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Full text of "Breaking the Hindenburg line : the story of the 46th (North Midland) Division / with an introduction by G. F. Boyd"

BREAKING THE HINDENBURG LINE 
THE STORY OF THE 
46TH (NORTH MIDLAND) DIVISION 



BREAKING THE 
HINDENBURG LINE 

THE STORY OF THE 
46TH (NORTH MIDLAND) DIVISION 

B¥ 
MAJOR R. E. PRIESTLEY, M.C., R.E. 

WlTH AN INTRODUCTION BY 
MAJOR-GENERAL G. F. BOYD, C.B., 
C.M.G., D.S.O., D.C.M. 

WlTH TWO MAPS AND SEVENTEEN ILLUSTRATIONS 

LONDON: T. FISHER UNWIN, LTD. 
ADELPHI TERRACE 



I«tvt #ublished in September 1919 
Secod impression, November I9I 9 

AIL R[GI-It$ 12.-ERVED 



TO 
OUR COMRADES WHO HAVE FALLEN IN 
THE GREAT ADVENTURE 
MAY WE PROVE WORHY Ot t HEM 
IN THE DAYS TO COME 



FOREWORD 

IIAJOR PRIESTLEY'S book is not intended as an official 
record; nevertheless it affords a graphic and accurate 
account of what took place on a small but decisive 
sector of the Western front during the " Battles of the 
Hundred Days." 
It was my good fortune to take over command of the 
North Midland Division at a critical moment of its 
career, and ust belote we marched south to join General 
Sir H. Rawlinson's Fourth Army. To my predecessor, 
Major-General W. Thwaites, must be ascribed the 
credit of having organized and trained the Division into 
a fighting machine in which every officer and man was 
imbued with a real soldier's spirit. 
Itis to this fixed determination to win through at all 
costs, regardless of incidents on flank and in rear, that I 
mainly attribute the successes won by the Division. 
We joined the IX Corps, commanded by Lieut.-Gen. 
Sir Walter Braithwaite, and consisting of three distin- 
guished fighting units, but the 46th were determined 
to make a naine for themselves second to none. 
No man can say that they failed. 
GERALD F. Boxro, 
Major-General. 

il 



CONTENTS 

INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER 
OUTLINE OF THE PREVIOUS I-IISTORV OF TI-IE 46TI-I 
(NORTH MIDLAND) DIVISION, 1914-1918. . 
BY LIEUTENANT-COLONEL T. C. NEWBOLD» D.S.O.» 
T.D. (X/STH SHERWOODS), AND MAJOR E. A. 
LEWIS, D.S.O. R.E. 

17 

PART II 
THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 
IV. THE VICTORY AT RAMICOURT o o • 81 
V. ENEMY COUNTER-ATTACKS REPULSED--THE 
ADVANCE TO BOHAIN .... II0 
I3 

PART I 
THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 
(29th September, 1918) 
I. PRELIMINARY OPERATIONS AND PREPARATIONS 
FOR THE ATTACK ..... 22 
II. THE STAFFORDS CROSS THE ST. QUENTIN CANAL 
AND BREACH THE HINDENBURG LINE • 44 
III: SUCCESS EXPLOITED BY SHERWOODS, LINCOLNS, 
AND LEICESTERS ..... 61 



I4 CONTENTS 

PART III 
THE BATTLE OF ANDIGNY 
CltAPTER 
VI. THE CLEARING OF THE BOIS DE RIQUERVAL AND 
THE BATTLE OF ANDIGNY LES FERMES . 

132 

PART IV 
THE LAST PHASE: CATILLON TO SAINS 
vII. THE ADVANCE TO SAINS DU NORD 158 

APPENDICES 

I. GERMAN DIVISIONS ENCOUNTERED AND DE- 
FEATED BY THE 46TH DIVISION BETWEEN 
THE 24TH SEPTEMBER AND THE IITH NOV- 
EMBER, 1918 

II. CASUALTIES BETWEEN THE 24TIa SEPTEMBER 
AND THE IITH NOVEMBER, 1918 

III. IMMEDIATE REWARDS GRANTED TO THE DIVI- 
SION FROM 24TH SEPTEMBER TO IITH 
NOVEMBER, 1918 . 
IV. ORDER OF BATTLE, 28TH FEBRUARY, 1915 
V. ORDER OF BATTLE, 29TH SEPTEMBER, 1918 

INDEX . 

174 

175 

176 
177 
18o 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE V INSPECTING THE BATTLE- 
FIELD OF BELLENGLISE Frontispiece 
PAC/G PAGE 
CAPTAIN J. C. GREEN, V.C., R.A.M.C. (T.), AND 
CAPTAIN C. G. VICKERS, V.C., EARLY V.C HEROES 
OF THE 4@H DIVISION . 18 
LIEUTENANT J. C. BARRETT, V.Ç., I/STH LEICESTERS. 
SEVERELY WOUNDED IN THE ATTACK ON PONTRUET, 
AND AWARDED THE VICTORIA CROSS FOR HIS 
BRAVERY AND LEADERSHIP DURING THE ACTION . 28 
AIR PHOTOGRAPH OF THE ST. QUENTIN CANAL AT 
BELLENGLISE, SHOWING THE DEFENCE SYSTEM TO 
THE EAST OF THE CANAL AND THE GERMAN BRIDGES 32 
ST. QUENTIN CANAL, SHOWING THE BRICK FACING OF 
THE CANAL AND ITS STEEP BANKS. IN THE DISTANCE 
THE REMAINS OF A GERMAN FOOTBRIDGE 34 
BRIGADIER-GENERAL J. V. CAMPBELL, V.C.» C.M.G., 
D.S.O., BRIGADE COMMANDER I37Tt{ INFANTRY 
BRIGADE . 44 
AIR PHOTOGRAPH OF BELLENGLISE AND THE ST. QUENTIN 
CANAL FROM ABOVE THE HINDENBURG DEFENCES 
WEST OF THE CANAL * • 56 
ST. QUENTIN CANAL WITH REOUEVAL BRIDGE. FROM 
THIS PICTURE THE VALUE OF CAPTAIN CHARLTON'S 
WORK IN PRESERVING THE BRIDGE FROM DES- 
TRUCTION IS WELL SEEN 

I5 

58 



16 ILLUSTRATIONS 
FACI'O pA( 
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL B. W. VANN, V.C., M.C., I/6TH 
SHERWOODS. KILLED IN ACTION AT THE BATTLE 
OF RAMICOURT . 7 ° 

MAJOR-GENERAL G. F. BOYD, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., 
D.C.M., G.O.C. 46TIt DIVISION . 72 
SERGEANT W. H. JOHNSON, V.C., I/5TH SHERWOODS. 
THE HERO OF THE ATTACK ON THE BEAUREVOIR- 
FONSOMME LINE 9 8 

LANCE -CORPORAL W. H. COLTMAN, V.C., D.C.M., M.M., 
I/6TI NORTH STAFFORDS, WHOSE CONSTANT 
BRAVERY IN ACTION HAS ADDED A GLORIOUS 
PAGE TO THE HISTORY OF THE 46TI DIVISION 

118 

BRIGADIER-GENERAL F. G. M. ROWLEY, C.M.G., 
D.S.O., BRIGADE COMMANDER I38TH INFANTRY 
BRIGADE 

I26 

BRIGADIER-GENERAL SIR HILL CHILD, C.M.G., D.S.O., 
C.R.A. 46TIt DIVISION ..... 142 

BRIGADIER-GENERAL J. HARINGTON, D.S.O., BRIGADE 
COMMANDER I39TH INFANTRY BRIGADE I60 

MEMORIAL CROSS ERECTED ON THE HIGH GROUND NEAR 
BELLENGLISE IN MEMORY OF THE FALLEN OF THE 
46Ttt DIVISION . . 

172 



BREAKING THE HINDENBURG 
LINE 

INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER 

OUTLINE OF THE PREVIOUS HISTORY OF THE 46TH (NORTH 
MIDLAND) DIVISION IN THE WAR 

IN writing this introductory chapter it should at once be 
stated that it is not in any way intended to be a history 
of the Division since its arrival in France, nor does it 
attempt to do justice to the bravery and tenacity ex- 
hibited at ail times during the years it was on the 
Western front. It is just an attempt to outline its doings 
and movements from the time of its mobilization until, 
in September 1918, it joined the Fourth Army 

The 46th Division, which was responsible for what was 
described in the Press as the " Miracle of the War," and 
whose exploits during the" Hundred Days" are described 
in the following chapters, is one of the pre-war Territorial 
Divisions. 
In days of peace it was known as the North Midland 
Division, and was composed of men from the counties of 
Derby, Nottingham, Lincoln, Leicester, and Stafford. It 
was then commanded by Major-General the Hon. E. J. 
Montagu-Stuart-Wortley, C.B., C.M.G., M.V.O., D.S.O. 
On the outbreak of war the Division mobilized, its 
9 X7 



18 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
headquarters being first at Derby, and afterwards at 
Luton and Bishop's Stortford. After less than seven 
months' training in England it was ordered to France in 
February 1915, enjoying the distinction of being the 
first complete Territorial Division to arrive in any 
theatre of war. 
In less than two weeks after its arrival the Division 
was placed in reserve for the Battle of Neuve-Chapelle, 
I2th-I3th March, 1915, but was not used. It received 
ifs baptism of tire at Ploegsteert, and later took over 
the line in front of Kemmel and Neuve-Eglise, whence 
its next move was to the Ypres salient. Here it settled 
down for nearly four months, part of which was spent 
in front of the notorious Hill 60. 
Whilst in this area the first " Flammenwerfer " attack 
ruade by the enemy was launched on the Division on 
its left, which, stunned by the unexpectedness of the 
new weapon, recoiled, leaving the left flank of the 46th 
Division in the air. What might have been a serious 
disaster was averted by the stubborn fighting of the 
I39th Brigade. 
The Division was next moved to the Bethune area, 
and on the I3th October, 1915, it relieved the Guards 
Division and ruade an attack on " The Quarries " and 
"" Fosse 8." This was the first big attack the 46th Division 
had been called upon to perform. The casualties were 
very high, reducing its strength by nearly one-half. 
In December 1915 the Division was selected to proceed 
to Egypt, and two Brigades actually arrived there. The 
orders were then countermanded, however, the Brigades 
were recalled, and the whole Division returned to the 
North of France in February 1916. Here they took over 
the line belote the famous Vimy Ridge, which was at that 
rime in the hands of the enemy. The unit relieved was 



HISTORY OF THE 46Tri DIVISION 19 
a famous French Division, and this was the first time 
British troops had held this particular sector of the line. 
The next big effort demanded of the 46th Division 
was the attack on Gommecourt, a village which was the 
apex of the most westerly portion of the enemy line at 
that time. The attack, which was carried out on the 
Ist July, 1916 , was the extreme left of the great Somme 
offensive, and had been foreseen by the enemy and was 
not successful. Very heavy casualties were again sus- 
tained, and no gain of ground was made. It is pleasant 
to record in parenthesis that in 1917 it was the privilege 
of the 46th Division to chase the Germans out of the 
village where so many of their comrades had fought their 
last fight only a few months belote. 
Whilst following up the retiring army in this area, there 
was on March I3th, I917, some sharp fighting, as he took 
up a position in a strongly-wired trench known as 
Rettemoy Graben. This position, after being bombarded 
for a day, was attacked by the 5th North Stafiords and 
5th South Stafiords ; the 7th Division attacking on their 
right, with Bucquoy as their objective. 
The attack was made at ix p.m. on a very dark 
night, but owing to the wire only being partially cut 
(due to the limited rime at the disposal of the Artillery), 
and the enemy fighting a very stubborn rearguard action, 
the attack was unsuccessful, and the two battalions 
mentioned suffered heavy casualties. 
In March 19I 7 the Division relieved the 24th Division 
in front of Lens in the Lievin sector, and it remained 
thêre for four months. During this rime much hard 
fighting took place, which culminated in the operations 
of July Ist, I9I 7. From the rime the sector was taken 
over the line was advanced an average of 2,çoo yards, 
and the ground captured included Cité St. Edwazd, Cité 



20 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
St. Theodore, Cité Jeanne d'Arc, Cité de Riaumont, the 
I3ois de Lievin, the I3ois de Riaumont, and the important 
tactical point Hill 65. 
For the next fourteen months the Division was engaged 
in trench warfare in various parts of the Cambrai-Lens 
front, during which time the Canadian Corps on its im- 
mediate right, assisted by the 46th Divisional Artillery, 
made their successful attack on Hill 7 o. During this 
action the Infantry of the Division broke up at least one 
of the enemy's counter-attacks by enfilade tire, causing 
many casualties. From this neighbourhood the next 
move was to the Givenchy area, where a line was taken 
over between the Lawe Canal and Givenchy, including the 
famous Route "A " Keep, which had a few weeks earlier 
been so gallantly defended by the 5 5 th Division when they 
stemmed the German offensive in this part of the line. 
During this long spell of trench warfare, " raiding " 
became the order of the day. Major-General W. Thwaiteso 
C.13., who had assumed command shortly after the 13attle 
of Gommecourt, was a keen disciplinarian and a popular 
leader. He encouraged, and indeed insisted upon, " raid- 
ing" to the utmost, as being the type of warfare best 
calculated to improve the offensive spirit of the men. 
Many very clever coups were effected during the next 
fifteen months. Numerous prisoners vere captured 
in these raids, which materially assisted the process 
of wearing down the enemy moral. This system of 
training improved the fighting condition and capacity of 
the Division to such an extent that former reverses 
weie forgotten, or remembered only in the determination 
to wipe them out by achieving decisive success in the 
future. The 46th Division arrived at the scene of the 
actions described in the following chapters as hard as 
nails and fit for anything. 



HISTORY OF THE 46"ri-I DIVISION 21 
General Thwaites handed over fo his successor, Major- 
General G. F. Boyd, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., D.C.M., a 
fighting force which proved itself thoroughly efficient, 
and whose deeds in the last and most decisive months 
of the Great War will lire in history. 
During the operations outlined in this chapter the 
46th Division had served in the First, Second, Third, and 
Fifth Armies, and in the I, II, III, V, VII, XI, XIII, 
XIV, XVII, and XVIII Corps. Though called on fo 
defend some of the most important parts of the Western 
front, hot one inch of ground was ever lost. 
The severity of the fighting in which the Division has 
been engaged during the War is best seen from an ex- 
amination of its casualty list. The total losses between 
February 1915 and November Ilth, 1918, were: 

Killed 
Wounded . 
Missing . 

Total 

Officers. Other Ianks. 
275 3,475 
i, lO4 21,285 
• 123 3,307 
1,5o2 28,o67 

Such figures do indeed speak for themselves. 



THE 

PART I 
BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 
(.9th September, I918 ) 

CHAPTER I 

PRELIMINARY OPERATIONS AND PREPARATIONS 
FOR THE ATTACK 

" AT an hour and date to be notified later, the 46th 
Division, as part of a maor operation, will cross the 
St. Quentin Canal, capture the Hindenburg Line, and 
advance to a position shown on the attached Map A." 
Such was the opening paragraph of the preliminary 
order issued by the General Staff on the 25th September, 
notifying all concerned of the general scope of the opera- 
tion which was fated to bring faine to the Division. Af 
this period of the war the eyes of the whole of Europe 
were focussed in the main on one thing and one thing 
only. Would the Hindenburg Line suffice, as the Germans 
hoped and believed, to hold up the (up to that rime) 
irresistible ride of conquest sweeping back slowly but 
steadily across France; or would that last bulwark of 
German Imperialism be broken asunder like lesser ob- 
stades, and trampled underfoot by the victorious Armiez 
ot the Allies ? The answer fo that question was to be 
given on the 29th September, and in the solving of the 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 23 
problem the 46th Division was destined to play a glorious 
and decisive part. 
The General Staff, who, under instructions from the 
IX Corps, had planned the attack, and who had better 
means of estimating such doubtful features as the moral 
of the forces opposed to us and the general disposition 
of the enemy's forces, may have been confident of 
success. Many, however, who could only judge from 
direct observation of the enemy's positions, or from 
aeroplane photographs, were of opinion that the Division 
had been given an impossible task. 
At the best it seemed likely that the efforts and sacri- 
fices of the 46th Division might pin down the enemy 
on the Bellenglise front, and attract his reserves, whilst 
the Americans and Australians broke through on the left, 
where they were faced with no natural obstacle. 
If this northern attack succeeded, the resultant pressure 
on-the enemy's front to the north might-then save the 
situation on the Bellenglise front, and enable the 46th 
Division fo get forward ata later period. 
The sequel was to show which of these opinions was 
j ustified, and incidentally to adroit for ever the daim 
of the 46th Division tobe classed with what the Germans 
would call " Sturmtruppen." 
On the I2th September, 1918, after fifteen months of 
almost continuous defensive warfare, the Division moved 
from the Bethune area to the neighbourhood of Beau- 
court sur l'Hallue and passed into G.H.Q. reserve for a 
few days' rest and training before proceeding into action 
near the southern limit of the British front. 
On the 2Ist September, after one or two days in the 
Tertry area, where the Division was still in reserve while 
the various Commanders were reconnoitring their future 
area and the various preparations for the hand-over were 



24 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
made, the relief of part of the Ist and 4th Australian 
Divisions by the 46th Division was carried out, and ail 
ranks settled down fo learn the new area in which they 
were to fight. 
The new front line consisted of some 2,500 to 3,000 
yards length of an old German trench system to the west 
of the St. Quentin Canal which had been captured from the 
Germans by our predecessors and reorganized by them to 
suit defence in the opposite direction. It formed a splendid 
defensive position and a very fait jumping-off ground for 
any future projected operations against the Canal and 
the immensely strong Hindenburg Line to the east of it. 
At the rime the North Midland Division took over the 
line the enemy still held a strong system of trenches, 
with outposts in advance of them, on the west bank of 
the Canal, which he held in considerable strength and 
which prevented any near reconnaissance of the banks 
and of the approaches to the Canal. This was, however, 
in a measure counteracted by the fact that along the 
greater part of out front out troops were on high ground 
overlooking the German defences. The country to the- 
east of the Canal was spread out belote their eyes like 
a map, only the valleys being concealed from view by 
the ridges between them and out line. 
From vantage positions on our front line almost the 
whole extent of the Canal opposite to us could be seen. 
and the villages of Nauroy and Levergies, the latter of 
which was to become intimately known to the Division 
in the future fighting, were plainly visible. Into Bellen- 
glise itself, immediately below out trenches, it appeared 
possible to throw a cricket-ball, and every movement of 
the GeÆmans in the neighbourhood of the Canal and the 
village was plainly to be seen. 
Behind out line the country was of a very open nature, 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 25 
consisting of broad rolling downs intersected by long 
and broad, rather shallow valleys, with very few out- 
standing points or features. Such isolated features of 
the landscape as did strike the eye were a few partially 
destroyed woods and copses, sunken roads, and an occa- 
sional artificial strong point of German origin, the latter 
plainly marked out from the surrounding country by the 
white scars left by the chalky soil thrown out from dug- 
outs and trenches. All round such points, which had 
naturally been favourite targets for out own and--after 
they had passed into out hands--for the German artillery, 
the ground was pock-marked by shell-holes. Their 
neighbourhood was distinctly unhealthy except for the 
inhabitants of the dug-outs, saps, and trenches, which 
were the only shelters available in the vicinitv. 
Perhaps the favourite target for the enemy's guns and 
the most prominent feature of ail was the small conical- 
shaped hill known as the "' Tumulus," which stood near 
the fork of theVadencourt-Bellenglise and the Vadencourt- 
Berthaucourt Roads. This little mound ,,vas a usual 
registration point for the enemy Artillery, and had been 
struck again and again until it stood out as a stark white 
landmark stripped of all its original greenery by the 
impact and blasting action of the shells. Here, especially, 
was a spot near which it was dangerous to linger--trans- 
port ruade their way by the hill at the trot, and no one 
whose business took him in the neighbourhood of the 
hill let the grass grow under his feet. 
Certain of tF.e strong points, such as those at Collin's 
Quarry and Hudson's Post, subsequently became impor- 
tant nodal points in the divisional system of communica- 
tions, while the shelter afforded by the groups of dug-outs, 
in country where otherwise shelter was hot, caused them 
to be chosen as sites for the headquarters of Brigades and 



26 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 

Artillery Groups during the forming up on the night 
previous to the attack. 
As usual in the case of an attack on prepared positions 
of considerable strength, which involved the concentra- 
tion of a large force of artillery and other units not 
normally associated with a Division in the line, one of 
the chier problems to be overcome was the question of 
transportation to and frorn the line. In overcorning this 
difficulty the weather, which rernained in the main dry 
and fine both imrnediately before and during the battle, 
was very helpful. In the sector of the attack the only 
main approaches to the front line were the two metalled 
roads which tan respectively through Le Verguier and 
through Vadencourt ; the latter, which forked into two 
roads just west of the Tumulus, being the main divisional 
line of approach. These in thernselves were not nearly 
sufficient to cope with the forward traffic, but the country 
between them was seamed with " dry-weather tracks," 
which were passable for horse traffic under the weather 
conditions then prevailing, while, in addition, the open 
nature of the country made it unnecessary to keep to 
tracks at all in dry weather. 
Preparation for an attack of any magnitude was rnuch 
hampered by the sharp bend back of the line upon our 
right flank. A glance at the rnap showing the tactical 
situation on the 23rd September betrays at once this 
backward bend of the I3ritish line on the right of the 
front held on that date by the Division. The enemy 
held Pontruet in force, and even had strong posts well 
up in and about the group of farm buildings known as 
St. Helène and situated on the Vadencourt-Bellenglise 
Road. On the 24th September a rninor operation was 
undertaken by the Ist and 6th Divisions on our right, 
having in view the capture of certain high ground in front 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 27 
of their line to the south of Pontruet. As a part of 
this operation the 46th Division was allotted the task 
of capturing Pontruet and the medley of trenches and 
strong-points which were based on this village. 
The main attack was to be carried out by troops detailed 
from the I38th Infantry Brigade, two companies of which 
were ordered to advance from the forming-up line along the 
Vadencourt-Bellenglise Road from St. Helène eastward for 
50o yards; their object being to outflank the village of Pon- 
truet and establish strong-posts due east of it. The advance 
was to be covered by a creeping barrage fired by the rive 
Brigades of Artillery covering the front of the Division. 
Meanwhile, two other companies of the same battalion 
were detailed to clear Pontruet itself, and the I39th 
Infantry Brigade were ordered to provide a mopping-up 
party to deal with certain trenches south-west of the 
village. Ihe Artillery, in addition to the creeping barrage 
covering the assault, were to concentrate on lontruet 
village and strong points in its immediate neighbourhood 
during the early part of the assault. It was thus hoped 
to pin the enemy to his positions until the outflanking 
party had succeeded in reaching their objective, when he 
would be compelled to retreat under enfilade tire from these 
companies. Tactically, the attack, although on a small 
scale, was very prettily conceived ; and it was hoped that 
the whole of the garrison of Pontruet and the trenches 
round it, which were known to be held in force by the 
enemy, would be either captured or killed. 
Al1 preparations having been completed, zero was fixed 
for 5 a.m. on the 24th. At that hour the barrage 
opened and the two companies of the 5th Leicesters, to 
whom was allotted the task of outflanldng the village, 
advanced to the attack. At the same rime the 5th 
Sherwood Foresters ruade an assault on Belx and Ledtc 



28 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
Trenches, and, easily over-running these works and cap- 
turing or killing the garrison of the trenches, endeavoared 
fo enter the village from the south-east. 
Almost af the outset of the attack two Stokes mortars, 
which had been detailed fo assist in the attack from north 
of the village, were knocked out by enemy artillery tire, 
and this hampered the attack from that side materially. 
For some rime the attack sped fairly well, and good 
progress was ruade by out men, who penetrated into the 
northern elements of Pontruet and captured the strongly 
defended cemetery and the blockhouse. "[heir success 
was short-lived, however, for the enemy, reacting strongly 
with fresh reinforcements, bombed their way back down 
the Forgan's Trench--an enemy work running south- 
east and north-west right up the area attacked--and 
drove out men back almost fo the forming-up line, 
forcing us fo give up out hold on the part of Pontruet 
which remained in out hands. Hard fighting continued 
for several hours, but, according to statements of prisoners 
captured from the garrison, the enemy had been expecting 
an attack on Pontruet and was able to bring up strong 
reserves. A second attack in the evening by the 5th 
Leicesters, reinforced by a company of the 5th Sherwood 
Foresters, was repulsed, without out obtaining a footing 
in the village. At 1.4o a.m. on the 25th, the order was 
therefore given fo withdraw from Pontruet, but fo hold on 
fo the captured posts fo the north and west of the village. 
The attack was thus in a great measure a tactical 
failure, though if left out positions somewhat improved. 
If had resulted, however, in the capture of one officer 
and one hundred and thirty-six other ranks, and had given 
the enemy a foretaste of the fighting quality of the 
Division. The moral of the men throughout was ex- 
cellent : they fought with great dash and initiative, and 



LIEUTENANT J. C. BARRENT, ¥.C., I/sTH LEICESTERS. SEVERELY 
VOUNDED IN THE ATTACK ON PONTRUET, AND AVARDED THE 
VICTORIA CROSS FOR }llS BRAVERY AND LEADERSHIP DURING 
THE .OECTION 

Reproduced by courtey of Me=_srs. " hiteley, Ltd. 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 2 9 
held on with tenacity to captured posts against superior 
forces and under heavy shell tire. An instance of the 
good work done is afforded by the behaviour of the crew 
of one of the Stokes mortars knocked out early in the 
fight. Although shaken by the shelling to which they 
had been exposed and discouraged by the loss of their 
gun, these men took to their rifles and fought gallantly 
throughout the action, killing many of the enemy and 
taking several prisoners. 
The hero of the attack on Pontruet, however, was a 
subaltern of the x/5th Leicesters, Lieutenant J. C. Barrett. 
He was the leader of a party attacking the strong and 
stoutly-defended work known as Forgan's Trench. In 
spire of an intense tire from the machine guns and riflemen 
defending the trench, he led a party of men against it, 
and, although wounded in the advance to the attack, he 
succeeded in reaching the trench and sprang into if, 
himself disposing of two machine guns and inflicting 
many casualties. During the mêlLe which followed he 
was again severely wounded, but managed to climb out 
of the trench with the object of finding out his own exact 
position and locating the enemy. This he succeeded in 
doing, and, despite loss of blood and the exhaustion con- 
sequent on his wounds, gave detailed orders fo his men, 
directing them to cut their way back fo their battalion, 
from which they had become isolated. The party man- 
aged fo rejoin their comrades, but during the retreat 
Lieutenant Barrett, who had refused offers of help for 
himself, was again wounded, this rime so seriously that 
he could not more, and was then carried back by his men. 
If was undoubtedly due fo Lieutenant Barrett's splendid 
example and good leadership that any of the party man- 
aged fo return alive, and he was subsequently awarded 
the Victoria Cross for his bravery in this action. 



3 ° THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
On the 25th of September the first Divisional Order for 
the main attack on the St. Quentin Canal was issued, 
and from that time forward all energies were devoted to 
preparations for the assault. The general idea of the 
operations was the breaking of the Hindenburg Line north 
of St. Quentin, and to the 46th Division was assigned 
the task of storming the Canal between the village of 
Bellenglise and Riqueval Bridge, and capturing the 
defences behind the Canal, with Iellenglise itsel, 
which contained the entrance to the famous tunnel 
whose existence was already well known flore state- 
ments of captured prisoners. OEhe final objective of 
the ï_)ivision was a line on the high ground beyond the 
villages of Lehaucourt and Magny-la-Fosse. OEhe st 
Division on out right were ordered to protect out fight 
flank and to hold themselves in readiness to advance 
eastwards south of the Canal and conform to the move- 
ments of the enemy should he retire, occupying the 
village of OEhofigny and the high ground around that 
village. In the event, the enemy resistance proved too 
stubborn on the day of the attack ; the xst Division did 
not advance ; OEhorigny was hot taken until the following 
day, and artillery and machine-gun tire from the high 
ground on out right flank was the cause of much trouble 
during the later stages of the battle. 
On out left the 3oth American Division was ordered to 
storm the ]ellicourt defences and cross the Canal where it 
disappeared underground in the Iellicourt OEunnel. OEhen, 
turning south, they were to ioin out own troops in the 
neighbourhood of Etricourt. OEhe Americans, however, 
also experienced considerable resistance and were delayed 
in reaching their final objectives, thus leaving this flank 
also in the air for some rime. 
It was intended, fi nal]y, that when the final objective 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 31 
were reached by ourselves and the 3oth American Division, 
the 32nd British Division and the 2nd Australian Division 
should pass through and exploit success, seizing if possible 
the general line Le "fronquay-Levergies and to the 
north. 
In order to fully realize the magnitude of the task which 
confronted the Division, a short description of the defences 
opposed to us is necessary. Ihe front line occupied by 
out troops on the date when the attack was first ordered 
has already been described. Immediately in front of our 
line the country dipped towards the St. Quentin Canal. 
The main natural features were two steepish ravines 
roughly at right angles to the Canal--one to the left of 
out positions, down which tan the main Vadencourt Road 
over Riqueval Bridge, the road known to us as Watling 
Street ; and the other ravine facing towards Bellenglise. 
Across the ridge between these two ravines tan the first 
strong system of German defences--a continuous line of 
trenches protected by a broad belt of wire and with 
frequent strong-points and machine-gun posts. 
Af either flank of the divisional sector the main cross- 
ings of the Canal--Bellenglise and Riqueval Bridges-- 
were further protected by more belts of wire and by 
well-sited posts of machine gunners and riflemen. 
The St. Quentin Canal on the front fo be attacked by 
the 46th Division was in itself an obstacle which might 
easily have proved insuperable in the face of a determined 
enemy. The mere sight of it from out front line trenches 
inspired respect, and might well have caused fear of the 
outcome of the attack in the hearts of any but the stoutest 
soldiers. If divided naturally into two portions. The 
northern half, whilst less strongly prepared for defence, 
was much more of a natural obstacle than the southern. 
From Riqueval Bridge to opposite La Baraque cross- 



32 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
roads, the Canal runs between almost perpendicular 
cliffs, which for the greater part of this distance vary 
between fiffy and thirty feet high. South of this it runs 
practically at ground level with, in places, a slight em- 
bankment. Right throughout, the Canal wall formed a 
perpendicular obstacle faced with brick, both west and 
east banks being strongly wired. The southern portion 
of the Canal was practically dry, but over considerably 
more than hall of the front covered by the Division 
a depth of from six to eight feet of water had to be 
reckoned with. 
In addition to the natural strength of the Canal as an 
obstacle to advancing troops, no pains had been spared 
to strengthen the whole length, which bfistled with well- 
sited concrete and steel machine-gun emplacements, and 
had been generally rendered as nearly as possible im- 
pregnable. Indeed, we know from statements of German 
prisoners that it was considered by them to be capable 
of defence against any possible attack. It is probable 
that this fact helped to lull the Germans into a false 
state of security which may in a measure have been 
responsible for the fact that all out preparations passed 
unheeded and that the attack did not seem to ha-e been 
suspected until it actually took place. 
"l'he two weak points about the Canal which were 
destined to have a decisive effect on the outcome of the 
battle were" (x) the bridges which were necessary for the 
supply of the enemy troops on the western bank, and 
so could not be destroyed in good time; and (2) the 
existence of certain concrete dams which had presumably 
been built by the enemy to serve as locks to retain the 
water. Where the Canal crosses the valley of the Omig- 
non, south of tellenglise, it is banked up above the level 
of the surrounding country ; and without these concrete 



l 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 33 
dams, there was risk of out guns breaching the banks, 
allowing the water to drain away, and so diminishing the 
value of the Canal as an obstacle. 
These concrete dams would certainly have served their 
purpose in such an event, but, although protected above 
by strips of concertina wire and on their sides by "' crows: 
feet " and other devices, they were a possible means of 
out troops crossing. There were several of these stoutly 
built dams along the divisional front, and some of 
them were actually made use of by the Infantry in the 
assault. 
Beyond the Canal was an extremely strong system of 
trenches, heavily protected by wire belts, and based upon 
the village of Bellenglise, the farm of La Baraque, and 
Harry and Nigger Copses. This line was continued 
parallel with the Canal to Lehaucourt ; but the portion 
south of Bellenglise was hot directly assaulted by out 
troops, being attacked from the rear by the Brigade 
detailed to advance on Lehaucourt itself. Between 
Bellenglise and Magny-la-Fosse were two more continuous 
lines of trenches protected by wire, while all over the 
ground to be traversed were sited individual strong-points 
and machine-gun emplacements disposed after the prin- 
ciple of "defence in depth" much used by the Germans 
in the last two years of the war. 
Altogether, the defences of the Hindenburg Line at 
this point were as thorough as the science of military 
engineering, backed by unlimited time and labour, 
could devise, and the defenders had every reason to 
believe that no troops in the world could be expected to 
storm them without colossal losses. 
The effect of the battle of the 29th September must 
be considered in the light of these facts. The confidence 
of the Germans in both their troops and their defence 
3 



34 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
system was fated to be shattered in one mighty blow, 
and the effect of this reverse on the moral of the German 
Army and the German people must have been tremendous 
indeed. 
The fall of St. Quentin following on the breaching 
of the Hindenburg Line was inevitable. Perhaps the 
best tfibute to the work of the Division on this day of 
days in their history is seen in the remark of a staff oflïc«r 
of another formation, who, in reply to a question as to 
who took the city of St. Quenfin, replied : "The French 
walked into St. Quentin, but the 46th Division captured 
it when the.y took Bellenglise.'" 
On the evening of the 27th September the I38th ln- 
fantry Brigade, then holding the northern portion of out 
line, was ordered to attack the trenches on the ridge 
between the two ravines west of Bellenglise and Riqueval. 
This preliminary operation was quite local, and was un- 
deÆtaken with the object of ensuring that out troops 
should meet with little resistance west of the Canal on 
the day of the main assault. All went well with the 
attack. After a preliminary bombardment, the com- 
panies of the 4th Leicesters detailed for the assault left 
the formillg-up line in good order, and, following the 
barrage clos,,ly, occupied the line of trenches which was 
their obiective without diflïculty and with very little 
fighting. The attack resulted in the capture of two 
oflïcers and one hundred and forty-six other ranks, and 
all concerned had good reason to be satisfied with the 
xvork, and to trust that it was an omen of greater success 
to follow shortly, when the preparations for the attack 
on the Canal were completed. 
Out new line was immediately consolidated, and com- 
munication trenches leading towards the enemy were 
blocked; and at the conclusion of this operation the 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 35 
I37th Infantry Brigade relieved the I38th Infantry 
Brigade, who retired to the area about Le Verguier for 
a short rest. 
The relief took place without trouble, though the enemy 
subjected the captured positions to a desultory tire 
throughout the night, but at 7 a.m. on the 28th September 
bombing attacks were commenced on the outpost com- 
pany of the 5th South Staffords, and at IO a.m. the enemy 
counter-attacked heavily under a barrage on the whole 
front which had been the scene of our attack of the 
evening before. 
The attack was accompanied by heavy artillery tire 
on out support positions and on the main lines of com- 
munication up which reinforcements and supplies for the 
troops occupying the captured trenches would have to 
pass. The infantry attack was pressed by the enemy 
with unusual determination, bombing parties working up 
the communication trenches leading from the enemy's 
positions as well as across the open. Severe in-and-out 
fighting continued for some hours, and the outpost com- 
panies were very hard pressed and finally xvere forced to 
yield ground owing to the impossibility of keeping the 
troops supplied with S.A.A. and bombs. The attack was 
particularly severe on the front held by the outpost 
company of the I/5th South Staffords, and after an hour 
and a half's fighting the enemy forced their way into 
the trenches held by this company. A local counter- 
attack was at once organized, however, and the Germans 
were driven out. 
Later in the morning this company was once more 
driven back, fighting every step of the way, but gradually 
running out of small-arm ammunition and bombs. By 
this time 60 per cent. of the company had become 
casualties, .and it was forced to withdraw to the trenches 



36 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
south-west of Pike Wood, where it was reorganized and 
held on until dark. 
Similar fine work was done by the i/6th North Staffords 
during the attack. The outpost company of this battalion 
was for six hours completely cut off from communication 
with Battalion Headquarters, all lines having been cut 
by artillery tire. The company, however, held on toits 
position against superior number, for the whole of this 
time, although suffering very mu,-h from the prevailing 
lack of ammunition. Casualties were very high, but the 
men, inspired by the heroic example of their cfficers, 
fought with an utter disregard of personal safety, inflict- 
ing heavy losses on the attackers, who were only able 
fo make very insignificant gains of ground. Where all 
the men did so well it is diflïcult to draw distinctions, 
but prominence should be given to the work of Private 
B. Mountford, of the I/6th North Staffords, who during 
the shortage of ammunition was mainly responsible for 
saving the situation on the front occupied by his com- 
pany. Finding a German machine gun and ammunition 
in the captured trenches, he at once set to work, got the 
gun into working order, brougbt it into action, and 
caused many casualties to the enemy. For rive hours 
under heavy tire irom German rifles and machine guns 
he manned this gun, firing short bursts of tire when 
enemy attacks appeared likely to develop with success, 
thus assisting materially in slowing down his advance 
and helping to repulse thrusts which were unusually 
determined and long-sustained. 
Fighting continued well on into the day, but after his 
initial success the enemy made very little progress along 
any part of the front attacked. With few exceptions out 
men were able to retain their positions until dark, but 
the outpost companies were in a very unfavourable 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 37 
position, being observed and enfiladed from both flanks. 
It was therefore dec:ded to withdraw to out original 
line under cover of darkness, not only because the 
position of the men was unsatisfactory, but in order 
that a straight barrage could be put down for the main 
attack. 
During the few days of preparation, every care was 
taken to prevent the enemy from realizing the imminence 
and magnitude of the attack. Reconnoitring parties 
were warned to keep themselves scattered and as incon- 
spicuous as possible when in view of the enemy. There 
was to be no flourishing of maps in full view of enemy 
airrnen or of direct observation from the enemy trenches. 
All troops in the front line were instructed to keep their 
heads down and to let as little movement as possible be 
seen, while movement of transport behind the lines, 
beyond the normal activity inseparable from the supply 
and maintenance of a division in comparatively peaceful 
times, was restricted to the hours of darkness. 
The enemy airrnen at this time were very active and 
daring, and frequently his reconnaissance machines would, 
in spire of machine-g an and rifle tire, swoop down and 
pass over out front and support trenches at a very low 
altitude, watching for signs of unusual activity. With 
their scarlet-painted bodies the machines presented a 
striking appearance, looking for ail the world like huge 
red birds diving down on the look-out for their prey on 
the ground beneath. Very little could have escaped the 
knowledge of the skilled observers in the planes, and the 
result speaks well for the thoroughness of the precautions 
taken against observation, and for the skill with which 
officers and men carried out the orders given to them. 
One of the first preparations to be made in all cases 
of attack where modes of Headquarters are likely to 



38 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
take place as a preliminary to the assault, is the choosing 
of suitable sites for the Headquarters of the higher forma- 
tions. On the 26th, therefore, a party of the General 
Staff, with one representative from each Brigade and the 
O.C. Signal Company, ruade a tour of the country behind 
the front line and of the front line itself, and settled on 
a joint Brigade Headquarters in a portion of the line 
where three or four deep dug-outs, suflïcient to shelter 
the Staffs from moderately heavy shell tire, existed. This 
position, unnamed except by a map reference (G, 2I, c, 2.r), 
subsequently became the headquarters of the I37th In- 
fantry Brigade when this Brigade stormed the Canal, and 
was later used as Divisional Headquarters by the 32nd 
Division when it passed through the 46th Division after 
the attack. At the same rime it was decided to move 
forward Advanced Divisional Headquarters to Small Post 
Wood, a small copse about a mile N.N.E. of Vendelles, 
from which place communication forward could be main- 
tained more satisfactorily. 
The problem of communication in a battle such as the 
one projected was a difiïcult one. Both out own troops 
and the enemy were strongly entrenched, and a prelimin- 
ary bombardment of exceptional intensity was necessary 
before out assaulting columns could be hurled at the 
enemy entrenchments with any chance of success, while 
such a bombardment necessarily invited heavy retaliatory 
tire. It was practically a trench warfare attack without 
the buried cable system which alone had rendered com- 
munication in trench warfare possible. 
A strong system of overland cables was designed to 
meet the case, but these lines were, as they were bound 
to be, cut by shell tire again and again belote the attack 
commenced. In fact, the party laying the forward lines 
was out working during the whole of the night preceding 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISIL 39 
the attack, and during the morning of the attack, without 
succeeding in getting the lines through to the leading 
Brigade, which was thus for some time, at a critical period 
of the battle, cut off from communication with the 
Division altogether. To add to the troubles ol the Signal 
company, the very openness of the country, wh_le facili- 
tating the laying of cables across country, was fatal 
to their maintenance. Durin i the dark nights of the 
27th/28th and 28th/29th September, transport ruade 
little or no attempt to keep to the roads, but was driven 
across country, intent only on reaching its destination 
by the shortest route. Lines were cut hot once or twice, 
but twenty or thirty rimes a rfight, and linemen were out 
working practically continuously. Perhaps the most ex- 
asperating incident occurred, however, when, on the night 
before the battle, a cavalry unit which shall be nameless 
settled down for the night midway between ]-dvisional 
Headquarters and an important forward communication 
post, and signalized its arrival by cutting out some 
hundred yards or so of the three twin cables which formed 
the main divisional route, in order to use them as a 
picket line for their horses. After this " Signals " felt 
that Fate could have no harder blows in store for them. 
Communications had to be extended considerably and 
lines laid to deal with the many extra units which were 
attached to the Division for the battle. New signal 
officers appeared every few minutes, bringin i vith them 
N.C.O.s dragging new lines to be placed on the Divisional 
Exchange. Tanks, Cavalry, Artillery, Cyclists--all were 
represented--but the most numerous of all were the 
attached Artillery Brigades. Between the arrival of the 
Division in the area and the night of the 28th September, 
the strength of the Division in artillery increased from 
two Brigades of R.F.A. to eight Brigades of R.F.A. and 



4 ° THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
one of R.H.A., all of them being placed under the com- 
mand of Brigadier-General Sir Hill Child, C.M.G., D.S.O., 
C.R.A., 46th Division. In addition several Brigades of 
the Corps tIeavy Artillery were firing on the front of the 
Division. 
Artillery preparation for the attack was commenced 
on the night of the 26th/27th September, when a con- 
centrated bombardment of the Bellenglise salient was 
carried out with a mixture of high explosive and gas 
shells. At the saine time the normal " harassing " tire 
on the whole of the IX Corps front was considerably 
increased in order to mask the guns engaged in pumping 
gas into selected areas behind the front tobe attacked. 
"fhis gas bombardment was carried out on a scale which 
had not previously been attempted by any of the Allies, 
but results were not commensurate with the expenditure 
of ammunition. Prisoners stated that the only effect of 
the bombardment, so far as gas was concerned, was to 
cause them to retreat to the deep dug-outs and tunnels 
with which this particular enemy area was so plentifully 
provided, and thus very few gas casualties were caused. 
Far otherwise, however, was the result of the destruc- 
tive bombardment with high-explosive shells flore g-uns 
of all calibres which commenced on the following day. 
All evidence, whether that of air photographs taken during 
the bombardment itself, the close examination of the 
shelled area when the battle was over, or the reports of 
the dazed and demoralized prisoners taken during the 
action, goes to show that the effect of the whirlwind of 
shells from out guns was absolutely devastating both to 
the German positions and to their moral. For the two 
days preceding the assault no rations or reinforcements 
reached the unfortunate occupants of the defences on 
either bank of the Canal. 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 41 
This intensive artillery preparation was carried on 
without pause until the morning selected for the 
attack. In the meantime, careful barrage rime-tables 
had been worked out for the attack itself, and every gun 
of the Field Artillery had been assigned ifs task, either in 
the barrage which should cover the advance of the in- 
fantry, in the shelling of specially selected areas where 
enemy concentrations might be expected, or in assisting 
the Heavy Artillery in its task of neutralizing or annihi- 
lating suspected enemy strong-points and machine-gun 
emplacements. 
In an attack on a position which is fronted by a water 
obstacle of the size and depth of the St. Quentin Canal 
t is naturally tobe expected that towards the overcoming 
of that obstacle a large and even dominating part of the 
preparation for the attack should be directed. The cross- 
ing of the Canal was the task of the Infantry, but the 
work of enabling the Infantry to cross was essentially 
the rôle of the Engineers, and the preparations made by 
the C.R.E., Lieutenant-Colonel H. T. Morshead, D.S.O., 
R.E., were extremely thorough. 
Unfortunately the C.R.E. himself, while reconnoitring 
forward routes for pontoon wagons in the vicinity of 
Le Verguier on the 25th, was wounded in the leg by a 
a piece of a shell which exploded near him, and Iris wound, 
though hot serious, was sufficient fo incapacitate him 
for some weeks. 
In his absence, and until his successor, Lieutenant- 
Colonel W. Garforth, D.S.O., M.C., R.E., joined the 
Division, the R.E. preparation was carried out under the 
direction of the Adjutant and Assistant Adjutant. These 
preparations consisted mainly in the collection of material 
for, and the construction of, various means of crossing 
the Canal. Amongst the most successful of the means 



42 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
devised were small piers built of a framework of wood 
supported either by empty petrol tins or by bundles of 
cork slabs : piers which were so devised that they could 
be used either as rafts to carry a single man across the 
Canal or as supports for foot-bridges for taking a con- 
tinuous stream of men in single file. In addition collap- 
sible boats had been provided, together with mud-mats 
and scaling-ladders for negotiating stretches of mud and 
the steep brick walls of the Canal banks. Finally, some 
genius hit on the novel idea of making use of life-belts 
on a considerable scale. The latter idea in particular 
promised considerable prospects of success ; the authori- 
ties at Boulogne were telegraphed for the life-belts from 
some of the leave-boats, and over 3,ooo were collected and 
were sent up and issued to the storming troops. 
On the 27th September arrangements were ruade for 
a dress rehearsal to take place, and men loaded with full 
kit as for a storming party were detailed to test each 
type of means for crossing the Canal. The first attempt 
was ruade near Bihecourt, but enemy shelling of batteries 
in the vicinity was so persistent and interfered so much 
with the preparations for the trial that it was postponed 
by order of General Campbell until the next day. On 
the 28th, therefore, the party proceeded to the moat at 
Brie Château on the Somme, where the practice was 
carried out in front of the Divisional Commander in the 
pouring rain, but with good results. It was discovered 
by actual experience that the collapsible boats, which 
required four men apiece to carry them, could be opened 
and launched in twenty seconds, while men, weighted 
with their storming kit but supported with life-belts fixed 
high up on their bodies, were able to swiln across a stretch 
of deep water, forty yards in breadth, and could not 
drown. Similar experiments were ruade with a man who 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 43 
could not swim, and he was able by means of a lire-line 
to pull himself across hand over hand, being convinced, 
and in a position to convince his companions, that there 
was no danger of men thus equipped getting into difiï- 
culties. These trials were actually carried out by men 
of the Stafford Brigade, which was to have the honour 
of leading the Division across the Canal and making 
the initial breach in the Hindenburg Line beyond. 
The trial having been successful, nothing now remained 
but to continue the manufacture of the different devices 
until the number required was completed and, during 
the night of the 28th/29th, to collect all this material as 
close as possible to the front line, ready to be carried 
forward to the appointed places on the banks of the Canal 
at the first opportunity after the attack had been launched. 
This was successfully accomplished by the personnel of 
the Divisional Field Companies, assisted by the x/xst 
Monmouthshire Regiment, the Pioneer Battalion of the 
Division. OEhe Enneers, including the whole of the 
Engineers of the 32nd Division, were then divided up 
according to the tasks allotted to them for the assault. 
Some sections were sent with the Infantry to assist 
mopping-up parties and to examine dug-outs, strong- 
points, etc., for mines and demolition charges: others 
were told off respectively as bridge-building parties or for 
work on the roads leading to and forward of the horse- 
transport bridges which were to be thrown across the 
Canal as soon as possible after the assault had succeeded. 



CHAPTER II 

THE STAFFORDS CROSS THE ST. QUENTIN CANAL AND 
BREACH THE HINDENBURG LINE 

PREPARATIONS being suflïciently far advanced by that 
date, the 29th September was chosen as "Z " day, or 
the day of the attack, and the night of the 28th/29th 
was spent by the General Staff and Headquarter Adminis- 
trative Services in putting the final touches to the plans 
to which I have already referred, and to arrangements 
for the evacuation of the wounded, and for dealing with 
the inrush of enemy prisoners which might be expected 
if the attack was successful. During the saine time the 
fighting troops were moving up to their assemb]y positions. 
The I37th Infantry Brigade, composed entirely of Stafford- 
shire troops, under Brigadier-General J. V. Campbell, 
V.C., C.M.G., D.S.O., had been chosen to lead the Division 
in the assault on the Canal ; and the Headquarters of this 
I3rigade was moved on this night to the dug-iuts in the 
support line of trenches which had already been selected 
for them. The troops themselves were disposed on the 
forming-up line which had been taped out under the 
direction of Engineer officers, the tapes being laid parallel 
to, and two hundred yards behind, the starting-line for 
the creeping barrage. 
The troops of the supporting Brigade, the I38th In- 
fantry Brigade of Leicesters and Lincolns, under Brigadier- 
General F. G. M. Rowley, C.M.G., D.S.O., and the I39th 
44 



]3RIGA]31ER-GEIqERAL J. V. CAPSE--, V.C, C.II.G., D.S.O., BRIGADE 
COIIIA1NDER I7"I'H "[NFAN'I'RY ]RIGADE 
Rcprodccd by courtey of J. Ru-cll & -tons, 5x, Bakcr Strcct, I.oudon, W.. 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 45 
Infantry Brigade of Sherwood Foresters, under Brigadier- 
General J. Harington, D.S.O., were also moved up into 
their positions during the night. They were thus disposed 
so that immediately the situation had cleared sufficiently, 
they could move forward to the forming-up position at 
which they were to take over from the I37th Infantry 
Brigade and continue to press the attack until the final 
objectives of the Division were reached and consolidated. 
Similar positions for Brigade Headquarters had been 
selected, and the troops of both Brigades were concen- 
trated where as much shelter as possible frorn the enemy's 
retaliatory tire was available, in order to avoid un- 
necessary casualties. Casualties in all three Brigades 
were caused during the night by enemy gas and high 
explosive shells, and work was much interfered with 
by this shelling, which, however, died away towards 
morning, giving satisfactory proof that the enemy did 
not anticipate any immediate attack on a large scale. 
The general dispositions of the Division for the attack 
were as follows :-- 
The area to be occupied had been divided into two 
main objectives, each limited by a line rnning almost 
due north and south. These were marked respectively 
on the map issued by the General Staff before the action 
by a red and a green line, and for convenience of 
reference may be referred to as the Red and the Green 
objectives. 
These main objectives were again subdivided, the first 
into two portions by a blue line, and the second into 
three approximately equal portions by a green and a 
dotted blue line. These subdivisions were ruade to enable 
the assaulting troops fo rest and reorganize under a 
protective barrage of a few minutes' duration, and each 
line was chosen as being either a deaCinite element of the 



46 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
enemy organization or a natural feature of the ground 
over which the attack was taking place. 
Their positions would, of course, also be indicated by 
the halt of the artillery barrage behind which the troops 
would organize. The intermediate objectives were ruade 
use of to enable " leap-frog " tactics tobe utilized 
within the attacking Brigades--one battalion passing 
through another to the attack, the tired battalion mean- 
while remaining behind to mop up and consolidate a 
defensive line, while it was at the saine time available to 
reinforce the fresh attacking battalion if necessary. 
To the I37th Infantry Brigade, as already stated, was 
allotted the task of leading the Division acÆoss the Canal. 
This Brigade was detailed to overcome any enemy resist- 
ance west of the Canal, to cross the Canal itself, break 
through the main defences of the Hindenburg Line east 
of the Canal, capture Bellenglise, and advance to the 
Red objective, where a defensive position was to be 
consolidated and the other Brigades would pass through 
to continue the attack. 
On this line the artillery barrage under which the troops 
advanced was scheduled to halt for three hours, a dense 
protective barrage being put down meanwhile to cover 
the work of consolidation, to conceal the movements of 
the advancing Brigades, and to prevent enemy cotmter- 
attacks. 
During this interval of three hours the troops told off 
for the purpose were to complete the mopping-up of the 
area occupied by the i37th Infantry Brigade, and the 
remaining two Brigades, the I38th Infantry Brigade on 
the left and the I39th Infantry Brigade on the right, 
were to move up, deploy on the Red objective, and, 
when the barrage lifted, to move forward to the capture 
of the Green objective, where they in their turn were to 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 47 
consolidate and allow the 32nd Division to pass through 
them to a distant objective. As will be seen the 
programme allotted was, so far as the 46th Division 
was concerned, carded through according to plan. To 
the storming Infantry was allotted a few sections of 
Engineers for purposes as already outlined when describ- 
ing Engineer preparations, while the remainder of the 
Divisional Engineers and the Pioneer Battalion followed 
close in the rear of the assaulting columns, bringing up 
bridging and road-making material. 
The artillery programme has already been referred to 
above. The particular feature of both the creepin i 
barrages was the inclusion of a proportion of "" smoke " 
shell, this being intended to aid the concealment of 
movement behind out lines, and also to emphasize the 
«' lifts" of the barrage, thus enabling the Infantry to 
judge more easily when a forward move was takivg place. 
Certainly the first object of the " smoke " was achieved, 
though how far the artificial smoke was aided by natural 
fogis difficult to estimate. Owing to the fog, how- 
ever, the second object was not so successful, and the 
lifts were not so well defined as they would have been 
in clear weather. In order to thicken the barrage in its 
initial stages, a machine-gun barrage was arranged to be 
super-imposed upon it. For this purpose the end Lire 
Guards M.G. Battalion and the xooth M.G. Battalion 
were attached to the Division, and placed under the 
command of the O.C. 46th M.G. Battalion, Lieutenant- 
Colonel D. Mathew Lannowe, D.S.O. 
Two companies of tanks had been detailed by the 
IX Corps to cross over the Bellicourt Tunnel as soon 
as the Americans on the left of the Division had captured 
their first objectives. They were then to move down 
south on to the front of the 46th Division, when they 



48 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
were to assist the I38th and I39th Infantry Brigades, 
one company of tanks to each Brigade, in the advance 
from the led line. 

Forming-up was stccessfully carried out on the night 
belote the attack, the I37th Infantry Brigade lining 
up on the jumping-off tape on a three-battalion front; 
while the I38th and I39th Infantry Brigades formed up 
some distance in rear on a one-battalion front, with orders 
that their leading battalions should occupy out old front 
line as soon as the attacking Brigade had left. These 
leading battalions were instructed to detail one company 
each to follow the assaulting troops closely and assist 
in mopping up the area west of the Canal. At the same 
rime the battalion commanders were instructed to hold 
themselves in readiness to reinforce the I37th Infantry 
Brigade should this Brigade, having crossed the Canal, 
be in danger of being outfought in the trench system 
beyond it. The remainder of the supporting Brigades 
were instructed not to move forward until orders were 
received from Divisional Headquarters. 
Zero hour was fixed for 5.50 a.m. on September ,9th. 
Even without an intimate knowledge of the ground a 
study of the trench-map of the Canal defences will show 
the magnitude of the task which confronted the attacking 
Brigade. Well might the enemy be of the opinion that 
their positions were impregnable. As zero hour ap- 
proached there was no thought of test for the Staff who 
had planned the attack, and who realized how much 
might hang on the result of the next few hours. If the 
attack proceeded according to schedule, there was no end 
to the possibilities opened up. Indeed, the end of the 
war would be brought very appreciably nearer. A suc- 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 49 
cessful attack on positions so strong as those opposed to 
us would be proof positive that the enemy's hopes of 
holding up the Allied ride of conquest by building a series 
of such dams across Europe were founded on folly. On 
the other hand, if the attack was vigorously pressed and 
failed, the chances were that the rôle of the 46th Division 
in the present war was played for good and all. 
As the hours rolled on towards the fateful moment 
when the barrage was due to open, a hush of expectancy 
seemed to settle over the whole front of the Division. 
The enemy tire was fitful--an occasional shell, only, falling 
on such well-known targets as " The Tumulus," Hudson's 
Post, or the roads and tracks through Ascension Valley, 
the most shell-torn area behind out lines. Out own 
artillery fired sporadically, guns having been told off to 
simulate an appearance of normal activity. Suddenly, 
to the minute agreed upon, the preliminary gun of the 
barrage boomed forth and, in a second, flashes appeared 
to spring from every square yard of the "' gun-lines," 
while a perfect tornado of furious sound, a hellish com- 
pound of the voices of guns of all calibres, rent the air 
and caused the very earth to shake. The enemy lines 
were already hidden in thick mist, so that the grandest 
sight of a modern battle---the striking of the steel storm 
on his front--was hidden from the sight of the watchers 
in out trenches, though the crash and roar of the explocling 
shells was proof enough of what was happening in front 
of us. As the barrage opened, officers and men of the 
leading Brigade gave a sigh of relief from the intolerable 
tension of the preparation ; the men sprang from their 
forming-up positions and, led by their oflïcers, poured 
down the slopes toward the nearest enemy trenches, 
keeping close to the barrage. In these initial stages of 
the attack, direction was maintained fairly well, in spite 

4 



5o THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 

of the thickening of the mist due to the smoke from the 
shells, which soon produced an impenetrable fog. Keep- 
ing direction in an early-morning attack is a sign of 
good leadership at the best of rimes, but on this foggy 
day--when, even behind the lines so far back as 
Divisional Headquarters, oflïcers and men were wandering 
about in vain endeavour to find their way--it required 
positive genius to succeed in leading straight to pre- 
arranged objectives. A certain amount of confusion did 
result from this fact, but fortunately the very nature of 
the obstacles to be encountered helped the advancing 
troops, and the Brigade fell upon the first-line trenches 
in fair order and fleshed their bayonets, killing most of 
the garrison, who, to do them justice, in spite of the 
barrage and their surprise at the unexpected attack, put 
up a stout enough resistance. Taking this first system 
of trenches in their stride and leaving stray Germans and 
individual strong-points to be dealt with by the mopping- 
up parties of the supporting companies, the Staffordshire 
men, with barely a pause to reorganize, swept on to the 
banks of the Canal well up to rime, whilst the Ist Division, 
in accordance with Corps orders for the battle, formed 
a strong defensive right flank from our original trenches 
along the spur towards Bellenglise. 
The enemy barrage fell on our trenches rive minutes 
after the troops had left, showing that, while his 
batteries were on the alert, no particular attack had 
been expected. By that rime, our troops were fight- 
ing in the enemy outpost line, and suffered very few 
casualties from his shells. His Artillery Command, 
however, were quick to realize that their guns were 
hot likely to do much to hinder our attack unless 
the range was shortened, and, before our troops were 
over the Canal, they took the risk of shooting down their 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 51 
own men who would be intermingled with ours and, in 
a last attempt to smother the attack on the Canal, laid 
down a barrage just to the west of it. This was well- 
directed and powerful, and caused many casualties to ail 
three of the attacking battalions belote the Canal was 
crossed. 
The attack was carried out on a three-battalion front, 
the i/6th South Staffords being on the right, the I/Sth 
South Staffords in the centre, and the i/6th North 
Staffords on the left. All three battalions reached the west 
bank of the Canal without too much difficulty, though here 
and there individual companies were held up by machine- 
gun posts and opportunity was thus given for the display 
of initiative by ofiïcers and N.C.O.s in overcoming these 
obstacles. The experiences of the different battalions 
at the Canal and beyond it, however, differ to such a 
marked extent that a clearer view of the action can be 
obtained if their adventures are considered separately 
and in detail. 
On the right the 6th South Staffords attacked in four 
waves, each of one company, on a front of four hundred 
yards. Few casualties were suffered in overrunning the 
German outpost line, and on reaching the Canal it was 
round to be dry, or nearly dry, on almost the whole 
battalion front. What little water existed was on 
the left, and here officers swam across, taking lines with 
them, their men following without much difficulty on 
rafts, or by pulling themselves along the lire-lines 
already placed in position by the officers. In the centre 
and on the right of the battalion front, the attacking 
troops waded across, or crossed by means of rafts of cork 
and petrol tins thrown down on the mud in front of them. 
There was a little wire under the water--where water 
existed- near the eastern bank of the Canal, but this did 



52 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
hot give much trouble. The enemy defended the eastern 
bank of the Canal with bombs, and with machine guns 
which were sited in concrete emplacements so arranged 
as to enfilade the Canal. The sting had been taken out 
of the resistance, however, by the intensity of the barrage, 
which had been so heavy, so well directed, and so closely 
followed up by our Infantry, that in many cases garrisons 
of enemy strong-points and trenches were unable to 
emerge before the positions were rushed by the advancing 
troops. For a few minutes some difficulty was experi- 
enced in gaining a footing on the eastern bank, but, 
owing to the fog, accurate machine-gun tire at anything 
but point-blank range was impossible and considerable 
parties of our men ruade good their positions. The enemy 
then surrendered freely, prisoners being collected in 
batches and sent back under the care of one or two slightly 
wounded men. 
As soon as the machine-gun nests and posts immediately 
on the bank of the Canal had been cleared sufficiently to 
enable our men to deploy, the oïacers sorted out their 
commands as far as possible, and the leading companies 
advanced to the attack of the t31ue line, a continuous line 
of trenches with numerous and well-constructed strong- 
points. 
Great as the task had been, the crossing was accom- 
plished up to time ; the reorganization of the companies 
engaged took place under a protective barrage as arranged, 
and the advance fo the Blue line was commenced as soon 
as the barrage lifted, at zero plus one hour and forty 
minutes. 
Here again, the troops were faced with an obstacle that 
might well have sufficed to hold them up for several 
hours and the trench system was very stubbornly de- 
fended, enemy machine gunners fighting well, many of 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 53 

them being bayoneted at their guns. Nothing could 
withstand the dash çf the troops, however, inspired as 
they were by the splendid leading of their officers. In 
small parties and protected by the fog, they worked 
their way up to within a short distance of the enemy 
trenches, then, rising with a shout, dashed in with the 
bayonet, the enemy giving way in all directions and 
many of them maki1:g good their escape through the fog, 
in spite of considerable casualties inflicted by the artillery 
as they retired. 
At the Blue line, a slight pause was ruade while the 
much disorganized c.,mpanies sorted themselves out as 
far as possible---N.C.O.s collecting small parties of men, 
and officers rearranging these parties into platoons and 
companies, and explaining to the section leaders under 
them their next objective in the attack on the Red 
line, which was commenced immediately the barrage 
lifted and permitted forward movement to be resumed. 
A slight adjustment had to be made first, however, 
and the first and third companies advanced behind the 
creeping barrage, wL;le the second and fourth com- 
panies turned aside, changing direction to the right 
and entering Bellenglise. 
The organized defences of this village had meanwhile 
been dealt with as a p,ssible menace to the attack to fight 
and left of them. Special groups of heavy artillery had 
been told off to pay particular attention to them and, 
dufing the initial stages of the assault, Bellenglise had 
been so well pounded that the machine gunners and In- 
fantry holding the village had had little opportunity to 
assist in repulsing the general attack. 
Now, in accordance with plan--a phrase common 
enough in German communiqués but significant in the 
present connection--the heavy guns switched on to the 



54 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
villages of Lehaucourt and Magny-la-Fosse, which lay 
within the objectives of the leap-frogging Brigades, and 
the Infantry rushed in on the village of Bellenglise and 
mopped it up, paying particular attention to the cellars 
and the entrances to the famous Bellenglise tunnel. It 
was from this tunnel that the I37th Infantry Brigade 
drew the greater part of the prisoners captured by them, 
nearly a thousand officers and men being discovered in 
this retreat alone. 
Having thus accomplished their task the battalion, 
which had suffered surprisingly few casualties, proceeded 
to organize the Red line, in which task they were much 
hampered by enemy machine-gun tire from the eastern 
end of Magny Valley, until this harassing tire was finally 
silenced by some of out own Lewis gun detachments. 
Runners were then despatched to the rear with the 
news that the first objective had been taken, and the 
men round what shelter they could and settled down 
to rest, prepared to repulse a counter-attack should any 
be made. 
The centre battalion, the I/Sth South Staffords, who 
were detailed to attack on a somewhat wider front than 
the troops on their right, formed up with two companies 
in line, each on a frontage of 50o yards. 
Owing to the severe casualties this battalion had suffered 
while repulsing the enemy counter-attacks on the 28th 
September, the orders for the attack were altered at the 
last moment, the third and fourth companies being com- 
bined into one supporting company. When the battalion 
advanced to the attack of the trenches west of the Canal, 
the right company, owing to the fog and smoke, lost 
direction and bore slightly too lai to the right. This 
error of direction was detected in rime by the battalion 
commander, however, and under Iris orders the gap be- 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 55 
tween the two companies was filled by a section of the 
I37th Trench Mortar Battery. Here again, little trouble 
was experienced in overrunning the enemy trench system 
west of the Canal, from which 16o prisoners were taken 
and despatched to the rear under escort. 
The Canal itself contained at this point deep water 
and, no bridges being found intact, the men who, in 
common with all the assaulting troops, were equipped 
with life-belts in addition to their normal equipment, 
crossed by swimming or were hauled over by means of 
heaving lines and planks. If was in such a situation as 
this that the fog proved so invaluable. The farther bank 
of the Canal was strongly defended by the enemy with 
rire tire and light machine guns fired from concrete 
emplacements, but af this period of the day it was 
impossible to see more than a few yards, and the enemy 
could hot tell with any certainty where out troops were 
until they were right upon them, when the latter lost no 
time in charging, and quickly silenced the enemy machine 
guns by the destruction of the guns' crews. So quickly 
indeed was progress made, that comparatively few casual- 
ries were suffered in this very difficult operation. This 
was again in great measure due to the splendid leading 
of both oftïcers and N.C.O.s. Any hesitation at this 
juncture would have been fatal and might have resulted 
in the total failure of the attack. It was absolutely 
essential for success that the troops should keep up with 
the barrage and make the utmost use of the fog. The 
courage and determination of all ranks was beyond praise, 
but, even at this high level, certain individual leaders did 
so extraordinarily well and showed such resource and 
initiative that their efforts had a marked effect in the 
storming of the Canal. 
Such an instance is that of Corporal A. E Ferguson, 



56 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
who, after overcoming all resistance on the west side 
of the Canal, collected together his own section and a. 
party of men from different units who had become lost 
in the fog, and personally led them across the Canal, 
scaling the east bank against considerable opposition, 
chasing the enemy down their own dug-outs, and clearing 
the trench line opposed to him. In this way, this N.C.O., 
with a small party of about fifteen men, was responsible 
for the capture of ninety-eight prisoners and ten machine 
guns. Another name which will remain associated with 
the capture of this portion of the Canal is that of Sergeant 
W. Cahill who, although unable to swim, plunged into 
the Canal and got across as best he could with a number 
of men he had collected round him. These men he at 
once led to the top of the eastern bank, where he found 
an Offlcer and a small party of our men in diflïculties. 
Without hesitation he attacked the enemy, captured 
four machine guns, and held on to his position on the 
Canal bank until the remainder of our men had crossed 
and the enemy resistance was completely overcome. 
The thickness of the fog had caused the companies at 
this point to be very mixed up indeed, and other similar 
cases occurred of parties composed of men of several 
different units being collected by an oflïcer who had 
lost his own men. Second Lieutenant W. B. ]3rown, 
collecting a small party of twenty men in this manner, 
plunged into the Canal at the head of thera and 
obtained a footing on the right bank of the Canal, 
capturing four machine guns and their crews. Having 
secured this post, he returned into the water and 
remained waist-deep for nearly an hour, hauling men 
across, then finally reorganized thera and led them 
forward in the next advance. 
In spite of the greater difficulty caused by the water 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 57 
in the Canal, this battalion also succeeded in keeping up 
with the barrage on the east bank of the Canal, and re- 
organized under the protective barrage, before advancing 
to the capture of the system of trenches beyond. Here 
the support company joined up with the advanced 
companies, and the whole moved forward to the Red 
objective, which was taken xvithout further trouble. One 
of the companies of the battalion, at this rime under 
Second Lieutenant C. Jones, who had taken over command 
of the company when his company commander was 
severely wounded, was detailed to assist the right battalion 
by clearing the northern portion of the village of Bellen- 
glise. This he did so successfully and speedily that he 
vas able to take it almost in his stride, and advanced 
with the remaining companies of the battalion to the 
final objective, after capturing eight machine guns and 
four field guns on his way. This enemy battery, like 
many others met with during the day, remained in action 
until the last moment, when they were surprised by our 
troops and captured. Itis likely that the delay in 
limbering up and falling back was due in this case to a 
lack of knowledge of the exact situation owing to the 
fog, but it is notexvorthy that, in this and in subsequent 
actions in which the Division took part, the enemy 
artillerymen, like his machine gunners, fought very well 
indeed. The former manned their guns until the last 
moment, firing over open sights at our advancing troops, 
and often fought bravely with their rifles when no longer 
able to use their guns with effect. Far different was their 
action from that of the Infantry, who, with a few excep- 
tions, were demoralized from the first, and seldom put up 
a stiff resistance, surrendering freely, as they did on this 
occasion, as soon as there was any reasonable excuse for 
doing so. Had it not been for the machine gunners in 



58 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
particular the Division could bave reached its objective 
very much quicker and with much fewer casualties than 
it did, though as it was the success of the attack was 
phenomenal. 
Perhaps the most dramatic scenes of the attack on the 
Canal occurred on the front attacked by the left battalion, 
the I/6th North Staffords. This battalion was given a 
frontage of attack of 8o0 yards, and formed up with two 
companies in line and two in support. It was known to 
the staff that the Riqueval Bridge on the left of the 
battalion objective was the main artery of supply for 
the German troops on the west side of the Canal and 
that this bridge had remained undestroyed up to the 
previous evening. There was therefore a possible chance 
of the bridge being seized intact, and Captain A. H. 
Charlton with his company were detailed to attempt its 
capture. This officer led his company by compass 
bearing towards the bridge, but when descending the 
ravine leading towards it was held up by machine- 
gun tire from a trench defending the approach to the 
bridge. Captain Charlton, realizing the urgency of the 
situation, took forward a party of nine men, captured 
the gun, killing all the crew with the bayonet, and then 
rushed the bridge. The sentries on the bridge and the 
pioneers who had been detailed to blow it up had been 
forced to take shelter from out bombardment, but seeing 
out men approaching rushed out to tire the charges. A 
race ensued, which was won by the assaulting troops, 
the nearest N.C.O. shooting all four of the Germans, 
while the officer seized the leads, cut them, and threw 
the charges into the Canal. Sentries were then posted 
on the bridge, and the whole of the company stormed 
across and mopped up the trenches and enemy posts on 
the east side of the Canal. 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 59 
In addition fo this bridge, on fo the repair of which 
the 466th Field Company was immediately turned, the 
battalion was fortunate enough fo find several foot-bridges 
over the Canal, and use was also ruade of a concrete dam 
of stout construction, from which the enêmy's wire was 
quickly cleared. In conoequence of the presence of these 
bridges little trouble was experienced by this battalion 
crossing the Canal, and our troops poured over so quickly 
that the enemy garrison was taken by surprise and was 
unable to oppose our advance. 
The company, first over the Riqueval Bridge itself 
captured 13o prisoners in one trench, including a battalion 
commander and his staff. 
At the Blue line, when the slight pause for reorganiza- 
tion took place, the supporting companies passed through 
the advanced companies, who in their turn formed up 
behind them. The whole battalion then swept forward 
to the capture of their final objective, which was reached 
by the leading companies immediately after the barrage 
had passed over it and halted beyond. Here the battalion 
consolidated, sent up success signals, and despatched 
runners back to Brigade Headquarters to report. 
Thus by 8.30 a.m., in the space of two hours and thirty 
minutes, exactly according fo rime-table as laid down by 
the Divisional Staff, the troops of the I37th Infantry 
Brigade had overcome enemy opposition west of the 
St. Quentin Canal, crosoed that obstacle, and stormed 
through a line which the Germans believed fo be im- 
pregnable, and which bai been strenithened with every 
device that the Masters of modern fortifications coulŒE 
invent. Well nfight the men of the Brigade, resting on 
their objectives and awaiting relief by the supporting 
troops, feel content with their morning's work. Already 
some 2,ooo enemy prisoners were on their way back 



60 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 

towards the divisional cage, and a considerable number 
of machine guns and field guns were among the captured 
material. The casualties of the Brigade, including those 
sustained during the counter-attack of the night of the 
27th/28th September, amounted in all to some 25 officers 
and 555 men. The majority of the wounds were due 
to machine-gun tire and were comparatively slight, and 
the total was amazingly small compared with the results 
gained, being in all probability considerably less than 
the total of enemy dead and wounded, exclusive of the 
prisoners already referred to. 



CHAPTER III 

SUCCESS EXPLOITED BY THE SHERWOODS, LINCOLNS, AND 
LEICESTERS 

\VHILE the InIantry of the Division was thus engaged in 
making history east of the Canal, the administrative 
services behind were struggling manfully against adverse 
circumstances. The fog, which had so materially assisted 
in front, was here the cause oI endless trouble and con- 
fusion. Elaborate arrangements had been made for the 
evacuation of the wounded and prisoners, but the Iog, 
which from the beginning of the action had been enough 
to tender path-finding extremely difficult, was intensified 
to such an extent by the smoke drifting Irom the scene 
oI action that it was impossible to see more than a Iew 
yards ahead. All landmarks were blotted out, and the 
boundary between tracks ordinarily well enough defined 
and the open country was indistinguishable. To make 
confusion worse confounded, the country far and wide 
was seamed with the occasional ruts made by transport 
wagons, which in clear weather had been accustomed to 
avoid tracks as being likely places for the enemy to shell, 
and to make straight for the particular camp or bivouac 
which was their destination. The result was that Ascen- 
sion Valley and the whole region immediately behind 
the old front line were soon filled with columns of pris- 
oners, returning wounded, stragglers, reinIorcements and 
a medley of orderlies and odds and ends of transport of 
6x 



62 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
every description, wandering about in all directions, and 
with little hope of finding their way anyxvhere until the 
mist cleared. From rime to time a slight clearing of the 
mist would enable men with their wits about them to 
sight some well-known landmark and fo make progress 
in the right direction, so that gradually the whole mass 
worked away from the sound of the guns and so drifted 
back towards Le Verguier, Vadencourt and other posts, 
where they were sorted out by the Traffic Control, placed 
on their correct roads, and started off totheir destina- 
tions. The stream continued, however, and until the 
fog cleared shortly after noon there was little relief in 
the situation behind the line. Much suffering must bave 
been caused to the walking wounded through their in- 
ability to find the aid-posts prepared for their reception. 
The effect of the fog on the Divisional communications 
was especially noticeable. A complete visual scheme, on 
which a great deal of energy had been expended, was 
rendered tiseless by the fog. Lines which were intact 
belote the fog commenced were continually broken, more 
by tratïïc than by shell tire, and, once broken, it was a 
marrer of hours sometimes belote the far end of the line, 
which might bave been dragged several hundred yards by 
transport, could be discovered. Still more difficulty was 
experienced in laying forward lines during the early stages 
of the battle. Enemy shelling caused frequent breaks 
in the lines as they were being laid, and the broken ends, 
hurled outwards by the force of the explosion, could only 
be collected and brought together with difficulty, by 
which time a "test" would betray the fact that a similar 
accident had occurred farther back, and the whole work 
was "' fo do" over again. The remaining resource of 
" Signais," a system of despatch riders and orderlies, 
reinforced belote the commencement of the action by a 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 63 
platoon of corps cyclists and a troop of Cavalry, was of 
more use. But even here trouble was experienced. The 
roads were badly cut up behind our lines and were non- 
existent in front of them, so that motor-cycle despatch 
riders were forced to work on foot. Here again the fog was 
a serious obstacle ; Formation Headquarters were almost 
indiscoverable, and orderly after orderly left Divisional 
Headquarters not to return until well on in the afternoon. 
In a similar manner, stretcher-bearers going out after 
wounded cases were again and again lost, and were in 
some cases several hours belote returning to their unit. 
One such case fs worthy of particular mention as 
typical of the initiative which was perhaps the most 
characteristic feature of the behaviour of the tank and 
file throughout the action, and which helped to make 
the ]3attle of ]3ellenglise, which, like the ]3attle of Inker- 
man in the Crimean War, was essentially a soldier's battle, 
such a marked success. 
Private H. Mosley, of the I/2nd North Midland Field 
Ambulance, together with Private H. George of the same 
unit, were attached to the I/sth Leicesters and followed 
them up closely in their advance. They then round a 
wounded infantryman, dressed him, and, having no 
stretchers with them, they took waterproof sheets from 
four German prisoners and ruade them carry the case, 
intending to make for the Advanced Dressing Station at 
Jeancourt. 
On the way down, groans were heard from a dug-out, 
so Mosley went down and round six wounded Germans, 
who gave him to understand that our men had thrown 
a bomb into the dug-out. The two men dressed the 
Germans, and, taking waterproof sheets from a further 
twelve prisoners, they made up rough stretchers and 
forced these men to carry their wounded comrades. 



64 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
They then carried on towards the A.D.S., but came 
across a tank which had been knocked out and from 
which they drew a wounded officer and two wounded 
men, whose wounds they dressed, and then made pris- 
oners carry them also. 
Near the St. Quentin Canal, the party had to take cover 
for some time owing to the intense shelling, and during 
this time three more of the prisoners were wounded. 
When again able to go forward, another party of twenty 
Germans was requisitioned and made to take their turn 
at carrying the patients. 
On arrival at the Bellenglise Tunnel, Private lIosley 
then round four of our own wounded men and six wounded 
Germans. He therefore foraged around and discovered 
a party of thirty more German prisoners, dressed the 
wounded, improvised stretchers in the saine manner as 
before and once more resumed the road to the dressing- 
station, which was reached without incident and without 
further addition to the convoy. This now consisted 
of twenty stretcher cases and seventy-five unwounded 
prisoners; quite a large enough command for two full 
privates of the British Army, and one which proved a 
source of some embarrassment to the British Field Am- 
bulance attached to the Americans, to whom the command 
was handed over. A rolling stone may not gather moss, 
but on this occasion the wandering R.A.M.C. private 
acted rather on the pfinciple of the snowball rolling down- 
hill through fresh snow, and managed to collect as many 
prisoners as are normally captured as the result of a 
successful action of some size. The fact that no attempt 
at escape was made is a significant comment on the 
moral of the German prisoners generally, who in all cases 
showed a marked desire to reach the British cages. 
Meanwhile Divisional Headquarters were anxiously 



THE BATIE OF BEIIEBIGIISE 65 
awaiting some definite news of success, although ail 
rumours pointed that vay. The G.O.C. was, however, 
quite confident that once the Staffords crossed the Canal, 
he could rely on ther being resolutely and closely sup- 
ported by the Sherwood Foresters, Lincolns, and Leices- 
ters. Every oflïcer and man knew the task ahead and 
few orders were needed. There was no thought of failure, 
and every battalion of the Division backed up closely 
like the merbers of a trained football team. 
Af about nine o'clock the welcome news ,vas received 
from General Campbell that his left and centre battalions 
had crossed the Canal, though there was no definite news 
from the right battalion. Iater a message came in from 
Lieutenant Reid, R.F.A., cormanding the Divisional 
Mounted Detachment, that a wounded sergeant had 
ported definitely that the 8th Sherwoods vere crossing 
the Canal. 
It was enough. Orders were instantly issued for the 
whole Division to press forward to the barrage and to 
advance straight on their obiectives. 
The Divisional Cormander's confidence in his leaders 
was fully iustified, and before the orders reached the 
Brigades the troops were already in motion. A great 
victory apleared to be in sight. 
The whole Division was now definitely launched across 
the Canal. On the south, the ist Division had gallantly 
and quickly carried through its task of protecting our 
flank. From the north reports ,vere at first favourable 
but became more disquieting later. 
This vas, however, no occasion for thinking about 
flanks; a break-through was intended--and break 
through we did, holding every yard gained and taking 
every inch of our allotted obiectives. 
Perhaps at no time durng the battle was better work 



66 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
done than the feat performed by the officers and guides 
who were responsible for bringing the I38th and I39th 
Brigades into position on their forming-up line in time 
for the final assault from the Red objective. Both 
west and east of the Canal the roads were choked with 
the human flotsam and jetsam from the battle, and with 
transport and details moving towards the front line. The 
fog was as thick as at any rime during the morning, and 
on occasion it was difficult to see one's hand before one's 
face, while a great portion of the march had to be ruade 
over ill-defined tracks, which were difficult enough to 
pick out even in moderately clear weather. The compass 
had to be relied on almost entirely, and the only help 
received was at the vafious bridges over the Canal. Here 
Engineer officers with compasses were able to take bear- 
ings and to assist such small companies of men as had 
been separated from the main column, by giving them the 
direction they would have to keep in order to reach their 
correct positions in the line. Here again, as in other 
phases of the battle, the fog afforded unlimited oppor- 
tunities for the exercise of the qualities of leadership on 
the part of subordinate commanders, and seldom indeed 
did these rail to make the best of a difficult situation. 
The new forward move entailed a certain rearrange- 
ment of the Artillery, those batteries in position at a 
distance from out old front line being now firing at ex- 
treme range. To adjust matters, the Brigades moved 
forward immediately the Red objective was reached 
to positions already selected, where lines of tire had 
been previously marked out. The forward more was 
carried out most expeditiously, and the Brigades came 
into action again and were able to take their part in the 
creeping barrage when the advance from the Red line 
was commenced after the three hours' halt. Finally v¢hen 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 67 
the attack had recommenced, three more Brigades in rear- 
ward positions ceased tire, limbered up, and moved across 
No Man's Land, taking up positions between out old front 
line and the Canal, from which they were able to take 
their part in the final protective barrage. One of these 
latter Brigades vas heavily shelled and suffered many 
casualties, and the personnel was withdrawn from the 
guns for a short rime until the worst of the shelling was 
over. 
During the pause between the two phases of the attack, 
the Engineers of the Division were engaged mainly in 
superintending the work on forward roads, both west 
and east of the Canal, and in repairing existing bridges 
over the Canal. In particular, it was discovered that the 
stout concrete data, already mentioned as having been 
utilized by the Infantry of the x37th Brigade in crossing 
the Canal, might easily be repaired and adapted to take 
horsed transport, so with praiseworthy initiative Lieu- 
tenant T. H. Midgley, of the 466th Field Company, who 
had already distinguished himself by his dash during the 
attack on the Canal, at once set his men to this work. 
The bridges were repaired or adapted by the eafly 
afternoon, and, at 3 p.m., field guns and horsed transport 
commenced to cross the Canal. 
The sections attached to the I37th Infantry Brigade 
had rendered the Riqueval Bridge serviceable very early in 
the day, and had withdrawn the demolition charges from 
several other bridges which had been mined by the enemy, 
but left by him undestroyed. One N.C.O., Corporal 
Openshaw of the 466th Field Company, R.E., was in the 
forefront of the attack on one of the German bridges, 
personally accounting for a machine-gun nest to the west 
of the bridge, bayoneting two of the pioneers who were 
guarding it, and receiving the surrender of the third; 



68 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 

who was able to point out the position of the demolition 
charges. 
In the meantime, the Engineers of the 32nd Division, 
to whom had been handed over all the pontoons and 
normal bridging matefial of out own field companies, 
were building the pontoon bridges over which their own 
transport and artillery was to pass that evening and the 
following day. 
During the reconnaissance of the Canal bank and the 
strengthening of the bridges some 250 of the enemy were 
discovered and surrendered to the various parties of the 
field companies, and were sent back under escort. 
Another piece of useful work carried out during the 
afternoon and the following day was the clearing of the 
Bellenglise Tunnel. In this tunnel many charges were 
round and removed, and, by happy thought, the German 
personnel who had been in charge of the electric-light 
plant were searched for, discovered, and set to work. The 
mechanics then readily divulged the fact that the German 
dynamo was connected to a mine, so that the tunnel would 
be blown up when the engine was started. From this 
admission to the pointing-out of the mine was but a small 
step, and the mine was removed and the electric-light 
plant set working. This proved to be in perfect order, 
so that the remainder of the search within the tunnel, 
which incidentally brought to light a certain amount of 
valuable and interesting signalling and other stores, was 
carried out by the light of a German electric plant worked 
by German soldiers. 
At ii.2o a.m., the barrage commenced to move forward 
from its protective position in front of the Red line, 
and the troops of the I38th and I39th Infantry Brigades, 
keeping close behind it, advanced towards the line of 
trenches which formed the main obstacle on the way to 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 6 9 
the next objective. The country over which the fresh 
attack was fo take place was of a much more open 
nature than that which had been the scene of the exploits 
of the Staffords, and the enemy's defences were not 
suitably sited for an attack from the direction from which 
he was now threatened. Towards the southern limit of 
the obiective of the Division the St. Quentin Canal 
sweeps round at right angles and runs east and west for 
several thousand yards before bending back again in 
a south-easterly direction. It was along this portion 
of the Canal that the assaulting troops would nov 
advance, the Canal itself thus forming a strong defensive 
flank. The principal support lines of the Hindenburg 
trench system were disposed parallel to the Canal, 
and thus ran more or less parallel with the direction of 
our advance. They had therefore already been partially 
turned, our troops advancing up them instead of in face 
of them. The solitary exceptions, and they were excep- 
tions which had tobe taken very much into consideration, 
were the strong lines of trenches running in front of the 
village of Magny-la-Fosse and the defences of the village 
of Lehaucourt itself. These were both very strong trench 
systems which mutually supported each other, though 
both villages might be outflanked by an advance along 
the ridge between them. 
The advance to the next objective, the first Green line, 
which was carried out in the saine fog as the earlier part of 
the attack, was, on the left flank, almost without incident, 
the Brigade meeting with little determined opposition 
and not having to employ the tanks allotted to it. 
On the right flank, however, very stout resistance was 
experienced from strongly-posted enemy detachments on 
the high ground to the north of Bellenglise. Here, the 
whole attack was held up bv strong artillery tire from 



7 ° THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
the front, while the attacking tr.oops were galled by heavy 
machine-gun and rire tire from the right flank. It was 
one of those moments when battles are won and lost, 
but the man capable of dealing with the situation was 
there to meet the emergency. Lieutenant-Colonel B. W. 
Vann, I.C., of the x/6th Sherwood Foresters, seeing that 
his men were held up and that the barrage was gradually 
outstripping them, with a corresponding increase of 
enemy resistance, rushed forward to the firing-line, 
exposing himself without thought for his own safety. 
Running from group to group of his men and encouraging 
them with precept and example, he reorganized and led 
the whole line forward. By his prompt action and abso- 
lute contempt of danger the whole situation was changed, 
the men were encouraged, and the line once more swept 
forward, catching up with the barrage and proceeding 
without further hitch to the Green line. In the final 
assault on tbe village of Lehaucourt, this officer again 
distinguished himself, rushing the team of a field gun 
which was firing at point-blank range. He shot with 
his revolver one of the gunners who was on the point 
of firing and clubbed two others. The success of the 
day, in fact, was in no small degree due to the splendid 
gallantry and fine leadership displayed by him. 
After passing the first Green objective, the fog com- 
menced to clear considerably, and the whole right flank 
of the attack was much troubled by the enemy occupying 
the high ground fo the south of the Canal. Machine guns 
from this direction swept our right flank continuously, 
and enemy field guns firing over open sights qtfickly 
put out of action all rive tanks allotted to the x39th 
Infantry Brigade. This battery was in its turn, how- 
ever, put out of action by a small party of our men, 
who, with great gallantry and on their own initiative, 



LIEUIEXANT-CoLONEL B. \V. VANN, %r.C., I.C., I,'6TH SHER%VOODS. 
I'[ILLED IN 2CTION AT IHE I3ATTLE OF lïAMICOURT. 
Reprcduced by courte-y of Langfier, Ltd., -"3, Old Bond Street, I, ondon, 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 71 
recrossed the Canal and shot or bayoneted the gunners. 
Little trouble from infantry was experienced from this 
direction, though several feeble counter-attacks were 
ruade, one mounted Gel-man otîïcer making three sepa- 
rate attempts fo rally his men and continuing his 
efforts until well-directed shots killed both himself and 
his horse, whereupon the men whom he was trying to 
rally immediately retired. 
If would appear that here the enemy lost his great 
chance to retrieve the fortunes of the day. The Ist 
Division Artillery put down a heavy smoke barrage on 
this flank, which was intended as a protection against 
enemy action as well as cover from observation for 
out own troops. In the event the barrage did not prove 
thick enough to afford a screen for out movements, 
though the fog at first proved an excellent substitute. 
Certainly it placed an obstacle in the way of a counter- 
attack, but a well-organized counter-offensive, supported 
by plenty of reserves and carried through with as much 
determination as our troops had shown in the attack, 
might have placed the 46th Division in an awkward 
position. 
The most charitable explanation of the lack of reaction 
which was so conspicuous a feature of the enemy's fighting 
during the day is that he was pinned down fo his positions 
by the demonstrations made by the Ist Division, and was 
afraid to involve any considerable number of troops in 
case of out attack extending farther fo the south. 
The ultimate objective of out advance on the right flank 
of the Division included the village of Lehaucourt, and, 
in the attack on this village, individual action once more 
played a conspicuous part. Lieutenant ]. N. Wightman, 
of the I/6th Sherwoods, having reached lais own obiective 
and taken several machine guns, two trench mortars 



7 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
and two field guns at small cost, led his men forward and 
pushed right through the village. In spite of opposition 
he managed to secure the bridge across the Canal, and 
succeeded in cutting off many prisoners and putting 
several guns out of action. He then organized his com- 
pany for defence and retained his hold on the village 
until the arrival of the support companies, when the 
whole body moved forward and occupied the line of 
the final objective. 
On the left of the attack the I38th Infantry Brigade, 
advancing from the first Green line, was faced by the 
strong trench system in front of the village of Magny-la- 
Fosse, beyond which was a sunken road strongly organized 
for defence with numerous machine-gun posts. In the 
capture of this line the tanks of the Brigade played an 
important part, cutting broad swathes through the wire 
entanglements, which here had been very little damaged 
by our artillery tire. Wheeling after their passage 
through the wire, the tanks then proceeded northward 
along the line of the trench and sunken road, enfilading 
them and giving the crews of the machine guns such 
a bad rime that they fell comparatively easy victims to 
the Infantry pouring through the gaps in the wire. The 
tanks, closely followed by the Infantry, then advanced 
towards the village, and, after a little street fighting, the 
resistance of the enemy garrison was overcome. At 
I.I5 p.m. the battalion in question, the 5th Lincolns, 
reached its objective and reorganized, throwing out a 
screen of Lewis-gun posts, behind which the line was 
quickly consolidated. In the meantime, the 5th Leicesters, 
following the L.incolns, reached Knobkerry Ridge by 
12 noon and halted there, while company commanders, 
in consultation with the commanders of the tanks attached 
to them, made their plans for the attack on the final 



,-IAJOR-GENERAL G. F. ]3OYD, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., D.C.M., 
G.O.C. 46Ia DIVlSlOI 
Reproduced by courtesy of H. X$ airer Burnett & Co.. Ltd., 12. Knightsbridge, 
Hyde Park Crner, S.XV. 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 73 
objective. At 12.35 p.m., the battalion halted immedi- 
ately behind the Dotted Blue line, and at 1.4o p.m., 
passing through the Lincolns, moved steadily forward to 
the capture of the second Green line, which was reached 
about 2 p.m. The work of consolidation was commenced 
at once, and at 3 p.m. touch was gained with the I39th 
Infantry Brigade on the right flank. 
At I p.m. the Divisional Commander rode to the 
battlefield fo congratulate the Brigadiers. The mist 
by then had completely cleared and the sight was one 
for which every commander worth the naine had lived 
during the long years of the war. 
As far as the eye could see, our troops were pushing 
forward; batteries were crossing the Canal and coming 
into action ; Engineers everywhere were at work ; large 
bodies of prisoners were coming in from all sides; and 
the men of the 32nd Division were advancing fast. The 
enemy were shelling the line of the Canal and Bellenglise, 
but no one seemed to mind. 
It was indeed a break-through. 
Thus the battle ended early in the afternoon with the 
complete attainment of all objectives, and, af 5.30 p.m., 
the advanced troops of the 32nd Division passed through 
our front line in pursuit of the retreating enemy. 
During the following night, however, the Division was 
continuously in action, as both flanks were exposed to 
the enemy. On the morning of the 3oth September, the 
situation was eased through the capture of Thorigny and 
Talana Hill by the Ist Division, while, during the day, the 
2nd Australian Division on our left also moved forward. 
Towards evening, both Divisions having established touch 
with the 32nd Division in front of us, the 46th Division 
was squeezed out of the line, and all three Brigades were 
withdravn for a vell-earned rest. 



74 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
The cause of the signal defeat of the enemy in the 
Battle of Bellenglise was, first and foremost, undoubtedly 
the fine bearing and splendid determination, of the 
Infantry engaged. Superbly led, the troops at every 
turn did justice to their leaders. Other conducing causes, 
however, were the magnificent support given to the 
assaulting troops by the Artillery, and the opportune 
fog which completely shrouded all mo.vernent from 
observation by the enerny, nullifying to a great extent 
the preparations for defence, which were based on the 
existence of a clear and cornparatively open field of tire 
for his enfilading machine guns. 
As regards the work of the Artillery, itis difficult to 
find words to describe its excellence. To those of us 
who had the opportunity of subsequently examining the 
battlefield, the state of the enerny defences after the 
preparatory work of the heavy guns was a revelation of 
what heavy artillery could do. The Field Artillery, in 
spire of the fact that most of the guns were in " silent " 
positions and had not registered, fired a barrage which 
was one of the finest under which troops have ever 
advanced during the war. No cases of short shooting 
were reported, and the Infantry throughout rnoved with 
a confidence which was fully justified. During the action 
the rnajority of the batteries moved forward into new 
positions which had been selected in advance, but, so 
expedifiously were the rnoves carried out and so well 
had they been planned, that they ruade little appreciable 
difference to the intensity of the barrage. 
The enerny's footing on the west side of the Canal was 
a feature which might have been invaluable to him had 
he contemplated offensive action, yet proved in the event 
to be very largely the cause of his downfall. He was 
obliged to keep several of his bridges intact in order to 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE. 75 
supply and reinforce his men on the west side of the 
Canal, and it was over these bridges that the main body 
of the x37th InIantry Brigade eventually poured to the 
attack of the defences on the east bank. 
If he had realized the magnitude of the pro]ected attack 
and had retired over the Canal in good rime, destroying 
his bridges behind him, there is little doubt that out 
casualties would have been immensely greater. Indeed, 
the attack might conceivably have failed, though in view of 
the satisfactory weather conditions the latter is unlikely. 
A feature of the German resistance was the com- 
paratively small amount of artillery retaliation. A strong 
barrage Iell on our old Iront line airer the troops had leIt 
it, and the range was shortened in rime to cause us con- 
siderable casualties beIore the leading Brigade had crossed 
the Canal. Such obvious places as Ascension Valley and 
other depressions behind our fine, where concentration 
might bave been expected, were also heavily punished 
throughout the morning, until the enemy was compelled 
by our success to remove his guns in order to avoid their 
capture, and had lost those guns he had Iailed to remove. 
The Iailure of the enemy's artillery to give a good ac- 
count of itselI must also be attributed to the Iog. Had 
observation been possible, tire could have been directed 
on our marching columns and transport, and the 38th 
and I39th InIantry Brigades in particular must have 
suffered heavy casualties while advancing to their Iorming- 
up position on the Red line. The saine cause probably 
accounted for the slight use ruade by the enemy of his 
heavy artillery. All his firing in the early morning at 
such targets as Bellenglise Bridge, Bellenglise itself, and 
La Baraque had to be donc by the map. When the Iog 
cleared later in the day, he must have been Ieeling 
very doubtIul regarding the safety of his guns, and was 



7 6 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
no doubt engaged in moving a large proportion of them 
to positions Iurther back. 
It is difficult to estimate how far the Iog which played 
such a decisive part in the winning of the battle was due 
to natural causes, and how far to the general effect of 
the bombardment, and in particular to the proportion 
of smoke shell fired in the barrage. Undoubtedlv the 
latter tended to thicken the Iog considerably, but a heavy 
and persistent mist in the early morning is one of the 
features of the weather of Northern Europe in the neigh- 
bourhood of open water at this particular period of the 
year. It is likely that the possibility of the occurrence 
of such a mist had been taken into consideration when 
plans for the attack were ruade. In any case, conditions 
could not have been more Iavourable. 
The enemy had based his defence almost entirely on a 
cunningly-devised system of machine-gun emplacements 
arranged to enfilade the Canal and, where possible, the 
ground west of the Canal. From concrete emplacements 
approached from behind through winding entrances 
and with roomy dug-outs beneath them, the '« Boche" 
machine-gunners could sit in comfort with a good store 
of ammunition, water, and food, and rake the Canal in 
both directions without the slightest trouble and with 
very little danger to themselves. Nothing short of a 
direct hit from a heavy shell would have ruade an im- 
pression on many of these small forts--for they were 
nothing else--and, theoretically, in clear weather, the 
passage of the Canal should have been pretty well an 
impossibility. Nothing is more significant, therefore, 
than the fact that as one strolls along the banks of the 
St. Quentin Canal one can see emplacement after em- 
placement, immensely strong, well-sited and undamaged 
by our artillery tire. Yet the occupants of these 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 77 
fortresses have long ago gone either to swell the death- 
roll of Germany, or to add to the number of German 
prisoners who are working behind out lines. 
The extraordinary features of the defensive scheme on 
out immediate front and on out left flank were un- 
doubtedly the Bellenglise and Bellicourt Tunnels. The 
latter was simply a cunningly-adapted tunnel of civilian 
origin, where the Canal for some three toiles passes 
through a subterranean cutting. The only local interest 
this tunnel held was due to the reported discovery within 
it of a series of cauldrons, one of which contained a dead 
German, and which were said to be the outward and 
visible sign of the presence of a plant for rendefing 
down the bodies of German soldiers--a " Kadaver- 
verwendungsanstalt " in fact. A close examination of 
the cauldrons, however, shows nothing to uphold this 
view, and it is much more likely--indeed practically 
certain--that the cauldrons were used for disinfecting 
soldiers' clothes or some equally legitimate purpose. 
Far more interesting from a military point of view 
is the Bellenglise Tunnel, which is probably the best 
existing monument of that painstaking thoroughness 
which is the chier facial characteristic of the " Boche." 
This huge artificial dug-out, the spoil-heap of which 
has hall buried the village of Bellenglise, and which 
must have taken many months of effort and endless 
labour to complete, is an excellent example of the futility 
of a great part of the human effort the sum of which 
goes to make up modern war. The pride of the German 
Engineers' hearts, it was destined to serve merely as a 
shelter for several hundred demoralized soldiers, who 
remained safely ensconced within it until, on the arrival 
of a small party of out men, they delivered themselves 
up, glad to be finished with the war. 



78 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
Both of these tunnels were capable of housing several 
thousands of men, and were absolutely sale assembly- 
places where the enemy could laugh at the worst efforts 
of out artillery. For offensive operations they would 
have been invaluable reservoirs, but for the defence of 
the Canal they were too close to the front line to be ideal. 
The fog and the indomitable perseverance with which 
out men kept up with the barrage and so prevented 
the egress of these reserves, caused the Bellenglise 
Tunnel fo become simply a means of swelling the tale 
of prisoners captured by out leading Brigade. Thus 
was the work of two years neutralized and more than 
neutralized in three or four hours. By the next day the 
victors themselves were snugly housed in the tunnel, 
lighted bfilliantly by a Boche electric plant tended by 
Boche electficians, sale from the raids of German aero- 
planes, and doubly safe from the shells from the Geïman 
heavy guns which were at that time again making 
Bellenglise and La Baraque their principal targets. 
Four thousand two hundred prisoners and seventy 
guns, at a cost of rather under 800 casualties--such was 
the record the 46th Division had to its credit on the night 
of the 29th September. The effect on the moral of the 
enemy was to be displayed in the days that were to 
corne. Never again would his Infantry fight confident 
in the idea that, if the worst happened, they had behind 
them an impregnable line on which fo fall back and re- 
organize. They knew--and we knew--that, whatever the 
German papers might say, there could be no line to corne 
like the Hindenburg Line, which had taken two years fo 
make and on which all the resources of German military 
engineering and an immense amount of money and labour 
had been expended. 
The breaking of the Hindenburg Line marked a definite 



THE BATTLE OF BELLENGLISE 79 
stage in the history of the war, for it opened the way 
to a war of movement which could only end in one way. 
The 46th Division had done its share. Next day we were 
to learn that, simultaneously, the line had been broken 
along the whole front on which it had been attacked by 
the First, Third, and Fourth British Armies; with it 
was broken the backbone of German resistance and the 
faith of the German people in the power of the German 
Army. In this connection a quotation from the column 
"' Through German Eyes" in The Times of December x x th 
is significant, and emphasizes, as nothing else has done, 
the importance of the action in which the 46th Division 
played a conspicuous part. There Professor Hans 
Delbriick--a German of the Germans--writes :-- 

" The turn in our fortunes began with the collapse 
of our attack on Rheims and the successful advance 
of the French north of the Marne. According to 
certain observations which had been communicated 
to me, Ludendorff had then already become very 
uncertain at heart. Nevertheless he and Herr von 
Hintze during the next nine weeks did nothing to 
ease our position politically--until on September the 
29th Ludendorff collapsed and completed our defeat 
by the offer of an armistice." 

The 46th Division, in spite of many changes since it 
had arrived in France in 9 IS,was still essentially a" Terri- 
torial " Division in the fullest and greatest sense of the 
word. Nothing could exceed the wave of feeling and 
pride which swept across the North Midland Counties on 
the receipt of news of this--one of the greatest achieve- 
ments of the war--for which their own Division was 
responsible. 



80 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 

Dozens of congratulatory messages were received from 
individuals and flore institutions personally interested 
in the exploit of the men of their own counties, who were 
engaged in making history and in creating traditions to up- 
lift the hearts of those who should corne after them, while 
setting a standard for future " Territorials '" to strive to 
equal. Such messages, republished in Divisional Orders 
and read by all the troops, could not rail to intensify an 
ardour and raise a moral, already well above the average. 
Perhaps the message which most touched the hearts and 
steeled the nerves of men who not so long ago themselves 
had thronged the playing-grounds and class-rooms of Mid- 
land schools, was one from the Mayor of Buxton, worthy 
of record in its intimate appeal :-- 

"Two thousand boys and girls from Buxton 
schools, Derbyshire, assembled in the Market Place 
to-day and saluted the Union Jack in honour of the 
glorious deeds of the 46th Division. They thank 
you for ail you have done for them, send their love, 
and pray God to bless you all." 



PART II 
THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 

CHAPTER IV 

TItE VICTORY AT RAMICOURT 
IF Bellenglise is the name which is destined to be for 
ever remembered by ail ranks of the 46th Division in 
connection with the most dramatic of the victories which 
was placed to their credit during the glorious autumn 
of 1918, still the Battle of Ramicourt, fought and won 
on the 3rd October, vill take its place in the annals of 
the Division as the action in which, beyond all others, 
superior numbers of the enemy vere thoroughly beaten 
in stout, straightforward fighting, on the part of the tank 
and file of the Infantry, inspired by the gallant leading 
of their officers. 
On this occasion there was no such providential fog 
as that to which in great measure was due the successful 
breaching of the Hindenburg Line at its strongest point. 
At Ramicourt the 46th Division met, on more equal 
terms, and defeated in a pitched battle by stark and 
straight fighting, the 24Ist, 22ISt, II9th, and 34th 
Divisions of the German Army. True, some of these 
Divisions had lately been withdrawn from other fronts 
and were still worn out with their previous great ordeal, 
but the 24Ist and 34th, at least, were fresh troops, and, 
after all, the 46th Division also had just passed through 



82 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
the strain of a most tremendous effort and, though flushed 
with well-merited success, the troops were to a certain 
extent iaded by their previous efforts. 
The Battles of Bellenglise and Ramicourt may be con- 
trasted in a single sentence: Bellenglise was a miracle; 
Ramicourt was a victory: therein lies the essential 
difference between them. 
At 5.30 p.m. on the 3oth September the 32nd Division 
passed through the 46th Division, who were resting on 
their final objective beyond Magny and Lehaucourt, and 
advanced, closely supported by British Cavalry, to what 
it was trusted would be the last fight the Germans should 
make in prepared positions this side of the Sambre- 
Oise Canal. The Division, however, met with more 
opposition than was expected, and was finally held 
up on the general line running between Sequehart (ex- 
clusive) and Joncourt (inclusive), while in front of 
them the enemy held the ]3eaurevoir-Fonsomme line, 
a partially completed but strongly wired system of 
trenches. He had also strong forces in Sequehart and 
strong posts thrown out everywhere in front of his main 
line of resistance right across the front of the Division. 
On the leff and right the Australians and Ist Division 
were also held, and the waiting Cavalry were forced to 
return west of the Canal and give up the attempt to 
break through for the present. 
It was quite clear that, if the original plan of a break- 
through on a large scale was to be carried out, a further 
attack would be necessary in order to overrun this last 
organized defensive position, which, though much less 
strong than the Hindenburg Line itself, was an insuperable 
obstacle to Cavalry, and, bravely defended by stout troops, 
was likely to give Infantry also a good deal of trouble. 
At a Corps Conference held in the afternoon of the 2nd 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 83 

October, the G.O.C. 46th Division was instructed to 
attack and capture the line Sequehart (exclusive)-- 
Montbrehain, getting into touch with the 2nd Australian 
Division to the north-west of the latter village. At the 
same rime the 32nd Division, side-slipping to the right, 
was to attack and capture Sequehart, thus protecti_n_g 
out right flank. 

Readers of this account will remember that the con- 
clusion of the Battle of Bellenglise, on the night of the 29th 
September, found the 46th Division relieved of pressure on 
their front by the 32nd Division, but with both flanks 
unprotected. Owing to the exposure of its flanks 
the Division remained in action throughout the night, 
and it was not until the early hours of the morning that 
out right flank was cleared by the occupation of Talana 
Hill andThorigny by the Ist Division. Still later the 2nd 
Australian Division overcame the resistance of the troops 
opposed to them, and, advancing through Etricourt, 
joined up with the 32nd Division well to out left front. 
This squeezed the 46th Division out of the line altogether, 
Divisional Headquarteis iemaining at Small Post Wood, 
while the Infantry Brigades concentrated, the 138th 
Brigade to the west of the Canal, the 137th Brigade on 
the eastern bank of the Canal, with Headquarters and one 
battalion in the Bellenglise Tunnel, and the 139th Brigade 
also east of the Canal with Headquarters in a dug-out in 
the Canal bank. The latter Brigade acted as Divisional 
Reserve to the 32nd Division and was placed temporarily 
under the orders of the G.O.C. of that Division. Of the 
Artillery, rive Brigades--the I6th Army Brigade R.H.A., 
the I4th Army Brigade R.F.A., the 23rd Army Brigade 
R.F.A., the I6ISt Army Brigade R.H.A., and the ii8th 
Army Brigade R.F.A.--remained in action covering the 



84 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
advance of the 32nd Division, while the remaining four-- 
the 5th Army Brigade R.F.A., the 23Ist and 23oth 
Brigades R.F.A., and the 232nd Army Brigade R.F.A.-- 
withdrew out of action and were placed in reserve to the 
west of the Canal. 
The Signal Company meanwhile received instructions 
to establish a Forward Report Centre at La Baraque, 
on the site of what had formerly been a small farm 
at the cross-roads 500 yards north-east of Bellenglise. 
Here were a number of deep dug-outs and one or two 
strong cement shelters which had formerly been the 
Headquarters of one of the German formations holding 
the main Hindenburg Line east of the Canal. This 
Report Centre with the necessary signal office and local 
telephone lines to '" G," " Q," and other essential offices 
sited in the neighbouring dug-outs, was completed during 
the Ist and 2nd October, and communication success- 
ftflly established v«ith Corps Headquarters; with all 
three Infantry Brigades in their reserve positions; and 
with 32nd Division Advanced Report Centre in a dug- 
out a few yards distant from the new signal office. At 
the saine rime three cable detachments were ordered 
up to La Baraque, ready for a move forv«ard in the 
event of a break-through, while all the cable which 
could be got forward in the rime was also collected 
here. 
All possible preparations were thus completed to meet 
any situation which might arise, either in the event of 
the Division being required to pass through the 32nd 
Division on a route match through the enemy country, or 
to reinforce in the event of the battle going against our 
troops. Subsequent events were to demonstrate that this 
prevision was to have a decisive bearing on the readiness 
of the Division to fight the battle, the plans for which 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 85 
were already being conceived in the mind of the Higher 
Command. 
Af 4.3o p.m., as already stated, the Corps Commander 
issued orders personally af a Corps Conference fo the 
General Offiçers commanding the Divisions concerned. 
These orders had to be considered by the Divisional 
Staffs and detailed instructions issued fo the G.O's.C., 
Infantry Brigades, and the O's.C. Artillery Groups, before 
any movements of formations, which were much scattered, 
could be arranged. The attack was scheduled fo com- 
mence af 6.5 a.m. the following morning, so if was 
clear from the beginning that no rime must be lost either 
in formulating plans, or in carrying them out vhen once 
devised, while any hitch in the proceedings, however 
small, was likely fo be disastrous. The scope of the 
operations was such as fo demand every atom of the 
strength of the Division, applied at the right time in 
exactly the right place in order to achieve success. 
Ramicourt was, in fact, to be that type of operation most 
dangerous unless carried out under the orders of an 
extremely efficient Staff by competent subordinates--an 
impromptu battle. If to this is added the fact that 
practically all preparation and movement had to be 
carried out by night--and a moonless night too, as so 
happened--and that the situation on the front held by 
the 32nd Division was by no means clear, even to the 
Staff of that Division, it will be seen that there was every 
chance of the attack going wrong from the start should 
any one senior officer prove unequal to the task allotted 
him. 
The country about the St. Quentin Canal had formed 
a slight interruption to the rolling downs to the westward, 
but here once again the landscape assumed the same 
characteristics. As far as eye could see from the tops 



86 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
of the low rounded ridges near the Canal there was no 
change. Everywhere were the same gently undulating 
features with occasional woods or copses, the whole 
seamed by the sunken roads which throughout were 
one of the salient characteristics of the country over 
which the Division had fought. These sunken roads, 
owing fo the shelter and security from observation 
afforded by them and the facility with which they could 
be organized for defence, were of the greatest importance 
from the military point of view. If was along such 
roads as tan approximately north and south that 
the enemy, after having been pushed out of his last 
prepared line, put up his most stubborn defence while 
being pressed back over this open country. Other 
features of the country which had a certain effect on 
military dispositions were the little scarps which existed 
along the edges of most of the valleys in the district. 
At these points, where the ground rises fo form the 
flat-contoured hills, the earth had usually been cut 
away to form a little cliff anything from two fo six 
or even more feet in height ; the resultant scarp, when 
facing in the right direction with regard fo the enemy, 
affording shelter from observation. These faces were 
usually of sort earth, chalk, or crmbly sandstone, and 
were used to a great extent by both combatants, who 
burrowed into them and so obtained a certain measure 
of security from shell tire af the cost of a minimum 
amount of labour. The shelter thus afforded from the 
weather conditions was also not to be despised as the 
autumn crept on, the nights grew longer, and the tempera- 
ture fell lower. Many hundreds ofmen of the 46th Division 
will in future days look back with pleasure fo the nights 
spent in these little, not uncomfortable, bivouacs after 
a hard day's work either fighting or chasing the '" Boche." 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 87 
Indeed, it may not be far from true that the best days 
of many lives will be those of the autumn of 1918, when 
to be alive and well was a thing to be grateful for, and 
when the British Army vas at last obtaining a just reward 
for ail its dogged and patient fighting. 
Little was known of the country over which the coming 
battle was to be fought, but, from aeroplane observation 
and prisoners' statements, it had been possible to plot 
on our maps the system of defence known as the 
]3eaurevoir-Fonsomme line where the enemy had turned 
at bay, and which the 46th Division was now asked to 
breach. On the map, this line appears as a con- 
tinuous double line of trenches heavily protected by 
two strong barbed-wire entanglements. It was appar- 
ently stronger at the western than at the eastern end of 
the objective of the Division, where, however, it was 
supported by the organized defences of the village of 
Sequehart and was overlooked and enfiladed by the 
machine guns and artillery on the high ground to the east. 
Actually a close examination of the line after its capture 
by our troops alters the values of the photographic 
representation considerably. Aeroplane photographs will 
show a line of trenches well and will betray the chief 
strong-points, but the details of a carefully-prepared 
system such as the one under present consideration are 
not so easily seen. The Beaurevoir-Fonsomme line was 
both stronger and weaker than it appeared. 
The unexpected strength of the line lay in two prin- 
cipal things. The first was the stout heart of the garrison 
which held it, properly imbued, as the men were, with a 
sense of its importance as the last of the German out- 
-lying lines of defence. The second source of strength 
was the presence at fifty-yard intervals of strong, well- 
constructed concrete shelters, where machine-gun crews 



88 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 

could obtain immunity from our barrage, fo reappear 
immediately it had passed and mow down out attack- 
ing Infantry if they lagged behind it. Never had if 
been more important for the success of out attack that 
the Infantry should keep up with the guns if casualties 
and perhaps repulse were to be avoided. 
The weakness of the line, on the other hand, consisted 
in the fact that its construction had never been com- 
pleted. Out success on the 29th September had been 
so wholly unexpected that work on the Fonsomme line 
had been restricted to the building of the concrete strong- 
points, the wiring of entanglements, and the tracing-out 
of the lines of trenches to a spade-depth only. " Surely" 
--the German Higher Command must have reflected-- 
"' the ]3ritish cannot take the Hindenburg Line in their 
stride. They will attack, as on the Somme, after weeks 
of preliminary bombardment, and in the meantime we 
shall have plenty of rime to complete the preparation 
of further lines behind." 
On the contrary, the whir!wind attack on the Canal 
proved irresistible and the assault on the Fonsomme 
line round the enemy to a certain extent unprepared, 
though the line as it was, with rifle pits three or 
four feet deep dug by individual defenders, was a 
sufficiently formidable obstacle fo tender the success of 
an attack doubtful. One feature of the Fonsomme line 
as it appears at present is the small extent to which if 
has been damaged by artillery. Near the Canal the de- 
fences had been smashed into chaos by out heavy artillery, 
so that in places it was diflïcult to distinguish the original 
plan on which they were built. The Fonsomme line is, 
however, practically undamaged : there is not one single 
concrete emplacement on the whole of the Divisional 
front which has been damaged by artillery tire, while the 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 89 
trenches themselves are nearly free from direct hits. 
There was, in fact, very little preliminary artillery prepara- 
tion for the Ramicourt Battle; what little work the 
" heavies " did carry out being confined chiefly to the 
villages and such dominant features as Doon Hill and 
Copse, where enemy artillery was active during the later 
stages of the battle. 
Besides the Beaurevoir-Fonsomme line, the main 
obstacles to be overcome in the area scheduled for 
attack by the 46th Division were the villages of 
Ramicourt and Montbrehain, lesser obstacles being the 
networks of sunken roads lying around Neville's Cross 
and Ramicourt Station, together with the Beaurevoir- 
Montbrehain railway-line which tan transversely across 
the Divisional front, forming a strong convex outer defence 
line fo Montbrehain. 
The country between these strong-points was, as already 
stated, open and undulating, but it was unfortunate 
that the dominating features--hills slightly above the 
average in height--were on the extreme right flank of 
the Divisional objective. These ridges, Mannequin Hill 
and Doon Hill, were to play a decisive part in the 
enemy's resistance, particulafly in assisting his strong 
counter-attacks towards the end of the day. Both 
from Mannequin Hill and Doon Hill, artillery and 
machine guns could tire with direct observation on the 
greater part of the country attacked, so that the guns 
on these hills caused considerable casualties long after 
the Infantry resistance had been overcome. Our troops 
were thus forced, for the sake of shelter, fo take up 
positions with inferior opportunities for observation, 
and the enemy in his counter-attacks was able to infiltrate 
into out positions from one direction and another without 
much opposition. Towards the end of the day, the 



9 ° THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
position had become very obscure indeed, and had to be 
cleared up, on one portion of our front at any rate, by a 
retreat to positions well behind those held by us at the 
conclusion of the morning's attack. 
When the orders for attack were received from the 
IX Corps, the situation on the front held by the 32nd 
Division was anything but clear, and reliable information 
could not be obtained as to the exact position of out own 
front-line troops and those of the enemy. It was decided, 
therefore, to attack from a line some distance behind 
out reported front fine, in order to make certain that 
the forming-up of out troops should not be interfered 
with by contact with enemy patrols. The selection of a 
forming-up line which could be located and on which 
the troops could be disposed in the darkness of the early 
morning might have been a matter of extreme difficulty. 
The problem was in this instance solved, however, by 
the presence of the Joncourt-Sequehart Road, a well- 
marked feature running parallel to the whole front of 
attack and, providentially, only a few hundred yards 
in front of the line held by the enemy. Guides from 
all units were therefore selected, shown the road and 
the approaches toit, and sent back to lead their units to 
their appointed places on this line. The actual forming-up 
line was taped out some 200 yards in front of this road 
and approximately parallel toit. 
"fo allow latitude for any possible short shooting or 
incorrect disposition of the attacking troops, the initial 
barrage line was laid down some 200 yards in advance 
of the forming-up line. Here it was to wait six minutes 
before lifting, in order to permit the Infantry to redis- 
tribute themselves under its shelter belote moving 
forward against the first objective. 
Perhaps the arm most affected by the shortness of 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 91 
notice before the attack was the Artillëry. The C.R.A. 
46th Division had under his command nine Brigades of 
Horse and Field Artillery, and with this force he was 
ordered fo cover the front of attack of both the 46th and 
32nd Divisions. Of these Brigades, rive were already in 
position, and the tire from these rive was arranged so as 
to cover the whole frbnt of the attack, the tire from the 
remaining four, which had to move forward, being super- 
imposed upon the barrage laid down by the former. 
Thus, in the event of the failure of these other Brigades 
to corne into action in time, a failure which had to be 
reckoned vith and which might, under adverse circum- 
stances, have been unavoidable, there would be no gaps 
in the barrage, and the troops, though insufiïciently 
supported, could have advanced to rime with a fair 
prospect of success. 
Instructions were at once sent out to ail Brigade 
Commanders to reconnojtre positions well east of the 
Canal within 2,000 yards of the front line, and to 
make the necessary arrangements to get their batteries 
in line and their ammunition dumped ready to open tire 
on the initial barrage line at zero hour if possible, or as 
soon afterwards ,-t they could manage. 
In this connection it may be interesting to the civilian 
reader to have some account of the special difiïculties 
of the Artillery under circumstances such as those we 
are considering. To deal with a particular case, the 
officer commanding any one of the nine Artillery groups 
covering the Division in the Battle of Ramicourt 
received his orders about one hour before dark. His 
preparafions had fo be completed and his batteries 
ready for action by 6.5 a.m. the following day. 
Positions must be reconnoitred, horses must be brought 
up from the wagon lines, guns must be got into posi- 



9 - THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
tion, telephone lines must be laid from Brigade Head- 
quarters to batteries, barrage tables must be prepared, 
and ammunition brought up and dumped handy to the 
guns. 
The group commander, taking his battery com- 
manders with him, proceeds direct to the area allotted to 
him, and arrives with hall an hour of daylight remaining 
in which to choose his headquarters and the battery 
positions. 
Battery positions must of course be chosen so that 
they are not under direct observation of the enemy. 
Precautions must also be taken to ensure that the guns 
can clear the crest in front of them and have a clear line 
of tire to engage the targets assigned to them. 
The exact positions of the enemy are not known with 
any certainty. A moment's thought will suflîce to show 
that the diflïculties of choosing in such short rime suitable 
positions for four batteries, in unknown country, with 
the situation obscure and the light failing, are all but 
insuperable. When, in spire of circumstances, battery 
positions bave been selected and a Brigade Head- 
quarters chosen, oflîcers are sent back to bring the guns 
into position. 
The oflîcers sent back bave had little chance of studying 
the country, and if is by now a pitch-black night. "fhe 
roads are crowded with traflïc, tracks are deep in mud 
and broken-up every few yards by deep shell-craters. 
Every yard of the way there is imminent danger of 
gun or wagon falling headlong into a hole from which 
it would take hours to retrieve them. When the posi- 
tions are finally reached, the guns must be manoeuvred 
over shell-torn ground into the precise sites selected for 
them. 
Meanwhile, the Brigade Staft, sitting in a hole in a 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 93 
bank, must get out their orders, and the battery com- 
manders sitting in shell-holes must work out, by fitful 
candle-light, their barrage tables. A telephone exchange 
must be established at Brigade Headquarters and some 
mlles of telephone lines laid to batteries. 
All this must take place in absolute darkness, working 
every minute against rime, while the enemy is scattering 
gas shells over the whole area. It needs little imagina- 
tion, therefore, to realize the immense difficulties and the 
thousand chances that fate may oppose to the achieve- 
ment of the result aimed at. 
The fact that good positions were selected and all 
Brigades, except the 232nd Army Field Artillery Brigade, 
were able to open tire up to rime reflects the greatest 
credit on the energy and good leadership of the com- 
manding officers, and on the zeal with which their orders 
were carried out by all subordinate officers and by the 
tank and file of the Brigades. 
The Brigade above mentioned was ata considerable 
distance from Divisional Headquarters and was not at 
the rime in communication with the latter by telephone. 
Orders did not, therefore, reach its commander until very 
late, and at zero hour this Brigade was still moving, 
though it came into action shortly afterwards. 
The barrage tobe fired by the Field Artillery was 
naturally of a somewhat impromptu nature, as no 
rime was available for the issue of elaborate rime-tables 
and barrage maps. Everything possible was done, how- 
ever, to ensure accurate firing, and the precaution referred 
to above, that of throwing the initial barrage some distance 
in front of the Infantry, enabled the latter to conform 
to any slight irregularities. The reports of all ranks who 
advanced under it, indeed, show that, thouih there was 
slightly more short shooting than usual, the barrage as 



94 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
a whole was regular and adequate, so that the ïnfantry 
were able to advance behind it with confidence. 
The rôle of the Heavy ArtiLlery during the present 
battle was a very subordinate one when compared with the 
part played by if in the attack on Bellenglise. Good work 
was, however, done, both by the 6-inch howitzers which 
fired in front of the barrage, and by the 6o-pounders and 
heavier guns which bombarded Sequehart, Ramicourt, 
and Montbrehain, together with the main approaches to, 
and commanding features in, the area attacked. 
The problem of signal communications in such a battle 
as that projected was no small one. Very fortunately, 
the establishment of an Advanced Report Centre at La 
Baraque provided the skeleton of a system, the details 
of which might be, and were, fiLled in at short notice 
under difficult circumstances. The O.C.R.A. Signals 
was faced with the problem of discovering from Brigade 
commanders the positions which they were selecting 
for their new Headquarters, and anticipating their require- 
ments by connecting these Headquarters by telephone 
with Advanced Division. This had tobe done for nine 
Brigades, and, in most cases, the lines tobe laid were two 
or three mlles in length. It was fortunate, indeed, that 
rive of these Brigades were already connected to the 32nd 
Divisional Report Centre at La Baraque itself, so that a 
short strip of poled cable 2oo or 30o yards in length was 
sufficient to connect the two arteries together and to 
assure temporary communication with the greater part 
of the Artillery. For the test, cable detachments worked 
all night despite darkness and a sporadic bombardment 
by gas shells which was responsible for several slight 
casualties. On more than one occasion lines were cut 
as they were being laid and, in particular, the village of 
Joncourt proved so unpleasant that the route to the 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 95 
Divisional Observation Officer had finally fo avoid 
that place. Both horses and men of the cable detach- 
ment had worked ail the previous day and, during the 
preparations for the Battle of Bellenglise, had had a 
gruelling time. Nothing daunted, however, by previous 
work or present danger, ai1 ranks persevered, and by 
morning, when six o'clock brought us fo within rive 
minutes of zero bout, the last line--that to the Australian 
Division on out left flank--was through, and both Flank 
Divisions, ail the Infantry Brigades (both front and rear 
Headquarters), and eight Artiilery Brigades were in touch 
with Divisional Headquarters by telephone. When the 
Divisional Commander and C.R.A. arrived and the battle 
began, they were able to control the whole situation from 
a central point, where they could each consult the other 
as Artillery support was needed or Infantry dispositions 
were changed. Good communication is essential in 
modern warfare where the opposing armies are far-flung 
over many mlles of country, and at Ramicourt, under 
circumstances as adverse as they well could be, the 
46th Signal Company justified itself to the last man. 
Day broke and showed a strong and easily-maintained 
cable network, with both telegraph and telephone com- 
munication to ail Headquarters, this being duplicated 
by complete visual and wireless systems which, however, 
were not used to any great extent because the lines held 
up so well. 
Cavalry, Engineers, and Artiilery, all play their essential 
parts in modern war, and, to understand the battle, a 
discussion of the necessary preparations which make in 
so great measure for success or failure is essential. Yet, 
when once the description of the battle itself is reached, 
it is the Infantry (the P.B.I. as they delight to call them- 
selves) who must perforce--and of right--take up the 



96 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
greater proportion of out interest and attention. Battles 
can be won---true, at tremendous cost--.with little or 
no artillery preparation, and with little or no assistance 
from Cavalry or Engineers. This was proved for ever 
in the early days of the war on the Eastern front, where 
the masses of ill-armed and ill-equipped Russian soldiery 
were driven to their death, yes, and to victory, against 
the best-equipped army in Europe. Without Infantry, 
on the other hand, no amount of artillery or other prepara- 
tion can lead to any capture of territory, or to the destruc- 
tion of an opposing my. So, at Ramicourt, while the 
Artillery and Signals played an important part in the 
victory, itis to the Infantry we must turn to find the 
driving-force which out-fought the German Divisions 
opposed to us and registered another victory on the 
already long list to the credit of the British Armies. 
The match of the I nfantry to the forming-up positions 
was carried out in the pitch blackness of a very dark 
night and over unfamiliar countly. Despite this, how- 
ever, no hesitation or trouble occurred, and the forming- 
up line was reached in good rime. By this rime, the first 
glimmer of dawn made it possible for officers to locate 
their positions and forming-up was carried out without 
difficulty by means of the taped line, or on compass 
bearings, all front-line battalions deploying on the agreed 
positions 200 yards behind the barrage line. Enemy 
artillery was normally active during this period, paying 
particular attention to Lehaucourt Valley, and, while 
waiting for the barrage to open, the I/6th South Staffords 
were unfortunate enough to lose an officer and six men 
by a direct hit from a shell. 
The Infantry of the Division were attacking on a two- 
Brigade front with the I39th Infantry Brigade on the 
left and the I37th Infantry Brigade on the right, the 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 97 
I38th Infantry Brigade being in Divisional Reserve 
round about Magny-la-Fosse and the St. Quentin Canal. 
Attached to the latter Brigade were the I/xst Monmouths, 
who were ordered to concentrate in and about Springbok 
Valley. 
Dawn broke with a heavy fog as on the day of the 
Bellenglise Battle, but on this occasion the mist thinned 
rapidly, and when the barrage opened and the men 
sprang forward at 6.5 a.m., the fog was clearing with 
every prospect of a fine day to follow. Flushed with 
their previous success, otîïcers and men leaped to their 
feet and thrust forward to conform to the barrage, which 
stood before them, a thundering wall of smoke and 
pulverized earth, interposing between them and the enemy 
a friendly, if highly dangerous, veil of invisibility. 
Before them, for six long minutes, the line of bursting 
shells stood still, then, with the Infantry behind it, com- 
menced to move steadily forward, and the conquest of 
the last German main line of resistance was begun. 
Behind the Infantry rumbled the tanks, of which one 
company was again attached to each fighting Brigade, 
and whose duties vere the destruction of the barbed- 
wire entanglements which formed the chier physical 
obstacle in the path of our advance. 
The tasks of the two Brigades in the front line were 
essentially different. The Left Brigade (I39th Infantry 
Brigade) had a straightforvard if ditîïcult task allotted 
to it-the task of advancing against the Fonsomme 
line at its strongest point and then overrunning and 
mopping up in succession the villages of Ramicourt and 
Montbrehain. From the first, the attack met with strong 
resistance, the German troops inthe Fonsomme line putting 
up a very stout fight indeed. There had been no prelimin- 
ary bombardment, and paths through the wire had to be 
7 



98 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
ploughed by the tanks. The Infantry, pouring through 
these gaps, or making their way independently through 
the wire belts, then rushed the trenches with the bayonet, 
carrying all before them, and utterly destroying the 
garrison, who, to do them justice, ruade no attempt to 
escape their rate by flight. If is estimated that practically 
the whole garrison of this line was wiped out, between 
15o and 200 German bodies being round after the battle 
in the trenches on the front attacked by the I39th Brigade 
alone. Immediately in rear of the Fonsomme line, more 
stiff fighting was experienced. Here enemy machine-gun 
sections were dug in in isolated gun-pits which were very 
difficult indeed to deal with. 
If was in the attack on such posts that Sergeant W. H. 
Johnson of the I/5th Sherwoods well earned the Victoria 
Cross which was later bestowed upon him. This N.C.O., 
when his platoon was held up by such a nest of enemy 
machine g-uns, worked his way forward single-handed 
under very heavy rifle and machine-g-un tire and charged 
the post, bayoneting several gunners, and capturing the 
two machine guns which had been delaying the advance. 
During the attack, he was severely wounded by a bomb, 
but nevertheless continued fo lead his men forward until, 
a similar situation occurring, he again rushed forward 
alone and attacked the post. This time, taking a leaf 
out of the enemy's book, he ruade his attack with bombs 
and, putting both guns out of action, captured the crews, 
thus again enabling the troops to advance and preventing 
them from falling dangerously far behind the barrage. 
Having cleared the Beaurevoir-Fonsomme line with 
comparatively few casualties to themselves, the Sherwoods 
then advanced on the village of Ramicourt, where, 
however, the two leading battalions--the 5th and 8th 
Sherwood Foresters--apparently lost direction slightly, 



SERGEANT W. l-[. JOHNSON, ¥.C., I/sTH SHERWOODS. ŒEHE HERO 
OF THE ATTACK ON THE BEAUREVOIR-17ONSOMME LINE 

Rcproduced by courtcsy of E. Taylor & .on. 6, Bridge Place, XVorksop. 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 99 
spreading out through the northern and southern out- 
skirts of the village. Observing this, the O.C. 6th Sher- 
wood Foresters, who was in reserve, acted on his own 
initiative and pushed his reserve company and Battalion 
Headquarters through the village, and commenced to 
mop it up. In this task, he was later assisted by the 
support companies of the leading battalions. The troops 
in Ramicourt, however, in contrast with those encountered 
in the line before the village, put up comparatively 
little resistance, having been probably demoralized by 
the attention paid to the village and its surroundings by 
our heavy artillery. "l'he village yielded in ail some 400 
prisoners. Shortly after crossing the Fonsomme line, 
however, during the clearing of the outlying machine-gun 
posts, the attacking battalions suffered severe losses, and 
amongst those who fell were two battalion commanders 
--Lieutenant-Colonel t3. kV. Vann, V.C., M.C., of the I/6th 
Sherwoods, killed, and Lieutenant-Colonel A. Hacking, 
M.C., wounded. The latter, however, remained with his 
men until the situation had been cleared up and the 
attack had passed well east of Ramicourt. Mention 
has already been ruade of the extraordinary bravery 
and initiative shown by Colonel Vann at the ]3attle of 
Bellenglise, bravery which has since been recognized by 
the award of a posthumous Victoria Cross, the highest 
honour that can be bestowed upon a soldier, and the 
greatest mark of respect that can be paid to his memory 
should he have fallen in the execution of his duty. This 
officer, during the Battle of Ramicourt, showed the same 
fine spirit as in the previous action, and his death, while 
leading his men forward among the enemy machine- 
gun posts beyond the Fonsomme line, was a loss which 
was felt throughout the Division in less degree only than 
in the battalion he had led so well. 



IOO THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 

About this period of the action, it became evident 
that the Division on the left of the 46th Division was 
hot making progress according to rime-table, so, in 
order to protect the left flank of the Brigade, the O.C. 
8th Sherwood Foresters was directed to despatch two 
companies through Wiancourt to form a defensive 
flank. This was done and a few prisoners taken. 
Thus, with its flank secure, the Brigade was once more 
in a position to more forward against the strong bodies 
of the enemy who had taken up their position in the 
sunken roads and in the railway-cutting at Ramicourt 
Station, and who were likely to delay the advance con- 
siderably, unless the [nfantry fell upon them while their 
resistance was smothered by our barrage, • 
At about this period of the advance, the troops also 
came under enfilade tire from high groundtothe north-west 
of Montbrehain and slightly to the left front of the final 
obj ective assigned to the Division. In order to avoid this 
galling tire, hedges and sunken roads had to be resorted 
to, and the advance in consequence now lost its ordered 
nature, the men dribbling forward as occasion served 
and taking advantage of every possible bit of shelter. 
During the advance to Ramicourt, the tanks allotted 
to the Brigade played a subordinate part, but they were 
very useful in clearing out isolated machine-gun nests 
and, especially, in mopping-up the western outskirts of 
Ranficourt, where, however, ail but one were knocked 
out. The remaining tank advanced with the Infantry 
until immediately south of Montbrehain, when, just belote 
reaching the first obiective, it advanced single-handed 
against a nest of no less than sixteen machine guns, 
killing the whole of the crews of these guns, but being 
itself disabled during the fight. From this stage, the 
Infantry advanced without further help from tanks. 



THE BATTI.E OF RAMICOURT IOX 

In spite of strong resistance and fairly heavy casualties, 
the sunker, roads at Ramicourt Station were cleared of 
the enemy without out men falling behind the barrage, 
and, eventually, the whole line formed up on the first ob- 
jective, a line running north-west and south-east througb 
the southern outskirts of Montbrehain. Here, the barrage 
halted for twenty minutes, and, while the fighting troops 
were reorganized, success signals were fired, and news 
sent back to Divisional Headquarters of the good progress 
ruade by the attack. On receipt of this news, the sup- 
porting troops under the command of the G.O.C. I38th 
Infantry Brigade were ordered to occupy the I3eaurevoir- 
Fonsomme line. At the same time, the C.R.A. 46th 
Division ordered two batteries from each group to more 
forward into the area west of Ramicourt ready to support 
any further advance or to assist the Infantry to repulse 
any counter-attack which might be launched after they 
had reached their final obiective. Meanwhile, the absence 
of any support on out left flank had entailed the north- 
eastward extension of the defensive flank already pushed 
out in the direction of Wiancourt. The greater part of 
the 8th Battalion of Sherwood Foresters was therefore 
now fully engaged in protecting this flank, and the driving- 
power of the Brigade was by so much reduced. 
Dufing the attack, as in the attack on Bellenglise, and 
subsequent attacks in the more open warfare which was 
to follow, the trench mortar batteries attached to each 
Brigade, an arm of the Service which (as its naine sug- 
gests) was developed dufing trench warfare, had proved 
of great use, but were handicapped by their comparative 
immobility. Sometimes, it was even round advisable to 
use the personnel of the sections as riflemen, and good 
value from the men was undoubtedly obtained in this way. 
There were many occasions, however, when the guns did 



Io2 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
excellent work, either in dealing with unusually stubborn 
machine-gun nests, or in the protection of an exposed 
flank by overhead tire, and, throughout this and other 
actions, all officers, N.C.O.s, and men of these batteries 
behaved superbly, whether employed as Infantry or 
Artillery. In the attack on Ramicourt, especially, one 
officer of the I39th Trench Mortar Battery--Second- 
Lieutenant H. Edgson of the I/5th Sherwood Foresters-- 
greatly distinguished himself. Being determined that 
his mortars should play as important a part as possible 
in the battle, he showed the greatest perseverance and 
gallantry, taking his section of guns up through the heavy 
enemy barrage, and succeeding on three occasions in 
bringing them into action against the retiring enemy, 
causing many casualties amongst them. Later on, when 
unable fo keep pace with the advance, he round a company 
of Infantry whose officers had all become casualties, so, 
taking command, he reorganized the company and led if 
forward. During the subsequent advance, losing no 
chance of turning his technical knowledge fo advantage, 
he showed marked initiative, twice turning a hostile 
trench mortar on the enemy--on one occasion, destroying 
an enemy machine-gun nest and, on another, dispersing 
a party of enemy who were collecting for a local counter- 
attack. 
The attack from the first objective was resumed by 
the 6th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters immediately 
the protective barrage lifted, and, af the start, the fresh 
attack met with strong enerny resistance, heavy street 
fighting taking place in Montbrehain, particularly in the 
area about the cemetery which had been strongly 
organized for defence. This latter place was finally 
rushed and cleared by a series of locally-organized small 
attacks, but it proved impossible to consolidate and hold 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT lO3 
the position owing to the heavy machine-gun tire from 
the high ground to the north which was strongly held 
by the enemy. The village itself also was held in force 
and proved very difficult to clear, much sniping and 
machine-gun tire being encountered. Officer casualties 
in particular were very heavy during the street fighting 
at this period of the battle. For some rime the battalion 
was, indeed, held up altogether, and the situation was 
not made any more easy by the presence of civilians. Of 
these, some seventy were round in Ramicourt and Mont- 
brehain, some of whom nshed out to give our men 
greeting, as they passed to take their share in turning 
out the German garrison. 
The attack on the village of Montbrehain was carried 
out under the command of Major J. A. Shedden, M.C., 
who had taken command of the i/6th Sherwood Foresters 
after Colonel Vann had been killed in action, and if was 
fo his personal example that the success of the attack 
was very largely due, as it was on his battalion, up fo the 
present, the brunt of the fighting had fallen. Now, how- 
ever, the 5th and 8th Battalions, having achieved their 
objectives and completed the formation of a defensive 
flank, sent companies inward fo assist in the mopping- 
up of the village. The enemy then, imagining himself 
to be outnumbered, lost heart and surrendered freely, 
with the result that in a short time the whole of the 
village was in out hands, with over I,OOO prisoners in 
addition. 
One of the principal features of the enemy's defence, 
and one which gave out troops most trouble to over- 
come, was a battery of field guns snugly ensconced 
just to the eastward of the northern outskirts of 
the village. These were successfully dealt with by 
a company of the I/5th Sherwoods, who, under the 



lO 4 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
gallant leading of Lieutenant J. w. Porter, overcame 
all opposition and rushed the teams, bayoneting or 
shooting those of the gunners who did not either take to 
flight or surrender, and capturing ail six guns. This 
officer then endeavoured to lead his company eastward 
against heavy machine-gun tire and two batteries of 
field guns firing over open sights, but was unable to make 
progress against the overwhelming oppositionencountered, 
and was finally obliged to dig in and consolidate his 
position in the eastern outskirts of the village. 
The mopping-up of the village of Montbrehain was 
completed by 11.3o a.m., and out troops, by that time, 
rested practically on the objectives assigned to them in 
the plans for the attack. Attempts were then ruade to 
push out platoon posts to the high ground on the 
north, east, and south-east of the village. The strength 
of the Brigade had, however, been seriously depleted 
during the advance, and the enemy were in great strength 
and well supported by artillery, so that all attempts to 
debouch from the village proved abortive. Another 
thing which had, of course, led to great dispersion of 
strength which otherwise might have suflïced to establish 
out hold on the high ground beyond the village, was the 
insecurity of both flanks and the consequent necessity 
of providing troops to make them sale. The most 
advanced post of the Australians lay due east of the 
village of Wiancourt, so that the front held by the troops 
of the I39th Brigade was twice the length originally 
intended. On the left also, although the Sherwoods 
were on the inter-brigade boundary, contact could not 
be established with the Stafford Brigade, and parties 
pushed out to gain touch had been, up to this rime, 
unsuccessful. The Staffords, owing to similar trouble 
with their right flank, had side-slipped considerably, and 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT lO5 
the reserve troops pushed in fo fill the gap had not yet 
reached their forward positions. 
Thus, twelve noon found out Left Brigade somewhat 
precariously established on their final objective, and, 
before proceeding fo follow their fortunes further, it fs 
necessary fo turn and consider what had happened in 
the meantime fo the I37th Infantry Brigade, which was 
entrusted with the attack on the right of out front. 
While the attack of the I39th Brigade was a straight- 
forward assault on a frontage of some 2,000 yards, and 
the main difficulties consisted in the overcoming of 
enemy resistance in the Fonsomrne line af one of ifs 
strongest points and the capture, or envelopment, of the 
villages of Ramicourt and Montbrehain, the task of the 
I37th Brigade was essentially different. 
This Brigade, while attacking on a somewhat narrower 
frontage af first, was faced with the necessity of spread- 
ing out fanwise, in order fo conform fo the lack of 
movement of the 32nd Division on their right flank. 
Throughout the action their most difficult problems 
were :--(i) the filling-up of gaps due fo this fanwise 
increase of their front; (2) their uncertainty about the 
village of Sequehart; (3) the avoidance and neutralization 
of machine-gun and artil!ery tire from the high ground 
of Mannequin Hill, running as if did right across their 
front. 
Af zero hour, the Brigade moved forward on a two- 
battalion front with the I/5th South Staffords in support. 
The latter were ordered fo assemble in Lehaucourt Valley. 
but, as the enemy barrage fell on the southern slopes of 
this valley, they later moved forward fo the high ground 
above if and so avoided further casualties. 
The first obstacle in the way of the advance of the 
I/6th North Staffords, moving on the left of the attack, 



xo6 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
was Chataignies Wood, a small copse 300 or 400 yards 
square in which all the trees had been cut down 
and removed by the Germans, but where the brushwood 
af-/orded good concealment for enemy machine gunners 
and riflemen. The Staffords opened out on either side 
of this wood, two companies going to the right and two 
to the left, while a tank fired into it from the front and 
engaged the attention of the enemy within it. Once past 
it, the right and left halves of the battalion ]oined up 
again and moved forward to the attack on the Fonsomme 
line, while the support battalion--the I/sth South 
Stafords--sent forward a platoon to mop up the wood 
and the farm buildings at its north-eastern corner. The 
latter proved to be honeycombed with dug-outs which 
were subsequently used by us as a Brigade Head- 
quarters. 
Meanwhile, the right battalion--the I/6th South 
Stafords--had met with no opposition until they ad- 
vanced against the crest of the hill immediately south 
of Chataignies Wood, where considerable resistance 
was encountered and overcome, the enemy sufering 
severely from our Lewis-gun tire as they retreated down 
the valley to the eastward. Following up the retreating 
enemy closely, the x/6th South Stafords were again held 
up almost immediately by the defences of the south- 
ward extension of the Fonsomme line, which runs south- 
east towards Fontaine d'Uterte. Here, considerable 
trouble was experienced from machine guns hidden in 
concrete emplacements, and was not overcome until the 
guns had been rushed and the crews bayoneted. The 
battalion at this period of its advance sufered considerable 
casualties, but pushed on and reached its final objective 
on the slopes of Manneqtfin Hill by 8.o a.m. Strong 
parfois were pushed forward at once over the top of 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT lO 7 
Mannequin Hill; but here the enemy was holding the 
crest in force, and the battalion, which had been obliged 
to drop companies to its right flank owing to the uncer- 
tainty as regards Sequehart, was not in suflïcient strength 
to overcome this opposition. The men therefore withdrew 
under orders and consolidated in the sunken road on 
the near slopes of the hill, where much trouble was ex- 
pefienced from enemy snipers and machine guns both 
on the crest of the hill and on the high ground east of 
Sequehart, which had been recaptured by the Germans 
from the 32nd Division. 
The necessity for securing the right flank of the Division 
had, very naturally, caused the whole Brigade to move 
much further fo the right than had been intended in the 
original plans, and this caused the formation of a gap 
I,ooo yards wide between the left battalion of the I37th 
Brigade and the fight flank of the I39th Brigade. This 
situation was at once remedied by the O.C. I/Sth South 
Staffords, who threw the whole of his remaining forces 
into the gap, attacking and carrying the Fonsomme line 
on the left of the Brigade sector, and capturing a number 
of pfisoners and machine guns. This, however, left the 
Brigade entirely without support, until the arrival of 
the 5th Leicesters from the Reserve Brigade. 
The original left battalion of the Brigade, the I/6th 
North Staffords, after enveloping Chataignies Wood, 
encountered stiff opposition in the Fonsomme line, where 
the bayonet was once more used with great effect. Here, 
the men managed to keep up with the barrage, but at 
the cross-roads south-east of Ramicourt they were again 
held up by machine-gun tire and lost touch with the 
Brigade on their left. Later, they gained touch beyond, 
only to lose it once again at Neville's Cross, where two 
field guns were encountered firing point-blank over open 



lO8 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 

sights at our advancing line. This obstacle was finally 
dealt with by a party of Lewis gunners, who worked 
round fo a tank and put the guns out of action. The 
battalion, with the exception of a small composite party 
of I/6th North Staffords and Sherwood Foresters, now 
side-slipped fo the right considerably and, as mentioned 
above, the support battalion was pushed in fo fill the 
gap thus created. 
Meanwhile, this small party of thirty-two men--twenty 
of the Staffords and twelve Sherwoods--pressed on to- 
wards Doon Mill, which the enemy held in force and from 
which he poured a galling tire on the left of the I37th 
Brigade and the right of the I39th Brigade. They were, 
however, unable to reach their objective, and, finding 
themselves out of touch with ail other British troops, they 
were obliged fo return fo Neville's Cross and the road 
running south from this point. Here, they maintained 
their positions for two hours under enfilade machine-gun 
tire from Mannequin Hill, which finally forced a retire- 
ment fo a line running approximately north and south, 
about I,OOO yards south-east of Ramicourt. 
Thus, the I37th Infantry Brigade also gained ifs main 
objectives fo rime, but, in order fo do so, had absorbed 
ail reserve troops into the fighting lit., and was 
subsequently obliged to fall back considerably, owing to 
heavy enemy tire from the dominating ridges along ifs 
front. There appears fo bave been no organized counter- 
attack on this portion of the front until late in the day, 
but the enemy fought stoutly and isolated posts, strongly 
held, prevented our line being established on the crest 
of Mannequin Hill and af Doon Mill as was intended, those 
parties of our Infantry who did get forward being sub- 
jected fo enfilade tire and exposed fo the danger of being 
cut off. The open nature of the country, in fact, enabled 



THE BA'rTLE OF RAMICOURT 

lO 9 

the enemy to dominate the situation from the high 
ground on which he was able to maintain himself, and 
out troops had to be withdrawn into positions where 
they could be sheltered from this enfilade tire. 



CHAPTER V 

ENEMY COUNTER-ATTACKS REPULSEDTHE ADVANCE 
TO BOHAIN 

ONCE the attack on the St. Quentin Canal and the 
Hindenburg Line was an assured success, it became 
evident that the front attacked by the 46th and 32nd 
Divisions was a likely place for a possible through-break, 
in which the conditions of really open warfare might 
quickly be established and Cavalry might corne into 
their own again. One of the most picturesque features 
behind the line, during these days, was undoubtedly 
this concentration of Cavalry in our immediate rear. 
For some days, every dry-weather track was one long 
line of horsemen moving up two by two; all the 
roads were crowded with Cavalry transport, and the whole 
countryside was covered with their calnps and bivouacs. 
Cavalry Corps Headquarters was established at " the 
Tumulus," and every preparation for a possible advance 
was ruade, the only flaw in the dispositions being that 
success would have been more probable had the fore- 
most Brigades been camped well to the east instead of to 
the west of the Canal. 
It was originally intended to push the Cavalry through 
after the attack ruade by the 32nd Division on the 3oth 
September and Ist October, but, owing to the successful 
resistance of the enemy on the Beaurevoir-Fonsomme 
line, this idea had to be abandoned, and the advanced 

I IO 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT III 

Brigade, which had been pushed forward in readiness, 
retired again to the west of the St. Quentin Canal. 
Now that the Fonsomme line had been breached and it 
was known that no organized system of defence |ay in front 
of our troops, it seemed that another favourable oppor- 
tunity had corne, and word was immediately sent back to 
the 5th Cavalry Brigade to advance and exploit our 
success. This Brigade, commanded by Brigadier-General 
N. Haig, C.M.G., and composed of the Scots Greys, i2th 
Lancers, and 2oth Hussars, were, however, a considerable 
distance behind the line, and some time elapsed befOre 
they were able to corne into action, by which rime the 
enemy had recovered from their surprise and their 
resistance had considerably stiffened. It was then clear 
that Cavalry would be unable to dislodge the machine- 
gun posts on the high ground beyond out front, and the 
Brigade was withdrawn into Divisional Reserve and later 
dismounted and used to reinforce the i37th Brigade, 
taking up position, together with the 9th Corps Cyclists, 
in the Fonsomme line. 
At noon, the situation appears to have been as follows:-- 
The 139th Brigade were holding Montbrehain and their 
final objective generally, with a long defensive flank 
thrown back in the direction of Wiancourt, and with their 
right flank in the air altogether, since touch could not be 
obtained with the Stafford Brigade. The latter Brigade, 
which had reached its objective early in the morning, 
had been forced to fall back and now occupied a line con- 
siderably in rear of that held by the 139th Brigade. Of 
the supporting Brigade---the 138th Infantry Bfigade---one 
battalion (the 4th Leicesters) was now ordered up to 
strengthen the left flank of the 139th Brigade, and the 
5th Lincolns moved up to take the place of this battalion 
in the Beaurevoir-Fonsomme line. The remaining battalion 



xxz THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
--the 5th Leicesters--was held in reserve to reinforce the 
x37th Infantry Brigade should their presence be required. 
The first counter-attack of any magnitude took place 
on the front held by the x39th Brigade. At xz.3o p.m., 
enemy scouts were observed moving through Champignons 
Copse, and these men were followed by troops in artillery 
formation. Word of this movement was at once sent 
back to the Artillery, but communication between battalion 
and brigade was intermittent only, the lines being fre- 
quently broken by enemy shells, so that the news did 
not reach the Artillery until the counter-attack had 
commenced. 
Our barrage thus fell behind the Germans, who con- 
tinued to advance in waves until they reached the road 
running due south from Neville's Cross. From here, the 
enemy in small bodies moved on down the sunken road 
running south-west from the Cross, and managed to make 
their way along this road for some 5o0 yards before 
coming under heavy Lewis-gun and rire tire from our 
troops east of Ramicourt. Foiled in their advance in 
this direction, they next worked up towards iIontbrehain, 
and, taking advantage of the cover afforded bythe quarries 
south of that village, filtered into the south-west corner 
of the village, where they were lost to sight. 
In view of this situation and of a report received at 
this rime at Brigade Headquarters to the effect that the 
enemy was massing for a counter-attack north of Mont- 
brehain, the G.O.C. I39th Brigade decided to withdraw 
his men from the village itself. Orders were therefore 
given for a line to be consolidated south of lIontbrehain, 
utilizing the Beaurevoir-lIontbrehain Railway from the 
Divisional boundary to 25o yards south of Ramicourt 
Station, and thence due south to the line already held by 
the x37th Brigade. 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 113 
It was only through the energy displayed by both 
officers and N.C.O.s that the withdrawal from the bottle- 
neck of Montbrehain was carried out without loss, but 
the troops were finally extricated from their dangerous 
position and took up the line marked out for them, 
being reinforced by the 4th Leicesters and the Monmouths, 
who were sent up from the Fonsomme line for the 
purpose. 
This line was held as strongly as possible, and all avail- 
able reserves were concentrated in the sunken roads to 
the north and south of Ramicourt. The enemy soon 
reoccupied Montbrehain and placed Inachine guns on 
the western outskirts of the village, but ail his atteinpts 
to debouch from the village were stopped by our tire. 
During the attack, one section of out own Inachine 
guns did very good service with indirect tire against the 
advancing enemy. Throughout the day, the coinpanies 
of the Machine-Gun t3attalion attached to the attacking 
Brigades had been of iininense help, engaging the eneiny's 
field guns and his enfilading Inachine g-uns whenever possi- 
ble and inflicting numerous casualties. Great initiative 
was shown on many occasions by officers colnlnanding 
machine-gun sections, and Lieutenant W. H. Hoff, of the 
46th Machine-Gun t3attalion, particularly distinguished 
himself during a counter-attack, instructing his men to 
take up position on a vantage-point behind the retiring 
Infantry while himself collecting the Infantry and 
leading thein forward to the attack. He thus gained 
rime for his men to establish themselves in a command- 
ing position, with the result that the counter-attack was 
held up. 
The enemy's retaliatory tire was much heavier dufing 
the counter-attack just described and for the test of the 
day. Ramicourt itself, and Montbrehain belote its re- 
S 



114 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
occupation, were both heavily shelled and all civilians 
were evacuated from both villages. As Ramicourt had 
become a death-trap, our reserves were distributed round 
about it, instead of in the town itself. 
The line as now held was maintained intact until the 
night of the 3rd/4th October, when, on the extreme left, 
out troops were withdrawn from the railway north of 
the Montbrehain-Wiancourt Road and disposed along 
that road facing northwards in order to deal with a 
possible flank attack. 
No further counter-attack was marie on the left Brigade, 
but, at 6.30 p.m., the enemy appeared fo have advanced 
and made a gap in out line on the front held by the 
I37th Brigade and to be filtering through this gap. 
The advance, however, was not successful. Orders were 
sent to the C.R.A., and a barrage put down in front of out 
line by both field and heavy artillery. This was main- 
tained until the situation was cleared up, out line being 
reorganized behind the protection afforded by the guns. 
Thus on the evening of the 3rd October the Division held 
a line extending from the north-western slopes of Manne- 
quin Hill to where the Montbrehain-Sequehart Road 
crosses the German light railway between Joncourt 
and Montbrehain. From there the line tan to Rami- 
court Station, thence along the Beaurevoir Railway to 
where the latter crosses the Montbrehain-Wiancourt 
Road, and thence along that road to the Divisional 
boundary, west of Wiancourt. 
On the night of the 3rd/4th October that portion of 
the line held by the I39th Brigade was taken over in its 
entirety by the I38th Brigade and the Monmouths, and 
the former Brigade was withdrawn into Divisional Re- 
serve. 
During the whole of the 4th October the line was held 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 115 
by the Division under continuous pressure from the 
enemy, who occupied the high ground all around and 
made full use of the opportunities for direct observation 
and enfilade fire thus afforded to him. 
On the night of the 4th/5th October, however, the 
2nd Australian Division took over the left Brigade sector, 
and the 3rd Brigade of the st Division was placed at 
the disposal of the G.O.C. 46th Division. This Brigade 
was used to relieve the I37th Brigade on the right of the 
sector, and thus the part played by the troops of the 
46th Division in this action was completed. 
The fighting throughout the action was of the heaviest 
nature and our casualties, particularly in the retreat 
from Mannequin Hill and the fighting in and around 
Montbrehain, were very high, especially in Offlcers, of 
whom over a hundred fell, including rive battalion 
commanders. Against this cost, however, has to be set 
the breaching of the Beaurevoir-Fonsomme line and the 
capture of Ramicourt, with, in all, over 2,00o prisoners 
and several g-uns, and machine guns too numerous to 
count. 
The loss of Montbrehain and the slight general with- 
drawal towards the close of the day were certainly a set- 
back, which cost the Division many officers and men who 
could ill be spared, but, considered as a whole, there can 
be no question of the decisive nature of the victory 
achieved, and this was to be clearly seen in the days 
which immediately followed. 
As on the occasion of the Battle of Bellenglise, the most 
striking feature of both attack and counter-attack was 
undoubtedly the high level of moral shown by ail the 
tank and file of the Division. Evidence of this moral is 
to be seen in all reports. The attacking troops used the 
cold steel even more than during the previous assault, 



• 6 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
and it is estimated that at least 25 per cent. of 
the men engaged in the fighting actually fleshed their 
bayonets. Certainly, the percentage of enemy dead to 
wounded was very high, and in places, as in the ]3eaure- 
voir-Fonsomme line and the machine-gun nests behind 
it, practically the whole garrison were slain where they 
stood. This splendid moral was well reflected in the 
behaviour of our wounded, the maiority of whom asked 
tobe patched up and to be allowed to return to the 
fifing-line. 
The moral of the enemy, too, was very much better 
in the Battle of Ramicourt than at ]3ellenglise. Not only 
did the machine gunners and the artillerymen--who 
have always fought stoutly--put up a good fight, but the 
Infantry also showed very great determination, especially 
in the counter-attacks. These were pressed energetically 
and with considerable initiative, small parties steadily 
making their way along hedges and sunken roads under 
very heavy tire from our men. AI1 the enemy troops 
must have been impressed with the importance of the line 
they were holding and with the dire results which would 
inevitably follow a break-through at this iuncture. His 
obiect was to hold on here at any cost, and thus to 
ensure a steady retreat to the next river-line. This 
object, as the sequel was to show, was in great measure 
achieved, though he was compelled to leave behind 
much valuable material. 
No account of the battle could be considered complete 
were reference not ruade to the fine work carried out by 
the R.A.M.C. in the attention to and evacuation of the 
wounded. An advanced dressing station was estab- 
lished in Magny-la-Fosse, and the wounded from the 
aid-posts on the geater part of the front were 
dealt with expeditiously at that station. The road 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 117 
from Levergies to Magny was, however, hopelessly blocked 
by a derelict tank, and cases that would normally have 
been brought from the left sector of the attack by this 
road were, instead, taken direct to the IX Corps main 
dressing-station at Vadencourt. 
Throughout the action, there was an entire absence o 
confusion in the medical arrangements, and evacuation 
proceeded smoothly and quickly, over I,OOO men being 
dealt with during the fighting. The doctors and staff 
worked unremittingly from early in the morning until 
late at night. The drivers of the motor-ambulances are 
also entitled to a special meed of praise, many of them 
working continuously for twenty-four hours on end, 
driving at the risk of their lives through areas which 
were heavily shelled both with gas and high explosive. 
Many casualties occurred in the R.A.M.C. during the 
day, and, on the early morning of the 4th October, after 
all patients had been evacuated, a high-explosive gas 
shell burst at the door of the A.D.S. at Magny and three 
oflcers and twenty other ranks were badly gassed. Major 
S. S. B. Harrison, in command, continued to perform his 
duties, though badly gassed, and visited all posts before 
he would permit himself to be evacuated. This very 
gallant ofiïcer died of his wound and gas poisoning in the 
casualty clearing-station on the Ioth October. 
During the attack on Mannequin Hill, Lance-Corporal 
Coltman, of the I/6th North Staffords, being in charge of 
the stretcher-bearers attached to his unit, earned the 
Victoria Cross by conspicuous bravery in the rescue of 
badly wounded men. Already the proud possessor of 
the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military 
Medal, in each case with the coveted bar which indicates 
that the decoration has been twice won, this N.C.O. has 
himsel contributed a brilliant page to the history of the 



118 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
Division. During the heavy fighting about Mannequin 
Hill, word was brought fo him that three of out men, too 
severely wounded fo move, had been left behind when 
the battalion retired on account of the overwhelming 
enfilade fire from the summit of the hill. On his own 
initiative, Lance-Corporal Coltman then went forward 
into the valley in which the men had been left and, 
under concentrated enemy artillery and machine-gun 
tire, succeeded in locating them, dressed their wounds, 
and carried each one fo his stretcher squad in rear of 
out line, thus saving their lives. Without pause or test, 
he assisted in dressing and carrying wounded for forty- 
eight hours, his efforts continuing until the last man had 
been attended to. 
The fotavard work of the oflïcers and stretcher-bearers 
of the Field Ambulances was also beyond praise, many 
individuals distinguishing themselves by their efforts. 
Major H. D. Lane, M.C., of the I/ISt North Midland Field 
Ambulance, during the attack on the Beaurevoir-Fon- 
somme line west of Ramicourt, pushed forward through 
the enemy's barrage and, although wounded, continued 
to search for and withdraw wounded under very heavy 
shell tire and aimed machine-gun tire from the left 
flank, from which the enemy could not at that time be 
dislodged. Later, being informed that civilians had been 
released in Ramicourt, he went forward to that village 
and collected them together. He then placed them in 
safety, supplied them with food, and took the utmost 
care of them until they could be removed out of danger. 
The presence of civilians in Ramicourt and Mont- 
brehain was a good sign. It showed quite clearly 
that we were getting past the devastated area and 
into the back areas which formerly were occupied by 
the Headquarters of the German higher formations. 



LC.-ÇORPL. V%'. tl. COLTMAN, %,'.C., D.C.M., M.M., I,OTH 
STAFFORDS, X%'IIOSE CONSISTENT BRAVERY IN ACTION HAS 
ADDED A GLORIOUS PAGE TO THE HISTORY OF THE 4OTH 
]ï}IVISl ON. 

,8] 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 119 
From now on, as we penetrated farther into enemy-occu- 
pied territory, more and more of the civilian inhabitants 
were released. 'he movement of the armies began fo 
partake more of the nature of a triumphal match, the 
advanced troops being everywhere received with open 
arms by the familles released by them from a slavery 
which, if sometimes tempered with uncouth attempts 
af ingratiation, was still in the highest degree distasteful 
to the people of the occupied districts. One of the most 
drarnatic sights during the advance was undoubtedly 
the scene when, in the midst of the fighting at Mont- 
brehain, before even the Germans were completely driven 
from the town, the few remaining inhabitants, regardless 
of their safety in their joy at their newly regained freedom, 
rushed from their houses with mugs of steaming hot 
coffee, the only tribute an impoverished population could 
offer to their liberators. 
Soon, the ride of battle was fo sweep on beyond the 
ruin of their homes, and they were tobe left in peace fo 
make the best attempt they could af repairing their shell- 
torn houses and to eke out a slender existence on rations 
spared by out men, or issued by the French Mission. Of 
means of local subsistence there were left practically none. 
The German occupation and the subsequent ride of war 
had left the area bare of everything except a few fields 
of sugar-beet, and such food as isolated individuals 
had managed to hide away during the last few days, 
when the thunder of the British guns was heard 
approaching nearer and nearer, and the possibility of 
the upsetting of the German usurpers became more of 
a reality and less of a dream. 
During the evening of October 3rd, the Division 
received a very large amount of attention from enemy 
aeroplanes. Those carried out repeated bombing attacks 



12o THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
on the bivouacs of the troops in the field, on transport 
lines, on transport and columns of troops on roads, on 
all villages within our lines and on other places likely 
tobe used by us as Headquarters, or as assembly-places 
for troops. The nights were dark, but the airmen were 
unusually bold and flew verv low, while the use of para- 
chute lights of extraordinary brilliance and of considerable 
duration annulled, in great measure, the disadvantage 
(from the airman's point of view) of the dark night. 
Any member of the Division whose duties took him 
on to the main roads around La Baraque, Bellenglise, 
and Magny-la-Fosse during this and the succeeding 
nights, will vividly recall the disagreeable sensations 
which passed up and down his spine as he sat 
in his car, or on the driver's seat of his transport- 
wagon, or stood in the road in one of the many blocks 
of traffic. The steady double throb of the "" Boche "' 
tdn-engined planes was sufficient advertisement of the 
presence of enemy aircraft in the immediate neighbour- 
hood without the ear-splitting blasts of the warning 
whistles, barking out their three long blasts from every 
direction. These latter ruade many a man whose nerves 
were not in the best condition long to seize the whistler 
and screw his neck until he swore never to put lips to 
whistle again. Suddenly, in one direction or another, a 
parachute-light would tiare out, illuminating the whole 
countryside, while every man gazed towards the spot 
where the light was floating slowly downwards, or, if the 
parachute was overhead, sat still in a state of e-'pectancy, 
wondering where the fateful bomb was going to drop. 
There is something very devastating to the nerves about 
a bomb. It seems so inevitable. There are many men 
whose nerves are proof against shell tire of any descrip- 
tion, though few like it or go out of their way to meet it. 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 121 
The man, however, who does not dislike bombs intensely 
has yet tobe found, and there are few moments so un- 
pleasant as those spent waiting to see who is going to 
get the benefit of the next one. 
If the light is distant and the plane far off, the 
watchers hear a dull boom or series of crashes--absolutely 
unmistakable, and ,lever tobe confounded with shell 
explosions. Relief then makes itself fclt in various ways, 
but mainly by an unloosening of tongues, which takes the 
form amongst the waiting Infantry of an outburst of 
talking and chalîïng, and usually in the case of transport 
drivers of a torrent of objurgation, directed impartially 
at their mules, or horses, or (carefully modulated to avoid 
danger of overhearing) at the Traffic Control, to whom 
always the vhole credit of a traffic block is given. 
If, on the other hand, the plane is almost overhead, 
the next act in the drama is a sibilant rushing sound 
rapidly increasing in volume, when all in a position to do 
so throw themselves prone on the ground, or rush for the 
nearest shelter, however meagre. Then follows an ear- 
splitting crashing roar, and a furious tornado of air, with 
or without splinters of bomb, hurls to the ground every- 
thing in its immediate neighbourhood. One bomb has 
dropped, and every one waits anxiously for the next, 
which may or may not corne. If the bomb has expended 
its force harmlessly in a clear space, men then lise and 
feel themselves over, surplised to find they are still " all 
correct " and whole. If, on the other hand, such a bomb 
has landed in the midst of transport or men, the scene 
beggars description, fragments of men, wood, iron, and 
animals being hurled in all directions and to an incredible 
distance. 
Such an instance of the blind fury of war in its very 
worst form occurred at the Headquarters of the Division 



122 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
at La Baraque. "G" Office was here snugly harboured at 
the bottom of a large and roomy "Boche" dug-out, and 
on the night of October 3rd a party of seventy or eighty 
German prisoners from the Battle of Ramicourt were 
waiting outside in the dusk for their turn for examination 
by the Staff Intelligence officer. Suddenly, the three 
whistles were heard and the drone of a German plane 
became audible, increasing in loudness as the plane ap- 
proached and swooped towards the ground. There must 
still have been sufficient light for the airman, who was 
himself plainly visible to the watchers below, to see the 
body of men beneath him, though it was certainly far too 
dark for him to have been able fo distinguish the field- 
grey uniform. 
Just before he reached the group, he must have moved 
the lever controlling his bomb-dropping apparatus, and 
two bombs dropped almost simttltaneously, both of 
which e¢ploded in or near the unfortunate group of 
prisoners. 
The scene that followed was indescribable. With 
the explosion, there arose a wail of anguish from the 
victims of the bomb, and, for a few seconds after- 
wards, there was a soft sickening tain of blood, frag- 
ments of flesh, and limbs, over the whole of the 
immediate neighbourhood. Some forty or fifty of the 
unfortunate prisoners, with some half-dozen of out 
own men who were passing the spot at the time, were 
literally blown to pieces, while another three or four dozen 
were lying strewn about the mouth of the dug-out with 
fearful wounds, nearly all of them about the legs and 
lower part of the body. There was a rush of the survivors 
for the steps of the dug-out itself, and the staff, endeavour- 
ing to make their way out to discover what really had 
happened, round their egress completely blocked by 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 123 
cowering and moaning prisoners crouching among a 
débris of human bodies. The place smelt like a shambles, 
and the most hardened campaigners sickened before the 
sights which were brought to light when officers with 
flash-liihts arrived to ascertain the extent of the damage 
and tender first-aid to the wounded. 
A strong party was at once turned on to clearing up 
the mess, but La Baraque smelt of blood until the day 
,.ve left it, and every one was heartily glad when, on the 
6th October, the Division handed over to the 6th Division, 
who were taking over the sector, and Headquarters moved 
back into test at Vendelles. For days afterwards, traces 
of the effects of the explosion were visible, and one neatly 
divided half of a face, found near the Visual Station many 
yards away, will long be indelibly fixed in the mind and 
imagination of the finder. 
On the 6th October, the command of the sector on a 
general line east of Wiancourt and Ramicourt passed to 
the G.O.C. 6th Division, who, however, retained the 
i39th Infantry Brigade and the Monmouths under his 
command. The same day, information was received that 
the IX Corps would attack, with the XV French Corps, 
on the right and the American Corps on the left, on a 
date which would be notified shortly. In the IX Corps, 
the 6th Division were to be in the line, with the 46th 
Division and the 3rd Infantry Brigade in Corps Reserve, 
the 46th Division being held in readiness to pass through 
the 6th Division should the attack ruade by the latter 
be successful. 
Headquarters of the Division remained at Vendelles 
during this rime, but an advanced report centre was 
opened at Magny-la-Fosse on the 7th October, and a 
system of signal communication with a main poled cable 
route of three pairs was led well forward of this, in anticipa- 



124 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
tion of the Division going into action during the next few 
days. On the 8th Octeber, the G.O.C. Division and "G " 
Staff moved forward to Magny, although on that date the 
6th Division was fighting and the 46th Division troops 
(except the Divisional Artillery, who were assisting the 
6th Division) remained in reserve. 
On the 7th, the I38th Infantry Brigade was in- 
structed to move forward to its assembly position west of 
Preselles Farm, and the dispositions of the troops of the 
46th Division on the 8th October were as follows :--I37th 
Infantry Brigade in the Bellenglise Tunnel, I38th Infantry 
Brigade as above, and I39th Infantry Brigade at or 
around Magny-la-Fosse. 
In order fo keep Divisional Headquarters informed 
as completely as possible of the course of events, the 
Divisional Observation Officer, with one wireless set and 
with his observers, was instructed to move forward 
and observe the result of the attack on Beauregard, 
Mericourt, and Fresnoy, which was being carried out by 
the 6th Division. By means of news sent back by him, 
the G.O.C. 46th Division was kept in close touch with 
a situation which was at times very obscure. 
Following on the attack on Ramicourt on the 3rd 
October, the enemy had evidently become convinced 
that his position, without prepared defences as it was, 
was untenable, and he retreated steadily, closely followed 
by the British troops who were in action continually with 
his rearguards. 
The 46th Division played no great part in the fighting 
at this time, the General Staff in the main contenting 
themselves with holding a watching brief ; the Infantry 
being kept in positions where they could reinforce the 
attacking Division if necessary. 
The Pioneer Battalion--the Monrnouths--however, 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 125 
were ordered on the 7th October to attack and capture 
two machine-gun nests on the Sequehart-Mericourt Road, 
and the battalion suffered very heavily in the attempt. 
The assault was ruade as part of a converging attack 
carried out by the 6th Division and the I26th French 
Division on our left and right. These Divisions were to 
advance inwards and so cut the I39th Brigade. to which 
the Monmouths were attached, and which was acting 
under the orders of the G.O.C. 6th Division, out of the 
line. 
At zero, plus ten minutes, " B " Company of the Mon- 
mouths, led by Captain W. P. Abbott and supported by 
a heavy trench-mortar bombardment0 advanced to the 
attack of the machine-gun posts, but was met by an 
annihilating tire, the two platoons that led the attack 
being practically wiped out. Lieutenant-Colonel J. 
Jenkins, M.C., commanding the battalion, personally 
organized another attack and led forward four more 
platoons to the assault, but this attempt also was beaten 
off with heavy loss, Colonel Jenkins and his Adjurant 
being both amongst the killed. 
The attack was then abandoned, having cost the 
battalion eight oflïcers and seventy men killed and 
wounded, but it had served its purpose by engaging 
the attention of the defenders of the trench while the 
men of the 6th Division worked round from the rear. 
The garrison of these posts was thus cut off completely 
from succour, and later in the day surrendered, over 
25o men with twenty machine guns and two trench 
mortars being captured in this work alone. 
On the night of the 8th October, the I38th Infantry 
Brigade relieved the I6th Infantry Brigade of the 
6th Division, and were instructed to get into touch 
with the French, who were believed to be in Fontaine 



x26 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
d'Uterte, out own line running through Beauregard Farm 
and Meficourt. The 6th Division, remaining in the line 
on a one-brigade front, were to attack Jonnecourt Farm 
early on the 9th October, while their artillery bombarded 
Fresnoy-le-Grand. 
On completion of the relief by the x38th Brigade, the 
command of the sector passed to the G.O.C. 46th Division, 
the x37th Brigade being ordered to the Preselles area 
and the x39th Brigade to Levergies. On the morning 
of the 9th, when the bombardment of Fresnoy by the 
6th Divisional Artillery ceased, the x38th Brigade, 
according to orders, sent forward patrols into Fresnov 
and round the town unoccupied, out men being received 
with every demonstration of extreme ioy by the xSo to 
200 inhabitants who had remained in the town when it 
was evacuated by the Germans. 
Some machine-gun tire was encountered from the rail- 
way-line east of the village, but, after a little local 
fighting, this opposition was overcome and the Brigade 
occupied the railway-line. 
On the xoth October, Divisional Headquarters opened 
at Fresnoy-le-Grand, finding there the best billets the 
troops had occupied since leaving the Bethune area. 
Although the village had been damaged to some extent 
by out bombardment and was for some days after out 
occupation sub iected to intermittent attention from enemy 
high-velocity guns, yet it was comparatively undamaged, 
many houses being quite untouched. 
From the time of the first advance of the 46th Division 
into the area beyond the destroyed zone, the policy of 
restficting the bombardment of towns and villages to 
shrapnel only was carefully followed. From this time 
on, very little damage was done to any buildings by our 
artillery, unless they were known to be occupied as enemy 



BRIGADIER-GENERAL F. G. M. IOWLEY, C.M.G., D.S.O., BRIGADE 
COMMANDER I3STH INFANTRY BRIGADE 
Reproduced by courtesy oP El!iott &'_Fry, 55, Baker Street, London, W.r. 
26] 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 12 7 
strong-points. Every effort was made everywhere to 
avoid unnecessary damage; stringent regulations against 
pillaging and pilfering were made (although, to do the 
troops justice, these were to a great extent superfluous) ; 
and, whenever they vere out of the line, the Divisional 
Engineers were so far as possible employed in carrying 
out temporary repairs to dil-apidated houses in civilian 
occupation. The inhabitants who were thus helped 
were intensely grateful, and, generally, the population of 
the towns and villages were eager to velcome their 
deliverers into their houses and to do the little that lay 
in their power to make them comfortable. The relations 
between French civilians and British soldiers remained 
excellent throughout, and the progress of the troops 
through the country was hailed with rejoicings every- 
where. 
The German retreat, thanks to the stand made by his 
rearguard on the Beaurevoir-Fonsomme line and the 
villages on which this line was pivoted, was at this period 
comparatively unhurried. He had managed to remove 
most of his munitions of war and the booty captured 
by the advancing British troops consistç-d mainly of 
ammunition, both S.A.A. and shells, with occasional 
small dumps of signal stores, and salvaged material he 
had collected, but had not managed to get away. Char- 
acteristic features of the evacuated country, however--- 
and this was even more the case in the days which 
followed--were the small heaps of brass, copper, and iron 
utensils of all descfiptions. These "spoil-heaps"- from 
Frencli homes were a most eloquent vitness to the 
systematic way in wliich the country had been plundered 
to help towards the production of the very guns and 
projectiles which were laying waste huge districts of 
France and taking the lives of thousands of her best men. 



"z8 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 

Nothing had been too small or insignificant to escape 
the plunderers. In these heaps, children's toys lay side 
by side with old machine guns and rifles, machinery with 
kitchen utensi|s, the iron heads of tools with old shell 
cases salved from former battlefields ; the whole mixed 
up in inextricable tangle with copper and galvanized iron 
wire from the old French telegraph routes and fences. 
Never before, since civilization became more than a name, 
cana captured country have been robbed so systematically 
and so thoroughly by a ruthless conqueror. 
The enemy's comparatively unmolested retreat was 
secured principally bv the efficient manner in which his 
Engineers had performed their task of demolition. As 
he retired, he blew up both the roads and railways behind 
him, and out advancing transport was again and again 
held up by yawning craters across their path. In the 
open country around Fresnoy and Bohain, the consequent 
delay was hot, however, as serious as he must have 
anticipated. Dry-weather tracks existed nearly every- 
where, and even these could be ignored by horsed transport 
on fine days when the surface of the ground was fairly 
hard. From time to time, therefore, our troops could 
press forward close on his heels, sure of the necessary 
supplies of rations and ammunition, while on occasion 
he was hustled very unpleasantly indeed. The rapid 
advance of a modern army, however, is not possible 
without the aid of railways, or at least of mechanical 
transport, and the system of delay-action mines used 
by the Germans was well calculated to hold up our 
progress. At every cross-roads mines had been buried 
nsome of them timed to explode a few hours after the 
enemy had left, others a few days, some even after a 
delay of several weeks. 
No rule of modern war is more true than that which 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT i29 
limits the speed of advance of an army by the rate at 
which the railhead on which it is based can be moved 
forward. Throughout the whole of the present advance 
and the greater one which was to follow, the movement 
of out railhead proved to be the decisive factor. So 
thoroughly had the German Engineers done their work, 
that the position of railhead was never certain for two 
or three days together. Our own Railway Engineers 
would work night and day repairing the permanent way, 
the rails of which had becn blown up with small gun- 
cotton charges af intervals of ten or twenty yards, and 
would successfully get the line completed as far as Bohain 
or Vaux Andigny. A delay-action mine would then go 
up between Fresnoy and Bohain or between Bohain and 
Vaux Andigny, and back would go the railhead again 
for some days, while the gap was being filled by gangs of 
Chinese coolies, or German prisoners. Once more the 
line would be put through and trains xvould arrive with 
rations and supplies for a few days, when again a mine 
would throw the railhead back several toiles. Thus, the 
question of supplies was a very difficult one indeed, and 
one which deflnitely limited the progress ruade by the 
Division. 
In its broader aspect, OEherefore, from the viexv of the 
pursuing troops, the chier disadvantage of the delav- 
action mine was undoubtedly its effect on the transport 
of the Army. The Divisional troops, however, pressing 
on in the van after the retreating Germans, were more 
intimately concerned with the mines placed at the cross- 
roads, or at irregular intervals along main roads, and 
timed to explode within a few hours of the German retreat. 
A party of our men would be scouting carefully along the 
road when, without warning, several of these mines would 
explode with a roar, throwing a column of débris and 

9 



13o THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
smoke some hundreds of feet into the air. Discretion 
came with experience, however ; main roads and cross- 
roads were usually given a wide berth by the troops of the 
advanced guard, and, if mines there were, these had either 
been blown or their positions betrayed by the evidences 
of fresh-turned earth, before the arrival of the main body 
of the leading Brigade. Casualties were therefore few, 
though progress was considerably delayed. 
Three or four mlles to the north-west of Fresnoy lay 
the town of Bohain, which was entered by out troops on 
the ioth October. Here, over 2,000 French civilians had 
been left behind by the retreating Germans, and wild scenes 
of enthusiasm greeted the advancing troops. The officers 
and men first into the town were mobbed by an hysterical 
crowd of men, women, and children, almost delirious in 
their joy at being once more free to live their norpaal 
lives. Here for the first time, signs of business lire were 
seen. Shops were fairly numerous though ill-stocked, 
and many of the inhabitants were still working in their 
houses at the silk-looms for which the town was famous 
before the war. 
The town had been evacuated after the issue of the 
famous manifesto instructing officers and men to pay all 
consideration possible to the cïvilian inhabitants of the 
occupied distficts and to avoid wanton damage, and 
latterly this instruction had been liberally interpreted by 
the enemy. Little wilful destruction had been done, 
though bere, above all other places, the genius of the 
German Engineers had been given full play. At every 
cross-roads, the road had been blown away so thoroughly 
that only a deep crater remained, stretching right across 
from side to side of the street, while the houses on either 
side had collapsed as though built of cards, in hopeless 
ruin. With these exceptions, however, the town was little 



THE BATTLE OF RAMICOURT 13I 
damaged, our own bombardment having been restricted 
mainly to shrapnel which, while it had shattered tiles 
and slates in every direction, had done little structural 
damage. After out occupation of the town, the Germans 
shelled it intermittently for two or three weeks with a 
high-velocity gun firing I I-inch armour-piercing shell, 
but surprisingly little damage was done and few people 
were injured. 
Of all the enthusiastic scenes which the Division was 
privileged to see during the last weeks of the \Var, 
there were few which equalled the reception given 
by the inhabitants of Bohain to the first troops 
which passed through the town. The oflïcial entry was 
made later by the 32nd Division, and those who were 
at the Thanksgiving Service held in Bohain Church on 
that day will not forger the simple grandeur of the 
service and the heart-felt j oy of the congregation 
assembled to thank God for their regained freedom. 
In years fo corne, hot the least striking tribute fo the 
work of the British Armies in France will be the Masses 
which will be sung in Bohain Church at the hours when 
the advanced guard and the main body of our troops 
entered that town, and the pilgrimage to Lourdes which 
the Vicar of Bohain has vowed to make each year, on the 
anniversary of the day of the town's release from bondage. 



PART II1 
THE BATTLE OF ANDIGNY 

CHAPTER VI 

THE CLEARING OF THE BOIS DE RIQUERVAL AND THE 
BATTLE OF ANDIGNY LES FERMES 

WItlLE Divisional Headquarters were establishing them- 
selves in Fresnoy, the leading troops of the Division-- 
the I38th Infantry Brigadepushing forward from 
Bohain, encountered strong enemy resistance on the 
edge of the Bois de Riquerval. This wood, an outlier 
of the larger Forest of Andigny, stretched north and 
south right across the Divisional front of 3,oo yards. 
Filled as it was with machine-gun nests and strongly 
organized networks of trenches and strong-points, it 
pposed a serious obstacle in the path of out advance. 
A considerable portion of the wood had been cleared by 
the Germans, trees having been cut down and converted 
into tituber for the lining of dug-outs and other military 
works. These recently cleared areas, however, while 
affording better observation both for ourselves and for 
the enemy, were still choked with thick undergrowth and 
were sown with strongly organized defences hidden by 
the scrub. From well-concealed emplacements, enemy 
machine gunners were able to command all approaches 
to the wood. 
Thus, on October Ioth, strong patrols of the i/4th 



THE BATTLE OF ANDIGNY 133 
Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment, advancing cautiously 
along the Bohain-Aisonville Road and over the country 
fo the north of this road, were met by heavy machine- 
gun tire from the edge of the wood. Attempts to enter 
the wood all along its front were repulsed, the battalion 
suffering a considerable number of casualties. Later in 
the day, the I/5th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, 
who had relieved their sister-battalion, ruade determined 
attempts fo penetrate into the wood. This attack, which 
was pressed with determination and carried out with 
skill, af first met with some success, and the leading 
patrols of the battalion pushed some distance into the 
outer fringes of the wood. The principal success was 
achieved by the Headquarters of the battalion, who 
established themselves in a house on the western edge 
of the southern lobe of the wood. The companies on 
either side, however, were driven back by the enemy, 
and the Battalion Headquarters Staff round itself isolated, 
enemy forces holding the wood on either side. Aided by 
nine or ten Frenchmen, who had become separated from 
the main body of their comrades and who had with them 
two mitrailleuses, the Battalion Staff put up a very stout 
fight and managed to hold on to the outskirts of the wood 
and fo the captured house for some hours. 
On the ilth October, while this fighting vas actually 
in progress, instructions were issued for the I37th Infantry 
Brigade to relieve the I38th Infantry Brigade. The 
I/5th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment was ordered 
fo move forward and take over from the I/5th Battalion 
Leicestershire Rement when and where possible. This 
was easier said than done. A stiff fight vas in progress, 
and the situation as regards the disposition of our own 
and the enemy's forces was extremely obscure. The 
C.O. of the Staffords, with his Adutant and Company 



134 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
Commanders, rode forward to get into touch with the 
Headquarters of the battalion they were to relieve. 
After riding about for several hours, during which 
they had frequently to go to ground to avoid hostile 
machine-g-un tire, they were reluctantly obliged to give 
up their quest and ride back to obtain more exact in- 
formation. Battalion Headquarters, situated as described 
above, was then located, touch was gained with it, and 
provisional arrangements for the relief were ruade. The 
actual handing over, however, was not carried out for 
some hours, owing to the rough-and-tumble fighting on 
the outskirts of the wood, the Leîcesters being pinned to 
their positions and unable either to advance or to retreat. 
Communication between the companies of the relieving 
battalions was established by means of the Lucas lamp 
and, at 9.30 a.m., the Staffordshire men advanced with 
two companies in the line, one in support and one in 
reserve. The right company in the line was ordered to 
move to the south-west edge of the wood and the left 
company was given orders to advance towards Fontaine 
de Colombier, on the Bohain-Andigny Road. Both 
companies deployed and advanced and, at lO.3O a.m., 
touch was established with the enemy. The attack was 
held up by machine-g-un tire from all along the edge of 
the wood, the support company at the saine rime 
coming under machine-g-un tire from Retheuil Farm, to 
the south of the wood. By this rime the relief of the 
platoons of the left company of the I/5th Leicesters 
had been carried out and touch established with the 
6th Division on our left flank, but the Headquarters 
and the right company of the Leicesters were still 
isolated in the south-west outskirts of the wood and 
hard pressed by the enemy. At 2.25 p.m., therefore, 
th¢ Staffords were ordered to attack the trench system 



THE BATTLE OF AND IGNY x35 
in the clearing east of Riquerval Farm, with the aid of a 
tank which was to work south and assist in extricating 
the Battalion Headquarters flore the wood. The tank, 
however, broke down and was unable to move, and the 
attack, which was launched at 4 p.m., failed. 
Oideis weie then given for a bombardment of the 
trench system, and this was carried out by the g-uns of 
the x6th Army Brigade, R.H.A., which was supporting 
the x37th Infantry Brigade. Another attack was then 
launched, but this also was repulsed belote it was well 
started, the enemy putting down a barrage on the 
company detailed for the attack, at the moment of its 
assembly. At the same rime, a further attempt was 
made to relieve the right company of the Leicesters, but 
this also failed. The enemy, counter-attacking heavily, 
then solved the problem by driving the Leicesters, Batta- 
lion Headquarters and all, out of the wood and down 
on to the Bohain-Aisonville Road. Here, the relief took 
place without further incident. 
In view of the extremely stubborn resistance of the 
enemy concealed in the wood, the Divisional Commander 
now decided to withdraw all his troops to a line conforming 
roughly to the outline of the western outskirts of the wood 
and about two hundred yards from it. All available g-uns 
were then turned on the wood and a concentrated bom- 
bardment carried out, particular attention being paid to 
the trench systems and strong-points in the clearings, and 
to the few existing buildings which had been organized 
for defence, as, for example, the house in the south- 
western outskirts already won and lost by our troops. 
It was now quite plain that the enemy's rearguard 
intended to make as prolonged a stand as possible on this 
line. Favoured as they were by the freedom from 
observation and the facilities for machine-gun defence 



136 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
afforded by the trees and thick undergrowth of the 
wood, the obstacle was one which promised tobe very 
diflïcult indeed to overcome. At the saine rime also, 
the i26th French Division on out right, though not 
confronted bv closely wooded country, had experienced 
much diflïculty in making progress against well-organized 
defences based on a series of strongly built farm-houses, 
all of which had been converted by the enemy's en- 
gineering genius into miniature forts. 
On the I2th October, therefore, a joint attack by the 
French and ourselves was arranged, with the object of 
storming these defences and once more starting the enemy 
on the run. The ultimate objective of the French 
Division was the village of Mennevret, while that of the 
I37th Brigade was a line running approximately along 
the eastern edge of the Bois de Riquerval and the western 
edge of the Forêt Dominale d'Andigny. 
The attack was arranged to commence at noon, but, 
through somemiscalculation,theFrench barrage descended 
quite rive minutes before our own. The enemy on our 
front, warned by the thunder of the guns on their left, 
were ready and waiting for our men. The 6th South 
Staffords, advancing behind out barrage, were met by 
heavy machine-gun tire, while the enemy barrage fell 
right upon them and caused them to become much dis- 
organized before the wood was reached. In spire of 
this harassing tire, however, the battalion pressed for- 
ward and, on the left, one company managed to penetrate 
into the trench system in the clearing which had been 
the object of the previous day's attack. At the 
same time, "D " Company, under Captain G. H. Ball, 
forced its way into the south-west outskirts of the wood, 
but the enemy artillery, trench-mortar and machine-gun 
barrage was so heavy and caused so many casualties that 



THE BATTLE OF AND IGNY 137 
the company was compelled to fall back from the wood. 
Here, however, Captain ]3all rallied his men and, rein- 
forced by " ]3 " Company of the r/6th South Staffords, 
coolly reorganized his company and again advanced into 
the wood at its head. Much opposition was encountered 
from enemy machine guns, in particular from the bouse 
at the edge of the wood and from a derelict British tank 
which had been abandoned in the previous attack. In face 
of this, however, the men managed to make their way for- 
ward amidst a hurricane of bullets. The two companies 
penetrated into the wood some 2o0 yards without coming 
across any sign of German occupation except the barrage, 
but, on this line, dira shadowy figures were seen moving 
amongst the dense underirowth and the already galling 
tire was redoubled, while for the first time rifle tire was 
added to the ]ittle inferno already raging. 
As it was obvious that further progress was impossible 
unless the attackers were strongly reinforced, an attempt 
was ruade to consolidate the line already held. Oflïcers 
and men proceeded hastily to dig themselves in and 
obtain what shelter they could, but the enemy opened 
trench-mortar tire with disconcerting accuracy, and 
orders had tobe given to withdrav to the edge of the 
wood. The enemy, vho must have been exceptionally 
well served by his scouts, now dropped a heavy barrage 
along the edge of the wood, and Captain ]Ball decided to 
order a retirement to the high ground west of the wood. 
Here the original line held belote the attack was once 
more taken over. 
Many casualties had been suffered during this little 
operation and the men engaged were much shaken by 
their experiences. The enemy was so well hidden in the 
undergrowth, and so well supplied with machine guns, 
that he possessed an overwhelming advantage, and this, 



138 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
to do him justice, he utilized fo the utmost extent. There 
is no more unnerving type of battle than such hole-and- 
corner fighting as is necessary fo oust a well-organized 
defending force from a wood which they are determined 
fo hold. The enemy's rearguards were formed of picked 
troops, who fought stoutly and with more individuality 
than was usually shown by the Germans during these 
last months of the war. In the circumstances, the 
men of the South Staffords had been set an impossible 
task and had acquitted themselves well. Let us give 
honour when honour is due. If may be honestly said 
that never during the German retreat did their machine 
gunners fight better, or more stubbornly, than in those 
days when Riquerval Wood held up the Division. 
Day after day for several days in succession, out troops 
advanced fo the attack, only fo be denied by a devoted 
band of men who were willing to sacrifice themselves, 
in order fo permit the demoralized remainder to walk 
away in comparative immunity. So, the actions of the 
Ioth, Ilth and I2th October, and the skirmishing on 
the following days, left the Germans on the Divisional 
front masters of the field, while on out right also, the 
French were unable fo capture Retheuil Farm. For the 
space of a week the pursuit was checked, while some way 
of circumventing this obstacle and the Forest of Andigny, 
of which if was an outlier, exercised the ingenuity of the 
General Staff. The solution of this problem gave fise 
fo the tactical triumph known as the Battle of Andigny, 
which we will now consider in so far as if affected the 
46th Division. 

Ail frontal attacks on Riquerval Wood and the Forest 
of Andigny having thus been repulsed by the enemy 
rearguards, orders were issued on the Isth October for a 



THE BATTLE OF AND IGNY 139 
general action on the part of the IX Corps, in con- 
iunction with the XV French Corps on its right and 
the II American Corps on its left. The obiect of the 
battle was to reach the line of the Sambre-Oise Canal. 
"Fo the 46th Division were allotted the tasks of turning 
Riquerval Wood and the capture and retention of the 
Andigny-les-Fermes Ridge. The success of the Division 
was of extreme importance to the IX Corps as a whole, 
for not only did this ridge dominate and protect the 
whole right flank of the advance, but its possession in 
British hands also gave room to, and ensured the safety 
of, the passage of the Ist Division, when they advanced 
through the 6th Division towards their final obiective. 
If the general assault proved successful, the French, 
advancing up the southern side of the wood and capturing 
the village of Mennevret, would then press on round the 
Forest of Andigny and ioin hands with the ist Division 
about Wassigny. 
The general scheme, necessitating as it did an attack 
from the flank instead of from the front, involved, of 
course, a drastic rearrangement of the forces of the 
Division. A glance at the map will show that, instead 
of driving due east as heretofore, the new attack, in 
order to be successful in its objects, must be made from 
almost due north, necessitating a forming-up line in the 
territory occupied by the Division on out left flank. 
The obvious line for a flank attack on Riquerval Wood 
was the Bohain-Vaux Andigny Road, and it was along 
this road that, on the morning of the I7th October, the 
day selected for the attack, the I38th and I39th Infantry 
Brigades took up position for the assault. 
The objective allotted to the 46th Division was the 
]3ohain-Wassigny Road, from the north-east corner of 
Riquerval Wood to the village of Andigny les Fermes, 



14o THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
and included that village and the hamlet of Regnicourt. 
It was arranged that the Division should not take over 
the line held by the 6th Division, but that our Infantry 
should take up position on the line of deployment, 
shortly before zero. By this hour, all troops of the 6th 
Division were to be withdrawn west of this line, to avoid 
the artillery barrage which would cover the attack. 
As in the case of former battles on a major scale, the 
approach to the day of conflict was heralded by the 
arrival of vafious free-lance units which had been assigned 
to the Division by the Corps, for the purpose of assisting 
out own Artillery and Infantry. On this occasion, a troop 
of Scots Greys was attached for reconnoitfing purposes, 
and a section of three tanks to assist in mopping up 
various strong-points whose existence was known or sus- 
pected. Two companies of the Lire Guards M.G. Batta- 
lion and one company of the 6th M.G. Battalion were also 
allotted to the Division. These were detailed to tire in 
the machine-gun barrage which would cover the advance 
of the Infantry, or were given definite tasks in the pro- 
tection of the flanks of the Division, or in the consolidation 
of the objectives once they had been gained. Last but 
hot least, the Divisional Artillery was reinforced by the 
addition of four Brigades of R.H.A. and R.F.A., who 
were, as before, placed under the orders of the C.R.A., 
46th Division. 
Owing to the nature and direction of the projected 
attack, the Artillery, in particular, were faced with a very 
intficate problem. Similar concentrations of artillery 
had been arranged to cover the advance of the 6th 
Division and the American Divisions, and the guns of 
the Brigades covering the former occupied every available 
gun-position which existed within range of the 6th Divi»ion 
front. It was, therefore, impossible to site the batteries 



THE BATTLE OF AND IGNY 141 
covering the advance of the 46th Division in such a 
position that a normal frontal barrage could be fired, 
and it was decided to try the novel experiment of an 
oblique or "' enfilade" barrage. With this object in 
view, all the guns were arranged as nearly as possible in 
enfilade of the front on which the attacking Brigades 
would advance, and time-tables for a creeping enfilade 
barrage were made out, the necessary lifts being made 
on the leap-frog principle. 
In discussing this, the last barrage of great intensity 
under which the troops of the Division were fated to 
advance in the prescrit war, it may be permissible to 
enter into a little more detail. The reader of this accourir 
who is not conversant with modern artillery may thus 
be given some idea of the uses of an artillery barrage, 
a factor which has played so important a part in this 
war and which has been developed to a very high state 
of perfection. The idea of the barrage is first and fore- 
most to afford the attacking troops a certain measure 
of protection, by forcing the enemy to take refuge in his 
dug-outs, saps and trenches. Intense, well-directed 
covering artillery tire will so plaster the ground over 
which the assault is being made, that troops exposed in 
the open stand very little chance indeed of survival. 
They are, therefore, constrained to take shelter, and a 
determined attacking force keeping well up to the line 
of bursting shells can overrun the strongest defences 
without much trouble. On the other hand, should the 
barrage, through badly worked-out rime-tables, or 
through the Infantry being delayed by some unforeseen 
accident, get ahead of the latter, itis of little use. The 
defending troops can lie snugly hidden in their shelters 
until the rain of shells has passed and then, emerging from 
their dug-outs, can man their machine guns and shoot 



I42 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
down the approaching enemy riflemen af their leisure. 
Were if hot for the artillery barrage, hot one attack in a 
hundred ruade against strong works held by determined 
machine gunners could achieve success, while the losses 
of the attacking Infantry would outnumber those of the 
defenders fo a colossal extent. 
"Vhile, however, the artillery tire is mainly directed 
towards the protection of the advancing Infantry, it has 
other rôles to play as well. By the inclusion of rounds 
of smoke shell, a dense wall of fog can be formed which 
hot only hides the advancing Infantry from sight, but 
which, under favourable circumstances, may shroud the 
whole battlefield. It may thus entirely obscure the 
intentions of the attacker, rendering if very difficult 
indeed for the defender fo counter his moves. Such a 
fog may, and probably will, exercise a definite influence 
in favour of the attacking side, which possesses the 
initiative and is able fo make the greatest use of the 
power and moral effect of unexpected action. 
Again, a well-thought-out barrage bas a very decisive 
effect in enabling the assaulting Infantrv fo rest and 
reorganize at intermediate objectives selected by the 
staff as suitable places for pauses in the operations. 
A normal barrage will also assist the attacking troops 
in maintaining direction under adverse weather conditions 
and in the confusion and smoke of a battle. In an attack 
which involves an advance of several thousand yards fo 
particular objectives, this function of the barrage is most 
important. The effect of the frontal barrage, or rather 
the effect of its absence, was fo be well seen in the present 
battle. The men, accustomed to hear the guns behind 
them and the scream of the shells passing over their 
heads, were bewildered by the transverse tire of the 
enfilade barrage and lost direction very badly. Much 



]3RIGADIER-GEIqERAL SIR HILL CILD, C.M.G., D.S.O., C.R A. 
4(0IH DIVSIOI 

Reprcduced by courtesy of Elliott & Fry. 55. Baker Street, London, 

x42] 



THE 
confusion resulted from 
caused by the crews of 
left undestroyed and so 

BATTLE OF ANDIGNY I43 

this, and manv casualties were 
machine-gun nests which were 
were in a position to tire from 

the rear upon our men, when the latter were sweeping 
forward to the attack of positions beyond them. 
One other use of the guns which should be mentioned 
is the retaliatory barrage fired by the defender's Artillery. 
The plans for this barrage are carefully worked out be- 
forehand in the event of an attack. As soon as news of 
the assault can be got back to the guns by S.O.S. signais, 
by the noise of the enemy's barrage, or by line or runner, 
ail available gnns are brought into action. These tire on 
pre-arranged objectives, with the idea of isolating the 
attacking troops, preventing supplies and reinforce- 
ments from reaching them, and inflicting as many casual- 
ties as possible during the earlier stages of their advance. 
A fair example of the number of shells which are fired 
in a normal barrage is afforded from consideration of 
the barrage at the Battle of t3ellenglise. Here on a 
5oo-yard front, fifty-four I8-pounders and eighteen 4"5 
hovitzers were engaged in forming the barrage. Of these 
guns, the I8-pounders fired two rounds per minute and the 
howitzers one round per minute. The shells were fired 
to spread the bursts evenly along the barrage line, so 
that, in ail, a total of 126 shells fell on a line 500 yards 
long within the minute, giving a total of one shell per 
four yards per minute. This barrage was kept up for 
eight hours and, allowing for slowing down of the rate 
of tire during the intervals when a stationary protective 
barrage was being fired, there cannot have been less than 
some 50,000 shells fired on this short frontage during the 
battle. 
While rive of the six Artillery Brigades attached to the 
Division fired in the enfilade barrage covering thi main 



144 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LNE 
attack from the north, the remaining Brigade, the 
I4th Army Brigade R.F.A., was detailed to assist the 
I37th Infantry Brigade, whose ordrs were to hold the 
original line on which the fighting had taken place 
a few days previous, and to act as the "' pivot " of the 
attack. 
In order to distract the enemy's attention from the 
main attack, arrangements were made for a ,i Chinese " 
attack to be carried out by this Brigade, every effort 
being directed towards giving to this the appearance 
of reality. With this idea, all the visible and audible 
signs of a frontal attack on the wood flore out old 
front line were simulated in detail. In the preparation 
of this attack, the Engineers were once more given oppor- 
tunity to display the genius for construction which is 
essentially their strong point and, once more, this work 
had to be carried through against rime. At four hours' 
notice, apparatus for elevating ninety dummies was ruade 
by three carpenters ; in addition, the work was carried out 
to a new design, so that the whole range of ninety men 
could be packed in one lorry. These dummies were laid out 
during the night in front of convenient shell holes, in which 
the men operating them could lie concealed. One man 
could operate nine dummies and, at zero hour when the 
barrage opened, the dummies were pulled up, thus giving 
the appearance of men springing forward to the attack. 
The men controlling them then fastened the raising-line 
around some convenient stump and ruade the best of 
their way back to avoid the retaliatory barrage. 
In addition to the dummy figures, three dummy tanks 
had been provided, and these also were taken up during 
the night to positions where they would be likely to 
attract the enemy's attention. Of these dummy tanks, 
one was a full--sized replica of the largest and most 



THE BATTLE OF AND IGNY 145 
modern type of tank. Most of the Division will remember 
this as a legacy left by the Australians near Vendelles, 
when we first took over the sector. The other two were 
profiles only, and were drawn from Corps Stores for the 
occasion. These latter two were erected during the 
night sideways on to the enemy. AI1 three were sighted 
by the enemy and received considerable attention from 
his guns during the following morning. 
To complete the thorough simulation of the false 
attack, a special rolling barrage was arranged and. in 
this barrage, the machine-gun company attached to the 
Brigade took part. "fhis barrage was arranged to corne 
down at zero hour on a line at safety distance in front 
of out most advanced posts. It was then to move 
through the Bois de Riquerval in an easterly direction, 
by jumps of one hundred yards every four minutes. 
Thus no pains were spared to deceive the enemy as to 
the rem intentions of the Division, and events showed 
that the trouble taken in these elaborate preparations 
and the ammunition expended in the barrage were hot 
thrown away. Ten minutes after zero, a heavy barrage 
was put down by the enemy on the front of the I37th 
Brigade, thus materially decreasing the weight of enemy 
gunfire available for the main front of the attack. The 
attention paid to the tanks has already been referred to, 
and whole ranges of the dummy figures were torn to 
pieces, or overset, by the German artillery tire. 
During the period of preparation for the battle, 
Divisional Headquarters remained at Fresnoy. As this 
village, however, was several toiles from the scene of 
action, an advanced report centre was opened in Bohain. 
This report centre was connected with Divisional Head- 
quarters by a strong poled route of three pairs of cable 
and, during the two or three days immediately preceding 
IO 



146 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
the action, this route was extcnded up the Bohain-Vaux 
Andigny Road to the farm which had been selected as a 
joint Brigade Headquarters for the two fighting Brigades. 
For this extension, the poles of a German permanent 
route were employed, one cable being slung on the poles 
at a height of 15 feet above the ground, and the other 
run along the ground. The latter was fastened to each 
pole of the permanent route in order to localize breaks 
caused by shell tire. This route was reinforced by both 
wireless and visual, but the cable held so well, in spite 
of heavy shelling, that the latter systems were only 
employed to a limited extent. The Headquarters of 
the I37th Brigade was in Bohain itself and was con- 
nected with the Headquarters of the Battalion holding 
the front to the west of the wood by both cable and 
wireless. The latter proved very useful during the early 
hours of the attack, when the German barrage made 
it impossible for some hours to maintain lines to this 
unit. 
Aeroplane photographs had supplied material for very 
complete maps of the German defences in all the more 
open portions of the area to be attacked and, during the 
I6th October, a heavy preliminary bombardment was 
carried out. Special attention was paid to wire-cutting, 
and destructive tire was directed for some hours on the 
hamlets of Regnicourt and Andigny les Fermes and on 
all known strong-points. 
Zero hour was finally fixed for 5.2o a.m. on the ITth 
October and, well before that time, the attacking Brigades 
had formed up, with a front of 2,ooo yards, on a line one 
hundred yards south-east of the Bohain-Vaux Andigny 
Road, the inter-brigade boundary being about Vallée 
Hasard. The I39th Infantry Brigade advanced on the 
right of the Divisional Sector and the 138th Infantry 



THE BATTLE OF AND IGNY I47 
Brigade on the left. One battalion of the I37th Infantry 
Brigade held out front to the west of the Bois de Riquerval, 
the other two battalions being held in Divisional Reserve 
to the west of Bohain and on the Bohain-Seboncourt Road, 
The country over which the attack was to be ruade 
was very open, the only patch of woodland being situated 
]ust to the west of the village of Regnicourt. In clear 
weather, the task of the flank guides of the different units 
would have been very simple and little trouble would 
have been experienced in keeping direction, especially as 
the objective throughout its length was a well-marked 
main road. Dawn broke, however, to show the whole 
line shrouded in a dense fog, which was quite as thick as 
any of the mists which, during the last weeks of the war, 
ruade direction-keeping in early-morning attacks no mean 
problem. OEhe waiting troops could sec nothing of the 
country over which they were fo attackl 
Punctually to the minute the barrage opened, and the 
Sherwoods on the right and the Lincolns and Leicesters 
on the left moved forward to the attack. The 46th 
Division was advancing to the last general action in 
which it was to take part. 
On the right of the attack, the 8th Battalion Sherwood 
Foresters moved forward on a three-company front, 
" D " Company following in close reserve. Immediately 
behind the attacking battalion, two companies of the 
5th Sherwoods were held in support. The remainder 
of this battalion were dug in under a bank in shelter 
of the small wood near the joint Brigade Headquarters. 
About this spot also was grouped the remaining battalion 
of the Brigade, the 6th Sherwoods, in Brigade Reserve. 
From the commencement of the advance, difficulty 
was experienced in keeping direction. A gently rising 
slope led up to the road which was the final obiective o5 



I48 THROUGH TtIE HINDENBURG LINE 
the Brigade, while down the centre of the battalion front 
tan a slight fidge which divided the area of attack into 
two nearly equal halves. It was impossible to see more 
than rive yards ahead and the centre company, losing 
direction, gravitated down the slope of the fidge towards 
the east and so |eft the summit practically untouched. 
The first obstacle to the advance---machine-gun nests on 
some high ground where a little copse gave shelter to 
the machine gunners--was overrun without difficulty 
and, on the extreme right and left of the attack, good 
progress was ruade. The fight company, in particular, 
experienced little opposition, reached its final obiective 
without trouble, and commenced to dig in. A sudden 
lightening of the mist, however, betrayed the presence of 
this company to some enemy machine gunners who were 
strongly posted in a cleafing on the Regnicourt Ridge 
which overlooked the position. Promptly seizing their 
opportunity, the enemy turned a concentrated machine- 
gun tire on this company and inflicted heavy casualties, 
the survivors expefiencing the greaest difficulty in hang- 
ing on to their exposed position. 
The cleafing of the fog, however, had also given the 
officers of the attacking battalion their first chance to 
obtain a general idea of the situation, and the centre 
company, who had found themselves somewhere immedi- 
ately west of Andigny les Fermes when the fog lifted, 
commenced to work their way back across the front 
towards the scene of the setback, being ioined on their 
way by the Reserve Company. At the saine time, 
Lieutenant M. E. Thomas, R.E., of the 465th Field 
Company, who was attached to the 8th Sherwoods for 
the attack, gallantly collected a party of N.C.O.s and 
men from various units who had become mixed up in 
the attack and led these men, together with the sappers 



THE BATTLE OF ANDIGNY 149 
of his own section, to the assistance of the right 
company. All officcrs on this flank having become 
casualties, he assumed command and reorganized th0 
firing-line under the heavy tire which was still being 
poured in from the clearing. At the same time, Colonel 
Curran, of the 8th Sherwoods, collected a party of one 
hundred men, reorganized them, and sent them forward 
under Major Robinson, his second-in-command, to attack 
the ridge from the north. Seeing themselves thus out- 
manoeuvred, the enemy in the clearing surrendered, and 
14o prisoners and twenty-seven machine guns were col- 
lected from this small area, which had been the main 
bastion of the German forward defences. The enemy 
in this small action showed very good spirit indeed, and 
the casualties suffered by the Sherwoods were severe. 
The German machine gunners fought very stoutly, 
although many of them were under the impression that 
an armistice was to have been signed on the day of the 
attack. One stalwart German protested vehemently at 
out lack of taste in attacking on the day of " peace," his 
last remark, hurled through the mist as he departed cage- 
wards, being "Noch nicht Friede ! Noch nicht Friede ! " 
The enemy, having been driven from his forward 
defences, now took up his position on the main Bohain- 
Regnicourt Road, but the 8th Sherwoods, reinforced 
first by the support companies and later by the re- 
mainder of the 6th Battalion, were not to be gainsaid. 
The line swept forward, swamping all further resistance 
and capturing the road which was our final objective. 
The enemy were thus forced to retreat to the woods 
beyond, and our advanced troops dug themselves in 
well south of the road, the Engineers, meanwhile, 
setting to work on the formation of a strong-point in 
Regnicourt. 



15o THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
The capture of the Brigade objectives was thus complete 
by 9.45 a.m. All enemy resistance now ceased, though, 
throughout the morning, desultory machine-gun tire 
from Hennechies Wood, and a field gun fifing at 1,4oo 
yards range from near the Borne des Trois Evêchés, forced 
our men to lie low. 
On the left of the attack, the I38th Brigade advanced 
on a two-battalion front, the 4th Leicesters being on the 
right and the 5th Lincolns on the left, the 5th Leicesters 
being held in Brigade Reserve. When forming-up, a few 
casualties were caused through the enemy shelling the 
Brigade assembly-area with high-explosive and gas 
shells, but at zero minus one bout, forming-up was com- 
plete and, when the barrage opened, all were ready to 
advance. 
Here also the fog caused trouble and, at 7 a.m., the 
O.C. 4th Leicesters reported that he had under his com- 
mand elements of the Cameron Highlanders, Black Watch 
and Loyal North Lancashires--all from the 1st Division 
on out left--also men from both Sherwoods and Lincolns, 
besides remnants of his own companies. This being so, 
it was inevitable that machine-gun nests should have 
been oveflooked dufing the advance and, here also, these 
"unscotched scorpions "' caused many casualties. No 
particular hitch occurred on the Divisional front, how- 
ever, but machine-gun tire from the high ground about 
Les Gobelets and Belle Vue proved very harassing. These 
strong-points were cleared in the face of great opposition 
by the Ist Battalion Loyal North Lancashires. This 
same battalion was later on of the greatest assistance in 
clearing the left edge of Andigny les Fermes, in which 
village the enemy put up a very stiff fight. 
Instructions were issued from Divisional Headquarters 
that, immediately Andigny was occupied, strong patrols 



THE BATTLE OF ANDIGNY 151 
were to be pushed out in the direction of Mennevret, in 
order, if possible, to obtain touch with the French. 
These patrols encountered stiff resistance, however, and 
until 7 p.m., the company of 5th Leicesters detailed for 
this purpose were held up by machine-gun tire from the 
north of the village. Later on, touch was obtained with 
a French patrol at La Nation cross-roads, but the position 
could not be held. It was, indeed, not until 5.3 ° a.m. 
on the I8th that out line was definitely established in 
continuation with that of the French. 
Throughout the action, the supporting artillery tire 
had been, as it was in all the battles and skirmishes of 
the advance, extraordinarily accurate, the initial pro- 
gramme being modified accurately and in good time as 
the situation developed. Especially good was the work of 
certain "forward guns," selected from different batteries 
and placed directly under the orders of battalion com- 
manders. Kept well advanced and man-handled by their 
crews into good positions as close as possible behind the 
advancing Infantry, these guns were fought with great 
reolution, and were markedly successful in dealing with 
isolated rnachine-gun emplacements and strong-points 
where the enemy were making a successful stand against 
out riflemen, bornbers and rnachine gunners. Firing 
over open sights and from behind hedges, brushwood, 
or any slight cover which could be made use of, the guns' 
crews necessarily took great risks and suffered com- 
paratively severe casualties. These forward guns indeed 
proved invaluable and well repaid the audacity with 
which they were handled, while the moral of our own 
Infantry was by no rneans lessened by the realization 
that, as ever, their Artillery was close behind them and 
sharing both their triurnphs and their dangers in the 
fullest degree. 



152 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
On the ri'ont held by the I38th Brigade after the 
attack, no counter-attack was attempted by the enemy, 
but, af II a.m., he was reported by the Sherwoods to be 
massing for a counter-attack in front of Hennechies Wood. 
By this rime, he must have realized the perilous position 
in which he stood, and the counter-attack was his last 
attempt to restore the situation. The eort, however, 
was not successful. His assembling troops were caught 
by out artillery tire, and the few men who survived the 
barrage were shot down by Lewis-gun tire, only one man 
reaching our trenches alive. 
On this front also, much diflïculty was experienced in 
obtaining touch with the French, who were to have joined 
up with us af the northern edge of the strip of woodland 
where Hennechies Wood merges into Andigny Forest. 
Patrols were sent out fo get into touch and eventually 
located our Allies holding a post about one hundred yards 
so:th of Forester's House. 
Meanwhile, at 7.3o a.m., when the main attack was 
well launched, the 6th North Staffords moved back to 
the original line along the western edge of the wood, 
from which they had withdrawn slightly fo avoid our 
barrage and the enemy reply. Strong fighting patrols 
were at once sent out and the Bois de Riquerval was 
cleared without difficulty, touch being obtained with 
the French north-west of Retheuil Farm. 
This task accomplished early in the day, the battalion 
then pushed forward, clearing Hennechies Wood as they 
went and securing a few prisoners and machine guns. 
At 2.3o p.m., the wood was completely free of the enemy, 
and contact was established with the Sherwoods on the left 
and the French on the right. Night fell with the Brigade 
established on the line Mennevret-Andigny and, af 
dawn on the I8th, the I38th Brigade took over the front 



THE BATTLE OF ANDIGNY x53 
held by the st Brigade of the 1st Division, from Andigny 
northwards. 
Later in the day, the whole front was taken over by 
the I37th Infantry Brigade, who were able to side-slip 
to the left, to a certain extent, as the French worked their 
way up and completed the capture of the outskirts of 
lIennevret. The relieved Brigades then withdrew into 
Divisional Reserve about Regnicourt, Guyot Farm, and 
Vallée Hasard. 
The Battle of Andigny, complete success as it was, 
bears no comparison to Bellenglise and Ramicourt as 
regards the toll of prisoners taken rom the enemy. 
Some hundreds were captured, it fs truc, but owing to 
the thick mist that prevailed, the greater portion of the 
two battalions who formed the garrison of Riquerval 
Wood managed to slip through our fingers and rejoin 
the main body of their comrades on the new line they had 
taken up. The Division was thus robbed of the visible 
reward of its labours, but, as against this, the men 
rested on their final objectives and the enemy, especially 
in the abortive counter-attack towards the end of the 
day, had left a heavy toll of dead behind him. It was 
no small feat to have driven him out of such strong 
positions, and all ranks went into reserve for a well- 
earned rest, feeling that the enemy had been repaid 
in good measure for the trouble he had caused during 
the frontal assault on the Riquerval Wood. 
On the following day, the 37th Brigade were ordered 
to keep touch with the œee6th French Division on their 
right and the st Division on their left. For this purpose, 
one troop of Scots Greys and one platoon of Cyclists were 
placed at the disposal of the Brigadier. The function of 
these troops was to scout forward through the forest, 
teeling their way eautiously and mopping up as they 



154 TI-IROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
went. No great amount of resistance was expected from 
the retiring enemy and none was encountered, but, to 
guard against the possibility of a counter-attack, these 
mobile troops were closely supported by Infantry and 
forward sections of Artillery. 
The advance continued without check during the day 
and, at 11.5o p.m., the ISt Division and the i26th French 
Division succeeded in effecting a junction at Wassigny, 
squeezing the 46th Division out of the line. 
In all the delicate and anxious work of clearing these 
forest obstacles, a main feature of the operations was the 
close liaison maintained under difficult circumstances 
between the French and the 46th Division. Again and 
again, in order to envelop some more than ordinarily 
difficult obstacle, French and British troops were com- 
pelled to separate with the intention of meeting again 
on the farther side of the strong-point or wood in question. 
Continually during the fighting out flank troops, or the 
French, were extricated from serious situations by their 
Allies, and throughout the troops worked together with 
the greatest camaraderie. The only visible effect of their 
fighting alongside one another was an obvious desire to 
excel in gallantry and in courtesy. Considerable difiïculty 
was experienced in gaining touch, and unfortunate contre- 
temps occurred, as when, at Forester's House, a French 
ofiïcer, advancing through the open under the impression 
that the post was already in our possession, was shot down 
at point-blank range by German machine gunners. On 
the saine occasion, further fighting resulted in a junction 
being effected about 200 yards south of the post, and 
here perhaps the "Entente Cordiale" reached its highest 
pitch. French " poilus," themselves exhausted by a 
day's hard fighting, insisted on emptying al] their water- 
bottles and presented out men with the last drops of liquid 



THE BATTLE OF ANDIGNY 155 
they possessed. If is such incidents as these that, long 
after the troubles of war are forgotten, will stand out in 
the memories of the men who shared these trials and 
passed through tragic days together. Memories of such 
deeds of comradeship should go far indeed fo smooth 
over the pin-pricks of petty international squabbles. 
should such recttr in the halcyon days of peace. 
In tfter-days, when our minds hark back to these 
never-to-be-forgotten rimes, the men of the " cent-vingt- 
sixième " will be among the best-remembered by their 
comrades of the 46th Division, while, amongst the most 
pleasant memories of the Staff, will be the recollection of 
the courtesy which throughout was the hall-mark of the 
French Command. 
The part played by the 46th Division in the clearing 
of Andigny Forest and ifs outlying woods came fo an 
end on October i8th, when the Division retired for a few 
well-earned days' rest. During the last ten days of 
battling through wooded and enclosed country, checks 
were frequent and casualties severe. The calibre of the 
resistance encountered may be gauged from the fact that, 
in the ]3attle of Andigny alone, prisoners were captured 
from seventeen different regiments of six separate 
I)ivisions. They were undoubtedly picked men chosen 
fo fight in carefully selected positions as rearguards, while 
the main German Armies made good their retreat fo the 
line of the Sambre-Oise Canal. 
13y the devoted work of his rearguards the enemy's 
withdrawal fo this line was successfully effected, in spite 
of the utmost our troops could do. A pause in the 
operations then took place, vbile the Allied Armies dug 
themselves in in their new positions, and drew breath for 
the greater effort which was to break, once and for all, 
the new canal and river line. The 46th Division, in the 



156 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
meantime, in comfortable billets in Fresnoy and Bohain, 
settled down to systematic training for its next leap 
forward. These few days when the Division rested, 
flushed with a series of successes which, they felt, equalled 
the record of the best of the fighting troops of a fighting 
Army, will not soon be forgotten. The records of the 
past three weeks were written with blood and iron across 
a stretch of twenty mlles of captured country. Over 
7,000 prisoners, seventy guns, and machine guns too 
numerous to count, had been sent back to swell the tale 
of captures taken by the victorious t3ritish Armies in 
this, the zenith of their career. Exhausted by the recent 
heavy fighting, ail ranks were in a condition thoroughly 
to enjoy the test that had been merited so well. 
Yet, while the enemy still stood at bay, test could not 
be allowed, even for a week, to monopolize out minds and 
bodies. A carçfully prepared training programme pro- 
vided both organized recreation and the more serious 
preparation for future operations which was essential 
if the Division was to maintain its high level of effort. 
Each morning, the rolling downs round about Fresnoy 
and Bohain were crowded with officers and men engaged 
in tactical training. The afternoon saw dozens of foot- 
ball teams engaged in mimic battle, while, evening after 
evening, the crowded houses at the cinema and " Whizz- 
bangs" * were sufficient witness that the lighter side of 
life was being catered for so far as open warfare conditions 
would permit. 
Meanwhile, the news from all points was such as must 
cheer the least sanguine heart amongst us. Bulgaria and 
Turkey were down and out, and Austria was on her last 
legs. In France, the chier enemy was being slowly but 
inexorably beaten back ; the roar of the conflict receded, 
• The 46th Divisional concert-troupe. 



THE BATTLE OF ANDIGNY 157 
slowly but surely, from the great cities he had threatened 
and those he had held in iron grip so long. Thousands of 
rejoicing citizens were being restored to France each 
day and thousands more were streaming back along the 
roads to homes denied to them for years. No wonder 
the soldiers of the Allies walked like Kings. No thought 
of possible reverse clouded their horizon near or far. 
Germany. sullen but hopeless, was being beaten to her 
knees and, already, rumours of an incredibly early break- 
up were being bandied from lip to lip. Fatigue of body 
and weariness of soul were alike forgotten. When, 
on November 3rd, the call came for the Division to 
move up in close support of the Ist Division, every man 
was ready and eager to try conclusions with the enemy 
once more. 



PART IV 
THE LAST PHASE : CATILLON TO SAINS 

CHAPTER Vil 

THE ADVANCE TO SAINS DU NORD 
ON November Ist, after a slight pause for the advance 
of railhead and for the bringing-up of the necessary 
heavy artillery, a general assult was once more ordered. 
The attack was to be on a greater scale than ever before, 
the battle-front stretching from well north of Valenciennes 
to west of Guise. The whole weight of the First, Third, 
and Fourth British Armies and of the French Army on 
out right was to be thrown against the new German line 
in one huge sledge-hammer blow. 
On out own small section of the front, the IX Corps, 
facing the line of the Sambre-Oise Canal, was opposed by 
a formidable obstacle, but, such was the enthusiasm of 
the men, that no one felt the slightest doubt regarding 
the outcome of the attack. 
On the 3rd November, the Ist Division on the right 
and the 32nd Division on the left of the Corps front 
attacked and breached the line of the Canal, the 46th 
Division Artillery assisting in the barrage fired to cover the 
advance. The 46th Division, who had during the pre- 
ceding days moved forward in readiness to exploit any 
success, passed through the Ist Division and advanced, via 
the Catillon-Mezières Road, fo take up the pursuit of the 
158 



THE LAST PHASE: CATILLON TO SAINS 159 
retreating enemy. Here, at last, was really open warfare. 
Never was the difference in moral between the British and 
German Armies at this period of the war better shown 
than on that day, when, their improvised defences once 
more broken, the enemy Armies fled pell-mell towards 
the Belgian frontier. Along the main roads leading from 
the battlefields streamed columns of prisoners, the dirt 
and stains of the battlefield yet on their persons, de- 
moralized by their defeat and with open expressions 
of joy at their capture. Here or there among them 
strode an occasional officer or man who still held up his 
head and looked the whole world in the face, refusing to 
adroit his own or his country's defeat. Such men were 
scarce, however, and those outbursts of defiance which 
did occur were mostly contradicted by the circumstances 
of the surrender of the men themselves. 
The German rearguards fought well and with de- 
votion, but signs were many that the main mass of the 
tank and file were beaten to a finish. Visions of a 
triumphal match to the Rhine were beginning to colour 
the day-dreams of our men as the battalions swung 
by singing and whistling, to try conclusions for the 
last time with an enemy who was already morally de- 
feated. So they marched steadily forward with well- 
bronzed faces, neat uniforms, and workmanlike packs, 
no mean sample of the irresistible human tide which 
had burst the data constructed by the greatest military 
Pover of out day across the face of Europe. Now the 
column of German prisoners is past, and a very different 
sight greets the eye of the advancing troops. It is the 
Ist Division returning from its victory, and never before 
had troops marched back from the battlefield more spick 
and span, as though fron a review. Nota strap was 
out of place, hot a button dull. Four by four the men 



6o THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
swung past, exchanging a fusillade of chaff with their 
comrades who marched forward to carry on the good work 
they had so well begun. In their one night of leisure, ail 
traces of conflict had disappeared, and the premier 
Division of the British Army marched toits well-earned 
rest as to a Ceremonial Parade. Well might the German 
prisoners straggling along, fifty or sixty in charge of one 
nonchalant guard, feel that Nemesis was at hand and 
the day of their triumph passed for ever. 
At the end of October, the Headquarters of the 46th 
Division had been moved to Bohain and, after a few 
days' test, the whole Division commenced to match to 
their positions immediately in rear of the Ist Division. 
Headquarters moved successively to Molain and l'Arbre 
de Guise, where the General Staff remained, closely con- 
nected by telephone with the Staff of the Ist Division 
in their advanced Headquarters at Bellevue Farm. 
Here after the battle, the G.O.C. 46th Division took over 
command of the sector, and orders were issued to the 
I38th Brigade to relieve the Ist Brigade and endeavour 
to locate the position of the retiring enemy. 
Active patrol work was carried out on the night of the 
4th/sth November and, in the eafly hours of the 5th, 
out Infantry had pushed forward as far as Zobeau and 
Grand Toaillon Farm. During the advance, little resist- 
ance was encountered, and four 77-millimetre and three 
Io'5-centimetre guns were captured. 
On November 5th, the I39th Brigade from their new 
billets at Carillon, and the I37th Brigade from Bois de 
l'Abbaye and the district round La Louvière Farm, were 
instructed to pass through the I4th Infantry Brigade and 
the I38th Infantry Brigade and to take up the pursuit, 
keeping the enemy on the run so far as possible. Both 
Brigades met with little opposition and, by the evening 



]RIG&DIER GEIERAL J. HARIIGTOI» ]ï).S.O., ]RIGADE COItlIAINDER 
I39TH INFAITIY ]IIGADE 
l¢,cproduccd 10y comtcsy of E]]iott & Fry, 55, Baker Street Londou X" L 



THE LAST PHASE: CATILLON TO SAINS 161 
of the 5th, an outpost line was established on the line 
Barzy-Prisches and to the north, touch being obtained 
with the French at Barzy. Here some opposition wa 
encountered from the enemy posted on high ground 
north and east of Prisches, and the advance of the i39th 
Brigade was supported by a barrage of I8-pounders and 
4"5 howitzers. 
For the advance, one R.G.A. Brigade and two additional 
R.F.A. Brigades had been allotted to the Division. Of 
these, one Brigade R.F.A. vas attached to each of the 
fighting Brigades, the other three Artillery Brigades being 
held in reserve under the orders oI the C.R.A. 46th 
Division. 
The enemy having very thoroughly destroyed the 
bridge over the Canal at Carillon, all the Divisional 
transport and the Field Artillery were compelled to cross 
the Canal by a pontoon bridge thrown across by the 
Divisional Engineers west of Bois de l'Abbaye. Transport 
difficulties were thus considerable. The pontoon bridges 
were in themselves barely sufficient to take the traffic, 
and the approach to the bridges from both banks was 
across open fields. "[hese were soon churned into a sea 
of mud in which limbers and guns more often than not 
stuck fast, in their attempts to pass over. Traces and 
harness were broken again and again and,finally, transport 
had tobe lined up in a queue some distance from the 
bridge and each separate vehicle rushed over at the gallop. 
It was quite clear that, unless the situation was quickly 
taken in hand and the approaches improved, the Divisional 
transport might be held up for an indefinite period. The 
465th Field Company, who were working on the bridge, 
rose to the occasion, however, and a corduroy road was 
constructed, the bridges were improved, and the transport 
finally flowed across in a steady stream. So was the first 
II 



x62 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
of the river-obstacles surmounted without too much delay, 
and the Artillery enabled to dash forward, make up for 
lost rime, and cover the advance of their respective 
Infantry Brigades. 
In the meantime, the site of the old bridge at Carillon 
had been reconnoitred, and the gap partially filled with 
fascines, sandbags, and débris. The Canal was thus ruade 
passable for Infantry, who could cross with no further in- 
convenience than wet feet. Motor-cyclist despatch riders 
were also able to cross, volunteers carrying their machines 
over, but all other transport had to be directed via Bois 
de l'Abbaye until the 6th, by which date the Corps 
Engineers had completed a bridge for lorry traflîc. 
On the morning of the 6th November, the I39th Brigade 
advanced under a comparatively light barrage and, when 
an advance of I,ooo yards had been ruade, the enemy 
abandoned his positions and little more resistance was 
experienced during the day. Both Brigades reached 
their objectives without difficulty, the speed of their 
advance being limited only by the necessity of keeping 
them in signal touch with Division and supplied with 
rations and ammunition. 
The leading battalion of tle x39th Brigade, the 5th 
Sherwoods, had spread outwards on either side to envelop 
Prisches, w/file one company of the 8th Sherwoods was 
detailed to mop up the village itself. This battle was in 
marked contrast to everything that had gone before it. 
To the initiated, who knew that in a few minutes a barrage 
would open up, it was an extraordinary sensation to see 
the old men and women of the village and the farmhouses 
about, moving their household effects peacefully in wheel- 
barrows and odds and ends of carts up and down the road 
between Battalion Headquarters and the gun-positions. 
As the barrage opened, civilians appeared in crowds from 



THE LAST PHASE: CATILLON TO SAINS 163 
every direction, laughing and gesticulating as if the battl, 
were being fought for their amusement alone. Fortunately, 
the "Boche" had withdrawn his guns and there was no 
reply, or many lires would have been lost in the streets of 
Prisches. As if was, the battle passed off like a parade. 
The Sherwoods advanced cautiously, but with few 
casualties, and the enemy machine gunners melted away 
before the tire of out guns, tobe seen no more until 
Cartigny was approached. 
While the battle was still in progress, the 8th Sher- 
woods in support were making a triumphal entry into 
Prisches. 
Nowhere had the khaki uniform been received with 
greater demonstration. The inhabitants greeted the 
" point " of the leading company with flowers and fruit 
and with a strange concoction--a liquor ruade from a 
species of prune. It was impossible fo keep formation. 
The advance into the town soon resolved itself into a 
procession in single file; oflîcers and men pushed their 
way gently but firmly along, surrounded by crowds of 
civilians giving vent to their feelings as only French 
people can do. A lad of eighteen, who had been hidden 
for four months in a room behind a German oflîcers' 
mess, climbed up the church steeple with the tricolour in 
his hand, while German snipers were taking shots at 
him from posts beyond the town. Little cared he as 
he climbed until he achieved his ambition, and im- 
mortalized himself by nailing the colours triumphantly 
to the very top of the steeple. Here, as everywhere else, 
the rescued inhabitants set themselves to do the little 
they could, both to increase the comfort of the men to 
whom they owed relief, and to assist them to the utmost 
of their ability in the task of speeding the "Boche" back 
to the home he should never bave left. Leadingcitizens 



164 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
of the town at once organized gangs of the more able- 
bodied members of the population. Soon, willing hands 
were hard at work filling up the craters left in all the 
principal roads by mines fired by the enemy as he retreated. 
Not all of these had exploded, however. Delay-action 
mines were numerous, but few of these had escaped the 
notice of eyes eager to serve their country and her Allies. 
Mine after mine was pointed out and labelled, and it 
was in no small degree due to this gratuitous help that 
casualties from mines were to a great extent avoided. 
During the day the advance was continued to Cartignies, 
which was entered by the 5th Sherwoods and troops 
of the I37th Brigade, in spite of some opposition from 
enemy machine gunners. The weather had been bad, 
tain pouring down steadily all day, but nothing served to 
damp the enthusiasm, either of the troops, or of the 
inhabitants who turned out in great numbers to greet 
them. 
Here was seen the extraordinary sight of a battalion 
marching in fours into a town the outskirts of which wre 
still held by enemy machine gunners, a continuous stream 
of bullets from across the River Petite Helpe striking the 
houses. A billeting party, undeterred by this too warm 
reception, continued its work and the battalion, tired 
after its day's match, settled down in billets in the outpost 
line. Many were the amusing contretemps due to this 
proximity to an irritated enemy, who had had to leave 
his comfortable quarters for wet and windy bivouacs on 
the safe side of the river. Two officers of the Sherwoods, 
having round a complete German officer's kit abandoned 
by its owner, inadvertently settled down on the exposed 
side of a house to examine the booty. Wrapped in 
their congenial task, they failed to notice the attention 
they were receiving, until a spatter of machine-gun bullets 



THE LAST PHASE: CATILLON TO SAINS 165 
on the walls above reminded them that the owner of the 
kit might not be so very far away after all, and that 
it was indiscreet as well as impolite to open it under his 
observation. 
The night passed in quietness, disturbed only by 
occasional angry bursts of tire from across the river, 
where the enemy retained his positions until daylight. 
On the following day, November 7th, the I38th Brigade 
relieved the I37th and I39th Brigades and continued the 
advance across the Petite Helpe. Here a momentary 
check was experienced, for the tains had been heavy and 
the little river was in flood. All bridges had been 
destroyed by the enemv and, once more, the Engineers 
were called upon to provide the means of crossing. The 
men of the 468th Field Company were at once set to work 
and, before the daylight had fled, no less than three bridges 
spanned the stream. Later in the day, the 465th Field 
Company, who had been en_aged in filling mine-craters 
on the main Prisches-Cartignies Road, reached the bank 
of the river farther to the south and commenced work 
on a bridge for motor transport, vhich vas completed 
by 4.30 p.m. on November 9th. 
On November 8th, also, the 466th Field Company were 
ordered to construct a bridge across the river suflïcient 
to carry 6o-pounder guns. 1 he site of the old bridge was 
reserved for a motor-transport bridge, which was to be 
built at a later date by the Corps, but a place was chosen 
near by to give the maximum of road approach. A 
bridge of 75 feet span was constructed, but could 
only be reported fit for horse transport by nightfall. The 
enemy vas retiring quickly, however, and the passage of 
the heavy guns was a matter of urgency in order that the 
whole Division might continue the pursuit. The recon- 
struction of the bridge to a stronger design was therefore 



166 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
commenced at lO.3O p.m., fresh material having been 
received from Prisches. Af 12.3o a.m. on the 9th, the 
bridge was certified fit for the guns, was examined and 
approved by the Artillery officer in charge of them, and 
the "heavies" limbered up and crossed. 
It is estimated that 3,000 guns and other vehicles 
crossed the bridge within twenty-four hours of ifs com- 
pletion, comprising the heavy transport of our own 
Division, part of the transport of the French Corps on our 
right, and the whole of the transport of the 32nd Division 
on our left. From these figures, some idea can be gleaned 
of the impedimenta of a Division on the march. Keeping 
touch with the enemy by means of mounted troops 
and scouting Infantry is the least part of the task involved, 
and these days, when three British Armies chased the 
Germans across a country devoid of food and forage, 
were not the least severe test on the organization which 
had to ensure the arrival and distribution of the supplies 
and ammunition, without which pursuit would bave been 
futile and dangerous. 
Busy days indeed for both " G " and " Q." Divisional 
Headquarters moved every two or three days, and, the 
higher the formation, the more difficult is the movement 
of ifs Headquarters. A company packs up its tin box 
of papers and the balance of ifs imprest account and is 
ready fo move af a moment's notice, with or without 
transport. The move of Battalion Headquarters is a 
little less simple, and Adjutants have been known fo look 
worried when moves were frequent and unexpected. 
Brigade is the first formation with a tendency to split into 
advanced and rear headquarters. Brigade Headquarters 
transport is of respectable dimensions, though still horse- 
drawn, and so able to tackle pontoon bridges and the 
viler roads which lead thereto. Moves of Divisional 



THE LAST PHASE: CATILLON TO SAINS 16 7 
Headquarters, however, require some thought and 
preparation and, of even more importance under present 
circumstances, two-way roads for lorry transport. The 
enemy's thorough demolition of roads and bridges was. 
therefore, a serious obtacle to the advance of the Division. 
Divisional Headquarters as a whole could not move in 
advance of the main motor-traffic roads, so lines of 
communication forward of the Division increased in length 
and problems of supply became more and more acute. 
In a similar manner, the enemy's systematic destruction 
of the railways delayed the advance of railhead and 
made the supply of Division and Corps a much more 
complicated and difficult problem. The railway lines, 
as far back as St. Quentin and Le Cateau, were full 
of delay-action mines, cunningly hidden and, even if 
found, impossible of extrication without the chance of 
an explosion. Day after day, fresh mines went up, when 
all work forward of the new gap would be rendered 
useless. So railhead wavered backwards and forwards, 
and the lorry transport of the Armies was overtaxed and 
unable to cope with the situation. At this time, it became 
evident to the Higher Command that a pause would 
soon have tobe called in the pursuit. Large numbers of 
liberated civilians had to be fed out of the British soldiers' 
ration and this, while the necessity was met ungrudgingly, 
still further complicated the food question. 
On the 8th November, Divisional Headquarters moved 
to Prisches and, on the following day, a warning was 
received from the Corps that further forward movement 
would be impossible for several days. 
The lengthening of the Divisional lines of communica- 
tion threw heavy work on the Signal Company. At the 
commencement of the advance, a forward party consisting 
of three cable detachments and a complete Signal Office 



I68 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
Staff was ruade up and placed under the command of one 
of the subalterns of the company. He was given in- 
structions to keep in close touch with the leading Brigade 
advancing along the main Divisional route, fo find out 
from the Brigadier each evening his probable moves for 
the following day, and to anticipate these moves as far 
as possible. In this way, at least one cable pair was laid 
along the road hedges or poled over open spaces and kept 
well ahead of Brigade Headquarters, ready for use when 
a new headquarters was established for the night. This 
pair was reinforced as soon as possible by a second pair, 
and the lines made as secure as possible. A Corps cable 
detachment then followed up at its leisure, making the 
cables quite safe and improving the route. Whenever 
possible, old German permanent routes were used, 
stretches several miles long being sometimes round so 
little destroyed that it was possible to make them good. 
In this way, good speaking was obtained between Brigade 
and Division--far better indeed than between Division 
and Corps, where lines were even longer. Visual signalling 
was impossible in the close country through which we were 
advancing, but, by means of leapfrog tactics, continu- 
ous wireless communication was maintained. Wireless 
proved very useful also for the collection and dissemina- 
tion of news of general interest. 
The ether was overcharged with epoch-making items 
of news in these stirring days, and the crowds of English 
and French round the Wireless Press notices, where the 
English and French communiqués were displayed side by 
side, were quite one of the features of the street-scenes in 
Prisches, Cartignies, and later in Sains du Nord. 
The bridging of the Petite Helpe having been completed 
suf-ficiently to allow horsed transport to pass, the pursuit 
was once more pressed with vigour. The I38th Brigade 



THE LAST PHASE: CATILLON TO SAINS x6 9 
were instructed to make towards Avesnes, and pushed 
forward to establish themselves on the high ground to 
the south-east of that town. 
Considerable resistance was next encountered in the 
country south-west of Avesnes and along the Avesnes- 
Etroeungt Road. Late in the day, the 5th Leicesters 
overcame the enemy's resistance along this road and 
established themselves astride of it, capturing a four-gun 
battery and sixteen prisoners. The French on out right, 
however, were counter-attacked and forced to retire, 
thus exposing the flank of the Brigade, and, until the 
situation was restored, a defensive flank had to be thrown 
back. On out left, we were in touch with the 32nd 
Division near Avesnelles and little resistance was en- 
countered in this direction. 
The check was only momentary, however, though atone 
time the enemy's shelling reached an intensity remotely 
resembling that of former days. For a few hours during 
the day, the neighbourhood of Grand Maison Farm, where 
some of our artillery was in position, was heavily punished, 
but this was the last occasion the enemy's guns were to 
trouble us at all. The rapid advance of the Infantry and 
of the screen of Cavalry forced the retirement of such 
guns as escaped capture. 
On the 8th November, this last organized attempt at 
resistance was overcome with the assistance of concentra- 
tions of our own heavy and light artillery. After several 
hours fighting, the enemy gave way in all directions 
and the Brigade marched unhindered to their final 
objectives for the day. On the 9th November, the 
advance was resumed, but halted according to orders on 
a general line Sains du Nord-Semeries, inclusive. At 
the former place, one of those unfortunate occurrences 
happened, of which the wonder is that they are not more 



I7o THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
frequent in modern warfare, fought as it is in three 
dimensions. While our troops were pressing onwards 
towards Semeries, leaving Sains on their left flank, French 
Infantry and Cavalry were pouring along the roads to the 
south of that town and into the country beyond. The 
streets of Sains were full of rejoicing civilians clustering 
round the few Signal and R.A.M.C. officers who had yet 
round their way into the town, and to whose presence they 
were not yet accustomed. A party of English officers 
guided by the Curé were making an examination of the 
wrecked railway-bridge lying across the main road and of 
the abandoned stores in and about the railway-station 
Suddenly, the air seemed full of the drone of aeroplane 
engines and, looking up, the sky was seen dotted with 
British planes circling round the town and evidently 
trying to make out the identity of the crowd collected in 
the streets. The conclusion arrived at was soon pointed 
in a most unpleasant manner. 
Bullets sprayed into the town from the machine guns 
of the planes, while a little farther to the south and 
east, dull crash after dull crash announced the fact that 
our planes were bombing the roads near by. For some 
minutes the bombardment continued, until one plane, 
sweeping nearer earthwards than the rest, must have 
picked up the message of the frantically-waving handker- 
chiefs and hands. 
The firing ceased, but hot before several casualties 
had been caused, almost the last cases treated by the 
medical officers of the Division being some of our French 
Allies wounded by splinters from the bombs, or by 
machine-gun tire. 
No further fighting took place, though scouting-parties 
were pushed out through Ramousies and Liessies without 
gaining touch with the enemy. On the Ioth November.. 



THE LAST PHASE: CATILLON TO SAINS I7I 
orders were received for the Cavalry and Corps Cyclists 
attached to the Division tobe transferred to Major- 
General Bethell's mobile force. The I38th Brigade 
received orders to stand fast on the outpost line held by 
them, and the part played by the 46th Division in the 
war had corne to an end. 
The Ilth November, Armistice Day, while it was 
received with quiet thankfulness and pride, was marked 
by no such rejoicings as at home. The Division rested on 
its arms, thoroughly exhausted after the strenuous work 
of the last two months. A consciousness of work well 
done was in the mind of every man, but the main feeling 
was one of release from strain. "[he \Var was won. Time 
enough for rejoicings in the future; now was the rime 
for utter relaxation of effort. Rest was needed--physical, 
mental, and moral--and for two or three days the mini- 
mure of effort only was asked from the men. Many a quiet 
toast was drunk at mess that evening, but there was no 
"' mafiïcking," and the streets of Sains were quiet as on a 
normal night. 
It was a fitting end to a mighty effort. Here, on 
Armistice night, the Division lay in the town where Kaiser 
Wilhelm II had his home during the strenuous months 
of the German spring and summer offensive. Hard by, 
and well within our lines, was Avesnes, where the Great 
General Staff had planned and executed their mightiest 
blows at the Allied Armies. Just ahead of us was the 
]3elgian frontier, already abandoned by the fleeing German 
Armies, and the crossing of which would pretty well 
complete the liberation of France from the yoke of the 
invader. Considering the Division as an entity, as it.is 
to all who have the honour to belong toit, in what better 
place could its history end ? 
In future wars the North Midland Division may play a 



172 THROUGH THE HINDENBURG LINE 
part as great as in the past, but never will its members 
have reason to be ashamed of the example set in the 
autumn of 1918. 

The work of clearing up the battlefields proceeds apace, 
but the Scars of War are deep and will not easily be hidden 
or erased. 
To-day, walking along a country road, the author of 
thîs account came acr6gs a shell hole filled with bloody 
water. Hard by, the hoof of a horse protruded from a 
hasty grave. Again, not many yards away, a British 
soldier's shrapnel-drilled steel helmet lay asprawl upon the 
ground. 
Blood, hoof, and helmet--all three mute witnesses to 
one small incident in the greatest tragedy the world has 
ever seen. 
To the living are the Fruits of Victory, but let us not 
forget our glorious Dead. There cannot be a single 
officer or man of the 46th Division but has cause to mourn 
the loss of a brother, a comrade, or a friend of more 
peaceful days. Let us endeavour to make the England 
in whose defence they fell a better place for ourselves 
and for our and their descendants. So may we dedicate 
our lires, as this short history of the exploits of the 46th 
Division is dedicated, to those who gave their lires for 
an ideal. 
So shall the men who fell at Hohenzollern Redoubt, at 
Gornmecourt, at Bellenglise, at Ramicourt and Andigny, 
or a thousand other unnamed places, feel that after all 
their great sacrifice was hot ruade in vain. 
Thus we may leave them lying in their oft-times name- 
less graves in France, but with their memories enshrined 



lçEMoRIAL CROSS ERECTED ON TH] -IIGH GROUND NEAR 
BELLENGLISE IN I[EMORY OF TI-1E FALLEN OF THE 
DVSON. 



THE LAST PHASE: CATILLON TO SAINS 173 
in the Souls of their Comrades and their names engraved 
on a grateful country's Honour Roll. 
Shall we prove worthy of the heritage they leave us ? 
This is the question vhich faces each man of the Allied 
Armies to-day, and on out ansver hangs the Fate, not only 
of ourselves, but of the World. 



APPENDIX I 

GERMAN DIVISIONS ENCOUNTERED AND DE- 
FEATED BY THE 46TH (NORTH MIDLAND) 
DIVISION BETWEEN THE PERIOD 4TH 
SEPTEMBER TO IITH NOVEMBER, 98 
2nd Division. 
5th Reserve Division. 
xsth Reserve Division. 
22nd Reserve Division. 
4th Division. 
25th Reserve Division 
9th Division. 
34th Division. 
75th leserve Division. 
79th Reserve Division. 
8xst leserve Division. 
84th Reserve Division. 
xxgth Division. 
x97th Division. 
22'st Division. 
4st Division. 



APPENDIX II 

CASUALTIES BETWEEN 24TH SEPTEMBER AND 
IITH NOVEMBER, 1918 

Officers. Other Ranks. 
Killed . . 5 ° 541 
Wounded . • 158 2,938 
Missing - 5 417 
Gassed • 4 85 

Total 2I 7 Total. 3,98I _ 



APPENDIX III 

IMMEDIA TE REWARDS GRANTED TO 46TH (NORTH 
MIDLAND) DIVISION FROM 24TH SEPTEMBER 
TO IITH NOVEMBER, 1918 

OjCg,¥S : 

Other Ran, ks : 

V.C. 2 
Bar to'D.S.0. 3 
D.S.O.. II 
2nd Bar to I.C.. 3 
Bar to M.C. . I6 
M.C. . . 92 

V.C. . 2 
M.C. I 
Bar to'D.C.I. 4 
D.C.M. 54 
2nd Bar to M.M.. 2 
Bar to M.M. . 26 
M.M .... 366 

582 
Officers. Other Rs.nks. 
FRENCH CROIX DE GUEmE . - 13 
CHEVALIER DE L'ORDRE LEOPOLD I 9 
]EL6IAN DECORATION MILITAIRE . -- 2 

x76 



APPENDIX IV 

ORDER OF BATTLE, FEBRUARY 28TH, 1915 

G.O.C. 

A.D.C.s 

G.S.O.I. 

G.S.O. 2. 
G.S.O. 3- 
A.A. & Q.M.G 
D.A.A. & Q.M.G. 
D.A.Q.M.G. 
A.D.M.S. 

Major-General the Hon. E. J. M. 
Stuart-Wortley, C.M.G., D.S.O., 
M.V.O. 
f2nd Lieutenant R. Stuart-Wortley, 
j Hants Yeomanry. 
"|Lieutenant J. H. M. Marquis of 
I. Granby, 4th Leicesters. 
Major (temporary Lieutenant-Colonel) 
W. H. F. Weber, R.A. 
Major Armitage, R. of O. 
Captain D. D. Wilson, Indian Cavalry. 
Lieutenant-Colonel E. Allen, R. of O. 
Captain F. H. Dansey, Wilts Regiment. 
Major S. F. Legge, Royal Fusiliers. 
Lieutenant-Colonel (temporary Colo- 
nel) W. C. Beevor, C.M.G., R.A.M.C. 
Captain W. McC. Wanklyn, R.A.M.C. 
Major (temporary Lieutenant-Colonel) 
W. A. McDougall, A.V.C. (T.F.). 
Major R. H. V. Kelly, R.A. 
Major T. C. Newbold, 5th Sherwood 
Foresters. 

O.C. Divisional Signal 
Eompany 
C.R.E. 

C.R.A. 

Brigade Major, R.A. 
I2 

Major E. A. Lewis. 
Brigadier-General C. V. 
Stratford, R.E. 
Brigadier-General H. M. 
R.A. 
Major P. P. Budge, R.A. 

x77 

Wingfield- 
Campbell, 



178 
Stafî Captain 
A.D.C. 
Ist Nort'h M]dland 
Brigade, R.F.A. . 
2nd North Midland 
Brigade, R.F.A. 
3rd North Midland 

APPEND iX IV 
Captain W. J. Bedow:-;. 
Lieutenant Erquhart. 
Lieutenant-Colonel J. Tonge, T.D. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Sir S. Hill Child, 
M.V.O. 
Lieutenant-Colonel C. C. Leveson- 

Brigade, R.F.A. . Gower. 
4th North Midland 
Brigade, R.F.A. How. Lieutenant-Colonel L. G. Gisborne. 
North Midland D.A.C. Lieutenant-Colonel R. P. Leach. 
North Midland Heavy 
Battery Lieutenant-Colonel W. Hînd. 

Colonel 

Brigade Major 
Staff Captain 
! 

5th Sherwood Foresters 
6th Sherwood Foresters 

SHERWOOD FORESTERS BRIGADE 
(temporary Brigadier-General) C. T. Shipley, late 
Royal Fusiliers. 
Major E. M. Morris, Devon Regiment. 
Captain R. Wordsworth, 8th Sher- 
wood Foresters. 
Lieutenant-Colonel G. Mosley, T.D. 
Lieutenant-Çolonel G. D. Goodman, 
V.D. 

*TthSherwoodForesters Lieutenant-Colonel C. W. Birkin. 
8th Sherwood Foresters Lieutenant-Colonel G. Fowler. 

LINCOLN AND LEICESTER BRIGADE 
Colonel (temporary Brigadier-General) Clifford, late Middlesex 
Regiment. 
Brigade Major Major R. L. Adlercron,Cameron High- 
landers. 
Staff Captain . Captain J. E. Vicars, 4th Leicesters. 
Lieutenant-Colonel R. E. Martin. 
Lieutenant-Colonel C. H. Jones, T.D. 
Lieutenant-Colonel J. w. Jessop, T.D. 
Lieutenant-Colonel T. E. Sandall. 
* These units were transferred fo the 59th Division on the 29th 
January, 1918. on Brigades being reduced from four to three bittalions. 

4th Leicesters. 
5th Leicesters. 
*4th Lincolns . 
5th Lincolns 



APPEND IX IV x79 

GTAFFORD BRIGADE 
Colonel (Temporary Brigadier-General) W. Bromilow. 
Brigade Major Major R. Abadie, K.R.R. 
Staff Captain Captain G. E. Elwell, 6th South 
Staffords. 
*5th North Staffords Lieutenant-Colonel J. Knight. 
6th North Staffords. Lieutenant-Colonel J. Gretton. 
5th South Staffords . Lieutenant-Colonel R. R. Raymer. 
6th South Staffords . Lieutenant-Colonel T. F. Waterhouse, 
T.D. 
O.C. Divisional Train Lieutenant-Colonel E. L. Mears. 
S.S.O. Lieutenant (temporary Major) F. J. 
\Vilde. 
O.C. North Midland 
Div. Cyclist Co. Captain T. S. Black. 
Ist N.M.F.A. Lieutenant-Colonel E. A. Wraith, 
R.A.M.C. (T.). 
2nd N.M.F.A.. Major R. M. \\'est, R.A.M.C. (T.). 
3rd N.M.F.A.. Lieutenant-Colonel H. H. C. Dent, 
R.A.M.C. (T.). 
N.M. Div. San. Sec. Lieutenant W. K. Parbury, R.A.M.C. 
(T.). 
N.M. Mob. Vet. Sec.. Captain C. Hartley, A.Y.C. (T.F.). 
* This unit was transferred fo the 59th Division on the 29th 
January, I918, on Brigades being reduced from four fo thre battalion,. 



APPENDIX V 

ORDER OF BATTLE, SEPTEMBER 29TH, x9x8 

G.O.C. 

A.A. and Q.M.G. 

D.A.A.G. 

D.A.Q.M.G. 
A.D.M.S. 
D.A.D.M.S. 
D.A.D.O.S. 
D.A.P.M. 
D.A.D.V.S. 
O.C. Divisional Train . 

S.S.O. 
Divisional ]uria1 Officer 
Divisional Gas Officer. 
Divisional Salvage Ofiïcer . 
Divisional Interpretation 
Officer. 
Senior Chaplain . 
Ammunition Ofiïcer 
Camp Commandant . . 
Forward Observation Ofiïcer 

46TH DIVISIONAL HEADQUARTERS 

Major-General G. F. Boyd, 
C.M.G., D.S.O., D.C.M. (F). 
Lieutenant C. R. R. Romer. 
• [Captain A. S. Neale, M.C. 
Lieutenant-Colonel C. F. Jer- 
ram, D.S.O. 
Major S. Hay, D.S.O. 
Captain M. H. J. Burns-Lin- 
dowo 
Lieutenant-Colonel R. Duck- 
worth, D.S.O. 
Major H. N. Forbes, M.C., 
D.C.M. 
Major K. G. Williams 
Colonel T. Kay, D.S.O. 
Major S. R. Foster, M.C. (F.). 
Major G. M. Manuelle, M.C. 
Major C. L. Veal. 
Major C. Hartley. 
Lieutenant-Colonel E. L. 
Mears, D.S.O. 
Major F. J. Wilde, M.C. 
Lieutenant R. K. Ewan. 
Captain K. J. S. Ferrall. 
Lieutenant B. W. Dale. 

Lieutenant S. Read. 
Rev. G. S. Willimott. 
Lieutenant E. V. Grimston. 
Captain W. B. T. Rees. 
Lieutenant J. Walker, M.C. 

i8o 



APPENDIX V rSx 

TRAFFIC OFFICERS 

O.C. 24cth Employment 
Company 
O.C. Additional Stetche; 
Bearers 
Attached 
O.C. 46th M.T. Company 

Captain H. M. M. Smyth. 
Lieutenant W. J. Lyness. 
Lieutenant F. T. Evans. 
Lieutenant H. J. Winfield. 
Captain D. G. Wells. 
Lieutenant H. Booth. 
fCaptain F. M. A. Plant, M.C 
.Lieutenant B. C. Newbold. 
Major R. E. Maude. 

HEADQUARTERS, 46TH DIVISIONAL ARTILLERY 

Brigadier-General Sir Hill Child, Bart., C.M.G., D.S.O., M.V.O 
Major G. S. Cooper, D.S.O. 
Captain H. W. L. Kearns. 
Lieutenant H. R. Mather. 

230TH BRIGADE, R.F.A., HEADQUARTERS 
Lieutenant-Colonel J. H. W. Tapp, D.S.O. 
Captain A. S. Beardsley. 
Captain G. E. Bourne, C.F. 
Captain T. Thomson, A.V.C. 
Lieutenant R. C. Davidson. 
Lieutenant T. L. Doyle, M.C., U.S.A. 

A /œe3 o Battery 
Major J. J. Read, D.S.O. (Battery Commander). 
Lieutenant S. Turner. 
znd Lieutenant W. H. J. Hooton. 
2nd Lieutenant C. E. Sykes. 

B/œe3 o Battery 
Captain R. G. Lyttelton (Battery Commander). 
Lieutenant V. A. Prichard, M.C. 
Lieutenant L. W. Webb. 
Lieutenant C. H. Wlfittingham. 



8z APPENDIX V 

C]23o Battery 
Major V. B. Rowe, M.C. (Battery Commander). 
Lieutenant A. L. Graham, M.C 
2nd Lieutenant H. Maclean. 
znd Lieutenant W. Emery. 

D/23 o Battery 
Major S. C. Wright, D.S.O. (Battery Commander). 
Lieutenant D. Gray. 
Lieutenant R. W. T. Jones. 
2nd Lieutenant C. P. Burges. 

23IST BRIGADE, R.F.A. 
Lieutenant-Colonel N. G. M. Jervis, D.S.O. 
2nd Lieutenant K. D. Abrahams, M.M. 
Captain W. G. Thomson, A.V.C. 
Captain J. Lang, R.A.M.C. 
A/23I Batlery 
Major G. L. Wright, M.C. (Battery Commander). 
Lieutenant A. V. Maddock, M.C. 
2nd Lieutenant W. E. Date. 
2nd Lieutenant M. G. Jones. 
B/23I Battery 
Major G. Campbell, M.C. (Battery Commander). 
Lieutenant S. J. Smith. 
Lieutenant J. S. Allport. 
2nd Lieutenant R. S. L. \Vhite. 
C/23I Battery 
Major C. R. Morris-Eyton, M.C. (Battery Commander). 
Lieutenant H. E. Boucher. 
2nd Lieutenant J. Lee. 
2nd Lieutenant J. C. Binns. 
D/23I Battery 
Major A. G. Hewson, M.C. (Battery Commander). 
Lieutenant D. A. Carr. 
2nd Lieutenant S. W. ]3ridgwater. 
2nd Lieutenant N. A. Bramwell. 



APPENDIX V x83 
46TH I)IVISIONAL AMMUNITION ÇOLUMN HEADQUARTERS 
Major J. R. Wilson. 
çaptain W. Savory, M.C. 
Captain W. T. \Vood (R.A.M.C.). 
Section I 
çaptain J. B. Murphy. 
Section II 
Captain J. H. Thursfield. 

S.A.A. Section 
Captain H. Payne. 

D.T.M.O. 
Captain C. A. Paulden, M.C. 

COMMANDING X/46 T.M. BATTFRY 
Captain E. Porter. 

CMMANDING Y/46 T.M. BATTER¥ 
Captain R. L. Hunter, M.C., IE. 

ROYAL ENGINEERS, HEADQUARTERS 
Lieutenant-Colonel H. T. Morshead, D.S.O. (wounded at duty), 
C.R.E. 
Lieutenant-Colonel W. Garforth, D.S.O., M.C., Acting C.R.E. 
Captain H. J. C. Marshall, Adjutant R.E. 
Lieutenant A. R. Page, Assistant Adjutant R.E. 

465Ttt FIELD COMPANY, R E 
Major W. H. Hardman, M.C., Commanding Officer. 
Captain G. H. Jones, M.C., 2nd-in-Cornmand. 
Lieutenant A. E. Rome, Section Oflïcer. 
Lieutenant M. E. Thomas, M.C.. Section Officer. 
end Lieutenant J. Ainscouth, Section Oflïcer. 
end Lieutenant L. Blacklock, Section Oflïcer. 



I84 APPENDIX V 

466TH FIELD COMPANY, R.E. 
Major H. M. Fordham, M.C., Commanding Officer. 
Captain H. C. Laly, 2nd-in-Command. 
Lieutenant A. Fox, Section Officer. 
Lieutenant A. E. Hubbard, Section Officer. 
Lieutenant F. "1". James, M.C., Section Officer. 
2nd Lieutenant T. H. Midgley, Section Oflïcer. 

468TH FIELD COMVANY, R.E. 
Major G. C. Lowbridge, Commanding Officer. 
Captain McGregor, M.C., 2nd-in-Command. 
Lieutenant W. Young, M.C., Section Officer. 
Lieutenant F. ]3. Nay]or, Section Officer. 
Lieuetnant M. R. Boyce, Section Oflïcer. 
Lieutenant R. D. T. Collier, Section Officer. 

46TIt DIVlSIONAL SIGNAL COMPANY, R.E. 
Major E. A. Lewis, D.S.O., Officer Commanding. 
Captain R. E. Priestley, M.C., 2nd-in-Command. 
Captain S. W. Kirby, M.C., O.C.R.A. Signals. 
Lieutenant W. H. Aldrich, O.C. Signais, 137th Brigade. 
Lieutenant M. V. Jones, O.C. Signals, 138th Brigade. 
Lieutenant F. H. Steggall, M.Ç., O.C. Signais, I39th Brigade. 
Lieutenant G. A. Knapp, M.C., O.C. Signais, 231st Brigade, 
R.F.A. 
Lieutenant S. A. Moore, O.C. No. I Section. 
Lieutenant H. S. Walker, Wireless Oflïcer. 
Lieutenant A. C. Cowe, Section Officer. 
2nd Lieutenant R. G. Wills, M.C., M.M., O.C. Signals, 23oth 
Brigade, R.F.A. 
2nd Lieutenant R. S. Lowe. 
2nd Lieutenant W. E. Thomas. 
2nd Lieutenant R. V. Jenner, O.C. Signais, Machine Gun 
Battalion. 
2nd Lieutenant A. P. Boone, Wireless Officer. 

x37TH INFANTRY BRIGADE 
Brigadier-General J. V. Campbell, V.C., C.M.G., 
Brigade Commander. 
Captain A. C. T. White, V.C., M.C., Brigade Major. 

D.S.O., 



APPENDIX V 185 

Captain I. Jackson, M.C., Staff Captain. 
Lieutenant C. R. Krell, Intelligence Ofiïcer. 
Lieutenant S. B. Bridgwood, M.C., Brigade Bombing Officer. 
Captain J. D. Luc "khoff, "G " Learner. 
end Lieutenant R. Briars, "" Q '" Learner. 

I/STH BATTALION SOUTtI STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT 
Lieutenant-Colonel A. \Vhite, D.S.O., Commanding Offices. 
Maior C. C. Dowding, D.S.O., M.C., 2nd-in-Command. 
Captain A. E. Machin, Adiutant. 
2nd Lieutenant W. J. Bond, Intelligence Oflïcer. 
nd Lieutenant C. H. \Valton, Lewis Gun Oflïcer. 
Captain G. H. Ball, D.S.O., M.C. 
2nd Lieutenant L. F. Burton, M.C., M.M. 
2nd Lieutenant C. S. Embrey, M.C. 
Captain W. C. Duflïeld, Quartermaster. 
Lieutenant E. Wigzell, Transport Oflïcer. 

Company Commaluiers 
Captain L. L. Tyler. 
Lieutenant R. H. Gillender, M.C. 
Captain E. J. H. Meynell, M.C. 

Platoon Commanders 

2nd Lieutenant C. Jones, M.C. 
H. Howell. 
W. B. Brown. 
.... J.B. Bushby. 
.... W. Payne. 
.... A.C. Moore, M.M 
A. C. Bull. 
.... J.V. Blunt. 
L. Pearson. 
.... H. Hooper. 
.... A.J. Musgrove. 
.... J.N. Whittaker. 
H. G. Waters. 
A. W. Vizer, M.M. 



186 APPENDIX V 

I]6TH BATTALION SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT 
Lieutenant-Colonel C. Lister, D.S.O., M.C., Cmmanding 
Officer. 
Maior J. M. Frew, M.C., 2nd-in-Command. 
Captain J. P. Wood, Adjutant. 
2nd Lieutenant T. L. Freeman, Signal Officer. 

Company Commanders 
Captain G. S. Harris, M.C. 
Major E. Lewis. 
Captain P. R. Teeton, M.C. 
Captain A. P. Buswell, M.C. 

Platoon Commanders 
2nd Lieutenant F. C. Beech. 
.... G. Evans. 
.... C.W. Briand. 
.... J. Baker, M.C. 
.... P.W. Burgess, M.C., M.M. 
.... F.A. Morgan, M.C. 
Lieutenant M. E. Williams, M.C. 
2nd Lieutenant H. Watts, D.Ç.M. 
.... J. Robinson. 
.... S. \Valters, M.C. 
.... C.P.H. Sylvester. 
.... L.J. Knight. 
.... R. Smith. 
H. W. Wooton. 
Lieutenant J. A. Armstrong, M.C. 
,, H.C. Marriott, M.C. 

I/6TH BATTALION NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT 

Lieutenant-Colonel T. R. Evans, Commanding. 
Captain V. E. Green, Adjutant. 
Lieutenant F. E. Burt, Assistant Adjutant. 
Captain G. Maher, Quartermaster. 
Captain M. Radcliffe, Transport Officer. 
Lieutenant J. R. Wicks, Signal Officer. 
Lieutenant T. Beale, Lewis Gun Officer. 



APPENDIX V 187 

Company CommaMers 
2nd Lieutenant H. N. Thompson. 
Captain A. H. çharlton, D.S.O., M.C. 
2nd Lieutenant F. L. May. 
Captain F. J. Newton, M.C. 

Platoon Coîtmauters 
2nd Lieutenant W. S. Angus. 
.... F.E. Brindley. 
.... E.W. Par'kinson. 
.... A.E. Chambers. 
.... W. Woodward. 
.... W.J.A. Ensor. 
.... C.B.E. King. 
.... L. Roberts. 
.... J. Beelingham, M.C. 
.... R.H. Sennett. 
.... R. Barron. 

Captain P. H. Bellanger, M.C., Medical Oflïcer 
Captain F. W. Cleveland, M.C., Chaplain. 

I37TH TRENCH MORTAR BATTERY 

Captain B. D. Hatchett, M.C., Commandtng. 
Lieutenant H. Gregory. 
Lieutenant J. Oulton. 
2nd Lieutenant T. R. D. Davies. 

I38TH INFANTRY BRIGADE 
Brigadier-General F. G. M. Rowley, C.M.G., D.S.O., Brigade 
Commander. 
Captain D. Hill, M.C., Brigade Major. 
Captain E. A. Huskinson, Staff Captain. 
Lieutenant H. N. Salter, Intelligence Oflïcer. 
Captain C. Schiller, M.C., " Q" Learner. 



I88 

APPEND IX V 

i/5-rll BATTALION, LINCOLNSIIIRE REGIMENT 
Lieutenant-Colonel H. G. Wilson, D.S.O., Commanding. 
Captain IL White, Adjurant. 
Captain J. C. Urquhart, M.C. 
Lieutenant F. C. King, Signal Officer. 
Captain J. H. Lloyd Williams, M.C., Medical Officer. 
Company Commanders 
Lieutenant G. H. Quantrill, M.C. 
Captain R. G. Dunn. 
Lieutenant W. Cheer. 
Captain W. H. G. Smyth. 
Platoon Commanders 
Lieutenant H. Bamber. 
,, E.A. Dennis. 
,, C. IL Madden, M.C. 
,, H.F. Hawkeswood. 
,, R.D. Lepine. 
2nd Lieutenant A. C. Fisher. 
R. S. Lord. 
Lieutenant J. W. Mansfield. 
2nd Lieutenant W. A. Giles. 
.... F.S. Skinner. 
A. G. 131ack, M.C. 
Lieutenant R. 13. Harris. 
2nd Lieutenant F. W. L. Few. 
.... J.H. Hopkins. 
.... W. Whapples. 
41424 Sergeant N. Smith. 

i/4rH BATTALION, LEICHSTERSHIRE REGIMENT 
Lieutenant-Colonel F. W. Foster, M.C., Commanding. 
Major G. R. A. Beckett, M.Ç., 2nd-in-Command. 
Captain D. W. Howarth, Adjutant. 
2nd Lieutenant W. L. Bass, Intelligence Officer. 
.... A.F. Castle, Signal Oflïcer. 
W. K. Fox. 
Captain G. S. Brown, Medical Officer. 
Lieutenant J. A. Tyler, Transport Officer. 
,, M.F. Shepherd, D.C.M., Quartermaster. 



APPENDIX V 

Company Commanders 
Lieutenant A. 13. Pick. 
Captain J. C. Ledward. 
,, G.L. Lea. 
,, H.F. Papprill. 

Platoon Commamters 
znd Lieutenant J. H. Watson. 
.... C. Morbey. 
.... H.N. Lacey. 
.... H.J. Partridge. 
.... M. Lamont. 
.... J. Turton. 
.... F.H. Wills. 
.... W.L. 13arber. 
.... R.C. Quayle. 
.... E. Cashmore. 
.... C.H. Wood. 
.... H.E. Schoffield. 
D. J. Brewin. 
Lieutenant T. R. Flynn. 
3638r Sergeant H. Dobson. 
11o8 7 ,, C.W. Bugden. 

I89 

I]STH BATTALION LEICESTERSHIRE REGIMENT 

Major J. L. Griffiths, D.S.O., Commanding. 
Captain G. E. Banwell, M.C., Acting 2nd-in-Command 
Captain J. D. Hills, M.C., Adjurant. 
Lieutenant K. Ashdowne, M.C., Intelligence Officer. 
Captain W. A. Nicholson, Quartermaster. 
2nd Lieutenant W. R. Todd, Transport Officer. 
Captain W. B. Jack, M.C., Medical Officer. 
Captain the Rev. C. B. W. 13uck, M.C., Chaplain. 

Company Commanders 
Lieutenant A. E. Brodribb, M.C. 
Çaptain J. W. Tomson. 
,, A.E. Hawley, M.C. 
,, J.R. Brooke, M.C. 



19o 

APPENDIX V 

Platoon Commamters 
2nd Lieutenant A. Asher. 
.... H.J. Quint. 
.... S.H. Dennis. 
.... J.W. Lewin. 
E. Cosgrove. 
Lieutenant S. G. H. Steel, M.C. 
J. C. 13arrett, V.C. 
2nd Lieutenant A. Johnson. 
W. W. Parsons. 
Lieutenant S. Corah. 
D. T. Sloper. 
2nd Lieutenant J. G. E. 13uckley. 
240467 Sergeant P. 13owler. 
240919 Lance-Sergeant G. Fowkes. 
240118 Corporal 13. Mead. 
242599 Sergeant R. 13. Hayne. 

I38TH TRENCH MORTAR 13ATTERY 
Captain A. N. 131oor, Commanding. 
Lieutenant A. Ramsden. 
,, A.C. De 13risay. 

I39"FH INFANTRY 13RIGADE 
13rigadier-General J. Harington, D.S.O., 13rigade Commander. 
Captain E. J. Grinling, M.C., 13rigade Major. 
Captain W. C. C. Weetman, M.C., Staff Captain. 
Lieutenant A. G. T. Lomer, Intelligence Officer. 
Lieutenant W. A. Lytle, M.C. 
Lieutenant F. Clay, Transport Officer. 

I]STH 13ATTALION GHERWOOD FORESTERS 
Lieutenant-Colonel A. Hacking, D.S.O., M.C., Commanding. 
Captain R. S. Pratt, M.C., 2nd-in-Command. 
Lieutenant (Acting Captain) J. I3. Raymond, M.C., Adjurant. 
Lieutenant G. H. Williamson, Intelligence Officer. 
Lieutenant S. G. Faire, M.C., Signal Officer. 
2nd Lieutenant E. H. Kirkby, Lewis Gun Officer. 
Lieutenant D. Mackenzie, Quartermaster. 



APPENDIX V 

Lieutenant C. S. Blackwood, Transport Officer. 
Lieutenant J. Charnley, Medical Officer. 
Rev. E. H. Hines, Chaplain. 

191 

Company Commanders 
Lieutenant (Acting Captain) D. Smith, M.C. 
2nd Lieutenant J. N. Jacques, M.C. 
Captain C. N. Littleboy, M.C. 
Lieutenant (Acting Captain) H. V. Howard, M.C. 
Plaloon Command «rs 
Lieutenant J. F. Crellin, M.C. 
R. G. \Vhittaker, M.C. 
2nd Lieutenant J. C. Wheatley. 
.... A.H.T. Gent. 
.... M. I). Barrows. 
R. N. Lakeman. 
Lieutenant E. F. Ann. 
2nd Lieutenant F. R. Hartshorne. 
.... T. Moulton. 
.... C. \V. Holmes. 
.... J.R. I)ench, M.C. 
.... F.T. Metcalfe, M.C. 

I/6TH BATTAIION SHERWOOD FORESTERS 
Lieutenant-Colonel B. W. Vann, M.C., Commanding. 
Major J. A. Shedden, D.S.O., M.C., 2nd-in-Command. 
Captain E. F. Winser, M.C., Acting 2nd-in-Command. 
Captain E. Kershaw, M.C., Adjutant. 
Captain W. T. Stephens, Signal Officer. 
2nd Lieutenant A. Mackintosh, M.C., Scout Officer. 
2nd Lieutenant R. E. H. Stott. 
Captain S. B. Boulton, Quartermaster. 
Lieutenant H. D. Vaughan, Transport Officer. 
Major A. W. Shea, D.S.O., Medical Officer. 

Company Commanders 
Lieutenant J. N. \Vightman, M.C. 
Captain H. 5. Pink, M.C. 
Lieutenant (Acting Captain) J. F. Dennis, M.C. 
Captain F. '6: Hipkins, M.C. 



I92 

APPENDIX V 

Platoon Commanders 
2nd Lieutenant C. B. Newell, M.C. 

.... F. Touch, M.C., D.C.M. 
.... H.A. Payne. 
.... R.A. Frith, M.C. 
.... C.E. Wardle. 
.... W. Bavin. 
.... P.A. Tompkinson. 
.... A.J. Tyrell. 
.... A. Jephson. 
.... C. Bimrose, M.C. 
.... W. Meakin. 
.... E. Scarrott. 

I/8TH BATTALION SHERWOOD FORESTERS 
Lieutenant-Colonel J. Finlay Dempster, D.S.O., Commanding 
Officer. 
Captain C. P. Elliott, M.C., Acting 2nd-in-Command. 
Captain C. H. Powell, Acting Adjutant. 
Lieutenant S. A. Tebbutt, Signal Officer. 
2nd Lieutenant W. J. Winter, M.C. 
2nd Lieutenant R. S. Plant. 
Lieutenant H. M. Toyne, Acting Transport Officer. 
Captain St. G. M. L. Homan, M.C., Medical Officer. 
Captain Rev. D. E. Sturt, M.C., Chaplain. 

Company CommaMers 
Captain G. Thomas, M.C. 
2nd Lieutenant J. Bloor, M.C., M.M. 
Lieutenant S. E. Cairns, M.C. 
Captain J. B. White, M.C. 

Plaloon Commanders 
2nd Lieutenant S. Bradwell, M.C., D.C.M. 
.... J.F. Shackleton, M.C. 
.... R.M. Barker. 
.... F.T.W. Saunders. 
.... P.A. Turner. 



APPENDIX V 

end Lieutenant C. M. Bedford. 
.... A.D.H. Dunkin. 
.... F.L. Harrap, M.C. 
.... A.N. Davis. 
.... James H. Smith, M.C. 
.... T.F. Mitchell, M.C. 
.... John H. Smith. 

I39TH TRENCH MORTAR BATTERY 
Captain J. L. Percival, M.C., Commanding. 
Lieutenant S. Sanders. 
,, R.H. Wood. 
H. Edson, M.C. 
2nd Lieutenant V. L. Morris. 

I/IST BATTALION MONMOUTHSHIRE REGIMENT 
Lieutenant-Colonel J. Jenkins, M.C., Commanding Officer. 
Major F. G. Phillips, 2nd-in-Command. 
Captain W. M. James, Adjurant. 
Lieutenant G. H. T. Cochrane, Signal Officer. 
Lieutenant F. L. Moore, M.C., Lewis Gun Officer. 
Captain W. P. Abbott, Quartermaster. 
Lieutenant S. G. Blow, M.C., Transport Officer. 
Captain K. McAlpine, Medical Officer. 

Company Commanders 
Captain E. G. St. C. Tisdall. 
W. M. B. Burnyeat, M.C. 
Lieutenant A. W. Goldsworthy. 

Platoon Commanders 
2nd Lieutenant C. T. BlackwalL 
Lieutenant H. E. Sharpe. 
2nd Lieutenant A. S. Hixon. 
228o24 Sergeant G. Howes. 
2nd Lieutenant H. C. Archer. 
Lieutenant J. R. Evans. 
G. P. PeacheLl. 
227751 Lance-Sergeant F. J. Leonard. 
2nd Lieutenant H. R. Rowland. 

13 



194 APPENDIX V 
2nd Lieutenant A. T. Williams. 
225785 Sergeant C. Borchert. 
Lieutenant H. J. C. Haines. 
I/Ist North Midland Field Ambulance, Lieutenant-Colonel 
T. A. Barron, D.S.O., R.A.M.C., Commanding. 
I/2nd North Midland Field Ambulance, Maior G. H. H. 
Manfield, M.C., R.A.M.C., Commanding. 
I/3rd North Midland Field Ambulance, Lieutenant-Colonel 
A. C. F. Turner, D.S.O., R.A.M.C., Commanding. 

46TH BATTALION MACIIINE GUN CORPS 
Lieutenant-Colonel B. Mathew-Lannowe, D.S.O., 
manding. 
Major G. A. Wade, M.C., 2nd-in-Command. 
Captain R. Dickens, Adjutant. 
2nd Lieutenant A. C. Park, Intelligence Officer. 
Captain M. J. Somerfield, Quartermaster. 

Coin- 

Company Commanders 
Major H. S. Windeler, M.C. 
,, H. Witty. 
,, W.T. Boughey, M.C. 
,, M. Douglas. 
Second-in-Command oJ Companies 
Captain R. Page. 
,, T.A.N. Walker. 
A. R. M. Darby, M.C. 
Lieutenant N. MacVie. 

Company Transport O.ffco's 
Captain G. Woody. 
Lieutenant W. Harris, M.C. 
,, H.A. Spendlove. 
Section O.ïcers 
Lieutenant W. H. Hoff, M.C. 
,, H.L.C. Guthrie. 
S. A. Parkes. 
2nd Lieutenant H. Johnson. 



APPENDIX V 

Lieutenant A. E. Cowley. 
,, A. V. Briggs. 
2nd Lieutenant W. G. Oncken. 
J. R. Wilson. 
Lieutenant C. G. Larking. 
,, CJ. Highwood. 
znd Lieutenant S. A. Earl. 
.... R.R. Willing. 
Lieutenant H. W. Rudland. 
,, F.A.K. Park. 
W. Ackland. 
2nd Lieutenant B. A. Lane. 

Sub-Section Commanders 

Lieutenant J. M. Kitching. 
,, J.W.E. Warren 



INDEX 

A 
Abbott, Cap. W. P., i25 
Aisonville, i33, I35 
Andigny, Forê Dominale d', x32 , 
I36, x38, x52, x55 
Andignyles Fermes, i32 , x39, x46, 
150, I5], 173 
Army, xst, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 2I, 79 
Army, 4th, Int., 79 
Ascension Valley, 49, 6i, 75 
Avesnelles, 169 
Aveanes, I69, 171 

B 
Ball, Captaln S. H., 136, 137 
Barrett, Lieut. J. C., V.C., 29 
Barzy, 161 
Beaucourt sur l'Hallue, 23 
Beauregard Farm, 126 
Beaurevoir-Fonsomme Line, 82, 
87,88,97,98, xo 5, xo6, iio, 11, 
I13, I15, 116, IIS, 12 7 
BeIlenglise, 22, 23, 24, 3 o, 3, 32, 
33, 34, 4 o, 46, 5 o, 53, 54, 57, 63, 
69, 73, 74, 76, 77, 78, 81, 82, 83, 
84, 94, 97, 115, tzo, z4, 43, 
53, I73 
]3ellenglise Tunnel, 64, 68, 77, 78 
Belle Vue, 15 o 
Belle Vue Farm, 6o 
Bellicourt, 3o, 47, 77 
Berthaucourt, 25 
Bethell, Major-Gen., 
Bethune, 18, 23 
Beux Trench, 27 
Bihecourt, 4 2 
Bishops Sorttord, 8 
Black Watch, 15o 
Bohai, IiO, 128, t29, 13 o, 3 I, 
I45, I46, 156, 16o 
Bois de l'Abbaye, i6o, 161, i62 

Borne des Trois Evêchés, 15o 
Boulogne, 42 
Boyd, Major-Gen. G. F., C.B 
C.M.G., D.S.O., D.C.M., Int.,2I 
Brie Chftteau, 42 
Brown, Second-Lieut. W. B., 56 
Bucquoy, 19 
Buxton, Mayor of, 8o 
C 
Cahill, Sergt. W., 56 
Cambrin, 20 
Cameron Highlanders, 15 o 
Campbell, Brig.-Gen. J. V., V.C., 
C.M.G., 19.S.0., 42, 45, 65 
Cartignie, i64, I69 
Carillon, 158 , I6o, x6i, 
Cavalry, 39, 63, 82, 1Io, 69, ITI 
Champignons Copse, 1 
Charlton, Capt. A. H., D.S.O., 58 
Child, Brig.-Gen. Sir Hill, C.M.G., 
D.S.O., 4 ° 
Chataignies Wood, m6, lO 7 
Cité de Riaumont, 2o 
Cité Jeanne d'Arc, 2o 
Cité St. Edward, 19 
Cité St. Theodore, 9, 2o 
Collins Quatry, 
Coltman, Lance-C pl., V.C., D.C.M., 
M.M., x 17,  I8 
Corps I, II, III, V. Vil, XI, XIII, 
XIV, XVII, XVIII, 
Corps IX, 23, 4 o, 47, 9 o, f23, I39, 
I58 
Curran, Lieut[-Col., 49 
Cyclists, 39, 63, lX, 53, 7 
D 
Delbrfick, Prof. Hans, 79 
Derby, 17, 18 
Division, 1st, 26, 3o, 5o, 65, 7 o, 
73, 82, 115, I53, I57, I58, I59 

I97 



I98 
Division, 2nd (Australian), 31, 73, 
8% 83, xo4, x x 5 
Division, 6th, a6, xa3, xœeeS0 143, 
14o, 15o 
Division, 3oth (American), 3 o, 31, 
14o 
Division, 3and, 31, 38, 43, 68, 73, 
83 , 84 , 85, 1o5, 1o7, lO9, i IO, 
Division. 551h. ao 
Division, lz6th (French), le 5, 136, 
I53 
Doon Hill, 89 
Doon Mill, lO8 

E 

Edgson, Second-Lieut. H., io2 
Egypt, I8 
Engineers, 41, 43, 44, 46, 66, 67, 
68. 127' I44, 149, I6I 
Etricourt, 3 o, 83 

F 

Ferguson, Cpl. A. E., 55 
Field Ambulance, I/ISt N.M., II8 
Field Ambulance. i/2nd N.M., 63 
Field Company R.E., 4651h, i48, 
161, I65 
Field Company R.E., 4661h. 59, 
66. 165 
Field Company R.E.. 4681h. I65 
Flammenwer/er. 18 
Fontaine de Colombier, 134 
Fontaiue d'Uterte, lO6, 
Forester's House, 154 
Forgan's Trench, 29 
Fosse Eight, 18 
Fresnoy le Grand, I24, 126, 128, 
129, 13o, 132, I45, I56 

G 

Gai ca.t, 38 
Garforth, Lieut.-Col. W., D.S.O., 
M.C., R.E., 41 
George, lte. H., R.A.M.C., 63 
Givenchy, 2o 
Gommecourt, 19, 3 O, i73 
Grand Maison Farm, 169 
Grand Toaillon Farm, i6o 
Guaxds Division, x8 

INDEX 
Guise. I58 
Guyot Farm, 
H 
Hacking, Lieut.-Col. A., M.C., 99 
Haig, Brig.-Gen. BI., C.M.G., 
Harringon, Brig.-Gen. J., D.S.O. 
45 
Harrison, Major S. S. B., 
Harry Copse, 33 
Hennechies Wood, 15o, I52 
Hindenburg Line, 22. 24. 3 ° 
34, 43, 46 , 69, 79, 8I, 84, 88 
Hill 6o, 18 
Hill 63, 2o 
Hill 7 o, 2o 
Hintze. Herr von, 79 
Hofl, Lieut. W. H., I 13 
Hohenzollern Redoubt, 173 
Hudson's Post, 25, 49 
Hussars, 2oth, 11 I 
I 
Inkerman, 63 
J 
Jeancour, 63 
Jenkins, Lieut.-Col. J., M.C., 25 
Johnson. Sergt. W. IL, V.C., 98 
Joncourt, 82, I14 
Jones. Second-Lieut. C., 57 
Jonnecourt Farm. i .6 
K 
Kadaververwendungsanstalt. 77 
Kemmel, 18 
Knobkerry Ridge, 72 
L 
La Baraque, 3 I, 32 . 76 , 78 . 84, 
120, I22, 123 
La Louvière Faxm, i6o 
La Nation Cross Roads, 15 
Lancers, 12 th. i 1 I 
Lane, Major H. D.. M.C., I-8 
L'Arbre de Guise, I6o 
Lawe Canal, 20 
Le Cateau, i67 
Leduc Trench, 27 
Lehaucour, 3 o, 33, 54, 69. 7 o, 7 
82, 1o 5 



INDEX 

Leicesters, 4th, 34, ii, 113, I33, 
I5o 
Leieesters. 5th, 7» 28, 29, 63, 72, 
lO 7, 112, I33, 134. 1.5o, 151, 169 
Lens, 19, 2o 
Les Gobelets, 15o 
Le Tronquay, 3I 
Levergies, 24, 117, 126 
Le Verguier, 26, 35. 4I, 62 
Liessies, I71 
Lién, 19 
Lincolns, 5th, 72, , 150 
1 Noh noe. 15o 
Ludendor, 79 
Luron, 8 

M 
Machine Gun Battalion, Lire 
Guards, 47, I4O 
Machine Gun ]3attalion, 6th. 
Machine Gun Battalion, 46th, 47, 
Machine Gun Battalion, iooth, 47 
Magny la Fosse, 30, 33, 54, 69, 72, 
82, 97, 116, 117, I2o, i23, 124 
Mannequin Hill, 89, lO5, 1o6, io7, 
io15, ii4, I15, 1i 7 
Marne, 79 
Mathew Lannowe, Lieut.-Col. D., 
D.S.O., 47 
Mennevret, 136 , 139, 151, 153 
Mericourt, I24, 126 
Midgley, Lieut. T. H., R.E., 67 
Molaia, I6o 
Monmouthshire Regt., I/ISt, 43, 
46, II3, 114, 124, I2 
Montagu-Stuart-Wortley, Major- 
Gen. the Hon. E. J., C.B., 
C.M.G., M.V.O., D.S.O., 
Montbrehain, 83, 89, 94, 97, io% 
IOI, 102, IO3, I04, 105, III, 112, 
I13, 114, I15, 118, 119 
Morshead, Lieut.-Col. H. T., 
D.S.O., R.E., 4 
Mosley, Pte. H., R.A.M.C., 63, 64 
Mounttord, Pte. B., 36 

N 
Nauroy, 24 
Neuve-Chapelle, 
Neuve-Eglise, i8 

I99 
Neville's Cross, 89, 1o 7, 108, I I2 
Nigger Copse, 33 

O 
Omignon, River, 32 
Openshaw, Cpl., 67 

P 

Petite Helpe, River, 164,165, 169 
Ploegsteert, 18 
Pontruet, 26, 27, 28 
Porter, Lieut. J. W., Io 4 
Preselles Farm, 124 
Priestley, Major R. E., M.C., Int. 
Prisches, 161, I62, 163, 164, I66, 
168, 169 

R 
R.A.M.C., 116, 170 
Ramicourt. 81, 82, 85, 89, 91, 94, 
96, 97-1oo, io2, lO3, lO5, io7, 
Io8, ii2,ii3-6, i8, i22-4,153, 
173 
Ramousies, iTi 
Rawlinson, Gen. Sir H., Int. 
Regnicourt, i46 , i47 , i48 , i49 , 
Reid, Lieut., R.F.A., 65 
/etheuil Farm, 134, i38 , i52 
Rheims, 79 
Riquerval, Bois de, 132, 136, I38 , 
I39, 147, 152, I53 
Riquerval Farm, I35 
Riqueval Bridge, 3 o, 3 I, 34, 58, 
59, 67 
lqobinson, Majbr, 149 
Route " A " Keep, 20 
Rowley, Brig.-Gen. F. G. M., 
C.M.G., D.S.O., 44 

S 
Sains du Nord, i58, 169, 17I 
Sambre-Oise Canal, 82, 155, i58 
Scots Greys, 11I, 14o, 153 
Seboncourt, 147 
Semeries, 17o 
Sequehart, 82, 83, 87, 94, lO5, lO7, 
lO9 
Shedden, Major J. A., M.C., lO 3 
Sherwood Foresters, 5th, 27, 28, 
98 , lO2, lO3, I47 , 162, 164 



2O0 

INDEX 

Sherwood Foresters, 6th, 7 o, 71, 
99, lO2, io3, 147 
Sherwood Foresters, 8th, 65, 98, 
too, ioi, lO3, 147, 148, 149, 162 
Signal Company, 38, 39, i68, I7o 
Small Post Wood, 38, 83 
Somme, 19, 42 , 88 
St. Helène, 26, 27 
St. Quentin. 34, 4 I, I67 
St. Quentin Canal, 22, 24, 30, 
59, 64, 69, 77, 85. 97, i i i 
Statïords, 5th North, 19 
Staflords, 6th lqorth, 36, 51, 58, 
io5, lO7, lO8, 117 , 152 
Staflords, 5th South, I9, 35, 5 I. 
54, io6, lO7, 133 
Staffords, 6th South, 51, Io6, I36 , 
137 

T 

Talana Hill, 73, 83 
Tanks, 39, 47, 7 °, 14°, 144, 145 
Tertry. 23 
The Quarries, 18 
The Tumulus, 25, 26, 49, IlO 
Thomas, Lieut. M. E., N.E., I48 
Thorigny, 3 o, 73, 83 

Thwaites, Major-Gen. W., C.B., 
Int., 20, 2 i 
Times, TJw, 79 
Trench Mortar Battery, x 37th, 55 
V 
Vadencourt. 25. 26, 27, 31, 62, 1I 7 
Valenciennes, 158 
Vallée Hasard. i44 , 153 
Vamp, Lieut.-Col. B. 
2tI.C., 7 o, 99, I°3 
Vaux Andigny, I29 
Vendelles, 38, 123, I45 
Vimy Ridge, 18 
W 
Wassigny, I39, I54 
" Watling Street," 3I 
Wiancourt, ioo, 1oi, Io4, 11 I, i I.| 
123 
Wightman, Lieut. J. lxl., 7 I 
Y 
Ypres Salient, 18 
Z 
Zobeau, 16o 

F»inted in Great Britain by Hotell, Watson " Viney, Ld., Lendon and Aylesbu F 



Th 



200 

INDEX 

Sherwood Foresters, 6th, 7 o, 7 , 
99, lO2, lO3, 147 
Shervood Foresters, 8th, 65, 98, 
ioo, IOI, I0], 147, 148 , 149 , I62 
Signal Company, 38, 39, 168, 17o 
Small Post Wood, 38, 83 

Thwaites, Maor-Gen. W., C.B., 
Int., 20, 21 
Times, Ttw, 79 
Trench Mortar Battery, 137th, 55 

V