Monday 10 July 1916 – We Lost 1,754

by greatwarliveslost

Mametz Wood July 1916

Mametz Wood July 1916

At 03.30 an artillery barrage opens up on Mametz Wood followed twenty minutes later by a planned smoke screen which drifts from Strip Trench towards the north-east. At a little after 04:00 the 114th Brigade starts to move as they are somewhat further from the Wood. This creates confusion in the 113th Brigade area but Lieutenant Colonel Ronald James Walter Carden (Lancers commanding Royal 16th Welsh Fusiliers) sorts out this in short order and the attack is carried out with “perfect steadiness”.  In the time this takes to sort out the 16th Royal Welsh Fusiliers lose a measure of the cover offered by the artillery fire and subsequently the battalion lose heavily in the advance to the Wood.

  • Amongst the casualties is Lieutenant Colonel Carden who is wounded at the start of the attack but carries on right up to the edge of the Wood where he is killed at age 40. He is the son of the late Lieutenant Colonel ‘Sir’ Frederick Walter Carden the 2nd

On the right the 13th Welsh Regiment come under fire from the machine guns placed in the Hammerhead. They suffer heavy casualties and are beaten back on two occasions but a third attempt is made and they manage to get a foot hold in the Wood. The 14th Welsh Regiment are attacking in the center and are to some extent covered from enfilade fire by the flanking battalions and manage to reach the Wood more or less as the artillery barrage is lifting from the edge.  On the left the 14th Royal Welsh Fusiliers have suffered heavily as it attacks close behind the 16th Royal Welsh Fusiliers and Brigadier Price-Davies commits the 15th & 13th Royal Welsh Fusiliers to the attack almost immediately so that they are then in close support to the battalions already engaged. On the right the 10th Welsh Regiment is added to the attack making a total of seven out of eight battalions of the two brigades engaged in action.  The attack is a success with all the objectives being taken ahead of the schedule. But it has not been without cost. Casualties have mounted throughout the first hour of the attack such that in the seven battalions that went into battle five of the commanding officers have been killed or seriously wounded. Added to this is the loss of many of the junior officers which resulted in the control of the thousands of men in the Wood becoming increasingly difficult.

To the right the Germans reinforce the Hammerhead and this creates havoc for a while amongst the attacking Welshmen. To ease this situation the 15th Welsh Regiment, the eighth battalion to be committed, are sent in to the attack.  Nonetheless, progress is good.  Lieutenant Colonel Hayes (14th Welsh Regiment) succeeds in capturing the center though his right is held up since there was little by way of support. Marden commits the reserves at his disposal to the attack. These are the 17th Royal Welsh Fusiliers who go to support the 113th Brigade on the left and the 10th South Wales Borderers who go to support the 114th brigade on the right of the attack. They arrive in the fighting by about 02:40 and add fresh impetus to the attack such that the 10th South Wales Borderers reach a point to the north of the second cross ride and are able to get patrols out to the northern edge of the Wood.

The 17th Royal Welsh Fusiliers have reached to within 20-30 yards of the northern edge of the Wood and the Hammerhead has been taken by the 10th South Wales Borderers as the German troops are forced to withdraw. The bulk of the Wood east of the central ride is in the Welshmen’s hands though to the west it is necessary to turn a flank along the railway line facing the north-western corner of the Wood.  The rest of the division comes under heavy fire from the German second line and withdraws to the cover of the Wood for some 200 to 300 yards. The day’s fighting ends there but it leaves the men tired and jumpy and throughout the night there is much wild firing.

  • Lieutenant Robert Griffith Rees (Royal Welsh Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 25. He is the son of the late Reverend William Rees.
  • Second Lieutenant Thomas Oliver Thomas (Royal Welsh Fusiliers) is killed at age 22. He is the son of the Reverend David Pritchard Thomas Rector of Llamberis.
  • Second Lieutenant James Victor Sinnett-Jones (Welsh Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 19. He is the son of the Reverend James Sinnett-Jones Rector of Caerwys who lost another son in April of this year.
  • Second Lieutenant Guy Danvers Mainwaring Crossman (Welsh Regiment) is killed at age 31. He is the son of the Reverend Charles Danvers Crossman rector of High Ham.
  • Private Ernest Oliver (Welsh Regiment) is killed three days after his brother was killed. Both brothers are members of the Salvation Army Band.
  • Private Owen Williams (Welsh Regiment) is killed. His brother was killed last April.

An instructional party is throwing live bombs from separate pits when a volley is ordered.  All the bombs are thrown successfully except one, which hits the parapet and is stuck in the mud.  For three or four seconds the accident is unnoticed as everyone is watching the bombs in the air and the man who threw the bomb was too frightened to call out or move. Suddenly Captain ‘the Honorable’ Thomas Charles Fitzherbert (Lancashire Hussars) notices smoke issuing from the parapet and sees the bomb.  He might have placed himself in safety by throwing himself on the bottom of the pit, but seeing that the man would be exposed to the full force of the explosion he picks the bomb out of the mud and throws it clear just as it explodes.  For his actions Captain FItzherbert will be awarded the Albert Medal.

The 64th Field Company Royal Engineers is sent to defend Longueval Alley trench running from Bernafay Wood to Trones Wood.

  • Lieutenant Cyril Arthur Charles Aitkens (Royal Engineers) is killed at age 23. His brother died of wounds in May 1915 and they are grandsons of Alderman ‘Sir’ Henry Knight Mayor of London 1883.
  • Second Lieutenant Humphry Layland Braithwaite (Royal Engineers) is killed at age 31. His brother was killed in November 1914 and their sister will die on service in March 1919 and they are sons of the Reverend Francis Joseph Braithwaite

Today’s losses include:

  • A battalion commander
  • Multiple sons of members of the clergy
  • A son-in-law of a member of the clergy
  • Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War
  • A family that will lose five sons in the service of King and Country the last being killed in the Second World War
  • A member of the Salvation Army Band
  • A grandson of a former Mayor of London
  • A man whose brother and sister will both lose their lives in the Great War
  • A Baronet
  • The son of another Baronet
  • An Marylebone Cricket player
  • A Birkenhead Park Rugby footballer
  • A professor of mathematics at Cork University
  • A Victoria Cross winner
  • A professional footballer
  • The grandson of a General

 Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Major ‘Sir’ Foster Hugh Egerton Cunliffe (Rifle Brigade) the 6th Baronet dies of wounds at age 41. He is the son of ‘Sir’ Robert A Cunliffe and a Fellow of All Soul’s, Oxford, and a distinguished military historian having written The History of the Boer War. He played cricket for Oxford from 1895 to 1898 and in 1897 he made his debut for Middlesex and in 1899 began playing for MCC. Major Oswald Erik Todd (Gurkha Rifles) dies on service in India at age 37.  He is the son of the Reverend Herbert Todd.
  • Captain (Temporary Major) George Frederick Higgins (Liverpool Regiment) is killed at age 36. He is a player for the Birkenhead Park Rugby club.
  • Captain Valentine Gordon Duke (Royal Garrison Artillery) is killed in action at age 28. His brother will be killed in the explosion of HMS Vanguard in one year and one day.
  • Captain Charles Colhoun Chambers (Royal Garrison Artillery) is killed in action at age 27. During the early days of the war he was in charge of the Breakwater Battery, Dover.  He joined the 12th Siege Battery and in March 1915 proceeded to the front.  He was commissioned in 1909 and later went to Hong Kong to work as an interpreter.  His brother will die of wounds in March 1917.
  • Lieutenant E H Harper (South Staffordshire Regiment) is killed. He played Rugby for Dungannon and Queen’s University Belfast. He is a Professor of Mathematics at Cork University.
  • Lieutenant Claud Arthur Leonard Walker (Inniskilling Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 21. He is the son of the Reverend Dr. R Walker of Shankill Rectory.
  • Lieutenant Richard Anthony Ball (Devonshire Regiment attached Worcestershire Regiment) is killed at age 20. His brother will be killed in April 1918.
  • Lieutenant Richard Cameron Knowles (Machine Gun Corps) is killed at age 18. He is the son of the Reverend Cameron Quitter Knowles.
  • Captain Thomas Heathcock (East Yorkshire Regiment) is killed at age 23. He achieved 1st class honours in Part 1 of the Natural Sciences Tripos and Special Prize awarded to the best man of the year at Pembroke College Cambridge.
  • Captain Francis Dodgson (Yorkshire Regiment) is killed in action at age 27 while taking Contral Maison. His brother will die in November 1918.
  • Second Lieutenant Donald Simpson Bell VC (Yorkshire Regiment) is killed at age 25 five days after performing acts that will him the Victoria Cross. He is a former professional football player. Second Lieutenant Edgar Oswald Hart (Yorkshire Regiment) is killed at age 22. He is the son of the Reverend Edgar Edward Hart Vicar of Downholme.
  • Lance Corporal James Rymer (Yorkshire Regiment) is killed at age 20. His brother will be killed in April 1918.
  • Private Joseph Edward Hopton (Yorkshire Regiment) is killed at age 32. His brother was killed last May.
  • Second Lieutenant Herbert Day (Loyal North Lancashire Regiment) is killed at age 35. He is the son of the Reverend Benjamin Day Rector of St Peter’s Sandwich who lost another son in May of this year.
  • Second Lieutenant Charles Ronald Rowley (Lancashire Fusiliers) is killed in action on the Somme at age 22. He is the son of the late ‘Sir’ George Charles Erskine Rowley the 3rd
  • Second Lieutenant Ernest Brooke (Rifle Brigade) is killed in action at age 35. His brother will be killed in less than two weeks and they are sons of the Reverend Henry Brooke Boothby and grandson of Major General John George Boothby.
  • Second Lieutenant Robert Kennedy (Royal Scots Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 20. He is a former medical student at Glasgow University.
  • Lance Corporal Stephen Henry Challen (Loyal North Lancashire Regiment) is killed in action at age 18. His brother was killed in November 1914.
  • Lance Corporal Oswald Edward Tarrant (Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry) is killed in action at age 32. His two brothers will be killed over the next five weeks on the Western Front serving in the same battalion.
  • Lance Corporal Edward Whateley (South Staffordshire Regiment) is killed. His brother will be killed on the 1st
  • Private Thomas Pearson (Wellington Regiment) is killed at age 24. His two brothers will also lose their lives in the Great War.
  • Private Raymond Louis Binns (Yorkshire Regiment) is killed at age 32. He is the son-in-law of the Reverend J Cartman Vicar of Bonby, Hull.
  • Private Arthur Bembridge (Sherwood Foresters) is killed nine days after his two brothers were on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He is 24 years old.
  • Private Herbert Walter George (Norfolk Regiment) is killed at age 20. He is one of five brothers who will lose their lives in the service of King and Country, four in the Great War and the fifth in the Second World War.