Boyes, Frederick Ernest. Died 16th Aug 1917

Frederick Ernest BOYES’s birth was registered in Q3 1896 in Rugby, he was the son of John Boyes, b.c.1858, in Willoughby or Rugby and Anna (Annie) Marie, née Webb, Boyes, also b.c.1858, in Lawford or Rugby.

He appears to have been baptised twice: first on 2 December 1896 at St. Andrew’s church, Rugby, with the surname spelled ‘Boies’; he was then baptised again on 9 May 1897 also at St Andrew’s with the correct surname ‘Boyes’ entered in the register.

On both baptism dates, the family were living at 11 Worcester Street, Rugby, and his father was an ‘Engine driver’ or an ‘LNWR Driver’. In 1901, they were still living at 11 Worcester Street; Frank was about two and the youngest of six children then at home – his father was still a ‘railway engine driver’.

By 1911, the family had moved to live at 84 Railway Terrace, Rugby.   Frank’s parents had been married 31 years and had had 9 children, of whom eight had survived. His father was still a ‘Railway engine driver’; three sons were still at home, with Frederick, now aged 14 working as a ‘Confectioner’s Errand Boy’.

Frederick Ernest Boyes

The exact date Frederick enlisted is not known but was probably sometime in later 1914 or earlier 1915. He enlisted at Rugby, as a Private, No.11104 in the 6th Bn. Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (‘Ox and Bucks’).

6th (Service) Battalion was formed at Oxford as part of the Second New Army (K2) in September 1914 and then moved to Aldershot to join the 60th Brigade of the 20th Division. In March 1915 they moved to Larkhill, on Salisbury Plain, and then mobilised for war on 22 July 1915 and landed at Boulogne.

Frederick’s Medal Card states that he went to France on 7 August 1915, which was just after the Battalion’s initial mobilisation, and after trench familiarisation and training, the Battalion was in various actions on the Western Front, although none of the major actions in later 1915.  However, in 1916 they were engaged in: the Battle of Mount Sorrel; the Battle of Delville Wood; the Battle of Guillemont; the Battle of Flers-Courcelette; the Battle of Morval and the Battle of Le Transloy.

At some date Frederick was promoted to Lance Corporal. He had already been wounded twice as a later report stated that ‘… Another son, Pte F E Boyes, Oxon & Bucks L.I., has been twice wounded; …’,[1] although it is not known in which actions these had occurred.

In 1917 the Battalion took part in the actions during the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line and the Battle of Langemarck, on the opening date of which, Frederick was killed.

The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The Battle of Langemarck, The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Cambrai Operations.”

It seems the Battalion was not involved on the first day of the 3rd Battle of Battle Ypres and the Battle of Pilckem Ridge (31 July – 2 August 1917), however, they were involved in the first day of the Battle of Langemarck, (16 – 18 August 1917).

RECORD OF THE 6th (SERVICE) BATTALION.

August 16th

Having placed the units attached to the Battalion and the Battalion itself in position, the C.O. and H.Q. established themselves in a block-house on the bank of the Steenbeek (since known as Jock’s House) and waited for zero hour (4.45 a.m.). ….

All was quiet, with the exception of the usual intermittent bombardment. The enemy had been dropping shells about 200 yards behind the K.S.L.I. off and on all night. He evidently had no idea that the whole front under his very nose was crowded with men. It was a wearing time to go through, as if the enemy chanced to discover how things were situated, he could have converted our entire front into a shambles. However, the luck that followed us right through the operations held on this occasion, and we lost only 5 men wounded during the night.

THE FIGHT FOR LANGEMARCK.

I doubt if there was a single man in the Battalion who did not heave a deep sigh of relief when zero at length came (4.45 a.m.). I know that I did. For about an hour before this our artillery had put up a fairly heavy barrage on all the enemy positions. At 4.45 a.m. it sounded as if someone had been careless about leaving the lid off hell. The scene beggared description. It was just light enough to see one’s way. The first thing that struck me was the immense variety of fireworks that the Hun was sending up. There was every known variety of Very Light, and some that I had not seen before. In fact, the only thing that he did not send up was a set-piece, with a portrait of the Kaiser, and God bless our Home in golden rain.

The 11th R.B.’s put up a smoke barrage, and rushed forward to try conclusions with Au Bon Gite.

Before describing our own movements, I will deal with the work of this company of the 11th R.B., for no account of the Langemarck fight can be complete without justice being done to the bitter struggle for Au Bon Gite. First and last, the passage of the Steenbeek cost the 59th Brigade almost half its number in casualties. This was chiefly due to this Au Bon Gite concrete block-house, xcellently planned for defense, and held grimly by the Germans until surrounded and cut off.

The block-house, which had loopholes for machine guns, was irregular in outline, but wonderfully well sited. Around it were five or six smaller posts, and from it to the stream a barbed-wire entanglement ran diagonally in such a way as to break up any attacking party which should attempt an enveloping movement. With the smaller block-houses in the vicinity, there was formed a kind of triangular position of immense strength, and absolutely impervious to artillery fire.

The capture of Au Bon Gite seemed well nigh impossible; the general advance went on regardless of it, and it was perhaps this fact that upset the calculations of the enemy and caused him to surrender about an hour after the attack had been launched. Captain Slade and his company of the 11th R.B., with the aid of a smoke barrage, succeeded in getting under the walls, and, after much discussion, the defenders agreed to surrender, when 32 Germans were made prisoners and two machine guns captured. Had they stuck to their post they could have absolutely hung up the attack of half our Battalion frontage.

Now for our own proceedings. What struck me most at the start was that everybody with one accord lit a cigarette, and promptly looked at peace with all the world. If the boys did feel bloodthirsty, they concealed the fact to admiration. So great was the revulsion of feeling after the trying night, that they went forward smoking, laughing, and talking as if they had just heard that peace had been declared. Our first wave moved forward with parade-ground precision, getting well up to the barrage, which started just the other side of Au Bon Gite; and the rear platoons came over the bridges with perfect steadiness, taking up their correct dressing, and moving on as they got their distance. I will say here that the whole manoeuvre of crossing the Steenbeek was perfectly carried out. The barrage was splendid all the way through, and the highest praise is due to the gunners.

The 60th M.G. Company put up a barrage which must have been a demoralizing affair to face. The 60th Trench Mortar Battery had not any call on their services during the day, but lost fairly heavily, and must have had a fearful time carrying their mortars through the mud.

Our advance was well and steadily carried out. The two left companies suffered heaviest all the way, due to the fact that Au Bon Gite and other positions were firing on them as they advanced; also they had to advance over very bad ground and mud of the worst description.

I myself, with the Scouts, went forward with the second wave, and having watched the operations against Au Bon Gite for two or three minutes, during which time one of its machine guns did a great deal of firing to the east, though without much effect, we moved on to the block-house on the road (B), which had just surrendered, and was disgorging about a company of Boches. I do not know how many were there, but I saw at least forty come out.

I then established a forward runners’ relay post at Block-house A, to which Colonel Boyle shortly afterwards moved his H.Q.   Colonel Wood, of the 6th K.S.L.I., moved forward with his men, and took up his H.Q. at Alouette Farm later on. It took six men to dig him out of the mud on one occasion, but he had the air of enjoying himself immensely.

The 1st Objective was reached with only a trifling loss of men in the right companies; but, as I have said, the left companies suffered more heavily, C Company having been very badly cut up, and A not much  better. Here we were, I think, slightly behind the barrage.

When the time came to go on to the Green Line (2nd Objective), D Company got there and consolidated up to time. C Company were slightly behind them, but the manoeuvre was at length satisfactorily carried out, and the work of the Battalion in the advance was completed.

It hardly comes within the scope of this account to follow the fortunes of the 7th K.S.L.I, and 12th K.R.R.C.; suffice it to say that they went on and carried their own objective forward in good style. More of them later.

Having seen the Green Line taken and consolidated, I went back to the H.Q. block-house, and made a personal report on the situation to Colonel Boyle. Afterwards I visited the whole of the Blue and Green, Lines to make a review of the situation and to collect reports. I collected the following information:

A Company. 2nd Lieut. Cockshut wounded about the time the Blue Line was captured; shot through the thigh – not severely.

2nd Lieut. Moase in command. He estimated his casualties at about 40 up to that time. Well dug in. Getting badly shelled on left.

B Company. 2nd Lieut. Mitchell still in command; has lost 2nd Lieut. Riley, wounded (not severely), and 17 other ranks killed and wounded. Has 5 Lewis guns (his own and those of the 12th R.B.) under 2nd Lieut. Little, who has lost his two subs, 2nd Lieuts Milner and Wastell.

C Company. Captain Middleditch wounded; 54 other ranks not accounted for, but not believed all killed or wounded.   2nd Lieut. Broke in command. Connected up with Somerset Light Infantry on left.

D Company. Captain Money thought that he had lost 40 other ranks (which turned out about right). Well dug in, and well connected on right with 7th Dorsets.

I returned via Alouette Farm, and found 7th K.S.L.I. H.Q. installed. Colonel Wood told me that a Hun counter-attack was threatening from Poelcappelle, and that whereas he got his objectives, the 12th K.R.R.C. had been obliged to fall back from theirs a matter of 200 yards. The Lancashire Fusiliers, on the right, had not gone forward farther than 200 yards beyond the Green Line. He asked for more men and, the Brigadier having assented, at 9 a.m. Colonel Boyle placed our C Company at his disposal, and sent it up to help out the K.R.R.C., who were having a terrific handling.

The Boche counter-attack crumpled up beneath our artillery and rifle fire. The 12th R.B. threw two companies in on the right flank of the K.S.L.I., and the 10th Welsh put a company into Au Bon Gite. By dark the situation had become less critical, and could be said to be in some measure safe. The enemy shelling kept up all the afternoon and night.

So ended the fight for Langemarck. To the military student the fight itself has no special interest. It was merely the conventional advance well carried out. But as an example of troops forming up under the noses of the enemy without shelter trenches or, indeed, any shelter, and with nothing to guide them, it will, I venture to say, stand for long in military history among the offensives of the war. It is an excellent example of what may be done with well disciplined and well officered troops.

The following messages were received, through the Brigade, from Divisional H.Q. :

‘Corps and Divisional Commanders send warmest congratulations to 60th Infantry Brigade and 61st

Infantry Brigade on capture of Langemarck.’

Following message received from XIVth Corps. Begins. ‘The Corps Commander most heartily thanks 20th Division and 29th Division and all the Artillery for the complete success gained today (16th). He particularly congratulates all the fighting troops on their determination to overcome all difficulties of mud and water as well as the opposition of the enemy, Ends. Addressed all concerned.’

Following message from XIVth Corps. Begins. Commander-in-Chief called on Corps Commander this morning (17th) and ordered him to convey his congratulations to all troops engaged in our operations yesterday. Ends.”

August l7th

The morning passed fairly quietly. We managed to get water and rations to the men.

The forward line being considered unsafe, the 12th R.B. detailed two companies to endeavour to correct it; the K.S.L.I, also cooperated, and the attempt was fairly successful.

At 6.30 p.m. the preparatory barrage opened, and A Company moved up to, and to the north of the Alouette Farm road, behind the Green Line. C Company, it will be remembered, had already gone up to the assistance of Captain Lycett and his BLR.R.C.

At 7 p.m. the R.B. made their attack on the Red Line, losing heavily, though being fairly successful.

During the remainder of the night there was intermittent artillery fire over the whole area.

August 18th

A quiet morning. No change in the situation. Heard with no great grief that we were to be relieved at night by the 14th Welsh in the Blue Line, and by the 10th Welsh in the Green Line.

The relief went well, and the Battalion came back to Malakoff Farm (B.23.a.30), the same camp as before, and nowise sorry to get there.

The total casualties in the Battalion during the operations of 16th-18th were :
Killed, or died of wounds, 38 other ranks;
Wounded, 3 officers and 148 other ranks;
Wounded and missing, 4 other ranks;
Missing, 8 other ranks.[2]

Frederick was one of those Killed in Action on that day. His body was either never found or not identified. He is remembered on one of the panels of the Tyne Cot Memorial. He is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

Frederick’s Medal Card and the Medal Roll entry showed that he was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1914-1915 Star.

The Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects, recorded a payment on 22 November 1917, to his widow, Georgina, of £3-1-5d and then a payment of a war gratuity of £4-0-0d on 10 November 1919.

Mr and Mrs Boyes, of Railway Terrace, Rugby, have received information that nothing further has been heard of their son, Pte F H Boyes, Royal Berkshire Regt, who was reported missing on July 1st, 1916, and it must be presumed he has been killed. Pte Boyes was a drummer in the 1st Rugby Boys’ Brigade before enlisting in March, 1915, when only 16 years of age. He was in France before attaining his 17th birthday. Another son, Pte F E Boyes, Oxon & Bucks L.I., has been twice wounded ; whilst a third son, Pte W J Boyes, 7th Warwicks, has also served.[3]

Lance-Corpl Boyes had two brothers who were also serving: his brother Frank Harold BOYES was in the 2nd Bn. Royal Berkshire Regiment and was reported missing, presumed killed in action, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916  The other son Pte W J Boyes, was in the 7th Warwicks, and wrote a letter to the Rugby Advertiser which was published on 23 October 1915 (see also Rugby Remembers).

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Frederick Ernest BOYES was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, June 2017.

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, 16 June 1917.

[2]         http://www.lightbobs.com/6-service-bn-oxf–bucks-li-1917-1918.html, transcribed from The National Archives, Document Reference: WO 95/2120/2, War Diary of the 6th Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, Date: July 1915 – Jan 1918.

[3]       Rugby Advertiser, 16 June 1917.

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Hipwell, George William Ward. Died 3rd May 1917

George William Ward Hipwell was born in Old Basford, Nottingham on 9 April 1885, and was christened in New Bilton, Warwickshire on 9 December 1885.   His parents were George Henry Ward Hipwell, born in Ullesthorpe in 1859 and Annie Elizabeth, born in about 1862 in Long Lawford. In 1911 George Henry was a cabman living at 27 King Edward Road, Rugby, they had ten children and nine were still living, and living with them, in 1911.

George William was the eldest of those ten children and in 1911 he was an Electrical Engineering Fitter at BTH works in Rugby.

George William enlisted in Rugby, as a Private, No.11894, in the 5th Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He probably joined up at the same time as many other men – many from Hillmorton – who also joined the 5th Battalion. He went to France with his Battalion on 22 July 1915.

He must have had leave as his marriage with Bertha Frances A. Ingram was registered in Rugby in the first quarter of 1916 [Rugby Q1, 1916, 6d, 1383].

George was killed in action on 3 May 1917.   The action on that day was recorded the following day, by Lieut.-Colonel, H. L. Wood, who was commanding the 5th Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

RECORD OF THE 5th (SERVICE) BATTALION.1st July 1916 to 30th June 1917.

The movements of the 42nd Brigade to positions of assembly on “Y” day and “Y”/”Z” night had been previously notified, thus:

The 5th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry from N.14.b via Brigade H.Q.(N.15.d.4.4), N.22 central, N.23.d.8.4, along the bank and via the railway. The Battalion will move by platoons in file at 3 minutes’ interval. The leading platoon to arrive at Brigade H.Q. at 8 p.m. Water will be issued to men requiring it, under Brigade arrangements at Brigade H.Q. The Battalion will be clear of Cross Roads N.22.a by 9.15p.m., and will proceed in file to their Assembly Trenches. All trenches have been labelled. All units (less 9th K.R.R.C.) will report by runner to Advance Brigade H.Q. in the Stag as soon as they are in their positions of assembly. As soon as Battalions are in their Assembly Trenches an issue of hot tea and rum will be made under Brigade arrangements. The Assembly Trenches were named “zoologically,” and the Battalion assembled for the assault in portions of the Ape, the Boar, the Buck, the Lion, and the Bison. ‘Z’ day was 3rd May and zero hour 3.45a.m. The following is Lieut.-Colonel H.L. Wood’s Official Report of action of the Battalion:

 —

At zero the Battalion was formed up as follows: A and C Companies in the front line, A on the right, C on the left; B and D Companies in the second line, B on the right, D on the left; each company in two lines of two platoons. The front line was on the taped line, the second line in Ape Trench. The German artillery and machine-guns opened fire within 3 minutes of our barrage commencing; most of the artillery fire was between Ape and Bison. Until the advance commenced at zero plus 18 there were only a few casualties from artillery fire in Ape, and none in the companies in front. On the other hand, the machine-gun fire was very heavy and accurate, and came from the left flank (either from St. Rohart Factory or from the Quarry in 0.15.c) and front (from the Quarry at 0.21.b.8.0 or from Triangle Wood).

At zero plus 18 the advance commenced and reached a line about 50 yards west of New Trench, beyond which it was found impossible to advance farther on the left. On the right of the line 2nd Lieut. Peel (A Company) found it possible to avoid the machine-gun fire by crawling, and he got a few men forward and occupied part of New Trench. As touch had been lost with the 8th K.R.R.C., 2nd Lieut. Peel brought up the reserve platoon of A Company on his right flank, and gained touch with them. This was about 4.30 a.m. About this time the remainder of A Company and part of D Company managed to get into New Trench on the left of A Company. The Germans who had been holding New Trench retired to a line about 40 yards in rear, from which they heavily bombed and opened fire with two machine-guns on New Trench. These were, however, soon silenced by rifle and Lewis-gun fire. It was, however, found impossible to advance owing to the very accurate and unceasing machine-gun fire from the left, and also to a certain extent from the front. The artillery fire also became fairly heavy about this time. The situation now was as follows: about 50 men of all companies in New Trench, and parties of B and D Companies (about two platoons in all) in a line of shell-holes about 40 yards behind. This party tried to consolidate, but found it impossible to work owing to the incessant machine-gun fire, snipers, and heavy Vane-bomb fire, which came from the left flank, probably from Hillside Work. The situation remained unchanged until about 10.45a.m., New Trench being shelled continuously, while a very heavy barrage was maintained on the Assembly Trenches. At about 10.45a.m. the troops on our right were observed retiring, and a strong enemy counter-attack in 6 or 7 waves (each estimated by those in the front line at about 150 to 200 men) was launched against New Trench. Fire was immediately opened on them with all available rifles, Lewis-guns, and two Vickers which had come up, and many casualties were inflicted, but without stopping the counter-attack. When the enemy had got within 50 yards of New Trench, and our ammunition was practically all expended, the remnants withdrew to the Assembly Trenches, bringing back as many Lewis-guns as possible. The two Vickers had to be abandoned.

… The casualties were: A Company (Right leading) 75, out of 129 who attacked. C Company (Left leading) 84, out of 118. B Company (Right Support) 57, out of 123. D Company (Left Support) 62, out of 123. H.Q. 13, out of 30, including bombers who went over behind the leading company.[1]

Of the 12 officers and 523 N.C.O.s and Men who went into action on 3 May 1917, 8 officers and 291 N.C.O.s and Men became casualties.

George William Hipwell’s body was not found and he is remembered on the Arras Memorial at Faubourg-D´Amiens Cemetery, Arras.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article  was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, May 2015.

[1]         http://www.lightbobs.com/5-oxf–bucks-li-1916-1917.html

Welch, Ernest Edward. Died 28th Apr 1917

Ernest Edward Welch’s birth was registered in the second quarter of 1880 in Rugby to Edward Welch (b.1852 in London) and Harriett Welch (née Lack b.1855 in Rugby). Ernest Edward’s parents had married in Rugby in 1878. Ernest’s father, Edward, was a traffic guard with the LNWR railway in 1891 when the family were living at 48 Union Street, Rugby. They were at the same address in 1901 and his father was still with the LNWR.  There were now five children Edith, Ernest, Florence, Ethel and Alice.

By 1901, Ernest Edward Welch was a bricklayer and his marriage with Bertha Elizabeth Lenton was registered in Rugby the next year, in the third quarter of 1902. In 1903 Ernest and Bertha had a daughter, Effie. Before 1911 they had moved to 54 Union Street, and later – and after the war – his widow and daughter were at 35 Union Street.

Ernest joined up as No.26321 in the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry [Ox. & Bucks.]. His record in the ‘Soldiers Died in the Great War’ states that he enlisted at Rugby, and the ‘Medal Roll’ indicates that he was at first in the 6th Battalion,

6th (Service) Battalion was formed at Oxford in September 1914 as part of K2 and placed under orders of 60th Brigade in 20th (Light) Division. The Battalion landed at Boulogne on 22 July 1915.

Whether Ernest was with them at that date is unknown but he may have still been in training. His Medal Card does not record the date he went to France, and there are no surviving Service Records, however, the absence of an award of a 1914 or 1914-1915 Star suggests it was some time in 1916 or later. At some date he was later transferred to the 2nd Battalion and possibly this was when he was promoted to Lance Corporal.

The 2nd Battalion had returned home from India in 1903 and was initially based in Chatham and in 1907 moved to Tidworth, Wiltshire. When World War I started the Battalion was stationed at Albuhera barracks, Aldershot, and was part of the 5th Brigade of the 2nd Division.   On 14 August 1914 the Battalion mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and was engaged in various actions on the Western Front including in 1914: the Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat; the Battle of the Marne; the Battle of the Aisne; and the First Battle of Ypres. Then in 1915: the Winter Operations 1914-15; the Battle of Festubert; and the Battle of Loos.

It seems likely that Ernest would have been involved in some of the actions in 1916: the Battle of Delville Wood; the Battle of the Ancre; and other operations on the Ancre. A fuller summary of the campaigns can be found on Wikipedia,[1] which also summarises the actions in early 1917 …

‘The New Year of 1917 brought with it a period of severe weather conditions on the Somme plain which led to an unofficial truce between the two sides. In March 1917, the Germans began the withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line (14 March – 5 April) and at the end of March the 2nd Ox and Bucks moved from the Somme to the back areas of Arras. The 2nd Ox and Bucks and other battalions of the regiment saw much involvement in the Arras Offensive (9 April – 16 May), including at the Battles of Scarpe and Arleux. The 2nd Ox and Bucks took part in the battle of Arras from 11 April and had a leading role in the battle of Arleux on 28-29 April: during the battle the battalion protected the right flank of the Canadian 1st Division which was critical to the capture of the village of Arleux and sustained more than 200 casualties.’

It seems likely that Ernest was one of those 200 casualties on 28 April 1917, during the attack on the Arleux-Oppy Line. Further details are provided in the Commanding Officer (Lieut.-Colonel Crosse’s) Diary.[2]

April 28th.- 4.25 a.m. was fixed for “zero hour,” when the Regiment attacked in four Waves, … The whole attack was more successful on the left than on the right, the Canadian Corps taking and holding, apparently without difficulty, all their objectives. …

The feature of the operations … was the initiative, resource, and good leading of the Company and Platoon Commanders, …   All their subordinate commanders seemed to realize the necessity for at once collecting together adjacent men – no matter to whom they belonged – and retelling-off and reorganizing them for immediate further action.

The casualties included … about 200 other ranks, of whom 130 were wounded, and the remainder either killed or missing.

The Regiment, in touch on either flank with the adjacent troops, continued to hold its front, approximately on the line of the “Blue Line” (2nd Objective), where extremely good work was done by the Lewis-gunners.

The trenches were very much shelled and badly provided with dugouts; a number of men were buried, and a certain number of casualties occurred, the exact figures it has not yet been possible to arrive at as regards separating them from those which occurred in the actual attack.

At some point during this action, on 28 April 1917, Ernest Welch was killed, either in the action or the subsequent shelling described above. Ernest’s body was not recovered or identified and he is now remembered on Panel: G. 11. of the Arras Memorial, located in the Faubourg-d’Amiens Cemetery, to the west of Arras, near the Citadel.

The Arras Memorial commemorates almost 35,000 servicemen from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between the spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918, the eve of the Advance to Victory, and have no known grave. The memorial was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Ernest was awarded the Victory and British medals, and after his death, Ernest’s effects and money owing were paid to his widow, Bertha. She received £2-18-3d on 8 September 1917 and then a gratuity of £3 on 1 November 1919.

As well as the Arras Memorial, Ernest is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and on a family headstone in the Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Ernest Edward Welch was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by Anne Rogers and John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, December 2016.

 

[1]       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxfordshire_and_Buckinghamshire_Light_Infantry

[2]       Diary, 2nd Bn. Ox. and Bucks. L. I., http://www.lightbobs.com/1917-arras-april-june.html.

Scotton, Frank. Died 9th Apr 1917

Frank [originally Francis] Scotton, was born in Rugby in about 1891, the eldest son of Theophilus and Matilda Scotton. He had five brothers and sisters. He attended Murray Road School.[1]

In 1911 Frank was 20, unemployed and was still living with his family at 8 Argyle Street, Rugby.   However, the records show that later, until just before the war, Frank was working at British Thompson Houston in Rugby.

At the outbeak of war, he enlisted in Rugby as a Private No.11892, in the 5th Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry [Ox and Bucks].

The 5th (Service) Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry was formed at Oxford in August 1914 as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Cranleigh, Guildford and then moved to Salamanca Barracks, Aldershot in February 1915 to be placed under orders of 42nd Brigade in 14th (Light) Division. They mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne on 21 May 1915.

Frank’s Medal Card shows he went to France a few days later on 26 May 1915 and he would have been engaged in various actions on the Western Front including in 1915: the Action of Hooge, and probably experienced part of the first flamethrower attack by the Germans; the Second Attack on Bellewaarde and in 1916: the Battle of Delville Wood, and the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.

At some stage Frank had been wounded,[2] but was returned to action.

Then in 1917 with the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, the so called Battle of Arras and particularly, the First Battle of the Scarpe (9–14 April 1917) which was conducted in parallel with the attack by the mainly Canadian Divisions on Vimy Ridge, slightly to the north. Both these being in part diversions for a major French attack to the south, which in the event was unsuccessful.

The 14th Light) Division were part of the VII Corps (under Snow) within the Third Army (under Allenby). The Battalion diary[3] summarised the events in Early 1917 …

The Battalion had its full share in the fighting of the first half of this year, suffering the inevitable heavy casualties, but adding still further to its splendid reputation. It took part in the great British offensive which opened on the 9th April, on a ten-mile front, from the south of Arras to the south of Lens; and it was engaged again in the next great offensive on the 3rd May in the same area, losing no fewer than 185 of all ranks in the former and 300 in the latter.

March 1st-15thThe Battalion had one tour of the trenches, losing 1 man killed and 5 men wounded. On the 15th marched to Sombrin, and went into training for the coming offensive.

March 11th – 31stThis period was devoted to strenuous training, including a rehearsal of an attack on the Harp, the German trench system east of Arras at the junction of the front-line system and the Cojeul Switch.

April 4th – The Battalion moved to Dunedin Caves (Made by quarrying chalk for the building of Arras. For our purposes they were now connected by tunnels and lighted by electricity.) One of the six large caves accommodating some 5,000 men. Three officers’ patrols were sent out at night …

April 5th -7th

At Christchurch Cave supplying working parties.

Attack on the Harp. – The operations now in course of preparation were to take the form of a combined attack to the south of Lens. Elaborate Secret Orders were issued between the 3rd and 7th April, and from the 3rd to the 5th a heavy bombardment was carried out. At 7 a.m. on the 7th the following Operation Orders were issued by the 42nd Infantry Brigade:

  1. The units of the 42nd Infantry Brigade will be distributed as follows at zero on “Z” day:
    5th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry:
    In Sardine Trench (300 yards). In Roach Trench (260 yards). In Trout Trench (250 yards).
    In Salmon Trench (150 yards) from its right flank (western end) to M.6.C.61.51, where old German cable trench cuts it at right angles. Total: 960 yards.
  1. Units will reach their assembly positions as follows … 5th Oxford and Bucks L.I – from Christchurch Cave by Exit No. 14.F. (G.34.d.02.60). Leading troops to start from Cave at 9p.m., and be clear of the Cave by 10p.m. Route to Assembly Trenches – Rue de Temple – Hatter’s Lane and Halifax to Old German Front Line – Halifax and Arras Way to Assembly Trenches; 200 yards distance to be maintained between platoons. Battalion to be in Assembly Trenches by a.m. on 9th inst.

As detailed by O.C. Battalion, 200 yards distance to be maintained between platoons. Battalion to be in Assembly Trenches by 2 a.m. on 9th inst.

REPORT OF ATTACK ON THE HARP ON 9th APRIL 1917.

The Battalion left the caves at 9 p.m., and was in position in the Assembly Trenches by 12 midnight. No casualties occurred on the way up. There was practically no shelling of the Assembly Trenches till 5.30 a.m. Between 5.30 and 7.30 a.m. the Assembly Trenches were slightly shelled with whizz-bangs and an occasional 4.2-in. chiefly from direction of Tilloy.   During this time one officer and one man were hit. At 7.34 a.m. the advance began. There was a good deal of crowding on the right owing to the Battalion on our right losing direction. This was rectified as much as possible by the company officers on the spot. During the initial stages of the advance there was practically no enemy artillery fire, but there was a certain amount of machine-gun fire from Tilloy; this, however, was mostly high and caused very few casualties. As soon as the leading line came in view of the Harp three machine-guns opened fire from behind Telegraph Work and the string of the Harp. Lewis-guns and rifle-grenades were immediately turned on to them, and their fire slackened sufficiently to enable the infantry to go forward. On reaching the front line about 50 of the enemy gave themselves up without fighting, and were passed back to the rear. There was a certain amount of resistance from the back of Telegraph Work and the string of the Harp, but the Germans gave themselves up as soon as our men reached them. About 50 Germans were captured here. As soon as both objectives had been reached consolidation was at once commenced as follows :

C Company and a part of D Company from N.7.a.6.6 to N.7.a.5.3.
A Company thence along back line of Telegraph Work to N.7.a.4.1.
Remainder of D Company from N.7.a.2.8 to about N.7.a.2.6.
B Company thence to N.7.a.2.0.

During the consolidation a machine-gun opened fire from about N.7.a.6.9, which caused a certain number of casualties. This gun was knocked out by a rifle-grenade, and was captured in conjunction with a bombing-party of the 9th K.R.R.C. About 20 minutes after reaching the objective the captured position was heavily shelled with 77-mm. and 4.2-in. for about half an hour, and a strong barrage of 5.9 in. put along the bank in M.12.b.l.9 for about one and a half hours. There were no troops advancing over this ground at that time. It only caused a certain amount of inconvenience to communications and very few casualties. About 10 a.m. all hostile artillery fire ceased, and consolidation was completed without further molestation. About this time another machine-gun and its crew were found in a dug-out. They gave themselves up without any trouble. It is impossible to state accurately the number of prisoners taken by us, but it is estimated there were about 100. Three machine-guns were also captured.

Our casualties were roughly 5 officers killed, 7 wounded, and about 180 other ranks. The battlefield was cleared of all casualties by 5 p.m., with the assistance of the prisoners.
H. L. Wood, Lieut.-Colonel, Comdg. 5th Bn. Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry

April 10th

The following was issued today: “complimentary order.”

“The Commander-in-Chief has personally requested me to convey to all ranks of the 14th (Light) Division his high opinion of the excellent fighting qualities shown by the Division. The commencement of the great offensive of 1917 has been marked by an initial success in which more than 11,000 prisoners and 100 guns have been taken on the first day alone. The Division has taken a prominent part in achieving this success and maintained the reputation gained last year on the Somme, and added to the laurels of the gallant regiments of which it is composed.

  1. Couper, Major-General, Comdg. 14th (Light) Division.  10th April 1917.

Frank Scotton was originally buried in ‘Telegraph Hill British Cemetery, Neuville-Vitasse, on the South-Western slopes of the hill between Tilloy and Neuville-Vitasse, captured by the 14th Division on the 9 April 1917. The cemetery contained the graves of 147 soldiers from the United Kingdom, almost all of whom belonged to the 14th Division and fell in April 1917.’[4]

The bodies in that cemetery were later moved as part of the ‘concentration’ of smaller cemeteries and the Report notes that a new road was being built through the cemetery. Frank Scotton and many of his colleagues were exhumed and reburied in various sections of the Tilloy British Cemetery. Frank Scotton was buried in Plot: I. BB. 17.

Tilloy-les-Mofflaines is a village 3 kilometres south-east of Arras, on the south side of the main road to Cambrai. The village of Tilloy-Les-Mofflaines was taken by Commonwealth troops on 9 April 1917, but it was partly in German hands again from March to August 1918.

The cemetery was begun in April 1917 by fighting units and burial officers, and Rows A to H in Plot I largely represent burials from the battlefield. The remaining graves in Plot I, and others in the first three rows of Plot II, represent later fighting in 1917 and the first three months of 1918, and the clearing of the village in August 1918. These 390 original burials were increased after the Armistice when graves were brought in from a wide area east of Arras and many smaller burial grounds including the Telegraph Hill British Cemetery, Neuville-Vitasse. The cemetery now contains 1,642 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 611 of the burials are unidentified, but there are special memorials to 14 casualties known or believed to be buried among them.   The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Frank was awarded the Victory and British medals and the 1915 Star. He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate.

One of Frank’s younger brothers, Ernest, had been killed earlier in the war on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916. He was a rifleman in the 2nd Bn. Rifle Brigade and is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, and is also on the Rugby Memorial Gate [see also Rugby remembers for 1 July 1916[5]].

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Frank Scotton 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, December 2016.

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, 5 May 1917.

[2]       Rugby Advertiser, 5 May 1917.

[3]       Record of the 5th (Service) Battalion, Oxford and Bucks L.I., 1st July 1916 to 30th June 1917, Compiled by Steve Berridge, http://www.lightbobs.com.

[4]         http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/566279/SCOTTON,%20F

[5]         https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2016/07/01/scotton-ernest-died-1st-jul-1916/

Jones, Hubert Joseph. Died 9th Apr 1917

Hubert Joseph Jones was born in Rugby in 1888, and his birth was registered in Q3, 1888 in Rugby. He was the son of Albert (b.c.1849) and Elizabeth Jones (b.c.1854). Albert was an ‘Engineman Ry Driver’ and did not know where he was born! Elizabeth was born in Marton. In 1901 the family lived at 190 Oxford Street, Rugby with three children: Hubert Jones was then 12; Maud Jones was 16; and Beatrice [Elizabeth] Jones was 9.

The family hasn’t been found in the 1911 census. However, the records show that later, until just before the war, Hubert was working in the British Thompson Houston Machine Shop in Rugby.[1]

He enlisted ‘at the commencement of the war’[2] in Rugby[3] as a Private No.13581, in the 7th Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry [Ox and Bucks or Oxf & B.L.I.] early in the war. He was then promoted to Corporal in the 3rd Reserve Bn. and was later moved to the 6th Bn. Oxf & B.L.I. and was finally in the 5th Battalion.

The 5th (Service) Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry was formed at Oxford in August 1914 as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Cranleigh, Guildford and then moved to Salamanca Barracks, Aldershot in February 1915 to be placed under orders of 42nd Brigade in 14th (Light) Division. They mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne on 21 May 1915.

Huberts’s Medal Card shows he went to France some months later on 21 September 1915 and he would have missed the actions on the Western Front in 1915. However he would have been involved in the Battle of Delville Wood, and the Battle of Flers-Courcelette in 1916. Then in 1917 with the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, the so called Battle of Arras and particularly, the First Battle of the Scarpe (9–14 April 1917) which was conducted in parallel with the attack by the mainly Canadian Divisions on Vimy ridge, slightly to the north. Both these being in part diversions for a major French attack to the south, which in the event was unsuccessful.

The 14th Light) Division were part of the VII Corps (under Snow) within the Third Army (under Allenby). The Battalion diary[4] summarised the events in Early 1917 …

The Battalion had its full share in the fighting of the first half of this year, suffering the inevitable heavy casualties, but adding still further to its splendid reputation. It took part in the great British offensive which opened on the 9th April, on a ten-mile front, from the south of Arras to the south of Lens; and it was engaged again in the next great offensive on the 3rd May in the same area, losing no fewer than 185 of all ranks in the former and 300 in the latter.

March 1st-15thThe Battalion had one tour of the trenches, losing 1 man killed and 5 men wounded. On the 15th marched to Sombrin, and went into training for the coming offensive.

March 11th – 31stThis period was devoted to strenuous training, including a rehearsal of an attack on the Harp, the German trench system east of Arras at the junction of the front-line system and the Cojeul Switch.

April 4th – The Battalion moved to Dunedin Caves (Made by quarrying chalk for the building of Arras. For our purposes they were now connected by tunnels and lighted by electricity.) One of the six large caves accommodating some 5,000 men. Three officers’ patrols were sent out at night …

April 5th -7th

At Christchurch Cave supplying working parties.

Attack on the Harp. – The operations now in course of preparation were to take the form of a combined attack to the south of Lens. Elaborate Secret Orders were issued between the 3rd and 7th April, and from the 3rd to the 5th a heavy bombardment was carried out. At 7 a.m. on the 7th the following Operation Orders were issued by the 42nd Infantry Brigade:

  1. The units of the 42nd Infantry Brigade will be distributed as follows at zero on “Z” day:

5th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry:
In Sardine Trench (300 yards). In Roach Trench (260 yards). In Trout Trench (250 yards).
In Salmon Trench (150 yards) from its right flank (western end) to M.6.C.61.51, where old
German cable trench cuts it at right angles. Total: 960 yards.

  1. Units will reach their assembly positions as follows … 5th Oxford and Bucks L.I – from Christchurch Cave by Exit No. 14.F. (G.34.d.02.60).

Leading troops to start from Cave at 9p.m., and be clear of the Cave by 10p.m.
Route to Assembly Trenches – Rue de Temple – Hatter’s Lane and Halifax to Old German
Front Line – Halifax and Arras Way to Assembly Trenches; 200 yards distance to be
maintained between platoons. Battalion to be in Assembly Trenches by a.m. on 9th inst.

As detailed by O.C. Battalion, 200 yards distance to be maintained between platoons. Battalion to be in Assembly Trenches by 2 a.m. on 9th inst.

REPORT OF ATTACK ON THE HARP ON 9th APRIL 1917.

The Battalion left the caves at 9 p.m., and was in position in the Assembly Trenches by 12 midnight. No casualties occurred on the way up. There was practically no shelling of the Assembly Trenches till 5.30 a.m. Between 5.30 and 7.30 a.m. the Assembly Trenches were slightly shelled with whizz-bangs and an occasional 4.2-in. chiefly from direction of Tilloy. During this time one officer and one man were hit. At 7.34 a.m. the advance began. There was a good deal of crowding on the right owing to the Battalion on our right losing direction. This was rectified as much as possible by the company officers on the spot. During the initial stages of the advance there was practically no enemy artillery fire, but there was a certain amount of machine-gun fire from Tilloy; this, however, was mostly high and caused very few casualties. As soon as the leading line came in view of the Harp three machine-guns opened fire from behind Telegraph Work and the string of the Harp. Lewis-guns and rifle-grenades were immediately turned on to them, and their fire slackened sufficiently to enable the infantry to go forward. On reaching the front line about 50 of the enemy gave themselves up without fighting, and were passed back to the rear. There was a certain amount of resistance from the back of Telegraph Work and the string of the Harp, but the Germans gave themselves up as soon as our men reached them. About 50 Germans were captured here. As soon as both objectives had been reached consolidation was at once commenced as follows:

C Company and a part of D Company from N.7.a.6.6 to N.7.a.5.3.
A Company thence along back line of Telegraph Work to N.7.a.4.1.
Remainder of D Company from N.7.a.2.8 to about N.7.a.2.6.
B Company thence to N.7.a.2.0.

During the consolidation a machine-gun opened fire from about N.7.a.6.9, which caused a certain number of casualties. This gun was knocked out by a rifle-grenade, and was captured in conjunction with a bombing-party of the 9th K.R.R.C. About 20 minutes after reaching the objective the captured position was heavily shelled with 77-mm. and 4.2-in. for about half an hour, and a strong barrage of 5.9 in. put along the bank in M.12.b.l.9 for about one and a half hours. There were no troops advancing over this ground at that time. It only caused a certain amount of inconvenience to communications and very few casualties. About 10 a.m. all hostile artillery fire ceased, and consolidation was completed without further molestation. About this time another machine-gun and its crew were found in a dug-out. They gave themselves up without any trouble. It is impossible to state accurately the number of prisoners taken by us, but it is estimated there were about 100. Three machine-guns were also captured. Our casualties were roughly 5 officers killed, 7 wounded, and about 180 other ranks. The battlefield was cleared of all casualties by 5 p.m., with the assistance of the prisoners.
H. L. Wood, Lieut.-Colonel, Comdg. 5th Bn. Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry

April 10th

The following was issued today: “complimentary order.”

“The Commander-in-Chief has personally requested me to convey to all ranks of the 14th (Light) Division his high opinion of the excellent fighting qualities shown by the Division. The commencement of the great offensive of 1917 has been marked by an initial success in which more than 11,000 prisoners and 100 guns have been taken on the first day alone. The Division has taken a prominent part in achieving this success and maintained the reputation gained last year on the Somme, and added to the laurels of the gallant regiments of which it is composed.

  1. Couper, Major-General, Comdg. 14th (Light) Division.  10th April 1917.

Hubert Jones on was originally buried in the ‘Telegraph Hill British Cemetery, Neuville-Vitasse, on the South-Western slopes of the hill between Tilloy and Neuville-Vitasse, captured by the 14th Division on the 9 April 1917. The cemetery contained the graves of 147 soldiers from the United Kingdom, almost all of whom belonged to the 14th Division and fell in April 1917.’[5]

The bodies in that cemetery were later moved as part of the ‘concentration’ of smaller cemeteries and one Report noted that a new road was being built through part of the cemetery. Hubert Jones and many of his colleagues were exhumed and reburied in various sections of the Tilloy British Cemetery, with Hubert being reburied in Plot III. J. 16.

Tilloy-les-Mofflaines is a village 3 kilometres south-east of Arras, on the south side of the main road to Cambrai. The village of Tilloy-Les-Mofflaines was taken by Commonwealth troops on 9 April 1917, but it was partly in German hands again from March to August 1918.

The cemetery was begun in April 1917 by fighting units and burial officers, and Rows A to H in Plot I largely represent burials from the battlefield. The remaining graves in Plot I, and others in the first three rows of Plot II, represent later fighting in 1917 and the first three months of 1918, and the clearing of the village in August 1918. These 390 original burials were increased after the Armistice when graves were brought in from a wide area east of Arras and many smaller burial grounds including the Telegraph Hill British Cemetery, Neuville-Vitasse. The cemetery now contains 1,642 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 611 of the burials are unidentified, but there are special memorials to 14 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

His ‘widow and sole executer’ Ellen, received £1-19-7d owing to him on 15 June 1917 and she received a further £6-0-0 gratuity on 29 October 1919.[6]

Hubert J Jones was awarded the Victory and British medals and the 1915 Star.   He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and on the BTH War Memorial[7] and the listing of ‘BTH Employees Who Served in the War 1914 – 1918’.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Hubert Joseph Jones 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, December 2016.

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, 5 May 1917.

[2]       Rugby Advertiser, 5 May 1917.

[3]       Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919.

[4]       Record of the 5th (Service) Battalion, Oxford and Bucks L.I., 1st July 1916 to 30th June 1917, Compiled by Steve Berridge, http://www.lightbobs.com.

[5]         http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/566279/SCOTTON,%20F

[6]       Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, available on Ancestry.co.uk.

[7]       From the list of names on the BTH War Memorial when it was unveiled, taken from the list published in the Rugby Advertiser, 4 November 1921. See: Rugby Family History Group website, http://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/bth-war-memorial .

 

Ashworth, Albert. Died 9th Apr 1917

Albert Ashworth’s birth was registered in the second quarter of 1895 in Rugby [although one record stated Warwick], and baptised on 26 May 1895 at St Matthew’s church, Rugby. He was the son of William Ashworth, a groom from Delgany, County Wicklow, Ireland and his wife, Lila Ashworth, and they were then living at 12 Little Pennington Street, Rugby.

In 1911, the family were still living at 12 Little Pennington Street, Rugby. Albert was single aged 16 and already working as a ‘Clerk Steel & Co Rugby’ also at home were his elder sister Georgina Jubilee Ashworth, 23, elder brother, William A Ashworth, 19, and younger sister, Grace M Ashworth, 14, all of whom worked at BTH. His eldest sister, Eliza, was already married and living in Birmingham. It seems that in his spare time Albert played full back for the Rugby 2nd XV.

From his number, he probably enlisted early in the war in Rugby[1] as a Private No.10445, in the 5th Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry [Ox and Bucks or Oxf. & B.L.I.]

The 5th (Service) Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry was formed at Oxford in August 1914 as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Cranleigh, Guildford and then moved to Salamanca Barracks, Aldershot in February 1915 to be placed under orders of 42nd Brigade in 14th (Light) Division. They mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne on 21 May 1915. Albert’s Medal Card confirms that he also went to France with the Battalion on 20 May 1915.

At some stage before mid-August 1915 he had been promoted to Lance Corporal and would have probably been involved in various actions on the Western Front in 1915 including the Action at Hooge, and probably experienced the first flamethrower attack by the Germans in July 1915. It may have been then or soon after that he was wounded, apparently by a bursting trench mortar.

The Rugby Advertiser noted:

RUGBY FOOTBALLER WOUNDED.
Lance-Corpl Albert Ashworth, of the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, has been wounded in the knee and sent to an English hospital. His mother, who lives at 355 Clifton Road, Rugby, received a card, posted at Dover on Wednesday, in which he stated he had fine time crossing the Channel, and hoped soon to be all right. According to information supplied by a comrade, the injury was caused by the bursting of a “Trench mortar,” part of the exploded shell striking the knee, but the relatives have not received any direct information as to the nature of the wounds. Previous to enlisting Lance-Corpl Ashworth played full back for Rugby 2nd XV.[2]

With no full Service Record it is uncertain when he returned to France, and but he would probably have missed the Second Attack on Bellewaarde in September 1915, but may have taken part in the Battle of Delville Wood and the Battle of Flers-Courcelette in 1916.

At some date he was promoted to Sergeant, and in 1917 there was continuing routine in the trenches whilst the Germans were about to retreat to the Hindenburg Line, the Battle of Arras was about to commence and particularly, the First Battle of the Scarpe (9–14 April 1917) which was conducted in parallel with the attack by the mainly Canadian Divisions on Vimy ridge, slightly to the north. Both these being in part diversions for a major French attack to the south, which in the event was unsuccessful.

The 14th (Light) Division were part of the VII Corps (under Snow) within the Third Army (under Allenby). The Battalion diary[3] summarised the events in Early 1917 …

The Battalion had its full share in the fighting of the first half of this year, suffering the inevitable heavy casualties, but adding still further to its splendid reputation. It took part in the great British offensive which opened on the 9th April, on a ten-mile front, from the south of Arras to the south of Lens; and it was engaged again in the next great offensive on the 3rd May in the same area, losing no fewer than 185 of all ranks in the former and 300 in the latter.

March 1st-15thThe Battalion had one tour of the trenches, losing 1 man killed and 5 men wounded. On the 15th marched to Sombrin, and went into training for the coming offensive.

March 11th – 31stThis period was devoted to strenuous training, including a rehearsal of an attack on the Harp, the German trench system east of Arras at the junction of the front-line system and the Cojeul Switch.

April 4th – The Battalion moved to Dunedin Caves (Made by quarrying chalk for the building of Arras. For our purposes they were now connected by tunnels and lighted by electricity.)   One of the six large caves accommodating some 5,000 men. Three officers’ patrols were sent out at night …

April 5th -7th
At Christchurch Cave supplying working parties.

Attack on the Harp. – The operations now in course of preparation were to take the form of a combined attack to the south of Lens. Elaborate Secret Orders were issued between the 3rd and 7th April, and from the 3rd to the 5th a heavy bombardment was carried out. At 7 a.m. on the 7th the following Operation Orders were issued by the 42nd Infantry Brigade:

  1. The units of the 42nd Infantry Brigade will be distributed as follows at zero on “Z” day:
    5th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry:
    In Sardine Trench (300 yards). In Roach Trench (260 yards). In Trout Trench (250 yards).
    In Salmon Trench (150 yards) from its right flank (western end) to M.6.C.61.51, where old German cable trench cuts it at right angles. Total: 960 yards.
  1. Units will reach their assembly positions as follows … 5th Oxford and Bucks L.I – from Christchurch Cave by Exit No. 14.F. (G.34.d.02.60). Leading troops to start from Cave at 9p.m., and be clear of the Cave by 10p.m.   Route to Assembly Trenches – Rue de Temple – Hatter’s Lane and Halifax to Old German Front Line – Halifax and Arras Way to Assembly Trenches; 200 yards distance to be maintained between platoons. Battalion to be in Assembly Trenches by a.m. on 9th inst.

 

As detailed by O.C. Battalion, 200 yards distance to be maintained between platoons.   Battalion to be in Assembly Trenches by 2 a.m. on 9th inst.

REPORT OF ATTACK ON THE HARP ON 9th APRIL 1917.

The Battalion left the caves at 9 p.m., and was in position in the Assembly Trenches by 12 midnight. No casualties occurred on the way up. There was practically no shelling of the Assembly Trenches till 5.30 a.m. Between 5.30 and 7.30 a.m. the Assembly Trenches were slightly shelled with whizz-bangs and an occasional 4.2-in. chiefly from direction of Tilloy.   During this time one officer and one man were hit. At 7.34 a.m. the advance began. There was a good deal of crowding on the right owing to the Battalion on our right losing direction. This was rectified as much as possible by the company officers on the spot.   During the initial stages of the advance there was practically no enemy artillery fire, but there was a certain amount of machine-gun fire from Tilloy; this, however, was mostly high and caused very few casualties. As soon as the leading line came in view of the Harp three machine-guns opened fire from behind Telegraph Work and the string of the Harp. Lewis-guns and rifle-grenades were immediately turned on to them, and their fire slackened sufficiently to enable the infantry to go forward. On reaching the front line about 50 of the enemy gave themselves up without fighting, and were passed back to the rear. There was a certain amount of resistance from the back of Telegraph Work and the string of the Harp, but the Germans gave themselves up as soon as our men reached them. About 50 Germans were captured here.

As soon as both objectives had been reached consolidation was at once commenced as follows :

C Company and a part of D Company from N.7.a.6.6 to N.7.a.5.3.

A Company thence along back line of Telegraph Work to N.7.a.4.1.

Remainder of D Company from N.7.a.2.8 to about N.7.a.2.6.

B Company thence to N.7.a.2.0.

During the consolidation a machine-gun opened fire from about N.7.a.6.9, which caused a certain number of casualties. This gun was knocked out by a rifle-grenade, and was captured in conjunction with a bombing-party of the 9th K.R.R.C. About 20 minutes after reaching the objective the captured position was heavily shelled with 77-mm. and 4.2-in. for about half an hour, and a strong barrage of 5.9 in. put along the bank in M.12.b.l.9 for about one and a half hours.   There were no troops advancing over this ground at that time. It only caused a certain amount of inconvenience to communications and very few casualties. About 10 a.m. all hostile artillery fire ceased, and consolidation was completed without further molestation. About this time another machine-gun and its crew were found in a dug-out. They gave themselves up without any trouble. It is impossible to state accurately the number of prisoners taken by us, but it is estimated there were about 100.   Three machine-guns were also captured.   Our casualties were roughly 5 officers killed, 7 wounded, and about 180 other ranks. The battlefield was cleared of all casualties by 5 p.m., with the assistance of the prisoners.
H L. Wood, Lieut.-Colonel, Comdg. 5th Bn. Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry

April 10th

The following was issued today: “complimentary order.”

“The Commander-in-Chief has personally requested me to convey to all ranks of the 14th (Light) Division his high opinion of the excellent fighting qualities shown by the Division. The commencement of the great offensive of 1917 has been marked by an initial success in which more than 11,000 prisoners and 100 guns have been taken on the first day alone. The Division has taken a prominent part in achieving this success and maintained the reputation gained last year on the Somme, and added to the laurels of the gallant regiments of which it is composed.

  1. Couper, Major-General, Comdg. 14th (Light) Division.   10th April 1917.

Albert Ashworth was killed in the actions on 9 April 1917 and his body was recovered and was originally buried in the ‘Telegraph Hill British Cemetery, Neuville-Vitasse, on the South-Western slopes of the hill between Tilloy and Neuville-Vitasse, captured by the 14th Division on the 9 April 1917. The cemetery contained the graves of 147 soldiers from the United Kingdom, almost all of whom belonged to the 14th Division and fell in April 1917.’[4]

The bodies in that cemetery were later moved as part of the ‘concentration’ of smaller cemeteries and one Report noted that a new road was being built through part of the cemetery. Albert Ashworth and many of his colleagues were exhumed and reburied in various sections of the Tilloy British Cemetery, with Albert being reburied in Plot IV. D. 23.

Tilloy-les-Mofflaines is a village 3 kilometres south-east of Arras, on the south side of the main road to Cambrai. The village of Tilloy-Les-Mofflaines was taken by Commonwealth troops on 9 April 1917, but it was partly in German hands again from March to August 1918.

The cemetery was begun in April 1917 by fighting units and burial officers, and Rows A to H in Plot I largely represent burials from the battlefield. The remaining graves in Plot I, and others in the first three rows of Plot II, represent later fighting in 1917 and the first three months of 1918, and the clearing of the village in August 1918. These 390 original burials were increased after the Armistice when graves were brought in from a wide area east of Arras and many smaller burial grounds including the Telegraph Hill British Cemetery, Neuville-Vitasse. The cemetery now contains 1,642 Commonwealth burials and commemorations of the First World War. 611 of the burials are unidentified, but there are special memorials to 14 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Arthur’s father died in 1919 and his mother, Lila, was noted as the ‘sole legatee’ and she had been living at 355 Clifton Road from at least 1915, and then at 352 Clifton Road, Rugby [although some misprints are possible!]. She received £18-18-7d owing to Albert on 19 July 1917 and then received a further £15-0-0 gratuity on 21 October 1919.[5]

Albert Ashworth was awarded the Victory and British medals and the 1915 Star.   He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate and on his family’s grave – ref: K691[6] – in the Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

– – – – – –

 

This article on Albert Ashworth 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, December 2016.

[1]       Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919.

[2]       Rugby Advertiser, 14 August 1915.

[3]       Record of the 5th (Service) Battalion, Oxford and Bucks L.I., 1st July 1916 to 30th June 1917, Compiled by Steve Berridge, http://www.lightbobs.com.

[4]         http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/566279/SCOTTON,%20F

[5]       Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, available on Ancestry.co.uk.

[6]       Clifton Road Cemetery, list of names extracted from the Rugby Family History Group (RFHG), CD of Monumental Inscriptions.

Pratt, Frederick Charles. Died 1st March 1917

Frederick Charles PRATT was born in very late 1896 or early 1897 in Wolston, and his birth was registered in early 1897 in Rugby.   He was the son of George Pratt, a gardener from Newton and his wife Elizabeth who was born in Lambourne, Berkshire. Frederick had seven brothers and sisters.

His eldest sister was born in Clifton in about 1893 but in 1901 the family was living at Priory Hill Lodge, Wolston. Before 1911 the family had moved again and was living at 1 Bridle Road, New Bilton, Rugby – ‘Fred’ aged 14, was still at school.

When war broke out Fred would have been 17, and officially too young to join up. However he could well have lied about his age because he joined up in the 6th Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry – the ‘Ox and Bucks’ – as Private No.11097. It is known that a Charles James Keeber signed up in Rugby on 31 August 1914 with an only slightly lower number 11068, and numbers up to 14707 were still being used by the Ox and Bucks in later 1914. This must be speculation as his service record has not survived, but it is likely that he did not hesitate to join up in 1914.

The 6th (Service) Battalion of the Ox and Bucks was formed in September 1914 at Oxford as part of the Second New Army (K2) and then moved to Aldershot to join the 60th Brigade of the 20th Division. In March 1915 they moved to Larkhill, on Salisbury Plain for further training.

On 22 July 1915 the Battalion mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne – and Fred’s Medal Card shows that he also went into the France and Belgium theatre of war on that date.   The battalion undertook trench familiarisation and training and was then in various actions on the Western front including in 1916:- the Battle of Mount Sorrel, the Battle of Delville Wood, the Battle of Guillemont, the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, the Battle of Morval, and the Battle of Le Transloy.

The New Year 1917 brought a period of severe weather conditions on the Somme which led to an unofficial ‘truce’ between the two sides.   The Battalion Diary provides scant details in early 1917, but in February ‘… the Battalion took several tours of duty in the trenches in front of Guillemont, losing 8 men killed and 2nd Lieuts. Higlett, Skoulding, J. W. Wright, and 26 men wounded. 2nd Lieuts. Skoulding and Wright had been with the Battalion less than a week.’

Fred’s Medal Card notes: ‘DoW’ that is that he ‘Died of Wounds’ and this together with the location of his burial in Rouen, some 100 miles from where the 6th Battalion had been in action, suggests that he reached one of the rear area hospitals, which implies that he must have been wounded quite a few days before he died on 1 March 1917.

He was probably one of those 26 men from the battalion wounded in February ‘…in the trenches in front of Guillemont.’ He would have been moved to a Battalion Aid Post, ‘Field Ambulance’ or Advanced Dressing Station, then back to a Casualty Clearing Station, before being transported back to one of the Base Hospitals – in Fred’s case in Rouen. During the First World War, camps and hospitals were stationed on the southern outskirts of Rouen. Almost all of the hospitals at Rouen remained there for practically the whole of the war. They included eight general, five stationary, one British Red Cross and one labour hospital, and No. 2 Convalescent Depot.

Sadly he died there and like the great majority of the dead was taken to the Rouen city cemetery of St. Sever.   He was buried in the St Sever Cemetery Extension in grave reference: O. IV. S. 2.

St Sever Cemetery and St. Sever Cemetery Extension are located within a large communal cemetery situated on the eastern edge of the southern Rouen suburbs of Le Grand Quevilly and Le Petit Quevilly. The extension had been started in September 1916.

The Battalion carried on, in and out of the line as before, with camps at Carnoy and Guillemont; and then moved gradually forward as the German retreated to the Hindenburg Line [14 March – 5 April 1917].

Fred was awarded the Victory and British medals and the 1915 Star.

He is remembered also on the Rugby Memorial Gate and also in Rugby Baptist Church, where there is a Memorial Tablet above the Minister’s vestry in the Church. It notes …

‘This tablet and the organ in the Church are erected to the memory of those members of this Church who laid down their lives in the Great War 1914- 1918, whose names are given herewith also as an act of thanksgiving for the safe return of the many others from this Church who served in the war.’
‘On waters deep in the treacherous mud.
On rock bound heights and burning sand.
They poured the offering of their blood.
They kept the honour of the land.’
A.W. Leeson

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

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This article on Frederick Charles Pratt 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, November 2016.