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Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, France Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, France
First Name: William Henry Last Name: ROSIER
Date of Death: 30/11/1917 Lived/Born In: New Barnet
Rank: Private Unit: East Kent (Buffs)6
Memorial Site: Cambrai Memorial, Louverval, France

Current Information:




The Battle of Cambrai

This was a major British offensive on the Western Front that was launched on 20th November, 1917 and lasted through to the beginning of December. As the name suggests it was an attack towards the city of Cambrai and the important German railhead there, which it was hoped would be captured. The battle was notable for two things: the massed use of tanks for the first time and the success of the first day’s fighting when the formidable Hindenburg Line was breached and gains of five miles were made in places. In celebration the church bells throughout Britain were rung. However this success was short lived. The tanks were not reliable and the German defence stiffened as the fighting progressed and when they counter attacked in force on 30th November, the British came under so much pressure that they were forced to withdraw from many of the positions they had captured earlier on. Both sides suffered around 45,000 casualties during the course of the fighting.

When the Germans attacked on 30th November, 1917, 12th Division were holding the line in front of Gonnelieu and Gouzeaucourt with all three brigades in the line. On the left 37 Brigade had the 7th East Surrey battalion in the defences around Bonavis Farm supported by a company of 6th East Kent (Buffs). The other three companies of 6th Buffs were in the Hindenburg support system north-west of Pam Pam Farm where they were joined by remnants of 7th East Surrey, 6th Royal West Kent and the 37th Machine Gun Company, a few hundred men in all but well placed to check the German advance down the slopes of the Bonavis Ridge. At 7am, after a heavy artillery bombardment, the enemy infantry attacked and this force found themselves isolated with the Germans breaking through on both their flanks. Pam Pam Farm fell but was then recaptured in a counter attack which held up the enemy advance for three hours but overwhelming numbers eventually caused the battalion to fall back. Battalion HQ on the left flank withstood tremendous pressure for four hours until they too were forced back, fighting from shell hole to shell hole, until they joined what was left of the rest of the battalion in the Hindenburg Support line. This position was successfully held against all attacks until they were relieved on the following day. 6th Buffs suffered over 300 casualties during the fighting on this day, a number that included William Rosier who was killed.

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