Friday 30 September 2016

Day Ninety Two on the Somme

Saturday 30th September 1916: From our Correspondent in the Field

Today the 7th Bedfords have gone ack to rest billets a few miles away at Mailly-Maillet. Colonel Price has given me a list of officers and men recommended for decorations. Given the desperate nature of the fighting the list is a long one and appears below.

The Colonel, naturally a proud man, told me: “During the period mentioned in this diary the Battalion went into action on two occasions. The Morale of the Battalion was extremely high. The men fought with determination and skill, gained all their allotted objectives and received the highest praise from their Brigadier, Divisional Commander, Corps Commander, Army Commander and were especially congratulated by the General Officer Commanding, Sir Douglas Haig”. He then yold me that 8 officers and 210 men have been wounded and 101 are missing. The strength of the companies this evening is as follows: A 215; B 190; C 203; D 220. The Battalion as a whole has 25 Officers and 803 Other Ranks.

Officers recommended for awards are:
  • Second Lieutenant Tom Edwin Adlam – Victoria Cross(1)
  • Captain Leslie Howard Keep – Distinguished Service Order
  • Captain William Joseph Wellesley Colley - Distinguished Service Order
  • Second Lieutenant Harold Agnew Reaney - Distinguished Service Order(2)
  • Lieutenant Douglas Scrivener Howard Keep - Military Cross(3)
  • Captain John Henry Bridcutt - Military Cross(4)
  • Captain John Wright Turner - Military Cross
Other ranks recommended are:
  • 16176 Company Sergeant Major Richard Maurice Brand - Distinguished Conduct Medal(5)
  • 6466 Company Sergeant Major Charles Hall - Distinguished Conduct Medal
  • 15080 Lance Corporal Arthur William Harris - Distinguished Conduct Medal
  • 16540 Private George Goldhawk - Distinguished Conduct Medal
  • 21343 Sergeant Alfred Wyatt - Distinguished Conduct Medal
  • 14626 Lance Sergeant Albert Turville - Distinguished Conduct Medal
  • 15318 Private Alfred Pratt - Distinguished Conduct Medal(6)
  • 3/8402 Battalion Sergeant Major Frederick Antcliffe - Distinguished Conduct Medal
  • 15153 Private John James Winterbourne - Military Medal(7)
  • 17442 Private Albert Goodliff - Military Medal
  • 12615 Corporal Peter Relhorn - Military Medal
  • 14354 Private Arthur Frederick Baker - Military Medal
  • 43318 Private William Lewis - Military Medal(8)
  • 18267 Private Henry Brett - Military Medal
  • 14681 Private Albert Gilbert Bailey - Military Medal
  • 12735 Lance Sergeant George Frederick Cowling - Military Medal
  • 17317 Private Charles James Perkins - Military Medal
  • 15436 Private William Wall - Military Medal
  • 14878 Private Arthur James Palmer - Military Medal(9)
  • 14644 Private Harry Horgan - Military Medal
  • 16002 Private Jesse Meeks - Military Medal
  • 43293 Lance Corporal Thomas Fitzgerald - Military Medal
  • 9140 Private Henry Erskine - Military Medal
  • 14805 Lance Corporal Herbert John Gammons - Military Medal(10)
  • 15558 Lance Corporal John Joseph Cousins - Military Medal
  • 15684 Private William Sidney Mason - Military Medal
  • 8089 Sergeant Robert Hanson - Military Medal
  • 2/7597 Private William Inns - Military Medal
  • 43263 Private Robert Willacy - Military Medal(11)
  • 15044 Private Frank Bayford - Military Medal
All day the Germans have been trying to dislodge 18th Division from the Schwaben Redoubt but have not yet succeeded though some parts have been lost, others lost and retaken. No unit would relish giving up what has been won at such cost but parts have had to be given up by 8th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment and 7th Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment.

Source: X550/8/1

(1) Tom Adlams citation for his Victoria Cross reads: “A portion of a village which had defied capture on the previous day had to be captured at all costs to permit subsequent operations to develop. This minor operation came under very heavy machine gun and rifle fire. Second Lieutenant Adlam realising that time was all important, rushed from shell hole to shell hole under heavy fire collecting men for a sudden rush, and for this purpose also collected many enemy grenades. At this stage he was wounded in the leg, but nevertheless he was able to out-throw the enemy and then seizing his opportunity, and in spite of his wound, he led a rush, captured the position and killed the occupants. Throughout the day he continued to lead his men in bombing attacks. On the following day he again displayed courage of the highest order, and though again wounded and unable to throw bombs, he continued to lead his men. His magnificent example and valour, coupled with the skilful handling of the situation, produced far-reaching results”.
(2) Lieutenant Harold Agnew Reaney MC died of wounds on 27th July 1918 and buried at Priory Road Cemetery, Huntingdon
(3) Captain Douglas Scrivener Howard Keep MC was killed in action on 14th July 1917 and buried at Reninghelst New Military Cemetery
(4) Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Bridcutt DSO was killed in action leading 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles on 1st October 1918 and is buried at Dadizeele New British Cemetery
(5) Company Sergeant Major Richard M Brand DCM, MM was killed in action on 3rd May 1917 and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial
(6) Private Alfred Pratt MM was killed on 7th August 1917 and is buried at The Huts Cemetery
(7) Corporal James Winterbourne MM was killed on 3rd May 1917 and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial
(8) Private William Lewis MM was killed on 10th August 1917 and is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial
(9) Private Arthur James Palmer MM was killed on 6th September 1917 and is buried in Arneke Churchyard
(10) Private Herbert John Gammons MM was killed on 10th August 1917 and is buried in Hooge Crater Cemetery
(11) Sergeant Robert Willacy MM was killed on 13th March 1917 and is buried in Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont

Roll of Honour - 30th September 1916

Died of Wounds

7th Battalion
  • 12672 Corporal Alfred TIPPETT, born Shoreditch [London], resided Bow [London] (Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension)

8th Battalion

  • 22516 Private Archibald Thomas BETTS, 19, son of James and Selina Betts of Bletchley [Buckinghamshire] (Grove Town Military Cemetery, Méaulte)

Thursday 29 September 2016

Day Ninety One on the Somme

Friday 29th September 1916: From our Correspondent in the Field

All day your correspondent has been wondering about the fate of the 7th Bedfords at the Schwaben Redoubt. This eveing I have heard from Colonel Price: “At 7.15 last night the clearing up of a trench between Points 15 and 19 was taken in hand by a platoon of D Company under Lieutenant Douglas Keep (brother of Leslie)(1) but was held up by strong resistence on the enemy's part and a lack of bombs, and it was not until 9.30, when bombs and reinforcements were sent up that Lieutenant Keep managed to win through and join hands with a party of the West Yorkshires, who had been holding Point 19 and had established bombing stops in and around Point 39”.

“It was at 11.30 pm that the situation in the square formed by Points 22, 45, 19, 86, 95, 13 was showed that it was definitely held by our men, with bombing points round Point 39 and west of Point 86. All night there were constant bombing fights north of Point 45, the Boches coming out of their dug-outs in the second line. About midnight the trench between Points 45 and 19 was reinforced by men of D Company and some West Yorkshires, as it appeared to be too lightly held”.

“In order to ensure that the men, who were very weary, were kept on the alert the square above mentioned was continually patrolled by two officers in reliefs starting from 11.30 to 1 a.m. Captain Colley and Lieutenant Douglas Keep; 1 to 3 Lieutenant Brawn, Company Sergeant Major Hall; 3 to 5 Second Lieutenant Cartwright and Company Sergeant Major Brand”.

“Point 39 was held all night but was lost about the time the relief took place - the Boche making a strong counter-attack with bombs under cover of a smoke cloud. At 6 a.m. the 7th Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment relieved the Bedfords and the West Yorkshires, Lieutenant Keep taking B Company Royal West Kents up the trench between Points 86 and 19 with their right on Point 19 and Captain Leslie Keep taking C Company of the West Kents along the trench between Points 13-22-45-19. On arrival at Point 19 it was found Point 30 had been evacuated but a bombing point had been established along the trench between Points 19 and 39. Point 39 was held by bombers of the West Yorkshires under their Battalion Bombing Officer. Lieutenant Keep and Second Lieutenant Brawn personally saw to the relief and the posting of sentries in both trenches. Captain Keep did not leave the position until 9 a.m.”

The Colonel then went on to mention some good work by his adjutant: “During this attack Captain Bridcutt, who was observing the operations through a very excellent Boche periscope, noticed that the Boches had run down the front and intermediate trench between Points 91 and 29, had lined their parados and shot into the left flank of the advancing troops. All available men consisting of servants, runners, signallers etc. were lined up in front of the Battalion Head Quarters and commenced rapid fire into the flank of the Boche doing great execution and causing them to retire hastily”.

Second Lieutenant Thomas Percy Wilson

As I write this the Battalion is in the ruins of Thiepval serving as a reserve. It seems as if 43 officers and men were killed yesterday, or have since died of wounds. Added to the 51 men killed on 26th and 27th this makes a total of 94 for the two days – close to the casualty figure for their action on the 1st July. Four officers were killed yesterday: Second Lieutenant Cedric Howard of 10 Cutcliff Place, Bedford; Second Lieutenant Robert Hunston from Birmingham; Second Lieutenant Herbert Merchant from 134 Castle Street, Luton and Second Lieutenant Thomas Percy Wilson(2).

A number of congratulatory telegrams have been received. Sir Hubert Gough, commanding Reserve Army has written to Major-General Maxse, commanding 18th Division: “Congratulate you very heartily on success of today's attack as well as of previous operations. Reflects greatest credit on you and your troops”. The commander of II Corps has written: “The Corps Commander again thanks and congratulates all ranks of 18th Division on further gallant and successful work today. He specially commends the good organisation, training and Staff work displayed and the methodical and determined manner in which all orders and plans have been carried out and all prearranged objectives reached and consolidated”. Touchingly General Plumer, of 2nd Army, under whose command the division briefly fell after removing from the Somme at the end of July has written: “Many congratulations to you and your Division from Commander and Staff, Second Army”.

General Maxse has made it known to the division that the Commander-in-Chief himself, Sir Douglas Haig, called on him at his headquarters to congratulate the division on its success.

A vicious fight has been going on all day at the Schwaben Redoubt. 11th Division has made further attacks today, clearing most of Hessian Trench but failing to take Stuff Redoubt. 

Source: X550/8/1

(1) Douglas Keep would be killed at Zillebeke Lake near Ypres on 14th July 1917 and is buried in Reninghelst New Military Cemetery.
(2) Second Lieutenant Merchant’s body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. The other three are buried in Mill Road Cemetery.

Roll of Honour - 29th September 1916

Killed in Action

7th Battalion: Battle of the Somme: moving into reserve at Thiepval
  • 19875 Private Frank PEPPER, born Great Staughton [Huntingdonshire], resided Saint Neots [Huntingdonshire] (Thiepval Memorial)

Died of Wounds

7th Battalion
  • 15743 Lance-Corporal Thomas John HELEY, 33, born Leighton Buzzard, resided Luton, husband of Elizabeth of 305 Hitchin Road, Luton (Puchevillers British Cemetery)
  • 14302 Corporal Robert THORPE, 24, A Company, attached 5th Field Survey Company, Royal Engineers, son of Robert and Elizabeth Thorpe of Burford [Oxfordshire] (Acheux British Cemetery)

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Day Ninety on the Somme

Thursday 28th September 1916: From our Correspondent in the Field

Today has been a day of light rain but this has not prevented another attack by the Bedfords. Having seized Thiepval yesterday they were ordered to take part in another attack, this time on the Schwaben Redbout on a spur of land north of the village ruins. As Captain Bridcutt told me: “From early morning until 12 Noon every one was going at high pressure, preparing for another attack on the ground which included a very high ridge and a Redoubt called the Schwaben Redoubt to the North of Thiepval. At 12 Noon the Battalion was ready for this attack and disposed as follows: A and B were the assaulting companies, D Company was in a dug-out and C Company was Battalion Reserve”.

The attack got underway at 1 pm and much use was made of numbered points on the map to navigate. I am lucky enough to have a sketch plan of these points which I reproduce above and which may assist the reader to follow the action. Colonel Price took a moment from his ongoing exertions was kind enough to tell me what has happened: “In order to conform with the barrage, bombing stops and the forward line previously held were all brought back on the line 34, 33, 43, 83. A and B Companies were the assaulting companies and formed up on the line 34 to 83, their fourth line being between points 13-60. D Company, detailed as clearing-up company, formed up with the two assaulting companies. C Company, in support, were formed up on the roads 67-19, two machine guns were detailed with supporting Company. A Company, 5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, was used as a Battalion Reserve with the remaining three Companies in support of main attack”.

View from the front line to towards the Schwaben Redoubt on the crest of the ridge in the distance

“The forming up by mid-day was an exceedingly difficult operation as the trenches in question were in full view of the enemy and the light was very good. It was however successfully carried out”.

“The Artillery barrage which opened at 1 pm was very effective, very little enemy fire was met with until lifts in the barrage occurred. The waves followed the barrage very closely and went in beautiful formation until points 29 and 49 were reached”.

Line of attack by the right-hand platoons of the battalion

"A Company, on the right, made for the Cemetery and from thence to swing on to Market Trench but, unfortunately, the right platoon got knocked right out by machine gun fire from the Schwaben Redoubt before ever reaching Market Trench. The whole line from here on appears to have commenced to lay to the left - partly forced there by pressure of the Queen’s (West Surrey) Regiment, on their right. The supports hereabouts joined the assaulting Companies, who were suffering severely from machine gun fire”.

“From this point the Boches could be seen streaming away in full flight towards Saint-Pierre-Divion along trenches 19-63-54 and towards 69. About 2.30 Captain Keep arranged with an officer of the Queen’s to relieve him of trench 22-45 and his bomb stop in trench 45-19. About 3 pm the line 22-45 was taken over by Company Sergeant Major Brand(1) who had with him men of A Coy and West Yorkshires, the latter on the right. Sergeant Patterson of the West Yorks held Strong Point 45 with a platoon of his men”.

“After arranging with the Queen’s officer, Captain Keep hurried back to Point 86 and found that the party at Point 19 had fallen back towards Point 86 making a bombing stop half way up that trench. There was great confusion reigning at this time and the troops available had to be retold-off. Men of the West Yorkshire Regiment under Second Lieutenant Brawn were told off to hold the Line 19-86 with a bombing stop and line 19-63 while Second Lieutenant Cartwright with two Lewis guns and a Stokes mortar was put in charge of a strong point 50 yards west of Point 86. This point was immediately counter-attacked, but as quickly driven off(2)”.

“About 4 pm the shortage of Mills bombs and ammunition was acutely felt. Boche bombs from dugouts were of immense value. The situation at this point was somewhat precarious. It appeared as if the Queen’s had failed to reach point 65 and to clear the dug-outs in second line trench from that point to Point 45. From Point 45 to Point 19 the situation was uncertain except that we held points 45 and 19 but the intervening trench had not been exploited. No bombs were available to do this work”.

“The attack on extreme left advanced very quickly. They had flanking bombing parties posted forward which proved to be invaluable. The Lewis guns advanced on the left flank through Points 36, 29 and 22. Very few casualties or serious opposition were experienced until reaching Points 29, 49, 72”.

“At Point 29 the Boche had a machine-gun emplacement covered by a strong bombing party of some forty men. The flanking bombing party was held up and had to wait until the dug-out clearing party came to their assistance. It was here the first three waves suffered losses – Second Lieutenant Adlam(3) orgainsed a strong party, told the men to cheer and they charged the strong point with him as leader, in one big rush, overbore all resistance and completely wiped out the enemy. The Lewis Guns did great execution at this point. Two more strong points between Points 29 and 91 were taken at point of bayonet after a bomb preparation”.

“The situation hereafter became very difficult, as it was impossible to recognise any trenches owing to the intensity of the Artillery preparation which had obliterated everything. The final objective was almost impossible to locate accurately. This may account for parties of men over-reaching by far the final objective - some patrols pushing as far as Points 47 and 35. The final objective was held early on in the day and the whole of the Boche front line by parties of Lancashire Fusiliers, Bedfords and West Yorkshires”.

Of course the battle still goes on, particularly on the right hand section of the attack, but before turning his attention to events here the Colonel was able to give me a few of his views on the operations so far: “The whole of this operation was carried out with great dash, personal cases of daring bravery were very numerous. The taking of strong points with a determined rush came off every time”.

“The fact that there were two points numbered 45 led to great confusion and accounted for the lagging of the line away from what was, after all, the true objective - the Schwaben Redoubt. The fact that the right of the right attack was blotted out by machine gun fire may have led to the Queen’s filling-in the gap and causing them to lose their real line”.

“I am fully prepared to hold line won by us till day light tomorrow, or even later. The courage, resolution and endurance displayed by all ranks was quite wonderful. They were out to kill and the battlefield is a witness that they carried out to the full their intentions”.

As far as we can tell the southern and western faces of the Schwaben Redoubt are now in the hands of 18th Division. No doubt we can expect more fighting over night.

Today the area around the village of Morval has been handed over to the French 6th Army. In fact today has seen a number of the divisions which attacked on 25th relieved by new divisions, their work having been well done.

View from Cartwright's Post over the Ancre Valley

Source: X550/8/1

(1) Company Sergeant Major Richard Brand MM, DCM would be killed at Chérisy on 3rd May 1917 and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial.
(2) Second Lieutenant Henry Cartwright would be wounded at Chérisy but would survive the war. In his memoirs he expressed disappointment that he was not recommended for a Military Cross for his work on this day. He named his strong-point Cartwright’s Post.
(3) He would receive the Victoria Cross for this action and for his gallantry and initiative on the previous day’s attack.

Roll of Honour - 28th September 1916

Killed in Action

7th Battalion: Battle of the Somme: partially successful attack on the Schwaben Redoubt near Thiepval
  • 43370 Private Thomas Isaac ADAMS, 31, ex-20140 Northamptonshire Regiment, son of Isaac Adams of 45 Arthur Street, Kingsthorpe Hollow, Northampton, husband of Violet Cadd (ex-Adams) of 54 Regent Street, Northampton (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 22020 Corporal William ANDREWS, 17, born Hatfield [Hertfordshire], son of John and Beatrice Mary Andrews of 9 Kenneth Road, Luton (Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 43284 Private David William CHAPMAN, ex-4787 Northumberland Fusiliers, born Chelsea [London], resided Birkenhead [Cheshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 15754 Lance Corporal John COCHRANE, 28, born and resided Stepney [London], son of Mrs Cochrane of 24 Parnham Street, Limehouse [London] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 2/8441 Private George Albert COOPER, born and resided Huntingdon (Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 43365 Private John William DICKENS, 19, ex-10359 Northamptonshire Regiment, son of John William and Sarah Ann Dickens of 18 Wellington Street, Peterborough (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 43286 Private Sydney Herbert DOEL, 28, ex-26198 Middlesex Regiment, born Wellington [Somerset], resided Pentrechywth [Glamorgan], son of John Doel, husband of Elizabeth Olwen of 4 Gwindy Terrace, Pentrechywth (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 13301 Private Walter ELWOOD, born and resided Saint Albans [Hertfordshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 3/7677 Private George EVERSDEN, born Eltisley [Cambridgeshire], resided Saint Neots [Huntingdonshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 14808 Lance Corporal Martin Edgar FIELD, born and resided Henlow (Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 43291 Private Harry FISHER, ex-3/9734 East Surrey Regiment, born and resided Hersham [Surrey] (Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 16992 Private John GIDDINGS, 21, son of John and Elizabeth Giddings of Saint Edward Street, Leek [Staffordshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 43297 Private Austin GOODWIN, 22, ex-3/21276 York & Lancaster Regiment, son of Thomas and Annie E Goodwin of 341 Shoreham Street, Sheffield [Yorkshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 4/7002 Private John HEDGER, born Roe Green [Hertfordshire], resided Hatfield [Hertfordshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 3/7497 Corporal Walter Fred HODGE, 19, son of John and Sarah Hodge of Saint Mary's Street, Gamlingay [Cambridgeshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 14792 Private Joseph John HOLLOWAY, 22, A Company, born Camberwell [London], son of John William and Louisa Ann Holloway of 44 Cadmore Lane, Cheshunt [Hertfordshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • Temporary Second Lieutenant Cedric Stewart HOWARD, 22, son of Albert and Helen Alice Howard of 10 Cutcliff Place, Bedford (Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 43349 Private William HUMPHREY, 27, born Hertingfordbury [Hertfordshire], son of William and Alice Humphrey of 12 Birch Green [Hertfordshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 13742 Private Herbert William JAMES, 28, born Battersea [London], resided Fulham [London], husband of M A James of 4 Daphne Street, Wandsworth [London] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 15292 Private Arthur KINGHAM, born and resided Wingfield (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 18669 Lance Corporal Charles James MARDEL, 33, resided Tyttenhanger Green [Hertfordshire], son of Samuel and Fanny Mardel, husband of Mary of Tyttenhanger Green (Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 15158 Private Albert MARDLE, born and resided Letty Green [Hertfordshire] (Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 3/8751 Sergeant Walter MARSHALL, born Little Staughton, resided Great Staughton [Huntingdonshire], brother of Alfred Marshall of Crown Farm Cottages, Great Staughton (Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 4/7289 Lance Corporal Walter MILES, 32, born Wydial [Hertfordshire], son of Thomas and Eliza Miles of Buntingford [Hertfordshire], husband of Emma A of Meeting Alley, Baldock Lane, Buntingford (Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 43320 Private Charles Henry MILLER, ex-11546 East Surrey Regiment, born Battersea [London], resided Tooting [London] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 14405 Private James MIMMS, 24, son of William and Sarah Ann Mimms of 11 Peach Street, Luton (Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 14872 Private Ernest Arthur PARSONS, 19, born Lambeth [London], son of G S Parsons of 64 Branksome Road,Acre Lane, Brixton [London] (Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 27836 Private Thomas PAYNE, 32, born and resided Sandy, son of John and Sarah Payne, husband of Dorothy of London Road, Sandy (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 4/7178 Private William James PEARCE, 22, born Sunningdale [Berkshire], son of John and Emley Pearce of 27 Blays Lane, Englefield Green [Surrey] (Cérisy-Gailly French National Cemetery)
  • 16427 Corporal Robert Walter QUARTERMASS, 27, son of John and Henrietta Quartermass of Bods End Farm, Hemel Hempstead [Hertfordshire], husband of Mary Louisa of 56 High Street, Berkhamsted [Hertfordshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 18202 Private Frank Charles ROBINSON, 28, son of Robert and Sarah Robinson of Linslade [Buckinghamshire], husband of Grace Lily of  Stanbridge (Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 43333 Private John Henry ROLLINS, ex-15922 Lincolnshire Regiment, born Oldingham [Lincolnshire], resided Coleby [Lincolnshire], husband of Emma of 25 Victoria Street, West Parade, Lincoln (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 16208 Sergeant Reginald Walter SHEPHERD, 26, born Weston [Suffolk], son of Robert and Blanche Shepherd of 12 Fredericks Road, Beccles [Suffolk] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 15312 Lance Corporal Frederick William SMITH, 23, born Ponder’s End [Middlesex], resided North Hyde [Middlesex] son of Emily E Smith  (Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 15465 Corporal Herbert Walter TURNER, born and resided Saint Albans [Hertfordshire] (Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 26230 Private John George WEBB, 24, son of Luther and Margaret A Webb of Denford [Northamptonshire] (Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • Temporary Second Lieutenant Thomas Percy WILSON (Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval)

9th Battalion
  • Temporary Second Lieutenant Herbert George MERCHANT, 22, attached 7th Battalion, son of James H and Maude Merchant of 134 Castle Street, Luton (Thiepval Memorial)

10th Battalion
  • Temporary Second Lieutenant Robert Donald HUNSTON, 21, attached 7th Battalion, son of Robert George Laskey and Helen Hunston of 32 Hallewell Road, Edgbaston [Warwickshire] (Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval)

Died of Wounds

1st Battalion
  • 27807 Lance Corporal Arthur Joseph PORTER, 37, born and resided Flitton (Grove Town Cemetery, Méaulte)
  • 20132 Private Frederick PURDY, 27, son of William and Elizabeth Maria Purdy of The Willows, Great Bentley [Essex] (Grove Town Cemetery, Méaulte)

7th Battalion
  • 15027 Corporal Richard HICKS, born and resided Wendover [Buckinghamshire] (Contay British Cemetery)
  • 20817 Private Edward HILL, born and resided Barton-le-Clay (Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension)


8th Battalion
  • 16930 Private Jack LISLES, born and resided Datchworth [Hertfordshire], son of Mrs Lisles of 9 Brampton Park Road, Hitchin [Hertfordshire] (Datchworth (All Saints) Churchyard)

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Day Eighty Nine on the Somme

Wednesday 27th September 1916: From our Correspondent in the Field

This morning I received some splendid news from the adjutant of the 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, Captain Bridcutt. Readers will remember that yesterday 54th Brigade of 18th Division seized a good part of the fortress village of Thiepval: “The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel G. D. Price and I arrived at the Chateau in Thiepval. After conferring with Lieutenant-Colonel Maxwell, 12th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, commanding the scattered portions of the three battalions (12th Middlesex, 11th Royal Fusiliers and 6th Northamptonshires) Colonel Price decided to attack the untaken portion of Thiepval - the north-western part of the village. Dispositions for the attack were as follows C and D Companies, commanded by Captains Leslie Keep and Mulligan respectively, were detailed for the assault which was to be carried out in two waves with C Company on the right and D Company on the left. A and B Companies were sheltered close at hand in German dug-outs. Zero was fixed for 5.30 a.m.”

Captain T R J Mulligan

“The morning was extremely dark and the assaulting companies had great difficulty in forming up for the attack on the correct alignment. At about 5.45 all was ready and a few minutes later the two waves advanced, sweeping across the untaken portion of ground and the enemy trenches. Two machine-guns and a good deal of rifle fire opened from the enemy's lines but our troops continued to advance and in a short time were in possession of the German trenches on the north-western face of Thiepval. Captain Mulligan and Second Lieutenant Potts fell, badly wounded but during the action 36 prisoners were taken and about a hundred Germans killed by rifle fire and bayonets”.

“This action, though apparently small, was of the utmost importance as without the whole of the Village of Thiepval and the trenches surrounding it being captured, the whole line of attack was held up. So to the 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment (especially C and D Companies) belongs the honour and glory of the final destruction of one of the Germans’ strongest positions and one which they had boasted could never be taken”.

“Our casualties were 2 officers above mentioned and about 110 other ranks in the above action. The other three battalions of the 54th Brigade, who made yesterday’s attack on Thiepval, had been withdrawn to cover in our support area”. If Captain Bridcutt sounded elated he can be forgiven. The Battalion, and the division more widely, has achieved something of note today, the equal of its successes on the first day of the battle and at Trônes Wood.

I have since learned that of just over one hundred men wounded, 51 have been killed today, with two having died last night in moving up to support the brigade attack. A number of others will likely not survive the day. An officer killed, not mentioned by the adjutant, is Second Lieutenant Ian Ross-Taylor from Essex. Lieutenant Henry Potts is very gravely wounded and has been moved back to a hospital near Boulogne(1).

This evening Captain Bridcutt has been back in touch. It looks as if the battalion will be called on again tomorrow to attack one of the three redoubts which lie near Thiepval from north to east – Schwaben Redoubt to the north. This promises to be a more dangerous operation than the taking of the village.

This afternoon 11th Division, having taken Mouquet Farm yesterday but failed to take another of these redoubts – Zollern Redoubt, tried again. Evidently they had done considerabe damage in their attack yesterday as they found the place empty and have gladly occupied it. No doubt the seizure of Thiepval also contributed to this evacuation as the place was then outflanked. They have also attacked the third of the redoubts, which lies just north of Zollern Redoubt – Stuff Redoubt. An attack here this morning filed but this afternoon 9th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment attacked alone. This can be disastrous but to the Yorkshiremen’s credit they have obtained a toehold on the southern face of the redoubt. An hour later another Yorkshire unit – 6th Battalion Green Howards, who had been due to attack with the West Yorkshires, took eighty or so prisoners in a nearby trench and joined their colleagues at the south face of the redoubt.

The Canadians have been involved in heavy fighting south of Le Sars over a trench called Kenora Trench, which is an eastern extension of the Regina Trench mentioned yesterday.

Elsewhere 55th (West Lancashire) Division have taken another section of Gird Trench, north-west of Gueudecourt, the village which fell yesterday. The Germans still hold part of this trench, where it joins with another called Goose Alley. 1st Division and 23rd Division have also made small gains today.

Source: X550/8/1

(1) He would die on 1st October and is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery.

Roll of Honour - 27th September 1916

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: Battle of the Somme: in bivouacs near The Citadel
  • 3/6920 Private John HORNE, 24, born and resided Leighton Buzzard (Citadel New Military Cemetery, Fricourt)
  • 4/7302 Private John MANNING, born Sandon [Hertfordshire], resided Hitchin [Hertfordshire] (Citadel New Military Cemetery, Fricourt)
  • 16507 Private Arthur RAYNER, 38, son of William and Mary Ann Rayner of Gilbey's Yard, Therfield [Hertfordshire] (Citadel New Military Cemetery, Fricourt)

7th Battalion: Battle of the Somme: successful clearance and capture of the last remaining part of Thiepval in German hands
  • 15856 Private Frederick ANDREWS, born and resided Flamstead [Hertfordshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 18255 Corporal Herbert ARNOTT, 21, son of James and Elizabeth Arnott of 29 Bury Hill, Hemel Hempstead [Hertfordshire]; husband of Winifred May Sear (ex-Arnott) of 54 Cotterall's Road, Hemel Hempstead (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 16193 Lance Corporal Arthur Edward ATKINS, 21, son of Arthur and Emily Atkins of 3 Neal Street, Watford [Hertfordshire] (Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 25979 Private Leonard John BAYFORD, 38, son of Elizabeth Bayford of Little Hadham [Hertfordshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 14671 Private William BENNETT, born Thelbridge [Devon], resided Shobrooke [Devon] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 15201 Private William Charles BILLINGTON, 32, son of Charles and Jane Billington of Mount Pleasant, Aspley Guise (Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 14910 Private William BLACKMORE, 46, son of George and Eliza Blackmore, born Saint Paul's [Bristol], resided Reading [Berkshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 17102 Private Richard BOWERS, 24, born Elsworth [Cambridgeshire], son of John and Jane Bowers of Fenstanton [Huntingdonshire] (Ancre British Cemetery, Beaumont-Hamel)
  • 15319 Lance Corporal John Walter BROWN, 26, born Westminster [London], son of Mercy Brown of 9 V Block, Peabody Avenue, Ebury Bridge, Pimlico [London] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 15435 Private William BROWN, 19 son of James and Sarah Brown of 4 Dove Dale Place, Sudbury [Middlesex] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 2810 Lance Corporal Charles William CANHAM, born Odell, son of Thomas W and Hannah Canham of 10 Lancaster Road, Kettering [Northamptonshire]; his brother Thomas Ernest Canham also fell (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 25626 Private Walter CARTER, 21, son of Ernest and Elizabeth Carter of Upper Green, Wakes Colne [Essex] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 22040 Private Edward COWLAND, 34, son of John and Jane Cowland of Blue Houses, Colney Heath [Hertfordshire] (Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 15045 Private Frederick CRACKNELL, 20, son of Thomas Cracknell of 11 Galley Wall Road, Bermondsey London] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 19816 Private Reuben DEIGHTON, 20, son of Reuben and Judith Deighton of Ivy Cottage, Lower Dean, resided Kimbolton [Huntingdonshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 14060 Private Frederick Thomas DORRELL, 22, born and resided Borden [Kent], son of Frederick William Dorrell of 22 Laburnum Place, Sittingbourne [Kent] (Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 23198 Private Frank Henry EDWARDS, born Saint John's Wood [London], resided West Hampstead [London] (Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 12830 Private William ELLIOT, 21, son of Walter Ramsey and Elizabeth Elliot of Nursery House, Brampton [Huntingdonshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 43366 Private William EVANS, ex-8921 Northamptonshire Regiment, born and resided Kettering [Northamptonshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 15400 Company Sergeant Major Arthur FOUNTAIN MM, 35, born Markyate [Hertfordshire], resided Luton, son of William Richard and Sarah Ann Fountain (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 43292 Private Walter George FUDGE, ex-10219 Hampshire Regiment, born and resided Southampton [Hampshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 3/7722 Private Ernest William FURR, born Stopsley, resided Luton (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 4/6949 Lance Corporal Frederick GLADDING, 19, A Company, born Chapmore End [Hertfordshire], son of J Gladding of Wengeo Common, Ware [Hertfordshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 14225 Private James GURNEY, born and resided Wiggington [Hertfordshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 15817 Private Horace HARRIS, 26, son of Sarah Harris of Flint Cottage, Flamstead [Hertfordshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 43261 Sergeant Alfred HART, 23, ex-8361 Suffolk Regiment, son of Mary Elizabeth Hart of Silver Street, Willingham [Cambridgeshire] (Mill Road Cemetery, Thiepval
  • 3/7665 Private John Frederick HIGGS, 20, born Stepney [London], son of G E and Mary Higgs of 23 Boleyn Road, East Ham [Essex] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 14683 Sergeant Leonard James HILL, born Little Missenden [Buckinghamshire], resided Harpenden [Hertfordshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 17450 Private Albert Victor HUNT, born Homerton [London], resided East Ham [Essex] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 13667 Private John JORDAN, born and resided Little Downham [Cambridgeshire] (Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 43369 Private John Norman KNOWLES, ex-17333 Northamptonshire Regiment, born and resided Chatteris [Cambridgeshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 14614 Private Percy LANE, born Colshill [Buckinghamshire], resided Luton (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 43351 Private Albert Victor LEE, resided Ware [Hertfordshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 16777 Private Richard Charles MITCHELL, 28, son of Richard Charles and Annie Mitchell of 8 Bomore Road, Notting Hill [London] (Conaught Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 43324 Private Percy NICE, ex-14293 Suffolk Regiment, born and resided Acton [Suffolk] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 43326 Private Frederick Hinton OLDFIELD, 29, ex-3/9946 East Surrey Regiment, born Peckham [London], son of Hinton and Mary Oldfield of 70 Hamilton Road, Wimbledon [Surrey] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 15357 Private Charles Henry PEARCE, born Hastings [Sussex], resided Westminster [London] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 22192 Private Horace PUTMAN, ex-5275 Machine Gun Corps, resided Millbrook (Thiepval Memorial)
  • Temporary Second Lieutenant Ian Henry Munro ROSS-TAYLOR, son of James Walter and Charlotte Gray Ross-Taylor of Lamarsh [Essex], born Madras [India] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 23790 Private William Herbert SEWARD, born and resided Easton [Huntingdonshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 27815 Lance Corporal Fred SHELFORD, 27, son of Joseph and M Shelford of 35 Albert Street, Stevenage [Hertfordshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 15413 Private Harry SYLVESTER, born Islington [London], resided Toddington (Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 14692 Private Victor Charles TAYLOR, born and resided Little Hallingbury [Essex] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 23663 Private Frederick Abraham TERRY, 24, son of F and M Terry of 20 Walmer Place, Marylebone [London] (Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 27859 Private Joseph William TOMPKINS, born Syresham [Northamptonshire], resided Hadley Wood [Hertfordshire] (Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont)
  • 43346 Lance Corporal Harry WARNER, ex-2273 Cambridgeshire Regiment, born and resided Wisbech [Cambridgeshire] (Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval)
  • 19171 Private Sidney WATERTON, born and resided Berkhamsted [Hertfordshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 27905 Lance Corporal Charles Jesse WHITTAKER, 33, born Abbots Langley [Hertfordshire], son of Jesse and Louisa Whittaker of 10 Railway Terrace, King’s Langley [Hertfordshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 27884 Private John Henry WILLIAMS, 28, son of Mrs A C Gibbs of 19 Oliver Street, Ampthill (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 16995 Lance Corporal George WINFIELD, 29, born and resided Watford [Hertfordshire], son of George and Lucy Winfield (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 27830 Private Percy Harry WRIGHT, 21,son of Arthur and Jane Wright of London Road, Sandy; husband of Helen Mary of 2 Pym's Cottages, Bedford Road, Sandy (Thiepval Memorial)

Died of Wounds

7th Battalion:
  • 14796 Private Oliver Samuel BURGE, born Wells [Somerset], resided Frome [Somerset] (Aveluy Wood Cemetery (Lancashire Dump), Mesnil-Martinsart)

8th Battalion
  • 22068 Private William Arthur COOK son of William George and Sarah Ann Cook of Berkhamsted [Hertfordshire], resided Little Gaddesden [Hertfordshire] (Grove Town Cemetery, Méaulte)


5th Battalion
  • 6668 Private William Baker ELGEE, born Camberwell [London], resided Manor Park [Essex] (Harrowgate (Harlow Hill) Cemetery)

Monday 26 September 2016

Day Eighty Eight on the Somme

Tuesday 26th September 1916: From our Correspondent in the Field

Today the attacks of yesterday have continued, albeit at a more local level. But the principal action today has taken place on the great bastion of German defenses on the Somme, Thiepval Ridge. Without this place being captured any meaningful advance towards Bapaume is impossible, as it dominates the whole battlefield. We have heard from the adjutant of the 7th Bedfords, Captain Bridcutt, that they are likely to have a hand in this struggle, but more of that later.

Another major advance took place today on the Somme, a fine, clear day with temperatures in the low seventies. 56th (London) Division took the northern end of Bouleaux Wood and met up with the French at Combles which they then took, adding another village to the trophy list for this long battle. On their left 21st Division took the village of Gueudecourt along with the dismounted 19th Lancers from 1st Indian Cavalry Division. 

The capture of Gueudecourt is another very important event but your correspondent hopes that readers will forgive him if he now concentrates on events around Thiepval. The attacking forces here, from east to west were: the Canadians between Courcelette and Mouquet Farm, 11th Division around Mouquet Farm and 18th (Eastern) Division at Thiepval itself.

The Canadians attacked just after midday and advanced their line by about 1,000 yards north. This evening they are dug-in, expecting a counter–attack. They are just short of a main German defensive position called they have dubbed Regina Trench after the principal city in Saskatchewan.

11th Division have finally completed the capture of Mouquet Farm, begun by the Australians on 14th August, so to that division belongs the glory of achieving something the Antipodeans could not quite manage. Most of the ruins above ground had been taken but it was the cellars and dug-outs beneath that restricted capture and here a subterranean battle has been fought through the day with the 6th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment (Pioneers) completing the capture and taking over fifty prisoners into the bargain. The rest of the division was less successful as they ran into a very strongly fortified German position called Zollern Redoubt north of Mouquet Farm. The division has suffered very large numbers of casualties owing to this redoubt.

There are three of these redoubts that ring Thiepval from the east (Zollern) to the north. That to the north of Thiepval is called Schwaben Redoubt and that between Schwaben and Zollern is named Stauffen, or Stuff, Redoubt.

The village of Thiepval has held out against attacks ever since 1st July and today it has been attacked again. 18th Division, of course, were one of only two divisions to achieve all their objectives on the opening day of this battle so to them has fallen that enormous task of finally taking Thiepval. 53rd Brigade made an attack from the south and manage to advance as far as Zollern Trench which runs eastwards from Thiepval and this trench they took.

7th Bedfords formed the reserve for the attack by 54th Brigade. This attack was conducted on a very narrow front- just 300 yards, the right flank resting on the road from Thiepval to Authuille, and involved going up the slope south-west of the village. The attack was held up by machine gun fire from the ruins of the château which lay directly in the men’s path, but then a “tank” arrived and managed to keep the machine-gunners heads down long enough for the position to be taken. This evening a large part of the village is in the brigade’s hands with the northern part still holding out. Captain Bridcutt mentioned to me a few minutes ago that this looks as if it will be the Bedfords’ task for tomorrow – the final capture of the village of Thiepval.

Source: X550/8/1