The Battle of Amiens, also known as the Third Battle of Picardy, was the opening phase of the Allied offensive which began on 8th August 1918, later known as the Hundred Days Offensive, that ultimately led to the end of the First World War.
The Honour is borne on the Guidon of the 8th Hussars.
The advance of the Canadian, Australian and Cavalry Corps to these objectives was to be covered on their left flank north of the Somme by the 3rd Corps. North of the Somme our full objectives were not reached, but south of the Somme, we gave the Germans a complete surprise.
Foch had more in his mind than a frontal battle two hundred miles long. He was going to work on what has well been called the principle of successive pairs of pincers; to nip at first comparatively small German forces in the centre by pressure on their wings, until at last they should stretch, and begin to close, from the sea to Southern Lorraine.
421 tanks were employed on the 8th of August, and by night the whole of the Amiens outer defence line had been gained except at Le Quesnel, and that fell during the night. To Ludendorff “the black day of the German army in the history of the war” was the 8th of August.
During the week following “black day,” a strip nearly twelve miles wide was gained from the outskirts of Albert to the outskirts of Roye. The enemy’s salient towards Amiens had thus been destroyed. Then, in the second half of the month, the pair of pincers was again employed, the French working northwards to Noyon, which fell on the same day as Bapaume.
On the 8th of August, the 8th Hussars arrived in a position of readiness at 3.50 am. The attack started at 4.20 am with a heavy bombardment.
Following the infantry attack, the 1st and 3rd Cavalry Divisions led, with the 1st Division on the left and the 3rd Division on the right. The 9th Cavalry Brigade came with the 15th Hussars as the advanced guard, followed by the Brigade Head Quarters, Y Battery, the 19thHussars, the 9th M.G. Squadron, and the 8th Hussars. All moved forward at 4.50 a.m. along the cavalry track south of Bois l’ Abbe.
At the beginning the movement was slow, and there was a halt north of Cachy for three-quarters of an hour. There was very little hostile shelling in the back areas. The Brigade crossed the front line south of Villers Bretonneux. The progress here was very bad, thanks to the abundance of wire and the no less abundance of shell holes.
Leaving Villers Bretonneux on the left, the 8th Hussars swung north-east and met the railway Villers Bretonneux- Lencourt three-quarters of a mile west of the former place. The pace then increased, and we reached the outskirts of Marcelcave at 8 am.
It was here the 8th Hussars halted three-quarters of an hour. The German machine guns were active. They moved on south of the railway past Marcelcave and Lencourt, reaching Guillaucourt at 11 am, halting half an hour. The battery then came into action. ‘B’ Squadron was detached to the right.
In the meantime, the 15th Hussars and the 19th Hussars on the right had reached the objective, and Harbonnieres was taken. The Regiment was accordingly ordered forward to reinforce the 19th Hussars, going into support and holding Harbonnieres-Rosieres road, south of the railway, until ‘B’ Squadron was relieved by the 6th Canadian Brigade at 7 pm. On being relieved the Germans shelled the led horses. At 9 pm the Regiment went to bivouac but moved at 10 pm to the valley north of Caix, where they remained for the night.
The 9th of August was a fine morning. ‘B’ and ‘C’ Squadrons set out on reconnaissance at 5.30 am The special work of the former was to reconnoitre towards Vauvillers, north of the Harbonnieres-Rosieres railway. ‘B’ Squadron was unable to make any headway owing to heavy machine-gun fire, which caused several casualties to the men and horses of the leading patrol ‘C’ Squadron moved on Rosieres, but were also held up by machine-gun fire, causing casualties to the horses.
At 9.40 am the Brigade sent orders for the regiment to concentrate at once in the valley northwest of Caix. At 11 am it moved, following the attack of the infantry on Rosieres. ‘A’ Squadron, acting as advanced guard, moved forward to a position of readiness south of the railway with Lieutenant Coulson and a troop in advance.
The progress of the infantry was slow, and at 2 pm the Eighth was sent to the wood north of Caix. At 5 it advanced south of Rosieres, crossing the railway just north of Vrcly. ‘C’ Squadron advanced at a gallop to the high ground west of Meharicourt, taking up a position to the north of the village. ‘B’ Squadron followed and entered the village, followed by Headquarters and the second section of the 9th Machine Gun Squadron. The high ground and village were shelled on entering, and there were a good many casualties. The patrols pushed out through Meharicourt and Chilly, reporting only slight opposition. As the situation on the Banks was obscure, and as it was nearing dark, no further advance was made.
Two men were killed, and Lieutenant Rolf, thirty men and sixty-five horses were wounded.
All the days of the Battle of Amiens were fine. The Regiment held the outpost line north of Meharicourt during the night of the 9th in conjunction with the 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade. The night proved quiet. ‘B’ and ‘C’ Squadrons under Captain Hornby furnished the outposts, which were withdrawn at 4.30 am.
The Brigade proceeded back to the valley southwest of Guillaucourt, the regiment marching independently. It arrived in bivouac at 7 am, passing through Caix. It then rested to 3 pm, when orders were received to saddle up at once. The Brigade set out towards Warvilles.
On arrival on high ground south-east of Caix, it was ordered back to bivouac. This gave rise to much unnecessary fatigue to men and horses alike and prevented much-needed rest. The Regiment then bivouacked for the night in the wood. There was much bombing in the neighbourhood, though none on the bivouac of the Eighth.
The Brigade rested on the 11th, and the regiment was in a wood southwest of Guillaucourt. At 5 pm a warning order to move to the area east of Amiens was received at 7.30 pm. The Brigade marched across the country, leaving Marcelcave and Villers Bretonneux to the north. It marched across the battlefield of the 8th of August, through Cachy, and joined the Villers Bretonneux-Amiens main road about three miles east of Longeau. It passed through the latter place, arriving in bivouac at Camon at 4 am, which was very crowded.
The march turned out to be very bad. Over a wretched road, the regiment had to trot continuously from the starting point for eight miles in order to keep up.
The Battle of Amiens was over.
Tactically it was one of the most interesting battles of the war, second in interest only to the First Battle of Cambrai for it saw the first use of the tanks on a large scale over a country that was not heavily fortified, and marked a great advance in the co-operation between the tanks and the infantry.