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sown. We were discussing its fate when a large German aeroplane swooped down and forced us to take cover. A British aeroplane appeared, but the German forced it to land hurriedly. And the enemy began to send over a few small shells.
We moved forward unobtrusively, Read, myself, and Puddy, my orderly, to an inconspicuous knoll. There we lay in comfort, watching the farther advance of the Australians. The country was quite open and bare, though broken with unexpected valleys. A slight breeze had swept away the mist and the morning was bright and sunny. A few hundred yards in front of us the Australians were walking forward nonchalantly, led by a soore of tanks. Occasionally a shell would fall among them and they would scatter momentarily, but it was rarely that a man was left upon the ground. From the valley beyond, which we could not see, came the rattle of Lewis guns, and once or twice bursts from the enemy machine-guns. To the left and behind us our field-guns, drawn up in the open, were firing for dear life, and away to the right along a slight dip a battery of field - guns was trotting forward. Overhead the sky was loud with the noise of our aeroplanes, some flying low above the battle and others glistening in the sun high among the clouds.
The Australians disappeared with the tanks over the skyline, and the supporting infantry in little soattered bodies
passed us, marching cheerily over the rough grass. We were already three miles within the enemy defences.
We pressed on northwards to the Cérisy Valley, which we knew had been full of German field-guns. This deep gully, with steep grassy sides, fringed with stunted trees, runs from the tiny village of CérisyGailly, on the south bank of the Somme, to Warfusée. Our gunners had done their work with terrible thoroughness. The bottom of the valley was so broken with shell-holes that it was barely possible to drive a limber between them. Four or five of the enemy guns remained desolate among wild confusion of shattered waggons and dead horses. A trembling pony, still harnessed to his dead fellow, was the only survivor.
A hundred yards down the valley tanks were elimbing the steep bank, and the flag of a tank battalion fluttered bravely on the orest.
We orossed the valley, toiled up the the farther slope, and munohed some sandwiches on the hill, where sappers were calmly marking out new trenches.
At a little distance a shabby Australian field-battery was in action. In a few minutes we saw something of the display and gallantry of war. A battery of Horse Artillery picked its way across the valley. The men were olean, inconceivably clean, and smart. Their horses' coats gleamed. The harness shone and glittered. The guns were newly painted.
Never could a battery more splendidly arrayed have entered the plebeian turmoil of a battle. A series of swift commands and the little guns, with their ridiculous bark, were firing impudently. The Australians were overshadowed their horses were unkempt and the guns dirty-but they had got there first.
We were reminded by a salvo, which burst nicely just beyond the Australian guns, that, although in this partionlar battle we had little to do, the enemy could not be expected to realise our position. So we finished our lunch, and walking along the erest for half a mile, dropped down into the valley again, and came upon Ryan's section engaged in refilling the 13th Battalion. Westbrook's tanks were coming in one by onethey had all had their mechanical troubles.
So far as we could learn from our friends in the valley, the huge surprise attack had been a cheap and complete success-south of the Somme. The thick mist at dawn had protected the tanks, while it had not been dense enough seriously to hamper the drivers. The advance had been rapid, and only in one or two villages had the enemy shown any resolute defence.
But north of the Somme it was clear that something was wrong, for the enemy were shelling mercilessly the southern bank of the river. Even the Cérisy Valley was harrassed, and we were privileged to watch a brigade of artillery
gallop, team by team, over the orest, through the smoke of the shells, down into the comparative safety of the valley. The German gunners must have rejoiced at the target, but they made poor use of their opportunities, for only one horse
was hit; the team swerved as the shell burst, and, galloping madly down into the valley, only just missed a tank. Ten minutes later an enemy aeroplane circled overhead. We held our breath-the valley was packed with artillery and tanks and listened for the whirr of the bombs or the crackle of the machine-guns: but Jerry" was for the moment harmless, although in quarter of an hour H.V. gun made frantic efforts to land her shells in the valley. She could not manage it-her shells burst on the orest or high up on the farther bank.
Westbrook and Ryan were new under the orders of the battalions which they were refilling, and Harland had completed his job. So Read, Puddy, and I tramped back along the river wearily to Fouilloy, tak ing tea on the way from a hospitable Australian, whose name I should always have blessed if I had not forgotten it.
Later, I heard that Harland had done his work well, following the Mark V. Star tanks of the 15th Battalion to the Blue Line, the farthest limit of the attack, and forming there a dump of supplies. The 15th Battalion carried in
their tanks machine-gunners, The true function of the Carwho were detailed to defend rier tank, it appeared to us, the Blue Line against counter- was either to follow the inattack. Luckily, no counter- fantry closely into the battle attack was launched, for the area with supplies, or to transmachine-gunners, unused to port heavy and bulky material. tanks, fell out of the tanks The experiences of Ritchie's ohoking and vomiting and section were valuable. retired by degrees to the nearest dressing station, some of them on stretchers. The experiment was not a success.
And the light-armoured ears, manned by tank crews, whom we had seen picking their way through the shell-holes -their deeds of daring that day have become historical, It will not easily be forgotten how they dashed through the German lines and planted the Tank Corps flag on the headquarters of the German corps in Foucaucourt; how they fusiladed the German Staff at breakfast through the windows of their billet; how they captured a train full of reinforcements; how they destroyed a convoy of lorries. We were convinced that lightarmoured cars and fast tanks had driven the cavalry into
I doubt whether in the early days of the Amiens battle my three sections of Carrier tanks were usefully employed. The supplies with which they were overloaded could have been taken forward more rapidly and more economically by lorries or by waggons both on the first day and during the following week, when they dragged across country supplies of petrol, oil, and ammunition to dumps which were served by excellent roads.
Ritchie and his six tanks had left Querrieu Wood on the night of the 3rd, making for the tank bridge across the Somme by Lamotte-Brebière. In a cutting short of the village the convoy of forty odd tanks Ritchie W88 with Roffey's company-met column of Australian transport. Neither the tanks nor the waggons could turn, and for three hours there was a masterful display of language. At last, after prodigies of driving on both sides, the waggons and the tanks were disentangled, but the night was unpleasantly short, and the tanks were compelled to seek shelter from the day in the village of Glisy.
For once a number of Australians knew what fear was. Dawn was breaking, and an enemy aeroplane, hoping to catch the belated sourrying for cover, was low overhead. One tank decided to shelter beside a house, but, swinging a little hastily, it carried away the corner of the house, and the bricks and masonry fell with a crash. The Australians, who had heard the noise of the aeroplane, thought at once that a bomb had fallen. They rushed out of the house in their shirts and dashed for cover. Then, as the tank snuggled more closely to the
house, they realised what had exhaust-pipes, bombed them happened. Luckily the doors unmercifully, of a tank cannot be opened success. from outside.
On the day of the battle four tanks, leaded with shells, bombs, wire, shovels, and water, started from the ruins of Cachy, immediately behind our trenches, and endeavoured to keep pace with the infantry, but that day the Canadians advanced eight miles. The tanks, accompanied by the D.A.A.G. of the 1st Canadian Division, toiled along after them. It was a hot and weary trek. The D.A.A.G. was saddlesore, and Jacobs was a little chafed. But the tanks are never at a loss. A halt was made, and a tin of tank grease broached. The remedy was odorous but effective.
On the heels of the infantry the tanks arrived on the following day at Caix, ten miles from their starting-point, and disgorged. Two of them made a round of the more advanced machine-gun posts, and, despite heated protests from the enemy, supplied muchneeded ammunition, returning in triumph.
Some of the men found it difficult to remember that, strictly speaking, Carrier companies were not not "fighting troops." Wallace, for instance, a runner, finding the time heavy on his hands, disappeared for a few hours, when he was not required, and joined the Canadians in a successful little bombing raid.
The section returned by night. The enemy aeroplanes, attracted by the glow of their
After a series of marches and counter-marches, inspired by false alarms, Ritchie's seotion returned to Querrieu Wood on the 18th. I had intended to give him a week to rest his men and overhaul his tanks, which had already covered a hundred miles without respite, but I received orders to assist the 47th Division in an attack north of the Somme, and my remaining sections had already been ear-marked for the 1st Australian and 32nd Divisions.
So on the 21st Ritchie's weary old tanks trekked six miles over difficult country to Bonnay, a pleasant little village on on the Anore, a mile above the confluence of the Ancre and the Somme. Two tanks loaded up with ammunition, and about midnight came to a brickyard just behind our trenches. North of the Somme the enemy was fighting stubbornly and his guns pounded away day and night. The neighbourhood of the brickyard was shelled and gassed until the crews longed for the battle.
At dawn the two tanks under Jacobs orawled forward into the gas and smoke, and, passing through the enemy barrage, dumped their loads of machine gun ammunition among the forward posts and returned with the orews slightly gassed but otherwise unharmed.
Two of the remaining tanks went forward with infantry
when the struggle was swaying to and fro over the Happy Valley, a couple of miles south of our old camp at Méaulte. There was never a more deadly struggle, and the issue was always in doubt.
supplies late in the morning secured, he ran across to a trench in which our infantry had rallied. The tank stayed in No-Man's - Land. Twice during the day Bell, with two of my men, tried to orawl out to it and drive it in, but the German machine-guns were too vicious.1
The first tank was led by Sergeant Bell. He came to the place where he should have unloaded his stores. The Germans were pressing fiercely, and the tank was in the forefront of the battle. Under bitter shell-fire and machinegun fire Bell endeavoured to unload at least his precious ammunition, but two of his crew were killed and one man was seriously wounded immediately after they had left the shelter of the tank. Bell collected another party of infantrymen, but by this time the Germans were close to the tank, and our infantry, who had lost heavily, were withdrawing. Bell could do nothing, for & Carrier tank possesses only one Hotchkiss gun to fire ahead, and, as his tank had turned to provide cover for the unloading party, that gun would not bear. He was unable to move the tank, because every man of his crew had been killed or wounded. He waited helplessly until the Germans had almost surrounded the tank, and then, firing one last burst from a Lewis gun which he had
The second tank was led by Holt. He had just climbed inside for a moment, when a shell pierced the sponson and burst, killing instantly Holt and one of his men and wounding the remainder. We could recover nothing at the time, although Wallace made a brave attempt; the Germans had regained too much ground, and to approach the tank was certain death.
It was 8 disastrous day. The attack had failed and the failure had been costly. The Happy Valley was strewn with dereliet tanks, and the cemetery on the Méaulte road is very full.
On the 23rd Jacobs, with his two tanks, carried ammunition forward to isolated machine-gun posts, although his men were still shaken and suffering from gas. I then ordered Ritchie, who had himself been in the thick of the fight, to withdraw his battered section by easy stages to Querrieu Word.
Meanwhile Harland and Westbrook had been in action south of the Somme.
1 Sergeant Bell was awarded the D.C.M. He was killed in action on September 28.
2 Lieut. F. H. Holt was one of my most promising and gallant subalterns, who, if he had lived, would certainly have received early promotion. He was a charming companion in the Mess. We could ill afford to lose him.