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138th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery


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Diary of Events: The German Offensive and Amiens
21 March - 4 August 1918

21 March 1918
The German offensive begins in a heavy mist at daybreak.

The Forward Section is positioned on a cross roads south of Remigny and the remainder of the Battery at Bois Hallot, east of Faillouel. Both positions commence firing around 5am and, although activity continues at Bois Hallot all day, the Forward Section sees most of the action.

A direct hit is sustained by the Forward Section around 9am and the Section also has communication problems caused by fog and cut telephone lines. Lt Annesley, the Forward Observation Officer, is taken prisoner around 10.30am but manages to escape and returns to the Section around 3pm. At mid-day the fog lifts allowing the Section to fire at the enemy as they become visible advancing over a nearby ridge. Around 6.30pm, the Section is fired on by hostile aircraft as it retreats to the reserve position at Bois Hallot. Soon after the Section is ordered to move to a new position near Villequier Aumont.

22 March 1918
The former Forward Section is in position at Villequier Aumont by 6am ready to fire. At Bois Hallot the guns fire all morning but are ordered to withdraw at 2pm owing to the progress of the enemy. The Battery assembles at Frieres Faillouel to conduct the withdrawal but after one gun is safely moved the second gets stuck after 200 metres, blocking the exit for the third.

23 March 1918
The 4 guns left to the Battery are active at Villequier Aumont from early morning. Orders are received at mid-day for the entire battery to withdraw to Guivry where the guns come into action at 2pm positioned just behind the village. Moving warfare conditions are now adopted as guns come into action with ammunition wagons placed alongside them.

24 March 1918
Urgent orders are received at 10.30am instructing the battery to pull out as German cavalry have been reported at Commenchon, some 3kms away. The Battery marches to Grandru during which the horses have to cope with the very steep haul through Bois de la Cave. The guns come into action at 2pm positioned just off the road between Grandru and Baboeuf while the remainder of the Battery move on, passing through Salency and Noyon, to find lines further back. Eventually this party receives orders to return to Salency and arrive there at 11pm, some 30 minutes after the guns.

25 March 1918
Orders are received at 1am for the battery to retreat through Noyon to Suzoy, which is reached at 6am. Men and horses are exhausted as the journey has been made in very confused and congested conditions. At 2pm, 3 guns are ordered to take up a position west of Suzoy and are ready to fire at 5pm but are pulled out again at 7pm.

The Battery then begins a most unpleasant and exhausting march westwards.

26 March 1918
The Battery marches up the long hill out of Thesicourt in the direction of Marieul which is reached at 4.30am. All Sections are ordered to stand to at 5am as the enemy is believed to be in the vicinity but wagons arriving later at Marieul confirm this as untrue. Marqueglise is reached at noon. At 4pm the guns are ordered to Vandelicourt but immediately after taking up positions are ordered to take up fresh positions on top of a hill at L'Ecouvillon.

27 March 1918
Three guns reach the position at L'Ecouvillon at 1am after a very steep climb but are immediately ordered to return to Vandelicourt which is reached at 5am with men and horses exhausted.

Since leaving Suzoy about 30 hours earlier, the men and horses of these three guns and wagons had pulled into three different positions and out again, marched some 24 miles and had only 5 hours rest. Meals had been very scratch affairs and the horses had received only short water rations.

The guns are in action again at Vandelicourt at 10am.

28 March 1918
Men and horses are rested at Vandelicourt.

29 March 1918
Orders are received to move to the Poix area to refit. The Battery marches 20 kms from Vandelicourt to Arsy (10km west of Compeigne).

30 March 1918
A 17 kms march from Arsy to Erquinvillers (30kms east of Beauvais).

31 March 1918
An 18 kms march from Erquinvillers to Reuil (15kms north east of Beauvais).

1 April 1918
A 22 kms march from Reuil to Cormeilles (25kms north of Beauvais).

2 April 1918
A 20kms march from Cormeilles to Famechon (25kms south west of Amiens).

3 April 1918
A 27kms march from Famechon to Brocourt (35kms west of Amiens).

4-5 April 1918
The Battery refits at Brocourt.

6-13 April 1918
The Battery marches to Amiens via Nesselete and Vers.

14 April 1918
The Centre Section takes up position in Gentiles Wood, 10km south east of Amiens.

17 April 1918
The Battery has now been fighting in France and Belgium for two years.

Second Half of April 1918
The Centre Section is involved in very heavy fighting in appalling conditions with no cover and difficulties in obtaining ammunition. The Battery suffers a number of casualties, including Lt Coomber who dies of his wounds.

End April 1918
A new position is taken up 4km north west of Villers Brettoneaux where the other guns of the battery come into action. The guns are continually in action but there are relatively few casualties. The Centre Section returns to the wagon lines to rest.

30 April 1918
Orders are received for the Battery to withdraw in order to rest and re-equip after 6 weeks of very heavy fighting.

1 May 1918
The Battery reaches Marieul-Caubert (3km south of Abbeville) and rest for over a fortnight.

16-20 May 1918
The Battery leaves Marieul-Caubert and marches beside the Somme to Amiens.

20 May 1918
A position is taken up at La Nieuville, close to Amiens, where the Battery remains for several weeks. A steady artillery duel continues and two men are killed.

13 July 1918
The Battery moves forward and into action at Bonnay-sur-Ancre.

4 August 1918
The guns move forward to Vaux-sur-Somme.

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