Gurney Overlay Detailing Possible Trench
The estimated Machine gun from the overlay, ie the position suggested by the Gurney sketch, indicates the position to be at the top of the incline as shown in the photograph in previous page.
Bearing in mind sketch error just forward of the estimated Machine gun position by overlay is what appears to be a trench. This is highly unlikely to be a coincidence. I have marked this line in brown
Gurney aslo confirmed that the length of the trench was 100yds. The actual measurement as shown in the overlay by the brown line is 97 yards, quite close I supppose.
Above photograph taken from south end of trench looking northwards, Madrid being on the horizon, Suicide hill to the left , Conical Hill further to the left top and the Jarama valley below to the top.
'Fry had kept his men busily working all through the morning cutting a trench and setting up positions for his guns. They had no tools or sand-bags but somehow or other, using bayonets as picks and tin helmets as shovels, they had dug themselves in to a reasonably safe fortification about a hundred yards long and around the edge of the plateau. They had worked out fields of fire and calculated the siting of their guns to a nicety'.
I walked across the land between the Sunken Road and to the rear of the incline. The land has been recently 'raked' and is soft underneath. I spoke with one of the workers and he said they were thinking of planting olive trees in the area, this would be as it was in 37.
On reaching the incline I turned to the left and walked forward around the front of the protrusion in a north direction. First thing I noticed was the view. An excellent view looking down on all the westward lying features, very commanding indeed. Suicide Hill, Conical Hill, San Martin Road, various knolls to the right and the Jarama valley in the distance.
In front of me was a trench like line heading off in a northwards direction. The beginning of this trench today is no more than 18'' depth at the beginning. The ground is mainly hard sand with a number of small stones. Easy enough to dig, I tried, but time consuming. Walking along the trench the towards the north it gets deeper. The ground is more soft sand and easier to dig. At the north end are a couple of large holes dug in to the line of the trench towards the east, towards the Republican lines. This may have been carried out at a later date however the ground here is very easy to excavate.
Looking north towards end of trench at north location. Top of stone wall middle centre in line with trench direction.
As I walked along the trench ended abruptly at a stone wall. In 'English Captain' there's a reference to a conversation, after the Civil War, between Wintringham and 'Yank' Levy assessing the loss of the Machin gun coy. Levy suggested that if the trench of the machine gun company had extended further north and supposedly eastwards beyond a stone wall they would have been able to protect their own flank. As it turned out the trench was constructed only as far as the stone wall and depended on Overton to protect the flank. With Overton retreating to the Sunken Road the Machine gun trench was vulnerable to attack from the north side flank and from above and behind. Coincidentally there is a stone wall at the north end of the trench.
Looking south from end of trench at north end with stone wall marking end of trench.
See HERE for Levy description of attack on MG trench with a reference to stone wall. Extract from English Captain, Tom Wintringham.
Copeman also refers to the stone wall-
Running back I found Fry, the Company Commander, and his guns stationed on the high ground behind a wall, overlooking the valley we were in, but without ammunition.
And here's 'Yank' Levy's experience-
Looking towards south at north end of trench. Wall as above immediately to the left, Casa Blanca Hill, Conical Hill to right. Appears to be remnants of stone defensive wall facing towards direction of enemy attack. Stones probably taken from wall.
The photograph above shows the only section with a stone defensive wall to the front. The trench is also deeper at this end compared to the south end. There may have been further excavations or weather influence post 37 however the dugout positions appear similar to other excavated positions for Machinegun position (looking at old photographs that is !)
I believe it is possible that the centre of No. 2 Company, Machine Gun position on February 1937, is located at 40.218 degrees north and 3.504 degrees west. I may be wrong but I doubt it.