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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

179th Brigade, RFA.


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I posted this question some time ago, but thought it worth another try in case any of the artillery experts missed it or one of the newer forum members might be able to help. During the Cambrai operations on November 30th 1917, the 179th Brigade Battery positions were overun in the German counter attack. Only one, the 463rd, was able to withdraw with its guns, all the others having to be abandoned. Sotonmate, kindly tried to look up the war diaries for December through to May 1918 for me while at Kew, only to find they are missing. Thanks to another member I know that the Brigade was attached to four different Divisions in December, then from mid January to mid February 1918 were resting and re-fitting.

I am curious as to where they were and what they were doing in December, as presumably they would not receive new guns for some time and had taken heavy casualties too. I`m still trying to piece together my Gt Uncle`s service record, he was a gunner with the 383rd Battery and was with the 179th when they arrived in France to sometime I believe, in early 1918. He joined the 180th Brigade in late March-early April 1918 and was killed on 1st May. From his letters, he was sorry to have left the 179th. Just wondered why he would have been transferred as I would have thought having taken a beating, the 179th would need to hang on to experienced men. I would really appreciate any help with this.

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From the War Diary of 223rd Brigade RFA (63rd R.N. Division) it would appear they were somewhere in the Beaucamp(s) area (midway between Trescault and Villers-Plouich). Various brigades had formed up as Artillery Groups. 223rd Brigade RFA (who relieved 173rd Brigade RFA) became part of what was called Centre Main Artillery Group, which also contained 179th and 232nd Army Field Artillery Brigades. This group covered the 189th Infantry Brigade from December 26, 1917 into January 1918. Unfortunately, there were what are described as "several changes in the dispositions of the Artillery Groups". On January 4, 1918, three batteries in 317th Brigade, three batteries in 223rd Brigade plus 463rd Battery came under "D" Sub Group of Left Main Artillery Group. On January 8, 1918, the batteries of 317th Brigade passed to the command another group and the remaining batteries became "C" Sub Group of Left Main Artillery Group. On January 11, 1918, the personnel of 463rd Battery were relieved by B/223rd Battery (the only battery to move position) and they exchanged guns.

This is a complex situation where static batteries appear to have been shifted around different permutations of artillery groupings. I can send you the relevant War Diary pages if you wish.to help make more sense of it. You may need to consult the War Diaries of the other units mentioned plus possibly 298th Brigade RFA, as D/298th Battery was at one time attached to 179th Army Field Artillery Brigade in the Centre Main Artillery Group.

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