At Armentiers–Bogen

As a well-rested, battle ready group the regiment should be deployed in a very active battle zone. One symptom of this war, that had not shown up before, halted this plan. Already during our days at the Gavrelle positions the flu had severely weakened the fighting battle of some companies. But now, everybody, with a few exceptions, had caught the flu and so the regiment went to their quarters, instead of the front. The Ist battalion went to Libercour (east of Carvin, close to the A1), the IInd battalion went to Wahagnies and the IIIrd to Neuville-en-Pahelmpin.

Sadly, this period of rest did not last long, since the health conditions improved quickly and soon the regiment was ordered to relieve the 126th I.R. of the 39th I.D. stationed at North-Arrewage, west of Vieux Berquin – Neuf Berquin during the 12th until the 15th of July. The first introduction to this area came in the form of the fire positions map, on which the severely hit areas were painted in a blood red color. Together with the mixed feelings a sense of curiosity formed. These positions lay in a recently conquered area and we were excited to see how Tommy’s area fitted into this. Our fears were put to the background because of our curiosity, especially since the rumor went that our positions were amidst intact potato fields. After the forward groups had marched off a day earlier, the battalions, without their luggage, were loaded onto trains at the Phalempin railroad station on the 12th until the 14th of July, and were transported via Seelin – Lilles – Armentiers to Bac-St.-Maur. The luggage reached our new quarters being transported in by foot. In the night of 12/13th of July the IInd/187 relieved the 126th I.R. rest battalion. Were relieved in the night of 13/14th of July themselves after which they relieved the 126th I.R. backup battalion. In the night of the 14/15th the IIIrd/187 relieved the Ist/187 in rest, Ist/187 relieved IInd/187 in backup, which in it’s turn relieved the frontline battalions of the 126th I.R. After the constant shot-up environments without usable or sheltering trenches and deep shelters we found a completely different environment here. There were no trenches or shelters, but shot up houses and many impact craters showed that the war raged here as well. But the waving corn fields, planted by the Tommies, provided the area with a friendly view. Although the potato fields with their contents were less pleasing to the eyes,  they added extra meals besides our improved field kitchen food and made our positions more comfortable. The battle battalions installed themselves in the craters in the corn- and wheat fields and the backup battalion occupied the trenches behind quickset hedge. The rest battalion was able to install itself in farmhouses near Troubayard, so that at least during the rest period the troops had acceptable accommodations.

Sketch of the occupation area in July 1918

After four days of installation, the battalions relieved each other, later the time was lengthened to 10 days. Infantry remained calm on both sides. The artillery remained calm during day time as well, but with the advent of twilight they would shell the streets of Vieux Berquin and the access roads making food transport, field kitchen work and re-supply actions very difficult. On the 19th of July, suddenly at about 8 in the morning barrage flares were fired, immediately afterwards again in our zone followed by infantry-, machinegun- and hand grenade fire across the entire front, after which the barrage fire of our artillery and mortar batteries also began. The IIIrd battalion, in their role of backup battalion, immediately moved forward towards the staff bunker, readying for a counterstrike. The IInd battalion, as rest battalion, moved forward towards the backup positions. But what was going on at the front?

The following article in the army newspaper shows:

„These guys are hearing birds whistle. (these guys are crazy)“
Wide and attractive, the dark green edge of the Nieppe wood is visible in the July morning light. And like a thick blanket, interrupted from time to time by small areas of potato fields, harvest ready corn fields swarm around like the blond pigtails of the women from our northern coast. Sometimes, quick blue treasures fly over there.

Ripe cornfields – the sign of peaceful work, the fruits of a fertile soil. And yet, it is a damned soil, left behind by peace.

Quiet and silent. But movement has come in this quiet cornfield area. Just like countless animals escaped from the woods and made their way across them.

Here and there, holes in the ground appear in the corn fields, like mole-hills, earth piles. A hand with below their edges a pair of eyes appear, peeping over the edge of the earth pile, staring straight ahead, like the helmsman of a steam liner.

Then, a murmuring and whispering like the movement further in the corn fields „Hey look!, Look, what is sat?“

And many dozens of eyes stare sharply and alerted. The helmets are not moving. But down in the earth pile, lower-German fists and rifle hands move, reaching for hand grenades at their sides. A lower-German battalion is getting ready for an approaching enemy. Just some of them, from middle- and east German areas, are amongst them, like dots of paint, used by the painter to highlight the background color.

Like flows of water in the sand the trails of the forest animals creep nearer and nearer through the corn fields. Suddenly, along the entire line from some 20 meters away, from hundreds of throats was called towards the Germans: „Hands up! Put down your weapons!“.

All hell breaks loose. From the fertile fields thousands of flashes and shots. The curse that hit this soil screams out loudly. Hand grenades cover the ground in thick, white clouds of smoke and behind the forward lines of the Germans the impacts of the English barrage fire.

Our lower-Germans were not lazy. They didn’t sleep, as the English were told. They missunderstand the enemy „hands up“ call. Aggressive machinegun fire and hand grenades were their answer. That cleaned out the corn fields quite well. Now, where the corn had obscured the presence of the English, hand to hand combat was going on. Here, Vzefeldwebel Baeskow from Berlin, together with two couriers defended themselves against a dozen khaki brown men. Only a few of them succeeded to save themselves in the cornfield. There was Unteroffizier Schmalmack from Meetzen at Rendsburg with a number of his men including private Ekkehard standing up behind his machine gun, while another is un-jamming the gun, throwing hand grenades until an enemy shot severely injured him. In the same moment the machine gun was firing. From the right wing, under enemy fire, Sanitäts-Feldwebel Greulich from Kiel, who saw him fall, crawled towards him and patched him up with a first aid bandage for saving his life.

From one of the holes a gunner suddenly jumped up and ran towards the rear like he was possessed. „Where are you going, Riesenberg?“ one shouted to him. Breathlessly running the Hamburger cried back „I’m getting ammo, I’m getting ammo!“. Indeed, after a short time, he returned from the rear, pulling 4 full ammo boxes with him, where 2 boxes are a heavy load for one men alone, unharmed.

At the 3rd company, Unteroffizier Buch from Albersdorf in Dithmarschen, felt he could not cover enough ground with his machinegun and jumped up and fired into the close enemy formations standing up, until he was injured himself. Immediately gunner Gremski from Bergedorf jumped towards him, but also fell. Without hesitation, a third, gunner Rockmann from Panfelde at Mansfelder Kreis jumped towards them but was also shot. This was seen by Leutnant Loth, who together with his batman Sascheck from Weißenburg in Ostpreußen, emptied one pistol magazine after another thus forcing back large numbers of enemy soldiers. Sascheck was killed, Leutnant Loth has been alone. A second pistol were empty, one jump and Loth had the machinegun of Unteroffizier Buch. Gunner Sargolla, came with two jumps at the side of the Leutnant. Now the machinegun was targeting the cornfield and the Tommy.

During this battle, both stretcher bearers Falkenhagen from Flensburg and Nieber from Visselhövede near Bremen had answered the calls of the injured Rockmann, had given him first aid. When they saw that he would not survive his triple injuries when he was not brought back immediately, they death defyingly brought him back, using all cover they could use. Who cares about artillery- and infantry fire when a comrade’s life must be saved!

At the right wing of the battalion Leutnant Immer from the Emden region saw the enemy in a disorganized retreat. He gave chase through the corn field with his platoon. They reached a clear stretch near the enemy forward lines. Immer ordered his platoon to halt and frontal fire. He remembered that he had to take prisoners and continued forwards alone, while calling „Who wants to go with me?“, Both wings followed him like one man. They broke through the enemy lines, cleared them and captured 8 English men. Unteroffizier Munz from Rendsburg moved further forwards, clearing out an enemy machine gun nest. Gefreiter Tharmhayn and Musketier Krysmanski from Glasdorf in Pommem and Rummler followed. Rummler was hit immediately in the neck. The other three killed the 6 English men at the machine gun nest with hand grenades and brought the machine gun back with them.  But they were targeted by a machine gun from the enemy’s main position and Munz fell. The others returned. But after a few minutes Krymanski yelled „I’m getting our Unteroffizier back!“. Musketier Karll from Mölln in Lauenburg: „I’m going with you!“. They crawled back, slowly, staying down. One wrong move and a machine gun hit would be the result. Two hours passed. Then they returned, both brave men, crawling like snakes, pulling their dead Unteroffizier behind them. German comradery beyond death.

The enemy attack was halted. Well over one hundred dead Englishmen covered the field. The entire day wounded enemies moaned and screamed from the field in front of us. English stretcher bearers crawling amongst them. Our lower Germans were feeling great, this was a job they were cut out for.

„Man, they are hearing birds whistle! (these guys are crazy!)“ a company runner, when he brought a report to the battalion, called to his comrades while smiling. „They come here without artillery, in broad daylight! Did those guys think we’re all sleeping here? Look who kicked their butts now.“

Only one men was captured uninjured at one position by the English. Musketier Nuß from the Vogtland area. And just as the night had turned the corn fields into a thick black wall, from the darkness, in a Vogtland accent someone yelled to the Germans: „Don’t shoot! Don’t Shoot! I’m coming back, I escaped from captivity!“.

It was our brave Musketier, suitably named Nuß. The English, who had captured him, got caught up in German artillery fire. Nuß cry loud and let himself fall and rolled into a crater. The fleeing English left him behind. When they had left, Nuß raised his head and carefully peeked across the crater’s edge. No English around. „Idiots!“ he laughed. He had tricked them, he had played dead and they fell for it as he proudly told his comrades at night.

In the cornfields at the front a loud rustling sound could be heard. Dark figures carrying something could be seen al night. The English were searching for their wounded men, retrieving them where possible.

Their lust for a new surprise attack had been tempered for some time by the lower German treatment.

The state of alert ended around the afternoon. The rest battalion returned to her quarters and the backup battalion returned to their former positions. Only the 9th company had to remain in the farms at the Rue Pruvost – Fe. Du Prince road and take up positions there. The enemy infantry had burned their fingers on us and left us alone, only the enemy artillery kept bothering us. The English by now had to know that we were preparing for a large attack. Numerous ammunitions convoys brought in countless quantities of munitions every night, close to the front and regularly a large bright flare of flames would show yet another munitions dump fall prey to enemy artillery. Although we had not been informed, everybody knew that these quantities of ammo, together with the calibration of artillery batteries by artillery officers meant that we were preparing for a large attack. The rumors of an imminent attack spread very fast and the wildest assumptions surface. From day to day the tension rose, everybody was excited about an upcoming campaign war. But one day, the munitions convoys stopped. Even more strange, some convoys started taking the painstakingly built up supplies back again. What was happening? One feared something bad had happened and some even feared Germany had been defeated. The war reports announced recoils at the Marne river. The hope of an offensive was gone and everybody believes about an attack of the enemy But the English also appeared to be worried about this sudden quietness. They were surely expecting a large attack any day now. They had increased their artillery barrage and sent their pilots in large quantities towards our positions for reconnaissance purposes. It was obvious that they could not provide their superiors with a satisfactory explanation. The regiment had an unpleasant experience with a gas attack on these positions. During the relieve of the IIIrd battalion by the IInd during the night of 6/7 August 1918, the lookouts noted a bright light near the enemy, followed by a hissing sound. Everyone recognized it and gasmasks were put on. Only the 7th company, still marching towards their relieve positions, had not noticed the light and the subsequent alarm. They had some casualties.

The first regiment staff quarters

From several signs, the high command expected a large enemy attack. Increased readiness was the order of the day. The battle battalion was ordered to pull back behind the Plate-Bach plains. The backup battalion was moved first forwards to the Laudick ditch, and than pulled back to Meteren-Bach behind the Doulieue-switch line and moved around in the area. The rest battalion was alerted, ordered forwards, then pulled back again to their quarters, followed by another alert. This didn’t improve the moral of the troops. The English, however, didn’t move. It became obvious that no enemy attack was imminent. The battle troops could therefore be spread out more, freeing up troops for the large combat area. The 187th was pulled back for this purpose on the night of 14/15th of August. The 188th regiment and the 170th regiment of the right side neighboring division (52 I.D.) took our places.

After a one day rest in farmhouses to the north of Estairs the regiment took over the largest part of the left side neighboring division. The rest relieved the 392nd regiment to the south of the Lys. The IInd Battalion moved into the rearguard positions with 3 companies at Bourre-Bach to the west of Merville, one company in the Karl-positions, the IIIrd battalion as battle battalion with 3 companies into the forward Karl-positions and one company in the Karl-positions; The Ist battalion as backup battalion in the Friedrich-positions to the west of Estaires. This position was noticeably quieter than the one at Neuf-Berquin, only Merville received strong enemy artillery fire, but the cellars there offered good protection.

On the 18th of August, the English attacked in waves and groups without artillery preparation. Perhaps they heard of our earlier retreat and wanted to see what was happening. But they were in for a surprise. Our posts at the western edge did have to pull back, but only after bringing the Tommy heavy losses by using machinegun and infantry fire. We set up our machineguns in the houses at the western edge of Merville and continued firing towards the English, making them retreat to their previous positions quickly.

In the night of 18/19th of August, the repositioning of the Merville front truly began, so that shortening the line would free up troops for the more important positions. The IInd battalion would leave two companies at Bourre-Bach as a rearguard battalion, both other companies were to rest at Barlette-Fe at the Rue Biache. Both other battalions would stay in their positions. Because of a mangled telephone conversation, the IInd battalion believed they were ordered to pull back with all companies and therefore cleared Merville before is was ordered by the regiment and marched into their rest quarters. The 8th company could be reached by the K.T.K. while still on march and were sent back to Merville. Besides this, the 11th company was moved forwards rapidly, so the order of the retreat would not be disturbed. Both companies reached the western edge of Merville without problems. The English also hadn’t noticed the retreat of the IInd battalion. The 8th company would remain in Merville for one day, then it also returned to it’s rest quarters leaving the 11th company to take the rear guard.


The backup positions in the hedges


                                      The staff shelter                                                              The new anti tank gun

The company leader of the 11th company, Leutnant Wittmack reported this message about the first day of the retreat.

„Hell brook loose, as we had ended our watch duty in the early  morning of the 19th of August and I was ready to return to my company leader’s shelter. On my right, shots were fired. A Tommy patrol had moved too far forwards and was caught up in a fight with one of our forward positions. The Tommy apparently did not know where we were exactly. His pilots were circling the place at low altitude, trying to find us. A German infantry airman was also circling above us, not worrying about the enemy anti-aircraft fire. There! – an unlucky coincidence! An explosion right in front of his propeller. He pulls up and then falls straight down in front of our lines. My right side assistant, Vizefeldwebel Schwien goes towards the crash site and just as he wants to walk around a block of houses, he sees the plane some 40 steps before him, surrounded by 25 to 30 unsuspecting Tommies, with more of them approaching. Quickly, he picks up a machinegun and sets it up pointing it through a grated window which offer a view on the crash site. While he is pointing it through the gratings one of the Tommies looks around and shouts a warning but already our good old gun spits fire. As if struck by lightning the gang spreads apart, throwing their guns and equipment away. A long Tommy, carrying a Lewis machinegun, had quietly been examining the pilot. But now! A lewis machinegun in the mud and he is running away, the results of a second of firing. In the mean time several cries of pain make clear that some bullets hit their targets. A little while later Vizefeldwebel Schwien crawls towards the pilot to investigate. He had surprised the Tommy during his body-snatching. The body of the pilot was robbed of all belongings, even his wristwatch, the indentation still visible on his wrist, had disappeared. He could only take the dead comrade’s identification-tag with him.

During the early afternoon, I received several visits. Our regiment commander, Oberstleutnant Scheuemann, with his adjutant, Oberleutnant Dose, arrived to hear our reports. We could only report that we had given the Tommies a good beating while they were scouting our positions. Then a liaison officer of the Artillery arrived, who we showed some artillery targets in the area. Amongst others, we had found a heavy English machinegun site. The first shot of our artillery was a meter off, the second one was a direct hit. We remained here in this area until late in the afternoon. Continuously, field reports about enemy moves came in. Continuously liaison patrols to our right and left neighbors were on the way, testing our connection. Every change was instantly relayed towards the rearguards to the high command and the artillery. Telephones, signal lamps and pigeons were at my disposal. During the day it became clear that our enemy tried to overrun our site, it’s bully, not by a frontal attack but in a surrounding motion. Our neighboring positions had pulled back in order to avoid strong enemy attacks. Had we stayed longer, we too would have been surrounded. Therefore I ordered a retreat towards the lines of our neighbors. We had no destruction orders left, since our engineers had already taken care of this. So I informed my posts that we would calmly –a fast retreat would have caused broken bones in these rubble piles- pull back towards the eastern edge of Merville. Here we dug in again to await the cover of darkness. The Tommy didn’t notice anything, no shooting, no patrols. At our left side we found two enemy companies and they were quickly and accurately greeted by our artillery. The Tommy artillery had been firing a few shots randomly in our direction during daytime. Around 9 o’clock in the evening their airplane squadrons approached again, searching for our positions. A beautiful sight, as they rushed down from the clouds like birds of prey and flew towards the sun setting in the west over the already evacuated town of Melville like black treasures. When darkness fell we moved back several hundreds of meters lining up with our neighbors. We were in the open fields, partially in old artillery positions. The gunners had cleared their positions so thoroughly, that I couldn’t find even the smallest shelter where I could light my pocket torch unseen. I had no other option but to light my torch in an impact crater, in order to orient myself using my map so I could report our new positions to the regiment. I received the order to pull back another kilometer and to connect to a machine gun nest located there. In this line we would then be relieved by our 12th company in the morning. They witnessed the same events. Tommy tried to move forwards everywhere, either with patrols, or with stronger platoons. On the main road, that runs across the right wing of the company from the west to the east, an English sergeant, with his map spread out in his hands, together with 8 men, calmly strolled towards us. The German post, that already spotted them, let them approach calmly. Only when the Tommy is only a few steps away, he jumps up with his gun pointed towards them. The surprised sergeant raised his hands, while his men fled away. When he tries to pull his pistol, he is already in the grasp of German fists. In the middle of our positions there was a machine gun nest with an undamaged shelter. This was already rigged up for demolition, only the fuse needed to be lit. The last couple of days, Tommy had been drawing nearer with stronger troops. When he revealed himself, he would be targeted by our artillery and the machinegun and dispersed. In spite this, on the late afternoon, he had reached it until 200 meters away. In order not to get caught in the shelter during darkness, the repositioning of the machine gun nest in a trench 200 meters to the north was prepared. As soon as twilight came, things got busy. As last action, the fuse was lit. Then a Tommy patrol, some 10 men strong, approached the nest. There! – an explosion, stones and metal raining down, a loud cry of pain from the Tommies. Our Machine gun nest had exploded. Vizefeldwebel Strom of the 12th company ceases the opportunity. Planning, decision and execution went as one. Something often mistaken for thoughtless handling. With a few men and a light machine gun he stormed forwards. 50 meters in front of the explosion site he ducks down and – tacktacktack fires before the Tommy had the chance to recuperate and reorganize. They start running away immediately, but two men get entangled in the barbed wire. Our men are quickly there. An English officer and one men, who was injured lightly, were brought back with cheers. The 21st of August proved to be a hot day for the 12th company. Attacking in battalion form, the English display an admirable stamina. Bravely the 12th company wards off the attacks and together with the artillery bring heavy casualties to the enemy, but overpowered, it still must evade towards the forward Karl-positions. Here we are to halt our withdrawal. Now we will see who has the upper hand here, whether the Tommy will still advance while we try to stop them. In the new lines, the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th company take up the front positions and have sent storm troops forwards. In order to guard themselves against surprises the companies press forwards in the evening and secure a frontal zone this way. On the 22nd of August at 8 o’clock in the morning I receive the message that our forward troops have pulled back. The Tommy is coming. Our artillery has started firing and like birds the shells fly through the morning sky, towards the attackers. I hurry from my observation post to the roof gutter of a house in the front line in order to scout the area. What is the front line here? A barbed wire fence, behind it a few machine gun positions in the field, no sign of trenches. Men are running up and down the fields. I see my platoon leader running in and out of the holes. While we are getting ready and try to spot the enemy: 20 meters before us the barbed wire, then a fence, a field, a fence again, a completely unmanageable area here at the left wing. –Then a Unteroffizier pokes me: „There!, There! Herr Leutnant!“. Only 20 meters from the barbed wire, 40 meters away from us 2 Tommies, visible for a moment near the fence. These Tommies are as cheeky as they are dumb, we agree. „Watch out! 40 meters ahead, enemy patrol!“ we yell to the machine gun to our right, it fires immediately. These two Tommies paid for their cheekiness with their lives. Further towards the right, Tommy approaches in waves. Even before our artillery can fire we see shells hit in their lines. The Tommy’s artillery are hitting their own men during their trial fires. And when it is done dispersing their own troops, it moves to the west towards their rear guards. Our men welcome this scene of course: „Right on, man! Hey, more of the same! We can live with this!“ they shout. This incident must have caused quite a family twist between the Tommies, since their artillery overshot our positions by at least 500 meters for the rest of the day, something we didn’t mind of course.


Street and church interior of Estaires

The English tried to break though our lines at the other companies as well, but they had little luck there as well. The companies allowed the English to reach the barbed wire fencing and then let their machine guns make a statement about line ownership, the Tommies would then disappear again back to where they came from. Only at the 10th company they succeeded in occupying a group of houses. This brought them little luck, as during the largest part of their occupation an effective shelling by the mortar groups precluded a German attack group’s effort to reclaim the houses. The largest part of the occupation force had been killed already by the mortar attacks, some men from the 61st English infantry division were taken, the rest fled quickly. This meant that we could hand over our positions to our relieve troops without problems. After the continuous patrol fights and the guard duties that followed them the battalion was given a few days of rest. That is why at the 22nd of August, the Ist battalion relieved the IIIrd battalion at the front of the Vorfeld-Karl-positions, after being relieved in the Friedrich-positions by the IInd battalion themselves. The IIIrd battalion marched calmly to Barlette-Fe, at the Rue Biache. As before, the Tommy tried to breach the lines of the Ist battalion at the Vorfeld-Karl-positions, but were repeatedly stopped without problems. This way the positions were held until the 28th of August despite the daily, fierce fights. Then the new repositioning of the frontline begun as ordered and the shorter front of Armentieres-Fleurbaix-La Bassee was formed. Already on the evening of the 27th of August, the IInd battalion moved two companies to the Karl-positions and remained at the Friedrich-positions with both other companies. The IIIrd battalion moved towards the Friedrich-positions with 2 companies and with both other companies to the protected Artillery positions at the east of Estaire. On the 28th of August, the Ist battalion cleared the Vorfeld-Karl-positions, leaving small patrols behind, who were reinforced with patrols of the IInd battalion, the 187th occupied the new main Armentieres-positions, that had to be held at all times, and started reinforcing these positions. On the 29th of August, English patrols attacked our small patrols at the Vorfeld-Karl positions. Our patrols defended themselves with great success, so that Tommy gained only a little area at the right wing. In the evening, the patrols were pulled back from that area, the IInd battalion cleared the Karl-positions and occupied the Armentieres-front close to the south of Fleurbaix. The IIIrd battalion remained behind as rear guard at Estaires. Insecurely and carefully, but sometimes also with calm steadiness, the Tommy progressed in a manner either of a foolhardiness or dullness. Our rear guard batteries, whose observer, Leutnant Heckendorf, F.A.R. 231, was with the company leader, fired with great accuracy at every, even small, target they could see and our machine guns popped up everywhere behind bushes and fences, shooting and then disappearing again. The English had to conquer every meter of ground at the expense of many casualties while we sustained only minor damage. How hard also the enemy airmen tried to find us, they didn’t know where we were. Since the enemy artillery had to do something, they targeted the streets of Estaires, where nobody was. Both the companies in the protected artillery positions worked hard with the engineers in order to destroy Estaires. They did well. No house, no basement was still intact and could serve as shelter for the English later. In the few shelters that were left standing, explosive devices with delayed timers were buried, that would go off 14 days later. The same was done to streets and bridges. Everything that was not destroyed had been wired up with timer explosives. This way, Tommy would not get a chance to feel comfortable on their „conquered“ grounds. Regrettably, while approaching, the English took the houses and corners at the Neuf Berquin –Estaires street; here the 10th company ran into trouble, since the Tommy had crawled to our forward posts unseen and our machine guns were not effective enough because of a bad field of fire. Therefore the Tommy, on the late afternoon of the 31st of August, managed to enter Estaires, or rather the piles of rubble that used to be Estaires. In order to avoid unnecessary casualties between the rubble, on the 1st of September the 10th and 12th company were pulled back from Estaires towards the protected Artillery positions. In these positions only the 9th and 11th company were waiting for the enemy, but to no avail. Forward patrols, sent back to Estaires, reported that Tommy had not dared to enter the western part of Estaires yet. They were expecting an ambush somewhere between the ruins. After orders to pull back several posts behind the Lys during the evening, the IIIrd battalion was relieved by an Untertoffizier and 6 men of the 5th company of the reserve 100 I.R. (23rd reserve division) and the IInd battalion at the Armentieres-positions were relieved by a battalion of the same division. It was a wonderful march, everywhere where one could look there were farmhouses burning, between them the companies marching like ghosts and in good mood, since there were several days of rest waiting for them after the previous retreat fights. The Ist battalion marched towards Annappes, the IInd to Sainghin and the IIIrd at first to Hallennes, in order to move to it’s final resting place Peronne after a few hours rest at noon of the 2nd of September. Our good moods went away after we arrived at our resting sites. At Cambrai our troops had a hard time as a result of strong enemy attacks and new large attacks were expected. Therefore on the 3rd of September, at 7 in the morning the infantry of the regiment was transported to Cambrai with trucks, while the luggage followed, part by train, part on foot. Here we had a few days of rest before our launch, while the 4th company was relieved in order to free up troops to strengthen the other companies. This is where the battle history of the 3rd, 5th and 10th company ended.

Battalion quarters at Merville

Go to Part 4