A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 252

The home of the Lonsdale Battalion 1914-1918
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Not Proofread. The contents of this page needs to be proofread. Currently, there are multiple typos / OCR errors that require attention.
THE BRITISH RETREAT


a^bout this time the German battalions began to advance in thick masses, and offered a target which was taken advantage of with great effect by artillery and infantry. The Germans quickly ^led their gaps and continued to advance, but in the main they were checked by the excellence of British marksmanship. Oji the right centre of the line attacks developed somewhat later, but early in the morning the village of Caudry was very heavily bombarded, and German troops advanced against the village. In this section, however, they were at first held (by the 7th infantry brigade) without difficulty. OntheleftwingthedaybeganunhappilyfortheBritish. As has been said, the 4th division had no proper means of recon- naissance, and had to rely on the reports of French cavalry which they could not check. French patrols, it is said, had reported the front clear, and certain units, notably a battalion of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry", were caught unawares in close formation by intensive machine gun fire. This battalion lost half its strength before it could be extricated. Large bodies of German troops made their appearance between Wambaix and Catteni^res on the 12th infantry brigade front, but despite enfilading fire and a vast superiority in machine guns and numbers, their attack was resisted for an hour and a halh A single brigade was holding a German cavalry division, two Jager battalions and a mass of machine guns and artillery. But a short retirement at last became necessary, and the J2th brigade was withdrawn to a line Ligny-Esnes. Once re-established, the 14th brigade R.F.A. and the 12th infantry brigade stood fast, and may be said at this time to have repulsed a heavy German attack. Also the way was left open for a still further retirement of the 4th division when it became necessary. Meanwhile, the nth infantry brigade to the west of Caudry was holding its positions, but the Germans offered little or no target, counting probably on the early retirement of the brigade or the possibility of surrounding it, Up to this stage of the battle, which had been proceeding for six hours, the 2nd corps had maintained its ground along the whole front, but the position gave cause for the gravest anxiety, and the developments of the afternoon were to prove that this was well founded. To return to the right of the line, the 5th division was under the fire, direct and enfilade, of at least three German divisions. .The question of immediate retirement was discussed between Sir

← 251   ·   252   ·   253 →
(page index)