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Pozieres Memorial, France Pozieres Memorial, France
First Name: William John Last Name: WALLOND
Date of Death: 22/03/1918 Lived/Born In: Harringay
Rank: Second Lieutenant Unit: Middlesex13
Memorial Site: Pozieres Memorial, France

Current Information:

Age-19

337, Green Lanes, Harringay

 

With an end to the fighting on the Eastern Front after the Russian Revolution, Germany was able to bring its troops from there to France and launch a series of offensives in the Spring of 1918, designed to bring the war to a swift conclusion. Four times between March and July they attacked in strength and on each occasion they broke through the British and French lines and made spectacular gains but in each case they over extended themselves and without adequate supplies keeping up with their rapid advances, they could go no further.

The first of these attacks, Operation Michael, was made on 21st March by 63 specially trained divisions, attacking along a 60 mile front held by 26 British divisions, many of them in a weakened state At 4.40am the German artillery opened up with the most ferocious and concentrated bombardment of the war, the likes of which the British had never experienced before. The Forward Zone, consisting mainly of individual posts was blown away. Very few of the men there made it back. Many were killed and many more were taken prisoner. The Battle Zone was also battered as were the British guns, firing from positions just to the rear. Brigade and Divisional HQs were targeted as well and then, from out of the thick mist came the German storm troopers. Moving fast, they skirted round the few remaining strongholds and penetrated deep into the British lines, including those of the Battle Zone, causing the utmost confusion. There were many cases of heroic stands being made but the relentless pressure forced the British back everywhere and there then began a general retreat that went on for two weeks and which ceded to the Germans a huge amount of territory, including all of that that had been won at such great cost during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

When the German offensive began on 21st March, 24th Division were holding the line just to the north of St, Quentin with 73 Brigade, which included the 13th Middlesex battalion, in reserve at Bernes in the Battle Zone. The German onslaught had not been unexpected and  all the battalions had been allotted battle positions for when it commenced which in the case of 13th Middlesex were a line of redoubts covering Vermand. An hour after the artillery bombardment began they moved up, under heavy shelling, to these battle positions. At 9pm the troops of 17 and 72 Brigades, which had been in the Forward Zone began falling back on these positions and were rallied here. 13th Middlesex were not in action on 21st March but  on 22nd March they found themselves in the thick of it. The German advance continued and C and D Companies were early in action driving the enemy back three times until the pressure became so great that they were forced back. At 2.30pm they fell back under heavy machine gun and artillery fire through 50th Division who were holding the Villeveque-Boully line and by 5pm were at the crater on the Estrees crossroads. From there moved to Meraucourt where 73 Brigade had been ordered to concentrate. Among their casualties during the course of the day was William Wallond.

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