11th-12th July 1916 Tuesday & Wednesday

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“All that night and all next day (11th July) and night right up till 9 0’clock on Wednesday, July 12th we were busy getting all our wounded and evacuating them.

On both nights 100 cavalry men came up to clear the wounded from Caterpillar Trench, but they weren’t of much use to us as they were all, officers included, all terribly ‘windy’ and scattered whenever a shell dropped anywhere near them. They had never been under fire before.

I saw the 14th Welsh come out of the wood – 180 strong – and only two officers to lead them. The 13th Welsh came back about 200 strong. It was a terrible sight. The cold was intense, both nights we got no sleep. I felt pretty rotten by 9 o’clock on 12th July when we were relieved as I’d had no sleep for three days and nights and had been on my feet practically all that time, attending to wounded. Food hadn’t been plentiful either, except tea and biscuits, but a bottle of brandy and a slab of chocolate spun out over three days, helped to keep spirits up.

On our relief we trudged wearily up to Minden Post. Then the Huns shelled us heavily and wounded a few men slightly. We were all so tired that we could hardly throw ourselves into shell-holes to get cover. In fact, I think we were so dazed that we didn’t bother what happened to us. We stood on the crest of the hill for a moment to watch the Huns shelling Contalmaison. We were promised motor lorries to convey us back to Morlancourt, but none appeared and we had to send them down in relays of motor ambulances. The result was that I didn’t get down till 3 o’clock in the afternoon, but I got some good hot food and felt better.

Colonel Davies and some officers left for Mericourt to entrain for Veuchelles near Langpre between Amiens and Abbeville. Our wearied stretcher-bearers with myself and other officers were left behind to rest and were very kindly treated by the 23rd Field Ambulance, officers and men. I had a shave and a good wash and bedded down in a tent at 6pm – dead beat! The 38th Division, although practically wiped out, did its job and captured Mametz Wood. The 113th *Brigade mustered up a little more than a thousand men after the battle.

They went in over 3000 strong. The Divisional General – **Major General Phillips – was sent home on 9th July- incompetence.”

*A Brigade would normally consist of 3000 to 4000 men, made up of usually four battalions. Two brigades would make up a division.

** General Ivor Phillips was mentioned in earlier posts see here and here

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