Published By John Davies
- Somme. Mont St Quentin. 26 Bn Australian Infantry. 2 September 1918.
- 4 Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Rancourt. 2 September 1918
Somme. Mont St Quentin. 26 Bn Australian Infantry. 2 September 1918.
On 2 September 1918 the 26 Bn Australian Infantry were ordered to capture a trench system at Mont St Quentin to the north of Peronne. They were to form a flanking line on the southern slopes of Mont St Quentin (Hill 115). Zero hour was 5.30am, 2 September. During the evening of 1 September the battalion had moved up to its assembly position in Prague and Florino trenches. The start line was the road to the south west of Mont St Quentin. A Report (edited) of the action from the battalion War Diary takes up the story:
ACTION – ‘Companies moved independently from (Prague and Florino trenches Map A) to the (Start Line – road at Map B). The enemy was shelling the area of assembly quite considerably. His barrage was intense and consisted of HE up to 5.9 calibre with a big mixture of gas.
(The battalion advanced at 5.30am – B Coy in the centre, A Coy to the left with C Coy on right which would advance 30 minutes later. B Coy was in support)
Particularly heavy MG fire from the front and from the right flank opened at Zero hour, and these two factors combined made it difficult to advance. The numbers which actually reached the trench system at (Koros Alley Map C) central were limited. They were rapidly divided into two parties one under Lieutenant McHardie to proceed down KOROS ALLEY and the other under Lieutenant Lawson down KURILO ALLEY.
Severe MG opposition was encountered, both from the guns already in position and from retreating crews taking up fresh positions. The opposition was quickly overcome and the area was seized and consolidated.
I consider the work of A Coy advancing with a mere handful of men along two lines of trenches 1000 yards in length and defended by approx. 30 MGs with determined gunners a feat which should almost rank as amongst the finest of the war.
The right portion of the Battalion commenced to advance at 6.00am but was subjected to heavy MG fire which played across the low ground from distances of 1500 yards. This MG fire was very destructive especially that from the vicinity of ST. DENIS and from the COPSE (Map D). Our right flank was becoming exposed, and it was decided when the company had reached a line at (Map E)…to take what little cover was available and dig post there during the night. Touch was gained with 25 Bn (Australian Infantry) on the left and after dusk with the 5 Division on the right.’
Casualties were – Officers 3 KIA and 5 wounded: ORs 18 KIA, 94 wounded and 1 missing.
GOOGLE MAPS Satellite view centres on Mont St Quentin – now on the outskirts of Peronne.
4 Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Rancourt. 2 September 1918
On 2 September 1918 the 4 Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers were at Rancourt on the Somme. They had been assigned to carry out construction work preparing a track way from Rancourt towards Moislains. As they moved up they received new orders and were assigned to help mop up and clear St Pierre Vaast wood in which was rumoured to be enemy machine gun posts. At 1.30pm they moved up into trenches to the south of Rancourt with Bn HQ in a dug out about 500 yards south of Rancourt on the road to Perrone. The wood was just to the east of Rancourt. They advanced in 2 waves at 50 yard intervals 2 platoons from A Coy on the right and 2 platoons from B Coy on the left, C Coy was to be in support. The advance through the wood was made in a SE direction. Three enemy snipers were taken, one of whom was killed. On emerging from the wood they occupied Hill and Link trench (Map A). There they were to make touch with troops from 142 Brigade but there was no sign of them. Eventually, after sending out patrols, troops from 24 Bn London Regiment were found in Jupiter Trenches (Map B) and contact was made. They remained in these positions for the night. Casualties were 1 Officer wounded, 5 ORs killed and 8 ORs wounded.
GOOGLE MAPS – centres on Rancourt – St Pierre Vaast wood to the east of the village.
References and Sources War Diary 26 Bn Australian Infantry
B&O 1918. 100 Days. Somme. Mont St Quentin. 26 Bn Australian Infantry. Rancourt 4 Bn RWF. 2 September 1918.