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Memorial unveiled to commemorate the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry

Credit: Guernsey Museums

Today marks the centenary of the Battle of Les Rues Vertes, a battle which would change the history of Guernsey forever.

On this French street in the Great War, the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry defended the Allied line in Cambrai, a French town near to the Belgian border.

A memorial made out of Guernsey granite was unveiled today in front of the island's Lieutenant Governor and Bailiff, as well as local French dignitaries.

On the morning of 30th November 1917, the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry had taken up positions in Masnieres and Les Rues Vertes. By 8:30am the men could see German troops advancing from the east in solid blocks. By evening, they were surrounded on three sides.

Come nightfall on 1st December, the RGLI had to be withdrawn to the west of Les Rues Vertes. Their losses, of over 40%, would mean that the RGLI would never again be made of more than 50% native born Guernsey men.

  • WATCH: Charlie Frost's full coverage of the centenary event.

On 30th November, when the Germans, in their heavy surprise attack pierced our line to the south of my sector the enemy entered Les Rues Vertes, a suburb of Masnieres, which town was on my right flank. It was the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry that recovered this village twice by counter attacks and which maintained the southern defences of Masnieres on the night of the 1st December, it being a dangerous salient, it was the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry which covered the withdrawal.

Guernsey has every reason to feel the greatest pride in her sons and I am proud to have them under me, fighting alongside my staunch veterans of three years fighting experience. Many officers and men greatly distinguished themselves amongst whom I may mention Le Bas and after him Stranger, Stone and Sangster.

I regret that casualties were heavy, further proof, if any were needed that they fought magnificently.

– General de Lisle, Commanding Officer of 29th Division
Credit: Guernsey Museums