Mont Saint Quentin is a rising slope that overlooks Péronne, forming an ideal observation point and strategic position that was firmly defended by the Germans in the summer of 1918.
Before 1916, Mont Saint Quentin only disposed of a few basic facilities including a trench, an observation and command post and a few anti-aircraft batteries.
Although the front line was located several kilometres away when the Battle of the Somme began, new trenches still had to be dug. Amongst the better known was Gotlieb Trench, called Elsa Trench by the Allies.
31 August – 1 September 1918, the Battle of Mont Saint Quentin
Since the Allied counter-attack of the 8 August 1918 (the Battle of Amiens), Australian troops had surged along the Somme Valley pushing the Germans back to their old positions of 1916. During the first attack, Mont Saint Quentin was captured; in just a few hours, eight companies of Australians had managed to capture one of the most formidable positions of the Western Front. The Germans, however, wasted no time; they counter-attacked and forced the Australian troops back to their trenches.
The assault was launched again on the following day. One brigade was given the task of taking Mont Saint Quentin, while the other was to concentrate on the southern end. After vicious fighting and artillery fire, the German troops finally withdrew. Mont Saint Quentin had been captured and the fighting was taken to the town of Péronne.
Australian Remembrance Trail of the Battle of Mont-Saint-Quentin
The Battle of Mont Saint Quentin holds a very important place in Australian collective memory. At the end of summer 1918 (29 August to 2 September), in the fight for this heavily defended German position, 3,000 Australian soldiers were made casualty in just four days. This battle led to the liberation of Péronne and is known in Australia as one of the greatest feats of arms of the Australian Army Corps. In the spring of 2015, with the support of the Australian Embassy and contributions from specialist historians, the Historial created a remembrance trail on this former battleground, with interpretative information provided at six points, incorporating the Australian Memorial.
The Guardrooms of the Historial, Museum of the Great War complete the tour. The last hall is devoted to the history of the Australians in the Somme, especially to their exploits during the Battle of Mont Saint Quentin.