Trpr BAVIN – Extract from War Diary


_map-of-cambrai-nov-1917BATTLES OF CAMBRAI

The First Battle, 21-22 November 1917

FINS 20.11.17  Z Day.  The regiment in common with the Brigade concentrated S of DESSART WOOD, NE of FINS.  Word was received to advance on MASNIERES at noon.  The Regiment came under shell fire in Xroads LES RUES DES VIGNES, S of Masnieres.  Regtl. HQ was established at a farm at this place with the horses.  Bivouaced in open behind screened road running W towards MARCOING.

Contact was obtained with the 88th Inf Bde (29th Div) and Major Goodday’s Squdn was dispatched at 5.45 pm to assist in defence of Bridgehead across canal at MASNIERES in case of hostile counter attack from direction of CAMBRAI.  (They rejoined at 8.45 am 21.11.17).

At 10.15 pm orders were given for LSH to encircle RUMILLY from E and N, it being intended that other troops should attack RUMILLY from the W.  This order was later cancelled in favour of one to return to FINS which was in turn cancelled .  The night was a continuation of orders and counter orders.  The line held by the infantry during the night’s approximately G27.c.5.8 – G27.a.8.8 – G21.a.1.1 – about L of centre.

21.11.17 MASNIERES

The regiment was in readiness at daybreak to break through and make for their original objectives as R Flank Guard to the Bde.  Two troops of Major Clarke’s Squdn. were detailed in re-bridging the canal during the early morning.

At 11 am just as the Brigade was preparing to move forward a strong counter-attack developed against our Infantry line and the GoC 88th Inf. Bde. countermanded the move.  The regiment received orders to be prepared to reinforce the infantry if required, but was not called on to do so.  One troop of Mjr. Goodday’s Squadron under Lieut. TROTTER MC got in touch with the R Inniskillin Fusiliers on our Left prepared to render help if necessary.  Lieut. HARVEY VC moved with a patrol through MASNIERES to the Infantry Front Line and when owing to shortage of ammunition this part of the line had to give way temporarily – this patrol rendered valuable assistance  and rescued at least one wounded officer.  During there whole day the Regiment kept in touch with the Infantry line on the look out for a favourable opportunity to break through, but without success.  At about 5 pm a request was received to reinforce Bridgehead, Lieut. AD MORGAN’S troop with three Hotchkiss Guns proceeded to carry out this order.  The horses were heavily shelled at about 3.45 pm and were moved back near the SUNKEN ROAD.  Whilst giving orders for this move Lt.Col. DOCHERTY DSO was wounded in the arm but continued on duty.  News was received that 2nd. Cavalry Division was moving back to VILLERS-FAUCON.  The Regiment remained for the night ready to help the infantry in case of attack.

22.11.17 CAPPY

At 8.30 am the Regiment moved back to EQUANCOURT, thence to CAPPY on the day following.  Casualties during the 20-22 November : Lt Col. DOCHERTY DSO wounded, at duty, 5 Ors wounded and evacuated, 2 remained at duty.  5 Horses killed , 6 wounded.


Regiment moved via MARICOURT-DOINGT to camp at MONTECOURT for the winter.  Rained all day during the march.

The Second Battle, 1 December 1917


In the morning patrols from Major Goddard’s squadron did as follows:

One patrol followed the Tanks to GAUCHE WOOD and remained in observation, keeping the regiment informed of the progress of the attack and the new positions occupied by the troops on our left.

One patrol under L/Cpl. EWING AB and 5 men worked their way behind an enemy post of 6 men and one LMG who, when rushed, surrendered.  They were able to effect this surprise because the intermittent fire of a Hodgkiss  Rifle directed on the enemy post prevented them from observing the approach of our patrol.  A patrol under L/Cpl RUSSELL and 4 men surprised another enemy post and captured a Heavy MG and 4 prisoners.

At 3 pm the following orders were issued:-  

A & B Squadrons (less one troop) starting from W.12. b were to seize the road running E from GAUCHE WOOD to VILLERS-GUISLAIN.  Lieut. MAY’s Troop “B” Squadron to seize the railway cutting N of CHAPEL CROSSING – “C: Squadron assembled in the SUNKEN ROAD W18 be to be used as the situation might require.

At 3.15 pm the following actions took place:-

“A” and “B” Squadrons under Major JC CLARKE and Major C GOODDAY respectively moved by MORRIS BANKS and GUN LANE to X.2.c.1.1.  They were under heavy MG and Artillery fire.  Major CLARKE was wounded and Lieut. R YOUNG was killed with about 20 Ors killed and wounded.

Lieut. NICOL took charge of “A” Squadron and with Major GOODDAY went forward to the E end of GAUCHE WOOD to reconnoitre the objective.  The enemy were found strongly entrenched and also to have occupied three abandoned tanks near the objective..  Moreover, as the attack from the S did not seem to be developing, Major GOODDAY therefore decided to occupy a line of shell holes in GAUCHE WOOD immediately behind the 2nd Grenadier Guards and reported to them and Regimental HQ.

Lieut. MAY’s Troop accompanied by 1 MG attacked Southward from MORRIS BANK.  They met with no resistance until they came to rifle pits shown X.7.c.4.1.  Here the enemy attempted to put up a fight, but fire having been brought to bear on them and some of their own bombs thrown at them, they abandoned their position.  4 surrendered, the remainder were caught with rifle & MG  fire at close range and it is thought that nearly all became casualties.  Lieut. May then took up a position covering a trench about X.7.c from the North and reported his position to HQ.

At 3 pm one troop”C” Squadron and one MG attached occupied the Railway Embankment just S of CHAPEL CROSSING and opened fire on the trench at X.7.c. Regimental HQ then moved up to that Troop and Col. DOCHERTY made a personal reconnaissance of the situation and sent for another Troop from “C” Squadron  and one MG.  While showing the troop sergeant of this troop and pointing out how he wanted the troop to attack this trench, Col. DOCHERTY was killed.  Major DJ MACDONALD MC assumed command of the regiment and brought up the remaining two troops of “C” squadron and two more machines guns.  A heavy Hodgkiss MG and rifle fire was then concentrated on this trench X.7.c and when two men,, Sgt. PARKINSON DCM and Pte RUTHERFORD rushed for it and threw German bombs into it, between 70 and 100 Germans rushed out and attempted to retire, they came under concentrated fire of Lieut. MAY’s troop and one MG from the North and 2 troops “C” squadron , 4 HK Rifles  and 3 Megs on the embankment at the range of about 300 yards they offered an excellent target especially as they were confused and bunched up.  .  The remainder of Sergt. PARKINSON’s troop having by this time occupied the trench, Sgt.T BELL took his troop forward and occupied some dead ground in X.7.d.  It was the intention of Major MACDONALD to pursue with the troops at hand, but a message was received from Lieut. MAY that at least 200 Germans were advancing to attack his troop.  Thereupon Lieut. HARVEY VC and his troop with one MG was sent from the embankment to reinforce him.  This attack was beaten off and suffered heavily.

4.30 pm No supports having arrived, Major MACDONALD decided to hold the Railway Line, keeping a garrison in the captured trench.  Sgt. BELL’s troop was brought back under cover of rapid fire of two troops and MGs.  They withdrew without any further casualties, bringing in the wounded.  Two troops of the RCDs having arrived as reinforcements were sent toRailway Cutting about X.7.c.1.8.  Col. PATTERSON DSO commanding FGH  having arrived with his Regiment took over the Embankment, detailing Major MIDDLEMASS FGH with his squadron to reinforce STRATHCONAs in consolidating the railway cutting to MORRIS BANK.  “A” and “B” Squadrons were then withdrawn from GAUCHE WOOD and filled a gap of about 400 yards between out left and the right of the Guards Division, which line was shortly afterwards handed over to the 17th Lancers, LUCKNOW Brigade, 4th Cavalry Division.