The Havenga Family

Memoirs of a Delville Wood Veteran

MY EXPERIENCES WITH THE SOUTH AFRICAN BRIGADE DURING WORLD WAR I

Chapter 3 - France, Armintieres and Longueval

Arriving in France it’s a march to the front where it would be the Jocks and the Springboks

Longueval and Delville Wood in the top right of the image from Google Maps 2020

France - The Route March to the Front

Our next move was a forced march of some 350 kilometers to forward lines at Armentieres. We were never transported mechanically as they were in the Second World War. At odd times we were herded into cattle trucks, 40 soldiers with all our equipment in each tiny one but more often than not we footslogged it over the French roads constructed of cobblestones. Marching on cobblestones was not pleasant at all.

Original 1916 British Army map of Armentiers.

It was towards the end of April that we reached our intended destination and were joined to the famous 9th [Scottish] division.

Longeval - The Jocks and Springboks

Pipers at Bazentine Ridge - 14 July 1917

After our spell at Armentieres we were moved up to the squalor of the forward trenches where our idea of modern warfare was rudely and radically changed. We were sent to Longueval towards the end of May to take over from the British troops.

Our frequent raids on the enemy trenches to capture a few prisoners were nerve-wracking experiences and convinced us that there was business on the go.