Infanterie Regiment Nr. 140 account

IR 140 history cover

This is my translation of the German 140th Infantry Regiment history, covering what happened when the Whippets appeared on the battlefield:

"II./140 reached the sugar factory around noon; III./140 continued to advance towards Colincamps. The point company was 9./140 led by Lt. Simon (Arthur), who was known for his drive, some would say “go get ‘em” attitude. The other companies followed behind at intervals. Lt. Simon reached Colincamps and would certainly have achieved great success if his company and battalion had followed him. But they were surprised by a sudden tank attack with 11 tanks driving in from the right flank, forcing the men to fight them off. The tanks were soon followed by Canadians, who surrounded Lt. Simon and his small band, taking them prisoner after they had resisted vigorously. III./140 then fell back to the high ground near La Signy Farm. Parts of 9. and 10./140 managed to break through the English lines.

Our advance came to a standstill. The regiment was poorly situated as follows: II./140 near the sugar factory; III./140 near La Signy Farm; and I./140, which was no longer under the command of the Regiment having become attached to IR. 49, faced towards Hébuterne. II./140 was now furthest forwards, with the left flank hanging in the air; Reserve Infantry Regiment 81 did not arrive until later. There was a large gap between II. and III./140. Fortunately I./140 was not engaged in combat but was temporarily out of command. The regimental commander was completely preoccupied, being located well forward in the front line, when in the midst of this predicament the enemy - as was becoming apparent - attacked II./140 with strong forces from Colincamps to the front and more especially from Mailly and Auchonvillers towards the open flank. The artillery had not arrived. II./140 abandoned the sugar factory to the enemy and bravely repulsed the attack from the old British trench line. The regimental commander ordered III./140 to leave its machine guns in the front line and to use two companies to fall on the flank of the enemy debouching from Colincamps. The plan worked; the enemy was repulsed and the regiment maintained all of its positions. In the course of this action, III./14 was called on to support the II./140 and stood in readiness behind the left side. A second battalion from IR. 14 took up position by Touvent Farm. The commander of I./140 was ordered by regimental command to position his battalion behind the centre of the regiment as quickly as possible; it arrived there in the evening."

© Robert Dunlop 2014 to date