1821 Info 4b for William henry thomas Caldwell (Will)
His death at Pozieres 25 July 1916

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In Memory of
William Henry Thomas CALDWELL (WHTC)
Private 4161 'B' Coy, 5th Battalion, AIF (15th Reinforcements) who died on Tuesday 25th July 1916.
Age 22.

Son of Thomas and Elizabeth Emily CALDWELL of
Boronia Post Office (Post Office Box), Victoria.
Buried in plot XXII.D.3 Serre Road Cemetery No 2,
Serre-les-Puisieux, Somme, France.

Right: Photograph of 4161 William Henry CALDWELL, 5th Battalion, from Australian Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing Bureau files 1914-1918 war: ref: 1DLR/0428. Possibly a family photograph, circa 1914, submitted by the family.

Source: Family photograph from Neil MASON, great nephew of William Henry CALDWELL

Our Ref: 115970 Date: 6 May 2015
Dear Mr Crompton
Further to my email of 14 April 2015 regarding Private William Henry Caldwell, our Records department have amended the date of death to 25 July 1916 supported by the documents you provided. The date on the headstone will be amended in due course.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
William Henry Caldwell 1915 - 19kB jpg
Cemetery Location:
The village of Serre is 11 kilometres north-north-east of Albert.

Using the D919 from Arras to Amiens you will drive through the villages of Bucquoy, Puisieux then Serre-les-Puisieux (approximately 20 kilometres south of Arras). On leaving Serre-les-Puisieux, 1.3 kilometres further along the D919, Serre Road No.2 Cemetery can be found on the left hand side.

Historical Information:
In the spring of 1917, the battlefields of the Somme and Ancre were cleared by V Corps and a number of new cemeteries were made, three of which are now named from the Serre Road. Serre Road Cemetery No.2 was begun in May 1917 and by the end of the war it contained added in 1922 and Row AA, Plot I which was added in 1927), but it was greatly enlarged after the Armistice by the addition of further graves from the surrounding area
Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Commonwealth War Graves Memorial Logo - kBjpg
5th Bn shoulder patch - kB gif
Above: Le Rouge et Noir shoulder patch of the 5th Battalion
Caldwell at Australian War Memorial nov2015 - 10kB jpg Left: William Henry Caldwell's memorial at the Australian War Memorial. Author November 2015

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Serre Road Cemetery Number 2, photo gallery - 25 April 2018

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The entrance to Serre Road Cemetery Number 2, Serre-les-Puisieux, said to be the prettiest on the Somme.

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The entrance name marker.

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Serre Road's Stone of Remembrance.

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The approach walk to Will Caldwell's grave.

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The Cross of Sacrifice at Serre Road.

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Will's grave, marked by a remembrance card, perhaps located in an area reserved for post war internments.

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Will's headstone with the families chosen words. 'In loving memory of our only son Will. He did his duty'.

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Will's headstone, showing the memorial card.

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Author standing at Will Caldwell's grave. The first relative to visit?

WHTC's Field Service records of his death

Right: Caldwell WH Field Service Record noting the incorrect location of his initial burial as sheet 57D SE X.5.b. His body was found in grid square 5.a. Caldwell WH Field Service Record - 50kB jpg
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Caldwell WH Field Service Record - 50kB jpg Left: Caldwell WH Field Service Record noting his status, date of death and date of the Court of Enquiry
Caldwell WH Exhumation Record - 50kB jpg Left: A composite image of WHTC's exhumation record which locates the exhumation coordinates and the burial in Serre Road Cemetery No 2
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Left: An image of WHTC's reburial record, dated 15 October 1928, which again locates the exhumation coordinates and the burial in Serre Road Cemetery No 2. In addition the record describes the means of identifying the body as a Stylo pen engraved WHC. 1

The handwritten, diagonal script cannot be deciphered.
Caldwell WH Exhumation Record - 49kB jpg
CWGC exhumation and reburial record - 76kB jpg
Above: Commonwealth War Graves Commissions concentration record, showing that three 5th Battalion bodies were exhumed from one location. WHJC was originally only identified as an unknown Australian soldier by his uniform remnants.

Note: 1 In an analysis of the work of the Graves Registration Unit at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Dr Peter Hodgkinson found that 6% of all bodies identified were identified by personal items.

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Finding the dead - Pozieres - 36kBjpg Left: View of scattered Australian graves along the OG1 line on the battlefield of Pozieres. The undergrowth flourished, and softened the appearance of utter desolation which marked the old battleground. 16 September 1917

Source: AWM E00998
Right: An unidentified soldier views the Australian graves along the old OG1 line on the battlefield of Pozieres. All these graves have been marked and recorded by the Graves Registration Section. 16 September 1917

Source: AWM E00999
Finding the dead - Pozieres - 16kBjpg

Australian Red Cross records

Australian Red Cross report on death - 22kB jpg Left: Australian Red Cross report on WHTC's death that confirms his company as 'B' Coy and that death was probably caused by the shell's concussive blast wave.
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Right: An alternative account of the death from Private Haskett that confirms both his company and Reinforcement placement.

Another eye witness account refers to WHTC being killed by a machine gun. If the word shell is to be taken literally there would be no body. In this case, it is possible that 'shell' refers to a machine gun bullet.
Australian Red Cross report on death - 26kB jpg
Australian Red Cross report on finding the body - 29kB jpg Left: Australian Red Cross report on finding the decomposed body in the German wire on 20 August 1916. The Battalion War Diary, for that day, records that 'A' and 'B' Coys. were back in the forward Pozieres trenches. It would be appropriate for a fellow member of 'B' Coy to identify the body.

Source: AWM Red Cross Wounded and Missing files

Hoverbox Photo Gallery - Pozieres before and after the war
This feature does not function correctly on phones and tablets

  1. The first 1st Division memorial 08July 1917 Source: AWM EZ0131
  2. Gibraltar with 1st Division Memorial in the back ground 09 October 1919 Source: AWM E05748
  3. Windmill before the War
  4. Looking toward Pozieres from the top of Gibraltar blockhouse  25 September 1919 Source: AWM E05687
1 2 3 4
  The first 1st Division memorial - 36kB jpg The first 1st Division memorial - 36kB jpg Pozieres Gibraltar and memorial in 1919 - 35kB jpg Pozieres Gibraltar and memorial in 1919 - 35kB jpg Pozieres windmill before the War - 50kB jpg Pozieres windmill before the War - 50kB jpg Pozieres, Gibraltar 1919 - 43kB jpg Pozieres, Gibraltar 1919 - 43kB jpg
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Hoverbox Photo Gallery - Pozieres 25 April 2018 - Author
  1. 1st Division Memorial
  2. The remains of Windmill in 2018
  3. 1st Division Memorial dedication
1 2 3
  1st Division Memorial - 24kB jpg 1st Division Memorial - 24kB jpg The Windmill in 2018 - 32kB jpg The Windmill in 2018 - 32kB jpg 1st Division Memorial dedication - 34kB jpg 1st Division Memorial dedication - 34kB jpg

The historical background to the attack at Pozieres 2

Notes for the battle:

Pozieres is primarily remembered as an Australian battle during the middle stages of the 1916 Battle of the Somme.

General Sir Douglas Haig (British C-in-C) decided to transfer responsibility for Pozieres to the Reserve Army of Lieutenant General Hubert Gough, which had been holding the line north of the road since shortly after the opening of the Somme offensive on 1 July. The attack was postponed until the night of 22?23 July. To Gough's army were attached the three Australian divisions of I Anzac Corps, which had moved from the Armenti?es sector. The Australian 1st Division, including 5thBattalion Bn.), reached Albert on 18 July.

General Gough's plan was to drive a wedge behind east of the German fortress of Thiepval. However, the fortified village of Pozieres was an outpost to the second defensive trench system, which had become known to the British as the Old German (O.G.) Lines.

Early on 22 July the Australian 9th Bn. attempted to improve its position by advancing up the O.G. Lines towards the road but was repulsed. It was also intended that the O.G. Lines would be captured as far as the road, but here the Australians failed, partly due to strong resistance from the German defenders occupying deep dugouts and machine gun nests. In the confusion of a night attack on featureless terrain, in which the weeks of bombardment had reduced the ridge to a field of craters making it virtually impossible to distinguish where a trench line had run. The failure to take the O.G. Lines made the eastern end of Pozieres vulnerable and so the Australians formed a flank short of their objectives.

On 24 July, once Pozieres had been secured, General Gough pushed for immediate moves against the O.G. Lines north and east of the village. The first task was to take the lines up to the Albert?Bapaume road; the original objectives which had not been captured. Attacking in the dark, only the Australian 5thBn. found either of the O.G. trenches and it was counter- attacked by the German 18thReserve Division.

An attack by the British 23rd Division on Munster Alley dragged in the Australian 5th Brigade ? the ensuing bomb fight saw the British and Australian infantry expend over 15,000 grenades. Source: Wikipedia

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German map of Pozieres 02 July 1916 - 115kB jpg
Above: German 1:100,000 map of Pozieres on 02 July 1916 showing the strategic position on the second day of The Somme battle - British trenches in red.

The strategic situation

The Old German Lines trenches were strategically placed northeast of Pozieres and threatened the village?s eastern flank. Pervious attempts to bomb up the O.G. 1 and 2 had failed. General Walker (1st Australian Division) therefore decided on a frontal attack, ?square-on? to the objective, which could be more easily supported by artillery. In preparation, heavy batteries had methodically shelled both O.G. lines before dusk (Bean p.560)


The approach march

[On Sunday 23 July 1916, the 5thBn. moved] into a position of readiness 100 yards south of Bailiff Wood, which lay on the banks of a valley bisected by a sunken road leading from La Boiselle to Contalmasion. Battalion HQ were established in the south-east corner of the wood. From this position the men could see the battered village of Contalmasion, now a mass of untidy ruins, and on the hillside nearby, swollen and blackened corpse, grim relics of the British charge against the village some weeks before.
[In the afternoon a] four hours bombardment of [German] tear shells against which the issued goggles proved quite futile, caused much discomfort and profanity, but did not tend to affect the men?s morale in the way intended.
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5th Bn approach march at Pozieres 24 July 16 - 98kB jpg
  Key to approach map 24 July 16 - 7kB jpg Map 1: The 5thBn's approach march - 24 July 1916 Source: Keown, The National Archives (TNA) WO 297/3840 1:20000 series  
[Between 2100-2130 hours on Monday 24 July 1916 the Battalion with two companies of the 7th] moved forward carrying 200 rounds of ammunition, two empty sandbags and two Mills bombs, in addition to web equipment in ?fighting order? ? ie, minus pack and spare clothing. [They] moved from wood in single file via Black Watch Alley, Walker Avenue and Pozieres trench, then left wheel into No Mans Land, turn right and form four lines. ? [T]here were no land marks or ?hopping out? trench though the Intelligence Officer had laid white tapes to mark the line. ? In the darkness, under these difficulties, accentuated by numerous and unaccountable halts, the men files into position. (Keown p.168/9)

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The planned attack at Pozieres - 25 July 1916

On July 21st the 5thBn. War Diary for July 1916 (Australian War Memorial (AWM) 23/2/17)  gives a battalion strength of 35 Officers 1002 Other Ranks (OR). It records the objective that at:

  1. 0200 on 25 July, the Battalion would attack and capture the Old German line 1 between coordinates X.5.b.2.0 and coordinates X.5.b.9.5.
  2. 0230 the attack would continue to take the Old German line 2 between X,5,b,4.0? and X.5.b.2.5?. The line was to be continued from the Old Light Railway to the NE corner of Pozieres at about X.5.a.3.7 with two companies of 7thBn.
  3. For an explanation of map coordinates, see Using maps on the Western Front 1

At the 12 midnight lead out, the Order of Battle was two lines.

5th Bn attack plans at Pozieres 24 July 16 plans - 96kB jpg
Key to map 24 July 16 at 2000 - kB jpg Map 2: The preparations for the 5th Bn.'s attack on O.G.1 and O.G.2 - 24 July 1916 Source: TNA WO 297/1512
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It was planned that at 02.00am the 5th would advance on a front of 250 yards [229m] between the German Munster Alley Communication Trench (CT) and the old light railway. Two companies of the 7th would attack from the light railway to the Bapaume road. ...
When the front companies had taken and consolidated O.G.1 the rear company, at 02.20am, would advance on and seize O.G.2. Half the 7th Battalion?s bombers would then protect the left flank whilst the bombing platoons of the 5th would be on the right by Munster Alley.
At the same time bombing parties of the 10th Battalion, supporting the 5th?s right, would attack the German strong point, located between the O.G. lines in the region of Munster Alley. This had prevented previous bombing advances up the lines. (Bean p. 560)

The battle narrative of 5th Battalion - leading to the death of William Caldwell

0200, 25 July 1916

The left companies ?A? and ?B? of 7th lost direction and no evidence of them reaching OG1 in the 200 yards frontage north of the railway.
On their way the lead-out company of the 7th found itself behind the 5th. By 02.00 only one platoon of the 7th was in position, the remainder had turn left instead of right and were heading back to Pozieres. (Bean p.559)
5th Bn action at Pozieres 25 July 16 at 0200 - 87kB jpg
Key to map 25 July 16 at 0200 - kB jpg Map 3: The situation at 02.00 hours - 25 July 1916 Source: TNA WO 297/1512
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At 01.58 the heavy covering barrage of shrapnel landed on O.G.1. One minute later the 5th began their advance to be met by machine-gun fire from several directions, including Strong Point A, low on the railway embankment. ?The German artillery presently opened?. In the landscape pockmarked with large shell- craters O.G.1 was so badly damaged that it was indistinct and unrecognisable. This and the time lost finding it, made the order to consolidate O.G.1, before progressing to O.G.2, difficult. [Bean p.561]

It is possible, given the Australian Red Cross casualty report (see later) and the location of the remains (see black dot above and map 7), that WHTC was killed in this German barrage. Another possibility is the Australian barrage at 0225.

First objective, OG1, captured with practically no opposition except Strong Point A situated on railway line. This led to complacency and some rushed on to OG2. When [WHTC 'B' Coy., was] fighting for Strong Point A, OG1 and the area between OG1 and 2 was heavily shelled.
Soon, however, by great luck, small groups did find their objective (a trench called O.G.1), mainly by means of the enemy's fire, although Fritz was now only holding it lightly, and gradually the remainder of the battalion filtered in and the position was held. (Keown p.170)

0230, 25 July 1916

5th Bn action at Pozieres 25 July 16 at 0230 - 87kB jpg
Key to map 25 July 16 at 0230 - kB jpg Map 4: The situation at 02.30 hours - 25 July 1916 Source: TNA WO 297/1512
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At twenty minutes past two the barrage was timed to lift on the second objective, a line between Munster Alley on the right and the railway on the left. [which] had disappeared under the rain of shells. [...] No sign could be descried on either flank of the units supposed to link up, and with this in mind, as well as the necessity of restoring order in the confused ranks, the officer in charge of operations (Captain Lillie) issued orders that the second objectives were not to be attempted. Evidently the order did not reach the left flank, for, some five minutes after the barrage had been lifted from the second objective, the troops on this side commenced moving forward. (Keown p.170)

About 02.25, when the barrage on O.G.2 lifted, platoons from the 5th?s left rushed O.G.2 before the consolidation was complete. The right flank followed moving the whole force forward and O.G.1 manned by a few men. Heavy enemy fire broke out again as the 5th searched for the trench, only identified by abandoned German equipment. At 02.40 O.G.2 was reported captured and the troops began to dig in. However, the 5th had left an unconsolidated trench behind them.

Meanwhile the bombers of the 10th, along with 1/South Wales Borderers and aided by a rapidly firing Stokes mortar, attacked and captured the strong point between O.G.1 and 2 at Munster Alley CT. However, heavy machine-gun fire from a strong point by Pozieres windmill made their positions untenable forcing the Borderers to retire leaving the 10th without support.

At 02.45 troops in O.G.2 saw German flares raising from O.G.1 behind them and near the old light railway. Rifle fire and exploding bombs followed. Bombers, bombs and sandbags reinforced the 40 mopper-ups left behind. At the same time, flares and German helmets were progressing down Munster Alley in a pincher movement.


0515, 25 July 1916

5th Bn action at Pozieres 25 July 16 at 0515 - 87kB jpg
Key to map 25 July 16 at 0515 - 8kB jpg Map 5: The situation at approximately 0515 hours -
25 July 1916 Source: TNA WO 297/1512
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Both objectives were being consolidated when there was a strong enemy counter attack against the right of OG2 and MUNSTER ALLEY. ?B? Coy were involved in a heavy bomb fight against STRONG POINT A where the OC was killed and all other officers wounded.

... [A] fierce counter-attack soon developed. In the light of the German flares, the peculiarly isolated position of the regiment was only too clearly revealed, and for their part the men could see a strong post on the right front some fifty yards ahead, and another behind them and to the left, which had been missed in the advance. The enemy quickly grasped their opportunity, and came from the flank down the trench first taken (O.G.1), now behind the main body of the Fifth, and thinly held by the moppers-up.
Bombing their way down the trench the Germans drove along the few men there, still determinedly bombing back. Lieutenant Fitzgerald, who commanded a bombing party on the right of the advanced line, brought his men to their aid, and a fierce bombing fight ensued in the darkness, lit only by the pallid light of flares or the fearful red flashes of the bombs. The German bombs, with their longer range, compelled our men to retreat slowly, inch by inch, along the narrow trench. For an hour and a half, with fresh men replacing the heavy casualties, [Fitzgerald] encouraged his men to sustained effort until he was killed just before dawn, a very gallant soldier. (Keown p.170)

As Lt. Col Le Maistre (CO) could supply no further reinforcements, orders sent to O.G.2 left them to decide whether to hold O.G.2 or evacuate and retake O.G.1. The majority of men were now isolated in O.G.2, which was was left crowded with the dead and dying as the 5th retreated down the communication trench joining the O.G.2 to O.G.1, where companies of the 5th were still digging unhindered by the enemy. The decision to abandon O.G.2 came as a shock to high command who had no knowledge of the position.

In one of the most desperate bomb fights in the history of the A.I.F. the German?s forced their way down O.G.1 to 40 yards [37m] from the mouth of the CT leading to Munster Alley, cutting off the party of the 10th manning the captured strong point. The 5th were reinforced by those available from the 9th, 10th and the last two companies of the 7th and counter attacked. Holding the trench depended on the supply of bombs continually carried forward by the reinforcements to the barricades and the cross fire of rifles and Lewis Guns from Munster Alley. At this point Bean reports many heroic actions. The German grenadiers were equal to the Australian bombers, but their light, less explosive grenades travel further. (Keown p.171)

In the fight the Battalion bombing team of thirty-six men, who had taken part in the O.G.1 struggle, were all killed or wounded, with but one exception. The position was now desperate, and uncertain, but it was essential that it should be held at all costs. Its seriousness may be gauged from the fact that could the Germans advance down the trench for a hundred and fifty yards they would capture the communication trench, thus cutting off the troops on the right flank. To add to their perils, the supply of bombs depending, as it did, on the reckless bravery of those men who survived the journey across the intervening fire-swept ground became seriously depleted; indeed, between daylight and seven o'clock the number dwindled till a very small reserve was reached. (Keown p.171)

0730, 25 July 1916

Back and forth the fortune of the bombing fight swayed, the Fifth now losing fifty yards of their ground, and now, by grim effort, regaining it. After seven o'clock the supply of bombs, thanks to the Battalion pioneers, became more plentiful. Encouraged by the fact, our men even left the shelter of the trench and from the vantage-point of the open ground above, threw with terrible effect. Till nine o'clock the fight raged furiously, and then slackened, as the Fifth gained the ascendancy. Six hours of nerve-straining give-and-take fighting had won the position for them. (Keown p.173)
At this time, a Stokes trench-mortar came into action from the direction of Battalion Head Quarters, and quickly obtaining the range, dropped shells at the rate of fifteen a minute, some thirty or forty yards in rear of the German bombers. A quarter of an hour later, the enemy retired from this phase of the fight. It was estimated that in this small sector ten thousand British bombs were thrown. The casualties on our side were between four and five hundred, of which the Fifth lost about two hundred. (Keown p.173)
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About 07.30 three platoons of the 7th drove the Germans back almost to the railway and were then forced to retire. Attacking again, with fewer men they held their position until the Pioneers constructed a substantial barricade halfway between the cross trench and the railway. The enemy?s effort was spent and the Australians secured O.G.1 almost to the railway. Later the 5th abandoned this barricade and retreated to the southern barricaded adjacent to Munster Alley leaving a 200 yard [183m] void, which the German say was raked by their machine-guns.

5th Bn action at Pozieres 25 July 16 at 0730 - 86kB jpg
Key to map 25 July 16 at 0730 - 10kB jpg Map 6: The situation at approximately 0730 hours -
25 July 1916 Source: TNA WO 297/1512

The aftermath

During the next two days, a welcome lull in the fighting gave every chance of consolidating the position, and at the expiration of this time, the Fifth were relieved by the Eighteenth Battalion. The exchange was not accomplished without casualties. The trenches, crowded with relievers and relieved, proved an excellent target for the 5.9 shells, which the Boche sent over, and the "coal-boxes," so called from the heavy black smoke of the explosion, made havoc in the brief time of the taking-over. The Fifth's strength was not then much more than three hundred.
The weary Battalion marched back two miles or so to trenches at La Boiselle, and had their well-earned rest interrupted by an intermittent "tear shell" bombardment. From here to Albert they marched again, now so far recovered from the fearful experiences of Pozieres as to be able to raise their voices in singing as they went.
From Albert, through the blackness of the night, only accentuated by the fitful glare of the guns still at work behind them, marched the depleted ranks of the Fifth. Steady rain wet them to the skin,
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the memory of those who now lay on the blood-sodden field of horror so lately left, was still in their minds, yet the French peasant raised himself in bed to listen to these men singing "Three Blind Mice," in chorus parts. (Keown p.173-4)

In the engagement the 5th lost 13 Officers and 458 OR. The OG lines north of the road had not been attacked, a task given to the 12th, leaving the left flank open.

Old German Line 1 October 1916 - 43kB jpg Left: The O.G.1 line looking north towards the Windmill from a point about 200 to 400 yards north of the junction with Pozieres trench. The photograph illustrates how completely the trench was filled up, so that only the muzzles of buried rifles are showing. This section of the trench had evidently been rebuilt at one time, as the sandbags seen in the foreground are on the German side. This may have been the result of the action at 07.30 1 October 1916

Source: AWM E00011

For today's visitors

Salent features of Pozieres battle superimposed on aerial view - 60kB jpg
Map 7: The main battle features superimposed on a modern aerial view
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The salient features of the attack with latitudes and longitudes

a) Jump-off line/boundary/ D929 50.04288 2.73268   g) Start of Munster Alley 50.04287 2.74619
b) Old light rail/start line 50.04109 2.73252   h) Old light railway/ O.G.2  50.04213 2.73823
c) Jump-off line/D73 50.03975  2.73493   i) D929/O.G.2 50.04439 2.73565
d) Pozieres trench/D73 50.03943 2.73725   j) D929/O.G.1 50.04373 2.73442
e) O.G.1/D73 50.03923 2.73864   k)O.G.2/Route de Courcelette 50.04623 2.73384
f) O.G.2/D73 50.03702 2.74405   l) O.G.1/Route de Courcelette 50.04496 2.73304
Windmill 50.04490 2.73613   Strong Point A 50.04184 2.73600
Body Exhumed 50.04121 2.73663     Map reference 57D (SE) X.5.a.99.26
Aerial shot of Pozieres Windmill area - 65kB jpg
Above: Aerial shot of Pozieres Windmill area showing the locations in the photographs above and the landscape shot below, defined by the area between the white lines.
Landscape between OG1 and OG2 looking towards exhumation spot - 40kB jpg
Above: The landscape, from the road, between OG1 and OG2 towards exhumation spot, complicated by perspective.  Author 25 April 2018
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Sources:

grey line

More information 1
 
Return to text1 Using maps on the Western Front

The relevant parts of France and Belgium are divided in large numbered rectangles, each measuring about 20 miles west-to-east by 12.5 miles north-to-south. Each of these corresponds to a 1:40,000-scale map sheet.

Sheets covering France only are given a two-figure number followed by a letter. Examples of 1:40,000 sheet numbers: 57B, 62C, 57D.

Mapping World War 1 - 10kB jpg The shaded areas in the diagram left correspond to the 1:20,000 sheet 28 NE and the 1:10,000 sheet 28 SW 3. Sometimes 'combined sheets' were produced, covering parts of two of the ordinary sheets. Examples include: 36 NW 2 & NE 1, 57D SE 1 & 2. The system of grid references, common to all scales, is used to identify specific locations on printed British military maps.
Mapping World War 1 - 17kB jpg The area covered by each 1:40,000-scale map sheet is divided in large squares, each identified by a capital letter. These large squares are divided into either 30 or 36 smaller squares, each measuring 1000 yards by 1000 yards or 914.4m by 914.4m. The smaller squares are given numbers. The shaded square in the diagram is R 20.
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Return to text Using maps on the Western Front - part 2

Mapping World War 1 - 19kB jpg Each numbered square is further divided into four squares, each measuring 500 yards by 500 yards or 457m by 457m. These small squares are identified by the lower-case letters, a, b, c and d. These letters are not normally marked on the maps. The shaded square in the diagram is R20 b.

Within these small squares, specific points can be identified by numbers. These numbers work by dividing the square into an imaginary 10 by 10 grid. On some of the maps the grid lines are marked out in tenths to make working out grid references easier.

The divisions going horizontally west to east are called 'eastings'. Those going vertically south to north are called 'northings'. The eastings figure is written first, followed by the northings figure. The two may or may not be separated by a dot.
Mapping World War 1 - 21kB jpg The diagram left shows the location (marked 'X') of R 20 b 8.5 on a 1:5,000-scale map, correct to within an area of 50 yards square or 41.81m2 .

Some references are refined further by quoting the easting and northings to two digits - R 20 b 79.54, correct to within an area of 5 yards square or 4.181m 2.
Source: The National Archives (Accessed: 11 May 2015)

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More information 2
 
Return to text The attack at Pozieres

This abstract from Gary Sheffield's book is included because it give information relevant to the overview of the battle. Whilst concentrating on the battle for Pozieres village and not William Henry Thomas Caldwell's battle, it sets a context and especially the context for the artillery, which figured in his death.

The Battle of the Somme began on 1 July, and on 23 July 1st Australian Division attacked the village of Pozieres. This was vital ground. Pozieres was perched on one of the highest points on the ridge on which the German Second Line was located, and sat astride the Roman road that ran from Albert to Bapaume. From Pozieres windmill to the rear of the ruined village the defenders could look north-east to the fortress of Thiepval, a British objective of 1 July that was still firmly in German hands, and east to High Wood, a major wood in the southern sector of the Somme battlefield. Possession of Pozieres would be an important step towards allowing the British to attack Thiepval from the rear, while a relatively small advance in the south would make a considerable part of the German Second Line untenable, at a time when the German Third Line was still under construction. Both sides realised the importance of Pozieres.

1st Australian Division's attack on 23 July was successful. By 25 July the village had fallen and the line had been advanced 1,000 yards. However, the ferocious German bombardment cost the division 5,285 casualties.

Pozieres had been attacked several times by British formations before 23 July. Why did 1st Australian Division's attack succeed, while previous attacks had failed? One study of the battle concludes that the key factor was 'the quality of the troops used in the assault'. 1st Australian Division was fresh, well trained, and experienced (it had served on Gallipoli). There is undoubtedly much in this explanation, but it does not go far enough. Several other factors must also be taken into account.

For the attack on 23 July 1st Australian Division and 48th Division, attacking on its immediate left, were supported by a substantial concentration of artillery. In addition to organic divisional artillery, the assault was supported by the artillery of 25th Division, whose infantry had been pulled out of the line, and 'the bulk of the X Corps medium and heavy guns'. XLV Heavy Artillery Group, consisting of the British 36th and 108th Siege Batteries, and the Australian 55th Siege Battery armed with 9.2- inch howitzers, was 'at the direct call of 1st Australian Division from 21st July'. 1st Australian Division's Operation Order No. 31 of 21 July also mentioned the heavy artillery of Reserve Army assisting the attack. This was a powerful concentration of artillery on a limited front.

The mere possession of large numbers of guns did not guarantee success, but clearly the artillery support for the attack of 23 July was very effective. 'The systematic bombardment' of the village commenced on 19 July at 2.00am, reducing it to rubble. Counter battery fire was good. In his after-action report of 3 August, Major General Harold 'Hooky' Walker, the commander of 1st Australian Division, noted that the heavy artillery 'responded quickly' to requests for aid: 'on each occasion the enemy's fire diminished steadily and the infantry obtained a respite'. As for the attack itself, Walker recorded that 'The barrages were most effective', and praised the 'accurate shooting' of his divisional guns, stating that the infantry had pushed up to within 50 yards of the barrage in the assault. A feint Chinese barrage to the west of Pozieres attempted to deceive the defenders as to the direction of the assault.

[The] earlier attacks had obvious benefits for Walker's men on 23 July. They enjoyed the cumulative effects of the bombardment on the German positions at Pozieres in terms of destruction, and, perhaps more importantly, the gunners supporting the Australians had the benefit of knowing where their targets actually were. [...]
1821info4b, sheet 21
Return to text The attack at Pozieres continued

[...] There was a third advantage enjoyed by Walker's division that was denied to previous attackers of Pozieres. The Australians attacked not on a narrow, one or two divisional front, but, in theory, as part of a simultaneous, broad front attack that stretched from the left of Pozieres across the inter-Army boundary right across to the extreme right flank of Fourth Army. In reality, the six participating divisions attacked at four different times, lessening the impact of a concerted push. However, on the left flank there was a simultaneous assault in the Pozieres area, although it must be admitted that this was more through luck than judgement. The two Reserve Army divisions - 48th and 1st Australian ? attacked at 12.30am. The left hand formation of Fourth Army, the British 1st Division, also attacked at this time to conform to the assault on Pozieres.

Source: Sheffield, Gary, 'Command and Morale', Pen and Sword, Barnsley, 2014 Pages 55, 57, 60, 61

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