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Remembered Today:

Battery L



The Royal Artillery Association published a poem recording the action of L Battery Royal Artillery at Nery on September 1st 1914 when 3 Victoria Crosses were won.






It was written in 1915 by Gunner BS Chandler whilst recovering in an Army Hospital in Cheltenham. It was written in a scrap book collated by recovering soldiers.




The 3 Victoria Crosses were won by Captain Edward Bradbury, Battery Sergeant-Major George Dorrell and Sergeant David Nelson.




Orders had come to battery 'L'

To hold the ridge and hold it well

To cover the march across the plain

Of troops retiring on Compaigne;

The simple orders they received

Were to guard the way till they were relieved

Protecting the rear with trusty guns

From the coming sweep of the myriad "Huns"


The night wore on and the early day

Opened in mist that was dense and grey;

All was silence and none could see

What the movements of troops might be

The men imagined that their task was o'er

And waited the orders to march once more

But signalling plans it seems went wrong

And never a message came along


Higher and higher the sun rose

The mist is melting it slowly goes

The beams of the sun its vapours dispel

For there on the frowning hills around,

Masses of Germans cover the ground

The British and French had got away well

But they'd somehow forgotten Battery 'L'


From the laughing Army over the way

Ten guns and two Maxims come into play;

The first cannonade is direct and dire

The battery's horse fall in the fire.

'Tis a murdering thing to suddenly know

Instead of friend you face a foe;

Buth the battery losing horse and man

Must stay where it is and do what it can.


It’s horses are slain it cannot move

Its guns retreat by labour of love;

Of the guns themselves there are only three

That men can train on the enemy.

Only three guns the duel ti begin

The foe have ten with maxims thrown in !

But there is no complaint from battery 'L'


Not a man jack among them is unnerved

Just as at Woolwich the guns are served

Though whistling shot and shells that screech,

Mow down the gunners at the breech.

Officers served the guns with the men

Every rank was equal then;

And when one fell in a fraction of space

Up stepped another in his place


They fought like heroes they fought like gods

But ten to three are terrible odds:

And spite of all that valour could do,

Of three guns the enemy silenced two.

Two guns gone from poor little three

Well that’s When an Englishman is fine to see

And all the tales our histories tell

In front will be that of Battery 'L'


One gun firing and that the last!

The men who serve are falling fast;

Glad in grim death before they go

To reap high ruin upon the foe:

The aim is true and the range is right

The Germans are in a pitiful plight.

But little they guess across the plain

Only three Englishmen remain


Darrel, Osborne, Derbyshire

They fought for a day, nor ceased to fire

Till killed or retreated were all the Hunns

Leaving behind ten silent guns:

And when help came to that marvellous band

Three wounded men could scarcely stand

A wonderful hush on the regiments fell

As they stood and saluted Battery 'L'







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