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Regimental History of New Zealand Cyclist Corps in The Great War 1914-1918

Narrative of No. 1 Company, 12/10/18.-11/11/18

page 93

Narrative of No. 1 Company, 12/10/18.-11/11/18.

At Bourlon on 12/10/'18, at 6 a.m., orders were received for two platoons to move out for attachment to Divisions operating in advance on the Corps fronts. Accordingly Lieut. D. G. Cody, with his platoon, went to 49th Division, and 2nd Lieut. W. E. Randall, with his platoon, to 51st Division. Both Divisions were at Escaudoevres near Cambrai. The roads were particularly bad, and very congested with the traffic necessary to an advancing army, and riding was impossible, the cycles having to be pushed all the way—a heavy task with a full pack up.

On arrival at Divisional Headquarters it was found that Divisions were moving to Naves, and the two platoons moved to that village and billetted.

Next day Lieut. Cody's platoon was engaged as runners between Division (51st) Headquarters and the forward Brigades.

Lieut. Randall's platoon (with 49th Division) was similarly engaged, also finding patrols along Naves-Villers Road. Whilst so engaged Lieut. Randall was slightly wounded and returned to Battalion Headquarters at Ramillies, Sergt. F. E. Brown, M.M., taking charge of the platoon.

This platoon received "special mention" from the Brigadier 147th Infantry Brigade for its excellent work. This sort of work went on until the 17th October, when the two platoons were ordered back to rejoin their Company at Battalion Headquarters, where the Company remained in reserve until the 28th October, when it was sent to Thiant to relieve No. 3 Company, then attached to 51st Division (152nd Infantry Brigade).

On the 29th, the 49th Division took, over the 51st Division front and the Company was transferred to former Division.

On the 30th and 31st the Company supplied runners for Brigades, and the Officers and N.C.O.'s page 94made reconnaissances of the country forward in view of the continuation of the advance on the 1st November. The village of Thiant was well shelled by the enemy, but no casualties to our men resulted.

Early on the morning of the 1st November the attack commenced with certain objectives, and our orders were that on those objectives being gained we were to push out strong patrols (in conjunction with the Corps Cavalry) and exploit the successes gained.

2nd Lieut. Greville with No. 1 Platoon was attached to the 146th Infantry Brigade and moved forward at 5.45 a.m. from Thiant to Famars, where cycles were left, as roads were bad and shelling was heavy. This platoon was heavily engaged by Machine Gun fire near Aulnoy, but did good work in obtaining information finally returning to Company Headquarters at 9.30 p.m.

No. 2 Platoon, under 2nd Lieut. C. C. Southey, M.M., worked forward on the left of 147th Brigade and near Saultain, engaged three enemy field gun teams engaged in removing some light guns. The Lewis gun, worked by Lance Corporal Wharton and Private M McMeeking, shot the teams and forced the gunners; to take shelter and kept them there until the platoon had to withdraw, owing to our Infantry having withdrawn. When withdrawing Lieut. Southey saw an enemy counter attack coming, so he again got his gun into action, the N.C.O. and man (Wharton and McMeeking) working the gun to such effect that the counter attack was stopped; the party maintained their positions until dark and then withdrew to Brigade Headquarters, where the Brigadier met them and made very complimentary reference to the excellent work done by them.

2nd Lieut. Southey was afterwards awarded the M.C, and the two gunners (Lance Corporal Wharton and Private D. McMeeking) the M.M., for their gallantry and devotion to duty, on the Brigadier's recommendation.

On the 2nd November the Company was attached to 148th Infantry Brigade, but was not used.

page 95

On the 3rd the Company was ordered to report to Monchaux to XXII. Corps Mounted Troops, and finally, after much difficulty, owing to bad roads, made Famars. Next morning moved on to Saultain and billetted there, and beyond finding a few runners was not used.

On the 6th moved to Sebourquiaux and billetted. On the 8th moved out in direction of Autreppe on reconnaissance and patrol work, and the men had a very difficult and unpleasant time owing to heavy rain and bad roads. However their work was most successful, and all patrols accomplished their missions. When preparing to move from Sebourquiaux, the enemy shelled the village, and a shell bursting near by wounded Sergt. Midgley so badly that he subsequently died.

On the 10th instant Captain H. D. McHugh, M.C., rejoined the Company, having been away in hospital for a brief period suffering from gas burns.

The Company was on that day ordered to Fayt le Franc to report to 56th Division, by whom it was employed in controlling and directing traffic, and on various duties. Subsequently it was moved on to Athis where it remained until hostilities ceased.

On the 12th instant orders were received by the Company to rejoin the Battalion, but owing to location being incorrectly given, it marched to Harvengt, where the Corps Mounted Troops had their Headquarters, and from there was directed to Aulnois, the location of the Battalion.