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Remembered Today:

David_Blanchard

Aisne- Chemin des Dames Battle May- June 1918

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Mark Weekes
16 minutes ago, David_Blanchard said:

Mark,

 

Do you have a photograph of your great grandfather you could share?

 

David 

Hello David,

 

Sadly not. My grandfather did a lot of work researching his own father’s movements leading up to 27th May 1918, and may have had some photos of him. Unfortunately his work was lost after he died in 1986. My source for research on him is the World War One soldiers papers from the National Archive via Ancestry and some familial knowledge. 

 

An additional difficulty - so far as Herbert George Weekes (my great grandfather) is concerned -  is that he enlisted in 1914 in the Manchester Regiment, but was transferred to the Yorkshire Regiment on arrival at Etaples in April 1918, it’s highly unlikely any photos from other sources of the 1/5 Yorks from the time would show him. I have not tried the Manchester Regiment to see if they have any photos, but he was a clerk and so a reserved occupation and so spent the period from 1914-1918 at home, only being called into active duty in April 1918. 

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DPP

Having been scanning in documents relating to my grandfather and discovering he was captured on 27th May 1918 at "Chemin des Dames" (he recorded key dates/places in his "Pocket Testament"), I was by chance able to drive along the CD18 route recently and visit various memorials etc relating to this ridge and in particular this date.

I have been wondering whether/how I can discover more about whereabouts he would have been positioned, but have so far drawn a blank and wonder if this forum is able to help.

The details I have are his discharge papers and his pocket testament and the very little he told me about the action.

Details: Name - Barrett Dennison, Regt.- Northumberland Fusiliers, Regt. Number - 66648, Unit - 1st Battalion (note this is the battalion on discharge in Sept 1919, and cannot have been the one he was in on 27th May as (discovered upon purchasing the battalion documents) it appears they were elsewhere!), Rank - Lance Corporal (on discharge, probably Private in 1918).

He told me he was part of a Lewis gun team (possibly because of his poor eyesight - quite an amusing story associated with that) and that they'd had a heavy bombardment early on the 27th May and had been firing the gun when all went quiet with no-one friend nor foe to be seen. They sent one of the team to find out what was happening and he eventually returned in a panic saying there were Germans in their trench! It appears their position was just by-passed and they were completely cut off. Eventually they surrendered (and his experiences as a prisoner of war are another story). Over what time period this played out I have no idea.

I apologise if this is not the appropriate place to make this request, but have found trying to find out more about this action fascinating and sobering.

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PJS
On 16/08/2018 at 14:16, DPP said:

Having been scanning in documents relating to my grandfather and discovering he was captured on 27th May 1918 at "Chemin des Dames" (he recorded key dates/places in his "Pocket Testament"), I was by chance able to drive along the CD18 route recently and visit various memorials etc relating to this ridge and in particular this date.

I have been wondering whether/how I can discover more about whereabouts he would have been positioned, but have so far drawn a blank and wonder if this forum is able to help.

The details I have are his discharge papers and his pocket testament and the very little he told me about the action.

Details: Name - Barrett Dennison, Regt.- Northumberland Fusiliers, Regt. Number - 66648, Unit - 1st Battalion (note this is the battalion on discharge in Sept 1919, and cannot have been the one he was in on 27th May as (discovered upon purchasing the battalion documents) it appears they were elsewhere!), Rank - Lance Corporal (on discharge, probably Private in 1918).

He told me he was part of a Lewis gun team (possibly because of his poor eyesight - quite an amusing story associated with that) and that they'd had a heavy bombardment early on the 27th May and had been firing the gun when all went quiet with no-one friend nor foe to be seen. They sent one of the team to find out what was happening and he eventually returned in a panic saying there were Germans in their trench! It appears their position was just by-passed and they were completely cut off. Eventually they surrendered (and his experiences as a prisoner of war are another story). Over what time period this played out I have no idea.

I apologise if this is not the appropriate place to make this request, but have found trying to find out more about this action fascinating and sobering.

 

It appears that he was serving in D Company, 14th Platoon, 6th Northumberland Fusiliers on that day. See the ICRC cover page here: https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/File/Details/355937/3/2/ and his record here: https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/List/355937/698/39896/

 

That would put him in the 50th Division,149th Bde:

50th Division: Major-General H C Jackson
149th Brigade: Brigadier-General E P A Riddell
4th Northumberland Fusiliers
5th Northumberland Fusiliers
6th Northumberland Fusiliers 

 

Lots of information about what happened on that day which you should easily be able to find but here's a quick summary from Military Operations France And Belgium 1918, Vol-III.

https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli.2015.210685/2015.210685.Military-Operations_djvu.txt

 

The 149th Brigade (Br.-General E. P. A. Riddell) had only the 4/Northumberland Fusiliers in the front zone, with two companies disposed as outposts on the hook-shaped spur in which the Chemin des Dames ridge terminates, since it had been decided to hold as the real front a line of posts near the Reims - Corbeny road on the reverse slope. To this line, manned by a third company, the survivors of the bombardment withdrew, and there they checked the enemy’s advance. But, with the assistance of four tanks, he soon broke through and advanced against the Switch Line, held by three companies, the remaining company of the 4th and two of the 6/Northumberland Fusiliers. Brave resistance was offered; but here again enemy tanks turned and overwhelmed the right flank near Ville aux Bois, and the trenches were lost. Behind these, in the Battle Zone, lay four small French redoubts, including Centre Marceau, occupied by the headquarters of the 4th and 6/Northumberland Fusiliers and the two remaining companies of the latter. But by 6 a.m. the enemy had taken one of the redoubts and the Butte d’Edmond, a post on a knoll behind the left of the line, whose four machine guns had been knocked out by the bombardment. The other redoubts held out much longer; but finally all were surrounded and captured. Lieut. -Colonel B. D. Gibson of the 4/Northumberland Fusiliers was killed, and except for small parties, both this battalion and the 6th had ceased to exist.

 

You will probably also want to take a look at When the Lantern of Hope Burned Low, which is a fascinating first hand account of the 4/Northumberland Fusiliers.

https://archive.org/details/lanternofhope00calluoft

 

Good luck with your search

Peter

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