Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (The 2/4th Battalion)

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1918, MARCH 19th – MOVED INTO THE FORWARD ZONE NEAR FAYET

 

Redoubts 21st March 1918 The Fifth Army in March 1918 Walter Shaw Sparrow

Redoubts 21st March 1918
The Fifth Army in March 1918
Walter Shaw Sparrow

 

From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, by Captain G. K. Rose M.C. (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1920)

On the night of 18/19 March the Battalion went into the front line. C Company was on the right, in front of Fayet; B Company, under the command of Wallington, was on the left, just south of Gricourt. A went to Fayet itself and D Company, commanded in Robinson’s absence by Rowbotham, provided the garrison of Enghien Redoubt, which was a quarry near Selency Château; Battalion Headquarters also were at this redoubt.

The Battalion relieved the 2/4th R. Berks in the Forward Zone.

Dispositions: C Company, right front; B, left front; two platoons of A in Sunken Road near the Needle, as counterattack company; two platoons of A (with Company H.Q.) at the Willows (M.28.C.1.5 on Map 62 B.S.W.); D Company and Battalion H.Q. at Enghien Redoubt.

War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1918-03-19
Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire
Location France, Gricourt-Fayet-St Quentin Wood
Entry The Battalion was relived early in the morning by the 2/4th BN OXFORD and BUCKS LT INF and marched to MARTEVILLE and thence to UGNY, reaching the latter place at about 8am. The remainder of the day was spent in Resting and cleaning.

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Captain George Vallance Rowbotham M.C.

March 1918
“Among the new officers who joined were Foreshew, Rowbotham, and Cunningham. Foreshew received command of C Company, whose commander Matthews went to England for a six months’ rest.”

On the night of I8/19 March the Battalion went into the front line. C Company was on the right, in front of Fayet ; B Company, under the command of Wallington, was on the left, just south of Gricourt. I went to Fayet itself and D Company, commanded in Robinson’s absence by Rowbotham, provided the garrison of Enghien Redoubt, which was a quarry near Selency Château; Battalion Headquarters also were at this redoubt.”

“Few battalions of the British Army could boast a finer feat of arms than the holding of the Enghien Redoubt by Captain Rowbotham, 2nd Lieutenant Cunningham, Regimental Sergeant -Major Douglas and some 150 men of D Company and Battalion Headquarters. From 10.30 a.m. till 4.30 p.m. on March 21st, 1918, these brave soldiers, enormously outnumbered and completely surrounded, stemmed the great tide of the German attack and by their devoted self-sacrifice enabled their comrades to withdraw in good order.”

UK, British Officer Prisoners of War, 1914-1918
Name: G V Rowbotham
Rank: Capt.
Regiment: 4th Battalion. Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Lig
Date Missing: 21 Mar 1918
Repatriation Date: 2 Dec 1918
Record Number: 2904
Section: Western Theatre of Operations.

Second Lieutenant John Crawford Cunningham

Born in 1894, John Crawford Cunningham was originally with the Bedford Yeomanry and was commissioned from a Private with the army No. of 905 into the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire  Light Infantry. At the time of Enghien Redoubt stand in March 1918 he was a 2nd Lieutenant with the 2/4th Battalion Ox & Bucks Light Infantry.

Lieutenant J C Cunningham was the last officer in charge of Enghien Redoubt on 21st March 1918.

From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, by Captain G. K. Rose, M.C. (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1920)

Early in March some reinforcements from the 6th Oxfords, who had been disbanded, arrived; they numbered two hundred. Among the new officers who joined were Foreshew, Rowbotham, and Cunningham. Foreshew received command of C Company, whose commander Matthews went to England for a six months’rest. To Hobbs also, our worthy quartermaster, it was necessary to bid a reluctant farewell. His successor, Murray, a very able officer from the 4th Gloucesters, arrived in time to check the table of stores before the opening of the great offensive.

At 12 noon, after several patrols had failed to find out whether the enemy had captured Holnon, the Colonel himself went out to see all that was happening. He did not return, and shortly afterwards Headquarters were surrounded by the enemy, who had made ground on either flank. Nevertheless till 4.30 p.m. Cunningham, the officer left in command, held out most manfully.

5th From The Story of the 2/5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment 1914-1918, A. F. Barnes, M.C.

These redoubts in the forward zone – held by the 5th Gordons, 4th Oxfords and 8th Worcesters fought with splendid gallantry throughout the day and were still holding out at 4.10pm when the buried cable – which had up to this hour remained intact, ceases to operate. The last message received was from Lieut. Cunningham 4th Oxford and Bucks who was then the senior officer commanding in Enghien Redoubt, asking permission for the garrison to try and cut their way out. This permission was granted and also by Corps Instructions to the other redoubts at the same time. Except for a few odd men that came in during the night , none returned from the Battalion fighting in the forward zone.

 

He became a POW, and is listed on the Holzminden Internee List (Sept 1917 – Dec 1918).

UK, British Officer Prisoners of War, 1914-1918
Name: J C Cunningham
Rank: 2/Lt.
Regiment: 4th Battalion. Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Lig
Date Missing: 21 Mar 1918
Repatriation Date: 14 Dec 1918
Record Number: 2910
Section: Western Theatre of Operations.

 

John Crawford Cunningham

He died 27th August 1964.

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