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Remembered Today:

Vimy Ridge -- Reserve Infantry Regiment Nr. 93


Ken S.

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This is a draft translation from the regimental history's account of its role in the battle:

 

Quote

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Positional Warfare near Mericourt.

(19th March to 12th July, 1917)

 

The rest days in the villages around Tournai allowed for -- aside from relaxation and recreation -- training incorporating the lessons learned during the Battle of the Somme to be resumed.  In particular the men were instructed about the English armoured vehicles or tanks,

 

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that in all likelihood would be encountered in future engagements.  The best defense was considered to be the close support batteries, which could be moved up far forward and thus knock out the tanks with direct fire.  Light trench mortars were also not to be under-estimated in a battle with tanks.  As a result, men were again trained in the operation of trench mortars; in early April, six officers and 120 NCOs and other ranks were sent to the Army Trench Mortar School in St. Amand.  Greatest importance was placed on the co-ordination with the aeroplanes.  Therefore, aeroplanes participated in almost all of the training exercises.  A large-scale training ground was established at Chateau Bitremont.  All possibilities for attack and defensive battles were practiced.  A large training exercise at the training grounds, which was planned for the 7th April, had to be cancelled because the Regiment had been placed on a higher level of alert.  For days the sounds of barrage could be heard in the distance.  The early-year battle by Arras had begun.  After the failed attempt to break through on the Somme, without a doubt it was now the enemy’s intention to simultaneously break through the German lines at two locations.  An English attack at Arras and French attack near Reims was supposed to cause the German lines to yield.  Were the breakthrough attempts to succeed, the Siegfried-Stellung would be enveloped, causing the entire German front until the sea to waver.  Vimy Ridge was lost during the English attack.  The German Eingreiff divisions stationed far behind the front, among them the 4th Guard Infantry Division, were hurriedly moved forward.  On the 9th April, the Division was sent to the vicinity south of Orchies. Due to the threat from the air, the Regiment marched by company to the new billets.  On the 10th April at about 1 o'clock in the morning the Regiment received orders that First and Second Battalions were to immediately march to Henin-Lietard, and the Third Battalion and Headquarters to Courcelles.  The Regiment, which was to be deployed on the seriously threatened left flank of Group Souchez, was attached to the 16th Bavarian Infantry Division. The commander of this division had had the 4th Guard Infantry Division placed at his disposal with the notice to deploy it

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as the situation necessitated. The commander’s intention was that the Division’s battalions were to be committed on the threatened left flank of the battle immediately upon their arrival.  The general staff officer who had arrived in advance, Rittmeister von Papen, however, succeeded in having this intention changed, so that only two of the division’s battalions and an artillery detachment to be ordered to the front lines.  The rest of the Division was held back for special assignments.  It was decided to deploy a battalion from Guard Grenadier Regiment Nr. 5 and the First Battalion from Reserve Infantry Division Nr. 93.  And so that evening First Battalion departed from Henin-Lietard for Avion.  The Battalion was unloaded between Avion and Billy Montigny.  It reached Avion by foot, where it was welcomed by the commander of the 11th Bavarian Infantry Regiment.  Before daybreak the Battalion entered the front lines near Givenchy, in Sector Döberitz.  The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Companies were stationed in the foremost trench, 4th Company being held in reserve.  The front line companies were assigned two machine guns each from the 1st Machine Gun Company.  The Battalion’s commander was Oblt. v. Koerber.  The Battalion's combat post was located in Givenchy.

It required the greatest discretion on the part of all of the commanders and sub-commander to relieve scattered and wiped out troops during a major battle at night and during a snowstorm.  In regards to the fighting that followed, Lt. d. R. Ueckert, commander of 2nd Company, provides a very detailed account: “The image of the days of heated combat was presented to us at this location.  The Bavarian companies, which had a strength of only ten men, if they were not entirely wiped out, were completely mixed together along the line.  The relief was extremely difficult to organize because the course of the front line had been considerably altered.  There was a faint glimmer of sunlight to the east as the companies from First Battalion took over their assigned sectors.  The arc of the position around Givenchy closely resembled that of Thiepval.  On the right flank (Souchez-Gang, 3rd Line) lay the 1st Company, on the left flank the 3rd Company distributed their posts from Kaisergang to the lower Sachsenlager.  Between these two companies there was a large gap, due to the fact that the farthest extending

 

{{to be continued}}

 

Edited by Ken S.
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