Welcome to this blog which is intended to accompany a website on how Suffolk was defended during the Second War. The blog will describe my trips out and about looking for the remains of the Second War defences while the Website will concentrate on putting these into context.

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Monday, 5 November 2012

Somme Cemeteries and Views of the Battlefields - Oct 2012, Part 2

A long tramp today, starting off from Pozieres and taking in Courcellette, Regina Trench and Martinpuich. Early on in the walk, we found  a metal tag with the following inscription:
"2688 PTE. S.C.SNELL 43-CAN"
This strip is a temporary grave marker that would have been attached to a wooden cross before the permanent headstones that can be seen today where erected. We found Private Snell, 43rd Canadian Infantry, in Regina Trench. Private Snell died on 8th October 1916 during an attack on Regina Trench. He was just 19 years old. Regina Trench was to the north of Courcellette, running east-west across the area and was the longest single named trench on the Somme.The Canadians were involved in heavy fighting in this area during 8th to 10th October 1916 and again on 21st Oct when  Regina Trench was finally reached in a joint Canadian and British attack. Canadian Official Historian, Col G.W.L. Nicholson, described Regina Trench as follows: " Regina Trench, the capture of which had cost so much blood, was no longer a position of strength. Repeated bombardments had reduced it to a mere depression in the chalk, in many places blown twenty feet wide, and for long stretches almost filled with debris and dead bodies".

Above: Top image shows the metal grave marker of Pte Snell, found in the fields. Second image shows Regina Trench Cemetery. Third image shows Pte Snell's permanent headstone. Bottom image shows another couple of interesting headstones in the cemetery. First Lieut. E Shaw, an American pilot from South Carolina, was attached to RAF and is buried alongside his observer, Sgt Smith; their Bristol Fighter of No 48 Squadron was shot down on 9th July 1918.

Next up was ADANAC Cemetery, and back round to Corcellette where in the village cemetery can be found an original headstone to a German, Company Commander H Mayer, killed at Thiepval in 1914. A rare survivor as the vast majority of German memorials were destroyed.

Above: Top - ADANAC Cemetery. Bottom - headstone to H Mayer.

From Courcellette we headed off across the fields to Martinpuich. Martinpuich was captured on Sept 15th by the 15th Scottish Division, supported by one tank (four were originally allotted but only two turned up of which one broke down; the Divisional History states the tank was not of much use). 

Above: Top two images show Martinpuich Cemetery. Next three show a German concrete bunker, probably used as a headquarters for a unit. Next image shows the 47th (London) Division in the village's main street, erected here in recognition of the Division taking High Wood on Sept 15th 1916. Last three images show British screw pickets still in use nearly 100 years on, although for a much more peaceful purpose!

From here is was back to Pozieres as the light began to fade. The day ended as usual with a few beers and omelette and chips at Le Tommy!

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