The Saxon Landsturm Fußartillerie Bataillon 12 lay in position behind Hangard Forest. To the northeast of Demuin the 2nd battery (2./L.XII) and to the south of Demuin the 1st battery (1./L.XII). A few miles to the west the 1st Canadian Army was ready for the assault. The 1st and 3rd Canadian divisions were to attack on an axis that would pass through Demuin. (Click HERE for map)
Fussartillerie Batterie in action in 1918
Leutnant d.Ldw. von Gehlert wrote...
"The 8th August 1918, the infamous 'Black Day' had arrived.
The No.1 gun had already been firing since 3:00 in the morning, but it was when dawn arrived that hell broke loose. Shell after shell arrived. The battery position and surrounding area lay not only under heavy fire but also under heavy fog.
'To the guns! Sperrfeuer!', came the order. Shell after shell, salvo after salvo roared towards the enemy, the guns beginning to glow. With rolled up sleeves, sweat running down their brows the men did their work. Behind the guns charges were burning, set alight by enemy artillery rounds. The first wounds occurred. The telephone lines were destroyed; there was no time to repair them as hands were needed at the guns. The Batterie to our left had fallen silent. Our Batterie stood alone.
Volunteers sent to carry messages to the group commander or to the infantry did not return. The enemy fire lessened then moved to our rear. We did not know what was going on…had the enemy broken through? Suddenly over our heads an enemy airplane appeared. He flew backwards and forwards a number of time firing at the gun crews with his machine guns. Our ammunition had run low and there were few shells left. Without resupply we would not be able to fight much longer. Where were our orders from the group?
Iron Cross 2nd class document awarded to Gefreiter Otto Richter who
served on the battalion staff of the Landwehr Fussartillerie Bataillon 12. The
Iron Cross was awarded in 1917.
By now only isolated shells were falling in our area.
Suddenly three infantrymen came running breathlessly towards us 'The Englanders are close behind', they shouted to the gun Batterie.
'Grab your rifles !', came the order and the men rushed to form a defensive line facing the direction of the enemy. They waited, rifles ready, Grünert behind the machine gun. The breach blocks were removed from the guns and thrown in the nearby stream, the maps and firing plans burned. Only gun No.1 was kept ready.
No one knew what to expect. Everyone would just have to do his duty. The men crouched in their positions and a gunner volunteered to do a patrol. The fog had lifted a little but there was still no sign of friend or foe. The situation became surreal.... suddenly the machine gun began to chatter 'Herr Leutnant, sie Kommen!', and there they were. About 150m in front of the battery we could see the flat British helmets. The men opened fire and they shot well. Soon the battery was taking machine gun fire from both flanks, even from behind! The enemy had broken through. The enemy had crept forward but then retreated under the fire of the battery. The fire died down... the minutes became hours.
The rifle ammunition was low. We were hoping for a counter attack by our infantry, but in vain. Suddenly in front of our positions a line of firing tanks appeared creeping towards us. Close behind followed columns of Highlanders. The men fired at the tanks with little effect, then gun No.1 opened fire and managed to destroy one with a direct hit… but there were too many.
The tanks crept closer and the gun crew had to destroy their gun.
There was no escape. The gun crews were literally being shot to pieces. They fought bravely until the last minute but then the enemy overran the battery. Other than Kanonier Grünert who managed to escape in spite of a serious wound the rest of the battery was killed or captured. The brave Landsturm Batterie had ceased to exist." Left: The award document for Otto Richter Friedrich August medal in bronze, awarded in October 1918. Richter and his battalion commander (compare signatures on the two award documents) had survived the destruction of their battalion and had been posted to Fussartillerie Bataillon 102.
award document for Otto Richter Friedrich August medal in bronze, awarded in
October 1918. Richter and his battalion commander (co,pare signatures on the two award documents) had survived the destruction
of their battalion and had been posted to Fussartillerie Bataillon 102.