St Quentin

The Battle of St. Quentin was a battle during Operation Michael which was a major German military offensive that began the German Spring Offensive on 21 March 1918. It was launched from the Hindenburg Line, in the vicinity of Saint-Quentin, France. Its goal was to break through the Allied lines and advance in a north-westerly direction to seize the Channel Ports, which supplied the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and to drive the BEF into the sea.

The Honour was awarded to the 8th Hussars.

Bapaume, 1918

The First Battle of Bapaume in March 1918, was a battle during Operation Michael which was a major German military offensive that began the German Spring Offensive on 21 March 1918. It was launched from the Hindenburg Line, in the vicinity of Saint-Quentin, France. Its goal was to break through the Allied lines and advance in a north-westerly direction to seize the Channel Ports, which supplied the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and to drive the BEF into the sea.

The Honour is borne on the Guidon of the 8th Hussars.


The Battle of Rosieres was a battle during Operation Michael which was a major German military offensive that began the German Spring Offensive on 21 March 1918. The Germans advance on both sides of Somme in a night attack, reaching Sailly le Sec (12 miles from Amiens), but lose ground in British counter-attacks. The Germans afterwards fail in attacks from Bucquoy to Rosieres and are checked near Lassigny and Noyon, but take Montdidier after rapid advance.

The Honour is borne on the Guidon of the 8th Hussars.


The Battles of the Somme, 1918

The Battles of the Somme from 21 March to 5 April 1918 marked the last desperate attempt by the Germans to break through the British line protecting the Channel Ports.

The 8th Hussars were mounted through most of these battles and were employed in plugging the line wherever it was weakest.

They fought at St Quentin from 21-23 March, Bapaume from 24-25 March and were on the Rosieres Ridge from 26-27 March.

The actual front of the attack on the 21st of March was from Croisilles to Boursies, a distance of 10 miles, and from Gouzeaucourt to Moy on the river Oise, a distance of twenty-five miles, with a gap between of nine miles, the Flequieres salient, which was not attacked.

The total front involved was forty-four miles on which the appalling total of sixty-five divisions attacked on the first day. Forty German divisions, approx 600,000 men, were successively thrown on the fourteen weak infantry divisions of the Fifth Army under Sir Hubert Gough.

The first attack, that of the 21st, was made in a mist lying so thick over the sources of the Somme and the banks of the Oise that you could not see fifty yards ahead.

The first actual breach in our main front line was made just south of St. Quentin. Ludendorff employed to the utmost the advantage which the possession of interior lines gave him in the St.Quentin-St.Gobain salient. He could mass his troops in that angle without revealing on which side he meant to attack. From the south of St. Quentin to Hargicourt he gathered the terrific concentration of 22 German divisions, and his object was the securing of the Somme crossings from Ham to Peronne.

The regiment stood to all the morning of the 21st, marching at 2 pm to a position of readiness at Bernes. It received orders to move to the Roisel-Hervilly valley. ‘C’ Squadron as the advanced guard took up a position east of Hervilly with patrols to get in touch with the infantry, but this squadron was withdrawn after dark. On the 22nd the horses were sent at 1 am to Bernes, and the regiment proceeded dismounted to Montigny Farm. At 3 am the regiment set out for Bois de Cerisy between Hervilly and Jeancourt.

Lieutenant Daly took out a patrol to Kaffir Copse at daybreak while Captain Alexander and Second-Lieutenant Evans Lambe tried to get in touch with the infantry. Twenty men of ‘C’ Squadron accompanied the Machine Gun detachment towards Le Verguier.

A patty of ‘C’ Squadron under Captain Adlercron with Lieutenant Russell went to hold Bois de Hervilly on the brown line. A very fine fight was put up by the party, the majority of whom were killed, wounded or captured. Captain Adlercron was severely wounded and Lieutenant Russell killed.

Captain Adlercron behaved with such notable gallantry that he was recommended for the V.C., and was in fact awarded the D.S.O.

The Bois de Cerisy was being heavily shelled, and the regiment took up a position behind it. At 11 am on the 22nd as Hervilly was reported to be in the hands of the enemy, the dismounted Brigade, consisting of the 8th Hussars, the 15th Hussars and the 19th Hussars, under Lieutenant-Colonel Mort, was ordered to counter-attack and reoccupy the village. Three tanks were picked up and they co-operated. The advance was made on the south-east of the village with the 15th and 19th Hussars on the high-ground to the south. The village was entered without opposition and Hervilly wood occupied. The infantry was seen to be falling back on the high ground towards Roisel, while a large force of the enemy was advancing on Hervilly and Hervilly Wood. Sergeant Neville reported that the party under Lieutenant Russell with the infantry had been driven out of the brown line and that only two of it survived.

At 3.30 pm orders were issued for the whole line to retire to the green line, and at 5 pm this line was occupied east of Nobescourt. The Brigade was relieved at 5 pm by infantry and returned to the horses at Bouvincourt, where it mounted and marched to Ennemain. The casualties were Lieutenant Russell and four men killed, while Captain Adlercron and fifteen men were wounded. Lieutenant Hartley, M.C., was wounded and missing, while Captain Alexander, Lieutenant Robinson and forty-six men were missing.

During the night of the 22nd, the horses were sent back across the river under Lieutenant Daly, with ‘B’ Squadron under Lieutenant the Hon. W. Stourton remains on outpost duty with the horses. The regiment, less ‘B’ Squadron, marched on foot to St. Christ, where the men were close to their horses, and continued the march mounted to close to Morchain. There the Brigade halted in order to cover the bridgehead, Falvy-Pargny. As the 19th Hussars were now on outpost duty across the river, ‘B’ Squadron rejoined, and the regiment stood to.

Major Van der Byl received orders to move the regiment up to the river. He rode on to report to the G.O.C., and it followed under Major Curell. On arrival at Pargny, Major Curell received orders to lead the regiment across the river to a chalk pit just north of Falvy, in the rear of a copse held by the 19th Hussars. While crossing the river an officer of the 19th Hussars galloped up and told Major Curell to advance as quickly as possible. While advancing up the hill the Eighth was met by thirty stampeded horses of the 19th Hussars, and it was accordingly found necessary to turn off the road into a chalk pit. Leaving the regiment there, Major Curell rode on to report. As he returned, a shell burst stampeded more horses. Major Curell reported to Major Van der Byl, and Colonel Franks ordered the regiment to follow his own. The 19th Hussars were moving around the hill, and as they approached the crest heavy shell and machine-gun fire opened. The 19th moved down the hill towards St.Christ and the 8th towards Falvy.

The villages and bridges were being heavily shelled. In order to cover the retirement of the remainder of the regiment, Major Curell took one squadron across the river. When the remainder tried to follow the bridge had been blown up by German shell fire. The horses were consequently sent to cross at St.Christ. On their way, they were met by a party of the 19th, who reported that the bridge at St. Christ had also been blown up. Attempts were made to repair the bridge with the material found in the village and also to swim the horses over. The bank was so boggy that horses stuck the moment they got to it, and swimming had to be abandoned.

Machine gun and rifle fire was being brought to bear on the village. As it was found impossible to repair the bridge with the material available, the planks being too short, a few horses were brought over singly. As direct fire was being brought to bear on the village, and as no men were available to guard the approaches to it – for all of them were required to assist the horses over the river – and as the horses were continually being hit and fast becoming unmanageable it was decided to get all the men over on planks and to abandon the horses not already taken over. This was done, and the regiment rallied dismounted at Pargny, and received orders, to hold the eastern side of the village. The Eighth remained in position until relieved by the infantry when the men rejoined the horses and marched to Curchy. Major Van der Byl and eight men were wounded.

For the regiment, the scene of the struggle was changing on the 24th of March to Bapaume.

The regiment marched from Curchy at 8.30 am on the 24th to Cappy, and watered and fed on the northern flank of the Canal de la Somme between Froissy and Cappy, This day was to see Bapaume once more German. The regiment marched from Cappy to Maricourt, crossing the Somme at Eclusier. On arrival at Maricourt, the German cavalry was reported to be in Hardicourt, and the Brigade moved forward for mounted action, the Eighth being the second regiment.

The Brigade, however, was stopped and ordered to take up a position from Montauban to Bernfre Wood, where there was a gap in the line. Mounted patrols under Lieutenant Daly were sent out to Bazentin-le-Petit and Bazentin-le-Grand.

Contact with the enemy was not gained that night. On the other hand, Lieutenant Daly came into touch with the infantry on both flanks and was withdrawn from Bazentin-le-Grand at 1 am on the 25th together with ‘B’ Squadron, which had been sent up to Bazentin to support ‘C’ Squadron. The regiment then came back with the reserves to place southwest of Montauban while the led horses were sent to Carnoy.

The enemy put down a heavy machine gun barrage at 8.30 am on the 25th, and this was followed by an infantry attack. Heavy fighting continued the whole day. The Brigade maintained its positions and the Germans were driven off. ‘C’ and ‘B’ Squadrons, under Lieutenants Daly and Stourton respectively, went up to strengthen the left flank of the Brigade and took up a position on the eastern side of the village of Montauban, and they maintained this position throughout the day, despite the very heavy shell fire, which increased towards evening. At dusk, the enemy delivered a weighty attack covered by a heavy barrage.

On account of the lack of ammunition the infantry on the right flank of the Brigade was forced to retire, and as the Brigade had to conform it retired to the support line, the Eighth remaining in its original position.

The order to the regiment to withdraw at 1 am on the 26th was carried out without incident, and it marched back to Ville Sur Ancre, a distance of ten miles. The led horses were picked up at Ville, and the Brigade marched back to Querrieu, where the whole Division bivouacked for the night. One man was killed, and Lieutenants Daly and Paton and two men were wounded.

On the 26th a mobile reserve was formed, consisting of 71 men under Lieutenant Clowes and Second-Lieutenant Montgomery, with equal numbers from the 15th and 19th Hussars. It set out at 10 am to Heilly, and there the detachments of the 15th and 19th Hussars proceeded to the river crossings at Sailly Laurette and Chipilly with the Eighth in reserve at Bois des Celestins.

The infantry front line ran from Bois des Celestins to the west of Bois Gressair and the Bois des Tailles. At 4 pm on the 26th, a general retirement was ordered with the mobile reserve under Captain Amott of the 15th Hussars. It fought a rear guard action along the Bray-Corbie road from Bois des Tailles to the Treux-Sailly Laurette road crossing. It then withdrew to hold the Mericourt-Sailly sector and the Berry-Corbie roads. The Rosieres line, taken up on the afternoon of this day, was held with gallantry and determination to the morning of the 28th.

The regiment turned out at 4.45 am on the 27th, and marched to Bonney where it remained in reserve all the morning. At midday German cavalry were reported in the direction of Bois des Celestins, north of Chipilly and north of the River Somme. The Brigade moved up into the valley north of Vaux sur Somme, the Eighth in advance, and halted in support of the 1st Cavalry Brigade. At 4 pm the 8th Hussars and the 15th Hussars were ordered up to Sailly sector, dismounted, to support the 1st Cavalry Brigade, who were being heavily attacked.

No action took place during the afternoon or evening, and the Brigade moved up to Bois de Vaire, south of the river Somme, and took up a position in support of the infantry. The Brigade led horses, under Lieutenant-Colonel Mort, went back from Bois de Vaire to Corhie, where they remained all night, while Major Curell commanded the dismounted regiment.

The Eighth was only 190 strong on the 26th. Three troops of ‘A’ Squadron were sent to ‘C’ Squadron and one troop to ‘B’ Squadron.

Later in the year when the tide had turned and the Allies were on the advance, the Regiment was involved in the last Battle of the Somme at Albert from 12-13 August 1918.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 8th Hussars
  2. Western Front 1914-18 timeline
  3. Capt RFG Adlercron DSO