Breaking the Hindenburg Line

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Breaking the Hindenburg Line  (1919) 
by Raymond Priestley

BtHL - Frontispiece.png

His Majesty King George V inspecting the Battlefield of Bellenglise

Breaking the Hindenburg Line

The story of the

46th (North Midland) Division


Major R. E. Priestley, M.C., R.E.

With an introduction by

Major-General G. F. Boyd, C.B.,

C.M.G., D.S.O., D.C.M.

With two maps and seventeen illustrations

London: T. Fisher Unwin, Ltd.

Adelphi Terrace

First published in September 1919

Second impression, November 1919

All Rights Reserved


our comrades who have fallen in the great adventure

May we prove worthy of them in the days to come


Major Priestley's book is not intended as an official record; nevertheless it affords a graphic and accurate account of what took place on a small but decisive sector of the Western front during the “Battles of the Hundred Days.”

It was my good fortune to take over command of the North Midland Division at a critical moment of its career, and just before we marched south to join General Sir H. Rawlinson's Fourth Army. To my predecessor, Major-General W. Thwaites, must be ascribed the credit of having organized and trained the Division into a fighting machine in which every officer and man was imbued with a real soldier's spirit.

It is to this fixed determination to win through at all costs, regardless of incidents on flank and in rear, that I mainly attribute the successes won by the Division.

We joined the IX Corps, commanded by Lieut.-Gen. Sir Walter Braithwaite, and consisting of three distinguished fighting units, but the 46th were determined to make a name for themselves second to none.

No man can say that they failed.

Gerald F. Boyd,


Introductory Chapter

Outline of the previous history of the 46th (North Midland) Division, 1914–1918 17
By Lieutenant-Colonel T. C. Newbold, D.S.O., T.D. (1/5th Sherwoods), and Major E. A. Lewis, D.S.O., R.E.

(29th September, 1918)

I. Preliminary operations and preparations for the attack 22
II. The Staffords cross the St. Quentin Canal and breach the Hindenburg Line 44
III. Success exploited by Sherwoods, Lincolns and Leicesters 61

IV. The victory at Ramicourt 81
V. Enemy counter-attacks repulsed—the advance to Bohain 110

VI. The clearing of the Bois de Riquerval and the Battle of Andigny les Fermes 132

VII. The advance to Sains du Nord 158

I. German Divisions encountered and defeated by the 46th Division between the 24th September and the 11th November, 1918 174
II. Casualties between the 24th September and the 11th November, 1918 175
III. Immediate rewards granted to the Division from 24th September to 11th November, 1918 176
IV. Order of Battle, 28th February, 1915 177
V. Order of Battle, 29th September, 1918 180
Index 197


His Majesty King George V inspecting the Battlefield of Bellenglise Frontispiece
Facing Page
Captain J. C. Green, V.C., R.A.M.C. (T.), and Captain C. G. Vickers, V.C., Early V.C. Heroes of the 46th Division 18
Lieutenant J. C. Barrett, V.C., 1/5th Leicesters. Severely Wounded in the Attack on Pontruet, and awarded the Victoria Cross for his Bravery and Leadership during the Action 28
Air Photograph of the St. Quentin Canal at Bellenglise, showing the Defence System to the East of the Canal and the German Bridges 32
St. Quentin Canal, showing the Brick Facing of the Canal and its Steep Banks. In the Distance the Remains of a German Footbridge 34
Brigadier-General J. V. Campbell, V.C., C.M.G., D.S.O., Brigade Commander 137th Infantry Brigade 44
Air Photograph of Bellenglise and the St. Quentin Canal from above the Hindenburg Defences West of the Canal 56
St. Quentin Canal with Requeval Bridge. From this Picture the Value of Captain Charlton's Work in preserving the Bridge from Destruction is well seen 58
Lieutenant-Colonel B. W. Vann, V.C., M.C., 1/6th Sherwoods. Killed in Action at the Battle of Ramicourt 70
Major-General G. F. Boyd, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., D.C.M., G.O.C. 46th Division 72
Sergeant W. H. Johnson, V.C., 1/5th Sherwoods. The Hero of the Attack on the Beaurevoir-Fonsomme Line 98
Lance-Corporal W. H. Coltman, V.C., D.C.M., M.M., 1/6th North Staffords, whose Constant Bravery in Action has added a Glorious Page to the History of the 46th Division 118
Brigadier-General F. G. M. Rowley, C.M.G., D.S.O., Brigade Commander 138th Infantry Brigade 126
Brigadier-General Sir Hill Child, C.M.G., D.S.O., C.R.A. 46th Division 142
Brigadier-General J. Harington, D.S.O., Brigade Commander 139th Infantry Brigade 160
Memorial Cross erected on the High Ground near Bellenglise in Memory of the Fallen of the 46th Division 172

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).