WAR DIARY of AA Laporte Payne 1 March 1917

WAR DIARY of AA Laporte Payne 1 March 1917

 

Extracted from

 

Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda

Correspondence

—————–

R.P. March 1, 1917.

We are having another move. The day before yesterday I was working in the office doing Adjutant’s work from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. the next morning without a break.

I see that there is an account of our raid in the “Times” of 28th February.  It was quite a good raid, and I spent many hours working our part of the scheme out for the batteries.

 

We are now billeted in a huge empty house, but it is dry at any rate. I do not suppose we shall be long here.

 

9TH Canadian Artillery Brigade Operation Order No 52

Ref: Boyeffels 36.b S.E.2. 1/10,000 Hazebrouck 5.a. 1/100,000

 

9TH Canadian Artillery Brigade Operation Order No 52

By

Lieut. Col. H.G. Carscallen Comdg.

 

26.2.17

 

  1. The 9th Canadian Artillery Brigade will march from present wagon lines to old rest billets at Amettes on the morning of the 27th inst.

 

  1. The starting point will be road junction in Hersin, Q.5.b.8.0. The head of the column will pass the starting point at 0.00 a.m.

 

  1. Order of March:-

Brigade Hdqrs.

33rd Battery

36th Battery

32nd Battery

45th Battery

  1. Route:- Hersin – Barlin – Houdain – Divion – Ferfay.

 

  1. On arriving at Amettes batteries will move independently to their wagon lines.

 

  1. Advanced parties of one officer and one N.C.O. and One horseholder from each battery will proceed in advance to arrange billets.

 

  1. The pace of the march is to be slow with frequent halts. Detachments (drivers & gunners) are to walk the greater part of the way.

 

  1. The unexpended portion of the days rations and forage and one days rations and forage will be carried.

 

  1. The batteries will march with full echelons – 75% shrapnel 25% H.E.

 

 

Lieut. Col

Comdg 9th Brigade C.F.A.

 

9th Canadian Artillery Brigade Operation Order No 51

9th Canadian Artillery Brigade  Operation Order No 51

By

Lieut. Col. H.G. Carscallen Comdg

 

19.2.17

 

  1. Under instructions from Canadian Corps the 9th Brigade C.F.A. has been placed at the disposal of the 1st C.D.A. to take part in a minor operation.
  2. The Brigade will march at 7.30 a.m. tomorrow, the 20th instant to the 1st C.D.A. area.
  1. Route:- Amettes-
  1. Cauchy-a-la-Tour
  2. Divion-Houdain
  3. Barlin
  4. The order of march will be,

Brigade Headqtrs.

32nd Battery

33rd Battery

45th Battery

36th Battery

Starting point as given verbally.

 

  1. Wagon lines Barlin will be selected by 1st C.D.A.

 

  1. Advanced parties consisting of one officer, one N.C.O. and horseholder per battery, and one officer from Bde Hdqrs Barlin will report at 10.00 a.m. on the 20th inst at Hdqrs 1st C.D.A. and will be shown the wagon lines. These parties will meet the Brigade at Barlin and guide the units to their wagon lines.

 

  1. The batteries will march with full echelon, Ammunition to complete establishment will be issued by the D.A.C. as the brigade passes through Calonne Ricquart.

 

  1. The batteries will march with the unexpended portion of the days rations and one days rations.

 

  1. The 1st C.D.A. have been asked to arrange for the issue of forage on the 21st inst in the 1st C.D.A. area.

 

  1. Lines and billets at present occupied must be left in an absolutely clean condition.

 

 

  1. Before moving into action Battery Commanders will ensure that all ranks have gas helmets, steel helmets, indentify discs, field dressings.

 

Lieut.

for O.C. 9th Brigade C.F.A.

9TH CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE Operation Order No 50

SECRET

Ref: Roclincourt 1/10,000

 

9TH CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE  Operation Order No 50

By

Lieut. Col. H.G. Carscallen Commanding

 

15.2.17

 

  1. In accordance with instructions from R.A., Canadian Corps, systematic night bombardment of roads, communications trenches and billets in rear of the enemy’s lines will be carried out, with the object of harassing the enemy, preventing his getting up rations, ammunition, or material, and generally wearing down his morale.

 

  1. Commencing on the night of 15/16th instant all objectives detailed below will be fired on nightly by the batteries.

33rd Battery           Sachsen weg and Bereitschaft Stellung

32nd Battery           Albrecht Avenue

36th Battery           Sunken Road, A.18.a.1.6 to A.12.c.35.70.

Ammunition Allowance (each night)

32nd Battery           A.        10 rounds

AX      56 rounds

33rd Battery           A.        10 rounds

AX      56 rounds

36th Battery                        BX      68 rounds

 

  1. Targets will be fired on at irregular intervals with occasional bursts of fire.

 

  1. Reports on targets fired on and enemy retaliation, if any, to be sent in to Group Headqtrs. by an orderly each day, not later than 5.a.m.

 

 

 

 

Lieut. Col

Comdg CARSCALLEN’S GROUP

 

9TH CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE Operation Order No 49

SECRET

Ref:

Lens 1/1,000,000

Hazebrouck 1/100/000

 

9TH CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE Operation Order No 49

By

Lieut. Col. H.G. Carscallen Comdg

 

9.2.17

Relief.             1. The 9th Canadian Artillery Brigade will be relieved in the line on the nights of 15/16th and 16/17th February, by the 5th Brigade, C.F.A. (Lieut. Col. R.H. Britton.)

One section of each battery will be relieved on the first night and the remaining section on the second night.

 

Each section on being relieved will march direct to its wagon line.

Guns.               2. Guns will not be handed over.  Aiming posts of batteries that are being relieved will not be removed, and aiming posts to replace those left in position will be taken over from relieving batteries.

 

Ammunition.   3. All ammunition at gun positions will be handed over to relieving units at 12 noon on the 16th inst and receipts taken.

 

Communications.

  1. All laid telephone wires will be left intact and handed over to relieving units and receipts taken.

The following will also be handed over receipts taken:-

Artillery boards, secret maps, air photographs, diagrams of communications, defence schemes, trench stores.

 

Advanced parties.

  1. One officer with telephonist per battery of the 5th Brigade C.F.A. will arrive on the 14th inst Battery Commanders of relieving batteries will arrive on the 15th inst.

 

Sanitation.       6. All gun positions and dugouts are to be handed over in a thoroughly clean and sanitary condition.

 

Reports.           7. Reports will be made to Brigade Headquarters each night on completion of reliefs.

 

Lieut. Col

Comdg CARSCALLEN’S GROUP

WAR DIARY 9th CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE Feb 1917

CONFIDENTIAL

 

WAR DIARY 9th CANADIAN ARTILLERY BRIGADE

 

For the Month of FEBRUARY 1917

PLACE – G.9.b.2.8.

1.2.17.       9 p.m.        Visibility fair.  In the early morning there was considerably hostile T.M. shooting occurred.  Our T.Ms retaliated vigorously and quickly neutralized enemy’s fire.  At 3 p.m. this afternoon 6 hostile planes attacked two of our machines over the German lines.  One of our planes was disabled and forced to land in NO MAN’S LAND.

 

2.2.17.                         Visibility poor.  Very quiet day on both sides.

 

3.2.17.                         Visibility fair.  Enemy T.Ms quite active.

 

Our 4.5s Howitzer Battery bombarded several sensitive points in enemy’s lines with good effect.

 

4.2.17.                         Visibility good.  Our 18-pdr batteries fired upon and dispersed several working parties.

 

5.2.17.                         Visibility poor.  In the early forenoon enemy shelled our front line and supports with 77 mm and 4.1s.  Our batteries vigorously retaliated.

 

6.2.17.                         Visibility poor.  At noon today a hostile machine crossed our lines and succeeded in reaching ARRAS.  At that point he was engaged by our A.A. guns and driven off.

 

7.2.17.                         Visibility poor.  Both our own and enemy planes quite active.  For about an hour this morning our T.Ms actively bombarded enemy’s front line.

 

8.2.17.                         Visibility fair.  Both sides were normal today.

 

9.2.17.                         Visibility fair.  Our T.Ms intermittently shelled German lines throughout the day.  At 12.30 p.m. a small balloon drifted over from enemy’s lines.

10.2.17.                       Our planes were quite active throughout the day.  Our 33rd Battery blew up a heavily timbered dugout in one of the enemy’s craters.  It was reported that this was used as a Bombing Post.

 

11.2.17.                       Visibility fair.  One of our 18-pdr batteries engaged an advanced enemy Bombing Post obtaining a number of hits, two of which caused a large explosions.

 

12.2.17.                       Visibility poor.  Our medium T.Ms carried out a heavy bombardment of the enemy’s lines during the greater part of the day.  Early in the forenoon the enemy lightly shelled the left of our zone but immediately stopped upon our retaliating.

 

13.2.17.                       Visibility poor.  Both enemy and ourselves were unusually quiet on our zone.

 

14.2.17.                       Visibility good.  Our Medium T.Ms fired upon and set fire to a dugout in enemy front line.  Enemy aircraft has been quite active.

 

15.2.17.                       Operation Order No 50 was issued today.  This calls for systematic night bombardment of roads Communication Trenches etc in rear of the enemy’s lines with the object of wearing down his morale.  This will be commenced tonight and carried on until further orders.  An allotment of 76 rounds per 18-pdr battery and 68 rounds per 4.5 Howitzer battery has been made for this task.

In compliance with O. O. No 49 issued on 9th inst. a section of each of our batteries was relieved by a section from each battery of the 5th Brigade C.F.A.  The sections which have been relieved marched back to wagon lines at CAMBLAIN L’ABBE.

 

16.2.17.                       The relief of the 9th Brigade C.F.A. by the 5th Brigade C.F.A. was completed tonight.  In accordance with orders received from 3rd C.D.A. the Brigade moved tonight from present wagon lines to new billets at AMETTES.

 

17.2.17.                       Brigade in rest.  Syllabus of training carried on.

 

18.2.17.                                   do                                do

 

19.2.17.                                   do                                do

Operation Order No 51 issued today which calls for the 9th Brigade C.F.A. to be placed at the disposal of 1st C.D.A. to take part in a minor operation.

The Brigade will move off at 7.30 a.m. tomorrow.

20.2.17.                       The Brigade moved today from AMETTES to SAINS-EN-GOHELLE.  We arrived late in the afternoon and immediately went into the wagon lines.

 

21.2.17.                       Instructions received from Commander of North Centre Group, 1st C.D.A. for batteries to come in position this afternoon.  Brigade and Battery Commanders went forward this morning to make a reconnaissance of the new position.  All batteries were in position by dusk this evening.

 

22.2.17.                       Weather very foggy.  As a result we were unable to calibrate our guns but battery commanders visited their various O.Ps and studied the enemy’s lines as well as could be done under the circumstances.

 

23.2.17.                       Visibility fair.  Our batteries calibrated guns and registered as many points as it was possible.

 

24.2.17.                       Our 18-pdr batteries were engaged all day on wire cutting tasks.  Our 36th Howitzer Battery fired in the neighbourhood of 400 rounds at various strong points in enemy’s lines causing great damage to trenches and material.

 

25.2.17.                       Wire cutting continued.  Our 18-pdr batteries continued on wire cutting tasks with good results.

 

26.2.17.                       In the morning wire cutting was continued with 18-pdr batteries.  At noon orders were received to vacate gun positions at 4.00 p.m.  All batteries were back in wagon lines by 6.00 p.m. tonight.  O.O. No 52 issued ordering move of brigade from present wagon lines to old billets at AMETTES tomorrow morning.

 

27.2.17.                       Route March from SAINS-EN-GOHELLE to AMETTES.  The Brigade arrived at the latter point at 4.30 p.m.

 

28.2.17.                       3rd C.D.A. notified us today that an inspection of the Brigade would be made on March 3rd.  Batteries immediately started to prepare for this.

WAR DIARY Of 2/6th Sherwood Foresters Feb 1917

WAR DIARY Of 2/6th Sherwood Foresters

 

From February 1917 – To April 1917

 

 

Place       Date    Hour                                                Summary of Events and Information

 

No 6 CAMP HURDCOTT

25/2/17               Bn marches out of Camp.

26/2/17 FOVANT                  Bn entrains and proceeds to FOLKESTONE.

Crosses from FOLKESTONE to BOULOGNE.  Spends night in ST MARTIN Camp.

28/2/17 BOULOGNE            Entrain at BOULOGNE & proceeds to SALEUX (pres d’AMIENS) detraining there & marching to PONT DE METZ.  Night spent in Billets.

1/3/17 PONT DE METZ        Bn marches via AMIENS to GLISY.  Night spent in billets.

9.30 p.m    Bn marches via AMIENS to GLISY.  Night spent in billets.

2/3/17 GLISY                         Bn marches via VILLERS-BRETENNEAUX to WARFUSEE-ABNACOURT.  In billets.

8.30 am     Bn marches via VILLIERS-BRETONNEAUX to WARFUSEE-ABANCOURT.

3/3/17 WARFUSEE-ABANCOURT.           Bn. in Billets.

2.3.17 to 9.3.17                       In billets.

9.3.17                 12.30 pm     Bn marches to FOUCAUCORT.

FOUCAUCOURT

9.3.17 to 15.3.17             Bn in billets.

15.3.17                            4 Platoons attached for instruction to 5th Bn Leicester Regt.

16.3.17         7.15 pm.     Bn marches to BERNY. N.32.d.8.2 (Map Sheet 62C S.W.) and is attached to 176th Infy Bde, and takes up position in reserve line.

BERNY   16.3.17 to 19.3.17 In reserve line at BERNY.

19.3.17 9.0 am.      Bn marches to CIZANCOURT via MAZANCOURT and MISERY.

19.3.17 3.0 pm.     Two Companies cross river SOMME and take up positions in Notre Dame Trench (Map Sheet 62C S.W.) U.16.c.4.9. to U.16.a.3.9 and Sauterelle Alley U.15.d.2.3 to U.16.c.4.9.

CIZANCOURT 20.3.17 6.0 pm.        One Company moves to Outpost position in FOURQUES as support to Cavalry.

22.3.17 9.0 am.  Outpost Company withdrawn.  Bn marches via VILLIERS-CARBONNEL to P.C. NANCY on ESTREES-VILLIERS-CARBONNEL Road.

P.C. NANCY 26.3.17 1.0 pm.           Bn marches to BRIE and occupies Bridgehead defences.  Bn. H.Q. at O.28.c.9.5.2.5 (Map Sheet 62C S.W.)

BRIE   27.3.17  2.0 pm.         Bn marches to VRAIGNES.  Bn. H.Q. at Q.19.b.7.3.5.

VRAIGNES 28.3.17 7.0 pm. Two Companies take up outpost position and dig in on line covering Q.4.a.6.1., K.33.d.5.1., Q.22.b.6.9.

29.3.17 7.0 pm. Two Companies out digging support trenches on line to posts at Q22.b.9.9 and Q.17.c.4.5.

VRAIGNES 31.3.17 2.30 am.          Battn left for BERNES and occupied Quarry at Q.4.a.4.2.

BERNES         31/3/17 2.0 pm.          Battn launched attack from ridge Q.4 central and attacked in waves, came under heavy hostile shell fire but carried village of VENDLELLES successfully.  Line pushed forward, and captured JEANCOURT.  10 Prisoners captured.  Battn then took up position from R.1.c.8.5. to R.1.d.2.5.

VENDELLES 1.4.17 11.30 pm.        Two Coys with Battn H.Q. were relieved and returned to BERNES.  Remaining two Coys went in support to 2/8th Bn. Sherwood Foresters in trenches R.1.d.2.5 to R.1.d.9.1, but rejoined Battn at BERNES at 12.0 noon 2.4.17.

BERNES         3.4.17 7.30 am.           A and B Coys went in support of 2/5th Sherwood Foresters to VENDELLES returning at 11.0 pm same date.

BERNES         4.4.17 8.0 pm C and D Coys went to VENDELLES and dug posts along line from L.27.c.2.2. to L.33.b.2.1. returning at 1.0 am 5.5.17.

BERNES         6.4.17 9.0 pm Battalion marched to R.9.b.4.5. in support of 2/8th Sherwood Foresters who attacked enemy positions S.E. of LE VERCUIER.

HANCOURT  7.4.17 3.30 am           Battn withdrawn to HANCOURT into rest billets.

HANCOURT 16.4.17 2.30 pm         Inspection of Battn by Maj. Gen. C.F. Romer C.B. C.M.G. Comdg 59th Division.

HANCOURT   17.4.17 12.30 pm      Brig Gen F.W. Stansfield Comdg 178th Infantry Brigade presented Meritorious Service Cards to  Sgt W. Smith, Pte A. King and Pte Rillyald.

HANCOURT   19.4.17 2.0 pm         Battn marched to L.3.c.7.8. and took over the front line from 2/5th Lincolnshire Regt.

ROISEL           22.4.17  9.0 pm         Battn was relieved by 2/7th Sherwood Foresters and marched back to ROISEL in reserve.

ROISEL             27.4.17 1.0 am         Battn marched to HARGICOURT ROAD from L.11.b.0.5 to L.11.b.5.0. to deploy prior to an attack on QUARRIES and COLOGNE FARM (L.6.c.4.6.)

The attack was launched at 3.55 am and the QUARRIES were successfully captured and a line was consolidated EAST of the QUARRIES from L.5.d.9.5. to L.11.b.9.9. Seven prisoners and 1 Machine Gun were captured.

 

 

March 1917

March 1917

The Western Front

 

During the Battle of the Somme, Bapaume was occupied by the Germans until the 17th March 1917 when the British captured the city. The Germans had occupied Bapaume since trench warfare had commenced and it was such a strategic objective that the Germans re-captured the city on the 24th March 1917, where they remained until August 1918.

On the 18th March 1917, the Germans evacuated Peronne, Chaulness, Nesle and Noyon, and retired 85 miles to the Hindenburg Line. The British referred to this operation as a German retreat, but it was a strategic withdrawal which allowed the Germans to shorten their line by approximately 25 miles. The British were unaware of the building of the Hindenburg Line with its prepared defences which allowed the Germans to defend their line with far fewer divisions which could be deployed elsewhere. The planned British offensive for the spring of 1917 was seriously disrupted.

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Various Fronts

 

The 1st March 1917 headlines in the USA broke the news of the Zimmerman telegram. In this telegram Arthur Zimmerman, the German Foreign Secretary had asked his Ambassador to Mexico to propose a German-Mexican alliance in the event of war between Germany and the USA. The telegram had been intercepted by British Intelligence and stated that Germany would offer financial aid to Mexico should the two countries become involved in military conflict. If victorious Germany promised to restore the lost territories of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona to Mexico. President Woodrow Wilson’s request for the vessels to be armed after Germany had begun unrestricted submarine warfare on 1st February 1917 had been delayed. On the 12th March 1917 the United States Senate announced that all merchant vessels in the war zone would be armed and the re-arming began later in the month of March 1917.

On the 1st March 1917, HMHS “Glenart” (His Majesty’s Hospital Ship) struck a mine between Le Havre and Southampton in the English Channel. She was damaged but all the crew and casualties were transferred to destroyers, tugs and trawlers. Weather conditions were ideal and the ship was towed into Portsmouth.

On the 8th March 1917, German Count Ferdinand Adolph August Heinrich von Zeppelin died aged 79 years. He was the inventor and manufacturer of large dirigible balloons consisting of cells filled with hydrogen inside a long cylindrical covered framework. The balloon was driven by engines mounted to the outside. The first airship flew in July 1900 covering a distance of 3.75 miles. During the Great War the Zeppelin Foundation produced airships capable of bombing Britain and France. However, the Zeppelins were vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire and destruction from improved Allied aircraft. By late 1917 Zeppelin airships were more or less discontinued as the Allied aircraft were consistently able to destroy them. Count von Zeppelin died on the 8th March 1917.

HMS”Achilles”, a warrior-class cruiser, was patrolling north of the Shetland Islands on 16th March 1917. Accompanied by the armed boarding steamer SS “Dundee” they encountered RMS “Leopold”, a German disguised auxiliary cruiser. When ordered, “Leopold” stopped but positioned herself to prevent “Dundee” from boarding. “Leopold” fired two torpedoes but missed both British ships and “Dundee” retaliated by raking “Leopold’s” stern and badly damaging her. “Achilles” immediately open fired on “Leopold” which sank with all hands an hour later.

French Prime Minister Aristide Briant resigned on the 17th March 1917. As well as being Prime Minister he also held the title of Minister for Foreign affairs. He had been Prime Minister since 20th October 1915 and it was his second term in office. Briand resigned from office as a direct result of disagreements over the proposed Nivelle Offensive. He was succeeded as Prime Minister by Alexandre Ribot who was appointed Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign affairs on 20th March 1917. Ribot was 75 years old and he had been Prime Minister on three previous occasions, but his fourth ministry was to last only until September 1917 following the failure of the Nivelle Offensive and the subsequent mutiny of the French soldiers.

On the 17th March 1917, the British hospital ship HMHS “Asturias” had finished unloading her front line wounded men. En-route from Avonmouth to Southampton she was torpedoed by the German U-boat UC-66. The damage was so extensive that she had to beach herself near Bolt Head. Had she gone down with a full complement of wounded the losses would have been greater than the thirty-one killed and a further twelve missing. She was salvaged and for two years became a floating ammunition hulk at Plymouth.

On the 17th March 1917, Louis Hubert Gonzalve Lyautey resigned as France’s Minister of War after a disagreement in the Parliamentary Chamber and was replaced by Paul Painlevé on 20th March 1917. Lyautey was a French Army general who had commanded forces in Indochina, Madagascar and Morocco. He was appointed Minister of War in early 1917 but his unpopularity and overbearing manner with both French and British politicians/military leaders led to his resignation. Painlevé was to stay Minister of War until his appointment as France’s Prime Minister in September 1917.

Two flotillas of German torpedo boats attacked the Strait of Dover on 18th March 1917. One flotilla attacked Ramsgate, Margate and Broadstairs shelling both the town and shipping in the harbours. The second flotilla attacked the British drifters and destroyers patrolling near Goodwin Sands. While attempting to defend the drifters, destroyers HMS “Paragon” and HMS “Llewellyn” were torpedoed. The Germans withdrew from both attacks with no casualties, but “Paragon” was sunk and “Llewellyn” was damaged.

In the Mediterranean the French battleship “Danton” was torpedoed by the German U-boat U-64 on the 19th March 1917. “Danton”, commanded by Captain Delage, was returning to duty after a refit in Toulon. She was to join the Allied blockade of the Strait of Otranto and she was bound for the Greek island of Corfu. “Danton” sank within 45 minutes after being hit. 806 men were rescued by the destroyer “Massue” but 296, including Captain Delage, went down with the ship.

On the 20th March 1917, the British Imperial War Conference began in London with representatives from the dominions of the British Empire. Recognising the British Empires’ increased contribution to the war effort, Prime Minister David Lloyd George created the British Imperial War Cabinet enabling consultation and co-ordination of military policy between all the dominion governments. The Commonwealth, as it became known, consisted of Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland and India. The conference lasted until 27th April 1917.

The Imperial German merchant raider SMS “Mowe” commanded by Nikolaus zu Dohna-Schlodien was returning from her second raiding voyage disguised as a neutral cargo ship. She left Kiel on 23rd November 1916 and at the end of the four months she had been at sea she had accounted for the destruction of 27 ships. Off the Azores in the Atlantic “Mowe” encountered and fought the New Zealand Shipping Company’s cargo steamer “Otaki” on the 10th March 1917. “Otaki” fought a doomed but gallant fight armed only with a single 120mm stern gun and managed to hit “Mowe” several times. This resulted in a serious fire which was put out with difficulty. However, “Otaki” was severely damaged before sinking and her captain Archibald Bisset-Smith went down with his ship. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, being one of only two VC’s awarded to the Merchant Service during the First World War. “Mowe” had sustained serious damage and had five of crew killed and another ten wounded and was forced on a return course for Germany, arriving home safely on 22nd March 1917. On her return “Mowe” was taken out of service as a raider, not to be risked again as she was reckoned to too valuable as a propaganda tool. She served the remainder of the war firstly as a submarine tender and secondly as an auxiliary minelayer.

On the 30th March 1917, HMS “Gloucester Castle” was torpedoed off the Isle of Wight between Le Havre and Southampton. The torpedo was fired by German U-boat UB-32 commanded by Kapitantleutenant Max Viebeg. “Gloucester Castle” was a steam ship built for the Union Castle Line but was requisitioned for use as a British hospital ship during the Great War. After “Gloucester Castle” was torpedoed the crew and wounded were transferred but three people died during the transfer. She was towed back to port.

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The Balkans

On the 10th March 1917, following her wounding and subsequent release from hospital, Romanian Ecaterina Teodoroiu was decorated for bravery. She was awarded the “Scout Virtue” Medal and the Military Virtue Medal 2nd Class. She was to receive a second decoration and promotion. On the 17th March 1917, King Ferdinand of Romania presented Ecaterina with the Military Virtue Medal 1st Class. She was made honorary Second-Lieutenant (Sublocotenent) and given command of a 25-man platoon in the 7th Company (43/59 Infantry Regiment)

On the Macedonian front, French forces began an offensive on the 11th March 1917 to relieve Monastir from constant Bulgarian artillery bombardment. The city had been captured by the Allies in November 1916 but could not be utilised properly because of Bulgarian artillery activity. The Allied Commander-in-Chief, Frenchman Maurice Sarrail, who planned an attack against the enemy line between lakes Ohrio and Prespa, located west of Monastir. A frontal attack commenced against Hill 1248, which was just north of Monastir in the Pelister Mountain range. Hill 1248 was captured but a successful counter-attack resulted in the partial recapture of the hill, but the summit remained abandoned by both sides. The French attacks against the line between the lakes achieved some success but resistance had been stronger than anticipated and, coupled with extremely bad weather caused the attack to fail on the 23rd March 1917. Monastir was to remain under artillery fire until after the Armistice in 1918.

 

In a letter to Prince Sixte of Bourbon on the 31st March 1917, the Karl I (or Charles I), Emperor of Austria secretly proposed the opening of conversations, with a view to peace, to the President of France.

 

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The Eastern Front

Russia in 1917 had two revolutions which would eventually take Russia out of the war. The first was known as the “February Revolution” (March in the Gregorian calendar) when food shortages forced civilian demonstrators to take to the streets of Petrograd (St. Petersburg) on 8th March 1917.  They were supported by huge crowds of striking industrial workers.  On the 11th March 1917, troops from the Petrograd Garrison were ordered by Tsar Nicholas II to quell the uprising. Despite some troops opening fire on, and killing some demonstrators, the protesters stayed on the streets.  On the same day Nicholas dissolved the Duma (Russian Government) again. The Russian Revolution officially started on the 12th March 1917, when regiment after regiment of the troops sent out to quell the demonstration, defected to the cause of the demonstrators. However, the response of the Duma was to set up a Russian Provisional Government on the 12th March 1917. The Provisional Government was an alliance between the socialists and the liberals. The socialists, consisting of striking workers and their deputies, formed the Petrograd Soviet who wanted political reform. The provisional Government removed Prince Nicholai Golitsin from office as the Russian Premier on 13th March 1917, as was the Russian Minister of War General Mikhail Belyaev. Tsar Nicholas II abdicated on 15th March 1917 on the advice of the remaining Army Chiefs and ministers. The abdication brought an end to the Romanov monarchy. A Provisional Government was set-up on 15th March 1917 with, initially Prince Georgy Yevgenievich Lvov appointed as Russian Premier. Also appointed on 15th March 1917 was Pavel Milyukov as Foreign Minister and General Alexander Guchov as Minister for War.

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The Caucasus and Middle East

In Persia (Modern day Iraq) on the 7th March 1917, the Ottoman commander Khalil Pasha made the decision to defend Baghdad where the Diyala River and the Tigris join, 56 km (35 miles) south of Baghdad. Previously, on the 24th February 1917 the British commander Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Stanley Maude, had re-captured Kut-el-Amara after a long siege and was awaiting instruction from London to proceed to Baghdad which was less than 70km (44 miles) away. On the 5th March 1917 the British began their advance arriving at The Diyala River on the 9th March 1917. The Ottoman forces resisted the initial assault, and Maude attempted to outflank the Ottoman defenders and head directly to Baghdad. Khalil Pasha responded by attempting the same outflanking manoeuvre against the British leaving one regiment to hold the Diyala River. On the 10th March 1917 the British crushed the Diyala defenders and Khalil Pasha was forced to order his army to retreat north to Baghdad. The Ottoman authorities ordered the complete evacuation of Baghdad, which Khalil Pasha carried out. The British followed closely behind and captured Baghdad without a fight on 11th March 1917.

On the 26th March 1917, led by General Sir Charles Dobell the British forces launched an assault against the Ottoman forces in Gaza. In early January 1917 the British had forced the Ottoman forces out of the Sinai Peninsula and were able to consider an assault on Palestine. The Ottoman army was   outnumbered two to one but were waiting in Gaza. With his 36,000 strong army assembled on the coast 8km (5 miles) from Gaza and under cover of dense sea fog Dobell’s cavalry advanced to cut off Gaza in the rear. A central infantry advance was then launched, however, with British victory almost certain, Dobell assessed the infantry advance to be a failure and ordered Sir Philip Chetwode to withdraw his cavalry. The commander of the Ottoman forces in Gaza was German General Friedrich Kress von Kressenstein who hastily re-inforced the town’s permanent garrison. When the British attacked the following day, the 27th March 1917, they were up against strong Ottoman defences. The Ottoman army counter-attacked, and with the combination of the lack of water, Dobell was persuaded to call off the attack. Dobell was sub-ordinate to Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, Sir Archibald Murray. As commander Murray wrote to the War Office in London suggesting the Ottoman forces sustained three times the actual figure of 2,400 losses implying a clear-cut British victory. Although in reality with British casualties of 4,000 men the First Battle of Gaza ended up as a draw.

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THE GREAT WAR – MARCH 1917

 

THE GREAT WAR – MARCH 1917

The Western Front

17th March            Bapaume taken by British forces

18th March            Peronne and Noyon occupied by Allied forces

24th March            Germans re-take Bapaume

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Various Fronts

1st March            Zimmerman telegram published in the USA

12th March            United States Government announced arming all merchant vessels in the war zone

1st March             British hospital ship “Glenart Castle” damaged by mine in the Dover Straits

8th March              Count Zeppelin died

16th March            HMS “Achilles” sank German raider SMS“Leopold”

17th March            Resignation of Aristide Briand French Premier and Minister for Foreign Affairs

17th March            Resignation of Hubert Lyautey, French Minister for War

20th March            Alexandre Ribot succeeds Briand as French President

20th March            Paul Painlevé appointed French Minister for War

18th March            German destroyers raid on Ramsgate and Broadstairs

19th March            French Battleship “Danton” sunk by submarine in the Mediterranean

20th March            First meeting of British Imperil War Conference

21st March            British hospital ship “Asturias” torpedoed off Start Point

22nd March           German raider “Mowe” returns to Kiel from her second raiding voyage

30th March            British hospital ship “Gloucester Castle” torpedoed in the Dover Straits

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Balkans

10th March            Romanian Ecaterina Teodoroiu awarded bravery medals

17th March            Ecaterina Teodoroiu promoted to Second Lieutenant in Romanian army

11th March            Allied offensive in Macedonia to free Monastir begins

23rd March           Allied offensive in Macedonia ends

31st March         The Emperor of Austria makes secret proposals to open peace conversation

Eastern Front

8th March             Strikes and riots broke out in Petrograd (St. Petersburg)

11th March           Troops mutiny in Petrograd

12th March           Russian Revolution begins

12th March           Provisional Government formed in Russia

13th March           Prince Golitson, Russian Premier, removed from office

13th March           General Byelyaev, Russian Minister for War, removed from office

15th March           Nicholas II Tsar of Russia abdicates

15th March           Prince Lvov appointed Russian Premier

15th March           M. Milyukov appointed Russian Foreign Minister

15th March           General Guchkov appointed Russian Minister for War

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The Caucasus and Middle East Campaign

7th March               British arrive at the Diyala River (near Baghdad)

11th March           Baghdad occupied by British forces

26th March            First Battle of Gaza begins

27th March            First Battle of Gaza ends

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