London County Council in the Great War 1914 - 1918
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    London County Council in the Great War 1914 - 1918

    LCC index

    CHAPTER VI.

    Western Front, 1918.

    In the prolonged fighting which lasted for about six months of the year 1917, the losses among the British and Dominion troops were very heavy, and, as an army had to be maintained for home defence, these could not be made good. Early in 1918, in order to meet this shortage, the number of battalions in a division was reduced from 13 to 10, and the troops surplus to this establishment were used to make up the deficiencies in the remaining battalions. The Germans had suffered as much, or perhaps more, but Russia had now disappeared as a belligerent, and copious reinforcements could be brought from the eastern to the western front. The difficulties of the situation were much increased because troops had been sent to aid the Italians after their serious defeat at Caporetto in 1917, and because the British Government decided to relieve the French of the defence of a further sector of the front. This decision was carried out during the winter of 1917-18 when the front from St. Quentin southwards to Barisis on the Oise was taken over. The sector measured 28 miles, bringing the total length held by the British up to 125 miles. The French troops thus relieved were formed into a reserve available for the support of either army.

    Early in 1918 it was obvious that the enemy would soon be superior in numbers, and probably in munitions. The United States had declared war on Germany on 5th April, 1917, and it was decided, pending the arrival of their troops to redress the balance, to act on the defensive. Casualties became less numerous, and in January only two of the Council's staff were killed. Corporal A. A. Withey {2nd Kings Royal Rifles, Tram.) on the 16th and S. G. Blay (7th Buffs, Tram.) on the 19th, in February none, and in March, before the opening of the German offensive, only three, namely, John Lamont (14th London, Asylums) on the 12th north of Arras, and Lance-Corp. P. W. T. Holmes (R.A.M.C, Educ.) and Lance-Corp. T. E. Fox (1st Cameronians, Tram.) who both died on the 13th of wounds received the day before near Arras and Ypres respectively.
    Captain G. Clark (General List, Educ.) was awarded the M.C. for great zeal and efficiency about this time in a forward area subject to shell-fire.

    First Battles of the Somme. 1918.

    In February it became clear that the enemy proposed to take the offensive. It was known that many divisions transferred from Russia and Italy were
    receiving special training, and aerial reconnaissances showed that communications were being improved, and ammunition and supply dumps increased. To meet this attack existing defences had to be strengthened and new ones to be prepared, and communications, especially in the Somme area, had to be improved. These works entailed much extra labour, and, as a greater length of line was being held with fewer troops than heretofore, the opportunities for training such new drafts as were being received were very limited.
    The enemy's preparations covered most of our front and, as all this could not be defended in equal strength, it was necessary to decide at what points ground could be yielded with least harm. In the north the battle lines were only fifteen miles from Dunkirk, and forty from Calais, and the possession of these and the other Channel ports was essential to our safety. The middle sector defended the few remaining collieries in northern France still held by the Allies, and also important railway points such as Bethune and Arras. In either of these sectors any extensive withdrawal would clearly be most dangerous.
    The southern sector in front of Cambrai and St. Quentin had in its rear the area devastated during the Somme fighting in 1916 and the German retreat in 1917, and here retreat was possible without greatly improving the enemy's position or seriously harming our own. This sector was therefore held most lightly.
    On the morning of 21st March, after a violent bombardment lasting some hours, the long expected assault opened on a front of about fifty miles from the Oise nearly to the Scarpe. Until midday the battlefield was obscured by a thick mist which greatly favoured the assailants by completely covering them from the view of our artillery and machine-guns. The enemy outnumbered our men in the proportion of five or more to one and, in face of such numbers, the outpost line was soon surrounded, although the posts themselves held out with the utmost gallantry for many hours. In the words of the commander-in-chief: " The prolonged defence of these different localities, under conditions which left little hope of any relief, deserves to rank among the most heroic actions in the history of the British Army."
    Several weeks of fine weather had made the marshes between St. Quentin and La Fere easily passable by infantry, so that the enemy in this part was able to effect some sort of a surprise and to make good progress. This led to a withdrawal (58th and 18th Divs.) being ordered to the Crozat Canal connecting the Oise at La Fere with the Somme to the east of Ham. The enemy was also successful at Ronssoy (16th Div.) to the south of Cambrai, and at Lagnicourt and Bullecourt to the west (6th and 59th Divs.), and orders were given for part of the salient thus formed opposite Cambrai to be vacated. Elsewhere the attack was held up by our battle positions, the 24th Division at Le Verguier, the 21st at Epehy, and the 17th on the Canal du Nord showing particular gallantry.
    On the 22nd the attack was renewed all along the line in a dense mist, which as before greatly aided the advance. The passage of the Crozat Canal was forced at several points, but for the time the enemy was prevented by a vigorous defence (58th Div.) from developing his advantage. Further north, that is to the west and north-west of St. Quentin, he was more successful, advancing four or five miles and causing us to vacate Epehy. He also made a substantial advance to the west of Fontaine-lez-Croisilles,
    On the 23rd the troops south of Ham were ordered to withdraw across the Somme, but it was hoped to hold, north of that town, the position which had been specially laid out for the defence of the Peronne bridge-head. Later the Fifth Army decided to abandon these lines. This decision had far-reaching results and it was criticised by the commander-in-chief on the ground that, taken somewhat hurriedly, it greatly interfered with the withdrawal of troops and stores, with the destruction of the various bridges, and generally with putting the river line into an adequate state of defence. Other misfortunes followed during the day, for our men were driven away from the Crozat Canal and the enemy crossed the Somme near Ham forcing a passage from the north. Further north some confusion arose at the junction of the Third and Fifth Armies, and near Ytres a gap was left through which the enemy pressed. On the extreme right of the enemy's advance Monchy and Guemappe were evacuated by our troops.
    On the 24th the enemy continued to develop the success which he had gained at the junction of the two armies, with the result that the part of the Fifth Army to the north of the Somme was driven back and, in the effort to keep in touch with it, the right of the Third Army had to retire across the battle fields of 1916. Higher up, that is to the south-east, the river, owing to the dry weather, was not a very formidable obstacle, and it was crossed at many points to the north-west of Ham. On the right of our line we were driven out of Chauny in a fog.
    On the 25th strong attacks on the line to the north of Bapaume were driven off but, although the left of the Fifth Army was transferred to the Third Army who were entrusted with the command of all troops north of the Somme, the enemy continued to force his way through the gap formed on the 23rd. In spite of all efforts this was so far from being closed that reinforcements, moved up on the 25th from the Ancre to Pozieres, found themselves unsupported on both flanks and had to fall back upon the river. To the south of the Somme where the French had now taken over the defence, including the control of what British troops still survived, the enemy captured Noyon and Nesle and pushed us back from the part of the line situated to the east and south of Frise.
    On the 26th the defence to the north of Albert became stabilised roughly on the line held before the Battle of the Somme in 1916 except near Arras, where some of the gains made to the south-east of the city in April, 1917, were maintained. Further south the situation was less satisfactory. The troops there were so reduced in numbers and so exhausted by the continual marching and fighting that they were ordered to withdraw to the line Le Quesnoy — Rosieres — Bray, but, owing to a misunderstanding. Bray was vacated and the retreat on the north side of the Somme was continued westward. Another gap was formed, this time near Roye between us and the French, and it was only with very great difficulty that the enemy was prevented from thrusting at once towards the important railway junction of Montdidier. It was on this day that General Foch was placed in supreme control of the Allied troops in France and Belgium.

    During the night of the 26th /27th Albert which, although it was for two years immediately behind the front line, had been free from the enemy since September, 1914, again fell into his hands. Our retreat from Bray enabled troops on the 27th to be passed across to the south side of the Somme in rear of the Rosieres — Bray line. Rosieres stood fast, but the line to the north as far as the river was withdrawn to Hamel and to the south to Montdidier, which was taken by the enemy from the French.
    The next day, the 28th, was marked by a signal success. With the object of capturing Arras, retaking the Vimy ridge, and so of relieving Lens, the enemy shifted his main assault from the Somme to the Scarpe, and early in the morning launched an attack with great forces on both sides of the river. The methods which had obtained such great results further south were again adopted, but this time, unaided by fog or mist, failed completely. The 4th and 56th Divisions to the north of the river held their main positions against five German divisions, and to the south the 3rd and 15th Divisions were equally successful against four German divisions. The attack was continued southwards at various points but everywhere failed, with enormous losses to the enemy.

    To return to the southern area, a force, organised under the orders of the Fifth Army Commander, out of details, stragglers, army troops, etc., and placed under the command of General Carey, had been stationed on the 26th on the line Mezieres — Marcelcave — Hamel and, as practically the only reserves available in this part, came into action on the 28th. The enemy continued to press back the French on our right and this advance, combined with the advance along the Somme, made the salient with Harbonnieres and Rosieres at its apex so dangerous that it had to be vacated, and our troops were withdrawn to a line running roughly due south from Hamel.
    By this time the enemy's attack had lost much of its weight and on the 29th Carey's Force, assisted by cavalry, took over the defence south of the Somme and so enabled some of the much harassed divisions to re-organise. On the 30th Demuin was lost and on the 31st Moreuil. For some days after this the line was comparatively quiet, but on 4th April in the course of an attack between the Somme and our right at ' The enemy troops were evidently prepared for an advance on an ambitious scale, for one prisoner was found to be carrying six days' rations, two blankets and a pair of new boots.
    Hangard and upon the French south of that point we lost Hamel. Strong attacks next day at Hangard and between Dernancourt, to the south of Albert, and Bucquoy, to the north, were completely repulsed at practically all points. When the fighting at length died down we were holding south of the Somme a line which passed to the west of Hamel and east of Villers Bretonneux and Hangard.
    Frequent local attacks ensued on different sectors, and finally the Germans on 24th April attempted to advance upon the whole of our front south of the Somme. After a conflict between tanks, the first of which there is record, and fierce fighting along the whole front, the enemy broke through at Villers Bretonneux and gained positions commanding Amiens. This threat on so important a point was not to be tolerated and a brilliant counter-attack, undertaken at short notice on the following night (the 24th /25th) by the Australians aided by the 18th Division, drove the enemy back to the east of the village almost to the line from which he had set out in the morning.

    Thus ended the second Battle of the Somme, the most serious defeat sustained by us during the war. In about ten days of actual fighting the enemy advanced on a front of forty miles to a depth of twenty to forty miles, regained large areas which had been won by the Allies only after months of desperate fighting in 1916 and 1917, and captured and held such places as Albert, Bray, Rosieres and Montdidier which had not been in his possession since the opening of the war and then only temporarily. He claimed to have taken, chiefly from us, 70,000 prisoners and 1,100 guns. Immense quantities of stores and material, which in so hurried a retreat were not destroyed, fell into his hands. Our casualties in this battle, and immediately afterwards at the Lys amounted to 400,000,  most of them in the Somme area.

    The German casualties were about the same, for they have admitted the loss of 300,000 wounded and, as the proportion of wounded to killed throughout the war was usually three to one, these figures imply a loss in killed of about 100,000. It is clear that the legend, at one time current, that the defence collapsed is a legend and nothing more. Only the most resolute defence could have inflicted such enormous casualties and have foiled the plan, supported by a great superiority in numbers and munitions, of capturing Amiens and of separating the British and French armies.

    To meet these losses troops and munitions were hurried out from England, troops were recalled to France from Italy, Salonica, Palestine and elsewhere, and President Wilson gave orders that the partially trained American troops in France should be temporarily incorporated with 'English or French brigades.

    In the operations described above the M.C. was won by four of the Council's staff:
    (i) Lieut. H. T. Maddocks (M.G.C., Comp.) on 21st March during a withdrawal at Le Mesnil, near Peronne, " held on unsupported by infantry, until almost surrounded, when he withdrew in good order doing great execution as he retired. He was the last to cross a bridge before its destruction."
    (ii) Capt L. K. Spencer (London, Educ.) on 28th March " handled his company in a difficult counter-attack with great ability, and later, when it was necessary to clear up the situation, he personally reconnoitred in the face of machine-gun fire and sniping, sending back invaluable information as to the enemy's position. He was wounded while doing this, but insisted on carrying on until the advance and consolidation had been effected."
    (iii) Lieut. A. P. Comyns (10th R. Welch Fusiliers, Clerk) at Hamel on 30th March, " when a considerable length of trench on both sides had been evacuated, held the trench with a Lewis gun and three men, keeping up a steady fire and inflicting many casualties until reinforcements arrived."
    (iv) Lieut. D. J. Davies (R. Welch Fusiliers, Educ). " By his personal example, and by the excellent fire control which he maintained, he kept his front intact against repeated enemy attacks. At night he went out on patrol on three occasions, capturing a prisoner and killing a machine-gun crew and bringing in the gun."

    Co. Sergeant-Maj. J. C. Cairns, D.C.M. (Oxford and Bucks L.L, Educ.) received a bar to his D.C.M., but details are lacking. Co. Sergeant-Maj. S. C. P. Drury, D.C.M. (R.E., Educ.) received a bar to his D.C.M. for his gallantry at Highland Ridge. " When his company were advancing in the open and were met by very heavy machine-gun fire, he walked up and down in front of the line encouraging the men and ensuring that the line was maintained in good order. Later, under heavy fire, he withdrew the company in good order, and assisted a pioneer battalion to fight a rear-guard action." Sergeant (afterwards Regt. Sergeant-Maj.) J. Wild (R.E., Asylums) won the D.C.M. near Albert, but no details are available.
    Corp. (afterwards Sergeant) F. Hills, M.M. (London, Educ.) received a bar to his M.M. Towards the end of March, between Bus and Bertincourt, he " carried out patrol work under exceptionally trying conditions and extreme closeness of contact with the enemy, securing valuable information which enabled the battalion to get clear when practically surrounded. Throughout the whole of the withdrawal of March and April he had charge of a platoon, and, by his own coolness and courage, kept up the moral of his men at all times."

    The M.M. was won by the undermentioned members of the Council's staff:
    (i) Sergeant E. Strugnell (15th London, Solr.) for bravery in action near Cambrai on 21st March.
    (ii) Sergeant (afterwards Co. Q.M.S.) P. J. W. Pollard (Beds, Educ.) near Jussy on 22nd March, " volunteered to take field kitchens and supplies to troops in the line, under enemy' observation and shell fire."
    (iii) Sergeant J. R. Austin (R.G.A.. Parks) for bravery at Bois Hullot, on 22nd March.
    (iv) Sergeant P. H. Spowage (R. Fusiliers, Educ.) on 23rd March, for the successful manner in which he assumed command at Eaucourt I'Abbaye after all his officers had become casualties.
    (v) F. H. W. Briggs (R.A.M.C, Asylums) on 24th March, near Guiscard " where, after he had been on duty continuously for 36 hours, he voluntarily searched for some French wounded who had been left behind, and brought them to safety."
    (vi) Sec.-Corp. E. H. Knowles (R.E., Housing) near Ytres, for rescuing a wounded man under heavy machine-gun fire and, the nearest dressing stations having been evacuated, carrying him a long distance to a train.
    (vii) R. A. P. Willmer (7th Manchester, Educ.) for obtaining at Ablainzeville, under heavy fire, useful information concerning the enemy's movements. Capt. S. A. French (7th R.W. Kent, Clerk) was killed at Moy during the preliminary bombardment on 20th March and Capt. H. T. Rapson (7th R.W. Kent, Educ.) wounded next day died on the 23rd. The long list of those missing on the 21st or succeeding days, the actual date of death being often unknown, included Lance-Corp. P. Ford (1st R. Dub. Fusiliers, Tram.), Sergeant L. N. Wright (11th Leicester, Asylums), O. J. Pikett (16th Rifle Brigade, Tram.) W. J. Peake (23rd Northumberland Fusiliers, Tram.), Paul Sherard (R.E., Educ), A. J. Troke (12th Kings Royal Rifles, Parks), Alfred Huddart (2 /5th Notts and Derby, Educ), W. E. Carritt (2nd Rifle Brigade, Parks), S. A. Lewis (R.F.A., Tram.), A. E. Miller (1st London, Educ). K. L. Baxter (2nd Suffolk, Comp.), Jesse Gebbett (19th Northumberland Fusiliers, Tram.), Lieut, S. J. Jennings, B.Sc, (E. Surr. and R.E., Educ), W. J. Brinklow (9th Rifle Brigade, Parks), Edward Quinlan (i8th London, Ch. Engr.), Edward Hems (24th London, Tram.), Ernest Whybrow (8th Rifle Brigade, Tram.), Frank Richardson (21st London, Arch.), Sergeant W. Kennedy (8th R.W. Kent, Asylums).
    Definite particulars are known of the undermentioned: Bomadier. W. J. Plumridge (R.H.A., Asylums) killed on 21st March near Jeancourt, Sec. -Corp. R. A.
    Howes (R.E., Ch. Engr.) died of wounds received the same day at Lagnicourt; on the 23rd J. R. Baker (23rd London, Educ.) was killed, probably near Gouzeaucourt, F. F. Drewett (2/5th R.W. Surr., Tram.) south of St. Quentin, Lieut. W. T. S. Hard (3rd London, Educ) at Tergnier and W. F. Jewers (nth Kings Royal Rifles, Comp.) near Nesle; on the 24th H. J. Sanders (28th London, Pub. H.) at Ytres and H. W. Burwood (R.A.M.C, Educ.) north of Arras; on the 25th Richard Jones (1st R. Dragoons, Tram.) near the Oise, H. F. Coombes (2nd Dragoon Guards, Asylums) probably at Montauban; on the 27th A. G. Barber (R.E., Tram.) at Harbon-nieres, and T. H. Taylor (E. Yorks, Tram.); on the 28th Corporal Jack Hill (16th London, Educ.) and J. F. B. Barrett (5th London, Comp.) and R. V. Butcher (5th London, Arch.) at Gavrelle and F. B. Rammage (R.F.A., Arch.) and Frank Dolan (R.E., Ch. Engr.) south of Arras; on the 29th Thomas Parsons (R.H.A., Tram.) died in hospital of wounds and Corporal H. V. Lane (28th London, Educ.) died as a prisoner of war of wounds received at Ytres on the 23rd. On 3rd April John Toby (5th Oxford and Bucks, Tram.) died as a prisoner of war of wounds received on 25th March, and on the 4th Corporal F. J. Hatton (R.F.A., Educ.) was killed near Corbie; Sergeant C. A. Bearing M.M , B.Sc. (5th London, Educ.) died on 16th April of wounds received at Gavrelle on 28th March and Corporal W. E. Martin (2nd R. Scots, Educ.) wounded on the I2th died on 20th April, H. W. K. Mason (7th R.W. Kent, Educ.) was killed at Villers Breton-neux on the 24th, and Sergeant W. E. Long (3rd London, Educ.) wounded this day, probably at the same place, died on the 25th. P. F. Archer (R.H.A., Tram.), wounded near St. Quentin on 28th March, died in England on 1st September.

    Battle of the Lys.
    Although an attack north of La Bassee was not unexpected, the crisis on the Somme made it necessary to weaken the defence in this sector. Many divisions were sent to the south, and others which needed a respite from the desperate fighting there were made up to strength with drafts fresh from England and put into the line in their place. The attack opened on 9th April on a front of some 12 or 15 miles between the La Bassee Canal and armentieres which had been the scene of so much fighting in 1915. Again aided by a thick mist the enemy over-ran Portuguese divisions which were being relieved and, pressing rapidly forward, reached the river Lys at and near Sailly. The withdrawal of the Portuguese opened up the British divisions on each side of them to attack in flank and rear. The 55th, north of the La Bassee Canal, stood fast, but the 40th to the south of Armentieres were compelled to give ground. Towards evening the Germans near Estaires and Bac St. Maur forced passages over the river, the former being driven back by the 51st and 50th Divisions who were in reserve behind the Portuguese.
    Next day the enemy captured Estaires and, although driven out, succeeded later in regaining the town. On this day the battle spread northwards to the neighbourhood of Hill 60. Aided once more by mist the Germans pushed back the 25th Division north of Armentieres and the 19th on the east side of the Messines ridge, but the situation at the latter point was somewhat restored in a counter-attack by the 9th Division. Armentieres, thus threatened from the north and from the south, was vacated during the evening by the 34th Division.

    On the 11th Messines, Neuf Berquin and Merville were captured, and with the object of reducing the length of line held to the north our troops, under orders, vacated the Messines ridge and withdrew to the line Wulverghem — Neuve Eglise. On the 12th the Germans attacked in great strength to the north-west of the salient they had formed and seized Merris, but were checked by the 29th Division. Renewing the attack next day they pushed back the 29th and 31st Divisions which had already suffered heavy losses, and, in an effort to reach the important railway junction at Hazebrouck, got as far as the eastern edge of Nieppe Forest. Here they were finally held by Australian troops brought up from the Somme. Neuve Eglise, after changing hands several times, finally passed to the enemy on the 14th, and on the 15th the enemy developed his success by capturing Bailleul, During these latter days a previously arranged plan for the evacuation of the Passchendaele salient was carried out, the operation being completed by the night of the I5th/16th, when our line, starting from the west and south of Langemarck, passed through St. Julien and to the east of Frezenberg.
    On the 16th Wytschaete was lost, but the 9th Divsion held on to the outskirts of the village, and an attack next day on the commanding feature known as Kemmel Hill was repulsed by the 34th, 49th and 19th Divisions. On the 18th a renewal of the attack at Givenchy and Festubert was successfully met by the 1st Division, while to the west the 4th and 61st Divisions defeated other attacks with heavy losses.

    Some days of comparative quiet now intervened during which French reinforcements took over the Kemmel sector. On the 25th the battle was renewed
    between the Comines Canal and the north of Bailleul, with the result that the 21st and 9th Divisions were forced back along the Canal and at Wytschaete, and the French lost Kemmel village and hill. Next day French and British troops recaptured Kemmel village, but being unsupported on the flanks had to withdraw. The loss of Kemmel Hill seriously threatened our positions in the Ypres salient where the communications and defences were under direct observation, and as a precaution, on the night of the 26th/27th, our troops were withdrawn to a point south of La Clytte, the line passing thence to the west of Zillebeke and through Wieltje and Pilckem. Thus on the east round to the south and south-west the enemy approached Ypres nearer than at any time since the fighting line became stabilised in the autumn of 1914.
    On the 29th very fierce attacks delivered between Locre and Voormezeele by almost overwhelming numbers of troops were completely defeated by the 21st, 49th and 25th Divisions.
    The casualties on both sides have already been dealt with under the Battles of the Somme, 1918. In this, our second serious defeat on the western front, the Germans advanced a maximum of ten miles on a front of twenty. By the capture of Kemmel and the recapture of the Messines ridge they caused us to vacate most of the ground won in more than three months' bitter fighting during the summer and autumn of 1917. Their advance brought them close to Bethune, Hazebrouck and Poperinghe, and enabled them to harass with gun-fire at moderate range those important points in our communications by road and rail.

    The fate of Merville, Merris, Bailleul and many other little towns and villages was a pathetic feature of the fighting. As the line in this part had hardly varied, their only association with the war had been to provide peaceful quarters for advanced depots, hospitals, rest billets and the like. The inhabitants might therefore hope that such good fortune would continue to the end, and that their homes, although sometimes threatened, would escape destruction. Such hopes were rudely shattered for, after a respite of nearly four years, these places suddenly found themselves in the thick of the struggle, and in a few days were as utterly wrecked as though they had been for years in the forward battle area.

    Capt. (afterwards Lt.-Col.) W. Parkes, M.C. (8th Gloucester, Educ.) in fighting near Messines gained a bar to the M.C. " When the enemy penetrated the line ... he led forward the battalion and such other details as he was able to rally and restored the situation. His initiative and coolness saved a general withdrawal."
    Lieut. F. Morgan (R.G.A., Educ.) for gallantry at Kemmel and Mont Noir was awarded the M.C. " As senior subaltern of his battery he did splendid work on many occasions and commanded the battery very efficiently for some time." Capt. R. E. Licence (2nd Durham L.L, Educ), as adjutant of his battalion, rendered most valuable assistance throughout the operations, and received the Croix de Guerre. S. Seaman (R.F.A., Asylums) was awarded the M.M. for his gallantry at Kemmel Hill on 25th April.

    In this fighting Thomas C. Tniman (R.G.A., Educ.) was killed on 10th April, Lieut, and Quart.-Mast. A. H. Jibb (R.A.M.C, Asylums) on the 12th, A. H. Hampton (R.A.M.C, Asylums) on the 13th probably in this sector, A. W. May (8th R.W. Surr., Tram.) on the same day, Lance-Corp. A. J. Thomas (R.E., Tram.) near Meteren on the 14th, and Lieut. Robert Findon (R.E., Estates and Val.) near Bethune on the 18th. Charles Herd (R.F.A., Tram.), wounded near Armentieres earlier in the month, died on the 19th, and on the same date Lieut. E. W. Standerwick (2nd Essex, Stores) was killed near Bethune. Sergeant Jack Heritage, M.M. (R.G.A., Tram.) was killed on the 21st. Lieut. R. T. Wood (M.G.C.. Comp.) was killed near Wytschaeto, Bombadier Victor Zoller (R.G.A., Educ.) near Kemmel, Sergeant T. Bailey (12th Glos., Asylums) near Merville and Lieut. C. S. Day (R.F.A., Educ.) east of Bethune, all on the 25th, Lieut. C. W. Clark (13th Rifle Brigade, Educ), and A. E. Broad (4th R. Fusiliers, Parks) on the 26th, and H. G, Lewin (15th Durham L.L, Educ.) near Wytschaete on the 27th. G. H. Jones (R.F.A., Tram.), wounded and taken prisoner at Kemmel Hill, died on an unknown date some months later.

    Battle of the Aisne, 1918.
    An attack was quite possible on practically any part of the British front, and this prevented troops from being completely withdrawn from the fighting area. On the French front, however, there were thought to be several quiet sectors and to one of these, to the north-west of Rheims, were transferred a few divisions with the hope that they would have a period of comparative rest in which, after their heavy losses on the Somme and the Lys, to refit and to re-organise. This hope was not realised for on 27th May, after only a few weeks, the Germans opened an attack on a front of some forty miles between Rheims and the north-west of Soissons. The 21st Division near Loivre, the 8th at Berry- au-Bac on the Aisne, and the 50th near Ville-aux-Bois, the 25th being in general reserve, were driven back across the Aisne, the Vesle and the Ardre with enormous losses, the 8th for instance losing 7,000 infantry out of 9,000. At the same time the French on our left were driven from the Chemin des Dames where the British had been held up in September, 1914, but which had been captured by the French in the spring of 1917. After a week's fighting the Germans had taken 45,000 prisoners and 400 guns and had advanced some thirty miles to Villers-Cotterets and to Chateau-Thierry on the Marne. There the defence by the French and the Americans, aided by the 19th Division, prevented any further success.

    During the fighting on the 27th Lieut. R. T. Boyes (R. Suss., Educ.) " re-organised men of his company and stragglers, dug a line, and held off enemy attacks throughout the night and again in the morning. He himself brought down with rifle fire a low-flying enemy aeroplane. ..." He was awarded the M.C.
    Those killed included Mark Farrow (2nd Devons, Asylums) near Berry-au-Bac on 26th May and Sergeant R. W. Stevens (2nd Northants, Tram.) at Berry-au-Bac, William Pollock (4th S. Staffs, Educ.) and Bernard Sibbitt (R.A.M.C, Comp.) all on the 27th. Walter Butler (8th Border, Educ.) who was taken prisoner on the latter date died in Germany on 8th September.

    General Casualties.
    J. R. McBean (R.E., Clerk) died on 22nd April as the result of an accident on the railway at Audruicq, Frank Wiscombe (2nd Wilts, Asylums) was missing on 8th May, Sergeant G. O. King (R.G.A., Educ.) died at Rouen on the 11th of heart failure, Lieut. L. F. Brown, B.A. (M.G.C., Educ.) died on the 14th of wounds received on the 10th, S. E. Martin (Grenadier Guards, Tram.) on the 27th of wounds received near Arras, and Lieut. A. L. Tongue (R.F.A., Educ.) was killed on the 28th in the same neighbourhood. On 2nd June, Lieut. Benjamin Downes (2nd London, Educ.) was killed, on the 6th Lieut. G. H. Spicer (17th R. Fusiliers, Tram.) was killed at Monchy-au-Bois, to the south of Arras, on the 9th Bombadier F. H. Voak (R.F.A., Tram.) was killed near Verdun, on the 13th Samuel Goss (R.F.A., Stores) died of wounds received sometime before, on the 15th S. V. Duncton (4th R. Fusiliers, Tram.) died of wounds received near Bethune, on the 17th Co. Sergeant-Maj. F. A. Kingham (15th London, P. Cont.) was killed near Albert, and on the 18th Capt. D. T. O'Flynn (R.A.M.C, Asylums) died of appendicitis. H. E. Bishop (Rifle Brigade, Tram.) taken prisoner on 21st March died of pneumonia on 29th June near Peronne.
    On 15th July John Reynolds (R.E., Asylums) was killed as the result of an accident at Etaples, on the 20th W. H. Green (R. Irish Rifles, Parks) was killed to the south or south-west of Ypres, and on the 25th Co. Sergeant-Maj. J. G. S. Adam (8th London, Educ.) was killed in a trench raid south of Albert. Sergeant E. Hook (9th R. Inniskilling Fusiliers, Educ.) was killed on 4th August near Poperinghe, A. J. Suckling (6th London, Tram.) died on the 10th of wounds probably received near Arras, A. E. Richards (51st M.G.C., Comp.) on the 28th of wounds received on the 25th, and F. S. N. Lediard (13th R. Fusiliers, Asylums) also on the 28th near Beaumetz. On the 14th Sergeant A. C. Wilby (8th Buffs, Tram.) who had been wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Loos in September, 1915, died of pneumonia near The Hague whither he had been transferred from Germany.
    G. E. Wybrow (R.A.M.C., Arch.) was killed on 5th September to the south-west of Ypres, H. H. Dean (M.G.C., Tram.) on the 10th of gas poisoning, Bombadier R. Butland (R.G.A., Asylums) on the 25th near Arras, and T. T. Jackaman (2nd Devons, Parks) on the 27th probably in front of Vimy Ridge. Lance-Corp. R. A. Hale (1st R. Berks, Educ.) was killed near Noyelles on 3rd October, and R. C. Tovey (R.F.A., Educ.) on the 12th. F. W. Earl (R.G.A., Parks) died on the 20th of gas poisoning.

    Battle of the Marne, 1918.
    To make clear what follows it will be well at this point to survey the general position and to glance at events on the French front. In two months the enemy had made three great and successful attacks; one, chiefly against the British in the valley of the Somme, had brought him nearly to Amiens., a second, also against the British in the valley of the Lys, had brought him nearly to Hazebrouck, and a third, chiefly against the French in the valleys of the Aisne and the Marne, had brought him to within forty miles of Paris. Although each assault, successful at first, had been foiled, he continued his efforts to make that breach in the Allied lines which would lead to complete victory. Early in June the French, attacked between Montdidier and Noyon, were pressed back, but only for a few miles, and finally on 15th July the last great assault by the enemy was opened. Rheims, which being at the apex of a sharp salient could be attacked on two sides, was the main objective, but the whole offensive covered a front of more than fifty miles. To the west and south-west of the city there were some slight gains, but to the east the assault, owing to the skilful tactics of General Gouraud, was completely shattered.
    On 18th July General Foch, judging that the Germans had now committed the bulk of their remaining reserves to this last attack, launched his counter-offensive, directing it at first against the western half of the great salient formed in the German line by their success in the recent Battle of the Aisne. French and American troops, secretly assembled in the woods near Villers - Cotterets, were successful between Chateau-Thierry and Soissons. The British 15th Division, having relieved the Americans near Dommiers to the south-west of Soissons, captured Buzancy after a fluctuating struggle, and on their right the 34th Division took Beugneux. Meanwhile on the east side of the salient the 51st and 62nd Divisions advanced along the valley of the Ardre. In about ten days of this fighting the Germans were driven back to the Aisne with the loss of 20,000 prisoners and 400 guns. Once again the Marne proved to be the point at which an advance seriously threatening Paris had been arrested and thrown back, but whereas in 1914 the French, who on both occasions bore the brunt of the attack, were aided only by a few British divisions, in 1918 they were aided also by Americans and Italians.

    In the fighting on the east of the salient Sergeant P. Clark (R.A.S.C, Tram.) was awarded the Croix de Guerre. He " organised ... a service of cars between loading posts and aid posts, going and coming continuously by bombarded roads, establishing control posts and "regulating the circulation of cars." W. T. F. Stiff {62nd M.G.C., P. Health) won the M.M. " Despite almost insuperable difficulties, he maintained communication between brigade, battalions and his own company. He repeatedly repaired wires under heavy shell fire."
    Only two of the Council's staff lost their lives during these operations, H. W. Drewett (2nd /4th Hampshire, Tram.) who was killed on 20th July near Jonchery to the west of Rheims, and Lieut. C. F. Wilson (2/4th Hampshire., Educ.) who was wounded on the 23rd near Marfaux and died on the 27th at Epernay.

    Minor Operations on British Front.

    Advantage was taken of the lull in the fighting on the main British front to re-organise the defences, and, as a preliminary, eight divisions, the 14th, 16th, 31st, 34th, 39th, 40th, 59th, and 66th, which, having suffered the most, had been reduced to cadres were temporarily written off as fighting units. To relieve the situation at Amiens, Bethune, Hazebrouck and even at St. Pol, twenty miles to the west of Arras, where much-used railway junctions were under shell fire, three routes for north and south traffic were provided, this making it necessary to lay some 500 miles of broad gauge track. New lines of defence in rear consisting of about 5000 miles of trench had also to be constructed by the weary troops.
    As, however, the numbers of our men increased and their confidence and training improved, various minor operations were undertaken. These included the capture of Ville-sur-Ancre on 19th May, and an advance near Morlancourt, to the south of Albert, on 10th June, both by the Australians. An advance by the French near Locre Hospice on 20th May was followed early in July by the capture of the Hospice, and on the 14th of the month by the final capture of Ridge Wood in the same neighbourhood by the 6th Division. On 3rd June the Australians and the 29th Division captured Mont de Merris, west of Merris village. On 28th June the 5th and 31st Divisions made a successful surprise attack to the east of the Forest of Nieppe, capturing the enemy's defences on a front of 6,000 yards and taking 450 prisoners. The plateau of Villers-Bretonneux was cleared by the Australians, and Hamel and Vaire Wood were re-captured with 1,500 prisoners on 4th July. A week later some slight advances were made near Merris, on the 19th the 9th Division recaptured Meteren, and on the night of the 28th/29th Merris was recaptured by the Australians.

    The Battle of Amiens.
    The failure of the enemy's attack on Rheims on 15th July and the success, three days later, of the counter-offensive at the Mame and the Aisne transferred the initiative to the Allies. In order to maintain this advantage it was arranged that the French, American and British armies should undertake separate local offensives, the task assigned to the British being an advance to the east and south-east of Amiens so as to free the railway communications through the city from enemy pressure. It was desirable that the attack should be a surprise, and elaborate precautions were therefore taken to lead the enemy to suppose that any effort contemplated would be at the other, that is the northern, end of our line. With this object, headquarters and casualty clearing stations were built in conspicuous positions in Flanders, and training and general activity behind that part of the line were simulated. Meanwhile preparations were made rapidly and secretly for the advance at Amiens, and on 8th August the attack opened at dawn in a thick mist. The Canadians were on the right immediately north of the Amiens — Roye road, the Australians in the centre at Villers-Bretonneux and to the south of the Somme, and the 58th, 18th and 12th Divisions on the left to the north of the river. Within a very short time these troops, aided by 400 tanks, had pushed forward two miles to the line Demuin — Marcelcave — Cerisy, where the Cavalry Corps joined in the advance. By nightfall the infantry were six or seven miles from their starting point, the only check being at Chipilly which was not stormed until the next day, 13,000 prisoners had been captured with nearly 400 guns and stores of ammunition, etc.
    On the 9th the enemy's resistance stiffened, but this was overcome and by the 12th, when the battle was broken off, we had reached the line Damery — Lihons — Proyart — Bray. This represented an advance of some twelve miles with the capture of a total of 22,000 prisoners and over 400 guns. The Amiens — Paris railway was freed from enemy fire and, by seizing Montdidier and by bringing Chaulnes under shell-fire, the Allies greatly hampered the enemy's arrangements for the movement of troops and munitions.

    In the fighting on 8th August Sergeant E. C, Dare (London, Educ.) won the D.C.M. for capturing, with the help of about thirty men, mostly stragglers from different regiments, a German strong point with twenty machine-guns and nearly 300 prisoners, and Corp. R. B. Williams (London, Educ.) won the M.M. for his bravery near Chipilly. Batty. Q.M.S. E. W. Martin (R.F.A., Educ.) also won the M.M. about this time, Lieut. P. C. Cleall B.A. (10th Essex, Educ), wounded and taken prisoner on the 8th, died of his wounds on 26th August.

    Second Battles of the Somme, 1918.
    [General Ludendorff described 8th August as " the black day of the German Army in the history of this war." To it he attributed the defection of Bulgaria and the general discouragement of Germany's allies and on 14th August he advised his government to seek for avenues of peace. {My War Memories, 1914-18, vol. ii. p. 679). ]

    The attack was now shifted northwards to the line between Albert and Arras where the ground was suitable for tanks and where an advance to the south-east, in conjunction with the recent success at Villers- Bretonneux, might produce far-reaching results. As a preliminary, on 21st August the line from Beaucourt and Miraumont, in the valley of the Ancre, northwards to Moyennevillc, was successfully attacked by the 21st, 42nd, New Zealand, 37th, 2nd and Guards Divisions. The 5th, 63rd and 3rd Divisions, passing through them, continued the advance, and by the end of the day the Arras railway had been reached, and in some places crossed, between Miraumont and Achiet. As the result of an attack, early next morning, by the Australians and the 32nd, 47th, 12th, 18th and 38th Divisions with a few tanks on the sector between the Somme and the Ancre, Albert was captured by the 18th Division, and our front was advanced to the east of the Bray — Albert road. The fighting on these two days yielded 4,400 prisoners and a few guns.
    The way was thus cleared for a general attack between Chaulnes and Arras, which opened on 23rd August on a front of 33 miles. The divisions in action on the 21st and 22nd continued their advance in a general easterly direction, while on the left the attack was taken up by the 56th and 52nd Divisions. The assault was everywhere successful, particularly to the east and north-east of Achiet, and the enemy began to show signs of confusion. Soon after midnight on the 23rd/ 24th the advance was resumed, the Australians capturing Bray, the 12th and 18th Divisions positions to the north, the 38th Thiepval which held out for three months during the Somme fighting in 1916, the 42nd Miraumont and Pys, the 5th Irles, the Guards St, Leger, the 56th positions near Croisilles and the 52nd Henin. These successes were followed up, and on the 27th the 18th Division captured Trones Wood, on the 28th the 12th and 58th Divisions captured Hardecourt, and the 38th and 17th advanced near Delville Wood towards Flers. On the 29th Bapaume fell to the New Zealanders, and the 56th and 57th Divisions reached Bullecourt and Hende-court. The enemy's resistance was now increasing, but, notwithstanding this, the Australians, in the night of 30th/31st August, stormed Mont St. Quentin to the north-west of Peronne, beat off numerous counter-attacks and on 1st September occupied the town.
    After this achievement the advance halted for a time. Sir Douglas Haig summarised the operations in the following words: "Twenty-three British divisions . . . had driven 35 German divisions from one side of the old Somme battlefield to the other. . . . They had inflicted upon the enemy the heaviest losses in killed and wounded, and had taken . . over 34,000 prisoners and 270 guns." Part of the retirement was to some extent voluntary, but the victories of 8th and 21st August had disorganised the enemy's defences and greatly accelerated his retreat. ,

    The M.C. was gained by five of the Council's staff as follows :
    (i) Lieut. A. H. Collins (32nd M.G.C., Educ.) at Herleville, south of the Somme, on the 23rd " went forward with the first wave, selecting positions for his guns. . . . As a result of his forward observation under heavy fire, he was able to place his guns so that effective neutralising fire was brought to bear on the enemy."
    (ii) Lieut. C. L. Henstridge (4th London, Educ.) on the 23rd at Boyelles, almost due south of Arras, " seeing that the leading company was held up, pushed his platoon round the enemy's flank and enfiladed part of the trench."
    (iii) Capt. A. W. K. Burnett (R.F.A., Educ). Near Bihucourt on the 25th, while his " battery was firing a barrage, the enemy commenced a heavy bombardment. He sent all spare men away to cover and remained moving about the battery encouraging the men."
    (iv) Lieut. E. C. Yalden (7th Middx., Educ.) at Bullecourt " during heavy fighting which lasted several days, displayed marked powers of leadership. . . . When his company was almost surrounded, he held on to his position with great resolution, repelling several attacks."
    (v) Capt. G. Ames (R.H.A., Educ.) in connection with operations, details of which are not known, leading to the fall of Bapaume.
    Co. Sergeant-Maj. T. Archdeacon (7th London, Educ.) won the D.C.M. on the 26th when, near Maricourt to the east of Albert, " with an officer and eighteen men, he secured a commanding position about 1,000 yards in front of the main line. The party was subjected to heavy enfilade machine-gun fire, the officer and twelve men becoming casualties. He immediately took command ... and beat off an enemy counter-attack. He subsequently held on for eight hours."
    The M.M. was won by C. W. Shrimpton (R.F.A., Estates and Vain.) at Morlancourt, near the Somme, for his gallantry in taking up ammunition under heavy fire, and by G. J. Willcocks (R.A.M.C, Educ.) for his devotion to duty near Clery-sur-Somme on 1st September.

    The casualties included Sergeant A. G. Beavis (Yorks L.I., Tram.) killed on 19th August near Herleville, A. V. Veasey (R.G.A., Tram.) near Albert on the 2ist, Lieut. J. C. Stevenson (6th R.W. Surr., Educ.) near Morlancourt, and Lieut. P. T. Sutton, B.A., B.Sc. (R.G.A., Educ.) to the south of that place, both on the 24th, W. H. D. Cole (1st Norf., Tram.) near Achiet on the 25th, Lieut. S. N. Brown (8th R. Berks, Educ.) at Longueval on the 27th, and Capt. E. C. Dupres (9th R. Fusiliers, Educ.) near Hardecourt and Co. Sergeant-Maj. F. G. Weston (16th London, Educ.) near Hendecourt, both on the 28th. Bombadier G. A. Percival (R.F.A., Tram.) was killed near Clery-sur-Somme and L. A. Reardon, B.Sc. (15th London, Educ.) near Peronne, both on 1st September, and Corp. E. W. C. Hayes (20th London, Tram.) near the latter place on the 2nd.

    Second Battles of Arras, 1918.
    The enemy's position in front of Arras had now been turned into a salient, and an attack against it was opened on 26th August. The Canadians, who had been brought up from near Chaulnes, stormed Wancourt, Guemappe and Monchy-le-Preux, and the 51st Division was equally successful, recapturing most of the area, on the north of the Scarpe, lost during the German advance five months earlier. By the end of the month our troops were in touch with the southern part of the elaborate system of trenches known as the Queant — Drocourt Switch, between the Hindenburg Line at Queant, to the south-east of Arras, and Drocourt, to the south-east of Lens. On 2nd September the 52nd and 57th Divisions and the Canadians with tanks, cavalry and motor machine-guns broke through this sector, and the 4th and 63rd Divisions following up exploited the victory. Altogether in about eight days ten British divisions defeated thirteen German divisions and captured some 16,000 prisoners and 200 guns.

    Battles of Havrincourt and Epehy.
    As a result of his defeats at Amiens, Bapaume and the Scarpe the enemy now found himself so dangerously situated that an immediate retirement became necessary. The first withdrawal, on the night of 2nd /3rd September, was to a line from Peronne along the Canal du Nord to Ytres and thence northwards to the river Sensee, but within a few days the retreat had been continued to the line Vermand — Epehy — Havrincourt — Ecourt St. Ouentin. Much of this defensive position consisted of the Hindenburg Line to which the enemy had retired in the spring of 1917 and portions of which had been captured in the Battles of Arras and Cambrai.
    The neighbourhood of Epehy and Havrincourt had been strongly fortified as a sort of outpost line, and this had to be dealt with before the main position could be attacked. The assault upon the sector at Havrincourt opened on 12th September, when the 37th Division, with the New Zealanders on its right, stormed Trescault, and the 62nd, with the 2nd on its left, stormed Havrincourt. The Epehy sector was attacked on the 18th when, to render the defence more difficult, the assault extended over a front of twenty-seven miles from near St. Ouentin to Gouzeau- court. The Australians and 74th Division were successful on the right, the 18th at Ronssoy and Lempire, the 12th, after a temporary check, at Epehy, and the 58th to the north of that village. In these two battles fifteen British divisions defeated twenty German divisions, capturing nearly 12,000 prisoners and 100 guns.

    In the attack on Gouzeaucourt on the 18th Lieut. John Evans (R. Welch Fusiliers, Educ.) reached his objective with twenty men but, as the troops on each side failed to get up into line, he was cut off from his supports. During the night he collected some fifty men, beat off six counter-attacks and captured a machine gun. His force held out until, after thirty hours' fighting, their ammunition was exhausted, when the enemy rushed the position, killing or capturing all the survivors. Lieut. Evans was amongst those taken prisoner, but he died of his wounds on the 22nd. For his gallantry he was awarded the M.C.

    Battles of Camhrai and the Hindenhurg Line.
    It had now been decided that, as part of a general scheme for dislocating the enemy's communications by rail, the British should attack on the St. Quentin — Cambrai front in the general direction of Maubeuge, an important point in those communications. The main position guarding this point was the Hindenburg Line, known to the Germans as the Siegfried Line, with subsidiary systems such as the Brunnhilde, Wotan, Hunding, etc., Lines, named after various individuals in German mythology. The whole was a powerful series of field works, dug in 1916-18 by the forced labour of civilians and prisoners of war, with many concrete shelters and emplacements, and protected by broad belts of wire. It extended from the Chemin des Dames, past La Fere, St. Quentin and Cambrai to near Arras with a depth varying from 7,000 to 10,000 yards. Included in the defences were parts of the Canal du Nord and the Canal de l'Escaut. The former connects the Somme at Peronne with the Sensee midway between Cambrai and Douai, and the latter connects the Somme near St. Quentin with the Escaut (or Scheldt) to the north of Valenciennes.
    When bridges had been destroyed, the long stretches of water were a formidable obstacle to all arms, but especially to tanks, and the difficulties of crossing were greatly increased by the fact that considerable lengths were in cuttings as much as sixty feet deep, the steep sides of which, faced with brick or masonry, gave little or no foothold.
    The less difficult sector, about thirteen miles long, containing part of the Canal du Nord, was dealt with first, the battle opening on 27th September. The 5th, 42nd, 3rd and 62nd Divisions on the right were already across the canal, and their advance on a front between Gouzeaucourt and Flesquieres was comparatively easy. To the north of Flesquieres the 2nd Division, the Guards, the 52nd, 63rd and 57th Divisions and the Canadians had to force passages on a narrow front and, having done so, most of them, instead of continuing on their original line, had to debouch to the south-east or north-east in order to gain room. The part of this canal immediately to the north of St. Quentin is also known as the St. Quentin Canal.
    The enemy's defence being thus thrown into confusion; the 11th and 56th Divisions crossed near Marquion and Sauchy without great difficulty. In spite of strong resistance the troops throughout the sector pressed on all that day and the next, the average gain being rather less than five miles in depth.

    On the 29th the attack was transferred to the sector north of St. Quentin which contained part of the Canal de L'Escaut. This was the scene of one of the most striking exploits of the whole war, described by the commander-in-chief in the following words: " Equipped with life-belts, and carrying mats and rafts, the 46th Division stormed the western arm of the canal at Bellenglise and to the north of it, some crossing the canal on footbridges which the enemy was given no time to destroy, others dropping down the sheer sides of the canal wall, and, having swum or waded to the far side, climbing up the farther wall to the German trench lines. ... So gallantly, rapidly and well was the attack executed . . . that this one division took on this day over 4,000 prisoners and 70 guns." On this and subsequent days the attack was also successful at other points, namely the 6th and 1st Divisions to the north of St. Quentin, the Americans and Australians at Bellicourt and the 18th and 12th Divisions at Vendhuille.
    In these two battles thirty-one British and two American divisions defeated thirty-nine German divisions and captured 36,000 prisoners and 380 guns. Of more importance than the material gains was the loss of moral among the enemy troops and civilian population owing to the fact that the last and strongest of his prepared positions had been shattered and that the threat to his communications was now instant and direct.

    For gallantry shown when, as just narrated, the 46th Division stormed the enemy's lines at Bellenglise, Capt. W. L. Bass (4th Leicester, Educ.) was awarded the M.C. Sergeant H. Tester (R.F.A., Parks) received the M.M. for exceptional bravery in action at different times during September.
    During preliminary fighting to the north of St. Quentin H. P. Obendorf (Kings Royal Rifles, Educ.) was awarded the M.M. for conspicuous bravery in action on 20th September, and on the 26th Sergeant W. T. G. Jacobs (Labour Corps, P. Cont.) won the M.S.M. when, although the immediate vicinity of the ammunition dump at which he was working was subjected to heavy bursts of shell fire, he encouraged his men to continue their work of unloading ammunition from a train and reloading into lorries, a very urgent task.

    The only serious casualties amongst the Council's staff in these battles were Thomas Bayliss (1st Gren. Gds., Housing) killed near Flesquieres on 27th September, Sergeant A. S. Devis, M.M. (Tank Corps, Tram.) on the 29th, H. J. Batchelor (6th York and Lanc, Educ.) to the north-west of Cambrai and Lieut. A. Tinniswood (R.E., Arch.) near Cantaing on 1st October, and H. O. Tichener (R.F.A., Asylums) near Cambrai on the 3rd. G. A. Bull (R.F.A., Tram.), wounded near Cambrai on 3rd October, died in England on 15th November.

    Fighting in Flanders.

    The effect of this succession of victories was felt further north. During August the enemy gradually vacated the Lys salient, and on the 19th we occupied Merville, and on the 30th Bailleul. Later the movement became more hurried, and, although the 36th and 29th Divisions were stoutly opposed near Neuve Eglise, by 6th September Kemmel Hill had been recaptured and we were back on the line Givenchy — Neuve Chapelle— Ploegsteert.
    On 28th September, in an attack by British, French and Belgian troops under the general command of H.M. the King of the Belgians, the 14th, 35th, 29th and 9th Divisions, aided by the 41st and 36th Divisions, were completely successful to the south of the Ypres — Zonnebeke road, sweeping the enemy back in one day far beyond the limits of the fighting in 1917. At the same time the 31st, 30th and 34th Divisions captured Wytschaete and reached the outskirts of Messines. In all 5,000 prisoners and 100 guns were taken. Next day the advance was continued, and on 2nd October the enemy fell back along the front between Lens and Armentieres. The restoration of roads across the shell-torn salient at Ypres occupied a fortnight, and on 14th October the advance was resumed. The 30th, 34th, 41st and 35th Divisions reached the high ground over-looking Wervicq and Menin, and the 36th, 29th and 9th Divisions on their left were equally successful.
    Ostend fell on the 17th to the Belgians, who during the next few days drove the Germans from the rest of the coast as far as the Dutch frontier. On the 17th the 8th Division entered Douai, and on the 18th the 57th and 59th Divisions entered Lille, the 40th Roubaix, and the 31st Tourcoing.

    Lieut. T. J. Malone (1st R. Inniskilling Fusiliers, Educ.) earned the M.C. at Dadizeele on 1st and 2nd October, by his conspicuous gallantry and coolness under fire and by his devotion to duty under most trying conditions. Lieut. A. A. Angel (36th M.G.C., Educ.) won the same decoration at the same time and place. " He was attached to the infantry with four guns and when the enemy put down a heavy barrage ... he had one put out of action and the team of another disorganised. Paying no attention to the bombardment he set matters right."

    W. E. Price (1st Rifle Brigade, Tram.) was killed on 20th August near Merville, Corp. J. S. Hall (2/17th London, Tram.) on 28th September near Wytschaete Ridge, Lance-Corp. E. H. Heard, B.A. (12th E. Surrey, Educ.) near Gheluwe on 2nd October, Corp. J. Heskett (2nd R. Fusiliers, Comp.) near Courtrai and Sergeant H. H. Perry, B.A. (2/23rd London, Educ.) near Wervicq on the 14th, and Corp. H. C. Johnson (4th N. Lancs, Comp.) near Toumai on the 22nd.

    Battles of Le Cateau, the Selle and the Sambre.

    In the south the enemy had now been driven out of the last of his elaborate defences so that the remainder of the fighting was in open country and progress became more rapid. On 8th October the attack was resumed on the St. Quentin — Cambrai line, the successful divisions reckoning from the right being the 66th, 25th, 38th, New Zealand, 3rd, 2nd and 63rd. Next day the 57th Division and the Canadians occupied Cambrai, and our troops almost reached Le Cateau. In this fighting twenty-two British and two American divisions routed twenty-four German divisions and captured 12,000 prisoners and 250 guns.
    The next task was the forcing of the line of the river Selle. This, after hard fighting, was accomplished to the east of Le Cateau on 19th October by the 46th, 1st, 6th, Americans, 50th and 66th Divisions, and to the north of the town on the 20th by the 38th, 17th, 5th, 42nd, 62nd, Guards, 19th and 4th Divisions. Further extensive fighting ensued on the 23rd and succeeding days, and by the end of the month our troops had reached the Foret de Mormal and were in the western outskirts of Valenciennes. In this battle twenty-four British and two American divisions defeated thirty-one German divisions and captured 20,000 prisoners and 475 guns.

    As a preliminary to the Battle of the Sambre the 61st, 49th and 9th Divisions successfully attacked on 1st November to the south of Valenciennes, the town itself falling to the Canadians. The main assault opened on the 4th when the 1st, 46th and 32nd Divisions crossed the Sambre, the 25th, 50th, 18th, 38th, 17th and 37th penetrated the Foret de Mormal, the New Zealanders took Le Quesnoy, scaling the ramparts in mediaeval fashion by means of ladders, and the 62nd, Guards, 24th, 19th, 11th and 56th were successful to the north of the town. The average advance on this and the next day was about seven miles, and 19,000 prisoners and 450 guns were taken.
    The enemy's resistance was now broken and he began to fall back in disorder, closely pursued by our men and harried by aeroplanes with bombs and machine-gun fire. Bavai was occupied on the 7th, Avesnes, the German advanced G.H.Q., on the 8th, and Tournai and the fortress of Maubeuge on the 9th. In the early morning of the 11th the Canadians captured Mons so that for the British the fighting on the western front began and ended at the same spot.

    Lt.-Col. W. Parkes, M.C. and bar (8th Gloucester, Educ.) was awarded the D.S.O. for gallantry and good leadership. " His battalion was twice ordered to carry out an attack [near Haussy] on the 20th and 23rd October respectively. He personally led the leading platoons across the Selle River under machine-gun and rifle fire. Throughout he showed great courage and ability to command."
    The M.C. was won by the undermentioned:
    (i) Lieut. T. A. Edwards (R.N. Div., Educ.) at Niergnies, south-east of Cambrai, on 8th October.
    (ii) Lieut. H. R. Oswald (13th Welch, Educ). " He was indefatigable on the night of 19th/20th October in carrying out reconnaissances across the river Selle in face of the enemy. . . . During the attack he rushed an enemy machine-gun."
    (iii) Capt. W. J. Campion (Beds, Educ.) north of Le Cateau on 23rd October when "by his cool courage and fearless leadership he held his company together under a very heavy fire. Later ... he broke down the enemy resistance and successfully led the hue ... to the final objective, capturing eighty prisoners."
    (iv) Lieut. E. T. G. Hancock (R.G.A., Educ.) for conspicuous gallantry early in November between Lille and Tournai.
    Corp. E. E. Huntley (Grenadier Guards., Pub. H.) was awarded the M.M. for bravery in action near Maubeuge.

    Lieut. F. Nevey, M.A. (9th W. Riding, Educ.) and J. F. Auker (9th W. Riding, Tram.) were killed in front of Le Cateau on 12th October, B. W. Muscutt (4th York and Lanc, Tram.) south-west of Valenciennes on the 13th, Sergeant S. J. Boucher (1st Devon, Educ.) near Le Cateau on the 20th, Corp. H. V. Harvey, M.M. (R.F.A., Tram.) and E. C. Yeldham (5th W. Yorks, Tram.) near Valenciennes on ist November, Capt. E. L. Blunt (R.G.A,, Educ.) east of Le Cateau, and Lieut. A. J. Gaskell (Norfolk Yeo., Educ.) in Belgium on the 2nd, F. E. Elhott (1st Middlesex, Tram.) near Valenciennes on the 6th, and F. Watkins (20th Hussars, Asylums) near Avesnes on the 7th. Lance-Corp. E. C. Pike (10th R. Warw., Tram.), wounded on the 7th near Mons, died on the 9th.

    The Armistice.

    After the Battle of Amiens in August, General Ludendorff urged the necessity for an immediate peace. The German Government accordingly decided that, following their army's next victory, negotiations for peace would be opened, but such a victory was not forthcoming. Bulgaria surrendered at the end of September, and on 4th October the German Chancellor, Prince Max of Baden, appealed to President Wilson for an armistice. While notes and replies were passing between them Turkey collapsed, and on the 20th Germany accepted the terms upon which the President was willing to submit the correspondence to the Allies. On 4th November Austria surrendered, on the 5th the President notified Germany that the Allies were willing to make peace, and on the 7th the German delegates, travelling by direction of Marshal Foch along the Fourmies — La Capelle — Guise road, reached the French lines. They were accommodated for the night near Compiegne, and next morning presented themselves at Marshal Foch's headquarters in a train near Rethondes four miles east of the town, General Weygand, his Chief of Staff, Sir Rosslyn Wemyss, the First Sea Lord, and Vice-Admiral Sims of the American Navy being also present.

    Mr. Buchan has given a vivid account of the interview. " The French Marshal asked, ' Qu'est-ce que vous desirez. Messieurs? ' and they replied that they had come to receive the Allied proposals for an armistice. To this Foch answered that the Allies were not seeking any armistice, but were content to finish the war in the field. The Germans looked nonplussed, and stammered something about the urgent need for the cessation of hostilities. ' Ah,' said Foch, ' I understand — you have come to beg for an armistice.' They admitted the correction, and explicitly begged for an armistice." They were then presented with the Allied terms which had to be accepted within seventy-two hours.

    The chief terms were (i) all occupied territories to be evacuated and all deported inhabitants to be repatriated at once; (ii) 2,500 heavy and 2,500 field guns, 25,000 machine guns and 17,000 aeroplanes to be surrendered; (iii) all German territory on the left bank of the Rhine and all territory on the right bank within a radius of 30 kilometres (about 19 miles) from the three bridge-heads at Cologne, Coblenz and Mainz to be evacuated; (iv) 5,000 locomotives, 150,000 wagons and 5,000 motor lorries to be surrendered; (v) all submarines and the bulk of the surface fleet to be surrendered; (vi) all Allied prisoners to be re-patriated; (vii) the treaties of Brest-Litovsk with Russia and Bukharest with Roumania to be renounced and (viii) Allied merchant shipping to be restored.

    A courier with the text was despatched to the German headquarters, which he reached only after much difficulty and delay. The terms were accepted and were signed at 5 o'clock on the morning of Monday, 11th November, by the German delegates, by Marshal Foch and by Sir Rosslyn Wemyss, and at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year 1918 the Great War, which had lasted for four years and ninety-nine days, came to an end.

    After a few days' delay in which to rest the troops and to bring up supplies, the advance was resumed on 17th November, the frontier was crossed on 1st December and on 6th December our troops entered Cologne. To the Belgians on our left was entrusted the defence of the district to the north of Dusseldorf, to the Americans on our right the bridge-head at Coblenz, and to the French on their right the bridge-head at Mainz.

    General Casualties.

    Lance-Corp. J. F. Winter. M.A. (R.E., Educ.) was killed on 28th October near the Aisne where apparently his unit was serving with the French. The deaths from influenza and kindred diseases were:
    H. J. A.Vellensworth (R.E,, Comp.) on ist Nov., Lance-Corp. A. Clark (1st Grenadier Guards, Asylums) on the 2nd, G. T. White (R.A.S.C, Tram.) at Rouen and H. C. Gatehouse (R.A.M.C, Educ.) at Havre on the 6th, G. F. Potter (7th Shropshire L.I., Clerk) at Rouen on the 15th. P. Martin (13th R. Fusiliers, Tram.) on the 20th, Corp. H. J. Poate (R.A.S.C, Parks) at Dieppe, M. B. Hutchins (8th R.W. Kent, Parks) at Cambrai, and Corp. J. Rosen (R.E., Educ.) at Tourcoing, all on the 25th, H. J. Salmon (42nd M.G.C., Stores) on the 27th, E. C. Moore (R.A.F., Asylums) near Boulogne on the 27th, R. C. Moss (R.A.S.C, Tram.) on 2nd December, H. A. Carter (R.A.S.C, Tram.) at Boulogne on the 3rd, W. E. King (R.A.S.C, Tram.) at Mons on the 11th, and D. Parry M.S.M. (R.A.F., Arch.) at Paris on the 25th. Alfred Wright (Educ.), perhaps of the 23rd Londons, died in France during December, but neither the place nor the cause nor the exact date of his death is known.