Operation Georg: The second Ludendorff offensive of 1918. With Operation Michael over, a new battle started by Armentiers and Kemmel. The Battle of the Lys was to last from the 9 to 29th of April.
The 11th Bavarian Infantry Division was to play a part in clearing the way to the Kemmelberg.
The 11. bayerische Infanterie Division had spent the
first couple of months of 1918 in quiet sectors recuperating from the losses it
had suffered in Flanders in 1917. On the 13th
of April 1918 the division returned to Flanders
to relieve the 214. I.D. and took up position in the line in the Neuve Eglise
sector to the Northwest of Armentiers. That same night the I./B.I.R.3 tried a
night attack on the Zwartemolenhoek to the south of Kemmel but failed with
The next day the rest of the 11. b.I.D. advanced to
join the attack. Crossing the Lys over pontoon
bridges they passed through a sea of mud filled craters and trenches. The area
had been fought over and taken in the preceding 5 days and the artillery and mustard
gas had left it devoid of any form of life.
The Division halted to the South West of Neuve Eglise
and at 16:00. The Artillery fired a 15 minute Bombardment which was to be
followed by an Infantry assault. The Zwartemolenhoek hillside was steep and
bare, the trench line at the top well protected. Under heavy machinegun fire
from hidden positions and a rain of shrapnel the Bavarians leapfrogged forward.
By evening they had reached the foot of the hill where the assault ground to a
halt. They were to stay in these positions and launch the attack from there the
The attacks on the 13th and 14th of April had cost the
regiment 115 dead and 400 wounded, about a quarter of their strength in the
field. Half of the casualties had been suffered in the night attack.
Above: A humerous Bavarian Postcard from a series documenting "Seppl's" life at the front.
Above: A map showing the advance of the 11. b.I.D. (11.b.) 13th-15th April and the continuation of the advance by the 4. b.I.D. (4.b.) and Alpenkorps (A.) later that month.
The next morning saw the hill covered in flame and
smoke as the German artillery pounded the positions on the peak. The Artillery
had had a chance for accurate observation and as a result the British
machinegun fire was much reduced. From the south the 3. b.I.R. worked its way uphill, from the east the 13. b.R.I.R.
. The German artillery observer for the 3. b.I.R. decided to advance the
barrage by 200 meters, and for the observers it was clearly visible to see how
the curtain of smoke and mud bounded forwards.
There was no way to contact the infantry and inform
them of the change and the staff watched anxiously to see if they would take
the initiative. At first small groups jumped forward from shell hole to shell
hole, then the companies streamed forward. In loose formations the men worked
their way uphill. Field artillery was moved forward to tackle the hidden
machine gun nests over open sights. In Regular intervals the Observer made a
200 meter bound and the Bavarians followed closely. By the time they reached
the hilltop they were almost advancing within the barrage. The Trench line was
taken in a last push with hand grenades and bayonets and the British soldiers
who were not dead or wounded beat a hasty retreat.
Above: An Iron Cross document awarded to Sergt. d.R. Johan Attenberger from the 1st machine gun company of the 3rd Bavarian Infantry Regiment. having fought through all the regiments battles in 1918 he was awarded his Iron Cross in September 1918.
Redirecting their advance the 3. b.I.R. sent a patrol
to make contact with the 13 B.R.I.R. on the right flank but before the two
units could join up a British counter attack was launched which threatened to
drive a wedge between the two regiments. 13. b.R.I.R. threw their reserves into
the fray, as did the 3. b.I.R. and the attacking Scots were stopped dead in
their tracks, forced to take cover in shell holes.
On the left the III./3. b.I.R., connected to the right
flank of the 117 I.D., was halted by another enemy counter attack, but on the
right flank the I./B.I.R.3 was able to widen the gap in the enemy lines pushing
its way forward to the Douve-Bach. The defensive line in front of Kemmel had at
last been pierced.
The days assault had cost the regiment another 96 dead
and 250 wounded.