Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Backs to the Wall at Cachy

Wednesday 24th April 1918

Early this morning those of us in Amiens were awakened by a very heavy bombardment which told us that the Germans were attacking again. 7th Bedfords, with the rest of 54th Brigade was called into action and by 7 a.m. was on its way to the front. We understand they initially drew up just over the River l'Avre but shortly after noon they found new positions on the high ground between Gentelles  and the south-west corner of Bois de l'Abbe, blocking the enemy's approach to Amiens. If this city were to fall the British Expeditionary Force would be in severe trouble as it is a major railhead and there is little to the west to prevent the Germans reaching the coast and, if they reach the coast they will have split the British and French armies. Our forces would, then, in effect, be surrounded through the greater part of a semi-circle from there to Ypres in the north.

At this point the enemy held the eastern edge of Bois de l'Abbe and was fighting for possession of the village of Cachy, north-east of Gentelles. Cachy was being held by two companies of 6th Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment, companies of the Suffolk and London Regiments and some Royal Engineers. An hour ago the Bedfords were ordered to attack the enemy towards the road from Villers-Bretonneux to Aubercourt north of Hangard. We understand that C Company is on the right, B Company in the centre and A Company on the left with D Company in reserve. The Bois de l'Abbe is on the left and Cachy in the right rear. This attack may play a vital part in the defence of Amiens.

The captured A7V (from Wikipedia)

During the day news has come through of an unusual feature of this German attack. Three of their tanks (they call them A7Vs) encountered three of our tanks near Villers-Bretonneux and a fight developed between them which led to one of the German machines being knocked out and a number of the crew killed. The monster was able to lumber back behind enemy lines(1)

We understand that the 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, part of 5th Division is scheduled to take part in a minor operation tomorrow between Merville and Lamotte west of Estaires.

Sources: X550/2/5; X550/8/1

(1) This A7V - Mephisto - was abandoned and captured by Australians in August. It was shipped back to Australia and is now in the Queensland Museum in Brisbane, the only surviving vehicle, only 20 being made.

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