In so far that Fosse 8 still remained in the hands of the enemy, the battle was a failure, but in capturing the Redoubt the Brigade had prevented it being a complete failure. Though we only held the German front line and one small point in advance of it, we made it impossible for the enemy to hold any of the Redoubt himself, and so robbed him of his commanding position on the high ground. Our casualties had been heavy, and the two attacking Battalions had only one officer left between them, while we in reserve had lost four officers and 22 men killed, six officers and 132 men wounded and 13 men missing. Two officers and 22 men had been gassed, but presently returned to us. The causes of our failure were mainly two. First, the failure of the Artillery to wipe out “Mad Point” and Madagascar and their machine guns; secondly, the gas. This last was undoubtedly a mistake. It caused us several casualties; it made it necessary for the attackers to wear rolled up gas masks which impeded them, it stopped our H.E. bombardment an hour before the assault and so enabled German machine gunners to come back to their guns, and above all it had a bad effect on us, for we knew its deadly effects, and many a man swallowing a mouthful or smelling it became frightened of the consequences and was useless for further fighting. There was also the mistake of leaving Fosse and Dump trenches untouched by the bombardment, because they were reported weeks before to be shallow and unoccupied; as it happened we found them full of men. Finally, there were the bombs. We had been promised Mills only, and yet found many other types during the battle. Possibly a shortage of Mills might account for this, but there can be no possible excuse for sending grenades into a fight without detonators, and no punishment could be too harsh for the officer who was responsible for this.
Honours and Rewards were not given in those days as they were later, and many a brave deed went unrecognized. There were only nine D.C.M.’s in the Division, and of these the Brigade won seven, to which we contributed one, Hallam, the grenadier. Of the officers, Capt. Barton, Lieut. Wollaston, and 2nd Lieut. Williams received the Military Cross, and the Colonel’s name appeared in the next list for a C.M.G. It was not until long afterwards that those who had been with him began to talk of the splendid deeds of 2nd Lieut. Tomson throughout the day and night of the 13th, and he was never one to talk about himself. Had anyone in authority known at the time he, too, would have had some decoration.
Flanders mud to the Mediterranean.
15th Oct., 1915. 28th Jan., 1916.