Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Wednesday 3rd April 1918

The attack planned by the 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment and 11th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers took place last evening at Hangard. Progress was made, but owing to the overwhelming superiority of the enemy artillery and machine gun fire, the battalions were ordered to withdraw. Remember, this attack comes at the end of a long retreat by battalions at below half strength. One officer and two other ranks are reported killed, four officers and 48 other ranks wounded with four reported as missing. At ten o'clock last night the battalion moved back to Gentelles.

Today Lieutenant-Colonel Percival received the following letter from the brigadier, L W Sadleir Jackson: "I am enclosing you the result of the operation yesterday evening. I cannot express to you my admiration for the determination, and gallantry displayed by your Battalion. Although the attack made by your Regiment was unable to make headway in the face of overwhelming Artillery and Machine Gun Fire, the manner in which they held their ground is beyond praise and drew the whole of the enemy's strength, so that the troops co-operating on your left were able to get on to the objective. The Northamptonshire Regiment have pushed up on the right, and the whole objective is now in our possession. I mourn with you, for the loss of so many gallant Officers and men, which I fear was inevitable in so stiff an engagement. I hope you will convey to all ranks under your Command, the information that all the objective has been gained, and this is entirely due to their magnificent steadiness and behaviour in the face of overwhelming odds in artillery and machine guns. I hope you will convey the contents of this letter to all ranks in your Battalion The Northamptonshire Regiment have now direct observation on Aubercourt".

The 2nd Battalion has maintained its tradition of having an American medical officer - Lieutenant Pomcrantz. A number of officers have rejoined the battalion from leave - Captain P J Reiss, Second Lieutenant F C Baldwin, Second Lieutenant A Baker, Second Lieutenant S H Smith, Second Lieutenant P A Page and Second Lieutenant Cecil Shekury(1). Their presence will be welcomed in this unit, so greatly reduced in strength.

The 4th Battalion as gone into the front line, relieving the Highland Light Infantry at Mesnil. Meanwhile we have learned that 5th Division and the 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, is on its way back from Italy to the Western Front.

Sources: X550/2/5; X550/3/wd; X550/5/3; X550/8/1

(1) Frederick Charles Baldwin would die on 11th May, Cecil Shekury on 16th April.

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