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10th to 29th of April 1918: Attack on the Kemmelberg
The second blow in Operation Georgette

For detailed accounts of actions in this battle, please scroll to the bottom.
For a map of the Operation Georgette please click
HERE

Right: part of a painting detailing Sturmtrupps attacking the Kemmelberg.

On the morning of the 10th of April, one day after von Quasts divisions had overrun the British and Portuguese to the South of Armentiers Sixt von Arnims 4. Armee attacked to the North of Armentiers.

148 Batteries opened up on the British lines and heavily barbed wired bunkers between Hollebeke and Ploegsteert to clear the way for eight divisions of assault troops. After the bombardment the divisions threw themselves into the fog covered wasteland. The artillery had not managed to wipe away all resistance and there was bitter fighting for the strong points and bunkers. By evening the men of Lubeck were in Meesen, the Hamburg Reserve Regiments in the hotly contested castle gardens at Hollebeke and General Eberhardt's men had reached Ploegsteert forest. The next day the forest fell to the German while left wing of the 4. Armee met up with the right wing of the 6. Armee behind the burning town of Armentiers. 3000 men and 40 artillery pieces were captured.  

From this point on the advance was more cumbersome.

The muddy battlefield crisscrossed with canals and covered in woods and hedge surrounded farmhouses were the ally of the British who fought for every meter.  

With great effort the Germans took the Nachtigall heights, Neuve Eglise, Wulverghem and the heights to the east of Bailleul... but all at great cost.

In front of the Germans the Kemmelbeg loomed.

It was impossible to continue the attack.

A major offensive was needed to take the mountain. After von Quast's 6th Army to the South had stopped its advance the full force of the offensive was channelled to the North.  

The mountain was a fortress. the French had prepared it for defence "at all costs".  

On the 26th of April the Kemmelbeg was attacked by the elite Alpenkorps in one of the most spectacular actions of the war. It hit the mountain at full force smoking out the posts of resistance that held on to the last second.  

They made their way up the twin peaks and placed their flags on the top.

The 4th Bavarian division attacked to the South of the hill taking the Morlen and Dranoeter. To the North of the hill (up to the Yser-Ypern canal) the advance reached the village of Kemmel, St Eloi and Groote Vierstraat.

Here the enemy strengthened his front from hour to hour while on the Kemmelberg and Neighbouring Scherpenberg they seemed to have disappeared.   The Scherpenberg was now the goal. If this was taken the battle was won, from there the way to the channel would be open.   The German artillery was turning the heights into an Inferno. On the slopes the only thing that moved were isolated French forward positions caught in the bombardment. The Goslar Jägers succeeded in climbing the heights at de Kleit, the Bavarian Infantry Leib Regiment took Brulooze. They then took a moment to assemble their men and manhandle some field artillery across the Douvre plateau to support the last push.  

It was too late. That evening the newly arrived British troops had taken up position on the heights and there was no moving them. The fate of the offensive had been decided in those fateful few hours.

To Return to the first page on Operation Georgette please click HERE

More detailed accounts of the fighting :

The 3rd Bavarian Infantry Regiment, 11. b.I.D., helped clear the way to the foot of the Kemmelberg for the final assault. An account and the Iron Cross document to a machine gunner can be found HERE

 
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