Saturday 17th August
Your correspondent is currently with the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment just south-west of Albert and north-west of Dernancourt. Two companies are in the front line. Speaking with senior officers about the attack they were firmly of opinion that they will be in action within the week and that the great success of 8th August will be capitalised upon. Their points, as expected, were that any attacks must be well prepared and have an overwhelming likelihood of success. Not surprisingly, they were not in favour of hammering away at hardening defences without proper artillery preparation, use of tanks and of aircraft. With these preparing and supporting assets however they were very keen to retake Albert.
On the subject of Albert, I had imagined it to have been flattened by the fighting in March. Today, however, I had the honour to be hosted by B Company in the front line and was allowed to use the company commanders powerful binoculars. to my surprise many buildings still seemed to be standing, though no doubt they are badly knocked about. The morale in the front line is excellent, not least because one or two of the veterans remarked how passive the enemy seems to be, very little sniping or artillery strikes being undertaken. Their opinion was that he is very low and they are itching to finish him.
The basilica before the loss of the town - the statue of the virgin on the top of the tower is no more and the building is more heavily damaged but it still stands