Published By Ben Hillidge
Armentieres. Erquinghem. 11 Bn Suffolk Regiment. 9-19 April 1918
Operation Georgette began early in the morning of 9 April 1918. During the previous night 11 Bn Suffolk Regiment were in Divisional Reserve in billets at Erquinghem (Map A) and La Rolanderie Farm (Map B), about 1km south on Rue du Biez. At 4,00am the hostile bombardment began. The men at La Rolanderie Farm evacuated the billets and dispersed into nearby fields in artillery formation as arranged during shelling. The shelling continued through the morning, at 10.00am Erquinghem was bombarded and the men there also dispersed in the field and trenches between the village and railway. At 11.00am orders came through to move to Bac St Maur. Two companies prepared to move off but then reports came through that Bac St Maur, and Fleurbaix had been captured. The orders were cancelled and instead the battalion was deployed facing Fleurbaix on a line running from Streaky Bacon Farm (Map C) and along Rue de Delpierre (Map D), 3 companies were in the forward line with the other in reserve. The line was established by 3.00pm with contact with units to the left and right. The War Diary notes that ‘For the remainder of the day enemy attempts to advance were repulsed’.
On the 10 April the 11 Bn Suffolks beat off attack after attack by the Germans. Twice the Germans broke through, but on each occasion they were forced back. By 3.15pm the line had been re-established, orders were then received to move back to north of the River Lys. During the withdrawal the enemy pushed on. The officer commanding the battalion to the left, reported that he could not possibly get clear in less that two hours. Colonel Tuck, the battalion C/O, replied that in these circumstances he would do his best to hold on until 5,00pm. The battalion remained in position and held the enemy off whilst other units retired. Casualties in these two hours were heavy but allowed 2 brigades to get back, At about 5.00pm the battalion too retired and moved back to Waterlands, north of Lys. The fighting continued over the next days with the battalion heavily engaged as troops to their front were overwhelmed by the German assault. On the night of the 17-18 April the Battalion was relieved, moving at first into reserve trenches and three days later back to Boeschepe. During this time battalion casualties were over 500 men KIA, wounded or missing.
GOOGLE MAPS Satellite view centres on La Rolanderie Farm
References and Sources WAR DIARY 11 Bn Suffolk Rgt. Regimental History
B&O 1918. KO. Georgette. Erquinghem. 11 Bn Suffolk Regiment. 9-19 April 1918.