During the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line 5/4/17

1/8th Worcestershire Regiment

The village of Epehy was captured by the 48th (South Midland) Division on the 1st April, however German strongholds of Ronssoy and Basse Boulogne remained. On the 4th April, orders came that the 145th Brigade were to attack these strongholds – the 1/8th Worcesters would cover their right flank by attacking Templeux-le-Guerard. Their objective was a fortified artificial mound north of the village. The regimental history records that “If ever an enterprise seemed doomed to failure by adverse circumstances it was that attack.” Colonel Clarke rode forward with his Company Commanders to reconnoitre the ground, but it was snowing so hard that it was difficult to make anything out (Captain Greenwell, of the 1/4th OBLI, who was involved in the main attack further to the north, described the night as “simply filthy – heavy snow and rain.”) – however they saw enough to decide that the information and maps they had been given were wholly inaccurate.

Key: (A)(B)(C) The positions of 'A', 'B' and 'C' Coys for the attack on the Mound

Key: (A)(B)(C) The positions of ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ Coys for the attack on the Mound

The Battalion set out for the attack, but only arrived just before 4.45am when the British bombardment opened up. It was pitch dark and bitterly cold as the battalion deployed and advanced towards the village – the only light being provided by bursting shells. ‘A’ Company deployed on the right, ‘B’ in the centre and ‘C’ moved to the left to attack the north-eastern face of the Mound.

‘A’ Company detached a platoon under Lieutenant J. T. Hill to the cross roads at the eastern end of the village – they came under heavy fire from the crest of the mound and from the right from Malakoff Farm; but they put held their ground gallantly. Meanwhile ‘B’ Company under Captain J. P. Bate scaled the slope of the Mound, closely followed by the remainder of ‘A’ Company. The enemy positions were taken on the top of the Mound with the help of ‘C’ Company who had moved from the left, and ‘B’ Company moving from the right.

With numerous casualties, there was no shortage of bravery. When their platoon officers were hit, Sgt W. E. Edwards and Cpl H. Gisbourne took over command of their platoons and led them on. By dawn, German resistance weakened and were soon in full retreat – the Mound was in British hands by 8am and it was clear that the attack by the 145th Bde had been successful.

The regimental history records: “Luck and skilful leading had resulted in a casualty list which was small in view of the gain. The following day was celebrated as a complete holiday.” Indeed the leadership resulted in the commanders of ‘B’ and ‘C’ Companies were awarded Bars to their Military Crosses, and Edwards and Gisbourne were awarded the DCM. Casualties amongst the Battalion were one officer and 11 men killed and one officer and 37 men wounded.”

Stacke, Capt H. FitzM The Worcestershire Regiment in the Great War Kidderminster 1921