Monday, 4 December 2017

A Model Withdrawal

Tuesday 4th December 1917

Around eight o’clock last night a message was received by 8th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, that the 1st Battalion, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry has withdrawn from Talmas Lock on the Escaut Canal and that steps were at once to be taken to prevent the enemy crossing the canal. Accordingly, C Company under Lieutenant Wright was ordered up to take possession of this lock and to hold it at all costs. They succeeded in establishing themselves and guarding this lock.

Orders were then received that all troops on eastern side of the canal were to be withdrawn to the western side as orders had been issued that all the bridges were to be blown up. This withdrawal was accomplished without losing a man, the battalion being the last to cross, all positions being held by them until orders were received that the bridges were ready for demolition. The bridges were then blown by the Royal Engineers with assistance from the battalion. Four men were killed during these operations(1)

He went on to say, with phlegm typical of the British soldier, that nothing of importance has occurred throughout the day and that the situation is very quiet, no reports having been received owing to runners being unable to get back to Battalion Headquarters by daylight. As I write these lines the Battalion has just received orders to establish an outpost line from Prémy Chapel to the railway which will be the outpost line until four o’clock tomorrow morning, at which time they will withdraw.

Source: X550/9/1

(1) None of them have any known grave.

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