Flag The Hampstead Heavies
138th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery


Bully les Mines
(04/16 - 05/17)

Belgian Coast
(06/17 - 12/17)

N France and
(12/17 - 02/18)

Offensive (03/18)

(04/18 - 07/18)

Allied Offensive
(08/18 - 11/18)>

Ypres,  May - June 1917

After two days at Houchin spent re-equipping, the Left Section marched out on 18 May 1917 and reached new wagon lines at Vlamertinghe, 4 kms west of Ypres, on 22 May. The Section went into action at Ypres the following day in a dangerous position, between the Cloth Hall and Prison, where hostile shelling seldom ceased and within a few days had suffered a number of casualties including one fatality. The other two Sections joined the Left Section in the same position on 2 June having arrived at Vlamertinghe from Houchin the previous night.

The Ypres position was especially dangerous as there was no safe cover, a piece of corrugated iron being all that was available to shield the majority of men. A large amount of ammunition had been stored close to the Battery's position, indicating that a major action was imminent, but the dump was destroyed by enemy fire before the battle of Messines began around 3am on 7 June 1917.

Prior to the British attack at Messines, mines (which had been placed under the German front line) were exploded causing a spectacular pyrotechnic display and three huge craters in the top of Wytschaete Ridge. The Battery joined in the intense bombardment which followed the explosion, the guns firing continuously for most of the day. On 8 June, the Battery was heavily bombarded with gas shells and the following day E Sub Section gun was severely damaged by a direct hit and a large amount of ammunition destroyed. Orders to pull the five remaining guns out of this dangerous position were received on 10 June, the actual withdrawal being carried out with difficulty over the next two days. Severe shelling made it necessary to abandon three guns which were subsequently recovered under cover of darkness.

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