Wednesday 22 August 2018

Albert Retaken

Thursday 22nd August 1918

Today the attacks have continued and to the immense pride of the army our old base at Albert has fallen once more into our hands. V Corps, bogged down in the quagmire around the Ancre to the north of the Somme has made no attack today but it was felt that conditions were suitable for 18th (Eastern) and 38th Divisions to make their attacks. 18th Division began south-west of Albert and 38th Division north-west. 

Overall III Corps began the day astride a piece of high ground known as the Morlancourt Ridge and was tasked with advancing two miles on a four mile front with 18th (Eastern) Division on the left and 3rd Australian Division on the right and in the centre 47th (London) and 12th (Eastern) Divisions. A good deal of softening up of the enemy was undertaken by bombing from the air by the Royal Air Force. 

The attack by 47th Division was over by eight o'clock this morning and achieved little. 12th Division, however, achieved the capture of the town of Meaulte, in happier times, an industrial suburb just south of Albert. The honour of retaking Albert fell to that splendid formation, 18th Division, 54th Brigade to the south, 55th Brigade to the north and the attack was greatly assisted by patrols last evening pushing across the River Ancre and establishing themselves on the road between Albert and Meaulte. Tonight the division is consolidating a line well to the east of the ruined town.

The 2nd Bedfords were in reserve for the attack by 54th Brigade. Colonel Percival is temporarily in command of 54th Brigade so the battalion was led today by Captain W E Aylwin MC. Altogether the battalion reports that it has lost one officer (Second Lieutenant W Whitbourn) and six other ranks killed, Lieutenant G B Reed and 48 other ranks wounded and two other ranks missing.

Like V Corps to the south of it, IV Corps has undertaken little in the way of offensive action today as it consolidates before once more taking up the advance. 1st Bedfords are still in support behind the new front line, where they stopped yesterday and have suffered a heavy bombardment by gas shells in which Lieutenant W M Stanton was wounded and Second Lieutenant H Maw has been killed. Part of the corps has been attacked by the enemy who made initial progress near Achiet-le-Petit but were then driven off.

About 5.30 this morning sentries of the 4th Bedfords noticed about a hundred of the enemy leave huts and advance in a south-westerly direction to attack one of the posts on the left of the battalion's position. Once observed C Company fired on them and reckoned to have killed nine of them. About thirty minutes later another party of the enemy approached a post in front of the battalion's centre held by A Company. they, too, were driven back, though sadly, Second Lieutenant Flory, who was in charge of the post was killed in the firefight. Later in the day strong attacks were made against 7th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers on the Bedfords' flank but were repulsed.

So ends a satisfactory day, with the remains of Albert once more in our hands. It is also a day in which all three of the regiment's remaining battalions on active service in France have been in action.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment