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Remembered Today:

9th Bn Rifle Brigade


Flamstead

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I am currently researching Corporal Frederick Armstrong (S/30914) of the 9th Bn Rifle Brigade. He was killed in action on the 24th March 1918 during the Battle of St Quentin.

Whilst I have been able to locate information about him as an individual (eg. Medal Roll, CWGC, Casualty Lists In Local Newspapers) I have not been able to identify exactly what his unit were doing that day.

I simply wondered if anyone on this site might have access to the Battalions War Diary or a Regimental History that they could help me with.

Simon

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Simon,

OK this is a tricky one to answer fully, the 42nd Brigade were in reserve on the 21st March with the battalion war diary not being exactly helpful to put it mildly.

The history states the following:-

"For the 14th Division, the night of 23rd/24th March was comparitively quiet. The situation was that troops opf the 326th French Regiment and the 41st Brigade were astride the Cigny-Ugny le Gay road about the southern exit of the former village; the remainder of the Brigade and the 43rd Brigade continued the lione southwards as far as the spur just south east of La Neuville en Beine. The position of the 42nd Brigade is not mentioned, and it will be remembered, the diaries of that Brigade and of the 9th Rifle Brigade give little help.

On March 24th the 7th Battalion details "in conjunction with the French" and owing to pressure on the flanks withdraw to a position near Beines, where a hasty line was dug.

Going into somewhat greater detail the 8th Battalion account states that at 11am orders were received to withdraw and reform behind the French at Grandes Beines Farm; whilst this was being carried out the French were driven back and the 8th Battalion took up a form of hollow square and dug in on high ground north of Bienes.

About 2pm the Battalion was ordered to fall back and concentrate near Buchoire. There rations were sent up, but enemy aeroplanes prevented any concentration and his artillery opened with 5.9's At this juncture the Brigadier-General arrived and ordered concentration on Crisolles. The Battalion thereupon moved across country to Quesny, where further trouble awaited in the form of shells from an H.V. gun. Crisolles was reached at 7.45pm and the men were able to make themselves comfortable in some straw found near the Sucrerie. At 10.20pm there was another move to La Vignette, which the 8th Battalion reached at 3.0am on the 25th.

Of the events of the 24th Lieutenant Gould, 8th RB, records that when it was clear enough to see severe casualties were inflicted upon the enemyby vickers and lewis machine guns, provoking retaliation from trench mortars. About 11am it was observed that the enemy was breaking through towards Brouchy, and, although I did not agree with it, I conformed to the order to retire. The retirement was carried out under a withering fire from machine guns and I was winged in the right ankle and am now at the base hospital, hoping to go to Blighty.

The 7th Battalion details, whilst digging near Bienes, were ordered to Buchoire and thence to Crisolles, where they arrived at about 11pm.

The 9th Battalion records concisely that at 12 noon, it was relieved and marched to Guiscard, at 7pm moved to Crisolles, and at 10pm to Sermaize, where it was billeted in the church.

Herein lies the crux of the matter, the 42nd Brigade diary mentions nothing apart from the defence scheme for the 21st March, we then have to look at the Divisional diary where for the 22nd to 30th March it simply notes see wires appendix. By following the wires we find that 2 companies of the 9th RB were ordered up to the 41st Brigade, but no mention as to what unit of the 41st Brigade.

Was your man one of the 2 companies of the 9th RB ordered up to the 41st Brigade????

Andy

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Hi Andy,

Very many thanks for sharing this with me.

It is unfortunate, but very understandable, that the War Diary entries may not have been in a great level of detail at that time. They did, after all, have much more pressing matters to attend to on a daily basis !

I think that your observation about 2 companies being ordered to 41st Brigade might well be relevant in suggesting what happened to this man.

Simon

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Simon,

I have one further reference which ties in with the position of the 41st Brigade somewhat in that on the 21st the 9th RB moved up to the railway embankment at Montescourt, two companies being sent forward to the 41st Brigade to escort guns in front of Clastres, and then covered the retirement of the Division. On the 23rd the enemy attacked and as the battalions left flank was found to be in the air it retired to the Cugny road where it remained until 12 noon on the 24th, when it was relieved.

This ties in with the 41st Brigade as in position.

My feeling is that the 2 companies sent forward to the 41st Brigade is key, but as you say with the confusion in these days the records are not as ordered as we would like.

I hope this all helps you a little.

Andy

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Hi Andy,

I can promise you this all helps very much.

Simon

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