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Remembered Today:

Poelcapelle


mrs shorty

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Hello

Does anyone out there know of the exact location of the 9th West Yorkshire Reg. on the 9/10/1917 my g/g uncle Albert Houseman died on this day and we would like to vist the area when we go to pay our respects next year

Many Thanks Sandra

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Hi Sandra. Wyrall is paying me buy the bucket this weekend, or so it seems :P

Kids have gone for a 'Kip' as they say here in Yorkshire, so;

9th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment.

9th October, 1917.

"Zero" hour on 9th October was 5.20 a.m. when the British Artillery barrage came down promptly on the enemy's front line and his emplacements. But the ground was sodden, inches deep in mud and in an altogether appalling condition, so that many "H.E." shells did not burst. The heavy rain of the previous day and night had turned No Mans Land into a veritable quagmire, and the Battalion Diary records that "the ground was churned up so as to be one endless mass of shell-holes; mud and water was everywhere, and almost impassable."

The barrage was moving at a rate of 100 yards in four minutes as the West Yorkshiremen advanced, floundering through mud and filth, skirting the shell-holes where possible, though mostly having to "take" whatever came in the way in order to keep formation. Seven minutes after the British barrage opened, the German barrage fell, but generally it was not heavy. The British guns, however, literally plastered the enemy's trenches and emplacements with shell of all calibre, and the ordeal through which the Germans were passing must have been terribl; indeed, the records speak of it as" terrific". Yet, through all that hell of bursting shell and storm of shrapnel the hostile "pill boxes" (or emplacements) stood practically unharmed and, as the British troops went forward, murderous machine-gun fire met their advance, for the machine-guns, safely ensconced in these "pill boxes" could not be silenced. Hostille cross-fire and traversing machine-gun fire swept the whole of the Divisional front, and the ranks of the attacking troops thinned very quickly. The enemy had made good use of the ruins of Poelcappelle, concealing in them his riflemen and machine-gunners, who were able to fire in enfilade."

Battalion War Diary;

"On our left flank the attack was held up at the Brewery and after heavy casualties the 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment found themselves with both flanks "in the air". Very few officers were left in either the Yorkshire Regiment or our own battalion, and the lack of command began to have effect. On the left, the 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment was completely hung up and the remnants of the battalion fell back in the hope of reorganising. When our men saw this, news quickly spread that the 6th Yorkshires were retiring, and as the enemy had by this time paries almost in line with us on this front, some took up a position further back so as to preseve the general line and remain in touch with our flanks. Meanwhile, the attack progressed with less resistance on the right and further headway would doubtless have been possible but for the stoppage in the centre and on the left. The only course open in view of heavy casualties, the serious resistance and the prospect of a counter-attack in a few hours was to consolidate as far as possible and prepare to hold the line approximately to our assembly line. Every effort was made with this object in view, and to guard against any serious attempt to dislodge us from the position the 6th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment was brought into position between Pheasant Farm and Retour Cross-roads".

But for the moment the battalion was safe from counter-attack, for from statements made by prisoners taken it was evident that the enemies losses had been very heavy, for a new division had taken over his front line on the previous night and the stoutness of his resistance had resulted in a heavy role of casualties.

After the attack had come to a standstill and the assaulting battalions had consolidated their positions, numerous parties went out from both sides in order to collect the wounded and dead. For the time being both British and Germans refrained from firing on one another during this mournful task, and in one place the opposing troops were but 30 yards apart. As long as daylight lasted the work continued and when darkness fell the role was called. Heavy, indeed, had been the losses of the 9th West Yorkshires, 12 officers and 203 other ranks being killed, wounded and missing.

Officers killed Captain L C Kirk, Leiut F H Evans and 2nd Leiut R A Harris, B Roberts, G C G Grose and E J Woods, Leiut E S Pyne died of wounds 12th October

Other ranks 47 killed, 113 wounded, 43 missing.

Sandra, be honest, burst into tears when i typed that. The memories can be painful.

Remembering.

Chris.

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Sandra, be honest, burst into tears when i typed that. The memories can be painful.

Remembering.

Chris.

Hi Chris

My goodness how I agree with your sentiments, I have been researching my family history for a year now but it's only recently I have discovered relatives who had died in the Great War I confess this has been the most emotive part and, I am so glad with this forums help I can ressurect the memories once more of long forgotten heroes

Lest we forget indeed.......

Many thanks for your prompt reply Sandra (understand "kip" Yorkshire lass meself)

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Hi Sandra.

If there is anything else i can do for you, please feel free to drop me a line.

Kindest regards, and in the memory of your relative "Ca Ira".

Chris.

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Agreed Chris,

And Many Thanks for the time you spent posting the information on the 10th Bttn on another thread. I found it most useful, and I'm sure others with an interest in the West Yorkshire Regiment in general will find it just as rewarding.

Cheers,

Dave

Mrs Shorty,

Please let me know if I can help in any way regarding sources for the 9th West Yorks, it's not really my area of research, but I occasionally visit Special Collections at Leeds University, and there might be something of interest there. If you want to check their catalogue yourself, just go to the Leeds University Library Website, click on 'Liddle Collection', and then 'General Search' or '[9TH] West Yorkshire Regiment'.

Kind Regards,

Dave

PS: I may have missed it, but do you have details of where Gt Uncle Albert Houseman might have been born or enlisted. He may have a mention in the local papers.

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PS: I may have missed it, but do you have details of where Gt Uncle Albert Houseman might have been born or enlisted. He may have a mention in the local papers.

Hi yes he enlisted at Knaresboro, all 5 brothers served in WW1; 2 being killed Albert & William I will have to have a hunt for publications around this time as that fact alone (whole family serving ) might have been worth a mention

Thank you Sandra

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Hello Sandra,

I'll make a point of looking for something regarding Albert Houseman when in Leeds Library next week. There might be an obituary or photo in the Yorkshire Evening Post or Leeds Evening News. I've just checked CWGC for William Houseman, and assuming I've found the right lad, it might be worth posting his details elsewhere, and with a bit of luck some of those with an interest in the Manchester Territorials might be able to help.

Houseman, William Pte. No. 270193 [2/6 Manchester Regiment] K.I.A. 21-3-1918 Cemetery-Memorial: Pozieres Memorial Panel 64 to 67 [son of J.R. and Phoebe Houseman, of Ferrensby, Knaresborough]

Apologies if you've already gone through this route, but it might be worth reviving.

Kind Regards,

Dave

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Hi Sandra.

I see William is commemorated on the Manchester Regiment Panels at the Pozieres Mememorial, Somme. Do you have a photo? If you don't, i'll be there in a couple of weeks if you would like one?

Regards, Chris.

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Hi Chris & Mr uk

Yes William is at Pozieres Cemetery he served with 2/6 mancs. I would love a photo if you have time to take one, As we won't be there till June 2007.

I have a very good idea what happened to William through a kind forum member Aaron; Who sent me a map and details of his final day. as Aarons grandfather was in the Artillery attached to the 66th division

And now with the information you gave me Chris I also have Alberts final moments.

Thank you so much for your offer to look through the papers for me I would be greatly interested in your findings.

Cheers Sandra

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Hi Sandra,

Unfortunately I've drawn a bit of a blank with the Leeds press. I was hoping to find something in the YEP or the Leeds Evening News, and though I checked the copies from Oct-Dec 1917--Zilch. I even had a look at the November editions between 1919-1921, thinking there might be an Armistice/Remembrance issue, but there was nothing there either. Nothing ventured nothing gained though, and I'll make a note of Albert's details for when I'm next in York or Wetherby, and I'll have a look there. Sorry about that, I was really hoping to find something.

Kind Regards,

Dave

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Hi Sandra,

You may be interested to know that 66th Division was on the 49th Divisions right flank during the ill fated attack on the 9th of October 1917, they were in the same battle on the same day. Im not sure when William Houseman joined the 2/6th manchester battalion, but it could be a possibility both brothers fought in the same battle. Although I do beleive 2/6th Manchesters were in the 199th Infantry brigade of the 66th Division and that brigade was in reserve on the 9th of OCtober. However both brothers would have been there.

Here is a description of 66th Divisions action during the Battle of Poelcapelle

66th Division was part of II ANZAC Corps. They came into the line on 5th October, relieving the 3rd Australian Division.

On 9th October, they took part in the Battle of Poelcapelle:

'The Division attacked at 5.20 am, zero hour, with two brigades.

198 Brigade attacked with the 2/9th Manchesters and the 2/4th East Lancs; the 2/5th East Lancs were in support and the 2/10th Manchesters in reserve. The assaulting troops immediately came under severe artillery and machine-gun fire. The 2/5th East Lancs came under heavy fire from Hamburg Redoubt, which they attacked without success.

By midday it became apparent that the Brigade had only reached the first objective. Consolidation was begun. The remnants of the 2/5th were pulled back to form a line behind the two front-line battalions in anticipation of counter-attacks.

At dusk the enemy launched a counter-attack, which was repulsed by artillery and small-arms fire, the 2/5th East Lancs being usefully employed.

197 Brigade, comprising four battalions of the Lancashire Fusiliers, attacked with the 3/5th Lancashire Fusiliers. The attack was then taken over by the 2/6th and 2/8th, with the 2/7th in reserve. The Brigade advanced in dribs and drabs owing to the state of the ground.

The 3/5th Lancashire Fusiliers advanced with their right on the Roulers railway and took the Red Line. They linked with the 2/6th at about 9.30 am and joined 198 Brigade in Augustus Wood on the right.

Meanwhile the 2/8th and part of the 3/5th were pushing on towards the Blue Line, which they reached by 9.30 am and started to consolidate. Patrols were sent out and some reached the outskirts of Passchendaele itself. Bodies of the men from these two battalions were found when the village fell on 6 November.

The Germans launched two counter-attacks in the morning but were driven off with small-arms fire. A defensive flank was formed on the left but troops of the 66th Division, seeing the defensive withdrawal, mistook it for a general withdrawal and they fell back to the Red Line at about 1.30 pm.

The Red Line was firmly held by the 3/5th, 2/8th and 2/6th Lancs. Orders were received to retake the Blue Line but they were later abandoned.

The Division was in touch with the 2nd Australian Division and the 49th Division on their flanks.'

On the 10th October, the Division repulsed a counter-attack. That night it was relieved by the 3rd Australian Division.

I wonder if they knew they were at the same battle together and how quickly William got news of Albert s death? The 66th also suffered heavy losses that day. As did the Australians.

regards Aaron.

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Hi Aaron

Yet again you have come up trumps, there are shivers going up and down me and my husbands spines at that very moving account.

Albert was I believe declared missing and his body was never found (his name being comemorated at Tyne Cot.), I guess it could have been a while before William or the family were informed.

The one thing i am learning is how intertwined many divisions and battalions were throughout the war, i was completely ignorant of this and many more facts......

Many thanks for that Aaron

P.S don't think i will sleep well tonight :(

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  • 2 months later...
Hi Sandra,

You may be interested to know that 66th Division was on the 49th Divisions right flank during the ill fated attack on the 9th of October 1917, they were in the same battle on the same day. Im not sure when William Houseman joined the 2/6th manchester battalion, but it could be a possibility both brothers fought in the same battle. Although I do beleive 2/6th Manchesters were in the 199th Infantry brigade of the 66th Division and that brigade was in reserve on the 9th of OCtober. However both brothers would have been there.

Here is a description of 66th Divisions action during the Battle of Poelcapelle

66th Division was part of II ANZAC Corps. They came into the line on 5th October, relieving the 3rd Australian Division.

On 9th October, they took part in the Battle of Poelcapelle:

'The Division attacked at 5.20 am, zero hour, with two brigades.

198 Brigade attacked with the 2/9th Manchesters and the 2/4th East Lancs; the 2/5th East Lancs were in support and the 2/10th Manchesters in reserve. The assaulting troops immediately came under severe artillery and machine-gun fire. The 2/5th East Lancs came under heavy fire from Hamburg Redoubt, which they attacked without success.

By midday it became apparent that the Brigade had only reached the first objective. Consolidation was begun. The remnants of the 2/5th were pulled back to form a line behind the two front-line battalions in anticipation of counter-attacks.

At dusk the enemy launched a counter-attack, which was repulsed by artillery and small-arms fire, the 2/5th East Lancs being usefully employed.

197 Brigade, comprising four battalions of the Lancashire Fusiliers, attacked with the 3/5th Lancashire Fusiliers. The attack was then taken over by the 2/6th and 2/8th, with the 2/7th in reserve. The Brigade advanced in dribs and drabs owing to the state of the ground.

The 3/5th Lancashire Fusiliers advanced with their right on the Roulers railway and took the Red Line. They linked with the 2/6th at about 9.30 am and joined 198 Brigade in Augustus Wood on the right.

Meanwhile the 2/8th and part of the 3/5th were pushing on towards the Blue Line, which they reached by 9.30 am and started to consolidate. Patrols were sent out and some reached the outskirts of Passchendaele itself. Bodies of the men from these two battalions were found when the village fell on 6 November.

The Germans launched two counter-attacks in the morning but were driven off with small-arms fire. A defensive flank was formed on the left but troops of the 66th Division, seeing the defensive withdrawal, mistook it for a general withdrawal and they fell back to the Red Line at about 1.30 pm.

The Red Line was firmly held by the 3/5th, 2/8th and 2/6th Lancs. Orders were received to retake the Blue Line but they were later abandoned.

The Division was in touch with the 2nd Australian Division and the 49th Division on their flanks.'

On the 10th October, the Division repulsed a counter-attack. That night it was relieved by the 3rd Australian Division.

I wonder if they knew they were at the same battle together and how quickly William got news of Albert s death? The 66th also suffered heavy losses that day. As did the Australians.

regards Aaron.

Hi,

The 66th at Poelcappelle is a bit of a pet obsession of mine so I thought I'd chuck my ha'porth in. 199 Bde. did go into the main assault initailly as 197 Bde. didn't assemble on time. The 2/5th and 2/7th Manchesters assaulted in the direction of Augustus Wood. I think the 2/6th Manchesters were on working party duty behind Hill 40 - Ill check that. The period 4th - 9th October was absolute hell for division and the approach march on the night of the 8th was frankly nightmarish. Here's a description of it.

The nightmare began on 8 October. 197 and 198 Brigades assembled in the vicinity of the FREZENBERG RIDGE at 6 p.m. and were subjected to very heavy shelling even as they assembled. Only one track was allocated for each brigade and these were already torn up by pack animals. The troops were subjected to constant shelling as they filed along the tracks in the inky darkness. Frequent stops were made to save those who had been blown of the tracks into the quagmire. By 12:30 a.m. on 9 October it was clear that troops would not be in position on time unless they got a move on. The order went out – they were not to stop for any reason.. The troops marched on desperately trying to ignore the screams of their fallen comrades who were drowning in the liquid mud. 2 ½ miles before the jump off point the tracks ended and the men struggled on through driving rain in knee deep mud. Despite Herculean efforts they arrived late. In the case of 197 Brigade the head of the 3/5 Lancashire Fusiliers was at the start line. The 2/8 LF’s still 400 yards behind the start, whilst the 2/7 and 2/8 LF’s were still some 6-800 yards in the rear. Anticipating this problem 199 Brigade was put on alerts and the 2/5 and 2/7 Manchesters who fully expected to be cheering their chums on suddenly found themselves ordered into the attack..

The opening barrage was feeble and most troops could not even see it let alone follow it. What followed rapidly descended into tragic chaos.

The patrol officers that made it into Passchendaele itself were Capt. Miller (2/8 LF) and 2/Lt. Bentley (3/5 LF’s)

Cheers

Rob

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Heavy, indeed, had been the losses of the 9th West Yorkshires, 12 officers and 203 other ranks being killed, wounded and missing.

Officers killed Captain L C Kirk, Leiut F H Evans and 2nd Leiut R A Harris, B Roberts, G C G Grose and E J Woods, Leiut E S Pyne died of wounds 12th October

Other ranks 47 killed, 113 wounded, 43 missing.

Chris, do you know how many men actually went into battle. The casualty figures are actually quite light compared to some actions - only 97 men killed or missing out of a battalion is, relatively speaking, nowhere near as heavy as they could have been. Also impressive that the battalion managed to press forward and consolidate a line. All deaths in war are tragic - I don't want to distract from this point. It is important to acknowledge what the 9th West Yorkshires did achieve and to place their losses in a broader perspective.

Robert

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Mate,

I did notice on the Axis History Web site forum in the WWI section that some bloke had something of a soldier in the 471st German Regt 240th Div.

This German Div fought at Poechappel so purhaps he may be able to help with something.

Cheers

S.B

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Hi Robert.

Unfortunately i haven't had a look at the War Diary for this period, but, this is quoted from Wyrall;

"The West Yorkshires were formed up for the attack on a two company frontage, "A" Company on the right, "B" on the left, with "C" Company on the right and "D" on the left in the second line; the average strength of companies was 100."

One interesting point though Robert, after the action on the 9th, the battalion received reinforcements of twenty officers and 396 O/Rs.

Regards, Chris.

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  • 7 years later...

Can anyone tell me whether the 1/8th battalion was involved in the Poelcappelle Battle please? My man, Colin Arthur Carter died 9/10/1917 as well. sheilmar

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  • 4 years later...

Hi Chris, I'm sorry that my reply is many years after the original post regarding the Battle of Poelcappelle on 9th Oct 1917...but have you any information regarding the rough locations and formations that the 198th Bde were positioned at please? I know its a very long shot...but I have a relative from the 2/9th Manchester Regt who died on that fateful day and his name is inscribed at Tyne Cot...his body was never located (can only assume he was very sadly lost in a barrage or far worse by drowning in the horrendous quagmire!) 

 

I've recently visited Ypres and Passendale via Poelcappelle area, but always wondered if any records or notes are kept from the Regimental and Battalion formations during the attack, do you think?

 

If you can assist or advise then it'll be massively appreciated, cheers!

 

Many thanks

 

Richy

 

 

 

 

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Hi Richy,

 

Welcome to the forum.

 

The Brigade HQ diary is here at the National Archives, or here on Ancestry. It looks like is contains orders, a report on operations, and a couple of maps.

 

Regards

Chris

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