Faughs withdraw from the River Dendre

Mon, 05/20/1940

Retreat to Dunkirk

On the misty morning of 20 May 1940, the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Fusiliers (1st Faughs) was in a defensive position with a 3,500 yard frontage on a hill feature north-east of the Belgian town of Ninove on the western bank of the River Dender (Dendre). The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel G F Gough MC, had deployed three companies forward, with one rifle company and the Headquarters in reserve.

During the previous night the enemy brought forward his guns and, as the morning mist cleared, salvos of shells fell amongst the three companies on the high ground. The Faughs then received orders to withdraw to Oudenaarde (Audenarde) on the next river obstacle, the Scheldt. As it did so, and being the last unit in the Brigade column, the Germans shelled the Faughs and inflicted some 60 casualties.

Soon afterwards in the village of Outer (Oultre), an enemy group of infiltrators ambushed D Company. Before the enemy was driven off one officer and several men were killed. Soon afterwards transport carried the Battalion to Belleghem, where C Company rejoined, having been diverted by a blown bridge demolition in Oudenaarde. All enjoyed food and sleep in that location, a large wood, which was several miles from Mouscron where the Faughs had been at the end of the First World War.