Monday 5 September 2016

Day Sixty Seven on the Somme

5th September 1916: From our Correspondent in the Field

The adjutant of 1st Bedfords tells me that things are now quiet around Falfemont Farm which was finally captured in the early hours of this morning. A great triumph. Tersely he told me: “We buried all our dead”. These amounted to 17 officers and men on 3rd September and 45 yesterday. Local fatalities came from Biggleswade, Bletsoe, Clifton, Houghton Regis, Luton, Maulden, Toddington, Woburn Sands and Wootton.

Lieutenant Addison Howard

The name most recognised will be that of Lieutenant Addison James Howard, of Kempston Grange, who only joined the battalion a few days ago. He was just 23. I was told that his cousin, Second Lieutenant Douglas Howard, who was alongside him, reported that he was killed instantaneously by one of our own shells yesterday morning(1). Second Lieutenant Douglas Howard himself was wounded a few hours later by a bullet to the chest and two more in a shoulder and is now in hospital at Abbeville.

Second Lieutenant Douglas Howard

Lieutenant Addison Howard was born in April 1893 at Kempston Grange. He was educated at Bedford Grammar School, 1901-1911, where he was in the Officer's Training Corps. Subsequently he went to King's College, Cambridge and there took a Second Class Honours degree in the Mechanical Science Tripos in 1914. Immediately before the close of the term at Cambridge he was seized with illness and had to undergo a serious operation. During his convalescence he was in charge of munition work in his father's works and showed great skill as a mechanician and engineer. He was named after his two grandfathers Mr James Howard MP and Colonel Addison Potter CB and we can only lament that a career which was commenced under such distinguished auspices has been abruptly terminated. His colonel told me: "He was temporarily commanding a company. No one could have handled the men better during an attack the Battalion made on September 3rd, over 1,000 yards under machine gun and shell fire. He had them well together, consolidated, pushed out patrols, took a German prisoner and sent in a series of model reports. He was a first-rate officer and is a very great loss to the Battalion. I need hardly say he was very popular among all ranks".

Second Lieutenant Douglas Howard of the 3rd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, is the only son of Mr and Mrs John Howard Howard of Clapham Park. He was given his commission in October 1915 after leaving Harrow in the previous July. He was a member of the Harrow School OTC for about four years. Mr Douglas Howard did all his training at Landguard Camp, Felixstowe and went to the Front about a fortnight before he was wounded.

Today more attacks have been launched at Devil’s Wood under covering fire from field artillery at fairly close quarters. We understand that two companies have managed to dig-in on the eastern edge.

This afternoon 5th Division, though not 1st Bedfords, have launched an attack on Leuze Wood (generally known as Lousy Wood by Tommy Atkins) and the high ground south and east of Ginchy, particularly around the Ginchy Telegraph, on the highest point of the ridge. There seem to be no Germans in the wood so this attack may do well.

Source: X550/2/5; Bedfordshire Times

(1) He is buried in Guillemont Road Cemetery.

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