"France won't give in now, whatever happens. And England never gives in." "We're exhausted, all the same. It's a question of man-power." "They're bound to take Albert to-night or to-morrow." "I don't see that at all. There's still a line..." "A line! A handful of tired men." "It will be the devil if they get into Villers-Bretonneux to-night. It commands Amiens.
I went on leave next morning, and got a motor-car lift from Peronne as far as Amiens. Before reaching Villers-Bretonneux, of glorious, fearful memories, we passed through Warfusee-Abancourt, a shell of its former self, a brick heap, a monument of devastation.
On the night of the 24/25th September we were relieved by two companies of the 106th American Battalion; got to Faustine Quarry by 5 A.M. and at 8 marched to Tincourt, where we entrained for Villers-Bretonneux. This was the last we were to see of the Somme, for we were destined for another front.
After a preliminary bombardment of two hours, a heavy German attack was launched against the Americans in the afternoon of April 30 in the vicinity of Villers-Bretonneux, and was repulsed with heavy losses to the enemy, who left dead and wounded on the field, while the American losses were reported as "rather severe."
Near Amiens, above Villers-Bretonneux, Guynemer, making his rounds with Sergeant Chainat, attacked one of these groups on June 22, isolated one of the airplanes and, maneuvering with his comrade, set it afire. That was, I believe, his ninth. This combat took place at a height of 4200 meters. The advantage went more and more to the pilot who mounted highest.
One of our sentries came out of a little house near the Place and said: "Keep as much as possible to the west side of the town, sir. They've been falling pretty thick on the east side. Made no end of a mess!" On the way back from Villers-Bretonneux and the Australian headquarters, on the left bank of the Somme, we ate sandwiches in the public gardens outside the Hotel du Rhin.
Its extension had also ruined the chance of successfully resuming the attack in front of Amiens. On 23 April the Germans attacked just south of the Somme and captured Villers-Bretonneux, but it was promptly retaken on the following day; and in the struggle along that line in May we advanced as well as improved our position.
And when the British Armies had brought the huge attack to a standstill which for the centre and south of our line had been already attained ten days after the storm broke and knew the worst that had happened or could happen to them; when the Australians had recaptured Villers-Bretonneux; when the weeks passed and the offensive ceased; when all gaps in our ranks were filled by the rush of reinforcements from home, and the American Army poured steadily across the Atlantic, the tension and peril of the spring passed steadily into the confident strength and expectation of the summer.
It dawned with the Australian attack at Villers-Bretonneux on April 24th, when the fortunes of battle were already changing; it rose higher on July 4th, when the Australians again took Hamel and Vaire Wood, the Tanks splendidly helping; it was at the full on and after August 8th, at the Battle of Amiens, the first page in the last chapter of the war.