NEUVILLE ST VAAST TRENCHES 063, 064, 065.
31st Mar. Fri: Very quiet day.
SUMMARY of CASUALTIES in MARCH: OFFICERS KILLED – Nil. WOUNDED – 1. OTHER RANKS KILLED – 1. WOUNDED – 7.
Signed: H. Lord, Major, Cmdg. 1/5th South Staffordshire Regt.
MARCH APPENDIX 4. Report on Bombardment of B.6. on March 25/1916 0.64. (Additional material to 1/5th S Staffords War Diary record, 25th March. 1916. e.f.w.)
At 2.20 p.m. I saw my Company file out of Trench 5 down the B. des ONDES. I left behind in the fire trench and Trench PAYERNE three double sentry posts and one bomb post (2 men). In the Company Hd Qr dug-out I left 2 runners, 2 orderlies, one signaller and one officer. The F.O.O. took up his station at X marked 1 on sketch map, outside the dug-out. I left a chain of sentries down the B. des ONDES for communication.
The bombardment began at 3.0 pm and the 9.2x fired in all about 15 shells, 4 of which were blind. Of the first 9 shells – 2 went into the crater, and 3 were behind our fire trench to the right of the dug-out. The ninth hit the parapet just to the right of the dug-out entrance and exploded, burying Lieuts Wilkinson and Dawson, a piece of the same shell wounding Pte Simpson S. H. at point X 2 on sketch map – this man was acting as connecting file. Previous to this the F.O.O.* had phoned that shells were dropping short, but was unable to speak direct to the battery. (*F.O.O. Forward Observing Officer).
Signed. A. A. Smith Lt O. C. ‘B’ Coy. In the Field 25/3/16 5.25 pm.
Lt A. A. Smith, Officer Commanding ‘B’ Company 1/5th South Staffordshire Regiment was Killed in Action a few days later on 2nd April, 1916 when 2 German mines were exploded underground.
The British Army kept the Trench Names ‘B(oulevard) des Ondes’ & Trench ‘Payerne’ after they took over Neuville St Vaast & the Labyrinth from the French 10th Army in March 1916.
La Targette French Cemetery, Neuville St Vaast (with 42 thousand French WW1 soldiers, buried in strikingly moving patterns) lies next to the British War Cemetery. French Colonial Troops are buried in the Muslim Section where their head stones are turned to face Mecca.
NEXT WAR DIARY REPORT: 2nd Apr. 1916.
NEXT HIBBETT POST: 9th Apr. 1916.