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After his armies suffered terrible losses on the Chemain des Dames and on the Aisne during his spring offensives in 1917 General Nivelle was relieved of his command. Petain took over. After the mutinies which had broken out in the army had been crushed Petain set out to take the offensive once again. It was to be a limited offensive lasting from the 23rd to 26th of October and it took place in the La Malmaison area (the left wing to the north of the Chemain des Dames).

Henri Cuillerier was a Grenadier in the 288th Regiment d'infanterie. The Regiment was part of the 67th Division and was on the extreme right flank of the offensiive. On the 23rd of October the Regiment advanced towards the chapel of Sainte-Berthe where it was met with heavy German machinegun fire. Their advance bogged down on the 24th and only on the 25th did it gain momentum when the neighbouring 66th Division (on their left flank) overcame heavy resistance and took Pargny-Filain, then in conjunction with the 67th Division proceeded to take the chapel of Sainte-Berthe. On the 26th of October the two Divisions took the town of Filain.

For an alternate map of the sector and another account of the offensive, click HERE







The direct result of the offensive was that the southern bank of the Ailette river was now in French hands. After they lost the territory known to them as the "Laffaux Ecke" the Germans could no longer hold their positions on the Chemain des Dames. They withdrew from their positions in an orderly fashion on the night of the 1st-2nd of November 1917.

Petain's limited offensive was a success, not only for what it achieved on the battlefield, but also for what it did for French Morale.

On the 11th of November 1917 Lieutenant-Colonel Jasienski approved the awarding of the Croix de Guerre (at regimental level) for Henri Cuillerier.

The citation reads as follows:

"A brave and disciplined soldier, he was wounded by shrapnel while mounting guard."

The exact date of Cuillerier's wound is not given, but it would have been around the time the regiment was engaged in the fighting at La Malmaison or in the weeks that followed as the French prepared their new positions."


Above: A map of the offensive. The 67. D.I. attacked in the bottom right corner. The 4th Zouaves attached as part of the 38. D.I. (Click HERE for the attack of the 4th Zouaves)
 
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