Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

JohnC

Tank Wrecks, Gommecourt-Bucquoy Area, 1918

Recommended Posts

JohnC

I have the fragment of a German trench map which shows the location of tank wrecks behind British lines to the east of Gommecourt. Three locations show a single tank and the fourth (southmost) indicates multiple tanks. I believe the map shows the front line as it was settling down consequent to Operation Michael, so late March 1918 onwards. The tactical markings are from the 5th Bavarian Infantry Division, which was active in this sector from 21st March to 8th August, including at Bucquoy on 26th March. (The map is provenanced to an officer of the division's minenwerfer company). I believe therefore that the trench overlay, including the tanks, was printed not too long after late March 1918.

Due to the map being cut I can't read the German coordinates but the wrecks are located in squares K 5 & 6 of British map 57DNE Ed5e (local). This map shows a Tank Trench at one of the wreck sites.

I can't find any references to tank actions in this area from which the wrecks would have resulted (including the excellent Landships website). Can anyone help me to identify them please?

Thanks,

John

IMG_4885.JPG

IMG_4886.JPG

IMG_4887.JPG

IMG_4888.JPG

IMG_4889.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
delta

Thanks for sharing.

I thought that tank action in March was south of the Ancre but will recheck,

It is just possible that the tank hulks were the remains of tanks used by C Company in the Nov 1916 attacks

Edited by delta

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JohnC

Thank you Delta. I was focussing on 1918, and I did find some tank action in this area at the time of Operation Michael, but nothing that corresponded to the locations of the hulks. It never occured to me to look back to 1916.

Regards, John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
delta

Most welcome 

Would you be willing to send copies of your scans to my email address 

Firsttankcrews@outlook.com 

 

Stephen Pope 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JohnC

On their way...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
delta

John

 

Have looked carefully and the locations of the hulks do NOT link to the 1916 actions as recorded.

Nor can I put forward a plausible explanation of their being in place before 1918.

An interesting conundrum for furthee research. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JohnC

Thanks for your help Stephen.

I wonder if these wrecks are necessarily battle related? This area was several miles behind allied lines for a year, from the German retreat to the Hindenburg line in March 1917 to their spring offensive of March 1918. I think there was a big tank park nearby, at Achiet. I wonder if they had some training purpose, perhaps time-expired vehicles used for unditching practice, firefighting drills etc? Just a thought.

I wonder if any of the forum's battlefield walkers know of tank relics being found in this area?

J

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Colin W Taylor

Looking at the trench maps on Linesman the earliest map with Tank Trench is dated 22 May 18.   I've come across several cases where tanks were used in small groups to blunt or counterattack German attacks in March 1918.  There is mention of four tanks being used to support 5th KOYLI counter-attacking Rossignol Wood on 27 March but I'm not aware of which company/battalion they might belong to (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5th_Battalion,_King's_Own_Yorkshire_Light_Infantry).

 

A quick search of the CWGC shows a set of six Tank Corps soldiers buried near Hebuterne who were concentrated from burials near Gommecourt. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/590210/male,-francis-charles/#&gid=null&pid=1

 

However, CWGC has them killed on 26 May 1918 - 10th Bn Tank Corps might be a good war diary to check. I regret I don't have a copy.

 

I hope this helps

 

Regards

 

Colin 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AOK4

Hello,

 

The handwritten regimental sectors refer to the infantry units of 5th Bavarian Infantry Division. They were in the area late March 1918.

 

BTW, the German trench coordinates are on your map (a combination of two numbers for the vertical square and two for the horizontal).

 

Jan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Keith Brannen

Don't know how helpful this is, but it does show that tanks were in use in the area in March 1918 (just to the east of Bucquoy).

 

From the 42nd Division history:

Towards midday [March 25th] the situation about Bihucourt on the right of the divisional front having become critical, the Tanks in Logeast Wood were ordered to counterattack, and the 62nd Division, which had moved up to Bucquoy during the morning, was called upon to support the right flank of the Division about Achiet-le-Petit. This manoeuvre was successful, four Tanks with a detachment of the 127th Brigade inflicting heavy casualties. About 2 p.m. scouts of the 5th East Lancashires on the left confirmed the report that the enemy had seized Behagnies and were advancing on Gomiecourt in strong force.

 

Selected information from the war diary of the 1/8th Battalion Manchester regiment diary, shows a derelict tank was mentioned on April 22nd:

 

APRIL 21 1918 - BRIGADE SUPPORT [near GOMMECOURT]
The Battalion was disposed as follows: Bn HQ & B Co. in the Strong Point called SALMON POINT, A Co. in CHUB TRENCH, D Company in SALMON TRENCH, C Co. WAACS TRENCH.

 

APRIL 22 1918 - BRIGADE SUPPORT [near GOMMECOURT]
Area near Battalion Headquarters & the derelict Tank shelled intermittently during the day - chiefly Whizz-Bangs (77mm) but also a few 10.5cm. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JohnC

Gentlemen,

Thank you all for your help, your suggestions have encouraged me to review my original searches. As a result I now suspect that the hulks represent vehicles of 10 Battalion resulting from operations on 26/27th March or 5th April. The battalion had tanks in Bucquoy on 25th, and on 26th and 27th conducted operations in the Rossignol Wood area (square K12 on the British maps). On 5th April tanks of A and B Companies supported an assault on Rossignol Wood. Prior to the assault both companies were based to the north of the front line, B Company being at Pigeon Wood in E29. Of the 11 tanks, 10 became ditched in the 'Old trench system'. This ties exactly with the positions of the hulks on the German map. From their base the tanks would presumably motored south, to cross the old trench system between Gommecourt and Biez Wood (the triangular wood on the German map) on route to the objective.

This is from information on the Landships web site, to whom I extend my thanks.

https://sites.google.com/site/landships/home/narratives/1918/kaiserschlacht

I can't pin down the tank name/number of each hulk, except that one of them is presumably the vehicle Jumping Jenny refered to on Landships.

This version of events ties with Keith's info that Tank Trench had acquired its name by 22nd April.

Interesting that although the hulks were behind allied lines they were not recovered by the time the map was plotted. I guess it was just too dangerous to be worthwhile - at least one of them was in the arc of the 5th Bavarian's minenwerfer officer who formerly owned the map.

And now I know how to read German trench map coordinates - cheers Jan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sidearm

I attach a photograph of Jumping Jenny which may, or may not, help confirm it as one of the four tanks mentioned.

 

Gwyn

Mk IVF Jumping Jennie Gommecourt Wood 10.8.18 [1].jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...