4TH Battalion, The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) in the Great War 1914 - 1919
THE FINAL ADVANCE
III. The 1/4th Battalion in the Battles of Cambrai and The Sambre, 1918
The changes which the Battalion found at Boiry-Becque-relle in the few days which had elapsed since its last rest there were truly astonishing. The rapidity of the advance had released Boiry from risk of bombardment by all except long range guns, and the necessity for the supply services to keep pace with the fighting troops in their progress eastward had already resulted in a complete meta- morphosis of the Boyelles-Boiry area. Already Boyelles Station was a hive of industry, and trains were daily entering it from Arras with supplies. In Boiry-Becquerelle itself, which had been in German hands till the 23rd August, the l/4th Londons were able to enjoy the luxury of baths and clean clothing on the 2nd September.
The few days' rest obtained here were passed pleasantly amid fine weather in refitting and reorganisation ; and the Battalion was fortunately able on the 4th September to commemorate the fourth anniversary of its departure from England. Companies were now commanded as follows : A by Capt. H. N. Williams, M.C. ; B by Capt. L. L. Watts, M.M. ; C by Capt. C. L. Henstridge, M.C. ; and D by Capt. T. B. Cooper, M.C, M.M.
About this time the Battalion Transport, which had been stationed at Boisleux St Marc, was divided into two echelons, of which A was the fighting and B the supply portion. These two echelons were respectively commanded by Lieut. G. V. Lawrie, M.C, and Lieut. G. E. Stanbridge. Although as a rule the two portions moved together, they were each self-contained and ready to operate separately in case of a sudden and rapid advance.
In the meantime the remainder of the XVII Corps was busily chasing the enemy through Queant, Pronville and down the Arras-Cambrai Road to a point between Villers-lez-Cagnicourt and Buissy. After a warning order to the 56th Division to move forward again into the Corps area of battle, arrangements Avere suddenly changed — as on numerous other occasions — and on the 5th September the Division was transferred to the XXII Corps (Godley) of the First Army, with orders to relieve the 1st Division in the line.
East of Vis-en-Artois and south of Douai is a stretch of country well watered by numerous streams, and intersected by many ponds and marshes. At EterjDigny the Cojeul and Sensee Rivers Join, and thus augmented the Sensee expands at Etaing into M'hat is practically a chain of lakes. Augmented by the Trinquis River and connected by it to the Scarpe, the Sensee flows eastward past Lecluse, Palluel and Aubigny-au-Bac. At Palluel it receives on its right, or south, bank the equally marshy streams of the Agache and the Hirondelle and is intersected by the northern extremity of the Canal du Nord, which here links up with the Canal de la Sensee. This last-named Canal runs southward from Douai to Arleux and then turning eastward down the river valley joins the Canal de I'Escaut. The whole area thus constitutes a thoroughly complicated system of waterways and marshes which form barriers of very great natural strength to an advance,
The Sensee marshes from Etaing to Palluel had formed the left flank of the Canadian Corps advance in its break through the Drocourt-Queant line during the Battle of the Scarpe, and now formed a natural defensive flank, facing northwards, to our advanced positions on the Canal du Nord. In this area the 56th Division relieved the 1st Division. On the evening of the 7th September, after a a halt of one night at Vis-en-Artois, the l/4th Londons took over the positions of the 2nd Royal Sussex on a front from Eterpigny Wood to a point east of Etaing. The line was continued to Lecluse by the Kensingtons and thence by the 169th Brigade.
The Battalion was noAv in country which hitherto had been in German hands for the whole of the War, and the devastated area was left behind. Villages were still standing and houses furnished. Indeed, the civilians had still been in occupation of them during the battle but had now been moved to the rear by the French Mission. Trenches in the ordinary sense were here non-existent and the front was held by a series of outposts along the line of the Sensee with sentry posts dug in small pits behind the cover of trees and bushes. D, B, and C Companies were in line, with A and Headquarters on the hill above Etaing,
Life in this sector was comparatively uneventful. The defences were improved and a great deal of useful patrolling work carried out in the endeavour to locate fords or other means of crossing the swamps in front. For his excellent reconnaissances and reports Sergt. Heyes, M.M., received commendation .
The previous occupants of the line had evidently been cautious in the use of their transport in forward areas, for rations and stores were dumped each night at a cross-road about 2000 yards in rear of the line ; a course involving the nightly labours of some 70 men for carrying duties. The l/4th Londons altered this and had limbers at night up to the front line without any mishap, thus saving an immense amount of fatigue and trouble to everyone.
After reorganising the outpost line to a strength of two companies the Battalion handed over its positions on the evening of the 12th September to the 1st Londons (167th Brigade), and concentrating at St Rohart Factory on the Arras-Cambrai Road were 'bussed back to Feuchy where they occupied shelters in Battery Valley, an area which a month previously they had held as a front line !
In this area a good deal of useful training with rifle and Lewis gun was put in, and a friendly boxing tournament with the London Scottish one evening afforded a pleasant relaxation. The Battalion was here joined by a large draft of officers, including Lieuts. A. Bath and T. R. Fletcher, and 2/Lieuts. Bradley, R. D. Bushell, J. Coley, P. W. Green and S. P. Ferdinando ; and 2/Lieut. S. W. Neville (7th Londons) attached.
Lieut. E. P. M. Mosely's diary for this period affords an excellent illustration of the care taken to maintain the discipline of the Battalion at a high standard by the application of " peace-time " methods whenever the situation allowed :
. . . This sound principle was the means of preventing officers and men from degenerating into the " Ole Bill " type — a type which jDrobably existed nowhere except in caricature. At Feuehy the Battalion was resting. The enemy had been swept back and had left just a desolate landscape, a smashed railway bridge and a collection of shell holes. The accommodation for officers and men consisted of holes in the ground roofed with tarpaulins and cuttings in the embankment which carried what was left of the railway line.
Notwithstanding the entire lack of civilised comforts, at 7.30 in the evenings, standing on the battered arch of the bridge which once carried the line over Spider Corner, a Battalion buglar would sound " Dress for Mess." Officers would then scurry into their holes and half an hour later emerge in slacks, well-groomed, and enter the mess, a white-washed elephant shelter, and partake of a five-course dinner with all customary mess etiquette.
On the 19th September the 168th Brigade returned to the line. The Corps boundaries were being now re-arranged and the 56th Division was being side-stepped to its right, a change which was effected by handing over a portion of its left to the 4th Division and extending its right over the front hitherto held by the 3rd Canadian Division. The additional frontage on the right was allotted to the 168th Brigade, which, after the relief, held a sector east of Ecourt St Quentin, with the London Scottish on the right and the l/4th Londons on the left. The Brigade's left flank was secured by the 167th Brigade, which, facing north-east, held the area from Ecourt St Quentin to Lecluse.
The l/4th Londons' sector consisted of a line of out-posts some 500 yards west of the Canal du Nord, of which both banks were held in force by the Germans, from the Sauchy-Cauchy Road on the right, as far as Mill Copse (inclusive to the enemy), where the line bent back and facing north-east lay astride the Hirondelle River, the village of Ecovirt St Quentin being inclusive to us. This line of outposts was held by two companies with Head-quarters in a cottage east of Osvillers Lake, while two companies were in support in front of Rumaucourt.
The Battalion was unfortunate on the night of the relief in losing 2/Lieut. A. Cartmell, wounded, while 2/Lieut. S. W. Neville was killed early the following morning.
Like the Etaing area, this sector was marshy and intersected in all directions by dykes and streams. On the opposite bank of the Canal, the right flank around Sauchy-Cauchy was equally swampy ; but opposite the centre and left the whole of our area was well under observation from a considerable hill on which stood Oisy-le-Verger — looking like a second Monchy — and the Bois de Quesnoy.
In this sector the artillery on both sides was continually active, though on the enemy's part activity was chiefly confined to counter-battery work. The Battalion was especially active at night in conducting reconnaissances of the ground in front, and some useful information was obtained. Very little was seen of the enemy's infantry, though on two nights he succeeded by stealth in stealing the garrison of one of our advanced posts, his second attempt being rendered successful by the artifice of approaching the post in the guise of deserters.
We must now turn for a moment to the general situation and must briefly consider once more the results achieved by the Battles of Bapaume and of the Scarpe in order to appreciate the further development of the offensive.
In commenting on the achievements of the British Armies in the Battle of Bapaume Sir Douglas Haig in his despatches draws attention to the steady deterioration of the enemy's morale and the increasing lack of organisation in his defence :
The urgent needs of the moment, the wide extent of front attacked and consequent uncertainty as to where the next blow would fall, and the extent of his losses, had forced the enemy to throw in his reserves piecemeal as they arrived on the battle front. On many occasions in the course of the fighting elements of the same German division had been identified on widely separated parts of the battle front.
In such circumstances a sudden and successful blow, of weight sufficient to break through the northern hinge of the defences on which he was to fall back, might produce results of great importance.
This anticipation of the Commander-in-Chief was amply fulfilled by the rapid retreat of the enemy towards the Hindenburg line during the first week of September after the close of the Battle of the Scarpe.
After hard fighting at Havrineourt and Epehy during the third week of September the enemy was definitely within his Hindenburg defences as far north as Havrincourt, north of which he had been pushed beyond them to the line of the Canal du Nord. On the 12th September the Americans drove the enemy out of the St Mihiel salient, and it was decided in discussion between Sir Douglas Haig and Marshal Foch that as soon as possible four vigorous and simultaneous attacks should be launched : by the Americans in the direction of Mezieres ; by the French in Argonne with the same general objectives ; by the British in the direction of Maubeuge ; and by Belgian and Allied Forces in Flanders towards Ghent.
By these attacks, says Sir Douglas Haig, it was expected that the important German forces opposite the French and Americans would be pressed back upon the difficult country of the Ardennes while the British thrust at their main communications.
The long continued blows delivered by the British Armies, although enormously successful, had placed a great strain on the troops, and their losses, though small in proportion to the enemy's and to the results achieved, were in the aggregate considerable. The Hindenburg positions were known to be strongly defended, and an unsuccessful attack on them would have a serious political effect and inevitably revive the declining German morale. An important crisis in the War had been reached and it was essential that the success of the British in this new attack should be decisive. After weighing the various considerations involved Sir Douglas Haig states :
... I was convinced that the British attack was the essential part of the general scheme and that the moment was favourable. Accordingly I decided to proceed with the attack. . . .
The battle, which opened on the British front on the 27th September (Battle of Cambrai, 1918), culminated on the 5th October in the capture of all the Hindenburg trenches and of such isolated trench systems as lay in rear of it.
The part of the 56th Division in this great battle was the crossing of the Canal du Nord. This strong natural obstacle was considered to be too stubbornly held to yield to frontal attack on a wide area ; and the general plan was therefore for the Canadian Corps to cross it on a narrow front north of Moeuvres and then spreading out fanwise to extend the gains north and south on the east bank.
The 1st Canadian Division, on the left of the Canadian Corps and adjoining the right of the 56th Division, was to cross the Canal south of the Arras-Cambrai Road and carry the line forward to Haynecourt. After this the 56th Division, astride the Canal on a front as far east as Sauchi-court Farm, with the 11th Division on its right, would attack northwards towards Oisy-le-Verger and the Sensee River at Palluel.
The 56th Division attack was entrusted east of the Canal to the 169th Brigade and west of it to the Kensingtons of the 168th Brigade. The London Scottish and l/4th Londons in line had thus the peculiar experience of the attack actually crossing their front from right to left.
At 5.30 a.m. on the 27th September the crash of the barrage announced the opening of the Canadian Corps attack. The enemy's retaliation was slight and had practically ceased by 6 a.m. The l/4th Londons' area was occupied by eight brigades of field guns engaged in firing a flank barrage to the main attack until 2.48 p.m., when they were to switch on a creeping barrage for the attack northwards along the Canal. Additional flank protection was furnished by six companies of machine-guns also in our area. In view of this heavy barrage and the possibility of severe retaliation the l/4th Londons' outpost line was thinned out to two platoons in charge of Lieut. T. R. Fletcher, the remainder of the front companies being withdrawn to the support position.
The Canadian attack went well, but very stiff opposition was encountered in Marquion, so that the 56th Division attack from the Blue line had to be postponed from 2.48 p.m. to 3.28 p.m. Excellent work was done by the 512th and 513th Field Companies, R.E. (56th Division), in bridging the Canal at Marquion.
During the morning the l/4th Londons' front seemed to be clear, and an officer's patrol under 2/Lieut. O. C. Hudson was sent forward to reconnoitre the enemy positions along the Agache River, which were found to be unoccupied.
At 3.28 p.m. the Kensingtons commenced their attack and progressed without difficulty as far as their first objective, the east and west road through Sauchy-Cauchy. North of this, however, they were met with stubborn resistance from machine-guns in Mill Copse and the marshes east of the Canal. Owing to the restricted avenues of advance through the marsh — there were only two possible routes to Mill Copse — the Kensingtons' attack was checked at about 6.30 p.m. some 500 yards south of the Copse. Excellent information was brought to Headquarters by 2/Lieut. A. M. Bullock as to the situation not only of the Kensingtons but also of the 169th Brigade east of the Canal.
About 5.50 p.m. C and D Companies began to re-establish the almost vacated outpost line, and later in the evening D Company was ordered to endeavour to assist the Kensingtons by pushing through to the Agache River and if possible by working round the Copse. By shortly after 11 p.m. reports were received that D Company had established four posts in touch with the Kensingtons. Mill Copse, however, was still in the enemy hands.
On the right of the Canal the 109th Brigade was also held up by stubborn macliine-guns, and it was not till 8 a.m. the following morning that they were fully in possession of their final objective.
In view of the check on both banks the reserve company of the Kensingtons was ordered to clear up the situation as soon as the moon rose, and at 2 a.m. this company advanced astride the Canal as far as Mill Copse, which it found unoccupied. The Kensingtons then organised in depth, having reached their final objective at the surprisingly small cost of nine other ranks wounded.
The prosecution of the advance was ordered for the 28th September, and the l/4th Londons were detailed to carry the 168th Brigade line forward on the west bank of the Canal towards Palluel, while on the east the 169th Brigade was to advance to the Sensee River.
During the night Battalion Headquarters was persistently shelled from its left rear by guns across the Sensee, with mustard gas.
At 9.30 a.m. D Company, with one platoon of A Company attached, began the advance northward to Palluel in the narrow gut of land between the Canal and the marshes and ponds of the Hirondelle River. Lieut.-Col. Marchment, 2/Lieut. Bullock, Sergeants Randall and Heyes and a few signallers followed in the attack, communication with Headquarters being maintained by a running wire all the way. Very little opposition was met with, and Capt. Cooper, with Lieut. Fletcher and 2/Lieut. Millstead, was soon established on the bridges at Palluel, where touch was gained with C Company and with patrols of the 8th Middlesex (167th Brigade) which occupied the village and advanced beyond it towards Arleux.
The whole 168th Brigade front being now confined to this narrow tongue of land its area was handed over to the 167th Brigade, and the l/4th Londons withdrew to reserve positions at Rumaucourt. This move was completed by 9.15 p.m. on the 28th September.
This successful operation had been effected at very slight loss, the total casualties of the Division having been only 341 all ranks, while the l/4th London losses for the whole of September were the happily small total of 30 other ranks in addition to the two officers already mentioned.
During these two days' fighting the 11th Division on the right had also met with considerable success, and on the evening of the 30th September the 168th Brigade was ordered back to the line to take over the positions gained by the left Brigade (the 34th) of the 11th Division. The advanced positions, which extended from the sharp bend in the Sensee Canal south of Brunemont on the left to a point opposite Aubencheul-au-Bac on the right, were occupied by the London Scottish and the Kensingtons.
The l/4th Londons, who marched from Rumaucourt at 9 p.m. on the 30th September, relieved the 2nd Manchesters in the support area, on the high ground south of Oisy-le -Verger and east of Sauchy-Lestree.
The dispositions in this area were far from good, all the companies being rather mixed up in the railway cutting near the Bois dcs Puits ; and on the following day Lieut.-Col. Marchment effected a redistribution of the Battalion, moving C and D Companies to Cemetery Wood and B Company to Battalion Headquarters near the Aubencheul Road, while A Company remained at the Bois des Puits. For five days the Battalion was busily employed in nightly working parties, digging a line of support posts across the ridge south of Oisy-le-Verger as far east as the old German dump at the cross-roads towards Epinoy. This dump proved to be a rather popular spot for it was found to be amply supplied with large bottles of Seltzer water. Probably a good number of these was taken on unofficial charge of the Battalion.
On the evening of the 5th October the l/4th Londons took over the right subsection from the London Scottish, on the slope of the hill overlooking Aubencheul and the railway triangle. Hostile activity was slight on the 6th October, and from observation it seemed that the enemy was holding Aubencheul very lightly ; in the afternoon orders were received to test the situation with patrols and if possible to penetrate the village and occupy the Canal bank north of it. Considerable fires observed during the morning in Aubigny-au-Bac contributed to the supposition that the vacation by the enemy of Aubencheul, if not already accomplished, Avas at least imminent.
B Company (Lieut. H. F. Dade) was detailed for the work, and at 7 p.m. No. 7 Platoon, with Lieut. A. M. Bullock, Intelligence Officer, and 4 Headquarters scouts attached, left advanced Battalion Headquarters to try to enter the village and reach the railway bridge over the Canal. The other platoons stood in readiness to move forward if required. By 10.15 p.m. information was received that the platoon was in the village without having met with any of the enemy, and accordingly Nos. 5 and 8 Platoons were at once ordered to move forward to form posts at the railway crossing and the Aubigny-au-Bac Road bridge and to find touch with the 11th Division on the right. These operations were successfully accomplished, though the enemy gave evidence of his occupation of the north end of the bridges.
By 4 a.m. on the 7th October the occupation of the village was complete with two platoons which were in touch with the 2nd Yorkshires (4th Division) on the right, one platoon in the railway cutting south of the village and one still in the old outpost line. No casualties had been sustained.
The following day the l/4th Londons took over the whole Brigade front, C Company (Capt. C. L. Henstridge, M.C.) on the right, A Company (Capt. L. L. Watts, M.M.) in the centre and D Company (Lieut. T. R. Fletcher) on the left. B Company (Lieut. H. F. Dade) was withdrawn to support. The outposts consisted of a line of sentry posts on the Canal with a line of resistance about 400 yards in rear. A reserve line was occupied on the spurs overlooking the Canal north and east of Oisy-le-Verger. Company Headquarters were located in captured German battery positions, and D Company becamx the possessors of a complete battery of 8 -inch Germ.an howitzers which had been taken on the 27th September.
The first phase of the great British offensive may now be said to have been brought to a conclusion. In the nine days' fighting between the 27th September and the 5th Otcober, the First, Third and Fourth Armies had shattered the enemy's last prepared hnes of defence. The line of the Canal du Nord had been crossed and left far behind, and the whole of the main Hindenburg defences were in our hands. " The effect of the victory," writes Sir Douglas Haig in his despatches, " on the subsequent course of the campaign was decisive. The threat to the enemy's communications was now direct and instant, for nothing but the natural obstacles of a wooded and well-watered countryside lay between our Armies and Maubeuge.
In this fighting 30 British and 2 American infantry divisions and 1 British cavalry division had met and defeated 39 German divisions at a loss to the enemy of 36,000 prisoners a.nd 380 guns !
The effect of the advance of our Armies on this front now rendered the enemy's positions in the Lys area precarious. Already on the 28th September the Second Army, attacking on a wide front about Ypres, had carried forward our positions in one day a greater distance than had been gained in the whole of the dreary struggles for Passchendaele in 1917. By the 1st October Messines had again been liberated and our troops were approaching Gheluve and Werwicq. On the 2nd October the enemy initiated a general withdrawal on the front from Lens to Armentieres.
We have now to follow the course of the second phase of the British advance — the final phase of the War. In this great operation the Fourth and Third Armies and the right of the First Army advanced with their left flank on the Canal from Cambrai to Mons and their right flank covered by our French Allies.
The first stage of this series of battles opened on the 8th October with a vast drive by the Third and Fourth Armies in the direction of Le Cateau. The success of the operation was complete, but we are only concerned with the point that it involved the fall of Cambrai on the 9th October.
This continued advance of the British in the south exposed in increasing measure the flank of the enemy north of the Sensee, and great developments were therefore to be expected shortly in the XXII Corps area. Already the enemy was reported to be withdrawing from his positions in the corner between the Canal de la Sensee and the Canal de I'Escaut, which had been crossed by the Canadians as far north as Ramillies ; and to relieve the 11th Division to pursue this movement the 168th Brigade extended its right with the Kensingtons as far as Fressies, which village was to be occupied immediately after the completion of the relief. This was on the 9th October.
The possibility of an early German retirement north of the Sensee also called for great vigilance, and the l/4th Londons were ordered to probe the situation towards Brunemont and Aubigny-au-Bac, while units of the 167th Brigade were feeling towards Arleux.
The only way to cross the Canal, short of swimming or using a boat, was to use the ruined iron bridges at Aubencheul and Abbaye-du-Verger Farm, and accordingly small patrols, covered by parties on the south bank, began to cross the bridges at about 5 p.m. on the 9th October. Results were soon obtained. At Aubencheul the enemy was alert and the patrol was driven back. At the Farm crossing A Company obtained more success. A post of the enemy about 12 strong was discovered on the Brune-mont Road north of the Canal, and these, after firing a few shots, fled, though one of them was captured by Sergt. R. C. Clammer, D.C.M., M.M., after which the patrol returned. The prisoner was from the 103rd I Regiment, and was a destitute wretch, wearing cap, jacket, trousers and boots — and nothing else. Unfortunately, Capt. Watts was killed by a stray bullet while returning to his company headquarters.
The same evening the l/4th Londons were relieved by the 8th Middlesex (167tli Brigade) and withdrew to Brigade support in shelters west of Epinoy. At the same time the Kensingtons and London Scottish effected the extension to the right of the Divisional line above referred to.
Early on the morning of the 11th October the Kensingtons launched a completely successful attack on Fressies and advanced the Brigade line to the Canal at a loss to themselves of only 10 casualties. In the meantime the advance of the VIII Corps north of the Sensee River had driven the enemy from Vitry-en-Artois and was now being directed towards Douai. To assist in this development the 56th Division artillery was ordered to keep under fire the crossings over the northern arm of the Sensee Canal, while the infantry made persistent endeavours to establish themselves beyond the Canal de la Sensee with a view to exerting pressure on the retiring enemy's left flank. On the 12th the 167th Brigade completed the clearance of Arleux which had been initiated by the Canadians, and occupied the Canal triangle south-east of the village. The following day the 169th Brigade occupied Aubigny-au-Bac after a sharp fight, but a vigorous counter-attack later threw them back to the Canal bank. In this fighting magnificent devotion was displayed by the Royal Engineers in bridging the Canal under heavy fire.
By the 16th October the 4th Canadian Division had taken over the Divisional line and the 56th Division withdrew into Army reserve.
The l/4th Londons were relieved in the Brigade support area by the l/2nd Londons on the 11th October and passed into Divisional reserve at Rumaucourt, where several days of very welcome rest were obtained.
Both Rumaucourt and Ecourt-St Quentin were still comparatively unharmed and partly furnished. Everywhere were signs of the German occupation. The chief anxiety of the enemy occupants seems to have been fear of British aeroplanes, for every cellar had its capacity plainly written on the door, while large warning bells or " FHeger Alarum " were fixed in all prominent places. In Ecourt-St Quentin were three German field hospitals which afforded unmistakable evidence that the enemy was hard up for bandages, for in place of these he seemed to have used old curtains and paper. An abundant quantity of old civilian clothing was also found here, and rumour has it that the doctor was seen one day sporting an excellent top hat. B Company lived in one of these hospitals and had an excellent time with a grand piano. These good Bosche institutions afforded an opportunity of bathing, of which advantage was taken by the whole Battahon.
During the foregoing spell of active work the Battalion transport had been located near Wancourt. " One day in October," writes Lieut. -Col. Marchment, " a deputation of Company Q.M.-Sergeants appeared at Orders with a request that they might take it in turns to come up with the rations, A and C one night, B and D the next. To this I gladly consented when, looking at the map, I found that they were walking and riding some twenty-six miles a night ! "
On the afternoon of the 14th October the Battalion marched to Marquion — till the 27th September in German hands — to entrain for a rest at Arras. The train was due out at 3 p.m., but as things turned out there was no occasion for hurry, since owing to a smash at Boisleux the train did not reach Marquion till 11 p.m. A w^ary but happy Battalion entrained, confidently expecting to wake up in Arras, but the advent of morning brought no change of scene. The train had not moved an inch ! However, in due course the line was cleared and the train gaily rattled over the battlefields of Queant, Croisilles and Boyelles, and reached Arras by 11.30 a.m. on the 15th. The l/4th Londons were quartered in comfortable billets in the Rue d 'Amiens.
The rest in Arras, with which charming little city the Battalion had been so frequently associated, was probably the most enjoyable that fell to its lot in the whole War. To start with, everyone was in the highest spirits born of the knowledge of their own recent successes in action and of their confidence for the battles to come. Food was good and plentiful. The civilians were returning and shops were beginning to open once again.
Here the Battalion experienced the first visible effects of what the liberation of France meant to the French. Refugees from the liberated villages towards Cambrai were being sent back for safety to Arras, where they were housed in the Schramm Barracks till the French Mission was able to arrange to settle them in other parts of France. Streams of homeless women and children drifted through the streets, clinging to a few treasured objects of their personal belongings, and our men stood at the street corners deeply impressed by such heartrending scenes. Shamefacedly, as if fearful of disclosing the depth of their emotion to their comardes, the men would beg the refugees to be allowed to carry their parcels for them. Three men of one company took complete charge of a distressed family and piloted them to a house where they settled the poor folks, lit a fire for them, bought eggs with their own money, scrounged some bully beef, and then fled to avoid the thanks of their grateful charges.
The average Cockney is not in the habit of wearing his heart on his sleeve. Rather does he conceal his emotion beneath the cloak of " grousing," but scenes of desolation such as these — far more affecting than the sight of a ruined countryside — brought out all the wonderful chivalry which has endeared the simple British soldier to the hearts of the French. " It was only in censoring letters home," writes an officer, " that one realised how deeply touched our men were by the sufferings of the civilians." Of all these saddening sights probably the most dreadful was at the Hopital St Jean, where little mites of French children were dying of gas poisoning, and old people lying demented by the horrors through which they had passed. To alleviate these sufferings everything possible was done, and our own R.A.M.C. orderhes worked side by side with the French Sisters of Mercy.
One afternoon the Commanding Officer gave permission for the drums to play to the refugees. The performance concluded with the Marseillaise, the glorious strains of which, not heard for four long years, so overcame the audience that in the intensity of their emotion old men, women and children fell upon the drummers and kissed them — much to the embarrassment of those good-natured fellows.
Some excellent training meanwhile was being obtained on the racecourse at Dainville, and several rifle competitions were introduced to add to the keenness of the men. The Battalion was largely reclothed and much done to improve its excellent parade disciphne. On the 21st October a Guard of Honour was provided, consisting of 100 all ranks under Capt. H. N. Williams, M.C., for President Poincare, who was visiting Arras — " the finest Guard the Division ever turned out," as Faulkner described it. The identity of this distinguished visitor remained for a long time shrouded in mystery, and curiosity reached fever-pitch. The Mess decided that the only way to deal with the problem was to have a sweepstake, in which the names of the Prince of Wales, M. Clemenceau, General Smuts, Marshal Foch and the Lord Nozoo (representing The Field) were included. Captain Williams' return was awaited with breathless anxiety, but, alas, in the dark he had failed to solve the mystery. The Mess paid out on M. Clemenceau — he being apparently the nearest to the distinguished visitor who actually arrived. During this rest at Arras the Battalion was joined by Capts. H. W. Spiers and D. S. Boorman, M.C. (to command B and C Companies respectively), and by Lieuts. E. G. Dew and H. D. Rees, the latter being appointed Assistant-Adjutant. Regimental Sergt. -Major Jacques, who was returning to England in training for Quartermaster, was replaced by Sergeant -Major Wilson, who had been wounded at Ypres in 1917. The strength of the Battalion was now 38 officers and 721 other ranks.
The latter half of October had seen most rapid and important changes on the British battle front, to which we must refer briefly. The success of the attack towards Le Cateau in the early days of the month had been complete and had driven the enemy back to the line of the Selle River. This enabled G.H.Q. to initiate the second stage of this last phase of the War, which was to force the enemy from the Selle River back to the general line Sambre Canal — western edge of Foret de Mormal — Valenciennes. The occupation of this line would enable the British Armies to launch their final attack on Maubeuge.
The Battle of the Selle was opened by the Fourth Army on the 17th October, the fight gradually involving the Third and First Armies in succession. By the 20th October the enemy had been driven across the Sambre as far north as Catillon, Le Cateau was occupied, and the Selle River left two miles behind our advanced positions. The main attack developed on the 23rd October, and by the end of the following day the enemy was driven on to the western edge of the Foret de Mormal, the outskirts of Le Quesnoy had been reached, and the lateral railway connecting Le Quesnoy with Valenciennes had been crossed on a front of about four miles. This latter portion of the success was on the front of the XXII and Canadian Corps of the First Army. The Selle River Battle resulted in the capture of 20,000 prisoners and 475 guns, and in the defeat of 31 German divisions by 25 British and 2 American divisions.
On other parts of the front successes had been equally striking. Laon had fallen to the French on the 13th October. In Belgium, Menin, Thorout and Ostend had been occupied in rapid succession, and by the 20th October the Allied line rested on the Dutch frontier. This advance in the extreme north had the effect of turning the defences of Lille, which was encircled and occupied on the 18th October, after which a steady advance brought our troops to the line of the Scheldt north of Valenciennes to Avelghem.
The critical condition of the Germans is summed up by Sir Douglas Haig in his despatches : —
By this time the rapid succession of heavy blows dealt by the British forces had had a cumulative effect, both moral and material upon the German Armies. . . . His reserves of men were exhausted. . . . The capitulation of Turkey and Bulgaria and the imminent collapse of Austria — consequent upon Allied successes which the desperate position of her own armies in the western front had rendered her powerless to prevent — had made Germany's military situation impossible. If her armies were now to be allowed to withdraw undisturbed to shorter lines the struggle might still be protracted over the winter. The British Armies, however, were now in a position to prevent this by a direct attack upon a vital centre which should anticipate the enemy withdrawal and force an immediate conclusion.
A necessary preliminary to the final attack was the capture of Valenciennes itself, and this was accomplished on the 1st November. The XXII Corps, advancing on a front of six miles to the south of the city, crossed the Rhonelle River, and occupied the high ground overlooking the valley of the Aunelle River, while the Canadians entered Valenciennes and pushed on to the east of it.
On the 31st October the 56th Division rejoined the XXII Corps in the battle area, and the battalions of the 168th Brigade embussed from Arras to Douchy (two miles south of Denain). For a couple of days the l/4th Londons remained here in very fair billets, receiving a most hearty welcome from the inhabitants, who had been for four years under the heel of the enemy. '
At 8 a.m. on the 2nd November the Battalion marched about five miles forward to the staging area at Maing, which it reached at about 11.30 a.m., and that evening advanced again at short notice and relieved the 4th K.O.Y.L.I. (49th Division) in advanced positions facing Saultain, the relief being completed by 2 a.m. on the 3rd November. The advance was led by D Company, which came under heavy shell fire when passing through Famars, and lost 4 men killed and 14 wounded.
The 168th Brigade section which was the left of the Divisional front, the 169th being on the right, was held with the Kensingtons and l/4th Londons in the line. D Company occupied small sections of trenches in the front line some 500 yards west of the Chateau de Saultain, while A, B and C Companies were held back in a sunken road south-east of Aulnoy.
Lieut.-Col. Marchment was now in command of the 168th Brigade, General Loch having gone to hospital, and the Battalion was temporarily under Major R. B. Marshall, with Captain T. B. Cooper, M.C., M.M., acting as second in command. Battalion Headquarters opened in Aulnoy.
About the time of the relief it became apparent that the enemy had retired again opposite the Canadians on our left and was about to do so on our own front. At 10.35 a.m. a wire was received in the Battalion stating that the Canadians had entered Estreux, and ordering the Battahon to push strongly supported patrols through Saultain as far as the Ferme du Moulin. D Company moved forward at 11,15 a.m., supported by A Company, and entered Saultain which was found to be unoccupied except for four men of the 109th Infantry Regiment who were taken prisoners. By two o'clock the Ferme du Moulin was occupied with very little opposition and Battalion Headquarters advanced to the Chateau de Saultain. On the right the Kensingtons had also pressed forward towards the cemetery of Curgies, and touch was obtained with them and with the 4th Canadian Division on the left. This advance — over 2000 yards — was consolidated by the l/4th Londons, while two squadrons of Australian Light Horse and a company of New Zealand cyclists endeavoured to push forward during the evening to secure the crossings of the River Aunelle. Their attempt, however, was checked about 1000 yards in front of the infantry by enemy machine-gun fire, and in this position the progress for the day was concluded, the Kensingtons occupying with the cavalry and cyclists the advanced line, which extended in a north-westerly direction from the cross-roads at Le Talandier. That night the l/4th Londons' position was held with D and A Companies in front and B and C Companies in support.
The immediate resumption of the advance being ordered by XXII Corps, arrangements were made by 56th Division with the adjoining divisions to pursue the attack at 6 a.m. the following morning, 4th November, each division operating independently. Orders for this advance did not reach the l/4th Londons, who were detailed for the attack on the ICSth Brigade front, till 1 a.m., and there was thus no more than enough time to assemble the companies close in rear of the line held by the Kensingtons. For reconnaissance there was no time at all. The attack was delivered on a two-company front by B Company on the right and A Company on the left, each moving in square formation of platoons with a screen of scouts and cavalry patrols in front. C and D Companies followed in diamond formation at a distance of about 200 yards. The objective was given as the high ground across the River Aunelle about 500 yards east of Sebourquiaux.
The morning dawned mistily, but in this case the mist was not altogether a disadvantage. The whole of this countryside was a swelling waste of stubble fields with practically no landmarks, but fortunately a line of telegraph poles going due east which was visible through the mist enabled the leading companies to keep their direction well — ^a great stroke of luck, as the advance lay up hill and down dale over this barren land for some 2000 yards before the crest of the Aunelle Valley was reached, and the objective was for a long time out of sight. The mist thus served to conceal the advance from the enemy till the leading companies breasted the hill overlooking Sebourquiaux itself, and started descending the slope to the village.
The Aunelle River is hereabouts spanned by three bridges, one at Sebourg, one at Sebourquiaux, and one at Le Pissot, north of the latter village. These had already been secured by the cavalry patrols who had, however, been unable to make progress across the river. As the leading companies began to drop down the hill towards the village the mist partly cleared, and the German machine-gunners opened a heavy fire. The leading companies at once dashed down the hill into the cover of the scattered houses and streets which form the outskirts of Sebourquiaux on the west bank of the river ; but here they seemed to have fallen into a trap for the enemy at once dropped a barrage of considerable intensity, shells of all calibres falling thick and fast. Forward progress was impossible, and B Company on the right therefore promptly worked round the right flank, crossing the river at Sebourg, and then, turning northward toward Sebourquiaux, cleared the village of the enemy machine-gunners. In the meantime A Company had been heavily machine-gunned from the direction of Rombies, which continued to resist the Canadian attack, and touch with the Canadians was lost.
B Company having cleared the way through the village, A Company was able to cross the river, and together the two companies attempted to force their way up the slope to the east of Sebourquiaux. The machine-gun fire was too intense, and the companies had to fall back to a line on the eastern outskirts of the village, where, joined by C Company (in support), they began to consolidate their position. Touch was obtained with the Queen's Westminsters of the 169th Brigade who had cleared Sebourg on the right, but no connection could be obtained with the Canadians who were still held up before Rombies on the left, and A Company therefore threw a defensive flank astride the Aunelle River facing northwards. The Battalion was now organised on the line which had been gained, all companies having platoons on the forward positions and finding their own supports. All day the village of Sebourquiaux remained under heavy German shell fire, but at about 5.30 p.m. the intensity of the enemy's fire increased and the work of destruction was completed, hardly a house being left standing. A variegated display of Very lights which accompanied this barrage led to the expectation that the enemy was organising a counter-attack, but no infantry movement on the part of the Germans materialised.
The stiffness of the enemy resistance this day made it abundantly clear that further progress could be made only by means of an organised attack in co-operation with the divisions on either flank, and arrangements for a further advance were promptly made.
That night the l/4th Londons were relieved by the London Scottish and withdrew in Brigade reserve to the high ground cast of Estreux, Headquarters remaining at the Ferme du Moulin. This relief was completed at 3 a.m. on the 5th November, and at 5.30 a.m. the attack was pursued by the London Scottish, with the Kensingtons in support and the l/4th Londons in reserve. By G a.m. the crest east of Sebourquiaux had been gained and the enemy was retiring in the direction of Angre.
On the 169th Brigade front the enemy resistance was not severe, and by 7.30 a.m. the London Rifle Brigade had captured Angreau. The Canadians had also occupied Rombies, but on the ridge between this village and Angre the Germans continued to hold out in great force and to bring very heavy machine-gun fire to bear on the left flank of the 168th Brigade.
At 8 a.m. the l/4th Londons were ordered forward, and by 11 a.m. the companies, A, B, C and D in line from right to left, were in position in the old German trenches east of Sebourquiaux, with Battalion Headquarters in a farmhouse in the village. In this position the Battalion was practically on the frontier of France and Belgium.
The advance was resumed by the London Scottish under a barrage at 4.15 p.m., and the line was advanced to within about 500 yards of Angre. The enemy machine-gun fire again precluded the possibility of further advance, and eventually a line was consolidated facing north-east in touch with the 169th Brigade on the right and the Canadians on the left.
On the 6th November the attack was pursued by the London Scottish on the right and the Kensingtons on the left, the l/4th Londons again being in support. Fierce fighting took place, particularly on the left flank where the Kensingtons crossed the Grande Honnelle River, were thrown back, and crossed it again. At the end of the day the leading battalions were in possession of Angre, on the east bank of the Grand Honnelle. The l/4th Londons moved forward slightly from their positions of the previous day but did not come into action.
The whole of these days were extremely wet, and not a man in the Battalion had a scrap of dry clothing. Trenches were embryonic, and shelters almost entirely lacking — of dugouts there were, of course, none.
Shortly after midnight "Drake" Battalion of the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division relieved the Battalion— the remainder of the Brigade also being relieved — and it withdrew to tolerable billets in Sebourg. The march to Sebourg was only about two miles, but every road was choked with double and even treble lines of transport of all descriptions waiting to follow up the advance. It had been waiting motionless since the previous afternoon and did not get on the move again till 4 a.m. the next morning.
In these circumstances the march to Scbourg occupied about four hours — a most unpleasant journey in which desultory shelling by the enemy alternated with heated arguments with despairing transport officers. Dawn, however, found the Battalion enjoying a good breakfast, and drying its clothes, all its troubles forgotten, and every one filled with justifiable satisfaction at the good work that had been done.
This, the last fight of the l/4th Londons, produced nine prisoners and cost in casualties : 2/Lieut. A. M. Bullock, killed ; 2/Licut. G. H. Sylvester, died of wounds ; 2/Lieut. H. W. Taylor, wounded ; and in N.C.O.'s and men, 11 killed, 55 wounded and 1 missing.
From now onwards the 56th Division was fighting on a one-brigade front, with the 167th leading, and the l/4th Londons were engaged in following up the advance by stages so as to be within supporting distance of the leading troops. Nowhere was the enemy's opposition more than trifling, and the advance proceeded rapidly, though under conditions of some discomfort and difficulty. The line of the Division's advance lay almost due east, roughly parallel to the marshes about the Canal de Conde wliich connects the Canal de I'Escaut with Mons, and the whole countryside is cut up by innumerable small streams discharging northwards into the marsh area. The banks of these streams are everywhere steep, and bridges had been systematically destroyed by the retiring enemy who had also blown craters at almost every road junction. It was an ideal country for a determined enemy to fight a rear-guard action, but the Germans' powers of resistance were broken, and beyond the delays caused to the progress of our troops by the wholesale destruction, opposition was negligible. The extreme rapidity of the advance indeed made it almost impossible for the supply services to keep pace, and the damage to the roads prevented lorries from proceeding beyond the Grande Honnelle River till the necessary repairs could be completed. The weather, moreover, had broken, and for three days rain fell incessantly. But these discomforts were slight in comparison with the enormous wave of enthusiasm which passed over all the troops who had the good fortune to take part in this extraordinary victory.
On the 7th November the line of the Bavai-Hensies Road was crossed, and the following day the leading troops had reached the line Petit Moronfait-Rinchon-Ferlibray. The 9th November saw the Mons-Maubeuge Road crossed, and on the 10th the 1st Londons, who were leading, captured Harveng, and after slight opposition pushed forward to Karmignics.
The l/4th Londons following up the advance moved on the 8th to Autreppe and the following day to Blaugies. The band was now with the Battalion and played on the march. This gave rise to most remarkable patriotic demonstrations on the part of the liberated villagers who everywhere greeted the Battalion with cries of " Vive I'Angleterre ! " and showered flowers on the troops, while crowds of children marched beside the band cheering. The plight of these poor people was deplorable. The Germans in their retirement had taken with them practically all food supplies and utensils of every description. Scarcely the bare necessities of life remained. All live stock had also been driven before them by the retreating hordes of the enemy, but when the Battalion reached Blaugies the presence of live stock in the village showed the ever-increasing confusion and speed of the enemy's retirement. At this time the Division was feeding some 16,000 civilians, on an allowance of one iron ration to four people.
On the morning of the 10th November the l/4th Londons continued their almost triumphal progress to La Dessoue, but there being no accommodation here, found billets in Sars-la-Bruyere, where an overwhelming welcome was accorded them. In this village Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien (II Corps) had had his Headquarters on the 23rd August 1914.
The Brigade Ammunition Column at this time was in charge of Lieut. E. P. M. Mosely, whose diary illustrates the extraordinary spirit of humour which carried the men through this period of hard work and exposure. The Column reached Famars thoroughly tired out one wet night at about midnight, and halted in rear of the advancing troops. The civilians had been evacuated and the men rapidly made themselves comfortable in some of the cottages. One of the transport drivers, according to the immemorial custom of transport drivers, quickly began to forage round, and attired himself in a top hat, white scarf and frock coat, in which remarkable garb he put his head round the door and said : "I've come for the rent ! " This, after a hard night's work, shows a spirit which takes a lot of damping.
It was in this advance also that the Column arrived in a battered village late at night, thoroughly worn out and drenched to the skin. The place was muddy, shell torn and desolate, and its exact whereabouts on the map far from certain. The men began to picket their horses and spread tarpaulins over their heaped-up stores, and afterwards disconsolately to search for odd bits of timber in the endeavour to construct some sort of shelter. The O.C. Column produced from a waggon an antique arm-chair, which had somehow attached itself to the Column at an earlier stage of the advance, and in this very much improvised headquarters took up his station in the mud, when suddenly — the post arrived ! The Army Postal Service had throughout been so efficient as to become almost a matter of course — ^but in this effort it surely surpassed itself !
On the night of the 10th November the 56th Division was relieved by the 63rd Division by whom the advance was to be pursued ; but early the following morning the news of the Armistice was received and the troops stood fast. The record of this grand culmination of the years of bloodshed is contained in the Battalion Official War Diary as follows :
Sars-Ia-Bruyere. 08.30. Brigade. Memo. B.M. 971 received
11.11.1918. hostilities would cease at 1100.
The news had an unexpected effect on the troops : everybody appeared to be too dazed to make any demonstration. Men were much less cheerful than they had been for some days. 11.00. Hostilities ceased.
Transport Personnel and Nucleus rejoined Battn.
The vast Foret dc Mormal had been passed, Mons and Maubeuge had fallen, and the German Army was divided into two parts, one on each side of the natural barrier of the Ardennes.
In his Despatches Sir Douglas Haig sums up the situation on the morning of the 11th November 1918 thus :
In the fighting since November 1st, our troops had broken the enemy's resistance beyond hope of recovery, and had forced on him a disorderly retreat along the whole front of the British Armies. Thereafter the enemy was capable neither of accepting nor refusing battle. . . The strategic plan of the Allies had been realised with a completeness rarely seen in war. When the Armistice was signed by the enemy his defensive powers had already been definitely destroyed. A continuance of hostilities could only have meant disaster to the German Armies and the armed invasion of Germany.
A remarkable incident related by Lieut. Mosely occurred at Sars-la-Bruyerc the day following the Armistice.
The Mess Corporal proceeded to Mons to see if any green vegatables could be procured. Returning from his mission through the streets of Mons he saw a soldier untidily dressed and without puttees, but wearing on his jacket the red circles which were the distinguishing mark of the l/4th Londons. Said the Corporal, " What are you doing here ? " " Looking for my Battalion," replied the man. The Corporal demanded to know why the man had wandered so far from billets and what he meant by being so untidily turned out. To his surprise the soldier informed him that he had come from Germany. A few more words and the Corporal realised that this was one of our own men who had walked out of a German prison when the Armistice was declared. Whipping up the wanderer into the Mess cart, he brought him home, washed him and gave him a big meal. The poor fellow was almost hysterical at being amongst his own once more. He was a man of B Company who had been captured on the 28th March 1918, at Oispy. " We gave him a strong dose of rum," writes Mosely, " and wrapped him in warm blankets. By the next morning he had quite recovered, and was asking for his pay ! "
Thus ended the four years' war service of the l/4th Londons, who at the end of the campaign were within two miles of Malplaquet, where Marlborough's great victory had been won two hundred years earlier. It had the proud distinction of having finished its active service within five miles of Mons, where the first British shot had been fired in August 1914. Of the 1016 officers and men who had left England on the 4th September 1914, only about 30 other ranks remained with the Battalion which had done such glorious service on so many hard -fought fields.
As a tribute to the many unrewarded acts of heroism of which there have been so many examples during the War, a letter, relating to the circumstances attending the death of No. 280872 Pte. S. Greenfield of D Company on the 23rd August 1918, is preserved among the Battalion records. This letter was sent by the Medical Officer, 178th Brigade, R.F.A,, who found Greenfield's body, to his relatives, from whom it was received by the Commanding Officer. The following is an extract from this letter, which is dated 24th August 1918 :
. . . On searching the battlefield (Boyelles) I discovered the body of your son Private S. Greenfield, No. 280872. He had died fighting, killed outright by a machine-gun. I found him lying on a German machine-gun which I have no doubt he intended to capture. As no more dead were there and no other signs of a fight about the machine-gun nest, I expect he rushed the machine-gunners himself. I may remark the machine-gunners are dead also.
One of the survivors of the original Battalion was Flossie, a small, brown Pomeranian dog. Flossie had served on the railway line in August 1914, had accompanied the Battalion to Malta and been successfully smuggled into France in January 1915. Throughout the War she had journeyed everywhere with the Battalion, and finally came home with the Cadre in 1919. Her principal claim to distinction appears to be that she succeeded in bringing a litter of puppies into a noisy and muddy world in most of the leading towns and villages of Flanders. Throughout she maintained a calm demeanour, and when her maternal cares necessitated transport she rode with her young family in a basket perched on one of the cookers.
On the 15th November a party of the Battalion, under Capt. H. N. Williams, M.C., took part in the triumphal march through Mons, where the troops were received with a tumultuous welcome.
There is little further to be said. The XXII Corps was excluded from the Army of the Rhine and the Battalion remained in the Mons area, training and indulging in educational experiments, while parties visited the battle-fields of Mons and Waterloo. Until the ravages of demobilisation reduced the numbers too severely, the evenings were enlightened by some of the Quartermaster's excellent orchestral concerts, and by boxing tournaments in which the Battalion did exceedingly well, Private Miller of the l/4th Londons becoming XXII Corps Feather-weight Champion.
On the 27th November the Battalion moved to billets in Villers-sire-Nicole, near Maubeuge, and on the 6th March 1919 to Givry and on the 18th March to Cuesmes (both near Mons), in all of which places the routine of training and education was continued. Early in the New Year the arrangements for demobilisation were put into active operation, and rapidly the strength of the Battalion dwindled.
Among the first to leave was the padre, Rev. S. F. Leighton Green, M.C., who had served continuously with the Battalion since December 1916. The padre left on the 13th February 1919, and his departure was felt most keenly by every officer and man in the Battalion. His constant selfless devotion to duty and his kindly personality had made him a true friend to one and all, and the example of his simple life and magnificent courage in action had been a real inspiration to all — and that included the whole Battalion — who had been brought into personal contact with him.
The break-up of the Battalion was the saddest thing which ever happened to it. After so many months and years of good and bad times, and of life in circumstances of such intimacy as can be attained only on active service, the joy of departure for home was severely tempered by the deepest emotion at leaving the comradeship of regimental life, and few said good-bye to the Battalion without genuine sorrow.
By the beginning of May the Battalion was reduced to Cadre strength, about 50 all ranks, Lieut. -Col. Marchmont, D.S.O., M.C., remaining in command, with Major T. B. Cooper, M.C., M.M., second in command.
On the 14th May 1919 the Cadre left Cuesmes, entraining at Jemappes for Antwerp. After a few days in the embarkation camp it was played down to the quay by the pipes of the Liverpool Scottish and embarked for Tilbury, where it entrained for Newhaven. On the 21st May the Cadre returned to London by train and was received at London Bridge Station by the Lord Mayor (the Rt. Hon. Sir Horace Marshall, now Lord Marshall of Chipstead, P.C., K.C.V.O., Hon. Colonel of the Regiment), who also took the salute as the Cadre passed the Mansion House en route for Headquarters in Hoxton.
The Cadre was received at Headquarters by Lieut. -Col. H. Dade, V.D., Major G. H. M. Vine, T.D., and other officers of the Regiment, and by the Mayor of Shoreditch (Councillor W. Girling), after which its dispersal speedily followed.
Three weeks later the last remnants of the l/4th Londons were scattered to their homes, and the part played by the Regiment in the Great War was at an end.