First World War


9-29 April 1918

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A group honour incorporating the “Battle of Estaires”, the “Battles of Messines, 1918”, the “Battle of Hazebrouck”, the “Battle of Bailleul”, the “First Battle of Kemmel Ridge”, the “Battle of Béthune”, the “Second Battle of Kemmel Ridge”, and the “Battle of the Scherpenberg”, formally entitled “The Battles of the Lys”, and itself forming part of “The Offensive in Flanders (9th-29th April, 1918)”.Footnote 1


The German Spring 1918 offensive was slowly reducing the Ypres salient, retaking Passchendaele, Poelcappelle, Langemarck and Polygon Wood, all of which had originally been captured at great cost the previous autumn. The Royal Newfoundland Regiment, serving as a component of 88th Infantry Brigade, 29th Division of the British Army, was withdrawn from the line on 9 April. As 88 Brigade proceeded to the rear they came under German shell fire which heralded yet another enemy offensive in Flanders. Turned about and returned to the front, the Brigade's three battalions would now fight apart from its parent formation. Instead they were attached to the 34th Division. This force of six brigades would face and halt the six divisions of the 2nd Bavarian Corps over the next few days.

After helping to stop the German advance the Newfoundlanders were pulled back to act as reserve battalion and as the brigade counter-attack force. A German attack the next day outflanked the Newfoundlanders, requiring them to fight in a defensive posture throughout the day using a railway embankment as a front line. An officer later said of the enemy assault “It was almost like Beaumont-Hamel again, but this time we were the ones on the defensive.” With the enemy stopped once again the Newfoundlanders were pulled back. On 21 April the Newfoundlanders were relieved by a French unit and left the front.

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