1st Hampshires in the Great War – the Kaiser Offensive continues

After the hard-fought battle on 28 March 1918, the 1st Hampshires went back into Brigade reserve trenches. March 1918 closed relatively uneventfully. On 1 April the Hampshires went into Brigade support, relieving the Somerset Light Infantry north of the River Scarpe, 3.5 miles east of Arras. Their spell in support was quiet, until the Germans began shelling on 5 April. The adjutant, writing in the war diary, felt that this was a ‘demonstration’ connected to the attacks being made at the same time, further south on the Somme. That evening the Hampshires went into the front line in Fampoux, holding Stoke Avenue, Pudding and Port trenches. The next few days saw intermittent shelling, until the Battalion was relieved on 8 April.

After being relieved the Hampshires marched back to St Laurent Blangy, and from there boarded buses to ‘Y’ Huts, about four miles north west of Arras. The next few days were spent in the usual clean up after the front line, and on 9 April it was announced that six other ranks had been awarded the Military Medal for their part in the battle on 28 March. On 10 April the Battalion moved again, marching to camps near Haute Avesnes. During the same day a draft of 159 other ranks joined the Battalion. A rare treat was enjoyed on 11 April, when the Battalion were treated to baths. Also that day Lieutenants Edwards and Evans were awarded the Military Cross for their part in the battle on 28 March.

The Battalions time away from the front was short lived, however, for on 12 April they boarded buses, and proceded to Bethune. Once there, the 11th Brigade took over a section of the line to the south of La Basse Canal, with the Hampshires being billeted for the time in Gonnehem. An attack was clearly imminent, for the next day certain personnel were detailed to remain with the transport. Sure enough, on 14 April the Battalion marched up from Gonnehem, and formed up. At 6.30pm the advance began, covered by artillery support and with the Somersets on the right. The Somersets took the village of Riez du Vinage, taking 120 prisoners. The Hampshires met no opposition, and after advancing 1,500 yards dug in on a line level with the Somersets. During the day only one man was killed, and four wounded. The next day orders were received to continue the advance. Attacks were made by the Ox and Bucks on the flank, and although they were initially succesful and the Hampshires pushed out patrols to keep in touch with them, they were eventually forced back to their start line. At 4.30am on 16 April the Hampshires were relieved, and went back to billets at L’Ecleme.

Although the 17th was spent in billets, as the situation was still very unstable the Hampshires were soon put on alert to return to the front. On 18 April a German attack on the 4th Division led to the Hampshires being recalled to Gonnehem to stand by. The attack was unsuccesful, and the Hampshires returned to L’Ecleme. This attack was part of the Germans Operation Georgette in the Lys Sector. The next day the Battalion went into the front line, holding a section south of La Basse Canal, south of Bois de Pacaut. That night a patrol led by 2nd Lieutenant Clegg crossed the canal and captured a prisoner from the 471st Regiment. Prisoner snatch patrols were a hallmark of an agressive unit. The next day brought heavy shelling. During the night C Company pushed three platoons across the Canal and occupied the Bois de Pacaut, capturing two wounded prisoners. 21 April was relatively quiet.

On 22 April the Battalion launched another attack on the Boise de Pacaut. The plan was to clear the southern portion of the Pacaut Wood, and establish a line on the road junction at La Pannerie. The attack was to be on a three Company front, with each being alloted its own objectives, and with the remaining company in support. Zero hour was to be at 5.15am, with the troops assembling south of the Canal by 5am. Three bridges were to be erected across the canal by the Royal Engineers. Stokes Mortars and Machine Guns were attached to give fire support. Supporting artillery fire was also planned, including the use of Gas if the wind was favourable. A Special Company of the Royal Engineers was also attached, to project ‘burning oil’ onto a house thought to be an enemy stronghold. Troops were reminded of the importance of consolidating captured ground. At 7am an aeroplane was tasked to fly over to observe progress.

The attack began as planned, but the heavy artillery barrage alerted the enemy almost at once to the impending attack. Enemy artillery fell as the Hampshires were crossing the Canal bridges, causing casualties. The centre bridge in particular received heavy fire, with the leading officer being killed whilst crossing the Bridge. The right and centre companies came under machine gun fire from the wood almost at once, but the left met no opposition. The right hand company pushed Lewis Guns out front, and managed to overcome resistance. By 5.35am the left flank company had reached its objective, and by 5.40am platoons of the right company were on their objective. The centre company, however, had taken heavy casualties in officers and NCO’s, but after being held up for a short time they managed to make progress and link up with the other Companies. At 9am a platoon of the support Company was ordered up to fill a gap in the Battalion’s line. After daybreak heavy Machine Gun fire was directed on the wood, and the Canal area received heavy shelling. At 1.30pm Lieutenant-Colonel F.A.W. Armitage, who had commanded the Battalion since shortly after the Somme, was killed. At 5.30pm the Germans launched a counter-attack south-west through the wood, with the intention of clearing the area and pushing the Hampshires back. This counter-attack was beaten off with machine gun fire. The centre Company were still struggling to make progress to their objctive. 12 men were detached from the support Company as reinforcements, but it was not possible to attach any more men as the Support Company themselves were suffering heavy casualties on the Canal Bank, and if the Canal Bank were to be lost the rest of the Battalion might have become cut off. Any further attacks were impossible, as the whole Battalion was heavily committed fighting off German resistance. The Battalion was finally relieved the next day.

The battle of Pacaut Wood was part of a larger counter-offensive, the battle of Bethune, was designed to hit the Germans hard after the failure of Operation Georgette. The Hampshires paid a high price, however. During the attack on 22 April three officers were killed, including Colonel Armitage. Five officers were wounded, two dying later. 22 men were killed, one died of his wounds, 147 were wounded, eight were wounded but remained at duty, and 20 men were missing.

A number of Portsmouth men were killed during this period. 2nd Lieutenant Eric Reid, aged 19 and from Lennox Road in Southsea, was killed on 29 March 1918. He is remembered on the Arras Memorial. Lance Corporal G.H. Lacey, 33 and from Clive Road, Fratton, died on 31 March 1918. He evidently died in a Base Hospital or on his way home on leave, for he is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery. Several men were killed on 3 April – Lance Corporal P.O. Lawrence is buried in Roclincourt Valley War Cemetery, and Private Frederick Henwood, 21 and from Bishop Street, Fratton, is buried in Athies War Cemetery. Four men were killed During the Battle of Bethune and the attack at Pacaut Wood. Corporal S. Metcalf, 40 and from Orange Street, Portsea, was killed on 21 April and is buried in Mont Bernanchon War Cemetery. Private Harry Reeve, 29 and from Rivers Street, Southea, was killed on 22 April, and is buried in St Venant-Robecq Road Cemetery. Also killed on the 22nd was Private C.F. Jerome, who is buried in Mont Bernanchon Cemetery. Finally, on 23 April, Private W. Brockway, 22 and from London Road, North End, who is buried in Lapugnoy War Cemetery.

About these ads

12 Comments

Filed under Army, portsmouth heroes, Uncategorized, western front, World War One

12 responses to “1st Hampshires in the Great War – the Kaiser Offensive continues

  1. Pingback: 1st Hampshires in the Great War – the Kaiser Offensive continues …

  2. Pingback: 1st Hampshires in the Great War – the Kaiser Offensive continues …

  3. Shaun Peter Kelly

    My uncle John Kelly of the 1st Hampshire Regiment and from St. Helens Lancashire, was killed on the morning of 22nd April 1918.

    Johnnie’s Gone to War

    Our Johnnie’s run away Mam
    His little brother said
    I woke up on my own Mam
    He’s not been in his bed

    He’s run off to the Army
    And lied about his years
    He should be still at school
    Our Mam’s now full of tears

    Several years, have past us by
    A knock comes on the door
    There stood our John, a soldier
    Who’s been away to war

    We’re all so very proud of him
    He’s been fighting on the Somme
    Now he’s home, safe and well
    And Mam’s headache has gone

    His two weeks leave soon over
    Dad escorts him to the train
    But little did his parents know
    They would not see him again

    The telegram came to our door
    Words his parents feared they would
    To say he died for King and Country
    In the battle of Pacaut Wood.

    spk

  4. This is a great tip particularly to those
    fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise information…
    Thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!

  5. If you are not likely going to pay car 553 is
    for the entire car and get the car condition.
    The applicant should have worked for more than three years
    now. So, you need now to search a used car that has been
    asked here, then you need enough time to check
    these things in your mind that not every car salesman is dishonest.

  6. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this brilliant blog!
    I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS
    feed to my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and will
    share this blog with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

  7. Remarkable ideas. Research has shown that it is
    effective on the way to appetite suppression body fat using and increased electricity metabolism.
    Saffron Extract is loaded with vital vitamins, fibers, minerals and many other healthy nutrition the human body requires.

    Right now the question will be what really tend to be the positive aspects to picking and using Garcinina?
    Let’s have a closer appear at Saffron Extract success
    stories

  8. Did not thought about this until now :)Saffron
    Extract Extract suppresses the pancreas from smashing down starch into
    maltose and dextrin. It also stops the production of alpha-amylase mineral deposits in the entire body.
    Medical practitioners sometimes endorse this to their subjects
    who are diabetes patients because the Saffron Extract stops the construction of alpha-glucosidase positioned in
    the intestines from transitioning disaccharides and starches into
    blood sugar. Saffron Extract benefits also inhibits sugar and carbohydrate food from converting into surplus excess fat by blocking
    the generation of citrate lyase. Some medical professionals use Garcinia as a laxative to help with costiveness or other wellness purposes such
    as fat loss, stress reliever, major depression, changes in mood and as a tool to
    acquiring a superior night rest.

  9. This page really has all the information and facts I
    wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  10. You have made some decent points there. I looked on the web to learn more about the
    issue and found most people will go along with your
    views on this web site.

  11. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d
    most certainly donate to this brilliant blog! I suppose
    for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to
    my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will talk about
    this website with my Facebook group. Talk
    soon!

  12. Hello Dear, are you actually visiting this website daily, if so after that you will definitely take nice knowledge.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s