The Battalion moved south from Ypres at the beginning of 1918. They arrived at the line in Aurigny Rouy by the end of month. Following further movement the 17th Battalion had spells at defences in Etreillers and in front of St Quentin during early March.
The German Army’s major Spring Offensive began in the early morning of 21st March 1918 and the Battalion manned defences at Etreillers. Following German action, the Battalion provided a spirited defence, but the majority became surrounded with many casualties and numerous men being captured by the Germans. Arthur Bell’s former comrades in A Company were the most fortunate, managing to extricate themselves from Goodman Redoubt, before they had been surrounded.
After the Battalion’s withdrawal , south west, the Germans assault continued the next morning and the men withdrew to Moyencourt. The fighting withdrawal continued through the months to Roiglies, Erches and Folies. The French took over the Battalion’s positions on 27th March and the men were eventually moved to billets in Estraboeuf at the end of the month.
Eighty seven men lost their lives during the month, the majority on the 21st / 22nd March, at the beginning of the spring offensive.
Fatalities also included 8046 Lance Corporal Sydney Ackerley MM and 44694 CSM H Brindley MM, who had been Gazetted prior to his transfer from 19th Battalion. Other ‘Original’ members of the Battalion who lost their lives were 8058 Lance Corporal Thomas Barrow, 8060 Sergeant Herbert Brown, 8511 Private Henry Drake and 8835 CSM Albert Rhodes.
27318 Private Robert Allen received a Distinguished Conduct Medal for his work as a stretcher bearer during the withdrawal. None of the Battalion’s Military Medal awards appear to relate to this action.