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16th Lancers/4th Hussars Cavans Dugout


certacito79
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Hi All,

I am trying to track down Cavans Dugout and Cavans House. The 16th Lancers moved into this position before relieving the 4th Hussars on the 19th Feb 1915.

I believe it to be on or around the Menin Road.

A good Reference I have found so far is Frederick Coleman's "With Cavalry" 1919. The following are extracts which help locate the rough area I think?

"My guide was Captain Bretherton, the Staff Captain 1st Cav Bde. Leaving my car at the halte point where the railway crosses the Menin Road, and the Zillebeke Road branches off to the South, we followed no particular pathway avoiding where possible fields where enemy shells were falling.The rotting mangle-wurzels dotted the ground, all around us shell holes in their thousands........

Cavans House was but a wall, a pile of shapeless bricks and mortar beside it. Cavans Dugout, a series of holes in the road bank, roofed with sandbags, held a signal party. Everyday a storm of shells visited the spot, and Hun snipers made one wary thereabouts. We walked on up the roadway, our objective Sanctuary Wood........

Cavans House our landmark, we left well on our right, edging from it more as we saw it a very storm of fours and eights of shrapnel that morning......"

The extract from a 1917 Trench (Only one I had at hand) shows where I think the location is.

I am working on the exact location that the 16th lancers relieved the 4th Hussars (This is very close to Mount Sorrell) The trench was mined on the 21st, three in total. the Trench map from May 1915 shows the Germans having occupied the British trench.

Any ideas Guys or words of wisdom it will be appreciated. I look forward to hearing your ideas

John

post-41464-1233866395.jpg

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John

probably no help as it's the wrong area but Chasseaud's 'Rats Alley' lists a Cavan Trench on sheet 28NW2 St Julien

Jon

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Def think I have the spelling correct, another reference below. I think their forward position was next to Mount Sorrel, therefore as the diary says they passed Cavans Dugout on the return to Ypres therfore I think it is along the Menin Road.

Also I wonder if it was named after Earl of Cavan when the Guards Bde were in this area late 1914 which may place it closer to "Hellfire Corner" side of teh Menin Road when the Germans pushed through Gheluvelt?

Cheers Guys John

post-41464-1234173154.jpg

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  • 12 years later...

I came across this post last week. I have just been looking in the Cavalry Corps war diary and Cavan’s Dugout was just south of Maple Copse

 

David 

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13 hours ago, David_Blanchard said:

 

13 hours ago, David_Blanchard said:

and Cavan’s Dugout was just south of Maple Copse

Would I be correct to think that 'Cavans' Dugout belonged to Lord Cavan or Earl Cavan of the Guards brigade/division? I have been reading various articles but can't work out who Cavan commanded or his correct title. Any help here appreciated, thanks, Bob.

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Reading this from  THE GRENADIER GUARDS IN THE GREAT WAR OF 1914-1918 things become a bit clearer to me now. Link to this is, scetch maps included; https://www.gutenberg.org/files/60677/60677-h/60677-h.htm#fig3

6th Nov 1914; Two companies of the Sussex Regiment were now sent up to support the right of the line, and helped to hold things together, but the situation was most critical. The enemy had driven back De Moussy's French infantry, and consequently there was a bad dent in the line. Lord Cavan's troops were still holding on with their right in the air when the Household Cavalry was called in to retrieve the situation. Lord Cavan sent off Captain R. C. de Crespigny, his Staff Captain, at full gallop to Sanctuary Wood with orders to the Household Cavalry to come up at once. Colonel Wilson immediately ordered his men to mount, and galloped round by Maple Copse to within 500 168yards of Brigade Headquarters, where they dismounted and fixed bayonets. Into the midst of the Germans they dashed, headed by Colonel Gordon Wilson.

Throwing in the cavalry at the critical moment to save the situation has from time immemorial been a recognised tactical manoeuvre, but in this case the Household Cavalry fought as infantry, and very splendid infantry they made. They swept forward to the attack with all the precision of an infantry battalion, and soon Klein Zillebeke was filled with British, French, and German troops fighting at close quarters. When it came to hand-to-hand fighting, the Germans could not stand up against the splendid men of the Household Cavalry, and they were gradually driven back till the line was restored. This gallant charge of the Household Cavalry on foot, Lord Cavan afterwards said, not only prevented the 4th Guards Brigade from being cut to pieces, but also saved Ypres. Colonel Gordon Wilson and Colonel Hugh Dawnay were killed, and the Household Cavalry lost a large number of men, but the situation was retrieved.

While this was going on, No. 1 Company Grenadiers, which was on the right, had been practically wiped out. Since the withdrawal of the Irish Guards, almost every man had been killed or wounded by shell-fire. Sergeant Thomas, who commanded the right platoon of No. 1, remained at his post after the Irish Guards had gone, until he had only three men left, when he withdrew to Brown Road. During that time he was twice buried by shells, and had three rifles broken in his 169hand. Sergeant Digby was mortally wounded, and was never seen again.

Lord Cavan telephoned: "Hang on tight to Brown Road. Try and get touch with half battalion Sussex Regiment sent to farm at Irish Guards H.Q." Lieut.-Colonel Smith passed this on to Captain Powell, adding: "Are you in touch with the Sussex?" to which Captain Powell replied: "Yes, I am in touch with Sussex, who prolong my line to the right, bent back to right rear."

In the meantime, Lieutenant Lord Congleton, finding how weak the right of the line was, had moved his platoon to the right of the Sussex. He had lost a number of men, but at the same time had managed to collect several Irish Guardsmen. They had no rifles or ammunition, but he placed them at intervals among the men of his platoon, and went and collected rifles for them himself from the casualties. Then he went round a second time with an orderly and collected ammunition. By this means he was able to hold the gap all through that night, and next day was specially mentioned by Lieut.-Colonel Smith, who wrote that the intelligent way in which he handled his platoon on his own initiative was beyond all praise.

Much help towards keeping the right of the line intact was also given by Colonel Davies, commanding the Oxfordshire Light Infantry, who throughout the afternoon kept sending up any men he happened to have in reserve.

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Interesting that the wood to the north of Cavan’s dugouts was known as Maple Copse in November 1914- I thought this name came later in 1915.

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4 hours ago, David_Blanchard said:

Interesting that the wood to the north of Cavan’s dugouts was known as Maple Copse in November 1914- I thought this name came later in 1915.

Yes David, I had thought that too but it seems not. If I find anything that relates to that I will let you know.

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From the 4th Guards Brigade WD Nov 1914, part of a map showing the location of Lord Cavans' dugout;  image.png.bd46e3a258ee818d0575957f3beb23a2.png

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