'Hour of glory' remembered 97 years on

PUBLISHED: 06:30 31 May 2015

shs salcombe memorial 2

shs salcombe memorial 2

Archant

Servicemen past and present, of the Second Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment, remembered fallen heroes who held off enemy soldiers during World War One.

shs salcombe memorial 1shs salcombe memorial 1

A memorial service was held at Salcombe Regis Church on Wednesday, which marked the 97th anniversary of the battle of Bois des Buttes.

A wreath was laid in front of the stone of Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Anderson-Morshead, whose family lived at Lusways, in Salcombe Hill Road.

Captain John Hill, who organised the event, said: “Only a handful of dazed and weary men, most of them wounded, escaped the carnage. But what happened at Bois des Buttes will always be remembered with pride by the regiment and underlines the significance of the motto Semper Fidelis.”

From 1am on May 27, 1918, 866 German batteries opened fire with high explosive and gas shells along a 20-mile front of the River Aisne, obliterating every Allied position by 8am.

Lt Col Anderson Morshead led a charge of 50 men down the hill in a stand-off during the battle - in the regiment’s ‘hour of glory’.

After the charge, the regiment gallantly stood against enemy fire, allowing Allied forces to regroup and build new defences south of the river, which would stop German soldiers breaking through towards Paris.

Lt Col Anderson-Morshead was shot by a sniper at around 9.20am and his body was never found. The battle claimed the lives of 28 officers and 552 men.

Captain Hill said: “Vastly outnumbered, the 2nd Devons held up for precious hours the last great German offensive on the Western Front, fighting virtually to the last man.”

For their exploits, the regiment received the Croix de Guerre avec Palme from the French government, the first British unit to do so.

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