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MrSwan

Chronology of divisional movements Ypres-Boesinghe

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MrSwan

There are a number of excellent resources and threads on this site concerning the movements of divisions and the actions in which they participated, but I'm taking a slightly different angle, in which I'm trying to build a chronological listing of the divisions which occupied a particular area over the period of the war.

 

I can probably do this using the material here, but knowing this forum as I do I'm sure someone has done this in the past. I am specifically interested in the zone along the canal between Ypres and Boesinghe. I have Stephen McGreal's "Boesinghe" which is a very useful starting point but I would be very grateful if someone could provide a definitive list or direct me to any useful resources.

 

Thanks!

 

 

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TEW

Not an easy task. I did this for a small sector and tried to cover a few months.

 

It was a case of chasing diaries from the start point with X Division. They handed over to Y who handed to Z etc.

 

Some times Brigade diaries have more info than Division, although Battalion could have a division order missing elsewhere.

 

Another issue I encountered was the divisional area and boundaries changed, so the handing over from X - Y - Z then gets complex as you could have 2 divisions now occupying the original sector.

TEW

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MrSwan
32 minutes ago, TEW said:

Not an easy task. I did this for a small sector and tried to cover a few months.

 

It was a case of chasing diaries from the start point with X Division. They handed over to Y who handed to Z etc.

Thanks TEW - that's the approach I used when I started this project a couple of years ago, and I soon got bogged down, with divisional boundaries shifting in particular. And some diary authors were clearly so relieved about being rotated out of the sector that they neglected to mention who they were handing over to..!

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TEW
Posted (edited)

Yes, then it's 2 steps back to see who was on the flank and who they handed over to, fingers crossed they mention their neighbour!

 

Corps diaries another option but again, corps boundaries and components changed frequently.

 

I seem to recall trawling many diaries just to establish who held a 200 yard stretch for a few days.

TEW

Edited by TEW
Double posted somehow

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Old Forge

Hi Mr S,

It might be easier to start with Army and especially Corps WD's, which include details of Divisions under command. They often include maps - eg below is a section from a map in Second Army WD for May 1917. 

Cheers,

Richard

VIII Corps area May 17.PNG

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MrSwan

Richard,

 

Good suggestion - I hadn't thought about starting at the top. That VIII Corps area in your map is exactly the area I'm interested in - thanks!

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Old Forge
1 minute ago, MrSwan said:

That VIII Corps area in your map is exactly the area I'm interested in - thanks!

 

No probs, I thought that was the area. It's mostly Second Army territory, except Fifth Army for 3rd Ypres. Prior to Second Army's tenure it will be mostly French, plus Rawlinson's IV Corps then Haig's I Corp for First Ypres. 4th Div were there for a chunk of Second Ypres (Aubrey Smith's 'Four Years on the Western Front' covers it). I can help with fifth Army's tenure if you get stuck.

 

HTH,

Richard

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stiletto_33853
Posted (edited)

A few units come to mind where I have done a little research on them.

 

4th Division - May/June 15, attacked International Trench

14th Division - Dec15/Jan 16

20th Division - February/March 16

 

Maps, 4th Div, 14th Div & 20th Div.

Maps all from the Div War Diaries 

 

Andy

43112_1442_0-00462.jpg

CIMG5074 copy.JPG

43849_2095_0-00237 copy.jpg

Edited by stiletto_33853

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MrSwan

Andy - that's really helpful too, thanks.

 

Now I need to crack this project before the TNA end their free downloads..!

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stiletto_33853

Might be an idea to contact Aurel, he lives in Boesinghe.

 

Andy

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Colin W Taylor
Posted (edited)

Mr Swan,

 

I've done something similar on a smaller scale and it can be a time-consuming task, especially as boundaries for sectors and sub-sectors change and brigades side-step or take over different sectors. I gave up before fully completing the task as other projects took my attention.

 

However, it can be rewarding in helping identify what battalions go through each sector and if they have battalion histories or well known diarists/authors/IWM oral history recordings etc amongst their members. You can potentially identify minor actions, raids or other events of note and identify if famous individuals served there. If there are local cemeteries just behind the line you can almost map how they are filled out as different divisions or brigades cycle through the trenches and suffer casualties. My knowledge of the German sources is sketchy but to be comprehensive trying to cover both sides of the line might be a goal. 

 

How you represent or record your findings might depend on how much detail you want to produce or what you plan to do with the results. 

 

Good luck

 

Colin

image.png.f639382a7035304cd5150e3f59c93aa9.png

Edited by Colin W Taylor

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MBrockway

Another snapshot from Second Army HQ GS war diary (approx end Jan 1916) ...

562290467_YserCanalSector-Jan1916.jpg.1ec132e708a41be880e0898a0daccd00.jpg

 

The N sector (red) was VI Corps, but shortly to be handed over to the newly formed XIV Corps.  This was held as a two division front

 

Left of Corps sector - 42, 41, 43 Bdes, 14th (Light) Divn

Right of Corps sector  -16, 71, 18 Bdes, 6th Divn

In Corps Reserve - 146, 147, 148 Bdes, 49th Divn  (taken over by 20th (Light) Divn in early Feb as part of the handover to the new XIV Corps)

 

Once XIV Corps took over, dispositions were - Left: 59, 60, 61 Bdes, 20th (Light) Divn; Right: 6th Divn; Corps Reserve: Guards Divn

 

The North Central sector (green) was V Corps and was held as a three division front.

Left - 72, 17, [73] Bdes - 24th Divn

Centre - 151, 149, [150] Bdes, 50th Divn

Right - 76, 8, [9] Bdes, 3rd Divn

Corps Reserve: Brigades marked [thus] above

 

Second Army had a further two corps sectors further south, reaching just S of ARMENTIERES, which I've left off.  At this date these sectors were controlled by Canadian Corps and II Corps.

 

Mark

 

To the N of BOESINGHE was the French XXXVI Corps

 

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MrSwan

Andy, Colin, Mark,

 

Thank you for all your suggestions and for sharing your work. I think this is going to be a long task, but you've given me a great starting point. I've got a mandatory week's leave coming up, so this will be a nice little project in lieu of going away on a proper holiday!

 

Jonathan

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MBrockway

Here's the sector (now belonging to Fifth Army) before and during the Battle of Pilkem in 3rd Ypres 31 Jul 1917 with Corps, Divisions and brigades all helpfully marked ...

 

1196067121_(OH-1917-IIS13)BattleofPilckemRidgeNorthernDefensiveFlank-31Jul1917-Copy.jpg.16ec5c8398a32b32b67d245ab1c6dfdb.jpg

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MrSwan

I've just started the research on this topic while I'm on a mandatory week of "annual leave", and I've found this interesting link which I've not seen mentioned here before: http://www.314th.org/Nafziger-Collection-of-Orders-of-Battle/Nafziger-Collection-World-War-One.html

 

It has a very comprehensive list of Orders of Battle and War Establishments on all sides and on all fronts, as well as naval.

Edited by MrSwan

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