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 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
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
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
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.
assembly was hampered by heavy fog, but by 09:00am the Regiment was in
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
shocked. For a moment he was at a loss, then suddenly, hoping his Section would
arrive soon he shouted a command.
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