Thursday 30 October 2014

Fighting at Zandvoorde and Sneaky Germans at Festubert

Looking from the 2nd Bedfords' position towards Zandvoorde

Friday 30th October 1914: again both our battalions have been in action today. Our contact with the 1st Battalion tells us that about 1.30 this afternoon they were rushed up to support the Devonshire Regiment and the 8th Battalion Gurkha Rifles who had been pushed from their positions east of Festubert: “We found that the Gurkhas were retiring in lumps and heard that the Devons were in a bad way as all their rifles had jammed in the mud and they had no rime to clean them”. Fortunately they were able to regain both sets of trenches.

Clearly the Germans had used deception tactics to gain the upper hand with the ferocious Gurkhas, as these little chaps from Nepal do not give up without a hard fight. Our contact tells us: “Captain Gale got his platoons up as far as a ditch within a few yards of the line and leaving them there went forward himself to a house which was practically on the line and standing by which were several Gurkhas. He walked up to them to find out what had happened and when within a few yards of them called out to them. They immediately turned round and fired point blank at him and then turned round and bolted. He had his left arm practically blown off. They turned out to be Germans dressed up in Indian kit”.

The 2nd Bedfords began the day near the village of Zandvoorde. This was held by 7th Cavalry Brigade, fighting dismounted and comorising the 1st and 2nd Lifeguards and the Royal Horse Guards – the Household Cavalry. By an overwhelming attack these gallant troops were driven from the village. A German artillery battery then emerged from Zandvoorde into the open, presumably thinking it was shelling retreating troops, only to find the 2nd Bedfords in the way, acting as Brigade reserve, and they quickly silenced it.

The capture of Zandvoorde outflanked the Bedfords’ brigade which was forced to retire, covered by the Bedfords. They have now taken up a line behind the road from Geluveld to Zandvoorde and have dug in. There will surely be another German attack tomorrow, Halloween.

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

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