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Remembered Today:

troop movements getting to the front


Brent Tandy
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Hi There,

I'm curious about the movements that troops might have taken when going from a reserve camp to the front. My grandfather trained at Ewshot before going to Etaples for further training before joining the 1st Brigade 3rd Battery NZFA and fighting around the Menin Road area near Iper. I wonder what route he might have taken to get to the front from Etaples and how long that might have taken? It would have been around December 1917.

In his old photo album there are several photos from Hazebrouck showing wagon lines and a few photos at Armentiers near horse lines. Also a couple of shots of desecrated graved and bombed buildings. I can only assume that these photos were taken on the way to the front because he was later wounded and was in hospital(s) for a year or so (leg amp) until Sept 1919. He did go back to France for a trip up the Pyrenees, Paris and Versailles, before sailing home on the troopship Arawa. I wouldn't imagine that the photos of Hazebrouck and Armentiers would have been taken on this 1919 trip because the war had well any truly ended so presumably there would be no chance to photograph wagon and horse lines?

I think I have read somewhere that troops were billeted at Hazebrouck?

I'd love to know more about how troops got from camps to the front, specifically Etaples to around Iper. If anyone could help me with this I'd greatly appreciate it.

Cheers, Brent

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  • 2 weeks later...

I can't make a detailed reply. Hazebrouck was an important railway centre and I expect he would have got there by train i.e. French railways. I have read that their trains were very slow and the move might take more than a day. Interesting that he seems to have done a lot of travelling before leaving Europe. Your phrase 'he did go back to to France' suggests he was treated for his wounds in England and I would have thought he would have returned to New Zealand from there.

Old Tom

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He would probably have travelled on a British train run by the Railway Operating Department (ROD) part of the RE.Large numbers of British locos and rolling stock were shipped to France. ROD also ran most of the French railways in Northern France.. Getting anywhere often required several changes of train with the possibility of missing one's connections and so could take more than a day with stopovers in various towns (the town major had to provide accommodation). Old sweats returning from leave or a course could work the system and enjoy a French tour (but seem to have been pretty efficient on their outward journey).

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Hi Brent

I have the route taken in May 1916 to Armentieres, if that is of interest?

Roger

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You probably need to distinguish between a battalion moving up to the front and individuals joining a unit already at the front. In the former case a train or trains would be allocated and routed through the system; in the latter it could be quite chaotic as I have indicated.

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Hi Brent

I have the route taken in May 1916 to Armentieres, if that is of interest?

Roger

That wouldbe really interesting! Thanks Brent

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Your phrase 'he did go back to to France' suggests he was treated for his wounds in England and I would have thought he would have returned to New Zealand from there.

Old Tom

He did the trip back to France a month or so before he left for NZ from Torquay. He spent a year at Oatlands Park rehabbing from the leg amp. Did a fews trips during that time but only in England and Scotland. So based on the time line he would have only had the change to get those photos of Hazebrouck and Amentieres on the way to the front.

Brent

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You probably need to distinguish between a battalion moving up to the front and individuals joining a unit already at the front. In the former case a train or trains would be allocated and routed through the system; in the latter it could be quite chaotic as I have indicated.

He would have been travelling as a group rarther than as an individual because it was his first trip to the front. He would have done the trip again because he left the front for treatement for measels and anaemia not long after his fighting period began.

Brent

He would probably have travelled on a British train run by the Railway Operating Department (ROD) part of the RE.Large numbers of British locos and rolling stock were shipped to France. ROD also ran most of the French railways in Northern France.. Getting anywhere often required several changes of train with the possibility of missing one's connections and so could take more than a day with stopovers in various towns (the town major had to provide accommodation). Old sweats returning from leave or a course could work the system and enjoy a French tour (but seem to have been pretty efficient on their outward journey).

Thanks for this info! Brent

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  • 1 year later...

Hi Roger,

I wonder if you can share with me the info on troop movements to Armentieres in May 1916? This would perfectly complement a small project I'm working on about the ROD.

Cheers,

Nick.

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Hi Brent can you post copies of some of these photos at all would be interesting to see what he saw.

Regards

Mike

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