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The Reserve Infanterie Regiment 37 in the Michel Offensive, 1918

On the 25th of March 1918 the R.I.R. 37 participated in the attack across the Crozat Canal at Moyencourt and Ercheu. The attack was part of Operation Michel, the regiment was under the command of Von Hutiers 18. Armee, the Southern wing of the offensive).  

The offensive had started on the 21st of March and in the opening phase the advance went very well, better than the German high command had expected in the area.  

On the 25th it was time to cross the Crozat canal. During the crossing the regiment advanced with the I and III Batln in the front line, the II. Batln in Reserve. The fighting during the crossing was heavy, the Regiment loosing 102 dead and 500 men wounded. The Regiment then passed to the South of Roye and readied itself near Beuvraignes.

  The R.I.R. 37 had suffered the heaviest losses in the division during the fighting on the 25th March. At 08:00 am in the morning of the 26th of March the order was given to allow the Füsilier Regiment 37 to pass through the lines and the R.I.R. 37 assumed the role of Divisional Reserve, marching towards Solente. The II. Batln took the lead as the regiment continued the march through Champien to Roiglise. The night was spent to the North East of Beuvraignes.  

At 5:00am on the 27th March the order was given to continue the attack, starting at 09:30 in the direction Tilloloy-Bus–Onvillers. The R.I.R. 37 was to advance to the South-West with the Füsilier Regiment 37 on their right flank and the Grenadier Regiment 6 on their left flank. The II. Batln would lead, followed by the I. then III: Batln.  

The assembly was hampered by heavy fog, but by 09:00am the Regiment was in position.

At 09:30 the regiment advanced. The 6. (Prien) and 8. (Dransfeld) Komp. were stretched over 400m in the front line, each supported by 2 MG 08 teams of the 2. MGK (Westphal). Behind them followed the 5. (Hübner) and 7. (Lange) Komp.  

The Regiment was advancing over the old Somme battlefield, the shellholes providing cover for the advance. There was light enemy rifle and machine gun fire until the II. Batln was within 800m of Tilloloy. Suddenly they were hit by artillery and heavy small arms fire from the trenches to the East of Tilloloy. The advance faltered.

Above: the regiment attacked towards the South West. Color map courtesy of google maps

Major Wagner, commanding the Batln., requested a short bombardment on the heavily manned trenches and village. Without this he reckoned with heavy losses. Under the fire of their artillery and Minenwerfer the companies pushed forward. They once again came under heavy fire as the German artillery was concentrating on the village and not the trenches in front of it.  

Major Wagner pushed his 5. Komp into the line to apply pressure on the left flank. The company was able to move to the Western edge of Tilloloy. Under the cover of the Company’s light MG 08/15 and 2 MG 08 of the 6th Grenadiers (Lt. Hübner had “borrowed” the two MG teams) the company attacked the trenches to the South of Tilloloy.

At 12:00 noon the 6. and 8. Komp attacked the Northern and Eastern edge of the village, pushing into the village and fighting house to house. The enemy fled into the park and forest to the west of the village with the 6. Komp hot on their heels.

The point of the company, Offz. Stellv. Seidel (On the right), along with 2 or 3 men, was well ahead of his section and on their way through the park. Suddenly a Company of French soldiers appeared in a communications trench. Rifles carried on their slings they plodded forward, eyes on the man in front of them. It was later established they were supposed to launched a counter attack to throw the II. Batln out of the village.   Seidel was shocked. For a moment he was at a loss, then suddenly, hoping his Section would arrive soon he shouted a command.  

“Halt!”  


The French company looked up, shocked. Not knowing how many men they had to deal with the dropped their rifles and surrendered. Seidel and his merry band accompanied them back to the village.  

By 13:00 pm the II. Batln was in control of the village. They had captured 500 enemy soldiers and numerous machine guns. The Batln had lost 23 dead and 94 wounded.  

The following men were mentioned in Regimental orders for their part in the attack.

Offz. Stellv. Schreiber (5. Komp.)

Offz. Stellv. Rosenberger (8. Komp.)

Sergt. Meyer (5. Komp.)

Vzfw. Hannemann (7. Komp.)

Vzfw. Zienow (2. M.G.K.)
The Iron Cross 1st Class award document to Vzfw. Zienow for his part in the Michel Offensive is pictured on the right

Uffz. Wiegers (7. Komp.)

San. Vzfw. Holz (6. Komp.)

Gefr. Kerber (7. Komp.)

Serg. Behler (7. Komp.)

Gefr. Grosjahn (5. Komp.)

Gefr. Konieczny (6. Komp)

Uffz. Fensel (8. Komp.)

To return to the 10. R.D. page click HERE

Above: The 2nd MGK of the RIR 37
 
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