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13th Battalion Durham Light Infantry adjutant's war diary

Account of the night attack in which George Butterworth was killed

The following war diary extract reveals the desperate situation and breathless pace of events around the night attack on 5 August 1916 when Lieutenant George Butterworth was killed.


12:05 am. Ordered Officer Commanding C Company, 10th Northumberland Fusiliers, to proceed up Gloster Alley and relieve Lieutenant Butterworth in Butterworth trench.

12:10 am. Ordered Lieutenant Butterworth (EB 169) as follows:
“Proceed round the loop with your Company and form up there for the attack AAA Take bombs and tools. Move as quietly as possible.”
Note: Lieutenant Butterworth was prevented from carrying out above order by our own artillery fire.

1:40 am. Brigadier on advice of Brigade Major decided not to carry out another attack.

1:47 am. Captain Lincoln, Officer Commanding B Company, 10th Northumberland Fusiliers, telephoned being heavily shelled by our artillery.

1:48 am. Lieutenant Beale, 10th West Ridings, phoned he had taken up position in O.G.2 to which he had been ordered by Brigade after it had been evacuated by C Company, 10th Northumberland Fusiliers.

2:07 am. Lieutenant Davenport found our guns were shelling his platoon on left of Butterworth trench.

2:20 am. Lieutenant Clarke found that [Lieutenant] Target was killed and most of his men; that he was collecting men of D Company, under 2nd Lieutenants Saint and Atkinson and sending them up Munster Alley.

2:53 am. Sent following message to Lieutenant Butterworth at B Company:
“Send a strong bombing platoon up Munster Alley to hold our block.”
Note: Owing to our artillery shelling our front line Lieutenant Butterworth cannot have received this message till after 3:45 am.

3:33 am. Asked Lieutenant Clarke to supply 2nd Lieutenant Batty with 10 men to go round to west entrance of Torr trench and try and get trench mortar from Anzacs.

3:41 am. Received following from Lieutenant Clarke:
“We must have reinforcements up at once AAA The platoon of A Company has not turned up and the men I have got there are being kept there with revolvers.”

3:41 am. Gave 2nd Lieutenant Batty message for Butterworth to reinforce Munster Alley with one platoon at once.

4:49 am. Forward Observation Officer (FOO) reported that our party in Munster Alley was being heavily bombed, but that we were apparently holding our own.

4:38 am. Brigadier ordered Officer Commanding C Company, 10th Northumberland Fusiliers (Captain Ellis) to send strong bombing party of 25 to Munster Alley and relieve A Company.

About 4:45 am Lieutenant Butterworth killed.

9:00 am. A Company’s bombing party relieved.

1:20 pm. 2nd Lieutenant Rees wounded.

8:25 pm. Battalion relieved by 8th Yorkshire Regiment (Lieutenant Colonel Vaughan commanding) and marched to billets in ALBERT arriving 11:15 pm. At about 7 pm an enemy shell burst near Colonel Vaughan wounding him, stunning Major Weston, 2nd in command 8th Yorks, and seriously wounding Lieutenant Felton the FOO.
2nd Lieutenant Davenport took command of A Company, vice [in place of] Lieutenant Butterworth killed.

The war diary of the 13th Battalion, The Durham Light Infantry, volume I, 20 May 1916 – 31 August 1917, was written by various adjutants, and compiled by Captain W.J. Arris, M.C. when the battalion was disbanded.

Date: 5-Aug-1916

Author: Captain W J Arris, MC

Reference: D/DLI 2/13/2, pp 78-81

Where to find this: Durham County Record Office

Contributed by Durham County Record Office

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