Letter to Father 1 September 1918

1/9/18

My dear Daddy,

 

The glorious first & a day of respite to the birds, at least to all except those that happen to come over “my field you know, Sir” at Breadsall.

 

I was glad to hear from you this morning after your return from Scotland.  180 was a pretty good bag, & you must have had good fun despite the weather.  I am glad you had a good time dad.  When do you go up again?  Are there plenty of birds this year?  From your p.c. I gathered that you might have a job to find any towards the end.

 

I was interrupted by our mess president coming into buy some pigs for the mess. We are going to keep some.  They are very profitable, & we have a lot of swill.

 

He is a droll Irishman who can speak French like a native. He isn’t fond of parting with the divs & madame is a hard bargainer too.  I sat & roared with laughter while they were at it.  It was awfully amusing.  He hasn’t bought the pigs yet.

 

The war is going well isn’t it? We haven’t seen the end of the scrapping yet in spite of the bad weather.

 

I shall be on the lookout for the grouse about next Thursday & then I shall invite a few to dinner & have a damned good feed. I think they will travel all right in this weather.

Well dad, I have no news

With very best love

Your loving son

Geoff.

 

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WAR DIARY of 9th CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE August 1918

CONFIDENTIAL

 

WAR DIARY of 9th CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE

 

From August 1st 1918 – To August 31st

 

 

 

FIEFFES    1.8.18       The Brigade arrived in Billeting Area about 4.00 a.m. and spent most of the day resting.  O.O. 152-2 was issued today giving details of brigade march from the present area to the SALEUX Area, the march to commence at 9.00 p.m.

BACQUEL

  • The Brigade marched through AMIENS to the SALEUX Area reaching their destination about 5.00 A.M. While passing through AMIENS the town was being shelled by enemy long range gun, causing casualties in the 10th Brigade CFA which were following the 9th Brigade CFA.  Rain fell throughout the day, causing considerable discomfort to the troops.  O. 152-3 was issued today with reference to the march to the new billeting area in BACQUEL. March started at 9.30 p.m. and arrived at their destination at about 11.00 p.m.  Rain still continues to fall.

 

3.8.18 Weather remains unsettled.  Our troops appear to have been the first British in this neighbourhood for a long time and everywhere received a warm welcome from the civilians.  Numerous French troops were billeted in the town with us.  The French troops, from their appearance, do not appear to lay the same stress on “spit and polish” parades as we do.  O.O. 152-4 was issued today with reference to the march of the brigade from present billeting area to the BOVES Area, commencing at 8.30 p.m.

 

 

BOVES WOOD 4.8.18      The Brigade marched into BOVES WOOD about 1.00 a.m.  The roads in the wood were a sea of mud and the brigade finally got into the wood and settled down before dawn, horses being tied between trees and the men sleeping under bivvies.  Details were sent forward from each battery to commence the hauling of ammunition to our forward dump.  A reconnaissance was made during the day of our battle positions and the attitude of the enemy was quiet.

 

  • Ammunition continues to be hauled, good progress being made, in spite of the heavy traffic on the roads during the hours of darkness. Days continue wet and foggy, which are ideal for the preparation of the coming offensive.

 

  • The batteries finished hauling ammunition last night. Operational Orders were received today with reference to the coming offensive.  Half the guns of the brigade are to be drawn in tonight and the other half tomorrow night.  Preparations are proceeding sm  A Headquarters Battle Position was chosen this afternoon on the AMIENS-ROYE Road 1000 yards East of GENTELLES WOOD.  Our troops are using the AMIENS-ROYE Road freely, in view of the enemy and were heavily shelled.

T.18.c.30.30

Nr GENTELLES

7.8.18          Further details of the attack came to light today.  The Canadian Corps attacking on the HANGARD-DOMART Front, our right boundary being the AMIENS-ROYE Road, supported by the French on the right and the Australian Corps on our left.  Our objectives, for the first time in the history of the Corps, are practically unlimited.  The barrage tables for artillery fire and final arrangements for the attack were issued today. Major Cosgrove, D.S.O. was detailed for Liaison Officer with the 42nd French Division.  Lieut R. Fleet, L.O. with the 8th Cdn Infy Bde.  Lieut Gall L.O. with P.P.C.L.I.  Lieut Longworth L.O. with 49th Battalion.  Lieut. Harrison, L.O. 42nd Battalion (See reports attached).  Lieut Manning, Brigade F.O.O.  Lieut Adams, Officer i/c communications for Brigade F.O.O.  Lieut MacGillivray, with 30 O.Rs detailed to put captured guns in action against the enemy (see report attached).  The remainder of the guns of the brigade were drawn in tonight.  All lines of communication were completed, tested, but remained silent until zero hour which is to be 4.20a.m. 8th instant.  The roads jammed with infantry going forward to jumping-off trenches and Tanks and cavalry moving to their forward positions continued until zero hour.

 

T.18.c.30.30.

8.8.18              The battle commenced at 4.20 a.m.  The barrage was well timed and was reported by out Forward Observing Officers as being remarkably good.  A few minutes later the tanks closely followed by our infantry pushed forward into the enemy’s lines.  Starting at a range of 2900 yards our guns carried forward a rolling barrage to 6500 yards, brigade ceasing fire at 8.20 AM where it remained in Divisional Reserve until 11,00 a.m. when word was received that our Infantry were still advancing and all was going well.  Brigade was then ordered to move forward to a position of readiness in the vicinity of DODO WOOD which a few hours previous had been in the enemy’s hands.  Long streams of German prisoners, some of which were carrying the first of our wounded, passed down the AMIENS-ROYE ROAD all day.  From DOMART forward French and British transport moved along the same road. Mounted patrols were then pushed forward, getting in touch with our Infantry, and the Brigade was moved forward, coming into action in the vicinity of MAISON BLANCHE to the left of the AMIENS-ROYE Road at 6.30 p.m., to support the 12th C.I.B. then attacking in front of BEAUCOURT.  While in action at this point, the 36th Battery C.F.A. was attacked by a hostile low-flying planes.  Lieut Manning and two O.Rs were wounded by M.G. fire.  Practically every machine gun in the brigade opened fire causing the E.A. to beat a hasty retreat. Many German captured guns were passed during the day’s advance.

MAISON BLANCHE BEAUCORT West of FOLIES

 

9.8.18              Lieut Inch, 31st Battery C.F.A., with section detailed to advance with and support the 4th C.Rs.  Lieut Philpott, 33rd Battery, with section detailed to advance with and support 5th C.Rs.  Our infantry which had been held up between BEAUCOURT and LE QUESNIL during the previous evening, had asked for artillery support, the guns of the brigade opening up on LE QUESNEL at 4.30 A.M.  The 4th Canadian Division then rushed and took the town after sharp fighting about 6.00 A.M.  The two advanced sections followed up with the Battalion Commanders and greatly assisted the advance of our Infantry.  Lieut Inch took up five positions during the day firing 138 rounds at close range.  Lieut Philpott’s report is attached.  About 9.00 A.M., the Brigade advanced again taking up a position on the western edge of BEAUCOURT, still supporting the 12th C.I.B. where it remained until 6.00 P.M.  BEAUCOURT and the AMIENS-ROYE ROAD were heavily shelled with 10.5 and 15cm.  The shelling appeared to have been a few guns working at a fast rate of fire.  About 10.00 a.m. our planes shot down an enemy balloon in flames in the vicinity of BEAUFORT.  The Brigade

advanced through LE QUESNIL and took up positions on the Western edge of FOLIES, coming into action at about 10.00 p.m. within 1500 yards of the enemy.  During the evening, enemy bombing planes were very active.  Enemy shelling during the night was light and scattered.

 

MAISON BLANCHE BEAUCORT West of FOLIES

10.8.18       Lieut. Adams, 45th Battery, with section detailed to advance with and support ARGYLLE & SUTHERLAND HIGHLANDERS.  Lieut. D.L. Teed, 36th Battery, with section detailed to advance with and support 5th Scottish Borderers.  Lieut. McKay, L.O. to 97th Brigade, 32nd Imperial Division.  Lieut O’Grady, L.O. to the 5th Scottish Borders.  Lieut Smith, L.O. to the Argylle & Sutherland Highlanders.  Captain Craig, L.O. the York Regiment.  The 32nd Imperial Division relieved the 3rd Canadian Division in the line, leap-frogging through our Infantry to the attack in the early morning, but were held up along the line by a stout German resistance.  The 36th Battery section took up a position in the vicinity of ROUVROY and the 45th Battery section just west of QUESNOY            where they did a considerable amount of firing at the request of the infantry, at excellent targets at short range, causing numerous casualties.  They were however, withdrawn at 4.00 p.m. when our Brigade came into Divisional Reserve.  During the night 10/11th the enemy’s bombing planes were extremely active, bombing and machine gunning our battery area.  About midnight a bomb lit in the vicinity of the 31st Battery killing Captain Bawden and wounding two O.Rs.

 

11.8.18       The Brigade remained in this position during the day.  Numerous mounted patrols were sent forward to get in touch with our Infantry and to clear up the situation.

West of FOLIES

 

  • The situation continues obscure, the 32nd Division still appears to be meeting with stubborn resistance and suffering many casualties.  Our brigade moved forward during the afternoon and came into action on the east of

East of FOLIES         FOLIES, supporting the 32nd Division in front of PARVILLERS.  Enemy bombing planes continue extremely active.  The enemy appears to be putting more artillery into the fight as his barrages are becoming quite heavy between QUESNOY and ROUVROY.

 

13.8.18     Our Infantry relieved the 32nd Division in front of PARVILLERS and DAMERY.  A Brigade O.P. was established on the forward slope between QUESNOY and PARVILLERS but was subject to shell fire so heavy that communications were very difficult and necessitated the establishing of four relay stations to maintain communication.

 

East of FOLIES

 

14.8.18 to 17.8.18       During this period heavy fighting continued around the village of PARVILLERS, which changed hands many times, the guns of the brigade being called upon to co-operate in these attacks.  The shooting was reported by the Infantry to have been very satisfactory and a great satisfaction to the gunners who have fired very little during the latter stages of the advance.  On the morning of the 17th our Infantry finally took PARVILLERS and DAMERY, pushing on beyond these villages, meeting with very little opposition until they reached the German defence line west of FRESNOY where the enemy evidently decided to make another stand.  The brigade was ordered out of action during the late afternoon and relieved the 1st Division.  The brigade marched to CAYEUX WOOD arriving about 6.00 p.m. where they remained in reserve.

 

18.8.18 to 19.8.18       The Brigade spent the time in resting and cleaning equipment.  Word was received on the afternoon of the 19th that the Brigade was to be ready to move at one hour’s notice.  The Brigade received orders to march to the CAMON Area near AMIENS, arriving in this area at 1.00 A.M.

CAMON & CANAPLES

20.8.18 to 21.8.18

Brigade remains in the CAMON AREA during the day where everyone enjoyed bathing in the SOMME

River. Brigade moved off at 9,00 p.m. marching to CANAPLES Area, arriving at 4.00 am. After a hard night’s march.  Remained in this area during the day, which was very hot.  The brigade pulled out of this area at 6.00 P.M. marching to REBREUVETTE Area, arriving shortly after midnight.

REBREUVETTE

22.8.18           Remained in this area during the day and marched to WANQUENTIN area arriving at 3.00 A.M.

WANQUENTIN

23.8.18            A reconnaissance was made of the forward area today.  The battery battle positions were selected in the vicinity of TULLOY in preparation for the coming offensive on this front.  Guns and ammunition were drawn into prepared camouflaged positions during the evening, about 2000 yards from the front line.

BERNVILLE

24.8.18         Preparation continues.  Brigade Wagon Line moved to BERNEVILLE.  During the afternoon we were notified that the offensive was postponed 24 hours.  The remainder of the ammunition was drawn to battle positions tonight.

 

BERVILLE

  • Final arrangements were made today. A Brigade O.P. was selected on TULLOY SPUR which is to be manned until we have captured ORANGE HILL.  Operational Orders were issued today at the Wagon Lines, in detail, for the coming attack, our first objective being MONCHY (RED Line);  second objective COJEUL RIVER (GREEN Line), third objective, CANAL DU NORD (BLUE Line).  The following officers were detailed for special tasks during the initial stages of the fight: Captain Scott, L.O. 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade –  Lieut Smith L.O. 5th Cdn Mtd Rifles.  Lieut Abbot-Smith L.O. 1stM.Rs.  Lieut Fleet Brigade O.P. –Lieuts Devine, O’Grady, McCarter and Gall, Officers Patrol, Lieut Fleet Forward Section 36th Battery, Lieut Adams, Forward Section of 45th Battery.

 

  • Zero Hour was 3.00am. The morning was showery with a few bright spells. The barrage opened fairly well Zero Hour and was reported very effective, stopping at 6.13 A.M.

 

The attack went well. Our troops were reported to have taken MONCHY at 7.35 AM.   Sharp fighting took place on both flanks of the Division.   At 10.00 AM. The 7th C.I.B. leap-frogged through the 8th C.I.B., the 42nd & R.C.R. on the Right, P.P.C.L.I. in the centre and the 49th Bn refusing our flank on the banks of the SCARPE.  Our Infantry encountered heavy fighting through the old trench systems beyond MONCHY.  The 2nd Division held up causing our RIGHT Flank considerable trouble.  The P.P.C.L.I. took JIGSAW Wood close to schedule time, pushing through to BOIS de SART, but were unable to advance further owing to both our flanks being badly disposed.  At dusk our lines was withdrawn to position west of BOIS du SART on our Right flank drawing back to join up with the 2nd Cdn Division.  During the afternoon the 51st Scottish Division, North of the SCARPE were observed to advance under an artillery barrage thereby considerably relieving the pressure from

ORANGE HILL        the North.  About noon the Brigade moved forward to a position of readiness on the rear slope of ORANGE HILL, batteries pushing forward, forward sections which did excellent work during the day, in the vicinity of JIGSAW WOOD, where our F.O.Os reported roads blocked with enemy traffic, 33rd Battery firing 400 rounds observed fire on the retreating enemy.  (See attached reports)

 

  • Following officers with their sections were detailed to advance in close support of the Infantry. Gall – Mason – Kington and Fleet. (See attached report).  At 4.55 a.m. the Brigade put down a barrage in front of our Infantry which were advancing beyond MONCHY.  The infantry gained their objectives and the Brigade moved forward to positions reconnoitered in the vicinity of the CAVES at LA FOSSE FARM.

 

 

LA FOSSE FARM

28.8.18            Lieut Inch, 31st Battery, detailed for Liaison Officer to 42nd Canadian Battalion.  At 11.00 A.M. our guns put down a rolling barrage in support of the 9th C,I,B, who attacked and captured BOIRY and ARTILLERY HILL.  (See 58 Battalion report)At 12.30 P.M. the brigade again put down a barrage in support of the 8th C.I.B. who attacked and captured REMY and 70 RIDGE.  The brigade pushed forward to position reconnoitered in proximity of BOIS du VERT.  Lieut Abbot-Smith and 5 O.Rs were wounded.

KNIFE TR

Nr CAVALRY FARM.

29.8.18            The Brigade remained in Divisional Reserve, Lieuts O’Grady, Longworth and Kingston going ahead with forward sections.  Lieut, Kingston, 45th Battery and the 33rd Battery, firing several hundred rounds with German captured guns.

 

30.8.18            The 3rd Canadian Division was relieved by the 4th Imperial Division.  Lieut Harrison detailed as Liaison Officer to the HAMPSHIRES (4th British Division).  At 3.45 A.M. the brigade put on a concentrated shoot on ENTERPIGNY.  At 4.00 P.M. a creeping barrage was put down by the guns of the brigade in support of the Infantry who attacked and took ENTERPIGNY pushing outposts beyond the Town.  The barrage was reported to be both good and effective, all objectives being taken.  Casualties were light.  The 33rd and 45th Batteries moved guns to COJEUL RIVER, and did excellent work in support of the attack beyond HAUCOURT, the remainder of the brigade moving forward at 6.00 p.m.  Brigade Headquarters occupying a dugout in the vicinity of BOIRY.  Enemy long range guns were very active enfilading in the vicinity of our battery positions from the north of the SCARPE.

 

31.8.18            The batteries dug in and continued drawing ammunition to the gun position.  Enemy’s attitude quiet and nervous.

 

Major

A/C.O. 9th Canadian Artillery Brigade

WAR DIARY of 20 Siege Battery for August 1918

 

WAR DIARY of 20 Siege Battery for August 1918

 

Place       Date    Hour                                                Summary of Events and Information

In the field Aug                     The officers remained the same as mentioned in last month’s diary.

2 6 p.m.             Command of Battery positions at LABOURSE, MAZINGARBE and near MINX passed from 193 S.B. to 20 S.B. the change taking place in situ under G.R.O. 3202.  Mk VII Hows were taken over.  (OPERATION Order No 187 I Corps H.A. Bde Ref 11/148 29.7.18)

Position of Guns L.2.b.30.49   2 guns

L9.d.14.14    2 guns

K.6.b.93.16.  1 gun.  1 gun in workshops

3                      Lt F.W. Davis departed for leave to UK.

4                                  Lt. H.E. MELLS posted to Battery on transfer from R.F.A. to R.G.A. (previously attached to Battery)

8 8p.m.            Position at K.6.b.93.16 vacated and two guns placed in position at E.18.d.55.38 and ready for action in accordance with verbal orders received at 8 p.m. (To ** ** on suspected retirement from MERVILLE Salient).

9 10 a.m.        Guns in new position ready for action with 420 rds.

9                      One gun at L.9.d.14.14 removed to workshops.

10                    Lt. LOACH & 2nd Lt. Davies reported back from courses.

14                    Major THOMPSON arrived back from leave to UK.

15th                              Bomb dropped in ammunition lorry at LABOURSE position when unloading Lorry & 130 ctgs destroyed.

Casualties 6 OR wounded (Gnr CHAMBERS later died of wounds).   Position shelled by 8” How while fire continued to them Pte. GLOVER A.S.C. 20 S.B. awarded M.M by G.OC. I Corps for gallantry & devotion to duty on this occasion.

21st                  CPL HARGRIEVES & 3 O.R. to Hospital, wounded from L.9.d position (shelling by 5.9” Guns)

Section withdrawn from E.18.d.55.38 to provide silent position at K.6.b.93.16

26th      Guns of 193 S.B. (MVII) exchanged for guns of 20 S.B. (Mk VI) in position of former.

 

 

General Summary for August 1918

Personnel Officers – unchanged throughout month, with exception that Lt. H.E. WELLS is posted from RFA attached.

Casualties  1 O.R died of wounds: 9 O.R. wounded.

Tactical Positions occupied 4

Rounds fired (approx) Counter Battery 5739 Other shooting 240 Total 5970

C.B. Destruction shoots Successful 32       Results in ranging 50K 102% 235%

Unsuccessful 1

Other shooting   Registration & *** inf

(Section in Sandpit near BEUVRY fired in Batteries in T & S square (NW of LA BASSEE)

Section in LABOURSE on hostile batteries near SALOME & LA BASSEE. Southern section on DOUVRIN.

 

 

September 1918

September 1918

The Hundred Days Offensive

The Battle of Mont St. Quentin and Peronne began on the 31st August 1918. The Australian Second Division moved toward the Mont and by taking a position on the high ground which overlooked Mont St. Quentin. The first Australian attack was not successful, but on the 1st September 1918 they took the summit at the second attempt and by the 2nd September 1918 they had captured the village of Mont St. Quentin. Having gained control of Mont St. Quentin the Australians moved toward the woods north of Peronne where they took part of the town. By the 2nd September 1918 the Australians had gained substantial ground and by the 3rd September 1918 Peronne was held in Australian hands.

The Battle of Drocourt-Quéant Line began at 5.00 am on the morning of the 2nd September 1918 when British and Canadian forces attacked and were supported by tanks and aircraft. In the half-light, the Canadian First Division attacked the line south of the Arras-Cambrai road. The Canadian Fourth Division attacked the central area and the British Fourth Division attacked south of the River Sensee. On the 3rd September 1918 the Germans retreated to the Hindenburg Line and the Allies took many prisoners. The Canadian and British troops were moved on to their next battle which was the Canal du Nord.

The Battle of Havrincourt was launched on the 12th September 1918 and was a successful attack on the fortified town of Havrincourt by the British Third Army with three divisions against four German divisions.

The Battle of St. Mihiel was fought from the 12th to 19th September 1918 and was the first large-scale, separate offensive by American forces on the Western Front. By late summer 1918 the importance of the salient south of Verdun was not as prominent as it was in 1917, when the newly landed American Staff officers arrived on the Western Front. Their desire at the time was to carry out a separate offensive by American troops against the danger posed by this salient. Foch had to be convinced it was relevant to make the attack. He finally agreed. The German forces were in the process of evacuating the salient when the American First Army attacked them. They were supported by French tanks and artillery and 600 Allied aircraft. The offensive successfully cleared the Germans from the salient and 15,000 German prisoners were captured along with 250 guns. A few days later the American First Army transferred to the Meuse-Argonne sector in preparation for another attack.

On the 18th September 1918, following the success at Havrincourt, the Battle of Epéhy was launched by three corps of the British Fourth Army, one corps of the British Third Army and units of the French First Army against a 32 km (20 mile) section of the outpost positions of the Hindenburg Line. The left and right wings of the advance progressed with difficulty, but the two Australian divisions in the centre were successful in achieving an advance of 4.8 km (3 miles). The success of this attack showed the Allies that the German defence, even in the fortified Hindenburg Line positions, were not impossible to break through.

……………

The Battle of the Hindenburg Line was a series of assaults whereby the Allies broke through the German lines and was fought from the 18th September to 17th October 1918.

……………

 

The Battle of the Canal du Nord was fought from 27th September to 1st October 1918 and took place against a section of the canal and the outskirts of Cambrai. The British First Army crossed the canal continuing their advance following on from the Battle of the Drocourt-Quéant Line and advance towards Cambrai.

The Battle of St. Quentin Canal, fought from the 29th September to 10th October 1918, was an attack launched by the U.S., French and British forces. A stretch of this canal was incorporated into the German defences of the Hindenburg Line. The Germans defences comprised barbed wire entanglements and traps and the canal that ran through a tunnel at Bellicourt and under a bridge at Bellenglise. The British and French had reached the canal sector in mid-September 1918, and were tasked with crossing the canal at the tunnel section or by the bridge. On the 29th September 1918, in advance of the main attack an attempt by a U.S. regiment to clear the German strongpoints at Bellicourt did not succeed. The main attack, later the same day, by the U.S. and Australian troops also did not make progress through the Hindenburg Line at Bellicourt. On the same day however, an attack by the British at Bellenglise did succeed when they crossed the bridge before the Germans could blow it up. Following the Allied crossing of the canal they  advanced about 9.6 km (6 miles) beyond the canal by the end of the day. Over 5.000 German prisoners were captured.

In Flanders the Fifth Battle of Ypres was undertaken when the Groupe d’Armees des Flandres (GAF) attacked at 5.30 am on the 28th September 1918, which consisted of twelve Belgian divisions, ten British divisions of the Second Army and six French divisions of the Sixth Army. In command was King Albert I of Belgium with the French General Jean Degoutte as Chief of Staff.  The British attacked without preliminary bombardment on a 7.2 km (4.5 mile) front up to the Ypres-Zonnebeke road, thence the Belgian army attacked on a line north of Dixmude. The Allied attacks quickly penetrated the German defences and advanced up to 9.7 km (6 miles). The German defence was conducted by fewer than five divisions which were swiftly driven back. Much of the ground west of Passchendaele was recaptured. Rain began to fall but the British had taken Kortewilde, Zandvoorde, Kruiseecke and Beccelaere. Belgian troops had captured Zonnebeke, Poelcappelle, Schaap Baillie and the Houthulst Forest. On the southern flank, minor operations by three British divisions advanced to St. Yves, Messines and the ridge from Wytschaete to Hollebeke. Messines fell on the 29th September 1918 and by the 30th September 1918, all the high ground around Ypres had been re-occupied by the Allies. By the 1st October 1918 the left bank of the Lys had been captured up to Comines and the Belgians were beyond a line from Moorslede to Staden and Dixmude. The advance continued until the 2nd October 1918, when German reinforcements arrived and the offensive outran its supplies.

……..………

From the 26th September to 11th November 1918, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive was an Allied offensive against the German Armies. The aim was to push the Germans further east from the Hindenburg Line, cutting them off from their important rail routes supplying their front line sectors. The Allied attack comprised a total 37 French and U.S. divisions against 24 German divisions.  Marshall Ferdinand Foch, commander of the Allied forces on the Western Front, wished to use the American forces for an assault west of Verdun in the Meuse-Argonne sector.

……………….

 

At 5.30 am on the 26th September 1918 the American Army attacked, alongside the French, in the area around the Argonne Forest north and northwest of the town of Verdun. Using artillery supplied by the Allies, the bombardment began 3 hours before the attack, and consequently expended more ammunition than both sides had fired in the 4 years of the American Civil War. The American troops had mixed results against strong German opposition. Initially the Americans failed to take their objectives but eventually managed to advance 3 to 8 km (2 to 5 miles) by the 3rd October 1918. In the same period the French penetrated deeply into the German lines advancing 15 km (9 miles). This was primarily around Somme-Py at the Battle of Somme-Py on the 26th September 1918, and northwest of Reims at the Battle Saint-Thierry on the 30th September 1918. The French were able to advance faster than the Americans owing to the easier more open terrain from which to attack.

———————–

The Balkans

The Vardar Offensive was fought between the 15th and 29th September 1918. This decisive battle took place during the final stages of the Balkan Campaign. On the 15th September 1918, a combined force of Serbian, French and Greek troops attacked and captured the Bulgarian-held trenches at Dobro-Polje (formerly part of Serbia, now Macedonia). The assault and the preceding artillery preparations had devastating effects on Bulgarian morale, leading to mass desertion and the eventual signing of an armistice on the 30th September 1918.

…………….

The Allied offensive began on the 15th September 1918. The first attack was by the French and Serbians, with the Serbs in the middle of the front. The Serbians were finally back in their own country when they broke through the Bulgarian lines at Dobro Polje. The British joined in on the right on the 18th – 19th September 1918 during the Third Battle of Doiran. The Bulgarians resisted for a few days, but on the 25th September 1918, they began to fall back. On the 25th September 1918 the Allied advance reached the River Vardar, the next day the British reached Strumitza. That day the Bulgarians began armistice negotiations. On the 28th September 1918 the Bulgarians agreed surrender terms, which came into effect on the 30th September 1918 when they signed an armistice with the Allies. The Bulgarians were the first of the Central Powers to surrender.

…………….

Flora Sandes, the English lady who fought with the Serbian Army in the trenches, marched triumphantly back into Serbia. She had endured the retreat from Serbia, being severely wounded and finally back on her adopted home soil. She remained with the Serbian Army until 1922 and had been promoted to Lieutenant when she became the first woman in the Serbian Army to become an officer. In 1956 after a full and varied life she died in Ipswich Hospital, aged 80 years old, still planning to travel.

———————–

The Middle East

In the Caucasus the Battle of Baku had begun on the 26th August 1918 between the Turkish-Azerbaijan and British-Armenian-White Russian forces, and the Allies were forced to defend the heights surrounding Baku. From the 1st to 13th September 1918 the Turkish Army did not attack, but 0n the 12th September 1918, an Arab officer from the Turkish 10th Division deserted, giving information suggesting their main assault would take place the 14th September 1918.  On the night of 13th to 14th September 1918, the Turkish forces began their attacks. The Turks nearly overran the strategic Wolf’s Gate west of Baku, from which the whole battlefield could be seen. However, their advance was halted by a counter-attack. The fighting continued for the rest of the day, and the situation eventually became hopeless for the Allies. By the night of the 14th September 1918, the remnants of the British and Baku Army evacuated the city for Anjali.

……………

The Battle of Megiddo was fought between the 19th and 25th September 1918 on the Plain of Sharon, in the Judean Hills and also on the Esdralon Plain at Nazareth. The battle was the final Allied offensive of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign. The contending forces were the Allied Egyptian Expeditionary Force (AEEF) and the Turkish Yildrim Army Group. A series of battles took place in what was then the central and northern sections of the Turkish held Palestine and parts of present day Israel, Syria and Jordan.

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The campaign has been called the Battle of Megiddo which was Hebrew name of the ancient town known in the west as Armageddon. The offensive consisted of the battles of Megiddo, Sharon, Nazareth and the Third Transjordan attack, fought from the 19th to 25th September 1918. As the dry season approached General Edmund Allenby, commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF), intended to advance to secure Tiberius, Haifa and the Yarmuk Valley toward Hauran, the Sea of Galilee from the 19th to 25th September 1918, and Damascus on the 26th September 1918. Allenby launched his long-delayed attack on the 19th September 1918. Major efforts were made by the British to deceive the Turkish forces as to their intended target. The effort was successful and the Turkish Army was taken by surprise when the British suddenly attacked Megiddo at Nablus and broke through the Turkish defensive lines. As the Turkish troops started a full-scale retreat the Royal Air Force (RAF) bombed the fleeing columns of men and within a week the Turkish Army in Palestine ceased to exist as a military force. The war in Palestine was over, but the EEF’s ultimate goal was Damascus in Syria. Two separate Allied columns marched toward Damascus from the 26th September 1918. The first, comprising mostly Australian and Indian cavalry, approached from Galilee whilst the second column, consisting of Indian cavalry supported by T.E.Lawrence’s militia (Lawrence of Arabia), travelled northward along the Hejaz Railway. The Australian Light Horse marched unopposed into Damascus on the 1st October 1918 despite the presence of 12,000 Turkish soldiers. Major Olden of the Australian Third Light Horse Regiment took the official surrender of the city at 7.00 am, and later that day Lawrence’s irregular militia entered Damascus.

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Timetable September 1918

Timetable September 1918

Hundred Days Offensive

1st to 2nd Sept                   Battle of Mont St. Quentin and Peronne

2nd to 3rd Sept                   Battle of Drocourt-Queant Line

12th Sept                            Battle of Havrincourt

12th to 19th Sept                 Battle of Saint-Mihiel

18th Sept                            Battle of Epéhy

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18th Sept to 17th Oct       Battle of the Hindenburg Line

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27th Sept to 1st Oct            Battle of the Canal du Nord

29th Sept to 10th Oct         Battle of St. Quentin Canal

 

28th Sept to 2nd Oct            Fifth Battle of Ypres

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26th Sept to 11th Nov        The Meuse-Argonne Offensive

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26th Sept                              Battle of Somme-Py

30th Sept                               Battle of Saint-Thierry

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The Balkans

14th to 29th Sept                 Vardar Offensive

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15th Sept                            The Allies break through the Bulgarian lines at Dobro Polje

18th to 19th Sept                 Third Battle of Doiran

30th Sept                            Bulgaria signs an armistice with the Allies

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September                       Flora Sandes marches back into Serbia

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The Middle East

1st to 14th Sept                   Battle of Baku

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19th to 25th Sept                  Battle of Megiddo (Armageddon)

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19th to 25th Sept                 Battle of Hauran

19th to 25th Sept                 Battle of Nablus

19th to 25th Sept                 Allied advance to the Sea of Galilee

19th to 25th Sept                  Battle of Sharon

19th to 25th Sept                 Third Transjordan attack

20th to 21st Sept                  Battle of Nazareth

23rd to 25th Sept                The British capture Tiberius

23rd to 25th Sept                  Battle of Haifa

26th Sept to 1st Oct            The British enter and capture Damascus

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