Monday, 13 March 2017

Attack on the Loupart Line

Tuesday 13th March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

At 2 am this morning the 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment was in position ready to make an attack on the Loupart Line east of the village of Irles. An hour later a message was received from the Australians east of Loupart Wood to the effect that the enemy were retiring. No patrol could be sent out by darkness but a daylight patrol was organised which reported that the Loupart Line had been evacuated.

Thus, at 11 am D Company moved to the Loupart Line. C Company followed in support. The companies moved in four open waves each. The companies were under shell fire and considerably troubled with machine gun fire from Achiet-le-Petit about two miles to the north. According to the adjutant, however, “The formations were splendid and the men were wonderfully steady”.

By 12.15 C Company had passed through D Company and continued in four waves, with scouts, about 200 yards in advance until held up by heavy machine gun fire from a line of trenches dubbed the Achiet Line. By 1 pm the Battalion occupied the Loupart Line and, an hour later, had also taken Hill 130 after considerable resistance.

By 4 pm the Battalion was in its final position, near a place where five roads met dubbed The Star Roads on Hill 130. Tonight the Battalion is consolidating a line shown in blue on the map above, facing Achiet-le-Petit to the north

Coincidentally 2nd Division are also operating in this area, including 1st/1st Field Company, East Anglian Royal Engineers. At 6.45 am the Company was told to consolidate strongpoints behind the new front line to be taken up by 6th Infantry Brigade on Irles-Grevillers Road. The infantry advance being successful, the Company with attached sappers’ mates, constructed and wired 5 strongpoints as shown by blue x’s on the map above. Three other ranks were wounded during the day(1).

Source: X550/8/1; WW1/WD2

(1) Two men subsequently died - on the day itself 522252 Sapper C A Howe of 33 Goldington Road, Bedford, aged 24 (buried Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont) and 522004 Sapper Edward Stanley Moore, 25, from Sherington or Newport Pagnell in Buckinghamshire who is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

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