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Webmatters : 46th (North Midland) Division Memorial at Vermelles
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46th (North Midland) Division

Location

The monument can be easily found on the edge of Vermelles in Rue Jules Guesde the D39 towards Hulluch. This is the road on which you will find St Mary’s ADS Cemetery. Coming from Hulluch follow the signs for the cemeteries/Vermelles and then continue straight on. The monument is on your left immediately before entering Vermelles.

There is another memorial in Auchy a short distance away.

Coming from the Loos Memorial; follow the D943 towards Vermelles and B├ęthune (That is, away from Loos-en-Gohelle). Continue until the roundabout and turn right onto the D75 sign posted Auchy les Mines. This will bring you in past Vermelles British Cemetery.

A short distance afterwards turn right following the sign for Hulluch. At the church take left and continue towards Hulluch. After a right angled bend (straight on would take you towards Quarry Cemetery) the monument will be on your right just as you leave the town.

In general the French do not aspirate the ‘H’ beginning a word. Nor do they pronounce a final -CH. This results in Hull-uck ! Being pronounced closer to Oo-loo. By the same token Loos is pronounced : Loss.
It also needs to be pointed out that the full title of the village is Loos-en-Gohelle (Loos is near Lille).

 

Background


46th Division monument at Vermelles

The 46th (North Midland) Division

The Division was a permanent Territorial Division that had been created by the reforms of 1908. All of its units were immediately mobilised in August 1914 and by 8th March 1915 it became the first such Division to arrive on the Continent in its entirety.

It took part in the German attack at Hooge on the 30th July 1915 — when the Germans used flame throwers — and then remained in the Ypres salient until being ordered to Loos.

The Battle of Loos had opened on the 25th September 1915 as a supporting offensive to that at Vimy being conducted by the French. It was the first battle at which the British army used gas — by releasing it from cylinders and allowing the wind to carry it towards the German lines.

The release of the gas was a mixed affair. On the southern side of the battlefield towards the two great crassier (Coal tips) that can be seen away in the distance the gas helped the advance.

In the northern sector around Auchy les Mines it tended to blow back and caused more difficulties to the attackers than the defenders.

Despite this setback the Scots of the 9th (Scottish) Division swiftly overpowered the defenders of a complex known as the Hohenzollern Redoubt and then continued to capture the mining complex of Fosse 8 (Colliery No 8) and its slag heap known as The Dump.

Unfortunately, Sir John French, Commanding the BEF was tardy in handing the reserves to General Sir Douglas Haig, whose First Army was conducting the battle and a possible chance of a breakthrough was lost. Whether or not the opportunity was ever really there will be fought by historians. The soldiers were not given the option.

In the early hours of the 26th September the Germans discovered a gap between the 9th Division and the 7th Division to their south and recovered a position known as The Quarries. This left the Scots at Fosse 8 in a difficult position with their right flank open. The 73rd Brigade of the 24th Division (part of the completely untested reserve) were sent forward to bolster the defences.

At dawn the following day (27th) between six hundred and a thousand of the Bavarian Staubwasser and 91 RIR launched their assault on Fosse 8 and the Hohenzollern Redoubt. The 73rd Brigade was forced out of the Fosse and The Dump but they and the Scots held on to part of the Hohenzollern Redoubt.

Following further German counter attacks General Haig set the 13th October 1915 as the date that the 12th (Eastern) Division would retake The Quarries and the 46th (North Midland) Division would retake the Hohenzollern Redoubt and then encircle The Dump.

The 46th Division only took over the trenches from the Guards Division the night before the attack and the attack at 1400 hours on the 13th October was a disaster despite numerous individual acts of supreme heroism. The Division lost 3,763 officers and men as casualties in the space of an afternoon and almost all of them had occurred within the first ten minutes of going over the top.

 

The other memorials in this area