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Webmatters : 46th (North Midland) Division Memorial at Auchy les Mines
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46th (North Midland) Division

Location

The monument can be a little tricky to locate.
Though remembering that it is not far from Quarry Cemetery may help.


46th Division monument at Auchy

The 46th (North Midland) Division

Coming from Loos and Hill 70 take the main road towards La Bassée (D947) until you reach Hulluch.

Here you will turn left following the sign for Vermelles and St Mary’s ADS group of CWGC Cemeteries. Continue as far as Vermelles where you will see the original 46th Divisional Cross on your left as you arrive in the town. A little further on the road bends sharply to the left at a T-junction. Turn right. Stay on this road taking the right hand fork at the Y-junction. It looks like a track but is in fact the old road to Auchy. You will eventually pass Quarry Cemetery on your right and then arrive at a set of Corons (Miners houses). Turn right following the signs for Complexe Omnisports.

At the far end of the street you will see the wee green and red 46th Division sign directing you right – though note the no entry sign. Park sensibly in the laneway and walk the hundred metres down the track.

Arriving from Béthune and Cuinchy along the D941, turn right onto the D163 following the signs for Auchy les Mines Centre. You will then be forced to turn right along the one-way traffic system towards Haisnes. Continue and turn left (again following Haisnes) before the next wee roundabout. At the end of this street turn right following the sign for Quarry Cemetery and Complexe Omnisports. After about 500 metres you will enter a group of Corons where you will turn left onto Rue Emile Zola still following the sign for Complexe Omnisports (straight on takes you to Quarry Cemetery). The road bends around to the right becoming Rue du Moulin (where you will pass the said Sports Hall) and then Rue de Douai.

At the far end of the street you will reach the wee green and red 46th Division sign directing you straight on.

 

Background


46th Division monument at Auchy

Those behind the project

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.

Munitions continue to be unearthed

NEVER touch anything that you see.
These unexploded munitions become more dangerous as the years progress.

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 monument

Instigated in June 2004 by the Lincolnshire Friends of the Hohenzollern Redoubt, the Memorial was designed by Michael Credland.

The unveiling and Dedication Service took place on 13th October 2006 slightly before 1400 hours. As it was concluded a whistle was blown signifying Zero Hour and the Last Post was sounded.

The Memorial is made with Portland Stone, it is 46 inches tall and the octagonal sides are cut at (almost) 46 degrees. Each segment carries a bronze Regimental plaque; one for each of the units involved in the attack. As the senior regiment the Lincolnshire Regiment was given pride of place.

It will be noticed that the column is broken a symbol that usually signifies the loss of the head of the family. The slice has also been made at 46 degrees.

The land for the Memorial, a generously gift by local farmer Monsieur Michel Dedourge, measures 46 square metres.

The top of the column carries the words :

Their country found them ready

Bench presented by Lincolnshire Corporation

The bench has its own particular history. Presented to the City of Lincoln by the survivors of the Hohenzollern attack it remained near the city war memorial until falling into decay. When this new memorial was proposed Lincolnshire Cooperative donated £5,000 to pay for the bench’s restoration and shipping to France.

 

The other memorials in this area