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On 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

The 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.  

The 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...

"During 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

"The 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


"Leutn. 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. 

Along 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."

The 113. I.R. described the action as follows  

"The 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…

  The high 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 positions. 

  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. 

  The 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. 

  The French 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.  

 
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