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Ken Wayman

56 Div men who fought at Glencorse Wood 16/8/17

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Ken Wayman

I am currently researching 56th 'London' Division's costly actions in the Glencorse Wood, Inverness Copse, Nonne Bosschen and Polygon Wood locations on 16th/17th August 1917.

 

I have full access to the War Diaries, regimental and divisional histories and official history but I lack the vital dimension of the lads who were expected to accomplish a nigh-on impossible task (given the conditions underfoot and the attack's necessary pre-requisite of neutralising flank m/guns in Inverness Copse).

 

Do any Pals have stories of lads who took part in these actions and might be willing to share them with me? I am trying to include reference to as many individuals as possible from 167, 168, 169 Brigades, 5/Cheshire (pioneers), 7/Bedfordshire and any of the associated MG Coys and Sappers that were involved. If I've forgotten any units please forgive me - this isn't meant to be exclusive!

 

My aim is to (eventually) produce a book, present working title - 'One Day in Glencorse Wood' - to examine in detail the attack, including both its prelude and aftermath. My (probably vain) hope is for the book to be published around the anniversary of the attack in August of next year, 2017.

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

 

Ken

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chrrip

W H A Groom's account of the battle in 'Poor Bloody Infantry' is one of the best LRB accounts I have seen. I have done a fair bit of work to identify the precise number of LRB fatalities that day, as the war Diary etc are somewhat limited,  and the number of PoWs - the latter numbering 49.

Chris

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Ken Wayman

Hi Chris

 

Thanks for that. Happily I managed to obtain a copy of Groom's book just recently and have been amazed by its detail.

 

I really want to do justice to the lads who were asked to carry out an almost impossible task.

 

I presume you have access to the LRB's 1914-1918 history and to the War Diary. I have both of these if it helps. Also access to 'Soldiers Died', 'Campaign Medals' and the Trench maps. Anything you might need, just let me know.

 

Cheers

 

Ken

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vectisitch

my great grandfather was killed in this attack on the 16th aug 1917. george henry gough 303981. 1st/5th LRB. h wasn't included in the soldiers died in the great war index for some reason and there is no war memorial with his name on. he is buried in hooge crater cemetary. his body was found and buried by the 9th new zealand field artillery around november of 1917. they erected a cross for him too for which i am greatfull bearing the details, in memory of george henry gough,london regt,erct by 9th n.z.f.a. he was moved in the battlefield clear up in may 1919 to hooge crater. his medals were issued and his widow used to make his son wear them on empire day. the whereabouts of these medals is no longer known in the family although my mother got replacements issued when the MOD still did that.The map reference where his body was found was J.14.a.5.1.

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Langdon
3 hours ago, vectisitch said:

my great grandfather was killed in this attack on the 16th aug 1917. george henry gough 303981. 1st/5th LRB. h wasn't included in the soldiers died in the great war index for some reason and there is no war memorial with his name on. he is buried in hooge crater cemetary. his body was found and buried by the 9th new zealand field artillery around november of 1917. they erected a cross for him too for which i am greatfull bearing the details, in memory of george henry gough,london regt,erct by 9th n.z.f.a. he was moved in the battlefield clear up in may 1919 to hooge crater. his medals were issued and his widow used to make his son wear them on empire day. the whereabouts of these medals is no longer known in the family although my mother got replacements issued when the MOD still did that.The map reference where his body was found was J.14.a.5.1.

 

He is in the Register of Soldier's Effects with a war gratuity of £5 - indicating that he enlisted in May 1916. His widow is named as 'Edith M'.

Mike

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Ken Wayman
5 hours ago, vectisitch said:

my great grandfather was killed in this attack on the 16th aug 1917. george henry gough 303981. 1st/5th LRB.

Many thanks for your reply.

I have looked at Great War Campaign Medals database and found the following on Rifleman George Henry Gough:

        His original number in the London Rifle Brigade (1/5 London) was 10073; he was briefly attached to 2/2 Royal Engineer Company before returning to LRB where his number became 303891. He was entitled to the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

I'm putting together a detailed study of 56 Division at 3rd Ypres where London Rifle Brigade was in the front line of the attack by 169 Brigade as the right hand assault battalion on a two-battalion front. The objective beyond Glencorse Wood was Black Watch Corner at the south-western point of Polygon Wood. Early progress was followed by major setbacks, with LRB eventually forced back almost to that morning's start line.

If you are happy I would like to include reference to George Gough in the book.

Thanks again for your contact.

Ken

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RobertBr

Ken

 

I missed the start of this topic. My Grandfather was a gunner in the 281 RFA Bde so I have taken an interest in the 56th Div artillery ie 280 & 281 bde which are missing from your list. In reseraching my Grandfather I found that just looking a the Brigades War Diary did not provide a full picture of any actions, hence I also look at the infantry Pioneers etc.

 

Getting back to your dates the intersting fact is that the War Diaries for both RFA brigades is missing (July, Agust, September). The June War Diaries indicate that both Brigades were attached to other Dvisions (21st/50th ?). I started to try and fill in the gaps but have not got very far. I do have one note that all 280 Bde guns were put out of action on 16/17 Aug. It could be the case that other artillery supported the attack.

I have just retired and hope to look into this period a little more in the near future.

 

A while ago I visited the Museum in Chester where they have quite a lot of information about the 5th Chesires.

 

Sorry this is not  much direct help, but perhaps help with the overall picture.

 

Regards

 

Bob

 

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chrrip

The army number 10077 of George Gough shows he was in a draft to the 1/5 from 2/7 Essex R which reached the LRB after Leuze Wood in Sept. 16. There is some background info in Mitchinson's book Gentlemen and Officers; I have identified about 50 of the draft, mainly from the LRB medal rolls & CWGC records. Good luck with the book Ken

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Ken Wayman
On ‎01‎/‎10‎/‎2016 at 17:43, chrrip said:

The army number 10077 of George Gough shows he was in a draft to the 1/5 from 2/7 Essex R which reached the LRB after Leuze Wood in Sept. 16. There is some background info in Mitchinson's book Gentlemen and Officers; I have identified about 50 of the draft, mainly from the LRB medal rolls & CWGC records. Good luck with the book Ken

Morning Chrrip

Many thanks for extra information in respect of George Gough. Sounds like you're doing some great work on the LRB lads. I expect you have access to the war diary but if you need it I have the CD-Rom version. Just ask.

 

Thanks for the good wishes

 

Ken

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Ken Wayman

Hi Bob

You are right - I did not refer to the RFA Brigades  or the TMBs for that matter. Neither 280 nor 281 Bdes RFA War Diary entries exist, which is most frustrating. There's very little of help in Farndale's book on the RA in the Great War in respect of the Battle of Langemarck. I will check several other potential sources, such as the 56th Div History, the Official History Vol.II for 1917, various personal accounts.

If I have any success I'll certainly let you know.

The 56 Div TMB's were attached to the Guards Divisional Artillery on 8th July near Boesinghe and remained with them, also working with 29th Div Arty from 12th July. Rejoined 56th Div Arty on 6th August.

One intriguing entry in the 56 TMB diary appears on 26th August: "30 Other Ranks sent to 280 Brigade RFA and 30 O.R.s to 281 Brigade RFA as reinforcements for the batteries." This obviously suggests that the batteries had suffered severe losses in the Salient - that, however, is speculation. I hope I can get to the truth of the matter.

Could I ask where you obtained the note about the loss of 280 Bde batteries on 16-17 August as this is very relevant to my book?

 

All the best

 

Ken

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Chris_Baker

It would be worth examining the diary of the 56 Divisional Commander Royal Artillery: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/results/r?_col=200&_hb=tna&_q=56+commander+artillery

and that of the Guards equivalent http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/results/r?_col=200&_hb=tna&_q=guards+commander+artillery

and of 29 Divisional Commander Royal Artillery http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/results/r?_col=200&_hb=tna&_q=29+commander+artillery

Edited by Chris_Baker

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Ken Wayman

Thanks Chris, that is much appreciated. By coincidence, I've just read the relevant sections of 56 Div Arty TMB war diary that mentions that in July 1917 56 TMB came under the orders of Guards Div Arty and 29 Div Arty near Boesinghe. Also that 56 DTMO took over command of the three Divisional TMBs on 24th July.

 

I shall set to work on 56 Div, Guards Div and 29 Div CRA.

 

Thanks for taking the time and trouble.

 

Ken

 

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RobertBr

Ken

My source is a brief document "History of the 280th (City of London) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery" (19 pages when I typed it up) attached to the actual War Diary at Kew. It also talks of 100% casualties in the Gun Line and mentions Cpl S. Ford, Sgt H.W. Linney and Sgt W. Inskipp.

Reading it again I may have misled you as it does imply they were with the 56th Div in the line near Hooge.

PM me if I can be of further assistance

Bob

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Ken Wayman

Morning Bob

 

Thank you for the extra info from 280 Brigade - I'll PM you about that.

As Chris suggested above I have trawled through some of the higher formations' war diaries (plus other sources) and a few details have luckily emerged.

From the Divisional History comes this detail provided by Br-Gen Elkington:

 

“On 2nd and 3rd of August the 56th Divisional Arty relieved the 8th Divisional Arty in the line, taking over their gun positions near Hooge. The Artillery then experienced what I think was their worst time during the war. All the battery positions were shelled day and night, more in the nature of harassing fire with occasional counter-battery shoots. The ground was so wet that digging as impossible, and the men lived in holes in the ground covered with corrugated iron. The early dawn was the only time it was safe to get supplies and ammunition if casualties were to be avoided and with all precautions most batteries lost 100 per cent of their gun line strength in killed and wounded. The Arty supported operations on the 10th, 12th, 16th and 25th August and answered SOS calls on most days; also a very heavy day on the 24th August when the enemy counter-attacked in force. On the 16th and 17th the whole of the guns of D/280 were put out of action; enemy shell fire exploding ammunition practically blew them to pieces and  except for the actual tubes of the three howitzers, nothing was found worth salving. On the 31st August the Arty came out of the line and entrained south on 1st September to rejoin 56th Division and all ranks hoped they had seen the last of the Ypres salient.”

 

From 56 Div Arty CRA war diary WO95/2937/3 comes:

 

“3-4th August: The personnel of 56/DA relieved the personnel of the 8th DA in action. The 8th DA took over guns of 56/DA. 56/DA came under orders of CRA 25th Division. [Orders 71/72]

13th August: 10 a.m. – 281 Bde came under orders of 18th Div.

18th August: 12 noon – 280 and 281 Bdes came under orders of CRA 14th Div.

26th August: 10 a.m. – 280 and 281 Bdes came under orders of CRA 47th Div.

31st August: 56/DA withdrawn from action and came under orders of CRA 56 Div preparatory to transferring to Third Army.”

 

56th Divisional Artillery – For 10th August 1917:

[Under orders of 25 Division Arty; to be relieved by 8th Div on 12th August]

 

From 25 Div CRA war diary WO95/2230:

"Map ‘B’ showed 18-pdr barrage lifts and 18-pdr standing barrages plus the objective line. 18-pdrs to use shrapnel, 50% graze burst.

Map ‘C’ showed 4.5″ howitzer tasks. Howitzers will lift off each task in succession as the attack barrages reach within 200 yards of such task and will finally form a protective barrage on the line of the Hannebeek.

No.4 Squadron RFC to keep six planes in the air from Zero onwards for counter-battery work while No.17 Kite balloon Coy arranged to have three kite balloons up for arty work.

Guns should be in action by night of 8th August.

 

                                  ‘D’ Group                  18-Pdr Standing Barrages [shown green on Map ‘B’]

 

280 Brigade RFA

Zero to plus 3            1 battery         J.8.a.3.1 to J.7.b.95.65

Plus 3 to plus 11      same              J.8.a.5.8 to J.2.c.2.5

Plus 11 to end          same              Stiffen protective barrage, J.2.c.9.4-J.2.c.5.0

 

Zero to plus 6            2 batteries      J.8.c.35.25 – J.8.a.3.1

Plus 6 to plus 16      same              J.8.c.8.9 – J.8.a.5.8

Plus 16 to end          same              Stiffen protective barrage, J.8.b.40.15-J.2.d.9.4

 

281 Brigade RFA

Zero to plus 28         2 batteries      West edge of Nonne Bosschen, searching into the wood.

Plus 28 onwards      same              N.E. edge of same, searching back into the wood.

 

                                    4.5″ Howitzer tasks [shown on Map ‘C’]

                       

D/64 and D/281 allotted special tasks, assisting groups that are short of howitzers.

Tasks timed so 4.5″ howitzers will fire to within 200 yards of the Creeping Barrage.

Once tasks are complete, fire of 4.5″ howitzers will range along the Blue Line J.8.d.95.80-D.26.c.35.45, using 108 fuzes.

 

D/280 will be under orders of CBSO. (Counter-battery??)."

 

Note: Gun losses to be made good by transfers of guns and howitzers from RFA Brigades leaving the line about 12th August – all brigades to be made up to 18 guns and 6 howitzers.

 

I do have access to the maps referenced in the orders. Sorry the info is a bit unsorted but I wanted to pass it on as soon as possible.

 

Ken

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Miranda Ingram

My great uncle Tom Madelin service number 18682, 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment was killed in action on 16th August, 1917 and I have a postcard written shortly afterwards detailing that he was killed at Westhoek Ridge, north east of Ypres 500 yards from Polygon Wood and 500 yards from the north-east of Glencourse Wood. He was buried the next day beneath a wooden cross by the Durham Light Infantry. The inscription on the cross read RIP, no.18682, T.C. Madelin (Thomas Cyril) 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment, Killed in action 16/08/17. "Peace perfect Peace" "He died a Hero's Death" 

His grave was subsequently obliterated by further fighting and his name is now inscribed on the Tyne Cot Memorial. We are going to Belgium next week to take a private battlefield tour and then we will attend the 100 year Commemoration Service at Tyne Cot on 31st July.  I notice you don't mention the Northamptonshire Regiment in your post and I don't know a great deal about what action they were involved in on that day but I would be interested if you have any further information.

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Langdon

Welcome to the Forum,

The Battalion war diary (here on Ancestry) has a two-page typewritten report on the Operations of 15th to 18th August 1917 - the attack by the 23rd and 25th Brigades of the 8th Division from their positions on Bellewaarde Ridge. The 2nd Battalion was under the command of the 25th. Other rank battalion casualties (unnamed) were:

38 Killed

92 Wounded

3 Missing

If you haven't or can't get access to Ancestry (free at some local libraries or by two-week trial period), the war diary is here at the National Archives downloadable for a small fee.

 

Mike

 

Edited by Langdon

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Langdon

 

I've found this trench map dated 30th June 1917 - it shows Bellewaarde Ridge in square 7, the Westhoek crossroads and Jaffa Trench which features heavily in the report.

You can "change transparency of overlay" by moving the blue button on the left.

 

With this Trench Map Coordinates convertor you can pinpoint positions mentioned in the report. For instance by adding "28" in front of the co-ordinates in the report - in this case J.7.b.7.7...

 

Hope this helps with your visit.

 

Mike

Edited by Langdon

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Miranda Ingram

Thank you very much for all this information. I now have a much better understanding of what happened to my great uncle. We visited the De Dreve cafe near Polygon Wood during our stay in Ypres and met the proprietor Johan Vandewalle who is an expert on the WW1 actions which took place in his local area and played a part in the identification of some Australian soldiers whose remains were discovered in 2007. From the 1917 postcard I have with a description of where my relative was killed, Johan was able to direct me to the area and I attached a remembrance cross to a tree there. The CWGC  in Ypres were also very helpful and could find information about how many casualties were cleared from that area after the war and buried at Tyne Cot although, of course , by this time they were unidentifiable.

 

Miranda

Thomas Cyril Madelin.jpg

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Ken Wayman
On ‎21‎/‎07‎/‎2017 at 13:17, Miranda Ingram said:

I notice you don't mention the Northamptonshire Regiment in your post and I don't know a great deal about what action they were involved in on that day but I would be interested if you have any further information.

Hi Miranda

Thank you for your post and please forgive my ridiculously late reply - we've had a few family problems recently and research has taken a back seat. My proposed book focuses on 56th '1st London' Division and so I'm afraid the Northamptons, in 8th Division, only receive a peripheral mention.

Good luck with your research.

Ken

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RobertBr

Ken

I have been delving into War Diaries in Ancestry and have come across the 56th Div Adjutant and Quartermaster General Diary which lists casualties numbers (and names for officers) for all units. In August 1917 the RFA did suffer a relatively large number of casualties:

 

280 Bde

Killed         2 Off  14 OR

Wounded 3 Off 80 OR

Missing     1 OR

 

281 Bde

Killed         2 Off  12 OR

Wounded 3 Off 35 OR

Missing     1 OR

 

Total casualties: 153

 

The worst periods were 9th (22 casualties), 16th/17th (27 casualties) and 22rd/25th (40 casualties).

 

Following the Casualty list are  pages listing men who are surplus to requirements!

 

Intrequingly in the same range is a Front  Page for the "War Diaries of the Units of the Divisional Artillery" for August 1917  i.e. one of the missing sections. Unfortunately the following pages have nothing to do with the units.

 

Bob

 

 

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Ken Wayman

Hi Bob

Please excuse my very late reply - lots of family problems at present and spending much of my time on the motorways.

Great statistics and very useful to me - many thanks. I shall have a close look at those pages you quoted. Much appreciated.

Ken

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Ken Wayman
On ‎21‎/‎07‎/‎2017 at 13:17, Miranda Ingram said:

My great uncle Tom Madelin service number 18682, 2nd Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment was killed in action on 16th August, 1917 and I have a postcard written shortly afterwards detailing that he was killed at Westhoek Ridge, north east of Ypres 500 yards from Polygon Wood and 500 yards from the north-east of Glencourse Wood. He was buried the next day beneath a wooden cross by the Durham Light Infantry. The inscription on the cross read RIP, no.18682, T.C. Madelin (Thomas Cyril) 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment, Killed in action 16/08/17. "Peace perfect Peace" "He died a Hero's Death" 

 

Hi Miranda

 

I previously suggested to you that your great uncle, Tom Madelin was killed much further north from the 56th Division on the Langemarck front. As you've probably discovered, I was totally wrong. Tom's unit was part of 8th Division that was on the immediate left of 56th Division and both divisions were part of the II Corps. If you are happy with it, I would like to mention Tom in my book - it won't be much but will acknowledge his life and death. By the way, the following website might help you with 2nd Battalion Northamptonshire:

https://wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/battalion.php?pid=6826

Very best wishes, and sorry again!

 

Ken

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Ken Wayman
On ‎30‎/‎09‎/‎2016 at 22:53, RobertBr said:

Ken

... My Grandfather was a gunner in the 281 RFA Bde so I have taken an interest in the 56th Div artillery ie 280 & 281 bde which are missing from your list. In researching my Grandfather I found that just looking a the Brigades War Diary did not provide a full picture of any actions, hence I also look at the infantry Pioneers etc... 

Regards

Bob

 

 

Hi Bob

I've now reached the 'tidying and improving' stage of writing my book on 56th Division at 'Langemarck'. Would you be happy for me to mention your grandfather in respect of 281 Bde RFA's part in the conflict?

Regards

Ken

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RobertBr

Ken

 

I would be happy for you to mention my Grandfather. However I have no information as to his involvment at the dates of interest.

 

In fact all I know prior to 1918 is when he was posted to 281 Brigade and when the War Diary records his MM award (Xmas day 1917).

 

Bob

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Ken Wayman

Appreciate that Bob. Just one thing - could you tell me why the name Nelson is in brackets and should I write it in the same way?

 

Cheers

 

Ken

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