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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

“The Knoll” Hindenburg Line


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I’m trying to find any photographs of the terrain and defenses at “The Knoll”, which is just about a kilometer southwest of Vendhuile, France. 

My great uncle fought there in SEP 1918 with the AEF 27th Division. 

Since there terrain was fought over throughout the war, I’m curious if any records contains photographs of it. 


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Hi, have you read the "History of the 107th Brigade", freely downloadable and describing their part in the 27th Div attack on the Knoll?  There are a few maps and an account of what they saw as the many of the 106th returned in "an apparently interminable train of ambulances moving slowly to the rear".  It's an interesting book.


My grandfather was there as part of the Australian Third Division and we still have his camera and an original signal with a message about 77mm and a machine gun firing onto support company.  We've visited a few times and also visited the beautiful cemetery near Bony for the AEF 27th and 30th.  They get denigrated a bit in Australian accounts but I have tremendous respect for these relatively new and enthusiastic troops who rushed in to an almost impregnable series of defences.


Here are some of my grandfather's photographs of the general area showing the barbed wire, communications trenches, an abandoned machine gun post and one of the dugouts that held 40 men, with some Australian chalked text saying it was now safe to enter.





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Following on, in case you ever want to visit, here is an aerial and a trench map and modern view.


The aerial photograph is from 28 July 1917 so it would have been really devastated a year later when he saw it.  Tombois Farm is labelled as is Vendhuile.  The scarred feature is The Knoll and if you click to open the image, you will faintly see the black lettering 'The Knoll' in the centre.




This illustration, courtesy tMapper & National Library of Scotland, doesn't work as well as I'd like as the 27th chose to fight on the junction of 4 trench maps.  At least you can see Vendhuile, Tobois and the Knoll.  My grandfather was probably 1 ridge away because he got as far as Bony.  A signaller, he supported the 11th Brigade battalions, one of which marched out to attack the Hindenburg Line with 600 men.  A few days later, they caught the train back with the 80 survivors.



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Thank you. Your reply was fantastic! I was able to share in person with my Dad today, who at 83, still remembers talking with his uncle, who was an infantryman in 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th. 

I’ve read “Borrowed Soldiers” on the US 27th and 30th, and I am about to start Blair’s “Battle for Bellicourt Tunnel.”  

Any recommendations for the larger Australian Corps offensive, or for that matter Monash during the war? 

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Chapter 20 of Bean's Volume 6 of his Official History of the AIF in WW1 covers the Hindenburg Line in September / October 1918 with extensive descriptions of the 105th's attack on the Knoll.  It has some maps and pictures including Bony from The Knoll but in the PDF download they are really bad.  Sly posted the original picture (https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C55049) and intriguingly, the picture my grandfather took of what I think is Bony looks like the same building seen in the distance. from The Knoll.  Could also be a case of seeing what you want to see!  I've attached the chapter as a PDF.  To finish, since you are about to read about Bellicourt, below are his pictures of the Bellicourt Tunnel (noting dry canal) and the bricked up entrance with several machine gun positions in the wall.  Well worth seeing this area if you ever have a chance as it looks identical, apart from the canal boats sailing serenely through.






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Here are the valleys leading to the Canal from The Knoll (upper-centre of photograph):


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