The Ypres Salient - CWGC

Around noon the 2nd Divisionís reserve, 2nd Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (informally known as the '2nd Ox and Bucks'), then at Westhoek, were ordered to clear Nonne Bosschen wood by Lieutenant-Colonel Westmacott (Commander of 5th Brigade); J or E Battery, Royal Horse Artillery in action near Wyteschaete, October 1914simultaneously this same battalion, which comprised a mere 300 men, was requested to assist 1st Divisionís reserve to regain trenches lost by the Scots Guards and Cameron Highlanders.

The Commanding Officer of the 2nd Ox & Bucks (Lieutenant-Colonel Davies) decided to clear Nonne Bosschen first and moved his battalion up from Westhoek as fast as conditions allowed - the rain and heavy shelling had contrived to produce quantities of mud and progress was inevitably difficult and slow. Arriving just before 3pm Lieutenant-Colonel Davies sent two of his companies into the wood, with two more behind them, in a resolute counter-attack which was supported, from Glencorse Wood to the south-west, by a company of Northamptons. The attackers were also assisted by 5th Field Company (Royal Engineers) and two field batteries of artillery lent important fire support.

The tired and disorganised Germans were quickly overcome. Those that fled were shot down by the Northamptons as they broke cover but the 2nd Ox and Bucks progress to regain the original front line positions was cruelly checked by French batteries to the north who, unaware of the progress of the counter-attack, raked the Light Infantry with deadly shrapnel shells and brought all forward movement to a halt. By early evening, as heavy rain fell, the British line had re-established, and now ran along the eastern edge of Herenthage Woods, past Glencorse Wood and the forward edge of Nonne Bosschen to Polygon Wood.

The day's fighting had produced heavy casualties among the three depleted Scottish battalions of 1st (Guards) Brigade: they mustered only 300 survivors at the end of the day; but in the dramatic counter-attack led by the 2nd Ox and Bucks that battalion had only five men killed and 22 wounded.


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