Rue de Bois May 1915

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by liverpool annie, May 7, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Because we remember the 9th May 1915 ....... when the Munsters suffered very heavy losses at Aubers Ridge - we also remember the night before ....... !! This painting to me is beautiful and very poignant ! the stories that came from that one painting of the men involved ..... were phenomenal

    Reproduction of part of a painting by Fortunino Matania, entitled “The Last Absolution of The Munsters at Rue de Bois, 1915.” It depicts the blessing of The Royal Munster Fusiliers on the evening of May 8, by their Chaplain, Father Gleeson in front of a ruined shrine with a crucifix

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  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    9 May 1915

    4.06am - sunrise and all very quiet on this front.

    5.00am - British bombardment opens with field guns firing shrapnel at the German wire and howitzers firing High Explosive shells onto front line. German troops are seen peering above their parapet even while this shelling was going on.

    5.30am - British bombardment intensifies, field guns switch to HE and also fire at breastworks. The lead battalions of the two assaulting Brigades of 1st Division go over the top to take up a position only 80 yards from German front. (2nd Brigade has 1/Northants and 2/Royal Sussex in front and 2/KRRC and 1/5th Royal Sussex in immediate support; 3rd Brigade has 2/Royal Munster Fusiliers and 2/Welsh in front, with 1/4th Royal Welsh Fusiliers in support). Heavy machine-gun fire cuts the attackers down even on their own ladders and parapet steps, but men continue to press forward as ordered.

    In the area of the Indian Corps, the lead battalions of the Dehra Dun Brigade of the Meerut Division (2/2nd Ghurkas, 1/4th and 1st Seaforth Highlanders) were so badly hit by enemy fire that no men got beyond their own parapet and the front-line and communications trenches were soon filled with dead and wounded men.

    5.40am - British bombardment lifts off front lines and advances 600 yards; infantry assault begins. Despite the early losses and enemy fire the three Brigades attempted to advance across No Man's Land. They were met by intense crossfire from the German machine-guns, which could not be seen in their ground-level and strongly protected emplacements. Whole lines of men were seen to be hit. Few lanes had been cut in the wire and even where men reached it they were forced to bunch, forming good targets for the enemy gunners. The leading battalions suffered very significant losses, particularly among officers and junior leaders. Around 100 men on the Northants and Munsters got into the German front, but all were killed or captured. The advance of the supporting battalions suffered similarly, and by 6.00am the advance had halted, with hundreds of men pinned down in No Man's Land, unable to advance or fall back.

    6.15am - A repeat of the initial bombardment is ordered, with the added difficulty of uncertain locations of the most advanced troops.

    7.20am - Major-General Haking (CO, 1st Division) reports failure and asks if he should bring in his last Brigade (1st (Guards)). He offered his opinion that it would not be successful.

    7.45am - A further one hour bombardment starts, ordered by Lieut-General Anderson (CO, Meerut Division). Its only impact is to encourage German artillery to reply, bringing heavy shelling down onto British front and support trenches. German fire continued until about 10.30am.

    8.00am - First reports reach Haig, but they underestimate losses and problems. Haig also hears of early French successes in Vimy attack; he resolves to renew the effort in the Southern attack, with noon being the new zero hour. This was subsequently moved when it was learned from I Corps how long it would take to bring supporting units up to replace those that had suffered in the initial attacks. The new attack at 2.40pm would again be preceded by a 40 minute bombardment. The various movements of relief forces were achieved only with much confusion and further losses under renewed enemy shellfire. The time was again moved, to 4.00pm. In the meantime, the German infantry in the Bois de Biez area was reinforced.

    3.20pm - Bombardment repeated and seen to be a little more successful, blowing gaps in the wire and in the enemy front-line.

    3.45pm - Bareilly Brigade, moving up to relieve the Dehra Dun, loses more than 200 men due to enemy shelling.

    3.57pm - The leading companies of the 1/Black Watch of 1st (Guards) Brigade, brought in to replace the shattered 2nd Brigade, went over the top despite the 1/Cameron Highlanders being late to arrive and moved at the double across No Man's Land. Some reached the German breastwork just as the bombardment lifted; most were however killed or captured in the German firing trench although a small party reached the second position. The two lead companies of the Camerons, coming up on the left of the Black Watch a few minutes later, suffered heavy machine-gun casualties in crossing between the front lines. At approximately the same time, the two fresh battalions of the 3rd Brigade, the 1/Gloucestershire and 1/South Wales Borderers began to advance but were cut down without reaching the enemy. Meerut Division orders Bareilly Brigade to advance, even though it is clear that conditions are unchanged - few men even reached a small ditch 20 yards in front of their own front line, and the Brigade suffered more than 1000 casualties within minutes.

    4.35pm - 1st Division orders another 10 minutes shelling but it is seen to have no effect.

    4.40pm - Large explosion at German ammunition dump in Herlies, hit by a long-range British heavy shell. Smoke clouds drifting towards British lines caused a gas alarm. Br-Gen. Southey (CO, Bareilly Brigade) reports that further attempts to advance would be useless.

    5.00pm - General Haig, hearing of the continued failure of the Southern attack, orders 2nd Division to relieve 1st Division with a view to a bayonet attack at dusk, 8.00pm.
  3. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    From Orange, Green and Khaki -

    A footnote says - The scene was well captured on canvas by Fortunino Matania from a description obtained by Mrs. Rickard. The original painting was presented to the Royal Army Chaplains Department (RC) by Major Henry Harris, author of The Irish Regiments in the First World War

    From The Cross on The Sword

  4. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    The 2nd. Battalion attacked from their trenches at dawn the following day. The Commanding Officer, Colonel V.G.H. Rickard and his Adjutant, Captain Filgate both shown mounted on their horses in the painting, were killed during the action. In that battle on 9th. May, the Battalion dead numbered 381, including the C.O. and Adjutant. 11 medals were awarded regarding this action, and 2 recommendations made for the Victoria Cross

    This story of the Munsters was written by MRS. VICTOR RICKARD


    May 9th 1915.

    " She, beyond shelter or station,
    She beyond limit or bar,
    Urges to slumberless speed
    Armies that famish and bleed,
    Giving their lives for her seed.
    That their dust may re-build her a Nation,
    That their souls may re-light her a star."

    A. C. Swinburne.
  5. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    This is a photograph of the chapel that the Munsters stopped at on the 8th May ... it's believed that Matania used his artistic impression when he described the ruined shrine !

    I'll have to see if we can pursaude Michel to tell us about this Chapel on this thread ! :rolleyes:

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  6. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Michel was there today and left some lovely flowers .... thank you my friend !! :)

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  7. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    May you all rest in peace - knowing that your efforts are still remembered and your sacrifice honoured


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  8. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    RIP Victor !

    In Memory of

    Cdg. 2nd Bn., Royal Munster Fusiliers
    who died age 40
    on 09 May 1915
    Husband of Jessie Louisa Rickard, of Pre aux Clercs, Parame, Bretagne, France.

    Remembered with honour

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  9. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    This very evocative picture was made a few years ago and I'm sorry I can't remember who did it ... all I know is that I have it hanging over my computer ...... and it makes me stop and think and appreciate life ......

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  10. LDRB

    LDRB New Member

    Great print. I am looking to buy a copy of this c1916 print "The last general absolution of the Munsters at Rue du Bois" and a few other WW1 prints. If anyone has this or other WWI period prints, please contact me via email at Thank you, Duncan

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