Reference: WO95/1141
3rd Cav Div HQ: 12th - 27th May 1915

War Diary
or
Intelligence Summary

Hour, date, Place Summery of Events and Information Remarks and references to Appendices
May 12th
4:00 pm
A staff Officer was sent to discuss the taking over of the left portion of the trenches with the 85th infantry Brigade. This Brigade had, unfortunately, only been in occupation of that portion of the line for some 24 hours, and could furnish little detailed information beyond the fact that the trenches were badly made and most indifferently wired. The difficulties inherent in taking over an unknown and indifferently prepared line in the dark were further increased by the fact that our Field Squadron was not available (33) to assist improving the defences; it was understood (34), however, that the Cavalry Force had made the necessary arrangements for R.E. assistance in improving this section of the line. (33) G.243 from Vth Corps
(34) Ga.740 from Cav.Corps see App. (31) above.
7:10 pm Brigadiers had been verbally informed of the move to be carried out and orders (35) were subsequently issued. The 6th Cavalry Brigade was to take over from the N.W. corner of BELLEWAARDE Lake to the railway line I.6.c. inclusive, the 7th Cavalry Brigade prolonging the line up to and exclusive of the main road by VERLONERHOEK. The 8th Cavalry Brigade was to be in reserve in the G.H.Q. line in the vicinity of POTIJZE and was to send one Regiment under orders of the G.O.C. 6th Cavalry Brigade to assist in improving the trenches. The remainder of the Brigade was available to assist the 7th Cavalry Brigade if required. (35) Our G.45.M to Bdes
8:15 pm At 8:15 pm, the Cavalry Force was informed (36) that a Staff Officer of the 7th Cavalry Brigade had been waiting at 85th Infantry Brigade Headquarters since 6:00 pm for the R.E. Officer and men promised in their Ga.740 (37). This message was acknowledged (38) by the Cavalry Force which promised to communicate with C.R.E and to inform us and the Headquarters of the 7th Cavalry Brigade, of the result. Nothing further was, however, heard of the matter, and there can be little doubt that the failure on the part of the authorities concerned to provide the necessary R.E. personnel* was largely the cause of the subsequent very heavy casualties suffered by the 7th and 8th  Cavalry Brigades. Whilst quite realizing the difficulties which the authorities had to contend with, it is desirable that particular attention should be drawn :-

(a) to the great risk incurred in attempting to relieve a line of trenches during darkness without previous reconnaissance of the same, and

(b) to the fact that since a Field Squadron forms one of the most important links in the chain of organization of a Cavalry Division, (especially in trench warfare), it should under no circumstances whatsoever be withdrawn from a Division which is likely to be employed. If the 3rd Field Squadron had not been detached from the Division, it would have been possible to concert in good time with officers who were immediately available and who were personally known , not only to Staff and other Officers, but also to the Troops with whom they would be working, some means for improvement of the line which had to be occupied. as it was, the R.E. promised did not arrive, and the troops of the 7th Cavalry Brigade had to work until dawn without any R.E. supervision whatsoever.
(36) Our G.46.M. to 1st Cav Div.
(37) For Ga.740 see (31) above
(38) Ga.764 from Cav.Force.


*From enquiries subsequently made, it appears that an R.E. Officer did report during the night, to the G.O.C 7th Cav.Bde, but not until it was too late for him to undertake any work.
11:30 pm Just before midnight a message (39) was received from the Cavalry Force to the effect that the G.O.C. Vth Corps wished it to be clearly understood that the line which was being taken over by the 3rd Cavalry Division must be maintained, and that in the event of the enemy effecting a lodgement, a counter attack must at once be made as to keep the line intact. (39) Ga.769 from 1st Cav.Div
11:35 pm This was repeated to Brigades.  
May 13th
2:30 am
Reports from all Brigades were received soon after 2:00 am that the relief had been carried out satisfactorily, and the Cavalry Force was informed accordingly (40).* (40) Our G.174 to Cav.Force.
*For dispositions of troops at 4:15 a.m. see Map "A"
3:00 am The Essex Yeomanry subsequently rejoined its Brigade on completion of its work with the 6th Cavalry Bde.

The disposition of the Division was now as follows :-

6th Cavalry Brigade
Holding the front up to the railway with the North Somerset Yeomanry on the right and the 3rd Dragoon Guards on the left, The Royals in Brigade reserve near the Brigade headquarters in the wood I.11.b.

7th Cavalry Brigade
Prolonging the line up to near VERLONERHOEK. The Leicestershire Yeomanry on the right, the 2nd Life Guards in the centre, and the 1st life Guards on the left, each finding its own supports.

8th Cavalry Brigade
In reserve near POTIJZE.
 
4:15 am Soon after dawn the G.O.C started off to visit the Brigadiers. heavy firing was heard along the front, and on reaching the 80th Infantry Brigade headquarters on the MENIN ROAD (near 1st Kilo) such a heavy bombardment was taking place that is was found impossible to proceed further.  
7:20 am Telephonic communication to the front had been interrupted but shortly afterwards the Brigade-Major of the 6th cavalry Brigade arrived with a verbal message to the effect that the front of this Brigade and the area in the rear of it up to outskirts of YPRES, was being very heavily shelled, that 3rd Dragoon Guards had been buried in their trenches, that the Germans has succeeded in piercing the line, and that G.O.C. the Brigade was initiating a counter attack with The Royals. It transpired later that the report that the Germans had penetrated the line was incorrect, this was not discovered however, until counter attack had reached the front line, which, led by the Brigadier, it accomplished after a most gallant advance under terrific shell fire, suffering very heavy casualties in doing so. The G.O.C. Division immediately proceeded to the Headquarters of the 7th and 8th Cavalry Brigades which were in dug outs near POOTIJZR CHATEAU.  
7:35 am Meanwhile reports had reached (41) the Advanced Report Centre, which was still West of YPRES, that the 7th Cavalry Brigade front was also being heavily bombarded and that the troops were suffering severely. The trenches near VERLONERHOEK were said to have been blown in, enemy's infantry to be attacking the left front, and the 7th Cavalry Brigade supports to be meeting it. (41) A.K.85 and 86 from 7th Cav.Bde.
7:45 am The G.O.C. reached POTIJZE about 7:45 am and advanced report centre was established there.  
8:25 am Orders (42) were again received from the Cavalry Force that in the event of the line being broken, it must be repaired and re-occupied, and that "in no case must any part of the line be surrendered permanently whatever loss may be incurred to recover it". (42) Ga.782 from 1st Cav.Div.
9:00 am Orders (43) were also received delegating the command of the Reserve Brigades of the 1st and 3rd cavalry Divisions to General Briggs in the event of the situation demanding a joint counter attack by them and Reserve Brigades in either sections occupied by those Divisions. (43) Ga.778 from 1st Cav.Div.
9:30 am The situation continued very involved, communication with the front being extremely difficult. It appeared , however, that practically to whole of the trenches occupied by the 7th Cavalry Brigade had been destroyed, and that of 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 VERLORENHOEK ROAD), about 100 of the 2nd Life Guards, with 6 officers, behind the G.H.Q. Line, whilst of the Leicestershire Yeomanry (44) all that could be ascertained was that the remains of 1 squadron were North of the Railway line in H.11.b. (44) CH.32

**** Grid reference should be I.11.b, it was written incorrectly within 6th Cav Bde's Signal above.
10:25 am Orders (45) were again received from Cavalry Force stating that a counter attack must be organised at once to repair the line. Steps had already been taken for this, but before launching it Cavalry Force were informed (46) that advance of the Reserve would leave the G.H.Q. Line unoccupied. Moreover, 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 7:00 am 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 assumed more definite shape, it would be obviously undesirable to formulate a plan for a counter attack. Steps were accordingly taken to ascertain what extent of gap existed. (45) Ga.789 and 790 from Cav. Force.

(46) Our G.51.M to Cav.Force
Our G.56.M to Cav.Force
  in the meanwhile one Regiment of the 8th Cavalry Brigade (10th Hussars) had been despatched to connect up the right of the Bays (1st Cavalry Brigade) with the G.H.Q Line in I.4.b. near POTIJZE. This Regiment took up a position along, and North of, the POTIJZE - VERLONERHOEK ROAD, facing South.  
11:15 am A second Regiment from the 8th Cavalry brigade (The Blues) was also despatched (47) to connect up the left of the 6th Cavalry Brigade with G.H.Q Line. This Regiment came temporarily under orders of general Campbell's orders, until counter attack was launched. The disposition of the troops about now is shown on Map "B". (47) Our G.54.M to Cav.Force
  To assist the Division in carrying out a counter attack, the G.O.C. Cavalry force had despatched at 10:35 am (48) 1Bn. of the Durham Light Infantry Brigade (which Brigade had been placed at his disposal) to occupy the G.H.Q. trenches which would be vacated on the advance of the 8th Cavalry brigade. (48) Ga.793 from Cav.Force
12:05 pm Instructions (49) were also received regarding steps to be taken for the protection of the front and closing of the existing gap, but as stated above, the G.O.C 3rd Cavalry Division, had already taken the action which he considered necessary, moreover the supporting points which the cavalry Force Commander was desirous of occupying had long ceased to exist. (49) Ga.796 from 1st Cav.Div.
Ga.800 from Cav.Force.
Vide our G.51.M and G.54.M. App (46) & (47).
(50) Our G.59.M to Cav.Force
12:45 pm After a consultation with the Brigadiers of the 7th and 8th  Cavalry Brigades, orders (51) for the counter attack were issued. The lost trenches were to be regained at all costs, and the 8th Cavalry Brigade, assisted by the Armoured Motors, which had been moved up to POTIJZE, was ordered to carry out the attack, and the G.O.C 9th Cavalry Brigade detailed one Regiment (19th Hussars) to support it. The general idea of the counter attack was - 10th Hussars, with their left pivoted on the Bays, advance towards the Farm I.5.d followed by the Essex Yeomanry., whilst the Blues with their right pivoted on the 6th cavalry Brigade advanced in a similar manner on the right, the armoured motors co-operating by moving down the road towards VERLONERHOEK as far as possible. (see Map B for dispositions) (51) Our G.57.M to all concerned.
2:00 pm


2:30 pm
A preliminary bombardment * by all available guns commenced at 2:00 pm and was continued till 2:30 pm. At which hour the counter attack was launched. Independent witnesses of the Bays, and R.A. observing Officers, state that it  was carried out with utmost gallantry and vigour and with the precision of a parade ground movement under rain or shrapnel and H.E.Shell. The Germans did not wait to meet it but fled in disorganized bodies, and it is thought, suffered considerable losses from our artillery, who continued the bombardment after 2:30 pm with lengthened fuzes. * From various reports subsequently received it appears that this fire was extraordinarily accurate and effective and when the Germans ran, caused them severe casualties.
3:05 pm The original line was regained (52) but it was found that the trenches had been so blown in that they practically ceased to exist and the terrific bombardment which the enemy  maintained rendered it impossible to consolidate the position, though on our left, where a certain amount of cover was obtainable, remains of the 10th Hussars, some 100 strong, hung on most valiantly till dark. (52) B.M.77 from 8th Cav.Bde.
  Touch with the Essex Yeomanry had been almost lost. This Regiment pushed out to the right of the 10th Hussars in the advance; on nearing the original line of trenches a considerable body of enemy broke and fled. The Úlan of the Essex Yeomanry advance in pursuit of these is reported to have been splendid, and they did not spare themselves in their attempts to get to handgrips.  
  The Armoured Motor-cars proved of considerable value both offensively on the left flank of the counter attack, and subsequently in ascertaining the disposition of the front line as far as it could be seen from the VERLORENHOEK ROAD. One car had its radiator smashed at the outset, and the water jacket of the machine gun over another was pierced. Officers of the Bays subsequently stated that the coolness and daring with which the Armoured Motors were handled was magnificent. They were under a very severe shrapnel and shell fire the whole time they were in action, but manoeuvred up and down the road each time it appeared the enemy had got their range, and did not retire until their mission had been accomplished.  
4:45 pm The situation was now as follows.* On the right the 6th Cavalry Brigade were still holding their original line, but their left was exposed (53) and they had suffered very heavy casualties, The Royals having only about 70 men left out of 230. On left rear of the 6th Cavalry Brigade, but out of touch with them, was a party of the Leicester Yeomanry, another small body of the same Regiment was found subsequently to have held on stubbornly throughout the day to a farm. In the G.H.Q. Line were small parties of various Regiments of the 7th and 8th Cavalry Brigades. On the left, near the original line of trenches, were some 100 of the 10th Hussars and a small party of 2nd Life Guards who had endeavoured to carry up some entrenching tools. On the right of the 1st cavalry Division were several small parties of the 1st life Guards, probably totalling in all about 100 men. In the rear of the 10th Hussars, and occupying positions held by the Regiment before the counter attack was launched, were the 19th Hussars in support. * See Map "C".

(53) Our G.63.M to Cav.Force
6:10 pm Endeavours were now made to protect the left of the 6th Cavalry Brigade by pushing forward the remnants of the 7th Cavalry Brigade and Blues to a position along the road running N.N.W. from Railway Wood, I.11.b. and report (54) on the situation was sent to Cavalry Force (54) Our G.65.M. to Cav.Force
7:30 pm



10:10 pm




12:00
Midnight
At 7:30 pm fresh orders (55) were received from the G.O.C cavalry Force. As it did not appear possible from those orders that the G.O.C was aware of the actual situation, a Staff Officer was sent to explain the same to him, with the result that further order (56) were subsequently received. the result of these was that the 27th division took over the right of the railway inclusive. The 6th Cavalry Brigade, less the North Somerset Yeomanry and inclusive of the 10th Hussars, took up a new line parallel to and in front of the road running from near WITTE POORT Farm to 2 1/2 Kilo. POTIJZE - VERLONERHOEK ROAD, to within 600 yards of the latter, whilst remaining troops were collected (57) as a Reserve in the G.H.Q. Line under General Bulkeley-Johnson. (55) Ga.810 & 811 from Cavalry Force.

(56) Ga.817 & 818 from Cavalry Force.

(57) Our G.75.M to Brigades.
May 14th
12:40 am
POTIJZE
A digging party of 600 men from the Durham light Infantry Brigade had been sent out to assist in digging the new line under the supervision of the R.E., it was found necessary to ask (58) the O.C. this party to leave out 300 men to maintain the line until the arrival of the 6th Cavalry Brigade. (58) our G.724 to D.L.I. Bde
2:30 am The relief (59) of the 6th Cavalry Brigade by the 80th Infantry Brigade was completed by 2:30 am when the line was occupied as follows*:- On the right 3rd Dragoon Guards., in the centre, Royal Dragoons., on the left, 10th Hussars. (59) Our G.77.M to Cav.Force

*For disposition of troops at 4:00 am see map D.
  Fortunately the right was quiet one (60) and the troops were enabled to consolidate their positions somewhat. The heavy rain which had fallen at intervals during the previous 24 hours had tended to make condition of things for the troops most uncomfortable. many (especially the 7th and 8th Cavalry Brigades) had lost their coats and were wet to the skin and caked in mud. In addition, the 7th Cavalry Brigade had lost their rations during early morning bombardment on the 13th, and many of the rifles had become so caked in mud as to be temporarily unserviceable. (60) Our G.77.M to Cav.Force