Private Diary of J.K. Dick Cunyngham Br Gen 1 May 1918

Private Diary of J.K. Dick Cunyngham Br Gen

PoW

MAINZ Germany

 

 

Wednesday May 1st.  Commandant took exception to my walking round the parade of No 1 Block with German Officer Lt. Benbe.  In future if I want to inspect officers am to go round before or after German officer.  D & B.F. busy with alphabetical nominal rolls for walks & for Red Cross.  308 officers & 1 Sgt Major now in camp.  Walked for 45 minutes 4.30 to 5.15 p.m. Worthington seems a bright youth – was steward on Merchant Service & knows something of cooking.

List of officers 1 Br Gen, 5 Lt. Cols., 3 Majors, 66 Captains, 57 Lieuts, 171 2nd Lt, R.N.V.R. 1 Lt, 4 Sub Lts.  Walked for ½ hour with Drummond after dinner.

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WAR DIARY of 2/6th Sherwood Foresters for April 1918

WAR DIARY of 2/6th Sherwood Foresters for April 1918

 

 

Place       Date    Hour                                                Summary of Events and Information

Sheets 27 & 28.

Fighting Strength  18 Offs 364 O.R.s

CAMBLINGNEUL 1/4/18               Proceeded to AUBIGNY by march route, there entrained for  PROVEN. Marched from PROVEN to Road Camp F.25.b.1.4.  Arrived at 1.0 am 2/4/18

2/7/4/18                               Road Camp F.25.b/1.4.

WINNEZEELE       3/4/18                 Marched to WINNEZEELE.  Arrived at 2.0 p.m.

10/4/18           10 am.           Entrained at WINNEZEELE and proceeded to POPERINGHE.  Marched to Erie Camp, BRANDHOEK.  Arrived 7.0 pm. In VIII Corps Reserve.

BRANDHOEK 11/4/18                    C.O. reconnoitered the area DICKEBUSCH and VIERSTRAAT with the idea of reinforcing.

12/4/18                                     Dismounted personnel entrained at BRANDHOEK at 3.0 pm. And detrained at LA CLYTTE.  Transport moved by road to DRANOUTRE area.  Battn ordered to move up the KEMEL- LA CLYTTE road where it halted, and billeted in Camps near road.

10 pm.           Battn moved up KEMEL – NEUVE EGLISE road as enemy were reported to have broken through and moving Northwards.

12 MN           Situation normal so Battn ordered to Camp in KEMEL CHATEAU wood.  Patrol sent down road to confirm situation.  They reached NEUVE EGLISE without opposition.

13/4/18                                    During the afternoon Battn took up Line N.27.c.0.5. to N.28.d.0.4.  Battn ordered to move up and take over the dispositions of the 7th Bn S.F. in Valley of DOUVE in Brigade Reserve, and be ready to counter attack NEUVE EGLISE should enemy capture village.  Move commenced at M.N. 13/14th and completed.

14/4/18                                 Orders received to send out patrols to get in touch with 71st Inf. Bde. on Line of A Cy T1 and T2.  Touch gained before daylight.  Heavily shelled throughout the day.  About midday one Coy ordered to fill gap on the road in I9.d.

11 pm.               About 11.0 pm orders received to withdraw to Main Line of Resistance, i.e. Railway Line running through T.1.c. and T.2.c and d, T3 Central, along trenches T4 Central, T.5 Central to T.6 Central.  Battn H.Q. established at N.26.b.6.1.

15/4.18                               Orders received about 11.0 pm to withdraw to the KEMEL – METEREN Line.  Battn took up outpost position in front of KEMMEL.  Defences from N.23.c.3.8 to N.27.c.7.4.

16/4/18                              Withdrawal took place about 2.0 am.  Outposts left out until 2.45. am.  Orders received about 3.0 pm. To the effect that the 28th French Division would attack at 6.0 pm. Between WULVERGEM and WYTECHAETE with their right flank resting on the LINDENHOEK – WULVERGEM Road.  Battn ordered to advance with leading wave and establish a defensive flank on line N.32.d.2.3. – N.33.c.9.1 and N.33.d.5.0.  this attack did not take place.

17/4/18                           About 10.0 am. Enemy commenced heavy bombardment and attacked all along the Line.  Attack held up but gap discovered on left of Battn front.  This gap was filled by one Coy of 2/5th Bn S.F.  During the evening a party of the enemy advanced to within 100 yds of our line and on being fired on retired with the exception of an Officer who remained Sniping.

2/Lt. A.W. Jackson went out and captured the Officer single handed in broad daylight.

18/4/18                           About 1.0 pm the French insisted on having Aircraft Farm bombarded.  The Battn therefore had to withdraw.  The bombardment did not take place and the Battn returned about 4.0 pm.

19/4/18                               The Battn was relieved by the French, leaving the line at 4.30 am.  Proceeded to Billets at WESTHOUTRE.

6.0 pm.                  Moved by rail to BRAKE CAMP A.30 Central.

21/4/18  12 noon.           Marched to HOUTREQUE E.20.b.25.75.

HOUTKERQUE 26/4/18                  Battn digging on WATOU-CAESTRE Line.

F.25.b.1.4.   27/4/18 28/4/18               Marched to ROAD CAMP F.25.b.1.4.  Bn training carried out.

HOUTKERQUE 29/4/18                  Marched to HOUTKERQUE E.20.b.25.75.

30/4/18

 

Fighting Strength 31 Offs  836 O.R.s

 

Capt & Adjt

2/6th Bn Sherwood Foresters

 

WAR DIARY of 20 Siege Battery for April 1918

WAR DIARY of 20 Siege Battery for April 1918

 

Place       Date    Hour                                                Summary of Events and Information

 

APRIL

1st                    Battery positions:- 1 Gun in original position F.4.c.2.7. E of GORRE.  2 guns new position F.3.d.6.7.  2 guns as silent section E of BETHUNE on canal at F.7.a.8.6 (Sheet 36B N.E.)

5th                   1 O.R. wounded (Gnr. SMYTHE).

9th                   CAP.T.J.C.THOMPSON wounded, at duty.

2/Lt. W.H. CHAPMAN wounded, at duty, to Hospital 10th April.

2/Lt. H. MACKAY wounded to Hospital.

2/Lt B.W. TURNBULL wounded to Hospital.

1 NCO & 5 Gunners Killed in action.

2 Gunners wounded at duty

20 Gunners wounded to hospital.

11th                  2 N.C.O.s Killed & 1 Gunner wounded at position on CANAL.

2/Lt. K. DOWNEY to Hospital, wounded when guiding guns through BEUVRY.

12th                  Tr. S. Sgt. ROBINSON, Sgt. BOWDEN A.E. & 4 gunners Killed in action.

Bdr. FREARSON wounded (died of wounds 13th) & 3 gunners wounded.  At new position behind FOSSE 6 de NOEUX.

13th                  Battery moved to ORLINGHEM – 3 guns in position on night of 13th 2 others on 14th.

14th                  2/Lt. R.G. PERCIVAL R.G.A. (S.R.) Joined Battery from 125 S.B.

18th                  2/Lt. E.D. DAVIES R.G.A. (S.R.) 125 S.B. posted to 20 S.B. & remains attached to 125 S.B. S.A.H.A.

At OBLINGHEM 22nd          Lce Bdr BYDE killed in action & 2 gunners wounded 9 other ranks wounded (gassed)

26th                  2/Lt. W.H. CHAPMAN rejoined Battery from Base.

30th                  Lce Bdr CAVE W. (medical orderly) wounded.

29th                  Major L.G.R.F.H. BELL admitted to Hospital sick.

Total Casualties during month from enemy action 5 officers wounded, 16 OR Killed & died of wounds, 38 OR wounded.

 

In the field

 

Tactical Battery positions 1.4.18.  F.4.c.2.7 – 1 gun, F.3.d.6.7 – 2 guns, F.10.a.8.6. 3 guns (silent) Sheet 36 B. N.E.

April 1st – 8th weather chiefly misty. 2 destruction shoots on Hostile Batteries by forward guns with aeroplane observation.

April 9th 4.10 a.m. Enemy attack on LA BASSEE CANAL to N. of ARMENTIERES.  Single gun in original battery position at once out of action by shellfire. (This position subsequently found to be marked as Battery position & strong point on enemy map of the day’s objectives).  2 guns in other forward position fired on SOS lines & hostile batteries until 9 a/m/ when ordered to cease firing by runner from Brigade.  Opened fire again about 10.30 a.m. on front line *** N.E. of FESTUBERT.  Rear section opened fire at 9 a.m.  Forward guns pulled out in early morning of 10th April, about 1000 rounds having been fired during previous 24 hrs by 5 guns remaining in action.  2 serviceable guns placed in position already prepared at near position in canal.

April 11th At 2 p.m. 5 guns pulled out from position in LA BASSEE CANAL & brought into action by 9 p.m. behind FOSSE 6 de NOEUX (LABOURSE). Harassing fire caused ** during night 11th – 12th.

April 13th Guns removed to OBLINGHEM near CHOQUES to be ready for proposed counter attack in evening of 14th – Attack however postponed.

April 14th18th Continued harassing fire in *** in district between HINGES & MERVILLE.  One successful ANF shoot on Hostile Field Battery.

April 25th  2 guns moved to position near ANNEZ, N.W. of BETHUNE & remaining 4 guns moved 3 times during stay at OBLINGHEM, owing to hostile shelling.

April 18th – 30th Firing chiefly in support of an attack on PACAUT WOOD & SOS in that neighbourhood with aeroplane counter battery shoots & neutralisations.

April 22nd – 27th  No 41527 Bdr HOGAN W.J. & No 123172 Lce Bdr CAVE W awarded MM.

Major L.G.R.F.H. BELL & CAPT. J.C. THOMPSON awarded MC.

 

War Diary of 9th Canadian Artillery Brigade April 1918

CONFIDENTIAL

 

WAR DIARY of 9th CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE

 

From April 1st 1918 – To April 30th 1918

 

 

S.10.d.9.6

1.4.18            Visibility today continues very good.  His artillery and T.M. activities have been much below normal.  Considerable movement was observed in the vicinity of SALLAUMINES HILL.  The enemy shows marked activity today with his planes, several of which flying low, patrolled our lines as far back as VIMY RIDGE.  Many propaganda balloons were observed today in the vicinity of LA COULOTTE and LENS to which were attached Green lights.

The guns of the brigade carried out and extensive programme in harassing fire during the past 24 hours. Many targets of opportunity were engaged and dispersed.

 

2.4.18            Visibility low today.  Enemy’s artillery and T.Ms have been quiet during the hours of daylight but under cover of darkness he showed considerable activity.  Some 5.7cm gas shells were fired into LA COULOTTE.  Owing to the visibility, very few of the enemy have been seen today.  There has been considerable aerial activity on our front today.  At least 20 Enemy planes have been seen up opposite our front.  Large formations of our planes have been patrolling our front.  During the night our bombing machines as well as those of the enemy have been very busy.  Between 4.00 and 5.00 PM today an enemy aeroplane shot down five of our observation balloons, in flames, from LA TARGETTE to the vicinity of MAROC.  Although it was an enemy plane, great praise was given to the enemy’s airman for his daring feat.

Many of our small white propaganda balloons were observed travelling towards the enemy lines today, at a great height.

 

3.4.18            Visibility was poor today.  During the hours of daylight the enemy showed considerable activity shelling our forward areas.  Very little movement was observed.  Owing to the visibility no enemy planes were up today.

 

 

4.4.18          Visibility good.  Enemy’s artillery very quiet.  From our Observation Posts on VIMY RIDGE a considerable amount of movement could be seen in enemy back country.  Many transports and large bodies of men were observed.  Nine enemy planes were observed, three of which crossed our lines at high altitude.  Our guns have been very active during the day in harassing the enemy at every opportunity.

 

5.4.18            Visibility poor.  His artillery showed considerable activity on our forward areas.  Very little movement was observed and no aerial activity on either side, owing to visibility.  A raiding party from the 42nd Battalion attempted to enter the enemy’s lines this morning in the vicinity of AVION.  They were discovered, however, before they had gone very far and the enemy opened rifle and machine gun fire which forced our party to throw out smoke bombs and return to our trenches.  We had no casualties.  The enemy on discovering our raiding party threw up many double red rockets.  Nothing unusual happened probably owing to the low visibility, his signal was unobserved.  The infantry state that our smoke barrage was well placed and satisfactory.

 

6.4.18            Visibility today has only been fair.  His artillery has been quiet, confining most of his activity to the forward areas.  Six men were observed today in the vicinity of SALLAUMINES HILL.  At 11.00 a.m. two enemy aeroplanes attacked one of our R.E. 8s over BOIS RIAUMONT, causing it to make a forced landing in the vicinity of AIX NOULETTE.  The enemy aeroplanes then returned over LENS where they were engaged by one of our SOPWITHS which brought one of them down in flames well behind their own lines.  Many of our propaganda balloons were observed today taking messages of “joy and consolation” to the enemy as they contained numerous gruesome pictures of results of our shell fire on the enemy personnel.

 

7.4.18                         Visibility poor throughout the day.  The enemy artillery has been considerable quieter than usual.  Considerable individual movement was observed in the enemy’s back country during short spells of clear visibility.  26 enemy aeroplanes were observed today, 12 of which crossed our lines.  Our bombing planes very active during the hours of darkness.

 

8.4.18              Visibility continues low.  His artillery activity light and scattered over the forward areas paying particular attention to LIEVIN and our Headquarters in S.10.d (near GIVENCHY).  During this shelling the Headquarters managed to “carry on” although living in shacks, which were at least rain-proof.  The situation, however, caused a considerable drain on Headquarters army rum issue.  No movement was observed today in the enemy’s country.

 

 

  • FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE CAPTURE OF VIMY RIDGE

The enemy showed a considerable amount of activity during the afternoon shelling the forward areas with high explosive and gas. The day was still and misty which was ideal for the employment of gas.  His heavy howitzers and high velocity guns were active in our rear areas in the vicinity of ALBAIN ST LAZAIRE.  At 4.55 PM an enemy aeroplane of odd design flew over GIVENCHY and disappeared in the direction of SOUCHEZ at about 1000 feet, evidently lost in the fog as the observer could be seen standing up and studying the ground carefully.

 

10.4.18            Visibility very poor today.  Enemy activity on our front has been very quiet, but has shown marked attention to our lines on both our flanks.  His high velocity guns were active shelling our back areas.

 

11.4.18            Visibility continues poor.  The enemy put down a concentrated shoot on the 33rd Battery detached gun in CITE des PETITES BOIS, during the afternoon and succeeded in hitting everything but the gun.  There were no casualties.  Practically no movement was observed.  Nine enemy aeroplanes crossed our lines today, most of which were flying low.

 

12.4.18            Visibility today good.  Enemy’s artillery active during the morning, putting down bursts of fire on our forward areas, our Brigade Headquarters again receiving some attention.  His Trench Mortars were considerably more active than usual, principally against AVION.  His high velocity guns were active shooting into our back country.  Movement was observed in the “BULL-RING”.  Several enemy aeroplanes crossed our lines during the day penetrating as far back as LIEVIN.  At 11.00 A.M. from the direction of MEURCHIN (behind LENS) a large ammunition dump was observed on fire.  Our bombing planes were active during the night.

 

13.4.18            Visibility poor.  During the early morning a heavy continuous bombardment could be heard in the vicinity of ARRAS.  His activity on our front has been confined to a light and scattered shelling of forward areas.

Minor Operation Order No 2 was issued today giving the details of a proposed gas projector attack in the vicinity of HILL 70 and ST EMILE. We propose to project 2100 gas drums in this operation.  All our batteries are required to co-operate in this attack.

 

14.4.18            Visibility continues poor. His artillery has been quiet but his trench mortars have been very active today, putting on a concentrated shoot on AVION, lasting over half an hour, to which our batteries retaliated vigorously.

 

15.4.18            Visibility fair today.  His artillery activity continues quiet.  His trench mortars again showed marked activity in the vicinity of AVION.  During the afternoon two concentrated shoots were put down.  Our guns again retaliated.  Considerable movement was observed during the morning, practically all of which was engaged by our batteries.  There has been a noticeable increase in the enemy train traffic moving north.

 

  • Visibility fair. Enemy artillery activity has been above normal during the day. Our O.Ps on the HIRONDELLE SPUR received considerable attention. AVION, LA COULOTTE, LIEVIN and our Headquarters in S.10.D. were also shelled.  During the night there was a lively bombardment on the HILL 70 Sector to our north flank.  During the afternoon his T.Ms were very active on our front as well as on the front to the north of us.  His activity appeared to be in the nature of prearranged shoots.  Very little movement was observed during the hours of daylight.

 

  • Visibility today fair. Enemy activity during the day has been confined to the forward areas. During the evening an S.O.S. was sent up on the front to our left.  Our guns responded by firing on LENS.  Considerable amount of individual movement observed during the day.  7 enemy planes were observed during the day.  During the afternoon the enemy sent up many white flares on our front, during the hours of daylight.  No reason can be given for this unusual demonstration.

 

  • Visibility fair. Enemy has shown considerable activity on our front during the day. At 11.30 AM the vicinity of the 33rd Battery was shelled with 5.9s and during the afternoon our O.Ps in the BOIS d’HIRONDELLE was shelled with 5.9s.  Considerable individual movement was observed during the morning, in the enemy’s back country.  Many trains were observed moving north during the day.  A heavy explosion occurred in the enemy back country behind MERICOURT.

Operational Order 144 was issued today rearranging the artillery distribution on our front. The 8th Army Field Artillery Brigade come under the tactical control of the 9th Brigade C.F.A. and the whole becoming known as COGHLANS GROUP.

 

 

19.4.18            Visibility good today with some sleet and rain showers.  The enemy’s artillery has been fairly quiet with the exception of a concentrated shoot on LIEVIN during the morning and afternoon.  During the evening in retaliation to our 11 hour gas bombardment, in which the 36th battery took part, commencing at 9.30PM the enemy put down a short burst of fire in the vicinity of AVION in response to many double red flares.  During the afternoon the enemy T.Ms put down two bursts of fire on our lines in the vicinity of AVION.  In both cases our field guns retaliated.  A large amount of movement was observed today in the enemy’s back country a great deal of which was engaged by our batteries.  Enemy aeroplanes were very active today, many of which crossed our lines, penetrating behind VIMY RIDGE.

Abnormal train movement was again observed, most of which was moving north.

 

  • Visibility today good. His artillery has been fairly quiet, most of the shelling being confined to the forward areas. The enemy continues to show himself at many points on our front, and has kept our sniping guns very active, in “Ye Royal Sport” of snipe-shooting.  An enemy plane passed over VIMY RIDGE today at about 1500 feet.  Considerable train movement observed, still going north.

 

  • Visibility today has been good. His artillery activity has been quiet with the exception of considerable attention being paid to LIEVIN. A large amount of movement was again observed today a great deal of which was engaged by our guns.  The enemy aeroplanes have been very active, patrolling our lines almost continuously, at a high altitude.  Our bombing planes were active during the evening.

 

  • Visibility today continues good. Enemy artillery activity has been fairly quiet. A few scattered rounds only, fell in our forward area.  Considerable movement was again observed and fired on opposite our front.  Only two enemy planes observed today.  At 6.00 PM this evening a small paper balloon fell in the vicinity of the 33rd Battery, attached to which was a potato.  We showed our gratitude to the enemy for his “unparalleled generosity” by putting on a specially heavy night of harassing fire, in the form of a gas bombardment, in which the 36th Battery again took part.

 

*27.c.90.45  LIEVIN

23.4.18            Visibility today has been fair.  His artillery activity was quiet, with the exception of two concentrated shoots which he put down on a battery position recently vacated by the 45th Battery.  Considerable movement was again observed during the morning in the BULL-RING.  Three enemy planes observed today, one of which was an enemy artillery observation plane which assisted in the registration of the old 45th Battery position.  Our Headquarters today moved from the vicinity of GIVENCHY to LIEVIN, where a detail of men from all the batteries assisted the Headquarters in building a very creditable “Home” in the “BROWN LINE”.

Now that our “Home” is completed, according to the rules, a move to another front may be expected.

 

24.4.18            Visibility today has been very poor and his artillery activity has been confined to scattered shelling in the forward areas during the hours of darkness, as well as during the day.  It has been impossible for our O.Ps to see the enemy’s lines owing to the dense mist.

 

  • Visibility continues poor. His artillery activity during the day was light and scattered. Our old vacated Headquarters near GIVENCHY was shelled today.  Very little movement has been observed.

 

  • Visibility poor. The usual light scattered shelling continues. Our O.Ps are unable to observe anything in the enemy’s lines on account of the poor light.

 

  • Visibility continues low. His artillery attitude has been quiet. Very little movement was observed.  Heavy firing was heard during the afternoon in the north.

 

  • Visibility low. His artillery continues to harass our forward areas during the hours of darkness. During the daytime his 7.7 and 10.5 cm batteries firing from the vicinity of SALLAUMINES were silenced by our 4.5 Howitzer batteries.  Only two men were observed during the day, these being fired on and forced to take cover.  An enemy low flying aeroplane flew over our Hdqrs today, disappearing in the vicinity of AVION.

 

Place       Date    Hour                                              Summary of Events and Information

 

  • Visibility continues poor. The enemy’s artillery attitude continues quiet on our front but has showed considerable activity on both our flanks, during the day. Owing to the visibility very little movement was reported from our O.Ps.  An enemy low flying aeroplane flew over our Headquarters and Batteries this afternoon giving our battery machine guns an exciting time for a few moments.  We received a Warning Order today stating that we will shortly be relieved by Imperial troops coming from the fight on the AMIENS

 

  • Visibility poor today owing to steady rain. Enemy’s artillery has been more active today than usual probably in retaliation to the active harassing fire of our batteries.

 

 

GENERAL

 

The following decorations have been awarded for gallant work performed by the undermentioned Officers and men in connection with the operations on the 28th of March 1918 when the enemy attempted to capture ARRAS.  The 31st and 36th Batteries were attached to the 10th Brigade C.F.A. during this attack, in which the Right flank of the Canadians were engaged.

 

THE FRENCH CROIX DE GUERRE

 

Major D.A. MacKinnon D.S.O.         O.C. 36th Battery CFA

 

THE MILITARY MEDAL

  1. Sergeant CASHEN M.                                36th Battery CFA

301302  Bomdr McKENZIE R.J.O.                          36th Battery CFA

301136  Driver LE FORT P.                                      36th Battery CFA

91663  Gunner TULLY J.T.                                     31st Battery CFA

302702  Bomdr NUNN J.T.                                      31st Battery CFA

1250599  Gunner McCULLOCK G.                                       31st Battery CFA

 

During the past month the batteries of the Brigade have had a particularly strenuous time, during which 30,000 rounds were fired in minor operations and harassing fire. On account of the enemy’s offensive operations both to the north and south of us, a considerable amount of reconnaissance work has been done in our rear areas and Artillery Tracks have been built to facilitate the withdrawal of our guns over country which is not likely to be shelled in case of an enemy attack.  Lieut TEED of the 36th Battery has had charge of this work, which was completed at the end of this month.

 

 

Fred Coghlan Lieut-Colonel

Comd’g 9th Canadian Artillery Brigade.

 

 

 

 

MAY 1918

MAY 1918

Spring Offensive – Operation Blücher-Yorck

The Third Battle of the Aisne was launched on the 27th May 1918 that focused on capturing the Chemin des Dames Ridge. It was the third of series of offensives, known as the Kaiserchlacht, planned to defeat the Allies before the total American Expeditionary Force (AEF) arrived in France. The Germans were certain success at the Aisne would lead them to within striking distance of Paris. On the morning of the 27th May 1918 the Germans began a bombardment of the Allied line with over 4,000 artillery pieces. The British were the prime targets and suffered heavy losses. The French were reluctant to abandon the Chemins des Dames which had been captured at such a high cost the previous year. Following the bombardment was a poison gas drop, and once the gas had dispersed, the main infantry assault commenced. Taken completely by surprise and with their defences spread thinly, the Allies were unable to stop the attack and the German army advanced through a 40 km (25 mile)   gap in the Allied lines. Reaching the Aisne in under six hours, the Germans smashed through eight Allied divisions on a line between Reims and Soissons, pushing the Allies back to the River Vesle. On the 30th May 1918 victory seemed to be achievable but the Germans were beset by numerous problems, including supply shortages, fatigue, lack of reserves and many casualties. Following many successful Allied counter-attacks the Germans were halted at the Marne River on the 6th June1918.  Operation Blücher-Yorck ended the same way as Operations Michael and Georgette with the Germans overstretching their resources, and leaving them 56 km (35 miles) from Paris.

The Battle of Cantigny, fought on 28th May 1918 and was the first major American battle and offensive of the Great War. The U.S. 1st Division, was selected for the attack near the village of Cantigny, as the most experienced of the five American divisions then in France and in reserve for the French Army. The objective of the attack was to reduce a small salient made by the German Army in the front lines and also to instil confidence among the French and British Allies in the ability of the inexperienced American Expeditionary Force (AEF). At 06.45hours American soldiers of the 28th Infantry Regiment left their trenches following an hour long artillery preparation. A rolling barrage, advancing 100 metres every two minutes, was calculated to give the attacking troops time to keep up with the bombardment. The 28th Infantry Regiment plus two companies of the 18th Infantry, three machine-gun companies and a company of Engineers captured Cantigny from the German 18th Army. Because the Americans did not have sufficient support equipment the French supplied the necessary equipment. With this massive support and advancing on schedule behind the creeping barrage, the 28th, Infantry took the village in 30 minutes. The first German counter-attack at 08.30 was easily repulsed, but the Germans bombarded the 28th Infantry for most of the day. Large scale counter-attacks took place at 17.10 and 18.40 hours but again they were repulsed. A series of counter-attacks over the next two days were also defeated and the position held. The Americans sustained 1603 casualties, including over 300 killed in action, but significantly they captured 250 German prisoners. The American success at Cantigny assured the French that American divisions could be entrusted in the line against the German offensive to take Paris.

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The Caucasus

On the 21st May 1918, the Turkish Third Army crossed into Eastern Armenia. The Turkish Army intended to crush Armenia and seize Russian Transcaucasia and the oil wells of Baku. The German government objected to this attack and refused to assist the Turkish Army in the operation. In January 1918, two months after the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia, the highest government authority issued a decree which called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Caucasus Front. This move threw the Armenian leadership in the Transcaucasia into a panic, since it removed from the region the only force capable of protecting the Armenian people from the Turkish Empire, which had effectively exterminated its Armenian population. The Armenians refused to recognise the authority of the Bolsheviks and attempted to form military units to defend the front and the Turkish armies prepared to expand eastward. The Armenian victories at Saradarabad, Bash Abaran and Karakilisa, on the 29th May 1918, halted the Turkish invasion of Eastern Armenian and was instrumental in allowing the formation of the short-lived First Republic of Armenia.

The Battle of Sardarabad was fought from the 21st to 29th May 1918, and was the first of a three-pronged attack. The Armenian people managed to halt the Turkish advance thereby preventing the complete destruction of the Armenian nation. The Armenians viewed the Turkish offensive fearfully as they did not have anywhere to retreat, and the only option was to make a stand and prepare for the on-coming battle. Church bells rang for six days calling for all the citizens (men, women and children) to form into organised military units. Initially the Turkish army defeated an Armenian unit and took Sardarabad on the 21st May 1918. An Armenian offensive by the 5th Armenian Regiment checked the advance of the Turkish Army on the 22nd May 1918 and various Armenian flanking manoeuvres were employed whereby the Turkish forces sustained heavy losses. On the 29th May 1918, the Turkish commander ordered a general retreat after their forces had been put to flight.

The Battle of Bash Abaran began on the 21st May 1918 when the Turkish 3rd Regiment of the 11th Caucasian Division moved down from Hamamlu. This was the second of a three-pronged attack and after three days of fierce fighting the Armenians launched a counter-attack against the Turkish on the 25th May 1918. The Turkish forces then retreated north back to Hamamlu on the 29th May 1918.

The Battle of Karakilisa was fought from the 24th to 29th May 1918 and was the third of the three-pronged Turkish attack. The Turkish forces reached Karakilisa and massacred all its population of 4,000 citizens, but had no more forces to intrude further into Armenian territories. Under the general orders the Turkish army retreated back to Hamamlu. The Armenian victory at Karakilisa as well as at Sardarabad and Bash Abaran were instrumental in allowing the First Republic of Armenia to come into existence.

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Other Theatres

In the Balkans, the Treaty of Bucharest was a peace treaty, signed on the 7th May 1918, between Romania and the Central Powers. Romania was isolated after Russia withdrew from the war in March 1918 following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Romania was forced to accept harsh conditions, having to give Austro-Hungary control of the Carpathian Mountains, and to lease its oil wells to Germany for 90 years. Romania also relinquished two million tons of grain from Romanian farmers. These materials were vital in keeping Germany in the war to the end of 1918. German civil servants were given the power to veto decisions by the Romanian cabinet and to fire Romanian civil servants who had been appointed to oversee every Romanian ministry, in effect stripping Romania of its independence. The new German-sponsored Prime Minister Alexandru Marghiloman signed the treaty at Buftea, near Bucharest, on the 7th May 1918 and it was later ratified by the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. However, King Ferdinand I of Romania refused to sign it. The treaty put Romania in a unique situation compared to other German occupied countries. Though the country had to cede land it still emerged larger than before entering the war, thanks to the German recognition of the union with Bessarabia.

On the Eastern Front, the Battle of Kaniow took place during the night of the 10th/11th May 1918, between Polish and German troops. On the 15th February 1918 Poland protested against the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk which reduced the chances for the creation of an independent Poland. The II Brigade of the Polish Legions, formally part of the Austro-Hungarian Army, broke through the frontline near Raraneza and merged with the Polish units formally in the Russian Army. They were joined by the newly formed Polish II Corps in Russia. On the 18th April 1918 the II Corps was ordered by the Polish Regency Council to stop near Kaniow in the Ukraine, and in a triangle between Potik, Kozyn and Stepantsi. The Polish soon found themselves being surrounded by nearby German units. On the 6th May 1918 the German Commander issued an ultimatum to the II Corps, demanding it lay down its arms and surrender. II Corps readied for battle, and surprised the Germans who were unprepared for battle. Soon however Germany received reinforcements. On the night of the 10th to the 11th May 1918, Polish II Corps was surrounded and attacked by German units. Polish units formed on the village of Yemchykha and took up defensive positions. The II Corps resisted for a day, and both sides sustained losses. By the evening of the 11th May 1918 the Germans, who did not expect the Poles to put up such a resistance, proposed a ceasefire and negotiations. With supplies running low the Poles accepted the offer to negotiate, and eventually agreed to an honourable capitulation. The battle resulted in heavy losses for the Germans, estimated at about 1,500 dead and 273 wounded. Polish losses were estimated at about a few dozen killed and about 150 wounded. Half of the Polish survivors were arrested and sent to prisoner of war camps. An estimate suggests 4,000 imprisoned, and 1,500 to 2,000 managed to escape.

In the Balkans on the Macedonian front, the Battle of Skra-di-Legen was a two-day battle between the Allies and Bulgarian forces. The battle was fought from the 29th to 31st May 1918, and took place at the Skra fortified position, located northeast of Mount Paiko, which is northwest of Thessalonica. The battle was the first large-scale employment of Greek troops of the newly established Army of National Defence. The Allied force comprised three Greek divisions of the National Defence Army Corps plus on French brigade. In the early morning of the 29th May 1918, Greek artillery fired on the Bulgarian positions in preparation for the next morning’s assault. At 06.30 on the 30th May 1918, Allied forces captured Skra from the heavily outnumbered Bulgarians. Starting from the same evening until the 31st May 1918, the Bulgarian army launched several counter-attacks on the positions held by the Crete Division. All attacks were repelled, and resulted in the capture of the heavily fortified Bulgarian position, cementing the Allied victory. In the battle, 441 Allied soldiers were killed, 2,227 wounded and 164 missing in action. Bulgaria suffered 600 soldiers killed and 2,045 taken prisoner. Thirty two machine guns and twelve artillery pieces were also captured.

At the Western Front on the 30th May 1918, Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) driver Bertha “Betty” Stevenson was killed instantly by shrapnel from an enemy bomb. The bombs were dropped during a German air raid on Étaples YMCA encampment in the Pas-de-Calais region of France. She was in a party of women being moved to a safer area but they were caught out on the open road during the attack. Betty Stevenson was killed and two others were injured. She was buried with full military honours, at Étaples Military Cemetery even though she was a civilian attached to the YMCA section of the British Army. She was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guere avec Palme and it was presented by General Pétain, for courage and devotion to duty. Due to her pleasant demeanour she was known as The “Happy Warrior” and had served in the YMCA since 1916. At the time of her death she was 21 years of age. Over the course of her time in France she graduated from canteen volunteer to YMCA driver. She was responsible for transporting lectures, concert parties and especially relatives from England visiting the wounded in hospital.

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Timeline May 1918

Timeline May 1918

Spring Offensive – Operation Blücher-Yorck

27th May to 6th June       Third Battle of the Aisne

28th May                           Battle of Cantigny

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The Caucasus

21st May                          Turkish Army invades Armenia

21st to 29th May              Battle of Sardarabad

21st to 29th May              Battle of Abaran

24th to 29th May             Battle of Karakilisa

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Other Theatres

7th May                              Treaty of Bucharest

10th /11th May                Battle of Kaniow

29th to 31st May              Battle of Skra-di-Legen

30th May                           Death of YMCA driver Betty Stevenson

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