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Remembered Today:

Metz-en-Couture 11 KRRC 4th april 1917


jainvince
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One of our local soldiers was killed in the attack during which the 11 KRRC captured Metz-en-Couture.

Checking on my trench maps, the nearest trenches were around Ytres. I am helping a local school with information on WW1 but haven't got more details on this event including from where the attack took place etc. Can any pal provide a bit more information on this for me, please?

Bernard

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Bernard - I haven't looked at the 11/KRRC attack but did so for the neighbouring battalion (11/Rifle Brigade) who attacked on their left and reached the corner of Havrincourt Wood. The 11/KRRC are attacking Mezt from the south west. You are welcome to whatever I have but your best bet is probably the war diary. Do email me via my website or PM me if you'd like what info I have.

JB

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I don't yet have the 10/KRRC nor 11/KRRC war diaries for this period, so you'll have to make do with scans of the Battalion War Record for these two battalions from the 1917 KRRC Chronicle, which I'll do later today.

Here however is the relevant section from the 12/KRRC war diary. 12/KRRC were in the firing line to the left of the two attacking battalions. Their war diary gives useful information about the attack.

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More to follow when I've had time to do some scanning.

Edit: 59th Brigade was made up of 10/KRRC, 11/KRRC, 10/RB and 11/RB, so Jeremy's data is most relevant!

Mark

Edited by MBrockway
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REPORT ON OPERATIONS OF 4TH. REF MAP: FRANCE SHEET 57 C, S E

On the evening of the 3rd April 1917 at about 8:15pm the Bn were relieved in VALLULART WOOD by 12th King's Liverpools and proceeded to FINS to wait there until the time came to attack METZ. The night was spent in fetching water and rations sufficient to carry us through till after the attack was over. At 1pm on 4th the Bn left FINS by Coys to take up their positions at the assembly posts P 35 D 82 to V 6 A 72. Dispositions: A Coy on the RIGHT, C Coy on the LEFT, D Coy in support on the LEFT, B Coy in reserve, Bn HQ being established at V 6 C 99

At 2pm the two leading Coys A and C left the Assembly Point and advanced on the objective METZ in extended order at 5 paces interval in two lines at 50 yards distance. The 10th Bn KRRC were operating on our RIGHT.

We advanced under moderate shell fire to the road running through Q 25 CENTRAL where we obtained liaison with the 10th KRRC who were directing.

2 Vickers guns attached to the Bn for the attack moved over with the last line. The advance continued towards the objective under moderate shell fire, slight machine gun fire being brought to bear on the leading Coys from P 30 CENTRAL and onwards to about 500 yards from the village where the leading Coys came under intense machine gun fire.

At 2:35pm the first line Coys, D Coy in the meanwhile having come up on the LEFT of C Coy, had to lie down until our artillery barrage lifted at 2:40pm : here the enemy machine gun fire and sniping caused many casualties, including Captain MEREDITH, 2nd Lts MASON and ROBINSON. During this period Bn HQ moved forward to Q 31 A 47.

At 2:40pm the advance was recommenced, the LEFT Coys being stopped for a time by two strong systems of wire. However, this obstacle was overcome, ways through the wire being cut or discovered, and both Coys soon had detachments making for the village, the LEFT Coy however having to move to a flank, viz : the RIGHT, in order to get through.

Leading detachments of the two Coys entered the village and started the work of clearing the houses of enemy, the enemy however did not wait long after the leading troops entered and started retreating, leaving behind them a few dangerous snipers. During this operation some thirty prisoners were taken, together with 1 TM and 1 MG. At 3pm the enemy were still holding the LEFT of the village in Q 19 b.

At 2:45pm the LEFT flank was being held up by machine guns in a trench, strongly wired, running towards the WESTERN corner of the village; a detachment of Lewis Gun worked its way up this trench and cleared it and captured an MG.

In the meantime heavy fire was brought to bear on this flank from a trench at about Q 19 CENTRAL, the second line then swung rough to the left and doubled up the hill with their Lewis Guns, captured the trench and killed about 6; about 3 Germans then evacuated the trench and ran towards MILL FARM, the Lewis Gun immediately opened on them and about a dozen fell. 4 prisoners were also taken from this party.

This Coy then came under a very heavy MG fire from the NW corner of METZ and from the Wood between MILL FARM and the SW corner of the Wood.

2nd Lts PIRRETT and DAVIS and a few men worked their way up to the machine guns, both officers being killed; Captain SMYTH then took up small reinforcements, the MGs were silenced and the LEFT started consolidating on the forward slope about Q 19 a CENTRAL, 1 Lewis Gun being knocked out. At 3:15pm Lt BARLOW, who had worked his way through the LEFT of the village, rejoined his Coy on their RIGHT with two platoons, collected from the village party, and the clearing party of the trench at the WESTERN corner of the village mentioned above.

3:30pm. This Coy saw thirty or forty Germans retiring in groups to the wood near MILL FARM and brought rifle and Lewis Gun fire to bear on them, some fell. When the RBs came up to the edge of the wood, this Coy recommenced their advance simultaneously with them on to their final objective, reaching it at about 6pm and consolidated thereon.

4pm. Bn HQ established itself at Q 25 b 18 with a line to Brigade which was broken three times before being opened for use. Telephone communication was established with the front line Coys by 9pm.

The CENTRE Coy worked its way through the village in Q 2 a etc as mentioned above, systematically clearing all houses, cellars and other places of concealment. It was this Coy which captured the main body of prisoners. Having cleared the village of all resistance, the Coy began consolidating on their objective at about 5:15pm.

At 2:40pm the RIGHT Coy continued its advance simultaneously with the LEFT Coys and the 10th KRRC. Temporarily checked by the wire, the leading detachment entered the village at about 2:50pm. The enemy retreating before the advancing troops; however, snipers and well-placed MGs in the houses caused many casualties, including Lt EVERETT, and had to be ejected by circumventing movements; this Coys RIGHT was in the main street and kept communication with the 10th KRRC the whole way through. During this operation about a dozen prisoners, 2 TMs and 1 MG were taken. A German Doctor and his Staff, who after gave valuable assistance to our wounded, were also captured. This Coy started consolidating on its objective at about 5pm.

The reserve Coy moved up in extended order at about 300 yards behind the front Coys and consolidated in rear of the village.

The village of METZ was very heavily shelled by the enemy with 4.2s, 5.9s and 8 inch from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. The artillery barrages were good, but had the time for lifting been 5 minutes earlier in the first and second stages, some casualties would have been saved and probably more prisoners taken.

The RAMC stretcher bearers were numerically insufficient to cope with the number of casualties.

Final dispositions after the objective had been occupied were: 3 Coys from Q 19 a 9 3 1/2 to Q 20 c 14; 3 platoons in Q 19 c, 1 platoon in Q 25 b, Bn HQ at Q 19 d 11.

The work of consolidation extended until 6am

Total captures: 3 MGs and 1 extra MG carriage, 3 TMs and 60 odd prisoners, prisoners were taken from 229th and 230th Regts.

Our casualties were:

2 Officers, 29 OR, killed

4 Officers, 96 OR, wounded

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Many thanks for the information posted. Most excellent. It will help the young schoolgirl who is researching a Littleborough soldier and I will use it for the soldiers on our roll of honour and also when his anniversary comes up.

Bernard

www.littleboroughshistory.org

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Diane's post of the 11/KRRC war diary gives the full detail. The 11/KRRC Battalion War Record from the 1917 KRRC Chronicle gives a handy condensed summary ...

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post-20192-0-54812300-1415128346_thumb.j

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And here's the 10/KRRC perspective from the right half of the attack, again from the 1917 KRRC Chronicle ...

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post-20192-0-98469300-1415128796_thumb.j

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Inglefield's History of the Twentieth (Light) Division gives the big picture well ...

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[inglefield pp.129-133]

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Trench map of the main field of action, to allow you to plot the trench map references in Diane's post, but excluding the villages (YTRES, NEUVILLE, FINS, Vallulart Wood, etc.) the battalions marched in from ...

Mill Farm is in P.24.b

Havrincourt Wood is the woodland in the square immediately north of P.24

Gouzeaucourt Wood is in Q.28.a & c

post-20192-0-83074900-1415135949_thumb.j

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Once again, many, many, thanks for all of the information. I have had an email back from the schoolgirl's parents and herself expressing appreciation for information. They will all remember Pte Ben Osbert Whitham this sunday, we can ask for no more.

Bernard

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:poppy: Remembering L/Cpl Ben Whitham, R/6866, who fell in this action aged 23 years :poppy:

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Bernard - let us know if they need any help with plotting trench map references.

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Hi Bernard,

The 11th RB diary gives quite a few map references for the attack, hence I would take Jeremy's kind offer up. The 11th KRRC and 11th RB suffered quite heavy casualties in the attack with the 10th RB sending Companies to both battalions. If you need the 10th & 11th RB diaries let me know however I cannot help regarding the KRRC diaries.

Andy

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