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"Polygon Wood"


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Hi All,

As I am making a study on the "Polygon Wood" during WW1, I am looking for particular, personal, may I call it "Short Stories" of soldiers who were there at the time. Even if the information consists only two or less sentences, or just a name of a soldier and the time he was there, it is all very welcome.

Regards,

Hans ;)

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Are you familiar with:

Nigel Cave (1999) 'Polygon Wood'. Leo Cooper Pen & Sword Books Ltd

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Hi All,

As I am making a study on the "Polygon Wood" during WW1, I am looking for particular, personal, may I call it "Short Stories" of soldiers who were there at the time. Even if the information consists only two or less sentences, or just a name of a soldier and the time he was there, it is all very welcome.

Regards,

Hans  ;) 

A relative of mine was at Polygon Wood and died of wounds at the next step of Plummer's plan.

240931 Sgt. Frank Palmer. "C" Coy 1/5th Gloucestershire Reg. 48th (South Midlands) Division. V Army

Died at Broodseinde 4th Oct (day after Poly) Buried at Vacher Farm and later moved to Poelcapelle Cemetry.

Gary

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A relative of mine was at Polygon Wood and died of wounds at the next step of Plummer's plan.

240931 Sgt. Frank Palmer. "C" Coy 1/5th Gloucestershire Reg. 48th (South Midlands) Division. V Army

Died at Broodseinde 4th Oct (day after Poly) Buried at Vacher Farm and later moved to Poelcapelle Cemetry.

Gary

That's what I am really looking for, Gary!

Thank you very much! ;)

Hans

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This is from the 9th HLI Diary:

[24 September 1917: transit - about 5 miles northeast - from Kruistraathoek to front line near Polygon Wood (about 4 miles due east of Ypres)]

Battalion ready to move forward to relieve 11th West Yorks (one Coy) and 2 Coys of 11th Sherwood Foresters in Front line. Coys ordered to move at 2.30pm at ten minute intervals, A & D moving to first line, B & C 2nd line.

Front line. Reference map Shrewsbury Forest part of sheet 28 1/10,000. Battalion halt at BIRDCAGE HILL on way up to front line for 2 hours and lay in shell holes. Battalion has to pass through heavy hostile barrage from JASPER AVENUE through INVERNESS COPSE to front line in J21 A and B.

Night of 24/9/17. The ground is unrecognisable owing to huge shell holes. But for a regularity of a number of tree stumps the MENIN road is a mass of huge holes. Coys have great difficulty in getting over the ground with guides and some sections are detached for a time. The hostile barrage is still intense. Many units get mixed up and an officer of the 11th SUSSEX finding his way to Bn HQs enables an officer to go out and help to guide sections to their proper places. Ammunition dump for the Brigade is blown up and we have a few casualties trying to locate it. No lines of telephones to front line. Communication entirely by runner. Communication to the rear is by visual and pigeon post.

[25 September 1917: front line at Polygon Wood]

Impossible to get runners beyond support line by day.

About 5.30am hostile barrage renewed and enemy attacks on a front of about 2 miles.

We break up his attack on our front and drive him back with Lewis gun and rifle fire, except on our Right where he gained a footing in the Queens strong point and we lose several men and had several (say 20 captured.)

Enemy aeroplanes were flying very low over our lines co-operating with his attacking troops. None of ours appeared until 8am. Front line was reinforced by part of C Coy and a few men of B Coy. A party from Headquarters managed to get water and rations from JACKDAW DUMP.

[26 September 1917: front line at Polygon Wood]

About 2.30pm the enemy attempted a counter raid. 2 Platoons of our battalion drove this off, followed it up and drove the enemy off his line and occupied. This blow was delivered by 2/Lt Glen. Front line reinforced by the addition of 2/Lt Ancrum’s platoon.

Front line and support line was now well organised and we were able to get supplies and ammunition through the supports to the front until being relieved.

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This is from the 9th HLI Diary:

[24 September 1917: transit - about 5 miles northeast - from Kruistraathoek to front line near Polygon Wood (about 4 miles due east of Ypres)]

Battalion ready to move forward to relieve 11th West Yorks (one Coy) and 2 Coys of 11th Sherwood Foresters in Front line. Coys ordered to move at 2.30pm at ten minute intervals, A & D moving to first line, B & C 2nd line.

Front line. Reference map Shrewsbury Forest part of sheet 28 1/10,000. Battalion halt at BIRDCAGE HILL on way up to front line for 2 hours and lay in shell holes. Battalion has to pass through heavy hostile barrage from JASPER AVENUE through INVERNESS COPSE to front line in J21 A and B.

Night of 24/9/17. The ground is unrecognisable owing to huge shell holes. But for a regularity of a number of tree stumps the MENIN road is a mass of huge holes. Coys have great difficulty in getting over the ground with guides and some sections are detached for a time. The hostile barrage is still intense. Many units get mixed up and an officer of the 11th SUSSEX finding his way to Bn HQs enables an officer to go out and help to guide sections to their proper places. Ammunition dump for the Brigade is blown up and we have a few casualties trying to locate it. No lines of telephones to front line. Communication entirely by runner. Communication to the rear is by visual and pigeon post.

[25 September 1917: front line at Polygon Wood]

Impossible to get runners beyond support line by day.

About 5.30am hostile barrage renewed and enemy attacks on a front of about 2 miles.

We break up his attack on our front and drive him back with Lewis gun and rifle fire, except on our Right where he gained a footing in the Queens strong point and we lose several men and had several (say 20 captured.)

Enemy aeroplanes were flying very low over our lines co-operating with his attacking troops. None of ours appeared until 8am. Front line was reinforced by part of C Coy and a few men of B Coy. A party from Headquarters managed to get water and rations from JACKDAW DUMP.

[26 September 1917: front line at Polygon Wood]

About 2.30pm the enemy attempted a counter raid. 2 Platoons of our battalion drove this off, followed it up and drove the enemy off his line and occupied. This blow was delivered by 2/Lt Glen. Front line reinforced by the addition of 2/Lt Ancrum’s platoon.

Front line and support line was now well organised and we were able to get supplies and ammunition through the supports to the front until being relieved.

I am very pleased with the information,jdajd!

Thanks a lot!

Hans ;)

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  • 4 weeks later...

I too have an interest in Polygon Wood, see my entry under 'Western Front' today. I found a wealth of information through searching the net. My GG Uncle was KIA, shrapnel (sorry I always spell that wrong and did you know that a man called Shrapnel invented it?) to the head, at dusk, near the racecourse ( the 59th Battalion was slightly out of position) at Polygon Wood on 26th September, 1917. He was a member of the Australian Imperial Force. My most trivial question would have to be - When and who realised that the Wood was such a strange Polygon shape and that it should be called Polygon Wood? It must have been trimmed into that shape by the encroaching farmland and renamed as it took shape. And isn't Polygon an English word?

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Sherree

Welcome to the forum. I am sure there are other 'Diggers' on here (and I mean the Antipodean variety, not the Belgian archeologists!)...

I am sure another pal will guide you on the naming of Polygon Wood, but please note it comes from Greek (Poly = many, ie. many sided, as opposed to, say, an

Octagon or Pentagon).

I guess it was so named by the Tommies, but I stand to be corrected.

Ian

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Don't mind, Ian,

Before that (WW1 & further back) Polygon Wood was once a part of "Nonnenbossche", mentioned on military maps as: "Bois des Nonnes" and "Nunswood".

Regards, Hans

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Hans,

Are German stories of any help to you? I have the diary of RIR 238, who went through some gruesome fighting in Polygon Wood in july 1917. The story covers quite a lot of pages though. I can scan the pages for you, but ofcourse they'll be in German! If you're interested and your German is a little rusty, I'll be happy to translate them for you.

regards

Roel

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Hello Roel,

Yes, I would be very pleased with those German stories. No, you don't have to translate them. My German is not so rusty. Thank you very much in advance!

Regards,

Hans

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RIR 238 was in fact a bit (about 500 m to 1 km) to the West, fighting in Nonnebosschen and Glencorse Wood.

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Don't mind, Ian,

Before that (WW1 & further back) Polygon Wood was once a part of "Nonnenbossche", mentioned on military maps as: "Bois des Nonnes" and "Nunswood".

Regards, Hans

Hello Hans, what do those words mean in English? When the Woods were known by those names they were probably not in the polygon shape that they later become, do you think. Or maybe once man invented aeroplanes and could look down from the skies and see the weird shape of the woods they just started referring to them as Polygon?

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Sherree,

Once upon a time..............there was an "abbey of nuns" within the woods, and so they called the place: "Nunswood" or "Nonnenbossche".

Nuns=Nonnen (Nonnes=French)

Wood=Bossche (Bois=French)

I hope this makes it more clear to you?!

The shape of the wood is for another time. Ok?

Hans

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Just looking at Rose Coombes - it seems that prior to 1914 there was the Ypres Military Riding School situated here - The Polygon. (Infering the wood was named after the riding school)?

Also of course the Buttes, which was the Belgian Army's old firing range as long ago as 1870.

Ian

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You are mostly correct, Ian.

I just read that the name "Polygone" was first mentioned on the maps of the Dutchmen (Netherlands) during their occupation of Flanders after they had conquered Napoleon at Waterloo. "Polygone" was the indication for a piece of land (as you wrote before: many sided) which was used for military shooting exercise, mostly for artillery. What "Polygone" concerns in our interest as "Polygon Wood", it was for the first time published (officialy) at the land registry of Zonnebeke on 31 August 1829. So, approximately one year before the independance of Belgium, the name was already in use.

I hope you find this interesting,

Friendly,

Hans

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Yes Hans, I find that very interesting, I'm not sure why I do, but I do!

Is there any chance of a photo of the ground, near the buttes, 200 to 300 yards from the main road near the front trench?

Also is it true to say that you can stand any where in Polygon Woods and be near the racecourse, because the woods are so small?

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Before that (WW1 & further back) Polygon Wood was once a part of "Nonnenbossche", mentioned on military maps as: "Bois des Nonnes" and "Nunswood".

Hans.

By 1914, Nonnebosschen was separate to Polygone Wood. The below scan shows a segment of a British trenchmap of September 1916 showing the area. Hope this is of use to you.

Dave.

post-357-1131847266.jpg

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Dave,

Now that, is a great map of Polygon Wood and the Nun's Wood is shown separately too. Thanks for sharing that map Dave.

Sherree

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Hans,

There's some info on my site about the Australian involvement at Polygon Wood: www.diggertours.com/polygon.htm

I've had a few problems lately with a rather 'similar' version of my text on diggerhistory.info, but please rest assured this is the original!

Cheers,

Mat

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