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Capt D I Murray-Menzies MC Black Watch/Tank Corps


Black Jock
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I hope one of our Tank Corps experts can help me.

Captain Duncan Innes Murray-Menzies MC 1st Black Watch was attached to the Tank Corps on the 4/07/1917 and was KIA 22/08/1917. I have his medal card and the actions he was engaged in prior to his detachment. I would like to know the action he was taking part in prior to his death, or any diary entries for his time with the Tank Corps

Yours in anticipation

Tom

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From "C" Battalion, TANK CORPS. 3rd Battle of YPRES. Narrative of Operations on 21/22nd August 1917. [TNA WO 95/106]

No. 8 Company (less ½ Section) - Commander, Major E.J. CARTER - was detailed to assist the infantry in an offensive operation on 22nd August 1917.

...

The state of the ground was in an even worse condition than during the opening of the offensive of JULY 31st.

It was hoped however, that, - with the exception of opposition to be expected from hostile artillery - no great difficulty would be experienced in moving the Southern Section into action along the YPRES-ZONNEBEKE Road.

In the event, this method of approach was found to be quite impracticable: the road in the vicinity of FREZENBERG having been entirely blown to pieces and obliterated by our own and enemy heavy artillery.

The greatest difficulty was anticipated in getting the Northern Detachment (1½ Sections) across the STEENBEKE. After careful reconnaissance only one crossing place appeared to be in any way feasible, - 200 yards of APPLE VILLA.

The above anticipation was fully justified, and it was only by the most superhuman efforts of the Section Commander, Lt. MURRAY-MENZIES, the assistance of the 184th Tunnelling Company and the help rendered by specially prepared "Pioneer Tank", under 2/Lt. E.J. ROLLINGS, that these tanks were eventually moved across the River.

Starting Points were selected for the Northern Detachment between the STEENBEKE and POMMERN CASTLE, and for the Southern Section near BAVARIA HOUSE.

At both these points the enemy put down a heavy barrage and there is no doubt that he fully expected our attack.

...

Unfortunately the copy of this source I have to hand ends there. But I think we can guess the rest. If I get any opportunity, I will try to find the paper copy or perhaps some Chum has it and can complete the tale.

Hope this helps. Sorry I didn't see it before.

Bryn

I'm on a bit of a roll with coming up with relevant and timely responses to people's enquiries of late. Make the most of it, it won't last!

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Bryn,

Thanks for that, that gives me a good idea where the action was, if you are interested the artist of the portrait is John St Helier Lander.

I am looking forward to your visit to Dundee in November.

Tom

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But what exactly was a "Pioneer Tank"? And how did it render help?

Gwyn

"... a Pioneer Tank, which carried supplies of fascines and sleepers."

from 3RD TANK BRIGADE TANK CORPS. REPORT ON OPERATIONS WITH XIX CORPS - 22nd August 1917 and in the 'Tactical Deductions' section of this report:

"4. It is suggested that when Tanks have to cross difficult country, one pioneer Tank should be told off to each Section.

A Pioneer Tank is an ordinary Tank loaded with fascines and baulks of timber for making passages over swampy ground.

This was tried by No. 8 Company and proved a great success."

Bryn

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