25th Sept 1917: Germans attack 15th Bgde preparing for Polygon Wood attack

Two practice barrages took place in preparation for the following day’s attack – the first at 6.30am by the whole artillery of the army lasting an hour, and at 8.30am by the guns of I Anzac Corps for 18 minutes. The German artillery was also active and at 5.30am the SOS signal went up and two hours later it was clear that the Germans had attacked and seized part of the front line, the forward ammunition dump for the next day’s attack had been blown up, and that preparations including the creation of the JOT for the attack would be visible to the enemy. 15th Brigade Commanding Officer General Elliott decided to send two companies of the 60th Battalion forward to restore the breached line and shore up his flank, but against a deteriorating system with the Germans shelling and aeroplanes shooting at his troops. Columns of Germans were seen moving forward against the 58th Battalion and by 10am had worked their way round their flank to fire at them from behind. The Middlesex’s supported by the Argyll & Sutherlands pushed forward on the 15th Brigade flank and the German thrust ended, but for Elliott he had thrown in all but the 59th Battalion of his infantry for the following days attack, and the 58th and 60th had suffered heavy losses. At 7pm Elliott called General Hobbs (AIF 5th Division Commanding Officer) to inform the seriousness of the situation however Hobbs and Birdwood confirmed that the attack would take place and that the 8th Brigade would lend two battalions.

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