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5586 Pte Knee Harold Badgers Quay 1st Battn
2052 Pte Knee Henry Badgers Quay
2342 Pte Knee Matthew Pool’s Island

Private Henry Knee

 

Rank Regiment Unit Company
Private Newfoundland Infantry Royal Newfoundland Regiment
Military Medal

London Gazette, 19/2/18

During operations near Marcoing on November 30th 1917, this man showed great gallantry in running with messages under heavy machine gun and shell fire. Whenever he was in Brigade Headquarters and a message had to be sent by runner, although not his turn, he invariably volunteered to take the message and on all occasions his courage and cheerfulness were conspicuous.

Awards and Decorations
Military Medal
The German counter attack started on Nov. 30. Four British Divisions held a line from Marcoing to Epehy (three miles south of Gouzeaucourt). The main thrust of nine German Divisions would be a drive from the east, then a drive north to eliminate the salient the British attack had created.

The Newfoundland Regiment stayed at Marcoing for three days. On Nov. 23, the German guns started a continuous barrage on Marcoing and Masnieres. From Nov. 25 to 28, the battalion occupied trenches on the north side of the canal facing north toward the Beaurevoir line, then returning to the cellars of Marco- ing after an uneventful tour of front line duty.

On Nov.29, the Regiment was ordered forward to carry out relief at Masnieres. Early the next morning, heavy shelling of Marcoing foretold of an eminent attack. The two battalions of the 86th Brigade holding the line near Les Rues Vertes reported they were being engaged from Rumilly and Crevecour, and a battalion of the 20th Division to the south was falling back. At 10:00 A.M., an urgent message from Brigade instructed the C.O. to move the Newfoundlanders forward with the other battalions of the 88th Brigade. The heavy shelling prevented them from moving to their designated positions. Because of the shelling, the companies had to move to the assembly point near Marcoing Copse independently.

Bayonet Charge

As they approached Marcoing Copse, they were met by advancing Germans coming from the direction of Les Rues Vertes, trying to outflank the 29th Division. The Newfoundlanders deployed and attacked with bayonets, stemming the German advance. On their right, the Essex, and beyond them, the Worcesters and Hampshires extended the line south. By night, the four battalions assisted by the Kings Own Scottish Borderers of the 87th Brigade pushed the enemy back one mile. As night fell, they dug in on a line beginning from Les Rues Vertes running south.

For the next 24 hours, the 29th Division hung on to their rather precarious position. The Germans kept up machine gun and sniper fire exacting heavy casuaties. Further south, the Germans had pushed to the outskirts of Gouzeaucourt.

As darkness fell on Dec. 1, the 29th Division were at the tip of a dangerous salient, subjected to heavy bombardment and repeated infantry attacks. The exhausted battalions of the 86th Brigade dropped back and the other two Brigades pulled their flanks back to just east of the lock the Newfoundlanders had taken on Nov. 20. The following night, Dec. ‘2, the 87th Brigade was replaced by a Brigade of the 6th Division. The 88th Brigade was left with a diminished front of 2000 yards, south of the canal in front of Marcoing Copse. At the left flank, the N ewfoundlanders were dug in beside the lock. .   .

On Dec. 3, the enemy started a crushing bombardment along the canal bank, followed by intensive and accurate mortar fire forcing the Regiment to withdraw to the west of the lock. Waves of Germans made repeated attacks on the front, but somehow the assaults were halted. That evening, the Hampshires came forward from reserve to relieve what was left of the Newfoundland battalion. They withdrew a one-half mile and rested as best they could in old German dugouts.

On Dec. 4, the Third Army was ordered to withdraw to a line through Flesquieres. This withdrawal was successfully executed, relinquishing the ground captured in the attack.

Aftermath

The 29th Division was the only division that did not collapse on Nov. 30. The initiative of the counter attack by the Newfoundlanders on Nov. 30 contributed to their success. The Battalion marched the seven miles to Etricourt on Dec. 5 where they boarded a train for Mondicourt, near Doullens. The trip was interrupted when shelling hit the engine, necessitating a move to another train. From Mondicourt they marched three miles to Humbercourt for two weeks rest and refit. On Dec. 18, the Regiment marched fourteen miles north over snowy roads to Boubers-sur-Canche. The next day, a twelve mile trek brought them to Le Parcq. Finally, on Dec. 20, they reached Fressin and good billets where they spent their fourth Christmas overseas.

The loses of officers and men had been heavy. From Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, there were over two hundred casualties.

 

Royal Honour

It was the early part of December, 1917, that the Governor of  Newfoundland, Sir Charles Harris, was notified that His Majesty, the King had approved the grant of the title ”ROYAL” to the Newfoundland Regiment. The Royal Newfoundland Regiment was the only regiment on which this honour was bestowed during the War, and only the third time that this honour had ‘been given to a regiment in time of war. (The other times were in 1695 and in 1885).

Gallantry Awards:

M.C.                             Capt H Rendell

D.C.M.                         Sgt. L. Fitzpatrick, M.M.

Bar to M.M.                  Sgt. E. Goudie

M.M.                              Sgt. E. Joy                    Sgt. M. Winter

CpI.J. Hagan               Cpl. R. LeDrew

Cpl. T. Pittman             LCpl. T. Cook

LCpl. A Stacey              Pte. H. Knee

Pte. M. Bennett             Pte J. Collins

Pte. J. Loveless            Pte. L. Moore

Pte. P. Power

 

Stretcher Bearers:          Pte. W. Fowlow             Pte. H. Dibbe

J. Hennebury

 

 

 

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