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Accidents will happen


myos
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From the Service Record of Pte Percival Edgar Norris 12059

'B' Coy 5th Northamptonshire Regiment Pioneers

On the night of the 4th of August 1917 I was in charge of a working party in DALE TRENCH when No 12059 Pte Norris P was accidentally struck with a pick in the hand by No 10130 Pte Ping S. It was a very dark night and Pte Norris was in no way to blame.

?????L/Sgt 29/8/17

Sir

Statement of the injuries received by 12059 Pte Norris P. On the nightof 4th August I was working in Communication T (Dale Trench) Deeping (sic) the trench. I was the next man behind Pte norris and has(sic) he was shovelling earth out of the trench I was using the pick and I accidentally caught his hand with my pick. It was a very dark night.

On Service 29/8/17 10130 S Ping Pte

Just for the record, can anyone shed light on the whereabouts of DALE TRENCH?

Andy

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Guest KevinEndon

I wonder if this is a case of a friend giving a friend a blighty, a case of when I nod my head you hit it. Of course we will never know if it was an accident or something else

Kevin

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Hello Andy

As inflicting a wound on oneself could be a court-martial offence it was normal in the case of such accidents for there to be a court of enquiry within the unit to establish the facts and thus, usually, to clear the victim of any blame. Se;lf-inflicted wounds, if deliberate, could also lead to stoppage of the man's pay while he was in hospital or otherwise not fit for duty. The Army seem to have been pretty good at giving men the benefit of the doubt in such cases.

Ron

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Having seen details some of the nasty injuries on construction sites inflicted accidentally in broad daylight (I once had to oversee the computerisation of an accident reporting system) I would think that this case would be one of many. Incidentally I understand that some hospitals specialised in treating SIWs and conditions in them were extremely spartan. Patients were not encouraged to linger.

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Hi Andy

These sort of accidents were common, dark nights, many thousands of men with picks hard at work up and down the line, I have simular record of such an accident but the wound was to the head.

Anyway that does not help you find Dale Trench, could narrow down where to look, what area were they stationed at the time.

Annette

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Guest KevinEndon

What has just came to mind is why would they be using a pick at night, if they were no where near the front line they would have dug during the day, if they were at or near the front the noise from the pick would alert all the Germans for miles around, so why take a pick

Kevin

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Anyway that does not help you find Dale Trench, could narrow down where to look, what area were they stationed at the time.

Thanks Annette. Sadly I don't know where the 5th Northants Pioneers were on 4th August 1917. I was hoping that the location of Dale Trench would give me the answer.

Andy

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What has just came to mind is why would they be using a pick at night, if they were no where near the front line they would have dug during the day, if they were at or near the front the noise from the pick would alert all the Germans for miles around, so why take a pick

Kevin

If you were digging say a new trench or similar installation behind the front line some nosy German aircraft might still spot you and bring down a barrage on you so digging at night would be safer.

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Dale trench map 51b, SW2 ref. O2a c8a Vis-en-artois.

Many thanks Colin. I don't have a map on which I can trace your co-ordinates, however I see that Vis-en-Artois is on the D939, the main Arras to Cambrai road. I shall visit my local library to discover your more precise location.

Andy

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What has just came to mind is why would they be using a pick at night, if they were no where near the front line they would have dug during the day, if they were at or near the front the noise from the pick would alert all the Germans for miles around, so why take a pick

Kevin

Hearing the sound of digging or working behind the enemy lines would not give you a target for a barrage. Neither would it normally give a reason for one. The Great War was not conducted in absolute silence.

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In 1918 there was an apprehension that the Germans were mass producing tanks (possibly news of the project to built about 300 copies of the Mk IV had leaked - but not the news of its cancellation) and some significant anti tank ditches were dug behind British lines. These were dug in daylight (possibly it's difficult to achieve the required uniformity in the dark). The work of digging them was unpopular amongst the troops detailed for this task, not just because digging an anti tank ditch is hard work but because such work in daylight could attract artillery fire. It's not just the sound of digging but what you are digging that counts.

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Dale Trench was a shortish north-south trench approx. 1,000 yards east of Monchy-le-Preux, and due south of "twin copses".

The trench system seems to have followed the roads in the area. Assuming the "Y" road junction remains were it was before then this is the rough location of Dale Trench:

post-6536-1231787674.jpg

Extract from the 5th battalion war diary:

post-6536-1231809732.jpg

Do you have a copy of the battalion history - Kitchener's Pioneers, by the way?

I think the L/Sgt witnessing the accident is 15477 Lance-Sergeant John Abner Charles King.... (Killed in action as a Sergeant with 5th Bn., 24-11-1917 - Son of John and Annie King, of 104, Chapel St., Ibstock, Leicester. Born at Titchmarsh, Northants.).

Steve.

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Or in satellite format:

post-6536-1231810064.jpg

Steve.

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That's wonderful, Steve. Sadly I don't have a copy of Kitchener's Pioneers, is it possible to see a copy anywhere?

Incidentally the soldier in question, Percival Edgar Norris, came from very near to you...Farcet!

Andy

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Nearerer than you think - my family came from Farcet!

E-mail me via my Forum profile (my PM folder is usually full) and we'll see what happens with Kitchener's Pioneers. ;)

Steve.

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I'll try and reply to your e-mail tomorrow, Andy.

Did you pick up from his records that he had previously been in the Navy. He has an online service record here:

Name Norris, Percival Edgar

Official Number: J23686

Place of Birth: Holbeach, Lincolnshire

Date of birth: 24 September 1895

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documen...p;resultcount=2

Steve.

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They used the pick to loosen the earth and the shovel to shift it with. Dig like mad until you have enough of a hole to throw yourself in if the enemy open up on you, and then ease the pace until the Sergeant thinks its a 'better 'ole', or the trench was done.

Cheers,

Nigel

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Did you pick up from his records that he had previously been in the Navy.

Thanks for that, Steve.

Yes I had noticed that when he signed on there was a mention of him serving 3 months with the Royal Navy before being bought out.

Just had a look. In fact he was invalided out with loose cartilage in his right knee!

Andy

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