Thursday 12 April 1917 – We Lost 1,532
By today the Canadians are firmly in control of Vimy Ridge. Forced to the bottom of the hill, the Germans are unable to launch a successful counterattack. This night, under the cover of darkness, the Germans withdraw from the area.
When in command of a Lewis Gun section on the most exposed flank of an attack Corporal John Cunningham’s (Leinster Regiment) section comes under heavy enfilade fire and suffers severely. Although wounded he succeeds almost alone in reaching his objective with his gun, which he gets into action in spite of much opposition. When counter-attacked by a party of twenty of the enemy he exhausts his ammunition against them, then, standing in full view, he commences throwing bombs. He is wounded again, and falls, but picks himself up and continues to fight single-handed with the enemy until his bombs are exhausted. He then makes his way back to our lines with a fractured arm and other wounds. For his actions Corporal Cunningham will be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross as he will die in hospital from the effects of his wounds at age 26.
Today’s losses include:
- A Victoria Cross winner
- A General
- The son of a General
- The son of the 1st Baron Ailwyn
- A grandson of the 2nd Baron Hylton (a survivor of The Charge of the Light Brigade)
- The second husband of a woman whose first husband was killed in January 1915
- Multiple families that will lose two and three sons in the Great War
- A battalion commander
- The son of the Master of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge
- A Rhodes scholar
- The son of Member of Parliament
- A Military Chaplain
- The son of an Alderman
- The son of a member of the clergy
- A South African Rugby International
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Brigadier General Charles Gosling CMG General Officer Commanding 10th Brigade 4th Division is killed in action at age 48. A shell kills him shortly after a sniper has shot and killed his
- Brigade Major Hedworth George Ailwyn Fellowes MC (Lancers, Indian Army Probyn’s Horse) at age 25. He is the son of the 1st Baron and Lady Ailwyn and grandson of Hedworth Hylton Joliffe 2nd Baron Hylton who survived the charge of the light Brigade at Balaclava. His three brothers become in succession the 2nd, 3rd and 4th His widow was widowed earlier in the war when Captain Maurice Howard Helyar was killed in January 1915.
- Major Charleton William Gordon-Steward (Northumberland Fusiliers, Staff Brigade Major 198th Infantry Brigade) is killed in action at age 40. His Brigadier is wounded and will die of those wounds tomorrow. He is the son of Brigadier General C Steward Gordon-Steward.
Forty-eight men of the Bedfordshire Regiment are killed in the capture of La Folie Ferme and the village of La Bergere during the attack on Monchy-Le-Preux.
- Sergeant Walter Reginald Norris who dies of wounds at age 28. His brother will be killed next December.
- Lance Sergeant Frank John Benger is also killed at age 23. His brother will be killed in October.
- Lieutenant Colonel Sidney Goss Mullock (commanding 2nd Essex Regiment) is killed in action.
- Captain (Acting Major) William Hammond Smith (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at Athies, near Roeux in the Battle of Arras at age 31. He is the son of the late Master of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, was an exceedingly promising artist and student of the Royal Academy London. He was also a keen athlete and rowed crew for at his college. A large shell bursts close to his battery and a splinter enters his head rendering his unconscious and he dies before reaching the dressing station.
- Lieutenant John Clarkson Tredgold MC (Royal Scots) a Rhodes Scholar is killed at age 21.
- Second Lieutenant Arthur Max Spencer (Rifle Brigade) is killed in action at age 19. He is the son of Herbert Spencer MP.
- Chaplain the Reverend Thomas Glasfryn Jones (attached South Wales Borderers) dies of wounds at home at age 33.
- Chaplain John Charles Edmunds-Davies (Welsh Fusiliers) dies of wounds received three days earlier at age 23. He is the son of Alderman Walter Davies.
- Second Lieutenant Bertram Warner (London Regiment) is killed at age 28. He is the last of three brothers who are killed in the war.
- Second Lieutenant Charles Arthur Boileau Elliott (Somerset Light Infantry) is killed at age 24. He is the son of the Reverend Charles Lister Boileau Elliott Rector of Tattingstone.
- Sergeant Septimus Heynes Ledger (South African Infantry) is killed at Arras at age 26. He took part in the 1912-13 South Africa rugby tour and was awarded four caps for his country.
- Corporal John Harrington (Border Regiment) is killed at age 22. His brother was killed a year ago.
- Corporal William H Mossop (South African Infantry) is killed in action. His brother died of wounds in East Africa in March 1916.
- Corporal Walter Edmiston Broadbent (South African Infantry) is killed in action at age 27. He has two brothers who will be killed later in the Great War, the first in January 1918 the second in June 1918.
- Private Percy James Robins (South African Infantry) is killed at age 19. His brother will be killed in 1918.
- Private John Richard Siggee (Lincolnshire Regiment) is killed in action at age 27. His brothers were killed together in September 1915 serving in the same battalion.
- Private William Henry Lee (Lincolnshire Regiment) is killed at age 24. His brother will be killed in September next year.
- Private G Dick (Saskatchewan Regiment) dies of wounds at age 19. His brother will be killed in October 1918.
- Private Alfred Edgar Hoper (Leinster Regiment) is killed at age 28. His brother was killed in May 1915.