DIARY November 11, 1914 – 2nd Bn Oxf & Bucks LI – Attacked and routed the Prussian Guard at Battle of Nonne Bosschen 1914 – 2nd Bn Oxf & Bucks LI – Near Verlornhoek in Divisional Reserve About 10am ordered to go to Eksternest (Westhoek) in support of the 1st Guards Brigade, who were heavilyattacked to the north of the Ypres-Menin Road.

When the regiment arrived at Westhoek, troops of the 1st Division (Northamptonshire Regiment) could be seen advancing eastward about half a mile on the right.

Companies took what cover could be found at Westhoek from the shelling, which began soon after we got there.

Orders now received from 5th Brigade to clear Nonne Bosschen and join with the Highland Light Infantry, who were on the west edge of Polygon Wood.

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Almost at the same moment an order came from the 1st Brigade to bring the regiment to the south-east corner of Nonne Bosschen and join with the 1st Division troops who were there.

As there were certainly Germans in the northern part of Nonne Bosschen, and our own and some French artillery were at Westhoek, it was necessary to clear this wood. The 5th Brigade order was therefore obeyed.

A and B Companies were sent to clear this wood advancing from north-west to south-east.

This they did very successfully, killing and capturing many Germans.

C and D Companies followed in support.

Oxford Mail:

The men of the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry sheltering from shrapnel behind the headquarters of 20 Brigade at Ypres, 1914

When A and B Companies came out on the south side of the wood they were joined by some of the Northamptonshire Regiment on the right and by some Connaught Rangers and 5th Field Company Royal Engineers on the left. Led by Captain Dillon they charged the Germans out of one line of trenches, some of them running while the attack was 30 or 40 yards off and others surrendering.

There was still another trench in front, that which the Germans had taken from the 1st Brigade, running from the south-west corner of the Polygone Wood to the V of Velderhoek.

This trench would probably have been taken too, but at this moment some French artillery, not knowing how far our counter attack had progressed, opened on our front line with shrapnel. By the time the French shrapnel could be stopped it was dark.

The regiment was then collected in some houses north of the E of Bosschen.

It was proposed to try to retake the trenches by a flank attack from the south-west corner of the Polygone Wood, and about 1.30am (12 November) the regiment and the Highland Light Infantry moved up to this corner of the wood.

Owing to the darkness and our ignorance of the ground and of the exact position of the trenches, this attack was given up.

Marched back to the house near the E of Bosschen, meeting on the way the 2nd Grenadier, Irish Guards and Munster Fusiliers who were also marching to the south-west corner of the Polygone Wood with the idea of attacking from this flank.

They had been fired on from the German trenches and Brigadier General Fitz Clarence, commanding the 1st Guards, had been killed. Their attack was not carried out.

Orders for entrenching a new line for the night were now given out.

Two companies (C and D) entrenched with the left on the Polygone Wood near the Z of Polygone de Zonnebeke and the right near the C of Bosschen.

Echelloned in front near the Ferme Vereek were the Northamptonshire Regiment, and the line was carried on towards the Velderhoek Chateau by the Gloucestershire Regiment and Grenadier Guards. On our left were the Connaught Rangers and Highland Light Infantry near the south-west corner of the Polygone Wood.

A and B Companies were in Support trenches behind. Regimental Head Quarters in north-west corner of the Polygone Wood.

The Germans who attacked today belonged to a division of Potsdam Guards.


Oxford Mail:

Killed: 2nd Lieutenant J Jones, above, and four men = 5
Wounded: Lieutenant C S Baines and 18 others = 19
Missing = 3
Total = 27
2nd Lieutenant Jones was doing duty as Company Sergeant Major 
as information of his promotion had not been received.

Transcribing the diaries

Oxford Mail:

AMATEUR historian Steve Berridge, above, has transcribed the war diary and regimental chronicle of the 2nd Ox & Bucks Light Infantry.
His interest in 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 he is 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.
Mr Berridge’s task is not finished yet but he has already transcribed the diary of what the 2nd Battalion of the Ox & Bucks experienced on November 11 at the Battle of Nonne Boschen.
On that day about abut 400 troops from the 2nd Battalion took part in the battle, and five soldiers died, but the Germans 
suffered far heavier losses – about 700.
Terry Roper, chairman of the Oxford branch of the Royal Green Jackets 
Association, below, said: “It was quite a feat of arms – the Ox and Bucks charged with their bayonets and went through the Prussian Imperial like a dose of salts and held up the German advance.
“In a way it was history repeating itself as the Ox and Bucks achieved a similar feat at the Battle of Waterloo against the French Imperial Guard.”

Oxford Mail:

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