After the Battle of the Lys in April 1918, Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig said of the 147th (Territorial) Brigade:
'I desire to express my appreciation of the very valuable and gallant services performed by troops of the 49th (West Riding) Division since the entry of the 147th Brigade into the Battle of Armenti res. The courage and determination showed by this division has played no small part in checking the enemy's advance and I wish to convey to General Cameron and all the officers and men under his command my thanks for all they have done.'
In April 1918, the 'Saturday night soldiers' from Bingley, Guiseley, Haworth, Keighley, Settle and Skipton halted the German advance at a critical time in the war during the German spring offensive. Haig's 'Backs to the Wall' order had just been issued when the 1/6th Duke of Wellington's Regiment was sent to the front-line at Armenti res. After nearly four years at the front, they had been transformed from part-time enthusiastic amateurs to battle hardened veterans, having fought in some of the Great War's major battles, including suffering the effects of mustard gas at Nieuport. It was a source of pride to the men of the battalion that they had never given up ground to the enemy, unless ordered to by a higher authority, and only then reluctantly.
Using newspaper archives, war diary extracts, personal accounts and previously unpublished photographs, Stephen Barber retraces the formation and history of the 1/6th Duke of Wellington's Regiment from the creation of the Volunteer Rifle Corps in 1860, to its mobilisation in the Great War. A day-by-day account of their movements and actions over the four-year period culminates in the pursuit of the retreating German Army at Famars, on 1 November 1918.
Stephen Barber is a former soldier who joined the Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire in 1979 as a 16-year-old. He spent six years in the regiment, serving in Norway, Canada, West Berlin and Northern Ireland. After leaving the army, he joined the Metropolitan Police and was posted to Gerald Road Police Station, near Eaton Square, in central London. In 1992, he transferred to the West Yorkshire Police where he served in various departments including Community Policing, Firearms Support Unit, and as a Detective in the Force Intelligence Unit. Stephen is now retired and spends his time walking in the Yorkshire Dales and assisting as a volunteer at a local pre-school.