RJP: 62 Div: 2nd
After the MICHAEL and GEORGETTE
(Battle of the Lys)
offensives, that had been directed against the BEF, the third, codenamed BLUCHER, fell on the French VI Army –
which at that time included the British IX Corps (21, 50, 8
Divs, later reinforced by 19 Div) – on
des Dames front. The battle lasted from 27.5.18 to 4.6.18 and created a
salient on a base of 80 km from Noyon to Reims,
and extending south to Château-Thierry
on the River Marne, a
depth of 50 km. The salient was enlarged somewhat during the course of the two
subsequent (and less successful) German operations viz the GNEISENAU offensive between 9 and 13.6.18 and the FRIEDENSTURM
offensive between 15 and 17.7.18. The latter was the last of the German
offensives. It entailed attacks each side of
After 62 Div had been in GHQ Reserve for three weeks, orders were received transferring it from IV Corps to XXII Corps, which would then consist of 15, 34, 51 and 62 Divs. The Corps was to travel south to the French sector, where 15 Div would join the French XX Corps and 34 Div the French XXX Corps, both in the French X Army located on the western flank of the BLUCHER salient, while 51 and 62 Divs were to constitute a depleted British XXII Corps and join the French V Army on the eastern flank of the salient. On 14.7.18 62 Div began entraining at Doullens and Mondicourt (See Map 1); on 16.7.18 they reached Mailly-le-Camp and detrained at Mailly, Arcis and Sommesous. When detrained, the division moved by bus to billeting areas at Juvigny, Recy and Aulnay, in the French IV Army area and close to the River Marne. On arrival there they received orders to go to the French V Army the next day. Accordingly, on 17.7.18 they moved on, some by bus, others by marching, to Tours-sur-Marne, Plivot, Athis, Cherville, Bisseuil and Mareuil. By 19.7.18 they were in their concentration areas for the forthcoming operations, viz Saint-Imoges, Germaine and Ferme-d’Éceuil near Chamery. XXII Corps’ headquarters was at Vertus.
The plan was for XXII
Corps to attack down the Ardre valley at 8 am on 20.7.18 with 51 Div on the
left side of the river and 62 Div on the right. 62 Div’s
start line was Pourcy to Bois de Pourcy.
French and Italian2
artillery were to support them. Above the start line the valley was heavily
wooded and difficult to penetrate, while below, it was 2 to 3 km wide with
corn-fields near the river and enclosed by steep, heavily-wooded hills each
side. The attack began on time, and after a hard day’s fighting Courmas
had been captured, and the XXII Corps front passed just east of Espilly, Marfaux and Cuitron, thence
through the woods, west of Courmas and on to the
cross-roads between Bouilly and Onrézy. Next day,
21.7.18, attempts were made to clear the woods on the right of the 62 Div
sector of enemy machine guns so that Marfaux and Cuitron
could be assaulted, but they failed with heavy casualties. That evening the
XXII Corps cyclist battalion, from the New Zealand Cyclist Corps, was placed
under 62 Div orders. On 22.7.18 further action was taken to clear the woods and
this time was partially successful. Fighting patrols were sent against Marfaux
but could not enter it. On 23.7.18 the woods were finally cleared of the enemy
with assistance from the French on the right, whereupon Marfaux and Cuitron were captured. During the night of 23 to 24.7.18,
62 Div HQ moved up to Hautvillers. The 24.7.18 was a relatively quiet day,
though Marfaux and Cuitron were heavily shelled by
the Germans. During the day the 62 Div front was shortened by the French on the
right taking over the responsibility for the wooded upper slopes of the valley.
During the night of 24 to 25.7.18 there was a very heavy German air attack on Épernay
and the area as far as Châlons-en-Champagne,
during which the French ammunition and petrol dumps were hit and destroyed. One
account says that 62 Div’s ammunition column was
attacked on the
2.^ Italian fourth Field Artillery Regiment (Basola).
thanks to Google) shows
part of the
This satellite photograph (with thanks to Google) shows the Montagne de Bligny near the D386 road, at the top left of centre. Bligny is to the top right and the Italian cemetery to the middle left. The Montagne rises to 198 metres from 110m, where the D980 crosses the river.
This website gives details of the operations on the Ardre in the summer of 1918 including details of units on the Entente side. It is in French.
This map shows the salient and the advances made as part of the larger operation, by some American units, to the west of the Ardre.