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    On the 21st March 1918, the Germans launched a major offensive with the aim to win the War. 

    After a terrible shelling, units of the South African Infantry Brigade sustained the first clash at Gauche Wood (between Péronne and Cambrai) they were far outnumbered and collapsed after a heroic resistance. 


    After three days of fights and withdrawals, the remains of the Brigade entrenched in Marrières Wood (between Péronne and Bapaume) with orders to stand at all cost. 


    They were practically annihilated. General Tudor had instructed Brig-General Dawson and the remainder of the Brigade to form a blocking position and hold it at all costs.


    This they did but at an appalling cost in men of the Brigade. By Saturday, the remnants of the South Africans had taken up their positions at Marrières Wood. 

    Exhausted, with few rations and little ammunition, isolated from other friendly forces and under heavy artillery fire, they had little knowledge of the situation except that it was desperate.

    On the Sunday, the South Africans were well placed for defence with a clear field of fire but this meant that there was no possibility of retreat. The Germans massed for an attack and the South Africans were even bombarded by British artillery. 


    The fighting raged all day and ammunition was becoming very scarce with no fresh supplies coming forward. Casualties were heavy and, despite many gallant deeds by all ranks, the position had become untenable. Surrender had become inevitable. 


    Outnumbered and out of ammunition, but by no means outfought, Brig-Gen Dawson realised that any further resistance would be futile. It would lead to unnecessary loss of lives on the part of the South Africans and it would not serve any tactical purpose.


    What they had set out to do was manifested in the delay of the German advance, with kilometres-long traffic jams that they witnessed while being marched as prisoners of war through the rear area behind the German frontline. 


    Out of an initial 500 men, all ranks, at the end of the battle about 100 men were left, including the wounded. It was a deed of self-sacrifice, valour and unparalleled heroism.

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    Military Medal (MM) (Geo.V) 13533 PTE A.J. Manzie.2/S.A. Inf.;

    1914-15 Star PTE A.J. Manzie. 1st Infantry;
    WM; AVM (Bil.) PTE A.J. Manzie. 2/S.A. Inf; ASM ACF145182 A.J. Manzie;
    Coronation Medal 1937 (Geo.VI) engraved: A.J. Manzie

    Private Andrew John Manzie 2nd Battalion, The South African Infantry, was born in Kimberley in 1896. After serving in German S.W.A. with the Durban Light Infantry he then served with the10th S.A.I. in G.E.A.


    Discharged temporarily medically unfit at Roberts Heights on 26.2.1917 he re-attested with the 2nd S.A.I. on 9.3.1917 and served in France from 27.7.1917. 


    He was seriously wounded during the fighting at Marrières Wood on 24.3.1918. He was sent to Richmond Hospital in England as his injury was severe, his leg being amputated at the knee. He did not recover well from the surgery and this meant that he remained in the UK.


    Andrew was cared for at the South African Military Hospital in Richmond, which was where he participated in the embroidery of the St Paul’s Cathedral World War I Altar Frontal.


    In 1919 stump healed, fitted with artificial limb and embarked for South Africa. Discharged medically unfit 3.1.1920. Manzie served as S/Sgt with 19th Batt. N.V.B. 26.7.19; transferred to 3rd Bn. Railway and Harbour Bde. 4.1.1943. Discharged 31.12.1946. Occupation: Clerk Station Master, Durban.

    Screenshot_20240615_212206_PDF Reader.jpg

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