Havrincourt And Epehy

On September 12th 1918, three divisions of the British Third Army attacked the village of Havrincourt, a strong point which was defended by four German divisions. Despite the Germans numerical superiority they were unable to hold the town, and were slowly but surely forced out by the ANZAC, Canadian and British. By the end of the day the town was in Allied hands.

It was not a particularly large battle but it marked a turning point, General Julian Byng considered it to be the final turning point of the war.

"He reckons his most important day with the 3rd Army to have been the capture of Havrincourt by the 56th Division in September 1918. He supported it quickly with two other divisions, and the Boches threw two of the old Vionville divisions of their 3rd and 10th Corps, Brandenburgers and Hanoverians, against him with two more in reserve. They were well beaten, and the heart was out of the enemy afterwards."

Field Marshal Haig was not eager to carry out further assaults in September, due to mounting Allied losses - 600,000 casualties since March, with 180,000 of them in the previous six weeks. But Havrincourt changed Haigs mind. The following day he approved General Rawlinson's plan to clear German outposts before the Hindenburg Line at Epehy, where the brilliant Australian General John Monash achieved a spectacular success with his two Australian divisions. 6800 Australians in one day captured 4243 prisoners, 76 guns, 300 machine guns and 30 mortars, in an advance of three miles, in exchange for 1260 casualties of their own - after the battle Rawlinson reported to Haig that German officers were saying they would not fight Australian troops based on their success at Epehy.

It was clear that the German Army was crumbling and Epehy further encouraged the Allies to take swift action before the Germans could recover.

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