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Euston Road Cemetery

Euston Road Cemetery https://ngatapuwae.govt.nz/western-front/somme-1918 The New Zealand Division was called back to the Somme in 1918 to help stop the German advance. Ngā Tapuwae Trails https://ngatapuwae.govt.nz/sites/default/files/stop/media/battlemap_08_somme1918.jpg

The New Zealand Division was called back to the Somme in 1918 to help stop the German advance.

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Euston Road Cemetery

You’re standing at Euston Road British Cemetery. With the collapse of Russia in late 1917, the Allies were now anticipating a large enemy offensive. The Germans now had the ability to move 48 divisions from the east, and eight divisions from the Italian front, across to reinforce the Western Front. Finally they were in a position to continue what they couldn’t finish in 1914, a drive, deeper into France - cutting the British and French in half.

Ludendorff prepared for this by taking the cream of the German army and forming them into Stormtrooper Divisions. These stormtroopers would attack in small groups with flamethrowers, bombs and machine guns, coordinated with intense artillery bombardments. Using the element of surprise, and carrying the minimum of kit, and sacks full of potato masher grenades - they were a formidable fighting force.

In late March, the New Zealand Division was called down here to help stop this attack. The Germans were moving along a wide front towards you, and there was a gap in the line that the Allies desperately needed to fill. The New Zealanders came by every form of transport available train, bus, trucks, and on foot. In many cases the battalions had to march 30 or 40 kilometres. To your left on the skyline you can see a church spire - that’s Hebuterne. On the high ground in the distance in front of you, you can see the telegraph pole and a prominent farmhouse on the skyline which is central to this story - La Signy Farm.

Now, if you follow the skyline to the right, you can see a rooftop - that’s the area of the old sugar refinery, and at that junction the road continues down out of sight to Auchonvillers or ‘Oceanvillas’ as the troops called it. That gap between the refinery and Hebuterne was the gap that the New Zealanders were trying to block, and the Germans were heading towards where you stand now - coming towards the New Zealanders.

The British had been trying to stem the advance of the Germans, but were falling back all along the line and the Germans were climbing up the slopes of the Ancre valley which is beyond La Signy Farm. The New Zealanders were initially positioned at Auchonvillers as a covering force, and then they were sent up where they met the first of the German elements coming across their front. There was sporadic fighting and the New Zealanders seized and held the refinery area, forming a defensive block, stopping the Germans moving to the right. They then pushed forward, in the area of the church spire, to your left - which is Hebuterne, and they also got up the road to Euston junction, in front of you, but stopped there, as their path was blocked by German machine guns.

The Australians went in and took Hebuterne, but the New Zealanders were needed to hold and fill the line here. On 27 March, the Canterbury Battalion attacked, and quickly advanced to their objectives, along the road between Colincamps and Hebuterne.

Fighting continued here, all along that road. The New Zealanders were trying to seize the road, and plug the gap, which eventually they did. Slowly they pushed forward, with the Germans falling back, and as they advanced, machine guns were brought up, and Whippet light tanks rolled in, they then took that high ground around La Signy Farm.

If you look at the graves in front of you, you will see that the dates are from 26 to 29 March. They are the men from this battle.

The German advance on Amiens had been stopped. The New Zealanders sorted themselves out, reorganised and returned to their proper brigades. They coordinated with the Australians, who were then replaced by a fresh British Division. It was an aggressive defence. Fighting patrols kept the Germans off balance and tried to take the high ground, at La Signy Farm. The New Zealanders, along with the British, consolidated their positions, and prepared for what was to come next.

On 5 April, the Germans launched another attack. They poured artillery fire and gas on the British and New Zealand positions, and then attacked with infantry. The New Zealand artillery and machine guns opened up and shot them down. In some areas there was hand to hand fighting, but the Germans couldn’t break through. With a strong defensive line, and the German advance defeated again, the New Zealanders were now confident that the enemy could not break through here.

How to get here

Getting there

From the Gare d’Arras take Boulevard Carnot and turn 1st left on to the D917 following the sign towards Beaurains. Continue on the D917 for approximately 20 kilometres. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto D929 following the signs towards Amiens and Albert. Continue to follow the D929. At the next roundabout, take the 3rd exit and stay on D929. At the following roundabout, take the 2nd exit and stay on D929 for approximately 10 kilometres. When you reach Pozieres take the signposted right turn to Thiepval on to the D73. Go straight on at the crossroads at Thiepval on the D73 (a side visit to the Thiepval memorial and visitor centre is recommended if you have the time). Continuing on the D73 you will pass the Ulster Tower on your right. Continue on the D73 and you will come to a T-junction after crossing a railway track. Turn left here onto the D50. At the intersection in Hamel turn right towards Auchonvilliers rejoining the D73. Continue to follow the D73 until you come to the crossroads in Auchonvilliers town just before the church, turn right onto the D174 towards Hebuterne. Turn left to stay on the D174 following the sign to Hebuterne. Continue straight over the crossroads to remain on the D174.  

When road forks take the left fork onto the D4129 towards Colincamps. Continue down this road and you will come to the cemetery on your left.

Where to stand

Go into the cemetery and turn left. Stand in the corner by the New Zealand graves at the front of the cemetery. Face these graves and then turn 90 degrees to your right.

GPS
50°6'6"N
2°37'11"E
Decimal GPS
50.10177
2.619838
  • A New Zealand soldier uses a captured enemy machine gun at La Signy Farm, 6 April 1918.
    A New Zealand soldier uses a captured enemy machine gun at La Signy Farm, 6 April 1918.Credits

    Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013100-G. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22691198

  • New Zealand soldiers in a front line trench at La Signy Farm, France, 6 April 1918.
    New Zealand soldiers in a front line trench at La Signy Farm, France, 6 April 1918. Credits

    Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013092-G. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22775563

  • Two soldiers peer out of theirdugout at the front line, Hebuterne, France. 13 May 1918.
    Two soldiers peer out of theirdugout at the front line, Hebuterne, France. 13 May 1918.Credits

    Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013190-G. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23104990

  • New Zealand infantry march alongside Whippet Tanks of the 3rd Battalion at Mailly-Maillet. 26 March 1918.
    New Zealand infantry march alongside Whippet Tanks of the 3rd Battalion at Mailly-Maillet. 26 March 1918.Credits

    © Imperial War Museums (Q 9821)

  • German stormtroopers advancing across open ground. 1918.
    German stormtroopers advancing across open ground. 1918.Credits

    © Imperial War Museums (Q 47997)

Stories & Insights

Fighting their way around the town of Bapaume, Jervis and his men were under constant fire.

A crowd gathers around a mobile field kitchen (goulaschkanone) in Berlin.

Fast running out of food and materials to feed their people and supply their army, Germany was under intense pressure.

General Russell awards a soldier a medal  for gallantry - earned in the fighting at Meteren, France 1918.

Various medals and distinctions were awarded to soldiers during the war, with the Victoria Cross being the highest honour.

 

When the Germans attacked at the Somme, the New Zealand Division was rushed to the region.

German soldiers haul a granatenwerfer - a type of grenade or mortar thrower - forward in support of advancing stormtroops, 15 July 1918.

In March 1918, the Germans launched a huge offensive - with the aim of winning the war.

Using a false name, Coley lied about his age to join the army.

 

Useful resources for those looking for more information.

A selection of First World War vocabulary and common phrases.

Taking the Somme 1918 trail

Warning: Traffic can be busy so use caution at all times. 

Get to Euston Road Cemetery (via Thiepval) (the start of this trail) from Arras

GPS: 50.101767, 2.619838

From the Gare d’Arras take Boulevard Carnot and turn 1st left on to the D917 following the sign towards Beaurains. Continue on the D917 for approximately 20 kilometres. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto D929 following the signs towards Amiens and Albert. Continue to follow the D929. At the next roundabout, take the 3rd exit and stay on D929. At the following roundabout, take the 2nd exit and stay on D929 for approximately 10 kilometres. When you reach Pozieres take the signposted right turn to Thiepval on to the D73. Go straight on at the crossroads at Thiepval on the D73 (a side visit to the Thiepval memorial and visitor centre is recommended if you have the time).

Continuing on the D73 you will pass the Ulster Tower on your right. Continue on the D73 and you will come to a T-junction after crossing a railway track. Turn left here onto the D50. At the intersection in Hamel turn right towards Auchonvilliers rejoining the D73. Continue to follow the D73 until you come to the crossroads in Auchonvilliers town just before the church, turn right onto the D174 towards Hebuterne. Turn left to stay on the D174 following the sign to Hebuterne. Continue straight over the crossroads to remain on the D174.  When road forks take the left fork onto the D4129 towards Colincamps. Continue down this road and you will come to the cemetery on your left.

Your stop

Go into the cemetery and turn left. Stand in the corner by the New Zealand graves at the front of the cemetery. Face these graves and then turn 90 degrees to your right.

Get to the trail overview at the Grévillers Cemetery from Arras

GPS: 50.108232, 2.819662

From the Gare d’Arras take Boulevard Carnot and turn 1st left on to the D917 following the sign towards Beaurains. Continue on the D917 for approximately 20 kilometres. At the roundabout, take the first exit onto D929 following the signs towards Amiens and Albert. Continue to follow the D929. At the next roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto the D29 towards Grévillers. Continue down the D29 and you will see Grévillers Cemetery on your right.

Your stop

Enter the cemetery and walk up to the war stone in the centre of the cemetery. Turn left and walk to the cemetery wall. Turn around to face the war stone.

Plan your time

Allow for 2 to 4 hours to explore the entire Somme 1918 trail.

If you’re short of time, simply visit stop 3: Grévillers for an overview of the entire Somme 1918 trail.

Nearby places of interest

While you’re here you can also visit the following places:

Thiepval Interpretation centre
Featuring the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, the visitor centre provides an overview of the First World War.

Musée des Abris - Somme 1916 Albert
This museum focuses on life in the trenches and the Somme offensive in 1916. 

Location Collection: 
Location Name: 
Somme 1918
Lat: 
20.97013403951159
Long: 
-89.026041125
Lat Real Location: 
50.10823
Long Real Location: 
2.819662

Take the next trail

The next Ngā Tapuwae trail is Road to Le Quesnoy. Proceed to Havrincourt Bridge.
Link to the first stop

Decimal GPS:
57.872079436327844
-70.08768153124998
Sequence:
1
Decimal GPS:
66.78265700440272
-100.33920450000005
Sequence:
2
Decimal GPS:
74.26320590579186
-68.48160753125
Sequence:
3
Decimal GPS:
74.69582567031232
-74.85099850000006
Sequence:
4
Decimal GPS:
75.49514911130507
-64.33908012500001
Sequence:
5

Stop Images

Sequence:
1
Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.10177
2.619838
Sequence:
2
Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.13221
2.668608
Sequence:
3
Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.10823
2.819662
Sequence:
4
Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.12177
2.844314
Sequence:
5
Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.102178
2.897248