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Black Horse Bridge over Ancre River


Peter Shand
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Confirmation that 'Pontoon Bridge' on Linesman map is indeed Black Horse Bridge on the attached map from Regimental History of 16th Northumberland Fusliliers. The blue line marked on the map is the route they took, crossing over Black Horse Bridge, on the night of 30 June 1916 en route to their slaughter.

post-8000-1177961715.jpg

Peter

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Confirmation that 'Pontoon Bridge' on Linesman map is indeed Black Horse Bridge on the attached map from Regimental History of 16th Northumberland Fusliliers. The blue line marked on the map is the route they took, crossing over Black Horse Bridge, on the night of 30 June 1916 en route to their slaughter.

post-8000-1177961715.jpg

Peter

Thanks Peter - Very clear map!

Harry

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Paul and All,

A fascinating post and one which holds great interest for me too, this being the area where the 1st Dorsets were on 1st July and one I have personally walked too. The map and photo is fab. It is a fantastic advert for Linesman, but is it worth the £249 outlay? The 3D facility sounds excellent.

Paul - I have printed your attachments off in colour on A3 paper - looks terrific (thanks to my employer, by the way!).

It is noticeable straight away that Blighty Valley Cemetery lies at the end of a section of trench that appears to go to nowhere, and which is now the approach path. The line of the Blighty Valley Railway can also clearly be seen.

More soon as I have a bus to catch!

Steve

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A taster of 20,000 scale maps to come

This map clearly marks Black Horse Road and Bridge.

Congratulations to the Forum for their excellent improved image system.

post-12226-1178052237.jpg

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As someone with an interest in the 1st Dorsets and the 32nd Division I have really enjoyed this thread. Thanks to Smithmaps for that amazing map.

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Steve

Cabstand is on the road between Aveluy Wood a Hamel, I seem to remember a bend in this road is the location.

When I find my notes I'll get back to you.

Linesman is probably the best thing to happen to First World War research since the N.A. first allowed digital photography. But the £250 does make you cough a bit.

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  • 2 months later...

Hope you don't mind me resurrecting this thread but I've noticed something in "The Weary Road" by Charles Douie that I missed previously. On a number of occasions (for example on page 142) he talks about "...a long causeway across the marshes known as Blackhorse Bridge."

I, and a lot of others I suspect, felt that the bridge was a pontoon affair that actually spanned the Ancre (see my photo on this thread) but in his marvellous book, Douie seems to be saying that the causeway on the other side of the Ancre (Black Horse Road) is the bridge!

I can readily understand his point. In a real sense, the causeway is "a bridge" that stands today, as it did in 1916, above the level of the surrounding marshland and it was the only route from there through the wood to the front line trenches facing Thiepval.

I'd be interested in your views.

Harry

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Found this photo amongst my 15th Glasgow Tramways stuff which reads ' Black Horse Shelters besides the River Ancre. 150 yards south of Authuille and 1 and1/4 miles south of Thiepval, in which the 15th H.L.I. spent rest periods before the Battle of the Somme in 1916. And judging by Smithmaps the small bridge on the left is Black Horse Bridge which would seem to be an army structure rather than a bridge that was in place before the area became a battle zone.

BlackHorse.jpg

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Found this photo amongst my 15th Glasgow Tramways stuff which reads ' Black Horse Shelters besides the River Ancre. 150 yards south of Authuille and 1 and1/4 miles south of Thiepval, in which the 15th H.L.I. spent rest periods before the Battle of the Somme in 1916. And judging by Smithmaps the small bridge on the left is Black Horse Bridge which would seem to be an army structure rather than a bridge that was in place before the area became a battle zone.

BlackHorse.jpg

Hello Glesga

Super picture and that area really hasn't changed a great deal over the years. The Ancre and its tributary is clearly shown on your photo and yes I have always thought the bridge over the Ancre was Black Horse Bridge. Douie though seems to be saying something different: that the bridge is the causeway that the troops used to cross the Ancre marshes when they were moving up into the front line trenches in front of Thiepval.

Kind regards,

Harry

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Thanks for the photo, Glesga Keelie, and to you Harry for the comments. Which direction do you think the photo was taken - looking north or south?

Regards, Pete

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Thanks for the photo, Glesga Keelie, and to you Harry for the comments. Which direction do you think the photo was taken - looking north or south?

Regards, Pete

hello Pete,

From Glesga's comments, I would say that the photo was taken looking north towards Authuille. In the 90 years that have passed the undergrowth and trees around the Ancre and its tributary have grown apace and I suspect that the photo I posted was of a bridge that had been sited (replaced after the original had been destroyed in 1918) on the position of the right hand one in Glesga's photograph. I'll check this out though with my pal who took the photo and get back to you asp.

Harry

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Hi Harry, I'm sure your right. Looking north towards Authuille agrees with Linesmans post #29. The dugouts would likely be protected by the eastern bank. There would be no protection against shelling if on the west side.

Cheers, Pete.

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From my numerous visits to the area I would suspect that this photo shows the Ancre just to the left of the far bottom end of the Authuille Military Cemetery wall...

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Hi Harry, I'm sure your right. Looking north towards Authuille agrees with Linesmans post #29. The dugouts would likely be protected by the eastern bank. There would be no protection against shelling if on the west side.

Cheers, Pete.

You could be right Peter. I was there in April but didn't notice a high bank on the western side. Mind you it was so overgrown it was difficult to see anything clearly.

Harry

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From my numerous visits to the area I would suspect that this photo shows the Ancre just to the left of the far bottom end of the Authuille Military Cemetery wall...

Now I'm a little bit confused Glesga. We checked out the area behind the military cemetery in Authuille and decided it wasn't in that immediate vicinity. We then went to the Authuille communal cemetery just to the south of the village and decided that we were then in the correct vicinity. See post 13 on this thread.

I have to say though that it does seem to coincide with the position on the maps but I certainly wouldn't bet tuppence on being right.

Harry

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Please look at the trace I did back in Post #18. This is not an approximate location of Black Horse Bridge, it is an exact trace using the trench map data located on to the modern landscape. Once you know where the bridge is, the rest will fall into place.

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Please look at the trace I did back in Post #18. This is not an approximate location of Black Horse Bridge, it is an exact trace using the trench map data located on to the modern landscape. Once you know where the bridge is, the rest will fall into place.

Thanks Paul. I hope its "fallen into the right place".

Your trace seems to me to be just slightly left of the civilian cemetery in Authuille as I said in post 13. I think your trace does more than that though, it suggests that Blackhorse Bridge wasn't just the device spanning the Ancre, it was also the causeway across the Ancre marshes that Charles Douie talked about as Black Horse Bridge.

Harry

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The friend who took the photo that I included in posting 13 has drawn my attention to something in Glesga's photograph that I, and perhaps some of you, have missed.

I was focusing on the dugouts and the two small bridges that cross the Ancre and its tributary in the top half of the photo. If you look carefully an the bottom left hand corner though you will see what appears to be a much more substantial feature that is more likely to be the sort of bridge needed to withstand the weight of large numbers of heavily laden troops.

With Paul's help I think we've identified where it is (adjacent to the Authuille civilian cemetery). Could this be the Blackhorse Bridge that existed in 1916?

Harry

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From the information on the Linesman mapping, the IGN 1:25000 mapping,and the war time photo I would guess that the bridge in the bottom left is more likely the Kelly Bridge. The Black Horse Bridge may have been in the trees in the near background, and the little bridge seen may a temporary footbridge?

Regards, Pete

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From the information on the Linesman mapping, the IGN 1:25000 mapping,and the war time photo I would guess that the bridge in the bottom left is more likely the Kelly Bridge. The Black Horse Bridge may have been in the trees in the near background, and the little bridge seen may a temporary footbridge?

Regards, Pete

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You could be right Pete but on the photo it looks too close to the others to be Kelly Bridge. Mind you I don't know, I don't think I've come across "Kelly Bridge" before.

When my friend pointed it out, it seemed the sort of contraption that would be needed for large numbers of troops to pass to and from the trenches at Thiepval etc.

Harry

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  • 4 months later...
Friends and I got back a few days ago from The Somme and on our last day we spent several hours searching for Black Horse Bridge. We had a number of reference points to work with and because of that we were pretty confident that we would be able to find it.

Well, it proved to be a lot more difficult than we had envisaged mainly because access to the bank of the Ancre is restricted in most places and damn difficult to negotiate where access was possible.

Anyway to cut a long story short, we think we found it and we have a photo (or to be more precise my friend does and as soon as he's put it on to his PC and sent me a copy, I'll post it here).

We think it is immediately behind the civilian cemetery on the south edge of Authuille village. If you go to the back of the cemetery to the very high conifer hedge, access to the bank of the Ancre behind it is possible through a narrow gap in the right hand corner of the hedge. It isn't easy but you can get down to the level of the river and there's a metal bridge close by. I'm not saying that this bridge is the original but we think the site could be. The banks are high and in 1916 they were honeycombed with dugouts etc. From photographs we've seen it really does look as if it is the right spot.

Hope this helps

Harry

Hello Harry,

As a new member of the forum, I have been scouring for information on how to get to Black Horse Bridge after failing to find it with a friend earlier in the year. The information that you have posted looks just the ticket and hopefully next time round I'll have more success when I go back. Curiously enough we got as far as the cemetery in Authuille village but that was about it!

Best

Adrian (East Kent)

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Gents

To clear up any speculation, we now have the ability to pinpoint any features accurately.

To that end I post a map over which I have made a mark of the Western Bridge of the two.

It can be made to give the Longitude/Lattitude to an accuracy of about 3-4 m

It's position is: 50°2'20.0"N, 2°39'59.2"E

Any GPS or PDA or indeed IGN map, can be used to confirm this.

Cheers

Guy

post-12226-1195730066.jpg

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