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Remembered Today:

German Trench Map (Arras), Need Help Interpreting


JesseM88

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Hello all,

I need some help interpreting this map of German trenches in the Arras area (prior to the 1917 battle). Specifically, I circled two items and would appreciate someone letting me know what they are supposed to represent.

Let me know if it's hard to make out what I tried to highlight.

Cheers,

JM

post-87616-0-39791500-1386604138_thumb.j

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JM

One of my research interests is Pt. Donald Sloan of the 8th Black Watch who was killed in this area on New Years Day 1917 when a shell or mortar went into his dugout. Donald Sloan was a goalkeeper who played for Distillery in Northern Ireland and briefly for both Everton and Liverpool. I've looked at this map in connection with his death previously and I believe the heavy line you have highlighted was a boundary between Group Vimy and Group Arras within the German 6th Army under Falkenhausen. As I understand it the groups roughly corresponded to a corps. I assume that the small salient was there to take advantage of the cover provided by the houses along the road and provide enfilade fire down to the river Scarpe. I'm not sure about BTK and my German is non-existent so I can't even speculate. Hope this helps,

Pete.

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Hey Pete, that's an interesting anecdote about Pt. Sloan, my great-grandfather was in the same battalion.

The highlighted image on the left, along the road is supposed to be just one of the blue shapes in a long line of them. I thought maybe they represent small redoubts which would be consistent with your idea of them providing enfilade fire. The area between them and the river was marshy ground that wasn't really used for much, and I believe when the Seaforth Highlanders attacked there in April they maneuvered around it, but I could be wrong.

The highlighted image to the right is a small circle with what looks like a flag sticking out the top. Maybe it represents a command post? I've been to that area numerous times and there are still the remains of concrete emplacements left over from when it was fortified by the Germans. The 'R.G.St.' area is where my great-grandfather was mortally wounded.

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It's regiment gefechts station.......regimental battle station. Peter

PS also on the map is KTK.....Kampf Truppen Kommandeur.....Commander of front line troops

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Hey Pete, that's an interesting anecdote about Pt. Sloan, my great-grandfather was in the same battalion.

The highlighted image on the left, along the road is supposed to be just one of the blue shapes in a long line of them. I thought maybe they represent small redoubts which would be consistent with your idea of them providing enfilade fire. The area between them and the river was marshy ground that wasn't really used for much, and I believe when the Seaforth Highlanders attacked there in April they maneuvered around it, but I could be wrong.

The highlighted image to the right is a small circle with what looks like a flag sticking out the top. Maybe it represents a command post? I've been to that area numerous times and there are still the remains of concrete emplacements left over from when it was fortified by the Germans. The 'R.G.St.' area is where my great-grandfather was mortally wounded.

I'm looking at the equivalent British trench map from 4th March 1917 (51B NW3 Edn. 7A) in Peter Chasseaud's "Topography of Armageddon" which shows a lot more detail and does not include any German unit boundaries. There does not appear to be anything other than a minor trench line with fire bays running along the south side of the road with a wired area running perpendicular to it down to the river. This only covers maybe half the distance marked with the thick line on the map and a double trench line running through the village called Nidd View is on the north side of the road. Interestingly the hashed line shown on the German map north of the village does not conform to a trench feature on the British map either. I'm reasonably sure that the thick line on the German map is a corps boundary and doesn't represent features on the ground. The little salient at the western end of St Laurent-Blangy is prominently marked and as you say the area down to the river is show with what look like ponds and old river channels. Maybe someone with on line access to the trench map can post a copy (I'm saving my pocket money for one of the packages). Otherwise I will try to scan the paper one I have been looking at. I'm attaching a map showing the corps boundaries.

It's interesting that your great grandfather was in the same battalion as Donald Sloan; maybe we could compare notes. I have two other Everton players who were killed while serving with the Black Watch, one with the 2nd Battalion in Mesopotamia and another in WW2.

Pete.

post-101238-0-52645500-1386619475_thumb.

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I'm reasonably sure that the thick line on the German map is a corps boundary and doesn't represent features on the ground.

That's correct.

The map in post #1 is actually from a 1:25,000 scale post-war map from the Arras volumes of the Schlachten des Weltkrieges histories (that particular map being from Band 28 - 'Osterschlacht bei Arras 1917', Teil I) and is only based on wartime maps and, therefore depicts boundaries, units etc that wouldn't normally appear.

Dave.

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... depicts boundaries, units etc that wouldn't normally appear....

That said, the boundary actually does appear on this 1:10,000 scale German trench map dating from the beginning of April 1917! (typical that I find something that goes against what I just said almost immediately! :ph34r: ). However, this also shows that there is nothing particularly unusual in that specific area.

Dave

post-357-0-56357700-1386621384_thumb.jpg

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That said, the boundary actually does appear on this 1:10,000 scale German trench map dating from the beginning of April 1917! (typical that I find something that goes against what I just said almost immediately! :ph34r: ). This also show that there is nothing unusual in that particular area.

Dave

Dave, thanks for the confirmation. Much appreciated. It's a really interesting little sector which I sadly didn't have time to explore when I was in Arras in September. I think I may have a wander around on Google Earth later.

Pete.

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I know its a German map Dave but is that not the British Corps boundary being in red and stopping at the German trench line. They will have been fully aware of the different enemy units at that point. The German line jutted out along the road to cover the marsh area around the Scarpe, still a difficult area to build on - Le Marais de Boves.

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Dave, thanks for the confirmation. Much appreciated. It's a really interesting little sector which I sadly didn't have time to explore when I was in Arras in September. I think I may have a wander around on Google Earth later.

Pete.

I've been to the area numerous times and it is mostly unrecognizable as a former battlefield, sub-urbanization dominates it. However, the area around what was the Blue Line, along the Arras-Lens railway is fantastic. I have pictures from the remains of what I now know was the 'regiment gefechts station' (evidently a very well-build concrete structure). It's a rather dangerous venture because of the high-speed trains, so I always take every precaution while down there.

I would post some pictures but I'm just having some issues resizing them so they don't take up a ton of space.

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This is the British Maroieul Map dated 28/3/1918.

There are no obvious features around your points.

Bob

post-11115-0-70933800-1386623991_thumb.j

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I know its a German map Dave but is that not the British Corps boundary being in red and stopping at the German trench line. ..

It might be, but is just a coincidence if it is (the line doesn't actually stop at the German trench line on the full map, but continues some distance to the rear)...though wasn't the 26th Bde/45th Bde (9th Div/15th Div or XVII/VI Corps.... all the same boundary I believe) boundary actually slightly further south by a matter of about 100 feet or so and on the other side of the river?

It's actually the boundary between 1.B.R.K. and IX.R.K. (it also happens to be the boundary between 14.B.J.D. and 11.J.D.))

Dave

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R.G.St is actually short for Regimentsgefechtsstand - Regimental Command Post.

Jack

This makes sense, the 9th Divisional diary mentions that the 8th Black Watch captured the "The Regimental Commander of 8th Bavarian Regiment with his Adjutant..." .

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Quite correct: Major Felser and Oberleutnant Mayer, together with the signals officer Res Lt Friedensburg and a few other unwounded personnel.

Jack

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If any of you have a copy of Peter Barton and Jeremy Banning's fantastic book with the panoramic pictures of Arras and Vimy Ridge, go to page 274. There's a hand-drawn map by the Royal Engineers (dated 22-4-17) featuring plans to improve the infrastructure in the exact area we've been talking about in this thread. The details on German trenches are a bit lacking, but it still has some neat info about what the ground was like and what they planned to do with it to facilitate troop movements. I would scan it and share but I'm assuming there are copyright laws I may be violating.

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