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Terry_Reeves

German flame thrower attacks

181 posts in this topic

The large scale counterattack on 25 September 1917 was performed by 50 Reserve Division. I have to check my notes and regimental histories as I didn't write about flamthrowers in my book about Gheluvelt.

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7 hours ago, The Prussian said:

Hello!

"Der Weltkrieg 1914-1918" in vol. 13 only mentiones for Sept. 25, that the 50.Res.Div. attacked north of the road Menin-Ypres to take back the trenches between the southwest corner. -----------------  

I couldn´t find a FW-attack for that date in Reddemann´s book. The closest entry was 24.8.17 (12th comp.) at Herenthage. (page 35)

 

I transferred all of Reddemann's material to my time-line over ten years ago, and in my timeline the entry for the Flanders attack was stated as being from his death roll, not his history. That was so far back that I am not clear, but I think it was a roll of all of the dead of the flame regiment, possibly composed for a meeting of the survivors, possibly the one where there is a photo of Reddemann entering in the company of the (ex) Crown Prince, the patron of the regiment, whose Death's Head they all wore. (My mother was mentally ill, and came across my father's Death's Head, and was frightened by it and threw it away.) 

 

So Reddemann's materials (his death roll) mention the Flanders attack of the 25th, but it probably was not in his history, as Andy notes. 

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17 hours ago, 7Y&LP said:

Hello, not sure if I am helping or hindering the thread with this but the below is taken from official records (1st Queens Royal West Surrey Regt) and refered to the Battle of The Menin Road, September 1917. There is mention (eventually) of flame thrower attacks, I believe Bob told me about the unit delivered them and that unusualy they received some casualties. On another note, when reading about Third Ypres I get the impression that this battle didn't happen or if it did it happened in a differing order to the one described below (and in my grandads diary). 

 

 

'The divisional history states that “by 12 midnight, September 24th-25th, both the 98th and 100th Brigades were concentrated for the attack …. In the 100th Brigade the 9th Highland Light Infantry and the 1st The Queen’s were the leading battalions, concentrated on a line running from the south across the Tower Hamlets Ridge, thence across the Reutelbeeke, and to the east of Cameron Copse. These battalions were strongly supported by the machine-gun groups of their Brigade companies. …The attack of the Second Army, including the 33rd Division, was ordered for dawn on September 26th. At 3:30 on the morning of the 25th the enemy opened a bombardment of hitherto unparalleled intensity. So vicious was this bombardment , and in such great depth upon our rear communications, that it was impossible to move transport or troops along the roads. Following up their bombardment, the enemy counter-attacked in massed formation upon our lines, no less than six divisions being used in this attack upon our divisional front. On the right, the posts of 1st The Queens were overwhelmed, the enemy debouching from the village of Gheluvelt armed with flame-throwers; the stream of burning oil thrown from these devilish weapons reached a length and height of 100 yards and set fire to the trees, which being as dry as tinder, immediately took fire. In Inverness Copse was concentrated the 2nd Worcestershire Regiment: two companies of this regiment had already been destroyed by the bombardment. The Glasgow Highlanders moved forward, and with great dash covered up the exposed flank of 1st The Queens’ whilst the 2ns Worcesters consilodated their position…

Except for a lull of about twenty minutes, the intensity of the bombardment continue during the whole of the 25th and the night of the 25th-26th. At 9 p.m. orders were received from the Higher Command that the original attack would be carried out according to plan on the morning of the 26th. The Division by this time had suffered 5,000 casualties…At dawn on the 26th the attack, which has been reinforced by the 19th Brigade, swept forward along the whole 33rd Divisional front with extreme bitterness. Very few prisoners were taken.'

 

7Y&LP

 

Many thanks for your contribution.

 

TR

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ID: 179   Posted (edited)

I could not see any mention of flammenwerfer in the 1/Queens battalion war diary for this period.  They attribute most of their difficulties to the very effective German artillery bombardment and a barrage by heavy Minenwerfer.

Mark

 

[NB ignore first half page and jump direct to the Report on Operation 24th to 27th September 1917]

1Bn_Queens_1917_09_09.jpg

1Bn_Queens_1917_09_10.jpg

 

1Bn_Queens_1917_09_11.jpg

 

 

[Source: http://www.queensroyalsurreys.org.uk/war_diaries/local/1Bn_Queens/1Bn_Queens_1917/1Bn_Queens_1917_09.shtml]

 

 

Edited by MBrockway
Link to source webpage added

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Hello MBrockway, yes an error on my part the extract I quoted was from the 33rd Division history that was photo copied for me at the Imperial War Museum a couple of decades ago. My grandad, who was there in a listening post of 1st Queens, makes no mention of them either in his account but he was busy being 'put in the bag': 

 

'It was a Saturday night and we were going over on Monday at daybreak. During the night I was sent out to a listening post with three others. The Lance Corporal in charge was a City policeman first time up. One old boy, fetched up for service when age limit was put up to 41. The other a lad who had been in the line before but never in a stunt. Our job was to stay two hours and give alarm to our front line of raiding or bombing parties. We were left there for the night. At daybreak the guns started a barrage between where we were and the Jerry front line. I took charge, thought it was ours and told the others to watch for our chaps coming and join in with them, thinking our stunt had been put forward a day. I was wrong. It was not long before the shells were bursting around our ears. Once again I say it. I did not get the wind up. I lit up to have a smoke, saying to the others, may as well go as comfortable as possible bound to get one in a minute, but it was not to be, we sat in that hole with no cover at all, every gun within range sweeping the ground. A few seconds after the barrage had passed I pulled my legs out of the muck, brushed the dust off my rifle bolt and had a look out. Less than twenty yards away was a German officer leading his platoon. Saying that I was going to have as many of them as I could before they got me I started to have a go. The old boy with us said don’t shoot for God’s sake we shall all be killed. That finished it. The Jerries heard him and had me covered, might have got one before they had me. It wasn’t worth it. I threw off my equipment and I and the others were wiped up. I will give the City Policeman L.C.  his due. He wanted to start chucking Mills bombs at them. What was the good with thirty rifles covering four of us ?'

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No error on your part, 7Y&LP,  I have the 33rd Division history and it says exactly what you quoted above - it's p.67.

 

Any error is more likely to have come from the author, Seton Hutchinson, who is not always accurate.

 

I'll check the brigade and divisional war diaries when I get a chance.

 

Cheers,

Mark

PS Got your PM ... don't hold out much hope, but will look into it ;)

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