Published By Ben Hillidge
Somme. Beugny. 9 Bn Cheshire Regiment. 25 March 1918.
During the evening of 21 March, the first day of Operation Michael, Kaiser Offensive, the 9 Bn Cheshire Regiment was ordered forward to the support lines at Gaika Copse to the south of Lebucquiere. By the morning of 23 March 1918 the 9 Bn Cheshire Regiment was holding a defensive flank at Delsaux Farm near to Beugny. They spent the day improving defences and stock piling ammunition and bombs. There was steady shelling which grew in intensity as the day moved on and by evening was heavy. Enemy aircraft were also active. An attack was anticipated and came at around 6am on the 24 March 1918. The enemy forced their way into the village and the British had to withdraw. At 9.00am the Cheshire’s front at Delsaux Farm came under heavy artillery fire lasting for 1 3/4 hours, the barrage was followed by an infantry assault. They were forced out of their positions and the farm was captured. The battalion hurriedly withdrew to the support line where they reorganised themselves. They managed to set up a defensive line and to win back part of their old position with a daring counter attack but the pressure and weight of the enemy advance caused another withdrawal at about mid-day. During the action A coy lost all its officers. The battalion moved back to Bapaume where they occupied old German trenches to the south of the town on the road to Le Transoy. Here, despite the dark night and general confusion, they re-organised. Orders then came through to move back again to Greviller to the west of Bapaume arriving there at 2.00am on the 25 March. They took up positions in the support line on the south side of the village
Early in the morning of 25 March, in conjunction with 8 Bn North Staffs and 1/4 Bn KSLI, the line was reorganised, gaps were filled and contact was established with neighbouring units. At 9.00am the enemy recommenced their attacks. The enemy worked forward under cover of MG and shrapnel fire. They broke through the front line and by mid day were moving onto the battalion’s positions. To the battalion’s left British troops were seen withdrawing from Grevillers and the enemy took possession of the village. To the right the enemy had managed to set up a MG on higher ground and brought down an enfilading fire onto the battalion. The enemy was massing for an attack, consequently the front line was withdrawn with troops passing through the battalion. As the enemy came up to the battalion positions they too withdrew. This retreat was covered by MG fire from Loupart Wood. The battalion regrouped to the west of Loupart Wood and a new defensive line was quickly established. The enemy came on, advancing across the low ground to the west of Grevillers and, again, the battalion’s position became untenable and they retreated, passing through the troops from 62 Division to a new line south east of Achiet Le Petit which was reached about 7.00pm. They remained here until the night of 26 March when they were relieved and went into brigade reserve at Sailly. Officer casualties for the day were 3 wounded – Captain JR Griffiths and Lieutenants C Ray and EC Fox -1 missing, Second Lieutenant GH Verity, and 1 died of wounds. Lieutenant HM Owen,
GOOGLE MAPS – Satellite view centres on Bapaume and shows the ground 9 Bn Cheshire Regiment retreated over 23-25 March 1918 – from Delsaux Farm south of Beugny,through Bapaume and Grevillers to a line south of Achiet le Grand,
References and Sources War Diary 9 Bn Cheshire Rgt. Regimental History Cheshire. Rgt.
B&O 1918. Kaiser Offensive. Operation Michael. Somme. 9 Bn Cheshire Regiment. 25 Mar 1918.