The Battle of Broodseinde, 4 October 1917
Favourable weather held prior to the third of Plumer's 'limited objective' offensives. Re-scheduled for 4 October, the operation aimed to complete the capture the Gheluvelt Plateau and the occupation of Broodseinde Ridge.
Notably, I and II Anzac Corps were allocated principal roles at the centre of the line, supported by simultaneous advances by eight British Divisions. Despite vigorous German counter-attacks after 26 September preparations for the battle were not seriously interrupted. Seeking to mislead the enemy about the timing of the attack intermittent 'practice barrages', starting 27 September, were preferred to continuous massive bombardments.
In blustery drizzle, assault troops entered the line at dusk on 3 October and, wet-through by early next morning, occupied start-lines on the eight mile attack frontage. Forty minutes before zero-hour an intense German bombardment fell on the assembled Anzacs but did not disrupt the main attack. At 6am the surprise British hurricane bombardment hammered down on German positions; the attackers surged forward. I Anzac Corps, moving up the forward slopes of Broodseinde Ridge, unexpectedly collided with advancing German infantry; a vicious combat ensued and the enemy was overwhelmed. Pressing on, the line of pillboxes just below the crest was, with much gallant and desperate fighting, cleared; the Australians and New Zealanders topped the ridge by 9am. Supporting on the right, X Corps drove on to the eastern edge of Gheluvelt Plateau; on the left, Fifth Army formations advancing towards Poelcappelle kept pace with Anzac forward moves. By noon most main objectives had been gained.
Many elated participants felt the day marked a monumental victory; German losses were high and many prisoners taken. But the limited advance had been costly and by evening rain set in; once more the battlefield began its transformation into a swamp.
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