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Archive for February, 2009


Taken on 08 Feb 09:

 

Railway Dugouts Burial Ground 08 Feb 09

Railway Dugouts Burial Ground 08 Feb 09

 

 

 

A mass grave for 11 soldiers.

A mass grave for 11 soldiers.

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Taken on 08 Feb 09.

Thiepval Memorial To The Missing,08 Feb 09

Thiepval Memorial To The Missing,08 Feb 09

British/French cemetery and Cross of Scarifice,Thiepval

British/French cemetery and Cross of Scarifice,Thiepval

Within the Thiepval Memorial

Within the Thiepval Memorial

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Norman Gladden recorded the following incident at Jackson’s Dump near Ypres in May 1917:

“Whilst halting at a spot by Jackson’s Dump,a member of the group,to soothe his nerves,lit a cigarette.So great was his desire  – and so obscure his judgement – that he was prepared,in that of all places,to risk not only his own but all our lives.Though the match was shielded in his cupped hands,the flame glowed through his fingers like a beacon in the darkness of the night. A howl of indignation went up,as the file hurriedly moved off.The riposte was not long delayed. An enemy machine gun began to traverse across the track,scattering us like rabbits to the shelter of a ditch,but not before two of our company lay writhing in agony with bullets in the lower parts of their bodies. Needless to say, the thoughtless one was not hurt.”

Pte DD Brown of the 11th Northumberland Fusiliers was one of those wounded.He died the following day and is buried in Railway Dugouts Burial Ground.

 

Pte DD Brown,Railway Dugouts Burial Ground

Pte DD Brown,Railway Dugouts Burial Ground

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By May 1917 the Germans were aware that the British were planning an offensive somewhere in The Ypres Salient but they didnt know where or when.As such they reacted to anything in the British lines which suggested preparation for this offensive and delivered heavy and sudden bombardments.

The Royal West Kents were subjected to such an attack south of Hooge.The front line posts were smashed and the battalion was “forunate to escape with no more than 40 casualties”.

John Lister was one of the 40 and is buried in Railway Dugouts Burial Ground.

 

Sergeant John Lister,Railway Dugouts Burial Ground.

Sergeant John Lister,Railway Dugouts Burial Ground.

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Prior to the Second Battle of Ypres the British had captured Hill 60 in a surprise attack and so on the 5th May 1915 the Germans decided that revenge was necessary. A yellow cloud was spotted blowing towards the British lines at about 8 am. 

The front-line was held by the 2nd Bn The Duke of Wellington’s Regt,to which Capt Robins was attached.Shortly after the ominous cloud was first seen two figures staggered towards the dug-out of the CO of the Dukes.It was an officer and an orderly,the officer said in a gasping and desperate voice “They have gassed the Dukes.I believe I was the last man to leave the hill.The men up there are all dead.They were splendid.I thought I ought to come and report….” The officer,Capt Robins,and the orderly were taken to the aid post at Railway Dugouts where he died later that evening.

The Corps Commander,Lord Cavan,wrote after the war: “Robins was the last man to leave Hill 60.Only those who have served and suffered in this war will appreciate fully what that short sentence means.To me it means absolute self-sacrifice and an undying example.History will not forget those who fought that great fight of 5th May 1915”.

George Upton Robins is buried in Railway Dugouts Burial Ground.

 

Capt George Upton Robins,Railway Dugouts Burial Ground.

Capt George Upton Robins,Railway Dugouts Burial Ground.

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On 22 April 1915 the Germans breached the northern flank of The Salient and all available units were rushed to the area to plug the gap in the Allied line.The first four battalions at the scene were placed under the command of Col Geddes who was the senior officer and collectively known as the Geddes Detachment.

The Detachment were involved in many counter-attacks between St Julien and the Yser Canal which helped stop any further enemy advances and by the 27th the situation had steadied and the Detachment were disbanded.

Col Geddes closed his HQ and prepared to travel back to Potijze on the morning of the 28th. However he realised that he had lost his map and asked Brigadier General Wanless O’Gowan for a loan of his. As O’Gowan went to get it a shell burst killing Geddes and seriously wounding two staff officers.If he had followed O’Gowan,or if he had left without his map and indeed if he hadnt lost it in the first place then Geddes might have been ok.But bad luck decided he would die for want of  a map.War was once again showing the thin dividing line between life and death;particularly in The Ypres Salient.

Augustus David Geddes rests in Ypres Reservoir Cemetery

 

Col Augustus David Geddes,Ypres Reservoir Cemetery

Col Augustus David Geddes,Ypres Reservoir Cemetery

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Muddy field of Flanders.

Muddy field of Flanders.

The above picture is of a field immediately to the front of Tyne Cot Cemetery looking back towards Ypres from the gentle incline atop of which sits Paschendaele. I took this picture as my wife,brother and I tried to imagine the sheer hell of fighting through this and worse conditions for months while under constant artillery and machine-gun fire.

As we walked along the side of the field we found some debris which was lying near the path.I suspect that the farmer may have placed it there after the crop had been harvested as it was in a neat pile.There was rifle clips,an un-expended round,a metal cup and a pipe.There were no shells or casings or any visible signs of explosive.As a mark of respect both to the battlefield and the men who fought there we took several pictures and then left everything as we found it.

Derek with rifle round.

Derek with rifle round.

Various pieces of war debris.

Various pieces of war debris.

Casing of round,probably a pistol round.

Casing of round,probably a pistol round.

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