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steve140968

Cavalry slaughter .

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steve140968
:unsure: Can anyone please tell me which cavalry units / battalions were involved in the carnage at Monchy le preux in April 1917 ? Many thanks , Steve .

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bob lembke
:unsure: Can anyone please tell me which cavalry units / battalions were involved in the carnage at Monchy le preux in April 1917 ? Many thanks , Steve .

In a similar (or possibly the same) vein, my father told me about what he felt was the last British cavalry charge on the West Front, where he thought that about a brigade of cavalry charged across a wheat field, but that the Germans had anticipated it, and strung steel wire in the vegetation, and brought up MG units.

As my father was a Pionier, he may have been involved in the wiring. His oral history has proved surprisingly accurate. But the subject of this anecdote is off the usual subjects of his stories, as I remember them. Does this ring any bells? I, to a general extent, know where he was at different times in the war, from documents that he saved.

Bob Lembke

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Stebie9173

Cheerful Sacrifice states the charge occured on 11th April 1917 involving the 8th Cavalry Brigade. A squadron of the Essex Yeomanry made a probing advance to Lone Copse, NW of the village, while a detachment of 10th Hussars galloped towards the village itself and were met by machine-gun fire and high-explosive artillery fire. The artillery fire also hit the rest of the 8th Cavalry Brigade on the slopes of Orange Hill, but a snowstorm allowed them to escape.

From "Stalemate" (J H Johnson)

"During a lull in the snowstorm an excited shout was raised that our cavalry were coming up! Sure enough, away behind us, moving quickly in extended order down the slope of Orange Hill, was line upon line of mounted men covering the whole extent of the hillside as far as we could see. It was a thrilling moment for us infantrymen, who had never dreamt that we should see a real cavalry charge, which was evidently what was intended.

In their advance the lines of horsemen passed over us rapidly, although from our holes in the ground it was a rather 'worm's eye' view we got of the splendid spectacle of so many mounted men in action.

It might have been a fine sight, but it was a wicked waste of men and horses, for the enemy immediately opened on them a hurricane of every missile they had"

(Attributed from And All for What, D W J Cuddeford, 1933)

Hope this helps,

Steve.

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joseph

Steve,

GIBBS From Bapaume to Passchendaele 1917

It is a small place that village, but yesterday, perched high beyond Orange Hill, it was the was the storm-centre of all the world conflict, and the Battle of Arras paused till it was taken. The story of the fight for it should live in history, and is full of strange and tragic drama. Our cavalry- the 10th Hussars, the Essex Yeomanry, and the Blues- helped in the capture of this high village, behaving with the greatest acts of sacrifice to the ideals of duty. I saw them going up over Observation Ridge and before they reached that point; the dash of the splendid bodies of men riding at the gallop in a snow-storm which had covered them with white mantles and crowned their steel hats. Afterwards I saw some of these men being carried back wounded over the battlefield, and the dead body of their general, on a stretcher, taken by a small party of troopers through the ruins of another village to his resting place.

Many gallant horses lay dead, and those which came back were caked in mud, and walked with drooping heads, exhausted in every limb. The bodies of dead boys lay all over these fields. But the cavalry rode into Monchy and captured the north side of the village, and the enemy fled from them.

Part of a journalists report on the battle, but nice to read. Hope it helps.

Regards Charles

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joseph

Steve,

GIBBS From Bapaume to Passchendaele 1917

Meanwhile English troops of the 37th Division – Warwicks and Bedfords, East and West Lancashire battalions, and the Yorks & Lancs- were advancing on the right and linking up for the attack on Monchy in conjunction with the Jocks(15th Division). On the left bodies of cavalry assembled for a combined attack with Hotchkiss and machine guns; and at about five o’clock yesterday morning (reported on the 12th April 1917) they swept upon the village.

Regards Charles

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steve140968

;) Thanks Bob , Steve and Charles . This is very helpful . I seem to recall reading , but i'm not sure where that the 3rd Dragoons were involved in the attack around this time .

Regards ,

Steve.

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Stebie9173

I think the 3rd Dragoons were mentioned as "advance guard" to the Brigade, but I couldn't see any mention of them actually advancing on the village.

Steve.

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bob lembke
;) Thanks Bob , Steve and Charles . This is very helpful . I seem to recall reading , but i'm not sure where that the 3rd Dragoons were involved in the attack around this time .

                                              Regards ,

                                                  Steve.

Steve;

However, do you think that this was the engagement that my father described to me, with wire (not barbed wire) strung in the crops to trip up the horses? Since the battle you describe was in April, perhaps not, crops would not have grown to any size, or possibly had not been sown yet. Any ideas?

Bob Lembke

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Stephen Nulty
Afterwards I saw some of these men being carried back wounded over the battlefield, and the dead body of their general, on a stretcher, taken by a small party of troopers through the ruins of another village to his resting place.

Anybody know who this general was?

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Paul Reed

It was Brig-Gen BULKELEY-JOHNSON. He was killed during a reconnaisance of the area.

Name: BULKELEY-JOHNSON, CHARLES BULKELEY

Initials: C B

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Brigadier General

Regiment: General Staff

Unit Text: A.D.C. Commanding 8th Cavalry Brigade

Secondary Regiment: 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys)

Secondary Unit Text: formerly

Age: 49

Date of Death: 11/04/1917

Additional information: Officer of the Legion of Honour (France), Order of St. George, 3rd Class (Russia), Order of the Medjidie, 4th Class (Turkey). Son of Francis and Jane Sophia Bulkeley-Johnson.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: A. 30.

Cemetery: GOUY-EN-ARTOIS COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION

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bob lembke
It was Brig-Gen BULKELEY-JOHNSON. He was killed during a reconnaisance of the area.

Date of Death: 11/04/1917

DOD 11/4/17 or 4/11/17 (i.e., 11. 04. 17.) ???

Bob Lembke

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Stebie9173

English version.

11th April 1917.

Steve.

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steve140968

;) Thanks guys . Charles , i'm really not sure when your father would have been describing . As you say it does seem that it may have been later on in the year to have been Monchy le preux / April . The winter of 1916/17 was notoriously harsh , with snow in April so with the mention of wheat i find it unlikely , though i stand to be corrected . Perhaps someone with more knowledge than myself on the subject my be able to shed some light .

Regards ,

Steve .

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Stebie9173

Definitely snowing at Arras,. Don't think it would have been then.

In addition to the Essex Yeomanry and 10th Hussars, the Northamptonshire Yeomanry also followed the Essex's "pell-mell ride" into Monchy on the 11th.

As for Brigadier-General Bulkeley-Johnson's death, Cheerful Sacrifice mentions that after the village had been captured, the General had moved up to assess the situation. Meeting up with Captain D W J Cuddeford of the HLI (mentioned in my post above) the General insisted on seeing the enemy dispositions which required running from foxhole to foxhole, which according to Cuddeford, he was either too old or dignified to do and walked straight on instead. Inevitably he was hit in the cheekbone by a snipers bullet and fell dead.

Hope this helps,

Steve.

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PhilB
. As you say it does seem that it may have been later on in the year                                                  Regards ,

                                                    Steve .

I have items to a 12 Lancer (5 Cav Bde, 2 Cav Div) KIA 30/11/17 in "a mounted advance at gallop for Gauche Wood (Cambrai). The mounted effort failed under artillery and heavy machine gun fire"

Is this a possible candidate for the charge described above? Can anyone add any further details? Phil B

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Roy Evans
Steve;

However, do you think that this was the engagement that my father described to me, with wire (not barbed wire) strung in the crops to trip up the horses? Since the battle you describe was in April, perhaps not, crops would not have grown to any size, or possibly had not been sown yet. Any ideas?

Bob Lembke

I'm an engineer not a farmer, but I do know that there are a number of varieties of 'winter wheat' which although nowhere near fully grown would be quite high enough in April to conceal trip wires. What I don't know is whether they were around in 1917.

Roy

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Stebie9173

Another possibility for Bob's story is Bazentin Ridge, 14-7-1916.

Although not exactly a cavalry charge the cavalry was supposed to be deployed in the area between Delville Wood and High Wood but only the 7th Dragoon Guards and 20th Deccan Horse really managed to make it even to the starting point. They were then stopped short by machine-gun fire.

Steve.

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Adam Harland

Monchy was occupied by only the 10th Royal Hussars and the Essex Yeomanry, the village being entered over the road from orange Hill, meaning that it was entered from the NW. The leading squadrons got over this, and it was the subsequent squadrons that were caught in the german artillery fire. Communications were established with the 3rd dragoon Guards on the right early in the day. Major The Earl of Pembroke's Squadron of the Royal Horse Guards ( who else?) were sent to reinforce the defence but were unable to get into the village.

It is noted in the regimental history that Captain lord Gerard ( of guess who) was wounded no fewer than 14 times, having one arm and one leg broken. He was not the only man to do his bit that day: Lance Corporal Harold Mugford of the Essex Yeomanry recieved a Victoria Cross..'although both his legs were broken, he remained with his machine gun in action, refusing to go to the dresing station'. Mugford had been a member of the Yeomanry prewar, training in the machine gun section. When the MGC was formed all the regimental MG sections became part of this, so he was attached to the 8th machine Gun Squadron ( although the regimental history obviously counts him as an Essex yeomanry man).

You may wish to spare a though for Lt J Swire of the Essex Yeomanry, who was detailed to the 'horrible, but necessary, duty of destroying' the injured horses, the casualties lying so thick it was necessary to climb over them along the street.

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Borden Battery

Here is an excerpt from the official Canadian source:

In the Third Army's sector, despite General Allenby's assurance to his troops that

they were "now pursuing a defeated enemy", the only gain on the 11th was the capture of

Monchy-le-Preux, just north of the Arras-Cambrai road. The 3rd Cavalry Division had an

important share in clearing and holding the village, but its intended role of exploitation did

not materialize, and that evening General Allenby, recognizing the obvious, withdrew his

three cavalry divisions from the battle. Little progress was made during the next three

days, and on 15 April Haig, overruling Allenby's desire to continue the offensive, called a

halt to allow time for much-needed reorganization, and particularly the restoration of

communications, before launching a coordinated attack on a bigger scale. The first three

days' fighting had cost the Third Army 8238 casualties-about 700 less than those suffered

by the Canadian Corps over the same period. The Army had captured more than 7000

prisoners and 112 guns.

Source: Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War - Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919 pp 242-243

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steve140968
;) Thanks very much guys for the information . Adam , any idea of numbers/percentages of horses killed ? Regards , Steve .

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Adam Harland

Steve,

sorry there are no notes on the horse casualties. The 10th hussars lost 2 Officers KIA, 7 WIA, 25 OR KIA, 150 WIA, 5 MIA, and the Essex Yeomanry 1 Officer KIA, 12 MIA, 18 ORs KIA, 94 WIA, 10 MIA.

The Brigade is described as reduced in half by this action.

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steve140968
;) Thanks Adam . Are you getting your information from the respective war diary's as it seems very detailed ? Regards , Steve .

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Stebie9173

According to 'Cheerful Sacrifice' all the horses of 'C' Squadron 10th Hussars were killed in the box barrage on Monchy on the night of the 11th. "The deaths of the horses of 8th Cavalry Brigade are not recorded but after the action 600 Remounts were drawn", it states.

Steve.

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steve140968
;) Thanks Steve . What an incredible slaughter of both man and horse . I suppose that with the on-going battle these men and horses would have been left for some time . Has anyone any idea as to whether the great war saw a larger loss of cavalry in a single action ? Regards , Steve .

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Adam Harland
;) Thanks Adam . Are you getting your information from the respective war diary's as it seems very detailed ? Regards , Steve .

Steve, the source is 'The 10th PWO Royal Hussars and The Essex Yeomanry during the European War 1914-1918' by Lt Col FHDC Whitmore

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