Tuesday, 8 May 2018

2nd Battalion in Action Again

Wednesday 8th May 1918

The men of the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment have been terribly thinned-out by enemy attacks since 21st March, firstly in the retreat from Saint-Quentin and now in the Ypres Salient. They form part of a composite battalion with 2nd Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment and, for the last few days have been in the front line just west of Vierstraat. The map above shows the front line, Number 2 (Bedfordshire) Company is on the right (facing south) and Number 4 (Wiltshire) Company is on the left (facing east) with Number 1 (Bedfordshire) Company in reserve and Number 3 (Wiltshire) Company in immediate support. 

At three o'clock this morning the enemy put down a barrage of gas shells on the reserve position which, with a westerly wind, drifted back into the front line. At ten minutes past four a terrific bombardment of the front line began with trench mortars and 5.9 inch shells. This lasted until just after seven this morning, by which time it was light. The enemy then attacked with that vile weapon, the flamethrower, to the fore. This forced the French troops on the battalion's right to fall back, leaving that flank exposed. The two front line companies were forced to fall back to the support line, which, thus, became the new front line. 

As I write these lines the French and the composite battalion are about to make a counter-attack to try to retake the lost position. All told so far the battalion has lost seven officers and 170 men killed and wounded. 

Source: X550/3/wd

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