Remembrance – Anthony Ellingworth

Today we remember Private Anthony Ellingworth of Horbling who was killed in action on 10th July 1916, serving with the 10th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment.

 

Anthony Ellingworth was born  in October 1887 and was baptised in Billingborough Church on the 23rd October 1887. His father Henry Ellingworth, who had worked as a Miller at Stow Mill, was born in Horbling in 1851 and married Sarah Harriss in the Sleaford District in 1875. Sarah was born in Walcott, near Billinghay, in 1852.

When Henry married Sarah in 1875 she already had one son, Mason Harris who was born in 1873.

 

The couple originally lived around Billinghay but had moved to High Street Billingborough by 1879, two years later the census gives Henry’s occupation as a journeyman Miller.

 

The census of 1891 finds the family in Horbling.  By now the family had expanded to 10 out of their eventual family of 11 children and Henry is now listed as a general labourer. Their children were:-

 

  • Mason Harris, 1873, Helpringham (half brother)
  • Herbert Henry Ellingworth, 1875, Billinghay
  • Minnie Ellingworth, 1877, Billinghay
  • William Ellingworth, 1879, Billingborough
  • Frank Ellingworth, 1881, Billingborough
  • Edith Ellingworth, 1882, Billingborough
  • Susannah Ellingworth, 1883, Billingborough
  • Sarah Elizabeth Ellingworth, 1885, Billingborough
  • Anthony Ellingworth, 1887, Billingborough
  • Thomas Ellingworth, 1889, Horbling
  • Harris Ellingworth, 1892, Horbling

 

In 1901 the family are still in Horbling, Henry working as an Agricultural Labourer and the thirteen year old Anthony is working as a Groom Boy, but this states ‘not domestic’ and therefore we are to assume that he is a groom on a farm.

 

Unfortunately in November 1909 Henry dies leaving the now 36 year old Sarah in Horbling with four children still at home in 1911. Each child is now grown up William working as a Farm Labourer, Elizabeth a Domestic, Thomas and Harris both working as Grooms.

Anthony by now has moved away from home, living in Grantham and has a job as a Railway Signalman. He is living with William Dunmore, a Railway Goods Guard, and his family at 56 Red Cross Street. Anthony is living in the household as a Boarder along with William’s wife, two school aged sons and their three year old daughter. As this is only a five room house we can imagine that life was very cramped for Anthony.

 

When war was declared it did not take the now 27 year old Anthony long to answer the call of duty and he enlisted in Bradford possibly in August of 1914.

Anthony’s service records have not been found and so using a calculation on the War gratuity payment that his mother Sarah received, it would indicate that he joined in the Month following the 11th August. This is also confirmed by a newspaper clipping saying that he enlisted soon after the declaration of war.

 

Research into Anthony’s war has to be made by piecing together surviving records such as Pension and Battalion Diaries. 60% of all WW1 service records were destroyed in a warehouse fire in the London Blitz during WW2.

 

On enlisting Anthony was  given the regimental number of 11733, and then at some point posted to the 10th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment.

The 10th Battalion was formed in September 1914 as part of Kitchener’s Third Army. After being formed in Halifax they were then moved to Frensham for training as part of the 69th Brigade of the 23rd Division. Following on from Frensham they were moved to Aldershot where training continued.

 

In February 1915 they moved to Folkestone and then Bramshott before eventually being mobilised for war in August 1915.

 

If a soldier was posted for overseas service before the end of November 1915 he would receive the 1915 Star as a medal, unfortunately no record of this can be found with Anthony.

We have however found that there is a 1915 Star medal roll in the name of J W Ellingworth with the same 11733 regimental number, serving with the Duke of wellington’s. As there cannot be two regimental numbers in the same Battalion we have to assume that Anthony and J W Ellington are one in the same.

Newspaper articles after his death do say that he had been in France for something like 11 months and the letter from his Sergeant says that Anthony had been under him for 9 months .

Anthony also known as  J W Ellingworth to the Army for whatever reason, arrived in France on the 28th August 1915.

 

The Battalion Diary tells of their mobilisation from Bramshott. The Battalion received their orders on the 23rd August 1915, and they left Liphook Station in three parties starting on the 24th.

The first Party consisted of transport, machine Gun Section and 110 men of A company sailed to Harvre from Southampton. The remaining parties sailed to Boulogne from Folkestone on the 27th.

 

On arriving at 11:30pm in Boulogne the main party encamped for the night two and a half miles from the harbour. At 5am they were on the move again eventually arriving at Watten around 4pm, then marching to Nortleulinghem and their billets, once again meeting up with the transport section.

 

Here the Battalion undertook training consisting mainly of route marches and it was not until the 6th September that they marched out of Nortleulinghem for Wallon Cappell. The next day it was marching again and the destination of Outersteen. The 50mile march over two days took its toll especially on the first day when the 20 miles plus a mixture of hard roads and great heat was given as the cause for numerous men to fall out.

 

They were now in the Ballieul sector of the western front to receive instruction, eventually on the 13th September the men of C and D companies saw trenches for the first time and were there for 24 hours of instruction. A and B companies taking over the trenches then next day for their 24 hour instruction.

 

We refer again to the Battalion Diary to take us through Anthony’s and the Battalion’s first action of the war.

 

The first full tour of the trenches took place on the 15th September and now the Battalion had taken over the trenches occupying T52, T53, T54 and part of the Bois Grenier line from Moat Farm to the North east. Despite enemy sniping during the Battalion reported no casualties.

 

On the 16th the Battalion Diary reports: ‘ All quiet. Artillery duel over our heads. German’s retaliated on our trenches but did no damage – we suffered our 1st casualty no 13684 Pte Arthur Hargreaves A Company was sniped whilst cooking his dinner. He died instantaneously. In the evening the dumping ground was swept by machine gun fire by the enemy, during this time Lance Corporal 11611 R W Tillebrooke of A Company was shot through the head. Both casualties were buried in the Bois Grenier Church Yard, crosses were erected over their bodies.

During their first tour of the trenches a few other things were of note apart from the weather which was described as ‘all you could wish for’. On the night of the 17th an alarm was sent up that the Germans were attacking our trenches but no attack arrived.

On the 19th the trenches were passed over by hostile aircraft and anti-aircraft ammunition was wasted on them as none were hit.

That same night the Germans shouted across to our lines, but what they said was hardly audible as we are 400yards from their trenches.

 

A great bombardment was started from our side on the 21st September and during a period of enemy retaliation one of the two tanks in the water farm was punctured. This was serious it was now difficult to maintain a big supply of water.

During the that night working parties were using sand bags to surround the remaining water and then on the second day of the Bombardment the Battalion received orders that on the Wednesday they were to carry out an attack.

 

24th September 1915

At 4am all were in position and at 4.25am the bombardment commenced, all guns of all calibre and rifles were firing rapid. The Germans sent up many flares but did not retaliate until our bombardment ceased. They then sent several heavy shells and Whizz Bangs into us without however doing any harm to the trenches. During this affair  5 men were wounded some seriously. After this all was quiet for some hours at about 9am our guns commenced a steady bombardment of the enemy lines, doing much damage to their parapets but very little otherwise.

The enemy retaliated with heavy shells (4-5 howitzers and 77mil) which damaged our communication trenches in parts. During the morning we suffered a casualty No 11641 Pte A Flitcroft, D Company. He was shot through he head by a sniper. In the afternoon one man was wounded.

In the evening we got the order to cut gaps in our wire. Operational orders were given to the companies. In the evening hostile aircraft were active but owing to the wet and a stiff breeze did not remain in the air long. During the night all was quiet, working parties from each company went outside our parapet and cut openings in our wire, through which we could pass if the order to advance was given.

 

25th September 1915

4.25am – Punctually to the minute a most terrific bombardment by our artillery on the German lines commenced. This was the commencement of. Forward movement by the 3rd Army Corps which in its turn was a small part of a large advance by the French and English troops.

Almost simultaneously the enemy retaliated and a terrible artillery fire was kept up for several hours and did not quieten until about 2pm. For the most part, the German shells burst behind our firing trench

 and in consequence little material damage was done . The moral effect however was great. Our men were splendid, especially considering it was their first real action. During the morning we only suffered 14 casualties of which only 2 were serious, one proved fatal the man dying shortly after being admitted to the field ambulance.

At 4.30am the 8th Division crossed to the German trenches covered by smoke bombs and took over the trenches with no difficulty. They passed on, meanwhile the 69th Brigade of infantry 10th Duke of Wellingtons and 8th Yorkshire Regiment being in fire trenches kept up a bombardment with rifle fire which had the effect of drawing a great portion of the enemy fire from the troops which were actually attacking. During the morning, no orders were received to advance. The attacking battalions were relieved during the day which showed a very satisfactory advance by the allies.

The message with reference to the German movement afterwards from Lille gave misgivings of a heavy counter attack by the enemy. The men by now are completely worn out having been 12 nights in succession in the trenches, followed up by this terrible bombardment

 

26th September 1915

The morning of the 26th a Brigade order was received to the effect that the Battalion would be relieved

 by the 11th West Yorkshire and that we were to take over their billets about 1 1/2 miles north of Bois Grenier. During the day it was exceptionally quiet.

Reassuring Bulletins were received from HQ showing good progress on the part of the allies, the French as well as on the part of the British troops.

At 7.30pm reliefs commenced and by 11.30pm was complete. By 12.30pm the battalion was in its new billets, which consisted of small huts specifically built for the purpose.

During the last two days in the trenches, owing to the mud which was ankle deep, matters were rather uncomfortable for the men.

 

27th – 30th September 1915

Nothing to report. Good news continued to arrive from all sides. On the morning of the 30th C & D companies relieved the 8th Yorks in the Bois Grenier line. Weather colder and some rain.

 

This extract from the Diary shows that the Battalion had a fairly through first tour of the trenches, 12 nights in total and during this time they has received their first casualties, seen hostile aircraft, been subject to artillery and machine gun fire, been in support of a forward advance, been ankle deep in water and provided working parties to save their drinking water and cutting their own wire.

 

We  now move forward to Christmas 1915 and the Battalion were in billets at Rolanderie farm near Erquinghem to the south west of Armentieres.

 

24th December 1915

Still very rainy, to walk about is difficult, our heavy artillery has been at work all day, nothing further to report.

CHRISTMAS EVE – artillery duels in progress ours is sending some very heavy shells over. A plentiful supply of useful presents has arrived for the Battalion and all are making as merry as possible under the circumstances.

 

25th December 1915

The weather continues rainy. Artillery duels are still in progress our heavies being particularly active. A concert for the Battalion has been arranged for.

The above mentioned took place in a large barn close to billets which was prettily decorated. The programme which is attached was gone through and greatly enjoyed.

Our heavy artillery is very active again. The rain came on very heavily and continued through the night.

 

 

During 1916 the Battalion would be part of the relief of the French 17th Division between Boyaude l’Ersatz and the Souchez River and the German attack on Vimy Ridge, before arriving on the Somme for the Start of the Battle of the Somme with, the Battle for Albert, The Battle of Bazentin Ridge, The Battle of Pozieres, The Battle of Fleurs-Courcelette, The Battle of Morval, The Battle of Transloy and the Capture of Sars.

 

Unfortunately for Anthony he would not see many of those battles and to continue his story we move forward to the start of the Battle of the Somme once again told from the 10th Battalion Diary.

 

The battalion were in Enquin Les Mines on the 23rd June when they received orders to move the next day to The Somme by train, travelling by night via Lillers, Chocques, Calonne Ricoart, St Pol, Doullens, Vignacourt, through Amiens to Longueau. They detrained at 2.30pm.

The Battalion moved off again at 4am on the 25th passed through Amiens to Fremont where they took over billets at 9am. Eventually by the 30th June, the eve of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the Battalion had moved on to Coisy and billets and bivouacs.

 

1st July 1916 – Coisy

Fine day . A little training being done, received orders from Brigade that the Battalion would be prepared to move at 6 hours notice. Definite orders soon followed and the Battalion moved off at 8pm.

 

2nd July 1916 – Baizieux

Arrived at Baizieux at 2am. The Battalion was rested by the best means at disposal about 7.30 received orders that the Battalion would move at 8.25pm to North West of Albert. The place was reached at midnight and Battalion was bivouacked in a field.

 

3rd July 1916 -Becourt

Received orders that the Battalion would move to Becourt Wood. We formed up at 11am and arrived at 4pm. There we stayed the night.

 

4th July 1916 – Becourt

Still at Becourt Wood. During the day there was a heavy downpour of rain and as a consequence things were not comfortable. During the evening orders were received to capture and consolidate certain positions.

 

5th July 1916 – Trenches

A copy of the operations carried out is attached marked ‘A’. This is the first time that the Battalion has been employed on an attack, and it is a great pleasure for me to say that all ranks worked magnificently.
 The Battalion is composed of the real material. The men worked well under the guidance of their officers. Many ddeds of valour were performed by both officers and men. Our casualties read as follows:-

4 officers killed, 2 officers wounded, 13 other ranks killed, 66 other ranks wounded

Discipline played an important part in the operations and the training of the past 10 months in this country has not been work in vain. There was much individual effort and intelligence shown. The battalion was relieved by the 8th Yorks Regiment, the Battalion returning to Becourt Wood – the relief complete at 10pm. The undermentioned officers were lost to the Battalion and are greatly missed – they were popular with all ranks.

Captain H M S Carpenter – Killed

Lieutenant A K Laverack – Killed

Lieutenant L Hammond – Killed

2nd Lieut W D Taylor – Killed

2nd Lieut C Snell – Wounded

2nd Lieut C G Meryweather – Wounded

 

6th July 1916 – Becourt

Fine day which was spent easily, the men cleaning themselves up and relating to each other their past recent experiences. At 7pm orders were received for the Battalion to move to a field for the night south of Albert. Arrived there at 8.30pm. A good square meal was provided for all ranks.

 

7th July to 8th July 1916 – Lozenge

Reveille 4am, received orders to issue two days’ iron rations to the Battalion. Moved off at 6am & marched via Becourt Wood to the captured trenches on the left of Lozenge Wood.

Rain began to fall heavily at 9am and continued throughout the day. The 24th infantry brigade attacked Horse Shoe Trench and Shelter Alley. About 8pm the Battalion moved to the dump at Lozenge Wood where they were at once instructed to dig themselves in. We sustained a few casualties during the process.

 

9th July 1916 – Trenches

Artillery is moving forward. In the late evening C&D Companies were fitted up with all requirements for an attack and they were accompanied by about 50 of the Royal Engineers and proceeded to the front line system of defences, to the left rear of Peak’s Wood. A & B Companies moved to the right of Sunken Road and dug themselves in whilst HQ proceeded to the German Bakery on the left of the same wood. This bakery is a substantial construction and is about 20 feet below the surface and has two tunnel staircases. It is at present being used by our own men as an advanced dressing station. It is quite proof against shell fire. Beyone heavy artillery fire there is nothing to report.

 

10th July 1916 – Contalmaison

About 6pm A & B Companies moved up to the trenches occupied by C & D Companies and just at this point the enemy placed a heavy barrage on the ridge and heavily shelled the now crowded trenches causing many casualties. C & D Companies advanced on Contalmaison and were followed later by A & B Companies as will be seen in the attached copy of operations marked ‘B’ the attack on the village by the 69th Brigade was a great success. Our HQ assisted by a carrying party of the Duke of Lancaster’s Own carried stores, ammunition, bombs etc. straight by the road to Contalmaison and assisted in the consolidation of the captured positions. A large quantity of 4.2 shells and stores of other descriptions were found in dug-outs, they having been abandoned by the enemy in his flight. Our artillery kept up a continuous barrage and we held the position.

 

11th July 1916

About 3am our machine guns were in action against a small party of the enemy, who it is thought were coming to surrender. Our men did not leave anything to chance, as the light was bad their intention could only be assumed. They however returned. Judging by the state of the village, the enemy did not intend to leave this position and was probably under the impression that it was impregnable. The artillery worked magnificently. They were called upon to make a great effort and responded to it. It is impossible to speak too highly of the that branch of the service. The Battalion moved into a field North West of Albert and bivouacked for the night.

 

Private Anthony Ellingworth of the 10th battalion Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment was killed in action on the 10th July during the attack on Contalmaison.

 

———————————–

Grantham Journal Saturday 19th August 1916
Lance-Corpl. ANTHONY ELLINGWORTH,
of Horbling
Lance-Corpl. Anthony Ellingworth, the fifth son of the late Mr. Henry and Mrs. Ellingworth, of Horbling, Folkingham, was killed in action during the great advance at the beginning of July.  Lanc-Corpl. Ellingworth enlisted in the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment soon after the declaration of war, and had been our in France for something like eleven months.  during that time, he had been in many engagements, and had, luckily come out unscathed.  The news of his death will be received in the village with the profoundest regret.  His mother has received a sympathetic letter from Sergt. B. McAvan, of her son’s regiment.  He states- “He was the best lad in the Company, and all the boys send you their deepest sympathy in your trouble.  He was loved by everyone, because he was such a good, quiet lad, and it’s a pity to be losing such fine young fellows.  I have had him under me this last nine months, so I know well enough.”

 

 

Sgt Brian McAvan was awarded the Military Medal during  July 1916 but he would himself be killed in action on the 3rd May 1917.

 

 

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:

  • In memory of Private Anthony Ellingworth, 11733, 10th Bn., Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) who died on 10 July 1916. Remembered with honour, Thiepval Memorial

 

Anthony Ellingworth is also commemorated on the Roll of Honour in St Andrew’s Church Horbling Lincolnshire.

Remembrance – Ralph Pattison

Yesterday we remembered local Bourne man Lance-Corporal Ralph Pattison who was killed in action on this day, 3rd July 1916, serving with the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment at the Battle of the Somme.

Ralph was born in 1883 to Richard Newton Pattison a tailor for 40 years of Eastgate Bourne and his wife Fanny, nee Kettle.

Richard Newton Pattison was born in Redbourne, Lincolnshire in 1845 and although a master tailor has served 10 years with the 10th (North Lincoln) Regiment of Foot being discharged in August 1871, after seeing service across the world. including time in Yokohama, Japan.

Richard Pattison settled in Bourne after his discharge and married Fanny Kettle of Bourne in 1878. Fanny was born in Bourne in 1857 although currently her parents are not known to us.

A year later their first child, Richard Newton Pattison was born in Bourne and the couple went on to have 14 children including one set of twin girls. The children were:-

• Richard Newton Pattison, 1879, Bourne (Royal Flying
Corps)
• John Pattison, 1880, Bourne
• Alice Annie Pattison, 1882, Derby
• Ralph Pattison, 1883, Bourne – (1st Lincs)
• Frank Pattison, 1884, Bourne – (Australian Colonial
Force)
• Stephen Pattison, 1886, Bourne – (farrier Sergeant)
• Fanny Pattison, 1888, Bourne
• Arthur Pattison, 1890, Bourne
• May Pattison, 1891, Bourne (Twin)
• Rosamond Pattison, 1891, Bourne (Twin)
• Harry Pattison, 1893, Bourne (Bugler 3/4th Lincs)
• Elizabeth Mary Pattison, 1895, Bourne
• Charlie Pattison, 1897, Bourne (Northants Field
Artillery)
• Emma Pattison, 1900, Bourne

In 1891 Ralph can be found living with his parents and siblings in Eastgate Bourne. At the time Richard was a Tailor being employed. John, Alice, Ralph and Frank were all listed as scholars with youngest son Stephen aged 4.

Ten years later the census of 1901 shows that the family now lived on Willoughby Road and by now Richard is a Master Tailor working at home on his own account. Robert (sic, Richard) was working as a journeyman tailor, Ralph now 17, was working as a Maltster’s Labourer and Frank as a wheelwright. Stephen, May, Rosamund, Harry, Charlie and 4 month old Emma was still in the household.

Ralph, married Florence Rimmington in 1904, she was born on 1st August 1884 in Grantham Lincolnshire.

By 1911, Ralph Pattison, now married to Florence, was living on Willoughby Road, Bourne with his wife and they had two children of their own,
• Florence Daisy (better known as Daisy) born in 1904 in
Bourne.
• Gladys May Pattison, born 1905 in Bourne, died 1906.

Ralph was by now working as a Horse Slaughterer, now doubt at the Slaughter House on the outskirts of Bourne at the end of Eastagte.

Before the war Ralph Pattison was also the Band Master of the Bourne Brass Band, and all six of the Pattison Boys that enlisted during the war were musicians.

Ralph enlisted into the Lincolnshire regiment in Bourne, just after 4th November 1914. His residence on enlistment or during the war changed to Pagnall, Newark, Nottinghamshire.
Ralph’s full service records cannot be found and it is assumed, that along with 60% of WW1 men’s service records, were destroyed in a London warehouse fire in the Blitz.

The following description of Ralph’s war story has been pieced together from other records and the Battalion diaries of the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment.

The 1st battalion embarked for France between the 11th and 16th August 1914, although at this time Ralph had not enlisted.
From his War Gratuity Payment (Made to his widow Florence after his death) we can calculate that he enlisted in the month following the 4th November 1914 and then following his basic training he was shipped to France to join the 1st Battalion in he field, 24th April 1915.
At this time the Battalion was based in Dickebusch, 3 miles South West of Ypres.

The Battalion Diary notes:
27th April 1915 – Quiet on our front all day. Artillery active on both sides until noon. Dickebusch again bombarded. 2nd Lt Brook who had returned from divisional rest camp was wounded. Lt Quartermaster F W Masters slightly wounded, The Sergeant Drummer Killed. A draft of 79 other ranks joined at Dickebusch in the evening. Owing to Dickebusch being shelled the transport was ordered to move to a place about 1 mile N.W of the village. Casualties 2 officers wounded, 1 other rank killed.

The 79 other ranks left Dickebusch and arrived at Rosenthal Chateau on the 28th April and were posted to companies on the 29th April.
That night B company relieved C Company in the fire trenches. This swapping of companies in the front line trenches would continue until the 26th May when the Battalion was finally relived by the 2nd King’s Own Scottish Borderers and were moved back to billets at Outerdom where they would rest for two days before dropping back to Vlamertinghe. Here they formed an overnight party of 600 to dig new trenches in the rear of the Royal Fusiliers. The rest of the month would be seen out based around the same area, still resting and with working parties being formed each night.

In June the Battalion formed part of the attack on Bellewaarde on the 16th June in which local men Edward Backlog and James Burt were killed and this would be Ralph’s first taste of a planned action and this was described in detail in the Battalion Diary. This description can be found on our posts of remembrance to Edward Backlog.

In a report dated the 21st August 1915, added to the War Office Casualty list, Ralph Pattison was listed as wounded although no further details have been found. It was usual for the reports to take up to 4 or in some cases 6 weeks to filter through the system and so the locations and exact date is also largely unknown.
In the days immediately before this report the Battalion had been moved from billets at Ouderdam to sanctuary wood and were involved in holding position around the Hooge area. There were only a couple of wounded casualties reported through the diary, although they had previously been in the trenches between the 3rd and the 14th August during which time they had reported between 3 and 14 wounded per day.

The Battalion remained in the area and were also involved in the second Attack of Bellewaarde in September.

As we do not know the nature of Ralph’s wounds or the period it took for him to re-join the Battalion we are not sure of his exact movements and so we can only take up the story of Ralph and the Battalion in June 1916.

On the 20th June 1916 the Battalion evacuated billets in Buire at 6-30am and marched via Meulte to the trenches of the left sector of the 62nd Brigade front, relieving the 10th Battalion Yorks and lancs Regiment. The relief was completed at about 12 noon. The trenches occupied extended from the left X26.b.5.2 to F.2.b.9.7 on the right (Roughly from Becourt to west of fricourt). The extent of the front was about 1400 yards and the distance t the enemy front line was about 300 yards on the left and 180 yards on the right. On their immediate left were the 12th Northumberland Fusiliers and right were the 10th Lincolns. A, B and D companies occupied the right, centre and left fire trenches C company and B.V.R.C (Bermuda Rifle Volunteer Corps) occupied the support trenches Mareschall Street and Bon Accord to the east of Becourt with the battalion HQ at Sausage Valley in dugouts.
They stayed in these trenches and were present to witness the opening of our Bombardment on the 24th June the precursor to the action that was to follow.

In the following days the bombardment would continue. On the fourth day of the bombardment, 27th June, it was noticed that the enemy’s retaliation was greatly reduced according to the description in the Battalion Diary. ‘His artillery retaliation was feeble and his machine guns and rifle fire was only heard at long intervals and was very ineffective. At 11:30am an opportunity of the wind being in our favour was taken, and gas was released from cylinders in our front line trenches. There was no response from the enemy either with artillery or rifle fire.
During the night our Lewis Guns continued to sweep the enemy front line and communication trenches to prevent repairs being carried out.
The early morning, 3am, of the 28th saw the Battalion being relieved on the fifth day of the Bombardment and being taken back to billets in Meaute and remaining on Divisional Reserve.
During this reserve period they received 79 other rank reinforcements on the 30th June.

The description of the commencement of the Battle of the Somme is told from the Battalion Diary.

1st July 1916
The first day of the attack launched by the British in conjunction with he French at the Battle of the Somme.
The 62nd infantry Brigade being in reserve to the 21st Division, the Battalion was ordered to carry S.A.A Mills Grenades and Stokes Mortar bombs to a dump immediately north of the Eastern end of Patch Alley on Sunken Road (X27.b.2.8)
At 8am billets at Meaute were evacuated and the Battalion proceeded as detailed to a position at Bon Accord Street and Mareschall Street where loads were picked up. Battalion Headquarters was established in Aberdeen Avenue. At 1-30pm carrying parties proceeded across the open to the first line captured German trenches and thence to the dump. Parties then returned to the first line captured position and the work of consolidation began in sector X20.d.7.2 on the left to X26d.7.8 on the right. Owing to the terrific effect of our artillery fire during the bombardment of this position, the task proved a very arduous one and was more difficult owing to the fact that the Battalion was subjected to heavy machine gun and artillery fire.
During the works of consolidation, Battalion Headquarters was moved to the captured front line at X26.d.7.9 (half way between Becourt and Lozenge Wood).
At 6pm we were ordered to reinforce the 64th Brigade and proceeded as follows:
B Company to Crucifix Trench (X27b to X28a) with D Company and B.V.R.C. on their right, A and C Companies in support at Sunken Road, the latter company joining up with the 34th Division on our left. Battalion Headquarters was established on the sunken Road at the Dingle (X27.b.2.8).
The position taken over did not appear to have been consolidated at all, thus necessitating working continuously until 3-0am on the Morning of the 3rd July.
The weather was fine and night quiet.
The total strength of the battalion including employ with transport on the morning of the 1st July stood as follows:-
Officers 40, Other Ranks 994

The following casualties were sustained-
Wounded Officers – Captain H Maistall, Lieutenant S A Kirk, 2/Lt E V Edwards, 2/Lt Jacques, 2/Lt G M Rowlands, 2/Lt J J Taylor, 2/Lt Catton, 2/Lt F H Robinson, P T Price. Other ranks killed 3, wounded 105, missing 2, Total all ranks 119.

2nd July 1916
The Battalion still held the position taken up in Crucifix trench and Sunken Road on the 1st.
During the day positions of the Battalion front were heavily shelled, particularly by 16cm Howitzers directed on the junction of C Company with 34th Division in front of Round Wood.
At 6pm orders were received to prepare to attack Birch Tree and Shelter Woods at a moments notice, but another later notice was received that the attack had been postponed.
The night of the 2nd.3rd was quiet and this opportunity was taken to bring in the wounded.
Patrols were sent out during the night and reported all quiet within the enemy’s lines on the front.
The weather was fine the whole day.
Casualties:- Officers Nil, Other ranks Killed 3, Wounded 11. Total all ranks 14.

3rd July 1916
At 5.30am orders were received that the Battalion would attack Birch tree and Shelter Woods. Details were given to companies as follows:-
The Battalion was to attack on a 2 company front and each company on a 2 platoon front. A company was to attack on the left from Birch Tree Wood to the re-entrant in the forward line of trees in Shelter Wood. B company was to attack on the right from A Company on their left to right hand corner of Shelter Wood, joining up at this point with 10th Yorkshire Regiment. C and D companies were to support A and B Companies respectively, BVRC to act as carrying party to the Battalion for SAA Bombs, rations and water.
The Objective was the trench running along the Northern Edge of Birch Tree and Shelter Woods as far as the light railway on the right. The Battalion was supported by the 12th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers with the 13th Bn N. Fus., in reserve.
The attack was preceded by at 20 minute bombardment by guns of all calibres, commencing at 8.40am.
At 8.58am the bombardment became intense and 5 stokes guns which were positioned in Crucifix trench opened rapid fire.
At 9am our leading platoons left the trench to rush the enemy, and on reaching the ridge in front of the wood, came under heavy machine gun fire from both flanks. A Company suffered heavily and their supports and C company were immediately rushed up. B Company on the right were more fortunate and reached the objective without serious loss. Their supports and D Company then reinforced and after disposing of the enemy in the trench immediately commenced the work of consolidation.
About the time when C company had reinforced A Company the commanding officer, Lieut Colonel D H F Grant DSO who had lead A Company was seriously wounded in the head. The command of the Battalion now devolved upon Captain T G Newbury. Both Flanks were strongly opposed by bombing parties and machine guns particularly on the left where one squad of the Battalion Bombers, in spite of enemy bombs and machine gun fire, succeeded in holding up a strong party of the enemy who were seriously troubling that flank, until reinforcements from the 12th N. Fus were able to get up and after very little further resistance. This party of the enemy was captured and made prisoners. The centre encountered little opposition until the objective was reached when it was discovered that the enemy who had taken refuge in dug-outs, were coming out in large numbers and endeavouring to surround us, Bombing parties were sent to deal with these and the enemy, who put up a stubborn resistance, suffered heavily. On the right the resistance was not so determined and a large number of prisoners was taken. At about 2.30pm, the wood was clear and the left flank secure, but the right flank, which was being protected by the 62nd Brigade machine gun company only, was not secured until 4.30pm. When we got in touch with the 10th Battalion Yorks Regiment who had come up and were digging themselves in to join up with the 17th Division on the right. The whole Birch Tree and Shelter Woods was now in our hands and from 5pm to 5.30pm the captured position was heavily bombarded by the enemy’s 15cm Howitzers.
After consolidating the position the Battalion was relieved by 12th N. Fus, withdrew to the Sunken Road (X27b-X27d) and formed a local reserve.
Lieut-Col R H G Wilson now assumed command of the Battalion. The Battalion claims to have captured during the days fighting, 700 prisoners of the 110th, 111th + 186th Regiments, the majority of which belonged to the 86th Regt, including the Battalion Commander and his staff.

The casualties sustained by the Battalion during the days fighting were:-
Officers,
Killed- Lieut R F R Herapath, 2/Lt F Hilton, 2/lt F C Hills
Wounded- Lieut-Col D H F Grant DSO, Lieut G McI S Bruce, Lieut G H Hanning, 2/Lt J H P Barrett, 2/Lt G M Minnifie, 2/Lt W Godfrey-Payton.
Other Ranks,
Killed 34, wounded 191, missing 9.
Total all ranks 243.

4th July 1916
The Battalion withdrew from Sunken Road at about 3.0am, marched to Dernacourt and entrained at 9am. Proceeded by Train to Ailly-Sur-Somme arriving at the latter place at 1.15pm, detrained and Marched to Billets at Argoeuves.

Lance-Corporal Ralph Pattison was killed on the 3rd July 1916 during the action described in the Battalion Diary in the taking of Birch Tree and Shelter Woods.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
• In memory of Lance Corporal Ralph Pattison, 11946, 1st Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 3 July 1916 Age 32. Son of Mr. and Mrs. R. N. Pattison, of Bede House, Banks, Bourne, Lincs.; husband of Florence Reynalds (formerly Pattison), of Field Farm, Ragnall, Newark, Notts. Remembered with honour, Thiepval Memorial

Ralph left a widow, Florence and also 12 year old Daughter Florence Daisy Pattison who had been living on Spalding Road, Bourne during the war. Florence remarried one year later to Fred Reynalds a Farm Labourer.

The Pattison Family was featured in a newspaper article in 1916 in the Spalding guardian with a headline “The Most patriotic in the district” referring to the number of them serving during he war”.
Mr and Mrs R N Pattison, of Eastgate, had six of their sons in the Army, three of them serving in France. In addition another son had twice offered himself, but been rejected.
This is a record of which they may be justly proud. Undoubtedly the sons have inherited the military instincts of the Farther, for over half a century ago Mr Pattison Snr., joined the Army and has served in four quarters of the globe.

Their names from left were Richard Newton Pattison, o the Royal Flying Corps; Mr Pattison a tailor in Eastgate for 40 years and his wife; L-Corpl Ralph Pattison, Lincs Regiment; Farrier-Sgt Stephen Pattison; Frank Pattison, who joined the Colonial Force in Australia; Bugler Harry Pattison, of the 3/4th Lincs Regiment; Charlie Pattison, of the Northants Field Artillery. All men were musicians. (Photograph attached)

We will remember them

http://southlincolnshirewarmemorials.org.uk/…/ralph-p…/

Remembrance – John Francis Cragg

Yesterday we remembered Threekingham man 2nd Lieutenant John Francis Cragg who was killed in action on this day 1st July 1916 on the first day of the Battle of the Somme near Fricourt, serving with the 8th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment.

John Francis, also known as Francis, was born on the 21st of June 1888 in Threekingham to Captain William Alfred Cragg OL JP, 4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment, and his wife Adelaide Alexandra Cragg (nee Gilliat) of the Hall, Folkingham Road, Threekingham, Lincolnshire.

William Cragg was born in 1st November 1859 in Spanby, Lincolnshire and Adelaide was born on 4th June 1864 in either Adelaide or Sydney, Australia. The couple were married in the Battle district of Kent in 1882.

The couple travelled around before settling in Threekingham Lincolnshire as can be seen in the places of birth of their 6 children:

• William Gilliat Cragg, 1883, Moretonhampstead (DSO, Major, 6th Bn Loyal North Lancs)
• John Richard Cragg, 1884, Newton Abbot
• Edward Cragg, 1886, Folkingham (Captain, 23rd Royal Fusiliers, Spotsman’s Battalion)
• John Francis Cragg, 1888, Threekingham (2/Lieut 8th Lincs)
• Mary Adelaide Cragg, 1889, Folkingham
• Noel Henry Cragg, 1892, Threekingham (Royal Navy)

In 1891 The family were living at Loudon House in Threekingham, although on census night only the children were at home being cared for by the servants. Captain William Cragg was visiting Theophiopolus Willing the rector of North Hill, Cornwall. Mother Adelaide has not been found on census night.

John Francis Cragg attended Lancing College near Shoreham, Sussex, from May 1900 in the Seconds House.

Moving on to the census of 1901 and once again on census night Captain William Cragg JP was not home and was a visitor of the Half Moon Hotel in Sheepwash, Devon. Adelaide and the rest of the family are in Threekingham although the address is now given as ‘The Hall’. This included John who we assume was home from school at this time.

John continued at Lancing until July 1906 and was a member of the Officer Training Corps and in his final year was a member of the Shooting VIII. On leaving school Francis became a motor engineer.

In 1911 once again father William Cragg is missing from home, Adelaide is in Churchgate Spalding, a visitor in house of Catherine Hilliam a widow and her 2 daughters. Catherine was living on own means and one daughter was an artist.

By the outbreak of war John was working as Works Manager for The Lincoln Printing Works and was living at 8 North Parade.

We have not been able to research John Francis Cragg through his Service Records as being an officer the collection of records are held at the National Archives which is currently closed due to Coronavirus. These records have never been digitised and therefore are currently unavailable, WO 339/5166.

The following has been pieced together for available records, Battalion Diaries and other sources to best tell the story of John Cragg’s war and some of the dates and locations may not be exact.

John enlisted at Lincoln and was placed into the 4th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment on 29th June 1914, receiving the regimental Number of 2184. He was promoted to Corporal on the 29th August 1914 and as a member of the Territorial Force he had to sign a document to agree to overseas service, which he did on the 29th August.

On the 26th December 1914 John received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant and was posted to the 8th Battalion on the 30th December, going on to serve as a Machine Gun Officer.

The 8th Battalion had been formed in September 1914 and concentrated around Halton Park near Tring. For the winter of 1914 they moved into billets in Leighton Buzzard and more arduous training began.

During the spring of 1915 the Battalion moved to Halton Park Camp, Wendover, and miniature rifle practice. With the completion of the firing of the Musketry Course and a review by Lord Kitchener, the Battalion moved with the division by road to Witley Camp. This move occurred in August 1915 in sweltering heat and gave the Battalion an indication of the strenuous days ahead.

En route to Whitley Camp, Surrey, the Battalion had the honour of marching past His Majesty the King and Lord Kitchener. Final training was completed at Whitley Camp.

The Battalion Diary gives us the story of the Battalion heading abroad and their first overseas action.

10th September 1915 – Whitley Camp
7.10pm. Battalion under the command of Lieu Col H E Walter, left camp at 6pm and entrained at Milford Station, journeyed via Folkestone to Boulogne; in rest camp for 1 day. 28 Officers + 2 Personnel, 993 other ranks.

11th September 1915 – Boulogne
7pm. Entrained at Pont des Briques St, for Watten; Billetsat Bayenghem Les Eperlecques

13th September 1915 – Bayenghem
Captains Preston, Harrison and Lieutenants Parker, Brown and Rowcroft spent 24 hours in the trenches of the 2nd Corps. The first two machine gun sections under Lieutenant R G Cordiner were attached to 63rd Brigade Headquarters Machine Gun Detachment.

14th September 1915
2nd Lieutenant Cragg and Sergeants Cumminns and Wood attended a four day course of instruction at Machine Gun School at Wisques.
During the stay at Bayenghem, the Battalion participated in Brigade and Divisional exercises and were also practiced in bombing and in the use of the new pattern respirator.

20th September 1915 – Racquinghem
7pm Battalion left Bayenghem and bivouacked one night at Racquinghem.
This would be the day that Francis’ brother Noel Cragg lost his life serving with HMS Victory (Naval Siege Guns) at Nieuport, although this information would not reach the family for a few days.

21st September 1915 – Norrent
8.45pm Battalion left Racquinghem and billeted at Norrent.

22nd September 1915 – Cauchy-a-la-Tour
6.30pm Battalion left Norrent and billeted at Cauchy-a-la-Tour. Battalion addressed by Brigadier general A Nickalls commanding 63rd Infantry Brigade.

24th September 1915 – Fours-a-Chaux
7.30pm Battalion left Cauchy-a-la-Tour and bivouacked at Fours-a-Chaux, 1 1/2 miles from Noeux-Les-Mines.

25th September 1915
10.30am Battalion with the 8th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry was warned for the firing line.
2.30pm Vermelles reached; under artillery fire:
7.10pm Battalion m oved into position forming part of the relieving force to the 15th Div: 24th Division was on our left and the 8th Somerset Light Infantry on our right.

On the night of the 25th September our Battalion left the road leading to Loos and formed lines of platoons in fours. After a short advance we halted for three hours. We then advanced in Echelon formation over the trenches. After advancing for about three hours in short stages we halted for a short time and then moved in the direction of Hill 70.
We dug ourselves in during the night, it was now daybreak.
Major Storer came to us and said “All is well” the advance will commence at 11am. In the meantime we were under heavy shell and rifle fire. We then advanced meeting great numbers of the enemy a short retirement took place the Battalion making a newline of men composed of various units, about 400 in rear of our first position.
We again advanced under the command of the nearest officer. By this time a great number of our officers had become casualties.
The men continued to fight with the units to which they had become attached.
On the 27th the Regiment was relieved by a units of Guards.

28th September 1915- Vermelles
Owing to casualties in officers Captain H Pattinson became acting Commander for the Battalion; acting 2nd in Command Captain J T Preston; acting Adjutant Lieutenant F Brown.
Battalion left Vermelles and proceeded by road and rail to Linghem.

29th September 1915 – Linghem
Strength, 6 officers + 2 Personnel, Other Ranks 522.

John Cragg wrote of it after the battle:-
“As we got to the crest line, now free from obstruction, we could see the countryside slightly, and what a sight met our eyes! Right ahead of us was Loos in flames, this was the glare that puzzled us; the twin towers of the big mine standing out like great oil towers on a burning oil field. To the right and left were the horrors of war. Close by a German, badly wounded, called for “wasser”. I stopped and gave him some, but it would not be long before he joined his comrades. In the communication trench on our left more dead by the score….
The following day, the 26th of September, the battalion was engaged in heavy fighting at Hill 70 some of which was hand to hand. During the fighting they lost their commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Harold Ernest Walter, an event witnessed by Cragg:-
“He stood not knowing what fear was in the midst of a hot fire at close range, forty yards off, calling on us to charge. Just as he led us he fell.”

John Cragg was wounded in the left leg by shrapnel from a high explosive shell later in the fighting. The 8th Lincolns had suffered casualties of 22 officers and 471 other ranks killed wounded or missing.

John would have been treated at an aid post and then taken back to a dressing station or Casualty Clearing Station and from there, back to a Base Hospital. On the 1st of October 1915 he was evacuated from Calais on board a ship of the Brighton Steamship Company and landed at Dover later the same day. He was transferred to 2A Military hospital in Millbank and would stay there for 15 days.

His parents received the following telegram dated the 2nd of October 1915:-
“2nd Lt J.F. Cragg Lincolnshire Regt. was wounded Sept 25/27. Further news will be telegraphed when received”.
They received a further telegram dated the 8th of October 1915:-
“Lieut. J.F. Cragg Lincoln Regt admitted Lady Evelyn Mason’s Hospital 16 Bruton Street W. Oct 1st suffering from gunshot wound left leg”.

On the 13th of October 1915 a Medical Board was convened at Caxton Hall in London where he was granted six weeks sick leave.

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Grantham Journal Saturday 16th October 1915
THREEKINGHAM
LETTER FROM THE KING – It having come to the knowledge of the King that Captain W. A. Cragg, of Threekingham House, had four sons serving their country, his Majesty caused the following letter to be sent conveying his appreciation:- “Privy Purse Office, Buckingham Palace, S.W., 2nd October, 1915.
Sir,- I am commanded by the King to convey to you an expression of his Majesty’s appreciation of the patriotic spirit which has prompted your four sons to give their service to the Army and Navy. The King was much gratified to hear of the manner in which they have so readily responded to the call of their Sovereign and their country, and I am to express to you and to them his Majesty’s congratulations on having contributed in so full a measure to the great cause for which all people of the British Empire are so bravely fighting. I have the honour to be, sir, your obedient servant, F. M. POMSONBY, keeper of the , Privy Purse.” It is only a week or two since the sad news arrived that one of these sons – Lieut. Noel H. Cragg, R.N. had been killed in action, while another Lieut. J. F. Cragg, of the 8th Lincolns, has been wounded while taking park in the recent advance on the Western front, and is now in a London hospital. Now comes the news that a third son, Capt. W. G. Cragg (Loyal Lancashire Fusiliers), has been accidentally wounded at the Dardanelles
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Grantham Journal Saturday 23rd October 1915
THREEKINGHAM
LIEUT. J. F. CRAGG, 8th Lincolns, who was wounded in the leg in the recent fighting in France, has been home this week, after being in hospital in London. He brought news of several Billingborough boys who are in his regiment, and reported them to be all right when he left.

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Later that month John Cragg applied for a transfer to the newly formed Machine Gun Corps citing his service as Battalion Machine Gun Officer and asking the reader to note that he possessed a 1st Class Certificate in the use of the Vickers Light Automatic Machine Gun from Hythe. He went on :-
” Also I am thoroughly conversant with the Lewis Gun, going through private instruction at Hythe, a course at Longmoor and Wisques and having these guns under my chaps in the Lincolns. I have also lectured on both these guns to senior officers. I am also acquainted with the Rexa having had instruction on this gun at Hythe.”

On the 30th of November 1915 a Medical Board sat at the 4th Northern General Hospital which noted that:- “wound healed–can walk with help and quite slowly—still loss of superficial sensation in foot”. He was granted a further two months sick leave.

On the 4th of January 1916 a Medical Board sat at the 4th Northern General Hospital which noted that “power of left ankle is fully restored as is sensation in sole of foot” and concluded that John Cragg was “fit for general war service”. The following day he reported for duty with the 9th (Reserve) Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment at Brocton Camp near Cannock Chase in Staffordshire.

John was sent back out to France to join the 8th Battalion who were fighting around Armentiers. On the 13th April they became the support Battalion moving to Houplines and relieved the 15th Durhams. It was noted in the Battalion Diary that on this day 2nd Lieutenants Cragg and Rowcroft rejoined the Battalion.

At 3am on the 20th of February the battalion relieved the 8th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry in the trenches at the Epinette Road. On the 23rd of February 1916 the enemy began a heavy and prolonged bombardment of the Lincolnshire positions which killed two men and wounded seven others. During that night and into the next day the British artillery retaliated and, later that day, John Cragg was evacuated by a Field Ambulance suffering the Battalion Diary describing him as sick although a local newspaper report states that he was blown out of a trench.

Captain and Mrs Cragg received the following telegram date the 2nd of March 1916:-
“2/Lt J.F. Cragg 8th Lincolns admitted 7 Stationary Hospital Boulogne 1st March sick case not then diagnosed but condition satisfactory. Will send any further reports”.

They received a further telegram dated the 26th of March 1916:-
“2/Lt. J.F. Cragg 8th Lincolnshire Regt. transferred to convalescence home after treatment for shell shock”.

They received a further telegram dated the 20th of April 1916:-
“2/Lt J.F. Cragg Lincolnshire Regt. now reported discharged to duty April 7”.
On the Battalion strength report of 16th April, 2nd Lt J F Cragg is listed a Platoon Commander and also Company Machine Gun Officer.

On the 14th April the 8th battalion moved to support positions about Becordel-Becourt village where, till the 22nd, much work was done on the forward trenches. The 1st Battalion relieved the 8th on the 22nd of May in the right sector opposite Fricourt. The 8th Battalion then moved to La Neuville, opposite Corbie, on the Ancre river.

The attack for the first battle of the Somme could be seen to have started on the 24th June 1916 when one thousand five hundred and thirteen artillery guns opened on the enemy trenches. Day after day the guns continued to pour thousands of shells into the enemy trenches until they resembled a rubbish heap; but below ground, the enemy troops sheltered in deep dugouts, were safe from even the enormous shells of our “heavies”. In no less than 40 places gas was discharged and every enemy observation balloon was destroyed. The enemy replied fitfully to the shelling as they only had two hundred and forty guns on the Somme front at this stage.

At the end of June, the 8th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment was detailed to support the 8th Somersets in the attack on the German positions planned for the 1st of July (the first day of the first battle of the Somme) and on the 30th of June moved to assembly trenches near Becordel-Becourt village.

The plan for the 8th Battalion Lincolnshire was to be the second wave of the attack with the York and Lancasters on their right and to filter through the new line once the Middlesex and Somersets had taken the first objective. Then one company of the 8th Battalion Lincolnshires was to advance immediately with the Somersets to clear the enemy front line trenches and fall in behind the remainder of the battalion as it advanced.
Throughout the night the guns bombarded the enemy lines in front of the zero time of 7.30am on the 1st ofJuly

At 7.25am the leading platoons of the advanced battalions carried out their plan and attempted to crawl towards their objective.
The Guns lifted at 7.30am and the enemy left their deep dugouts and placed machine guns to meet the advance with destructive force tearing gaps in the advancing battalions. The Middlesex and Somersets lost fifty percent of their men in the advance yet survivors reached the enemy trenches.
The 8th battalion Lincolnshires attacked with B and C companies; supported by A company with D company in the rear as a carrying party with picks and shovels, trench stores, ammunition and bombs. The leading platoons lost half of their number but the survivors reached the enemy front line and after being checked by machine gun fire the bombers got to work and knocked out the defenses.
The survivors joined by successive platoons swarmed over the battered front line and crossing Empress trench and Empress Support reached the Sunken Road. The numbers of officers and men that got thus far we small in numbers because an enemy barrage was falling on no mans land and the supporting platoons suffered heavily.
The battalions bombed their way down the enemy communications trenches, Dart Lane, Brandy Trench and finally Lozenge Alley was reached. En-route every dug-out was bombed and the trenches themselves were battered beyond recognition being just a mass of craters.
One stokes gun remained with the Lincolnshires and gave valuable assistance until the officer in charge and his team were knocked out. A Lewis gun team arrived and gave great assistance to the advance.
Only two parties of the 8th battalion reached Lozenge Alley numbering about one hundred men and started the act of consolidation. Between 4 and 5pm orders arrived from Divisional HQ to consolidate the positions they held with the Lincolnshires holding part of the system from Dart Alley to and including Lozenge Alley. Throughout the night the 8th Lincolnshire successfully repulsed a bombing attack from the direction of Fricourt.

The right flank of the Lincolnshire area was attacked from Fricourt up Lonely Trench. Men were posted at the junction of Lonely Trench and Lozenge Alley and the enemy only once got in thanks to their rifle grenades but were soon turned out at a loss to the Lincolnshires of some men of Lozenge Alley and at least 20 in Lonely Trench. Two enemy drums were captured here and sent to the depot at Lincoln.
When Darkness fell on the night of the 1st July, although initial success had not been maintained, progress had been made at many points. Although Fricourt had not been taken it was now pressed on three sides with the 21st division holding the north which included the 1st and 8th Battalions of the Lincolnshire Regiment.

During the night the 8th Battalion had worked hard consolidating their positions from Dart Alley to Lozenge Wood and were protected from a counter attack by an artillery barrage.

Casualties were:-
4 officers killed, 1 missing and seven wounded. Other ranks 30 killed, 34 missing and 171 wounded.

2nd Lieutenant John Francis Cragg was killed in action on the 1st July 1916, the first day of the battle of the Somme in the action previously described.

His parents received the following telegram dated the 9th of July 1916:-
“Deeply regret to inform you that 2nd Lieut. J.F. Cragg 8 Lincoln Regt. was killed in action 2 July (sic). The Army Council express their sympathy”.

His Commanding Officer, Colonel Johnson wrote:-
“His Company was the first to go over, and the leading one of this Battalion, and all the officers were hit. He was very keen, and I much regret his loss.”

His Major wrote:-
“I am sure no braver fellow ever stepped in this battalion.”

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Grantham Journal Saturday 22nd July 1916
THREEKINGHAM
CAPTAIN AND MRS. W. A. CRAGG, of Threekingham House, have suffered another heavy blow by the death of their third son, Lieut. John Francis Cragg, of the Lincolns, and the deepest sympathy is extended to them. The following letter has been received from the Officer Commanding:- “Dear Captain Cragg, – I am very sorry to inform you that your son went into action with us on July 1st and was killed. His Company was the leading one of his Battalion to go over, and all his officers were hit. He was very keen, and I much regret his loss. Lieut. Cragg was wounded in the leg in the Battle of Loos, on September 25th, 1915, but he made a good recovery, and afterwards came home on leave. In January, he was blown out of a trench, and suffered from shell shock. Captain and Mrs. Cragg had four officer sons in the Army, and this is the second to fall, the other being Lieut. Noel Henry Cragg, killed in action at Nieuport on September 15th, 1915. This gallant young officer was mentioned in a despatch from Field Marshal Sir John French for gallantry and distinguished service in the field, and Captain Cragg subsequently received a communication in which the following passage occurred: “I beg to express to you the King’s high appreciation of your son’s services, and to add that his Majesty trusts their public acknowledgment may be some consolation in your bereavement.”

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Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Second Lieutenant John Francis Cragg, 8th Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 1 July 1916 Age 28. Son of Capt. and Mrs. W. A. Cragg, of Threekingham, Lincs. Previously wounded Sept., 1915. Remembered with honour, Thiepval Memorial.

John Cragg is also remembered, along with his brother Noel, on the Roll of Honour in St Peter’s Church, Threekingham, Lincolnshire.

http://southlincolnshirewarmemorials.org.uk/…/john-fr…/

Remembrance – George Sherwin

Today we remember Bourne man George Sherwin of the 2nd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment who was killed on the 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

George was born in 1891 in Bourne to Luke Woodstock Sherwin, a General Dealer and his wife Mary Jane, nee Brand.

Luke Woodstock Sherwin was born in Bourne in 1855 and was a Brewer (Later a General Dealer), Mary Jane Brand was born in Bourne in. 1857 and the couple were married in the Stamford District in 1877.
They settled in Bourne where all of their 10 children were born.
• John Sherwin, 1878, Bourne
• Florence Sherwin, 1879, Bourne
• Sarah Jane Sherwin, 1881, Bourne
• Elizabeth Sherwin, 1883, Bourne
• Albert Sherwin, 1885, Bourne
• Gertrude Sherwin, 1886, Bourne
• Fanny Sherwin, 1888, Bourne
• Luke Sherwin, 1889, Bourne
• George Sherwin, 1891, Bourne
• Alice Sherwin, 1892, Bourne

By 1891 Luke had changed occupation to a General Dealer and they were living on West Street, Bourne with the first 8 of their children.
10 years later the 1901 Census shows us Luke living on West Street next door to his brother George, also a general Dealer. The family is now complete and as well as Luke working as a general dealer, eldest son John was working as a Shop worker. An occupation that Younger son Luke would later go on to have with his own shop on West Street.

In 1911 we find the Luke and Jane Sherwin still on West street now married for 33 years although sadly we learn that three of the ten children have now passed away. As well as George being a general dealer, son John has joined him in that occupation. Son Luke is working as a hair dresser (Picture of Luke’s shop has been added to the photographs on this post) and George is working as a maltster . This is not unusual for Bourne’s young men especially as the Maltings were on the opposite side of West Street to where the family were living. Youngest Daughter Alice is the only other child living at home on the census night 1911.

George Sherwin filled out his attestation form and enlisted in the Army at Bourne on the 30h August 1914. On his attestation he declares that he has had previous military service with F Company 4th Lincolns (Disbanded).
He is given the Regimental number 11059 and posted to the 7th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment at the depot in Lincoln. After a coupe of days he is moved to Grantham and then on the 9th September posted to the 6th Battalion.

The 6th Lincolnshire was formed in the first week of the war and stationed themselves at Belton Park near Grantham, ready to receive recruits. By the end of the month they had formed 4 companies of new recruits from the men that answered Kitchener’s call. It was noted that the physical standard of troops for the 6th Battalion was high due to the high numbers of agricultural workers that joined the Battalion.

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Grantham Journal Saturday 5th October 1914
BOURNE
HEARTY SEND OFF FOR RECRUITS -On Monday morning a company of fifteen left Bourne Station to join the Lincoln Regiment of Lord Kitchener’s Army. The company met at the recruiting station in West Street, and we escorted to the station by the Bourne Brass Band and a large number of the residents of the town. The names were:- Arthur Maxon, Fred W Savage, John Thos Baldock, Geo Sherwin, George Carver, Frank Baldock (married), H Cleary, W Herbert Bloodworth, Percy J Vickers, Walter Parker (married), Ernest Robinson, Harry Darnes (Bourne), Jos Smith, Walter Archer and Percy Cave (Witham-on-the Hill), the latter three being the result of a meeting at Witham-on-the-Hill on Sunday evening, addressed by Lord Kesteven and Lieut K. R. G. Fenwick and presided over by Col C Birch-Reynardson.
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George trained with the 6th Battalion at Belton Camp until the 29th January 1915 when he received a posting to the 3rd Battalion in Grimsby. The third Battalion were a home service battalion and would be used to guard key infrastructure in the area such as docks and munitions factories. They were also used to train men who had joined the army as a career before they received their posting to either of the 1st or 2nd Battalions which were regular army battalions.

George would remain with the 3rd Battalion for about 6 weeks before receiving is orders to join the British Expeditionary Force in France and so George embarked for France on the 6th March 1915. Typically when arriving in France men would arrive at a base camp to be processed and then posted to their Battalion in the field. In George’s case he was posted to the 2nd Battalion on the 9th March 1915. It is assumed that he arrived with the Battalion around this time but as this could take many days we cannot be totally sure that he had joined them before their next action on the 10th March. The Battalion Diary makes no reference to receiving reinforcements at this time or any time in the months before or after.

In March the 2nd Battalion had just been moved from their previous sector into the area of Neuve-Chapelle in readiness for the planned attack on the German defences there. The plan was to take Neuve-Chapelle and then move on to Aubers Ridge.
The battalion Diary tells the story of what may have been George Sherwin’s first action of the war:-

10th March 1915 – Opposite Neuve-Chapelle
7.30am – Battalion remained in trenches during the night 9th-10th at 7.30 artillery bombardment started (about 300 guns). At 8.5 am guns lifted their sights and infantry attacked. The Colonel was with the assaulting companies.
The Battalion all rose simultaneously and rushed the first trench after cutting the barbed wire in an incredibly short time – losing about 20 men. The blocking parties then proceeded down the trenches clearing all before them with grenades –
Captain Peake did good work, he was soon afterwards shot in the head. The Battalion still moved on – the supports (A and B Companies) following up close in rear – some of A company supporting the firing line as soon as it got to the second German trench. Lt Col G B McAndrew was hills between the first and second German trench – his right leg was blown to pieces by one of our own shells – he died asking after his regiment, without any complaint of the pain he was suffering. The assault in companies then pressed on, being temporarily checked by a water obstacle at ’26’ (see map attached) – a plank was eventually discovered and the line took a position in front of this obstacle. They were then checked by the fire of their own guns and it was found necessary to retire 50 yards on account of this. It was at about this period that we were subjected to a severe fire from our left rear, which caused the greater part of our casualties. Lieut. Wylie was shot (mortally) at about this time. The line then retired again and took up a position behind the water obstacle where they entrenched themselves. The battalion was then sorted out into its proper sections – A and B Companies remind in the front trench while C and D companies were in rear in an old German trench which was being converted to face the other way. Later on in the day a and B companies were sent forward to help the Irish rifles who were previously passed through us. They help them in and trenching themselves in. During the night of the 10th-11th C and D companies were back in the fire trench behind the obstacle – A and B Companies in support German trench just in rear. The battalion was then commanded by Major J J Howley DSO. Captain E H Impey was adjutant, Captain E P Lloyd having been wounded in the hand.
During the small hours of the morning of the 11th, A and B cos had to move to be in close support of the Irish Rifles – at about 5 am we had orders to collect the battalion in some trenches near us on our left rear. To do this the headquarters of the battalion moved to a point ‘X’ just south of ’18’. At about 6 am a small H E Shell came through the parapet – making a direct hit on Major Howley – killing one of the other men and wounding two more. Major S Fitz G Cox then took command and the battalion was eventually collected in the old German trench just in rear. During the morning and operation order was received to the effect that the Irish Rifles and Rifle Brigade would attack at 10 am and that the Lincolnshire Regiment would support the Irish rifles – this order was afterwards postponed to 12:30 pm. At 10 am the battalion was subjected to a very heavy shelling which lasted till 12 o’clock. The shelling was very accurate, and they were big shells – so the moral of the regiment was very highly tried – especially after all it had already gone through. At 12:15 pm Major Gitz G Cox decided to anticipate an order which should been expected (our telephone wire had been blown away) and namely to move up to Neuve Chappelle into close support of the Irish Rifles. This was done. The battalion remained in Neuve Chappelle during the night of the 11th-12th.

12th March 1915 – Neuve Chapelle
On the morning of the 12th we moved back to our previous position into the old German trench. The battalion remained in their trenches all that day and night. It was between 12 and 1 am on the 13th that Captain C G V wellesley was killed – he had been ill and away from the regiment previous to this, and had only just rejoined 10 minutes before a shrapnel burst from the left – mortally wounded and him and about 10 others.

13th March 1915 – Neuve Chapelle
Next morning we went into loose support of the Irish Rifles returning again to these trenches during the afternoon (?). On the morning of the 13th we believe the Irish rifles in trenches North East and East of Neuve Chapelle. During the night nothing unusual because we strengthened our defence and filled in the trench, which was full of half buried Germans.

14th March 1915 – Neuve Chapelle
Enemy shelled Neuve Chappelle all day. During the night we were relieved by the Royal Berkshire and we intern relieves the door sits in adjoining trenches on our left.

15th March 1915 – Neuve Chapelle
Spent in consolidating our position – add a detached fort of 40 men a machine gun and officer about 40 yards to our front, which wanted strengthening.

16th March 1915 – Neuve Chapelle
Enemy shell headquarters trenches very severely – dropping 128 shelves within 50 minutes no damage done.

17th March 1915 – Neuve Chapelle
Released by Irish Rifles – total casualties during action of Neuve Chapelle –
7 officers killed. 8 officers wounded – 298 men killed and wounded.
Went into trenches on Tilloy Road.

18th March 1915 – Neuve Chapelle
Provided working parties for burying dead and carrying materials etc.

19th March 1915
Moved to billets at Epinette.

George Sherwin certainly had a big introduction to trench warfare in his first tour of the trenches and the planned attack. As can be seen from the description over one quarter (1 in 4 men) became casualties in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, although it would take a second battle in May before both the objectives of taking Neuve Chapelle and Aubers Ridge would be realised.
The Battle of Aubers Ridge description for the 2nd Battalion, including George Sherwin, can be found on our posts regarding Charles Sharpe, Archer Cooke and Harry Briggs.

The Battalion remained in the same sector of the Western Front doing tours in and out of the trenches until in September 1915. On the 25th September they had their next major planned action with the assault on Bridoux.
Following this it was back to their normal tour routine until November when they started company training and over a period were moved back to la Belle Hotesse for Divisional training that was to go on throughout December 1915.

January was to see them back in the trenches near Fleurbaix in the same old sector they had left in November and back into the tour of trenches routine with usually 4 days in and the same out before repeating.
At the end of March the Battalion entrained for the Longveau and the Somme, then marching to Flesselles via Amiens.

In George’s Service Record there is a note that on 1st April 1916 he was awarded 7 days field punishment No.2 by his Commanding Officer for “making an improper remark to a Non-commissioned Officer”.

The Battalion eventually ended up near Albert, in Brigade reserve, on the 9th April, being brought back into the trenches on the 11th in support of the 2nd Berkshire at USNA Redoubt, before finally getting back into the fire trenches themselves near La Boiselle on the 13th April.
The usual trench routine they had previously been used to around Armentieres now resumed, only now it was Albert and the Somme rather than Sailly and Bois Grenier.

June, when not in the trenches, would see the Battalion start to undertake extra training or periods when they supplied working parties, one such party working on the railway extension at Dernacourt. This continued until the 24th June when the Battalion Diary notes ‘Bombardment Commences’, this of course being the Bombardment that was meant to destroy the enemy trenches in advance of the commencement of the planned attack (Battle of the Somme) that would follow the days of bombardment.

We take up George’s story and that of the Battalion via the Battalion Dairy on the 28th June after going back into trenches overnight.

28th June 1916 – In trenches
In trenches preparatory to assault – Operations postponed about 4pm – Move to billets at Millencourt. Bombardment continued – 1 killed, 2 wounded.

29th June 1916 – In Long Valley
Move to bivouacs in Long Valley “W” company to Bouzincourt defences – Bombardment continues.

30th June 1916 – To assembly trenches
Moved to assembly trenches – W company 8 platoons front line 1 platoon – Pendle Hill. X company 3 platoons front line 1 platoon – Longridge – Y company 3 platoons in front line 1 platoon Longridge. Z Company 2 platoons Pendle Hill 2 Platoons Longridge. Battalion Headquarters Waltney Tunnel.
Battalion in position about 2.30am July 1st.

1st July 1916 – In trenches opposite Ovillers
Everybody was in their position by 3:30 am and the wire along the home of our front reported cut by 2:30 am. 2/Lt Eld and a few men got wounded doing this and Lt Ross’ party had trouble owing to continual hostile machine-gun fire. Brigade line was checked at 5:30 am.
6.25am – the intensive bombardment commenced to which the enemy retaliated on our front line and assembly trenches with high explosive shrapnel.
7.25am – companies started to move forward from there are similar positions preparatory to the assault. The three assaulting companies getting their first two waves out into no mans land and the third and fourth waves are out at zero hour. These arrangements were carried out most excellently, no hitch occurring, but casualties were fairly heavy from machine-gun fire. The support company got into our frontline trench but suffered a lot of casualties from shellfire.
7.30am – as soon as the barrage lifted the whole assaulted. They were met with very severe rifle fire and in most cases add to advance in rushes and return the fire. This fire seem to come from the German second line and the machine-gun fire from the left. I’m reaching the German front line they found it strongly held and we met with showers of bombs, but after a very hard fight about 200 yards of German lines were taken about 7:50 am the extreme right failing to get in and also the extreme left where there appeared to be a gap of about 70 yards although units of platoons of the 70th brigade joined them. The support company by this time joined in. A few offices that were left gallantly lead the men over the German trench to attack the second line but owing to the rifle and machine-gun fire could not push on. Attempts were made to consolidate and make blocks but the trench was so badly knocked about that very little cover was obtainable. From the enfilade machine-gun fire and continual bombing attacks which were being made by the enemy the whole line, and one frontal attack from the second line which we repulsed.
9am – this isolated position became untenable, no supports being able to reach us owing to the intense rifle and machine-gun fire. I will left being driven back the reminder which by now only held about 100 yards had to withdraw. On reaching our own line all the men that could be collected were phoned up and tried to push on again but the heavy machine gun and rifle fire made the ground quite impassable.
1pm – orders were received from the Brigade to withdraw to Ribble and Melling streets and occupy the assembly dugouts there which was done.
12 midnight – we were relieved by this 6th West Kents and proceeded to Long valley.
Other Ranks, 26 killed, 303 wounded, 89 missing, 25 wounded and missing.

Private George Sherwin was originally posted as wounded and missing in this fateful day for the British Army. It would not be until 23rd April 1917 that he was “Accepted an official purposes as having died on or since 1st July 1916”

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Grantham Journal 19th May 1917
LOCAL CASUALTIES – Corporal Jos. Brown, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Brown, of Eastgate, Bourne, is in hospital at Hampton Court, suffering from wounds in his back and right hand. He is one of six sons, five of whom are in the Army. Private. G. Sherwin, son of Mr. and Mrs. Luke Sherwin, Bourne, who some months ago was officially notified as wounded and missing, is now reported dead. The official notification of Private Sherwin’s death was received by his parents last week. A memorial service for Private Sherwin and Private W Needham was held on Sunday, at the Abbey Church. Official notification has this week been received the Corporal E. Robinson, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Robinson, Wood View, Bourne, has been killed in action. Corporal Robinson was attached to the Lincolns.

Mr Luke Sherwin eventually received The British and War Medals for his son and the returned confirmation of delivery slip was sighed for by Luke Sherwin on Nov 10th 1921.

Brother John Sherwin also Served in WW1 with the Army Service Corps in the remounts section, enlisting in June 1916 one month before his brothers’ death, being mobilised in May 1917 and embarking for France in that September.

http://southlincolnshirewarmemorials.org.uk/…/george-…/

Family Photos Courtesy of Philip Sherwin

Remembrance – William Swift

Today we remember 2nd Lieutenant William Swift who was killed in the action of the 1st July 1916, first day of the Battle of the Somme, serving with the 8th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment. William is remembered on both the Morton and also Bourne war memorials.

William was born in Morton in the late spring of 1889 to George Swift, a grocer and draper, and his wife Mary Ann, nee Wright. George was born in. Morton on 23rd May 1862 and Mary Ann was born on 30th January 1866 in Brentford, Middlesex.

The couple were married on the 17th January 1887 in All Saints Church, Walworth, London., immediately moving back to Morton to start their family having five children in total.
  Laura Agneta Swift, 1887, Morton
  William Swift, 1889, Morton
  Bertha Swift, 1890, Morton
  Percy Swift, 1893, Morton
  Ella Mercia Swift, 1898, Morton

In 1891 the young family were living in Morton where Henry Swift had his own grocer’s shop close to the church. At this time George, Mary Ann, Laura Agnetta, William and Bertha were living at the shop and they were joined by George’s Elderly Mother Caroline.

In another seven years time the family would have been complete, with youngest Son Percy and Daughter Ella being born. The family are still living at the shop in 1901 where George is still running his small business.

William would eventually leave Morton School and attend Bourne Council School where later he was to become a Pupil Teacher. He Matriculated at London University before moving back to the Peterborough Area to start his career at St Peter’s teacher training College. On Census Night of 1911 William was boarding at St Peter’s School at he age of 21. 

William furthered his career when he Entered St Catherine’s College, Cambridge to obtain his degree. Here he joined the Officer Training Corps but his undergraduate period was eventually broken by entering the Army.

We are currently unable to access any service records for William Swift, many of the men of the Great War unfortunately had their service records destroyed by a warehouse fire in London during the Blitz. William being an officer has a different record set that are held at the National Archives in London WO 339/40260 but these have not been digitised and it is not possible to currently view these due to the closure of the Archives to the public during the current pandemic. We will research these records and add to William’s story when this is possible. Officers were given a long service number that stayed with them throughout their career, unlike the other ranks of men who were given a number by their regiment or battalion that was the next available and thus there was no coordination between different regiments and duplicate number across different regiments was possible. Unfortunately without this number and his papers held at the National Archives it is tricky to piece together Williams exact movements.

The following information has been collated from various available sources including newspaper articles and the Battalion Diaries and the “History of the Lincolnshire Regiment” by C R Simpson.

We are not sure when William enlisted in the Army but we do know that he trained with the 3rd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. The 3rd were a Home Service battalion and would traditionally be responsible to guarding essential infrastructure such as docks, munitions factories and other work necessary for the war effort. During the first phase of the war the Battalion would be responsible for training before the formation of the Army Training Reserve in 1916 once conscription was introduced.

Similarly we do not know exactly when William joined his Battalion, the 8th Lincolns.
The 8th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment was formed in 1914 and after training camps in England eventually was sent to France in September 1915. The medals roll shows that William entered foreign service in France on 8th April 1916 at this point joining the Battalion that were already in the field.

During his training with the 3rd Battalion he gained his commission and in May 1915 was granted leave, coming home to Morton visiting is recently retired father before returning to Grimsby.

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Grantham Journal Saturday 15th May 1915
MORTON
CONTRATULATIONS to Lieut. William Swift, who has recently obtained his commission in the 9th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. Mr. Swift, who quite recently retired from business in Morton. Lieut Swift is a schoolmaster, and had been most successful in his profession at the time of entering the Army, being a student at Cambridge University and a member of the Officers’ Training Corps. This week, Mr Swift is home on leave for a few days, after which he departs to Grimsby to continue his training with the 3rd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. Mr Percy Swift, brother, has also joined the forces, his choice being the 5th Leicesters.
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Returning to Grimsby to continue his training, William was to marry May Butler in Grimsby district between September and December 1915. It is not known if, when he left for the front he following April, William was aware that May had fallen pregnant.

The medals roll shows that William entered service in France on 8th April 1916. This was the day that the Battalion marched to Buire, on the River Ancre, four miles south-west of Albert, whence it furnished large working parties.

On the 14th April the 8th battalion moved to support positions about Becordel-Becourt village where, till the 22nd, much work was done on the forward trenches. William eventually joined the Battalion in the field on the 19th April and was posted as a Platoon Commander.

The first Battalion relieved the 8th on the 22nd of May in the right sector opposite Fricourt. The 8th Battalion then moved to La Neuville, opposite Corbie, on the Ancre river.

The attack for the first battle of the Somme could be seen to have started on the 24th June when one thousand five hundred and thirteen artillery guns opened on the enemy trenches. Day after day the guns continued to pour thousands of shells into the enemy trenches until they resembled a rubbish heap; but below ground, the enemy troops sheltered in deep dugouts, were safe from even the enormous shells of our “heavies”. In no less than 40 places gas was discharged and every enemy observation balloon was destroyed. The enemy replied fitfully to the shelling as they only had two hundred and forty guns on the Somme front at this stage.

At the end of June, the 8th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment was detailed to support the 8th Somersets in the attack on the German positions planned for the 1st of July (the first day of the first battle of the Somme) and on the 30th of June moved to assembly trenches near Becordel-Becourt village.
The plan for the 8th Battalion Lincolnshire was to be the second wave of the attack with the York and Lancasters on their right and to filter through the new line once the Middlesex and Somersets had taken the first objective. Then one company of the 8th Battalion Lincolnshires was to advance immediately with the Somersets to clear the enemy front line trenches and fall in behind the remainder of the battalion as it advanced.

Throughout the night the guns bombarded the enemy lines in front of the zero time of 7.30am on the 1st ofJuly

At 7.25am the leading platoons of the advanced battalions carried out their plan and attempted to crawl towards their objective.

The Guns lifted at 7.30am and the enemy left their deep dugouts and placed machine guns to meet the advance with destructive force tearing gaps in the advancing battalions. The Middlesex and Somersets lost fifty percent of their men in the advance yet survivors reached the enemy trenches.

The 8th battalion Lincolnshires attacked with B and C companies; supported by A company with D company in the rear as a carrying party with picks and shovels, trench stores, ammunition and bombs. The leading platoons lost half of their number but the survivors reached the enemy front line and after being checked by machine gun fire the bombers got to work and knocked out the defences.
The survivors joined by successive platoons swarmed over the battered front line and crossing Empress trench and Empress Support reached the Sunken Road. The numbers of officers and men that got thus far we small in numbers because an enemy barrage was falling on no mans land and the supporting platoons suffered heavily.

The battalions bombed their way down the enemy communications trenches, Dart Lane, Brandy Trench and finally Lozenge Alley was reached. En-route every dug-out was bombed and the trenches themselves were battered beyond recognition being just a mass of craters.

One stokes gun remained with the Lincolnshires and gave valuable assistance until the officer in charge and his team were knocked out. A Lewis gun team arrived and gave great assistance to the advance.

Only two parties of the 8th battalion reached Lozenge Alley numbering about one hundred men and started the act of consolidation. Between 4 and 5pm orders arrived from Divisional HQ to consolidate the positions they held with the Lincolnshires holding part of the system from Dart Alley to and including Lozenge Alley. Throughout the night the 8th Lincolnshire successfully repulsed a bombing attack from the direction of Fricourt.

The right flank of the Lincolnshire area was attacked from Fricourt up Lonely Trench. Men were posted at the junction of Lonely Trench and Lozenge Alley and the enemy only once got in thanks to their rifle grenades but were soon turned out at a loss to the Lincolnshires of some men of Lozenge Alley and at least 20 in Lonely Trench. Two enemy drums were captured here and sent to the depot at Lincoln.

When Darkness fell on the night of the 1st July, although initial success had not been maintained, progress had been made at many points. Although Fricourt had not been taken it was now pressed on three sides with the 21st division holding the north which included the 1st and 8th Battalions of the Lincolnshire Regiment.
During the night the 8th Battalion had worked hard consolidating their positions from Dart Alley to Lozenge Wood and were protected from a counter attack by an artillery barrage.

Seven Lincoln Battalions in total were involved in the advance on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, known as the Battle of Albert, and the description of actions above was just one of many similar accounts that can be applied to all Battalions involved in this advance. It must be remembered that this day was followed by another 12 before the Battle of Albert was over.

8th Lincolnshire – 5 officers killed, 30 other ranks killed, 8 officers and 170 other ranks wounded, 34 other ranks missing. In total 13 officers and 235 other ranks.

Second Lieutenant William Swift was killed on the 1st July 1916 during the advance on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and less than 3 months after arriving in France. The CWGC officially states that he died between the 1st and 3rd of July, but he is mentioned amongst the dead in the Battalion diary for the 1st of July.

On the very same day that William lost his life in battle, a letter he had written to his old headmaster Mr J Palmer in Morton was published in the Grantham Journal, the readers not knowing his fate during that day.
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LETTER FROM AN OLD MORTON BOY – The following extracts are taken from an interesting letter from Lieut. W. Swift, to Mr. J. W. Palmer:- “I have had a lot of moving about since coming here, a variety of billets, some good and extremely bad, and many curious situations, but we have to take the bad with the good and hope for butter times some day. I have slept in a wood, in an orchard, in a muddy trench, in a dirty bed in a French farmhouse, and occasionally have had the luxury of a decent feather bed in a respectable hotel. An extremely pleasing feature about this existence in the manner in which our splendid lads adapt themselves to their trying circumstances. Sometimes wet through, or covered with the mud from chalky trenches, and terribly hot with heavy roads on long marches. they still “carry on” with square chins. I feel quite proud to be amongst such a fine lot of felloes, both officers and men. You don’t realise what the British Army is like until you see it in this country. I have been in the trenches several times, once for a period of ten days. During this time we had several exciting hours, what with one thing and another. They shelled us with all kinds of stuff. sausages, canisters, and whizz-bangs, but our heavies always replied quickly with about three to the Huns’ one. The sausages you can see falling if your eyesight is good, but the whizz-bangs, as their name implies, come “some pace.” In one part of the line we could only get sufficient water up for drinking, so you can imagine how I gave my razor a rest, and the luxury of a bath after keeping clothes on so long. I often see Fisher Handford, and his officer tells me he is one of the best and cheeriest in his platoon. Certainly, Fisher is always smiling when I see him. I feel proud to think he is a Morton boy. You can tell his mother he is the picture of health. At present, I am billeted in a farmhouse. The French people. what few there are left round here, keep their gardens in beautiful order, and scrupulously clear. In this place, another officer and myself share a room, and we are absolutely overrun with rats. Last night, we made a couple of traps with our steel helmets. We propped them up with a sardine tin, and placed a tempting piece of cheese inside. We sincerely hoped for success, but our friend rat was too cute for us, eating the cheese without disturbing anything else. There is a decent artists from the music halls, who entertain us on returning from the line. It is a fine thing for keeping up the spirits and taking you mind from grenades &c. Boxing and football matches seem to catch on the best, but in these June days I often wish for a bit of cricket, though the ground, of course is unsuitable for that.”

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Grantham Journal Saturday 29th July 1916
WAR LETTER FROM BOURNE BOYS.
One of the old Council School boy, writing to Mr. J. J. Davies, says:- I have seen very close quarters many of the prisoners we have taken, and I am struck by the sullen, almost criminal type of face. One is not astonished at the cruelties of which we have heard. These hundreds of figures are clad in grey; dirty, miserable looking. I do not think any scenes of past history can rival the tragic and glorious episodes enacted here during the last three weeks. One sees the khaki-clad Briton going fearlessly, even brightly, into the fight, and one sees the wounded returning, who, whatever they suffer, are yet smiling and cheerful. What a splendid lesson. These scenes are beyond my powers of description. Your imagination must fill in the picture: who can fail to be profoundly impressed? It gives one food for thought. What a terrible lot the Germans will have to answer for. Still the “push” goes on. The opinion of all here is that the end, a glorious one for the Allies, is not many months distant. I am sorry to hear that Lieut. Swift has been killed: he has given life for others. No finer death can man die. Duty well done and death even on a battlefield has its glory.

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On the 2nd November 1916, William’s daughter Megan Fricourt Swift was born at the Bargate Nursing Home. Mrs May Swift, the Mother was at the time living at ‘Laurels, Old- Clee Road, Cleethorpes.’

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Second Lieutenant W Swift, 8th Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 1 July 1916. Remembered with honour, Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers La Boisselle.

William is also remembered on the War Memorials in his home village of Morton, also on Bourne Memorial where he finished his education and started his teaching career. He is also remembered on the memorial tablet dedicated to St Peter’s Training College in Peterborough Cathedral, and the memorial in Bourne Baptist Chapel.

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
http://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.

http://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

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

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