Friday 20 January 2017

Missing on Patrol

Lieutenant Fleming [X550/1/82]

Saturday 20th January 1917

The adjutant of the 6th Battalion, in the front line at le Touret near Neuve-Chapelle, reports that our artillery has been busy cutting the enemy’s fire with bursts of shrapnel. The enemy has been fairly quiet but Second Lieutenant Mattey and Sergeant Hunter, who went out on a patrol have not return and they are feared captured or killed. Lieutenant Fleming and a non-commissioned officer went out to look for them but could find no sign(1)

Postscript: rumour has reached the army of a serious explosion at an ammunition factory in London last evening. There are said to be many casualties and people are comparing it with the accident in America last week and wondering if German agents have been active in both places(2)

Source: X550/7/1

(1) Second Lieutenant Charles Percival Mattey’s date of death is given as 22nd January 1917 by Commonwealth War Graves Commission suggesting that he may have died as a prisoner-of war. He is buried in Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery at Souchez. No man named Hunter died with the 6th Battalion.
(2) Just before 7 pm on 19th January 1917 an explosion at a munitions factory in Silvertown, West Ham [Essex] killed 73 people and injured 400 more, enemy action was never proved and seems unlikely - the dangers of munitions factories were legion and explosions relatively common. The explosion on USA took place on 12th January.

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