Reference: WO95/1142
3rd Cav Div GHQ: 11th - 14th May, 1915
Major General Hon J.H.G. Byng.

General Report on Operations
Reference - Sheet 28 (Belgium), 1/40,000
11th May.
3rd Cav. Dvn. comes under orders of 27th Division
        1. At 10 a.m. on the 11th May, 1915, the 3rd cavalry Division came under the orders of the 27th Division. At an interview with G.O.C. 27th Division, at 2 p.m. on the same date, the G.O.C. 3rd Cavalry Division was ordered to relieve the 80th Infantry Brigade in trenches East of YPRES on the following night, with Troops of the 3rd Cavalry Division , and in the meanwhile it was arranged that the latter should :-

a) Relieve two squadrons of the 1st cavalry Division then in support of the 80th Infantry Brigade at I.11.b. on the night 11th/12th May, and also

b) Send reconnoitring officers into 80th Infantry Brigade trenches the same night who should remain in the following day.

c) Relieve the 80th Infantry Brigade on the 12th/13th May on the following line -

100 yards N. of the main road I.18.b to and including the railway line in I.6.c.

        The arrangements under (a) and (b) were duly carried out, and the officer commanding, 3rd Field Squadron, R.E. reconnoitred the area held by the 80th Infantry brigade, and arranged for certain necessary
improvements and additions in the defence line to be carried out by the troops of the 3rd Cavalry Division.
12th May.
3rd Cav. Dvn. deprived of 3rd Fd, Sqdn.
        2. On representation being made by the officer Commanding 3rd Field Squadron Squadron, R.E. that he was being detailed to carry out work unconnected with the Division on the night of the the 12th of May, and since his assistance would be urgently required with the 3rd Cavalry Division, the 27th Division was asked to arrange that the Squadron might be held available for work in the trench line that night. The request was subsequently refused by the 5th Corps and the 3rd cavalry Division was thus deprived of the service of it's Field Squadron at a time when they were most urgently required.
Counter-Order          At 10 a.m. preparatory orders were received which to a great extent cancelled those of the 11th, under which the 3rd Cavalry Division was to take over the 80th Infantry Brigade line. The 3rd Cavalry Division was now to relieve only a portion of the latter's line, namely, from BELLEWAARDE lake to ROULERS railway line, and in addition, that of the 85th Brigade from the above railway line to about VERLORENHOEK. The Division was, by the same order, to come under command of Major-General De Lisle, and to take over the newly allotted line on the night  of 12th/13th May. This order was subsequently confirmed.
        In an interview with Major-General De Lisle, the G.O.C. 3rd cavalry Division pointed out that his Division would now, under the new order, have to take over the line of trenches which had not been previously reconnoitred, that owing to the impracticability of entering the trenches by daylight it was not possible to carry out any such reconnaissance, and that the troops would therefore have to move into the trenches in the dark and would be at a serious disadvantage if any attack should be made by the enemy the next morning. The G.O.C. 3rd Cavalry Division therefore protested against the new arrangement and asked that the 3rd Cavalry Division might be allowed to relieve the 80th Infantry Brigade as already arranged, especially so since officers of the 3rd cavalry Division were already in these trenches and were making themselves acquainted with local conditions.
        The confirmatory order to relieve the 85th Infantry Brigade however, was received at 3:50 p.m. and relief took place the same night.
        The 3rd Field Squadron, R.E. having been taken away from the Division it was essential that some R.E. should take their place, and cavalry force Order No. GA. 740 notified that R.E. Officer and a section would be available to supervise defences and communications, an that the officer was to report at the 85th Infantry Brigade headquarters that evening. This Officer, however, did not report at the time notified, and the 7th Cavalry Brigade had to take up the line without any R.E. assistance.
        In the Appendix are copies of various reports which show how seriously handicapped the 7th Cavalry Brigade was owing to:-

a) Lack of opportunity for previous reconnaissance of trench line, and

b) Absence of any R.E. assistance.
13th May         3. the relief of the 85th Infantry Brigade by the 3rd Cavalry Division was completed by 2 a.m. 13th May. The disposition of the Division is shown on the accompanying sketch , marked "A".
4-15 a.m.         Soon after dawn, the G.O.C. started from his headquarters, (H.11.d). to visit the Brigadiers, and on arriving at the Eastern exits of YPRES, a heavy bombardment of the sector WIELTJE - YPRES - HOOGE was found in progress.
4-35 a.m.

7-15 a.m.
proceeding along the MENIN road with a view to visiting the G.O.C. 6th Cavalry Brigade at I.11.b., the shell fire became so severe that the G.O.C. was unable to proceed further than Headquarters, 80th Infantry Brigade (I.9.d). Here it was found that telephone communication with the front was already cut, but shortly afterwards the Brigade-Major, 6th Cavalry Brigade, arrived with a verbal message to the effect that the front of this Brigade, and the area on the rear of it to the outskirts of YPRES, was being very heavily shelled, and that the 3rd Dragoon Guards had been buried in their trenches. He further stated that reports , when he left, indicated that the Germans had succeeded in piercing the line, and the G.O.C. 6th Cavalry Brigade, was therefore sending forward the Royal Dragoons to re-establish it.
       It transpired later that the report as to the breaking of the 6th Cavalry Brigade line was incorrect, but this was not discovered until reconnaissance in front of the Royals counter-attack had reached the front line. The advance of the Royal's was carried out most gallantly, under heavy shell fire, and very heavy casualties were incurred.
7-30 a.m.         The G.O.C. Division now proceeded to Headquarters of the 7th and 8th Cavalry Brigades which were in dug-outs near POTIJZE Chateau. In the meanwhile reports had reached the Advance Report centre, which was still W. of YPRES, that 7th Cavalry Brigade front was also heavily bombarded, and that the troops were suffering severely. The trenches near VERLORENHOEK were said  to have been blown in, the hostile infantry to be attacking the left front, and 7th cavalry Brigade support said to have been sent forward.
7-45 a.m.         The G.O.C. reached POTIJZE about 7-45 a.m. and an Advanced Report Centre was established there.
8-25 a.m.         In re-iteration of the Vth Corps order of the previous day, a further order was now received from the 1st cavalry Division to the effect that if the line were broken it was to be re-established at whatever cost, and soon afterwards Major-general Briggs was delegated to command the reserves of the 1st and 3rd Cavalry Divisions, in the event of the situation demanding a counter attack in either sections occupied by those Divisions.
        It was, under this order, most desirable that a counter-attack to regain lost trenches should be organised at the earliest possible moment, but before any orders for such an attack could be issued, it was equally essential that more definite information on the situation should be obtained, in order that the counter attack might be given a correct direction. At present, the width of the gap in the 3rd cavalry Division line was a matter of speculation only; the G.O.C. knew that at 7a.m. the situation was critical with the 6th Cavalry Brigade according to the Brigade-Major's report, and now that on the left of the line appeared equally critical . Until therefore, things had assumed a more definite shape , it would be obviously undesirable to formulate a plan for a counter-attack. the permanent success of an attack launched under existing conditions, however, was doubtful for even though the trenches, if lost, might be recaptured it seemed doubtful that troops would be able to remain in them owing to the accurate registration and observation of the hostile artillery, which had already caused such damage.
9-30 a.m.          The situation was now very obscure, communication with the front being most difficult. It appeared, however, that practically the whole of the trenches occupied by the 7th cavalry Brigade had been destroyed, and the remnants of the Brigade, some 50 of the 1st life Guards under their Commanding Officer, had fallen back on the Bays (near 3rd kilo. stone North of the VERLORENHOEK road), about 100 2nd Life Guards with 6 Officers behind the G.H.Q. line, whilst of the Leicester Yeomanry all that could be ascertained was that the remains of 1 squadron were N. of the railway line in H.11.b.
10-25 a.m.

Requires confirmation. Very doubtful if more than a few hostile scouts were actually seen
         At 10-25 a.m. another order was received from Cavalry Force to counter-attack, together with certain suggestions for carrying out this operation. Preparatory steps had already been taken towards this end, but it was necessary that the situation should become clearer before any such attack too place.
        The preparatory steps referred to consisted in :-

a) Warning the Cavalry Force that if the Reserves under General Briggs were thus employed, the G.H.Q line would be left unoccupied.

b) Despatching the 10th Hussars of the 8th cavalry Brigade to connect G.H.Q line with the with the right of the Bays (1st Cavalry Brigade) which had become exposed owing to the retirement of the 7th Cavalry Brigade. It would then be in a position to make a counter attack to recover the lost trenches South of VERLORENHOEK, in co-operation with a similar attack which it is intended to launch from the left of the 6th Cavalry Brigade to recover the trenches on the left of that Brigade.

c) Ordering the 8th Cavalry Brigade to send one Regiment (Royal Horse Guards) to similarly protect the left of the 6th Cavalry Brigade, and to reconnoitre the ground preparatory to counter-attack.

        At 12-45 a.m. the situation having become clearer, the orders for the counter-attack, which was to commence at 2-30 p.m. were issued. The G.O.C. 8th Cavalry Brigade was to command this attack, which was to be carried out by his Brigade, supported by Artillery which was then supporting the Cavalry line, and by Armoured motor-cars. One Regiment of the 9th cavalry Brigade was also detailed to be ready to support the attack, or if it failed to close the gap.
         The counter-attack was carried out with the utmost gallantry an vigour, under very heavy fire from shrapnel and H.E. shell. The enemy did not wait to meet it, but fled in disorganised bodies, and are believed to have suffered heavy loss from our Artillery, which acted all through in close co-operation.
         The lost trenches were regained, but they had all been destroyed by the morning's bombardment and afforded no cover against the terrific artillery fire which was opened on the troops of the 8th Cavalry Brigade, small bodies of which managed to remain in the trenches until dark, but it was found impossible to consolidate the position to organise any regular defence in face of such a bombardment.
         The armoured motors did valuable work in the counter attack, both offensively on the left flank of the advance, and subsequently in ascertaining the dispositions of the front line as far as they could be seen from the VERLORENHOEK road.
4-45 p.m.          At 4-45 p.m. the situation was shown in the accompanying sketch "B".
        Endeavours were now made to protect the left of 6th Cavalry Brigade by pushing forward remnants of the 7th Cavalry Brigade, and the Blues (8th Cavalry Brigade) to a position along the road running N.N.W. from Railway Wood (I.11.b), and a report on the situation was sent to Cavalry Force.
        The G.O.C. 6th Cavalry Brigade reports that he received the greatest assistance from the officer commanding, Royal Irish Fusiliers in reinforcing his firing line towards evening when all his reserves had been used up, and in providing a company to connect his exposed flank with the 7th Cavalry Brigade. The officer commanding, 60th Rifles, was also of great assistance in helping the North Somerset Yeomanry when the extreme right trenches of 6th Cavalry Brigade had been blown in.
7-30 p.m. At 7-30 p.m. fresh orders were received from G.O.C. Cavalry Force. As it did not appear possible from these orders that the G.O.C. was aware of the actual situation, a Staff Officer was sent to explain same to him, with the result that further orders were subsequently received. The result of  {to be finished shortly}