Lander George Mann was the 2nd of eight children born to George Mann, a blacksmith, and Elizabeth Ann (nee Raven) who married in 1897, in Southam. He was born in 1899 in Long Itchington, Warwickshire and was baptised at the local church on 10th Sep 1899. In the 1911 census the Mann family lived in Elm Row, Stockton, Warwickshire.
Lander enlisted at Rugby into the 3rd Royal Warwick Regiment as a private, no: 41717. It is not known when he joined up but according to the Medal Rolls he served abroad with the Royal Warwicks from 4th to 18th August 1918, then the 2/4th London Regiment, Royal Fusiliers, service number 85158 until 11th September, before moving to the 2/2nd battalion.
By early September 1918 the British advance had reached The Hindenburg Line. After the losses of the previous few months, 180,000 in the last six weeks, Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig was reluctant to order any offensives, but allow the men to rest. When he received news of the British Third Army’s success at the Battle of Havrincourt on 12th Sept, he changed his mind and approved the plan to clear German outpost positions on the high ground before the Hindenburg Line.
In order not to give warning of the attack, there was no preliminary bombardment and the guns would fire concentration shots at zero hour and then provide a creeping barrage to support the infantry. The attack started at 5.20 am on 18th September and comprised all three corps of the fourth army, with V Corps of the Third flank and the French First Army on the right.
The promised French assistance did not arrive, resulting in limited success for IX Corps on that flank. On the left flank, III Corps also found difficulty when attacking the fortifications erected at “the Knoll”, Quennemont and Guillemont farms, which were held determinedly by German troops, the village was however captured by the British 12th Eastern Division [7th Norfolk, 9th Essex and 1st Cambridge]. In the centre, General John Monash’s two Australian divisions achieved complete and dramatic success. The 1st Australian Division and the 4th Australian Division, had a strength of some 6,800 men and in the course of the day captured 4,243 prisoners, 76 guns, 300 machine-guns and thirty trench mortars. They took all their objectives and advanced to a distance of about 3 miles (4.8 km) on a 4 mile (6.4 km) front. The Australian casualties were 1,260 officers and men (265 killed, 1,057 wounded, 2 captured.)
The Battle of Epehy closed as an Allied victory, with 11,750 prisoners and 100 guns captured. Although not a total success, it signalled an unmistakable message that the Germans were weakening and it encouraged the Allies to take further action with haste (with the offensive continuing in the Battle of St. Quentin Canal), before the Germans could consolidate their positions.
It is not clear what part the 2nd battalion of the Royal Fusiliers took in the Battle of Epehy, but Lander George Mann died of wounds the following day, the 19th September and was buried in Epehy Wood Farm Cemetery, in plot number 1.G.19 a row away from Harold John Russell at 1.F.17 who had probably enrolled in Rugby on the same day
It was reported in an October 1918 edition of the Rugby Advertiser:
Stockton: Our Men – The sad news has reached the village that Lander Mann, formerly a choir boy in Stockton Church, has made the great sacrifice on the Western Front. The family, who now live at Rugby, have many friends in the parish, the great sympathy is felt for Mr & Mrs Mann in their sorrow. The lad was 19 years old.
Lander was awarded The Victory and British War Medals (ref: T P/104 B34 Page 4162)
The family were living at 22 Rowland Street, Rugby when the following words were engraved on his gravestone:
In the Midst of Life,
We are in Death
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM