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The SASRA 100 Days Timeline

Welcome to the 100 Days timeline.

The last 100 days of the Great War are commemorated here with a short description of the events of each day - the British Army fought alongside the French, Australians and Canadians, with the RAF in the skies above. Accounts of the battles are taken from several sources which are referenced along the way.

Men fought in physical battles, using physical weapons - ground was gained and ceded, and battles won and lost, until the war was finally won on November 11th 1918.

Today, a century later, we remember their bravery and sacrifice and turn our thoughts to the spiritual battles still being fought today - please join us in prayer as we take our stand against the principalities of this world.

Ground will be gained and ceded, and battles won and lost, but we know the war is already won, through Christ our Lord.

  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
Aug 1918
ThenNow

August

For the British, Australian, Canadian and French troops anxiously awaiting the order to go, the scene was one of great tension. A French officer, Colonel Grasset, remembered how 'with the first light of dawn a deep silence' come over the battlefield. Men had been instructed not to talk or move or leave their trenches. 'All was very calm on the surface, but feverish work in the woods, in the camouflaged shelters, in the ruins...' The hours and minutes before the attack were always the worst; the agonizing, ticking moments of waiting before Zero Hour when you were faced with dark thoughts of death and wounding, hoping that you and your fellows would come through alive. Some relied upon charms and amulets, bracelets and lockets of hair; others prayed to God and made vows of future service if only they would survive. One veteran of the battles of 1918, T. G. Mohan, was one of those who took solace in religion. 'Personally,' he would later write:

I always believed that I should come through safely. God gave me an unmistakeable assurance that He would bring me out of the war, yet how I should get home I did not know. I never thought that I would be wounded. Yet in spite of this assurance I felt to be in England again was only a thing to be experienced in dreams - it seemed impossible ever to be a reality. To feel that I was standing on dear, solid old England - to look round and say - this is England... the sun shining, the neat little hedges and pretty little country cottages, all so beautifully clean and sweet... in the town to be able to see the good old English names, and understand what people were talking about, to feel safe again... it was all so impossible.

Gradually time would run out. Thoughts would return to the matter in hand. Equipment would be checked once more. Final orders would be issued and the troops readied. Writing after the war, Sir John Monash would try to describe 'the stupendous import of the last ten minutes before Amiens.

In the black darkness, a hundred thousand infantry, deployed over twelve miles of front, are standing grimly, silently, expectantly, in readiness to advance, or are already crawling stealthily forward to get within eighty yards of the line on which the barrage will fall; all feel to make sure that their bayonets are firmly locked, or to set their steel helmets firmly on their heads; Company and Platoon commanders, their whistles ready to hand, are nervously glancing at their luminous watches, waiting for minute after minute to go by - and giving a last look over their commands - ensuring that their runners are by their sides, their observers alert, and that the officers detailed to control direction have their compasses set and ready.

The two Allied armies were like coiled springs, taut and alert; waiting to strike.

The Hundred Days was about to begin.

August - ASR Steve Curley and The Edinburgh Tattoo

To start our 100days event we anticipate a presence at the largest military tattoo in Europe, for the fiftieth year in a row SASRA will be supporting the men and women of the British Army as they prepare for the Edinburgh Tattoo.

SASRA will be there from the 30th July to the 3rd August - our Scotland Area Representative John Surtees will be joined by some current Scripture Readers who will be manning our stall and handing out beverages to the participants.

This month also hopefully sees the graduation of our latest Scripture Reader from theological college - Sgt Steve Curley will be spending a well-earned break with his family before he begins his on-the-job training at HQ in Aldershot.

Items for Prayer - That our men at the Tattoo will get opportunities to speak with the men and women of the British Army while serving them. That Steve will be blessed by his time at European Mission Fellowship (Guessens) and will emerge "ready to give account for the hope that is in him, with gentleness and respect." (1 Pet 3:15)

Sgt Steve Curley

08/08/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of Amiens (Day One)

Punctually at 4.20 a.m., with the first gleam of a typical August day, the storm broke, and the British Army, which only a few months before was in danger of defeat, had begun its march to the Rhine.
Throughout the battle valuable work was performed by the Royal Air Force. During the early morning flying was restricted by the thick mist, but directly the weather cleared our planes could be seen everywhere hovering over the enemy's territory at various altitudes searching for prey. Apart from the usual artillery and contact patrol work, two, and sometimes three, scout squadrons flew over each corps front, engaged solely in attacking the enemy's troops and transport from low altitudes. Flying very low, which, even in trench warfare, is extremely dangerous on account of the machine-gun fire from the ground, our aeroplanes completed the demoralisation of the enemy by attacking his retiring troops and transport with bombs and machine-gun fire, and by shooting gun teams in the act of withdrawing the guns.

Early in the morning, some low-flying aeroplanes discovered an 11-inch long-range railway gun, which had been used in the bombardment of Amiens, busily firing, although our infantry was advancing within about 1,000 yards of its position. Swooping down close to the gun our airmen dropped a number of bombs on it with such effect that, when the troops of the 5th Australian Division arrived on the spot, they found the whole gun crew of about twenty men either killed or wounded. We lost on August 8th about forty aeroplanes, many of which were brought down by machine-gun fire from the ground. The results obtained, however, were well worth the losses incurred.

Working Together

The opening day of the 100 Days Offensive commenced with Day One of the Battle of Amiens - one of the earliest examples of the RAF and the British Army working alongside each other.

As our current Executive Director is a retired RAF Squadron Leader (Sqn Ldr Dr Andrew Hill) and our current Chairman is a serving British Army officer (Colonel John Lewis), we see the RAF and the British Army still working together a century later, here at SASRA in service, not primarily to their country, but to the Lord.

Items for Prayer - For our Executive Director and Chairman as they lead the Association, always seeking to glorify His name.

Sqn Ldr Dr Andrew Hill

Colonel John Lewis

09/08/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of Amiens (Day Two)

The main attack against Gressaire Wood, Tallies Wood, and the Amiens outer defences, in a north-easterly direction was launched on a front of about 7,000 yards, and was completely successful. Although the Americans had to double for the last mile in order to reach their assembly positions in time, they advanced to the attack in fine style. Led by their commander, Colonel J. B. Samborn, the Americans swept everything before them, and the German resistance collapsed. So precipitate was the retreat of the enemy that a German battalion commander fled from his dug-out, abandoning his orders, maps, and telephone switchboard. The Americans were so impetuous that they outstripped the British on the left, and it was due to them that the objective was so quickly and rapidly gained on the front of the 58th Division. On the left of the 58th Division the 12th Division had been stoutly opposed near Morlancourt by heavy machine-gun fire, but the devoted heroism of Sergeant Thomas Harris of the 6th Royal West Kent, who was killed while rushing hostile machine-gun posts, prevented the advance from being checked. Ultimately, after obstinate fighting, the division secured all objectives, except that part of the Amiens outer defences which lies south-west of Hill 105. The result of the day's fighting was another big advance on the whole army front, extending to as much as 9,000 yards in the south.

London Gazette 22nd October 1918.

His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the under mentioned Non Commissioned Officers and Men:
No. 358 Sjt Thomas James Harris, MM., late Royal West Kent Regiment, (Lower Halling, Kent).

For conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in attack when the advance was much impeded by hostile machine guns concealed in crops and shell holes. Sjt Harris led his section against one of those, capturing it and killing seven of the enemy.


Later, on two successive occasions, he attacked single handed two enemy machine guns which were causing heavy casualties and holding up the advance. He captured the first gun and killed the crew, but was himself killed when attacking the second one. It was largely due to the great courage and initiative of this gallant N.C.O. that the advance of the battalion was continued without delay and undue casualties. Throughout the operations he showed a total disregard for his own personal safety, and set a magnificent example to all ranks.

In the Line of Duty

On May 25th 2017 ASR Ray Hendricks was called home to be with his Lord. Ray is the first Army Scripture Reader to die in service since the Second Word War.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for his loved ones and wider family. Please give thanks to God for Ray's faithful service in every regard.

ASR Ray Hendricks

10/08/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of Amiens (Day Three)

On the front of the III Corps a hostile counter-attack, at about 3 a.m. on August 10th, resulted in a temporary withdrawal of our line at the junction of the 58th and 12th Divisions east of Tallies Wood, but the ground lost was promptly regained. Strong patrols from the 58th and 12th Divisions advanced during the morning and were closely supported by strong detachments. By 10 p.m. the whole of the Amiens outer defences had been secured from the Bray-sur-SommeCorbie road to Dernancourt. The new line was consolidated during the night and thereafter held in its entirety.

On the evening of August 10th orders were issued by Sir Henry Rawlinson, acting on instructions from General Headquarters, for the attack to be continued on the 11th with the object of pressing the enemy back on to the Somme, and securing the crossings between Offoy, about four miles east of Nesle, and Bray-siu-Somme.

Managing SASRA

Our HQ in Aldershot is staffed by a team that strives prayerfully to make decisions that are in line with God's will for gospel work. Balancing the needs of all SASRA's staff alongside regulation in the charitable sector is demanding. Whilst carefully accounting the needs of highly valued supporters, HQ staff daily contend to ensure that personal and corporate decisions honour the Lord.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for the team in Aldershot HQ as they work to support the men and women out in the field. Pray particularly for wisdom as they steward the resources of the Association.

11/08/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of Amiens (Day Four)

At 3 p.m. on August 11th Sir Henry Rawlinson held a conference of Corps Commanders at Villers Bretonneux, and discussed the general situation. From all the reports which had been received August 11th it was quite evident that the enemy's resistance had stiffened, and that he had been able to bring up fresh troops and to reinforce his shattered artillery. In addition, he was holding the western edge of a broad belt of country admirably suited for defence, which was difficult for the infantry to advance over, and practically impossible for tanks or cavalry. It was now certain that the Germans had decided to make a stand west of the Somme, but whether this was only a temporary effort to cover a withdrawal across the river, or was a new defensive line which they were determined to hold to the last, was not yet clear. On the other hand, all our divisions had been engaged in the battle. The troops had performed wonders; twenty-four hostile divisions had been engaged and defeated by thirteen of our divisions and part of one American division; but it was realised that, in the stress of modern battle, with its never-relaxing strain on nerves and sinews, there are limits to human endurance.

Raising Awareness

Our Area Reps travel the length and breadth of the country sharing word of our work with the Christian public - SASRA receives no government funding of any kind and is completely reliant on the generosity of His people.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for the families of our Area Reps and Scripture Readers as they cope with our workers being away from home so often.

12/08/1918
ThenNow

Minor Operations - (Day One)

The Commander-in-Chief had decided that the next big British attack should be made on a part of the line where the Germans were not so fully prepared, and that the Fourth Army should mark time until a more favourable opportunity should arise for continuing its advance. It was hoped that in the interval we should be able to find out whether the enemy meant to hold his ground west of the Somme, for which purpose he would have to reinforce that front with both men and guns, or whether he would retire across the river, in which case we should gain a further advantage without loss.

The Fourth Army, meanwhile, was not to remain idle, as it was essential that the enemy should not realise what the next move was to be. He must be made to expect an attack at any moment, and every method of gaining ground, which could be employed without incurring serious losses, was to be undertaken. These instructions entailed no change in the army policy, and the harassing of the enemy by minor operations was maintained until August 21st, the day prior to the opening of the second phase of the battles of the hundred days.

In His Time

Opportunities to place Scripture Readers in Army bases and RAF stations routinely emerge, but the Association is sometimes unable to proceed because there are insufficient funds, or the right candidates are not available.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that the right candidates would come forward at the right time, and when the Association has the funds it needs. And that we would have the wisdom and patience to trust the Lord that He is sovereign and all things move according to His will.

13/08/1918
ThenNow

Minor Operations - (Day Two)

The moral effect of the battle of Amiens was of great importance.

In the first place the battle demonstrated that the British forces had lost none of their fighting qualities, in spite of the reverses sustained in the enemy's March and April offensives. It proved that the British Army was as capable of carrying out a big offensive as it had been in 1916 and 1917, in spite of the heavy casualties it had suffered. Before August 8th there were many, not only in the German Army, but among the French, and even in our own Army and in England, who doubted this. On the other hand, it showed the German High Command that the German infantry was no longer of the same quality as that which had resisted so determinedly during the five months of the Somme battle of 1916.

The Big Offensive

The 100 Days project is our "big offensive" - an attempt to engage with the Christian public and develop strong relationships with 600 churches while acquiring 2,018 new supporters of the work and 600 Advocates for SASRA in congregations right across the U.K.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that the Lord will bless our efforts and establish the work of our hands - He who will do immeasurably more than we can imagine.

14/08/1918
ThenNow

Minor Operations - (Day Three)

The 18th Division had been withdrawn from the line on August 10th and brought round to relieve the 47th Division, which was holding the line opposite Albert. The latter division, under the command of Maj.-Gen. Sir G. F. Gorringe, had then taken over the part of the line held by the 58th Division on the night of August 13th and 14th.

Staying Faithful

There are many occasions when SASRA workers are required to "hold the line" - to ensure that their witness is in faithful service to the Great Commission, even at personal cost.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that our Scripture Readers would be granted great discernment as they seek to give account for the hope they have, but always with gentleness and respect.

15/08/1918
ThenNow

Haig defies Foch

British Field Marshal Douglas Haig refused demands from Supreme Allied Commander Marshal Ferdinand Foch to continue the Amiens offensive during World War I, as that attack was faltering as the troops outran their supplies and artillery, and German reserves were being moved to the sector. Instead, Haig began to plan for an offensive at Albert.

His Perfect Will

We are blessed to have not an imperfect fellow human being directing our course, but a perfect and unchanging Creator God

Items for Prayer - Please pray that all that work at SASRA would recognise we labour not for men, but for the Lord. Pray that we might be wise enough to put aside our own wishes and work towards His goals, not our own.

16/08/1918
ThenNow

The Courage of Allies

The fighting in places was very strenuous, as is proved by the fact that two Canadians, Sergeant Spall, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, and Private Dinesen, 42nd Battalion, Quebec Regiment, won the Victoria Cross in the fighting near Parvillers. Sergeant Spall deliberately gave his life in order to extricate his platoon from a most difficult situation. Private Dinesen was the outstanding man in his company during ten hours' hand-to-hand fighting, which resulted in the capture of over a mile of strongly garrisoned trenches.

The Courage of Allies

Some things never change, and there are many allies that have remained at our side through thick and thin - we continue to be blessed by the work of many volunteers that serve the Lord at our side.

If you feel you would like to become a volunteer for SASRA, please email us at admin@sasra.org.uk or call us on 03000 301 302

Items for Prayer - That our volunteers would be blessed as they do the work for which the Lord has stirred their hearts.

17/08/1918
ThenNow

Withdraw & Concentrate

When the instructions came from General Headquarters on August 17th for the withdrawal of the Canadian Corps, it was holding a front extending from Damery to just south of Lihons, with two divisions in line and two in reserve. It was to be withdrawn as soon as possible and placed in general reserve; later it was to be transferred to the First Army on the Arras front, where it was eventually to take part in a further attack.

In accordance with these orders the 2nd, 3rd, 1st, and 4th Canadian Divisions, in the order named, were gradually withdrawn and concentrated in the Longueau area, being subsequently moved by rail to the First Army. The withdrawal of the Canadian Corps necessitated a considerable shortening of the front held by the Fourth Army, if it was to maintain its offensive attitude.

Stewarding of Resources

SASRA continually faces the choice of how to deploy resources, and each member of staff is acutely conscious of the need to steward resources carefully but without undue timidity - the Parable of the Talents is our guide.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that we have the courage to invest time and resources with great boldness, but always with the wisdom that comes from the Lord.

18/08/1918
ThenNow

R&R

Before further operations could be carried out by the Fourth Army, it was essential that as many as possible of the divisions that it was going to retain should be given a short period of rest in order to regain their full fighting efficiency.

Full Fighting Efficiency

Given the current complement of the British Army and RAF, SASRA would field perhaps thirty Scripture Readers to be considered "full-strength". Clearly, we must grow the organisation if all are to hear the gospel during their time of service.

Items for Prayer - That the resources would become available for the Association to grow to full-strength in the Lord's good time.

19/08/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to Peronne

On this date it was estimated that the Fourth Army was opposed by eleven divisions, of which five, including the Alpine Corps, might be reckoned to possess more than the average fighting spirit. Apart from those divisions which the enemy had withdrawn exhausted from the battle, he was believed to have five divisions in reserve.

Fighting Spirit

Do we have "more than the average fighting spirit"?

In a spiritual battle such as ours, do we spend the time we should in prayer, and are our prayer lives as they should be?

Items for Prayer - Please pray that all our workers will be inspired to deepen their relationships with the Lord, by reading His word and spending time with Him each day.

20/08/1918
ThenNow

The German Dilemma

The enemy opposite the Fourth Army was obviously in an extremely awkward situation.

He was faced with two alternatives - either to reinforce the troops west of the Somme and The German dilemma build up a new defensive line, taking full advantage of the existing trenches and wire, or to retire east of the Somme to his old reserve line of 1917 and make use of the river as an obstacle to our advance. At first it was not apparent which of these alternatives he would adopt. The danger he would incur by endeavouring to make a stand with an obstacle such as the Somme behind him was obvious, especially in view of the further severe drain on his resources in men and material which such a course would entail. On the other hand, we had to remember that the enemy had held a similar position for four months in 1917, and that he must realise that any further retirement was bound to have a lowering effect on his already shaken morale.

Circumstances, however, since 1917 had changed considerably, and the question of economising man power at this time was of even greater importance to the enemy than to ourselves. Faced with the heavy losses consequent on the failure of his spring and summer offensives, in which he had cherished the hope of gaining a decisive victory, he was now confronted with the menace of the increasing strength of the American Army. It became evident, therefore, that the enemy, if pressure was applied, must withdraw east of the river.

Resist The Enemy and He Will Flee

A truth all that belong to Him understand well - the temptations of this world must be resisted, and when in the Lord's strength we stand firm, the Enemy cannot stand against us.

Items for Prayer - That our Scripture Readers will stand firm in the midst of all the worldly distractions that they face.

21/08/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to Peronne

Before passing to the next phase of the operations, it may be of interest to consider the results of the Battle of Amiens, in order to appreciate its influence in determining the ruthless offensive policy of the Allied Armies, which ultimately achieved one of the most decisive victories in history and the final defeat of Germany.

From the opening of the battle on August 8th to its conclusion on August 11th, the Fourth Army penetrated the enemy's defences to a maximum depth of twelve miles, forcing the enemy back to the borders of the old Somme battlefield, where there existed practically no accommodation for his reserve troops, and where the roads were exceedingly poor. During the period of fighting from August 8th to 21st, 23,064 prisoners and 400 guns of all calibres, with many hundreds of machine-guns and trench mortars, were captured. In addition, large ammunition dumps, enormous quantities of engineer material, and a considerable amount of rolling stock were secured. Such heavy losses in prisoners naturally compelled the enemy to throw in reserves. These he could ill afford to spare in view of the wide extent of the allied offensive which at this time extended from Rheims to Albert.

The centre of gravity of the British offensive was, consequently, transferred for a time from the front of the Fourth Army to that of the Third Army north of Albert. At 4.55 a.m. on August 21st, Sir Julian Byng launched eight divisions against the enemy's defences between Grandecourt, five miles north of Albert, and Moyenneville, seven miles south of Arras, on a front of some 16,000 yards.

News of the battle was eagerly awaited by the Fourth Army, as it was known that, if all went well on August 21st, offensive operations were to be resumed on the Fourth Army front between the Somme and Albert on August 22nd as a preliminary to a general advance on Peronne.

The conservation of man power constituted a very important feature of the battle. Between August 8th and August 21st we had lost 1,423 officers and 25,856 other ranks, killed, wounded, and missing; the enemy's losses in prisoners alone during that period amounted to some 23,000, while his losses in killed and wounded were known to be very heavy. This was a satisfactory balance sheet, and, if the same proportion of losses could be maintained, it was certain that we should be able to outlast the Germans in the final struggle.

Taking Stock

It's important to take stock on occasion, and celebrate victories.

Each year our Scripture Readers hand out several thousand Bibles to the men and women of the British Armed Forces, and as a result of this effort and the work done every day in bases and stations where British Army and RAF personnel can be found, a small number of men and women come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This work simply could not take place without the financial and prayer support of our supporters.

We thank you all for your loyal and unswerving support so that this work may continue.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that our workers would be encouraged by their successes. Often he who sows the seed does not reap it - please pray that our Scripture Readers would see fruit for their labours.

22/08/1918
ThenNow

The Second Battle of the Somme - (Day One)

There were at this time indications that the Germans were contemplating a withdrawal in front of the First Army south of the Scarpe. Moreover, although the enemy was fighting very stubbornly against the Third Army north of Albert, the moral and general condition of his troops along the whole of the Allied front was now known to be such that, if bold and resolute tactics were adopted, his total collapse appeared probable. This was fully realised at General Headquarters, and an order was issued by Sir Douglas Haig on August 22nd to all Army Commanders defining a ruthless offensive policy designed to achieve the final downfall of the German Armies.

By dawn on August 22nd all the tanks had been assembled within 3,000 yards of the front line, and at 9.30 p.m. that night they moved forward to their "starting line," which was approximately 1,000 yards in rear of that of the infantry.

Following on the brilliant patrol work of the 54th Brigade, came the gallant achievement of the 55th Brigade, which carried out the difficult operation of dislodging the enemy from his well-concealed and strongly defended posts in the ruins of Albert. It was work which could not be hurried, and required exceptional thoroughness and individual initiative. The operation for capturing the town was divided into three phases. The first phase began at 4.45 a.m., when a heavy bombardment was directed on the whole of that portion of Albert which lies east of the Ancre. This bombardment lasted for an hour, during Avhich time the 8th East Surrey (In 1959 the East Surreys were amalgamated with Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey) to form The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment, which in turn became the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment which in August 2017, the returned to the UK and is based at Kendrew Barracks in Cottesmore) worked its way through that part of the town which lies west of the river. For the second phase, the bombardment was lifted on to the strong points on the eastern outskirts, where it remained stationary until 6.45 a.m., while the 8th East Surrey cleared the town east of the river. In the final phase the bombardment was lifted clear of the town. By 9.10 a.m. the 8th East Surrey had overcome the enemy's resistance and was in complete occupation of Albert.

In 1959 the East Surreys were amalgamated with Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey) to form The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment, which in turn became the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment which in August 2017, returned to the UK and is based at Kendrew Barracks in Cottesmore

Bold & Resolute

We must prepare for success too, and be bold and resolute. There are many times when our efforts seem to have been for nothing, as well-laid plans go awry, or opportunities to place Readers seem to have been denied.

Yet so often the Lord finds a way to bring victory, in the midst of apparent defeat.

Items for Prayer - For great boldness and resolve in speaking His word to the men and women of the British Armed Forces, and for Scripture Reader Lee Philipson.

23/08/1918
ThenNow

The Second Battle of the Somme - Day Two

The attack, which was timed to start simultaneously with that of the 18th Division against Tara Hill, was launched at 4.45 a.m. on the morning of August 23rd. As soon as the Australian Corps artillery barrage, which was in all respects excellent, attack came down, the infantry moved forward followed by the tanks.
The latter were well up to time with the exception of those supporting the 2nd Australian Brigade, which were a little late in arriving at the "starting line," and only succeeded in catching up the infantry at a later stage of the advance.

On the 32nd Division front the 2nd King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and 10th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of the 97th Brigade attacked Herleville, and the village was soon in our possession. Heavy fighting occurred near the church, where the enemy was in considerable strength and fought with determination.

Against this date in the Ready Magazine there exists a reproduced letter from a serving Sergeant in the trenches in France, written "twenty minutes before zero hour on the 23rd" - a non-believer who writes of a Christian soldier beside him "He did something that I had never seen done before. He pulled out a Bible and commenced reading a passage, which impressed me very much and I wondered how he could concentrate on such a thing at such a time. I am not of your religion, but I must say his action made a deep impression upon me and gave me great confidence."

Knowing His Protection

We have our Enemy too, and although sometimes he fights with determination, we know that when resisted he flees. Full-time missionary work is the very tip of the spear when it comes to evangelism, and our Scripture Readers do considerable damage to the plans of the Enemy.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that our workers would be protected, and that they would be strengthened each day for the battle they must fight.

24/08/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to Peronne

During August 24th, after the failure of the German counter-attack east of the Happy Valley, there were more and more signs of demoralisation amongst the enemy's troops north of the Somme. The pressure of the Third and Fourth Armies was evidently too strong, and, if it could be increased, or even maintained without relaxation, there was every reason to believe that the enemy's arrangements for an orderly retirement behind the line of the Somme could be upset, and that he would be compelled to retreat before they were complete. Consequently, in accordance with the policy contained in Sir Douglas Haig's instructions, which appear at the beginning of this chapter, orders were issued that all formations should spare no effort to harass the enemy's withdrawal, and should allow him no respite.

Working in conjunction with the right of the V Corps, whose first objectives were Ovillersla-Boisselle and La Boisselle, the 18th Division advanced against Chapes spur. By 5 a.m. it had captured the spur and thrown out a defensive flank facing south, north of Becourt Wood. The La Boisselle crater, which had been blown on the first day of the Battle of the Somme over two years before, afforded the enemy a strong locality of which he made full use. He held on to this position until 8 p.m., when a brilliant attack by the 8th Royal Berkshire (The Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) was a line infantry regiment of the British Army in existence from 1881 until 1959. The regiment was created in 1881, as the Princess Charlotte of Wales's (Royal Berkshire Regiment), by the amalgamation of the 49th (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) (Hertfordshire) Regiment of Foot and the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment of Foot. In 1921, it was renamed the Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales's).

The regiment saw active service in the Second Boer War, World War I and World War II. On 9 June 1959, the Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) was amalgamated with the Wiltshire Regiment (Duke of Edinburgh's) to form the Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire) which was again amalgamated, on 27 July 1994, with the Gloucestershire Regiment to create the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment. Like its predecessor regiment, however, this was on 1 February 2007, merged with the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment, the Royal Green Jackets and The Light Infantry to form a new large regiment, The Rifles) finally dislodged him, and resulted in the capture of 250 prisoners and several machine-guns.

Extra Strength

It can be tempting to rest on laurels, and to feel that the work has been well done. A little folding of the hands to rest can feel in order.

Yet our Enemy does not rest, or sleep - we must recognise that our attempt to defeat him must be unrelenting. Each day we must find our strength renewed in the Lord, and rely on prayer to protect us and help us to understand His will for our lives.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that our Scripture Readers will be granted the strength they need to press on with Great Commission, and to run their races well.

25/08/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to Peronne

From August 24th to 26th the fire of the enemy's guns increased considerably south of the Somme, in which part of the battlefield his field artillery was well distributed in depth. During this retirement there were three noticeable features in the tactics employed by the Germans in the withdrawal of their artillery. First, a retrograde movement of the guns was usually prefaced by an intense bombardment, doubtless for the purpose of using up all the ammunition dumped near the artillery positions. Secondly, the withdrawal of the field guns was covered by the increased activity of the high-velocity and heavy guns, and vice versa.

Dove & Serpent

Our society is less and less sympathetic to the Word of God, and our Scripture Readers can encounter considerable resistance to what they have to say. At all times, they must be aware that there is ambivalence or even opposition to their work from people whom they must work alongside.

Great wisdom and tact is often required, and shrewdness too.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that those who oppose our work would not seek to harm us or hamper our work, and that we would always look to show the love of God, even to those who oppose us.

26/08/1918
ThenNow

The Capture of Montauban

At first the enemy's resistance was fairly strong, but it was apparent that our troops were only being opposed by rearguards. On the right the 58th Division advanced to within some 500 yards of Maricourt; in the centre the 12th Division captured Carnoy and on the left the 18th Division gained possession of Montauban together with sixty prisoners. The enemy defended this village successfully with machine-guns, until the advance of the 38th Division on the left enabled the machine-gunners of the 18th Division to bring their fire on to Montauban from Marlboro' Wood. This flanking fire was of the greatest assistance to the infantry, and the prisoners asserted that it made retreat impossible. After the capture of Montauban, the 18th Division prepared to advance with the 55th Brigade as advanced guard.

The First Must Be Last...

The Enemy knows our weaknesses and our strengths, and opposes us in ways designed to frustrate us. We must remain humble, and not rely on our own strength but that of the Lord of Hosts.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for SASRA's senior member of staff - the Council and the Directors, that they might rely ever more fully on the strength and wisdom of the Lord, and consider the needs of others before themselves.

27/08/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to Peronne

From 7.30p.m. to 8p.m. a bombardment with artillery of all calibres was placed on the southern portion of Trones Wood, and a well-planned attack was launched at 8 p.m. by a force of two composite companies of infantry, formed from all three battalions of the 53rd Brigade, under the commander of the 8th Royal Berkshire. The wood was strongly defended by a battalion of the Emperor Francis Joseph's Prussian Guards. A bloody hand-to-hand conflict ensued, which resulted in the gallant survivors of the 53rd Brigade emerging from the eastern edge of Trones Wood, tired but victorious.

Tired But Victorious

Tired and victorious indeed - how often have His people heard these words and lived by them down the centuries.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for those who work for SASRA and are unwell.

28/08/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to Peronne

The village of Fay soon fell into our hands, and the line moved steadily forward until the outskirts of Estrees were reached. The resistance stiffened momentarily in front of this place, but it was overcome by 1.45p.m. A general line was then established in some old trenches east of Estrees, where, owing to the broken nature of the country and the maze of trenches and wire, a temporary halt was made, while patrols moved forward to reconnoitre the ground towards Belloy-en-Santerre. The advance was resumed later in the afternoon, and the infantry, although the men were beginning to show signs of fatigue, pressed on and, by 9p.m., had captured Assevillers. The advance was checked in front of Belloy-en-Santerre by machine-gun fire from the copses west and northwest of the village, and, as it was by this time almost pitch dark, an outpost line was formed south-west and west of Belloy-en-Santerre and east of Assevillers.

Onwards in Him

It's impossible to know how many Christian soldiers and air force personnel there are among the ranks of the British Armed Forces, but from our own figures we estimate there are no more than a thousand.

As the RAF and British Army collectively number just over 100,000, that means that every Christian has roughly a hundred non-believers alongside them.

Life as a Christian can be hard, and for the men and women in the British Armed Forces where Christianity is sometimes confused with pacifism, it is even more challenging.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for the Christians in the British Armed Forces - that their faith would stay strong and be a blessing and inspiration to those around them.

29/08/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to Peronne

The Somme was a formidable obstacle, and, if the Germans succeeded in retiring across it and destroying the bridges after them, we should be confronted with great difficulties before bridgeheads could be established on the eastern bank. East of the general line Flaucourt-Feuilleres, moreover, the ground fell away to the river both to the north and the east, and all movement east of this line could be observed from Mont St. Quentin and from the high ground east and south-east of Peronne, while the terrain was a maze of old trenches and ware. These factors added to the difficulties of forcing a passage at this point. There was just a possibility that, by following close on the enemy's heels and taking advantage of his confusion, a crossing might be made over one or more of the existing bridges before the enemy had time to destroy them. Sir John Monash and Maj.-Gen. Rosenthal knew well the importance placed by the Army Commander on securing the bridges intact, and the 2nd Australian Division made a determined attempt to force a passage without delay before the bridges could be destroyed.

The Chaplaincy

SASRA greatly esteems our strong relationships with the Army and Air Force Chaplaincies, bolstered by our new Memorandum of Understanding with the Army and the appointment of our two Chaplaincy Liaison Officers.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for these "CLOs" as they work with us to ensure SASRA is the best possible complement to the work of the Chaplaincy.

30/08/1918
ThenNow

Taking Bapaume

At dawn on the 30th the 58th and 47th Divisions resumed the advance on the right of the III Corps. The 58th Division advanced to the western edge of Marrieres Wood, meeting with more and more vigorous opposition as the advance progressed, and an unsuccessful attempt to seize the wood about midday showed that the enemy held it in considerable strength as part of his main line of defence. Similarly, on the left the 47th Division pressed forward, meeting increased resistance until the line Marrieres Wood-Priez Farm was reached at 7.30 a.m. Patrols were pushed forward towards the Bouchavesnes-Rancourt road, but were met with machine-gun fire, and were forced to withdraw. Meanwhile, with its right held up at Priez Farm, the 18th Division made no attempt to advance during the day, but contented itself with consolidating its position east of Combles, touch on the left being maintained with the V Corps north of Rouleaux Wood. North of the Somme, the enemy's defence had hardened considerably

Making Mistakes

We don't always get it right - a day does not go by where we don't fail to meet the high standards we set, in one way or another. It's often the case that doing good work in one area can cause problem in another - weighing the costs and benefits of particular courses of action is challenging work and requires great wisdom.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for us as we make mistakes. Please pray that we would have the humility and grace to know when to apologise, to humble ourselves, and to give a soft answer to turn away even undeserved wrath.

31/08/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin

It was a soldiers' battle, throughout which the physique, individuality, and bravery of the Australians were always conspicuous. There were only about 1,200 men in the three leading battalions when they attacked, and it is doubtful if at the end of the day there were more than 600 men covering a front of 4,000 yards.

Owing to the intense hostile fire, and with men so widely scattered, control by company officers was well nigh impossible, but the fighting spirit of the men carried them through.

This spirit is well expressed by the exhortation of an officer who was heard to shout down the line at a critical moment in the fight "Come on, boys, let's do it in the good old 'digger' fashion."

Back to Work

Many of our Scripture Readers will be encountering a fresh intake at their various establishments - meeting new people for the first time and looking to engage with groups returning from their holidays.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for the establishment of good working relationships, for opportunities to speak of their faith, and for fruitful engagement with the Armed Forces personnel that they serve.

Sep 1918
ThenNow

September

Almost the entire month of September was occupied with the advance to the so-called Hindenburg Line - Germany's last significant line of defence to which they had retreated a year earlier.

From the 5th to the 28th, Allied forces including the British, Australian, Canadian and French Armies, accompanied by the RAF, advanced from North-West to North-East France and took on the remaining might of the German forces.

Fighting at times grew very fierce - enormous heroism and devotion to duty were evidenced on a daily basis, and the fighting men gave selflessly of their energy and their lives in a war they knew had to be fought and won.

Their sacrifices should never be forgotten.

September

September will be the month we mark Our Day - our yearly supporter's event where we gather to celebrate all that the Lord has done in the previous year.

Please join us at High Cross Church in Camberley on the 23rd.

01/09/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin (Day Two)

From 1 p.m. to 1.30 p.m. the village of Mont St. Quentin was bombarded by every gun and howitzer which could be made available, and at 1.30 p.m. the attack was renewed. Two companies of the 21st Battalion rushed the northern half of the village, and the 23rd Battalion the southern half, while at the same time the 24th Battalion advanced on the north of, and one company of the 21st Battalion on the south of, the village. A desperate struggle ensued. The defenders were picked troops who fought hard, but the impetus of the first rush carried the advance to Mont St. Quentin Wood, which was captured, and our line established along its eastern edge.

Our Line Established

As September begins, SASRA starts to plan the recruiting effort for new Scripture Readers for 2019.

We are particularly keen to find new Scripture Readers for the RAF, so if you feel you are being called to full-time Ministry and are ex-Forces, please do get in touch with us admin@sasra.org.uk or call us on 03000 301 302.

Items for Prayer - That those willing to serve would come forward, and that we would be able to work together to place more labourers in the field.

02/09/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin (Day Three)

North-east of Mont St. Quentin the 2nd Australian Division attacked on the left of the 5th Australian Division, with the 7th Brigade operating on a three-battalion front. The attack was supported 2 seven brigades of field artillery which put down a series of standing barrages, each brigade being allotted an area on which to direct its fire. The heavy artillery co-operated by a bombardment of Allaines, Haut-Allaines, and other selected points in rear.

Iron Sharpens Iron

In the trenches, each man fought not just for his country but for the man alongside him. As Christians, we rely on each other very profoundly.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that each of our workers will have good relationships at work, and with their Brothers and Sisters at church.

03/09/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin - (Day Four)

On the left of the 74th Division the 47th Division advanced about 1,000 yards, finally holding a trench running about 300 yards west of Moislains. Meanwhile, the 18th Division, which was operating on the northern portion of the army front in conjunction with the 38th Division of the Third Army, was engaged in clearing up St. Pierre Vaast Wood. This work was successfully completed during the day; about 100 prisoners were captured, and Government Farm was occupied.

The attack of the 47th Division was much assisted by the courage and initiative of Private Jack Harvey, l/22nd London, who, single-handed, compelled 37 Germans to surrender.

During the next two days our patrols made continuous efforts to gain ground east of Peronne and Mont St. Quentin, and to force the line of the Canal du Nord. Patrols of the 5th Australian Division gained a footing in Flamicourt on September 3rd, and, on the following day, cleared the village and gained possession of Chair Wood, which lies to the east of it. East of Mont St. Quentin the 2nd Australian Division gained a little ground, and advanced their left along the Canal du Nord slightly, but as the enemy's machine-gun fire was still very active, no serious effort was made to continue the advance.

Consolidation

When the Holy Spirit moves, hearts are softened and opportunities arise to share the gospel. Yet there is often work to do afterwards to build relationships and trust.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that the Lord grants us all a heart for this work, and that our love for the members of the British Armed Forces inspires us to come alongside them in their daily lives and share their concerns.

04/09/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin - (Day Five)

Mont St. Quentin and Peronne were the dominating features in the enemy's defences, and their capture by the 2nd and 5th Australian Divisions, very materially assisted by the action of the 3rd Australian Division, will always rank high amongst the many brilliant feats of arms performed by the Australians. They captured the position from the enemy's picked troops and maintained it against numerous counter-attacks. The whole operation was a triumph for the Australian Corps. It was conspicuous for the excellent preparatory work of the commanders and staffs, as well as for the initiative, courage, and resolution of the regimental officers and men. The spirit of the Australian soldier is well exemplified by an epitaph, which the visitor to the battlefield of Mont St. Quentin may still find inscribed on a small white cross roughly put together from timber collected from the ruins of the village:

The operations of the III Corps were also worthy of the highest praise.

The advance of the troops of this corps, from the capture of Albert on August 22nd until they crossed the Canal du Nord on September 4th, covered a distance, as the crow flies, of some fourteen miles, over the desolate shell-pitted area of the old Somme battlefields. The operations require to be studied in greater detail than is possible here before the magnitude of the task the troops were asked to perform, and the demands on the officers and men which such an advance in face of determined opposition entailed, can be fully realised. The spirit, however, of the young soldiers of the 12th, 18th, 47th, and 58th Divisions successfully overcame every difficulty, and well did they answer every call made on them, and uphold the best traditions of the British soldier by their cheerfulness and endurance.

Cheerfulness & Endurance

Items for Prayer - Please pray that all our Scripture Readers have great cheerfulness of heart as they serve, and for ASR Lee McDade and his family.

05/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day One)

Early on September 5th the enemy began to retire along the front of the Australian Corps, covered by strong rearguards. On the right rearguards of the 5th Bavarian and 119th Divisions defended the crossings of the Somme at St. Christ and Brie. Early in the morning, however, a platoon of the 15th Highland Light Infantry of the 32nd Division crossed the swamps of the Somme at Eterpigny undiscovered, and surprised one of the enemy's posts. This platoon was quickly reinforced by the remainder of the 14th Brigade, which cleared Brie and St, Christ after a stiff fight. The engineers and pioneers of the 32nd Division then carried out the construction of bridges at Brie and St. Christ with such skill and rapidity that, by noon on September 6th, not only the whole of the 32nd Division, but also a considerable number of French troops had crossed the river by these bridges. Meanwhile, advancing at dawn on the 5th, patrols of the 5th Australian Division worked forward under cover of a smoke screen and captured Doingt and Bussu after slight opposition. Further opposition was encountered, mainly from machine-guns and isolated field guns, which, although causing a temporary delay, did not impede the general advance to any great extent. During the day 150 prisoners were captured.

The III Corps also pressed forward at dawn on the 5th. The 74th Division on the right, and the 47th Division in the centre, advanced rapidly, seized Aizecourt-le-Haut, and cleared the ground east of the main PeronneNurlu road to the outskirts of Driencourt. On the left the troops of the 12th Division were subjected to a heavy gas concentration while forming up for the attack in the early morning. Nevertheless, they pressed on at daybreak, and, in spite of a number of casualties from machine-gun fire, succeeded by skilful manoeuvring in making a considerable advance during the day. They penetrated the first system of trenches and wire of the Templeux-la-Fosse-Nurlu defences, and by evening had established themselves in the trenches on the western edge of Nurlu. An attack, which was launched in the dark against Nurlu village, was unsuccessful, and provoked considerable retaliation from the enemy's artillery. A footing, however, had now been established on the Nurlu heights, which deprived the enemy of satisfactory observation for his artillery fire, and when the advance was resumed next morning Nurlu was occupied after slight resistance by the 12th Division.

Combat Engineering

Today, such engineers and pioneers are still found within the British Army - engineering is a significant role in the modern Armed Forces.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for ASR Kevin Wadsworth and his team at the Jackson Club, as they minister to the Combat Engineers at Gibraltar Barracks in Minley. And for ASR Lee Philipson, an engineer himself.

06/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Two)

The pursuit was resumed on September 6th, and very little resistance was encountered along the whole army front until the evening of September 7th. The 13th Australian Light Horse Regiment and the Australian Corps Cyclist Battalion formed the advanced screen of the Australian Corps, while the Northumberland Hussars performed a similar duty for the III Corps. The advance was closely supported by field artillery brigades, of which sections accompanied the advance guard battalions.

The German rearguards were thus continually harassed, and the isolated machine-gun nests, left behind by the enemy in order to impede our progress, were in most cases destroyed, or forced to withdraw without fulfilling their mission. On the Australian and III Corps fronts the patrols of the 13th Australian Light Horse Regiment and the Northumberland Hussars maintained contact with the enemy's rearguards throughout his retirement.

The TA

Members of the Territorial Army serve today up and down the country - you may know people who serve this way or even be serving yourself.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for the members of the Territorial Army, who have inherited such a proud legacy.

07/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Three)

Meanwhile, on September 6th the First French Army entered Ham, and by the evening of September 7th had advanced to the St. Quentin Canal at St. Simon and Tugny, and was holding a line running northwards to Fluquieres and Vaux (see Map 2), A number of prisoners and a few guns were captured in the advance, but in many parts of the battlefield the enemy withdrew so rapidly that touch was lost for several hours.

During our advance most valuable work was again accomplished by the 5th Brigade, Royal Air Force. The weather was ideal at this period, and our airmen made full use of their opportunity, flying over the battle area from dawn to dusk.

The RAF at Brize Norton

Today, the RAF has a heavy concentration of several thousand air force personnel concentrated at RAF Brize Norton, where the heavy transport fleet is based.

Airforce Scripture Reader Meg Atkinson MBE serves with distinction at Brize Norton.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that our Scripture Readers would be granted great discernment as they seek to give account for the hope they have, but always with gentleness and respect.

08/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Four)

On the front of the III Corps patrols of the 74th Division almost immediately encountered strong opposition in the Villers Faucon area from troops belonging to the 56th Straf Kompagnie, one of the disciplinary companies which had been formed by the Germans from men condemned to various periods of imprisonment.

In accordance with orders which it had received not to incur heavy casualties, the 74th Division did not attempt to press on, and halted on the line it had gained. On the left the 58th Division advanced against Epehy and Peizieres, and made some progress. During the day patrols of this division entered the villages of Epehy and Peizieres: they were, however, driven out again by determined hostile counter-attacks, which were delivered almost immediately by the Alpine Corps.

The advanced troops of the 58th Division at the close of the day's fighting were established in an existing trench system on the southern and western slopes of the hill, while the enemy occupied a position on the western outskirts of Epehy and Peizieres, and showed indications of making a determined stand on what had been the British main line of resistance in the previous March.

The Imprisoned

We see here men obliged to serve in the Enemy's Army. Today, there are many who do so unaware of their role, deceived by the Enemy into believing they are on the side of Good.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for those imprisoned and deceived by the Enemy, that they would be freed from bondage.

09/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Five)

On September 9th the operations of the Australian Corps were limited to active reconnaissance. Patrols of the 3rd Australian Division pressed forward east of Montigny Farm and through Hesbecourt; they succeeded in advancing 1,000 yards and in retaining the ground gained. A counter-attack south-west of Epehy, which was carried out by the Alpine Corps on the morning of September 9th, and resulted in the loss to us of a few lengths of trenches, was a further evidence of the increasing resistance on the front of the III Corps.

Increasing Resistance

As we look around the world, we see Christianity in retreat in many areas, as the Enemy tightens his grip on the world. Our country is increasingly secular and/or humanist.

Items for Prayer - Pray for those members of the Armed Forces who know nothing of the Lord Jesus Christ, that they may encounter those willing to share the Word with them.

10/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Six)

The III Corps on the 10th again attempted to force the enemy's position at Epehy, in order to test the accuracy of the reports received, and to ascertain definitely whether the enemy's resistance was a rearguard action or an organised defence in depth.

On the right, south of Epehy and facing Ronssoy Wood, the 74th Division attacked at 5.15 a.m. and advanced about 1,000 yards. Our troops were, however, unable to maintain their hold, in face of the counter-attacks which were again launched against them by the Alpine Corps. They, consequently, withdrew to their starting positions, retaining only a few advanced posts, which succeeded in withstanding all further attempts of the enemy to force them back. On the left at the same hour an attack was launched by the 173rd Brigade of the 58th Division under cover of a creeping barrage, and supported by a concentration of heavy artillery fire on selected targets.

Good progress was made at first, and our troops gained a footing in both Epehy and Peizieres, and even penetrated as far east as the railway. They were, however, driven back by an immediate counter-attack from the railway embankment, and were compelled to withdraw almost to their original "starting line." In the day's fighting 100 prisoners of the Alpine Corps were captured, and it was definitely ascertained that the enemy was holding Epehy strongly with an organised garrison.

This was a strong position, and it was clear that it could only be captured by a deliberate assault, supported by all available artillery and tanks.

Heavy Support

Our Scripture Readers are often alone, surrounded by those for whom they care deeply, but are yet unsaved. The support delivered to such lone workers needs to be of the highest order.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that the other workers at SASRA remain aware of how lonely full-time missionary work can be, and that they uphold our Scripture Readers in pray always.

11/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Seven)

It was calculated that on the 11th the Fourth Army was opposed by seven divisions, of which six were engaged for the second time, and that the strength in rifles in the line probably did not exceed 12,000.

It was estimated that, out of the twenty-one divisions that had been withdrawn from the line since August 8th, only five were immediately fit for active operations, and that their total fighting strength would not amount to more than 10,000 to 11,000 bayonets. In view of the above. Sir Henry Rawlinson asked that he might be allowed to undertake with the least possible delay a definite operation on the whole front of the armv to gain possession of the outer defences of the Hindenburg Line. Such an operation, if carried out at an early date, would deny the enemy any opportunity of reorganising his troops, improving his defences, or becoming familiar with the scheme of defence. Every day's respite given to the enemy was of inestimable value to him. Further, should it be decided to attack the main Hindenburg Line, our troops would need a short period of rest in which to reorganise their communications before undertaking such an important operation. It would be advisable that this interval should take place after the capture of the outer defences of the Hindenburg Line, rather than before, so that advantage might be taken of it for reconnaissance, for the systematic organisation of the artillery arrangements, and for other important preliminaries, that would have to be carried out before an attack on a large scale could be undertaken. In conclusion. Sir Henry Rawlinson submitted that, although he was inclined to think that an attack on the main Hindenburg Line on a wide front and with ample artillery support would be successful, he did not consider that he could give a definite opinion as to its practicability until the high ground then held by the enemy, and especially Holnon Wood, Le Verguier and the high ground north of it, the high ground about Cologne Farm, and the group of villages round Ronssoy and Epehv had been captured. The possession of these positions would give us good observation over the main Hindenburg Line, which was essential before an attack against it could be contemplated, and would enable reconnaissance to be made of the best avenues of approach.

An attack on these advanced positions would, moreover, be an infallible test of the enemy's power of resistance, which was after all the ruling factor, and by the result of it we should discover the probable chances of success of an attack against the main Hindenburg Line.

Sir Douglas Haig approved of Sir Henry Rawlinson's proposals.

Man Proposes...

There are many plans that we might conceive and attempt to deliver, but without the Lord of Hosts at our side these plans are vanities.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that we remain always mindful of the Lord's will, and seek to remain in the centre of it.

12/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Eight)

On the Australian Corps front the 1st Australian Division occupied Jeancourt on September 12th without meeting with much resistance.

Gratitude to the Lord

Items for Prayer - Thanks to the Lord for times when we are weak, and so He is strong.

13/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Nine)

On the night of September 13th the 6th Division relieved the remainder of the 32nd Division on the right of the IX Corps front.

Relief

The Lord grants us time to rest, and we must take it lest we become weary.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that our workers know to rest when they need it.

14/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Ten)

With the exception of the final clearing of Holnon Wood by the 11th Essex of the 6th Division, and the capture of part of the high ground between Holnon Wood and Maissemy by patrols of the 1st Division, no infantry operations were undertaken on September 14th.

Holiday

The Lord grants us time to take holiday with our families and friends, and we can delight in that.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that our workers know to take time on holiday when they need it.

15/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Eleven)

At 5.30 a.m. on September 15th the 1st Division continued its success by capturing Maissemy and the rest of the high ground to the ' The 32nd Division on relief moved back to the Corbie area for a well-earned rest after 26 days continuously in the line. 'The former division had just relieved the 21st Division, and was now engaged for the third time since August 8th. south-east of it against slight opposition;
78 prisoners 'of the 25th Reserve and 79th Reserve Divisions and 20 machine-guns were taken. These prisoners belonged to the 1st Reserve and 119th Divisions.

On the same date the 4th Australian Division seized the spur south-west of Le Verguier, thus weakening the enemy's hold on this important village.

Weakening the Enemy's Hold

Members of the Armed Forces encounter the same difficulties and temptations in the lives as we all do, and some struggle more than others to conquer them.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for those members of the Armed Forces that have problems with gambling, loneliness, or with their marriages.

16/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Twelve)

Infantry action on September 16th on the army front consisted only of some slight advances on the part of patrols. On the other hand, our airmen were extremely active and successful. During the day, fourteen hostile machines were destroyed and five shot down out of control, while we lost only three machines.

The Modern RAF

The RAF are constantly active, patrolling our shores to keep us safe and reacting to threats and provocations when they occur.

This can be dangerous work - some air force personnel are routinely in physical danger.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for the physical safety of all RAF personnel as they work with complex systems and equipment. Please also pray for our North of England Area Rep Mike Wajdner.

17/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Thirteen)

On the rest of the army front, except for some desultory shelling, all was quiet on the 17th. In the meanwhile, on receiving Sir Douglas Haig's permission to carry out the attack, orders had been issued on September 13th defining the preliminary objectives, the inter-corps boundaries and those of the arrangements for the army, and giving the allotment of tanks to corps. On attack receipt of these orders the IX, Australian, and III Corps commenced their preparations.

Aeroplane photographs of the enemy's defences to a depth of 4,000 yards were taken, and were distributed throughout formations to all officers and non-commissioned officers taking part in the operations. As in the preparations for August 8th, every provision was made to ensure secrecy.

Final instructions were issued by Sir Henry Rawlinson on September 14th, giving the nature and rate of advance of artillery barrages, the length of halts in the advance of the barrage, and other details, and also fixing the date of attack as September 18th.

By the evening of September 17th all arrangements had been completed, and "zero" was fixed for 5.20 a.m.

Extra Strength

We all face challenging circumstances in our lives, but for some members of the British Armed Forces, they know they will wake tomorrow to particularly daunting events.

Some may be forever changed by what they experience.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that tomorrow, they will encounter not just daunting events, but a Scripture Reader ready with a word in season. Please pray that those encountering a Scripture Reader tomorrow might have their hearts softened and be ready to receive the Gospel.

18/09/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of Epehy

On the front of the 12th Division the 9th Royal Fusiliers and the 7th Royal Sussex, operating immediately south of Epehy, made good progress and succeeded in clearing the railway embankment south-east of the village. The troops of the 7th Norfolk and 9th Essex of the 35th Brigade, however, experienced determined opposition immediately on reaching the western outskirts of Epehy and lost touch with the barrage. Even when the leading two battalions were reinforced by the 1st Cambridgeshire, it proved a difficult matter to dislodge the Alpine Corps from the village, which it had been told to hold at all costs, and casualties were severe on both sides.

Losing Touch

In the confusion of battle, communications can sometimes be lost. In our battle, remaining in touch with the Lord is crucial.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that today, our workers would hear clearly from the Lord.

19/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Fifteen)

On the morning of September 19th the weather was still overcast, and a high wind was blowing. The Australians, in the centre of the army front, had now gained practically the whole of their objectives of the 18th, and devoted the next two days to consolidation and to adjusting their line at certain points with a view to improving observation. All attempts by the enemy to drive in some of the forward posts established by the Australians were unsuccessful. On the flanks of the army, on the other hand, neither the IX nor the III Corps had reached all their objectives on September 18th. The attack was, therefore, continued on the fronts of these two corps on the morning of September 19th, as it was essential that all objectives of the 18th should be secured as early as possible, with a view to future operations. On the IX Corps front the 6th and 1st Divisions endeavoured to gain ground round the Quadrilateral, Fresnoy-le-Petit, and east of The events on the Berthaucourt. The 6th Division, attacking with the IX Corps front on Sep - 71st and 16th Brigades, encountered even greater resistance at the Quadrilateral and at Fresnoy-le-Petit than on the 18th, and was unable to make any progress. Similar attempts by the 1st Division, east of Berthaucourt, were checked by heavy machinegun fire; on the other hand a counter-attack, launched against the 1st Division at Berthaucourt at 8 a.m., was completely repulsed. The 34th French Division, operating on the right of, and in conjunction with, the 6th Division, attacked Manchester Hill during the morning, but was unsuccessful. The situation at Rovind Hill still hung in the balance.

In The Balance

For new young Christians, their faith can come under sustained assault. In the Armed Forces, it can be particularly difficult to retain a living faith in the Lord Jesus.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that all Christians in the Armed Forces would feel His protection today, as they try to live out their faith in a challenging environment.

20/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Sixteen)

September 20th was remarkable for the number of more or less isolated, and at the same time hotly contested struggles, which took place for the possession of small lengths of trenches. The enemy in front of the 18th Division evacuated X, Y, and Z copses, thereby indicating that he had given up the idea of regaining Ronssoy and Epehy. These small posts were occupied, but, beyond advancing our line to Sart Farm, little further progress was made by the 18th Division. The enemy had taken up new positions in the old British outpost line, and held Braeton Post and the trenches around Little Priel Farm in strength. Although the 12th and 58th Divisions gained some ground, they were unable to capture the whole of their objectives, as the Alpine Corps defended every post, trench, and copse with great stubbornness.

Great Stubbornness

In our hearts, we all desire to go our own way - it is a constant battle to give over our will to the Lord.

Items for Prayer - Please ask that we would be humble before the Lord, and willing to do His will above our own.

21/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Seventeen)

It had been decided on the 20th to make an organised attack against the enemy's advanced positions at Duncan Post, Tombois Farm, Braeton Post, and Little Priel Farm, which he was holding very strongly, and then without delay to secure Quennemont Farm, Gillemont Farm, and The Knoll, the capture of which would place the whole of the outer defences of the Hindenburg Line, north of Bellenglise, in our possession.

In order to attain this object, an attack was launched on the morning of September 21st along the whole front of the III Corps, assisted on the right by the 1st Australian Division, which captured Ruby Wood, and gained a footing in Malakoff Wood, capturing 51 prisoners. At the same time the V Corps of the Third Army attacked the trench system running due south from Villers Guislain. On the front of the III Corps the 74th Division was given as its objective Quennemont Farm, Quennet Copse, and Gillemont Farm; the 18th Division was given The Knoll; the 12th Division Braeton Post and Little Priel Farm; and the 58th Division the trench systems round Dados Loop, north of Little Priel Farm. Four tanks of the 2nd Tank Battalion were detailed to assist the 74th Division, and seven tanks of the same battalion the 18th Division.

The assault was delivered at 5.40 a.m. under cover of a creeping barrage. Before "zero," the enemy's artillery fire was severe; it increased when our barrage fell at "zero," and remained heavy all day. The action which ensued lasted during the whole of September 21st and continued throughout that night with unabated violence until the early hours of September 22nd.

Spiritual Combat

Scripture Readers cannot do their work alone - they need the help of the Lord and the Lord's people if they are to prevail.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that support increases when it's needed, as we strive to honour the Lord and fulfil the Great Commission.

22/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Eighteen)

By daylight on the 22nd the 7-ith Division again held Cat Post; the 18th Division had secured Duncan and Doleful Posts; the 12th Division had captured Heythorp Post and Little Priel Farm; and the 58th Division Dados Loop. Some further progress was made later in the day, when Braeton Post was again captured. During the afternoon of the 22nd the enemy launched several counter-attacks; one against the 74th Division just south of Duncan Post, and another against the 18th Division in the vicinity of Doleful Post; these were driven off with heavy loss to the enemy. In the evening, following on the repulse of another counter-attack from the direction of Gillemont Farm, in which our artillery caused heavy losses to the attacking infantry, the 11th Royal Fusiliers of the 18th Division, taking advantage of the confusion amongst the retreating enemy, left its trenches in pursuit and captured a strong point with 80 prisoners near Duncan Post, which had been holding them up all day. Thus the bitter fighting of the past forty-eight hours had placed the III Corps in possession of a large part of the important positions which had been its objectives since September 18th.

On September 22nd the following orders for the British attack on the St. Quentin-Cambrai front were issued by General Headquarters
"The First Army will attack on 'Z' Day (September 27th) with a view to capturing the heights of Bourlon Wood in the first instance"

Orders Given

In the Armed Forces, orders are given and obeyed. When we are uncertain what we must do in our lives, we consult the Lord - in prayer and in His word. Are we obedient to his commands?

Items for Prayer - Please ask that we not obey begrudgingly, but that we delight to do His will.

23/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Nineteen)

During the next few days a number of small operations were undertaken by the 18th Division with a view to improving our line by capturing Tombois Farm and Egg Post, but without success. Further north the 12th Division, which had relieved the 58th Division on the night of September 23rd, was driven out of Dados Loop by a hostile counter-attack

Dealing With Setbacks

On occasion, we are refined by setbacks in our lives - the Lord disciplines those he loves.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that we deal graciously with these times, and not become downhearted.

24/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Twenty)

Although the enemy also made persistent efforts to regain the posts he had lost, the line remained practically unchanged till the III Corps was relieved by the Americans on the night of September 24th.

Be Still

In the blur of life and work, it's easy to assume we must always be doing, thinking, speaking. Sometimes, we must learn to be still and know that He is Lord.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that our workers know when to be silent. When to Be Still.

25/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Twenty-One)

By 10.30 a.m. The pressure maintained by the K Corps on the morning of September 25th, had been overcome, and the patrols were making good progress. Meanwhile, fighting was still in progress among the maze of trenches constituting the Quadrilateral, but by 6 p.m. the whole of it was in our hands, and Selency and Chateau Wood had also been secured. Although counter-attacked severely north of Gricourt during September 25th, the 1st Division retained all the ground it had gained on the 24th, and improved its position.

Improving Our Position

SASRA has a range of strategic partnerships with various organisations, and is always looking to develop relationships that can help us do the work better - if you feel you can help, please get in touch.
admin@sasra.org.uk or call us on 03000 301 302

Items for Prayer - Please pray that our good working relationships with the various organisations that help us with the work will continue to grow and improve.

26/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Twenty-Two)

During the night of September 26th the 30th American Division improved its position at certain points with a view to securing a better "starting line" Further north the general line of the Quennemont Farm-Gillemont Farm had been selected American Divisions on as the "starting line" of the 27th American Division. As, however, in spite of great self-sacrifice and gallantry, the troops of the III Corps had been unable to capture this line before being relieved, it devolved on the 27th American Division to secure it. In order to attain this object, the 27th American Division, assisted by one company of tanks of the 4th Mark V Tank Battalion, attacked at 5.30 a.m. on September 27th, under cover of a powerful artillery barrage.

etermined opposition was encountered from the 54th German Division, which had just relieved the 232nd Division, and a very involved situation supervened. Throughout the morning the fighting was most severe, as the enemy launched strong counter-attacks whenever any gain of ground was achieved by the Americans.

Self-Sacrifice

Working in full-time missionary work involves a good deal of self-sacrifice. Balancing the urgency and importance of the work with the needs of family is an ongoing struggle.

Items for Prayer - Please continue to pray for the marriages of our workers as they labour.

27/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Twenty-Three)

On September 26th and 27th the French and American Armies had attacked on both sides of the Argonne Allied Armies on other between the Meusc and the Suippe, and had taken parts of the front over 8,000 prisoners. The difficulties, however, of the country and the communications rendered further advance slow, and gave the enemy time partially to recover and reorganise. The Third and First British Armies had attacked on September 27th on a front of thirteen miles, between Gouzeaucourt and the Sensee river, had made excellent progress, and had taken 10,000 prisoners.

Communication Difficulties

An organisation like SASRA has many moving parts, and it is a serious challenge to keep them all working smoothly.

Items for Prayer - Please ask the Lord for reminders of the grace and patience we each need to deal with communication failures as and when they occur.

28/09/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to the Hindenburg Line (Day Twenty-Four)

Above: Extract from "The Day We Won the War" (Messenger, C.)

On September 28th the advance of these two armies was continued, and their troops established themselves on the east bank of the Canal de I'Escaut at Marcoing. The enemy, however, made most determined efforts to prevent the Third and First Armies from extending their bridgeheads on either side of Cambrai. The Canal de I'Escaut formed a very formidable obstacle and rendered a further advance most difficult. That this would be so had been fully realised by General Headquarters, and the attack of the Fourth Army on September 29th was intended to turn the flank of the enemy's defences on the Third and First Army fronts, and enable a general advance to be continued.

On September 28th the British, French, and Belgians, under the command of King Albert, had also attacked between the Lys and Dixmude and had met with complete success; transport difficulties, however, as in the case of the Americans and French, prevented a rapid advance after their initial victory.

The Fourth Army had now been fighting for 51 days, driving the enemy from position to position. During this period it had employed 19 divisions to defeat 41 German divisions. The enemy's losses in prisoners alone, since August 8th, September 28th amounted to 46,500, including 1,100 officers, while our casualties in killed, wounded, and missing had reached 72,000.

That the enemy intended to hold the Hindenburg Line to the utmost of his power and resources there was no reason to doubt; not a single trench rumour of a further retirement reached us from prisoners. It was estimated that our attack on the 29th would be opposed between Le Tronquoy and Vendhuile by seven divisions, and that this line could be reinforced within 72 hours by six more divisions from reserve.

The morale of the German troops, after their severe defeats, had undoubtedly much deteriorated and would continue to do so with every fresh retirement, but there still remained a considerable number of stout-hearted machine-gunners who could cause us much trouble, and there were certain regiments, and even divisions, that retained a good fighting spirit.

The morale of our own troops was continuing to rise every day with the consciousness of superiority over the enemy, and it was further increased by the arrival of the fresh British and American divisions which had reinforced the army since the 18th. We were undoubtedly face to face with a very strong position; but all ranks realised the far-reaching issues of the result of the forthcoming attack, and, as on August 8th, there existed in the army the will to conquer, and the confidence in victory, that foreshadow success.

Reassured of Final Victory

As we battle in our own lives with the forces of spiritual darkness, so we become increasingly aware that in our own strength we are insufficient to defeat the Enemy. Yet in Jesus Christ we know there is not just the strength we need to stand fast, but that in his death and life He won the final battle already.

Items for Prayer - Thank the Lord for His Son Jesus Christ, in whom the victory is won.

29/09/1918
ThenNow

The Storming of the Hindenburg Line

September 29th was perhaps the most trying day the tanks had experienced during all the battles in which they took part with the Fourth Army during the hundred days, but they earned the sincere gratitude of the infantry by their never-failing gallantry and self-sacrifice whenever they were called upon for assistance. Such high hopes had been held of a sweeping and decisive victory on September 29th, that the check received at the northern half of the tunnel defences was for the moment the cause of some disappointment. It was soon realised, however, that, although we had not achieved all that was desired and expected, we had, nevertheless, inflicted a crushing defeat on the enemy. We had forced a wedge into his defences to a depth of some 5,000 to 6,000 yards on a front of about 10,000 yards, which would render his position a very difficult one, and, if a little more pressure was exerted, the whole of the tunnel defences would shortly be in our possession.

After discussing the situation on the northern half of the front with Sir John Monash and General Read, Sir Henry Rawlinson decided to withdraw the II American Corps for a short rest, and to operations with the IX, Australian, and Xlli Corps on fronts of approximately equal widths, as soon as the situation on the tunnel had been cleared up by the Australian Corps, and the gap widened. On the evening of September 29th, therefore, orders were issued to the following effect: - The IX Corps was to secure the whole of the Le Tronquoy tunnel defences, with a view to allowing the XV French Corps to pass through as early as possible, to capture the high ground on the line Le Tronquoy-Sequehart-Preselles, and to push forward towards Joncourt, thereby assisting the advance of the Australian Corps. The Australian Corps was to endeavour to get into touch with the American troops who were believed to be in front of our main line, to capture Estrees and Folemprise Farm, and to secure the remainder of the Hindenburg Line as far as the northern entrance of the tunnel, and the Nauroy-Le Catelet Line as far as the southern outskirts of Gouy.

The II American Corps was to withdraw its troops to a position in rear, as soon as relieved by the Australians. The III Corps was to occupy Vendhuile, and to give as much artillery assistance as possible to the Australian Corps. The XIII and Cavalry Corps were to remain in reserve in the positions they then occupied until the situation developed. It was hoped to secure all these objectives within a short time, and to advance our line to within striking distance of the Masnieres-BeatirevoirFonsomme Line, which could then be broken by another organised attack on a wide front.

Co-ordination

We see here a number of different forces co-ordinating to good effect in common cause. Across the world, there are many SASRA supporters of all nations and nationalities who support our work either financially or in prayer.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for SASRA supporters, workers and ex-workers based abroad.

30/09/1918
ThenNow

The Capture of the Hindenburg Defences (Day One)

The night of September 29th was dark and cold, and the movement of the troops, and particularly that of the 9th Brigade, through the mud and without landmarks, was very trying. Notwithstanding this, the troops were assembled up to time on the morning of September 30th. At 6 a.m. the attack of the 3rd Australian Division began simultaneously with that of the 5th Australian Division. The 44th Battalion of the 11th Brigade led the advance behind a creeping barrage which moved northwards searching the trenches of the main Hindenburg Line. Progress was steady but slow, as movement except along the trenches was almost impossible. The Germans fought stubbornly for the possession of each post and machine-gun position, and hand grenades, Lewis guns, and especially the bayonet, were all freely employed during this reversion to trench warfare. By nightfall the 11th Brigade had cleared the trenches northwards for about 1,000 yards and had gained a footing in the outskirts of Bony.i During September 30th the 12th and 18th Divisions of the III Corps succeeded in driving the enemy across the canal at Vendhuile, and in clearing the village materially assisted the 10th Brigade of the 3rd Australian Division, which was thus able to advance eastwards on October 1st without further fear for its left flank.

Time for a rest

At the end of a long struggle, there must be a time to rest and reflect. Missionary work remains very challenging in any environment, and our Scripture Readers are prone to overworking.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that our Scripture Readers will have the wisdom to know when they must take a break.

Oct 1918
ThenNow

October

October 1918 was the last full month of hostilities as the Great War drew to a conclusion.

The German Army was slowly being pushed back by the combined might of British, American, French, Canadian and Australian forces.

Their final resistance was breaking.

October

All being well, this month will see ASR Steve Curley deployed to Colchester to begin his ministry to the serving personnel of 16 Air Assault Brigade.

Our Council will also convene this month, to discuss the plans for 2019.

01/10/1918
ThenNow

The Capture of the Hindenburg Defences (Day Two)

At 12 noon on October 1st Sir Thomas Morland, commanding the XIII Corps, took over command of the front held by the 18th Division from Sir Richard Butler, and the III Corps Headquarters were transferred to the Fifth Army on October 3rd.

Since March, the III Corps had been holding a sector of the Fourth Army front without a rest. During the months of April, May, June, and July it was busily engaged in supervising the construction of defences to cover Amiens. From August 8th onwards it had taken an important part in a period of almost continuous fighting, during which the III Corps with five divisions had engaged twenty German divisions, taking 13,700 prisoners and 150 guns. The outstanding feature of this period had undoubtedly been the powers of endurance of officers and men, and their cheerful response to the incessant demands made upon them.

Enduring

Modern life makes demands on each of us, intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual. Do we respond to our challenges as cheerfully as these officers and men responded to theirs?

Items for Prayer - Please ask that we be inspired by these stories of great courage, and the manner in which our forebears responded to the various demands made upon them.

02/10/1918
ThenNow

The Capture of the Hindenburg Defences (Day Three)

At 8.30 a.m. on the 2nd the 97th Brigade employed one company of the 10th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in an attempt to extend our hold on the Beaurevoir-Fonsomme Line north of Preselles,- while simultaneously the 96th Brigade launched an attack against Ramicourt. Both attacks were checked by the enemy's machine-gun fire.

The breach made in the Hindenburg defences on September 29th had now been considerably widened, and these defences had been captured from Le Tronquoy to Vendhuile, while to the south our advance had enabled the First French Army to occupy St. Quentin and reach the line of the canal. During this time the left of the Third Army had captured Masnieres, had secured the crossings over the canal between that village and the outskirts of Cambrai, and was continuing its attacks. The Canadian Corps also on the right of the First Army was making good progress north of Cambrai.

Our Scottish Brothers

The Scottish Regiments played an important role in the closing events of World War I, and today are served in their homeland by ASR David Murray and ASR Roddy Macleod.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for our workers based in Scotland.

ASR David Murray, who served with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders from 1972 to 1975.

03/10/1918
ThenNow

The Capture Of The Beaurevoir Line (Day One)

Although we had gained a tactical victory on October 3rd, we had not compelled the enemy to withdraw in front of the right of the Third Army as we had hoped to do. This could only be accomplished by the capture of Beaurevoir, and by extending the salient which we had already made in the enemy's line. The 2nd Australian Division, however, was too weak in numbers to renew the attack on the same frontage as on October 3rd, and it was, therefore, arranged that the XIII Corps should extend its front southwards to the Torrens Canal immediately north of La Motte Farm. This front was taken over that night by the 50th Division with the 7th Brigade, which had moved up from Ronssoy to Quennemont Farm during the afternoon of October 3rd, the 74th and 75th Brigades moving respectively up to Mont St. Martin and Ste. Emilie from Moislains and Nurlu. The 7th Australian Brigade, when relieved, moved back into reserve near Nauroy. Orders were issued on the evening of October 3rd for the attack to be continued on the 4th.

Tactical Victories

Sometimes we feel that our efforts have not resolved as they should, but we press on knowing that of our meagre efforts, the Lord can make a great deal more.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that the Lord will magnify the work of our hands.

04/10/1918
ThenNow

The Capture Of The Beaurevoir Line (Day Two)

The attack started at 6.10 a.m. under a barrage, in a dense fog which continued until a late hour in the morning and precluded all observation. The right of the 7th Brigade of the 25th Division reached the high ground west of Ponchaux and was in touch with the Australians, but it suffered heavily from fire from Beaurevoir and Ponchaux and was forced to withdraw. Although the left of the brigade made some progress towards Guisancourt Farm, it was checked in front of Beaurevoir. It became clear early in the afternoon that the 7th Brigade was not strong enough to complete its task alone, and Maj.-Gen. Charles began his preparations for renewing the attack next day with stronger forces.

Stronger Forces

When we proceed in our own strength, we often fail. But when we proceed in His strength, we will never fail. He is sovereign over all.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that when we encounter resistance, we would remember to turn to the Lord first, not last.

05/10/1918
ThenNow

The Capture Of The Beaurevoir Line (Day Three)

Time dims many recollections; but the work of the Australians, their individual intelligence, good comradeship, and bravery will always remain a vivid memory to those who had the honour and pleasure of working with them.

During these operations the work of the 5th Brigade, Royal Air Force, had been as brilliant as ever.

Much of it was achieved under bad weather conditions and in face of much stubborn opposition, The work of the Royal especially on October 4th and 5th, on which days unusually strong and aggressive German fighting formations were sent over the lines. During the week commencing September 29th, in addition to invaluable contact and artillery patrols, more than 1,500 offensive flights were carried out; 31 enemy aeroplanes were destroyed and 8 were driven down out of control, while 13 enemy observation balloons were brought down in flames; 3,300 bombs were dropped on hostile transport, billets, dumps, railway centres, and headquarters, and upwards of 200,000 machine-gun rounds were fired from the air.

The whole of this programme, which was carried on by day and night, was achieved with the loss of only 24 British machines.

Trust in the Lord

When we trust Him, the outcomes we can expect exceed all reasonable expectation - He honours our efforts and our sacrifices and multiplies them.

Items for Prayer - Pray that our spiritual victories will be many, and our losses few.

06/10/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to Le Cateau (Day One)

The Selle, on which Le Cateau is situated, was likely to prove the most serious obstacle later on.

It seemed from the map that it could be crossed without much difficulty anywhere from its source near Vaux Andigny as far as St. Benin; between the latter village and Solesmes, however, it appeared probable that a crossing could only be effected at the fords or by bridges. The river was the obvious line behind which the enemy would make his first determined stand and endeavour to reorganise his forces. On the southern flank of this position, and south of Vaux Andigny, there were two woods of considerable size, Riquerval Wood and Andigny Forest.

On receipt of the orders from General Headquarters on October 5th, Sir Henry Rawlinson issued his orders for the attack on October 8th.

The two days prior to the attack were occupied in completing the preparations, and only a few minor operations were carried out.

Gathering of Forces

Pray and plan, as they say. Before undertaking a significant endeavour, we should always commit our plans to the Lord.

Items for Prayer - Please commit the Association's plans for 2019 to the Lord.

07/10/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to Le Cateau (Day Two)

On October 7th the 117th Regiment of the 30th American Division made an advance of about 500 yards; in this operation the Americans captured 150 prisoners of the 20th German Division, which was engaged on the Fourth Army front for the first time. On the same day a strong counter-attack against the French in the Morcourt area gave the enemy possession of some ground, which he retained until the following day.

Meagre Gains

Let us not become downhearted when we seem to have only made meagre gains - the Lord knows his plans and His ways are not ours.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that we know to trust the Lord, when outcomes are not what we had hoped for.

08/10/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to Le Cateau (Day Three)

The attack was delivered with great vigour and met with immediate success. Some resistance at Ponchaux was quickly overcome, and the first objective was soon gained. The whippet tanks then pushed on towards the exploitation line, but most of them were put out of action by shell or anti-tank rifle fire; an attempt by the 2nd Cavalry Brigade to break through was also frustrated south-west of Maretz by hostile machine-gun fire.

The infantry, meanwhile, made rapid progress, and Serain was captured with the assistance of the 1st Tank Battalion. The exploitation line was reached at 11 a.m., except on the left where the advance of the 198th Brigade was enfiladed by field and machine-gun fire from Villers Outreaux, which was not captured by the V Corps until later. After the capture of this village the left flank of the XIII Corps also reached the line of exploitation without any difficulty.

SASRA Abroad

Here in 2018, ASR Gavin Dickson is working amongst the serving members of the British Armed Forces in Germany. He and his family represent the work of SASRA abroad and stand on foreign soil as our representatives.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for Gavin and his family - that they would know great blessing as they minister to British Forces Germany.

09/10/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to Le Cateau (Day Four)

Le Cateau itself, through which the Selle runs, was a provincial town of some 10,500 inhabitants and contained several large factories. The houses were solidly built, and deep cellars provided Le Cateau excellent shelter against bombardment. The railway embankment and cutting, east of the town, commanded all the exits and formed a natural position of exceptional strength. During the German occupation, the railway station had been largely used for the detrainment of troops, and numerous sidings had been constructed covering an area of some 200 yards wide and 500 yards in length. On the eastern side the yard was bounded by a bank 30 feet high, and the area was surrounded by goods sheds, factories, and other buildings strongly constructed and easily adaptable for defence.

There was a mound some 30 feet high, resembling the spoil heap of a coal mine, about fifty yards east of the bank which bounded the goods yard, from which an exceptional command to the south was obtainable. This mound was surrounded by trees, and was thus almost hidden by their foliage from observation from the western bank of the Selle.

Tactical Gains

There are many bases and stations in the UK where we wish we could place a Scripture Reader, but either due to financial constraint or lack of opportunity, cannot yet do so.

It is our aspiration to place an additional twenty Scripture Readers over the next decade or so.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that opportunity and resources would come together in the Lord's good time, so that our gospel workers are able to carry the Word "behind the wire" to a poorly-reached group in our society.

10/10/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to Le Cateau (Day Five)

Considerable progress had been made by the Fourth Army on the 10th, and numerous villages had been captured; with the exception of a few posts on the western bank the enemy had been driven across the Selle. The enemy's resistance, however, had been strong enough to prevent our troops from securing all their objectives, and corps were accordingly instructed to organise attacks with a view to securing those still uncaptured; in the case of the IX Corps this meant Andigny-les-Fermes, and in that of the II American and XIII Corps the high ground east of the Selle which covered the passages over the river.

On the night of 10 October 1918, as the Lincolns were fighting on the banks of the River Selle, Chaplain Hardy was caught in machine gun fire and wounded. He was taken to a hospital at Rouen and in spite of every care, died of his wounds on 18 October, two days before his 55th birthday. He was buried in the St. Sever Cemetery Extension at Rouen.

The Chaplaincy

The Chaplains of the British Army and RAF have served their country and our God with distinction over many years, and we are honoured to work alongside them.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for the Chaplains of the British Army and Royal Air Force, as they work alongside our Scripture Readers to bring the love of God to the serving personnel of the British Armed Forces.

11/10/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to Le Cateau (Day Six)

It was important to organise a general attack without any delay. On October 11th, therefore, the Commander-in-Chief, after a conference with the Army Commanders, issued orders for the offensive to be resumed on a large scale. The Fourth Army was to establish itself and, in co-operation with the First French Army, was to push forward strong advance guards to the line of the Sambre and Oise Canal. The Third Army was to establish itself on the line of the Selle and secure the passages across that river, while the First Army was to protect the left flank of the Third Army. The Cavalry Corps was to be again placed under the direct orders of General Headquarters, and was to be held in readiness to pursue vigorously in the general direction of Mons, should the enemy carry out a further retirement.

General Headquarters

Our HQ workers are responsible for engaging with supporters, Area Reps, Scripture Readers, our Council, the Chaplaincy, the MOD, The Charity Commission, our suppliers, the media, and the general Christian public. It is a wide-ranging portfolio of significant responsibilities.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that our HQ workers would be strengthened and supported as they serve Him.

12/10/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to Le Cateau (Day Seven)

Artillery was brought up as rapidly as the supply of ammunition permitted, and wire-cutting, counter-battery work, and the bombardment of important localities were carried on from the 12th onwards.

All the enemy's communications, roads, and approaches were searched by artillery fire, while 6-inch guns, placed well forward, shelled the crossings over the Sambre and Oise Canal, the approaches to the canal at Oisy, Catillon, and Landrecies, and the approaches to others of the more important villages.

Confounding The Enemy

As the Christian faith continues to be marginalised by our society, we look not just to defend our faith robustly, but to seek out and challenge the Enemy in his strongholds, that in the Lord's strength we might confound him.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that when our workers encounter resistance they are able to provide a word in season to those that oppose them.

13/10/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to Le Cateau (Day Eight)

A German map was captured on October 13th, which indicated that the enemy had intended to construct certain lines of defence, on to which he was to have retired on October 18th. These positions were called Hermann Stellung I and II. Hermann Stcllung I was to have consisted of a line east of the Selle from St. Souplet to Le Catcau; Hermann Stellung II was to have been constructed east of the Sambre and Oise Canal. A continuation of these lines, north of Le Cateau, was shown on a similar map captured by the Third Army about the same date.

Enemy Intelligence

In 2018, maps are not needed to show us the Enemy's plans - we can see them in the news every day.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that those who work in the British media would come to know the Lord, and to honour him by speaking the truth about this world and its superficial nature.

14/10/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to Le Cateau (Day Nine)

Certain difficulties faced the IX Corps with regard to its arrangements for the attack on the Bellevue spur.

This spur ran in a north-easterly The readjustment of direction from Andigny-les-Fermes towards Bellevue Farm. The confirmation of the ground made it inadvisable to attack this spur from the west, and Sir Walter Braithwaite decided to do so from the north-west.

This necessitated a rearrangement of the boundary between the IX Corps and the II American Corps, in order to provide depth for the attacking troops to form up in.

On the night of October 14th, therefore, the IX Corps took over the village of Vaux-Andigny from the II American Corps, thus extending its front by 1,200 yards. On the XIII Corps front careful and repeated reconnaissance of the Selle south of Le Cateau disclosed the fact that, owing to recent heavy rains, combined with the damming of the stream by the enemy at St. Crepin, St. Benin, and at the southern exit of Le Cateau, the flooded area was rapidly extending, and the river itself was increasing considerably in depth. It was found that at no place on the front of the 50th Division was a crossing practicable without elaborate bridging operations, which would have had to be undertaken under close range machine-gun fire from the opposite bank.

Further south, however, in the neighbourhood of St. Souplet the stream was much narrower, and on the front of the II American Corps presented no serious obstacle.

Opportunities for Progress

SASRA is constantly looking for ways to develop new relationships and establish new ways to share news of our work, so that more Christians become aware of what we do.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that the new initiatives that we devise are pleasing to the Lord, and that He will let us know clearly when we've got it wrong.

15/10/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to Le Cateau (Day Ten)

The fine weather on October 14th had been taken full advantage of, and air reconnaissance had shown that big changes in the organisation of the rear areas had taken place, which foreshadowed a further retirement.

A score of new aerodromes had sprung up, the chief groups being those north of Bavai and Maubeuge. A number of hospitals had been erected at Maubeuge and near the important railway junction of Aulnoye. Moreover, a number of footbridges had been thrown over the Sambre and Oise Canal, on which all barge traffic south of Landrecies had ceased.

The enemy's power of resistance was not expected to be great. The pause of six days had undoubtedly given him a short breathing space in which to make some re-organisation in his order of battle. Owing, however, to the distance which separated the forces and to the presence of the Selle between the opposing lines, it had been difficult to secure prisoners, and information, therefore, as to the number of divisions which were likely to oppose us on the 17th, was incomplete.
It was estimated that we should be confronted by four comparatively fresh divisions and two exhausted ones. It was known that the Alpine Corps had been sent to Serbia, owing to the unconditional surrender of Bulgaria and the advance of the Allies in Macedonia, and that on the whole of the Western Front the Germans only had six fresh divisions at their disposal to meet all eventualities. It was probable, therefore, that the Second and Eighteenth Armies opposed to us would have to rely on their own resources for reserves; this meant twelve exhausted divisions of which only one had had any real rest.

The RAF

Although we are well-represented on the Council, with a number of serving and retired RAF personnel, we remain under-represented in the stations across the UK, with a solitary Airforce Scripture Reader on the ground at RAF Brize Norton - ASR Meg Atkinson MBE.

Items for Prayer - We remain particularly keen for new RAF Scripture Readers. Please pray that the Lord would bring good candidates forward.

16/10/1918
ThenNow

The Advance to Le Cateau (Day Eleven)

By the 16th, on the eve of the Battle of the Selle, all arrangement had been completed. Energetic patrolling had furnished us with full information as regards the state of the enemy's defences, and the result of the preliminary bombardment had been reported as most effective. The morale of our troops had never been higher. They had, during the attacks of October 8th and 9th, seen the enemy in full flight and they knew that there were no more prepared defence lines to be overcome. Every day brought fresh news of the German retreat both in the Laon and Lens areas, and optimists were not lacking who prophesied that the war might end before Christmas.

The End In Sight

The optimists in the ranks here were proved right - the war was indeed over by Christmas. Indeed at this point the end was mere weeks away.

Items for Prayer - We cannot know the day nor hour, but please pray for the friends and loved ones of SASRA workers who don't yet know the Lord, for time may be short.

17/10/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of the Selle (Day One)

The first battalion to cross the river was the 4th King's Royal Rifle Corps; it was closely followed by the 1st King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and the 6th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

The attacking troops soon encountered strong opposition, both from the line of the railway and from the slope of the ridge east of the river. At 8.45 a.m. the 4th King's Royal Rifle Corps, with two companies of the 1st King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry had advanced no further than the western slopes of the spur immediately east of St. Crepin and the railway; at the same hour the other two companies of the 1st King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry were fighting in the orchards on the top of the ridge due east of St. Benin. Further north the 6th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, which had turned north to roll up the enemy's line, was meeting with strong opposition from the station buildings.

SASRA Northern Ireland

The 6th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers has merged many times and their Regt HQ is now found at Holyrood in the form of the Royal Irish Regiment.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for our men in Northern Ireland as they minister to the British Forces there.

18/10/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of the Selle (Day Two)

The opposition offered by the enemy throughout the day was considerably less than on the 17th, although our infantry had no tanks to assist them. This was due, no doubt, to the heavy losses he had sustained, and to the disorganisation of his units.

By the evening of October 18th the IX Corps had captured the objectives allotted to it in the face of weakening opposition, and was preparing to exploit its successes on the following morning.

When the Lord is with us...

In the spiritual battle, there are no tanks and no need of them. For when the Lord is with us, who can be against us?

Items for Prayer - Please pray for protection for our workers - that they would be kept physically safe as they work.

19/10/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of the Selle (Day Three)

The Battle of the Selle may be said to have terminated on the evening of October 19th, by which date the enemy had been driven by the First French Army and the Fourth Army across the Sambre between Tupigny and Rejet de Beaulieu. On the Fourth Army front this represented an advance of 9,000 yards on a front of over seven miles. This success had been achieved in the face of strong opposition, and in spite of the appeals of the German High Command to its troops to prevent our passage of the Selle at all costs.

Between the morning of the 17th and the evening of October 19th, 5,139 prisoners, including 143 officers, and 60 guns were captured. The prisoners represented fourteen different divisions, eleven of which were fully engaged against the Fourth Army. Furthermore, our advance had brought the important railway junction of Aulnoye, which was only fourteen miles from Le Cateau, dangerously near the limit of our long-range guns.

The southern flank of the enemy was, however, safe for the moment behind the Sambre and Oise Canal, and the centre of interest was for the time being transferred to the northern flank of the army.

Strong Opposition

When working in full-time ministry, the opposition can sometimes be fierce. Our workers encounter the full range of challenging life circumstances and the Enemy seeks to magnify these difficulties when he can.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that our workers would remain under the protection of the Lord of Hosts.

20/10/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of the Selle (Aftermath)

As the Fourth Army was now covered along a considerable portion of its front by the Sambre and Oise Canal, it became possible to withdraw more troops into reserve. Orders were, therefore, issued for the II American Corps, which had been considerably weakened during the last three days' fighting, to be withdrawn to rest, its front being taken over by the IX Corps.

On relief, the II American Corps went into reserve near Amiens to rest and refit. Since the end of September it had taken a very prominent and successful part in the operations of the Fourth Army. Its losses had been severe, but the spirit and keenness of all ranks had been maintained to the end, and it had thoroughly earned the praise it received from Sir Douglas Haig and Sir Henry Rawlinson.

Strong Allies

SASRA supporters are not just found in the UK - some of our most ardent supporters are based abroad, and their financial and prayer support has proved invaluable over the years.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for our supporters overseas, that they would be an effective witness for the Lord wherever they find themselves.

21/10/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of the Selle (Aftermath)

By October 21st the necessary reliefs were completed.

The country, over which the advance had taken place since passing the St. Quentin Canal, was open, rolling down conspicuously devoid of cover, except for the villages and occasional woods, but, after crossing the Selle, the character of the country entirely changed. East of the Selle the slopes became more abrupt, small streams ran in the valleys, and there were large tracts of woodland. The pasture land between these tracts was cut up into innumerable small enclosures bounded by high, thick hedges, which, while constituting a serious obstacle to an infantry advance, at the same time afforded it excellent cover from view except at short ranges.

Good Cover

Physical cover is valuable in warfare, but prayer cover is vital to gospel work. Without the prayer cover provided by SASRA supporters, the work would falter.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for prayer! That SASRA supporters like you would be moved to pray for our work and give us the cover we need to advance the Lord's work.

22/10/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of the Selle (Aftermath)

As the moon was full on the night of October 22nd, it was considered that it would be an advantage to launch the attack during the night instead of at dawn, as had been the custom hitherto, so that the unexpectedness of the hour would take the enemy by surprise. "Zero" for the Fourth Army was, therefore, fixed for 1.20 a.m., and, in order to synchronise the advance on the flanks of the V and XIII Corps, the V Corps agreed to start its troops at forty minutes after "zero", by which time the left of the XIII Corps would be up in line with them.

Sir Walter Braithwaite's plan was to attack with two divisions in line, the 1st Division on the right, and the 6th Division on the left.

The Power of the Unexpected

The Lord regularly provides us with unexpected opportunities, and unexpected financial gifts. He is endlessly loyal to His people.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that we would be bold enough to seize the unexpected opportunities when they present themselves.

23/10/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of the Selle (Aftermath)

The troops of the XIII Corps, after a very well organised night march, reached their assembly positions without a hitch. At 1.20 a.m. the attack started in bright moonlight. Considerable opposition experienced from the mills and farms along the banks of the Richemont River, but this was gradually overcome, the garrisons being killed or taken prisoner. Unfortunately several machine-gun posts were passed by unnoticed by the leading troops, and these gave trouble to the troops detailed for the attack on the more distant objectives as they moved forward.

Leaving No Enemy Alone

We face a great many obstacles as we pursue gospel work, and sometimes we encounter problems that seem too difficult to solve - the temptation is to leave them and move on.

On this day in 1918, that proved costly.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that we would never turn our backs on a challenge because we doubt that WE can handle it. In all our lives, please pray that we would turn to the Lord when first we encounter such challenges.

24/10/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of the Selle (Aftermath)

The 18th Division met with considerable difficulties.

No tanks were available for the operation, and the 55th and 54th Brigades, which carried out the attack, were not able to keep up with the barrage on account of the enclosed and thickly-hedged country through which they had to pass. Along the whole front the enemy opposed our advance with great tenacity, and, in the wired defences amidst the hedges and orchards between Bousies and Robersart, the fighting was exceptionally strenuous and the advance slow.

North-west of Robersart our troops were checked by five hostile machine-guns posted on the ridge on which stands Renuart Farm. Lieut. William Hedges of the 6th Northamptonshire promptly proceeded up the hill under cover, accompanied by a sergeant, and followed at some considerable distance by a Lewis gun section. Having gone as far as he could under cover, Lieut. Hedges dashed forward, killed the first enemy machine-gunner, and took two others prisoner. He then worked his way along the crest of the hill and served three other machine-gun posts in the same fashion.

This dashing exploit broke down the enemy's resistance at this point and enabled our line to go forward. Ultimately, after dogged fighting, our men pushed into Robersart, which was cleared by the end of the day.

Just One Faithful Servant...

On this day in 1918, a single man encountered great threats and overcame them all, to the benefit of his men and his country. We cannot know how many lives Lieut. Hedges saved that day, nor how many of his men came home safely that might otherwise have died.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for all our Scripture Readers and Area Representatives, who work long hours and travel many miles in the course of their duties, and perhaps will not see the fruit of their work in this life.

25/10/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of the Selle (Aftermath)

After the fighting of the 23rd and 24th there was a lull, during which the troops were rested and reorganised, while preparations were at once begun for a resumption of the offensive. Infantry action until the end of the month was confined chiefly to active patrolling.

Patrolling

A Scripture Reader is not always involved in gospel conversation - a great many hours is spent building relationships with the serving personnel by spending time with them as they work, and rest.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that our Scripture Readers know when to speak of their faith, and when to instead merely spend time with those they serve.

26/10/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of the Selle (Aftermath)

Across the British front the advance stopped, troops were exhausted and supplies outrun. They rested, resupplied and got their breath back. For the Germans, the resolute looked to improve their defences, they were a significant minority. Most German soldiers by this time wanted the war to end so they could go home. They were beaten and further fighting was futile.

Meanwhile at Governmental level the German request for an armistice was being discussed. Initially seeking a separate peace with the USA, which was rejected by President Wilson. Reality was gradually dawning on the German hierarchy.

The Allied Soldiers fought long and hard to give the Politicians the opportunity to end the war, earlier than expected. Most of them were unaware of what was happening behind the scenes. Working for the common goal of Peace.

Seen and not seen

When Scripture Readers speak to individuals it can be seen. In the background the Holy Spirit is at work, convicting of sin, convincing and converting. So that the Peace that passes understanding can be received.

Items for Prayer - Pray that the Scripture Readers have the assurance of the Holy Spirit going before them, their invisible partner in the work.

27/10/1918
ThenNow

Capt. (A./Major) William George Barker DSO MC VC

Pictured: Major William George Barker, VC DSO MC* and Bar, and his Sopwith Camel F.1, B.6316. The airplane is carrying the markings of No. 139 Squadron, which Barker commanded from July to October 1918. (Library and Archives Canada)

On the morning of 27th October, 1918, this officer observed an enemy two-seater over Fôret de Mormal.

He attacked this machine, and after a short burst it broke up in the air. At the same time a Fokker biplane attacked him, and he was wounded in the right thigh, but managed despite this, to shoot down the enemy aeroplane in flames.

He then found himself in the middle of a large formation of Fokkers, who attacked him from all directions; and was again severely wounded in the left thigh, but succeeded in driving down two of the enemy in a spin.

He lost consciousness after this, and his machine fell out of control. On recovery he found himself being again attacked heavily by a large formation, and singling out one machine, he deliberately charged and drove it down in flames.

During this fight his left elbow was shattered and he again fainted - on regaining consciousness he found himself still being attacked, but, notwithstanding that he was now severely wounded in both legs and his left arm shattered, he dived on the nearest machine and shot it down in flames.

Being greatly exhausted, he dived out of the fight to regain our lines, but was met with another formation, which attacked and endeavoured to cut him off, but after a hard fight he succeeded in breaking up this formation and reached our lines, where he crashed on landing.

This combat, in which Major Barker destroyed four enemy machines (three of them in flames), brought his total successes up to fifty enemy machines destroyed, and is a notable example of the exceptional bravery and disregard of danger which this very gallant officer has always displayed throughout his distinguished career.

RAF Opportunities

The fast jets at Lossiemouth in Scotland and Coningsby in Lincolnshire are where those who inherited the legacy of Maj Barker are based. SASRA continues to hope for opportunities to minister to the service personnel based there.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that the Lord will create an opportunity at Lossiemouth and Coningbsy, so that those who routinely face dangerous duty can be assured of hearing the gospel.

28/10/1918
ThenNow

The Birth of Czechoslovakia

As the war drew to a close, new nations emerged. One such was Czechoslovakia, which came into being on this day.

US President Woodrow Wilson had specifically recognised that the new Provisional Government had the right to negotiate its own terms with Austria-Hungary.

Thus it was that on 28 October, 1918, the Central Committee in Prague issued a formal declaration of the fact of independence. The declaration was five articles long, and it began with, "The independent Czechoslovak state has come into being..."

New Beginnings

ASR Steve Curley is expected to begin work at Colchester in October 2018 - fresh from training at EMF we hope he receives a warm welcome at 16 Air Assault Bgde.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that ASR Curley and his family settle well in the area.

29/10/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of the Selle (Aftermath)

On October 29th the 1st Division established itself along the western bank of the Sambre and Oise Canal from Oisy to the south of Catillon.

North and south of the Fourth Army the experiences of the enemy had been no more encouraging for him.

In Flanders, by the end of October, the enemy had been forced back to the line of the south of the Fourth Scheldt, and the Third and First Armies had advanced Army to the north and east of the Le Quesnoy-Valenciennes railway. To the south the French had made good progress, had crossed the Serre and Peron rivers, and had reached the southern bank of the Oise near Guise. In front of the Fourth Army the enemy was now making a stand on the line of the Sambre and Oise Canal and along the western edge of the Mormal Forest.

His troops, however, were depressed by continuous defeat and exhausted by incessant fighting, while the morale of our own men was magnificent.

The Morale of our Men

It is a joy and a privilege to work at SASRA, and every worker is strongly mindful of the long legacy and vital work that is done. There is no more valuable work that can be done on this Earth than sharing the gospel with those yet unsaved.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that the word shared today with the serving members of the British Armed Forces will find its place in the hearts of those that hear it.

30/10/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of the Selle (Aftermath)

One fresh, and five fairly fresh German divisions were transferred to other parts of the front from in front of the Fourth Army, and the 221st Division, which had been engaged three times by the Fourth Army, was now disbanded. Hence the enemy's reserves on the Fourth Army front were reduced by seven divisions.

Repeat Engagements

Our Scripture Readers sometimes only have a few short weeks or months to build relationships with the serving soldiers or air force personnel, but the relationships with the staff that work semi-permanently at bases and stations can sometimes endure for much longer.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for good relationships with Chaplains, Commanding Officers and other members of full-time staff at the bases and stations where Scripture Readers minister.

31/10/1918
ThenNow

The Battle of the Selle (Aftermath)

At the end of October it was estimated that the Fourth Army was opposed by the equivalent of seven divisions, together with portions both of the Cychst Brigade and the Jager Division; all these divisions, however, were believed to be exhausted and were supported only by three other equally exhausted divisions. It was believed that in the back areas the enemy had thirteen divisions at his disposal, of which the large majority had been recently withdrawn from the fighting and had suffered heavy casualties.
On the whole of the western front, there was only one German division which had been resting for one month.
Whatever might be his ultimate intentions, it was essential for the enemy to maintain the line of the Sambre and Oise Canal as long as possible, and the importance of denying the passage of the canal to our troops was impressed by him on all ranks of his army. At the same time, aeroplane reconnaissance made it clear that the Germans were removing aerodromes and destroying railways, and making preparations for a further retirement. If the passage of the Sambre and Oise Canal could be forced before their preparations for an orderly retirement could be completed, they must inevitably suffer disaster.

Striking While the Iron is Hot

Opportunities to share the gospel are sometimes fleeting - a single conversation may represent the sole occasion a serving member ever has to hear the Word.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for boldness - that our Scripture Readers would acknowledge the prompting of the Holy Spirit as they should.

Nov 1918
ThenNow

November

By the end of October the defeat of Germany appeared inevitable. In a long series of almost continuous battles her armies had been defeated with heavy losses in men and material, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for the German High Command to withdraw the troops in good order.

Menaced by overwhelming defeat, German soldiers were no longer available to assist their Allies in other theatres of war; Turkey and Bulgaria had surrendered to the Allies, while Austria, bankrupt of leaders, plan, and organisation, was incapable of carrying on the war.

Within Germany itself the soaring hopes, aroused by the brilliant start of the March offensive, had given place to profound depression, as each week recorded a fresh withdrawal of the German forces. Internal conditions had grown desperate, and dreams of victory had given place to a sense of the complete futility of prosecuting a profitless war. The leaders of the nation were no longer trusted, and social agitators were given a sympathetic hearing.

Thus, while each military disaster made it difficult for the German leaders to control the army, it was still more difficult to control the forces within Germany itself. Complete disaster could only be averted if the defeated armies could be withdrawn behind a line capable of checking the Allies during the winter months. Then it might be possible for Germany to bargain with the Allies, and arrange an armistice, the terms of which would allow her a voice in the settlement on more or less equal terms. It was, however, within the power of the Allied forces to shatter this last hope, if full use was made by Marshal Foch and Sir Douglas Haig of the enormous moral and strategic advantages which they had gained.

An immediate attack upon the enemy's centre, the vital part of his line upon which depended the safety of his communications in the north and south, would anticipate his contemplated and inevitable withdrawal, and, if successful, would convert that withdrawal into a rout.

With this object orders were issued by Sir Douglas Haig on October 29th for the Fourth. Third, and First Armies to carry out a concerted attack in the general direction of Maubeuge and Mons, while on the right, the First French would co-operate by pushing forward in the direction of La Capelle.

November

November will be a busy month for SASRA, as we look towards 2019 and try to anticipate what the year will bring.

We will be perhaps looking to recruit, train and deploy new Scripture Readers starting in March 2019, and the planning for our Workers Conference in May 2019 will begin here too.

This is a time to take stock and reflect on what the Lord has done for us in 2018, and to prayerfully consider what we might attempt for His glory over the coming year.

01/11/1918
ThenNow

The Final Phase

Before making any attempt to force the passage of the Sambre and Oise Canal it was necessary to secure complete control of all ground on its western bank. The chief points of tactical importance still held by the enemy west of the canal were Catillon, Le Donjon, Ors, and the Happegarbes spur south-west of Landrecies.

Vigorous patrolling was therefore carried out by the IX Corps on November 1st, and by November 2nd the village of Ors and the whole western bank, from Ors to the elbow in the canal further north, had been cleared of the enemy.

Further south, the enemy still retained Catillon and the circular strong point known as Le Donjon.

Strong Points

What are the strong points of our Christian lives? Our prayer lives, and our roots in the Word. Making sure that we set aside time in busy lives to spend time with the Lord in person and in His Word will result in strong points in our faith.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that our workers are moved to spend sufficient time in the Word and in prayer.

02/11/1918
ThenNow

The Final Phase

The provision of means for crossing the canal offered great scope for ingenuity, industry, and organisation. There was none too much time to complete the preparations, and the engineers divisions and corps vied with each other in producing various patterns of light strong bridges for the passage of infantry and more substantial ones for guns and transport.

Various Patterns

As we consider the many ways to deliver the gospel to the modern military, we must be constantly thinking about how best to do that - a century ago Scripture readers read Scripture because they were literate and their charges were not. Today, it's helpful for a modern Scripture Reader to be technologically-literate too.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that we deliver the right training so that modern Scripture Readers can engage with the modern military well.

03/11/1918
ThenNow

The Final Phase

In the instructions issued to the IX and XIII Corps Sir Henry Rawlinson laid down two main objectives to be secured. The first, or red line, extended approximately due north and south-east of Fesmy to east of Landrecies, and thence northwards through the Mormal Forest about 3,000 yards from its western edge.

The attainment of this objective would in the south carry the attacking troops well beyond the canal, and would enable the engineers to repair or erect bridges across it without fear of interference, thus facilitating the forward communications.

The second objective, or line of exploitation, ran east of Cartignies, Dompierre, and St. Remy Chaussee. This was some three miles short of the general objective defined by the Commander-in-Chief, namely the Avesnes-Maubeuge road, and was considered to be the limit of penetration that could be reached before a halt would be necessary in order to reorganise and complete the communications.

Forward Communications

Our Scripture Readers need good relationships and communications with those with whom they work - the Chaplaincy, the Chain-of-Command, and their colleagues at HQ. We all need these good communications with those with whom we worship too - the person in the pew next to us and our church leaders.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that we would aspire to meaningful relationships with those around us - our "neighbours". Please also pray for ASR Kevin Wadsworth.

04/11/1918
ThenNow

The Final Phase

Operations continued, the enemy High Command were to be given no opportunity to consolidate their defences. On the back foot, only able to react to allied advances. Despite that the Germans were no push over. Assisted in defence by canals, streams and water-logged land, they were confident they could stop the advance. So that in Armistice negotiations they were on equal terms with the Allies. They were overwhelmed. Detailed plans had been formulated, involving Engineer, Artillery and Armoured support of the Infantry. Ordered to hold indefinitely the German line ceased to exist by lunch time.

On this date, the Rev George Jones lost his life - the only RAF Chaplain to do so during the 100 Days Offensive.

Our Allies

The success of 4th Army's operations in such a hostile environment were dependent on troops trained to co-operate with the other elements. It was what is now called an All Arms Battle. Working together they achieved what could not be done individually.

SASRA cannot achieve its goals acting independently. Working with other agencies, such as the Soldiers' Homes and NMAFBS. Working within the framework of its Memorandum of Understanding with the MoD and with the Chaplains. Backed by the prayers and gifts of our Supporters.

Items for Prayer - Remember our Allies, as we work to the common goal of sharing the Good News and winning Souls for Christ.

05/11/1918
ThenNow

The Final Phase

After the successful attack on the 4th the troops advanced and the Germans retreated. It would, for a few more days be routine. Rearguards, defending a retreating Army, but unable to stop an advancing victorious one. The cost in lives was high on both sides. Day by day the soldiers did their duty.

For the soldiers it was hard, they sensed the end was not far away but it was not something to dwell on. There was no guarantee they would survive the next few days. It had to be done and they did it day by excruciating day.

Spiritual Stamina

Scripture Readers visit their units day by day. Telling and re-telling the Good News of Jesus Christ. Meeting apathy, lack of interest, sometimes hostility. All for the one who comes to Christ. They do it day by day so none can say "I never heard" and to Glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

Items for Prayer - Pray for the Scripture Readers, that they have the spiritual stamina to go on and on.

06/11/1918
ThenNow

The Final Phase

On the morning of the 6th, owing to the difficulties of communication which were much increased by the enemy's systematic destruction of roads and bridges, it was impossible to renew the advance until 9.30 a.m.

There was practically no fighting throughout the day ; the 20th Hussars keeping in touch with the retreating enemy, while the advanced guards of the 46th and 32nd Divisions followed along the roads. Towards evening the 46th Division entered Cartignies and established an outpost line on the Petite Helpe.

The 32nd Division cleared Grand Fayt before noon, but found the Petite Helpe a difficult obstacle. Two companies of the 10th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, however, crossed by a bridge erected by the 25th Division at Maroilles and worked southwards. In the meantime, the main body of the 97th Brigade forced its way across the river at the lock at Grand Fayt in spite of hostile machine-gun fire, and by 5 p.m. its leading infantry had passed through Le Foyaux and established an outpost line astride the ridge some distance further east. The IX Corps had thus gained the exploitation line, laid down by Sir Henry Rawlinson in his orders for the attack of November 4th, and was in touch with the First French Army on the right south of Cartignies, and with the XIII Corps on the left at the cross roads 1,500 yards east of Marbaix.

Establishing Outposts

As we deploy Scripture Readers into new bases and stations, we hope that they will establish an outpost for us and make future deployments there a routine operation - by November 2018 ASR Paul Curd will have been at Chepstow for almost a year.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for Paul and Karen Curd as they settle into life in Chepstow and Paul's ministry continues with the Rifles there.

07/11/1918
ThenNow

The Final Phase

The 25th and 50th Divisions resumed the advance at 8 a.m. on November 7th. One and a-half hours later the vanguard of the 25th Division passed through Les Ardennes, with cavalry patrols at Hilaire-sur-Helpe where they encountered some fire from machine-guns along the Avesnes-Marbaix road; the 50th Division at this time was approaching St. Aubin.

Throughout the remainder of November 7th considerable fighting took place. The numerous sunken roads, copses, and hedgerows concealed the enemy's machine-guns which covered the withdrawal of his rearguards. Slowly but surely, however, each centre of resistance was located and dealt with in turn.

Particularly severe was the fighting in the 50th Division area in the village of Dourlers, which was captured by the 6th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers supported by the 1st King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

No Surrender

Even at this late stage of the war, we can see here the enemy continuing to fight to the last. We can be assured that while our Enemy may flee, he will never surrender. We must remain dedicated to resisting him until his final defeat.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that we will all remain vigilant in our lives, and commit our struggles to the Lord.

08/11/1918
ThenNow

The Final Phase

On the evening of November 8th infantry patrols along the whole army front reported that touch with the enemy's rearguards had been lost.

Accordingly, at dawn on the 9th, the cavalry - Royal Scots Greys, 20th Hussars, and 12th Lancers - moved forward and gained touch with them at Sivry and along the Thure. They were supported by infantry, which reached Sains-du-Nord, Semeries, Felleries, Solre-le-Chateau, and Solrinnes.

The dominant factor that decided the rate at which the pursuit of the enemy could be carried out was the question of supply. The main railway line between St. Quentin and Busigny had been reconstructed, but the periodic explosions of delay action mines made it necessary frequently to use railheads further back, such as Vermand, Bellicoiirt, and Montigny Farm. From these railheads supplies and ammunition had to be carried up by motor transport. The long distances involved, and the gradual breakdown of the roads as the weather became worse and the traffic grew heavier, threw an enormous strain on the motor transport. In several cases lorries were on the road for seventy-two consecutive hours, and it was difficult for the workshops to cope with the abnormal work of repair rendered necessary by the constant wear and tear and the bad condition of the roads.

Remaining In Conflict

Where are we in conflict with the enemy in our lives? It is said that "if you are taking flak, it is because you are over the target" Are we "over the target", or are our lives free of such conflict? If we are too comfortable, it may be a sign we have "lost contact with the enemy"

Items for Prayer - Please pray that our Scripture Readers will encounter resistance and conflict, and the Lord will supply the grace required to overcome.

09/11/1918
ThenNow

The Final Phase

On November 9th Sir Henry Rawlinson decided that the main bodies of corps should be distributed in depth on and west of the main La Capelle-Avesnes-Maubeuge road, with an outpost line east of it. The enemy was in full retreat and no longer had the heart, or the power, to put up a strong resistance ; only a comparatively small force was, therefore, necessary to keep in touch with him.

Comparatively Small Forces

We work on the basis that one Scripture Reader is required for every four thousand serving personnel - at current strength of the British Army and RAF this would mean we need thirty Scripture Readers to be at full-strength. We currently have eleven.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that the resources and opportunities are forthcoming for us to return to full-strength.

10/11/1918
ThenNow

The Final Phase

A mobile force was organised, chiefly from the 66th Division, and was placed under the command of Maj.-Gen. H. K. Bethell This force moved forward on the morning of November 10th and found the enemy in strength around Sivry and Hestrud.

In accordance with orders received from Army Headquarters, the attack was not pressed home, and at night Bethell's Force occupied a line which ran approximately north and south through Sivry and Hestrud.

Next morning some ground was gained by our troops before the cessation of hostilities. The enemy held out stubbornly in the vicinity of Hestrud, but the 20th Hussars were gradually working their way through Sivry. Just before 11 a.m. the enemy launched a small counter-attack against our troops who were forcing him back out of Grandrieu, but its only result was to add six more to the total of Germans killed during the war.

The Day Before the End

Here we read of six men killed the day before the war ended. We cannot know when this world will end, nor when individual lives will end, but we know that the serving personnel of the British Armed Forces routinely face danger.

Items for Prayer - Please pray that those in danger are kept safe, and that the Lord would guide them to a Scripture Reader so that they can encounter the good news of Jesus.

11/11/1918
ThenNow

The Armistice

The troops had been warned about 7 a.m. that hostilities were to cease at 11 a.m. The firing, however, which had been heavy all the morning continued until three minutes to 11 a.m., when it ceased for a short period and then broke out in a final crash at 11 a.m.

Then all was silence.

Combatants from both sides emerged from cover and walked about in full view. No further act of hostility took place, nor was there any attempt at interaction on either side.

In the Museum of Army Chaplaincy collection we find the words of the Rev F J Cheverton:

"Peace!!!!
News came that armistice signed. Probably the greatest day of history for war cannot be resumed.

Visited men and found them all so well pleased that the end of the war had come.

We cannot yet fully realise that the horrors of war have passed."


So ends the story of the Fourth Army in its last campaign of the Great War. Between August 8th and November 11th it engaged and defeated 67 German Divisions, and this was accomplished by 24 British, Australian, Canadian, and American Divisions. During this period 79,743 prisoners, including 1,848 officers, and 1,108 guns were captured, while the losses of the Fourth Army were 122,427 killed, wounded, and missing. This is probably a unique record, when it is remembered that no account is taken in these figures of the very large number of Germans who were killed and wounded.

Special mention must go to the 28 Army, 1 RAF and 2 YMCA Chaplains who were killed in action (or lost their lives through illness contracted ministering to the sick and wounded) during the 100 Days Offensive.

Of these 31 men, whose average age was just under 35, one was mentioned in dispatches, one was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, six were awarded the Military Cross, and one (Ted Hardy d. October 18th )was awarded the Victoria Cross, the oldest of the three Chaplains to receive this distinction during the Great War. He was initially rejected for service, having attempted to sign up aged 51 three years before.

Peace

We know that the war is won.

We know that one day all will bow the knee and acknowledge that Christ is Lord.

We know that one day no further acts of hostility will take place.

Items for Prayer - Please pray for all who work for SASRA, that they may run the good race and serve each day not as for men, but for the Lord.

END

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