade in the face of extremely heavy shelling and continuous
counter attacks, the valuable aid rendered by the Scots Guards
and Dismounted Cavalry enabled the 119th Inf. Bde
to hold the important tactical position BOURLON WOOD until
handed over to the 62nd division on the night 25/26 November