Friday 30 June 2017

6th Battalion News

Saturday 30th June 1917

6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, is currently the battalion in divisional reserve at Kemmel south of Ypres. During the month their strength has been augmented significantly, from 709 other ranks to 935. The reinforcements make good the casualties suffered in April at Monchy-le-Preux and Greenland Hill when the regiment was reduced to less than sixty unwounded men

During the past month a number of decorations have been received. Five Military Crosses, two Distinguished Conduct Medals, one bar to a Military Medal and twenty-one Military Medals all attest to the gallantry shown in the attacks in April and the raid on 26th May. As June has been spent resting and training there have been no casualties.  

Source: X550/7/1

Roll of Honour - 30th June 1917

Died of Wounds

1st Battalion
  • 13375 Private Lionel ALTMAN, 18, born Poplar [London], resided Stoke Newington [London], son of Solomon Lewes and Esther Altman of 29 Stamford Hill [London] (Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension)
  • Lance Corporal Sydney FRANCKLIN of FRANKLIN, 23, born Peterborough, son of William and Ann Francklin or Franklin of Woodstone [Peterborough] (Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension)


1st Garrison Battalion
  • 24863 Private Richard MINGAY, ex-21449 Suffolk Regiment, born and resided Pakenham [Suffolk] (Colombo (Kanatte) General Cemetery)

Thursday 29 June 2017

Successful Attack on Oppy

Friday 29th June 1917

Last night 15th Brigade of 5th Division and 94th Brigade of 31st Division attacked Oppy and Oppy Wood north-east of Arras. This position had been attacked on 3rd May but had withstood capture, this evening it is in British hands.

The attack seems to have been surprisingly easy, if the words of the adjutant of 1st Bedfords, which took part in the operation, are to be believed. The attackers left their trenches at 7.10 pm last evening, quickly gained all their objectives and then spent the night consolidating the ground against any German counter-attacks. It is understood that 15th Brigade have taken around 150 prisoners as well as a number of machine-guns. While 5th Division took the ruins of Oppy and Oppy Wood, 31st Division took Gavrelle Mill. Both positions have a good view of the German lines and rear areas. German counter-attacks seem to have been largely dealt with by artillery fire.

Second Lieutenant Whitfield [X550/1/82]

1st Battalion casualties during action have been reported as Second Lieutenant A S Trotter and Second Lieutenant C O Whitfield wounded, and Second Lieutenant Hope who dislocated a knee. Acting Company Sergeant Major W J Summerfield, from Wilshamstead, was killed along with eight other ranks, thirteen more are missing and ninety-five wounded, mostly from a German barrage which struck the front line two hours before the operation began.

Surprise seems to have been a key element. The bombardment of the enemy positions did not begin until 7 pm with the attack going in, behind a creeping barrage, just ten minutes later.

It is understood that attacks by 4th Canadian and by 46th (North Midland) Division (who were based in Luton at the beginning of the war) further north around Souchez have also succeeded. The word seems to be that these are not part of a full-scale offensive but rather a “tidying-up” of the line and limited operations to seize positions of tactical importance.

Source: X550/2/5

Wednesday 28 June 2017

An Attack on the Cards

Thursday 28th June 1917

1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment has been behind the lines at Roclincourt for the past few weeks assiduously practising various military techniques. Tonight it is putting these to the test in an attack on the German lines which will be starting about now and about which I will write more tomorrow

Source: X550/2/5

Roll of Honour - 28th June 1917

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: successful attack at Oppy Wood
  • 31817 Private George Arthur ALLEN, 19, born Battersea [London], son of George Cecil and Margaret Allen of 8 India Road, Slough [Berkshire] (Arras Memorial)
  • 37585 Private John ANDERSON, born Luton, resided Aston [Warwickshire] (Arras Memorial)
  • 32978 Private Bernard COHEN, ex-80090 Royal Army Medical Corps, born Birmingham [Warwickshire], resided Northampton (Arras Memorial)
  • 28311 Private Walter Augustine DARTFORD, born Dartford [Kent], resided Hackney [London] (Arras Memorial)
  • 8095 Sergeant William FALLA DCM, 31, son of William and Emma Falla of Wood House Street, Ipswich [Suffolk], husband of Ethel of 107 Cemetery Road, Ipswich (Arras Memorial)
  • 203933 Private Horace FENSOME, ex-32186 Suffolk Regiment, born and resided Luton (Orchard Dump Cemetery, Arleux-en-Gohelle)
  • 203932 Private Jabez Arthur FORD, ex-32647 Suffolk Regiment, born and resided Eastbourne [Sussex] (Arras Memorial)
  • 37556 Private Herbert HOWARD, 30, born Hinxworth [Hertfordshire], son of Charley and Constantia Howard of Kinsbourne Green [Hertfordshire] (Arras Memorial)
  • 12784 Private William Frederick HYDE, 24, born Stevington, son of Vashni Hyde of Bromham (Arras Memorial)
  • 31846 Private Herbert William LOVITT, born and resided Saint Neots [Huntingdonshire] (Orchard Dump Cemetery, Arleux-en-Gohelle)
  • 13579 Private Alfred Leonard MAYES, born and resided Welwyn [Hertfordshire] (Arras Memorial)
  • 23248 Private Harry NICHOLLS, 19 born Simpson [Buckinghamshire], son of Harry Samuel and Annie Nicholls of Bury Ware, Lidlington (Arras Memorial)
  • 203947 Private George Reeves PERRIN, ex-225409 Northamptonshire Regiment, born East Grinstead [Sussex] resided Uckfield [Sussex] (Arras Memorial)
  • 31509 Private Wilfred Ernest RENSHAW, born Battersea [London], resided Watford [Hertfordshire] (Orchard Dump Cemetery, Arleux-en-Gohelle)
  • 43449 Corporal John Albert RIMES, 22, D Company, ex-1246 Huntingdonshire Cyclist Battalion, son of Robert James and Janet Rimes of Bridge Street, Farcet [Huntingdonshire] (Arras Memorial)
  • 203957 Private Arthur Gilbert SIMMONDS or SIMMONS, 36, ex-31791 Suffolk Regiment, son of George and Louisa Simmonds or Simmons of 3 Mercer Street, Tunbridge Wells [Kent], husband of Clara of 69 Camden Road, Sevenoaks [Kent] (Arras Memorial)
  • 203962 Private William James SPENCER, ex-225834 Northumberland Fusiliers, born and resided Merton [Surrey] (Orchard Dump Cemetery, Arleux-en-Gohelle)
  • 9183 Acting Company Sergeant Major Walter James SUMMERFIELD DCM, 28, son of Frank and Ellen Summerfield of Wilshamstead, resided Farnham [Surrey] (Orchard Dump Cemetery, Arleux-en-Gohelle)

2nd Battalion: brigade reserve at English Wood near Dickebusch
  • 202680 Private Sidney Lawrence BAKER, born Westhall [Suffolk], resided Wangford [Suffolk] (Dickebusch New Military Cemetery Extension)

Died of Wounds

1st Battalion
  • 3/7830 Private David BENNETT, born Finchley [Middlesex], resided East Finchley [Middlesex] (Cologne Southern Cemetery) died as a prisoner of war

2nd Battalion
  • 9267 Sergeant Frank BIRD, born and resided Sheering [Essex] (Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery)

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Another Incident Involving a Grenade

Wednesday 27th June 1917

The 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment has been in a camp near Roclincourt, north of Arras. Tonight they are going back into the front line near Oppy. This evening grenades were being issued prior to the move and an accident took place resulting in detonation of one of the bombs. In the closely-packed confines of the communication trench sixteen men were wounded, though none fatally.

Lieutenant E F Hansen, who is in charge of the Battalion’s Lewis gunners left for the trenches at 2.30 this afternoon. He is currently arranging for guides from the battalion which the Bedfords are going to relieve, to guide the Battalion to their positions.

Source: X550/2/5

Roll of Honour - 27th June 1917

Killed in Action

8th Battalion: in billets near Mazingarbe furnishing working parties at night
  • 28525 Private Ernest ANDREWS, 23, born London, son of Annie Ellen Andrews of 127 George Street, Great Berkhamsted [Hertfordshire] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)
  • 22066 Private John William BEETON, 22, son of M Beeton of Hitchin [Hertfordshire] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)
  • 22065 Corporal Ernest COOPER, born Milton Ernest, son of J Cooper of Dropshort, Radwell (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)
  • 202037 Corporal Alfred HUNT, 33, born Earlswood [Warwickshire], son of Richard and Emily Hunt 21 Medlicott Road, Sparkbrook [Warwickshire] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)
  • 33237 Private Ernest Albert MAYNARD, 27, A Company, ex-27282 Essex Regiment, son of Emma Maynard of Chelmsford Road, Blackmore [Essex] and late George Maynard (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)
  • 27768 Private Arthur MEAD, 36, son of James and Louisa Mead of Clay Hill, Wigginton [Hertfordshire] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)
  • 202761 Private John MOORE, 19, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Moore of 8 Jackson’s Cottages, High Barnet [Hertfordshire] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)
  • 33465 Private Alfred William NEWCOMBE, born Marylebone [London] resided Watford [Hertfordshire], son of William Newcombe of 96 Southville, Clapham Common [London] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)
  • 203055 Private Walter William WICK, husband of E M Wick of Brent Pelham [Hertfordshire] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)


3rd/5th Battalion
  • 203249 Private Harry GREENWOOD, 23, son of Henry Greenwood of 10 Field Road, Ramsey [Huntingdonshire] (Ramsey Cemetery)

2nd Garrison Battalion
  • Temporary Captain Malcolm Gerald PAWLE, 44, son of F C Pawle of Reigate [Surrey] (Karachi 1914-1918 War Memorial)

Monday 26 June 2017

The Perils of Instruction

Lieutenant Hart [X550/1/81]

Tuesday 26th June 1917

The adjutant of 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment mentioned to me on the telephone that they have had particularly unfortunate casualties. They are at Dickebusch, behind the lines near Ypres, and have been practising various military arts. Earlier today three other ranks were wounded when a rifle grenade exploded prematurely during one of these practice sessions. Lieutenant W E Hart has also been sent to hospital, but this is as a result of sickness rather than an accident.

Source: X550/3/WD

Roll of Honour - 26th June 1917

Died of Wounds

8th Battalion
  • 31204 Private Bertie Walter PARKINS, 23, son of W Parkins of 19 Redbourne Road, Hemel Hempstead [Hertfordshire], husband of A M Parkins of 51 Chapel Street, Hemel Hempstead (Béthune Town Cemetery)

Sunday 25 June 2017

A Chinese Attack

Monday 25th June 1917

The adjutant of 8th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, at Hulluch, still smarting from the events of three days ago has reported, with some satisfaction that at nine o’clock last night the 1st Battalion The Buffs on the battalion’s left raided the enemy trenches remaining in their line for about two and-a-half hours. The 8th Battalion co-operated by putting up a smoke barrage and exposing dummy figures representing troops leaving their trenches, which drew the enemy's fire. This use of dummies is known, for reasons that escape your correspondent, as a Chinese Attack.

The Buffs captured fifteen prisoners and two aerial dart machines, many dugouts were blown-in and many of the enemy killed. Other correspondents have remarked that the performance of The Buffs yesterday and the Bedfords three days ago exemplifies the difference between the Regular Army and the volunteer “Kitchener Men” though as the Bedfords have been at the Front for two years now this seems somewhat unfair.

Source: X550/1/9

Roll of Honour - 25th June 1917

Killed in Action

8th Battalion: front line near Hulluch
  • 39664 Private Harry BOOTH, 19, ex-DM.2.230987 Army Service Corps, son of Alfred and Annie Booth of 31 School Lane, Berry Brow [Yorkshire] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)
  • 27903 Private George ELLISTON, 39, son of Emily and late James Elliston of Lavenham [Suffolk], born and resided Lavenham, husband of Constance Gertrude of Stows Hill, Cockfield [Suffolk] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)

Saturday 24 June 2017


Sunday 24th June 1917

The 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment is in camp near Roclincourt, north of Arras. They are currently undergoing training and today they have received a draft of 105 other ranks from XIII Corps Draft Training Depot.

Source: X550/2/5

Roll of Honour - 24th June 1917

Killed in Action

8th Battalion: front line near Hulluch, drawing enemy fire during a raid by the neighbouring battalion
  • 33777 Sergeant Robert James BEAUMONT, born Norwich [Norfolk], resided Kempston, husband of B E Newman (ex-Beaumont) of 3 Parker Road, Grays [Essex] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)
  • 4/7124 Private Alma HILL, born and resided Stoke Newington [London] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)

Friday 23 June 2017

Turks Seem Less Aggressive

Saturday 23rd June 1917

The adjutant of 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, has wired to mention that since a relief took place a few days ago, the enemy has been growing less and less active from a machine-gun point of view.

During the last three nights especially, very few bullets have come near the bivouac and most of those have been from single rifle shots and not from machine-gun bursts. A few shrapnel and high explosive shells have come over - generally about three to five between 3 pm and 6 pm and the British guns have always replied with one or two salvos which seems to have a sobering effect on the enemy guns.

Source: X550/6/8

Roll of Honour - 23rd June 1917

Killed in Action

2nd Battalion: in camp at Dickebusch with men on working parties
  • 202669 Private Harry Morris MEDCRAFT, 24, born Stanbridge, son of Joseph and Emma Medcraft of 19 Saint Leonard’s Avenue, Bedford (Dickebush New Military Cemetery Extension)

8th Battalion: front line near Hulluch
  • 40134 Private Edwin George HODGES ex-16046 Essex Regiment born East Ham [Essex], son of Thomas Hodges of 12 Cyprus Place, New Beckton [Essex] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)

Thursday 22 June 2017

8th Battalion Caught Napping

Friday 22nd June 1917

The adjutant of the 8th Battalion, in the front line near Hulluch, spoke to me on the blower today, admitting that they had been caught unawares by a German patrol. At three o’clock this morning the enemy opened up with concentrated intense mortar fire on B and C Companies in the front line. At 3.10 am an 'S.O.S.' signal flare was observed to go up from the front line which was repeated at Battalion Headquarters and sent through by the Brigade Headquarters by telephone to the artillery.

It transpired later that a small party of one officer and fifteen German other ranks had managed to enter the front line between two of the Battalion’s posts under cover of smoke and darkness. They surprised the inhabitants of the front line trench and are believed to have captured nine of the Battalion’s men. As if that was not enough a patrol of one non-commissioned officer and two men who were in No Man's Land when the bombardment commenced are missing. In their defence, the adjutant stressed that the enemy only managed to enter the front line for a few minutes, although he kept up his intense barrage unil 3.45 a.m.

Second Lieutenant Haywood [X550/1/81]

The 2nd Battalion, in camp at Dickebusch near Ypres, reports that Second Lieutenant C.Haywood has been wounded whilst on a reconnaissance of infantry tracks leading to the trenches.

Sources: X550/3/WD; X550/9/1

Roll of Honour - 22nd June 1917

Killed in Action

8th Battalion: front line near Hulluch, German trench mortars active
  • 39555 Private Albert John CAMP, 26, C Company, ex-M/222316 Army Service Corps, born Stepney [London], resided Manor Park [Essex], son of Peter and Annie Camp of 43 Coleridge Avenue, manor Park, husband of Anna Bella Steel (ex-Camp) of 276 Mortlake Road, Ilford [Essex] (Loos Memorial)
  • 202783 Private Frank Harold JACOBS, 34, born Islington [London], husband of Ethel Mary of Saint Kilda, Oliver Road, Leyton [Essex] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)
  • 33407 Lance Corporal William Scott LITTLE, 25, ex-24759 Northamptonshire Regiment, son of Robert and Agnes Little of Edinburgh [Midlothian], resided Pitsea [Essex], husband of A L G Reeves (ex-Little) of 13 Ingrebourne Road, Rainham [Essex] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)
  • 203082 Private Harry LIVOCK, 27, son of Edward and Sarah of 50 Langley Street, Norwich [Norfolk] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)
  • 15421 Private George WEBSTER, 29, born Kneesworth [Cambridgeshire], son of Emily Mary Webster of Wendy [Cambridgeshire] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)

Wednesday 21 June 2017

All Quiet South of Gaza

Thursday 21st June 1917

The 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment is currently in the support line south of Gaza. The adjutant wired me to mention that yesterday he made a reconnaissance of the front line and advance posts of the left Battalion of the left sector where the line skirts the sea. He noted that everything seems extremely quiet and that it was quite possible to keep his head and shoulders over the parapet for fifteen minutes at a time without being sniped at.

Source: X550/6/8

Roll of Honour - 21st June 1917

Killed in Action

8th Battalion: front line near Hulluch
  • 9044 Corporal John Robert CLARK, 32, husband of Sarah of 7 Morris Street, Peterborough (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)

Died of Wounds

2nd Battalion
  • 19017 Private Alfred BRITTAIN, 22, born Old Warden, son of A E Brittain of 14 Hartington Street, Bedford (Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery)

Tuesday 20 June 2017

A Celebratory Dinner

Wednesday 20th June 1917

The officers of 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire, Regiment are holding a celebration dinner tonight in the mess. This is to celebrate the winning of the silver bugle in the 37th Division efficiency competition held in April.

Source: X550/7/1

Roll of Honour - 20th June 1917

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: relieved from the front line near Oppy
  • 19191 Private Thomas BATES ex-14080 Machine Gun Corps, born and resided Bethnal Green [London] (Orchard Dump Cemetery, Arleux-en-Gohelle)

Monday 19 June 2017

Duck-Boarding for the Yeomanry

Tuesday 19th June 1917

The Bedfordshire Yeomanry are presently at Écurie a few miles north of Arras. Since 13th the commanding officer, Major Green, seven other officers and 199 other ranks have been transferred to XIII Corps to form 9th Pioneer Battalion along with contingents from the Royal Engineers, Royal Army Medical Corps and two other units. Altogether the Battalion has 20 officers, 597 other ranks and 36 horses and is under the command of Major Green.

They have been employed on strengthening communication trenches, including laying duckboards in the bottom of them to give a firm footing when wet weather turns the ground to mud.

Source: WW1/WD2

Roll of Honour - 19th June 1917

Died of Wounds

1st Battalion
  • 40054 Private Herbert Victor CHAPMAN, 19, ex-28876 Suffolk Regiment, son of Samuel and Mildred Chapman of 69 Mount Pleasant, Wisbech [Cambridgeshire] (Niederzwehren Cemetery, Kassel) as a prisoner-of war

Sunday 18 June 2017

Bathing in the Med

Monday 18th June 1917

In Palestine 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, has constructed a latrine on the beach and allotted an area for use by the troops for bathing - nowhere near one another, I was assured. The bathing area is in view of an enemy strong-point called Sea Post, about a mile away and so only twelve bathers are allowed at any one time. A bathing picquet has been formed in case of accidents, drownings etc.

The ground on which the battalion now resides comprises a series of sand dunes and the adjutant mentioned with some pleasure that there is nearly always a cool breeze from the sea. In consequence the health of the troops has greatly improved since arrival.

Second Lieutenant Lydle [X550/1/81]

The adjutant of 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, has commented on comings and goings this week. On 12th Second Lieutenant Lydle was admitted to hospital. On 13th Lieutenant Hart rejoined from hospital. On 14th Major Newbolt was appointed Area Commandant of 30th Division. On 15th the padre, Rev Turnbull was sent to hospital sick. On 16th he was followed by Second Lieutenant Cline and yesterday a new Medical Officer, Lieutenant A Newton-Brady joined the Battalion, replacing Lieutenant Cogan who left today.

Sources: X550/3/WD; X550/6/8

Roll of Honour - 18th June 1917

Killed in Action

8th Battalion: front line near Hulluch
  • 16820 Sergeant Percival William Lewis CAREY, 28, son of Henry and Annie Carey of 26 Beaconsfield Road, Bexhill-on-Sea [Sussex], born and resided Bexhill, husband of Elizabeth Maria of 464 12th Street NW, Hillhurst, Alberta [Canada] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)

Died of Wounds

7th Battalion
  • 14942 Private Dan BLOOR, 31, born Rickmansworth [Hertfordshire], son of Daniel and Harriet Bloor of Lock House, Hunton Bridge, King's Langley [Hertfordshire] (Cologne Southern Cemetery) as a prisoner-of-war

8th Battalion
  • Temporary Captain Frank Lydford BODY, 25, son of Charles Ash Body JP of The Cedars, 34 Sydenham Hill, Sydenham [London] (Béthune Town Cemetery)

Saturday 17 June 2017

Pipsqueaks Bother No One

Sunday 17th June 1917

Everything has continued very quiet for 1st/5th Battalion in support south of Gaza. Most days about four shells, which the troops nickname “pipsqueaks”, of about fifteen pounder field gun calibre are sent over Flint Redoubt and one or two near Welch Redoubt, but so far no one has been hit by their shrapnel. During the hours of darkness a certain number of "overs" come near Battalion Headquarters bivouacs, but these are less frequent and barricades of sandbags together with an order issued to keep men not on duty in their bivouacs, have prevented any more casualties.

Source: X550/6/8

Roll of Honour - 17th June 1917

Killed in Action

1st Battalion: Battle of Arras: front line near Oppy
  • 27629 Private Fred DAVIS, 21, born Croydon [Surrey], resided Leagrave (Orchard Dump Cemetery, Arleux-en-Gohelle)
  • 7739 Private Samuel UNDERWOOD, born Sawtry [Huntingdonshire], resided Peterborough (Orchard Dump Cemetery, Arleux-en-Gohelle)

7th Battalion: Battle of Arras: front line near Fontaine-lès-Croisilles
  • 15366 Private Joseph SUMMERFIELD, 27, born Sundon, resided Luton, son of Elizabeth Summerfield of 17 Storey Street, Apsley [Hertfordshire] and late William (Arras Memorial)

8th Battalion: front line near Hulluch
  • 33202 Private Charles Henry CRUMPLIN, 41, son of William Crumplin of Hartley Wintney [Hampshire] husband of Adela of Batford Mills [Hertfordshire] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)
  • 22840 Private William HENMAN born and resided Lidlington (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)

Friday 16 June 2017

The Latest from Palestine

Saturday 16th June 1917

Yesterday B Company of 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, was sent away for sixteen days to train for a special mission at 54th Divisional Training Camp. A composite company of men from the Northamptonshire Regiment and the Devonshire Regiment has been given to Colonel Brighten to replace them with.

Last night a shell landed in headquarters cookhouse, wounding one man. A barricade of sandbags has been erected near the cookhouse and also near the place where the camels unload at night in order to give the men protection.

The General Officer Commanding 54th (East Anglian) Division (Major-General Sir Steuart W Hare) inspected the sector, including the redoubts held by the Bedfords. Work continued during the day on these redoubts

Source: X550/6/8

Roll of Honour - 16th June 1917

Killed in Action

7th Battalion: Battle of Arras: front line near Fontaine-lès-Croisilles
  • 29872 Private Charles Edward James BUTLER, born Langley [Hertfordshire] husband of R E Butler of 13 Parker Street, Watford [Hertfordshire] (Wancourt British Cemetery)

Died of Wounds

2nd Battalion
  • 14810 Private Alfred GAME, 30, son of Charles and Ann Game of Hertford (Mont Huon Military Cemetery, le Tréport)

Thursday 15 June 2017

The Battle of Messines Ends

Friday 15th June 1917

In order to achieve a better view over the German lines our forces at Messines were to make further attacks. However, the enemy has thoughtfully rendered that unnecessary by withdrawing yesterday as a result II ANZAC Corps was yesterday able to advance as far as Ferme de la Croix shown on the map above), IX Corps is at Joye Farm, Wambeke and Delporte Farm (those positions shown on the map below) whilst X Corps is at the Spoil Bank (shown on the second map below.

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Outrage in the Capital

A Gotha G-IV

Thursday 14th June 1917

News has reached us at the front of the bombing raid on London yesterday. The barbarism of the enemy reached new proportions when German aircraft of the Gotha G IV type dropped their bombs on the capital. Reports state that 162 have been killed and 432 injured. The swinishness of this indiscriminate attack is seen by the fate of Upper North Street Primary School in Poplar - hit by a bomb eighteen of its little attendees were killed, most of them between the ages of four and six. The outrage caused here is palpable with many men to whom I have spoken vowing to make the “baby-killers” pay the highest price imaginable.

The 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment is in the front line near Chérisy. The adjutant telephoned me with some satisfaction this afternoon reporting that 378 gas projectors had been discharged from Wood Trench, on the flank of their unsuccessful attack on 3rd May, it may be remembered. Around two hundred Germans were subsequently seen being stretchered away. “That’s for the children in Poplar” he remarked with some vehemence.

Source: X550/8/1

Roll of Honour - 14th June 1917

Died of Wounds

7th Battalion
  • 202664 Private William Francis Daniel EVERETT, born and resided Luton (Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension)
  • 14766 Sergeant William George JOHNSON, son of James and Sophie Johnson of 3 Wharf Road, Bishop's Stortford [Hertfordshire] (Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension)


1st/5th Battalion
  • Lieutenant and Quartermaster Gerald Owen LYDEKKER, 29, son of Richard Lydekker FRS and Lucy Marianne Lydekker, educated Haileybury College, born Harpenden [Hertfordshire] (Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery)

8th Battalion
  • 202282 Private Frederick William HOROBIN, 32, born Doncaster [Yorkshire] husband of Minnie Quarmby Horobin of 17 Robert Road, Sheffield [Yorkshire], son of Thomas Crewe Horobin (Sheffield (City Road) Cemetery)

Tuesday 13 June 2017

Another Battalion Round-Up

Wednesday 13th June 1917

In far-off Palestine 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, went into the line again last night in a support line. They are now in a different position, holding three strongpoints - Merioneth Redoubt, Flint Redoubt and Welch Redoubt all, as can be gleaned, formerly in the sector held by 53rd (Welsh) Division. They moved off at seven o’clock yesterday evening and arrived without incident. Rations, water and light kit were brought by camels during the night to headquarters where the companies sent the necessary guides. The relief was complete by half past nine. During the night a number of "overs" from enemy rifle and machine-gun fire aimed at the front line, fell in the bivouac area at headquarters wounding one private, one native camel driver and his camel.

The 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, have been continuing their normal pattern of training and entertainment behind the lines north of Arras. All companies did rapid firing on the range followed by bayonet fighting and rifle grenade practice in the morning. The Brigade Horse Show took place in the afternoon. The adjutant told me that the battalion were first in General Service Waggon turn-out, second in wrestling (though whether the wrestling was carred out on horseback he did not elaborate, and third in officer jumping (officers on horses jumping obstacles, rather than people jumping over officers, one presumes).

Lieutenant Sherwell [X550/1/82]

The adjutant of the 7th Battalion, near Chérisy, told me that two Germans were shot by D Company early this morning. The bodies were later recovered and the men proved to be from 459th Regiment. Sadly Lieutenant F N Sherwell was badly wounded a few moments ago by heavy shelling and trench mortaring(1). One man has been killed and five wounded in D Company.

Sources: X550/2/5; X550/6/8; X550/8/1

(1) He died at 8.45 pm 

Roll of Honour - 13th June 1917

Killed in Action

7th Battalion: Battle of Arras: front line near Fontaine-lès-Croisilles
  • 27903 Private Eli SCOTT, born Waddesdon [Buckinghamshire], resided Watford [Hertfordshire] (Wancourt British Cemetery)
  • Temporary Lieutenant Ferdinand Nigel SHERWELL (Rookery British Cemetery, Héninel)

Died of Wounds

8th Battalion
  • Corporal Eben George CROOT, 23, son of Frederick and Catherine Croot of Waresley [Huntingdonshire] (Béthune Town Cemetery)


3rd Battalion
  • 31598 Acting Corporal Harry KITCHENER, 19, son of H J and Sarah Kitchener of 27 Bartholomew Road, Bishop's Stortford [Hertfordshire], resided Biggleswade (Bishop’s Stortford Old Cemetery)

6th Battalion
  • 43131 Private Alfred Charles VALLER, 19, ex-2229 Essex Regiment (Cyclists), attached 112th Trench Mortar Battery, son of Alfred Charles and Charlotte Valler of North Woolwich [Essex] (Delettes Communal Cemetery)

Monday 12 June 2017

The 8th Battalion Relieved

Tuesday 12th June 1917

The 8th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment is to be relieved from the front line trenches near Hulluch on the old 1915 Loos battlefield tonight. They were made uneasy to observe spasmodic shelling of the Reserve Line early this morning. Around six o’clock this morning 18th Brigade launched a raid on the Germans opposite but this did not affect the Battalion and the shelling of the rear areas seems to have ceased. They are to proceed to Mazingarbe tonight

Source: X550/9/1

Sunday 11 June 2017


Monday 11th June 1917

The attack at Messines has been a great success and many of the correspondents at the front, your correspondent included, were expecting it to lead to a full breakthrough into the clean countryside beyond this place of war. However, it seems it was only ever intended s a limited action to deny the enemy observation over our lines and to give us observation over his. In that it seems to have succeeded, though it seems the view from the Oostaverne Line is not as good as anticipated and so a further limited advance will be made in the next few days.

This has lead to rumours. The amount of material being brought into the Ypres Salient over the last few weeks has been very large, too large, some say, for even a major attack such as this. The rumour-mongers are saying that this attack at Messines was just a prelude to something much bigger. We shall see(1)

(1) The Third Battle of Ypres, commonly called the Battle of Passchendaele would begin on 31st July and last until 10th November.

Roll of Honour - 11th June 1917

Died of Wounds

2nd Battalion
  • 33005 Private John Edward GOLDING, 29, ex-12557 Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment), born and resided Custom House [Essex], son of Thomas and Elizabeth of Bonny Down, East Ham [Essex] (Wimereux Communal Cemetery)

Saturday 10 June 2017

Fourth Day of the Battle of Messines

Sunday 10th June 1917

Today the Australians, the only element of the attack on the 7th not to meet their full objectives once more tried to gain them. They managed an advance of 600 yards either side of the River Douve in the direction of the French town of Warneton and so reached their objective

Roll of Honour - 10th June 1917

Died of Wounds

2nd Battalion
  • 18331 Private James FIELD, 31, husband of May M of 6 California, Baldock [Hertfordshire]  (Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery)

7th Battalion
  • 202660 Private Frederick Wesley GREEN, born and resided Elton [Northamptonshire] (Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension)


8th Battalion
  • 33830 Private Thomas WILLIAMS, 38, born Walworth [London], husband of Jane Julia of 54 Common View, Letchworth [Hertfordshire] (Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe)

Friday 9 June 2017

Decorations from the Somme

Captain Oakley [X550/1/81]

Saturday 9th June 1917

Today the battle at Messines Ridge has gone quiet.  It is fair to say that strong German counter-attacks were expected ere now and their failure to materialise must owe much to the stunning success of the first attack.

The adjutant of 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, tells me that they are about to be relieved in the front line, the exchange taking place as soon as it is dark. They will then move back to Poperinghe. News has been received that the following awards had been made for gallantry on 12th October, 1916 in the unsuccessful and bloody attack on Gird Trench: Captain R E Oakley has received a Military Cross, 10016 Sergeant A Howard and 9578 Sergeant A Mason have both received Distinguished Conduct Medals.
The Battalion’s total casualties for this most recent period in the trenches were: eleven other ranks killed; three other ranks died of wounds; two officers and sixty-six other ranks wounded; one other rank gassed and two other ranks suffering from shell shock.

Source: X550/3/WD

Thursday 8 June 2017

Second Day of the Battle of Messines

Friday 8th June 1917

It seems that my report of yesterday was a little exaggerated, but only a little. II ANZAC Corps did not take all its objectives, ending up short of the third objective of Oosatverne Line. Nevertheless the other two corps did reach this objective. Casualties, it turns out, have been heavy, though medical staff I have spoken to stated that they expected them to be heavier, perhaps twice as heavy as they were.

Around dawn this morning the Australians of II ANZAC Corps again tried to reach the Oostaverne Line and again failed due to stiff resistance. 

Roll of Honour - 8th June 1917

Killed in Action

2nd Battalion: Battle of Messines: front line at Observatory Ridge near Zillebeke
  • 39811 Private Edward George BISHOP, 36, born and resided Long Buckby [Northamptonshire], son of G and A Bishop, husband of Juliana Townsend (ex-Bishop) of Church View, Long Buckby (Perth Cemetery (China Wall))
  • 200290 Private David HALL, 19, son of Sarah Jane Barnett (ex-Hall) of Keysoe Brook End (Perth Cemetery (China Wall))
  • 27447 Private Ernest Victor PURKISS, 36, son of Jeremiah and Harriet Purkiss of Thornton Heath [Surrey], resided Hoddesdon [Hertfordshire] (Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery)

Died of Wounds

2nd Battalion
  • 28838 Private Henry Frederick HARMER, 34, son of Rosetta Harmer of Chapel Field, Stalham [Norfolk] (Perth Cemetery (China Wall))
  • 9787 Private Ernest Frank KEDGE, 24, born Clophill, husband of W D Kedge of 27 Union Street, Bedford (Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery)
  • 202802 Private Bertram William POULTON, 27, born Dunstable, son of Lionel and Louie Poulton, husband of Fanny Elizabeth of Rose Cottage, Princess Street, Dunstable (Mendinghem Military Cemetery)


1st Battalion
  • 10221 Sergeant Frank WHIDDETT, 30, born Sheerness [Kent], son of Alfred and Ethel Whiddett, husband of Catherine Freeman (ex-Whiddett) of 3 Harringay Terrace, Eaton Socon (Eaton Socon churchyard)