21ST MARCH 1918 AGE 29


9th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps War Diary
Trenches March 21 1918
"At about 4.45 am an intense bombardment was opened on the Battalion front and on back areas. Wires to Brigade Headquarters were broken at once, and a heavy ground mist made visual signalling impossible. The bombardment continued until about 9.30 am, gas shells being extensively used for the last two hours. The German infantry then came over in small columns.
Information as to what actually happened is almost entirely lacking but it would appear that the enemy came in on our left flank, and not on our front, as the first warning of the attack was the appearance of Germans moving down the St Quentin Road. C and A Coys were killed or captured to a man. A few men of B Coy escaped, together with Capt Webber "OC" "B Coy" who was wounded early. The Germans would seem to have lost direction in the mist and to have remained in some force round our front line for several hours. "Funny" and "Frosty" works and "Excellent" (Bn. HQ) were reported by Col Bury to be holding out at 11 am. The Red Smoke Signal for the closing of barrage lines had been sent up, but it is almost certain that the gunners were unable to see either this signal or the SOS which had been sent up from Battalion Headquarters at 10.00 am.
D. Coy in Lambay Switch had seen no signs of the enemy at 11.20 am, but very shortly after this small columns of his infantry began to press forward into the Bois de Lambay, and over the Urvillers Lambay ridge. A pigeon message from Col Bury stated that Battalion Headquarters were still holding out at 12.20 pm but no further information was received from the front line, or from D Coy, one or two men escaped from D Coy and it would appear that the Lambay position was not seriously attacked, at any rate until about 2 pm by which time the enemy had occupied Benay and had reached the Battle Zone and had thus entirely cut off Lambay Farm. Sounds of M.G. fire were heard later in the day from the direction of Lambay which would suggest that the company held out for some time after being surrounded.
Mention should be made of Cpl Harber who escaped from the Vauban PO and, after being twice in the hands of the Germans, made his way by compass to Brigade Headquarters and gave very clear report as to the situation in the front line.
March 22
By the evening of March 21st the Battn had apparently ceased to exist."

The 9th Battalion was one of the many to find itself in the eye of the storm when the Germans launched their Spring Offensive on 21 March 1918. At its full establishment a battalion had approximately one thousand men, but it is unlikely that at this stage of the war the 9th Battalion had exactly this number. However, come the end of the month, the adjutant summarised March's casualties as 23 officers and 630 ORs. Casualties for the previous month, February 1918, had been 7 ORs wounded.
Lance Corporal Reginald Jones was buried by the Germans in Urvillers, along with fourteen other soldiers of the 9th Bn KRRC, all killed on 21 March. They now have 'Kipling Memorials' in St Souplet British Cemetery. These look like normal CWGC headstones but commemorate casualties known to have been buried in a particular cemetery whose graves have subsequently been lost. Rudyard Kipling chose the words from the Book of Ecceliasticus that are carved on these headstones: 'Their glory shall not be blotted out'.
Jones joined the army after 1915. The son of Evan and Susannah Jones, he was born in the City of London. His father had been a general clerk but by 1911 his mother was a widow. Jones and his sister, Annie Emma, lived with their mother in three rooms in Plaistow. Reginald was a sculleryman at a Club and Annie was a restaurant counter hand.
Annie Emma, by then Mrs AE Foster, chose her brother's inscription from the words Shakespeare's Mark Antony speaks over the body of Brutus:

"This was the noblest Roman of them all. All the rest of the conspirators acted out of jealousy of great Caesar. Only he acted from honesty and for the general good. His life was gentle, and the elements mixed so well in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world, "This was a man".
Julius Caesar Act 5 Scene 5