GERMAN ADVANCE AT THE BATTLE OF ST QUENTIN.
The Russian Revolution and that country's subsequent withdrawal from the War in the East had allowed the
Germans to transfer troops to the Western Front.
On the 21st of March 1918 they were ready to launch 76 Divisions against the 28 of the Allies along a 50 mile
Front in the St Quentin area. The plan appears to have been to split the British and French Armies, capture
the Channel ports and thus cut off the British Army and prevent further landings.
The news that America had belatedly entered the War meant they had to take decisive action before they were
The lads of the 4th Yorks Btn had been thrown right into the centre of this onslaught.
16th MARCH. |
240346 L/Cpl Glenton John, W. Home at - Mount Pleasant, Muston, Filey, N Yorks. Born at Whitby and
enlisted Scarborough N Yorks. Killed in action. Age 34. Commemorated on the Posieres Memorial
Rumours that the Bosche were planning a major offensive were treated as the Generals "crying wolf"
as they had so often before.
On this day the Germans at 4.30 a.m , with their, by now, superior fire power, launched
a bombardment aimed at taking out Allied command posts, communications and Artillery.
This was quickly followed by
specially selected Stormtroopers, under the cover of a dense morning fog, attacking the Allied Front line and causing
panic by keeping going. Mopping up was left to Troops in reserve.
Much of the area over which the attack took place
had just been taken over by the British and defences had not been prepared in depth across the wrecked ground of the old
The 50th Division were still under "12 hours notice" to move when the attack started.
All day long they waited and
in the evening received orders to march to Guillaucourt.
At night the 150th Brigade were taken by train to Brie
and at midnight commenced a six hour march to take over the rear zone of defences in the Green Line near Harcourt
[covering Flechin,Bernes area.]
The 4th Bn were in the Brigade centre with the 4th East Yorks to the Right and the 5th DLI on the Left.
The 50th Division were in Reserve to the XIX Corps and the position it was ordered to take up was between the
Omignon and Cologne Rivers on a Front which had been partially barbed wired.
By 8.0 a.m the Btn was in the Green Line with the East Yorkshires on their right and the
5th Yorks Btn in Reserve.
Again it was a thick misty morning.
Two Divisions in front were ordered to retire and soon
streams of men, horses, tanks, guns and limbers were coming through and the Green Line became the Front Line.
At 6 p.m the enemy attacked and the Btn was forced to give ground to a position about 800 yds West of the Green
It was here that the Commanding Officer, Lt Col Charlton and Adjutant Capt J.S. Bainbridge who had gone up
to rally the left Company were killed. Companies had lost touch with one another, but fortunately the enemy's attack
stopped short and no further advance was made.|
Nine men were killed in action and are commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial.
Capt and Adjutant James Scott Bainbridge Killed in action.
Home at Ravensworth, Richmond, N Yorks, where he is shown on the 1891 census as aged 3 living with his widowed Mother Mary, 2 older brothers,
2 older sister and 2 servants.
He was educated at the North Eastern County School, Barnard Castle. In 1905 he entered the chemical laboratories of Messrs. Rowntree and
Co. Ltd and in 1907 became an undergraduate of the University of Leeds.
After three years' study he graduated B.Sc. with first-class Honours in Chemistry, and gained the Associateship of the Institute of
Chemistry. After subsequent and important work with Messrs. Rowntree he was appointed in 1915 Research Chemist at the Doncaster Coal
Owners' Laboratory and was to have taken up this post in the Autumn of that year.
When War was declared he enlisted in his local Battalion and served initially as an Other Rank with the 4th Battalion, going over to France
when the Bn first went in April 1915. He rose to Company Sergeant Major before receiving a Commission.
In December 1916 he was wounded when the Battalion were defending the line near Warlencourt at the end of the Battle of the Somme.
He was gassed in the fighting at Arras Apr to Oct 1917.
The War Diary says that he and the Battalion OC, Lt Col B H Charlton [see below] "had gone up to rally the Company on the Left."
when they were both killed.
The University of Leeds Officer Training Corps Roll of Honour says of him:-
Mr. Bainbridge was a man of charming personality, kindly disposition and great energy, and deeply as we regret his death, we feel that,
like unto many others, the example of so successful a career is never lost."
His name is on Panel 31 and 32 of the Pozieres Memorial.
2Lt Thomas Anderson Hyslop. Age 22. Died. He had been awarded the Military Cross. Attached to the 4th Battalion
from the 10th. Son of John and Grace Hyslop, of 99, Rosebery Rd., Muswell Hill, London.
Acting/Capt Charles Neville Carleton Stiff. Killed in action. Age 36. His Fathers Home was "Alfoxden", Chestnut Avenue, Torquay.
He was born in Eastbourne, Sussex in the April/May Quarter of 1881.
In 1891 Aged 9 he is a Boarder/Pupil in a prep school for Boys at Arundel Road, Hillside, Eastbourne.
In 1901 aged 19 he is a Land Agent's Pupil, residing at 34 Foxfield Green, Petersfield, Hampshire.
In 1911 aged 29 he is residing at Coronation Terrace. Guisborough, N Yorks and Occupation showns as Independent Means.
The London Gazette of the 26th April 1915:-
"4th Battalion, Alexandra, Princess of Wales's Own (Yorkshire Regiment).
 Lance-Corporal Charles Neville Carleton Stiff, from the Yorkshire Hussars (Alexandra,Princess of Wales's Own Yeomanry, to
be Second Lieutenant. Dated 5th April, 1915.
Pte William Henry Lewis.|
Killed in action, age 19.
[Photo kindly contributed by his Great Niece, Heather Lewis of Middlesbrough.]
Second Lieutenant Charles N. C. Stiff to be temporary Lieutenant." Dated 5th April 1915.|
He does not appear to have gone to France with the Battn on the 18th April 1915 as his Medal Card shows that he was not awarded the 1914/15
The Battn War Diary records that he was received with other reinforcements as a Lieutenant two years later on the 30th November 1917 at
No evidence has been found as to what happened to him in between these times.
A poster to the Great War Forum says that he was a "Freemason in the Province of Yorkshire North and East Ridings No 561 Zetland Lodge".
He is commemorated on the War Memorial at Guisborough, N Yorks.
241711 L/Cpl Cartwright Bernard. Born at Malton N Yorks. Enlisted at Gainsborough.
200399 Pte Hutchings Phillip. Home at - 115 Crawley Rd Horsham, Sussex. Born and
enlisted at Richmond, N Yorks. Age 31. Of "Y" Company.
38371 Pte Jemmeson Fred. Home at Barnard Castle Durham. Born Marwood, Co Durham.
Enlisted at Sunderland.
201093 Pte Lewis William, Henry. Home at 7 Heath Tce, N Ormesby, Middlesbrough. Age 19. Born 31st October
1898. [The CWGC has him in the 4th Yorks Battn, while the SDGC has him in the 5th.]
243481 Pte Sweetmore Matthew. Home at 40 Kiln Cottages, Harper Hill, Buxton, Derbys, place
of enlistment. Born at Burbage, Derbys. Age 36.
Lt Col Bernard Hedley Charlton. M.C.
Death of Battalion OC, Lt Col Bernard Hedley Charlton. |
Bernard Hedley Charlton was born in the July Quarter of 1885 at Guisborough, N Yorks. His Father, William Charlton, came from nearby Eston
and was a Mining Engineer and Manager of the local Spawood Ironstone Mine. He gained the name of "Ratchet Willie" when he introduced a new
drill in the mines.
Bernard's Mother, Francis Elizabeth [nee Bartlett] came from Islington, Middlesex. The family lived at West Garth, Westgate, Guisborough.
He attended, as a boarder, Rossall School, Fleetwood, Lancashire, where he was Captain of the Bisley Team and went
on to graduate as a Mining Engineer at the Royal School of Mines.
At the 1911 census, age 25, he was working in this capacity in one of the Ironstone Mines near Guisborough.
He had already joined the local defence force, for when the Territorial Force was established on the 1st April 1908 and became the 4th
Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment Bernard is shown as a Second Lieutenant. No doubt this was in the "D" Company at Guisborough.
Some time between 1911 and 1914, he was appointed Manager of Messrs S B Samuelson’s Hedley Hope Collieries, Co Durham.
He continued to serve with the 4th Yorks Bn and in May 1914 was given the Command of one of the Companies.|
A local newspaper reported his presence on the 14th Jan 1915 at the funeral in Guisborough of fellow Officer, 2nd Lt A J B Richardson, who had
contracted cerebro-spinal meningitis on service.
Captain B H Charlton was with the Battalion when they first went out to France on the 18th April 1915 and were almost immediately involved in
the Second Battle of Ypres when their charge at Fortuin and defence alongside the Canadians prevented a German breakthrough.
On the 25th May 1915 in another German attack on trenches astride the Menin Road outside the village of Bellewaarde, he was badly gassed and
spent some time in Hospital.
On the 28th October he was appointed Adjutant of the 4th Battalion and on the 10th November mentioned in Despatches.
On the 16th of November 1915 he was married to Dorothy Frances, daughter of Mr C H Joliffe of Newlins Grange, Darlington.
In the New Year's Honours List for 1916 he was awarded the Military Cross.
At Kemmel on the 16th June 1916 he was wounded when the 4th Yorks Bn suffered a heavy German bombardment of their trenches.
By September 1916 the 4th Yorks Bn were involved in the latter stages of the Battle of the Somme. Bernard had by this time been
promoted to Major and was signing the War Diary as the Officer Commanding.
During 1917 the Battalion were involved in fighting at Arras and from October in the final stages of Passchendaele, Ypres. Major Charlton
was again mentioned in Despatches.
On the 27th December 1917 he was given official Command of the Battalion and promoted to the rank of Acting Lt Col.
In March 1918, with Russia out of the War, the Germans were able to bring their Divisions from the East and with a great superiority in numbers
make a final drive to win the War on the Western Front. At the Battle of St Quentin the 28 British Divisions were driven back many
miles by the 76 German Divisions towards Amiens and the 50th Division, of which the 4th Yorks were a part, were placed in the centre of this
On the 22nd March Lt Col Charlton was killed in action. The Battalion War Diary says that in a thick misty morning Companies had lost touch
with each other and "Lt Col Charlton along with Adjutant Capt J S Bainbridge had gone up to rally the Company on the Left."
The writer of his obituary in the Green Howards Gazette said:-
"Colonel Charlton’s death will be much felt in the Battalion, in which he took the keenest interest. Zealous, tactful and full of sound
common-sense, he possessed the complete confidence of those who were privileged to serve under him; he was the type of Officer that can ill
be spared. To have risen so quickly through the officer ranks he must have been a very confident and capable man. How sad he was never able
to fulfil his potential like so many others of that generation."
He was just 32 years of age and his grave can be seen today in Roisel Communal Cemetery Extension on the road to Villers-Faucon.
On the 22nd the 4th Yorks Btn marched from Brie and took over trenches covering the villages of Bernes and
Early on the 23rd March orders were received to retire to positions on the West bank of the River Somme.
Line of 4th Yorks Btn retreat shown in green.
201023 Cpl Willoughby William. Home at 5 Dudley Terrace, Northallerton, place of enlistment.
Age 32. He was married to Viola and had two children.
240510 Pte Wilson Fred. 12 Middle St, North Driffield, Yorks, place of birth and enlistment.
Age 21. Buried at Roisel Communal Cemetery Extension.
201103 Pte Cooke Ralph, Henry. Home at 1 George St, Summertown, Oxford. Enlisted at
Northallerton, N Yorks. Age 20. Buried at Roisel Communal Cemetery Extension.
201979 Pte McNultry Edward. Home at Hull, Yorks, place of birth. Enlisted at Northallerton,
N Yorks. Age 25. Buried at Roisel Communal Cemetery Extension.
Diary "Early in the morning Orders were received to retire to a line running from Vraignes to
Here the 4th East Yorks and 5th Yorks were in the Line and the 4th Yorks were in Support."
During the morning Orders were received to retire on a prepared line on the River Somme.
were given for Battalions to cover the withdrawal of the other two.
The East Yorks reported that these orders were received four hours late,
by which time they were being outflanked by the enemy.
The retirement of the 4th East Yorks and the 5th Yorks Btn was covered by the 4th Yorks, who fought rear-guard action
all the way back to Le Mesnil-Bruntel.
The enemy pressed forward with machine guns, artillery and aeroplanes and kept up a gruelling fire from all these
It was a summer like morning with hot sun and as the battle went on hour after hour unceasingly, with the
enemy artillery becoming ever more pressing the fatigue of marching and fighting was more and more felt.
At Brie enormous fires were burning and ammunition dumps which could not be removed were blown up.
German Infantry and Artillery at St Quentin preparing for the Offensive they called "Michael".|
[Picture from - "Das Archiv zum 1. Weltkrieg ".].
Huts, camps and aerodromes were all burning on the East of the River Somme.|
From the Green Line the Battalions of the 50th
Division fought and retired a distance of ten and a half miles in eight hours, the greater part of the distance
being covered in extended line over open country with rear guard actions being taken.
On reaching the River Somme, the Brigade Commander ordered one Company to hold the high ground East of Brie until all
British troops were through Brie.
Afterwards this Company covered the retirement of the other troops across the
River Somme and held the enemy in check until all the bridges except had been destroyed.
They then withdrew across this bridge which was immediately destroyed."
The Brigade narrative states that the 4th Yorks Btn had had to fall back almost immediately the 4th East Yorks and
5th Yorks Btn had retired, as the enemy came on so rapidly after the last Btn had passed through.
The Btn less the Company which had covered the retirement joined the rest of the Brigade at Villers-Carbonnel.
The other Company went to the Transport Lines at Belloy en Santerre, where they rested for the night.
Casualties Major H. Brown, D.S.O. M.C. was killed. A/Capt A.R. Powys missing. 2nd Lts Benyon and Stein wounded.