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Malancourt and Haucort, two villages that lay on the path to Höhe 304. They were both to fall to the Germans as they advanced in the last part of March and the first week of April 1916.  

A period French history describes the action as seen by the French historians…

Right: Looking towards Malancourt from the old French line at Haucourt

Enemy aeroplanes directed artillery fire on the positions in the valley. Haucourt was particularly badly hit. At around 2.00 pm the German infantry attacked the rubble that was once a village. The French infantry stopped them in their tracks.  

The 5th of April, a day of terrible hardship, on that day the 69th Infantry Regiment was to be destroyed.  

All morning long Verdun was bombarded, the main concentrations of fire falling on Haucourt, Vassincourt and Palavas. The positions here were flattened, hidden under a cloud of smoke and dust. No more communication, weapons destroyed. The defenders were caught in a crushing bombardment and were not even able to notice whether their own artillery was returning fire. Few messengers made it to the rear; all reported the same state of affairs... Positions destroyed, many weapons damaged and buried, the defenders killed, wounded or buried under the rubble with their weapons.  

From the heights the French could see the German infantry assembling in the Louviere ravine where the artillery could not reach them and at the windmill near Haucourt. At 4pm the Germans attacked Palavas. A single survivor makes his way back to the French lines after dark and confirms the strongpoint is lost. The Germans had not taken it without own losses, a single French machine gunner kept firing along the road to Malancourt until he was overrun.

Above: The View from the South. The triangle in the middle is Höhe 304, to the right is the villages of Malancourt and Haucourt are separated by a bridge.

Lt. Col. Colin of the 6eme Corps wrote  

“Haucourt fell at 6pm. The last defenders fought with entrenching tools and rocks. Their losses were increased by attempting a counter attack. A few were able to make their way back, haggard and exhausted they were unable to provide any information other than the fact that they had been crushed by the German assault. Commandant Vannier, with three wounds, had had his pockets emptied by the Germans and had been left for dead. He managed to rejoin our positions late that night.”

Left: The Croix de Guerre and Citation at divisional level to Soldat Marcel Richard, hillead at Haucourt onf the 5th of April. His citation reads "At the moment of the enemy attack and inspite of a heavy bombardment he remained at his onservation post and informed his section commander about enemy movements. he was killed at his post"

A battalion of the 26eme R.I. and one of the 153eme R.I. counter attacked late on the 5th but it was too late in the day to push the Germans back. They did succeed in stopping the German from advancing further out of Haucourt but their losses were heavy.  

A battalion of the 37th infantry regiment succeeded in beating back an attack on Bethincourt.

  At 4.40 am on the 6th of April a battalion of the 153eme R.I. and two companies of the 26eme R.I. who had passed through the German barrage formed a defensive line facing Palavas and dug in.  

The defence of then Haucourt sector had cost the French heavy casualties. The 26eme R.I. had lost 20 officers and 800 men. The 69eme R.I. had lost 30 officers and 1300 men all in the period of the 5th-6th of April. The French artillery had fired 120 000 rounds in the sector during the 2 days.

Left: One of the bunkers of the 69eme Regiment d'Infanterie with a monument to the men killed in the German attack as well as to the American who passed through in 1918

Above: A wound badge document to Walter Jaentsch, a medical officer the German 22. Infanterie Regiment, one of the units attacking Malancourt and Haucourt. Jaentsch was wounded at his aid station north of Malancourt on the 22nd of March 1916.

Above: A monument to 21 year old Captain Maurice Petit of the 69eme R.I. killed during the attack on the 5th of April. From the monument in the ex French lines the Germans arrived from the treeline to the North.