Monday 23 April 1917 – We Lost 5,103

by greatwarliveslost

John Eugene Crombie

Second Battle of the Scarpe is begun with an attack by nine British divisions on a 9-mile front, attacking the Chemical Works in Rouex, now defended by three German divisions. The Germans use new armor-piercing “K” ammunition against tank C22 and it is unable to help the 51st Highland Division take the Chemical Works. The 63rd Royal Naval Division attacks Gavrelle and takes the village but not the Windmill on the high ground north of the village. The British take the village of Guemappe but little else and in one day suffered 10,000 casualties.

The 1st Bedfordshire Regiment attacks the village of La Coulotte during the fighting in the Zouave Valley. As the attack moves forward one company becomes trapped between two belts of barbed wire, at some places over 15 feet thick, and an enemy communications trench.  The 4th Bedfordshire Regiment attacks the village of Gravrelle as part of the offensive in Arras. The battalion gains its objectives and consolidates its positions on the northern outskirts of the city.  They are heavily shelled throughout the day and have to fight a heavy German counter-attack but they hold onto their objective.

  • In the attack Corporal Oscar Harold Reid is killed at age 27. His brother was killed in October 1916.
  • Private George Leader (Bedfordshire Regiment) is killed at age 25. His brother was killed in October 1915.
  • Corporal Chris Runham is killed at age 23. His brother was killed in August 1916.
  • Private Jack French (Bedfordshire Regiment) is killed in action at age 20. His brother died of wounds in November 1916.

As dawn is breaking, just before 05:00 Captain Alexander Baird Tyson (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) leads his men out of the trenches and on towards the enemy front line trench and captures it. Following just behind a creeping artillery barrage, they press on towards their final objective over the crest of the hill overlooking Fontaine. At this point, they become bogged down by enemy artillery fire. Reinforcements are sent but to no avail and the Argyll’s have to take up a defensive position to repel a determined counter attack at 10:00. Throughout the day, attempts are made to advance all along the front without success. The enemy continues to press hard and by 07:30 tomorrow the Argyll’s have to withdraw back to their own lines. The attack has been a failure and has cost the lives of 90 members of the Battalion.

  • Captain Tyson the son of the late Reverend Henry Tyson Vicar of Cheadle Hulme is killed at age 21. Second Lieutenant Thomas Douglas Wilson (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) is killed in action at age 26. He is the third son of the late ‘Sir’ John Wilson of Airdrie the 1st His son will be born on 10 June and become the 4th Baronet.
  • Second Lieutenant Arthur Alexander Wilson (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) is killed at age 25. He is the son of the Very Reverend J S Wilson Dean of Edinburgh.
  • Second Lieutenant Malcolm Reid Walker (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) is killed in action at age 23. He is the son of John Cameron Walker, JP.
  • Corporal John Pitcairn (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) is killed at age 26. His brother was killed in June 1915.
  • Captain David Philip Hirsch (Yorkshire Regiment) having arrived at the first objective, and although already twice wounded, returned over fire-swept slopes to satisfy himself that a defensive flank was being established by his men. Machine gun fire was so intense that ait was necessary for him to be continuously up and down the line encouraging his men to dig and hold their position.  He continued to encourage his men by standing on the parapet and steadying them in the face of machine gun fire and counter-attack until he is killed.  He will be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his efforts on this day.

Flight Sub Lieutenant John Joseph Malone (Royal Naval Air Service) while on patrol at about 06:30 attacks a hostile scout and drives it down under control.  He then attacks a second scout which, after the pilot has been hit, turns over on its back and goes down through the clouds.  A third scout, attacked by him from a distance of about twenty yards, descends immediately out of control. While engaging a fourth machine he runs out of ammunition, so returns to the advanced flying ground, replenishes his supply, and at once returns and attacks another hostile formation, one of which he forces down out of control.   With two other machines, Flight Sub Lieutenant Henry George Boswell (Royal Naval Air Service) engages a formation of nine hostile scouts and two-seater machines.  Two of these enemy machines are shot down.

The trawler Rose II (James Wright Royal Naval Reserve) is sunk by a mine in the Belfast Lough. The skipper is lost.

The new Imperial War Cabinet of the George government decided to remove Murray from command in Palestine.

Today’s losses include:

  • The Captain of the Brechin Hearts FC in 1913 and 1914
  • A Military Chaplain
  • A Hemel Hempstead footballer
  • A Humane Society Medal winner
  • Brothers killed together
  • A man whose brother was killed on SS Lusitania
  • A man whose brother was killed on SS Countess of Mar
  • Multiple families that will lose two, three and four sons in the Great War
  • Multiple sons of members of the clergy
  • The son of a Baronet
  • A man whose son will be born in two months
  • Multiple sons of Justices of the Peace
  • A Victoria Cross winner
  • Multiple battalion commanders
  • A member of the Sheffield Rugby Club
  • A Great War Poet
  • The son of a Member of Parliament
  • The son of the Sheriff of Lothians
  • The grandson of a member of the clergy
  • The brother of a Victoria Cross winner
  • The grandson of a Baronet
  • The grandson of a General and Victoria Cross winner
  • The son of an Alderman
  • The son of a General

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Francis Savage Nesbitt Savage-Armstrong DSO (South Staffordshire Regiment commanding 11th Warwickshire Regiment) is killed at age 36. He is a veteran of the South Africa War.
  • Lieutenant Colonel John Willoughby Scott DSO (Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars commanding 8th Somerset Light Infantry) is killed at age 38. He is the son of ‘Sir’ John and Lady Scott.
  • Major Frank William Dust (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 27. He is a member of the Sheffield Rugby Club.
  • Captain John Eugene Crombie (Gordon Highlanders) is killed at age 10. He is the son of J W Crombie MP for Kincardinshire and a Great War Poet.
  • Captain Patrick Alexander Blair MC (Royal Scots) is killed in action at age 37. He is the son of Alexander Blair, the Sheriff of Lothians.
  • Captain John Rankine Brown (Highland Light Infantry) dies of wounds at age 31 in Gaza. His brother will die of wounds next month in Mesopotamia. They are grandsons of the Very Reverend Dr. John Rankine and sons of the Reverend John Brown DD.
  • Captain Arthur Plater Nasmith DSO (Border Regiment) is killed at Monchy-le-Preux, in the Battle of Arras. He is the brother of Captain Martin Nasmith VC.
  • Captain William Grant Spruell Stuart MC (Cameron Highlanders) is killed at age 28. His brother was killed in September 1915 and they are sons of the Reverent W Stuart.
  • Captain John Christopher Frederick Magnay (Norfolk Regiment) is killed while leading his company into the German second line trenches at Vimy Ridge against very heavy shell and machine gun fire at age 20. He is the second son of the late Frederick William Magnay JP for Norfolk. Captain Magnay received his Commission in the Norfolk Regiment in December 1914 joining the Regiment in France in April 1915. He took part in the second Battle of Ypres, and in the Battle of Hill 60. He was severely wounded at Arras in May 1916. After recovering from his wound he returned to France in the following January.
  • Captain Percival Knight Allen (West Yorkshire Regiment) is killed at age 41. He is a veteran of the South African War and his brother was killed on the first day of the battle of the Somme.
  • Captain Seymour Barne MC (Hussars attached Royal Flying Corps) is killed at age 30. His brother will be killed next September and they are grandsons of ‘Sir’ Francis George Hugh Seymour 5th
  • Lieutenant William Howard Proctor DSO (North Lancashire Regiment) is killed at age 23. He is the son of the Reverend William George Proctor.
  • Lieutenant Cecil Arthur Brown (Sherwood Foresters) is killed at age 23. His brother was killed in September 1915.
  • Lieutenant Eric Arthur Barltrop (Royal Engineers attached Royal Flying Corps) is killed at age 27. He is the son of the Reverend A H Barltrop.
  • Lieutenant James Brown Kincaid (Royal Scots) is killed at age 27. His brother John Brown Kincaid will be killed in less than two weeks.
  • Lieutenant Robert Thorburn Adamson Adamson (Royal Scots) is killed in action at age 23. He is the son of the Reverend Robert M Adamson.
  • Lieutenant Francis William Joseph Galton (Devonshire Regiment) is killed at age 21. His brother was killed in October 1914 and they are grandsons of Major General ‘Sir’ Henry Hugh Clifford VC.
  • Lieutenant Alselan Buchanan Nichols (Essex Regiment attached Trench Mortar Battery) is killed at age 22. He is the son of Walter Buchanan Nichols JP.
  • Lieutenant the Reverend Simon Fraser Ross (Gordon Highlanders) is killed at age 29. Lieutenant Frederick Herbert Mark Collier (Lancashire Fusiliers attached Sherwood Foresters) is killed in action at age 27. He is the son of the Reverend Henry Collier Rector of Holdgate.
  • Second Lieutenant Noel Humphrey Roberts (King’s Own Scottish Borderers) is killed at age 23. He is the son of the Reverend Frederick Roberts.
  • Second Lieutenant Alastair Fisher Watson (Black Watch) is killed at age 25. He is the son of the Reverend A Cameron Watson.
  • Second Lieutenant Thomas Penruddocke (Wiltshire Regiment) is killed at Lake Doiran Salonika at age 19. His brother will be killed in October 1918.
  • Second Lieutenant George Lambert (Cameron Highlanders) is killed in action at age 25. He is the son of the Reverend John C Lambert, DD and his brother was killed in March 1916.
  • Second Lieutenant John Jame Morgan (Royal Field Artillery) is killed in action at age 23. His is the son of the Reverend E C Morgan.
  • Second Lieutenant Alexander Vivian Stewart (Gordon Highlanders) is killed in action at age 21. He is the son of the Reverend Alexander Stewart who lost an older son exactly three months earlier.
  • Second Lieutenant Gerald James Hardwicke Cowie (Royal Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 20. His brother will be killed tomorrow.
  • Second Lieutenant George Lionel John Baker (Middlesex Regiment) is killed at age 20. He was a medical student at Oriel College, Oxford and a former Captain of Sherborne School Rugby XV.
  • Second Lieutenant Guy Lesingham Spreckley (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) is killed at age 32. His two brothers have already been killed in the war.
  • Second Lieutenant Walter Weekes (Lincolnshire Regiment) is killed in action at age 23. He is the son of the Reverend William Harvie Weekes.
  • Second Lieutenant Harold Hughes (Royal Field Artillery) is killed in action at age 23. He is the son of the Reverend William Hughes Rector of Hawnby who lost a son of Lusitania and will lose a third a week after the Armistice in a flying accident.
  • Second Lieutenant Mark Sprot MacKay (Cameron Highlanders) is killed. He is the son of the late Reverend Patrick R MacKay DD.
  • Second Lieutenant Fergus N O’Sullivan (North Staffordshire Regiment) is killed at age 20. His brother was killed in June 1915.
  • Second Lieutenant Norman Wilson Green (East Yorkshire Regiment) is killed at age 21. He is the son of Alderman Norman Green JP.
  • Second Lieutenant Benjamin Augustus Westphal (Manchester Regiment) is killed at Vancourt at age 24. He is the son of Bishop Westphal and his brother was killed last May.
  • Second Lieutenant Robert Gellatly (Royal Scots) is killed at age 31. His brother will be killed in July.
  • Second Lieutenant Geoffrey Douglas Lothian Nicholson (Worcestershire Regiment) is killed at age 19. He is the son Major General C Lothian Nicholson CMG.
  • Second Lieutenant Austin Spencer Bourne (South Staffordshire Regiment) is killed in action. He is the son of Alfred Ernest Bourne Vicar of Sutton-at-Hone.
  • Chaplain James Thomas Leeson (attached Royal Fusiliers) is killed.
  • Corporal Alfred George Griffiths (Royal Engineers) is killed I action. His brother will die of wounds in June.
  • Corporal Hugh Dewar Nicholson (Black Watch) is killed at age 22. His brother was killed in May 1915.
  • Corporal Walter Orchard (Royal Field Artillery) is killed in action at age 23. He was a well known local footballer in Hemel Hempstead.
  • Corporal Arthur Rupert Dunn (Worcestershire Regiment) is killed. His brother died on service in Egypt in April 1916.
  • Corporal Roy Albert Wheaton (Australian Light Horse) is killed in Palestine. He was awarded the Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal for attempting to save Captain Benjamin Digby Gibson (Australian Light Horse) from drowning at Hod Masaid Egypt when he brought him in from 100 yards, but the Captain died.
  • Lance Corporal J D Preston (Royal Scots) is killed. His two brothers have previously been killed in the Great War.
  • Lance Corporal Gilbert Carmichael (Royal Scots) is killed at age 24. His brother will be killed in March 1918.
  • Lance Corporal Frederick Harvey Langman Brighton (Royal Fusiliers) is killed at age 23. He is one of four sons of Truman and Agnes Brighton who are killed in the Great War including an older brother who was killed four days earlier.
  • Lance Corporal Thomas Richard Quarterman (Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry) is killed at age 19. He is the middle of three brothers who are killed in the war.
  • Lance Corporal Homer Fraser (Royal Scots) is killed at age 26. He is the third of four brothers who are killed in the war including his twin who was killed on the first day of the battle of the Somme.
  • Private Don Henderson (Seaforth Highlanders) is killed. His two brothers have been killed previously in 1916.
  • Private Sidney Gillson (Yorkshire Regiment) is killed at age 19. His brother was killed in January 1916.
  • Private Samuel Cook (Machine Gun Corps) is killed in action at age 20. His brother will be killed in April 1918.
  • Private George Smith Miller (Central Ontario Regiment) is killed at age 36. His two brothers will also be killed in the Great War.
  • Privates Taylor (age 27) and Laurence (age 30) Boustead (Border Regiment) are killed together. A third brother will die at home in June 1918 at age 30.
  • Private John Earl (Royal West Surrey Regiment) is killed in action at age 22. He has two brothers who will be killed in the Great War.  None of their bodies will be found yet they are all commemorated on different memorials.
  • Private Alfred Vickers (Sherwood Foresters) is killed at age 25. His brother was killed last September.
  • Private Ernest Edward Hewson (Sherwood Foresters) is killed at age 31. His brother will be killed next September.
  • Rifleman Joseph Zimmerman (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) is killed at age 21. He is the second of four brothers who will lose their lives in the Great War.
  • Gunner John Halkerston (“Q” Anti Aircraft Battery Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 26. His brother will die of wounds in April 1918.
  • Gunner Neville Henry Lipscomb (Australian Field Artillery) is killed by shell fire at age 27 less than a month before his brother will be killed.
  • Private Sydney Alfred Withey (Devonshire Regiment) is killed at age 21. His brother will be lost in the sinking of S S Countess of Mar next August.
  • Private B J H Mills (Hampshire Regiment) is killed in action. He is the middle of three brothers who are killed in the war.
  • Able Seaman Frank Cowley (Drake Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Royal Naval Division) is killed at age 28. His brother will be killed in March 1918.
  • Private Andrew Hardie (Cameron Highlanders) is killed in action. His brother will die of wounds in April 1918.
  • Private Walter Fowler (Black Watch) is killed in action at age 28. He is the Captain of the Brechin Hearts Football Club in 1913 and 1914.
  • Private Herbert Wallis (Bedfordshire Regiment) is killed. His brother will be killed in one year and three days.
  • Driver Joe Lomas Fletcher (Army Service Corps) dies on service at home at age 32. His brother was killed in August 1915 on Gallipoli.
  • Private Ernest Curtis (Dorsetshire Regiment) is killed at age 31. His son will lose his life in the Second World War.
  • Rifleman Henry Frederick Bowman (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) is killed. His son will lose his life in the Second World War.
  • Sapper John Mew (Royal Engineers) is killed at age 27. His brother was killed in November 1916.