1917 was a difficult year for the Allied high command. With the British and the French suffering from the exertions of the Somme and Verdun, the French army was in a state of mutiny on the Chemin des Dames, and the British were bogged down in the hell of Passchendaele.
The Spring of 1918 saw the British on the defensive around the city of St Quentin, in a series of eight heavily defended strongpoints called Redoubts. On the 21st of March, the Germans launched Operation Michael, their last great offensive of the War. Standing in the way of their advance on St Quentin were the redoubts.
The fighting was brutal and casualties were high but the defence of the redoubts around St Quentin was remarkable. The 30th Division, unwanted by the Corps Commander General Maxse, fought with distinction, nowhere more so in their heroic defence of Manchester Hill. Led by the inspirational Lt. Col Wilfrith Elstob DSO MC, the Manchesters held the hill to the last man, in an action that has gone down in military history as one of the great acts of defiance in the face of insurmountable odds.
Support the podcast: