Postcard Stories: Sub-Lieutenant Benson in Russia

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Captain Edward White Benson 1884-1938

Edward W Benson was born on the 10th October 1884 in Ballymoney, County Antrim, Ireland. He was the ninth of eleven children to Thomas Miller Benson (1851-1921) and Jane Gardner Orr (1853-1941) who married in Lurgan in 1871; Thomas M Benson was a senior clergyman in the Church of Ireland, serving as rector of Ballymoney, and eventually as Archdeacon of Connor. In the 1901 census, the Bensons are resident at the Rectory in Ballymoney, but by 1911, Benson had followed two of his brothers to Canada, where they both farmed.

At the outbreak of war, Benson returned from Canada and enlisted in the Royal Naval Air Service in December 1914: his occupation of ‘chauffeur’ indicates he was one of the Ulstermen recruited by the RNAS Armoured Car Division for their experience as drivers, many with the Unionist paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force. His initial rank was as a Petty Officer Mechanic, and he qualified in March 1915 with service number F 2880, and his first ‘ship’ was the RNACD base establishment HMS President II.cap

He first served at Dunkirk in April 1915, which was the RNACD headquarters in Flanders

By the spring of 1916, he was a Chief Petty Officer II with the ‘Russian Armoured Car’ detachment, described by his CO Locker-Lampton, as an ‘admirable man’. From May to September 1916 he served with number 3 squadron, and distinguished himself in the unit’s fighting in Trans-Caucasia especially an engagement in August 1916 – where his 3 pounder gunnery destroyed Turkish magazine; it was probably this action for which he was awarded the Russian Military Cross.

Benson was the first enlisted man of the RNACD to be recommended for a commission, and from October to December 1916 he was in the UK training with the RNVR, being commissioned as Sub-Lieutenant in January 1917, and returning to Russia. The RNACD was now deployed on the new Romanian Front, with Sub-Lieutenant Benson in command of the Heavy Armoured car ‘Mountjoy’ covering a Russian retreat from Dobjura to Braila in an action at the end of January 1917. The RAC were deployed to Austrian Galicia in an increasingly unstable political atmosphere, as Russia began to be effected by revolution. In late July, Benson’s section of two 3-pounders were called to hold the line in trenches facing Brzezany after Russian troops withdrew. Benson again proved his artillery skills, knocking out a machine-gun positioned in a church belfry at a distance of 2000 yards.

Political uncertainty led to the withdrawal of the RAC in August 1917; at beginning of 1918 reconstituted as a brigade of the Army’s Motor Machine Gun Corps: Benson’s service records show how he was promoted full Lieutenant in January 1918, then transferred to the Army MGC in the same month. The former RNACD now redeployed via Mesopotamia to Baku as part of ‘Dunsterforce’, charged with securing the oil-rich Caspian region from Soviet and Turkish occupation.  Benson eventually reached the rank of Captain by the end of the war.

Post-war Benson returned to Canada and by the early 1920s was living at Qualicum Beach, Vancouver. He worked initially for the Government, then for a major timber company. He died in November 1938 in a drowning accident. He was 54.

The British Newspaper Archive - findmypast.co.uk.clipular (5)

References

Perrett, Bryan, and Anthony Lord. The Czar’s British Squadron. London: Kimber, 1981. Print.Czars

http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernirelandyourplaceandmine/topics/war/rnacd_list.shtml

Bewdley Men on the Somme II

Lance Corporal George Reginald STYLESstyles KT 11 11 16 p8

16th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment 450

Killed in action Sunday 3rd September 1916

Lance Corporal Styles is one of the four Bewdley men to serve with the Birmingham ‘Pals’ battalions of the 14th, 15th and 16th Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

George Reginald Styles was born in Peterborough, Northamptonshire on the 18th May 1893. He was the son of Bewdley–born George Henry Styles and Martha Ada Styles (formerly Shiers), who was from the Peterborough village of Eye Green. George Henry’s trade was a clothier, and the family lived at 9 Lincoln Road in the city. The couple’s daughter Winifred was born in 1894, but by 1901, the Styles family have returned to Bewdley, and live at 74 Load Street where George Henry is a fruiterer. The couple also have an infant son Herbert, born in 1901. In 1911, George is an apprentice golf equipment manufacturer, and the family home is now 6, Lower Park, Bewdley.

By the time of the outbreak of war in 1914, George Reginald Styles was working as a foreman in Simpsons Seed Merchants in Birmingham.[i] He enlisted in Aston, and his low regimental number is evidence of his being a very early volunteer to the 16th Battalion. His platoon is pictured in the ‘Birmingham Battalions Book of Honour’, where he is a private in 5th platoon under Lieutenant Neville Yardley, part of ‘B’ Company commanded by Captain Grahame Deakin.

Styles served in the same unit as Lance-Corporal Charles Minton (see above), and was killed in action during hand to hand fighting for the seizure of the fortified farmhouse of Falfemont near Guillemont on or around the 3rd September 1916.

On the evening of 31st August 1916, 15th Brigade relieved 13th Brigade in the front line, occupying trenches dug by their comrades in the 15th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. On the 1st September, the 16th Battalion dug assembly trenches in front of the German strong-point of Falfemont Farm in preparation for the imminent attack, designed to seize the spur of Somme countryside that overlooked the German held village of Combles, marked by the site of Leuze (or ‘Lousy’) Wood. In addition to this, on the evening of the 1st September, the 16th Battalion staged a reconnaissance by 2 patrols of 18 men, which succeeded in attracting machine gunfire, wounding the officer in command, Lt. J Hughes, and resulting in 2 men missing.

On the morning of the 2nd September, a British artillery bombardment opened up in preparation for the attack. This attracted German retaliation, and in a day of continual artillery bombardment, the 16th Royal Warwicks suffered 30 casualties, before being relieved in the evening by the 2nd Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers. By 3am in the morning of the 3rd September, they were back in support in Casement Trench.

After the attack on Falfemont Farm by the 14th and 15th Battalions of 13th Brigade, (as described in the entry on JB Smith),  the 16th Battalion were deployed on the evening of the 3rd September, in close support by Angle Wood . On the 4th, the 1st Norfolks renewed the attack, suffering heavily from machine gun fire. A and D companies of the 16th were ordered up to help the Norfolks, moving from shell hole to shell hole under heavy fire. As darkness fell the 16th were digging in on the southeastern edge of the farm, digging trenches or ‘saps’ towards the German positions. On the morning of the 5th September, these saps were used in the final assault on Falfemont Farm which fell after heavy hand to hand fighting. That night, the 16th Royal Warwicks were relieved by troops from the 16th (Irish) Division.[i]

Given the intensity of the fighting, exact dates for the loss of specific soldiers are difficult to establish, with some sources giving a blanket date of the 3rd September 1916 for casualties killed on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Between 31st August and 5th September, the 16th lost 61 men killed and 195 wounded.One of these was the 24-year-old George Reginald Styles, who was buried in Delville Wood Cemetery, grave XXV. K 7. he is also commemorated on his parent’s grave in Ribbesford churchyard. [ii]

[i]  Carter pp. 207-8

[i]  Kidderminster Shuttle 14th October 1916 page 8.

[ii]  ‘In loving memory of / George Henry Styles / who died August 7th 1924 / Aged 54 / Resting In Peace / Also George Reginald / Son of the above / killed in the Great War / September 3rd 1916 Aged 23 / Greater love hath no man than this / Also Martha Ada wife of  / George Henry Styles / who fell asleep November 2nd 1935 / aged 67 / until the morning without clouds’. Henry and Martha Styles lived at Rose Villa, Wyre Hill, Bewdley in the mid-1920s.

 

 

 

Bewdley Yeomen at Qatia, 23rd April 1916

Remembering today the officers and men of the Queen’s Own Worcestershire Hussars (Worcestershire Yeomanry) killed in action at Qatia and Oghratina, Egypt, on Sunday 23rd April 1916; including Bewdley men:

Charles BLOUNT 325573 aged 21, born Bayton near Cleobury Mortimer July 1895; lived with his grandparents and mother Mary Elizabeth (1872-1921) and worked as a coal miner.

Edward DOOLITTLE, 325615 born Rock, died in Turkish captivity 15th November 1916, and commemorated in Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, Iraq

Brothers  Percy HANGLIN 2635 of ‘A’ Squadron, aged 32, husband of Fanny M Hanglin of Mariemont, Far Forest, and Ernest, 325287, who died in  captivity on the 30th April. The Hanglins ran a well known butcher’s business in Bewdley and Kidderminster.

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Alfred Roland CREW 325559 born Wribbenhall, worked for GWR at Bewdley Station and is recorded on their Chester Memorial as ‘AR Crew’ of Bewdley.

 

 

 

 

The Yeomanry are commemorated on the Jerusalem Memorial in Israel.

dbImage“The action of Qatia was a minor Turkish victory against the British during the First World War. In the aftermath of the first Turkish attack on the Suez Canal, in February 1915, it had been decided to move the British defensive line east into the Sinai. The new position would be based around Qatia (or Katia), and would be connected to the Suez Canal by a new railway. This would allow the British to reduce the number of troops needed to defend the Egypt by allowing one force to block the three main routes across the Sinai. In April 1916, the new position was still being constructed. The 5th Mounted Brigade, with eight squadrons of cavalry (from the Warwickshire Yeomanry, Gloucestershire Hussars and Worcestershire Yeomanry), was in the Qatia area, preparing to attack a Turkish force that had been reported to be to their south east, at Bir el Mageibra. The eight squadrons were split into several groups. One was at Qatia, two at Romani (to the west), two at Oghratina (to the east) and three were preparing for the attack. The Turkish force at Bir el Mageibra was actually a detachment horn a force 3,500 strong, led by the German Kress von Kressenstein. At dawn on 23 April they attacked the two squadrons of the Worcesters at Oghratina, and overwhelmed them in a three hour battle. They then moved on to Qatia, where they attacked and defeated the squadron of the Gloucesters already there and a squadron of Worcesters who came to their aid. The remaining four British squadrons made an attempt to break through to Qatia, but were unable to breakthrough in time. Once Qatia had fallen, the rest of the British force pulled back to the Suez Canal.”

Anti-clockwise from top left: Lt Albert Jaffray Cay, Troopers William Moulder and Raymond Pocock; mobilisation in Worcester, 1914; the officers pictured in the Regimental history.

Preliminary Bibliography for sources on the action at Oghratina and Qatiya, 23rd April 1916

Anglesey, George Charles Henry Victor Paget. A History of the British Cavalry, 1816-1919. Volume 5., Egypt, Palestine and Syria, 1914-1919. London: Leo Cooper, 1994.

A substantial account that places the cavalry operations of Imperial forces in context

Bruce, Anthony. The Last Crusade: The Palestine Campaign in the First World War. London: John Murray, 2002.

Modern popular historical account – clear summary of the Qatiya affair

Buchan, John. The History of the Royal Scots Fusiliers (1678-1918). London: T. Nelson and Sons, ltd, 1925.

Details the defence of Deuidar

The Yeomanry Cavalry of Worcestershire, 1914-1922. Stourbridge [Eng.]: Mark & Moody, 1926.

Outstanding account of the Worcesters’ defence of Oghratina – excellent maps

Davies, Celia. Brian Hatton: A Biography of the Artist (1887-1916). Lavenham: T. Dalton, 1978.

Details the artistic life of one of the Worcesters’ officers – useful for their social context.

Fox, Frank. History of the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Yeomanry, 1898-1922: The Great Cavalry Campaign in Palestine. London: Allan, 1923.

Another excellent account with many details of the fighting.

Gullett, H. S. (Henry Somer), 1878-1940. The Imperial Force in Sinai and Palestine, 1914-1918: 1914-1918. Official history of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, v. 7. Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1939.

Kress von Kressenstein, Friedrich. War in the Desert. [Washington]: Historical Section, the Army War College, 1936.

Details of the attack from the perspective of the German commander of the Turkish force: a cursory reference.

Lambert, Angela. Unquiet Souls: The Indian Summer of the British Aristocracy, 1880-1918. London: Macmillan, 1984.

Some more social context on the Yeomanry officers especially Lord Elcho of the Gloucesters.

MacMunn, George Fletcher, and Cyril Falls. Military Operations, Egypt and Palestine: From the Outbreak of the War with Germany to June 1917. London: H.M. Stationary Office, 1928.

Sheffy, Yigal. British Military Intelligence in the Palestine Campaign, 1914-1918. Cass series–studies in intelligence. London: F. Cass, 1998.

Brief coverage of the action but superlative on intelligence background and photo reconnaissance.

 Teichmann, O. Diary of a Yeomanry Medical Officer: Egypt, Gallipoli, Palestine and Italy. [S.l.]: Naval And Military Press, 2002. originally Unwin  1921

Medical officer who was wounded at Gallipoli and missed Qatiya fighting – but good detail of the reconstruction of the Yeomanry brigade and later actions.

Thompson, R. R., and J. B. Ramsey. The Fifty-second Lowland Division, 1914-1918 ; Thompson, R.R., Lt.-Col. ; Maps and plans compiled from official sources and drawn by Captain J.B. Ramsey. Glasgow: Maclehose, Jackson, 1923.

Much more focused account of the Deuidar fighting.

 

 

A Brief Account of the Service in the Great War of Samuel George Brealy 1898 – 1985

Samuel George Brealy was born in Willesden, London on the 18 April 1898. He was the son of Frederick John Brealy (1865 – 1932) who was originally born in the village of Bow Zealmonchorum northeast of Okehampton in Devon; Samuel’s mother was a Londoner, born in Marylebone: Eliza Ellen Henson (1869-1933) married Frederick Brealy on the 8th September 1889, at St. Saviour’s church Paddington. Samuel appears to have been named after his maternal grandfather, Samuel George Henson.

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By the census in the spring of 1901, the Brealy family are living at 64 Pine Road Willesden. Frederick senior (born ‘Devonshire’) is listed as a ‘plasterer’ by profession; eldest son Frederick Brealey      is 11 years old, and was born in Kilburn; Thirza Brealey (named after her paternal grandmother Thirza Clement) is 8, born in Paddington in 1893; Samuel is 2, and George, born in Cricklewood in 1900, is 1.

64 Pine Rd.jpg

Ten years later, in the census of 1911, Eliza Brealy gives her place of birth as ‘Kilburn’. More importantly for the family as a whole, Frederick senior’s trade is now given as ‘house builder’ and his status as ‘employer’. Frederick has followed his father into the trade as a plasterer, and Thirza is employed as a dressmaker, and Samuel and George are schoolboys aged 12 and 11. The family still reside at 64, Pine Road, which is described as having six rooms. The Brealy family typify the industrious and respectable Edwardian middle class.

Samuel would have been sixteen at the outbreak of war in 1914, and he would have turned eighteen in April 1916. The first indication of his military service is his enlistment in the third OTC battalion of the 28th (City of London) Battalion or ‘Artist’s Rifles’, which he joined in late October 1916 with the service number 763020. The unique status of the Artist’s Rifles is described as being:

“…a popular unit for volunteers. It had been increased to twelve companies in 1900 and was formed into three sub-battalions in 1914, and recruitment was eventually restricted by recommendation from existing members of the battalion. It particularly attracted recruits from public schools and universities; on this basis, following the outbreak of the First World War, a number of enlisted members of The Artists Rifles were selected to be officers in other units of the 7th Division. [1] This exercise was so successful that, early in 1915, selected Artists officers and NCOs were transferred to run a separate Officers Training Corps, the remainder being retained as a fighting unit.”[1]

Samuel was granted his commission as an officer, with the rank of second lieutenant, on the 28th March 1917. The regiment in which he initially served is unclear, but appears to have been the Machine Gun Corps. He is more significantly listed as attached to the 6th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. This was a ‘Special Reserve’ battalion, based at home, training and supplying reinforcements to the many other battalions of this famous regiment. Wartime officers were often commissioned into battalions such as the 6th, and then were theoretically attached to another battalion of the same regiment once they had arrived overseas.

Commissioned in March, Samuel George Brealy joined the 12th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, then billeted north of Steenvoorde, a rear area to the west of Ypres:

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The 12th Royal Fusiliers were a ‘service’ or ‘Kitchener’ battalion of wartime volunteers. However, by the summer of 1917, they were part of the 17th Brigade of 24th Division, and had seen extensive fighting in the Battle of Loos, at Delville Wood and Guillemont during the Battle of the Somme, and at Vimy Ridge during April 1917. The rest period behind the lines was short lived, and the 12/RF returned to the trenches and the realities of the Western Front on the 7th June; at Dammstrasse near Hiele Farm positions taken by 8th Battalion The Buffs, several officers were killed and wounded by a shell on their dugout.

The First Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

The 12th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, (17th Brigade, 24th Division) formed part of the II Corps of Fifth Army; it was this Corps that made the main British effort the Gheluvelt Plateau, on the southern flank of the Fifth Army. II Corps had the most difficult task, advancing against the principal German defensive concentration of artillery, ground-holding and Eingreif divisions.[2] The 24th Division was to form a defensive flank, and it attacked with three Brigades at 3.50am, which was intended to coincide with dawn but low cloud meant that it was still dark.

The 17th Brigade’s 1st Royal Fusiliers reached the first objective or ‘Blue Line’ and joined with the adjoining 73rd Brigade in attacking Lower Star Post. The 12th Royal Fusiliers passed through the 1st and carried on towards the next objective or ‘Black Line’, where they came under fire from a strongpoint on the left flank and from Tower Hamlets. The 12th reached to within about 200 yards of the Bassevillebeek but was forced to withdraw to 300 yards short of the blue line. The 3rd Rifle Brigade helped them to consolidate.  The 17th Brigade had reached its objective 1,000 yards (910 m) east of Klein Zillebeke.

The rest of 73rd Brigade attacked through Shrewsbury Forest with 7th Northants and 2nd Leinsters. They were held up by fighting in the Forest but reached Jehovah Trench. The advance continued taking Gruoenenburg Farm and captured the flooded trenches at Jordan Trench, but was stopped by the pillboxes at Lower Star Point. The enemy held out all day, preventing any further advance. 73rd Brigade fell back and dug in front of Jordan Trench. The 72nd Brigade on the left reached the Bassevillebeek but then had to withdraw to a line south from Bodmin Copse, a few hundred yards short of the blue line (first objective).

24div_area

Figure 3: 24th Division Operations 31st July 1917

 

The 12th Battalion War Diary, the official record of a unit’s day to day activities gives a fuller account of the impact of a full attack against a prepared enemy:

Print map.clipular (1) Figure 4: Zillebeke and 24th Division Rear Area – 31st July 1917

hj cox
HJ Cox

 

Monday 30 July 1917 [RUM TRENCH, HALIFAX ST (left) HALIFAX ST (right) THE BELT, CANADA ST TUNNELS] Fine.

The Battalion moved from MICMAC CAMP SOUTH at 9.00 a.m. in the following order HQ, Numbers 1,2,3, & 4 Companies to G.H.Q. 2nd Line and were reported to be all in at 10.45a.m. The advance party moved up to the assembly positions at 3.30 p.m., 1 officer 4 OR per Coy. The Battalion moved from GHQ 2nd Line up to assembly positions at 5.30 p.m., in the following order. HQ Numbers 1, 2, 3 & 4 Companies, five minutes intervals between each platoon. Assembly points were reached by 11.0p.m.No.1 Coy in RUM TRENCH. No. 2 Coy in HALIFAX ST (left) No. 3 Coy in HALIFAX ST (right) No. 4 Coy in THE BELT. Battalion HQ were in CANADA ST TUNNELS. 2/Lt PATMAN [3] and 2 ORs were killed and 2/Lt CAMPBELL and 3 ORs were wounded in assembly positions.

Tuesday 31 July 1917 [ST PETERS ST, JEFFERY AVENUE, BODMIN COPSE] Fine.

Orders were received at 1.45 a.m. that zero hour would be at 3.50 a.m. At 3.00a.m. leading Companies Numbers 1, 2 and 3 Companies were formed up 200 yds. in rear of the 1st Roy Fus in Artillery formation. No. 4 Coy 200 yds in rear of No. 1 Coy in the same formation. No.1 Coy on left, No. 2 Coy in centre, and No. 3 Coy on right. No.1 Companies’ left resting on ST PETERS ST & No. 3 Coy’s right resting on “F” SAP. Companies remained in these positions until Zero plus five minutes, when they advanced to the attack. 2/Lt C. GILL [4] was killed at

E Cohen
E Cohen

the jumping off place. The Battalion advanced about 200 yds in rear of 1st Royal Fus, to JEFFERY AVENUE, where they were held up by strong points at J19c.90.10, and in wood between J25b.05.80 and J19c.90.15, & strong point at J25b.15.91 (Capt. H.J. COX[5], Capt. H.D. DOUDNEY[6], 2/Lt W.F. COOPER[7], Lt A.J. WALEY[8] were killed, and Capt. F.C. DAY [9], 2/Lt E. COHEN [10] (mortally), were wounded from these points).

 

 

bodmin lower starFigure 7: Final positions: Night, 31st July/1st August 1917

4.10 a.m. Lt MARTIN with the signallers advanced at this time & Lt H. MARTIN[11] was killed on the way up). These strong points were cleared up by the 1st Royal Fusiliers & the 12th Royal Fusiliers passed through the 1st Royal Fusiliers at 4.15 a.m. in JEFFERY AVENUE & were again held up by strong points at J19d.20.60. This point was cleared by No. 3 Coy, & the advance continued through BODMIN COPSE to the forward edge of this COPSE, but could not advance any farther owing to heavy machine gun and rifle fire & a line was established from J19d.56.90, J19d.48.85 thence to J19d.50.67, & J19d.40.38, the south east side of BODMIN COPSE. A block was built in trench at J19d.6?[1?].95 (LT. N P MUSSBAUM, was wounded here). Companies re-organised in this line and Capt. GIBSON took over command of the position. The final dispositions were: Numbers 1 and 2 Companies on Left holding trench from J19d.56.90 to J19d.50.96. No. 3 Coy in Centre from J19d.50.76 to J19d .47.54 No. 4 Coy on Right from J19d.47.54 to J19d.48.33 then South East edge of BODMIN COPSE. The Battalion was in touch with the 2nd Yorkshire Regt on Left & the 3rd Rifle Brigade on Right.

5.30 a.m. [CANADA ST TUNNELS, ILIAD RESERVE] Battalion Head Quarters moved from CANADA ST TUNNELS at 5.30 a.m. to J19c.50.12, but Colonel H.M. HOPE-JOHNSTONE [12]

WM_384
H M Hope-Johnstone (with thanks to Cheltenham College)

was mortally wounded on the way up. Capt. A. SIMKINS took over command of the Battalion. Battalion Headquarters moved again owing to heavy artillery fire & were finally established at J25a.60.90 in ILIAD RESERVE. This position was subjected to a heavy bombardment & was situated in a very dangerous position. Several messages had been sent from Coy Commanders to Battalion Head Quarters but never reached owing to the runners having been killed or wounded.

 

10.00 p.m. It started to rain heavily about 10.15p.m., & made the ground very soggy & hard to cross. The Battalion remained in this position being subjected to heavy rifle & machine gun fire.

11.00 p.m. At about 11.00 PM, two companies of the 2nd Yorks Regt came up & relieved the 12th Royal Fusiliers in this position. The trench was handed over, & the 12th Royal Fusiliers moved back to CANADA ST TUNNELS, Battalion Head Quarters remained in the same position in ILIAD RESERVE.[13]

SG Brealy, while not mentioned directly in the War Diary, evidently played a key role in themed-mc attack as his MC citation makes clear:

“While E. of YPRES, 3ist July, 1917. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty whilst acting as Liaison Officer. He showed the greatest courage and initiative in obtaining valuable information under intense machine-gun and shell fire. It was owing to his gallantry and dash that the leading battalions were kept in touch with one another, and thus greatly contributed to the success of the operation.”

 

The 12th Royal Fusiliers suffered the ignominious fate of being disbanded in February 1918 to provide reinforcements for other depleted battalions. SG Brealy seems to have transferred to the Machine Gun Corps as the August 1918 Army List shows him as a temporary Second Lieutenant in the MGC. The London Gazette gives a date of 28th September 1918 for his promotion to full lieutenant: “2nd Lt SG Brealy MC to be Lt”.

Brealy also served in the Second World War, serving as a Lieutenant in the 4th Canterbury (St Augustine) Battalion of the Home Guard., and by 1st February 1941 as a member of the Kent TA Association. The London Gazette of the 25th November 1942 records his commission as a Second Lieutenant for service with the Army Cadet Force (Kent Command) of the Regular Army. [14] He survived both conflicts, dying in 1985, after a full and successful life.

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Figure 9: The Menin Gate at Ypres, where many of the dead of the 31st July are commemorated

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Notes

[1] Over fifteen thousand men passed through the battalion during the war, more than ten thousand of them becoming officers. The battalion eventually saw battle in France in 1917 and 1918. Casualties suffered by both members of this battalion and amongst officers who had trained with The Artists Rifles before being posted to other regiments were 2,003 killed, 3,250 wounded, 533 missing and 286 prisoners of war. Members of the Regiment won eight Victoria Crosses (though none did so while serving with the Regiment), fifty-six Distinguished Service Orders and over a thousand other awards for gallantry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artists_Rifles

[2] These were German Army divisions specially trained to counter attack and retake captured positions.

[3] 2nd Lieutenant Harold George Patman was from Acton, and was formerly a Private in the Royal Regiment of Cavalry, and had been commissioned into the Royal Fusiliers in April 1917. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate memorial at Ypres.

[4]  2nd Lt. Colin Gill was born in 1892, the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Gill, of Clapham, London. He was formerly of Antofagasta, Chile and had served as a Private with the Honourable Artillery Company since August 1915. Gill was commissioned in December 1916. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate.

[5] Captain Henry Jack Cox was 28, born at Upper Norwood, London, the son of Charles William and Eliza Maunder Cox, of The Cot, Glen Avenue, Herne Bay, Kent. Originally buried near the battlefield, his grave was moved post war to the Hooge Crater Cemetery, grave IX. L. 1.He was a former pupil of Alleyn’s School, whose school magazine records how Cox ‘…returned from the Argentine in Dec, 1914, and obtained a commission. After nearly 2 yrs’ fighting in France, he was shot through the head by a German sniper.’

[6] Captain Hugh Densham Doudney was born in 1884, the son of Edwin Doudney, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., and Ada Doudney, of 4B, Oxford and Cambridge Mansions, Marylebone Rd., London. He was a medical student at Edinburgh University from 1903-09, and specialised in mental illness, working at the Kent Mental Hospital in Maidstone. He initially served from May 1915 as a private in King Edwards’ Horse, before being commissioned in the 12th RF in March 1916. He had been wounded on two previous occasions, seems to have commanded ‘A’ Company.

[7] 2nd Lieutenant William Holds Cooper was born in 1891. Son of Alfred and Elizabeth Cooper, of 65, Barkston Gardens, South Kensington, London  Grave Reference: IX. L. 18.:Hooge Crater Cemetery Bookham War Memorials – St Nicolas’ Church

[8] Lieutenant Aubrey John Simon Waley was the son of Major JD Waley, of St. Johns’ Wood who also served in the 4th Battalion Royal Fusiliers. Lieutenant Waley had served in France since September 1915. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres.

[9] Captain Frederick Charles Day was the son of Mrs. Emily A. Day, of 42, Fladgate Rd., Leytonstone, London. Commemorated on the Menin Gate and Leytonstone War Memorial. First served as a sergeant in the Wiltshire Regiment before being commissioned into the East Yorkshire Regiment in April 1915.

[10] 2nd Lt Edward Cohen MC was born in 1895, at Hackney, the son of Dutch-born school master Maurice and Sara Cohen (née Alexander), of London. At the time of the 1911 Census, the Cohen family were residing at 65 St Thomas Street. In August, he was awarded a posthumous Military Cross, the citation for which read: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He led his platoon with great determination and skill, under heavy machine-gun fire, against enemy dug-outs, which he successfully bombed, taking prisoners and capturing the machine gun. He has previously done very fine work.” http://theyserved.wikia.com/wiki/Edward_Cohen

[11]: Lieutenant Harold Martin was born on the 30th November 1892; he was the son of Capt. H. C. Martin, R.N., C.B.E. and Mrs. M. H. Martin, of “Montpellier,” 82, Hermon Hill, Snaresbrook, Essex, and had served in France since October 1915. Martin is commemorated on the Menin Gate

[12] Henry Murray Hope-Johnstone was born on the 31st March 1886 in Esher, Surrey, and was baptised in June at nearby Cobham; He was the son of William James Hope Johnstone and Emily Mary Baillie. He was educated at Cheltenham College, leaving the school in 1902; he was commissioned into the Royal Fusiliers in May 1908, and by 1911, was lieutenant serving with the 2nd Battalion in India. He was wounded while serving with the Battalion at Gallipoli. Twice mentioned in dispatches, (LG 5/8/15; 5/5/16; 13/7/16) he was also awarded an MC in the Edinburgh Gazette of May 1916, while attached to the Egyptian Army. His brother Lieutenant William Gordon Tollemache Hope Johnstone was also killed in 1914 serving with the 4th Battalion RF. His address at time of his death was Brownleigh, Feltham.

[13] Trench Map 28 NW 4 and 28 NE 3 (Zillebeke) covers the area described in the War Diary

[14] http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/360…upplements/3153

World War Two memorial: Kidderminster Co-Op Society

ww2 kidderminster

Corporal Harold Ernest Bevan Son of Joseph Henry and Bertha Bevan; husband of Winifred Elsie Bevan, nee Viner, of Stirchley, Birmingham, married in 1941, .served in the 7th Battalion Green Howards (Alexandra, Princess of Wales’ Own Yorkshire Regiment) with the service number 4036503. The 7th Green Howards formed one of the four battalions of the 69th Infantry Brigade of the 50th Northumberland Division of Montgomery’s 8th Army. Bevan died 21 Mar 1943 in North Africa, aged 25; elements of 50th Division assaulted the fortified Mareth line which formed part of the frontier between Libya and Tunisia forming a pocket west of Zarat on the 20th / 21st March 1943. This ground was retaken after a fierce counter-attack by the German 15th Panzer Division. Lt Colonel Derek Seagrim won a Victoria Cross in this action.  Born and resident in Worcestershire. Commemorated on the MEDJEZ-EL-BAB MEMORIAL, Face 17.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Anthony_Seagrim

 

Bombardier Clifford John Parton Born 1917, son of John William and Maud Louisa Parton nee Cope; husband of Hilda May Brearwood, married in 1941, of Dawley, Shropshire. Served with 105 Anti-Tank Regt Royal Artillery with the service number 874828.This unit formed part of the 8th Army’s XIII Corps, and served in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. Gothic Line. Died on the 08/07/1944 aged 26. Coll. grave I. E. 11-13 of AREZZO WAR CEMETERY, Italy.

http://ftr.wot-news.com/2013/12/16/the-archer/

Sergeant WILLIAM GEORGE McKay of 65 Blackwell Street, Kidderminster, husband of Kate McKay nee Ward, married in 1936; served with the 1st Bn Worcestershire Regiment, Service number: 5258356. Died 7th August 1944, aged 34. Buried in Grave XV. A. 26.of BANNEVILLE-LA-CAMPAGNE WAR CEMETERY.

Gunner REGINALD WILLIAMS Service No: 1092590, born in Kidderminster in 1908, son of Edward Henry and Nellie Williams; lived at 31 Hurcott Road as a child. Husband of Winifred Ida Gannaway who he married in 1936. 5th Regt. Royal Horse Artillery, 7th Armoured Division. Died 10/05/1943 aged 35. Buried Grave A. 20.THIBAR SEMINARY WAR CEMETERY tunisia.60 Wolverhampton Road, Kidderminster.

http://www.queensroyalsurreys.org.uk/ww2/middle_east/qme026.html

 

Private ROBERT PEARSON Born 1923 in Pershore, son of Bert and Hannah Pearson, nee Mason; husband of Kathleen Alice Pearson, nee Medlicott, married 1943 of Kidderminster, Worcestershire. 2/4th Bn. King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Service No: 5260266. Died 27/01/1944 Age: 21. Commemorated on Panel 9.of the CASSINO MEMORIAL

“On the night of 26th/27th January 138th Brigade began to attack and 6th Lincolns won a firm footing on the slopes of Monte Rotondo East, going on to capture it on the night of the 28th. In the sporadic fierce fighting that followed, on the night of 7th/8th February 6th Lincs twice reached Monte Faito and twice were pushed off it by immediate counter-attacks which forced them back to Ornito. Matters reached an impasse and from 9 February 1944 the whole of the division went over to the defensive as the focal point of the struggle became Cassino and Anzio.”

 http://www.britisharmedforces.org/li_pages/regiments/koyli/kingyork_ww2.htm

http://www.britishmilitaryhistory.co.uk/documents.php?aid=65&nid=9&start=0

Drummer Charles Henry White born 1919, Son of Charles Henry and Ethel White, nee Gudgeon of Kidderminster; 7th Bn Worcestershire Regiment, served with the number 5250058 and died on the 23 May 1940. Buried in grave I. A. 16. of BRUYELLE WAR CEMETERY.Battalion ordered to take over line of canal from

“Battalion ordered to take over line of canal from BRUYELLE towards CALONNE after attack by 1st Camerons. BRUYELLE found to be held by 8th. Worc. R. and 5th Glos. R. already. Accordingly “C” Company acted as support on arrival late at night. “D” Company covered the canal north of BRUYELLE in a semi-circular position. 22nd May Battalion Headquarters in Wood 9436. Enemy shelled position at intervals during the day, and some sniping along canal side. One Platoon, Commanded by 2/Lieut. D. H. Lunt on the Battalion’s left – together with some Camerons cornered in a gully were badly knocked about by enemy Mortar Fire, and being unable to retire as their rear was covered by enemy machine guns. They remained all day, and managed to get back at night. There were several casualties including 2/Lieut. D. H. Lunt, who was badly wounded.”

Additional Information:

http://www.worcestershireregiment.com/wr.php?main=inc/h_dunkirk_7thBn_diary

http://www.worcestershireregiment.com/photo_7th_Worc_Band_1939.php

 

 

 

 

Bewdley’s Jutland Casualties

Stoker 1st. Class  Sydney Mulliner 111980 HMS ‘Queen Mary’

Leading Seaman Philip Harold Knowles 237423 HMS ‘Indefatigable.’

2016 is a year of very resonant Great War centenaries, not just of the Battle of the Somme in July, but also for the anniversary of the greatest battleship clash in history, the Battle of Jutland. This confrontation between the British and German navies took place 80 miles west of the Danish coast on the 31st May 1916. Release of naval personnel files has revealed two sailors with Bewdley links who became casualties in the opening stage of the battle, where British battlecruisers proved unexpectedly vulnerable to German naval gunnery, despite advantages in speed and armament. While the strategic outcome of the battle left the Royal Navy in continuing control of the sea around Britain, tactically the Germans were able to inflict damaging losses.

Sydney Mulliner was born Arley on December 16th 1892, the son of George Mulliner (1859 -1918) and Mary Morris (1861 – 1945?). George Mulliner worked as a gardener, living at Dallicott Hall Claverley, Shropshire house of Thomas J Franks a JP. In the early 1890s, his family consisted of Thomas 11, Ellen 9, George, 7 Mary 5, and Cecelia, aged 1. The family were certainly in Upper Arley at of Sydney’s birth in 1892; by 1901 the family also includes Charles 5, Rose 2, and John 2 months. (Mary Mulliner was still resident at Copse Mill, Upper Arley, when the Commonwealth War Graves compiled their register in the early 1920s.)

Sydney joined the navy as a Stoker on the 1st April 1912, and was given the service number SS111980. He gave his occupation as ‘farm labourer’, and his height was 5 feet 6 inches. He first served at HMS Victory II, a training depot at Portsmouth, then on HMS Renown, an older ship built in 1895, but used as stoker’s training vessel. He then served aboard two submarine depot ships, HMS Bonaventure, an old 1892 cruiser, and HMS Maidstone. His next posting was more prestigious, being the brand-new battlecruiser HMS Queen Mary; Sydney served aboard this famous ship from her commissioning on 4th September 1913, for the remainder of his career, and he went down with her.

Queen Mary was assigned to the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron (BCS) under the command of Rear Admiral David Beatty, and made a port visit to Brest in February 1914, and visited Russia in June. She took part in the Battle of the Heligoland Bight in 1914, but was refitting in January and February 1915.

 

Philip Harold Knowles was born in Birmingham 8th October 1890, the son of William Knowles (1863? – 1896?) and Mary Elizabeth Ennis (1865 – 1944). Mary was from the Pensax/Martley area, and her father was William Ennis, a carpenter from Porchbrook near Rock. In the 1891 Mary Knowles and infant Phillip are visiting Emma Slater at Gorst Hill, a relative of her stepmother Sarah Reece (nee Patrick). His sister Ada is born in Bewdley in 1892, and Philip is described as a ‘Native of Bewdley’ in Commonwealth War Grave Commission records. By the time of Philip’s death in action, his mother is remarried and is ‘Mrs R. Betts’ at ‘28 Shireland Road, Smethwick…formerly of Nechells and Bewdley’

Philip was a career sailor who served 10 years at sea, and who joined navy for twelve years on his eighteenth birthday, and whose civilian occupation was a ‘fitters’ assistant’. In an extensive naval career he served on over twenty ships and shore stations. Intriguingly the New South Wales Police Gazette of the 25th Jan 1911 describes him as ‘deserted’ from the cruiser HMS Encounter at Sydney, which formed part of the Royal Navy’s Australia Squadron. Knowles is described as ‘5 foot 8 inches…dark brown hair, hazel eyes, fresh complexion…(tattoos) flower right forearm, bird and woman left forearm….eagle right upper arm.’ Knowles is however back aboard Encounter for the 1911 census in April when moored at Tonga in the South Pacific.

His entry in the National Roll of the Great War insists he served on HMS Agamemnon in the Battle of the Heligoland Bight and Dardanelles, but naval records suggest service on Indefatigable from the of 3rd December 1913. Indefatigable did indeed take part in the bombardment of Dardanelles forts in November 1914.

Indefatigable was sunk on 31 May 1916 while also serving as part of Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty’s Battlecruiser Fleet: she was hit several times in the first minutes of the “Run to the South”, the opening phase of the battlecruiser action. Shells from the German battlecruiser Von der Tann caused an explosion which ripped a hole in her hull, and a second explosion destroyed the ship. Only two of the crew of 1,019 survived. Twenty-five minutes later, Queen Mary was hit twice by the German battlecruiser Derfflinger, and her magazines exploded shortly afterwards, leaving only nine survivors. Sydney Mulliner and Philip Knowles rest with their shipmates in the North Sea, but are commemorated on the Portsmouth and Plymouth Naval Memorials

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“It Is My Sad Duty…” Three of Bewdley’s Somme Casualties.

 

 

This is the story of three of the men on the St. Anne’s War Memorial who all served with the 3rd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment, and who fell in the Battle of the Somme in summer 1916, a century ago.

John Daniel Griffiths was born on the 11th January 1895 in Oaken, Codsall, Staffordshire: he was the eldest child of Daniel Griffiths a domestic groom (born in Donnington, Shropshire in 1871), and (Sarah) Ellen Griffiths (neé Wormington) who was born in Crossbrook, just east of Bromsgrove in 1869. The couple had married near to Ellen’s home in Bromsgrove in the summer of 1893. By the beginning of the new century, the family lived at 63 Ash Street, Wolverhampton, and John Daniel had been joined by Bertha born in Wolverhampton in 1898, Florrie, born 1900 in Wolverhampton, and 6 month-old William. At some point in the following decade, possibly following the death of Daniel Griffiths senior in 1908, the family lived in Dudley and then relocated to Bewdley.[1]

By 1911 the Griffiths are living at 24 Wyre Hill, and John Daniel (who seems to have gone by his second given name) is employed as errand boy helping support a substantial number of siblings: Harry had been born in 1901 while the family remained in Wolverhampton, and Richard was also born there in 1903 . Horace was born in Dudley in 1905, and Ernest and David after the family’s move to Bewdley in 1907 and 1909 respectively. The widowed Sarah Ellen Griffiths was a charwoman.[2]

In the years before the war, Daniel Griffiths moved away from Bewdley and set up trade as a butcher at 161 Pershore Road, Cotteridge, King’s Norton. It was here that he married Polly Fletcher, a domestic servant and daughter of agricultural labourer William Fletcher, on the 25th November 1914 at the Baptist Chapel in Wythall Heath. Polly lived at The Chestnuts, Alcester Road Wythall, near Alvechurch.

With the coming of war, and the intensifying battles on the Western Front, Griffiths formally enlisted in the 3rd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment at Hollywood, near Solihull, just outside Wythall sometime in April 1916. Conscription had just been introduced, and it is possible he was an early conscript who had previously been excluded from service due to his trade as a butcher. He joined the battalion in July, at the height of the fighting on the Somme, possibly as part of a draft of reinforcements received on the 24th. [3] His service on the Somme was to last less than a month, and he would not return to Wythall. [4]

3rd Battalion Worcestershire on the Somme: July-October 1916 [5]

When Daniel Griffiths joined the 3rd Worcestershire on the Somme in July 1916, they were heavily committed to the battle. The 3rd Battalion was by then part of the 7th brigade of 25th Division, and saw extensive service during the early stages of the Battle. The 25th Division was not deployed on the first day of the battle, but they received their orders to move towards the front on the morning of 2nd July 1916. The artillery of the distant battle to the east was clearly audible, and the 7th Brigade moved along crowded roads to reserve positions to the South of Aveluy Wood. On the morning of the 3rd July 1916, an attack upon the German positions in front of the Brigade, centred on Thiepval Ridge failed, resulting in the 7th Brigade being used to relieve the attacking units. 1 Wiltshire Regiment were sent forward, while the 3rd Worcestershire remained in reserve.

The British attacks had seized the German frontline, but heavy fighting was taking place in the warren of supporting reserve trenches in the German position. By 5 July it became obvious that the Wiltshire Battalion were struggling to stem the German counter-attacks, and two companies of the 3rd Worcestershire were sent to support them. For 48 hours the two battalions fought in the rain soaked trenches under constant German artillery bombardment, with the majority of the fighting being hand-to-hand or using hand grenades or “bombs” as they were known in the Great War. It was not until the evening of the 7 July that the two battalions were withdrawn to reserve positions, back at Aveluy Wood. 21 men had been killed, and over 162 wounded or missing.

After two short days in reserve, the 25th  Division was redeployed, and the 3rd Worcestershire found themselves marching through La Boiselle, the scene of heavy fighting involving some of their sister battalions in the previous stages of the battle. The aim of the next attack involving the 3rd Worcestershire was to take part in the capture of the village of Ovilliers. On the 10 July, half a company of the 3rd Worcestershire supported the efforts of the 8 Loyal North Lancashire to seize the spur of ground leading to Ovilliers. Despite heavy fighting they were unable to do so. Throughout the next two to three days, the Battalion took part in the fighting which pushed British lines close to Ovilliers, often taking place through direct remains of German trench networks. The regimental history describes the position of the 3rd Worcestershire as like a “spear point into the broken German defences”. Such a position was precarious; given the strong German intent to defend their position. The Battalion managed to beat off determined counter-attacks on the morning of 14 July. Fresh troops including the 48 Division’s 143rd Brigade gradually took up positions towards the north side of Ovilliers, and after further fighting succeeded in fatally isolating the German position. Further reinforcements led to the 3rd Worcestershire trenches being made secure, and by the 16 July it was described as “strongly defended”. Early on the morning of the 17 July the 25th Division was withdrawn; the 3rd Worcestershire had suffered 177 casualties.

After two day’s rest the 3rd Worcestershire redeployed as part of 25th Division, with the Battalion at reserve positions in Mailly Wood, while the rest of their Brigade took over positions previously held by the 29th Division.[6] The battalion moved to the front line trenches immediately to the west of the River Ancre, the northern tributary of the Somme, on the 3rd1st July. Despite heavy fighting to the south, this sector of the battlefield was quiet, and the Battalion was withdrawn along with the 25th Division when they were relieved by 6 Division on 6 August 1916. Their initial rest area was at billets in Bertrancourt where they stayed until 11 August, before moving to rear training areas. This training, including inspection by H M the King, came to an end on 17 August, when the 7 Brigade returned to their previous battlefield of the Leipzig salient near Thiepval, where the situation remained much as it had done in the previous month. However, the capture of the Ovilliers spur (as described above) had made the German positions in the Leipzig salient more vulnerable, and on 21 August orders were received for the 25th and 48th Divisions were to make a joint attack on these German positions.

Throughout that time, the 3rd Worcestershire were under constant attack from German fire. The Battalion held their ground throughout the 22nd and 23rd and early part of 24 August, and despite the regimental history describing this period as being “without notable incident”, on 23rd August alone the Battalion lost seven men killed and 50 wounded: one of the dead was 22 year-old Private John Daniel Griffiths. The attack on the German positions in Lemberg trench began at 4:10 PM on 24 August, and both the 3rd Worcestershire and 1 Wilts went over the top preceded by a very heavy British artillery barrage. Hand-to-hand fighting resulted when they reached the German position, using both hand grenades and bayonets. German counter-attacks pressed hard upon the flanks of the newly seized position, but they were resisted. The Germans poured artillery fire onto their former positions, but both battalions laboured to improve and secures the captured territory by reinforcing its defences. At some point during 24 August 1916, Private John Rollins (see below) was killed. This artillery fire continued throughout the 25th August, but the two 7 Brigade battalions held their positions, and prepared for the inevitable German counter-attack. German shelling increased in intensity towards the end of the day, but British counter barrages broke up an attack before it could be launched. The 3rd Worcestershire were relieved on the evening of 26 August after three days of battle which had cost them 243 casualties.

 

John Rollins was a Leicestershire born man who moved to Bewdley in his youth. The John was the eldest son of Charles Rollins, a coachman and gardener by profession who was born in Stoke Goldington, Buckinghamshire in 1857. He married Martha Ann Wallington in Northampton in 1879. Martha was born in Weston Favrell, Northamptonshire in 1885. The couple’s first home was at 66 St George’s Street Northampton, and their first child, Nora was born in 1880. The family spent some time at the village of Blaston in Leicestershire, where their daughter Jessie was born in 1883rd. By 1887, the family were living in East Gate Street in the village of Hallaton, Leicestershire, where Beatrice was born in 1887, and John Rollins was born in 1890. The family’s other two sons, Charles Henry and Reuben were born in Hallaton in 1892 and 1894 respectively. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the family lived in the town of West Bretton, near Wakefield.

 

At some time in the early 1900s, the family moved to Bewdley. John became a keen member of the Boy Scout movement. A poignant photograph of him exists as a scout pictured with Frank Tolley (see below left; Rollins right). Neither of the two survived the Great War.

Bewdley scouts Tolley Rollins pc 1911 (1)

By 1911, the family lived at Hawthorn Cottages, Cleobury Road. Reuben Rollins lived at home with his parents. John Rollins was working in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire as a cotton weaver in the home of his sister Lily (possibly his sister Nora by another name), who had married Lawrence Preston in 1900. Charles Henry Rollins was similarly lodging with his sister Jessie (now Munslow) at Ashdene Villas, 18 Cyril Road, Worcester, and working as a journeyman baker. Rollins became engaged to Gertrude Florence Sargent of Rashwood near Droitwich – she was born in Charfield, Gloucestershire, in 1898, the daughter of Albert and Elizabeth Sargent. She went on to marry Victor White in Thornbury, Gloucestershire, in 1920, and died in Stroud in 1962.

John Rollins joined the army on the 6th April 1916, and as he is described as having had ‘three months training’. John’s brothers both survived the war: Charles Henry Rollins served with the Army Service Corps from 1914; Reuben Rollins served in the Lincolnshire Regiment.

It was during the latter stages of the Battle of the Somme, during fighting around the tributary of the Somme river, the Ancre, that Thomas Edward Griffin was fatally wounded. On the 2nd October 1916, the 3rd Battalion moved up from the valley below Thiepval, and relieved the 8th Battalion of the Loyals in captured trenches on the crest line above the Ancre. This was a very distinctive and heavily shelled feature, and the battalion began to suffer casualties very quickly. The position on the Ancre heights was held in driving rain and constant bombardment for ten days. On the 10th October, the neighbouring position to the left of the battalion known as ‘Stiff Redoubt’ was seized by the 10th Cheshire. On the 12th October 1916, the 3rd Worcestershire were relieved and moved to support trenches, then to bivouacs near Bouzincourt for a night’s rest. On the 16th October the battalion moved to positions in dugouts at Crucifix Corner. A major attack was being planned, and the 3rd Worcestershire were pressed into service as carrying parties moving up and down to the Ancre heights in more rain and deep mud. The attack was successful, with the whole length of the Ancre Heights being taken by the British. The 3rd Worcestershire were relieved to Bouzincourt and then on to Herissart. [7] During this period the Battalion suffered one man killed and six wounded. One of those wounded was Thomas Edward Griffin, who was described as being ‘seriously wounded by…gunshot wounds received in action’. [8]

 

Griffin was born in Dog Lane, Bewdley on the 29th May 1883, the son of John Edward and Mary Jane Griffin. John Edward Griffin is a labourer by profession, and was born in Bewdley in 1858; Mary Jane’s maiden name was probably Lowe, and the couple married in Dudley in 1878. In the 1881 census, John Edward is a butcher resident at 87 Welch Gate, with two daughters: Jane aged 2 and Alice aged 1. By 1901 the widowed ‘Minnie’ Griffin lives at Court 1 Severn Side North. Her children are Alice aged 21 and Minnie 14 who both work in a carpet factory; Thomas Edward aged 17 works as a horse carter; James G is aged 13, and Edith is aged 2.[9]

At some point in the early 1910s, Thomas Griffin was employed on the inland waterways of the Midlands: in the census of April 1911 he is serving as a mate on the ‘Agnes’, a boat moored at The Wharf in Stone, Staffordshire. The 48 year old master of the ‘Agnes’, Albert Crump was also a Bewdley man. His brother James was also a mate on a canal boat, captained by Frederick George Norwood at Stewponey wharf in Kinver.

Thomas Griffin was married to Elizabeth B Tillman (born 1894 in Bewdley)[10] on the 13th of April 1915. At the time of his marriage, Griffin was living with his parents at 14, Brook Street, Kidderminster, but the couple soon moved to 36, Lax Lane, Bewdley, and they had one child, also named Thomas Edward, born in 1915. Before enlisting, Griffin was employed by Spears and Jackson’s of Sheffield. Griffin enlisted at Kidderminster in January 1915, and initially served in the 12th Reserve Battalion of the regiment, and subsequently the 4th or 9th Battalion. He arrived in the Dardanelles on the 29th August 1915, possibly as part of a substantial draft of reinforcements for the 9th Battalion.[11] He was invalided home with ‘enteric’ in October 1915, was treated in Netley Hospital, near Southampton. He was at home for Christmas 1915 on leave, and returned to France, serving with the 3rd battalion in January 1916. Griffin’s brother Private James G Griffin also served with either the 4th or 9th Worcesters in the Dardanelles. He joined up on January the 7th 1915, and was invalided home in June 1915

Thomas Griffin was taken to the Canadian General Hospital at Etaples, but died of his wounds. He is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery, grave VIII. C. 9A. He was 34. Daniel Griffiths left a widow and child back in Wythall; either his body or his grave was destroyed, and together with John Rollins he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing which is located very close to the German positions they fought to capture in August 1916.

 

Kidderminster Shuttle 16th September 1916. PAGE 7; 11th November 1916, p.7, 25th th November 1916, p.7, 27th October 1917.

Kidderminster Times December 2nd 1916 p.8

[1] Daniel Griffiths senior’s profession at death is given as ‘coachman ‘.

[2] Sarah Ellen Griffith later remarried and her marriage to William Clarke is listed in the Register of marriages in October/November/December 1915. In 1916 she lived at 2 ‘off’ Load Street, Bewdley.

[3] Whithorn

[4] Kidderminster Shuttle 7th October 1916 p.7.

[5] These accounts are heavily reliant on Stacke’s magisterial Regimental History, and respectfully follow the example of David Whithorn’s touching account of his great-uncle Albert Turley’s death, also with the 3rd Battalion, on 24 August 1916, as described in his book Bringing Uncle Albert Home: A Soldier’s Tale (Stroud Sutton 2003 Print).

[6] It will be remembered that this Division’s 88th Brigade contained the 4th Worcestershire.

[7]  Stacke p.199

[8]  Kidderminster Times 25th /11/1916 p.7

[9] By 1916, Mrs MJ Griffin lived at 15, Brook Street, Kidderminster.

[10] The Tillman family lived at 3rd, Severnside South Bewdley. Elizabeth Griffin died in 1985.

[11] Stacke p. 105