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Laceman

1/3rd London Regt Killed at 'Z' Hedge 1st July 1916

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Laceman

Dear All,

 

I wonder if anyone could help me with a little info?

 

My Great Uncle by marriage, John Francis Roberts - No.4243 1/3rd - London Regt, was killed when the Germans shelled 'Z' Hedge on the morning of the 1st July 1916. I think the location was around the area of Hebuterne? As you may already be aware, all the members of 15 Platoon were killed save two.

 

The war diaries show that John was part of '15 Platoon' which I believe was dispersing smoke from the south eastern corner to cover the allied activities in the immediate area.

 

My question is, would anyone know which company '15 Platoon' would have belonged to? I'm kind of guessing that it's 'D Coy' only because I'm making (probably the wrong) assumption that A Coy would be 1-4, B Coy would be 5-8 etc....meaning 15 would fall in to D Coy? The only other thing I can think of is that there may have been an HQ Coy perhaps? I seem to remember that more modern British infantry company's comprise of 3 platoons but I'm thinking that infantry company's of the Great War maybe had 4?

 

Also, if anyone has any other information relating to the incident surrounding 'Z' Hedge that morning I'd be most grateful if you could share it?

 

Interestingly, I've also found out that my wife's Great Uncle (Joseph Henry McNeal) was also part of the 1/3rd and probably watched the shelling of 'Z'Hedge from the trenches close by. Turns out they only lived a few streets away from each other and may well have been friends? Quite a coincidence but it makes any information relating to the incident all the more poignant.

 

Thank you very much in advance,

 

Chris.

Edited by Laceman

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ss002d6252
6 minutes ago, Laceman said:

My question is, would anyone know which company '15 Platoon' would have belonged to? I'm kind of guessing that it's 'D Coy' only because I'm making (probably the wrong) assumption that A Coy would be 1-4, B Coy would be 5-8 etc....meaning 15 would fall in to D Coy? The only other thing I can think of is that there may have been an HQ Coy perhaps? I seem to remember that more modern British infantry company's comprise of 3 platoons but I'm thinking that infantry company's of the Great War maybe had 4?

Typically 4 platoons to a company - 15 platoon would be D company.

 

There was no designated HQ 'company'.


Company

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Laceman

Great, that's what I thought. Thank you for confirming it, much appreciated.

 

Still looking for any other info surrounding the 'Z' Hedge shelling if anyone has any? If indeed there is anything more to know?

 

Thanks again,

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Don Regiano
41 minutes ago, Laceman said:

My Great Uncle by marriage, John Francis Roberts - No.4243 1/3rd - London Regt, was killed when the Germans shelled 'Z' Hedge on the morning of the 1st July 1916. I think the location was around the area of Hebuterne?

 

See below (K.4.c and K.10.a):

 

image.png.aeb5e52349b7c33506d141b544c4b7fa.png

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johnmelling1979

Hello Chris

 

From walking the somme book with 1/3 mention !

 

John

 

1603810593_walkingthesomme.png.dcf8af5bece0e7abaea6f08a123ad822.png

 

 

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Laceman

Thank you both Don and John, I'll have a good look at your posts.

 

Thank you again.

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WhiteStarLine

Here it is on a modern map:

image.png.e0d99573c334a18382d1b579ad3a8fd8.png

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Laceman

Thank you WhiteStarLine.

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johnmelling1979

Wow :o  from a birds eye view it looks like nothing much has changed in 100 years

 

You can even see the shape of the trenches on the modern map, comparing it to the trench map !! Brilliant ..

 

3 pictures from Don Regiano and WhiteStarLine help confirm the area :thumbsup:

 

Not a bad start into your research Laceman

 

Edited by johnmelling1979

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WhiteStarLine

This image, courtesy of Google Street View, looks along the ploughed line towards Z Hedge, roughly level with the left of Gommecourt Wood and on the top of the rise.

image.png.6fb39f41ce46677a8118aa5a9b4edb67.png

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johnmelling1979

Nice picture WhiteStarLine

 

That's roughly the view that they would have seen:o 

 

Open ground and very visable when moving about :poppy:

 

Does it look a little higher on the British trench side (LEFT) compared to towards the German\forest side?

Or is that my eyes and the way the pictures taken

 

John

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jnickwilliams

I was in the area last year and have attached a couple of photos.

The first is taken from the road/track from Hebuterne to Gommecourt nearly parallel with the pin on the aerial photo/map, so Z hedge was to the left. The front of Gommecourt Park is straight ahead - the German front-line trenches were (and many still are) located along this line. Just below the skyline below the buildings/road can be seen where the German front line was located and was attacked by the London Rifle Brigade. Smoke discharged from Z hedge partially covered this attack.

The second looks back towards Hebuterne. The British front line was located on the forward slope. The German Gommecourt Park trenches are to the right, and Z hedge is further round to the right out of sight. My interest is that my grandfather was wounded in the head here in the attack by the 1/2 Londons in the afternoon of 1.7.1916. 

Nick

Gommecourt Park1.jpg

Hebuterne.jpg

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Laceman

Thank you gentlemen, the images and information are extremely helpful! Thank you very much!

 

I'm not sure how far anyone's knowledge goes on the attack on the 1st of July in this small area, but having read the war diary of the 1/3rd London Regt, it seems that they were tasked to dig a connecting/communication trench between the corner of 'Z' Hedge and the nearest point of the German front line.

 

The 1/3rd London's received the order to begin the excavations at 8am but were forced to abandon their efforts shortly after 10am due to heavy casualties from German artillery fire.

 

Would I be right in thinking that the main 'over the top' offensive waves of the other units in the sector went in at around 7am, and then once the initial attack was underway, at 8am the 1/3rd exited their positions, strung out in a long straight line between the two opposing trench lines and started digging (under fire)?

 

Any info would be very helpful.

 

Thanks again for all your help.

 

Best wishes,

 

Chris.

 

 

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Laceman

I have tried to collate all the information above along with another read of the 1/3rd London's war diary, and I have kind of come up with how I see the events of the morning of the 1st July.

 

I'd be very pleased if anyone can support or de-bunk any of my theories.

 

OK, in relation to my attached map.......

 

1. If I am understanding Nick correctly, the white arrow shows the direction/angle of his first photo which looks towards the German lines. It's a perfect shot because the corner of Gommecourt Park Wood (in the centre of the picture) was the junction of two German trenches; Firm and Fir, a point which is specifically referred to in the war diaries. I overlayed your image Nick, I hope that was OK?

 

2. I have positioned where I think 'Z' Hedge was located.

 

3. The 1/3rd London's began a sap in late June, from the corner of 'Z' Hedge. The foremost point of the sap, was to be the start point of the communications trench which was to be dug across No-Mans Land to join the junction of Firm and Fir, on the morning of the assault on the 1st July. I'm not sure which corner the war diary refers to? They also make reference to an RE dump in 'Z' Hedge which I think was located at the beginning of the sap. It would be very helpful to know if anyone has any idea if the communication trench attempted by the 1/3rd London's would have maybe followed either line A or line B? I'm thinking that the shortest distance (line A) would have been the most sensible path but that may not be the case?

 

There's a blue line marked which was another planned communications trench but it's one of the red trenches that I'm trying to confirm or deny.

 

It's no real biggie if nobody can help, it's just bugging me and I'd like to get it right if possible.

Map of Hebuterne - Gommecourt 1 Re Nicks Photo.jpg

View from Z Hedge to junction of Firm and Fir.jpg

Edited by Laceman

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