13 Battalion 30 September 1918

Battle of the St Quentin Canal.  30th September 1918

13th and 16th Battalion, with 3rd Australian Division, Australian Corps, 4th Army (OH)


13th and 16th Battalions had 16 tanks in action on 30th September 1918 (H16)

 

13th Battalion, Composite Company – Maj. Morritt (H13a)

9 tanks

 

16th Battalion, “B” Company – Maj Lewis JE (H16)

2Lt Milward FA

8 other tanks

 

Notes:

Both Battalions were to deploy 9 tanks each, 18 in total, only seven made it to the start line. (H13a):

 

Orders

Attack to be made from the Hargicourt – Bellicourt road on Bony, “B” Company 16th and a composite company of 13th Battalion (H16a). 18 tanks in total (OH)

One section of tanks to go over the canal at Bellicourt and get behind the enemy in Bony (H16a)

Tanks to meet infantry of 11th Brigade, at a rendezvous point on the Bellicourt road (H16a), start from a line 1200yds SW of Bony and assist the 11th Australian Brigade’s attack on the west of the canal towards the Northern entrance of the tunnel, clear the trenches there, then clear Bony and move onto the final objective across the canal. (H13a)

 

Account of Operations

The tanks started at 4:15am when they arrived at the RV but found no sign of the infantry, (OH) The Australian guides who were to lead the tanks to the start point failed to arrive, Maj Morritt moved the tanks forward as best he could along the roads, 7 tanks were at the start line by 6:50am, (W16a) 50 minutes late (OH) this included Lt Milward’s (W16a) of 16th battalion which came under Maj Morritt’s command. (H13a) The tanks then proceeded towards Bellicourt and hid in the hollow at the side of the road when dawn broke. (H16a)

It was very foggy, (H16a) the seven tanks crossed the start line alone as (H13a) no contact had been made with the infantry (H16a) several tanks went forward, they silenced a number of MGs and AT rifles in Bony, then dealt with MG nests beyond the village. (H13a) Two tanks made contact with the Australians at the Knoll (W25). The tanks then returned and rallied in Hargicoiurt at 12 noon. (H13a) The only tank casualty was apparently Lt Milward’s tank which was knocked out by artillery fire from Bony, one crewman missing, one wounded. (H16a) 2Lt Goodman and 1 other rank were wounded but remained on duty (W13a)

 

 

Summary

Total Tanks: 18

Failed to Start: 11

Engaged enemy: 7

Ditched / Broke Down:

Hit and Knocked out: 1

Rallied: 6

 

Note:

The Brigade’s report on operations states 6 tanks went into action, 2 tanks were penetrated by AP bullets, 3 had mechanical trouble and 9 rallied.

It also states 16th Tank battalions company did not go into action. (W25)

 

Aftermath

13th Battalion was next in action on 3rd October 1918

16th Battalion was next in action on 1st October 1918

 

 9023, 9131, 9135, 9097, 9165, 9051, 9124, 9033, 9079, 9386, 9346, 9014, 9388, 9188, 9055 all possibly still operative.           

 

Sources

W25 - 5th Tank brigade War Diary. Report of Operations in PRO WO 95/112

W13a – 13th Battalion’s War Diary in PRO WO 95-115

W16a – 16th Battalion’s War Diary in PRO WO 95-115

H13a – History of the 13th Tank Battalion in PRO WO 95-115

H16a – 16th Battalion’s War History in PRO WO 95-115

OH – Official History, 1918, Vol. 5 pg 135f


St Quentin Canal - 29 September to 2 October (4th Army)

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