Saturday 14 October 1916 – We Lost 646
During one of the engagements that were part of the costly Somme offensive, the Cambridgeshire Regiment assaults and successfully captures the Schwaben Redoubt. The Territorial Cambridgeshire ‘Fen Tigers’ under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Edward Pius Arthur Riddell DSO advance under a creeping barrage and are in among the defenders without loss of life. The fierce fight that follows devolves into a hotly contested struggle, commanded by corporals and junior commanders with bayonet and grenade. The German occupants are routed and the Cambridgeshire Regiment goes on to successfully defend the Redoubt for a further 24 hours before being relieved, having beaten back several determined counter-attacks. By First World War standards British loss of life is light, with 218 men killed or wounded. The success is so impressive that General Haig recounts the attack as being “one of the finest feats or arms in the history of the British Army”. For their personal skill and bravery, 41 awards for gallantry will be bestowed on the Regiment.
- Corporal William Benton is killed. His brother was killed last October.
- Corporal Harold Bond is killed at age 22. His brother will be killed in May 1917.
- Private Charles Lambe killed at age 29 less than two months after his older brother died of wounds.
- Private Percy Johnson is killed at age 20. His brother will be killed in October 1917.
- Private David Pert Duncan (Black Watch) is killed at age 27 aiding the Cambridgeshire Regiment at Schwaben Redbout. His brother will die of wounds in June 1918.
At an aerodrome in France a bomb accidentally explodes in the mouth of a dug-out forming a bomb store which contains a large number of bombs packed in wooden cases and a quantity of rockets. Two men are killed by the explosion and another man severely injured when he is thrown down into the store. Dense volumes of smoke pour from the dug-out and there is danger of more explosions. Second Lieutenant Frederick Stuart Smith and Sergeant William Ernest Rhoades (Royal Flying Corps) on hearing a call for help immediately enter the dug-out and succeed in rescuing the wounded man. For their actions both men will be awarded the Albert Medal.
Today’s losses include:
- Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War
- Multiple sons of members of the clergy
- The Secretary and Captain of the Braid Tennis Club
- A nephew of ‘Sir’ J M Barrie, creator of Peter Pan
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Captain Edward Lee (Hertfordshire Regiment) is killed at age 30. He is the son of the Reverend Arthur George Lee Rector of Thrandeston who has already lost another son in October 1915.
- Lieutenant Stanley Arthur Walker (Cheshire Regiment) is killed in action at age 26. He is the son of the Reverend George Walker.
- Lieutenant Harold Eustace Piercy (Quebec Regiment) is killed at age 25. He is the son of the Reverend Canon Charles Piercy.
- Lieutenant William Cowan Ogilvy Barrie (Black Watch) is killed at age 34. He is the Secretary and Captain of the Braid Tennis Club and the nephew of ‘Sir’ J M Barrie, creator of Peter Pan.
- Second Lieutenant Frank Lloyd Sharpin (Bedfordshire Regiment) is killed in action at age 33. He is the son of Archdeacon F L Sharpin.
- Second Lieutenant William Guy Fletcher (South Lancashire Regiment) is killed at age 21. His brother will be killed in October 1918.
- Lieutenant A Mackinnon (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders attached Machine Gun Corps) is killed at age 21. He is the son of the Reverend James Mackinnon.
- Private Samuel Fletcher (Wellington Regiment) dies of wounds received on the Somme at age 23. His brother Harold will also fall in April 1918.
- Private Benjamin Bursey (Newfoundland Regiment) is killed at age 20. His brother will be killed in two years.
- Private Lewis Hudson (Lincolnshire Regiment) is killed. His brother will be killed next month.
- Private Alfred Allen (Black Watch) is killed. His brother in law was killed last month.