BASED ON EXTRACTS FROM THE REGIMENTAL CHRONICLES OF THE OXFORDSHIRE & BUCKINGHAMSHIRE LIGHT INFANTRY
November 1st.-The Regiment was holding the support position of the Brigade sub-section (left of Divisional area), and next evening was relieved by companies of the Irish and Coldstream Guards, when it concentrated in St. Python.
November 4th.-An attack on the enemy positions began on a very wide front. In anticipation of the marching this would entail, packs, greatcoats, caps, and all surplus kits were dumped at St. Python, and Lewis guns were reduced to 20. The Regiment bathed.
The 105th reinforcement (70 other ranks) joined.
November 5th.-Continuous rain all day. The Regiment at short notice to move.
November 8th.-The Regiment marched via Vertain, Escarmain, Capelle, Ruesnes, and La Croisette, to Villers Pol.
Incessant rain and heavy going.
November 9th.-The Regiment employed in cleaning and repairing roads.
THE ARMISTICE. November 11th.—The Regiment carried out route-marching via Maresches, where the 2/4th Battalion (61st Division) was in billets.
At the time of moving off (9.30 a.m.) a wire was received from H.Q. 2nd Division and communicated to the troops as follows :--
"Hostilities will cease at 1100 today, 11th November. Troops will stand fast on line reached at that hour, which will be reported by wire to Corps H.Q. Defensive precautions will be maintained. There is to be no intercourse of any description with the enemy. No Germans are to be allowed to enter our lines. Any doing so will be taken prisoner. All moves for 3rd Division for today, 11th November, are cancelled. 4th Cavalry Brigade will carry out its move to Boussois."
There was no excitement or unseemly demonstration such as appears to have occurred elsewhere.
November 12th.-The outlines of the Demobilization and Educational Schemes were received and explained.
November 13th-15th.-Route-marching, repairing roads, burying dead horses, lectures on Demobilization and Education, and an excellent concert.
November 16th.- The Regiment marched to Preux-au-Sart, with a view to the Division being concentrated in the area from which the forward march of the Army of Occupation was to commence.
THE MARCH TO THE RHINE. The Regiment marched via Bermeries, Bavai, etc., to Donzies, thus crossing from west to east the line followed in the retreat from Mons in August 1914, as well as the line of advance on Paris taken by the 52nd in 1915. Some snow fell during the march. Major-General H. R. Davies, C.B., visited the Regiment.
November 20th.-Marched via Maubeuge and Vieux Reng to Grand Reng, on the Franco-Belgian frontier.
November 21st-23rd.-Road-repairing, etc.
November 24th.-To Merbes-St. Marie via Pleissant, and next day to Charleroi (nearly 17 miles).
November 26th.-The whole Regiment bathed in the Pithead Baths, and all ranks enjoyed being in a large town.
November 27th.-Lieut.-Colonel R. B. Crosse, with 6 officers and 17 N.C.O.'s and men, went by lorry to Mont St. Jean, and spent the day on the battlefield of Waterloo.
November 28th.-Marched from Charleroi via Chatelet, etc., to Sart Eustache.
November 29th.-To the vicinity of Bois de Villers vica Fosse and Sart St. Laurent.
December lst-3rd.-Halt. Leave parties visited Namur.
December 4th.-The Regiment marched to Nameche, crossing the Meuse by a German pontoon bridge.
December 5th.-Marched to billets about Solieres. Very trying march by bad and hilly roads.
December 6th.-To Seny via Huy, Stree, and Tinlot.
December 7th.-Marched to Harze, via Comblain-la-Tour.
December 8th.-To Stoumont.
December 9th.-Leaving at 8 a.m. the Regiment passed through Stavelot, and some three miles farther east crossed the frontier into Germany, going into billets at Malmedy. As the Regiment entered Germany the Band played the 43rd and 52nd Marches while the Regiment passed. In the evening the following was received from Brigadier-General W. L. Osborn, C.M.G., D.S.O., commanding the 5th Infantry Brigade :-- "My congratulations to the 52nd Light Infantry on crossing the enemy frontier today as a result of the battles they have fought this year.
"British infantry throughout history have proved themselves to be second to none, and I am proud to have the Regiment in the Brigade I command on such an historic occasion."
December 10th.-At Malmedy.
December 11th.-The Regiment marched to Weywertz and billeted.
December 12th.-Marched via Imgenbroich, etc., to scattered billets, 2 companies in Schmidt, 1 company in Kommerscheidt, and 1 in Harscheidt. Continuous rain all day.
December 14th.-To Niederau. Excellent billets. The place was within easy reach of Duren by tram, and men were allowed in "on pass."
December 17th.-Having halted two days at Niederau, the Regiment continued the march via Duren, etc., to billets in Steinstrasse and Lich. The column was led through Duren by the 2nd H.L.I., who marched with bayonets fixed, colours flying, and pipes playing.
December 18th.-Marched to billets in Rommerskirchen and Eckum, and remained there until the 27th.
December 25th.-Christmas Day passed quietly and pleasantly.
December 27th.-Marched to Stommeln, the area allotted to the Regiment as its final destination.
REGIMENTAL ORDER 159 (1) OF 27TH DECEMBER 1918 Stommeln, near Cologne, Germany.
Now that the march to the Occupied Territory has been completed, the Commanding Officer wishes to record his great admiration of the way it has been carried out by the Regiment.
Although unattended by the battle conditions which have been inseparable from all marching since August 1914, the march which began on the 16th November last has not been without hardships in the matter of loads being extra to the normal marching order, and in many cases indifferent roads, steep hills, bad weather, and then bad billets, where washing arrangements have been difficult. At times leather for repairing boots has not been available; many men have had to march in new boots which there has been no chance to properly grease.
There have been days when, until the railways could be got through, rations were bad and insufficient.
The Commanding Officer knows well what all this has meant. Cases are known to him where men who, from sickness or bad boots, have been given the chance of going on the lorries, but they have chosen to march in the ranks. Others, from sickness, might have had their packs carried, but they would not part with them. Others, again, have chosen not to join the ambulance or the " Slow Party " rather than spoil the Company's record.
Captains of Companies, Platoon Officers, and the Medical Officer have done their utmost by encouragement, by carrying rifles themselves, and by care and attention to men's feet, to keep men in the ranks, and the response has been worthy of the highest traditions of the Regiment.
It reveals a discipline more real than that which is indicated by noisy handling of arms, stamping of feet, and loud clicking of heels.
The Light Infantry soldier does his duty at all times as quietly and steadily as he moves on parade or in battle, and there is no higher ideal.
Since August 21st last, when the final battles began, the Regiment has marched about 270 miles, exclusive of fighting; and from November 16th last, inclusive, about 200 miles.
In the march into Charleroi on Tuesday, November 26th, the young soldiers showed that they could march like the old, and they have continued to hold their own.
In spite of extra loads, the Light Infantry step, necessarily in trench warfare allowed to lapse, has come back.
Before the march to Germany began, all ranks were reminded in Regimental Orders of 13.11.18 how the same good marching and soldierly bearing were required and were expected as when, after Waterloo, the Regiment marched, in the Army of Occupation, to Paris ; and if the same standard be maintained, and the same attitude of civility, with restraint, be observed towards the inhabitants— our country's enemies—so as to leave them with feelings only of respect and admiration for the British soldier, there will be no cause to be prouder of any chapter in the history of His Majesty's 52nd than of this one.
On Monday, December 9th, 1918, the Regiment marched into Germany by the Stavelot-Malmecly road. As it crossed the frontier, from Belgium into Germany, at 12.40 p.m., in order of Companies—Buglers, A (Captain C. W. H. Bailie), B (Lieut. C. R. Horley), C (Captain P. A. Bobby, M.C.), D (Captain H. S. Eagle), Transport, 1st Line (Lieut. E. H. Vigars, D.C.M., Transport Officer), and 2nd Line (Lieut. F. Barnes, M.C., Quartermaster)—the Band played the Regimental Marches of the 43rd and 52nd while the whole Regiment passed.
December 29th-31st.-Settling in, although it is rumoured that the Regiment will move again before long.
SOURCE 1. The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Chronicle, 1917-18. Vol 27 : compiled and edited by Lieut.-Colonel A.F. Mockler-Ferryman Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1919
Pte Akers of the 52nd died on 11th November 1918 and is buried in St Sever Cemetery, Rouen.
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