HALL OF FAME
to start your HARTLEY research.
Henry Llech WILLIAMS [1886-1932]
My maternal grandfather Henry Llech WILLIAMS enlisted 31st December 1914 into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment [Chiseldon] as a Corporal. Number 266276 [Infantry Records No7 District].
1/7th Battalion August 1914 : in Coventry. Part of Warwickshire Brigade, 48th [South Midland] Division.
The 4th Army [Rawlinson]:
111 Corps: V111 Corps: The 48th [South Midland] Division
Battle of the Somme: VIII Corps [Hunter-Weston] [transferred to Reserve Army on 4 July 1916] incl.4th Division; 29th Division; 31st Division; 48th [South Midland] Division.
The Battalion moved via Le Havre, France 22nd March - 1st April 1915, and served with distinction on the Western Front until 21st November 1917. Then Italy in 1918.
Medals awarded prior to 11th November 1918 Disembodied 19th March 1919
Adolf HITLER Timeline:
HITLER [20th April 1889 to 30th April 1945]. Where
was Adolf HITLER whilst my grandfather was with his Regiment during WW1
? Were they in the same battles ?
to October 1914: Adolf HITLER volunteered and joined the Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment
16, part of the 2nd Bavarian Infantry Regiment. He trained for several
weeks, then travelled by train to Lille, Belgium. As a soldier, he was
a Messenger, taking messages from the staff to the soldiers in the front
line, a very dangerous job. Initially, Adolf took part in the First Battle
of Ypres, at Geluveld, 5 miles east of Ypres.
Adolf HITLER Timeline:
22 - 31 March : travelled from Witham, Essex across the Channel to Le Havre, France 22nd March 1915, then on through Rouen to Boulogne, then to Calais, finally to Bailleul [trenches], just a few miles north west of Lille.
3 April the Division had concentrated
3 - 6 April : on to Armentieres [trenches]
then back to Bailleul [trenches] for 11 April
12 - 24 April : battle to the north towards Ypres [just inside Belgium] - shelling proper, casualties.
The Battle of St Julien [24th April - 4th May] On the morning of 24 April, 1915, the Germans released another cloud of chlorine gas, this time directly towards the re-formed Canadian lines just west of the village of St. Julien. On seeing the approach of the greenish-grey gas cloud, word was passed among the Canadian troops to urinate on their handkerchiefs and place these over their noses and mouths.Francis Alexander Carron Scrimger, V.C., M.D. Capt. Scrimger, with the 2nd Canadian Field Ambulance, may have passed the order to use urine to counteract the gas, but there is some doubt. Capt. Scrimger won a Victoria Cross for other actions on 25 April. Francis Alexander Carron Scrimger, V.C., M.D. Capt. Scrimger, with the 2nd Canadian Field Ambulance, may have passed the order to use urine to counteract the gas, but there is some doubt. Capt. Scrimger won a Victoria Cross for other actions on 25 April. The village of St. Julien was occupied by German troops after their attack initiated with gas broke the Canadian line there. The following day the York and Durham Brigade units of the Northumberland Division counterattacked failing to secure their objectives but establishing a new line close to the village. The third day the Northumberland Brigade attacked again, briefly taking part of the village but forced back with the loss of more than 1,900 men and 40 officers - two thirds of its strength.
Adolf HITLER Timeline:
13 May 1915 : redesignated the 48th [South Midlands] Division and 143rd Brigade
The Second Battle of Ypres, Belgium
The Battle of Frezenberg, Ypres [8th - 13th May] The battle began the 8th of May when German forces attempted to break Allied lines held by the 27th and 28th divisions. On the 10th of May the Germans released another gas cloud but made little progress. The battle ended after six days of fighting with a German advance of 1000 yards.
The Second Battle of Artois, also known as the Battle of Aubers Ridge, was a battle on the Western Front of World War I, it was fought at the same time as the Second Battle of Ypres. Even though the French under General Philippe Pétain gained some initial victories, the battle ended in what was largely a stalemate. This was the final allied offensive of the spring of 1915, followed by a lull in the fighting until September 1915 which saw the Battle of Champagne and the Third Battle of Artois.
The Battle of Festubert, West of Lille was an attack by the British army in the Artois region of France on the western front during World War I. It began on May 15, 1915 and continued until May 25The attack was made by the British First Army under Sir Douglas Haig against a German salient between Neuve Chapelle to the north and the village of Festubert to the south. The assault was planned along a three mile front, and would initially be made mainly by Indian troops. This would be the first British army night attack of the war. The battle was preceded by a 60 hour bombardment by 433 artillery pieces that fired about 100,000 shells. This bombardment failed to significantly damage the front line defenses of the German Sixth Army, but the initial advance made some progress in good weather conditions. The attack was renewed on the 16th, and by the 19th the British 2nd and 7th divisions had to be withdrawn due to heavy losses. On the 18th the Canadian Division, assisted by the 51st (Highland) Division, renewed the advance, but this made little progress in the face of effective German artillery fire. The British forces then entrenched themselves at the new front line in conditions of heavy rain. The Germans now brought up more reserves to reinforce their lines. From May 20 until the 25th the attack was renewed, resulting in the capture of the village of Festubert. However the total offensive had only netted 1 km of advance, at a cost of 16,000 casualties.
The Battle of Bellewaarde, Ypres [24th - 25th May] On the 24th of May the Germans released a gas attack on a 4.5 mile front. British troops were able to defend against initial German attacks but eventually they were forced to retreat to the north and south. Failed British counterattacks forced a British retreat 1000 yards northwards. Upon the end of the battle the Ypres salient was 3 miles deep.
The Battle of Loos, near Lille was one of the major British offensives mounted on the Western Front in 1915 during World War I. It marked the first time the British used poison gas during the war, and is also famous for the fact that it witnessed the first large-scale use of new army or "Kitchener's army" units. The battle was the British component of the combined Anglo-French offensive known as the Third Battle of Artois. General Douglas Haig, then commander of the British First Army, directed the battle; however, his plans were limited by the shortage of artillery shells which meant the preliminary bombardment, essential for success in the emerging trench warfare, was weak. Immediately prior to the troops attacking the German lines, at around 6:30 a.m., the British released 140 tons of chlorine gas with mixed success—in places the gas was blown back onto British trenches. Due to the inefficiency of the gas masks at the time, many British soldiers removed them as they could not see through the fogged-up talc eyepieces, or could barely breathe with them on. This led to some British soldiers being gassed by their own chlorine gas as it blew back across their lines. The battle opened on September 25 and the British were able to break through the weaker German trenches and capture the town of Loos, mainly due to numerical superiority. However, the inevitable supply and communications problems, combined with the late arrival of reserves, meant that the breakthrough could not be exploited. A further complication for many British soldiers was the failure of their artillery to cut the German wire in many places in advance of the attack. Advancing over open fields in full range of German machine guns and artillery, British losses were devastating. When the battle resumed the following day, the Germans were prepared and repulsed attempts to continue the advance. The fighting subsided on September 28 with the British having retreated to their starting positions. The British attacks had cost over 20,000 casualties, including three divisional commanders; George Thesiger, Thompson Capper and Frederick Wing. Following the initial attacks by the British, the Germans made steady attempts to recapture the Hohenzollern Redoubt. This was accomplished on October 3. On October 8 the Germans attempted to recapture much of the lost ground by launching a major offensive along the entire line, but abandoned the effort by nightfall due to heavy losses. This marked the official end of the hostilities, although in an attempt to strike before the winter rains set in, the British attempted a final offensive on October 13, which failed due to a lack of hand grenades. General Haig thought it might be possible to launch another attack on November 7th but the combination of heavy rains and accurate German shelling during the second half of October finally persuaded him to abandon the attempt.
at Gallipoli 1915-1916
October 1915: [passages from an unknown WW1 Soldier's Diary, north east of Amiens] [if you know who wrote this Diary please email hartleyfamilyorguk so that the author may be acknowledged]
7 October 1915 Again the enemy shelled our lines in the early morning. No material damage. Considerable light transport was heard moving through GOMMECOURT WOOD, unloading of metal rails was distinctly heard, this between 6.30 and 9.00 pm. Moving of troops also heard, apparently a relief. A patrol went out under Lt ADAMS during the evening, but had nothing of importance to report. A German officer was seen wearing a round cap, the side of which was made up of two red bands separated by a white band. A large fire was seen during the night, apparently a large building on fire some distance behind the enemy’s lines in the direction of RETTEMOY FARM. Relieved by 7 Bn at 2.00 pm. No casualties. Retired to billets in BAYENCOURT [north east of Amiens]
9 October Bathing at SAILLY AU BOIS.
10 October Complete inspection of arms, equipment, etc. 2 officers and 20 other ranks commenced a course of instruction in bomb throwing at the Grenade School at LA HAIE.
11 October Bn carried out a 12 mile route march through COIGNEUX, ST LEGER, AUTHIE, LOUVAINCOURT, BUS and BAYENCOURT. Dinner cooked en route and served to the men at BUS. A local machine gun course was started at BAYENCOURT.
12 October 1915 Bn devoted this day to the sterilisation of clothing by means of the ‘thresh’ apparatus at BUS. Usual working parties were found. Machine gun course, bomb throwing instruction and signalling course for reserved signallers were continued today.
13 October Carried out practice attacks by Companies at LA HAIE. Usual working parties were found and various courses were continued.
14 October Bn carried out a practice attack from trenches commencing at 10.00 am at LA HAIE. Usual working parties and courses continued.
15 October Bn carried out an advance, flank and rearguard exercises in the region of SOUASTRE commencing at 10.00 am and ending at 1.15 pm. Usual working parties and courses continued.
16 October Bn relieved 1/7 Bn Royal Warwicks in the trenches and the relief was completed by 4.00 pm. No casualties.
17 October FONCQUEVILLERS. About 8.15 am enemy sent over 9 Minenwerfer shells which were aimed at the FONCQUEVILLERS-GOMMECOURT road. 1 shell failed to explode and when measured was found to be 3’ 6” long and 9” in diameter. Damage was done to some work in progress, there were no casualties. 10.00 am our guns retaliated. 2.30 pm the enemy sent over three more minenwerfer shells, no damage with the exception of a portion of the parapet being blown down. There was a heavy mist this day.
18 October 2.20 pm enemy sent over another minenwerfer shell, followed a few minutes later by another. 1 shell was a direct hit on the trench causing a huge crater. While our working party was engaged on repairing this another another minenwerfer shell fell a yards behind, blocking a communication trench. No casualties. A patrol went out during the night but had nothing important to report. Enemy snipers active all day, enemy’s artillery active on our right. Enemy had evidently changed his position. Our snipers were active. 13/R Irish Rifles, 36 Division, attached to us today and the next 5 days. They appear to be a very good type of men.
20 October Nothing of importance beyond the usual sniping and shelling. One or two patrols went out during the night but reported all quiet.
21 October Enemy snipers were active, also several grenades and bombs were thrown. Our guns, after being advised, opened fire on a German working party, dispersing it. This information of the enemy working party was a result of patrolling.
22 October Some shelling on the part of the enemy was evident. Our snipers were active, apparently doing good work. One of our patrols under 2/Lt TEAGUE approached within 70 yards of the German parapet but encountered nothing of importance. A machine gun position was located and fired on by our machine guns and artillery. Our machine guns have done good work in silencing the enemy and marking down exposed positions on several occasions. Bn unfortunate in losing one of its most capable sniping officers today, namely Lt D L SARJEANT, who was shot through the neck whilst observing for a sniper. A man who was lying near him was also hit in the arm. The former is our first officer killed. [Douglas Leslie Sarjeant, of Heathfield Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, is buried in Fonquevillers Military Cemetery]. 24 October Bn relieved by 7 Bn and went to FONCQUEVILLERS and LA HAIE.
25 October Early this morning the 13/R Irish Rifles left for COUIN having completed their attachment for instruction. Weather cold and wintry.
26 October From about 7.00 am for the remainder of the day there was considerable artillery activity both on our and the enemy’s parts, several shells falling in FONCQUEVILLERS. Bn provided several working parties for R Engineers, bathing was carried out by the LA HAIE detachment.
28 October Capt and Adjutant WHITEHILL went sick and were sent to BAYENCOURT. 2/Lt MARTIN-JONES took over duties as Acting Adjutant. Practice alarm held to verify if officers and NCOs knew the various ways to alarm posts.
29 October Working parties for R Engineers provided. Medical boards held on Captains WHITEHILL and HAIGH, decided both were suffering from nervous debility. Both officers were sent to hospital. 31 October Usual working parties. Two officers, Colonel INNES and 2/Lt PROCTER, and 19 men sent on leave.
1 November 1915 Relieved 1/7 Bn in FONCQUEVILLERS. 6 men went on leave. Continuous rain during the whole of the night.
2 November Rain all day, trenches in horrible condition. Working parties busy baling and pumping out sumps. 10.00 am enemy sent over a hundred or more shells into FONCQUEVILLERS. A minenwerfer was found to have returned and was doing much damage to the trenches on our left.
3 November Quiet day, working parties still busy clearing and draining trenches. At night wiring parties were occupied in front of fire trench. Sergeant HEATH gazetted 2/Lt and was posted for duty to C Coy.
4 November Morning broke fine and clear. GOC of Division visited trenches in company with BGC.
5 November Enemy very active with rifles, grenades and trench mortars. Casualties - 2 men injured, 1 slightly and 1 seriously. Large number of flares used by both enemy and ourselves during the night.
6 November Quiet day. Instructions received for officers to reconnoitre approaches to 4 Division on our right and 37 Division on our left.
7 November Enemy sent over several trench mortars into our trenches but no damage done. Heavy firing heard in northerly direction several miles away.
8 November Enemy’s artillery very quiet. Bomb was used during the day to clear a sump in our trenches with the idea of attracting the enemy. When bomb was exploded water and mud was thrown high into the air. Two Germans were observed to get up and look over the parapet. One of these was shot through the head by one of our snipers.
9 November Relieved by 1/7 Bn. and arrived in billets in BAYENCOURT at 5.30 pm.
10 November Day devoted to cleaning up equipment and issuing new clothing. Goatskin coats were issued to the men.
11 November Bn performed a route march of 13 miles through COIGNEUX, BUS, LOUVENCOURT, AUTHIE, ST LEGER and COIGNEUX. At one point on the road the Bn was delayed owing to the presence of an enemy aeroplane. GOC Division inspected Bn en route and expressed himself as being most pleased. He awarded two extra leaves to the Bn for good work done in the trenches and two for good march discipline.
12 November Working parties of two Cos were found for transport fields and in COUIN WOOD. The whole of Bn was bathed at COUIN.
13-14 November Working parties provided for making screens, cutting long grass, making horse stands, repairing billets, erecting tents and preparing camp for the R Irish Rifles. Courses of instruction in signalling, bombing, maxim guns and stretcher bearers were continued with.
15 November In addition to working parties and courses of instruction, as above, the ‘Thresh’ fumigating machine was lent to the Bn. 500 mens’ clothes were treated. Lt Col INNES, 2/Lt & Adjutant HASKINS rejoined from leave. 12/R Irish Rifles arrived for attachment, two Cos going onto trenches and HQ, 2 Cos were accommodated in tents at BAYENCOURT.
16 November Working parties and classes of instruction continued. Reconnaisance of 4 Divisional area was made by officers and practise in the use of smoke helmets was given.
17 November FONCQUEVILLERS. Troops on left flank 37 Div, right flank 1/6 Bn Royal Warwicks. Relieved 7 Bn in trenches - which were in very wet and muddy condition - by 1.45pm. Remainder of day was occupied in baling operations and clearing out mud. Enemy very quiet, no casualties.
18 November Trenches still very bad, two communication trenches still being passable. Working parties of 100 from the Bn and about 80 from 1/7 Bn, employed by both day and night trying to keep these trenches open. R Engineers assisted by lending both men and pumps. Enemy very quiet and chiefly engaged on repairing their trenches internally as signs of baling out were visible. A party of 12 Germans could be seen carrying planks, etc at 6.45 am. They were fired upon and quickly dispersed.
19 November About 200 men of both this Bn and 1/7 Bn continue to work on the communication trenches and pumping. Trenches decidedly better, but a great deal of revetting is required. Many dugouts are decidedly unsafe and saps have fallen in. Repair work is going on with the available material. Enemy very little trouble, the few shells which they did fire were very ineffective. Col BROWN of the R Irish Fusiliers arrived from England and is attached to the Bn for a tour of instruction.
20 November Work on clearing the trenches continues and they are decidedly better. Sumps have been well pumped. Enemy fairly quiet and in response to about 5 shells from them, the Worcester Battery returned about 18. The second the battery fired the wiring party and our sentries reported hearing long howls and groans as a result. The enemy also fired four rifle grenades into our trenches but no damage was done. At about 9.00 am a large bomb was thrown at the front barricade on the GOMMECOURT RD, it burst 30 yards in front and did no damage. The enemy very talkative at morning stand-to..
21 November Work continued revetting and rebuilding the trenches. The state of the trenches is much improved and they are fairly dry. Enemy have considerably quietened down with their artillery, also their flare pistol ammunition is very inferior to that hitherto used. They have also ceased using coloured lights. A party of Germans seen working opposite T 18 ran back to their trench when fired upon. Considerable work has been done by the enemy on their line opposite T 19-21, fresh earth being thrown up. Enemy snipers have been fairly busy since 9.00 am.
22 November Trenches are now in much better condition and repairs to damage caused by recent wintry conditions are now being completed. In reply to our artillery bombardments about 3.00 pm, enemy sent over about 30 shells into our front line trenches, doing very little damage. Our artillery responded in a like manner. About midnight a working party of Germans was dispersed by two shells from the Worcester Battery. About 9.00 pm a party of Germans attacked the covering party covering our wiring party in front of T 18 just a few yards north of GOMMECOURT-FONCQUEVILLERS RD. Enemy crawled forward to within about 30 yards when they were observed and fired upon, and a few bombs were also thrown. They replied with rifle fire and bombs. The working party having been withdrawn, the covering party was retired and heavy fire was opened on enemy’s front line. Enemy was seen to carry one of their party back. Casualties - Capt WILSON-CHARGE and 1 man slightly wounded.
23 November Trenches are now really quite passable, if good weather prevails. It has been found that it is useless to dig trenches in this soil steeper than 3/1, therefore existing trenches will have to be cleared of topsoil and pared down to the necessary safe slope. Enemy’s artillery quiet, completely given up the practice of using flares and coloured lights. Snipers continue to be very busy. Private 2534 SMITH of D Co. being killed whilst on sentry duty.[Edward Smith, of Upper Thomas Street, Aston, is buried in Fonquevillers Military Cemetery]
24 November Usual work continues but owing to the effect of the thaw on the steep sided trenches they fill up almost as fast as they are cleared and a general system of revetting along the whole line will have to be undertaken. A Maxim gun position was located at point E 28.d.1.9 and our howitzers placed about 10 shells, with very good result. Enemy retaliated with several small shells on GOMMECOURT-FONCQUEVILLERS RD destroying a bridge traverse and wounding 1 man. Artillery fire continued practically the whole day. At about 6.00 am four short whistle blasts were heard in the enemy trenches, followed by confused sounds including shouting. At about 8.00 am 12 British planes flew over GOMMECOURT WOOD. They were fired upon by 3 anti-aircraft guns from different points. Our machine guns took the opportunity to sweep the enemy’s parapets. Our snipers clearly accounted for two Germans. Enemy’s snipers fairly active.
25 November R Irish Rifles withdrew from the line at about 5.30 am and were replaced by A Co. from reserve. Bn relieved by 1/7 Bn, commencing at 10.30 am. No casualties. Earlier in the day our snipers accounted for a German who was seen carrying a plank along a trench. Working party of 50 was provided at 6.00 pm for continuation of work in communication trenches. C and D Cos sent to garrison LA HAIE.
26 November Night working parties provided by both the FONCQUEVILLERS and LA HAIE detachments. Baths arranged for the men.
27 November As above, except that working parties were also provided in the day. A sharp frost set in and the change from deep mud is much appreciated. The men have ample protection from the cold in the way of clothing, fur coats, leather jackets, long vests and gloves being provided. They complain that the issue of fuel is inadequate, but the authorities say it is too much. Draft of 2/Lt PEPPER and 26 men arrived. 11 of the men had previously served with the Bn in France and had been re-drafted out.
28 November FONCQUEVILLERS. Battalion in Brigade reserve. Usual working parties provided and bathing of men continued. Lt Col INNES proceeded to DOULLENS to undergo a typhoid test. A class of signallers is at work at LA HAIE and the usual instruction in bombing, stretcher bearing and maxim gun is being carried out. Rifles inspected by Armourer-Sergeant.
29 November Usual working parties provided. Men all issued with a second blanket. Weather conditions very bad. Nothing of importance.
30 November Every available man employed on working parties. Maj TOWNSEND, Capt ARNELL and men proceeded on leave. Weather is very wet and cold. Nothing of importance. Practice alarm held at 8.30 pm.
1 December 1915 FONCQUEVILLERS. Every available man employed on working parties. Weather conditions very bad. Nothing to report. (Map Ref 57D NE 1 2.1).
3 December Troops on right flank 1/6 Bn Royal Warwicks, left flank 8/E Lancashire Regt. Relieved 1/7 Bn in trenches, commenced at 10.30. Trenches in awful condition, in places waist deep in liquid mud; parapets and parados continually falling in; communication trenches being equally as bad, in many places being quite impassable. Shelters and dugouts are in a wet and dangerous condition, many of them showing signs of a possible early collapse. 21/Manchester Regt in trenches undergoing a course of instruction. 2 platoons attached to each of our companies and Bn HQ. Manchesters losing a large number of men through sickness and exhaustion, they do not appear to be sufficiently acclimatised to the conditions. Enemy snipers are active and they appear to have some fixed rifle batteries in use. Private 2435 BEARD, D Co., killed whilst on duty in Sap 15 by the latter. Weather extremely bad, rain falling incessantly. [Edward Henry Beard of Laburnum Grove, Pugh Road, Aston was 29 years old when killed in action. He is buried in Fonquevillers Military cemetery]
4 December Weather continues very bad and trenches becoming almost hopeless, 1 sub- section has had to be completely abandoned, there are no habitable dugouts for the men to rest in. Numbers 3 and 4 sub-sectors have practically filled themselves in and a system of strong sentry posts along the line generally has had to be adopted. Manchesters quitted the line at about 4.30 am and marched to COUIN. At about noon the enemy sent over 10 large minenwerfer shells. Retaliation by our artillery was at once obtained. A concentration of maxim guns of 8 and 6 Bns and 8/E Lancashires also turned on.
5 December FONCQUEVILLERS. Trenches continue to get worse, notwithstanding supreme efforts to save them. After further consideration it has definitely been decided to make a series of strong posts along the whole line, keeping adequate communication to the same open and letting the remainder of the trenches go. Minenwerfer paid its usual visit at about noon and the usual artillery and maxim gun retaliation was accorded it. Enemy appears to be experiencing the same amount of difficulty with his front line trenches, pumps being heard at work incessantly and men carrying timber are frequently observed. Weather continues vile. Major CADDICK, Capt WILSON-CHARGE and a party of men proceeded on leave.
6 December Trenches still as bad as ever, difficulty of getting the food up to the frontline trenches is very great and accidents are frequent. Nevertheless the cheerful spirit of the men is admirable. About noon our aeroplanes were very active over the German lines and produced remarkably little attention from the enemy. Their guns fired very little and the only machine gun which they used fired very badly and was quickly silenced by one of our guns. The machine gun located at point E 28 7 5.5 was making a great deal of smoke. It is suggested that this points to inferior ammunition is being used. Careful telescopic observation gives the impression that the German trenches opposite our line are very strongly held. The number of periscopes now used by them has increased and more fires are to be seen than was the case a week or so ago.
7 December No improvement in trenches, in fact they may be said to be worse. Rain is falling so frequently renders it absolutely impossible with the few men at our disposal to cope with the conditions and to keep open anything like adequate communications. Minenwerfer paid a visit at about 2.15 pm and presented us with about 20 fairly well placed shells, but doing little damage. One of the signallers out repairing wire was buried up to his chin by one shell, but was immediately unburied by another which lifted him onto clear ground about five yards away. Remarkable to state that he received no ill effects other than shock. It is noticed that the enemy are using considerably more flares of late, coloured ones also being used.
8 December Trenches still in the same bad condition and work continues on the communication to keep them as passable as possible. Minenwerfer again active during afternoon and evening just after dark, this latter point is very unusual. Our artillery retaliated on both the village and the front line trenches with a considerable number of shells. Pieces of the German minenwerfer shells show that they are considerably thicker than previously and also that they break up into much smaller portions. Our snipers reported that they accounted for 2 Germans during the day. 17/Manchester Regt arrived in Brigade area being attached for instruction. B Co. was attached to our sector of the line and were accommodated in tents pitched behind the various buildings, there being no dugouts or cellars available.
9 December Continuous pumping and baling continues in the trenches which are still thigh deep in liquid mud in many places. From observation on the minenwerfer firing yesterday it would appear that the range was well over 1000 yards. The shells appear to be much better and they are about 3/8” thick. The Germans have definitely thought it worth their while to improve this type of shell. Lt Col DICKIN of the KSLI arrived for instruction. Half of B Co. 17/Manchesters proceeded to the front line for a 24 hour tour of duty. The remaining half were instructed by Lt PROCTOR and 4 sergeants in trench duties.
10 December Still in trenches. Right flank 6 Bn, left flank 10/R Fusiliers. Weather conditions very bad, trenches correspondingly so. Enemy appear to be very much troubled with their trenches, several men observed to quit the trenches and run to another part of the line, along the top; apparently to avoid bad portions of the trench. The following men were observed during the day: a) a man carrying two cooking pots wearing a dark blue uniform with round blue hat, long tassle; b) man in khaki wearing round blue hat with round, bright cap badge; c) man on sentry in front line wearing grey-green dress, this man was shot by our snipers, stretcher- bearers were seen carrying him away; d) man in shirt sleeves in front line, no equipment, seen on knees working in trench, dropped down behind cover when shot at; e) officer, apparently, with green-grey cap, black peak and beard; f) man in dark blue uniform and cap, red band around latter. Enemy snipers rather more active than usual. At about 8.20 pm enemy fired several rifle grenades but did no damage. The Worcester battery retaliated.
11 December Trenches not quite as bad as yesterday. Enemy shelled our left flank and No. 3 communication trench with 15 heavy shells and 4 shrapnels. Eight of the heavies were blind , no damage was done. Bn relieved in the trenches by 7 Bn, relief being completed by about 1.00 pm. No casualties. Bn proceeded to BAYENCOURT for 8 days’ rest.
13 December Bn bathing at COUIN and SAILLY. An unfortunate incident occurred at about 11.30 am. Lt JOHNSTON, 17/Manchester Regt killed by one of our own shrapnel cases. Our guns were firing at a German plane at the time. [24 year-old Robert Loudon Johnston of Park Street, Kersal, Manchester is buried in Fonquevillers Military Cemetery].
14 December Clothing treated for vermin by Thresh machines. All officers NCOs and men trained in the use of the wire breaker, everyone trained actually broke the wire by rifle fire.
19 December FONCQUEVILLERS. Troops on right 6 Bn, on left 8/E Lancashire Regt. Relieved 7 Bn, completed by 12 noon, no casualties. Took over the same sub- sector as before. B Co. of one of the Liverpool Regts was already in our sector, having arrived at about 8.30 pm the previous night. One section was attached to each of our front line platoons for duty and instruction. The remainder, 117 NCOs and men, were on working parties on breastworks in front of the first line. At about 2.00 pm the enemy sent over 5 minenwerfers which were accompanied by several grenades, no damage. Our artillery retaliated with about 40 shells of various calibre. Machine gun concentration also applied. Trenches were in much improved condition, though still very muddy and wet.
20 December Trenches much drier, work continues on cleaning out and revetting of same. About 10.30 am the enemy threw about 12 bombs either into or just clear of their own wire, with no apparent reason or result. At stand-to the enemy’s snipers and machine guns were extremely active. Both their and our machine guns were firing for over 15 minutes. Good deal of smoke observed in the enemy’s front and second line. At 7.00 pm a patrol from A Co. went out to reconnoitre the enemy’s wire, they found that there was little or no natural obstruction between ours and the enemy’s wire, also the while the German wire was thin in front it was very thick at the back near their own parapet. They also reported that our transport made a great deal of noise and could be heard quite plainly near the German wire.
21 December Weather turned out very wet again, trenches flooded accordingly. Pumping and baling continues day and night. The Co. of Liverpools were relieved by another Co. of the same unit at 3.30 pm. At 3.05 pm the enemy fired a ‘minnie’ which burst on the communication trench. Worcester battery retaliated with 4 shells on K 4 A 5 8, from which point the shells seemed to rise. It is possible that the enemy were trying to locate our guns by the flashes. About 1.50 pm the enemy fired 4 ‘minnies’ from a position E 28 D 2 3, another was also firing from a point about E 28 D 4 8 which fired shells on the trenches occupied by the Bn. Retaliation by our guns was very prompt both by artillery and machine gun. Enemy replied with about 30 small shells which did no damage, being blind.
22 December Left flank 6 Bn, right flank 10/R Fusiliers. Trenches very muddy and constant pumping required to keep them open. Liverpool Co. and all available men of this unit being engaged throughout the night on breastworks in front of line. Very little labour is available to cope with the present wet conditions, with the consequence that men who have done a tour of sentry duty have to devote a portion of their rest to pumping and baling. No enemy shelling or working parties observed during this period.
23 December Trenches in the same state as yesterday, notwithstanding constant pumping during the night. Enemy observed to be pumping out their trenches also. Enemy have also considerably strengthened their wire during the night. 1.35 pm our artillery started shelling the enemy trenches in front of the line. This seemed to be effective and much damage to trenches and communication done. Enemy retaliation consisted of about 20 ‘minnies’ and 12 common shells, no damage done and no casualties.
24 December Trenches still very, and every other work has had to be postponed to enable the whole of our resources in men to cope with the conditions. 3.30 am enemy sent over 12 small shells and 7 4.2 HE. One of the latter hit our trench 14 at about point C.27.D.8.2. The remainder did no damage. Enemy fired several minnies which fell at point E.27.B.0.0 which killed CSM 200 R BORRASTON. Heavy retaliation. The CO, Adjutant, 1 Officer and 2 NCOs per Co. attended a lecture by an artillery Brigade-Major at CHATEAU-LA-HAIE. [Richard James Borraston, 26, of Richmond Road, Handsworth is buried in Fonquevillers Military Cemetery].
25 December Trenches still bad. Constant use of pumps and bailers keeps them passable. Strain of constant work is telling on the men. Enemy are still baling and pumping out their front line trenches too. 8.00 am the funeral of CSM BORRASTON took place, very keen and well liked soldier. His funeral, on Christmas Day was felt very much by all ranks. The enemy have been shouting across at intervals but have been met by rifle fire each time. They were blowing bugles in their front line this morning. Enemy snipers and machine guns were very quiet. 12.30 pm the enemy fired 4 4.2s behind our trench 22, three of which were blind. Several rifle grenades and bombs were fired by the enemy, but there was no damage. Enemy has been exceptionally quiet, no attempt at a truce has been made although a certain amount of shouting took place by the Germans. This was always replied to by rifle fire. Hardly a shot was fired by them however.
26 December Trenches same as yesterday. Owing to constant rain it is impossible to improve them, in fact in many places the amount of water is steadily gaining on the pumps. A flare sent up revealed that the German wire is very effective and very strong. 2.05 pm enemy fired 9 minnies of which 4 dropped in a communication trench at point E.27.D.7.6 1/2, blocking the same up. Remainder fell more towards HEBUTERNE. Retaliation by our guns very prompt, machine guns also used and our TMB also fired. Enemy are now firing a flare which does not light until it reaches the ground. It is fired into our wire when possible. Enemy snipers and machine guns very quiet.
27 December Relieved by 7 Bn, completed by noon, no casualties. Bn moved to FONCQUEVILLERS, A and B co.s to LA HAIE, Maj JN TOWNSEND commanding this detachment. The usual detachments at FORT DICK Keep and NORTH Keep being furnished.
28 December Working party of 50 men were sent to 7 Bn for work on M sector and about 50 men were employed on the various garrison duties.
29 December Working parties as for yesterday. Enemy artillery very active. Retaliation by our heavies took place. Aircraft on both sides active.
Adolf HITLER Timeline:
During 1916 battalions were at Mount Sorrel, West of Lille
The Battle of the Somme, North-East of Amiens 1 July - 18 November 1916
was one of the largest battles of the First World War. With more than one million casualties, it was also one of the bloodiest battles in human history. The Allied forces attempted to break through the German lines along a 25-mile (40 km) front north and south of the River Somme in northern France. One purpose of the battle was to draw German forces away from the Battle of Verdun; however, by its end the losses on the Somme had exceeded those at Verdun. Verdun would bite deep into the national consciousness of France for generations, and the Somme would have the same effect on generations of Britons. The battle is best remembered for its first day, 1 July 1916, on which the British suffered 57,470 casualties, including 19,240 dead - the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. As terrible as the battle was for the British Empire troops who suffered there, it naturally affected the other nationalities as well. One German officer [Captain von Hentig] famously described it as "the muddy grave of the German field army". By the end of the battle, the British had learned many lessons in modern warfare, while the Germans had suffered irreplaceable losses. British historian Sir James Edmonds stated: "It is not too much to claim that the foundations of the final victory on the Western Front were laid by the Somme offensive of 1916."  For the first time, the home front in the United Kingdom was exposed to the horrors of modern war with the release in August of the propaganda film The Battle of the Somme, which used actual footage from the first days of the battl
Main battles of the Somme: Albert - Bazentin Ridge - Delville Wood - Pozières Ridge - Guillemont - Ginchy - Flers-Courcelette - Morval - Thiepval Ridge - Transloy Ridges - Ancre Heights - Ancre
the battles marked * are phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916
The offensive campaign of 1916 - initially conceived by the French Commander-in-Chief to be a war-winning simultaneous strike on three fronts by all Allies with maximum force - came down to a few Divisions of the British Army attacking on ground not of their choosing and where there was no possibility of strategic gain . There was disagreement between Commander-in-Chief [Haig] and the Army commander who had to carry out the attack [Rawlinson], about how it should be done. Haig's plan was to capture ground, breaking past the first enemy line and into the second enemy line on the first day. All possibilities to exploit enemy disorganisation should be grasped from then on. Rawlinson was more cautious. The inexperienced army staffs applied rigid, inflexible, tactics as regards the way their infantry should conduct the attack .The immense preparation for battle >> See the preparations, in detail The area chosen for battle was a quiet agricultural area, not well furnished with railways and roads capable of supporting supply to 400,000 men.
The battle began on 24 June, when British and French artillery began the preliminary bombardment, designed to destroy the enemy positions
The Division held the line between the 56th [London] and the 31st Divisions, both of which were heavily engaged at Gommecourt and Serre respectively.
First Phase: the Battle of Albert, 1 - 13 July 19166
VIII Corps [Hunter-Weston] (transferred to Reserve Army on 4 July) 4th Division; 29th Division; 31st Division; 48th [South Midland] Division.
In this opening phase, the British assault broke into and gradually moved beyond the first of the German defensive complexes on the Somme. Success on the first day in the area between Montauban and Mametz led to a redirection of effort to that area, for the initial attack was defeated with huge losses north of Mametz. There was a stiff fight for Trones Wood and costly, hastily planned and piecemeal attacks that eventually took La Boisselle, Contalmaison and Mametz Wood.
The British and French infantry attacked the first German lines on 1 July [The Battle of Albert] Two of the battalions of the Division attacked on 1 July 1916, and suffered heavy casualties
The Battle of Albert, East of Amiens* [first phase of the Battle of the Somme 1916] The Division held the line between the 56th [London] and the 31st Divisions, both of which were heavily engaged at Gommecourt and Serre respectively on 1 July 1916. Two of the Warwickshire battalions of the Division attacked on that day and suffered heavy casualties in assaulting the Quadrilateral [Heidenkopf]].
By 13 July the British advance had taken it to a point where it was now facing the second German defensive complex. A well planned and novel night attack on 14 July took British troops through that line but they now ran into stiffening enemy defence at Guillemont, Delville Wood and Longueval, High Wood and Pozieres. Attack and counter attack ground relentlessly on as the British edged forward.
Second Phase: the Battle of Bazentin [or the Bazentin Ridge], 14 - 17 July 1916
A dawn attack on 14 July breaks into the second German position [The Battle of Bazentin] A diversionary attack at Fromelles on 19 July fails with heavy casualties The Battle of Bazentin [second phase of the Battle of the Somme 1916] In the latter action, the Division captured Ovillers.
The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, East of Amiens* in which the Division captured Ovillers, On 14 July [Bastille Day], the Fourth Army was finally ready to resume the offensive in the southern sector. The attack, known as the Battle of Bazentin Ridge, was aimed at capturing the German second defensive position which ran along the crest of the ridge from Pozières, on the Albert–Bapaume road, south-east towards the villages of Guillemont and Ginchy. The objectives were the villages of Bazentin le Petit, Bazentin le Grand and Longueval, which was adjacent to Delville Wood. Beyond this line, on the reverse slope of the ridge, lay High Wood. The British 21st Division attack on Bazentin le Petit, 14 July 1916. The area captured by 9.00 a.m. is shown by the dashed red line. The British 21st Division attack on Bazentin le Petit, 14 July 1916. The area captured by 9.00 a.m. is shown by the dashed red line. There is considerable contrast between the preparation and execution of this attack and that of 1 July. The attack on Bazentin Ridge was made by four divisions on a front of 6,000 yards (5.5 km) with the troops going over before dawn at 3:25 a.m. after a surprise five-minute artillery bombardment. The artillery laid down a creeping barrage, and the attacking waves pushed up close behind it in no man's land, leaving them only a short distance to cross when the barrage lifted from the German front trench. By mid-morning the first phase of the attack was a success with nearly all objectives taken, and as on 1 July, a gap was made in the German defences. However, again as on 1 July, the British were unable to successfully exploit it. Their attempt to do so created the most famous cavalry action of the Battle of the Somme, when the 7th Dragoon Guards and the 2nd Deccan Horse attempted to capture High Wood. It is likely the infantry could have captured the wood in the morning, but by the time the cavalry were in position to attack, the Germans had begun to recover. Though the cavalry held on in the wood through the night of 14 July, they had to withdraw the following day. The British had a foothold in High Wood and would continue to fight over it as well as Delville Wood, neighbouring Longueval, for many days. Unfortunately for them, the successful opening attack of 14 July did not mean they had learnt how to conduct trench battles. On the night of 22 July, Rawlinson launched an attack using six divisions along the length of the Fourth Army front that failed completely. The Germans were learning; they had begun to move away from trench-based defences and towards a flexible defence in depth system of strongpoints that was difficult for the supporting artillery to suppress.
Dogged attack and German resistance on the second position [the Battles of Delville Wood and Pozieres Ridge]
Battle of Delville Wood* The fighting for Delville Wood commenced on 14 July 1916 during the Battle of Bazentin Ridge when the 9th Division captured Longueval and gained a foothold in the neighbouring wood. The wood lay on the right flank of the British line and, along with nearby Waterlot Farm, protected the villages of Guillemont and Ginchy. As was the case at nearby High Wood, the Germans resisted strongly in Delville Wood and every gain made by the British was subjected to repeated counter-attack. Consequently the wood changed hands a number of times before it was finally secured by the British on 3 September during the Battle of Guillemont, though the Germans retained a hold on the eastern edge that wasn't relinquished until the British advance during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on 15 September. The 9th Division fought in Delville Wood until 20 July when it was relieved by the 3rd Division and a brigade of the 18th [Eastern] Division. On 27 July it was the turn of two brigades, one from the 2nd Division and the 99th Brigade from the 5th Division, supported by an artillery bombardment from 369 guns. The British infantry captured the wood but were immediately subjected to a heavy German bombardment and counter-attacks. Four Victoria Crosses were awarded for fighting in Delville Wood. The only South African award went to Private William Frederick Faulds on 18 July. Two men of the 10th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers [76th Brigade, 3rd Division] won VCs on 20 July; Corporal Joseph John Davies and Private Albert Hill. Sergeant Albert Gill, 1st Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps (99th Brigade, 5th Division), won his VC on 27 July.d
Third Phase: the Battle of Pozieres, 23 July - 3 September 1916
Reserve Army [Gough]: Note: all below except 49th [West Riding] Division took part in fighting for Mouquet Farm II Corps [Jacob]: 12th [Eastern] Division; 25th Division; 48th [South Midland] Division; 49th (West Riding) Division. I ANZAC Corps [Birdwood]: 1st Australian Division; 2nd Australian Division; 4th Australian Division.
The Battle of Pozieres Ridge* The Battle of Pozieres [third phase of the Battle of the Somme 1916]
Fighting for second position continues [the Battles of Guillemont and Ginchy] First ever attack with tanks on 15 September [the Battles of Flers-Courcelette] Operations continue [Battles of Morval and Thiepval]
Battle of Thiepval* East of Amiens is the location of the major war memorial to British and South African men who died in the World War I Battle of the Somme and who have no known grave. The Memorial was built approximately 200 metres to the south-east of the former Thiepval Chateau, which was located on lower ground, by the side of Thiepval Wood. The grounds of the original chateau having been unsuitable as it would have required the relocation of gravesites located around the numerous medical aid stations dug during the war. The memorial, which dominates the rural scene, has sixteen piers of red brick, faced with Portland stone. It is 150 feet (46 m) high, with foundations 19 feet (6 m) thick; required due to extensive wartime tunneling beneath the structure. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the memorial was built between 1928 and 1932 and is the biggest British battle memorial in the world. It was inaugurated by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) in the presence of Albert Lebrun, President of France, on 31 July 1932. The memorial is reserved for those missing, or unidentified, soldiers who have no known grave. On the Portland Stone piers are engraved the names of over 72,000 men who were lost in the Somme battles between July 1916 and March 1918, most of whom died in the first Battle of the Somme between 1 July and 4 November 1916. Consequently, when the remains of a soldier listed on the memorial are found and identified, he is given a funeral with full military honours and his remains buried in the closest cemetery to his location; his name is then removed from the memorial. This has resulted in numerous gaps in the lists of names. The Thiepval Memorial also serves as an Anglo-French battle memorial to commemorate the joint nature of the 1916 offensive. In further recognition of this, a cemetery containing 300 British Commonwealth and 300 French graves lies at the foot of the memorial. Many of the soldiers buried here are unknown. The British Commonwealth graves are rectangular and made of white stone, while the French graves have grey stone crosses.
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Phase: the Battle of Le Transloy, 1 - 18 October 1916
Fourth Army [Rawlinson] III Corps [Pulteney] 9th (Scottish) Division; 15th (Scottish) Division; 23rd Division, which captured Le Sars ;47th [2nd London] Division, which captured Eaucourt L'Abbaye; 50th [Northumbrian] Division. Note: all above except 50th [Northumbrian] Division took part in attacks on the Butte de Warlencourt during this Phase; 48th and 50th attacked that feature at a later date.
Fighting continues in terrible weather in an attempt to reach higher and drier ground [Battles of Le Transloy and Ancre Heights] The Battle of the Ancre, east of Amiens [tenth phase of the Battle of the Somme 1916]
The Battle of Le Transloy was the final offensive mounted by the British Fourth Army during the 1916 Battle of the Somme. The battle, which opened on 1 October, began well with the capture of Eaucourt L'Abbaye by the 47th [1/2nd London] Division as well as an advance along the Albert-Bapaume road towards Le Sars. The advance was resumed on 7 October and Le Sars was taken by the British 23rd Division but progress along the Canadian lines was stalled. The weather was rapidly deteriorating and the battlefield, which had been pummelled to dust by relentless artillery bombardment over the preceding three months, turned to a quagmire. Rawlinson mounted further attacks on 12 October including the Newfoundlanders at Gueudecourt, 18 October and 23 October but there was little chance of a significant gain. The last throe [which by now included the Australian forces of the I Anzac Corps] came on 5 November despite protests from some corps commanders who believed continued attacks to be futile.
Phase: the Battle of the Ancre, 13 - 18 November 1916
The Battle of the Ancre Heights* [see Ancre Heights]
The Battle of the Ancre* [see film archive]
Final effort to capture ground west of the Ancre [Battle of The Ancre] before winter makes operations impossible - opens on 13 November.The Battle of the Ancre* East of Amiens [tenth phase of the Battle of the Somme 1916]
According to the British official history of the battle, total Allied casualties amounted to almost 630,000 and German around 660,000. British casualties reported by the Adjutant General were 419,654 of whom some 5% were missing at roll call but may have subsequently reported. Staggering figures, especially when taken alongside those at Verdun where fighting between French and German continued throughout 1916.
By the end of the Somme and believing it could not face another sustained assault such as this, the German Army was preparing to make a strategic withdrawal to the prepared Hindenburg Line many miles east.
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The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line 14 March - 5 April 1917
The German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, in which the 48th [South Midland] Division occupied Peronne. In March 1917, the German armies on the Somme carried out a strategic withdrawal known as Operation Alberich. They destroyed everything on the ground that they left: flattening villages, poisoning wells, cutting down trees, blowing craters on roads and crossroads, booby-trapping ruins and dugouts. The withdrawal was to an immensely powerful and shorter line, positioned to take every tactical advantage of ground. The construction of this line - or rather, series of lines - had been spotted by British and French aviators in late 1916. British patrols began to detect the withdrawal of German infantry from the Somme in mid February 1917 and a cautious pursuit began, halted only as the Hindenburg Line itself was approached.
The Battle of Arras South-West of Lille] was a British offensive during World War I. From 9 April to 16 May 1917, British, Canadian, and Australian troops attacked German trenches near the French city of Arras. For much of the war, the opposing armies on the Western Front were at a stalemate, with a continuous line of trenches stretching from the Belgian coast to the Swiss border. In essence, the Allied objective from early 1915 was to break through the German defences into the open ground beyond and engage the numerically inferior German army in a war of movement. The Arras offensive was conceived as part of a plan to bring about this result. It was planned in conjunction with the French High Command, who were simultaneously embarking on a massive attack (the Nivelle Offensive) about eighty kilometres to the south. The stated aim of this combined operation was to end the war in forty-eight hours. At Arras, the British Empire's immediate objectives were more modest: (1) to draw German troops away from the ground chosen for the French attack and (2) to take the German-held high ground that dominated the plain of Douai. Initial efforts centred on a relatively broad-based assault between Vimy in the northwest and Bullecourt in the southeast. After considerable bombardment, Canadian troops advancing in the north were able to capture the strategically significant Vimy Ridge, and British divisions in the centre were also able to make significant gains. Only in the south, where British and Australian forces were frustrated by the elastic defence, were the attackers held to minimal gains. Following these initial successes, British forces engaged in a series of small-scale operations to consolidate the newly won positions. Although these battles were generally successful in achieving limited aims, many of them resulted in relatively large numbers of casualties. When the battle officially ended on 16 May, British Empire troops had made significant advances, but had been unable to achieve a major breakthrough at any point. Experimental tactics—for instance, the creeping barrage, the graze fuze, and counter-battery fire—had been battle-tested, particularly in the first phase, and had demonstrated that set-piece assaults against heavily fortified positions could be successful. This sector then reverted to the stalemate that typified most of the war on the Western Front.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge was one of the opening battles in a larger British campaign known as the Battle of Arras during the First World War. It is also considered a major event in Canadian history for the key role the Canadian Corps of First Army played in the attack. Battle of Vimy Ridge
the battles marked ** are phases of the Third Battle of Ypres
Adolf HITLER Timeline:
Phase: the Battle of Langemarck** 16 - 18 August 1917
XVIII Corps [Maxse]: 11th [Northern] Division; 48th [South Midland] Division.
The Battle of Langemarck** Battle of Langemarck: 16 - 18 August Ground conditions during the whole Ypres-Passchendaele action were bad because the ground was already fought-over and was partially flooded. Continuous shelling had destroyed drainage canals in the area, and unseasonable heavy rain turned the whole area into a sea of mud and water-filled shell-craters. The troops walked up to the front over paths made of duckboards laid across the mud, often carrying up to one hundred pounds (45 kg) of equipment. It was possible for them to slip off the path into the craters and drown before they could be rescued. The trees were reduced to blunted trunks, the branches and leaves torn away, and the bodies of men buried after previous actions were often uncovered by the rain or later shelling.
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Phase: the Battle of the Menin Road 20 - 25 September 1917
XVIII Corps [Maxse]: 11th [Northern] Division 48th [South Midland] Division.
Battle of Menin Road 20 -25 September By now, 1,295 guns were concentrated in the area, approximately one for every five yards of attack front. On 20 September at the battle of Menin Road, after a massive bombardment, the Allies attacked and managed to hold their objective of about 1,500 yards gained, despite heavy counter-attacks, suffering twenty-one thousand casualties. The Germans by this time had a semi-permanent front line, with very deep dugouts and concrete pillboxes, supported by artillery accurately ranged on no man's land.
Phase: the Battle of Polygon Wood** 26 September - 3 October 1917
XVIII Corps [Maxse]: 11th [Northern] Division; 48th [South Midland] Division; 58th [2/1st London] Division.
The Battle of Polygon Wood** Battle of Polygon Wood: 26 September Further advances at Polygon Wood and Broodseinde on the southwestern edge of the salient accounted for another two thousand yards and thirty thousand Allied casualties. The British line was now overlooked by the Passchendaele ridge, which therefore became an important objective and made the capture of the high ground even more of an imperative.
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First Battle of Passchendaele: East of Ypres, Belgium]
The entire village and even the roads were pulverised as combatants shelled all trace of enemy cover or transportation - urban warfare that effectively de-urbanised the terrain. Aerial view of Passchendaele village, before and after the battle, demonstrating that the entire village and even the roads were pulverised as combatants shelled all trace of enemy cover or transportation - urban warfare that effectively de-urbanised the terrain. The First Battle of Passchendaele, on 12 October 1917 began with a further Allied attempt to gain ground around Poelkapelle. The heavy rain again made movement difficult, and artillery could not be brought closer to the front owing to the mud. The Allied troops were fought-out, and morale was suffering. Against the well-prepared German defences, the gains were minimal and there were 13,000 Allied casualties. By this point there had been 100,000 Allied casualties, with only limited gains and no strategic breakthrough
Phase: the Battle of Broodseinde** 4 October 1917
XVIII Corps [Maxse]: 11th [Northern] Division; 48th [South Midland] Division.
The Battle of Broodseinde** Battle of Broodseinde: 4 October British soldiers moving forward during the Battle of Broodseinde. The Battle of Broodseinde was the last assault launched by Plumer to successfully employ the bite and hold strategy. The operation aimed to complete the capture the Gheluvelt Plateau and the occupation of Broodseinde Ridge. This would protect the southern flank of the British line and permit future attacks on the Passchendaele Ridge to the east. The attack was originally planned for 6 October to permit II Anzac Corps time to prepare. However, Haig was anxious about the possibility of deteriorating weather, so he pushed to have the assault advanced by two days. The Germans were equally concerned about the amount of ridge-line the British held near Zonnebeke, and sought to recapture as much as possible in a local attack on 4 October. In response to the bite and hold tactic employed in the two previous battles, the Germans reinforced their front line to prevent the British from capturing their forward positions. This change failed as it left an increased number of German troops vulnerable to British artillery fire. On 4 October, 12 divisions from the British Fifth and Second Armies attacked German positions along a 14,000 yards [13,000 m] front. In a bizarre incident, Australian troops from I ANZAC Corps met troops for the German 45th Reserve Division in no man's land when the two assaults commenced simultaneously. The success of the British assault was varied, the southern most corps achieved limited success while attacks between Menin Road and Polygon generated moderate gains. As a whole, the British assault advanced an average 1,000 yards [910 m], the Australian 3rd Division advancing up to 1,900 yards [1,700 m]. After the British attacking units reached their final positions, their artillery fired an interdiction barrage for an additional two and a half hours, allowing the troops to consolidate their positions and establish defences. the British captured 5,000 prisoners during the battle. The British high command mistakenly concluded that the number of enemy casualties meant that resistance was faltering and resolved to make another attack immediately.
Phase: the Battle of Poelcapelle** 9 October 1917
XVIII Corps [Maxse]: 11th [Northern] Division; 48th [South Midland] Division.
The Battle of Poelcapelle** Battle of Poelcappelle: 9 October An advance on 9 October by over 10 divisions of the French First Army, and British 2nd and 5th Armies at Poelkapelle [or Poelcappelle to the British] was a dismal failure for the Allies, with only minor advances by exhausted troops, at a cost of 13,000 casualties.
Second Battle of Passchendaele 26 October - 10 November
Canadian general Sir Arthur William Currie, who led the Canadian Corps in the Second Battle of Passchendaele. Currie correctly predicted that the Canadians would incur from 16,000 to 20,000 casualties if they were to be successful at defeating the Germans. Canadian general Sir Arthur William Currie, who led the Canadian Corps in the Second Battle of Passchendaele. Currie correctly predicted that the Canadians would incur from 16,000 to 20,000 casualties if they were to be successful at defeating the Germans. At this point two divisions of the Canadian Corps were moved into the line to replace the badly depleted ANZAC forces. After their successes at Vimy Ridge and the Battle of Hill 70, the Canadians were considered to be an élite force and were sent into action in some of the worst conditions of the war. Upon his arrival, the Canadian Commander-in-Chief General Sir Arthur Currie expressed the view that the cost of the objective would be sixteen thousand casualties. While Currie viewed this figure as inordinately high in relation to the value of the objective, Haig was used to casualty figures in the hundreds of thousands after years of huge allied losses, and he ordered the offensive to proceed. The Canadians moved into the line during mid-October, and on 26 October 1917, the Second Battle of Passchendaele began with twenty thousand men of the Third and Fourth Canadian Divisions advancing up the hills of the salient. It cost the Allies twelve thousand casualties for a gain of a few hundred yards. Reinforced with the addition of two British divisions, a second offensive on 30 October resulted in the capture of the town in heavy rains. For the next five days the force held the town in the face of repeated German shelling and counter-attacks, and by the time a second group of reinforcements arrived on 6 November, four-fifths of two Canadian divisions had been lost. Their replacements were the First and Second Canadian Divisions. German troops still ringed the area, so a limited attack on the 6th by the remaining troops of the Third Division allowed the First Division to make major advances and gain strong points throughout the area. One such action on the First Division front was at Hill 52; the Tenth Battalion, CEF were called out of reserve to assist an attack on Hill 52, part of the same low rise Passchendaele itself was situated on. The Battalion was not scheduled to attack, but the Commanding Officer of the Tenth had wisely prepared his soldiers as if they would be making the main assault – a decision that paid dividends when the unit was called out of reserve. On 10 November 1917, the Tenth Battalion took the feature with light casualties. A further attack by the Second Division the same day pushed the Germans from the slopes to the east of the town. The high ground was now firmly under Allied control
Altogether, the four years of fighting around Ypres claimed the lives of some 300,000 soldiers of the British Empire; of whom 90,000 have no known graves. These battles, and those British and Commonwealth soldiers who gave their lives, are commemorated at the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, the Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing, the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in the world with nearly 12,000 graves. The German cemetery in the region is also a massive one, as a sizeable proportion of their casualties on the Western Front also fell around Ypres. Passchendaele has come to symbolise the horrific nature of the great battles of the First World War. In terms of the dead, the Germans lost approximately 260,000 men, while the British Empire forces lost about 300,000, including approximately 36,500 Australians, 3,596 New Zealanders and some 15,654 Canadians from 1915 to 1917. 90,000 British and Dominion bodies were never identified, and 42,000 never recovered.
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4th November 1918: Italian-Austrian Border - North East of Trent, Italy, South of Salzburg, Austria.
Divisional HQ received orders on 10 November 1917 for a move to Italy. Entrainment began on 21 November and all units had detrained around Legnano [Adige] by 1 December 1917. The Division them moved north to the area allotted to XI Corps; Commanding Officer: Lieutenant- General Sir Richard Haking.
The Division was ordered to North Italy on 21st November 1917, where it remained, taking part in actions on the Asiago Plateau. The Battle of Asiago The Advance from Asiago In the latter action, the infantry of 143rd Brigade were the first British soldiers to enter the home territory of the Central Powers.
The last attack of the Austro-Hungarian Army
The Austro-Hungarian Army found itself with many extra Divisions once the Russian Army had collapsed, and the peace treaties had been signed in March 1918. A decisive pincer attack against Italy was decided upon, from the north [Asiago] and east [Piave]. Ludendorff appealed to the Austrians to take offensive action when it became clear by late April that his great offensives on the Western Front had failed to bring about a decision. At Asiago, the plan was to reach the southern edge of the Asiago woods by the end of the first day; at the same time Monte Grappa would be captured; then the main thrust would be towards Treviso. The Austrians had 47 infantry and 8 cavalry Divisions, with 6,800 artillery weapons. The Allies had 54 infantry, 4 cavalry and 7,500 guns. The attack was launched on 13th June 1918, in four areas. An attack in the Tonale Pass against Italian forces was utterly defeated; two days later came attacks between the Adige and Monte Grappa, and another along the Piave. This page concerns the centre section. A British offensive in the same area had been envisaged for 18th June, and consequently more heavy artillery than would otherwise have been the case was available, including that of the 7th Division.
Where the battle took place The Asiago Plateau lies North of Vicenza. It was believed by both sides to be critical, in that an advance by the Austro-Hungarians would endanger the whole Italian position on the River Piave. The Plateau forms a step in the descent from the Alps to the sea. The ground is a downhill slope, 'a confusion of rugged pine-clad hills and valleys, bare rock where there are no trees, with spurs projecting towards Asiago...At the bottom of the slope was the new British front line. The Plateau itself measures some 7 miles from east to west, and three miles north to south. On the left the trenches faced each other across an impassable gorge, 2000 feet deep. Elsewhere No Man's Land was at its narrowest half a mile wide'. [Official History]. British Order of Battle Divisions 23rd, 48th
What happened In this attack, ground initially won by the Austrian army from the Italians was successfully recovered by the British. The British front was being held by the 23rd and 48th Divisions, both well under-strength due to lack of reinforcements and cases of influenza, and each holding 4000 yards of line. For example in the 144th Brigade, where companies should have been 250 strong, they averaged 75. The artillery of the 7th Division, then in reserve, was close to the front too. The Italian and British Armies received good intelligence about the forthcoming attack. At 3am on 15th June, a heavy bombardment including gas opened on the entire British front and battery positions. However, the fire was not registered nor accurate, but brought trees down and sent lareg rock splinters flying. Artillery signalling lines were soon out of action. British counter-battery work commenced at 5am and was throughout the day very successful. The infantry attack opened at 7am, and the battle soon broke in the mist and wooded country into fragemented local affairs, with hand to hand fighting. The 23rd Division lost a little ground at the flanks but recovered it during the day. The front of the 48th Division was broken at several places but again this was recovered by early on the 16th. British patrols were sent out, in the belief that the Austrians were confused and demoralised, but they ran into resistance that suggested otherwise.
Christmas Card 1917
Casualties The total British casualties amounted to just under 1,500 of all ranks, killed, wounded and missing. The enemy were sorely beaten, their losses heavy. During the period 14-25th June, the Austrian Eleventh Army lost almost 50,000 men, of which a substantial portion was at Asiago.
Adolf HITLER Timeline:
Montello [1-6 March
Part of XI Corps; Commanding Officer: Lieutenant- General Sir Richard Haking
The 48th [South Midland] Division relieved 7th Division to hold the front line sector at the Montello netween 1 and 16 March 1918. It then moved west, to the Asiago sector.
The Division took part in: The fighting on the Asiago Plateau [15-16 June 1918]
Adolf HITLER Timeline:
The Battle of the Vittorio Veneto [1-4 November 1918]
By the Armistice [which here was at 3pm on 4 November 1918], the Division had pushed forward into the Trentino and was eight miles NW of Levico. In so doing the Warwickshire Brigade also took the distinction of being the first British formation to enter into what had been European enemy "home ground" before the war. By 10 November the Division had withdrawn and was at Granezza; by five days later it was at Trissino.
Medals awarded prior to 11th November 1918
Adolf HITLER Timeline:
Adolf HITLER was undoubtably a brave
man; he was awarded five medals, decorations and other awards, including
the Iron Cross, twice, 1st and 2nd Class. His List Regiment and the headquarters
messenger group suffered tremendous casualties during the war, but fortunately
Adolf avoided many close calls and regularly indicated he expected to
survive the war.
The demobilisation of the Division began in early 1919
Disembodied 19th March 1919 the service of the Division came to an end on 31 March when the final cadres left for England.
By June 1919, the Division had been largely demobilised and was at cadre strength. It was reformed in the United Kingdom as part of the Territorial Army in April 1920.
The 6th won six Victoria Crosses during the First World War
Order of Battle 143rd (Warwickshire) Brigade
1/5th Bn, the Royal Warwicks (joined August 1914)
1/6th Bn, the Royal Warwicks (joined August 1914)
1/7th Bn, the Royal Warwicks (joined August 1914)
1/8th Bn, the Royal Warwicks (joined August 1914, left September 1918)
143rd Brigade Machine Gun Company (formed 8 January 1916, moved into 48 MG Bn 22 March 1918)
143rd Trench Mortar Battery (formed 14 June 1916)
My Paternal Grandfather John William HARTLEY's Family Tree
My Mother Joyce WILLIAMS
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