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fritz

Battle of Arras 1917

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Hello,

last october I made an excursion to Arras. Near Neuville-Vitasse, southern of Arras, at telegraph hill, I found this bunker. Is there anybody, who knows the function of this building?

The pic is made from telegraph hill to Neuville-Vitasse. In this valley attacked the 1st London Division the German lines at 9th april 1917. Just in the near the London cemetery at the street from Neuville-Vitasse to Beaurains.

Regards

Fritz

post-12337-1197910450.jpg

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It's a German OP bunker, forming part of the Hindenburg Line, south of 'The Harp'.

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that means "observation post"?

And this just near it, what could it be?

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Yes, sorry, it's an Observation Post. This one is most probably an infantry shelter. There are quite a few in this area, all part of the defences I mentioned above. And of course these are the ones we can see at ground level.

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And this? This is made nearer to Neuville-Vitasse. A group fo trees and bushes. You can see it in the in the middle of the valley in my first bunker-pic. Just there, where Flank south post of London Rangers at 9th april 1917 must have been. Is this in any way significant or only an agricultur building of later times?

Fritz

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Nice photograhs, anymore please

Andy

:)

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Hello,

this is London cemetery Neuville-Vitasse. At the horizon you can see Mercatel. Neuville-Vitasse and Mercatel are bounded by a street of 2 km or so. In the middle at its highest point is Neuville-Mill. Destroyed by war and never reconstructed.

Here took place a fight and I found the story of it in the Regimental history of I.R. 163:

"Eastersunday, 8th april 1917

At night the enemy suddenly attacked the outpost at the windmill. At the street Neuville-Mercatel appeared English forces, which advanced against our position. When the enemy was visible, the soldiers of the outpost, men of 12th company, started to fire. Vizefeldwebel d.R. Apt helped with some men. The attack was repeled. Still four times more the Englishmen attacked the brave Apt and his small party. Each time they were sent back. Hand grenades rushed to the enemy and when the last was thrown, the ten men of Apt offered resistance to the 80 Tommies with their butts. Some Englishmen were knocked down and three of them were captured. They belonged to 1. London Regiment Royal Fusiliers. This succes was above all praise. One Schleswig-Holsteinian against 8 Englishmen! The Regimental Commander Oberstleutnant Sick honoured this with highest respect ..."

Fritz

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Hi Fritz

Fantastic little snippet from the regimental history...leaves me wanting for more. It is 'my area' in the sense that I have a house in a nearby village and I walked past the very spot described in the account a couple of months ago whilst there. I also note you come from Hannover, about 45 minutes away from where I live. Maybe, if you don't mind, a possible peek at more of that regimental history and any more from the area and the attack in Spring 1917?

Jim

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Hello Jim,

thanks for your reply.

Yes, there are more snippets like this about Neuville-Mill at 9th april 1917, when the battle of Arras commenced.

"The first attack of the enemy in the section of I.R. 163 was at the left flank of the regiment. In an outpost-trench between Neuville-Vitasse and Neuville-Mill was the 3rd company with Leutnant Thüden. The company must have suffered indescribable by the artillery-preparation. Already wear down and with a lot casualties by preparation-fire, the small number of survivers defended desparing their position. Bravely fought the company, especially its commander against the Englishmen. But the majority of the enemy was too large and so they were defeated. Most of them died, with them Leutnant Thüden, this proved fighter of the Somme. The second time in only a half year our 3rd company was completely destroyed"

So the German report. In "Cheerful Sacrifice" I found this.

"Neuville-Mill, a concrete emplacement on the Mercatel road, had promised be a problem; all previous attempts by the 1/3rd Londons to knock it out had been thwarted. But at zero hour on 9 April a tank had driven straight up to the strongpoint and fired its six-pounder gun directly through the embrasure, killing nine of the defenders and destroying the machine gun. B-company of the 1/3rd Londons captured the four stunned survivors."

The German report continues:

"After conquered our position at Neuville-Mill English forces assaulted the 1st trench in the village supported by six tanks. In this trench was the 11th company with Leutnant Jenz."

I searched this concrete emplacement. The place, where Neuville-Mill must have been, is easy to find. Of the bunker is no more to see, but only some stones are showing, that it had existed.

Jim, do you know more places like this in the area?

Best wishes to Bückeburg

Regards

Fritz

post-12337-1198757010.jpg

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Fritz

My first attempt at an upload. This is a photograph from London Cemetery towards the rear of Neuville Vitasse, the village cemetery being on the right of the picture with Pine Lane trench cutting across from there to the left. If this works I will try to add some more images from last week.

Jim

post-28845-1199568316.jpg

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That worked so here's another. You wanted other bunker sites Fritz, well the next two photos are the bunkers either side of the Tiiloy to Wancourt road. The first is on the north of the road from Tilloy and is looking back towards that village. The second is on the south and is looking towards Neuville Vitasse.

Jim

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post-28845-1199569018.jpg

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Lastly, unless people want a few more, Tigris Lane Cemetery just as the sun was going down. A lovely peaceful place on a quiet winters evening.

Jim

post-28845-1199569316.jpg

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Great pictures Jim - thanks for posting. Always room for more!

Roger

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Hello Jim,

thank you for your pics.

Here comes one of the battle-field northern of Neuville-Vitasse. Hundred meters ahead must have been Telegraph Hill Trench. In the middleground you see some trees, there had been the headquarters of the front-batallion. The stand-by batallion was in the artillery valley and the rigiment had rest billets at Monchy-le Preux. My grandfather was captured in this Telegraph Hill Trench by London Scottish at 9 april 1917.

Regards

Fritz

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Nice pictures Jim and Fritz

I would like to see more if you have any please

Andy

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Fritz

Now I see your interest in the area! Here is a shot from further up the road to Tilloy. At this point Telegraph Hill Trench crosses the road and the shot is one taken back down the trench line in a south easterly direction. Your grandfather was most likely in this section of the trench as this is the ground taken by the London Scottish after they had passed through the Rangers.

Jim

post-28845-1199648282.jpg

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Hi Jim and Fritz

Great Piccies.

Help's bring to life my grandfather's final action on 9/4/17.

Thanks again Jim, for the Memorial pics you PM'd to me. Moving!.

I must make the trip very soon

Howard

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Hi Jim and Fritz. Thank you both for the great pics.

If either of you know of the location of "Infantry Hill" I would be most grateful for a pic. I am researching the life of Sgt Alfred Willetts 29 Div. 4th bn Worcestershire Regiment who was killed there on the 24th of april 1917 (Second battle of the Scarpe).

Many thanks once again for the great pics.

Dave.

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post-5284-1199719156.jpg

Hoping this helps.. I am unable to load a better quality or larger image, it goes over the 100k restriction.

If you need a larger copy pm me with your e-mail address

regards

Tom

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Dave

The map above is from December 1917 when lines had settled a bit. Here's another dated Feb 17 but with some interesting crayoning - looks like a simple plan of an attack on Infantry Hill! 88th Brigade in which the Worcesters served is written on the right flank of the attack. On the left flank is the South Wales Borderers of 87 Brigade. One of the more experienced Pals will tell us which battalion is attacking here.

Jim

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Thank you both Jim and Tom :) . Information on Infantry Hill seems a little scant until you come to this great forum! Both maps are extremely useful and will help me when I do manage to get to Arras to pay my respects.

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Hello,

Jim, very good this photo of Neuville-Vitasse, very atmospheric.

Dave, sorry I have no pics eastern of Monchy.

For the moment here comes another view, made from Telegraph Hill to N-V.

Fritz

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Fritz

I don't know whether you have access to trench maps but the following might help if not. First is a modern (fairly - French maps are not tremendously up to date!) 1:25000 with markers on which are shown again on a trench map from March 1917. Colours are confusing as these were all German trenches before the retreat. I have not seen any maps for the actual April attack with the normal 'other' colour for Allied owned trenches. A photo to go with yours shows my car, as marked on the map, to help with orientation, agaion towards N-V.

Howard, I will try to get some photos of where the 11th Middlesex attacked in a few weeks but they will be full of warehouses I am afraid.

Jim

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post-28845-1200430018.jpg

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Funny - I added an image in a new post and the it was put before the first one! Ah well, pretty obvious which map is which.

Jim

post-28845-1200430318.jpg

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Hi Jim

Thanks for that. You're a real toff.

I've enjoyed these piccies from you and Fritz.

Howard

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