Alexandra,  Princess   of   Wales's   Own
Back to the Somme - German offensive - Battle of St Quentin.

The Russian Revolution and that country's subsequent withdrawal from the War in the East had allowed the Germans to transfer troops to the Western Front.
On the 21st of March 1918 they were ready to launch 76 Divisions against the 28 of the Allies along a 50 mile Front in the St Quentin area.
The plan appears to have been to split the British and French Armies, capture the Channel ports and thus cut off the British Army and prevent further landings.
The news that America had belatedly entered the War meant they had to take decisive action before they were outnumbered.
The lads of the 5th Yorks Btn were thrown right into the centre of this onslaught.
Each side would lose around a quarter of a million men. The British alone lost around 180,000 and some Units were wiped out. The Germans advanced close to Amiens. but failed in their overall objective and the great loss of irreplaceable crack troops here and later on the River Lys led to their final defeat.

MARCH 1918.
1st to 8th - Battalion resting and training at Setques. Received warning order on 8th to be prepared to move on 9th.
9th - Battalion marched to Wizernes where we entrained and left about 2.45 am. Detrained at Boves, nr Amiens at 4.0 pm. Marched to billets at Fouencamps.
10th - Resting at Fouencamps, but received warning order to be prepared to move next day.
11th - Moved by march route to Demuin into billets.
12th to 21st - Training at Demuin. On Thursday 21st, we received a warning order to be prepared to move at 4 hours notice.
At 5.30 pm the order arrived. The Bn had to entrain at Guillaucourt at 8.00 pm.
Arrived at 9 and entrained at 11.00 pm.
22nd - Detrained at Brie about 5.00 am and marched to Hancourt. There rested until 1 p.m, when Battalion marched into a position about Q.2.b.
There dug in and at 6.00 pm sent 1 Coy to reinforce Left of 4th Yorks where there was a gap.
The 66th Division had previously withdrawn through us.
About 11.00 pm orders were received to withdraw from our position to a line from Cemetery Vraignes to the wood - P.12.b.7.0.

201093 Pte Lewis William Henry. Home at 7 Heath Tce, North Ormesby. Enlisted at Middlesbrough. Killed in action on the 22nd of March 1918 aged 19. Commemorated at Pozieres Memorial. [The CWGC has him in the 4th Yorks Battn, while the SDGC has him in the 5th.]
241705 Pte Stevens Alfred. Home at Loftus, N Yorks. Born Lingdale and enlisted Whitby. Killed in actionon the 22nd of March 1918. Commemorated at Pozieres Memorial.
23rd - Dug in at position above, with 4th East Yorks on Right, 8th DLI on Left and 4th Yorks in Support.
8.00 am received orders to withdraw along main Mons-Brie Road, 4th Yorks to cover withdrawal to Mons.
Then engaged with enemy and withdrawal difficult, as enemy was coming round Right flank.
From Mons to Brie fought rear guard action on North side of Mons Brie Road with 4 East Yorks on Right and 8 DLI on Left.
Withdrew and crossed River Somme at Brie about 3.00 pm, passing through 23rd Infantry Brigade of 8 Div. Marched to Villers-Carbonnel and there rested in Quarry.

21368 Pte Berriman Wilfrid Griffiths. Born Spennymoor, Durham. Enlisted at Middlesbrough. Killed in action on the 23rd of March 1918. Aged 22. Commemorated at Pozieres Memorial.
Major Brown Harold. Home at Kingston Lodge, Bristol Born Bournemouth on January 4th 1879. He went up to Jesus College, Cambridge and after graduating became a teacher. He enlisted on the 14th June 1914. He went out with the Battn in April 1915, was invalided back to the UK with appendicitis and returned to duty in November 1915. In July 1916 he led a raid on an enemy mine crater at Petit Bois. He was awarded the DSO in July 1915 and the Military Cross in August 1916. He was wounded in September 1916 when the Battalion lost many men in the Battle of Flers Courcelettes and was awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm in December 1916. He was again wounded in 1917 while serving with the 4th Battn and rejoined the 5th in August 1917. He was made second in command of the 4th Battn and was with them when he was killed aged 39 on March 23rd near Hancourt. He left a wife, Dorothy of Kingston Lodge, Leigh Woods, Bristol. Commemorated at the Pozieres Memorial.
235024 Pte Wilding William. Home at Brotton, N Yorks. Enlisted Skelton. Killed in action on the 23rd of March 1918. Z Company. Commemorated at Brie British Cemetery.
24th - 1.00 am. Received orders to move back to Belloy en Santerre and there spent the rest of the night.
2.00 pm received orders to move at once to Marchelpot to reinforce 8th Div.
On arrival at Marchelpot received orders from Gen Haig, 24th Inf Brigade to move to a position about T.30.d, contrary to orders of Brigade Major of 150th Brigade which were to report to 25th Inf Brigade.
Then proceeded under orders [24th Inf Bde] and filled gap [1000x] on high ground NE of Licourt and E of Licourt-Cizancourt Road, between Northants on Right and Sherwoods on Left.
This about 9.00 pm. 2 Coys in Line and 2 Coys in Support immediately N of village of Licourt.

243307 Pte Heslop Richard. Home at Trimdon Colliery. place of birth. Enlisted at Wheatley Hill. Killed in action on the 24th of March 1918 aged 26. Commemorated at Pozieres Memorial.
25th - About 2.00 am 1 of Support Companies was moved into close support to the 2 Coys in line after Col Thomson had reconnoitred all the line.
At about 9.00 am the enemy attacked and Worcesters [on the Right of Northants] gave way and enemy occupied Licourt by 10.00 am.
The 2 Coys of the Bn in Front Line held on, also Sherwood Foresters on our Left. B Company under Lt Hepton held on till the end and only a handful of men got away.
Lt Hepton and many of his men were wounded and captured.
At about 10 am the Battalion fell back. Headquarters were established under orders of CO on the Licourt-Villers Carbonnel Road to conform to situation on Right and a defensive flank formed, this flank being in the air.
OC 4th East Yorks joined 5th Yorks here awaiting orders to counter attack. At 10.30 am enemy completely occupied Licourt and enfilade fire hitting the side caused the Bn and 4th East Yorks to withdraw and take up a position on high ground NW. with Left on St Christ-Marchelpot Road and Right on copse on hill 102.
Right was still in the air and Left in touch with the Devons but with a gap.
The Battalion and 4th East Yorks held on here from 9 am to 5 pm. 80 men of Worcesters under Captain Thompson M.C. 5th Yorks, were sent up and formed a defensive flank facing South on Hill 102.
At 5 pm both OCs decided to withdraw as flank was in air and no orders or ammunition were obtainable in spite of requests for both, and fell back through Misery where a Staff Officer of 24th Infantry Brigade met battalions and ordered them to take up a position along the railway from Villers Carbonnel-Marchelpot Road crossing northwards.
The Staff Officer disappeared.
Enemy was working round right flank which was still in air and not Worcesters to be seen, so COs 5th Yorks and 4th East Yorks decided to withdraw towards Fresnes taking up a position from Mozancourt northwards on West side of road with 8th DLI on the Right and in touch with Left in the air.
At 8.00 pm, orders were received [unsigned] from 24th Inf Bde to withdraw to Ablaincourt. Here 4th E Yorks, 4th Yorks and 5th Yorks took up a position in front line trenches immediately East of village [order North to South as given].
Here 150th Brigade formed 1 Battalion under Col Wilkinson. During night Gen Haig [24th Inf Bde] sent for Col Thomson, 5th Yorks and thanked him and told him might be required to fight rearguard action if withdrawal ordered.

9423 Pte Abraham James. Born and enlisted in Halifax. Died on the 25th of March 1918. Commemorated at Pozieres Memorial.
2nd Lt Battye John. Home at Richmond, Yorks. place of birth. He attended London University and was a member of the Officer Training Corps before the War, although he had joined up with the 4th Yorks Battn as an other rank and commissioned from the rank of Corporal with them. . Killed in action on the 25th of March 1918. Commemorated at Pozieres Memorial.
240265 Sgt Gibson Harold Home at View Tce, Middlecave. Malton. Born and enlisted at Malton. Killed in action on the 25th of March 1918 aged 33. Commemorated at Pozieres Memorial.
243586 Pte Lockwood Albert. Home at East Kirkby Yorks. Born Barrow on Soar Leics. Enlisted Mansfield. Killed in action on the 25th of March 1918. Commemorated at Pozieres Memorial.
38702 Pte McNulty Charles Joseph. Born at Newcastle and enlisted Gateshead. Killed in action on the 25th of March 1918. Commemorated at Pozieres Memorial.
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