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Remembered Today:

Winnipeg Road Trench, Fresnoy (Vimy /Arras) 1917


George87
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Hello All

I am interested in the actions involving the CEF around Fresnoy and Arleux in early May 1917. These involved my relative. In particular, I am trying to find any pictures showing any of the "sunken road" trenches that were key to the fighting here, especially the road / trench known as "Winnipeg Road" (others were known as Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba Roads). 

I previously had found an image that claimed to be of a casualty in Winnipeg Road in May 1917 but can't find anything now. Any help greatly appreciated.

I am also researching the action there on 8/9 May generally (in which my great-grandfather was wounded) and happy to chat with anyone who also shares this interest.

All the best

George

Edited by George87
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Hi George and welcome to the forum.

This is a pretty massive series of aerial photographs, so use the forum messaging facility to contact me for enlargements.  (Hover over and click on the Message button).  All imagery copyright Imperial War Museum.  Winnipeg intersects Nova Scotia in this extract:

image.png.2153efba21d64948d003205107571ae0.png

This image at the bottom shows the Fresnoy Arleux series but some of those you mention are on the LHS of the series of 4 - 5 similar imagery.  On this one, Nova Scotia runs from top left to centre to bottom left.  Hudson runs from middle left to centre.  Winnipeg is cut-off at the top LHS.  All zoom in to reveal some good detail for you ( here is the Hudson / Triumph intersection).

image.png.b9817cdd6d2dfbd07db0ecc8412574e5.png

image.png.f41aff98e124d674c3e05bc7b5a39a37.png

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Thank you WhiteStarLine - very helpful. Will separately DM you.

Any other pictures anyone might have, also from the ground of the area and Winnipeg Road, are very welcome.

All the best

George

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It seems easier to attach a pdf to a post than a DM. Thanks so much for these photos - just trying to make sense of them and how they map to the trench diagrams I have.

What date are these taken as far as you are aware and where are they held / from? Sounds like maybe the IWM.

Are my annotations in the attached correct for Fresnoy village and the road that runs to Arleux - the arrow pointing towards where Winnipeg road is off the map running north from the red marked road - or am I completely off-piste!

 

Fresnoy - Trenches.pdf

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The aerial above wasn't too far off north, so here is a better placement image, courtesy tMapper and National Library of Scotland.  While it is from November 1917 it clearly shows the Winnipeg Trench in relation to Fresnoy.  Some of the aerial photographs held by the IWM include:

O=Oblique, V=Vertical, VM=Vertical with map, VO=Vertical and Oblique

No. 8 North of Acheville 36C T11, 18 1-Nov-17 VM Between Mericourt and Acheville V Corps BI, 16th Squadron RFC
Mosaic No.20, Northern Counter Battery Area 36C T12, 18, U2, 30 28-Oct-17 V Acheville, Rouvroy, Drocourt etc. N Corps, 5 Squadron 1917 RFC
Mosaic No.32 36C T17-30, U13-25 26-Feb-18 V Acheville  
Mosaic No.25. Left Division, Left Brigade Front 36C T18, 23, 30 6-Jan-18 VM Acheville, N Fresnoy BIO. No. 5 Squadron RFC
Mosaic No.10 36C T18, 24, 30 29-Sep-17 V N Fresnoy BIO. No. 5 Squadron RFC
Mosaic No.14 36C T18, 24, 30 20-Oct-17 V N Fresnoy BIO. No. 5 Squadron RFC
Acheville (Before) 36C T18d 13-Sep-17 V Acheville  
Acheville (After) 36C T18d 30-Apr-17 V Acheville  
Mosaic No.8 Tortoise Trench 36C T24-30, U19-25 22-Sep-17 V Acheville, Fresnoy BIO. No. 5 Squadron RFC
           
  36C T4, 12 15-Sep-17 V Mericourt and SW Branch Intelligence Section Canadian Corps
No. 6 Mericourt & "T" Squares 36C T4, 5 10, 11 1-Nov-17 VM Mericourt and SW V Corps BI, 16th Squadron RFC. Dup. P5810
Mosaic No.4 36C T4-5, 10-11 5-Feb-18 V Mericourt and SW  
Mosiac No.10 36C T4-5, 10-11 14-Mar-17 V Mericourt and SW Branch Intelligence Section Canadian Corps
Mosiac No.5 36C T5, 11, 12 5-Feb-18 V Mericourt and S  
Mosiac No.17 36C T5, 11, 12 20-Mar-18 V Mericourt and S Branch Intelligence Section Canadian Corps
XIII Left Divisional Front 36C T5, 12, 18, 24   V Mericourt, Acheville  
No. 7 Mericourt South 36C T5-11 1-Nov-17 VM Mericourt and S V Corps BI, 16th Squadron RFC
  36C T6 16-Sep-17 O Lens district, Mericourt looking NE  

image.png.0554fb54124b06dfc8a048fed2021564.png

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Dear George, 


I too am interested in 8/9 May around Arleux and Fresnoy but with more of a slant on 5th Division immediately to the south of 2nd Canadian Division. The 12th Gloucesters (Bristol's Own) were one of a number of units that got a real battering that day. I have also looked into the 9 May counter-attack, with special focus on 1st Devons. It's a fascinating area that is rarely visited. 

Re. 19th Battalion, I am sure you are aware there is a memorial to them in Fresnoy near the church? And David Campbell's book on the battalion is very good - see https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cant-Last-Forever-Battalion-Formation/dp/1771122366

If you scroll down this page you will find some info on a tour in which I took a group there: https://westernfrontfootsteps.com/bristols-battalions-at-war/. Rather annoyingly the maps are not loading correctly but I have some great ones from 95 Brigade and 5th Division files. I can post these here if you are interested. 

Cheers

Jeremy

 

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Many thanks Jeremy - I have visited the memorial indeed. Also have Campbell's fascinating book and Deward Barnes' "It Made You Think of Home". For a little talked about and "understood" action, there is rather paradoxically a lot of good eye-witness accounts. A fascinating example in my mind also of how the "smaller" engagements could take a heavy toll - the 19th came through the attack on Vimy Ridge and Thelus just a month before with fewer casualties than at Fresnoy on 8/9 May.

Any maps or other materials you have very welcome indeed!

All the best

George

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Hi George - I am glad you have David Campbell's book. I showed him around the battlefields when he was writing that and we visited many of the 19th Battalion's areas.

Here are two maps from 95 Infantry Brigade (5th Div) showing positions before and after the German attack on the 8th.

JB

 

Annotated map from 95 Infantry Brigade showing positions east of Fresnoy held by 12th Gloucesters on 7 May 1917.jpg

Situation positions at 4pm on 9 May 1917 east of Fresnoy taken from 95 Infantry Brigade war diary.jpg

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I have given talks at a few WFA branches on the events in this area following the successful capture of Vimy Ridge- actions around Willerval, Arleux, Fresnoy and Oppy. So many visitors never make it down to the Douai plain which seems such a shame. 

12th Gloucesters losses were 13 officers killed, wounded and missing plus a further 288 O.R. It is likely that those original Bristol’s Own who had survived their actions on the Somme were now casualties. In his 1938 letter to Cyril Falls, compiling the Arras 1917 OH, Lt Col Robert Rawson, C.O., 12th Gloucesters ends his letter with the line; “The 8th May 1917 is engraved on my memory”.

Other units of 5th Division suffered even greater losses - 1/East Surrey to the south had casualties of 14 officers and 495 OR (4 officers and 200 OR taken POW).  
 

 

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Thank you Jeremy - fascinating. I had not yet got around to the "Imperial" regiment war diaries for this action and had been limited so far to an examination of the diaries for 19 and 20 CEF. This all chimes with my understanding.

It seems relatively clear to me how events unfolded and also, from other accounts, that my relative (19 Bn CEF / Canadian 4th Brigade) was hit in the foot by shrapnel in the area somewhere in front of Winnipeg Road during that morning. Probably somewhere around where the words "Canadian Right" are marked on the second / 9 May map. He was rescued back to Winnipeg Road by lads from the battalion and evacuated. Later that month his leg was amputated. 

I was surprised to see on the 9 May map the Devons still marked as being so forward to the immediate north of Fresnoy. I had thought their line had been pushed back further to run more adjacent to where the Canadians are marked in Winnipeg Road (just west of Devon HQ). I've got some more reading to do it seems...

Thanks for all the help.

All the best

George

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