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sneakyimp

Most vivid accounts of assaulting an enemy trench?

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sneakyimp

I was wondering if you generous folks might suggest your favorite, most vivid accounts of the experience of assaulting an enemy trench. I'm especially interested in accounts that describe emotions or peculiar personal anecdotes -- memorable moments and such. 'Storm of Steel' by Ernst Juger has a very interesting account of a German advance during the 1918 Spring Offensive. I used to enjoy the IWM podcasts ( http://www.1914.org/podcasts/ ) but these have apparently been removed/retired, presumably to make way for Dan Snow's segment on the BBC: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03t7p9l/episodes/downloads

 

 

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BIFFO

?

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Black Maria
Posted (edited)

One that stands out for me is Patrick Macgill's description of going over the top at Loos , in his book ' The Great Push' .

Edited by Black Maria

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seaJane

David Jones's recollection of Mametz from In Parenthesis for me; may be to sparing of the concrete detail for some, but it gets the feel of the thing over for me. Bearing in mind that I have nothing in my real life with which to compare it.

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sneakyimp
Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Black Maria said:

One that stands out for me is Patrick Macgill's description of going over the top at Loos , I his book ' The Great Push' .

 

Thank you for the suggestion. I see that this book is available free from Project Gutenberg. Am I correct in understanding this was published in 1916? (MCMXVI)

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/54871/54871-h/54871-h.htm

Edited by sneakyimp
add gutenberg link

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sneakyimp
15 minutes ago, seaJane said:

David Jones's recollection of Mametz from In Parenthesis for me; may be to sparing of the concrete detail for some, but it gets the feel of the thing over for me. Bearing in mind that I have nothing in my real life with which to compare it.

 

A an epic poem?! How interesting. Looks like this one is freely available on archive.org: https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.13580

 

Also paperbacks on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Parenthesis-New-York-Review-Books/dp/1590170369/

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seaJane
1 hour ago, sneakyimp said:

Looks like this one is freely available on archive.org:

Wonder if Faber know that - it's still in copyright ... but definitely worth a read (I bought mine from a bookshop in Aberystwyth).

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Black Maria
7 hours ago, sneakyimp said:

 

Thank you for the suggestion. I see that this book is available free from Project Gutenberg. Am I correct in understanding this was published in 1916? (MCMXVI)

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/54871/54871-h/54871-h.htm

Yes that's right, the first edition was published in 1916 . It was quite a popular book at the time and I think there were quite a few subsequent printings .

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Skipman

I always found this a very interesting, and well-written account by Private William Reginald Dick, of the 2/6th Gloucestershire Regiment though are being assaulted, rather than assaulting.

 

La Vacquerie

 

Mike

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Skipman

Evening Telegraph and Post  5/10/1915 Clearing the German Trenches. Fife Man's Fight with Bayonet-Sgt David Anderson, 6 Blackhall Terrace, Kelty, writing to his wife, gives an account of the great battle which began on the 25th September. Sgt Anderson has had a long experience as a soldier, having gone throughout the whole of the Boer War. He writes-

 

" All day long I have been writing letters to the wives and mothers and sweethearts of the brave lads of my platoon who fell on the 25th September, in that terrible yet, grand fight of ours, and how we cleared six German trenches in record time. We got the order to get over the parapet, and over we went and made for the German front line. We were in their trench before they knew we were started, and we got to work with the bayonet straight away. In about ten minutes the first trench was cleared, and off we went to the next. again we let the Germans see how we could use the bayonet. It took us about two hours to clear the six German trenches. One German and I had a fight for about five minutes. at home they talk about excitement; it is only a drop of water compared with a fight to the death. That chap and I jumped around one another. He got his bayonet through my kilt, and before he got it out I had him through the arm. But we went at it again, until after some manœuvring I got him just below the ribs, and I can tell you he got it full length. He had one of these saw bayonets, and I did not show him any mercy. I tell you it was a rattling five minutes, and will live in my memory until I die. Most of our bayonet work was with Germans on the run, and they got it in the back, but that fellow stood his ground until he fell. If we can't do anything else we can use the bayonet. " Sgt David Anderson belongs to Dundee, although he has lived in Kelty for a number of years. "

 

Mike

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brianmorris547

The account of the attack on the Intermediate Line by 10 Bn Loyal North Lancs on 11/08/1916 always sticks in my mind. The report is in the Unit WD (WO 95/2538/1) which can be found on Ancestry in Browse under Loyal North Lancashire - 37 Div. The men were mostly from Bolton. 

Brian 

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Uncle George

The attached is part of an account of a trench raid from Frederic Manning’s autobiographical novel ‘The Middle Parts of Fortune’ (1929):

52F8B8FE-A3AD-4465-8244-3B662E04C874.jpeg

44147A4E-E900-4CF4-8F9C-7FD0ED8611DE.jpeg

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Black Maria

In volume one of  'The Great War ...I was there ! ' ( p.211 ) Pte Polley of the 2nd Bedfordshire Regt describes bayonet charging a German trench

during the First Battle of Ypres . " Clearly we could now see the enemy infantry , and a thing that particularly struck me just then was that their

bayonets looked very cruel. The Germans wore cloth covered brass helmets , and through the cloth we could see the gleam of the brass in the

sunshine.....". He then goes on to describe the close quarter fighting when his unit reached the German trench.

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Michael Thomson

Some rough stuff in these accounts no doubt...

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Steven Broomfield

Roly Grimshaw, in his diary Indian Cavalry Officer 1914-15, describes a counter-attack by his regiment (34th Poona Horse) on a piece of trench. It was the action in which Frank de Pass won his VC and in which Grimshaw was himself wounded. Nicely encapsulates the confusion and ad hoc nature of the 1914 period.

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BullerTurner

Henry Williamson's accounts of such events are good - although how much is his first hand experience and how much comes from contemporaneous sharing is an issue.  However there is a lot of top class description and authenticity in accounts of a raid before the Somme and of operations before and after, offensive AND defensive.

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sneakyimp

Thank you, folks.

 

On 29/06/2019 at 00:17, Skipman said:

I always found this a very interesting, and well-written account by Private William Reginald Dick, of the 2/6th Gloucestershire Regiment though are being assaulted, rather than assaulting.

 

La Vacquerie

 

Mike

Wow! Great detail and atmosphere in this account.

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