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Remembered Today:

8th Black Watch Arras May 1917


Lachlan07
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Hello everybody - I am a new member here.

I am trying to locate the whereabouts of the 8th Batt Black Watch, 9th Scottish Division on 3rd May 1917, as this is where and when my Great Uncle, S/9365 L/Cpl David Elder Robertson, was killed. I know he was killed in the Battle of Arras and he is mentioned on Bay 6 of the Arras War Memorial for 35,000 servicemen with no known grave. I have been in contact with the Black Watch Musuem, who have been very helpful to give me an excerpt from the battalion's war diary.

According to the 8th Batt BW war diary, they moved into their assault trenches above Roeux on 1st May 1917, taking over that stretch from a battalion of the Seaforths. The location is described as running from the Brickworks on Greenland Hill then due South for 500 yards toward Roeux Station. The battle account for 3rd May also mentions heavy fire from the Chemical Works.

Unfortunately, I don't have any trench maps, so I have used Google Earth to try to get a feel for their position. I found the railtrack and what looks like the position of Roeux Station. I understand from other war websites that the nearby building, now a supermarket, was the site of the Chemical Works. I have tried working North of that position to try to see the British positions. I noticed that while most terrain was around 180 feet elevation, the land North West of there forms a ridge about 300+ feet elevation running roughly West-East. higher at the Western side. North of the Roeux Station etc the land rises to about 230+ feet (the lower East side of the West-East Ridge). This is in the area of today's complex highway intersection. Zooming into the road intersection area, I noticed what look like the foundation/base of a large rectangular building and nearby are what might just be the remains of a trench formation, with a noticeable v-shaped area, like a redan. it's tempting to think this is the old Brickworks and these lines are part of the trench remains.

This is as far as I have reached to date. I would be truly appreciative if anyone could shed further light on this, even better if someone can relate the positions to Google Earth, which recognises coordinates.

My aim, as it has been for a long time, is to complete my mother's sincere wish to visit Uncle David's death site and lay flowers. We know he was mortally wounded during the inital assault, according to a medic's letter. She harboured that wish for many years but prior to the internet and with her poorly condition, it was not possible. Now she has died and the internet community have opened up possibilities, it is my vowed intent to complete her pilgimage next May and i want to be where he was killed.

Please help.

Thank you very much.

Lachlan

If you wish to use e-mail, then my add is L_Gow2006@yahoo.co.uk

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Lachlan,

One of the pals (Dave Croonaert) may be able to give you a hand with this...apologies but I do not have a map of this - so it could be worth giving Dave a PM as he may not read this post. I'm sure he has quite a good collection of trench maps that could be used in conjunction with a current French IGN map/Google Earth

Hope this helps

Aye

Tom McC

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Lachlan,

If this is any good, please give me a pm and I will send you a higher definition copy? 8 BW, Aug 1917.

Aye

Tom McC

post-10175-1184620378.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lachlan,

I remember now typing out an article on this action for a forum member (Shona) a while back. It is from the 9th Division History and may help put together more of the jigsaw:

 

Aye

Tom McC

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