The Red Line

The Third Battle of Ypres: the Steenbeek and Poelcappelle.

A blog written from the Record book of The 11th (Service) Battalion of The Manchester Regiment. By Jane Williams.

Following the Battle of Messines Ridge, the 11th (Service) Battalion of The Manchester Regiment was stationed at Bleue Maison from June 24 until July 1. The Battalion was ‘occupied in further training’ until it moved to Nortlecourt on the latter date. The Battalion took part in a number of attacks including on the line of the Steenbeek in August. Following further training whilst stationed at Herzelle in September the Battalion moved to Dirty Bucket Camp on October 1 in preparation for ‘going over the top’ in the Poelcappelle area.

The following account is a transcription of this next attack from the Battalion record book held at Archivesplus in Manchester.

‘At 4am on October 2nd “Q” company (11th Manchesters) left Dirty Bucket Camp and marched to Cave Trench in the Poelcappelle area. “R” and “S” companies move to Canal Bank, arriving about 10am. On the night of 2nd – 3rd “R” and “S” companies took over the line from the 32nd Brigade (West Yorks). The line taken over was astride the Peolcappelle St, Julien Road…

 

IMG_0416
Map from the Manchester Regiment Log Book – Ref: MSF 356 M7

During the night of the 3rd the forming-up ground was thoroughly reconnoitred and string was laid with a view to checking by daylight. Forming-up tapes and Marsi discs were put out. There was active patrolling during the night, and a hostile machine-gun located in the valley of the Lekkerbotoerbeek. This was subsequently captured. The whole Battalion formed up on the tapes by 4.40am, ready for the attack. Zero hour was 6am. The Battalion advanced to the opening barrage in perfect order. In some cases, however, individuals got too close to the barrage and were hit. By 6.38am an objective known as the Red Line was captured under the barrage. During this advance very little opposition was encountered, but a considerable number of the enemy were killed, particularly in the forward line of shell-holes…

The advance to the Red Line, however, was hampered to some extent by a good deal of machine gun fire from Poelcappelle. At 8.34am another post, Gloster Farm was carried under the barrage, many of the defenders having been killed by the British trench-mortars… After capturing the Red Line patrols went out, under protective barrage, to clear the ground of enemy. One platoon under Sergeant Coverdale attempted to get through to capture Munier House, but after having several casualties from our own guns was obliged to return.’

The Battalion spent several further days involved in skirmishes in the area with the ‘effectiveness of the Manchesters’ machine-gun and Lewis-gun fire’ keeping the enemy at bay. On the 9 August the Battalion was relieved by the 6th Yorks and Lancs and marched back to Dirty Bucket camp.

Officers killed at Poelcappelle are listed as Stanley William and Stanley William Dyson. Captain Stanley William Dyson was age 22 and is buried in Dozinghem Military Cemetery in Belgium.

 

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