On 26th April, 1917 the 6th Battalion's Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Booth, wrote the following report about the action which had taken place on the 23rd. It was attached as an appendix to the battalion's war diary. Although written in a precise and straightforward style, the intensity and confusuion of the fighting comes starkly through

The account reads:


Narrative of events during the engagement of 23rd April, 1917

At 4.45 a.m. the attack began and at 5.30 a.m. the companies were ready to move off. At 5.45 a.m. (i.e. Zero plus 1 hour) the 6th Black Watch advanced in Artillery formation, each Company having 2 lines of half platoons: "C" & "B" Coys. leading, followed by "A" & "D" Coys., "C" & "A" being on the right and "B" & "D" on the left respectively and the Battalion as a whole advancing towards its objective, in touch within the 6th Gordon Highlanders, who were advancing in similar formation on our Right.
At 6.20 a.m. Battalion H.Q. moved forward to junction of sunken road and HUMID Trench when a message was received from 2/Lieut. Butler, Commanding "D" Coy., to say to say that the advance was held up by M.G. fire in the old British Assembly Trenches opposite the GAVRELLE Road.
At 6.50 a.m. 2/Lieut. MENZIES, the Battn. Intelligence Officer, was sent forward by me to ascertain the situation.
At 7.30 a.m. the position of Advanced Battle H.Q. in the sunken road became quite impossible owing to the extreme severity of the 8 inch and 5.9 barrage on that line, and H.Q. moved back to their original position in H.16.b.7.9., reporting the fact together with all information received, to the Brigadier
At 8.00 a.m. 2/Lieut. BLACKMORE, L.G. Officer, was sent by me to Left flank, together with 2 scouts to report on the situation.
At 9.40 a.m. 2/Lieut. MENZIES returned with the information that our Battalion were preparing to push forward in small parties by short rushes from our left, where touch had been established with the 37th Division
At about the same hour, 2/Lieut. BLACKMORE returned with the information that "D" & "B" Coys. were now merged in one line close up to the road (GAVRELLE Road).
At 10.05 a.m. As no report had come from the right flank, I sent 2 orderlies with a message to Capt. GUTHRIE, commanding "C" Coy., for information as to his exact position.
At 10.30 a.m. A wounded Sergeant - Sergt. A. Brown - came to Battn. H.Q. to report that "D" & "B" Coys. , were up to the GAVRELLE Road when he was hit, and at
10.35 a.m. a runner who had lost his way, returned with a message written by Capt. GUTHRIE, "C" Coy. at 8.30 a.m., stating that he was then in the BLACK LINE.
At 11.15 a.m. I sent my Adjutant, Lieut. J. RUTHERFORD and 2/Lieut. MENZIES to get exact information as to the position of each Coy., and shortly after their departure a message came from "D" Coy, now under 2/Lieut. CAMPBELL, to say that 2/Lieut. BUTLER, the "D" Coy. Commander was killed and that the remainder of "D" Coy., about 40 men, were holding the line of the road about I.7.c.7.5., but that further advance was not possible owing to snipers from the forward slopes of GREENLAND HILL and also from M.G.s in the same locality, and from the CHEMICAL WORKS.
Between 3 and 4 p.m. the Germans could be seen forming up in lines of Platoons for counter attack on our positions on and in advance of the GAVRELLE Road, but although they attempted to advance on 3 distinct and separate occasions, their efforts broke down under artillery fire and also the fire of our Lewis Guns from the line of the GAVRELLE Road.
These counter attacks never looked like succeeding, and were very half hearted
We gradually got [in] touch with all 4 Companies on the line of the road and at 4 p.m. 2/Lieut. MENZIES and Lieut. RUTHERFORD returned having established the positions of the Companies on and about the road.
The situation, as it became known, was at once reported to Brigade H.Q. It was now known that 2/Lieutenant BUTLER, Commanding "D" Coy. and 2/Lieut. MACBETH (Commanding "A" Coy.) and 2/Lieut. GARVIE were killed and 2/Lieut. CONDER, commanding "B" Coy., wounded.
The situation continued the same until 7 p.m. when I received orders verbally and personally from the Brigade Commander to reform the 6th Black Watch in the old German front line, and to endeavour to reform the 6th Gordon Highlanders on the same alignment. I ordered Capt. GUTHRIE, the senior officer on the spot, to do this and he reported that this had been done, to me at 1.30 a.m. on 24th April.
24/4/17 The Battalion remained in this position until ordered to withdraw to the PUDDING Trench, which was carried out by driblets, and without further casualties, by 3 p.m. Orders for the Battn. to move to billets at ARRAS, were received at 9.30 p.m. 24th April, and the whole Battalion arrived there by midnight.

CASUALTIES (As far as at present verified).

Killed Wounded Missing
O. RANKS 25 123 48

T. M. Booth. Lt. Col.
Commanding, 6th Black Watch

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