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Aghanistan 2012/13 Blog?


I am serving in the British Army and am due to deploy to Afghanistan on 08 October 2012. My intention was to blog while I was out there but rather than creating a new blog I was just going to use this one as I believe the people who are interested in The Great War would also be interested in a modern conflict. However I realise this might not be to everyone’s taste so please reply and tell me if you would like to see my thoughts and experiences from Afghanistan. I’ll leave it a week or so and act accordingly. Thanks for your thoughts in advance.

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As previously mentioned on this blog;  my Great,Great Uncle,Pte Walter Arbuckle of 1/6th Bn The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders was killed on 23 August 1915 and is buried in Becourt Military Cemetery. I have since contacted the Regimental Museum of The Argylls and they were kind enough to send me extracts from the War Diary of the 1/6th from their time in the La Boisselle/Becourt area. These are produced below with thanks to the Argylls. I am unable to enlarge these images due to their format but should you require copies please contact me via this blog and I shall forward them to you.

War Diary States: 

20th: Battalion at rest. Orders received for Battalion to proceed to Fire Trenches. 

21st: 4pm Battalion paraded in marching order and proceeded to fire trenches via Dernancourt – Moulin De Vivier – Albert – Becourt – La Boiselle. Relieved 5th Gordons about 11pm. 

La Boiselle

22nd: A company and left of B company are situated in advanced trench within twenty yards of German trenches. Hand grenades are used extensively by both sides. Germans fired several aerial torpedoes which landed harmlessly behind our lines. First time the battalion has experienced these many trench mortars. 

23rd: Battalion in fire trenches. Mortar bombardment of A companies trenches. Grenade fighting on the left flank. 

Casualties for August 1915: Killed and died of wounds 7, wounded 25, sick 67, died 1 

Extract from a letter written home by an officer 29th August 1915: We have now done four months solid fighting and have been pretty nearly all over the British line, having taken part in the 2nd battle of Ypres, battle of Festubert on the 16th june when we nearly got so cut up with german machine guns. However these were picnics compared to what we now hold because our trenches are only 15 yards from the germans so practically all the fighting is done ith grenades. By jove they do make a devil of a mess of anybody they hit, it is ten times worse than a rifle bullet. One man was wounded yesterday in 47 places. 

Extract from an officer’s diary: 22nd Sunday, we manned the trenches all night. The line had a peculiar turn and we have germans in front  and on both sides. At one point there are only 15 yards between us. I think this is going to be more lively than the last place. 

23rd to 2nd sept: We have just come out after eleven days in the trenches. We were up against trouble all night and day. The weather was much against us as we were splashing about in 12 inches of mud sometimes.

Detailed Trench Map 1915

Detailed Trench Map 1915

Trench Map August 1915

 

 

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2011 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,500 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Richard Saggerson Guest

On the 29th of April 1918 the Germans were hoping to make the most of their capture of Mount Kemmel. The 2nd South Lancs were ordered to capture a vital position halfway between Kemmel and La Clytte but as they advanced they discovered that supporting units on their flanks had not moved forward. This caused the Lancs to retire to their starting point. The next day they attacked again and once again their prmised support had not arrived. Being raked mercilessly with machine gun fire the Lancs,by now angry and disappointed, were again forced to withdraw. As their regimental history recorded “Needless to say this second relinquishment of an objective twice taken successfully on the same day caused much heart-burning, which was only appeased in some degree by a message from the Divisional Commander which read as follows “GOC Division deepply sympathises with you in your bad luck and thinks you did magnificently. He has arranged that artillery barrage remains 300 yards beyond your objective to enable you to get in your wounded.” The 2nd South Lancashires managed this but unfortunately their dead had to be left behind. Onf of them was 2O year old Richard Guest, now remembered on  Panel 92 & 93 and 162A of the Tyne Cot Memorial.

Unexploded ordnance in Flanders, June 2011

Ernest Henry Fortescue Abbott

Commissioned into the 4th Bn, The Sherwood Foresters in October 1915, Ernest Abbott was attached to the 2nd Bn shortly afterwards. He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions at Ginchy in September 1916. Following a promotion to Lieutenant in July 1917 he was transferred to the 9th Bn and wounded on the 7th of October 1917. He went back to the 2nd Bn after promotion to Captain on 18th April 1918, while they were serving at Ypres. He led a succesful rain on German trenches near Dickebush on the 9th of July 1918. All the occupants of an enemy trench were killed and a machine gun captured but tragically Capt Abbott MC was killed while carrying the machine gun back to British lines. He was never found and his name is commemorated on Panels 99 to 102 and 162 – 162A of the Tyne Cot Memorial.

 

Ernest Gays

Ernie Gays hailed from Leicester and was a member of his local cycling club. It was natural that he should join the Cyclist Corps, and in 1917 on the Ypres Salient this band of fit young men were employed in supply working parties. His close friend Jim Smith takes up the story: ” We were billeted in Spoilbank Tunnels – a terrible place,damp and full of gas. We were up on Hill 60 digging cable trenches for the Royal Engineers and the Jerries were shelling hard. It was only when we got back to base I learnt that Ernie had gone. He was my best pal and I felt very bad about it, but it was worse the next night when the sergeant detailed me to “bury Gays”. In those awful conditions you got very callous, but when its your best pal it really got through to you.” His pals buried Ernie on the edge of the big crater on Hill 60 and drew a sketch of the exact spot but afterwards he could never be found. Ernest Gays is now remembered on Panel 154 of the Tyne Cot Memorial.

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Unexploded shell near Bellewaerde. June 2011

Cyril Joseph Glanville Livesey

In early January 1918 the Middlesex Regt relieved the Royal Irish Rifles to the north of Passchendaele. Cyril Livesey was sent forward to try and locate the German positions but as he was making his way across the muddy wasteland he was shot.

Private W Tabor and Company Sergeant Major J Ayres volunteered to recover Livesy’s body the following night.They did find the body and dragged it through mud,barbed wire and enemy fire until they were only 10 yards from the British lines. However Tabor was suffering from broken ribs sustained through an earlier fall and they were unable to do any more.

Pte Tabor was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and CSM Ayres the Divisional Commander’s Parchment Certificate for their efforts. Unfortunately 23 year old Cyril Joseph Glanville Livesey was never found and his name is now listed on Panel 113 to 115 of The Tyne Cot Memorial.

Peter De Jersey

The Royal Guernsey was originally formed for the defence of the Channel Islands but such were British and Commonwealth losses that even home defence units had to be sent to the front. The Guernsey’s found themselves in the Ypres Salient from January 1918 and while serving with the 29th Division they lost 149. Among them was Peter De Jersey and he is remembered on Panel 161 of The Tyne Cot Memorial.

Archie Stocks

The Yorks and Lancs raided the German trenches in the Judge Cross Roads sector near Polygon Wood on the night of 25th March 1918; they achieved complete surprise and captured 4 Germans and 2 machine guns. Several Germans were killed while the raiding party lost Lt Warburton and 7 men wounded.

It was not until the nest day when the battalion withdrew from the line that it was noticed that Lt Warburton’s servant,Archie Stocks was missing.Not part of the nominal roll for the raiding party he observed it from a nearby shell crater and must have decided that his place was with his officer. He ventured out into No Man’s Land but was never seen again. He is listed on Panels 125 – 128 of The Tyne Cot Memorial.

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On 25th December 1914 the famous Christmas Truce between British and German troops took place near Ploegsteert Wood. They played football,exchanged gifts and for a short while escaped the war.

This scene was not repeated the whole length of the front though. 5 miles away, near Spanbroekmolen, the 3rd Worcesters were holding the line and recorded  that “casual sniping continued as usual throughout the day. One of those killed was Joseph Stanley and his name can be found on Panel 34 of The Menin Gate Memorial.

The Menin Gate Memorial, June 2009

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The Menin Gate Memorial, August 2009.

Michael John William McCann

As his regiment endured the hellish worst of a Flemish winter in positions near Wulverghem, Michael McCann was wounded by a sniper on the 19th of December 1914 and died the next day.

His name is listed on Panel 5 of The Menin Gate Memorial.

Henry William Springett

On the 21st of November 1914 the Germans opened a heavy bombardment on the positions held by 1st DCLI opposite Messines Ridge. Henry Springett, a native of  Bodmin, was hit by sharpnel and died where he lay.

He is commemorated on Panel 20 of The Menin Gate Memorial.

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