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Hohenzollern Redoubt.

Story of British Assault.


The Hohenzollern Redoubt is one of those places on the map of war which will be re- membered not for one engagement in which men have fought desperately for its winning,     but for a long series of attacks and counter attacks and a daily routine of violent shelling

(wrote Philip Gibbs to the ' Daily   Chronicle on November 24)

Today, even as I write, our men in     trenches divided from the enemy only by

earth and sandbag barricades and dead   bodies will be flinging another store of bombs to keep the Germans quiet in their   dug-outs and the enemy's artillery will ravage this neighbourhood with high explo sives. It is by no means a health resort, , the soldiers say.    

It was still less of a health resort on   October 13 when a division of Midland men,   whose personal deeds of courage make a   heroic story - I hate the word "heroic," yet none other may be used for that day's tale   they were ordered to assault and capture it.

The maze of trenches, called a redoubt,   though utterly diiferent from the old meaning of that term, and stuck out as a salient     with a blunt nose beyond the German line to the south of Fosse 8 slag heap, had been   in our hands for a while.        

During the bombardment, which had pre pared the great attack along our line on September 25 storms of shells had made a frightful mess of its barren ground, crumping up many of the trenches, smashing   their parapets and churning up the whitish   earth in a volcanic way. Then the 9th Division got away from our front line,   struggled across this infernal salient, killed large numbers of Germans, knocked out   their machine-guns, and reached the black   stump of Fosse 8.  


Later some of the Guards and other platoons fought over this ground, but the fosse could not be held - it was under direct artillary fire in which no life could endure - and our men had to fall back to their original line, except that they managed to   hold a part of one of the main communication   trenches on the south-east side of the      

Redoubt nicknamed Big Willie.

The enemy had forced their way back into some of their old trenches in this   salient with large numbers of machine guns,   and in spite of the chaos produced by our   shell fire had built up new parapets, flung   out barbed wire, and dug themselves into   this graveyard where many German dead,   and our own, were strewn. It was again  

a stronghold of terrible power, from which machine-guns could sweep like scythes across the flat ground between its outer face   and our front line

It iris lo the division of Midland men tot the order of assault was given on Odo i« 13 I knew the look of a good many ti these men having met them soon after lief came out to 1 raqce Several months

uo-I think that AVIXS in February-eager to proie their trunniß m the lerritoual ir») Ihey were Iii st class men, and I ¿d seen their class und tji-c at work m lit I'otlirns-they AA ere inen of character ¡n the live towns-and in the faetones d ßirmtn(,him (how they used to cheer joe Chamberlain1) and in the callie mar- kt at J mcoln, and down the High streets c1 Lciccstci and Nottingham, where, thej went shopping m a prosperous way, as men nth (.oral liades ind good homes, and a tease of independence


Well it AVIS queer lo find thom all in llaki out heic ni the fields of Trance, and ilisqiiKiei »lill lo think of these young Midland men who lind been brought up to lie|eaccful aits and crafts of life, forcing tarin) up long ditches filled with the ?laokc ind stench of nar, attacking (les Tiiatelj m the face of machine guns which lomited out spluttering streams of bullets, ipasliuiL down bubed Avire with the butt

tub of then rifles, while shells screamed «ne tlinu and hulling bombs for hours

isohtcd positions so that for a rue UKO in this iv ir the strength of a rnan's ht inn, the individual courage of his rail Ins cunning in a tight corner, were lie means of thrusting back the enemy

' Tliv lice noil ers of Nottingham ind kotiuakcm of Lcicistci and potters fiom lit lui loiins who had learnt skill of had and cjo in the craftsmanship of peace, hiidled their bombs us though they had l«n horn lo the job, and in the tumult tf that i« lult did astounding things

Die Midland men went into the tnnchi

nth night of October 12-various officers li men had previously A isitcd them-ind lo the follow mg morning our artillery con (atratcil i tremendous fire upon the re Übt follow ed it 1 p m by Arolumes of cole ind gis The notable features on fa part of the German line ire, on the ejit i group of colliers' houses known aB UCorons de Pekin and a slig heap known tithe Dump to the north-cist of that big (J dump called 1 osse 8, and on the lett lather group of cottages and another black Hock lirthir to the right of the Fosse îtecpo itions are m advance of the Hohen riltm liedoubl, Avlucb our troops Avcre to


It iras not in easy task It was, in fact. Muli Intense as our artillery fire had bait failed to destroy the enemy's barbed TO and front trenches sufficiently to clear ttfira) ind the enemy were still Avorking tbar maihine guns Avhen the fuses wercj

kagthened the fire lifted, and the (ruf/j twds h id rolled a wiy j Be attack on tim right was delivered by

i ongade of Stiffordshire men, who ad , natta m four bncs towurds the Big Willie lunch which forms the south-eastern Bide

«I the redoubt. The leading companies . ravere first over our own parapitB made ' iqoick rush, hilf blinded by the smoke and I« gaseous vapours which filled the air, vadvrore at once received by a very de idly ed persistent fire from many machinc

ps- It swept their ranks, and men fell ! o til Bides Bnt others inn on in little

¡«ties flung ont in extended order I

lotmg officers behaved w ith ( vtreme gal j olly and as they fell cheered their men | Ptijailc others nn forwird shouting foi

»ralby numbers winch dwindled it every I gi BO th it only a few riached the Big

Wli trench in the fi-st assault I i bombing pirty of North Staffordslino1 MIBanaged to eleir 30 yards of the trench y the Tapidity and Bkill with which they «>! their hand grenades at the German «Mrs who endeavoured to keep thom »»t, ami ag un and again the} kept at bay Nbde of men who swirincd np the com Education trenches by a senes of explo «¡n huh blew thim to bits as bomb if ter tob was hurled into their mass by these P» dour fellows of ours who would not Mge from the ground they bad gained


Hey did not yield until nearly every ?n His wounded and many ivere killed "ra then they i etreated j ard bj yard, fal flinging grenades almost Avitli the "¡ihm of a sow ci who se liters his seed,

T motion of tin li ind and arm letting [» one of those steel pomegranates w bach ia W'"1 t'le ncust °* a "igh explosive

The survivors fell back to the other side J1 »barrie ide undo in the Big Willie «nch bi some of the St iff oi dshire men [."ira Ililnnd them ifeiin w is mother

"mer in lase the lirst should be rushed

It seunul as if they iiiieM be n "hod «.»for the Ccrmana wen swarming up »ia'"'i with slrong bombing paities, and .»lira =ooi bl ist a way tbroivli unless they *fi« thrust bij omi the range of hand gren ¡J" It w is lieutenant llawkct, with

wc bouth StalTordshire men, n ho Avent ward to meet this attick and with Bpcrb cour i¡,e 1 ept the enemy back until

'»cloçl m the afternoon when then I yyjjtu w is spent, and ii AVIS neccssaiy "'all bail lo the second barrie! | i fin , ,10w cu-pt ovcl tne battlefield' ¡M tiled the trenches and in the d-u-kness

»« »oundell men were cairied back to tho Wnbile those who hid escaped ivorkcd }jT to »trencillen their defences by sand TMd cailhwoils

i wlynixl morning in attempt was made »I »thor battalions to come to the relief r'SfosiiAlio luid on behind those bimi ra f'«g Willie trench they were Notting T mcn-"Iîobin Hoods and othei Slier "W lads-and they ernie across the open iT»! in two directions attacking the west SL. J" ""? e'ust cnda of 'be Geiman com jnicat.on trenches which form the face wT»c redoubt 1 lÄwere,«'PPOttod bj nile grenade lire, h^Ta\ advance was met bj intense fin S arT'erl «nd machine puns, so that wy suffered i terrible ordeal and could T reach their comrades in Big Willie

JJjMti in spite of a most determined cour


B«t while one bngndo of the Midland »«had been lighting like this on the la» in0t,,er huS»de bad been engaged 2ÏÏ'e derations on the left It con ""»M Bherwood, leicester, and Lincoln

men who on the afternoon of October 13 went forward to the assault with very desperate endeavour Advancing in four lines the lending companies were successful in rciching the Hohenzollern Redoubt smashed through the btrbed wire, part of which was uncut and reached the Iossc trench which forms the north base of the Gai lent

Machine gun lire tried the first two lines severely but the two remaining hues were hea\ily shelled by German .n-tiflery It was nn hour in which the courage of those men was put to a supreme test They were e\ posed on naked ground swept bj bullets the atmosphère was heavj with gas nnd smoke all the ngonj of battle was around them and in front a hidden enemy with unlimited supplies of ammunition and a better position


Nevertheless the Hobin Hoods nnd the j

men of Lincoln and the Leicestershire lids

did not lose their nerve nor the spirit' that has como tn them through the old yeoman stock in which their traditions nre rooted and those who had not fallen

went torwnrd past their wounded comrades (and that was hard), to the German

tienrhes behind the redoubt

At 215 pm Bome Monmouth men carne up in support and while their bombers were at work nome or the 1 incolns pushed up with a machmc-gun to a point within 60 yards from the losso trench where they stayed till dark when they were

forced to fall buck

Aleanwhilc Dirties of bombers itere trv,

ing to loree their way np the Little Willie trench on the extreme left of the redoubt and it was hero tint come of the moat desperate lighting took place Some of the I cicesters made a dash 300 yards up the trench, but were beaten bnck bv ovpr

powering numbers of German bombers andt

I nyonct men nr d ngain and ngain other I Midland Inds went up that allen way of death flinging their grenades until they fell or nntil few comrades left to sup- port them

Single men held on throwing and throw ing until there wns no strength ID their arms to burl another bomb or until death came to the-n Yet the grim business went on through the darkness of the afternoon and into the deeper darkness of the night ht lundis at moments by the white illumination of Cermun flares and bj the flash of bursting rhells

Some of the Hobin Hoods up Little)

\\ illn. trencli were holding out desperately and almost at tht last gisp when thej were relieved by some other Shenvoods nnd it ivis here that Lieutenant (now Cap tain) Vickers wns found in the way that

won him hw V C


Charles Geoffrey Vickers is a Robin Hood in heart as well as m name us far ns the gallant!v and chivalry of that Ï nglish out In» is 1 nown lo tis in old ballads It is a pitv th-it he had to fight with bombs m stead ot with the good old bow which wns i eleanor wnj but that was not his fault and he made the best of his bombs and ti e viloui oí this young man mal es one forget the Inphtfulness of high explosives

which aro a dirtv business

] or hours ho stood there against t horde of men eager for his death enger to get ii the men behind mim But they could not approach He nnd his fellow bombers kept Ivventy yards or moro cleir before tht ni

and any man who flung hnmelt forward was the target of a hand grenade

1 rom Iro it mid from flank German bomba carne whiiving fillim, bhort some tunes with a blasting toar that tore down lumps of trenth and sometimes falling \ery c'ose-close enough to kill

Lieutenant Vickers saw some of his best men fill but he kept the barrier still mt-ict bv the tool nerve with which he still ki pt up his bombing

When many of his comrades weic dend or wounded he wondered how long the bninci would last and gave ordcis foi another to be built behind htm so tint when the rush came it would be stopped behind lum-and ovci lum

Men worked at that btmcado Piling up sandbags arid as it was biiilt J lculenant Viekers knew that his oivn retreat waa being cut off and that he was being coihned in that narrow space Ino othei men were with him-I have not yet leimt their names-and they were hardlv enough to lund up bombs as quiekly as he wished to

tluow them

Away there up the trench the Geimans were waiting for a pounec 1 hough wounded so that lie felt faint and Lidtly

lie called out for moro bombo Morel he said Moro' ' and his band was like a nuchine lc-iehing out ind throwing

Rescue carne none too soon, and the wounded officer was hauled over the barn eade winch lie had ordered to be built be lund lum closing up his way of escape The old Robin Hood did no more gallant



\\l through October li the Midland men held on to their giound, and some of the bhemoods made a new and successful at tack, clearing the enemy out of the east portion of the redoubt

It waa lueky that it coincided with a countci alt tck made by the enemy nt i different point, because it rebeved the .pressure there Bombing duels continued

hour after hour and human niture of the finest tyic could hirdly htvc endured so ' long an ordeil without latigue beyond the

strength of men

I So it BcLius yet when a brigade of I Gu irda caine up on the mrht of October

1516 the enemy ittieked alonL the whole 1 line of the redoubts and t! ( Midland men who were just about to leive the trenehes found themselves engaged m a new action Ihey had to fitht again before they could go ind they fought like fresh men and bombed the enemy back to their holes in I the ground

li was not a great victory It did not I gam mach new ¿round It left a position I which is still most elaborately un I lu ilthy, with the enemy on the other side ot our barricades in BIL, Willie and Little | Vi libe to closi that oi e m IJ heal them

cough and swc-ir in guttural whispeiB lint for sheer individu ti gallantry it is hard to be it the fighting of these And! ind men in their assault upon the Uolienzollern where i tliey left so much good blood