14th April 1918

Royal Guernsey Light Infantry fights at Ypres

The Battle of Lys was Germany’s spring 1918 attempt to capture Ypres and push British forces out of northern France. The Royal Guernsey Light Infantry (RGLI) was sent to face the German army at Le Doulie. It suffered losses of 80%. The battle began on 9 April, with the RGLI first seeing action the following day.

A lengthy campaign

German artillery had spent the two days before the campaign bombarding British forces before moving forward. The British positions were difficult to defend, and in places they had no choice but to pull back. They regrouped at their strongest point, and held out for the duration of the first part of the German offensive, known as the Battle of Estaires.

As Germany pressed on, the British position became more desperate. Douglas Haig, Commander-in-chief of the British Army issued a directive that his forces were to keep fighting. He decreed that the battle would be won by whoever could keep going the longest.

Many amongst us now are tired. To those I would say that Victory will belong to the side which holds out the longest. The French Army is moving rapidly and in great forces to our support. There is no other course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end. The safety of our homes and the Freedom of mankind alike depend upon the conduct of each one of us at this critical moment.

Allied regrouping, and the German withdrawal

Over the next three days, the Allied lines for thinner. Haig ordered a discrete regrouping, with those at the front giving cover for a mass movement of men and munitions behind them. The allowed British troops to regroup more densely, and they easily saw off the next German advance.

German high command called an end to the campaign on 29 April. It had realised by then that it couldn’t be won.


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Other events that occured in April

Guernsey’s first female murderer goes on trial 1st
A French fisherman is arrested and escorted to St Peter Port 2nd
Guernsey’s new population law comes into force 3rd
Guernsey’s oldest resident dies, aged 110 4th
An occupation-era minefield is discovered at L’Ancresse 5th
Birth of Stone de Croze, the original Guernseyman 6th
The first ever Guernsey stamp is issued 7th
Antiquarian William Collings Lukis was born 8th
Guernsey hosts its first Parkrun at Pembroke 9th
Alderney residents lined the coast to watch Titanic pass 10th
Norfolk pupils spend a week in Guernsey 11th
A plane hit a car while landing at Guernsey Airport 12th
Battery Mirus was test fired for the first time 13th
Royal Guernsey Light Infantry fights at Ypres 14th
Guernsey Mormon Sampson Avard dies in Illinois 15th
Lieutenant Governor, Lord Ruthven, died in Bath 16th
Death of the Vicar General of the Channel Islands 17th
TV’s Jeeves is rushed to hospital on Guernsey 18th
Guernsey Airport’s new terminal opened for business 19th
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie film opened 20th
Death of Guernsey-born footballer Len Duquemin
Three Jewish women are deported from Guernsey 21st
Guernsey bigamist got married for the second time 22nd
Aurigny pilot Ray Bowyer spots a UFO near Alderney 23rd
The States of Guernsey registers the gov.gg domain 24th
Guernsey-set film The Sea Devils hits cinemas 25th
Hydrofoil Condor 1 completed its final sea trials 26th
The first Muratti football match takes place 27th
Guernsey passengers stage a ferry sit-in 28th
Guernsey abolishes the death penalty for murder 29th
Finishing touches put to new hospital 30th
Murder suspects steal visitor’s boat from St Peter Port