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Guest Chris Witcomb

Maltz Horn Farm, Trones Wood - August 1916

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Guest Chris Witcomb

Hi

I'm researching my great grandfather who was listed as missing in action 19th August 1916.

Ho was in 2nd Battn Suffolks who I believe we in action near Maltz Horn Farm, Trones Wood a few days before.

I'd love to find a map of that area for August 1916

Chris

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Paul Johnson

Chris,

Try the National Archives or the Imperail War Museum Trench Map Archive on CD available from Naval & Military Press.

It would make a nice Xmas present.

Regards

PAUL JOHNSON

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gericht 1914
Chris,

Try the National Archives or the Imperail War Museum Trench Map Archive on CD available from Naval & Military Press.

It would make a nice Xmas present.

Regards

PAUL JOHNSON

Chris.

Unfortunately, you won't find a correct trenchmap for the date you require for your particular interest on the IWM Trenchmap CD.

D.

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John_Hartley

Chris

The "Guillemont" book in the Battleground Europe series covers that area, including some maps.

John

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Andrew Hesketh

I've got a couple of nice photos of the site as it is today if you'd like them.

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Guest Chris Witcomb

Andrew

That would be great ! Thanks you. Not sure how you get them to me ?

Regards

Chris

Thanks also to John, gericht and Paul for reponding.

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Andrew Hesketh

They can't be attached to an e-mail via the forum, so if you send me your e-mail address by Personal Message (don't post it online) I'll send 'em to you. I think I've got about 3 or 4 that I took this summer with a digital camera, but they're a bit big so let me know if there any problems with the size of attachments your e-mail account will cope with.

I should add that there are no remains whatsoever of the farm, but there is a crucifix and plaque on the site which I photographed and a very atmospheric one looking towards the farm from the southern tip of Trones Wood. I'll try to paste some below but contact me if you want jpegs.

post-150-1134679139.jpg

post-150-1134679155.jpg

post-150-1134679172.jpg

post-150-1134679444.jpg

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Andrew Hesketh

Ah - it worked!

1st - The crucifix on the site, looking towards Guillemont

2nd - The plaque close up

3rd - Looking from the farm with Trones Wood on the left and Guillemont on the right

4th - looking from Trones Wood. You might just be able to make out the white crucifix towards the far right hand side on the horizon. I was really pleased with this photo. There'd just be a torrential downpour and on the way back from Guillemont I stopped to grab this snap. Leaden sky, rainbow.....

Edited by Andrew Hesketh

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Guest Chris Witcomb

Andrew

It did work ! I've sucessfully copied them onto PC...and they look OK.

Many thanks.

Chris

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Andrew Hesketh

Chris - quick correction. The 3rd picture is looking towards Trones Wood - forget the Guillmont bit, that's off picture to the right.

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andigger

You should also have a look at www.pathsofglory.co.uk

Forum Pal Dave 'Croooneart' has developed a great site for trench maps through out the war.

Andy

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Guest Chris Witcomb

Andrew

Understood and thanks. I guess from the notes at the bottom that you're interested in / connected with the Sherwood Foresters ?

My other great grandfather was in the 95th Foot, later Sherwood Foresters Derbyshire Regiment - 1881 to 1890 - Egyptian Medal and Khedive Star. His tunic and medals in Derby Museum.....and sadly we don't have a photo of him !!!......but that's a different story

Thanks again

Chris

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David_Blanchard

Below is an article I wrote for the now defunct 'Battlefields Review' a few years back about Frederic Manning, the author of 'Her Privates We' which includes a discussion of the attack of the 7th Shropshires near Maltz Horn Farm on 19th August 1916, this may be of some interest:

Introduction

The article "Three Soldier Poets of the Great War" in the 3rd issue of 'Battlefields Review' examined three poets whose work has been overshadowed by Brooke and Owen. Similarly, consideration of the prose of the Great War often dwells on Grave's Goodbye to All That', and Sheriff's 'Journey's End', ignoring other fine novels. However, within the last month (October), a forgotten classic of the First World War, 'Her Privates We' by Frederic Manning has been reissued. This new edition, published by Serpent's Tail Press, features an introduction by William Boyd, (himself the author of a novel set in the Great War and the director of a new film, 'The Trench', based on the first day of the Somme offensive). The first edition of Manning's novel appeared under the title 'Middle Parts of Fortune', credited to 'Private 19022', and achieved notoriety for its frank and open recording of the speech of the 'Tommy'. Boyd's introduction captures the essence of Manning's 'realism':

'It is remarkable the change wrought by the good old Anglo-Saxon demotic of '******', '****' and 'fuckin' . What was familiar, stereotypical, almost parodic, becomes suddenly real- the whole situation charged and violent. And in its wider context- the First World War- a whole new resonance emerges. Those monochrome images we know so well - tommies puffing on their fags, troops marching through French villages, the lunar landscape of no man's land- suddenly have a different import. Suddenly a veil is stripped away . These are real men, real soldiers- and all soldiers swear, vilely, constantly. this is a world where corporals call their men '*****'.'

When I read "The Middle Parts of Fortune" recently I was struck straight away by the reviews published on the covers:

"No praise could be too sheer for this book...It justifies every heat of praise. Its virtues will be recognised more and more as time goes on." T E Lawrence

"It is the finest and noblest book of men in war that I have ever yet read. I read it over once a year to remember how things really were." Ernest Hemingway

Endorsements not to be sniffed at! Certainly the book has been a "Penguin Twentieth Century Classic" with an introduction by Paul Fussell. But Frederick Manning remains more elusive. My enquiries, though tentative, and certainly not scholarly, failed to turn up much about the author. Perhaps, like many interested in researching the Great War, we may want to find out more about the experience of the men who fought in the conflict, and to have the facts served up to us with a high degree of authenticity. "The Middle Parts of Fortune" certainly resonates with realism; yet in the context of the late 1920s, when it was first published, it seems from today's perspective (compare the popularity of the "Regeneration Trilogy " and "Birdsong", which pull no punches with regard to the explicit depiction of war) to be almost anachronistic. Therefore, I wanted to find out as much as I could about Frederic Manning, the soldier. Did his own personal experiences of fighting follow closely that of the main protagonist of the novel, Bourne ?

I decided to post a message in the Western Front Association's discussion forum on the World Wide Web, to see if any biographical material had been published. Almost immediately I was informed that a biography of Manning existed which had been published in Australia by Jonathan Marwil, a native of Michigan, USA. I wasn't surprised by the Australian connection- Manning was born there in 1882- but I was intrigued that the author was American. Again, the internet helped me by entering the name of the author and the title of the book, "Frederic Manning, An Unfinished Life", in a search engine, I was able to track down a second- hand copy of the book in an online bookstore in Sydney. The book was duly dispatched, and within 3 days I had a copy, which appeared as though it had been remaindered. I soon discovered that Marwil was also concerned with unravelling the enigma of Manning, albeit from a more literary standpoint. This was an exercise in detective work, which had Marwil embarking on a journey to two continents looking for clues to the life of Frederic Manning. However, Marwil's investigation was primarily concerned with Manning the writer, and undoubtedly he succeeds with this brief, but this was not really my concern. I turned hastily to chapter five, "War".

Manning's Somme

The following account of Manning's service career owes much to Marwil, but I have also used a number of other standard military histories related to the battle of the Somme, and, of course, "The Middle Parts of Fortune".

Manning was an intellectual. He formed friendships with the likes of Ezra Pound and one source of correspondence from 1916, perhaps the only source still extant, was with a painter Will Rothenstein. Manning came from a well to do Australian family; his father was at one time mayor of Sydney. He joined the King's Shropshire Light Infantry, (the 'Westshires' of the novel) in October 1914, as a private ( No. 19022 ), . He was an outsider twice over; a colonial serving in an English County regiment, and firmly removed from his class in the ranks.

'The Middle Parts of Fortune', begins with the events of an attack on the Somme in 1916. In the introduction to the novel, Paul Fussell assumes this attack to have been part of the 'Big Push' of the 1st of July. This is misinformed. Using information from Marwil's biography and Manning's service record from the PRO, Manning left England for the Somme on the 11th August 1916. He missed the beginning of the 'Big Push'. It is here that I must outline the basic thrust of my argument. Manning's Novel is strictly autobiographical. This will become very apparent as my account progresses. He wrote of war not in a strictly 'fictional' sense; his novel is about the very texture of the Somme; it concerns the progress of one service battalion from August 1916 to the end of November. Indeed, he stated in his 'Prefatory Note' to the novel:

" While the following pages are a record of experience on the Somme and Ancre fronts, with an interval behind the lines, during the latter half of the year 1916; and the events described in it actually happened; the characters are fictitious."

It is about the whole experience of serving on the Western Front during this period of the war, indeed the vast majority of the book is devoted to the battalion 'at rest' or in training away from the front line; off stage. The novel's account of the movements of the Shropshire's was in essence, representative of the Somme for all the battalions that fought in this area, from June 1916 to the end of the year. It is the history of one unit's experiences. And as such the movements of the 7th Battalion King's Shropshire Light Infantry given in the battalion War Diary, strictly correlate with the narrative structure of the novel. Dates are not given but the names and descriptions of places on the Somme are all true; as are the timings of the movements of the battalion from village to camp to small town, and so on. This topographical accuracy can best be explained, as Marwil suggests in his biography, by the fact that Manning probably checked the details of the movements of the battalion by consulting, "The History of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry in the Great War" (1925), by Major W. B. Wood. Except I think Manning's memory is better, having looked at both the Battalion War Diary and the Regimental History, there are a number of discrepancies and Manning's "journey" closely relates to the War Diary; a source it is very unlikely he would have seen.

Manning came to the front as part of a draft of men sent out to reinforce the 1st Battalion of the Shropshire's. It is not clear why he came to serve with the 7th battalion, but by the 16th August, less than a week in France, he was serving with this latter unit. The reasons I suspect were that the 1st battalion, which hadn't seen any action on the Somme, were in training for their first assault, which was to take place in September. New recruits may not have fitted in with these preparations that were underway, and the 7th battalion badly needed reinforcing; it had seen two major actions in the previous month; having taken part in the Battle of Bazentin Ridge on the 14th July, where some 400 casualties were sustained, and in action again at Delville Wood on 23rd July. In these circumstances new recruits were urgently required to bring the battalion up to fighting strength.

It was not long before he saw active service, the battalion while at Talus Bois (between Carnoy and Maricourt) on the 17th August, were given orders to be prepared to move in 20 minutes, to take part in the general attack of the Fourth Army and the French, in an effort to capture the German fortified village of Guillemont, and associated German trenches to the south. The 7th Battalion of the Shropshire's was a service battalion, although part of the 3rd Division, it served as part of the 8th brigade. The 7th Shropshire's role on 18th August was in support of the 1st Gordon Highlanders and the 10th Royal Welch Fusiliers who were to make the initial assault at Zero hour, 2.45 p m following a 36 hour bombardment. The objective of these two leading battalions of the 76th brigade was to be the road that ran from Angle Wood to Guillemont.

Manning, on arrival in the 7th Shropshire's, had been placed in 'A' company and it was 'A' company along with 'B', that was sent at 2.50 pm to reinforce the attack of the 10th Royal Welch Fusiliers. The 76th brigade HQ was in the vicinity of Maltz Horn farm, this marked the point were the British and French forces flanked each other, and as a result the German forces opposite the corresponding valley (Maltz Horn Valley or the Valley of Death) made sure that there was a continuous bombardment in this region. This proved to be the case on 18th August; a German frontline trench stood out in this area, hugging the contours of land which dropped down the Maltz Horn Valley, this was Lonely Trench. The southern part of Lonely Trench was taken by the 10th Welch and the 1st Gordons' in the afternoon of the 18th August, but the northern section of the trench held out despite a number of attempts by the 1st Northumberland's to bomb down the trench and meet up with troops of the 76th brigade.

The two companies of the 7th Shropshire's following in the wake of the Gordons and the 10th Welch, managed to help stabilise the front in this area, by connecting shellholes together and in the words of the war diary, " making a good firm trench." During the early evening the 7th Shropshire's sent out a reconnoitring party to Lonely Trench and found that a large part was now unoccupied. The Germans were in the process of withdrawing from this area, a feat they managed to accomplish under the cover of darkness. Nevertheless, the British were very cautious and it was only by the late evening of 19th August that Lonely Trench was occupied by the 7th Shropshire's. Subsequently Lonely Trench was to be named Shropshire Trench.

This action fought by the 7th Shropshire's on the 18th-19th August is the same action that is described in the opening chapter of the novel. Bourne, the character who closely resembles Manning, is to be found wandering back to the relative safety of the British lines.The Scottish soldiers he encounters in a dug-out are most likely to be members of the 1st Gordons', by this stage in the battle mixed up with other units of the Brigade. After he has found the remnants of his company, the men are ushered off in fours away from the crest of the ridge towards "Happy Valley". This valley is north-west of Bray towards Meaulte, which was a reserve area along with Sandpit camp and Bois des Tailles.

During the first night after the attack, Bourne, though exhausted, resists sleep as seeming too like death and recalls, in one of the most poignant passages of the novel, the dead of the battle;

"Suddenly he remembered the dead in Trones Wood, the unburied dead with whom one lived, he might say cheek by jowl, Briton and Hun impartially confounded, festering, fly-blown corruption, the pasture of rats, blackening in the heat, swollen with distended bellies, or shrivelling away within their mouldering rags; and even when night covered them, one vented in the wind the stench of death."

Trones Wood, north west of Maltz Horn Farm, had been bitterly fought over in the weeks prior to the Shropshire's action at Lonely trench, and Manning would have made his way up to the frontline via this 'woodland'.

In fact after the battalion had spent the night at Happy Valley camp, the next day they moved to the Sandpit, where a battalion roll call was taken. The attack by the Fourth Army on the 18th August was not a disaster by the standards of the Somme offensive, ground had been taken both in the north and south of the sector under assault, but the village of Guillemont was still in enemy hands; and was to remain so until mid-September. The Shropshire's lost 170 men in the attack some 42 killed in action; in the British army as a whole, some 1650 were lost.

" After roll-call a change had worked in them, the parade had brought them together again; and, somehow, in talking of their common experience they had mastered it; it ceased to be an obsession, it was something they realised as past and irrevocable; and the move to Sandpits marked a new beginning."

I was surprised all that got passed the censor'

Regards

David

Edited by David_Blanchard

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David_Blanchard

just for the e mail reply

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Neil Mackenzie

Chris.

See if you can get hold of a copy of the Chris McCarthy's 'The Somme - the day by day account'. On page 69, there is a map for the attack on Guillemont on 8 August showing both the wood and Maltz Horn Farm.

The Farm was right on the border where the British and French armies met.

Folks - in case Chris cannot get this book, do copyright laws allow me to scan a copy of the map for Chris and post it on the forum or is it better just to send it to him by email?

Ta.

Neil

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Neil Mackenzie

Chris.

Further to my reply above. The same book refers to the 2nd Suffolks on the morning of 16 August clearing Cochrane Alley (immediately to the east of the farm) up to the Hardecourt-Guillemont road.

Then on the 17 August at least one company of the battalion was involved in an unsucessful attempt to take Lonely Trench.

3rd Division was finally relieved by 35th Division on 21 August.

Neil

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egbert

Chris , i guess this is what you want to see as of 8.8.1916:

post-80-1136419125.jpg

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Orvejam

I read with great interest all of the above. My great uncle James William Reeves Private 22477 was KIA on 18/08/1916 taking Lonely Trench with the KSLI. In particular the comments from David Blanchrd concerning Frederic Manning and his book 'Her Privates We'. I was given this book for Fathers Day given the KSLI link. I did not realise the opening chapter referred to the action my uncle died in. James joined up in 1914 and served through until his death, unfortunately there is no known grave. I was fortunate enough to get to visit the site of the action and Thiepval.

Does anybody have any oldphotographs / images of the 7th KSLI that might contain him?

Jim Orves

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bantamforgot

Egbert, Nice map of the 8th. August, rather a black day for the King's. However the map for 18th. August relates more to the 3rd. Div . & cochrane alley re. the attack including the 2nd. Suffolks on the 16th.,most likely the cause of the MIA, as the 3rd Div. only took over the area on the 15th..

Colin.

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Guest PeterJK49

Hi folks My great uncle (Sergeant John McKenna) served with the 1st Battalion, the Gordon Highlanders and was killed in the attack on Lonely Trench on 18 August 1916. Could anyone point me to a map showing the site of Lonely Trench - later renamed Shropshire Trench please ?

Many thanks

Peter Kelly

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Tom Lang

Hello Peter and Welcome to the Forum.

The National Library of Scotland have made the WW1 Trench Maps available on-line. They are searchable, and with/without a Google modern map overlay.

http://maps.nls.uk/ww1/trenches/

Tom.

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Robin V

I've followed the forum for a while, and now I've managed to find this thread.

My Grandfather was in the 10th Battalion RWF, and was wounded in the 17th -19th August attack on Lonely Trench.

My wife and I are travelling to, and staying in the area on the 17th to 19th August this year.

I've identified Dublin, Casement and Maltz Horn Farm Trench. Also from Google maps street view, it would appear that part of the Maltz Horn Trench, in the area of the Hardecourt to Montauban is still visible.

What I'm really struggling with, even after buying and downloading maps, is the location of the German held Lonely Trench.

Please can anyone help me? Just an image of a hand drawn line on a map would do.

Thanks, in anticipation

Robin.

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CROONAERT

What I'm really struggling with, even after buying and downloading maps, is the location of the German held Lonely Trench.

Please can anyone help me? Just an image of a hand drawn line on a map would do.

Here's the northern bit of it...

Dave

post-357-0-20559100-1459253960_thumb.jpg

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CROONAERT

...which would place it here on a modern IGN map...

post-357-0-32179500-1459254221_thumb.jpg

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CROONAERT

Here's a French trench map extract from September 1916 showing the full length...

Dave

post-357-0-29737300-1459254491_thumb.jpg

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