Published By John Davies
Battle of Epehy. Fresnoy-le-Petit. 1 Bn Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. 18 September 1918.
The Battle of Epehy was part of a general advance made against the Hindenburg Line on the Somme. The objective was to establish a line from which the Hindenburg line could be assaulted. The attack commenced at 5.30am on 18 September 1918.
During the Battle of Epehy, 18 September 1918, the 1 Bn Loyal North Lancashire Regiment were to attack a section of the Hindenberg Line north of Fresnoy le Petit named Villemay Trench ( Map A). At 5.30am the Battalion advanced to the attack, C Coy on left, D Coy on the right, A Coy in support and B Coy in Reserve. There was thick mist and rain and no landmarks were visible. At about 6.25am it was reported that D Coy had obtained their objective. An officers patrol and scouts were sent out to endeavour to confirm this but were unsuccessful in doing so. On the left it was reported that C Coy had been held up by heavy MG fire coming from the vicinity of Map B.
At about 8.00am the reserve B Coy was sent up to support C Coy and to push on to the first objective; they were also to establish touch with D Coy company and continue the advance to second objective with C Coy to follow on in support. B Coy managed to get into the first objective of VILLEMAY TRENCH but the enemy immediately counter attacked debouching from ARBOUSIERS WOOD and a copse further back (Map C). This fire enfiladed the battalions position and they were forced to give ground, during which the Company Commander Captain RM Leake MC (CWGC) was killed. The company counter attacked and was able to recapture but not to hold the the position due to the enfilading fire and they withdrew to a line at Map D. Another attempt to get into Villemay Trench was made, this time by A Coy but again heavy MG fire made it impossible and they too retired to the line Map D. During the night of 18/19 September the battalion was withdrawn to form a defensive flank in the high ground at Map E.
Casualties Officers 2 KIA, 7 wounded, 1 missing. ORs 48 KIA, 180 wounded, 9 missing, 21 gassed.
GOOGLE MAPS Satellite view centres on Fresnoy le Petit.
References and Sources War Diary 1 Bn Loyal North Lancs Rgt.
B&O 1918. 100 Days. Battle of Epehy. Fresnoy-le-Petit. 1 Bn Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. 18 September 1918.