Malancourt and Haucort, two villages that lay on the
path to Höhe 304. They were both to fall to the Germans as they advanced in the
last part of March and the first week of April 1916.
A period French history describes the action as seen
by the French historians…
Right: Looking towards Malancourt from the old French line at Haucourt
Enemy aeroplanes directed artillery fire on the
positions in the valley. Haucourt was particularly badly hit. At around 2.00 pm
the German infantry attacked the rubble that was once a village. The French
infantry stopped them in their tracks.
The 5th of April, a day of terrible hardship, on that
day the 69th Infantry Regiment was to be destroyed.
All morning long Verdun
was bombarded, the main concentrations of fire falling on Haucourt, Vassincourt
and Palavas. The positions here were flattened, hidden under a cloud of smoke
and dust. No more communication, weapons destroyed. The defenders were caught
in a crushing bombardment and were not even able to notice whether their own
artillery was returning fire. Few messengers made it to the rear; all reported
the same state of affairs... Positions destroyed, many weapons damaged and
buried, the defenders killed, wounded or buried under the rubble with their
From the heights the French could see the German
infantry assembling in the Louviere ravine where the artillery could not reach
them and at the windmill near Haucourt. At 4pm the Germans attacked Palavas. A
single survivor makes his way back to the French lines after dark and confirms
the strongpoint is lost. The Germans had not taken it without own losses, a
single French machine gunner kept firing along the road to Malancourt until he
Above: The View from the South. The triangle in the middle is Höhe 304, to the right is the villages of Malancourt and Haucourt are separated by a bridge.
Lt. Col. Colin of the 6eme Corps wrote
“Haucourt fell at 6pm. The last defenders fought with
entrenching tools and rocks. Their losses were increased by attempting a counter
attack. A few were able to make their way back, haggard and exhausted they were
unable to provide any information other than the fact that they had been
crushed by the German assault. Commandant Vannier, with three wounds, had had
his pockets emptied by the Germans and had been left for dead. He managed to
rejoin our positions late that night.”
Left: The Croix de Guerre and Citation at divisional level to Soldat Marcel Richard, hillead at Haucourt onf the 5th of April. His citation reads "At the moment of the enemy attack and inspite of a heavy bombardment he remained at his onservation post and informed his section commander about enemy movements. he was killed at his post"
A battalion of the 26eme R.I. and one of the 153eme
R.I. counter attacked late on the 5th but it was too late in the day to push
the Germans back. They did succeed in stopping the German from advancing further
out of Haucourt but their losses were heavy.
A battalion of the 37th infantry regiment succeeded in
beating back an attack on Bethincourt.
At 4.40 am on the 6th of April a battalion of the
153eme R.I. and two companies of the 26eme R.I. who had passed through the
German barrage formed a defensive line facing Palavas and dug in.
The defence of then Haucourt sector had cost the
French heavy casualties. The 26eme R.I. had lost 20 officers and 800 men. The
69eme R.I. had lost 30 officers and 1300 men all in the period of the 5th-6th
of April. The French artillery had fired 120 000 rounds in the sector during
the 2 days.
Left: One of the bunkers of the 69eme Regiment d'Infanterie with a monument to the men killed in the German attack as well as to the American who passed through in 1918
Above: A wound badge document to Walter Jaentsch, a medical officer the German 22. Infanterie Regiment, one of the units attacking Malancourt and Haucourt. Jaentsch was wounded at his aid station north of Malancourt on the 22nd of March 1916.
Above: A monument to 21 year old Captain Maurice Petit of the 69eme R.I. killed during the attack on the 5th of April. From the monument in the ex French lines the Germans arrived from the treeline to the North.