[The individuals and their stories are presented in alphabetical order of surname, not in date order of death. The author of these accounts is David Dodd, unless otherwise stated, with contributions from Michael Webb and Ann Ballard].
Edward James BALL 1894 – 1916
Charles Walter BODMAN 1890 – 1918
Edward Elms BOWN 1883 – 1917
Arthur BRITTON 1895 – 1917
Edward Elms BOWN 1883 – 1917
Arthur Edwin BRYAN 1893 – 1917
John James BURGESS 1888 – 1918
Thomas BURGESS 1890 – 1916
Leonard COLES 1896 – 1917
James Thomas COOK 1895 – 1916
Percy (Bertie) FULLER 1895 -1917
Sidney HARDING 1890 – 1918
Harold Sidney HINTON 1896 – 1918
Charles Francis JONES 1883 – 1916
Thomas MATHLIN 1875 – 1918
Joseph Edwin MORGAN 1886 – 1917
Albert PERRIMAN 1886 – 1915
Albert George PULLIN 1899 – 1918
Edward Bruce SALMON 1893 – 1918
William Robert STRANGE 1895 – 1915
John William Arthur WHITTAKER 1890 – 1918
George Charles Edwards WOODHAM 1891 – 1918
William Edwards WOODHAM 1891 – 1916
EDWARD JAMES BALL 1894 – 1916
Edward James Ball was the son of William and Harriett Ball, who lived in one of the cottages at Ringswell. He emigrated to Canada aged 18 in 1912 and found work in Montreal with a shipping company. He volunteered in April 1915 to join the Canadian army, and after training he joined one of the crack infantry regiments of Canada. The 42nd Canadian Infantry regiment, also known as the 5th Royal Highlanders of Canada.
The regiment arrived in France but initially saw little action. That changed in March 1916 when the 42nd were transferred to Poperhinge in the Ypres Salient.
By now aggressive sniper fire was adding to the discomfiture of the Canadians. After two months the 42nd were given an opportunity at Hooge. Their neighbouring regiment, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry was nearly surrounded and the 42nd launched a successful counter attack although at the cost of heavy casualties.
After five months in the Ypres Salient the Canadians were switched to the Somme where the terrible slaughter which started on 1st July still continued unabated. On 16th September Ball and his comrades assembled in low ground on a sunken road as an artillery barrage fired over their heads at the German trenches at Courcelette. At 16.55, just before the barrage lifted the Canadians attacked, leaping out of their assembly areas to charge 450 yards to the enemy. Immediately the 42nd could see that little damage had been inflicted by the artillery barrage and the Germans were standing almost shoulder to shoulder firing at the charging Canadians.
They had not gone 100 yards before half the regiment were casualties, including Private Ball who was killed. Only 25% of the regiment returned without injury. Edward James Ball is remembered at the British Cemetery at Contay.
CHARLES WALTER BODMAN 1890 – 1918
Charles Walter Bodman was the eldest son of Walter and Sarah Bodman who had a drapery shop in the High Street, now the site of Country Stores. Charles worked in the shop and was aged 24 when the war started. In October 1914 he travelled to Bristol and volunteered for the Army, joining a regiment being raised by the Bristol Citizens Recruiting Committee, the regiment seems to have had an almost independent existence until adopted by the War Office and established as the 12th (Bristol) Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment, becoming part of 95 Brigade. First encamped in Wensleydale before moving to Salisbury Plain in August 1915, The battalion landed in France on 21 November and on Boxing Day the brigade became part of 5 Division
For nearly two years Charles Bodman saw service on the Western front as a private soldier taking part in the battles of the Somme, Vimy Ridge and then Passchendaele. It was during this battle that Charles Bodman was selected for a commission and in October joined 15 Durham Light Infantry as a subaltern. 15 DLI were in the line at Polygon Wood. Although in the line the regiment saw little action for the British Army was in no state to start any offensive whilst the Germans were awaiting reinforcements from the Eastern Front. However there were probing small scale attacks and on 8 February at Epehy, 2/Lieut. Bodman and an OR were wounded.
The long awaited German offensive began on 21 March and on 23 March 15 DLI came under severe attack at 08.15 at Haudicourt on the north bank of the Somme. Heavy fighting followed as the 15 DLI fought a series of rearguard actions, during one of which 2/Lieut. Bodman was again wounded. At the end of the month 15 DLI were taken out of the line and were sent to a quiet section near Reims for rest, recuperation and reinforcements. Over 250 new soldiers were drafted into the regiment and the days were spent resting and training. However the Germans were not finished yet. The 15 DLI were positioned on the low swampy ground beside the River Aisne and the Marne Canal just north east of Reims and at 01.00 a heavy artillery bombardment opened together with the release of gas. Repelling attacking hordes of German infantry while wearing gas masks is difficult. There followed three days of fighting withdrawals as the regiment wheeled back through wooded country towards the River Vesle which runs south of Reims fighting pitched battles at Muizon and then Marfaux before being finally taken out of the line having suffered 400 casualties in three days and nights fighting.
For the next two months 15 DLI were rested and reinforced and only returned to the front line towards the end of August. By now the tide had turned and the Germans were in full retreat. On 23 August, now positioned at Mailly Maillet, west of Beaumont Hamel and were ordered to capture the high ground south of Miraumont. They crossed the River Ancre and attacked successfully so that the high ground was taken. However the enemy counter attacked and 15 DLI were surrounded on three sides. It was an important advance but costly 7 officers, including Charles Bodman, and 56 ORs were killed and 212 casualties including 13 who were gassed. “The performance of the 64 Brigade in capturing and although completely surrounded, held the high ground south of Miraumont will certainly rank as one of the finest deeds performed by any brigade in this war” was the view of the General commanding the Corps
He is remembered on Panel 9 Memorial at Vis-en-Artois.
Charles Bodman left his entire estate of £348, 11s 10d to his brother Christopher who older residents of Marshfield will remember who kept the shop going till his death in 1982.
EDWARD ELMS BOWN 1883 – 1917
Edward Elms Bown born in 1883, was baptised in Marshfield Church on 11 April that year and was the son of John James and Esther Rachel Bown. His father was a retired farmer who had been aged 42 when he married his 25 year old wife at Holy Trinity Church, Bath in 1876. By the time he was six years old Edward was an orphan, both parents had died. Thereafter he was brought up by his mother’s sister, Lena Bryan who lived in the High Street.
By the turn of the century Edward Bown had migrated to London to make his way in the world, starting as a Commercial Clerk. Later he worked at a Bank and lived with his sister Lilian in Crookham Road, Fulham. Sometime before the outbreak of war he enlisted in the Territorial Army, joining the County of London Yeomanry. Perhaps he learnt to ride a horse in his time in Marshfield, anyway he would have been a very welcome recruit, training at weekends and the evenings at the Duke of Yorks’ Barracks in Chelsea. At the outbreak of war, he and his comrades reported for duty at the Cavalry depot at Hounslow and then joined 2 Mounted Division, based first at Streatley and then at North Walsham.
In April 1915 the CLY sailed first to Egypt and then onto Gallipoli, landing at Suvla Bay in August, but fighting as infantry, the regiment having left their horses at Mena barracks outside Cairo. During that desperate fighting Edward Bown was promoted to Corporal and then evacuated along with everyone else in December. It had been hard fighting and a lot of casualties had been taken, not only by CLY, but by the rest of the army as well. The CLY were reunited with their horses and for the next year their role was to defend the Suez Canal from any attack from the Ottoman Empire. Serving alongside the CLY were 1/4 Northamptonshire Regiment, like CLY a Territorial unit and had fought with distinction at Gallipoli. Always a promising soldier, Edward Bown was commissioned as a Subaltern into the 1/4 Northants
Early in 1917, it was decided to invade Palestine in support of other operations in Mesopotamia. The two towns of Gaza and Beersheba blocked the way. Gaza on the coast was attacked in February and then again in March by XXI Corps which included 1/4 Northants. The Turkish defences were strongly held and no progress was made. For six months Edward Bown and his men endured terrible heat with little cover. Reinforcements arrived and by the end of October nearly 100,000 troops, 46,000 horses, 20,000 camels and 15,000 mules and donkeys were assembled on the Gaza – Beersheba front.
An intense artillery bombardment, augmented by the 14” guns of HMS Raglan and other Royal Navy ships preceded the Third Battle of Gaza. It started as darkness fell on the evening of 1 November 1917., 1/4 Northants went forward at 07.30 the following morning to attack a Turkish stronghold, Lion Trench 1200 yards north east of Sheikh Hasan. The attack was successful and the trench was taken, but without artillery support they were nearly surrounded and had to retreat back to Sheikh Hasan on the coast. Soon the 1/4 Northants advanced again to attack Yunis Trench, but after heavy fighting had to withdraw again and suffered heavy shelling from the Turks for the remainder of the day.
Sometime on that day, 2nd November 1917, Edward Elms Bown was killed. He is buried at the Gaza War Cemetery and on his gravestone his sister Lilian had inscribed “Nobly he lived, Bravely he died , Gone but not Forgotten”. His family also paid for a memorial plaque in Marshfield Church.
ARTHUR BRITTON 1895 – 1917
Arthur Britton was born and bred in Marshfield, the son of Ernest Britton, who had a road haulage business, and his wife Rose. The family lived in the High Street and before the war Arthur worked for his father as a driver; he was aged 19 when war was declared. He enlisted in Bristol soon after the outbreak of war and joined the Royal Engineers, finally being posted to 80 Field Company RE, part of the 18 Eastern Division who had arrived in France in July 1915.
The role of the Royal Engineers Field Companies was to build and maintain and the extraordinary complex and vast infrastructure that Armies in the Great War demanded. This included railways, roads, designing and building artillery fortifications behind the lines, barracks, as well as the provision and supply of water almost as far as the front line and digging and repairing trenches for the infantry regiments. Most of the tasks the Field Companies undertook were out of the range of rifle and machine gun fire that was the daily lot of the infantryman, but of course subject to the possibility of long range artillery fire.
His experience as a driver even although he was not yet out of his teens, before the war was of great value to the Army, for driving commercial vehicles was not a job done by many.
Arthur Britton would have seen service at the Somme in the summer of 1916 and by May 1917, 80 Field Company were stationed at Bray, east of Amiens undertaking what seems a vast range of building and maintenance work. In the middle of June the company was moved to Ouderdom Camp near Poperhinge. Their task was to build Advanced Dressing Stations for the wounded and digging shelters, all of which were part of the preparations for Third Ypres, or Passchendaele. The battle opened with an intensive barrage which lasted for 10 days before on 31 July the infantry left their trenches and advanced across No Man’s Land.
80 Field Company remained in support in the rear until they were moved to Vendhuille on the banks of the St Quentin Canal near Le Catelet. Their tasks were twofold, first ensuring the banks of the canal were in good order, secondly building barracks and washrooms nearby at Guyencourt. Towards the middle of the October increasingly the sappers came under fire. Half a dozen casualties were suffered over three or four days and then on 25 October the company suffered the loss of an officer killed and three other ranks were wounded, of whom Arthur Britton was one. He died of his wounds a day later. He is buried at Canada Farm Cemetery.
ARTHUR EDWIN BRYAN 1893 – 1917
In the North aisle of Marshfield church is a very grand looking, obviously military monument. It commemorates Corporal Arthur Edwin Bryan of the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars, who died of wounds in Egypt in 1917. Corporal Bryan was indeed a Yeoman, the son of the tenants of West End Farm, Marshfield. However his CWGC records give an address of Brook House in Doynton.
He was a Territorial and volunteered for overseas service. He was part of the machine gun troop of the RGH and served with distinction in the Balkans, receiving the Serbian Gold Medal for gallantry. As part of the 16th Squadron of the Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) he then moved on to Egypt and Palestine.
During the offensive on Jerusalem, Arthur Bryan was in charge of the “horse-holders”; the machine guns having been dismounted and brought into action against the Turks. The area in which the horses were being held was suddenly beaten by Turkish machine guns and Arthur Bryan attempted to rescue horses and men before they became casualties. He was wounded seriously and evacuated to Alexandria in Egypt. He died of his wounds there and was buried at Hadra CWGC. This cemetery was begun in April 1916 when it was realised that the cemetery at Chatby would not be large enough for Gallipoli casualties. Most of the burials were made from the Alexandria hospitals, but a number of graves of December 1917 were due to the loss of the troop transports “Aragon” and “Osmanieh” which were sunk by torpedo and mine as they entered the port. The cemetery continued in use until December 1919.
The stone memorial is beautifully offset by the simple “death penny” plaque, presented to the Next of Kin of all those killed on active service during the Great War.
(Author: Michael Webb)
GUNNER JOHN JAMES BURGESS 1888 – 1918
John James Burgess was the elder brother of Tom Burgess, killed on the first day of the Somme in 1916. Aged 26 at the outbreak of war, living at Bellum, working probably as a farm labourer, it is thought he volunteered in 1915. He chose to join the Royal Field Artillery and was posted to 56 Brigade RFA, joining them in Egypt as they regrouped after the bitterly fought campaign at Gallipoli.
Early in March 1916, Burgess and his Battery, now part of 13 Western Division, in which several Marshfield men were serving landed in Mesopotamia. As the strongest division in the invading army, with its heavy modern artillery, James Burgess would have played a key role in the heavy fighting from 5 – 9 April loading and firing his 18 pounders. It was in this battle that Tom Cook of 5 Wiltshires was killed. For nearly two years James Burgess saw service in Mesopotamia, before 56 Battery were posted to an Indian Army division 7th Meerut to take part in the Palestine campaign.
However the situation on the Western Front in France was deteriorating fast and on 1 April 56 Brigade RFA were sent to reinforce the British Army under Field Marshal Haig who were fighting in the “backs to the wall” campaign. The tide turned and James Burgess and his fellow gunners took part in the great Hundred Days Offensive starting on 8 August 1918 seeing action at the Second Battles of the Somme and Arras and culminating in the assault on the Hindenberg Line. Sometime as the war reached it’s conclusion Spanish Flu struck James Burgess. He was rushed to England, but died at Brook War Hospital in Kidbrooke in south east London on 21 October 1918.
THOMAS BURGESS 1890 -1916
Thomas Burgess was a regular soldier who had joined the Somerset Light Infantry three or four years before the start of the Great War. The son of Amos and Helen Burgess of Bellum, the life of a soldier appealed to him more than that of a farm labourer which was the lot of his father and younger brother. Private Burgess crossed to France on 21 August having spent the previous fortnight or so at Colchester Barracks as the battalion readied itself for war. For the next 20 months took part in most of the major battles, such as Le Cateau, the Marne and Messines and then Second Ypres.
June 1916 found the 1st Battalion of the Somersets in Beauval preparing for the much vaunted offensive on the Somme which was hoped to win the war. All officers and NCO’s spent time examining the models of the defences they were to attack, particularly the Quadrilateral redoubt which was the target of 11 Brigade of which the 1st Somersets were part. 22 June the Somersets moved up close to the front, camping in a wood near Mailly-Maillet. The next day all the French civilians of Mailly-Maillet were evacuated. The British bombardment of the German positions began the next day, this was planned to continue for the next five days until launching the attack on 29 June, Z Day. The German’s, now in no doubt of the probability of a major attack, replied with more artillery fire. The British bombardment continued unceasingly, sometime it could be heard in southern England. However heavy rain created problems for the British in the trenches, not least when a planned reconnaissance of the German lines in front of the Somersets had to be cancelled.
28 June and with the rain continuing to fall heavily, GHQ decided to postpone the attack for 48 hours. In spite of the rain spirits and optimism were high, rumours abounded, Beaumont Hamel a British objective, had been wiped out by British shelling, the Germans had suffered severe casualties, all the barbed wire had been cut. Colonel Thicknesse, CO of the Somersets needed confirmation, a small reconnaissance party under the command of a subaltern was sent out and returned with the news that indeed the wire had been completely cut. The Adjutant was not so sure. The following night he sent another recce party under the command of 2/Lts Armstrong and Dunn who took half an hour crossing No Man’s Land because of flare and rockets and enemy patrols. On their return they reported that they had little evidence of any damage to the barbed wire in front of the German trenches.
On 30 June the original subaltern repeated his reconnaissance and reported back that although he had not been able to get as close to the Quadrilateral Redoubt as he would have liked reiterated that the wire was cut. The rain continued to fall and some of the Somersets who were wet through could find no dry underwear or shirts and wore their pyjamas under their uniforms.
The sun rose early and brightly on 1 July as the British barrage continued the 1st Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry were ready. They were in the second line of the attack behind 1st Rifle Brigade and 6th Warwickshires, who as the Barrage stopped at 07.30 left their trenches and advanced towards the enemy positions at a steady walking pace. The Somersets left three minutes after them. However the Company Sergeant Major of “A” Company persuaded his company commander to go over the top two minutes early. Whether Tom Burgess was in “A” Company is doubtful.
Once the British barrage ceased the German artillery and machine gunners were quick to open fire and with all the advance warning they had had their sights were preset on No Man’s Land. CSM Chappell blessed his instinct to go early which put his company on the safer side of the enemy shells. Looking back he saw the following companies of the Somersets advance onto the shell and bullet swept ground, steadily but pitifully reduced in numbers . The carnage was awful, the optimism of the British soldiers was swept away.
The remnants of the 1st Battalion Somerset Light Infantry were then engaged in desperate and heavy fighting at close quarters in the Quadrilateral Redoubt. By mid day all of the officers were casualties, CSM Chappell was in command of the battalion until 16.30 when he was relieved by Major Majendie the 2i/c who had remained behind with a company in reserve. The losses for the Somersets were 26 officers including Colonel Thicknesse and 436 Other Ranks At what time Tom Burgess died is unclear, his body was never found, but in all probability it was during the advance from the trenches at 07.30. It is said that half of the casualties on the first day of the Somme were sustained in the first half hour. He is remembered with honour on the Lutyens designed Thiepval Memorial.
LEONARD COLES 1896 – 1917
Leonard Coles was one of nine children born to James and Georgina Coles. James Coles was a farm labourer as well as Church Sexton and Leonard followed his father into agriculture, starting his working life as a Plough Boy. By the time war started, his sister and three of his brothers had left home, perhaps to seek a life away from the back breaking and poorly paid work on the land. Quite when Leonard Coles joined the Army is unclear, or indeed what took him to the artillery.
306 Siege Battery consisted of four 9 inch howitzers, amongst the heaviest artillery possessed by the British Army. The battery underwent a prolonged period of training in England before embarking for France on 2 April 1917. The guns were sent on a separate ship and then followed by train as Leonard Coles and his comrades made their way to their assigned position at the front. It was six days before the gunners were reunited with their huge howitzers The Officer Commanding 306 Battery was clearly security conscious, never once in the War Diary giving any hint of their location. However we can place them near Messines, for that was the battle in which they were to play their part.
Hampered by poor staff work it took longer than it should have for the battery to get established and prepare the positions for the guns. It was difficult work, in wet conditions, the approach road was under water and it was a week before the howitzers could be brought up. Once in position the guns had to be registered and calibrated, by 21 April the enemy had spotted their arrival and began shelling 306 Battery, but with little success.
By the beginning of May 306 Battery was ready to return the bombardment, firing 168 shells the first day and 70 the next. So it went on every day a spotter aeroplane guided their shelling of a German battery with great success. On 13 May the battery took delivery of 2200 shells in preparation of a major offensive and the bombardment intensified sometimes shelling the enemy front line trenches, sometimes the support trenches then the ammunition dumps at Ploegstreet and the bridges over the River Lys. The Germans replied in kind and one of the howitzers was hit and badly damaged and out of action for nearly a fortnight. The Battle of Messines was one of the great British successes of the war in which the Siege batteries had played a significant part and Gunner Coles and his mates had a crucial role in that victory.
Attention now turned to Third Ypres, or Passchendaele as it is more commonly known. 306 Battery began preparing for a move to a new position north west of Ypres. Lorries took the gunners through Bailleul to their new position and they awaited the arrival of the guns by rail. Leonard Coles would have been engaged in getting the gun emplacements ready, filling and stacking sandbags, backbreaking work which would have reminded him of farm labouring in Marshfield. The big howitzers were brought up to the newly prepared positions by caterpillar tractor. The already sodden ground made it impossible to use lorries and Gunner Coles and his comrades had to carry the huge shells half a mile over the mud, not even Marshfield farming would have prepared him for that. Not having the ammunition in place before the guns on the caterpillar tractors tore up the ground was another result of poor staffwork.
The battery suffered its first casualty on 29 July, Third Ypres started in earnest on 31 July. A few days later 401 Siege Battery with two howitzers and 1 officer and 57 ORs were absorbed into Coles’s battery. By now the weather had set in, it rained most days, sometimes it was a deluge, however life with a battery of howitzers was as different as could be from life in the trenches. Billets were dry, meals were regular and invariably hot, whilst sniper and machine gun fire were totally absent. But they were not immune to death and destruction and their constant bombardment of the enemy meant that the Germans has a fair idea of their location. On 17 September a high explosive shell hit 306 Battery killing Gunner Leonard Cook. He is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.
JAMES THOMAS COOK 1895 – 1916
James Thomas Cook was the son of Joseph and Hannah Cook.Joseph, a blacksmith had moved from Hawkesbury Upton to Marshfield, feeling that there were better prospects for his trade. Prior to the war, Tom Cook had worked as a stable boy. When war came he soon joined the Army, first in the Royal Field Artillery, but soon transferring to the infantry, joining 5th Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment, perhaps to join a boyhood friend. He sailed as part of a reinforcement draft first to Egypt and then to Gallipoli, joining his regiment at Sulva Bay on 17 November. Six weeks later the regiment was evacuated from Gallipoli and returned to Port Said in Egypt.
The 13 (Western) Division of which 5th Wilts were part, regrouped after the ordeal of Gallipoli and on 2nd February were inspected by General Sir Archibald Murray who expressed his congratulations on their high standard of readiness and how well they had recovered after seven months on the peninsula. Later that month they embarked on the P & O liner Oriana and sailed for Mesopotamia, landing at Kuwait before embarking on a smaller ship SS Ellora arriving at Basra on 1st March. Heavy storms delayed their advance until at last on 12th March the 5th Wilts boarded barges to take them up the Tigris and Tom Cook, if he did but know it was following in the footsteps of William Edwards Woodham a few weeks earlier. Their mission was to advance up the Tigris to relieve General Townsend’s small army who was besieged at Kut el Amara having been surrounded by the Turks since 9 December.
Strong Turkish forces were in front of them but steadily 13 (Western) Division made their way up the banks of the Tigris, sometimes halting to repair the Bund and levees so as to ensure continuity of supplies. There was a minor action with Turkish cavalry at Shiekh Saad before spending 10 days in Gomorrah, apparently without any ill effects or dangers to discipline. On 1st April the 5th Wilts moved into trenches at Umm el Hannah, preparing for an attack five days later. On 5th April Tom Cook and his comrades led a dawn assault and the enemy trenches were captured without difficulty and a dozen or so Turks were taken prisoner.
Falahiyeh was the next objective and at 9.00 the Brigade advanced and two miles further on came under prolonged and heavy rifle and machine gun fire. Caught in open desert there was little cover and the 5th Wilts dug in for the rest of the day 800 yards from the Turkish lines. By the end of the day the 5th Wiltshires had lost 17 Other Ranks killed, including Tom Cook. So far as can be ascertained Tom Cook has no known grave but is remembered on the CWG Memorial at Basra
PERCY “BERTIE” FULLER MM (Military Medal) 1895 – 1917
Bertie Fuller as he is remembered on the village and church war memorials, was christened Percy and would have been uncle to Percy Fuller who for so long lived and operated his hardware and contracting business from 96 High Street. Bertie’s father was a blacksmith and the family lived at 140 High Street. When Bertie left school he became a grocer’s assistant and in August 1914, aged 18 enlisted, entering the Royal Field Artillery.
In mid-July 1915 Bertie crossed to France to join his unit, 36 Battery in 33 Brigade, at that time part of the 8 Division. His battery had been in France since October 1914 and was clearly a battle hardened unit In the two years he served with 33 Battery, he saw a lot of action, notably at Bois Grenier, a diversionary action to coincide with Loos and then at Albert during the first phase of the Battle of the Somme. His battery of 18 Pounders were seldom out of the action in that long desperate battle amid the wet and mud of the Flanders, bombarding the German positions
Then in 1917 his battery played it’s part at Arras as the Germans withdrew to their newly prepared positions in the Hindernberg Line He saw more action at Posieres, repulsing an attack for which the British were ready, thanks to information given by a deserter. The War Diary states that the German prisoners taken at this action were of poor physique and quality. More action took place around Bapaume as the Germans withdrew, on entering the town the British gunners found the town had been set on fire by the Germans and was totally gutted. Now positioned just west of the Bapaume – Arras road 33 Battery were almost constantly in action exchanging fire with the Germans opposite.
Some time during May or June, Bertie Fuller was awarded the Military Medal one of the highest award an OR can win probably for rescuing wounded comrades under fire. The award was announced in the London Gazette on 16 August, but no details as to the act of gallantry were published, a practice that continued even in World War 2. He was Gazetted some three weeks after he was killed.
A stray shell burst through a building near Bethune in which Bertie Fuller was standing on 21 July and he was killed outright as his battery were making preparations for the battle of Third Ypres, better known as Passchendaele. Ten days later Joseph Edward Morgan of 9th Loyal Regiment suffered a similar fate of being hit by a stray shell when well behind the front line
He is buried at Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery.
SIDNEY HARDING 1890 – 1918
Sidney Harding was born in Marshfield in 1890, son of Henry and Emma Harding who originally lived in Maulkin Lane, but later were to be found at Bellum. In December Sidney Harding married Daisy Elizabeth Woodham who also lived in Marshfield (was she the sister of John Edwards Woodham who died of wounds on 29 March at Colombo Hospital Ceylon.
He served in the 1st Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment and the start of 1918 saw him in the trenches near Poperhinge in Flanders. The first three months of the year were quiet, reconnaissance patrols, working parties repairing communication trenches etc. The great German offensive which started on 21 March was some miles to the south of them and 1st Glosters did not see any fresh action until they were moved on 16 April to the village of Festubert, the scene of an important battle at the start of 1915. Two days later the Germans attacked in strength using gas and the cover of a thick mist, at first the enemy was successful but the mist led to mix ups with the attacking forces and often led them into exposed positions. The heavy and accurate machine gun and rifle fire from Sidney Harding and his comrades inflicted heavy losses on the German infantry. For 24 hours the battle for Festubert raged and it was almost a text book defence by the Glosters. During the fighting a large German American appeared out of the mist, his hands in his pockets, large cigar in his mouth saying he wished to surrender “he was feeling thoroughly fed up” The gallantry of the Glosters that day is shown by the fact that 24 NCOs and Other Ranks received the Military Medal and 4 other NCOs were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. The losses that day were 53 killed and 123 wounded
For the next four months Sidney Harding saw little action, there was time for the Glosters to be beaten at rugby on 3 August by 6th Welch Regiment and it was not until 13 September that they saw action again. By this time the Allied advance which had started on 8 August was well under way. First they captured Maissemy Ridge and then Gricourt near St Quentin and took 160 prisoners.
By now the Allies were unstoppable, whereas previously heavy and costly fighting had resulted in gains counted in yards now the advance was measured in several miles a day. From 6 to 16 October the Glosters were in reserve and saw no fighting until rejoining the fray and capturing the villages of Vaux, Audigny and then Molain in an advance of about 30 miles over three days Then on 18 October they were ordered to link up with the Americans on their left and attack the small town of Ribeauville Some enemy machine gun posts held up the advance, but they were either knocked out or forced to retreat during the afternoon. At nightfall the Glosters were on the bank of the River Sambre et Oise, but three of the regiment were dead including Sidney Harding.
Sidney was the last son of Marshfield to be killed in the war just 23 days before its end on 11 November 1918.
HAROLD SIDNEY HINTON 1896 – 1918
Harold Sidney Hinton was the son of Sidney and Alice Hinton of Broadley Cottages and was just 18 when war broke out on 4th August 1914. He volunteered soon after, enlisting in Bath in the Royal Field Artillery. Gunner Hinton is the only one of the Marshfield men who fell in the Great War of whom there is no record available of the battery in which he served or the dates of his active service. We can presume that he served in France for a lengthy period, but by 1918 he was serving as a Gunner in the Instructional Battery at Durrington Camp on Salisbury Plain.
The role of the Instructional Battery was to train new recruits, particularly young officers in, handling, manoeuvring and firing guns. Although not an NCO he would probably have been manning the 18 Pounders under the orders of the newly commissioned officers. This would have given them a useful introduction and necessary training in preparation for their duties on active service.
The reason for Gunner Hinton being posted back to England is unclear. Possibly he had been wounded in action and after recovery had been spared a return to France and selected for a training role in Blighty, a result that he would no doubt have been pleased to get and would have hoped to have seen out the war in the Home Front.
Alas this was not to be. He contracted Spanish Flu and died on 28th October and was buried in Marshfield Churchyard on 3rd November.
CHARLES FRANCIS JONES 1883 – 1916
Charles Francis Jones was 31 when he enlisted to join the Gloucestershire Regiment on 31st August 1914. Unmarried, a farm labourer he lived with his elderly parents at 2 Springfield Cottages. He was posted to the 1st Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment early in 1915. During that year he took part in the battles of Aubers and Loos.
The start of 1916 saw Private Jones back in the trenches after relieving elements of the South Wales Borderers. Five days later he went back into reserve and then marched to the railway head and entrained for Lillers, a town amid the French coalfields and then into billets at Rambert and then Cauchy. For six weeks the regiment was out of the line recuperating and training. On one memorable day the regiment was inspected by Marshal Joffre, commander of all the Allied armies. In mid February they returned to the trenches near Loos. The front was quiet and the Glosters settled into a routine of 4 days in the front line, 4 days in reserve and 4 days in billets, usually out of harm’s way.
The routine continued throughout March, albeit with one or two bombing raids, although on 10th March Jones experienced heavy shelling, 25 men being buried for almost 24 hours before they were dug out, all had survived. All of this time fresh drafts arrived from England and were quietly taken under the wing of experienced soldiers such as Charles Jones and integrated into the regiment and learnt the facts of life and survival techniques in the trenches.
In April the same routine continued until the regiment moved into Divisional Reserve at Les Brebis and were looking forward to a spell of rest in comfortable billets. That afternoon the battalion War Diary states: “about 2pm our billets were slightly shelled and two shells caused casualties, 3 men wounded and 1 man killed”. That man was Private Charles Jones. He is buried at Bully-Grenay Communal Cemetery.
THOMAS MATHLIN 1875 – 1918
Thomas William Mathlin was born circa 1875 in Churchill, Somerset; he married Emily Hetta Coward on 2nd February 1903 at Keynsham Parish church. In the census of 1911 Thomas and Emily and their three children were recorded living at Marshfield, and Thomas’ occupation was a Skin Dealer. Sometime in the next few years Thomas and the family moved to West Littleton.
There are only limited military records available for Thomas Mathlin and details of any service before 1918 are unknown. However the extant documents show he joined the RAF, enlisting on 31st July 1918 and was held at a Reserve Depot before joining 204 Training Depot Station. He was transferred to 58 Wing on 16th October 1918 but whilst there he was admitted to hospital. Private Thomas Mathlin, Regimental No. 279800, died of Pneumonia on 31st October 1918 at Chatham Hospital Kent.
He was survived by his widow Emily. He was buried at West Littleton and is commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves.
JOSEPH EDWIN MORGAN 1886 – 1917
Joseph Edwin Morgan was born in 1886, the son of Charles and Ellen Morgan. He lived all his life in Marshfield, getting married in September 1907 and at the time of his death, his widow Alice lived in Hay Street. A farm labourer, he enlisted early on in the war and by the vagaries of Army procedures and administration found himself posted to 9th North Lancs (Loyal) Regiment who were assembling on Salisbury Plain at the beginning of 1915. Early days were somewhat chaotic, with few trained officers or NCO’s.
Eventually order prevailed and after inspection by Lord Kitchener in August 1915, 25 Division, of which the 9th Loyals were part were deemed ready for active service.
The regiment left Aldershot on 24 September for a three hour train journey to Folkestone. They embarked that evening and included 76 horses and mules, 5 bicycles and four Field Kitchens. Action for the regiment began in earnest in the summer of 1916, first at Vimy Ridge and then on the Somme up until the end of October.
1917 started quietly, mostly spent in the Ploegsteet sector until preparations began for the battle of Messines. By the time the 9th Loyals arrived at the front, some 8000 yards of tunnels had been constructed and 19 great mines equating to 600 tons of explosives had been laid. On 7 June at 03.10 the mines were detonated and the 9th Loyals left their trenches to attack the Wytschaete Ridge. Heavy fighting ensued, but receiving heavy and well directed artillery support, with a New Zealand division on their right and the famed 36 Ulster Division on their left, the well planned attack was one of the most successful actions of World War I. After three days in the trenches they were relieved by the 3rd Worcesters. They had lost 78 killed and 284 wounded and were withdrawn from the line and marching first to Ham en Artois and then to Rudigham, first bivouacking in an open field near Wulvergham and then went into billets in Fruges.
The regiment then took part in brigade training exercises for the forthcoming Battle of Pilkem, an early phase in the Battle of Passchendaele. 9th Loyals were in reserve as action began and provided working parties for road building. On 31 July Private Morgan was killed on one of these working parties, probably from long range artillery fire as he worked behind the lines.
He is buried at Hooge Crater Cemetery.
ALBERT PERRIMAN 1886 – 1915
Albert Perriman was born in 1886, the son of Jonah and Rhoda Perriman of Sheepfair Lane; his father Jonah was the village postman. Albert, who was unmarried and worked as a labourer, enlisted on 2 September 1914 and was posted to the Royal Artillery where he joined 189 Battery, a training unit at Hilsea. Six months later, training completed, the unit was judged to be ready for overseas service and became C Battery 59 Brigade.
By this time the difficulties of trench warfare had become apparent and that there was deadlock on the Western Front was obvious, at least to the restless mind of Winston Churchill. His solution was a Second Front to be mounted against Turkey who had aligned herself with Germany. The Gallipoli peninsular was the chosen objective. On 2nd July the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force sailed from Devonport reaching Alexandria twelve days later. After acclimatisation and further training Perriman sailed for Gallipoli, landing there on 9th August. By this time the battle at Gallipoli had been raging since late April and conditions were difficult. It had proved impossible to any make any advance from the beaches and cover from enemy fire was not easy to find. The battle raged on Perriman had a spell in a Field Hospital suffering from a severe attack of enteritis resulting from poor sanitation.
On 13 November 29 Brigade launched an attack on Hill 53, a key strategic point overlooking Sulva Bay, and Perriman’s battery of artillery supported the assault. This in turn led to the Turks responding with artillery fire of their own to try and silence the guns of C Battery. Perriman was badly wounded, he had received shrapnel in his back and was eventually evacuated to 53 Welsh Casualty Clearing Station where he died of his wounds on 20 November.
He is remembered at the Helles Memorial on the Gallipoli Peninsula. By the time his personal possessions and war medals were received by his parents they had moved to Ivy Cottage in the Market Place. The Marshfield Parish magazine for January 1916 included the following:
In the War Intercession Service last month we used the clause “That it may please Thee to receive in mercy and love the soul of our brother Albert Perriman, who has given his life for his country” Albert Perriman, of the R.F.A., was wounded in action at the Dardenelles on the morning of November 13th, by a fragment of shell, and died on the 20th. He was 29 years old. His parents have received, through Lord Kitchener, the expression of “the true sympathy of His Majesty and the Queen” in their sorrow.
ALBERT GEORGE PULLIN 1899 – 1918
Albert George Pullin was the youngest son of Marshfield to be killed in either of the two World Wars. His parents, Arthur and Mary Louisa lived at Turnpike House at West End. He enlisted at Bristol during August 1917 and commenced his basic training at the depot of the Devonshire Regiment along with a number of other Gloucestershire lads. He would not have expected to have crossed to France before his nineteenth birthday in September 1918.
By April 1918 the German offensive which had started so successfully on 21 March showed no signs of slackening and with 25 miles of his front engulfed, it led to Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig on 12 April to issue his historic order of the day: ”There is no other course open to us but to fight it out to the end…to the last man” Reinforcements were urgently needed and the official age for serving overseas was immediately cut from 19 to 18. A large draft from the Devons was sent at once to France, including Albert Pullin.
The 2/5 Glosters were having a hard time of it and had endured three days of heavy fighting at St Venant, between Hazebrouck and Aire sur Lys suffering heavy casualties. Their fighting withdrawals had gone on for nearly a month. 17 April found the battalion digging in at Bacquerolles Farm when Private Pullin in a draft of 348 arrived as reinforcements. Almost at once there was heavy fighting and Albert Pullin underwent his baptism of fire. All the next day there was fierce fighting, the farm was lost, but a strong counter attack resulted in it being retaken. The following day was quiet and the battalion was relieved by the 2 Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry.
On 22 April the 2/5 Glosters moved back in the line with orders to attack La Pierre en Beuse and after reconnaissance the 2/5 Glosters assembled for the assault at 04.00. They endured some enemy shelling, but then the British artillery produced a “magnificent barrage” thus enabling Private Pullin and his comrades to advance confidently and capture their objective with slight casualties. 45 minutes later they had consolidated their position and enemy prisoners had been taken.
The next day, 24 April, a German artillery bombardment proceeded an infantry attack in thick morning mist and again more fierce fighting took place. After beating off the Germans the 2/5 Glosters counted their losses. Three officers and 28 Other Ranks had been killed including Private Pullin. His active service on the Western Front had not lasted a week.
EDWARD BRUCE SALMON 1893 – 1918
Edward Bruce Salmon was born in Marshfield on 2nd January 1893 the son of Worthy Salmon and his wife Alice Amy nee Cook. The census of 1911 described Edward as a Pupil Teacher. Four years later Edward married Annie Moules on 22nd May 1915 at Colerne. Edward enlisted into the 8th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment at Frome.
1918 found the 8th Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment in the line at Harincourt Wood, part of 19 (Western) Division, and veterans of the Somme 18 months earlier now in a quiet part of the front line. The British Army was in no position to launch an offensive, the battle of Passchendaele had finally come to a standstill in early November and Cambrai, two weeks later, had failed to produce the results that the initial success of the Royal Tank Corps had promised. Ominously the Germans were quite clearly gaining in strength as reinforcements from the east continued to arrive now that Russia had sued for peace.
Throughout the first months of the New Year it was the case that it was all quiet on the Western Front, but the British Army was badly overstretched and regiments and divisions were badly understrength. A draft of 51 Other Ranks received by 8th Glosters on 13 March still left them short of numbers as they took up their new position at Doignies, between Bapaume and Cambrai.
On 21 March, a misty foggy morning the regiment stood to at 05.30, intelligence had warned of the probable enemy offensive that day. This time the intelligence was correct. To the south of the Glosters was the British Fifth Army, severely short of manpower, and soon gave way exposing the 19 Division. The Glosters responded in the only way they knew how, starting with a counter attack on the Germans and then the following day with a mixture of machine gun and rapid rifle fire inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. With their right flank being turned and heavy artillery fire now being directed onto their positions the Glosters were in trouble, suffering some 200 casualties, and having to retire. Unhappily some of the walking wounded were taken prisoner.
The Glosters were engaged in several desperate rearguard actions holding up the German advance, but inevitably the retreat continued, first to Bancourt, then to Bapaume. 19 Division was outnumbered and with the enemy advancing in numbers the Glosters were pushed past Bapaume and although a number of rearguard actions were fought the Germans pushed remorselessly westward and then northward. Six days of fighting withdrawals over 35 miles had taken its toll. The Battalion was tired, reduced in numbers and with bad news all around them it must have taken all the resources of the junior NCO’s such L/Cpl Salmon to keep up morale and fighting against the odds
On 27th March the 8th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment dug in at Fonquevillers alongside an Anzac division, 7 miles west of Arras. Once again there was heavy fighting which continued into the following day. For the 8th Glosters it was a costly day with heavy artillery fire, they lost two officers and 39 Other Ranks, including Lance Corporal Salmon, before they withdrew towards Doullens.
He is remembered with honour on the Arras Memorial.
WILLIAM ROBERT STRANGE 1895 – 1915
William Strange was born in 1895 the eldest son of Alfred and Augusta Strange of West Littleton. His father was a Waggoner and William himself a farm labourer. He volunteered for service soon after war broke out in August 1914 and enlisted in the Grenadier Guards. He joined what was then the Reserve Battalion and completed his basic training, and in the early summer of 1915, the Reserve was split and formed into two battalions, the 3rd and 4th. Strange was promoted to Lance Corporal and posted to the 4th Battalion, one of whose subalterns was the young Harold Macmillan. Camped at Marlow, the battalion completed its training and embarked from Southampton on the evening of 15th August. Harold Macmillan writes that after ensuring that all the other ranks were comfortable and well provided for “the officers were ushered into the saloon for dinner with napery, crockery, silver and the rest with fine wine and food served by a posse of waiters from the Ritz”.
However all this privilege for the officers soon came to an end as the 4th Grenadiers disembarked at Le Havre the following day and began the march to St Omer. The next four weeks were spent in further training and manoeuvres in preparation for the planned Battle of Loos. Inspected on several occasions by senior generals as well as the Prince of Wales they all felt ready for the forthcoming battle. On 21st September, on the eve of the battle, the Prince of Wales cycled over from GHQ to wish them luck. On 27th September, 4th Grenadiers marched from Vermelles to Loos some two miles in full view of the Germans on the high ground and were heavily shelled, but they continued to advance in perfect order. “The only time I can remember,” writes Harold Macmillan, “any men showing a tendency to break ranks was when a hare got up and the countrymen amongst them gave chase.” Maybe one of them was L/Cpl Strange?
4th Grenadiers were ordered to attack Hill 70 and heavy and confused fighting followed. Harold Macmillan was wounded twice and sent back to a Casualty Clearing Station and then back to London. L/Cpl Strange survived the main battle of Loos and although fighting continued for another 10 days it was a little less heavy and intense than previously. On 17th October, 4th Grenadiers, after a rest out of the line, came back and took over trenches from 2nd Scots Guards and almost at once they came under a bombing attack from the German trenches. A counter attack was launched under Lieutenant Britton and it succeeded in driving the Germans from their trenches, and it was during this counter attack that Lance Corporal Strange was killed.
He is remembered with honour at the Loos Memorial in France.
Harold Macmillan returned to the battalion in 1916 and took part in the latter part of the Battle of the Somme. He was wounded several times during an assault on the German lines and took refuge in a large crater in No Man’s Land, lying “doggo” as German soldiers advanced and then retreated past him during the day. Macmillan was rescued by during the night by his Company Sergeant Major and taken back to the Grenadier trenches. Returning to England seriously wounded Macmillan spent the rest of the war recuperating and for the rest of his life walked with a very pronounced shuffle as a result of his wounds.
JOHN WILLIAM ARTHUR WHITTAKER 1890 – 1918
John Whittaker was born in Warrington in 1890, but before he reached the age of 10, he was an orphan. For a while he was looked after by his elderly grandmother but this could not continue and soon as his grandmother entered the Warrington Workhouse , John was accepted by the Blue Coat School at Orford an school for orphans which he left at 14. The following year he emigrated to Canada as part of the British Home Children scheme, whereby orphans were sent to the Dominions and Colonies to make a better life for themselves, sailing on the “Virginian” from Liverpool bound for Canada he arrived on 16 April 1905. His younger brother who had followed him to the Blue Coat School stayed in England.
John Whittaker returned to Manchester and lived for a time at Withington before volunteering and joined a “Pals” battalion, the 20th Manchester Regiment; after training, he embarked with his battalion for France arriving on 8 November 1915. The battalion, also known as the 5th Manchester Pals were assigned to the 7th Division, already battle hardened and it was not long into 1916 that preparations started for the forthcoming Battle of the Somme.
On 1st July, the objective of John Whittaker’s battalion was the village of Mametz, a mile behind the German trenches. He and his comrades over ran the Defending Germans and reached the outskirts of the village by mid morning. The fighting was fierce with hand to hand combat, but by 16.00 Mametz was theirs. The 5th Manchester Pals had fought with bravery and determination, but at a terrible cost, their Commanding Officer Lt Col H. Lewis was killed and the battalion which had started the day with 690 men were reduced to about 150. The battalion was withdrawn, reinforced and two weeks later assaulted Bazerntin Wood, suffering a further 500 casualties. Private Whittaker survived these two battles, but may well have been wounded, either then or later in the war, for at some stage he transferred to the Labour Corps, probably in 1917.
The First World War because of its largely static nature saw a demand for construction workers unequalled in any war before or since. This work was done by the Labour battalions of the infantry regiments or the Royal Engineers. By 1917 the War Office felt this clearly was not an efficient way of handling some of these large scale projects and the Labour Corps was founded, drawing its personnel from the Labour battalions. These were men not fully fit for combat and included Private Whittaker.
However the continuing exodus of men to Flanders and elsewhere meant that farming was losing a lot of its manpower. This shortage needed to be remedied and the Army had always been sympathetic to the needs of agriculture. During the war farmers could apply to the local Army camps for labour for their farms. So as to overcome this manpower shortage on the farms some 75,000 were posted from the Labour Corps to the Agricultural Labour Companies. These companies were commanded by a Major assisted by two Lieutenants and numbered some 250 men. Whittaker was posted to 440 Agricultural Labour Company, operating out of Bristol. John Whittaker worked at West End Farm, probably living in the farm. Just as the war was ending, he contracted Spanish Flu and died on 9 November and was buried in Marshfield Churchyard.
GEORGE CHARLES EDWARDS WOODHAM 1891 – 1918
George Charles Edwards Woodham was the slightly older cousin of William Edwards Woodham who died in March 1916, following wounds sustained in the early stages of the Mesopotamia campaign his parents had earlier moved from Ringswell to Colerne. George had married Beatrice Thompson in 1912 and had gone to live in the High Street. He enlisted in the Royal Engineers at much the same time as Arthur Britton and was posted to 57 Field Company RE.
57 Field Coy were part of a Territorial Division, 49 (West Riding) Division. Their role was exactly similar to Arthur Britton’s company, building, digging, repairing, maintaining roads, railways, trenches, shelters, huts, forward first aid posts etc. By the autumn of 1917, 49 Division was involved in the long, bloody and wet campaign of Passchendaele. Based near Poperinge, George Edwards Woodham and his comrades were involved in repairing bridges and roads, such as the Menin Road and laying a plank road so as to ensure that supplies and soldiers could move in the sea of mud that was Passchendaele. Christmas Day offered little respite, the gruelling work carried on.
This work in the mud continued into 1918, although the emphasis changed towards building and reinforcing defensive position with pill boxes as the Allied Armies waited for the long expected German offensive. On 21 March it came, although for a while the position of 57 Field Coy altered little as the battles raged to the south of them.
On 10 April all that changed and the enemy began attacking from the south, 57 Field Coy began to take casualties then retreated through Nieppe to Bailleul. Here they rapidly constructed barricades, alas to no avail and the retreat continued back up to Poperinge. On 21 April George Edwards Woodham found himself at Ouderdom, where Arthur Britton had encamped ten months previously. The camp at Ouderdom on 25 April came under sustained artillery fire and 57 Field Company lost an Officer and 5 Other Ranks killed, including George Charles Edwards Woodham.
George Charles Edwards Woodham, like Leonard Coles, is buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.
WILLIAM EDWARDS WOODHAM 1891 – 1916
At the turn of the twentieth century there were two Edwards Woodham families living at Ringswell, the elder Charles Edwards Woodham, worked as a Carter. One of his sons George Charles, born in 1891 was killed in April 1918 serving with the Royal Engineers. William Edwards Woodham was slightly younger and was the son of John Edwards Woodham, a farm labourer and his wife Mary.
By the time of the 1911 census, both families had left Ringswell, Charles and Emma had moved to Colerne, whilst John and Mary with their five children had moved to Little End by this time, William now aged 16 was working as a Carter on a local farm. He had enlisted in the 1/4 Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry, a Territorial Battalion, and by 9 October 1914 he and his comrades were on their way to India, landing a month later at Bombay. For the next 15 months the battalion was engaged in garrison duties as well as training, latterly based at Nowshera on the North West Frontier. Early in February the battalion received orders to join the Indian Expeditionary Force to Mesopotamia, present day Iraq, then part of the Ottoman Empire. The 1/4 Somerset’s, 27 officers and 705 Other Ranks entrained for Karachi, from whence they sailed, part of 37 Infantry Brigade arriving at Basra on 23 February 1916. Their task was to strengthen the small British/Indian force whose role was to protect the oil fields near the Persian Gulf.
37 Infantry Brigade made their way up the Tigris in barges and then marched over the desert for two days towards the Dijallah Redoubt, a key strategic point defended by Turkish forces. At 06.30 on 6 March the 1/4 Somerset’s, together with1/2 Gurkhas and 92 Punjab Regiment started the assault. There was little cover and the brigade advanced under rifle fire and shrapnel from artillery. Casualties were taken and two platoons of the Somerset’s were sent forward to take out the snipers. Eventually they were driven back losing several of their number, either killed or wounded.
Later in the afternoon at 16.40 another assault was made, but without success. The Somerset’s fell back into their trenches with another 50 wounded. Their first experience of warfare had not been a pleasant experience for 1/4 Somerset’s and certainly not for William Edwards Woodham who received his wounds that day. He was taken back to Basra and thence by hospital ship to Colombo and then onto Military Hospital in Bombay. He died of his wounds on 29 March 1916.
He was buried in the Service Cemetery at Bombay and his name appears on the Commonwealth War Graves Memorial at Kirkee, Northern India.