Digging in

The 22nd of March, 1918 saw the 8th digging in around Morchies - Beaumetz , around 8am C Coy came under heavy shell fife as they took over a collection of shell holes from a battaion of the Cheshire regiment.

During the day they were under heavy bombardment and also  machine gun fire from aircraft. James Marchbank recalls

"4am, left here and got shovels to dig new trench behind Morchus (sic) at daybreak. Heavy barrage opened on this trench so we were ordered to fall back 100 yards. We occupied shell holes at midday. Heavy barrage 4-6pm, aeroplane and machine gun fire. At dusk the enemy attacked, Lance Corporal Swan was wounded with many others, tanks in the action forced the enemy to retire.

We then moved along to the right flank, I went on patrol with a Corporal (who was taken prisoner a little afterward) We discovered the enemy and were encountered by an enemy patrol. We then had a fight in the moonlight and had to withdraw through 19 Division. We went back to Beugny and got a few cigarettes each, we made tea at Fremicourt. The enemy shelled so we had to sleep in the trench."

The war diary records heavy fighting and the battalion going to assist the Seaforth Highlanders to hold the line, no mention is made of tanks  but they are mentioned in the official history. Despite the intense pressure they even managed to capture a German bomber, he was lucky to survive, however facing overwhelming odds the 8th are forced to retire, behind them they have left many of the best men who had paid the ultimate price.

Sgt 325002 George Souness (Haddington) a veteran from 1914,the NCO in charge of the machine gun section, and a pre-war member of the 8th.
Commemorated on the Arras Memorial

Pte 325173 Gideon Watt from Prestonkirk, East Lothian, a veteran from 1914. Commemorated on the Arras Memorial

L Cpl 325321 Tom Gilchrist , a veteran from early 1915.
Commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

L Cpl 325329 James L Mclean , who joined after 1916.
Commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

Pte 325331 Reginald Whitteron a veteran from early 1915. Missing presumed dead.
Commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

Pte 330697 John Wilson from Portobello, he was buried in Fremicourt but moved  after the war to Bancourt British Cemetery. The only man with a grave from the day's fighting.

Pte 335137 Gordon Tait from Walkerburn,Peebleshire
Commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

Pte 335234 Thomas Ritchie from Traquir, Peeblshire a veteran from 1915
Commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

Pte 335337 Harold McKinna from Gatehouse, Kirkcudbrightshire.
Commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pte 335566 Tom Speedy from The Inch,Edinburgh enlisted 1914. Commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

Pte 335645 Tom Newman from Haithwaite, Nottinghamshire
Commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

In addition several men including Captain A D Jones the adjutant were wounded

 

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