Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
RobertBr

Mars Offensive 28th March 1918

65 posts in this topic

Nearly a year ago Chris started a post to commemorate an oft forgotten battle that was the second phase of the Great Offensive. Subsequently a ‘challenge’ to document the battle was issued. I have a particular interest in the 56th (London) Division, my Grandfather was a Gunner with ‘D’ Battery 281st Brigade (He was gassed on that day, but survived), so I took up the cudgel (1).

This is the first of a series of posts concerning the actions of the 56th (London) Division on and about that day the 28th March 1918.

Ludendorf launched the ‘Mars’ Offensive with the objective of capturing Arras and then to swing north and sweep up Vimy Ridge and on to Boulogne. After the success of ‘Michael’ he expected to be in at the sea within 6 days.

Eleven(2) German divisions, supported by the same artillery train that was so successful on 21st March, attacked the four British divisions astride the River Scarpe. The 3rd and 15th divisions to the South and the 4th and 56th divisions to the North. The attack stretched approximately 14 miles south from Arleux-en-Gohelle.

My aim is to build up a picture of that day covering as many units as possible. I have drawn most of my information from the War Diaries of the units involved and various histories and reports. I expect that I have made some mistakes and welcome corrections from the forums experts.

One area that is lacking is the German side. Both sides suffered severe losses on that day. I will be returning to the battlefield this March and will remembering all that took part.

Bob

1. I would have liked to extend this to cover all four British divisions but that proved to be too big a job!

2. Figures of 9, 11, 13 and 29 German Divisions can be found, with 6 frontline British Divisions mentioned. The History of the 56th Division states 5 attacked to the North of

the river and 6 to the South.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Prelude

Some of the events leading up to the battle:

8 to 16 February. The 56th Division relieve the 62nd Division in the Line between Gavrelle and Oppy.

13th March. War Diaries first indicate that an attack is imminent.

18th March. Our artillery commence harassing fire.

21st March. Sector subject to heavy bombardment as part of ‘Michael’ Offensive.

23rd March. Germans Explode Mine under ‘Towy Post’. Fortunately it had just been moved.

A wounded prisoner captured on the 23rd stated:

• the 101st Reserve Regiment (219th Division) and 102nd Reserve Regiment (23rd (Research) Division) from Riga had occupied the Wotan Stellung

• these would attack together with the 240th and 5th Bavarian Reserve Divisions

• they were to advance 4 km with their right flank on Oppy then swing round towards Vimy

• the 471st regiment had 60 trench mortars in position a further 8 trench mortar companies were due to arrive.

• 27th March. 56th Division ordered to extend its front North by 1700yds to Arleux-en-Gohelle relieving the incumbent Canadian Division. This relief was not quite complete when the battle began.

27th March. 56th Division ordered to extend its front North by 1700yds to Arleux-en-Gohelle relieving the incumbent Canadian Division. This relief was not quite complete when the battle began.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

56th Division Order of Battle

167th Brigade:

1/7th Middlesex Regt, 1/8th Middlesex Regt, 1/1st Londons (Royal Fusiliers)

168th Brigade:

1/4th Londons (Royal Fusiliers), 1/13th Londons (Kensingtons), 1/14th Londons (London Scottish)

169th Bde:

1/2nd Londons (Royal Fusiliers), 1/5th Londons (London Rifle Brigade), 1/16th Londons (Queen’s Westminster Rifles)

Pioneers:

1/5 Battalion Cheshire Regt

Royal Engineers:

416 Field Company (Edinburgh), 512 Field Company (London), 513 Field Company (London),56 Divisional Signal Company

Royal Field Artillery:

280 (1/1 London) Brigade RFA, 281 (1/2 London) Brigade RFA, 52 Brigade RFA (attached)

RAMC

2/1, 2/2, 2/3 Field Ambulances

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Battlefield

Bailleul-Sir-Berthoult is about 7.5Km NW of Arras centre.

post-11115-1230673039.jpg

Updated (30/12/08)to show Chester, Spur and Farbus Posts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Artillery Positions

The 56th Divisions own field artillery consisted of the 280th and 281st Brigades. Nominally 36 x 18 pounders and 12 x 4.5 howitzers.

During the day the 52nd Brigade Army Field Artillery were detached from the Canadian Division directly to the north and came under control of the 56th CRA.

Artillery positions for the 281st Brigade are quite well defined in its War Diary.

The 280th Brigades War Diary places 2 x 18 pounders of 93rd Battery in Arleux as ‘anti-tank guns, otherwise it gives no specific position information. Its does state “the ‘forward’ guns were withdrawn to the ‘Main Position, behind the ridge”, this probably occurred in the afternoon or evening.

post-11115-1205619544.jpg

On the map I have used colour coding to indicate the Brigade / Battery locations.

The colour of the circle indicate the Brigade.

The colour of the number indicating the battery and number of guns.

PS Apologies for the image quality. Its extracted form a Word document. If anyone wants a copy drop me a PM.

281 Brigade (Black Circle)

Batteries:

A(Red). B(Green). 109(Orange). D(Blue)

280 Brigade (Green Circle)

Batteries:

93(Orange)

52nd Brigade (Brown Circle)

Batteries:

A(Red). C(Green). 122(Orange). D(Blue)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Other Divisional units initial positions.

post-11115-1230673432.jpg

Updated (30/12/08) with positions of the Cheshire's

1/5th Cheshire’s (Pioneers) ' B' Coy in Railway & Chester Posts, 'C' Coy in Ridge Post 'A' Coy in Brown line – (Green)

Royal Engineers (Field Coy’s @ 11.00) – (Red)

176th Tunnelling Coy – (Orange)

Machine Gun Corps (6 guns @ 11.00) – (Blue)

The 2/1, 2/2, and 2/3 London Field Ambulances provided aid posts etc. These are not shown.

I know that the 2/1 was based at St Catherines (G.15.a.40.35) and another would seem to be in the same area G.15.a.40.35.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

168th Brigade initial positions.

The Brigade had extended their front northwards to Arleux during the night of 27/28th, giving a divisional front of 5000yds held by just two brigades.

The 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles still occupied Sugar Post at the start of the battle.

post-11115-1205680532.jpg

1/14th London Scottish (Green)

1/13th Kensingtons (Red)

1/4th Royal Fusiliers (Orange)

1st Canadian Mounted Rifles (Blue)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

169th Brigade initial positions.

post-11115-1205680757.jpg

1/5th London Rifle Brigade (Green)

1/16th Queens Westminster Rifles (Red)

1/2nd Royal Fusiliers (Orange)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 167th were the reserve brigade.

This map shows where they were deployed to on 28th March. I do not know where they were originally encamped.

post-11115-1205680942.jpg

1/7th Middlesex Regiment (Green)

1/8th Middlesex Regiment (Red)

1/1st Royal Fusiliers (Orange)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bob,

Impressive bit of work. My Great Uncle, A. Richard Clinch, was in the Queen's Westminster Rifles. Another Great Uncle, Captain A. Cyril Parsons was with the 1st Somerset Light Infantry. He was killed March 29 by a sniper whilst trying to bring in the wounded from the day before. I look forward to more.

Ed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My interest in the events of this date were initiated by a photograph found last year amongst my grandfather's papers which had the date on the reverse side. My grandfather was with the QWR, which he joined in 1916 with his cousin (he being the chap photographed).

I have read around what happened to the QWR on the day in question and wonder whether you have looked at 'The War History of the 1st Battalion Queen's Westminster Rifles 1914 - 1918' by Major J Q Henriques? This and the regiment's war diary contain very detailed descriptions of who did what and where.

Field Marshall Lord Bramall also made a passing reference to Arras and the 28th March 1918 in yesterday's Times, did you see this also?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

cjk

I was unaware of that QWR history. I will be posting my info on the QWR shortly. I have accessed the QWR War Diary at the NA and several other accounts to piece together an hour by hour (almost) story.

It will be interesting to see if they match up.

I have seen many accounts of the day based on one regiment or battalion or brigade. What I am trying to do is pull together an overall account of the buid up, the day and the aftermath for the 56th Division. It would be nice to do it for all 4 Divisions and to get the German viewpoint.

Thanks for the info.

Bob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This may be of some use:

Kaiserschlacht maps

Looks like the Germans opposite south of Arleux on the 28th were 1st Bavarian Reserve Corps, with 240.Div. and 23 Res.Div (a Royal Saxon unit).

More later when I've checked some more sources.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

QUOTE (Bob B @ Mar 11 2008, 08:38 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
the 471st regiment had 60 trench mortars in position a further 8 trench mortar companies were due to arrive.

IR 471 was a component of 240 Division.

According to '251 Divisions' 240 Div. was mainly from the Baden corps district (XIV), except for IR 471 which was from Elsass (XV).

219 Div. and 24 Res. Div. were both Saxon, and Sachsen in Grosser Zeit will certainly cover their activities here. I do not yet have a means of safely making copies from this book but I can have a look.

In any case, PM me with an email address and I will happily send you PDF excerpts from '251 Divisions' for all three divisions. Unfortunately the one for 240 Div. is missing the part for 1918 but the others are complete.

Note that neither '251 Divisions' nor Malte Znaniecki's excellent site records 219 Div. as actually being on the Western Front in 1918 at all! I will check Sachsen in Grosser Zeit.

NB the active (not reserve) IR 101 (Saxon Grenadiers) was in 23 Div. (for which I also have a '251 Divisions' excerpt).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

According to "Die Schlacten und Gefechte des Grossen Krieg, 1914-1918", division 219 (Saxon) was assigned to 8th Army, on the Eastern Front throughout the spring, then was sent to the Balkans.

Hope that helps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bob,

I have seen a book advertised on Amazon which might help you get the German perspective. It is called 'Operation Michael and Mars' and is by David T Jabecki. Here is a cut'n'paste synopsis:

"This is the first study of the Ludendorff Offensives of 1918 based extensively on key German records presumed to be lost forever after Potsdam was bombed in 1944.

In 1997, David T. Zabecki discovered translated copies of these files in a collection of old instructional material at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He presents his findings here for the first time, with a thorough review of the surviving original operational plans and orders, to offer a wealth of fresh insights to the German Offensives of 1918.

David T. Zabecki clearly demonstrates how the German failure to exploit the vulnerabilities in the BEF's rail system led to the failure of the first two offensives, and how inadequacies in the German rail system determined the outcome of the last three offensives. This is a window into the mind of the German General Staff of World War I, with thorough analysis of the German planning and decision making processes during the execution of battles. This is also the first study in English or in German to analyze the specifics of the aborted Operation HAGEN plan. This is also the first study of the 1918 Offensives to focus on the 'operational level of war' and on the body of military activity known as 'the operational art', rather than on the conventional tactical or strategic levels.

This book will be of great interest to all students of World War I, the German Army and of strategic studies and military theory in general."

I also have a print-out from the web re German activities at Armentieres and Gavrelle that you may find of interest (it includes photos & maps). However, I need to find the web link. I will send you this info as and when I can relocate the original source.

Regards,

Charles

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I checked Sachsen in Grosser Zeit. Here's what I noted down, based on my tenuous German:

219 Div and 23 Div were definitely not present.

23 Reserve Division was assigned to Gruppe Vimy (1. Bay. Res. Korps) and lead the assault north of the Scarpe, with 41 Div on their left and 240 Div on their right.

The infantry attack was launched against a position referred to as the 'Hundsnase'(?) east of Bailleul at 07.30 on the 28th by Res. Gren. Regt 100 and Res. Inf. Regt. 102.

In the evening Inf. Regt. 471 (from 240 Div) was placed at the disposal of 23 Res Div as reinforcements.

Most of 23 Res Div was at the front line until 2nd April, with Inf. Regt. 392 remaining until 5th April.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bob,

Here is the link I mentioned earlier: http://net.lib.byu.edu/estu/wwi/dose/09-Flandern-02.htm

This comprises a written account by a German soldier of his experiences in "Operation Mars". It has been translated to English and includes a dozen or so photographs (the last of which is an aerial view, with place-name captions).

Look forward to seeing your QWR post, as and when.

Charles

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

169th Brigade. 1/2nd London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) Summary

The actions of the battalion and enemy on, Maundy Thursday, 28th March 1918.

I hold these in a table which I have converted to text (using a macro) for this post. In some cases the ‘Enemy action or report’ should be read before the ‘Battalion action or report’. Its not ideal but you cannot post Tables!

Key

Time or + which indicates an event at a later time but before the next actual time

Battalion action or report

Enemy action or report - in Italics

_________________

03.00 to 10.00

Men ordered to ‘Stand to’ and wear their Box Respirators, which they did for 3 (4?) hours until the area was reported clear of gas.

Gas bombardment lasted to 07.00, a favouring breeze helped to clear it.

DITCH POST and the trenches in the vicinity of the Gavrelle-Arras Road were very heavily knocked about.

Battalion front bombarded for 7 hours after which it lifted to the back areas.

Intense bombardment on Brigade front by all calibres from 8 inch downwards. Large quantities of gas shells falling all along the BAILLEUL-WILLERVAL LINE.

Bombardment was especially on DITCH POST, BAILLUL EAST POST, BAILLEUL-WILLERVAL LINE and for 100yds either side of the Gavrelle to POINT DU JOUR Road

03.00

Barrage on NAVAL Line and posts in rear.

05.45 to 07.15

Garrison of GAVRELLE POST withdrew to TOWY POST

Barrage also on front line.

Enemy in WILLIE TRENCH.

Enemy penetrated Gavrelle, both flanks of TOWY POST and entered TOWY ALLEY.

07.20

SOS reported.

Bombing parties sent up TOWY ALLEY, THAMES ALLEY and TYNE ALLEY.

Blocks established in TYNE ALLEY and the GAVRELLE BAILLEUL Road

+

London Rifle Brigade and Queens Westminster Rifles were driven back to BAILLEUL-WILLERVAL LINE via THAMES ALLEY and TOWY ALLEY.

Men of the Machine Gun Company with 3 machine guns retreated down TOWY ALLEY and set up their guns in the line.

The garrison of the BAILLEUL-WILLERVAL LINE was thickened up by about 60 London Rifle Brigade and 160 Queens Westminster Rifles from the forward system.

These reinforcements were very welcome as the line was thinly held particularly on the left.

Enemy bombing parties in TYNE ALLEY

08.45

Lewis Gunners and riflemen open fire on them and cause them to seek shelter.

Small parties of German troops wearing full packs seen in the direction of TYNE ALLEY and MARINE TRENCH

+

Left company’s Lewis Gunners and riflemen fire on them picking off their leaders. This stopped their advance and later they withdrew

Line of Skirmishers approach

09.45

Cpt Whittle (QWR attached) took command of THAMES ALLEY from CASTLEFORD to the main trench, with 2 bombing sections to help.

+

KEILLER POST held out for a considerable time.

CASTLEFORD POST was still intact until after nightfall

+

Stopped by Artillery, machine guns, Lewis Guns and rifle fire

Enemy make two attacks on BAILLEUL-WILLERVAL LINE

+

Driven off time and again by Lewis Guns.

Enemy aeroplanes in large patrols (3 to 13) flew low over trenches directing artillery fire and firing at the trench garrisons.

Later in morning

‘A’ Company position in TYNE ALLEY taken over by the London Scottish

11.30

‘A’ company 8th Middlesex sent up to hold the new switch trench adjoining the BAILLEUL-WILLERVAL LINE north of DITCH POST and TOWY ALLEY. They remained their all day

13.50

Parties observed withdrawing towards MARINE TRENCH from TYNE ALLEY

14.00 to 18.00

Intensive artillery barrage mainly on BAILLEUL EAST POST and DITCH POST

16.00

This method of advance was speedily stopped by rifle fire.

Germans advanced across the open but with the exception of 2 or 3 snipers did not fire. Whole sections threw their rifles forward, then rushed forward with their hands up to where their rifles had fallen, picked their rifles up, threw their rifles forward again, and so on.

3 or 4 crept within 40yds of the wire.

German troops were in Full Marching Order and appeared to be well trained physically, but their attack seemed to lack leadership and enthusiasm.

16.45

These having fired about 20 rounds received attention from our own artillery and were forced to withdraw

4 field guns were reported in action near NAVAL TRENCH firing over open sights at DITCH POST

+

Numerous small parties seen moving backwards and forwards throughout the day

+

Informed that 5 enemy divisions had been identified in the attack on the Divisional front.

21.30

Orders received for the Brigade to be relieved by the 7th and 8th Middlesex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

169th Brigade. 1/5th London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade) Summary

The actions of the battalion and enemy on the 28th March 1918.

Key

Time or + which indicates an event at a later time but before the next actual time

Battalion action Or report

Enemy action or report in italics

_________________

Gavrelle sector

03.00 to 05.00

Intense bombardment with gas shells on all our battery positions which blew back on to affect the garrison of the MARINE Line

05.00 to 06.00

Bombarded support and reserve lines with gas and shells of all calibres

06.00

All forward and lateral communications cut; HQ out of contact with companies. Runners never returned.

MILL POST reported to have been obliterated

Front and immediate support lines bombarded and TRENCH mortared blotting out our posts and obliterating our wire

07.00

SOS put up twice

Lifted some artillery onto the MARINE LINE.

Large formation in 5 waves attacked behind a creeping barrage and immediately broke through the front line system

+

Rifle fire, including every man from Battalion HQ, machine gun (x2) fire and extemporised blocks held up the attack.

Eventually Battalion HQ details conducted a fighting withdrawal from NAVAL-MARINE down THAMES ALLEY (STREET).

Germans rush blocks in BELVOIR and BROUGH. They start bombing down NAVAL-MARINE TRENCH and mount frontal attack on it with a mass of troops from Gavrelle.

+

Some men distributed to fire down THAMES ALLEY, some in THAMES POST and some in PELICAN POST with orders to stay until the last possible moment.

Remainder reinforced CASTLEFORD POST and the RED LINE

+

Enemy were stopped at CASTLEFORD POST where a strong block was formed.

09.30

Battalion HQ established in BAILLEUL POST with HQ details reinforced in the RED LINE.

Battalion fighting strength on reaching the RED LINE reduced from 23 Officers and 564 Other Ranks to 8 Officers and 60 Other Ranks mainly from the Battalion HQ detail

10.30 to 18.30

Repulsed with considerable casualties by artillery, machine gun and Lewis Gun fire.

Enemy held up by bombing block in BRUM and other trenches.

Enemy makes tentative efforts to establish himself in RED LINE.

Twice attacked the bombing block in NORTH TYNE ALLEY held in conjunction with 2nd London’s.

Dusk

Listening posts established in our wire. They were not attacked.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

169th Brigade. 1/16th London Regiment (Queen’s Westminster Rifles) Summary

The actions of the battalion and enemy on the 28th March 1918.

Key

Time or + which indicates an event at a later time but before the next actual time

Battalion action Or report

Enemy action or report in italics

_________________

03.00

Enemy barrage on NAVAL LINE and Posts in the rear

05.45 to 07.15

Garrison of GAVRELLE POST withdrew to TOWY POST

Barrage extended on to front line

07.15

The strong point around Company HQ manned.

Heavy fire from Vickers and Lewis Guns brought to bear.

Enemy attacked and obtained footing in WILLIE TRENCH.

Penetrated Gavrelle and undefended portion of flanks of TOWY POST.

Enemy working up TOWY ALLEY towards TOWY POST

+

Met by fire from 14 machine guns.

Garrison of WATER POST retire.

Battalion flank swung back to run along THAMES ALLEY (including THAMES POST) and thence along NAVAL LINE.

Enemy advancing in great numbers through GAVRELLE outflanked WATER POST. They entered the NAVAL LINE north of BELVOIR ALLEY

+

The remaining garrison of TOWY POST, 3 Officers and 25 Other Ranks bomb their way down TOWY ALLEY to reach the NAVAL LINE.

Enemy in large numbers in WILLIE SUPPORT bombing towards TOWY POST

+

Lancashire Fusiliers (on the right) were driven out of HUMID TRENCH and fell back over the open to TOWY ALLEY and the BAILLEUL – WILLERVAL LINE.

The garrison of the NAVAL LINE south of TOWY ALLEY swing back to form a defensive flank in TOWY ALLEY.

The block in front of the junction of TOWY and NAVAL blown out by own artillery.

Enemy advance in lines shoulder to shoulder and penetrated the right flank (‘A’ Post)

Enemy swarm into the NAVAL TRENCH and captured or killed the garrison between GAVRELLE ROAD and the south.

+

Block on extreme left forced and the enemy linked up all along the NAVAL LINE

+

Resistance centred on THAMES POST, PELICAN POST and KEILLAR POST.

All survivors from the trench in front and Battalion HQ manned the berms, sump pits and firesteps of both Communication Trenches.

Garrisons fall back to the BAILLEUL – WILLERVAL LINE.

Enemy advanced over the open North of THAMES, between THAMES and TOWY and south of TOWY ALLEY.

By degrees the enemy encircled THAMES POST and KEILLAR POST.

11.00

Retiring men reinforced the 2nd London’s in BAILLEUL – WILLERVAL LINE and established bombing blocks in THAMES ALLEY and TOWY ALLEY some 300yds East of the line. CASTLEFORD POST still intact

11.00 to 18.30

Situation comparatively quiet.

Some desultory shelling and movement by small parties

18.30

Brigade reorganised according to Battalion strengths.

Battalion took over from the Light Railway (southern Brigade boundary), in touch with the Essex Regiment (4th Division) to the Gavrelle Road in touch with 2nd London’s, also holding CASTLEFORD POST and the block East of it.

Night

CASTLEFORD POST evacuated and about 100yds of THAMES CT filled in from about 30yds east of our wire. Similarly for TOWY ALLEY.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

168th Brigade. 1/4th London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) Summary

The actions of the battalion and enemy on the 28th March 1918.

Key

Time or + which indicates an event at a later time but before the next actual time

Battalion action Or report

Enemy action or report in italics

_________________

03.00

Forward area was hardly affected by this shelling. No casualties

Heavy shelling with gas and later with HE on BOW TRENCH and OUSE ALLEY.

05.00

Blocks in OUSE ALLEY were lowered and extra rum and small arms ammunition issued to men.

05.40

OUSE ALLEY and the EARL-MARQUIS LINE at first escaped attention, but later came in for a fair share of the shelling.

Heavy bombardment with Trench Mortars and Howitzers on the Front Line Posts.

07.30

SOS wired from OPPY POST and then the other two a few minutes later.

SOS Mortars fired from WOOD POST, BEATTY POST and both Battalion HQs.

OUSE ALLEY was manned by this time.

Enemy advance over the open to the left of OPPY WOOD; seen from Forward Battalion HQ.

07.30 to

OPPY POST Report

Trench mortars caused many casualties before the actual attack.

Rifle and Lewis Gun fire caused many casualties; one Lewis Gun being fired from the hip!

Those that escaped came back along BEDFORD ROW and BOYNE TRENCH, they then manned the MARQUIS LINE.

Garrison: 2 Officers, 48 Other Ranks

Returned: 1 Officer, 5 Other Ranks

The enemy were very close to the post and swamped it almost from the start.

07.30 to 08.30

WOOD POST Report

The bombardments did not touch the new post but fell well in front of the old post.

They were met by heavy rifle fire and fire from 2 Lewis Guns.

Forced them back with No. 23 Grenades.

The enemy were checked in the wood and on the left.

Stretcher Bearers were working in the WOOD.

As ammunition and Grenades were getting short he survivors withdrew along BEDFORD ROW and BOYNE TRENCH to the MARQUIS LINE.

Garrison: 2 Officers, 45 Other Ranks

Returned: 1 Officer, 15 Other Ranks

Enemy advance in an extended line (~2 paces) over the open ground on the left of the wood. They came through the wood in groups of 10 men about 50 yards apart. Further groups of 30 men followed 200 yards behind the first line.

Attempted to force the block in the communications trench leading from the old to the new post.

Captured BEATTY POST and working around WOD POST from NEW CUT.

Enemy worked along NEW CUT and BAKER STREET and captured the Platoon HQ dugout.

Sergeant Frank Udall MM and two bars was 80 yards behind the front line post, behind him were two or three Vickers machine guns.

07.30 to 07.45

BEATTY POST Report

Post badly damaged by Trench Mortars.

Rapid fire caused many casualties.

Survivors withdrew via BAKER STREET to the MARQUIS LINE over the open

Garrison: 3 Officers, 84 Other Ranks

Returned: 1 Officer, 6 Other Ranks

Enemy advanced in much the same way as reported by WOOD POST. Some of the leading line fired rifle grenades from their hips.

Enemy worked around the right flank and got into MARINE TRENCH and OUSE ALLEY in great numbers eventually swamping the garrison.

+

Narrative states that WOOD POST held out for about an hour inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. Their good work probably saved the MARQUIS-LINE being over-run on the right near the Forward Battalion HQ.

+

After the posts had been lost the MARQUIS LINE easily held up the enemy.

Major FA Philips orders 2/Lieut OC Hudson’s platoon to form a defensive flank. This position inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy which it caught in enfilade as they broke through over EARL to VISCOUNT STREET .

2/Lieut OC Hudson’s platoon in the MARQUIS LINE astride OUSE ALLEY to form a defensive flank. A rehearsed process manning a block in OUSE ALLEY to the front, in EARL to the right and firesteps facing right along OUSE ALLEY.

This flank was continued by HQ details manning firesteps in OUSE ALLEY and a block near the Aid Post in SOUTH DUKE STREET

On the right the enemy were strongly established in the EARL LINE and VISCOUNT STREET about 15min after zero.

08.20

Aeroplane bombs EARL and OUSE ALLEY, also drops small (1ft diameter) white parachute

09.00

CO orders Reserve Company to send one Platoon to man OUSE ALLEY in front of the BELFAST Machine Gun.

Engage enemy parties on the ridge.

Remainder of Reserve Company ordered to bomb up OUSE ALLEY to join Maj FA Phillips and complete the defensive flank.

HQ detail ordered to take small arms ammunition to the front line if the Reserve Company succeeds.

Attack pushed 400yds up the trench, but stopped due the enemy on their right.

A party was left in the trench and on firesteps to hold up the enemy.

The rest of the Reserve Company moved over the open ground to the left of OUSE ALLEY towards BOYNE DUMP to take up small arms ammunition to the front line.

Enemy in VISCOUNT STREET

Stragglers from London Rifle Brigade report the enemy coming down OUSE ALLEY.

Enemy were pressing over the open from the right

09.30

Major FA Philips counter attacked with about 20 HQ details under heavy fire. The enemy were ejected and a block established in OUSE ALLEY towards VISCOUT STREET. This wsa successfully defended with grenades by a party under Sjt Udall

Strong enemy party seen working up OUSE ALLEY from VISCOUT STREET.

+

The centre of the MARQUIS LINE was attacked, but not pressed until the WOOD POST garrison withdrew.

Well directed rifle and Lewis Gun fire from the MARQUIS LINE prevented the enemy from debouching.

Rifle Grenades were used on NEW CUT and BAKER STREET where the enemy had established himself.

Large volume of rifle fire from OPPY WOOD

+

On the left of the MARQUIS LINE excellent targets on the left of the WOOD were engaged with the Lewis Gun doing most excellent work.

Next 3 hours

Large umber of dead seen between WOOD TRENCH and BEALE TRENCH

Defence of the line was ably carried out by Cpt H N Williams.

The Lewis Gun in the Bank had run out of ammunition but reinforced by a few men it they ejected the enemy with rifle fire and grenades.

Enemy twice broke into BOYNE but were thrown out.

Enemy broke in on the left from CLARENCE TRENCH

11.00

Forward troops marshalled by Maj FA Philips hold the MARQUIS LINE beating off attacks to the front and hold a block on the left.

On the right enemy pressure was considerable, but he was held up in EARL and SOUTH DUKE STREET

Enemy hold VISCOUNT STREET on the right and pushing on towards the RED LINE.

Field Gun brought up to NE corner of OPPY WOOD

+

The artillery shelled EARL TRENCH to good effect. Heavy artillery was seen to do good work on OPPY WOOD

11.30

Front Line position precarious.

Senior Officers decided to withdraw down the valley from BOYNE DUMP. They were met by the Reserve Company in OUSE ALLEY who then withdrew.

Men in BOW TRENCH near the Battalion HQ dealt with advanced enemy parties

Enemy reinforced in OPPY WOOD.

Enemy in great strength in VISCOUNT STREET and pushing on the right, thus threatening to cut off OUSE ALLEY.

Small parties on the ridge and one man on the Railway.

+

Seven killed by Sjt with Lewis Gun in the bank firing into a slit cut in OUSE ALLEY

Strong enemy party attack the block in BOW TRENCH

+

All troops were back in BOW TRENCH or the RED LINE therefore the barrage was dropped to about 400yds in front of the line. It was to be intensified if a SOS was fired from Battalion HQ

Small parties worked up the valley and fired White Very Lights

next hour

Lull in fighting

+

BOW TRENCH handed over to London Scottish.

Battalion to withdraw to the RAILWAY EMBANKMENT

16.00

Enemy shell RED LINE

18.00

Withdrawal completed Battalion reorganised into two Companies.

Arranged to man the BROWN LINE and Posts to the south of the Bailleul Road should the enemy push through the RED LINE.

168th Brigade. 1/13th London Regiment (Kensington’s) Summary

The actions of the battalion and enemy on the 28th March 1918.

Key

Time or + which indicates an event at a later time but before the next actual time

Battalion action Or report

Enemy action or report in italics

_________________

Early morning

Took over line from TOMMY POST (Inclusive) North to TIRED ALLEY

03.00

The last company passed through the Red Line without casualties

Heavy Gas Bombardment of RED LINE

4.30

Bombardment to immediate South was so heavy it was obvious that a general attack was imminent.

+

Attack on battalions front thought to be unlikely! Support Company in RAILWAY TRENCH warned to be prepared to from defensive flank Southward on TOMMY ALLEY

Considerable Trench Mortar activity against TOMMY POST.

07.00

SOS from TOWY POST. General attack as far North as OPPY POST

+

Lewis Gun fire drives off attack by ~50 enemy on TOMMY POST

+

Platoon in TOMMY POST did considerable execution with Lewis Gun and rifle Grenades on enemy supports moving up behind Oppy and those occupying OPPY POST

09.00

Right company posted Bombers to protect their right flank.

Support Company moved to TOMMY TRENCH, from OLD KENT ROAD (Held by Right company) to SUGAR POST, facing south.

1st company Canadian Mounted Rifles in SUGAR POST came under command.

Enemy reported in CLARENCE and BEALE TRENCHES

09.30

C/O 4th London’s stated he would start a counter attack to clear MARQUIS and CLARENCE TRENCHES. Right company to support this attack by bombing down BEALE and MARQUIS TRENCHES

12.15

Counter attack just started when ordered to withdraw to RED LINE. Halted attack but ordered Right Company to hold its position to cover the withdrawal. The remainder of the battalion to withdraw by TOMMY and TIRED ALLEYS.

1st company Canadian Mounted Rifles in SUGAR POST came under battalion orders

14.30

Withdrawal to RED LINE completed Right on OUSE SIDING (OUSE SIDING held by London Scottish).

One platoon left in ARLEUX LOOP NORTH to make demonstrations.

Battalion HQ in unsatisfactory position in RED LINE, but on buried cable route. (the only other position on this cable route being DURHAM POST which is outside the Battalion area and on extreme left)

16.30

In touch with 43rd Canadian Battalion on left (Junction of PLUMMER TRENCH and TIRED ALLEY held by Canadians)

18.00

One company placed under orders of OC London Scottish to hold BAILLEUL DEFENSES.

Remaining four companies hold 1800yds of the REDLINE from OUSE SIDING to TIRED ALLEY

Afternoon and night

Strong patrols sent down TOMMY and TIRED ALLEYS as far as old Company HQ.

Patrols very active all night

Enemy quiet except for gas shelling of REDLINE and the Railway Embankment.

Dusk

Enemy appear to be ignorant of battalion’s withdrawal.

168th Brigade. 1/13th London Regiment (Kensington’s) Summary

The actions of the battalion and enemy on the 28th March 1918.

Key

Time or + which indicates an event at a later time but before the next actual time

Battalion action Or report

Enemy action or report in italics

_________________

Early morning

Took over line from TOMMY POST (Inclusive) North to TIRED ALLEY

03.00

The last company passed through the Red Line without casualties

Heavy Gas Bombardment of RED LINE

4.30

Bombardment to immediate South was so heavy it was obvious that a general attack was imminent.

+

Attack on battalions front thought to be unlikely! Support Company in RAILWAY TRENCH warned to be prepared to from defensive flank Southward on TOMMY ALLEY

Considerable Trench Mortar activity against TOMMY POST.

07.00

SOS from TOWY POST. General attack as far North as OPPY POST

+

Lewis Gun fire drives off attack by ~50 enemy on TOMMY POST

+

Platoon in TOMMY POST did considerable execution with Lewis Gun and rifle Grenades on enemy supports moving up behind Oppy and those occupying OPPY POST

09.00

Right company posted Bombers to protect their right flank.

Support Company moved to TOMMY TRENCH, from OLD KENT ROAD (Held by Right company) to SUGAR POST, facing south.

1st company Canadian Mounted Rifles in SUGAR POST came under command.

Enemy reported in CLARENCE and BEALE TRENCHES

09.30

C/O 4th London’s stated he would start a counter attack to clear MARQUIS and CLARENCE TRENCHES. Right company to support this attack by bombing down BEALE and MARQUIS TRENCHES

12.15

Counter attack just started when ordered to withdraw to RED LINE. Halted attack but ordered Right Company to hold its position to cover the withdrawal. The remainder of the battalion to withdraw by TOMMY and TIRED ALLEYS.

1st company Canadian Mounted Rifles in SUGAR POST came under battalion orders

14.30

Withdrawal to RED LINE completed Right on OUSE SIDING (OUSE SIDING held by London Scottish).

One platoon left in ARLEUX LOOP NORTH to make demonstrations.

Battalion HQ in unsatisfactory position in RED LINE, but on buried cable route. (the only other position on this cable route being DURHAM POST which is outside the Battalion area and on extreme left)

16.30

In touch with 43rd Canadian Battalion on left (Junction of PLUMMER TRENCH and TIRED ALLEY held by Canadians)

18.00

One company placed under orders of OC London Scottish to hold BAILLEUL DEFENSES.

Remaining four companies hold 1800yds of the REDLINE from OUSE SIDING to TIRED ALLEY

Afternoon and night

Strong patrols sent down TOMMY and TIRED ALLEYS as far as old Company HQ.

Patrols very active all night

Enemy quiet except for gas shelling of REDLINE and the Railway Embankment.

Dusk

Enemy appear to be ignorant of battalion’s withdrawal.

168th Brigade. 1/14th London Regiment (London Scottish) Summary

The actions of the battalion and enemy on the 28th March 1918.

Key

Time or + which indicates an event at a later time but before the next actual time

Battalion action Or report

Enemy action or report in italics

_________________

+

In support of 1/4th London’s

03.00

Gas and High Explosive barrage commenced.

Gas concentrations on B.14, 15, 20, 21

05.30

SOS from TOWY POST

07.00

Clear morning but advanced trenches enveloped in dense cloud of smoke.

SOS from OPPY POST.

SOS from whole of 169th Brigade front

Infantry advanced

07.30

Counter attacked driving the enemy back and re-taking two machine guns which had been captured from a detachment of the Machine Gun Corps.

Stokes Mortars in RED LINE and 6 inch Newton Mortars near Bailleul were very effective against NORTH TYNE ALLEY

Engaged by vanguard of bombing parties in TYNE ALLEY and NORTH TYNE ALLEY. They capture 2 Machine Guns and get within 100yds of BAILLEUL EAST POST

08.00

1/4th London’s having withdrawn form the front line to the EARL-MARQUIS Line had both flanks turned. They were forced back across open ground to BOW TRENCH and TOMMY ALLEY

Enemy in CLARENCE TRENCH

A series of determined raids on BAILLEUL EAST POST were beaten off

08.15

One platoon ‘C’ company took up position in RED LINE astride OUSE ALLEY. The remainder move into BOW TRENCH.

09.00

Company of 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles holding SUGAR POST come under orders of O/C London Scottish

10.05

One platoon ‘C’ Company moved to BAILLEUL EAST POST under orders of ‘D’ Company.

The platoon holding the REDLINE astride OUSE ALLEY moved into BOW TRENCH; one platoon of ‘B’ Company taking over the vacated trench.

10.30

Driven back by rifle and Lewis Gun fire

Enemy advance on BAILLEUL EAST POST in open order astride Gavrelle - Bailleul Road.

Several more such attacks made.

14.45 to 17.00 +

BAILLEUL EAST POST and the RED LINE in the vicinity of OUSE ALLEY were heavily shelled with 4.2 and 5.9

15.00

The other platoon of ‘B’ Company was moved forward into BOW TRENCH.

‘A’ Company moved to the RED LINE between OUSE SIDING and OUSE ALLEY

17.00

SOS barrage called for.

Shelling intensified

Night

416th (Edinburgh) Field Company RE tried to construct two new posts 200yds west of BAILLEUL EAST POST but was forced to abandon them by enemy fire.

One company Kensington’s moved into vacant BAILLEUL DEFENCES.

Two platoons 1/5th Cheshire’s holding CHESTER POST moved into RED LINE north of BAILLEUL EAST POST.

One platoon 1/4th Royal Fusiliers took over CHESTER POST

167th Brigade Summary

The actions of the three battalions of the support brigade and the enemy on the 28th March 1918.

Key

Time or + which indicates an event at a later time but before the next actual time

Battalion action Or report

Enemy action or report in italics

_________________

+

Battalion in support

07.00

Moved to Assembly position

08.45

Ordered to CHAUTECLER JUNCTION

09.25

In position

11.10

Under 169th Brigade. Lt Hargraves and 3 runners go to 169th HQ

11.30 to 12.30

‘C’ Company have 4 killed

Trenches heavily shelled.

17.00

C/O reconnoitred TONGUE POST and POINT DU JOUR in view of a possible counter attack.

19.00

C/O to Brigade HQ

21.55

Ordered to RED LINE

12.00

First company moved off

167th Brigade. 1/8th Middlesex Regiment Summary

+

The Battalion remained in Support all day.

+

Battalion moved to Assembly Area at JUNCTION REDOUBT

+

From there the Battalion moved to MAISON BLANCHE and came under orders of 169th Brigade thence to POINT DU JOUR.

167th Brigade. 1/1st London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) Summary

+

(Battalion in support)

B’ & ‘C’ companies moved to BRIERLEY HILL

‘A’ & ‘D’ manned GREEN LINE

HQ moved from CUTTING to RIDGE POST and then to BRIERLEY HILL B14.a.24

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone for the info on the opposing forces.

I have mislaid my own info; its somewhere on my hard disc :unsure:

I still have a few posts to make so I plan to review the info you have supplied later, after I get back from Bailleul!

Bob

I've found it :rolleyes:

24th March

A captured German said that the 101st and 102nd Reserve Regiments belonging to the 219th and 23rd (Reserve) Divisions, from Riga, had occupied the Wotan Stellung behind the front line. These divisions were to attack together with the 240th and 5th Bavarian Divisions on the 26th March. The 471st Regiment had 60 trench mortars in position with 8 more trench mortar companies due on the 25th.

Post Battle

Captured German Officers were from 152nd IR(infantry regiment?), 41st Division and 16th IR.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Field Artillery Summary 28th March 1918

The field artillery of the 56th division consisted of the 281 and 280 Brigades RFA covering 5000yds between Gavrelle and Arleux.

The 52 Brigade AFA were on their immediate left and came to their assistance.

The 4th Division Canadian Field Artillery were on Vimy Ridge and also provided assistance.

Field guns in line 45 x 18 pounders and 12 x 4.5 howitzers

The actions of the artillery brigades and enemy on the 28th March 1918.

Key

Time or + which indicates an event at a later time but before the next actual time

Battalion action Or report

Enemy action or report in italics

_________________

281Brigade RFA

03.30

Heavy enemy barrage. Gas & HE of all calibre on 56th Div front.

03.50

Barrage on SOS lines put down by group.

04.15

B281 detached section put out of action by gas & direct hits by HE on guns.

06.00

A281 shelled with gas

06.20

109 suffer casualties

07.15

SOS from Towie(y) Post

07.30

General SOS

08.15

Severe fighting reported in Earl Marquis Line

09.00

Tommy Post. Enemy dispersed by A281 barrage.

Enemy in Tyne Alley to B.23.a.9.3

09.15

Enemy in Clarence and Brum sliut(?) – D281 barrage

10.15

1 Company London Scottish advance from Red Line to Support.

10.30

Enemy make bombing attack down Clarence Trench. D281 stop it.

2 casualties reported by D

Limbers move up to old Wagon Lines

10.35

50 enemy infantry about B.18.c central – D281 fire on them

10.45

Liaison officer reports we have bombed back up Ouse Alley to South Duke.

11.15

Red Line Barrage + 200yds opened - Protection

11.45

Enemy attack reported to be breaking up under 18 pounder barrage & rifle fire. A281 switches S. of Ouse alley.

General situation reported good. Right Brigade hold red line & posts 300yds in front of it.

12.00

122nd(52 AFA) & D281 Batteries stop shooting N. of Ouse Alley on account of our men coming back.

12.10

Red Line ordered to be held at all costs.

12.15

Enemy reported massing in old front line.

Enemy batteries advancing into open. Engaged with good effect by our own gunners.

13.00 to 14.00

Quieter(?) - much target practise by Group and heavies.

14.10

Captain Wolfe reported wounded.

14.30

Another abortive enemy attack.

Front gradually quietens down

17.00

Move D281 back behind ridge

23.00

109 & B281 move over to left.

56th Division less artillery relieved by 4th Canadian Division

_________________

280 Brigade RFA

Previous evening

D/280 withdrawn from forward to rear position

03.00

Opened intense barrage on front at the same time putting a terrific barrage on the Battery Positions.

07.20 to 14.00

Fighting ensued without cessation until 2pm when the Germans forced there way through our 1st defensive system.

Three guns of the A/280 were knocked out at an early hour, and many casualties suffered.

Heavy fire was poured into the advancing enemy and into the hostile guns endeavouring to advance into action

10.00

Our Infantry were compelled to retire to the second line of resistance. This operation involved the abandonment of the forward section of the 93rd Battery. Accordingly orders were sent to the Officer in Charge. He fired all his ammunition, and when our own barrage descended on his guns he blew them up as well as is dugouts, and retired with his detachments, bringing away his wounded

An Observation Post was established on the ridge by using a combination of runners and telephone line.

12.00

4.5’s did great exercise against masses of enemy at junction of Bailleul – Gavrelle Road and Marine Trench.

109th Battery rejoined the Group as the 281st Brigade were reinforced by A/52

14.00

4.5’s silenced enemy 7.7cm battery in front of Bradford Post.

Later 18 pounders dealt with masses in wire at Gavrelle and in the sunken Bailleul – Gavrelle Road.

Afternoon

A local attack on the Bailleul – Willerval line failed in the afternoon.

15.30

Repulsed heavy attack on Bailleul East Post

Night

All batteries except D/280 withdrawn to positions selected to cover the Bailleul – Willerval line.

109th Battery left the Group and B/281 took there place.

Ammunition re-supply was arranged by wagon and pack form the old forward Wagon Line in front of Roclincourt.

_________________

52 Brigade AFA

03.00

Enemy commence Gas and HE Bombardment along whole Division front.

+

3rd Canadian Infantry section into Red Line to conform to the 56th Div.

Strong enemy attack on Division on our R which penetrated our front line system, but were held up on the Battle Line(?).

Small enemy attacks on this part were driven off.

Night

D/52 join the remainder of Brigade in B13.

The forward section of 122 Battery withdraw to rejoin their Battery.

_________________

4th Division CFA

03.00

The 4th Canadian Divisional artillery came into action reinforcing the 56th Divisional Artillery, who remain in.

Heavy shelling on right brigade of 3rd Canadian Division on our right.

10.00

Relief of 4th Canadian Division ordered by 46th Division I Corps.

+

Relief of 56th Division ordered for the night of 29th/30th March.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Casualties reported on 28th March 1918

169th Brigade.

1/2nd London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)

Officers 2 Wounded

Other Ranks 76 (Mainly due to shell fire but none to gas)

1/5th London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade)

Battalion fighting strength on reaching the RED LINE reduced from

23 Officers and 564 Other Ranks to

8 Officers and 60 Other Ranks mainly from the Battalion HQ detail

This was reported at 09.30!

1/16th London Regiment (Queen’s Westminster Rifles)

Officers 5 wounded (1 from 21st London), 3 missing (1 from 9th London, 1 from USA)

Other Ranks 18 Killed, 56 wounded, 8 wounded and missing

1 reinforcement

167th Brigade.

1/7th Middlesex Regiment

Other Ranks 6 killed, 14 wounded

1/8th Middlesex Regiment

Officers 2 killed

Other Ranks 2 killed, 7 wounded

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0