Tag Archives: Neuville Vitasse

10th April 1917 – Arras and the Hindenburg Line

On the 10th April tanks were unditched and generally prepared for further action.  On the 11th April four tanks which were then rallied in Neuville Vitasse were detailed to assist in the capture of the Hindenburg Line about its junction with the Wancourt Line and eventually in the capture of Wancourt.  These tanks proceeded down the wire in front of the Hindenburg Line crushing it and also dealing with the Garrisons of the trenches.  These tanks then moved on to Heninel and Wancourt destroying Machine Guns and firing into the houses.  The Infantry did not follow up the tanks as they were still under Machine Gun fire from the Hindenburg Line which the tanks had apparently not succeeded in reducing before they proceeded on to Wancourt.

That evening 3 tanks returned to Rallying Point where one became ditched in a Sunken Road and was set on fire by a direct hit.  The Infantry advanced that night and captured the Hindenburg Line, Heninel and Wancourt all of which the enemy had apparently evacuated.  Some very useful pigeon messages were sent back from the tanks which had proceeded to Wancourt.  This tank operation was carried out at very short notice and with no previous reconnaissance possible.  The ground was much more favourable for tank operations and continual snow storms screened their movements from enemy artillery.

9th April 1917 – Arras

First Army

12 Company D Battalion.   All 8 tanks started at Zero hour but they were unable to keep up with the Infantry owing to the condition of the ground.  They all ditched on or just before reaching the Black line (German Support Trenches) and took no further part in the operations.  These Tanks were all unditched under considerable fire (one being hit on the sponson) and difficult conditions and finally withdrawn by the 12th April.

Third Army

XVII Corps

7 Company C Battalion.   All 8 tanks started.  One ditched on the German front line, smashing and falling into a concrete MG emplacement and was hit by shell fire later.  Three tanks ditched on or about the Black line, one tank had its track broken by shell fire.  One tank, heavily shelled during its advance, became ditched on our own trenches and was eventually hit on the track.  One tank reached the Railway embankment but became ditched near there.  The Commander, 2Lt William Duncan Tarbet, was shot and killed while reconnoitring the ground in front of his tank.  One tank reached its objective at the Railway embankment in good condition.  One tank reached the Blue line when it became ditched and was hit later on the rear sprocket and track.  Thus 7 tanks in all became ditched at some period while only one tank wholly and 2 tanks partially carried out their role.

VI Corps

9 Company C Bn.  Of the 10 tanks in the Company, only 5 arrived at the start point in time to move off at Zero hour.  Five ditched on the way up but moved up later and went into action.  One tank was held up immediately after starting by engine trouble.  It got going again only to break down later, but did very useful work before breaking down.  This tank was attacked by German bombers during the night 9th/10th April and put out of action.  Two tanks reached the Railway Triangle and the Infantry were materially helped by their action.  There was little definite information about the movements of the remaining tanks of this Company.  Tanks were seen going through Tilloy and the Northern end of the Harp, while two others were reported to be disabled.  Two tanks entered Monchy Le Preux on the 11th April.

8 Company C Bn.   All 10 tanks started.  Two became stuck in No Man’s Land, the remainder got into action on the Harp; of the latter 4 became ditched in the Harp (mostly in String Trench), one had a track broken by a bomb, one was put out of action by a direct hit and one was set on fire by a direct hit by a Trench Mortar bomb.

VII Corps

10 Company D Battalion.   Eleven Tanks started, one remaining ditched near Achietcourt.  The 4 tanks operating with 14th Division left the Black line with the Infantry and gained their objectives.  They were reported on Telegraph Hill at 7.30 a.m. and then worked down the Hindenburg Line towards Neuville Vitasse.  Here one tank sustained a direct hit and 2 tanks fell into old gun pits.  One tank continued to mop up around Neuville Vitasse.  The 4 Tanks operating with 56th Division also left the Black line with the Infantry; 2 became ditched, one worked round Neuville Vitasse and the other attacked a strong point at Neuville Hill, at which the enemy surrendered after a few rounds from a 6 pounder had been fired at them.  One tank crushed uncut wire and made passages through which Infantry passed.  The 3 tanks with 30th Division (there should have been four, but one ditched near Achietcourt on the approach march) gained the Blue line where one Tank received a direct hit, one became ditched and the remaining one advanced towards the Cojeul River.