Stormy Trench / Grease Trench (2017-04-18)
* In the video I say the trench remnant at the memorial is Stormy Trench. After further research I found a Canadian map that shows this as Grease Trench. At first I thought, possibly, they had given the trench a different name, as Stormy Trench was a German trench. Then I found a single map that actually showed both Grease and Stormy trenches, the latter being just in front of the former. I understand the A Company 13th Battalion AIF used Grease Trench as their starting point to take Stormy Trench, so it is still of great significance to me.
In 1916 the Newfoundland Regiment (Not yet part of Canada) suffered heavy losses taking Grease Trench, North East of Gueudecourt, France, during WWI. The remnants of which are here, hence the memorial.
In front of Grease Trench was Stormy Trench. In 1917 my great uncle, a member of 'A' Company of the 13th Battalion AIF, under the command of "Mad" Harry Murray VC, CMG, DSO & Bar, DCM (Then a Captain, winning his VC at Stormy Trench) took the trench and held it after numerous counter attacks.
For the Battle of Stormy Trench the following medals were awarded: 1 Victoria Cross, 3 Distinguished Conduct Medals, and 11 Military Medals.
The following is the citation of my great uncle Malcolm Davidson Robertson DCM.
He is a member of a Bombing Section in "A" Coy. and took part in the attack on STORMY TRENCH North East of GUEUDECOURT on night 4/5th February 1917.
After the position was captured and when the enemy was in the Section which lost its N.C.O. and all men but two, ROBERTSON and another, in the first shower of enemy grenades. ROBERTSON instantly took charge and making up his Bombing Section from the five nearest riflemen, he directed the Bomb fire, himself manipulating the rifle grenades. Then followed a fierce fight against an unusually stubborn enemy, throughout which ROBERTSON handled his men with wonderful coolness and courage in an extremely dangerous situation.
The enemy returned to the attack five separate times, and were defeated on every occasion, although ROBERTSON had to twice completely replace the personnel of his section during the fight owing to casualties. When the enemy finally desisted their efforts, ROBERTSON erected a barricade of sandbags and personally reconnoitered the whole of his front within bombing distance where there was any chance of the Germans taking cover.
In the first few minutes of the attack ROBERTSON was wounded in the face by a German bomb which burst close to his head. This is a wonderful example of bravery, initiative, command, and every soldier-like quality, especially for a private, and is a performance which in my opinion truly merits the award of the VICTORIA CROSS.
Lt-Col J.M.A. Durrant DCM (CO of 13th Battalion)
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