This page remembers with honour those men of Hey Parish who died in WW1, their memorial will appear on the 100th anniversary of their deaths.
9.4.17 Pte Samuel Hayes, aged 25, 33332 1 East Yorks Reg, from 36 Dixon Street, Waterhead, Son of Thomas & Ruth buried at Cojeul St Martin sur Cojeul Arras
St. Martin-sur-Cojeul is a village about 8 kilometres south-south-east of Arras on the D33. Cojeul British Cemetery lies about 1 kilometre south of the village.
The village was taken by the 30th Division on 9 April 1917, the day Pte Hayes was killed, lost in March 1918, and retaken in the following August.
9.4.17 Pte Bernard Horsfall, aged 21, 414193 2 Canadian Machine Gun Corps from Oldham Road, Springhead, Son of Asprilla, buried at Ecoivres MC Mt St Eloi, Vimy. Pte Horsfall joined the family business in Canada, then enlisted with his Canadian friends in Aldershot. He was a machine gunner. The Canadians famously combined their entire forces at Vimy, and using new tactics, took the ridge from the Germans, including one Cpl Adolf Hitler. Pte Horsfall was killed with a shrapnel wound to his neck. Ecoivres is a hospital cemetery about 5 miles behind the front line at Vimy.
12.4.17 Pte James Lees, aged 26, 1906 1 Kings Own R Lancs, from 43, Dunham Street, Crossbank, son of John & Hannah Lees, remembered on the Arras Memorial B2. One of three brothers killed. Pte Lees was killed during the First Battle of the Scarpe 9–14 April 1917 The major British assault of the first day was directly east of Arras, with the 12th Division attacking Observation Ridge, and trenches into the German lines, south of Vimy Ridge sector, SE of Arras.
23.4.17 Pte Edward Dunkerley 27421 16 Manchester Reg, and 25.4.17 Pte Fred Cocks aged 23 38231 7 Yorks Reg of 17, Bridge Street, Springhead, Son of Fred & Elizabeth, one of two brothers killed, are also remembered on the Arras memorial. They were killed in the Second Battle of the Scarpe, 23-25th April 1917. At 04:45 on 23 April, following two days of poor visibility and freezing weather, British troops of the Third Army (VI and VII corps), attacked to the east along an approximate 9 mi (14 km) front from Croisilles to Gavrelle on both sides of the Scarpe. Again, many objectives were taken, but the Germans counter attacked on 25th, when Pte Cocks was killed.
The Arras memorial records the names of 45,000 soldiers and airmen who have no known grave
Pte Percy Punchard, aged 28, died 25.3.17: 38704 21st Battalion Manchester Regiment, from 18 Melrose Street, Derker, Son of Herbert. Buried at Douchy les Ayettes, Arras, France.
The 21st (Service) Battalion (6th City) was a Pals Battalion, formed in Manchester in November 1914 by the Lord Mayor and City. After training and some early action, the Battalion was placed in the 7th Division. The front line was quite fluid during this time, and dead from both sides were buried honourably by their enemies, in “foreign” graveyards. Douchy les Ayettes is a WW1 British Cemetery begun in 1918 with bodies of men from a number of German graveyards scattered over the area south of Arras. Pte Punchard was originally buried in Gomicourt, Moyenneville or Sapines German Cemetery.
Pte Herbert Cleaver, aged 20, died 31.3.17: 45827 12th Northumberland Fusiliers, of 25 Conduit Street. Son of Mr & Mrs Cleaver, he is remembered on the Arras memorial, France as he has no known grave. The 12th Northumberland Fusiliers fought in the Battles of Loos, Albert, Bazentin Ridge, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, and the First Battle of the Scarpe, and Third Battle of the Scarpe.
In March 1917, the Germans began to retreat to the Hindenburg Line. The Manchesters and the Northumberland Fusiliers, fought in the flanking operations up to Bullecourt during the Arras offensive.
15.11.16 LCorp Frank N Collier, aged 19, 52545 1 Kings Own Liverpool and 4610 Manchester Reg, of 27 Alexandra Terrace, Moorside. Son of Fred & Mary Collier. Remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme.
After heavy losses during the Battle of the Somme, the Manchester Regiment sent 20 officers and 750 men to reinforce the Kings Liverpool Regiment. In October and November of 1916, they were in action near Beaumont Hamel on the Thiepval Ridge of the Somme battlefield. This action was known as the Battle of the Ancre Heights Action began from Courcelette near the Albert–Bapaume road, west to Thiepval on Bazentin Ridge.[a] British possession of the heights would deprive the German 1st Army of observation towards Albert to the south-west and give the British observation north over the Ancre valley to the German positions around Beaumont Hamel, Serre and Beaucourt.
Many interruptions were caused by frequent heavy rain, which turned the ground and roads into rivers of mud and grounded aircraft. German forces in footholds on the ridge, at the east end of the Regina Trench and in the remaining parts of the Schwaben Redoubt) to the north and Stuff Redoubt (Staufen-Feste) north-east of Thiepval, fought a costly defensive battle with numerous counter-attacks and attacks, which delayed the British capture of the heights for more than a month.
The German counter-attacks were costly failures and by 21 October, the British had managed to advance 500 yards (460 m) and take all but the last German foothold in the east.
28.11.16; Pte Joseph Wood, aged 28. 35820 22 Manchester Rg, of 394 Huddersfield Rd, Waterhead, Son of Martha, buried in the Contay British Cem, Somme
Contay is a village on the main road, Amiens to Arras. The site was chosen in August 1916 for burials from the 49th Casualty Clearing Station, which arrived at Contay at the end of August. It was joined by the 9th CCS in September to March 1917
The 22nd (7th City) Battalion, Manchester Regiment was raised in Manchester on the 21st of November 1914 by the Lord Mayor and City. They moved to Morecambe for training in January 1915 and in April joined 91st Brigade, 30th Division at Grantham. They moved to Larkhill, Salisbury Plain for final training in September 1915 and proceeded to France in early November, landing at Boulogne. In 1916 They were in action during the Battles of the Somme, including the capture Mametz, The Battle of Bazentin, the attacks on High Wood, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Guillemont and the Operations on the Ancre.
4.10.16: Pte William Burgess, aged 30. 47594 55 Field Amb RAMC, 3047 11 Manchester Reg. 377 Lees Road, Lees, Oldham. Had a brother, James. He is buried at Etaples, Pas de Calais.
55 Field Amb RAMC, not a vehicle, but a group of men, was attached to the 18th (Eastern) Division of the British Army, fighting in the central area of the Somme, along the River Ancre. Medics and stretcher bearers would operate within no man’s land, at dressing stations, all along the sector. Obviously their duties were very dangerous. In October 1916 the division was attacking near Trones Wood. Pte Burgess was wounded here, and evacuated to Etaples, a town about 27 kilometres south of Boulogne. The Military Cemetery is to the north of the town. During the First World War, the area around Etaples was the scene of immense concentrations of reinforcement camps and hospitals. In 1917, 100,000 troops were camped among the sand dunes and the hospitals, which included eleven general, one stationary, four Red Cross hospitals and a convalescent depot, could deal with 22,000 wounded or sick. Pte Burgess died there of Wounds.
11.10.16: 2 Corp Harold Grinter, aged 22. 83243 202 FC RE, 84 Birks Brow, Austerlands. Son of Joseph & Ellen. He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme.
12.10.16: Pte James Kinder, age unknown. 19622 2 Batt DoW West Riding Reg of Thorpe Cott, 1 Highmoor, Scouthead. Son of James (d) & Emma. He is remembered on the Thiepval Somme PF6a 6B
17.10.16: Pioneer Charles W Egerton, aged 29. 192475 HQ Spec Coy RE of 66 Wellihole Street, Lees. Husband to Bertha, Dad of Joseph. He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme.
The 202 Field Coy, Royal Engineers formed part of the 30th Division of the British Army on the Somme. The 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington West Riding Regiment formed part of the 12th Brigade of the 4th Division. In October 1916 both Divisions and the RE Special Companies ( Gas mortars and Flame Throwers), took part in the Battle of Le Transloy Ridges. The battle, which opened on 1 October, began well with the capture of Eaucourt L’Abbaye as well as an advance along the Albert-Bapaume road towards Le Sars. The advance was resumed on 7 October and Le Sars was taken by the British 23rd Division. The weather was rapidly deteriorating and the battlefield, which had been pummelled to dust by relentless artillery bombardment over the preceding three months, turned into a quagmire.
12.10.16: LCorp J Rowland, aged 26. 33381 7th Batt Manchester Reg, of 20 Smith Street, Lees. Son of William & Martha. Buried in AIF Burial Flers, Somme. The 22nd (7th City) Battalion, Manchester Regiment was raised in Manchester on the 21st of November 1914 by the Lord Mayor and City. They moved to Morecambe for training in January 1915 and in April joined 91st Brigade, 30th Division at Grantham. They moved to Larkhill, Salisbury Plain for final training in September 1915 and proceeded to France in early November, landing at Boulogne. In 1916 They were in action during the Battles of the Somme, including the capture Mametz, The Battle of Bazentin, the attacks on High Wood, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Guillemont and the Operations on the Ancre.
The great majority of the graves in A.I.F. Burial Ground date from the autumn of 1916. There are now 3,475 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery.
Pte Robert Cocks, 14223 A Coy 24 Manchester Regiment (Oldham Comrades)aged 20, of 17, Bridge Street, Springhead. Died 3.9.16 and buried at Heilly Station, Somme. He was the son of Fred & Elizabeth Cocks. His brother, Fred, was killed in April 1917.
The “Cotton Town Comrades” were raised in Oldham in November 1914 by the Mayor & Town of Oldham. They went into camp at Chadderton Hall farm, in 36 huts, and started their training. On the 8th March 1915 the battalion left it’s home town and moved to Llanfairfechan, where training was continued.
In May 1915 they moved to Grantham as part of the 91st Brigade, 30th Division. In 10th August 1915 taken over by the War Office. In September 1915 moved to Larkhill Camp on Salisbury Plain.
In early November 1915 they landed at La Harve, and moved up to the Albert and Arras sectors on the Somme. In May 1916 the Comrades became the Pioneer Battalion for the 7th Division and they moved to the village of Aumont, near Amiens, later to move to Morlancourt near Albert. Here they suffered their first casualties of the war, carrying out the duties of pioneers in the front lines and to the rear of them.
In the battle of the Somme the 24th were engaged in converting the German trenches captured around Fricourt into strongpoints and consolidating the gains of the 7th Division. Compared with other units the battalion suffered very light casualties of eight men. On the 14th July the battalion followed up the attack on Bazention le Petit, to build a strongpoint in the village, taking 52 casualties. On the 30th August the 7th Division was to make it’s attack on the disputed village of Guinchy, the 24th were employed building the support trenches needed, although the attack was not successful, the preparation work cost the battalion 38 casualties.
Heilly Station was a stop on the local railway line where the Army had established a casualty clearing station and field hospital. Unfortunately, some soldiers, including Pte Cocks, did not survive their injuries, a cemetery was established here as their final resting place.
4.7.16: Pte Frank Stuttard, 12849 7 Kings Own Royal Lancs , aged 33, Husband of Annie , of 5 Temple Row, Huddersfield Rd, Waterhead. Remembered on the Thiepval Memorial Somme F5D & 12 B.
7th (Service) Battalion, The King’s Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment was in the line on the Somme ready for the big push on 1st July. At 0730hrs 30th June 1916, it moved forward from Henencourt Wood and took over positions on the Tara-Usna Line ready for an attack on Ollivers. 3rd July, took over at La Boisselle. 0830hrs 4th July attacked La Boisselle, moving up through three communication trenches, assault held up by strong machine gun fire from North East side of the village. 300yards gained.
7.7.16 Pte Fred Wrigley, 33076 12 Manchester Reg, aged 24, Son of Mr & Mrs Wrigley, of 17 Turner Street, Waterhead, (brother Harry dies 1917), and also Pte Frank Chew, 33072 12 Manchester Reg, aged 24, Son of Francis & H Maria, of 838 Huddersfield Road, Austerlands, remembered on the Thiepval Somme PF13a 14c.
The 12th Battalion Manchester Regiment went into action on the 3rd July in an attack on Railway Copse and Bottom Wood near Fricourt, after a hectic advance to the front they found themselves in two old German trenches looking north towards Contalmaison where they remained until 5th July. On the 6th they advanced into Fricourt Wood and were ordered to take Quadrangle Trench. The attack took place in bright sunlight without any cover. The result was a disaster for the battalion with 555 men killed, missing or wounded. The remainder of the battalion moved back to Ville, then Heilly, then Long and Albert where it stayed for the rest of the month.
9.7.16 Pte Jack Wilde, 27228 18 Manchester Reg, aged 19, Son of Mr & Mrs Emmett Wilde, of 987 Huddersfield Road, Scouthead, remembered on the Theipval Memorial, Somme PF13a 14c
The battalion were ordered to follow the 17th Battalion through the shattered remains of Trones wood to the eastern edge of the old British front line trenches at Maricourt. The few survivors, mostly B Company and a few men from A and C company collected ammunition from the dead and wounded, fixed bayonets and followed the men of the 17th. A hurricane bombardment rained down and the men lost touch with each other as they staggered about the smashed remnants of the wood.
Less than 30 minutes later the attack was broken up. About midday, the position became impossible and the Battalion was ordered to withdraw as it was being gradually wiped out to no purpose.
At 10pm, with less than 100 men remaining the battalion moved to Chimney trench where it remained for the next 28 hours. The trenches offered little cover from the constant shelling and was regularly strafed by machine gun fire resulting in many casualties.
14.7.16 Pte Harold Lees,(brother James dies 1917), 28234 21 Manchester Reg, aged 22, Son of John & Hannah Lees, of 43, Dunham Street, Crossbank, buried at Caterpillar Valley, Longueval Somme.
Having captured Mametz Wood on 12 July, the British moved onwards toward High Wood in a continuation of the push through German lines. The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, which ran from 14-17 July 1916, was part of the second phase of the Somme Offensive, on a front extending from Longueval to Bazentin-le-Petit Wood.
The attack began at dawn on the 14th, and, preceded by a short sharp five minute artillery bombardment – just enough time to send exposed German defenders to their dugouts – the infantry moved forward. A notable success, Bazentin-le-Grand and Bazentin-le-Petit were secured within a matter of hours, with Longueval (skirting Delville Wood) following shortly afterwards.
Having established a position at Bazentin-le-Petit it became apparent to the British that High Wood itself was deserted; but by the time the British had organised their forces, the Germans had established sufficient defences to be able to decimate the oncoming British with machine gun fire.
British headquarters decided instead to launch an attack upon Martinpuich in the north, overlooking the reality that the Germans had not yet been fully cleared from High Wood. In launching an attack the British would find themselves open to enfilading fire from the wood and the consequences for the attacking 33rd Division towards Martinpuich were devastating.
26.11.15 L.Serj Harold Shaw, aged 28, 480 2286 1/7 Batt Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Reg, from Whams House, Den Lane, Springhead, Son of Napoleon & Sarah Maria, buried at Bard Cottage, Boezinge, Ypres. For much of the war the village of Boezinge faced the German line across the Yser canal. Bard’s cottage was a little house set back from the line close to a bridge called Bard’s causway. The Dukes were in the line here from June 1915. They had fought in the ill fated Battle of Aubers Ridge in May, and were in the line when the first gas attacks were made in December 1915. There is a memorial to them on the Yser Canal at Essex farm. LS Shaw was killed in the line during the routine attrition of trench warfare.
27.11.15 Pt John F Wild, aged 26, 3901, 9 Batt Lancashire Fusiliers of 57 Thorpe Road, Austerlands, Husband of Minnie, Father to Clara, James & Walter Hiram, buried at Hill 10, Gallipoli. Fought by the Empire forces and the French, against Turkey, the Gallipoli campaign was waged to relieve the deadlock on the Western Front and open a supply route to Russia. Landing in April, the Allies gathered for a major offensive in August, and on 7th, the 9th Lancashire Fusiliers and 11th Manchesters took Hill 10, to the north of Salt Lake. The cemetery was made after the war when isolated burials were moved there from the beaches and dressing stations scattered around the area. Pt Wild was also was killed in the line during the advance and retreat of the trench line.
Pte Joseph Wareing: 2286 1/7 Batt DoW West Riding Reg of 16 New Road Lane, Waterhead. Son of Arthur & Ellen. Buried at Bard Cottage, Boezinge, Ypres.
The 1/7th Battalion were a Territorial Force stationed at Milnsbridge all as part of the 2nd West Riding Brigade of the West Riding Division and then moved to Hull and Grimsby as part of coastal defences.In April 1915 it mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne. During that year it engaged in various actions on the Western front including; The Battle of Aubers Ridge, The defence against the first Phosgene attack. This was a disaster for the Army and it suffered many casualties. From June 1915, the Battalion took its place in the line defending Ypres. For much of the First World war, the village of Boesinghe directly faced the German line across the Yser canal. Bard Cottage was a house a little set back from the line, close to a bridge called Bard’s Causeway, and the cemetery was made nearby in a sheltered position under a high bank.
Thomas James Hague: 1/10 Manchester Reg of Alvie Terrace, Greenfield Son of Samuel & Mary 60 Sharples Hall Street. Buried at 12 trees Copse, Gallipoli.
The eight month campaign in Gallipoli was fought in an attempt to force Turkey out of the war, to relieve the deadlock of the Western Front in France and Belgium, and to open a supply route to Russia through the Dardanelles and the Black Sea.
The Allies landed on the peninsula on 25-26 April 1915; On 28 April, following the landings at Helles, the first attack was mounted towards Achi Baba, the ridge which dominates the southern part of the peninsula. The Army suffered heavy casualties. With reinforcements, the Allied force at Helles pushed forward once more on 4 June, but again to little effect. A further attack between 28 June and 5 July at Gully Ravine inflicted heavy casualties on the Turks, but despite local gains – at one point the line was pushed forward more than a kilometre – there was no breakthrough. By 13 July the advance at Helles was effectively over and the position remained unchanged until the evacuation in January 1916.
TWELVE TREE COPSE CEMETERY was made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from isolated sites and small burial grounds on the battlefields of April-August and December 1915.
Death recorded on this day a century ago and named on
our memorial: Private Wilfred Cook 1st /10th Battalion,
The Manchester Regiment – Age 23. He is buried at
Gallipoli, Helles Memorial. Son of Thomas and Mary
Ann Cook of Whams House, Den Lane, Hey.
Pte Tom Little, 1779 1/10 Batt Manchester Reg age unknown, of 71 Cobden Street, Waterhead, Son of Sarah Little (a Head teacher), and
Pte Clarence (Frank) Bannister, 1234 10 Batt Manchester Reg, aged 22, of 5 Spring Hill Waterhead Oldham, Son of Henry & Esther, were both casualties of the failed Gallipoli campaign in Western Turkey. The British Empire troops invaded to secure the Dardenelles strait, and help the Russians fighting the Turks on their Southern front. The expedition was ill planned and poorly run, with fighting, geography, and climate being against the troops in the field. There were huge casualties on both sides. Pte Little died of wounds at Gallipoli, and was buried at sea. He is remembered on the Chatby Memorial in Alexandria. Pte Bannister is buried in the Lancashire Landing Cemetery, Gallipoli.
Pte John T Highton, 4700 2 Batt Lancashire Fusiliers, aged 23, of 21 Wild Street, Waterhead. Son of John & Margaret. He is remembered on the Ypres Menin Gate panel 33. 2 Batt Lancashire Fusiliers took part in the First Battle of Ypres in April and May 1915, during which the Germans first used poison gas. There was fierce fighting around Hooge and Hill 60, then near St. Julien on the North East side of the city. Pte Highton was killed in the line in July, but has no known grave.
In this month, British & Empire troops began the ill fated invasion of Turkey, by landing at Gallipoli.
Pte Elijah Fitton aged 23, Husband of H. M Fitton, of Lane Head, Lees was No. 905 in the 1/10 Batt Manchester Reg, raised in Oldham and art of East Lancashire Brigade, East Lancashire Division. He is remembered on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli.
In February 1915 the Russians appealed for help from Britain and France to beat off an attack by the Turkish. The British navy responded by attacking Turkish forts in the Dardenelles. Despite the loss of several ships to mines, the British successfully landed a number of marines in the Gallipoli region of the Dardenelles. Unfortunately the success was not followed up and the mission was a failure.
On April 25th, Allied landing at Gallipoli – 70,000 British, Commonwealth and French troops are under heavy fire. On ‘Y’ Beach, 1,200 out of a force of 1,500 men are casualties. By June 4th, The Third and final Battle of Krithia begins at Gallipoli as Allies attempt to push inland from their beach-heads. British losses amount to 6,000 men.
In May 1915, the 1/10 Batt Manchester Reg landed at Cape Helles, Gallipoli to reinforce the British beachheads established during the initial landings in April. The Manchesters disembarked at “V” and “W”, where, in the April landings, there had been at least 2,000 casualties. The Manchester battalions took part in the Third Battle of Krithia on 4 June. The 127th (Manchester) Brigade reached their first objective and advanced a further 1,000 yards, capturing 217 Ottomans in the process. A few hours later, the brigade withdrew when an Ottoman counter-attack threatened its flanks. Further fighting took place at the positions the British had withdrawn to and were soon repulsed after many days fighting.
Pte Robert Humphreys, 2492 1/10 Batt Manchester Reg, aged 34, of 175, St John Street, Lees, was killed during the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. He was the Husband of Edith, and is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial, Bethune, France. The battle is recorded as follows:
“…. Despite poor weather conditions, the early stages of the battle went extremely well for the British. The Royal Flying Corps quickly were bombarding railways and German reserves en route. At 7:30 a.m. on 10 March, the British began a thirty-five minute artillery bombardment by the Indian and the IV Corps, on the German wire which was destroyed within ten minutes. The remaining batteries with fifteen 18-pdr batteries, and sixty howitzers, fired on the German front-line trenches. They were 3 feet deep, with breastworks 4 feet high, but they were unable to withstand a howitzer bombardment. The bombardment was followed by an infantry assault at 8:05 a.m.
The Indian Corps attacked with all four battalions on a 600 yards front. On the right the attack quickly collapsed, both companies losing direction and veering to the right. The attack confronted a part of the German defence not bombarded by the artillery and before the mistake was realised the two support companies followed suit. The Indian troops forced their way through the German wire and took 200 yards of the German front trench, despite many casualties. They advanced in lines of platoon fifty paces apart, swiftly crossing the 200 yards of no man’s land and overran the German infantry, they pressed on to the German support trench, the attack taking only fifteen minutes to complete. The leading companies then advanced beyond the Port Arthur–Neuve Chapelle road, without waiting for the planned thirty-minute artillery preparation and took the village by 9:00 a.m. along with200 prisoners and five machine-guns.
The German garrison had been severely bombarded, but about two platoons of the 10th Company, fought on. A fresh British attack was arranged from the north. German troops stopped the advances but Haig ordered more attacks that day, with similarly disappointing results.
The German defences in the centre were quickly overrun on a 1,600 yards front and Neuve Chapelle was captured by 10:00 a.m. At Haig’s request, the British Commander-in-Chief Field Marshal Sir John French, the British commander in France, released the 5th Cavalry Brigade to exploit the expected breakthrough. On the left of the attack, two companies of the German Jäger Battalion 11 (with c. 200 men and a machine-gun) delayed the advance for more than six hours until forced to retreat, which stopped the advance. Primitive communications also meant that the British commanders had been unable to keep in touch with each other and the battle thus became uncoordinated and this in turn disrupted the supply lines. On 12 March, German forces commanded by Crown Prince Rupprecht, launched a counter-attack which failed but forced the British to use most of their artillery ammunition and the British offensive was postponed on 13 March and abandoned two days later….”
Pte Fred Kershaw 11366 2 Batt DoW West Riding Reg, aged 36, of 19, Wood End Street, Springhead wask killed during the battle for Hill 60. He was the Husband of Elizabeth, and is commemorated on Ypres Menin Gate Panel 20. The battle is recorded as follows:
“…..Hill 60 was a spoil heap 250 yards long and 150 feet high, made from the diggings of a cutting for the Ypres–Comines railway. The hill formed a low rise on the crest of Ypres ridge, at the southern flank of theYpres Salient. The hill had been captured on 11 November 1914, by the German 30th Division, during fighting against a mixed force of French and British infantry and cavalry, in the First Battle of Ypres. In the first British operation of its kind, Royal Engineer tunnelling companies laid six mines by 10 April 1915. On 16 April British artillery was ranged by air observers onto the approaches to Hill 60, ready for the attack. British infantry began to assemble after dark and 1 Squadron Royal Flying Corps was made responsible for keeping German aircraft away from the area.
On 17 April at 7:05 p.m. the first pair of mines were blown and the rest ten seconds later. Débris was flung almost 300 feet into the air and scattered for 300 yards in all directions, causing some casualties to the attacking battalions of the 13th Brigade of the 5th Division. The German garrison, a company of Saxon Infantry Regiment 105 was devastated and the survivors overwhelmed, those capable of resistance being bayonetted; twenty Germans were taken prisoner for a British loss of seven casualties. The British began to consolidate and by 12:30 a.m. had dug two communication trenches to connect the new positions to the old front line. German artillery-fire gradually increased on the hill after falling around it for some time and at around 4:00 a.m. on 18 April, three German counter-attacks began which were repelled with many losses. German high explosive and gas shells and machine-gun fire, forced the British back to the crest, except on the right flank where the British were forced further back. German attacks continued all day on 18 April but at 6:00 p.m. a counter-attack by two British battalions retook all of the hill. Before dawn on 19 April most of the 13th Brigade was relieved by the 15th Brigade. The Germans maintained a heavy bombardment of the hill and on 20 April attacked again, mainly with bombing parties, before infantry assaults were attempted at 6:30 and 8:00 p.m. German attacks continued into 21 April, by when the hill had become a moonscape of overlapping shell-holes and mine craters. The divisions of II Corps and V Corps simulated attack preparations on 21 April but on 22 April British attention was diverted further north, where the French 45th Division was struck by the first German gas attack of the Second Battle of Ypres….”