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Battle of the Dunes, July 1917


Hugh Pattenden
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On Remembrance Sunday 2018 at 11 a.m. I laid 2 Poppy Wreaths at the British War Memorial 1914-1918 at Nieuport for Sapper Samuel Coade R.E. and also for 2KRRC.  2 other British 1917 K.I.A. families were also there to pay their Respects; Duke of Wellington's Regiment and King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. At 11 a.m. the bells of nearby Nieuport Church rang out a peal of bells to mark the end of the Great War Conflict - very poignant. The slight shrapnel damage to the bronze panels of the British War Memorial 1914-1918 was caused by an RAF raid in WW2.  The sand Dunes on the eastern bank of the Yser canal where 2KRRC and 1st Northamptonshire were attacked on 10th July are still largely viewable, there is a small military camp and also a large coastal Nature Reserve there now and the Ground can be viewed well. There is a stone cross memorial on the top of the Grande Dune marking the grave of a WW1 French Officer.  Kristof Jacobs showed me the Ground earlier in the week - he is very knowledgeable about WW1 Nieuport

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Thanks for this Chris - it's marvellous that you were there in person to remember these men

:poppy:

 

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I have just finished reading Liz's excellent book "The Abadies" which is available by Mail Order from the website of the Royal Green Jackets Museum at Winchester. Her book has an interesting colour portrait of Lt Col R.N. Abadie now held by 2nd Battalion The Rifles. In her book she says that a party of 18 from 2KRRC escaped by swimming the Yser River. Only 4 from 2ATC also escaped including Sapper John Coade - 2ATC were working in the 2KRRC sector digging 2 mine galleries under the German Front Line. I will send the book on to Kristof Jacobs in Nieuport who is interested in Lt Col Abadie and 2KRRC

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It is indeed a well produced and very well written book.  I am the proud owner of a copy signed by the author :)

 

Mark

 

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Many thanks for these unexpected compliments, both!

Chris, thank you very much indeed for sending the book to Kristof Jacobs.  I do hope it stands up to his scrutiny, as I have never actually been to Nieuport.

 

Liz

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23 hours ago, Chris Coade said:

On Remembrance Sunday 2018 at 11 a.m. I laid 2 Poppy Wreaths at the British War Memorial 1914-1918 at Nieuport for Sapper Samuel Coade R.E. and also for 2KRRC.  2 other British 1917 K.I.A. families were also there to pay their Respects; Duke of Wellington's Regiment and King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. At 11 a.m. the bells of nearby Nieuport Church rang out a peal of bells to mark the end of the Great War Conflict - very poignant. The slight shrapnel damage to the bronze panels of the British War Memorial 1914-1918 was caused by an RAF raid in WW2.  The sand Dunes on the eastern bank of the Yser canal where 2KRRC and 1st Northamptonshire were attacked on 10th July are still largely viewable, there is a small military camp and also a large coastal Nature Reserve there now and the Ground can be viewed well. There is a stone cross memorial on the top of the Grande Dune marking the grave of a WW1 French Officer.  Kristof Jacobs showed me the Ground earlier in the week - he is very knowledgeable about WW1 Nieuport

Hi Chris

I am sorry I have not logged on to the forum for a while and just seen your posts. I met Kristof at Ypres on remembrance Sunday just after the parade, and he also showed me and my father around the dunes in September this year. He has a great deal of knowledge particularly on the tunnels as I'm sure you know. My wife and I spent the day in Ypres all day Sunday 11th which was a great experience but we visited Nieuport and the Memorial to the Missing on Saturday 10th Nov, although faded, the cross my father placed in September was still there. My Great Uncle was in the 2/KRRC (D company) and captured on that fateful day in 1917 and we visited his grave in Kassel in September this year after visiting Nieuwpoort. It is nice to see that others are remembering the fallen.

I will post again soon about my visit to Kassel as after checking for others buried at the Niederzwerhen CWGC cemetery I discovered at least 18 POWs buried there were captured at Nieuport during the battle of the dunes.

Martin

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I wish I posted these on Friday to mark the centenary of the death of two of the 18 'Battle of the Dunes' POWs at Niederzwerhen CWGC cemetery, Kassel, Germany.

Rest in peace:

Fred Johnson (Age 23) 1/Northamptonshires

Clair Nielsen (23) 2/Australian Tunnelling Coy with Percy Hughes (23) D Coy 2/KRRC (also captured on 10th July 1917, died 4th Nov 1918)

 

IMG_3914.jpeg.11244b1c4f1a012d0d75369d8e7de9a1.jpegIMG_3930.thumb.jpeg.c86b6014bea732f8cbe0bca9629654cb.jpeg

Edited by Martin George
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Martin

Yes your Father's wicker cross is still at Nieuport - photo taken on Remembrance Sunday 11th November 2018.

Chris

 

bwm.nieuport.JPG

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Another of the POWs from Nieuport died a century ago today (27/11/1918) and is buried At Niederzwehren cemetery. Y/934 Harry Brown of D company 2/KRRC. RIP

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  • 3 weeks later...

100 Years ago today:

Remembering my Great Uncle Arthur George, captured at Nieuport 10th July 1917, POW in Bavaria, died at Steinbach, Stotten A.M, Bavaria. Reburied at Niederzwerhen Cemetery, Kassel, Germany.

ASGeorge.jpg.c6c2ab019a31de0f9f9812c37233fffb.jpg

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Remembered :poppy:

 

Martin, had your great-uncle been in hospital  for a long time when he died, do you know? 

 

I notice looking at the records for Niederzwehren Cemetery that about 200 of the 1709 British (including Empire) men buried there died after the Armistice, many in 1919.

 

 

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11 hours ago, Liz in Eastbourne said:

Remembered :poppy:

 

Martin, had your great-uncle been in hospital  for a long time when he died, do you know? 

 

I notice looking at the records for Niederzwehren Cemetery that about 200 of the 1709 British (including Empire) men buried there died after the Armistice, many in 1919.

 

 

Hi Liz

All I know is Arthur died at his ‘employers’ house and was found by a watchman as per his death certificate which is with his Service record. There were many in the remote areas of Bavaria that were not repatriated until Dec/Jan 1919.  Maybe later for some. 

 

I found at least 18 POWs from Nieuport were re-buried at Niederzwerhen and at around half of these died after the armistice. As there are four main cemeteries in Germany I imagine there are more in these cemeteries.

 

I found the book The War behind the wire by John Lewis-Stempel very informative on the fate of British POWs held in Belgium and Germany during and after the war.

 

Regards

 

Martin

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Thank you, Martin. Interesting.  Because 'my' chap taken prisoner at Nieuport died three weeks later and never left Belgium, I didn't pursue the fate of all the others. I must read that book.

 

Liz

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For those who are interested in the area post Strandfest, Benedict Williamson's Happy Days in France and Flanders (attached 1/5th D of Wellington's, 49th Div) has a good, descriptive (if short) account of the line there in the first half of August 1917 (plus a few days before the opening of Third Ypres, 31st July).

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Strandfest,

 

A wounded British soldier is recovered. from the battlefield. 

STRANDFESTs-l1600WW.jpg

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  • 9 months later...

I've just discovered my grandfather Stephen Doncaster was taken prisoner at Nieuport on 10th July 1917 - he was a Gunner with the Royal Field Artillery.  He went from Termonde to Dulmen to Lechfeld camps.  Being from farming stock, all we knew was he worked on a farm in Bavaria and sent a postcard home to his wife-to-be.  I think he was repatriated in Jan 1919 but not entirely sure.  Still searching for information.

 

Elaine

Edited by ElaineK
spelt Dulmen wrong
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11 hours ago, BillyH said:

Elaine,

Did you get that information from International Red Cross records?

If not, you should look for his 2 sheets here (hope the link works) :

https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/180861/3/2/

 

BillyH,

Yes - thank you for passing on the link.  I found that yesterday then started browsing for Nieuport and the date.  Seems he was one of many.    All we had was a postcard from Bavaria - we just knew he was a POW.    

 

Elaine

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He was part of "Y" Trench Mortar Battery in 1st Division ("Y/1 T.M.B.") - they would have been in the trenches in the dunes supporting the Northamptons and K.R.R.C.

 

The War Diary page for 10th July 1917 is on Ancestry here if you have a subscription:

 

Y/1 Trench Mortar Battery

 

 

Steve.

Edited by Stebie9173
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15 hours ago, Stebie9173 said:

He was part of "Y" Trench Mortar Battery in 1st Division ("Y/1 T.M.B.") - they would have been in the trenches in the dunes supporting the Northamptons and K.R.R.C.

 

The War Diary page for 10th July 1917 is on Ancestry here if you have a subscription:

 

Y/1 Trench Mortar Battery

 

 

Steve.

Thank you - I wondered what those letters meant.  Not on Ancestry at the moment but will look when I do!

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Some extracts from the War Diary of Y/1* Trench Mortar Battery:

 

Quote

 

War Diary of "Y/1 Trench Mortar Battery"

 

July 1917

 

Personnel

 

2 officers - Lieutenant C H {Carl Henderson} Bulcock M.C., Royal Field Artillery and Second Lieutenant J A G {James Alfred Garnet} Enright, Royal Field Artillery

Other ranks - 1 Sergeant, 2 Corporals, 2 Bombardiers, 16 Gunners

 

1 July 1917

 

Lieut. C H Bulcock R.F.A. granted leave to the UK.

Second Lieutenant W {William} Woodstack R.F.A. attached from 1st Divisional Ammunition Column

 

The battery was in action at the Dunes at Nieuport with 4 x 2" trench mortars. One half of the battery manned the guns, being relieved by the other half after 4 days.

 

2 to 4 July 1917

 

Detachments register on enemy support trenches and strongpoints. Remainder at billets. Respirator drill and cleaning 2" Newton 2" trench mortars.

 

5-7-1917

 

1 Corporal, 1 Bombardier, 8 men relieve detachments at guns.

 

6-7-1917

 

Men at billets at Coxyde Bains - laying 6" Newton Trench Mortar.

 

8-7-1917

 

Detachments fire on enemy strongpoints.

 

9-7-1917

 

Second Lieutenant Woodstack, 1 Corporal, 1 Bombardier and 8 Gunners in action, the guns being about 500 yards east of Yser Canal at approximately M.15.a.0.9. The targets were enemy support trenches and strongpoints. The infantry battalions holding the line were the 2nd King's Royal Rifle Corps and 1st Northamptonshire Regiment.

 

Second Lieutenant J A G Enright granted leave to UK. Second Lieutenant F C {Frederick Courtnay} Boully R.F.A. of X/1 T.M.B. to command Y/1 T.M.B. during absence of Lieutenant Bulcock and Second Lieutenant Enright.

 

10-7-1917

 

At 6 a.m. on the 10th the enemy commenced to bombard our trenches very heavily chiefly with 5.9" howitzers and trench mortars. The bombardment last over 12 hours with one or two pauses of half an hour.

 

At 12.00 p.m. the three pontoon bridges over the canal were destroyed and all means of communication with those on the east side of the Yser were cut. No authentic information as to how the men at the guns fared during the bombardment is available as the whole party is missing, but it is reported that when the enemy attacked at 7.15 p.m. they were still firing rapidly.

 

As the enemy advanced to the east bank of the Yser all guns and stores were lost.

 

Second Lieutenant F C Boully of X/1 Battery, attached to Y/1, and 10 other ranks missing.

 

The remaining personnel, being out of action, remained in billets at Coxyde Bains.

 

 

 

 

* There were three Medium Trench Mortar batteries in 1st Division "X/1", "Y/1" and "Z/1". Similar named batteries were in most divisions, e.g. 8th Division would have "X/8", "Y/8" and "Z/8", etc. The trench medium trench mortar batteries were armed with 2" trench mortars up until mid-1917. In fact, the trench mortar batteries were in the process of switching to 6" trench mortars at the time of the Battle of the Dunes. The links below show the 2" trench mortars - known as "toffee apples" because of the shape of the projectiles.

 

https://howlingpixel.com/i-en/2-inch_medium_mortar

 

https://armourersbench.com/2019/03/17/ww1-2-inch-trench-mortar/

 

 

 

Steve.

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