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Remembered Today:

Turk Lane


charly
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3 hours ago, Gneel1 said:

Thanks again for this - I'm trying to find the war diary for the NZ Field Engineers 2nd Company and struggling to find it in the natlib.govt.nz - do you have any tips on how to find things on their huge and very confusing website? Much appreciated!

Go to the following page and search for New Zealand Engineers - 2nd Field Company - It will yield a list diaries for each month. If you choose the correct "Record online" tab you can download at will. A few documents such as court martials are not available online. 

Archway :: Records Advanced Search (archives.govt.nz)

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French Lane communication trench definitely existed even if it is not shown on trench maps. I have yet to establish its exact location.

According to their war diary, the trench was dug by the NZ 2nd Company of Field Engineers while the NZ Pioneer Battalion were concentrating on nearby Turk Lane. I imagine there might have been friendly rivalry between the two groups. 

Both trenches began near Montauban (S27). While Turk Lane eventually reached M24 b, French Lane may have only gone as far as the Carlton and Savoy trenches (S15 a - S16 b) although it seems there was a trench connection to Fish Alley beginning on North Street. (see excepts below).

The secrecy given to trench locations must have confounded the allies more than the Germans. 

Excerpts from: 
THE NEW ZEALAND DIVISION 1916 - 1919: A POPULAR HISTORY BASED ON OFFICIAL RECORDS
CHAPTER III — THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME, 1916

Author: Col. H. Stewart
Whitcombe and Tombs Limited, 1921, Auckland

Page 64-5:

[. . .]
From these scenes of carefully staged rehearsal the first troops to move up to the front were the Engineers and the Pioneer Battalion. They left on 27th August, and partly on foot and partly by train proceeded to the neighbourhood of Fricourt. Here they were first employed under the Chief Engineer of the XV. Corps in consolidating the old German Second Line on the Bazentin Ridge and then, with a view to the forthcoming attack, in digging west of Delville Wood the 2 communication trenches of Turk Lane and French Lane, which were to become such famous arteries of the battlefield. 

The next arm to follow was the artillery, who, marching by different routes through 29th and 30th August, concentrated at Bonnay. The same vile weather which was impeding the sappers in the reconstruction of the Carlton and Savoy trenches made the march a trying one for the gunners, harness and equipment being soaked in the torrential rain. [. . .]

Page 83.
[. . .]
Blocks and bombing posts were established in Flers Trench and Flers Support, and a defensive flank was manned in a convenient sap which ran from Abbey Road to Flers Support. This was later continued to the main left [?] communication trench forward of the Switch line, Fish Alley, which led back to the 4th Battalion in the Brown Line and thence into French Lane. [. . .]

 

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Official History of the New Zealand Engineers during the Great War 1914-1919

Multiple authors. Published 1927

http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WH1-Engi-t1-body-d7.html

 

Excerpt from Chapter VII. The Battle of the Somme 1916, page 89-

Early in September, the efforts of the NZ Engineers were transferred to the more congenial task of preparing particularly for the advent of their own Infantry. A day or two were spent by all available units on the road from Mametz to Montauban. The surface mud was shovelled off, and a layer of brick rubble put on to give a firm foothold. Side drains and large sump pits to control surface water materially improved the road. Thereafter, in company with the Pioneers, the sappers set about the construction of two new communication trenches for up and down traffic. These were known as Turk Lane and French Lane, and ran from the dumps to the advanced areas. The Pioneers worked on Turk Lane, the Engineers on French Lane.

For the first time in France, the sappers were working with their own job all to themselves, spurred on by this fact, and by a friendly rivalry with those redoubtable warriors, the Pioneers, they made a great effort.

The two saps were dug throughout to a depth of 3 feet, and by a second operation were lowered to a depth of 5 feet, and provided with duckboards.

It was here that the first real bombardment with gas shells was experienced, one Company losing 2 officers and 20 men in one night. Heavy rain hindered the work throughout. Night after night the men came home soaked with rain and mud, with no prospect of drying their clothes, and the morrow saw but repetition of the same conditions. However, on arrival of the Infantry battalions on the 11th, two splendid communication trenches, each some 4000 yards in length, duckboarded and revetted throughout, lay ready to conduct them from the dumps right to the advanced line of posts in Black Watch Trench [S4 c - S10 b]. Runner posts were provided in both saps. In an area pitifully ill supplied with such advantages, these two saps became quite famous, and were known by envious neighbours far and wide. In fact, they set a new standard for the area, and the increased endeavour consequent upon an effort to live up to them was of great benefit all round.

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18 hours ago, Kaniere said:

Go to the following page and search for New Zealand Engineers - 2nd Field Company - It will yield a list diaries for each month. If you choose the correct "Record online" tab you can download at will. A few documents such as court martials are not available online. 

Archway :: Records Advanced Search (archives.govt.nz)

Thanks very much fo rhelping me navigate that. The diary itrself is very disappointing, I was looking for at least some mention of people in it!! Again, thanks so much for your help.

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