Collins, Henry Edward. Died 3rd Jul 1916

Henry Edward Collins was born in early 1891 in Willey, Warwickshire. He was 3 months old for the 1891 census on 5 April. He was the son of William Collins, b.c.1866 in Willey, and his wife, Jane, who was born in about 1864 in Church Eaton, Shropshire.

The family seems to have moved about, having children born in Shropshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire. In 1901, William Collins was a ‘waggoner on farm’ in Willey, and in 1911 he was a ‘Shunter’ at the cement works in Rugby

In 1911, Henry Collins was a ‘window cleaner’ and living with his family at 128 New Street, New Bilton, Rugby, which being located off the Lawford Road, would have been convenient for his father’s and elder brother’s work at the cement works. Indeed, Henry also ‘… prior to the War was employed at the Cement Works.’[1]

Henry Edward Collins enlisted in Rugby in January 1915,[2] as Private, No.17451 in the 8th Battalion, the Gloucestershire Regiment.

The 8th (Service) Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment was raised Horfield Barracks, Bristol, in August – September 1914, as part of Kitchener’s Second New Army and joined 57th Brigade in 19th (Western) Division. They trained at Perham Down and in March 1915 moved to Tidworth for final training. They proceeded to France on the 18 July 1915, the division concentrating near St Omer

Henry’s Medal Card shows that he went to France on 9 August, slightly later than the main body of the Battalion.

The Battalion’s first action was at Pietre, in a diversionary action supporting the Battle of Loos. It may have been here that Henry ‘… was previously wounded and invalided home to England, and returned to the front on recovery.[3]

In 1916, the Battalion was in action during the Battle of the Somme, capturing La Boisselle.[4],[5] The Division was actually ‘in reserve’ on 1 July 1916, when …

… La Boisselle was attacked by the 34th Division of III Corps … but the bombardment had not damaged the German deep-mined dug-outs … The III Corps divisions lost more than 11,000 casualties and failed to capture La Boisselle or Ovillers, … The advance of the 103rd Brigade was over ground with a fold, which meant that the disastrous attack by the preceding brigades could not be seen as the brigade advanced to be engaged by artillery and machine-gun fire, which inflicted 70 percent casualties, before the troops had reached the British front line. … The 19th (Western) Division [including the 8th Gloucesters] was rushed forward from the reserve, in case of a German counter-attack on Albert. The 19th Division continued the attack and captured most of the village by 4 July.[6]

It was presumably after this advance from the reserve that Henry was killed, aged 25, on 3 July 1916, or, as stated in a letter to his mother from a friend of her son, on 4 July 1916. That letter stated ‘… that a small wooden cross had been erected on his grave’.[7]

Collins, Henry E is listed by the CWGC as one of those killed or missing, on 3 July 1916 and whose body was not found or identified. No doubt the ‘small cross’ was lost in the shelling during and after the assault on La Boisselle. He is now remembered on Pier and Face 5 A and 5 B of the Thiepval Memorial.

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was built between 1928 and 1932 and unveiled by the Prince of Wales, in the presence of the President of France, on 1 August 1932.

He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates.

Henry Edward Collins was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

His ‘mother and sole legatee, Jane’ received £2-4-0d on 13 September 1916 and £6-0-0d on 9 September 1919.

His younger brother, George Thomas Collins [b.c.1896], of 45 New Street, New Bilton also enlisted at Rugby under the Group System in connection with Lord Derby’s Recruiting Scheme.[8]

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Henry Edward Collins was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, June 2016.

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 22 July 1916.

[2]       Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 22 July 1916.

[3]       Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 22 July 1916.

[4]         http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/battalion.php?pid=6182

[5]         http://www.remembering.org.uk/glosregtofficers/glos_regt_offrs_orbat.htm

[6]         https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capture_of_La_Boisselle

[7]       Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 22 July 1916.

[8]       Lord Derby’s Scheme, part 2, Recruiting At Rugby, Rugby Advertiser, 4 December 1915.

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