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Notes of Field Inquiry ...

From the Notes of the Field Inquiry into the accidental shooting of Sgt R Clemitson - 17 September 1916


3rd Witness -  Private W Buston
On the night of 15/16 Sept., I think about 9.30 pm I was out on patrol with Sgt Clemitson, when we came across some telephone wires, which we tracked for about  20 º in northerly direction.  Sgt Clemitson cut a piece off when a flare went up, both from ours and the German lines.   Fire was opened upon us from D Company lines, in my opinion.  We then got back into the ditch and crawled towards our lines.  When about 5 yards off the wire, Sgt Clemitson shouted “Hullo Durhams”.   We got no answer, we came out of the ditch and crawled as to try to get through the wire, when a shot was fired from our lines.  Sgt Clemitson fell and said he was hit.   We then helped him up.

Lieutenant J CV Boddy  - Officer Commanding D Company
At 9.30 pm a patrol of C Company consisting of Sgt Clemitson & two or three others was fired upon by the night sentry group of D Company by mistake for a party of Germans.  Sqt Clemitson was wounded.

The mistake arose through the group not having been warned about this patrol.  The attached message was received by them from C Company at about stand-to this evening, and at the same time word was received that the Stokes * guns & Medium Trench Mortars were going to fire at 8.45 pm, which necessitated delay in sending out D Company wiring parties & patrols.    I left D Company HQ and made arrangements for D Company parties not to go out until 9.30 pm and the message from C Company in the meantime was not attended to. 

* The Stokes trench mortar, developed by Sir Wilfred Scott-Stokes (1860 -1927).

I am indebted to Anne Smart for tracing these papers in the National Archives.