Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, 17th May:
At 0300 hrs. on the 17th May the Battalion received orders to withdraw across country to Halle (Belgium), where a position was to be taken up behind the canal, the reason given for the withdrawal being that the enemy had broken through on our right and that we had to race them back to the next anti-tank obstacle.
Shortly before dawn the Battalion moved off, marching in single file, leaving D Company to cover the withdrawal. After about an hour's march two enemy bombers were sighted near us flying very low, and troops were immediately deployed. Shortly afterwards, as we were passing the village of Waterloo (Belgium), heavy light-machine-gun and rifle fire was opened on A and B Companies from houses about two hundred yards to our left. To our right was a deep ravine, which we reached with only five casualties, and from there prepared a counter-attack on the position from which fire had been coming.
Before the attack could be developed the fire ceased, and the march was continued.
Apart from slight bombing, which caused no casualties, the march to Halle was accomplished withoutincident, the bridges over the canal being blown as soon as we had passed. From Hal the Battalion continued to Herfelingen (Belgium), where late in the evening a hot meal was prepared — the first since leaving Alsemberg (Belgium) — and all ranks went into excellent billets. Half an hour after reaching billets, however, orders were received stating that the enemy had already crossed the canal and that the Battalion was to take up a position along the Halle — Edingen (Belgium) road. The position was prepared and occupied by 2300 hrs and was held throughout the night with no interference from the enemy except for occasional scattered shots. There was, however, considerable shelling of Edingen and other villages behind us.
(Source: Steve Berridge)
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