The Battle for Montuaban, 1st - 3rd of July 1916.

The Battle for Montuaban, 1st - 3rd of July 1916.

At 7.30 am the Manchester Pals in the 16th and 17th Battalion watched as the first wave of khaki clad soldiers swept into view. From their assembly trenches behind Talus Boise the Manchester's could already see many casualties lying out in No Man's Land. Across a scene of devastation through which the 1st and 2nd City Battalions had advanced, two platoons of the 4th City Battalion, the 19th Manchester's moved into Train Alley facing east, just south of Montauban. Montauban was practically deserted and was completely in ruins. It was almost impossible to trace the plan of the streets. Those members of the 16th and 17th Manchester's who had survived the machine gun fire and shrapnel shells which had stalked their advance now took over within the crumpled but welcoming heaps of destruction which marked the sight of the village to the north of Montauban. In front of Montauban the men of the 1st and 2nd City Battalion's were still desperate for water. With the onset of darkness many exhausted men found it impossible to resist sleep. The had been awake for thirty six hours. Many of the men had not drunk water for twenty four hours. At 3.00 am the men were anticipating the order to stand down. When lines of grey clad figures moved into sight, across the ridge. These were the men of the 16th Bavarian Regiment. Opposite them in Montauban Alley were roughly 150 men of the 1st City Battalion on whose right were an equally small number of the 2nd City men of the 17th Manchester's, however east of the junction between the 16th and 17 Manchester's, a lodgement in advance of the front lines was made by a party of German soldiers who occupied the detachment post held near Triangle Point. The defenders from "A" Company of the 16th Manchester's, held out until their small supply of grenades gave out, only then attempting to retire. Of the group just three got back, two of whom were wounded. This was the last counter attack launched during the 2nd of July and the Manchester's held the village of Montauban. During the proceeding twenty four hours the 1st City Battalion had lost heavily. By early morning the remnants of the 1st City Battalion were able to file down the communication trenches back past Talus Copse, for the 2nd City Pals that relief would take a further twenty four hours. In the meantime the Scots Fusiliers and men of the 18th Manchester's were drafted in to garrison parts of Montauban Village and secure the defences. Early on the 3rd of July the 2nd Manchester Pals hard won place was taken over by the 12th Royal Scots of the 9th Division. For the moment the tension and anxiety were dissipated. The surviving vestige of the 2nd Pals had been on their feet for sixty hours. They had also suffered extensive losses, 8 officers and 350 men leaving a Battalion strength amounting to 450 of all ranks.

Created by: Desmond1478

  • Profile picture for Charles Higgins

    Born 1895

    Died 1916

    British Army 8178 Private Manchester Regiment 17th Battalion