Author Topic: 2nd Manchesters at Manchester Hill  (Read 10780 times)

Offline PhilipG

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Re: 2nd Manchesters at Manchester Hill
« Reply #30 on: August 11, 2017, 05:32:07 PM »
Charlie,

Thank you. But more later.    In Map No.1, the Roman Road is easily identified as it runs parallel to the D1029 (formerly N 29).   The Manchesters' memorial in Francilly Selency is nearby that old road.  As regards Map No 2, would I be right in identifying the road going north as the former D683 (now grassed over) meeting at the D68? In which case I can pick out Maison Rouge (Manchester Hill) and the railway line leading to St. Quentin.  In the meantime, thank you again for producing the very appropriate photos for this thread. PhilipG.

Offline charlie

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Re: 2nd Manchesters at Manchester Hill
« Reply #31 on: August 11, 2017, 07:17:05 PM »
Philip,
Photo 2 is the cross roads on the eastern side of Selency. Photo 1 I am not quite sure that it does or doesn't show the Halte and the St Quentin railway. I have looked at it for a long while and tried to compare it with a trench map without a definitive answer. I would welcome any thoughts.
Here is the link to the original which can be downloaded

https://www2.landesarchiv-bw.de/ofs21/bild_zoom/zoom.php?bestand=13759&ausgangspunkt=uebergreifendeSuche&id=7671953&gewaehlteSeite=04_0001847297_0001_4-1847297-1.jpg&screenbreite=1024&screenhoehe=748

Charlie

Offline PhilipG

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Re: 2nd Manchesters at Manchester Hill
« Reply #32 on: August 12, 2017, 12:17:24 PM »
Charlie,
The crater I suspect was part of the "scorched earth" policy of the German Army retreating to the Hindenburg Line in February 1917, the first inkling of which was from a patrol of the 21st Manchesters at Serre.

As regards Photo No. 1.  The Chemin-de-Fayet follows the edge of the wood from Fayet to the D1029, at which point you have ringed a crater's location.  That portion of the Chemin-de Fayet has disappeared, on account I think of the alteration of the D1029 into St.Quentin re the A26.  However, on the opposite side of the wood there are traces of a road which leads from the D 1029, makes a 90 degree turn and joins the Chemin-de Fayet at the corner of the wood. That road is one I have travelled upon on several occasions and with suitable modifications, crosses the motorway and enters Fayet, a place well known to the 2nd battalion in April 1917.

The long straight road marked "Holnon", I recognise as the Roman Road which crosses the D683 near Francilly-Selency.   Following the D683 through that village in the  direction of "Manchester Hill", the road ends in the left hand corner of the photo, but alas, the photo reproduction is not readable.  But "Manchester Hill" must be somewhere there, surely.

As regards Photo No.2.  I suggest this depicts the wood I mention in paragraph two.   The road that runs diagonally across the photograph I suggest is the D1029, which disappears at the top of the photo in the direction of St. Quentin (under the word Selency).   The prominent white line is the Chemin-de-Fayet which joins the D1039 at the crater.   At the corner of the wood is a white dot with a road leading therefrom.  That must lead to Selency.

In the matter of the Halte and the railway, we need a photo of "Manchester Hill".  The above has been a very interesting exercise and thank you for producing the photographs.  More wanted!    Let me know what you think of the above.  PhilipG.

Offline PhilipG

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Re: 2nd Manchesters at Manchester Hill
« Reply #33 on: August 13, 2017, 03:22:39 PM »
The Chemin-de-Fayet enters the Fayet village at right angles to a road coming from Gricourt.   As the Gricourt road enters the village, its very high banks on both sides of the road caused the military to designate this site "The Sunken Road".  On the 14th April 1917, the 2nd Manchesters were marching along the sunken road towards St. Quentin.   Wilfred Owen in a letter to his brother writes that when marching along this road, there was a sudden order "Line the Bank".  He goes on: "there was a tremendous scurry of fixing bayonets.........opening pouches, but when we peeped over behold one solitary German............".   Apparently nobody fired at him and the enemy soldier was made a POW.  PhilipG.

Offline PhilipG

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Re: 2nd Manchesters at Manchester Hill
« Reply #34 on: August 16, 2017, 01:12:16 PM »
I have re-read the thread and realised that the battlefield, as once known in years gone by has almost disappeared.  As regards the 2nd Manchesters' attack of the 2nd April 1917, the "Start Line" hitherto has been obvious.  It was, of course, the railway line connecting "The Halte" at Maison Rouge (Mcr. Hill) and crossing over the fields, sometimes on embankments, to a siding at "Poste-gaz".   "Poste-gaz" is still visible at its location on the D681 (to Holnon) today.  The line and its embankments appear to have gone.

However, following the "Chemin de Fayet", the field in Fayet village in which the battalion rested on the 14th April known as "Squash Valley" is still untouched.   Similarly, the "Start Line" in Fayet on the D57  (Centre Commercial), which was the prelude to the uphill charge to capture the trenches on the D732 (St.Q. to Gricourt road), still exists.  Thus, as far as the 2nd Manchesters' exploits in 1917 are concerned, something remains.

Turning to Manchester Hill and the 16th battalion.   Disappointedly, the "sights" are diminishing.   The quarry was long since filled in.  Indeed, that area became a "Moto-cross". That facility has now gone and its area appears to have been covered with trees.  The former D683 has been grassed over and "The Halte" and its sidings gone.

I feel that those who are able to visit the area may be a little disappointed if a commemoration is to be inaugurated there in 2018 - in contrast to 1996 when the memorial to the two battalions was erected outside the church in Francilly-Selency.

On that note, I wonder what commemorations, if any, are envisaged for 2018 in respect of these two battalions' operations in the area ?    But if I were not prevented by advancing years I would still go any way!   PhilipG.


Offline charlie

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Re: 2nd Manchesters at Manchester Hill
« Reply #35 on: August 18, 2017, 04:02:37 PM »
To go back to the captured gun battery, the Brigade War Diary records the map reference S.15.b.6.2. The Brigade diary seems to be the only one to do this, I haven't been able to find a reference in the Divisional, CRA or 2nd Bn diaries. This reference places the battery somewhere else completely.

Charlie

Offline PhilipG

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Re: 2nd Manchesters at Manchester Hill
« Reply #36 on: August 18, 2017, 05:35:22 PM »
Charlie,

"This reference places the battery somewhere else completely."     Exactly.  The position you mark is near where the sketch plan given by the 15th H.L.I. states the German battery was located when their recovery operation began.  That is in No Man's Land in front of the battalion.   In other words, not north of Francilly Selency  village on the Roman Road.   ( By coincidence,  in Square 15 b on your map, you will notice an irregular blue line in the corner.   It was somewhere along that blue line, perhaps, that the H.L.I.'s covering party held back the German attempt to recapture the guns).  PhilipG.

Offline PhilipG

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Re: 2nd Manchesters at Manchester Hill
« Reply #37 on: August 21, 2017, 12:43:34 PM »
Charlie,

As the Brigadier-General won the Victoria Cross bringing in the guns, I think a degree of confidence must be placed upon the accuracy of the Brigade's War Diary map reference.   An account of the deed follows:-

"On 3/4 April 1917 at Francilly, France, Major Lumsden undertook to bring in six captured enemy field-guns which had been left in dug-in positions 300 yards in front of our own troops, and the enemy were keeping these guns under very heavy fire.   Major Lumsden led four artillery teams and a party of infantry through the hostile barrage, and despite casualties they eventually got all the guns away.   The major himself made three journeys to the guns and then stayed there directing operations until the last gun had been taken back".    PhilipG.

Offline charlie

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Re: 2nd Manchesters at Manchester Hill
« Reply #38 on: August 21, 2017, 01:36:33 PM »
Philip,
I agree as regards the map reference, I have also checked the Divisional TMB War Diaries but they do not record any map references as to where the guns were captured. In my opinion the Brigade WD is the only source that gives an accurate location of the guns.

I tried to order the histories of the German 234th Div and the the divisional artillery regiment Feldartillerie Regiment 4 today. Unfortunately the library is closed till next Monday. One would expect at least a mention of the loss of a complete battery, not an everyday occurence!

Charlie

Offline PhilipG

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Re: 2nd Manchesters at Manchester Hill
« Reply #39 on: August 21, 2017, 03:12:52 PM »
Charlie,

Thank you.  PhilipG.

Offline PhilipG

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Re: 2nd Manchesters at Manchester Hill
« Reply #40 on: August 30, 2017, 10:51:07 AM »
Timberman,

I wonder, please, if it would now be prudent to accept that the German battery's position as given by the Brigade War Diary is correct and to now assume that the position indicated by the battalion's history is misleading?    With your wide knowledge of the 2nd battalion what is your opinion?  PhilipG.

Offline charlie

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Re: 2nd Manchesters at Manchester Hill
« Reply #41 on: August 30, 2017, 07:31:26 PM »
The following passage from the operational report in the 2nd Bn War Diary lends weight to the Brigade Diary being correct

The guns captured by the Battalion were covered by the 15th HLI who had followed the Manchester Regiment into Francilly-Selency, the guns could easily be guarded from the trenches in daylight and also from the trenches of the 16th Northumberland Fusiliers at Point 138

Charlie

Offline charlie

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Re: 2nd Manchesters at Manchester Hill
« Reply #42 on: August 31, 2017, 09:59:46 AM »
After giving this a bit more thought, I have put the all relevant positions on one map. The positions of the Brigade infantry are those taken up on 2nd April and are from the 14th Brigade War Diary. In my opinion there can only be one position from which the guns were recovered from, the cross roads being in or behind the Brigade front line and the guns being 300 yards in front of the positions held by 15/HLI.

Charlie

Offline PhilipG

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Re: 2nd Manchesters at Manchester Hill
« Reply #43 on: August 31, 2017, 10:59:14 AM »
Charlie,

Thank you.   Your indication regarding the location of the German battery's position at the time of its recovery agrees with that portrayed in the 15th H.L.I.'s battalion history.   I am going to refresh my memory and see what the Official History of the War - Military Operations 1917 has to say about this interesting matter. PhilipG.

Offline PhilipG

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Re: 2nd Manchesters at Manchester Hill
« Reply #44 on: August 31, 2017, 11:50:38 AM »
The Official History of the War re 2nd April 1917 attack on the villages of Holnon & Selency, east of Holnon Wood.

"This attack, the direction of which was almost due north, its left being on the Savy-Holnon road  (D681) was launched at 5 am."  It goes on. "South-east of Francilly Selency the 2nd Manchester on the right captured a battery of six field guns, which had been firing over open sights".  It continues. "The three villages of Francilly Selency, Selency and Holnon were all taken within three-quarters of an hour, and touch was established with the 61st Division north of Holnon Wood soon afterwards."

I think 'South-east of Francilly Selency' as quoted in the Official History is of some significance.

To continue. "The battery, which lay in advance of the line consolidated by the infantry, could not be drawn out until the night of the 3rd April, and then only after a hard struggle.  Major F.W. Lumsden, GSO2 of the division led an artillery party....................".   PhilipG.