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mark ashwell

Map Help - Comines, Belgium, October 1918

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mark ashwell

I would appreciate if anyone has access to a “trench map” for the Comines area for October 1918 – and can tell me the positions of two bridges constructed across the River Lys on 14th Oct.

From the war diary the map referenced is; Sheet 28 1/40,000 (Comines, 14th October 1918), and the 41st Infantry brigade’s orders were to advance with two Battalions - the 29th Durham Light Infantry on the Left, and the 33rd London Reg. R.B. on the Right;

“The objective allotted to the 41st Inf. Bde. will be from the River Lys in V.8.d, along the railway line from STEPS ROAD past STROKE House, (V.10.c), to contour 20 in V.11.b, thence to contour 20 in W.1.c.”

“The Right boundary of the 41st Inf. Bde will be from V.c.d.5.0. thence due east along the grid line. The Left boundary will approximately the line of the BECQUE DE BOIS. The Inter-battalion boundary will be from V.4.b.2.0 to V.5.c.0.0. thence due east along the grid line.”

As the advance by the 41st Inf. Bde commenced on the morning of 14th October 1918, two bridges were constructed across the River Lys, by an attachment of the 89th Field Coy, R.E. The positions of the two bridges are given as; P.35.d.0.3 and P.36.a.2.7.

I would also like to know the locations of some of the places mentioned in the diary during the advance. They are; HOOGMOOTH FARM, HAZEBROUCK FACTORY, THE DISTILLERY, GODSHUIS, and “the island between MORTE LYS and LYS”.

The soldier I am researching, Private Fred Hawley, “A” coy, 29th D.L.I. died during this advance.

Regards,

Mark

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AlanCurragh

Mark - all the following come from the excellent Linesman trench map package - from a map dated Sept 1918 - this one shows V8-9-10-14-15-16

post-2705-1225396612.jpg

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AlanCurragh

V4-5

post-2705-1225396827.jpg

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AlanCurragh

P35 and P36 straddle two maps - here is P36a (above and to the left of the number 36) - you can clearly see the bridge crossing the river here

post-2705-1225397125.jpg

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AlanCurragh

P35d (below and to the right of the number 35)

Hope these help - let me know if you want higher resolution copies

Alan

post-2705-1225397278.jpg

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mark ashwell
P35d (below and to the right of the number 35)

Hope these help - let me know if you want higher resolution copies

Alan

Thanks Alan,

The maps are perfect!

Best regards,

Mark Ashwell

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si118

Mark,

I appreciate your original post was some time ago but I came across it while looking for further details on the crossing of the river Lys in Oct 18. I have researching the royal engineer involvement in the crossing. I know a great deal of what 89 Fd Coy 

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si118

Oops wrong button!! 

89 Fd Coy got up to,  especially at Comines. I have the operation report by OC 89 Fd Coy if you would like it and if it sheds any light on your questions?? 

Si

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mark ashwell

Hello Si, 

 

Not been on this site or a while!   but would be most appreciative to see the operation report for the crossing.  What I have been told so far is detailed below. From the 29th DLI report.

 

Comines, Franco-Belgian border, 1918.

On Monday 14th October at 5:35, the 30th Division north of the Lys River and deployed to the left of the 41st Brigade begin their attack on enemy positions south of the Lys River. This was the signal the 41st were waiting for, and patrols were sent out from the forward companies - along the railway line, then down to the river which they reached unmolested and walked about openly on the riverbank. They found that the original bridges had been destroyed. A detachment of the 89th Field Company R.E. was ordered to construct two bridges across the River at points 3, and 4. These were to be simple 2’6” wide “duckboard” planked bridges - suitable for men to cross on foot. The 29th Battalion would provide covering fire for the R.E. At bridge 4 the ground was completely open and work would have to be carried out in full view of the enemy – A Lewis M.G. section would take up a position close to the bridge on the north bank.

At 12:30 they began a bombardment of trench mortars at the enemy’s positions, and at 13:00 patrols, scouts and the R.E. detachment advanced and began to work simultaneously on the two bridges. The remaining two companies were held back in readiness to cross as soon as the bridges were completed.

Bridge 4 was quickly and roughly laid, and the Lewis gun section was ordered to cross the bridge first and take up a position on the south Bank. So far no shots had been fired from either side, but as soon as the Lewis gun section began to cross, hostile machine gun fire opened up from positions near the Distillery, Hazebrouck Factory, and Hoogmooth Farm, and a position due south of bridge 3.

Two more sections crossed bridge 4, and a platoon was sent forward along the railway in readiness to cross. The enemy now opened heavy artillery fire towards both bridge positions and the road behind bridge 3. Bridge 4 was damaged but not destroyed. Two M.G. sections took up positions on the railway embankment on the North bank, and opened heavy fire towards the M.G positions on the south bank.

Heavy casualties began to occur at bridge 4. Lieut Halliwell of the R.E was wounded, but crawled across the bridge and continued to supervise the operation from the south bank, covered by 2nd/Lieut C. A. Carter of the 29th Bn, who stood up openly drawing away fire, by firing from a Lewis gun from the shoulder towards the enemy positions, until he was killed.

At 15:30 resistance and casualties were deemed so heavy that the C.O. decided to withdraw all men from bridge 3. and stop any more men from crossing bridge 4. Heavy artillery fire continued on both sides, and the C.O. - worried that the M.G section on the south bank would be cut off if the bridge destroyed, decided to withdraw the section back to their original position.

At 17:00 a patrol of eight men rom “A” Company was sent out to the Island between the Morte Lys and the Lys. They succeeded in crossing the Morte Lys, but came under heavy M.G. Fire. The officer in charge of the patrol, 2nd/Lieut Albert Dean was very badly injured (NB: he died of wounds the following day). Sergeant Archibald Pook, and Fred Hawley were killed.

The remaining men took cover and remained out there until they could withdraw after dark, after which the Islands were bombarded with artillery fire. It was reported that the patrol had successfully drawn fire from the party at bridge 3, which was now completed. Enemy artillery and M.G fire continued incessantly until 3am.

At 05:30 on the 15th Oct, again the Battalion advanced across the river, preceded by an artillery barrage. However, by 06:15, the two forward companies had reached their objectives without meeting any retaliation or opposition. It soon became clear that the town and ground in front had been evacuated. Two patrols moved methodically through the town but no sign of the enemy was discovered. A line was established to the south of the town along the line of the railway and along the Comines-Wervicq Sud road.

 

Regards,

Mark

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