Private Albert Buzzacott
First enlisted 4887,
then transferred from the Territorial Force
to a New Army battalion as
322158, 6th Battalion,
City of London Regiment

Died 28.03.18  aged 34

      Albert Buzzacott was born in 1884, the son of Thomas Buzzacot born in 1836 in Bishops Tawton.  As a young lad Thomas was apprenticed to a shoemaker at Venn in Tawstock.  Thomas’ wife Louisa was 14 years younger than her husband when they married in Crediton in 1878.  Her father was Robert Francis Stone, who had started life as a grocer but soon became a tax collector.  Both her parents were dead at the time of her marriage.  Louisa’s first child, Richard Priest Stone (father unknown), had been born in 1873 in Crediton.  Thomas always recorded Richard as his own son.  Edith was next, born in 1880 in Manaton, near Mortonhampsted, where Thomas lived at the time of his marriage.  Thomas was still working (as described in the 1881 census) as a shoemaker livng in Mill Cottage, Manaton.  Albert was born after the move to Chumleigh.  After Albert there were two more children, Grace born in 1885 in Chumleigh, and Alice in 1887 after the move to Winkleigh, which happened sometime between those two years.  The 1891 census now describes Thomas as a fish dealer with his son Richard.  The family lived first in Bowrish Cottage situated in the lane running from the end of Queen Street, which is now a dead-end blocked by the new road that was built as a Winkleigh by-pass to serve the Second World War airfield.  We can judge that the move to Winkleigh from Chumleigh offered good prospects for the family: brisk for business, and the schooling was above the average.  Both Albert and Grace were bright children.  The Winkleigh School log-book records that in December 1892 both children achieved an ‘honourable mention’ in the scripture exam, with Grace achieving a ‘good’ standard in September 1895.  A possible link is that Abert’s grandparents, both described as ‘licensed hawkers’ were occupying a house in Park Terrace, Winkleigh, at the time of the 1871 census.  It appears that Thomas registered his father's death in Newton Abbot (which includes Manaton) in late 1879, so Thomas would have been familiar with Winkleigh and Park Terrace, where Louisa and Richard were eventually living in 1911.

      Thomas was an elderly parent for those days, and died in 1902 aged 66.  In 1901, the year before Thomas’ death, the family had moved to the south side of the junction of what is now the Exeter Road and Lower Town.  Richard, now aged 27, was working with his father to run the family business.  His sister Edith had already left home, to become an apprentice draper, living with Albert Cornish, a married man without children, who was a draper and lived at 35 High Street, Thornton Heath.  As Albert Cornish had been born in Crediton, it is reasonable to assume that he was related to Edith via her maternal grandmother.  In the autumn of 1903, aged 23, Edith married Edgar Gresswell, a carpenter and joiner, who had been born in Croydon.

      Albert was at first apprenticed to one of the tailors in Winkleigh.  There are at least seven listed in the 1901 census.  Among these, there was the elderly Josiah Crocker, now aged 71 in 1901 and living at Sedgets, Lowertown, next door to the Buzzacotts.  In 1901 the other sisters, Grace aged 16, and Alice aged 14, who had already left school, were helping at home.

      By 1911 Richard and his mother Louisa were the only part of the family remaining in Winkleigh, and were living in Park Place (i.e. Terrace), with Louisa running a china shop and Richard a marine hawker.  An elderly Winkleigh resident still remembers a china shop in the village.  Grace had left home, to be a draper’s assistant in a hostel for junior drapers in the Hackney Road, Bethnal Green, and in 1912 she married Horace Rose in Edmonton.  At some time Albert had also left Winkleigh and by 1911 was employed as a tailor of ladies’ costumes and lodging with his sister Edith and brother-in-law Edgar Gresswell in 85 High Street, Thornton Heath.  Alice, meanwhile, had followed her sisters into the drapery business.  In 1911, and aged 23, she was working as a draper’s clerk in the same establishment in which her sister Edith had lived, in Thornton Heath.  The business had extended to three houses, 33, 34 and 35 High Street, under the management of Francis Langdon from Somerset and his wife.  Alice eventually married Frank Ball in June 1916, in the Guildford area.  Thus, when the war broke out Edith and Edgar Gresswell, Albert, and Alice were living very near to each other, while also in London were Grace and her husband, Horace Rose.  The transport, including the railway, in London made visiting quite reasonable.  There were other relations in London, too.  The 1901 census shows that Albert’s aunt was working then as a cook in Kensington.  A William Buzzacott from Bishops Tawton, possibly Albert’s uncle, was living with his wife and family in Marylebone in both 1891 and 1901.  There could well have been others in the London area.

      Living in London, Albert had enlisted before the war in the Territorial Force, and he had chosen the nearby 6th Battalion of the City of London Regiment, with a drill hall in South Norwood, and with Battalion Headquarters in the Faringdon Road, Finsbury.  The London Regiment was unique.  It was the largest infantry Regiment in the army with 26 battalions in peace time, expanding to 88 battalions during the war.  At the outset, it was wholly a Territorial Regiment with each battalion retaining its own cap badge.  In 1916 the battalions became part of the Corps of Regular Regiments, but kept their individual names.  The 6th Battalion, known as ‘The Cast-Iron VIth’, had originated in 1860 as the 2nd London Rifle Volunteer Corps, and in 1873 (the Cardwell Reforms) the 6th Battalion became part of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps.  In 1907 (the Haldane reforms) the Territorial forces were reorganised into 14 Divisions, and the London Regiment was formed, with the 6th Battalion becoming The City of London Rifles.  In 1914 the Battalion was expanded as a new army battalion, and became part of the 2nd.  London Brigade, 1st London Division.  It was at this point that the original army territorial force number that had been given to Albert Buzzacott was changed.  On 31 August 1914 the War Office issued instructions for all units of the Territorial Force to form a reserve unit.  The men who had agreed to serve overseas were separated from the rest to form the 1st/6th Battalion.  Those left as ‘home service only’ were formed into the ‘second line’ unit, the 2nd/6th Battalion, which would be the reserve.

      Albert Buzzacott’s medal record indicates that he did not serve in France between 1914 to 1915, and this means that he did not volunteer for overseas service.  Instead, and preferring to remain at home in the 2nd/6th, he would have moved in October 1914 to Walton-on-Thames, then to Burgess Hill in November where the reserve battalion was placed under orders of 2/1st London Brigade in 2/1st London Division.  The ‘second line’ Divisions suffered greatly from lack of equipment of all sorts, and training was inevitably affected.  The next move was to Norwich in May 1915, with the Brigade retitled as 174th Brigade in 58th (2/1st London) Division.  From Norwich the Brigade moved on to Ipswich next month, the Division taking over the East Coast defences in spring 1916.  It moved again, to Sutton Veny, in July 1916.  Albert Buzzacott’s life was soon to change.  As a result of the conscription act in early 1916, all Territorial battalions were now available for overseas service, and consequently the Division received a warning order on 1 January 1917 that it would soon depart for France.  The units crossed the Channel from Southampton from 20th January onwards, with the 2nd/6th landing at Le Havre on 25th, completing the concentration of the Division at Lucheux on 8th February.

      The Division then remained in France and Flanders and took part in the following engagements: the pursuit of the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line (17-28 March), the Battle of Bullecourt (4-17 May) and the actions of the Hindenburg Line (20 May -16 June).  On July 31st 1917 Haig launched the offensive known as Third Ypres, the battle of Passchendaele.  The 2nd/6th were involved particularly in the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge (20-25 September), the Battle of Polygon Wood (26-27 September), and the Second Battle of Passchendaele (26 Octobert - 10 November).  Owing to the shortage of manpower as the war entered its final phase, each brigade within a division were reduced from four battalions to three, with many divisions also shrinking from four brigades to three.  The 1st/6th Battalion was transferred to the 174th Brigade, 58th Division, absorbing the 2nd/6th London Battalion, and retaining its joint title of the 6th Battalion, City of London Rifles.  It was thus that Private Buzzacott was serving in the 6th Battalion, City of London Regiment, 174th Brigade, 58th Division, when he was killed.

      We need to understand the circumstances and difficulties faced by the British army in 1918 at the time of the great German offensive, which explains to a large extent why the initial stages of the attack proved so successful, and how near the Germans were to achieving total victory.  Only the fact that the speed of the advance outran their supplies, advancing as they were over the smashed battlefields of the Somme, coupled with the fact that a change of plan diverted a main thrust from the Channel ports, allowed the British army to prevent the capture of Amiens and with it the collapse of the entire British front.  After the failure of the Passchendaele offensive in 1917, and the mutinies in the French army, the French had requested that the British line should be extended southwards.  Up to 1917, the British front had extended from the Ypres salient in Belgium down as far as the Somme below Albert, a length of some hundred miles.  In comparison, the French line extended some 300 miles, from the Somme down to the Swiss border.  But now, in 1918, the situation of the war had entirely changed.  The collapse of Russia and the October revolution that brought Lenin and the Bolsheviks to power was swiftly followed by the treaty of Brest-Litovsk that took Russia out of the war.  This meant the release of hundreds of thousands of German troops for use on the Western Front, and indeed an unrivalled opportunity for Germany to win the war before a vast American army could arrive in France and save the allies from what seemed almost certain defeat.

      The extension of the British line, besides being arranged by the respective army commanders had also to be agreed by the two governments, but not before it had become a matter of considerable dispute.  Eventually, it was agreed to extend the British line by some twenty-five miles as far as the river Oise, or in fact the village of Barisis, about four miles beyond the river.  The whole of this extension was over ground surrendered by the Germans at the time when they withdrew to the vast defensive system of the Hindenburg Line in March 1917.  The Germans had systematically destroyed every vestige of life in the area which now included both the British and French lines, with every village destroyed, every bridge blown, every tree cut down, the area depopulated, mined and booby-trapped to cause the maximum hardship to the allies.

      Up until 1918 the predominant tactic of the British, French and indeed Russian armies had been to launch vast offensive operations designed to drive the German army out of the territories they occupied in France and Belgium, and to advance into Germany in order to demand the unconditional surrender of all German forces.  Although greatly weakening the German armies, all these offensives had ultimately failed.  After the Somme battles of 1916, followed by Passchendaele and Cambrai in 1917, the lines of the Western Front had hardly changed more than a few miles each way in three years of war.  Now, with the defeat of Russia and the transfer of German division after division to the Western Front, the ultimate objective became an impossible one, at least for the time being.  Roles were reversed.  Now it was the German army that could take the offensive, which a reduced and overstretched British army, with no elaborate defensive structures in place, would find immensely difficult to resist.

      The Germans had concluded an armistice with Russia at Brest-Litovsk on February 9th 1918 and huge numbers of troops were now available for transfer to the West, to launch the final, war-winning campaign that would reach Paris and the Channel ports, drive the British army into the sea and win the war, and all before the Americans could arrive in more than token numbers.  The Germans were aware that the British defences were in no state to withstand a determined attack.  Lines were sited to the allies’ disadvantage, wire was flimsy, machine-gun posts were inadequately sandbagged.  There were few deep dug-outs, no deeply buried signal network.  The old British and German lines on the Somme and Ypres, which could have provided defence in depth, had been allowed to collapse in disrepair, while gun emplacements were not properly concreted.  The state of the trenches was for the most part indescribable.  The old regular army had long gone by late 1915 in fact - and Kitchener‘s New Army had followed them.  There remained the army of conscripts, waiting for the inevitable coming battle.  More and more men were required, and a vigorous process ‘combing out’ was instigated, taking every man that could possibly be spared from training establishments, headquarters staff and those serving beind the lines to make good the losses (mainly into the infantry), to re-build the battalions, brigades and divisions in order to defend the line in 1918.

      On 11th November 1917 Ludendorff presided at a conference at Mons to determine how best to bring a German victory in 1918 by a thrust westwards against the British or southwards against the French.  The Germans had not got the resources for both at once.  Since the British army was now the dominant partner of the alliance, it was decided that the attack must fall on the British lines.  A new and devastating method of attack was designed to follow the initial and devastating barrage.  This was the use of Storm Troops, armed with light machine guns, flame throwers and light trench mortars, to cross the trench lines, by-pass machine gun posts and destroy the artillery.  New signaling methods were devised to allow the forward infantry to signal and control the creeping barrage (rather than to follow a pre-arranged timetable that most often broke down), an entirely new concept in the First World War.  Battle-units would follow the Storm-Troopers to secure the areas captured.

      Code-named ‘Michael’, with huge forces concentrated behind the immensely strong Hindenburg Line, the first attacks were launched from Armentieres in the north to the junction of the British and a joint Franco-British front at Barisis in the south, just above the river Oise.  Just before five o’clock on the morning of March 21st began the most concentrated artillery bombardment the world had ever seen.  Six thousand German guns opened fire simultaneously along a forty mile front between the Sensee River and the Oise, and the entire battle-zone collapsed under the weight and volume of fire and gas mixed with the morning fog and the smoke of battle.  52 German divisions supported by 12 reserve divisions attacked the British 3rd and 5th Armies.  The attack was held by the 3rd Army but broke through the weak 5th Army which held a 42 mile front with only 14 divisions (the 3rd Army had 16 divisions on a 28 mile front).  In the following ten days the Germans advanced 80 kilometres, reaching within 100 kilometres of Paris.  However, losses were horrific, the Germans sustaining over 250,000 casualties, the British 10,000.  The second German offensive, known as Operation Georgette, began on April 9th to the south of Ypres just to the east of Armentieres, aiming to drive the British back to the Channel ports.  With his ‘Backs to the Wall’ order of the day, Haig ordered that every position must be held to the last man.  The Battle of the Lys, as this campaign became known resulted in 109,000 German casualties, 76,000 British and 6,000 Portuguese.  The third great offensive, Operation Blucher, began on May 27th against the French from Soissons, along the Chemin de Dames as far as Reims.  After crossing the Aisne and advancing towards the Marne, general Foch counter-attacked.  The German retreat began.  With barely any reserves left and supplies and munitions at an all-time low, the morale of the German army finally disintegrated.

      Such, in outline, is the account of the final efforts of the German army to win the war.  The story of Private Albert Buzzacott and the 6th Battalion of the City of London Regiment now needs to be told.  Information regarding the circumstances of Albert Buzzacott’s death was obtained from the battalion war diary and the history of the 6th Battalion compiled by Capt. Godfrey, MC after the war.  We take up the story of Albert Buzzacott’s death in the immediate aftermath of the amalgamation of the 1st/6th and 2nd/6th Battalions in January 1918, where they were encamped at Demuin.

      The great German offensive, though expected, had not yet begun when on February 8th 1918 the 6th Battalion left Demuin, where the merger of the two battalions had been accomplished very satisfactorily, and marched to the village of Villers Bretonneux, where they entrained for a rail head at Appilly.  From here the battalion was taken by bus (no doubt one of the old open-top London busses that saw service in France) to the village of Chauny.  The town was in the area that that been destroyed in the German withdrawal, and must have looked to the 6th Battalion as if it had been visited by an earthquake.  Here they spent the night of 8th-9th February.  Only the outer shells of the buildings remained, and these were cracked and liable to fall down at any moment.  The whole area was littered with bricks, timber and tiles.  Paths had been created over the rubble by men, horses and the transport, but in fine weather the rubble became clouds of choking dust , and in wet weather a sticky muddy slime.

      Leaving behind the ‘details’, that is the ‘battle surplus’, the nucleus of officers and men who were kept behind at battalion headquarters in case the battalion was completely destroyed in an attack, together with the quartermaster’s stores and the transport, the rest of the battalion moved closer to the front line, relieving the 18th battalion of the Manchester Regiment in the forest of Coucy.  The 58th Division, to which the battalion belonged, had been allotted the defensive positions both north and south of the Oise, and the 174th Brigade, south of the river, was thus on the extreme right of the British army at the point where the French lines now began.  In February 1918 this was a very quiet sector.  Coucy forest was still intact, and the battalion could congratulate itself on arriving in a sector where the war must have seemed very remote.  The ‘line’ here was not constructed with trenches.  It was nothing more than a series of connected pill-boxes (so-called strong points) lining the edge of a clearing in the forest.  There really was no war at all: occasionally, and more for target practice than in earnest, the Germans would fire a few ‘whizz-bangs’ (high explosive shells) into the ruined village of Barisis, but nothing more.  There was no patrolling, no domination of no-man’s land, no trench-raids.  It was ‘live and let live’ on both sides of the front, or as the Tommies would say, a very ‘cushy’ sector.  It was of course an area of totally false security, an ideal sector for the German army to break through in the great March offensive.  Indeed, there were occasional reminders of the real war: one party from another battalion, marching along as carefree as on a training march in England, was attacked with machine-gun fire and suffered casualties.

      At Barisis itself, the battalion made contact with the French.  Here, some sort of rudimentary trench system had been dug, and here the German and British lines were not too far apart, so that there was occasional shelling and sniping on both sides.  But the line was still a very safe one: from 9th-24th February, during which the 6th Battalion was on the extreme right-hand sector of the British army, only one casualty occurred.  There was much fraternisation between the battalion and the French troops, much trading in rations, wine, vegetables and tobacco, and the interchange of courtesies between the officers.  The battalion also took great interest in the French methods of defence.  Instead of manning the front line with some force, backed by and interchanging them with troops in the reserve trenches, the French relied heavily on counter-attacks to maintain their positions.  Thus the French front-line at Barisis was virtually deserted.  A few sentries, usually well hidden in the ruins of a demolished cottage was all that served as a front-line, and all tracks leading to the vicinity of a post would be protected with something that gave an audible signal: pieces of iron jangling on a wire or a loose plank across a rivulet would give a warning and the demand for a password.  The battalion would have been interested, too, in the numbers of French Colonial troops in the area.  The officers would probably have visited the caves at Carrieres-Bernagousse which was one of their headquarters.

      Everyone hoped that this somewhat idyllic existence would continue for as long as possible, and the battalion was not to be disappointed when on February 28th the battalion was relieved by the 12th Battalion the London Regiment who then took over the Barisis sector.  Resting one night at Pierremande, a tiny village about five miles West of Barisis, the battalion took over the left-hand sector of the Brigade from the 7th Battalion on March 1st, on first impression an equally calm and undisturbed part of the line.  Opposite them was a silent and totally invisible enemy.  The Coucy Forest was in the French area, while the St. Gobain Forest, an extension to the east, was in enemy hands and undamaged by shell fire.  Thick deciduous trees, smaller shrubs and bushes covered the ground, so undisturbed that movement through the forest was limited to horse-tracks and the foot-paths worn down by the German ration parties and the fatigue parties bringing up other supplies.  In 1917 the edge of the St. Gobain forest had marked the limit of the German retirement, and the French simply stopped there too to form their own line in the wide grassy area that separated the two forests.  There was a narrow strip of barbed wire marking the German front-line on their side of the grassy clearing, but for the rest there was no sign of any activity.  The battalion’s night patrols could approach right up to the wire totally unmolested and apparently ignored.  The Germans made no attempt to wander into no-man’s land. Neither side saw any danger in these arrangements as attacks on either side through the forests was impossible.  This could not be a war of any kind of movement.

      Weak as the British line of defence was, the Germans were probably no stronger.  It was difficult in the circumstances to maintain even the semblance of control over the ground: on one occasion the battalion second-in-command who had joined the battalion from the 1st Battalion of the London Regiment was prowling around no-man’s land entirely on his own, and later complained to a company commander that he had passed by his posts three times in the hour without even being seen by any of the sentries.  Each company, in fact, held up to half a mile of the line.  Posts were dotted at intervals and the ground between them patrolled at intervals.  Gaps of over a hundred yards or so stretched between the sections.  The barbed-wire between them was usually a single strand wound round trees and bushes, simply marking a boundary.  The forests were full of natural noises.  There were wild boar and smaller animals, as well as the birds, and the rustle of leaves or the crack of a twig would pass unnoticed.  It was impossible to apply British methods of trench warfare with its particular organisation and discipline to these arrangements, which while suited to the French, were totally alien to the battalion.  It was obvious that the entire line could be neither watched nor defended, in spite of the fact that at this stage the battalion numbered 58 officers and 968 other ranks, a very well stocked battalion indeed by the standards of 1918.

      Nevertheless, something had to be done as rumours of an impending German attack somewhere along the British front grew in the first days of March.  The battalion commanding officer therefore ordered that the company in reserve, together with the pioneer section, should cut alleys through the undergrowth by night, so that by a series of enfilade fields of fire, every strong-point should be defended by others.  From every post narrow paths stretched out across no-man’s land, and efforts were made to wherever possible strengthen the wire certainly around the posts.  To start with, the forward zone was defended by ‘C’ and ‘D’ companies, with ‘A’ in close support and ‘B’ in reserve in the village of Pierremande where also was located battalion headquarters, and the ‘details’, while the transport and the Quartermaster’s stores had been left behind at Chauny, billeted in a chemical works where water was plentiful for men and horses.  Sleeping accommodation was available in the old offices.  Regretfully, these quarters were vacated on February 24th for a move to Autreville on February 24th, to bring the stores nearer the battalion.  With a very long front to defend there were problems of supplying rations and water and the horses and mules were worked very hard.  These problems became acute for the battalion as the days went on.

      The tireless energy of the Company Quartermaster-Sergeants, storemen and drivers managed to keep the battalion supplied with the necessities: food, water, ammunition and the post.  More intensive German shelling began on March 9th, in anticipation of the coming offensive, and the situation began to worsen.  The work continued to go on day and night, and often when the men were enjoying a quiet life at the front, the supply personnel were experiencing the opposite.  The stores were frequently bombarded, but no matter how bad the shelling, how impassable the roads, or how wet the night, the journeys to the front had to be made.  In this case the supply problem became a nightmare.  For a distance of two miles the road was impassable, and all supplies had to be delivered by means of pack-animals through the horrible darkness of the forest, ankle deep in mud, with the animals startled and frightened by the noises.  Occasionally, the silence would be followed by a screech, followed by a deafening roar, as a ‘coal-box’ shell burst and echoed through the forest.  On one occasion a shell struck the road between the cooker and a medical cart, but fortunately it was a dud.  The routes to the advanced positions were under close enemy observation, and the shelling increased each night, so that often the horse-drawn vehicles could not return to Autreville as day broke.  On the night of 20th March there was no particular action, but the artillery barrage was increasing in anticipation of the major offensive that was to the launched the following day.

      The Battalion’s front was not itself attacked on 21st March, but on 22nd shells fired from the north of the Oise began falling in the Courcy forest and the shelling increased in violence as the days followed.  On 24th the evacuation of the forest was announced.  Preparations were made, with booby traps laid in the forest and dug-outs.  On 26th the evacuation began, with the transport section removing its ammunition limbers, two cookers and the water-cart at full gallop through the forest roads now blocked by fallen trees as a result of the shelling.  Chauny had fallen the previous day, but an attempt by the enemy to cross the Oise and secure the river as the southern flank of their attack had been repulsed.  If the Germans had succeeded, the 6th Battalion would have been cut off, so that in order to prevent this from happening, on 26th March the 6th was ordered to retire to a defensive position along the Oise-Aisne Canal.  French troops arrived to support the defence, taking over temporary command of the 6th in a joint defence position just west of the Oise, and the soldiers fought side by side, intermingled.  Every possible man was rushed to the front - headquarters staff, cooks, drivers and storemen.  The line was held on the 28th March (the day of Albert Buzzacott’s death), and on the 29th the enemy gave up the attempt to cross the river, in order to concentrate their attack to the north, making no attempt to occupy the Courcy Forest.  The 6th Battalion therefore was withdrawn, and took over the town of Barisis from their sister battalion, the 7th, on 29th March.

      On April 1st the Battalion withdrew to Pierremande, their previous area now completely taken over by the French.  The following day the 6th moved north to assist in the defence of Villers Bretonneux, which lies on Roman road leading directly to Amiens, itself the most important Allied key position, which if it had fallen would have opened the entire German thrust towards the Channel ports.  But it was here that the German advance was stopped and the line held.  On April 5th Ludendorff called off the attack on the Somme area, abandoning the attack on Amiens for good.  After 10 days of fighting, the 6th was at last withdrawn to Brigade reserve west of the town.

      The battalion war diary refers indirectly to Private Buzzacott’s death as follows:

March 26th  -   -    Battalion moved from Battle Zone to St Paul au Bois by march routes.  Accommodated in billets.
March 27th 29th  -   Work on the new line west of Oise Aisne canal.
March 28th  -   -    2 ORs killed, 7 wounded (1 died of wounds).

      We do not know if Buzzacott was killed outright or later that day from wounds.  The Chauny cemetery records for the City of London Rifles, however, show that on 28th March 4 men died from the 6th Battalion - Buzzacott, Cutmore, Heron and Reece.  Presumably, therefore, a second man had died later from his wounds.  All the men would have been buried in a temporary grave just behind the defensive line, before being moved after the war to a permanent resting place in a British army extension to the French cemetery at Chauny.  Chauny is 35 km. west of Laon, and lies just north of the old front line near Barisis.  It contains over 1000 casualties brought in after 1918 from various districts.

      Between 21st March and May 2nd, British casualties were 280,000, the French 340,000.  The 58th Division had emerged from the battle comparatively lightly, judging by the casualties experienced by other battalions, some of whom were completely destroyed.  The German offensive began on 21st March.  Between then and 27th, the whole Division had sustained: killed, 2 Officers and 71 ORs, wounded 18 Officers and 247 ORs and missing 19 Officers and 474 Ors.  From the 27th March to 5th April the 58th division casualties in the defence of the Oise Canal and Villers Bretonneux were higher, the great majority from shell-fire - killed, Officers 1 and ORs 39, wounded, Officers 11 and ORs 150, but missing, Officers 68 and ORs 1,131.

      It took just over a month for Albert's death to be reported, revealing the huge number of casualties to be documented in this terrible time. The 'Western Times' reported the news on 2nd May 1918.

12 October 2017


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Medal Record

Chauny Cemetery

A Buzzacott’s Grave

Chauny British, French and German graves