Monday 15 September 2014

A Day in Missy

Tuesday 15th September 1914: The adjutant of 1st Bedfords reports that they have spent the day in Missy in support of the front line. They were heavily shelled with high explosives about midday and also came under rifle fire. One officer was killed, two wounded and around thirty five other ranks also became casualties.

Our contact with the battalion reports: “Up again at 4.45 am and managed with the faithful Drummer Chequer to brew some cocoa. We also shared some tobacco. I had none and Chequer had a few scrapings so we made it up with brown paper. I had never so longed for something to smoke so much before”. Making his way to Brigade Headquarters he reports: “They shelled and sniped us all the time and the General stuck his red hat on a stick and got it peppered!”.

“I went up to the front to see what was doing in an interval and was quite close to Johnnie Ker who was sitting on a bank. He got up and stretched himself and yawned saying that he was tired of it all and wanted a good sleep when a sniper shot him through the head and he died at once. Almost at the same time, if not with the same bullet, H. Courtenay was hit in the eye but not killed. It was an awful blow losing poor little Johnnie”[1].

“Sniping was getting pretty bad and the Germans very wily about it all, putting up their dead in position for us to shoot at and act as decoys. The battalion then held the line of the light railway and the edge of the village”. He went to the hospital to check on the wounded and returned to his command: “and was told in the darkness by some man that I had been killed during the day!”

“We then made arrangements to bury poor Johnnie and McCloughin[2] in the orchard, just south of the village and near the light railway. They were buried at 9 pm and the Brigade Interpreter, who was a Church of England parson in Paris, took the service”

Sources: X550/2/5; X550/2/7

[1] Hugh Courtenay would be killed on 23rd August 1918 as Lieutenant-Colonel, serving with the battalion, aged just thirty.
[2] This looks like an error as McCloughin did not die for another three days! Perhaps the other burial was Private Gibson, the other deaths with the battalion on that day having no known grave.

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