Published By Ben Hillidge
Somme. Happencourt. 7 Bn Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. 24 March 1918.
At the start of Operation Michael, Kaiser Offensive on 21 March the 7 Bn Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry was ordered forward to hold positions to the south of Happencourt. They soon found themselves being forced back to retreat in a south westerly direction and on the morning of 24 March they were holding a position along the railway embankment to the south of Ollezy. Orders were received to move back again to a position between Cugny and Eaucourt. As they began the retirement the enemy attacked units on their right flank and they began a disorganised retreat. The 7 Bn DoCLI was forced to fight a hard rear guard action. They managed to get back and take up the new position but only for a short time before again being forced to fight their way back to take up a position in a sunken road to the north east of Villeselve. The enemy pressed forward determinedly and heavy fighting again ensued, both sides lost heavily – the battalion CO, Lieutenant Colonel Burges Short being one of the casualties. Again, the enemy broke through units on 7Bn DoCLI’s flanks, they were in danger of being cut off but managed to retreat back for about a mile along the main Villeselve – Berlancourt road to Guiscard. Here the Division was able to re-organise itself and the battalion was ordered to a position to the north east of the village. Just as they arrived they were met by retreating French troops and another retirement followed. By evening the battalion found itself to the south west of Guiscard village holding a line in support of the French. Over the last few days the battalion had lost 16 officers, KIA, wounded or missing, by the end of the month the battalion suffered nearly 450 ORs KIA, missing or wound and the effective strength of the units was down to about 20 officers and 340 other ranks.
GOOGLE MAPS Satellite view centres on Guiscard.
References and Sources WAR DIARY 7 Bn Duke of Cornwall light Infantry
B&O 1918. Kaiser Offensive. Operation Michael. Somme. Ollezy & Guiscard. 7 Bn DoCLI. 24 March 1918.