AMATEUR historian Steve Berridge has transcribed the war diary and regimental chronicle of the 2nd Ox & Bucks Light Infantry.

His devotion to the history of the regiment has stemmed from research into his great-grandfather, Corporal George Berridge, who served in the 1st Buckinghamshire Battalion during the Battle of the Somme.

Mr Berridge, 51, a former corporal in the Royal Green Jackets, is a volunteer researcher at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum in Woodstock and has been typing up the official unit log.

Each battalion kept its own war diary, which was an official record of the unit’s location, activity and number of casualties.

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Mr Berridge is hoping that the diaries will eventually be digitised to make them more accessible to members of the public.

At the beginning of September, 1914, troops from the Ox & Bucks were involved in the Battle of the Aisne, which cost the British Expeditionary Force about 13,500 men, killed, wounded and missing.

The Second Ox and Bucks were withdrawn from the front on September 22, but would remain in billets at Dhuizel, France, until the end of the month.They stayed in the area until the middle of October, when they headed north for French Flanders, not knowing that they were destined for the Belgian town of Ypres and the Ypres Salient.

Oxford Mail:

  • A cave used as a shelter and admin area during the battalion’s time on the Aisne

Mr Berridge said: “The next stage for the Ox & Bucks would be the move northwards up towards Belgium – they became involved in the Race to the Sea.”


September 21, 1914: – (La Cour de Soupir to Dhuizel, 6 1/2 miles.) Still some sniping, but we had only one man hit while distributing rations.

The Germans were digging some fresh trenches, the nearest being about 700 yards off. One never quite knows when shells may come.

They put ten H.E. shells near D Company’s trenches, but did no harm. Shrapnel was also apt to come at long intervals.

At dusk the German infantry and machine-guns again did some shooting of the same sort as last evening.

We ourselves did not reply to it much, but there was a good deal of firing by the regiments on either side of us.

At night we were relieved by the Leinster Regiment (of the 17th Brigade, 6th Division), and were ordered to rejoin the 5th Brigade at Dhuizel. We did not get off until 1am. (22nd). We crossed the Aisne at Chavonne, and marched, via Vieil Arcy, to Dhuizel, where we arrived after daylight, found the 5th Brigade there, and then went into billets and slept.

General Haking had been wounded, also Terry (52nd) the Staff Captain; and Gilkison, the Brigade Major, had been killed.

Lieut-Colonel Westmacott, commanding the Worcestershire, is in temporary command of the Brigade, with Stevenson (H.L.I.) acting as Brigade Major.

Oxford Mail:

  • Amateur historian Steve Berridge with the war diary

September 22, 1914 – (Dhuizel) We are now reserve to the 1st Corps, which means a rest as long as nothing particular happens. We do not get shelled, though shells occasionally pitch within a few hundred yards of the village.

A number of gifts arrived from Aylesbury, and 1,000 cigarettes from Lord Orkney. The 3rd Reinforcement (120 men), under Humfrey (3rd Battalion), arrived to-day

September 23rd-24th, 1914: – (Resting at Dhuizel) Getting washed and shaved and clothes washed. The rest in billets is doing us a lot of good. We wanted it. Shelling going on in front as usual. I spoke first to the officers and then to the NCOs, and thanked them all for the excellent work they had done during the retreat and afterwards. This I told them to convey to the men, as it was not possible for me to have a Regimental parade to speak to them also. Chippindale (3rd Battalion) joined for duty.

September 25, 1914. – (Dhuizel.) We got some exercise today by digging trenches in a back position ... as a precaution.

September 26, 1914. – (Dhuizel.) Early in the morning and during part of last night there was considerable artillery and infantry fire.

We were held in readiness to move, but were not called for. We heard later that the firing was caused by an attack which the 21st German Division made on our 1st Division.

The attack was repulsed with considerable loss to the enemy.

September 27, 1914 – (Dhuizel.) Still held in readiness to move, but were not wanted.

Ponsonby arrived from England and took over command of C Company, having got leave to give up his appointment of Assistant Military Secretary in South Africa.

September 28, 1914 Continued digging the back line trenches on the heights to the south of Dhuizel village. Platoons exercised in drill, musketry, marching, etc.

September 29, 1914 Out again finishing off the trenches.

Some shells fell near the village today, and one of them crashed into a big farm in which the Worcestershire were billeted, but, fortunately, without hurting anyone.

In the afternoon we got orders to move, across the Aisne to Bourg, 3 ½ miles, which we did after dark (7pm), and took over billets from the Connaught Rangers. Quite good billets.

The duties here entail finding a few guards, digging some trenches at night, and cleaning up the streets of the village.

The headquarters of both the 1st and 2nd Divisions are in Bourg.

September 30, 1914. – (Bourg.) Spent part of the day riding about looking for places to dig trenches as a sort of extra precaution.

A few shells near the village occasionally, but our billets were not disturbed. One company occupied trenches at night, protecting our heavy artillery.

Much colder both by day and night.

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