Captain Darling described “the most uncomfortable night of the whole war”.
In the build-up to the Battle of Arras which began on 9th April 1917, a preliminary objective was Monchy; when that was taken, the cavalry could come forward and exploit the gap. Two cavalry brigades, including 20th Hussars, moved up to Telegraph Hill and moved forward in the early evening. On being informed that Monchy had been taken, they formed up in line and advanced at the gallop, with two brigades together through a blinding snowstorm which prevented the Germans from engaging them with accurate fire.
Captain Darling of the 20th Hussars wrote “Suddenly, through the snow, a line of wire seemed to spring up in front of us – we came upon it so unexpectedly that some horses got their legs in it and the wire cutters had to be brought into play to cut them out.”
In fact, Monchy had not been taken. The 20th had to remain by the wire overnight. Captain Darling reported ” … this was the most uncomfortable night of the whole war. We were standing in several inches of mud with a covering of snow, a bitterly cold wind blowing …and shelled intermittently all night… For the poor horses it was even worse than for the men.”
The 10th Hussars and the Essex Yeomanry made a charge near the village of Monchy-le-Preux on 11th April 1917. In a blizzard, German fire forced them into the village for shelter, where they were trapped under shell fire for three days. When finally relieved, the 10th had lost 27 men killed and 157 wounded, and together with the Yeomanry, around 900 horses had become casualties.