ARRAS AND CAMBRAI SECTORS OCTOBER TO DECEMBER 1917
BASED ON EXTRACTS FROM “CITIZEN SOLDIERS OF BUCKS” BY JC SWANN.
On the 17th the Battalion continued the move towards Arras, where they arrived on the 24th and went into Lichfield Camp, St. Nicholas. On the 26th they celebrated the fourth birthday of the Battalion. A long programme of sports filled the afternoon, and the Battalion concert party, the Black and Whites, provided entertainment in the evening.
October and the greater part of November were spent at Arras in the Greenland Hill Sector.
On the 29th November the Battalion entrained for Bapaume, the 61st Division having been ordered to that area to relieve some of the troops of the Third Army under General Sir Julian Byng, after their forward push which had thrust a salient into the enemy line towards Cambrai till checked at Bourlon Wood. On arrival at Bapaume news was received that the enemy had counter-attacked, and had achieved a substantial success against the portions of our line facing Gouzeaucourt. Motorbuses were waiting in the station yard, and the Battalion was at once conveyed to Bertincourt, where they were joined at a late hour by their transport, which had come by road from Arras.
On the 2nd December the Battalion moved forward through Metz into support in the neighbourhood of the Hindenberg line, and went into the line in front of Villers Pluich with the Oxfords on the right and the Berks in support. Though the shelling here was heavy, the trenches at La Vacquerie afforded good protection, and casualties were few. There were plentiful signs of the retirement that had taken place over that ground. Two camps were standing, one in No Man’s Land and one just outside the remains of the village of Villers-Pluich, which had been abandoned in haste and contained much that came in handy for replacing deficiencies. Salvage naturally was carried out with much zest, when opportunity offered, and much merit was acquired for what was returned to store.
On the 10th the Battalion went into support in Havrincourt Wood, and on the 22nd moved to billets near Lechelle, whence they were railed to Suzanne two days later.