Wednesday 1 October 2014

Burial Party

Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers cap badge

Thursday 1st October 1914: Our contact with the 1st Bedfords reports a gruesome discovery. He had taken advantage of thick fog to go into No-Man’s Land to look at his trench from the front to see if improvements could be made. “On my way out I found a trail of English rifles and equipment. I followed the trail up and about 300 yards out came upon the bodies of about seven dead men who had all obviously been killed by a shell and they all had their rifles sighted at 800 yards”.

“They were lying in all sorts of positions and several were in a ditch which was half full of water and they were half covered. They all belonged to different regiments, mostly Inniskilling Fusiliers, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry etc. They had evidently been dead several weeks and how they got there we did not really know, unless it was on the original day of the attack on the Aisne on 13/14 September. I then went back and collected a burying party and we started to try and identify and bury them”.

“They were, however, all too far gone to touch with safety, although Sergeant Barber[1] managed to remove one identity disc from one man and it bore the name “Walsh RIF”[2]. The others we had to leave and so cut off pieces of their clothing where the regimental number could be found and also took their rifles, haversacks and other equipment in the hope of tracing them. We collected all together about forty rifles and a host of equipment and started burying. In the middle the fog suddenly cleared and we were almost immediately spotted and fired at. I ordered a hurried retreat and we had to leave the job unfinished for the time and got back to our trench”.

Source: X550/2/7

[1] This may be Sergeant Edwin Barber who died on 29th June 1916 with the 1st Battalion. He was 23 and came from Haynes. He is buried in Avesnes-le-Comte Communal Cemetery Extension.

[2] This must have been 9065 Private Charles Walsh of 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who was killed on 13th September. He was 26 and came from Blackburn [Lancashire]. His grave is now lost and he is commemorated on the la Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial. His battalion seems to have lost one officer and eight other ranks on that day. 

No comments:

Post a Comment