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Battle of the Dunes, July 1917


Hugh Pattenden
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The second question then, is do I know you?! :D

Here is Ben Cope and his wife, Helena Eliza "Ella" Jueitt (looking at him on Ancestry and the like, his name is properly Ben and not Benjamin as some sources state).

post-6536-1274378707.jpg

Despite what the story in the Northampton Independent says, I can find no other evidence of his earlier woundings - yet....

Here are my musings on Sgt Cope:

- Probably enlisted in approximately the second week of January 1913, age 16.

- Likely to have been posted to 1st Battalion at Blackdown Camp, Aldershot from mid-1913

- Embarked to France as a Private with 1st Bn. Northamptonshire Regiment on 13-8-1914

- Entitled to 1914 Star, clasp & roses/BWM/VM

- Promoted to Lance-Corporal by May 1915 (per Sgt Yerrell letter)

- “Wounded at Nonne Boschen, Ypres on 11 November 1914”, “at Richebourg during the Battle of Aubers Ridge on 9 May 1915”, “at Loos in September 1915”, “at Albert in 1916/1917” and at the Battle of the Dunes, per story in the Northampton Independent. Only the last wound is substantiated. *

- Reported as Wounded as a Sgt. per the Official Casualty List of 16-8-1917 {Peterborough}, probably with 1st Bn. at the Battle of the Dunes.

- Awarded the Military Medal as a Sgt. with 1st Bn. for his part in the rearguard of “C” Company and for swimming the Yser River with a rope to enable wounded survivors of the Battle of the Dunes on the 10-7-1917 to cross and escape, gazetted LG 17-9-1917 "9624 Sjt. B. Cope, North'n R (Peterborough)"

- Mentioned in story of 28013 Harry Bradshaw from 10-7-1917, Northampton Mercury, 7-9-1917, plus Sgt Cope’s own story of the Dunes published in the Northampton Independent of 28-7-1917

- Does not appear on Peterborough Absent Voters List for the 1918 General Election

- Transferred to Section "B" Army Reserve, 4-2-1920

- Likely to have been born in mid-1896 at Peterborough per BMD records (Registered in Jul, Aug, Sep quarter).

- Third son of Martin and Emily Cope (nee Bollard, married in 1888 at Peterborough), of 77 (other sources state 101) Eastgate, Peterborough. Brother of Frederick Mark (born 1890 at Peterborough, later Sig. Sgt. Frederick M Cope, 83942 180th M.G. Coy. & 60th Bn. M.G.C., BWM/VM – M.E.F., Jul 1917 to Feb 1919 – see WO363), John (1892), twins Annie and Emma (1893), Jane (1895), Nelly (1898), Grace (1902) and Ethel (1906).

- Married to Helena Eliza “Ella” Jueitt (birth registered in OND quarter of 1896) of East Ham London, on Sunday 22 July 1917 at St Mary’s Church, Peterborough

- Likely to have been the father of John W M Cope (St Olave, London, 1916), Edith R Cope (St Olave, London, 1920), William M Cope (St Olave, 1928), and John Cope (St Olave, 1933) (all shown as having the mother's maiden name of Jueitt).

- A Helena Eliza Cope (born 8 September 1896) returned to the UK from Montreal arriving at Liverpool aboard the "Empress of France" on 7 August 1956 with Joyce Winfred Cope (born 30-1-1930). Also aboard was Barry Martin Cope, born 10-12-1950. Home address was given as 539 Devon Mansions, Tooley St., London, S.E.1. The date of birth of Helena Eliza Cope is consistent with the registration of the birth of Helena Eliza Jueitt. (EDIT: Barry M Cope appears to be the son of William M Cope and Joyce W Wyatt, who is presumably the Joyce Winifred Cope on the ship's passenger list).

- Possibly died at Ashford, Kent in 1980, age 83/84. If identification is correct then he was born on 10 August 1896. This is based on the fact that he is consistently "Ben Cope" (not Benjamin) in records and that the year of birth matches.

* Notes regarding his woundings. The Times casualty lists show those men wounded at Aubers Ridge on 9 May 1915 and at Loos on 25 September 1915 in long lists published on the same day of the Times. I cannot find Ben Cope on either these lists or those surrounding those dates. I haven't fully identified the relevant lists for 11-11-1914 when the battalion was at Nonne Boschen, but I can't find him there either. What I haven't done is gone through the local paper with a fine tooth comb looking for the woundings, as yet.

I believe that Ben Cope's records are gone, but his brother's records do exist.

Steve.

P.S. If ever you grow bored of holding Sgt Cope's medals..... ;)

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Steve - I left Peterborough 1965 - born Lincoln Road - now living in Colchester.

I am truly most grateful for your time and trouble - it is super having a picture of the man to go with his medals., plus all the information you have provided is astonishing.

again THANKYOU

nb - how do you send PM's ?

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No problem, Bob. I will bear you in mind if I find anything else.

You may have gone to school with my dad Peter - attended Lincoln Road School, born 1941 and raised in the GNR "cottages".

You need 5 messages posted to send PMs.

Steve.

P.S. Incidentally, Sgt Cope's story is one of the things that really "hooked me" into Great War research.

This is the same photo but I have extracted Ben from the other picture and doctored the background a bit...

post-6536-1274383968.jpg

Having looked at the other picture again I think he has two wound stripes on his left cuff.

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Thanks for posting the picture of the Bruges hospital, Cnock. It is great to see the places that these men would have been.

Steve.

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Some photos from a photo album I was looking at the other day...

(post 'strandfest'?.... then again - are they even of the area?...I have a gut feeling that they may date from earlier in the war, but they're here for interest's sake anyway)...

...

...

post-357-1274433115.jpg

post-357-1274433177.jpg

post-357-1274433202.jpg

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No problem, Bob. I will bear you in mind if I find anything else.

You may have gone to school with my dad Peter - attended Lincoln Road School, born 1941 and raised in the GNR "cottages".

You need 5 messages posted to send PMs.

Steve.

P.S. Incidentally, Sgt Cope's story is one of the things that really "hooked me" into Great War research.

This is the same photo but I have extracted Ben from the other picture and doctored the background a bit...

post-6536-1274383968.jpg

Having looked at the other picture again I think he has two wound stripes on his left cuff.

Many thanks Steve - it does look like two wound stripes - I think my brothers went to Licoln Rd school - I was 5 when I left Peterborough - cheers Bob

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Hi Dave,

unfortunately we cannot see the (dameged) pier of Nieuwpoort at the back of the pick,

which would be a good reference mark

anyway this kind of barbed wire rows were on the beach, near the dunes overrun on 10/7/1917.

regards,

Cnock

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No problem, Bob. I will bear you in mind if I find anything else.

You may have gone to school with my dad Peter - attended Lincoln Road School, born 1941 and raised in the GNR "cottages".

You need 5 messages posted to send PMs.

Steve.

P.S. Incidentally, Sgt Cope's story is one of the things that really "hooked me" into Great War research.

This is the same photo but I have extracted Ben from the other picture and doctored the background a bit...

post-6536-1274383968.jpg

Having looked at the other picture again I think he has two wound stripes on his left cuff.

Hi Stve - many thanks - just a quick question - does the citation exist or contained within war diary fopr Ben Cope's MM ? kind regards Bob

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Citations are very hard to come by for MMs as I am sure you know. The definitive citation doesn't exist as far as I am aware.

The "citation" as I have posted is really partly made up from the various sources - battalion, history, Northamptonshire and ther Great War, and the letter of Pte Bradhaw, all of which give a slight variation on the same theme:

Battalion History:

I was really nearer seven o’clock when the German Marine Division – first-class troops – attacked the junction between the 60th and 48th. The attack was made in three waves, and when the British line was pierced the attackers turned outwards, splitting into two separate attacks in the rear of the two battalions. If the Germans expected little or no resistance from enemies stunned to impotence by the awful bombardment to which they had been subjected, they were soon undeceived. As they surged forward across the wreck of the defences of the 48th, isolated groups of men who had survived the bombardment shot them down from shell holes. Captain Aylett, assisted by Second-Lieutenants R C Cowley and N V H Coghill, offered a particularly effective resistance to the enemy. By his orders Lewis gunners of “C” Company had buttoned their tunics around two of their guns to shield them from the flying sand. Hence, when the enemy had crossed the point where our front line had been, he was able to direct a deadly enfilade fire against their advancing ranks. Such guns of the divisional artillery as still remained fit for action rained shrapnel upon the attackers and caused considerable execution.

"The most detailed information that was received for some time was the narrative of Sergeant Mansfield, the battalion scout sergeant, who escaped across the Geleide Creek and informed the battalion on the right of the Northamptonshires of the situation. The commanding officer of this battalion thereupon formed a defensive flank to check the farther advance of the enemy. Sergeant Mansfield received the D.C.M. for his services, and Sergeant Cope, a survivor who took part in the stand made by “C” Company, was awarded the Military Medal."

Northamptonshire and the Great War:

At seven o’clock in the evening a whole German division advanced in three waves, in outflanking formation, the manifest intention being to cut off our men completely. They were preceded by parties of marines carrying flammenwerfer, smoke and petrol bombs and stick handle bombs. A few of our men – eight in all – managed to swim the Yser with bullets hissing all around them, and Sergeant B Cope of the Northamptons, although wounded, swam the river to warn the headquarters of the next division of what was happening. Two riflemen, under continuous fire, also swam the river with ropes which they fastened to a pontoon in mid stream and assisted a party of 22 of their regiment to escape.

and his own story in post #43:

 

Interestingly, and I have noted this before in post #43 the warning of the neighbouring division was noted to have been done by Sgt Mansfield who was awarded the D.C.M.:

LG 17-9-1917

27223 Sjt. A. Mansfield (Rogate, Sussex), North'n R. {1st Battalion}

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He helped to form a defensive position at a very critical moment when our line was broken, and thereby held the enemy back for a considerable time. When his battalion was nearly surrounded by the enemy and casualties were very heavy, he made his way through intense hostile barrage to another battalion and explained the situation; by so doing he enabled the enemy's further advance to be checked. He finally returned to our lines with most valuable information, having set a magnificent example of initiative and devotion.

This Citation is almost exactly what we would have expected to see for 9624 Sgt. Ben Cope’s actions in his defensive action with "C" Company, in swimming the Yser, and in reporting to the neighbouring battalion's commander.

Private Bradshaw's account of Sgt Cope swimming the river with a rope is most definite on his identification:

"The attack was begun just after seven and as the enemy had blown up all the bridges we were caught like rats in a trap, and it looked all over with every man Jack of us."

"I got a nasty wound in the left elbow about 8 o'clock, but I was comparatively lucky; how any of us escaped was a marvel. Hand-to-hand fighting was pretty general, but we were simply overwhelmed, and had nothing to do put get out of it the best way we could."

"But for the bravery of Sergt. Cope, of Peterborough, in bringing a rope across the river at full tide, I reckon it would have all been up with about a dozen of us, and as it was, with my left arm useless, I hardly know how I got across the other side."

 

Steve.

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Steve - yet again many thanks for your detailed information - regards Bob

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  • 4 weeks later...
Lieutenant Colonel Tollemache did indede survive and was a POW until the end of the war.

I have recently photographed the Brigade report from their War Diary which also contains a report by Captain Humphrey Taylor of the 2nd KRRC in a letter to his father, both of which mention the moment when Colonel Abadie was last seen, the Brigade report giving quite a lot of detail. captain Taylor's reported is limited by the fact that he received a head wound early in the battle, but he still gives plenty of detail.

And, yes, both reports mention Colonel Abadie fighting with revolver in hand when he was last seen. I suspect that it was this that was erroneuously credited to the Northamptons.

Steve.

Steve

I am so sorry; for some reason I didn't get the usual e-mail notification of these replies, and because I had become absorbed in developments in another of my research topics, entirely un-GW-related, I didn't look.

This is very interesting indeed - thank you very much. I don't know why I should want Abadie to have been heroic as I am not even related to him, but I did. I should love to see the brigade report or just Capt Taylor's report if it's possible for you to post it here (I don't know how long it is, of course). If not, I have a visit to Kew scheduled and can hardly wait to see it.

Best wishes

Liz

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Liz,

I'm sure I posted a transcription of the KRRC Chronicle article (plus its map) in another Topic on Nieuport Bains that has come and gone in the interim!

If you do a search on Nieuport and my user name, you should turn it up.

Cheers,

Mark

[Edit: did a quick look myself and although the map is there it looks like I e-mailed the scanned article to the various posters - not a transcript. PM me your e-mail address and I'll send you a copy.

I still recommend you do the search though - you'll find much additional useful material from Steve and myself.]

Mark

Please accept the same apologies as I've just given to Steve! Coincidentally, having been given a polite nudge by another correspondent to check the forum, I sent you a PM a couple of hours ago before seeing this message,and I see you've already replied, so I'll go and read it and try and get my act together. Thanks for your help.

Liz

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  • 3 weeks later...

As the anniversary of the Battle of the Dunes/Strandfest is on Saturday, it seems a good time for me to thank everyone on the forum for so much help towards understanding what happened - not easy for a very unmilitary researcher.

I had a very narrow interest at the outset three months ago, in the CO 2nd Btn KRRC, Lt-Col Richard Nevill Abadie, and started with Robert Dunlop's account on 'The long, long trail' website. On the German side in addition to reading previous posts here I read Jack Sheldon's account in Ch 1 of his book 'The German Army at Passchendaele' (published 2007, after this thread started). That gives a vivid account pp 37-41 of how an officer in the 10th Company Marine Infantry Regiment 1 captured a whole British regimental command post in a dugout. I don't know who the 'tall, senior officer wounded in the hand' was who gave himself up followed by his staff. Can it be matched to the British accounts?

It couldn't have been Abadie, as he died - Steve's comment from the Brigade diary helped here, and I still haven't read that, but hope to do so. Robert Dunlop gave me the National Archives ref. WO95/1273, which I did go and consult. I photocopied the Report on July 10th (written on July 14th) included with the KRRC War Diary for 1917 and Abadie's last message to A, B, C and D companies KRRC, handwritten on three small sheets of a Messages and Signals pad.

Mark Brockway has given me a huge amount of help with all his KRRC knowledge and sent me the KRRC Chronicle account as well as other Abadie mentions. I was interested to see that the Last Message reproduced in the Chronicle is slightly different from, and shorter than, the one in WO95/1273, in which there is an extra bit in the middle for A company. They are separately handwritten and both timed 2.42pm. Also in the Chronicle there is an account of how, after their HQ dugout was blown out, Abadie and officers went at about 3pm to an underground tunnel already occupied by 'about forty men of an Australian Tunnelling Company' without officers, who were placed by Abadie under a KRRC officer. Later about half the Australians surrendered and some must have survived so I wonder what their story was? Perhaps that's in the Brigade diary.

Abadie apparently hoped and said that help would be forthcoming from air or sea but none was; he didn't know that orders had been given not to call on naval assistance. 'The Colonel repeatedly encouraged all about him by saying that our own aeroplanes could not fail to appear within half an hour at the latest; but not a single one did so all day.'

There was no contact with the Brigade HQ (have I got that term right? and where were they, at Nieuport Bains nearer the support battalions west of the Yser?) from battalions east of the Yser except by pigeon after 10.15 am. Three pigeon messages were received from Abadie: at 11.07 am, 5.15 pm and 7.10 pm when he 'reported that he had two companies with no officers; that Battalion HQ had been moved into tunnel in BEACH ALLEY; that he was endeavouring to reinforce, enemy planes were flying low.'

The Chronicle says that later 'Col Abadie was seen by an Australian standing at bay outside the eastern entrance [to the tunnel] firing his revolver, with which he killed five Germans before he himself fell. Here his dead body was afterwards identified by an NCO, who knew him intimately.' The report with the War Diary is much less explicit, saying 'Telephone message - Small party of 2nd KRRC putting up a fight close to Battalion Headquarters.' It doesn't say who from but the previous message at 7.55pm was from OC 1st Loyal Lancashire Regt (west of the Yser) saying a few of the KRRC had swum across the river and reported that they were 'absolutely overrun'.

So, though I still have ends to tie, it is now clear where the Charterhouse school record for Abadie got its information, and the help I've had has been wonderful - thanks, everyone. On Sat I shall be remembering that 10th July of 93 years ago.

Liz

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I suspect the "tall senior officer" was Colonel Tollemache of the Northamptons:

From Post #41:

But the odds were too heavy for the ultimate issue to be in doubt. On the left, the enemy had forced their way through the 60th, who still continued to fight on in a manner that was worthy of their regiment. Passing behind the Northamptonshires lines, the Germans attacked their battalion headquarters from the rear. Indeed, the first intimation the officers in the headquarters dug out had of the launching of the attack was the appearance of several enemy at the mouth of the ventilation shaft. Bombs were hurled down this shaft and down the main entrance, several of the headquarters signallers being severely wounded. Lieutenant Chisholm at once began to destroy the more important documents in his possession, while Lieutenant-Colonel Tollemache at first declined to surrender, and wished to fight it out to a finish. Fortunately he broke his revolver, and was consequently unable to carry out his intention, for the position was hopeless, and no other course than to surrender was open to the occupants of the dug-out. Describing this incident, an officer of the battalion writes: In several English newspapers graphic accounts had been given of the manner in which the headquarters officers were killed whilst standing back to back firing their revolvers at the enemy. It may be said at once that these tales were untrue. The officers in question and the battalion to which they belonged have alike made for themselves too good a reputation for there to be any attempt to bolster it up by fiction.

Steve.

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Steve - thanks very much. Of course, Tollemache, the other 'missing colonel' of the Times report - we mentioned this before as you say but I wasn't sure if this was the incident that fitted the German scenario.

It now seems (after a sort of Boy's Own wish for heroics I felt earlier on) a pity to me that Abadie wasn't obliged to do likewise.

Have the Australians also come up somewhere before? Are they in the Brigade report?

Liz

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Having got the Report in the 2nd Brigade diary finally transcribed, today is as good a day as any to post it!

First post is a letter from Captain Butler of the 2nd Kings Royal Rifle Corps to his father, apparently written very soon after the battle (possibly on the 11th July 1917), that gives an outline of the battle. A more detailed report was then sent to IV Army HQ.

ACTION OF NIEUPORT LES BAINS, 10th July 1917

Private Report of Captain Humphrey Butler, Adjutant, 2nd Bn. K. R. R. C. to his father Lt. Col. Lewis Butler)

From 8 a.m. to 8.15 a.m. the Germans started an intense bombardment of the Battalion sector. At 8.15 a.m. the firing ceased and did not begin again until 9.50 a.m. when an intense bombardment of the whole sector again began. The shelling went on without pause until 1 p.m. when there was a lull for ten minutes. At 1.10 p.m. the bombardment again started and went on without pause until 3 p.m. when there was a lull until 3.10 p.m.

It started again at 3.10 p.m. and at 6 p.m. there was a lull of fifteen minutes until 6.15 p.m. At 6.15 p.m. the shelling became more intense than ever, and at 7.15 p.m. the enemy attacked. They had sent a party around by the beach before they made the frontal attack, so the attack came from our front and rear simultaneously. By 8 p.m. the enemy captured the whole sector. As the Battalion had raided the enemy tranches the night before, we all thought when the bombardment started that, it was merely a heavy retaliation for the raid.

However, when the shelling continued for four hours without a lull, we suspected that it meant an attack. The first news that got down from the front lines was brought by 2nd. Lt. Taylor (B. Company, which was the right front Company) and he told us that B Company headquarters had been blown in and presumably, the Officer Commanding B Company, Lt. Munro, had been buried. 2nd, Lt. Heberden, the third officer with the Company, was killed in the front line earlier in the morning, and 2nd. Lt. Taylor himself was shot in the head. Previous to this Lt. Gott, the Battalion Intelligence Officer, had volunteered to try and reach the front lines of D. Company, (the centre Company.) Lt. Gott got back to Battalion Headquarters soon after 2nd. Lt. Taylor had arrived, and he told us that Capt. Clinton, (Officer Commanding D Company,) 2nd. Lt. Chevis, Lt. Pinnock, 2nd. Lts. Sheepshanks and Simpson were all right. This was about 12.30 p.m. Between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Lt. Gott again started out to try and reach B. Company on the right. The shelling was extremely heavy at this time, and he was hit in the left arm and leg and was brought back to the dressing station.

Between 2.30 and 3 p.m. a message was sent down from C Company (the left front Company) by Lt. Mills to say that up to that time C Companys officers were all alright and their dug-out was still standing. This was the last message received from C Company, and we know that shortly afterwards the Headquarters dug-out of C Company was blown in. All this time, i.e. from 9.50 a.m. onwards, our Fullerphone wires had been cut so that we had no direct communication either with the Companies or with the guns, and we never got any message from the rear all day. The only means of sending a message was by pigeon of which we had eight.

Lt. Col. Abadie thought of everything and sent out all necessary orders to Companies from time to time, and we all had the greatest confidence in him: he did everything in his power and was splendid the whole time.

At 3 p.m. we moved Battalion Headquarters from the proper Headquarters dug-out to a tunnel about 80 yards to the left, as we had had two direct hits on our own dug-out and it was improbable that it would standing much more knocking about. In this tunnel, which was about 100 yards long, were about forty men of an Australian Tunnelling Company. Most of these men had rifles, and during a lull between 6 p.m. and 6.15 p.m. we supplied them with 100-120 rounds per man. We also got in some rations. Colonel Abadie saw the Australian Sergeant in charge of the party and made him divide his men into four squads of ten; and put the whole lot under the command of 2nd Lt. Gracie (battalion signalling officer). The only other officers, in the tunnel were Col. Abadie, Capt. Smith, Capt. Butler, and the R. A. Liaison Officer, 2nd. Lt. Richards (?). The first news we had of the enemy attacking came to us when he was in our trench ad threw bombs down ail three entrances of the dug-out and put a kind of liquid fire down. The Colonel tried his hardest to get the Australians out of the dugout, but unfortunately as they were just getting to an entrance the Germans arrived and threw bombs down at them. This caused a slight confusion among them and they then turned and tried the other end of the tunnel. In the crush Captains Smith and Butler put separated from the Colonel, who managed, to get out of the dug-out he had a revolver in his hand and that was the last that was seen of him. As there were two Platoons of A Company in Support at the old Battalion Headquarters, we think he tried to get to them and organise a defence. There is no doubt that these two platoons put up a good fight as they were all seen later on dead and a number of dead Germans round them. By this time the entrance to the tunnel having been blown in the four officers left in it consulted on what course to take, and decided to wait for a counter attack and join in if it came, if they could clear away one of the entrances.

When the entrances were eventually clear, just before dark, the R. A. Officer scouted outside and reported that the enemy was on all sides of us and we were cut off. Captains Smith, Butler and an Australian Corporal then went and looked around outside and came to the conclusion that if they went in small parties there was a chance of getting to the river.

By this time (about 10 p.m.) there were about twenty Australians the rest had bean killed or captured at the beginning of the attack before the last entrance was blown in and fifteen riflemen left. At 11 p.m. we started to get away, taking only our revolvers and leaving our equipment behind, as we knew we should have to swim. We got through the Germans who were digging themselves in, and had to cross about 300 yards of open sand to get to the river. We got across this all right, swam the river and reached Battalion Headquarters of the Support Battalion.

At the time the Germans came over we cannot have had more than the equivalent of one Company to resist them; the reason being: that all our dug-outs were so weak that they were simply blown in and supports and reserves were all killed, wounded, or buried before the actual attack came.

The bombardment was intense for at least ten hours on the whole sector. It is reported that Captain Clinton put up a fight hard fight with what was left of D Company (centre) and the two Support Platoons one of A Company also.

Our Medical Officer, Captain Ward., R.A.M.C. did splendid work and was seen directing men which way to go, the Germans being then only a dozen yards away. There is good reason to think that he, the Intelligence Officer and 2nd Lt. Taylor were captured. They were all three wounded. Altogether the Battalion lost 17 officers out of 20, and about 481 other ranks out of about 520 other ranks.

I am going over with a patrol tonight to try and find the Colonel. Ill let you know if Im successful.

Steve.

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After the initial report sent to his father it seems that Captain Butler expanded on his report and this found it's way under the gaze of the G.O.C. of IV Army, Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Rawlinson, the italic annotations on the Report are by Rawlinson himself.

ACTION AT NIEUPORT BAINS - July 10th 1917

The Sector bordering on the sea was taken over by the British Army from the French in the month of June. On the 4th July the northern portion of that Sector, from Nieuport to the sea, was occupied by the 1st Division on a front of about 1400 yards. The 2nd Brigade being in advance, this space was divided in about equal proportions by the 2nd Battalion of The King's Royal Rifle Corps on the left, and the 1st Battalion the Northamptonshire Regiment on the right. These Battalions forming the first line were thrown out beyond the Yser and posted on a line of sandhills running north and south about 600 yards east of the river. The terrain consisted of sand dunes, in places soft underfoot, in others hard.

The two remaining Battalions of the 2nd Brigade, viz., the Loyal North Lancashire on the left, the Royal Sussex on the right, were posted in support about Nieuport Bains, west of the Yser. It so happened that Brigadier-General Hubback had been wounded a few days previously and his place had just been taken by Brigadier-General Kemp. In rear of the 2nd Brigade was the remainder of the 1st Division.

The line on the immediate right and south of the 1st Division was occupied by the 32nd about Lombardzyde; a tributary of the Yser, running from east to west, dividing the two Divisions which were connected only by a single bridge causeway.

At a distance of 600 yards behind the front line as occupied the river turns northward through a canalised channel to the sea. During this latter part of its coarse it was spanned by three floating bridges, all close to the mouth, and a fourth near the bend. The banks had stone revetments; the breadth of the river varied according to the tide from about 60 to 100 yards. (Handwritten note: 100 to 200 yards) The trenches taken over from the French were of a somewhat sketchy nature, and indeed in the absence of concrete it was difficult for them to be anything else. As a protection they were most imperfect.

It was obvious to the veriest tyro that the most unremitting vigilance, the support of the most powerful artillery fire, the closest co-operation between the naval and military forces were essential if the position were to be tenable even for only a few hours.

The orders, given to the Battalion Commanders were to hold on to the last; a strong support being thus virtually promised.

The French, and before them the Belgians, aware of the weakness of the post, had been most careful to do nothing that could attract attention or raise an alarm on the part of the enemy. Our Battalion Commanders were given to understand that for similar reasons and in view of impending operations they were to keep equally quiet. But in direct contradiction of these general instructions, they were ordered to make raids upon the enemy's entrenchments, and to these contradictory orders the subsequent tragedy may probably be traced.

Equally astonishing is the fact that no additional preparations were made for communication between the troops on either side of the river. It was obvious that the bridges would be broken down if the enemy made any determined bombardment. Yet no rafts nor boats, which might easily escape the enemy's shell fire, were moored under the banks*. (Handwritten note: I doubt whether these would have been much use.)

* Some think there was one raft under the west bank but are doubtful whether it was in effective condition. Anyhow, no attempt was made to use it.

The Divisional Artillery was in position west of the river and a large proportion at all events of the heavy artillery was also in position and ready for action.

The 2nd Battalion of The King's Royal Rifle Corps, commanded by Lieut.-Col. Richard Abadie, (hand written insertion: which had already been decimated four times since the beginning of the war) had taken up its position as follows:-

On the left of the line, overlooking the North Sea, "A" Company was posted, near a projection known as Pimple Point. This Company was commanded by Captain H. F. E. Smith, whose subalterns present were 2nd Lieut. E. W. Barnes, A.G. Boucher and N. F. E. Anson. “D” Company (Capt. W. L. Clinton, Lieut. H. A. Pinnock, 2nd Lieuts. H. Chevis, W. Sheepshanks and A. Simpson) took the centre, and "B" Company (Lieut. Munro, 2nd Lieuts. A.C. Heberden and D.K. Taylor) was on the right. “C" Company (Lieut. H. J. F. Mills, 2nd Lieuts. H. G. Lindsay and R. Madeley) was in support, its Headquarters being in a central position forming the apex of a triangle of which “D” and “B” Companies were the base.

Battalion H.Q. as well as the Dressing Station were established in a central position some 350-yds in rear of the front line, in the trench running north and south known as the Back Walk.

About 80-yds to the north was an underground tunnel, running east and west, something over 100-yards in length, but unfinished; and it was decided in case of need to transfer the Bn. H.Q. thither.

The assistance of enfilade fire upon the enemy's guns and entrenchments was hoped for from the gun boats and monitors off the coast.

(Handwritten noted relating to underlined section: This was not a feasible proposition and as orders had been issued UNREADABLE SECTION)

Hardly had the Riflemen taken up their position when the German artillery began to show considerable activity. The fire was distributed along our whole line up to the night of the 9th-10th. No less than 70 casualties were sustained, a fact which in itself should have warned the higher authorities in rear of the impending peril.*

* The Northampton Regiment was no doubt exposed to equal shell fire and probably suffered as many casualties.

Of these casualties 25 were inflicted upon "A" Company in one day, which was thereupon relieved by “C" Company and took the place of the latter. In support in accordance with the orders received a raid was made on the enemy's entrenchments during the night of the 9th-10th. The party employed consisted of an officer and 20 men, all Rhodesians, from "B" Company. The trenches raided seemed to have been constructed on a spur of the sandhill known a La Grande Dune. The operation in itself was successful; but while returning a shell burst in their midst and wounded nine men; and as the only prisoner captured died, the result cannot be considered satisfactory.

The two Battalions were to have been relieved after dark on the 10th; but at 6 a.m. the enemy's artillery became lively along the whole sector, and by 8.50 a.m. the fire had increased to an intense bombardment, which continued till 1 p.m. The metal employed by the enemy was very heavy, comprising 5.9, 8-in. and even a few 11-in. shells. It was not confined to our front line but searched out the supporting Battalions and the Brigade H.Q. beyond the canal.

The Headquarter dug-out contained the Colonel; the officer acting as 2nd in Command^; Capt. Humphrey Butler, the Adjutant; the Battalion Intelligence Officer, Lieut. W.H. Gott; the Signalling Officer, 2nd Lieut. A.L. Gracie; 2nd Lieut. Henry R.A., Liaison Officer; Capt. Ward, R.A.M.C., and the Battalion Signallers and Orderlies.

*It is said that the base of some 11-in. shells which exploded beyond the river were hurled back into the enemy's own lines, a distance of 800-yds.

^This was Capt. H. F .E. Smith, whose Company, as already stated, was in support close at hand. Capt. Clinton, his senior, having only recently joined the battalion, commanded a company by his own request.

Although it appeared certain death, Lieut. Gott volunteered about noon to visit "D” Company, and returned with a cheery message from Capt. Clinton, and a report that up to the present all the Officers were unhurt. Colonel Abadie considered Gott's act to be so gallant that he expressed his intention of recommending him for the V.C.*

Shortly afterwards, 2nd Lieut. Taylor reached Bn. H.Q. from "B" Company. He had been struck in the head by the splinter of a shell. The wound was pronounced "not dangerous"; but Taylor, naturally enough, was dazed, and only after an interval was able to mutter that his Company H.Q. had been blown in and that Lieut. Munro had, presumably, been buried. The 3rd Officer - 2nd Lieut. Heberden had been killed earlier in the day.

About 2 p.m. Lieut. Gott gallantly started out again to get further news of "B" Company; but, having been hit in the left arm and leg, was brought back to the Dressing Station, which had been established close to Bn. H.Q.

Between 2.30 and 3 p.m. a message was received from Lieut. Hills, in command of "C" Company, to the effect that the Officers were all right and their dug-out was still standing. This was the last message received from "C" Company, and it is known that its H.Q. dug-out was shortly afterwards blown in.

(* Handwritten: He also intended to recommend Lt. McDowell for the D.S.O. on account of repeated acts of gallantry performed on the night of the 9/10th.

Then an Orderly, who had been despatched to "D" Company, returned with the startling news that he had reached its H.Q. dugout and found all the Officers sitting therein, but dead. He knew Lieut. Chevis, at all events, by sight; and he also said that a Rifleman was standing outside the dug-out, dead. Although it is possible that the party had been gassed, full credit was not given to the story, for the Orderly was evidently suffering from shell-shock, and it was thought (handwritten insertion: - rightly as it turned out) possible that the Officers whom he believed to be dead were in reality merely overcome by the sleep of exhaustion.

From 9.50 a.m. the Battalion Fuller phone wires had been cut, with the consequence that no direct communication existed either with the Companies in the front line or with the guns beyond the Yser. A buried telephone wire from the Corps Commander extended, at all events, to the west bank of the Yser. Of this no (handwritten: practical) use was made nor did any message come from the rear during the whole day. All attempts by our Signallers to call up the Officer at the near end of it, proved futile. Colonel Abadie's sole means of sending one was by pigeons, of which there were eight. All (handwritten: seem to have) reached their destination.

The ground was torn by the enemy's shells: the sand rose in clouds and not only prevented all view around, but rendered our rifles and machine guns useless. In rear our Divisional Artillery was hard at work, but it was evident that the heavy guns were making mo effort to keep down the German fire.

(Handwritten note: * The officer at the Yser end of the wire is said to have sent messages to the rear: but he did not succeed in the more important duty of getting in touch with the Battalion Signallers.)

During this time the German aeroplanes were swarming over our lines and from an altitude sometimes of only 60-ft. were pouring machine gun fire upon our trenches. The Colonel encouraged all about him by repeatedly saying that our own aeroplanes could not fail to appear within half-an-hour at the latest, bit not a single one did so all day.

Nothing escaped Abadie's attention. Orders were sent from time to time to the Companies and he inspired all with the greatest confidence. "He did everything in his power", writes the Adjutant, "and was splendid the whole time". All felt sure that assistance must be close at hand. But hour after hour passed. No aid; no word even of encouragement arrived from the Division or Army Corps. Yet no suspicion arose that the two battalions had been abandoned to their fate. Such action would have seemed incredible.

At 3 p.m. it was found necessary to abandon the dug-out used as Battalion H.Q. Two direct hits had been made thereon and it was not likely to stand much more. With the Colonel and Adjutant went Capt. H.F.E. Smith, acting as 2nd in Command, 2nd Lieut. Gracie, and 2nd Lieut. Henry, R.A., accompanied by the battalion Signallers and Orderlies. It was unfortunately impossible to carry away the two wounded Officers, Gott and Taylor, who were perforce left in the Dressing Station under charge of Capt. H.K. Ward, R.A.M.C. (Handwritten: who had received a slight wound)

The H.Q. party betook itself to the underground tunnel, already mentioned. The tunnel was about 6-ft. high, but only 3-ft. wide. In length it was something over 100-yds. sinuous in form and running, generally, from west to east. It was found to be occupied by about 40 men of an Australian Tunnelling Company, others of whom were engaged in making rapid mining galleries in front, with the object of burrowing under the enemy's lines. At intervals of about 30-yds. air holes had been let in to the roof (which was covered with tin foil), affording a modicum of light and air at these spots; but otherwise the tunnel was quite dark.

The Australians had no Officer, and apparently not more than two N.C.O's. Colonel Abadie therefore divided them into four squads, each of ten men, and placed the whole under command of 2nd Lieut. Gracie. The Australians were for the most part armed with rifles, but had not more than 20 or 30 rounds of ammunition per man.

At 6 p.m. came another lull in the bombardment, and advantage was taken of it to bring up ammunition and rations from the old H.Q. dug-out, the entrenchments adjoining which had, in the meanwhile, been battered almost out of recognition. The Dressing Station was still standing, but Capt. Ward had been wounded. The H.Q. party returned to the tunnel, and ammunition and rations were distributed among the Australians.

The lull was of short duration. At 6.15 p.m. the bombardment became more intense than ever. At 7.15 the German Infantry - a (handwritten insertion: “picked”) Division of Marines - attacked. Under cover of his guns the enemy pushed forward a force along the seashore, the tide being exceptionally low. His curtain fire had made it impossible to guard the shore, and the attack was made simultaneously on our front and rear. Indeed, the first news of it was brought by the appearance of the enemy in our communication trench running parallel to the tunnel, whence he threw bombs down the air-shafts and also appeared at the western entrance just at the moment when the Colonel was doing his utmost to get the Australians out of it. They were met by the Germans with bombs. Some panic ensued and about half the Australians surrendered. When the surrenders ceased the Germans threw in a species of liquid fire. The Colonel called to the Riflemen to sit down and they did so with perfect discipline. The heat was intense, but the liquid fire did no positive harm. The Colonel then made for the eastern entrance and went out into the open air, calling upon the party to follow him, apparently with the intention of making a last charge. But within the narrow space of the tunnel, crowded with men and ammunition boxes, rapid movement was impossible; and even as it was, acute danger existed of men on the ground being trampled underfoot by the others. Before the Officers could join their C.0. - indeed, within a few seconds of his quitting the tunnel – the entrances were blown in and the last that was seen of Colonel Abadie was outside the eastern entrance, revolver in hand.

What happened subsequently to the Colonel is matter for conjecture. He may have run into the midst of the Germans. On the other haul, there is some idea that he climbed on to the roof of the tunnel and either attempted, or actually reached, two Platoons of "A" Company, which were in support near the dug-out which had been the original Bn. H.Q. These two Platoons unquestionably made a gallant resistance, as later on they were found lying dead, with a number of dead Germans around them. It is said however by an Artillery Officer on the further side of the canal that through his telescope he distinguished Abadie standing alone upon a sandhill. Then a shell burst close at hand and the Colonel was seen no more.

(Handwritten note: In a letter to his father from Karlsruhle, Captain Clinton mentions hearing “unreliable” reports by UNREADABLE SECTION Riflemen that one said that he saw the Colonel “lying dead by the river”. This seems unlikely.)

The four Officers remaining in the tunnel, viz., Smith, Butler, Gracie and Henry, set to work to clear the entrances, and decided to join the counter-attack which they still expected would shortly be made by the Battalions in support. But by the time that the entrances had been cleared it was nearly dark. Lieut. Henry, R.A., with great gallantry, went outside to reconnoitre, and reported on his return that the party in the tunnel was surrounded by the enemy. Capt. Butler's servant - who afterwards received the Military Medal for his conduct - went as far as the old H.Q. dug-out, and reported that no wounded men, either of our own or of the Germans, were to be seen. Capt. Smith and Butler, with an Australian Corporal, also went outside, and under cover of a shell hole within 10-yds of the German sentries, discussed the situation. They came to the conclusion that there was a chance of breaking through the Germans, who were for the most part busily engaged in digging themselves in, and of getting back to the Yser; and that their best chance (handwritten: “chance” replaced by “means”) of doing so was to go in parties of about four at intervals of perhaps a minute.

It was now about 10 p.m. The survivors in the tunnel consisted of the four Officers, fifteen Riflemen and about twenty Australians. The conduct of one of the last, named Mcready, is spoken of in the highest admiration; but he was, alas, killed during the course of the night. The necessary instructions were given to the men in whispers and preparations were made for the start. The code and secret documents in the Battalion despatch Case were destroyed by Capt. Smith and the Adjutant. At length everything was ready; but at the moment that the leading party - consisting of the four Officers, revolver in hand - were about to quit the western entrance, word was passed down from the other end that an Officer was required at once; and Capt. Smith, answering the call, was told that the Germans were close at hand and about to enter from that side. Smart, the Adjutant's Orderly, and another Rifleman were consequently detailed to act as rear guard, with orders to delay the enemy and gain time for the retirement of the remainder of our party.

This they effected with great skill and coolness, placing ammunition and biscuit boxes on the ground at intervals of a few yards. The Germans, entering the tunnel, tripped up over the boxes and halted to strike a light. A minute was thus gained, and the procedure was repeated until the whole of our party had evacuated the tunnel.

German sentries had been posted within a few yards of the western entrance, and the men had been warned to come out as quietly as possible. Nevertheless, partly on account of their steel hats, their rifles and the intense relief (handwritten: “joy” replaced by “relief”) at the prospect of quitting the death-trap, a certain amount of clatter was made, in spite of which, the German sentries were eluded; and the party, marching at the arranged (handwritten: “prescribed” replaced by “arranged”) intervals, was successfully launched on the hazardous attempt.

The enemy, only 20-yds away, was observed to be digging himself in, but was safely passed; and despite continuous shell fire, the Officers had nearly reached the bank of the river when a new difficulty presented itself. A wooden barricade, some 12 or 14-ft. high, forming a camouflage or screen, had been set on fire by the shells, and barred the way to the bank of the Yser, parallel to which it ran for a considerable distance. The Officers halted. The moment was critical, for by means of Very lights the enemy was searching the entire ground. Smith and his companions lay down flat and, though one such light dropped close by them, escaped notice.

The question was not only how to climb the camouflage, but to choose the least unfavourable spot for approaching and crossing the canalised river. To the south the shells of our own Divisional Artillery were raking the ground. A communication trench to the northward leading to one of the broken bridges was tempting but its occupation by the Germans seemed a certainty. The best course, on the whole, seemed to be to move straight ahead; the rather that the camouflage was lower at this particular point, affording something of a gap. The moon now began to rise behind them.

The camouflage was safely crossed and the nearest section of their party in rear was seen following in extended order. Then the revetting wall of the river was reached. Smith and Henry were expert swimmers; the other two were less good. Gracie took off his boots and puttees and consequently cut his feet against the mussel shells embodied in the wall. Butler retained his boots, revolver and 50 rounds of ammunition. All kept on their steel hats.

Dropping into the water with as little noise as possible, the four struck out and safely reached a small remaining portion of the floating bridge in mid stream. Here they stayed for a few minutes, for none of their men seemed to be following them, and a party was observed to the northward crossing a bridge which appeared to be intact. Whether the party was German or British was for the moment uncertain;, but Butler, observing that all were going westward and none returning, decided that they must be our own men; and this indeed proved to be the case. The men had lost sight of their Officers and diverged to the right into the communication trench mentioned above, which, after all, was unoccupied by the enemy. The bridge on which they were crossing in reality extended over only about two-thirds of the river. They swam the remaining part and although some were shot or drowned, the greater number reached the further shore of the river in safety.

The Officers reached the further shore without hurt, but their difficulties were even now not quite at an end. They found themselves without gas helmets under the fire of gas shells; but the pressure was happily not very great, and in due course they entered a communication trench which brought them to the Head-quarters of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, in support.

Previous to leaving the tunnel, the Adjutant, as mentioned above, had destroyed the confidential documents belonging to the Battalion. The Despatch Case containing them was judged to be too great an encumbrance and was left behind. But the Adjutant's Orderly, unaware of the decision and seeing the Despatch Box on the ground, carried it with him. When the end of the broken bridge over the Yser was reached he attempted to throw the case to the western bank. It fell into the river; but the tide washed it up, and the case was consequently recovered, still containing a copy, beautifully clear, beautifully written, of the last order given by Colonel Abadie to the Companies of the front line.

On the following day at 6 p.m. a Sergeant and fourteen Riflemen of "B" Company, having got clear of the dug-out in which they had been buried, walked back in broad daylight and safely crossed the Yser without seeing a German!

A few men, wounded early on the 10th but able to walk, had been ordered to return to their lines, and in all, three Officers and about fifty-two N.C.O's and Riflemen got back over the river.

So ends the story of Nieuport Bains, so far as is at present known. Out of 20 officers either belonging to or attached to the battalion, two were killed and fifteen missing*. Of the latter, news - at the date of writing, Sept. 10th 1917 - has been received from the following:-

Captains Clinton and Ward; Lieutenants Pinnock and Mills; 2nd Lieutenants Lindsay, Madeley, Taylor, Simpson, Gott and Chevis.

(Handwritten note: *Later information makes the number 7 killed, 10 prisoners of whom 5 were wounded)

Much remains to be explained. The following notes may be made:-

(Handwritten note: The position was taken up at a time when the Corps Artillery, ??????, could not be used in support.

1. The orders given by the higher Command were contradictory. Commanding Officers were ordered to remain quiet in their trenches and to attract no attention, as had been done successfully by the Belgians and the French. Notwithstanding this, orders were given for raids, which of course stirred up the hornets’ nest.

2. A buried telephone wire from the Corps Commander extended, at all events, down to the west bank of the Yser. Of this no use was made during the whole day.

(Handwritten note: It was constantly used as far as the left bank)

3. Blank paragraph

(Handwritten note: Better not refer to the Australian Tunnellers)

4. There was no serious attempt made by our heavy guns to keep down the enemy's bombardment? Even allowing that all were not as yet in position and that observations were not complete, was it impossible for them to fire from the spot where they were temporarily parked; and did the lack of precise observation prevent them firing on any portion of No Man's Land or the enemy's trenches?

(Handwritten note: The hostile guns were too numerous and too well protected by concrete for the heavies to do much.)

5. The serious nature of the situation does not appear to have been appreciated by the Corps Staff. The Commander himself may have been absent on duty; but anyhow the paramount importance of support and communication* were ignored.

(Handwritten note: *Both were improbable since the bridges were gone)

6. Why did the Naval Squadron off the coast not co-operate?

It is too early at the present time to attempt to attribute blame to any individuals. After the action the Divisional Commander addressed the remnant of the two Battalions in terms of the highest praise. The Corps Commander, on the other hand, had no word of recognition for the magnificent gallantry of the two battalions, but was good enough to inform the Rifle Officers that he attributed no blame to them on account of the ground lost! This ungracious, and indeed insulting, speech, addressed to Officers whose nerves were still overwrought by what they had gone through, and smarting at the idea of the loss of their comrades who had been abandoned to their fate, as would seem by the culpable neglect of the speaker, stung them as if it had been the lash of a whip. It needed all their sense of discipline and self restraint to prevent giving burning expression to their feelings. The men of Northampton and the Riflemen had died where they had been posted, like the Spartans at Thermopylae. Heroism could do no more. And their reward was an insult?

(Handwritten note: Is this quite correct?)

In giving vent to the tone of the Corps Commander, we venture to speak not only on behalf of our own Battalion, but also for the Northamptonshire Regiment, which had sacrificed itself with equal gallantry and which has no Officer left to take its part; for one Sergeant and eight men only returned from the action.

As to the failure of the Naval Squadron to co-operate, we cannot at present speak with certainty, but it is rumoured that the Admiral responsible was “surprised at not getting a request for assistance"! It may be wondered whether the naval heroes of a century ago would have been so subservient to etiquette as to wait to be asked before taking part in so desperate a fight, when a gallant body of men was upholding the honour of its country against overwhelming odds. Such insistence on the formalities of etiquette would seem more appropriate to a dancing master than to a Naval Officer. The weather was no bar to interference. An eye-witness states that there was a slight breeze off the shore and that the sea was calm enough to sail a fourteen foot boat.

The whole episode demands a most searching enquiry. It is difficult to avoid the inference that the Corps Commander, failing to appreciate the importance of the position and its imminent peril, neglected the measures essential for cooperation and support.

(Handwritten note: I think the tone of these latter paragraphs is unreasonably venomous.

The Naval Squadron, which I have carefully examined from all points of view was not a feasible proposition – had the ships intervened we would have lost several ships and done no good as the wind was off the shore and no UNREADABLE SECTION forcible in consequence – guns UNREADABLE SECTION that UNREADABLE SECTION are between 20 to 30 UNREADABLE SECTION coastal defence guns that command any position from which the ships could fire.

The report is probably the most detailed I have seen, and the officers and men of the two battalions involved obviously felt that they "had been hung out to dry" and that perhaps strategic concerns of warning the Germans of the concentration of British Divisions and artillery preceding the forthcoming (but eventually cancelled) coastal operations were of a greater concern to the higher command than the fate of the men in the dunes. Who knows what the truth may have been?

Steve.

EDIT: Incidentally, Captain Butler's orderly was R/27618 Pte. Herbert F. Smart (of Paddington), awarded the M.M. in the London Gazette of 17-9-1917.

Edited by Stebie9173
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After the initial report sent to his father it seems that Captain Butler expanded on his report and this found it's way under the gaze of the G.O.C. of IV Army, Rawlinson himself, the italic annotations on the Report are by Rawlinson himself.

The report is probably the most detailed I have seen, and the officers and men of the two battalions involved obviously felt that they "had been hung out to dry" and that perhaps strategic concerns of warning the Germans of the concentration of British Divisions and artillery preceding the forthcoming (but eventually cancelled) coastal operations were of a greater concern to the higher command than the fate of the men in the dunes. Who knows what the truth may have been?

Steve.

Thank you very much indeed for taking the trouble to post this extraordinarily interesting letter and report, Steve. The report was clearly the basis for his father's account in the KRRC Chronicle, which Mark sent me - 'by Lieut.-Colonel Lewis Butler, late the KRRC'- but at first glance through, the most explicit allegations of being hung out to dry have been removed from the later version, after those handwritten comments by Rawlinson and no doubt discussions. The meaning is there all right, though. It will be interesting to compare it in detail to see exactly what's different which I can't do this weekend but will, shortly, if no one else gets there first. This is much, much more than I ever thought I'd know about this event when I started researching the Abadie family, even though the whole truth is impossible to get at.

Many thanks again,

Liz

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  • 2 weeks later...

Great work the most information I have ever found on this battle. Bill

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  • 1 month later...

Hi,

From rgeimental history 'Das Marine-Infanterie-Regiment 1, 1914-1918'

Free translation

Hauptmann Engholm 10th Company ;

''We needed to take more care when clearing a dugout that had several exits.

As we shouted nobody came out, so we threw 2 handgrenades in the entrances.

Then a higher rank older officer showed up, he was wounded at the hand and considered himself as a pow, and wanted to march to the rear.

As we supposed there were more British in the dug-out we ordered him to go back in the dugout and ask the others to surrender.

He came back with 4 other officers, it was the regimental commander and his staff

In the dugout we found valuable documents, pigeons, aireal fotos, telephone and morse apparatus.

In another dugout we found the officers mess''

Was this Lt. Col. Tollemache and his staff?

Regrads,

Cnock

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From the description it certainly sounds like it is Lt.Col. Tollemache's capture.

Steve.

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Maybe Egbert could tell us whether there were Germans chained to their machine guns there. Everyone knows Germans do strange things.

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From rgeimental history 'Das Marine-Infanterie-Regiment 1, 1914-1918'

Free translation

Hauptmann Engholm 10th Company ;

<snip>

Was this Lt. Col. Tollemache and his staff?

Hello Cnock

I mentioned in July on this thread Jack Sheldon's book The German Army at Passchendaele, which quotes Hauptmann Engholm at slightly greater length - in case anybody else without access to the regimental history is interested. His book also mentions the huge number of prisoners taken, including a comment by Leutnant F of Marine infantry Reg 3 that they included 'some individuals, who had only left Dunkirk at 6.00am that day by truck and had been rushed forward as reinforcements'.

There has been a discussion on what happened to prisoners from this battle on another thread Limburg POW camp? including the material Steve posted earlier here. If you happen to come across any references in other German sources to Nieuport prisoners, especially what happened to them in the ensuing days, that would be very interesting.

Best wishes

Liz

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Hi

Also mentionned

the shooting of a German officer by a British officer with his revolver, but no further details

and 2 British officers and 60 men extracted from a tunnel

Cnock

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