GWL 12th May 1915

I have not written I am afraid for a long time except for a postcard now and then.  I am so sorry, but there has been very heavy fighting round here during the last few days.  You and I have lost one very good friend and some more wounded.  The Regiment has done splendidly.  It has been awfully trying.  I am very well, but very dirty and suffering from a chronic headache; and that back from the frostiest of front lines so you can imagine what the poor fellows have been through.  I will write and tell you all about it one day when Mr Censor will let it pass.  I want this bit of a letter to get through so will not put any contraband goods in it.  I am more sorry than I can say about Conner.  The respirator has arrived, thank you so much.  Just the thing.  Bye bye for a bit.”

From Sir John French’s 8th Despatch quoting Sir Herbert Plumer:

“On the 9th the Germans again repeated their bombardment. Very heavy shell fire was concentrated for two hours on the trenches of the 2nd Gloucestershire Regiment and 2nd Cameron Highlanders, followed by an infantry attack which was successfully repulsed. The Germans again bombarded the salient, and a further attack in the afternoon succeeded in occupying 150 yards of trench. The Gloucesters counter-attacked, but suffered heavily, and the attack failed. The salient being very exposed to shell fire from both flanks, as well as in front, it was deemed advisable not to attempt to retake the trench at night, and a retrenchment was therefore dug across it. At 3 p.m. the enemy started to shell the whole front of the centre Division, and it was reported that the right Brigade of this Division was being heavily punished, but continued to maintain its line. The trenches of the Brigades on the left centre were also heavily shelled during the day and attacked by infantry. Both attacks were repulsed.”

This was the beginning of the Battle of Frezenberg Ridge.  The Battalion lost 5 Officers and 140 men on May 9th, which, when combined with the losses of the 1st Battalion fighting further south in Fromelles of 12 Officers and 275 men, constituted the worst day in the Regiments history.  It isn’t entirely clear what befell Major R Conner who was Battalion Second in Command as his death isn’t registered until September 1915.  However Lt Col Tulloh, the Commanding Officer died after being hit three times.  For a more detailed account of the events refer to “The Gloucestershire Regiment War Narratives 1914-1915 by Captain R M Grazebook”.

During this phase George was with 81st Brigade HQ positioned in Sanctuary Wood.

barnes-wollen-william_second-battle-of-ypres1st_rs_8th_may_1915

{next post 15th May}

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