WAR DIARY of 20 Siege Battery March 1918

WAR DIARY of 20 Siege Battery

 

For March 1918

 

Place       Date    Hour                                                Summary of Events and Information

 

MARCH

7th                    No —— SACKFORD E.A. Killed in action.  No —- Cpl NORTH T. wounded (died of wounds 8.3.18) Battery position shelled by 5.9” How.

11th                  4 Gunners wounded in BEUVRY.

16th                  1 Gunner wounded.

15th                  2/Lt. R.G. PERCIVAL 125 S.B. S.A.H.A. posted to 20 S.B. & to remain attached to 125 S.B.

20th                  1 Gunner wounded .  Destruction shoot (400 rds) by 5.9 Hows with aeroplane observation on forward position.  I *** destroyed

25th                  Major L.G.R.C.H. BELL rejoined from Hospital.

Tactical

1000 rounds fired during month in destructive shoots on Hostile Batteries. 1 OK & 15 Ys during ranging. Battery positions as on Jan 1st until 20th March.  2 Guns moved on 22nd March 300 yards to Rt flank of Forward Position, leaving 1 gun in original forward position “alive” & mark move.

 

 

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WAR DIARY of 2/6th Sherwood Foresters March 1918

WAR DIARY of 2/6th Sherwood Foresters

 

For March 1918

 

 

Place       Date    Hour                                                Summary of Events and Information

 

Fighting Strength  53 Offs 833 O.R.s

MAP 57B

U.25.b.3.4.   1/3/18                             Battn constructing Reserve accommodation at U.25.b.3.4.

2/3/18 to 10/3/18         Battn relieved by 23rd Northumberland Fusiliers and marched to NORTH CAMP, MORY.

NORTH CAMP MORY 2.3.18        Battn on Working Parties on Reserve Line NOREUIL. C.9.b. (57 C).

B.21.b.8.7 (57C).     to 10.3.18

 

U 14             11/3/18 to 20/3/18        Battn occupied front line in 14b U 14 (57c)

21/3/18             Very heavy enemy barrage on front line from 5.0 am to 9.30 am.  Enemy attacked at 9.30 am.  Battn suffered very heavy casualties.

AYETTE       22/3/18 to 23/3/18       Remainder of Battn withdrawn to AYETTE F.6.c.3.3. (57D)

SENLIS         24/3/18                         Battn proceeded by march route to SENLIS V.10.d.8.4. (57D).

ESBLER       25/3/18                         Battn proceeded by march route to ESBLER, Nr BAEUCOURT.

FIEFFES     26/3/18                            Battn proceeded by march route to FIEFFES NR CANDAS.

CAMBLIGNEUL 28/3/18                Battn entrained at CANDAS, and detrained at LARUGNOY D.21.a.9.9. (36B) from this point proceeded by bus to CMABLIGNEUL, W.14.d.2.4. (36B)

CAMBLIGNEUL 30/3/18                H.M. The King visited CAMBLIGNEUL.

2.0 pm.            Inspection of Battn by G.O.C. 59th Division

Fighting Strength 30 Offs  627 O.R.s

 

Lt. Col

Cdg 2/6th Sherwood Foresters

War Diary of 9th Canadian Artillery Brigade March 1918

CONFIDENTIAL

 

War Diary of 9th Canadian Artillery Brigade

 

From March 1st 1918 – To March 31st 1918

 

 

*.10.D.90.60. **x-village * GIVENCHY

1.3.18           Visibility throughout the day was indifferent.  The enemy’s artillery and Trench Mortars activity was quiet with the exception of a shoot on the 31st 36th Battery O.Ps in the German concrete house in T.2.b beside the LENS-VIMY Railroad.  The enemy showed himself considerably on our front during the day and was energetically engaged by our 18-pdrs with good results.  The enemy’s planes were more active than usual patrolling our lines from 6 AM until noon.  Two of the enemy balloons were up observing our front.  At 11.00 AM a small red propaganda balloon dropped literature on the LENS-ARRAS Road.

 

2.3.18            The visibility was good throughout the morning, only.  The enemy’s artillery and Trench Mortar firing was light and scattered.  Considerable movement still being observed in the vicinity of AVION, giving our gunners good practice in sniping.  A small red propaganda balloon was seen to rise from the enemy lines near HARNES and travelled in our direction.  Later in the day a balloon was picked up on our right front.

 

  • Visibility today was very poor and consequently very little enemy shelling.

 

4.3.18              The visibility was poor again today and with the exception of a lively enemy bombardment in front of LENS at 6 o’clock this morning, his attitude has been very quiet.  An enemy plane flew over our trenches this morning at 6 AM at about 400 feet.

 

5.3.18          The visibility improved greatly and although the enemy’s artillery continues to be very quiet, considerable movement was reported from our Observing Posts and our sniping guns were active all day.  Three enemy planes were seen during the day only one of which crossed our lines.

 

6.3.18            The visibility today was only fair and his artillery and Trench Mortars quiet, with the exception of a bombardment which he put on our front at 3.30 this morning.  Under cover of this bombardment he projected gas, the wind shifting and blowing it back to his own lines, and his gas gongs and horns could be heard for a considerable time.

 

7.3.18            Visibility today was poor.  His artillery continues quiet.  For a short time in the afternoon our Observation Posts reported considerable movement in the vicinity of the BULL-RING.  An Enemy Plane crossed our lines flying very high but owing to the good shooting of our Anti-Aircraft batteries was turned back in a short time.

 

8.3.18            The visibility continued poor.  The enemy artillery was more active today but his shelling was light and scattered, mostly “whiz-bangs” being used.  His Trench Mortars were active in the afternoon firing into VIMY.  Movement was again reported on SALLAUMINES HILL.  Both ours and the enemy’s planes showed considerable activity, several of his low-flying planes crossing our lines, during the afternoon.

 

9.3.18            Visibility still poor.  Enemy’s artillery somewhat livelier today, most of his attention being directed against AVION.  One of his batteries was observed to be firing very close behind his front line so as to enfilade our trenches to the left of our zone, in front of MERICOURT.  Very little movement was observed owing to the poor visibility.  Three enemy aeroplanes were observed this morning all of which were flying very high.

 

10.3.18          Visibility poor.  Enemy artillery activity quiet.  Little movement was again noted.  Three enemy planes were observed, none of which crossed our lines.  Two of our low-flying planes were firing into the enemy’s trenches this morning in the vicinity of MERICOURT.

 

11.3.18          Visibility today has slightly improved.  The enemy’s artillery still quiet.  Movement observed between AVION and MERICOURT.  Aeroplane activity on both sides more marked today than usual.  7 enemy machines were observed.

Minor Operation Order No 2 was issued today in connection with proposed raid to be carried out by the 42nd Canadian Battalion on our front for the purpose of securing identification and destroying enemy dugouts in the vicinity; all the batteries of this brigade taking part in the barrage.

 

 

12.3.18          Visibility today was fairly good.  The enemy’s artillery activity was considerably increased owing to the fact probably, that we raided has trenches this morning.  His guns were also active firing on our rear areas.  A great deal of movement was observed in the vicinity of SALLAUMINES HILL.  5 enemy aeroplanes were seen on our front today, four of which crossed our lines for a short time.  Three balloons were reported up today.

At 9.00 AM this morning our batteries opened fire under cover of which, One officer and Fifteen men of the 42nd Canadian Battalion entered the enemy’s trenches in the vicinity of AVION.  Four minutes after we opened fire the enemy retaliated with Medium Trench Mortars.  At seven and one half minutes after his batteries opened fire.  No identification was secured as none of the enemy were found to be occupying their front line.  Our barrage was reported to have been perfect and highly satisfactory to the Infantry, who returned without having any casualties.

 

13.3.18          Visibility today was again poor.  His artillery was fairly quiet.  His High Velocity guns were firing into our rear areas again today.  Some movement was observed opposite our front.  The aerial activity on both sides was considerable.  5 planes of the enemy were observed opposite our front, three of which attacked one of our observation planes which succeeded in getting away.

Operation Order No 140 was issued with reference to a proposed raid by the 5th C.M.R. who propose to raid the enemy trenches in front of MERICOURT, for the purpose of obtaining identifications, inflicting casualties and destroying dugouts and defences.  7 officers and 191 other ranks taking part.  The batteries of our brigade are asked to support the raid and put up a demonstration barrage on our front so as to mislead the enemy.

 

14.3.18          Visibility was poor, and as a result his artillery and trench mortar activity was rather quiet.  Movement still continues to be seen in the vicinity of the BULL-RING.  Two enemy aeroplanes were           observed, neither of which crossed our lines.

 

15.3.18          The visibility today was very good and his artillery and trench mortar fire, with the exception of the retaliation to our raid this morning, was quieter than usual.  Considerable individual movement was again observed and train movement reported on the LILLE-DOUAI Railroad during the afternoon.  Three enemy aeroplanes were observed, two of which attempted to cross our lines but were prevented from doing so by the excellent shooting of our Anti-Aircraft and intense Machine Gun fire.  Two hostile balloons were observed, one of which was forced to descend by our High Velocity gun which engaged it with creditable results.

Attached is a report from Lieut A.B. Manning 36th Battery on this morning’s raid. (Not with this archive).

 

16.3.18            The visibility this morning was very poor, improving in the afternoon.  The enemy’s artillery activity was light, being principally directed towards our front line and support trenches.  Movement was again reported by our Observation Posts and our sniping guns were again active.  Aerial activity on both sides was more marked today than during the past few days.  Three enemy planes were observed.  Many of our planes crossed enemy lines one of which was brought down in NO MAN’S LAND and was immediately engaged by enemy artillery, trench mortars and Machine guns.

 

17.3.18          The visibility after 9.00 A.M. today was good.  His artillery fire today appeared to be mostly the registration of trenches in the vicinity of AVION.  The Observation Posts of the 32nd and 33rd Batteries were shelled this morning by a 10 cm gun.  Our Trench mortars carried out a shoot this afternoon on the enemy’s lines opposite AVION.  Considerable movement was observed today in the BULL-RING and our gunners were kept busy all day long.  The aerial activity on both sides continues active.  Several enemy formations crossed our lines at high altitudes.

 

18.3.18          Visibility continues good.  The enemy’s artillery continues to register on our forward areas.  Considerable movement is still being reported by our Look-outs.  A large amount of ammunition was expended by our batteries on opportunity targets.  Ours and the enemy’s plane continue active, the enemy contenting himself with patrolling his own lines.  Three enemy balloons reported opposite our front.

 

19.3.18          The visibility today is poor.  The enemy’s artillery continues to pay most attention to the forward areas.  Very little movement was observed today owing to the rain.  No enemy planes were observed today.

 

20.3.18          Visibility today improved.  Enemy’s artillery quiet but his T.Ms were more active today than during the past few days.  The usual movement observed on SALLAUMINES HILL was engaged by our sniping guns.  Two low-flying enemy planes attempted to cross our lines but were prevented from going so by our M.G. fire.  Operational Order No 169 was issued today by 3rd Canadian Divisional Artillery corresponding to our Operational Order No 141, giving details of a proposed raid to be carried out by the 4th Canadian Division covering the LENS Sector, our batteries being required for demonstration purposes.

 

21.3.18          Visibility poor.  Enemy’s artillery activity was light and scattered during the day.  A considerable amount of movement was seen today, the enemy evidently believing they could not be observed owing to poor light.  Three enemy planes observed today, one of which attempted to cross our lines.

 

22.3.18          Visibility today was only fair, the enemy’s artillery activity again being confined to the forward areas.  His long range High Velocity guns were again firing into our back country.  Some movement was observed between AVION and MERICOURT.  12 enemy aeroplanes were observed today all of which crossed our lines for a short period.  Our planes were very active.

 

23.3.18          Poor visibility today.  Enemy’s artillery was particularly quiet with the exception of his High Velocity gun which continued to shell our rear areas.  Very little movement was observed.  Two aeroplanes were observed today one of which crossed our lines and dropped bombs in the vicinity of SOUCHEZ about noon.

Operation Order No 142 was issued today with reference to taking over the 62nd Division front on our right by our Division, our line being extended down to the ARLEUX SECTION.  This extension is due to the big German drive which is taking place from ARRAS to below ST QUENTIN, the first news of which was received last night.

 

24.3.18          Visibility today was fair with the exception of a bombardment on our right and left flanks – enemy’s artillery has been quiet.  What little movement was observed today was engaged by our sniping guns.  Six enemy planes were observed, all of which were heavily engaged by our A.A. batteries and machine gun fire.  We are expecting an attack any day on our front and at 5.05 AM today the enemy put on a heavy bombardment, first on our left and then on our right, which was followed by a raid.  Our S.O.S. went up at 5.07 AM.  The front was quiet again at 5.50 AM.  It is reported that we took several prisoners, losing none.  During the above bombardment two fires were observed in the enemy lines as a result of our heavy retaliation.

Our zones have been changed several times and as a result Amendment to “TABLE ‘A’” has been issued to accompany O.O. No 142.

 

25.3.18          Visibility today was very good.  Enemy artillery quiet.  A great deal of movement was observed today not only individual, but train movement in the back areas as well. HARNES Church Tower is observed to have been destroyed, which has been a prominent landmark in the enemy’s lines since the capture of VIMY RIDGE.  The 32nd Battery C.F.A. report having read part of a German message sent by lamp from the SLAG HEAP in the vicinity of BILLY MONTIGNY.  Only one enemy plane and one balloon observed today.

O.O No 143 was issued today giving details for a system of Harassing Fire for the purpose of vigorously interfering with his operations and demoralising his assaulting troops.

 

 

26.3.18          Visibility today was exceptionally good.  Hostile artillery was very quiet, with the exception of a few rounds on our forward areas.  Considerable individual movement was observed on SALLAUMINES HILL and the train movement in his rear area was very marked.  Two enemy planes flew over our lines today.  Three of his balloons were observed up opposite our front.  Amendment No 2 to “TABLE A” to accompany O.O. 142.  This is reference to the withdrawing of our line on the right in anticipation of a German attack from MERICOURT to the South.

 

27.3.18          Visibility today was only fair.  His artillery has been fairly active all day long mostly in the nature of registration work.  His T.Ms were slightly more active than usual, apparently retaliation to the aggressive work of our 18-pdrs on enemy movement.  Movement is again observed on SALLAUMINES HILL between MERICOURT and AVION.  No enemy planes were seen today.  Two balloons were observed up opposite our front.  The moon has been very bright the last few nights and both ours and the enemy’s bombing planes have been most active in bombing their rear areas.

 

28.3.18          Visibility today has been fair.  His artillery was quieter than yesterday, with the exception of his High Velocity gun which has been shelling our wagon lines causing considerable consternation among our horse lines.  Several enemy planes were observed patrolling his own lines.  Five balloons were observed up on our front.  At 6.00 P.M. an enemy plane was brought down by our rifle and machine gun fire in our lines in front of MERICOURT and the pilot taken prisoner.

 

29.3.18          Visibility today was good.  His artillery was quiet this morning but rather more active than usual this afternoon, the forward areas receiving a scattered shelling.  His H.V. guns still active on our rear areas in the vicinity of SOUCHEZ and GIVENCHY.  His activity on our front shows a marked increase today.  Movement was also observed on our right front where we are daily expecting an attack.  Ours and the enemy’s planes very active during the day.  At 5.15 PM six planes were observed in an aerial combat over MERICOURT.  No decision was reached.

 

30.3.18        Visibility today was good.  His artillery continues active.  Shelling still has the appearance of registration.  Very little movement was observed on our front.  Six enemy planes crossed our lines today, penetrating as far back as the ridge, one of which was a tri-plane.  His planes showed an aggressive attitude today.  Four of his balloons observed up opposite our front.  Numerous gun flashes observed today, showing that he has many guns opposite our front.

 

31.3.18          Visibility today was very good.  His artillery activity particularly quiet.  As a result of the visibility a great deal of movement was observed in the usual places between AVION and MERICOURT.  A good view was obtained of the enemy back country beyond where his trains appeared to be very active.  Enemy planes were very aggressive.  Six enemy planes crossed our lines as far back as VIMY RIDGE.  One type of an unusual type was observed in the vicinity of MERICOURT resembling one of our machines to such an extent that the enemy’s Anti Aircraft Guns engaged it.  Three small enemy balloons were observed today between LENS and MERICOURT.

 

 

 

Lieut-Col.

Comdg. 9th Canadian Artillery Brigade

 

 

APRIL 1918

APRIL 1918

Operation Michael – The Spring Offensive

The Battle of Avre was the final attack of Operation Michael and was contested on the 4th and 5th April 1918. The object was to secure the outermost eastern defence of Amiens centred on the town of Villers-Bretonneux in order to secure the town and surrounding high ground. The German attack was against the British and Australian defenders. Both sides used tanks and eventually the British/Australian troops were forced back but a night counter-attack recaptured Villers-Bretonneux and halted the German advance. The Germans attempted to renew the offensive on the 5th April 1918 and by early morning, the British/Australians had forced the Germans out of the town with the exception of the south-east corner. German progress toward Amiens had reached its furthest westward point and the German High Command terminated the offensive.

………………

The British had pioneered the use of tanks on the Somme in 1916, but the Germans didn’t appear all that interested in the tank as a weapon. However, they did try using some captured British machines and developed their own version, the AV7. The Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux began on the morning of the 24th April 1918 at 03.45 hours when the Germans shelled Cachy, a small village south east of Villers-Bretonneux, with gas and explosives. For once, the Germans began to use their AV7 tanks which caused considerable damage. This was an attempt to dislodge the British and Australian troops in order to capture Amiens. British tanks began to move toward the village when, out of the mist, they were confronted by a single AV7 tank. The Germans had modified the captured tanks by increasing the armour but had only six machine guns and a 57mm cannon as weapons. Two British female tanks, although no match for the AV7, harassed the German tank whilst a third British male tank closed in on the German AV7. When in range the AV7 was forced to retire and British Whippet tanks were used to stem the tide of battle against the village. Whilst the village did fall into German hands for an evening, the following morning the 26th April 1918 the Australian Infantry not only took the village but captured a thousand German prisoners with it. Amiens would never fall to the Germans and the advance had been broken.

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Operation Georgette – The Spring Offensive

Operation Georgette, also known as the Battle of the Lys, was the second phase of the Spring Offensive by the Germans and began on the 7th April 1918. The objective of Operation Georgette was to capture Ypres forcing the British back to the channel ports and out of the war. On the 29th April 1918 the German High Command called off the offensive after it became obvious the operation could not achieve its objectives. Operation Georgette was similar to Operation Michael, which had been contested in March 1918, but was a smaller offensive with disappointing results for the Germans.

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The Battle of Estaires began when the German bombardment opened on the evening of the 7th April 1918, against the southern part of the Allied line between Armentières and Festubert. The barrage continued until dawn on the 9th April 1918. The German Sixth Army then attacked with eight divisions, and the assault struck the Portuguese Second Division, which held a front of approximately 11km (6.8 miles). The Portuguese division was overrun and withdrew towards Estaires. The British 55th Division, to the south of the Portuguese, pulled back its northern brigade and held its ground for the rest of the battle. The British 40th Division (to the north of the Portuguese) collapsed under the German attack and fell back. The British committed reserve forces to stem the German breakthrough but they too were defeated. The Germans broke through 15 km (9.3 miles) of front and advanced up to 8km (5 miles), the most advanced probe reaching Estaires on the Lys. They were halted by British reserve divisions. On the 10th April 1918, the German Sixth Army tried to push west from Estaires but were contained for a day. They pushed north against the flank of the British Second Army and took Armentières. At the conclusion of the Battle of Estaires the Portuguese Second Division was incorporated into some British units. They had suffered an estimated 7,000 casualties, which constituted something like 65% of their force on the Western Front.

………………

The German Forth Army attacked the British 19th Division at the Third Battle of Messines on 10th April 1918. The attack began north of Armentières with the Germans advancing 3km (1.9 miles) along a 6km (3.7 mile) front. They broke through and captured the village of Messines and the British were forced to retreat. By the 11th April 1918 the British situation was desperate, and it was on this day that Sir Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, issued his famous “backs to the wall” order.

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On the 11th April 1918, Field Marshall Sir Herbert Plumer, commander of the Second Army, assessed the heavy losses of the Second army and the defeat of his southern flank during Operation Michael. He authorised a withdrawal of the southern flank of the Second Army on the Passchendaele Ridge enabling the line to be shortened along the Ypres Salient and release troops for the other armies. He also ordered his northern flank to withdraw from Passchendaele to Ypres and the Yser Canal. The Belgian Army, to the north, conformed and also withdrew to the Yser Canal. The withdrawal was carried out at night with the Germans unaware the British were retiring. By late afternoon on the 16th April 1918 the German patrols had discovered the withdrawal and began to occupy the area. The new defensive line around Ypres was established on the 27th April 1918. The Battle of Bailleul  was fought from the 13th to 15th April 1917 when the Germans drove forward in the centre, taking Bailleul, 12 km (7.5 miles) west of Armentières.

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In the Battle of Hazebrouck on the 12th APRIL 1918, the German Sixth Army renewed its attack in the south, toward the supply centre of Hazebrouck. The Germans advanced 2-4 km (1.2-2.5 miles) and captured Merville. On the 13th April 1918 they were stopped by the First Australian Division, which had been transferred to the area. The British Fourth Division defended Hinges Ridge, the Fifth Division and the 33rd Division held Nieppe Forest.

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At the First Battle of Kemmel on the 17th to 19th April 1918 The German Forth Army attacked the Kemmelberg, which is the high ground commanding the area between Armentières and Ypres. The attack was repulsed by the forces of the British Second Army.

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At the Battle of Bethune, to the south of Mount Kemmel, the German Sixth Army attacked from the breakthrough area on 18th April 1918. Stubborn resistance by the British First Army repulsed the attack.

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The newly appointed French Marshal Ferdinand Foch, commander in chief of the Allied Armies, agreed to send French reserves to the Lys section. A French division relieved the British defenders of the Kemmelberg at the Second Battle of Kemmel. From the 25th to 26th April 1918 the German Forth Army made a sudden attack on the Kemmelberg and captured it. This success gained some ground but it did not make any further progress toward a new breakthrough in the Allied Line.

………………

A final German attack, at the Battle of Scherpenburg on the 29th April 1918, resulted in the Germans capturing the Scherpenburg hill located north-west of the Kemmelburg. At the end of the Battle of the Lys, both sides had suffered heavy losses. Of the 800,000 men the Germans had available for the engagement they sustained 120,000 casualties. The British and French had taken a similar number of casualties. In twenty days the Germans had retaken all the ground the Allies had gained in 1917 which had made the fighting around Ypres even more futile. The Battle of the Lys created a short term crisis for the British, whilst awaiting the arrival of the American forces. It caused the German Army to suffer severe and critical damage, which prepared the way for the Allied counterattacks of the last hundred days of the war.

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The Western Front

On the 21st April 1918, in the skies above Vaux sur Somme in France, Manfred von Richthofen was killed in action by Allied fire. Richthofen was the notorious German flying ace who was enduringly nicknamed by the English as the “Red Baron”. He was flying a Fokker triplane, which was most commonly associated with him and was painted entirely in red. With eighty victories under his belt, Richthofen penetrated deep into Allied territory in pursuit of a British plane. He was flying too close to the ground, when supposedly an Australian machine gunner shot him through the chest, and his plane crashed into a field alongside the Corbie to Bray road. Another account has Captain A. Roy Brown, a Canadian in the newly formed Royal Air Force (RAF), shooting him down. British troops recovered his body, and he was buried with full military honours. While German pilots with twenty victories ensured legendary status, Richthofen, when he was killed at 25 years old, was a legend with eighty victories. He was highly decorated, and among others he was awarded the following honours: – Pour le Mérite (The Blue Max), Order of the Red Eagle, House Order of Hohenzollern and the Iron Cross (1st and 2nd Class).

Theodore Bailey Hardy was a 51 year old priest when the Great War broke out in 1914. He volunteered at once but was turned down as being too old. Eventually in August 1916, he was accepted for army service as a Temporary Chaplain to the Forces, 4th Class and attached to the 8th Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment. The summer of 1917 saw the launch of the Battle of Passchendaele and the Reverend Hardy with the 8th Lincolns were to see action throughout the Offensive. In the September of 1917 he was awarded his first decoration, the Distinguished Service Order for his actions in the field. He was out in the open to help bring in wounded. On discovering a dying man totally buried in mud, he remained under fire, ministering to his needs until the man died. For repeatedly going out under heavy fire to help the stretcher bearers during an attack in October 1917, he was decorated with the Military Cross. In the spring of 1918 the Lincolns were on the old Somme battlefield and deployed near Bucquoy, east of Gommecourt. For three very brave and selfless actions carried out on the 5th, 25th and 27th April 1918 the Reverend Hardy would be awarded the highest honour, the Victoria Cross. The first was to stay with a badly wounded patrol officer in no-man’s land, under enemy fire, and brought him in when assistance arrived. His second experience came after one of the battalions posts had been shelled, burying the occupants. The Reverend Hardy again under shell fire set about digging the men out of the rubble, managing to save one, but before the other man could be rescued he had died. His final valiant deed came after the Lincolns had launched an attack on a wood, but were pushed back. The Padre was the last man out of the wood and on reaching an advanced post persuaded a sergeant to go back with him to bring out a wounded man. This they managed to do whilst under enemy fire the whole time. Three tremendous deeds of gallantry yet when he heard of his VC nomination his reaction was typical of the man, “I really must protest”.

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Other Theatres

The Royal Air Force (RAF) was founded on the 1st April 1918 by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). Established three months earlier, the British Government Air Ministry controlled the new service. The RFC had been under the control of the British Army whilst the RNAS was the naval equivalent controlled by the Admiralty. The significant impact of air power during the Great War was the reason for the decision to merge the two services and create an independent air force. To emphasize the merger of both military and naval aviation in the new service, the titles of the officer were deliberately chosen as Flight Lieutenant or Wing Commander or Group Captain or Air Commodore.

………………

The Zeebrugge Raid on the 23rd April 1918 was an attempt by the Royal Navy to block the Belgian port of Bruges-Zeebrugge. The British intended to sink obsolete ships in the canal estuary to prevent German vessels from leaving the port which was  used by the Imperial German Navy as a base for their U-boats and light shipping. The canal entrance was protected by a mile long mole connected to the mainland by a viaduct. The raid began with a diversion against the mole. The attack was led by an old cruiser, Vindictive, with two Mersey ferries, Daffodil and Iris II. The three ships were accompanied by two old submarines, which were filled with explosives to blow up the viaduct connecting the mole to the shore. Vindictive was to land a force of 200 sailors and a battalion of Royal Marines at the entrance to the Bruges canal. The wind changed direction and the necessary smokescreen was blown offshore. The marines immediately came under heavy fire and suffered many casualties. Vindictive was forced to land in the wrong location, resulting in the loss of the marine’s heavy gun support. The attempt to sink the three old cruisers, to block the flow of traffic in and out of the port, had failed. Unable to secure the mole, three blocking ships, HMS Thetis, Intrepid and Iphigenia, which was filled with concrete received the full force of the German artillery shelling. HMS Thetis hit an obstruction and was scuttled and did not make the canal entrance. The other two ships were scuttled at the narrowest part of the canal. Of the two accompanying submarines, only HMS C3 actually collided with the mole viaduct. HMS C1 did not take part in the raid as it parted company with the ship towing it from Dover. Submarine HMS C3 destroyed the viaduct with an explosion for which the commander Lt. R.D.Sandford was awarded the Victoria Cross. The accompanying crew were awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM) for their actions. The crews of all three blocking ships and submarine HMS C3 were rescued by motor launches. The British deemed the operation to have been a success, although the sunken ships did not create a total blockage for German access to their submarine pens.

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Mesopotamia and the Middle East

The Second Transjordan attack on Shunet Nimrin and Es Salt, known as the Second Battle of Jordan, began on the 30th April 1918. The battle followed the failure of the First Transjordan attack on Amman at the end of March 1918. During the first attack across the Jordan River occurred in three main areas. The first area was in the Jordan valley between Jisr ed Durrieh and Umm esh Shert. The Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) defended their advanced position against an attack by units of the Turkish Seventh Army based in the Nablus region of the Judean Hills. The British 60th (London) Division attacked the Turkish Army garrison was the second area of the Jordan Valley Offensive. The garrison was based at Shunet Nimlin, on the main road from Ghoraniyeh to Amman. The third area of fighting occurred after Es Salt was captured by the light horse brigades to the east of the valley in the hills of Moab, where they were strongly counter-attacked by Turkish forces converging on the town from both Amman and Nablus. The strength of the Turkish counter-attacks forced the EEF mounted and infantry forces to withdraw back to the Jordan Valley on the 4th May 1918, where they continued the occupation during the summer until mid-September 1918 when the Battle of Megiddo began.

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April 1918

April 1918

Operation Michael – The Spring Offensive

4th -5th April               Battle of Avre

24th to 27th April           Second battle Villers-Bretonneux

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Operation Georgette – The Spring Offensive

7th to 29th April            Second phase of the Spring Offensive

7th to 10th April           Battle of Estaires

10th to 11th April          Third Battle of Messines

11th to 27th April           Retirement from Passchendaele Ridge

12th to 13th April          Battle of Hazebrouck

13th to 15th April          Battle of Bailleul

17th to 19th April          First Battle of Kemmel

18th April                      Battle of Bethune

25th to 26th April          Second Battle of Kemmel

29th April                     Battle of Scherpenburg

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The Western Front

21st April                      Manfred von Richthofen, Germany’s “Red Baron” was shot down by the Allies

27th April                      Rev. Theodore Hardy awarded the Victoria Cross

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Other Theatres

1st April                      Royal Air Force founded

23rd April                     British raid on Zeebrugge

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Mesopotamia and the Middle East

30th April/4th May       Second Transjordan attack on Shunet Nimrin and Es Salt

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