Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
laughton

Caterpillar Valley Cemetery Case #5: Second Lieutenant of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade

Recommended Posts

laughton

The main topic for this cemetery is here, so this becomes Case #4:

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/263593-caterpillar-valley-cemetery-longueval/

 

Quote

 

There may be a Case #5 if the Second Lieutenant of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade (all 3rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade) can be narrowed down by the date and the location. There are two (2) unknown in October 1916 and one (1) two weeks earlier (CWGC Link) on 15 September 1916. The remains were found at 57c.S.11.b.1.8, which is about 650 yards northwest of Deville Wood (McMaster Map [Bapaume] 57c).

 

I would have to get my hands on the war diary.

 

If we check some of the men of the unit in the cemetery, we have Private Thompson (4th Bn., 3rd NZRB) at 57c.S.5.c.1.5 (COG-BR 2460211) on 15 September 1916. Private Candton, same battalion and date, was in close proximity. The two men of the 3rd Battalion 3rd Brigade were KIA on 29 September 1916. Rfn. Twigger was recovered from 57c.M.35.d.9.5 (COG-BR 2133417), as was Rfn. Curry on the same document. That area is due west of Flers, about 1,300 yards north of where the remains of the 2nd Lieutenant was found north of the woods. That would suggest the battalion was heading north, meaning that the Second Lieutenant is Robert Daniel Norrie. That would need to be confirmed from the war diary.

 

 

CLARK

Second Lieutenant

25/17

REGINALD CRAGO

Wednesday, October 4, 1916

CATERPILLAR VALLEY (NEW ZEALAND) MEMORIAL

VIEW RECORD

3rd Bn. 3rd 

New Zealand Rifle Brigade

FERGUSON

Second Lieutenant

23/972

EWAN CAMERON

Monday, October 2, 1916

CATERPILLAR VALLEY (NEW ZEALAND) MEMORIAL

VIEW RECORD

3rd Bn. 3rd 

New Zealand Rifle Brigade

NORRIE

Second Lieutenant

24/1151

ROBERT DANIEL

Friday, September 15, 1916

CATERPILLAR VALLEY (NEW ZEALAND) MEMORIAL

VIEW RECORD

"B" Coy 3rd Bn. 3rd 

New Zealand Rifle Brigade

 

COG-BR 1980651 Grave 15.D.19

doc1980651.JPG

 

I am trying to find some more men of the 3rd Battalion 3rd Brigade but I have yet to figure that out,as any search for 3rd Battalion also gives the 3rd Brigade in any battalion. Here is how they are named on the Long, Long Trail. Something wrong there as it has a brigade in a brigade .... back later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

Looks like this might help:

 

THE OFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE NEW ZEALAND RIFLE BRIGADE

 

but I am not having much luck to get any of the links to work!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

These are the personnel files of the three Second Lieutenants. It is easier and faster to read if you click "Derivative Copy" in lower left corner), which downloads the document to the viewer.

 

There are two (2) sets of documents for each person. The first appears to be the Service Record and the second the History Sheet, but repetitive.

So far it appears that there are no online versions of the war diaries. It appears that the Battle of the Somme did not start for the New Zealand forces until 15 September 1916 (this link), so very much a parallel to the Canadians.

 

That link does provide some information of value, as it has a diary of Corporal Duthie of the 3rd Bn NZRB for that period:

  • Fricourt Wood is in the northeast corner of map 62d [Corbie] Sectors F3 and F4
  • that means they were moving to the trenches from the SW to the NE
  • they went to Seaforth and Rifle trenches to the right of HIgh Wood, map 57c [Bapaume] Sector S4
  • attacked Flers on the 15th so moving NE towards 57c.M.36

That would mean that the 3rd Bn NZRB was in the Flers area on the 15th. I still don't know where they were in early October. The UNKNOWN 2nd Lt was south of High Wood, perhaps a burial location and not a front line battlefield burial?

13-14th-sept-e-d-duthie-white.jpg

15th-sept-e-d-duthie-white.jpg

17-20th-sept-e-d-duthie-white.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

Found this one:

 

THE NEW ZEALAND DIVISION 1916 - 1919: A POPULAR HISTORY BASED ON OFFICIAL RECORDS

 

CHAPTER III — THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME, 1916

 

my comments added

 

Quote

On the following day (that would be September 10th) and night the Rifles relieved a brigade of the 55th Division towards Delvone Wood and a portion of the 1st Division on the left nearer High Wood. The lst1 and 4th Battalions went into the advanced trenches, and the 2nd and 3rd2 into the old German Second Line (Carlton and Savoy) in rear, where the dugouts were ston full of German dead. Brigade Headquarters occupied a cellar in Bazentin-le-Grand.

Quote

On the 10th (Sunday), after a joint service by the 2 sister battalions of each regiment, the 1st and 2nd Brigades marched up to the rear of the battle area. The 1st Brigads went to Fricourt, the 2nd to Fricourt Wood and Mametz Wood, where they lay in bivouac among the trees ton the morning of the 12th. 

Quote

In the forthcoming battle the Corps objectives were 4 in number, marked in accordance with custom in different tints on the maps and referred to by these colours; firstly the seizure of the Switch Trench with the intermediate defences on the crest (the Green Line); secondly the establishment of a Brown Line in German trenches on the far slopes; thirdly the passage of the Flers System, the capyure of Flers village and the consolidation of a Blue Line in front of it; and lastly the carrying of Gueudecourt and establishment of a protective Red Line beyond it, 

Quote

The first 3 objectives set before the New Zealand Division, the Green, Brown, and Blue Lines, lay square to its front, but its section of the Red line, forming as it did the Corps' north-western flank ran across its front diagonally. The left of the Red Line thus coincided with the left of the Blue in the Abbey road which ran from Flers to Eaucourt I' Abbaye, and the area to be secured in the final advance was roughly triangular. For the actual Red Line, which would mark the limit of advance and cover the exposed left flank of the Corps, there was conveniently situated a strip of high ground which extended back towards a sugar factory halfway between Flers and Ligny Thonoy. Along this high ground lay the important trench called Grove Alley which connected the Flers and Gird systems, and just beyond it was a shallow valley down which the North Road led to the Factory. The ridge on the other side of the depression simi1arly had a communication trench along its crest called Goose Alley. Both Alleys were to be scenes of epic fighting, but for the present attack the high ground about Grove Alley was selected as the final objective.

Quote

The hour of attack had been fixed for 6.20 a.m. on the 15th. Before midnight the troops were all in position. Each man was in light fighting order.

Quote

On the left, with the 3rd Battalion, progress was much less marked. As no barrage accompanied this stage of the attack, it was most desirable that the wire in front of the Flers System should be found well broken. It was a matter, therefore, of grave anxiety to the 3rd Battalion troops to find themselves confronted by a practically intact barrier of rusty entanglements. Machine guns and rifles chattered from the trench beyond, and it was obvious that their hope of surmounting the barrier of Flers Trench without trouble was doomed to disappointment.

 

Then we jump forward to the October period:

 

Quote

On the night 28th/29th the 1st Infantry Brigade said farewell to the Somme front line trenches and marched back, 2 battalions to Savoy and Carlton Trenches, and 2 to Mametz Wood.

Quote

The recent progress made had brought the III. Corps within striking distance of Eaucourt I'Abbaye (that is now well to the north in Sector 57c.M.23, southeast of Le Sars and northwest of Gueudecourt) and a further attack was proposed for 1st October with a view to its capture.

Quote

On the following night (2nd/3rd), as the 3rd Rifles toiled at the new trenches, the remainder of the Rifle Brigade took over the line. Rain was now falling in torrents, the trenches were knee-deep in mud, and relief was not competed till dawn. The 3rd Battalion extended its left, the 4th Battalion went into the centre, and the 1st took over the left in front of Eaucourt I'Abbaye from 2nd Otago arid 2nd Wellington.

 

And some closing remarks of interest to the troops ...

Quote

“The New Zealand Divison has fought with the greatest gallantry in the Somme battle for 23 consecutive days, carrying out with complete success every task set and always doing more than was asked of it. The Division has won universal confidence and admiration. No praise can be too high for such troops.”

 

This leaves little doubt that 2nd Lieutenants Fergusson and Norrie were well past the area of High Wood and Flers when they paid the ultimate sacrifice.

 

(but I would still like this confirmation from the war diaries!)

Edited by laughton
finished post

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

.... and then I remembered that Roger ("jacksdad") had come to my rescue before when we were looking at McHarg (this topic)

 

There were two topics about the New Zealand War Diaries and also the link to the ones in the Australian War Memorial collection, so let me list these 3 sources:

  1. circa 2015: https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/233173-new-zealand-on-line-war-diaries/
  2. circa 2017: https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/250503-new-zealand-war-diaries/
  3. AWM4 Class 35 - New Zealand Units (War Diaries)
    • this post #13 by JeffMcN is important in regards to those diaries:
      Quote

      Thanks for the link page.  However, it only covers NZ units while they were part of the original ANZAC Division, before the creation of the separate NZ Division in 1916. 

       

      As an aside and for completeness, watch out for the reorganisation of the NZ Division's 1st and 2nd Brigades in January 1917.  Before then, both Brigades had a battalion each of the four provincial regiments:  1st Bde (1st Auckland, 1st Wellington, 1st Canterbury, 1st Otago) and similar for 2nd.  In January 1917 the battalions were  reorganised to have both battalions of a regiment in the same brigade:  1st Bde (1 & 2 Auckland, 1 & 2 Wellington; 2nd Bde (1 & 2 Canterbury, 1 & 2 Otago).  3rd (Rifle) Brigade remained unchanged, while the short-lived 4th Brigade had a battalion of each province (3 Auckland, 3 Wellington...) 

So they end in April 1916 for the 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade - drats!

 

Time to send out a call to ROGER! @jacksdad

Edited by laughton
added link for McHarg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

The maps to go along with the descriptions:

 

The Overall Area

bpxsrf2xtc1i78l6g.jpg

 

The Locations in September 1916

iay1uwj2lnb0qfn6g.jpg

 

Then they moved north to the area between Flers and Eaucourt l'Abbaye

xxmr9rfykp5shkv6g.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

For the record, I did check the 4 Second Lieutenants on the Grevillers (New Zealand) Memorial from the March-April 1918 German Offensive (CWGC Link).

 

They were not in the area where the remains were recovered:

These areas are all on Map 57d and the remains are on 57c.

Edited by laughton
typo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Herekawe

Hi

 

I have walked over this ground several times over the years following the activities of the NZ Div.

 

The point on the map where the remains were found is more or less in the area of the initial advance by the NZers, next to the track, in front of the jumping off trenches  where they advanced on a front of about 900m ( I think am doing this from memory!). The track (then track now road) goes up to where the NZ Memorial which is on the ridge line between Crest and Switch Trench on your map by the "5" where the road divides. I think you have correctly located one end of  Switch Trench it goes across and up to the NZ Memorial and then goes as far as High Wood. The track is the main access to the memorial and is still there, it was I believe the way the tanks moved up, the track goes diagonally across the middle of the NZ advance. After a pause the NZ Div then continued on down to the left of  Flers which was not a NZ objective, but as the village was still contested the NZ officers on the spot spread their men out and included the village in their objective, as if you look at the ground the village slightly overlooks the blue and red lines. While the NZers got to the red line they were well in advance of the 47th (on their left)  and 41st (on their right) divisions and prudently fell back on Flers.

 

The 41st and other divisions moved up on the right of the NZers, over the next few days, so the main attack then swung towards the left, towards the E le Abbaye and the remainder of the NZ time here was spent pushing west and north towards the D929. As per your notes the NZers then moved out of the line early October.

 

The area between High and Delville Woods, the ridge top where the NZ Memorial is would have seen a lot of traffic and no doubt was kept under fire by the Germans and would have been a dangerous trip back across the ridge, despite the digging of communication trenches. The ridge is exposed to view to German held areas further back, with a pair of field glasses the NZ memorial is visible for a long way, even from the Newfoundland Caribou at Gueudecourt.

 

The other interesting point about this attack particularly on the 15th is that the tanks were very helpful to the NZ advance and holding Flers. While it is popular in some quarters to minimize their contribution when the NZ Div was held up in front of Flers the tanks smashed the German wire and allowed the advance to continue, then one stayed to help hold the village.

 

Not sure how the remains ended up there but several NZ soldiers - not necessarily killed in this area are interred at Thistle Dump which was I believe on the main route back over ridge.

 

Cheers

 

James

Edited by Herekawe
add a bit and checked a map

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

Thanks for that input James! It certainly helps when someone has been to the area and walked the line. Do you have any sketches of where the Green, Brown, Blue, Red lines were located at that time?

 

I took another look back at the COG-BR documents to see what other NZers were recovered in the vicinity of the 2nd Lt. A group was recovered in the 57.c.S.11.b sector with a number identified by name and thus date of death (COG-BR 1980639). Lt. Arthur Penfold Castle is in that group, KIA 15 September 1916, as were L/Cpl Claude Roberts, Pte Donald Brown and Pte Pita Tiatoa. There are a number on the following page and elsewhere, with many also in sector 57c.S.11.a. Interspersed within them are a few men that fell in March or August 1918, when the woods were lost and then retaken (but none of those are NZers).

 

doc1980639.JPG

 

I next went and looked at those of the NZRB that were lost in the first week of October 1916 and that provided some interesting results. For example, Riflemen James and Cross, both lost on 1 October 1916 are buried in the Canadian Cemetery No. 2, Neuville St. Vaast and were recovered at 57c.N.19.b.55.65, north of Factory Corner at Gueudecourt (COG-BR 1979955). Rifleman James Hume Steele of the 3rd Bn 3rd NZRB (age 45!) was similarly found in that area and buried in the Grass Lane Cemetery (A.I.F. Burial Ground) after concentration (COG-BR 1964570). Rifleman Douglas Algernon Plummer was found at 57c.M.30 (COG-BR 1964545), although his CWGC record is all mixed up (I will let them know).

 

Hopefully the war diary refers to their precise location and if lucky by name.

Edited by laughton
added full names, COG-BR names not correct

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Herekawe

Hi

 

I do but not with me. 15th Sept was a large attack and i am sure on the internet there will be a copy of the map with objectives on it. You actually need to see the whole map for the corp/army because if you just look at the NZ map it looks like a wedge, the further it goes the narrower it gets, it makes no sense until you see the whole map, the area taken by the NZ Div seems to form the left flank of the attack.

 

In the NZ sector Green Line is basically Switch Trench - just past by about 100m.

 

2nd Otago and 2nd Auckland launched the attack and their objective was Switch Trench.

 

Then the Rifle Brigade leap frogged them and attacked Brown Line, Blue Line and Red Line in turn, growing more confused as they went and the salient narrowed. Although the plan as I said above was for the NZ Div to occupy a wedge shaped piece of land, even pulling back from the Red Line which formed the apex back to Flers, then occupying Flers and protecting their flanks by the end of the day the territory occupied by the NZ Div resembled more of a mushroom with little support on either flank.

 

Some of those NZRB were certainly buried a long way from the Somme.

 

James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton
4 hours ago, Herekawe said:

Some of those NZRB were certainly buried a long way from the Somme.

 

When they concentrated graves, they used the cemeteries that were OPEN for concentrations, it did not matter if they were close to their pals or the area where they were located. Many objected to that practice at the time, but they did what they had to do for expediency. This applied manily after the armistice when the large battlefields were cleared.

 

I do have the overall maps of the battle on the 15th, as that was really the first day for the Canadians as well. I am looking for very specific trench map coordinates, if I can find them.

 

Thanks so much for your assistance! :D

 

This is a good overall view: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/somme-battles-1916-map

 

I take this as very simplified, knowing the detail that we have on the Canadians battling through their area west and north of Courcelette.

 

somme-battles-1000.jpg?itok=RbiIAB-K

Edited by laughton

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Herekawe

Hi

 

Is this any use?

 

I have taken the standard trench map and copied onto it the objectives and divisional boundaries.

 

Quite faint now unfortunately the rectangle with cross is the NZ memorial - however I think it is not quite in the correct place should be a little further up.

 

The colours are not quite right either, brown line is the second objective and red line the 4th objective seem to have faded,

 

James

Sept 15th 2016 Objectives.pdf

Edited by Herekawe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

Perfect!

 

I took out the main section and marked the points of interest. I don't see the "rectangle with cross" but I have marked the location of the "Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial".

 

It appears that for the colours on this map versus the text description above, it is necessary to exchange the red and brown line labels.

 

If the NZ  ------- line is the "jump off" location, that appears where the Unknown Second Lieutenant was KIA.

 

For the record, I should have also included the links to the GRRF and HD-SCHD that showed the CWGC kept this man listed as an UNKNOWN 2nd Lt. of the NZRB.

i7w7988u99h8q956g.jpg

Edited by laughton
S.16 not S.15

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dickaren
1 hour ago, laughton said:

Perfect!

 

I took out the main section and marked the points of interest. I don't see the "rectangle with cross" but I have marked the location of the "Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial".

 

It appears that for the colours on this map versus the text description above, it is necessary to exchange the red and brown line labels.

 

If the NZ  ------- line is the "jump off" location, that appears where the Unknown Second Lieutenant was KIA.

 

For the record, I should have also included the links to the GRRF and HD-SCHD that showed the CWGC kept this man listed as an UNKNOWN 2nd Lt. of the NZRB.

i7w7988u99h8q956g.jpg

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dickaren

Hi Richard,

Slight mix up in memorials. The New Zealand Memorial (cross in a rectangle) is directly north of where the remains were found just below the figure 5. The New Zealand missing memorial is where you indicate it in Caterpillar Valley Cemetery.

regards

Richard

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

I figured there had to be another MEMORIAL that the Canuck was not familiar with! Thanks for the lesson.

 

I found the 1921 New Zealand Division history in an e-pub version, which is much easier to read (this link). It opened nicely in my "Adobe Digital Editions" (freeware). At page 199 of 775 it would appear that they start to tell of the action that happened on and after 1 October 1916, the time that the other two UNKNOWN Second Lieutenants were killed. The author did not do a great job of mentioning the dates in his book.

 

We pick up on the 3rd New Zealand Rifle Battalion on page 204, where it reports that an officer and 15 men were killed. Coincidence or fact, that is the same number on the CWGC database for 2 October 1916 (CWGC Link). The Officer was Second Lieutenant Ewan Cameron Ferguson, one of the three UNKNOWNS in our initial list.

 

edyqix4tawjpugi6g.jpg

 

Within the list of the 15 men killed, we can extract the record for Rifleman Curry 25/533 of "C" Coy whose remains in Beaulencourt British Cemetery were recovered from 57c.N.14.c.6.4 (COG-BR 2118167). We have already recorded Rifleman Plummer recovered at  57c.M.30 (COG-BR 1964545).

 

We don't know as much about Second Lieutenant Clark, as the two other men of the 3rd Rifles Battalion who died on 4 October 1916 appear to have died of wounds. One close by at a Casualty Clearing Station and the other at the hospital in Etaples. They were probably casualties from an earlier period.

 

The evidence to date still all points to the UNKNOWN as Second Lieutenant Norrie, killed in action as he left the jumping off point just north of Tea Trench, on the main path up to Crest and Switch trenches.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Herekawe

Hi

 

I drew this map myself in 2013 before going to the Somme and it has traveled with me since, so any mistakes are mine, I had a limited range of colored pencils!

 

The faint dotted line across the NZ advance, just by the jumping off trenches, represents I think where the attackers formed up having got out of their trenches and formed up in no mans land before attacking the first trench Crest trench before going on to Switch Trench. I think I got that information for Peter Pedersen's "ANZACS ON THE WESTERN FRONT"  the must have guide book in my view for Australians and NZers.

 

Where I have marked the NZ Memorial to the Somme Battle will be within 50 meters of the actual spot but my square is much bigger than the site of the memorial itself, although I was there again the other day and they have made a little memorial glade on the Flers side with a map board which I think I took a photo of which overlooks the NZ activity with little arrows pointing out the various attacks.

 

Cheers

Edited by Herekawe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Herekawe

Hi

 

This picture is from 2014. So I am standing on the track about where I think the NZ start line is for Sept 1916 and at the top of the hill on the ridge is the NZ Memorial.

 

So possibly the remains were found around here, assuming the track is in exactly the same spot which looking at maps over the years it must be close.

 

Probably a bit further up the track on the RHS.

 

James

 

 

NZ Memorial from Start Line 463.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Herekawe

And a couple from this year.

 

 Firstly standing on the monument looking back down to Longueval with Delville Wood on the LHS.

Secondly on the opposite side of the monument, looking over the hedge which surrounds it, the area of the NZ advance. Flers in the trees on the right, its water tower is on Abbey Road (?) which is just short of the Blue Line. The steel map board in front outlines the progress of the whole NZ Div during its period in this area. I assume - I have not had time to look at all these photos closely - that the D929 must be just visible on the left hand side?

 

That clump or small line of tall trees in the second photo right in the middle is on top of Goose Alley so by the 25th Sept the NZers were attacking from the direction of Flers to Goose Alley so at 90 degrees to the line of the original attack.

 

Someone more familiar with the area may come along but the clump of trees on the left is I think Eaucourt l Abbaye or the woods around it.

 

Cheers


 

665.JPG

668.JPG

Edited by Herekawe
add a bit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
laughton

I checked out the location of the Memorial and here are the coordinates:

 

GPS 50° 2'22.18"N 2°48'5.53"E or 50.0395, 2.8015

 

TMC 57c.S.5.d.1.7

 

It would appear that they strategically selected the Y in the roads as the place for the memorial. I see on Google Earth that there is another cemetery due west of the memorial on the west side of High Wood - that would be London Cemetery and Extension. Not far from Caterpillar Valley Cemetery is Thistle Dump Cemetery, High Wood. I will check all these to see if the other UNKNOWN 2nd Lieutenants can be found. It is also possible they are the "Unnamed Officers" in Caterpillar. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Herekawe

Not strictly relevant but the original memorial was a large wooden cross at Factory Road Corner.

 

Here is the plan for the current memorial in its original form as a roundabout. Other roads never got built.

 

Good luck with your searching.

 

James

 

post-51535-037607400 1290105816.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ken Lees

 

 

Map of the objectives for 15th September, 1916. 

Flers Map 15-09-16.jpg

Edited by Ken Lees
Uploaded a better map

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...