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20 Casualty Clearing Station, Boisleux Au Mont 1917


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Hi all,

 

I recently started my second ever model railway layout. The first was a Thomas layout in July for a train obsessed 4 year old's birthday present. I then thought it was time to do something for me. As an amateur Great War historian and former Combat Medical Technician with the Royal Army Medical Corps, I really should combine the two and so I am modelling 20 Casualty Clearing Station (CCS). 20 CCS served the 46th North Midland Division (Several soldiers were killed from this division who were born in the same village as I in Leicestershire). The CCS was based at Boisleux au Mont for most of 1917. Boisleux was an important rail area. Having the layout for this CCS offered me the opportunity to model British, French, American and German troops as well as 00 and 009 scale railways. As a boy I loved soldiers and models. I can now do them again  :sungum:

 

The videos I will post on Youtube will show it's progression and some of the historical photographs. Here are some of the plans and the area in 1917 and today.

 

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Thank you for the likes: 

 

 

I want to create Quarante Hommes et Huit Chevaux wagons. I once saw a model in France but was unable to locate any to buy. I did lots of research, including visiting the Mulhouse Cité du Train museum. They seemed to be cattle trucks with hatches over the open areas. The nearest I can get to these from hours of looking, are the fruit vans which I plan to modify by opening some of these hatches and of course putting new text on them.

 

Incidentally if anyone is interested, I have 360 VR photos of this museum online. You can view from a PC or phone/tablet (use your mouse or finger to move them aorund)

 

I will also need a hospital train which brings another issue. Because I am modelling layout to fit in my car and only 5ft by 3ft (I give British legion WWI and WWII talks too), I can only fit two coaches and the engine to enable them to get into my sidings. The actual ambulance trains were 16. I own 6 so far, so one day, I plan to have a more permanent layout to use them all. I have started to collect other locomotives, such as the Hatton ROD, a  Minitrains Decauville, three 3D printed locomotives on Katos (one is poorer quality) and rolling stock. I have just ordered a Simplex. I will of course have to revert then to RODs / WD stock.

 

What is interesting is that it was the Americans who managed the narrow gauge in the sector I am modelling for the period the CCS were there, although they also used British and French stock. They also sent their medical personnel to get experience at the CCS.

 

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Thanks F-UnitMad

 

I thought I might list some of my reading material that is helping to shape this layout. I have a large collection of Great War books and selected a few to support this as well as some digital material.

 

 

The military nurse's diary in the first book is fascinating and the best nurse first hand account. She writes it as it was and spares no punches. She was the head nurse in 32 CCS which was opposite 20 CCS before Boisleux. They used to alternate based on demand. When she had time off, she used ot head east until sentries stopped her. When the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line, she went and looked around the German dug-outs at Gommecourt and saw the skeletons being burred which had been on the battlefield since July 1st, 1916. 

 

The CCS book described the operations of a CCS and the RAMC book is great for photographs. I am sure many of you will have the narrow gauge book. It mentions Boisleux many times although the hospital siding was not featured in their maps. Perhaps my favourite book in all my colllection is the 1911 RAMC training manual. It covers absolutely everything and in many ways is similar ot the books I was issued. The detail is incredible. It tells the readeer how to tie knots, put up tents, cook, organise a camp as well as the obvious medical and physiology. It described how to load patients onto ambulances (motorised and cart), barges and trains.

 

I have included a summary after battle report from 20CCS' war diary that mentions the ambulance trains that evacuated the wounded from the CCS as well as a collision between an ambulance and ammunition train. The last two images are from American publications and describe their work as Boisleux.

 

It is nice to have the historical background. Although I cannot have the actual hospital plan 1) because I had already put the track down before I found it and; 2) there isn't enough room on a 5'x3' board.

 

Tonight I was working on some dug-outs with electric lighting. I will post photos when I get to that bit.

 

Thank you for the support.

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Thanks for posting the book info, I'm going to check out a couple. It's a fascinating subject and you've obviously got a lot on knowledge on the subject so I'm looking forward to seeing your layout take shape.

Steve.

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Thanks for so much support. I really appreciate it.

 

I have been working on some backboard dug-outs with lighting in them and a dug-out near the road where you can see in. I have put down some road templates which will eventually be covered with a mud layer.

 

I am a happy man. You might remember the wagons above that I was going to convert into the French 40 Hommes, 8 Chevaux. However, I have now found a Roco model that is French and very similar, so the only thing I have to change really is the lettering. I will include a photo of the model and a real wagon I photographed in France in July. I will use the existing trucks (above) for a Royal Army Medical Corps train similar to the one in the post card below.

 

 

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Hi everyone.

 

I couldn't decide on what backboard to have for this layout. Ideally, I would have had a typical WWI scene but I couldn't find any. I did find a high resolution WWI panorama and cut it up and printed it out but the scale was wrong and of course it was black and white. I had also built some Nissen huts and had a couple of pre-bought Bachmann huts. I have been placing some ruined houses to see how they might look. Unfortunately I am not that artistic so I won't attempt to paint my own background. I have two other choices: a grassy field or a plain sky. I have decided on a plain sky but will have to have a small embankment in the foreground and a few damaged trees. At least with WWI I will save on all the foliage for the trees :)

 

 

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Good morning. I have been painting the ruined village that was blown up by the Germans as they retreated to the Hindenburg Line. I am also trying locations for the bell tents. Some are for hospital staff and others patients with VD. They weren't sent any further down the evacuation line and worked for the CCS staff whilst they were in the hospital. Interestingly the bell tents started to be camouflaged later in the war (17-18) because of the increasing risk of air raid, although there was always one large red cross to identify the camp as a hospital. Many of the German raids were at night, so many CCS's were bombed and staff injured and killed. As the war went on, the RE started to dig the tents into the ground, so the staff slept below ground or were surrounded by sand bags. By 1918, the large hospital tents were also camouflaged by a visiting specialist team. By the summer of 1918, the Director of Medical Services said he would take down any CCS he found that wasn't camouflaged.

 

Note: I cannot decide on how to disguise the two areas tracks leave / enter the layout. I had planned to add a wooden structure either side but have been considering a small backboard beyond the large backboard with the same sky background and small embankment for continuity. Thoughts?

 

The middle track is a dummy track for horse-drawn and wagons pulled by men. See the supporting photos.

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for the continued likes. I appreciate it. I am very new to this. There is so much to learn.

 

I have been working on the ride side of the layout to build up an embankment to 'frame' the sides. I used a hot knife ot cut the polystyrene and then a hot air gun to shape it further. I then added a thin layer of plaster for strength and to make it easier to paint. I then added some undercoat after sticking it down with PVA.

 

You will also see that I have done more on the village houses and have added an unloading area for the dummy track. I may still add a small turntable to this (I have ordered one). There will also be a small camp besides the church with a camp fire. If I can do it, I want to the troops to use two of the old fireplaces in the ruined houses. Any shelter is better than no shelter!

 

 

 

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Ok so some of the left side and back today. I finally decided that sky with a bank was my best bet for the back scene but I want to add some dug-outs to give a sense (hopefully) of depth. The bank and sides will also have trees on. My original plan had a trench across the back but there isn't room given that I am scratch building the largest sized hospital tents which were marquees. They had an inner and outer layer and just the inner layer was something like 35' x 17'. They were huge and I plan on 5 of them and the rest Nissen Huts. The tents were also joined together either sideways or length ways to make continuous wards which helped with movement in bad weather. They had lighting and the system was that the CO would blow a whistle three times if he heard engines at night and the lights would be dimmed. Each hospital had a large red cross so the Germans would have known they were there. It's whether they knew where they were at night as many were still bombed. 20 CCS were shelled quite a bit when they first located and they moved every patient into the sunken lane next to the CCS, which is still there today. I am visiting the site on Saturday. However the CO thought that they might be being attacked because the British had two observation balloons next door. The CO asked them to relocate the balloons and the shelling stopped. I still may add a section of trench on the right (east) side of the layout for something else to look out and I still have an early Fokker Eindecker which was going to be crashed someone there. However I think I mentioned that I am going ot have to Sopwith Camels chasing a Fokker Tri-plane off above the layout.

 

I am waiting for one more book to arrive (hopefully tomorrow) and I will post some more images. I have a few more railway books for my collection. I bought one on Saturday at the Peterborough show and a few more ammo crates.

 

 

 

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I have added a few more railway related books to my collection and will include the cover designs here. There are some great photos. The book due out in January I have pre-ordered is the sister book to the Arras book above. I ordered a War Department book but it turned out to be WWII so maybe the next layout :)

 

Next time I will show some work on the dug-outs I have recently decided to add!

 

 

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I am going to Boisleux-au-Mont to visit the site where 20 CCS were based in the autumn and winter of 1917 on Saturday, so I will post again possibly Sunday evening. I have got some dug-out photos to upload and I have mud down everywhere now. I think I am going to work on fires for the ruined village next and start fixing down the buildings, followed by some bell tents and Nissen Huts in three separate phases as I want to light them all. I have started the large tents but have half as much work again to make them look anywhere near their real counterparts. I am finding them quite a challenge.

 

 

 

 

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My grandfather William Beckett was at No 10 CCS at Remy Siding from the 1st October 1917 until the 10th October 1917 when he was transported by Ambulance Train to Le Treport on the French coast hence my interest in your model. If I did No 10 CCs it would be very simple compared to yours

 

Cheers

 

Peter

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My grandfather William Beckett was at No 10 CCS at Remy Siding from the 1st October 1917 until the 10th October 1917 when he was transported by Ambulance Train to Le Treport on the French coast hence my interest in your model. If I did No 10 CCs it would be very simple compared to yours

 

Cheers

 

Peter

 

Hi Peter, That's interesting. He must have been quite ill to be there for 9 days. Have you visited the area? I have quite a few photos and recorded some VR in that cemetery this summer. It must have been a site when four CCSs were there at once. They were bombed a fair bit too.

 

MY layout will be fairly simple too. I am new to all this.

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This is a little update on the transport officers dug-out. It's not quite finished but it's getting there. As you can see, there is mud on the layout now. The first photo shows a rough cut out, the second with plaster for strength and the third with light, furniture and mud. 

 

I have also done some test placing of buildings and one vehicle which isn't weathered yet. Lot's of tidying up to do before I add the trees, equipment, vehicles, buildings, nurses and men!

 

 

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Hi Peter, That's interesting. He must have been quite ill to be there for 9 days. Have you visited the area? I have quite a few photos and recorded some VR in that cemetery this summer. It must have been a site when four CCSs were there at once. They were bombed a fair bit too.

 

MY layout will be fairly simple too. I am new to all this.

Yes, I have been there a few times as I have been a Warden at Talbot House twice (long haul from Oz but worth it)

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The War diaries of the Ambulance Trains at The National Archives are worth viewing as are the Diaries of No 20 CCS

This is what I extracted about my Grandfather

 

W E Beckett 95834 Royal Engineers

Movements from No 10 CCS Remy Siding via No 16 General Hospital Le Treport to Southampton Docks

WO 95/4139/3           War Diary of No 31 Ambulance Train

9th October 1917         No 31 Ambulance Train arrived at Remy Siding at 7:15 am and loading of 471 cases was completed at 12:30pm and departed Remy Siding at 15:30 hrs.

10th October 1917       No 31 Ambulance Train arrived at Le Treport at 5:00am. He was admitted to No 16 General Hospital.

WO 95/4138/8           War Diary of No 29 Ambulance Train

15th November 1917 Arrived at Le Treport at 2015 hrs and commenced loading a total of 414 patients.

16th November 1917 Train departed Le Treport at 00:12 hrs

16 November 1917     Train arrived at Le Havre at 0815 hrs and commenced offloading.

WO 95/4031/3           War Diary of Base Commandant, Havre

16 November 1917     SS Warilda embarks to United Kingdom

WO 95/4152/6           War Diary of SS Warilda

16 November 1917     2:15am            Anchored off Havre

1:0pm              Fastened at Quay

2:20pm            Commenced embarkation of 584 cases

4:45pm            Embarkation completed

7:30pm            Sailed for Southampton                     

17 November 1917     2:15am            Anchored off St Helens (I of W) due to fog

                                    10:00pm          Anchored in Southampton Waters

18 November 1917     1:00pm            Fastened up at quay

                                    1:15pm            Commenced disembarking 584 cases

                                    3:00pm            Disembarkation completed

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The War diaries of the Ambulance Trains at The National Archives are worth viewing as are the Diaries of No 20 CCS

 

 

I have 20 CCS' war diary but I haven't looked at any of the ambulance trains because there was a different train each time. It was interesting what you were able to find out about your Grandfather.

 

I took some 360 VR photos at Talbot House in the summer. That was quite a trip for you. 

 

I visited Boisleux at the weekend. 

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The muddy layout without any buildings, people, vehicles or trees or equipment. I want to put down some water and have been working on some trees that will probably be fitted next. The roads need some work too and I need to remove some mud from the dug-out fronts when I get a minute.

 

My Simplex kit arrived today for the TomyTec. 

 

  

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This is the recipe I used for mud: Brown wood filler, coloured with paint (tried 3 versions), PVA and Chinchilla dust (recommended by Kathy Millatt), for texture. It mixed well and gave what I felt was a good mud look. I need to use some lighter and darker shades here and there as well as add resin for puddles etc. I brushed the mud on then dabbed it to remove brush marks.

 

The trees are the Woodland Scenics you shape and trim. Usually one would add the leaves etc but this is the Western Front after the Germans blew everything up and there was shelling the first days the CCS was located here, when every patient was moved to shelter in the sunken lane. I have since trimmed more branches off and will add them over Christmas. I hope to work on my ruined buildings as I have some fireplaces to put in and then fix them in place so I can start to add rubble and possibly some broken rafters.

 

 

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I have done a few little jobs whilst suffering from a cold over Christmas (had to work too). I have put in the first bunch of trees. I am not too happy with some at the back but I might add more before deciding to pull some out. I also painted the 009 buffers white as they were in CCSs, added some leaded windows to my church (pews are next) and added some fake curtains to my Nissen huts. I then painted the underside white to help reduce light bleed. They were white inside.

 

 

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