Author Topic: Following the B.E.F. and the Manchesters  (Read 4181 times)

Offline PhilipG

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Following the B.E.F. and the Manchesters
« on: August 02, 2019, 10:57:17 AM »
Some years ago, I joined a study group involved in tracing the routes the BEF took in 1914 from Mons to Cerny, on the Chemin des Dames.      Thus, we visited the site of the Nery Battery episode, Villers-Cotterets and various parts of the rivers Marne and Aisne.      In 1914 the Aisne river was crossed by the BEF between Missy-sur-Aisne and Venizel. 

On the 13th September 1914 at 3 pm, the 2nd Manchesters crossed the Aisne (with their pack animals) at Moulin des Roches, reaching Sainte Marguerite on the opposite bank - just in time to lend support to the hard pressed units of                                                                        the 12th Infantry Brigade (1st King's Own, 2nd L. Fus., 2nd Royal Inniskillings & 2nd Essex).

My 1: 100,000 map does not show the location of Moulin des Roches.  Help needed, please.  PhilipG.
 

Offline charlie

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Re: Following the B.E.F. and the Manchesters
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2019, 12:52:21 PM »
Philip,
I imagine that was a very interesting tour. Am I correct in assuming that Moulin des Roches is a road? In which case Rue du Moulin des Roches is the road that leads in a southerly direction from Ste Marguerite towards the river.

Chrlie

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Following the B.E.F. and the Manchesters
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2019, 04:37:19 PM »
Charlie,

Many thanks.   The sketch map indicates that it is a place on the southern banks of the River Aisne roughly SSE of Saint M.     The river at that point was 150 feet wide and 15 feet deep, hence the need for pontoons etc.   I think you are on the right lines, but I sense that the place may be a little south of the area depicted in the photograph.  Thanks again.  PhilipG.


Offline charlie

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Re: Following the B.E.F. and the Manchesters
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2019, 08:35:42 PM »
Philip,
The attached map shows Moulin des Roches to be on the river at the end of what I presume to be a part of the Rue du Moulin des Roches that no longer exists.
Charlie

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Following the B.E.F. and the Manchesters
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2019, 09:44:40 PM »
Charlie,

Again many thanks.  I don't know if you have a current 1 ; 100.000 map for the area, but the river seems to have been filled in at various places, I suspect in connection with hydro-electric power supply, but I do not really know.  PhilipG.

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Following the B.E.F. and the Manchesters
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2019, 04:35:45 PM »
I came across an account of a BEF battalion's landing on the northern bank of the River Aisne, an account written by a Captain Bloem of the 12th Brandenburg Grenadiers, as seen from the high ground of the Chivres Spur on the 13th Sept. 1914.     It indicates, I think, the sheer professionalism of the BEF at that time.
He writes that he was looking towards the River Aisne, through field glasses, when he was suddenly aware of what appeared to be a series of dots on the horizon.  Shortly afterwards he realised that the dots he saw were in fact widely extended British troops emerging from the willows along the banks of the Aisne.   Although the front line of the advancing soldiers took cover, the second line continued the forward movement.   In due course, a third and fourth line appeared, each keeping 200 yards distance from the line in front.  A fifth and sixth line also appeared with wide intervals between and the extensions of 10 paces interval.   Throughout their advance, the British force had come under intense German artillery fire, but their formation was such that casualties were few - 1 killed and 2 wounded.  Reforming, the battalion marched on to Ste. Marguerite without incident.

The German officer remarks that it was a magnificent effort with tactical excellence.

The British battalion he described was in fact the 2nd Lancs. Fusiliers on their way to Ste. Marguerite, shortly to be joined by the 2nd Manchesters assembling at Moulin des Roches, readying themselves to join the Fusiliers across the river for future actions at Ste Marguerite and beyond.    PhilipG.

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Following the B.E.F. and the Manchesters
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2019, 11:08:57 AM »
The Royal Engineers similarly come over as military professionals, seen in the way the Field Coy. set about solving the problem of how to enable them to assist the 2nd Manchesters across the deep and wide River Aisne.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           This endeavour involved the rapid construction of a number of pontoon rafts.   It seems, too, that some method of floating bales of hay enabled a platoon of men to cross the river without too much difficulty.

A study of the 2nd Manchesters' crossing of the Aisne indicates the difference between open warfare and trench warfare.   The former, seemingly requires the ability to take with the advancing troops, horses, carts and various supplies, whilst in the latter case such items can be left behind.

As regards "floating bales of hay" has anybody info. as to how this was done?     PhilipG.

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Following the B.E.F. and the Manchesters
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2019, 11:22:42 AM »
Sorry about the style of presentation.  Something is adrift with my computer, I fear.   PhilipG.

Offline charlie

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Re: Following the B.E.F. and the Manchesters
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2019, 11:52:22 AM »
Philip,
I asked my ex sapper son and the only thing he could think of is the same way as using barrels - always presuming bales of hay float! - „We lashed 4 planks in a square then 3 barrels down each side lashed to the underside of the planks using a square lashing“ Perhaps a cross between this and the Kon Tiki.

It is sometimes said the the BEF of 1914 was the most professional army Britain has ever put in the field. Certainly the German army was impressed by its professionalism, quite a few of the German histories I have read make mention of it.

Charlie

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Following the B.E.F. and the Manchesters
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2019, 12:16:12 PM »
Charlie,

Once again - many thanks.   PhilipG

Offline mack

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Re: Following the B.E.F. and the Manchesters
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2019, 02:45:30 PM »
ime only asking guys,is moulin des roche a village,my French aint that good,but moulin des roche means the rock mill,if it was a village it would most probably be still there on todays maps,but if its a mill,it may have been destroyed and no longer exist,dave who goes under the avatar fritz bayer on the great war forum has many maps from WW1,i haven't heard from him for many years,but if hes still around,he may be able to help

mack

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Following the B.E.F. and the Manchesters
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2019, 04:38:52 PM »
Mack,

I have taken it to be just a prominent landmark, which after crossing the river, enabled the Manchesters to take the road to Ste. Marguerite village.  PhilipG.

Offline charlie

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Re: Following the B.E.F. and the Manchesters
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2019, 12:55:00 PM »
On the attached maps there were buildings at Moulin des Roches. The coloured map is pre war, date unknown, and shows three buildings. The black and white map is from the set of separate maps to Vol 1 of the Official History and shows an old mill. I did find find a third sketch map also showing three buildings, but I can‘t find it again. I think Mack is correct and the buildings were destroyed.

If anyone has the coloured maps to Vol 1 of the Official History, I would be interested in seeing a better quality scan of the area.

Charlie

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Following the B.E.F. and the Manchesters
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2019, 04:52:12 PM »
Charlie,

Thank you.  I take it you are referring to Coloured Map No. 31 d/d 1920.   This records "Ancient Mill" on the northern side of the Aisne river.    On the southern side of the river, between the railway and the river, are the words "Sugar Factory".   What I now realise, because it is coloured in blue, together with the map's key which states "Water Mill", is that the line on the map leading to the mill in fact depicts a stream leading to the mill from Missy sur Aisne and thereafter into the river itself.  But what a strain on the eyesight to discover all that.   Thanks once more.  PhilipG..

Offline mack

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Re: Following the B.E.F. and the Manchesters
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2019, 05:44:44 PM »
on 13th September the RE constructed a raft that carried 60 men of the 2nd manchesters to cross the river in the afternoon just above venizel,that evening the raft was used to ferry men of 14th brigade across the river.

I doubt wether this raft was made of straw,its unlikely it would have been in any condition to make more than one or two crossings

mack