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Angus L Butler - 180th Tunneling Company R.E. Wounded Testing Landmine August 1918


Harper
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Angus L Butler was an Australian mining engineer who served in the British Army in West Africa and France.  Charles Bean, the Australian war correspondent, wrote that cousin was with the 180th Tunneling Company, Royal Engineers. 

Does anyone know about the landmine accident in August 1918 mentioned in his entry in the University of Sydney records? Any information about Butler and the 180th would be appreciated.   I already have a copy of his Medal Roll Index Card from Ancestry.

Thanks

 
The Reverend Angus Leicester Butler
 
B.E. : Captain, Gold Coast Regiment, Royal West African Frontier Force, Cameroons; also R.E., B.E.F., France. Enlisting at Jos, Northern Nigeria, in February, 1915, and being commissioned 12th March, served in three expeditions in the Cameroons from March until November when invalided to England. After sick leave till May, 1916, was commissioned in Royal Engineers and, crossing to France in June, served at Bethune, Somme, Peronne, Epehy and Albert sectors till severely wounded while testing a British land-mine at Lahoussoye, 21st August, 1918. Promoted lieutenant, November, 1917; captain, June, 1918. Early education at Bucklands and The Hutchins Schools, Hobart. Later at the University of Tasmania and St. Paul''s College.
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The WD of 180 TC (WO 95/488/1) only mentions him twice, as far as I could see.

Hamelet 12/02/1918:       Temp Lieut A L Butler RE appt A/Cpt from 5/1/18 whilst commanding a section (then unreadable but looks like the GHQ ref).

La Houssoie 21/08/1918:    Capt A L Butler RE admitted to hospital accidently (sic - wrong spelling in the WD) injured (mine explosion).

Brian

 

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Brian

Thank you for the information from the WD.  It all helps fill in his story.

In case you are interested, the Australian War Memorial collection has a group portrait of 4 Tasmanian cousins:

Group portrait, left to right: Captain Duncan M. Maxwell MC, Aide-de-Camp (ADC), 4th Division, Mr C. E. W. (Charles) Bean, Capt Arthur Maxwell DSO MC, ADC, 4th Division Headquarters, and Capt Angus E. Butler, 18th Field Company, Royal Engineers, in front of the Chateau.

The photo is dated 1 April 1918.  You wouldn't believe that this family photo was taken in the middle of the German Spring Offensive of 1918.

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C393555?image=1

Thanks again

Harper

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Harper

It's a pity that there is not more info in the WD. From 01/06/1917 it names Officers and Other Ranks on a regular basis without giving much detail of the work involved. There are no Weekly Mining Reports. I can not post an image since it is not on Ancestry, I downloaded it when I was at TNA Kew last year and it is against Forum rules (See top of page about Free Downloads). 

From 19/08/1918 180 TC was in Albert where they were engaged on moving German mines and traps from the roads and cellars. This work received commendations from the Engineer in Chief, Major General G M Heath. The Unit was previously west of Albert. La Houssaye (if I am looking at the right one) looks well to the south of Albert and it is the only entry there that I could see in the WD.

Good photo. 

Cheers

Brian

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  • 2 months later...

I found the following in Charles Bean's Western Front Diaries page 561:

"... Angus had to test the leads of a mine on the road near La Houssoye - a side road - in order to see if they could withdraw the charge.  As Angus was testing it the mine blew up. It made a huge crater 40 feet wide by 20 feet deep.  Angus was on the very edge of this crater - he was blown away (his major afterwards told me, "in company with a brick wall") through a tree. He was picked up still breathing, but of course unconscious, and taken to the C.C.S."

 

As Brian said above, the 180th Tunneling Company had the additional responsibilty of bomb disposal when the front became fluid in the final 100 days.

Edited by Harper
correction and reference to previous post.
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  • 3 months later...

TNA reference WO 95-698-2, War Diary 3 Corps Chief Engineer, August 1918, Appendix 32 is a one page summary of the incident by the OC 180 Tunnelling Company. Intended to crater a road, the mine comprised of 600 lbs of Blastine explosive . The summary states that it was likely that repeated testing of the electrical initiation system, possibly acerbated by the  hot weather, had led to the accident and that no blame could be apportioned to Butler.

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Wigeon

Many thanks for this lead.  I have accessed the report and added it to his profile.

Much appreciated.

Harper

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