German official history account

Tag X cover

Der Tag X” is the German account of Operation Michael as part of the "Unter dem Stahlhelm. Einzelschriften aus dem Weltkriege” series (Volume 7):

"The advance [of German 4th Division] was held up near Hébuterne. Regiment von Kluck was lightly engaged there... Rittmeister von Meyer set up in the sugar factory, whilst Hauptmann Thiemann pushed on towards Colincamps. Major Wilke pulled up alongside the right flank of the men from Gnesen [region in East Prussia, now part of Poland].

The ‘Thruster’, Leutnant Simon, had already disappeared with his point squad into Colincamp, which dominated the surrounding terrain. Control of this location was vitally important. The outcome on the northern battleground hung by a thin silk thread ...

9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Companies advanced as quickly as possible towards Colincamps! Battalion Thiemann was struggling as it neared the town when, suddenly, something smacked into the right flank. There was a rumbling noise like heavy iron blocks rolling forwards, with grinding and clinking like steel chains being pulled over rollers, and the ground trembled as if it was being hit by huge hammers. Shadowy towers rose up from the valley, towers that were driving forwards:  one - three - six - nine - eleven tanks! Their tracks ate into the ground. The giants rocked up and down, lifting their noses high and then plunging back to the ground. And then flash after flash of lightning flickered from the moving towers. Behind them swarmed khaki-clad figures. The armour plating brushed off bullets fired by the German infantry like pebbles. There was no artillery nearby. Battalion Thiemann had to fall back to La Signy Farm, which it subsequently defended against every attack. The tanks disappeared. Canadians [sic. – New Zealanders] pushed into Colincamps: a brief struggle ensued with Simon and his small band of men but their fate was sealed; few made it back. At the eleventh hour, this tank attack had stopped the German breakthrough.

Battalion Meyer also had to abandon the sugar factory in the evening because the right flank of the adjacent 21st Reserve Division was only just past Beaumont. In the evening, Major Daniels and his men from Gnesen were positioned in front of Hébuterne, having failed to capture the town by a coup de main."

© Robert Dunlop 2014 to date