' Stockport Soldiers who died 1914 - 1918 - Battle Report
Vimy Ridge Advancing toward La Culotte
Date: 14/15 April 1917
Regiment: 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment

Canadian troops had captured Vimy Ridge on 9 April, in one of the famous actions of the Great War.  Early on the morning of 14 April, the Cheshires were ordered forward to relieve Canadians in trenches on the summit of the ridge.  When the advance party arrived, it found the Germans had withdrawn further and the Canadians had followed them. Eventually the Canadian front line was discovered - now in previously occupied enemy trenches at the foot of the ridge.

The Battalion eventually arrived at the new front line just as it was getting dark and it seemed as though the Germans had withdrawn still further. It was decided to push forward groups of men, to act as outposts, towards the village of La Culotte. By the time the outposts were in place, orders were received to withdraw to the original position (on top of the ridge). This was carried out overnight and, just as it was getting light, further orders were received that the Battalion was to act as the Brigade's advance guard moving via La Culotte towards the city of Lens.

The Regimental History notes that "practically none of the officers had any experience of this form of manoeuvre and only after very strenuous work by the Battalion staff was the unit ready to advance at the appointed time.

The History continues "All went well until nearing La Culotte, when they came on a line of German trenches, heavily wired and fully manned. Machine gun fire was also opened from houses in rear and no further advance was possible.....In the afternoon, an unfortunate incident occurred. A party of Devons coming up from the rear mistook our Battalion Headquarters and opened fire on them.....There was now nothing for it but to organise the line and dig in."

Records indicate that 12 members of the Battalion were killed during this action, although it records them all as having died on 14 April (with none being recorded on 15 April). In the chaos of the day, it is not surprising that an error of dates may have crept into the casualty returns. Ernest Dean and Fred Harrop were amongst the 12. Thomas Bennett would die, on 30 April, from wounds he received here.

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