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Post Info TOPIC: More on Mephisto.


Legend

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More on Mephisto.
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There is some shrewd detective work here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/82596826@N03/32343142220

Mephisto was taken from Vaux to Merlimont, and the only practical way to do that was by rail. But from where? There's no railway at Vaux, nor at Poulainville.

Now we have this picture.

Meph_chain.jpg

"Baz" points out what appears to be railway rolling stock in the left background. In the right background is rising wooded terrain (although from what I remember of Vaux-en-Amienois, that doesn't necessarily rule out the tank demonstration ground). In the right middle distance are what might be more railway wagons, or maybe buildings. But this does look like some sort of rail depot.

 

Meph_hawser.JPG

Some sources say that Picture 2 shows Mephisto very soon after she/he/it had been recovered, but the "Captured by" and "Salved by" graffiti is already there, so there must have been a decent interval. I suspect this wasn't done until Mephisto was safely at Vaux.

However, it's worth noting that in Picture 2 there is a steel hawser attached to one of Mephisto's towing hooks at the front. Since the tank was facing towards the Allies when it ditched, it would make more sense to tow it out of the crater forwards than muck about turning it round. In Picture 1, there is a chain through the two rear mg ports, which suggests another tow, but backwards. Picture 3 seems to be another view taken at the same time. The chain doesn't appear to have moved. Now the Rising Sun emblem has been added to the right hand side. The prow of a rhomboid can be seen on the right of the picture.

Meph_Poulainville_crop.jpg

 

Now I can add a little bit of detective work of my own.

This link by "Baz" shows the site of a rail siding between Vaux and Poulainville.

https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/80260+Poulainville,+France/@49.9559152,2.2882778,320m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x47e786fa94b6e45b:0xd52ba8c548e96a7f!8m2!3d49.947652!4d2.313408!5m1!1e4

It's on the Saint Roch - Doullens - Frévent line.

On the satellite view, you can see that the siding is no longer there. But it isn't the only thing that's no longer there.

In 1918, there was a station there. Bertangles-Poulainville, on the spot where the line crosses from one commune to the other, roughly equidistant from the villages. This is the only image of it I've found so far, and it's not tremendously helpful:

Poulainville_Bertangles_station.jpg

The line lost its Passenger Status in 1938 and became a freight route. The station building was brick-built, but there are no traces of it now.

So this is what I reckon to be Mephisto's route to the nearest station, and thence to the rail network and on to Merlimont. A shade over 2 miles.

Meph_journey_Vaux_Poulain.jpg

Feel free to pick holes.in this theory.

A couple of final points:

"Baz" points out that the name "Mephisto" and the cross on the rear appear to have been repainted before arrival at the rail centre. I hadn't noticed that.

And I've tried to see if the names of the "Tank Boys" chiselled on the rear armour are visible in any of the photos, but can't see anything. It might help to establish when, where, and by whom they were engraved.

This is fyi:

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sch%C3%A9ma_de_la_ligne_de_Saint-Roch_%C3%A0_Fr%C3%A9vent

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ligne_de_Saint-Roch_%C3%A0_Fr%C3%A9vent

By the by, von Richthofen was initially buried in Bertangles Cemetery.




-- Edited by James H on Saturday 19th of August 2017 11:47:35 PM

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Ned


Lieutenant-Colonel

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Thanks for posting.  and speaking of Mephisto here is a podcast / website talking about capturing it. It's from Australia.

"Mephisto" The Remarkable True Story of the WW1 Tank, on Conversations w. Richard Fidler

https://soundcloud.com/abc-conversations/mephisto-the-remarkable-true-story-of-the-ww1-tank-on-conversations-w-richard-fidler

 



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Sergeant

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James,

Be aware that though there may not have been civilian railway lines in the area, there have been military railway lines constructed by the British, or Canadian Railway Construction Battalions. You would need a period map, which may well (probably*) have been classified secret, to know. I would expect that area to have a number of military lines leading to the pre-Operation Michel front, as Amiens was a key railway hub for the British.


Cheers,
Chris

* I have a large military railway map of the Ypres Sector classified as such.

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Lieutenant-Colonel

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And for those who want to download the podcast as an MP3, try this link:

http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/mephisto-the-only-remaining-ww1-german-a7v-tank/7754728

Just rightclick on 'MP3 available', save link as...



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...interesting pictures though, have never seen these before... Thanks for sharing!



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Ned


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Unfortunately, I can't find the link. but there is actual discussions of making an Australian movie on how the Mephisto was captured.

If i find it again, I'll post it here.



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Legend

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The "Tank Boys" names chiselled into Mephisto are attached. I tried to find these guys in the AWM/National Archive records a while ago.

For the names I could reasonably identify they all seem to have been drivers in various AIF transport companies.

 

H. Williams - too many of them to give an unambiguous result - there were a host of "Henry Williams" serving with the AIF

J.(John) Byford - #792 - Driver - 3rd Aust Army Service Corps

J.(James) Pickles - #5195 - Driver - 1st MT Coy, 3rd Army Bde, Aust Army Field Artillery

A. (Arthur) McFarlane - #2875 - Driver - 1st Div Army Ordnance Corps

H. Dutton - couldn't find

T. (Thomas) Hughes - #1795 - Driver - 14th Field Artillery Battery  

All of these guys were with their units in France around August-Sept 1918

 

The radio program on Mephisto is based on a heap of journalistic fiction which has grown up around Mephisto. The origin of this

seems to have been a biographical article on Lt.Col Robinson (CO 26th Bn AIF) published in 1938. Like most journalistic fictions

it's almost impossible to overthrow because each successive wave of journalists looks to their archives as a primary, reputable resource.

The best researched and probably most reliable account of Mephisto's retrieval is given in Mark Whitmore's book on Mephisto.

Charlie

 



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Legend

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I went back and looked at the missing names. The WW1 records have been moved from the AWM to the National Archives - the search

engine is somewhat better than the old AWM one was. Anyway I may have possible identifications for:

H. (Hugh) Williams - #3302 - Driver - 5th Div MT Coy

H. Dutton might be T. H. (Tracy Hubert) Dutton - #12285 - Driver - 10th Field Ambulance - none of the other Duttons seem to match.

 

Charlie

 



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Legend

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@ Ned http: //landships.activeboard.com/t53836947/a7v-documentary-waltzing-mephisto/

I corresponded with Tony Bellino for a while on this project, but it's all gone quiet, and I don't know what happened to the idea.

@ Ned & Arie: I've heard the Fidler broadcast, and it's, shall we say, not really academic.

@ green acorn: The possibility of temporary lines did occur to me, but I haven't been able to find any info. Michel (Tanker) has very kindly sent me a couple of aerial views of the station taken in 1947 in which the intact station building is visible, but he doesn't have any military maps of the area. For most of the War Amiens was quite a long way from the Front, so I'm not sure they would have built broad gauge lines there. I'll have a word with M. Nourtier, the local historian.

@ Charlie: That's most interesting. Andrew Currey, of the AWM, says that the "Tank Boys" weren't in the 26th between July and Nov 1918, and deduces - "confirms", he says - that these blokes were Tank Corps in the latter part of the year. Five of the others, he says, were in the Australian Broad Gauge Railway Operating Company (ABGROC). Finding out more about that outfit might be profitable.

I'm right with you on the sourcing problem, btw.



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Commander in Chief

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James H wrote:
@ green acorn: The possibility of temporary lines did occur to me, but I haven't been able to find any info. Michel (Tanker) has very kindly sent me a couple of aerial views of the station taken in 1947 in which the intact station building is visible, but he doesn't have any military maps of the area. For most of the War Amiens was quite a long way from the Front, so I'm not sure they would have built broad gauge lines there. I'll have a word with M. Nourtier, the local historian.
British trench map of the area dated March 1918 shows two broad gauge lines branching off to the east. One in the curve below (south) of the station. This one extends to the map border and points towards Poulainville. And further south there is another short branch, also pointing to P., but is only some two hundred yards in length. However, on the adjacent map sheet (dated August 1918), there is no rail line reaching P. from the west.    


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MZ


Legend

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There were 6 railway companies in the AIF - 3 light and 3 heavy. The railway drafts were railwaymen from Australia and were taken on strength

as engineers - the lowest rank was sapper. The unit diaries of all the railway companies are on line at the AWM website.

I'll have another dig into the AIF records but I think it's likely the "tank boys" were MT personnel - it may turn into a process of elimination...

The name J. Byford is easy - there were 4 Byfords in the AIF

James - Pte 51st Bn - wounded in action 29/6/16 - returned to Australia

John - Driver - 3rd AASC

John - Pte - 2nd MG Bn - in action August/Sept 1918 in support of 2nd and 4th Divs

William John - Pte - 13th Bn - PoW - 11/4/17

Charlie

 



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Legend

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mad zeppelin wrote:
British trench map of the area dated March 1918 shows two broad gauge lines branching off to the east. One in the curve below (south) of the station. This one extends to the map border and points towards Poulainville. And further south there is another short branch, also pointing to P., but is only some two hundred yards in length. However, on the adjacent map sheet (dated August 1918), there is no rail line reaching P. from the west.    

 Thanks v much for tfhe info. Do you have a view on Mephisto's route? Is there any sign of a branch line to Vaux? With so much tank traffic using the demonstration ground, one might have thought so.



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Commander in Chief

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Not the best of images, but quite explicit: no rails at Vaux. - The station is where the trenches meet the rail line.



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MZ


Legend

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Brilliant! I thank you.



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