The offensive, which was to prove disastrous for the 22nd, was the struggle for Oppy Wood in May 1917. This was a dense patch of forest which contained nests of German machine guns and trench mortars. The 22nd Battalion had failed to dislodge the Germans from this strategic position and casualties had been high. And to top it all the Germans had launched gas attacks to finish off any survivors lying out wounded in No Man’s Land. Colonel Barker’s letter to the Mayor of Kensington continues in an unsurprisingly despairing vein, ‘I am very depressed at losing all my gallant friends … Haven’t closed my eyes for 48 hours, so tell any doctor that says it’s an impossibility that he’s a liar’.