“To Avesne, a remote village behind Amiens, the 2 /4th Oxfords were withdrawn early in April for completion with new drafts and for refitting. An amalgamation which was a great advantage to both units of the Battalion with the Bucks now took place. As the 25th Entrenching Battalion the Bucks had been engaged in the fighting round Nesle, when they became attached to a Brigade of the 2Oth Division. They were now most anxious to be sent to join us or at all events to rejoin the 61st Division. Unable to obtain the orders they
desired, the Bucks availed themselves of the prevailing confusion to march away ‘without authority’ and were already at Avesne when the Oxfords arrived.
The addition of some 300 N.C.O.s and men, with whom came such valued officers as Clutsom, Buttfield, Kemp, Lodge, Boase, Kirk, and several others, acted as an infusion of new blood and vigour into the Battalion which had given nearly all of its best in the St. Quentin fighting. As the senior officer now present, I was placed in command of the Battalion after the amalgamation, for which no more suitable surroundings could have been found than Avesne, whose chateau and grounds we had to ourselves. On April 7, before the regimental tailors had half finished substituting the red circles for the black ones previously carried by the Bucks, a large draft of 431 men joined the Battalion from England. Many of these were boys, but among them stood a few veteran soldiers who had been out before and been wounded. With this draft, which I believe was posted without the knowledge that the Bucks had joined us, the Battalion reached the strength of over 1,000 men. It was a goodly force, unhampered by passengers. With Abraham, Murray, and Regimental Sergeant-Major Hedley (from the Bucks) those departments of the Battalion not purely tactical were sure to be well managed. I felt quite confident in the command of this force of men, and General Pagan, the new Brigadier, was kind enough to express his confidence in my ability.
Our billets at Avesne the entire Battalion was accommodated in the buildings of a large chateau from which some army school had been precipitated by the German advance were too good for much hope to be entertained of a long stay in them. The unified command from now onwards brought more rapid moves than formerly had been the custom. Thus at a few hours’ notice ‘billeting parties’ were ordered, not back towards Amiens, but to Merville and St. Venant. The 61st was to become a Division in G.H.Q. reserve behind the old Laventie
sector. But before Battalions could follow their representatives and while the billeting was still in progress the Germans attacked and broke through on the Lys, south of Armentieres. We marched, however, from Avesne on April 11th happy ignorance of this new battle.
Story of the 2/5th Battalion the Gloucester Regiment 1914-1918
ed by A.F.Barnes
Format: 2003 N&M Press reprint (original pub 1930) 192pp with 39 b/w photos and 12 maps.
1st – 8th April 1918
“The 61st Division occupied the Berthaucourt-Gentelles defences from the Bois I’Abbe to the Amiens-Domart road, which line was improved and wired, until the Division was withdrawn on the night of the 2nd to Longueau, leaving behind a composite Company of machine-guns under the orders of the 18th Division. The composite Company rejoined the Division on the 8th.”