Website designed by Chameleon Design & Print Ltd.

THE WANDERINGS OF 'D' IN FRANCE

This series of articles was published anonymously in the Tank Corps Journal in 1921, and only now has the author been identifed as Edward Glanville Smith.  All 10 episodes are reproduced here.

 

1. March 1921 (page 234)

  • Summary of author’s experiences in the infantry – Loos (September 1915), Hohenzollern Redoubt, Lens, Vimy Ridge, High Wood, Eaucourt l’Abbaye.  He does not name his unit, but Smith served in 17th Bn London Regiment.

  • Volunteered for tanks in November 1916, travelled to Blangy-sur-Ternoise in January 1917 with another officer called “C─”.  This may have been Lieutenant Sydney Ching, as his medal index card shows he was also in 17th Bn London Regiment.

  • Author posted to No. 12 Company under Major R.O.C. Ward.

 

2. April 1921 (pages 265-6)

  • Training and life in camp at Blangy-sur-Ternoise in February and March 1917.

 

3. May 1921 (pages 12-13)

  • Preparations for the first ‘show’ – departure from Erin on March 28, 1917.

  • Companies split up and No. 12 Company moved into position for attack at southern end of Vimy Ridge.

  • Action on April 9 – supported 2nd Canadian Division who took their objectives, but all tanks were ditched and unable to provide support.

  • Greater success was achieved by No. 10 Company in attacks at Arras.

  • Includes photographs of Blangy, and of a group of No. 12 Company officers.  They are not named, but Smith appears in the back row (far right).

 

4. June 1921 (pages 32-3)

  • Attack by No. 11 Company on April 11 resulted in the capture of two tanks by the Germans.

  • No. 12 Company moved south by train to take part in a further attack at Bullecourt.  Description of preparations in camp at Behagnies.

  • Attack on May 3 ended with heavy casualties and “tremendous disappointment”.  Tanks and crews withdrawn following battle.

 

5. July 1921 (pages 56-7)

  • No. 12 Company moved south of Arras to set up camp at Wailly.

  • On May 17, author was sent as instructor to new gunnery school at Merlimont.  Description of training courses and camp life in former seaside resort.

  • Author rejoined battalion on June 27 at Éclimeux-Humières (near Erin).

  • Includes photograph of concert party programme.

 

6. August 1921 (pages 81-2)

  • In July tanks moved to Ypres Salient, D Battalion in camp at La Lovie with tankodrome in nearby Oosthoek Wood.

  • August 22 – first operation by No. 12 Company resulting in heavy losses and small gain in ground.

  • Includes photograph of four officers from No. 12 Company; sketch map showing area attacked on August 22.

 

7. September 1921 (pages 109-10)

  • Fate of Tank Corps was hanging in balance as struggle continued in Ypres Salient.

  • No. 12 Company sent to Erin to refit with new tanks while crews rested at La Lovie camp and sought relaxation in Poperinghe.

  • Further attack on September 20 resulted in light casualties but demonstrated inability of tanks to operate in boggy conditions.

  • Includes sketch map showing area attacked on September 20.

 

8. October 1921 (page 132)

  • September 22 to October 3 – author on leave in England.

  • On October 4 a successful attack was mounted on Poelcapelle by No. 10 Company, followed by an equally unsuccessful one by No. 11 Company on October 9.

  • With future of Tank Corps still in balance, D Battalion pulled out of Ypres Salient by train on October 30 and moved back to France.

 

9. November 1921 (pages 170-2)

  • Move to Wailly for intensive training with 51st (Highland) Division in preparation for secret operation.

  • Huge bundles called ‘fascines’ loaded onto tanks enabling them to cross wide trenches.

  • Description of further moves by rail, followed by overnight crawl into hiding places in Havrincourt Wood ready for surprise attack on Cambrai.

  • November 20 – description of attack on Hindenburg Line and destruction of tanks while attempting to take the village of Flesquières.

 

10. December 1921 (page 203)

  • On November 23 a further attack on Bourlon resulted in heavy casualties, after which D Battalion withdrew to Havrincourt Wood.

  • November 30 – tanks rushed into action to meet surprise German counter-attack.

  • After this, D Battalion moved back to Méaulte (near Albert), with some crews sent forward to maintain presence in Cambrai salient until just before Christmas.

 

Some extracts from these articles appeared anonymously in Tanks and Trenches – First Hand Accounts of Tank Warfare in the First World War, edited by David Fletcher (Sutton, Stroud 1994; republished by The History Press, Stroud 2009)

 

SOLVING THE MYSTERY
EARLY LIFE
JOURNEY TO WAR
ARTHUR THOMPSON
WANDERINGS OF 'D' IN FRANCE
AFTER CAMBRAI
LATER LIFE
THE REUNION

1920

EGS DIARY PAGE

WANDERINGS OF 'D' IN FRANCE - ARTICLES

TOMMY PAMPHLET