Wednesday 4 April 2018

When or If?

Thursday 4th April 1918

With the seeming expiration of the great enemy thrust towards Amiens everyone at the front feels as if they are marking time. Will the Germans try to inject new life into their offensive? Or will they try their luck somewhere else along the Western Front? very few think they will now simply dig in. For a few brief weeks they still have an advantage in manpower and material before the Americans arrive en masse. Surely they must seek to exploit this? Common opinion is that if they do not their prospects of winning this war are finished.

The 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, is still in northern Italy but is making its way to France. They marched to Tavernelle today and the first train heading for Amiens will leave tonight. There are five British divisions currently in Italy, along with a greater number of French divisions. The Bedfords are part of 5th Division, we understand that, for the moment, the other four will remain in Italy.

The 2nd Battalion has now crossed the Belgian border at a place called Roesbrugge-Haringe, which it reached by train this evening. This village is a few miles north-west of Poperinge, some miles west of Ypres.

The 4th Battalion is having to rebuild after its magnificent work on Bouzincourt ridge a few days ago. Seven new officers - Lieutenants H P McConway and H R Gledstanes along with Second Lieutenants R B Ruddock, N W Miln, J Jenkins, C Lovatt and T J Waller joined today, along with seventeen other ranks from 26th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Irish)(1).

The 6th Battalion is in support at Bucquoy. It, too, has received a new officer, Captain Carthew.

The 7th Battalion remains at Gentelles near Amiens. It has again been shelled during the day and A and D companies were moved up to support 6ht Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment in the front line but did not go into action, returning to their billets a short while ago. The shelling has accounted for seven men killed and ten wounded, losses the battalion, much reduced in strength, can scarcely sustain.

Sources: X550/2/5; X550/3/wd; X550/5/3; X550/7/1; X550/8/1

(1) R B Ruddock of 5th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, attached to 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment would be killed two days later and is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial; Charles W Lovatt, formerly of 26th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, would be killed on 12th April and is buried at Aveluy Wood Cemetery. Thomas Jenkinson Waller, formerly of 3rd Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, would die on 28th September and is buried at Sunken Road Cemetery, Boisleux-Saint-Marc.

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