Western Front 1918: The German Offensives

Beaurevoir Line

The Battle of the Beaurevoir Line, 3 – 5 October 1918

In the days immediately following 29 September, General Rawlinson’s British Fourth Army sought to exploit its breakthrough of the Hindenburg Line and maintain the Allied offensive momentum. Between 30 September and 2 October, Rawlinson’s troops gained further ground in difficult piecemeal fighting in which his formations aligned with the leading thrusts of IX Corps, forcing the Germans back to their last prepared defensive position, the Beaurevoir Line, roughly two miles behind the main Hindenburg System. Rawlinson, eager to push on, initiated a large set-piece assault with the aim of piercing this final barrier but, despite the desperate state of enemy, Fourth Army’s attacks met severe resistance including many counter-attacks. The fighting for the Beaurevoir Line was ferocious and intense.

View of the Beaurevoir Line, taken from near Grandcourt. Australian War Memorial, E03457P.At 6.05am on Thursday 3 October the assault began with simultaneous attacks by the IX and Australian Corps, well supported by artillery and wire-crushing tanks. On a 10,000 yard attack frontage an advance of 2,000 yards was achieved by nightfall, though neither the fortified villages of Montbréhain and Beaurevoir were secured. Further attempts to gain these localities failed on the following day as the actions of 4 October, beginning in dense fog, saw very limited gains.

The battle, supported by artillery bombardments and tanks, was renewed with vigour on Saturday 5 October; at ‘Zero Hour’, again 6.05am, in faint dawn light, the Australian 2nd Division moved against Montbréhain and the 25th Division, further to the north, attacked towards Beaurevoir. Toiling through thick barbed-wire entanglements and concentrated German machine-gun fire, Australian and British infantry pressed forward: Montbréhain was secured by late afternoon and the greater part of Beaurevoir was cleared of the enemy around 7pm.

By late evening it was clear that the Beaurevoir Line, the final prepared German defensive position facing Fourth Army had been broken; open country lay beyond.

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