Remembrance – Wilfred Dent Wroe

Today we remember local Baston man Lieutenant Wilfred Dent Wroe who was killed in action on this day, 29th June 1916, whilst serving with the 10th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment on the Somme.

Wilfred Wroe was born on the 31st March 1884 in Burnley Lancashire to Dent Wroe and his wife Florence, nee Barnes.
Dent Wroe was a school master who was born on 9th March 1859 in Colne Lancashire, his wife Florence Barnes was born on the 19th August 1858 in Burnley. The couple were married on the 28th December 1881 in Burnley St Matthews.
The couple went on to have three children all born whilst they were living in the Burnley Area:-
• Wilfred Dent Wroe, 1884, Burnley
• Mary Wroe, 1886, Burnley
• Annie Wroe, 1887, Burnley

In 1891 the couple were living at 6 Harriet Street in Habergham Eaves, Burnley.
At this time Dent Wroe was a schoolmaster, Florence a School mistress and both Wilfred aged 7 and Mary aged 5 were listed as scholars. The youngest daughter Annie aged three was the youngest member of the family and also living in the house was Isabella Wardle their 15 year old general domestic servant.

In another 10 years time Wilfred had already left home and was working as a Pupil Teacher at Rugby St Matthews school. Wilfred and another pupil teacher, William Wright, boarded in the home of Henry West, a groom, at 43 Oliver Street, Rugby.
Wilfred received his early training at Rugby St Matthews and on the 3rd March 1905 it was reported in the Northampton Mercury that had gained success in the King’s Scholarship, Third Class – Division 1.

Between 1906 and 1908 Wilfred attended Saltley Training College (St Peter’s College, Saltley, Birmingham) arriving as an uncertified teacher.
During his time at Saltley he joined the College Guards, and as a precursor to his later service, he was also promoted to Sergeant in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment..

(Photo attached, Wilfred front row right kneeling, Saltley College Guards 1907. Photo with permission of Paul Nixon, British Army Ancestors https://britisharmyancestors.co.uk/ )

After qualifying as a teacher Wilfred moved to Lincoln in August 1908 to join the staff at the North District National School in Lincoln. During his time in Lincoln he was well known as a member of the Carholme Golf Club and he was reported as an enthusiastic Golfer. It was also reported that as a teacher he had a promising career and in social life he had a quiet and genial personality that endeared him to all.

The next official record for Wilfred was the 1911 census. By now he was living at 36 York Ave Lincoln, and his occupation was given as an elementary school teacher working for the borough council. He was once again boarding, living with Mary Ann Moses a widow and her daughters Mary Moses (38) a Dressmaker and Ellen Frances Moses (36), both single.

Wilfred was to move home once again before the beginning of the war moving only 2 minutes walk away, into the next street at 22 Albert Crescent in Lincoln. This was even closer to the West Common and the Carholme Golf Club .

We have been unable to find the official service records for Wilfred. This is common for WW1 soldiers as 60% of all their records were destroyed in a fire in a London warehouse where they were being housed in the Blitz. The following information has been pieced together using other available sources such as medals rolls, newspaper reports and especially the war diaries of the 10th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment and effectively tells the story of not only Wilfred’s war but also that of the ‘Grimsby Chums’ the 10th battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment.

On the 21st September 1914, three teachers from the North District School, Lincoln, left to take up their duty. Wilfred was accompanied by Mr A Dowman and Mr H G Woods. The next day, 22nd September, the three chums enlisted in the 10th Service Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment, ‘The Grimsby Chums’.

The Battalion had been raised in Grimsby by the Mayor and started recruiting on the 9th September 1914. The battalion was billeted in Grimsby, the HQ being the Drill Hall and equipped by contracts made by the raiser with private firms payment being made by Northern Command either direct or by an Officer’s Impact account, the Battalion was finally taken over by the war office in July 1915.

Almost at once Wilfred received a commission as temporary 2nd Lieutenant, and then in August he was to be made Temporary Lieutenant.

Sheffield Daily Telegraph Wednesday 18th August 1915
Infantry Service Battalions
10th Battalion the Lincolnshire Regiment (Grimsby).
The undermentioned Temporary Second-Lieutenants to be Temporary Lieutenants: Harold L. Dent, Wilfred D. Wroe, Allan H. Smith, Ransome C. Green.

He later received his second star as 1st Lieutenant in December 1914.

The Battalion moved from Grimsby to Brocklesby Park and initially the Battalion was Brigaded on the 28th December 1914 to the 115th Infantry Brigade.

Their training continued at Brocklesby Park through the first half of 1915 being inspected by the 115th OC Brigadier General Bowles on the 19th February.

On the 23rd April they took part in a route concentration march from the South Humber Defences to Barnetby-Le-Beck were it was inspected by Brigadier General Nugent.
Training continued and the next month saw the Battalion entrained on the 19th May bound for Cleethorpes from where it Marched through Cleethorpes and Grimsby, halting to be addressed by the Mayor. The march occupied from 6pm to 8.30pm at which time the Battalion entrained at Grimsby and returned to Brocklesby.

In May 1915 the Battalion had its passing out parade and along with Lieutenant Wilfred Wroe officially took its place in the British Army.

Their next posting was to Studley Royal Camp in Ripon on the 17th June where it joined the 101st Infantry Brigade, part of the 34th Division. The 101st Brigade consisted of the 10th Lincs, 15th and 16th Royal Scots and the 11th Battalion Suffolk Regiment.
They were kept on the move for the next couple of Months as next was Musketry Firing Parts 1 and 2 and General Musketry course at Strenshall Camp, York where 76% of the Battalion qualified.
After being taken over by the War Office in July the training continued and on the 23rd of August the Commanding Officer of the Battalion, Lt-Col G.E. Heneage was sent for 5 days with the British Expeditionary Force. The 28th of August the Battalion was on the move again, moving to Peckham Down on Salisbury Plain, Lt-Col Heneage re-joining them the next day on return from France.

Their new camping ground having been in constant use for a long period was in bad condition and by no means sanitary, the tents were old and in bad condition. After 14 days of these conditions the Battalion struck camp and moved to higher ground after several officers and a considerable number of men were made unwell due to the insanitary conditions. From the 17th September they undertook Brigade training.
After one month at Peckham Down they were on the move again, this time the location of the new camp was Sutton Veny near Warminster and this time they were billeted into the Hutments of No 5 camp.
Their Divisional Training started on the 5th November, one year after Wilfred had joined the Battalion. The initial plan for Kitchener’s New Army was that it would be ready for war in the middle of 1916 but circumstances of the war dictated that this should be brought forward.
On the 10th November the Battalion was to undertake their Part III Musketry training using 30 old rifles that were issued to them, closely followed by Part IV training with 35 new rifles that had then been issued.

The 13th December was the first day of mobilisation for the Battalion and the communicated destination for their commencement into the war was going to be Egypt.
The next day the divisional training was an attack on “Enemy Trenches” by the 34th Division with general Paget and a mission of Japanese officers present. There was approval at then conduct of all ranks in the most adverse weather conditions and also the manner in which they carried out their work.

Around this time Wilfred ordered his sun helmet (Wolseley) and place his order with Harrods of London. The story of his Wolseley helmet can be found at http://www.militarysunhelmets.com/…/a-wolseley-of-the-10th-…

Chrisitmas day came and the only comment in the Battalion Diary was that it was 3rd day of mobilisation before embarkation. Boxing day brought the news that service in Egypt had been withdrawn, their sun helmets had been withdrawn and they were all issued with warmer clothing to the vast disappointment of all ranks. At this point Wilfred’s helmet became of no use to him as his new destination was to be France and the Western Front.

On the 9th January the Battalion was finally deployed and arrived in France, although it would be another month before they saw their first trenches near Erquinghem on the outskirts of Armentiers. On the 2nd February A+B Companies went into the trenches for 2 days for instruction, A company were attached to the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters and B Company the 1st Battalion East Lancashire regiment. B Company had the Battalion’s first man wounded during his tour. They changed over and C and D companies started their instruction being attached to the 1st Worcesters and 1st Northants respectively. This time it was C company that had one man wounded.

Lord Kitchener inspected the 101st Brigade at Steenbecque on the 11th February, the Battalion marching their from their billets in Morbecque.

The first Battalion deaths would come on their first official tour of the trenches, in the Bois Grenier sector, on the 29th February 1916 where the diary reports that 4 men were killed including 1 N.C.O and 5 men wounded.

The Battalion started March still at Bois Grenier their next tour being between the 5th and 10th March coming out of the trenches after 6 days and each day there had been snow, the trenches were reported to be “Very wet”. The weather changed over the next few days and with the Battalion in Divisional reserve they were now based at Jesus farm near Erquinghem awaiting their next tour that was to see them up to the 17th March.

On the 8th April the battalion started marching to Eperleques (ten miles north-west of St Omer) arriving there on the 12th. They rested and on the 14th started platoon training and between the 15th and 25th April they were trained in Platoon, Company and Battalion training schemes over their allotted area and also undertook further musketry training. For the rest of the month they carried out Divisional and further Company training over their allotted area, no doubt in advance of some big push that was being planned. The training continued in May when their Divisional Training ended.

Their next move was a march to St Omer where they entrained and proceeded by rail to Longeau, detraining and then marched to Rainneville the route taking them through Amiens on the 9th May.
For the next two weeks the diary does not mention their movements until they were marched to Dernancourt where Wilfred’s Company (C Coy) were placed at Becourt acting as Brigade reserve.

In June they were to move first to Bresle where the Diary reports that between the 4th and the 12th June they were carrying out a series of tactical services.

From here we pick up Wilfred’s story in the words of the Battalion Diary.

16th June 1916 – Bresle
The Battalion moved by route march to E.8.a near Albert and went under canvas.

23rd June 1916 – Albert
Relieved the 15th bn Royal Scots in the trenches right sector Divisional area. Battalion HQ at Chapes Spur.

26th June 1916 – Albert
Relieved by the Royal Scots and proceeded to Becourt Chateau and Wood.

28th June 1916 – Albert
Relieved the 15th Royal Scots in the right sector Divisional area of the trenches, heavy rain storms and the trenches were in. a bad condition being in many parts nearly knee deep in mud and water.

29th June 1916 – Albert
This was the fifth day of the artillery bombardment of the German trenches which commenced on the 24th. Lieut W.D. Wroe of C company was killed by shell fire on this day. He was the first officer of the Battalion to be killed since the battalion went on active service in January.

30th June 1916 – Albert
German retaliatory fire heavier on this day than any other since the commencement of our bombardment.

As we can see from the Diary Lt Wilfred Dent Wroe was killed by enemy shellfire in the line of duty on the 29th of June 1916 just two days before the ‘Big Push’ that was to be the first day of the Battle of the Somme. A day that would go down in history not only for the British Army, but also for the many “Pals Battalions’ that would, just like the Grimsby Chums, sustain severe losses on that day.

But for Wilfred Wroe, the story and mark on the war does not end there. 2nd Lt Roland Ingle, writing in his diary the night before the First day of the Somme. “I Passed the Cemetery, as I came back, and Looked at [Lt Wilfred Dent Wroe’s] grave. I am moving up by myself at 8.30, having a little time here to wash and have a meal. I had three letters tonight and the Observer, all posted on Sunday. This ends the Diary before the ‘Push’ as I must pack up.” This was the last entry in his diary as Roland Ingle died only 13 hours later and is also buried in Becourt Military Cemetery with Wilfred Wroe.

On the 6th July Wilfred’s name appears on the war office casualty list in the Times newspaper as being killed in action on the 29th June 1916.

Mr Woods, Wilfred’s fellow enlistee from North District School, was previously wounded and suffering from severe shell shock was medically discharged from the Army. Mr Woods returned to teach at the school at the beginning of July only days after his friend and fellow teacher Wilfred Wroe, was killed in action.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Lieutenant Wilfred Dent Wroe, 10th Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 29 June 1916 Age 32. Son of Dent and Florence Wroe, of Baston, Peterborough.
Remembered with honour, Becourt Military Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt.

Lieutenant Wilfred Wroe is also commemorated on:-
The War memorial in Baston Village where his father was a teacher;
The memorial in St James’ Church, James Street, Grimsby;
The memorial tablet commemorating the men of St Peter’s College in St Saviours Church Saltley, Birmingham.

Wilfred Wroe was well remembered after his death and appeared in many Newspaper Articles.

Lincolnshire Echo Tuesday 15th December 1914
TEACHER’S GONE AWAY
The following lines are penned with the idea that they came from a boy in the top class of an elementary school, whose teacher had joined Kitchener’s Army. The idea suggested itself to the writer on finding that three assistants had gone out of one Lincoln school, the North District, one of whom, Mr. Wroe, has just got his commission in the “Chums” Battalion and expects to leave for the front shortly. Mr Wroe was a teacher of as fine a set of boys as one would wish to meet.

Our teacher’s gone away,
He’ll soon be at the front-
To keep the foe at bay,
And help to bear the brunt.
He always loved to tell
Of men brave, pure and true;
And now I feel full well
He lived the life he drew.
He told us ‘fore he went
The reasons why we fight-
That England’s word was meant,
And God would prove us right.
Our need, he said, was great,
Still greater Belgium’s need,
That men should not wait,
But help with utmost speed.
So he was going away
With friends old, tried, and true,
And would we sometimes pray
That they’d their duty do?
Yes Duty; That’s the word
That seemed to thrill him through,
Whose call he clear had heard,
And to it he’ll prove true.
So teacher’s gone away,
He’ll soon be at the front-
To keep the foe at bay,
And help bear the brunt.
J.H.P

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Lincolnshire Echo Monday 3rd July 1916
LINCOLN TEACHER KILLED
LIEUT. WROE’S DEATH IN ACTION
The many Lincoln friends of Lieut. Wilfred Dent wroe will regret to learn that news has reached his mother from the War Office to the effect that he was killed in action on Thursday of last week, June 29.
Lieut. Wroe, who was 32 years of age, had been an assistant teacher at North District School, Lincoln, from August, 1908. He received his early training at Rugby St Matthew’s and after his pupil teachership and a year as uncertificated teacher went to Saltley Training College, where he had a most successful career, from 1906-8.
He enlisted in the “Chums” (10th Service) Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment on September 22nd, 1914, with two other members of staff of the North District School. Almost at once he received a commission as 2nd Lieutenant, and later obtained his second star, as 1st Lieutenant.
Of a most amiable and charming disposition, Lieut. Wroe was highly valued as a teacher, and at North District School especially his loss will be felt very keenly.

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Sheffield daily telegraph Tuesday 4th July 1916
Lincoln Lieutenant Killed.
Official notification was received in Lincoln, yesterday that Lieutenant Wilfred Dent Wroe, of the Lincolnshire Regiment, had been killed in action on June 29. Lieutenant Wroe, who was an assistant master of the Lincoln North District School, enlisted in the Chums 9Service) battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment, on September 22, 1914. He was given a commission almost at once. He was 32 years of age.

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The Times Thursday 6th July 1916
ROLL OF HONOUR
111 CASUALTIES TO OFFICERS
23 REPORTED DEAD
Reported by the War Office under various dates:-
KILLED
WROE, Lieut. W. D., Lincolnshire Regiment

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Lincolnshire Echo Thursday 6th July 1916
LOCAL CASUALTIES
The following casualties are reported under various dates:-
KILLED LINCOLNSHIRE REGIMENT
Lieut. W. D. Wroe.

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Grantham Journal Saturday 8th July 1916
LINCOLNSHIRE OFFICER CASUALTIES
The names of the following officers of the Lincolnshire Regiment occur in this week’s casualty lists:-
Bertham Sec-Lieut. W. E., Denning Dec-Lieut. J. E. N. P., Parish Captain A. B. O., Churchhouse Sec-Lieut. M. (all wounded): Wroe, Lieut. W. D. (killed)

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Lincolnshire Echo Saturday 8th July 1916
LINCOLN SCHOOL TEACHER KILLED
Lieut. W. D. Wroe.
Our photograph is of Lieutenant Wilfred Dent Wroe, a well-known and highley respected Lincoln school teacher, news of whose death on the Western front, on June 29th, has been received in the city with profound regret.
Lieutenant Wroe had been an assistant teacher at the North District School since August 1908, and during that time many pupils passed through his hands, and some are actually serving with the colours. He commenced his scholastic career at St Matthew’s School, Rugby, and following a short period a pupil teacher and uncertificated teacher he entered Saltley training College, and was there two years – 1906-8, his course being a most successful one.
Decreased, who was 32 years of age, was well fitted for military matters. Whilst at Saltley he was promoted to the rank of sergeant of the Royal Warwickshire regiment, which he joined whilst at College. One of his commissioned officers was Captain (now Major) Trowell, of St martin’s Boys School, Lincoln.
In September, 1914, deceased, together with two other members of the staff of the North District School, enlisted in the ‘Chums” (10th Service) Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment. In a comparatively short time he was commissioned a second lieutenant and was subsequently promoted full lieutenant.
Lieut. Wroe was also well known as a member of the Carholme Golf Club, and he was an enthusiastic golfer. As a teacher he had a most promising future. In social life he displayed a quiet and genial personality which endeared him to all, and his lost will be keenly felt in Lincoln, especially at the North District School.
Mr. Woods, a teacher at North District School, who enlisted with Lieut. Wroe in 1914, has we regret to say, been compelled to relinquish his commission ‘through ill-health and again takes up his school duties on Monday.

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Lincolnshire Echo Monday 10th July 1916
BACK TO CIVIL DUTY
LINCOLN SCHOOL TEACHER’S WELCOME
ON the 21st September, 1914, three teachers at the North District School, Lincoln, left to take up duty for their country and go on military service. Unhappily, one of them, Lieut. Wroe, has made the supreme sacrifice, the sad news that he had been killed in action reaching the city a few days ago. This morning another of them, Mr. H. G. Woods, returned to his civil calling, the doctors having decreed that he was no longer fit for active service, and he was given a very hearty welcome by his fellow teachers, by a representative of the Education Committee, by one of the School Managers, by a church warden and also by the scholars. It was a interesting ceremony, which took place in the playground prior to the commencement of lessons. The lads were drawn up in their standards, and sang a hymn, after which the Rev. J. Kaye (Rector of St Paul’s) led the prayers. Then came a half hour which the lads will remember for many a long day, for it was one which the lessons of the war were explained to them, and they were able to express their own wish to give a cordial welcome to Mr. Woods on his return to the school.

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Lincolnshire Echo Wednesday 19th July 1916
SOLDIER TEACHERS
The Mayor made feeling reference to the death of Lieut. W. R. Wroe, killed in action, and moved that a letter be sent to his parents expressing the regret of the Education Committee at having lost so valuable a teacher. His Worship also alluded to the return to duties of Lieut. Woods, and moved that the Committee place on record their appreciation of his services to his country. To both of these resolutions the committee agreed.

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Boston Guardian Saturday 22nd July 1916
BOSTON LAD’S DUTY DONE
LINCOLN SOLDIER – TEACHER RESUMES CIVIL DUTIES
Lieut H G Woods
A pleasing and memorable event took place at Lincoln North District School last week, when the scholars and teachers extended a cordial welcome to Mr H. G. Woods an old Boston Grammar school boy, whose parents live at Mount Bridge, Skirbeck, on his return to the school to resume his teaching duties, after his discharge from the Army by the medical authorities.
Mr Woods joined the forces on September 21st 1914, together with two fellow teachers from North District School Mr A. Dowman and Mr W. D. Wroe and chose the 10th (Service) Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment. In a very short time Mr. woods and Mr. Wroe were given commissions, and they both went to France in January last year. Mr. Woods has been since invalided home wounded, and suffering from severe shell shock, and it will be remembered that only last week news reached Lincoln that Lieut. Wroe had been killed in action.

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We would like to take the opportunity to thank the following for the pictures that illustrate this remembrance.

Mr Paul Nixon, British Army Ancestors – Saltley College Guards Postcard 1907.
https://britisharmyancestors.co.uk/

Mr Toby Riley-Smith, Gt. Gt. Nephew of Wilfred Wroe – Photo of Wilfred in uniform taken at home in 1915.

Wilfred Wroe is also remembered on our own website
https://southlincolnshirewarmemorials.org.uk/…/william…/

Remembrance – James Burt

This month we remembered Bourne and 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment man James Burt, who was killed in action on 16th June 1915 at the Battle of Bellewaarde.

James was born in the spring of 1892 to James Burt and his wife Elizabeth Ann Reeve. James Snr was born at Deeping St Nicholas in 1860 and Elizabeth in Weston near Spalding in 1863. The couple were married in 1891 and that marriage was registered in Spalding.

The couple settled in Fulney where they lived and where all their children were born between 1892 and 1900.
The children of James and Elizabeth were:-
• James Burt, 1892, Fulney
• William Burt, 1894, Fulney
• Elizabeth Ann Burt, 1895, Fulney
• George Burt, 1898, Fulney
• Arthur Burt, 1900, Fulney

In 1901 James was living with his parents in Nyles Bank, Fulney, Spalding. Father James was working on the farm as a farm foreman and the children, who’s ages were between 8 and 1, were all at home with Mother Elizabeth the eldest three classed as scholars. Ten years later and James Snr is still working as a farm labourer although by now James has left the home in Swindlers Drove and 2nd son William is working as a farm labourer.

James has moved out of the family home and moved to Waplode Marsh where he is working as a Horseman on a farm. He is now living with John Thrower, a farm labourer, his wife Anne and brother Bestie, also a Horseman. The family had both James Burt and a 15 year old Charles Staff, another horseman, lodging with them.

James enlisted into the Army at Bourne and Joined the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment, his regimental number of 15273 would indicate that he joined around January 1915.
After a three months of training he embarked to join his Battalion in the Field landing in France on the 4th May 1915. Unfortunately he would only serve with the Battalion for one month.

As with 60% of all service records, James’ did not survive intact after the London warehouse fire in the Blitz in 1940. The following information is pieced together from other remaining records and mainly with the reference of the Battalion Diary.

After landing in France on the 4th May 1915, James would have likely arrived in the base camp and then after a few days being posted to the Battalion. The Battalion Diary for the 4th May reports that Captain H. M. C. Orr arrived at Dickebusch with 50 other ranks reinforcements. At the time the Battalion were in the middle of a tour of the trenches, their sector being near Lankof Chateau and in the vicinity of Hill 60. It is very unlikely that this batch included James.

The next day, the morning of the 5th, rifle shots were heard from the direction of Hill 60 and this continued until 9.30am. Enemy’s artillery shelled roads and buildings near Lankof Chateau and two shells burst inside the Battalion’s dressing station. During the afternoon and evening asphyxiating gases were detected floating from the German trenches towards our lines. Our artillery kept up a steady fire throughout the day in the direction of Hill 60. At about 9pm heavy artillery and rifle fire was heard and this continued for about an hour and a half when the artillery fire died down. Later the artillery was again active and opened a very heavy fire on the German trenches, continuing until dawn.
Sprays containing Carbonali of Soda were issued to the Battalion for use in the fire trenches to combat the effects of the gases used by the Germans.
Weather fine.
Casualties, Other Ranks, 2 wounded.

The next batch of reinforcements arrived on the 9th May. “Reinforcements of 118 other ranks Joined at Dickebusch”. It is more likely that James arrived with these reinforcements as the previous batch arrived on the same day as he arrived in France and therefore it is unlikely that he would have moved up in that timeframe.

On the 10th May one of the notes in the diary states that “Reinforcements of 118 Other Ranks moved up and were billeted at Bedford House.

The diary for the next day, 11th May, reported that at about 2am we opened burst of rapid fire to which the enemy replied. The firing lasted for about an hour. Enemy’s artillery shelled wood near Bedford House without causing any damage. Later that day the Battalion’s part of the trench was subject to grenade fire and afterwards some shelling of the fire trench but this caused little damage but our artillery response fell accurately on the enemy’s trench causing much damage and effectively silenced them for the rest of the day. 2nd Lieut Jeudwine, 3rd Lincolns, slightly wounded along with 3 other ranks.

On the 14th May another reinforcement of 50 other ranks joined the Battalion at Dickebusch.

By now we must have established that James was with the Battalion as now it had been 10 days since his arrival in France and during that time the Battalion had received 218 reinforcements.

The Battalion Diary reports the following for what would have been James’ first days with the Battalion,

15th May 1915.
Heavy firing was heard from our left and continued until about 9am when all became very quiet especially on our front. At about 11am our heavy batteries shelled the German trenches in front of our position, this firing continued for about half an hour. Enemy’s artillery shelled the approaches to the firing line at irregular intervals during the night. After dusk a party of men of the Battalion went out in front of our fire trenches to remove some growing crops which we were obstructing our field of fire. This party successfully carried out their task and returned without casualty. A perty of miners of the battalion completed the construction of a tunnel under the bank of the Yser Canal. Work was continued on fire trenches and progress was also made in linking up two fire trenches held by the Battalion.
Casualties Other Ranks 1 died of wounds and 1 wounded.

16th May 1915
All quiet on our front. During the day heavy firing was heard from the direction Ypres Salient.
At about 2pm our batteries shelled the German trenches in front of our position, causing considerable damage to the enemy’s parapets. Late in the afternoon the enemy’s snipers became active + Lieut Cave-Orme was severely wounded. During the evening rifle grenades were usd by the enemy and some casualties were caused.
D Company relieved C Company in the fire trenches during the night. D Company occupied dug-outs on canal bank, A company moved back to Bedford House in support.
Casualties, Lieut R W Cave-Orme 1st Lincoln Regt Severely wounded
5 Other ranks wounded.

17th May 1915
A quiet day. During the night a rapid fire was opened on our trenches at 11.15pm, but soon died down
Casualties 1 died of wounds, 8 wounded.

The Battalion would remain in the trenches for another 10 days, eventually being relieved by the 2nd King’s Own Scottish Borderers and that night heading for Outerdom and billets. Here they stayed a couple of days before being moved back to huts at Vlamertinghe where they rested and also provided fatigue parties working on the support trenches.

On the 31st May they marched back to Outerdom and were destined to start June at Hooge in support at Zouave and Hooge Woods for their next tour. This tour only lasted until the 5th June and afterwards the Battalion was returned to the rest camps at Vlamertinghe.
As well as resting, this time the battalion were lectured in the use of smoke helmet respirators, Rifle exercises, bombing practice plus the more usual physical drill and route marches which continued until mid June.

15th June 1915
The battalion. Remained in bivouacs during the day.
The Battalion paraded at 4.15pm ready to march to the assembly trenches, Cambridge Road South End I.11d. The order of the march was D. C. HQ. A + B Companies. The machine gun detachment accompanied the left column of the Brigade:- (5th Fus, R Scots Fus + Liverpool Scottish). The Battalion and 4th Royal Fusiliers formed the right column. The right column marched off from road junction H13 central at 5.0pm, and proceeded by the road through H13. H14. H15. H23 to Krruisstraat crossed the canal at bridge 13 + thence through Ypres to the Lille Gate at 8.30pm continuing via railway hack to I.10.d.0.2 thence by Menin Road.
Casualties 4 other ranks wounded.
Fine summer weather.
16th June 1915.
The Battalion occupied the assembly trenches I.11.d at 1.15am. The 9th Brigade were to attack the Bellewarde Spur at early morning. The objective was to seize and hold the line I12.d.3.2 – Y18 – Y7. The 1st phase of the attack was begun by our artillery severely bombarding the hostile trenches and wire entanglements with high explosive shells. Short spaces were made in the bombardment at 3-10am, 3-40am and 4am.
Our front line was occupied by Royal Fusiliers, Roy Scots Fusiliers and 5th Fusiliers. The Lincolns and Liverpool Scottish in support. The Liverpool Scottish were on our left, the 1st Wilts (7th Brigade) on our right. When in the assembly trenches the Battalion was shelled by enemy and a few casualties accrued.
At 4-15am exactly our first line rushed forward and immediately seized the first line of hostile trenches from the East edge of wood Y16-Y15-NE corner of Railway Wood and took prisoners all of the enemy in the trenches that had not been killed.
The Roy Scots Fusiliers in conjunction with 5th Fusiliers seized the trenches between Y13 + Y15. at the same time.
The Battalion rushed forward in support of the Royal Fusiliers reinforcing their line. The line continued its advance, bombing parties forcing their way along the trench Y16-Y20 driving the enemy at a run into his second line trenches.
The attack was being covered on the right by rifle and machine gun fire from the Menin Road and from the South of it, and covered on the left by rifle and machine gun fire of the 6th Division from the railway.
The Battalion and Royal Fusiliers seized the trench Y20-Y21. The artillery bombardment on the first line of trenches had been most effective in rendering them untenable and in destroying the barbed wire entanglements. Many dead Germans were found in the trenches. The prisoners taken were forced to the rear.
The attack now assumed its second phase which was the seizing of the trench running from Bellewarde farm to house on the road 100yds South of Y17. Our artillery had already dealt with the trench which we seized at 4.30am with very few casualties to our side, the enemy being finally driven out with the bayonet.
The third phase of the attack followed immediately. A party of 50 NCOs and men led by Major Boxer succeeded in occupying the line Y17-Y18. It was however found impracticable to retain, owing to our own artillery not having ceased to shell this position. The artillery observers were prevented from seeing the flag carried seeing the flag carried by the infantry, denoting the progress of the advance, by mist and smoke from shells. Also communication was difficult owing to the signal wires being cut by the enemy fire.
The advance of the infantry had been extremely rapid and was carried out with great dash and fervour and they had accomplished their object too quickly for our artillery, which caused many casualties to our side.
The commanding officer – Major H E BOXER was himself wounded when he ordered the men to fall back on the line Y17-Y20.
Units in their eagerness had rushed forward, mixed together and were much disorganised in captured trenches.
The attack had been brilliantly carried out and many acts of gallantry were performed by all ranks of the Battalion, both during the attack itself and during the subsequent enemy bombardment.
At 6.0am the Battalion now under the command of Major D F Grant received orders to fall back on to the first line of captured trenches Y16-Y17 and Y16-Y15 to reorganise and hold the line at all costs, which was held accordingly.
The Germans heavily bombarded the captured trenches throughout the day, the bombardment becoming most violent at 4pm when it became evident that a counter attack was being launched. The counter attack was met by our own artillery and by heavy rifle and machine gun fire, the enemy being repulsed with great loss to him.
At 6pm the enemy bombarded the trenches and ground behind with Gas-shells and the men had to resort to the use of respirators.
At 9.30pm the Battalion was relieved by the 4th Gordons (8th Brigade) and marched back to bivouac I.8.b.4.5 arriving about 5am next day.
17th June 1915
The battalion having returned to bivouac rested during the day.
A roll call was taken at 12 noon.
The following casualties had been incurred during the previous day’s fighting.
Officers:
Major H E R Boxer – Wounded and missing
Captain J R G Magrath – Wounded
Captain R H Spooner – Wounded
Lieut A D Walker – Missing
2Lieut F C Green – Killed
2Lieut J H P Barrett – Wounded
2Lieut R O Pearson – Missing
Other Ranks:
Killed 22
Died of Wounds 3
Missing 76
Wounded 265
Whether from one of the three bayonet charges, our own artillery barrage or the later German bombardment of their old trenches, Private James Burt was presumed dead on the 16th June 1915 as part of the action described by the Battalion Diary.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Private James Burt, 15273, 1st Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 16 June 1915. Remembered with honour, Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
James is also commemorated on the war memorial in Bourne.

Remembrance – Edward James Backlog

Today remember Bourne and 1st Battalion Lincs Regiment man, Private Edward James Backlog 11495, who was killed in action on this day, the 16th June 1915 at the Battle of Bellewarde.

Edward was born in Thetford Norfolk in the late summer of 1878, one of twin sons born John. Edward and Sarah Ann Backlog.

John was a general labourer born in Thetford in 1848, where he met and married Sarah Ann Wing born who was born there in 1847. The couple were married in 1876 and set up home in Thetford along with Sarah’s daughter Mary.
As well as the twin boys the couple also went on to have a third son, all born whilst they were in Thetford.

• Mary Hudson Wing, 1868, Thetford (Half sister)
• John Ernest Backlog, 1878, Thetford (Twin)
• Edward Thomas Backlog, 1878, Thetford (Twin)
• William Thomas backlog, 1883, Thetford

In 1881 the three year old Edward was living with his parents and twin brother John Ernest, known as Ernest in Bury Road in Thetford. Also living in the household Edward’s half sister Mary Wing. Father John was working as a labourer at this time. Ten years later and the family are identified on the census at 30 Bury Road, most likely the same house, John working as a general labourer and the three boys now aged 12 and 7 attending school.

John Backlog died In 1895 leaving Sarah to bring up the family.

By 1901 the family had grown up, 22 year old Ernest was married and working as a Mason’s labourer, living in his own house at 32 Bury road next door to his Mother. Sarah, now widowed, was still living at no 30 with daughter Mary who worked in a pulp factory and youngest son William, now working as a labourer. At this time Edward can be found in Leyton, Essex as a visitor in the household of James Nunn. Even though he was listed as a visitor it was possible that he was here because of work as James Nunn was a local Stratford man who’s wife Harriet was from Thetford. Edward at this time was working as a boiler maker and James Nunn a boiler maker’s helper.

Edward attested to the Royal Engineers on 3rd May 1902 in Stratford for 12years, this consisted of 3 years of Army Service and a further 9 years on reserve. The record notes that at the age of 23 years and 11 months he was 5 feet 6 1/4 inches tall with fresh complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair. It also notes that he had a pierced heart tattooed on his right forearm and a flour in a pot with a leaf on his left forearm. Sapper Backlog was given the Regimental number of 11065.

It would look like Edward and the army were not good friends as he had only managed 93 days of service before he went absent without leave on the 4th August 1902 for 7 days. This was followed by three days in confinement awaiting disposal where he was then awarded hard labour. A little over two weeks later and again he went absent without leave from the 30th August until the 4th September. He was kept in the guard room from the 5th until the 18th of September awaiting court marshal on the 19th where he was sentenced to another l4 days hard labour taking him up to the 3rd October when he returned to duties.

The London Daily News on the 6th September reported:-
A Discontented Sapper
Edward James Backlog aged 24 a Sapper in the Royal Engineers stationed at Chatham was charged at the same court for the second time within a fortnight with being an absentee. The prisoner looked very dirty and untidy and by no means a credit to his corps. P.C. Norris said he arrested the prisoner who told him he didn’t like soldiering and was determined to get out of the army. Lance Corporal Dewhurst identified the prisoner as belonging to his company. The magistrate said: “what punishment did he get last time?” This witness said: “seven days imprisonment with hard labour”. The magistrate said: “He stated to the constable who arrested him that he was determined to get out of the army, you had better report that to your commanding officer” Witness said:
“Yes Sir”. The prisoner was then handed over to the escort who’s smart appearance contrasted strongly with his own bedraggled and unkempt condition.

Obviously he just didn’t want to be in the Army as only one month later he disappeared again from the 9th to the 14th of November. The same pattern was followed with 12 days in the Guard Room awaiting disposal and a court marshal on the 28th returned a punishment of 42 days taking him up to the 8th January.
At the end of the punishment period Edward was discharged at Chatham with all service forfeited for pension on account of him being “incorrigible and worthless”.

Sarah Ann was still living at 30 Bury Street in 1911, now sharing the house with her widowed sister Mary Ann Linge who was working as a mill hand in a pulp ware factory. Edward was now living back home with his mother, now 32 and working as a Boiler Maker, labouring in a traction engine works. The only other person in the house was a boarder, George Cousens a fitter’s labourer.

When war broke out Edward Backlog enlisted in Bourne, Lincolnshire into the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment in September 1914 being given the Regimental number 11945.
The regulars of the Battalion had already left their pre war base at Portsmouth on the 14th August for France and the Battle of Mons, fighting a rear-guard at Solesmes during the retreat from Mons and then Battles at Le Cateau, The Battle of the Aisne, at La Bassee, Messines and the First Battle of Ypres.

The 1st Battalion were in Hooge a village near Ypres in Belgium when Edward arrived in France on the 11th November 1914, following his initial training. The Battalion came out of the front line on the 20th arriving in the rear area near Westoutre on the 21st November. The Battalion Diary reports that in the evening they received reinforcements, which no doubt included Edward and the next 2 days were spent on refitting.

Edward’s first taste of the trenches came shortly afterwards when the Battalion relieved the Oxfordshire Light Infantry on the night of the 27th November in the front line near Kemmel. The next day was quiet in the trenches apart from occasional enemy sniping and the casualties for Edward’s first day at the front was 1 killed and 1 wounded other ranks.

At the end of the month that tour of the trenches was completed and whilst in billets on the 3rd December the entire Brigade were lined up alongside the main road through Westoutre for an inspection. His Majesty The King passed through on his tour of inspection and the men gave three hearty cheers as he passed them in an automobile accompanied by the commander in chief.
A letter was received afterwards in which his Majesty expressed great pleasure at the appearance of the troops.

A party of 50 NCOs and men under the command of Captain E Tatchell proceeded to Locre to perform the duties of a guard of honour where His Majesty presented medals for Distinguished Conduct to the NCOs and men of the brigade and Private Stroulger being the only representative owing to all the other NCOs and men who had been awarded the medal being killed or wounded. The Battalion paraded at 3.30pm to proceed to Locre where they were billeted in support of the units in the firing line.

It was not until the 6th of December when the daily stand to orders were changed and they marched to Kemmel to relieve the 1st Royal Scots Regiment in the trenches. The diary reports that –
“Owing to the recent heavy rains the trenches were in a very bad state and in some places were waist deep in mud and water. B,C + D companies formed the firing line and A company in support in a barn close to Battalion HQ. We obtained several bundles of fascines planks of wood and placed them in the trenches for the troops to stand on. The men were also provided with straw wisps to wrap around their legs + boots to keep themselves dry. These efforts proved of little consequence owing to the amount of water in the trenches. B Company who held the right of the position occupied by the Battalion were in such a bad state that after being in the trenches for 24 hours, the commanding officer found it absolutely necessary to relieve them with the company in support.
Officers A.S.S Wade and 2/Lieut A B L Parish joined the Battalion. Casualties. 1 Killed and 1 wounded.”

The battalion then being involved in what was to be Edward’s first involvement in a planned attack of the enemy trenches on their third day. The attack was deemed a success even though after reaching the enemy trench which by then resembled a small canal, the already fatigued men became subject to such rifle and machine gun fire that they were ordered to fall back to their own trenches, which they did in good order. The casualties for the attack were 4 killed, 19 wounded and 18 missing of the ranks and 3 officers wounded.
A and B companies were relieved and returned to the barn in support and it would be another day before the entire Battalion was relieved from their trenches and returned to Locre to billets before the division was relived.

The tours of the trenches continued with their next tour ending on the 24th December placing them back in Locre for Christmas Day.

The Battalion diary reported the following:

25th December 1914
Christmas Day and very seasonable, all ranks adapted themselves to the circumstances and celebrated Xmas in as an enjoyable way as the conditions permitted. Christmas Greetings were received from Field Marshall Sir John French, GCB, GCVO, KCMG, Commander in chief of the British Army in the field.
“In offering to the Army in France, my earnest and most heartfelt wishes for Xmas and the new year I am anxious once more to express the admiration I feel in the valour and endurance they have displayed throughout the campaign and to assure them that to have commanded such magnificent troops in the field will be the proudest remembrance of my Life”
All ranks of the Battalion received an Xmas card from the king and Queen and a present for all ranks from Princess Mary, consisting of a package containing Xmas Card and box containing tobacco and cigarettes which was greatly valued by all ranks of the Battalion. Greetings were also received from the Mayor and Citizens of Lincoln and many others interested in the welfare of the Regiment.

The Battalion went back into the trenches on New years eve. Eventually being transferred to the 28th Division and moving to Ypres in mid February to assist with operations on the Ypres canal. They stayed in the Ypres Salient and in April were involved in the attack on Hill 60 near Zillebeeke.

On the 23rd Edward’s Brother, Private Ernest John Backlog 17233 of the 3rd Battalion Norfolk Regiment died by Cerebro Spinal Fever contracted on active service, leaving a widow and five children. He was buried in Thetford Cemetery.

We jump forward to June 1915 and now the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment are based around Ypres, once again the battalion Diary tells the story of Edward Backlogs final days.

15th June 1915
The battalion. Remained in bivouacs during the day.
The Battalion paraded at 4.15pm ready to march to the assembly trenches, Cambridge Road South End I.11d. The order of the march was D. C. HQ. A + B Companies. The machine gun detachment accompanied the left column of the Brigade:- (5th Fus, R Scots Fus + Liverpool Scottish). The Battalion and 4th Royal Fusiliers formed the right column. The right column marched off from road junction H13 central at 5.0pm, and proceeded by the road through H13. H14. H15. H23 to Krruisstraat crossed the canal at bridge 13 + thence through Ypres to the Lille Gate at 8.30pm continuing via railway hack to I.10.d.0.2 thence by Menin Road.
Casualties 4 other ranks wounded.
Fine summer weather.

16th June 1915.
The Battalion occupied the assembly trenches I.11.d at 1.15am. The 9th Brigade were to attack the Bellewarde Spur at early morning. The objective was to seize and hold the line I12.d.3.2 – Y18 – Y7. The 1st phase of the attack was begun by our artillery severely bombarding the hostile trenches and wire entanglements with high explosive shells. Short spaces were made in the bombardment at 3-10am, 3-40am and 4am.

Our front line was occupied by Royal Fusiliers, Roy Scots Fusiliers and 5th Fusiliers. The Lincolns and Liverpool Scottish in support. The Liverpool Scottish were on our left, the 1st Wilts (7th Brigade) on our right. When in the assembly trenches the Battalion was shelled by enemy and a few casualties accrued.

At 4-15am exactly our first line rushed forward and immediately seized the first line of hostile trenches from the East edge of wood Y16-Y15-NE corner of Railway Wood and took prisoners all of the enemy in the trenches that had not been killed.

The Roy Scots Fusiliers in conjunction with 5th Fusiliers seized the trenches between Y13 + Y15. at the same time.

The Battalion rushed forward in support of the Royal Fusiliers reinforcing their line. The line continued its advance, bombing parties forcing their way along the trench Y16-Y20 driving the enemy at a run into his second line trenches.

The attack was being covered on the right by rifle and machine gun fire from the Menin Road and from the South of it, and covered on the left by rifle and machine gun fire of the 6th Division from the railway.

The Battalion and Royal Fusiliers seized the trench Y20-Y21. The artillery bombardment on the first line of trenches had been most effective in rendering them untenable and in destroying the barbed wire entanglements. Many dead Germans were found in the trenches. The prisoners taken were forced to the rear.

The attack now assumed its second phase which was the seizing of the trench running from Bellewarde farm to house on the road 100yds South of Y17. Our artillery had already dealt with the trench which we seized at 4.30am with very few casualties to our side, the enemy being finally driven out with the bayonet.

The third phase of the attack followed immediately. A party of 50 NCOs and men led by Major Boxer succeeded in occupying the line Y17-Y18. It was however found impracticable to retain, owing to our own artillery not having ceased to shell this position. The artillery observers were prevented from seeing the flag carried seeing the flag carried by the infantry, denoting the progress of the advance, by mist and smoke from shells. Also communication was difficult owing to the signal wires being cut by the enemy fire.

The advance of the infantry had been extremely rapid and was carried out with great dash and fervour and they had accomplished their object too quickly for our artillery, which caused many casualties to our side.

The commanding officer – Major H E BOXER was himself wounded when he ordered the men to fall back on the line Y17-Y20.
Units in their eagerness had rushed forward, mixed together and were much disorganised in captured trenches.

The attack had been brilliantly carried out and many acts of gallantry were performed by all ranks of the Battalion, both during the attack itself and during the subsequent enemy bombardment.

At 6.0am the Battalion now under the command of Major D F Grant received orders to fall back on to the first line of captured trenches Y16-Y17 and Y16-Y15 to reorganise and hold the line at all costs, which was held accordingly.

The Germans heavily bombarded the captured trenches throughout the day, the bombardment becoming most violent at 4pm when it became evident that a counter attack was being launched. The counter attack was met by our own artillery and by heavy rifle and machine gun fire, the enemy being repulsed with great loss to him.

At 6pm the enemy bombarded the trenches and ground behind with Gas-shells and the men had to resort to the use of respirators.

At 9.30pm the Battalion was relieved by the 4th Gordons (8th Brigade) and marched back to bivouac I.8.b.4.5 arriving about 5am next day.

17th June 1915
The battalion having returned to bivouac rested during the day.
A roll call was taken at 12 noon.
The following casualties had been incurred during the previous day’s fighting.

Officers:
Major H E R Boxer – Wounded and missing
Captain J R G Magrath – Wounded
Captain R H Spooner – Wounded
Lieut A D Walker – Missing
2Lieut F C Green – Killed
2Lieut J H P Barrett – Wounded
2Lieut R O Pearson – Missing

Other Ranks:
Killed 22
Died of Wounds 3
Missing 76
Wounded 265

Whether from one of the three bayonet charges, our own artillery barrage or the later German bombardment of their old trenches, Private Edward James Backlog was originally posted as missing presumed dead and then later officially regarded as died on the 16th June 1915 as part of the action described by the battalion Diary.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Private Edward James Backlog, 11945, 1st Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 16 June 1915 Age 37. Son of John and Sarah Ann Backlog, of 30, Bury Rd., Thetford, Norfolk. Remembered with honour, Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

Edward is also remembered on the war memorials in Bourne Lincolnshire and also Thetford Norfolk.

https://southlincolnshirewarmemorials.org.uk/…/edward-…/

Remembrance – Wilfred Hart Harris

Today, Sunday 14th June, we remember Sempringham man Private Wilfred Hart Harris 1116, who died on this day from the effects of gas. He served with both the 10th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment and then the 2nd battalion Lincolnshire Regiment.

Wilfred was born in Millthorpe, nr Pointon Lincolnshire early in 1894 to Philip and Mary Elizabeth Harris. Philip was a farmer’s son born on the 11th October 1864 in Millthorpe, who married Mary Elizabeth Hart in 1886 in the Bourne area. She was born in Renhold Bedfordshire on the 25th August 1860 and had been working as a housemaid in Nottingham in 1881.

The couple settled in Dowsby after the marriage in 1886 where they were to start their family, Philip working initially as a general labourer before moving back to Millthorpe in 1894 befoe eventually taking over his father’s farm after his death in 1896 .

The couple were to go on and raise a family of eight children:-
• Harold Philip Harris, 1887, Dowsby
• Mabel Constance Harris, 1889, Dowsby
• George William Harris, 1890, Dowsby
• Cecil Charles Harris, 1891, Dowsby
• Wilfred Hart Harris, 1894, Millthorpe
• Laurence Henry Harris, 1895, Millthorpe
• Percy Harris, 1897, Millthorpe
• Gordon Harris, 1899, Millthorpe

Wilfed can be found on the 1901 census living with his family in Millthorpe before moving out to become Farm Waggoner working for the Michelson family in Millthorpe by 1911.

Wilfred’s full service records cannot be found and are thought to have been burnt during the Blitz when the London warehouse that housed the WW1 was subject to a fire that destroyed over 60% of all records. The following potted history of Wilfred’s Army service has been pieced together from other remaining records such as Pension, Discharge and Medals records.

On the 4th November 1914 Wilfred enlisted on the Army and was posted to the 10th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment, ‘The Grimsby Chums’, ready for his training.

The Battalion had been raised in Grimsby by the Mayor and started recruiting on the 9th September 1914. The battalion was billeted in Grimsby, the HQ being the Drill Hall and equipped by contracts made by the raiser with private firms payment being made by Northern Command either direct or by an Officer’s impact account, the Battalion was finally taken over by the war office in July 1915.
The Battalion moved form Grimsby to Brocklesby Park on Initially the Battalion was Brigaded on the 28th December 1914 to the 115th Infantry Brigade.

Their training continued at Brocklesby Park through the first half of 1915 being inspected by the 115th OC Brigadier General Bowles on the 19th February.
On the 23rd April they took part in a route concentration march from the South Humber Defences to Barnetby-Le-Beck were it was inspected by Brigadier General Nugent.
Training continued and the next month saw the Battalion entrained on the 19th May bound for Cleethorpes from where it Marched through Cleethorpes and Grimsby, halting to be addressed by the Mayor. The march occupied from 6pm to 8.30pm at which time the Battalion entrained at Grimsby and returned to Brocklesby.

Their next posting was to Studley Royal Camp in Ripon on the 17th June where it joined the 101st Infantry Brigade, part of the 34th Division. The 101st Brigade consisted of the 10th Lincs, 15th and 16th Royal Scots and the 11th Battalion Suffolk Regiment.
They were kept on the move for the next couple of Months as next was Musketry Firing Parts 1 and 2 and General Musketry course at Strenshall Camp, York where 76% of the Battalion qualified.
After being taken over by the War Office in July the training continued and on the 23rd of August the Commanding Officer of the Battalion, Lt-Col G.E. Heneage was sent for 5 days with the British Expeditionary Force. The 28th of August the Battalion was on the move again, moving to Peckham Down on Salisbury Plain, Lt-Col Heneage re-joining them the next day on return from France.

Their new camping ground having been in constant use for a long period was in bad condition and by no means sanitary, the tents were old and in bad condition. After 14 days of these conditions the Battalion struck camp and moved to higher ground after several officers and a considerable number of men were made unwell due to the insanitary conditions. From the 17th September they undertook Brigade training.
After one month at Peckham Down they were on the move again, this time the location of the new camp was Sutton Veny near Warminster and this time they were billeted into the Hutments of No 5 camp.
Their Divisional Training started on the 5th November, one year after Wilfred had joined the Battalion. The initial plan for Kitchener’s New Army was that it would be ready for war in the middle of 1916 but circumstances of the war dictated that this should be brought forward.
On the 10th November the Battalion was to undertake their Part III Musketry training using 30 old rifles that were issued to them, closely followed by Part IV training with 35 new rifles that had then been issued.

The 13th December was the first day of mobilisation for the Battalion and the communicated destination for their commencement into the war was going to be Egypt.
The next day the divisional training was an attack on “Enemy Trenches” by the 34th Division with general Paget and a mission of Japanese officers present. There was approval at then conduct of all ranks in the most adverse weather conditions and also the manner in which they carried out their work.

Chrsitmas day came and the only comment in the Battalion Diary wa sthat it was 3rd day of mobilisation before embarkation. Boxing day brought the news that service in Egypt had been withdrawn, their sun helmets had been withdrawn and they were all issued with warmer clothing to the vast disappointment of all ranks.

On the 9th January the Battalion was finally deployed and arrived in France although it would be another month before they saw their first trenches near Erquinghem on the outskirts of Armentiers. On the 2nd February A+B Companies went into the trenches for 2 days for instruction, A company were attached to the 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters and B Company the 1st Battalion East Lancashire regiment. B Company had the Battalion’s first man wounded during his tour. They changed over and C and D companies started their instruction being attached to the 1st Worcesters and 1st Northants respectively. This time it was C company that had one man wounded.

Lord Kitchener inspected the 101st Brigade at Steenbecque on the 11th February, the Battalion marching their from their billets in Morbecque.

The first Battalion deaths would come on their first official tour of the trenches, in the Bois Grenier sector, on the 29th February 1916 where the diary reports that 4 men were killed including 1 N.C.O and 5 men wounded.

The Battalion would go on to see action in 1916 at The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin Ridge and The Battle of Pozieres Ridge.

It was actions on the first day of the Battle of the Somme 1st July 1916 that went down in history for all the Pals Battalions and the Grimsby Chums was no exception.

The previous month they had been at Bresle where the diary says that they were carrying out a series of tactical services. Towards the end of the month they resumed the regular tour of the trenches around Albert and the war diary has one thing to note that is of interest to our own local memorials research and we retell the story of the first day of the Battle of the Somme from a 10th Battalion point of view. The Battle commenced with six days of artillery bombardment for the enemy positions.

29th June 1916 – Albert
This was the fifth day of the artillery bombardment of the German trenches which commenced on the 24th. Lieut W.D. Wroe of C company was killed by shell fire on this day. He was the first officer of the Battalion to be killed since the battalion went on active service in January

30th June 1916 – Albert
German retaliatory fire heavier on this day than any other since the commencement of our bombardment.

1st July 1916 – Becourt
7.30am – At this hour the 101st Infantry Brigade, 34th Division delivered an assault on the German position south of La Boiselle. The 15th Royal Scots being the right assaulting battalion and the 10th Lincolnshire Regiment. The left assaulting battalion, the 18th Royal Scots right supporting battalion, the 11th Suffolks left supporting battalion.
The position of the German front line trenches assaulted by the 10th Lincolns was known as The Bloater + lay between the La Boiselle salient + the redoubt known as Heligoland. The formation of the 10th Lincolns was as follows A company on the right B in the centre C on the left. D company less 1 platoon was employed as a carrying company + advanced in far of the 103rd Brigade which was in reserve. Two minutes before the attack was timed to take place a mine was exploded near the south west corner of the La Boiselle salient forming an immense crater about 100 yds in diameter.
On leaving their trenches, the 10th Lincolns who advanced in 4 waves on a 3 platoon frontage at a distance of 100 yds between the first and second waves and 150 yards between the others, with a platoon of D company as a clearing platoon 50 yards in rear of the 4th wave + accompanied by 101/3 trench mortar battery were immediately exposed to a heavy shell fire, shrapnel and H.E. and the most intense enfilade machine gun fire from La Boiselle and Heligoland Redoubt. Advancing with the utmost steadiness and courage, not to be surpassed by any troops in the world, yet the distance they were away from the German trench (800 yds) + the intensity of the machine gun fire did not allow of the possibility of reaching and penetrating the enemy’s line. Some far men were able to enter the German Trench from New Crater + bombing their way up blocked it + helped to protect the right flank of the 102nd Brigade which attacked on our left, others consolidated + held positions in the New Crater a like object. One officer 2/lt Hendik with three men made his way on the right by way of the 21st Divisional front + consolidating a strong point in the German trench helped to protect the left flank of the 21st Division. It is doubtful if the troops have been subjected to a more intense machine gun fire than was experienced in this assault, a fire which made it impossible either to relieve or reinforce units during daylight.

4th July 1916
The 34th Division was relieved by the 19th Division in the early hours of the morning of July 4th, moving for the night to Albert + subsequently on the 5th July to Henecourt. The Battalion went into action with a total of 20 officers (of whom 4 were killed, 10 wounded and 1 missing) and 822 other ranks of whom 66 were killed, 259 wounded and 162 missing.
The rank and names of the officers taken into action are as follows:-
-Lt Col E K Cordeaux – – in command
-Major E H Kendrick – – 2nd in command
-Major W A Vignoles – Wounded
-Capt T Baker – Killed
-Hon. Major G L Bennett – Adjutant
-Capt C H Bellamy – Wounded
-Capt J F Worthington – Wounded
-Lieut H L Dent –
-Lieut R G Green – Wounded
-Lieut E Inman Missing
-Lieut R P Eason Wounded, died of wounds 1/7/16
-Lieut B G Anderson Wounded
-Lieut J K Murphy Wounded
-2nd Lieut L Cummins Killed
-2nd Lieut H W Bannister Wounded
-2nd Lieut H L Baines Killed
-2nd Lieut C H Jolin Wounded
-2nd Lieut R G Ingle Killed
-2nd Lieut J H Turnbull Wounded
-2nd Lieut J R Moore –
-2nd Lieut A Hartshorn –

The Commanding officer of the Battalion received the attached letter marked appendix 1 from Brigadier General R S Gore CMG Commanding 101st Infantry Brigade, the original of which is attached to this diary and a copy to the duplicate.

Owing to continuous machine gun and rifle fire just difficulty was experienced in recovering the wounded many of whom lay out in No Man’s Land for over 30 hours but through the constant executions of all ranks during the night of the 1st + 2nd and 2nd + 3rd July as far as could be ascertained all wounded belonging to the battalion had been brought in before leaving the fighting area. Any attempt to do this during daylight was immediately met with heavy machine gun + rifle fire from the enemy’s trenches and all our wounded where seen to move were at once fired upon by the German snipers.

4th July 1916 – Becourt
The 101st Brigade was relived this day the 10th Lincolns proceeding to billets in Albert for the night.

5th July 1916 – Albert
Moved to canvas camp at 8am in Long Valley near Albert

6th July 1916 – Albert
Moved to hutted camp at Henencourt Wood

7th July – 30th July 1916 – Henencourt.
During this period the Battalion received drafts of men from various units, Northampton Regt, North Staffs, South Staffs, Middlesex, Oxford L.I, Worcesters, Leicesters and a few Lincolns. A large proportion of these men were third line territorials + had in many cases only received about three months training. Training was carried out on the manoeuvre area near Bresle + the battalion was also occupied in wood fighting. Specialist training was carried on during the whole of this period.

Wilfred had survived the Battle of the Somme, we are not sure if he was wounded as there are no records available that shows him being wounded or appearing on any lists for Casualty Stations or Hospitals. The make up of the Battalion was now changed forever and the original ethos of the Chums and all Pals battalions was changed forever.

For Wilfred and the Battalion the war continued as can be seen in the list of battles they were involved in:-

31st July 1916 – Battle of Pozieres Ridge
15th September 1916 – Battle of Fleurs-Courcelette. Famous for being the first Battle that the British Army deployed their new weapon, the tank.
9th April 1917 – First Battle of the Scarpe (Battle of Arras)
23th April 1917 – Second Battle of the Scarpe (Battle of Arras)
28th April 1917 – Battle of Arleux

During July Wilfred was awarded 10 days leave from the 17th July. Afterward it was back to the hard fighting and the Arras area with the battle at Hargicourt before moving on to the Ypres Salient where the Battle of Paschendaele was well underway.

The Battalions first fighting on the salient was in October, arriving on the 9th October the Battalion, was involved on the attack on Poelkapelle and Paschendaele. The first wave of this battle on the 12th had not involved the Battalion but they later relieved the 4th Division west of Poelkepelle on the 13th October staying in the trenches until the 17th.

Eventually being relieved on the 23rd October the 34th Division suffered 1797 casualties during its time in Ypres, another 880 being evacuated sick. A memorial to the 34th Division is positioned off the Beekstraat, north of Langemark.

On the same day as Wilfred’s Division was being relieved, the 23rd October 1917, Wilfred’s brother, who was serving with the 6th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment was killed in action at Loos.

During 1918 the Battalion was to return to the Somme and were in situ at St Quentin where they carried out defensive battles to halt the German Spring Offensive and Operation Michael.

Wilfred can be found being given another 10 day leave between the 19th of March and the 2nd April 1918 before the Battalion was moved back towards the Belgian border being based at Erquinghem on the 9th April when the Enemy launched Operation Georgette as part of the Spring Offensive. The 34th Division was holding the line with the 101st Brigade including the 10th Lincolns in reserve. The Brigade did suffer a very high number of casualties from the intense artillery bombardment, especially from gas shells.
Over the two days the division was in such a precarious position that they received the order to withdraw across the Lys north of Armentieres and then eventually to fall back to a new defensive line north of Steenwerck.
The Battalion were then moved back to Bailleul and held a resistance of two days before the town fell to the enemy, Operation Georgette now seeing successes and eventually forcing the 34th Division back to take up reserve positions on the Ravelsberg Ridge.

On the 16th April the depleted 34th division was holding positions on the Ravelsberg Ridge but eventually the old brigades started to be reinforced with new and the 102 and 103 were able to withdraw leaving the 101st and the 10th Lincs holding a reserve line between Hille and Sint-Jans-Cappel.
The battalion diaries report 361 casualties during April.

This was to be the final actions for the 10th Lincolnshire Regiment and they were moved to Poperinghe and on the 18th may they were reduced to a training cadre with men being transferred to other battalions.

Wilfred was one of the men being transferred and by the 5th June he was back at the Base near Boulogne awaiting his next posting.

This posting came on the 3rd July when he was posted to the 2nd battalion Lincolnshire Regiment and he proceeded to Calais arriving at the 2nd Battalion’s base on the 20th July, three days later being posted to B Company 2nd Battalion.

Within a week or so Wilfred was then attached to the 175th Tunnelling Company of the Royal Engineers. Usually men for infantry Battalions could be attached to guard a tunnelling company. The 175th were to be used to build bridges in the Allied push out of the Somme later in 1918 in the final hundred days.

On the 20th August Wilfred re- joined the 2nd Battalion but it was to be a short service as we can see from the Battalion Diaries.

20th August 1918 – nr Auchonvillers
The disposition of the Battalion shows that B company and thus Wilfred were holding the left outpost on high ground along the Beaucourt- Serre Road in Q.6.d

6pm – The enemy held posts along the Battalion front about 300 yards away, and on right flank, where there was a strong Machine Gun post in Luminous Avenue to cover Beaucourt (Position of this post was in Q.12.b.9.4, about 150 yards from our right post.)
Orders received for 62nd Infantry Brigade to take part at dawn on the following ady in an attack on the enemy’s positions in conjunction with Brigade and Divisions on the flanks. The total frontage of the attack was to be about 9 miles.
The success of the initial attack in the 21st Divisional Sector and the possibility of carrying out further phases depend to a great extent on the capture of Beaucourt. This village was on the right flank of the outpost line held by the battalion, and its capture within half an hour of the battle enabled the remaining Battalions in the Brigade (1st Lincs, 12/13th Northumberland Fusiliers) to advance and reach their objectives.
9pm – Enemy made a determined but unsuccessful raid on the left picquet of “B ” Company. Enemy strength estimated at 50. The enemy attempted to rush both flanks, but was met by the steady fire from the post. A party sent out on the left flank under 2/Lieut A Fairmann caused the enemy at once to withdraw.

21st August 1918 – Luminous Avenue

12:.15am – The enemy opened up an intensive gas bombardment of the area occupied by the 2 support companies, A and D Companies and the communications leading to the front line. This lasted until 12.15am and considerably interfered with these two companies, while they were preparing to move forward. Several severe gas casualties were sustained, but the remainder of the men, although all were suffering from the effects of gas shelling, remained at duty.

2am- Battalion headquarters and “A” and “D” companies moved forward to positions of assembly ready for the assault. Battalion HQ moved to Luminous Avenue Q.12.b.4.7. A company formed up on a line running north east from Luminous Avenue with their right at Q.12.b.8.6. D company formed up on a line running south west from Luminous Avenue in prolongation of A Company. Both companies were on a frontage of 100 yards with 2 platoons in leading wave and 2 platoons in second wave, 25 yards between platoons. Each platoon had 2 sections in front with L.G. Section on flank immediately behind. A bombing party of C company formed up in Luminous Avenue between A and D companies.
The morning was ideal for the forming up, as a thick mist head all movement, and the smoke barrage arranged was consequently cancelled. The enemy post at Q.12.b.9.4. Apparently heard the men forming up and opened fire, but orders were given for a trench mortar to fire a few rounds at the post and no further hindrance was caused.

5.35am – the company is completed the form in up by 5:35 am.

5.45am – zero hour for the attack on Beaucourt was 5:45 am at which our 12 Stokes guns open the barrage on enemy post at Kew.12.18.9.4 and selected targets behind. This fire was well directed and kept the enemy from firing back as well as driving him into his deep dugouts. Stokes motor barrage lifted as the troops advanced, Final stop in at 5:53 am.
At 5:45 am a hurricane bombardment of light colour of the guns was put down for eight minutes onto Beaucourt ruins.
At zero hour exactly, A and D Companies, under cover of this bombardment, moved forward to the assault. The bombing party of the company and the 2nd Lieut R sharpe rushed the enemy post at Q.12.b.9.4., capturing eight prisoners and their machine gun. This allowed A&E companies to move forward without a check. So eager were the men that they were able to keep close up to the fast moving barrage.
A company advanced keeping Luminous Avenue on the right and met little opposition and to reaching the railway road where a machine-gun on the left flank proved troublesome; A Lewis Gun section was sent out so that flank can the enemy retired. A company then move forward to the railway which was then consolidated.
D company advanced, keeping aluminous Avenue on their left. The leading wave – the head and reach railway road with but little opposition; the two platoons following behind encountered the enemy coming out of the numerous the dugouts. These were bombed and many taken prisoner. A party of the enemy was seen on the right flank in Railway Road, and these, after being fired on by Lewis Guns, surrendered. The left leading platoon of the company lost direction on getting to railway road and proceeded to crossroads in Beaucourt at Q.7.d.3.8. This platoon as it turned out was most useful in guarding the left flank.
There was a short delay in the ruins of Beaucourt, while dugouts and small parties of the enemy were cleared up, and the two platoons then continued the advance to the railway. I then ordered A company to consolidate the line of the railway and D company to form a support line along railway road, paying attention into each case to the left flank. The total number of prisoners captured by the two companies was three officers and 90 other ranks, who belonged to the 68 RI regiment 16 R Division.

10am – by this time the mist cleared and considerable trouble was caused from machine-gun fire from Logging Support., South of the River Ancre, and throughout the afternoon the position was heavily shelled.

At 3:30 pm 12/13th Northumberland Fusiliers push trolls across to the south side of the River Ancre but made little progress owing to machine-gun fire from Thiepval Ridge.

At 8:45 pm the company were able to get in touch with 1st E. Yorks at R.8.A.45.35.

At 3 am on August 22 A + D companies were relieved by one company Northumberland Fusiliers (12/13th) and March to Acheux.
This was necessary I went to the large number of men who had been gassed.

2pm – the two companies holding the outpost line, B and C companies, were ordered to assemble and moved to the line reached by the 1st Lincolnshire Regiment in their advance. C company move forward on the right and B company on the left, both companies moving in artillery formation. On reaching the valley in R.1.B and D, the two companies passed through the 1st Lincolnshire Regiment and advanced to the sunk road in R.3.C.

This action continued non stop for the 2nd Battalion until the 26th, 4 days later, when they were relived and placed in Brigade Reserve. However for Wilfred Harris the damage had been done on the 21st.

The Battalion Diary for August reports that the casualties were:-
Killed, 1 Officer and 32 Ranks
Wounded, 2 officers and 132 Ranks
Missing, 1 Officer and 5 Ranks.
A large note in the margin states that this did not include men gassed.

The normal procedure for a wounded man would mean being taken to a Aid and Bearer (First aid) post close to the front line to be assessed by a medical officer. From here the route would be by stretcher bearers of the Field Ambulance back to an advanced dressing station to get further treatment before being evacuated to a casualty clearing station. At the casualty clearing station, typically a few miles behind the lines, he would once again be assessed and then arrangements made to place him on an ambulance train to take him back to the Base Hospital. At any stage he could be patched up and sent back to the line if he was still physically fighting fit.

For Wilfred he was taken to the 11th Field Ambulance and then moved down the line reaching the 34th Casualty Clearing Station at Fienvillers being admitted on the 30th August with the effects of Gas Mist.
After initial treatment he was then moved by 10th Ambulance train and arrived at the 7th Stationary Hospital at Boulogne on the 7th September 1918.

In total Wilfred would stay a total of 2 months in hospital, exactly where for the full period is unknown. Once discharged he reported to number 2 Infantry Command Depot, a military convalescent camp. Once there he was found to be an unsuitable case for a command depot as he was diagnosed with organic heart disease and proceeded on leave under act 1056/18 with instructions to report direct to the 3rd Battalion on expiration of the same. This meant in effect he was struck off strength of the depot on the 16th November 1918 and posted to the 3rd Battalion on the 24th November 1918.

On the 8th December 1918 Wilfred was discharged from Army service, being no longer physically fit or war service

The official Army Medical Report on a Soldier Boarded Prior to Discharge or Transfer reports that Wilfred was suffering from severe V.D.H. (Valvular Disease of the Heart) due to mustard gas poisoning in August 1918. No previous history of rheumatic fever. The patient complains of angina like pains in left shoulder and arm. There is a long list of medical terminology in the report written in very bad handwriting.
The medical officer’s verdict was a 70% disablement for 12 months. It also recommended that he should be discharged as permanently unfit.
This was signed by the medical officer Captain Chas Hannigan in Cork. The papers were stamped at Dublin on 8th December 1918.

After a service lasting four and a half years with two and a half years in France, having been present at all of the major battles that the 10th Battalion and then the 2nd went through, Private Wilfred Hart Harris was discharged from the Army on the 8th December 1918 and was awarded the silver war badge number B58015.

However unfortunately that is not the end of Wilfred’s story.

Grantham Journal Saturday 21st June 1919
HARRIS – In ever-loving memory of Wilfred Hart, the dearly beloved son of Mr. and Mrs. P. Harris, of Pointon, who died on June 14th, 1919, from the effects of gas poisoning received in France on August 21st, 1918.
We cannot yet realise his death,
It seems a hateful dream:
He died for all of us at home-
A sacrifice supreme.
Mr. and Mrs. Harris wish to thank all kind friends for sympathy shown to them in their sad bereavement and for flowers sent.

Wilfred is buried in a private grave in Sempringham Parish Church, Lincolnshire, a grave that also commemorated his brother killed at Loos.

Remembrance – Alfred Thompson

Our second remembrance of today is Alfred Thompson who was killed this day, 8th June 1917, serving with the 4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment, commemorated on the Bourne and Arras memorials. One of two 4th Battalion men from the Bourne area to fall on this day

Alfred Thompson was born late in 1897 in Little Horton, near Bradford, to George Thompson a railway worker and his wife Annie Susannah Osbourne, both born in Little Horton. George and Annie were married in 1891 in St Peter’s Bradford and were blessed with their first of three children in 1895.
• James Thompson, 1895, Little Horton
• Ellen Thompson, 1896, Little Horton
• Alfred Thompson, 1897, Little Horton

In 1901 the young family are living in Horton where George was working as a carter for the railway and Susannah (Annie Susannah) as a Worsted Spinner.

10 years later Annie (Annie Susannah), Ellen and Alfred can be found living with her parents in Darton Street Bradford. Annie and both children are working in a Worsted Spinning factory and Alfred was employed as a Doffer. A Doffer took the full bobbins off the spinning machines and replaced them with empty ones. George has not been found on the 1911 census to date although Annie lists that she has been married for 18 years and so it is to be assumed that George is still alive.

In September 1913 Annie Susannah, referred to variously as Annie or Susannah Hubbard in official records, remarried to Charles Hubbard in Deeping St Nicholas Fen and in 1919 was living in Tongue End near Bourne Lincolnshire.

As Alfred’s army records have not been found, assumed to have been destroyed in the London Blitz warehouse fire, we can only trace his movements through the surviving records and so some of the dates and information may be approximate.

Alfred enlisted into the 4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment in Spalding around May or June 1915, although the exact date is unknown. The medal rolls show that he has three separate entries for Battalions served, first the 4th Lincs (3941), then the 5th Lincs (3941) and finally the 4th Lincs again (201275).

Alfred enlisted originally into the 4th Battalion and after training was posted to France to join his battalion on 10th December 1915. At that time the Battalion were in Thiennes and on the 22nd December 1915 an entry in the Battalion Diary reports that “106 Reinforcements arrived from the 3/4th Battalion at 2.30pm, kit inspection held on arrival”. This would be Alfred’s first meeting with his Battalion ion the field.

The prospect of a long winter in the trenches was dispelled during the month of January by orders to the 46th Division to embark for Egypt at an early date, and on the 7th January both the 1/4th and 1/5th Battalions left Marseilles in T.S.S. “ Anchises.”
The vessel reached Alexandria on the 13th January and they left by rail for El Shalufa, two miles south of the Bitter Lakes, where, after detraining, they crossed the Suez Canal by ferry, and bivouacked to the east of it.
By day the desert to the east was patrolled by Indian Lancers, but by night each battalion, in turn, furnished an outpost line round the camp. The days were very hot, and the nights cold; any wind that blew carried clouds of dust; nevertheless a fortnight passed very pleasantly.

This peaceful existence came to an end when the 46th Division received sudden orders to return to France, and on the 4th February the 4th Battalion embarked at Alexandria on the “ Minnewaska,” and the 5th on the “ Megantic,” disembarking in Marseilles on the 9th February 1916.
The evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula set free a large number of troops for service in Egypt and the 46th Division was in consequence ordered back to France.

The Battalion then spend time in Ailly Le Haute Clocher training until the end of February and then on to Doullens, it would not be until the 11th of March 1916 that the Battalion would be back in trenches since the 2nd December and Alfred’s first taste of the trenches. Later it in the month was a movement for the Battalion and into trenches around Fonquevillers for June.

Eventually they would be given orders for a Zero Time of 7-30am for a planned attack on the 1st July, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Their orders were to “take over a trench line south of the Gommecourt Road on the night of 27th/28th” This was to be their sector for the big push and they were to attack Gommecourt although the 4th battalion was not in the front wave.
The Battalion Diary does not give much detail for the Battle of the Somme and they remained in the trenches until the 8th July when they were relived and dropped back to Bienvillers to provide working parties.

Alfred’s next mention in any documents is on the 10th July 1916 when we find A Thompson of B Company 1/4th Lincs being admitted to the 2nd General Hospital at Le Havre with Suppuration of the Lymph Glands, axilla (Axillary Lymph Nodes). After two days in the General Hospital he was transferred to H.S. Carisbrook Castle and returned to England.

Usually after convalescence, if fully fighting fit, a man would be pushed back to the front but depending upon the level of fitness obtained it was possible that they were assigned to a Home Service Unit for duties such as defending ammunitions factories, military facilities or docks until the point when they were declared fit for a return to the Front.
It was very usual for a man to be sent back to France and then at the base camp be assigned or posted to a Battalion or Regiment that needed men as reinforcements the most urgently.

We have no records to say what happened in Alfred’s case although his medal roles show that he was posted to the 5th Battalion (still with regimental number 3941) and then back to the 4th Battalion (regimental number 201275) at some point in his war story. All we can say for certain is that when he was killed he was back with the 4th Battalion.

The following shows the movements of the 4th Battalion in the month before Arthur Thompson’s death and are taken from the 4th Battalion diaries. This is the most accurate way of seeing Arthur’s movements over the last days of his life.

May 28th 1917 – Bovigny Boyeffles
The 138th Brigade (Lincolns and Leicesters) was withdrawn from the line, the 4th Battalion Lincolns taking up billets at Bouvigny Boyeffles. There it was that the striking news reached them. The Battalion had been honoured by the command to take part in an extensive enterprise on a 2000 yards front North West., West and South West of Lens. The 138th Infantry Brigade being further represented by the 5th Leicesters. Our Battalion was thrilled with the news and one heard repeatedly the remark “Our first real chance since Hohenzollern”

29th May – June 3rd 1917 – Bouvigny Boyeffles
Training began in earnest. A replica to scale of the ground over which the attack would be launched was planned and laid out at Marqueffles Farm a mile or so South East of Bouvigny. From “assembly trenches” one’s eye ranged forward to persuasive notice boards announcing in bold letters “Railway Cutting” and “Bridge Destroyed”, on past crinoline wire entanglements to objective trenches, first and second line strongholds of the enemy, strangely quiescent, and labelled according to their map designations, Ahead, Agnes, Alcove, Archie, Alice, Amy, Admiral and Annie such were the communications and trenches guarding hill 65. These it was, the Battalion was to storm.
Daily to the practice ground went the Battalion joined by D Company (captain Wakeley) of the 4th Leicesters – our “Moppers-up” elect. The artillery and machine gun barrage to cover our advance and keep the impetuous in check was indicated by flagmen and thus the progress of the attacking waves was directed.
On six successive days the course was covered. Forward at Zero to the “Cutting”, half right form to face the objective trenches, B Company then edging away to the left, half D Company inclining to the right and joining up with C Company on that flank. “Moppers-up” in position behind the first wave – Gradually the movement attained a clock work precision and every man wac capable of pushing his path blindfold.
On the seventh day Dress rehersal. General Holland 1st Corps Commander, General W Thwaites 46th Division G.O.C, Colonel Thorpe Commanding 138th Infantry Brigade (Whose presence and responsibility for the tactical dispositions inspired the confidence of all ranks), and their staffs surveyed the final training bout. Fully equipped with arms, spades, picks, bombs, lights and flares the “Attack” began. The repeated “Toot toot” of a “claxton” from a contact plane aloft completed the programme. Flares were lighted to announce the progress of the advance.

4th June 1917
The higher commands were satisfied. It only remained to form up and receive the confident good wishes of the staff, and , with a full day’s rest on the morrow, all were ready and impatient for the real thing.

5th June 1917
A day of well-earned rest.

6th June 1917
On the morning of the June 6th the Commanding Officer announced to the Battalion, at a special parade, that plans had been altered and instead of the premeditated operation the attack was to be a series of destructive raids. The same evening the Battalion marched away from Bouvigny and billeted in the ruins of Cite Des Bureaux, Lievin.

7th June 1917 – Cite Des Bureaux, Lievin

8th June 1917 – Cite Des Riaumont
The 8th June arrived – a perfect summer day. The afternoon was spent in moving up to the cellars in Cite De Riaumont adjoining the assembly trenches. All Companies reached these without mishap except D Company which lost the services of 2nd Lieut E A Dennis (13 Platoon) wounded by one of the enemy’s shells that were already finding our starting zone.
Time crept on towards zero. “Sausages” enlivened the waiting period as they crashed on and around the ruins which sheltered us. Well before 8pm “C”, “D” and “B” Companies were in position in their respective assembly trenches. In some way the enemy seems to have known our timed movements and intentions. The intensity of the barrage to which the assembled troops was subjected was and experience no one on the spot is likely to forget.
“D” Company fared worst as, while the bombardment of their sector was accurate to a degree, on the flank sectors it was sufficiently plus to miss the assembled platoons.

At Zero – 3 Captain R D Ellis commanding D Company and Captain Wakeley O.C. 4th Leicesters “Mopping-Up” Company were caught by the same shell as they came into position in the rear trench. Both were killed outright.

At 8:30pm the synchronised signal to advance was given. C Company on the right got away without mishap, two platoons South of Cutting and one under 2nd Lieut A B Hardy, who was wounded almost immediately, to bring covering fire from the Cutting. D Company in the centre as soon as they “Jumped Off”, by ranks and increased intervals to lessen gaps, showed the effects of their experience in the assembly trenches. B Company on the left were a joy to behold as they went over the line.
The Cutting was reached.
D Company by this time reduced by half its number and B company, already caught by the enemy’s guns, scaled the further slope of the Cutting together and advanced to their objectives. Captain E.J.S. Maples commanding B Company was at this juncture struck in the forearm by an ugly piece of shell case but continued the advance with his men. Owing to the position of their line being oblique to the “A” Barrage and the stokes mortars which were to deal with this sector being put out of action, the enemy had time to man his trenches from his dug-outs. C Company with the platoon of the 5th Leicester’s on their right were completely held up. When the first waves of “D” & “B” Companies reached the first German trench his barrage was already on it, and a temporary check occurred until the reinforcing waves came up. Owing to this check we were unable to keep up with our barrage, and the enemy had lined his second trench before our arrival there. Hand to hand fighting ensued and after a further advance of D Company to the South and B Company to the East the odds became overwhelming. We fell back first to Ahead and then the Cutting. Meantime Sergeant Quinton E, with his platoon got further afield than the rest. It was during this stage of the fight that B Company lost 2nd Lieut R T Thomson and 2nd Lieut H C Chase, both of whom died gloriously, the former a result of a second wound and the latter from a shell burst. Sergeant E Quinton, B Company, and his platoon after several attempts to re-join their comrades, in which they repeatedly bumped up against strong parties of the enemy, finally succeeded in rushing an opposition post and fighting their way back to our line, after having been in the German lines for four hours; a triumph of leadership on the part of Sergeant E Quinton. The demolished bridge on the right flank was at once mamed, and under 2nd Liuet W F Maskell (D Company 14 Platoon) kept the enemy at respectful distance, sterling work being done by the Lewis gun. The front of the Cutting was lines by the remnant of B and D Companies under Captain E J S Maples and was held until orders for withdrawal to Assembly Trenches was received, A Company having manned our original line of posts. It was not till then that Captain E J S Maples withdrew from the fight and had his arm properly dressed, some 3 hours after he was wounded.

The greatest assistance had been rendered throughout by the 138th Machine Gun Company under Major A A Ellwood, a 4th Lincoln officer and particularly by a detachment of two of his guns under Lieut Stentiford, manned by 4th Lincolns.

The attack on the right hand had gone well, A Company 4th Leicesters having reached their objectives and sent back 27 prisoners.

9th June 1917 – Chateau (Leivin)
The day was spent reorganising Companies. Evacuation of wounded continues and by night search parties went out, discovering two more wounded men and a number of dead, who before had been reckoned as missing. On the night of the 9th we were relieved by the 5th Lincolns and moved to billets in Aix Noulette. Here we rested that night and also the following day.

10th June 1917 – Aix Noulette
In the afternoon we were honoured by a visit of the G.O.C the Battalion paraded in clean fatigue and were addressed by the General. He expressed himself well pleased with the excellent fighting qualities our men showed, and with the number of Boches they killed.

On the night of the 10th we moved into support in Lievin.

Private Alfred Thompson was killed in the actions that took place during the attack on the 8th June.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Private Alfred Thompson, 201275, 1st/4th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 8 June 1917 Age 19. Son of Mrs Susannah Hubbard (formerly Thompson) Tongue End, Spalding, Lincs. Remembered with honour, Arras Memorial.

We Will Remember Them

https://southlincolnshirewarmemorials.org.uk/…/alfred-…/