Thursday, 27 September 2018

The Bedfords in Action Again

Friday 27th September 1918

Two of the three battalions of the Bedfordshire Regiment on the Western Front have been in action today as today has been another all-out effort by First and Third Armies. The Canadians, on the left flank have attacked Bourlon on the old Cambrai battlefield from last November and December and word has just reached us that Bourlon has, indeed, fallen. 11th Division and 56th Division have also captured a number of villages. At its greatest extent the advance has been five miles today.

South of this the battlefield is riven with countless old trenches and gives much better defensive possibilities. Thus 52nd Division has struggled and halted its advance west of Anneux. 63rd (Royal Naval) Division includes the 4th Bedfords. It passed through 52nd Division and attacked Anneux and Graincourt. The Bedfords, like the other attacking troops today had to cross the Canal du Nord (a dry ditch, in effect as the canal was still being built when the war started). They succeeded in this and captured their objective and are now in the position shown above, just west of Graincourt (see the map above) where they are acting as support. The rest of the division finally managed to take the two villages, the second objective, early this evening. 57th Division should now be passing through to attack the third objective, though darkness is falling.

To the south Guards Division, 3rd Division and 62nd Division have all taken ruined villages and have mostly taken their second objectives. 5th Division made an attack south-east of Cambrai towards Villers-Plouich. the 1st Bedfords' objective is shown on the map below and they took it by lunchtime. This afternoon, however, a strong attack caused the battalion to withdraw to the sunken road and evacuate Beaucamps - 2 officers and 19 other ranks have been killed, 6 officers and 96 other ranks wounded, including Captain Riddell, the adjutant. Twenty men are missing tonight.

The only sad note has been the attack by the American 106th Regiment. The Australian general Monash, in command of IX Corps decided to push these troops into a position overlooking the Saint-Quentin Canal but, unfortunately he underestimated the strength of the defences and the Americans could make to headway. So once again, the offensive has not been entirely successful but he who expects all objectives to be gained in this war lives in a fool's paradise and very significant gains have been made, gains which, only three months ago would have been hailed as miraculous. 

Yesterday, well to the south the French and the Americans opened an attack either side of the Argonne Forest. The Americans did well, advancing between two and four miles, though the French did not manage so great an advance progress has been satisfactory and we hear that Montfaucon, at 1,200 feet above sea-level, has fallen to the Americans today. This is very different country to Picardie and Flanders, being hilly and bedecked with thick forest, so any advance is made with great effort.

Almost everywhere on the Western Front the allies are moving forward.

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

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