2/5th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment


In early December 1917 the 2nd Battalion was in the line at Bourlon Wood and an extract from the Battalion Diaries describes Thomas’ last days.

3rd December 1917 – Bourlon Wood
Enemy Machine Gun fired at intervals throughout the night. We suffered 2 casualties

4th December 1917 – Bourlon Wood
Enemy activity again confined to artillery fire. In order to reduce the salient of which our line forms part, a withdrawal was carried out to the Flesquires Line. Pack ponies and limbers were brought up and ammunition and stores were removed before the withdrawal commenced. The withdrawal was made from the left by platoon. One platoon remained behind in the centre company’s frontage to cover the withdrawal. The first company commenced the withdrawal about 9:45pm and it continued in good order platoons moved independently across country to Flesquieres and took up their allotted position in the Flesquieres line. The enemy seemed totally unaware of the withdrawal. There was no fire from the artillery beyond the ordinary routine firing on the right. The withdrawal was concluded in good order, without casualties and dispositions taken up at Flesquieres as follows.
The existing trenches N and NW of Flesquieres between the limits K.18b.2.2 and K.17 d.8.6 were held by A and B companies with C and D companies in support in the support line about K.24 Battalion HQ in dugout K.24.a.1.b.
No signs of the enemy following up were observed until about 3.0pm when motor lorries were seen in Fontaine-Notre-Dame and small bodies of enemy were seen in neighbourhood of Bourlon Wood. Our front was with two Companies of the 2/4th Lincolns. At night we commenced digging.

5th December 1917 – Flesquieres
A new front line trench running from K.18.a.70.45 to K.17.b.8.5 thus bringing the front line up to the advanced posts of the 1/6th london Regiment on our left. On the right were the 2/5th Leicester Regiment. This new front line trench was dug to 3’6 and occupied by seven lewis gun posts. During the digging the enemy shelled continuously inflicting bout a dozen casualties. Captain H N Newsum was sent down suffering from shell gas.

6th December 1917 – Flesquieres
3.0pm – Our outpost line fell back on our front line trenches and an enemy attack developed. The brunt of the attack fell on the 2/5th Leicester Regiment on our right and no enemy came up against our trenches although we were able to bring fire to bear on those advancing against the right Battalion. Enemy shelling was heavy and we sustained some twenty casualties.
Patrols were sent out to battalion on the right and left to keep in touch. Communication difficulties owing to enemy shelling.
8.0pm – Work was continued on the new front line commenced last night and a new communications trench commenced from K.18a.3.5 to K.18c.2.8. This trench was dug 3 feet wide and 3’6 deep during the night. Fighting patrols were sent out during the night to prevent the enemy reconnoitring our line and to prevent him from digging in near our line. Harassing  fire by artillery and machine guns was arranged during the night to prevent the enemy digging.
Lieut Garrad sent down suffering from effects of shell gas.



The 2/5th Battalion had spent March in the area south east of Arras, at Bullecourt, before being moved to Watou west of Poperinge, Belgium, an area used for Battalions moving up to the Ypres salient.
After 4 day of refit the Battalion preceded on the 4th April into the line on the Zonnebeke sector of the salient.
After 5 days in the line near Zonnebeke the Battalion was moved into reserve at St Jean for 2 further days before being entrained for Mont des Cats and then Marched to Locre on the 14th April.

14th April 1918 – Mont des Cats

2am -Mont Des Cats
Battalion marched to Locre (M.23C sheet 28) where it was temporarily accommodated in huts at 4:50 am.

11am – Locre
Battalion moved out along the Locre – Dranoutre road to about M.29 see where it cleared the road and awaited orders. The CEO and company commanders went forward to reconnoitre the reserve line south of Dranoutre.
Orders were received to relieve the 88th infantry Brigade in the line on Ravelsburg Ridge in S.16 and 17, 22 and 23 Company commanders went off at once to recognise the line and battalion moved off about 10:30 pm. The 88th infantry Brigade had only occupied their positions for 14 hours and as this Battalion was relieving three regiments relief was not completed until 5:30 am.

15th April 1918 – Bailleul

5.30am – Bailleul
Battalion took over as follows having all their companies holding line, 4 advance posts – 1 from each company. These posts were dug in on the forward slopes along the line S.2 1D.I want to S.23B.0.0 distributed at intervals of about 400 feet. They were age garrisoned by one platoon.
Each company held a part of the support line with three platoons this line was dug on the reverse flow of the Ravelsburg rich along the line S.21.D.0.5 to S.23.A.7.5.
Battalion HQ in a trench at S.16.C.0.7

6.0 am – Bailleul
To hostile patrols about 20 strong advanced against our posts in S.22.D they were driven off leaving three prisoners in our hands and 17 dead and wounded in front of our post.

7.0 am
A hostile patrol advanced against the machine-gun post in S.20 to say they were counter-attacked and driven off leaving 12 prisoners in our hands. During the morning I deserters came over to our lines.

12.0 noon
For an account of the operation during the remainder of the day see special appendix attached.

Appendix – An account of the part taken by the 2/5th Bn Lincolnshire Rgt in operations East of Bailleul on 15th April 1918.

15th April 1918
12.0 Noon
At this hour the battalion was disposed as previously described in the war diary to which this account form is in appendix. This position has been taken up during the night 14th and 15th of April 1918.
A heavy bombardment of our position commenced at 12 noon and continued until 2:30 pm when it changed to a barrage falling along the line of that of the units on our right and left.

The enemy delivered an attack against the fourth Lincoln regiment on our left but their line remained remained intact.

Enemy attack developed against our right company in S.21.D this attack was repulsed by our lewis gun and rifle fire.

Left the company commander reported the enemy on the ridge on his immediate left and that the forthcoming concert fallen back from the ridge. They formed a defences flank facing east still keeping in touch with our left company (D company).

At 5:25 pm the line of the 4th Lincoln Regiment in S.16.B and 17.A withdrew to the railway cutting in S.17.A, 11c, 16b and 16a.

The enemy forced his way over the back of the hill at S.16 D breaking the line of the 4th Lincoln and getting behind the left flank of our Battalion including one for platoon of the 4th Lincolns which had continuously maintained touch with our left.
At the same time a frontal attack developed along our front. The left company was last seen in its original position fighting at very close quarters with the enemy. The Lewis gun of this company fired to the last, the enemy advancing in close formations at very short range the remaining three companies on the ridge came under very heavy machine gun fire from the left where the enemy had gained a footing on the ridge.
These companies have heavy casualties and swung round to form a flank facing east. They were gradually driven back on to a line taken up by the 176 infantry Brigade north-east of Bailleul.

Patrols were sent out from Battalion HQ to get in touch with the companies in Front but found only the enemy. To conform with the movements of the 4th Lincoln Regiment battalion headquarters withdrew to S.10.C.7.2 where two companies of the 9th Northumberland Fusiliers were found to be holding a line.
The Battalion HQ personnel were organised into five units and extended the line of the Fusiliers to the right from S.10.C.3.2 to S.10.C.7.2. The enemy attack was checked here.

During the night the enemy by means of patrols push forward on finding that out right flank was open. Several patrols were sent out to try and establish touch with our troops on the right but without success. In order to prevent the enemy penetrating this gap to platoons of the ninth Northumberland Fusiliers were brought up and the line extended some 500 feet to the north-west to S.9.D.90.75.

This was the position when orders were received from Brigade to withdraw to Locre.

The following casualties were sustained:
Officers –
Killed. Lieut Colnel H B Roffey D.S.O
Wounded, 2/Lieut Dickinson
Missing, 2/Lieut W G Fenton, 2/Lieut J C Myers.
Other ranks –
Killed, Wounded and Missing, 352

Report signed by Major Commanding 2/5 Lincoln Rgt.


16th April 1918 – Bailleul

2.0 am

Battalion HQ withdrew from positions at S.10.C and D and moved to Locre where they were joined by details from companies who withdrew to Bailleul. Battalion was accommodated in huts at M.17.C.2.2and rested all day.

17th April 1918 – Locre

Battalion was amalgamated with fourth Lincoln regiment and the composite battalion then formed was known as major homes as battalion after commander of fourth Lincolns. The 77th Brigade with details attached was known as General James’ force.

Battalion moved up to position of readiness for counter-attack or support to front line in area M.29.a and c. According to orders companies were dug in, in and about the wood in M.29.c but heavy enemy shelling forced the evacuation of the wood. Companies then dug in in narrow slots in M.29.a. 2/Lieut J. Fisher was killed and 2/Lieut V du Plergny seriously wounded subsequently dying at the casualty clearing station. 15 other ranks were killed and wounded Battalion remained in position all day.