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Remembered Today:

55th West Lancashire Div D/276 Battery at Givenchy 1918


wmfinch

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Hello All,

 

The information gained from Forum members about the war time experiences of Sergeant Cyril E Gourley V.C. and men who fought alongside him, including Corporal (Acting Sergeant) No.681795 Edward James Thornley D.C.M. and my own Grandfather No. 199319 Gunner Reginald Charles Evans M.M., has been outstanding.  Fighting together at Little Priel Farm (Battle of Cambrai) on 30th Nov 1917, twelve men received decorations for thier bravery that day and after 5 years of research, a group of the men's descendants have pieced together everything about their part in the Battle of Cambrai.

 

However, we would now like to take it a stage further and see what information is available about their part in the Battle of the Lys in April 1918.

 

So far, we know that 9 of the 12 men received their medal ribands at Gorre Chateau at 12.00 noon on Wednesday 20th February 1918, and that the Officer commanding the parade was Lt.Colonel T.H.Topping C.M.G,,D.S.O., who was the Commanding Officer of 276 Brigade R.F.A. We have never found out why the other 3 men didn't attend, including my own Grandfather!

We think they may have been granted leave.  Any other ideas please?

 

We also know that the whole Division moved into the area in February 1918 and that Gorre Chateau was a Brigade H.Q. Furthermore, the main building of Gorre Chateau was so badly damaged by German shell fire that it was demolished later in 1918.Thankfully, the original Gatehouse still survives (see the Club d'Histoire de Beuvry website for photographs). 

 

A Gloucetershire Echo report about my Grandparents Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1971 quoted my Grandfather has have seen action at Ypres, Cambrai and Bassee. This seems to indicate that D/276 Battery was located near the La Bassee Canal, but that is conjecture on my behalf.  Phil Tomaselli's excellent book entitled 'The Battle of the Lys 1918' gives reference to Artillery Units having had their guns destroyed and that the men involved had to take to their rifles.  However,  we are struggling to find any specific reference to D/276 Battery.

 

Any help will very much appreciated.

 

With thanks,

 

V/R

 

Wayne Finch

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Wayne: A Short History of the 59th (4th West Lancashire) Brigade RA, TA by Col. L M Synge, TD indicates that after coming out of action in the last week of 1917, the Brigade marched by Maricourt - Forceville - Orville, and reached the LaBasse area where they remained until Fall, 1918. "They were now continuously in action except for a short period of rest in the Bois des Dames in May. Their positions were often changed, and there was constant activity in the Givenchy area. The important days in the early part of the campaign were April 9th and April 18th, when the 55th Division won its great glory in repulsing the heavy German attacks and holding its line of resistance intact and capturing many prisoners and machine guns."

 

288 (2nd West Lancashire) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery, Territorial Army: A History by Capt. A W Simpson, RA TA has a page and a half on the actions of 276 Brigade during April 1918.  The main points given are:

 

1.  There was a furious German bombardment at 4.15 am on 9 April 1918 and at 8.45 the enemy attacked the 55th Division in the Givenchy area reaching the forward gun of A/276. By the end of the day all the A/276 guns were destroyed and at 6.42 pm the battery withdrew to their wagon lines.

 

2.  The battle around Givenchy continued for three weeks.

 

3.  Lt Col Topping left the Brigade on 1 Apr 1918 being promoted to Brig. Gen. and taking of the 38th Divisional Artillery.

 

4.  Upon Col. Topping's departure, Major C C Furness took temporary command of 276 Bde, RFA TF, but was succeeded by Lt Col. E W Grove, DSO at the end of April.

 

Regards, Dick Flory

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Dick, 

Once again, I cannot thank you enough for the information.  After all, it was you who started me on my 5 year quest! Steve  Thornley has written a 74 page booklet summarising the actions of our men at Cambrai, and he and I visited Little Priel Farm, Gorre Chateau and Givenchy in November.  Unfortunately, it was getting dark by the time we reached Givenchy, so we need to go back, armed with more info.  Your info will help greatly!

 

If you would like to message me privately, giving me your email address, I'll ask Steve to email you a copy of his booklet.  The same goes for any one else who is interested.

 

Once again, thank you so much.

 

All the very best,

 

Wayne

 

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Hello Dick,

 

Sorry, I forgot to say....Major Furness was one of the signatories on 'our men's' W3121 medal recommendation forms!

 

V/R,

 

Wayne

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Wayne,

 

I have not read the 276 Brigade RFA Diary in detail (well, hardly at all) but it is in the National Archive and downloadable for £3.50 if you are not already aware. The reference seems to be WO95 2914 4 (probably best to try WO95 2914 and search a bit). The material seems to be quite disordered (some of the 1918 pages seem to be mixed with 1916) but I attach a sample page which, if you have not seen it, may be useful.

 

The diaries of the 55th Divisional Commander Royal Artillery (CRA) are, I think, at WO95 2911

 

Ian

55DivArtyNatArch276BrigadeRFA_1915-10_1919_04_WO-95-2914-4_2_p121RED.jpg

Edited by Ian Riley
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Hello Ian,

 

That is great advice.....many many thanks.  I've just paid and am downloading it on my lap top as I write this on my iPad.  Looks like I have a lot of reading to do!

 

Very sincerely, this is such a great forum, with members who genuinely care.  You and Dick are definitely right up there.

 

All the very best,

 

Wayne

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  • 5 years later...

I’m trying to trace my maternal grandfather’s war with very little to go on. I do have this postcard he send home. I was wondering if anyone knew what year this would have been? I’m assuming they would have had different ones each year. Thanks in advance for any replies.

A7DEB2C8-6937-469C-82EA-D3865F89706D.jpeg

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JohnnyBrookes, I see from your other posts that your grandfather's name was Thomas Price, and that Jay Dubaya has already pointed you in the direction of his Medal Index Card and the 276 Brigade War Diary, available to download in digitised form from the National Archives https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7354853 . The diary will not mention Thomas by name, but will give you an idea of what his unit was doing on a daily basis.

My own grandfather, who came from Bury, was also in the 55th West Lancashire Division from January to September 1916, as during that period he was with the 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers (164th Brigade), and represented the 2/5th LF at the unveiling of the Memorial to the 55th Division at Givenchy on 15 May 1921.

I cannot help with the year of the card, I'm afraid, but it has obviously been much treasured. I assume that "To Issue" is a pun on "To wish you". You will find other posts on this forum about the issue of rum to the troops if you search.

Edited by A Lancashire Fusilier by Proxy
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He did a brilliant job thank you. I’m very grateful for his help. Thanks for the reply and I’m looking forward to getting involved on this site.

Regards

John

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  • 6 months later...
On 06/06/2022 at 09:13, Johnnybrookes said:

I’m trying to trace my maternal grandfather’s war with very little to go on. I do have this postcard he send home. I was wondering if anyone knew what year this would have been? I’m assuming they would have had different ones each year. Thanks in advance for any replies.

A7DEB2C8-6937-469C-82EA-D3865F89706D.jpeg

Wow, what a wonderful artefact.  Must be so rare!

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