Skip to main content

Full text of "The Fifth Army in March 1918"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on Hbrary shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http : //books . google . com/| 




H'EH']. 4-io 0, -s- 





IN MARCH 1918. BY 





-^VA^* H:^rrK\N 

VW . N* »\^\**¥. ^NW»Nl»l Ahl* IIM(f.A«, BMOLAAD. 


THESE are persons who circulate the opinion that in 
March, 1918, the total AUied force on the Western 
Front was equal in numbers to the German power. 
Believers in tne Versailles Council keep this opinion 
in dieulation, but they never try to support it with evidence. 
They tdl us tiiat the French had 97 divisions ; and we know 
that Hai^ had 58, nearly all in great need of drafts. Here 
are 155 divisions. Ludendorflf lutd either 192 (the figures 
riven by Haig), or 195 (the French flmres as pYem by Qeniral 
Mangin). How do Uie Versailles rolk fill in the difference 
between 155 and 192 divisions? They do not say. On 
March 11> 1918, the American rifle strength in France was 
49,000 men, and many of them were not yet sufficiently trained 
to be sent into a tremendous battle. fSven if we count the 
whole of them, 49,000 rifles form only five divisions with ten 
battalions in each, and with a thousand men in each battalion. 

Gin^ral Mangin — a very notable Fochite — ^has declared 
(La Ranu des jSeva MoTuEes, June 1, 1920) that Ludendorff 
had a superiority of 83 divisions, but without a reserve for 
their mamtenanee. Ludendorff was certain that he had 
enough superiority in both numbers and training to justify a 
tremendous effort. I believe that the Allies had in all not 
more than 162 divisions. 

Since this book was published I have received the lament- 
able news that Brigadier-Oeneral Dawson, D.S.O., who 
oonunanded the South Afiricans, died of enteric fever last 
October, while big game shooting in East Africa. There was 
not a nobler actor in the great drama of March, 1918. 

Some reviewers have accused me of '^ attacking '* Byng 
beeaoae I try to show in focus certain events which belong 
essentially to my subject, and which hitherto have been 
either hidden or heavily veiled. Let me remind these critics 
that the Third Army bias been used as a weapon with which 
to slay tlie reputation of the Fifth. Apart from this, what 


\ .. *»^ ic^vi y ^otxld be perverted ? 

^>. > t^^^Akti^ when his subject is 

.-«^ .4%m:s oi (Mail are corrected in 

4.% . .sx ^ "^lifier to pass fix)m nnavoid- 

.. V .% .^i%v« ittdioeretion. 

W. S« S. 



G.O.M.G., K.O.6., K.C.y.0. 

*HEN Mr. Shaw Sparrow first asked me to write 
an Introduction to his book, I refused, because 
I felt the subject was too personal to myself. 
Then I saw the following in the Morning 


"^To tlM g&orloos sad undying memory of the Heroes of the Fifth Army 
who geve their Uvee for Britain, Kerch aist-Sand, 191S. 

^ We thank Gk)d npon every remembranoe of yoo. 

•*Iieet we forget." 

After reading this remembrance I felt that my personal 
indixiations did not count, and that I owed if to the glorious 
and undying memory " of my Ciomrades of the Fifth Army, 
HyiD^ as well as dead, to help to throw on their heroism 
tlie light which has be^ so long withheld. 

I write this Introduction, uien, in a full r^;ard of their 
Memories and in no sense of my own capacity. 

On the shoulders of the officers and men of the Fifth 
Army was thrown practically the whole burden of holding 
op lAadendorfTs powerful attack, one which was as carefully 
and wAAj organized in all its details as it was weighty in 
its physical and material resourcea As Mr. Shaw Sparrow 
shows by his figures of the diyisions engfuzed, the great and 
main blow was directed against the Fifth Army, two of 
LodendofflTs armies being employed on this task. 

Thus, the fate of France, cf Oreat Britain, of Europe, 
rested with those few men who composed the Fifth Army, 
and nrho, perforce scattered and unsupported, were worn 
and ezhaostod by strain and fatigue for nights and days in 



sooeeasion, yet still fought on against the numbers which tried 
to overwhelm their defence. 

There may have been men who showed weakness, indeed 
there were, and some others made mistakes ; but it must not 
be overlooked that though they might be British soldiers 
they were also human beings. For no one to fiul would have 
been beyond the power of human effort. And when we look 
at the picture in its broad lines and see the numbers of 
divisions engaged by all parties in the drama» then with 
no more than justice we can assert that no soldiers of any 
nation ever displayed so richly the military virtues of courage, 
endurance, ana staunchness under a strain so long and so 
terrible. • 

We have been brought up to admire and praise ''the thin 
Red line'' which so often stayed the foe. Never was the 
Bed Line so thin as the Khaki Line which manned the long 
front of forty-two miles for which the Fifth Army .was 
responsible on March 21, 1918. Mr. Shaw Sparrow discusses 
the reason for the thinness of our line here — a thinness known 
to Ludendorff— and makes some valuable and interesting 

The people of Great Britain, not to sa^ those of all the 
Allies, owe the officers and men of the Fifth Army a debt 
of gratitude which neither words nor deeds can sufficiently 

Unfortunately, owing to a variety of causes, to some of 
which Mr. Shaw Sparrow refers, my countrymen, with few 
exceptions (confined principidly to those bereaved ones who 
lost their dearest and best), have not shown an appreciation 
of the splendid deeds of these men. 

This book throws some dear and true light on what they 
were called upon to do, and how they did it, and it is my 
sincere hope that my countr3nnen will realize from reading 
its paces the splendour and the achievement of the soldiers 
of the Fifth Army. 

Mr. Shaw Sparrow has written a clear and powerful 
narrative. His book gives proof of much research, and he 
is in possession of valuable information which, I believe, will 
be mainly new to the general public. From the point of 
view of history, he writes clearly and lucidly of the broad 
outlines of the story, and of the several absorbing questions 
of military policy and strategy which centre round this 
tremendous battle. But he does not confine himself to the 
mere recital of the main events and their causes* He adds 


drama and reality to the tale by many personal anecdotes 
which vivify the story and give it hie, enabling the reader 
to judge what manner of men these were who were called on 
to ta^ce the storm. The one would not be complete without 
the other. 

Flans, organization of preparation, and the orders of the 
higher Commanders and Stafis of all forces engaged in a 
giBat battle, have undoubtedly an enormous influence, often 
a decisive one ; but in this world we can never escape, least 
of all in a battle, from the human element. It is these 
toadies which Mr. Shaw Sparrow has introduced into his 
book which make his whole picture so real and gives it such 
value. Whatever the plans may be, and whatever the pre- 
parations and orders, it is inevitable that the conduct of the 
officers and men actually engaged in a great struggle should 
be of the utmost importance. It was so in this case, and to 
a greater degree than is usual, for as a mere military problem 
on paper, the battle was prod^ous. The troops of the Fifth 
Army were exposed in such scanty numbers to an attack 
80 wbU organized and so formidable that, without exaggeration 
it can be said, they seemed to have no chance whatever of 
saving the situation. 

Tet they did save it^ and that they succeeded is due 
entirely to the truly wonderful and magnificent manner in 
which they fought and fought on. Courage to face terrific 
dangers for a few hours would not have sufficed. Their 
daim to honour rests on a much greater foundation than 
this, since they supported fati^e and exhaustion through 
dajTS and nights, ana yet maintained throughout their courage 
and their ''will to act" 

We wonder how they did it. I can only surmise that 
it came from the great and gallant spirit that animated tiie 
Fifth Armv, super-imposed on the virtues of honour and self- 
aaerifioe which are the heritage of all our race. 

Mr. Shaw Sparrow enables us in his paces to see elimpses 
of the magnificent human element on whicm depended in the 
last resort the safetv of the Cause. It was this element that 
imposed strategical failure on LudendorfiT. It maintained 
intact an ever thinning line, a line that perished, yet re- 
mained cheerful; kept it intact in front of the Qerman 
maswfw which strove to suree forward and to submerge 
rapklly all the eonntrv beyond. These masses hoped to take 
Amienii and Abbeville, in order to pin us aminst the sea; 
they wished to take Paris also, and (perhaps the most potent 


izifluenoe of all) tl 

Let me say, i> 
a footnote to his 
the fine temper 
vividly : — 

"A marked i 
officers during i 
the fighting li: 
a good account 
the report of . 
Somme on th< 
first-hand inii 
* From what J 
there seems 1 
they have n 
convinced ti 
of the battl 
nnmbers of 
patting u}) 
attacking \. 
and have 
that oncr 
find thei. 
have no« 

the Fit^ 
for me ' 


is 6l<'> 



to ^' 


. ■— ^' 


» * 

.M ' 


"^g^am^ war. 
i; and in 
^j^ :s doing so. 

Belfort, to 



fironi of 

>; made it 
^>c^ where 
fines and 

^ iv^ aftteck on 

Nyr IVtt^rlas Haig 

^ ^;;x To the Fifth 

* .^^ ^ M cfMalion of 

.^ -«" 


^a^iaxU heavy loss 
-\a vMODKeuvre en 


retraite'* is usually the only correct course to adopt on 
these occasions, for the essential thing is to sain time, to 
delay the enemy, and not to secure territory. It is essential 
also to presenre the containing force from overwhelming 
defeat^ as of course, if it is once overwhelmed, the enemy 
becomes free of all his movements, and he can gain ground 

In this case, the task set the ofBcers and men of the Fifth 
Anny was particularly hard by reason of the great dispro- 
portion in numbers which existed between the opposing forces. 
A study of Mr. Shaw Sparrow's pages and ms maps will 
show that the task imposed on the Fifth Army was fulfilled, 
in spite of its immense difficulties, and in fact it is difficult 
to recall from history a case in which a force has better 
fulfilled that extremerjr difficult and dangerous r61e. 

It was bitter, therefore, to the officers and men of the 
Fifth Army, but more particularly to the families of those 
who gave their lives in these dark da}rs of struggle, to hear 
the misconceptions which were so freely bandira about of 
th^ action and their conduct, and the luurd judgments passed 
upon them. 

For various reasons mv troops had taken over a part of 
the line held by the Frencn Army. It may have been under- 
stood by the British O.H.Q. that the French would be solely 
responsible on my front for all supports and reserves; but 
certainly it was not mv impression that all my supports and 
reserves should come from French sources, though a plan of 
gradual relief by French troops had been worked out, com- 
mencing from the South. When I relieved the Third French 
Army under G&i6ral Humbert^ it was withdrawn and posted 
round Clermont. There I thought it remained. In reality 
all the divisions of the French Army were ordered away 
and posted elsewhere, G^niral Humbert and his Staff alone 

During the battle, when G&i£ral Humbert arrived at my 
Headquarters to support the line, and eventually to take 
it over as previously arranged, I said I was very glad to see 
him, as my men were struggling against terrific odds. He 
replied, however, ** Mais je n'ai que mon fimion,'* referring 
to the small flag on his motor-car. This was not exactly 
the amount of support that the moment seemed to require. 

The difficulties and disorganization caused by the hurried 
retam of French divisions m>m distant parts of the theatre 
are re feired to by Mr. Shaw Sparrow. 


One French Corps Staff arrived with a few candles for 
a dozen Staff Officers simultaneously to study maps and 
write orders. Verily we all had to improvise much. 

Whatever the cause, the actual result anyhow was that 
by Sunday, March 24, I believe I am correct in saying, 
three British divisions had reached the Third Amy,* 
while the fourth to arrive was sent to me, and was able to 
get hurriedly into action that morning, but without previous 
reconnaissance. This was the 8th Division, coming from 
the vicinity of Ypres, viz. the left of the British line, whereas 
the danger whicn the Fifth Army was struggling to meet 
as best it could with its most inadequate resources was on 
the extreme right of our line. 

Mr. Shaw Sparrow justly criticizes the distance which 
the 50th and 20th Divisions were from the front when the 
battle opened. They were my local supports, though still 
retained imder the orders of G.H.Q., for reasons previously 
given by the C.G.S. to my sell 

Mr. Shaw Sparrow's book is a serious and valuable con- 
tribution to History, and the British public owe him a debt 
of gratitude for a task of considerable research and ability 
which does justice to British soldiers, and elucidates and 
discusses in a dear and interesting manner the different 
causes which influenced the battie, showing a real appre- 
ciation of strategical principles, worthy of the consideration 
of all military students. 


* The 42nd, in support eart of Adinfer on Muoh 28; the 62nd, in 
Buppozt west oi Airee on the 24th ; the 85th, which on the filth dar fonght 
under General Byng; and the 12th in the Friooort neighhonrhood on the 
evening of the 25th. 



INTBODUCnON. By Qxhsbal Sib Hubbbt db la Pobb Gouge, 
QXyJLQ,, K.O.B., K.G.V.0 vii 



L How TO Bbqih • • 8 

TL Ov A Nbw Fboht : Dbvbrob mjxd tsb Lmrre • « . • 10 


17. Haxo axd LuDBBDOBrv : thbib Gomibstb m Pbb-Bastlb Aivaibs 33 


i 40 



L Obbiiab Sbbixb ahd Bbitish Bbdoobtb : thb Fibst Day of 


n. Hobbb'b AnAOX m otbb ob so bb Bafvlbd . 

• • 

m. Tbm Cbbtbb FiOBXiBa Kobxh abd South of thb Ybbmabb- 

BOAD . • 100 

IV. Tbm Gbbsbb Fiobtibo, eonii$med: Fbahbbtxllb, Gftanr, 


V. Tbb Kobthbbb Aitaobb : Pbbumibabt Ponm abb QuBmoRs 186 

VL Tbb Joarr AnAOK by Mabwitz abb Oro tob Bblow: thb 

Fan Dat'b Battle 146 

VH. HABwm abb Bblow o o b t ibub thbib Joibt Attaosb • 169 




ym. Bomb Poxbtb avd 0bo88*Qus8txomb baibsd bt tei FOBsoono 


IX. S^TUBDAT AHD BuxDAT IN TBB KoBannBii FxaBToro • • 174 
X. Last Days ov thb Nobthsbn FxaBxnro • • .186 




L A VBW SOAmBSD Imfbebixokb 901 

n. Dawsoh'b Fxtb Huxdbbd. How nos Bodtr Avbioahb wzbb 

OvBawRaLMBD: Bubdat, Mabgh S4, 1918 • ... 293 





I. Or thb Lobb of Pbbobhb abd Bapauvb • • • • 946 

IL Thb Tbabbbbb of Fxfib Abkt Tboopb to thb Thibd Abmt . 966 

III. Obxoib or TBB Cbbzbt Bpibodb 966 

IV. How ofJB Mbb wbbb Bbubvbd IB thbzb Gbappxa aoadtbt 


y. Uhitt of OomiABD 989 

TL Tbb Tboubzob of Mixzstbbb 998 

vn. Bomb Bz2» Ibbubb abd PounoAL Bftaoia .... 804 


INDBX 819 



^ 1. Haieh 21, 1918 : Approzimata Ordm of BatUe, British and German 

Between pages 40-41 
•/S. Maano'B Oorps, with its Forward and Battle Zones, its Brigadee 
and Battalions, and the Qerman Oorps and BiYisions 

Bekoeenpagee 72»78 
^8. Attaek on the FonurUeeUh DiTXBioxr, Maroh 21. Hntier breaks 
through the Battle Zone, but hUB in his effort to cross the 

OroflilOanal Bekoeenpagee 80-81 

V4. The C4ris7 Drama and the very important Oombat of Harbonni^res 

Betwempagee 128-129 
^6. The Bomidary miitbig Byng and Googh Between pagu ISI^VSn 

/ 8L 'WtaoX of the WmXk DxvnxoH and the Bnirenehed Land north and 

sooth of it Bs^iosen fwgst 144-146 

• T. Manh 21 and StS: German advanee to the P4ranne Bridgehead, 

north and sooth of the Yermand-Amiens Boad 

BtlMssM jMg«a 168-169 

^a PoorDajioftheBotnat .... B sfcps e t t pages 18^186 

/9. The Preworeion Byng's Bight andOentre on the Bvening of Maroh 

26 B etwe en pagee 192-198 

/IOl M^ to show how Dlrisions from the Fxvcb Abmt on Maroh 26 

fonned tha Tbibd Abmt'b Bight Wing Be tmem pagee 272*273 



1. Skaleh Mi^ on whioh the German Flans oan be followed 49 

2. Brig^les of the SMg-fi/nt Divnunr, with the Forward Zone and 

itsBedonbts 71 

3. Front of the iXgl^temdi DnriBzos at 6 pjn. of Maroh 21 77 

4« Maloolm's Front alter Colonel Little's arrival, Manh 26, 1918, 

oTsning 126 

6. FlesqniArss SaUent, March 21, 1918, with the German Divisions, 

and the land lost by oor Thibd Abut north*west of the Salient 149 

6. Zone Map, Northern Flirting 161 

7. Sooth Afrioan Front, March 21, 1918, and the Land held below it 

by the 2VMii<y->lri« Diyisios 166 

8. Cavalry Fight at CoUeqr, March 24, 1918 219 

9. Laet Stand of the Booth Afrioan Brigade 223 

la Tbe Nesle Sector 283 

lU Th« Crista nottb-weit of the Ancre, Manh 26» 1918 ... 269 



MABCH 21, 1918 

1. Tib Corps. Sir W. N. Ck>ngreTe, V.O., KO.B., M.Y.O. Its front 
— 14,000 yuds wide — ^went sonthward irom a point about half a mile 
nortii of Qooaeanconrt, at the top of a hill about 400 yards west of 
Ooimeliea, through Qauche Wood to Vauoellette farm, then south- 
eastward to Ep^y and Bonssoy. Afew hundred yards south of Bonssov 
the aimUenih (South Irish) Division, 7th Corps, joined the Sixty-tkith 
Dimioir, 19th Corps. Congreve had three divisions in line : 

Ntmikf at first under H. H. Tudor, who commanded finely through 
four days of battle until Blaoklook returned from leave in England. 

TwmUy^fini^ D. G. M. Campbell 

aimtemUk, South Irish, Sir An^att Hull 

Beasrves: ThMff'fuinih Divisioir, £. Feetham; he was killed in 
aeUoo whOe visiting his troops in the front line. 

a 19th Corps, Sir H. E. Watts, K.C.B., C.M.Q. Its frontage of 
naariy 18,000 juds went southward from its union with Congreve to 
about 1600 vards south of Pontruet, across the river Omignon. Two 
divWons in line* both below strength : 

Siz^f-HsBiht Lancashire troops, NeiU Malcolm, who was wounded; 

Twrn U y-fowrfh^ A. C. Daly. 

Beserves : Fimt Cavalbt Division, B. L. MuUens, and Fifiieih (North 
En|^) Divmov, at first under Brigadier A. F. U. Stookley, B.A.* 

8. 18lh Corps, Sir F. Ivor Masse, E.C.B., C.Y.O., D.S.O. Its 
frantMe dasped upon 81 Qoentin and was 18,000 yards wide, extending 
fran ns union with Watta, near Gricourt, southward to St. Quentin- 
Vendooil road, west of Itsnoouri Three divisions in line : 

SiMy-llrti, Sir Colin Maokende ; 
7M'lwtik,W. deli. Williams; and 
TkfiH^'mmth, Ulster, O. S. W. Nugent. 
Beasrves: TwrniMtik DivmoH, W. Dou^as Smith. 
It reached the battlefield on ih» evening of March 31, detained too 
kstg by Q.H.Q. 

• A few days belore the battle, greatly to the regret of onr Firb Abmt, 
the able finmmander of this Division, Pine-Ooffin, V.C., wss rsmovad to 
anothir post bj O.BLQ. The new Commander, H. Jaolonn, D.8.O., of the 
Bedtedft, had not arrived when the Hflifdh Divuioir, early on the leoond 
dey, entsvid the baHle, almost too late. It wss nearly kept too long by 


4. h$d CV9f«i Bit B. H. K. VMm. KjCLILO, CJBL Uh baaka^ to 
Ihi. uuuUi oi HMrMt WM dOfiOO ysii^ iw i luiin i ■■■iiirtil alons 14,000 
w^i.U U> Uitt Utv«r 01m. In » «bI hmm tUi laiilMliiBi woSd have 
Ih i« ^iMk\t I bul v«ry little nbk feO bsfewBOB Janwiy 1 and Ifareh SL 
ivIh< i.Uuu iUiMi u|H IM tha imter ehnnHli mnowvi and liwwmH ahallow 
U..1 K<MUbki iK> the rlrer had mill iiiiaMiiii -?ah», Ob^tliraadiviaiona 
u .w luUutfMMlhUMOMdini^ywideaiidpflalsviiRBit: 

hi.i^iUyuik, Htf Vielor Coaper; 
fc,A{*i.iith, H. Lee; and 
/ yty . ii/Ai^A, A. 11. B. 0«lor« 

U..(i..(Vi*a. H9^ond and TAtnl GaTauv Dmnoas, Bobart Gfaenlj 
4M I \ U. \V. Uiaftuao. 









THE second battle of the Somme may be called also the 
second battle of St Quentin. It began on March 
21, 1918. Its main phases lasted throogh eight 
days, and rolled over so many sqoaare miles of land 
thai details gathered aionnd them into limitless confusion. 
Is it possible to resolve this anarchy of items into a truthful 
whole ? Perhaps this labour may be impossible, but yet it is 
one which many a writer might well attack with unstinted 

Too much detail is always a lie to those gifts of the mind 
thai reduce a chaos into harmony, map out for us the accumu- 
Utions of research, and reveal how their coUective worth may 
be brought to bear on the same object 

An immense battle has four united parts, into each of 
which details throm^ and Jostle : 

L The pre^BattU Period of Difficulties and Pr&paraiioTis, 
when incessant contests of mind and will go on between 
those who have decided to attack and those who are obliged 
to settle down on a defensive policy. The whole fighting 
mAj be determined by these pre-battle affairs ; so they should 
be summed up and weijghed with impartial carefulness. 

IL The Battle in tts Main Aepecta. — This part is beset 
with 80 m^y difficulties that no writer can hope to beat 
them alL He can do no more than offer his own epitome 
to that open and keen debate out of which, perhans, as the 
geDeratioDs pass, a complete one may come. The last word 
CD all big subjects may be left to the last man— or maybe 
the last woman. 

IIL The Battle in eame Ohoeen Indiemie amd Epiaodee. — 



Every writer will make a different selection, following his 
own bent ; but the general effect is likely to be the same, just 
as honest samples represent the mass. 

lY. The BatUe'a Aftermath, imduding CoTUrovefmea, Side 
Iseiiee, and Political Effede, — ^As often as possible controversy 
should be separated from narration; it inflames the party 
temper, and warm discussion and narrative should not be 
mingled together unless we wish to destroy the value of both. 
For all that, facts around which disputes are rife must be stated 
in their proper places, and sometimes repeated, since huge 
battles have many events that overlap from the same causes ; 
it is the disputes themselves which, as often as possible, 
should be placed among the aftermath of armed strifa 

I have used this division into four parts, and have tried 
earnestly to see the whole subject under the form of visual 
conception, in pictures dear to the mind, this being the only 
method of work that is worth while. 

Part lY. has been a very distressing one to study, and for 
two reasons. Haig was deplorably short of men. During 1917 
he had not received even the minimum levies he had asked 
for, and afterwards his increasing needs were unsupported by 
proportionate reinforcements. So he was obliged to keep his 
best divisions far too long in the line of trench routine, and 
his combatant strength nad in it far too many men who 
were imperfectly trained. These distressing facts were hidden 
from the people, and the public temper became one of over- 
confidence. Then Ludenaorff struck, and at once the British 
people passed into reaction. Over-confidence vanished, and 
slander and injustice poured over our Fifth Abmt both during 
and after its ordeal against huge odds. There are times when 
the political party temper becomes as eager to find scapegoats 
as big game hunters are to shoot lions and tigers. And in 
war too many persons like to regard truth as a mere candle, 
a smoking, feeble thing long displaced by more brilliant 
lights, and fit to be put out by Dora's extinguisher. 

Sir F. Maurice has declared that in March, 1918, Haig*s 
rifle and sabre strength — namely, the number of troops avail- 
able for duty in the trenches — was inferior bv 180,000 men 
to the power that it possessed in March, 1917, when the British 
front was much narrower. Could a graver charge than this 
be brought against a British War Cabinet ? Sir F. Maurice's 
figures will be found in his epitome of " The Last Four Months/' 
They remain unchallenged, and help to comDlete the inftirma- 
tion which Earl Haig himself has publishea in his Dispatch 


on the batile. Yet the War Cabinet, while practising un- 
faimeas to the Fifth Arht, strove to Ude the tragic need of 
more men. For three months, or thereabouts, to take an 
example, the official dispatch from Q.H.Q. was withheld from 
publication ; and when at last it appeared as a Supplement 
to the Zomiofi Oazette, October 21, 1918, some passages were 
cat» and the British people were occupied with Qermany's 
^>proaehing do¥mfall. 

When Bcap^oat-seeking was in its first freshness, a war 
eorrespondent at the front, Mr. Hamilton Fyfe, after watching 
many phases of the retreat, wanted to tell in print what he 
knew to be true. He tried, and was forbidden. Authority 
would not let him.* 

'* It was not thought desirable then to show up the f alse- 
neaa of the view taken by many English reviews and news- 
papen, that upon the Fifth Abht ky the responsibility for 
the lo68 of so much ground to the enemy ; that this Army was 
badly handled and therefore unable to put up a stout resist- 
ance ; and that it ' let down ' the Third Army, which, but for 
the eoUapse of the Fifth, would have been able to hold its 
ground* This view in my opinion is grotesquely at odds with 
the truth. . . /' t 

It was indeed ; and a slander grotesquely un&ir to Gough 
and his men was unfair also to Bvng and his troops, against 
whom a reaction would set in when suppressed facts found 
their way at last into print. Who can explain why two 
British armies were not kept on the same level towards the 
natioD's patriotism and truthfulness ? To slander the Fifth 
Armt, while magnifying hugely what the Third had achieved, 
18^ one of those foliies wbidi are worse than crimes. Both 
did their beet in the most fateful battle of the whole war ; 
together they spoilt LudendorfTs ample strategy, as Ludendorff 
himself admits ; but we owe much greater gratitude to the 
FtTTH Armt, because the odds against it everywhere on March 
21 certainly exceeded three to one, while Byng along his 
narrower front had seventeen divisions with which to oppose 
twenty-four. On the rights along a stretch of 80,000 yards, 
Qoogh had an average of only one bayonet to the yard, while 
the German average was four; and the odds against his right 
were as high in guns, machine gons, and mortus. 

On the first&y,it is true, Byng was attacked on only two 
portions of his firont: directly and formidably from Sena^ 

* In this ctM, I regrat to My, suthority ww G.H.Q. 
t GoMfiiNfiorofY BtfVMV, Jsnoftry, 1919. 


River down to the Bapaume-Cambrai road ; . indirectly » but 
menacingly, across Flesqui^res salient Along this total 
frontage the foe had fourteen divisions in line, including one 
just north of the river, and nine in support, while Byng had 
eight in line and seven in support ; but during the first day's 

5:rapple Byng reinforced his fighting line with three divisions 
rom his reserves. 


Troubles caused by injustice are not the only painful 
difficulties that students of this battle have to encounter. 
Among other troubles there is the profusion of names, military 
and geographical, by which most readers of the war's battles 
are irritoted. Very often they give a sort of dropsy to a 
printed page. Can anything be done to set limits to this 
annoyance ? Now and then a name can be deleted without 
harm to history ; but there are no means of saving readers 
from close attention. Maps must be studied if a battle is to 
be seen by the mind; and many corps, divisions, brigades, 
battalions, must be named, with many villages, towns, rivers, 
and other essential elements in a battle. Personal names can 
be shortened in one way only — ^by omitting title& If we 
speak bluntly of Haig, as we do of Nelson and Wellington, 
we are briefly admirative, not curtly rude. In this book, then, 
titles will be given only here and there ; and some other 
brevity can be cot by linking leaders with their positions. 
The surname Ludendorff) for example, applies not only to the 
General himself but also to the German Higher Command, 
just as the surname Haig sums up the whole policy of his 
O.H.Q. Similarly, the surnames Oough and Bjmg mean the 
British Fifth and Third Armies, just as Otto von Below, 
briefly Below, represents the Seventeenth German Arbcy, 
and Oskar von Hutier, briefly Hutier, the Eighteenth 
German Army. Or suppose we say that Maxse, CoMreve, and 
Watts are hard pressed along their battle fronts. Surely this 
phrasing is briefer and better than to say : " The 18th, 7th, 
and 19th Corps are hard pressed along theiribattle fronts, under 
command respectively of Lieut-Generals Sir F. Ivor Maxse, 
K.O.B., C.V.O., D.S.O., Sir W. N. Congreve,V.C.,K.C.B.,M.V.O., 
and Sir H. E, Watts, KO.B., C.M.G." When official dispatches 
are written with this excessive courtesy the movement of 
battle stories cannot be rapid ; it is impeded by high and 
higher titles. 


Then there is the word Divinon, whieh appears far more 
oAen in military writing than is good for narration. Some- 
tunes it cannot be deleted, but often it can, happily, and in 
tiwo ways : 

1. When a ntumeral begiita with a capital letter and is 
printed in italica,it7nean8ihatii is the n/wniber of a Division^ 
Ofnd that the word** division" isomitted. Example : '' Aftera 
ni^ht journey with a march of seven miles through fog, the 
Vxflidk came up, bringing necessary help to the Tv^nty-fov/rth 
and Sixty-sixth.** 

2. The names of Divisional Commanders can be used to 
den<iie their commands. Examples : Stockley represents the 
Fiftieth, Daly the Twenty-foiurth, and Neill Malcolm the 

So it is necessary to show Qough's order of battle, with its 
eorps, divisions, and principal offlcer& For this reason, vn the 
Table of Contents, after the List of Maps, I have shown the 
fowr corps on their fronts. If readers will consult this 
Order of Battle when a new surname is mentioned in the 
text, they will help greatly in the hard task of simplifying a 
sdentific battle teemmg with difficulties. 


It is a belief amonff many persons that the only writers 
who should treat of the War are those who witnessed the 
battles with their own eyes. For two reasons this belief 
might well be put aside. First, if the War is to be 
remembered by a whole nation as Uie most painful and useful 
in history, its ups and downs ot awful way ward- 
should take hold of and shake scores and scores of lay 
anthors, as in past times British battles put a spell over 
Sonth^y^ Carlyle» Macaulay, Einglake, and a great many other 
authors, major and minor. There are laymen who, like 
myself, would sooner read good books on great battles than 
most novels- 
Military writing addressed to professional soldiers may be 
limited to the technical anatomy of war ; but other military 
writing must pay honour to tiiat very important democrat 
who is forgotten hy most specialists — ^the general reader who 
does genendly read, as often as not in odd half-hours after 
his day^s work. Besides, few real soldiers are dry-as-dusts. 
Welliiutoi was as charmed as were schoolboys by chapter 
nv. of Charles (yMaUey^ where Lever relates the battle on th 3 


Douro» in a style not often equalled by military writing. 
The Great Duke wondered how Lever knew certain facts that 
he tells. Let many try to emulate this right passion for great 
deeds that Lever here reveals ! 

Next, anyone who fights inside the swirl and fever of a 
modem battle sees only the small span of ground over which 
he advances or retreats ; and frequently he misjudges events on 
his flank only a few hundreds of jasds off. Indeed, only a 
soldier here and there admits that his battalion was compelled 
to fall back ; most soldiers complain that their flank was left 
in the air by a neighbouring umt, whose troops have precisely 
the same tale to telL At &st I was worried by this general 

Only from ofiicers who are not always inside the fever of 
a battle — only from commanders over brigades, divisions, and 
corps, and armies — do we get more or less in focus extending 
views of large and larger fronts. The lesser Generals sift and 
collect evidence for the Army Commander, who alone knows 
what is passing all along his front ; knows all this roughly, 
since events may chancre all at once : and here and there in 
widespread fighting, a glp of sUence iiritates the Commandet's 
mind, for it adds jesses to that dread uncertainty which 
rules over aU armed strife till a battle ends. 

An Army Commander, then, is a mincJ-witness, not an 
^2/6- witness ; a new sort of historian who receives reports 
from expert sifters, and whose intellect must have vision as 
well as coolness and candour. Soldiers inside a great battle 
are like persons in a sand storm, while the vision of an Army 
Commander is like a^spectator who from a favourable distance 
sees a grand stretch of groyne-protected shore and a storm 
tide flooding or ebbing. 

As for lay students of the War's immensity, they should 
practise the craft of map-drawing. More than anything else in 
the study of war it compels the mind to keep at close quarters 
with very troublesome points and problems. For this reason 
I have given more than twelve weeks to map-drawing alone ; 
and soon I began to feel that modem trench warfare has a 
certain kindredship with fundamental problems of architecture 
and engineering; problems of jolts, thrusts, repercussions, 
recoils ; of action and reaction, and poise and equipoisa 

To overwhelm equipoise on Gbugh's wide front was the 
nut which Ludendorff wanted to crack, aided by lessons 
gathered from past failures in attack, both German and 
Allied. To keep a sort of devious or vagrant stability, after 


▼ui odds had crumbled a very thin defence, was the duty 
▼hidi Gongh and his officers and men had to fulfil, and just 
managed to fulfil, in spite of indescribable sufferings. As Sir 
F. Maurice says, ''our men showed coolness, courage, deter- 
mination, and endurance in adversity which pass all under- 
standing and are beyond all praise, but they should never, 
and need never have been called upon for such sacrifices as 
they made without stint and without complaint.'' * 

Since August, 1918, this battle has occupied my days, very 
often till midnight ; authentic materials of many sorts have 
turned me into their pupil ; and I hope never to forget their 
best lessons — ^lessons of gratitude, and also of reverence. Once 
more, in this grapple against enormous odds, British states- 
manship asked P^vidence to let our country perish; and 
onee more this request was nearly granted. Aa Clemenceau 
has stated, '* we were playing a hand on which hung the fate 
of the Fatherland." 

^ ««Th« IiMt Foot Monthe," p. 64. 




AT the dose of 1917 a Tommy said of the Fifth Armt : 
/ Y " ^t's always bein' moved abart to tackle nasty jobs/' 
2^ \ but nasty jobs by dozens came to all troops after 
deep dugouts and elaborate trench S3r8tems were in- 
troduced by German caution and thoroughness. Gk>ugh and 
his oflScers and men may have had more than a fair share of 
the nastiest jobs, though their ordeal in the horrific Tpres 
salient seems to have been less abominable than was that of 
Plumer's troops when they plodded through mud and blood 
and captured Passchendaele. 

After the Ypres salient campaign had ended, the Fifth 
Abmt rested for a brief time in General Reserve. Then, on 
December 18, 1917, it was put on a new front, replacing 
a portion of Byng's forces on a twelve-mile line from a point 
about half a mile north of Gouzeaucourt to the Omignon River. 
The 7lh Corps came under its command, and the Cavalry 
Corps also. 

I^early a month later, between Januarv 10 and 12, 1918, 
a one-corps front was taken over by Gough from the French 
Third Armt ; it ran southward from the Omignon to a point 
south-east of St. Quentin and north-east of Urvillers. And 
one more change was to come, between January 26 and 
February 3, when the French Third Armt was relieved on 
another one-corps front as far south as Barisis, a village south 
of the Oise between two forests, Coucy and St Gobain.* 

Much controversy has eddied around this transfer of land 
from French to British troopB,t but at present we pass away 
from it in order to keep at close quarters with the main 
sequence of events. From February 3, 1918, Gough had 

* Pray keep these dates before your mind; their bearing on the pre* 
paration work to be done is very important, 
t Part I., p. 26, and Part lY., p. SOO. 



forty-two miles of front to safeguard across the heart » of 
IVanoe, and the work to be done was enormous. Every mile 
had to be remodelled and combined in accordance with a series 
of rules issued by Q.H.Q. on December 14, 1917. When 
eompaied with these rules, even the land taken over from 
Bynff was unfit for the most recent phases of defence ; and as 
for the French fronts, they had a forward area well dug and 
ruf plied with shelters; but the main battle positions had 
nouing but a belt of wire, and neither roads nor railways were 
yei good enough for the lessons which had been learnt from 
recent bitter experience. 

Only a cable here and there had been buried below the 
reach of shells, and no area of defence was organized in depth. 
Stretches of the front had been ravaged by a German retreat 
in the spring of 1917,* and along the Oise and Somme sectors, 
dry weather was having a very bad effect, drying marshes, 
nanowing water channels, and making rivers ^ttdually ford- 
able between the usual points of passage. So new problems 
of defence were thrust by unusual dry weather on Haig 
and Gough, problems too extensive to be solved in about 
■even weeks, but not too extensive to be considered in this 
book from several standpoints. 

B(UUe Zone, — ^Planned for defence to a great depth, varying 
from 2000 to 3000 yards, with good successive lines carefully 
aied and combined* Diagonal switch trenches gave support 
to strong points and wired strategical places. It was hoped 
that they would stop the foe frt>m spreading outwards and 
reeling up our position, if he managed to penetnite at dangerous 
spots in our defences.t The m<^ important localities were 
always garrisoned. Plans and preparations for the best use 
of troops both in defensive battle and in counter-attack were 
worked out with skilly partly for the service of those men 
who were chosen to guard the various sectors, and parti v for 
the proper handling of reinforcements arriving from elsewhere. 

Fcrwa/rd Zone. — Its defensive scheme was ordered also 
in deptii, and, of course, its garrison was always on guard 
against surprise, to break up the foe's attacks, and to 
fbrae him to waste large quantities of ammunition and to 

* The grwt *' Alberioh Morement,'^ between Ama and Soiaaons, hy whioh 
Ladendorfl withdrew hia troopa to ue Siegfried Line, and pnt ont of joint 
tbe AlUed plana of oombined attack. Thia retreat began on March 16, and 
«M eaoled throosh without a bceak in a few Ug atagea. 

t The facanoh trenohea caUed awitchea, forming protective flanka to pat the 
ioe Into pooketa II he geta throogh at dangerona pointa, turn atretohea of 
eooDtry mto blind alleya, ao to apeak. 


bleed an increasing number of bis brigades. The backbone of 
defence in this zone was a combination of wire entanglements 
with machine guns very well hidden in dugouts. 

Becur Zone. — ^Ludendorff struck when the rear lines were 
very imperfect, ranging in depth from a foot to thirty-six 
inches. A foot deep seems to have been about the average in 
most places. These lines were placed from four to eight miles 
behind the battle zone, and G.H.Q. did all that could be done 
in a few weeks, always in conjunction with our armies, to 
choose the best positions, and to spit-lock their projected 
defences. They formed very good nalting places for stem 
rearguard actions, but not for a decisive stand by weak 
numbers against superior forces constantly renewed. Yet 
they were valued greatly, even far too much, by G.H.Q., as 
the official dispatch proves. 

The whole defensive scheme, very ample and cautious, 
was copied from German principles and precedents; and if 
Ludendorff had not struck Wore it was brought to completion, 
G.H.Q. and its armies would have had reason to be surprised 
and very glad. The work to be done being enormous, priority 
had to be given as follows to certain essentials : — 

1. Wire. 

2. Shell-proof accommodation, including machine-gun 
emplacements, observation posts, and battle headquarters. 

3. Communications, including roads, tracks, railways, and 
communication trenches. 

4. Earthworks. 

On March 21, the battle zone in most sectors was finished — 
that is to say, a decisive grapple could have been fought in it 
by a defence reasonably manned. Its weaker parts, as a rule, 
were those taken over from the French. Had there been 
time. Watts would have added further strength to his battle 
zone ; and this applies also to Butler's 80,000 yards of front. 
For the rest^ the battle zone lay at varying distances behind the 
outpost area, sometimes touching it, and within 1500 yards of 
forward sentry posts, as on Gough's extreme left. Sometimes, 
as in Maxse's Corps, a stretch of imf ortified country, in places 
2000 yards wide or more, connected the outpost zone with our 
battle zone, and gave natural cover for manoeuvring. 

I have drawn a detailed map of Maxse's Corps, which 
faced St. Quentin, and have shown which battalions defended 
the zones, and which German divisions assailed them. The 
grapple was one of thin British brigades against German 
divisions at full battle strength. 


As for the lightly-held outpost screen oovering our main 
positionSy it bad many excellent redoubts or strongj^MtSy which 
were held to the last with the utmost courage, as we shall see. 
Into his forward or outpost zone, Gough put a third part of 
his men, reserving two-thirds for his battle zone. Or, counting 
reserve troops, the proportion was two-ninths in the outpost 
area and seven-ninths m the battle zone. Each defensive belt 
or zone had a front linci with a support line 300 yards behind ; 
next, a certain number of strongpomts or redoubts ; and last, 
a reserve line. Trenches were not continuous in the outpost 
screen, where men in detached groups had to attack the foe 
with a criss-cross of machine-gun fire ; while in the battle 
2one and rear defence continuous lines were used as often as 

Here and there men were employed in sections, in ^ blobs," 
as by our Eighteenth. * Military opinion was moving away 
from continuous lines, with communication trenches — obvious 
and steady tar^ts for artillery fire. Australians and New 
Zealanders liked to place their men in " blobs," well dug in 
and supporting one another by machine-gun barrage ; and it 
was found that men placed underground in disport " slits " 
suffered fewer casualties than men in trenches. A ''slit" 
was two feet broad, six feet long, and six feet deep : just room 
enough for two men. At one end was a step on which the 
men stood to fire. When slits were dug in ploughed land, they 
were very hard to see, and only direct nits made them unsafe. 

StiU, an Australian said to me, ** Oh yes, one felt all right 
ui a slit till a flight of Hun planes flew low overhead ; and 
then, somehow, a slit seemed to be a good acre square — and 
certain to be bombed in." 

When defences are formed into deep systems, and when 
they have to be manned by young troops rapidly trained, it 
seems a hazardous venture to use min and scattered garrisons, 
as human impulses are never so gregarious as in times of peril, 
and too much nerve strain should not be thrust on very brave 
boy troops who were recently civilians. One extensive 
ledoubt, for example, held by a tiny force, had a dozen 
scattered posts, and from six or seven the lads fdl back through 
sheer loneliness, when an attack followed hard upon the 
German creeping barrage. They came .together, forming a 
company; then they were as cool as a bMrd meeting, and 
held their foee at bay in a very fine spirit. 

* A nvm&nX bigfamiiig wilb » ospiM and ptiated in iteliot mMni th« 
Bonber of ft divUcni. 

!-l THE SUfTTH iBSlY IN MABCH, 1918 

Xow MM tlMB G^.ij. sfiv«s ate tike impnasion that its 
uiiHMW tvw«nift ytxMitAiiiMHS wis too barwncntic ; thai it 
«te-iMMur attvl 'u«hiuBaaUbaaw«ieWdliiigt(xi and Napoleon 

^ibou iMki^ h«i w tw s**t to do the work of Teteraiu. Its 
>wubM^ Ml IficwtNiuy ot' Force maHy impl^ that British 
.utuK-« tu t^tU*^ b<ki nw«ivt»d tite eomiUete tramin? described 
.H Nik^vu ttE» uocoMsary to tiw odoeatioii of a British soldier^ 
»' uwu:it,£ >>t' &h»o tdttm years. Thon^ Q-H-Q. knew that 
uvo ^'^Mu Akmy was vsry weak in nambera, and also 
•,\MM(K>w.\t v>X' vvubhM tioo{M, ceoentlj oiTiliaos, it issued these 

> ^ !■•«>««# 1^' IfltriM. — Eeonomy of troops must be studied in 
iMvMu i^i^ (Kwi^^*'''* *^ allotting troops to defences, in order 
vhsku khtt -.uvu^th vt reserves. Both tactical and strategical, 
uhA« bi» ast j(>sMbl aa possible. At the same time, dejemcea 
.*tv>.{,.nU ii> 4«v>ttr« vu««aU« taaticai featwrea must be con- 
ML^.-w^^'i iamU vuiopMtdy garrUoned. The stronger and 
tK^i.v4 \iWvi the d«>b>ooes w«> and the more impassable the 
v>:>M«Ms>^<.«v fctttf tewer wen will be required to hold them, and 
vv<M.<vvt"'.'^t^,v the laKer the reserves to be held in hand. As 
bit.' vvv>^^ <,>u (htfM Jefenoes progresses it should be possible 
;^^l^l.k'U' W vvduee the numbers allotted to the defence oi 
^1^ ki<iik\Mvl «v>u«> aud thus inoreaae the nombers available 

*, i\\.^'*V*»«, ' i_ . .„ 

i'itu-> ^> tMUU ivserves irom a grave weaKness in nne 

,nv'iVi*'* •'*>'*^v wvewtretohed aoroas forty-two miles of vital 

UvVMit ut «u aJvvuture which I am unable to understand, 

' -^:- ^ ^( uutllar risks in bridge building. No 

V ] " We oan't afford more material and 

[t varry our bridge safely haUway across this 

iV(U\ fJever mind. We'll take risks. By 

i lighter than it ought to be we'll reach the 

\, atul perhaps luck won't be too deviHsh 

ktiWM aoi'tiiui during a gale." ^Still, O.H.Q. 

vM with risks its insufficient man-power ; 

<Mt the beat way is another question, over 

M\wi fait to debate keenly. 

I«>|>lli," uya an Enelish Colonel, "means 

WvH-~» wv^N" ■«*»«■«» and greater difficulty in keepiog up 

y,^««nwi\>**iv»t*." V*""" no doubt; and a dire fact in the battle 

,li ,v.t>4 i«utk|)tv4' W'iUuiiuu hitherto unnoticed by writers; 

w 11". U . ^*w* tt'V ttu'Wtuxi ■ooea, and a battle area well placed 

I 'mvvA vM^t^ u«it)lt^ \\»-\^ l>ee& much better than the three 

\ V >N'kts<> ^litwK by, as on several occasiona the 


batUe sone of one division was outflanked by the foe's rapid 
advance b^ond the single forward zone of a neighbouring 
division. On the first day this happened both norUi and 
south of Maxse's Corps, whose positions were uncommonly 

Ludendorff learnt from events to fear a single forward zonoy 
as men retreating from it after a bad grapple Drought disorder 
wiUi them into the main blEtttle area. But the Fifth Army's 
forward defence was accepted by^ every one as a great position 
ot trust where all must fight as in forlorn hopes. Only a few 
men returned from it, and these few, almost without 
exceptions, returned honourably, under orders, after many a 
noble combat like those which are told in this book, Chapter 
L, Part II. 


In several maps I have shown portions of the defensive 
aystemsy sometimes with their battauons, but as my drawings 
would have to be reduced by a block-maker to a1x)ut a thini 
of their size, I could not give the trenches in elaborate ground 

Thouffh the finished work in these zones was all that could 

be brought to completion, many complaints have be^i printed. 

According to some ideal critics, wonderful trenches were due 

bat not held ; according to others, no trenches could be held 

because none had been made ; and on August 7, 1918, Mr. 

lioyd George told the House of Commons that '' Practically 

the whole British front was new ground which had been 

won from the enemy where there had been no time to set up 

defences^ and these tired troops, instead of enjoying rest, or 

instead of having time for training, had to niake aefence&'' 

The exaggeration in this quotation is evident. There is no 

reference to the huge labour squads, or to the vast amount of 

work which was done with the utmost care. And why did 

the Prime Minister speak of our tired troops without deploring 

the main cause of their fatigue— -that bUmg off in the supply 

of enough men for which nis Qovemment was responsible ? 

Ha said that *^ Our troops were tired by a prolonged offensive, 

by the most exhausting conditions under which any troops 

ever fought." Why, then, were they not reinforced adequately 

and in tune for Ludendorff's offensive ? 

Here, too, is another criticism. It is written by a war 
correspondent who witnessed for himself many phases of the 


reireati after seeing beforehand the positions in which our 
troops awaited the attack, and the preparations made in the 
rear of those positions for defensive action in the event of the 
front lines bemg overran :— 

" My own opinion is that the positions prepared for the 
troops to fall back upon, one after another, in the event of 
their being hard pressed, might have been more effectively 
wired. But this criticism applies with equal force to the 
Thibd Armt front. ... I have a note in my diary of a 
conversation I had with Qough as early as January 30. He 
said then : ' The Germans might very Ukely attack his army 
front, and would probably gain some ground if they did. The 
beet line of defence would be the line of the Somme. Until 
they got across that there would be no tragedy. It might be 
a tragedy if they did I ' This view had been discussed with 
Q.H.Q., and G.H.Q. knew the strength of the Somme and other 
defences quite as well as Gough. Yet very little was done to 
improve our positions anywhere. I recollect thinking, some 
weeks after tne enemy had been brought to a standstill before 
Amiens, when trenches were being dug and wired in every 
direction and to a great depth even behind Amiens, that if 
the British Army had done half this amount of work before 
the 21st of MaiHch, there would have been no retreat • . . 
BritiBh Q.H.Q. knew, thanks to the activity of the Intelligence 
Department under General Cox (whose accidental death 
deprived the Army of a painstaking and vij^rous o£5cerJ 
where the blow would falL Most Generals of Division refused 
to believe that there would be any blow. A fortnight before 
the offensive opened I heard from the Staff of one of the Fifth 
Aricy divisions that they could not see why G.H.Q. had 
warned them to be prepared. * But neither at Fifth Army 
Headquarters nor at Montreuil did any illusion prevail Since 
he knew that the Fifth Army would be attacked with vast 
numbers, and knew also its weakness, Haig must be blamed 
no less than Gough if the preparations were inadequate." — 
HEunilton Fyfe, Contemporary Review, January, 1919. 

These views from an article otherwise right in aim are 
misleading for several reasons. First of all, they produce a 
false impression, though their writer hates injustice and wants 
to be entirely true. When writing about modernized war, 
with its enormous complexity and its millions and millions of 

* Serenl divfiioiial oomsiMiders, wiildag to rati and train thair men, 
oompUunsd to Oaneral Googh against tba inoiiiant dateoa Ubonr ; but th^ 
wara told, of oouna, to drlta on and on frith dafaniWe piapibTation. 


detaehed facts, correct impression is all-important ; the 
complexity and innumerable facts cannot be given, and if 
they conld be, most civilian readers would fail to understand 
them. Even Haig's dispatch is too difficult for most lay 
readers, who find it a mere confusion for a lecturer to explain 
with much aid from lantern slides and large G.H.Q. maps. 
Now correct impression depends partly on a right suppression 
of most minor items, and partly on what may be called an 
axiomatic epitome of major facts. Hence it is absurd to 
dwell on those rear defences which could not be finished 
unless other systems of defence nearer the coming attack were 
neglected. Maxse was satisfied with his forward and battle 
positions, which were excellent ; Congreve regarded his own 
unes as the best he had seen in France ; and Butler and Watts 
did all that could be achieved in the time. 

On Gongh's front, the Labour Commandant, in thirteen 
weeks — December 22 to March 16 — found that his men 
increased from 26,567 to 67,967, these last figures including 
12,255 Italians, 5185 Chinese, 10,272 prisoners of war, 4446 
Indians, and 35,809 British — a Labour League of Nations. 
These men had a day's rest in the week, not all at the same 
time, of course, but in daily batches of fifteen per cent ; and 
men were needed every day for area employments, escorts for 
priscmers of war. Labour Group Staff, and some were sick ; 
tmt, after all these deductions were made, the Tnen daily at 
work increased in thirteen iveeks from 13,468 to 40,212, 
though Haig had 125 miles of front all threatened by German 
preparations, and thus all in need of Labour Commandants 
and their enterprise. . . . Uaig himself says that there was 
not labour enough for all his pressing needs. 

General Smuts visited the British front — ^in February, I 
think — ^to inspect defences for the War Cabinet ; he reported 
that FifTH Armt work, well ordered and organized, was 
being pushed on with energy ; and here and there in this 
book we shall see how alert and wide awake were the 
preparations. A very great strain had to be borne by the 
Si^ud Service, for example, and also by the Administrative 
StaflEs, who, while supplying the retreat with food and 
ammunition, had more than 60,000 non-combatants and 
Labour Units to carry away to safety, with huge masses of 
stores, and I^iW numbers of agricultural implements. More 
than 250 bri<^;es had to be prepared for destruction, as an 
army which settles down on a defensive policy must have all 
things ready to frustrate the foe's efforts to aavance. 


"^^ ?!FHE ,aaLT :y xabch;. ins 

ii ii^ tt) Ml &r too HHdi stole by 
a» ttsandk syotoH^ jost as our 
too mn^of saMMiir,till at last 
u»0> vMiiu *tei*4dir :ai»vi» ivttii tiaao nor get «p wxthoat help if 

-^x'^<sc^ ^ ^ I iiMij i» t3u 315 ^mw» mco Bok of a sort either to 
^ o*2»^nBH««& ,'r A,* ^^ittw ^^or oMft to lean on them overmach. 
.Htonr .»4«:i«o^vMuiu ^M« 1mv«» hoeaiDade in a scamper against 
^ 4 iM «.^ >«K «.% . .«tta !»oe$4 v/t o«tr SMBt * had worked so hard 
tirkrt* tt«Mft i2Kkh :jjm'« x:t*«r by hsart the material agencies 
%.»v.»t %vuAvk K*^^ .a«iia :i)£ira^ ^ worst days. They could 
w«^^mi^ a]NMiiM«vi)t)L: ^ Tbaee places won't give Fritz a 
.^ .aKmh ^Notu ^v : ^ If we stick it all rights these 
>Ukmav; w^;.» ta^ to vio dhs trick.** And this mood is 
>^ t»» >nit4i .Wto Jor jcnas resifttance, 

V v>^>wMiJWM<^ ^itta toamr of Napoleon dwells upon the 

i^>^ ^■ %mk; KV ^iB W ai;^ l«»ii8$ott «bi«t scood troops ought always to 

<v^ *Na«t^v^M. :^N«.*«%^ to tihiir &sU works; beoiuse they are 

>^^« V s^^ ;i»; >%«^«itt ^ih^ pu|V sicoiid fiddle to the protection 

,«^M^ v^^ Ttt^tittKa^i ^u^ctk ni# Chevalier du Teil, who in 

^^ N^v"^ >«k4 «i y.vQ^v«»ttft #Mgr on artilleiT, and who was 

%.\ %*'. ^^% N«.eK>H -It 4^^ Y^ttMtt^ in which Napoleon was to 

S \ N>i^%\M^«^ vMv ua^ tMOU w\Mr^s the danger of depending 

^v ^v^vA >^ >£v^c>^>n: '^^ U ic^ admitted by instructed and 

-\sx.v^vv. s^(Kn^-v ^)^ ^Y Uiei^«ce baaed solely upon en- 

4s^.n*jkn» i*v^; N\»«<. ^ ;ik>!«^uto«^ toirtrary to all grand views 

N ^>N A %^v v«v« >^^>a ^K«te<tb;<ij^ 0^*^ iW art of war, and in short 

hV^ «v.v 1KVV4KV Vd^ W^v4r WD^ thai d the great generals." 

^ %>x .s v^'*^*^ ^>>M^ t^M ^^ iMor triMich on Qough's over- 
vuvNV^Vv r\A«>f \MKi % A,\^ iNm tNittMl our men to feel too 
x^>A vKv ^.«%vv v^t^^ j^iit^ ^v:^ v>f f^\\>Metve &tigue 1^^ 
V ' vsx X . ^..ys^ ;M^^ 4^vt^ ^^<aii»# «» Kaid as to hold off the 
% >^^x^v %.xx. ^ s^^s v^ ^MV ^^K!i» vMT muKi w^MiM have sent our 
vnv« ^ v>v>»^ w ^^v"^ ^w«mm^ TIm^ ^Hnme was onlv about 
v^x^ ^\n a\\\ .%«n» %t^i}^^^v>i K^^wtt^ bridges made path- 

• ; %>*N % VvV V N*^- ^*^ 1^ ^ fiwr nwre dependent on 
*Vo . >^^ xo\\^ ^%^ >^ ^iMMimak J t nAoco x it was also a help 


to them that they were tied loosely, not tightly, as our foes 
were» to the machine named scientific warfare. The German, 
keen and enterprising while his routine keeps in gear, is apt 
to lose edge when his leaders' plans get entangled ; and many 
Qerman mvisions cannot be crowded together in an assault 
without causiiig at last much confusion. Bri^rades of different 
divisions get jumbled together, and break-tnrough becomes 
necessary to give the mass freedom of movement and deploying 

To make second-rate compromise serve our turn is one of 
our national whims, or habits ; and in adversity it is a great 
friend to our troopa The Fifth Abicy was obliged to make 
ahift^ for its men nad had no experience in the art of retreat- 
ing; unlike their Commander, who served his country during 
the retreat from Mons, as well as in the first battle of Ypres. 

Do civilians know what retreating means ? Not many, 
and it is a nut to crack how to make dear in words the worst 
peril — namely, that gaps form inevitably unless enough re- 
inforcements are at nand along the whole line. When a 
oalient is formed by the act of uimstinff inwards some miles 
of battle-firont, the line around the swent is plainly much 
longer than the salient's width at its base ; and thus an army 
in retreat, if it forms a salient, extends its lines ever more and 
more, while casualties make it ever more unfit to resist attack 
from greatly superior number& Tet a fine retreat must go on 
bending without breaking. It must not halt long enough to 
be overwhelmed by num^ra Can we compare it to stretched 
elastic which grows weaker as it grows longer ? Tes ; but 
not to a eingU piece of elastic, beciBiuse a retreat is made in 
many stretcMng pieces called battalions, brigades, divisions, 
and corps. Each of these units is a piece of humanized 
elastie, likely to be broken by excessive stretching to fill gaps. 
Later we shall see that Qough had few reserves, and that nis 
I08M8 on the first and second days were very severa So the 
stretching; was always far too much to be safe ; and the foe 
made this danger more perilous by attacking the points at 
whidi divisions and corps and armies were joined together. 
Tet our young troops, recently civilians, though handicapped 
also by a lack of pre-battle training (as Haig has pointed out), 
were not swallowed up by a veritoble cyclone of scientific 
warfara In spite of mistakes, they made shift so well that 
we dvilians onght to be very grateful and very humbla 

Take deven wooden matches to represent the divisions in 
linci and three others to denote the reserve in£uitryi adding a 


match cut into three equal parts for the cavaby.* Draw a 
long line on a sheet of paper, and put the eleven matches upon 
it close together. And now begin to rehearse the reti^t, 
forming a salient that grows deeper and deeper. Yery soon 
you wm understand aU about natural gaps, and the need of 
many reserves, even if no casualties enfeeble the divisions. 

Let me ask you to take up these matters into your under- 
standing. Tnr to think of them till you see them as pictures ; 
then you will follow the retreat with awe, and with other 
heart-searching emotions. Perhaps you will come to the 
humbled opinion that most men of our race need either 
military or naval discipline to make them effectual as friends 
to their native land, partly because their general outlook is 
too insular for their world-wide Empire, and partly because 
their civilian dislike of discipUne runs into fads and senti- 
mental illusiona As a people we need what we hate — 
discipline, with its unity of action. 

Side by side with all these important matters, which help 
to give a massed impression of the influences at work in war, 
let me ask you to feel the growling of airplanes that practise 
for the coming battle, and that go forth after dark, whenever 
a ground mist does not prevent them, in order to spy on the 
foe's night movements. Many times before thcj battle began 
they flew low during the evening over hostile defences and 
dropped flares; but they could not see German troops and 
guns in the act of being moved up with all possible stealth, 
nor could they hear the German soldier songs which night 
discipline could not stop. These songs troubled Ludendorff, 
whose anxiety caused nim to expect more stealth from his 
men than hundreds of thousands were able to give in their 
crowd-moods. What a picture it is — Ludendorfi' in his Head- 
quarters biting his nails because troops passiag by night 
through villages towards the battle front break suddenly into 
song, while overhead British airplanes drop flares ! 

Careful plans were drawn up for launching the Fifth 
Arht airplanes on a given signal to counter-attack the foe's 
infimtry, and batteries, and roads, and bridges. Every target 
was mapped in the plans, then studied carenilly by those who 
were chosen to assail it with bombs. Never before had this 
method of employing air flights been used on anything like 
such a grand scale, nor organized with so much skill and 
completeness. Later it was copied by other British armies. 

* The three divisions of cavalry in our Futh Abky equalled in man* 
power the average rifle strength of an infantry diviiion. 


Ladendorff and his Generals were equally active with their 
mirplaneB. and with results which came as a surprise to 
many British soldiers ; but not to Gough^ who never under- 
vmlned the foe's initiative and perseverance. The airmanship 
on both sides during the battle was as keen and ffood as are 
first-rate football teams in a cup tie — strained to uxe utmost, 
intrepid, full of resource and cunning. In some points, as in 
oontiu^ patrols, the German airplanes had an advantage over 
our own, according to Fifth Abmy officers. They discovered 
our new fronts swiftly, with the result that heavy guns were 
soon in action against our new positions. German infantry 
liirhted flares as soon as they were asked to do so by their 
i£-eooat8. Briefly, the Ge Jan training in these thiii^ was 
excellent. Ludendorff speaks of this training (vol. ii., p. 677) : 

''In order to provide aircraft support for the infantry, 
special battle aeroplane flights were formed. As had hitherto 
been done by individual airmen, they dived down from great 
heights and flew along at a low level, attacking with madiine 
guns and light bombs the infantry lines, the artiUery, and, as 
the practice extended, the enemy's reserves and transport 
columns, as well as columns of troops coming up from farther 
in the rear. 

^Originally intended to be an 'auxiliary' arm to the 
infiuitry, these battle-flights were finally given important 
tactical tasks. Thus the air force gained a new fleld of activity 
of the greatest importance. Airmen, in the course of their 
duties, were not only reconnaissance troops who had to fight ; 
they were not only bomb-carriers for destructive work far in 
Uie foe's rear, but they had also, like infantry, artiUery, and 
all other arms, to take part in the fighting on the ^und. 
like the other combatant forces, they were a destructive arm 
in the great battle on land. This, indeed, became their main 
object, and the aerial combat was only a means of attain- 

Who can explain why newspaper propagandists told the 
British people that German airmen in March, 1918, were 
bunglers ? One writer said : 

" The Germans intended to overwhelm us when the great 
attack began, at which moment Richtho&n and all the 
circuses of the air duly made their number. But meanwhile 
our men had so established their ascendancy over the in- 
suflBdently tnuned young entry of the enemy that not even 
the appearance of the German stars could alter matters. The 
enemy had at least 1000 aeroplanes on the scene when the 


attack began, but their training was inadequate, while ours 
was better than ever, and though the fighting has been as 
usual mainly over the German lines, all the advantage has 
been with our men.'' 

This propaganda, being far and away too excessive, was as 
harmful as the zeal with which British pressmen throughout 
the war magnified hugely the German casualties till nothing 
said by newspapers on the foe's losses was believed^ except by 
those who preferred any sort of over-sanguine fudge to an 
unpleasant fact To belittle a foe's training and courage is a 
stupid act if you wish to do justice to your own men. The 
writer from whom I have just quoted must have known that 
he had gone much too far, because he ended his remarks by 
throwing a chill on any over-confidence which his falsely 
triumphant picture might produce in simple readers : 

'' At the same time it must be said that in a great action 
of this ultra-modem stamp we see the Air Force in better 
perspective, and realize that, good and valuable though it be, 
it does not alter the general course of events. To arrest 
a great attack, as we now see, our airmen must number 
thousands instead of hundreds, and the old Nelsonian maxim 
that numbers alone annihilate is shown to be as applicable to 
the air as it is to the land and the sea." 

In a quotation from Ludendorflf (p. 21) we have seen 
what German airmen were trained and expected to do, 
and those over the Fifth Abmt's front were thoroughly 
enterprising: so it is necessary for us to connect this fact 
with every phase of the ordeal through which our troops 
battled their way. My researches do not leave me to believe 
that the airmen on either side gained ascendancy over the 
other. Both sides had so much work to do both in and from 
the air that they had no leisure in which to think of duelling 
for superiority. British airmen were handicapped by two 
circumstances. First, as soon as French reinforcements began 
to arrive our air flights were worried because the French 
horizon-blue uniforms resembled from above the German 
field-grey ; and as these French uniforms were usually behind 
the Sritish fighting front, air scouting for information be- 
came difficult, and now and then erroneous. More than once 
news was sent to the Army's H.Q. that German troops were 
active in the British rear, Frendi horizon-blue having been 
mistaken for German field-grey. Next, through nearly three 
whole days German airmen could concentrate mainly on the 
battle itself because the Allied reinforcements came up slowly 


and gradually, while our own ainnen had to divide their 
power between the battle and the vast Gtorman reserves, who, 
"whether second and third line troops or last reserves, thronged 
the German rear till the battle was nearing its end. Ludendorff 
says that his troops suffered heavilv from airplane bombing, 
especially those who were mounted; and from the first day 
onward our own troops were greatly harassed by the same 
new weapon. 

On the second day, for instance, the South African Brigade 
was very much troubled by German planea Dawson, their 
Brigadier, says : — 

" The retirement of the artillery had been going on in the 
meantime, but the enemy's planes to the number of about 
thirty were causing the teams considerable annoyance. They 
were also continually flying along the trenches, firing at the 

Another Brigadier, Robert White of the Sixty-f/rst, writing 
of the same day, says : — 

** During the afternoon fighting in Beauvois the Germans 
had some twenty aeroplanes hovering over the village and 
diving with extraordinary daring almost into the streets. Of 
these, two were shot down by our men at very dose rifle 
range. I am inclined to think that this occurred right along 
the line." 

It has been very unfSfidr to our troops deliberately to hide 
what German aircraft did against our infantry and artillery. 
Truth still remains in the War with her eyes bandaged and 
her tongue tied. Surely it is time that she should be restored 
to Peace with her eyes uncovered and her tongue free to tell 
what she knows. In Much, 1918, pressmen and officials 
forgot, unhappily, that a great nation in a time of danger 
should prove by her words and by her acts that she is 
genuinely great, and therefore above untruth. 

Even at GJ9.Q.» apparently, there was an inclination to 
undervalue the foe's airmen. Early in the battle an official 
summary of news stated that their morale had not improved 
because they flew low I How could they use machine-guns 
in the fighting on the ground, or be alert in contact patrols, 
if they flew hi A ? 

And now uiat we have seen that the airplane training, 
both British and German, was usually thorough, let us note 
some otiier things in the routine of preparation. Plans 
were drawn up and issued for a swift garrisoning of all 
positions, by reserves as well as by line troops; and all 

s^ ,»x «s.«> v^..^*i«.^H«.«« >;<««»4:h .uttvc^ ^\r tfiiftT ttid nidit^ in 
■> - V : ^ ■*•** vv«^-*-.x -ii^^AT :iiii$is» aad pofiitioDa As 
.^ ^^ ..«.-, ^ \ . V ''^••.'•te.T* uc 3ttfitit« '*' Older was issued ; 
«. . x.<v- ^x^ -^v «v^^ 4.* .*v.;>«m:^ ^ e^)$iiiB(r guns were put into 

V ^. V .. v« .. • « «v -«cie. ^^•«a«^i vA hsoetde roads^and known 

N V %%.v *,v. **v> /i.iHH: ITiirrH AufT orders — ^''Prepare 

V 'i-« sii. V >s.%^^v*^t.v ^N% *)cu ^ trooos got ready at once to 
x^ . >. .,^vs.wv %iui >i;W(i^), and ^Man Battle Stations/' 

x« >.. s.. •«...« .V *avui U'^ucIms and redoubts, and the 
V, <^ ^s *^ .v;v....>^ Kioa» %tth a sodden laugh here and there, 
\^^ - • N- >^^^^ s ^«^ ^"a ;ik wciitit^t defenee. 

- Kv^> ^s.s«v H^riv ivb^MWRMd again and again, and the 
'n^. s vv^ w^ v^^x ^i v>ii^Uidi person, perhaps they bored 
' X ^ ,xxx ^x«^ 04 s% thvisjiiott General tells me that his own 
. > V H \^ \ ^ sa^ *v:>^MtW oJf *^ Man Battle Stations," were 
V .«^ ^ . H \n\ .\^ \v«Ail ^noiHK The foe had not attacked, you 
vsv XX K V V s\ visovhv^iv thal» after all their toU through a 
. ^^ . N4 . K>.. v\\^\ " b^iU had aeored off them*" What a 
X X A V ^*s\v ^'^^^ whi^ (\>uch el British grumbling! 




WHAT is the greatest quality in preparations for a 
battle ? Forethought, foresight, vision. As 
early as February 3, 1918, in a conference at 
Catelet, Dough warned his leading officers that 
danger might come from across the Oise — ^an unpleasant 
prediction oecause this river hitherto had been an effective 
oarrier along 16,000 yards of uneven front, and French states- 
meii had used this fact as an argument when they insisted on 
an extension of Haig*s line by more than twenty-eight miles 
If 16,000 yards of this total distance needed no more defence 
than a line of far-scattered outposts, the French Ministry 
had reason to be urgent in their policy, though it was opposed 
by some French Generals as well as by Haig, whose combatant 
strength chanced to be at a low ebb, while Norfolk and Ireland 
were alert with reserves. 

Two passages in the official dispatch suggest that G.H.Q. 
and Gough thought of the Oise in different ways, and that 
0«H.Q.'s way was not the better one. The first passage runs 
as follows : 

"From Gouzeauoourt to the Oise River at Moy, forty 
German divisions were set in motion on the first day. An 
event which, having regard to the nature of the ground, was 
not considered proMible, was that the enemy would be able to 
extend the flank of his attack in any considerable strength 
beyond Moy. The rapid dnring of the marshes, due to an 
exceptionally dry spring, in met enabled the enem^ to attack 
this lightly held front with three fresh divisions, m addition 
to the three divisions already in line." * 

Why was this flank attack considered improbable by 
O.H.Q. ? The dry weather began at the end or December, 

• » Hftig'fl I>ispatohM,*' voL U., p. 186. 



1917, and continued till the outbreak of LudendorflTs offensive, 
apart from a few showers. So its effect on marshes and on 
the Oise's depth and width were known ; and on February 3, 
before any marsh was hardened, Grough foretold a riverside 
attack because Oskar von Hutier and the Eighteenth Gebman 
Arm7 had been put into the line from the River Omignon 
to a point facing Vendeuil, and Hutier's character and past 
actions were warnings to be studied. So Gough said to his 
leading officers at Catelet : 

** It should be impressed on all subordinate commanders 
that although things are quiet at present, the storm may come, 
and in view of the fact that the battle of Biga was opened by 
the enemy [Oskar von Hutier] forcing the passage of the 
Duna, that section of the line guarded by the Oise should not 
be considered as immune from attack." 

And now let us read the second passage from O.H.Q/8 
dispatch : 

"On the extreme right, the valley of the Biver Oise, 
normfiJly marshy and inmost impassable during the early 
spring, was, owing to the exceptioiudly drv weather, passable 
for imantry almost evenrwhere, and formed no serious obstacle. 
This applies equally to the valley of the River Somme, which in 
the latter stage of the battle was easily negotiated by the hostile 
infantry between the recognized points of passage. A much 
l€urger number of troops would therefore have been required 
to render the defence of these rivers secure. These forces, how- 
ever^ were not availcMe except at the expense ofcih&rand rruyre 
vital j>ortions of my front, and as the exertional weaiher 
conditions could not nave been foreseen by the enemy at the 
tim£ when the preparations for his offensive were vmdertaJcen, 
there was a strong possibility that he would not be ahle to take 
advantage of them.** * 

In an earlier part of his dispatch (vol. ii., p. 184), Haig 
runs counter to himself, when speaking of Oough's forty-two 
miles front : 

" Over ten miles of this front between Amigny Rouy and 
Alaincourt were protected by the marshes of tne Oise River 
and Canal, and were therefore held more lightlv than the 
remainder of the line ; but on the whole front of this [Fifth] 
Abmt the number of divisions in line only allowed of an 
average of one division to some 6750 yards of front." 

Gough held definite opinions, as we have seen ; and it is 

* My italics ; the woirdisg is very important, " Haig's DispatcheB,** vol. ii., 
p. S17. 


irorth notice also that his conferenee at Catelet on Febmary 8 
should recall to memory another important date. 

" By tiie beginning of Febrnary/* says Ludendorff^ ^ the 
attack was fix^ to commence on March 21> although the 
mtoation in the East was still quite obscure. The imlitary 
flitiiationy however, made a dedsion imperative. Later we 
eoald idways make changes, but we should be unable to make 
a finesh start'' 

Are we to suppose that changes would not be made in 
Hotier's attitude toward the Oise when continuous dry 
ireaiher gradually made the river fordable and some of its 
majnahes a pretty firm pathway ? Still, as we shall see, politics 
at home ruled over Haig's distribution of defensive power. 
Owing to the need of men, there was only a choice between 
bad compromises; all sorts of shifts had to be adopted; 
tho^h they were known to be perilous. 

¥or all that, one may venture to see something question- 
able in G.H.Q.'s words: ''These forces were not available 
except at the expense of other and more vital portions of my 
finont/* Surely vital things are vital; there's no real need 
to give them a comparative and a superlativa It is with 
sectors of a battle front as it is with vital organs of the 
human body ; when one perishes, of what use are the others ? 
Around this question, or one akin to it, as we shall see, Luden- 
dorflTs mind revolved when he formed his immense plan of 


What this campaign would be was another question dis- 
cossed on Febmaiy 8, at Catelet, and Oough's forecast was to 
a big extent accurate. 

** The main attack may be expected against the Third and 
Fifth Bbitish Armies, with Axniens for its objective." 

This prophecy was based on five reasons. At that date 
noticeable German preparations had not been made elsewhere, 
and good divisions were being withdrawn from the German 
line facing Gough's front and Byng'a While these good 
divisions were passing throueh a thorough training:, they were 
being reconstituted in their old corps. Within an eighty miles 
radius of St Quentin sixty-four German divisions were in 
line, and thirty-nine in reserve, besides about fifty farther 
awmy. It would have been perilous to think that present 
quiet did not foretell a storm. Above all, Hutier^s presence 
was a warning. The great General who had captured Riga 
and whose meuiods were original, masterful, swift and fierce, 
was unfit to be put as a mere feint along a span of front vital 

'^ TT"^ -JillT Hi" SJlSCH. 1918 

S* i4«sia. vrote to GLH.Q^ and at 

Li •* 

.^ i .s^c '«:^' JKT^M ^«fi :iai» tta^ at Siga» has 
^u» '± o%Hto&w :v ::2«» T^fts B^msH Asmt trxmL In 
-^ .««« «. o» ^^^c* ^ctaars^ M niitfii completefy on surprise. 
.^«ra^c^ c ;L^^Ufec<wt)n» kept a^vmlgrmiks away from 
. ^ -vu^ M.«^ .> ^><^ft^ tt 'ih) wvacd acoa witlimfive to eight 
.<4,^ ^ V. '^ !.> MUa:^ rh» «:cnal tiattle was preceded by a 
^v^^wi.> .v^v^^o.^^tK ^v. aott«aekmoftarorgImempIaoe- 
%N«^ > v..xi^c ,t\.t»vxntr^ to repeat on the Oise, and 
^«^«^«& "^/-.^ .uKi i:k«> r^vt^r OliugiKn» his rapid surprise 
^v^v«^ ''^ ^«M t Vi^ >«atii6iMu»ii f Stt^pose his onslaught to 

>\>k^.^«>NL iii:^ {Mnl» «fed spoke of it in the con- 

i'Oi^ ttoaA ^^ Corps Comroandere would go 

I iv<iiili!^ of ai«asures that would have to 

«N%<^>>. ' w^ loQ^ U would take to move up 

Vx .N .«jKMi V dtt^ :$uf^ ^ 4hi»U all hack roads with their 
^ w^^«%..^v ^u^«^ aivi^4Vtt«. )«MD^ t^\n> that they will have to 
^v. .^sss^U V;^\% N4W»tu»|( sHk thiAr way up; and recon- 
..^ v«!^fisv»< >^sa.v« >^ uMi^ >iit^ a vWw to preparing tracks 
v..^;^^^^ vs. v«ii« v4> >%i\^ia ;ikvvidai(j: ctoss roada All officers 
tx^^ vWvk% v\Hui«MM*UiMx ^pwardii lobe taken to the spot in 
^x ys N^ ^vv^v V v>a >aW ^n«4^^mi«i <^' their headquarters, and to 

V^^^ ^"^^ W ^^^tU %»i^ % iki^w gas^ 80 gas drill and 

V * ^ N>^^ i4M^Kv^v>^% sv Vx t^HMKvraik elOn were obligatory. 

V ^x ^ ^ -v. is\\viiMiw\\ <^^ iM<(:i *.\>Miii 4h^ W <Uy the foe's int^tions. 
\^ .A ^^.vv .K^ivs^ U4 \h^%^ vV^^ ^HfeUuMd a scheme for de- 
...V v.i^ \A\«^v4 ^v^iK^tvb^H <i^ ih^HMand or fifteen hundred 

V ^ v\ ^x «v v\su^^ .tv«i^ tson^ l^nny C\wps Obmmander was 
V .knvs .n^^h-u wsi^iK ;iMKit i^k^ viWd^N^y theoi along a span of 
^ V .x« % N.^«4>4i svi x^N^K Vt^j^ MTM la b0 done delibrntel^, but 
^, ^ >4 A vs\k\ •u«NV4^i4K^iH!i 4W9^M>i «jt wooM attract suspicion to 

^ u s Vxy^ \^ v^ ^ vVr^ vXwwMAder had gapped the 

vxx. \ >^ ^ v^^ V V^l >j^««^ W WM to g#l them photographed 
XN V \\ '^v ^^v^«lN^ \t lk# M4H^ were repaired at once, 

\4.N.\ v^^vvSM i^v «Mi^ 9ty^^ U mi|^t well show that 

* -s' 


We pass on to moral influenoes, prime things in war. 
Krsi-rate pre-battle appeals, at once inspiriting and prophetic, 
are uncommon. Here are two examples. The first one is a 
manifesto addressed by Qough to Divisional Commanders and 
Brigadiers : — 


Fifth Abicy, 

Jcmiuary 25, 1918. 

''DsAB , I enclose a paper I wrote by way of 

showing our young officers and our men what the general 
ntnation now is, and the necessity for a renewal of our 
Goorage and our Resolution. I particularly wanted to point 
oat also how every one can help by maintaining a cheerful 
spirit all round. 

** But» on second thoughts, I realize that these appeals from 
Army Commanders do not carry so much weight, because they 
lack the essential personal touch. Young officers and men 
will listen to and believe their seniors whom they personally 
know or see, but a mere name carries very little weight. 

" The only officers, therefore, who can make these appeals 
success are the Divisional Commanders and Brigadiers, 
who can speak to all their troops, and whom the latter 
personally know and trust I therefore decided merely to 
send you this paper, and I would be very obliged if you would 
speak to your officers and men on these lines when you get an 
opportunity. I am sure there is no greater service we can 
do at this moment for our Country than to show our troops 
exactly what the situation is, and what is necessary if our 
future is to be safeguarded. 

** The spirit which should animate us all, not only out here, 
but at home, is that expressed by Abraham lancolu, in the 
American North v. South War, which had then be^a going on 
for about four years : — 

'* ' We accepted this war for one object^ a worthy object, 
and the war wiU end when that object is attained. Under 
God, I hope it will never end until that time.* '' 

Second Manifesto : Issued by Gouqh to his Army, 

January 25» 1918. 

''Having at their disposal a large number of divisions 
released froiai the Russian fronty there is a probability that 


the^ Oebicans will employ them in striking a blow at the 
Allies on the Western front in the hopes of gaining a decisive 

"They are openly stating that blood must be spilt like 
wateri but that it will be worth it, as the coming battle will 
be the last battle of the war ; and after that will come the 
loiu;ed-for German peace with all the world under their heel» 
including^ and more particularly, our own beloved Country 
and People. 

** A great deal of this is being said to raise the hopes and 
morale of their men, who are war-wearv, and to stiffen their 
resolution, but there may well be real intention to attack 
behind these words. 

** Should such an.attack come on us, I am confident that it 
will find all of us and our neighbours ready and united in 
their resolve to defeat it ; but this in itself is not enough to 
ensure success imless all have striven to the utmost beforehand 
to render success certain by concentrating all their endeavours 
on making our defences such that, however sudden or strong 
the attack may be, it will, without fail, be broken by the 
efficacy of our defences as well as by the gallantry of our 
troops. In view of the uncertainty as to when this attack 
may be launched, each day is of importance and should be 
taken full advantage of. Every trench dug, machine-gun 
emplaced, length of wire put out, may prove of vital importance 
in holding up the enemy. 

" There is no doubt that this attack, if it should come, will 
be the climax of the German effort^ and if all the necessary 
preparations have been made to meet it, and each officer and 
man welcomes it as all German counter-attacks have been 
welcomed in the past, then it will cause them as heavy 
sacrifices and as bitter a defeat as they suffered in any of their 
great attacks, such as the first battle of Ypres, or Verdun, and 
such a blow may be given to the German Power that Peace 
will indeed come, but the Peace which is the only acceptable 
one to the Allies, a Peace which as the result of victory will 
ensure our women and children security. 

'' This is, therefore, the great crisis of the war, but it is 
also one of the great crises of the world's history. 

*' Are Liberty, Honesty, Truth, and Courage, for which our 
Fathers fought and died and which they handed down to us 
to keep as an example to the whole world, are these great 
British virtues to go down in ruin before the brutality, the 
ruthleisnesBi the deceit and cunning of the German ? 


* I know I can with oonfidenee voioe the spirit of British 
sotdioB whea I say — ^Nevul 

" Our Country took up this stragg^ in order to maintain 
great and noUe ideals as well as to defend the safety of our 
homeB, of oor people, and all that is most dear. We began 
the war with enthusiasm. It is only nataral that, after three 
and a half years of this terrible struggle, many of us feel 
weary and would be glad of Peace — ^but only of the Peace that 
seeores all the great ideals for which we have suffered and 
fought. Enthusiasm may die down, but DuTT remains. 
Duty and grit have carried our race through all struggles in 
the past 

" It is essential that we should all realize what still lies in 
the balance — ^the safety of our homes, of our women and 
children, our industries, our Countiy ; the ideal of justice and 
liberty on the one side, and on the other, with the certain loss of 
all these, lie poverty and slavery to the Boche for all Europe. 
** In this coming struggle we need have no doubts if we 
are all nerved and ready. 

** Although the Boche Armies still stand firm to all outward 
appearance, like a dam against a flood, there has been a very 
great deal of disint^fration going on which we do not yet see. 
The blows, defeats, and losses they have suffered have lowered 
the courage and spirit of the Boche soldier greatly, but their 
people behind them are still more stricken and shaken. 
When the dam finally will burst, one cannot say, but when it 
does, it will probably go with great suddenness. 

^ What is now required are gallant and cheerful hearts, 
putting our utmost energy into all work for improving our 
defences ; and when the time comes, showing a grit, determina- 
tion, and pluck which will inflict bloody bsses in the Boche 
ranks and give their troops a shattering blow. 

** We must not only keep cheerful here, but it is important 
that all officers, however junior, and all the men shoula try to 
keep the People at home equally cheerful, confident, and 
patientb Officers and men out here must realize one great 
iMd in such a struggle as we are engaged in, and that 
IB that it is not only the Armies which are fighting, but the 
whole people, and ttiat as the disintegration of the German 
strength will almost certainly begin by the breaking of the 
ivill and discipline of the German people before it goes deep 
bto their army, as happened in Russia, bo it is essential to 
help and support and cheer our own People at home. 

'* In thus addressing yoU| I think it is necessary to recall 

ka * ^ 


In , 

- i-.^^*i«» XL ai» gMBMntry, 

"^-^-^ «?^ m»x x^ ibitter any 

^-ir c-*m: .mt iiioab mud our 

^ ;£^ ^ . U!!«» ^*' ii^ Boehe, and 

««» :$aoaId all show 

.«^ . - - iv"^ JK itot ruBm and in oar- 

*.. '•%• u%aiurv — jQit^ the soldiers of 
t»«« ."^Mtt p«:d^nMd in the past 
< ...,c< . *^- ^ * ^-^^ >»t.. aj^^--4»«fe irikich speak to 
V . ^<N r. ^^»ai ^ old riinreh walls of 
^^ V « *^^*« »^*^^ li^iiuirt BMnjr different foes, 

^.> ^^ H » v:x ^ -^^ »v wa^:A;Iiii!9rs of the Regiments 

.V w%^..u^ Mc 'bn^&ybhers ; and, when the 

, ^ . ^li^ 4v iMM^ «id ^ prepared that we shall 

.w.* . ^ «^^ a iigii^ p«^ deeds that our sons 

% . X a»». V %* Hr'ii,;hH». s/^ 1^18 : you proved your- 

. « V ^*v^ >iuc^ wi^ a smile on your lips 

'v«^«^v * V v^^MAatioo is proud of you/ " 

^ 0* 




IN the meantime Ludendorff was training three large 
armies with which he hoped to win a conclusive 
victory ; and then^ swiftly, and as secretly as possible. 
he imited them to his line troops facing Byng and 
Gough, while menacing other areas, both French and British. 

As many German units arrived at their fighting stations 
iast in time to begin the battle, Gough and Byng did not 
know till tiiey were assailed how much force would be active 
against them at any point A great offensive had been fore- 
seen, but its distribution of power was hidden, and thus very 
worrying to those who waited. 

Even if Haig had been able to place large reserves behind 
all threatened spans of his fighting front, Ludendorff's on- 
slaoffht would have been more formidable than any other 
whidi German troops had undertaken. In comparison with 
its power and skill the first advance to the Mame would have 
seemed only a crude rehearsal, and the Verdun campaign only 
a fumbled bleeding away of vitality. 

To be British is to be irrational, and Haiff, in his time of 
greatest danger, had no choice but to be too politically British, 
since be ha^ not men enough to safeguard all his known 
responsibilities; known, we must believe, to statesmen in 
London as well as to soldiers in France. That very sinister 
handicap that weighed against the Expeditionary Force in 
1914, was pressing again ominously both on and behind our 
troops in Ixanoe. To be short of reserves is tantamount to 
having a foe in the rear, placed there by statesmen, who alone, 
with sanction from Parliament and the people, can supply the 
nation's armed forces with enough power. 

Haig had to jraard 125 miles of vital front with fewer men 
than Ludendorff assembled on March 21 against fifty-four 
miles. ''In all," Haig relates, "at least sixty-four German 
divisions took ]Murt in the operations on the first day of battle, 

33 D 


a number considerably exceeding the total forces composing 
the entire British Army in France." 

Ludendorff gives fifty-nine as the complete number of 
British divisions ; * also he knew that they, like his own 
divisions, were cut down to ten battalions apiece. His 
knowledge of Haig's weakness was equal to Haig's knowledge 
of the increased German power. Between November 1, 1917, 
and March 21, 1918, the number of German divisions in the 
west had risen from 146 to 192 : an increase of forty-six. Let 
us suppose that every division in this increase had the same 
strength as our Ninth, whose units happened to be better 
manned than the average strength of Fifth Armt battalions, 
402 ofi&cers and 12,039 other ranks. This assumption means 
that Ludendorff reinforced his western front with 18,492 
officers and 653,794 other ranks. 

Allied joumalista magnified hugely the number of men 
brought by Ludendorff to France from Italy, Rumania, 
Galicia, the Bukovina, and Bussia. Would that this exaggera- 
tion, habitual in propaganda, had caused the Lloyd Ueorge 
Coalition, not to mass troops on the ELast Coast of England, 
as in Norfolk, but to supply Haig with enough combatant 
strength! Then the Fifth Armt would not have been a 
Jimmy Wilde who would be obliged to fight through a week 
against a German Carpentier I 

Ludendorff assailed it with by far his greatest vigour 
while thrusting nearer the coast with very large, though lesser, 
forces. In this way he made a great concurrent battle on a 
continuous line which would become of decisive value to his 
plans if the much bigger southern attacks could crumble the 
St. Quentin defence and then break through at chosen places 
with operative force and purpose. Mere local rents and tears 
would be of no use to his ample strategical aims. They could 
be patched. Certain spans of defence must be annihilated, 
and swiftly, else reinforcements would arrive. 

Gough knew in a few hours that enormous odds were 
active on his whole front against his few divisions, while 
Byng was hard set along only 18,000 yards of his line. This 
minor grapple may be called the battle of Bapaume- Arras. 

Byng's front in all was 46,000 yards wide (26f miles), 
spanning south-eastward as a whole from a point just souUi 
of Gavrelle to the south base-angle of Flesqui^res salient, 
about half a mile north of Gouzeaucourt. Byng had seven- 
teen infantry divisions, including the Guaras, ten in line, 
* One division too many, fifty-eight boisg the total number. 


seven in sapport, and opposed to ihem were twenty-four 
German infantry divisions, fifteen in line, nine in support. 
Clearly Byng was well manned for scientific defence with the 
most recent weapons from entrenched position& The only 
perils he had to fear were the hazards of war, those chance 
blows, often like blows from a malign fate, that come as 
frequently in battles as they do in boxing. 

A mystery has been thrown over the number of divisions 
in our thibd Armt, with the result that writers have been 
misled into errors. In several articles I have ^ven the 
number as nineteen, two divisions too many, while Sir F« 
Maurice, in his vivid epitome of " The Last Four Months,'' 
gives only fifteen, two divisions less than the correct number. 
The G.H.Q. dispatch would have prevented much misunder- 
standing if it had announced in 1918 the full strength of 
Byng's Army, just as it published the full strength of Cough's. 
As for the reinforcements along the Third Army's front, 
map evidence shows that the Forty-second Division was in 
support east of Adinfer on the evening of March 23. Next 
day, in the evening, the Siasty-aecond was in support west of 
Anas, and by nightfall of the fifth day the Twd/th was active 
hard by Frioourt. On March 26 the Fowrth Australians 
entered the battle, together with a New Zealand division ; 
and the bulk of Gough's northern Corps, under Congreve, 
reinforced Byng's right from Bray-sur-Somme almost into 
Albertb There on the seventh day the Third Australians did 
good work. 

North of Byng — ^north frt)m Oavrelle, that is to say — ^was 
the British FuSt Armt, under Sir EL S. Home, whose 
southern wing, on March 28, played a very useful part in 
Byng 8 battle. 

Gough's front was nearly 75,000 yards wide (42 miles), 
about a third part of the whole line occupied by Haig's full 
combatant strength. It ran south-east from its union with 
B^jmg's right down to La Fere, then south-west to Barisis, a 
village south of the Oise, between the forests of Couev and 
St. GobaixL On this wide front across the heart of France 
there were only fourteen infantry divisions and three divisions 
ofcav^. A cavalry in totafman-powerequidled another 
foot division. They were in support, and their positions 
when the battle began are shown in my large map of the 
approximate Order of Battle, British and German. 

Eleven infantry divisions were in line, and after the first 
day, Gough had three infantiy divisions m reserve. On 

>»v ( !^.tt ««t-r x« c>wu i^iCMzse GlH.Q. 
t^vw v» >«i»» tic-^^kC^. ,r^«^*» «.*tAa :mm tBMk The 
-•v<««-%x. N. "^i^H" »■ 'i****^* ft ''m'^'ii iMors. vrtvra m tlie 
»*«^>^< <i ^^fti.v«« ^ %: • -3 i>:f '\-*!t«/i inr 3»^ feadk the 

\ .N^ ««v .'s^^ •« ^^:aA t >tJ4*t.vos ^uu tSMOMofhts eATsliy. 

.* >v>— ^ >"^v '^.^u •iiNii-jv w^ VTj* lit ci(>i$«» wewre. And 

v«M wiv »».<vc %t»^ <.* 'Hvs^;^** v^Oogh'sj front— odds in 

..^^ v*.v. AK^v^* iv ^^*i<v ^«^« t^MivM tti^^ttftr^ To qaote from 

X v?»v*.^ w .h: *WN*t»dii ^* oh« FtFTH Abmt Were 
w >>%^ -^^v V u%Ap^ h«^. k\.; ui Jiati^^ ia suidi strength as 
.*«. <^H «•«• ^ c. > vkv\. \% «w >HhKuy \m it^ front** 

v^..^>.^ '«v ^«. ^»H*^ uivNbt>r — Qbbddi Atlenby had under 

\« . ^ . » ^VK. .» X».^^4.«v %i^vu« I >0»000 white troops^ though 

% ^v ;«4 Xx > ^^^^s^ V a^vX gA^NtfitttOii of the Indian Army 

^ ^ *^ V . c %\« I.NV. v^s; % >«^Miv Hti>MUtt of Indian troops for 

^. . * sN. u N > .^v.i^s ^4^v %s«uiW. W<^ :»bottld, therefore, have 

.vs SN «v «.« V H^w.^\^v% lU IhIi^ ISSttt b^ sending Haig at 

V Vn » - ^ s ' icv ^ vXHivMvtvt^It^ r^intoreement of white 

s N . *\ v.>* Vv vviUs\ \vHf i uHiiii^ however, was moved from 

X %v . ^ \*u.\s.wv ^H.K **"*'»^ tiuVMr the German blow had 

A X V • .V >.. v**».vvv Wi >cuiS>iW the most serious reverse 

H . » \,v\v XV ,w*a.^ ^iw %lK^l^vvaweaf the war."* . 

^V V ^ - ^ *^ -N >*vU uxWUHHi while Qough and his officers 
, . v\ , V V. V .\*xvui4w^ th^ i*>Nfc»etit wleal against odds 

V s V s. u *K^ VH*ii hK\K>4Y v4f Hritish battles? Some 

X \ N^s .Kv ,^\vs4i *i>»iai4 W4WI 5ihown by O.H.Q. towards 

V ,. <** ^^ ^*vV* ^^^ t^^"^ tVvMit was nearer to the 
,s. '\ ..^ ;v. Vvi \w^ ^vs^'m* 9k letreat North of Byng 

'» \ . > 4n... ^-4 vCvNrtM «^v> vK»»eir %f> the coast tiH no land 

. . . V \. s \v% vfcivSv^u^ ^U9ktai^t peril to the seaports; and 
V. \ v\ \ .A v^.4o*^w\ ^^^AVi at a K>w ebb, it was thought 

V > v^ ^ V vA vA '^ vvu Ww^H auU hi» troops than to run them 
.V ^ ^ »'. N \. u 4iMvk us^thv^*i\w\^l areas. Besides, German 

, , ^ V ^ V ^H. V j^^v^uk M\^»Uu Koad were known to be 

\ * V. xvvi. iui vANN^kv^*^>lv \Uy wtvather had hardened 

. ; vv u v\ .^^ a ^^K ^*^ Mwflt for an attack during 

, V^^*'* W^^ *^ li^*l^ (iround might be lost 

. H,S xiiiSiNNk vu tk^ lv>"i Valley, though some French 

iM ' I v«i ^\ vv W\^^K U^s^U«ik#Na Bit F, Miuiloe, p. 19. 


northern oollieries were in this army area, as well as important 
tactical features by which our lateral communications were 
covered. Only south-east of Arras, and notably along Qough's 
fronts was there room for a retreat ; and even here an operative 
break-through — a wide enough span of defence overwhelmed, 
annihilated — would be a disaster not to be weighed and 
measured till its travelling mischief were known completely. 

For instance, what would happen if the main German 
effort were along the area between Sensee River and P^ronne, 
towards the sea ? " If this blow succeeded/' says Ludendorff, 
" the strategic result might indeed be enormous, as we should 
separate the bulk of the English Army from the French and 
crowd it up with its back to the sea." 

Or, again, what if the foe achieved his annihilating 
break-through south-west of St. Quentin ? Here a well-fed 
advance — south-west, north-west, and also due west — would 
have no definite limit, other than that enforced bv fatigue 
and by such reinforcements as the French could hurry 
feverishly into action — two in&ntry divisions without guns 
by the evening of March 23, and a division of cavalry. No 
matter where a swift and complete break-through came, the 
British position south and north of it would be most precari- 
ously damnable, since Ludendorff had men enough for huge 
turning movements; and as for an advance due west aftor 
Boch a catastrophe, it would have found on Qough's front 
just enough reserves to be brushed aside. No wonder Q.H.Q. 
was in the position of a jzambler who, before risking his last 
gold, tries to brace himself by forming as hopeful an estimate 
as he may venture to form about his chances! Consider 
this passage: — 

** The extent of our front made it impossible with the 
forces under my command to have adequate reserves at aU 
poimUs threatened. It was therefore neceaaary to ensure the 
ea/etv of certain sectors which were vital, ana to accept risks 
at others ••••'* 

Would our northern and northernmost areas be safe if 
Qough's defence, which would bear all the risks, were 
aiuuhilated at one of several sectors? No. Their safety 
would be cancelled, as Ludendorff knew. So the safety of 
EUg's whole line was no firmer than the streng^ of its weaker 
places, jins good generalship at these places. The Tay Bridge 
was Quite safe in places, but a gale wrecked 8000 feet of it, 
and tne rest became f utUe. 

• «< Hftig*t Dispakhof ,** toL ii., p. 916. 


G.H.Q. continueB : — 

** In the southern sector alone it was possible, under extreme 
pressure, to give ground to some extent without serious 
consequences. ..." 

As 6.H.Q. was placing all the risks on Oough's forty-two 
miles of front, a third portion of the whole British line, why 
speak of his giving ground to some extent under extrcTne 
pressure, and without serious consequences ? To what extent, 
for instajice ? Is it not with extreme pressure that attacking 
Oenerals hope, and hope logically, to annihilate defence along 
known weak: sectors ? 

G.H.Q. goes on : — 

"• . . . give ground to some extent without serious 
consequences, over the area devastated by the enemy in his 
retreat in the spring of 1917. The troops holding this latter 
part of the front could fall back to meet their reinforcements, 
which need not necessarily be pushed forward so far or so 
rapidly as elsewhere. ... 

I cannot feign to be convinced by this reasoning, which 
is completely antagonistic to the precision employed by 
architects and engineers when safety has to be considered side 
by side with the force of thrusts. G.H.Q. has no guess what 
weight of well-trained attack will be hurled against " troops 
holding this latter part of the front"; nor whether this 
weight, at present unknown, will include squadrons of tanks. 
Yet O.H.Q. assumes that these troops will fall back to meet 
their reinforcements ; but will they do this all right, no matter 
what or how much the pressure may be ? It is dangerous 
reasoning to suppose that reinforcements " need not necessarily 
be pushra forward so far or so rapidly as elsewhere. ..." A 
wise old axiom says that reinforcements should be kept near 
the troops in the line of battle. 

By reasoning in a way that invites criticism, G.H.Q. draws 
public attention away from the main point of all : namely, 
that political authority has left Haig at a low ebb in numbers 
and in training also. As war means casualties among the 
young and strong, risks imposed by insufficient means of 
defence cannot be stated in words too stark. 

The dispatch continues : — 

" Moreover, the southern sector could be reinforced with 
French troops more easily than any other portion of the British 

Here is another assumption in support of which no pre- 
battle hopes or arguments could be at all useful, because 


LndendorfF had only to glance at his map in order to see that 
French reserves were near to Qough's light and centre, and 
were thus a danger to the German plans. From this fact 
Ludendorff would pass on to the inevitable question : " By 
what means can French reserves be kept away from the St. 
Qaentin front, at least for several days ? " 

Haig ends by saying that he " considered it unsound to 
nujintaiTi a considerable force of British reserves south of the 
River Somme, while it was yet unknown where and to what 
extent the enemy would commit his reserves." 

Here, in briei, is the policy of compromise chosen in France 
because greatly impoverished rifle strength made gambling 
with perO a game to be played boldly. 

Little by little this policy will be judged by events, always 
final as military critics. At present only two or three points 
need a little attention. Norfolk was well manned with troops 
and not at all nervous. A friend of mine was amazed by their 
number in the Norwich neighbourhood. How does this alert- 
ness look side by side with gambling compromise in France ? 
Such compromise in great war, as history proves, is likely to 
be useful only when its employers are confronted by generals 
of no importance. Position maps, and maps of a whole front 
can be read as correctly by capable foes as by a O.H.Q. which 
is obliged to put incalculable risks into plans of defence ; and 
were Ludenoorff and his Staff at all likely to misread the 
north-westerly run of Haig's line towards the Channel Ports ? 

If Ludendorff is not the greatest soldier produced by 
Prussian training and ambition, he can be placed on a level 
with the greater Moltke, for the work done under the direction 
of his O.H.Q. — done in Russia, Rumania, Italy, and France — 
18 hard to parallel in magnitude and in consequences. At 
present his Qualities as a Ueneral are undervalued by Allied 
critics, as Napoleon's were undervalued when Napier was 
assailed because he dared to see them correctly; out even 
those who sneer at Ludendorff as '^a mere tactician, a very 
poor strategist," cannot fail to look on it as a tragic mis- 
fortune that G.H.Q. should have been compelled to take risks 
which could not be hidden, since Ludendorff knew the total 
number of Haig's divisions, and the weakness of Qough's wide 
front ; knew, too, how Haig's reserves would be affected by 
sectors near and nearer to the coast ; and, again, what P6tain 
and the French feared most of all from a great offensive. 

With these particidars before his mind, Ludendorff could 
go ahead with the development of his plans by means of 
cunning in wide-stretching preparations. 





ALARQE map in this book gives the whole battlefield 
as it was on the morning of March 21, 1918, before 
the foe let loose his thoroughly trained storm divi- 
sions. It enables us to see (a) what Ludendorff learnt 
from the front line's westerly course northward from La Fbre 
to the north of Lens, and (&) why he massed troops at some 
places more formidably than at others. The map shows the 
twenty-one line divisions under Gough and Byng, and their 
reserves, but not their reinforcements. Facing our line troops 
are the huge German armies with their reserves, but not 
with their reinforcements.* 

* Otto Ton Below ooinmanded the Sevbsitbxnth German Abxt, and Von 
der Marwitz the Second. They employed in all the same ncunher of troops, 
28 diviaions each, including three which they used torn by turn. From first 
to last Hutier and Gayl employed 85 divisions, including the ThM Bavarians 
and Fourteenth Reserve, which belonged to Boehn's Anny when the battle 
began, and threatened Gough's extreme right along the IBarisis sector. As 
regards reinforcements, I oner for oritioism what at present I believe to be 
approximately accurate. In Otto von Below's reiuforoements there were 
seven divisions, probably: Twelfth, TMirty^hih, Forty^flrsi, and Hund^ 
and Eighty-seventh; Fifth Bavarian Bbssbve, Ttoenty-firH Bbsbbve, and 
Twenty-third Bbbebvb. Marwitz's reinforcements, seven divisions : Twenty- 
iixthf Fifty-fourth, Third NawU, Chtarde Era. Division, and three from 
Below's first-line troops. Fourth, Hundred and Eleventh, and Hundred and 
Nineteenth. Hutier's reinforcements, ten divisions: Twenty-third, Four- 
teenth, Fifty-first, Fifty-second, Two Hundred and Forty-third, Tenth Rbsxeve, 
Eightieth Kesbbve, Seventh Besbbvb, First Guards, and Two Hundred and 
Forty-second Division. Next, as regazds German mounted troops, I can gain 
no information as to their total strragth ; so I cannot say whether they were 
more or less numerous than the men in Gout's three cavalry divisions. On 
the first day it was reported to the Eighteenth that a post in Vert Ohssseur 
Valley had been captured by German cavalry; divisional mounted troops, 
probably, who had been sent forward to keep in touch with the advance. 
There is no other record of German cavalry in the Eighteenth's experiences. 
Ludendorff made no attempt to use cavalrjr in hu^ turning movements, as 
Badenny has employed them frequently m Russia's counter-blows againnt 


\ ^ 


There was no need to continue the front line beyond Lens, 
because any reader can see that less and less land oonld be 

Slven up with safety near and nearer the Channel Ports. To 
udendorff this matter must have been as trite as A B C ; so he 
had to find out how he could use most aptly for the develop- 
ment of his central aim those weaknesses in Haig's strategical 
position which were revealed plainly in the map, and those 
other weaknesses which he nad learnt by otner means — 
namely, the total number of Haig^s divisions, their reduction 
to ten battalions apiece^ and the very inadequate rifle strength 
on Oough's over-s^tched front. 

What, then, was his central aim? Allied writers have 
summed it up variously. About six months before Ludendorffs 
book was published, I formed my own reading from his order 
of battle, the disposition and the movements of his armies, 
when considered in their relation to the north-westerly run of 
a British battle line which from the first lacked equipoise, 
since its defence was too weakly armed in some places and 
well armed in others. No revealing evidence could have been 
better than this, and I find that we reading I got from it is 
confirmed by LudendorflTs comments on his central aim. 
What he desired most of all, as less costly in losses and thus 
most inspiring to his troops and to the German civil popula- 
tion, whose temper had enfeebled greatly, was a continuous 
advance to go on for several months^ unf oldinj^ its scenes and 
acts at different places as the plot of a well- written tragedy is 
develooed to a cumax by a master playwright. If long oreaks 
divided the acts of his tragedy, each act would be a new 
beginning ; his troops would have time to lose their confidence, 
their araour; Qerman civilians would grow suspicious, and 
perhaps seditious, in the midst of their nunger ; defence and 
attack would renew their stretch together, and American 
troops would pour into France. This last consideration must 
have put nightmare into Ludendorfi's dajrs, since he was going 
to gamble with the whole of his reserves, while we and the 
Frrach could look forward trustfully to the arrival of vast 
American armies. 

Lodendorff confirms this readii^. During his preparations 
he thought much of the U.S. A., and ran the risk of interfering 
with the Qerman Naval authorities bv pressing for more and 
more submarines in order that the U-boat campaign might be 
directed simultaneously against two objectives— «eabome 
oommeroe and transports with American troops. The sea 
being so spacious and wireless telegrapliy so accurate and 


swift in the tranBmission of wamings, he considered that 
hunting for American transports ought not to be done by 
submarines withdrawn from relentless attacks on mercantile 
marines. Some Reichstag deputies wrote to him and said that 
more submarines could and should be built. Consider a few 
brief quotations from LudendorflTs book : 

** llie question was : What will be the rate of supply of 
submarines in the spring of 1918 ? Will the submarines, even 
if they have been unable to damage England decisively, have 
so far reduced tonnage that the new American troops cannot 
come over in a short time, and will they be able to strike at 
American transports while engaged in destroying hostile 
tonnage generally?" (vol. ii. p. 538) . . . "The American 
danger rendered it desirable to strike in the West as early as 
possible ; the state of training of the Arm^fr for attack enabled 
us to contemplate doing so about the middle of March. At 
that season, too, horses would find some grazing which, in 
view of the shortage of forage, was a necessary consideration " 
(vol. ii, p. 544). • • • " About New Year, 1918, the opinion of 
the [German] Navy was as optimistic as ever. I had, however, 
become more sceptical, and felt obliged to count on the new 
American formations beginning to arrive in the spring of 1918. 
In what numbers they would appear could not be foreseen ; 
but it might be taken as certain that they would not balance 
the loss of Russia; further, the relative strengths would be 
more in our feivour in the spring than in the late summer and 
autumn, unless indeed we hiad by then gained a great victory " 
(vol. ii., p. 5S9). 

A great victory! Ludendorfi regarded this as essential 
not onfy because of the power that could come from more 
than a hundred millions of U.S JL subiects, but also because 
his own partners, including social, political, and industriid 
Germany, were anxieties that increased from week to week. 
Statesmen were slack in releasing reservists from munition 
factories, but not slack in asking for specialist workmen from 
the armies ; were lethargic towards skrimshangers, wastrels, 
slackers, and other dregs ; and seeds from the Russian revo- 
lution were being imported by many a soldier from the Eastern 
fronts while German civilians here and there got similar seeds 
from ffnawing privation. Turkey was the one partner that 
seemea to be in earnest, but she was weak and out of gear, 
and in need of more German battalions than Ludendorlf could 
supply. Bulgaria had occupied fdl the land that she desired 
to keep, so her interest in the war had waned, and Ludendorff 


knew ihat she eonld be trusted only so long as he and his 
tn>op8 won victories. He adds, too, that in Bnlgaria there 
had always been many persons in pympathy with the Entente. 
Bat as he was in need of men he could not be tactful all along 
the line towards Bulgarian sentiment. Indeed, he ruffled it 
by moving Bulgarian troops to Macedonia in order to release 
a few (3erman formations (vol. ii., p. 544). 

As for Austria-Hungary, after the loss of 1,800,000 men in 
prisoners alone, their Axiny was so worn, and so short of 
recruits, that it needed a new German backbone, which could 
not be supplied. Luckily, too, Ludendorff was obliged to 
withdraw m>m the Itidian front the six German divisions — ^a 
fact to be remembered with gratitude when we recall to 
memory the way in which through several days the Austrian 
Piave offensive hung in the balance. Then it collapsed, and a 
ereat wave of disappointment, most helpful to ourselves, shook 
Germany from end to end, and put out the last flickers of 
battle temper in that hotchpot of discordant ethnology called 
the Austro-Hungarian Empire. 

** In 1917," says Ludendorff, " we had already received an 
intimation from the Imperial and Royal Government that the 
[Austrian] Army could go on fighting for only a limited 

Criod ; we might anticipate something similar in 1918. We 
d to take into consideration that Austria-Hungary might 
actuallv arrive at the end of her militaiy power. It was 
clear that her political power would not last one hour longer. 
Nothing but the Army held the Dual Monarchy together." * 

This forecast was proved by events to be true, though we 
are aU unwiUing to admit how very untrustworthy from the 
first was the ramshackle main partner in Germany's habitual 
agsression. To admit this plam fact side by side with the 
doeat of Bnssia, Serbia, Rumania, and the invasion of Italy, is 
to put a most distressing bitterness into truth. And Germany's 
other partners had recently been defeated in great war ; another 
hateful thing, since it throws into higher relief the resistance 
shown by sixty-eight millions of Germans — a resistanoe 
supported by Allied blundering, pre-war and wartime. Still, 
Ludendorff was shackled by ^1 these matters while he and 
his Staff were developing their plans for 1918. Hence thev 
must be stated here, and frankly weighed and measured. 
Again, (German railway trucks were scarce, so they had to 
be used mainly for inilitary needs, and not to bring some 
ease to a hunger-stricken Empire. 

* Ludendorff, vol. U., pp. 689-40. 


Never before in armed warfare had such a tremendous 
gamble been undertaken as a last resort LudendorflTs only 
hope was to strike with his complete power while Haig^s rifle 
strength was weak and before the new American armies could 
be brought across 3000 miles of sea. If he could annihilate 
chosen portions of the Fifth Armf, while crumbling all the 
rest of its lean vigour, the American troops would arrive too 
late ; and if he failed to do this his advance must be at least 
great enough at selected places to set in motion other offensives, 
else long breaks between the battles would nullify, to a great 
extent, the effect of each battle on the Allied resistance, while 
the German armies would have to renew themselves from 
returned wounded, and not from fresh drafts. On February 
13, 1918, in an audience at Homburg with the Kaiser and the 
Chancellor, Ludendorff said : — 

" The battle in the West is the greatest military task that 
has ever been imposed upon an army, and one which England 
and France have been trying for two years to compass 
Yesterday I spoke with the Commander of the Sbventh Abiiy ; 
he told me that the more he thought about this task, the more 
impressed he was with its maenituda This is how all 
responsible men in the West thmk.* I believe, too, that I, 
who have to furnish the Field-Marshal with the foundation 
on which he bases his request for His Majesty's decision, atn 
more than any one impressed by the immensity of the under- 
taking. It cannot be successfully accomplished unlesis the 
authorities who conduct the war are relieved of all intoler- 
able shackles, unless the very last man is employed in the 
decisive conflict, and is animated, not only by love for his 
Emperor and his native land, but by confidence in the strength 
of the military leadership and the greatness of our country 
These spiritual forces must not be underestimated, they are the 
foundation of the greatest deeds. They must be strengthened 
by the energy of our action in the East. The Army in the 
West is waiting for the opportunity to act We must not 

* Thli anxiety to a thing to be noted, because Brittoh propaganda was 
oonttantly referrinff to Oerman boastf ulnese, forgetting the horrible tragedieB 
that oame from AUied over-oonfldenoe. Even Sir F. Maozioe telle hto readers 
that *' the Germans were more confident and boastful than they had been any 
time dnoe their first victories of August, 1914." In my studiee I have founa 
oonsiderabW less boastfidness among the Germans than unong the Entente 
Powers. The amasing trench systems introduced by the foe denote con- 
summate caution, not over-confidence ; and what Garman (General would have 
chosen to leave a vital front in need of men, as our Government did t The 
over-confldsttce produced by tiie first battle of the Mame weakened the Western 
AUies through three years. 


itnagiBe that this offensive will be like those in Galicia or 
Italy ; it wiU be an vmmenae struggle that wUl begin at one 
point, continue at a/nother, and taJce a long Jime; it is 
difficult, but it will be victorious." * 

But what if this continuous campaign were baffled in the 
first battle by Oough and his officers and men, aided by 
Byng's troops ? On Oough's front of forty-two miles there 
was all the room that vast odds required — or seemed to require 
—for annihilating blowa But a Oeneral has always to 
eonsider the possibility of failure : — 

^ The crown of success would be an operation in which we 
could bring to bear the whole of our superiority. It was our 
great object If we did not succeed at the first attack, we 
should have to do so at the next ; by then, indeed, the situation 
would have become less favourable — how much less favourable 
would depend upon the rate of arrival and value of the 
Americans, and on the losses which both sides sustained. 
Everything was based on the assumption that we should do 
well in this respect^ and although, of course, I expected our 
own Army to he weakened, I hoped it would be less so than 
that of the enen^. By continuing to attack we should still 
retain the initiativa More I could not aim at I reported 
to the Emperor that the Army was assembled ana well 
prepared to undertake the biggest task in its history." f 

Maig speaks of the foe's exceUent offensive training, and 
Ladendorff hoped that this thorough training would keep in 
battle its mam chiuucteristics— disciplined and combmed 
initiative among all ranks, extended order in all onsets; 
swiftness in setUing down on defence as soon as attack came 
upon a steady, strong resistance fitted to cause great losses ; 
and readiness on behalf of the ruck divisions to follow their 
storm troops fearlessly, aided by the profusion of guns, machine 
guns and mortars which had been collected close behind the 
foremost lines, and now and then placed even in advance of 
the jumping-off ground. Each division had a company oi 
medium trench mortars. These weapons were made as mobile 
as possible, and were allotted as required to battalions, together 
witn flame projectors, which could be used at the shortest 
ranges against cellars, dugouts, and blockhouses. Ludendorff 
sa^'^s of his artillery : — 

" For the advance of the infantry in offensive battle con- 
centrated preparation by massed artillery was of the utmost 

* Lndendorff, toL iL, pp. 687-88« 
t Ihid., ToL U., pp. 68S^. 


:as y jriiH asik: Di mabch. i918 

in bnai^ op twenty to tliirty 

^.rrr^n^s ^vt«« A ^^JBUHMi ^tma^ «> «HBti kiloneler (eleveii 

atttr?^ OMT^. .t. .ruK :u >$ anacked. Xo man had ever 

*^ c^ >^iL»* •omjc-'xiuw: still je«> had anTQBeeTer thought 

K A^i .^aMJ^r«i«l^ I aottiiQmaca hnried ca the foe. These 

%VM> -ju^^i^ iMifi^!^ ;»ift<«^; And Tec the haltle area was so 

<Msi ^^tei( ,%t?ift u>f<$i# ^oaattcbe^ <Mf sie«I did not destroy all 

ctk .*jL4riUEa% ;u>in^v:» 6Huid fiur Kv moth to da These 

*M»N8^^ «. ^-xurs diiid ;uttmusttfii»t had to he goi up dose 

V .V Civa«v^4i :iK^. vmlv thtt^ cwud they oigige taigets 
:i. v.. t%A a^^ ix-^ JMitt lijOBi^ ^thottt iftTuig to chaoge 
v.>^ .«A tcN .;v \>*«.(..t> prv^ttijtisied. At the saaae time, they 
\*«. V >. sx^^M>:>a tvitt vtiew^ Knh firv^at the firoot and from 

w AvSNAn .% ^iuidMd $ttii» Y^c^ bctx^t to hear on each 
 \ V w w». > V vvHi^h ^ iSjit v<i A a lU^Ie Wes than TS,000 yards), 
>«v viMv,' ivv%«ii{s> vWr^ ht^iixb^Kt hv $ixty-eightk and say thi^ 

.V V. -^x^^^ ^v^iHT ^^c^K^ «h^ Ftrni Akmt vas about 6800, 
v^^sv «>v\«.«N,v%«t ^Ht»i'Iov^ the wv«xi» ^^«k\hiI a hundred guns 
s^ «^a v^NKuvv.vv't Uvttt %> W attacked.^ Troidi mortars, 
\^ax« ^%«Nv>Uiu ;MKi iKHiv\\ ar^ not to be induded in this 

^M^s^M v^.^.oi v« ' iW A«»trian gunnMS and guns proved 
,v ^.. c \^Wi hsi|»t»4S>\ tv>r ihe ammunition brought with them 
>»,x.« ,%.< >s;« u^N>a ^\v w^w^ wkthdimim. 

^^ Kv^ ^xu^uKHUji gv4t%M^ of muHl and will went on both 
\o%Nv;.4 ^w v\tuKya t^M^Uir« and those who caused hitches, 
%.x «vv' \v^v^'uv•^^0v4^«u^lul munition fiictories and our own I 
I N «.>^v >kv v^^uX g^^ iKeaii the more strenuously we should 

V v v*H «^ vu.i y4A>^v« v^ ihe vju^lion why Haig, in his hour of 
.NX, vv^« w-^^.. >«kH.A Iv^l ^NNK^u^'i^ied with enou|^ rifle strength, 

\ ^^^.% V^ v^^^ (VAkKhca^'^HN) by a battle firont whose weak 
-V ^.^ v«N^ w*^>^ )s.^lA w^re revealed to all students by 


V u *«^4xt\ . ' .,< ;Ks>o^ ma)>M» the foe's Hkrher Command came 
s X ^ . . X A . V^n «t Uku^^l iuerease the soldierly and watchful 

., . .\ V \ '' \ Ua'^ tv'A^ the Channel Ports and for the French 
\ k sNS* u. \..v l*\ UHVCva^dug this solidtude, by taming 

v^ . \ \. ^^'wv)xvu^^\4^ or misgiving; reinforcements 
. ^s' w • ^^ a UsvuK iU^ujjVa fron^ in order that they 
« ^ .« si x' .^us(^^ \vi>' muv>h nearer to the coasts whero 



no British retreat oaght ever to be allowed by Haig. And to 
Ludendorff and his colleagues it mast have been equally 
essential to increase the natural and soldierly nervousness felt 
hy P6tain and the French for Beims, Champa^e, Verdun, 
and Paris. By no other means could they sterilize throu£^h 
several days the French reserves, while titanic assaults 
were being delivered on the known weakness of Qough's 

Little by little, and with great care, the foe began to 
display an acceleration of work from Flauuders to the Gise, 
also on both sides of Beims, and elsewhere. Concerning the 
need of feints in his preparations, Ludendorff writes : — 

" It took weeks, and required considerable foresight and 
the most detailed preliminary work to concentrate the troops 
in a confined area, bring up by rail the tremendous quantities 
of ammunition and other stores of all sorts, carry out the work 
allotted to the troops themselves, such as preparing battery 
positions, screening roads, constructing anti-aircraft shelters, 
and preparing gear for crossing the Frenches, and finally to 
deploy for battle. Of course all this increased the danger of 
discovery. It was therefore necessanr to commence dummy 
works on the fronts remote from the attack, which, as a 
matter of fiuit, served as the basis of attack later on. But the 
bulk of the available labour troops were required on the front 
of attack at an early date. The preparations on other fronts 
eould not be extensive, but there was some chance of mis- 
\ms the enemy, and the deception was to be completed by 

lUy conducted defensive measures ... * 
" Feints and preparations for further attack were made 
between Ypres and Lens, by the group of Crown Prince 
Rupprecbt ; by the German Crown Prince s group, particularly 
between Beims and the Argonne ; by the new-formed group of 
von Gallwit2, on the old battlefields of Verdun ; and by the 
cnx>up of Duke Albrecht, between Saarburg in Lorraine and 
Ste. Marie-aux-Mines, and also in the Sundgau." f 

Nothing half-headed entered into the foe's widespread 
feinting and preparation, which appealed as strongly to the 
French G.H.Q. as it did to Haig's, stimulating anxiety in both. 
British and IVench airmen reported on the increased activity 
behind the German front, and by the dose of February, 1918, 
it was dear that although hostile preparations advanced 

^ VoL IL, p. 689. An atUck must pTopww also for seU-dofenco, sinoe it 

"t Vol a, p. SsT*^ 


omosite Googfa'fi 
^a^|p% 4ft ^iik svfas of Hiwit, and between j^ns 

^ m hiajBtrnt sdieiiode for 

^ OfciMi^pi Ik fd »Teft fiy Sdfort ; so he kept 
W'^Mir^wariN^k^egtobeaMetoiMe tliem therewith- 
^^ JM^r si^Mki % «Nd ftr tkiii ttriaa Henee he could not 
>^iiM mumSmnmm^ Ii> Qgi^ H^ut from periiape two or 
^kti»# ^H^Mie ^VMMi^ ^ he was ane that Ladendorff's 
^^wiMt i^Mi» i)M«^ Md BjQ|( w«TO not great feints to 
VK^MMM 4 w«o^ ^a ^amahi^g aam Uow against IVench lines. 

^- tf^Himu lliia yjqir la »haaistllaiA,itwas known that 
A^ ^UMaji hritol Wm wkii^ axtansiTa pr^Moations for an 
'JauMX^ vft li^ KiNtea liroa^ and that these preparations 
^v^ ;ib^HHi»j^ tte anlvaimd . « « The bombardment on the 
%mUi^ <NM i^^ybwrA 31] had been aeeompanied by great 
^^uiiiK;v ;jNi}^>ii^ ^Mi both sidea of Reima It eonld not be 
.*v>m4WH»t w^iA wrtaia^ that this was a feint nntil the 
» iMn »A Mi^Mlt th^ ^iliah had been in prt^gress for some days, 
t^ iHN4Hy ¥ik^l haY^ wiployed a {yurtion of his reserres in 
V^'H %m¥^ avM ih^ kaowMge of this possibility necessarily 
'44;Kiv4hn4 th^ vj&»teib^lioii and utilisation of the Frend^ 

("HkHi a^ vk^bi W eoavineing; bnt we are told also by 
vMi ^> vi^ thi^ v4lfoMid di»()ateh. that P6tain and Haig made a 
wv^ W%)^ Wv)&ava ii^ th# main reinforoement of Grough's 
OvkMi >j^4%h lf^vlM^h f^NNTve^ should a great crisis develop 
^\v4v . ^ i¥ baltWdi i^iust great odds the first phases of the 
%\,M,4^ ai^v thii^ aM>*l lui^ly to produce disaster, together with 
\ \V4> v^\£ip<al Mod «ur reinforcements ample enough in 
uuiM^ aud w vth Ih^r t\iU equipments, military and adminis- 
VA«^wk\^ ^vu^i th^M^ the pn»-battle agreement between 
Un^i ausk yviaMik Mira» a hostage ffiven to fortune. It had 
us^ vvi^\ \ah*^ aA a |>«'e))aration for prompt and adequate 

V^u |h^ V\v4ich nkXp of QougVs fronts then, Ludendorfl 
uw^v^ vv<^( hwi Mi^- batUe aim-^m aim, also, with two purposes. 
iW Wk ^uavW vl uii^)H>saible for F^tain to send enough help to 

SKvu^k M svK^^ aa a grava crisis came ; and, if with his huge 
^^^4VK\4^Y v4' stvaagUi he could overpower Qough's ngh^ he 
W<4\^ auv'tk^VA^ l\\4^l ivav^ for a forward thrust^ while Hutier's 
Ml au4 V)^V« lUlV divivions, aided by Boehn's troops in the 

« Uslii t«L ILi p. 818. 


St Qobain sector, pressed on rapidly to Ghauny and towards 
Pontoise and NoyoiL* 

Hntier^s soathem boundary crossed the Oise at Pontoise, 
while his northern boundary was through the Omignon 
valley to and along the great westwa^-going highway 

running firom Yermand to Amiens. So it is easy to see what 
Hutier and Boehn wanted to do with their ioint and immense 
forces, twenty-five diviaiofiis, and ten divisions used as 
reeervM during the battle^ There is, or there seems to be, 
reason to say Aat Oa^'s troops were a semi-detavshed part of 
Boehn's anny, whose Tkilfd Mvarisfltt sod FtfwrUMth Kemrvn 

^ Sm the xittp tbowiag the Gennui Miniee in peiltl0&« 



threatened Gough's liaison with the French north and south 
of Barisis. 

The map considered in its relation to Hutier's power and 
Gayl's four divisions suggested to me that Ludendorff 
desired to extend his attack across the Oise below Chauny 
and in the Pontoise sector. Several military experts ran 
counter to this belief; but now I find that Ludendorff* 
anticipated the broadening of his attack both towards the 
Oise's farther bank and also towards Arras. How could he 
have £Euled to anticipate the possibility of these movements ? 
On the first and second days, if he swaUowed up Gough's veiy 
thin right wing, the way would be opened for a very swift 
drive to the Oise south of .Chauny, and also south-east of 
Noyon ; and if Hutier and Qayl reached this river while their 
troops were ardent and fresh and powerful, they could try to 
cross the Oise south of Chauny, and also to pass down the 
Oise valley to Compi^ne, aided by Boehn's right wing, under 
Wichura, from the neighbourhood of Manicamp.t If these 
aims could be made real, Ludendorff would be able to 
manoeuvre into action all his prepared strength on both sides 
of Reims ; and a moment might arrive when Gallwitz might 
be let slip either against Verdun itself, or in a flanking move- 
ment to compel a withdrawal firom the fortress. Gallwitz 
was in immediate command both of his own Third Akhy 
and also of Army Detachment " C." 

Of course, nothing less than a complete break-through — ^a 
deep span of front amiihilated — could open such a great and 
swiit flanking movement south-west and across the Oise* 
Still, vast odds are collected and let loose to produce 
annihilation along chosen sectors. 

Briefly, the south-westerly evil within the possible range 
of Hutier and his colleagues was not limited to the act of 
driving a wedge between Qough and the French. A thorough 
break-through south-west of St. Quentin would have extended 
this scope incalculably. Two other offensives might have 
been fired off by it, and the more trouble Hutier and Gayl 
caused among the French south-west and south-east of Noyon, 
then of Oompi^ne, the easier it would be for the remaining 
troops to forge ahead— on one side to Montdidier ana 

• Vol. ii., D. 663. 

t Doriag tne letrest G«iier«l Butler, of our 8rd Oorps, mutt hmve thought 
oi th«M d«Dg«n, lor on Ifttoh 26, ftt about four ajn., he wnmed hie osviury 
through Bri0i(dier Portal that strong patrols were to be sent to Sempigny and 
Pontoise, ana that the loe was to be prevented from Grossing the Oise. 


Rerrepont on the other, moving shoulder to shoulder with 
Harwitz's left wing, towards Amiens and AbbeviUa 

Hutier chose leading officers whom he had tested, placing 
Lnttwitz with the 3rd Corps on his northern boundary, and 
Cetinger south of him with the 9th Corps. Then in southerly 
saocession came Webem's 17th Corps and Conta with the 4th 
Corps. On March 21, between the Omignon River and our 
lines south of Yendeuil, about thirteen miles, Hutier had 
eleven divisions in line, and eight, if not nine, in near support, 
as well as four reserve divisions on a complete war footing, 
bat not in mv map. These were the TwerUy-third, First 
Oucmia, and seventh and TefrUh Reserve Divisions. Add to 
this vast power Gayl's flanking force of four divisions in the 
La f%re sector, and Boehn's two divisions along the St. 
Gobain lines. What was the British force that opposed these 
Grerman legions till the first French division came up at 
breathless pace, without guns and without administrative 
equipments? It was a ^rce of seven infantry divisions, 
aideS by two of cavalry, and hardly one of the units had a 
full complement of men. Yet its bravery was maligned, 
pitilessly slandered, while Ministers were received with loud 
applause at public meetings. Are nations easier to hoodwink 
than children ? 

The minor grapple abo, under Marwitz, had very great 
strength, as my map shows. On March 21, seventeen of its 
divisions were massed against Qough along a front of about 
twelve miles, while the remaining four faced Byng's right 
around the exterior arc of Flesquieres salient, * inside of which 
O.H.Q. and Byng had placed no fewer than three divisions. 
I wish I knew why. The salient was far too narrow and too 
shallow for a big fight ; it could be ransacked with a criss- 
cross of German gunfire ; and its defences, both natural and 
military, were very formidable, what with a captured portion 
of Hindenburg's line and Highland Ridge, not to speak of 
other defences. It is impossible, then, to omit asking whether 
this British salient, as formidable as it was narrow and shallow, 
really needed a crowded protection from three divisions? 
Later we shall see how puzzling tiiis question is both tactically 
and atrategically.t 

The Gennan troops massed north and south of the salient 

^WetbftUiMihalihMafoiizof Marwitz's diTisiooB had a vwy strong re- 
MlloBMy «ll60l agAlmi Gougfa's Ult, ao they aboold be indudad in the power 
UmI wnMMid ftgainet our Fdtr Abut. 

t Bee pp. 1^140, 141, 167, 16S, 109, lei, 165, 166, 167. 


prove that the foe intended to follow the routine which is 
necessary when a small and strong salient — ^a sort of pocket 
Hercules — ^might easily beat a surprise front attack.* His 
aim was to leave the body of the salient alone while he tried 
to cut his way through near the base-angles, in order to break 
in behind its rear defence line and to capture its garrison. 
This routine was particularly dangerous because the salient's 
north base*an^le at Demicourt was over four miles to the 
noTth'west of me south base-angle near Gouzeaucourt, as you 
will find by drawing an upright line from Demicourt south- 
ward. Now, as the custance north-west between Gouzeauoourt 
and Demicourt was and is only about 6i miles, this point 
is very important. No wonder Ludendoi^ collected twelve 
divisions — six in line, six in support— on a front of about five 
miles north-west of the salient, partly to strike towards 
Bapaume, partly to take the salient's rear as their objective, 
while north of them another cluster of divisions extended to 
the River Scarpe ! No wonder, too, that Ludendorff in his 
book shows how eager he was to cut ofi* By ng's three divisions 
within the salient ! 

We shaU see that this pressure on Byng caused compli- 
cations among these divisioV and that IZ these comphW 
tions had varied unwelcome effects on Gough's lefL Luckily, 
Ludendorff seems to have underestimate the number of 
divisions in Byng's forces ; he knew they were more numerous 
than Gough's ; but if he had known their full number he 
could not have expected all that he did expect from Otto von 
Below. It is Haig, in fact, not Ludendorff, who shows the 
very grave trouble caused by Below's chance blows, aided by 
Marwitz's extreme right. 

G.H.Q., according to the official dispatch, believed the 
principal German attack would fall between Senste river and 
the neighbourhood of Bapaume-Cambrai road ; and although 
this great northern thrust had no more force than that of 
Marwitz south of Flesqui&res salient, yet Byng's seventeen 
divisions on a narrow front were not excessive owing to the 
great peril which would have come if the attack on the second 
day had captured Bapaume, with its road running south- 
west to Albert, and had crossed the Arras-Bapaume road 

Draw an upright line south of Bapaume and you will find 
that it passes about four miles west of — i,e. behind — F^ronne. 
This fact alone shows how greatly Ludendorff wbs aided in 
* Ludvndorfi'i bdbk oonflmn tills map cfvtdBnoiiB. 


his deBigns by the north-westerly run of the battle line coast- 
ward, and also how necessary it was to have a big defensive 
power to protect Bapanme and the northern rear of Flesqni^res 
salient. When I tell you that the boundaiy uniting Gough 
and Byng passed just sonth of Mananeourt and Combles, you 
will see at once how bad it would have been for Qongh's left 
if Bapaume had fallen on the second day. Would it have 
fallen then if Byng's front had been as thinly manned as 
Oouffh's ? * I believe the answer Tes will come to any frank 
mind that studies Haig's dispatch side by side with a large 
map; so there's no reason for us to agree with the many 
critics who have questioned the 'need of giving the Third 
Abmt so many troops per mile in excess of Gough's. The 
Uiing to be deplored is that the same number per mile could 
not possibly be given to the Fifth Army. Then Gough on 
the nrst day would have had thirty divisions with which to 
oppose the German forty-three. 

Study that semi-salient extending from the Sensfo river to 
Bapaume-Gambrai road; note how it thrusts the German 
power on a broadish front menacingly towards Bapaume and 
Ervillers. Then turn to page 154 and note how pressure 
from this north-westerly bastion affected the salient on 

Moreover, in the northern battle the inner winss of Below's 
and liarwits's equal armies were ordered not omy to cut off 
the salient fix>m behind^ they were ordered also to take the 
strain off each other in turn, and to push through between 
Cnnailles and P^ronne ; but the realization of these aims 
needed such a sequent unity of success that its miscarriage 
would be brought about by any among the bigger hazards of 
war. Ludendorff, for instance, could not foresee the incom- 
parable defence of the Scottish Ninth, Gough's left flank 
division, which, again and again, was of great help to troops 
both north and south of it — a fact long concealed and even 
now but little known. 

Though the northern battle was very great, and though 
from the fourth day it became through two days and nights 
the more dangerous, because the Third Army's centre was 
broken, presumably by a chance blow, and its southern corps 
had ominous gaps between its divisions, as Haig has described, 

^ BsBMmbsr, the sy«ng» length of front held by MohTBOLD Abmt divlaion 
in line WM about 4700 yards, while eaoh Fittb Abmt division in line hed to 
gaaid some 6760 yxdn of front. Remember, too, that Byng's reserves were 
mneh kigv thsa Oongh's. 


yet we must never forget that the most perilous blows were 
struck through four &y8 by Qayl and Hutier in the south, 
and that Hutier and his colleagues had always more powerful 
forces than either Marwitz or Below. And it is also necessary 
to remember that Hutier's reinforcements, ten divisions, 
equalled the number of French divisions hurried into the 
battle between the third and eighth days, gunless^ and sorely 
handicapped by other hindrances to success. 

Two other facts also must be stated. First, LudendorfF 
himself chose the Eighteenth German Army, Hutier's, as the 
one through which he could express his own influence in the 
most convenient way (voL ii., pp. 691-92) : 

^For the decisive operation the Seventeenth* and 
Second f Armies were to remain under the orders of the Army 
^roup of Crown Prince Rupprecht. The Eighteenth Army 
joined that of the German Crown Prince. Remembering the 
November campaign in Poland in 1914, 1 meant to exercise a 
far-reaching influence on the course of the battle. That was 
difficult if it was being conducted by one group only ; every 
intervention was only too apt to become mere interference 
from above* It was desirable to make the fullest possible use 
of the resources of the group of the German Crown Prince, 
and this was facilitated by the organization adopted. ..." 

This group extended to Reims and between Reims and the 
Argonne. Hutier, then, was to be the first of this group, apart 
from Boehn's right wing, to take part in the great offensive ; 
and the best artillery ofiicer in the whole German Army, 
Colonel Bruchmiiller, was given to Hutier^s H.Q. as Artillery 
General Ludendorff speeS:s of him ardently, smd says that 
Hutier's artillery was completely imbued with BruchmuUer's 

But we must not suppose that Ludendorff was over- 
confident. Indeed, he was ill at ease. He did not know 
how much strength had been added to those portions of the 
British front which for a longish time had aided him in his 
plans by being weak. " The weakest part," Ludendorff says 
in his book, " was on both sides of St Quentin. . . • Whether 
this weakness would continue I could not know."} As a 
consequence, doubts were troublesome. To cause and increase 

• Below*8 Army. f Marwitz's. 

X VoL ii., p. 690. He addfl : "Taotios had to be considered before purely 
strategical objects, which it is futile to porsne unless tactical success is possible. 
A stra logical plan which ignores the tactical factor is foredoomed to failure. 
Of bhis the ^itente's attacks during the first three years of the war afford 
liumDrocs examples." 


nnoertainty has remained the essence of war, despite airplane 
Loe and other new sorts of spying. 

One doubt very harassing to LudendoriBr was the weather. 

"* At noon on the 20th;' he writes, " O.H.Q. had to face 
the great decision whether the attack was to commence 
on the 21st or be put off*. Every delay must have increased 
the difficulties of troops, crowded together dose up to the 
enemy. Already the tension was very hard to bear. The 
psychological pressure of the mass was urging them forward. 

*' And yet our artillery relied on gas for its effect, and this 
was dependent on the direction and strength of the wind. I 
had to rely on the forecast submitted to me at 11 a.m. by my 
meteorologist^ Lieutenant Dr. Schmaus. Up till the morning 
of the 20th, strength and direction were by no means very 
favourable ; indeed, it seemed almost necessary to put off the 
attack. This would have been very hard to do. So I was very 
anxious to see what sort of report I should get. It was not 
strikingly favourable, but it did indicate that the attack was 
possible. At 12 noon the Army Groups were told that the 
programme would be carried out. Now it could no longer be 
stopped. Everything must run its course. O.H.Q., higher 
commanders, and troops had all done their duty. The rest 
was in the hands of fate ..." * 

^ «* My War Memories, 1914-1918,*' by General Ladendorff, toI. ii., pp. 596- 
7-S. HatehinBon & Go. 



ONE thing in the seoondbattle of the Somme is described 
by both sides as a very great hindrance ; and thus 
we must try to see, as warily as we can, whether it 
hampered one side more than the other. On March 
21 and 22, from dawn till midday, or a little later, a thick white 
fog enveloped the battlefield, hiding the fight from airmen, 
blotting out signals from scouts on land, and masking the fire 
of artifieryi rifles, and machine guns. German artillerymen 
knew not which parts of our line held up the German attack ; 
they could continue the routine of their creeping barrage, but 
they could not aid when their infeuitry was in difficulties, 
nor could they **Bpoi*' those of our rans which had been 
removed to alternative positions as in Maxse's ground. More 
important still, the foe's artillery could not bring concentrated 
fire to bear on those places where our machine gunners were 
lodged underground in masked pits fifteen feet (foep. Surely 
this fact was a great help to our defence. Ludendorff spealu. 
admiringly of our hidden machine ffuns, and notes the losses 
that they produced. Yet no good thing has yet been written 
by a Britisn soldier about the thick fog which hid rents in our 
battle front on the mornings of two terrible days, March 21 
and 22. From Haig himseu down to the youngest subaltern 
who wrote letters home, runs a firm conviction that all the 
military drawbacks caused by fog were active against Gough 
and Byng. It is easy to understand whv onenrided views are 
set astir oy great penis, but history is like an auditor, it must 
be free from bias in order that its profit and loss accounts 
may be correct. 

If Ludendorff and his Generals could have assailed through 
a fog with large squadrons of tanks, as Foch and Haiff did on 
that most famous day, August 8, 1918, 1 could easily snare the 
British belief that focr lUlies itself with the attacking side ; bat 
a huge ipfiBmtry onslaught, dependent on combined action along 
neany forty miles of oontinuoiis front, apart firom Byng's, has 


to be looked afc differently in its many various relations to fog. 
Both sides were afraid of killing their own men with shells and 
maehine-gnn fire ; neither conld see how the battle was going, 
and German storm troops could not be seen by the masses 
behind them. No doubt the foe was aided by fog over no- 
manVland and into our forward zone; but a sufficient 
number of smoke shells might have been almost equally 
effective for this purpose, and at anv moment, in answer to 
signals, a smoke cloud could have been put where it was 
wanted, ffidden by a f off from smoke shells, Austrian troops 
got across the Piave, which may be regarded as a more 
troublesome barrier than no-man's-land and a forward zone 
ravMed by a creeping barrage, behind which the foe advance& 
It is said that the foe could keep his direction in the fog 
by following three things : his own oanage, our communica- 
tion trenches, and the belts of wire guarding our support lines. 
Yes, with difficulty ; but, on the other hand, could the advance 

St up speed, could it go forward with that momentum which 
ts men into the fury of attack and hides from them the 
extent of their losses ? Did our own men, when they moved 
over familiar ground to their battle stations, find that the fog 
did not delay them ? They were greatly inconvenienced, as 
we shall see. To move across cratored country in a fog must 
have been a Uind, chilling business ; and when, after &layed 
and long effort, Hutier and Marwitz got beyond the range of 
their banage, their difficulties in the tog must have become 
mater, for no mass of men could see fifty yards to rieht or 
left or ahead. Officers must have been perplexed ; cohesion 
in the assault must have been more or less haphazard ; and 
no Boche could have been sure that the advance was general 
enough to be undangerous to his own battalion. 

A war correspondent of the Vaaiische Zeitvmg said of the first 
day's fight that the widest stretch of country was won south- 
west of St. Quentin, " although dv/ring the morning Jiov/ra a 
thick mist, which only the midday sv/n cUa/red away, diriurbed 
our operatiom. Cwiaina of m,i8t gathered so tkicldy that 
men Bcrvvna the field artillery, adva/ncing behind the infantry, 
could haraly see their horees. Nevertheleaa there was no 
pauee. BaUeries had to take their new objectwee v/nder fire 
without direct and precise obeervaiion, cmd the infantry 
always in the foq, and vnaided by methodical artillery pre- 
paralion, had Uworiously to win posUums and sectors. Yet 
the movemeTit eontiiwed and trench after trench was taken.'* 
True : but the first day's results were so disappointing to 


LuJendorff Uiat the offiouJ bulletin ran as follows : ** Between 
Oambrai and La F&re we have penetrated into portions of the 
Kntfliah poaitions/' No more than that I 

Xater Qeorge Weg^er, of the Cdogne Gazette, complained : 
''Through the mornings of three days, for the most part 
in thlok fog, positions liad usually to be taken by hand-to- 
hand encounters.*' This means that flanking and enveloping 
movements were harassed and confused by aenae white mist ; 
and those three days made up the first and most important 
phase of the battle. Moving heavy artillery through a foff 
(iver cratered and entrenched land must have been attended 
by inanv hitches and delays : and the distribution of food and 
AiruaunrUon to such hordes of advancing men must have been 
baiilod also by foggy weather cJong such a wide front. 

For in considering this miUtary problem we must re- 
nittitilior that width of battle-front is exceedingly important 
ill its bearing on an attack through fog. Along a oompara- 
llvtily narrow frontage rapid and combined movement through 
a f(ig, aided by a thorough creeping barrage, would be far and 
away leas difficult, and the fog itself might well be invaluable 
to the assailants, as it was in 1916 to Nivelle's famous 
oouQter*attaok at Verdun. Ludendorff^s front being very 
wide, swift and sure coordination, in accord with pre^ 
arranged plans, was essential everywhere ; it belonged to the 
e»HHnoa of his huge aims. What he feared most of all was a 
ragged and disjomted advance— the very thing likely to be 
uaused bv fog on a spacious and extending frontl 

lie declares in his book that fog impeded and retarded 
German movement and prevented the superior training of his 
trouim from reaping its full advantages. This superior train- 
ing IH a fact ; it is referred to by Haig as well as by other 
Hritish offloora "The majority of the Qerman divisions," 
ilaig relates, ''had spent many weeks and even months in 
Qonoentrated training for ofiensive operations, and had reached 
a high pitch of technical excellence in the attack." If this 
exoullenoe had been aided by the fog — ^not locallv here and 
there, but in large aspects and results — surely the Qerman 
unuet with a huge superiority of numbers would have 
travelled much farther than it ^tually did reach on the first 
dav. iiudendorff ends his brief reference to the fog by saying : 
**ThiH was the predominant opinion about it» but a few 
thought it an advantage.'' 

1 lie main jpoint of all is the one of oo-ordinated speed and 
uunnentum, oi awift, incessant^ and increasing impetus. The 


Qennan leaders had formed two decisions: firsts that their 
assault must be made on a very wide front beeanse small 
salient-making was local and f atUe ; next» that a great many 
divisions were necessary to crumble the western front, and then 
to break through at chosen places, and that the initial slaughter 
would be veiy grave. So they prepared the German people for 
huge losses. Nothing less than gambling hugelv in casualties 
eomd have a chance of solving the western problem — ^how to 
break through, how to annihilate chosen portions of a deep 
defence whidi has been crumbled aU along the line. 

If a misty dawn had been followed by a bright^ dear, 
windless day, the attack would have had what the soldiers 
call ideal weather, and the full weight of its tremendous 
power could have been hurled with gathering speed, against 
our slender human lines, aided by smoke clouds placed 
where they were necessary. Thank God, no such thing was 
possible in a fog, which turned the assault into a series of 
local operations, all blindfolded and very difScult And the 
foe was prepared to pav in blood the far higher initial toll 
that dear weather would have imposed upon the fury of rapid 
movements, his purpose being to overwhelm by numbers and 
to advance far on the first and second days. What early 
gain of the first day was pushed on rapidly and witii 
increasing force ? None : not even Essigny, MaissemVf and 
Ronasoy. Let us, then, be thankful that fog, though a hindrance 
to us in many matters, was, in the main, a boon to our defence, 
delaying and confusing the attack and giving our commanders 
time to form ripe decisions and to fall back with power. 
After the first two days, for example, Maxse lost no guns, 
thoujgh he felt in full measure the batteries and batterings of 
Hutier^s legions. 

The for^s^ing arguments were written long before 
LudendorflTs book appeared; they run counter to opinions 
hitherto published by British students and British officers. 
Fog has been deplored as a friend to the German assault 
Why should any one assume that a great many divisions can 
attack in a fog without being jumbled up together and 

General Gough writes on.these matters : — 

" The next point in your letter is the fog. A very difficult 
and thorny pcontl My opinion is that at first, say, for a 
oounle of hours, fog was a great disadvantage to the defence. 
Haa it not been present, many of our machine-guns, very 
skillfully hidden, would have taken a terrible toll. It is 


possible — but, coDsidering the immense superiority of the 
Oerman numbers, hardly probable — ^that this toll might have 
repulsed tiie attack. But as soon as the foe had broken 
through the first lines of resistance and was pushing on, he 
must have found that command, co-operation, and communi- 
cation became inceasingly difScult. Then — so I think — it is 
quite true that fog was a very serious hindrance to the Hun- 
How could he go ahead for a decision — a big decision, and a 
rapid one ? 

^In war, where all is uncertain, and where so many 
influences are unceasingly at work, it is foolish to be dogmatic ; 
but my summing up is this. K the day had been clear and 
the attack had got through the first line of defence, losing 
hugely more than it lost in the foff, the Oerman skill in the 
movement of masses of men would have had opportunities to 
exploit rapidly tiie first gains. LudendorflTs object was not a 
limited one; it was unumited and supported by enormous 
pushing power backed by vast reserves ; and in all unlimited 
war aims, swiftness in execution is necessary throughout an 
attack. Can we be certain that the Qermans would have been 
stopped by their first losses on a dear day ? Their numbers 
ana their training miJce it impossible for us to say Tes to this 

S[ue6tion« On^the whole, then, it may be sfdd that the fog 
avoured our Fifth Abht," 






HUTIER was disturbed twice during his final arrange- 
ments. In the evening of March 19, no fewer 
than three thousand gas drums were fired from 
projectors into St. Quentin, with a wind towards 
Germany behind them; they caused much confusion. A 
whole regimental staff was put out of action, as we learnt 
afterwards from German prisoners. 

Next evening, at ten o'clock, after our guns had poured in 
a great many shelb, two companies of Warwickshire troops — 
Shakespeare for ever! — raided the German trenches beyond 
Fayet, nartly to get a few prisoners, and partly to leam how 
much tne foe's ordinary line troops had been reinforced; 
Fifteen Germans were captured, and three German regiments, 
nine battalions, were found on a span of front formerly held 
by one regiment, or three battalions. More valuable still was 
the news that in five or six hours Ludendorff would open his 
attack. This warning was made known at once to all Head- 
quarters, British and French.* 

When the noke of our Warwickshire raid had rumbled 
itself away, a wonderful quietness came, a deepening hush, 
with eery loneliness. Then a thick ground mist began to rise, 
damp and clasping; it gathered like teased cotton wool around 
sentries and outposts. The peace of nature before the strife 
of man has been often unforgettable, as it is in the hours 
preceding Wellington's battle on the Douro ; but the night 
before the second Somme battle, with its uncanny stillness 
and ita fog, has a poetry all its own, with underlying 
melancholy, as if a consdenoe in war listens while old Eieath 

* JjaAmAmU tsyi, I believe with traih, that on llareh IS or 19 two 
QenwaiMi dwe rt ed from a tnnoh mortar oompasy and gave infonnation to tu 
el the impeodiiig attack. 



silently prepares a shroud for the brave men who are going to 
be slam. 

An officer of the Sixty-Jurat writes : — 

*'The night was extraordinarily qoiet ... I tamed in 
early, about 11 p.m., after telling my signallers to call me at 
4 a.m. if nothing happened earlier. I slept well ; and at 4 a.m. 
on the 2l8t not a sound was to be hearcL The line reported 
all quiet. I went upstairs out of the dugout A dense ground 
mist and a light north-west wind. I went back again to bed, 
and at 4.40 I was wakened by a terrific bombardment. . • •** 

Sir Hubert Gough, in his headquarters at Nesle, was 
awakened also by the same noise, information was sought 
by telephone, and a few orders were given. Afterwards 
nothing more could be done till infantry &hting began. So 
the General went back to bed and slept, for there would be 
time for only short half-hours of sleep liter the bombardment 
had passed into its creeping barrage, and it was important to 
keep as fresh and cool as possible. 

Earthquake voices grew louder and louder as twenty or 
thirty batteries along each kilometre of German front poured 
sheUs by the thousand into our defences, particularly between 
the Rivers Scarpe and Oise, while high-velocity guns aimed 
at railways and roads far behind. Many communications 
were cut, many guns were knocked out; and let us try to 
make real to ourselves the fact that the twenty-one divisions 
in line on the fronts of our Fifth and Third Abmhes had each 
either two or three battalions under shell-fire in the forward 

As for the business of manning our battle zone, which 
began a few minutes after the bombardment started,* men 
groped through fog to their stations with sheUs screaming and 
bursting all around. A curt oath, followed by a hoarse cry 
through clenched teeth, came here and there from a wounded 
man ; or some one fell with a peculiar, double-sounding thud, 
a rifle here, a body there, and no movement afterwards. 
Earth and stones and volcanic smoke fumes spouted into the 

* For soma time this movexniBnt had been heralded by the ** Prepare for 
AUaok " order. This waa a piece of Staff work confined to the Fme Abkt 
preparations, taiA it kept the whole defence ale|rt, like the outposta oonatantljr 
manned In uiX lonea of defence. Quez writea of March 31, 1918 : '* Bad not 
the ' Prepare for Attack' warning coma in, I shoald ha^a been in pjjamaa, 
^id might poiiibly have lain in bed for two or three minutes, listanlnffqaietly 
and oomfortably while estimating the extent and intanaity of thebarxage. 
Bat thii oooasini waa diffasant, and I was up and about a ooapla of minntM 

mrtaaaant i 
L9l8i p. 4m 

after waking. Opening my door, I onooaatmd the not trnpiiaaat imell of 
la m'/m a Hiiy gaa. . . .*^— BteilnoM^a Biatfatfm, October, 1\ 


fog BB big new exatera were scooped by explosioDS in and 
between many thousanda of old ones. 

One garriaon, there is reason to believe, did not reach its 
battle station* It set out for Contesoourt, but did not arrive 
there, aeoording to a battery commander whose gans were in 
this sector. £ad at Contesooort the Qermans got into our 
battle aone, and made their wav by twos and threes down 
woody vwumpB of the Somme valley. Who knows how many 
of our men were either killed or wounded before breakfast by 
shell-fire ? 

If either Nelson or Wellington could have been present, he 
would have been appalled by the unimaginable hellishness 
invented since his day by science in slaughter ; but mankind 
being a creature of custom, routine, convention, all in war is 
right except the unfamiliar. 

The nirUdh, west of St. Quentin, at the usual hour, 
sent out a couple of patrols, each a platoon strong. One was 
a patrol from the Second Wiltshires. Out it went into the 
gathering white mist and disappeared: it was never seen 
again. The other patrol had men from the Sixteenth Man- 
chesters ; and at 4.40 a^m., when German shells began to seek 
for the lives of men, it was in no-man's-land, and so cut off. 
Then our counter-bombardment started, and the patrol found 
itself between two fires. But it took its chance nonchalantly 
—or shall we say cigarettefully f^lodgiug from crater to 
crater ; and after seven o'clock it made ite way back into our 
forward lone, where it fought all day long ; and then, with 
half of its men lost, it withdrew into and Uirough the battle 
aone. Was it all that remained of the Sixteenth Manchesters ? 
From eig^t battalions in the frx>nt zone of Maxse's Corps, less 
than fiftv men returned. All had fought to the very last 

The bombardment fell on many wide spans of front, strik- 
ing broadly east and north-east it Beims, and also here and 
there between the Scarpe and Lens. Our positions from south 
of the La BaBn6o Canal to the Biver Lys were profusely 
shelled with gas, and battery areas between Messines and the 
Ypres-Comines Canal were actively engaged. Dunkirk was 
bombarded from the sea ; and Ludendo^ in his first bulletin 
made astute reference to the firing duel in Belgian Flanders, 
on both sides of Beims, in the Champagne, along the Lorraine 
front also, and at Verdun. ''Our artillery,'' he said, "con- 
tinued its destruction of enemy in&ntry positions and batteries 
before yerdun.** 

These were diversions to detun the Franco-British 


r88erye& Soaih of the Scarpe as far as La F^re, the shelling, 
carefoUy disciplined, was in deadly earnest Byng's Army 
grew taut and keen throughout its ten line divisions : and 
Oodgh's Army, which started with aboat 66,000 infantry in 
first line, and about 16,500 in reserve, was ready. Owing to 
the fo^, our airmen oould not go out to attack all enemy 
battenes in action and troops on the mova* 

While the artillery work continued, many German divisions 
trudged from anti-aircraft shelters to iheir places in the 
storming line, or from villages in the rear to their support 
stations. Now and then a British shell tore gaps in the 
marching ranks. Secret night marches to the battlefield 
must have tired a big percentage of men in each battalion. 
Divisions chosen to begm the battle were disposed variously 
for attack, but the formation most often used was this : two 
regiments in the front line (six battalions) and a regiment 
(three battalions) in divisional reserve. A rwiment was 
echeloned in depth, having, as a rule, two battalions in first 
line. It was reinforced in numbers more or less strong with 
elements from the following units: companies of storm- 
troops, companies of pioneers, companies of flame-throwers, 
and mine-throwers, and cyclists ; also one and a half extra 
machine-gun companies. A brigade's reserve seems to have 
had an independent detachment of two <7clist companies and 
an assault company. Half an hour after the attack bc^^an, 
and at arranged times through about three hours, a division's 
artillery — ^twelve field batteries and six heavy batteries — ^were 
to be moved forward. 

During five hours of intensive bombardment everfr unit in 
these German forces moved in the white fog, leammg from 
oflScers how the shelling advanced through its seven stages or 
periods. Every fixed tiurget was known to the German 
gunners ; its position had been accurately mapped and its 
range oorrooUy measured : the errors of each Gennan gun had 
been noted and tabulatea, and allowed for when firing, Uke 
orriim of the day caused bv wind and atmospheric density. 
In Mn way It was possible to determine, by means of simple 
Ukh\^ fur M\y gun at any time, how mudi snould be added to, 
iir tiiilil)rmtt0(i ri'om, the normal elevation of any target. Of 
iiuiUbUj Mm}iii liad to be faultless, and among the necessary 

 Dui HiiiuM Mftroh 10, two houn btfora dftwn erery day, «irplAno patrols 
o( Iha i)'iiPrM Ammv had raoonaollrad tha Garznan front syttem as far back aa 
a gfiunral liaa, aliuut tbraa milai Mat of our outpotts. Flans ware employad, 
iiu( il wa« liapoMilUa to mo Otcmaa motaniMiti atong roads. 


preUminaries was the determination tri^nometrical and topo- 
graphical of all battery zero points on tne ground. The most 
watehfol care had to be shown in marking targets on maps, as 
determined by sound-ranging, flash-spottmg and aerial pnoto- 
graphy. What infinite patience ! Ludencbrff says tiiat this 

new artillery procedure set gunners bv the ears, particulariy 
the senior gunners, bat that it fulfillea all expectations." 1^ 
exaggerates, for a good many of our guns had been moved to 
alternative positions not yet discovered by the enemy. 

At firsts for two hours, the German gunners searched for our 
guns; then for thirfy minutes, going through three periods, 
one half of the bombardment fired gas and high explosive 
shells into our infimtry positions, while the other half went 
on with its attack on our guns and mortars. Afterwards, 
through a hundred and forty-five minutes, spedal parts of our 
infantiy defences were ransacked by every German gun that 
did not belong to the counter-battery groups ; and hundreds 
of mortars, heavy, medium, and lights took part in a crescendo 
of studied fire ; light morta^rs beginning to bark thirty minutes 
before a creeping barrage started to travel from our outposts 
up the forward zone to our line of redoubts at the fiur ena and 
urther west 

We must linger over this routine because it was the most 
important fiictor in the foe's opening assault Ludendorif 
thouffht of it with great anxiety during his preparations, and 
his chosen storm troops practised with abarnigeof live shells, 
in order that they mieht learn to keep dose benind a creeping 
protection which exploded violently. They were trained to 
advance in a thin wave constantly renewed fix)m behind. In 
all the German training loose formations, with infantry 
group tactics carefully worked out, were compulsory. 
Ludendorff said : '' We must not copy the Allied mass tactics, 
which offer advantages only in the case of untrained troops." 
As it was quite impossible for him to foresee what form the 
fighting would take when his infisLntry emerged from the 
protecting barrage, anxiety caused him to be present at various 
exerdses and to converse with many regimental officers. He 
discovered that it was not at all easy for his troops to adopt 
the open formation which he held up to them as essential. 
Bight up to the middle of March every moment of time 
available for training was urgently needed for attack 
rehearsals, in which every in&nti^ group was expected to act 
with swift initiativa 

The barrage caused the greatest worry :— * 


'' It was evident that the closer the infantry could keep to 
the barrage, the less time the English would have to leave 
their dugouts, and the more chance there was of surprising 
them in their dugout& ^ Consequently the barrage must not 
advance faster than the infantry could follow. This pace had 
to be fixed beforehand, for, in spite of hard thinVing and 
experiments, it had been impossible to discover any means of 
controlling the barrage. The nature and state of the ground 
had also to be considered, as regards their effect on the 
infantry's advance and the consequent pace of the barrage. 
Stronger lines required a more prolonged bombardment, and 
the barrage had to dwell on them longer. So it came about 
that an advance of one kilometre (eleven hundred yards) 
required as much as an hour. It was always a great mis- 
fortune if the barrage got ahead ; the attack was then held 
up only too easily. It could not be brought back agun 
without great loss of time, and the infantry suffered losses 
which it was the duty of all commanders to avoid." * 

In these time matters, happily, fog was a great help to our 
defence, impeding the attack when it passed over trench 
systems ana over around profusely cratered with shell-holes, 
while the routine barrage thundered onward. As the range 
increased shorter range c^uns dropped out, so the barrage grew 
thinner and thinner, tul at last, beyond extreme range, it 
ceased, leaving the fog-bound attack unprotected. Some 
artillery was moved up as rapidly as possible to support a 
further advance, but hitch after hitch was inevitably happily, 
in such a fog and across ground which in peace manceuvres, 
aided by broad daylight, would have b^en indescribably 

A regular scheme for bringing up a large force of artillery 
and even larger masses of ammunition had been prepared, but 
Lttdendorff savs that often too many guns were pushed up 
compared witn the ammunition that could be brought in 
wheeled vehicles over shell-holes and the Qerman and British 
systems of trenches and wire. Vast quantities of sear were 
needed to bridge the defensive belts. No one could see what 
was happening fifty yards away ; and, happily, few German 
divisions knew anything about the country ahead of them. 
They had been trained to diow initiative anywhere except 
in a fog. Even our own men felt lost on ground that they 
knew perfectly. Thus, at 6.16 a.m. the commander of one 
battalion, the 2/Fourth Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, 

* Lttdsndorfl, toL il», p, 679. 


had a baffled adventnre. He was in the forward zone of the 
Sixty-first^ holding Enghien Bedoubt with a company. He 
had orders to leave his redoubt if a great deal of gas collected 
there ; and cas becoming worse and worse, he went out in the 
fog to see whether he could move his company to Champagne 
traich, a better spot Though the Colonel knew bv neart 
every nook and comer in his neighbourhood, he lost his way 
before he had ffone fifty vards; and it took him about fifteen 
minutes to find his way oack. He and his men remained in 
the dugout, with gas olankets put down, knowix)|r that the 
Germans would not attack until they believed i£ gas had 
cleared away. But an officer went up frequently to put his 
ear on the bombardment. 

At half-past seven gas shelling ceased, and Enghien 
Bedoubt was pounded with high explosives fix>m four 
batteries. Shell after shell exploded, above all in the quarry, 
a space about fifty yards by sixty. 

Nearly two hours later there were barrage symptoms east- 
ward that an attack through the fog had beffun*to plav at blind 
man's buff with Destiny. How soon would it reacn the line 
of eiffht redoubts ending the forward zone of Maxse's Corps ? 
Womd the attacking troops have courage enough to keep 
dose to this exploding bamer of projectiles ? Every one under- 
ground in Engnien Bedoubt made ready for a rush upstairs.* 

The barrage passed over : and when our men came up 
they had to grope their way to their lonely poets. 

To be unable to see more than a few yards was a great 
ordeal — sometimes too g]raat — when a company of young 
troops in a redoubt was divided between many isolated posts, 
and attack came all at once from many quarters, with 
the hiss and pin^ of bullets. A brave officer. Lieutenant 
Bassett^ fell, shot m the head. Not a German could be seen ; 
and for several minutes the garrison groped with strained 
eyes into the f og^ and breathed almost as swimmers do when 
tued and cold. 

Near the quanry was a sunken road connectinff Fayet on 
the east with JSoInon on the south-west ; and suddenly, close 
by, some fifty Boches climbed out of this road. Bullets 
welcomed them; and about five-and-twenty went down. 
The rest sought seclusion in tiie roadway. But Fayet had 
fidlen, and just beforo ten o'clock the foe entered a part of 
Eoj^en Bedoubt^ capturing tiie sandpit. 

^ I bsfe diftWB a d«tafl«d map o! ICtSM'i Oorpt, •■ wsU m a test-map of 


At once a bombing^ reprisal was arranged. It went 
briskly, led by Captain RowDotham, and the sandpit was our 
own again. Only five posts now remained in ttie enemy's 
hands ; the rest of Enghien was Oxford and Bucks. 

Soon after eleven o'clock the Germans tried their luck 
with bombs, aRsailing from three sides, and with a skill that 
looked menacing. But our men had warmed to their work ; 
their hearts were in it, for now they were freed from the 
cold, clammy demon that rules over most young soldiers 
when the blood is iced before battle by lonely waiting and a 
troubled consciousness of past joys and present dangers. Set 
firmly in a proper fighting vein, cool, firm, and fierce, they 
stopped the attack, then drove it back. 

Foiled, the enemy persisted, surrounding the whole ground 
included in Enghien Redoubt and its posts. A rear post, No. 
12, only about three hundred yards from Holnon village, was 
in the thick of it^ till a Vidcers gun shot more than fifty 
attackers. They could be seen through the fog, these dead or 
wounded men, huddled into wire entanglements. No wonder 
a Oerman war correspondent wrote of the blasts of death 
that blew around the Molnon district Twelve hours later, 
when the war correspondent of the Berlin Chxzette visited the 
scene, wounded men were still there in long lines, Germans 
on one side, our own men on the other ; and near by, in the 
sunk road, was a terrible wreckage of guns, and horses, and 
dead soldiers. For both sides had fought their best, each in 
its own way. German platoons and companies came on as 
blurred targets through the fog, and hour after hour handfuls 
of British troops held them at bay. Self was lost in duty : 
and this fact was equdUy active all along ourji/nn Une of 
redovbta. Tommy had no time to cry : ** Outnumbered 
again ! Why ? Isn't this war nearly four years old ? " 

Towards midday the fog began to shred upwards, un- 
covering Enghien. At any moment enfilade fire might com- 
mence n'om the rear. What was happening to the Fifth 
Gordons in Fresnoy Redoubt, two thousand yards northward ? 
And to the 2/Eighth Worcesters in Ellis Redoubt, about a 
thousand yards due south. Germans had passed between 
these strongholds ; but had they settled themselves in Holnon 
village? If so, nothing but a barrage from our eighteen- 
pounders could save the quarry gamaon at Enghien from 
shots in the back.* 

Some one must visit Holnon before the fog dispersed. 

* See the Map on page 71. 







Some one — ^but who? The only other offioer at Battalioa. 
H.Q. in Enghien, Lientenant Cunningham, had been so busy, 
with a bravery all of a piece with Chinese Gordon's, ihafc 
Colonel Wetherall thought it would be un£sur if he did not go 
himself. So he chose two men and stole across the strip of 
land separating No. 12 post from Holnon. The village was 

On their way back one of our men was shot, while tho 
Colonel was captured, with his other companion. Captors 
and captives made their way to a shell-hole ; and there they 
sat peaceably until a quarter to five in the afternoon. Thd 
Germans chose many things from their prisoners' pockets^ 
but found no use for the Colonel's watch. 

Cigarettes they liked very much, yet were willing to 
share them with their owner ; and Tommy also might have 
one if his Colonel did not mind. There was no unkindness, 
but just a comnulsive communism in a shell-hole while a vast 
battle rased. Jlianv bullets were flying about^ and the Bochea 
were glad to regard two prisoners as quite enough for a day'a 
peril. At a quarter to five one Gennan went away, wml& 
the others took their prisoners to the rear, passing between 
Enghien and Ellis Bedoubts towards the Faubourg Si Jean 
at St. Quentin. All at once, about fifty yurds ofl^a British 
6-inch ^ell exploded, and another was heard coming. 

The Germans ran forward to a shell-hole. Their prisoners 
ran back to Ian old trench, there to begin new adventures. 
They were surrounded by Boches, who moved here and there 
by companies and platoons. Yet all went well until they 
reached our old line between Holnon and Bound ]ffill, where 
many Germans were busy on the toil named '' consolidating " ; 
and busy so close together that it was impossible to pass 
between them. An hour toiled through its long seconda It 
seemed an eternity. At last a platoon filnished its work and 
moved off, leaving a gap through which an escape could be 
made into other haasards. 

Near midnight the Colonel reached Attilly, his brigade 
headquarters, where he got his first drink since daybreak, 
and where he learnt that Enghien Bedoubt had made a big 
name under Cunningham. Not till half-past four in the 
afternoon did the position there become hopeless. Then 
Cunningham, completely surrounded with overwhelming 
numbers, sent a telephone messam to his Brigadier, seeking 
final ordera On the ch&teau side his quarry was enfiladeo. 
What was he to do ? 


The Brigadier, Robert White, having praised a great 
defence, told Ciuiningham to oat his way oat after destroying 
the telephone gear. Farts of the redoubt were strewn with 
Qerman dead, and its garrison, in proportion to its nomber of 
men, had suffered as heavily. Qame to the last, it began to 
eat its way through, and just a few machine-gunners, with 
Lieutenant Richaras, had fortune for their friend, reaching 
our battle zone more than a mile westward. And Cunning- 
ham ? He was captured and, I fear, wounded. 

Similar great deeds, let us remember, were achieved by the 
other redoubt& En^hien is only an example. Thus the Second 
Wiltahires did theur duty with thoroughness in the Epine 
de DaUon, like the Sixteenth Muichesters in Manchester 
Redoubt ; and on the front of our Thirty-sixth Division two 
Ulster battalions were among the bravest of the brave, the 
First Royal Luiiskilling Fusiliers repulsing not less than 
twelve attacks on Fontaine-les-Clercs Redoubt, and the Royal 
Lish Rifles holding on till half-past five in the afternoon, 
when only thirty men remain unwounded. Some of these 
Royal Lrish swam the canal at night, and did well in another 
fi^t next day. And next day the Luuskillines also went on 
with their grapple, after troops on their right nad been with- 
drawn under orders. A noble defence, b v which every attack 
was beaten off. At about three p.nL the officer in command sent 
back a small party, whilst the rest fouffht grimly to the end. 

A Victoria dross was won in l£uichester Redoubt by 
lieui-Colonel Elstob, D.S.O., ILO., an officer in whom courage 
was true geniua The official account of his inspired bravery 
says : ** During the preliminaiy bombardment he encouraged 
his men in the posts in the Redoubt by frequent visits, and, 
when repeated attacks developed, conbx>llea the defence at 
the points threatened, giving personal support with revolver, 
rifle, and bombs. Single-handed he repulsed one bombing 
assault^ driving back the enemy and inflicting severe casual- 
tie& Later, when ammunition was required, he made several 
journeys under severe fire in order to replenish the supply. 

<< lluouffhout tiie day Lieut.-Colonel Elstob, although 
twice wounded, showed the most fearless disregard of his own 
safety, and l^ his encouragement and noble example inmired 
his command to ^e fullest degrea The Manchester Redoubt 
was surrounded in the first wave of the enemy attack, but by 
means of the buried cable lieut-Colonel Elstob was able to 
assure his Brinde CSommander that 'The lianchester Regiment 
will defend Manchester Hill to the last' Some time after 


this posi WM OTenome by vastly sopsrior foross, and this 
vtrj ipUuii oflker iras killed in the final assault^ having 
maintamed to the end the doty which he had impressed on 
his meib-HAanie^» ' Here we fight and here we die.' He set 
throQghont the highest example of valooi:« determination^ 
enduranM^ and fine soldierly bearing." 

After one o*elock» when the fog cleared away, airmen on 
bolh udes beoame veiy active. Our own, as nsnal^ were very 
brave ; on several occasions during the battle they prevented 
% hostile attack from develqpiiig; and as to the German 
airttten» they did not ^ in search of air-%hts, their business 
being to help their mftntrv and to ooltoct accurate news. 
Haiji says : ^ Later in the day» as visibility improved, large 
nuittbers of low-^ying aeroplanes attacked our troops and 

Their low«>flying contact patrols, aiding the attack, found 
our new Aronts too swiftly ; and their use of signal flares 
eibiiie titun careftd practice. Fifth Abmt oflBcers write and 
talk with firank respect of the foe's airmen. 


An eai'ly as midday, March 21, Hutier had found weak 
)ila(HMi (u our thin line. Southwards he captured Essiffny 
aiul W^Wtky, sirtkinff Butler's left flank and threatening 
i\\ turn Maxte*s rlgat; and northward, along the Omignon 
yuAWy, he hit the right wing;of Watts's Corps and began to 
^\m\ MaxiH^V Ivft. capturing^avl^s Hill and Maissemy, and 
imivlivtf tuwanl VlUediolles and Vermand, so as to readi the 
niv^lMut lualn road to Amiens. In the afternoon it was 
aui^Utftivl ttil^t Watts should try to retake Maissemj after 
KUnmt had |mshed the enemy ftt>m a commandingposition on 
M«i» M||U K^mud Wtween Maissemy and Holnon Wood.* 

*rhU HiUok \Huran at 6.10 p.m., the 2/Fourth Boyal Berk- 
Mhlum HMiHMuilivg Uie hlghlsnas from Hill Redoubt towards 
KUlMumy Ul\lm»^ The heroic Colonel Dimmer, Y.C., another 
\m\\ uf lu«|4iHHi e^nuiigei was leader. Unfortunately he led on 
UMi^i^U^tk. aiul WM snot through the head at a verv short 
ilUUiuiM mmi the Oeriuan trenches. His groom also was 
)k\\M i^\\\\ hU ImrM Mainly because of Dimmer^s death, a 
U\W\ hum, th«k attnek hUledl and the Berkshires withdrew 


Let it be remembered that every infismtry brigade in action 
was eompoeed of two, and not four, battalions, one battalion 
having oeen lost with the forward zone, and in Febnuuy, 1918, 
all British infiuitry brigades had been out by a battalion 
apieee. By this diminishing economy, which came from the 
ijrmy Council, nothing at all ^ood was done. As soon as 
the battle began every Brigadier felt the need of a fourth 
for counter-attack. The whole system of roti^emen^ 
disordered, and no battalion liked to leave its own brigade 
and the traditions won by it during the War.* And another 
point of equal importance must be stated candidly. Several 
of Gough's divisions had been with him only a very brief 
time. The Fiftidk^ for example, was allotted to the Fifth 
Abmt only about a week before the battle began, and it 
remained £ur in the rear, and also under G.H.Q.'s orders, till 
the 21st of March. This was a great handicap, as the Fiftieth 
had no chance of learning to feel at ease in the systems of 

Every soldier in a defensive battle should understand not 
only the relative value of the lines to be held, but also, of 
eoorse, what will happen if the foe captures or outflanks a 
dangerous portion of any main line, and there are no reserves 
to &ve Imn out. When divisions are hurried into action 
from a long distance, they cannot leam these things ; they 
are aliens in the defensive zones. 

G.H.Q. was fond of moving divisions from one coxps to 
another. This was keenly felt all throueh the war. Divisions 
were thrown into battle, offensive or defensive, under corps 
commanders who did not know them ; and, of course, these 
divisions were unacquainted with their new chiefs, who had 
varying methoda And thejr were supported by stran^ 
artulery — another weakening influence. The Australians did 
so well mainly because they maintained the corps organization 
and knew their oonunander and their gunners. Much strength 
would have been added to the Fifth Akmt if every one of its 
few divisions had been in its ranks for three or four months. 

When evening came the position was more menacing. 
Hutier had pressed some hundinads of yards — ^from four to six 

^ Hilg't ofltfoinn if pointed: **Apsrt from the xedooiiott in fighting 
•Inaglh unrolTad hj this foofguiintiott, tho fiflkting sfBoianoj of units wm 
io mime mieni affidtd. An rnifsmHIsr groaping of nnits wm introduoad 
th«rab7, naoatdtatlng new methods of tsotiosl handling of tho trooos snd 
ths disestding of old mothods to whioh snboxdinsts oommsndecs had bsen 


«•% ifj««r«.t:%4. ;^fi^:r^ ^iqCf isBigf finoftt^ 

,^ I ill .*J ^ .?««& 

««^ ^rftMst ^w ^Mft MBit <&«ivt all hf 

^. .«««^ ^kiM^ir'^ i^ 1^ XiKB»» n*^^ and 

^^.^. ft a«» :Mfittd aott^ imi m saj^iort 
4;,^^ i^ ^1^ ^itt(gmi^ wnJuf li w it -Oalooel 
*^ .«^ Ml Mxrufi aonii iftTaded the battle 
\^ • ^, .M«s. j*d ;tp bT the BWith Rifle 
. ... «^ v«u pwpMTta hefcce the batUa 
,^iMusip a6Q«l 400 yards west 
|g» 'mat 3(N> to 000 yards west 
tTL U4^ -iH^ IMtto swayed till night- 
. !^.4i^ >wiiailvteaaahoat noonday, and 
v-^^* w^, v^ jbe aitte ba t ta lions forming 
, ,^5v *j*4**--v*>»^ -RiiHewirt Division, only 
^^«.M^ai s^ oMve than a hundred each. 
^ ,.„«tw v«tfv hMTi^, two battalions— 
, . ^ x^«^«^ ELBL— being wiped out^ ^Mirt 
^ . .. %ui&d itt the Trsnsport Camp at 
^^ ^«uca :}l^iihe ESfi^th KB. was ordered 
' U\. vi^^it litte* (behind the Crosat 
,.^ >^ ::i;uiKw) : 1^ t^s movement was 
^' . -sVMisk (baiika ehiefly to good rear^ 
^ ^ . cs ^^HK A. TwM^yson, kuled a few 
'\< K-^Nv*^ Mo^abriUiantoounter^ittack 

X ^^ .***Ni* ^ IMiaw; •».«tlM btoMtw of th« 

VBOST or tea noHnsBTH vmnxm 4T 6 r.ic« or iubcb 9L 


at Flavy-Ie-MarteL For the rest, the foe did not enter Clastres 
till after 2 a.nL on March 22. 

As for Lee and the Eighteemih, though they had a very 
wide front of about 9500 yards, stoetchin^ from a point just 
north of Travecy to a point that fietced the German line at 
Alainconrt, thev managed to keep their deep battle ssone 
everywhere, and several strongholdiB in the forward zone held 
out all day, though four German divisions did their beet 
Even at midnight rifle-fire was heard from one of the forward 
redoubts manned by the Seventh Buflb ; and another redoubt 
— ^it was '' Dublin, headquarters of the Seventh Buffs — with 
a garrison of cooks, pioneers, sanitarv men, and a few stragglers, 
b^t off several attacks in the artemoon.* Briefly, in the 
grapple against the Eighteenth German Army, the EighteeoKlh 
Division was to our southern front what our 18th Corps 
was fiause to fieice with St. QuentiiL It resembled a well-built 
groyne thrust into a high tide. 

And our artillery ? Its officers and men were usually as 
good as their guns. Thus Captain Haybittel of " C " Battery, 
83rd Brigade, RF.A., put up a fight by which the left of 
the battle zone of our 8rd Corps was Kept safe through a 
critidd time. About noon most of his guns south of Benay 
were rushed in the fog, yet he managed to remove their breew 
blocks, and also to form up his detachments along the Benay- 
Hinacourt road, where he held a bitter attacK for several 
hours with rifies and a machine-^un. At the same time he 
guarded his rear with two madime-guns, firing at German 
masses who were leaving Lambay Wood. And later, when he 
was cut off from these two euns, Haybittel took up a position 
in their defence and checked the foe till nine in tne evening. 
In all 1900 rounds were fired, and there can be no doubt that 
the foe's casualties must have been severe. 

A Kiel paper published from its war correspondent an 
artillery battle-picture full of truth : — 

''Our men tdl me of a heaw English battery which 
continued coolly to fire behind our d^ennan line when our men 
were already a hundred yards from the guns. Finally the 
gun crews jumped to some machine-guns which were in 
position for defence at dose quarters, and blazed away for 
all they were worth until overcome by the storming 

* Th68e four diTiiionB were 0%jV% Tu)o Httndnd amd EkmUfh ^^ 
CosU's Thirty'fimrih, TMriy-MMiUi^ Mid SimdNd ami TMrd* 



For the rest, a battle line with damaged flanks needs 
ite care. Happily the body of our defence — Maxse's 
Corps — ^remained powerful all day. Its battle sone, with 
fifteen redoubts in it, was almost intact There was a flaw at 
Contesoourt and another at Boupy, but as yet neither caused 
much anxiety. 

At Boupy and Savy, where Qerman tanks led the attack, 
at first witn success, w illiams fought finely with the Thirtieth. 
At midnight the Seventeenth Manchesters and Second Bedfords 
held the whole of their battle positions, while the Second Torks, 
after a hard struggle asainst big numbers often renewed, had 
lost no more than theur firont and support lines, retaining 
their keep. Two hours later our lost trenches in this sector 
wero recaptured by the Nineteenth Battalion of the Kincf s 
liverpool Beffiment, apart from a small span of ground in me 
firont line on both sides of the St Quentin-Bouny road. 

Williams had twenty-four machine-guns well posted in his 
battle Bone, and their teams had deep dugouts, trom most of 
which the ffuios could be fired. They suffered little from 
casualties during the bombardment: and their turn came 
when the foe, after pushing patrols forward, assailed the 
battle lone, coming on in waves sometimes, and soocietimes in 
small columns that bunched. 

Into these large-moving taigets our machine-gunners 
fired, one gun using in all al]^ut 12,000 rounds, and two others 
about 86,000. Attack i^ter attack was shattered, and the 
many Qermans who clustered into the quarry on the north- 
east of Boupy had terrible experiences, bullets ripping through 
them and strewing the ground with many dead and woundM. 
Yet the Gennan attadc did not give in. It went below 
ground into trenches, or sought shelter behind ridges, and 
rallied itself for another grapple. 

If Gough had had reserves enough to replace the first day's 
heavy caroalities, and also to drive Hutier from Haissemv, 
Bssigny, Bena^p, Quessy, and Far^^ers, our position would 
have been qmte jrood ; but, as Haig says, ** the forces at the 
disposal of the Fifth A&ht were inadequate to meet and 
hold an attack in such strength as that actually delivered by 
the enemv on its firont "" I%e position being very bad after 
the day^s losses, Gough came to a decision aspainful as it was 
wissL Ha decided to withdraw his 8rd Uorps— ButlerV 


id the CroBi Cinal. and to move the right divisicnt of 
Uaxse'e tro(^ bebind the Somine m br u Fontaine-Ies^ercs, 
'BJB ri^i wmdd be ovenrtiehiied if it stood still with its back 
olose npoB the canaL It moat bend at once, bat conld it 
stietiih with aaiety ? Had it men enoogh ? 

At pEOBoit Botltt'e Corpe had caly a eavaliy division in 
reserre, and it had lost a great many men. Few reinforce- 
ments eoold be upeoted with absolate certainty, beeanse there 
mi^t be an attau north of the La Baasde Cuul, where the 
memy had made reparations, and because another offensive 
was mepared on toe Bums front. 

"It eoold not be determined with eertaioty that this was a 
feint until the attack npon the British had bem in progress 
for some days. Tbo enemy mif^t have employed a portion of 
his leeerves in this ntetmsl sector, and the knowledge of this 
poaaibility neeemarily inflaenoed the distiibation and utili- 
Eatiuiof the French reserves." * 

Bven if ciroamstanoes were favourable, British divisions 
eould arrive only one by one and at intervals of two or three 
days. F^rendi reinforcements woold oome as soon as possible, 
bat arriving hurriedly from afu- they woold not have their 
gone and transport, and at first their signal and staff organisa- 
tion would be sketchy or improvised. Handicapped by this 
want of neoeesary equipment they woold be faoe to face with 
Hatier's enormoos pressure. How, then, ooold they do justice 
to themselves ? Still they would lose no time. Our Allies 
never hoodwinked themselves when they employed the word 
" vital " in military phrases. They knew that every part of 
the Franoo-Flemish mmt was vital, because, if any part of it 
were overwhelmed, the effect on other parts would be 

As Qermany's power b^an to crumble away as soon as the 
Bulgarian front was shattered, so the Allied power in the 
west would have crumbled away if any part of its front had 
been annihilated ; and French oEBcers knew that Cktugh was 
perilously ondertnanned oa a front forty-two miles wide 
Hpanning the heart of France. 

To many Frenchmen the battle against HuUer is known 
as the battle of Fioardy,and such in tnith was its geographical 

No doubt the first day's results were a failure to 
Ludendorff and Hutier, who neither crossed the Crozat Canal 
on the south nor reached Vermand with their right wing. 
• Hklg'i DbpMoh. 



bat yet it was a tragical dav to us, the attack having 
peQetrated at those points which were most npsetting to the 
>^lfl^i«iA of our defence, while imposing very severe losses on 
oar slender brigades.* 

Qoogh was aided greatly by Batler, whose judgment was 
cool, dear, and firm ; and Butler's divisional commanders iJso 
were undismayed by their attenuated front of 80,000 yards, a 
front only 16,000 vards less than that which was guarded by 
the whole of Byngs Army. Tet little honour has been paid 
to Butler^s Corps. 

Few persons think under the form of visual conception ; 
so few persons see that when only three infantry divisions, 
aided bv some excellent cavalry, have to hold in a great 
battle 80,000 yards of vital front, their re^nsibility tiirough 
a critiod day is tremendous, and even tembla That BuUer 
and his officers handled their brave troops well is proved by 
the fact that the enemy was unable to press far beyond 
Essigny and Benay, though these strategical villages were 
captured at about midday. 

As for the withdrawal by night across the Crozat Canal, 
it went off well, and eased an excessive strain after grave 

^ LiodflDdoifl bfllitTM thftt loiDOO in a loiisftliiiff ^ff#n 4w u» hMvlar ihftii 
tboM of AD ftdruidDg Altook, pftrily beoaoBe «U priaonen token %x% m daadto 
ihair ildat lor the rati of the w«r. He wye that Ub loesea in the aatnnm of 
1918 wace mnoh heavier than ihoee whioh he sofiered in his 1918 aMaoks. 
And O^ntel Ifangin hae giTon Frenoh flgoree io prove thai it is more ooetly 
In raanaltleB to loae liuid than to gain or regain it. Bat rarely this matter 
depends to a great extent on the speed of an advance, very slow progress, as 
In the mnddy and blood vYpres salient, being mnoh more harmful to storming 
troops than a rapid advanoe would be, above aU after an operative break* 


hutier's attack koyes on to bb baffled 


IF we wish to see great magnitude in focus, and correct 
peispectivey we most move away from immense things 
till their details combine into groups and masses^ 
becoming not more noticeable than are twigs and 
leaves in the fomee of noUe trees. As a landscape painter is 
concerned with we beautiful varied channs of foliage^ not 
with leaves, so historians, if ihm know their art^ pass from 
items into the ffreat sweep and bulk of those generative 
happenings which gather slowly to a climax and then break 
up into new and rival movements, whereby tbe future will be 
shaped. But details of war touch the heart so keenly, while 
moving the bias of patriotism, that few persons wisn to see 
recent big battles largely and truthfully, each in its own 
amplitude, with the root causes of its vicissitudes. 

Apply these reflections to Hutier's attack. Of what does 
the main stoiy of this attack consist ? Are we to see how the 
fight raged from hour to hour and day to day ? No. Daily 
bulletins amplified make a diary of the battle, so congested 
with scattered details that each day is a lesson in the anatomy 
of war, not an act in a vast drama. OfScers go to school to 
this diary, pondering over minutise, noting lessons, and 
tabulating them for methodical use in the traimng of platoons, 
companies, battalions, and divisions. 

We studied the first day for two reasons. Hutier expected 
to make big gaps north and south of Maxse's Corps, and the 
first day of an oflTensive usually governs later events. On 
March 21, Ludendorff and his agents missed their stride in 
many places while doing about a half of their planned day's 
work ; and before they could recover from the first dismay 
caused by this ciroumistance. General Gough, by night, had 
withdrawn his endangered right behind the Oroiat Canal and 


Bome miles of the Sommei patting a perilous new beginning 
before his foes, who had learnt what their losses had been ana 
how their leffions had been disordered by fog and over- 
thronged fighting. By good fortune, too, the seoond day was 
foggy till about one o'dock;* so our damaged lines were 
hidden, and a storm of machine-bullets ravaged the attack 
when Hutier*s men, after many terrible attempts, managed at 
Isst to cross the canal, sometimes on rafts, and to gain a 
shallow firm footing on the western sida And in anotiier 
matter the fog was as a grey-white shield to our defence. It 
prevented Hutier^s infantry from seeing their storm troops. 

Note carefully this fact about storm troops; it is very 
important. The British Higher Command had copied many 
thuigs from German war, but they had not copied what our 
foes regarded as the most valuable agency in tneir attacks — 
the enei]0etie use of storm companies and divisions: men 
specially brave and trained, and proud of themselves. Their 
purpose was twofold : not merely to storm and to be physically 
fit for grave stress and strain, but also to be seen by the 
masses behind them and to inspire emulation, as officers do by 
leading and showing the way. They were ordered to go on 
and on till they encountered a line of resistance ; and then, 
after sending up white lights, were to strive hiurd to hold 
firmly till the masses arrived, or enough men had made their 
way *Dy threes and fours to their support. They obeyed this 
planned routine, and our officers — ^wno hate cant as much as 
they like pluok--admire the German storm troops. 

In the use of storm troops there are some aisadvantages^ 
no doub^ since they are the cream of a nation's bravery ; and 
most British and JVench officers believe — and the French 
have employed storm troops — ^that the cream should be kept 
in the milk. But we are dealing here with German action& 
Our enemies had a £uth in storm troops that increased, partly 
beeaose they wished to avoid excessive losses among young 
levies and Uieir officers; and it is also true to say that better 
soldiers than the German storm divisions did not appear 
daring the war.f 

• Ths te tn sU ita basrin^i on ftlia Uitla ii oonsUUred in Put L 
t LodsDOorll, when ngreitiiig his hslf-foooeu in the hys Vftllej, which 
ioUowwi iha flifsnfci of MftKoh, 191S, placet amoiu the omiee ilie ftot that his 
men were not elonn tsoofe. It it quite probftUe that if we hed employed 
gpuMi aiiaTilt oompenieB and diviaione, the loeses unoagonr inTmlnahle eabi. 
pntentlsl WeUinotons, many of them— would lia^ mmhi lees wsstefnl end 
heeil SMmMnfl Senaany besan to loee too many oiBoen as soon as her 
armies wan ndnead by attrition to a militia recently trained. In every 


T#<k V«l slovtt troops advaadng in a foff 7 What would 
ibt^v K^ W 1^ ■atfwwT behind them ? like dectric lights in a 
t^'C *« ^isiitt^ influence half useless. The ruck of Hutier's 
4xvv^^>tt» «i^w them not; so their casualties were the more 
i^^irtv^Ht to Hatier and tiie more helpful to our defence, the 
v^^ v>f attack becoming ever more of a ruck as fresh storm 
tavs^ Wcame fewer and fewer. Not once in the first three 
^^y« wtitt the ruck of Hutier*s divisions led by storm troms at 
Ky «M^) and momentum against any chosen place of our 
t\>^^yyu lin^ ; Mxd this great {pKxl thing we owe in part to the 

SM^^ \if lUind man's buff that the atttusk had to plav against 
^)K bulit^tfi» trenches, shell-holes, barbed wire, and in part 
t\^ thi^ (kct that no stage of awr retreat mu pui of too long, 
^H«l lAfi <i<{«Ninoi became leg-tired, ratUed, and irritable wUh 
i\\^i ki^fm and ^fforte. 

\\\ U\v^ days our men fell back a very considerable 
vlWUiUHK lluUer advanced with his right wing to and along 
ihn Viirinand* Amiens road as far as the Somme, west of 
Hk V\\vi^i and Brie; a distance of 26,600 yards. His centre 
i^M^oiu^l iho Somme between Falvy and the west of Ham; a 
^linUnof) of 80,000 yards in the deepest place. His southern 
H«l\HUO<t had formed two bridgeheads: a shallow one south 
\\t \\^\\\ and the Somme, and a deep one west of Crozat 

Tho otH>Mtii|r at Ham, March 23, was a nasty blow. On 
\\\\\ iii'tiviouH ni^ht, when our front troops were withdrawing to 
t ltd liiiiMitus a iiap formed in their line in the neighbourhood 
III lUiM, anil the foe, followiM closely, entered the town 
\\\s\ IMH tht» i*arly morning. Before midday bodies of German 
tMhMili V, at llt^l only in small numbers, ^t across the river 
iuilWMtth Wmw and rithon, where the bridges had not been 
itutMhliMi^ly iliMitthiyttd. In the afternoon, these forces became 
MlhiMa MhoU|{h tiradiially to press back our troops, till a 
nmIiUimI mmnii^i attack by the Twentieth end Bixty-Jiret about 
VndHlitiiH h^Mtoii^d thii aituation in this locality. Totheeastof 
IIUi< luilhl, himvy (tifhUng took place both around Ollesy, which 
(liM hhitf lii&tii kv^mUxM and held till a late hour, and also 
HiMUMii AMltluMV and llrouchy. The attack was reinforced, 
MMil h|. IhmI, HMniiHi iiiKhti ihoae villages fell into the enemy's 


SVm Imhi nnw tn the Oerman bridgehead west of Crozat 

mhu\ h9 MtN w«y dN AIIU4 WMttslltoi wtcs toe Ugh, loo ttteafs^Ml while 
lit. Mhmmhh whv« hhIi null littttM Ibo q«Nlloa of ttorm troopi Is oMiila lo 


Canal. After eaptariiur Jaasy. the foe hxA tracked oar with- 
^wal wertw»a 6000 yards ; after eroasing the canal at 
LieB» he had followed us 10,600 yarda ; and southward he had 
captured ViUequier-Aumont In ihe south, also, aided by 
Gayl, he was pressing down to Chauny. To meet this grave 
throat, some French troras arrived on the third day, coming 
at full speed, without their guns and administrative equip- 
ment. Their business was to nelp our reinforced cavahy and 
the lanff-€uffering Fifiy^eighth^ whose elastic units had urgent 
need of help.* Chauny was on ihe way to Manicamp, and 
Hutier hoped that Gayl and the German Sbvxnth Aaht, 
after a complete fareak-ihrough« would be able to thrust south 
and south-west from Manicamp, in conjunction with the same 
preesure from his own troops Doth in the Noyon region, and 
also south of the Qise at Yaresnes and Pontoise. Afiiogether, 
then, on the evening of March 23, when the first phase of the 
battle ended, the situation was dramatic. We had lost three 
pontioiiSy our forward zone, battle zone, and incomplete rear 
lines. But land lost bravely and without strategical disaster is 
not a hostage riven to defeat ; it is an investment placed with 
skill in compmsory prudence, and recoverable. And now let 
us note what had happened to Hutier^s best men, whose loss 
eould not be recovered by him and Ludendorj£ 

Fbst^ then, Hutier had thrown already into his first 
line efforts to break through not less than fifteen of his own 
divisions and Gayl's four, nineteen in all, with their storm 
troops ; and his losses, though not even half so great as our 
raopagandists declared (as u to make the German advance 
looK superhuman), must have given him many disquieting 
hours. When very large armies are taken from the ordinary 
manhood of a country, they have in them the defects of 
ordinary manhood, containing so many men who need 
incessant watching by junior and non-commissioned officers 
that severe losses among the best men, picked fighters, cause 
much anxiety even when an advance keeps to its time-table, 
and when the general casualties do not exceed the forecasts 
of military auditors, who have studied earlier offensives 

* On Hank SS, tioopt of tliii diTlilon did InndaAble work, when the f oo 
tritd lo «RMi tho OroMt Osnal on niflf, nndar oof«r of mftohino-giuui snd 
Iwnoh nwrtsri. Al one p.m. lie nisdo tbe psMage ftl Qnea^, snd want on 
towsids yooai, until Oslor held him np st Tmnior. ItwMnotnntU e?«ning, 
tlltr msay ooiHy oflorti* ibtA ho otptnred Twgnior, lais than • mUa wwt 
ol CkoMi OtML Whnt oonld hsYS Msn more ndoehle to the Allied eenee 
then wee thie pwdoagid leiiitenoe etsmoet oritioel timesnd ptooe? SqneUy 
veloehle work wte done hj the SightmUh Diyxsxoh snd hj tlie Seeomd 



and have tabled in averages the killed, wounded, and 

To employ in first-line fighting daring the first three days 
nineteen highly trained and trosted divisions, and to see many 
thousands of shock troops vanish into the fog to be killed or 
wounded, must have been very harassing to Hutier and his 
commanders, whose time-table had not been kepti Their 
advance, too, long before it had reached Noyon, tne first of 
their prime aims, was becoming dogged b^ the ruekmen, 
among whom were many who liked to dally in shell craters. 

As the advance covered a great many square miles of land, 
straggling was ea£fy. Men of combative temper went forward 
as natuiully as boar hounds do, while the dead level of 
German manhood had abundant opportunities to split up into 
differing elements: an element that looted food in villages 
and trira to find liquor ; an element of prudence that got a 
stitch in its side and was glad to keep it there ; a fussy 
element that wanted to be in force when prisoners were taken 
to the rear; and a blunt, dull, almost candid element that 
wished to be a scattered rearguard to an advance, having^ no 
willingness to win and wear tiie B.M., or Bandage of Merits a 
surgical dressing. 

Among the causes given by Ludendorff for his half-suoeess 
in the Lys Valley, you will find the complaint that his troops 
often wasted time looking for food. 

" The way in which uie troops stopped around captured 
supplies, while individuals stayed behmd to search houses 
and farms for food, were serious matters. This impaired 
success and showed poor discipline. It was equally serious 
that both our young company commanders and our senior 
o£9cers did not feel strong enough to take disciplinary action 
and to seize sufficient auUiority to enable them to lead their 
men forward without delay. The absence of our old peace- 
trained corps of officers was most severely felt . . ." 

The German troops who fought against Gough and Byng 
were specially trained, unlike those who attacked in the Lys 
Valley, but smce they had long felt many effects of the Allied 
blockade, the food which they captured in their advance must 
have been a ffreat attraction to those among them who wished 
to be laggards ; and Ludendorff says bluntly that they were 
''checked by finding provisions." He complains, too, that 
''numerous sUffhtly wounded made thii^ more difficult by 
the stupid and displeasing way in which they hurried to 
the rear." 


Hainan nature in battles will show its wondrous variety 
and its national variations, above all when bitter fighting 
eontinnes for a long time ; and discipline tries to weld aU 
dross elements into that level body of good homespun which, 
ihoQgh it soon gets ** fed up with fighting/' has a firm sense 
of dut^ and a pride always ready *' to stick it out.** 

It IS with tnese varying constituents of ordinaiy mankind, 
stiflfoned and led by the heroic minority, that a story of great 
war has to deal, unless we have uncandid minds which turn 
away from truth. Every nation in the war believed that her 
own troops were the bravest of all, and took care to make no 
printed leferences to any dross elements in her own armies, 
though courts of inquiry and published reports of their 
verdicts are invaluable as a natioxial tonic and traininj^. No 
leader in the field, whether a sub. or an army comman<^, can 
forget without danger, that the upper stratum of troops, the 
heroic minority, has always to struggle in big battles not only 
against the foe but also against theiowest strata of its own 
comrades ; and for this reason, when in a fight against unusual 
odds a defence bafBes an attack ably planned and well led, we 
may be sure that dross elements became far more active in 
the advance than in the retreat, owing partly to graver losses 
among first-rate divisions. 

According to Ludendorff, Qerman infantiy groups were 
often lacking in enterprise, and often their co-operation with 
companion arms had failed. They ** found special difficulty 
in reorganizing themselves for defence at the dose of their 
attack, and above all in recognirinR when no further success 
was to be gained by continuing the assault. . • • At many 
places madune-gun posts had given us [the German ^I'oopeJ 
an undue amount of trouble, and so caused delay." Tnis 
candour is refreshing after the camouflage which became 
habitual among all the belligerents. 

Even on March 22, Hutier had to draw upon his second 
line, the Fifth Guards displacing Webem's Two Hvmd/red <md 
Thirty-eigWi near St Simon, for example, and the Fifth 
DivisiOK relieving the Eighty-eighth among Luttwitz's first* 
line men. Not a good start, seeing that Hutier^s first line on 
March 21 had in idl eleven divisions, apart fix>m Gayl's force. 
Next day, when the resistance was local, rati^er than 
incessant and general, Oetineer had to bring up his one 
support, the Tvx) Hundred a/rut Thirty-firat, to attack on the 
west of Ham towards Eppeville; and the First Bavarians, 
piercingly ransacked by our machine-gunners at Jussy, asked 


to be withdrawn, but asked in vain, its support diTision, the 
Tenth, bein^ already active on its right i7ow Lndendorff 
desired particnlarly that the first-line divisions should fight 
on through several days unrelieved, in order that second and 
third line troops might be kept fresh and fit for swift opera- 
tive movements after a break-through at one or other of 
several chosen places. 

Hutier's cyclone, then^had been split up by rude blasts 
firom a destructive counter-wind, while a battle was growling 
through its first phase or period, without arriving at any 
point at the hour set down in Ludendorflf s plans. 

Have we got LudendorflTs time-table ? This question is 
asked frequency, and the answer to it is that there were two 
time-tables probably, one advertised to cheer up the German 
troops, and one known to superior officers alone. It would 
have been very foolish if Ludendorff had said to his men : 
" Youll meet with such a fierce resistance that you won*t be 
able to take much on the first day." Surely he would 
stimulate their confidence by saying: *Tou are splendid 
fellows, and I expect you to go &r on the first day.' In a 
French study of Hutier^s attack we read: ''L'objectif de la 
premiere joum^e £tait^ semble-t-il, d'atteindre au Nord le 
eours de la Somme, au Sud le canal du Crozat; mais en fin de 
joumfe ces objectifs sont loin d'dtre atteinte." No doubt the 
first day's work in the south was to cross the Crozat Canal on 
the line Fareniers-Iiez-Jussy-St. Simon; but the present 
writer cannot believe that in the north Ludendorff and Hutier 
really expectedtto reach the Somme between Brie and St Christ. 
This expectfition was too much at odds with western ex- 
perience to be put into a confidential time-table; and the 
pressure of Hutier's right — evidence worth trusting — showed 
that the purpose in the minds of officers was to reach 
Vermand and our Green Line offshoot running north on the 
east of Caulaincourt, PoBuiUy, and Bemes. It took a couple 
of dajrs to attain these objects, so on March 21 the attack lost 
fiftyjper cent, of time. 

Worse still, perhaps, from Hutier's point of view, were 
two other considerations. If he arrived at Noyon without 
annihilating a big part of the defence, or without enough 
storm troops and other picked men, a drive down to Compi^gne 
would be impossible; his losses might easily destroy the 
offensive value of his masses by having in them a percentage 
far too high of bom fighters, specisuly equipped by long 
practice. Then his army would need, at least, a month's rest 


for the training of new stoim troops and new machine- 
guiners, another Hite body ; and a month's rest would throw 
oat of gear LadendorflTs main purpose, a continuous campaign, 
while enabling the Entente rowers to rally from then: wst 
round, and to bring over American troops. 

B^des, the retreat was drawing nearer and nearer to 
reinforcements, nearly all French south of the Somme, but 
including the British Eighth ; while Hutier's oommunications 
len^ened over cratered land, and railways torn up, over 
roads blasted into holes, and scores of bridges blown into 
min& Thanks to thorough preparation, only six or seven 
bridges during the whole retreat were left at all fit for the 
enemy's use, hke one at Chipilly, where tibie charges failed to 
have the necessary effect ; or, again, like the railway bridge at 
PithoD, east of Ham, which, I believe, was under Q.H.Q. oraers 
in the demolition scheme. Much rallantry was shown during 
the demolition of bridgea At Tugny there were eleven 
bridges, and in one, the safety fuse having fisdled. Second 
Lieutenant Knox lit an instantaneous fuse with a match — 
and escaped almost unhurt. One bridge at Falvy, blown up 
at 430 p.m« on March 28, had the leads cut by German 
bullets; out Seigeant Crossley repaired them under fire — 
and the bridge went up all rieht. Maxse's Corps prepared 
seventy-three bridges for demmition, and only five were dis- 
appointments ; two of no consequence at Falvy, and two 
lignt railway bridges, which, though burnt, were still of use 
to inhsktrv ; fifth, a double steel lattice flirder at Ham, in 
which, probably, tiie gun-cotton slabs failed to detonate. 

Gose upon two hundred and fifty bridges were destroyed 
by our Fifth Abmt, so Hutier and Marwitz had no end of 
hindrances to get over, and always when they were most eager 
to hurl divisions into a hand-to-hand grapple. Land gained 
must have been an increasing burden to Hutier while he tried 
vainly to make real the ideal of great attack — annihilation at 
chosen places of a crumbling defence. 

All these matters belong to the prospering side of Gough's 
retreat ; and now we must be as frank towards dangerous 
aq>ectB. Take our British feeling for retreats. When have 
we been taught to remrd them as an essential and inevitable 
part of loDff wars 7 Neither we nor our armies have received 
eooog^ COM flood sense in this particular, with the result that 
the oeosaionM necessity of bending to avoid breaking is not 
accepted as a matter of course, as we accept an enforced 
change of plan in a game of chess. 


In this matter, as in many othersi the most "popnlar" 
British newspapers were a curse, teaching their reaaers to 
think that every advance was a victory and eveiy retreat a 
defeat. The propaganda of jubilant lies after Passchendaele, 
like the premature ringing of joy-bells after the first phase of 
Bypf^B blow at Camfarai, was to my mind hy8teri<»lly un- 
British, and a very bad preparation for the spring of 1918. 

Onr troops hate a retreat so ardently that, as I have said 
before, no division will ever admit that it is obliged to fiEJl 
back ; it blames a division on its flank, and says to its ofiEicers : 
^ We conld stay here as long as you like, sir. Are we in the 
air again ? I)amn ! " In Siese or in similar words, Tommy 
makes known that he is adding to the wear and tear of a bad 
time by chafing over a useful and necessary thing, the noble 
art of wise retreating. 

He should be as proud of his ability to retire ably as to 
advance finely, since an attack foiled by an able retreat is to 
the defence as a big victory of the second grade. Every foot 
blister should be as a medal to him — a proof and recognition 
of his duty done under orders, and for a purpose thought out 
with that mingling of caution and temerity which belongs to 
armed strife as to financial gambling. But in a time of head- 
lined journalism all day long, when even the taking of a 
ruined village in local fighting is profusely annotated, troops 
are misled by a propaganda uiat confirms them not only in 
their natural desire never to go back, but also in the shame 
they feel when the need of giving ground comes upon them 
in war as in football and boxm^. 

In these sports candid criticism on all points has ever been 
welcomed publicly, while in life or deaUi war defence and 
attack are usually left unaided by that degree of reasonable 
fault-finding which gives value to praise and admiration. 
Why ? Would our tn)ops have harassed themselves during a 
retreat if they had felt sure that people at home would grasp 
the need of their withdrawal, and would cheer as gladly as do 
the crowd at a cup tie when goal is relieved and a rushing 
attack baffled ? 

No such enthusiasm welcomed the second battle of the 
Somme, except from those tamed pressmen at the front who 
wrote glibly their too familiar columns for a censorship well 
known, while the official bulletins showed fear of the battle's 
maps, and the War Office issued a fondled report of its own 

Even to-day, essential moves in the retreat are questioned 


Bometimesy and sometimeB oondenmedy thonffh they had a 
marked effeet on Hntiei^e failure to achieve ue main pivotal 
MTtB of LudendorflTs plans. On March 28, for example, 
uongh retired from tiiat unfinished line which guarded the 
Somme from a point east of Boay4e-Grand» north-eastward to 
Monchy Lagaehe and Haneonrt^ thence north as a portion of 
the P^ronne bridgehead. 

In Part lY. of this book, where some controversies are 
stated and examined, these matters are shown in various 
aspects. Swiftly and bravely Gongh had to make one of 
those decisions which historians reconsider from age to am, 
and always with a new zbaL There were many reasons why 
he woold stand firm if he could, but they were cancelled as 
infiuences by one fiEMst, a fact to be put into blunt words. 
Watts could not promise to make a firm successful stand ; his 
corps was in physical condition to be overthrown by a last 
grapple against superior force renewed by fresh divisions. 
And some other troops, overstrained almost to breaking-point, 
needed rest— all tiie rest they could get— on guard west of 
the Somme. 

Behind the Somme our men took breath ; the]^ ** got their 
second wind,'* and gained invaluable time for the incoming of 
slow reinforcements. Malcolm's division, for example, whose 
brave Lancashire brigades suffered perhaps heavier losses than 
any others, guarded the crossings along the P6ronne sector 
from about noonday on Murch 28 to about dusk on the 
25tb— -with about 1500 rifies only, so severe had the losses 
been in the SioGty-maih Division. 


In the evening of March 25, Hutier closed upon Noyon, 
onty to find that he had not enough power to strike south and 
•oath* west while keeping a firm pressure along his westward* 
goin^^ firont. He maoe an effort, and then moved on towards 
Laflnsny, Oanny-sur-Mats, and Montdidier, turning towards 
the French a lengthening flank. This was a bad second best» 
and its development to March 28, when his line ran south 
and west of Montdidier and north to Marcelcave, biinffs us to 
the end of Hutier's battie, in so far as the most of Gough's 
remaining troops are concerned. 

Two other phases came, extending the fiffht to April 4 ; 
th^ were setthngKlown phases, and confirmed the work done 
mamly by two British coipei Butlei^s and llaxse's, aided by 


the right wing of Watts's troops. The bantam-weight amateur 
had roiled the heavy-weight professional, causing so many 
braises and wounds that his own battered condition did not 
seem to matter mnch. 

Let us see what Hatier's position was from March 24 to 
the evening of March 28. He had bled idl of his second-line 
divisions and a part of his reserves. On March 24, when his 
northern wing crossed the Sommei he called to the front at 
St Christ the Siidh Division, and the Two Hundred and 
Sixth went into action towards Voyennes. Two days later* 
the advance continning by Chanlnes and Bosi^res, and all 
second-line men being en^^i^ed, a reserve division began to 
fight. It was the Two Swndred omd Forly-ihird, and 
probably it relieved one of Luttwitz's, the Hwndred cmd 

The central part of Hutier^s attack met with fierce 
onposition across the Somma He was obliged to employ the 
NvrUh Division; and two units from Aimy Reserve were 
soon in battle, the Tenth BsaiSBVE on March 25, and the First 
Guards on the 27th. 

As for the left wing, perhaps its movements may have 
been more difficult, particularly after reaching the Noyon-Boye 
road. On March 25, the Gtorman Thvrty-thwL, Conta's group, 
which had been in second line north of Jussy was united to 
the ThiHy-fov/rtk and Thirty-aeveTUh, to screen a movement 
towards we north-west made by the First Bavarians and the 
Hwndredcmd Third, who were to become active again in the 
neighbourhood of La^signy. 

By the evening d March 28, Hutier had employed twenty- 
two divisions^ apart from Gayl's and Boehn's; his reserves 
were already like a half-empty barrel of wine that leaked ; 
and anxiety had caused him to summon several units from 
calm sectors of his front, the JMrd Bavarians arriving from 
St. Gobain, and the Fowrteefdh Division and Eightieth 
Kesebvb coming from Lorraine and Champagne. 

To understand how bitter these facts must have been to 
him we must remember that Hutier told his first-line troops 
of March 21 that they would haveto fight for several con* 
secutive dajrs without being relieved, and he warned his 
Oorps Commanders also not to draw hastily on their supports 
and reserves. 

As Ludendorff says: ''The German Supreme Conmiand 
attached dedsive importance to the attack being continued 
for a period of some days by divisions in the first lina^ He 


adds: ** I opposed the view that these anita abready on the 
aecond or third day should be relieved by divisions of the 
seeond wave. At the beginning of the war we had fought 
for weeks at a time without relief. Our existing troops, it is 
true, were no longer capable of such a performance. But 
even so, there was no need for such firequent relieb as many 
would have liked to see." * 

And what was Hutier to do with his wide flank extending 
from Montdidier to the south-east of Noyon and thence to 
Chauny ? To make such enormous efforts, and yet be unable 
to follow the Oise a few miles to Compiif^nel To take 
Montdidier only to be worried by the Avre bridgehead I To 
come within gunshot of Amiens — and then to stand still, 
bi^ed, completely spent I 

As Lud^dorff says in his book, the strategical situation 
was by no means favourable, though as yet a final opinion 
could not be riven on its outlook, as the German operations 
were still in uieir first stages. *' The Avre bridgehead,*' he 
writes, ''was a special difficulty in the tactical sense. The 
advisability of giving it up was discussed. But as this 
would have shown the enemy that we had abandoned any 
further attack on Amiens, we kept it . . . Strat^cally we 
had not achieved what events of the 23rd, 24th, and 25th had 
encouraged us to hope for. That we had also fiuled to take 
Amiens, which would have rendered communication between 
the enemy forces astride the Somme exceedinglv difficulty was 
specially disappointing. Long-range bombiurament of the 
railway establishmente of Amiens was by no means an 
equivalent. . • .'* 

LudendorflTs candour is manly, and it helps everj^ one to 
appreciate what Cough's generalwip and British fijghting had 
achieved when Hutier*s power was most formidable, and 
before an^r French reinforcements had its full equipments, 
either mihtary or administrative. 

It was always, or nearly always, a British order that did 
most effectively at the ri^ht moment an essential thing. On 
the sixth day, for exampk, while two French divisions were 
withdrawing south-west, and taking with them Nugent's 
Ulstermen and Maxse's artillery, a remnant brigade of our 
Twentieth fought a very valuable delaying action as it fell 
back to the line Fresnoy-Villers-lte-Boye-La Damery, and Le 

^ I&^UiiiwtEdt,lh«cswMiionioh tjiluii of diTitfooAl " lisp-teaiiBfl,'* 
M Biillah imi caamffmUaM sfetrilmltd to Lotaidorfi'i taotios ta im 

01 MABCa, 1918 

(^^M. ^^■^gin^t^ml^moAweiAerly, It had ic» 
*J"^^^ ^^^ ^^^^ 5,^ I^»« gnus, and ahoQt a hundred 

^ ^ i—i— J with diMt and Bweat. and haggard 

^^ ?^^-_ ^^i^mmt^tr. Captain E. P. Comhe was 

*^^^^^ ^ i-^ h^F— * 4*y ^ Bnnshine — thia handfiil 
y*?" "^* , .jy ,j,,M«i iihffi t T^'" C the foe till six in the 
~El?S««Kva« «t <w men and their leaders were 
.' , 'j.;^ ii«ii*«d to faht another roond, and this 
** m^^^ «^ o» till orders were received for a 
^Sm^ »ta BK^-mt to Beaufort. MeauUme, greatly 
J5_Ii ■- ^"^ • t-i^-t aland at Lo Quesnoy, other men 


_. ii, ^^ boa a poasible atladc by Franco- 
w ^"P* n,.*;-, .M (^ioed to fight on until the Lya 
■»*'°^"''^i^JlA«rVSi ■• early as March 26, 
**" *y *^ .,- r TT^ nSh to»aris Amiens, began. 
"•*"'* *'"';II1Ij a BttW towaidB the sonth-west; and 
t >e>»wa •► » » "S^j.,,,,^ .airta en his extended 

**• "^^lij-.^fc^SiS stift-* !l».ly but surely. 
*■>.««• «»• •»""'?,""__. ITC dinwaiB in aU, were 
»!« !«»«»» •-»»~*^J;j, of shock troops to brealt 
"»** ir ""^JJHSlraiaSi power. t«Md an assault 
;^„^ »»w»ii>» ""~T*"T^s.loaU«i.withavediYisiona 
S«'-««^'3iCStrf1«»SS. Bat his efforts 

>f,Vl>:j«)r»t*ir'~r^l»l.t^ British and French 

rt«lc«i««'St,'yii^rMto !>» ft""' uanower by 
™. *»•*••«• "T ~ E^Z^ ». Haiwilfct and reeeiving 

iiMiiii «k«« '•'"?"„ )i,,,i(,^^ Mrf laeeiving 
W.i.V.»-« W«*«*™^„'Si 0^ ,»»ry^ th. 
.v« W-.« » rrS Mr**^ BKDTl n«.on 

>--^' ""' .7W-«.--n- 


April 4, he and Marwitz strack together^ the greatest blow 
oomiiiff from their sphere of union, though we battle ran 
firom Moreuil down to Montdidier; but not much was 

The morningi attack, b^gun at seven o'clock, was repulsed 
by the British right; but on the northern wing, immecuately 
south of the Somme, our men were obliged to retire behind 
le Hamel and Vaire Wood« During the afternoon another 
thrust struck the British rights causing a dent in the neigh- 
bourhood of Hangard Wood, while on the French front some 
ground was lost on both sides of the Avre. 

Contrary to Ludendorffs orders and training, waves of 
attack came on in dense formation, and these targets felt the 
full force of our machine-guns and artillery. Just north of 
the Somme the Thvrd Austbaluns turned their artillery 
on the foe's attack across the river, and, firing over open 
sights with excellent effect^ were very helpful 

As a whole Hutier^s filial effort was a fiulure. It did not 
lessen anv of his anxieties. Indeed, Boehn seems to have 
supplied him with troops, for I believe that two of Boehn's 
divisions^ the Forty'Seventii Bbsxbvk and the Two Hundred 
wnd Twrnty-third, were sent to be in support near Boye. 

These particulars are very important They prove that 
Hutier oomd not recover from Oough's retreat and its results. 
It was during the first four or five days that Hutier shot his 
bolt and missed his mark. His aim was to overwhelm while 
his storm divisions were fresh and confident^ and before 
reinforcements could reach our mea^ long line running 
from the Omi^pon valley down to Banria 

These special divisions of the foe's first line had been 
trsined by Hutier himself in the neighbourhood of Fourmies- 
Chimay, his H.Q. bein^ at Avesnes, and by means of careful 
pnyag^da he had raised the ardour of bis whole army to a 
nign pitch. A French study of the batUe says with truth : * 

** Tou8 lea priaon/niera inierroaia oni dMariqu^ila avaient 
M aouienvs par la certUvde de la vvdoire et de la fin 
proehoMie de la gwerrtr 

Weig^ these words welL Hutier's army entered the battle 
to win a complete victory and to end the war. Then fog and 
heavy losses and brigades jumbled up together threw chill 

^ ^Jjm Optettons dt U ZVUl* Amte Alltmsnds (Annit Von 
dn n Mmb M SAvril, 1918.** OnodQiisrtlwQ4ii4nldMAniitedaNoxdsi 
do Notd^Ert. te-Mejor. ^ Bortao. No. 90,il9.^A holpfol tliidy with 
lesilsnt Mspfc 


Biter chin xmm its inmunoned eaiifidence» its ttdnt self- 
belief ; and then ? May a atndent yentm to exfi re w his 

belief that Hotaer ecmfoimded Goug^ with Haig ? To my 
mind there is no doobi on this point. 

Haig's rhameter in war is evident in all its actioiw. It is 
a very cold and a vary unbending restdntian, unmoved by 
those Napoleonic impolses which come from imaginative 
fevonr at a white heat ; and Hntiei^s conduct showsthat heli ^ 
thought constantly of this duunscter, till Good's fire and 
swift flexibility had baffled him several times. At aU costs, 
on the eveninfi^ of March 21, Hntier ought to have pressed his 
attack west ch Maissemy and west of Essigny and neuay, and 
also in the Crozat CSanal r^on from Faigniers north-west- 
ward ; but he paused to take breath, evidently believing that 
the Britiah would be too obstinate and that he would be aUe 
to deliver a decisive blow in the morning after his brigades 
had been disentangled. 

^ Fortunately, we were not unbendingly obstinate. Gough 
withdrew his rights and in the morning Hutier had to attack 
the Crozat Canal through a thick fog, noisy with our machine- 
^m bullets, while west of Vermand he found our newly arrived 
I'ifHeth DnnsiOK. 

Even then both Hutier and Ludendorff continued to think 
much more of Haig^s character in battle than of Gough's, 
taking their cues too confidently firom that doggedness for 
which British troops have always been famous, and which 
Haig revealed in fall measure during the Somme campaign 
of 1916 and later in the Tpres salient.* 

A paragraph in Haig's dispatdb suggests that he would 
have taken dedsive risks elang the Pfronne bridgeheadf No 
doubt the central portion of LudendorflTs ofiensive showed a 
leisurely confidence after breaching our Oreen Line close by 
Nobescourt Farm, and also at Cauliuncourt This great error in 
generalship aided our troops invaluably. It is explained only 
by the assumption that Hutier and Marwitz expected our 
men to stand for a conclusive grapple east of the river. 
Happily, Geugh had a plan as simple as it was eflfectuaL 
Knowing the physical condition of his men, he refused to 

• Britbh Empira oMOftltiM in the Ypns stlkni-Jnly 31, 1017, ito 
Nownbtt 4, UlT—wwe 1S,680 offlom snd 246,967 o«h«r nakM. Whst if 
th«M troopf had been luad with the Itslism agidnsi Anstrls ? Thsdespwi 
ftdvuoe on e nsrrow front, from July 80 to l^ovember SS, wu about 6) muet, 
from Hm Top Stan, Wiallja netor, to N.E; of Pawtohimdaali. 

t The paragr^h in qneitlon is quoted in Part IV. of this hook. 


keep his bantam-weight force where the heavy-weight pro- 
fessioiial could overpower it by incessant blows at dose 

A great many persons have said that although Hatier and 
his commanders handled their masses of troops with a skill 
which invites the most careful attention, yet they failed to 
bring their battle to a well-defined ending. No doubt this 
criticism is true. The immense attack came as a cyclone and 
blew itself out in gusts of dwindling violence ; ana note well 
that what may be called the last gast did not come from 
Hutier's army. It came frt>m Boehn s» and on April 6. 

On this date Boehn attacked on the Oise's left bank from 

Chauny to La F^re in the direction of Coucy la Yille, and 

also £Euther south. ELis object was to push the French across 

the Oise- Aisne Canal in order to give some security to Hutier's 

long south flank ; and this aim he made real For all that, 

not much ease was given to Hutier; week after week his 

long south flank was there; and Fodi gathered troops and 

made very strong positions below Noyon and thence to his 

Montdidier sector. The foe noticed this menace, and made 

preparations to ease the strain on Hutier. On June 7 Boehn 

was to attack with the Seventh Gebman Abht south-west 

of Soissons, while Hutier with the Eighteenth was to strike 

Bimultaneously between Montdidier and Noyon. Happily, 

this combination could not be brought about, as Hutier Ciiuld 

not finish in time his artillery preparations. The attack was 

postponed for two days; and we have still to learn why our 

Allies, who were well prepared and in excellent positions, did 

not crush Hutier's onset Once more the foe failed to reach 

Gompiigne, but he formed a protective salient all the way 

from south-east of Montdidier to south-east of Noyon. The 

attack broke through a most difficult trench system, advancing 

almost as fitf as Uie Aronde, and resisting heavy counter* 

attacks along the M^ry sector. South of Noyon this bulwark 

salient paased over formidable high ground just west of the 

Oise. Consider, then, what the Allied position would have 

been in March if Hutier and Gayl had crossed the Crozat 

CSanal on the first day, with the way open both towards 

Chauny and towards Noyon 1 

Again, if we ask ourselves why Hutier's cyclone blew 
itself out in gusts of dwindling violence, we come face to frbce 
with a fset which is apt to h& forgotten by those who write 
in the Press about strategy and tactics; namely, that tiie 
most important thing in war is not the brain shown in tactics 


Tietorj; xbejToavtd 

oat ardcor. Tbar vaLs vcfe not cpl 

CO fire witih that pfcoiiar Voaatt htmx viidi a gimi'itf \ie u « y 

circalates firom heiiit to bean ihroo^ a vbcC-e anaj. 

And tills cull mood behind Huoer's baxue finemsnataiml, 
ineriiaLle ; it markfui a reaeikii that aeuied cowm mpcat bis 
men after intpn«y LopefolDeBB had been th vanad again and 
again bjr Good's hfr^oir.g obstinafT, which I compare to a 
good Yew bow. Tbe big advance^ withoct a gcmiine ao ee MB^ 
was always Terj difficult* and also too costly ; and constantly 
ahead of ii^ and imhfarfn, was the Briush fine of renmani 
brigades, and the giadoal coming of Allied reinfoiceflMntB^ 

From the third day our Twentietk was helped greatly by 
two rw«ia^i^« ba tteries of the motor-madiine-gmi sort; on 
Maidi 26 seven bondred American en^rioeers joined Maxae to 
dig themselTes in on a line coTerii^ IXanoin ; and as for the 
Ffendi tnwps, firom dawn of the third day, giadoally, and in 
gieai baste, they began to anriTe, withoat guns, and with no 
more rifle ammmution than they cazried. No brave men 
eoold have been more sorely handicapped. It was imposable 
for them to be adcgnate, effectoaL i et somdiow, anyhow, 
thcgr were pat in authority over our own offices and troc^ ! 
This was done offidally on the fifth day sooth of the Somme, 
before Foch was appointed to Supreme Onmmand ; bnteailier 
it was active in a piecemeal fafthion, and always with bad 

Perhaps nothing in this battle is more distresBing, or more 
controversial, than the act of patting BriUsh officere and men 
onder French commanders before the Fraich troops were 
d jned cTcnivref on a complete war footing, with aU necessary 
e({xdymtnU, both military and admimstrative. Thus to swop 


honee in mid-stream in the presence of Hatier^s immense 

power ! What will historians think and say ? InPartlV. 

of this book there is achapter on this peculiar use of reinforce- 
ments, by which mnch confusion was caused, and which came, 
among other things, from a lack of self-control aiUside the 
battle, partly amonff those statesmen who had kept far too 
many troops in the British Isle& 

For the rest, some writers misinterpret LudendorflTs aim 
in Hutier^s attack. One of them says : — 

** The German object was not a specific break-through, but 
a general crumbling. What wrecked this object was that 
Lndendorff got the break-through, but not the crumbling." 

I see no reason why the Muse of History should stand on 
her head. Very high casualties prove that the Fifth Amnr's 
incessant peril was general crumbling. Tet Hutier strove 
▼ainly with all his might to prove that numbers alone 

In this fact we find decisive proof that Cough's orders 
were correct, and that they were carried out well by his 
officers and men. Hutier can have no excuse to offer. His 
army was first-rate; he had plenty of time before French 
reinforcements began to come up, and there was room enough 
along his front to break through a thin defence; to break 
through operatively, in wid^sweeping movements opening 
oat lixe a fiuL 





ON March 22, soon after midnight, our Fifiieth 
Division arrived at the Somme and began to 
detrain at Brie, feeling stiff, unwashed, and un- 
gnmmed. Its North TSiglish troops, coming from 
the district west of Rosi^res, had started an evening journey 
after a brisk inarch had put too much sweat into their shirts ; 
and imagine patience in troop trains I Has it not been 
described as ** strap 'angin' all in a bloomin' 'eap without any 
bloomin' straps " ? 

G.H«Q. had kept this division too far off from the weakest 
part of the Britbn fironi Two dsjs before the battle Gough 
wanted to move it up, together with the Twentieth ; so he 
appealed by telephone to G.H.Q. With what result ? The 
C.G.S. viewed his reauest as a desire to use the reserves too 
soon. In other words, the C.G.S. ran counter to a military 
maxim which says that when Generals expect to be attacked, 
they should keep their reserves at hand and entirely fit for 
battle. To keep them at a long distance from the front is to 
invite disaster. If G.H.Q. had ustened favourably to Gough's 
appeal, the Fiftieth and Twentieth would not have w&n. 
thrown into action under verv adverse conditions. 

In a great hurry, and wiw much fatigue, the Fiftieth had 
to reach those swirling borderlands norSi and south of the 
Yeimand-Amiens road, where Hutier and Marwitz united 
their attacks, striving with the utmost eneigy to separate 
Watts from Maxse, while Watts was in trouble northward 
near the Cologne River, where he and Congreve had to 
encounter flanking pressure from the south-west of Bonssoy 
and Templeux le Gu^rard. 

Neill Malcolm and Daly had done wonders onlv to find 
that their thin divisions had burned too much in the nunaoe of 



battle. Lancashire lads of the SieUy-sixA * had shown tena- 
eioos mettle* fighting as Lancashire archers used to fight when 
English longb^!^ were feared throughout Enrope : but soldiers 
all of gold pa^ themselves away in long necessary efibrts to 
do overmueh.f There had been far too much strain from the 
Qmignon vallev to the Biver Cologne— a nasty name for a 
French river when seven German divisions on a front of about 
five miles have been active for a whole day against two under- 
manned British units. Both defence and attack cursed the 
fog ; and when the fog cleared away and uncovered the attack 
all muddled up in the valleys, our machine-guns were more 
than enough to dismay the German jumble, tluit never seemed 
to know how much success it had won, and certainly it was 
very slow to profit by its gains. Benign fog I 

For a considerable time on the second day there was a 
frowsiness in the attack that came from yesterdays troubles. A 
German prisoner told Colonel Lloyd of the Ninth Manchesters 
that Marwits had no intention of attacking in the north 
sector of Malcolm's front ; enemy troops were digging trenches 
there ; and a wounded German officer declared that (3erman 
casualties from German gas had been very large on the first 
day, as the assault had begun too soon. If the German officer 
had attributed the German gas casualties to owr shelling of 
Hardcourt, he would probably have been right, as the German 
gas when the attack began was too weak to put men out of 

• MaloQlm'f IMviiioii. 

t The SMfy^Noifc foogbt oontiniimiBly from dftim, ICftcch 91, tffl the 1^ 
Uaxeh 30-81, ftad ito omnaltiiw, oonnling abo the mnl and siok, were perhapt 
the hiftTieit of any. Ite menproved thai oompeiittTe Indntirlee and belliooeo 
tade unions befriend the old British likingfor uows, braises, and battles. On 
the sizth day, lor instance, the 5ic<|MM<fc was so short of officers that its 
deple t ed companies were nierely improrised small teams, but yet they held on 
wiih a grip little slackened, as though fighting were as natural to them as that 
antomatio panting of thefr Inngs that gained lor them air enough to keep 
them allfa. BTen when they seemed to be lar gone In locomotor ataxy, they 
co ntri fed somehow to make good hobbling oonnter-strokes, as on the after- 
noon of Matoh 30. Ftehaps the best episodes of their fighting were : (1) On 
March 91, a oafahr oonnter-attack to Oarpeaa Oopse, and the holding of 
this copse nntU a withdrawal on the second day ; (9) the recovery east and 
north-east of HerriUy at about 11 aon. on March 99, which at the right 
moment delayed the German advanoe to the PAronne bridgehead at 
Kobeseoort Varm ; (8) holding the exits of Pteonne and the Tillage of Biaohes 
(this in ooBjonotion with Feetham and the TMrly-iitfiifc) ; (4) Harbonniteas, 
mTataabia aa waU as memomUy piotaresqne ; and (6) the Ust sport in 
a ooontcr-biow near Hannrd, whoi its fsggsd men advanced as lac aa 
a brigids of fraih Anstnlians, and forgot afterwards to Uow their own 
teompets. Thefr total caaoaltles daring the operations ware nearly sevea 
tlwQsaads, apart iRnn the sick and spent. 


Bat these fikTomiiig dreoinstaiieeB were eoonterpoiaed by 
our own losses and anxietiea. Daly^s men were badly bit, 
like Oolin Maekensie's left;* and thus Uie centre of Googb's 
Anny was in danger. Tbe FiftiA eoold not be too quick, 
snoe it bad been kept too IcMig by GLH.Q. 

From Brie to GmlaincoiiTt and tbe (keen Lme offihoot is 
a maicb along tbe straight road towaixls Yermand ; a mardi 
by nigfat of eight miles, if yon please, and through another 
fog dense enough to baveastiong daspon things and persons. 
Martin's Brigade marched to the P&onne bridgehead near 
Hanconrt^ where its men had a short rest in some hots. After- 
wards they took up their position in the main Green Line. 
Their left rested near Boady, and their li^t was held by 
the Hfth Doriiam Light Infimtiy, onder Major A. Ll Baimes, 
who had his beadqnarters in Mobescoort Farm, like Neill 
Malcolm, who ecnnmanded the Siadty-madOi. The main Green 
Line, an essential part of the P^ronne Iwidgehead, was about 
five hundred yards east of the rained (arm, and about the 
same distance north of it^ as the line at this point f<»med a 

Soon after ten o'doek the Fifth D.LX was lent for a 
time to Neill Malcolm, who employed it to guard his left flank 
against any attack which the foe might attempt from the 
north of RuseL In the afternoon, at about half-past two, the 
iSKasty-sirtA was ordered by its Corps to fight a rearguard 
action and to withdraw through the nftidk^ who would hold 
Green line. The brigade groups and attadied troops and 
cavalry were to assemble at Buire, Courcelles and Ddu^t^but 
the StaBty-^iadh'a divisional artiUery was to be left under the 
command of the Fiftieth. 

This withdraml was not attacked. It went smoothly, 
and was completed before midnighL The Sixty-siaoth's head- 
quarters left Nobescourt Farm at one o'doek, and, four and a 
half hours later, opened at Doingt 

Already the losses in each brigade of this brave division 
were estimated as frt>m 40 to 50 officers and from 1200 
to 1400 other ranka These were severe casualties, for the 
Siocty-sixth entered battle with an average strength per 
battalion of not more than 20 officers and 600 rifles: or 
60 officers and 1800 rifles in each of the three hriisades. 

* The SiaUn-finL A roedal order of the day, April 18, leoorded the 
faci that rinoe Match SU, this diyiidon had fought aseuuit fourteen Qemuui 
diviaioiiB, had identified three other unite hj oontaot, and on one afternoon 
had taken prlaonen from three dlfEerent airplane flights. 


Equal and similar losses also had been suffered by the 
Twenty^fimrih, so thai our 19th Corps had urgent need of 
the Fiftieth. 

In all the Fiftieth had a wider front to guard than that 
which is given in the official dispatch ; it exceeded 10,500 yards 
by mudu South of Martin's Brigade was Rees's, that guarded 
the Oreen Line offshoot from the north-west of Bemes to a 
Doint just north of Poeuilly, where Riddell's Brigade of 
Northumberland Fusiliers carried on the defence southward 
to the wooded Omignon River near Yill^v^ue. Undulating 
and timbered oount^ aided the Bocha Long belts of spinney 
and weald ran east and west, hiding an inquisitive push 
which at midday would squeeze us from Yermand and begin 
to press westward. 

At about eight o'clock Brigadier Riddell had his men hard 
by their battle stations. With his three battalions, about 
1800 rifles and some 800 stragglers, it was his duty to hold 
6000 yards of very shallow trench, and yet have men enough 
for counter-attacks. How was this duty to be fulfilled ? 

Civilians have a very cloudy notion as to the span of 
front which a small body of troops should be able to keep 
secure. Experienced officers believe that 1500 vards of front 
in a battle zone is all a battalion can hold ; and then it must 
be supported by many more guns than our Fifth Abmt had 
in Mafch. A mmous Corps Ck>amiander writes : — 

^ I still think the forward zone should be as lightly held 
as possible, and I would put a battalion even on 3000 yards 
of tront there, and the other two battalions of a brigade each 
on a 1500 yards front in the battle zona Thus the brigade 
would be in depth. But we need on the spot in each brigade 
a fourth battalion for counter-attacka As for the prev^ent 
idea that reserves can be marched for miles and miles on the 
day of battle to be handled by some genius on the spot who 
ean foresee somehow where his jmnping-off place wul be for 
his counter-attack by a battalion — all this may be splendid in 
theory, but it doesn't work out in practice.*' * 

* O.H.Q. has stOl to ezplftin not only why two-thiids of Ooogh'i Infuitry 
rtiervM wen abMnt daring the first aAy*0 battle, bat Also why the offiohJ 
ditpAtoh deoUies that they were present. Oonsider this qaotation : ** The Thisd 
AaiiT dispoeed of eight divisions in line on the front of the enemy's initial 
sttaok [from Sens^ Biver down to Byng's onion with the Fons Abict], 
with seven divisions avaiUhle in reserve. The Fnrxa Aamr disposed of 
foorteeii divisions end three eavalrv divisions, of whioh three infantry divisioiu 
and three cavalry divisions were m reserve* The total British foroe on the 
original battle front, therefore, on the morning of Haroh 21, was tw«nty-nlna 
infantry divisions sfld three oavalry divisions, of whioh niaateen Infantry 


^ Connter-aitackB might decide the day. Compared wiih 
neic^hbonring troops, saeh as Colin Mackenzie's southward, 
Bicklell's Northnmoerland Fusiliers had not yet turned a hair ; 
so a great deal was expected from them. U would be well to 
have a whole battalion for counter-attack, and its best position 
would be at Tertry, a village just a mile or less behind Caulain* 
court, and guarded by such bog and marsh as the Omignon 
has made in this part of its course. The Fifth Fusiliers were 
put in reserve east of Tertry, while the battle-line on our 
right was held by the Fourth Battalion ; and northward, on 
our left, the Sixth was hard at work digging. 

^ Fog continued ; but at one o'clock, or thereabouts, it 
thinn^ away, and parties of Daly's Division retired through 
Biddell's lines, nearly all gassed and every one of them dead 
stiff and weary. Two hours later, when the Brigadier was 
visiting his front line east of Caulaincourt, some Qerman 
planes came growling nearer and nearer till at last they were 
able to drop bombs on lus defence and to open fire from their 

British planes were so busy attacking the German rear 
and reserves that none was seen by the Northumberland 
Fusiliers before March 24 Then, during a hot retreating 
march from the neighbourhood of Misery to Foucaucourt, 
some ffrowled above the Fusiliers, giving the Boche reserves 
a speU of rest. Meantime Qerman airplanes had been very 
active against our battle troops. 

The Fusiliers could not have been pleased when they read 
in the official bulletin of March 22, how ** the enemy's attack- 
ing troops and reinforcements on the battlefield offered most 
excellent targets to the pilots of our low-fiying machines, who 

divlfliona were in line." As cmlj a pert of Byog's front wee assailed on the 
fint day, tUs quotation omits two TmsD Abxy line divisions, while giving the 
whole of Gough's, inolnding absent reserves, two Infantry divisions. I note, 
also, that two of 6yng*s support divisions were mot available on the first day, 
the Forty-flnt being west of Albert, in the Baisieux sector, and the ITMrty- 
fint farther ofi still, in the north-west at Fr6villers. Yet O.H.Q. expected 
that the main German blow would fall between Senste River and the neigh- 
bourhood of Bapaume-Oambrai road. The Thirty-first was not even in 
Byng's land. Support divisions were kept much too far from their battle- 
fronts, because G.H.Q. wished to move them to other sectors if Gough and 
Byng were not hard pressed. The need of more men being a h a r a ssin g 
anxiety, this attitude towards four support divisions can be understood ; 
but yet it was one of those manifestations of excessive caution which put 
danger after danger into chosen risks. If Gough was to bear aU the risks, 
oertainlv he needed all his supports close by his battle sone ; and the fighting 
value of Byng's seven support divisions was greatly impaired because two 
had to be hurried up from a long distance and thrown tired into the battle. 


poured many thousanda of roimds in them, cauaiiig iimamerable 
CASQaltiea." This reads like joomalisin prepared for a 
democraey feared by craven officials, for British soldiers do 
not speak lightly of a foe's '^ innomeraUe casualties/' 
particularly when their own losses are perilously high. 
Besides, the Qerman air flights throughout the battle were as 
enterprising as our own; from day to day, then, overhead, 
we mast hear not only our own airplanes, but also the growl 
of large hostile flights, with the purring swish of dispersed 
bullets from machine»guna 

A few minutes after the German airplanes appeared over 
the Northumberland Fusiliers, our patrols were heard firing. 
A creeping attack had begun to stretch its legs. Riddell ^t 
back to his horses just in time to see a company of British 
machine-gunners coming forward to " putt-puttr-putt*' In a 
few minutes oar whole line was ablaze. Boches in waves 
could be seen advancing; towards our Sixth Northumbrians, 
who were using their nfles and Lewis guns with unflurried 
rapidity. Time after time a wave came in, and broke ; eddied, 
and went back in a swirl, leaving behind it, upon or dose to 
our wire, a litter of killed and wounded. Twice the attack 
got through ; and twice the Sixth Fusiliers delivered a noisy 
counterblow, recovering lost ground and taking prisoners. 
It was a most gallant a&ir— gallant on both side& An officer 

'^ Meanwhile, working through woods on the Omignon, 
Boches had crossed the river souw-east of Caulaincourt ; and 
coming through a gap which we understood was to be held 
by another division on our rights he got round our right 

Hence a sound of firing over there, in the neighbourhood 
of Cauliunoourt church. Near the church Colonel Bobb had 
posted his reserve company. He had his headquarters in a 
large mausoleum at the north-west end of Caulaincourt He 
left it at (mce and joined his reserves ; took them forward 
chaiginff ; and, by Jove I the turning movement recoiled, and 
bunme^ and jostied back over the (hnignon ! 

But when you are short of men, every good thing is offiset 
by something bad. A call for help came to Bobb : the left 
Mrt of his line was in trouble ; and help could not be ffiven* 
Every man was in action: and none could be withcuawn. 


How many troops had we in Ireland ? And bow many in 
England ? 

An hour before dvilian England enjoyed the cooneai of 
afternoon tea, the Fnailiei^s Brigadier — ** a grand fellow in a 
fight/' another General tells me — ^was feeling somewhat the 
worse for wear. Five bnllets bad passed throo^b bis saddle 
wallet, another bad ripped through his coat^ and bis groom's 
mare had a nasty bead wonnd. The bullet through his coat 
had ended a search for death plump against a safety razor case. 
Such is war, scientific war. A bearded brigadier would have 
been either badly wounded or killed. 

Over there, through a dump of trees east of Caulaincourt- 
PoBuilly road, another attack came on; and at the same 
moment northern Caulainoourt was taken. Two companies of 
Fifth Fusiliers were let slip, and got their stride at once, the 
left company crossing the road north of the village. How 
well it chaiged among the trees . • . with Frits in retreat ! 
Every one cheered as much as Englishmen ever cheer ; and was 
it not a sight worth cheering ? 

Northward the Sixth Fusiliers were holding nearly the 
whole of their original line. On their right they had been 
obliged to give up some ground to a point about a mile 
souUi of PoBuilly. Caulaincourt had gone fix)m us^ but the 
Brigadier was still in telephonic communication with the 
mausoleum, which he knew was in Qerman bands. A 
message came asking him to send reinforcements. If he 
could and did all would be wdL What officer sent this 
message? The Qerman refused to give bis name. There 
were five British batteries of 18-pounders about a thousand 
yards off, and the Brimdier turned them on to Caulaincourt 
and its mausoleum. Did the Boche at the wire's end get his 

Shortly afterwards our guns began to ransack the woods 
about Caulainoourt and east of the Sixth Fusiliers. Shells 
burst in among a dose attack with excellent results, causing 
many casucdties east of Pceuilly, as Colonel .Bobinson 
could see. 

And now we must see what had happened to Martin's 
Brigade. As soon as the Sixty-sioBth was ordered to with- 
draw behind the Fiftieth, Uke the TiMfity-/(mWA, the Fifth 
Durham light InGsmtiy returned to the main Green lane 
about five hundred yards east of Nobescourt Farm. On 
its right was one of Bees's battalions, the Fourth Torks. The 
foe followed quickly, and at five p.m« these two battalions 


were heavily attacked The Rfth Durham Light Infantry 
did great execution with their Lewis guns and rifles, but a 
portion of the main Qreen Line was lost, and Nobescourt 
Farm itself was nearly captured. The advance got so close to 
it that the 0.0. of the Fifth Durham Light Infantiy felt that 
hifl headquarters ''was almost in the actual firing line." 
In preparation for a last stand, every available man was 
posted — signallers, servants, and other odds and ends — but 
the attack was not pressed at once after Green line had been 
reached and manned. Oaptain J. K. M. Hessler, who com- 
manded B Company, was killed while fighting most gallantly, 
and Lieutenant Scott was wounded and captured 

In the meantime the Fourth Yorks had fared worse, losing 
the CO. and a Major and the Adjutant, all killed. The 
Colonel died while leading his reserve company in a desperate 
counter-attack. It was badly hammered, tnis brave battalion, 
and was pushed out of Green Line, but not so far as to out- 
flank Nobescourt Farm, which Major Baimes kept as his 
headquarters till one a.m. on March 28. 

Hitherto it has been believed that the farm itself was 
captured by the five o'clock onrush. A report to this effect 
was sent to 19th Corps, whose Staff* passed it on to the Fifth 
Abmt. Gough himself called up the Corps and threw doubts 
on the report, but was assured that the report was authentic. 

How did this misunderstanding arise ? There were two 
possible, if not probable, explanations : — 

1. The Green Line system was connected with places near 
to it. Thus the official dispatch says : ** By 5.30 the enemy 
had reached the third zone at different points, and was 
attacking the Fiftieth Division heavily between Vill6v6que 
and Boudy." Now Boudy was nearly 500 yards west of the 
main Green line, and Yill6v^ue was about the same distance 
south-east of the Green Line offshoot. So a report could 
say : " The bridgehead has been broken at Boudy,'' and yet 
Boudy itself might be all right Similarly, a report could 
say : *' The bridgehead is broken at Nobescourt Farm," though 
the farm itself had not yet fSEdlen. 

2. I believe I am right in saying that the Nobescourt Farm 
sector was in the area of Bees's brigade of the Fiftieth, but the 
Fifth D.L.L, Martin's Brigade, occupied it after returning from 
the work it did in the mominff for the Siscty-math Division, 
It follows that divisional headquarters would appeal to Bees 
for news of Nobescourt Fann. 

In any case, the foe had settled himself in the main Green 


liine in the ndgfaboorhood of this fann. and liis inat line 
was dose to the bats which had been set np in the Sum's 
rains. A eoonter-attack &iled to dislodge him, and this 
breach of the main brid^pehead had to be considered side by 
side with three other eircanistances. One of them was the 
loss of the Green line oflshoot south-east of PflBoiUy ; another 
was the grave loss in casoalties which had stricken thennder- 
manned 19th Corps; and the third was the fiust that, with no 
reinforcements at hand, and with the FiftieA overstretched 
on a front of nearly 14^500 yards, renewed ONmter-attacks 
were undesirable^ It became neceasaiy to readjust the 
ISfii&ik on a new line. 

By nightfall of the 22nd Biddell's N<vthamberland 
Fusiliers held a line immediatdv west and north of CSaulain- 
courti then along their origmal Ime east of Poeuilly, where their 
front was drawn bade a little to the road north of Poeuilly 
in order to meet Rees's men, whose right had been driven in 
slightly* The Fusiliers had lost the Green line offshoot 
south-east of Poeuilly, but they were well established in 
their new position, ud at «bout nine p.m. thmr right 
nearly obtiuned touch with the TwmUf-famih near Monchy- 
Lagache, and therefore near the main line di the Peronne 
briogehead. The Fusiliers being west of Canlaincourt and 
the TwiUg-fauHh about 2500 yards to the south-west^ 
Riddell*s right flank was open ; and the gap had to be filled 
with all spare officers and men of the brigade staff 

About midnight orders were received to withdraw in line 
with the TwrnOy-famih, and by dawn the Fudliers reached 
their new position immediately west of the Tertrv-Bonvincourt 
road. Many men were set to dig trendies in poughed fields, 
while many others had a hot brMk&sk With eoual success, 
too^ Bees had slipped back by moonlisfat^ and as tor Martin's 
Brigade, the Fifth Durham light Infantry withdrew at 
three a.m, of the 23rd» and was niaoed in brigade reserve 
behind the Sixth and Eighth Durham light Iraantry, who 
were in line east of C2artigny. 

Biddeirs withdrawal was timely, partlv because of the 
breach of the PAronne bridgehead east of Nobescourt Farm, 
and partly because at six p.m« on Mttdi 22, all artillery had 
been sent back to a line south of Mons-en-Chaussie ; so it 
could not have covered the Caulaincourt-Poeuilly positioiL 
This tactical error had its origin in a false report which 
reached the C!or|vi heailquarters that Pu^uilly haa hem lost 
This village stands on high ground and commands the country 


to ilie south and west; it was used as headqoarters by the 
Sixtib Nortiramherland Fusiliers until four am. on March 23. 
The brid^ at Gkahunooart and Tertry had been blown up. 

No one Uked the new battle position— a dead flat plain 
atretehing from it westward, with no eover anywhere until 
Mons-enH}hau8sfe and its dump of trees on the southern end 
▼aried a dreary monotone. 

Soon after dawn Frits opened fire with his forward 
machine-guns, and an hour later our men were ordered to fall 
back to the ndlway line east of Athies. 

"Watching this movement from high ground north of 
Athies, it resembled a set-piece at Aldershot, one company 
retiring in perfect order covered by the fire of another, while 
an oflBcer commanding the Sixth Insiliers controlled the * field 
day ' with his whistla'* 

The retreat had not far to co, its destination being the 
Somme's west banL Here the llorthumbrians were to occupy 
an entrenched line and '' to hang on like grim death to a dead 
nigper.'* They were in fine spirits, though they resented 
theur retreat Fritz followed with caution, remembering his 
losses and not yet knowing that our artillery during the night 
had been witharawn across the Somme. There was only one 
bridge by which Riddell's Fusiliers could cross this river — the 
(me at Saint Christ, south of Athie& To cover the crossing it 
was necessary to hold with rifles and machine-guns a small 
village named Ennemain, perched up on highlands that over- 
looked the country for some miles in every direction. Fritz 
could advance unseen in one place only— east of Athies 
through the wooded valley. Just east of mint Christ bridge 
again, hi^h ground commanded Ennemain. 

To this ground the Brigadier sent four machine-guns, the 
last that remained ; ordered his Fifth Northumbrians to hold 
Athies and Knnemain, while the Fourth and Sixth Battalions 
slipped back among thick trees on the Omiguon's bank in 
order to reach their new positicm and to cover from the west 
Saint Christ and its bridge. 

This bridge was under fire from Qerman heavies, but for 
some reason or other the shelling stopped just when the Fourth 
Northumbrians h^psk to cross. Botn battalions reached the 
west bank without casualties, the Sixth with its left on Brie 
bridge, and the Fourth covering the bridge at Saint Christ 

A game of Uuff had scored very welL While the brigade 
was crossing the river enemy troops crept with great caution 
towards AUiies and Fjineinain , Leasee throw an icy chill 


over an attack when movement is not rapid onondi to carry 
the unhit away from the killed and wounded. There is so 
much mystery ahead, above all in (oggv weather, that human 
nature during an impeded attack isukely to ^' see in eveiy 
bush a bear " ; to-day^ bear being a machine-gun. 

Leaving Captain Proctor's company as a rearguard at 
Ennemain, the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers moved down 
the Omignon vcJley and made their crossing at Saint Christ; 
it was hard, plodding work that lasted ninety minutes. The 
men could hear that Proctor was hard set in a very brisk 
rearguard action. 

This young officer's business was to make his foes believe 
that a whole brigade opposed the German advance; and 
Proctor managed to circulate this illusion. Qerman battalions 
were deployed withgreat care for a combat of much importance. 
Then at last, a full two hours after noon, little Ennemain was 
rushed from east and north, and Proctor and his company 
were cut off from Saint Christ. 

This hitch would not have mattered but for another. By 
some mistake the four machine-suns east of Saint Christ had 
been withdrawn. If they had kept to their posts — and they 
had no right to move without written orders — they could 
have covered Proctor back to the Somme. As it was Proctor 
had no choice but to withdraw to Falvy, after holding two 
German battalions with his tiny force^ not more than eighty 

On reaching the Somme at Falvy he found a bridge in 
ruins, but he got across all right under cover of darkness 
and rejoined his battalion, bringing with him about forty of his 
first-rate men. Thanks to his and their cool valour, Riddell's 
Brigade had time to arrange new dispositions and to settle 
itself for another brisk encoimter. 

In the afternoon, just before three o'clock, a few enemy 
scouts appeared on the Somme's eastern bank. It was time 
to blow up the bridge. Previously the Northumbrians had 
destroyed all stores tnat could not be removed from hutments 
on the east bank. 

The Durham Light Infantry had equally stirring experi- 
ences. Thus, for example, the Sixth Battalion was ordered 
to cross the Somme by the Eterpigny footbridge. A route 
across country was taken towards this bridge, which was 
partly destroyed, and about three hundred yards long. As 
no gap was found in the undergrowth and marshland, the 
battalion turned aside through the Mesnil village, into which 


the foe had already entered As soon as Z Company, the 
leader, had reached the far side of the river, tne other 
eompanies were attacked. They deployed at once, and, 
though driven towards the marshes, they checked the enemy 
and managed to cross the bridge with the loss of only two 
officers and about twenty men. For this episode Captain 
J. F. G. Aubin, llC, was awarded the D.S.O. 

At nighty March 23-24, a creeping surprise attack tried to 
cross the river over piled wreckage of bridge materials dam- 
nung a shallow channel. A few Boches ftot across — and were 
killed. Though this movement failed, there was a half -hour 
of real danger, some troops on the right being taken all at 
once by one of those unaccountable fears which the ancients 
attributed to Pan. Even Wellington's pet division, a body of 
veteran troops that never failed him and never suffered a 
defeat, the immortal Light Division, was seized one night in 
a wood with uncontrollable dread, and ran for dear life, not 
knowing why. Similarly, on the Somme a good many troops 
might have taken to their heels, carrying with them some 
Fourth Northumberland Fusiliers, but for Lacey Thompson, 
Captain and Adjutant, who at the right moment met tiie 
retreating men and set their minds in order. 

After the incipient panic had been stopped, a quiet night 
passed through its misty moonshine into the dusk before 
dawn. Some reinforcements had been picked up meantime 
in the small village of Misery, where Riddell had set up his 
quarters, and where the Twenty-second Entrenching Battalion 
was lodged in snug huts.* It was without orders, and was 
dad to Keep company with our Northumberland Fusiliers. 
It was reported to be 600 strong. 

A cold daybreak, with another thick mist, began the 
fourth day of the batUei 

It was Sunday — ^not a Waterloo Sunday, but a tragical one, 
on Cough's front and on Byng's. Once more Watts had to 
bear hearv losses and unusual pressure. But his men held 
the line of the Somme against many attacks. At one place 
only the assault gained ground, turning and pressing back 
their ru;ht^ and pushing along the river from Ham, and 
graduaify opening passages at Voy ennes and Bethencouri By 
two p.m. some units of Sie Eighth Division— the first British 
reinforcements on the Fifth Army's front — ^had been pushed 
back west of Potte, two and a half miles from the Somme ; 

* Tha Twenij-woond Entnnohing BatkJion being s long nAme, we wiU 
epeak of il ee llw Twea^ieooad BetteUoo. 

mt"^ 3" ^'^"g 1918 

■otth-eart to the 


.-^ ^ ■* 

•. m 

Bare and stiff 

their whole 


'"' came 

a pageant 

in tone until 

they took 

y^trsinmAamm tumed their 

x&er Oeepi had its head- 

i>h«Ting aE Ae ioad\ as though 

nQCt^: iWMihmp iS^m a se i the tog, and it 
UMB a Ttue vmcli was iiritating. 
t wtfto. i< ij ' jac  e apepi l^tft from bursting 
sdllBd, mni Msaumg thsB wu brave 

ttk Ifcrigaffiir found Us new diie^ Higor- 
jkfwr food t2i^ went together to 
,K >4sL Valeoha s Division, which held 
8^ )oid^ V) Biacies. Several impor- 
4i3«i!«»«c mni decided upon. Riddell's 
_ ^ ^iffi«^ llalNiin m the high ground about 
>^ . i.^ %^^a ^ia* «»c his troops were to be sent as a 
i... ..^ A w ^ >^PiMQt >«<r rf mm wrongly known as 

iu.,^dOa ^^ )^M leinforeed by the Kftli 


^ Jr ' - -- -- s:^cv h^wAj^H ntxuDsa from kw* ia 

'" ^HSMHiia <)< «i^ <«M ^ ^ ^^^ BnsiMer, 

^,.. *^^ ^^^^^^[^^igyg^^i^Qld tad iinfcidy Una oofering 

' ^ ^*^^ Hjmia. Mhi MsEoakftTt lo Um Bomme. Ooloikfll 

* CT" >J\Ite^MiliQM«mpot into GnuiVt fone. 

tai toBMAmy toooMooDvuilesftlao; 

^ "^^ ^^v* >^>-^w ^tet» ani MB viko liad letained from 

' '^^^^\ ^MiMiKMd toil th»wjdnyoM^ work dooebV 

. .X. ^'^ T iiMfciZMWT QittMsl (WT dialikad tery muoL 

. ^^ ^% ^^'ll?'^^^ 4^^ iMoiftil 9^'"^'^ ooUtotod aoiiily 

f . .liTl^^Mrf^S^ ^'^'S^^ ^^ ^^"^ om,siidby 

« % * A' 


DarhAm Light Infantxy. Early in the morning of the 24th, 
it was ordered to take post on the Barleux-Bia^es road and 
to be ready for a swift counter-attack if the foe succeeded 
in crossing the Somme near Biache& No attack was made 
daring the morning, but at six p.m. the Germans forced a 
crossing a little south of P6ronne. D Company of the Fifth 
Durham Light Infantry was sent forward at once under 
orders from the Brigadier ; it advanced twice, but was held 
up by machine-gun and rifle fire. Realizing ithat its task 
was impossible, it retired, and found a place m the line with 
Neill Malcolm's men* 

The foe had lodged himself on only a narrow span of land, 
and made no immediate attempt to advance farther. Indeed, 
tiie night passed quietly. 

§ m 

Riddell moved his men to the east of Assevillers, and 
once more his tired Fusiliers began to entrench themselves, 
doing as much work before dark as under-gardeners would 
expect to do in a long, easy day. 

Meantime, in the F^ronne sector, Maloohn and his remnant 
brigades would have looked upon their situation as well in 
hand but for two or three circumstances. On a map P^ronne 
and its exits looked very strong, but trees and undergrowths 
oa hoQx sides of the canal made the field of fire fieur firom good, 
and the town itself offered the foe a covered advance to the 
river. The Corps' policy, from about 9.20 a.m. on Sunday. 
March 24, was to hold tixe river line in this sector until it 
became untenable. Then Malcolm was to withdraw to the 
line Herbecourt-Assevillers, with Feetham — a very good 
officer-^n his left from Herbecourt to the Somme,* and 
Jackscm on his right from Assevillers to Estr^ f 

It happened that serious mischief was being done to th(^ 
Simty-BioBta by the short shooting of British guns north of 
the river, apparently from the direction of Frise. Shells 
exploded among Malcolm's machine-gunners, not only causing 
many casualties, but also disturbing the morale of men who 
had lost most of their experienced officers, both commissioned 
and non-commissioned. 

Some other matters also must be summoned up before our 

* Fstfthtm, TMriy-nMA Dzvnxov. FMUm wis oft«a in Ihs front lint 
wilb his tirtd umb, who w«rs dtvotod to him. 
t JaehMB, Vifli$ih (Korlh Engliih) Dimiov. 



minds in pictures ^ben we study the fight for the Somme 
crossings and our gradual retreat from this riven We must 
understand the German pressure above and below the border- 
lands ; above, north of the Somme ; below, from St. Clurist to 
Yoyennes, and south-east to Ham. 

On Sunday, March 24, our enemies crossed the river at 
Pargny and kept their footing on the west bank nn^Ving a 
gap between Heneker and Douglas Smith.* At nightfall the 
river line north of Ep&iancourt was held by us, but the gap 
opposite Pargny had been ripped wider, and Boches had 
settled themselves in Morchain. South of this point, Douglas 
Smith, his left flank in the air, had exhausted ail his reserves 
in a sequence of brilliant and useful reprisals ; and for this 
reason in the afternoon, he retreated to the Libermont Canal. 

Next day, March 25, there was no improvement. Haig 
says: — 

" South of the Somme the^ situation was less satis&ctoiy. 
The greater portion of the defensive line along the river and 
canal had been lost, and that which was still held by us was 
endangered by the progress made by the enemy norUi of the 
Somme. All local reserves had already been put into the fight^ 
cmd {here was no i/mmedicUe poaeilnlity oj acTidmg fii/mer 
BrUiah troops to ike assistance of iks divisums in Ivns."^ 

Yet on this day, March 25, Congreve was taken from 
Gough and put under the Third Army, and next morning he 
and his troops were all on Third Arut land, apart from those 
at Bmy. These happenings will be reviewed in their relation 
to the northern fighting. 

Even if the French reinforcements could have arrived with 
all their equipments, their number on the 25th was not laige 
enough to justify the transference of Congreve from Fifth 
Aricy land to that of the Third Army wnkss Byng's position 
had become more critical than Gough's. Haig says of the 
outlook south of the Somme : — 

" The French forces engaged were increasing steadily, and 
on this day our Allies assumed responsibility for the batUe- 
f ront south of the Somme, with general control of the British 
troops operating in that sector. The situation still remained 
critical, nowever, for every mile of the German advance added 
to the length of front to be held, and, while the exhaustion 

* W. 0. G. Henoker, the Eighth Ditibzoh, a flnt-Eaie fighter ; DooglM 
Smith, the Twentieth, 

t My i talios. " DiTtslons in line " iouth of the Somme ; remnant diyidooB, 
remember, and reinforced by only one British diyieion, the Eighth, 


of my diviaioDs was hourly growing more aeate» some days 
had yet to pass before the Irenoh could bring up troops in 
sufficient number to arrest the enemy's progress." * 

There was also a gap between Maxse and Watts ; it was 
widened by hostile attacks at Licourt ; and Nesle was captured, 
while northward Watts' right was slowly pushed bade in the 
direction of Chaulne& Mareh61ipot was burning, but, east of 
Villers CSarbonnel and Barleuz, our border troops at midday 
were still holding the line of the canal, and their greatest 
danger was-naot the German pressure, with its adroit vigour, 
but^-iheir lack of renewed strength, of fresh brigades, 
numerous enough to stiffen adequately our defence from the 
Biaches neighbourhood of P6ronne southward to EpAoanoourt. 

How strange it is that although the great Amiens road 
and its borderlands were plainly the centre of the main battle, 
not only because Hutier and Marwits struck together with 
their flank groups, but also because the borderlands north- 
ymd extended to ^e Somme's southern bank, and southward 
to Cfliaulnes, Rosi^res, Caiz, and the River Luce, yet, somehow, 
our guardianship in this area» through lack of enough rein* 
foroements, had to be borne from day to day by a Corps very 
weak in numbers, Watts's. One thing only — ^a circumstance 
that seems providential — saved Watts, preventing his defence 
from being frayed through and broken before relief came in 
what may be <»dled the fiangard hne, some 14,000 yards from 
Lonffueau, the threshold of Atnien& 

Two of Consreve's divisions — a small bodjr of South Irish 
and gallant Feettiam with the staunch TAirfy-nmdii— happened 
to be south of the Somme on March 25 ; Uiey remained with 
Watts, and the Thirijf'^ninih did invaluable work, as we shall 
see. Now, on the evening of the 28rd this division-— or the 
most of it — was north of the river; next evening it was on 
the (mposite side and guarding our line north of Malcolm's 
Iiuie2khire tooops. 

What an escape I If on the 25th it had been north of the 
Somme, it would have gone to Byxigi and in twenty-four 
hoors, or less^ would have been on THnu> Abmt ground with 
Watts's First Cavalry and Congreve's Ninth snaTkiHtf-Jifth 
Divmoirs, and other troops. 

Are you perplexed by tneee matters ? lam. Theirbearing 
on the oential fighting grows much stranger as the retreat from 

• YoL iL, p. SKM. L«t me Mk tb« rtadv to kMp wr oarafallT In ailiid 
IbMS qoototioM from tht O.H.Q. dlneloh. TMr Msring on tolsr aspMli 
of Ito Mils te teriad M»d tnmofsUs. ^^ 


P^ronne towards Amiens becomes more difficult and perilous* 
There is only a narrow strip of land between the Somme and 
the great Amiens road ; in one part — ^f rom north of Proyart 
north-westwaid to CS^risy — it dwindles to about 4000 yards ; 
and at this very part the greatest danger came into the 
borderlands from across the river, because Byng retreated 
more rapidly to the Ancre and the Somme at Sailly-le-Sec 
than Watts retreated before intense German pressure 

Unless readers understand these points, they cannot 
possibly appreciate the priceless value of the work done in 
the borderliuids, still under Gough's orders, happily, from that 
moment of the fifth day when the river crossmgs along the 
P6ronne sector became insecure. 

The small bridgehead west of the canal, which the foe had 
made by crossing from P^ronne's Foubourg de Paris, was not 
dangerous, though troublesome ; our positions around the 
hostile postp were all right, and a company from reserve had 
been sent forward to reinforce them. But at about nine &m« 
on the 26th bad things occurred at Eterpigny, four thousand 
yards south of F^ronne, where the Pioneer Battalion of 
the Fiftieth was acting under Heneker.* Covered by an 
intense barrier fire, mainly from machine-ffuns, the enemy 
made his crossing and advanced. The barrage sprayed 
upon the Pioneers, causing them to lose confidence and 
unity, and to retire in clusters through Barleuz towards 

As soon as this bad turn of events became known, the 
Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers advanced south of Barleux, 
while the Sixth remained in reserve on the western outskirts 
of this village. Some of Heneker's own troops were busy also, 
together with a few of Malcolm's, and Eterpigny was swept 
clean arain. But it could not be held owing to a rapid sequence 
of troubles. 

At about ten a.m. Heneker heard that the right of his 
centre brigade had been pressed back, and about the same time 
his left brigade was breached He put into the fight all his 
reserves, but reports said that the attack had pressed through 
licourt^ 2500 yards west of the Somme canal, and about 
5000 yards south-west of St. Christ. At Eterpigny, too, a new 
crisis came. Germans began to move south-west on the road 
to Villers Carbonnel, and they were active also in Barleuz 
valley. Now this eager thrust west of Brie took the attack 
once more to the Amiens highway. 


A defensive flank was formed by Brigadier Borrett ; * it 
spanned north of the road rtinning east from Barleoz to Lamire 
Farm ; and Biddell sent two battolions of his Northumbrians 
to hold the q>ar sonth-west of Barleox and to intervene 
between Barleox and Villers Carbonnel. 

A considerable amount of German fire — artillery, machine- 

Ein, and trench-mortar — ^ponred into our forward positions 
tween Lamire Farm and La Maisonette, causing many 

Some of our men retreated to the hiffh ground between the 
Orme de Barleux and La Maisonette ; me majority would not 
budge ; and their reserves moved about on the uopes of the 
crest-lme, sometimes on the rear slopes, at other times not, 
according as the hostile artillery fire increased or decreased. 
Through the afternoon fighting was very brisk, and the out- 
look was tiiat of a fight pretty well balanced. The attack had 
gained some points, but with a disconcerting difficulty. Yes, 
but events north and south of the borderland were untoward, 
and shortly before six o'clock the Fifth Abmt's policy became 
known. Watts was to retire as soon as it was dark upon 
Estr^, Assevillers, and Herbeoourt 

The German attack was handled deverl^, so it persevered, 
and just after sunset it scored a point, turmng the right flank 
of the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers. 

As for the units of Malcolm's Division, they were about 
the strength of companies, and so mingled together after 
many counter-strokes, and frequent interehanges of intrepid 
help, that a very pexplexing question had to be answered. 
Was it possible to withdraw from the battie to new positions ? 

There appeared to be onlv one way of untying this 
military knotted skein. Biddell had one battalion, his Sixth 
Fusiliers^ a company of the Fifth, and six machine-guns 
belonging to tiie Tank Corps. A company of Fifth Fusiliers 
took up a line south of Barleux ; machine-gunners held the 
eastern edge of Barleux ; and as for the SixUi Fusiliers, they 
prolonged their line by deploying over high ground through 
a network of old trenches to the north of this village. Mean- 
while the Fourth Fusiliers at Assevillers had been ordered 
to collect all stragglers, to ffive them food and water and 
ammunition, and to post mem along the line between 
Assevillers and Herbecourt. 

At 7.30 pjn. the Sixty^aixth began to withdraw through 

DimiOR; he comxnmndad tbrea remasnt battalions of 
Lanosihin FosUtecs. 


these lines^ and hj eiefat o'doek Gennans were trying to 
enter Barienx! Tne Norttuimbriaiis hdtd their ground for 
an hoar. Then oar madiine-gans were withdrawn; every 
one got ready for a retreat; and when the^ fell back, it 
930 pjn., a few riflemen were left behind to fire Y^iy 
li^te and to keep up a continaoaa fiuilada All went weU. 
In leas than two hours our men were back in the old trenches 
at AssevillerB, and V^iy lights were still shining np from 
Barleax, while rifle shote marked the line of oar rear^^nafd. 
Meantime the Sixtysiasih had reached unmolested its new 
quarters, and Riddell's Northumbrians were all right. They 
nad had but few casualties. Not a man had Iwen left in 
enemy hands. 

It was on the same day, March 25, remember, that an 
event in the Thibd Abut had an increasing influence on the 
movements of all troops under Watta At 1.45 p.m. Gou^ 
received a message from Byi^s Army that its centre would 
retire during the night behind the river Ancre, and that Con- 
mve's Corps would pass from its own ground in order to form 
Byng^s right from Albert to Bray inclusive. Now Bray-«ar- 
Somme was more than six miles behind Qough*s left, and 
to guard this big span of river with his few exhausted 
fa-oops was a responsibility as urgent as it was sudden and 

It had to be considered also in its relation to his ri^ht 
flank, where the French, and the British troops mixed with 
them, were hard-pressed. Butler's Corps reported that after 
very heavy flghting on the wooded spurs and rid^^ east and 
north-east of Noyon, the Allied line had been c&iven back. 
In the evening Noyon fell, and both British and French 
troops east of the town were ordered to withdraw southward 
across the Oise. Thus the right flank was far from safe ; and 
now the northern flank also was weakened and threatened. 
But the main problem was clear and simple, as main problems 
are usually in war. An army when undermanned and out- 
numbered must concentrate all its power; to disperse its 
units is to invite disaster, above all when they are spent 
with fatigue; so Gough directed Watts to &11 back dui;^ng 
the night to a line running from Hattenoourt to Frise, and t^ 
guard the Somme from ixise to Brav, where touch with the 
Byng-Conrnve forces would be made. This narrowed the 
riverside front by about two miles, Byn^'s right being still 
about four miles behind Gough's left, despite Congreve's help. 
The uncertainties of war! 



The Northumberland FoailierB, after some hard bludgeon 
work, were ordered to withdraw from ABaevillen ; but how ? 
This townlet stands high, and the foe could watdi it from a 
distance of three or four milea He had another attack in 
preparation, and there was no fog. But smoke would be as 
useful as fog if it were thick enough; and between Fay and 
Estr^es, happily, were many militiuv huts with tarred roofs, 
and these were fired. By good ludc, also, a friendly wind 
blowing from the north-east carried thick smoke in rolling 
clouds to the south-west, hiding all movements. An officer 

''We repeated the same tactics at Foucaucourt — ^a small 
town of huts. It was here that an old sapper was found in 
the act of locking up a shed in which an engine pumped 
water to supply two large tanks and about a hundred feet of 
horse-troughis. The old man intended to join our retreat 
As he showed great reluctance to break his engine I smashed 
its important parts with a hanmier. When last I saw him he 
was looking at the damage done^ and muttering: 'There'U be 
trouble over this.' Men behind the lines have very little 
knowledge of war." 

We have reached the sixth day of battle. German air- 
planes flew low over Foucaucourt, and but for the smoke 
cloud they would have seen our transport moving westward, 
heralding another stride in a gradual retreat Rosi^res- 
y au villers was to be Riddell's next line for a stand. Engineers 
were busy there, with some infiuntry reinforoements, cQgging 
trenchesL The Northumbrians needed food and rest, and there 
would be neither if they failed to reach their new line in good 

Words cannot portray the incessant and compelling squeeze 
which German tactics applied here and there on very painful 
places of the Fifth Abht's elastic front An art student 
said: ** Sometimes we were pressed out into a retreat as I 
used to press out pigments nrom a tube ; and sometimes we 
were like stags at bav, with yelping hounds all around us. 
The very devil I" That the twentieth century A.D. should 
have made war vastly worse than it was during the miscalled 
Dark Ages is one of those differences between pretty phrases 

and umr fads over which Satan must chuckle as ffladly as 
old Fiustaff does over sack and wit and humour, liachine- 
guns alone are so base-hearted in the progressive genius 


which evolved them into their present halting-plaees of 
deviliy, that the profase blood sned by them stains onr 
ape iiidelibly. For all that, Ludendorff is right when he says 
that daring the War the light machine-gun, ceasing to be an 
auxiliary weapon, became the tme ^ infantryman,"* while the 
infimtrjnnan of 1914 and earlier had dwindled to a ^rifle 

The evolntion of weapons has ever been from worse to 
worse in its effects on living persons and on living things. 
Many novelties r^arded as crimes in one war have been 
customs in the next— customs evolving towards something 
worse. Consider the horror that Julias Gaesar would have 
felt for machine-guns ! 

Sprayed often by machine-gun fire, the Northumberland 
Fusihers continued to go back,covered by a ding-dong action by 
rear-guarda Unhappilv, the Fifth Battalion lost two whole 
platoons just east of Foucauoourt, in one of those gallant 
combats that occurred in many places. And the Siaty-sixth 
Division — or, to be correct, its heroic remnants — had in the 
afternoon a grim struggle near Framerville, a small town 
which the foe turned from the north by passing round a 
Northumberland rear-guard.* But the rear-guard fousht on, 
plaving its hot part well ; it saved Hill 109 west of Lihons 
and kept a noisy front of fire north-westward towards 

Four hours earlier, at noon, the main body had reached 
the cross-roads south of Yauvillers; had asked for their 
dinner, had received it and eaten it ; and then, smilingly, had 
fallen asleep anyhow, anywhere, under a coverlet of genial 
sunshine from a beautiful spring day. What will he not do, 
the British soldier, if his manly appetite is not offended. 

* The Fnunerville positions were bftd and distressing. There is a report 
that the B.G.G.S. of the 19th Corps will never forget how he tried to get in 
tonch with the Army hy means of a telephone line which, miknown to him, 
had heen cut hy a bomb. He wished to obtain leave to witlidraw from 
Framerville, so report says, and for half an hour— It was about 4 a.m.— he 
•poke with a despairing persoMion. 





STIRRING events elustered In the afternoon of the 
26th the Gkurmans took Framerville, less than a mile 
south of the Amiens road and only 30,000 yards from 
the city, lliey must be ousted. What troops were 
fit for this counter-stroke ? Malcolm's were in the mpple, 
and suffering from parched fati^e ; just then they comd ao no 
more ; so the Fourth Northumberlimd Fusiliers were chosen, 
and Jackson and Riddell walked to the north end of Yauvillers 
to encourage the attack. 

On the south-east of Framerville there was much con* 
fusion. A few hundred men from two spent divisions, after 
fighting almost without sleep through five oays and four nights, 
had b^n shattered in a hot fights and were hobbling Mick, 
confused rather than disordered, through the protective ranks 
of the Fourth Northumberland Fusiliers. Colonel Anstey, a 
staff officer of the Fi/Heth^ comforted the broken men, and 
cheered the Fourth Fusiliers, who rushed Framerville under 
a hail of machine-gun bullets from the church. In the church 
German machine-gunners were found, safe and insolent, till 
a few of our engineers entered the building and threw Uiem 
neck and crop from the tower window. 

Framerville was retaken apart from its north-west comer, 
protected by German machine-guns in Rainecourt. In this 
neighbourhood villages are very close together, and each was 
a bastion or redoubt on the nearing way to Amiens. 

At dusk on the 26th our order of battle was as follows 
Feetham with the Th/My-ninth manned the Proyart sector ; 
southward, just west of Framerville and north-east of 
Yauvillers, was Malcolm's front, with the Northumbrians 
continuing the line south to Rosi^res, where Heneker's men 



were in line, with remnants of Dale's brigades in the War- 
villers neighbourhood south-west. During the night, March 
26-279 our left was drawn back from the northern outskirts 
of Proyart until it rested on the Sonmie north of Mericourt — 
a townlet only about 2000 yards to the south-east of Chipilly, 
and so dose by the riversiae district into which the Germans 
entered on Wednesday morning, March 27. 

More than any one else, then, the HiiHy^nth was 
affected when the foe made his crossing to C£risy.* It 
fought hard and well, but Watts's troops, let us remember, 
were in a dangerous fix. Their front was too wide, and 
eveiy part of it was vital to Amiens ; they longed for their 
cavaJry, which had gone to the Thied Abmy, and also for 
fresh faces, the commg of new rifle-strength. To have the 
foe behind you is a startling experience wnen the foe is also 
before you, and by dark, March 27, the Germans from Cerisy 
had marched 5000 yards south-west to the great Amiens 
road, and had taken Lamotte, a village projecting south of the 
Amiens road from the south-east of Wfiafus^e-Abancourt.| 

Now Lamotte is about 9000 yards nearer Amiens than the 
Froyart-Framerville line. East of it, then, all British troops 
and guns were outflanked perilously. 

&>mehow, too, news of the British withdrawal from 
Chipilly happened to travel slowly. A leading officer under 
Watts heard of it only at 3 a.m. on March 27, when a 
situation report was received from Sir W. N. Congreve ; and 
all the reserves that he could scrape together were two 
anno«r«d cars and about 300 men. wii sixiewis ^ons. 

What was to be done ? Gough measured the crisis coolly 
and quietly, declining to exaggerate the hostile force south of 
the nver, and hoping that a counter-stroke would drive it 
out. On the 27th, uien, all day long, while a fluctuating 
battle raged along the Proyart-Bosik^es frontage, German 
troops were behind our tired men. It was like Alexander 
Dumas at his very best Episode after episode had in it the 
elements of great adventure. For example, the South Irish 
Division, already dwindled to a small body of men, ceased to 
exist as a fighting unit. Cavalry north of the Somme, at 
Gough's requesty pushed a division across the river at Corbie 
and took Uamel on the flank of the foe's invasion. This 

* By 8.16 p.m., WednesdAy, Mftroh 527, the Gensans had oroflsed from 
ChipUly to O^nsy after repaLring the bridge. 

f Lamotte-en-Santerre, not to be mistaken for Lamotte Brebidie, 6000 
yards to the east of Amiens. 


happened in the afternoon; and the foe — ahnost as exhausted 
as oar own men — ^was impressed by this promnt action, and 
also by Grant's Foroe * in entrenched line nom Maioeleave to 
the west of Lunotte. He seemed to fear a coanter«blow. 


In a series of pictures I wish to show the main events of 
day — a vexr critical day for Amiens — and one that every 
one of ns shoold be glad to remember. Suddenly, and only 
just in time» two scratch battslions arrived, Kinffham's and 
Little's ; and Little is one of those instinctive sddiers that 
our race produces, with much help from manly games and 

On the third day of battle Little was in a quiet spot of 
the Lake District, travelling home on leave. A newspaper 
came ; it showed plainly that the great show had begun ; and 
as Hargicourt was mentioned Little knew that his own 
battalion, the Fifth Borderers, was fighting. He cauffht the 
first train for Folkestone, and arrived there the following 
mominff. A f off ! Boats were not running. Little crossed as 
soon as ne could, and at seven p.m. on the 26th, with the help 
of trains, lorries, and his leps, he reached Corbie, and got 
from the O.C. of the Remforoement Camp a body of 
stragglers, and some other troops, about six* hundred in all, 
and six and twenty officers. At two a»m., on the 26th this 
improvised foroe set out from Corbie. The creed of Too 
LbJU, endemic in British? politics, had not found its way into 
this true soldier I 

As soon as it was daylight a halt was called, in order that 
the leader and the led might learn to know each other. 
Some experienced officers were present^ and to each of four 
captains Little gave a company. No one knew exactly 
where Malcolm's troops had reached in their retreat^ but some 
transport men who passed him in the road gave Little a 
due; and later in Lamotte he learnt that Malcolm was at 

The battalion marched to Harbonni^res, and at once found 
work to do. In the dusk, March 26, it was taken to relieve 
those jaded Lancashire men who were in line west of Baine- 
court, their left touching the Amiens road at that point 
south-east of Rroyart where troops of the Thirty'^vnth held 

• On Um «vinlng of fhs 9Tth Gnat retomad to hli own work, and Oaray 
foppliod Us plMo. 


the Beet-Sogar Factory. The Beet-Sugar Factory! How 
romantic this detail will be a hundred yean hence ! 

Little's arrival was a godsend ; and about the same time 
Kingham's little scratch force arrived. Evening sunlight 
after a dark dav. 

At last Malcobn's three brigadiers would be able to take 
a genuine night's rest. Officers were very scarce, and in the 
mormn^ — ^tluA eventful Wednesday, March 27---ihe Sixty- 
9ixth*8 infantry, whose effective strength was considerably 
less than that of a normal brigade, were under Lieut-Colonel 
Woodcock, commander of the machine-gun battalion, with 
Little virtually in control of the firont line. 

Ardent^ inspired leadership would be needed in the front 
line ; and it was there, and elsewhere. Malcolm, Jackson, 
Little, Biddell, Woodcock, Whitehead, Hurlbatt, Oell,— how 
well they fought, and how bravely they were seconded I But 
it was touch and go. 

At six a.m. a company of Kingham's force was sent to 
reinforce Little. During the night the Northumberland 
Fusiliers had taken over the defence of Vauvillers, aided by 
120 men and 6 officers of the Fifth Durham Light Infantry, 
and their left flank was in touch with the Sixty-sixth on the 
cross-roads north-east of YauviUers. South of the Northum- 
brians, in front of Bosi^res station, were other troops of the 
Fifth Durham Light In&ntry; at and below Bosieres were 
Heneker's men : * and a big attack upon Bosieres b^an at 
nine o'clock and extended along the railway line. 

Between ton and eleven the adventures of Little's force 
began. Troops on its left — tired men of the remnant South 
Irish, I believe— under a strong south-westerly pressure from 
the Proyart district, were broken, and went ba!ck until they 
were out of sisthU Then some Lancashire men on the right 
had to yield before a pressing thrust, and they went westward 
and out of sight Little's forward companies were exposed to 
enfilade fire, and were ordered to come back about two 
hundred yurds. During the movement they were badly 
shelled by some field artillery, and sprayed also by machine- 
guns ; but in a fine manner tJiey toox up their new positions. 

Then with one company little ^ rezused " his left fiank, 
and soon afterwards, with some Lancashire men, he was able 
to form another defensive flank by drawing back his right. 
But if counter>blows were not struck soon and keenly, the 
position might become critical For this reason Little went 

* Eighth l>mBiQS. 





fivbclp; Mil ■iiliBfc iti Fii|pliii nf tlw^ TrnrthmnTinr 
~ " ~ " ~ " eri i lMiif i il the 

Brigpdicr konied mMmj tbo gdt a eoonter- 

OB the left. Hisb s3Be off our troops 

the lights awi tfa^ mre told pee- 

cia^ iriicte thqr were wanted, awi wlni tlfeqr ■"■^ 

The gi ca icat danger ap pe a re d to be the noitiiem one. 
Tovaids the east an optn pbin etietdwd awiqr horn Harhon- 
;; the light mihraj, whose dbeetion will be aeen in my 
^ was a good brids^iead ; and west ct it^ nnniag firom 
HarbonniereB statian &e north to the A»ii—t xoed, was a 
system of tienehes protected 

The msin dangers^ then, would eome from north and sooth 
of this Haibonnieces Haae, mmteu the dire mieertainty of 

The foe was said to be woiking roond by the Sonune» end 
ITrnffhin with six hondred men was chosen to tantt on this 
nor& ode a defiansive flank to Little. The Sooth Lash, and 
a few Lsnesshire men, eontinned to &I1 bade, and soon the 
sitoation wss very graveu 

Conconrently a brisk ssmnlt devek^mi all along the North- 
nmlnjan line snd much fiuther afield; end next the Fifth 
Northomberbnd Fosiliera, misondentanding a proviaifxial 
order, withdrew hurriedly to Harbonnieres. Esger Gennan 
troops led the way into Uiis gap ; snd soon along the whole 
fronts German batteries were in foil blast Harbonnieres wss 
nnder fire, snd would be serspped by shells. 

RiddeU's left flsnk was enveloped ; his centre was broken ; 
and through shells thai borst m Harbonnihes, his Fifth 
Fusiliers nuhde a scattered retreat What nastier loolsitoation 
could have come from the lottery of war ? 

No reserves were within resdi apart from two weak units; 
the Twenly-Second Battalion, and the Eighth Durham Li^t 
Ii^sntry, who had been sent to the north-west of Harbonnikes 
to dig tiiemselves in to meet a possible attsck from Girisy. 

At last the foe had his chance to annihilate a span of our 
front Unless he stayed too long in the clustering villages to 
search after food,* a break-threuffh seemed easily within his 
power ; but not without a scramUe and much bayonet work. 

Biddell ordered the whole brigade staff to turn out and to 

* IhLiidsndatff'fbooktliereantivoorthiMXSDisikiOQtlM^rsyinwhioli 
Us troops wv slfcnwtsd bj AUlad proviiiaiig. As for drink, wino, simple 
sin ordmaimf maj have biSD found, now todithan, In oor dosertod doflo^, 
tod other drink too, we may sarama, In ftbe oaatosni Ihel we left beiiind. 


rally all stragglersy and then to go forward to Harbonni^red' 
eastern limita A telephone message told the Twenty-Second 
battalion to drive with a swift coanter-blow past the left of 
the Sixth Northumbrians; and the D.LlL were directed to 
advance round the north of Harbonni^re& 

While the brigade staff assembled under Captain Bell and 
Lieutenant Brown, stray men of the 8iaty*8ieBth were collected. 
A small scratch body was nosed, including remnants of the 
Field Companies, some Royal Engineers, and the Signal Staff 
of Hunter^s bri^^ade. SheUs meantime dropped here and there 
upon Harbonm^res, to detonate into spouting bricks and 
mortar, tiles, slates, and odds and ends of timber. 

Riddell was on horseback near Harbonnieres church, 
sheltering below the tower. A few yards away were two 
dead men, with three dead horses ; and on the dmrch steps, 
drooping and alone, sat a little old withered nun. She would 
not leave the church steps, this old nun, but hid herself when 
efforts were made to rescue her. As soon as possible ^e came 
back, with a firm feebleness; and why shoula she have wished 
to live on when her world on earth were those clustered 
villaffes close at hand which were disappearing one by one ? 

Slie did not look up when the brigade staff went by on 
their way to battle, marching in fours, and singing : " Good- 
byes, Good-byee, there's a silver lining in the skyee ! " A shell 
burst just before they turned into the square, dressed in all 
sorts of kit, just as they had left their work. Cooks' sons, 
and dukes' sons, and sons of a belted earl ; clerks in spectacles, 
sappers, signalling oflBcers, staff officers in red caps, and men 
who cleaned saucepans : ail were there, and with them some 
tired, grim Northumbrians eager to rejoin their fellows. They 
went eastward with a swinging stride, these mixed symbols of 
a free-and-easy empire ; went eastward with tiiat doggerel 
upon their lips and in their minds a new and strange glad* 
ness, for this day in their lives made all the others worth 
while. Soon they were out of sight; but now and then, 
between reverberating shell explosions, a word or two of their 
aonff could be heard. ** Good-byee . . . Skyee. ..." And 
the little old nun did not move. 

Riddell touched his horse and rode off at a gallop to the 
lihons voad, on his way to that part of the light railway 
which ran south-east. Here his odds and ends were gathered 
for their counter-stroke, with other men. 

It was a ffood line, beiiu; on the reverse slope of a hill and 
thus unseen by G^erman otnoers. 


The Fourth Northnmberland FusilierB could be heard 
fighting west of Vauvillers, while the Sixth Battidion 
hammered away along the light railway almost as far south as 
Bosi^res. To save a break-through a swift and extraordinary 
blow was essential. Gould it be given ? Only the bri^nule 
staff were fresh and fit ; but if the troops udled in Uieir 
exhausted condition. Heaven alone knew what would be the 
final result 

From his horse Biddell could see more than those on foot. 
When the foe was about three hundred yards away he 
ordered the advance : and forward for fifty or sixty yards the 

men ran in extended line ; halted, lay down, and then ? 

They let the foe have it with rifle and Lewis g^un. The 
German att€bck was in eight or ten waves. No need for the 
right of our Sixth Fusiliers to advance. With half-a-dozen 
machine-guns this battalion splashed the waves with raking 
bullets : and one leading wave after another fell prone. It 
hesitated ; then it turned, and eddied back into the support- 
ing waves. Here was the moment every soldier loolus for ! 
Biddell ordered his whole line to go in with its bayonets, and 
then galloped his poor old artillery horae in order to ring up 
his gnus by telephone. 

The guns, ready and alert, brought down their barrage 
just east of the Bosi^res-Vauvillers road and right 'on top of 
several supporting enemy waves. The effect was magical. 
Our foes trooped away like crowds on a racecourse, and our 
own men went on; sometimes as far as their line of the 
morning, and sometimes farther. Yauvillers was retaken, 
partly by Lancashire men under Lieut-Golonel E. A. Gell, and 
partly by Northumberland Fusiliers. The advance actually 
passed Lattle's line ; but no sooner did it stop than the Boche 
attacked again, and then — then our own men hesitated. 
They were spent. They turned about, and began to fall back, 
while Little s troops raked the Germans with enfilade fire. 

Meantime, advancing round the north of Harbonnibres, 
the Devonshires from the Eighth Division, aided by some men 
of the Fiftieth, had recaptured Framerville. This was a fine 
counter-blow ; and, let us note, it was accompanied by eight 
machine-guns taken out of tanks which arrived only just in 
time, like Little and Eingham. Only just in time ! ijad the 
troops in the British Isles ? How many precisely did they 
numW ? More than 200,000 ? 

What a day ! About sixteen miles from Amiens the foe 
had had an opportunity to break through. His attaok was 


dever and brave. Yet he had failed. And oar own success 
was incomplete because most of our men were overdone when 
they went into action, with the result, inevitably, that they 
reached a point of exhaustion beyond which their will-power 
ooold not carry them. This happened to Riddell's Northum- 
berland Fusiliers. They had oeen completely successful, 
taking prisoners and machine-guns, and driving the foe back 
in disorder. Butthey were short of ammunition. Ammunition 
was on its way to their front line when the men who had 
done 8o well at Yauvillers began to letire towards the light 
railway from which the counter-attack had set out At 
RosibreB the right flank held fast; and Northumberland 
Fusiliers, with a battalion of the Eigkth, made a fine effort to 
recover Yauvillers. To ask exhausted troops to go forward 
yet again was to court disaster. So it was decided to hold 
the light railway and to reorganize all forces. Riddell and 
Little collected a lot of men who had £Ekllen back, and 
echeloned them behind Little's right Afterwards the 
situation remained unchanged till nightfalL 

The day's fiffhUng had been costly, Riddell's Fourth and 
Fifth Fusiuers had not more than two hundred rifles between 
them; and the Sixth Fusiliers had lost their nllant com- 
manding officer. Colonel Wright, who was seriously wounded, 
like Captain Lacey-Thompson of the Fourth Northumberland 
Fusiliers. And losses were bitter and heavy in Malcolm's 
small force ; they included lieut-Colonel Hurlbatt, killed — 
a fine officer, whose death was as much deplored as that of 
Dimmer and Elstob earlier in the battle. 

Meantime, in Harbonni^res, the little old withered nun 
remained alone and in action. "She was seen once more," 
says an officer, "on the church steps as usual, but dead, 
a merciful shell having opened for her the gates of that 
Other World she had lived her life to see." 

§ m 

At eleven p.m. Corps orders were received for another 
short withdrawal at six o'clock next day. Six hours later 
this order was cancelled by another. Our men were to take 
up the line Caix-Guillancourt-Wiencourt and dig in, with 
some French troops on their ri^ht and our Thirty-ninth on 
their left. This change of policy had to be carried out in 
a few minutes, and written orders alone would be accepted by 
officers. Now it happened that the brigade Staff was in two 



EartB — one Tiora de conibcU, the other almost in collapse thiotigh 
itigne. And yet, somehow or other, the work was done 
before we dyilians in Britain had got out of bed. 

Though the work done at Harbonni^ree was (on this centre 
front) the most satisfactory of the whole retreat, giving the 
Boche such a thorough haid blow that he was in no condition 
on the 28th to resume at once his adventures there, I see no 
reason to doubt, as many do doubt, the expediency of this 
new withdrawal Exhausted men after yet anower hard 
fight suffered a reaction which a cold night increased ;* platoons 
and companies were jumbled up together and in need of being 
restored to their individual party spirit; and the C^risy 
episode was not yet ended, so it was the main thing to l>e 
considered by those who had many divisional fronts to review 
when they came to fresh decisions. The C6risy episode at one 
end of a battle front and an increasing menace to Montdidier 
at the other, with danger spots between them ; this was the 
general position ; and only persons on the spot could realize 
what the enemy had suffered in his &ilure at Harbonni^res. 

The Quillaucourt-Wiencourt line was used as a halting- 
place only, because troops at Caix^ between ten and eleven a.m., 
were unsteady, and reported that their right was turned. An 
effort was made to establish a defensive &nk from Cayeux to 
Wiencourt; but the jumbled companies and platoons were 
unfit for this job; and slowly during the day the retreat 
continued to the general line Ignaucourt-Marcelcave. 

Mischief begets mischief, and Watts and his troops were 
feeling more and more the need of their First Cavalry 
Division, and of those other B^fth Abmt men who were 
ffuarding Third Arht land. Throughout the retreat in the 
borderltmds, north and soutii of the Amiens road, in other 
words, there was an intense yearning for such information as 
divisional cavalry would have gathered. A troop of horse 
would have done wonders, stopping rumours by the dozen and 
anxieties by the score. As our ancestors got rid of archers 
long before their use had become an obsolete contributive aid, 
so we have disbanded too soon the divisional cavalry, as a 
great many officers have learnt from bitter experience. 

On March 28 an effort was made to recapture Lamotte. 
The day before Maxse's men had been relieved by General 
Mesple's French Corps, and one remnant division, the intrepid 
Sixty-f/rat, Colin Mackenzie^ was brought up in 'buses from 
the south to counter-attack against Lamotte. The southern 
part of the assault was to be done by its jaded men, while 


cavalry ^ would attack from the west Colin Mackenzie had 
only about 2400 rificB left, and not a man was yet in a fit 
condition to undeigo another fiery ordeaL Tet one and all 
behaved with the greatest gallantry, though they had to 
advance across fiat^ open grasdand with no cover and without 
artillery support, for one 18-pounder is not artillery. The 
attack b^gan at about noon, and a good bit of progress was 
made, unhappily to no purpose, for the Germans had many 
machine-guns in Lamotte and Bayonvillera At about 
four p.m. Lamotte retaliated, the Boche beaming to shell 
Maieelcave more heavily than usual; and as he was expected 
to attack from Lamotte in order to get in behind Marcelcave, 
some, of Colin Mackenzie's men were ordered to line the 
Harcelcave-Villers-Bretonneux railway on a front of about 
400 yards, with their right on Marcelcave facing north. Just 
at dusk the foe attacked Marcelcave, aided by a good deal of 
artillery; he advanced in two parties on each side of the 
railway, coming on at a wide extension in about six waves. 

After the village fell, a new defence was dug 600 yards 
west of Marcelcave, rain falling heavily, and veterans of the 
Sixty-Jint passed a quiet night there. The foe was nearly as 
tired as our own troops ; and if the Allies could have employed 
four or five fresh divisions for a simultaneous attack, great 
and necessary things could certainly have been done. They 
might have regained the Somme in a single day. Either on 
this evening, or on that of the 27th, (^ugh called up the 
C.G.S. to Elaig and expressed these views. Instead of fresh 
troops, spent men were thrown into the cauldron, as when 
Douglas Smith, whose division f was reduced to about 1000 
rifles, was sent to reinforce Watts. It took line about M^^res 
and helped on the 28th to succour Daly's few remaining 
heroes.! Even the Fowrteenth and Eighteenth were brought 
up to the Amiens front after their grapple against Hutier, so 
pitiless in its consequences was the tn^cal need of more men. 
Will civilized nations in a time of war ever impose a fitting 
punishment on those statesmen who fail to supply enough 
troops ? The best punishment would be immediate banish- 
nient to the front battle line. To preserve the statesmen that 
iail while sacrificing the flower of youth and bravery cannot 
be less than horrible folly. 

It was also on March 28, before midday, that Riddell 

* The Fini Oataiat, now tetomed from north of the Somma. 

t The IhperUUthf Mazse's Oorps. 

t TumUy-fomrth Dxvxsiov, Watto'g Corps. 


began a bitter experience. Oar left was in the hands of men 
who, in seven days and nights, had managed to steal not 
more than about eight hours of sleep. They had dug trenches 
without number, and in their marches and counter-marches, 
attacks and counter-attacks, had covered certainly not less 
than sixty miles. Suddenly they were assailed when they 
were in the act of scratching shelter for themselves in dusty, 
ploughed land and in fields of young wheat. They were 
defeated; and if we gallop north out of Calx along the 
GuiUaucourt road, accompanying the Brigadier, we shiSl see 
what happened. We breast a mil and reach the top. Below 
is a deep broad valley. On our right, along the valley's 
western side, and also over that hillock near the small wood 
on the south-east of Guillaucourt, scattered troops are falling 
back. They run all doubled up as men do under machine-gun 
fire. Close at hand bullets flick up little spurts of dust from 
ploughed fields, and we gallop into these fields and think of 
the retreating men, not of advancing bullets. Some men 
rally at once, though German machine-gunners have taken 
the wood south-east of Guillaucourt, and their fire in enfilade 
is a hail of torture. 

But on our left, happily, our own machine-gunners are all 
rights hidden on a hill crested by a small wood. Their fire 
rattles most comfortingly into purring bursta Yet the attack 
comes on ; it is only about eight hundred yards away, and its 
aim is to reach a crest overlooking the valley and Caix. Then 
Caix could be turned into a shambles and our centre and rights 
enfiladed, would be untenable. 

Below us on the south, sheltered by a steep-sided bank, 
men of our Twenty-second Battalion are at dinner, and have 
no guess of the surprise about to break upon them. We have 
about seven hundred yards or so to gallop, but we cry to 
them as we ride : " Fall in ! Fall in I " They sit in extended 
order under the bank, and their officers hear us. They fall 
in, in two ranks, and then they are told that at all costs they 
must reach the hilltop before the German advance. First 
they scramble up the steep bank. And then — then a surprise. 
All of a sudden the notes of a hunting horn come thrillingly 
from behind us, near the Harbonni^res road. It sounds to 
''the pack," and General Jackson himself is huntsman. 
" Forrwl away I " we ciy, every man Jack of us, for do we 
not belong to the Don Quixote of nations and empires? 
*' Forrard away, then ! " Up the hillside we go, but not so 
fast as the men who dined so comfortably. These good 


fellows reach the crest first — and back to Gaillaaconrt the 
Boehe retreats. 

We have saved the hill: but enemy machine-gans 
hammer away from that copse south-east of Guillaucourt, and 
many a good man is killed. Our left, too, is in the air, so a 
eouole of platoons are sent west along the Caix-Guillaucourt 
road into the woods to join hands with the ThiHy'^mth 

The Siatysiacth retreated somewhat south-west until it 
reached Hangard. On March 29 Neill Malcolm was wounded 
at Domart, and A. J. Hunter assumed command of the division. 
On this day, too, at Demuin, General Feetham was killed, I 
grieve to state. At all times he thought of and for his men, 
and knew when his presence among them under fire would 
ease their strain during a critical time. He was in the first 
line among his men when death came to him. He and his 
division, &e Thirty-ninth, are remembered with gratitude 
by the survivors of two corps — ^Watts's and Congreve'& 
Nfext day Brigadier Borrett was wounded ; and thus to the 
last the Sixty-aimlh was in the fire. Its final fight, a counter- 
attack, came almost within reach of capturing a battery of 
German field guns, and manv machine-guns, and firom two to 
four hundred prisoner& Seldom have exhausted men made 
an equal efibrt 

In the afternoon of March 80, two attempts were made to 
recapture the old Army line between Aubercourt and Marcel- 
cave. One of them — at about 5 p.m. — was an Australian 
attack ; it regained touch with Colin Mackenzie's right, but 
was held up TOfore it reached Aubercourt Earlier, soon after 
three o'dock. Brigadier Williams of the Sixiy-sixih, firom about 
2500 yards south-east of Mut^cave, set a oounter^troke in 
motion after coUecting all the men that he could find. 
Colonel Little was among the leaders, and he says : — 

** It was a fine show, just within an ace of being a huge 
socoessL It was wondcurful to see the lines, hastily got 
together, advancing under a perfect hail of machine-gun 
bmlets and shrapnel I was on the left with some two or 
three hundred men, and I saw something I had never seen 
before, namely, Hun gunners firing over open sights at us and 
running about feeding their guns. In a red-brick building 
were four machine-guns spitting firsi with any number ox 
others dotted about" 

Deraite this unusual fire, the thin advancing line did not 
^p. On the left it recaptured about two thousand yardR, 


but presently it reached a forward dope and came under a 
heavier fire still, which our men found impassabla Ck>lonel 
Little wished to go on, so eager was he to reach the German 
battery. On the right, too, the advance was held up by 
machine-guns, firing from the high ground north of Aubercourtw 
At last, after sufiering severe casualties, the fight ended 
Our men were pressed back again to the Hangard fine, which 
ran northward from the viUage to Hangard Wood. 

Later, at 8 p.m., the Sixty-^iath was relieved by the 
Eighteenth Division; its various fighting units, apart fix>m 
tnwsport^ had a total strength of about 2376 men, with some 
107 officers. 


Li this neck-or-nothing warfare, skeleton companies were 
obliged to counterattack with the spirit of battalions and 
skeleton platoons with the spirit of well-manned companies, 

Riddeil's withdrawal drew closer and closer to the high 
ground near White House and the two roads, Amiens-Boye, 
Demuin-MoreuiL This neighbourhood was reached on March 
29, the day on which the enemy attacked from the Avre to 
Demuin. It was also on this day that the few unwounded 
troops of our Fiftieth were joined to remnants of the 

For three days these genuine soldiers fought under Douglas 
Smith. Once they were driven back towards Amiens perhaps 
half a mile ; but after the first enemy rush they stood like 
rocka And not only did they break attack after attack — ^they 
regained some lost ground. How they did it was astoimdix]^, 
so small was their number and so complete was their fiettigue. 
At last^ on April 2, they were relieved by the remains of the 
FovHeenth, 3rd Corps, which had been brought from Hutier's 
southern battle for yet another ordeal. Then they limped 
their way to Longueau — and a prolonged sleep. 

Since March 22 they had been bufieted by the waves of 
Hutier's right, and had felt many bad swirling reactions from 
the doings of Marwitz and his divisions. Were tiiey proud 
that they had helped to stalemate an enormous i>lan of 
campaign as ably designed as the best in military history? 
Not yet They had overpast the fag-end of their strength, 
these Northumberland Fusiliers, and wanted to sleep now 
that duty did not forbid rest. 

On their way to Longueau, hard by Amiens, they met 


Freneh Poilus by the thousand goin^eaBt wiih brisk oonfidenoe ; 
and a great many British and French guns boomed into 
thunderclaps of defiance, framing the foe that Amiens had 
locked gates not to be forced 

Ludendorff in his book says : — 

" Strategically, we had not achieved what the events of 
the 23rd, 24th» and 25th had encouraged us to hope for. That 
we had also failed to take Amiens, which would have rendered 
communication between the enemy's forces astride the Somme 
exceedingly difficult, was specially disappointing. Long-range 
bombardment of the railway establishments of Amiens was by 
no means an equivalent 




THE noiihem fighting came from two combined 
offensives : 
1. The northern portion of Marwitz's Army, 
extending from Cologne Biver up to the Bapaame- 
Cambrai road, at the north base-angle of Flesqui^res salient. 

2. The battle of Bapaume-Arras, in which Otto von Below 
attacked Byng's centre and left. 

My subject being the Fifth Abmt, I shall speak only of 
those influences which passed from Byng's front to Oough's, 
and from Oough's to Byng's, When writing of the Third 
Abmy I shall quote as often as I can from Haig's dispatch, 
partly because a writer is always assumed te be too friendly 
towards his own subject^ and partly because many persons 
continue to repeat the slander that " the Byng Boys would 
not have lost a vard but for Grough and his men, who let 
them down badly. 

Here and there new facts will be given ; and inferences 
will be drawn both from Haig's evidence and from Army 
maps. Some questioning criticism will be offered for impartial 
debate : and let us make it a point of honour te be equally 
frank towards both armies as both should be kept on the 
same level towards our patriotism and fair play. 

One useful and necessary thing is to xeep always before 
our minds the boundary by which they were united. I show 
it in a correct map« in order that readers may see at once its 
vital importance to both armies in their hazardous retreat and 
in their liaison troubles. 

For some reason or other the official dispatdi neither 
shows this boundary in a map nor describes it in words. Even 
in the re-published dispateh, as edited by Haig's private 
secretary, Lieut.-Colonel J. H. Borasten, this all-important 



boundary is not given completely. Tom to the second volume 
of Haig^s book, and between pages 202-203 you will find 
a laige coloured map, in which the boundary is given 
correctly to a point south of Guillemont and no farther. 
Tet it ought to have been given in full to the south of 
Montauban, and thence sharplj^ south-west to Bray, as in 
the entirely accurate map which I am able to give. As 
a consequence all is vague in the boundary districts. No 
reader unacquainted with official maps can see when Byng's 
right keeps liaison with Gough's left, or when troops from 
Oough's left have to guard a strip of Byng's land. I note also 
that the dispatch becomes too indefinite as soon as Congreve, 
with the bulk of 7th Corps, is transferred from Ooiu^h to take 
over land from 5th Corps, Third Armt.* ^e Ninth 
Division is praised for a gallant combat at Mdaulte, near 
Albert, for example, but we are not told why Qough's left fluik 
division, on the morning of the sixth day, had to fight about 
four miles within Byng^s area. I have no inkling why the 

Srfais-writers at O.H.Q., when preparing notes for the 
ispatoht were so nebulous in these important particulars, 
because G.H.Q. itself attached so much value to the boundary 
unitiDg Cough and Byng that a revised boundary was planned, 
and on February 22, 1918, at noon, the old boundary was 
given up. 

In my map both boundaries are given, and we must study 
them carefully at once because the battle cannot be grasped 
fairly unless we learn them by heart Note these points : 

1. The new boundary from north-east of Gouzeaucourt to 
a point south of Montauban is gentler as a whole in its south- 
western course, and thus as a whole it is an easier boundary 
for Byn^f s right to f oUow. 

2. From south of Monteuban to a point a little north of 
Bray-sur-aomme, the boundary runs steeply down to Bray, 
forming a very narrow one-division front immediately west of 
Bray. This riverside front would be held by Gouffh's left 
flank division, the Ninth, aided by a reserve, and all troops 
south of the Ninth, would cross the Somme at Bray to 
reinforce the centre battle, north of the great highway to 

All this would be done if Bjngs right retreated 

* In the oolonred msp giTen In the second volome of Hslg*! book between 
pegee 208-90B, the etonping of the bonndary s Uttle eonth-weet of QaUlemont 
mftrks the point et whloh the balk of Gough*B northern Com lelnloroed the 
Tsimo Abut, whoee right and centre were in great perU ; but this fact 
ii left onezplained. 

188 THE ilPTH ARMY IN MARCH, 1918 

firmly along its soutliem boundary. If it failed to do ao, and 
retreated under pressure due west to Albert, Fifth Abmt 
troops would be drawn deep into Thibd Abmt land, and 
Goi^^h's defence south of the Somme would be starved of 
reinforcements coming from north of the river. This would 
be a dangerous misfortune, because, as we have learnt from 
Haig, O.H.Q. had no more reserves ready to send south of the 
Somme ; all local reserves had already been put into the fight : 
every mile of the German advance added to the length of 
front to be held; and, while the exhaustion of our 19th Corps 
was hourly growing more acute, some days had yet to 
pass before the French could bring up troops in sufBcieoit 
number to arrest the foe's progresa* Hence it was essential 
that Byng's right should follow its southern boundary firmly 
to Braynsur-Somme, in order that many of Qough's troops 
might cross the river into the centre battle. 

3. The new boundary increased Qough's responsibilities at 
the very moment when he required more troops, not more 
territories. A big expanse of new ground runs from west of 
Fins down to Bray. Iti includes the Bois des Vaux, the Bois 
St. Pierre Vaast, Bouohavesnes, Maurepas, Maricourt^ and 
their neighbourhoods. No doubt this new land on Gough's 
left supplied rear room for manoeuvres, an invaluable thing 
when an army is weU manned; but obviously weakening 
when insufiBcient rifle strength grows less as casualties 

4. The old boundary, note with care, is probably the better 
one, for its bold run south-west to Bouchavesnes afforded Byng 
the opportunity of forming — ^with as much help as possible 
from Gough's northern Corps, under Gongreve — a strong flank 
looking south-east on any German effort to reach F6ronne, if 
only he could hold his ground in front of Bapaume. Such a 
flank, even if it were not pushed forward to Moislains and 
the Mt. St Quentin, would be the best of all guardians for 
F^ronne ; it might cancel the loss even of the Pdronne bridge- 
head. The Hue of the Cajoud du Nord and the River Tortille was 
obviously the best rear line for this flank pressure. Hence 
it would be interesting to know why Q.H.Q., after altering the 
boundary, did not set apart enough reserve strength to hold 
a firm fiank along the line (let us say) of Qouzeaucourt, Fins, 
Nurlu, and on towards Pdronne.t donsider what we owed in 

* See the quoUtions given from Haig in Part II., chapter lii., pp. 114, 116, 
of this book. 

t After-thought suggests that perhaps G.H.Q. thought that it had done 


the Lys battle — ^whieh followed at onoe the events of March, 
1918— to the firm flank running north-west fix>m Givenchy to 
Clarence Biver. It was this steady, stalwart line that baffled 
LudendorflTs efforts to capture Hazebrouck and to throw us 
back on the coast. Gough had no men for a virile flank 
ronninff south-west from Gouzeauconrt; the utmost his left 
could do was to keep a reserve battalion at the boundary in 
Dessart Wood ; and as for the Third Army, it had on the 
boundaiy, between Equancourt and Manancourt» only a very 
thin brigade of the Second, while no fewer than three divisions 
wera p&oed. with 0.H.Q.'8 approval, in the narrow and 
shallow Elesquitees salient. Mere is another point which 
pussies me incessantly. • . . 

The salient^ much too small for a bi^ battle, was not at 
all likely to be assailed by a front attack oecause its defences, 
both natural and militaiy, were very formidable, what with 
Highland Bidge, and a captured portion of Hindenbure^s line, 
abundant wire, many well-hidaen machine-guns, and other 
defences. LudendoifTs aim, inevitably, was to cut off its 
garrison ; and hence the salient itself, thrusting a blunt ne^ro- 
nose towards Gambrai, was a thing of secondary value, which, 
indeed, might be turned into a trap. The useful and necessary 
things to consider were the defences across the base of it, and 
a very powerful system of trenches to guard its north flank, 
base-angle, and rear; next,a not less powerful protection for the 
south mink and rear. Why, then, place a crowded garrison 
of three divisions in the saJieut ? Is it not quite true that 
strength at the wron^^ places means perilous waste in battles, 
while at right places it wins victory ? 

Even in peace manceuvres thiee divisions could not be 
moved easily after dark from a }daoe so cramping. The few 
roads would become over-thronged ; here and there a wheeled 
tiling would break down and block the way ; and as for those 
troops who had to go steeply south-west from the Yillers 
Plouich sector to Equancourt and Manancourt, they mi^ht 
easily get into hitches and scrapes. In actual war all diffi- 
culties were multiplied vastly. Haig tells us that Byng's 
ri^ht remained till the evening of March 22 on Highland 
Sidge and in the Hindenburg Tine, with the most southern 
troops holding Yillers Plouich as a bastion. We are not told 
why these defences were held so long, when the position both 

•0. OttUlnly Byng't wm fwy mooh the rtrongar British umjjMK jaid of 
noQnd, and Byng bsd to dasl manly with tha Qwauai Moooury sttsok. 
Ferhapa O.H.Q. beUsvsd thst ho hsd tcoopi enoogb to mMtsU ezigeiioiflB. 


north-west and south-west of the salient had been menacing 
all day ; but we do team that in the evening of March 22 the 
foe made a heavy flank attack against YiUers Plouich as well 
as a delaying onset at Havrincourt. These German move- 
ments were repulsed, but nothing could have been worse for 
a retreat south-west. The foe followed vigorously through 
the night, and, as we shall see, Byng's right was pressed away 
from its liaison with Gough. 

Hitches occur in all complicated retreats, and never 
should they be magnified ; but from time to time they must 
be noted, not because they are blameworthy, but because 
of their efiects. Till Byngand G.H.Q. explain the whole 
of their policy towards flesqui^res salient, no student, 
military or other, can understand either the absence of enough 
reserves along the boundary or the presence of so many 
troops in the salient Some persons assume that as the 
salient was won in a battle which had a misfortunate final 
phase, both G.H.Q. and the Third Abmt valued it over- 
much, in accordance with that natural habit of mind which 
magnifies anything done with great difficulty. There's no 
need here to nave views on this point, as the main object here 
is to state problems and to see whether they are foes or friends 
to that equipoise which defence needs when it is assailed. 


When we look at the boundary in its relation both to 
Flesquieres salient and to the whole retreat^ we must keep 
always before our minds a principle of war which may be 
accepted as a permanent axiom. If two military forces make 
a continuous line in a battle, like Byng's force and Gough's, 
and if one i^ strong while the other is weak, the stronger 
force should regard it as an obligation to hold and keep mm 
union with the weaker. The reasons : — 

1. When the strong force fails to do this, the weak one 
has to extend its flank into the strong one's ground ; so its 
weakness is weakened — a terrible fact when it is f^hting 
against great odds, while the strong one has less pressure to 
hold oft 

2. If the strong force, like the weak one, has odds against 
it, firm union with the weak one is equally imperative, since 
the weak one is less fitted to bear overstrain ; and if the weak 
is overwhelmed in the boundary districts, the strong force has 
its flank rolled up and its rear invaded. 


3. Hence it is an act of self-help for the strong force 
always to keep enough reserved strength at the boundary, 
and to do aU in its power to reinforce its weak neighbour at 
necessary moments. 

Sound principles in war are obvious common sense ; hence 
they fare often in battles as trite ffood aphorisms do in every- 
day life— badly. What need would there have been for Fifth 
Armt troops on Third Army land if the stronger army had 
retreated in time from Flesqui^res salient and hful held either 
a firm flank or a firm course along the boundary ? 

In a question of this importont sort a writer of history 
cannot bMt about the bush ; so it is necessary for me to say 
that I have sought in vain, both in official maps and in 
authentic written evidence, for prompt and efiSdctive liaison 
movements by the units of Bjmgs right 

Yet every one must have met Third Armt men who have 
said : " Our right flank, you know, was uncovered by GougL*' 
To receive reinforcement from Gough, and then to nring this 
allegation lagainst him, is somewhat contradictory. North of 
the Somme troops from the Fifth Army held much more 
than their own ground till they were relieved, mainly by 
Australians. Here is a fact, and a fieust is neither cancelled 
nor hurt by a thousand arguments. 

The precis-writers at O.ELQ. seem to have forgotten this 
platitude, for at one point they accepted a view gathered 
from Byng's southernmost division — a view expressed by all 
units when they are ob%ed to retreat, namely, that their 
flank was left in the air by their neighbours. In other words, 
the Foriy-aeveTUk Division, 6th Corps, Third Army, declares 
that its flank was left in the air bv the Ninth Division, 7th 
Corps, Fifth Army; while the Ninth blames the Forty- 
sevmth for the same routine misdeed. Which of these 
allegations is correct ? O.H.Q. takes sides with the Forty^' 
aetmUh, paying no attention to the presence of the Ninth's 
left on land which ought to have been held by the Forty- 
seventh's south brigade. Further, G.H.Q. has passed over in 
oilenoe the frequent and pointed warnings sent by Gh>ugh's 
left to Byng's right* So a student is natiually perplexed and 

As O.H.Q. has published errors in this matter, and as 
historical truth is our aim, I give a chapter in Part IV. as a 
refutation. But a quiet statement of tacts must go hand-in- 
hand with the recognition that precis-writers are liable to 
hlunder here and there while striving to reduce into order a 


chaos of details ; and when a Commander-in-Chief, with vast 
current affiurs pressing upon him, has to compile a lon^ dispatch 
on a battle several monuis old, errors made by pr6cis- writers 
pass into an authoritative document. For all that students 
cannot help being troubled by the way in which all boundary 
matters are treated in the dispatch. Readers are not told 
that even such important places in the defence as Combles 
and Morval are within Bjrng's sphere, though bad events 
happen there, and the Ninth's Highlanders iSy to restore a 
very menacing situation. 

One point more. As it is necessary for a strong armv 
always to hold strong liaison with a weak one, so in a weak 
army it is essential tiiat the component units should strive 
unceasingly to protect the land within their own boundaries 
and to keep strong union with one another. No unit has men 
to spare, and hence it cannot send help to a neighbour with- 
out impairing its own weakness. Here is another common* 
place that adds drama and pathos to the interchanges of help 
that Gough's units gave to one another, while Marwitz was 
aiding Otto von Below. 

Ludendorff hoped that these Oerman officers would take 
stress and strain off each other turn by turn, and that they 
would manage to push through between P6ronne, Bapaume 
and Ervillers, while the central and southern offensives over- 
whelmed a very thin defence before Allied resources could 


Let me ask you to examine my map of the whole battle- 
field with the massed Oerman armies in their approximate 
order of battle. It is dear that Otto von Below's power, 
redoubtable as it is, must be regarded as a minor one, com- 
pared with the odds which assailed Gou^h. Below and 
Marwitz employed in all twenty -eight divisions each, includ- 
ing three that they shared together. These three divisions 
were the Fowrth, the Hundred and NvneteeTUh, and Hvmdred 
a/nd EUventK Marwitz had thirteen in first line, eight in 
support, and seven in reinforcements, while Below had twelve 
in first line, nine in support, and seven in reinforcements. 
Only four divisions in the Marwitz groups, when fighting 
began, were in line against Byng ; they were those arouna 
Flesquitees salient ; and soon they became as troublesome to 
Qough's lefib wing as they were to Byng*s right So the 



defence which the NinOi had prepared as the goa r dian ol 
Ooogh's left and rear. 

Within its own territory, too, the NirUh would protect 
Byng's right, but not, of course, without adequate 8upi>ort 
from its neighbour. Happily it was a powerful divisiona 
with a commander of impressive character and uncommoa 
good gifts as a soldier. Not yet have Tudor and his men 
received much credit for their work, except from the foe, who 
had many reasons to speak of their brigades with wondering 
respect. It is a thousand pities that Byng did not place the 
OuABDS Division on his extreme right; then the NirUh 
would have had a collaborator as great as itself, and many a 
good result would have aided the defence. 

Both infantry and ffunners were aided by some special 
training. For nearly six weeks they had been out of the 
line, and through half of this time had been exercised in 
sham open warfare. In the circumstances, then, the Ninth was 
fortunate ; and after its brief training there was work enough 
with spade and pick to teach its men to know their defences 
and to keep their sinews from being slackened by dugouts 
and trenches. One and all were entirely fit. Their order 
of battle : 

Left Front, the 26th (Highland) Brigade commanded by 
Kennedy : Eighth Black Watch, Seventh Seaf orths, and Fifth 
Camerons ; 74 officers and 2593 other ranks ; an average of 
864 rifles per battalion, including '' details '' ; so the brigade 
of three battalions was only 407 men below maximum 
strength. This was too many for such a huge battle, but the 
NintK was lucky in its numbers nevertheless. Sir F. Maurice 
certainly is right when he says, concerning Haig's fifty-eight 
divisions, " hardly a battalion, a battery, or a squadron had 
its full complement of men" in March, 1918.* 

Right Front, a fine South African Brigade, commanded by 
Dawson ; 91 officers and 2718 other ranks ; an average of 907 
rifles per battalion, including '' details." 

Divisional artillenr had 107 officers and 2452 other ranks ; 
the Ninth Battalion Machine Oun Corps, 37 officers and 753 
other ranks ; and as for the reserves, in the Ninth Seaf orth 
Highlanders, Pioneers, there were 24 officers and 857 other 
ranks; and the 27th (Lowland) Brigade, commanded by 
Croft, consisting of the Eleventh and Twelfth Boyal Scots 
and the Sixth King's Own Scottish Borderers, poss^sed 2636 
men and 69 officers. 

<* " The LMt Four Months," p. 19. 




The total man-power, with artillerymen, machine-gunners, 
and pioneers, was 402 officers and 12;039 men. The total 
rifle-strength, indading pioneers, was below the maximum 
by 1195 men. For all that, what a blessing it would have 
been if this man-power had been present and active in every 
division of our Fifth Armt. 

Each brigade in the battle front employed one half of its 
forces to defend the forward zone and one half to guard the 
battle zone. In the forward ssone men were to fight as in 
forlorn hopes; no counter-attack on a large scale would be 
made to rescue them or to recover what they had lost. Their 
liattle zone was the main theatre ; artillery posts were chosen 
principally for its protection; and if the loe broke into it, 
and no order for a withdrawal came, counter-blows were to 
be struck with fuU strength. 

The Corps Commander, General Congreve, was very well 
satisfied bow with the Ninth and with his Corps' defences. 
His front was too deep and too wide to be manned all 
through, so it was held by a series of strongposts or redoubts, 
with guns and machine-guns covering all intervals. On the 
left, and also on the extreme right, where deep valleys lay, 
the field of fire was pretty bad ; elsewhere it was very good 
aad widespread. As for strongposts, taken from left to 
right, they were Oouzeaucourt village, St Quentin Ridge, 
and Oaudie Wood,* Chapel Hill and Vaucellette Farm, 
Peizi^, Ep^y, Malassise Farm, and Ronasoy. Behind these 
there were other strongposts in every zona The defences 
were called from front to rear the Jmd Line, Yellow line. 
Brown line and Oreen Line. This last was heavily wired, 
but shallow, here as elsewhere. Still, it had some mined dug- 
outB» like the other lines. 

* Th6M three were in the NhUh*i area. 





ON March 21 the salient itself was ahnost a haven of 
rest. Near the northern base anffle the SeveTi* 
teenih was active with its left wing, and there 
was a tepid raid of perhaps two battalions 
against a part of Oorringe's line; but from the upper base 
angle north-westward to the Senses River, between eight 
and nine miles, a very grim conflict was active all day 
long. Otto von Below's left and centre were at work, 
crashing with nine well-armed divisions, and Byng, north* 
west of the salient^ on these eight or nine miles, had to throw 
eight divisions into fierce action : the Thirds Thirtif-faurik, 
Fartutk, Fifty^Twnih, Twenty-fifth, Sixth, Fifty-fini, and 
NmeUefuvth.* Marwitz had four divisions around &e salient, 
watching the British three inside: the SeveWUevUh on the 
British kft, the SixtyAhird in our centre, and in the south, 
fonning liaison with Gough's left, the Forty^ieoemiih^ London 
Territorials. As the northern part of the SevefifUMmth was in 
action on the first day, Byng had % divisions inside the 
fighting. Along equal spans of front Gough had never more 
than 3^ divisions, usually less, though the odds against him 
were a great deal heavier. 

It is commonly supposed that on March 21 the Grerman 
armies employed many of their second-line troops. This error is 
circulated even by Lieut.-C!olonel John Buchan, in his excellent 
book on " The South African Forces in France " (p. 170) :— 

" Against nineteen British divisions in line Ludendorff had 
hurled thirty-seven divisions as the first wave, and before the 

* The Tweniy»iifth oame during the day izom Bapaume, and the Fortieth 
from a point on the Biver Orinchon, about seven or eight znilee toath-weat ol 
Arras. It went to the St. Leger sector, a danger spot. 



dark fell not less than sixty-fonr Gterman divisions had taken 
part in the battle-Hi number much exceeding &e total 
strength of the British Army in France." 

I wish Ludendorff had oeen mad enough to act in this 
preposterous manner. His first-Hue divisions were veir 
numerous and so dose together that they could not attack 
throu^rh a whole morning of thick fog without getting iheir 
units into much confusion ; and his new tactics had for their 
central aim the art of getting the man-power of massed 
formations without offering thick targets to hostile fire. So 
his first-line divisions were trained to advance in a thin wave 
with the men in open order, and constantly renewed in 
strength from the rear. Those brigades who had to follow 
the slowly creeping barrage were practised behind a barrier 
fire of live shells ; and as Ludendora desired above all thin^ 
to achieve his purpose with the suiallest possible loss m 
casualties, he^ opposed energetically the use of second Une 
divisions durioff the battle's opening phase. To crowd into 
action more and more divisions wouM ruin inevitably his firm 
belief both in open order and in highly specialised bodies of 
troops welded by practice into the common pack of carefully 
trained ordinary nflemen. On the second day, here and there^ 
a second line division was called into the first line, but even 
these few exceptions were so at variance with Ludendorff^s 
tactics that they must have been a bitter disappointment to 
him. ^ Note in nis book how eager he was always to keep his 
men in open order and to fi^rht Uiromrh several days with the 
nnt*une divisions only. 

Otto von Below's nine divisions on eight or nine miles 
of front must have lost in the fog their open order; and in 
meeting eight British divisions during the day, in a new 
Waterloo fought between forces of almost equal strength, their 
losses must nave been unusually severe. Indeed, Ludendorff 
says that Below's losses were too heavy on the first two days, 
and that his capacity for later work was impaired by those 
losses. B^ng, too, must have suffered severely, for heavy 
losses are mevitable when almost equal powers keep at death- 
grip through two terrific days. As for the northern pact of 
the salient, Byns^s Seventeenth had agunst it Marwits'^B right 
fiank division, the Tweniy-fowrth Rssxrve aided by Below's 
left flank division, the Hv/iwrei amd Nvneleenth. 

By midday on the 21st Byng's battle zone was entered at 
Beveml points, but fortunately not astride the Canal du Nord, 
>^uining about midway between BLavrincourt and Hermies^ 


and thus of vital need to the salient's garrison. Not much 
general progress was made here, thanks to Robertson and the 
SeverUeenih ; but farther west Doignies was lost, and Louvaval 
also, and the battle zone had been stabbed at Noreuil, and 
Longatte, and Ecoust St. Mein. 

Ludendorff imagines that Otto von BeloVs troops lost the 
protective barrage, bat this view is contradicted by the rapid 
advance against a very powerful defence. 

** Fighting in and in front of our battle positions continued 
with the greatest intensity throughout the afternoon and 
evening,'' says Haig. " On the Third Abht front, our line 
in the Flesqui^res salient had not been heavily attacked, and 
was substantially intact. Beyond this sector, fierce fighting 
took place aroimd Demicourt and Doignies, and north of the 
village of Beaumetz-lez-Cambrai. In this area the Fifty-fir^^ 
under G. T. C. Carter-Campbell, was heavily engaged, but 
from noon onwards practically no progress was made by the 
enemy. A counter-attack carried out by two battalions of the 
Nindeenth,* G. D. Jeffreys commanding the division, with a 
company of tanks, recovered a portion of this ground in the 
face of strong resistance, and secured a few prisoners^ though 
it proved unaole to clear the village of Doignies. 

" Lagnicourt fell into the enemy's hands during the after- 
noon, and heavy attacks were made also between Noreuil and 
Croisilles. At one time, hostile infantry were reported to 
have broken through the rear line of our battle positions in 
this sector in the direction of Hory. By nightfall the 
situation had been restored;! but meanwhile, the enemy 
had reached the outskirts of St. Leger and was attacking the 
Thvrty-fovHh, under C. L. Nicholson, about Croisilles heavily 
from the south-west. A strong attack launched at five p.m. 
against the Tliird, under command of 0. J. Deverell, north of 
Fontaine-les-Croisilles, on the left bank of the Sens6e River, 
was broken up by machine-gun fire." % 

* A support division broaght into action by » menaoing situation ; and so 
vere two otner divisions, the ForHeth and TSotnty-fifth. On the second day 
Bvng had twelve divisions in action : ThWd^ Quards, Thirty-fourth, FortUtJi, 
F%fty-mnth, Sixth, Ttoenty-fiWi^ffimtemUh, Fifty-first ; and three in the saUenk 
On the thiid day, from the Soarpe down to the neighbourhood of our Fifth 
Abmt'b boundary, fifteen divisions were fighting : Fifteenth, Third, Quards, 
Thirty-fotirth, Thirty-first, Fortieth, Fifty-ninth, Forty-first, Ttoenty-fiftJi^ 
Nineteenth, Fifty-first, Second, Seventeenth, Sixty-third, Forty-seventh, 

t This fact shows the value of abundant reserves on the spot. Qongh'a 
troops as a rule had to oounter-attaok with numbers tragioaUy small. But 
the break-through towards Mory is very remarkable. 

X Vol. ii., pp. 18&>190. Note the leverage preflsure from south-tcest 
againit OroiriUes, a very important stronghold. 


Correct maps show what this infonnation means. On 
March 21, along a narrow span of eight or nine miles, Byng 
lost almost the same varying depth of land as Gough lost on 
Mb very wide front, as at Cnapel Hill, Bonssoy, Le Verguier, 
Maissemy, Holnon, Savy, Gontescourt, Essigny, and Quessy. 


^ t 1 i A 






; MABCH SI, 1918, WITB 


Of course, an advancing battle line cannot be given at all 
aoeorately, since it alters from honr to hour ; and it should 
be measured from the attack's startiniif pointy and not from 
the defenders' line* My map on p. 149 gives the line from 
which Byng's troops were pressed back, not the line from 


wliidi the attack set forth on its adventoreflL South of St. 
Leger — ^in the Eooost St. Mein sector — the hostile advance 
was about 6000 yards ; along the Bi^paome-Cambrai road, 
about 4700 yards; and the loss of Doignies, with German 
messare to the ontakirto of Beanmets and Morehies, menaced 
flesqmeres silent, enforcdng a withdrawal* Morchies and 
St. Leger were dose by the end of the battle nme. When 
the foe broke through towards Moiy, happily to be turned 
back, he was on his way to the rear zone. On the first day, 
evidently, Byng lost more than Goujzh in depth of finont per 
brigade of man-power in action, yet mlse rumour began to do 
great injustice to the Fifth Abmy. Very soon the loss of 
Essigny was a shock to most persons, while the break-through 
towards Moiy and the critical position of St. Lecer and 
CroisUles, even when known, were scarcely criticized at all 
Many things in the moods of war feelings are inscrutable^ 

Meantime, south of the salient, Congreve and Watta had 
been hard set in a defence of equal grip and ferocity; and 
the land lost, though not deep,t had unbalanced the defence 
south of Tudor's bturier division, above all in the neighboui^ 
hoods of Bonssoy and Templeux with ita quarries. About 
noon Congreve heard that Germans had broken throu^ on 
his ri^t, perhaps through the right of Hull's South Irish, 
our SioBteerUh Division, or perhaps through the left wing of 
Malcolm's capital fighters. In any case, a turning movement 
was active. It came uphill from Cologne valley, broke 
through the switch running along a ridge fix>m Ronasoy to 
Brown Line, and TOt into our guns covering this part of 
Coogreve's front. A brigade of South Irish tried to recov^ 
the switch. The^ got no farther than Brown line from the 
south of St. Emihe, and they were badly shaken by the day's 
ordeaL A good many of them, I fear, did not fight as weU 
as they might have fought; but the Second Munsters held 
the southern part of Ep6hy — an inestimable boon to our 

Hour after hour was spent by Congreve and Watta in 
bitter hard poimding all along the line, apart from that 

* At BoiiMoy the South Irish lost abont 4700 yards; at Malssemy tlia 
Tweniif'/ourth went back about 6760 yards; and as for the Fomttenih at 
Sssigny, from 7000 to 7600 yards is the estimated loss. 

t Indeed, the defenoe by nnits below strength in our 19th Corps was 
astonishingly good, but very costly in oasoalties. On a front of nearly 

18,000 yards Watts had only two infantry divisions, aided by the First 
Oavaxat, whioh on liaroh SI was brought from the Pteonne seotor into the 
fighting area north-east of Yermand. 


portion of Tador's front which £aced Gonzeanoonrt and north- 
ward. Here no serions attack was made, as LndendorflTs 
purpose was to unsettle Tudor by indirect means.* Pressure 
west of Ronssoy and Templeux continued, and as the advance 
appeared to have made headway down Cologne valley and to 
be fixed in parts of Brown line east of St. Emilie, Congreve 
ordered two brigades of Feetham's Division, the Thirty-nirUh, 
to entrench a switch from Brown Line at Sauloomt over 
high ground east and above Longavesnes to the north end of 
Tincourt Wood, where it would meet the Green line. 

Tudor lost only Gauche Wood, but not untU the South 
African defence had maimed the foe's attack ; and on two 
occasions the brave South Africans helped Campbell t to 
recapture Chapel Hill on Tudor's right flank. These brilliant 
comcMkts must be described, in onler that their full worth 
may be known to those who have not studied them closely. 


At about five minutes to nine, after the foe's creeping 
barrage had begun to herald the German storm troops, fog 
on the Ni/niKs front was more freakish than elsewhere. 
Some patches of light — '' as frt>m a flight of blushing angels 
unseen" — ^got into it, for the attack used a smoke screen 
from belching trench mortars when advancing against Gauche 
Wood, the extreme south-eastern comer of the NintKs 
forward zone, just a little south of Quentin Redoubt. 

The foe came on with true courage and thorough training ; 
scrambled into the Wood, at flrst from the east^ and now 
the South African garrison — ^"B" company of the Second 
Regiment, under Captain Garnet Green, a cool and resourceful 
officer — had a very stem grapple to pass through. 

It held four strong posts, three inside uie Wood and 
one in the open on the south-west side. A single company 
was divided between these posts, so every man had to 
do his very best, aided in the Wood by two machine-guns and 

* Tndor = Ninth Dxvisiok. Please keep alwayi in mind that the Qermui 
policy WM to break their way through the Ttomtv-fl/rst and the Soath Irish, 
or SixteefUh. Two results of this policy were that the Nviith*B right was 
constantly being nncoTered by the TwefiU^ilrita left, while the TwefUy-flinVt 
right was being unoovered by the S%xUmtW$ left Always to remember this 
crumbling stress and strain south of the Nvnth is essential to a right under- 
Rtanding both of the Mn^V« magnificent work and also of the enormous 
pressure against Gough's northern corps. 

t The Twenty-flrst Divibiok. 


a detaehment of the Brigade Trench Mortar Batteiy under 
lient Hadlow. 

If an assault had come from the east alone, there would 
have been less cause for anxiety, a direct attack beinff 
a simple matter of "bludgeon work," or * damned hard 

Kunding," to use Wellin^n's descriptions; but it got 
tween the South African outposts north of Qaudie Wood, 
crossing Lancashire Trench, and entered from the north 
over &>mme Alley, another trench. Several posts were 

This enveloping thrust was patient and skilful,^ like the 
defence, which fought with a will under Lieutenants Bancroft 
and Beviss. At iMt Bancroft was overwhelmed. Only one 
of his men escaped. But Beviss had better fortune. His 
troops — about half of a platoon — ^fouffht their way back to 
Captain Qreen and took up their <fefenee again. As for 
machine-gunners, and those who served light trench mortars, 
they held on till they were either killed or captured. 

When Qreen knew that his foes were active on three sides^ 
in overpowering numbers, he withdrew his men sullenly from 
Qauche Wood to join the fourth post in the open ground on 
the south-west Oncoming Germans lost their open order, 
they were dose togeUier. Perhaps the screen of smoke and 
mist made them recldess; in any case Lewis guns ripped holes 
at point-blank ranse in their bundung waves. So numerous 
were their losses uiat they did not try to get bevond the 
Wood's western ed^. Instead, they began to dig themselves 
in, though in full view of the next Britiw line. 

Many Germans in the Wood could be seen slao from the 
Quentin Redoubt, and the garrison there^ a company of the 
First South Africans, fired at them with Lewis guns and 
rifles. Then Dawson, the South African Brigadier, ordered 
the whole of his artillery to ravage the lost ground ; so the 
foe's position there became an awful blend of earthquake 
with bursting volcanoes. Still, Gauche Wood was lost. 
Green's company went into battle with 150 or 160 men; it 
came out with only 36 or 40. 

Northward, all day long, there was little stir. Kennedy's 
lers were not attacked, as LudendorflTs aim was to 
outflank the NirUh from the south by crumbling a way rapidly 

* OmUIii OrMa, in s tdaplions oonvtnskioii, told Dswion, his Brindisr, 
thu «*iM GtfBsa offiottt wan laftding their man magnifioenthr, sod were 
oomlag on ebflolntely regudleas of danger." He added, «* We'te killed e beU 
of • lot of them." 


through the Twenity-fi/rst and Siarfemt&w The Twenty-faret, 
CamiK)ell's men, at about noon, lost Chapel Hill, and as this 
mishap outflanked the South Afiiean Brigade, Dawson gave 
immeaiate help. He turned southward those of his men who 
held Lowland Support (the rear trench of Yellow line), west 
of Chapel Hill, forming a good flank on the enemy's advance; 
and early in the afternoon a reserve company of the Natal 
Regiment was sent to stiffen this flank. It encountered the 
Germans on the hill's northern slope ; there was a bomb fight, 
and neither side could progress. 

At this moment the South African forward troops were 
about a mile east of the hill, dangerously outflanked. South- 
ward the attack pressed on agamst the TweTdy-jirst and iStcD- 
t^entik, and then worse news came. After midday the foe got 
behind Yellow line, and Genin WeU Copse was assailed till 
some South African Scottish brought relief by means of 
flanking fire, aided by some machine-gunners .who were 
station^ in the ruins of Bevelon Farm. My map^ of the 
Ninth's whole front will make these facts dear, and wiU show 
also how insidiously perilous were the foe's efforts to crumble 
his way through the TwefUy-frrst and Hull's South Irish, the 
Sixteenth. If those linked bastions, EpAy and Peizi&e, had 
not remained firm on their high ground, a big disaster would 
certainly have happened. 

Just after dusk, two N.C.O. patrols, each with a corporal 
and two men, were sent out^ and they brouffht in between 
them nearly fifty German prisoners, who, when tiiey came 
forward and surrendered, declared that the German casualtieB 
had been appalling, as none could live in such a hot fire. 

The main business for the South Africans was to retake 
Chapel HilL Captain Bunco's company of the South African 
Scottish was ordered to do this noisy, scrambling work, and 
late in the afternoon, iust after dusk, it overran Chapel Hill and 
took some trenches also on the south and south-eastern dopes. 
Then posts could be established between the hill and Genin 
Well Copse. 

Although Tudor's uniiy with Campbell was protected by 
a firm grip on Chapel Hill, Lowland Support, Bevelon Farm, 
and Bailton,^ yet events in Cologne vaiiW and north of it 
threatened his line of retreat south-west Then at five pjn. a 
message fix>m Congreve's B.G.G.S. brought the news that the 
5th Corps, TflntD Abmt, would fiOI back by niffht to its 
Bed line, which was a continuation of Tudors Ydlow line. 
This withdrawal would uncover Tud(»^s forward zone, and 


thus he would be obliged to retire with Gorringe's right 

This withdrawal may have come as a surprise to Grorringe 
and the Forty-seventh^ as it did to Tudor and the Ni/nm; 
because at 4.40 p.m. the Ninth was in communication with 
the Forty-aeveTith, and no bad news was related. Indeed the 
news was cheery. According to German prisoners^ the raid 
on the Forty-aeventii was carried out by only two battidions ! 
If the TaiBD Abmy's most southern division was not kept in 
touch during the day with events north of the salient^ troops 
inside the salient's lower flank had an imperfect knowledge of 
the main events and also of their own position as affect^ by 
these events. 

In anv case, Below and Marwitz had done so much 
mischief that there was cause for anxiety. 

Watts, with his intrepid but weak divisions, Daly's and 
Malcolm's, had done a great deal more than a reasonable 
country should have askra them to attempt. On the right 
they had lost Maissemy, a key village, and on their left the 
Templeux positions, strategiciu pointo, but they had managed 
by desperate coimter-attacks, very costly and fatiguing, not 
only to keep the centre of their battle zone, but al^ to check 
the foe's advance where it was most harmful Malcolm gave 
ground slowly, losing between 10.30 a.m. and nightfall not 
more than about 45M) yarda At nightfall his right rested 
near Le Yeiguier, where some of Daly's troops — ^the 8th 
battalion of the Queen's, belonging to the 17 th Brigade — 
fought brilliantly. 

A Victoria Cross was won in the Le Verguier sector by 
Lance-Corporal John William Saver, of the Eighth Boyal 
West Surrey Regiment, when holding for two hours, in face 
of incessant attacks, the flank of a small isolated post. The 
official account says : " Owing to mist the enemy approached 
the post from both sides to within thirty yards before being 
discovered. Lance-Corporal Sayer, however, on his own 
initiative and without assistance, beat off a succession of 
flank attacks and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. 
Though attacked by rifle and machine-gun fire, bayonet and 
bombs, he repulsed all attacks, killing many and wounding 
others. During the whole time he was continuously exposed 
to rifle and nmchine^gun fire, but he showed the utmost 
contempt of danger, and his conduct was an inspiration to alL 
His skilful use of fire of all description enabled the post to 
hold out till nearly all the garrison had been killed and 


himaelf wounded and captured. He subseqaently died as a 
reault of wonnds at Le Cateau." 

Equally brilliant and helpful was Major Whitworth's 
defence ci CSarpeza Copse, vnth a mixed force of cavalry and 
Manchester soldiers, it held the attack at bay until Malcolm 
was ordered to retire, on March 22. Whitworth died of 
wounds — ^to be gratefully remembered by all survivors of 
Gouffh's Army. 

Though Watts's Corps, both infantry and cavalry, had 
acted as a strong breakwater, heavy losses, united to the 
disorganization caused by confused fighting in the fog, set 
anxious thoughts astir ; for next day, early in the morning, 
Marwitz would certainly try to open gaps west of Maissemy 
and Bonssoy. Beinforoements ! Here, as elsewhere, they 
were needed at once. 

Congreve had kept Ep^hy and Fezi^re in his centre, but 
both were doomed ; and the loss of Bonssov, united to bad 
events south of this village, presaged an early withdrawal to 
ease the Sixteenth and Twnty-fird as well afi the overstrained 
men of Watts's Corps. 

Campbdl's left had been so badly hit that Tudor was 
told to extend his right and take over Chapel HilL This had 
been done already by two counter-attacks, but some Lincoln 
troops remained on the hill itself, and also between Chapel 
Hill and Bevelon Farm. After dark they were relieved oy 
the South Africans. Already, then, Tudor* was called 
upon by external events to widen his front southward into 
land not his own, and soon he had to extend northward also, 
and therefore into Third Abmt ground. The South Africans 
were reinforced with a reserve battalion, the Eleventh Boyal 

As soon as possible Tudor began to withdraw from his 
forward zone in order to keep firm liaison with Byn£;^s with- 
dxuwaL The railway in Qouzeaucourt valley was held by an 
advanced guard until two a.m., March 22, and Bed Line three 
hours lonffer. For some reason or other, Marwitz did not 
attack either against Tudor or against the flanks of Flesqui^res 
salient^ whose garrison got back early to Highland Bid^, and 
thence westward along the Hindenburg Line to Havnncourt 
and Hermies. 

Ludendorff must have known that these withdrawals 
were inevitable, since they were brought about by his own 
troops. Why, Uien, did he fail to harry them by night raids 

* Tn^ts Ninth Dimiov. 


cuid attacks ? No interference came from him ; all was qoiet 
apart from some sploshing detonations of gas shells in Dessart 
Wood. Why ? An assault on the salient's southern flank, 
pressing north-west, belonged to ihe ABC of generalship; 
and on the evening of March 22, when a more important 
retreat was in preparation, Villers-Plouich n/oas assailed, as 
we know, and with considerable force and bite. Havrinoourt 
also was attacked north of Exuette River and on the 
Bapaume-Cambrai railway. We have much reason to be 
thimkful that they were not set in action during tiiie night 
of March 21-22. LudendorfiF and Marwitz missed an 
opportunity, and their inattention can be explained in two 
ways only ; that they misunderstood the alertness of Gough's 
generalship, and tha.t our Fifth Abmt's defence, and the 
huddle of brigades which fog and congested fighting had 
imposed on Marwitz, as on Below and on Hutier, had caused 
so much anxiety among German leaders that many local 
events were neglected, while some others could not be 



rB second day, like the firsts seemed to have no 
dawn. Its drama began in a foff, which compelled 
both sides, after a bitter cold nighty almost without 
sleep, to warm themselves in another mixed game of 
hide-and-seek and blind man's buff with Destiny. 

Here and there on Qoogh's widened front the morning 
attack was hesitant, deject^ slow ; but it was wide-awake 
immediately sonth of the Ninth, and also in Otto von Below's 
pressure on Byng. 

Let us see what happened north-west of Flesqui&res salient. 

" Farther north," says Haig, " fighting was severe and 
ecntinuous throughout the day. Portly before noon the 
enemy attacked Hermies strongly from the north-west»* and 
repeated his attacks at intervals during the remainder of 
the day. These attacks were completely repulsed by the 
Seventeenth. Heavy losses were inflicted on the German 
infimtry in the fighting in this area, the leading wave of a 
strong attack launched between Hermies and Maumets-less- 
Cambrai being destroyed by our fire." [Our own losses, too, of 
course, were very severe, but in oflScial dispatches our own 
losses are passed over in silence.] 

" In the neighbourhood of Beiftumets the enemv continued 
his assaults with great determination, but was held by the 
Fifty-firet and a brigade of the TweTUy^fiflh until the 
eveni^. Sir E. O. T. Bainbridge commanding the Twenty^ 
fifth Division. Ou/r troope were then witharcuwn vmaer 
orders to poeUuma south of the vUlage. Very severe fighting 
took place at Vaubc Wood and Yaiux Yraucourt^ as well as 

^ Kola lUs noonmhy. Nortli-ifiaBt of H«miM misiiB that tli« attaok 
■o ol liiP Mt from DoigiitMifM driviiig s wadgo behind Hermies And nftrrowisf 
the Quiow nlient, from whioh three of Bjag^e dhliioiie haye to retreat. 


about 8L Leger and north of Ooiailles, which laMer viUctge 
owr troops had evaaiated during the night" 

My italics. The loas of CnnsilleB needs as maeh attention 
as the loss of Essigny or Haissemy. This applies also to 
Beanmets, near the western edge of the battle zone, and 
about a mile north of the Bapanme-Gambrai railway. So, 
about seven miles from YiUers-Plouich, there was heavy 
German pre s s ure to the north-west; aiui fiir to the north- 
west^ for if you draw an upright line due south from the 
centre of Beaumets, you will mid that it passes through the 
west outskirts of Ytres, and Ytres lies about six and a half 
miles west — ^by a little south — of Yillers-Plouich. Further, 
when the defence fell back to the south of Beaumets, turning 
its back towards the Bapaume-O&mbrai railway, it showed 
that the attack was trying energetically to invade the 
salient's rear. Witih this keen pressure coming southward 
from the north-west^ a retreat from the salient was becoming 
more and more difficult. In such dose fighting between 
almost equal forces on a narrow frontage, ^th sides must 
have lost heavily. Who knows why the official dispatch 
glides over too many Third Armt losses, while speaking 
with full historic frankness of the Fifth's? The dispatch 
continues : — 

^ At Vrauoourt the enemy broke through the rear line of 
the battle zone and penetrated into the village. There he 
was counter-attacked by infantry and tanks, and driven out. 
Farther west, after heavy fighting, his troops forced their way 
into our positions along the line of the (>oisilIes-H6iiin-sur- 
Cojeul road. On the left of this attack troops of the Thirty- 
fawrth maintained themselves in St. Leger until the afternoon, 
when they fell back to a line of trenches just west of the 
villaga To the north the Third DrvisiON brought back their 
right flank to a line facing south-east, and in this position 
successfully beat off a heavy attack." * 

Study this information on a good map, and at once it 
becomes evident that Byng, hard pressed all day long, would 
be obliged by night to recover balance by two withdrawals. 
The protective barrier looking south-east made by the Thirds 
right wins was ugly and artificial, positions due north of it 
being outflanked ; and for tins reason Byng's troops with- 
drew from the remainder of their forward positions as far 
north as the Scarpe, taking up the rear line of their battle 
zone between Henin and Fampoux. The foe followed this 

• Vol. iL, pp. 192-98. 


retreat, and early on Satarday morning llareh 23, as the 
diapatch relates, he found a cap about JfoiT in Byngfs new 
front and rear aone. Now Hoiy is only about four miles 
north of Bqpaume, and Bapaume was to Byng what P^ronne 
was to Gough, approximately. Below's men and Marwitz^s 
right struck with great force, and unluckily fortune aided 

From inside Flesquiires salient Byng withdrew by night 
some 6000 yards in the deepest place. His line north and 
east of Hermies crossed the Canal du Nord and then went 
south throufl4i Havrincourt Wood to the east and south-east 
of Mets-en-Couture ; but was it able to join hands firmly 
with Oongh's left ? 

Before answering this question, let us note the equally 
powerful squeese south of Tudor^s lines. Friday, March 22, 
was a galling day. Between ten and eleven o'clock Marwitz 
began to thrast into some weak places, as into the gap he had 
made on the first day between Campbell's left and Dawson's 
South African Brigade^ And St. femelie fell, then Villers 
Faucon, and EpShj and PeLd^re had reached the fiig-end 
of a noble strij^ggle. North of Cologne River, then, was a 
distressinff outl^c ; and south of it also, apart from Carpesa 
Copse and a brilliant counter-attack east and north-east of 
HerviUy, to be described later in a chapter on Episodes. At 
Le Verguier Daly's men were gripped with increasing force, 
but they did not retire till about noonday on the 22nc^ when 
they were ordered to fidl back from a position almost sur- 
rounded ; and northward a conven;in|^ danger from bc^ 
sides of the Colcjgne menaced RoiBel with envelopment from 
the rear* So in the afternoon our troops around Roisel were 
ordered to withdraw behind Green Line, between Bemes and 
Boudy, and to gain breath andsome rest behind the M/Heth.^ 

On Congreve's front all day long the main anxiety was 
lest Marwits should get round the right fiank which was 
stretched across the Cologne River. Two divisions, Hull's 
and Oampbell's, had suffered mve losses. The South Irish 
infantry were reported to be omy about a thousand strong, and 
Dawson's South African Brigade, fighting stoutly and idmost 
incessantly, perished on the second day to neari^ the same 
number of nfles. Already Congreve's r es e rve division, the 

flMlly fsvwtfi DtaMB Ousriip Z Wim. The M«s ItaeW Ml «h« 
hi^ia dy sa d «bs7 ^^ aU« ^ ^Mtoh «h« Boeb« ttaaagfmi oontfeg Ibnvwd 

from ttlB|ilSQX« 


Thiriy'^vn;^, had lost its ooanteivattack Yalne, sinoe a wastio^ 
battle-*firont must be repaired and renewed. Shortly after 
noon the Soutii African brigadier received orders to retire bv 
4.80 p.m. to Brown Line, and to be ready later to fall bai^ 
on Qreen Line, about three miles more to the west. This 
withdrawal b^san w^ ; but soon it was observed, and the 
foe in strengl^ took up the tndL On he came, looking 
eagerly confident, tUl the Second S.A. Infantry sprayed over 
Mm with ballets at close quartera 

Meantime our Highlanders on Tudor's left were quiet; 
some of them patrolled Qouzeaucourt until midday, when it 
became known that the Army's poligr was to fi^t rearguard 
actions to delay and ravage the foe s power. Tudor was to 
fiidl back to Qreen Line from north of Epinette Wood to the 
south of Equaneourt. So his brigades were ordered to with- 
draw to their Brown Line by 4.30 p.m., and to begin three 
hours later to move back to Green Line. 

Dawson was warned about the retirement to Green line, 
but he did not receive the message in which the precise time 
of his leaving Brown line was given. Somehow it miscarried ; 
but, as Colonel Buchan has related, Dawson sent Captain 
Beverley, his Acting Brigade Major, to deliver the order to 
the battaliona Beverlev went off on horseback, and before 
five o'clock all troops had their instructions, though Beverley's 
horse was shot under him. 

It was a brave ride, for at four o'dock Brown line was 
breached at Guyenoourt ; and although a prompt counter-blow 
just managed to check a venomous thrust, matters in this 
neighbourhood were very critical, and every one understood 
that a retreat south-west could no longer be made without 

Guyencourt was a redoubt village about 2000 yards south 
of Heudecourt and in the Tiventy-Ji/rst^a land. Aiter its fall, 
German storm troops turned nortiiward and began to roll up 
our line to the South African right flank. In a twinkling, 
Dawson's three battalions, now enfeebled by heavy losses, 
were in great peril, threatened by envelopment; Could the 
advance be held till darkness would cover a withdrawal ? As 
the boundary uniting Gough and Byng ran south-west, this 
Gennan drive due west tlm)ugh Guyenoourt imperilled the 
NvntKs retreat. What if the foe nad men enough to go 
ahead for a decision— a bigdeoision, and a rapid one ? 

Communication with Ds^wson became impossible* Yet 
platoons and companies neve^ wavered^ never hesitated. 


Janior officers threw out defenmve flanks and handled rear* 
guard actions with a skill which Dawson will never forget. 
But for this veteran coolness in the junior rai^« the South 
Africans would have been trapped. 

Some thirty German airplanes aided the attack. They 
flew low, and the putt-putt-putt of their machine-guns 
harassed the teams of our artillery, raked our trenches, and 
continued their eflTorts till about sunset At this hour, in 
a flaring twilight, very noisv with explosions, observers at 
Sorel-le-Qrand, west of Heudecourt, could see the foe dimly, 
advancing in full strength southward on their right flank. 
Sorel was noisy with our passing artillery, lame and blood- 
stained with our wounded, and in other ways thronged, as 
with details of departmentisJ units retreating towards Green 
Line. For Heudecourt in the NvniKe own land had &llen« 
and the attack had only a mile or so to advance on SoreL 
At all costs it must be checked. 

Dawson climbed up a wall in Sorel to see the whole battle- 
field. Everywhere the countryside was an inferno wondrous 
and varied in contrasts of rival human eflTorts and of devasta- 
ting flames and explosions. Heudecourt spouted like a 
volcano, and other villages were burning. Barracks and stores 
flared ; ammunition dumps detonated ; and Sorel itself was 
becoming a swirl of wind-blown smoke flashing with streaks 
of fire. Field ambulances were trying with beautiful courage 
to get the wounded away from Heudecourt, while batteries at 
thundering speed obeyed their orders^ and fugitives of many 
sorts crowded the roads. Meantime, over there on the right, 
grey and menacing German troops pressed on, wave after 
wave, column after column. A more precarious position could 
not well be imagined. What could be done, then ? 

Dawson turned out his H.Q. staff and put it into trenches 
east of Sorel. Two companies of Bleventn Royal Soots took 
up a position south and south-west of Heudecourt ; the Sixth 
K.O.S. Borderers manned high ground from Sorel south to 
li^ramont^ about 3500 yards ; some field artillery came into 
action also south of Sorel ; and in this way the heavy, per- 
severing onrush of panting Germans was stopped for a 

Before a new thrust could be set in movement, our last 
guns went westward safely, and Dawson with his brave H.Q. 
made their way to Moislains some 5000 yards west of Green 
lina All guns on the NvwtKs front were saved except a 
forward anti4aak gun which was bogged, and ten pieces of 


field artillery, south of Sore!* the teams of whieh did not come 
up in time. So these guns were destroyed. 

The Soath Africans, parched with a thirst which cannot 
be described, and adiing everywhere with jhtiffue, beat off all 
attacks tiU 7.30 p.m. Then they were ordered to retire 
northward before striking west as the Germans had moved 
northward behind the South African front The withdrawal 
was bravely managed, particolarly by Colonel Christian of 
the Second Regiment, whose troops were most perilously 
situated. For the most part the withdrawal moved along 
the Brown line to the Fins-Qouzeancoort road, and then 
tnmed westward and marched to Fins^ followed very closely 
by the Gtorman advance. 

" B " Company of the Second Begiment had no chance at 
alL It began the day at the old quarry on the east of 
Heudecourt, and was destroyed, fighting to the last, with its 
intrepid leader. Captain Qreen. 

It had been arranged that the Seventh Seaforths and 
Fifth Camerons should retire through Fpis to Etricourt ; but 
German storm troops got into Fins before the last Highland 
companies could pass through, and a roundabout way had to 
be sought in the darkness, A few Fifth Camerons did not 
receive the order to retire ; it fSedled to reach them, so they 
stayed in Tellow Line until ten p.m., and then fought their 
way out and joined their battalion, bringing with them a 
German ofScer and seventeen prisoners. 

By ten p.nL, March 22, all divisions of Congreve's Corps 
had either manned or were nearing Green Line, and orders 
were issued to fight on this front. A certain amount of 
Corps artillery — about two brigades, mainly South Irish — 
had been lost; the rest was withdrawn safely to cover 
Green Line. 

At the same hour a message from Gough made known the 
fact that Marwitz had broken the Oreen Lme ahovJt five 
humdred yards east and satUhreaet of NobeacouH FarTn,^ 
in Watts's territory, and Congreve was directed to retire to 
new positions as soon as a serious attack was made on his 
portion of the Green Line. Congreve would be responsible 
for a front running from La Chapellette, south of r^ronne, 
to the Thibd AaMT's boundary, about halfway between 
Moislains and Mananoourt. 

He called together his Divisional Commanders to explain 


* Fray note thiB bieaoh oaMfnUy. NdbeMcnirft'Finn mxA tht Giiiiii Llae 
this neigkboUriuM fomttia pnci Si tbi EVMui^ bxld^hifit. 


the situation, telling them that since the battle was develoD- 
ing into a series of rearguard actions, it would be impossibie 
for him to control scatteiml, rapid and local fights, apiurt from 
giving broad nneral lines, on which all must pat up the 
sternest possiUe resistance. He must leave them to learn 
from events when a retirement was timely; but on no 
account were they to lose touch with units on their flanks, 
and Gough was very insistent on the need of holding close 
and strong liaison with Byng. 

The story of this liaison in its opening incidents has to 
be told now, and I wish to make it dear, b^use it has been 
mistold, and also because of later events and their conse- 
Quencea We are concerned with the boundary divisions — 
IfivUh and Forty-aeveTUk, and remember that the Nvath was 
in Gough's Army and served under H. H« Tudor, while the 
Fcfiy^Befistntk served in Byng's Army under Gorringe. 
Further, the Nimik belonged to the 7th Corps, commanded 
by CoDgreve, and the Fcrly^BefomUh to the 5th Corps, com- 
manded by Fanshawa 

If these divisions misunderstood each other and failed to 
fidl back together with mutual support, hitehes and scrapes 
would come, and Marwita would be aided greatiy by a ois- 
jointed British defence, as we have seen (p. 140). The 
stronger army ought to have been especially alert in this 
matter, wishing not only to help the weaker as much as 
possible, but also to prevent itself from being pushed away 
m>m its southern boundary. On Friday morning, March 22, 
the NimUCB H.Q. sent a Staff Officer to explain tiie situation 
to the Forby^sewnUk, and soon after midday a teleohone 
message warned the F<niy-9evem4h not only that the jfifMi 
might be ordered to feJl back from the Brown lane, but also 
that any withdrawal on the NimJOCs part, being south-west 
along tlie boundary, would widen the front to be held by the 
Finiy-mvmith, which was on Highland Ridge, in the north- 
east, and seeminffly at ease there. 

After Tudor nad received orders to retire upon Green 
line, the Staff Officer returned from the Fcrly-seventh and 
the news he brought was diseoneertii^. The FcTty'9tvenik 
was to retire to Brown lane only, and could not accept the 
rsspoDsibility of connecting its right on Brown 

TudoK^s left on the Green. In plainer words, Bvng's right 
wing would neither fall back in nne with Gough s northern 
corps nor hold a firm flank alons the boundary. It left its 
flank and rear to be covered by the Nimih Division, as 


though Bynff^s Army were mneh weaker, nofc much sfeconger, 
than Ooagh a So the border problems were beooming too 
Gilbertiaa to be fit for the drama of a retreat 

As the NvrUh had alrauly widened its front soothwaid, it 
would endanger itsdf if it took over lines north-eastward 
from the F^ysevenih. This important matter was dis- 
cussed by telephone with Gongreve, and in the OTening it 
became known that the FoHy^aevenith^ after all« would retire 
to Green line. The (question " When ? " was very imnortant^ 
since the German policy was to roll up the Ninth by oestroy- 
ing the two divisions south of it 

At 7.80 p.m« the NinvOi telephoned to the Fariy^seventk 
to make known the position of its own troops, and was told 
that a brigade of the Seoand DiviaioK, Tmni) AB]ftr--^m- 
fortmiately, it was a weak one in numbers — ^was in reserve 
at Hananconrt and Eqnanconrt Later, at 9.10 p.m., this 
brigade was placed temponoily under the Ninth. Here was 
a very welcome addition of strength, as already the Ninth's 
front had increased to about 7500 yards. 

Despite this reinforcement the position remained very 
menacing. What would happen to the Foriy-aeventh t It 
was far m the north-east, and a heavy fluik attack against 
Yillers-Plonich had to be driven off before a retreat under 
pressure could begin. Also an attack against Havrinoonrt 
would hinder a re&eat from the central portion of the salient 
Fansbawe had remained to6 long on Highland Ridge and in 
Hindenburg's line. How b tms lack of judgment to be 
explained ? Note first of all that two divisions in the salient 
the Forly'9eve7Uh and 8iaiy-thirdf were not really assailed till 
the evening of March 22. Their defences were very strong, 
the attack and its cutting-off pressure were not close by ; so 
visible causes for anxiety were absent, while visible reasons 
for quiet confidence were present And the next point to be 
noted is that Byng and ms officers did not protest against 
the slanderous out(^ — ^ The Byng Boys have been let down 
by Gough's men, who have been badly handled 1 " As it is 
not in the nature of British officers to do wrong wittingly, we 
have reason to infer that Byng^s riffht wing misunderstood 
its dut^ towards Gough's left, and that its ill-^grounded 
accusatKms against Gough's left were accepted as fiusts by 
Fanshawe^ B;^, and G.B.Q. Why, I cannot suggesl^ because 
I have no conj^ure to offer. The accusations were refuted 
by the presence of the Ninth Highbmders in Bjm^B Land, 
as well as by the urgent warnings sent by the Ninth to 


its northern partner ; and Bjng^s right ought to have remem- 
bered that Gongh's di visiona on the average had to hdd nearly 
60^ per oeni more front than Byng^s, thoogh very nearlv 
twice as many Qerman divisions attaoked Qongh as feu 
npon Bvng. Had these &cts been understood, surelv the 
Third Armt oould not have fiuled to connect itself wiu the 
weaker army by means of a strong and steady flank. To 
leave this work to the Ninth was to make a very perilous 
and bad beginning in a most hazardous retreat 

The necessary thing was to guard as much land as 
possible ; so the NiiUh'$ left flank was thrown forward to 
a point about a thousand yards north of Fins, while its right 
rested on the north end of Epinette Wood, about fifteen 
hundred yards south of Nurlu. At the north end of this 
front were men of the Second Division; but when would 
they be able to secure touch with the Forly-'seventh t Hope 
was expressed by 5th Corps that a complete liaison would oe 
formed by 6 a.m* on the 28rd. Meantime there was a gap ; 
and there was reason also to be anxious about the NirUka 
south flank, as the German desire to deave their way through 
the Twenty "Jir^ had not weakened in the least 

At midmght two things were certain on Gough's left 
flank. One of them was that enough timely warning had 
bean given to Byng^s right; and the other, that Mannts's 
tactics were working towards a great climax both north and 
south of the Ninth Division. 






THE breach of the main Oreen Line in the neighbour- 
hood of Nobescoart Farm proved that the high 
pressure of the foe's attack was directed with skul, 
in order to cancel tho worth of that sketchy system 
of defence called our P£ronne bridgehead postions. So I 
have made a map-— a correct one^ I Mlieve^— to show clearly, 
among other important matters, what effects this breach had 
on the balance of our battle front Thrust and counter- 
thrust, poise and equipoise, these are things to be studied 
as carenilly in fighting fronts as in architecture and 

To retreat effectively against perilous odds is a seait^ 
after stability, akin to that which occurs when a bridge has 
to be built across one of those rivers which rise into sudden 
floods and scour into the foundations of piers and abutments. 
The bridge-builder has to defeat this scouring onrush of 
waters, only he cannot move away from it as a wise General 
retires from excessive thrusts and concussions ; but when a 
Oeneral is not wise, when he allows his army to be swallowed 
up bv superior numbers, there is much resemblance between 
the oisaster and an ill-built bridge which is carried away by 
storm and spate. 

To bend like a yew bow, in order not to break like an 
unpliant stick, was the essential generalship which our Fifth 
Armt was set to obey while reinforcements were coming 
gradually into line. Apart from some gunless French 
infantry, with some Frencm cavalry, in the south of Hutier^s 
battle, no support could reach our fraying lines before 
Sunday morning, March 24. Durin^r Saturday and Sunday 
the Eighth Division — the only British reinrorcement that 



would aid Watts*- would be detmiiied at and near Neele; 
and aboat then O. M. Franks with the ITmiy-J/iftk wonld 
b^gin to join Oongreva^ But an immediate need of men for 
two big battles against perilous odds coold not be made less 
aeate by these coming event& 

So at niffhtfidli lureh S2, the situation was eritical, not 
that we had lost a great deal of land against Iftarwits, or 
against Hutier and Marwita on the borderlsnds north and 
south of the Yermand-Amiens road, but beeanse menacing 
thrusts at dangerous places had upset the balsnoe of our 
prepared drfenoes, with the result that our weakness in 
numbers had for its companion a lack of structural fitness 
or equilibrium. I think nere of another analogy. An arch 
too weak for its purpose must be dangerous enough in a 
bridge, but if you dislodge its keystone you know at once 
that a notice in red letters must be put up to forbid heavy 
traffic— above all during bad weather. 

Now the Ptomne bridgehead positions mav be compared, 
without any extravagance, to an arch unfit for its omce ; it 
was good enough for a rearguard acUou, but far too unfimshed 
and too thinly manned for a deeieive fight; and the breach a 
trifle east and south-'Cast of Nobescourt Farm may be com* 
pared, also without any extravagance, to a keystone badly 

And another structural m^ter invites attention. Oerman 
Commanders liked to attack slantingly from right to left — 
firam north to south-west Yet our corps and divisional 
boundaries^ like the boundarv line between Bvng and (}ou(^ 
ran in this direction, as a rule, so the foe had rat to attack 
on a slanting front along one of our boundaries, while assail- 
ing due west on a sector a few miles south, in order to cause 
grave troubles in the retreat of our men. 

It mwars to me, then, that boundaries running due west 
might have been much better both for the resistance of an 
army dangerously undermanned, and also for the liaison 
between Byng and Oough. Attacks cutting across them in 
a south-westerly direction would have offerra flanks to our 
counter-blows ; and since the advance on the first two days 
was not n^>id but slow, surely we should have had many 
fihances of damaging the foe*s exposed fianks. Laymen are 
too apt to f OTget that an advance nas no comfort ^en the 

* This ezoaUmt dMrioa oune from the Ypnt ndghboorhood. If it bed 
hmn ml toelbwwA mooli Mrlier in tlie beltle, iti telna to the defmoe 
wonld haft bin doobM, il not inted InbM. 


defenders can torn againsfc its right or left in a keen, swift 

If^ now, yon torn to my map^ yon will find it eas^ to 
apply these reflections. Two Corps boundaries are gjyon, 
one "between Congreve and Watts, and one between Watts 
and Maxsa Both nm south-west ; the former down to and 
along the Cologne Biver, and the Maxse-Watts line in a wavy 
course to the east and south of Trefoon. 

The map relates also what happened <m the first two da^ 
from Holnon to the north of Saulcourt, 21,600 yards away in 
the north-westb Four British divisions and their supports 
are in action; and let us remember that both cavalry and 
tanks have been very helpful to Watts, as in tiie counter^ 
blow near Hervilly, aoout elevenajn. on March 22. This good 
stroke was invaluable. It prevented the attack finom reach* 
in^ Green lane near Nobescourt Farm, and enaUed the 
F%fiieth, after its tiresome journey and a foroed march 
through foff, to take up its positions with its three brigades 
over-rtretimed alonff ureen Line, while sending one of its 
battalions^ the Fifth Durham light In£uitryi under Major 
A. L. RaimeS) to help the Siaiy-aixih, whose left might be 
assailed by a Qerman thrust from the north of BoiseL 

Five of Maxse's battle zone redoubts are shown by my 
map in the north of Colin Mackensde's front ; and note how 
the^ were outflanked on the first day by the pressure through 
Maissemy towards Villecholles. Next day this pressure 
carried the German advance through Vermand to the 
Green Line ofiGshoot between Foeuilly and Bemes, 5000 yards; 
and south of the Yermand-Amiens road a part of the Green 
Line ofEshoot was overrun, and both Canlainoourt and Trefixm 
passed into German hands. Stability had gone firom this 
portion of our structural defence. 

Another part of the bridgehead positions faced the 
attack west of Tertoy, east of l^nignes, and on both sides of 
Hancourt northward and north*westward. Just north of 
Hancourt we find Nobescourt Farm, winch Uie foe nearly 
captured at five o'clock in the afternoon of the second day, 
after breachine the main Green Line some 600 yards away. 
Even if the Ureen Line offiahoot had not been lost east of 
Canlainoourt and Trefcon, this breach of the Pfronne bridge- 
head dose by Nobescourt Farm would have enforced a ni^t 
retreat from Yilldv^ue, Pceuillyi Bemes, whose position 
below it on the south-east would have been dominated by 
this grave menace to the main bridgehead. 


Waits * had not men enough to mend the bridgeheed, hie 
liMes haying been Teiy grave; and it was dear to him that 
an eA>rt to keep his ground east of the Somme woold thmst 
his few and jaded troops into a very unwise forlorn hope^ 
They wonld %ht to the very kst^ bat at last they would oe 
routed by far superior numbers; and afterwards 7 • . . Then 
Marwitz and HuUer would be free to go ahead. 

WattSy then, received sanetion to withdraw behind the 
Somme; and this move, for another reason, was timely, a 
gap having formed between Watts and Mazse, leaving the 
remains of Daly's Division in Che air about Oroix Mdigneuz. 


Though this withdrawal was helpful and essential, and 
thou^ unfinished prspaiations had been made for it by 
O.H.Q., Qough's juc^gment is questioned by one set <^ crities 
and ccmdemned by another. Neither set has an argument 
or a fact which was not dear to Gkmgh and his Oorps Com* 
manders; but when oontioversial minds have fixed ideas, 
they make shift contentedly without new facts sod fresh 

Recently one such mind said to me: ^A devilish bad 
boaineBB to lose the P^roone bridgehead I It hit our national 
tmstige bdow the bdt^ and mma us cut a very poor figure 
before our Allies! And on French soil, tool How many 
IVeneh bridges did we destroy, and what was their value in 
money and in traffic communication ? Our men should have 
been firm — ashamed to budge I " 

An tmreasoning mood of this powerful sort goes its own 
way like the wind, and like the wmd it has influence— often 
hannfuL For this reason I return to this bridgehead question 
in the Part on Oontroversies» so as to show it in other aspects, 
nioagh O.H.Q/S instructions were sometimes rather lax in 
their use of stereotyped phrases or in sentences that cancelled 
eadi other, yet, beyond aU question, a retreat behind the 
Somme was looked upon as a likdy and useful move when 
the Somme defences were planned, and manv thousands of 
men were set to work upon them in a race agamst insufficient 

Before the battle Gough had gathered from O.H.Q. 
inatroetions, both written and spoken, that since the crisis 
in man«power was a grave threat to Haig^s widened front» 

• WeMi e 19ih Ooips, 


too mABy riskB in batUe were not to be taken with the Fiyth 
Abmt; tibiat its divisions were to be nursed as carefully aa 
possible if a determined assault upon them were made hv 
superior numbers ; and that it miffht well be desirable to faU 
back to the rearward defences of P^ronne and the Somme 
while linking up with the TmitD Armt on the north, and 
preparing for counter-blows. 

Certain matters, of course, belonged to the rudiments of 
common sense ; as, for example, that we Fifth Abht, though 
dangerously week in numbero,had to guard as long as possible 
the French flank on its right and Byng's flank on its lefl^ 
whUe reeeivmg adequate support from these JUmka, Also it 
was obvious mat the loss of P&onne, if this centre of com- 
municatioDs became of operative use to the foe, would be 
very bad ; hence an emergency aone was roughed in behind 
the Somme to P^ronne, and thence north-eastward behind 
the Tortille River. But it was — and is— equally obvious to 
good sense that an army too weak in numbers cannot fi^ht a 
Waterloo day after day, and that its Ck>mmander must Team 
partly from the condition of his troops, partly from the 
enemv's power and concussions, when nis line must bend 
swiftly in order to avoid snapping into fragments. 

To fight at all costs against superior power in a retreat is 
to hold on as long as you can without suffering disaster ; and 
then to be clever in delaying actions while patching the gtifs 
in your retreating and periling divisions. It was thus that 
Qough and his Army fought through days and nights; and 
when cavillers declare that Qough nursed his Army overmuch 
and should have kept it longer at dose grip with the German 
hordes, they show not only that they do not call up into 
pictorial presence before their minds what our men had to 
endure, but also that they are ignorant of what our men lost 
in casualties, though nursed as carefully as possible by trJ^ 
Commanders. When a Corps of five divisions loses in a battle 
26,000 in casualties; when another of four divisions loses 
nearly 22,000; and when two other Corps have an e^ual 
average loss in their brigades, we know that they have borne 
to the frill all that they could bear and that doser contact wiUi 
superior numbeis would have been criminal and fiitaL 

Indeed, there are times when I cannot help thinking that 
tiie retreat was not rapid enough. I say to mysdf, for 
example : "^ Between 10.80 of March 21 and onepinL of the 
second day, our troons east of Hargicourfe and Vuleret were 
pressed back only aoout 6500 yar^ in the centre^ and less 


than 7600 yards along the Watts-Cdngreve bonndaiy. iVom 
the line east of Hargiooort south-weet to Nobescourt Fann, 
which was nearly lost late in the afternoon of the second day 
is 10,500 yarda Was this very alow withdrawal in a stannw 
defence worth the drain of casnalties that oar brave men 
anffered? Watts had divisions mnch below strength, and 
their tenacity, shown so clearly on correct maps, boi:^t its 
gradual giving of |proand at a very high prica'* 

In these questioning moods, too, as I have said before, I 
cannot help wondering also whether the system of defence 
chosen by G.H.Q. — a Forward Zone, a Battle Zone, and a 
Bear Zone» three defensive belts, sited at considerable distance 
from each other — ^were in keeping with what may be called 
the genius of modemiised attack. Early on the first day, 
several times, the battle zone was turned by the loss of a 
village on its flank, as when Marwita on the first day pressed 
beyond Bonssov and Templeuic, on the boundary between 
Ocmgreve and watta Would it have been better to employ 
two forward cones with a strip of open country between 
than, and the batUe aone several miles behind wem f In 
the soath— the battle aoainst Hutier— the Crosat Canal would 
have been a part of we second forward aone ; and in the 
eentane and north, the P^nne bridgehead and its continuatioa 
into TmBD Abut land. 

These reflections are given here for the purpose of showing 
that when cavillers find trait with Gough and his Army, they 
let their ideas run in a rut or groove and pay no attention to 
eroasHiueations and other matters also. Hazard plays a part 
so incalculable in all battles^ and above all in battles along 
very wide fronts, that students cannot review their opinions 
too frequently, making allowance after allowance for inevitable 




WATTS, tinder cover of reaigoards, got safely away 
with his gtms and stores and impedimenta ; but 
on readiing his positions bdiind the Somme, he 
had 18,000 yards of river line to guard hy 
scattered poets, with small reserves at all known eroesings. 
Best, then, had to go hand in hand with a vigilance always 
wide-awake, and Ilestdid not get the bestof the bamin. On 
the third day, late in the afternoon, enteiprisingBoche patrols 
picked their way forward and made several efibrts to reach the 
right bank, only to be shot down by oar gunners. 

As soon as Watts retired from ibe P£onne l^dgehead, it 
became necessary for Oongreve to fall back, and he was 
directed to man a line extending from La Chapellette, below 
Pdronne, to Doingt, cnarding P^ronne itself, thence north- 
eastward to Bussn and Aizecourt^ and on to theOreen line at 
Nnrlu and Equanconrt. We have seen that the lfinih*s 
vanguard reached Green Line on the evening of the second 
day, at about ten o'clock. Its rearguards, of course, were well 
ahead, and always on the look out for Byng's right flank 
troops of the Forly'SeverUk. 

At 6.26 a^m. on Saturday, March 28, in a misty cold gloom, 
when our men were stiff and sore after another bad vigil, the 
NirUh received orders from its Corps to hold Oreen Line with 
rearguards only, and to draw the rest of its troops to the line 
of the Canal du Nord, north of Moislains, and the Tortille 
river south of this village. It was to help the movemmts of 
the Tweniy^f/nt whose left was hard pressed. As this move 
affected By xig a right, a warning was sent at once to 5th Coips» 
whose troops, as we have seen, had not fallen back in con- 
fonnity vrith their southern aUy« To recover from a bad start 
is often as difficult as to produce a masterpiece, and 5th 
Corpse by remaining in ilsRiui^reB salient to be asBsiled on 



the evening of the second day, made an iinlaeky start, which 
enabled the attack to worry its retreat all night in the 
manner meet likely to push our two armies aparL To do 
this, and to envelop 5th Corps from south and north, was one 
of LndendorjOTs pnme objects ; hence 5th Corps' right wonld 
have been wise if it had retired to Green Line with the Ninth 
DiYisiON, or if it had formed with enough troops a strong 
flank running south-west from Villers Plouich to Equancourt 
By fidling to do either of these things, it was pressed gradually 
away from its liaison with the TfirUh; nrst to Metae-on- 
Couture, and then, during the morning of March 23» to Four 
Winds Farm, south-west of Ttres, about 8500 yards north of 
ihe boundary at Manancourt. Here the Forty-aevewOi fought 
very bravely in the open till nightfall, when it was pushed to 
the east of Rooquigny, still farther from its union with 
Gough's left. 

Meanwhile the Nimtk was harried by events of eaual 
moment. Its withdrawal to the Canal du Nord was fuU of 
stirring episodes. The foe, covered by a barrage from guns 
and trencn mortars, assailed Green line. On our left, after a 
stem grapple, this attack was broken by Scottish Highlanders, 
but it did much harm on the right, capturing Epinette Wood, 
from which the K.O.S. Borderers got out with difficidty. 
Then both Highlanders md Lowlanders, aided by rearguurdsi 
began in broad daylight to withdraw, always under pressure ; 
there was no artiUety to cover them, as it had to oe taken 
across the Canal du Nord; yet slowly, and skiUully, they 
carried out their movement all right, and the German losses 
were severe. By two pjn. the Nvnih was in position behind 
the Canal du Nord from Moislains to the beet-sugar factory 
north of Etrioourt, about 2750 yards within the Thisd Abxt 8 
arem At the beet-sugar fiictoiy about 750 men of the Second 
DrvisiOH continued Uie line eastward to about a tiiousand 
yards north of Fins, also in Thibd Abxt ffround. 

Before noon, at eleven o'clock, the Ninth's G.O.C. made 
an urgent visit to 5th Corps, Thibd Abmt, because the position 
was becoming much too perilous. The foe was trjring to 
envelop 5th (x>rp8, and the Ninth was strugg^ling to prevent 
this envelopment, but its front had stretched to about 11,000 
yards, so effeetive defence became more and more difficult and 
baardous. The Highlanders were guarding land which 
ought to be held by the Jforfy-araenA, though they were 
needed urgently in their own ground. These matters were 
plaeed before the 5th Corps' B.G.0.8., who at once consulted 

t\ ;\ iUUKH, 1918 

...^.^n.^.:. Stennission was gnuited 

Mv;^ 4itf Forty^aeventk'a tmht 

.. ^ * ^. rxioA — ^from north of l^ns 

^.* > * nmdi of Equanooort (V. 4, 

. •»». xaier was aelivered, and I 

.^ ^ , ttrnt was taken over by the 

•^..-^Oii^ became gregarious. After 
..^ «««Igo was driven between tiie 

... i»^ uoMi^ southward, the Twenty- 

•Q .HMtfih of Bouchavesnes, onoover- 

« .«!«/ were posted on the Bpine de 

. .w«M* Bouchavesnes and Moislaina 

^>4,«w4i was the pressure which the 

^.ao Mainst! It shows how the 

^^i^KHM^y from day to day to annihi- 

.V V'/zOA; and also how the Nvnth, 

^ iis s>wn fix)ntier8, had to be always 

«<4i Wellington's fiftvourite troops, 

-**«^«i0» ever behaved better than tne 

ft^a lAve received no thanks from 

. ^v >.iUe recognition from the British 

. .«^ »t South Africa, Dawson has related 

V *i.i%i slay along his frontage ;— 

is »« AttU supplies were arranged in dumps 

^ ^ *« ^ first result of the retirement was 

^.^^^ J^mps had to be destroyed by us. 

>MiU fpt supplies and ammunition only 

.^a ^^ a long way off. There was great 

\ ..^ «%4M» and ammunition. Tanks and 

.% 1^ y^^iol, and machine-gunners could 

><>..44 >M was held by the reserve brigade, 

^ u^«>»lMid Brigade, and ' details ' ; namely, 

« v> ><iU «^^ I^Q taken into the battle were 

^ .^N.^ 4^) pu^ i^ to ^oI<^ ^^ Ui^^ Details 

*" V \v<y well. We never get the best out 

' ^x if )^ own formation. Details will put 

r^ ^^ ^Ul not endure the absolute hell that 

"^^ %^ their own nlatoons and companies. 

Vk^ like line* and nald it very welL The 

>«<« ik^ei^* Thi^ eama dn tA ' 



imbfaits. But the time came when the details had the order 
to retire ; it was a bad order. It said, * Retire as soon as yoa 
get this.' In five minutes the battalion of details was in full 
retreat^ and <niee they got going like that there was no 
stopping them. The Qennans, as soon as they saw these 
fellows going, got np and began to fire» but although within 
tor^ yards they were so excited that th^ could hit no one 
at first Then they cut the wire, and after a few minutes 
they got the machine-guns and riflemen on the parapet, and 
did Ajgreat deal of damage to our details as they were retiring. 

'' nie orders of the &uth Afirican Brigade that day were 
that it was not to be in the front line, bcMuse it had borne 
the brunt of the fight the other two days. It was to be in 
support on the right But the other two brigades, owing to 
the loss of the battali(m of details, could not oover the boat, 
so tilie South African Brigade had to go into the firont line 
again. We retired slowly, in accordance with orders, until 
we reached the Tortille River. I went up some high ground 
on the left, and to my consternation found no infantry on the 
hiU. I vent back to the road, and while I was there, two 
officers and forty men belonging to the division on our right 
came along. I ordered them to go up and hold that hiH 
The officer in oonmutnd said that he could not do it ; his men 
were absolutely done. He said that these forty men were the 
remains of about three hundred, and that they had had no 
food whatever since the attack started two days before. I 
replied that I could not help it; the work had to be done. I 
promised them rations and rum, and supplied the rations and 
rum, and sent them up the hill with my orisade major to put 
them in position. Half an hour aftenrards I went to see, and 
thev had all gone. I oiu^ht to have recognised that they had 
had a bad time of it ana had reached that stage when troops 
were no longer reliable. In this stage there is only one wav 
to hold troops— -by the influence of an officer or non-com. with 
a stronger personality, who will use his fists, and if this does 
not work, will use his revolver." 

Dawson watched the TtuerUy'^JirBt DivisiOK retirii^. Two 
thin Unee of British were covering the retirement of the third, 
and following came wave after wave, and column after column 
of Gemans to a depth of about a mila It struck him as 

ridiculous to see these two thin lines of British troqps keeping 
their end up, but all the same they had to withdraw. They 
wont back till they were two miles in the rear. Then Dawson 
had a gap of two miles open westward on his right flank. If 


ihe (JermanB turned to the north they would cut off his 
troops. While he was wondering what to do, the details, who 
had retired with the transport, were sent back again, and he 
formed a line of posts to protect the gap on his flank. 

Before sunset the G.O«C. visited I)aw8on and told him to 
retire after dark to a ridge just west of Bouchavesnes, while 
Lowlanders were to man the near or east edge of St Pierre 
Yaast Wood. At all costs this line must be hdd. 

Then the G.O.C. hastened northward to see Kennedy, his 
Highland brigadier, whose troops at two p.m. held a line 
from about a mile or less below Mesnil-en-Arrouaise to a 
point north-west of Etricourt, pretty close to a well-known 
beet-sugar factory. From this point, as we have seen, about 
760 men of the Secoo^d Division carried on the line to the 
north of Fins; but they found their hard job too hot^ and 
before dusk they retired north-westward, without orders. 
No doubt bitter attacks in the afternoon were very trying. 
As soon as these men of the Second fell back towards 
Bocquisny, the Highlanders pulled in their line till it 
spannea a portion of Byng^s land from about Mesnil to 
Saillisel's rums just north of the boundary. 

This was the position of aflGurs when the G.O.C. visited 
Kennedy, his Highland brigadier. What could be done ? A 
safe retreat could not be made by twilight. It would be seen 
by the foe, who at once would strike. The Highlanders were 
completely stranded on Thiro Abbiy land, with both flanka 
uncovered by gapa After dark they could close down south- 
ward till their right joined the Lowlanders along the east 
edge of St. Pierre Vaast Wood, while their left rested still on 
Brig's land in front of Saillisel. 

These ticklish movements by night were to be done by 
four am. on Sunday, March 24; and with help of rare good 
luck, accompanied by cool and swift leading, idl went well 
enough, though at midnight or thereabouts, the Lowlanders 
had to beat off a determined push. But toe these night 
manoeuvres, both Highlanders and Lowlanders might easily 
have shared the fate of their comrades, the South Africans, 
who on Sunday, March 24, were surrounded and overwhelmed 
because the Nvnth had no reserves left^ having been compelled 
by events to extend beyond its own boundaries. 

Though the night manosuvres had reunited the Low- 
landers and Highlanders, everybody knew that one danger 
had been exchanged for another, for if the 6th Oorps^ Third 
Abict, did not close down rapidly,a gap would exist at four a.nL 


on Sunday between SaiHinel and MesniL So a warning of 
this danger was sent at once to Ooogh. 


If the Ninth DivisiOH had made a eomplete report of all 
partienlarB, no mistake could have been made by tne prMs- 
writere at O.Q.H« But chivalnr interfered. liaison troops 
in a time of peril should not fidl back without orders ; but 
those men of the Second were few in number, they had had a 
trying experience, and afterwards their brigsdier was killed 
in action. So the Ninth's H.Q. made no complaints. But 
complaints were raised by the Forty-aeventh, as by other 
TfllBD Abmt troops, and some influenced the prMs-writers 
at G.H.Q., and found their way into the official dispatch. Thb 
result is that the British people have been asked to condemn 
the Ninth, who warned Byws left affain and again, and 
then held some two miles ox Thibd Abhy land. Such is 
human nature ! We feel more or less unkind to those who 
humble us by helping us in a time of great need, while we 
are fond of those whom we help. 

The dispatch says not a word of the earnest warnings 
which Byng^s right received from Qough's left, ineludinff a 
personal visit from the Ninth's O.O.C. to 5th Corps in oraer 
to see Bovd, the RG.Q.9L; and the precis-writers pass over 
the bounduy uniting Byng and Gough as if ignorant of its 
place in G^dLQ. maps. 

The dispatch begins by saving that 5th Oorns, Third 
Abht, during the morning of ICwsh tS, continued its wiUi- 
drawal, covered W rearguards who were heavily engsffed. It 
Ml "back from the Meta-en-Gouture salient to the defences 
of the third nme about Ytres.** Turn to my map of the 
boundary districts and note the postion of Ytres. From its 
most southern point to the boundary below Bquancourt is 
some 4500 yarosy and the distance is about 500 yards more 
to the boundaiy below Mananeourt Further, Green Line 
pesBod east of Equancourt to the east of Ytres, and the 
NintiCs vanguard reached this line at about ten p.m. of the 
second day, keeping rearguards well ahead. Was it Mife and 
right for 5th Corps to postpone its arrival at Green line to 
i& morning of the 28raf It was warned W the southern 
events wbidi compelled the Ninth to withdraw. It was 
warned also b^ events at Hermies, Beanmeta and Vaalx. 
Why, then, did it not puU out of Vlesquitees salient in order to 


retire wiih its southern partner, and to avoid the risks it ran 
of disaster owing to the enemy's success in the north 7 Oa 
the evening of the first day, when a withdrawal by 6th Corps, 
Thibd Abmy, uncovered the NinOCa forward zone, the Nvriik 
retired at once with its neighbour. Surely this example was 
one to be followed, since firm unison between our two armies 
was essential ? Yet the dispatch has not a word to say on 
those important matters. I^or does it speak of the very able 
way in which the attack was handled in accordance with 
LudendorfiTs aima 

On the other hand, it declares that 5th Corps was pushed 
north-west because Congreve's troops had been withdrawn 
under orders from Green Line to the Canal du Nord, north 
of Moislains; a movement rendered necessary, as we have 
seen, by southern events. Even if 5th Corps' right had 
followed the boundary during the night, instead of going 
west to Metz-en-Couture and Ytres, uiis official statement 
would be aside from the main point--a belated retreat from 
the salient Then we are told that the Forty-aefvewtk Division 
and the brigade of the Second made vigorous efforts to re- 
establish toudh with the Fifth Abmt ! 

We have seen what happened to that brigade of the 
Second ; and anxiety about the Forty'^aeven^h not only detained 
the Highlanders in Byng's land, it caused the Ninth's G.O.C. to 
visit 6th Corpa 

One cannot help r^prettin^ that the boundary is f oigotten 
in the official dispatch^ Mu(£ misunderstanding arises from 
this fact We are told how the Forty^eevenih, on the fourth 
day, held the village of Rocquicny from sunrise well into the 
af teraoon, beating off all assaults till the foe worked round 
their flank between Rocquigny and Le Transloy and forced 
them to retreat. A splendid fight; but something more 
should have been said. The Forty'Seventh was fiur m>m its 
southern boundary. It ought to have defended both Morval 
and Combles. 

§ III 

At 2.50 on Sunday morning, March 24, the South Afrifflmff 
sent a message as follows to their G.O.C. : — 

'* Twenty 'first Division reports that CWry* is in the 

^ Cntfcy-for-Somme, » littla more th«a 4000 ysids ■onth-wMt of Boa- 
ohftTatnMp tnd about 6000 yacdi nozth-wMt of Ptonm«. A msry iauMrteni 
Gorsum raootM, Irat boob ootmtoztd Along H«m Bpox 1^ two balMioiii of 


hands of enemy^ and that the v are making a farther retirement 
to nun toueh witii their flank." 

The TweTUy-frrst^ firom the first day, as we have seen, had 
heen badly hit^ and the German pressure continued to be so 
keen npon its left wing that it fell baek more rapidly than 
the South Africans, whose retirement began at 9.46 p.nL of 
the 28rd. By three ikm., March 24» the Soath Africans — about 
600 men in all — ^took up their positions north of the road 
running between Le Foret and Banoourt During the nisht^ 
touch was obtained by the South African right with the lefk 
brigade of the Twenty-fint, which had retirra and then had 
adTanced a^^ain. As for the South Africsn left flank, it was 
in^ touch with a company of the K.O.S. Borderers, but not 
with the other Borderers who were in reserve south of 
Bancourt. A mounted patrol was sent out, as well as several 
infantry patrols, but dl attempts to find the Lowlanders 
Ikiled, the weather being foggy. 

Before dawn a mishap came out of a ftJse report Our 
Hi^|hlanders» hearing that the Lowlanders had fallen back, 
which was fidse, withdrew to Bapaum^P&onne road to be 
in line with them ; and the message reporting this move did 
not reach the O.O.C. till 7.6 a.m. About five hours lost ! 

As quickly as possible three tanks at Combles were sent 
to a front between Marritees Wood and Bancourt It was 
hoped that they would fiU the gap between the South Africans 
and our Lowlanders. Thev came too late. At eight o'clock 
the Lowlanders were attacked in front and on both flanks, the 
biggest jolts comin^acainst the right flank ; but at this point 
happily, the Sixth &.0.& Borderers, bom south of Bancourt 
delayed the turning movement long enough to let other troops 
reti^D from St Pierre Yaast Wood and to take post covering 
Combles, whne Thibd Army troops had not arrived. 

Here a brisk stand was made for an hour or so ; abrilliant 
rearguard action, but not so good, of course, as the very noble 
last stand of Dawson's five hundred. 

Li the part on Episodes, I give a full description of the 
South AMcan Brigade's last stand, which, like the rest of the 
Ninth's defence, s^ck admiration into the German leaders. 
At a most critical time and place it stopped the German 
advance for a littie more than seven hours, causing a great 
block of German troops, guns and transport From west of 

the Tkkrti^fifik Dimioa, who bed Jwl anlvsd sftsr s long foioad nutfeh. 
When oor ooo&lry spm to wsr, slwsTt onnidj, hor only ssfo Ally Is moxolfiil 



Bouchayemes to Aizeooort-le-Haat the road was packed with 
a doable Ime of delayed German troops and equipments. 

General Byn^ and his officers can never be grateful enough 
to the South Africans. Colonel Buchan says, very well : — ^ 

** It was no piece of fruitless gallantry. • . • indeed, it is 
not too much to say that on that fevered Sabbath the stand 
of the [South African] Brigade saved the British front. It 
was the hour of von der Marwitz's most deadly thrust. 
While Qough was struggling at the river crossings, the Thibd 
Abmy had been forced west of Morval and Bajpaume, far over 
our did battle ground of the Somme. The breach between 
the two armies was hourly widening. But for the self- 
sacrifice of the (S.A.) Brigade at Manidres Wood and the 
delay in ilie German advance at its most critical point, it is 
dottbtftil whether Byng could ever have established that line 
on which, before the end of March, he held the enemy/' ^ 
aided by many troops from Gough's left wing, and by other 

The foe understood what our NtTiih had achieved. 

"On the road to Le Gateau/' says Buchan, "a party of 
British officers was stopped by the Emperor, who asked if 
any one present belonged to the Ninth Di visiOK. * I want to 
see a man of that division/ he said, ' for if all the divisions 
had fought like the NmUh I would not have had any troops 
left to carry on the attack.' " 

The Highlanders also encountered many perils. They 
withdrew to a ridge south of Morval, on Third Abmt land, 
but their rearguard, about 150 Fifth Camerons, had their 
right flank turned. At first they retired to Lesboeufisi, beine 
unaware that the foe had broken through Bvng^s right flank 
and had taken Combles, Morval, Lesboeufs, along about 5000 
yards of front ; and then they marched to Flers and joined 
the 62nd Brig^e, SevenUenfUh Division, t 

It was at 4.15 p.m. that the Thibd Abht reported to 
Gough : " Hie enemy has broken through our risht flank and 
has occupied Combles, Morval and Lestoufa" Owing mainly 
to this disaster, Oongreve's Gorps^ heavily pressed also along ito 
whole fix>nt, fdl bad: by evening to the line Hem-Maurepaa 
All that the Staff could collect of caViilry, Canadian motor 

• iigoath AMoan Foroee in Vmnoe/' p. 191. Colonel Baoban puts a plain 
matter poiniedlT, nnlike the a.RQ. IMspatoh, whioh gUdee over the South 
Alrioan aefeooelna lew ionnal phraees andtvithoat firainlnips ite wideq^read 

t The J r^iolned their own onit on Monday eyening, Ifaroh 5U{. 


inacliine-gtaia» and the crews and goxifi of some tanks, were 
thrown out on the left to the north-west in the direction of 
Bemalay Wood;* and, thoi^ still not in touch with the 
Thi£D Abxt, the exposed flame was more or less covered. But 
now our line behind the Somme made a very sharp angle 
westward fix>m P&ronne ; it would be enfiladed and taken in 
reverse from the northern bank. 

Haig relates how Byng was affected by the loss of Combles^ 
Morval and Lesboenfs. The advance "threatened to sever 
the connection between the Fifth sod Third Amass and the 
situation was serious." " In view of this situation the 6th 
and 4th Oorps, TmBD Abmt, were ordered to fall back to 
the general line, Basentin-Le Sani-Qrevillers-Ervillers • . • 
The withdrawal of the right and centre of the Thibd Akmt was 
carried out daring the afternoon and evening in drcumstaaces 
of great difficulty, as cm the right flank bodies of Gterman 
infantry were already between our troops and the positions to 
which they were directed to fall back. In this withdrawal 
valuable service was rendered by twelve machine*guns of the 
8ixty4hiTd Division Machine-Gun Battalion, in LesboBufB. 
Theee guns held up the enemy's advance from Morval at 
a critiod period, nring 25,000 rounds into the enemy's 
advancing masses, and by their action enabling their division 
to readi the position aan^ed to it. 

'' By nightfall the divisions of the 6th Corps had taken up 
their line successfully between Baaentin, High Wood, Eau- 
court I'Abbaye and Ligny-Thilloy.t Before midnight the 
troops of the 4th Corps, who had carried out their witk- 
drmwal by stages in the free of constant attacks, were 
establidiea on the line assiffned to them west of Bapaume, 
between Le Barque and Ervfllers. Touch between the eeveral 
dMeiane of the 6ih Gone o/nd between 6ih and 4ith Corpe, 
however^ toae not property eetoMiahed," 

Note this last sentence with care. As the 5th Corps was 
separated from the 4th, there was a breach in the centre of 
Byng^s Army ; and as its own divisions were not in touch 

* BMutey Wooa, Mtl of IConteabMi. in Bjag^i ««... 

t BliU ftf torn tba boundary: 5ta Oom oas^t to lia^ bson at 
MonUobftn m well m Bamtln. Instaed of syng't troops at Montaaban 
tboio woto nowly arriiFod onlti oC the Fimt Catalbt, whidi, daring Uie after- 
noon of Meroh 84, errived there, oomSng from Watli'e oadermaaaed Oorpi. 
The diepaleh mentions the erriral of Fini OkVASMt nniti at IContanban, but 
iocgete to My that Montaoban wee in Byng'e aree, and that en inoreaiing 
Blnln wee thrown npon Qoogh'i left end centre by the dieonity in Byiig'e 
MhOeive. Thie dieonity le teodbed, bat not its rwolti on Ooagh'e traope. 


there is no difficulty in understanding why 5th Corps* right 
could not join hands with the Nmth Division. 

What remained of the Highlanders, after a stand on the 
Morval-Oombles positions, which, as the map shows, was far 
in Byng's land, retired to the rid^e south of Ginchy, also in 
Thibd Abmy land, and there took dieir revenge with machine" 
guns and Lewis guns, fiHng on masses of German troops who 
were advancing in column of fours along the road. 

Many other Acperiences marked the fourth day, and 
among them was the origin of Colonel Hadow's force. At 
about five p.m., when some Highlanders were withdrawing to 
Maricourt^ some three hnndrra of the Eighth Black Watch, 
under Hadow,^ had their right turned and retreated north- 
ward. Around this body ouier men gathered until Hadow's 
force was two thousand strong. It served under Congreve, 
holding a position for two daya:— March 27 and 28 — ^between 
Mericoiurt TAbb^ and Sailly le Sec; then it was relieved, 
and the Highlanders returned to their own division. 

On the fourth day, again, Congreve began to receive the 
Thwty-itfik Division as reinforcements. It came from the 
SiooND Abmt, and arrived mainly by battalions of difierent 
brimdes, and there was no time to oif[anize its units. 

Troops of the Thirty-fi/ih detrained at Bray-sur-Somme, 
were hurried along the north bank of the river to support 
Congreve. Already the German advance had passed CUry, 
and was pressinff hard upon Tudor's and Campbell's remnants 
when these and some other reinforcements came upon the 
scene. The Fifteenth Cheshires and Fifteenth Notts and Derby 
did very well, counter-attacking witii success; and after- 
wards a line was taken up from the river at Hem north into 
Thibd Abmt land at LonguevaL For a moment danmr in 
this sector was averted ; out Marwitz very neariy mack real 
the main purpose of his attack. To think of it is to grow 
cold. And the whole line north of the Army boundaiv had 
such an unstable form that it presaged few good thing& 
Indeed, boundary troubles went on and on. At first they 
were caused by the fact that 6th Corps remained too far in 
the north-east ; then, suddenly, 6th Corps went back too fast 
and was too far in the north-west Hazard and hitches 
during a modernized retreat make a gambling hell unfit even 
for Milton's fisJlen ancels. 

On this Sunday, March 24, the Ninth was attached to the 
^irhf-fifih Division, commanded by Franks, and the Twelfth 
ighland Light Infantry of the Tkiky-fifOi^ less one company, 





reinforced the NintL At three p.m. the Twelfth Highland 
Li^t Infiuitry retook lianrepas, bat held it only a ahort 
while as troope on the right were obliged tofidl bade between 
Hardeoonrt ud CSl&ry-aiuvSomme. 

Again, students will note that the Firtt Oavalrt at 
Montauban were not nf*ed as mounted troops. Gampbell, of 
the Twentj^first, desired to use them mounted, but the Corps 
did not) and I beUeve could not, give him leave. In fightine 
of this nature O AQ. opposed the use of mounted troops, I 
belieya Dismounted men of the First Catalbt did great 
work on the 24th and 26th, guaiding the open left SaSk at 
Tribes Wood and Montanban; but is it riffht to believe that 
their value as mobile reinforoementB would have been greatly 
inereaaed if thejr had not been separated from their horses ? 
Aided by maehme-^ns, and empWed as genuine eavahy, 
they miffht have mmed touch with Byng at Basentin, dosing 
the cap between uie 6th and 7th Corps. 

fietween the second and fourth days a very welcome 
addition of power was eoUeeted by Conffreve in Pironne : 
stragglers, leave men from England, and o&er odds and ends, 
four or five thousand in aU eventually, and commanded by 
laeut-Colond Huni Their first business was to put into a 
state of defence the line Susanna, Yaux Wood, Mancourt, and 
Montanban; and th^ did good service both in their work 
and afterwards in defending their line. Later, too, Congreve 
ooUeeted another seratdi force, this time in Corbie, and put it 
into the Old Amiens defences from the Somme to the Anere, 
covering Corbia 

This collecting of ^ scratch " parties, which were rapidly 
^nganiaed into &iny homogeneous forces, was being constantly 
done by the Staff and Commanders of the Fifth Armt. 
Carey's Force, so called, is one among manv examples, and a 
creditable proof of the activity, energy, and forethought shown 
by the whole defence. But for ttus general alertness the 
IiRH Abict could not possibly have hda off the vast Oerman 
power lannched by Lnoendcnrff. To bold off an attack of this 
magnitude and organisation, and then to tire it into exhaustion 
were wonderful achievements. France and our own country 
do not yet understand in full what they owe to the Fifth 
Abht's few divisions, but they are beginning to understand. 




ON Monday, March 25, I regret to state, all FiFxp 
Abmy troop north of the Somme vere transferred 
from Gough to Byng. They made np the bulk of 
7Ui Corps, under Congreve, and in f oor-and-twenty 
hours they formed Byng's right wing from Bray almost to 
Albert, and thus on Thibd Ajuct land, apart frwn Bray itself. 

By good luck, as we have seen (p. 115), two of Congreve's 
divisions had passed south of the Somme ; both were remnants, 
but yet invaluable to Watts, who was greatlv harassed in the 
centre battle. The 7th Corps men who reinforced Byng were 
the Ni/nUh and TwerUy-Jirst, remnants both, the Thirty-^fih, a 
newcomer and powerful, the First Cavalry, and Hunt's and 
Hadow's Forces, important scratch bodies. 

This act of swopping horses in midstream is too con- 
troversial for discussion here, so I have placed it in Part IV., 
together with a map which I have made to iUustrate its 
effects. With his own troops Byng was unable to follow his 
southern boundary from montauban to Bray-snr-Somme ; 
indeed, his right never closed down into MontaulMm, so 
troubled was it by gaps between its divisions as well as by the 
breach between the 4th and 5th Corps* 

Mishaps of this bad sort are likely to occur in all retreats, 
and these were very unfortunate because they threatened 
Amiens from the north-east Ludendorff and his ofBcers were 
very eager to break through north and north-west of Albert. 
Ebnpily, Marwitz*s rans and transport moved with great 
difficulty over the old Somme battlefield* and Otto von Bdow, 
after his gr^)ple at dose quarters against almost equal 
numbers, was exhausted, as LudendorfT declares. So it 
happened that the foe was out of gear at the very moment 
when our Third A&mt was passing through its most perilous 



On Mareh 25, the gap in Byng^s oentoe became the greatest 
danger of aJl, and it remained ao till early in the afternoon of 
the next day, iHien New Zealand and Australian troops 
prerented the whole Ancre line from being outflanked in the 
neighboorhoods of Buoraoy, Hibateme and Colincampa. 
Bven this timely relief did not save the town of Albert^ which 
fell into Marwitz's hands during Ihe night of Mareh 2ft-27. 

General Monash in his book gives a black pietore of the 
position at Albert, bat we must make allowance for his 
ine o s san t bias. He is oat to praise his own men and not to 
write eool hirtory seen in tme proportion and perspecttva I 
do not know for what reason he overstates his views, because 
the British people and their newspapers praised the Australian 
troops nnstmtmghr, even to the extent of being nedeetfol 
towards the bawbone of the Allied eanse in the West — 
nnboastfnl Tommies enlisted in the British Ides and serving in 
line divisiona Bat although General Monash does not arrive 
at historv, he enables as to fed the romoar-filled wrong 
notions that drealated while the battle was being foa^t; 
and we learn from him also how very false were the opinions 
formed l^ reinforoements who were hurried through forced 
marches till they came upon the &itish inftntry retreating. 

General Monash wants as to believe that Australian troops 
rescued Amiena As a matter of plain fisict^ the Australian 
reinforoements had easy jobs compared with those that French 
reeerves undertook in the sontib, that our Eufhtk Division 
tackled grandly from dav to day in the centnJ battle, and 
that faced the iTiinrty'fiflhj when its battalions came into the 
grapple one by one, breathless after forced marching, 

we read how two brigades of the Fau^rlh Australians, 
though over-tired by previous forced marching, came up on 
the 27th from the Basseuz area to the high ground west and 
south-west of Albert. This town in the night had fallen, and 
the position was critical, mainly because the defence had been 
in batUe since the Slst, but partly because the attack, though 
almost as tired as the defence, had a superiority of numbera 

General Monash says tiiat the two Australian brigades 
formed an ** already over-tired infantry,*' before they started 
their heavy route march from the Baaaeux area; but their 
Iktigue did not come from days and nights of battie; in 
eomparison with our line troops they were fresh and flt^ and 
thus exceedingly welcome. Monash dedaree that their forced 
nuuth — 

*was more than justified, for the mere presence, in a 


podtion of readiness, of these two Austmlian Brindes, did 
much to steady the situation opposite Albert* by heartening 
tiie line troops and stimulating tneir Commanders to hang on 
for a little longer." • 

Monash likes touches of this latter sorL In his case, as in 
a game of bowls, bias acts at once and often too much. 
Consider another passage ; — 

''So &r, the pressure of the enemy upon my front had not 
been serious. It was obvious that he had, as yet^ very little 
artillery at his disposaL We had not, however, found our 
front totally devoid of defenders. During the forenoon [of 
the 27th], a few troops of our oavaby, and a force under 
Brigadier-Qeneral Cummings, comprising about 1600 mixed 
infimti^, the remnants of a la^ge num ror of different units 
of the TmsD Abmt, were slowly withdrawing under pressure 
from the advancing German patrols. These valiant 'die- 
hards,' deserving of the greatest praise in comparison with 
the many thousands of weir comrades who had withdrawn 
from any further attempt to stem the onflowing tide, were 
now ordered to retire through my outpost line, thus leaving 
the Australian Infantry at last face to mce with the enemy •''t 

I wish that General Monash had been with Byngf s troops 
on March 21, and that he had fought on through the retreat 
till it reached Albert. Then the iMginning of his book would 
have had focus, perspective, experience, eympathy, history, 
and, in fact, a very different character. 


Harassed by gathering stress and strain, which came to 
their culminating point between Sunday and Tuesday, 
March 24 and 26, the TmBD Abmt was not master of its own 
movements till gaps in its front had been filled. If its right 
win^ had been able to follow its southern boundary to Bray- 
sur-Somme, ^eat good tiiii]^ would have happened, of course, 
because all t ifth Army troops would have crossed the river 
at Bray into the central battle, apart from those who would 
have held the verv narrow front east of the town while 
keeping liaison with Byng's right. The central battle needed 
reiiuorcement at the very moment when Congreve had to 
relieve Byng's 6th Corps from Uie soutii suburbs of Albert 
south-east to Bra^. 

There are writers who say that the Fifth Abmt troops 

* " AnitnJUn Y iotoriet ia Vnnoe in 1918,** p. 80. t Mi., ^ 89. 


tranBferred to Byngwere preaaed back. Even Sir F. Mftorioe, 
in an oTeisight, has made this mistake, sayingp page 42 of his 
book : ''This new right of the Thuid Aninr waa preaaed back 
north of the Somme, and the Fifth Abm7 aonth of the river, 
finding ita flank expoaed, had to continue ita retreat" 

The mistake in this quotation is too big to be passed over 
in silence. On the fifth day 7th Corps fought splendidly, 
defeating a hard-jireaaed attack, and holding a line from the 
Somme through Haricourt and on to the north of Montauban 
A menacing gap remained unfilled north*weat of Montauban, 
becauae 5th Corps was passing through perils that in- 
creased. Theee perila gathered towards uieir climax during 
the day; and the breach in Byng^a centre, between 4th and 
5th Corpa, became more threateninff, with the reault that 
Byxig himaelf onk^ed 7th Corps to fiul back after dark from 
the Maricourt line. It was this order that uncovered Ooush's 
l«fi aouth of the river, after 7th Corpa, by defeating the me*8 
effbrta to breaJc through, had aaved Amiens, 

At thia pointy then, I wish to work into a drama aome 
veiy atrikinff contraata firom the official dispatch. 

On llarcn 25, north of the Somme, between the neighbour* 
hood of Hem northward to Trdnea Wood (aome 3000 yards 
east of Montauban, and in Thibd Abmt ground) — 

''all the enemy's attacks were held. Though their left 
flank * was constantly in the air, the various forces operating 
in tins sector maintained a gallant and most sucoeaaml resist- 
ance all day, counter-attackii^ frequently. Prisoners from 
five Oennan divisions were taken by us in the course of this 
fighting, and the enemy's casualties were stated by them to 
have been abnormally heavy." 

Congreve's troops achieved these good things, extending 
their left wellinto Thibd Abht land and yet unable to find the 
5th Corps' right. Those prisoners taken from five Qerman 
divisions were captured mamly by the brave Thvrty-fifih, com- 
manded by O. M. Franks, after a combat so full of ups and 
downs that the veiy last reserve had to be used with the utmost 
vi^ur. For the tired attack, reinforced, had risen into good 
spirits, believing that it had a fine dumce to break through 
north of Montauban and on the Maricourt line ; and no doutyt 
it would have broken through but for the Thirhf fifth, a 
recent reinf oreementk 

As the official dispatch does not make real tons the touch* 

* Msasly, lei^raHsiIha Mh Cotyt, bno Asmt. 


and-go perils on the Marioourt line and north of Montaubuiy 
let us take a glance at the work done by the Tkirty-ilfikf the 
NiifUh, and the First Cayalbt, remembering that a break- 
through, here, added to the increasing menace north of 
Albert, would have been fatal. By way of introduction we 
will consider this northern menace first : — 

" At noon," says Haig, "firesh attacks developed in great 
force, and under the wei^t of the assault the right of the 4th 
Corps, with which the divisions of the 5th Corps were not 
in touch, was gradually pressed back.* The enemy gained 
Or^villers, in which neighbourhood the Nineteenth was hotly 
engaged ; and also Bihucourt^" f north-west of Bapaume. 

In plain words, the foe was widening the gap in our 
Third Abmt's centoe ; and by ill fortune, too, there was no 
stability south of Gr^villers to the boundary at Montauban, 
apart from that which was formed by Congreve's men north 
and east of Montauban. Haig says : — % 

** Between Montauban and the neighbourhood of Or^viUers 
(nM' troops had been vnuMe to eetcMieh touch on the Vine to 
which they had wUhchuwn on March 24!. After heavy 
fighting throughout the morning and the earl^r part of the 
afternoon, in which the Sixty-tni/rd Division in particular, 
under C. K Laurie, beat off a number of strong assaults, 
dwieiona eormnenced to fall hack individuaUy towa/rda the 
Ancre^ vndemng the gap betiveen the 6ih and 4<ft Corps. 

"During the aft^noon the enemy reached Courcelette, 
and was pressing on through the cap in our line in the 
direction of Pys and Irles, seriously ttureatening the flank of 
the 4th Corps. It became clear that the Third Arxt, which 
on this day had assumed command of all troops north of the 
Somme, would have to continus the wilhd/rawal of its centre 
to the Ime of the River Ancre^ah'eady crossed hycertai/n, ofowr 
troops neoAT Beaucourt. All possible steps were taken to 
secure this line, but by nightfall hostile patrols had reached 
the right bank of the Ancre north of Miraumont, aTid were 
pushing forward hettoeen the flavJcs of the 5ih and 4th Corps 
%n the direction of Serre and PuisveuaxiVr-UonL In 
view of this situation, the 4th Corps fell back by stages 

* LodflDdorfl dadlares that on the filth day Otto von Below'f Army iras 
oiiita ezhanited, and Haig in a footnote (voL iL, p. 199) xefecs to thia 
dedacation by LadendoifE ; lo I do not ondentend this Acaat pieieoxe on 
the light of 4th Corps. Whence did this pnssaze oome? Vrom Blow's 
eshansted troops f 

t VoLiL,p.902. 

I The italios are mine.— 'W. S. 6. 


doriag the night and mominff to the line Bnoqnoy-Ablain- 
zevelle, in toneh with the 6t£ CoqM abont Boyellee. On 
the right the remaining divisions of the Third Abmt were 
withdnwn under orders to the line Brav*sar-Somme-Albert,* 
and thenee took up positions along the west bank of the 
Anere to the neighbonrhood of Beaumont HameL'^f 

Turn to a map and sketch in this information, and at onee 
it will be dear to you that the aet of holding the Somme 
front safe from Hem northward to the north of Montauban was 
one of deeiaive importance. The Thiriy-fiflh was the groyne 
or break- water, but it was a newcomer which had arrived 
mainly by battalions of diflbrent brigades^and these battalions 
had to be used as soon as they arrived On the tragical 
Sunday, March 24, for example, it was the Sherwoods and 
Cheshires who at daybreak arrived at Maricourt, under 
Brigadier Marindin, to be sent forward at once to retake Hem 
Spur. During Sunday other battalions arrived, the Seven- 
teenth Boyal Scots, who hurried to support l^urindin; tiie 
Twelfth Highland light Infantfy, who were sent at onee 
to help the Ninltk, and the Nineteenth Nortliumberland 
Fusilien, Pioneera Several battalions, and amonff them the 
Fourth North Staffords, arrived after dark or during the 
nipfht of the 24th-26th. CJonsider the feverishness of tiiis 
reinforcing, nearly all the troops marching from 12 to 14 miles, 
because a desire to move them by 'bus could not be put into 
effective action. 

By seven in the evening the TweiUy-fi/rst was relieved by 
the Thirty'fifih, and what was left of them withdrew into 
rseerve near Bray. By Oongreve's order, the G.O.C of the 
Tkirly-fi/ih, O. M. Franks, took command of all 7th Corps 
troops, north of the Somme ; namely, his own division, and 
remnants of the Ninth and Twenty-fir^ the First Cavalbt, 
and the scratch or improvised unit. 

At six aon. on the 25th our riffht sector from Curlu to the 
south end of Bois Favi^re was held by a brigade of the Thirty^ 
fifth under M arindin. In the Maricourt defences were three 
composite battalions ; and the JVinifc with its supports jguarded 
the left sector from Bois Faviere to Bemafay wood, just east 
of Montauban, and on Thibd Abmy land. The NinMg 
supports were a mixture of units from the Thirty^J^th, two 

^ Ttes dhkteas w«m Ooagrsvs*a, dnvn bif Sfs&li Inio land whieh lbs 
SIh Oom would hs¥e htld bos toe its trooblM. ^ote, too, thAt Baoquoy is 
la* potitioa from whioh ibs whole Anon lino msj bo oatflaoksd. 

t Vol. iL, f. aos. 


battalions from Pollard's brigade, and the Nineteenth 
Northumberland Fasiliers. Two battalions of the Thirty 'fifik 
were in reserve. 

All day long, till five p.m., fighting was very keen and 
sometimes very critical. In tiie morning persistent efforts 
were made by the foe to tarn oar left fiank through the gap 
which Byng's troops were unable to fill owing to tiieir flrave 
troubles. Brigadier Legard with dismounted men of the 
Fvr^ Cavalry did some fine work on Thibd Abxt ground, 
shooting the attack at point-blank range, and holdmg out 
well firom the south ot Bemafay Wood to north-east of 
Montauban and thence westward some 2000 ytods ; while the 
NtTithf meantime, were hard pressed in front of Maricourt. 
Artillery barrage was directed to the north of Montauban 
from the east of Bemafay Wood. By noon a battalion of the 
Tkiaiy-ffthf and all three battalions of the Cavalry Brigade, 
formed a defensive fiank north of MontaubazL About an 
hour later it was said that a brigade of Bvng's Seventeenth 
was holding a line from north of Bemafay Wood to the 
south-east of Bazentin le Qrand, and that the other brigades 
were reforming east of Fricouri Touch with them could not 
be made, however, neither then nor later. 

During the afternoon the whole of our troops passed 
through desperate combats. Favi^re Wood was lost and 
r^^ained. Bemafay Wood was turned from the south-west 
when we lost the Briqueterie, but a counter-attack ejected the 
foe. In the south, on our right, British supports were thrown 
back off Curlu Spur as far as the Maricourt line, and a 
successful counter-blow wIls followed by anotiier set-back. 
Beinforced, our men went ahead again and pushed the foe 
back from 600 to 700 yards. 

Meantime the attack proned from EEardecourt against the 
centre of our main position, and broke into Maricourt ; but 
at 6.20 p.m., after bitter, fluctuating efforts, and after Franks 
had used up his last reserves, Maricourt became safe again, 
and our whole line from Bemafay Wood to the Somme was 
intact^ and also very cheerful, for every man knew that the 
Boche had been badly beaten. In tiie final counter-attack 
had been pressed even &e Brigade ELQ. of the 104th and 
106th Infantry Brigades — officers, clerks, servants, signallers 
and runners, so short were we of mexL After this really glorious 
combat, steel helmets were worn jauntily aslant on many 
heads ; cheers rang out here and there ; and then, suddenly, 
at about 6.30 p.m., chilling news came. The TmRD Abvt, 

1 ' . 
■< *■»• . 

I I . r • 



«' . 


owing to troubles north and south of Albert, would withdraw 
Congreve's troops and transport to the Anere, holding as 
a rearguard position the line Bray-Albert 

To stop a break-through and then to be ordered to &Xl 
baek from the land just saved ! There's no greater trial in a 
retreat^ periiaM above all when tnx^ feel alootost exhausted, 
and so parched that water has no appreciable effect on thirst 
But it could not be helped. The position north of Albert was 
notyet relieved. There was ** a dangerous gap about Serre,'' 
as daig points out On the other himd — 

** considerable reinforcements had now come into line, and 
had shown their ability to hold the enemy, whose troops were 
becoming tired, while we transport difficulties experienced by 
him in the area of the old Somme battlefield were increasing. 
Other reinforcements were comins; up rapidly, and there 
seemed every hope that the line of the Ancre would be secured 
and the enemy stopped north of the Somme " (vol. ii., p. 203). 

Unfortunately, all these zeinforcenisiits <m the Third 
Army's front did not at <mce bring equipose to the battle line. 
Next day, March 26, was a very srave one north of Albert. 
Between Hamel and Puisieux, as Maig explains, the situation 
was not yet dear. '' A gap still existed in this area between 
the 6th and 4th Corps " ; and Qerman in&ntxy pressed through 
the gap and worked their way forward till they ** occupied 
Colincamps with machine-^ffuns," threatening to outflank the 
whole Ancre line by a soutii-westerly drive aeoompanied by 
a thrust west and north«west 

In Ftot IV. we shall see what happened afterwards when 
we study the transfer of Gongreve and his troops to Bvnff's 
right wing, and the origin of the C^risy episode by which we 
centre battie was aCEscted so dramaticallv (p. 268> 

To my mind it was nothing less then providential that 
G.H.Q., on February 22, 1918, altered the boundary uniting 
the two armies^ gnatly lessening that south-western slant 
which aided Marwits so much by baflUng Byng^s right wing 
and by drawing CSongreve deeper and deeper into Third 
Army ground. No other matter in the oattle is Tnore 
important than this to our two armies. But the superlative 
bravery of the Ninth Divmiov is equally important to them 
both. It is plain, too, that after the breach was made between 
Faodiawe*s 6th Corps and Harper^s 4th Corps, which was 
accompanied by the openuiff of gaps in 6th Corps, a retreat 
80Uth*west by Byng^s rignt was impossiblcL A general 


oloaizig-ap towards the north became necessary, in order to 
lessen gaps whUe falling back both firmly and qnickly. 


It was Gongreve's Corps that felt with most searching 
pain the force of Marwitz's attacks, and its losses were veiv 
h^h, amonntixu? to 25fiOO men and 186^ gans, of which 27 
were heavies. These losses came to five divisionsi not alone to 
the original fonr—Sioeleenth, Tioenty-first, Ninths and 2%it^y« 
nin^Ay reinforced by the Thirty-fiftk. The great barrier division, 
the Nvnth, Scottish and South African, lost a general average 
of 38*47 per cent, including pioneers, machine-gunners, and 
artillerymen, but not including Royal Engineers. Officers 
killed, 28 ; wounded, 96 ; missing, 94 ; total 213. Other ranks 
killed, 279 ; wounded, 1625 ; missing, 2670 ; total 4574 apart 
from the sick and completely exhausted.* 

The Nimih won great Lne amoD^ German officers and 
men. Here is the tertimony of Captam G. Peirson, who was 
captured while holding the appoinUnent of Brigade-Major in 
the SiaUenth (Sooth Irish) Division : — 

'^ After b^g captured at Lamotte, near Corbie, I was 
taken to the Gcnnan battalion headquarters for examination 
by an intelligence officer. In the course of this examination 
the officer aued me if I knew the Ninth Division ; he said 
that the fight it put up was considered one of the best on the 
whole front; and particularly the last stand of the South 
African Brigade at (I think) Moislains, which, he said, was 
magnificent Both men and officers fought to the last against 
overwhelming odds, the Brimdier himself being taken firing 
a machine-gun, whilst his Brigade-Major was killed beside 


''After this conversation I was sent to Le Cateau, and on 

the way many German officers spoke to me, and all mentioned 

the splendid fight put up by the South Africans. On reaching 

Le dateau I met two British officers who said that while their 

party was being marched to this place they were stopped by 

the Kaiser, who asked if any one present belonged to the 

Nmth Division. The Kaiser then said that had m divisions 

fought as well as the Niwth Division he would have had no 

^ Amonfl the " mining " were other dead snd other wotmded, of oonne. 

t BrigMier Dawion has oontradioted thia atatement about iila having 
Area a tnaohine^san before he mM taken. There ma no maohine-gan 
ammnnition to fire. 


more troops to cany on his attack with. The truth of this 
statement I camiot vooch for, and tmfortonately I have for* 
flotten the names of the oflbsers, bat Brigadier*Qeneral 
Bellingham and lieutenant-Colonel Gell were both at Le 
Gateau at the time and heard the story.* 

'^On my way to Le Gateau I met Mtween thirty and forty 
men of the South African Brigade working as prisoners o£ 
war close to Ep6hy. They were in a very bad condition, as 
no rations were allowed them, and they had to exist on what 
the individual German soldiers chose to give them, and what 
they could find in the old trenches, consequently nearly all of 
them were suffering from dysentery." 

Tee, the Scottish and South African Division was genuinely 
great» and the whole of Congreve's Gorpe, as we have seen, 
had a history full of value. Parts of it fought on till April 4, 
on which day Gcmffreve handed over his command to the 
chivalrous Birdwood and the Australians. 


On Hareh 27 it was dear that the cyclone let loose in the 
nortiiem fighting had lost its reserve force and was dwindling 
away, just like Hutier's in the south. One reason was the 
vety serious loss of men suflfored by Otto von Below, who 
attacked on a narrow fix>nt against a Kitish force not in the 
least under-manned for defence. His brigades, too, inevitably, 
during fogs, must have got into dense formations^ offering 
excellent ts^ts for many of Byng*s machine-guns. Again, 
when an armv on a narrow fiftmt has men enough for a 
defensive battle, the forces at death-grips produce a mortal 
fatigue, a prostration not to be borne without great effort 
by the very bravest^ as the French and BritLsh found at 
Waterloo, which was a skirnushing brief battle compared 
with Byng^s grapple against Belows left and centre and 
Marwiti^s right wing. 

Very fortunately, Marwits's inner wing in its advance 
towards Albert was greatly harassed by old shell-holes and 
trenches, and at last stuck fast in the western edge of the 
Somme's old battlefield. 

One part of Below's Army, the north or right wing, had 

been inactive, so on March 28, it was ordered to assail and 

take the hi^h ground commanding Arras. The fiffht began 

in the mormng, t>etween seven and eight o'clock, and although 

* DftWBon hMurd ihs mum rtocy whmi a pttoonor in Qsnuuijr. 


the attack was a minor one compared with Hutier's onslaught 
against Gough's right, it had a £ar-reachinff object by which 
it is made memorable for ever. Arras and her heights were 
the north abutments of that British defence which, with 
French help, was hardening around the huge arc of the new 
German salient. If these abutments could be carried the 
least effect would be an effectual opening for Ludendorff's 
next blow — at Armenti^res and in the Lys valley; but a 
strong advance beyond Arras, with adecjuate turning move- 
ments, would throw the whole defence into backwara-going 
action, while imperilling the Channel ports and, probably, 
unlocking the gates into Amiens. 

The fight extended from Fuisieux to the north-east of 
Arras, and when Below found that he was checked on his 
northern flank, he struck vigorously towards Arras along the 
Scarpe valley, hoping that he would earn freedom for the 
development of his plans. Happily, since March 23, this 
thrust had been foreseen ; ample preparation had been made 
for it by Byng, aided by G.H.Q. ; and though a slice of land was 
lost, no real structural harm was done to the brave defence. 

Below extended the fight north of Gavrelle and struck our 
13th Corps, forming the riffht of the British First Army 
commanded by Home. This fact is often passed over. Let 
us remember, then, that our First Armt with its right flank 
troops helped to defend Arras. 

Uermans declare that their troops were too slow in their 
attack, pausing too often and too long, though their original 
strength had been reinforced by three divisions ; and Luden- 
dorff himself, as though ignorant of the number of divisions in 
Byng's Army, blames Otto von BeloVs troops for the gradual 
miscarriage of his northern plans. 

" Immediately prior to the assault," says Haig, " masses of 
German infantry with artillery in rear of them were observed 
drawn up in close formation on Greenland Hill, and were 
shelled by our artillery. North of the Scarpe, about Bceux, 
great execution was done at point>blank range by single guns, 
which we had placed in forward positions dose up to our 
front line.* The enemy's infantry in this sector are reported 
to have advanced almost shoulder to shoulder in six lines, 
and on the whole front our machine-gunners obtained most 
favourable targets." 

* Tbe detaolunentB of oertain forward IS-pounder gnng, after firing all 
their ammnnition and destroying their guns, got away safely on bloycdes 
along the main Douai road to Arw. 


I find in oar offieiai mape of the German Order of Battle 
that Below's troops north of the Searpe to his onion with 
Qoast at Aeheville and Bonvrev were as follows, from north 
southward : Two Hwndred ana Fortieth, Acheville-Fresnoy 
sector; Forty 'first, between Fresnoy and Oppv; Fi^ 
Bavarian Besebve, between Oppy and OaTrelle ; ana Twenty^ 
third BBaKBVi, from Qavrelle * to the Searpe. Four divisions 
in line on a front of about 6^ miles. 

South of the Searpe to Puisieoxy about 15 miles, thirteen 
mostly battle-worn, were in line, as follows, 
beginning at Puisieux itself: Twenty-fourth, Third Guards, 
Fifth Bavarians, Hwnd/red amd Jsinety^^fth, Sixteenth 
Bavarians, Two Hwndred and Thirty-ninlht Two Hwndred 
and TwefUy-Ji/ret, Siaoih Bavarian, Twenty^eiasth Besebve, Two 
Hwndred and Thirby-fowrth and Thirty^eixth, Twdfth, and 
the Hwndred and Eighty-fifth south of the Searpe between 
Pelves and Monchy. 

" The weight and momentum of his [the enemv's] assault," 
says Haig, ''and the courage of his infantry, who sought to 
cut their way through our wire by hand under the fire of our 
machine-guns, sufficed to carry the enemy through the gaps 
which his bombardment had made in our outpost Une. There- 
after, raked by the fire of our outposts, whose ffarrisons 
tuned their machine-guns and shot at the enemy's advancing 
lines from flank and rear, and met by an accurate and intense 
fire from all arms, his troops wero everywhere stopped and 
thrown back with the heaviest loss beforo our battle 
positions.'' t 

Below's southern onset, after all-day fighting, was defeated 
by the Guards DivisiOH and the l%irty^rtt ; by the Forby^ 
eeoond, which drove off two thrusts from the direction of 
Ablainievelle, and by the Siadty-aeeond^ aided by a brimde of 
the Fcwrih Australians, whose comHned efforts beat off some 
bitter onsets against Bucquoy by the Fifth Bavarians, aided 
by the Third Prussian Guards. 

In the Arras neighbourhoods, along the Scarpe's north 
bank, where Below's object was to gain the general line, 
llmy-Bailleul-St Laurent-Blangy, our Fowrth and Fifty^aiaBih 
had a hard struggle in which two fresh German divisions 
were engaged supported by two divisions of line troops; 
while immediately south of the Searpe were four German 

• Bang's toft fiftod s Ultls south of Gstnllo, to OtnoUo llMlf wm in 

no's Ana. 

t V6L tt^ p. SU 


divisions, two of which had heen ordered to e^»tore 
Arras and the heights overlooking the town. In this sector 
noble work was done by the Third and FiJUenlh Bbttibh 
Divisions, Eight Britiw divisions and a brigade of the 
Fourth Australums divide the honour of this big combat 

No combat of the war is a better illustration of capital 
defence with enough men on a front very well gunned and 
prepared. The attack's failure was a bitter setback to 
Luaendorff's aims, and we can never be too giatefiil to the 
officers and men who fought under Byng and with the Fibst 
Army's most southern troops. For all that, it was not the 
power behind the attack which made this combat so im- 
portant. The Fifth Abmy faced and baffled hugely greater 
odds. But the German aim at Arras was a big one^ and in 
attempting to make it real, Ludendorff wasted a ^reat many 
men, who would have been invaluable to him in the Lys 
valley and at Armentidres and Kemmel. In other words, his 
blow against Arras was a military mistake ; it was easy to 
foresee and it came so late in the battle that it could not 
possibly be a surprise. Its effect was to complete the ravages 
m Below's Army, with the result that Ludendorff had no 
storm divisions for the Lys battle. 

PAKT ni 



trench. The battery fired several fine volleys ; I heard them 
for a long time. It was slow work crawlmg away without 
being seen, and when I had got 600 yards and was trying to 
get my bearing — I don't know what time it was. Then I 
noticed that no fire came from the battery. There was no 
sound at all for over ten minutes. Then about a hundred 
Germans rushed forward and started bombing the gun-pits, 
and some of our men came up. I saw about a dozen of them 
marched off as prisoners.' . . . 'You are(^uite sure Major 
HarviUe was killed ? ' asked the Colonel qmetly. ' Yes, sir : 
he fell right in my gun-pit. . . •' 

"We idl stood silent, looking on the ground. Poor 
Harville ! . . . A gallant, upright soul. The very best type 
of the civilian soloier who is fighting this war for England. 
. . . Before the war a professional man who had given no 
thought to fighting ; when he became a soldier it was because 
he understood thoroughly, and believed in completely, all that 
for which he was ready to give his life. A dean-living, truly 
religious man, too, who loathed loose talk and swearinj?, and 
lived up to his ideals even amid the slime and filth of war. 
And his braveiy was that of the honest man who fears and 
vet faces danger, not the bull-headed heroism of the ' man who 
Knows no fear.' Poor Harville ! 

** The sergeant spoke again. * Before I came back here, 
sir, after the enemy had marched off our men, A Battery 
turned their guns on the Qermans in B Battery's position.' 
< Did they ? ' said the Colonel, his face lighting up. ' Splendid t ' 
. . . 'Yes, sii^; they fired well, a hundred rounds, I should 
think. They scattered all the Germans, sir; they ran 

And this cool, factf ul seigeant, who maps out what we 
may call the topography of the spiritual life active in 
bloodshed, belongs to our hectic days of liewspaper headlines 
and splash pages ! He tells the truth, coldly and calmly and 
courteously, at a time when the art of trade sellings like the 
virtue of war propaganda, resembles that Western American 
concerning whom a comrade said in a tombstone epitaph, 
''As a trath-crusher he was uzurivalled." Could anything 
prove more clearly that drill and discipline are great sedatives 
and tonics? 

Not v^thout exceptions though, as another stoiy told by 
Quex bears witness. The Colond speaks, March 22 : — 

" Extraordinaiy attitude of mind some of the men out here 
nowadays have. Last night they brought in one of the —— 's. 


who was eaptared by the Boche in the momin^, but escaped 
uid got back to the battalion. He said that tneir enemy set 
prisoners bringing ammnnition np to the front line. When 
he was asked how he escaped, he said that a shell killed the 
moT^n-charg^ of the party and he got away. The mamrvtfi^ 
charge,^ repeated the Colonel with sooni. *^ He spoke as if the 
Boche N.CCO. were a sort of foreman, and as if bringing np 
ammnnition which was to be shot at yonr own conntrymen 
was the most ordinary thinff in the world — Bah I " 

And yet, frankly, which in pre-war times did we as a 
nation try to deserve — ^the cool, faetful sergeant, placid and 
locid thronghout a tragedy, or this shadow of a man whose 
somame should be Bah ? Recall the tides of sentimentality 
which flowed and ebbed in our country through sixty years 
or so ; and think of recent days when the Union Jack did not 
fly above our Board Schools lest it offend idealists. If any 
sreat people ever strove to turn themselves into cranks and 
mvalios, it was the British people between the Crimea and 
1914 ; imd even to-day an amasmg '' logic of dreams" tries to 
undo the restorative traditions whioh our fighting men have 
added to our naticmal leoeiea and heirlooms. In March, 
1919, at a public meeting, 1 was told hv several speakers that 
Consdentious Objectors were the wars real saints, and that 
Conscription was a very evil thing. A soldier protested and 
several young men left the hall ; out flabby sentimentalities 
were cheered bv most of the persons present. No speaker 
thought it worth while to ezphun how we should have &red 
as a nation if tlurtv or forty per cent of our young man*power 
had been aflUcted by Ccmseientious Objection, or if Con* 
scription, too lon(^ delayed, had not been introduced at last. 

To pit improvised armies against the German war machine 
was like pittmg improvised fleets against our British Navy; 
and yet, despite the lack of military training through half a 
oentmry and more, our impromptu divisions and corps not only 
managed to carry on real war m a way that every director of 
the Qerman machine respected ; they contrived also to make 
shift under conditions which our old long-service veterans 
wonld have found most damnable. A Futh Abmt officer 

''Save fixr the Colonel and two or three of the signallers 
and a couple of servants, none of us were experienced Mldiers ; 
all our previous experience had been in attack ; it was some- 
thing new this feelmg that a powerful, energetic, determined 
foe was beating down our opposition and getting nearer and 


nearer. Yet, whatever they may have f elt^ not <me of our 
little band showed signs of depression or nervons excitement. 
The signaUing-seiseant was cursing the sanitary orderly for 
not having clearea up a particular litter of tins and empty 
cigarette packets ; the officer's cook was peeling potatoes for 
dinner, and I heard the old wheeler singing softly to himself 
some stupid, old-time, music-hall ditty. 

The substance of this quotation applies to the whole 
Fifth Armt. The percentage of experienced soldiers was a 
small one in the ranks and N.C.O/s; and not even one 
division had had enough rest and special training after the 
terrible year, 1817. Thus a Corps Commander wrote : ** I 
know scores of instances in the recent fighting where one or 
two trained companies could have stopped the whole local 
retirement ! " From the purgatory of fixed warfare in trenches 
to the hell of mobile warfare in a retreat hard pressed, with 
fialse rumours for ever in the air, and the knowledge that on 
a front so wide splendid success alone one sector was always 
at the mercy of an overpowering &nk movement against 
another; all this and a ^reat deal more made a transforma- 
tion from trench fighting to open warfiftre nothing less 
than abominable to troops who were not instructed enough 
to be exnerienced soldiers. Yet from the first morning the 
thoroughly trained attackers leamt that tiiey dared not take 
liberties and that their time-table was far behind LudendorflTs 
plans and needs. 

And the cause— the spiritual cause ? Fighting tempera- 
ment Though cant enables us to astound other nations by 
chattering always about our gentle pacifiran, yet the size of 
the British Empire proves to all the world that our tiny 
British Isles have produced the most instinctively aggressive 
breed of men the world has ever seen. In our mixed blood, 
happily, there is no unenterprising strain from a timid and 
craven race. Iberian, Boman, Anfflo-Saxon, Celt, Norman, 
and sea-going Viking have left in &e nation's veins mingled 
drops of their blood; and certainly we provoke suspicion 
among our allies abroad whenever we permit the old Puritan 
humbug in our sub-consciousness to prattle about our native 
meekness and our hatred of aggression. We hate aggression 
as a ^d boxer hates to receive a blow on the point Thei« 
remains more fighting temperament in the British breed of 
men than in any other breed, thanks to inherited quidities 
iftid sports. Even our F^Mnfists are never happy unless they 
are attacking human nature both as a whole and in detail ; 


and the separated eharities of oar three or four hundred 
modified Cluriatiaa ereeds nuurk the same native belligerency. 
But for this inborn and hereditary spirit, a combative 
individualism, an aggressive tenacity as natural as the heart's 
automatic beat, our £ifth Abmt, despite the sound generalship 
that governed its big movements, would certunly have been 
worn out and swept away by LudendorflTs lemons. 

No attack could have been better trained, and more 
divisions could not have been used by Ludendorff without 
overpacking his front with taif^ets and jumbling up the 
brigades, uerman message dogs, seen on Watts's Imes, seem 
to nave done their work umiindered by tog ; and it was 
between Watts's flank and those of Qmgreve and Masse that 
the enemy got early opportunities to forge ahead, as at 
Bonssoy and Maissemy. i et he was slow, finding the defence 
so gripping, as at Ep6hy, where the Second Munsters stuck 
it out noUy, under Colonel Ireland, fatally wounded, and 
Ireland's officers, Chandler (killed), Whelan, Eidd (severely 
woondedX Waldegmve, Strachan, King, Cahill (killed), and 
two or three others. 

The German offidal news chronicled the defence (March 28) : 
''Hdghts of Epihy captured after a hard struggle in which 
the British were surrounded.'" Lieutenant Whelan held out 
in £p6hy till noon of the second day. Enemy aircraft gave 
the Second Munsters a bad time, u Companv brought one 
down with Lewis-gun fire, and a rifleman with a single shot 
ended another by shooting the German pilot Lieutenant 
Kidd's defence of MaLsuasise Farm, outflianked early on the 
first day and rushed, was so fine that some German Staff 
Officers spoke of it afterwards with many compliments ; and 
what could have been higher in temper than Lieutenant 
Whelan*s yard-l^-yard grapple in Bidge Beserve and Tetard 
Wood? Me had only C Company and a few of & Every bay 
of Whelan's trench was a battiefield, men rallyingover and 
over again ; though cut down to haJf handf uls. When the 
German aamilt troops had pressed Whelan back into the last 
two or three bays in Tetard Wood, 4.80 p.m., Mardi 21, he 
side-stepped into the trench at the head of Catelet yaU^,and 
thence under orders he fell bade fighting to tiie ruins of Bp^hy, 
where survivors of B Company were fighting as bravely as 
his own men. The German losses were widespread and very 
large* On the first day, as soon as the fog lifted, German 
infintiy were disclosed packed along Oatelet valley, and were 
raked by mgid fire* Kfles and madune-guns» again, aimed 

908 THE FEFEH AEXY 15 YXRrTT. 1918 

to flodi 
1^ vntil 

far niiMHhiii m TiBliwitiirii InOetoL And 
tkk cpnode k an the MR Botehfe been» the So«lh Irish 

too ■■■J of thai woe sot of s pieee with 
the SceoBd MiMftcn, whose pfaKk won dhunock witih five 
kmTC% aot to he tnorhed Ij- chaage aad dny. 

of thio tcBeotj'-— ODBd it wee is vogae en our 
Anrr's froot — seeds eool aDBdi sad sliOBg wills end 
swift dsdnons: fighting teHpcaasad, in two woids. To 
whoi one is oestcn is to know ako tiist one's fighting 
oat of joinly not whsi it oeg^t to he ; end 

egsm and egsin dnrieg the sseond hettle of ^e Somne hodies 
01 Oenaaninfiaitiy USUI ed that thar thiaiiugh tnaninghad not 
endowed thsas w» the grit whieh tnie e omh a t j ^o n css has 
natorsllj. Many of them, hapiBly, so^gAit ovetmodi after 
the fine of kMt leristaiiee. Thus an Si^ish Golonei of the 
SiactgmBttk noted that the whole ad^nnee against his front 
wss methodiesl nntil ponisheil; then it ssemed for a time 
to eoDapee; espeeiaDy if easualtieB were inereedng; and an 
attempt was made to find a weak spot dsewhere^ 

(n his own men this Goknel said that they were eontent 
to hdd on as long as thej were asked to remain ; that their 
eomage and individual dieeriness was indiflpotable, and that 
m m<Mt tfying eiieiimstances of gas and fog it was a treat to 
see their grip and their disdpfine. 

He praised hi^^y the eeieeted and specialist troops in the 
German attack, noting as lessons two points : — 

01 opposiuon* 

2. That weak spots on the flanks of our strong posts were 
found, chiefly by contact airplanes ; flares from the ground 
were sent np frequently, and our pomtions were then made 
known to German gunners^ who got on the target with 
immediate aceunMnr. 

Another British officer, a Brigade-Major, belonging to the 
Biabu first Division, saw at dose quarters how the German 
maoDine worked. Let us see what his enerienees were. 

A Boche attack had broken a Coloners right flank, and 
this Brigade-Maior went to find reinforcements. He returned 
to BeauTois and found it deeerted except by gas ; so he set 


off down the Gennaine road. A party of some fifty British 
stragglers were met and sent ap to reinforce. Then he went 
farther along and saw another party, which he hailed^ but 

Kt no reply, except a signal to keep quiet. Then all at once, 
fore he knew what hful happened, he was rushed by about 
twenty Boohes. 

'' The first one fired at me at point-blank range," says the 
Brigade-Major, ''and though he missed me, the &sh knocked 
me straight oyer, and before I could do anything the whole 
party was around me. 

** I must say the officers treated me very well, though my 
eeeorts were very rough. I had an intensely interesting and 
unhappy four hours with them, as they got ready for a further 
attack. For all my hatred I could not help admiring them 
intensely, for their deployment, discipline and preparation 
were an eye-opener. 

** They extended into battle order without hardly a sound, 
and they lay down preparatory for the next assault, bringing 
up mules dragging lignt trench mortars, machine-guns and 

^ After a little they handed me over to two ruffians with 
rsTolyers which they kept wagging at me and marched me 
back* The shame of bring taken unhmmed and the prospect 
of the indignities ahead decided me to make a bolt for it 
when I could. I waited my chance till the attention of the 
escort was distracted by a shell, and then I fell on the nearest 
man, hurling him as hard as I could at the other and roUin^r 
them both into the ditch. They sprang up at once and fired 
seyeral shots at me, but I was awaw' 

The same officer said that he thought the greatest lesson 
to be learnt firom Qerman methods was the yalue of personal 
initiatiya Propaganda used to tell us in a routine that 
German soldiers had no initiative, when, as a matter of plain 
fiftct^ a great many of them were first-rate in this great 
^u^ty • Ludendom set the greatest store by it^ and fostered 
it by every possible means. Also, in his book, he never fails 
to note when and where it is absent. Note, then, what the 
British Brigade-Major says : — 

" German patrols went forward on their own with limit- 
less objectives and led by N.CO.'s or even privates. I can 
testify to the sldll of their movement and their thrusting 
policy, for I had not a look in with the patrol that got me. 
They were a good mile through our broken line within a 
very short time of breiJdng it and still going strong. How 



ihey kept eomieefcioo mwaiiiyatay to me* aadlooidd not 
help woDderiog how maoy of oor men weie tnined to mA a 
pitch. Their poliqreeeiiied to he to eease fire with the artiDery 
when it had done ite woric, and give free ]day to these patn^ 
in the hope that our line between their penetntionB wookL 
give way, ae often it did* 

In oor officers, when they look back on tho days of St 
it is always a joy to note a hrie^ eha^y, searehii^ 
candoor, instmctive^ and sound all thioi^;h, like the same 
quality in the modest genius of Darwin; and nnless civilian 
Britain shows the same candour towards the merits in 
German warfiure, no general tmderstandmg of oor Fifth 
Abxt's valour and endoianoe is at all possible. Man by man, 
division b^ division, corps by corps, the Qennans were modi 
better trained, and certainly threefold more nnmeroos^ and 
something more than threefold; they were professional 
soldiers, while our own were amateor; and yet a saperior 
inborn pugnacity carried our men throng — a point to be 
noted by idl who are nympholepts of perpetoal peace. 

Here is a series of pictures drawn oy an c^cer of the 
Fifth Durham Light Infantry, which belonged to Martin's 
Brigade of the Fi^ieth Division. The time is the morning 
of the fifth day, and the position is behind P^nne in the 
Biaches neighbourhood. A lull in the fighting was foreteUing 
another Oerman attack : — 

"We were quietly resting when word came in that the 
Germans had established another bridgehead, this time at 
Eterpigny. We were ordered to counter-attack, and at once 
set ofi*, A Company leading in a sort of * artillery formation.* 
We lutd to set tlu:ough a lot of old wire which was rather 
awkward As we advanced we were suddenly attacked by five 
or six hostile airplanes flying low and firing at us with 
their machine-guns. It was r^er alarming, but I did not 
see a single man hit. When we got into the open country 
between fiarleuz and the Canal, I saw that tiie troops in 
front were coming back in crowds, and as things looked very 
black I decided to seize and hold the high ground immediately 
in front. So we took up a position commanding the shallow 
yjalley leading from the Somme to Barleuz, and at the same 
time we rallira the men retiring past us and tried to form a 
line across the low-ljong ground. 

** For some hours nothing more ham>ened, but during the 
afternoon the Germans crossed the &omme in hordes and 
pushed back the thin British line. Our two advanced 


eompanies withdrew with the Sixty-aisBth Division men, after 
inflietmg heavy casualties on the enemy, and rejoined us. 
We took up a soitaUe position on the high groond and rallied 
asmanymenasweconfd. A platoon of the Seventh DJ1.L were 
on onr rights and some men of this battalion were on oar left. 
We got exoellent signalling oommnnication with lamps and 
a post that the battalion signalling sergeant had established 
near Brigade H.Q. 

''It was eztraordinarilv interesting to watch the Germans 
working up to and around our flanka. They seemed to come 
down &e hill at the far, or east, side of the Somme, at first 
in twos and threes, followed by larger bodies such as platoons. 
Then, after crossing the Somme Canal, they worked their 
way in small groups till they had accumulated the required 
number of men at a certain point Tliey fired white flares to 
show where they had got to, and gradually made their way 
to within two hundred yards of us. Further to the south, on 
the fiur side of the valley, we could see them working their 
way along the high ground near Villers CarbonneL It was 
rather alarming, as we could see that they were round our 
right flank and had sot at least a mile past us. 

'^I signalled bac^ to the Brigadier to inform him how 
dangerous our position was, but his reply was a definite order 
not to withdraw, but to stay and flght it out. W^ therefore 
settled down, realizing that in the morning, we should be 
surrounded and overwhelmed with no possible chance of 
escape. Just before dusk the Germans had massed some 
two hundred vards in front of us, so I signalled back to the 
Brigadier, and he put some IS-pounders on to them in fine 
style. Our gunners had the ran^ to a nicety, and dispelled 
any idea the enemy had of attacking us. 

** Later in the evening I thought again that he would 
attack, so I tried to get our artillery on again, but this time 
there was no reply m>m Brigade H.Q.» and we understood 
that they had cone and that we were now on our own. The 
Seventh D.LX liad received orders to withdraw, but in spite 
of this the Seventh D.L.L officer on our riffht offered to stay 
with his platoon and fight it out with us. A singularly brave 
thinffto ao as it simply meant that he would share our fate. 

*^he day had ended, and it was a fine moonlit mstht 
At about 8 p.m. I had reason to think that some mistake bad 
occurred, and Rowe and I, like drowning men clutching at 
straws, got on to the road towards where Brigade H.Q. had 
been, just to see if we could get any information. As we got 


out of the trench on to the road we heard the click of a rifle 
bolt^ and thought the enemy was on us. like a flash we 
were across the road and into the ditch with our revolvers 
out. A false alann : it was a party of Seventh D.L.I. with- 
drawing. I explained the position to the officer in charge, 
and he agreed to stay and watch our flank till we got b^k 
from Bri^bde H.Q. 

** When we had gone three or four hundred yards down 
the road, we found a platoon of Northumberland Fusiliers of 
our own division ; they told us that they had been told off to 
cover the withdrawal of the Fifth and Seventh D.L.I., and 
had wondered what had happened to us, as practically all the 
other troops had gone. It was clear from tnis that orders to 
withdraw had been sent us, but had gone astray. It was not 
long before we were moving in single file, as quickly as 
possible, down the sunken road skirting Barleux. 

'*An awesome business. There was a bright moon, so 
the Germans had a good chance both of discovering that our 
line was being withcuawn, and also of closing up and cutting 
off our retreat. It is extraordinary what a noise three or 
four hundred men make on a still night, however hard they 
are trying to move quietlv. 

" Near Barleux a Bowe patrol, or what we thought was a 
Boche patrol, glided in front of us. They did not molest us, 
but we went on still more on the qvA, vive than ever, with 
our revolvers and rifles ready for instant action. 

'' The next excitement was that our guide took the wrong 
turn, and we found ourselves almost in Barleux, which we 
believed was held by the enemy 1 Quickly we halted the 
men, and the N.F. officer and myself went back whispering 
' About turn ' to each man as we passed him, tiU we got to 
the road junction where the guide had gone astray. Then 
we got hold of the halves of the battalion, as it were, and 
pulled them after us along the right road. Nothing more 
happened. We sot away without a shot having been fired at 
us ; and eventually reached the new line established through 
Estr^es and Assevillers. Here we took up a position that was 
waiting for us. ..." 

In these sketches, so frank and unpretentious, we find the 
temper of our Territorials. But in truthful pictures of war 
we must remember also some other phases of the defence, 
natural phases, but unpleasant 

Amid such a whirlpool of infantry attack, and such a 
whirlwind of shot and shelli some dr^ did appear both 


among Gongh's men and among Bynpf a. The wine of bravery 
has lees, and there were moments when a body of our troops, 
long overstrained, got out of hand Occasional local panics 
led to stampedes ; but this epidemic fear soon halted, and took 
breath, and turned to bay once more. Stragglers were some- 
times too numerous, but as soon as they were collected, they 
fought at once with renewed grit and pride; and as to the 
smidl number that failed, and failed badly, harmfully, they 
have in their aftermath of shame far more pain than they 
deserve^ for a battle of this unusual power and horror needs 
qualities of brain and body which the weak do not possess. 

I dislike very much several pictures of the Great Retreat 
which General Monash has ventured to publish, though 
they display neither soldierly judgment nor sympathetic 
apprehension. They are daily journalism awaiting headlines. 
Here is a sketch of Byng^s troops (pp. 24-25, ''Australian 
Victories in France in 1918 ") :— 

*' Basseux rests on the main road from Doullens to Arras, 
which lies roughly parallel to the line along which, as 
subsequently transpired, the vanguard of the enemy was 
endeavouring to advance at that part of the front That 
main road I found packed, for the whole of the length which 
I had to traverse, with a steadily retreating collection of 
heterogeneous units, service vehicles, and guns of all imafl^- 
able types and sizes, intermingled with hundreds of civmaa 
refugees, and farm waggons, carts, trollies and barrows packed 
high with pathetic loi^ of household effects. The retrograde 
movement;was orderly and methodical enough, and tiiere was 
nothing in the nature of a rout, but it was nevertheless a 
determmed movement to the rear which evidenced notlung 
but a desire to keep moving.'^ 

As the Third Abut men in retreat had been in the battle 
six days and five nights, and as Monash and lus troops had 
not yet fought even an hour, the underlying criticism in 
this quotation has an unpleasant tone. A schoolboy would 
describe it " as altogether too cocky." 


There would have been less wear and tear if horsemen had 
been more common on the Fifth Abmt's extending front 
Haig notes that^ 

''their appearance in the battle gave great encouragement 
to the infantry''; and that *an the southern battle-front, 


and particnlarly in the fiditing abont Nqyon, ca^ahv were 
once more employed wiui great effect^ and proved their 
extreme value in warfiEure of a more open nature. On more 
than one occasion they were able by rapid and suooessfiil action 
to restore a doubtful situation/' 

In Butler's Corps cavahy were invaluable from the first 
day onwards. 

"So urgent was the demand for more mounted men»" sbjb 
Haig, '^that arrangements were made during the progress 
of the battle to provide with horses severu regiments of 
Yeomanry who had but recently been dismounted K>r emplov- 
ment with other arm& In common with the rest of the 
cavabry, these Yeomanry did excellent service. Without the 
assistance of mounted troops, skilfully handled and gallantly 
led, the enemy could scarcely have been prevented from 
breaking through the long and thinly-held front of broken 
and wooded ground before the French reinforcements had 
had time to arrive." 

But let us try to view these matters closely, passing into 
essential details. G.H.Q.'s attitude to cavalry maybe divided 
into a first period of over-confidence, and a second period of 
under^valuation. In the first period cavalry came up in state 
to complete a foretold break-through ; and as a break-through 
was never achieved, the arrival of cavabrv became a bitter 
joke to infantry officers and men. " Oh, damn I the cavsJry 
have come up, so our advance must have stopped I " In the 
reactionary period, two cavalry divisions were given up ; and 
is there [reason to believe tbiat the others were used often 
enough as mounted troops? To bring up cavalrymen in 
lorries, for example, is not at all likdy to keep men and 
horses together; and as three cavahy divisions equal the 
man-power of only one infantry division, a division of cavalry 
is nothing more than a brigade of infkntry when it is em- 
ployed dismounted and at a long distance from its horsea If 
the cavalrv divisions on Oough's front could have been split 
up into mvisional mounted men for the infiemtry brigades, 
would their value have been increased? And would this 
arrangement have made it necessary for G.H.Q. to find, bv 
hook or by crook, more rifle strength and guns for Gough s 
fisff-stretching defence ? Even in our 3rd Corps, where CAvSbey 
formed the British supports, divisional mounted troops were 
needed, as by the Eighteenth, 

General Gough believes that we should have got fiu* more 
value out of the cavalry if they had been organized in smaller 


units and then attached to the infantry; but O.H.Q. had 
other views in March» 1918. From these points let us pass 
on to some very interesting personal experienoes written by a 
distinffoished officer of the Third Cavalbt : — 

"On arrival in the 8rd Corps area» this division was 
ordered to form a dismounted division and to go forward to 
oocui^ certain points of the defensive line. In the subsequent 
retirements which took plaoe» difficulty was experienced in 
carrying equipment, rations, ammunition, warm British coats, 
et&, owing to the unsuitability of the kit of the cavalry 
soldier for actinff for prolonged periods dismounted ; hence 
some equipment had to be abandoned. The horses on this 
occasion were sent back some miles under orders of the Corps, 
and were not seen again by the units for three or four days. 
It has been brought out time after time during the operations 
that the horses must be kept within reasonable reach of the 
dismounted men, otherwise the latter lose a great deal of their 
mobility. Mounted men must always be attached to a dis- 
mounted brigade for use as orderlies, patrols, etc., and a 
mounted reserve kept in hand for counter-attack, or moving 
quickly to a threatened point, even when the remainder of the 
units are acting dismounted. 

" Fade horses for Hotchkiss, machine-gunsy and tools and 
ammunition, led b^ men on foot, should always accompany 
the dismounted brigade or regiment, if it is found that the 
remainder of the horses for tactical reasons must be sent some 
distance away. Otherwise, men are used up in canying the 
above equipment 

''It was found that when cavalry was sent forward to 
take up a position to check the enemy, or to fill up a gap 
which nad occurred in the line, the situmon was very obscure, 
Mid it was very necessary to send officers* patrols forward at 
once to see the situation. 

" In retiring from one position to another it was found 
advisable to retire by a flank to avoid hostile artillery 
fire. • . • 

'' If a retirement of cavalry b to take place when holding 
part of a line, it should not be carried out mounted. Led horses 
should first c^ all be got away, and then the dismounted men 
should retire on foot An instance of this occurred with 
Barman's Force on the 26th March, in the vicinity of Dives. 
The IVench save way on the left about Candor, and Lieut- 
Colonel Ooolrs detachment of the 8eo(md Cavalry Division, 
bad to withdraw. The withdrawal was carried out mounted 


with the result that confusion occurred, and difficulty was 
experienced in taking up the appointed line in rear* Also, 
the fact of mounted men moving back has a demoralizing 
effect on other troops, especially imantry, in the vicinity, and 
is apt to cause premature wiUidrawals elsewhere. On the 
same day the withdrawal of a detachment of the Third 
Cavalry Divisiok from Bois des Essarts was carried out 
by sending the horses away beforehand, with satisfactory 
results. • • • 

''The work of patrols throughout the operations was 
excellent. In the case of Harman's Force, the 3rd Corps 
were quite in the dark as regards the situation until recon- 
naissances by officer's patrols were carried out. It was the 
practice from March 23 to 26 to keep four officer's patrols 
— strength one officer and ten other ranks — at General 
Harman's Headquarters, for employment as required. These 
patrols started out before dawn each day and were drawn in 
after dark. They worked in certain sectors of the front and 
supplied reliable information, not onlv of the position of the 
enemv's advancing troops, but also of our own infieuitry or of 
the Irench troops. Reports were submitted eveiy two hours, 
on an average, by mounted dispatch riders. These patrol 
leaders were able to visit advanced Company, Regimental and 
Brigade Headquarters, British and French, sending a con- 
tinuous stream of information of the situation on a front of 
five or seven miles, which proved invaluable to the Higher 
Command No casualties to patrols were reported, although 
they worked often in front of our infantry in close touch 
with the enemy. The utmost self-reliance and bravery were 
shown. . • • 

*' It is the general opinion that liaison with French troops 
was bad. The average French interpreter has no military 
knowledge or vocabiuary, and is quite useless for liaison 
purposes. In the case of Heunnan's Force, liuson was carried 
out by means of French-speaking Briti^ officers; this was 
also done in the case of General Seely's Force, and . General 
Seymour's, and it worked welL . • ." 

At first the First Cavalbt Division was with Watts, but 
one deed has been assigned in print to its Commander that 
belongs to the 9th Cavalry Brigade and the H.Q. of the 
Sixty-sixth Division ; the recapture of ground east of HerviUv 
in a dual attack by tank and horse. Imagine the Roism- 
Monti^y road running from north-west towards the south. 
Here in the south is Montigny. Over there, east of the road. 


18 Hervilly. West by south of the road, some 3000 yards off, 
18 Nobesooort Farm. From this point the tank attack set out» 
goiBg east, while from Montignv the 9th Cavalbt Bbioadb 
advmodd, moving in an easterly enrye northward ; and by 
good fortmie the diffieolt oo-operation was perf eet This 
oonnter-attaek took place on the second dAj, ftt aboat eleven 
o'clock in the morning; and although it feoled to retake the 
whole of Hervilly Wwxl, yet it hurt the foe badly at the very 
moment when he was trying not only to develop a snccess of 
the first day at Templeax-le-Qa6rarcC but to reach and take 
the Oreen Line hard by Nobescourt Farm, an important part 
of the P&nonne bridgehead. 

The First Cayalbt did a lot of digging, once through a 
whole night, but, as we have seen, its most noteworthy 
experience was this— that it had to be sent from Watts, 
whoee Corps became increasingly weak, to ease border troubles 
on and near TmBB Abmt luid, where dangers were even 
more threatening. Afterwards, on the mominj^ of March 25, 
it was among the Fifth Abmt troops that remf orced Byng. 
Then, two days later, it crossed the Somme and rejoined the 
Futh Abmt. 

From liaieh 21 to April 11 the First Cayalbt lost 1277 
in casualties : officers kiUed 14, wounded 64, missing 9 ; other 
ranks killed 166, wounded 801, missing 22a 

All the cavalry units did won<terf ully well, whether 
mounted or dismounted, but, as a rule, I believe, the mounted 
were the more serviceable. Monognu>hs for students of war 
are certain to be written about Harman's Force, Portal's 
Force, and other excellent bodies, such as Seely's, Seymour's, 
Burt's, Paterson's, Legard's, and others. 

It is interesting to note that while our infiuitry, as a rule, 
lost more in missing than in recovered wounded, the cavalry 
lost more in recovered wounded than in missing. Let us 
take an example, choosing the Second Cavalbt and the 
Eighteenth Ikfakibt. 

The Bigkteenih had 82 officers killed, 64 wounded, and 
110 missing; and among the other radcs, 299 men were 
killed, 1809 were wounded, and the missing numbered 2649. 

The Beeond Cavalbt, between March 21 and 26 in- 
clusive, suffered as follows: Officers killed, 10; wounded, 
88 ; missing, 8. Other ranks killed, 121 ; wounded, 622 ; 
mining, 146. Between March 27 and A^ril 1, the losses 
were: Officers killed, 10; wounded, 48; missing, 2. Other 
ranks killed, 145 ; wounded, 781 ; missing, 98. 


Considered as a whole, eontrastiye figures of this kind are 
not diffienlt to explain. No cavalry manned the forward 
zone, the zone of forlorn hope, from which few men returned 
becaose they fonght on till they were killed or captnred. 
Farther, in&ntry as a rule formed the rearguards, and in 
delaying actions by rearguards a great many men are sur- 
rounded, or cut off, and taken prisoners. It is their duty to 
sacrifice themselves for the sake of the general defence. 
These points are self-evident, but a noteworthy question 
arises: ''Are infantrymen under modem conditions handi- 
capped so much during a retreat that in future wars they will 
be displaced partly by mounted machine-gunners, and partly 
by tanks ? Have they had their day ? Will they disappear 
as archers and crossbowmen and pikemen disappeared ? 

Perhaps tibe fiercest cavalry fight was the capture of the 
Bois de Moreuil, March 80, by the Canadian Cavalry 
Bbigade. The Germans had captured M&si^res and were 
advancing rapidly towards Amiens. So the brigade was 
ordered to cross the Noye and Avre Rivers at once and to 
engage and delay the enemy. It crossed at Castel and 
marcmed due east to the northern part of the Bois de MoreuiL 
At this point machine-guns from the wood's northern face 
fired upon the Brigade, and as Germans within the wood had 
a full dear view of the whole valley leading up to Amiens, a 
swift and successful attack by the Canadians was imperative. 
The story of what occurred reads like a brilliant page by 
Alexander Dumas. Both sides fought with extraor&iaty 
courage. The wood was taken little by little after complicated 
movements and the bitterest of bitter fighting, in which 
squadrons commanded by Nordheimer, Newcomen, Timmia, 
and Flowerdew suffered heavily and won a fiime not to be 
forgotten. Consider a passage from the Brigade report : — 

''Lord Strathcona's Horse (R.C.) were then ordered to 
send one squadron under Lieutenant Flowerdew to pass 
round the north-east comer of the wood at a gallop in support 
of Captain Nordheimer, while the remaining two squadrons of 
the regiment advanced to the attack dismounted on the north- 
western face. Nordheimer's squadron got into the wood and 
engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. Many of the 
enemy were kUled, all refusing to surrender; but a laige 
party, estimated about 300, retired from the woiod south-CMt 
of the point where Nordheimer*s squadron had entered it. 
This party was charged by lieutenant Flowerdew, and many 
Germans were killed with the sword as they ran to meet the 



eavaliy with the iMiyonet, showing no signs of surrender. 
Flowerdew, having passed through them, mieeled about and 
charged again. He then galloped into the wood at the 
centre of the eastern face, established himsell, and was joined 
by the dismounted party of his regiment. Fierce hand-to- 
hand fighting ensuea in all the north-east part of the wood, 
resulting ultunately in the complete capture of this portion 
of the wood and the killing of aJl the German garrison. The 
enemy's resistance was most stubborn; one badly wounded 
German, shot through both legs and the stomach, refused to 
allow the stretcher-bearers to move him, saying he would 
sooner die uncaptured • . • Our losses were severe, most 
regiments having lost from half to one-third of their officer^ 
and a similar proportion of their men. • • .*' 

I give a sketch-map to illustrate another action of import- 
ance ; it was fought by a detachment of the Third Cavalry 
Division in the neighbourhood of Villeselve. On March 24, 
at 8.30 ajn., this division received orders at Berlancourt to 
move forward in the direction of Gugny to support dis- 
organized infantry, whose line had broken at Villeselve. 
Sron our cavalry re-established the front from Beaumont to the 
neighbourhood of Eaucourt. Then they were withdrawn to 
help the Nvnth French Division, but this movement caused 
the line to break again, so Harman issued orders for another 
restoration. The 7th and Canadian Brigades were sent 
mounted round the southern side of Villeselve, and they 
formed a line from Beaumont, the left of the French position, 
to the road-junction half a mUe north-west of Beaulieu. The 
6th Brigade, under Major Williams, was sent through GoUezy 
in order that they mieht charge through the German line, 
and then swing right-handed in a north-east direction along 
the foe's fi^nt, using the sword only. 

The detadunent [160 men in allj moved along the main road 
to Villeselve, taking the sunken track that goes north into 
CoUezy. It came under machine-gun fire from the neigh- 
bourhood of Golancourt, but put itself under cover of a big 
farm at the south-east exit of CoUezy. It was formed into 
three troops by regiments ; our Third Dragoon Guards under 
Lieutenant Vincent forming the first wave, our Tenth Hussars 
under Major Williams the second wave, and the Boyals under 
Captain Turner the third wave. 

The attack was made in infantry attack formation ; the 
first two waves in line extended, and the third in sections, 
but covering the fianks of the two leading wave& The 


Third Draeoon Guards rode towards Copse A, meetiiig some 
Germaa infitntry, who were either killed or captured. Several 
Germans ran into the copse, but they were followed on foot^ and 
shot in the back at point-blank range. 

As for the Tenth Hussars and £>yals, Williams led them 
on the west side of Copse A, and here the greater part of the 
enemy's force was posted. For about a thousand yards our 
men were under machine-gun fire, and the last two hundred 
y tfds was ploughed land. But the attack was in hifih spirits 
and cheered lustily, and when it reached the plou^ed land 
the foe benn to surrender. The Hussars rode straight 
ihrouffh, and the Royals followed, mopping up small parties 
who had run together after the Tentn hM passed through 

After this m6Ue the " Rally " was sounded ; prisoners were 
ooUeeted, 106 in i^, and the wounded were picked up. Then 
the squadron returned to the main Berlancourt- Villeselve 
road. Our own losses were high, about seventy-three, but 
the counter-attack had a good influence on the infantry, who 
with renewed confidence pushed forward to a line running 
from the outskirts of Golancourt almost to Eaucourt, indud- 
ing Hill 81. His result enabled two Ulster battalions, who 
were cut oft in the neighbourhood of Cugny, to retire on 
Villeselve, where they were reassembled and sent back into 
the line. 

In briefi we owe to all arms an inexpressible debt of 

Dawson's Five Hundred 


MARCH 24, 1918 

AT 9.45 on Saturday evening Dawson's South African 
troops, now reanced to about five hundred in all, 
^ picked their way towards their posts in the NvuMs 
chosen line. By three o'clock on Sundaymominf 
they took up their ground north-west of Marribres Wood, and 
north of a road running between Le ForSt and Bancourt. 
Their right had gained touch with Campbell's left, a touch 
frail and uncertain, as German patrols haa entered Cl^ry-sur- 
Somme, about two thousand four hundred yards from the 
southern outskirts of Bois Marribres. Dawson's left had 
linked itself to a company of E.O.S. Borderers, but did it 
find the rest of this Lowland battalion, which was in reserve 
south of Rancourt, some two thousand yards from Bois 
Harrises' north end? Three patrols tried to find it, but 
ecurly morning fog made their search ineffectual 

Dawson was on a ridge, with two remnant battalions 
looking south and one facing east, whence front attack would 
come. One good trench and two or three bad ones, with a good 
many shell-holes, were his earthworks. He took up his head- 
quarters in a support trench about three hundred vards behind 
the front line. Ground went eastward downhill to a small 
valley, then sloped up and made a somewhat higher ridge, 
where our foes, while spying on the South African actions, chose 
damnable fine places for machine-guns. About one thousand 
yards parted the front line from Ihis German vantage ground. 

While fog was passing away Dawson visited his men, 
improved their stations, and braced them up with a few 
right words of crisp pre-battle talk. They had two hundred 
rounds of ammunition apiece, besides a fair supply of Lewis 
drums. But a section of machine-gunners was down in luck ; 
it had only three belts I What was to be done ? Three 


machine-gmiB and their men were sent away — ^formidable and 
yet naelefle. And another troable was present. In the tiny 
S.A. force were too many good offioerSy some being new* 
eomersy and it seemed a crime to waste them. One battalion, 
a strength dwindled to a hundred and ten all ranks. 

had fourteen officers, for instance. Since March 20 no man 
had had any hot food or any hot tea. All their rations had 
been cold. And three cold nights without sleep, and long 
days in which fighting, sweat, and thirst had collected fog, 
dust, gas, and shell fumes, had exhausted most bodies \m% 


yet in heart all were fit for their forlorn hope. Dawaon spoke 
to his lieutenant-Clolonels, Heal and Christian, telling ^em 
that their field of battle was to be held against all odds in a 
thorough fight to a finish. No man was to retire without 
orders; every one must do his best to the very last^ no 
matter what might be done by neighbouring troops on the 
flanks. And a report of this decision was sent by runner to 
Tudor, the G.O.C. 

It was fortunate indeed that Congreve had chosen at this 

E)int a fight to a finish ; fortunate, too, that both Tudor and 
awson were fighters bom, for Marwitz, on this tragical 
Sunday, had maae up his mind to cain an operative break- 
through both north and south of the boundary uniting Gough 
and Byng. North of the boundary he got through along the line 
Combles, Morval, Lesbceufs, but south of the boundaryihe was 
foiled mainly by the splendid bravery of the South .^J&icans, 
but importantly also by the fine way in which two battalions 
of the Thvrty-fifih Division, the Fifteenth Cheshires and 
Fifteenth Notts and Derbies, hurried into action soon after 
dawn, though fagged by a severe forced m%rch, seized Hem 
Spur, and stopped the German flanking advance from C16ry. 
Further, if the Nvnih Division's Highlanders had not bem 
compelled by events in the Thibd &Hn to fight on Byng's 
ground, the South Africans might have been rescued. 

At about nine a.m., as Dawson himself has related, the 
enemy deployed for attack, and got his machine-guns into 
action in some old trenches on the ridge one thousand yards 
east of our front line. His artillery opened fire at the same 
time. Half an hour later a British airplane passed over, and 
a feeling of intense gladness heart^ied the South Africans, 
for the airplane seemed to be a link with the British troops 
behind. Dawson waved to the pilot, and the pilot waved 
back ; but perhaps the movement of his hand was not friendly. 
Perhaps, indeed, the pilot mistook the South Afiicans for 
Germana In any case, at ten am. British field artillery, by 
accident — ^Erom we direction evidently of the Ttoenty-Jirst 
Division— opened a very accurate fire on Dawson's position, 
one batteiy oeing laid on the trench in which Brigaae Head- 
quarters was situated. One mounted and two dismounted 
messenf^ers were sent back,but the fire continued till eleven a.m., 
when the batteries apparently retired ; and afterwards, apart 
from some heavy gun-firinc on Bouchavesne^ no more British 
guns were heard. Though a number of British shells fell in 
Dawson's trendies, they are believed not to have caused any 


casualties. But it was found necessary to remove Brigade 
Headquarters to a shell-hole in the vicinity. 

When Marwitz^s troops, who were grey, blurred moving 
spots on their ridge-crest^ came west downhill, they were 
swift and prudent, advancing in all about two hundred and 
fiftv yards. A rush across the narrow valley was not in their 
oraers. To dimb a ridge afterwards would need more nerve 
and vigotur than were natural after three days of continuous 
overstrain. So the front attack was easy to hold ; and another 
from due south, more difficult perhaps, was shot to a stand- 
stilL An hour or so went by ; and then from north-east came 
a very clever, even a picturesque onrush. The Boche set fire to 
dried grass, used wind-blown smoke as a screen, and, com- 
bining nis movements with gunfire skilfully directed, picked 
his way slowlv forward till he got almost within charging 
distance of S JL front line. Between one hundred and two 
hundred yards were all that he had to rush. Through some 
hours he strove to get nearer, but always in vain, so accurate 
was the 8. A. shooting. Dawson, knowing that his ammunition 
eould not be replenished, had ordered his men never to shoot 
at random, but to use their rifles with slow, prudent care, wait- 
ing till field-grey taigets drew near enough to be pot-shots. 
Fmmr at lonmr ranges than four hundr^ yards was to be 

Early in hb attack the Boche tried to use a field-gun 
only a thousand yards off. Such cool cheek angered the 
defenders at first ; it seemed too insolent, too arrogant. Then 
it amused them, and by reaction eased their stress and strain. 
They were in a theatre out of doors, and that field-gun, now 
being wheeled forward by hand in sudden, violent efforts, 
was the play. Major Ormiston, of the 1st S.A. Infantry, 

eve orders to a Lewis gunner, while his riflemen held their 
Bath and kept their eyes on the German field-piece. Putt- 
putt-puttr I The Lewis gun was in action . . • and well on 
its taimt, for the Boche gunners, almost ready to open fire, 
were idl knocked out ''Ah I** our men ezdaimed in a sort of 
drawling, husky sigh ; and then a rattle of cheers, hoarse and 
stem, rang from the British defence. 

Tlie Boche did not accept his failure tamely. He bore 
malice ; and with his usual detailed thoroughness began to 
plot and |ilan, as if his day's fight were a siege and not a hold-up 
to be finished quickly. Later, with renewed pluck, he made 
another attempt, in a movement far and away more dramatic. 
This time bis field-gun had its team of horses, and came at a 



gallop into the areiUL Wasted energjr! The same Lewis 
goimer — ^I wish I knew his name I — had the same eool mind 
and the same steady hand and effectual eye. He fired : and 
tiie team got out oi hand, OYertomed its field-piece, men and 
horses gomg down tog^her — a great huddle that pkmged 
and stmgg^ed. No wonder the defence shoated with joy. 
And anc^^ cheeiing thing came hefore noon. A messenger 
arriyed from Tador, bringing with him the news tbat 
troops bom oar Thirty-fifth were coming np, an invalnaUe 
reinforcement, and had been <Mrdered to form line bdiind the 
Soath Africans, half a mile away. Dawson passed on the 
news to his men, and sent word back to Tndor by runner that 
the frontal attack had been held, and that his line at 1L40 
was stiU intact^ despite dangerous movements in the north 
and south. No other message came to Tudor from his SA. 

In the afternoon, at about two o'clock, British troops on 
Dawson's right and left retired. This incident caused one of 
his own officers on his left, with some thirty men, to believe 
that a general retirement had been ordered* Believing this, 
thev b^an to tall back past the shell-hole in whidi Dawson 
had his Headquarters. Major Cochran and CSaptain Beverley 
went to stop tnem, accompanied by a seigeant-major named 
Keith. At once German machine-guns became exceedingly 
busy, concentrating fire on the movements in Dawson's arena. 
It was easy to stop the retreating men and to place them in a 
position £Budng north, perhaps a hundred yards north of 
Dawson's hole ; but, unfortunately, brave Cochran was killed, 
hit in the neck by a machine-gun bullet^ and Ormiston was 
dangerously wounded by an advance Gennan scout, at a 
range of about sixty yards, and was left out there in the 
open. Wounded men, if possible, went or were taken to 
an old trench that led to the Headquarters shell-hole ; and 
tiiose who were too much hurt to use a rifle were iJlowed 
at first to leave the battlefield. Others were sent back to 
tiieir firing-line, and always they went willingly. But a 
magnificent fighting temper needs ammunition, and by two 
p.m. ammunition became short, and Dawson was completely 
surrounded. Every round was collected from casualties, and 
men who were not in the front line, or who had no need to 
use their rifles, pMsed on their rounds to comrades in front 

On our west side German snipers were alert and trouUe- 
some ; from north, within two hundred yards of Dawson's ILQ^ 
came another irritating fire; so Lieutenant Cooper, with some 


twenty men of the Second Bmiinent^ was sent a hundred 
yards northwards in order to hold some shell-holes from which 
a very useful counterHmiping could be done by cool, firm pluck. 
Cooper and his garrison cannot be praised too mucL They 
suffered such heavy losses that they needed frequent reinforce- 
ments. Cooper himself was hit, and about an hour later a 
fragment of shell killed him. But his influence remained; 
his few men went on firing till their ammunition had gone. 

Between two and three o'clock a thrill of excited hope- 
fulness passed all at once through the defenders, as signs of 
agitation appeared among the besiegers. Then a wounded 
man from Cooper's handful came to Headquarters and said : 
** Our men are coming up, and some Germans are bolting for 
all they are worth 1 In fact, north of Dawson's H.Q. the 
foe fell back, a good target in retreat, and soon German 
artillery put down a rapid stiff barrage westward, behind 
Dawson's battlefield. Why ? Then some one cried : '' We 
can see the Germans surrendering ! " This cry was repeated. 
Had troops from our Thirty "fifth begun to arrive ? Hope said 
** Tes" in every British mind ; so our men were heartened — 
heartened in vain, unfortunately. No battalion of the 
Thvrtjf-fifth had yet had time to come so far. The battlefield 
being small and quite surrounded, German fire from the west 
may have hit Germans in the north and east, causing their 
leaders to believe that British reinforcements were arriving. 

" About this time," says Buchan, " Lieutenant-Colonel Heal, 
commanding the Fiist Regiment, was killed. He had already 
been twice wounded in the action, but insisted on remaining 
with his men. He had in the highest degree every quality 
which makes a fine soldier. I quote from a letter of one of 
his oflicersL ' Bv this time it was evident to all that we were 
boimd to go under, but even then Colonel Heal refused to be 
depressed. God knows how he kept so cheeiy all through 
that hell ; but right up to when I last saw him, about five 
minutes before he was lulled, he had a smile on his face and a 
pleasant word for us alL* "* 

At four p.m. a bad outlook cast a chill over every one. 
Dawson's men could not hold out much longer. They were 
sick with the nausea called overstrain ; ammunition was all 
but gone ; machine-guns and Lewis guns were silent. Since 
nine a»m. artillery fire had poured on theS.A. fronts causing so 
moeh dust and falling earth that rifles had to be cleaned 
fo»queiiUy. Itoimeg^ 

• ** SoQlli AliSosn YoMit ia Vrsnot," ^ 18S. 


15 cm., tmseen batteries for the meet part. light irench 
mortars also were in action, ravaging the north-east part of the 
8.A. fronts Casualties everywhere had been veiy high, and 
at four o'clock Dawson had only a few isolated fi;roups of men. 
Still, though control was now impossible, and i^oo^ hope of 
relief had gone, an effort would be made to hold on till dark, 
when survivors oonld try to open a path westward. 

At 4.20 Dawson had a very great shock. He sawa white 
flag! Through field-glasses he watched it carefully, and 
80on, to his intense reUef, he could see that it was a German 
artillery flag. But some harm had been done, several South 
Africans having accepted the flag as an official surrender. A 
quarter of an hour later, the last glimmer of hope went out 
like a lighted candle in the wind. 

Beyond H.Q., in the east-north-east, a new attack came into 
full view ; it proved to be one of three fresh battalions. At 
this moment tne S A. defence had about one hundred effectives, 
almost without ammunition, and scattered over too much 
ground. A few shots brought our rounds to an end; the 
attack came on in waves, cheering and screaming, and all 
was over. 

" Dawson, with Christian and Beverley, walked out in 
front of a group [of Gtermans] which had gathered round 
them, and was greeted with shouts of ' Why have you killed 
80 many of us ? * and ' Whv did you not surrender sooner? ' 
One man said, 'Now we shall soon have peace,' at which 
Dawson shook bis head. Before he went eastward into 
captivity he was allowed to find Cochran's body, and rescue 
his papers." * 

For over seven hours handfuls of South Africans, heroic 
and indomitable, had held up the Qerman in&ntry and all 
the mms and transport which were to advance by the 
Bou(£avesnes-Comble8 road. After the fight this road was 
seen to be blocked for miles and miles. No wonder German 
leaders were amazed by such a magnificent stand. 

Though the S. A. Brigade had ended its last fight, it did not 
disappear entirely, I rejoice to say. Two thin companies had 
lost their way on a dark night, and another small party had 
become detached from the brigade. These troops, along with 
some details and the transport of the brigade, about four 
hundred and -fifty rifles, were collected near Maricourt^ and 
formed into a composite battalion under lieutenant-Colonel 

• Bnchan, p. 188. 


Totmg, who had been in charge of the S.A. details. So 
Dawson's fine spirit did not vaniw altogether from the battle. 

For the rest, I learn from Colonel ^achan that Dawson 
daring the fight had moments of questioninff doubt He 
wondmd whether his final stand woold be justified by its 
results. In his diary Dawson wrote : — 

*' I cannot see that under the circumstances I had any option 
but to remain till the end. Far better to go down fiffhting 
against heavy odds than that it should be said we failed to 
carry out our orders. To retire would be against all the 
traditions of the service.'* 

No combat in the whole battle was more useful and 
necessanr, and even more so to Byng than to Goiu[h. U 
the y.U. were granted to the superior herobm of units, 
and not to the superior heroism of occasional men one 
by one, the South African Brigade would certainly have 
won and received this honour bv its unlimited valour not 
only on Sunday, March 24, but also on the 2l8t and 22nd. 
As Oeneral Tudor has said, '* None but the best could have 

S^t through on the 22nd from the Yellow lane with 
eudecourt in the hands of the enemy." 
Tet for some reason G.H.Q. glides over the South African 
defence and its exceedingly great value. It says onlythat 
the foe's advance at the junction of the Fifth and Third 

''succeeded in isolating a part of the South African Briflade, 
Ninth DivisiOK, near Marriires Wood, north of CMry • These 
troops maintained a most gallant resistance until 4.80 p.m., 
when they had fired off all their ammunition and only about 
100 men remained unwounded. Early in the afternoon 
German infantry entered Combles ** Fin J^yng's area], " and 
having gained the high ground at Morval were advandng 
towards Lesboeufs. Their continued progress threatened to 
sever the connection between the Fifth and Third Armikb 
and the situation was serious." 

What a scrappy and patchy account of the most terrible 
hours in Harwite's advance I There is no recognition of the 
fiict thai the South African five hundred, by holding firmly 
throuffh a long morning, and by continuing their intrepid stand 
till huf-past rour in the afternoon, were certainly as invaluable 
to Byng as they were to Gough. Indeed, Byng's southern 
troops, as the <uspatch recognises, were at Kocquigny and 
Barastre, and Uius far off frDm a firm liaison with Cough's 
left. Note the result. With its Highlanders the NxrUh 


endesvomed to do work which oo^i to hsre heen dooe by 
the 8oath brigade of Byngf s tiAt flank divkian, the F&riy^ 
tevenik, while Dttwaon, just BoaSici the bovndaiy, prerented 
a break-throng 

If Bawson'e troops had been wiped out in the morning, 
dieaeter could not have been evaded. The eonnectian between 
Bjmt and Goash woold have been eompietely sev^ed. By 
eontinning to bold on after the fall of ComUeB and Morval, 
Dawiion confirmed the valne of the work done by troops of the 
Thirty -fifih west of CUty, and by the NinA'a Highlanders in 
Byngs own area. But for him and his five hmidred, a 
rescuing line could not have been formed and held fitom the 
Somme at Hem to Trdnes Wood and LongnevaL 

Dawson writes as follows of his men : — 

" It is impossible for me to do justiee to the magnificent 
courage displayed by all ranks under my command during 
this i^ioo. For the two years I have been in France I have 
seen nothing better. Until the end they appeared to me quite 
perfect, ^e men were cool and alert, taking advantage of 
every opportunity, and, when required, moving forward over 
the open under the hottest machine-gun fire and within 100 
yards of the enemy. They seemed not to know fear, and in 
my opinion they put forth the greatest effort of whidi human 
nature is capable. I myself witnessed several cases of great 
gallantry, but do not know the names of the men. The 
Tnajority, ofcouaraef vriU Tiever he known. It must be home in 
mind that the Brigade was in an exhausted state before the 
action, and in the fighting of the three previous days it was 
reduced in numbers from a trench strength of over 1800 to 600." 

I am glad that Dawson does not know the names of those 
men because I wish to honour the South Afiican bravery in its 
Brigade form. ** The majority, of course, will never be known " 
in acts of courage; and hence there will always be much 
unfairness in the distribution of medals. 

Medals are all very well, but corporate spirit in great deeds 
wiU endure longer in history and be more useful to the next 

For all that, just a few examples of bravery may be given 

Two hours after Major Ormiston was wounded, a man 
went out over the open and wanted to bring him to our 
trench. Ormiston refused to go. "I am dying," he saidi 
** and shall be dead in an hour or so. It would be quite a 
waete of time to get me in.'' But the man insisted on 


reseoiiig the officer. He talked with Onniston, and prevailed 
on him to oome; and when Ormiaton tried to move ne foond 
that he was regaining the loss of hia legs, which had been 
paralysed. They crept from shell-hole to shell-hole till they 
reached the trench. This adventure would have been im- 
possible if the defence had not had the snperiority of fire. 
Onr fellows conld show their heads while the Germans daied 
not show theirs. ^ It was an exoeedinglv brave action,'' says 
Dawson, "but by right the man should have been oourt- 
martiaUed. For it was not his business to m looking for 
wounded; his job was to flghi. All the same, he was a Brave 

^ Lieutenant Cooper, of the Second Regiment, about two 
in the afternoon, came in looking as white as a sheets and 
saying that he had been hit in the chest It was found that 
the bullet had hit his box respirator and given him a heavy 
blow in the chest, but had not gone through. Cooper sat down 
till the colour returned to his fiice, when he said, ' Now Fm 

S>ing bade' Out he went over the o^en and rejoined his men. 
bout ten minutes later a man came m and said: 'Lieutenant 
Cooper is killed. A piece of the last big shell hit him.'" 

''At one time in this front trench, where the artilleiy fire 
was exceedingly heavy, only two men were left alive, one 
being Father Hill, and the other a private of the First 
Regiment, and a linen dumper by trade. Among all the brave 
men on tins day he was conspicuous for his courage. Two 
shells burst on the parapet, and it seemed as if the next 
would be in the trencL The man said : 'I have been praying 
hard for the last four hours.' ' Then vou have beaten me at 
it^' Father EQll answered. • . . They both survived, I rejoice 
to say." 

** Another man, with both legs shattered, sat in the trench 
and refused to let any one bind up his wounds ; and with a 
smile on his fiMC he handed up his ammunition, packet by 
packet, to the men who were firing. • • •'* 





FROM a wounded Major to his wounded Brigadier : — 
"The battalion had breakfast at Lmguevoisin 
[about a mile and a quarter south-east of Nesle] 
and then marched back {i.e, westward] to Billancourt 
where Brigade H.Q. was. We were just going to have a rest 
(having put posts out on all the roads), when we received a 
report that the Germans had broken through Nesle. So we 
all stood to and lined the . Billancourt-Herly road. However, 
it was a false alarm and was said to have been started by 
a person in the uniform of a R.A.M.C. captain whom the 
police were trying to catch, but I do not think they were 
successful. Heaps of troops received this rumour and had 
altered their plans accordingly.* 

''At 6 p.m. on the 2Srd we had orders to go to 
Languevoisin again and billet ourselves, which we did. 
Bri^ide remained at Billancourt. Then we actually had 
more or less of a night's rest. 

^ On the morning of the 24th, Brigade telephoned to say 

we were to go to . The wire went ' Dis ' in the middle 

of the message, so I started off with the battalion, and the 
CO. went to Brigade to find out the rest of the message. As 
we went through Breuil I reported to General Evans, who 
told me that the situation was changed, and that we must not 
cross the canal. However, at this moment the CO. came 
along to say that the Brigade had changed the orders and we 

* GemuuiB In Allied nnifonn behind otu lines were aotive^Bpreading 
mmoors. On Mwoh S9, one of oar brigadiers, while oiylng important orders 
in the field, was interrupted by a man in medioal uniform, who came up and 
said with great excitement that Germans werein the woods a hundred vards off. 
The brifladier told him to go to that plaoe which is assumed to be much 
hotter than the Bed Sea. His orders given, he called for the excited doctor, 
only to find that the fellow had ridden away east on a motor-cycle. 


were to form a bridgehead over the CSaaal [do Nord] ; it was 
arranged that the OloiioeBten were to form a faridgdbead josi 

west of with some troq^isof the Thoentieth DivisiOK, and 

the test of his brigade with some French troope and some of 
the 188rd Brioade formed one at BreoiL So we hurried 
off down the canal and got into position aboat noon. Ilien 
we had a mesBace to say that we were nnder the TwentieA 
DinsiOH for orcterB, and shortly afterwards had orders from 
O&O. iL of the Twentieth to cross the canal and try to form a 
defiansive flank for the 59th E^gadb, which was withdrawing 
on to the canal hard pressed by the enemy with its right 
flank in tiie air. We were just starting oat to do this when 
the orders were changed again, and we had to send only one 
company, and the oUier uiree companies were sent back to 
the bri^ehead at BreniL 

** G Company crossed the canal and had advanced only 
a few hmidied yards in open order when they were suddenly 
enfiladed by a Glerman machine-gun and some infimtry ; so 
they got down and opened rapid nre and gave the Gkrmans 
as fi;ood as they sot themselves. It was here that poor little 
La&e was kiUed; he was O.C. Company at the time and 
stood on a slight mound. In tiie end more Germans came up 
and C Company had to withdraw ; this was about 2 p jn. [on 
March 241. 

** In the meantime the other three companies were forming 
a bridgehead at Breuil, all was quiet here except for a German 
cavalry patrol which swung off as soon as it was fired at. 
Here we remained till about 8 D.m., losing about ten men 
through our own artillery, whicn would fire right into our 
men, although there were no Germans within 8(K) yards and 
in spite of our frequent messagea . . . 

'* During the mght the Germans came up into the trees on 
the east of the canal, and, except for machine-gun fire on both 
sides occasionallv, the nisht was quiet I forgot to say that 
at 8 p.m. we haa received orders to withdraw to west of the 
canal and blow up the bridge, which was done. 

'' On the morning of <£e 25th the Germans put down a 
h^vy machine-gun barrage on the village ; itlasted about an 
hour. Xhere must have been thirty maddne-ffuns firing at 
least; a few men lining the canal were hit it was about 
this time that Colonel Lawson was very nearly hit twice by 
a sniper who shot at him &om dose to the canal bank at 
about eiffhty yards range. If he had not aimed at his head 
he woula have got him. 


''We hung on in and in front of Brenil all day. It was 
noUoed that the Hans had established a H.Q. in a large hoose 
abont 700 yards north-west of the village ; monnted orderlies 
and others were oontinnally yisiiing it. So we put a section 
behind a wall in the villa^ and they made loopholes in the 
wall and fired at every one who went near the house. They 
got several, too, and we Huns did not like it 

^ Throughout the day the village was very heavily shelled 
by the Huns, but a few RA.M.O. men from the Tw&ntidh 
Division did very good work. When Colonel Wetherall was 
hit» the CO. went to command the Brigade and I took over 
the battalion. Howitt came up to see us from Brigade H.Q., 
which was just west of Languevoisin« He did damned well 
throughout the show; he was always walking about and 
visiting people, and worked like a black day and night. 

" At 6 we suddenly saw all the English troops on our 
right leave the canal and go back in streams; then the 
Germans crossed the canal on our right, under heavy fire from 
the Gloucesters, and began to get round our right flank which 
was now hopelessly in the air. The Germans also tried to 
cross opposite us, but we held them. Things began to look 
nasty, but we knew our left was all right as Moore was there 
with his battalion. 

''We were scrapping hard with the Germans getting 
stronger on our right ; so I formed a defensive flank with 
B C(mipany, who were in support, and they did excellent 
work and kept the Huns back. 

** At this stage I received a written order direct firom the 
Twentieth DrvisiOK, not vid Brigade, to sav that owing to the 
failure of the Thirtielk Division to hold the line on our flank 
we were to withdraw to Cressy; sol sent a message to Moore 
and ordered the withdrawal of the Glouoesters. No doubt 
the people on our right had received Uie same message ; that 
is why they went hick. 

** The withdrawal was carried out very well with covering 
fire, in fact we were the only troops that I saw that used 
covering fira 

" Some of the older officers did awfully well, • . . and the 
Company Serseant-Majors of A and B Companies did 
splendidly. We took a few prisoners and Dudbridge was 
largely responsible for the capture of an officer. We killed 
a lot of Huns and did not simer so very heavily ourselves, 
ihon^ poor Fotheigill was killed and C.&M. Phillips was 
woundecL One platmn of B Company under C.S.1C. Aunoos 


and Corporal Vinoent did a bit of a charge and acafctered the 
Huns like blazes, and took a prisoner. . • • 

" We reached Cressy just after dark to find a line of posts 
held by a mixture of French and British troops, so sent out a 
couple of patrols and thickened the line where necessary. 

''At 12 midniffht^ 25-26, we had orders to march to 
Roye ; so we called in the patrols and started off We cot to 
Boye about 3 a.m. and had a meal and a little rest^ and then 
started to march again at 6 a.m. The whole British Army 
seemed to be on the road. We finally reached M^zi^res at 
about 1 p.m., having done 21 miles since midnight. Hei^ we 
had something to eat and then dug in, and were glad to see a 
French cava&y regiment go through us along the main 
Amiens-Boye road. By this time the CO. had come 
back to us, as Colonel Bilton, Worcesters, had taken over 
the Brigade. ... 

'' Bosi^res had fallen * and the Germans were expected to 
attack Caix at dawn. . . • Oloucesters were to dig in between 
Le Quesnel and Hangest, with the Berks and Oxfords on our 
left astride the mam Amiens road with the 182nd and 
188rd Bbigades on our left. We moved up, got into 
position, and started to dig in. No one knew who held 
Hanges^ so we sent a patrol there and found a French 
cavahy brigade in the village. This would be about 1 &m. 
on the 27th inst. 

" Also we sent patrols to Folies and Arvillers, which were 
held by British troops. At this time there were two lines in 
front of us, both held by British, one through Arvillers and 
Folies, the other through Boudboir, Bouvroy, and Warvillers. 
As soon as it was light the CO. sent me forward to find out 
the situation. I discovered that Warvillers and Bouvroy had 
fallen and that Folies, Bouchoir, and Arvillers were held by 
troops of the 59th, 89th, and 90th Infantry Brigades. The 
old ^ucks, now an enb-enching battalion, were attached to 
the 59th Brioade. 

"I had rather an interesting time in Bouchoir. Just 
before I arrived a Colonel shot a Hun in the main street, at 
about ten yards range ; he seems to have wandered in by 
mistake. Then I met a subaltern with his platoon, who told 
me the Germans were massing on the south of the road ; so I 
had a look at them. Never have I seen so many Germans in 
all my life ; a huge black mass about a mile away. With 

* A false rnmonr. Bosi^res had not falleii,aa we know, Binoe it played an 
all-important part in the great oombat of the 87th. 


glasses one oould see howitzers, maehin^goiiB, trench mortars, 
and field-gtms, as well as infantry. It was a wonderfnl siefat. 
They seemed to be coming down the Boye road and then 
moving off to the south, and some seemed to stop in a mass 
about a mile from where we wera And we had plenty of 
batteries and not a gun was firing. 

'* So I looked at my map ; the place was 81 Central, I 
remember ; and then I went off to the nearest battery and 
told them to shoot at 81 Oentral, and they had not sot a map 
between them, so I made them shoot off my map. Finally, I 
got three more batteries on it, including a battery of 
French 76*8. 

" The Qermans did not attack Bouchoir, but a force moved 
south of it and attacked and captured ArviUers. So Bouchoir 
was evacuated and the 88rd Bbiqade was moved over to our 
left near Hangeet, as the Qermans had not attacked Oeuz as 

heavily as was expected. 

''At 12.80 a.m. of the 28th we were relieved by the French 
and told that we were going into rest 

''We got into motor buses between Le Quesnel and 

H^^res, but then they ^found that the Huns had broken 
through farther north near Wienoourt and Quillauoourb* So 

we rushed up to Maroeleave, got there about 8 p.m., had three 

hours' rest, and went out and took up a fine position behind 

a bit of wire with a fine field of fire west of the village just 

before dawn. 

"Then about 10 am. they pulled us out and we handed 

the line over to a mixture of troops — Sixty-eixth Division 

machine-gunners, a BJL Field CSompany from some division, 

and also a Tunnelling Company that had never used rifles 


Then came the attacks on Lamotte and Haicelcave already 


"The end of it was that we were ordered to withdraw and 

dig in, in the dark and a steady rain which was now falling, 

600 yards west of the villagcf 

^ Than wm no brMk-throagh on this front; Imt tho latitr thoivi twloo 
how ditialoni during m ntnat hear IaIm nawt ahooft ono mioUmt. Whon our 
Ststy-tictik Dmnov reaohad iho line Wianooart-OniUftOooart, 94K), 
Haroh 98, iho foe wm (mi too tired after his ezperienoee et Herbonniteee, on 
the previona day, to give troaUe. But our own tcoopa alao were ^^done'* and 
diaofganlaad ; toan waa no aooh thing aa a platoon or a oompaay ; and it was 
deemed neoaaiarf to fall baok alowly to the line Ignaiiooart-lCaieelottfe, and 
thm to xefoon tae ikelaton nniti. 



" The 29(ih was raiher quiet, the Hans did not attack, and 
there was not mudi shelling, bat a little sniping and machine- 
gun fire. ... At about 8.50 a.nL on the 30th, we noticed 
that all the English troops in the south in the direction of 
Hangaid were retiring in streams; at the same time the 
Germans started to shell us a lot and opened heavy machine* 

''So I went down to the line to see if every one was all 
right; it was a curious line, within half a mile of us were 
Oloucesters, Boyal Berks, Oxfords, Warwicks, and two 
squadrons of yeomanry, and the servants and staff of the 
Fifth Abmt Infantry School. 

'* I saw some of the Berks and they were very cheery. I 
asked who was then in command of them and they told me 
the Intelligence Officer. I went over to speak to him, and as 
we were talking a shrapnel shell burst near us and hit us 
both. We were at the railway between the two villsffee 
about 600 yards west of Marcelcave. He was rather badly 
hit» poor fellow. I cannot remember his name ; they used to 
call him John in the mess. . . • 

" I am so pleased Colonel Lawson has got the D.S.O. He 
was splendid all the time and as cool as possible. . . ." 

What could be better than this letter? As simple as 
Bunyan, and generous as a fine May day. 

''I fear my writing is very bad, but my arm is not strong 
again yet." 

No, the letter was written in hospitaL Not a word of 

floom appears in this quiet and chatty epitome of big events, 
[ow Carlyle would have rejoiced to add such a letter to a 
book of his I But yet it is only one letter from a great many, 
all written in the same serene tone of conversational friend- 
liness. Duty well done fits these officers naturally; their 
courage needs nothing else as a symbol of Y.C. and D.S.O. 

Our ''nervy" newspapers make much more ado over a 
lawn tennis matoh than our officers and men made over the 
most searching battle of the whole war. What will the 
British people be after two hundred years of headlined 
journalism ? 


A rearguard officer of the 2/FifUi Gloucesters writes from 
hospital to the same Brigadier. 

" With regard to mysdf , I was wounded in three places 


BUghUy on the 28th March in the oounter-aitaok on Warfns^e' 
bat I was so tired that I took no notice, not even knowing 
that they [^the wounds] were there. On the 29th I ffot pretty 
badly buned, whichn^^ ^^ oontnsion of the spme and I 
had to go down. When they undressed me at Bouen, much 
to my surprise, there were the slight wounds. . • • 

"I wilt tiy to give you a description of what happened to 
our battalion after you lefL ... At about 5.80 p.m. on 
March 22 our battalion was distributed in depth, A and B in 
front, C behind, and my Company in rear. Rickerby and I 
were in the front line ; the Boche rushed us, and we all fell 
back on my Company line, which was on the railway. He 
broke through the battalion on our right, leaving our flank 
in the air. At about 10.30 pjn. that night the Boyal Berks, 
who were on our left, told us that they had had orders to go 
to Yoyennes at once with the 18Srd Briqads, to whom they 
were attached. They went, also all the 188rd Bbigadb. I 
told Colonel Lawson [Eleventh Hussars], who was the only 
other officer practically there ; he had just come. He said we 
should have to stay, as we had no orders to go there owinff to 
the Brigade-Major bein^ captured; so we extended our une 
and kept up fire. At this time S.A.A. was getting very short, 
and the dump at Beauvois was burning very strongly. We 
stayed in this line, with no one on our right, and no one on 
our left» till about 8.80 a.m. on the 28rd, when the Colonel 
thought we ought to go, as it would soon be lights and the 
enemy would see that he was being held up by only about 
150 men on 2000 yards of front* All night ne tried to rush 
and bomb us, but we kept on firing at any movement. We 
got out by sneaking around Beauvois and marching to 
Yoyennes, then to Languevoisin, where we had brealdast. 
We then moved to a place near Herly, but marched back to 
Languevoisin, and slept the night of 28-24. At 10 a.m. on 
the 24th we were rushed to Breuil, to hold the bridgehead, 
and to cover the retirement of the Twentieth Division from 
the canaL The 24th was without much incident We got 
into cellars at Breuil the night of 24-25. Early in the 
morning the Boche attacked the bridgel\ead we were holding, 
but we drove him offl He shelled us very badly all day, but 
we inflicted a lot of casualties on him. At about 4.80 p.m. on 

* Thtts UO bcavs Bin osbm IbIo aelioD s* i of 5 a^a. on lUnk 8L At 
SsjB. eu Um SMihMf iv«M oolv two idUm bMk from Ibsir odghisl potlU^ 
sad la tbs mstntfaBS thalr dMnoo, OoUn llsoksosU's, had hma tttift kff i for 
iigh> saa Hty boom ly Ihrsi Q«Dsn divMoBg. 


the 25th the people on the bridgehead on our n^^ retired, 
leaving as in the air, and the Boche got across it. We had to 
retire to Ciessy as hard as we ooiud, after letting CSolonel 
Moore's battalion — ^Twelfth E.B.RC. on our left— know. 

''We had a few French mixed np with ns, and throogh 
them I had some InncL I was fighting a rearguard action 
with about twenty men and a L.O. when I saw some what I 
thought to be French, but they seemed to be going the wrong 
way. I ran to tell them, and captured a Hun captain, 
sergeant, and batman, with some important maps. It was 
getting dark by this time, so we got to Cressy, where we 
stayed tiU 12 a.m.,* then marched to Roye on the 26th ; f and 
after stopping there a little time we went on to M&sik^e& 
We arrived were verv tired indeed, but dug a line and had 
food. About 9 at nisht we moved up to Le Quesnel, where 
we dug in again wiUiout much incident. ... At 9 p.m. on 
the 27th we had orders to embuss and go to ViUers-Bretonneux. 
When we got there we went on to Marcelcave. We counter- 
attacked Warfus^e at 11 a.m., and retired back through 
Marcelcave at about 6 p.m. on the 28th. . . . Willink was 
wounded in this counter-attack at Warfusfie, but I did not 
know that he was killed till I saw it in the Time8. 
Colonel Lawson was simply grand. . . ." } 


The late Colonel A. B. Lawson, 2/Fifth Oloucesters, writing 
on Mfnr 9, 1918, said :— 

" We got a Military Cross for Grarv who did very well, bar 
for Dudbridge, and about a dozen M.M.'s. . . . Also they gave 
me a D.S.O. ; don't quite know why except for escaping with 
a whole skin when so many others had the oad luck not ta . • . 
Things for the present are fairly quiet^ but probably the Boche 
will develop another effort somewhere again liefore long; 
after all his promises to his people he must continue, but I 


* Getting away from GresBj was difficult. Another offioer writes: "I 
found the Berks and got things fixed up, only to find to my horror 
when I got hack to Greasy that a general withorawal had hoen ordered, 
and we spent a Irantio evening txyiDg to separate the sheep from the goats to 
hold the various villages. It was in this withdrawal that poor old Moore was 
tiJian prisoner. • . . You are quite right. General Psgan is a topper, and 
has already won all hearts. I wish, however, he was not quite so inoUferent 
to shell-fire— he makes ma ashatned to duok." 

t Covered hy a wsloome leaiqguaxd of armoured oars. 

X UnhappUy killed on June 19, 1918. 

• • 


trust he will mt a knock and wear himself out and then 
perhaps we shall get a bit of our own back.'* 

" B he has many divisions like the one we met the other 
da^ we shall not have a great deal of trouUe with him, and I 
think it is a ywy &vourable sign that there are any to be 
found who will ehuek it as some of them did« when they are 
supposed to be having a suecessful offensive and should have 
their tails rieht up. I saw one of them jump up and run into 
our line and shake hands with a man in one of our posts as 
he went past** 

A note of discipline from Colonel Lawson : — 

''As soon as we had got ammunition up and companies in 
position east of Beauvois, the Boches started to come on. 
A.YJS. was in command, in front line. I saw that they had 
apparentlv got forward on our riffht, and then our front line 
came back. I was rather angry about it because I had given 
no orders, but X.Y.Z. told me he had told them to as his right 
was in the air ; so I put them all in the third line. It would 
have had to happen sooner or later, but I should have liked 
it to have been done more gradually, with more ehooting at 
the advancing Boches, while the retirement was going on, 
because they gave a vei^ good target'* 

Another Colonel, actmg as Brigadier, describes some events 
on March 25 : — 

"As Languevoisin was sure to be heavily shelled when 
daylight came, I ordered at 5 pan. all men out of the village 
and moved Brigade Headquarters back to a sunken road 
600 yards west of the village. Things began to get noisy at 
7.30 a.m, when Bennett reported that about two companies of 
the enemy had tried to get across the canal at Quiquery, but 
got it badly. They were supported by some fidd artillery 
which, judging by the report, seemed to be firing at very 
close range. I heard about this time that the ZVusnty-Momci 
Frknch Division was coming up to counter-attadc from 
Nesle in the direction of Rouy. Things on our left flank 
were getting very imcomfortable, as apparently a very heavy 
engagement was going on, and I began to see about 10 ikm. 
lam bodies of our troops retiring. Soon after this platoons 
of French inf antiy passed us and were cheered by our men. 
They looked very fine men and very much for it. 

''At 12.15 p.m. while standing over the telephone waiting 
for the operator to ring up the division, a W^ot of shell hit me 
in the neck and cut a small artery. The Brigade-Major. 
Captain Howitt, with great presence of mind, got me on my 



back, and being a very strong man, manaeed by half strang- 
ling me to stop the bleeding after about half an hour, when 
we got hold of tha doctor of the Royal Berks, who tied 
me very tightly up. While this was going on, I heard that 
the Germans had taken Nesle ; so I oraer^ up a company of 
Glouoesters to the threatened flank and, not wishing to be 
captured for a second time, I got two men to put me on a 
bicycle and to push me towards Cressy, where the Field 
Ambulance was. . . . From Gressy I went down to the G.G.& 
at Roye and was evacuated to Rouen that nisht, thus for the 
third time joining the ranks of the wounded. 







rS dispatch says : — 
''Behind the forward defencee of the Futth 
Abmt, and in view of the smaller resources which 
could be placed at the disposal of that Army 
arrangements had been made for the construction of a strong 
and carefully-dted bridgehead position covering P^ronne ana 
the croedngs of the River Somme souUi of thai town. Con- 
siderable progress had been made in the laying out of this 
positiont tnough at the outbreak of the enemy's offensive its 
defences were incomplete."* * 

Incomplete f An indefinite word ! It never bruuDB before 
any one's mind a clear picture. Through a fortnij^t or so 
about lO/XX) Italians toued on the rear defences^ and made 
them ffood enough for rearguard actions — if enough troops 
reached them. Trenches varied in depth from a foot to 
thirty-six inches. Wire was not continuous anywhere. 
Isolated platoon posts along the northern sectors were wired, 
as a rulcb while in the south there was less wire, because a 
great deal more work had to be done there at express speed, 
partly owing; as we have seen, to the effect of ory weather 
on nvers and marshes. Briefly, the rear defences were too 
ekstieally ambitious for the tame and labour which O.H.Q. 
could put into them ; also the foe's airmen must have noted 
and mapped their course. And who could foresee how many 
troops would be lost in the forward and battle cones, or how 
many would reach the rear lines ? 

On February 9, 1918, Gough received from O.H.Q. a 
document answering a letter wnioh he had sent there on 
Febmaiy 1, Some quotations from it are useful and 

• •« Hftis'i DIspslolMs,** vol. U., p. ISi. 
t Th« ItaUot MS fliliM^— W. 8. & 


" The Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief oonsiderB thai 
in the event of a serious attack being made on your 
Anny on a wide Eront^ your poUey should be to aecv/re wnd 
proteet at aU costs the vmporicmt centre of Pironne a/nd the 
Kiver Sorrvme to the sovth cf th/xt place, wmle strong counter- 
attacks should be made both from the direction of P&tmne 
and from the south possibly assisted by the French Third 

What meaning are we to get from the routine phrase 
*' secure and protect at all costs *' ? In other points the 
directions belong to elementarv generalship. What subaltern 
could have failed to see the miliary value of P^ronne and the 
Somme ? Our stores^ dep6ts, and hospitals were west of the 
Somme^ as every one knew ; so a Qerman invasion west of 
the Somme — between P^ronne and Ham, for instance— would 
be vastly harmful. Yet tiiis matter was not, and is not, the 
main one. The main one is the fact that adequate defence of 
the Somme line depended on the British Govemmenty who 
alone could supply Haig with enough men and guns. If 
enough reinforcements were not sent in time from inland to 
France, retribution would fall as usual, on our young soldiers, 
while Ministers might save themselves by using their eloquence 
as a democratic li&belt. 

Remembering these things, let us consider the phrase * to 
protect at all costs." It has two meanings : to retire from a 
thorough grapple against odds before the odds can gobble up 
the defence, or to perish rather than give ground, as Wellington 
at Waterloo was prepared to parish. Which of these mean- 
ings was the Fifth Army to illustrate bv its conduct? We 
are not told. When poison enters into a doctor's prescription, 
is it not well to give Uie dose ? 

The directions imply, though written six weeks before the 
battle, that there will be good rear lines and enough men " to 
secure and protect at all costs '' the positions named ; for it 
could not be a reasonable defence for a delaying number of 
troops to regard their lives as less valuable than land, since 
defence overwhelmed does not stop the foe's advance. And if 
strong counter-attacks were to be made from the direction of 
P£ronne and also from the south, possibly helped by the 
Third French Army, surely sufficient reserves should oe on 
the spot and fully equipped. If they arrived without artillery 
or without other necessary equipments, how could they be 

In the second paragraph G.H.Q. is contradictory : 


"While the Forward and Battle Zones in the Fifth Abmt 
area should be fought generally in aoeoidanoe with the 
prineinles hud down in G.H.Q., Na O.AJ>. 29 1/29, dated 
14th December, 1917, the provisions of paragraph 6 regarding 
the reinforcement of the Battle Zone and its re-establuhment 
by coonter-attaok reonire some modification. NeW^ ia ihe 
grawnd vMch theae Zones vmmediaiel/if protect ao important, 
nor a/re ike eoTgvnwmicaiiume leadmg to them ao good aa to 
totumnU reMifoToemefnia hevng thrown wto the fight, cownter^ 
aUouka on a large acale being lamiehed, or the hoMe being 
fought auJt vn the BaiUe Zone, unless the genml situation at 
ihe time makes such a course advisable. It may weU be 
deairable to/all back tothe reanoa/rd defences of Fironne and 
the Somme whUe linking up with the Thvrd (Britieh'] Army 
an the norih, and prqpanrmg for 

If O.H.Q. had put these orders in the first paragraph, its 
instmetions would have been less perplexing. At present we 
are fiMse to face with impossible thinffs. Since ** it may well 
be derirable to faU back to <&s t^eoruiora defences of PAx>i^ 
the Somme,** what was the use of saying in the first paragraph 
that P4ronne itself must be secured and protected at all costs ? 
If our troops must allow themselves to be scuppered rather 
than retreat behind the Somme, surely the command should 
be given plainly, and surely there should be no talk about 
rea^rard defencea The rearward defences of P^ronne were 
behind the Somme ; the forward defences of P6ronne were the 
leads, migor and minor. 

order that there may be no danoerous gap between 
your defensive systems and those of the Thibd Army, ahotUd 
a vrithdrawal to the Pironne bridaehead or to the Une of the 
RiveraSomme and TortiUe take jMice, the necessaiy switches 
will be constructed under mutual arrangements to be made 
by the Third and Fifth ABMua'* 

^ In order that the above works may be completed with 
the least possible delay, arrangements are being made for 
the provision of the nec e ss a ry labour and transportation per* 
sonnel for the construction of defenees and we nt 
development of the existing road and Ught railway 

As regards the organication and preparation of the rear« 
ward defences, the main considerations in their relative order 
of importance will be as follows : — 

(a) ** The protection of the river crossings at Pironne will 
be secured by a bridgehead. The defences of this Inridgehead 


must be aited with a view to Beearing our road and 
oommunications through Brie and P^ronne. 

" The organization and preparations for the defence of the 
P^ronne bridgehead will be comjdeted in detail as soon as 
possible, including the provision of adequate communications, 
%^, road and light railways, also additional bridges over the 

(&) '* The reterUian of the line of the River Sommie will be 
aeowred by the canstrticiion of an evneraency defer^ve Zone 
as a e^nxmg retrenchTrieTU aJUmg the left oank of thai river as 
fa/r north as Pironne and tlience northwards by ihe TortiUe 
River. In connection with this defensive Zone small bridge- 
heads will be constructed as required to secure the immediate 
crossings over the river. 

'' The organization of this emergency defensive Zone and 
the construction of the defences will be carried out con- 
currently with the work on the P^ronne bridgehead with 
such labour as may be available after the requirements of the 
latter have been fully provided for." 


And now let us think impartially of those events which 
caused Goueh's withdrawal from the sketchy lines guarding 
the Somme &om a point east of Bouy-le*Qrand, north-eastward 
to Monchy-Lagache and Hancourt ; thence north, as a portion 
of P^ronne's bridgehead. This line was the main Green Line ; 
it crossed Huti^s northern boundary ({.e. the Yermand- 
Amiens road) about a thousand yards south of Vraignes and 
three thousand yards west of the minor Green line, an off- 
shoot, a trifle east of Poeuilly ; so it was affected equally by 
the attacks directed by Hutier and Marwitz. On both sides of 
the road wide pressure was exceedingly strong, the southern 
side feeling the concentrated force of Hutier's right, and 
the northern side the massed power of Marwitz's lefL Early 
in the battle this circumstance was ill-omened for five 
reasons : — 

1. Only about 6000 yards of straight road separated 
Vermand from the main Green line; and at midday, 
March 22, Vermand was lost, and the foe pressed westwaraa 
towards the Green Line ofbhoot at Poeuilly, outflanking Maxse 
and Watts. 

Daly,* who began the battle weak in numbers, was in 


line* with many men gassed, and the rest gripped bv that 
faiiffoe whieh fills the month with a saUva nke phlcjgm, 
trickles in oold sweat down the body, and eonfases the mind, 
while seeming to siTe to every limb and joint a rebellious 
wit of its own. ifiuathon runners are tortared by a similar 
fatigue, when the last three or four miles of open oountiy 
have to be covered somehow, anyhow. Dased men had 
siramled to the rear, where thejr were met and called together 
by Jmgadier Biddell of the liftidh, whose Northumberland 
Iiisiliem had reached the Oreen line oflhhoot^ between eight 
and nine of the morning, March 22. 

5. Another division of Watts*s Corps, Neill Malcolm's,* 
also weak in numbers when the battle began, was losing too 
many men in a noble fi^t aoainst Manrite; and Hutier's 
right pressed dangerously on (x^ Mackenae's left,t owing 
to the breach at Maissemy • 

4. The Fiftieth (Nobth Enoush) Divisiok, after a tiring 
oumey by night, reached the battle without its artillery and 
machme-tfuns, which were coming by road. 

6. It had only two brigades wmg the Oreen lane o£Bdioot 
between Bemes and a point near Yul^v^ue— a twisting line 
difficult to measure, but certunly more than 8000 yards; and 
both brigades were so overstretched that their power of 
eounter-cStack was greatly weakened. Biddell's brigade had 
to guard five thouMnd yaids of line with three battalions 
about 1800 men, and a reserve of 800 strap^lers from Dalv's 
fronts whom he had brought top^ther during the day, ana a 
part of whom he fed in the evemng. 

Haig relates how, on March 22, as the day wore on, the 
great concentratioo of German troops attacking west of St 
Quentin, accompanied by untoward events north in the battle 
against Marwits, had produced a very bad crisia During the 
early afternoon our men east of Holnon Wood were forced to 
withdraw from their battle-sone trenches ; while the Fiftieth, 
after rroulsing heavy attacks throughout the morning, wero 
attackea apain during the afternoon and evening and com- 
nelled to give ground. Troops frmn the batUe aone, fighting 
fiercely sad continnouslv, fell back through the Twentieth 
and Fiftieth holding the third deftuosive sone between 
Hi^peneourt, Vill^vlque, and Boudy, in the hope of re» 
oiganiainff behind them. . . • By 5.S0 p.m. the enemy had 
reached the third zone at different points, and was attacking 
the Fiftieth heavily between ViUiv^ue and Boudy. This 
• Th« Siaeiihmtik, f The 9kU/^pni Drniios. 


was a huge span of front for a single division to hold, Boudy 
being a crowVflight of 5000 yards from Bemes, and the 
trench had many bends and earves. O.H.Q. estimaies the 
FiftieOCs front as some 10,600 yards, bat even a straight line 
across country between Bonciy and Vill^v^ne measures 
11,000, and the trench line was certainly 3000 yaids more in 
its bends and curves. Hence the Fiftim waa greatly handi- 

The dispatch says : — 

*' Thou^ holding an extended front of some 10,500 jrards, 
the division succeeded in checking the enemy's advance, and 
by a successful counter-attack drove him temporarily from 
the viUage of Gaulaincourt At the close of the engagement, 
however, the troops of the FifUelk about Posuilly luid been 
forced back, and by continued pressure along the south bank 
of the Omiffnon iUver the enemy had opened a gap between 
their right lank and the troops of the Siooiy^first . • . • and 
of the Twentieth farther soutL At this gap, during the 
late afternoon and evening, strong bodies of Qerman troops 
broke through the third defensive ssone about Vaux and 

In this quotation there is some misunderstanding. As a 
matter of fact, Pceuilly was not lost by Biddell's NorOiumber- 
land Fusiliers ; it was held till the oraer to retire came ; but 
the Green line oflbhoot east of Caulaincourt was badly 
breached. Though their right was driven in west of this line, 
the Northumbrians at nightfall were commanding Caulaincourt 
from a strong position well dug in. Here they remained until 
four a.m. on March 23, when they were ordered to retire in 
conjunction with the forces north and south. 

Indeed, three divisions — ^the Fiftiefh, Tftentieih, and 
jPMrfy-niiUA— covered the withdrawal of those troops who 
were most exhausted by fighting and fatigue. Two or three 
divisions had little fight left in them, so spent were they, so 
parched by thirst^t ftnd dased with want of sleep. The foe 
pressed the withdrawal, and Gough had thrown into the fight 
all his reserves. As yet no further support was within reach 
of the fighting, apart from a gunless French division and 
some French cavalry in the souiS, just arrived. 

 Vol. ii., p. IM. 

t ITha oounl^ In the gtmt bend of 'tiie Sooune is very ^ratedeBs, end our 
troops suffered grieroosly from thirst. Later the small spring in Berlenx 
Wood was a great refreshment to Maloohn's men, and- to other divisions, the 
Eighth and Tkirty-mfUh. 


And it is worth noting that this gonlesB French diviaion. 
the Hwndrei cmd Tweniy^Afih^ after maitshing fiur and very 
bet, ISuled, deepite a very brave grapple, to aeliieve eacoeee 
ki a eoonter^ktUek, beoanee it be(»me short of lifle ammuni- 
tion. The eoonter-attaek began at six in the morning of the 
third day ; its aim was to regain the Orosat Osnal between 
Vonel and Tergnier; and trex^ of onr Eighteen^ took part 
in it also. There was a mist, and the French sddiers did not 
know the groond. In these very tnring cireamstances, a 
British offieer, Colonel Bnshill, displayM fine leadership. 
Taking charge of the French lc»ft as well as of his own two 
oompanieSy m led the attack on, into an intense machine-gun 
fire, and, though severely woimded in the head, rallied nis 
troops sflain and again.* little proffress ooold be made, but 
BosheUkept the line firm tiU noon, mien he and others learnt 
from events that the ooanter«ttaek was f atila French 
troops in large numbers came streaming back from VoneL 
They had be^ heavily attacked, and their ammunition had 
become too scarce. On the third day, then, effective help 
from our Allies could not possibly be expected, above all east 
of the Somme. 

What was to be done? A fiJse move now would give 
both Hutier and Marwitz a decisive opportunity. Th^ bad 
numbers enough to annihilate if the overstrained British 
would stand to fight it out at all costs, instead of withdrawing 
at the right moment, as Jimmy Wilde would withdraw if he 
were attacked by Oarpentier. 

Would a stand be made at all costs along the bridgehead 
pooitions f The temptation must have been very great, and 
lor many reasons. After much fttigue from long delaying 
aetions» there comes to most men a burning desire to reach a 
demsicin one way or other. *' Let's kill ana win, or be killed 
and beaten! To hell with this retreating!'' Here is the 
final lallv of a true fighting temper. In a Waterloo its 
gratification Ui pretty weU miraculous ; in the Second Sonmie 
batUe would it not have been as &tal as suicide, and as 

Haig^s answer is memorable : — 

**B(^rts that the enemy had forced the line of the Crozat 
Canal, combined with the loss of the Vauz-Poeuilly positions, 
and information obtained by the Air Service that tiie German 
front as far back as Mont d*Origny was packed with 

^ Ahm fonnlag s ifteady front Bmhsll wont to ths tmx to inska a rtporl 
sod to hsTe hii hcsd bsndagod; Umd ha went baok to the flxliig lino. 


advancing troop, led the Fifth Abxt Comnuuider to recon- 
sider hifl decision to offer battle a&eah east of the Sonune. 
Considering that if involved in a general engagement his 
tired troops might be exposed to a decisive defeat oefore help 
could arrive, and that the situation might then be exploited 
by the enemy to a disastrous extent, he decided to ccmtinue 
the withdrawal at once to the west bank of the Somme. 

'* On the morning of the 23rd March* therefore, confirming 
instructions previously given by telephone, orders were issued 
by the Fifth Army to we 19th Corps to cany out a gradual 
witiidrawal to the line of the Somme. The 7th Ooips was 
directed to conform to this movement, and to take up a 
position on the general line Doingt-Nurlu. 

"This order involved the Abandonment of the main 
F^ronne bridgehead position. It greatly shortened the time 
available for dearing our tnx^ and removable material from 
the east bank of the river, for completing the necessary final 
preparations for the destruction of the river and canal bridges, 
for re-forming west of the river the divisions which bad 
suffered most in the previous fighting, and generally for 
securing the adequate defence of the river line." 

These consequences of a withdrawal were quite clear to 
Qough and his officers ; but, of course, material consequences 
have to be viewed in war side by side with the physical state 
of battle-worn troops. Earlier we have seen (p. 36) Haig's 
remark that " the forces at the disposal of the Fifth Ajbmy 
were inadequate to meet and hold an attack in such strength 
as that actually delivered by the enemy on its front.*' This 
being true when the battle began, it was more tragically true 
three days later, after very severe losses and alon^ a wider 
front. Tet the dispatch speaks of some divisions bemg rested 
and refitted west of the Sonmiei while other divisions, almost 
as fagged out by overstrain, do the work of both east of the 
river. How much more could be expected from an army 
urgently in need of large reinforcements from the first hours 
of attack ? 

There are critics who declare that Goi:^h's men were in a 
less bad state to fight than to retreat. In <me sense this 
criticism is true, beoiuse the duty of retreating at the rig^t 
time is hateful, unless it is regarded with pnde as a duty. 
Many of Wellington's veterans behaved badly in retreats, 
and so did Moore's army on its way to Corunnay till it was 
called upon to fight, when it proved that the exhilaration of 
battle was a strong tonic after the weariness of forced 


marches. As a rale, it is easier to fiff ht than to retreat under 
pressure. Bat let ns suppose that Gongh had kept his tired 
men too long at dose quarters against superior numbers. 
Osn any sane person suppose that our Fdth Abmt could 
have home without breasing heavier losses than those that 
tote its ranks from da^ to day ? 

That Qough was right when he declined to take dedsive 
risks east of the Somme is proved by a single fiMSt, namely* 
that when an increasing num oer of Firench troops joined our 
defence west of ihs 8omme^ they were driven back to Noyon 
and Montdidier. So vast was the German pressure, that 
even laise additions of strength in the defence could not 
give stability to the ^hting front. If Gough, without re- 
inforcements, had oontmued to face this pressure wi A his 
bade to the Somme, would he not have enabled Hutier and 
Marwits to adiieve their aims ? 

Few men understand, said Napoleon, the strength of will 
reauired by a Commander-in-Ohief when he risks the 
existence of his army and of his nation in a batUe which, 
in the nature of thinn, is always uncertain. True, no doubt ; 
but an eaual strength of will — ^if not a greater strength — ^is 
needed when a commander, in the heat and stress of a vast 
battle, makes a ri^t decision plainly so unattractive that it 
18 bound to be misunderstood and hated by those who are 
far off from the atmosphere and pathology of the fighting 

Many persons talk as thouffh Gough's few divisions should 
have been compoeed — ^not of flesh and blood in a high fever 
of overstrained battle-passion, but— of bullet-pnxn sted; 
should have been as inanimate as tanks, and able to bear 
through days and nights, without rest, unlimited iatigue. 

Then there is the truth that official accounts do not reach 
logic and history because they suppress facts which officers in 
the field are obliged to weigh ana measure before they make 
deduoos. To sup pr es s certain facts may seem to be patriotic, 
but in major battles, as in written tragedies, cause and effect 
are so ra^d and so cumulative in action and reaction, that 
the omission of governing fiicts must always be wrong and 
on&ir. As well ddete the handkerchief mm OOiMot It 
jQia omit a fiMst in order to save the fedinfls of A and B and 
C, yon are certain to be uigust to D and tt and F. 

Everything that a commander in the fidd must weigh 
and measure ought to be stated plainly in an account of me 
dedaioBSL When fibote ftre omitted in a pubUdied verdict 


ooniroversy is inyited, a painful thing when a war is one of 
life or death. 

In a war of life or death, moreover, when hundreds of 
thousands perish, a single life or a single name has no more 
worth than that which truth gives to it ; so truth alone has 
public or historical value. 

Gough and his CJommanders were obliged to consider 
other losses besides killed, wounded, and missing. Handfuls 
of their men here and there, finding the ocdeal too relenUess 
for their physical and moral stamina, gave in; but their 
behaviour was much better that that of many among 
Wellington's troops in the ahnost mild retreat to Torres 
Yedras. Still, those who broke, and straggled fiur out of the 
grapple, are to be placed amon^ the losses. And we must 
remember the sick. In one Osirps, for example^ between 
March 21 and April 1, 47 officers and 12fiO men were put out 
of action by sickness. In the first four days 14 officers and 
348 men were out of action from illness; and by March 25 
most of the forty battalions in this Corps were reduced by 
leases to an average of only 200 men in each, for the nioneer 
battalions had fought and had suffered casualties witu their 
comrades. I am speaking of the 18th CrOips. On the night 
of the third day its casualties were estimated as about 392 
officers and about 11,681 other ranks, or thereabouts. 

Siaely-fifrst Division, 121 officers, 3282 other ranks. 

TkvrtMai, 132 officers, 4300 other ranks. 

Thirty-Bixth^ 87 officers, 2515 other ranks. 

TwefniieOiy 52 officers, 1634 other ranks. 

How can official accounts of a battle be truthful when facts 
of this sort are left out ? 

Civilians have a hazy notion about the normal strength of 
a division; and when, in official dispatches, a divisiooi is 
mentioned fix>m day to day, without any reference to its 
daily losses, a false impression is made on civilian minds, who 
forget that divisions do not disappear with their men, but keep 
their full rank as divisions, however wasted they may be by 
losses. Yet the dispatch in even its republished form has no 
footnotes on the casualties. German losses are refeired to 
again and again, even in a new footnote (p. 189), while the 
witish, though the most important to us all, are passed over 
in silence. So readers are kept in the dark coneerning a 
factor which rules through a retreat over defensive general- 
iihip. Could anything be more at variaooe with the needs of 


Cooaider the men who were q>ent and who steaggled 
ihiongh sheer numb &iigae. Every corps had sufferers of 
this sort, hundreds of them, in fiiet ; so an increasing re- 
sponsibility weld^ed on those men who were physically tougher 
and stronger. The survival of the fittest to bear overstram is 
never more active than in long fights against long odds. 

We have seen, too, in Haig^s wor£k not only that "* the 
strennooB efforts made by the Sritish forces daring 1917 had 
left the Army at a low ebb in regard both to traimng and to 
numbersy'* bat also that lack of men had prevented enough 
training--eacoept with pick and spade and wira Now in a 
retreat, after a long winter spell of trench warfSurCi all defects 
of training diow themselves inevitably, above all when 
exhaustion drugs the mind with poisoned blood, and when a 
gyeatmanyexperienced junior oflKcers and non^-coma have been 
either killed or wounded or captured. Only an army that is 
war*w]se in open warfiure chooses unerringly the best positions 
from which to fight in delaying actions, and displays in full 
tactical measure the value oi itocouxage and tenacity. When 
troope are young and jaded, and raw in <^>en warfare, are they 

not certain to miss many opportunities, and in modem battles 
moce than in the old ^nts, owing to the great width of battle- 
front and to the disorcteiing effects of gaps and set*backs on 
other sectors 7 

Plainly, then, readers must leani to see war under the form 
of visual conception : in pictures dear to the mind. Gough 
had to flee facts trul^ ana fiilly, and to act at given moments 
in a way which, in ma firm bcttraf, was the safest defence — ^not 
for an ideal conception of his army, bui---for his army as it was 
in plain troth day after day. The pith and marrow of his 
f o r e eo die-hards and the gEtjat body of men who were soldiers 
of firm duty rather than sddiers bocn — ^were wasting through 
heavy cawialties ; and many of them, as the battle went on 
and on, hobUed like sleep-walkers, whose legs were stiflbned 
very much by rheumatism. 

f m 

Bot, after all« critioisnis published on the fall of Pfomne 
have bad one very useful effect ; inviting stadents here and 
there to review the whole drama as thoroughly as they can, 
and to use their own minds without excessive fear of authority. 
In flo doing, they cannot help wondering why there should 
have been so much talk about the fall of rironne and none at 


all about the loss of Bapatune— a strategical centre not only as 
important to Byng as P^ronne was to Gbuffli, bat also, 
probably, of more importance to the general defence, because 
its position was to tne north-toes^ ox F£ronne and not only 
nearer to the coast, but also convenient for a rapid flanking 
advance on Albert. 

Even Haig has been inadvertent, passing over the fidl of 
Bapaume so swiftly and vagaely that many readers do not 
notice what the phrasing means : — 

'' Before midnight (March 24) the troops of the 4th Corps, 
who had carried out their withdrawal by stages in the bee of 
constant attacks, were established on the fine assigned to 
them west of Bapaume, between La Barque and ErviOers." * 

Not a word more ! 

When Bapaume fell, ** touch between the several divisions 
of the 5th Corps, and between the 6th and 4th Corps, was not 
properly established." Now both these Corps belonged to the 
Third Abkt, and the quotation means that the Third Ahxt's 
centre was broken, and that otiier jzaps had formed between 
the divisions of 5th Corps. These mishaps were not 
ameliorated for about eight and forty hours. Yet there is no 
criticism in O.H.Q.'s dispatch, though a paragraph is ^ven to 
the loss of P^ronne. I am very puzzled Are we to suppose 
that the pr^is-writers at O.H.Q. were more genial to Byng than 
to Gough ? Why criticize the under-manned army while 
leaving the far stronger one free from criticiBm? Surely 
students have a patriotic ri^ht to complain when they are 
put in a false position towards two British armies ? 

Turn to the map, and draw two horizontal lines^ one from 
Bapaume to the far end of Flesqui^res salient, and one from 
P^nne to the east of Le Yerguier. The first line is about 
23,600 yards and the second about 21,600. Now, on the 
evening of the fourth day, Byng's troops were struggling hard 
on the eastern outskirts of napaume, and by midnight they 
were obliged to Ml back behmd the town. On the same 
evening Cough's troops were still behind the Somme along the 
P&onne sector. Next day, between dawn and night&ll, 
Byng^s men west of Bapaume retired to Miraumont, about 
7600 yards, while Qough s troops behind P6ronne fell back in 
the evening to Herb^urt sector, only about 6600 yards. 

What cU) these matters prove ? Surely this: thataretreat 
is in the nature of war when asuperior force strikes an inferior 
one at the right places and upsets the balance of its deftnce. 

• Vol tt., p. 900. 


So I rejoice that Watte's Corpsjust in time, got some restorative 
rest benind the caoaliced Somiiie» and that other troops also 
Mined their long second breath with this river before them. 
In war minutes should be deemed as valuable as hours, and 
hours as days, and days as months, and months as years ; and 
thus the gain of time behind the shallow Somme was an 
inestimable boon to the Allied Cause, whose reinforcements 
had nearly always fiur to come, and arrived too often without 
artillery and other necessaries, and sometimes in battalions of 
different brigades, like our Thirtji-jiffk Division. 





ON Monday, March 26, all Fifth Army troops north 
of the Somme passed from Gough to Byng, Why ? 
"What -was the motiTe power oehind tms act of 
swopping horses in midstream ? 

No explanation of any sort is given by the official 
dispatch, which, indeed, gudes over it swiftly, and evoQ 
indirectly: — 

^It became dear that the Third Arut, which on this day 
had assumed command of all troops north of the Somme, would 
have to continue the withdrawal of its centre to the line of 
the Biver Ancre, already crossed by certain of our troops near 
Beaucourt " (about six miles north of Albert).^ 

Not a word more. Students are left in the dark as to 
which divisions were taken from Gough and given toByng ; and 
as for the differing effects of this policy on both armies, they are 
passed over in silence, though i>olicy in war is tested always 
Dy its results, not by good intentions nor by later explanations. 

Sir F. Maurice says : — 

** It was dear that the main object of the Germans was 
to reach Amiens and that the weijB^ht of their attack was 
falling upon the Fifth Armt. So, in order to allow Gough 
to devote his whole attention to the enemy advancing south 
of the river. Sir Douglas Haig placed that portion of the 
Fifth Army which was north of the Somme under Byng, and 
it then became a part of the Third Armt." 

This explanation is genial, but, for a convincing reason, 
it cannot be accepted as correct. On the same day, south of 
the Somme, an event occurred which thrust so many d^w- 
backs on Gough and his officers that they could not possibly 
devote their whole attention v/nMndered to the German odds. 
Though French reinforcements were still weak in numbers 

• VoL u., p. soe. 



and 80 ill-anned that they ooold not do jostioe to their fine 
qnalitiee, yet they were ordered, as we learn from Hug, " to 
aanune xeeponaibility for the whole battle front south of the 
Somme, with general control of the British troops operating 
in that seetor. Strange, indeed ; for Haig tells ns luso that 
"soms days had yet to jmiss before the frtnjck cofuJd bring up 
euffiaimt ttrengA to arreet the enemy's progress.*' Am a 
msMer of &et^ in the huge oentral battle, north and south of 
the highway to Amiens, the whole defence remained in 
British liands ; and southward, where the French were active, 
with six ill-equipped divisions, by about nightfall of the fifth 
day, British troops formed the maia defence, except in a few 
sectora. Indeed, the attack had added to its odos as many 
reinforcements as the French had brought into the battle ; so 
Irtish guns of eveiy sort^ like British rifles and British 
generalship and tenacity, were as essential on the fifth* day 
as they were on the first Bemember, Hutier alone had ten, 
if not twelve, divisions in his reinforcements; and it was 
Hotier who assailed our 18th and 3rd Coips^ to whose relief 
French troops were hurried. 

Yetk somehow, anyhow, on this fifth day, Oough was 
thrust officially under French orders south of the Somme, 
thourii Foch liad not yet been appointed to Suj^reme Oom- 
mana; and north of the Somme he was deprived of all 
authorii^. He and his officers and men were slighted and 
shackled, though they had still to go on proving that bad 
stateflmanship in the Allied Councils could not ruin the Allied 
Cs«sa In a later chapter these matters will be considered 
fully. At present the main point is that Sir F. Maurice has 
not expkdned the transfer of Ckmgreve, with the bulk of 
7th Corps, from Gough to Bvng. Political interference, 
IVenoh and British, was busyt ooing harm through fiaar ; but 
as O.H.Q. made no protest at pmsent known to us, we cannot 
at p r e s e nt free our Commander-in-Chief from all responsibility. 
Borne laymen of influence believe— and in a democracy dl 
dronlating opinions count till thejr are refuted — ^that Lord 
Milner &fled entirely to see the nobilitv of the work achieved 
by the Fifth Abut, and was not its mend either during or 
after its ordeaL In March, 1918, and afterwards, he was 
certainly a great influence, representing the British Qovem« 
ment at the DouUens Conference on tne 26th of March, for 
example; but, after all, wrong political actions in a time of 
war diould be attributed, not to any one man, but to the 
whole War GabineL 


Some military experts aiBrm that — 

" Congreye went under Byng for the good and saffieient 
reason tluit his line of retreat t^k him north of the Somme, 
and it was desirable to have the river as a flank guard of the 
force operating there.*' 

This affirmation is unconvincing because Congreve's retreat 
did not take him entirely north of the Somma We have 
seen, indeed, that already the remains of two of his divisions, 
the SiateeTM, and Tkvrty-ninih, had crossed the river to the 
south bank (p. 115) ; and others would have crossed at Bray- 
sur-Somme if Byng had been able with his own troops to 
follow the army boundary from Montauban down to Bray — 
a steep run south-west by which a narrow one-division front 
was formed immediately east of Bray and in Gouffh's land. 
Oongreve could have held this riverside front wiuL Hunt's 
Force and a reserve, while the rest of his troops — ^the First 
Cavalry, the Thvrty-fifth, and remnants of the Nim4h and 
TwertUy-firsA^ would have followed the Sixteenth and Thirty' 
nimih into the great centre battle. Bray, then, was the place 
at which Byng could have taken command of all land north 
of the Somme without harming the Fifth Armt'b fighting 

j&|;ain, what sort of flank guard would the river be if the 
defence on one side fell back more rapidly than that on the 
other, uncovering the other's flank and rear ? In this matter 
the troops on both riverside fronts had to guard each othei^s 
rear, knowing that the Somme could be turned by the foe 
into a passage way; and no impartial mind after studying 
this battle can settle down in the belief that land north 
of the Somme would be safer under Byng than under 
Gough. If Gough's decisions had not been right, Luden- 
dorn^s aims would certainly have been made real during 
the first four days, so excellent were the German plans, 
and so well trained were the odds — ^more than three to 
one — ^which tried to annihilate a thin defence increasingly 
overstretched. Further, if Gough's orders had not been 
translated into effectual action by his officmi and troops, 
all along a fortv-two miles front which became wider 
and wider, complete disaster would have been inevitable. 
Besults are facts in essence, and therefore too strong for a 
great many persons. In this battle results depended on three 
things : swirt and sufficient achievement by the attack, swift 
and sufficient reinforcement W the defence, and such 
generalship and tenacity in the Fibth Abmy as would ravage 


and baffle the attack till enough reserves had oome into line. 
We have seen how slowly the resenres came up ; and Haig 
assures us (voL iL, p. 205) that on the fifth day ** the whole 
of the troops holding the BritLsh line south of the Somme 
were now greatly exhausted, and the absence of reserves 
behind them gave ground for considerable anxiety." And 
now we must recall to memoiy another fsick, namely, that 
Gough would have had thirty divisions if his front had 
possessed the same man-power per mile as Byng^s. Why, 
then, was ^vng reinforced with Fifth Abmy troops ? 

Only a ^w hours after this event happened — ^by 1.45 on 
March 26— Cough's H.Q. Staff was warned by the Third Abmy 
that Byng's centre would fall back by night behind the Ancre, 
and tbit Congreve's troops would hold from Albert to Bray 
inclusive. In this fisust we draw dose to the best military reason 
that could govern the transfer from the Thibd Abmt's 
standpoint It is a £Mt with two meanings : — 

1. The Thibd Abmt, owing to its broken centre, between 
4th and 5th Corps^ and to gqps between the divisions of 5th 
CSorps, intended to use troops from the Futh Abky to form 
its right wing on its own scm. 

2. The night retreat would uncover about six miles behind 
Gough's left^ as we have seen in an earlier chapter (p. 118). 

At this point several queetiona arise : ''Was G.H.Q. aware 
of these two meanings when it either sanctioned or initiated 
the trsnsfer of Qou^'s troops to Byng ? Did it know that 
these troops in a few hours would be a reinforcement on the 
Thibd Abmt's own flnound? And did it wonder by what 
means Qough and Watts could guard about six uncovered 
miles of riverside? If so, why are these important affiurs 
omitted fit>m the dispatch I ^ 

Beinfordng the Thibd Abmt was amon^ the great deeds 
done by the IlRH, and a very unfsir thinff is plainly implied 
when it is passed over in silence by offlciiu pnnt and speech. 
This unfair thing is that Gough*s judgment was distrusted 
justly by G.ELQ. as b^ other powers when his northern Cons 
(less two remnant divisions^ but lust strengthened by the 
Thirty-Jifth), was suddenly taken nom him and placed under 
the Thibd Abmt. 

The dispatch is dated July 20, 1918, and for three months 
the Oovemment feared to publish its criticisms. Consider 
all the slander that poured over the Fdth Abut between 
March 21 and October 21, and all the official injustice that 
accompanied the defaming rumours which were noised abroad 


by the common crowd. In these circomstanees, then, should 
we not believe tiiat complete candour from all officiab. both 
lay and military, would have been good for the whole nation — 
both good and necessary ? 

There was no need to hide the presence of Fifth ABmr 
troops along about 8000 or 9000 yards of Byng^s riffht wing ; no 
need, that 1 can see, for the dispatch shows plaiiS^ what was 
happening in 4th and Sth Corps, and as soon as the foe 
readied the Hibuteme sector, and occupied HA)ateme 
cemetery with machine-guns, the Ancre line was badly out- 
flanked from the north-west, and the presence of this great 
menace justified the use of any essential reinforcements 
which would ease the danger. 

Congreve's troops were very conveniently placed ; and to 
set them to hold &t)m 8000 to 9000 jrards of the Sth Corps* 
front was to free this Corps for other necessary work. It would 
fill the gaps between its divisions by closing up to the north, 
and would collect nearly all its tired strengUi north of Albwt 
If these reasons directed the transfer^ no doubt the use of 
Fifth Army troops on the Third's own land was justified in 
so far as it concerns the northern battle ; but when we look 
south of the Somme, and recall to memory the centre fighting 
north and south of Vermand-Amiens road, how can we fi^ 
to see that Oough's left south of the river was injured and 
imperilled ? It needed those troops from C(»a^ve's Corps 
who would have crossed the Somme at Bray if Sth Corps, 
TmBD Army, had been able to keep to its soutnem boundary. 

G.H.Q. had no troops to send tnere (apart from Heneker's 
division, which was south of Amiens road); and if on the 
fifth day enough reinforcements had mended the Third 
Armt's broken centre, and had strengthened the Sth Corps' left, 
then Sth Corps could have closed down south towards the 
Army boundary — and also, I assume, towards a base, chosen 
to serve its southern brigades. For the boundary between 
Gough and Byng was not altered a month before the l»ttle 
merely in order to keep map-makers busy. It entered at 
once into the administration of both armiea 

One point more. All students of war know that an 
important river or valley forms tactioaJly one of the most 
dangerous boundaries between allied armies. Yet the Somme 
was chosen as a convenient dividing line, up to which the 
French responsibility was to come after the whole Fifth 
Army had been relieved " according to plan.** On March 2S, 
the French were by no means fit to undertake this 


resDODflifaility. Britiah troopB in a number £ur too small had 
to Daffle the foe in the neat central conflict; and hence the 
sodden transfer of Gongns troops to Byng cannot be explained 
or ezcosed b^ saving: "It helped the French to take oyer the 
eenlcal fightinff. 

I should like to be aUe to believe that Authority had no 
other idea than the swift rdnforoement of the northern 
defence when it put Oongreve under the Third Ashy, for 
no other motive seems Sk all reasonabla But we must 
remember some other things. One of them is the terrific 
strain which pressed by day and ni^t on G.H.Q^ as on all 
oflieers governing the defence ; and, again, we must never 
forget that Supreme Authority collectM wrong notions from 
the impeifect reports mingled with thronging rumours which 
came unceasingliy from so manv miles <u moving frontb 
Among these wrong notions was the belief -—or let us say the 
assumption — ^that grave mishans in Byng's right were caused 
by Gknigh's left Or, to use tne everyday phrase, that '* the 
Byng boys had been let down by Gough's men.'* Soon after 
the battle, in a scurried speech before the House of Commons, 
the Prime MiniBter showed that he did not understand the 
battle because his military advisers had put wrong notions 
into his mind. 

General Sir John Monash has shown veiy clearly, in his 
book on *' Australian Victories in France in 1918,** how 
prevalent these wrong notions wer^ his own conception 
of the battle being completely out of focus and perspective. 
GonsidBr this amaiing passage on the position of amirs at 

I. on liareh 27. The 

about one am. on Marai 27. The italics are mine: **! 
gleaned fbrther that the 7th Corps was now the south flank 
Corps of the Thibd Abmt, amkd that aa the Frrm Abmt, $outk 
€fikeScfmm$f had practically melted away, while the French 
were retiring south-westerly and leawng OfVi AouWy tn- 
creoBvna gap Idween their north flank atid the Somme, 
Oenerai Syng had reeolved to make every effort not only to 
maintain the flank of hie Thibd Abmt on Ike Somme, but 
aleo to prevent it being twmed from ihe eouth, while the 
Commander-in-Chief was taking other measures to attempt 
next day to fill the gap above almded to.** * 

It would have been eaqr for General Monash to study the 
battle as a whole before be wrote the opening pues of his 
book. There was no need tot him to repeat in a book, long 
afterwards^ the absurdly inaccurate views which he formed 

• •• AttftltmUaa Ylotekt la Wnaoe in ma»*' p. S7. 


while his reserve troops were being ordered here and there, as 
though Authority wavered a great deal in its attitude towuds 
the use of its reinforcements. As Greneral Monash knew that 
" the 7th Corps was now the south flank Corps of the Third 
Abmt/' he ouffht also to have known that Gough's left had 
just reinforced Byng's right ; and he could have leamt with- 
out difficulty that on two successive days— March 25 and 
26 — Third Army orders had uncovered Qough*s rear south of 
the Somme. This was the only gap in the central batUe» and 
General Monash would have been mterested to see how good 
fighting and sound generalship saved a very bad situation. 
How very ingenuous is the statement that '^ Qeneral Byng 
had resolved to make every effort not only to maintain the 
flank of his Third Army on the Somme, but also to prevent 
it being turned from the south ? " Would that General Byng 
had been able with his own troops to keep to his southern 
boundary ! Then the battle would have been very different. 
Still, General Monash's misconceptions enable us to guess why 
Mr. Hamilton Fyfe tried in vain to publish refutations of 
wild rumours, which had been accepted as true by too many 
persons in high stations. 

Though these and other misconceptions are absurd, yet, as 
elements of a battle's history, they are things to be looked at 
quietly. During a veir perilous retreat it may have been 
quite natural to think that the much weaker anny on 
tne much broader front would make more mistakes or be 
more unlucky than the Third Army, which G.H.Q. had 
strengthened with the greatest care as it expected the main 
German blow to fall between Senste River aad the north 
base-angle of Flesquitoes salient. As a rule, too, those who 
are onlookers are apt to feel perilous events more nervously 
than those who are inside the perils and thus too occupied for 
brooding fear and speculation. 

We may assume, then, without any sreat extravagance 
that Authority, certainly overstrained, and certainly eager to 
improve a huge crios, may have hoped to strengthen the 
defence partly by giving Byng a wider front, partly by giving 
Gough less to do. But misonderstandings, which may be 
natural when immense battles are being fought idong a vast 
and continuous line, should be corrected at the earliest 
possible date and in the plainest words. Theoffidal dispatch 
IS often vague when it should be definite, and by ill-fortune 
these VBtfue passages do not help the people to understand the 
loyal aid given by the Fifth Army to the Third. On the 


oontruy, a cynic miffht snggCBt, giving reasons, that facts are 
being bidden officially because they throw too much light on 
the Thibd Aemy's troubles. To lay stress on Uie fall of 
P^ronne, for instancOi while gliding swiftly over the fall of 
Bapaume, was, as we have seen, a Uunder by which students 
would be provoked into search and research.^ 

* G«nenl MonMh points out that hia diviikm oa Mtfoh S9 reoeiTed 
orden '* to moT« east, tii«t Is, bttokinto Flftiid6n,M[idnottoath totho Somins 
TallBT, M sll hftd hoped* The pzworibad mov« duly ttftrtad, bat by ICftrohM, 
had been Mzettad, lor 00dm had oomo to ommoI the more «nd await fresh 
orders. . . . Later came detailed Instraotions that the division was to be 
traosferred from the Anstralian Ooips to the 10th Corps, which latter was to 
he O.H.Q. Bsserre, and that the whole division was to be moved the next 
night to the Doollens area, the dismoonted troops bj rail, and the artillery 
and other mounted units by route-march.** Now Donllens was the best 
place from which Byng could be reinforced either at Albert or at Arras. And 
noie, too, how time was wasted in the handling of these inTaluaUe Australian 
lesaryes wasted by the BJghsr fkwninand, though from midday on the Slst 
the position was critical along seTeral spans of a battle-front perilously in need 
of men. 



THIS dramatic episode belongs to the transfer of 
Gough's 7th Corps to Byi^*s right wing, and its 
origin is a very aelicate thmg to write about It 
occurred at a time when the crisis in the Thibd 
Abht north of the Sotome was nearing its culminating point 
with fortune strongly on the Oerman side. 

In crises of this tenseness telephoned or spoken orders 
cannot always be put afterwards in a written or typed form, 
in accordance with routine, because the pressure of work 
is determined by the foe's movements ; and a military order 
coming from a mind abnormally active may have only a slight 
effect on Uiat mind's memory. There can be no doubt that 
Wellington's memory was not clear on several points in the 
battle of Waterloo ; and some failure of memory occurred, I 
believe, in several minds^ during and after the origin of 
the C6risy episode. Here is an example from the official 
dispatch : — 

" Farther south, the Bray-sur-Somme- Albert line had been 
taken up successfully on the night of March 25-26 \bv troops 
moved into Third Army land from Oough's left], and fighting 
of a minor character occurred during the momii^, particularly 
at M6aulte, where troops of the NiifUk Division ^removed from 
Oovph*8 left flank] beat off a strong attack [ahoutfour miles 
inside Byng*s right wmgl. Owing, however, to a misunder- 
standing, the Bray-sur-Somme-Alb^ line was regarded by tiie 
local commander as being merely a stage in a further retumnent 
to the line of the Ancre, south of Albert Accordingly, on the 
id!temoon and evening of the 26th March, the withcuawal was 
continued, and when the higher command became aware of 
the situation the movement had already proceeded too far for 
our former positions to be re-established.' * 

As a matter of fact, there was no misunderstanding. 
The Bray-Albert line was "merely a stage in a further 

• Yd. li., pp. aoT-aoe. 



retirement to the line of the Anere, south of AlberL" As 
sneh it is stated to be in Thibb Abict instructions, and 
better instrootions ooold not have been given at the time 
when thev were issued. Much later tiiey were changed, and 
ehansed because the perilous position north and north-west 
of Albert had improved ; but when the altered orders arrived, 
troops at Bray and north-west of this town had be^run under 
ordexs to obey the earlier instructions, as they had a much 
greater distance to march before they reached the Ancre and 
its very difficult crossingB over long bridges. Let us then con- 
sider a brief and true time-table side by side with the 
military events by which the first instructions were made 

1. By 1.46 p.nL on Monday, March 26, Gou^ received a 

message through bis Staff from the Third Abut 
that Byng's troops were fiilling back b^ night 
behind the Ancre, and that Congreve with his Corps 
would hold firom Albert to Bray inclusive. 

2. On the same day, at about seven p.m., the units of Con* 

greve's troops received a Corps warning by telephone 
that another withdrawal would occupy the night; 
and at 8.46 jp.m. orders were received to tail bacK to 
the line of^ the Bray-Albert road, rearguards to 
remain in position till two am. These were Third 
Abmt orders transmitted through Congreve and his 
Staff Take their effect on me Ninth Division. 
Highlanders were ordered to Dornancourt-sur-Ancre, 
and the thin South African battalion to Bibemont* 
sur-Anere, while tiie Lowlanders were to hold from 
east of Mteulte to Albert exclusively. This in- 
formation diows that the NvrUh'i fighting front was 
for rearguard purposes. 
8. At 2.16 ajn. on March 26, the Corps confirmed this 
order and issued full ^dance to its divisional 
commanders, the chief pomt being that they were to 
fight on the Albert^Bray line to delay the foe as long 
as poasihle, but without becoming so '' involved ** that 
they would be unable to break off and retire. 
Further, not only was the Bray- Albert line chosen 
for reaivuard defence, but the Ancre itself, south- 
west of Albert^ was to be regarded also as the 
provisional main defence; provisional, for until 
Djnff and G.H.Q. had learnt from events what 
would happen in the night, and on March 26, to the 


Thibd Abmt's broken centre and very distressed 
5th Corps, what line of defence south and sontii- 
west of Albert could be anything but provisional ? 
Prospects were somewhat brighter after dusk on the 2£th ; 
the foe was becoming tired, considerable reinforcements had 
reached Byng, and others were coming up rapidly, as the 
G.H.Q. dispatch narrate& But yet, unuickily, the crisis had 
not passed away, because there was a '' dangerous gap about 
Serre," in the H^buteme sector, and only twenty-two and 
three-quarter miles north-east from the centre of Amiens. As 
long as this gap existed, then, no line of defence below 
Albert could be chosen by a soldier's mind as one fit for a 
last stand north of the Somme ; and on March 26, during the 
morning, "the situation was not yet dear between Brunei 
and PuisiEux," * in the Serre-H^buteme neighbourhood. " A 
gap still existed in this area between 6th and 4th Corps 
tiirough which bodies of German in&ntry worked their way 
f orwara and occupied Golincamps with machine-guns.'' Now 
ColincampB is two and a half miles south-west of Hibuteme 
and it outflanks the northern Ancre at Hamel badly, Hamel 
being about three and a half miles to the south-east. At 
Colincamps, then, the attack was culminating. 

What happened afterwards? First of all the Sectmd 
Division sent forward ''a section of field artillery, which 
gallantly galloped into action and engamd them [the German 
machine-gunsj over open sights," and so silenced them.t 
Next, "early in the afternoon troops of the New Zealand 
Division, under Sir A. H. Russell, retook Colincainps, while a 
brigade of the Fowrth Austbauak Division, E. G. Sindair- 
Madagan commanding the Division, filled the cap between 
H^butome and Buequoy. In the fighting in wis area our 
light tanks came into action for we first time and did 
valuable service." Moreover, ** with the arrival of fresh troops, 
our line on this part of the front became stable, and all 
attempts made by the enemy during the [rest of the dayj to 
drive in our positions about Buequoy and to tiie north were 
repulsed with great loss." t 

Clearly, then, it was not till '^ early in the afternoon of 
March 26 '* that any change could be made in tiie pdicy that 

• " Hftlg'B Dispatohfls." I ha^ drawn a Bkefcoli map to ihow thainfliiaiioo 
of theea erents both on the Bray-Albert rearguard line and also on the river 
Ancre eottth-weet of Albert. 

t " Haig's DiBpatohee," tol. it., p. «7. 

I v^TS., p. aeir. 


governed the defence between Albert and the Somme, because 
a Qerman break-through south-west from the Serre-Ciolin- 
camps sector would have been disastrous to the whole Ancre 
line south-west of Albert So we return to the detailed 
instructions issued at 2.15 a.m. on the 26th. 

I note that when retirement from the rearguard Bray- 
Albert line became necessaiy, Congreve's troops were to cross 
the river Ancre and hold its northern bank as a rearguard 
position. After the crossing all bridges were to be blown up, 
and artillery would cover the crossing from the northern 
bank, heavy guns coming into position north of the Amiens- 
Albert road on a line named m the orders. Similarly, the 
span of riverside front to be held by each unit, as by Hadow's 
Force, was carefully noted in the orders. Thus the Thvrty- 
fifths the mainstay, whose O.O.C. had been pkced in conmiand 
of the Bray- Albert line, was told that its right must rest on 
Buire in touch with the TwmJbu-pjrBS b left, and its left on 
Demanoourt in touch with the Jnnt&'s right The Twenty- 
fifriBX% right was to rest on Bibemont, supported and covered 
by 2000 men under Hadow. As for the NirUVs le% it was 
to form liaison at the outskirts of Albert with Byng^s 5th 
Corps, which, but for its ill-fortune, would have needm none 
of tnese Fifth Abht troops, nor the Australians and New 
Zealanders at the other ena of its front. 

Every detul helps to prove that at 2.15 a.m. on March 26 
a retreat to and across the Ancre was the governing policy 
between Albert and the Somme. Hence rearguard actions 
must not prevent its frdfihnent by becoming too " involved," 
as soldiers say. But a change of policy took place, and in many 
quarters it is attributed to a decision made by Foch at Doullens 
on librch 26. Li these quarters it is believed that Foch 
asked why the Bray-Albert line was to be held temporarily ; 
that in his view it should be held with the utmost firmness. 
If this belief is accurate — ^and surely a Generalissimo has 
criticisms to offer — ^I assume that Foch expressed his judgment 
early in the fd!temoony after much better news had oome 
from Colincamps, Hjbuteme, and Bucquoy ; and certain it is 
that, shortly after three p.m., another policy was announced 
by telephone from Congreve's H.Q. 

" Army orders tiiat every effort must be made to chedc 
the enemy's advance by disputing ground. It is to be dis- 
tinctly understood that no retirement is to take place unless 
the tactical situation imperatively demands it" 

In the meantime many things had happened. Transport 


hftd been moved to and aeroes the Anore, and big guns also ; 
this movement had progreeeed very welL Bat the right of 
our line was in danger of being exposed, for troops in thb 
part» under Brigadier Headlam, haa about seven miles to 
mardi in retiring from Bray to Bibemont-snr^Anere, while 
north of them the line ran westward till it was dose to the 
river, with the result that the Ninth Division's small reserve 
was already behind the Anore. 

The southern troops at Bra]^ were a composite brigade of 
the 2VMn<y-)i^, and very overured (hi their left^ across the 
plateau, were two brigades of the ThiHy-fifth, and well 
tMhind them was the tiiird brigade guarding Morkneourt 
North-westward, covering M6a^te and Albert's southern 
flMik, were troops of the NiaUk DrvisiOM. Field artillery 
guarded the whole front, and well ahead of the line were out- 
posts disposed in depth.* 

If the northern part of this line went back too fast the 
southern would be left far in the south-east and exposed ; so 
a retirement in echelon would begin from the Bray end, and the 
aO*a of the ThMy-mh decided that it should begin at three 
p.iit, if no attack cleveloped« because a retreat after dark, 
with the business of evoesing the river by long bridflesi might 
get the right flank into very grave diflEiculties. T^e reserve 
fariffade at Morlancourt would hold its position to cover the 
wiudrawal, and then cross the river at ^uire. 

At three poa, then, the retirement began fii>m the right 
with the men disposed in depth, those nearest to Etinehem and 
Morlancourt being the first to move. It included the Twenty- 
firtt at Bray and the Thirty-fifth north-west of it. At the 
same time the G.O.C. received the new Army order — ^Uiat the 
Bray« Albert line was to be held. Haig says : '' By the time 
the withdrawal had been stopped, the right of the Thibd 

^ I baire dnwn s map to ihow thaia podiiooa. Tlie Fini Oavumi 
wsoMd al aafsn p.m. ol tha S0th that, owlog to eranta farther north. Congrara'a 
Oospa would fliU hack by night to tha Una Bray-Alhart, and that tha dla- 
inoantad Murtj ol tha iVvl Oataxat waa to hold from B^ooort to Albart. So 
I plaoad tbam thara In my map ; hot now I am donbtfol whathar any man ol 
tba Fini Oatalkt wara abia to raaoh tha B^oonrt aector. At 1.16 ft.m. of tha 
iSlh, tha Dloaountad Biigada oonoantintad at Camoy, ooreiad bj a laar- 
gnaid, and at aiz ftjn. it borrowad iO Q.S. wasfooa from tha i/MJk D.*a aR.A. 
and want to Bulxa-anr-Somma. On arriTlng thara at about aavan o'olock thay 
otdarad to ratona to Bnaay-laa^Daoora. Latar, at 10.16 s.m., tba Fir»i 

Oatalbt waa mada taaponalbla for tha oroaalnsa otar tha Anoia aoath of BIba- 
aooft. In tha aonth of tba Una thay did asaaUant wQri[, aa Iqr Qananl Baal*. 
Browna*a Oohnnn, anpportad by tha lat and Snd Oavalry Brigadaa, whioh tiU 
p»9t halpadio hold tha foa't adtanoaon a Una north and aooth through 



Ammt tested oa the Sonme abooi SoDy-fe-See, iridle tlie 
FiRH Abiit still held the south fankof the SoBmenofth 
of Proyart, about five miles Cuther east" ThenCore ii vas 
dai^eroosly nneorered — and uneovcred, too^ in the mmj of 
iU-fortane, faj Fdpih Abmt tioops iriio were leinfiarin g 

StiD, ttwEe was no ' nDBnndetstandinK.'' HO three pmL 
the Thod Abmt's pdM7 as known to its ligM wing was a 
withdrewal to and bdiina the Anere» with the Brey-Albert line 

for reaignaid aetioo. One olnrioos point in this poliqr was td 
{riaee TalnaUe equipmeni behind tne river; another, to pre- 
Tent the crassings man being blocked ; and a thiid, not to be 
eaog^t napping bdow Albert if the foe managed togo ahead 
thrragh the gtif in the Tmsn Abmt's eentre. Why, then, 
should any one be blamed! For one reason only. When 
the mieertainty of war, combined with a diange of order 
that arriTes too late, produces a dangerous poeitian, victims 
are deoianded by imtme nerves near the spot and by nervoas 
mmAm m^ ^ difltiuirft Tn ^Jiwt case KLumft I1118 fiallAn paitity on 
the O.O.C. of the Hivriy^fifih^ who employed his jodgment 
most carefiilly in obeying a Thibd Abmt order, and partly 
on his CSocps Commander, who would have stopped the with- 
drawal baa it been possible. 

For the rest^ civilians wonder (a) why the withdrawal 
coold not be stopped and tamed back, and (6) whether 
the Thi/Hy-fifih Division, having passed all ri^t throogfa 
the monung and its fighting, slmild have tamed back to 
re-ooeopy the Albert-Bray line. 

Troops of the Thirly-fifih, who had been continaooaly in 
veary strennoos fighting since the S4th March, were now 
aetoallpr in motion in a movement of retreat based upon 
preceding orders received by their Commander. Does any 
reader, not acquainted with the conditions of war, conceive 
what it means in battle, to convey orders from a Division 
Commander through Brigade and Battalion Headqaarter8» 
down to companies and j^toons in the firing line ? It is a 
matter of hours, and many hours, before the order, which left 
Division Headquarteis by motor cyclist^ has filtered through 
till it reaches the Company Commander by a runner, who mis 
possiblv crannied for the last half mile under madiine-gun 
fire. In some cases, it mav never reach him at all. 

Imagine the chaos wnich would be created by such a 
coimter order upon troops in movement in a rearguard 
action along a front of four or five miles ! Some units would 


reeeive the order, perbftM, boon after others: Some would 
never receive it at all| Deeauae the runners had been shot; 
Some would be moving forward, others back ; confusion and 
dismay would result in the most critical of all movements in 

r — a retirement in fis^e of the enemv. 

Such an 4>rder could not be circulated and acted upon, 
disaster to the force engaged, till a stable line had 
been reached. Between the line Albert-Bray and the line to 
be held on the Ancre, no possibility existed of communicating 
this order to the troons in such a manner that it could be put 
into effect. It should, at leasts have reached the Commander 
of the Thvrly-fifth before 10 a»m., whereas, it reached him — 
and then only by telephone — shortly after 3 p.m. The 
coonterorder was issued at least five hours too late, more 
probflUy even mveti hou/n too late, for effective action. It 
was israed when the CSommander, following hb previous 
orden, could not act upon it without risking disaster to his 
division and the whole line. A break in t£e line at this 
point would have meant the loss of Amiena After visiting 
the fronts seeing the situation, and consulting his brigadiers, 
he decided^ that the counter order could not be acted upon 
without disastrous consequences. And his decision was 
justified next morning when the German attack was met and 
repulsed by a stable hue, though he was no longer in command 

Moreover, the peril at Albert had not yet passed away. 

Haig says, indeed: ''During the night of March 2&-27, 
the enemy had gained possession of Albert after some fi^htixig 
with our reaigurds in the town, and obtained a footmg in 
Aveluy Wood.'* It is a fact, too, that alanning night rumours 
received by some men of the intrepid Ninth caused a sUjjrht 
panic in the neighbourhood of the Albert- Amiens road, which 
was allayed by Captain Darling of the Eleventh Royal Scot& 
Also a machine-gun which the foe had manoeuvred into a 
position between the Ninth's posts did too much harm before 
it was put out of action by a local counter-attack. 

And now apply these night facts to the retreat from Bray. 
As the foe baa troops enough to take Albert after dark, the 
position at Bray would have been very dangerous if no with- 
drawal had taken place. Though the retirement from Bray 
was a veiy great peril to Oou^*b left south of the Somme, 
yet I eannot help believing mA the peril might have been 
much greater if the withdntwal had begun from Bray after 
Albert felL It would have been a pressed withdrawal, and 



after midnight, probably, with oar men depressed and ihe foe 
heartened. Even on March 27 the position at Albert and 
north of Albert was not altocether reassuring. Otto von 
Below captured Ayette and AbMnzevelle, north of Buoquov, 
and Marwitz tried hard to debouch from Albert^ happily with- 
out success. A brigade of the Fov/rth AustraUans was lent 
to our NirUh Division, which needed support As usual, the 
foe pushed forward snipers and light machine-guns^ and as 
usual much worry was caused by those manoeuvres. 

As for the taproot causes of all the trouble, they were the 
6th Corps' ill-luck and the breach in our Thibd Akbct's centre, 
which remained open and very menacing from an hour un- 
stated on March 24 till early in the afternoon ot Mareh 86. 
Historians will wish to know why it was not mended earlier 
with reinforcements. Australians are naturally proud that it 
was mended by one of their brigades at a time when farther 
delay would have been far and away too hazardous. 





** T ^ROM the time when the indieatioiiB of an oflEensive 

L^ OQ mv front fiiet became definite/' says Haig, " I 

I had been in dose tonoh with the Oommander*in* 

Chief of the Freneh Anniea On different ocea- 

moDB, as the battie developed, I diaeussed with him the 

mtaation and the policy to be followed by the Allied Anniee. 

As a result of a meeting held in the afternoon of March 28, 

airangements were mMe for the French to take over as 

rapidly as possible the front held b^ the Fifth Armt, sonth 

of P^nne, and for the concentration of a strong force of 

Fraich divisions on the southern portion of the battle 

uTonv, • • • ^ 

When speaking of the fourth day, Haig savs: — 
** Thougn French troops were oonunff rapidly to the assist- 
ance of the 8rd Corps, which on this day passed under the 
oommand of the Third FRENen Arht, the AJlied Forces were 
not yet in sufficient straq^ to hold up the enemy's 

advance." t 

In these quotations the history is too official ; and since the 

French are fiuied both for clarity of statement and for their firm 

grasp on matters essential to oiscnssion and history, ther are 

not at all likely to believe that cardinal matters should be 

deleted from British accounts of St. Quentin's Week. Better 

to pass an Act of Parliament to forbid all writing on the war 

thim to be soueamiah towards operative facts. 

Our 8rd Corps— Butler^s Corps— had 80,000 yards of land 

to guard, only 16,000 less than that which the whole of 

Byng^s Army had to protect ; and in comparison with the 

uigeney of its needs from the first hour of battle, relief did 

• VoL IL, p. 190. t VoL tt., p. 90S. 


not, and could not in the circamstanoes, arrive rapidly. It 
came with all possible speed, but French divisions arrived 
here, and on the right of Mazse's front, without their equip- 
ment, both militi^ and administrative. French Qenerals 
came with their keenness, but their troops had no guns and 
no more rifle cartridges than they carried; and for several 
days both they and tibe Allied defence were weakened by 
these grave hindrances. How then could the French do 
justice to their fine Qualities ? And I regret to add that one 
of the most reasonable of old military rules was broken by 
the manner in which, under orders, the French reinforcements 
gradually relieved our troops. 

This old militajy rule concerns the use of reinforcements 
during a battle. Mrst we have to see whether the French 
reinforcements w^re able to arrive quickly enough to do 
something more than balance our heavy casualties. By the 
end of March a French cavalry division and ten divisions of 
French infantry appeared in the fighting front, never at first 
as complete units, since it takes a longish time for the 
battalions of a division to be brought into action. These are 
all that I am able to find, and their value as reinforcements 
was very much lessened by the reinforcements which Hutier 
and Marwitz had added to their odds. In Hutier's reinforce^ 
ments there were ten divisions. The French were enough to 
give the front sufficient stability for local fighting but not to 
justify counter-blows on an effective scale.* Here are the 
days during which they are mapped for the first time : — 

Third Day — First French C avalbt, and NirUk, Hwnd/red 
wnd Twemty-fiftk Fbjsscb Infantry. The last was in the 
battlefield at dawn ; the others appear in the evening map. 

Fourth Day — Tenth, Siaty^eeamd, and elements of Twmty* 

Fifth Day — Hvmdred omd Thvirty4hird, 

Sixth Ttaj—ThiHy-fifih. 

Seventh Day — F%fty-8ixth, Hwn&red and Siaty-eecondf 
and HvauJhred cmd Siasty-math. 

As Hutier's advance stretched a widening flank south 
towards the Allied power, there is reason greatly to regret 
that the Allied reinfercements could not be powerful enough 
to strike such counter-blows as would have prevented Luden- 
dorff from attacking at Armenti^res and the Lys. In these 

* Haig MjB (toL iL, p. 284) tliai, by the snd of Maroh, aoma tan Qenau 
diyisionB were aotiYe ac^dnst the French. Other French divisions * ^ 
daring the first week of April. 


ninf oroements, before April 9, were twelve Brifciah 
who were replaced in the north by divisionB which had been 
xedneed to skeletons by recent fighting, then hurriedly 
repaired with drafts brought over from Enjo^and. Nezt^ 
suddenly and urgently, disaster on the Lys made claims upon 
Foch and Haig, who hurried reserves north to the new battle. 
Oould any set of circumstances have been more opposed to an 
effeotiye use of reinforcements ? 

Tet I do not understand all the mingled uncertainty, 
scamper and improviBation that I meet with in the rehif ore- 
ing. ** It was evidenV* nys General Monadi, *' that the plans 
of the Higher Command were the subject of rapid changes, in 
sympathy, probably, with fluctuations in the situation, which 
were not ascertainable by me." Yet no fluctuations ran 
counter to the plain lessons taught by the first day's fighting. 
Reinforcements all alooR the line botii north and south of the 
Somme was the main ksson, for Bynff had been oUi^^ to 
employ, and therefore to tire, three of his reserve divisions. 
It seems very strange, then, that G.H.Q/s reserves could not 
be handled at once with method and comnosure. Though 
Monash was warned on March 21 to prepare nis division for a 
move, and to stand bv in readiness to start at a few hours' 
notice, he was kept tilt the 26th in a state of uncertainty ; and 
at last, at break of dav on the 26th, after seeing that eveiy 
one was correctly on the move, he started out by motorcar 
to the country behind Byng^s area, in order to find the 10th 
Corps H.Q, They had moved from Hantdoque and sJso 
fiom IVevent^ so in despair he went to Doullens, where 
he ''tumbled into a scene of indescribable confusion. The 
population were preparing to evacuate the town en mas0s,and 
an exhausted and hungry soldiery was pouring into the 
town from the east and south-east^ with excited tsles that the 
German cavalry was on their beds. . . •" How was it that 
Monash and his troops, eager to be in battle since the 2l8t, 
were compelled to squander their energies through neariy 
six whole days? Why were they not sent at once to the 
PAronne bridgehead 7 And Mada^n's Division of Australians 
had a similar experience. On the 26th, says Monash, it ^ had 
already been on the move, by bus and route march, for three 
days without rest'* On the move for three days — and not 
once in the battle I 

Could it have been helped 7 No doubt the root causes were 
Haig^s impoverished rifle streangth, sod the horrible losses 
whidi the fVench had sufiered since 1914. What care in the 


making of pie-battle plans conld prevent the aet of leinfoieing 
from becoming too mueh like feverish improvisatiim ? 

We have seen (p. 48) that one pre-battle plan ananged 
between Haig and Pitainwas this: that if a danfferoos attack 
fell on Gtongh's vide front the ehief reserves woiud oome from 
the French. But F^tain, having Beims, Champagne, and P^b 
very mnch in his mind, kq>t nis reserves far back, and he 
could not or would not reinforce Gkmgh's risht till he was 
certain that LudendorflTs attack on Oough and Byng was the 
main German offensive. 

Hence that slow arrival of Allied reserves which Ludsn- 
dorff notices, and which causes him to believe that his 
preparations for attack were little known to the Allied 
Command. Ludendoitf argues that if his foes had been aware 
of the vast concentration of Gtorman troops behind his Hues, 
and had observed the hugely increased railway transport 
which had been going on, ** the Entente's defensive measoreB 
would have been more effective, and its reserves would have 
arrived more quickly." 

Further, when we consider the arrangements made betweoi 
Haig and P6tain, two matters more enter this debate : 

1. Was it a good thing in March, 1918, that nearly all the 
French reinforcements were sent to Cough's front south of 
the Somme, while nearly all the British went north of the 
Somme to Byng ? 

2. How should reinforcements be used on a stricken field ? 
Is it their business to do no more than reinforce till they are 
weU enouffh equipped to take over the fighting front ? Or 
should autnorify outside the battle place them in a position of 
command over the officers and men who have been in battle 
from the start and whose local and general knowledge must 
needs be fuller and better ? 

These are test questions ; and now that the tremendous 
events of March, 1918, are passing from phrases into fisM^ 
from propaganda into truth, no harm can be done if we study 
them with temperate frmkness. 

Let us look for the correct answer to the first question : 
^ Was it a good thing that nearly all the French reinforoements 
were sent to Cough's front south of the Somme, while nearly 
all of the British went north of the Somme to Byng t " 


If we put this question in another form we shall draw 
closer to its main issues. Was it wise to mingle too many 


Freoek troops on one froEt with our own men when the 
and fever of a retreat were gathering to a very haasardons 
climax ? If not wise, was it inevitable 7 The answer to this 
question is the answer to another — namely, for what reasons, 
and by whose advice, were far too many troops detained in the 
British Isles ? 

Sir F. Maurice says» in his monograph on "The Last Four 
Months/' page 54 : '' Had the Qo vemment taken in time the 
measures wUch it had been urged to take, the reduction of 
two cavalry divisions and of more than one hundred infantry 
battali on s might have been avoided, and both Oouffh and 
Byng mfht lu^ve had sufficient men to have enabled wem to 
hold thear battle positions against all attacks, while Haig^s 
reserve might have been incrSfcoed by at least two divisions." 

When Mr. Lloyd Geoige qwke at Leeds, on December 7, 
1918, he Bud« among other memorable things, ^ I need not teU 
you about March 21, how, when the great crisis came, men 
were hurried aeroas the ChanneL" N^d not tell us, indeed ! 
Are we to forget Hamlet and King Lear when we think of 
their tragedies ? Ebug's want of enough men for his front of 
125 miles was the taproot cause of aU our tragic troubles. 
According to official figures published in the Time$ (on 
January 2, 1920), our combatant strength in France on 
March 11, 1918, was 1,298,000, including a rifle stEength of 
616,000; and on April 1, it was only 1,181,124, indudW a 
rifle strength of 528,617. Between these dates, then, we lost 
161,876 in combatant strength, including 87,888 infantry. 

These official flgures do not say wheUier the losses include 
men on leave as well as battle casualties; but Ludendorff in 
his book states that his armies in March took " some 90,000 
unwounded prisonerB,** including the Frendu Further, are 
we to believe that the official figures, as published in the 
TimsB^ were checked and af^urovM by O.H.Q. ? In days of 
propaganda, and of Government offices with publicity de- 
partments, we cannot be too cautious. Is it a fact, then, that 
on March 11, 1918, Haif^s 58 divisions had a rifle-strength of 
616,000 men f Certaimv not I The figures mean that every 
one of the 68 divisions had a few more than 10,600 riflemen. 
Mere camouflage I Even the Ninth DrvisioN, comparatively 
a well-manned unit, had no more than 8884 riflemen, including 
pioneers and details. But the official fi^pires, though pro- 
pagsndist, throw some light both on Haig^s weak numoers 
and also on his looses. 

Tet the Prime Minister, when speaking more than five 


months after the battle, did not think it worth while to say 
why abundant reinforcements were kept in the British Isles 
till a terrific attack, long foreseen, had caused a gjreat crisis, 
with a lamentable appeal for succour to President Wilson (see 
p. 309). If Haig had been given resources enough for his 
known responsibilities, there would have been no reason to 
strike that bargain with P£tain which caused a sudden ming- 
ling of French and British troops, with sudden changee of 
command and much confusion. And is it not common know- 
ledge that differing fighting temperaments among nations, 
with their different methods, customs, traditions, do not 
mingle together on a battle front? They come from dis- 
tinguishing traits in racial character— great and endurinff 
quuities which are changed only by slow and graduu 
evolution. Even when they are trained together by the same 
drill and firm discipline, tiie heat and stress of battle are 
likely to separate them; and when they have Tict been 
trained together, how can we reasonably expect them to 
coalesce merely because they are suddenly thrown together 
during a perilous retreat ? 

As every one knows, a British brigade and a French one, so 
unlike temperamentally and in fighting method, never wish to 
fight alongside each other, miz^ up. Indeed, each believes 
that it is let down by the other ; both are certain that they 
support each other best when they have spheres of their own 
in the battle front. 

It is to be regretted, then» that the Fifth Abmt owed most 
of its relief to the French, whose reserves could not oome up 
swifUy enough to act as a genuine relieving force, strong 
enough on the fourth or fifth day to take command without 
" swopping horses in midstream." 

§ m 

When President Lincoln refused to swop horses while 
crossing a stream, he employed in a great war the virtue of 
humorous good sense; not by any means an easy gift to 
display when the fever of rattle circulates from brain to 
brain, magnifying both good and bad so much that few 
persons see any event, as a whole, in focus and perspective. 
Lincoln's maxim is good sense in all dangerous times, but 
above all, when the stoeam is a river in spate, and both 
horses are off their feet and trying to swim as corks do. Tet 
Oough and his officers and men were set to swop horses. 


Mveral timeB, in a river boiline towards nqudB, when oontrary 
enrrents were pressing in fiill flood acainst the horses. 

Freneh troops wiuioot their artJUery and other essential 
thinflSy thouffh operating on eroond for which Britidi com- 
nanders had everv reason to xeel respoosiUe, were not placed 
under British orders; it was onr troops who were placed 
onder French ciders and in a disjointed manner to be 
stadied as a warning by eveiy one of na Owing to these 
frequent changes of command, imity of control was impossible. 
Sometimes the French issaed ormrs direct to British sub- 
ordinate units, without informing their British Commanders. 

Oan any one believe that either Marlborough or Wellington, 
in the middle of an enormous battle, would have sanctioned 
these changes of ccnnmand, whidi seemed to imply bluntly 
that British national pride did not exists that British officers 
and troops were inferior to the French, and that the French 
would have been humiliated if their rein&roements had obeyed 
British orders until they took over the fighting front? 

There are those who say that most Frenchmen outside the 
battte looked upon Gough as a beaten General, imder whom 
their troops could not serve until his men were relieved and 
withdrawn. If this opinion did come into vogue outride the 
battle— and many wihi opuiicnis were circulated — ^it would 
have been corrected by a frank official statement giving the 
perilous number of Qough's infantry when the battle bmn; 
and certainly no Freneh soldier iniide the battle^oould have 
been blind to our FmH Abmt's greatness, since its remnant 
divisioDs— as battle-maps moved every day-^iever retreated 
moTB rapidly than their Freneh Alliea Both Frendi and 
British were assailed by a force which compelled them to 
eboose between bending and breaking; and why should any 
one have supposed tw a confusion in command would 
be usefulf Surely a sudden change of treatment during 
a great battle, as in a critical illness, however right in prin« 
01^ becomes dangerous in prsetice when it is ^ppliedinaptiy 
at an unfitting tune 7 Consider also the part played in 
battle fa^ national feelings and qualities. Let us take an 

K Blttcher had arrived at three o'clock in the afternoon 
of Waterloo, he and his men would have come under Welling- 
ton, not Welluigton under Bl4cher ; and this would have been 
f—wmtisl, quite aside from any question of military pre* 
eminence. For mankind's gifts of the epirit are abnormally 
sensitive to all influences, good and bad, during the heat and 


siaress of a great battle. Every BritSah soldier on the field of 
Waterloo was so ^ud of bemg under Wellington that his 
whole nature was Wellin^tonized ; and this general feeling of 
proud loyalty to tiie Chief was aocompanied by regimental 
attachment of men to their officers^ Picton's men to Picton, 
for example, and Colbome's to Oolbome Imagine, then, what 
the shook wonld have been to oflfeers and men alike it 
Bloeher had arrived at three in the afternoon and had taken 
command of ihe British infiEUitry and of Wellington also. 

And now apply this war psycholo^ — that is, this know- 
ledge of the human mind and spirit m soldiers, one by one, 
and in divisions united into an army — ^to Qough and his 
officers and men. If any depleted divisions ever nad reason 
to be proud of their leaders, they were those who baffled 
Hutier and Marwitz when Marwitz and Hutier were at their 
strongest They fought with intense British pride against 
Gtermans; they knew that the undermanning was no fault 
of their Army's H.Q. ; and from day to day their fraying 
fiayed line stoetehed more and more, as when Maxse on the 
fourth day aided Watts along about three thousand yards of 
front jAjid then all at once, and bit by bit, they were taken 
from their own officers and placed under the control of French 
reinioroements, whose artillery and other needs were on the 
road, fiur off. Was this fair to their natural desire to fight 
on under British control till they were withdrawn fiK)m their 
ordeal ? Would French troops in the Verdun campaign have 
been willing to pass all at once from their own Generus to be 
controlled by British reinforcements? I hope not, for the 
most valuable thing in war is national pride among good 

One of the most distinguished of Qough's officers has 
written as f (dlows :*— 

^Although the British formations were placed under 
various French general officers for the purpose of fighting 
the enemy, these French generals (through no fault of their 
own) were at first unable to exereise command in the field, 
either over their own or over our troops. They had been 
sent up in a great hurry . . . without their stafEi, without 
telephones and dispatch riders, without artillery and without 
any small arm ammunition beyond the eighty rounds carried 
on the men. They were short of transport and short of 
machine-guns ; and this state of things lambed during several 

^' These difficulties were valiantly contended with, but 


were a bindimiiea to handling troops effeethrely in contact 
with a yigilant enemy. Qom oomndesbip got over the 
difficoUy of laogoage and the difficulty of imderataiiding 
forei^ methods, bat could not overcome the difficulty of 
ob^ymg the contradiotoEy French orders which reached onr 
nnita in qnick soceession. 

''It thus transpired that oar subordinate formations w«re 
compelled to look to their own Corps for tactical instractions 
as well as for administrative services^ and the Corps Staff thus 
became ennged in recondlinff French orders and French 
wishes with what was practicable at the moment. This was 
done as tactfully as possible, but with a firm intention of not 
permitting the enemy to penetrate any gap inside the Fifth 
BarnsH Abmt. 

^The French retired south-westward fimn Boye at the 
start Our line of retreat lay due west If we had implicitly 
obeyed the French orders we received there would have been 

qp of at least ten miles between Montdidier and Beaucourt 
le French Generals on the spot at the time recognized this 
situation, and there was never any friction between us ; but 
it should be placed on record that a ten-mile cap was avoided 
onlv by the finnness of purpose displayed by Qeneral Sir 
Hubert Oough, oommandmg the Fifth Abmt. In hoi, we 
held the cap in defiance of orders from superior French 
Oenerak vnio were unacquainted with the local situation. • . .** 

Let these matters be viewed frankly and temperately, side 
by side with a sound military rule which says that reinforce- 
ments ought to do no more than reinforce till the^ are properly 
equiwed to take over the fitting front. Till then, they 
should be governed by the arm v whose strength they restorei 

Now and then sound principles in war have an application 

Evemed by diflering circumstances, and there are critics who 
lieve that the transfer of our Srd Corps on the fourth day to 
the Thibd Fbknoh Abmt may have been useful, parti v because 
the most southern division — ^the Fi/Sy-d^AtAA-haa become 
detadied in French territory,* and partly because Butler^s 
line f3t retreat was towards the Noyon region, which the 


• ThkdiiTlfllon,UM JV^^y-fi^U^pMMdiuidarFrenohoon^^ 

Ito, Hid Ihofl before ihe loorth dey. On the etenlng of MMoh S9, a* «« 

o'dook, OQZ EighimUh VmMum xMthred iaf onnalian IhftI Uw Ffftif-0ighih 
hftd pMMd ondsr oonmiaiid of lb« Fnnoh, whoto Swidnd amd Tw m^ fiftk 
Dmnoa mm moving np to Mpdn the Oront QmaaX lino aboai Vond Mid 
TMgate. Tho SigktsmUh wm Mkod to o»«ponilo. TUi ovldflnoo mobi Io 

•bow tb»l M loon im m gnnliM Vranoh dhrteldn wm bwflsd brnothlaMJy Into 

i rigbt Al Atfbii 

Mtfoo, U WM pat in oomiftind ow % Brititb dlriiion, wboM 
bed nol bMtt fttfawkod, and wboM lofl bad foogbt masplfloenily. 


French wete partienlarly eager to guard. On the oiher hand, 
not all unitB of our 3rd Corps had oome naionlly into touch 
with a French command, ^th cavalry and icdSuitry were 
doing all that was possible mider their own officers; and how 
is any one to believe that these British officers did not know 
more abont current events and needs, both local and general, 
than the French officers who arrived in great haste ? 

As for the 18th Corps^ in its case there should be no doubt 
at alL It bore with success the brunt o£ Hutier's attack. 
Why, then, was it not permitted to fight entirely under its 
own Army's control till its units were withdrawn? Why 
impose on British troops a subordination to French reinforce* 
ments which mAj be regarded by them as a political panic 
coming from outside the ^hting or as censure passed publicly 
on themselves and their officers ? In these matters I feel as 
an Englishman who has always been greatly moved by British 
battles, and who is certain that a great nation's just pride of 
self-rofi^iect is a natural element of greatness which should be 


At first the French troops associated with our 18th Corps 
took line along the Libermont Canal from Quiquery to 
Libermont Four companies of French infantry reinforced 
the right of the TwerUielh ; then this British unit — ^to which, 
after we crossing of the Somme, remains of the Siaty-first were 
attached — ^passed for a time under the French commander, 
whose men belonged to the 2nd French Cavalry Corps, General 

In the evening of March 24^ Oough and Bobilot discussed 
a combined attack on the foe north-west of Nesle, to drive 
him back over the Somme along the Betheneourt sector. An 
extensive plan was debated and arranged. By night the 
French Tufenty-aecond was to man the Ime Bouy le Grand- 
Mesnil St Nicaise, in order to attack in a north-eastern 
direction, while the Eighth British, under Heneker, was to 
co-operate by thrusting south-east. And the British Twenty* 
fowrth, brought forwwl from its position in reserve, was to 
advance due east, assailing with all its might; and these 
combined movements were to be set in action at 8 a.m. on 
the morning of the fifth day. A barrage table was timed» and 
our officers and men made all necessary preparations. 

When dawn came the French wei^ not^ position; they 


aeked for a postponement of three hours. Three honrs went 
by ; no ohange in the situation occurred ; and then it became 
known that General Bobilot had issued no definite orders 
because he rmoded the whole scheme as a "project '* onl^, a 
fight in an me of dreams. It is quite easy tor men to view 
a piece of business differently when they speak different 
languages^ and when reinforcements do not belong to an 
Army Craunander^s direction. 

But misunderstandings have results, not often welcome. 
A German thrust advanced through Neale, and the French 
Twenty-meand was driven back south*west a considerable 
distance towards Bove. By noon, moreover, some three or 
four mUes north of r7esle» heavy German columns of attack 
debouched from Morchain and pushed the li^ht of Watts's 
Corps through licourt and Pertain. By evemng Watta was 
being attacked on the railway line from Omi£oourt north- 
east to the Somme, but his tooops held their own, retaining 
also the bridges of 8t Christ ana Brie. Then two pieces of 
bad news haia to be weighed and measured. In the south 
German pressure was closing upon Noyon, and in the north 
Byng's right was to retire by night to the Bray-Albert line, 
uncoverinff about six miles of Gough's flank and rear. So 
Gough ordered Watts to withdraw to a new line in order to 
ease as much as he could the northern menace, while Maxse 
remained face to fiflM» with awkward matters, his troops and 
the TfmiUfhaMmi French holding a line approximately as 
follows — ^maulieu, liancourt, Foudies. 

Next day, March 26, the oflBdal policy which, on March 
26, placed the French in general control south of the 
Somme, made matters worse. The British Thirty-Biaik was 
relieved for a n>ell of rest by the French Sioety-Beoond, and 
passed under French orders. Williams also* was placed 

• ?nuisais s our TMrliia Dxnsiaii. II would be aUBooU to q^ too 
highly of this anik whioh benn tha faettto with sboat seOO rlflM. A hrisf 
ramiasiy of its domgi nmi thw : On lisroh SI WUUsmt'i simi lost tbdr 
teWBsd sons, sftor e v«y tough wriitsnoa from the Shctaooth Msoohtttsn 
SDdthsSooondWIltihlni. In thsoTsaiiigof thoMoonddiytha/winlofoad 
out of thoir bsltis som: thoy fai this ease bslng the Saoond Torks, tha 
D aw nl aa n th Mannhast ars, BaoondBadlOTds, and BaoondBoyal Soots Fosillaw, 
Ods brigida was In Oorpa Bassrva. Thaj withdraw to Bam. Hsia on tha 
morning of Haiah SA thi^f waia ptsssid baak, bat slowlj, and only aa fv aa 
Libannont Canal, flva or stz nilas wast of Ham; and this Una tb^ bald tiU 
IhaafHilngof tha90th,whanthi7wanraUafadbyVranohtrooDa. Ubanaonl 
Oanalwaa tha fiuihast point to whlohtharwaia driven baok. OnthaS6th,in 
Iha morning, thay took op anothar Una, Bowhoir-Bonnoy, and bald it flnnly 
nntil Fnnoh troops raUarad thsm at UO p.m. on tha 98th. Than thaj got 
a night's cast— tha fixit ona slooa tha batUo bsgn at dawn on Maron SI. 


under the Ereneh Siasty-seoond, and the only tcoqps mm 
remaining teehnioally under MaxBe» their Corps Commander, 
were the T^venUeth (now returned to him trom a French 
Commander) and the remains of Colin Mackemde's Division. 
Then at five in the a£temooii MaKse was jdaeed under General 
Humbert, Third Fbbnoh Abut ; and a few hours later our 
troops knew that the Fifth Abmy as a whole had passed under 
French oontrol, though the confusion caused by tne local sub- 
ordination of our own troops to French reinforcements had 
not yet been resolved into order. 

Indeed, it was early oa the sixth day that two French 
divisions^ the Twenty-aa^md and Siaty-'kcond^ when with- 
drawing south-west towards the valley of the Avre, took 
with them Nugent*s Ulstermen, the Thirty-aixth, and nearly 
all of the 18th Corps artilleiy, both field-guns and heavies ; 
and through the rest of tins day and ^ greater part of 
March 27, our troops had to hold up the foe's advance unaided 
by artillery support — ^not an easy thing to do, for although 
the attack on these days was weak in gunfire, it had ent^ 
prise in several places. 

Gough personally asked the French Commander, Gteneral 
Humbert, to return the field-guns, if circumstances at present 
detained the heavies; and l&s was promised for the next 
day. Meanwhile orders were given to defend to the last 
all roads and bridges, and to check the advance while 
more French troops were being detrained at Montdidier and 

At four in the afternoon our 18th Corps received a French 
order sent through Gough's H.Q. In tms order Mazse and 
Watts were told that they must maintain at all costs the line 
Guerbigny-Erohes - Bouchoir - Bou vroy-Bosi^res - Proyart — ^to 
the Somme. French troops were in movement to relieve 
them along this line. 

But in a wide stretching retreat it is an easy matter at a 
distance with a good map before you to fix on a strong line 
and to issue finn orders, while generals on the spot are 
striving here and there to learn precisely where the foe is 
and where their own men are. On the morning of March 27, 
for example, a few local situations were so obscure that some 
small hitches occurred both to ourselves and to the Germans. 
In the neighbourhood of Bouchoir some German transport 

Next day the Frenoh withdrew, and maoy penona nid— and have oonHmiad 
to say— that Williaixui and hifi men retiied. The habit of blaming ow Vm 
Abkt has invented many myths^ 


rambled inadvertently throagfa our lines and was o^^tnred. 
It belonged to the 56tii German Foot Artillery, and had in it 
two loaded ammunition wagi|ODSy a wateraart with two 
machine-gan8» a cooker full of soap, good or bad» and six 
men fit to be prisonera. Again, early in the morning the 
OJS.0.1. of our 2%vrty''9ixth, wishing to dear up the 8ituati<m 
on his front, started in a car, ran mto a party of Germans^ 
and was captured Later the car was found oy one of our 
ambulance motors and brought in. 

For the rest, during the morning of this seventh day* it 
became known that the Fifty^math French would rekeve 
Nugent's XTlstermen at once ; that in the evening the 
Hv/ndred and Tkvrty4hird French would replace Wifiiams, 
and that General Mesple, of the French Army, would take 
command over Mazse's front. Of course, tiiese British 
divisions, and the others, were remnants only, glorious shreds 
and patches ; but yet^ after their seven days and six nights 
of incessant overstrain, somehow their stamina was fit for 
other adventures, as there was work elsewhere for them to 
do. What rest could there be t What but violence can be 
done to the bravest of the brave when an army enters battie 
very short of men, through no fault of its own ? Early on 
the 28th, when Mazse handed over the command to Meqde's 
4th French Corps, the Twentieth was still holding Hutier 
astride the Boye-Amiens road near Le Quesnel ; the ThMiieth 
and Thirty-Stxth, after being relieved, were to remain with 
the French as long as they were required ; while Mackenzie's 
men had gone north to hdp Watts at Tillers Bretonneuz. 

Colin Mackenzie's troops had twelve days of continuous 
fighting, with a night shift in 'buses from one Corps to 
another. Their raiuB became trsfficalljr thin, of course, and 
80 tired that really they seemed to oe stricken with locomotor 
ataxy; but not a si^ of defeat was to be seen in any 
face. Continuously, smce August 27, 19l7t they had been 
in line, apart from a few imort periods in trains or on 
the roads, when moving from one part of the line to 

As a nation we are very fond of talking about high 
thoughts and right feelinos ; sometimes our virtue is confident 
enough almost to imply ^t our British shoulder-blades are 
adorned with an^ls winm brisk for fiight; but do we really 
cheat ourselves mto the oelief that we have a moral riffht 
not only to keep a division in line for seven whole montns, 
but also to let it fight afterwards through twelve days and 


eleven sights ? Here is one lesson to be learnt from the 
immense battle against Hutier. It teadies ns to know the 
difference between reasonable warfare and cmelty to our own 
soldiers, who represent onr country's manhood at its very 



N this day, the 26th March," says the official 
diapatch, " the GovenunentB of France and Great 
Britain decided to pUce the supreme control of 
the operations of the French and British forces 
in France and Beldam in the hands of General Foch, who 
accordingly assomea control'' 

I wish this quotation said a great deal more. Why 
should it keep Democracy in the dark concerning many 
things ? At tne very moment when Mr. Lloyd Georee was 
appeaJing to President Wilson for succour, to to brought over 
in ships withdrawn from our essential industries (p. 809X 
General Foch received his new honour, yet American troops 
were not placed under his control I Why announce a swift 
change of policy before it was fit to be true Unity of 
Command 7 And who would not be glad to know also for 
what reason British politicians approved this poliq^ in the 
middle of an enormous battle, when two British armies were 
retreating on French soil ? Why were the v so poor in spirit ? 
With much self-congratulation they tola the world that 
British arms needed at once a French head Not a moment 
more must be lost ! So our politicians talked to Dora, and 
Dora inspired the Press by means of confidential fervour 
enclosed within two envelopes, and soon a great flinging-up 
of caps was a journalistic exercise all day long. 

Our descendants will prefer that high story of Nelson, 
who as a young man was in the Mediterranean with a 
squadron too small for big dan|;er8, which at any moment 
might appear along the offing m French white sails. Its 
sailors were uneasy, so they cheered with relief when a 
Neapolitan battleship sailed up under full canvas to reinforoe 
the British weakness. Nekon was hurt and aogry, becaqse 
he knew that his country had no rizht to sink into debt bom 
the duty of being self-dependent The greater the nation the 
less she can aficm to owe overmuch to her partners^-^bove 


m- * 


all, to new oo-belligerents. What would Nelson have said to 
a Prime Minister who, while British soldiers were retreatrng, 
and when the worid hummed with fisdse aoeosations bron^t 
against a British army, chose a (Generalissimo from one MLy 
and begeed for armed succour from another ? 

MrrTJoyd George has had a reputation as bright as 
bubbles are, and it ia bursting like bubbles. A thousand 
pities ; for he had fine instinctive ideas as well as matchlesB 
ener^ ; but the most recent plausible talk from his trusted 
associates deflected his right intuitions as a compass is 
deflected by a magnet. He desired unity of command, only 
to find that racial susceptibilities were as active in Allied 
warfiire as they were and are in any other emulatioo. Dif- 
ferent schools of opinion, both in our own country and in 
France, viewed unity of command variously and opposinfi^Iy. 
What Mr. Asquith says to-day about unity of command is 
not of a piece with two or three other British beliefs or 
convictions ; and if you tried to sum up briefly what was 
said on this ^^t matter by the rival followers of Foch and 
P^tain, and Nivelle, you would find that your epitome would 
be discordant. Yes, and German autocracy discovered also 
that unity of command was an ideal almost as elusive as a 
mirage. German backbones did not ofiend Bulgaria and 
Austria-Hungary, but German orders all along the line were 
hated as a pmic^ of pinpricks. Ludendorff had to mind his 
Ps and Q's. 

All good and necessary things are unpeaceful, thev divide 
us into rival sects, into squabbling schools; but the main 
point to be considered here is not the selection of a 
Generalissimo, it is the ^licv of taking this action suddenly, 
hurriedly, feverishly, wmle the whole world talked about two 
British armies in retreat across French soil, talked without 
knowledge of governing fiu^ts, and seldom in a tone at all 
good for Britain's fame abroad and dignify at home. Also, 
while this talk continued, the War Office and the War 
Cabinet made no effort at all to contradict it ; their silenoe 
was a foe to our troops, and also an injustice which Kiwf/^rim^r 
will never condone. 

But officialism says : ** The appointment of a Generalissimo 
was made imperative by the immediate dane^ of the 
separation of tne French and British Armies.^ But this 
dangerwasziotanewihiDff; it existed as a darkening menace 
befiM the battle began. Tnrther, the main thing to be oon- 
•idersd is not the appointment itself but tiieaot of announdng 


k afc a most inopportoiie time and without oorreeUng the 
slandora on Britiflh troops. 

Ab a rule the manner of doing big things is as important 
as are the thinm to be done; and to do a right thinff at a 
wrong time is often neither less foolish nor lera hannm than 
to ne^eet doing a right thing at the right moment. The 

appointment of Fooh, abmpt and untimelyy was hated by 
those who had not been camouflaged out of their British 
dignity and self-respect A London artisan, with three sons 
at the firont, put this natural feeling in picturesque word& 
''Let's us down sharp, doesn't it?" he said to me. "And 
what a smack in the eye for Haig, and a knock-out for 
Oough and Byng ! Yes, Tet the noospapers are all a-bubble 
with their old eye-wash!" ... ''All a-bubble with their 
old ^e-washl" I like this mocking, scornful phrasing. 
Isn't it good enough to be spoken by a Shakespearean 
flharaeter 9 

suited patriotism speaks plainly ; but statesmen are so 
dragged by atmospheres unlike those of the world outside 
dip^oaey that they are overapt to be foes to inborn sensitiye- 
ness. Too often iJlied Councils were a tiresome orchestra 
in which France held the conductor's baton, while the British 
Empire played second fiddle, as if she were not the Allies* 
composer and financier. 

And was it fair to Foch himself thus to give him control 
— hutriedl^y feverishlvy in the midst of a British retreat — 
over all British foices in France and Bel^um, whUe journaliBts 
with stock phrases tried to lift their readers into high 
exDeetatians f 

Was it supposed that he could gather all at once into his 
hands^ '^ ]^ * wirade, the many strings of military goyern- 
rnent^ British, Belgian, French, whidi wera necessary to 
the firee successful use of his great gifts? If this im- 
possible achierement wera not expected, what useful purpose 
could be served at once by advertifling a decision wnich 
seemed to a great many persons nothing less than a plain 
act of censura passed on our own Qenerals and troops during 
a British retreat on French soil ? 

What if the Oovernments of France and Great Britain 
did expect Foch all at once to improvise victory ? If so, 
the^ ran the ffrave risk of undermining from the start what 
thsur GeneraBssimo needed most of all — ^AlUed confidence 
For it h^ypsoed in the ironical mischances of war that Foch 
began his reign with three de f ea t s de f sa t s bad enough to 


have caused among the French a desire to displace Fodi by 
retain. One defeat was at Armenti^res, Eemmel Hill, and 
in the Lys Valley ; * another, far bigger and more humiliating, 
was the swift German onrosh over the Chemin des Dames 
and thence to the Mame, with leverage pressnre west and 
south-west of Soissons; whOe- the third is described by 
Ludendo^ as the battle of Noyon, which began on June 9, 
and strengthened the long German flank betw^n Montdidier 
and Noyon. 

When these matters are weighed and measured, I am 
certain that it would have been much fairer to Fodi, and 
much fiEkirer also, of course, to our national pedigree and just 
pride, if the act of appointing a French Cfeneralissimo had 
been deferred till the retreat had ended, and till Mr. Lloyd 
George had explained firanklpr that Gtough, through no fisuilt of 
his own, began the battle perilously short of men ; had received 
reinforcements with a slowness which could not be avoided ; 
and yet had baffled the immense eflbrts of Hutier and Marwitz, 
winning time both for the arrival of piecemeal relief and tor 
the incoming of U.S.A. troops. 

To my mind this unhurried and truthful policy would 
have been not only the better one, but also the very best 
There would have been in it no symptoms of nerves £ar 
outside the battle, nerves among statesmen, and its truth 
would have contradicted false rumours and debasing calumnies, 
very painful and unjust to the stricken army whidi had done 
so much against ''a world of odds," to use Shakespeare's 
phrase correctly. 

But although this poUcy appeals to me as evidently the 
best, I am not unmindiul of the jostling circumstances which 
ran counter to it, in political circles mamly, but not entirely, 
as British Generalship had rival creeds and sects. 

B«tw6en Vooh's Appolntmaift m OwmiaHiirimo uid the opming of tin 
LyB bftttlA tbara were foorteen days. Henoe i% has been onfiiir U> oak aU the 
blame on Haig, who had no real reserveB — no spare iroopa tomeetlne daagan 
of a yast emezgenoy. 




NO stroke of nfttional miafortone oonld have been 
wone than the fi^t that the greatest dancer to 
oar aimiee in FhuDoe had grown under Lloyd 
George's eoaUtion, not nnder that of Asquith and 
Bonar Law. In 1916, just before Asquith fell, Germany's 
oondition became desperate, as Ludendorff has confessed 
Tet she made a swift xeoovery, and then brought us to the 
very brink of ruin. 

He who had spoken most eloquently against Too Late 
had to reap a dire erop of evils m>m the same old periL 
What was to be done ? Would Ministers admit their errors 
of judgment, or would they pass into seapegoat hunting, the 
last resort of unnerved statesmanship ? ¥^uld they employ 
the hoaxing rhetoric called either camouflage or propacanda, 
while unloading their mistakes <m good soldiers ? ^<mtical 
human nature is not improved b^ crisis, and so critical was 
the situation that dear reasoning and right action must 
have been esctremely difficult. Though Ministers had failed 
tn^cally their fidl from ofDlce would have caused harmful 
pohtiosl disorder ; and yet their fall might have been brought 
about by the people if the true causes of the retreat had 
been admitted. Action and reaction being equal and opposite, 
we must remember that Ministers had allowed the newspaper 
Press the Momina Pori was an exception — ^to encourage 
over«confidenos while Ludendorff was preparing his offensive. 
So much was published about our airmen's ascendancy 
over their opponents that a great many persons re^puded a 
German attack as a f oU v to be smashed mo by our airplanes ; 
and a fortnight before the foe struck Mr. woar Law affirmed 
that ^ there would be no danf^us superiwity on the 
Western front from the point of view of guns any more than 


from the point of view of men." Yob, and he was ''still a 
little sceptical '^ about the foe's threatened oflenaive I 

There is a wide difference between Bation Strength and 
Combatant Strength, and Mr. Bonar Law may have meant 
that the total Amed ration strength on the Western front 
was larger than the combatant strenffth which Lndendorff 
woold employ. In any case we have leamt from Haig that 
Lodendorn on the first day employed "at least sixty-four 
Oennan divisions ... a number considerably exceeding the 
total forces composing the entire British Anny in France." 
As Lndendorff assailed fifty-foor miles of oar fronts yAkh in 
all was one hundred and twenty-five miles wide, the words 
put into eirculafcion by Mr. Bonar Law were very indiscreet, 
being not at all fit to tnrace his ooontiymen for an uncertain 
ordeal or to aid his Government if our troops were obliged to 
bend much in order to avoid breaking. 

What military adviser save this eicoessive confidence to 
Mr. Bonar Law ? The C.La.& ? Or did Mr. Bonar Law 
collect his over-confidence at first hand from his own hopes? 
In France, too, the same wild excess of hope was active. 
Many a simple person prayed that Lndendorff would strike — 
to receive at once a fitting punishment of defeat. 

Then, of course, as soon as the crisis came, feeling in 
France — a natural feeling of mordant anxiefy mingled with 
irritation and swift unreasoning critidsm — ^made the positioa 
of statesmen, both French and British, as delicate as it was 

Serilous. Even details of the retreat^ and notably the 
^ estruction of French bridges and railways, represented an 
immense loss, both present and friture; and as a gun from 
seventy-five miles dropped shells on Paris, much civilian 
panic was added to political distress and fear. Many will 
recall to memory a touching speech on this crisis made by 
M. Clemenceau at Amiens, in July, 1919. The worst moments 
in the Second Battle of the Somme were recalled : — 

'* If the Germans took Amiens, what would be the con- 
sequences ? This question was discussed at Abbeville, and 
we asked whether it was better to try to hold up the advance 
on Paris or to prevent the Germans from reacning the sea. 
Two points of view were urged by men of equal weight and 
authority. When I recall these hours I experience again one 
of the greatest emotions a man can f eeL we were joying a 
hand on which hung the fate of the Fatherland.*' 

But althouj^h it is easy to keep heartily in touch with lUl 
French amdeties, the crisis in France was much more than a 


Freneh one; it was an Allied erisis which pressed as heavily 
on Britiah prospeets as on French freedom. Sorely, then, 
neither words nor acts should have been made of some con- 
solation to the French unless they were at the same time 
amply fiur both to onr national dignity and to our officers 
ana men. 


Unluckily, this cardinal aspect of the erisis was passed 
over almost without attention. Defiuning romoars were per- 
mitted to dzealate; shortly after the battle a deplorable 
speech was made by Mr. Llo vd Qeoige to the House of 
OnnmoDS, a speech which he has not yet corrected, though 
its errors were notable from the very moment they were 
uttered; and while the Prime Minister was proving again 
that his forte runs counter to an exact use of facts in a 
sequence, a strange experience came to one of our war corre- 
qx>ndents, Mr. ELamUton Fyfe, who desired to tell the truth, 
only to find that Authority at the front would not let him, 
though vile slanders were passing from random gossip into 
printed innuendoes. 

Already I have given a part of Mr. Fyfe's experiences 
(p. 6), and now let us see what he savs concerning the 
causes which made the people so easy to mislead. The public 
acceptance of a false view in to be attributed, he believes : — 

**\. To the refusal of the public to believe anything 
written by war correspondents, a refusal for which I do not 
blame the public, considering how often they had been 
deceived before they realized &e conditions under which war 
correspondents worked. 

^ 2. To the loose and exaggerated accounts of the retreat 
given by wounded men of the units which went to the relief 
of the fiFTH Armt. 

'^ 8. To the statement made in the House of Commons by 
the Prime Minister, with incomplete knowledge and mis* 
understanding of important fsusts. 

''4 To the treatment of General Gough . • • who was 
deprived of his command without court-martial or 
inquiry. • . .'* 

Note, too^ what was being said in France . — 

''About tiie retreat, and especially the Fifth Abmt part 
in it» many absurd stories were afloat What was particularly 
unfiDctanate was that American soldiers arriving in France 


were apt to be told that British troops became a disorderly 
rabble, that officers lost their heads, that men wandered like 
sheep without a shepherd, and that their unworthy conduct 
caused a grave set-back to the Allied Cause. Such stories 
were, I d^ say, set agoing, many of them, by spies and 
traitors, very lU^ely by paid German agents. They were 
repeated by nabitual grumblers, by those who like to ' seem 
to know/ and even by many who passed on this kind of talk 
merely because they had nothing better to say. One story 
which was widely told represented General Gough as having 
dined in London * on the night pf March 21 1 ** 

In the large aspects of truth there was nothing obscure. 
As Mr. Fy fe says : — 

" The Germans had so many divisions that they could 
take them out of the line as soon as they were tired and let 
them recover. Our men had no intervals. They were on 
their feet day and night. When they were not fighting, they 
were falling back or hastily improving old defensive positions. 
They grew so heavy-headed from want of sleep that officers 
had to go round shaking them to keep them awake. Numbers 
of them fell by the roadside and slept from exhaustion. This 
largely swelled the numbers of prisoners taken by the enemy. 
Yet throughout the six [eight] days of battle there was 
nothing approaching a rout or a panic, there was no disorder 
on the roads. I have seen other retreats with these features. 
In this retreat there was hardly so much as disorganization 
on any large scale . . . From hunger few suffered, thanks to 
the devotion and steadiness of the Army Service Corps, and 
to the regularity of the regimental arrangements for dis* 
tributing rations. But what they suffered from weariness no 
one can imagine. Yet they kept their faces towards the foe. 
They never let him get through. Thus they spoiled his 
plan . . ."t 

And let us note also how the Germans in some of their 
newspapers admitted that their strategic plan had miscarried. 
On March 26, for instance, the Frankfort Oazette said bluntly : 

* Didn't goaaip Bay Paris also, and on the same evening ? Two maginal 
dinnen eaten on the same eyening in places fiur apart I 

t Hamilton Fyfe, Contemporary B&vieWt January, 1919. Mr. Fyfe might 
have added with trath that mnoh nonsense was ciroulated by the natnzal 
vanity of reserves who arrived soddenly, and who knew nothing ol what the 
men in line had sofiered since Iklaroh 21. Bven General Monash was moved by 
this vanity, and magnified very much the work done by the Australians, who 
did not enter the battle tUl the Germans were nearing the end of their 
physical strength. 


"^ A reftl advanoe has been cheeked hv the foe's obsiiiiaie 
defence. As long as onr enemy is able to ooeapy ehosen 
positions and to mend breaches in his dam with reserves, 
operatiTe movements are impoesib W 

Lndendorff himself gave vamings to Oennan oorre- 
spondents. The British fought tenacioiislj, he said, and 
concealed their machine-gnns with great sloU ; it had been 
necessary to b^gin the battle with many Oennan divisions 
who weie still fiitigaed by their night marches to the 
battlefield; and forward movements were ardnona "BaU* 
ways are torn up," he said, '* and oor horses are jaded, bat 
every effort will oe made to keep tqp the speed now active 
at ttie front" According to Herr Sdieuermann, of the 
Berlin Tag€8zeitwngt Ludendorff made another remark : ** A 
great battle has been f onght a victory gained : bat nobody 
can ten what the result ot it will be." If these words 
were given correctly by Schenermann, Ludendorff at once 
described the battle accarately. His words admit that 
he has been baffled in the big strat^c aspecia of his 

Bot other things mast be kept before our minds, and 
among them is the shifty self-help which clings around party 
nolitica Beaconsfield described politics as ''a stinking pro- 
feanon " ; but after all, this candour is too blunt it provokes 
refmsals ; and my aim is to be fidr, and to make due allow- 
ance for the terrible fix into which Ministers and their 
advisers drifted 

A few days after the battle ended Colonel Bepington 
soouned up the case in the MomAng PoaL His first para* 
graph said : — 

""I notice that the Government Pt^ss is doing its best to 
unload the responsibilities of its masters upon the soldiers, 
and especially to blame our Command in France and our 
FmH Abut for the success of the German attack on March 21 
and subsequent davs. The War Office permit these insinua- 
tions and innuendoes to be publishea broadcast without 
reply, and therefore I am entitled to defend my old cam- 
paigning comrades and to establish the facts.*' 

Of course, this behaviour of the Government Press was 
odious ; and much later— on October 21, 1918, when at last 
Haig^s dispatch was published *— journalists on the Govern- 
ment side were a mat deal too reticent, as though an awful 
battle's horrible enects on young lives were ot less importance 

• It ia dated jQl7 90. 


than was the aot of tryinfi^ to hide the big nustakes made by 
our Ministers and their advisers. 

In several passages the dispateh appeals to me as perhaps 
the most notable indictment of British Mimsters ever written 
by a British Commander-in-Ghie£ Some parts of it were 
deleted by the Oovemment; bat that Haig himself still 
regards tne omitted parts as tu^efnly if not neoessair, to his 
argument, is proved by the fact that they are marked by stars 
(****) in the republished dispatch, as you will see by 
taming to pi^^ 177, 178, and 179. These cats are all in 
that portion of the dispatch which Mt. Lloyd George regaided 
as a reflection on himself and his Cabinet. 

Here are a few quotations ooUected from the dispatch as 
published : — 

" The broad facts of the change which took place in the 
general war situation at the dose of 1917, ana the caosee 
which led to it, have long been well known and need be 
referred to but diortly. 

'' The disappearance of Russia as a belligerent countiv on 
the side of the Entente Powers had set free the great bulk of 
the (German and Austrian divisions on the Eastern Front 
Already at the befiinmnff of November, 1917, the transfer of 
German divisions bom &e Russian to the Westwn front had 
begun. It became certain [by the middle of Februaiy, 1918] 
that the movement would be continued steadily untu 
numerical superiority lay with the enemy. ..." * 

" In threeand a half months twenty-eight infantry divisions 
had been transferred from the Eastern theatre and six 
infantzy divisions from the Italian theatre. There were 
reports that further reinforcements were on their way to the 
West, and it was also known that the enemv had greatly 
increased his heavy artillery in the Western theatre daring 
the same period. These reinforcements were more than were 
necessary for defence, and, as thev were moved at a time 
when the distribution of food ayd rael to the civil population 
in Germany was rendered extremely difficult through lack of 
rolling stock, I concluded that the enemy intended to attack 
at an early date. . . . 

''By the 2l6t March the number of German infantry 
divisions in the Western theatre had risen to 192, an inereaae 
of 46 since November 1, 1917. • • ." t 

"Although the growing Army of the United States of 
America might be expected eventually to restore the balance 

• Vol. II, p. m. t Vol II., p. lea. 


in our &v<mr, a ooniBiderable period of time would be required 
to enaUe that Army to develop its foil strength. Whfle it 
would be possible for Gkrmany to complete her new disposi* 
ttons early in the new year, the forces which America could 
send to France before the season would permit aetive opera- 
tions to be recommenced would not be large. • . /' * 

'' The strenuous efforts made fay the British forces during 
1917 had left the Army at a low ebb in regard both to training 
and to numbers. It was therefore of the first importance, in 
view of the expected German offensive, to fill up the ranks 
as rapidly as possible and provide ample facilities for 
training. • . ."t 

But as the ranks were not filled up, " a defensive policy 
was adopted*'; and " the extent of our front made it impos- 
sible, with the forces under mv command, to have adequate 
reserves at all points threatened. It was therefore necessary 
to ensure the safety of certain sectors which were vital, and to 
accept risks at others. • . . " t 

What have Ministers to say t And upon whose military 
advice did they act ? 

Mr. Lloyd Oeoige has related how Sir Hemy Wilson 
foretold the aim and place of Ludendorff's assault. Yet Haig 
was left in great need of more men. Why? 

Meantime, there's another side that invites questioning 
comment. Did Q.H.Q.'s anxiety linger too long north <^ 
Bapaume-Cambrai road f Its dispatdE fails to note that a 
vital whole is no stronger than its most vulnerable part; 
hence Ludendorff struct hardest against the St Quentm 

Further, as Oough's front was one-third of Haig's whole 
line, and as it spanned the very heart of France, I am 
unable to see why all of the risks were crowded along its 
areas. Hutier's attack alone is known in France as the 
battle of Picardy I And tiiere is also the technicial question 
of bearing strength. A girder showing uniform wear and 
tear to a degree not immediately unsue is a much better 
thinff to trust under jolting pressure than a ^prder perilously 
weak along a third part of its lengtL This apphes also to 
stretching dastie. I suggest, then, after making allowance 
for the uncertainties of war, that when a O.H.Q. is compelled 
to take great risks in defence, it might well spread them 
uniformly firom end to end of tiie line rather than crowd them 

•yoLU.,9.m. • t Vol IL. J. ITS. 

S Vol ILt p. US. 


all along a third of the whole front Even when tiiis one- 
third hius good luek againgfc odd^, and is only driven in badly, 
reinforoements most m sent to it at hiffh-preasaie speed and 
in greater numbers than an even distribntion of risks would 
ne^, probably ; and if the foe, af tear causing this dLrolaoe- 
ment of reserve strenffth, strikes elsewhere at a place skilfully 
chosen, as Ludendorn struck against Armentitees and on the 
Lys, the use of defensive reserves becomes flurried and 
feverish a«in. Is it too much to say, then, that risks are 
likely to. be multiplied when they are congested along one 
wide area of a vast battle line, just as thejr are multiplied hj 
concentration when a gambler stakes his all on a single 

§ III 

Though it is necessary to examine a case from all fair and 
reasonable standpoints, the main point of all, no doubt» is the 
great need of rine strength imposed on Q.H.Q. between the 
xpres salient campaign and March 21, 1918. What defence 
has been offered by the Government's followers ? 

Many persons say : " G.H.Q. should have stopped all leave. 
Why on March 21 were about 70,000 of its men on leave 1 " 
The answer is plain, because every O.H.Q. has to keep over- 
worked troops in a temper fit for battles. P^tain also was 
obliged to grant leave to his trenchwom men. After the 
immense losses suffered in 1916 and 1917, it would have been 
an act of wild folly to add to the stress and strain by for- 
bidding the usual routine that enabled brave soldiers to visit 
their homes for a few days. 

Other persons say : ''It was a verv bad mistake to extend 
the British front. Lloyd George had no right to give way in 
this matter." 

The French b^^an to press for this relief in September, 

1917. Much discussion followed, and went on till Januanr, 

1918. Then the French lines were taken over by Gk>ugh in 
two instalments, between January 10 and 12, and Januanr 
26 and February S. Obviously, to increase the Frenw 
reserves by takin^^ over a two-corps French front was to 
impoverish the British resources at a bad time. But ^et the 
French, from their own standpoint^ had right on their side. 
Since 1914 they had held a very much wider frontage, while 
British statesmen and pressmen talked about the increasing 
millions recruited by the British Bmpire. This part of our 


naiional propaganda made no reference at all to oombatant 
strength; the ration strength alone was jriven, and it inolnded 
troops in the British Isles, in India, fim>t» and elsewhere 
galore. So Frenchmen, like hosts of Bnitidi persons, said 
among themselves, '* Where are all these millions of British 
troops ? How is it that a ay for more men comes incessantly 
from British Qenerak in France and Flanders ? '* 

After the Armistice, official propaganda announced that 
our Empiro had employed 8,654,467 troops, while admitting 
at the same time that^ in 1918, our strength on the Western 
Front was as foUows : — 

Bstioo ttrangtlk Oombstentitniigtli. BIfls ttisngUL 
March 11 1,828,098 1,293,000 616,000 

April 1 1,667,701 1,131424 628,617 

September 23 1,752,829 1,200,181 498^06 

November 11 1,781,678 1,164,790 461,748 

We have seen already that these figures are propagandist^ 
and as a consequence nntrostworthy, but yet they admit 
officially that rifle strength dwindled constantly, thon^ it 
was too weak on March 11 ; while ration strength, after a 
big loss, between March 11 and April 1, made a recoveiy 
between April 1 and September 23. The falling off in com* 
batant strength between March 11 and November 11 was 
128,210, and in rifle strength, 164,251 Suppose the U.&A. 
had not entered the war, would Foch's finale nave then been 
at all feasible ? Moreover, as ration strongth figures, even if 
correct in themselves, wero deceptive as regards rifle strength 
and combatant numbers, the French people became more 
and more uigent in their desire to see the British front 
grow wider. 

The weiffht of this deception was borne by Hiaig and his 
Qenends. Consider, then, once mote, Haig^s most diffi<mlt 

** The strenuous efforts made bv the British forces during 
1917 had left the Army at a low ebb in regard both to train- 
ing and to numbers. It tons therefore of tkejiret importance, 
in view of th0 eaopected Oemwn ofenaive^ to fill tip ihs n»nJb 
a» rapuuy ae poeeiUe and provide ample faeiUiiee for 

'* So &r as the second of these requirsments was ccaceined, 
two fikcton materially affected the situation* Firrtly, train* 
ing had hitherto beoi primarily devoted to prepatation tor 

• ISm llilki SM sriM^W. S. S. 


ofGonsive operations. Secondly, the necessity for maintftiiwiig 
the front-line systems of defence and the oonstniction of new- 
lines on ground recently captured from the enemy had pre- 
cluded i& development of rear-line systems to any great 

" Under the new conditions the early construction of these 
latter systems, involving the employment of every available 
man on the work, became a matter of vital importance. In 
consequence, it was difficult to carry out any elaborate course 
of training in defensive tactics. On the other hand, in the 
course of the strenuous fighting in 1916 and 1917 great 
developments had taken place in the methods of conductmg a 
defensive battle. It was essential that the lessons learned 
therein should be assimilated rapidly and thoroughly by all 

Compare this position with another >— 

''Meanwhile, in marked contrast to our own position^'' 
says Haig, '' the large reserves in the Western thea^ which 
the enemy was able to create for himself by the transfer of 
numerous divisions from the East, enabled mm to carry out 
extensive training with units completed to establishment. . • . 
In all, at least sixty-four Qerman divisions took part in the 
operations of the first dav of the battle, a number consider- 
ably exceeding the total forces composing the entire British 
Army in France. The majority of tiiese divisions had spent 
many weeks, and even months, in concentrated training for 
offensive operations, and had reached a high pitch of tecniiical 
excellence in the attack." 

Our own men had to snatch a bit of training, so tied were 
ibey by holdin|r the lines and bjr hard toil with spade, pick 
and barbed wire. A lucky division that obtainea two or 
three weeks of trainings like the Ifintk, was helped greatly in 
the batUe. The Thiniidh also, which took over its line on 
Februarv 23, finding the forward zone almost finished, and 
the battie zone well wired, was able to combine training with 
manual toil, attacking sometimes, and sometimes defending, 
trenches in the battie zone dug by its own troops. Counter- 
attacks by brigades, battalioiis, companies, platooxis» were 
worked out as '' Tactical Exercises without Troops,'' in many 
cases down to Section Commanders; and by the troops them- 
selves in the eases of companies and platoons. On itarch 21 
and 22 one battalion carried ^out no fewer than ei^ht counter* 
attacks over the actual ground on whidi the^ had previously 

! Vol. IL, pp. 178^79. 


been reheaned. In six of tiieae attadcB they took prisonen 
and recovered lost lines. 

And the artillery of the Thirtieth was fortunate also. In 
January and February it was out of the line for nearlv six 
weeksy wid weather and oountryside being very good, for 
exereise, field training was constantly practised, with excellent 
results. Indeed, after their division had been pushed from its 
forward zone, its BJL did not lose a gun in profuse rearguard 
fighting, though it kept dose to the infantry, often limbering 
up after the infantry had passed throuffiL 

What a blessing it would have been if everv British division 
could have been trained as thoroughly as the German units 
were 1 With us manual toU was the first essential 

** All available men of the fighting units, with the exception 
of a wy small proportion undergoing tiaimng, and all labour 
units, were employed on these [pre^antion] iSkjk Though the 
time wnd labau/r availabU were tn no Vfay adeauaie, if, as 
tDos euepected, (he enemy intended to eommenee hie qfieneive 
cperalione in the eoHy spring , a large portion of the work 
woe in fact completed before the enemy la/wnehea hie great 
attacL That so much was accomplished is due to the untiring 
energy of all ranks of the fighting units, the Transportation 
Service, and the Labour Corps.'' * 

What have Ministers to say in their defence 7 And their 
military advisers in London 7 What excuses or explanations 
have they to offer 7 

It is a national duty to press these auestions, since war 
devours the most virile young men while leaving middle-aged 
politicians in safety. 

• Vol. U., pp. 119-180. 




UNDER contemporary war conditions the usual weak- 
nesses of statesmanship are likely to increase, 
because it is almost impossible to tell the people 
frankly about any need or danger by which the 
reputations of leading statesmen are compromused. In the 
autumn of 1917, Press correspondents at the front knew that 
our combatant strength had shrunk far too mudi, but they did 
not know how this vital fact could be printed and published. 
George A. B. Dewar says, for instance : — * 

''I came to the condusion, before the first week of the 
battie was ended (ie. the battle of Cambrai, which beean on 
November 20, 1917), that we wanted many more men for our 
work in France ; but, though I tried hard to state this in print, 
I was not allowed to do so. Authority would not allow me. 
But I was able — as an indifferent second best— to get into 
print before the battie was quite over, a statement mat . . . 

* 13ie British force, with the material at its disposal, has done 
great things by the well-prepared and suddcoily administered 
stroke of uxe HmsD Abmt • • •' This was absolutely true. 

** More men — ^this was our aching want at Cambrai, before 
Gambrai, after Gambral (The munitions were all right 
Thanks to the working classes at home, these goods were 
delivered.) Coming over on the boat from France on one 
occasion, I travelled with a member of the War Cabinet, and 
ventured to say this to him. He mused, as if fhinlring aloud: 
' The man-power question is becoming pressing ' ; but added, 

* unfortunately, when we do find more men they are lost' 
Passchendaele and the later Flanders fights were in his mind. 
The casualties were heavy there. But that is war. 

''When I returned to England I tried hiud to 

• <«AYoii]i0erSoB." By Oeotsa A. B. Dtwar, Chant Biohaidf, Loodon, 
1990, pi«e 187. 



this question ; for I dreaded what might happen in 1918 in 
ease of a ffreat Qerman offensive — and what aetoally did 
h^pen on March 21, 1918. Bat I was nnsuceessfa]. Then 
how I wished I had a paper of my own to press the matter 
home week after week, even day after day I I found the 
terrible delusion prevalent that we had any amount of men but 
no generalship, no light and leading. One gentleman to whom 
I mentioned our urgent need replied that he could not give me 
leave to agitate the question. If at any time we really were 
in want of more men in France, all Haig needed to do was to 
turn his cavalry into infantry. Fancy 1 one little Cavalry 

In war every one pays lip-service to Truth while showing 
all day long th^ Truth is a peril to be evaded for the nation^ 
flood ! How easy it is to sajr that veracity will encourage the 
foe, or dishearten our own civilians, or depress our troops in 
the field, or offend our allies, or be nustaken for a want of 
patriotism, or do harm to a statesman whom we like, or make 
mischief in some other way. After the Armistice a wounded 
Tommy said, *' They tell me weVe pulled through at last all 
right 'cause our propergander told better lies than the German. 

So I say to mysdf, * If tellin' lies is so JE'^^ ^ ^^^^» ^^7 

should tellin' truth be good in peace 7 

Ludendorff speaks enviously of our propaganda, so it must 
have been effective; but yet m many ways it recoiled as a 
boomeranff and hit our best interests badly, as it did by 
inviting tne world to mistake our ration strength figures for 
combatant power. Another mistake was to talk so much about 
the German Scrap of Paper when neutral nations remembered 
our treatment of Denmark in 1864, and knew how unprepared 
we were in 1914 to fulfil with success our obligation to Belgium, 
whose invasion had been foreseen by General Jofbe as well 
as by Lord Roberts. In the midst of all this camouflage talk, 
how could statesmen ask in good time for an extension of 
compulsory service? After an invited tragedy had passed 
through its first act, they were obliged to extend the age limit, 
and to-day the result is evident. The people's hatred of 
conscription is £ur greater than it ever was in pre-war days. 
After tne Tpres salient campaign, with its vast losses . Ministers 
had reason to say, partly in seu«defence, '' When we did find 
mora men they were lost'* But they should have added that 
when a nation declines to prepare herself for a long-threatened 
war, and starts to improvise nuge armies after war has "been 
declared, glorious young lives by the tens of thousands must 



be thrown away before enough ezperienoe and training can be 
collected from battles and eampaigna The youth of our 
Empire had to serve an apprenticeship under fire of three 
horrible years— 1915, 1916, 1917. Did any eain on the 
Western Front offset the blood cost of this awfm apprentice- 
ship ? And do many politicians consider this question side by 
side with the pre-war follies ? * 

Notiiing is better worth consideration while an austere 
cenotaph to the Dead is heins built, for this monument should 
mark national remorse as weU as national gratitude, since the 
Dead have among them a vast number of lads who in pre- 
war days were too boyish to care for any party game plajred 
with votes as counters. 

Sorrow for slain boys may have been among the reasons 
that detained some 200,000 troops in the Britbh Isles while 
Ludendcnrff was prepared for his immense blow. Many 

S arsons have said : ^ The reserves at home were mainlv lads, 
ow could Ministers send them into battle unless a bad crisis 
demanded a wholesale sacrifice of boyish lives ? " 

Tes, these boys were not among the voters who paid no 
heed to Qerman warnings : and if Ministers remembered this 
fact, and were guided by its abidine j^thos, they have one 
good reason to offer for Hair's riskfuT difficulties. 

On tiie seventh day of the battle, March 27, Colonel 
Repington said in the Morning Post : — 

'* I do not wish to refer now to the terrible reqKmsibilities 
which our War Cabinet have incurred by their past blundere 
and neglect. The moment of returning to this subject has 
not yet come. Nothing that they can do now can retrieve 
for many months to come the £ftults of omission and com- 
mission which lie at their door. But I hope, in theit* natural 
anxiety to appear to be doing something and to be busy, they 
will not commit fresh follies. / ahomd ooThrider ii a folly 
to throw into this hoilvn^ ca/idd/ron of a grecU batUe ihe yau4hs 
between eighteen and mTieteenT^ow in training at home.** f 

Many thousands of these boy troops were sent at once to 
France; very soon the age limit was extended; and pro- 
pagandists told us with pride how losses at the front were 
being promptly balanced by reserves ! 

How amaring is the drama of British politics. Generation 

* IiodtDdorfl notes what • gnat many perBons hftv« noted— Uml Aillid 
loeees show a heavier percentage than the German, usnally much beaTier in 
dead. In war thorongh training Is a sort of hall-effectual lifebelt. 

t My itaUos.— W. S. S. 


after generation a Bimilar sort of eloquent statesmanship 
carries the political milk cans with a similar carelessness; 
and as soon as inevitable bad waste occurs, most people say 
in defence of it^ " Accidents will happen, of coarse, so let ns 
not weep or swear over spilt milk I As though the words 
" spilt milk " in matters of life and death were not a synonym 
for ** causes/' which, like bad wounds healed into scars, have 
at their best effects of an enduring sort. 

Every nation condones her own wrong acts and tragic 
blunders, perhaps more readily than she remembers those 
committed by her foes ; and eveiv political party in a State 
magnifies its rival's mistakes and sins while practising for- 
giveness towards its own. And have you ever asked yourself, 
and answered frankly, the terrible question : '* U there had 
been no German crimes gradually to drive neutral after 
neutral into the Allied cause, by what human means could 
the original Entente Powers, Kussia excepted, have been 
rescued from their own mistakes?'* No question in our 
history is more searchiuK than this one. In the years to 
come historians will dwell on it when they study tne awfal 
events of ICaroh, 1918, and many another battle. The tragedy 
of being Too Late, of being unprepared for a long-Uireatened 
war, had evil consequences which only future generations will 
know completely. . . . 

Progress remains a halt-footed adventurer that revisits old 
tra^^edies ; and those who pay in blood for this routine, 
penodicaUy and by instalments, are soldiers and saUors, 
young enough to bear immense dangers under conditions 
which would kill middle-aged politicians. 

It is neceosary thus to unite Uie second Somme battle 
and the Fifth Arkt to those ample nermanent issues which 
should always be present in written hbtories of a great war. 
The origin of St Quentin's Week goes back to the year 1864, 
when our country, by declining to fulfil her obligations to 
Denmark, helped to start Prussia along a wide, smooth it)ad of 
purposeful a gg r e ss i on. 

Is it possible that the great need of laige reinforeements 
on the Western Front was misunderstood by Ministers, as in 
Mr. Bonar Law's speech ? If so, why and now did the mis- 
understanding ariHC 7 Was the Prime Minister's mind fixed 
.HO confidently on Palestine, and Mesopotamia, and Salonika, 


that it could not see in focus the Western problems and 

Eiril ? In bis speech at Leeds, December 7, 1918, the Prime 
inister spoke]; with a zest akin to schoolboyish levity about 
'^ side-shows," as though unmindful of his Cabinet's associa- 
tion with the awful events of March. " If we had dropped 
the side-shows," he said, ^ the war would not have been over 
to-day. Turkey fell, Bulgaria fell, then Austria fell; and 
Qermany said, 'Here, they are all gone; it is time we 
stopped ' — ^and they are marching back as hard as they can." 
Joyous actor ! As Ludendorff's offensive very nearly won the 
war, light-hearted prattle about side-shows should come from 
young joumalistsy and not from Ministers who left Haig 
disastrously short of men. 

And consider another point. If Ministers awaited the 
arrival of American troops rather than ask the people to 
accept an extension of compulsory service, did they fail to 
perceive that the risk they were running was not only very 
vast, but also vast in a way not to be weighed and measured 
by forethought ? 

To make ample allowance for the needs of our war 
industries and for the restlessness of Labour is as easy as it is 
necessary. When Ludendorff struck on March 21, a menacing 
unrest was astir among our coal miners, and the Prime 
Minister went to placate them with another speech, and with 
comments on the huge battle. As a nation we were paying 
penalty for that worship of volunteering which employed 
such endless deceptive talk after real volunteering had been 
displaced by white feathers and newspaper press gangs, 
humiliating posters, and many other phases of vulgar and 
noisy pressure. Labour was very eager to say that British 
volunteers had beaten the German conscripts; and many 
others besides manual workers had precisely the same wish. 
They ventured even to insult their own Allies by declaring 
that a British volunteer was equal in fighting value to at least 
four foreign pressed men. 

As compulsory service increased this mood, this illusion 
about a voluntary service which in a few months ceased to 
be either voluntary or dignified, the Government, between 
Passchendaele and March, 1918, was unluckily situated. If 
its members feared to ask for an extension of conscription, 
then I, for one, would not be surprised; for this fear, if it 
existed, was backed by peremptory needs in our shipyards 
and in many other essential industries. 

For all that, war obligations of a rival sort should be 


weighed and measured fearleaaly, without any hias, becaune 
the decisive test of a war policy is the result it produces. It 
is bad if the results are oad, right if its results are good. 
And this beine the sane and just rule in war, above all when 
war claims mmions of young lives and means the life or the 
death of nations, Ministers and their advisers must needs be 
held responsible for the March retreat and its effects. They 
alone could supply Haig with enough combatant strength. 

Among the nuger effects which historians cannot fail to 
note is the fiust that the Entente Powers, after March, 1918, 
became dependent on American troops, who were hurried 
across 3000 miles of sea in the manner described by Mr. Lloyd 
George: —  

'^ I need not tell you about March 21, how, when the great 
crisis came, men were hurried across the ChanneLf I shall 
never forget that morning when I sent a cable to President 
Wilson, telling him what the facts were, and how it was 
essential that we should get American help at the speediest 
possible rate: inviting him to send 120,000 infantry and 
machine-gunners per month to Europe. If he did that, wo 
would do our beist to help to carry them. I sent that 
telegram, and the following day came a reply from President 
Wilson. ' Send your ships across, and we will send 120,000 
men.' Then I mvited Sir Joseph Maclay, the Shipping 
Controller, to 10, Downing Street, and said : * S&nd every 
thip you can.* They were all engaged in essential trades, 
because we were cut down right to the bone. There was 
nothing that was not essentiaL We said : ' This %$ the time 
for Wcmg risks.' We ran rieka with owr food, W0 ftm 
riake with essential raw maJteruds. We said : ' The thing 
todoistoget tfiese men acrosa at all hazard,' America sent 
1,900,000 men across, and out of that number, 1,100,000 
were carried by the British Mercantile Marine." 

Thb vivid story is dramatic, but far from pleasant, and far 
also from completeness, as it makes no reference to Oough and 
Byng, whose armies, as Haig has said : — 

" held up the German attack at all points for the greater part 
of two oays, thereby rendering a service to their country and 
to the Allied cause, the viSue of which cannot be over- 
estimated* Thereafter, through many days of heavy and 
continuous rearguard fighting, they succeeded in presenting a 
barrier to the enemy's advance until such time as the arrival 

* In s speeoh si Leada, DMWiber 7, 191S. 

t Cottld Vollsir* hsT* wrlllso s more ejnkaX MBlsaoa ifaao ihli? 


of British and French reinfoicements enabled his progress to 
be checked." * 

It is all very well for Mr. Lloyd Geor^ to relate how he 
acted while the Fifth Abmt was grwphng against a world 
of odds, but a cable to President Wilson could not have 
been effectual if Qough and his few divisions had permitted 
themselves to be overwhelmed. Besides^ Belgium was still 
enslaved, and we set out to rescue her without any thought 
of help from the U.S JL. 

President Wilson, too, has given his own account of the 
wonderful way in which American troops were poured into 
Europe:- ^ F» F- 

"A year ago [1917] we had sent 145,918 men overseas. 
Since then we have sent 1,950,513, an average of 162,542 
each month, the number, in fact, rising in May last (1918) to 
245,951, in June to 278,760. in July to 807,182, and 
continuing to reach similar figures in August and September 
—in August 289,570, and in September 257,438. 

" No such movement of troops ever took place before across 
3000 miles of sea^ followed oy adequate equipment and 
supplies, and carried safely through extraordinary dangers 
which were alike strange and infinitely difficult to guard 
against In all this movement only 758 men were lost by 
enemy attack, 630 of whom were upon a single English 
transport^ which was sunk near the Orkney Islands. 

" I need not tell you what lay at the back of this sreat 
movement of men anJ material. ^It is not invidious to*^ 
that at the back of it lay a supporting organization of the 
industries of the country and of all of its pn^luotive activities 
more complete, more thorough in the method and effective in 
result^ more spirited and unanimous in purpose and effort 
than any other ^at belligerent had been able to effect/' 

These speedies by President Wilson and Mr. Lloyd 
George have been hidden as much as possible by propagandists. 
After prolonged war it is never difficult to hide deep un- 
pleasant matters from a single generation, for ordinary 

* VoL ii., p. 386. Hklg impoin the historic ynljte of thiB teatimony by 
putting the Fifth and Tedbd Abmibs on the same level towards the grafcitade 
of the Entente Powers. He begins by saying : ** On the Slst Sfaroh the troops of 
the FiFKR and Thibd Abmxbb had thec^ory of sustaining the first and heaviest 
blow of the Oerman ofiensive. Though assailed by a oonoentcation of hostile 
forces which the enemy might well have oonsidered overwhebnisg, etc, etc." 
This implies that great odds were active against the Thibd Abict, whereas the 
plain truth is that Byng's battle was a very prolonged Waterloo in which 
Bvngwu weU-manned for a defensive grapple with contemporary weapons. 
The FOFTR Abmt's ordeal was vastly heavier and more terrible. 


peraons hav* very little gnup on caiues and effects, even &om 
the natural temper of their minds. They do not look at 
Uiings aa part of a whole, and often will sacrifioe the most 
important and precious parts of a great historic lesson, or 
admonition, from mere simplicity and want of ^)prehension. 
To them a battle is no more than a militwy stady of 
fighting ; they pass over its many side issaes and its aftermath, 
whose ultimate oonseqoenoes are often more important than 
the battle's upe and downs. 




WHAT is the worst result of political or offioial 
injustice ? 
This phase of injustice forms widespread 
myths as tenacious as quitch grass ; breeds in its 
defence a party temper which, like fanaticism, seems unable 
to tell the truth ; and its partisans try to keep a whole 
nation in a false position overswept by cross-currents of 
unrest. These are shabby, low-bred evils^ but yet we do 
not find amons them the very woist. 

Why is it uiat political injustice, after it has been accepted 
as equity by a great many simple persons, is extremely bard 
to reach by those who attack it with facts ? There are two 
reasons, and when they are united they compose the very 
worst evil bred by poutical unfairness. Mr. Lloyd Qeorge 
found it easy to be fluent about the cries for help that he sent 
across 8000 miles of sea to President Wilson, and could 
speak calmly of the reserves which were sent to Haig after a 
great crisis, long foreseen, had come ; but how many words of 
gratitude did he offer in the same speech to the young troops 
under Gough and Byng who enabled Ludendorff to mourn 
over the miscarriage of great strategical aims ? No such 
word appeared in Press reports of his eloquence. Is this to be 
the perennial mood of mind bred and fostered by politics ? 

No person can run counter to it without seeming to be an 
advocate, for every statesman belongs to a party, and 
advocacy is distrusted by those — and they are very numerous 
— ^who hate and shun the work of "makmg up their minds." 
Instead of deciding when to say Tes or No to a difficult 
question, they compromise weakly and say : '* Well, there's no 
smoke without fire, you know. In this case, perhaps, a good 
lot might be said for and against both sides. Who knows — 



and who cares ? It's two years old and more. Good Lord I 
Whv bother?" 

No matter how impartial fiMst-giving opponents to political 
injostioe may be, their attack is certain to have warmth in it, 
since injustice ehovld be hated ; and this warmth is noted at 
once by the astnte devotees of injustice, who say, in speech 
and in print, ** Here's the advocacy of over-sealoos firiends ! " 

Then there's another troublesome hindrance. A great 
many persons who have accepted an injustice as a truthful 
thing do not read published fiftcts by wmch it is shown up ; 
so they continue innocently to support the injustice. A full 
year alter the second Somme battle a man told me that the 
Third Armt would never have lost a yard had it not been 
''let down" by Gough and his troops. I asked this man, 
whose voice was educated, to read Haig's dispatch and to 

Sip the battle on correct maps through a few honest days, 
e shrugged his shoulders, smiled at me with irony, and said : 
^lyyou remember Lloyd Geoi^'s speech in Parliament? 
When did he go away from its plain statements ? ** 

What national Justice needs is a court of inquiry which 
would be evenly mir and thorough towards Byng, Gough, 
O.H.Q., and the Government 


A French artist and scout, Paul M. Maae, wrote as follows 
some weeks after the battle : — 

'' General Gough's name alone was sufficient to rally men 
falling asleep after eight days' fighting. . . . Some remnants 
of some of his divisions still remain mixed up with the 
French. They have been told to go back and retire 100 
yards behind the front line. As soon as they hear the rattle 
of the machine-guns, they come up again and line up with 
the French. I could tell vou heaps of wonderful tales about 
these men, and trust one day to have the opportunity of doing 
sa • . • What trash has been uttered . • . and what useless 
words in front of the work which remains to be done.** 

Another soldier, writing to a Divisional Commander, 
says: — 

''I shall never forset the morning he [General Gouffh] 
went away. I met and saw him and nad quite a lonff enat 
with him idone. Then we all said good-bye to him, and gave 
him a send-off with a guard of 200 signallers with the 
Artillery School Band playing ' Auld Lang Syne.* I tell you 


it was an effort to keep back one's tears that day ; for one 
felt how one was losing not only a great friend, but also a 
Conunander who knew how to command, and whom one 
could have followed jnst anywhere." 

It was at about 4.30 p.nL on Thursday, March 28, that 
Gou^ handed his command to Bawiinson. Haig says : — 

''The nature of the fighting on the southern portion of the 
battle-front, where our troops had been engaged for a full 
week with an almost overwhelming superiority of hostile 
forces, had thrown an exceptional strain upon the Fifth 
Abmt Commander and his Staff. In order to avoid the loss 
of efficiency which a oontinuanoe of such a strain might have 
entailed, I decided to avail myself of the sendees of the Staff 
of the FoxTBTH Armt, which was at this time in reserve. 
General Sir H. S. Rawlinson, Bt., who had but recently ^ven 
up the command on appointment to Versailles, accordingly 
returned to his old army, and at 4.30 p.m. on this day 
assumed command of the British forces south of the Somme. 
At the same time the construction of new defence lines made 
necessary by the enemy's advance called for the appointment 
of an able and experienced Commander and Stall to direct 
this work and extemporize garrisons for their defence. I 
accordingly ordered GenenS Gough to undertake this 
important task.'' 

This explanation comes from the chivalry of a noble- 
minded soldier; but chivalric explanation cannot dismiss 
from public knowledge and talk several familiar facts ; aa^ for 
example, that Sir Hubert Gough was not emjployed again in the 
war, Decause he was suspended by the political party spirit. 

Let us be glad that battle-maps, when true, are blunts 
impartial historians to be trusted entirely. The terrific 
power of the German attack in March, 1918, is revealed by 
comparing the ground lost by two British armies ; one on a 
forty-two miles front and perilously short of enough troops ; 
and the other on a twenty-seven miles fronts with only 
one division less in line and a much laxger reserve. Any 
frank, impartial mind, after studying correct maps of the 
retreat made by these armies, will be brought by the logic of 
cause and effect to a simple argument. 

''Both armies belong to 3ie same Empire and contain 
divisions of the same mettle, but the Guards are with Byng, 
and most of the British Empire reinforcements go to him 
during the most critical days of the fighting. Both armies 
fight with equal valour ; and since the much stronger army 


on the mueh narrower front is compelled by the foe's power 
to retreat in five days from Flesqui^res salient almost to 
Hamel-snr-Ancre and Thiepval, aboat 22 miles, how comes it 
that the mncb weaker army on the moch wider front is not 
swallowed up in these five days by the same German power ? 

" In these five days» again, the deepest loss of groond on 
the weaker army's front is aboat 25 mues, from the south-east 
of Urvillers west to the east of Hattenoourt Is the German 
attack more numerous and more strenuous in its onslani^t on 
Byn^s troops ? No, it is at its strongest against the weaker 
British forces. What^ then, saves these weaker forces from 
being overwhelmed ? It is right and timely and much superior 
generalship ? What else can it be f " 

Nothing else is visible. Nothing else is probable. For in 
a long battle against great odds right generalship is an 
incessant reinforcement by which the linger aspects and 
results are determined; rieht generalship in brigades, 
divisions, corps and army orders. To this conclusion eyerv 
impartial ana truthful mind must arrive after studying ail 
evidence now known ; the best part of this evidence being 
that which makes oonect battle-maps» not debatable opinions 
and belie&. It needs neither excuses nor apologies ; m curt 
and plain fiMsts it passes judgment while acting as a cold 

Ludendorff and his verv able Generals won a great many 
acres from Gough, but what large strategic aims did they 
make real ? None ! They failed to make an operative break- 
through at every place where annihilation of Gough's defence 
was essential to their plan of campaign* Ludendorff says : 
*' While in the defence the [QermanJ forces in a given sector 
were more evenly distributed, in the attack the problem toos 
to diacover wme deciaive wint and anrmge the diepositions 
accorditigly *' (vol. ii., p. 573). Well, he chose Gough's front— 
the centre battle, as he calls it — because " the weakest part 
was on both sides of St Quentin," and he " was inflnenoed by 
the time factor and by tactical considerations, first among 
them being the weakness of the enemy " (voL iL, p. 690). But 
yet» after choosing his decisive point for a vast offensive, ud 
after finding th^ this known weak point in the British 
defence had become weaker through the parching effects of 
dry weather on the Gise and its marshes, as on the Somme, 
Ludendorff discovered that his Carpentier attacks could be 
baffled by the Jimmy Wilde defence of the Firra Abmt. No 
Cset in British battles is more notable than this one, and I 


dare to doubt whether there is one so notable^ an attaek of 
more than three against one along forty-two miles of front 
being unique^ particularly when we remember that the front 
widened as the salient's arc grew ampler. 

Only at one place did the foe's enormous efforts lead on in 
swift sequence to another advance ; and this one place was 
very much nearer to Byng's front than to Gough's — at 
Armentik'es and in the Lys Valley, and thus in one of those 
northern sectors which on March 21 were most strongly 
defended because of their nearness to the coast. 

Surely we have a right to know why Sir Hubert Gough, 
with several of his Generals, was withdrawn from further 
active service in the War ? Was it because a loss of ground 
accompanied his invaluable work ? No. Byng also lost ground, 
considerably more in depth per brigade of man-power than 
Gough ; and his services were retained on the Western front — 
justly retained, unless British Gtenerals are to be suspended 
whenever they are obliged to bend in order to avoid 

It is easy for impartial students to see that the FlFTfi 
Abict possessed a Commander who knew what his men 
should be expected to achieve ; when and where they should 
be able to stand, and where and when they must £bl11 back to 
evade annihilation. Only a man endowed with imaginative 
sympathy, as well as with rare self-control, could have seen 
and felt from dav to day, swiftly and correctly, a convulsed 
and threatened une always too wide and far too thinly 
defended along all sectors. Every sector of his front was 
a patient in a high fever; the Commander had to be to 
it as a physician ; and if he had ordered things unfit for its 
remaining strength, a few miles of suffering would have 
broken for ever, and a column of German troops would have 
been free to pass through. 

Would an inferior General have seen with his imagination 
the whole vddening battle-front^ with its remnant brigades 
and divisions? I cannot believe so. He would have pT&> 
scribed for patients whom his mind did not see, whose 
physical and moral state he could not apprehend; would 
have asked always for too much, arguing to himself that 
G.H.Q. and all folk at home would certainly expect what he 
did demand frx)m his men ; and thtis, by failing to be in full 
sympathy with his troops in their limitless ordeal by battle, 
he would have lost all by striving to get impossible results. 

And there is another point of very great value. In 


modem war an Army Commander aits and thinks and gives 
orders, but the execution of his ideas passes at onee from his 
hands. On the battlefield he has interpreters, and if they 
fiidl his ideas are lost, no matter how great they may b& 

Now G.H.Q. could do but little for the Fifth Abmt after 
supplying it with a burden of risks. Even two of the three 
reserve infantry divisions were not on the FmH Abxt's 
front when the battle began, so anxious was Haig about 
fronts nearer the coast So Oough and his GenenUs and 
their few divisions had to win through the worst days with 
their own united promptness and apt endurance. Army 
orders would have oeen futile if they had been misapplied 
in the field. Gou^ and his Army were one, then,and would 
be one in our gratitude. 

Marlborough was ruined by the indecisive campaign of 
1711, and in 1809 WeUington was all but ruined by the 
retreat from Talavera; for the British people, despite their 
fighting temperament, have little miUtuy intuition or 
judgment, ana are apt to attach too much value to deceptive 
phnses coined by political leaders. But in the long run 
they are loyal to their men of action, and make ample amends 
for past unfairness and ingratitude. 

Finallv, the wrong &ne to the Firra Armt and its 
Commanmr came wholly from politicians and their mis- 
advisers. Hi^, of course, had nothing to do with the misdeed 
that closed a nmous general's career in the War, while with- 

holding from him the right of appealmg to a court-martial. 
I note, too, that our CSommander-m-Chief in his final disnUch, 
when reviewing what he owes to his most notable officers, 
dwells with pnde on the varied and great services of Sir 
Hubert Oougn : — 

''I desire to associate with them fie. the five Army 
Commanders at the dose of the War] the names of General 
Sir Charles Monro, who left the command of the FiBST 
Abmt to assume the Chief Command in India ; of General 
Sir Edmund Allenby, who, after conducting the operations of 
the TmRD Army in the battie of Arras, 1917, has since led 
our arms to victory in Palestine; and General Sir Hubert 
Goi^h, who, after distinguished service as a Brigade, 
Divisional and Corps Commander, commanded the Iifth 
Abut (first known as the Resbbvb Abmt) during the battles 
of the Somme and Anere in 1916, east of Ypres m 1917, and 
finalljr in the great and gallant &;ht of Maittn, 1918, the story 
of which is freah in the minds ofalL^ 


▲namxa, 61, 994 

AUftlnMTalto, 191, 197. 974 


AiniMn, BriiUh, 90-98, 74, 998 

AlniiMi, OsniiMi, 91, 93,74, 104, 119, 

168, 907, 910 
AliplftM ooDted Mtroli, 91, 906 
AiMOoart, 174, 188 
•• Albtfioh lCoTom«it,*' 11 
Albert, 104, 187, 188, 191, 198 
AlberVBnj Una, 966 «< mo. 
Allenby, OenenU Sir Eamand, 86, 

AIUm dapendaot on AmerioMi i«- 

InloroemMito, 801, 809, 810 
AUM kMMi hmwiM than ih« Qtf- 

man, 806 
Amarioa. Ste United 8to(« 
Amerion aid, Mr. Lloyd G«orgo 

oriM out for, 9^, 990, 309 
Amarioan engineeti, 98 
AmjH^n^n troops, 806, 809, 810 
ArniMM, 74, 98, 94, 119, 115, 116, 121, 

199, 181, 184, 136, 187, 189, 196, 

" At aU eofto," 179, 178, 994, 946 


Atlftok on AriM, 195 ti 9§q, 

AUilly, 79 

Anberaoort, 188, 184 

Anbigny, 84 

Anbin, Oaptain J. F. G., lU 

Anstnlian deleneai, 18 

AiutraUan troops, 86, 101, 188, 141, 

Aastria-Hongary, 48 
Auftrlan vtUlfiry, 46 
AadliaiT trooft, Qermnn, 66, 190 
Avalny wood, 978 

Atk bridgttfaMd, 96, 95 
Atto BiT«r, 184, 918, 986 
Ayatta, 974 

B Battxbt, the etory of, 906, 904 
Balnbridge, Sir B. G. T., 160 
BMunoft, Ueut., 168 
BapannM-ArcM, battle of, 186 
Bapaome, 69, 68, 186, 188, 149, 161, 

Bapanme-Cambrai road, 150, 168, 

Baraetre, 980 
Barlda, 86, 50, 96, 988 
Barlenx, U8, 116, 116, U7, 118, 910, 

Baeeett, Umt., 69 
Baeneox, 187. 918 
Battle of Pioardy, Fraoob nama lor 

Hutler'i atlaok, 80 
Battle sona, the, 11, 19, 146, 178 
BatUee, nodeni, their foor parti or 

periode, 8, 4 
176, 188, 199, 196, 908, 911, 998» j Battlee,]nodam,betweenfUriy eqwU 

foroet, 196, 810 

Ancre Biver, 116,. 187, 190, 191, 198 
Anore line In peril north-weet of 

Albert, 187, 191, 198, 967>971 
Anrtey, Oolooel, 191 
Armentiteee, 196. 999, 816 
Armv GomniaBdecs no longer ejre- 

witneiMe, 8 
Army Serrice Com, 996 
Arrae, 148, 146, 1& it sm., 198, 918 
Art of retreating, 19, 90, 84. 89, 90. 

Artillery, 78, 95, 106, 108, 109, 119, 

117, 194, 181, 144, 168, 168, 174, 

Artillery prooedore. Hew German, i BayonTlllen, 181 

66,67 I Baaentln, 188, 186, 199 

ArriUere, 986 Beale-Biowne's oolnmn, 971 

A«|alth. Mr. H. H.. 990, 993 , Bea4WDdUM on potttka, 997 

AMavUlem. 119, 118, 116, 117, 190, Beauootirt^nr-Anere, 190 
919 . Beauooort, near Medina, 988 





BaraBmi, 990, 966 

Be«im0te, 148, ISO, 159, 160, 179 

Beamnoiii-Haaiel, 191 

Beaavoii, 98, 950 

m co uft , 971 

B6et«a0K fMtoriM, 194, 166, 178 

BflMiim*0 OKpftMtj, 810 

Bell; Gftpti^, 197 

BelHngham, Bri^dier, 196 

Below, Otto Ton, Gonmuuider of the 

BmvmKTMMWTB Obbmav Abmt, 6, 

40, 186, 149, 148, 146, 187, 196, 196, 

Below Mxd Manriti, ihdr joint 

atteokB, 148-168, 169-167, 168>198 
Ben* J, 74, 78. 96 
Bennett, Major Herbert, ^Foorth 

Oxford and Book's Ugbt Infontiy, 

Bemafaj Wood, 188, 191, 199 
Bemet, 88, 161, 170 
Bethenooort, 111, 984 
Bererler, Oaptein, 169, 996, 998 
Bevlfla,]ileat., 168 
Biaoliee, 101, 119, U8, 910 
Bihnoonrt, 190 
Bilton, Oolonel, 986 
Birdwood, Ooneral Sir W. B., 196 
Blaok Watoh, 144, 184 
Bl6oher, 981, 289 
Boelm, General Yon, SBYmnee Gbb- 

Mijr Abmt, 40, 48, 64, 99, 96, 97 
Boie dee Beearti, 916 
Bois FMtoe, 191, 199 
Bois de Mareoil, 918 
Boif St. Pierre Yaasi, 188, 178, 181 
Bois des Vanx, 188 
Bolsherlim in Gorman Arm j, 49 
Bombardnwmt^ a terrible, opians the 

battle on ICaroh 91, 1918...64-^ 
Bonar Law, 998, 994, 807 
Boraston, Lient-Colonal J. EL, Haig's 

private secretary, 186 
Borderlands norui and south of 

Byng's Army, 136-146, 146-168, 

169-167, 176-198 
Borderlands north and south of 

Vermand-Amiens road, 100-190, 

Borrett, Brindier, 117, 188 
Bosanqnet, Captain, 119 
BoQchayesnes, 188, 176, 178, 180 
Booohoir, 986, 987, 986, 986 
BoooIt, 109, 107, 161 
Bonndflury uniting Gongh and Byng, 

186, 187, 188, 140, 141, 149, Itt, 

169, 176, 178, 179, 180, 182, 184, 


BouffeVf 197 

Boyd, B.G.G.& of 6th Corps, 179 


Bray-Albert line, 966 ei $m, 

Bcay-sor-Somme, 114, 118, 186, 187, 

Braaoh of Byng's eentre, 186, 187, 

188, 189, 190, 196 
B ra aoh of Groan line, Nobeaooort 

Aon, 164, 168, 170 
Breaking an old military rule, 976, 

Brmdl, 984, 989 
Bridgsheads, 84 
Brid^ destruotUm of, 17, 18, 84, 

89, 109, 110, 171, 986, 994 
Biio, 84, 100, 109, 109, 119, 116, 948 
Brigade-Major's adventure, 909, 910 
Brigide of Seamd DtnaiOH truis- 

ferred for a while to the Nmih, 

166, 167 ; it retreats without orders, 

178, 179, 180 
Brigsde Staff at Harbonnltees» 

episode of, 197-199 
Brigades, British, deprivad of one 

battalion apieoe, 76 
Briquoterie, 199 
Britain's pre-war self-neo^leot, its 

horrible results, 909, 906 
British Army in Franoe, March 91, 

its total strength, 88, 84, 279, 801 
British boundaries. Corps and 

Divisional, their unfortunate slope 

south-west, 109 
British oombatlveness, 906, 907 
British Corps, those in the Fzvih 

Abxt. S€$ the Order of Battle 
British Mercantile Marine, 809 
British feeling s^pdnst retreats. 89, 90 
Bbftzsh Fibst Abmt, 86, 196 
British Gkyvemment, its aUitude to 

Haig's dispatoh, 6 
British guns fire on British troops, 

118, 994, 984 
British losses omitted from official 

reports and dispatches, 169, 964 
British officers, their chatty candour, 

Brouchy, 84 
Brown, Lieut., 197 
Brown Line Defence System, 146, 

160, 169, 162, 164, 166 
Bmchmftller, Colonel, famous artil- 
lery expert, 64 
Buohan, John, Lieut.-Colonel, 146, 

169, 182, 227 
Bncquoy, 187, 190, 191, 968, 970, 974 
Buire, 102, 970, 271 
Bulgaria haranses Ludendorll, 49 



Bailor Oftpteio, 164 

Bort*8 Foroe, il7 

BuaUU, Ooloiul, 851 


Batter, Lieiii.-G«Deral Sir a H. K., 
OomiiMndar of 8rd Oorn, iliftllMid 
80,000 jMdfl of Tim front on 
Ooogh's right, 6. 19, 60, 74, 76, 80, 
81, 01, 118^ 914, 976, 988 

Byng, the ttrsngth of hlM Army, 
6, 6, 84, 86, 108, 104; his rotre«t 
to the Anore, 116, 118; reoelTee 
troope from the Firb Abmt, 86, 
199, 187, 968-966 ; tappraerion of 
feete in Byng's bettie, 6, 186, 187, 
966-974 ; hli right wing's drema, 
187. 188, 189, 140, 141, 144, 166, 
166, 174, 176, 177, 189, 184, 166, 
186, 198 ; emploTi 81 dHkione on 
the first dfty, 147 ; his bftttle sone 
Ininded, 147, 148 ; Heig's eoooont 
of Byng's first dfty, 148, 149 ; }dM 
seoood dey, 160-161 ; nisled bj a 
oonjeotnre, 166. 167; oannot be 
grstefol enonsh to the South 
Afrioftn Brigeoe,! 189; oentre of 
his Armj broken, 188, 187, 190, 
191,198; his 6th Corps reinfoned 
bj QoQgh's northern troops, 186, 
198, 968-966; his ordeel e pro- 
longed WMerloo, 196; his greet 
defsnoe of Ams, 196 §i sea. ; his 
traaUes, 958-966 

Ojhab, JqUqs, 190 

Oehin of the Seoond Mnnsten, 

Ceiz, 116, 199, 180, 189, 986, 987 
Cembr»i, 91, 189 
OempbeU, BCeJor-Qeneml D. Q. M., 

<vifnmending tlie TwmUy-fini D., 

148, 168, 164, 167, 161, 185 
^^nm^Uw betteriiM, 90 
OmedisB oe^rairy, 918 
Oenedisn rsilwmy englneefs, 119 
Genel da Kord, 188, 147, 174, 176, 

Oennj-sor-Uete, 91 
Gerey's Force, so celled, 119, 193, 


Cerpen Oopss, 101, 167, 161 
Oerter . OempbeU, M^or > Qenerel 

O. T. 0., oomtnendhig the Fifty^ 

fini D., TmBD Abmt, 148 

Oesueltiss, British end Oermeo, 81, 
68, 86, 86, 88, 91, 96, 101, 109, 106, 
160, 164, 160, 179, 178, 176, 189, 
194, 909, 907, 911, 990t 998, 964, 

Oetelat Velley, 907 

Oelor, Hejor-Qensrel A. B. B., 
Oowmender of the Fiftv^hih 
D., on Ooogh's estrsoie ri|^t, 85 

Oenlelnooart, 88, 96, 109, 104, 105, 
106, 108, 100, 170 

Oevmlry, British, 199, 918, 914-991, 

Oevelry, Oenedien, 918 

Qmylrj cesoelties, 217, 916 

Oevehry, Qeimen, 40, 984 

Oevelry in modem wer, veiue of, 91d, 


Oentre fighting, the, 100-190, 191- 

0^^ crisis, 116. 191, 199, 196, 180. 

Ohempegne, 66, 99 

Ohendler of the Second Monsters, 

Ohenndports, 86, 87, 196 
Ohepel mu, 145, 149, 158, 154, 157 
Ohealnes, 99, 115 
Cheony, 50, 85, 98, 97 
Ohemln das Demes, Fdch's defeet, 

(Aevelier dn TUl, 18 

Ohipilly, 89, 199 

Ghrlstien, Oolco^ of the South 

Atricen Brigade, 164, 994 
ClMwioe Bher, M 
demaooaeo, 9, 994 
OI4ry-sor-Somme, 180, 184, 185, 980 
Oochren, Msjor. 996. 998 
Oolbome at Weterloo, 989 
Oolinoempe, 187, 198, 968, 970 
OoUesy, cftvalry et, 990, 991 
OollieEs,thair unrest in Kerch, 1918... 

Oolcgne Blver. 100, 101, 186. 148, 

1607169, 164, 161, 170 
Ooohiess end competence shown by 

Oough's Stefl, 909, 908 
Oooper, lieut., 996, 981 
OombetiYeoMS, British, 906, 907 
Oombe, Oeptein B. P., M.O.. et Le 

Qossaoy, 94 
Oombles, 149, 180, 181, 189, 184, 980 
OompiAgne, 60, 88, 98. 97 
Gonlmnce et Oelelet, Ooogh's, 96-98 
fUm ff ag— ift* fti Doollans. on Merfth 96. 

IS...969, 966, 970, tn 




GonfeMttoeat Hombnrg, Liid«iidorff*B, 

Ooofosion oatued by the misoBe of 

Frenoh reinforeements, 99, 276- 

OoDgreTe, Sir W. N., Y.G., «lc., 

Oommander of tlie 7ih Cksps, 6, 

100, 114, 118, 1SI2, 188, 187, 188, 

145, 150, 15S, 161, 164, 165, 166, 

170, 184, 189, 190, 191, 198, 194, 

195, 224, 260 
OoDMientioiis Oiqecton, 205 
Oonaoription, 205, 805, 808 
Gonta, ueneral von, 51 
Contact atralanea, Gennan, 21, 206 
Gontescourt, 65, 79, 149 
GontestB of mind, 88-89, 40-45 
Gook, Lieat.-Golonel, 215 
GorUa, 122, 128, 194 
Gouoy la YUle, 97 
Oonper, Major-G^eneral Sir Viotor 

Goamr, Gommander of the FoMr- 

toen&D.,76. See also under JVmr- 

Gonioalette, 190 
Gooroellee, 102 
Gieeey, 285, 286, 240, 242 
Groft, Brigadier-General, of the Ninth 

D., 144 
CroisiUee, 58, 148, 160 
Gnriz M<dignenx, 171 
GrooBley, Sergeant, his biaTery, 88 
Grottt Oanal, 76, 81, 88, 84, 85, 96, 

Gogny, 220, 221 

GmnmingB, Brigadier-Qeneral, 188 
Onnnfagnam, lieat., at Bnghien, 72, 

Gnrln, 191 

Dalt, Mejor-General A. 0., Gom- 
mander of the TweTUy'fimrth 
D., 19th Gorps, 100, 102, 104, 122, 
181, 156, 161, 171 

Darling, Gaptain, 278 

Dawson, F. 8., Brigadier-General, 
Oopnmander of the South African 
Brigade in our NnUh Dxvibzon, 
28, 144, 158, 161, 162. 168, 176, 
177, 180, 181, 222-281 

Dawson's Five Hundred, 222-281 

Deceptive official figures, 279, 801 

Decisive test of a war policy, 809 

Defence in depth, its defects, 18, 14, 

Defences of the Firb Abut, chap, ii., 
Part I., 10-24 

Demiconrt, 52, 148 

Demuin, 98, 112, 188, 184 

Denmark, 805, 806 

Demanoourt, 267, 270 

Dessart Wood, 189, 158 

" Details," 176, 177, 178 

Details, ezoessive, S^ 82 

Deverell, G. J., Major-General, 148 

Devonshires of the Sigkih Dxvxuxm, 

Dewar, George A. B., 804, 806 
Difierenoe between ration strength 

and combatant strength, 800, 801 
Difierent fighting temperaia«Eits and 

methods, 280 
Difficulties of an army in retreat, 19, 

Difficulties in writing on modernised 

war, 8-7 
Dimmer, Golonel, V.G., dies in 

action, 74, 129 
Dispatch rider, 162 
Disunity in 5th Gorps, Byag's Army, 

188, 184, 189, 190 
Dives, 216 

Divisional cavalry, 180, 214 
Doignies, 148, 150 
Doingt, 102, 174 
Domart, 188 
Douglas Smith, Major-Oeneral of tike 

Twentieth DivmoR, 114, 181, 184 
Doullens, 218, 259, 265, 270, 277 
Doullens, a momentous conlsronoe 

at, March 26, 1918...260, 265, 970, 

Drama of British poUtics, 806, 807 
Drama of Byng's right wing, 187, 

188, 189, 140, 141, 144, 165, 166, 

174, 175, 177, 182, 184, 185, 106, 

189, 191. 192, 198 
Dregs in the defence, 212, 218, 264 
Drnmmond, Gaptain, 112 
Dry weather, ite bad effects, 11, S5, 

26, 86, 246, 815 
Dublin Bedoubt, 78 
Dudbridge of the Sixt^^firH D., 286, 

Dugan's Brigade, 166 
Dunkirk, 65 
Durham Light Infantry, 102, 106, 

107, 108, 110, 118 

Bauooubt L*Abbatx, 188, 220, 221 
Economy of Force, 14 
Ecoust St. Mein, 148, 150 
Eighth Black Watch, 144, 184 
Eighth DxvmoH, under Heneker, 89, 

HI, 114, 116, 124, 128, 129, 168, 

Eighth Durham Light Infantry, 106, 



Kidhlh King's BojAl BIflt Corp*. 

Bgktfa BUto Brigidt, f6 
Bigblh Boyal Wert Sorrajri, 166 
U^lemth Oocpt. Sw undmr Mmdw, 

and tlM WtrtB Abmy's Ordm of 

gfaJblMii< lt DiTUios, 18, 40l T6, 78, 

Ul, 814, 861, 888 
Ktomtb Boyml Seoto, 144, ISI, 168, 

BMob, Ijf«at..Gol<md, dlwgloctoqsly, 


BDto Bedoabi, 70 
jRim^ m^in^ 109 

Biu^iImi Badoabt, defMiod of, 69, 70 
B^^, 140, 180, 154, 107, 161, 196, 

KpiDMiooiirt, 114, 116 

BpiiM da DftUoii Badoabt, 78 

l^liM da Ualaaalaa, 176 

EplnaHa Wood, 168, 107, 176 


Eqaaneoori, 189, 168, 166, 174, 179 

BrtUlart, 148, 188 

BHlgny, 69, 74, 76, 96, 148, 160, 160 

BsMm, lis, U7, 119, 818 

Ktaipigiij, 810 

Ktinahain, 871 

Btrioonri, 164, 176, 178 

Brolallon of waapom, 180 
BTohanga of tfooM baiwaan HoUar 

andlUrwItB, 94 
Biparianaai of a Oafilrj Oommandar, 

Bzoalla BiTar, 168 

Faltt, 84, 89, 110 

mMBpoa vUlaga, 160 

Fkiuhawa, Uaal.-Oanana Sir £. A., 
Oonmandaf of 64b Cofpa, Ibt 
aoolbam Com of Btoc'i Azny, 
166, 166, 176, 198 

VHKDkn, 76, 79, 96 

Aivbra Wood, 191, 199 

FWyalb 68, 69 

iMlham, KaJor-OaDacal B., 101, U8, 

U6, 181, 188, 168, 161 
^ifttmik Dnrnxov, 148, 196 
Fihaaolh ObaaUiaa, 184, 834 
ratatttb MoMi and Darblai, 184, 894 
mflitik DmaxHi, 86,76,86, 100, 108, 

108, 106, lOr, 108, 181, 188, 184, 

170, 810,*849 
FIVTB Aaanr. Am oadar Qoogb 
FUlb OaaMWiM, 144, 164, 188 

Flftb Goipa, Byng'i Amy, 187-141, 

164, 166, 167, 174, 176, 179, 180, 

188, 186| 180, 190 
Flftb Bordaion, 188 
> Flftb Dorbam Ugbt Infantrr, 109, 

106, 107, 106, ulTlSi, 170, 810 
; Flftb OloQocatan, 884, 986, 986 
Piftb Oordona, 70 
Flftb Nortbumbarbuid Foiilian, 104, 

106» 109, 110, 111, 116, 117, 180, 

Fiflif^hih Divuiim, 86, 888 
Fiflif'fint DiTiaiOH, 146, 148, 160 
Fifty-miUh Dmaioii, 146, 148 
Ftf^-neUh Dnrnioii, 197 
[ Fugbttng tamparamant, 806, 807, 808, 

• Final dinatcb, Haig'a, 817 

I Final rally of a troa figbtlog tamper, 
Fiam 188, 164, 107, 176, 178 
Flxst Battle of tba Mama, ovar- 
oonfidenoa produaad by It, 44 
I FirU OAYAXMt Dinaxait, 115, 180, 
I 181, 150, 188, 186, 186, 190, 199, 
316, 817, 871 
Fint Boyal Innlakillliig FniUlaia, 78 
FUune ptojeotora, 45 
FU^-la-Hartal, 78 
j Fleeanlteea Mdlent, 84, 51, 68, 58, 
186, 189, 140, 148, 146, 147, 148, 
I 150, 157, 158, 159, 161, 166, 174, 

• 179 
Flowardaw's Squadron, 318, 319 
Foob, Fleld-Manbal, ralnforoee tba 

Moyon-Uontdldlar Una, 97; at 
Donllana, 370; mointad to tba 
SoDMine OoBunend. mq : n«ifci> in 
blm, 391; beglni bis ralgn witb 
Fog and tba battle, 56^60, 88, 96, 
101, 104, Ul, 138, 147, 168, 156. 
167, 150, 181. 185, 807, 338 
FoUee VUlaga, 886 

! Fontalna-lat-aara Kedoobt, 78, 80 

I Fteitalna-lea-Croialllee, 148 

I Foiarigbt In war, 35, 36, 87 

, #MMlbI>iyi8n»,Byng*a Army, 146, 

: 148 

Fort^^/irU Dintioii, Byng*a Army, 

Jbri p ijcowd Dnnaiov, Byng'e Army, 

Foriif- mv mUk Diynioa, Byng*i 

Army, 146, 147. 146, 166, 166. IffT, 

174, 175, 176, 179, 180, 880 
Forward aooa. tbe, 11, 18, 145, 178 
FotbetglU, of tbe SM^fini D^ 885 
FMoauooort, 104. 118, 119, 180 



Fouohos, 265 

Fourmies-Ohimay, 95 

FourteetUh DiviaioH, 76, 131, 184 

Four Windia Farm, 175 

Fourth AuBtraliaDB, 85, 187, 197, 368, 

Fourth Oorps, Thzbd Abmt, 168, 186, 

Fourth DiYiszoK, 197 
Fourth North Staffords, 191 
Fourth Northumherland Fusiliers, 

104, 109, 117, 121, 128, 129 
Fourth Yorks, 106, 107 
FcamerviUe, 120, 121, 122, 128 
Framerville Ohurch, incident at, 121 
Franks, Major-Gkneral G. MoK., 

oommanding the Thirty-fifth D., 

169, 184, 189, 191, 192, 270, 271, 

French attempt to reooyer a span of 

Orosat Oanal, 251 
French Divisions, 276, 284, 285, 286 
French reinforcements, 80, 98, 99, 

114, 185, 168, 187, 258 
French study of Hutier's attack, 88, 

French Thibd Abmt, 246 
Fresnoy Bedoubt, 70, 98, 197 
FrMUers, 104 
Ftevent, 277 
Frise, 118 

Frontajras, safe and unsafe, 108 
Fjrfe, Haxnilton, war correspondent, 

5, 16, 246, 295, 296 

G.H.Q., attitude towards youthful- 
ness, 14 ; towards defences, 11-17, 
178 ; towards the foe's airmen, 28 ; 
towards the Oise front, 25, 26; 
invites criticism by a series of 
aripments, 87>^9, 262 ; perplexing 
in its views on risks, 87. 88, 89, 299, 
800, 809; and on the German 
intentions, 52; moves divisions 
from corps to corps, 25; keeps 
support divisions too far from the 
batue front, 100, 108 ; nebulous in 
all that concerns the boundary 
troubles between Byng and Gknigh, 
187, 188 ; accepts faulty information 
concerning Byng's right and 
Gongh's left, 141, 166, 177; the 
drama of Flesquiires salient, 84, 
51, 62, 58, 186, 189, 140, 142, 146, 
147, 148, 150, 167, 168, 169, 161, 
166, 174, 179; passes over British 
losses, impairing its accounts of 
battles, 159,258,264; 8omeG.H.Q. 

instructions, 171, 246 ; seems to 
undervalue the South African 
bravery, 182, 229 ; attitude towards 
mounted troops, 185, 214, 215; 
passes over the loss of Bapaume, 
256; reinforcing Byng with 
Gough's northern troops, 258-265 ; 
the official use of relxiforcementB, 
88, 89, 48, 268, 264, 265, 276; the 
retreat to and from the Bray- 
Albert line, 266; trsdning pro- 
blems, 801, 802 

Gallwits, General von, 47, 60 

Garnet Green, Oaptidn, 152, 163, 164 

Gas attacks, 68, 101, 158 

(Gauche Wood, 145, 152, 158 

Gavrelle, 196, 197 

Gayl, General von, 49, 50, 76, 85, 87, 
& 97 148 

GeU,' lieut-Oolonel E. A., 124, 128, 

Genin Well Oopse, 154 

German artillery, Ludendorff*s re- 
marks on, 46, 46 

German barrage, Ludendorfi speaks 
of it, 68 

German cavalry, 40, 284 

German crimes and Allied blunders, 

German divisions, 49, 61, 78, 87, 
92,94,197. See also the laztte map 
of the approximate Order of cattle, 
British amd German 

German gas attack, 67 

German initiative, 209 

(German message dogs, 207 

German newspapers on the battle 

German patrols, enterprise of, 909, 

German reinforcements from Russia, 
etc., 84; on Gough's front, 40 

German shells and British redoubts, 

German tanks, 79 

German traixdng, its main cliar- 
acteristios, 46, 46, 58 

Germans in Allied uniforms behind 
our lines, 282 

Germany's wonderful resistance, 43 

Ginohy, 184 

Givenchy, 189 

Glorious young lives thrown away, 

G.0.0. of the Ninth D. makes an 
urgent visit of warning to 5th 
Corps, Third Asm, 176, 176 

Gblancourt, 220, 221 

Gkrringe, Major-GenenJ Sir G. F., 



oanwniin<ting Um Fdrt^^mvenik D., 
Thzbd Abmt, 148, 146, 166, 166 
Oongh, OmmmI Sir Habait da la 
Poer, his need of man, 4, 88, 88, 
61 ; ioma oauaes of ihli naad, 86, 
87; naw front, 10, 11; hit de* 
fandva tjilama, 11 «< tM . ; how ho 
alloltad his troopi, 1^; ftmtelU 
iha aim of LadanaorlTa attack, 96, 
S7; hia manifaaloat, 99-88; his 
frontage and diilsions, 86; his 
ramarks on the fog, MMX); his 
action at tha close of first day, 
79-60, 88 ; his withdrawal from th« 
P4fonna hrldgshaad, 91, 171, 179, 
946-967; his ganaralship snooaads, 
98, 96, 96, 97, 96, 99, 168, 168, 160, 
186, 968, 960, 999, 816; an appeal 
to GAQ., 100; his centra in 
peril, 108; ha hears aU the risks, 
104, 999, 800; raises Carer's Fbroe, 
so called, 119; losee Oongrere's 
troops transfened to Byng, 114, 
116, 956-W6; his left nnoorered, 
118 ; the 04risy episode, 116, 191, 
199, 196, 180, 966-974; eefler to 
gi^e a counter hlow, 181; nUsety 
accused of " letting down " Byng^ 
right, 141; his left sends argent 
warnings to Byng's right, 141, 176, 
176; pressure against his northern 
corps, 169 H ssg., 166, 166; hears 
of the breach of Oreen Line in 
Watts's defence, 164; accused of 
nnnfaig his Army too much, 179 ; 
was his retreat too slow rather 
than too iMt? 179-178; his Staff, 
909, 908 ; some men behaved badlj, 
919, 918, 964; on cavalry, 914, 
916; what he bed to weigh and 
meesure, 964, 966: pdUtical inter, 
feience puts Qough and his troops 
under theccden of French offioers, 
whoee divisions are gunless, 989 ; 
suffers firom the cffidal bedtancr 
In the use of ralnloroements, 976, 
977, 978 ; stops agap which French 
ocdess would have opened, 968; 
aa arrangement with Oendral 
BobOot, 984. 986; incident d the 
guns, 986; the Fivtb Abmt ^ins 
time for thelmportatlon of American 
troope, 810 ; Oough suspended, and 
Rawlinson assumss command 
south of the Sonmie, 818, 814; 
unity of splendid elmt fai the 
Fvn AaMT. 816, 817; Hairs 
recognition and giaMnl thanks In 
bta Cat di<ipatah, 817 

Oouasaueoart, 84, 69, 187, 188, 146, 

Qovemment*s propagandist figures of 

Haig's fighting strength, 979, 801 
Government Press, SI97 
Governments of France and Britain 

put Fbch in supreme control, 

Grant, M^or-Genaral P. G., 119 
Gray of the 9/Fifth Gloncesters, 940 
Greenland Hill, 196 
Green Line System of Defence, 76, 

88, 96, 109, 108, 106, 107, 161, 169, 

164, 166, 166, 170, 174, 176, 179 
Grtfvillers, 188, 190 
GuABoa Divmov, 144, 148, 197 
Guerbigny, 986 

Guillancourt, 199. 180, 189, 188, 986 
Guillemont, 187 

Gunlees French troope, 168, 976 
Guyenoourt, 169 

Hadlow, Lieut., 168 

Hsig, very short of men, 4, 88 si seg., 
88; on German airplanes, 74; on 
reducing the fighting strength of 
brigades, 76; his character in 
battle, 96 ; on the podtion south 
of the Somme, 114; his Dispatch 
fails to give the complete boundary 
uniting Gough and Byng, 186,187 ; 
on Bvng's first day, 148, 149; on 
Byng's second day, 169; remarks 
on the South African defence, 
189; on the Ices of Oombles, 
Morval, and LesboBub, 188; on 
Franks*s fine defence, March 96, 
189; on the breach of Byng's 
centre, and the gape in Byng's 
southern oorpe, 187, 190, 191, 198, 
968, 970, 974; on the many ra> 
Inforoemente sent to Byng, 198; 
on the menace to the Anere line, 
198; on the attack against Anas, 
196, 197: on cavalr/, 918-914; 
Implies that be would not have 
rettred from the P4ionne bridge- 
head, 961, 969 ; onlaekof tialnlng, 
966; peesee over the loss of 
Bapanme, 966 ; the official use of 
reinforcements, 88, 89, 48, 968, 
964,966,976; too vague in maHert 
affeetlng Fiftb Abmt movements, 
964, 966; on fall of Albert, 978; 
anangsmente with P4tain, 48, 976, 
978; on his diiBcultles, 998, 999. 
801, 809; the appccilomnsBt of 
risks, 87, 88, 89, 999, 900; on 



Gough's saspeoBioii, 814 ; hia pniae 

of Sir Hubert Qongh, 817 
Hftdow's foroe, 184, 186, 370 
Ham, 84, 87, lU 
Hamdl, 95, 122, 815 
Hanooort, 91, 108, 170 
Hangud, 95, 101, 115, 138, 134, 288 
Hangefit, 236 
Harbonnitees, 101, 119, 128, 126, 

127-129, 180 
Hardeooort, 185, 192 
Hargioonrt, 101, 128, 172,178 
Harm done by magnifying tbe 

British Empire foroee, 279, 801 
Harman, lia]or-Geii«ral, A. E. W., 

oommandixig ThM Cavalbt D., 

215, 216,^0 
Harper, Iietit.-Q6naral, Sir Q. M., 

commanding 4th Corps, Thibd 

Abmt, 198 
Harvey, Colonel, 112 
Hattenooort, 118, 815 
Hanteloque, 277 

Have inmntey bad their day? 218 
Havrinoourt, 140, 147, 157, 158 
Havrincourt Wood, 161 
Haybittel, Captain, his valour, 78 
Hasebroack, 189 
Headlam, Brigadier, 271 
Heal, Liettt.-Colonel, 224, 227 
Herb4ooiirt, 118, 117, 256 
H4bQteme, 187, 268, 270 
Hem, 184, 189, 191 
Hem Spur, 180, 191, 224 
Heneker. Major-Oenenl W. Q. O., 

Bighth Divibion, 112, 114, 116, 

121, 134 
Henin, 160 
Herly, 289 

Hermles, 147, 157, 159, 161, 179 
Heroic Ifaien-draper, 281 
HervUly, 101, 161, 170 
Hervilly Wood, 216, 217 
Heseler, Captain J. K. M., 107 
Hendeoonrt, 162, 168 
HigUand Ridge, 51, 189, 157, 165 
mghland Bri^ide, Ninik D., 142, 

144, 158, 168, 164, 166, 175, 176, 

178, 181, 188, 184, 224 
High Wood, 188 
Hill, Father, of the S^. Brigade, 

HIU 109... 120 
ma Redonbt, 74 
Hinaoonrt, 76 

HIndenbezg Line, 51, 189, 157, 166 
Holnon, 69, 70, 72, 149, 170 
Hohion Wood, 74, 249 
Home, General Sir H. S., eom- 

manding the Fibit Am, bom 

Oavrelle northward, 85, 196 
Hours of Marwiti*8 most deadly 

thrust, 181, 182, 184, 187, 198, 

Howoavalrv should withdraw, 216 
How the German maohlue wortad, 

Howitt, Captain, 285, 241 
Hull, ICajor-GenoEal Sir C. P. A., 

143, 150, 154, 161 
Humbert, G4n4ral, 286 
Hunter's Brigade, 5t0<SMiaB<Jb D., 

Hunt's Foroe, 185, 186 
Hurlbatt, Lieut. . Colonel, dies 

gloriottslv, 124, 129 
Hutier, O^dur von, commanding 

EiOBXUBHiH Gmbkab Abmt, 6, 

27, 28, 40, 48, 49, 51, 54, 94, 97, 184, 

169, 282, 284, 287, 288 
Hutier'B attack, 68-61, 88-99; ate 


laHAUGOUBiT, 180 

Indian labour, 17 

Indian troops, 86 

Injustioe to the Fivtb Abmt, 4, 5, 
186, 150, 166, 354, 258-265, 995, 
296, 810, 812-^17 

Injufltioe, Political, and the People'e 
Equity, 812-817 

Interchanges of help between under- 
manned units, 142 

Ireland, Colonel, of the Second 
Munsters, 207 

Irles, 190 

jAOxaoH, Major-Genexal H. C, 
FifMh D., 112, 118, 121, 124, 182 

JeSbtys^ ICajor-Genecal G. D., of 
the Nimtemih D., 148 

Joiire, 805 

Joint attacks by Harwlttaad Below, 
146-158, 159-167, 168-178, 174-196 

Juasy, 76, 85, 87, 92 

Kazbbb on the British NiiUh D., 188 
Keith, Sergeant-Major, 226 
TTpimTMA Hill, 196, 292 
Kennedy, Brigadier, of the Ninih D., 

144, 158 
Kidd, Lieut, of the Second Munsteie, 

King, of the Second Munsters, 907 
Kingfaam's scratch battalion at 

Harbonni^ree, 128, 194, 126, 188 
Knos, Second Lieut., his toivery, 


INDEX >27 

XjkBOHiMOMMUH^O I LlbanMmlOual,U4,SM«»6 

La Ohftpdtolto, 164, 174 i Lioourt, llff » 116, S46 

Lftboof Oorpt oa lh« Fxvtb Ammw*% \ UAnynoDi, 166 

fnml, 17 I lias, 66 

Lm«7 ThomptoD, OftpUin, 111, 169 ! Llgny-TUUoy, 168 

LMk of takiDing, 601, 806. te ■!«> ! l2oDi, 160, 167 

imdir Tteaning tj»mw%i« Afanlna, 69, 960 

lADHMiy, 96 = LfaMobn troops, 157 

lA F4ro, 66, 65, 97 Uttio, OolooaL of Iho Fifth Bocdor. 
Uonlooiiri, 146 on, SitBtf-wktih D. , 196, 188, 184 

Lftk^of Iho M:l|^4r9l D., 664 Llillo't tonloh telteliop. 198, 194, 
lA lUiooDofcto, 117 196, 196, 198, 199, 186 

LonlMj Wood, 78 LliaroIlM, 76 

Lunin Turn, 117 rjoyd, Oolooal, 101 

lAmoMo, 116, 169, 196k 160^ 181, 194, Uoyd Oooigo, onihoBrHiili dofonoat, 

687 Iff ; pio-bolUa fftUnio of hli OoaU- 

LaaoMhin Tnnoh, 168 tlon, 84, 88 ; and OuoT't foioo, 119 ; 

iMOMUra Iraopo, 117,168, 164. 196, . bis ipaooh si Leod% 979, 960. 806, 

bolwon Ibo lUl of Aaaolth and 
Mareh, 1916...996; Us daj^oraUa 

146 809, 818; his prasant rspaiat 

LaanafoislB, 969, 986, 669 ' 990; failuia of his OoaUtloii 
Tisasimy, 91, 99 
UaTdftTi ol Noflhan fl6btiBC, 166- | 

196 spsach in iha Honsa of OomflKms, 

Laslslaadof Dawson'sFlvaHiiadfad, 906; his Baslaniisin, 807, 806; his 

161, 169 orj for halp to Prasidflnt Wilson, 

Lamon, Oolonal A. B., 984, 986, 9i0, | 989, 809, 810 

941 _ _ _ London arliaaB and Foeh's appoint- 

Lawsott, Oolonal* Blavsnth HnsMts, ' msnt, 991 

989 ' London Ctasiltf, 6 

UHifia, ICaJor-Oanaral 0. B., 190 • London Tariitorials, 146 

lAjman and tha War, 7, 8 j Longatla, 148 

Laapfrogging bj Qannan divisions, , Longavasnas, 169 

9^146^147 I Longnaval, 164 

La Baiqna, 188 ! Lorcalna, 99 

U Oatsan, 107, 169, 194, 196 Loai of guns, 69, 168, 164, 194, 

Lsads, Uoyd Qaoiga's spsaoh at, 979, 806 

980,806,800,816 Loosof BMaama,9fi6;passsdoTar In 

La Forit, 161, 999 Uia offioial di^aleh, 906 

Lagifd, Btigadiar-Oanatal 0*A., 199, Loss of Paronna, 179, 946-807 

917 LoumTal, 146 

La MasnU-an-AEfooalsa. 110, 176, Lowland Brignda, MnU D., 144, 176, 

179 176, 176, lil 

La Qossnal, 996, 640, 987 > Lowland sapport, 164 

La Qnssnoy, 96, 04 Liioa Bttar, 116 

LasboMihi, 189, 168 Lodandorfl, his main proUsm, 6; 

La Bats, 166 Imbs tha iocwaid sons, 14 ; on air> 

La Tkansloy, 160 oralt, 91 ; his knowladgs ol HaiCs 

Lettacs fvon British oOasn, ilO, . naadof mon,84, 87, 86; wasaldad 

969-649 by tha British baltlafiont, 89; his 

Lsvar, Ohadss, and WaUii^too, oantnd aim, 41: his fsar ol tha 

7,6 U8^, 41-49; hampaiad by his 

La Vsrgiiiar, 149, 166, 161 partnan, 49, 46 ; on liis fa 

Lawismis, 168, 164, 607, 999, 996, , task, 44, 46; on his artillacy, 46, 

996,997 46; onislBtB,47;howha 

Linissn batwasn Oongh's Isit and tha Franoo-Biltish anxiety, 47, 48; 

drag's ritfbt, 186, 166, 167, 176, , s^sr to ont off ths troops in 

176, 179, 160, 166, 168, 164, 166, ' Flesooi^ias sattsnt, 06, 189, 140; 

166. 189. 199 daddas to hsip Untisr PsrsoMlly. 

64; on pa, 64; on thaiqg,66: on 



the Oermaii barrage, 67, 68; on 
loflses during a retreat, 81; on 
storm troops, 84 ; on f ood-searohing 
by his troops, 86 ; his candour, 87, 
186, 147 ; nis orders to first-line 
troops, 88, 93, 146, 147; on his 
unlavonxable strategical position, 
96, 196 ; mistakes Gongh for Haig, 
96; his aim in Hutier's attack mis- 
miderstood, 99; on machine-guns 
verBus iafasitty, 190; aims of the 
northern fighting, 142 ; new tactics, 
147 ; on Below's losses, 147 ; misses 
an opportunity, 167, 168 ; anxious 
to break through north of Albert, 
186 ; on Below's exhausted troops, 
190; his mistake in attacking 
Arras, 198 ; his encouragement of 
initiative, 209; surprised by the 
slow arrival of Allied reinforoe- 
ments, 278 ; on his capture of man, 
S79; liudendorS anii unity of 
command, 290; German news- 
papers and liudendorfi, 297; 
British propaganda, 806 ; on attack 
and defence, 816 

Uttwits, General von, 61, 87, 92 

Ly-Fontaine, 76 

Lya battle, 88, 86, 188, 196, 196, 292, 

MAGHxmB-ouHB, 79, 88, 96, 104, 106, 
109, 110, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 
121, 124, 128» 181, 182, 188, 144, 
148, 162, 168, 164, 188, 184, 196, 
197, 210, 217, 218, 220, 221, 226, 
227, 280, 284, 288, 261, 278, 274 

Mackentie, Oolin, Major-General, 
Simty-firai D., 102, 104, 181, 170, 
289, 249, 286, 287, 288 

lialssemy, 69, 79, 96, 149, 166, 167, 
160, 170 

Malcolm, Major-General Neill, Sixty- 
akUh D., 91, 100, 101, 102, 112, 
118, 116, 117, 121, 128, 124, 188, 
148, 160, 166, 167, 249. 

Malassise Farm, 146, 207, 208 

Mananoourt, 189, 164, 166, 176, 179 

•' Man Battle Stations," 24, 64 

Manchester Bedoubtt 78 

Manchester troops, 167 

Manicamp, 60, 86 

Mangin, Gh£n6ral, 81 

Map-drawing, 8 

Maps and map-making, 814, 816 

Maroeloave, 91, 112, 128, 180, 181, 
138, 287, 240 

Maroh614pot, 116 

Marieourt, 188, 184, 166, 189, 190, 
191, 192 

Marindin, Brig.-General A. H., 191 

Marlborough, 281, 282, 317 

Mame, 292 

Marritott Wood, 181, 182, 222 

Marteville, 74 

Martin's Brigade, 102, 108, 106, 107, 

Marwits, General von der, 40, 61, 68, 
101, 186. 142^43, 147, 169, 282 

Marwits and Hutier in the centre 
fighting, 100-120, 121-136, 198, 194 

Maurepas, 188, 185 

Maurice, Sir F., on the need of men 
in March, 1918, 4, 144; on the 
Fifth Abmt'b courage, 9 ; on the 
Thisd Army's strength, 86; on 
Allenby*s excessive number of 
white troops, 86 ; on German over- 
confidence, 44 ; an oversight, 189 ; 
on the transfer of Goagh*s northern 
troops to Byng*s right wing, 368 ; 
on the Government's neglect, 279 

Maxse, Sir Ivor, commanding the 
18th Gorps, FiVTB Asmr, 6; his 
corps, 12, 14 

Maxse's Oorps, 66, 69, 74, 76, 79, 82, 
89, 91, 98, 100, 116, 130. 170, 276, 

Maae, Paul M., 818 

M4aulte, 187, 366, 967, 271 

Men who behaved badly, 212, 218, 264 

Mericourt, 122, 184 


Mesnil-en-Arrouaise, 110, 176, 179 

Mesple, G4n6ral, 180, 287 

Meti-en-Ooutnre, 161, 176, 179, 180 

Mesidres, 181, 218, 286, 240 

Military huts set on fire, 119 

Military writing and laymen, 7, 8 

Milner, Lord, was he unfriendly to 
the Futb Abut ? 269 

Miraumont, 190, 266 

Misery, 104, 111 

Misuse of rdnforcements, 276 H teg. 

Mixing together French and British 
troops, 280 ei aeq. 

Modem battles, their division into 
four parts or periods, 8, 4; mat 
difficulties in writing about them. 

Modem war has a certain kinship 
with architecture, 8 

Moislains, 138, 168, 164, 174, 176 

Monash, Sir J., 187, 188, 218, 963, 
266, 277, 296 

Monchy-Lagache, 91, 106 

Monro, General Sir Oharlea, 36, 817 



lI<nig-«ii-01iMnte, 108, ICO 
MootenlMtti, 187, 188, 186, 189, 190, 

HonkUdier, 61, 91, 98, 94. 96, 97, 988, 

Monlbmy, 916 
Mont St. QTMotin, 188 
Moodf of man in biiUto, 901, 909 
Moora, liaot-Oolondl Oodlzey, of 

tiM TiralfUi KJLB.O., 986, 940 
Mond tnfliMPCM tn wv , 99 
Monhftin, U4, 986 
M oraoil, 94, 96, 119 
Modanoonrt, 971 
Marmimg PM, 998, 997, 806 
MoKTSl, 149, 180, 189, 188, 184, 980 
Morj, 148, 160, 100 
Mort imporlMii thing in wmr, 97, 

Namm in ths Wftr's tettlflt an loo 

nam«roas,6, 7 
Nftpolaon, 14, 968 
Natel tiooM, 164 
National Klingi and polittet, 981, 

Katoial gaps fonnod hj rttnallng, 

Nation, 66, 989, 990 
N^rvm ouUida tba ballla, 99, 909, 

N«l6, 64, 160, 949, 984, 986 

Nawooman't Bqnadxon, 916, 919 

New Zealand tiooM, 187, 968 

Niehobon, Hajor-Qenaral 0. L., 148 

Ninth OaTairy Brigade, 916, 917 

Himih Dirmoir, 68, 116, 187, 141, 
148, 144, 146, 160, 169, 168, 164, 
166, 166, 167, 160, 161, 169, 168, 
166, 166, 167, 174, 176, 176, 179, 
180, 181, 189, 184, 186, 186, 190, 
101, 198, 194, 999, 994, 980, 966. 
90r, 971, 978, 979, 809 

Ninth ICaneheBten, 101 

Ninth Seafortha, 144 

Nineteenth Oorpe. 107, 108, 16a 8m 
alaonnder Watte 

mtitlmntk Dnruiov, 146, 148, 190 

Nineteenth liverpooli, 79 

Nineteenth Northomberland Fuel. 

NifaUe, Qenaialj 990 

Nlveile and VeMnn, 66 

Nobeaooort Vluin, 96. 101, 109, 106, 
lOT, 164, 168, 100, 170, 178, 917 

Noffdheimer'e Bqiiadion at tlie Boie 
de MoranU, 918, 910 


Northern attaolce, the, 18fr-146, 146- 

167, 168-196 
Northumberland Faeiliere, 106, 104, 

106, 106, 106, 109, 110, 111, 118, 

U9, 190, 191, 194, 196, 197, 198, 

Noye BiTor, 918 
Noyon, 60, 86, 86, 88, 91, 98, 94, 97, 

118, 988, 999 
Nugent, Bfajor-Oenend O. 8. W., and 

Ub Ulster troope, 98, 986, 987. See 

alio Thirtg-Siitk Ditoioh 
Nnn of Harbonnitee, the, 197, 199 
Norla, 188, 167, 174 

OamoBB, General Ton, 61, 87 

OIBoen' patroli, 916, 916 

Offiolal aoooimti of batUei omit too 

many laoti, 968-966 
Offioiaf hiitory, 968 e( iw., 976 
Oiie front, 96, 97, 118 
Old military role broken, 976, 978, 

Olleiy, 84 


Omignon River, 10, 96, 101, 108, 104, 


Ordmary manhood in war, 86, 86, 87 
Ormiston, IMor, 996, 980 
Ootflanking the Anore line, 187,108, 

969, 968, 970 
Outflanking the Nmih Dmsiov, 169, 

168, 164, 167, 168, 161, 169, 168, 

166, 167, 176, 181 
Ootpoet mtem of defenoe. See 

f o^vard aone 
Ofer^xmfldenoe, Britiih, 4, 44, 398, 

Oxford and Booka Light Inftotry , 68, 



Pann, lient-Ootonel, of the 
Oknioaatem, who acted aa Brigadier 
of 184th Brigkto after the Hon« 
Robert White waa woonded, 940 


Panic, 111, 918 



Paraona, Sergeant^liajor, 986 

Paeenhendaaie, 10, 90. 96, 904 

Pateraon's Fdroa, 917 

Patience in troop trains, 100 

Pearaon, John, an Old Kngllsh Archer, 

PeiiMm, Captain 0., 104 



Pdsi«n, 146, 154, UST, 161 

PoWos 197 

P6rozme, 58, 101, 113, 116, U2, 150, 

172, 210, 245-257 
P6ronne bridgehead, 91, 96, 101, 102, 

108, 138, 161, 164, 169, 172, 174, 

Pertain, 285 
P6tain, G6n6ral, 39, 48, 275, 290, 292 

Phillips, Sergea&t-Major, 235 
Pioton at Waterloo, 282 
Pieiiepont, 51 
Hthon, 84, 89 
Pleflsis de Boye, 94 
PcBuilly, 88, 106, 108, 170 
Points and Oioss-Questiona, 168-178 
PoUtioal injiutioe and its effeois, 812, 

Pollard's Brigade, 172 
Pontoise, 49, 50, 85 
Portal, Brigadier, 50, 217 
Potte, 111 

*« Prepare for Battle," 24, 64 
" Prepare to Man Battle Stations," 

Prideanz-Bnme, Lieat.-Oolonel, 76 
Proctor, Oaptain, 110 
Propaganda, 279, 301, 804, 805 
Providenoe and British statesmen, 9 
Proyart, 116, 121, 122, 123, 124, 286 
Pnisieox-au-Mont, 190, 198, 196 

QuABT, General von, 197 

Qnentin Bedonbt, 152, 158 

Quessy, 76, 79, 85, 149 

"Qnex," in Blaekwood*» Magaawet 

201, 908, 204, 205, 206 
Qniqaery, 241, 284 

Racial susoeptibilities, 290 

Bailton, 154 

Baimes, Major A. L., 102, 107, 210 

Rancoort, 181, 222 

Ration strength versus oombatant 

strength, 294, 801 
Rawlinson, General Sir H. S., 

Rear lone, 12, 178, 245 
Red Line Defence System, 145, 154 
Rees's Brigade, Fiftieth Divxaiov, 

108, 106, 107, 106, 112 
ReinforoementB, wrong notions 

formed by, 187 
Reims, 47, 48, 50, 65, 80 
Repington Colonel, 297, 806 
Retreat from the Bray- Albert line, 


Retrealing from a narsow saUenl, 

Retreating often more difitoult than 

hard^ting, 252, 258 
Reyelon Farm, 154, 157 
Ribemont-sor-Anore, 267, 270, 271 
Riohards, Ldeui., 78 
mckerby of the 2/Fifth Glonoaiien, 

RiddeU's Brigade, Fiftieih DxvisiQii, 

103, 104, 105, 106, 108, 110, lU, 

112, 113, 117, 119, 121, 124, 126, 

127, 129, 131, 182, 184, 247 
Ridge Reserve, 207, 208 
** Rifle carriers," 120 
Risks of war, 87, 38, 297, 300, 309 
Roberts, Lord, 805 
Robb, Colonel, 105 
Robilot, G4n6ral, 984 
Robinson, Colonel, 106 
Rooqnigny, 175, 178, 180, 230 
Rgbqz, 196 
Roisel, 102, 161, 170 
Ronssoy , 59, 100. 145, 149, 160, 162, 157 
Rosidree, 92, 100, 115, 119, 121, 122, 

128, 124, 128, 129, 286, 286 
Ronpy, 79 

Roimoy, 286, 286, 266 
Rony-le-Grand, 91 
Rowbotham, Captain, 70 
Rows of the Fifth D.L.I., 211 
Royal Fusiliers, 156 
Royal Lrish Rifles, 78 
Royals, 220, 221 
Roye, 95, 286, 240, 286 
Rnssell, Maior-General Sir A. H., 

RnssU's defeat, 298 

Sazujbbii, 178, 179 

SaUly-le- Sec, 116, 184 

St. Christ, 84, 92, 109, UO, 114, 116 

St. BmiUe, 150, 152, 161 

St. Gobain, 35, 49 

St. Leger, 146, 148, 15Q, 159, 160 

St. Pierre Vaast Wood, 138, 178, 181 

St. Qnentin, 8, 50, 64, 249 

St. Qnentin Ridge, 145 

St. Simon, 76, 87 

Sacrifice of yoong lives caused by 

political bungling, 202 el ss^. 
Sapper, story of a, 119 
Saulooart, 152, 170 
Savy, 79, 149 
Sayer, John William, Laaoa-Gorpml, 

how he died in winning the Y.C., 

Scapegoat, Fiitb Abmy a politioal, 6, 




8oirp« RIvar. M, 08^ 148, 160, 196, 

fl o^ > l«6d ImpraMions, 909-991 
Sooii, Ltoui., 107 
8or»p and fenpft of Pftper, 806 
*" Seimtoh " ionm. 186 
Saoond B»iUfl of the SomBM, 8, 4 
SMond Bedf Olds, 79 
Sedimd Oatalbt Ditiiiom, 85, 916, 

BtBtmd IwAflnvDimioii, 189, 148, 

166, 167, 176, 180, 968 
B aoo p d Hiufltn, 160, 907, 908 
BMond BoTBl Sooli, 986 
SMODd ^teUzw, 66, 78, 986 
SocoDd Torla, 79, 986 
8m^*i foRM, 916, 917 
Qmudt B\ym, 69, 68, 104, 146^ 148 
Sam, 190^ 198,968 
agvtnismth Dmnosi. 146, 147, 148, 

8af«Dl6enUi Manohmtari, 79, 986 
S6f«Dtee&lh Rojal Booto, 191 
Sorenih Corps Ooogh't norihorn 

Corps, eommMidad by Oongrtfe, 

187, 166, 186, 189. 191, 969 
SovodUi Bufis, 78 
SoTanih Dragoon Onatds, 161 
Saraolh Dorfaaiii Light Infanirr, 

Savanlh Rifla Brigada, 76 
SaraDlh Saaforiha, 164 
SajiDOiir*! Fotoa, 916, 917, 
Sida laraaa and Polltloal Bffaeta, 804- 

Sida-ahofwa and Uojd Oaoiga, 808 
Sinalalr-Maelagan, Major - Qaoaral 

B. O., 966, 974, 9n 
SixUmUh DiTniOH, Sooth Irish, 

imdar Sir Amyall Unll, was a anil 

of 7Ui Corps, 160. 169. 164. 167, 

SIzlaanth Itanehsatan, 66, 78. 986 
Sixth Durham Ught Intentrr, 104, 

106, 106, lOe. 110 
Siteth Diyiaiojff, 146, 148 
Sixth King's Own Seoltlsh Botdancs, 

144. 168. 175, 181 
Sixth Northombarland Pnrillars, 116, 

117. 197. 198. 129 
Sidy-yirsl Divuioii, a unit of 18th 

Corps, fought nndar Colin 

Maokaniia. 28. 64, 69. 84, 109, 180, 

181, 906, 960, 984 
gjsriyssoswd Drnaiov, 86. 197 
Siteiif.aigth DiTmiov, Lanoaahin 

tr«>ps, nndar Naill Halooim, was s 

onH of 19th Corps. 101, 108. lOG, 

107, 116, 116, 117, 118, 190, 194. 

197. 188, 184, 170, 908, 9U, 916, 

Siflvfy-IMni Ditwoh, 146, 148, 166, 

SUnnar, Brigadiar P. C. B., 76 
Slighting tha Fivm Abmt during tha 

*< SUts," 18 
Smoka soraan. 169 
Soiasons. 97, 992 
Sonuna AUaj Trsnoh, 168 
Sonuna Una. 88, 91, 98, 96, 100, 110, 

111, 118, 115. 116, 122, 126, 171, 

179, 174, 188, 189. 192, 210, 911. 

946-947, 970. 
Soral4a-grand, 168 
Sonth African Brigada, Hmih D., 

144, 152, 158, 154, 167, 160. 161, 

162-164, 176, 177. 180, 181, 299- 

** South African Foroas in Franea," 

bj Boohan, 146, 182 
South Afrioan Soottiah, 154 
Sonth Irish, 115, 122, 124, 12G, 150. 

152, 164, 161, 164, 908 
Spadalist Oarman troops, 908 
Staff oiBoar from tha Mnifc warns tha 

Awiy-sswniA, 166 
Stataaman, Britiah, thair ooatoinary 

mistakas, 9, 806, 807 
Stocklay, Brigadiar-Qanaial A. F. U., 

Storm troopa, 88, 169 
StraggUng, 86, 198, 197, 918 
Straohan of tha Saoond Mnnstars, 

Strathoonft's Hotaa, 918 
Strong and wsak foroaa in Una 

togsthar, a rula of war oonoaming, 

Sabmarinas, Oarman, 41, 42 
Suaanna, 18& 
Switehaa, 11 
Swopping honias in midstraam, 980 

** TAoncAL axaroisss withoot tsoops,*' 

Tanks in action, 149, 160, 170, 181, 

Tanks and horia at HarriUj, 916, 

Tamplaox-la-OuArard. 100, 160, 168, 

166. 217 
TannTson, Captoln ihs Hon. A., 70 
Tenth Corps. 277 
Tenth Hussars, 290, 921 
Targnier. 86. 951, 
TMry. lOi, 109 



Tetaid Wood, 207 

Thiepval, 815 

Thurd Austnlians, 85, 95 

Thibd Abky. See under Byng 

Third Ditxbioh, 146, 148, 160, 198 

Third Cavauit Dzyisioh, 215, 216, 

220. See alao under Harman 
Third Oorps. See under Butler 
Third Dragoon Guards, 220, 221 
Thirst, sufierings from, 250 
Thirteenth Ooi^, 196 
TMriUth DmsiOH, 66, 79, 286, 285, 

802. See also under Williams, 

W. dell. 
Thirty-flret Divisioh, 104, 148, 197 
Thirty-fifOi Divibiqn, 115, 169, 181, 

184, 186, 187, 189, 190, 191, 192, 

194, 224, 226, 227, 280, 270, 271, 

272, 278. See also under 

TMrly-fourth DivxBiON, 146, 148, 160 
Thirty-ninth Diyibion, 101, 115, 121, 

122, 128, 129, 188, 152, 162, 194, 260, 

260. See also under Feetham 
Thirty-eiaUh Dxyxbxqm, 78, 84, 285, 

286, 287. See also under Nugent 
Timmis' Squadron, 218, 219 
nnoourt, 152 
Too Late, the Greed of, 128, 298, 

Tortille Biver, 188, 172, 174, 177 
Training, 16, 19, 21, 22, 67, 70, 152, 

905,266, 208, 801, 802 
Transfer of Gough's northern troops 

to Byng*8 right wing, 186, 198, 258- 

Transfer of land from Thibd Fbbnoh 

ABMTto Gough, 10, 11, 25, 800 
Trayeoy, 78' 
Trefoon, 170 
Trench mortars, 45, 168 
TrOnes Wood, 185, 189 
Troubles of lOnisters, 298-808 
Truth uncommon in war, 4, 5, 805 
Tudor, ICajor-General H. H., Ninth 

D., 148, 160, 151, 152, 154, 156, 

157, 162, 165, 175, 176, 179, 180, 

Tugny, 89 
Turkey, 42 

Tumor, Oaptain, of the Boyals, 220 
Twelfth DiTiBXOR, 85 
Twelfth Highland light Infantry, 

184, 1857191 
Twelfth King's Boyal Rifle Corps, 

Twelfth Boyal Scots, 144 
Twentieth Ditxbxoiji, 86, 84, 90, 98, 

100, 114, 181, 184, 284, 236, 289, 

250, 284, 286, 287. Ses also under 

Douglas Smith 
Twenty-fifth DxvxBZOir, 146, 148, 159 
Twen^'firet Divibzoh, 152, 154, 167, 

162, 174, 176, 177, 180, 181, 186, 

191, 194, 224, 270, 271. See also 

under Campbell 
Twenty-fourth Di7IBIOV,108, 106, 106, 

122, 181, 284. See also under 

Twenfy-second Entrenching Bat- 

taUon, 111, 126, 127, 182 
2/Fifth Gloucesters. 284, 235, 236 
2/Fourth Boyal Berkshires, 74 
2/Blghth Worcesters, 70 

U-BoAT campaign, 41 

Ulster troops, 78, 84, 285, 286, 287 

United States of America, 41, 42, 44, 

112, 809, 810. 
U.S.A. bridgebuilders, 112 
Unity of command, 289-292 
UrvUlers, 76, 315 

Vaire Wood, 95 

Varesnes, 85 

Vaucelletto Farm, 145 

Yaulz Yrauoourt, 159, 179 

YaUTiUers, U9, 120, 121, 128, 129 


Yauz Wood, 188 

Yendeuil, 76 

Yerdun, 38, 47, 50, 65 

Yerlaines, 64 

Yermand-Amiens road, 84, 170 

Yermand, 88, 96, 102, 106, 150, 170 

Y6ry lights, 118 

Yictoria Cross, an episode, 73 

another episode, 156 
YiUechoUes, 79, 170 
Yillequier-Aumont, 85 
Yilleret, 172 

YiUers Bretonneux, 181, 240 
YiUers Oarbonnel, 115, 116, 117, 

YiUers Fauoon, 161 
Yillers-lte-Boye, 98 
YiUers Plouich, 189, 140, 168, 160, 

166, 174, 175 
YiUeselve, 220 
Ym4T4que, 106, 107, 170 
Yincent, Corporal, 286 
Yinoent, Lieut., 220 
<• Yital*' portions of a front, 27, 80 
Yon Boehn, GtaeraL See under 

Yon Below, Otto. See under Below 
Yon Hutier, Oskar. See under 


VoBdwUarwlts,0«Mnl. Stenndw i VfUU, Uw Bob. 

Uanriti " 

ToiMl, as, SBl, 9i8 
VtqwmiM, 93, 111. Hi, aS9 
VnlSDM. 170 
" rt. IM. 1T9 

rut«, Uw Bob. Bobart, Brigadiu- 
OttMnl, >8, T9, S88 ; lattws wriMa 

Wau»OBAT«, oI tbs SMOBd Hnn- 

■un, am 

Wu OkUnak, BriUtb, lU gtvn 

mUlBkM, «, S, 390, 8M, BOB 
Wm oom^ondMite, 39S 
WufntJa-AbMMoon, US, 3S9 
WuBlngi MDt by Oongh't l«(t to 

Wat prapaouidk, 101 

WwVyiKc lu, sas 

101, los, acM, aoti 

Wftterioo, 196, an, 9B9 

Wktti, sir B. B., OmiuDdsr ol the 
IBth OoTM. 8, 13, 74, 91, 93, 110. 
Ill, tl7, lis, laO, 181, isa, 160, 
106, lU, 169, 170, 171, 173, 174, 

ne, aiT, sss, sss 

W«b«n, (Mtunl von, 51, S7 
WaUIoctod and " OhulM O'lSanr/," 

WdtlngtoD, 14, 6S, 111, aei, 383, 817 
WathHkll, Cokmal, n, 38S 
WhtUD. Uont., oI tha Saoond 

Wfdeolng H^a trant, 10, SS, 800 

WiamMurt, Itt, 180, 3S6 

WUlianu, If^or-Gananl W. da L„ 

366. 3m iim> ondar Tkiriitlh 

Williuia, Hajof , st OoUuy, 390 
^UllBk. ol tha a/nmrth Btypri Backi, 

WDmm), ffir HaniT, 399 
WUaon, Pmldant, 389, 809. 810 
Wm of htmnrj bM laaa, SU, 3H 
WlnaatuitfMBMita, 13,70,108,194, 

177, 107, 910, 808 
Woodooak, UaoL-Ooloaal W. J.. 134 
Wonhlp of valnntaariu, 808 
Wright, OolMMl, 139 
Wrong notlaiM oltoiiMad dnriiM Um 

bktUa, 0, 10, 346, 9S8, 3U, 396, 

Yonng, Llaat.-CMonal, 399 
Yptai Mllant, 10, 96, 900 
Ytna, 160, ITS. 179, 160 


A Book of Bridges. 

Pictoies by Fkank Bunowtn, R.A. Text bj W. Shaw 
Sparrow. Containing 36 Colour Plue* and 36 LJne 
Drawings. Crown 4to. 31s. 6d. net. 

Also Large Paper Edition, limited to 75 numbered copies, 
for sale in England and America. CrownFoUo{i5 X 10). 
Printed on lund-made paper, with an original Uthogni[j) 
by Frank Branowtn, of irtiich only the copies required 
for this Edition will be printed, after which it will be taken 
off the stone: £5 g». 

Mi. Brangwyn'i work ii rcprcsenled in this book not aO\j bj thiity-a 

latef in colour, reprodiictior- ' — -' *— "*■ '■-" ■— ' -'— "■ 

uDCioiH black and wUle cat 
nokne BranpryQ GallciT. 

The IctUTpMM b of the nvUcst inlerMt ami impotuace, for not onlj 
hu Hr. Sparrow a tpecUl kDOwlcdee of Mr. Brangwyn'i art, bat aUo he 
hu nude a pirticnlai itudj oT bridgei. 

Prints and Drawings by Frank 

With some oCher [biases of his art 

By WALTUt Shaw Sparrow. Profusely lUustiated in 
oJonr, and black and white, with reproductions of 
drawings and pictures by Frank Brancwtn, R.A. Demy 
4to. £a las. «d. net. 

Tbe rcprodnctioDi fron Mr. Biancwyn'* prinu, drawingi and book 
illntiatiaaa, Include Ibar doable peget IB colawcd coUotrpe, tineen IDn*- 
tratiooa in tlmn, four and five coloan, iadndlof • oovble pace, and 
twcntMwo QlnttniioQi in two coloms, a doable page UlHtiailoa cat in 
wood V ibe ortiH htmelf, and eight Kemhmnit Pbotopavara of etchiaf 1. 

There ore abo nineiy black and white iUattratioot in tbe ten. 

itirmitt Pll.^" . 

raatiaaa. . . . The nlame.wbieh beacdlentlrprodacad, tbe printing of 
>e pIMei and letterptot tMiw k joy to tbe eoonoMHor^ eye, riioald find a 
loot oo tb* boobbdTts ot sO loren of Brilith art" 


The Road to En-dor : 

Being an Account of how Two Prisoners of War at 
Yozgad in Turkey Won Their Way to Freedom. 
By E. H. Jones, Lieut. Indian Army Reserve. With 
Illustrations by C. W. Hill, Lieut. Royal Air Force. 
Seventh Edition. Crown 8vo. 8s« 6d. net. 

Daily Telegraph, — "This is one of the most amazing, one of the most 
realistic, grimmest, and at the same time most entertaining books ever given 
to the pablic. ... as droll, and as marvellous as any to be found in the 
' Arabian Nights.' . . . < The Road to En-dor' is a book with a thrill in 
every page, is fall of genuine adventure . . . everybody should read it." 

ifomingPost, — " It is easily the most surprising story of the escape of 
prisoners of war which has yet appeared. . . . No more effective exposure 
of the methods of the medium mu ever been written. . . . This book is 
indeed an invaluable reduction to absurdity of the claims of the spiritualist 
coteries." . 

The War Diary of the 5 th Seaforth 

By Captain D. Sutherland. Second Edition. Crown 
8yo. 6s« net. 

The 5th Seaforths played an important part in the Great War, and 
Captain Sutherland, wno was an officer in this battalion, has written a very 
careful and accurate recoid of their activities. But the book is more than 
a mere regimental record, for the author has added a really human interest 
to his narrative by the introduction of just the ri^ht amount of incident and 
by his own obvious interest in the fortunes of his battalion. 

A Captive at Carlsruhe. 

By Joseph Lee. Illustrated with drawings by the Author. 
Crown 8vo. 78. 6d« net. 

Mr. Joseph Lee is already known as the author of some of the finest 
verse inspired by the war. " A Captive at Carlsruhe " discovers him as a 
writer of equally distinguished and vivid prose. The book describes the 
varied experience of a yoir's captivity in the cosmopolitan camp at Carlsruhe 
and other ex-German prison camps, and will probably prove to be the most 
complete picture of the difficulties and the diversions of that uneasy phase 
of life which has so far appeared. 

Small Craft. 

By Lieut. G. H. P. Muhlhauser, R.N.R. With numerous 
Illustrations from photography. Crown 8vo. te* 6d. net 

This is an account of a sporting and unique adventure which took shape 
at the beginning of the war, when a number of Cambridge undergraduates, 
officered by yachtsmen, borrowed a small 270 ton steam yacht, the 
Zarefahy and succeeded in getting themselves attached to the mine 
sweeping service. 




3 2044 036 303 618 

The boiTower must return this item on or before 
the last date stamped below. If another user 
places a recall for this item, the boiTower will 
benotif  '