At zero hour (4:45am) on the morning of the 23 of April 1917, the 8 Battalion Seaforth Highlanders attacked the village of Guemappe, East of Arras. The battalion objective was to capture the village and then consolidate the line 400 yards beyond.
The main attack was met by heavy machine gun fire and the lead Companies had to dig in 100 yards West of the village. 'B' and 'D' Company both suffered heavy losses and only had one officer left between them by 5:05am, 'C' Company on the left of the line was also checked by the enemy and lost all officers. At 5:15am, 'A' Company sent one platoon forward to reinforce 'B' Company but this platoon was only able to advance a short distance, due to the heavy machine gun fire.
Within a few minutes the battalion casualties were 15 officers and 280 other ranks, as the attack was held up by heavy machine gun fire. The Officer Commanding 'B' Company sent a message back to battalion headquarters saying he was held up 300 yards west of the village and could make no progress.
By 6:55am 'B' and 'D' Companies managed to move forward towards the village and were seen digging in at shell holes 200 yards West of some buildings. Hostile machine gun fire from enemy positions to the South and Southeast became diminished, as units on the battalion flanks began to advance. Machine gun fire from the North and Northwest was still heavy, as enemy machine gunners gave support to the defenders of Guemappe.
At 7:30am, the enemy could be seen falling back through Guemappe as the battalion Lewis gunners poured fire down on the village. At 9:am a combined attack by 'C' Company from the 8 Seaforths and a portion of the 9 Black Watch and 7 Camerons broke the enemy line. The Highlanders then managed to assault through the enemy positions and consolidated the line east of the village; no resistance had been met in Guemappe, due to a total enemy evacuation.
At 10:15am, ‘A’,'B' and 'D' Companies were East of Guemappe trying to organise and consolidate in their new positions under heavy shell fire. Battalion headquarters were moved to an embankment at grid reference N18 C and began to arrange the defence of the newly captured ground. Only two officers were left uninjured at this time, the Officer Commanding 'C' Company and one other junior Lieutenant.
The battalion now came under heavy artillery fire and a considerable amount of Machine Gun fire from an enemy trench system called 'Tank' Trench. The open area of ground between battalion headquarters on the bank and the village was swept by intense enemy fire.
At 11am the badly wounded Officer Commanding 'A' Company arrived at battalion headquarters with a party of men from Guemappe. He reported that the battalion lines East of
the village could not be held due to the withdrawal of British troops to the south, consolidation was impossible and his men were falling back.
By 1pm the remnants of the battalion had fallen back to battalion headquarters and began to dig in on the bank. The last party of men to fall back through Guemappe reported that none of the battalion was left East of the village and as far as they saw, no men were left inside the village.
At 6pm a patrol from the battalion moved up the valley and made contact with the 29 Division on the left flank, contact was also made with the 46 Infantry Brigade on the right.The battalion then dug in behind the bank for the night its strength numbering 5 officers and 138 other ranks.
The 8 Seaforth Highlanders had taken all their objectives in a "gallant" attack, forcing their way through the village in face of heavy machine-gun fire, but due to the failure of units on the flanks were left in an exposed position.
Private Angus Sutherland was killed in action, during the 8 Seaforths attack on Guemappe he was aged 19 years. Casualties in the 8 Battalion Seaforth Highlanders between the 21 and 28 of April 1917 were 85 men killed, 203 men were wounded and 16 reported as missing.
Angus had a brother Alexander (Sandy) who served during World War 2