Officers Prisoner of War Statement. Lieutenant Duncan Blenkiron 18th Battalion Manchester Regiment

The static warfare of the Western Front was very different near the Somme River and marshes.  The British held Fargny, Vaux and Eclusier, with the French, immediately over the river to south, defending Frise.

Opposite was the German held village of Curlu and a large marshy meander of the river, known as Trafford Park.  The British held outposts in Trafford Park and regularly faced aggressive patrolling from German Infantry.  The British also patrolled the marshes on punts, otherwise used for duck shooting.  The area is overlooked by a chalk escarpment forming a tranquil bowl.  It is beautiful and very much worth visiting. See

German Trenches on 19th January 1916. Credit Mcmaster.ca

German Trenches (red) on 19/1/1916. The Germans advanced and took the village of Frise on 29/1/1916. Lt Blenkiron was captured in the former French trenches. Credit Mcmaster.ca

Reports my Arthur Bell and 2nd Lieutenant Callan-Macardle have been reported in Maricourt Defences.  The Germans started an offensive on the Kaiser’s Birthday.  The Manchesters were holding defences and the 18th Battalion sent a patrol to investigate the changing situation.  Here’s there report:-

Source: Lieutenant Duncan BLENKIRON. The Manchester Regiment. | The National Archives

Statement 7th November 1918. 2nd Lieutenant Duncan Blenkiron.  Captured at Frise, near Vaux 29th January 1916.. D Company of 18th Battalion Manchester Regiment. 90th Brigade of 30th Division.  Repatriated 21st October 1918.  Arrived England 23rd October 1918. Address at 65 Oakley Square, London NW1

STATEMENT regarding circumstances which led to capture:-

Sir,
For a few days (almost 1 week) before my capture I was assistant Scout Officer  & used  to patrol the English section of the Marshes in front of “VAUX”; four hours by day & four hours by night.  On the night of the 28/1/16 & almost 11-30 pm I patrolled the English section of the marshes returning @ almost 2 AM on 29/1/16.  On returning I received orders from my Adjutant to the effect that “I was to get to FRISE at all costs, & all possible speed & find out from the French, if they were expecting an attack, & any other information.”  I proceeded with the Patrol to “Frise”, but on nearing the French Trenches, I ordered the men to take cover with the exception of Cpl Squibbs [10790 Francis Leopold Squibbs of D Coy](who was acting as a guide, as I had not been in the French sector before) & Pte Whitworth [9942 John Ernest Whitworth of A Coy] who spoke French very well.  We three went on, & into the Trenches, only when we were well inside did we discover we were surrounded by Germans.  We were challenged in French & were told that all was well to proceed in.

I am Sir
Your obedient Servant

D Blenkiron Lt

The War Diary reported the remainder of the Patrol of 30 men waiting for 5 hours before returning to Vaux.  Lieutenant Blenkiron and two other men were prisoners of war for the remainder of hostilities.  Duncan Blenkiron was repatriated prior to the Armistice, due to a stomach ulcer.

 

 

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