Jerseys China 31st Week at War - Page 3

To the Somme June - July 1916 - 31st Week at War


31st Week at War - 1st July - 7th July St Hilaire - Val De Maision - Puchevillers - Franvillers - Heilly - Morlancourt

The 1st July saw the start of the infantry assault on the Somme and the Unit spent the day at Val De Maision, opening a hospital for the sick of the 114th Brigade and also a Divisional Hospital to treat scabies cases. However, an order was received at around noon for the Unit to be prepared to move at six hours notice and at 6.15pm a further order was received to march east with the 114th Brigade at 7pm. The Unit quickly packed up and, within 45 minutes, all the wagons were packed, the canvas struck and hospital cases evacuated with the exception of the scabies cases who marched with the Unit. A billeting party was sent to the Brigade HQ and received orders to proceed to the billeting area at Puchevillers. The Unit was stood to from 7pm until 10pm when the order to march was received. On arrival at Puchevillers, the Unit relieved the 129th Field Ambulance, took over their billets and also 26 patients left there.

Puchevillers Route d'Amiens

48563 Pte Ieuan Phillips reported sleeping on a chair in a kitchen and waking at 3.30am as there was too much excitement to sleep. Wounded men were arriving at the CCS in their hundreds, British as well as Germans. The sick of the 38th (Welsh) division were being cleared to a Rest Station in readiness to go into action at any moment.

At 12.20pm on 2nd July, the OC of 3 Casualty Clearing Station, Lt Col Ray RAMC (T) called on the Unit requesting assistance as a large number of casualties were being admitted into his hospital situated near the railway head at Punchevillers. Col Davies along with five of the Medical Officers and Fifty men of the Unit proceeded to No. 3 CCS to help. There they found a large number of wounded men many with machine gun wounds of the limbs. No 3 CCS had dealt with approximately 1400 cases including about 15 German wounded in the 24 hours 1st - 2nd July. The Medical Officer and Men of the Unit assisting No.3 CCS were relieved by others from the Unit on the evening of the 2nd July while the Unit itself dealt with 3 sick officers and 66 other ranks. 



A further 5 Medical Officers and 55 other ranks from the Unit reported at mid day on the 3rd July to the OC No. 3 CCS with the offer from Col Davies that they be used to assist as a large number of casualties were still waiting in convoys of ambulances for admission. After the wounded men had been inspected by the Medical Officers of the Unit, they were given food and drink by the orderlies of the Unit.

At 4pm the Unit received orders to move to Franvillers with the 114th Brigade that evening and they marched out of Puchevillers at 7.55pm and arrived at their new location at 1.05 on the 4th July, a delay being caused by a large column of artillery passing through Franvillers. The Unit War diary records that 037001 Driver Walter Alderson ASC from Caerphilly, attached to the Unit required evacuation to the CCS. 

British walking wounded

At Franvillers, the Unit was billeted in scattered barns and lofts and received orders to be prepared to move from 10.00am onwards. At 4.00pm, orders were received to send a billeting party to Heilly and Lieut Buckley was detailed for this duty. The Unit finally moved off at about 9pm and marched with the 114th Brigade behind the 14th Welsh, arriving at Heilly at 10.30pm where they were accommodated in a marshy wood in canvas huts. On the evening of the 4th, the Unit received orders from the A.D.M.S that it was to close as a hospital, the final preparation for the Battle ahead.

The 5th July onwards is continued on 'Battle of Mametz Wood 5th - 12th July 1916'