It was a remarkable moment in IR 169’s wartime journey. Lais reflected: “The Gernicourt Woods was a great cemetery. Example sentences with "Third Battle of the Aisne", translation memory. Instead, however, of the expected respite, large numbers of German Infantry and gunners came into view less than 200 yards from the battery position. Huddled together, they made easy artillery targets. The 9th Company, commanded by Leutnant D.R. (Durham Light Infantry – Pioneers) and some of the 490th Field Company. Crowded with jostling, sweating humanity the dug outs reeked and to make matters worse Headquarters had no sooner got below than gas began to filter down. The 75th infantry brigade was holding the second position from Bouffignereux to Concevreux as follows: On the right, from Bouffignreeux to Roucy, the 2nd South Lancashire with remnants of the 24th and 25th Infantry Brigades: on the left, from Roucy to Concevreux, the 11th Cheshires, with the remnants of the 23rd infantry brigade. Colonel J.H. With his ammunition supply duties fulfilled, Lais took a few moments to explore the farm buildings. On the divisional right the forward swell of the hill on the right of Bouffignereux was occupied by the 7th infantry brigade of the 25th Division, on its left at Concevreux was the 74th infantry brigade. Both these brigades of 18 pounder guns were north of the river. Large and 2nd Lieut. Its self-sacrifice enabled Brig-Gen Grogan to organise, with the remnants of his brigade, a defensive position on the high ground about la Platrerie, due south of Pontavert and across the river, to which he moved his H.Q. The British would have preferred to place their Artillery South of the Aisne and defend in depth. 1,534 pictures Please rate, comment and subscribe! They were in a position in which they were entirely without hope of help, but were fighting on grimly. He refused all offers of help from my artillerymen, who were unarmed, and sent them off to get through if they could. The massive surprise attack (named Blücher-Yorck after two Prussian generals of the Napoleonic Wars) lasted from 27 May until 6 June 1918 and was the first full-scale German offensive following the Lys Offensivein Flanders in April. Shortly after this, all telephonic communications was cut, and no further instructions were received from the C.R.E., but at about 4:30 a.m., Major Hillman was handed a message from the 25th Brigade stating that the enemy had penetrated the right flank of the Rifle Brigade. His magnificent bearing, dauntless courage and determination to carry on to the end moved one’s emotion.”. Pte. Later in the morning General Husey, who had only taken command of the brigade front (vice General Coffin, promoted to Divisional Command) on the 7th May, was badly wounded and gassed, and he died a few days after in German hands. The remainder of the personnel took cover until their turns came round to take their place at the guns. Brigade: (Brigadier-General A A Kennedy) manning each gun. The MG Company support troops distributed ammunition and from the wagons and broke out the hardware to set up the heavy machine guns. Reaching the Aisne in under six hours, the Germans smashed through eight Allied divisions on a line between Reims and Soissons, pushing the Allies back to the river Vesle and gaining an extra 15 km of territory by nightfall. He found one of the rooms being used as a dressing station, still staffed by captured British medical personnel: Lais wrote: “English doctors and medics treat friends and foes. Huge collection, amazing choice, 100+ million high quality, affordable RF and RM images. rockets on the front. J.H. As a start, an infantry company found two abandoned barges. About midday, when it became obvious that the Germans were in the wood, he sent Captain A.D. Black, of the 490th Field Company, with twenty-five sappers, southwards to do what he could to prevent the enemy coming out of the wood. French reserve forces, described by Lais as ‘grey-bearded elderly men’ took up positions in a wood line across the river from the Pecherie. 2nd Northants Location and Timeline. If they could overcome the Allied armies and reach Paris, victory might be possible. 2nd West Yorkshire Wallace, M.C.) He sent out Lieutenants E.H. Jacobs-Larkcom and C. Sutton with written orders to blow their bridges as soon as it became evident to them that the enemy was advancing, and that the blowing of the bridges was necessary to prevent him from crossing the river. Puddicombe, D.S.O., and another officer, Lieut. A collection of IR 169 storm troopers and 6th Company were tasked to lead the river assault. It ran: “All Platoon commanders will remain with their platoons and ensure that the trenches are manned immediately the bombardment lifts. Taken completely by surprise and with their defences spread thin, the Allies were unable to stop the attack and the German army advanced through a 40 kilometres (25 mi) gap in the Allied lines. Operation Blücher-Yorck was planned primarily by General Erich Ludendorff, the First Quartermaster-General of the German Army, who was certain that success at the Aisne would lead the German armies to within striking distance of Paris. falling round him. The night was rent with sheets of flame. British troops had been there less than a month and were getting familiar with their new surroundings and generally fixing things to their liking after the long rather leisurely French occupation. Here is an account of the receipt, turn by turn, of these disastrous tidings at Brigade H.Q. At 10:30 am, the 1st Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment, came up from reserve positions in an attempt to slow the German advance. It is remarkable that these two men who did not know each other and had never met would be caught up in the same battle, on the same day, just a few kilometers from each other. The overpowering weight of the infantry attacks and artillery fires devastated the Devonshire ranks. The dug outs rocked… filled with the acrid fumes of cordite, the sickly sweet tang of gas. Due to this fact, they were sometimes referred to as, "The German Spring Offensive March–July 1918",, Battles of World War I involving the United Kingdom, Battles of World War I involving the United States, Battles of the Western Front (World War I), Articles with unsourced statements from March 2015, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Germans achieve 55 km breakthrough of Allied lines that comes within 56 km of Paris. However, the advance eventually stalled due to supply shortages and lack of reserves. British Company, Battalion and Brigade HQs were rapidly overrun the consequence of which being that no comprehensive official record exists since papers were unsurprisingly destroyed, lost or captured in the ensuing chaos. Even as the fighting for the third trench raged, German engineers were already putting up bridging over the first trenches to make passage for the tanks, artillery and support wagons soon to follow. Operation Bluecher-Yorck, which commenced on May 27, 1918 was the 3rd Operation of the German Spring Offensive (Kaiserschlacht). Filthy dirty, and with a long stubble of a red beard, he attacked with great fury. The three guns at the main position of the 57th battery (Major B.W. Ludendorff, who saw the British Expeditionary Force as the main threat, believed that this, in turn, would cause the Allies to move forces from Flanders to help defend the French capital, allowing the Germans to continue their planned Flanders offensive (Hagen) with greater ease. The Third Army recoiled towards Verdun, pursued by the 5th Army, and the Fourth Army retreated to Sedan and Stenay. IR 169 assembled for its role in the river assault between the Pecherie and Pontavert. Evans, M. M. (2004). He devised an intense artillery bombardment which neutralised defences by disorientating or killing the majority of the defenders before the German advance went forward behind a creeping barrage. Massey. Despite penetrating Allied lines by approximately 34 miles and coming closer to Paris than any time since 1914, the Germans were successfully halted by the Allies at the Marne on 6 June 1918. Trust in the Feurewalze was absolute, as supporting artillery fire did not lift from the lead trenches until seconds before the storm troopers reached their objectives. The sun started to burn off the early fog, exposing arriving German formations to Lewis machine gun fire at longer ranges. It was fought from July 31st to November 6th, 1917. The Aisne and its attendant canal glittered like silver ribbons in the sun, while in the vacated trench area beyond hung a pall of haze and dust, which lifting at intervals revealed the roads thick with marching regiments in field grey, with guns, lorries and wagons. Lt. Downing’s story is wrapped up in the less chaotic tactical retreat that slowed the pace of the German advances, made possible through the re-ordering and the piecemeal reconstitution of smashed Brigades and Divisions that started to take place in the early afternoon of the 1st day, South of the Aisne. By the battle's end, the Germans had suffered 130,000 casualties while the combined total of the Allies reached up to 137,000.[5]. In addition, four divisions of the British IX Corps, led by Lieutenant-General Sir Alexander Hamilton-Gordon, held the Chemin des Dames Ridge; they had been posted there to rest and refit after surviving the "Michael" battle. To continue now with the main story. “Dawn began to break, but no news came of any Infantry attack. Accordingly, when he received the warning order from the C.R.E. Many books have been written about the 3rd Battle of the Aisne (Chemin des Dames) and there is nothing new added here but this page will provide particular focus on what happened on the first day, May 27, 1918 to the 1/Sherwoods (8th Division) before 9am and to the 9th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (25th Division) before 6pm. 15th Field Company, had taken over command, and Captain Black with some twenty-five sappers and infantrymen, was ordered to man a trench on the left, but found it occupied by Germans. C. Counsell and 2nd Lieut. Meanwhile General Grogan, GOC 23rd infantry brigade was ordered at 6am, to assume command of all troops in the vicinity of Jonchery and to hold a front on the river Vesle extending 1 mile on either side of that town. In another trench, a group of British soldiers raised their hands in surrender. 9th Loyal North Lancashire, 75th Inf. In early afternoon, a squadron of four German planes attacked into the woodlands, sending the some of the wagons crashing into the cover of the undergrowth. The village was surrounded before the ambulance knew that any danger existed. Within a second, a thousand guns roared out their Iron hurricane. 07 Thursday Jun 2018. Even such a message only serves to emphasize the assistance which the lack of visibility and the exposed position of our troops in the salient gave to the enemy in his attack. By 9:00 am, German storm troop and infantry units were soon on the near bank of the river, making prisoners of those British troops not able to swim across the river and canal. Take for instance, the following pigeon message, timed at 5.15am, which was received at Divisional Headquarters at 6.05am: HQ 2nd R.Berks Regt, consisting of Lieut-Col Griffen, Capt Clare, RSM Wokins, Sergt Trinder, Corpl Dobson, Ptes Stone, Gregory, Slee, and QM surrounded. The defense of the Aisne area was in the hands of General Denis Auguste Duchêne, commander of the French Sixth Army. It was a descent into hell. We were the victors in this murderous location because we had better gas masks.” Foreshadowing the destruction of IR 169 five months later, Lais noted how “we also had to experience our own gas masks failing in a very insidious American gas attack in late October, 1918.”. Center of the struggle Loyal north Lancashire, 75th Inf in Bouffignereux just the. Troopers and 6th Company were tasked to lead the river and canal could... Resort to rifles and Lewis guns immediately the bombardment was a Third phase in midst... 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