First World War Project
Home News - October 1918
The End Game - the One Hundred Day Allied Offensive Presses the Advantage
The situation for German forces was desperate. The battle-lines had stretched to breaking-point.
With more motion along the Front, the transcribed record in the Army and Navy Gazette became much longer. This was reflected in more optimistic national and local newspaper coverage.
Parliament was in recess - 8th August to 15th October.
"The Army and Navy Gazette" summarised events on the British (Western) Front.
Western (British) Front reported on 5 October 1918
[Battles of the Hindenburg Line began on 12th September; lasting through to the 9th of October]
British infantry and tanks on October 3 (Thursday) attacked on a front of about eight miles from Sequehart to the canal north of Bony. The British took a large number of prisoners in the course of the operations. The attack was successful at all points. Armentières, La Bassee, and Lens have been evacuated by the enemy.
Portions of the British First an Third Armies, under the command respectively of Gen. Sir H.S. Horne and Gen. the Hon. Sir J.H.G. Byng, attacked on September 27 on a wide front in the general direction of Cambrai. Notwithstanding the great strength of the enemy's positions, all objectives were reached. Further north the 5th Division captured Beaucamp, and, with the 42nd Division, cleared the Beaucamp Ridge, which runs north-eastwards towards Marcoing. In the right centre the Guards and 3rd Division of the 6th Corps, under the command of Lieut.-Gen. Sir J.A.L. Haldane, breaking through the enemy's defences east of Havrincourt, carried the village of Flesquières and gained possession of the long spur which runs eastwards from that village towards Marcoing. On their left Scottish and naval units of the 17th Corps, having stormed the line of the Canal du Nord east and an south-east of Mœuvres, were at first checked by the defences of Graincourt. Outflanking this village from the north they seized Anneux, and having passed through the 57th Division, the whole corps front was carried forward. The village of Graincourt was captured, and the British advance continued to Cantaing and Fontaine-Notre-Dame.
In the left centre the Canadian Corps, under the command of Lieut. Gen. Sir A.W. Currie, attacking with the 1st, 3rd and 4th Canadian Divisions, forced the passage of the Canal du Nord and captured the villages of Sains-lez-Marquion and Bourlon, together with the wooded heights of Bourlon Hill. Pressing on beyond this line, with the assistance of the 11th (English) Division, they made substantial progress towards Raillencourt and Haynecourt. The British deep advance astride the Arras-Cambrai road was greatly assisted by the close co-operation of the 22nd Corps, under the command of Lieut.-Gen. Sir A.J. Godley. South and north of the Sensee and Scarpe rivers the 56th (London) Division of his corps crossed the Canal du Nord and, attacking northwards, captured Sauchy-Lestre and Sauchy-Cauchy. North of the River Scarpe, on the extreme left, English and Scottish troops completed the capture of Arleux-en-Gohelle, and the German trench system in the vicinity of that village. Complete success was achieved at relatively small cost.
The operations were materially helped by the admirable work of the Engineers. In less than four hours from the opening of the assault, and in spite of hostile shell fire, they successfully threw across the Canal du Nord a number of bridges capable of carrying transport, thus permitting the British advance to be continued without check. The 5th and 42nd Divisions overcame the resistance of the enemy at Beaucamp Ridge and pressed forward two miles beyond it, capturing the highly organised defensive positions known as Highland and Welsh Ridges and capturing Gouceaucourt. The 62nd Division captured Marcoing and made progress to the south-east of it. The 5th Bn. Duke of Wellington's Regiment forced the crossings of the Canal de l'Escaut at Marcoing and established itself in the German defences on the east bank. North of this point the 2nd Division and the 57th Division cleared the west bank of the canal as far north as La Folie Wood and captured Noyelles-sur-Escaut, Cantaing and Fontaine-Notre-Dame. The Canadian troops gained possession of Raillencourt and of the adjoining village of Sailly, together with the trench system running through these villages. Further north men of the 56th (London) Division entered Palleul.
Early on September 29 the battle was successfully developed southwards to the neighbourhood of St. Quentin, an extended over a front of nearly 30 miles from that town to the Sensee River north of Cambrai. On the extreme right the 20th Corps launched an attack at 5.50 a.m. across the Scheldt Canal from Bellenglise inclusive northwards. The 46th Division, provided with lifebelts, mats, portable bridging material, and rafts, and under cover of concentrated artillery and machine-gun fire, stormed the main Hindenburg defences, which here run along the eastern bank of the canal. Notwithstanding the depth of the water, the breadth of the canal, and the strength of the enemy's defences, which include the village of Bellenglise and numerous tunnels and concrete works, the men of this division succeeded in capturing the whole of the German position opposed to them. They then pressed forward up the slopes of the hills beyond the canal, taking many prisoners in the course of their advance and capturing Bellenglise, Le Haucourt, and Magny-la-Fosses. In conjunction with this brilliant operation other British troops advanced in the bend of the canal to the south of Bellenglise, covering the southern flank of the 46th Division.
In the centre of the British attack English troops captured Villers Guislain. New Zealand troops cleared the Welsh Ridge, breaking up a hostile counter-attack, and, pushing on, captured La Vacquerie and the spur leading from Bonavis to Masnières. Meanwhile the 62nd Division, having secured the crossings of the Scheldt Canal, continued their advance. After fighting on the western outskirts of Masnières and Les Rues Vertes, they captured both these villages and carried the defensive system covering Rumilly, reaching the western outskirts of this latter village. On their left the 2nd Division crossed the Canal about Noyelles and advanced over one and a half miles up the rising ground to the east of the canal line. The 63rd Naval Division having forced a passage east of Cantaing reached the southern outskirts of Cambrai. On the left of the attack Canadian troops passed through the defensive system covering Cambrai, on the north-west, and fought their way forward into the outskirts of the town. Farther north they captured Sancourt, where heavy German counter-attacks were beaten off, an English troops cleared the slopes south of the Canal de Sensee. During three days over 22,000 prisoners and 300 guns were captured by the British on the St. Quentin-Cambrai battle front. In the British operations north of St. Quentin the 46th Division alone captured 4,000 prisoners and some 40 guns. In this sector, between Bellicourt and Gonnelieu, the enemy's resistance was obstinate. There was heavy fighting until late in the evening, but in spite of strong opposition ground was gained and many prisoners were taken. At Bony an at Villers Guislain hostile counter-attacks during the latter part of the day succeeded in pressing back the British slightly to the western outskirts of those villages. Elsewhere the British maintained their gains, and to the north of Gonnelieu made further progress in the direction of Le Rue des Bignes. Heavy fighting took place on the left of the battle front, and British advanced troops, who had taken Aubencheul-au-Bac and entered Arleux, were compelled to withdraw from those villages. West and north-west of Cambrai the enemy was unable to prevent the progress of the British, whose advanced detachments reached the junction of the Arras-Cambrai and Bapaume-Cambrai rods and entered the northern suburbs of the town. Heavy losses were inflicted on the enemy in the repulse of determined counter-attacks launched by him in this sector.
In spite of unfavourable weather and strong hostile resistance important progress was made on September 30 on the St. Quentin-Cambrai battle front. The 1st Division south of Bellenglise resumed its attack and gained the high ground about Thorigny, capturing that village and the east end of the canal tunnel at le Tronquoy, taking many prisoners. Here it joined with troops of the 32nd Division, who during the night had carried the defences of the tunnel on the eastern side and had captured Le Tronquoy village. Continuing its advance this latter division made progress on the high ground north-east of Le Tronquoy and east of Nauroy. On the left of the English troops Australians attacked northwards along the spurs leading from Nauroy to Gouy. Pressing their advance with great determination astride the Hindenburg system they overcame the resistance of strong forces of the enemy and captured the greater part of the high ground south of Gouy, with many prisoners. Further north English troops recaptured Villers Guislain, together with the spur to the south-east of the latter village. They also took Gonnelieu and reached the Scheldt Canal along their front from Vendhuile northwards. New Zealand troops north as Crevecoeur. English troops had hard fighting about Rumilly and to the north of that village, but made progress and established themselves along the Rumilly-Cambrai road.
After maintaining strong pressure on the enemy throughout the earlier part of October 1 the troops of the 32nd Division successfully attacked the centre of the German defensive line, which runs from Fonsomme to the neighbourhood of Beaurevoir. The village of Sequehart and the hamlet of Presselles were captured and the Fonsomme-Beaurevoit line was breached.
Western (British) Front reported on 12 October 1918
Western (Anglo-American) Front
The British advance was resumed on October 10 on the whole battle front. At all points rapid progress was made in spite of the efforts of the enemy's rearguards. The British entered Vaux-Andigny, and north of that place reached the line of the Selle River from St. Souplet to the neighbourhood of Solesmes, and captured Le Cateau.
At the close of the fighting on October 3 the British held the high ground one mile north-east of Sequehart, and had successfully beaten off the enemy's counter-attacks at Gouy and Le Catelet. A second hostile counter-attack at Sequehart had also be repulsed. The number of prisoners captured by the British in these operations north of St. Quentin exceeded 4,000. North of the Scarpe the British made progress between Oppy and Mericourt, and further north their advanced troops had reached the railway east of Lens and the general line Vendin-le-Vieil, Wingles, Berclau, Fournes-en-Weppes, Houplines. In successful minor operations on October 4 north of St. Quentin the British made substantial progress south-east of Beaurevoir and north of Gouy and Le Catelet, capturing over 800 prisoners.
The British on October 5 made progress in the neighbourhood of the villages of Montbrehain and Beaurevoir and on the spur north-west of the latter village. Over 1,000 prisoners were captured during these operations. As the result of the continued pressure of the British along the whole front the enemy began to withdraw from the high ground known as La Terrière Plateau, in the bend of the Canal de l'Escaut, between Le Catelet and Crevecoeur. Driving in the German covering detachments, the British gained possession of La Terrière and the second of the Hindenburg system in this neighbourhood. The enemy was burning Douai. Stubborn fighting took place all day, both at Montgrehain and Beaurevoir. Having captured the former village early in the morning, together with some 500 prisoners, the Australian troops concerned were severely counter-attacked. Throughout the remainder of the day the enemy made repeated attempts with reserves to regain the village. All his attempts were repulsed, and in the course of the fighting heavy losses were inflicted on his troops, British tanks doing great execution among the German infantry. The village remained in the hands of the British.
Possession of Beaurevoir was also fiercely disputed, and remained long in doubt. The enemy had been strongly reinforced, and spared no effort to retain the village. After making progress during the day by hard fighting, English troops again attacked in the evening, and carried the village, establishing their line firmly to the east and north-east of it. To the north of Beaurevoir the British gained possession of Aubencheul-aux-Bois, and were established on the high ground running northwards towards Lesdins, taking some 400 prisoners. North of the Scarpe the British gained possession of Fresnoy and were established on the eastern outskirts of the village on October 6. In successful local operations on October 7 the British advanced their line on a front of about four miles north of the Scarpe River, capturing the villages of Biache, St. Vaast, and Oppy, with over 100 prisoners and a number of machine-guns.
Early in the morning of October 8 the Third and Fourth Armies attacked on a front of about 20 miles between St. Quentin and Cambrai, an advanced along the whole of this front to an average depth of about three miles. The operations from the first were completely successful. On the extreme right of the British attack the Sixth Division and troops of another English Division drove the enemy from the ridge of high ground south-east and east of Montbrehain, and captured the hamlet of Beauregard. In the right centre the 30th American Division, under the command of General Lewis, captured Brancourt, and farther to the north-east took Premont, completing a successful advance of over three miles. On their left the British made equal progress, and captured the village of Servain early in the day. In the centre the British broke through the German defence system known as the Beaurevoir-Masnières line, and captured Malincourt and the trench line west of Walincourt.
Stiff resistance was met with from the enemy in Villers-Outreaux, of which the British finally gained possession. In the left centre the 37th and new Zealand Divisions broke through the Beaurevoir-Masnières line and made deep progress to the east of it. New Zealand troops stormed Leslain, and pressing onwards carried Esnes. On the left of the attack the 2nd, 3rd, and 63rd Divisions had hard fighting about Seranvillers and Niergnies, and along the line of the Esnes-Cambrai road. In this sector the enemy counter-attacked strongly, using tanks to support his infantry. After pressing back our troops for a short distance, the counter-attack was stopped, the enemy's tanks being put out of action. The British gained possession of Sernavillers and Niergnies, and resumed their advance. North of the Scarpe the British completed the capture of the German trench system known as the Fresnes-Rouvroy line from the Scarpe to beyond Oppy, and took Fresnes-lez-Montauban and Neuvireuil.
Canadian troops attacked north of Cambrai and subsequently the town was entered. Ramillies was captured, and the crossings of the Canal de l'Escaut secured in the neighbourhood of that village. The British inflicted a heavy defeat on the enemy between St. Quentin and Cambrai, taking over 10,000 prisoners and nearly 200 guns. No less than 23 German divisions were engaged on this front and severely handled.
Since August 21 the British First, Third and Fourth Armies have broken through the whole elaborate series of deep defensive zones built up of successive belts of heavily fortified trench lines, and including the entire Hindenburg system, on a front of over 35 miles from St. Quentin to Arras. Having penetrated this battle area to a depth of between 30 and 40 miles, the British are now operating far beyond and to the east of the Hindenburg defences. In the process of these operations, and since the date mentioned, the British have captured over 110,000 prisoners and 1,200 guns.
Western (British) Front reported on 19 October 1918
The British and Americans on October 17 (Thursday) attacked on a front of about nine miles north-east of Bohain. Strong opposition was met with on the whole front, and there was heavy fighting throughout the day. On the right the British attacking is close co-operation with the French north of the Oise advanced to a depth of over two miles across the high wooded ground east of Bohain, and captured Andigny-les-Fermes. Farther north they carried the line of the Selle River on the whole front south of Le Cateau, and made progress on the high ground to the east of the river, capturing the villages of La Vallee Mulatre and L'Arbre de Guise. On the left flank of their attack the British cleared the eastern portion of Le Cateau and established themselves on the line of the railway beyond the town. The enemy was holding his positions in force, seven German divisions being disposed on the front of the British attack, and in the course of the day's fighting delivered a number of determined counter-attacks. These were in all cases repulsed and heavy losses inflicted on the enemy. Over 3,000 prisoners were taken by the British in these operations. Threatened by the continued progress of the Allied attacks south of the Sensée and north of the Lys, the enemy hastened his retreat from the salient at Douai and Lille. The British entered the town of Douai, having broken the resistance of the enemy's rear-guards on the line of the Haute Deule Canal. Troops of the Fifth British Army, under the command of General Birdwood, having pressed the enemy's rear-guards back with great determination for many weeks past, encircled and captured the town of Lille.
Following upon the British advance south of the River Sensée on October 11, the enemy was hastening his withdrawal from the strongly fortified positions held by him north of that river. The British drove the enemy's rear-guards from the northern portion of the Drocourt-Queant line between the Scarpe River and Quiery la Motte, and captured the villages of Sailly-en-Ostrevent, Vitry-en-Artois, Izel-lez-Equerchin, Drocourt, and Fouquieres. The British, whose advance north of the Sensée River was continued in the evening, captured the villages of Hamel, Brebieres, and Cuincy. The British, who were east of Henin-Lietard, were on the western outskirts of Annay. Local fighting took place on Oct.12 along the line of the Selle River between Le Cateau and Solesmes, and north-west of Solesmes steady progress was made throughout the day towards the valley of the Selle. The enemy's rear-guards were driven from the villages of St. Vaast, St. Aubert, Billers-en-Cauchies, and Avesnes-le-Sec. Farther north the British cleared the west bank of the Sensée Canal between Arleux and Corbehem, both of which villages they captured, and were closely approaching the line of the Canal west of Douai. In the sector east of Lens the British captured Montigny, Harnes, and Annay.
East of the Scheldt Canal the British gained possession of Montrecourt village and reached the outskirts of Lieu St. Amand. In the Douai sector the British, who were within a few hundred yards of the town, capture the Faubourg d'Equerchin, the Douai prison, and the greater part of Flers. East of Annay the British made progress along the south bank of the Haute Deule Canal towards Courrieres. During October 13 local engagements between the British and the enemy's advanced detachments continued on the line of the Selle River. The British bridgehead positions in the neighbourhood of Solesmes were enlarged, and progress was made on the west bank of the river about Haussy and Saulzoir. Fighting of a local character took place also in the neighbourhood of Lieu Stamand. The British advanced troops succeeded in crossing the Sensee Canal at Aubigny-au-Bac and captured nearly 200 prisoners, but were unable to maintain their positions in the face of strong counter-attacks. North-west of Douai the British continued their advance, holding Courcelles-les-Lens and Noyelle-Godault, and were approaching the line of the Haute Deule Canal on the whole front between Douai and Vendin-le-Bieil. In the afternoon the enemy opened a heavy bombardment on a wide front north of Le Cateau, and under cover of this artillery fire strong infantry attacks were launched against the British position east of the Selle River in the neighbourhood of Solesmes. These attacks were successfully repulsed after stiff fighting. Other attacks, in which tanks were employed to support his infantry assault, were delivered by the enemy without success against the British positions opposite the village of Haspres. British patrols pushed forward during the night, and at a number of points south and north of Douai gained ground and took prisoners.
The Allied forces operating in Flanders under the command of the King of the Belgians continued their attacks on October 15. The Belgians progressed as far as the approaches to Wijnendaale Wood and Thourout, and the French reached the outskirts of Lichtervelde. Father south they pushed on beyond the Roulers-Lichtervelde Railway and had also captured Lendelede. The Second British Army reached Le Chat, on the Courtrai-Ingelmunster road, capturing the villages of Gulleghem and Heule, and had advanced right up to the outskirts of Courtrai. The British also reoccupied Menin and Wervicq, and at the latter place had set foot on the right bank of the Lys. The Allied forces took over 12,000 prisoners and more than 100 guns in two days (October 14-15). On the Douai-Lille front on October 16 the enemy was continuing his withdrawal, closely followed by the British, who had reached the general line Oignies-Carvin-Hallennes-les-Marais – Maugre – Capinghem. Sharp fighting took place at different points between the enemy's rearguards and the British advanced detachments. The British Second Army, under the command of General Plumer, co-operating with the Belgian and French forces in Flanders, had in the course of the three days (October 14-16) realised an advance of over eight miles. During this period, despite strong opposition, this Army had captured the towns of Comines, Wervicq, Menin, Wevelghem, Heule, and Cuerne, and had secured the northern portion of Courtrai. The left bank of the Lys River was cleared of the enemy as far to the north-east as Harlebeke and the British crossed the Lys between Armentières and Menin. In the towns and villages captured by the British Second Army in Flanders many civilians were freed from the domination of the enemy. Over 4,000 prisoners and upwards of 150 guns were captured. In these successful operations the 9th Division, forming part of the command of General Jacobs' 2nd Corps, again fought with great distinction, and valuable and gallant service was rendered also by the 29th, 35th, 36th and 41st Divisions, as well as by the other Divisions engaged.
Western (British-French-American-Belgian) Front.
The battle front extended northwards on October 24 as far as the Scheldt at Thiant. On the right the 6th Division fought their way forward to the eastern edge of the Bois l'Eveque and took Ors. North of this point the British were close to the Forêt de Mormal and captured Robersart. In the right centre of the attack the British continued their advance to the neighbourhood of Le Quesnoy. In the left centre the British captured Ruesnes and were within a short distance of the Le Quesnoy-Valenciennes railway north of this village. On the left of the attack the British forced the crossings of the Ecaillon river between Verchain and Thiant and gained the high ground to the east. In two days (October 23-24) the British captured over 7,000 prisoners and over 100 guns.
The British and Americans continued their attack on October 18 on the front between Bohain and Le Cateau, and again made good progress in co-operation with the French on their right. The British captured the villages of Wassigny and Ribeauville, entered Bazuel, and took over 1,200 prisoners and some guns. Troops of the First Army under command of General Horne completed the capture of Douai.
The British occupied Roubaix and Tourcoing, and on October 19 the British and Americans operating in conjunction with the French between the Oise and Le Cateau renewed their advance with success. The British reached the west bank of the Sambre and Oise Canal north of Oisy and gained possession of the high ground west of Catillon. In the operations of the past three days in this sector troops of General Rawlinson's Fourth Army completed an advance of from five to eight miles across difficult country which the enemy defended with tenacity. Having driven the enemy on the first day of their attack from the strong positions held by him on the right bank of the Selle River, the Fourth Army cleared the whole of the high ground east of the river line, capturing many villages in the course of their advance, together with over 5,000 prisoners and some guns.
The enemy commenced to withdraw north of the Cambrai-Bavai road. North of the Sensée Canal the British entered Denain, and on their left the Eighth Division took Marchiennes. This Division which was in line continuously for a long period and on a wide front, maintained unceasing pressure on the enemy, and harassed his retreat. In the course of an advance of over 18 miles they captured several hundred prisoners and took the town of Douai, besides many villages. Further north the British, steadily continuing their advance, reached the general line Orchies-Cobrieux-Bourghelles-Templeuve (south-east of Roubaix)-Nechin. The Belgian, English and French Armies, under the command of the King of the Belgians, were able to develop the results obtained during the last six days. The Belgian Army occupied Zeebrugge and Heyst and stormed the town of Bruges. Elsewhere Belgian troops crossed the Bruges-Ghent Canal and on their left reached the Dutch frontier. Their right was at Aeltre, half-way between Bruges and Ghent.
The French in Flanders succeeded in carrying the village of Thielt and the high ground in the vicinity. At the end of the day the French line ran Lootenhulle, Vynckt, and along the Lys to Grammene, Gotthem, and Wielsbeke. The Second British Army took Courtrai, carrying their front line nearly four miles to the east of the village. To the south they reached the Courtrai-Tournai road, and in spite of all communications having been destroyed by the enemy they succeeded in advancing almost up to the Escaut. Since the beginning of the operations the Flanders group of Armies has carried out an advance of about 30 miles. The Flanders coast was completely liberated, as also the whole of Western Flanders. On October 20 the British attacked the enemy's positions on the line of the River Selle, north of Le Cateau, and crossed the river despite considerable opposition. Having completed the capture of the villages in the river valley and driven the enemy from the town of Solesmes the British fought their way forward up the slopes east of the Selle, and established themselves on the high ground overlooking the valley of the Harpies. Stiff opposition which was encountered, especially in the vicinity of Solesmes and at the village of St. Python, was overcome after hard fighting. As a result of this operation over 3,000 prisoners and some guns were captured.
In this operation great assistance was rendered at certain points by tanks, which, despite the flooded state of the River Selle, succeeded in passing to the east bank at an early hour. As soon as the line of the river had been secured a number of bridges were constructed under heavy fire from hostile artillery and machine-guns. On completion of the bridges the guns were pushed forward close behind the advancing infantry and afforded effective support at short range. North of Denain the British continued to push forward in contact with the enemy and were approaching the village of St. Amand and the line of the Scheldt north of Tournai. Early on October 21 the enemy made an unsuccessful attempt to drive in the British in the neighbourhood of the Cambrai-Bavai road. The British held the west bank of the Scheldt at and for several miles north of Pontachin (north-west of Tournai).
The British on October 22 entered the western suburbs of Valenciennes, and north of that town had penetrated deeply into the Forêt de Raismes, towards the angle of the Scheldt at Condé. Farther north fighting was taking place for the crossings of the Scheldt at Pont-a-Chin.
The Flanders group of Armies under his Majesty the King of the Belgians maintained their pressure along the whole of the front on October 21. In their hurried retreat in the zone of the Belgian Army the enemy was forced to abandon his coast defence guns, of which a certain number were intact. The big 38 c.m. gun at Lengenboom, which had fired up to the last minute on Dunkirk, was also captured undamaged.
Throughout October 22 the enemy endeavoured to maintain his positions on the Lys and on the canal between Deynze and the Dutch frontier. Several counter-attacks were launched in order to retake the bridgehead established by the British the day before. All these attacks failed, with heavy loss to the enemy. The Belgian Army crossed the Lys Deviation Canal at several points. In the course of their retirement the enemy threw 200 vehicles in the Bruges-Ghent Canal, near Miserie. The French Army improved the bridgeheads south of Deynze, advancing to a depth of nearly two miles over a front of 2½ miles. Other detachments crossed the Lys further south at Vive-St. Bavon. In the course of these operations the French took 1,000 prisoners.
The Third and Fourth British Armies attacked on October 23 between the Sambre Canal and the River Scheldt south of Valenciennes. The advance was made over country rendered difficult by many streams, villages, and woods, which were defended by the enemy, who put in nine divisions on a twelve-month front. Throughout the day's operations the British fought their way forward in spite of obstinate resistance, penetrating the enemy's defence along the whole front, and carrying his positions to a depth of over three miles. English troops of the 25th Division had hard fighting in the Bois l'Eveque, but made good progress through the wood. Eastern County troops of the 18th Division captured Bousies. English and Scottish battalions of the 21st and 33rd Divisions secured the crossings of the Harpies at Vendegies Wood and captured Vendegies village. Other English battalions, with New Zealand troops operating on their left, reached the outskirts of Neuville and established themselves on the high ground to the north-west of the village. Farther north the village of Escarmain was captured by troops of the 2nd and 3rd Divisions.
Western (British) Front - 2nd November Report
On October 25 the British, who continued their advance on the battle front south of the River Scheldt, captured Sepmeries and Querensing and reached the line of the Le Quesnoy-Valenciennes railway from north-west of Le Quesnoy to east of Maing. During the two days' fighting (October 23-24) on the Sambre-Scheldt battle front the First, Third and Fourth British Armies captured 9,000 prisoners and 150 guns. A determined counter-attack launched by the enemy in the evening against the British positions on the railway north-east of Maing was met by troops of the 51st Division with the bayonet and repulsed with heavy loss. As the result of a successful operation commenced early on October 26 south of Valenciennes, the British captured the villages of Artres and Famars, securing the crossings of the River Rhonelle at the former place, and were pushing forward along the east bank of the Scheldt towards the southern outskirts of Valenciennes. During the course of the day's operations the British took about 1,000 prisoners.
A hostile counter-attack was made on October 27 against the British line in the neighbourhood of Englefontaine. The enemy was repulsed, the British positions being intact. As the result of a local operation carried out by the British on October 28 south of Valenciennes they advanced their line between the Rivers Rhonelle and Scheldt in the face of considerable opposition, and captured over 100 prisoners.
The competing navies continued to disrupt and strangle supplies to fighting forces, demoralise and starve home populations. Submarines were evolving as effective instruments of war. Many air attacks on Britain were reported as "naval" actions because aeroplanes were launched from ships.
Army and Navy Gazette reported on 12th October - North Sea. One of his Majesty's torpedo gunboats sank on Sept. 30 as the result of a collision with a merchant vessel. One officer and fifty-two men are missing, presumed drowned.
Two British motor boats with their crews, who took part in a fight with enemy aeroplanes near Terschelling on August 11, have been interned in Holland, having been discovered in Dutch territorial waters.
Italian and British cruisers appeared before Durazzo on October 2, and under the protection of Allied torpedo-boats and American submarine-chasers, approached close to the harbour works of Durazzo, and bombarded them until the base and the Austrian ships moored there were destroyed. Despite the enemy's fire the Allied war vessels fired torpedoes against an Austrian torpedo-boat destroyer and steamer. A vessel which was recognised as a hospital ship was not attacked. At the same time Allied airmen co-operated in the work of destruction. No loss or damage was suffered by the Allied forces except slight damage caused by a torpedo from a submarine to a British cruiser, which, however, continued to take part in the fight and returned under her own steam to her base. The American submarine-chasers during their patrol work for the protection of the larger vessels destroyed two enemy submarines. It is now impossible for the enemy to use the Durazzo roadstead for military traffic.
In the air
Aeroplanes had truly come of age - able to carry large payloads, travel further, increased robustness, carrying more potent firepower.
Reported in the Army and Navy Gazette on 12th October. Royal Air Force contingents, working with the navy on the Belgian coast, from September 29 to October 5 co-operated with the offensive launched by the Belgian Army. Bombs were dropped on the enemy's railway communications and dumps behind the battle front. Several trains were hit, three of which were set on fire. Explosions were caused in important munition dumps and fires started among sheds and railway buildings, and numerous casualties were caused to reinforcements moving by road, and convoys of transport were held up by the attacks of low-flying aeroplanes. The ports of Ostend, Zeebrugge, and Bruges were kept under observation, and one destroyer and one submarine were attacked. In aerial fighting 25 enemy machines were destroyed and seven machines driven down out of control. Ten British machines are missing.
On October 4 British bombing machines dropped bombs on railway junctions in rear of the enemy's battle front, damaging the permanent way and rolling stock. German fighting machines, on October 5, showed some activity, several combats taking place. As the result of these encounters eight hostile machines were shot down and three driven down out of control. Nine British aeroplanes are missing.
On the night of October 5-6 British machines dropped bombs on the railways at Mezières, Metz-Sablon, Thionville and Courcelles, the aerodromes at Morhange and Frescaty and the Burback works. Nine heavy bombs fell in the factory at Burbach, and a fire broke out at Courcelles. All British night-flying machines returned.
In conjunction with the operations of the First American Army, British squadrons bombed Metz-Sablon station and Fresaty aerodrome during the night of September 30 – October 1. The blast furnaces at Burbach were also attacked. One British machine did not return.
From September 26 to 30 American aviators shot down more than 100 hostile planes and 21 balloons.
French airmen on October 3 fired several thousands of cartridges on enemy reserves which were massing with a view to launching a counter-attack in the region of St. Pierre-a-Arnes, Machault Semide and Contreuve. The reprovisioning of advanced elements was effected as on previous days by air machines. Over five tons of foodstuffs and cartridges were sent to French troops by this means.
Flying at a low altitude on October 4, French bombers attacked with bombs and machine-gun fire enemy troops and convoys in the battle zone.
OPERATIONS IN THE AIR - Western (British) Front - reported 19th October
Bad weather restricted flying operations on October 10, but British low-flying machines actively continued to harass the retreating enemy with bombs and machine-gun fire. Some successful reconnaissance and artillery observation work was accomplished and several hundred photographs were taken. In air fighting two enemy machines were destroyed. A British machine failed to return. On account of weather conditions no night bombing took place.
Flying operations on October 11 were again greatly restricted on account of weather conditions. Some reconnaissance work was successfully carried out and British aeroplanes continued to keep close contact with our infantry. British low-flying machines again inflicted casualties on parties of German infantry and columns of transport with bombs and machine-gun fire dropping in all over nine tons of bombs. There was very little activity on the part of the enemy's aeroplanes. One hostile machine was destroyed. A British machine was missing. Low clouds and rain prevented flying at night.
A thick mist and rain on October 12 made flying operations extremely difficult. Two and three-quarter tons of bombs were dropped by British low-flying machines. There was no decisive fighting in the air. All British machines safely returned. Weather conditions prevented night operations. In spite of mist and rain, valuable reconnaissances were successfully carried out, on October 13, by British contact machines at very low height, and the enemy was continually harassed by bombs and machine-gun fire. There was no air fighting, but one enemy machine was shot down in our lines by machine-gun fire from the ground. A British machine was missing. At night the weather improved, and 12 tons of bombs were dropped by the British on important railway communications. A British night-bombing machine failed to return.
In spite of unfavourable weather conditions British air squadrons continued their activity over the battle front, October 15-22. Close co-operation was maintained with infantry and artillery, and reconnaissance and photographic work was also accomplished. Bombs were dropped on railways and centres of hostile activity, while the enemy's troops and transport were harassed by machine-gun fire from the air. Close touch was kept with the advancing troops, and their movements were reported. The enemy railway centres behind the northern battle front were attacked with heavy bombs, but there was very little activity on the part of the enemy's aircraft. A successful attack was carried out from a low altitude on Tournai Junction and aerodromes in the vicinity. An ammunition train was blown up and set on fire from end to end, another train receiving four direct hits and a large explosion was caused in the station. Hangars at two aerodromes were set on fire.
Death of Alfred Henry Feaver
|East Kent Gazette of 5th October 1918|
|FEAVER. September 3rd, died of wounds, in France, Sergeant A.H. Feaver, M.M., Hampshire Regiment, the dearly loved husband of Mrs. A. Feaver, Deerton Street Teynham, aged 34 years.|
|Army and Navy Gazette of 12 October 1918|
|The booty captured by the Allied Armies operating in France and in Belgium from September 1 to 30 amounts to 2,844 officers and 120,192 men, 1,600 guns, and more than 10,000 machine-guns. The total booty taken by the Allied Armies from July 15 to September 30 amounts to: Officers, 5,518; men, 248,494; guns, 3,669; machine guns, 23,000, and several hundreds of mine-throwers. In addition to these captures the Allies in Macedonia have taken over 25,000 prisoners, and General Allenby and the Arabs in Palestine and Syria over 71,000.|
The Story of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.
|Army and Navy Gazette of 19th October 1918|
On Monday, October 14, Canadians celebrated the fourth anniversary of the arrival in England of the first Canadian troops after the outbreak of war in 1914.
Regular Canadian troops at outbreak of war – 3,000
The First Division went into training on Salisbury Plain about the middle of October, 1914, and sailed for France on Feb.9, 1915. The Canadians arrived in Flanders in time to bear the brunt of:-
† - Hundred and Twenty Fourth Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 16th October 1918.
Lance Corporal, Charles Peter BOOKER (of Lynsted and Norton), Killed in Action aged 34
Greenstreet Workers' Union Meeting calls for complete surrender
|East Kent Gazette of 19th October 1918|
|GREENSTREET. LABOUR AND THE WAR. - At a branch meeting of the members of the Greenstreet Branch of the Workers' Union, the following resolution was passed: "That this, the Greenstreet Branch of the Workers' Union, earnestly requests the Government to refuse negotiating for peace with any of the present Central Governments as now constituted, and expresses the hope that the complete surrender of the enemy, and nothing short of this shall be the first steps to such negotiations.|
Military Cross awarded to 'Teynham man'
|East Kent Gazette of 19th October 1918|
|TEYNHAM. LIEUT. W.F. HOWARD, late pupil of Mr. Austen, Nichol Farm, Teynham, was last week invested with the Military Cross by H.M. the King, at Buckingham Palace. Lieut. Howard has seen much service at Gallipoli (where his brother was killed) and Palestine.|
[Note: W.F. Howard was only temporarily associated with Teynham]
† - Hundred and Twenty Fifth Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 22nd October 1918.
Private, James Frederick LAKER (of Teynham), Killed in Action aged 27
Serving In: 10th (Royal East Kent Yeomanry) Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment). Died of wounds (Gassed on 12th October) succumbed in 7th Stationary Hospital, Boulogne.
† - Hundred and Twenty Sixth Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 23rd October 1918.
Lance Corporal, William Frank BACK (of Teynham), Killed in Action aged 22
† - Hundred and Twenty Seventh Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 23rd October 1918.
Private, Bertie Charles DOWNS (of Teynham), Killed in Action aged 18
† - Hundred and Twenty Eighth Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 23rd October 1918.
Gunner, Thomas James LAVENDER (of Luddenham), Killed in Action aged 19
† - Hundred and Twenty Ninth Loss in the Kingsdown with Creekside Benefice - 24th October 1918.
Private, George RAINES (of Newnham), Killed in Action aged 23
The Proposed Armistice and Sea-Power
|Army and Navy Gazette of 26th October 1918|
That Germany is endeavouring to use her proposal for an armistice to secure the orderly retirement of her Armies from a tight corner is generally recognised. She knows that if, with her naval and military forces intact, she could draw the Allies into a talking parlour she would, practically, have won the war. But as they know it, too, and show it to her with universal consent, she is baffled. That is a remarkable feature of the recent exchange of Notes but not so remarkable as Britain's aloofness in regard to them. Mr. Wilson and M. Clemenceau have held the stage throughout; Mr. Lloyd George has been silent. Even in the elaboration of the consequences of an armistice, by which the public was informed that its instinct was correct, the view was Continental rather than maritime. Some people appear to think that this was a mistake, and urge the Government to take a hand, if not in the writing of Notes, in expressing an opinion thereupon. But, on reflection, one must admit that the attitude of the Government was well chosen. Never, perhaps, has it reflected Britain as a sea-Power with greater dignity. For in her silence there was at once power and a rebuke to the enemy, which he understands better than the Allies or even her own people.
Why did he address himself to the United States, which only recently entered the war, instead of to the Allies as a whole or to Great Britain, which has contributed most to the great cause? Because in so doing he could ignore sea-power, which he fears and dreads as the enabling source of all Allied effort, and because in his endeavour to circumvent it he hopes that "those stupid Yankees" will help him best. For he is not likely to forget, as so many others do, that "the freedom of the seas," which he desires so keenly, is included in President Wilson's "Fourteen Points." The scope of the Notes is military, not in its wide but in its narrow sense. By omitting all reference to the sea and Fleets they are allowing Germany to make it appear that Armies and territory are the dominant factors in the situation. But, it may be said, Britain should rectify such a false impression. So she would if her interest demanded it. But she knows that there is no reality behind the proposed armistice, and so, seeing that she has not been directly addressed, prefers to treat it with contempt. Not only is this a sign of strength, but it commits her to nothing at a critical moment when it is just as well that the enemy should not understand too much of her intentions so far as they concern peace terms.
The cool indifference of the British Government with regard to the armistice manoeuvre was emphasised alike b the statement of Sir Eric Geddes and his presence in the United States. Sea-power, represented by the First Lord of the Admiralty, treated the German proposals as the sham they were, not so much by the words used as by what they pretended. According to them Britain was preparing not for peace, but for a more intensive form of submarine activity, and in co-operation with the United States devising the means to meet it. But it was not only in her attitude towards the proposed armistice that Britain was worthy of herself, but in action both on sea and land. Her reply on the anniversary of Trafalgar was in the true Nelson vein. It was the occupation of the Belgian coast, thereby destroying the greatest symbol of the German conquering spirit. England has spoken, not as others do, through the mouths of politicians, but through her men and ships, which is as it should be, and it is honourable to Mr. Lloyd George that he should have recognised that at this juncture silence is more effective than words.
Muzzling the Prisoners
|Army and Navy Gazette of 9th November 1918|
|On October 29 Brigadier-General Page-Croft made a distinct and specific charge against the War Office. He said that escaped or repatriated prisoners had been forbidden by the War Office to tell the truth as to the German treatment of our prisoners of war either on the platform or in the newspapers, and it is said that the explanation of so extraordinary and so mischievous an order was that the Germans, angered at these disclosures, might conceivably make things very much worse for those who remained in their power. While this charge was being made by General Croft, and repeated by Sir H. Dalziel and others, the Under-Secretary of State for War indicated dissent in the usual way by shaking his head, and though when he came to speak later he did not in any way refer to the matter, he several times during the debate interjected remarks to the effect that no such instructions as were named had been issued by the War Office. It would seem that Mr. Macpherson' acquaintance with what happens at the War Office is more meagre than one has a right to expect it to be; for there can be no possible doubt that such instructions were issued by the authorities as at least gave returned prisoners very clearly to understand that they were not permitted to speak on the subject at all, that they were presumed to have joined the War Office in a conspiracy of silence, and this Mr. Macpherson has now at last reluctantly admitted.|
Parsonage Farm, Newnham - accusation of theft and forgery against a tenant farmer
|Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald of 2nd November 1918|
|THE DEFENCE FORESHADOWED
At the Faversham County Police Court on Tuesday [29th October], before Captain C.E. Cheetham, Edward Edwin Fenner, of Iffin Farm, Thanington, near Canterbury, was charged on remand with stealing eight horses, a waggon, a large quantity of farm implements, etc., of the value of £550, the property of Edward Henry Jenkinson, of Leytonstone. Prisoner, who had been in custody since the last hearing owing to his inability to find bail, was now represented by Mr. G. Clements, of the firm of Messrs. C. Turner and Hopton, 80 Finsbury Pavement, E.C. Mr. C.C. Sharman, of Stratford, again appeared for the prosecution, and Mr. A.K. Mowll, Canterbury, watched the case on behalf of Mr. Kensington, the present tenant of Parsonage Farm, Newnham.
At the outset Mr. Sharman mentioned that at the close he should ask the magistrate to commit prisoner for trial on other charges, including forgery.
Mr Clements objected to this, remarking that Mr. Sharman seemed to want a roving commission, and then if he found the evidence strong enough introduce other charges.
Edward John Waterman, auctioneer, of Maidstone, stated that on March 29th last he received a letter from Parsonage Farm, Newnham, and signed "Bailiff, Jenkinson, Esq." asking him to sell two horses. He sold one for 150 guineas and sent a cheque for £149 11s with the account to the address given. Later he received a letter signed E. Fenner stating that there had been some unpleasantness with "friend Jenkinson" over the matter and would he let him know who had been making enquiries. As a matter of fact witness had not had any enquiry from Mr. Jenkinson or anyone on his behalf. In July last witness sold a brown cart mare for E. Fenner and sent him a cheque for £94 13s. Later witness received a letter from him saying the charge of 7½ percent was ridiculous and claiming 56(?). The letter was signed E. Fenner, bailiff to E.H. Jenkinson. In a subsequent letter Fenner demanded £5 7s and threatened proceedings if it was not paid. In a final application Fenner said "I have to answer for all short monies out of my own purse and certainly I shall not answer for this." On September 4th he called at witness' office about the matter, and to settle it witness gave him £2.
Cross-examined – He had never seen prisoner write. The cheque for £149 was endorsed Jenkinson and Jenkinson.
Wm. C. Young, manager on the Faversham branch of Lloyds Bank, stated that he had known prisoner as Edward Edwin Fenner. He opened an account on February 28th this year. It was closed on April 25th in consequence of a letter he received from a Mr. Killey.
Cross-examined – The endorsement "Jenkinson" did not look like prisoner's handwriting. Prisoner was introduced to him by Mr. Wise. Prisoner opened the account on witness' suggestion.
Charles A. Downs, chief clerk at the Canterbury branch of the London County and Westminster Bank, stated the prisoner opened an account there on 19th August last and signed his name as Robert David Fenner. There was only one sum paid in, viz., £605 11s.
Mr Richard Tanner, resident estate agent to Colonel Bell, Bourne Park, Canterbury, who is the owner of Iffin Farm, Thanington, stated that in July last he advertised the farm to let and received a letter in reply signed Robert Fenner asking for particulars, which he sent. A few day later prisoner called with his valuer, Mr. Petley. Witness asked prisoner for his present landlord's reference and he gave him the name of E.H. Jenkinson of Newnham, near Sittingbourne. He also gave as his bank reference the London and County, Canterbury. Witness wrote to Mr. Jenkinson, and received a reply stating that the Fenners were good farmers, that they had managed two large farms for him for years and that they were worthy of any help that could be given. The letter was signed E.H. Jenkinson, and witness believed it to be a good reference. On August 26th witness wrote to prisoner saying he would like to meet him at his farm at Newnham, and on 3rd September he made the visit. Prisoner led him to believe that he was tenant of the farm and that Mr. Jenkinson was his landlord. Witness was not satisfied and obtained two other references. An agreement was prepared and sent to Prisoner for signature. He returned it signed R.D. Fenner. The agreement had not been signed by the landlord and never would be. Except for something that came to his knowledge it would have been signed and sent to prisoner. Fenner then went into possession of the farm. The letter purporting to come from Mr. Jenkinson was one of the things that induced him to let prisoner have possession of the farm. He did not know at that time that prisoner was an undischarged bankrupt.
Mr. Walter R. Elgar, of the firm of Messrs. G. Webb and Co., Sittingbourne, produced the agreement signed by E.H. Jenkinson for the tenancy of Parsonage Farm, Newham, and said it was arranged partly by correspondence and partly by interview with Jenkinson and prisoner. Witness received a deposit of £50 and subsequently the balance of £254. The rent had been paid by prisoner.
Cross-examined – Witness wrote to Jenkinson on September 26th informing him of the removal of certain implements, but did not receive any answer.
Arthur Francis Palmer, implement manager and traveller, in the employ of Messrs. Tett and Co., Sittingbourne, stated that he knew Jenkinson, who gave him directions to supply goods to Parsonage Farm. Quantities of goods were supplied, some being sent to the farm and others being fetched by prisoner. He did not remember that at the first interview he had with Jenkinson he said he was to let prisoner have what he wanted, and that what he did not pay for he (Jenkinson) would. His recollection was the Jenkinson told him he had taken the farm, and that accounts for implements were to be sent to him. On one occasion when an account for £110 was pressed for prisoner came to the shop at Sittingbourne and paid it in notes. A receipt was given attached to the account which was made out to Jenkinson, but prisoner afterwards requested a separate receipt made out to himself. Another receipt was then given made out in his own name. As far as witness knew no goods were supplied prisoner on his own account.
Mr. Walter Kensington, the present tenant of Parsonage Farm, Newnham, stated that he saw the farm advertised to let and in consequence answered it. He received a letter in reply which he had lost in moving. It was written from Parsonage Farm, Newnham, and was signed by E. Fenner, who said Jenkinson was the landlord. Witness went to see the farm and prisoner said he wanted to let it as a going concern as they had another farm he wanted to go to. Witness gathered from this that Jenkinson had another farm he wanted prisoner to work. He quite understood that prisoner was agent for Jenkinson. Witness went over the farm and prisoner shoed him the crops for which he asked £750. Witness was to be a yearly tenant at £125 a year. Witness went to the farm again on the 27t and met prisoner and Mr. Petley, his valuer. The latter made the valuation and witness agreed to the figures and paid a cheque for £785. £750 for the crops and £35 proportion of rent. He also paid prisoner £384 7s 6d for six cows, a heifer and a pony, £250 for a couple of mares, £35 for some pigs, £10 for some harness, and £100 for labour between July, when he bought the crops, and 11th October, when he went into occupation.
Asked how it was he entered into the agreement and paid all this money to prisoner instead of to Jenkinson, witness said that he had dealt with an agent in the case of other farms. He saw Jenkinson for the first time on 11th October. Prisoner was with him.
At this point Mr. Sharman applied for another remand.
Mr. Clements protested as he had not been able to cross-examinee Mr. Jenkinson yet. When he had a different complexion would be put on the case and it would be seen that it was a case for a civil action and not criminal proceedings. Prosecutor no doubt thought that if he would keep prisoner in gaol long enough he would force his friends to pay the money.
Mr. Sharman said it was nothing of the sort, and Mr. Jenkinson had nothing to do with the forgery that induced Mr. Tanner to let him have Iffin Farm.
Mr. Clements – All I have to meet today is the charge of stealing stock and implements.
Mr. Sharman – I have already stated that I shall ask for prisoner to be committed for trial on certain charges of forgery and these charges are clearly established.
Mr. Clements asked the Magistrate to reduce the bail so that prisoner could be at liberty to instruct him in his defence. There was no possibility of his leaving the country as he would have to get a permit and could not do so with this charge hanging over him.
The Magistrate said from what he had heard up to the present he could not see his way to reduce the bail of £1,000 and two sureties of £500 each.
The case was then adjourned until Tuesday next.
Surrender of Turkey
|Army and Navy Gazette of 2nd November 1918|
|On Thursday, October 31, in the House of Commons, Sir George Cave announced that the armistice with Turkey was signed the previous night and came into effect on the 31st. The armistice includes the immediate repatriation of Allied prisoners held by Turkey, and free passage through the Dardanelles and Bosphorus (sic) to the Black Sea for the Allied Fleet, and the occupation of the forts on the Dardanelles and Bosphorus.|