Malasisse Farm stands south east of Epehy.
Lat: 50° 0′ 0.68″ N
Lon: 3° 8′ 49.19 “E
It was the location of a key position in the British front line of March 1918.
On 21 March 1918, the day that the German Army began a huge assault on British Fifth Army, the farm was held by the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers. The map below (an extract from the British Official History) shows the front line (the solid black line) forward of the farm, held by the 2nd Munsters with the 8th Leicesters on their left and 1st Royal Dublin Fusilers on their right.
An extract from the Munsters war diary is shown below (Crown Copyright, National Archives document WO95/1975):
This is the rebuilt farm today, a most impressive and large complex of buildings. The original date of 1632 is shown. We are here standing just on the “German” side of Ridge Reserve North trench looking into the “British” held farm.
From the same spot looking toward the front line and beyond into German-held ground. The Munsters front line was thinly held by only one Platoon of each of B and C Companies – toward Room Trench as seen above.
The battalion’s main line of resistance – Ridge Reserve North Trench – was held by C, D and a part of B Company. It ran along the line of bushes in the foreground, toward Tetard Wood in the distance (below):
The German infantry attack followed six hours of devastating artillery bombardment, in which British artillery, command posts and communications were also drenched with poison gas. Things were not helped by the attack being delivered in thick fog. German troops managed to penetrate between the battalions, in the area between Malassise Farm and the copse on the Munsters right (seen below). The first many of the Munsters knew was that the enemy was behind their right rear. They fell back to hold Ridge Reserve North, and did so for several hours under intense enemy attack.
Gradually the remnant of the battalion withdrew to the railway cutting nearer to the Epehy road:
Malassise Farm is an excellent battlefield spot to visit today. Armed with good maps it is easily possible to follow the German attack and the gallant defence of the Munsters.
The nearest British cemeteries are at Epehy and Ste Emilie. Unicorn Cemetery, on the road between Lempire and Vendhuile, also contains many of the men of the 16th (Irish) Division who died in this area before and on 21 March 1918.
Malassise Farm is private property. Please respect this and do not walk onto the ground without permission. The lane that passes up through the farm, which can be seen on the photos, is a public highway and the site can be visited this way. The farm is in a rural location, with only villages close by. Possibilities for accommodation are in Bapaume, Cambrai and Saint-Quentin.
See more places in the Gazetteer of the Western Front