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Key dates over March 1918

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Lives lost on this day: 108

21st March 1918 - First Battle of the Somme, 1918. The Germans launch a strong offensive in France (Operation Michael) aimed at splitting the British and French lines. The British in particular suffer heavy casualties and begin a far reaching withdrawal

Rolling casualty count: 8671

War Front:

1st Batt: More boxing matches and crow counting games were organised.

2nd Batt: Coys at disposal of Commanding Officers for musketry training and inspections. FGCM for the trial of No 13603 Pte Bert.

BT: At 5am there was a heavy bombardment of the Front system and back areas. A few shells fell near the camp but there was no damage. At 5.15am the Batt had breakfast and prepared to move at 12 noon to Fremicourt and take up position across the Bapaume to Cambrai Road, 1000 yards west of Beugny. Owing to a reported breach of the Corps line about Vaux Wood, Batt ordered to put 1 Coy into Corps Line, east of Morchies, with 2 Coys to form a defensive flank from the northern end of Morchies and Maricourt Wood. Batt HQ was in the Sunken Road. The Line was full of the 6th Division so Batt dug in around the Sunken Road.

4th Batt: Corps commander inspected the billets. An enemy offensive started.

10th Batt: Batt roused at dawn by the thunder of the bombardment from German bullets near their billets in Barastre. At 1pm Batt moved to assembly positions on the western side of Velu Wood. The 57th Brigade, assisted by tanks was to deliver a counter attack on the enemy in Doignies. Eight tanks were in position in front of the men and the 8th Glos stormed the village and Batt soon entrenched in the Sunken Road. Other Batts were not so successful and the tanks broke down. Heavy enfilade of fire from the enemy in the village caused many casualties. Col Sole ordered the Batt and 8th Glos to fall back to trenches near the left flank.

Home Front:

City Police Court: Absentee: James Randall, 4 House, 4 Court, Friar Street, was charged with being an absentee from the Agricultural Co. P.C. Fisher said that when he saw prisoner on Wednesday he said he had been working on a farm, but as he could get no food he left on Saturday and came home. The officer added that there was a packet of food ready for the prisoner who was about to return to the farm. He was remanded to await an escort.

Arrangements have been made for Miss Griffith Jones (Organiser Women’s Labour) to speak from the Tank on Friday afternoon. The Mayoress (Mrs. Arthur Carlton) is inviting all the women of the city to attend this being Women’s Day. Lady Deerhurst and the Mayoress will also speak and Miss Oliver will sing two songs.

Trades Council: At a meeting of the Trades and Labour Council, on Wednesday, Mr. Bryan (Secretary) submitted the annual report, showing the action taken by the Council on many local subjects. It was stated that there are now in the city 28 branches of trade unions, with 78 delegates and representing a membership of organised workers of 2,596, an increase of 256 over the previous year.

Rev. Oswarld Berkeley, Chaplain of the Forces, son of Lady Catherine and the late Robert Berkeley, of Spetchley, has been awarded the Military Cross. In June 1917, he was mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s despatch. His brother, Col. Mowbray Berkeley, was killed in May, 1916.

In a written reply to a question asked by General Sir Ivor Philipps, Mr. Stanley Baldwin states that the total septuagenarian population of the United Kingdom, according to the census of 1911 was 1,519,612. On the last Friday in 1917, the latest date for which figures are available, the number of old age pensioners was 948,582 and of these 938,123 were in receipt of the additional allowance of 2s. 6d. a week.

The casualty lists issued on Tuesday night show the following losses: - Officers: Dead 34, wounded or missing 78; total 112. Men: Dead 191, wounded or missing 327; total 518.

Information researched by The Worcestershire World War 100 team