Thanks to Mr Paul Greenwood, who wrote and gave us this texte
By the end of the Lys battle, Divisional strength was down to 55 officers and 1100 other ranks. Replacements were mainly young and inexperienced. On April 25th the Division moved to the Aisne as part of the IXth Corps.
The Division was to take over the line from the French 51st on May 5th on a sector about 12 km north of Reims above the Aisne river. (Chaudardes - Pontavert - Californie Plateau.. It was a quiet spell. The Division patrolled no-mans-land, forcing the Germans to keep to their trenches.
On May 25th a Durham Light Infantry raid brought in a wounded prisoner who hinted at what was to come. Divisional HQ was informed, and counter-battery work started an hour before the time of the enemy attack on May 27th. At 1 am on the 27th, a most violent barrage of HE and Gas fell upon the Allied line. Within an hour touch was lost with HQ and the front line trenches had been flattened.
At 3 30 am an assault led by tanks was make against the Divisional front which was pierced on the right, and the entire line taken in the rear by 4 45 am. Some units simply ceased to exist.
By 9 am the Germans were across the unblown bridges at Pontavert and the right flank of the Division was forced to retreat across the Aisne. The records of the centre and left units tell a similar story. Three different attempts were made to stem the German advance ... one party of stragglers held out until mid-morning at Chaudardes, helped by men of the 25th Division, but had to retire at 2 p.m. and again at 6 in the evening.
By now the remnants of two brigades had been formed into one. The left hand brigade (150th) fared even worse because of the breakthrough on the right, and the French defences on the left being pierced. Troops on the Californie plateau were caught in a pincer movement and more or less wiped out.
Any men in the rear either failed to receive orders, or were attacked as they tried to move forward through the barrage.
By 6 p.m. of the 27th the line held by the few remnants of the Division ran from Ventelay to Le Grand Haneau where French reinforcements were coming into the line.
On the 28th the Division still had no artillery support, the guns having been overwhelmed on the first day of the attack, and the remnants of the Division totalled no more than 680.
The line gradually fell back under repeated attack until by the afternoon (28th) it ran from S. of Vandeuil to SE of Unchair. Hill 233 on the Jonchery/Savigny road was held successfully for the remainder of that day and through the night.
On the 29th stragglers were gathered to form a composite battalion and were moved up on the 30th to join the 74th Brigade.
The remainder of the Division was pulled out, and another composite battalion was formed to join the 19th Division. However, casualties by now were so great that the Division had to be broken up.
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