Thursday 27 August 1914 – We Lost 237
Etreux is the scene of the Rearguard Affair, in which the 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers are overwhelmed, after making a long resistance, by nine German battalions. The action is a classic example of a rearguard action. It is occasionally given to a brigade to hold up an entire division. A division may stop the advance of an army corps, but for one battalion of infantry, with the aid of a few field guns, to hold up the advance of an entire army corps is probably an incident without parallel in modern warfare. The 2nd Battalion not only holds up the attack of a strong hostile force in its original position, thus securing the unmolested withdrawal of its Division, but its retirement draws on itself the attacks of a very superior number of the enemy. It is cut off at Etreux by five or six times its number, but holds out for hours, the remnant only surrendering when their ammunition is practically exhausted and only a small number of men remain uninjured. When the last shot is fired twelve miles separate the British 1st Army Corps from the 10th German Reserve Army Corps; valuable breathing time and space has been secured. The battalion will suffer over one hundred fatal casualties.
Lieutenant the Honorable Edward Charles Hardinge (Hussars) is severely wounded while performing a reconnaissance under heavy fire for which he will be awarded the DSO. The son of the 1st Baron Hardinge will die of his wounds one week before Christmas Day.
Today’s losses include:
- The brother of author of the children’s book Thomas the Tank Engine Wilbert Vere Awdry
- Grandson of the third in command at Trafalgar
- First Member of the Victorian Order (MVO) to be killed in the War
- Brothers killed together
- Families losing two and three sons
- Sons of Justice’s of the Peace
- Grandson of an Earl
- Grandson of a General
- Sons of clergy
- A holder of the Humane Society Medal for life saving
- A father and son killed together when their fishing drifter is mined
Today’s highlighted casualty is:
Second Lieutenant Carol Edward Vere Awdry of the 2nd Munster Fusiliers is killed leading his men in a charge against the enemy when he shot in the chest. His half-brother the Reverend Wilbert Vere Awdry will achieve fame and fortune as the author of the children’s book Thomas the Tank Engine. They are the sons of the Reverend Vere Awdrey of Box, Wiltshire Vicar of Ampfield. Marlborough House School in Hawkhurst Kent will organize around four team, Awdry, Dunbar, Egan and Hawkins named after the first four boys of the school killed in the Great War.
Other officers and men killed in the Munster Fusiliers today.
- Captain George Norman Simms MVO (Munster Fusiliers) is killed at age 38. He is a South Africa War veteran and the first member of the Victorian Order to die in the war.
- Lieutenant Charles Frederick Phayreis killed at age 23. His brother will be killed in October. They are sons of Lieutenant Colonel Richard Phayre JP DL and grandsons of General ‘Sir’ Robert Phayre GCB.
- Lieutenant Challoner Francis Trevor Chute who is the son of Francis Blennerhassett Chute JP is killed at age 29. He is in command of a machine gun party that fights to the last man.
- Second Lieutenant James Cyril Baptist Crozier (Munster Fusiliers) is killed at Etreux at age 23. He is the son of the Reverend Henry Wilcox Crozier Vicar of St Matthias Stockport and nephew of Archbishop of Armagh, Priamte of All Ireland.
- Brothers and signalers Corporal Charles James Roberts, 23 and Lance Corporal George Ernest Roberts, 21 are killed together and buried in the same grave at Etreux British Cemetery. The Etreux British Cemetery will be made by the survivors of the action on the following day, by permission of their German captors.
Others lost today include.
- Major Stuart Hamilton Rickman (commanding 1st Rifle Brigade) is killed at age 42. Captain Walter Adrian Carnegie Bowden-Smith (Royal Fusiliers) dies of wounds received two days earlier. He is the great grandson of William 7th Earl of Northesk who was 3rd in command at Trafalgar.
- Lieutenant Alexander Patrick Francis Lyon (Gordon Highlanders) is killed at age 26. He is the first of three brothers to die in the war, the third and oldest, a war poet will be killed in May 1915. He is a German, French and Russian interpreter.
- Second Lieutenant J G M Dunlop(Royal Dublin Fusiliers) is killed at age 28. His brother will be killed in April 1915. Corporal Arthur Percy Warwick (Royal Engineers) is killed at age 23. He has been awarded the Royal Humane Society’s Medal for life saving.
- Mrs. Helen Smith of Ianstown, Buckie loses her husband, skipper of the fishing steam drifter “Barley Rig” and her son who is serving as a cook on board when the ship is sunk by a mine off Tyne. Both are named William, the Skipper and father dies at age 35 while the younger Smith dies at age 15. Three other crew members are also lost.