A man of D Company
Account of The 3rd Ypres
Wauchope in “A History of the Black Watch in the Great War” quotes “a man of D company” in the 6th Battalion:
“At 4 a.m. A company went forward, followed by B and C. Good progress was made despite stubborn resistance from numerous enemy 'pill-boxes'. Here a tank proved of valuable assistance, dealing more effectively with the hidden machine gun nests than the ordinary infantry was able to do.
D company advanced and collected at the Gun-pits in Ferdinand Farm, where Colonel Booth, making a personal reconnaissance, found between thirty and forty men assembled. With two sergeants he proceeded over the Steenbeek after inspecting the position, established four posts, which were afterwards placed under the command of Second Lieutenant Drummond. Numerous small parties reported to this nucleus until the force holding the bridge-head was about 50 strong.
For a time all went well, and attempts were made to render the position which had been occupied beyond the Steenbeek a formidable one. But towards three o'clock in the afternoon the enemy was observed massing near Langemarck village. Counter-attack after counter-attack was delivered and repulsed. The enemy waited for further reinforcements which could be clearly seen coming up, again attacked and was again repulsed. But the plight of the mere handful of the 6th whose lot had been to push forward into that advanced position was momentarily becoming more desperate. Ammunition was running short. A Welsh regiment on the left had fallen back. There was no connection n the right. What was to be done? There was nothing for it but to withdraw, temporarily at least. Word was passed for the men to make, one at a time, for the German Gun-pits on the other side of the river. Those who came through bear witness that it was one of the most terribly exciting moments of their lives. Stumbling through the mud, falling, rising, pressing on, while the enemy, barely 100 years away, stood up and took deliberate aim at them - memories of the Great War which no length of time will ever blot out.
In one of the enemy's abandoned 'pill-boxes' at the 'Gun-pits', Company Headquarters was established. The 'position', one which dominated the Steenbeek, was consolidated. Another counter-attack on the part of the Boche proved unavailing, being broken up mainly by a destructive barrage from the other side. Patrols were put out to prevent the river being recrossed, but no attempt was made to renew the struggle.
Thus ended one of the most courageous offensives ever engaged in by the 6th Battalion The Black Watch, though it is doubtful if the gain of it was commensurate to the losses sustained and the heroism displayed."
The losses suffered by the 6th in this battle were one officer, Captain R.J. Menzies, killed, and eight wounded, 50 other ranks killed and 234 wounded and nine missing. The awards for gallantry included three Military Crosses, two Distinguished Conduct Medals, one bar to the Military Medal, and 12 Military Medals.