The 2nd Bavarian Infantry Division marched
to the front to make the last push of the Kaiserschlacht. Foch had realised
that the loss of Amiens
would be a disaster for the Germans and the allied defensive line had been
given the highest priority.
To see an overview of where the battle took place see the western extremity of map four HERE
To see where the battle "fits in" to the Kaiserschlacht/Michael offensive see the section on the Center of the advance HERE
In mid January of 1918 the 2. bayerische Infanterie
Division joined the Gruppe Ornes to the West of Russingen where, under the
command of the 5. Armee, they were to train for the coming offensive. All along
the western front the new ABI or "Ausbildungsvorschrift für die
Infanterie" (Infantry Training Program) was being taught to Divisions who
were to take part in the coming offensive.
Under the watchful eye of the instructors from the
elite Sturmbataillon Nr.5 “Rohr” exercises were conducted at Divisional down to
Platoon level. Shooting and sport were emphasised and high ranking officers
like von Gallwitz, Kühne, von Soden and von Xylander passed by to observe and
praise the Bavarians as they were put through their paces.
Left: A postcard showing a prewar member of the 12th Bavarian Infantry Regiment
On the 23rd of March 1918 the division entrained and
was transported to the Cambrai area as part of the strategic reserve for the
Kaisershlacht. From here the Division followed the sound of the guns advancing
over the wastelands of the 1916 Somme
battlefields. Marching through Bapaume and Peronne they reached the frontline
at Moreuil after suffering biting cold and pouring rain on almost empty stomachs.
At Moreuil they were greeted by the 88th Prussian Division.
After a break the Michael offensive was to continue
"with fresh blood". The 15th and 20th Bavarian Infantry Regiments
were to attack the Senecat Wald (forest) and the heights to the north of
Rouvrel. The 12th Bavarian Infantry Regiment was ready to jump in to keep up
the momentum if the attack was slowed down by enemy resistance.
Leaving on the night of the 3rd of April the
battalions took up position to the west of Villers aux Erables.
The 1st battalion, 12th Bavarian Infantry Regiment
(I./12. b.I.R.) under Hauptmann Guth was kept in Reserve. The III./12. b.I.R.
(Hauptmann Schäffer) followed by the II./12. b.I.R (Hauptmann Wingefelder) were
led South by the Regimental commander (Oberstleutnant Wolf).
Right: The medals of Gefreiter Josef Fischer, 12th Company 12. b.I.R. Fischer fought with the regiment from the first day of the war. On the 5th of April 1918 he became seriously ill and was sent to the rear.
They crossed the Avre river to the east of Genonville
and in the pouring rain took up their assault positions at 5:00 a.m.
At 8:00 a.m. the commander of the III./12 saw that a
part of the 15. b.I.R. was already pushing its way up the heights 1.5 km
southward of Moreuil. The battalion waited along the road from Morisel to
Sauvillers giving flanking M.G. support while the rest of the 15. b.I.R. moved
forward. They then followed the last element of the 15. b.I.R. (the II.Batln.) forward.
The 11. Komp. (of the III./12. b.I.R. attacked copse
“a” and took it after three assaults. The battalion commander took the
remaining three companies and attacked Anchin Farm to help quash the flanking
fire that was taking its toll on the 15. b.I.R.
Above: The 12th, 15th and 20th Bavarian Regiments and their advance over the Avre.
Aided by half of the II./12. b.I.R. they advanced. Leutnant der Reserve (Lt. d.R.) Winter
of the 8. Komp was wounded as was his replacement Lt. d.R. Habecker.
Vizefeldwebel Maurer took command of the Komp.
At 12:45 in the afternoon the farm fell to the men of
the 12. and 15. b.I.R.
The rest of the II. and III. Battalions had approached
to within 600 m of Rouvrel where they were stopped by heavy M.G. fire. The companies
suffered 50% losses in the afternoon and by evening were forced to pull back a
short distance. Lt. d.R. Wegelin and Gruber of the 5. Komp. were wounded. The
adjutant of the III. Batl. Lt.d.R. Feldenguth was killed by a splinter.
Late that afternoon the II./12. b.I.R. joined the
newly arrived 14th Prussian Inf. Div. in an assault in the direction
of Rouvrel. The attack was stopped by the French and that evening a French
counter attack on the left flank of the division was brought to a halt.
By 1:00 pm the I./12. b.I.R. crossed the Avre at
Moreuil at the initiative of its
commander and stood ready to the South of Morisel.
At 3:20 they reinforced the front line with the
objective of giving new vigour to the attack. Arriving through the enemy
barrage they joined the line at Anchin farm where the fresh troops gave an
extra bit of force to push. They were soon forced to the ground by the French defensive
fire. The gap between the 12th and the 20th Bavarian
Regiments (the 20th having entering the Senecat wood) could only be
closed with a partial success.
Above: The Iron Cross 1st Class award document to Leutnant der Reserve Richard Moser for fighting on the Avre on the 4th of April 1918. Moser commanded the 6th comany and had won his iron Cross 2nd class at Verdun (see HERE)
Right: Part of a sketch by Ludwig Dettmann called "Kamerad Tod" (Comrade death).
In the night of the 4th of April to the 5th
of April the battalion commanders did all they could to reassemble their
companies and prepare their defences, all the time under heavy enemy artillery
At 3:45 in the afternoon heavy enemy artillery fire
was concentrated on the Senecat forest and the area to the South (Copse “b”)
and at 4:30 enemy troops in the strength of a regiment attacked in the area
between Rouvrel and Senecat wood overrunning the 7. Komp. but were stopped in
the forest by the 15. b.I.R. and by the machine gun and rifle fire of the
I./12. b.I.R. on the flank.
The severely depleted II./12. b.I.R. was pulled into
reserve and the night of the 5th saw the same steady artillery fire
as the night before. The Bavarians were on the defensive, the units spread out.
There ws no major change in the situation from the 6-8
of April. The I./12. b.I.R. participated in beating off the attack on the
Senecal forest at 3:00 pm on the 7th of April.
Bad weather, little food, enemy attacks and artillery
exhausted the troops but their spirits remained high.
On the night of the 8th and morning of the
9th the battalions were relieved. The thick fog helped to assure
that there were minimal losses although Lt. d.R. Gorgs was badly wounded and
Lt.d.R. Schlosser and Ludwig were killed. At 10:00 am the regiment arrived in
the camp at Beaucourt, then continuing on the next day to Rosiers. Here in
destroyed houses and barns, also out in the open, the men slept.
On the 11th Gen Lt. Zöllner greeted the
Regiment and praised their efforts. 200 Iron Cross 2nd classes were
awarded. The first days of April had added a glorious page to the history of
the 2nd Bavarian division and 12th Bavarian infantry