Monday, 27 August 2018

Battle of Mont St Quentin

The 1st of September will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle of Mont St Quentin. After the success achieved at Amiens on the 8th August it was agreed by both Foch and Haig that the Fourth army should continue it push east from Amien.  The end of August found the German Army at its last stronghold Mont St Quentin overlooking the Somme River and the town of Peronne.  Mont St Quentin stood out in the surrounding countryside making it a perfect observation post and therefore a key strategic area to control. It was also an important area for the Germans to control the Somme.  Lt. General, Sir John Monash was keen to capture it and thereby control a key strategic position.

The 2nd Australian division crossed the Somme River on the evening of 31st August and attacked Mont St Quentin at 5am on September 1st. They attacked from the unexpected position from the northwest. It was diffcult in that it was an uphill fight across very open ground which made them susceptible to attack from The Germans who occupied the higher ground.   By 7am the Australian troops had gained the village of Mont St Quentin and the slope and summit of the hill.  The five German divisions were confused and dispersed.  They quickly regrouped and counter attacked with fierce fighting and heavy losses.  The Germans also attacked and shelled heavily Peronne.  Much of the fighting was hand to hand combat.  The outnumbered Australians were pushed back off the summit of Mont St Quentin. Relief battalions were sent for and with their reinforcements the Australians were able to recapture all areas.  In the process they sustained 3000 casualties. As a result the Australians were able to make a stronghold on the area and forced a complete withdrawal of German forces from Peronne. This Australian operation is sometimes regarded as the finest achievement of the AIF.

Ballarat Star 3 September 1918

Capture of Mont St Quentin. Courtesy AWM   

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