James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

The retreat continues

At 10 p.m. the troops were relieved and set off for their billets in Suzanne. Major Johnston recalled that he was so hungry and tired on this march that he began to hallucinate.

At 3 p.m. the next day the Battalion set off for Vaire-sous-Corbie. However, at Morlancourt (map), they were redirected to take up positions on the Albert-Amiens railway. Arthur Crookenden in his History of the Cheshire Regiment in the Great War, (p. 133) described the scene: “Morlancourt presented the now familiar spectacle of hopeless congestion, civilian carts, guns, tanks, transport, wounded soldiers civilians and leaderless man, all struggling westward. Here it was found that the Battalion transport with food, blankets and great coats, had been sent across the river. The only rations procurable were some biscuits, the remnants of a dump made for the retiring troops, which naturally had been mostly eaten by those who first passed that way. However, by some means or other, the officers succeeded in getting the men some hot food, the first hot meal they had had since leaving Ypres."

It was a quiet night but extremely cold and, with little protection from the elements, the men just had to dig themselves in. Having been relieved at noon the following day they spent another night in the open in bivouacs. On the night of the 30th/ 31st the men, totally exhausted, marched to billets at Lahoussoye. The acting CO reported: "Never had our officers and men shown better form … our losses although heavy were very small in proportion to those inflicted on our opponents and generally the fine reputation of the Battalion was greatly enhanced." The Battalion losses were 3 officers and 52 ORs killed, 15 officers and 385 ORs wounded or missing.