100 years ago – bridging the St Georges River at Pont-a-Pierre

The ODT has a an excellent daily feature of photos and news reports from 100 Years Ago.

There has been a lot of content over the last few years related to World War One, and now looks towards the end of the war.

On Tuesday: New Zealand advance

The New Zealanders have another splendid advance in the battle which was recommenced by the British armies this morning.

The Canterbury and Otago troops assembled across the Selle River, just south of Solesmes, and, after waiting for a short initial advance by an English division that had been holding the line, they went forward at 8.40am, following a destructive barrage that made hundreds of the enemy take to flight. Our troops were in fine form, and pressed after the retreating enemy. Prisoners soon began to come back. They were a mixed lot, and very dejected. They had been told that Germany had agreed to all our demands, and they wondered why we were still fighting.

Pressing on, the New Zealanders crossed a small stream, and, still meeting with slight opposition, reached their first objective shortly after noon. Forward, and to the right of the village of Vertain ahead, lay an obstacle in the shape of a stream of considerable size named St Georges.

Here the bridges were blown up; but our troops, making light of the difficulties, reached the other side with but few casualties, and after an hour’s pause proceeded to exploit their success towards another stream – the River Ecaillon – with steep banks and a considerable flow of water. Ahead lies Beaudignies, and beyond that Le Quesnoy, with its old wall fortifications. In all we have advanced today 6000 yards, and the battalions that took the first objective are still strong enough to go on again tomorrow. It has been a fine day’s work.

This makes it sound like things were going well with few problems, but may have glossed over the realities. Here is another description of the bridging of the St Georges river, from 15398 Supplement to the London Gazelle, 10 December, 1919

2nd Lieutenant, 3rd Field Company, New Zealand Engineers On the night 23rd/24th October 1918. He was detailed to construct a bridge over the St. George’s River at Pont-a-Pierres. The crossing was subjected to very heavy shell fire, and his party was driven off the bridge three times, but by his coolness and courage he lept his men together and completed the bridge in time.

Sounds a bit tougher than the news report implies. The account at the London Gazette relates to the awarding of the Military Cross to my grandfather.

It was only a small bridge…

Image result for bridge pont a pierre 1918

…and played a tiny part in a huge conflict zone, but must have had a bit of importance.

More here: Pont A Pierres 1918

The latest from the ODT: Peace before Christmas?

As we now know it was over in less than two weeks. There is likely to be a lot of coverage of this over the next two weeks as the 100 year anniversary of the end of the Not Great War nears (11 November).



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1 Comment

  1. Gezza

     /  1st November 2018

    Thanks for posting that PG. A god-awful war for a god-awful reason run by god-awful people that chewed up so many men’s lives over nothing that was never ever worth it. Helps to be reminded there are still leaders who themselves, and whose sons & daughters, won’t be putting their lives on the line who still want to send other people’s children to wars that they don’t need to have.


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