Tag Archives: Trench Payerne Neuville St Vaast 1916.

2ND APR.1916: ‘3 MINES BLOWN UP – SHOOK US TO & FRO’.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT’S WAR DIARY:

‘A Little Book of Words & Doings’.

NEUVILLE ST VAAST 1916:  ‘3 mines blown up while up in our tour . . .  the one on Sunday April 2nd affected  me more.  Sunny all day.  Had offered Lieut. Wilkinson*(1) & Rowley*(2) a  Major Drapkins corkhoffe? cig at Stand To (3).  When mine went up shook us to and fro. I made for my rifle in support trenches. Burnt . . . carrying in exposed position. (4).

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Canadians at Vimy Ridge using crater as machine gun post.
VIMY RIDGE: Canadians using Bomb Crater as Machine Gun Post.
Revd. Arthur H. Hibbett 1965
Revd. Arthur H. Hibbett.

My Memories of the First World War. The Revd A. H. Hibbett. 1967.

I shall never forget my experience at Neuville St Vaast, . . . when I went with a party underground to listen for the enemy tapping their way in underground passages towards our Front Line.  It (was a) dark night which made it all the more ‘exciting’.  Whose mine would go up first, theirs or ours?  Our feelings were indeed tense. 

Pass the word down for Bomber Ford”, came the command from the officer in front of our column, as we lined up to throw hand grenades over the parapet. “Pass the word back I aint,” retorted Bomber Ford from the rearThe German mine went up first – and we tried to occupy the crater before the enemy advanced to take possession of it.  It is strange to think that I might have thrown one of my sister’s hand grenades at Neuville St Vaast. (5)

www.panaraio.com bomb craters at openair museum Zillebeke. hill 62.68330909
BOMB CRATERS,  Zillebeke Open Air Museum/ Hill 62.<http://www.panaramo.com&gt;

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB.

Researching 1/5th South Staffords and reading this experience of my father at Neuville St Vaast leaves me with nothing but compassion for those who died on both sides and incredulity that anyone could possibly survive such horror.

(1) 2 Lt J.W.H. Wilkinson was wounded. (2) Lt. Arthur J. Rowley: current Censor of Pte Bertie’s Letters.

(3) ‘Stand To’ was at dawndusk everyday/ when all soldiers must stand ready for enemy attack. Pte Bertie normally would have had had his rifle with him but maybe as one of a ‘Bombing Party‘ he was carrying hand grenades to toss into a new crater before rushing forward to claim it.

Greys Major Drapkin Tobacco Cigarette Tin.
Greys Major Drapkin Tobacco Cigarette Tin.

(4) ‘Burnt’: text here is indecipherable/ not clear whether he or his rifle was burnt in ‘exposed position’. Could be ref. perhaps to the wound Lt Wilkinson received?

(5) ‘My Memories’: Neuville St Vaast. This was one of the very few stories of the War my father told me as a child.  Compare Hibbett Letters 20th -31st July 1915 & ref. to 172 Tunnelling Company. R.E. See also website ‘The Long Long Trail’. The Tunnelling Companies RE.  Photo: Vimy Ridge Bomb Crater Machine Gun Post.<http://www.pinterest.com&gt;

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South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

TRENCHES 063. 064. 065.

1st Apr. Sat: Very quiet indeed.

2nd Apr. Sun: 6.50 pm.  The Enemy exploded a mine on the south side of B4. This was immediately followed by a second explosion  S.W. of the same crater. The Platoon standing to at the North end of 0. 63 immediately rushed up to where the SW entrance to the crater had been but found this blown up and the bombing post there buried.

The connecting trench W. of the crater to 0.64 had also completely disappeared. The fumes from the crater were stifling2/Lt Knowles, who led the Platoon which reached the crater lip, found it impossible to enter and several men were in a state of collapse, so he lay down with his party and bombed into the crater.  The enemy opened heavy fire with rifle grenades and trench mortars from sap on the right side of the crater, also a machine gun from the direction Point 5.   We then established a bombing post and a Lewis gun on the N. lip of the crater and dug a communication trench round to 0.64, establishing communication with that trench the passage of which is very difficult at present by day.

The platoon Standing To at S end of 064 when the explosion occurred rushed along PAYERNE but found the end of the crater blocked and a heavy fire of trench mortar and rifle grenades directed on this point.  The Y sap in the WINDOW was attacked by grenades but the enemy could make no progress there. This part of the line was much troubled with trench mortars and a machine gun from the direction  of B. 6.  The artillery put up a very effective barrage, after half an hour the rate of fire was reduced and everything was quiet by morning .

La Targette British Cemetery.
LA TARGETTE. BRITISH Cemetery, Neuville St Vaast.

1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS CASUALTIES:

OFFICERS KILLEDLt A. A. Smith. (Author of War Diary Appendix 4. March 25th).  WOUNDED2/Lt J. W.H. Wilkinson.

OTHER RANKS KILLED: 9871 Pte l. Medlicott; 976 Pte J. Wooldridge; 886 Pte J. Mc.Neil9004 Cpl J. T. Knight; 95 Pte J. Dawes.  MISSING – BELIEVED KILLED:-  9006 L/ Cpl B. Hopley; 9013 Pte W. H.Turner; 1180 Pte J. H. Bird; 9048 Pte A. J. Belcher; 9702 Pte L. Smith8478 Pte H. Ball.

OTHER RANKS WOUNDED:- 8016 A(cting) C. S.M. Burton L.F.; 6443 Sgt. J. Williams; 8833  Sgt W.H. Perry; 9248 L/Cpl J. Wentworth; 7820 L/Cpl F. Fisher; 742 Pte  R.G. Collier; 926 Pte C. Hathaway; 8187 Pte T. Rotton; 615 Pte E. Wilkins; 819 Pte F. Bishop; 941 Pte  T. Homer; 428 Pte B. Brooke. 819 Pte W.H. Thompson; 9031 Pte A. Holmes.

SLIGHTLY WOUNDED remained at duty:- 982 Pte J. Powell.

German cemetery, neuville St Vaast.
WW1 GERMAN CEMETERY Neuville St . Vaast. <http://www.alamy.com&gt;

NEXT POST: 9th APR. 1916.

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31ST MAR.1916: GERMAN BOMBARDMENT & CRATER WARFARE.

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

NEUVILLE ST VAAST TRENCHES  063, 064, 065.     

31st Mar. Fri: Very quiet day.

SUMMARY of CASUALTIES in MARCH: OFFICERS KILLED – Nil. WOUNDED – 1.     OTHER RANKS KILLED – 1.    WOUNDED – 7.

Signed: H. Lord, Major, Cmdg1/5th South Staffordshire Regt.

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La-Targette French Cemetery, Neuville-Saint-Vaast.<http://www.travelfranceonline.com&gt;

 

MARCH APPENDIX 4.  Report on Bombardment of B.6. on March 25/1916 0.64. (Additional material to 1/5th S Staffords War Diary record, 25th March. 1916. e.f.w.)

At 2.20 p.m. I saw my Company file out of Trench 5 down the B. des ONDES.  I left behind in the fire trench and Trench PAYERNE three double sentry posts and one bomb post (2 men).  In the Company Hd Qr dug-out I left 2 runners, 2 orderlies, one signaller and one officer.  The F.O.O. took up his station at X marked 1 on sketch map, outside the dug-out.  I left a chain of sentries down the B. des ONDES for communication.

The bombardment began at 3.0 pm and the 9.2x fired in all about 15 shells, 4 of which were blind Of the first 9 shells – 2 went into the crater, and 3 were behind our fire trench to the right of the dug-out.  The ninth hit the parapet just to the right of the dug-out entrance and exploded, burying Lieuts Wilkinson and Dawson, a piece of the same shell wounding Pte Simpson S. H. at point X 2 on sketch map – this man was acting as connecting file.  Previous to this the F.O.O.* had phoned that shells were dropping short, but was unable to speak direct to the battery.  (*F.O.O. Forward Observing Officer).

Signed. A. A. Smith Lt O. C. ‘B’ Coy. In the Field 25/3/16  5.25 pm. 

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
Elizabeth Hibbett Webb.

Lt A. A. Smith, Officer Commanding ‘B’ Company 1/5th South Staffordshire Regiment was Killed in Action a few days later on 2nd April, 1916 when 2 German mines were exploded underground. 

The British Army kept the Trench Names B(oulevard) des Ondes’Trench ‘Payerne’ after they took over Neuville St Vaast & the Labyrinth from the French 10th Army in March 1916.

La Targette French Cemetery, Neuville St Vaast (with 42 thousand French WW1 soldiers, buried in strikingly moving patterns) lies next to the British War Cemetery. French Colonial Troops are buried in the Muslim Section where their head stones are turned to face Mecca.

NEXT WAR DIARY REPORT: 2nd Apr. 1916.

NEXT HIBBETT POST9th  Apr. 1916.