chapter  12
19 Pages

9 April 1918

On 9 April, with the first hints of the dawn, the Portuguese were bestirring themselves for their welcome transfer out of the trenches, when Hell broke loose. Three weakened brigades of the 2nd Portuguese Division were still responsible for three lines of trenches and an outer defence line, totalling, in all, around 40km. The British 40th Division was stationed to the north of the Portuguese and the 55th to their south. The German bombardment commenced at 4.45 a.m. and lasted just two hours. For sheer concentrated intensity it was the second heaviest so far in the war; so heavy that the troops of one Portuguese reserve battalion – ordered into the front lines to support their comrades against the German infantry assault that must come – simply refused to budge.428