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Remembered Today:

Tank corps actions at the Battle of Pilkem


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Dear all,

Is there someone here who can provide more info on the actions of the Tank corps actions during the Battle of Pilkem ridge. I'm doing research on 2 gunners of the 21st Coy , D Bn. buried in Artillery Wood cemetery . Both killed on August the 2nd.

 

Thanks in advance,

Tom

www.battlefieldphotography.be 

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Tom

 

21 Coy was in G Bn.  D Bn was made up of 10, 11 and 12 Coys. 

 

21 Coy were in action on 31 July in support of 51 and 39 Divs. 12 tanks went in to action.  There is a good account of their efforts here: https://sites.google.com/site/landships/home/narratives/1917/3rdypresnarratives/3rdypresnarratives-byunit/21compnay31july1917  

 

19 Coy from G Bn were also in action on 31 July.

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Thanks for the info Gareth!

Going to try to get me a copy of the G Battalion War Diary. On 31st of July we'll do a blogpost on our website about the the battle of Pilkem. 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The book 'Passchendaele: The Untold Story' by Prior and Wilson describes the tank activity in the battles of the 1917 Flanders campaign including Pilckem. If you want to understand the wider context of this battle and the action of the tanks prior to Cambrai, it is well worth a read.

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There was some cross posting between D and G Battalions

What  are the names of the casualties?

 

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Thank you the advice Gardenerbill!

 

Hey Delta,

the names are Gunner D. MacCulloch 77524 and Gunner C.W.Edwards 70026 both died on the 2nd of August. 

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Tom

Thanks for the info

Sorry but can't find any link to D Battalion or D Company (its predecessor)

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  • 2 weeks later...

2Lt Browne (G46) of 21 Sect went on to write The Tank in Action, which includes 2 chapters on 31 July 1917, after the war.  Forgotten Books fairly recently reprinted it in its Classic Reprint series. 

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3 hours ago, Great Uncle Ted said:

2Lt Browne (G46) of 21 Sect went on to write The Tank in Action, which includes 2 chapters on 31 July 1917, after the war.  Forgotten Books fairly recently reprinted it in its Classic Reprint series. 

 

 

e-book available at:

 

https://archive.org/details/tankinaction00browrich

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On ‎24‎/‎07‎/‎2017 at 09:26, Battlefield Photography said:

Thank you the advice Gardenerbill!

 

Hey Delta,

the names are Gunner D. MacCulloch 77524 and Gunner C.W.Edwards 70026 both died on the 2nd of August. 

Gunner D McCulloch's name is recorded on his family gravestone in Kilbride Churchyard, Lerags, near Oban. the churchyard and associated site is cared for by Friends of Kilbride. Donald's 100th anniversary is , of course, today. His brother Sergeant Iain Hugh, Cameron Highlanders, KIA in 1915, is also recorded on that stone. Donald but not Hugh is also recorded on Oban War Memorial at Dunollie Point, Oban.  Liam Griffin Friends of Kilbride.

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7 hours ago, Liam Griffin said:

Gunner D McCulloch's name is recorded on his family gravestone in Kilbride Churchyard, Lerags, near Oban. the churchyard and associated site is cared for by Friends of Kilbride. Donald's 100th anniversary is , of course, today. His brother Sergeant Iain Hugh, Cameron Highlanders, KIA in 1915, is also recorded on that stone. Donald but not Hugh is also recorded on Oban War Memorial at Dunollie Point, Oban.  Liam Griffin Friends of Kilbride.

 

Liam,

 

Thanks for posting that, have you put the info on this Scottish War Memorial forum : http://warmemscot.s4.bizhat.com/ ?

 

It's also Robert Handley's 100th anniversary today. I posted a question about this forgotten tank man on July 16 : 

I've put my conclusions (right or wrong)  about McCulloch, Edwards, Littlejohns and Handley on the net today: https://goo.gl/q8jRZP

 

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That's a fine piece of research - most impressed

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Thank you.  I hope to post other pieces on the net in the coming weeks remembering the lives of other tank men from what is now the London Borough of Merton.  One more who died during Passchendaele and four at Cambrai.  I confess to knowing little about the battle of Cambrai at the moment.  I was hoping a new English language edition of the book "Following the Tanks" might appear soon.  Does any one have any news of this publication?

 

One of those the killed at Cambrai was Bertram Young.

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I understand from reading Gareth's posts that there is a delay in the republishing of  Following the Tanks

 

I would very interested to know more about any research into Bertram Young

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7 hours ago, Chris_B said:

Thank you.  I hope to post other pieces on the net in the coming weeks remembering the lives of other tank men from what is now the London Borough of Merton.  One more who died during Passchendaele and four at Cambrai.  I confess to knowing little about the battle of Cambrai at the moment.  I was hoping a new English language edition of the book "Following the Tanks" might appear soon.  Does any one have any news of this publication?

 

One of those the killed at Cambrai was Bertram Young.

 

From @johntaylor  here  "The latest news is that he and Jean-Luc Gibot are still aiming to get the revised version out in time for the centenary in November, so fingers crossed"

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Thanks you all for the interesting replies. The more I read about the actions of the Tanks the more intrigued I become. Will try to find more info about the tanks and their actions during the battle of the Menin road at the end of August and about the tank traps in that same area. 

 

I did a small remembrance post yesterday for the fallen gunners. Thanks for helping out everyone!

 

http://www.battlefieldphotography.be/blog/today-we-remember-gunners-macculloch-and-edwards-lest-we-forget

 

My best regards,

Tom

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On 02/08/2017 at 19:29, delta said:

I understand from reading Gareth's posts that there is a delay in the republishing of  Following the Tanks

 

I would very interested to know more about any research into Bertram Young

I'll keep in touch. It's early days and  I have just about finished compiling what family background I can find, and  thanks to you have a good appreciation of his part/expoilts in Sept. 1916.  There is also his brother, another MM winner, to follow up.on as I tend to try to look at families as a whole..

On 02/08/2017 at 19:32, Gareth Davies said:

 

From @johntaylor  here  "The latest news is that he and Jean-Luc Gibot are still aiming to get the revised version out in time for the centenary in November, so fingers crossed"

Thanks for the update.

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  • 3 months later...

For some reason I've only just stumbled on this thread, and wanted to add that I'm also very interested in any additional information you can provide on Pte Bertram John Young.  He's among the D Bn men killed on November 20, 1917, who we haven't so far linked to a particular tank, or even to a company.  I'm hoping that local newspapers in particular might shed some more light.

 

Regarding Following the Tanks, having spent the weekend in Cambrai with Philippe (as well as with Gareth and Stephen) I have to warn that there is no immediate prospect of Following the Tanks being republished.  Watch this space, as they say.

 

John  

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John, 

 

Stephen Pope's webiste http://www.firsttankcrews.com/tankcrewsd7d12.htm has ( had ? as it's offline at the moment) this:

 

September 1916

M2/1650 Pte Bertram Young ASC. Born 1879 New Hampton Middx. The eldest son of a licensed victualler John G Young; in 91 his family were living in Hounslow Rd, Bedfont near Staines. Young was temporarily blinded during the action but recovered and drove the tank back to the rally point. Awarded MM for his actions which included driving for 10 hrs using only the brakes and gears.  He continued to serve with D Coy and then rebadged to the MGC as Pte 75073.  He served with D Bn and was Killed In Action (aged 38) on 20 Nov 17, probably whilst D Bn was attacking the western side of Flesquières. His grave site is not known but he is commemorated at the Louveral memorial, his next of kin being this mother, Martha Young, of 25 Oxford Avenue, Merton Park, Surrey

D8 (No 720 - Male). 
Tasked to move along NZ Divisions left flank to Factory Corner, a location to the northwest of Flers and a major enemy position.  The tank was damaged as it moved up to the start point; its steering wheels were useless, but 2Lt George Bown pressed on and had caught up with the infantry at their first objective (Switch Trench) by 07.05 hrs.  At 07.20 hrs, the tank moved forward, as the creeping barrage resumed its forward progress, and supported the NZ troops for the rest of the day.  It reached the third objective, northwest of Flers, and in so doing, not only providing support to his own Div but also 47th Div to his west near High Wood. As this put pressure on the German units in the area, especially in the Switch Line trench.  Bown’s tank was soon targeted by enemy artillery and both he, and his ASC driver (Pte BJ Young), were temporarily blinded by glass fragments from the tank’s shattered vision prisms. At 14.50 hrs, orders were received for the infantry to consolidate on the third objective; at 15.30 hrs, a further order was given for attacks to crease until the following day and for the tanks to return to their base. Accordingly Bown, who had recovered his vision, headed south in Coy with D16 and D18. The tank was in action some 20 hrs
 

He is of interest to me because of my involvement with this project https://cis.photoarchive.merton.gov.uk/   Someone has made an entry for him here: 

 

https://cis.photoarchive.merton.gov.uk/entity/201284-private-bertram-john-young-mm

 

The family information is mostly correct, but not necessarily complete.  The military detail is rather lacking.  

 

I have not found any obit for either brother in the Wimbledon Boro' News 

 

Their is no Soldier's Will for Bertram Young, but there is a probate record in his name. 

 

 

Edited by Chris_B
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Bertram’s younger brother was called Thomas. He initially served with the East Surreys and won a MM on the same day as Bertram  (15 September 1916) near Flers working as a stretcher bearer. He was subsequently commissioned and was serving with 1st Middx when he was KIA on   24 Sep 1917.  He is commemorated at Tyne Cot

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Hi Chris, I would be very interested to know if any more information turns up in future.  I've made a detailed study of D Bn at Cambrai, but there are still a number of casualties who we can't assign to any particular tank, or (in this case) even to a company.  Of course the only definite answer is if the family has kept the letter of condolence sent by his tank commander and/or section commander. Otherwise local newspapers sometimes contain enough information to make a calculated guess.

 

In this case, the search goes on!

 

John

 

 

 

 

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I endorse John's request.

Anything anyone can tell about D Bn  please share it.

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1 hour ago, johntaylor said:

Hi Chris, I would be very interested to know if any more information turns up in future.  I've made a detailed study of D Bn at Cambrai, but there are still a number of casualties who we can't assign to any particular tank, or (in this case) even to a company.  Of course the only definite answer is if the family has kept the letter of condolence sent by his tank commander and/or section commander. Otherwise local newspapers sometimes contain enough information to make a calculated guess.

 

In this case, the search goes on!

 

John

 

 

 

 

 

John,

 

Fifty years ago I lived a short walk from St.Mary’s Merton where the two Young brothers are named on the memorial in the Church and their parents and one sister were buried.

 

The Wimbledon ‘Boro News, like many local papers, was rather selective as to which obituaries they included in the pages of the paper often basing their reports on those previously published in local Church magazines. It’s a long shot, but there just might be such a magazine collecting dust at the Surrey History Centre at Woking. Otherwise, I don’t expect to find out any more about Bertram Young MM.

 

I did make an attempt to trace the family history, he was oldest of seven siblings and his brother Thomas was 15 years younger. Another brother William George Rayner Young died in 1942, but I was unable to trace if he served in the Great War.

 

The Great War Years were bleak for the Young family, Bertram’s mother was widowed in 1915 and she had lost two sons by 1917. One of Betram’s sisters was widowed 1918, she passed away herself at a relatively young age in 1922. There are descendants out there somewhere as another sister had several children.

 

One further tragic note, his sister Sarah married Edward James Westnedge in 1915. One of their childern was named after the brother she had lost – Bertram James Westnedge, born 1923. He was killed at Cassino in 1944.

 

 

P.S. Your book is on my Xmas list.

 

 

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