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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Operation Michael... March 1918


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Anyone got any info on the first days of Operation Michael 21/03/1918. My Great uncle Pte Joseph Swalwell  served in the 15th Battalion DLI and was killed in action on the 1st day......many thanks

Edited by steveo6662
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The War diaries are free to download via the National Archives site, but given the nature of the fighting, they might be a bit scant. 15 DLI were in the Epehy-Peziere area and counter attacked on the evening of the 21st and they retook a strongpoint west of Vaucelette Farm. 

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Hi Steve

2 informative sites have a look. Durham at war. Ossett.net Lawrence Ellis. Have a look

15th Battalion Durham Light Infantry. 21st March 1918;

When the German Army attacked on the Somme the 21st Division was in reserve, they were rushed to the front, the 15th Battalion counter attacked only to be driven back. In 4 days of fighting the battalion lost over 500 men killed ,wounded, and missing, including the Commanding Officer Lt Col  W Festing. They counter attacked to regain the Yellow Line south of Heudicourt- Vauceletter Farm road. Then on the  evening of the 22nd ordered to withdraw to the Green Line near Templeux-la-Fosse. On the 23rd fought a stiff rear guard action at Aizencourt-le-Hault. but the enemy  continued to press hard in the ensuing days.

By the 25th March the 64th Brigade had suffered so much that a composite battalion was formed. Another composite  battalion was formed on the26th but could only muster a company of seventy other ranks.

Its a very interesting and important part of the war and is not in the spotlight like the Somme battles or Ypres. I am sure when you find the war diary you will find it very interesting.

Keep in touch 




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Thank you I will do that ive found a few more interesting facts about my Great uncle who was a lance corporal In the DLI, including a photo  and his name on the memorial at Pozieres.


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Today is also the anniversary of the Doullens Conference, at which General Foch was given command of all the British and French forces in front of Amiens, to ensure that the front line was not broken. This command was later extended to cover all British, French and Belgian forces on the Western Front, but not the Americans.



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