Published By John Davies
Second Battle of the Marne, 2/8 Bn West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own). July 1918
The 2/8 Bn West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) was in 62 (2 West Riding) Division. The Division, along with American and Italian Troops, had been assigned to the French Army and were operating around the River Marne. On 17 July 1918 the German Gseinau Offensive halted having failed to break through. On 18 July the French launched a strong counterattack and by 6 August had pushed the Germans back to their start line for the Kaiser Offensive.
On 19 July the battalion moved to its assembly area in St Imoges – it had been a difficult march, the weather was very hot and the roads were crowded with traffic. That evening they moved off to the battle lines, it was another difficult march taking 6 hours, arriving at 3.20am at Poucy. Five casualties were caused on the way up.
An attack by XXII Corps with 62 Division east of the river Ardre and 51 Division to the west. To an objective a line between Aubilly to Sarcy. The battalion were to secure the road running north for about 1km from Bligny. The advance started at 8.00am on 20 July under cover of a heavy barrage. At the start things went well but at about 9.00am was held up by a line of MGs at Marplaux – the barrage had started too far ahead and left this line untouched. No further progress could be made. Parties of men held on but had to be evacuated that night. Casualties were; Officers Captain GG Kinder (CWGC) Captain JE Appleyard, Lieutenants WM Wilkinson, EH Shuttleworth, WH Dawson, SH Bray, TR Williams and 2 wounded. ORs 43 KIA, 20 wounded and 199 missing. The battalion was relieved on 21 July and moved to billets at Ecuiel Farm.
After 1 days rest the battalion went back into action. At 6.00am on 23 July they attacked Bois de Petit Champs. On the battalion front No 2 Coy on the left managed to advance but No 1 Coy on the right met a nest of MGs causing severe casualties, all the Coy’s officers were hit and company command fell to Sergeant 306966 J Horner who ‘handled (the situation) with great skill and gallantry’. By the end of the day they occupied important high ground overlooking Marplaux. Casualties were; Officers KIA Lieutenants Frank Abe, 2 wounded and ORs 7 KIA, 33 wounded and 1 missing.
References and Sources War Diary 2/8 Bn West Yorks. Regiment (PoWO). July 1918.
B&O 1918. KO. Gseinau. 2/8 Bn West Yorks. Regiment (PoWO). July 1918.