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47th (London) Division – May to August 1918

THE success of the German offensive at the end of March shocked the Government and the nation at home into seeing the urgency of the need for more men, and large reinforcements were hastily sent across the Channel,

During the first week in April, over 3,000 new troops, mostly boys of eighteen, joined the Division, and had a very uncomfortable first taste of active service in improvised camps in the muddy orchards of Rubempre.

They were absorbed by the brigades on April 9th, when the Division began to move back by way of Beauval and Domart to a pleasant rest near the forest of Crecy. Here for nearly three weeks there was refitting and training, on a green and pastoral countryside untouched by war, such as we had last seen nine months before after the battle of Messines. Time was found for a successful sports meeting at Canchy on April 21st, and on the next day the Train beat the 17th Battalion in the final for the Divisional Football Cup.

At the end of the month, the Division was transferred to the Fourth Army, and got ready to take over a section of the Australian Corps front. It was a very different Division from that which had come out of the line a few weeks earlier. All the battalions were full of new officers and men, many of whom had not seen the trenches before, and there had been several changes in command and staff.

On May 2nd, the relief of the Australians was complete, and we held a line that ran about 800 yards west of Albert in front of Lavieville, Millencourt, Henencourt, Senlis, and Bouzincourt, well known to us as the area of our rest billets during the Somme fighting of 1916, and again as our Christmas billets in 1917.

The River Ancre flows southwards past Aveluy and through the centre of Albert. Some two miles south of Albert it turns westward and flows through Dernancourt, Buire, Ribemont, and Heilly, to join the Somme at Corbie. The land enclosed by the angle of the river rises in a number of spurs to the ridge upon which stand Senhs, Henencourt and Baisieux. Between the spurs lie valleys, from Albert towards Bouzincourt and towards Millencourt and Lavieville, and from Ribemont towards Bresle. The whole ridge was strategically important, as the northern bastion of the defences of the Somme valley and Amiens, and the spurs and valleys running up from the Ancre provided an interesting ground for local defence schemes and great scope for defensive works, which were the special care of the higher commands, of whose anxiety the brigades and battalions in the line were daily reminded by personal visits and written orders.

Soon after the beginning of May, the Australian Corps “side-slipped” to a position south of the Ancre, and we came under command of the IIIrd Corps, together with the 18th and 58th (London) Divisions, which were our neighbours until we finally left the Somme four months later. A regular routine was set up, under which two out of the three divisions, brigades and battalions were up and the third back; for brigades this meant sixteen days up and eight back. But it was not long before arrangements for further operations began to interrupt the regularity.

May, June and July were in fact very quiet months, but there were many alarms. At first it was confidently expected that the Germans would make another attempt to capture Amiens and to force their way down the Somme. An actual day fixed for the attack was several times mentioned in May. Suspicious sounds were heard a few nights after our arrival, and a subsequent aeroplane reconnaissance reported objects like tanks visible near Fricourt. A few nights later our engineers blew a line of craters across the Albert-Millencourt road to act as a tank trap.

An alarm nearer home occurred on the night 8th-9th May, when a strong party of the enemy attacked an uncomfortable salient at the north end of our trench-line, known by the ill-omened name of “The Hairpin.” The 23rd Battalion garrison of this piece of trench was overpowered, and an immediate counter-attack did not succeed in recapturing the position. But a further operation by the reserve company, on the following evening, won back the Hairpin with several prisoners. In this struggle fell Lieutenant J. D. Reid: known to many as bombing-instructor at the Divisional School. Work of all kinds was plentiful in the sector. It included several new trenches, notably a new communication trench in the left section, the drainage of which was a matter of much discussion, and a support line across the Millencourt valley. The grounds of Henencourt Chateau were tremendously fortified with concrete machine-gun emplacements, and all over the corps front a number of tunnelled dugouts were made. All these forward works and the enlargement of headquarters farther back kept all the field companies and the pioneers busily occupied, and the infantry did not forget what a working party is. The work was not interrupted by the enemy, and in the back area night bombing was very slight. The occasional attention of a long-range gun to Beaucourt Chateau did nothing more than interrupt one of several conferences held about this time.

The summer months of 1918, quite apart from the course of operations, were remarkable for two new arrivals. The first was an epidemic of influenza, which during the following winter spread with alarming results to the United Kingdom. The type of fever was fortunately not severe, but it had the effect, especially upon the younger men, of making them unfit for hard work for some weeks after the attack. The effective strength of the Division was thus seriously impaired, and it was only by the efforts of the A.D.M.S. (Colonel Gibbard) and his assistants, who organised field ambulances into convalescent depots to avoid the wholesale evacuation of sick men, that our man-power was kept up to a practicable working strength. Probably the artillery suffered most severely, since they were engaged in strenuous operations at the beginning of July, and could even less afford than other troops to have their personnel reduced.

The second arrival was as fortunate as the former was unlucky. It was the American Army. Parties of American Intelligence personnel had first visited us at the end of May, and later machine-gun detachments were sent up. On our return to the line, after rest in the Cavillon area, in the middle of July, the whole 33rd American Division was concentrated in the corps area, and the 66th Brigade of this was attached to us during the following weeks, first by companies and later in complete regiments.

The appearance of these new troops, with their fine physique and frank inexperience, had a valuable morale effect on us all, and gave us a wholesome sense of being old soldiers. The writer had the good fortune to be sent for liaison to the 132nd American Regiment when they first took over a brigade sector of the Divisional front. Their keenness and their hospitality, and the absence of any ill-founded “cocksureness,” are a very pleasant memory. It was in the allocation of Staff duties and in supply arrangements that they seemed to have most to learn, but whether the difficulties in these respects were due to any inherent weakness, or rather to the precise incompatibility of their organisations with ours, a more competent judge must decide. It was no surprise to hear how gallantly and well these regiments acquitted themselves in subsequent operations.

We were lucky enough to be supported by our own Divisional Artillery since the end of May, and they moved back with the rest of the Division into corps reserve towards the end of June. It was a pleasant rest for all and a valuable opportunity for training, for the young troops were not fully broken in to active service conditions, and, although the sector was a quiet one, the strain told quickly on them. The rest area was a good one, especially for the 141st Brigade, who were at Picquigny, and were there able to bathe and have water sports in the Somme.

The gunners were settled north of the river at Argoeuvres on June 23rd. Five days later, their brigades were on the move forward again, to take part in operations by the Australian corps. The capture of Hamel and Vaire Wood has since become classical. Strictest secrecy was observed in all preparations, and with the aid of massed guns and many tanks a completely successful and overwhelming attack was launched at dawn on July 4th. The barrage fire of the guns was especially praised, since they had had little opportunity, in the interest of secrecy, to register upon their barrage lines. Our 236th Brigade had the satisfaction of turning against the Germans a field gun which was captured in the operations. Both brigades returned to the rest area, but after only two days of rest they were on the move again to relieve the 18th Division on the left sector of the Albert front. The rest of the Division followed them.

Several personal changes must be noted here. Early in July, Lieut.-Colonel A. Maxwell left the 23rd Battalion to take command of a brigade; Lieut.-Colonel Segrave had left the 15th not long before to command a brigade in the 51st Division. About the same time Lieut.-Colonel C.M. Davies (G.S.O.1.) left us and his place was taken by Lieut.-Colonel B.L. Montgomery: Major J. T. Duffin replaced Major Alexander as D.A.A.G., and Major M. Lewis came to us as G.S.O.2. All these newcomers were with us till the end.

Marshal Foch’s great offensive in the Champagne began on 19th July. and from that time onward it became clear that we must all move on soon. We simply had to wait our time. Meanwhile, raids (notably by the 22nd Battalion, on 24th July), patrols, discharges of gas-drums, and constant harassing fire elicited little retaliation.

On August 2nd, there were indications that the Germans were withdrawing – explosions were heard in Albert, and they began to shell their own line. We soon established an outpost line along the railway, west of the town, and patrolled freely as far as the Ancre and the western outskirts of Albert. There are photographs in the Imperial War Museum of the 18th Battalion daylight patrols in Albert.

The British offensive began on August 8th, when very successful operations by the Australians and Canadian Corps, south of the Somme, started the Fourth Army’s “battle of 100 days.” On the following day, at 5.30 p.m. the IIIrd Corps began to attack, and the 58th and 12th Divisions made a rapid advance on our right in the angle between the Ancre and the Somme, astride the Corbie-Bray road. By August 13th, we had relieved the 58th Division in the line which they had won, just east of Tailles Wood, and our brigades succeeded one another in this uncomfortable position until the next advance was made on August 22nd.

On this date, the IIIrd Corps, together with the 3rd Australian Division on their right, planned an advance of about 3,000 yards from a line which ran roughly from the Somme 1,000 yards west of Bray to Albert. From right to left the attacking divisions were the 3rd Australian, the 47th, the 12th, and the 18th. The 47th Division started from the line of the old Amiens defences, east of Tailles Wood, about 2,000 yards long, and aimed at a final objective, called the Green Line, on the high ground east of Happy Valley, about 3,000 yards long. The south and north boundaries of the Division were therefore divergent straight lines, running roughly east-north-east and north-east respectively. A preliminary objective or Brown Line, roughly on the line of the Bray-Albert road, was first to be seized by the 141st Brigade, and the 142nd Brigade was to advance through them on to the Green Line.

The 140th Brigade was ready further to exploit the advance. Tanks were available to assist the two attacks, and two squadrons of cavalry (1st Northumberland Hussars), together with a fleet of six whippet tanks, were waiting to break through when the Green Line was secured. To give free passage to these, the centre portion of the Green Line was left to be captured without a barrage. This part of the front ran in a salient towards the enemy and, moreover, on the reserve slope under his observation. The Corps scheme of attack was based on the general idea that the enemy’s resistance would not be severe, that his reserves were dissipated, and that no time would be lost in exploiting further such success as we might achieve. This assumption proved to be wrong.

The 141st Brigade began their advance at 4.45 a.m. and gained their objective without any serious opposition. But in the morning mist and the smoke of battle, it was not easy to identify the ground, and most of the Brigade, especially the 20th Battalion on the right, began to consolidate somewhat short of the Brown Line. When the mist cleared away all movement was heavily and accurately shelled.

The 142nd Brigade, also advancing on a three-battalion front {22nd, 23rd, 24th, from right to left), passed through the 141st Brigade up to time. Their further advance met with strong opposition, especially in the centre and on the left, from machine-gun nests. The 24th Battalion suffered many casualties from an exposed left flank; the 23rd reached the Green Line across Happy Valley, but suffered severely, partly from lack of barrage protection, and were unable, as the event showed, to hold so long a line against a strong counter-attack. The 22nd Battalion made a junction in the chalk-pit on the extreme right of their objective with the Australians, and Lieut.-Colonel Pargiter succeeded in maintaining this position throughout the operation – a most valuable check on enemy counter-attacks and a pivot for our subsequent advance.

Before 9 o’clock, the Northumberland Hussars crossed the line, but they met with heavy fire and were compelled to retire at the cost of many casualties. None of the whippet tanks crossed the Green Line. It seems that this scheme of exploitation rested on a miscalculation of the enemy’s strength, and the 23rd Battalion could ill afford the barrage protection to which it deprived them.

The day was intensely hot – the hottest, it seems in retrospect, of all the war – and the forward brigades, meeting with unexpectedly severe opposition on this wide front and unable to move without attracting heavy fire, had a most uncomfortable time. The shelling in the forward area also made communication exceedingly difficult and defeated efforts to bring up reserves of ammunition. A supply Tank sent up to Lieut.-Colonel Tolerton, of the 23rd Battalion, was spotted, and became for the time a death-trap to unloading parties, and the Brigade Headquarters in Tallies Wood was continuously bombarded throughout the day.

It was afterwards discovered that the Germans had anticipated our attack, and that their troops were redistributed in depth in order to meet it. A systematic counter-attack had been ordered to start as soon as this redistribution was complete. Soon after 2 o’clock this counter-attack developed, and finally it dislodged our troops from the centre and left of the Green Line. Fortunately, the 22nd Battalion, under Lieut.-Colonel L.L. Pargiter, held on to the chalkpit, from which they threw back a defensive flank connecting up with the rest of the brigade, which rallied on the Brown Line. In this fighting Captain C, H. Oakley specially distinguished himself.

Our operation on August 22nd did not meet with all the success for which we had hoped; but still less did the counter-operations of the enemy, whose orders had closed with an assertion that “by the end of the day’s fighting the outpost zone will again be in our hands.” And another captured document referring to the same day’s action indicates, if indication were needed, that it was not the quality of our men which baulked us of a full measure of success. “The examination of the captured prisoners,” it reads, “presented great difficulty. Those especially of the 23rd London Regiment were apparently excellently schooled in the way they should behave if captured, and they gave very clever evasive answers. The captured sergeant refused absolutely any information.”

When the situation after the counter-attack was fully known the 142nd Brigade was withdrawn, and Brigadier-General Kennedy was put in charge of the Brown Line, reinforcing it where necessary with his own troops from the 140th Brigade. A second attack on the Green Line was made at 1 a.m. on August 24th by the 140th Brigade and the 175th Brigade of the 58th Division, lent to us for the purpose. The assembly was carried out by moonlight, assisted by the capture by the 141st Brigade of some offensive enemy machine-gun posts. This night attack surprised the enemy and was a complete success. A little difficulty occurred on the extreme left, where the 12th Division was hindered by machine-guns, but General Kennedy sent a tank to deal with these, and the 15th Battalion filled the gap which threatened between the two Divisions.

After this operation, the front was handed over to the 58th Division, under whom the 140th Brigade took part in a further advance of 2,000 yards on August 25th, and captured many prisoners.

Then followed three days of rest, refitting, and reinforcement from the Divisional camp, and on August 29th we moved forward to relieve the 12th Division in the line west of Maurepas, and to continue the advance.

We now took our place in a constantly moving battle. Ordered reliefs were impossible, and the 142nd Brigade, which was to lead our advance, simply passed through the 12th Division at 6 a.m. on August 30th, and moved forward as an advance guard, a brigade group complete with R.F.A. and cavalry attached. The line of the advance was due east, and on the right the 24th Battalion went well ahead, but had to wait for the further advance of the 58th Division before they could get over the high ground south-east of Hospital Wood.

The 22nd Battalion on the left met with stronger opposition, especially from Priez Farm and Rancourt, as did the 18th Division farther north. At the end of the day all three battalions were in a line tilted towards south-east and north-west to conform with the position of the Divisions on our flanks. There had been some hard fighting owing to the presence of a newly-arrived German Division, the 232nd. Its quality was not remarkably good, however, and the moral of prisoners taken in large numbers later on fell distinctly low.

But the presence of a fresh Division of the enemy, and his clear intention of fighting for the high ground west of the Canal du Nord, put an end for the time to the idea of pursuing with an advance guard. A methodical advance under barrage was planned instead.

On August 31st, the 47th Division had merely to swing forward on the right flank to conform with an advance of the 58th Division and Australian Corps. The 142nd Brigade closed in to the left, and the 141st Brigade on the right formed the lower end of the pendulum. The former gained most of their objective during the night by peaceful penetration, and the 141st Brigade moved forward successfully at 5.30 a.m. under a creeping barrage, and gained all the ground required, together with 184 prisoners. The morning was diversified by a determined counter-attack made by a battalion of the German 13th Reserve Division from Rancourt towards Le Foret and Priez Farm. A part of this attack reached our 18th Battalion and a company of the 19th which had been hastily moved up, and it was completely repulsed after brisk hand to hand fighting; the rest was caught by artillery barrage and direct machine-gun fire and did not reach our line.

The advance went ahead next day, turned slightly north-east to prepare for a wide encircling movement from the south intended by the IIIrd Corps. The objective was the west edge of St. Pierre Vaast Wood. The 141st Brigade on the right, and the 140th on the left, successfully took this line with many prisoners, and a motor ambulance complete with driver and two doctors, which fell into the hands of the 140th Brigade at Rancourt.

During the morning, it was found that the enemy still held Priez Farm, which was on the left of our line, at its junction with that of the 18th Division. The 142nd Trench-mortar Battery and two platoons of the 23rd Battalion were ordered to deal with them. A hurricane bombardment by Stokes mortars was directed on the point, after which the garrison was captured. Eighty of them were taken by Captain Blofeld and one man of his battery.

The operations of September 2nd were designed on a more elaborate plan, in which the role of the 47th Division was subsidiary to an extensive attack by the 74th (Dismounted Yeomanry) Division, with Nurlu as its objective. The 142nd Brigade was to secure the south-west edge of Vaux Wood and Monastir Trench, which ran south-east from its lowest point, while the 140th Brigade was to form a defensive flank to the 74th Division, running east-north-east from the southern end of the 142nd Brigade’s objective across the canal towards Nurlu. The Divisional southern boundary thus ran clear north of the village of Moislains, but the occupation of their objective by the 140th Brigade obviously presupposed the capture of that place.

The preparations of the Division for this operation were unusual, but very successful. Brigadier-General Mildren was made responsible for holding the existing front and, as his brigade was weak and busy with consolidation, he employed four companies of machine-guns which were placed at his disposal to hold this line. The 140th Brigade moved back west of the Peronne-Bapaume road, where they had time for food and a short rest before starting to move forward at dawn. Meanwhile, the 142nd Brigade came up from rest near Le Foret and assembled in the line of their advance. A very dark night made these moves difficult, but they were accomplished without mistake.

The 142nd Brigade started at 5.30 a.m. under barrage, and in spite of considerable opposition made good a line of trench (Sorrowitz Trench), which continued northwards to Moislains Trench, running west of the village. They captured many prisoners on their way, and a complete battery of 77-mm. guns. Here Captain C.H. Oakley, of the 22nd, was killed – a very gallant young officer who bad won his way up until he was second-in-command of his battalion.

It was in this advance that Pte. Jack Harvey of the 22nd Battalion won the Victoria Cross. His company was checked soon after the start by machine-gun fire, whereupon Pte. Harvey ran forward through our own barrage and in face of heavy fire rushed a machine-gun post, shooting two of the team and bayoneting a third. He put the gun out of action, and then made his way along the trench until he came to a dugout, into which he dashed and compelled the surrender of its thirty-seven occupants. These he relieved of much useful property as they filed out of the dugout. In the course of his action Pte. Harvey had dropped a bag of rations which it was his duty as company cook to carry, but he managed to find another, which he duly delivered to his officer some hours later.

The 142nd Brigade could not make good the last 500 yards of their intended advance on the right in face of the opposition from Moislains on the flank; and the fact that Moislains and its vicinity were not clear of the enemy prevented the 140th Brigade from carrying out the task allotted to them, which was to follow the leading brigade of the 74th Division and to make a defensive flank across the canal covering their further advance from attack from the north.

As it turned out all three battalions of the 140th Brigade were engaged heavily as they moved down the slope towards Moislains, and it was with great difficulty that they established themselves in Moislains Trench, west of the village. This was indeed some of the hardest fighting during the whole advance of the Division, and it was all the more difficult owing to the fact that the brigade was officially not fighting, but following up a successful attack over ground outside the Divisional boundary.

In the centre Lieut.-Colonel Fielding’s 15th Battalion lost half its strength in casualties, and was at one time being attacked from the left rear and right front, and by a bombing party in Moislains Trench itself. Similarly Lieut.-Colonel Dawes, on the right, had to meet opposition on both his flanks and from the village at once. But the line of Moislains Trench was consolidated, and the exposed right flank protected by a battery of machine-guns.

Further progress north of the Division released the 141st Brigade, and the Pioneer Battalion cleared St. Pierre Vaast Wood and assisted the 142nd Brigade in their consolidation. The 140th Brigade were relieved as soon as possible by the 142nd Brigade and by troops of the 74th Division, and withdrew to rest near Maurepas.

The IIIrd Corps now waited upon developments on the right, where the Australians were attacking Mont St. Quentin, and there was little activity on September 3rd and 4th beyond active patrolling in the neighbourhood of the Canal du Nord – or rather, the canal cutting, for it contained no water below the lock north-east of Moislains, but seemed rather to be a repository for dead horses and other refuse. On the night 3rd-4th, the enemy finally left the village. On September 5th, the 142nd Brigade was holding the line of the Canal due east of Moislains.

At 5.30 a.m., the 141st Brigade, with gunners, cavalry and cyclists attached, started advancing through this line towards the Nurlu ridge. A check occurred on the right, and a factory and some quarries straight ahead were inconvenient obstacles. It was decided to attack again under barrage in the evening, and at 7 p.m. in a violent thunderstorm the 140th and 141st Brigades pushed on without difficulty to the top of the ridge. An enterprising battery of the 112th Brigade R.F.A. had crossed the canal in the afternoon and gave the infantry useful support at that range.

The same two brigades moved on at dawn on September 6th. Little opposition was met, and by the end of the day a line was established east of Lieramont. Forward sections of guns had good targets as the enemy withdrew before our advance.

That same evening, the 58th Division came up by ‘bus to relieve us, and, on the following day, the 140th and 141st Brigade were carried back to Heilly and Corbie, while the 142nd Brigade marched to Clery and thence by ‘bus to Mericourt L’Abbaye. Three days later the whole Division was settled in the Fifth Army area.

The work of the pioneers during these operations was mainly conducted under the C.R.E., and consisted in following hard on the heels of the advancing infantry and hastily making tracks fit for artillery and wheeled transport across the devastated area of the old Somme battlefield.

There were occasional diversions, however – for example, that already mentioned, when, on September 2nd, the battle line became comparatively stationary owing to the presence of enemy machine-guns in the depths of St. Pierre Vaast Wood, and the 4th R.W.F. were suddenly ordered to desist from their normal activities and “mop up” the wood.

This minor operation was conducted successfully, and by 8 p.m. the wood was reported clear. Three snipers were rounded up and the advance continued.

With the construction of crossings over the Canal du Nord, and of artillery tracks thence forward towards Lieramont and Nurlu, there came an end to a period of three weeks’ strenuous and highly successful work by the engineers and pioneers. Owing to the hastiness of the advance their achievements often passed unnoticed, but they were no mean contribution to the final victory.

By this time, the ranks of the Division were much reduced in numbers and further reinforcements were not forthcoming. The operations in which it was to take part afterwards, consisting of a holding attack on the Lille front, were of secondary importance and out of the area of the decisive battle.

It was appropriate enough that the Somme should be our last battlefield, still more so that it should be the scene of our most obvious success, by the crude measurement of ground won from the enemy. For we owed the Germans a double debt on that field, of six months’ and of two years’ standing. And it was appropriate that it fell to the gunners to fight again over the very ground of our old battles, for a greater proportion of them than of the infantry knew the ground of old, and their weapons were perhaps the best able to pay back with interest what the Germans had given us before. There was frequent opportunity for this repayment, and it was not neglected.

From August 13th to September 4th, the brigades of the Divisional Artillery were supporting the 18th Division in the north sector of the Corps’ front. Lieut.-Colonel Aschwanden was commanding the 235th Brigade, and Major Cooper had temporary command of the 236th Brigade. Brig.-General Whitley and his staff remained with the 47th Division throughout. The very successful advance of the 18th Division took them approximately due east through Albert, and our gunners renewed their acquaintance with La Boisselle, Contalmaison, Longueval, Combles and many other such desolate spots known by the names of villages. Several officers of the 236th Brigade inhabited the same dugouts in Caterpillar Valley that they had lived in in 1916, and were there greeted by the same kind of barrage that they had met before.

The battery commanders of the same brigade had a narrow escape from capture at Longueval crossroads, when the “village” was temporarily retaken by the enemy – an incident strangely reminiscent of March, 1918. The tables were very completely turned when the Germans were driven in retreat down the Sailly Saillisel valley and Captain Ryder was able to turn his guns on their transport massed on the very roads along which ours had retreated six months earlier.

It is difficult to do justice to the great enterprise and energy of the gunners during this advance. They never failed to do all and more than the infantry asked, and they did this in the face of peculiar difficulties. Water was scarce, for the Somme was far from the north sector, and the pumping plants supplied only enough to water the animals twice a day. At the same time the demand kept all available transport working at the highest pressure. In spite of the rapid advance, creeping barrages were asked for almost daily, and it is most creditable to all concerned that the ammunition did not fail. Not less creditable was the arrangement of barrage lines at short notice which often deprived battery officers of their small chances of sleep.

Meanwhile, the enemy had abundance of ammunition of all kinds, since he was constantly retiring upon his dumps, and a large share of this fell on the battery positions during the first few days of the advance. On the night of August 21st-22nd, for instance, D/236th Battery had their commander and thirty-five men out of action from gas shell poured upon the position from which they were bound to support the infantry attack; two days later the 235th Brigade needed much skill and some luck to cross the Ancre successfully in Albert; and later on a collection of batteries which had converged at Government Farm was drenched with mustard gas.

There were many smaller instances in which the enemy’s harassing fire with shell of various weight and type tested the determination of the gunners very severely. Among a good many casualties mention must be made of the serious loss to the Division in the death of Major P.J. Clifton, D.S.O., commanding A/235th Battery, who was mortally wounded early on August 26th, before the attack on Montauban. Major Clifton had served with us throughout the war, and was well known for his energy and his daring leadership.

The continued fine weather was greatly in our favour, and heightened the contrast between this battle and the muddy fighting of 1916. Roads and tracks could be used which rain would have turned to quagmires, and the dry ground and shelters offered comfortable sleep whenever the chance came. But things moved so fast that every man and beast was used to the utmost. The habit of fixed warfare was still an impediment to many, and a large part of the infantry, now engaged in active fighting for the first time, had not in their minds the peculiarly encouraging contrast of present conditions with less hopeful times. Yet it was everything to know that things were really moving at last. And it was no mere “walkover.” The Germans were there in plenty, and they were being beaten, and no one dreamed now of settling down again to old manners of trench war. A steady flow of prisoners came in, and many machine-guns and larger weapons were captured by the Division.*

Perhaps the change in our warfare is best indicated by the fact that Divisional Headquarters, generally supposed to be an immobile unit, moved forward about every other day during the last ten days of the advance, and the Camp Commandant, faced with the problem of almost nightly pitching his moving tent, was not the least anxious man in the Division.

Communications were simplified by the daily establishment of an advanced Divisional Headquarters near the commander of the leading brigade, and there was a suggestion of other more normal campaigns when, from the high ground west of Moislains, the Divisional Commander was able to watch the progress of the advance up the further side of the valley. If there has been little or no personal reference to General Gorringe in this narrative, it is for the simple reason that he throughout so identified himself with all the interests of his Division, and was so constantly and personally in touch with its operations, that any of us who were lucky enough to serve under him associate him inevitably with every mention of the 47th Division.