Excavating Europe

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by canuck, Jan 7, 2019.

  1. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    I read a Canadian infantry account today where the often daily routine of digging a slit trench was described in detail. In this case if was noted how invariably it was the final task done at the end of an exhausting day.
    That made me think that for those soldiers who fought for over 300 days, from Normandy through to Germany, that necessary pick and shovel work must have been repeated hundreds of times. It would be impossible to estimate the number but farmers in France, Belgium and Holland must have been filling in those countless trenches for years after the war.

    slit 3.jpg

    21033c9868c0d3a8414762049c98d95f28a14a2faaf92d2b300c6f03e176aade.jpg Courtesy of dbf
    slit.jpg slit2.jpg
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  2. Bedee

    Bedee Active Member

    First picture

    Signaller Rusty Forsythe (left) and Captain Armstrong (right) put the words of their sign into action.

    The jeep behind them belongs to 1 GHQ Liaison Regiment also known as the "Phantom Regiment" due to their insignia of a white P on a black square.

    2 Canadian soldiers dig slit trenches
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  3. JDKR

    JDKR Member

    Second picture

    This is an apology for a slit trench and is way too shallow. I only hope the reason is because they have decided to take a breather from their digging labours, although there is no sign of picks or spades. They are in a pine and oak area so not surprisingly the soil looks very sandy and they should have had no trouble in digging in. The bank of spoil behind the trench needs dispersing to aid concealment and could have been compacted at the front of the trench to give more protection and depth. The Bren gun should be facing the most likely threat direction, presumably the front, not off to a flank. Why is one soldier wearing a helmet and the other his Cap GS? Any idea of the unit? At least this trench would not have taken long to fill in!
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  4. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Do you mean this photo?


    That photo is from a series of images taken by Willem van de Poll, during GAD advance through Aalst.
    Archief Fotocollectie Van de Poll Reportage / Serie Bevrijding van Noord-Brabant langs de corridor Bergeijk - Valkenswaard - Aalst - Eindhoven

    Looking at the whole set, from the interaction with Dutch locals, doesn't look like they felt under much threat at the time.
    Irish Guards Group / Guards Armoured Division, Aalst, 18 Sept 44 | WW2Talk
    Includes, amongst others, all at same stage



    See thread for details, incl 2ArmdIG and 3IG war diary entries for the day:
    Irish Guards Group / Guards Armoured Division, Aalst, nr Eindhoven, 18 September 1944

    Who knows, maybe XRayX has accounts about locals having to fill trenches in ! ;)
    Irish Guards Group / Guards Armoured Division, Aalst, nr Eindhoven, 18 September 1944
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  5. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    It was meant as a representative photo, not a training manual.
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  6. JDKR

    JDKR Member

    Representative it surely is, but also representative of a very indifferent slit trench. No dig (excuse the pun) intended on the thread but I felt the trench and its occupants were worth a comment. Many thanks dbf for the background to the photos. How interesting that they were taken on 18 Sep, which, if my memory is correct, was Day 2 of MARKET GARDEN. To my mind the photos exude an air of lack of urgency, perhaps in a small way supporting the criticism that the link-up operation was not executed with sufficient energy and aggression. Apologies for the digression from filling-in trenches (which I have frequently had to do)!
    canuck likes this.

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