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Remembered Today:


stiletto_33853

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Written by Captain G. H. Anderson, C.B.E., D.S.O., M.C.

This is a shortened version of a lecture to the Staff College in 1937.

 

Placed on here at the request of a certain newish member who believes his relation took part in this raid.

 

This particular raid in which I had a part, and which I shall now attempt to describe, took place on the night of the 25th-26th June, 1916, at Ovillers la Boiselle between the Somme and the Ancre.

The raid was first projected some time in May, and 2nd Lieutenant S. W. Murray, a Platoon Commander in "D" Company of the 2nd Battalion of The Rifle Brigade, was selected to carry it out. This was, I think a wise choice. Murray, a man of 33, wearing the D.C.M. (a month later he added the D.S.O. to his collection), was one of those rare and fortunate people who seem not to know the meaning of fear. He was, moreover, as strong as a horse and as agile as a monkey. In addition to this, he was a first class instructor, and, before he got his commission, had wide experience in teaching bayonet fighting and physical training. A most blood-thirsty little man, he was admirably qualified to inspire the offensive spirit in others. In the words of the London Gazette: "it was mainly owing to his skilful organisation and dash that the raid was completely successful." I was added to the party presumably because the Commanding Officer, Roger Brand, knew that I was fond of patrolling and had done a good deal of it since I joined the battalion at the end of 1915. Also perhaps, because I  had green eyes and was able to see in the dark. We were each of us, Murray and I, to pick our own N.C.O.'s and men from amongst volunteers, out of our own platoons (mine was number 1 Platoon of "A" Company). We had no difficulty in doing this, as the battalion, not having been seriously engaged for eight months, was well up to strength, and, raids being a comparative novelty, there was no lack of volunteers. The party was made up of two sergeants, two lance-corporals and 46 riflemen, selected more or less equally from the two platoons. When we were out of the trenches, we of the raiding party were billeted together, and carried out our training as a separate unit. We were allotted a small valley on the west side of Henencourt Wood, about 5 miles from the line, and in this we laid out a dummy trench, copied from aerial photographs of the real one we were going to raid. Here, as soon as the outlines of the scheme were settled, we practised and repractised every detail, first by day and afterwards by night, and in all weathers, working strictly according to the time table, and trying to anticipate and make provision for every contingency that might arise. In addition to this, we did a lot of bayonet fighting and physical training, besides a certain amount of ordinary drill, and those of us who were to be armed with revolvers had practice at shooting at bottles and rats. Thanks to Murray, who, as I have said, was an excellent instructor, we all became, during the month we were working together, extremely fit and, I think, reasonably efficient at our job. In the line we went back to our companies, but during the course of two or three tours in the trenches, we were able to put in plenty of patrolling and to ensure that all the men who were to take part in the raid knew something of the geography of No-Man's Land opposite of Ovillers. Also, very often when we were back at rest, Murray and i  used to ride up to the trenches at night and go out on patrol, either by ourselves or with Harry Daniels, of "C" Company, who, to his Neuve Chapelle V.C.had recently added the M.C. for a series of exploits in No-Man's Land, and who had a nasty habit of playing the penny whistle in front of the German wire. One memorable day Murray and I went over to a neighbouring aerodrome and were flown up and down the line from Thiepval to La Boiselle: I don't know that this served any very useful purpose, but flying was not so common place then as it is now, and we naturally did not turn down this opportunity to study the land when it was offered to us.

Briefly stated, the object of the raid was to occupy, for about twenty minutes, a small salient in the German front line, to capture two or three prisoners, to kill the rest of the trench garrison and finally to return to our own lines, bringing back the prisoners and our own casualties, if any.

The scheme was to cross No-Man's Land diagonally, in a south easterly direction, to a point about a hundred yards from the German wire. Then the raiding platoon was split into three parties - the Officer Commanding the raid (Murray) with eight other ranks, in the centre, a Sergeant (Sergeant Marsh) with twenty other ranks on the left, and an Officer (myself), with twenty one other ranks, on the right. Each party was to make a gap in the German wire. Each party was then to enter the German front line at a point opposite it's own gap. Murray's party was to spread out slightly from the centre; Sergeant Marsh was to leave five men to block and hold the left flank and the remainder of his party were to work towards the centre: my party was to do the same thing on the right flank. At the end of the twenty minutes, the German trench was to be evacuated on a signal from the Officer commanding the raid, the blocking parties leaving by the gaps on the flanks and the remainder of the raiding platoon by the central gap. The entire operation, from start to finish, was to occupy an hour and a half. On the 25th June, it was a fine, fairly warm, starlight night, and such wind as there was blew from the east, that is to say from behind the German lines. It was not really dark - it never is at that time of the year unless there is a lot of cloud about - but the moon, which was in it's last quarter, had not yet risen, and there seemed no particular reason why we should be observed crossing No-Man's Land. The king was good, for, apart from a thunder storm on the 23rd, we had had very little rain for some weeks. The area between the trenches was chalky, covered with some rough grass about a foot high.

At approximately 10.30 (that is to say, rather more than two hours after sunset) an issue of rum was served out to us at the headquarters of the company holding the sector from which we were  to start, and at about 11 o'clock I went up to the front line, accompanied by two Lance-Corporals. At a point in our wire where the trench system went back in a wide re-entrant, opposite the centre of Authuille Wood, and about midway to a line between the salient known as The Nab, on the north, and what had once been the village of Ovillers, on the south - at this point, three gaps, with gates to them, had been made in our wire. At each gate were stationed two men, from the trench garrison, whose business it was to guide the raiding party into No-Man's land, and to help them to get back again into our own trenches, when the raid was over. The central gate was on a rough, grassy track (it is described in the Operation Orders as the "Old Road"), which led from Authuille Wood in a south easterly direction, up the hill towards Ovillers. Following the course of this track, the distance from the British front line to the German front line was approximately 500 years, and the ground rose steadily, about 40 to 50 feet in all. Behind us, we had Authuille Wood, lying in a dark hollow: in front the German trenches, with their chalk parapet, and, beyond them, a few blamed trees standing out on the skyline, just over a quarter of a mile away. The other two gates were on each side of the central gap and about 50 yards away from it. I had brought with me several large bundles of white tape, about two inches wide. I gave one to each of the Lance-Corporals, and we then started to lay them out, in the direction of the German trenches. I took the middles gap and sent the two Lance-Corporals to the left and right, respectively. First, each of us made the end of the tape fast on our own parapet, opposite one of the three gaps, and then took it out through the wire. Standing on the track, at the edge of No-Man's Land, I was just able to see the two Corporals 50 yards away from me, on either side. I had given them instructions that they were to keep this distance as exactly as possible, and to take their time and directions from the centre. When the three of us were through the wire, I gave the signal to advance, and we set off quietly toward Ovillers, with me on the track (which one could see faintly in the starlight) and a Corporal on either flank, just in sight. When startles came near us, we halted until they had burned themselves out.

On the night in question, apart from startles and an occasional rifle shot, everything was very peaceful and we crossed No-Man's Land without incident. When we had gone about 400 yards, I halted the party and laid a cross tape, 100 yards in length, parallel with and about 100 yards from the German wire. That was really the end of out turn, but having a few minutes to spare, I carried on the middle tape up to the German wire, and there fastened the end of it to an iron corkscrew.

 

 

 

 

Edited by stiletto_33853
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Not wishing to appear ungrateful, but is there more? It's a fascinating read.

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By the time we had finished laying the tapes it was about ten minutes to twelve, and collecting the two Corporals, I started back towards our own lines. As we got there, we found Murray and the rest of the raiding platoon filing out through the gaps. We strung the men out, at two yard intervals, with Murray in the centre, on the track, Sergeant Marsh on the left hand tape, and myself on the right. The men of the flanking parties were arranged in the order in which they were intended to move towards the centre of the salient after the raid had started. We then moved gently forward across No-Man's Land, to the cross tape and there lay down. We had hardly done so when two things happened: the moon rose behind the salient, and simultaneously the bombardment began.

I had better, I think, interrupt myself at this point, and say a word or two about the shelling. A bombardment of sorts had started the day before, that is to say on the 24th June, in preparation for the big Somme offensive which was due to take place on the 1st July. It had not been particularly heavy - just enough I imagine to keep the bulk of the trench garrison quietly in their dug-outs and to make the sentries feel glad when they were relieved. There had also been a good deal of trench mortar shelling, with that particularly form of missile which resembled a large plum pudding at the end of an iron stick about 30 inches long. These, we were assured would have practically destroyed the German wire: actually, we found that they had done nothing of the sort. Our own special bombardment lasted, altogether (that is to say both before and after the raid) for just under an hour, and though it was not very intense, it was distinctly well done. I say this feeling, for it is not pleasant to be lying in the open, a hundred yards from a trench which is being shelled, unless the shelling is fairly accurate. There were eighteen pounders and 4.5. Howitzers firing on the German front line, and heavier stuff on the supports and communication trenches.

While the bombardment was going on, the N.C.O's in charge of the Bangalore torpedoes assembled them and fitted them into their slings.

To return to the raid: at 12:16, when the bombardment had been going on for a quarter of an hour, the guns firing on the front line gradually increased their range, until the area to be raided was enclosed by a box barrage. At the same time the raiding platoon started to crawl forward about fifty yards, and the torpedo parties went on to the German wire, pushed their torpedoes into position, and loosed them off. All this took, roughly, five minutes, there had been no sign from the Germans, and, even when we started to blow their wire about, they made no attempt to interfere. The explosion of the torpedoes was the sign for the raid to begin, and splitting up into our three parties, we ran forward towards the German trenches.

up until now everything had gone like clockwork, but, at this point a slight hitch occurred, for it was found that the torpedo belonging to the party on the left had failed to go off. Fortunately this contingency had been provided for in our orders, where it was laid down (the wording of Roger Brand's not mine) that "should any of the torpedoes not explode, the party whose torpedo had not exploded will move as quickly as possible to the nearest spot where a torpedo had exploded, get through the wire, run along under the German parapet to the point where they should have entered, throwing a few bombs into the German trenches as they go, and will then get into the trench at the proper places." In fact, we had rehearsed this on several occasions when we were practising for the raid, in the valley behind Henencourt Wood. Accordingly. Sergeant Marsh and his party knew exactly what they had to do, and proceeded without hesitation, to get through the centre gap and then to double back towards their proper point of entry. I think you will all agree that this speaks very well for the way in which Murray had trained them, for one's natural instinct in such a situation would, I imagine, be to dive into the trench at the nearest point. Unfortunately, the unavoidable delay enabled the Germans at that end of the salient to put up a certain amount of resistance. However, Sergeant Marsh was quite equal to the situation, shot down with his revolver, the first sentry he met, and managed to get his party into the trench at the proper place, with only slight casualties, and then, having left a blocking party on the flank, started to make his way back down the front line.

Meanwhile, the other two torpedoes had proved completely effective. Without doing any damage to the people who let them off, the lateral blast from the explosions was so considerable, that a clean lane about ten feet wide was blown right through the wire.

 

 

More to come Paul, need a coffee though.

 

Andy

 

Edited by stiletto_33853
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Sorry, didn't mean to rush you :(

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There was, therefore, no need for us to make use of the strips of cocoa-nut matting we had brought with us in case the wire should be imperfectly cut. Murray, with his orderly and seven other men, went straight through their gap, dropped into the trench and immediately discovered the entrance to a large dug-out. You will recall that each member of the raiding party with a supply of bombs, and Murray now proceeded to make good use of his. However, he was not content merely to throw bombs down the stairs, but immediately went down himself to see what effect they had had. This has always seemed to me a particularly stout-hearted effort on his part. I had occasion on a certain morning in May 1918, when for two hours I sat in my dug-out orderly-room, alternatively destroying papers and holding telephone conversations with the company commanders, while a party of Germans up above threw hand grenades down from time to time, without having the initiative to come and rout us out. Anyway, when Murray got to the bottom he found that his bombs had done their work very efficiently, for the dug-out, which, as I have said was a large one, was filled with dead and wounded Germans.. Murray, quite unperturbed, filled his pockets with souvenirs of various descriptions, and then returned to the trench, just at the right moment to give the signal for evacuation.

But at that time i knew nothing of all this - either of Murray's subterranean explorations, or of Sergeant Marsh's adventures with the dud torpedo. I, went with my party, had got safely through the right hand gap and into the trench, without meeting the slightest opposition. As I slithered down the parapet, I switched on a large electric torch, which was fastened to my belt. Of my 21 men, 4 were detailed to construct a block on the outer flank, and for this purpose, they had been provided (in the words of the operation orders) with "prongs to make a quick small block". The expectation was, presumably, that the sides of the trench would be such that they could be easily thrown down, and that loose sandbags would be found to complete the work. This did not, however, take into account the thoroughness and orderliness which are so characteristic of the German race. Actually, we found that, even after 36 hours of desultory shelling, and a concentrated bombardment of 15 minutes, the German trenches, which were about 7 feet deep and 5 feet wide and were composed of chalk, neatly revetted with brushwood, remained almost completely intact, and did not at all lead themselves to hasty demolition. So, instead, the blockers stationed themselves at a point where there was a good thick traverse at the beginning of a fairly long, straight section of trench: and the rest of us moved of towards the centre. I met no Germans, not did I see at any signs of entrances to dug-outs. After a while, however, I ran into a couple of Murray's revolver men. It seemed to the, therefore, that there was nothing more to be done towards the centre, and that I might be better employed on the flank, so I turned back the way I had come. Almost immediately after this, Murray gave the signal for evacuation. Being then half way between the centre and the right flank, I went on, to make sure that my blockers realised that it was time for them to go. However, when I got to the place where I had left them, they had gone, and, from the other side of the traverse, I heard someone ask, in an unmistakable German accent, "Who is there?". The best answer to the  question seemed to be a bomb, so I pulled the pin out of one, let the safety catch go, and then threw it gently over the traverse.

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After that I climbed out of the trench in such a hurry that it was not until some minutes later, when it was suggested to me by one of the Corporals, that I was a public menace -- not until then, that I realised I had forgotten to switch of my Orilux torch, which was projecting a beam of clear, white light from the middle of my stomach. We were supposed to spend 19 minutes in or about the Germans trenches. I cannot say whether we kept exactly to our schedule, but, by the time I climbed out, most of the raiding party were out of sight.Also, by that time, the Germans had got thoroughly excited: rockets of all colours were going up in every direction and machine gun fire, and, to make matters more uncomfortable, our own artillery, at the expiration of the prescribed 29 minutes, had shortened their range and come back onto the German front line. At this juncture, I had the misfortune to stumble over the body of one of our men, lying half in and half out of the German wire. Naturally, he could not be left there, especially as we had definite orders to satisfy ourselves before leaving, "that all are out, including dead and wounded." I tried to lift him, but found he was too heavy to manage singlehanded into No-Man's Land and managed to collect a Corporal. The two of us succeeded in removing the man and carrying him across until we met a party from the trench garrison, who had come out to look for us. I am sorry to say, however, that he was dead by the time we got him back.

That was not the only misfortune that occurred on the homeward journey: you may remember that we had orders to capture not more than three prisoners, and the Colonel had promised a reward of 100 francs for the first live prisoner produced to him. It so happened that a very small rifleman, belonging I think, to Murray's party, had captured a very large German, and, being anxious to preserve him intact, had deposited him in a convenient shell hole a little way outside the German wire, when he found that No Man's Land was being swept by fairly accurate machine gun fire. Picture these two, sitting peacefully in their shell hole, when there appeared on the scene another member of the party, who, jumping too hastily to a somewhat natural conclusion, assumed that the large German had captured the small riflemen, and promptly shot the German through the head. Fortunately, however, there was another prisoner - of the 180th Wurtenburg Regiment - and I had, later on the pleasure of hearing him interrogated at Battalion Headquarters.

As for ourselves, the whole lot of us got back, though besides the one man killed, there were ten wounded - mostly I believe on the return journey. The latter would, I think, have been even more unpleasant than it was, but for the fact that, having the tape, which showed up quite nicely in the light of the rockets, to guide us diagonally, No Man's Land, we came, after we had gone about half way, into dead ground. The German casualties it is impossible to assess with any accuracy, but as there were other dug outs bombed, on the left flank, besides the one which Murray descended, and as a fair number were accounted for in the trench, I should think that the official estimate of 50 killed and wounded was not far wrong. After reporting at Battalion Headquarters, Murray and I, with the 39 members of our party, were allowed to go, and we marched, rather exhausted, back to the transport lines, in a place called Long Valley, where we were hospitably received by that best of quartermasters John Alldridge, who insisted on pouring hot rum down our throats. The last thing I remember is sticking my head out from under the flap of Aldridge's tent, and hearing a Nightingale singing in the thicket of Alders, although it was by that time long past dawn, and then being violently sick.

 

Andy

 

 

 

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Very impressed with that. Interesting the amount of training and the length of time between the decision to mount the raid and the event itself. I think it sums up the Army's six P's very well - Proper Planning Prevents P*** Poor Performance. And Murray looks to have been a man it would be as well to have on your side

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IS anyone able to look at a history of the 180th Wurtemburg Regt to see how they report the raid?

This is a very good report so it would really be interesting to read accounts from the other side.

Thanks for posting it.

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Ralph Whitehead's 'The Other Side of The Wire' Vol.1 pps 454-455 has a description from 9/180 Wurtemburg of a raid on their lines in the early hours of June 26, which appears to match the location, date and timing, but differs from Anderson's version, particularly casualties on both sides.

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  • 8 months later...

I have been working on a new project that coincides with this thread. The information from the German side relates to IR 180, specifically the 9/180 that was holding the portion of the line the raid was directed against. The German accounts were taken from the war diaries of the regiment apparently and differ in some degree from the report shown above. The casualty details were taken directly from the Verlustlisten and compared in detail with the original Stammrolle entries of each soldier that had served in this company during the war. Based upon the review of over 10,000 documents the casualty estimate provided by the report was in fact quite overstated. Here is the comparison.

(From The Other Side of the Wire volume 1)

IR 180 reported that shortly after midnight Sectors P5, P6 and part of P7 were already under heavy artillery fire. It was later determined that the heavy fire was in support of a raiding party advancing toward Sector P5.

 

The 9/180 held Sector P5 and in accordance with standard trench procedures had sent out small patrols into No Man’s Land in order to observe enemy activity. One group

heard noises coming from in front of the wire obstacles. While trying to determine the cause of the commotion the men could clearly hear commands being given in English

and saw approximately 40-50 soldiers climbing out of the British trench.

 

This patrol quickly returned to the German lines and reported their observations to the trench duty officer who immediately alerted the garrison. The raiding party was

allowed to come almost up to the wire entanglements when the 9/180 opened fire. Red flares were fired into the air and were answered almost immediately by accurate barrage fire from batteries lying in the rear.

 

The majority of the raiding party was quickly destroyed in the accurate artillery fire and forced to retreat but not before gaining access to a portion of the German trenches.

One sentry, Infanterist Fezer 9/180, was standing guard while his comrades alerted the garrison nearby when he was attacked by three soldiers who struck him several times in the head. He was able to get off a shot at one of the soldiers who sank to the ground with a cry. The two remaining opponents then attempted to drag Fezer out of the trench using a contraption that was described as being a pitchfork with bent prongs. He put up a fierce struggle against his would be captors and they eventually let him go and were last seen withdrawing into the darkness carrying their wounded friend with them.

 

Once the artillery fire had ceased on both sides another patrol was sent out from the 9th Coy to check for enemy activity and casualties. They came back with a variety of

equipment left behind by the raiding party, including 2 rifles with fixed bayonets. Each rifle had a tube-shaped hand torch affixed to the forward end with an elastic band. The front end of the torch had an oval piece of glass and a bulb; a string was used to turn on the light. The men of the 180th assumed it was a device that would allow the enemy to blind their opponent and then shoot them in safety. The patrol also brought back 5 steel helmets, one with an officer’s insignia and one with a non-commissioned officer’s insignia, 2 wire cutters, 2 trench clubs similar to a mace, 3 pitchforks with straight prongs, 2 hand grenades, 1 tent square and a very sharp dagger made out of a raw piece of iron that had been attached to a wooden handle and placed in a scabbard.

 

Soldiers in IR 180 felt it necessary to comment on the last piece of booty that had been recovered:

The latter vividly recalls the expeditions of the British nation against wild tribes, although they haughtily claim to fight for humanity and true culture. The Englishmen

even have a special standard as the events of Baralong also demonstrated. Nonetheless they call us ‘Huns’ and accuse us of the most shameful atrocities.

 

As to the losses reported by IR 180:

Stöckle, Hermann Leutnant der Reserve 9 Sindringen, Oehringen 26-Jun-16 KIA by artillery projectile 
Baier, Andreas Unteroffizier 9 Aichstetten, Münsingen 26-Jun-16 KIA 1.30 a.m., struck on head by shell splinter
Fezer, Wilhelm Gefreiter der Reserve 9 Haubersbronn, Schorndorf 26-Jun-16 Slightly injured from a blow to the back of the head
Barner, Ernst Musketier 9 Oetlingen, Kirchheim 26-Jun-16 KIA 1.30 a.m., struck on neck by hand grenade
Gaab, Erwin Ersatz Reservist 9 Gmünd 26-Jun-16 KIA at 1.30 a.m., struck in abdomen by shell splinter
Heilig, Leonhard Ersatz Reservist 9 Reitprechts, Gmünd 26-Jun-16 Severely wounded on left foot by shell splinter
Zeh, Albert Musketier 9 Esslingen-Oberesslingen 26-Jun-16 Slightly wounded in the morning, struck on right upper thigh by shell splinter
Hornung, Wilhelm Ersatz Reservist 9 Gemmrigheim, Besigheim 26-Jun-16 Missing since the night of the 26th, reported wounded and POW
Krieg, Christian Musketier 9 Oberschwandorf, Nagold 26-Jun-16 KIA in the morning, struck on head and abdomen by shell splinters

Whether all could be attributed to the raid or not is not known, however it is safe to assume that at least 5 are known to have been caused by the raid based upon the descriptions and time of loss. I also noted that the presence of the pronged weapons coincides with the British account so while there could be some differences as to the experiences of the individual men, I have no doubts that the two accounts are of the same event.

 

Ralph

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Always fascinating to read the other side and they will never agree. Could the wounded PoW be this man ?

     5a68d9e597ce7_HornungWICRC.JPG.5e6c0d1c2e8872d809587aa4d3d324cc.JPG5a68dafccf63b_HornungWICRC2.JPG.573b4c1e56252864011d13877937fd1c.JPG

 

5a68d9f7725fd_HurnungWtrenchraid23Jun1916ICRC.JPG.31d182f396fc550a11d14563f9f8e941.JPG

 

There is another ICRC card for him.

Charlie

Edited by charlie962
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Ralph

Not sure its possible but just trying to reconcile a little the two reports:

 

Sector raided:

IR 180 reported that shortly after midnight Sectors P5, P6 and part of P7 were already under heavy artillery fire.

The 9/180 held Sector P5

 

Who held P6 and P7 and were they also raided ?

 

re British artillery barrage and the German patrol

.....in accordance with standard trench procedures had sent out small patrols into No Man’s Land.

 

I presume this patrol would have been out before the midnight artillery barrage started or they would have found it difficult to get out of their trenches ?

 

German artillery response

The majority of the raiding party was quickly destroyed in the accurate artillery fire.

 

The raiders remained in the trenches some 19-29 minutes ? and their casualties were " besides the one man killed, there were ten wounded - mostly I believe on the return journey."

Would the German guns be pre-registered on the German trenches or in front of them? I suspect they have both depending on the situation? Logically n this case it must surely have been in front in which case the artillery didn't inflict casualties on the British until after they evacuated the trenches, which fits in line with the British comment.

 

German Casualties

"The German casualties it is impossible to assess with any accuracy,"  I've no doubt that the raiders and the officials would put a favourable spin on the figures but there is a big discrepency and in view of the amount of bombing and time spent in trenches, let alone British artillery barrage the German figures seem very low?

 

The most important point is to make sure we are comparing the full length of trench raided.

I'm sure there is a middle ground somewhere without trying to play down the bravery of both sides ! Looking at the sort of weapons that were officially and unofficially used by British, French, Americans, Germans and Austrians Its always going to be a nasty business requiring a special courage.

 

Charlie

 

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Hello Charlie, The 10th and 11/180 held the other two sectors mentioned. They do not report all losses by the time they occurred but in each case the losses were also low for this day. 6 officers and men in the 10th Coy including one listed at 2 a.m., while the 11th Coy reported 6 men lost with 2 being at 7 p.m.

 

The patrols were sent out after darkness had fallen and patrolled NML for enemy activity, etc. The German batteries would have had the coordinates set for shelling the area in front of the German trenches, much in the same manner as the British using specific map coordinates. The assumption  of the raiding party being destroyed was similar to the accounts of massive German losses.

 

In looking at the descriptions used by both, they match up quite well in some cases while the 'unknown' as to losses will always be questionable. The losses reported by the Germans was entered into the VL, the Stammrolle and after the war into the regimental history.

 

The account of massive numbers of Germans dead or wounded in the dugouts was more for embellishment in my opinion as there is no evidence of any such losses.

 

I also found additional casualty details on Hornung, the man captured. He was shot in the face by an infantry projectile. Perhaps the story of killing one German but fortunately having another was simply that Hornung was actually both men in the story, the one shot and the one brought in.

Landesarchiv_Baden-Wuerttemberg_Hauptstaatsarchiv_Stuttgart_M_590_Hornung,_Emil_Bild_99_(1-2404885-99)a.jpg

Landesarchiv_Baden-Wuerttemberg_Hauptstaatsarchiv_Stuttgart_M_590_Hornung,_Emil_Bild_100_(1-2404885-100)a.jpg

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More on Hornung. Besides his wound it looks as if he also suffered an illness including influenza yet he made it home safely.

Landesarchiv_Baden-Wuerttemberg_Hauptstaatsarchiv_Stuttgart_M_590_Hornung,_Wilhelm_Bild_1_(1-2404886-1)a.jpg

Landesarchiv_Baden-Wuerttemberg_Hauptstaatsarchiv_Stuttgart_M_590_Hornung,_Wilhelm_Bild_3_(1-2404886-3)a.jpg

Landesarchiv_Baden-Wuerttemberg_Hauptstaatsarchiv_Stuttgart_M_590_Hornung,_Wilhelm_Bild_4_(1-2404886-4)a.jpg

Landesarchiv_Baden-Wuerttemberg_Hauptstaatsarchiv_Stuttgart_M_590_Hornung,_Wilhelm_Bild_5_(1-2404886-5)a.jpg

Landesarchiv_Baden-Wuerttemberg_Hauptstaatsarchiv_Stuttgart_M_590_Hornung,_Wilhelm_Bild_7_(1-2404886-7)a.jpg

Landesarchiv_Baden-Wuerttemberg_Hauptstaatsarchiv_Stuttgart_M_590_Hornung,_Wilhelm_Bild_8_(1-2404886-8)a.jpg

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Ralph,

Thanks for that reply. I must agree with what you say and you have found a few possible extra casualties to bridge the gap. Suprising how few casualties seem to have been caused by the British box barrage but I believe the Germans were particularly good at constructing deep and effective bunkers.

 

The same thought had even crossed my mind about Hornung's wounding ! He is the definite  link between the two tales.By the way did he survive? He was admitted to hospital 28/8/18 for influenza. I saw no note of repatriation but my German is zero.

 

Charlie

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Hello Charlie, He returned on 7 November 1919 to Germany. In regard to dugouts, they were quite extensive and deep as were the trenches.

 

Ralph

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Try this topic with comparisons from both British and German sources.

 

Andy

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German observation photo of Ovillers. Taken when the position was being developed by extending new saps and then connecting the head of each to form a front line. The village runs along the main road on the left of the photo. The target of the raid, Sector P5 is at the very top of the photo (D), just to the right of the center. The farthest sap on the right is Waldeck Sap (A), this sap head and the one to the left of it, Kronen Sap (B) are yet to be connected. The next sap to the left is the Kuhm Sap (C), followed by the Leichen Sap (D) and then the Baum Sap (E), Wittwer Sap (F), then the Krach Sap (G). The raid fell between the Kuhm Sap and Baum Sap.

Ralph

z.jpg

Edited by Ralph J. Whitehead
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Ralph,

I'm still having great difficulty reconciling the German account of their artillery work but I'm trying to remain objective:

 

1) If the German patrol that raised the alarm got back to their own line it would be normal for the equivalent of an 'SOS' lines shoot to be called for immediately, which would be meant to break up any impending attack. There is absolutely no mention of this in the British account and I cannot think why they would want to omit such an important point if they nevertheless pressed on and continued their raid ? Is it possible to find out at what time the German 'batteries in the rear' actually opened fire?

 

2)  I'm pretty sure we are talking about the same event and the ultimate confirmation must be to find the name of the man interrogated at British 'Bn headquarters'.

 

3) 'the majority of the raiding party was quickly destroyed in the accurate artillery fire'..   This sweeping statement sounds pretty dubious, whether they are talking about at the start of the raid or even about the return. If it was true then when the German patrols went out after it was over wouldn't they have expected to find a body or two? For whose benefit would it have been written?

 

4)  The only weakness I see in the British report is the potential for over-estimation of the number of casualties inflicted on the other side. Otherwise it is a highly detailed and plausible account.

 

5) The British plan seems to be based on taking a length of trench about 100 meters. How does this compare to length of a 'sector' eg P5 ?

 

Unless we find other accounts I'm not sure can get much further.

 

Charlie

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3) 'the majority of the raiding party was quickly destroyed in the accurate artillery fire'..   This sweeping statement sounds pretty dubious, whether they are talking about at the start of the raid or even about the return. If it was true then when the German patrols went out after it was over wouldn't they have expected to find a body or two? For whose benefit would it have been written?

I believe this was more a statement of guessing what happened to the raiders in the fire as the British left, they certainly would have found bodies if the men had been killed. Perhaps they discovered blood trails? Who knows.

 

5) The British plan seems to be based on taking a length of trench about 100 meters. How does this compare to length of a 'sector' eg P5 ?

Wish I could tell you but without some further checking and guess work that might not be known. As this is the only raid to hit IR 180 that night, we are talking about the same incident.

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