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5th Battalion the Gordon Highlanders 

Details of a Trench Raid - 1st March 1918


The Battalion War Diary outlines details of a trench raid organised to take place on 1st March 1918. The aim of the raid was to take a German prisoner. (See the information from the raid's leader, Captain Mort, below.)

The following  notes, from a Diary entry dated 1st February, show the early planning, and the names of the men involved.
I have added some additional information about some of the men and some details about their subsequent fate.
The notes are not copied in their entirety, and I've included only those bits I found of most interest. 
Unfortunately the Diary does not indicate if the Raid was successful in its objective.

At 7p.m. 1st March the undermentioned men, under the orders of 2nd Lt J Mort (Sgt Liddell, 2nd in Command) will leave our front line to raid the German Trenches.

The Raiding Party will consist of 1 Officer, 7 NCOs and 36 men, divided into the following parties:-

Canvas Party ..............      1 NCO and 6 men
Rt Assaulting Party ....       1 NCO and 6 men
Lt Assaulting Party..........   1 NCO and 6 men
Rt Centre Dugout Party.... 1 NCO and 4 m4n
Lt Centre Dugout Party..... 1 NCO and 4 m4n
Stretcher Bearers...............1 NCO and 8 men


Canvas Party
1. To throw canvas over wire.
2. To improve entrance with wire cutters.
3. To cover the assaulting party.
4. To act as guides for the assaulting party returning.
5. To check the names of those returning.
6. To remain until the assaulting party have withdrawn.
7. In the event of any man being missing, to organise a counter attack so as to save or ascertain the fate of the missing man.

Right and Left Assault Parties
1. To proceed rapidly along the trench to right and left respectively until they reach the first enemy Post.
2. To capture the Post and bring back a prisoner.
3. To hand over the prisoner to the Orderlies.

Right and Left Dugout Parties
1. To proceed to right and left respectively and to each dugout in turn, throwing "P" Bombs down both entrances

1. To bring back prisoner.
2. To have wire cord ready to bind the prisoner.
3. To act as Orderly to Officer i/c and 2nd in Command.
4. To carry 150x of wire cord to be used as a guide line for party to point of ingress.

Codes and Counter Signs:

"ABERDEEN FOREVER" will be the Code used as the signal for withdrawal.
"EDINBURGH" will be the Code Call for Stretcher Bearers and will be answered by "GLASGOW" or vice versa.
"FRASERBURGH" answered by "PETERHEAD" will be the Sign and Counter sign or vice versa.

Administrative arrangements
At 4.30 pm Canteen arrangements will be made to ensure the Party having a hot meal, with extras, prior to moving off.
A rum issue will be given to the Party on their return.

The Raiding Party as detailed below, will be taken out of the line to undergo training. They will be accommodated at Battalion HQ


  Officer in Charge:  2/Lt J Mort MM

  Number  Name   Rank  Company

 Casualty/ Role
during Raid 

 Additional Information 


  242510  Anderson, Robert   Pte   A Coy    POW 21/3/1918  Dundee -
b. 16/9/89
  S/4137  Berry, James  Pte   A Coy


  2403277   Bruce, Alexander  L/Cpl   D Coy


  S/41281   Budd, Oliver   Pte   D Coy


  240713   Burns, Peter   Pte   B Coy    POW 21/3/1918 Fraserburgh
  292570   Chalmers, James   Pte   A Coy     Killed 28/7/1918Peterhead
  242723   Clubb, Alexander   Pte   C Coy     POW 21/3/1918Strichen -
b. 3/4/97
  S/1990   Duncan, John   Pte   C Coy


  242193   Farquhar, William   Pte    A Coy


  260018   Hodgson, Mark   Pte   C Coy     POW 21/3/1918  
  S/41296   Houston, Andrew   Pte   D Coy     POW 21/3/1918  
  241141   Kelman, Henry   Pte   B Coy     Killed 2/4/1918Fraserburgh
  S/13685   Knox, Robert M   Pte   C Coy      
  202836   Leslie, George   Pte   A Coy      
  260197   Liddell, Bennet   Sgt   B Coy

  2nd i/c.

 Received GSW to thigh and femur in raid.
 Dangerously ill Rouen. 
  202994   Littlejohn, Hugh   Pte   A Coy

  Stretcher Bearer

  242206   Lumsden, Louis   Pte   D Coy     POW 21/3/1918Edderon, Rosshire
 b. 8/7/95 
 260168   McBeth (McBeath),
  Pte   C Coy      
 S/18611    McDonald, David   Pte   D Coy    Killed 21/3/1918Auchterless
 240369   McGregor, William
  L/Cpl   B Coy     Killed 21/3/1918Inverurie
  266802   McRobbie, Alex  Pte   B Coy

 Stretcher Bearer

  Died of wounds in German hands   
New Pitsligo
  S/41304   Miller, John   Pte   B Coy    POW 21/3/1918 Larkhall b. 29/6/98
  240330   Milne, James   Cpl   A Coy


  242060   Mitchell, Andrew R   Pte   A Coy

 Stretcher Bearer

 Gassed - March 1918
 Wounded - July 1918 
    Mort, James  2/Lt  

 Officer i/c - Wounded

  POW 21/3/1918Tarves
  240517   Murray, Henry   Pte   C Coy

  Stretcher Bearer 

  Died of wounds 26/3/1918Old Meldrum
  202020   Norrie, A (Josh A)   Pte   D Coy      
  242491   Ogg, Charles   Pte   D Coy

 Stretcher Bearer 

  POW 21/3/1918Aberdeen
b. 25/12/95 
 263029   Paterson, Ivie   Cpl   C Coy     Wounded 12/4/1918  
 202383   Petrie, George   Pte   C Coy      
 241208  Pirie, Alexander    Pte   B Coy     POW 21/3/1918New Pitsligo 16/8/97
 241970   Pirie, Alexander   Cpl   D Coy


  S/41321   Ratcliff, Patrick   Pte   D Coy


  242630   Scott, William 
  Pte    C Coy

(Died of wounds  2/3/1918)

 S /19984    Shivas, Robert  Pte   C Coy


 240126   Sim, John A   Cpl   B Coy


  240671  Sinclair, George 
  Pte   B Coy     Killed 21/3/1918Fraserburgh
  242347  Stewart, Robert    Pte   B Coy

Stretcher Bearer

  POW - 21/3/1918 
  Died on hospital ship 29/12/1918
 242456  Thomson, David
 Pte   C Coy

 Stretcher Bearer

   Died of wounds 29/7/1918Torryburn
  240256   Thomson, John  L/Cpl   A Coy


  203765  Walker, George 
  Pte   A Coy     POW 21/3/1918Elgin b. 12/1/96
 240531   Watson. Henry G  L/Cpl   A Coy  Stretcher Bearer    Wounded 27/6/1918Ellon
  242541   Wood, George  Pte   B Coy     POW 2/3/1918Bervie b. 23/8/94
  202191   Wright, Games A   Pte   A Coy      
  241425   Young, Harry   Pte   D Coy   Stretcher Bearer   POW 21/3/1918Dundee b. 4/9/95 

  From the memoirs of Captain James Mort M M., 5th Gordon Highlanders

Some years after the war Captain Mort wrote an account of the days immediately preceding the German attack on March 21st 1918, and of his experiences as a POW. This is now held at the Imperial War Museum.
What follows is his brief description of the trench raid of 1st March, which he commanded.

March 1918 - on the Saint Quentin front at Gricourt - component of the 61st Division (the Sixty Worst). 3rd class material. In the waiting period of the much advertised Great German Offensive to end the war.

I commanded an early trench raid to confirm identification of the German units opposite - I was the only officer in the battalion to volunteer and although a company commander, the CO accepted my offer. One junior officer should have been detailed. The distance between front lines then at some points would be 600 - 700 yards.  For the raid no gun bombardment to advertise.  Near fatal daylight raiding - asking for suicide. Raided a German frontline sap through uncut wire - losing men purposelessly - one missing - one killed - several wounded and no one in the sap to capture and identify.  Returned after hours to own front line without vital information.

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