25 March 1918

At dawn on Monday, the remnants of A and B Companies were still in position between Buverchy and Breuil on the canal bank, Captain Jee’s detachment was dug in on the road north of Nesle, while the handful of survivors from D Company were at Bussy, along with other stragglers from a variety of regiments. Lieutenant-Colonel Hayes and Lieutenant Cooke were sent to the rear to Languevoisin to direct operations strengthening the line. The combined remnants of A and B companies fought a retreat during the evening from Breuil, through Cressy to Roye. Hayes was now suffering badly from the effects of gas and was evacuated to Rouen. Captain Sear took charge of the battalion. Early on 25March, a mixed force, made up of remnants from the 20th, 61st and 8th divisions, managed to form a defensive line, but found its left continuously outflanked by the pressure of the German advance and were constantly pressed back. During the afternoon there was a further general retreat around Nesle and by 9.45 p.m. the divisional HQ had retired to Roye.

Captain Jee’s Detachment

For about three hours from 7.30 am, Captain Jee’s men, along with other units from 20th Division, remained under the overall command of Major Storr. They were forced to retire after the Royal Berkshire regiment were driven back on their left, and made their way from Nesle towards Roye. The DLI split into two parties, with Captain Jee on the left and 2nd Lieutenant R. H. King on the right, either side of the road. French reinforcements arrived about 11 a.m. and, with the DLI men, jointly manned an outpost line 200 yards south west of the Herly-Billancourt road. At 5 pm the Germans attacked again and the DLI provided covering fire to allow the French to retire before falling back and joining them at Réthonvillers.

D Company

Before dawn, at 3 am on the 25th, Lieutenant Cooper was advised that the retreat was in full swing in the sector. He and the four survivors from D Company set off and reached Roye in the afternoon.

The day’s end

The situation late on 25March saw the 20th Division holding the line Cressy – Billancourt -Réthonvillers, with 60th Brigade on the right, 59th Brigade on the left and HQ at Roye. The 61st Brigade rejoined at Gruny late in the evening and took up a position on the left towards Liancourt. The 20th Division was now being reinforced by French forces and was placed under the GOC, 133rd French Division, who had taken command of the line south of the Somme. The plan was for 20th Division to retreat to Le Quesnel to establish new lines of defence, while the French held the line to the south.

Four men were killed during this day. Of these Francis Boynton, Thomas Kear and Sergeant James Pickering are commemorated at Pozières. Private J. McGill from West Hartlepool is buried at Bouchoir New British Cemetery. Private George Brown and Sergeant J. Hopkinson (D Company), who had been wounded previously and evacuated, died of their wounds at the hospital in Rouen and are buried at St Sever Cemetery Extension. Sergeant T.H. Packard also died, probably as a prisoner of the Germans, as he is buried at Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery behind what had been their lines.

 

 

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