Monday, 2 April 2007

Chapter 24: The Somme Feb - March 1917

From 11th Battery, 4th F.A.B. Brief History

26 – 31 Jan Billeted at Rainneville

1 February Left Rainneville, arrived Bavelincourt – billeted

3 & 6 February Left Bavelincourt, arrived La Boisselle

3 February – 18 March Wagon lines at La Boisselle. Guns in action in rear of Martinpuich

Photo of Australian artillery in action near Martinpuich. Feb 1917. [AWM E00238]
Photo of Captain C E W Bean, the Australian Official Correspondent, watching the Australian advance through a telescope 27 Feb 1917.[AWM E00246]

”Left the position on Jany 19th 1917 and remained for six days at Buire-sur-Ancre and then moved to Rainneville where we were joined by part of the 19th battery to form a six gun battery.

Leaving Rainneville on Feb 1st we went to Bavelincourt. The right section left there on the 3rd,and making wagon lines at La Boiselle, the guns went into action in rear of Martinpuich. The remainder of the battery followed on Feb 6th.

While in this position a subgun moved into a forward gun pit on the Sars road and remained there until the other guns moved up to Eaucourt l’Abbaye on Feb 26th. Here we took part in the attack on Loupart (?) Wood and the neighbouring trench system, which being successful, moved forward to La Coupe Goule on March 14th. “

Martinpuich and Le Sars

From Diary of Gunner Kenneth Sydney Day:

2/2/17 Went back into action once more at a place called Martinpuich, not very far to the right of Mouquet Farm, where the Aussies got pretty cut up a little while back. We are firing on a place called Le Sars, at a range of 5,000 yards. Our Battery has what is known as a Tank Gun; it is one of our 18 pounders, but it is put just behind the lines, in case of Tanks (German) attacking us. We sleep all day and work all night. Why this is so, is because we are on top of a rise to get a clear sweep at anything, and you can see the German trenches, so if we started firing in the day time, we would be getting nipped in the bud. The German line extends through Le Sars, Butte de Wattencourt and Beaulencourt on our sector only.

28/2/17 Germans retired back 2,000 yards to straighten out their line, to a place called Grevillers.

29/2/17 Moved our guns between Le Sars and Walencourt. There is one thing we notice, the Germans are very well equipped, every town that they are in, they build deep dug-outs; some go down as far as 40 to 50 feet, but it is very depressing to stay there long; in each of these they have special stoves supplied to them with coal, and a special top to the stove for fitting their mess tins, which I must say, is more then we get. We stayed in this position for a few weeks, having a few wounded every now and then.

Photo of Butte de Walencourt, near Le Sars. 3 March 1917 [AWM E00339]
Photo of A German dugout on the Butte de Warlencourt, near Le Sars [AWM E00340] "...throughout January and February 1917, overlooked the Australian lines. The Butte was daily made a target for our artillery fire, but without any apparent effect. On the German retirement at the end of February our troops advanced to this position across the valley in which lay Le Sars Station, where the earth, churned by shell fire and soaked with rain, had become a quagmire."
Photo of Australian soldiers gathering coal left by German forces on the Bapaume road near the Butte de Warlencourt. 3 March 1917. [AWM E00364]
[insert awm pic 3 march 1917 bapaume road from le sars
Photo of "Australian transport returning along the Bapaume Road for supplies for the troops fighting beyond Bapaume. In the background are Le Sars Railway Station, the Quarry, and the Butte de Warlencourt (centre). " March 1917. [AWM E00432]

No comments: