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moggs

Disaster at Allonville 31st May 1918

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Crunchy

Sorry Moggs,

Just seen your request. I have been O/S for the past two months.

Wartime doesn't cite sources but I will let him know.

Regards

Chris

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moggs

No worries, Chris. Thanks for the update and hope you had a good time.

Jonathan

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Crunchy

Jonathan,

I have PM'd you Aaron's email address. He is happy to discuss any questions you may have.

Regards

Chris

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moggs

Thanks to Crunchy and Aaron (marvellous connection) I have made a little progress but am seeking help again please.

It seems the 199th Division held the Morlancourt sector until 16th May 1918. It was this division that took and interrogated the POWs who gave information about the whereabouts of the 3rd Diivision AIF HQ at Allonville. From this information a decision for an Artillery attack on Allonville was made.

I have found out that the 107th Division took over from the 199th after the 16th May but were apparently rested at Cambrai on the 23/24th May before returning in July. I have no information as to which division took over the Morlancourt sector during that rest period, if indeed any did. If anyone has access to any of these sources of information I would be grateful.

Within the 107th Division the 157 Artillery Command were the overriding responsibilty for their artillery functions at that time. It was the 213 F.A. Regiment which was set up in the sector. Of course I am assuming they were still there at the time of the attack on Allonville, but if they were being rested????

Jonathan

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WhiteStarLine

The information I seek is, which German Unit(s) were near Amiens on the night of 31st May 1918?

Jonathan

Jonathan, I thought of this post while we drove through Allonville 2 months ago.

The 11th Brigade of the AIF Third Division was in Villers-Bretonneux that night. They captured a sergeant major of the 137 IR 108 Division. Two days later they found dead Germans from the 97 IR 108 Division. Three days earlier, 2 prisoners from 265 RIR 108 Divison wandered into the lines claiming to be lost. They were so free with German dispositions known to be false that the intelligence officer wrote that the German command has peculiar and sometimes original ways of spreading false news and doing propaganda work and we suspect this may be one of them.

Brigade hostile shell reports for this month had all artillery fire originating from Lamotte-Warfusee or Marcelcave (18.5 k from Allonville). While most of this was 77, 105 or 150 mm, they also reported that: During the period H.V. [high velocity] shells could be occasionally heard going overhead to back areas from direction of GUILLACOURT. This is interesting because the 19 kilometre path of the shell from Guillacourt to Allonville passes (almost) directly over brigade HQ. The period referred to ended 2 June. The report from 31 May to 1 June does not mention HVs, but bear in mind that from midnight the brigade was under a destructive barrage of 300 rounds, followed by a barrage, followed by an area shoot, followed by 1,000 rounds of mustard and phosgene between midnight and 2 am. Things quietened down after 2am and only 2,500 rounds of all calibre gas shells were recorded. To digress a little, we walked in the private wood where one of the 11th Brigade battalions was and could clearly spot the shell holes and trench lines and I reflected on the 620 gas casualties in that area just a few days earlier.

Enemy aircraft were frequently heard at night bombing rear areas during this period and on May 27 around mid-day a battalion reported 23 HV shells went over to the back areas.

So while I am not making a case that it had to have originated from the Marcelcave area (as substantial German artillery was also deployed at Morlancourt) I am showing that an active hostile enemy artillery and aircraft capability existed in the region.

Later that month, the 11th Brigade moved to Allonville, where 2 battalions were in the wood at Sheet 62d G6a and a battalion was in Cardonette with another at Frechencourt. HQ was in Allonville Chateau.

See page 41 and other pages of the 11th Brigade unit war diary for June 1918.

post-66620-0-23435100-1353740517_thumb.j

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moggs

Thank you for the information and thoughts on the matter. Allonville is a pretty village.

In another thread, I'm following an artillery line based on the I/b. Fußa 6 who were with the 107th division at Morlancourt. Your information is just as possible too.

On a side issue, I've studied the maps around Allonville very closely but have never come up with an exact location for the chateau. It doesn't seem to exist now - my understanding is that it was in ruins even before the war and it was demolished a little after. Knowing its location might give me a better locale for the barns which were hit. At the moment I can only guess.

In the meantime, it's wonderful that members are keeping up and thinking about others. It's very much appreciated.

Jonathan

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Guest

Hi Jonathan. From Click

" Two companies of the 14th Bn. were quartered in two immense

barns, adjoining that used as a picture theatre for the 4th Divisional “Smart Set”

of pierrots."

I just wonder if there might be any clues searching for 4th Divl pierrots?

The Coo-ees

Not sure if that helps any?

Mike

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moggs

Mike,

There are a couple of photos on the AWM site which show the Smart Set in the ruins of the barns. They were staying there too. I have not come across anything else on them at the time of the event. I like your link to the Cooee.

Thank you for your input.

Jonathan

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Guest

No problem. It might also be worth asking if any pals live near the area. There's bound to be some records of some sort. I know when visiting Fromelles,we were given a guided tour of a personal collection that would amaze you. There's plenty stuff secreted away, and a local might well know where the Chateau/Barns were?

No idea if this is any help, but our French pals should be able to help.

Cliquez sur

and bonne chance

Michel

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Guest Berties Great Nephew

I am the Great Grand Nephew of Bertie George Englert, Company C, 14th Battalion who was killed by the 2nd shell in this incident. Bertie was a member of the 14th Battalion Band and was in fact the Bugler. The Red Cross records I have show he was killed outright along with his best mate William Wootton (Wooton) who had just transferred to be with Bertie. I always though Bertie was killed sleeping but from what I read here it is possible that he was away from the barn playing with the band when the first shell hit. Therefore it is possible he ran to assist others (Wootton may have been in the barn or ran with Bertie to help) and was killed by the second shell. I have photos of Bertie as well as 1 of the 14th Battalion Band on the HMAT Ballarat heading from Australia in 1917 as well as the band in formation somewhere in France. My email is greg@gemusic.com.au (yes I am a professional trumpet player and bugler!)/

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moggs

Welcome to the forum, Greg. (I hope that is correct) Thank you for your contribution. I will contact you about your great Uncle. There is still a lot of fascination in the tragedy at Allonville and I hope we can make more certain the facts.

All the best

Jonathan

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moggs

The Red Cross records I have show he was killed outright along with his best mate William Wootton (Wooton) who had just transferred to be with Bertie. I always though Bertie was killed sleeping but from what I read here it is possible that he was away from the barn playing with the band when the first shell hit. Therefore it is possible he ran to assist others (Wootton may have been in the barn or ran with Bertie to help) and was killed by the second shell.

Hi,

I have just sent an email to you and then read your post again. I want to clarify something for you. The second shell hit a different barn to the first. It is very likely he had been asleep when the shells started and didn't get out in time before the second actually hit. Most did get out which is why the casualties were far fewer.

Jonathan

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eastleach

I realise this forum is a few years old now, but in case anyone is checking this forum, I have a photo of Pvt. Bertie George Englert of the 14th battalion, and a photo of him and the band on parade in 1918. If you would like the photos I am happy to post them here or elsewhere. Bertie was my grandmother's brother.

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gwandalan

My Grandfather Eric Herman and his brother Joseph were in the 4th Division HQ Contingent, were present 31 May 1918 and photographed outside the Chateau that day. Coincidentally, their older brother Albert Herman 4th Field Ambulance was also at Allonville at the same time. Bertie Englert's family have put together a brilliant website section devoted to locating the site of the barns. We visited Allonville in May 2015 and met local historians who took us to the site of the Chateau and exchanged with us the stories of the Australians there. We talked of the Barn's being struck and also of the 4th Division Race Meeting. 

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moggs

How cool was that!  Welcome to the forum, Gwandalan.  Do you have a link for the Englert website?  I would love to see what's there.

 

Thanks for posting

 

Jonathan

 

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moggs

I went looking and found the site.  It's a fine tribute to Bertie Englert and contains a video link which, while dealing with the men from Lake Condah, also gives some detail about the Allonville disaster.  The information presented is not entirely accurate but such issues don't take away from the sentiment of the moments shown.

 

Here is the link if any care to take the time and look

 

https://georgeantonenglert.wordpress.com/bertie/

 

 

Jonathan

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gwandalan

Thanks Jonathon,

The Chateau was destroyed during WW2, it was right near the stables, the ruins are still there. I'm still trying to work out where the barns were. I did ask the locals when there but got a vague answer that suggested south of the church, but I'm not convinced that they weren't right near the stables which have been turned into apartments.

Cheers,

           Matt

Edited by gwandalan

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moggs

'South' of the Church?

 

My recollections of the village suggest that the Church is at the northern end, so south would be in the village itself.  I'm just as likely mistaken, it's been a few years since I've been there but I always thought the chateau and barns were north of the village.

 

Jonathan

 

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gwandalan

Hi Jonathon,

 

Thanks, I don't really yet have my bearings correct in relation to the whole layout of the Village. What I mean is that if you stand on the road that runs between the church and the Chateau estate, Rue de la Terriere, Stand at the side of the church facing it, the indication from the locals was that the barns were in that direction which I think is south, but there was no indication from them how far. However, I still remain unconvinced.

 

Cheers,

 

Matt

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moggs

Rue de la Terriere definitely goes East out of Allonville.  Go past the cemetery and I'm sure the barns were to the North of that road.  I've seen a photo from the air somewhere which shows where some think they were in that area.

 

Yet, without proof, it's hard to say for sure.

 

All the best

 

Jonathan

 

 

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gwandalan

Is there any chance that these structures that you mention could be the hangers at the airfield?

 

BTW, noticed that your into Aussie Rules, the Great Uncle from 4th Field Ambulance played, he was known as Alby Herman, he played a game for St Kilda in 1905, yes.... just one! As mentioned before, he was at Allonville too on the fateful night.

 

Cheers,

 

Matt

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moggs

Not sue about the hangars.  The pic I saw wasn't of structures but was a Google earth pic with the field superimposed by rectangles showing where they thought the barns had been.

 

 

And one game is more than most people can claim at that level.  The Saints are on the verge of doing very well again.  I hope they can but not before my team of course.  We are really due for some success.  Fingers crossed along with everything else!

 

All the best

 

Jonathan

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mva

Hello from the Somme,

I live not very far from Allonville (actually, I'll drive past A. to-day !) and if I can help, I'll be happy to do so (eg photos) ; and I am researching about that period (not in Allonville, but in the East of the département (Montdidier Roye) which is why I'll spend many days in the Archives Départementales  in the coming months, so I can see if I find something ...

Edited by mva

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moggs

Cool. Anything to help find the location of the barns would be wonderful. Thank you for the offer. 

 

Jonathan

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mva

This is a map before WW1 : can somebody tell where those barns were / could have been ?

kind regards from the Somme, martine

https://www.geoportail.gouv.fr/carte/?c=2.364957332611084,49.94247946490245&z=15&l0=GEOGRAPHICALGRIDSYSTEMS.ETATMAJOR40::GEOPORTAIL:OGC:WMTS(1)&permalink=yes

Edited by mva

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