' Stockport Soldiers who died 1914 - 1918 - Battle Report
 
           
 
Battle of Albert the capture of Achiet
Date: 21 August 1918
Regiment: 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment

At the beginning of August, a major Allied offensive was launched was launched with the intention of recapturing ground lost in the spring. The next phase was scheduled to commence on 21 August. It would be later officially known as the Battle of Albert and would take place over the same Somme battlefields as the fighting of 1916.

By 19 August, the Cheshires were in position near the front line in front of the village of Bucquoy, some six miles north of the town of Albert. The attack would be launched down a steep slope to the bottom of the valley and then up a similar slope to the hamlets of Achiet-le-Petit and Achiet-le-Grand and, finally, to capture a railway line on the far side of the hamlets. The Germans were well entrenched with lines of barbed wire in front of them and had many machine guns covering the whole of the valley. Other battalions would deal with the German front line and the second wave of the attack, which included the Cheshires, would overlap to take Achiet and the railway.

Just before dawn and under a very heavy artillery barrage, the leading units left their trenches and quickly secured their objectives, halting just before Achiet for 30 minutes. This allowed the Cheshires to move up and commence the second phase. This part of the advance was undertaken without artillery support as it was beyond the range of the British field guns, but six tanks advanced with the infantry. It was now broad daylight but fog was helping the Cheshires to advance without being spotted. The Regimental History records that "Achiet was captured without very casualties by "A" and "B" Companies which, with "C" Company in support, pushed on through the village to the final objective, which was the railway line about 800 yards away.  "D" Company was left to mop up a large number of prisoners, a battery of artillery and many machine guns. It had to deal with a German machine gunner in a tree who was raking the village main street with his fire.

As the three Companies moved off, the fog lifted and they came under very heavy machine gun fire from beyond the railway and from both flanks. They continued to fight their way up the hill, reaching the railway and holding it. The tanks had moved round to the left of the ridge but most were knocked out before they could support the infantry. Within 15 minutes, the final objectives had been secured and a counter-attack repulsed. It was now realised that they were some 500 yards ahead of other troops and the enemy was working round to their side. It was decided to make a small strategic withdrawal and this was undertaken under heavy fire from three directions. A new position was taken up 300 yards east of the village.

The Battalion had gone into action 600 strong and had lost 300 killed and wounded. Amongst the dead were Walter Broadhurst, Hugh Hartley and Thomas Lomas. Thomas Hughes is believed to have been severely wounded in the fighting and died in hospital on 30 August.

   
           
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