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Battye Farm


Arne Vandendriessche
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Hello everyone,

In Watou there is a farm. It was called "Battle Farm" by the British. There are lots of barns and there was a narrow gauge railway to there.
I don't know what happened there.
I'm thinking an ammunition depot?
Have any of you ever come across this name?
Attached are two maps and one aerial photo with central "Battle Farm"

greetings Arne

Battle Farm 2.jpg

Battle Farm 1.jpg

Battle farm.jpg

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Arne, it is not Battle but Battye Farm. Battye is an English surname, so maybe named after someone.

Looks like a camp or stores depot, not a large one as the main rail sidings are a few hundred metres away.

It is possible that the light rail line shown feeds either a large gun battery or some engineer works. 

In mid 1918 the partly constructed West Poperinge Line would have been close by.

Peter

 

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Thanks,

Greetings Arne

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May not be relevant but of the 12 official war graves in the Watou Churchyard maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), Gunner 44966 George Marriage who died on the 23rd May 1916 has his unit shown as the 20th Ammunition Sub-Park, Royal Garrison Artillery. https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/94374/GEORGE MARRIAGE/

Soldiers Died in the Great War, a UK government publication from the early twenties, records him as Died of Wounds.

The CWGC webpage for Watou Churchyard doesn't reference any medical facilities like a Field Ambulance or Casualty Clearing Station being based at Watou, so possibly he died before he had properly entered the medical evacuation chain. Unfortunately like the majority of other ranks service records, his papers appear to have gone up in flames when German bombs hit the London Warehouse where they were being stored in WW2.

I'm afraid I know nothing more about the unit and whether or when it was stationed at Watou - hopefully one of the artillery experts like @David Porter knows a bit more.

Cheers,
Peter

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I'm a bit confused by the second map which shows Verbrandenmolen in the bottom left.

I have been reading the WDs of 42 Div Commander Royal Artillery and on 26/08/1917 the HQ was at Watou where it was to relieve 15 Div Artillery. A 15 Div order in the 42 CRA WD records that after relief the 15 Div Artillery will march to Watou. The WDs for 15 CRA (and the Brigades) jump from July to October. 

The WD for 42 Div AC 23/08/1917 and 26/08/1917 records that it's sections moved to Watou, Sheet 27 K 10 d

The WD for 15 Div AC 29/08/1917 records that the AC marched to the Watou Artillery Area.

This NLS map Sheet 27 dated 1918 shows K 10 d south of Watou but I can not find Battye Farm.

https://maps.nls.uk/view/101464879

Brian

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Brian it is not shown named on your map. It is at F 25a 10.95, can be seen just NW of the staggered crossroads.

Peter 

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36 minutes ago, brianmorris547 said:

I'm a bit confused by the second map which shows Verbrandenmolen in the bottom left.

 

Brian

It's a German map. Verbrandenmolen between Watou and Sint-Jans-ter-Biezen is not the same as Verbrandenmolen near Zillebeke.

Jan

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BTW, Verbrandenmolen ("burnt mill") was at approximately 27.E.30.a.8.1.

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PS to above info: the Farm name may well have come from Major Battye, the inventor of the Battye bomb, the forerunner of the Mills bomb hand grenade.

 

Peter

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Hello everyone,

Thank you very much.
I see that the narrow gauge railway on the German map (April 12, 1918) runs to batyye farm. On the other map (June 11, 1918) this is not the case.
So one of the two cards will be wrong.

greetings Arne

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Peter and Jan

Thank you very much for the map ref F 25 a and information about the other Verbrandenmolen.

Brian

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Hey

Are we actually sure this was artillery?
There are no tents on the aerial photo, did they sleep in the barns?

Greetings Arne

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Arne

I just happened to be researching the Artillery of 42 Div and how they relieved 15 Div in August 1917, so I used 42 and 15 Divs as an example.

The WD of the 15 Div A&QMG 21/07/1917 records that 45 Infantry Brigade moved into the Watou No 2 area and on 22/07/1917 44 Infantry Brigade moved into Watou No 1 area. The WD also records that all available farms, buildings etc were visited with a view to putting them to some military use. Documents show Watou No 1 area was located in L 9, L 10 and others in L and Watou No 2 area was in J 4, J 9, and others in J. (See NLS map). The WD also shows that 27 Mobile Veterinary Unit moved to the Watou area on 31/08/1917. Their WD (WO 95/1933/1) shows that they were allocated billets at a farm at location K 5 d 8 8. It had 8 huts and 3 horse sheds. Also 15 Div Ordnance were to move to Watou on 31/08/1917. Their WD (WO 95/1922/1) shows that they were to take over the Ordnance Dump at Vlamertinghe.

The WD of 42 Div A&QMG 26/08/1917 records that 42 Div Artillery arrived in the Watou Artillery Area by rail, detraining stations were at Proven and Godewaerswelde.

I have only looked at the  July/August 1917 WDs of the 15 and 42 Divs, including Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers. I could not find anything relating to Battye Farm. 

Brian

Edited by brianmorris547
typo
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Not sure this adds anything.  20 Ammunition Sub Park was  run by 268 Company Army Service Corps supporting 20 Division..  Their war diary for the relevant time is missing  Aug 1915 to July 1916.  On 1 August 1916 their location is given as Watou.  I couldn't find a reference to Battye Farm in their diary or in 20 DAC.

 

MaxD

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Thanks,

 

greetings Arne

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So,

so far no one has come across anything about the artillery with reference to battye farm?

Greetings Arne

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This might be a red herring and of not much use to your search for artillery connections, but 27 F 25a was used as the 50th Division refilling point for its Ammunition Supply Column, Supply Column, and the Train during 2nd Ypres in early May 1915. 

The Train WD specifically mentions this coordinate as the site of the refilling point, and there is a map in the Supply Column WD showing their route from Arneke to the refilling point. I've traced the end of this route onto Sheet 27 (attached). Battye Farm is seen straddling F19c/F25a, just north of where I believe the refilling point was located but the farm is not named. I'm not sure of the date of this map, but it could be July 1916.

The WD of the Ammunition Supply Column says that they were using a refilling point '1 mile E of Watou' at the same time. That seems to correspond to this map, so its possible that they were using the farm as an ammunition dump, but it's not specifically mentioned in their WD.

Untitled 2.jpg

Edited by KernelPanic
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Here's the same map without the overlay.

Untitled.jpg

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22 minutes ago, KernelPanic said:

but the farm is not named. I'm not sure of the date of this map, but it could be July 1916.

The June 1918 Proven - Abeele  27 NE (eastern half) 20000 map (McMaster) names both Battye Farm  and Asser Farm to its north, seems to be the same map as originally posted.

MaxD

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Arne

I have the WDs of 19 Corps Adjutant & Quarter-Master General (WO 95/964) for my research into 170 Infantry Brigade at Poelkapelle on 26/10/1917. I looked through lists of Unit locations but could see no mention of Battye Farm at F 25

The WD of 19 Corps A&QMG for July 1917 (WO 95/963/3 - Appendix 2 p 21 to 25/137) has a list of locations in the Watou Areas by map reference showing the proprietor's name, how many Officers and men each can accommodate and other comments. Appendix 2 also records that the accommodation was partly in billets and partly in tents. You may find it interesting.

The WD of 19 Corps A&QMG for August 1917 (WO 95/963/4) has this map which shows Watou No 1, 2 and 3 Areas and Watou Artillery Area. As you can see F 25 where Battye Farm is located is outside these areas unfortunately. 

Brian

001.JPG

Edited by brianmorris547
typo
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On 19/07/2021 at 17:31, Arne Vandendriessche said:

I see that the narrow gauge railway on the German map (April 12, 1918) runs to batyye farm. On the other map (June 11, 1918) this is not the case.

On 19/07/2021 at 15:24, brianmorris547 said:

The WD for 42 Div AC 23/08/1917 and 26/08/1917 records that it's sections moved to Watou, Sheet 27 K 10 d

 

I see that the two maps produced by Arne are from 1918, also that, according to the 42nd Division WD, the Division was stationed south of Watou in August 1917, so what I have to say may not be of interest directly in relation to Arne's OP, but my grandfather, who was in the 42nd Division (1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers) in August 1917, does give in his diary some specific information regarding where they were billetted in August 1917, so may possibly be relevant to the question of what camps in the area were like more generally at that time (though obviously they may have changed considerably by 1918).

So, on 23 August 1917, my grandad's unit detrained at Godewaersvelde at 1.00am, and marched to Wimerszelle, arriving there at 4.00am. In his entry for 24 August 1917 he comments;

Billets were difficult to find, as, contrary to many areas I had been in, where the villages were clusters of houses and farms built round the village church - here the farms were scattered.

They eventually got to bed at 6.30am, but he does not say exactly where they slept, either the officers or the men. He then goes on to say that, after rising at 9.00am, they pitched tents for "C" Company "in a field adjoining our farm billet". My grandad was 2nd in command of "C" Company at that time, and on 23 August had only half the comapany with him, the other half arriving at 5.00pm on 24 August with the OC. I therefore assume that there was probably room in the farm buildings to accommodate his half of "C" Company for their two asd a half hours' sleep in the early hours of 24 August, but that they had to put up tents when the rest of the company arrived.

On 25 August he says they moved the company to another farm, where the HQ was in huts, and the HQ officers had billets in the huts, also a mess. He himself was sleeping in a tent at the new farm, as he reports that it blew down on the night of 27 August; probably the whole of "C" Company were in tents as he doesn't say otherwise. He also mentions that, on the afternoon of 27 August, there was a lecture in the barn.

He was then charged with setting up a new tent camp for 125th Brigade at Goldfish Chateau, and on 28 August he proceeded there via St Jan-ter-Biezen, Poperinghe and Vlamertinghe with an advanced party selected from the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th LF.

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Tricia

Thanks for this report. Very interesting. Re my previous post the WD of 15 Div A&QMG prior to 31/07/1917 records that all the farms and other buildings in the area were visited with a view to putting them to a military use and lots of tented sites were erected. 

Brian

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Thanks,

 

Greetings Arne

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Arne

F 25 was in the St Jan Ter Biezen B Area and this was controlled by 18 Corps. The July 1917 WD of the 18 Corps Adjutant and Quarter-Master General (WO 95/954/2 Page 57/95) has this list of locations of Units, which may refer to horse standings. It shows 21 Heavy Battery, 119 Heavy Battery, and 131 Heavy Battery at F 25 a 2 9 which is the location for Battye Farm. I have only looked in WO 95/954/2. 

Brian

001.JPG

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  • Arne Vandendriessche changed the title to Battye Farm

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