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Battle of Arras 1917


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#26 Havrincourt

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 02:26 PM

Superb pictures and maps

Here is a modern aerial view of the area

Andy
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#27 fritz

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 06:43 PM

Hello Jim,

good idea to send me this map. I only have the German version with the positions of German troops at 9.4.1917. At Mule Lane, in German Pionierweg , or just nearby it must have been, where my grandfather was caught (red cross).

Thank you , Andy, for the supervision of the area today.

Regards

Fritz

#28 Jim Smithson

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 06:46 PM

Am I just biased, being based in the area south of Arras or do members feel that the 9th April 1917 is a little too dominated by Vimy. When you look at the gains East and South of Arras, even though up against the Hindenburg Line, I do feel the sacrifices made in that area are sadly neglected. I will continue to 'plug' this area with photos and maps until someone with more literary skills than I (and more time!!) adds Feuchy, Tilloy les Mofflaines or Neuville-Vitasse to the Battleground series.

Jim

#29 Jim Smithson

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 06:53 PM

Fritz

That was clever! Your post appeared whilst I was writing my last one. Could be my new glasses which I am just getting used to but I can't see a red cross. The map is fantastic - clears up all sorts of problems about which trenches were still German after the withdrawal. Would love to see a bigger image of it than allowed on the forum.

Jim

#30 Jim Smithson

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 06:56 PM

Fritz

Found Mule Lane on my map and it led me to spot the cross. Told you it was these new glasses!

Jim

#31 Jim Smithson

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Posted 16 January 2008 - 07:05 PM

For those following this thread. Here is another photo towards Telegraph Hill, showing the sunken lane that Pine Lane ran into and then out the other side towards Telegraph Work (as labelled on the trench map).

Jim
Up_Pine_Lane.jpg

#32 fritz

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 06:40 PM

Jim,

again a fine picture. Well known this place for me. Last autumn I walked this way along to telegraph hill and found this bunker (my first pic).

Well I think you don´t need new glasses, if you send me your email-address. So I could send you the map in a better quality.

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Fritz

#33 fritz

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Posted 17 January 2008 - 07:16 PM

This is, what I want to present, now I managed it.

#34 fritz

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Posted 18 January 2008 - 08:30 PM

Hello,

In Cheerful Sacrifice, page 119 f. you find this:

“The most woried man in the whole of the 56th London Division that morning was B-company`s Sergeant-Major Eddie Warren of the 12th Londons (Rangers). Knee-deep in icy mud in their jumping-off trench, known as Deodar Lane, they were waiting to attack the village of Neuville-Vitasse which lay just over a half a mile ahead. It was not the daylight zero hour of 7.45 a.m. that worried him; the Rangers had gone over in daylight before, at Gommecourt on 1 July, 1916. What nagged him was that the barbed wire in front of Pine Lane, a strong-held German trench, had not been cut. During the night, while the Rangers assembled for the attack, he had met his old pal Charlie Clark, the Sergeant-Major of A-company in the trench to their right; it was Charlie who had told him that the wire was completely uncut.

Pine Lane lay between the Rangers and the northernend of Neuville-Vitasse and A and B-companies were going in first. Colonel Baycliffe knew the wire wasn`t uncut,as did General Hull, who even told Snow, the Corps Commander. The artillery was supposed to cut it but they hadn´t. During the night a patrol had gone out under Second-Lieutenant Baron, who reported:

The wir was found to consist of two belts of very thick wire about breast high with iron stakes, and had been practically untouched by our shell fire, except in one ore two places where shells had burst in the wire without damagine itmsufficiently to make it less of an obstacle.

Sergeant-Major Warren knew in advance what would happen:

At 7.45 a.m. we went over and executed our attack in perfect order – like a drill in Hyde Park. Our ladswere mostly from Paddington and Kilburn and they were smoking and chattering away to each other in great spirits. I expect they thought it was the beginning of the end. Well, we got right up to the wire and everyone went quiet … The machine gun opened up from point-black range (?) and a dozen or so went down in the first burst. We all got down in the grass and a few of the boys ran along the wire looking for the gap, but they were shot down. A-company on the right copped it the worst. Some of the boys threw themselves flat into the wire to act as a human bridge, but they were shot to bits – it was heartbreaking. I`d like to know why the attack was not cancelled when the General knew the wire was uncut.



As for Sergeant-Major Eddie Warren of the Rangers, he got through the day without a scrath, but he had found his pal Charlie Clark lying dead in a bloody tangle of young bodies in the German wire. The following day Brigadier-General Loch gave his permission for one officer anf fifty-seven other ranks of the Rangers, all killed on the wire at Pine Lane, to be burried side by siede in their old jumping-off trench, just to the right of the Beaurains-Neuville road. Charlie Clark was placed at the head of his men.


Well, I found his grave. Here is a pic of it, made at London Cemetery Neuville-Vitasse.

Regards Fritz


#35 Jim Smithson

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 02:25 PM

Fritz

Nice one. It is always good to see reports linked to actual places and the photo of the headstone certainly does that. Point Blank range (I assume your ? is a question over the phrase) is an english expression for very close range, as it would have been with the men on the wire. Origins of the phrase are not clear but it could be from the French point blanc meaning aiming at the bullseye, not having to allow for any drop in the projectile - obviously then very close. Someone on the Forum might put me right on this of course.

Jim

#36 fritz

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 06:57 PM

Hello Jim,

thanks for your explanation.

I am really astonished about the great number of available reports, which told use the occurrences, even 90 years ago. I found a lot when I studied the sources of that battle. And I think, I have more knowledges of this 9 april as my grandfather could have., who had spent the most time hidden in the earth of Neuville-Vitasse.

Here is a pic of him. A young man of 21 years, who had to continue the politics with other means (so Clausewitz called it). He survived this day without a scratch, whereas his comrades died around him. By chance he did not end at St. Laurent-Blangy or Neuville-St. Vaast.

Fritz

#37 Jim Smithson

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Posted 21 January 2008 - 07:46 PM

Fritz

Superb photograph. It puts so much meaning into all the treks I have made around the area. I am so glad he survived the day, unlike so many others we visit every time we are there.

Jim

#38 fritz

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 04:53 PM

Just find another occurrence of 9 april 1917 at Neuville-Vitasse.

Not only for C.W. Clarkt this day was an unfortunate one, but for Vizefeldwebel Karl Möhl too.

In the regimental history of I.R. 163 is mentioned:

“07.00 a.m.. The 2nd company had occupied the K2-trench (Telegraph hill trench). The shooting was so strong that a great assault was expected. So the Commander of the company, Leutnant d.R. Kessler, ordered to make clear for action. The six machine guns between K1 and K2 trench (Pine Lane trench and Telegraph Hill trench) and the three machine guns in the K2 trench were prepared for shooting. At 07.20 a.m. all was clear. About 07.30 a.m. the 2nd company started to fire with rifles and machine guns against assaulting Englishmen."

(The pic of post 14 shows the place where Telegraph Hill trench had been)

My grandfather told about that:”I only could see a little. The distance to the Englishmen was far, 400 m or so. It was misty weather. Objectives not easy to find and to hit. Next to me was Karl Möhl. Suddenly he felt down groaning. I looked to him and saw that his head was smashed perhaps by a shell splinter.”

They thought he was death and nobody could care for him because the British assault started and later they had to withdraw unable to take back the fallen comrades.

In the regiment`s list of casualties his death is mentioned:
Vizefeldwebel Karl Möhl, born 28.10.1893 at Krieselgath, died Neuville-Vitasse 9.4.1917.

But he is not buried at St. Laurent-Blangy or Neuville-St. Vaast as the most of the victims of I.R. 163, but unusually far away at Proyart. And not unknown as the most. He got a single grave (2/439). It is known that nearby Proyart had been British C.C.S. and a soldier who died there got mostly a single grave, the Germans too. So it is possible that Karl Möhl only was strong wounded, saved by the British and brought back into hospital, where he died.


#39 Jim Smithson

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 08:02 PM

Hi Fritz

Thanks for your latest addition from I.R. 163. I haven't time tonight but I have a few more photos to process which I will post soon. I am also putting together some of the war diaries from April 1917 so maybe I can soon add some British narrative to your German ones. I have a parent's evening (Elternsprechabend) tomorrow so it will probably be at the weekend.

Jim

#40 Jim Smithson

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 10:40 AM

Fritz

The first photgraph is taken from the northern corner of the French Communal Cemetery on the way out of N-V. It is towards London Cemetery and therefore looks generally in the direction of the attack from Germans in Pine Trench's point of view. Pine Trench was aout 20 metres in front of the camera. The other spreads the story a little and is down Battery Valley from the Feuchy end, note the earthworks on the far left of the picture. Finally I have posted my work in progress as far as it goes, which is an overlay of the 04/03/17 trench map on the 25000 modern (modernish; on it I go under no rail line between Mercatel & Boiry!) map. I have marked the position you gave of your grandfather's capture from the German trench map.


Battery_Valley_North.jpg

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#41 Jim Smithson

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 10:43 AM

Map_with_trenches_N_V.jpg

#42 fritz

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 05:40 PM

Hello Jim,

lovely, you have done a good job.

The first pic is made at a place, where I did not have been. I have seen the communal cemetery from far, but the showing view is strange for me.

The other view is well known. This are the fields, where I.R. 163 faced the Londoners and others more, who came in part from north in their rear.

Your map is a good base for orientation.

These stories I sent to this thread are part of a report I made of the days before 9 april. If you like you could get the whole. It is all in German but I think you are able to manage it.

Kind regards

Fritz

#43 Jim Smithson

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 08:01 PM

Hi Fritz

Sorry, the text didn't fit the photos. The second one I uploaded went on top of the first so they are the wrong way round! The top photo is the one of Battery Valley, the lower is from the cemetery, that's why you recognise it so well. The full German version would be fantastic please. In return, when I put the war diaries together for the area on the map, I'll get them to you. If they are handwritten, as many are, I'll send you a typed version. I know how much difficulty I have reading handwritten german.

I like the bold d! Who says Germans don't have a sense of humour. smile.gif

Jim

#44 Jim Smithson

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 06:53 PM

Having just got back from the area I thought I would add some more images to this existing thread. These are from walking east to south east behind Neuville Vitasse and then back passing Neuville Vitasse Road Cemetery. Cutting up right to where the map shows a trig point (point 97) gets you to the 2 bunker remains.
Bunker_nr_Panther_Lane_on_N.jpg

Bunker_nr_Panther_Lane2.jpg

The next bunker is near the village when you get to the end of the lane from the cemetery, bit too muddy to get nearer!
Bunker_bus_turn_East_NV.jpg

#45 Jim Smithson

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 06:57 PM

The next 2 are from my usual visit to London Cemetery. I couldn't resist yet another photo with the sun on the little bit of snow we had. Then I saw that someone had left flowers on an unknown Bedfordshire lad's grave. As there was nobody recently in the visitors book and it was Easter Monday I can only imagine it was a local. Lovely gesture whoever it was.

Jim
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#46 59165

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 07:10 PM

I was there on the Easter monday,Jim but didn't see the flowers or any visitors.
Cant believe you have a place so close to ours!
I have some Monchey pics if you wish to see them.I know theyre not 100% to this thread but the lead in to Monchey from here,Happy Valley then Monchey just expands the view of this area that I always try to 'publicise' to the folks that would just normally head down to the Somme glare.gif .
An area not to be missed!
Dave.

#47 Jim Smithson

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Posted 07 April 2008 - 07:39 PM

Hi Dave

Good to hear from somebody who also regards this area as neglected. Do I take it that you live in or around Monchy? My house is in Boiry Becquerelle. If you are there in the summer maybe we could share a beer or whatever.

I was in London Cem in the morning after taking some photos for Fritz. Hope the flowers were not stolen later on!

Never too many photos from the area - would love to see some more.

Jim

#48 Havrincourt

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Posted 08 April 2008 - 03:52 PM

Hello Jim

Great thread this one, yourself and Fritz have highlighted part of the forgotten battlefield

I too have some photographs , but this time of a visit upto Gavrelle

I will start a new posting from the visit as I do not wish to clog up yours with my photo's

Would there be any chance of seeing more of the area please

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#49 59165

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Posted 08 April 2008 - 04:01 PM

Hiya Jim,
yes.It'd be good to meet up,I'll stay in touch.There is someone local I'd like for you to meet!
ps.My name here is my postcode biggrin.gif
Dave.

Andy,
looking forward to your thread & photos.Most folks bypass Gavrelle just 'cos of the erm,bypass!
I found the windmill site, at last,a while ago.
Dave.

#50 mabel

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Posted 08 April 2008 - 04:57 PM

Jim

Your post #28. I'm really glad you asked this question. I thought I only felt this way because of my relative's death there - many thanks again, by the way, for all your help in that respect. I think the other areas around Arras are, indeed, sadly neglected and information about them very scant. I look forward to your continued 'plugging' and would ask the literary person who answers your call to also include the offensive later in April (28th) around Rouex and, of course, the SLI!!

Best wishes

Mabel

PS It's been fascinating to read and see the photos and comments from you and fritz.