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

Research and Resources around the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry during WWI

Archive for the tag “The Advance to St. Quentin”

1917, APRIL 20th – MOVED UP TO HOLNON AND RELIEVED THE 16th NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIERS (32nd DIVISION)

St Quentin on Fire During German Retreat,  8.15pm 21 April 1917 Rose, Geoffrey K (MC)  A sketch view across a flat landscape with a tree in the centre foreground, looking towards the buildings of Saint-Quentin ablaze after being set on fire by retreating German forces. A large cloud of smoke drifts skywards.

St Quentin on Fire During German Retreat,
8.15pm 21 April 1917
Rose, Geoffrey K (MC)
A sketch view across a flat landscape with a tree in the centre foreground, looking towards the buildings of Saint-Quentin ablaze after being set on fire by retreating German forces. A large cloud of smoke drifts skywards.

The Battalion moved up to Holnon, and relieved the 16th Northumberland Fusiliers (32nd Division.) in the support line, left sub-section; A Company in close support to the 2/5th Glosters.

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

It was hard to believe that any lofty eminence which overlooked our lines was not in constant use by the enemy for observation. The iron towers at Loos, the spire of Calonne, even the crazy relics of the church at Puisieux at different times contributed this uneasy feeling to the denizens of our trenches. But surely never was the sense of being spied on more justified than near St. Quentin, whose tall cathedral raised itself higher than all the roofs of the town and higher, too, than the ridges surrounding it for many miles.

On April 20, 1917, a German observer from the cathedral belfry could have seen the divisional relief which brought the 61st Division back to the line. All day small parties were moving in the forward zone, while further back larger ones crossed and re-crossed the ridge ‘twixt Holnon and Fayet, and in rear again, along the road through Savy to Germaine, columns of Infantry in fours followed by horses, vehicles, and smoking cooker chimneys, were passing one another, some coming, others going back. Those coming made a left-handed turn at Savy, hugged the line of single railway as far as a crucifix at a cross-roads, and were then lost to distinct view amid the abject ruins of Holnon. Those going were the 32nd Division, whose march carried them out of the cathedral’s eye or observation by German balloons.

Among the new arrivals were the 2/4th Oxfords, of whom all companies, followed until the end by cookers and Lewis-gun limbers, disposed themselves in or around Fayet, on whose north side stood a stone monument commemorative of local fighting in the Franco-Prussian War. Near to this monument was found a deep sunken road, broken with two huge craters. It was A Company’s position as support to the Gloucesters, who went into the line.

By G. K. Rose.

By G. K. Rose.

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1917, APRIL 4th – FRONT-LINE EAST OF SOYECOURT

By G. K. Rose.

By G. K. Rose.

 Snowing all day. The front posts were heavily shelled during the morning; 1 killed, 2 wounded.

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

In the early morning of April 4 the 59th Division, which was operating on the Battalion’s left, attacked Le Vergier. Fighting continued till noon, but the village was not taken. The 59th lost heavily. As they formed up for their advance–which was for some 1,000 yards across the open and exposed to view–behind the line the Battalion was holding, considerable enemy fire was brought down upon us and I lost Sergeant Watkins, wounded in the arm, and several other casualties. It snowed nearly all day. In the shallow trenches, which were ill-sited both for drainage and concealment from the enemy, life was miserable. 

Killed in Action 4th April 1917

201985 Private George Loveridge (Likely to have been D Company)

Died of Wounds 4th April 1917

201448 Private Creswick Franklin

1917, APRIL 3rd – RELIEVED 2/1st BUCKS EAST OF SOYECOURT

By G. K. Rose.

By G. K. Rose.

Moved up to the line and relieved the 2/1st Bucks in the sector east of Soyecourt;

D Company in front-line posts;

C in close support;

B at railway embankment at Montolu Wood;

A and Battalion H.Q. at Soyecourt.

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

At midnight, April 3/4, the Battalion relieved the Bucks. B, C, and D Companies shared the new outpost line. Headquarters and A Company went to Soyécourt. The relief, the first of its kind, was difficult. In my own front a small brushwood copse was reputed to contain a sentry post. The ground was dotted with small copses which the darkness made indistinguishable, and no report of this post’s relief was ever made. When dawn was breaking in the sky, Sergeant Watkins, accompanied by the Bucks guides, returned to say that no sentry group nor post in any copse could be found. The most likely copse was then garrisoned and the night’s mystery and labour ceased.

Further advance was evidently in store. The smoke of burning villages still mounted the sky. At night a glow showed where a great fire in St. Quentin was ablaze. The weather now changed for the worse. Hail, rain and snow prevailed alternately. A fierce wind blew. Winter conditions were repeated in the outpost line, where no shelter other than tarpaulins rigged across the shallow trenches existed. Nor was the artillery inactive. As the enemy’s resistance stiffened, shells commenced to fall on fields yet unscarred by trench or shell-hole. Better ammunition seemed to be in use–or was it a month’s holiday from shells that made it seem so?–and more subtlety was shown by German gunners in their choice of targets. Our casualties, though not numerous, proved that the war, in most of its old incidents, had been resumed.

1917, MARCH 31st – REACHED AND BIVOUACED AT CAULAINCOURT CHATEAU

part of "MINISTRY OF INFORMATION FIRST WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION" Photograph by: Brooks Ernest (Lt)  1917-04-21 German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line. Ruins of Caulaincourt Chateau on the River Omignon.

part of “MINISTRY OF INFORMATION FIRST WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION” Photograph by: Brooks Ernest (Lt)
1917-04-21
German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line. Ruins of Caulaincourt Chateau on the River Omignon.

By G. K. Rose.

By G. K. Rose.

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

and the next night made bivouacs at Caulaincourt Château, formerly German Corps Headquarters, now wrecked past recognition. Amid the rubbish, whose heaps represented buildings of grace and dignity, the eye caught the half of a gigantic Easter egg. During our stay a German High Velocity gun several times shelled the château grounds. Our own artillery was now getting to work and made the nights lively with noise and flashes.

1917, MARCH 30th – ONWARDS TO TERTRY

By G. K. Rose.

By G. K. Rose.

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

To resume the war. On March 30 the Warwicks entered Soyécourt and shortly afterwards the Bucks relieved their outpost line. We ourselves reached Tertry on the 30th,

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