Schwaben Redoubt 

Schwaben Redoubt 

The Schwaben Redoubt was a huge fortification on the high ground between Thiepval and St Pierre-Divion. A complex of trenches that characterised the whole of the German front line. In Thiepval Wood, South of the Redoubt, the Men of the Ulster Division were in fine fighting spirit! Before Zero Hour they crept forward towards the German lines and when the bugle sounded all recollection of orders to advance in line was forgotten, if any had been given!? As the barrage was raised the Ulstermen rushed forward and charge. Before the Germans could emerge from their shelters, the 1st line trenches had been entered. They pressed forward more in the the Schwaben Redoubt itself, the resistance was tough. Meanwhile the Germans turned their guns on to the flank of the Ulsters and as the next wave, four Belfast Battalions, came through and found themselves under heavy enfilading fire. The fight for the Schwaben Redoubt was long and vicious. Whole packs of grenades were hurled down in to dugouts and the stove pipes leading in to the living quarters. By mid morning, the position was taken and some 500 prisoners were in British hands. The Troops were however leaderless and out of touch with their divisional command. What the Belfasts had been ordered to do and what they expected to be doing had they not been embroiled in the fight for the Redoubt, was to take the second line that ran South from Grandcourt with the Stuff Redoubt lying on the line of the adcvance from through the Schwaben Redoubt. They pressed on ahead of schedule, this proved fatal, there was no resistance but their own artillery fire working to a rigid schedule stopped their attacks. Those whom remained could see German Troops gathering in Grandcourt ready to counter-attack so returned back to their comrades. There, in their newly captured strongpoint, the Ulsters found themselves isolated. Attacks on each flank had failed and these men, the only to penetrate the German second line, had no support against the gathering strength of Germans. The German attacks to regain the Schwaben Redoubt were unremitting. Each wave was driven off, but the casualties grew and ammunition ran low. By the evening the Ulsters were forced to retire to the old German front line, where they were at last relived by the West Yorks. The adversaries were to occupy these same positions for the next 3 months. The Ulsters lost some 2000 dead and 2700 wounded. 165 were taken prisoner. 

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