Gueudecourt Newfoundland Memorial

Gueudecourt Newfoundland Memorial

Just north east of Gueudecourt is the Gueudecourt Newfoundland Memorial. The bronze caribou stag erected by the Newfoundland Government is clearly visible from the Albert-Bapaume-Cambrai road and stands in a small battlefield park on a low rise. It marks the spot where, in October 1916, the Newfoundlanders played a decisive role in the capture of a German strong-point named Rainbow Trench, thus wiping out the sting of Beaumont-Hamel.

The Battle of Le Transloy, 1916

The village of Gueudecourt lies five kilometres directly south of Bapaume. Here, on October 12, 1916, the Newfoundland Regiment made its heroic assault during the Battle of Le Transloy, one of the major battles of the Somme. Arriving from the north where it had spent 10 weeks in the Ypres Salient, the 88th Brigade, in which the Newfoundland Regiment was serving, was temporarily attached to the British 12th Division, which was holding Gueudecourt. By nightfall on October 10, the Newfoundlanders were manning a 450-metre section of the firing line on the northern outskirts of the village. The attack went in at 2:05 in the afternoon of the 12th, all four Newfoundland companies advancing in line with the 1st Essex Battalion on their left. So closely did the men keep up to the curtain of their artillery barrage that several became casualties from the shrapnel of their own supporting guns. In the front German trenches the defenders, compelled by the shelling to remain under cover, were quickly engaged in hand-to-hand fighting. By 2:30 p.m. both assaulting battalions of the 88th Brigade had secured their initial objective—Hilt Trench in the German front line.

As the Newfoundlanders advanced to their final objective, some 750 metres from their starting line, heavy machine-gun fire coming from the front and the right flank forced them back to Hilt Trench. On their left, a sharp German counter-attack drove the Essex Battalion back to the outskirts of Gueudecourt, leaving the Newfoundlanders with an open flank. Newfoundland bombing parties cleared and secured the vacated portion of Hilt Trench and with the Battalion's line suddenly doubled in length, all ranks began digging in the hard chalk to construct a new firing step and parapet and generally reverse the former German position.

In the late afternoon the expected counter-attack developed, but determined fire from the Newfoundlanders' rifles and Lewis guns drove off the enemy with costly losses. The position was held against further assaults and during the night, the arrival of a relieving battalion of the 8th Brigade enabled the weary defenders to hand over their responsibilities and go into reserve.

During the 55 hours that had elapsed since they had entered the trenches on October 10, the Newfoundland Regiment had suffered 239 casualties—of whom 120 had been killed or would die of wounds. But the Regiment had been one of the few units on the whole of the Fourth Army's front to capture and retain an objective. "The success," wrote the Brigade Commander later, "was all the more gratifying as it was the only real success recorded on that day."

Directions

Aerial view of Gueudecourt Newfoundland Memorial

The Gueudecourt Newfoundland Memorial is about 45 kms northeast of Amiens, 30 kms south of Arras and 135 kms north of Paris. You can reach Amiens by train or by bus and from there take a taxi to the Memorial. The trip to the Memorial is approximately €75 return. You can also take the train as far as Albert and from there take a taxi, the trip to the Memorial from Albert is approximately €44 return. You can also rent a bike at the train station; the cost is approximately €5 per day, €11 per week and €17 per month.

Note: The cost of a taxi is based on return trips without a waiting period. If you want the taxi to wait for you while you visit the site you will be charged € 17.90 per hour. Bus connections are difficult and there are not many of them in the rural areas of the department of the Somme.

If you are travelling by car, please follow the directions below:

Note: Speed limits in France are 50 km/h in city limits and residential areas (generally unmarked), usually 90 km /h on secondary roads (but it may vary in areas) and 130 km/h on the motorway. Motorists should be aware of the priority from the right rule.

From Paris or Charles de Gaulle Airport take the A1 motorway, direction Lille. Continue on this road for approximately 130 kms and take exit 14 for Bapaume; when in Bapaume follow directions for Albert D929. In the community of Le Sars, turn south on the D11 and drive for about 6 kms. Once in the village of Gueudecourt, follow D11 (D74E) direction Beaulencourt. The Memorial is 1 km beyond Gueudecourt on your right. It should take you approximately 1½ hours to reach the Memorial.

From Amiens take the D929, direction Bapaume and drive for about 40 kms. In the community of Le Sars, turn south on the D11 and drive for about 6 kms. Once in the village of Gueudecourt, follow D11 (D74E), direction Beaulencourt. The Memorial is 1 km beyond Gueudecourt on your right. It should take you approximately 45 minutes to reach the Memorial.

From Arras take the A1 motorway, direction Paris. Continue on this road for approximately 25 kms. Take exit 14 for Bapaume; when in Bapaume follow directions for Albert D929. In the community of Le Sars, turn south on the D11 and drive for about 6 kms. Once in the village of Gueudecourt, follow D11 (D74E), direction Beaulencourt. The Memorial is 1 km beyond Gueudecourt on your right. It should take you approximately 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours to reach the Memorial.

From Calais take the A26 and continue on this road for approximately 130 kms. Turn south on the A1 towards Paris and drive for about 25 kms. Take exit 14 for Bapaume, when in Bapaume; follow directions for Albert D929. In the community of Le Sars, turn south on the D11 and drive for about 6 kms. Once in the village of Gueudecourt, follow D11 (D74E), direction Beaulencourt. The Memorial is 1 km beyond Gueudecourt on your right. It should take you approximately 2 hours to reach the Memorial.

From Lille take the A1 direction Paris. Continue on this road for approximately 70 kms. Take exit 14 for Bapaume, when in Bapaume follow directions for Albert D929. In the community of Le Sars, turn south on the D11 and drive for about 6 kms. Once in the village of Gueudecourt, follow D11 (D74E), direction Beaulencourt. The Memorial is 1 km beyond Gueudecourt on your right. It should take you approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour to reach the Memorial.

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