Monday, 16 October 2017

The Batlle of Amiens August 1918 and the Australian War memorial

The road from Amiens to Perrone is long, straight and undulating.  It's takes you under huge skies through a battlefield fought over many times and past the Australian War Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.

If you can stop here.  Allow yourself some time. Take a walk and have a think.
8th August, 1918, by Septimus Power

This ground was covered as part of the German spring 1918 offensive

"On 21st March 1918, the Germans launched one of the most successful battles of the Western Front, in the aim of taking Amiens and its vast communication lines. Only the town of Villers-Bretonneux, located just 15 kilometres before Amiens, was in their way. The Germans failed in their initial attempt to take Villers-Bretonneux on 4th April, but supported by tanks, they broke through British lines on 24th April and captured the position.
This attack also resulted in the very first tank versus tank battle, seeing three British tanks battle against three German tanks in the fields south of Villers-Bretonneux."
We are told on the Australian War Memorial site
"In the quest for Amiens, the Germans' next aim was to capture Hill 104 (where the Australian National Memorial stands today), making it vital for the Allies to recapture Villers-Bretonneux as quickly as possible. Two Australian brigades were rapidly brought in to assist the remaining British troops, and, that same evening, the 15th Brigade swept around the north side of the town, while the 14th Brigade covered the left flank.
To the south of Villers-Bretonneux, the 13th Brigade attacked near Cachy and by dawn the Australians had Villers- Bretonneux almost completely surrounded. By the 26th, most of the ground captured by the Germans had been retaken and the threat to Amiens was over.
The Australians suffered over 2400 casualties, the British lost 9500 men, mostly captured during the German attack of the 24 April, while the Germans lost approximately 10,000 men."
For more reading on this there is:

Later the same ground was fought over as the Australian sought to push back the German's. 


The Day We Won The War: Turning Point At Amiens, 8 August 1918


The Australian Victories in France in 1918     


The memorial looks out across the jumping off point for the Australian Attack on August 8th 1918 - a sophisticated all arms assault on the withering German Army.  The thing that struck me about the ground was how exposed the trenches must have been - how easily overlooked positions were and how wide an expansive the fields of fire were. In the picture below Amiens is to your left and Peronne is to the right - the direction in which the attack went.

The view from the memorial across the cemetery and out onto the wide open land that the Australians attacked across.
A map of the attack from  
German Prisoner being lead away towards Amiens - August 8th 1918

This was the first time I'd stopped to look at the valley of the Somme as a battlefield, until now I'd at best driven through it.

The memorial itself and some of the headstones bear the damage of artillery fire from fighting in the area in 1940.

When I visit a cemetery in France I try to take the time to walk and look at the names - as many as I can. All of them if I can, although it becomes a little overwhelming.  You can find the pictures I took here.  Some are below...

Here are some picture of the ground East of the memorial out toward Perronne that the battle was fought across..

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