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Arras - Second Battle of the Scarpe


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#1 PPCLI

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 10:58 AM

Hello everyone,

I am trying to help a friend whose husband's grandfather who was severely wounded while serving with the 87th MG Coy during the Second Battle of the Scarpe on 23 April 1917. I am trying to pin down the area of his section's gun placement - the map coordinates were given as O.1.c.9.2.

87th MG Coy diary.jpg

I have searched online but without much success - I think the closest I have found is a map given in a previous GWF thread. The map in post #20 may refer to the 1st KOSB on 23 April 1917. Pages 190-1 of the regimental history state:

After three days at Arras resting and preparing, the battalion returned to the line in a sector which extended about 500 yards from the E. outskirts of the centre of Monchy to a point opposite the N. edge of the Bois du Vert. They therefore faced Infantry Hill. On their L. were the S.W.B. facing the Bois du Sart and intervening plantations. On their R., but echeloned back 1,000 yards, were the Worcesters.

Does anyone have access to a trench map of that area and period of war? Do the map coordinates O.1.c.9.2 tally with this general area of the battlefield (i.e. east of Monchy and facing Infantry Hill)? Perhaps the Linesman system can help with a modern map to allow his family to visit the area?

Thank you,

Stuart

#2 Jim Smithson

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 01:26 PM

Hi Stuart

I'm not as far as getting to all 29th Divisional material as yet but I do have a useful map from HQ 15th Division which will help I hope:

15th Division HQ 43 (Large).jpg


The MG section was positioned south of Monchy and firing SSE into the valley where you see Pick Trench (German on the 23rd).

I'll pick out the position on some clearer maps in a moment.


This next map is from a few days after the offensive so the British line is advanced but you can see the trench system quite well. The flag marks the map position which makes sense for the orders they had.

Monchy 27th April (Small).jpg


#3 Jim Smithson

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 01:29 PM

Finally, thanks to Linesman for the last and next map, the modern 25000 with the flag in position.

Monchy modern (Small).jpg


Your friends should certainly be able to visit very near to the spot.

If you need any further help or higher res copies of the above let me know.

Jim

#4 towisuk

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 01:32 PM

I hope these map sections from "Linesman" help Stuart,
regards
Tom

Monchy2.jpg

I see you have beaten me to it Jim!!
Tom
Monchy environsA.jpg

#5 Roger H

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 02:47 PM

Is there any truth in the rumour that Jim's PC is rigged so that alarms go off and lights flash every time someone types in "Arras" or "Scarpe" in the GWF? :lol:

Roger (a recipient of much good info from Jim in the past :thumbsup: )

#6 towisuk

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 06:04 PM

There must be some warning system Roger, it's only when I had posted my first map reply that I noticed he'd beaten me to it....
regards
Tom

#7 PPCLI

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 06:27 PM

Jim and Tom,

A big thank you for your prompt and informative replies. It makes such a difference having some decent reference maps, doesn't it? On a modern aerial view, I think the reference is about in the area of the red box in the image below, which means that the land hasn't been developed and so will certainly be worth a visit.

O1c92aerial.jpg

Jim, re 29th Divisional material - I have copied various 29th Div and 87th Bde reports at Kew, and also have the 1st KOSB and 87th MG Coy war diaries. If you want copies, PM me with your email address.

Thanks again,

Stuart

#8 Jim Smithson

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 08:10 PM

Roger - Just happened to be here.

Been in hospital having my sinuses cleared of horrid things so got a week off school. Could be quite a run of posts in the next few days! Posted Image Might even get some of my photographs sorted and post any of interest from the last year or so.

Will be sending PM Stuart, thank you for the offer. This is a photo from Dragoon Lane, south of Monchy, straight across the valley that the section was firing into. Pick Trench will have been in centre of picture running towards (but not reaching) the small copse in the distance. The section will have been off picture to the left.

From Dragoon Lane (Small).JPG

Jim

#9 Roger H

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 09:08 PM

Might even get some of my photographs sorted and post any of interest from the last year or so.
Jim


Yes please!

Roger

#10 Jim Smithson

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 10:13 AM

A public thank you to Stuart for the material sent and gladly received. If you are willing to share the first of the aerial photos on here Stuart it might interest members to compare with the maps above - it is a very good image of the Shrapnel Trench area.

Roger - I will try and add some to my Arras 1917/18 thread as they will mostly be (surprise surprise) from the area. Might have a few Somme ones though.

Jim

#11 Jim Smithson

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 01:06 PM

Stuart has kindly agreed to share one of his aerial photographs on the Forum which will, I hope, be of interest to those who have a connection with Monchy le Preux.

The photograph is taken on 23rd April, the first day of the 2nd Battle of the Scarpe, when British forces fought to break out of the line in front of Monchy. Shrapnel Trench, well known at this point, is marked red by Stuart. I have marked the woods to give folk some orientation. The little red arrows are where Stuart has identified the trench where the subjects of this thread will have been on this day. As Stuart said, rather chilling to think that his man is probably lying wounded in the trench as this photo is taken.

Monchy aerial (Medium).jpg


You can also see the arrowhead like trenches on the right of picture. Stuart has marked those on a copy of the map from above.

Monchy trench map (Small).jpg

Hope that is all of some interest to Pals.

Jim

#12 Roger H

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Posted 01 November 2011 - 01:40 PM

Hope that is all of some interest to Pals.

Jim


It most certainly is. One of the best "illustrations" I have seen. Excellent and thanks to all involved.

Roger

#13 GlenBanna

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 10:03 AM

I don't wish to highjack this thread but do any of you know the positions of the 88th MG Coy around this time?

Thanks Glen

#14 Jim Smithson

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 10:27 AM

Hi Glen

88th Brigade attacked on the right of 29th Division that day, therefore we are talking about the ground south of Monchy but north of Guemappe where 15th Division was attacking. I don't have the diaries for the unit as yet but I would imagine they would have been supporting the attack on Pick Trench and the southern part of Shrapnel Trench. They are very likely to have been heavily involved later in the day when the Germans strongly counterattacked against the line south of Monchy. I would imagine at least 2 sections will have been in the trench which you see lining the road from Monchy down to the crossroads at what is now near Windmill Cemetery (Rue de Wancourt).

If someone with the diary comes along I would love a copy of the April part (beg beg).Posted Image

Jim

#15 PPCLI

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 10:56 AM

Glen,

I don't have the 88th MG Coy. diary but below is part of the 29th Division instructions:

88thMGCoyinstructions.jpg

The coordinates for the 12 guns at N.12.b.8.8 match to the blue square on the map originally posted by Tom in post#4:

88thmap.jpg

and the yellow square in the modern aerial map I posted earlier:

88thaerial.jpg

From this, you should be able to work out where it fits to on the trench maps posted by Jim. Any further details or comments, I am sure can be supplied by Jim.

Cheers,

Stuart

#16 GlenBanna

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 12:57 PM

Thanks very much Stuart.My grandfather was there. Thats very helpful

Glen

#17 Philip Watford

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 05:01 PM

Hi Stuart,

My grandfather was William Watford: Born 12.10.1894 – Guestling, West Sussex.
His army details are: Sapper B Watford 2nd Musketry –Training Battalion 1871631 & B Watford Fieldstation 252 Party “B” Company Royal Engineers
Private & Sergeant 2nd queens regiment 9702

I also know that during the 1917 ‘Battle of Arras’, France he was captured and became a Prisoner of War. I have recently found some group photographs/postcards which I believe were taken during his capitivity. I am attaching a Daily Telegraph article with further details which may be of interest? watfordp1@aol.com


Regards



Phil Watford

#18 sheilmar

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 01:20 PM

Hello. My research on this topic is Norman Wilson Green, Second Lieutenant 4th Batt, East Yorkshire Regiment who presumably died in the Second Battle of the Scarpe, 23/4/1917 during the arras offensive.

 

Can anyone give me any further info' on this Reg on that day please? Thanks in advance. sheilmar



#19 joseph

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 08:38 AM

Hi,

 

2nd Line 4th Battalion C Coy 29 February 1916 –

Reported Missing May 1917 –

Previously reported missing now Killed Casualty List Hull Daily News 8 December 1917 -

Second Lieutenant Norman Green East Yorkshire Regiment, who is amongst those reported missing. is the second son of Alderman Norman Green, a former Lord Mayor of York. He is 21 years of age, was educated at Archbishop Holgate's School, and before the war was with his father in the business of Norman Green and Sons, Ltd. The young officer had seen much fighting on the Western Front, but had hitherto passed through unscathed.

 

The battalion suffered very heavily.

 

Busy at the moment will post diary extracts later.

 

Regards Charles



#20 sheilmar

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 10:33 AM

Thank you so much for this Charles. I will see if I can find the original to add to my narrative of this young man. Regards, sheilmar.



#21 joseph

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 06:36 PM

Hi,

 

The 2nd Battle of the Scarpe 23/24th April 1917

 

On the night of 21st April the 1/4th East Yorkshire's on the right and 4th Green Howard's on the left, moved up into the front line. The 50th Division at this period was holding a sector of the line west of Cherisy and east of Wancourt, with the 30th and 15th Divisions on the right and left respectively. The 150th Brigade was the assaulting Brigade of the 50th Division, the objective being the high ground north-west of Cherisy.

Zero hour was fixed at 4.45 a.m.

The jumping-off line of the 1/4th East Yorkshire's was astride the Wancourt to Cherisy road, with the right flank of the Battalion in the neighbourhood of the ruins of Wancourt Tower. There was only a single trench here in which to accommodate the first line, the second line was lying down close behind the parados.

Three Companies " B," " A " and " D " (from right to left) were to make the attack with " C " in support. Each attacking company had two platoons in the first line and two in the second, In this formation the Battalion was ready to advance behind the barrage which opened at 4.45 a.m. Four minutes before the attack was timed to begin a couple of tanks nosed their way to the front and moved slowly in a north-easterly direction.

At Zero there was a crash as the barrage opened from 84 18pdrs. And 30 4.5 howitzers. The waiting troops jumped to their feet and moved off towards the enemy’s positions. Within two minutes of the advance red stars from the enemy's trenches began to burst in the sky over the Divisional front and soon the German guns were heavily shelling the line of advance.

A hundred yards distant from their own trenches the East Yorkshiremen ran into the British barrage, which was moving too slowly, and at once serious casualties were suffered. In the two flank Companies it was not long before every officer had been either killed or wounded, whilst many NCOs and other ranks had been hit. The enemy's machine gun fire also began to make itself felt. With every officer and nearly all their N.C.O. leaders gone, the flank Companies were in some confusion and there was a slight loss of direction. " A ” Company in the centre, however, pushed on unchecked and reached a point about 100 yards east of a small wood along the Guemappe-Cherisy road. This Company had lost heavily in the advance, for the wood had been held in some strength by the enemy and had to be cleared before the advance could be continued. When this was accomplished the survivors of " A " pushed on and dug in cast of the Wood. A party of “ B " reached the first objective and dug in, facing south east towards Cherisy. Meanwhile a mixed party of men of " D," " A" and " B” Companies had encountered a battery of 77 mm. guns, just south-west of the wood, which were promptly captured. The situation of the East Yorkshiremen was now serious. Only three officers and two hundred other ranks remained. The Battalion was out of touch with the 4th Green Howard's on the left, whilst neither the 30th Division, on the right, nor the 15th, on the left, had made progress. The 1/4th and the Green Howard's were therefore " in the air " and exposed to hostile counter—attacks which would certainly be made ere long.

About 7 a.m. the enemy launched a vigorous counter-attack from the direction of Cherisy and from Vis-en-Artois, The Green Howard's, on the left of the 1/4th East Yorkshire's who had already lost heavily, were forced back by the weight of this attack, leaving the East Yorkshiremen in a desperate situation. The Diary of the 1/4th states that : " The Battalion was quickly surrounded," but apparently not all the officers or men were captured, for later the Brigade reports that the 1/4th East Yorkshire's " are back in original line." Such was the situation just before noon. The guns captured from the enemy were retaken by him, but he had lost some hundreds of prisoners of whom the 1/4th took many The total casualties in killed, wounded and missing suffered by the 1/4th East Yorkshire's were I7 officers and 352 other ranks. The remnants of the Battalion on reaching their original trenches were placed under the orders of the 8th D.L.I. and remained in the front line until midnight when Brigade H.Q. ordered them back into reserve. At 9 p.m. on 24th the Battalion, or all that remained of it, marched back to Arras and billeted in the town. On the 25th the trench strength of the Battalion, including details left in Arras during the operations, was only 10 officers and 215 other ranks.

 

Regards Charles



#22 sheilmar

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 08:46 AM

This is terrific Charles. Thank you so much. sheilmar



#23 sheilmar

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 01:22 AM

Can I just ask, will it be ok as far as copyright is concerned if I  include any or all of the info, maps etc you send me, in my narrative of the men I am researching? I am putting it all on disc eventually & giving it to St Martin le Grand Church in York, along with one printed copy of all the material I collect on each man. I have volunteered to do this so I am not making anything out of it eg, I am not a  professional researcher (as I am sure everyone has guessed by now!!!)

 

Don't want to end up in the pokey for breaking any copyrights.

 

Please advise. regards, sheilmar



#24 sheilmar

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 03:49 AM

Hi Again. I cannot find out when Norman Wilson green enlisted. can anyone help me please? Just would like the date for the narrative but have trawled through everything I can find but can only find his death & your accounts of how that came about. Regards, sheilmar



#25 joseph

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Posted 25 February 2014 - 11:15 AM

Hi,

 

I would say he joined the East Riding Yorkshire Yeomanry in August September 1914, he was awarded the Territorial Force War Medal so before 30 September 1914.

 

There are ERYY experts on the forum they may be able to be more exact. (Neil)

 

Regards Charles