THE pivotal moments of the First World War have been commemorated extensively yet I am surprised there has been little mention of Ludendorff’s great offensive beginning on March 21, 1918.This was a make-or-break battle on the Western Front when, with German troops being released from the Russian Front, the British were outnumbered four to one.

The French did not advance but marched away to Moyencourt, leaving the British flank exposed.The Germans brought up extra machine guns to target the defences of the 2nd Battalion Cameronians, my father being a Lewis gunner involved in the action.

The regimental records state: “Between bursts of fire the Germans invited the Scottish Riflemen to surrender, when the response to this invitation was a burst of Lewis gun fire.” That response came from my father’s Lewis gun team. With the enemy on three sides, the situation was untenable and Lieut/Col Hyde Smith ordered retiral to the south-west.This action occurred on March 25, my father’s staunch comrade on the gun team being killed at the moment of retreat.

In the withdrawal many Cameronians were caught by German fire, while others were captured by the Germans at the town of Nesle. Only seven officers and 55 men of the 2nd Scottish Rifles made it back to Billancourt, my father among them.The records state: “Undoubtedly the magnificent stand of the 2nd Battalion prevented the 20th Division from being enveloped after the French had fallen back.”

I am sure the courage and doggedness these brave men displayed was matched all along the Front by the “Tommies”, who halted the German advance. It was “backs to the wall” and “to the last man” and how the outcome of the war could have changed if the Germans had over-run the British. Surely the St. Quentin March 1918 offensive deserves some commemoration.

Mike Monaghan,

35 Brechin Road,