Remembrance – Wilfred Dent Wroe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remembrance – 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 – John Robert Porter

Remembrance – John Robert Porter

Today we will be remembering one our local soldiers that paid the ultimate price in the name of King, Country and Freedom.

100 years ago today, the 5th August 1916, John Robert Porter was killed in action during the battle of the somme whilst serving with the 10th battalion Lincolnshire regiment.

In Memory of Private John Robert Porter, 1406, 10th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 5 August 1916 Age 20.
Son of Mr R Porter of Dunsby, Bourne, Lincs

Remembered with Honour Thiepval Memorial and Dunsby Memorial

We will remember them.