Text Box: http://www.rjplincs.plus.com/omiwxb262Div12(p).htmText Box: © 2006 R.J.PENHEYRounded Rectangle: The British 62nd Division

Rounded Rectangle: In the Great War


RJP: 62 Div: Michael        Latest edit 8 Apr 2010                                                                                                    

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12.     The German MICHAEL Offensive (See Map 1)

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12.1 Background

The German spring offensives of 1918 were intended to bring the war to a satisfactory end before the US army in France could become effective. The first of their offensives was that code named MICHAEL. It fell, from right to left, on the British 5th Army (La Fère to Gonnelieu), on 3rd Army (Gonnelieu to Gavrelle) and on the right flanking division of 1st Army in the Oppy - Gavrelle sector. 5th Army was forced to retreat and 3rd Army, though successfully resisting the enemy attacks, was obliged to swing its front to the south and west, hinged on Arras, and to extend it to conform with 5th Army’s retreat and keep in contact with them.

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12.2       62 Division’s Operations

On 21.3.18 all divisions in 5th and 3rd Armies were attacked, together with 56 Div, the right flanking division of XIII Corps, 1st Army, in the Oppy - Gavrelle sector.  62 Div, who were on the left of 56 Div and in the Arleux - Acheville sector, were bombarded but not attacked. On 23.3.18 their relief by 3 Canadian Div began and they marched back to camp in the Roclincourt area. As they came out of the line they were transferred brigade by brigade to XVII Corps of 3rd Army and marched to the Arras area with divisional HQ at Warlus. On 25.3.18 they reached Ayette, where they came under the orders of IV Corps and were sent on to Bucquoy, where a gap was opening up between IV and V Corps. They began to arrive at 10 am, and took up positions near Achiet-le-Petit. During the night of 25 to 26.3.18 they withdrew from Achiet-le-Petit to the line Bucquoy - Puisieux. On 26.3.18 62 Div were heavily attacked but held their line. During the night of 26 to 27.3.18 4 Australian Brigade arrived and came under orders of 62 Div. It took up position on the right wing of the division to help fill a gap developing between 62 Div and 12 Div, the left flanking division of V Corps. Later that night the New Zealand Div began to arrive and moved up to Serre, finally filling the gap. On 27.3.18 more heavy fighting took place in which the Germans attempted to turn the right flank of 62 Div at Rossignol Wood and so divide 62 Div from 4 Aust Brigade. Fighting continued through the night, and throughout 28.3.18 strong attacks were made upon 62 Div and 4 Aust Brigade. The British front held and later that day the attacks died away. During the nights of 28 to 29.3.18, 31.3.18 to 1.4.18 and 1 to 2.4.18 62 Div was relieved, brigade by brigade by 42 and 37 Divs, and moved back to the Souastre - Hénu - Pas - Marieux - Authie area. During the period 29.3.18 to 5.4.18 the German attacks weakened and the MICHAEL offensive finally closed on 5.4.18.

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