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Remembered Today:

E Battalion, TANK CORPS, NOV'17


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Hello,

Does anyone have details of the action fought by E Bn Tank Corps on the 20-21 Nov 1917? I am keen to know where exactly they advanced at Cambrai, how many Tanks they used and if there is a list of casualities or number of tanks knocked out etc. In fact any details would be great.

I am researching a chap called Richmond who served with them and was wounded either on the 20th or 21st. He was a trained lewis gunner and was wounded in the Arm and hand {GSW}.

At the start of Nov he was awarded 7 days FP No.2, so it was a bit of a bad month for him!

Many thanks,

Stewart

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Many of E Bn's tank were destroyed as they tried to capture the village of Flesquieres - gf you put that in search you will find lots of info.

The best account is probably within Following the Tanks, which is "the" book to read

Stephen

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Is the Man in Question one J.C.Richmond ?

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Hello,

Thanks for both replies. His name was John Richmond, I have not come across any middle names, so the man you refer to may be someone else. His number was 95436. He enlisted into the London Scottish in 1915 and saw service with them in France from Dec 1915 to May 1916, he was later posted to the MGC. He was awarded 7 Days FP No2 on the 2nd Nov 1917 and was wounded in action on the 20th Nov 1917. He recieved a GSW to Upper Left Arm and Right hand. Discharged to duty in march 1918 but then went sick with VD for about 60 days! He rejoined the 5th Bn Tank Corps on the 29th May 1918. His records also state he was a trained 1st Class Lewis Gunner.

Was E Battalion supporting the 51st Highland Div during the action of the 20th Nov 1917?

Many thanks,

Stewart

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Stewart,

For the first day's fighting:

72 of the 1st Bde Tank Corps were alloted to the Highland Division's front (70 took part).

E Battalion were allotted to 152 Bde

D Battalion were alloted to 153 Bde

In the official history it says nothing about this changing on the 20th.

Hope this helps

Aye

Tom McC

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E Bn deployed 35 tanks at the start of the battle; by the afternoon of 20th November, 18 had been destroyed or disabled by enemy action, one was ditched and further 9 were unserviceable due to technical difficulties.

29 of the Bn were dead, 31 were missing and 64 were wounded. No tanks were in action on 21st November and only 11 were used on 23 in support of the attack in the area of Moeuvres.

From his regimental number, I would guess that John Richmond joined the Bn in Bovington and deployed with them to France in May 1917.

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Extract from ''The Tank Corps'' by Major Clough Williams-Ellis MC.

Allocation of Fighting Tanks -

1st Brigade Battalions / No. Tanks / 3rd Corps Divisions

D (4) / 42 / On Right : 51st.

E (5) / 42 / 51st and 62nd.

G (7) / 42 / On left : 62nd

Anyone heard of a Lieutenant A R Fraser MC (1918) 15th Bn. Tank Corps ?

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Hello,

Nearly spot on, he went to France from Bovington on the 25 June 1917! he seems to have transferred to the MGC {HS} at Bovington on the 26th Feb 1917, and by 5th April he was granted 1st Class prof pay as a Lewis Gunner 1st Class.

Do you know what type of tank the Battalion were equiped with? Also, does anyone know where i can get a copy of that book? Amazon don't have it.

Regards,

Stewart

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Tank Corps roll of honour shows him as Adam Robertson Fraser; MC awarded for action at Hallu on Aug 11th, 1918

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Stewart; the Bn was equipped with Mark IV tanks = as for the book, the English version is quite difficult to get hold of (I was extremely lucky to get mine through this forum).

Stephen

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That would make sense; I think it was the first history of the Tank Corps.

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I have the Complete Citation if you would like it ?,it is in the Book "The Tank Corps Honours and Awards 1916-1919".

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PBI,

Was J C Richmond a different person? What sort of info is the war diary likely to contain? Would it be very indepth?

Did the Bn Have a busy time of it in 1918?

Thanks for everyones help.

Stewart

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  • 2 weeks later...

Stewart,

I have some information, the names of the tanks of the 3 Coys of E Battalion in support of 152 Brigade, their commanders, sex, and role of tank (Wire Crusher etc.). Give a bit of time to type it out :) . I was trying to extract the information from the official history about the tanks, but it is more in context in its entirety.

Anyway, here is the account from The History of the Fifty First Highland Division - by Major F W Brewsher DSO, MC:

51st Highland Division at Cambrai

For the first day’s fighting, seventy-two of the 1st Brigade Tank Corps were allotted to the Divisional front, of which seventy actually took part in the operation. One-half of the tanks, “E” Battalion, were allotted to 152nd Brigade, the other half, “D” Battalion, to the 153rd.

They were divided into three waves. The first, formed of twelve “Rovers” or wire-crushers, moved forward at zero, 150 yards in front of the second, to crush the wire protecting the enemy front and support trenches, and then to engage machine-guns and any special posts outside the main trenches. The second wave, formed of thirty-six “Fighting” tanks, dealt with the trenches up to and including the Blue line. The third, composed of all the remaining fighting tanks, was detailed to form up an hour and a half after zero just south of the Grand Ravine, and to proceed with the survivors of the first two to attack the Flesquieres Ridge.

The distribution was on the basis of one section of three tanks to a platoon frontage (i.e., about 150 yards). The general principle on which sections were to work was for the two outside tanks to cross a trench, turn alongside it and help clear it, while the centre tanks carried on to the next trench, there to be joined by the two others as soon as the infantry had reached the first trench.

However, in tackling a system which contained many crater posts and sapheads, and which was thickly interlaced with short communication trenches and backed by many subsidiary trenches and detached posts, some modifications of the general principles were necessary.

Special tasks were therefore given to many of the second wave section of tanks, in which each tank was given some saphead, crater post, or communication trench to deal with in addition to assailing the main trenches.

Similarly, detailed instructions were given as to routes and individual objectives in the village fighting that was anticipated.

Each tank carried on its back a huge fascine or faggot, resting on a giant pair of arms. A contrivance existed by which these arms raised the fascines off the back of the tank, and dropped them into any unusually wide trenches encountered, so as to form a stepping-stone, which enabled the tanks to keep their noses from dropping to the bottom of the trench.

In spite of this precaution, the Hindenburg Line was in some parts so broad and deep that a number of tanks were ditched in spite of the fascines.

The first wave of infantry followed the tanks at a distance of 150-200 yards, their orders being to assault immediately the tanks reached and opened fire on a trench. On reaching their objectives, the infantry marked with red strips of cloth the gaps in the wire, and filled in portions of the trenches as crossing places for subsequent tanks, cavalry, and artillery.

Each tank carried for the use of the infantry Lewis gun drums, rifle ammunition, bombs, and rifle grenades.

The field artillery supporting the attacks was divided into two groups, each composed of two field artillery brigades and one R.H.A. brigade. Each brigade was supported by one of these groups, that containing the 256th Brigade, R.F.A., being on the right and that containing 255th Brigade, R.F.A., on the left.

One brigade of artillery covered each battalion front, while the 3rd Brigade of artillery covered its whole infantry brigade front. The fifteen 18-pounder batteries firing in the creeping barrage fired 33 per cent of smoke shells, so as to screen the movement of the tanks.

Two 4.5 howitzer batteries also kept a standing smoke barrage in front of Flesquieres Ridge.

No registration was carried out, so that the presence of fresh batteries in the area might not be disclosed. The whole of the firing was therefore carried out from the map and calibration.

The concentration of artillery, tanks, and infantry immediately behind the line from which the attack was to be launched was successfully effected between 17th and 19th November with great rapidity and complete secrecy, mainly under the cover of darkness.

The artillery was moved up on 17th November; the tanks were assembled on the night of the 18th November in Havrincourt Wood, and travelled to their assembly positions in the early hours of the 20th. The infantry came into Metz on the evening of the 18th, and began taking over the line on the 19th.

It must be borne in mind that a similar concentration of tanks, guns, and troops was taking place simultaneously on the fronts of Divisions on either flank. The fact that all the necessary moves took place, and that the troops were eventually formed up in the assembly trenches without any suspicions being aroused in the mind of the enemy, show how admirably the arrangements for ensuring secrecy were carried out.

A taped white line was laid out in front of the assembly trenches to ensure that the main wave of tanks formed up on its proper alignment. By zero hour the bulk of them were on this line, while the remainder which had been delayed from one cause or another were crossing the British front line.

The twelve “Rovers” were formed up beyond this line, the third wave being deployed behind the support line.

The platoons to form the first two waves in the attack took over the line on the morning of the 19th, and thus had an opportunity of viewing the ground to their front. At midnight the remainder of the four leading battalions arrived in their assembly trenches.

Before zero hour the four battalions for the later stages of the initial attack were assembled in the rear of the trench area, with their leading platoons on the Charing Cross – Trescault road.

As soon as darkness set in the platoons which had arrived first set to work to make causeways across their trenches for the passage of the tanks. They also freed the troops that were to assemble during the night from any chances of confusion and unnecessary fatigue by placing in position red lamps, flags, signboards, and markers to show routes and positions of platoons.

Before zero hour all ranks were issued with a hot meal. Naturally considerable anxiety was felt, as it was feared that the noise of the engines of the assembling tanks might be heard by the enemy and cause him to open a heavy bombardment of our trenches. However, though a light southerly breeze carried the noise made by the seventy tanks on the move towards the enemy, there was between 2 A.M. and 6 A.M. only slight hostile artillery activity, and that only on the left front.

During the whole period of assembly there were a few casualties in the forward battalions of the 153rd Brigade, and none on the 152nd Brigade front.

At 6.30 A.M., 20th November, the advance began on a fine but cloudy morning, the visibility being such that a man could be seen at a distance of about 200 yards. As the artillery barrage opened, the twelve wire-crushing tanks moved off, accompanied by small parties of infantry detailed for the capture of the outpost line.

Four minutes later a light artillery barrage came down on and just in front of our assembly trenches, causing slight casualties. Considerable hostile machine-gun fire was also opened, but it was wild and harmless. Between 9.15 and 9.40 A.M. all the leading battalions had reached their objectives.

The 5th Seaforth Highlanders on the right carried out their advance practically without a check, making a bag of 9 machine-guns and 230 prisoners including 14 officers. The total number of casualties sustained by the battalion in this operation was twenty-five.

On arrival at the railway, “A” Company, 5th Seaforth Highlanders, found that the situation at Ribecourt was obscure, hostile machine-guns still being active there. Lance-Corporal R. MacBeath was therefore sent out with a patrol to report on the situation. Having proceeded 150 yards from his company MacBeath discovered the first machine-gun, and killed the gunner with his revolver. A tank then arrived and drove the team sof some of the other machine-guns down a deep dug-out. MacBeath bounded down the dug-out steps after them, killed a German who resisted him on the staircase, and drove the remainder – 3 officers and 30 other ranks – out of the dug-out by another exit. Sending these men to the rear as prisoners, he again entered the dug-out and thoroughly searched it, accounting for two more Germans. In all, five machine-guns were found mounted around the dug-out, which proved to be a battalion headquarters.

The capture of these guns not only freed the right flank of the 5th Seaforth Highlanders, but also considerably helped the advance of the 9th Norfolks on the right.

For his courage and initiative on this occasion MacBeath was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The 8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders had rather more fighting than the 5th Seaforth Highlanders, as active machine-guns and bombing posts were encountered in the first and second German lines and between them.

In the case of the former the Argylls overcame the resistance by advancing in short rushes, while the advent of the tanks encouraged the enemy to surrender in other parts of the front. During these operations a private soldier led his platoon to its objective in Mole Trench, his platoon commander and two sergeants having become casualties as the advance began.

On the left of the 8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders the 6th Black Watch met no resistance until they had passed the Hindenburg front line. In the later stages of their advance many machine-guns had to be tackled.

The front line proved a serious obstacle to the tanks, in spite of their fascines, four of them becoming ditched in it on the battalion front. In consequence, portions of the second wave came under close-range machine-gun fire. Of these guns one was disposed of by a sergeant, who, crawling forward, threw a hand-grenade amongst its team. The remainder were destroyed with the assistance of the tanks.

In the advance to Mole Trench further resistance was encountered by the 6th Black Watch. First two machine-gun posts on the right held up the advance; but in one case a sergeant, in the other a corporal, worked forward alone and knocked out the teams with hand-grenades.

On the left the advance was held up by uncut wire; but the infantry summoned by signals three third-wave tanks from the next battalion front, which crushed the wire and enabled the advance to be continued.

On arrival in Mole Trench the 6th Black Watch were raked with enfilade machine-gun fire from Sammy’s Trench. A platoon was therefore immediately detached, which, advancing by section rushes under cover of fire from its Lewis guns, wiped out the entire garrison of Sammy’s Trench. The Germans here offered a magnificent resistance and fought until the last man was killed.

Still further fighting occurred, heavy machine-gun and rifle fire being opened on the advancing 6th Black Watch from Grand Ravine. Individual skill and initiative were again displayed. The first machine-gun was put out of action by a private soldier, who, working towards it alone, killed five and wounded two of the team with rifle grenades. A tank at that moment arrived, and the Grand Ravine was cleared, 6 officers and 100 other ranks being taken prisoner.

Meanwhile Lieut-Col N. D. Campbell, commanding this battalion, in making a reconnaissance of the captured ground, came across a dug-out which had not previously been noticed, and with the help of his orderly captured twelve prisoners in it.

On the extreme left the 5th Gordon Highlanders made a surprisingly big bag in the outpost line, capturing 21 prisoners in one saphead, and capturing or killing 22 in another. The Hindenburg front line was entered without difficulty with the tanks, the bulk of the garrison having run back to Triangle Support. Up to this point 2 machine-guns and 200 prisoners had been captured.

It was some time before the garrison of Triangle Support could be overcome, as only one second-wave tank on the battalion front managed to cross the Hindenburg front line.

Subsequently the resistance collapsed on the arrival of some third-wave tanks, but not before odd platoons had gallantly fought their way into the trench.

Wood Trench and Mole Trench were occupied without particular effort; but beyond Mole Trench lay a sunken road, into which large numbers of the enemy had fled at the first sight of the tanks. This road was cleared with the assistance of a tank, which did magnificent execution with its 6-pounder gun, shell after shell bursting in the midst of parties of panic-stricken Germans.

By this time the 7th Black Watch, who were detailed to pass through the 5th Gordon Highlanders for the second phase of the attack, came up, and with some of the latter crossed the Grand Ravine and moved towards Chapel Trench. Here again the Germans fought stubbornly, some 40 of them being killed before the trench was occupied. The 5th Gordon Highlanders thus arrived on their objectives, having captured a total of 10 machine-guns, 2 trench mortars, and 400 prisoners, including a battalion commander complete with his staff.

So far the attack had proceeded smoothly enough, but in the next phase the conditions under which the advance was to be carried out changed considerably. Up to the present the main difficulty of the tanks had been the width and depth of the trenches which they had to traverse, effective action against them on the part of the enemy having being negligible.

In the next stage the advance was to be carried out through the enemy’s gun line, with the result that the tanks not only had to contend with the crossing of the trenches, but they were also exposed to the close-range fire of field-guns. As the infantry depended absolutely and entirely on the tanks for the crushing of the large belts of wire opposed to them, any losses sustained by the tanks, as will be seen, seriously prejudiced the infantry’s chances of success.

The enemy’s support system, which was to be overcome in the next bound, consisted of a strong fire-trench known as the Hindenburg Support, protected by two to four belts of heavy wire, and supported by a trench some 100 yards in rear known as Flesquieres Trench – a trench in many places shallow, and protected by little wire. Of these the former lay on the crest of the Flesquieres Ridge, and the latter just behind it. Both skirted a chateau at the south-west corner of the village, which, with its walls and wooded grounds, offered great possibilities for concealed defences.

On the right, the 6th Gordon Highlanders advanced on a two-company front, the leading two companies being detailed for the capture of the Hindenburg support system. These companies proceeded with six tanks. On arriving at the enemy wire the tanks came within view of a field battery some 500 yards distant, which immediately opened up on them, and by a succession of direct hits knocked out all six in the space of a few minutes, an admirable exhibition of shooting on the part of the German gunners.

Owing to the formation of the enemy’s entanglements, which projected in irregular V shapes for over 180 yards from the trench, the infantry did not appreciate, until they were held at the wire, that the tanks had failed to penetrate it. In this position they were suddenly swept by close-range machine-gun fire, and in a few moments had lost some sixty men killed and wounded.

As a farther advance in face of the uncut wire was out of the question, the companies were immediately withdrawn to Station Avenue and the sunken Ribecourt- Flesquieres road. An advance up Station Avenue was then organised with the intention of breaking into the Hindenburg support line on the right and working inwards along it. Though it turned out that Station Avenue did not join up with the Hindenburg support line, one platoon was successful in dashing across the open, entering the support line, and capturing two machine guns. This platoon, in attempting to work along the trench towards its left flank, found portions of it so shallow that they could not continue their advance in the face of the intense machine-gun fire coming from Flesquieres.

Meanwhile the remaining two companies of the 6th Gordon Highlanders had been collected in the Ribecourt-Flesquieres sunken road.

The 6th Seaforth Highlanders fared better. Seven tanks on the left and centre of the battalion front passed through the wire, and enabled the left company to enter the trench with only three casualties.

On the right of the battalion front the tanks appear to have lost their direction, as no gaps were cut in the wire. “C” Company, however, discovered a gap on their left flank, and having passed through it, pushed onwards towards the trench. Here they had some severe fighting before they finally established themselves in it, inflicting heavy losses on the enemy and capturing many prisoners.

This company then tried to force their way along the Hindenburg support line towards their right to join up with the 6th Gordon Highlanders. By leaving the trench and running along the parapet, shooting and bombing the Germans, they cleared some fifty yards of the trench. The rifle and machine-gun fire from Flesquieres, however, became so heavy that they were forced to take the trench and establish a bombing-block on their flanks between them and the enemy.

While this fighting was in progress the surviving tanks were pushing towards Flesquieres Trench; but they too, came under artillery fire, and were knocked out by direct hits.

The personnel of the tanks suffered heavy losses, as in some the tanks burst into flames on being struck by a shell, and their crews were burnt to death before help could be brought to them. There is no need to describe the sufferings of the unfortunate men who died in this manner, imprisoned in flaming tanks.

The tanks which still survived shortly became non-effective for the time being owing to the shortage of petrol. The crews which survived, however, still continued to assist the infantry after their tanks were out of action. For example, 2nd Lieutenant Blow, after his tank, the Edward II., was struck by a shell, took his Lewis guns from placed one in action at the head of a communication trench, and himself fired a Lewis gun from the roof of his tank until the gun became too hot to hold. He then attached himself to the Seaforths for the remainder of the action.

The second wave of the 6th Seaforth Highlanders, in spite of heavy fire directed at them from Flesquieres Trench, made repeated attempts to enter it, in which all officers except on per company became casualties.

One officer in particular, 2nd Lieutenant Donald Grant, displayed great courage and initiative in his efforts to gain his objective. Leading his platoon along a communication trench, east of Flesquieres Wood, he drove the enemy before him, bayoneting many himself. When all his men but one were casualties, he climbed out of his communication trench and attempted to rush Flesquieres Trench from above ground. He and his companion were shot dead.

The 7th Gordon Highlanders, just as they had done at Beaumont Hamel and again at the chemical works, carried the advance to the farthest point reached in the attack. They made short work of the Hindenburg Support, where they picked up 100 prisoners. On approaching Flesquieres Trench their tanks became subjected to close-range field-gun fire, and drew most of the fire of the riflemen and machine-gunners. The infantry were thus able to enter the trench and establish themselves in it after some heavy fighting.

On the right at first only one section gained a lodgement in this trench, but a platoon advancing over the area which the section had just traversed followed it into the trench, and then fought its way along it with bombs and rifles until it reached the battalion right hand boundary.

The next waves thus passed on to assault the village, unsupported by tanks, and in the face of a terrific fire. At one period they were able to sweep the main street of the village with Lewis-gun fire; but subjected to machine-gun fire from all sides, they could not maintain their position, and were forced back to Flesquieres Trench.

The Germans then delivered a counter-attack against the right of the 7th Gordon Highlanders, and forced them out of Flesquieres Trench, which in this sector was in many places a few inches deep.

The 7th Gordon Highlanders were thus left, holding the Hindenburg support line throughout the battalion front, and with three platoons in Flesquieres Trench.

The 7th Black Watch on the left flank of the Division encountered a series of misfortunes. In the first place, two of the tanks were ditched in crossing the front line. Secondly, before encountering Hindenburg support line, they met tremendous resistance from Cemetery Alley.

Here both their second and third waves became involved in heavy fighting, and after a sever engagement, in which the attackers were subjected to a considerable volume of machine-gun fire from Cemetery Ridge, the trench was captured with 200 prisoners.

Hindenburg support line was thus successfully captured in conjunction with tanks; but on crossing this trench, all the remaining tanks were knocked out. As uncut wire lay in front of them, and a great volume of fire was being directed against them from the village, the waves could not continue their advance. Attempts were made to get forward by small parties, but with no success, and the battalion was ordered to consolidate its gains as it stood.

At this stage the prospects of further advance were not good. The German gunner, always an unpleasantly efficient person, seemed to have got the measure of the tanks, and without them it appeared impossible in the near future to give the advance further impetus.

Meanwhile, Lieut.-Colonel S. MacDonald, D.S.O., commanding the 6th Seaforth Highlanders, had arrived at the Hindenburg support line, and had reorganised his two companies there for further efforts. He found that the village, wood, and chateau were a series of strong nests of machine-guns. However, employing tanks in the vicinity, which had run out of petrol, to open on the village with their 6-pounders and Lewis guns, he led his battalion forward in person, and gained a foothold in Flesquieres Trench, which extended to from the Ribecourt- Flesquieres road for 300 yards to the left.

From this position Colonel MacDonald, showing splendid qualities of leadership, organised two determined attempts to reach the village under cover of rifle and Lewis-gun fire. Though one or two machine-guns were put out of action, the intense fire which this enterprise attracted from the high walls of the chateau grounds and the houses in the village, checked the advance on both occasions. During one of these attempts a private soldier, single-handed, killed the team of a machine-gun and carried the gun back to the British lines.

About 5 p.m. seven more tanks arrived, of which six entered the village. They were not, however, sufficiently closely supported by the infantry, and the attack failed. The enemy with great cunning, offered no resistance to the tanks in the streets, either lying motionless in his emplacements or retiring into dug-outs and cellars while the tanks were passing. The tanks, after cruising about the village until light began to fail, returned after an uneventful voyage.

Meanwhile in support of the tanks two platoons of Seaforth Highlanders were ordered to advance through the wood, and two to enter the village from the north. The first party was held up in the wood by machine-guns, and the second entered the village only to meet the tanks withdrawing. They therefore attempted to establish a chain of posts round the village; but, fired at from front and flanks, were compelled to withdraw.

Arrangements were now made to prevent the enemy from evacuating his guns during the night by placing a machine-gun barrage on the northern slopes of the Flesquieres Ridge. With this object the 152nd Machine Gun Company alone fires over 19,000 rounds before daylight. By dawn, however, the enemy had withdrawn from Flesquieres Trench and the villages.

A patrol of the 7th Gordon Highlanders had left their trenches as early as 3.45 p.m., circled the north-west side of the village to the north-west corner, and reported that that flank was only held by a few machine-guns and snipers. At 4 p.m. a patrol of the 7th Black Watch found Flesquieres Trench unoccupied, and the battalion moved into it.

At 2.45 a.m. three patrols of the 7th Gordon Highlanders returned and reported that they had advanced as far as the Brown line, and that the whole area was clear of the enemy. About the same time a patrol of the 7th Black Watch returned with similar information. These two battalions therefore advanced and occupied the Brown line, troops of the 7th Gordon Highlanders passing right through the village and encountering only slight machine-gun and rifle fire.

At 6.15 a.m. on the following morning troops of the 6th Gordon Highlanders and 6th Seaforth Highlanders also established themselves on the Brown line without opposition.

Hoe this is of use

Aye

Tom McC

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Stewart,

Here's the tanks that were with 152 Brigade, unfortunately, I only have 13, 14, & 15 Companies as these were with 152 Bde on the 20th. Another company of E Battalion, in accordance with Liddel Hart, was with the 62nd Division. Anyway, if there is any correspondednce between the injured soldier and one of the officers' names posted, it may indicate which tank, section or company he was in.

E Tank Battalion – 152 Brigade Cambrai

No 13 Company – Coy Commander: Major Morgan

No. Sex Tank Name Commander Position

Wire Crusher - - 2nd Lt Black Ahead of Tanks Right

Haulage - - 2nd Lt Clifford Ahead of Tanks Centre

Wire Crusher EYE WITNESS 2nd Lt Carruthers Ahead of Tanks Left

Section Commander - Captain Hooley

1 Male ECLIPSE II Lt Tripe Fighting tank Right of Line

2 Female EARWIG 2nd Lt Stokes Fighting tank

3 Male EXPLORER 2nd Lt Lenard Fighting tank

Section Commander - Captain Roberts

4 Female ERADICATOR 2nd Lt Briant Fighting tank

5 Male EXTERMINATOR 2nd Lt Green Fighting tank

6 Female EMBLEM 2nd Lt Claughton Fighting tank

Section Commander - Captain Tatnell

7 Female EMPIRE 2nd Lt Blencowe Fighting tank

8 Female EXTINGUISHER 2nd Lt Llewelyn Fighting tank

9 Female EXCLUSIVE 2nd Lt Hughes Fighting tank Left of line

No 15 Company – Coy Commander: Major Montgomery (ENERGETIC)

No. Sex Tank Name Commander Position

Wire Crusher EXQUISITE 2nd Lt Wilson Ahead of Tanks Right

Haulage - - 2nd Lt Austin Ahead of Tanks Centre

Wire Crusher EURYALUS 2nd Lt Sutherland Ahead of Tanks Left

Section Commander - Captain Needle

10 Female ENDURANCE 2nd Lt Barringer Fighting tank Right of Line

11 Male EGYPT II 2nd Lt Testi Fighting tank

12 Female EAGER 2nd Lt Bruce Fighting tank

Section Commander - Captain Gregory

13 Male ESSEX II 2nd Lt Gower Fighting tank

14 Female ENERGETIC 2nd Lt Battersby Fighting tank

15 Male ELLES II 2nd Lt Dawson Fighting tank

Section Commander - Captain Spreat

16 Female EMPRESS II 2nd Lt Howells Fighting tank

17 Male EDINBURGH 2nd Lt Atkinson Fighting tank

18 Male EMPEROR 2nd Lt Whyte Fighting tank Left of line

No 14 Company – Coy Commander: Major Bargate

No. Sex Tank Name Commander Position

Section Commander - Captain Robinson

19 Male ERNEST 2nd Lt Webster Fighting tank Centre

20 Female EFFIE 2nd Lt Hauser Fighting tank Left

21 Male ELIMINATOR 2nd Lt Godfrey Fighting tank Right

Section Commander - Captian Harrison

22 Female ELLA 2nd Lt Haining Fighting tank Centre

23 Male EGBERT II 2nd Lt Blackwell Fighting tank Left

24 Female ESME 2nd Lt Johnson Fighting tank Right

Section Commander - Captain Bagshaw

25 Male EWEN 2nd Lt Cohen Fighting tank Centre

26 Female ETHELL II 2nd Lt Quainton Fighting tank Left

27 Female ELSIE 2nd Lt Bishop Fighting tank Right

Section Commander - Captain Romfrey

28 Male EDWARD II 2nd Lt Bion Fighting tank Centre

29 Female EVE 2nd Lt Fairbank Fighting tank Left

30 Female EILEEN 2nd Lt Canter Fighting tank Right

Hope this is of use

Aye

Tom McC

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Tom, thanx for all this info

Do you (by any chance) have Captain Bagshaw's intitials

Stephen

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Stephen,

I'll riffle through my 152 Brigade notes and see if he is mentioned again. Cambrai is not an area of research I've covered yet (still going through 1915 to 1916) but I am quickly becoming and armchair expert on the HD's involvement in the Battle by chance more than anything :D . I'll give you a PM in a minute with the table in Word format. If I disappear for a bit its because the wife is harrassing me to go to Tesco before it gets busy :)

Aye

Tom McC

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Tom , received with many thanx - it's estremely kind to put me ahead of the Tesco shop

The action at Flesquieres is one of the most discussed with Harper getting a lot of flak for using his own tactics; givne that they worked so well for the first half of the action, and that the tanks were oeprating ahead of the infantry (in line astern) I think that such criticism is not deserved.

Stephen

P.S. I normally go to Tesco on Sunday morning - it used to be quiet but not nowadays!

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Tanks in the Great War by Brevet Colonel Fuller provides different figures and lists E Battalion as being a member of the 153rd Brigade not 152nd which D Battalion was a member of.

1st Brigade

E-Battalion

III Corps

153rd Brigade

No. of tanks 28

Objective: Blue Fesquieres

Exploit Towards: Fontaine Bourlon Wood, Bapaume Cambrai Road

1st Brigade used all tanks in mechanical reserve.

Steve.

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Steve,

I don't think that Fuller has done his homework. D Battalion were allocated to training with 152 Bde on the 5th November 1917 (see atached article from 152 Bde's diary). Then on the 6th of November, the plan changed and E Battalion was allocated to 152 Bde. Tank numbers and names of Company Commanders change. The one I have issued is the last one in 152 Bde's Diary. If anyone is interested I can type out the 152 Bde Appendix of the action as I don't think it will post as pictures very well.

Hope this helps

Aye

Tom McC

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He also points out that 14 tanks from E Battalion were with the 62nd Division, 186th Brigade. Their objective being Brown Havrincourt, with exploit towards Bourlon village and Graincourt.

The above being figures for the 20th November 1917

Lieutenant-Colonel John Fuller was a Lt Colonel of the Tank Corps at this time, would he of made such an error?

Personally I wouldnt be surprised that there is a difference in opinion regarding the action at Flesquieres. It is often described by historians as a muddle, with Major General Harper being largely responsible for poor co-operation between the tanks and infantry.

Steve.

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Steve,

Here's the bit from the diary the day after. This one places E Battalion with 152 Brigade. I think initial commentators have been cruel to Harper and the Highland Division about the Battle of Cambrai, and more revisionist thinkers - looking at all the facts can draw a better conclusion. The plain facts are that the planning was quite detailed, however, no plan survives contact with the enemy, the enemy anti-tank gunners on the Highland Division's front were extremely efficient, and the battle in this sector was more difficult than imagined. I actually reckon that on the day, having the troops 100-150 yards behind the tanks probably saved more men from becoming casualties, considering the fact that on this portion of the front many of the tanks were destroyed due to accurate gunfire - fire magnets as such! The Germans by all accounts knew the British were coming...how could they not know?

Many eminent authors made mistakes in details. In the 8th Scottish Rifles history, the CO of the Battalion makes one author make a public apology in many national newspapers, as a result of which further copies of the book were issued with a an inserted amendment, about the Battalion’s performance at Gully Ravine.

Hope the diary extract is of use, looks like some manuscript amendments to Fuller's book are in order ;)

Aye

Tom McC

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