Author Topic: Battlefields : 2nd Bn. Manchester Regiment.  (Read 712 times)

Offline PhilipG

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Battlefields : 2nd Bn. Manchester Regiment.
« on: August 26, 2019, 10:38:20 AM »

A recent thread on the Forum carried a photograph upon which it was possible to see two battlefield sites which in WW1 played a part in the battalion's history.   I indicate, of course, "Manchester Hill" and "Squash Valley" and its nearby redoubt - the Enghien Redoubt.      Perusing the photograph, it was disappointing to see that significant changes, perhaps of necessity or agricultural subsidies, appear to be taking place.       To take Manchester Hiill first.     The redoubt has suffered some modification in order to make way for an extension to a nearby field.

In the case of Fayet, the Fayet - Selency road (an unclassified lane leading from Fayet to the D 1029), it is not clear if this route has been given over to fields, thus making access to Enghien Redoubt difficult.

Fortunately, Squash Valley in Fayet, the inspiration for Wilfred Owen's poem - "Spring Offensive" seems as yet, untouched.

PhilipG.

Offline mack

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Re: Battlefields : 2nd Bn. Manchester Regiment.
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2019, 01:46:47 PM »
hiya Philip.
you mention the enghien redoubt being in the regiments history,i thought this redoubt was manned by the oxs+bucks

mack

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Battlefields : 2nd Bn. Manchester Regiment.
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2019, 10:41:30 AM »
Mack,

Thank you.  You are exactly right.   Indeed, I have already mentioned this in the "Timberman" thread - Reply No. 20.     The Manchester Regt. was involved in actions at Manchester Hill through the 2nd battalion on the 2nd April 1917 - 2nd Lt. Taylor and his two platoons of "A" Coy. - and the 16th Manchesters under Col. Elstob fighting in the Forward Zone on the 21st March 1918.     I mention the Enghien Redoubt, for it seems to me that its location on the 16th battalion's left flank and the Oxfords' subsequent withdrawal would be of concern to the 16th Manchesters, as would the conduct of the 2/8th Worcesters garrisoning the Ellis Redoubt on the D1029 near Bois des Roses farm, likewise on Elstob's left flank.

As my dictionary records: "History is the study of past events in the life of an institution."   That is why it is sad that landmarks appertaining to the Manchesters' military history are now disappearing.    PhilipG.



Offline PhilipG

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Re: Battlefields : 2nd Bn. Manchester Regiment.
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2019, 10:52:55 AM »

Mack,

Re the 2nd/4th Oxford & Bucks. Light Infantry.   I've found the following info.    The Commanding Officer, Lt.Col. Wetherall, captured at the Enghien Redoubt managed to escape his captors and leaving the Forward Zone managed to reach British lines in the Battle Zone.    PhilipG.

Offline mack

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Re: Battlefields : 2nd Bn. Manchester Regiment.
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2019, 12:11:22 PM »
thanks Philip
my personal interest is the 16th manchesters,and I feel sad that Manchester hill and brown quarry are slowly vanishing,i know and ime sure you do that the countryside has to make way for progress,but it doesn't make it less sad for us two,who if we had the chance,would probably re-erect the whole front line :) :)

mack

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Battlefields : 2nd Bn. Manchester Regiment.
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2019, 12:20:56 PM »
Mack,

Well said.   PhilipG.

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Battlefields : 2nd Bn. Manchester Regiment.
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2019, 10:28:07 AM »
Over an extended period of time, it appeared to me that the shape of Round Hill was changing.  This hill was on the left flank of the 2nd Manchesters during their attack on Francilly-Selency in April 1917.     Herbert Asquith, the Prime Minister's son, an officer in the Royal Field Artillery, wrote of climbing Round Hill and being able to view the battle raging around Manchester Hill.   It was then that he realised that the 16th Manchesters were cut off on the north and west by enemy troops.    That was on the 21st March 1918.     Persuaded by Asquith's account, I visited the hill using an unclassified track.   It was there that I discovered that the area was being suitably in-filled and levelled by the local authority with waste material, which I presumed was why its contour line appeared to change from time to time.

I found the view to be a splendid one, spoiled only by the inability of the back wheels of the car to gain traction in the rubbish beneath them.    It was with relief that I regained the firm surface of the D681 below.   PhilipG.

Offline PhilipG

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Re: Battlefields : 2nd Bn. Manchester Regiment.
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2019, 10:04:12 AM »
Returning to  Asquith's "Moments of Memory" book, I see that during March 1918 and from time to time, he occupied the Forward Observation Post at the 16th Manchesters' redoubt, which he calls Brown Quarry - another landmark which has long since disappeared.    I recall that some years ago, the Forward Observation position was indicated by a large wooden pole to which was affixed a motor car tyre.    In the interests of farming that has also disappeared.   On the 21st March 1918 the RFA subaltern on duty was a Lieutenant Harris.  Following the destruction of the cable from the redoubt to the battery, Harris returned under enemy fire to his unit to report the position verbally.                         

The RFA battery in which Asquith was serving was located and hidden away on the eastern side of Holnon Wood i.e. in the front line of the Battle Zone.     Apparently, there was an expectation that enemy tanks would be used in their forthcoming attack and a single gun was placed near the redoubt with a good field of fire to deal with that eventuality.

The fire cover given by Asquith's battery was continuous until written orders were given for a withdrawal to be made to Ham, about seven miles away.   The battery "limbered up" and proceeded as ordered, on one occasion being forced by a perilous position to set some shells at fuze setting "0", which would enable the shell to burst near the gun's muzzle in the event that the attacking German infantry tried to rush the guns.     I found this piece of research extremely interesting as it depicted a side to the March Retreat which was new to me.        PhilipG.