8 Company 22 August 1917
 

The Tanks at 3rd Ypres. 22nd August 1917

 

8 Company, C Battalion, with 15th Division, XIX Corps, 5th Army

 

8 Company had 10 fighting tanks and two supply tanks in action on 22nd August 1917 (W23)

 

Company Commander: Maj Carter EJ (W3n)

 

5 Section - Lt D.I. Murrey-Menzies MC 

C28, 595, "Corncrake",  - Attached from 6 section

C29, 725, "Celerity", 2Lt Rollings EJ - Attached from 6 section


C22, 2047, "Curmugeon", 2Lt Hammond EW

C23, 2731, "Cynic", Lt Kann PWG

C24, 2021, "Crusty", 2Lt Saillard P

C25, 2507 , "Curiosity", 2Lt Nicholson HF

C36, 2505, "Centaur", Lt Haywood H - Attached from 8 section

C38, 2506, "Cannibal", 2Lt Wolf EW - Attached from 8 section

 

7 Section - Lt H.W. Johnston

C31, 2045, "Crocodile", 2Lt Franklin CWF

C32, 2728, "Crab", 2Lt Whyte WR

C33, 2046, "Crustacean", 2Lt Robinow W.

C34, 2729, "Caterpillar", 2Lt Raw RJ

 

8 Section - Reserve

C37, ????, Reserve tank

C39, 2059, "Cyclops", Reserve tank

 

Wireless tank

C26, “Censorship” - Possibly.

 

Notes:

Section commanders from War History 

Crew numbers and tank names from the July (Heavy Branch ) tank list in PRO WO 95/106

Crensus numbers from salvage records or those assigned to the tanks so named on the later (Cambrai) tank list in PRO WO 95/106

Tank 2334, C37, “Caliban” was hit by shellfire on 18 July (W3), handed over to salvage on the 20th, and sent to Central Workshops on 8th September (w32). “C” Battalion received nine replacement tanks on 16th and 17th August but all were allocated to 7 and 9 companies. The C37 listed above may be a replacement tank or a tank transferred from 7 or 9 companies (W3). On 20th November crew C37 are crewing tank 8033 “Caliban”; this may be the C37 indicated here but the Census number is high for August.

 

Orders

Deployment positions near old British front line between Wietje and Mill Cott. (H3)

The tanks were to spearhead the attack (OH)

 

5 Section - Northern

Section to start at zero -5 mins and advance past Pommern redoubt. in support of 44th Brigade (OH)

C28 was a supply tank (W23r)

C29 was to be loaded with Sleepers, fascines, etc. and, in conjunction with attached Tunnellers from 184th  Tunnelling Company was to ensure 5 section was able to cross the Steenbeke at C24b.7.3 (W23p) 200yds due east of Apple Villa and thus reach the starting point between the Steenbeke and Pommern castle( H3) C30c.7.4 (W23)

Objectives: Bobby Farm, Vampire, Potsdam, Bremen Redoubt and Zevenkote (H3)

RP: C28.c.9.2

 

7 Section - Southern

Section to advance along Ypres – Zonnebeke Road. (H3) in support of 45th Brigade (OH)

Starting point between near Bavaria House (H3) D19a.0.1 (W23)  

Objectives: via North of Pommern Redoubt to hill 35, Gallipoli, Gallipoli Copse, Deep Drive and thence to D.20 central. (H3)

RP: C29a.4.0

 

Zero hour: 4:45am

 

Account of Operations

5 Section

C24 failed to start as it broke down (H3) Lt Saillard proceeded on foot and helped 2Lt Barnett AG to tape the route; whilst doing so both officers were killed by a shell burst (W23p)(W3n)

 

C29 in company with the 184th Tunnellers helped the remaining five fighting tanks and C28 across Steenbeke by 4am (W23p) and then assisted in unditching (H3) C25 (W3n) and stayed with C28 (W23p)

C28 ditched just the other side of the Steenbeke just behind C25 (W23p)

 

C23, C25 and C36 all ditched and failed to cross the British front line. (W23bg) C36 bellied soon after leaving the start point, whilst the crew were attempting to unditch the tank a shell killed a gunner, mortally wounded 2Lt Heywood and another gunner and wounded two other crewmen. The tank was unditched but then broke down (W3n), presumably at C24b99 from where it was eventually salvaged on the 29 sep 17 (W32) C23 ditched at 5.30 am at D19b.1.4. at this time C22 was visible halted 50 yds in front and C38 was visible just passing right of tank. (W23p) C25 ditched soon after crossing the Steenbeke, was pulled clear by C29 (W3n) and then ditched again broke the unditching gear (W3n) and was abandoned (W23p) south of Pommern Redoubt (W3n) on the further side of Steenbeke at 7.00 am. Sgt Dodds was wounded  (W23p). C23 was unditched at 9am from D19b.1.6. then rallied. (W23p)

 

C22 and C38 crossed the British Front line: C22 Bellied three times near Hill 35 (H3) the third time at 6.10 am position D19a4.4, (probably D19b according to C23’s pigeon message and the map in W23) near Iberian, where the tank was eventually abandoned (W23r) one gunner was killed whilst attempting to unditch the tank which was eventually abandoned (H3) C38 advanced towards Iberian and silenced snipers thus enabling the infantry’s advance. The tank then ditched but covered the infantry’s consolidation and helped beat off a counter attack.(W23) The tank remained in action until 10pm on the 22nd and fired 8000 LG rounds.  (W23bg) Gunner Cushion and Lt Murray – Menzies were both shot and killed whilst attempting to unditch the tank. Lt Murray – Menzies had joined the tank at 6am. (W3n)

 

7 Section

The road in the vicinity of Frezenberg had been entirely obliterated by artillery fire and the tanks were thus unable to follow it, none of the tanks crossed the British front line, all having to be abandoned and left in the field.  (H3)

C32 Bellied twice just after leaving the starting point, it was abandoned (H3) at C30d.0.8 (W23p) as the unditching gear was broken. C31 Proceeded a few hundred yards before it was hit twice (3 times (W23p)) and had its left track broken(H3) at C30d.10.5 (W23p). C34 almost made it to Frezenberg before it (H3) became ditched 200 yds south of C22 at 5:25am (W23p) and then lost a track to a direct hit. C33 made it the furthest before becoming bellied and flooded in a shell crater just beyond Frezenberg (H3) at 5:30am, position C25a.8.0(W23p) or D25a2.5 (W32) 

 

8 Section

C37 and C39 Did not go into action. (map in PRO WO 95 / 104)

 

Wireless tank

The Wireless tank was not used as it broke down prior to the action and failed to reach the start point. (W23)

 

Overall the tank attack was not successful, as almost all the tanks bogged down. The Line was moved forward a few hundred yards. (OH)

 

Summary

intended: 10

At Start: 10

Failed to Start: 1

Engaged enemy: 1

Ditched / Broke Down: 8

Hit and Knocked out:

Rallied: 1

 

Note: Supply tanks not included in summary

 

Aftermath

C28, 595 and C29, 725 both to Salvage on 28 Aug 1917 and salved whole on 10 Oct. (W32) No further records.

 C22, 2047 - to Salvage on 7 Sept 1917. (W32) No further record

C23, 2731 - Probably Photographed ditched in Oosthoek Wood on 11 Sept 1917: IWM Q3546: https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205236079

was in action at Cambrai with crew C23

C24, 2021 - was in action at Cambrai with crew C22

C25, 2507 - to Salvage on 7 Sept 1917. (W32) No further record.

 C36, 2505 - to Salvage on 7 Sept 1917 and salvaged to Reigersburg Chateau on 29 Sep 1917 from C24b99 Sheet 28NE W32 No further record.

C38, 2506 - to Salvage on 28 Aug 1917. (W32) No further record.

C32, C33 - to Salvage on 28 Aug 1917. (W32)

C31, 2045, C32, 2728, C34, 2729 were photographed whilst derelict: X42.p51


C31, photographed whilst derelict:

 

IWM Q 11685:http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205247250

IWM Q 11686: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205249672,  X35.p80, TM 74/G5, X76.p90

IWM Q 6468: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205238407


C34 Photographed derelict:


IWM Q 11689: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205247253


2045 was (supposedly) in action with 1st Tank Battalion in March 1918


C32, 2728, C34, 2729 no further records.


C33, 2046salved whole from D25a25 sheet 28NE. on 3rd Oct. Entrained for Central Workshops on 22 Oct. (W32) No further record.

 

Sources

W23 = 3rd Brigade War Diary. 1917. Appendix 4. Report on Operations 22nd August 1917 (W23)

W23p = 3rd Brigade War Diary. 1917. Appendix 4. Report on Operations 22nd August 1917, Pigeon messages (W23)

W23bg = 3rd Brigade War Diary. 1917. Appendix 4. Report on Operations 22nd August 1917, Battlegraph (W23)

W3 = C / 3rd Tank Battalions War Diary transcript from Bovington tank Museum

W3a = C / 3rd Tank Battalion War Diary in PRO WO 95/106

W3n = C / 3rd Tank Battalion War Diary in PRO WO 95/106

W32 = War diary of 2 Tank field Salvage Company PRO WO 95/96

H3 = C / 3rd Battalion War History. PRO WO 95/104

OH – Official History 1917 Vol 2. p202f

 

Note: In the authors photographs Page 35 of 3rd Tank Battalion War History held in PRO WO 95/104 (H3) is missing. The account in the history appears to be almost word for word the same as that in  the Narrative in the War diary (W32n)



8 & 18 Companies 22 August 1917 - Map


3rd Ypres Narratives - By date

 

3rd Ypres Narratives - By Unit