the 1st of August 1917 "Operation Zähringen" was carried out on a
2000m wide front along the road leading from Malancourt/Haucourt to Esnes. An
overview of the "big picture" and the situation in the Height 304
sector can be found HERE
I. Bataillon had been designated the Assault Battalion in the 112. I.R. sector,
the II. Batl. was in reserve in the 113. I.R. Sector, the III. Batl. in reserve
in the 142. I.R. Sector.
Badeners (supported by men of the 5th Company of the Sturmbataillon Rohr) carried out a successful
attack, the 112. I.R. describes the attack in their history...
the night the enemy rear area was heavily gassed. At 4:53am a flare went up and
a heavy explosion signalled the beginning of our bombardment. At 5:00am the
bombardment rolled forwards, the assault began. The Sturmtrupps crossed the
badly churned up forest. In bitter hand grenade duels the French pockets of
resistance are reduced and ground is gained. After an hour the Commanders saw
that the goals had been reached. With tapes the approximate new front line was
laid out and with spades a front line of interconnected shell holes was dug. By
evening the enemy artillery has the range of our new positions. Counter attacks
in the 1. and 2. Komp areas are beaten back with some heavy close quarter
fighting. The attack had been a success for all the Baden Battalions, 700m in
depth gained along a 2000m front. 700 prisoners and many Machine Guns captured.
The success of the I. Batl attack was thanks to Major Stelzer."
Above: A German Pilot photographed the western slope of Height 304 under Bombardement
2nd of August showed that the assault was just the beginning, now came the hard
task of holding the ground gained. The I.
Batl. was attacked a number of times but the enemy was beating back each time
with hand grenades. The II. Batl is in the 3rd line position of the 113. I.R.
At 7:45am after a heavy bombardment the French send in strong assault columns
who succeed in rolling up the front lines. The enemy reaches the lines of the
II. Batl. and soon they run out of grenades and their only machine gun jams."
Left: Men of the 112. I.R. on Height 304
d. Res Just commanding the 8. Komp gives the order to "Fix Bayonets!"
and with a loud "Hurrah!" the 24 remaining men of his Company charged
the enemy. Some men of the 113. I.R. under Leutn. Wolf join in this brave
counter attack. The enemy was not expecting such a move and turned and
retreated with our men at their heels. They succeeded in clearing the first
line that had fallen to the French just a short time before but could not
advance further due to their small numbers and the danger of being cut off. The
7. Komp had assisted in the counter attack and also took prisoners.
with the commander of the 8. Komp, Leutn. d. L. Leibiger as well as
Unteroffizier Krämer and Becker distinguished themselves in the counter attack.
That evening another enemy attack was destroyed by artillery fire. More enemy
attempts were stopped in the days that followed. The Battalion was relieved on
the 5th of August."
113. I.R. described the action as follows
French Attack on the 2nd of August was critical. A heavy bombardment started at
4:30am, but mainly lighter calibre artillery. At 6:30 their were a few probes
that were beaten back by our artillery and Machine Guns. After a new
bombardment the 12. Komp (113. I.R.) was pushed out of its positions by French
assault troops, about 2 Companies worth. They regrouped and with the strong
support of the 8. Komp, 112. I.R. storming forward under Lt. d. R. Just they
threw the enemy back, capturing 1 heavy and 2 light Machine guns. Unfortunately
Lt Wolff. commanding the 12. Komp (113. I.R.) paid for the success with his
life. He was killed during the counter attack. "
Above: Leutnant d. Landwehr Leibiger received the following
citation "In the name of his Majesty the Kaiser and King I ward you the
Iron Cross 1st class in recognition of your extraordinary bravery, especially
for your exemplary, energetic and successful actions during the recapturing of
the French positions at Verdun
on the 2nd of August 1917. I congratulate you for earning this high award"
A bit of background…
command was weary about new losses but von Francois was able to convince
Ludendorff that a defensive battle from their present positions would cause
heavier losses than an offensive in which they could take better suited
On the 29th
of July a bombardment started on the positions from the Avocourt forest to the
Height 304. On the 31st the French batteries were targeted with large amounts
of gas and high explosive shells in a bombardment that carried on through the
night. On the 1st of August the German infantry attacked along the
Haucourt-Esnes road on a 2000m wide front. The men of the 29. I.D. and a
battalion of the 213. I.D., supported by Pioneers, Flamethrowers and
Stosstrupps of the 5th Sturmbataillon (Rohr) broke through the French lines and
pushed to the rear.
response of the French artillery was minimal. The German counter battery fire
seems to have been a success. 11 Officers and 741 were captured. The Plateau to
the South West of Height 304 was once again in German hands.
Barrages began to die down towards midday. Most of the fire seemed to come from
batteries far to the rear which were firing without any observers. On the
morning of the 2nd of August the newly arrived French 86eme R.I. attacked,
trying to push the Germans off the plateau. The attack, in places, broke into
the German trenches and had to be fought off hand to hand. Another attack
followed that evening but the German troops managed to hold their positions.