Friday 31 March 2017

War Games

Saturday 31st March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

The 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, though behind the lines at Steenbecque, south-west of Hazebrouck are not idle. They have been practising the actions necessary when fighting as outposts in a battle. This morning A Company practised this in the open whilst B Company practised defence of a village.

In addition the Battalion has been finding ceremonial guards. At lunchtime they practised march discipline and learning march routine. They then had their rifles inspected by the Armourer Sergeant. To round this off they played football and other outdoor games this afternoon.

Source: X550/8/1

Thursday 30 March 2017


 Second Lieutenant C Shekury [X550/1/81]

Friday 30th March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

Two officers of the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, have been awarded the Military Cross for their actions in the recent advance from Agny to Mercatel and for patrols undertaken on 16th March. The two men concerned are Second Lieutenant A Stone and Second Lieutenant C Shekury(1).

Second Lieutenant A Stone [X550/1/81]

Over the last few days two more officers have joined 4th Bedfords. Second Lieutenant Bloodworth arrived on 28th and Second Lieutenant Scott arrived today.

Sources: X550/3/WD; X550/5/3

(1) Lieutenant Cecil Shekury MC would be killed on 16th April 1918, he is buried in Canada Farm Cemetery near Ypres. 

Roll of Honour - 30th March 1917

Killed in Action

5th Battalion
  • Temporary Lieutenant Reginald Norman BALDING, 22, attached Machine Gun Corps, son of Rev J W Balding of 41 Chatsworth Road, Croydon [Surrey] (Basra Memorial)


52nd (Graduated) Battalion
  • TR/9/6430 Private George HOLDRICH or HOLDICH born and resided Somersham [Huntingdonshire] (Dovercourt (All Saints) churchyard)

Wednesday 29 March 2017

The Battle of Gaza - Official Version

The Battle of Gaza from The Official History of the Great War

Thursday 29th March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

We hear today that General Sir Archibald Murray and Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Dobell have sent communiqués about the Battle of Gaza to the War Office. Sir Archibald said: "We have advanced our troops a distance of fifteen miles from Rafa to the Wadi Ghuzzee, five miles west of Gaza, to cover the construction of the railway. On the 26th and 27th we were heavily engaged east of Gaza with a force of about 20,000 of the enemy. We inflicted very heavy losses upon him ... All troops behaved splendidly”.
Sir Charles wrote: “This action has had the result of bringing the enemy to battle, and he will now undoubtedly stand with all his available force in order to fight us when we are prepared to attack. It has also given our troops an opportunity of displaying the splendid fighting qualities they possess. So far as all ranks of the troops engaged were concerned, it was a brilliant victory, and had the early part of the day been normal victory would have been secured. Two more hours of daylight would have sufficed to finish the work the troops so magnificently executed after a period of severe hardship and long marches, and in the face of most stubborn resistance”(1).

(1) First Battle of Gaza was a defeat for Murray and Dobell who here seem to be putting the best face possible on it. Communications were muddled and poor resulting in delay (as acknowledged by Dobell above). The day could have been a victory had the commanders had the confidence to continue their attack beyond dusk as Gaza may have been on the point of falling, but poor light and fear of substantial Turkish reinforcements on the way resulted in a withdrawal, gaining nothing. The calling off of the attack has been described as an exercise in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Roll of Honour - 29th March 1917

Killed in Action

8th Battalion: in support near Loos, 75 men on work for the Brigade
  • 33806 Private George KIRBY, 38, born Wilburton [Cambridgeshire], son of James and Sarah Ann Kirby, husband of Kate of 9 Capell Hamlet, Chorley Wood [Hertfordshire] (Maroc British Cemetery, Grenay)

Tuesday 28 March 2017

More from Gaza

The Battle of Gaza from The Official History of the Great War

Wednesday 28th March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

We understand in a wire from 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment that no members of the Battalion became casualties in the Battle of Gaza on 26th March. They were south of the town in the rear of the attacking 53rd (Welsh) Division near a narrow, dry ravine called Wadi Ghuzze.

Yesterday the Battalion was ordered to concentrate near a place called Tel el Armar, which they did partly under shell fire. In the evening they marched to a place called Nuseirat, a few miles south-west of Gaza and bivouacked. They are evidently prepared for more offensive preparations.

Source: X550/6/8

Roll of Honour - 28th March 1917

Killed in Action

Bedfordshire Yeomanry
  • 30986 Private Walter BULL, 31, born and resided Ramsey [Huntingdonshire], son of James and Lizzie Bull (Faubourg d'Amiens Cemetery, Arras)

Monday 27 March 2017

The Battle of Gaza

First Battle of Gaza from The Official History of the Great War

Tuesday 27th March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

News has reached us today of a battle in far-away Palestine. The adjutant of the 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, which is part of 54th (East Anglian) Division wired to say that the Battalion had taken a minor part in a battle near Gaza. Their part consisted in moving a mile along a track towards Gaza itself then taking up an outpost line in extension of the right flank and to the south of 53rd (Welsh) Division which carried out the principal attack.

By speaking with other correspondents we have been able to piece out roughly what happened. It seems the Turks were well dug-in around Gaza but the British and Imperial troops managed to encircle them. The Welsh seem to have been in position by about 9.30 am ready to attack from the south and east, however, the attack seems to have been delayed for reasons which are unclear, though its seems fog was at least partially to blame (Gaza is only a short distance from the coast). The attack seems to have met with mixed fortunes and 161st (Essex) Brigade of 54th Division was also involved, coming under the orders of 53rd Division. After some time the attack was supported by mounted men - the ANZAC Mounted Division, Imperial Mounted Division and Imperial Camel Corps. It seems that the resistance was too great and the attacks had to be called off and some captured ground given up. Our troops are reckoned to have sustained about 4,000 casualties. We understand from some of our colleagues that the commanding officer of 53rd Division, Major-General A G Dallas has received criticism in some quarters for his handling of operations.

Source: X550/6/8

Sunday 26 March 2017

Digging Cavalry

Monday 26th March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

It might be thought beneath a cavalryman’s dignity to get off his horse and dig, certainly the knights of old would have thought so. In this modern war, however, there is, at present, very little role for cavalry. Thus Second Lieutenant Fields Clarke and Second Lieutenant Wing and seventy troopers of the Bedfordshire Yeomanry find themselves ordered to go forth with shovels and dig in the area occupied by VI Corps.

Source: WW1/WD2

Roll of Honour - 26th March 1917

Died of Wounds

7th Battalion
  • 29827 Private Elvin or Elveyn Arthur WOOD, 32, son of Walter and Hannah Wood of Dunstable, husband of Rose Pleasant Wood of 87 Princes Street, Dunstable (Saint-Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen)


8th Battalion
  • 25370 Private George STIMSON, 21, son of Frederick and Mary Stimson of Langford (Langford (Saint Andrew) churchyard)

Saturday 25 March 2017

The Bedfords Arrive at Rafa

Sunday 25th March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

Yesterday 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment finally arrived in the front line at the town of Rafa, captured from the Turks on 9th January by a mixed force comprising the Imperial Camel Corps, the ANZAC Mounted Brigade and the 7th Light Car Patrol. The adjutant tells us in a wire that they are expecting to go into action any day now.

Source: X550/6/8

Roll of Honour - 25th March 1917

Killed in Action

8th Battalion: front line near Loos
  • 40238 Private Richard Bernard DANE, 21, ex-5455 Norfolk Regiment, born Wareham [Norfolk] son of Samuel James and Thirza Dane of Shouldham [Norfolk] (Maroc British Cemetery, Grenay)

Friday 24 March 2017

Shell Craters and Barbed Wire

Saturday 24th March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

During the pursuit of the retreating Germans the East Anglian Royal Engineers have not been idle, as we heard on 13th March. They have been working in the vicinity of the village of Sapignies, north-west of Bapaume.

A tool cart and limber was sent to No 1 section at Sapignies via Bapaume. Then the Company (less one section detailed as an advanced guard) received orders to move to Sapignies as Royal Engineers of the main guard, formed by 6th Infantry Brigade, on 2nd Division advance.

The Company arrived (via Bapaume) at Sapignies and cleared roads around two mine craters, shown as red x's on the map above. They also removed the wire obstacles across the road marked by the blue cross. Their division was then relieved by 18th Division bringing them, once more, into close contact with 7th Bedfords, though whether old friends were able to spend time together is doubtful as everyone is working at high pressure to ensure that the German retreat is followed as closely as possible.

Source: WW2/WD3

Roll of Honour - 24th March 1917

Killed in Action

8th Battalion: front line near Loos
  • 33482 Lance Corporal Clarence Egerton PURKIS born Rotherhithe [London] resided East Ham [Essex] (Maroc British Cemetery, Grenay)

Thursday 23 March 2017

4th Battalion Reinforcements

Friday 23rd March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

Today the 4th Battalion marched to Framecourt south of Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise and many miles behind the front line at Arras. They have been joined by four new subalterns in preparation for the year’s campaigning - Second Lieutenants Thomas, Lewis, Mogridge and Marshall.

Source: X550/5/3

Roll of Honour - 23rd March 1917

Killed in Action

8th Battalion: front line near Loos
  • 33266 Private Frederick PRESTON, 20, son of Thomas and Eliza Preston of 20 Castle Street, Berkhamsted [Hertfordshire] (Maroc British Cemetery, Grenay)

Wednesday 22 March 2017

After Operations

Captain P C Cavan [X550/1/81]

Thursday 22nd March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

The 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment has today moved back to Bretencourt after its operations around Mercatel, arriving at 8.30 am. In a reshuffle, Captain P C Cavan took over command of A Company from Lieutenant H de Buriatte, Captain R.Hopkins rejoined from hospital and took over command of B Company from 2nd Lieutenant A P Methuen and Lieutenant L A L Fink MC also rejoined from hospital.

Source: X550/3/WD

Tuesday 21 March 2017

2nd Battalion Operations Come to an End

Wednesday 21st March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

At 12 midnight the 17th Battalion, Manchester Regiment commenced to relieve the 2nd Bedfords. The relief was complete by 6 am. The Battalion then returned to their old front line trenches near Agny, arriving about 7.30 am.

The adjutant remarked to me on the “blower” that: “A very noticeable point about these three days’ operations was the systematic way the enemy had destroyed everything which would be of any use to us. All dug-outs had been blown in, trees cut down, trenches wired in, and all stores removed. There is no doubt they had been preparing for this retirement for some months”.

Source: X550/3/WD

Roll of Honour - 21st March 1917

Killed in Action

8th Battalion: front line near Loos
  • 17232 Company Sergeant Major Albert Richard SMITH, 28, son of Job and Clara Smith of Watford [Hertfordshire]; husband of Annie Elizabeth of 1 Capell Road. Oxhey [Hertfordshire] (Maroc British Cemetery, Grenay)

Monday 20 March 2017

Day Three of Operations

Tuesday 20th March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

Operations by 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment between Agny, Mercatel and Neuville Vitasse continued today. Last night passed off quietly, with desultory shelling throughout. Heavy rain continued all night. A patrol under Second Lieutenant G Lenton went out to Hénin-sur-Cojeul at 4.30 a.m., but found it occupied.

Second Lieutenant G Lenton [X550/1/81]

The Battalion’s main position along the road from Beaurains to Boyelle was shelled at intervals throughout the day and night but no casualties occurred. The village of Mercatel was also shelled but the battalion had entirely avoided it in its dispositions.

Source: X550/3/WD

Roll of Honour - 20th March 1917

Died of Wounds

7th Battalion
  • 27093 Private John MURRAY born Notting Hill [London] resided Bermondsey [London] (Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension)

Sunday 19 March 2017

2nd Battalion Advance Continues

Monday 19th March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

The 2nd Battalion near Agny south-west of Arras advanced yesterday into trenches vacated by the enemy. Last evening they were ordered to see if the village of Mercatel was occupied, which it was. Patrols were again pushed into the village about 9 pm last night and found that the enemy patrols had withdrawn and that the enemy were now shelling the village.

About 2.30 this morning Second Lieutenant A F Aldridge with a platoon of C Company joined Second Lieutenant A W Joyce and they both pushed forward, Second Lieutenant Joyce with his platoon to the eastern edge of the village and Second Lieutenant Aldridge to the high ground shown on the map above in blue. About 7 am a German cavalry patrol of six men was fired on by Second Lieutenant Aldridge’s party, but no casualties were seen.

Second Lieutenant Aldridge [X550/1/81]

So far Mercatel and the high ground beyond had been taken by patrols. It was now time for a major advance. At 7.30 am orders were received for an advance on Mercatel in conjunction with 2/10th Battalion, London Regiment on our right and the 20th Battalion, King’s (Liverpool) Regiment on the left.

The Battalion was formed up ready for the attack, C and D Companies forming the attacking waves, A Company in support, and B Company in reserve in Malplaquet Trench and headquarters near the railway and le Chat Maigre (both also shown in blue).

The advance did not take place until 10.30, as the 2/10th London Regiment did not come up until then. Mercatel was reached without opposition and a little shelling. About 12 noon the leading Companies got as far as the high ground previously occupied by Second Lieutenant Aldridge and dug in here, as the Londoners had not come up on the right.

At 3.30 pm orders were given for C and D Companies to push on and dig in along their objective on the Beaurains to Boyelle Road which they did under considerable shell fire, as they were digging in full view of the enemy who were in Neuville Vitasse and the ridge south-east of it. On seeing our men advancing the 2/10th London Regiment advanced shortly after and joined up on the right along the Road. Touch was also at once gained with the 20th King’s (Liverpool) Regiment along the road on the left (shown in green on the map). This formed the main position and small posts were pushed out about 150 yards in front of it, forming an outpost line. By dusk the men were well dug in.

Source: X550/3/WD

Saturday 18 March 2017

2nd Battalion Advances

Lieutenant de Buriatte [X550/1/81]

Sunday 18th March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

During last night and early this morning the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, at Agny south-west of Arras observed a number of fires behind the German lines and also loud explosions were heard. At 7.30 this morning they received information that the Brigade on their Right (175th Inf.Bde of 58th (2nd/1st London) Division) had advanced and occupied the German Trenches.

Second Lieutenant Methuen [X550/1/81]

At about 8 am orders were received from Brigade Headquarters to send over patrols to ascertain if the Germans in front of the Battalion had gone. One Platoon of A Company under Second Lieutenant T G Searle and one platoon of B Company under Second Lieutenant F T Matthews (both men recently promoted from the ranks) entered the German lines and found them unoccupied.

At about 9.30 A and B Companies under Lieutenant H de Buriatte and Second Lieutenant A P Methuen respectively advanced and occupied the German front and support line. During this occupation of the Battalion was subject to a little artillery fire, chiefly 77 mm and some 4.8 howitzers. Quite a number of traps were encountered, 2nd Lieutenant R H Hose, who only joined the battalion two days ago, and 21111 Private T.Pearson being both killed by bomb traps. The advance was continued and about 1 pm patrols were next pushed on to Malplaquet Trench, also unoccupied by the enemy.

Second Lieutenant R H Hose [X550/1/81]

At 5.45 pm one platoon of "D" Company under Second Lieutenant A W Joyce was ordered to reconnoitre towards Mercatel and ascertain if it was occupied. We have just heard from the adjutant that the village is occupied.

Source: X550/3/WD

Roll of Honour - 18th March 1917

Killed in Action

2nd Battalion: occupation of abandoned German line near Agny, killed by shellfire
  • 21111 Private Thomas PEARSON, ex-55329 Royal Garrison Artillery, born and resided Ilkeston [Derbyshire] (Agny Military Cemetery)

5th Battalion: occupation of abandoned German line near Agny, killed by shellfire
  • Second Lieutenant Robert Henry HOSE, attached 2nd Battalion, 29, son of Robert John and Victoria Rosina Hose, husband of G F Nicholls (ex-Hose) of 18 Severn Road, Weston-super-Mare [Somerset] (Agny Military Cemetery)

Died of Wounds

1st Battalion
  • 20861 Private Herbert SAUNDERSON born and resided Stotfold (Béthune Town Cemetery)

Friday 17 March 2017

Great Bravery and a Successful Attack

Saturday 17th March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

No one can keep a good unit down for long. After their setback on 15th March the 7th Battalion were spoiling for another go. At 5 am yesterday all companies were warned to be prepared to advance at dawn. Active patrolling then took place to determine any enemy activity.

At 8 am C Company was ordered to advance in four open waves, their objectives being the Bihucourt Line again and finally Achiet-le-Grand and the high ridge beyond. D Company was ordered to support C Company. B Company was ordered to make a flank along the railway line as far as Achiet-le-Grand. A Company was in reserve.

The operation was carried out with the greatest skill and urgency, some machine gun fire was experienced at the commencement. Heavy artillery fire was experienced in entering Achiet-le-Grand from which the Battalion suffered casualties.

The Bihucourt Line was occupied by 10 am. By 2 pm Achiet-le-Grand was occupied and an hour later positions round the northern and eastern sides of Achiet-le-Grand and a strong flank position along the railway on the western side were held. These positions were then consolidated.

Christopher Cox, from the Achiet-le-Grand during WW1 website 

Having finished his good news the adjutant then went on to describe the great bravery of one particular soldier - 13908 Private Christopher Augustus Cox. He is a stretcher bearer and on 15th, when the attack stalled and the men sought shell holes to avoid anihilation, Private Cox, with complete disregard for his own safety, went out over the bullet-swept ground and single-handedly rescued four men - Private Cox has great strength, and brought them in on his back. He then went out again to help the wounded from the adjoining battalion. Yesterday and today he undertook similar rescue missions with the same cool bravery(1).

Source: X550/8/1

(1) Private Cox, from King’s Langley in Hertfordshire was gazetted on 11th May 1917 with the award of the Victoria Cross.

Roll of Honour - 17th March 1917

Killed in Action

7th Battalion: capture of Achiet-le-Grand
  • 27873 Private William ROWELL, 37, born and resided Sawtry [Huntingdonshire] (Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension)

Died of Wounds

7th Battalion
  • 33470 Sergeant Joseph William CRONK born and resided Kensington [London] (Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension)


52nd (Graduated) Battalion
  • TR/9/6291 Private Albert George WOOLLVEN, 18, born Cowfold [Sussex], resided, Crawley [Sussex] son of Charles Morris and Edith Mary Woollven of Blackonith Cottage, Horsted Keynes [Sussex] (Dovercourt (All Saints) churchyard)

Thursday 16 March 2017

Raid Cancelled

Second Lieutenant R H Hose [X550/1/81]

Friday 16th March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

Whilst 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, were struggling to take the Bihucourt Line south of Achiet-le-Petit yesterday, 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment was at Agny south-west of Arras.

At 10.30 pm last night the 18th Battalion King’s (Liverpool) Regiment carried out a raid on enemy trenches on the Bedfords’ left. The Bedfords were also supposed to carry out a silent raid (that is, one without artillery support) at same hour. Frustratingly, this had to be cancelled, as the patrols which went out under Second Lieutenant A Stone and Second Lieutenant C.Shekury reported that trenches where gaps had been made were wired in and that sap heads were not held and also wired in. This barbed wire thus prevented any ingress to the enemy trenches.

In the end, the artillery, barraged the flanks of raid which was to have taken place as well as the enemy’s support line. The enemy retaliated with 77 mm shells which did very little damage and inflicted no casualties.

During the day Second Lieutenant R H Hose of 5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, joined the Battalion. Six other ranks also joined from Base Camp.

Source: X550/3/WD

Roll of Honour - 16th March 1917

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: front line trenches near Cambrin
  • 32946 Private William Edward BRAITHWAITE ex-12216 Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) born Limehouse [London] resided Poplar [London] (Cambrin Military Cemetery)
  • 33397 Corporal John Charles FAIREY, 22, ex-23194 Northamptonshire Regiment son of T G and Ann Fairey of The Villa, Grendon [Northamptonshire], resided Stoke Bruern [Northamptonshire] (Cambrin Military Cemetery)
  • 13633 Private Albert TYLER born Datchworth [Hertfordshire], resided Stevenage [Hertfordshire], husband of Alice Mary of Datchworth Green (Cambrin Military Cemetery)

7th Battalion: front line near Achiet-le-Grand
  • 32990 Corporal Leonard EUINTON husband of Edith Mary of 57 Boyle Street, Luton (Cambrin Military Cemetery)


1st/5th Battalion
  • 201403 Private James William THARBY, 29, born and resided Bayford [Hertfordshire]; son of Thomas Tharby of Ware [Hertfordshire], husband of Caroline Janet of Bayford (Kantara War Memorial Cemetery)

52nd (Graduated) Battalion
  • TR/9/6014 Private William George HOLER or HOLDEN, 18, son of Kate Holer or Holden of North Street, Petworth [Sussex], born Graffham [Sussex] (Dovercourt (All Saints) churchyard)

Wednesday 15 March 2017

A Gloomy Day

Thursday 15th March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

At 8 am this morning C Company, 7th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment were ordered to attack the Bihucourt Line, with A Company in support. On the opening of the attack a very heavy machine gun fire developed from Achiet-le-Petit [south-west of Achiet-le-Grand] and the Bihucourt Line itself, heavy shelling also took place. The advance under such conditions became impossible and C Company dug in about 200 yards down the hill. A company did not advance at all.

The position was held without change from midday until 5 o’clock this evening. Under cover of darkness C Company was withdrawn. A Company then held the original line on the sunken road with B Company in support, D and C Companies in reserve.

Since 8th March we have been hearing disquieting news from Russia where a revolution seems to be under way against the government. This news got much worse today when news began to trickle through that Tsar Nicholas II has abdicated. What this means for that huge country no one here at the front knows, but all are uneasy as it may mean that Russia seeks to withdraw from the Entente. If that were the case all the German divisions currently on the Eastern Front fighting the Germans could be unleashed here on the Western Front which might spell catastrophe. The one hope, in this situation, would be a declaration of war on Germany by the United States of America.

Source: X550/8/1

Roll of Honour - 15th March 1917

Killed in Action

7th Battalion: unsuccessful attack by C Company near Achiet-le-Grand
  • 25417 Private Frederick BARCOCK, 29, born Cotton End, resided Bedford, brother of George Barcock of 254 Old Harrowden (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 21311 Private George BATTRAM, husband of A M Bacon (ex-Battram) of 18 Ford Park Road, Canning Town [Essex] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 30354 Private William BLUNDELL ex-30354 Essex Regiment, born Grays [Essex] resided Little Thurrock [Essex] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 17481 Private Charles BROWN born Little Hallingbury [Hertfordshire] resided Hatfield Heath [Essex] (Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension)
  • 15544 Corporal Edwin CHAPMAN, 19, C Company, resided 129 Regent Street Watford [Hertfordshire] (Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension)
  • 20058 Lance Corporal Aquila CLARK ex-20058 Northamptonshire Regiment, born Stanground [Huntingdonshire], resided Kettering [Northamptonshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 29987 Private Percy Seaman GIBBS, 26, born Foulsham [Norfolk], resided Tunstead [Norfolk], son of Alfred George and Mary Ann Gibbs of Guestwick [Norfolk] (Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension)
  • 31670 Private Frederick Charles GOBLE born Hove [Sussex], resided Letchworth [Hertfordshire] (Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension)
  • 29831 Private John JUDD, 32, born Little Amwell [Hertfordshire], son of David and Mary Ann Judd of Hertford Heath [Hertfordshire], husband of Mary Jane of Hertford Heath (Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension)
  • 12702 Sergeant Bernard MULRIEN or MULRANEY MM, 28, C Company, born Edenderry [Offaly], resided Hertford, son of John and Kate Mulrien or Mulraney of Carrick [Kildare] (Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension)
  • 16809 Corporal Cecil Curtis PARSONS, 22, son of Sarah Moores (ex-Parsons) of 63 Burlington Road, New Malden [Surrey] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 30001 Private Ernest PETCHEY, 30, born and resided Brancaster [Norfolk], son of Edward and Harriette Petchey, husband of Ethel Georgina of London Street, Brancaster (Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension)
  • 16318 Lance Corporal Cecil Clement ROBINSON born Saint Albans [Hertfordshire] resided Luton (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 33440 Corporal Frederick Charles SEWELL, 36, ex-25022 Northamptonshire Regiment, born Keston [Kent] resided Bexhill [Sussex]; son of Richard and Fanny Sewell; husband of G W Robinson (ex-Sewell), of Langham Road, Robertsbridge [Sussex]; founder of the Bexhill Tradesmen's Stretcher Bearer Company for wounded soldiers (Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension)
  • 23121 Private Solomon SMITH born and resided Little Hadham [Hertfordshire] (Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension)
  • 29804 Private Gilbert Henry WOOD, born Greasley [Nottinghamshire], resided Roxton (Thiepval Memorial)

Died of Wounds

7th Battalion
  • 29518 Private John Brackley HIGBY, 26, C Company, son of W W and E E Higby of 50 High Street, Raunds [Northamptonshire] (Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension)

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Holding the Sunken Road

Wednesday 14th March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

Last night around 8 pm C Company of the 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment was ordered to occupy the sunken road from the “star crossroads” (where five roads meet as shown on the map above) north-west to the railway line and and so connect with 62nd Brigade on the left. A and B companies were ordered to move up in close support.

By 1 am the sunken road was occupied by C Company under the very able leadership of Lieutenant Steel. D Company was also in the line on the right of C Company, with A and B Companies in close support. The shelling was very heavy and there was intense machine gun fire. These positions have been held all day by the companies concerned

Source: X550/8/1

Roll of Honour - 14th March 1917

Killed in Action

7th Battalion: holding position in newly won line near Achiet-le-Grand
  • 19209 Lance Corporal Fred James COOK, 27, son of Ernest and Fanny of Tyttenhanger Green [Hertfordshire] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 27839 Private Frank MILLER born Humberstone [Leicestershire] resided Luton (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 27840 Private William MORGAN born and resided Totternhoe (Thiepval Memorial)

Monday 13 March 2017

Attack on the Loupart Line

Tuesday 13th March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

At 2 am this morning the 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment was in position ready to make an attack on the Loupart Line east of the village of Irles. An hour later a message was received from the Australians east of Loupart Wood to the effect that the enemy were retiring. No patrol could be sent out by darkness but a daylight patrol was organised which reported that the Loupart Line had been evacuated.

Thus, at 11 am D Company moved to the Loupart Line. C Company followed in support. The companies moved in four open waves each. The companies were under shell fire and considerably troubled with machine gun fire from Achiet-le-Petit about two miles to the north. According to the adjutant, however, “The formations were splendid and the men were wonderfully steady”.

By 12.15 C Company had passed through D Company and continued in four waves, with scouts, about 200 yards in advance until held up by heavy machine gun fire from a line of trenches dubbed the Achiet Line. By 1 pm the Battalion occupied the Loupart Line and, an hour later, had also taken Hill 130 after considerable resistance.

By 4 pm the Battalion was in its final position, near a place where five roads met dubbed The Star Roads on Hill 130. Tonight the Battalion is consolidating a line shown in blue on the map above, facing Achiet-le-Petit to the north

Coincidentally 2nd Division are also operating in this area, including 1st/1st Field Company, East Anglian Royal Engineers. At 6.45 am the Company was told to consolidate strongpoints behind the new front line to be taken up by 6th Infantry Brigade on Irles-Grevillers Road. The infantry advance being successful, the Company with attached sappers’ mates, constructed and wired 5 strongpoints as shown by blue x’s on the map above. Three other ranks were wounded during the day(1).

Source: X550/8/1; WW1/WD2

(1) Two men subsequently died - on the day itself 522252 Sapper C A Howe of 33 Goldington Road, Bedford, aged 24 (buried Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont) and 522004 Sapper Edward Stanley Moore, 25, from Sherington or Newport Pagnell in Buckinghamshire who is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

Roll of Honour - 13th March 1917

Killed in Action

7th Battalion: successful attack at Achiet-le-Grand
  • 29775 Private George Henry BATCHELOR born and resided Watford [Hertfordshire] (Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont)
  • 28709 Private Alfred DARVELL, 31, ex-28709 Essex Regiment, born Chesham Common [Buckinghamshire], resided Frinton-on-Sea [Essex], husband of Eunice of 22 Brook Street, Woodbridge [Suffolk] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 31171 Private Arthur Thomas SMITH born Acton [Suffolk], resided Lavenham [Suffolk] (Thiepval Memorial)
  • 33771 Private Harold Frederick TUCKER born and resided Bedford (Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont)
  • 43263 Sergeant Robert WILLACY MM, ex-12962 Border Regiment, born Inskip [Lancashire], resided Clitheroe [Lancashire] (Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont)

Died of Wounds

6th Battalion
  • 43126 Lance Corporal Donald POCOCK, 23, ex-1271 Essex Regiment, born Oxted [Surrey], youngest son of Emily Louisa Pocock of 86 Reigate Hill, Reigate [Surrey] (Boulogne Eastern Cemetery)

Sunday 12 March 2017

An Attack Tomorrow for the 7th Battalion

Monday 12th March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

The 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment were at Saint-Pierre-Divion this morning.  They have orders to attack German fortifications known as the Loupart Line near the village of Irles a few miles to the north-east. During the night tonight they will begin to move forwards.

Source: X550/8/1

Roll of Honour - 12th March 1917

Died of Wounds

8th Battalion
  • 33192 Private Francis NEVIN born Oswaldtwistle [Lancashire], resided Accrington [Lancashire] (Béthune Town Cemetery)

Saturday 11 March 2017

At El Arish

Sunday 11th March 1917 from our correspondent in the field

We heard yesterday of the 1st/5th Bedfords at El-Arish on the edge of the Sinai Desert. As the adjutant remarked: East of El-Arish, cultivated lands succeed the desert; along the coast, hard by Rafa, stretches a belt of sand dunes, two or three miles in width. Inland of these dunes there is a belt of light soil for ten or twelve miles carrying barley”.

The men are restless, wanting another crack at “Johnny Turk”, whom they have not seen since 1915 in Gallipoli. Rumour has it that there will be an advance on the town of Gaza in Palestine in the next week or two(1).

Source: X550/6/8

(1) First battle of Gaza will take place on 26th March.

Roll of Honour - 11th March 1917

Killed in Action

8th Battalion: front line near Loos
  • 33357 Private Henry William HARCOURT born Lakenham [Norfolk], resided Harwich [Essex] (Maroc British Cemetery, Grenay)

Died of Wounds

4th Battalion
  • 23046 Private Albert Edward BIRCH, 30, C Company, son of David and Caroline of The Square, Hockliffe (Hockliffe (Saint Nicholas) churchyard)