Today (27th May) marks the Centenary of the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment making a heroic last stand at Bois des Buttes, a wooded sandstone hill southwest of La Ville-aux-Bois.
On the morning of 27th May 1918 the men of the 2nd Devonshires faced a huge German attack including artillery, poison gas and the Imperial German Army Air Service. Their heroic actions were designed to buy time for the rest to the corps so defences could be prepared to halt the German advance overall.
In all 581 men were killed or captured that morning, including their Colonel. Only between 40 and 80 survivors managed to cross the Aisne River and canal to rejoin retreating British Forces. Their sacrifice was recognised by the award of the French Croix de Guerre with palm on 5th December 1918, the first such award to a British Regiment.
A service was held today at Paignton Parish Church to remember those who fought in this action, which was followed by an act of remembrance at the War Memorial in Palace Avenue Gardens. Torbay MP Kevin Foster joined a large crowd of residents and veterans for the service and laid a wreath at the memorial in honour of those who made the supreme sacrifice that day.