Thursday 20 September 1917 We Lost 4,657
While leading his flight, Flight Lieutenant Arthur Roy Brown (Royal Flying Corps) dives on five Albatross scouts. He picks out one of the enemy machines and opens fire. One of his guns jams, but he carries on with the other. The enemy machine goes down out of control and over on its back and remains in that position for about twenty seconds, while Lieutenant Brown continues firing until his other gun jams. The enemy machine then disappears in the clouds, still on its back. Flight Sub Lieutenant Frederick Ross Johnson (Royal Naval Air Service) while on a bombing raid to Thourout Railway Station comes down to about 3,000 feet and makes particularly good drops.
The Battle of Menin Road is the first of three famous victories using new tactics. At dawn today, after a 5 day bombardment, the Anzacs make a successful attack with two Australian Divisions side by side and supported by a Scottish Division on their left. The British attack on a eight-mile front, among the objectives that are carried are Inverness Copse, Glencorse Wood, Potsdam, Vampire, Iberian and Borry Farms and the strong point known as Gallipoli. German positions are penetrated to a depth of over a mile and Veldhock and the western portion of Polygon Wood along with Zevenkok are captured.
It is here that Second Lieutenant. Frederick Birks (Australian Infantry) VC MM wins his posthumous Victoria Cross at age 23. Birks’ platoon is advancing in Glencourse Wood, Ypres, Belgium when, accompanied by Corporal W Johnston, he rushes forward to attack a pillbox. They are attacked with bombs, and the corporal is seriously wounded in the confrontation. Birks continues alone to reach the rear of the pillbox, forcing the garrison to surrender. Not long afterwards, Birks attacks another strongpoint as a part of a small party, capturing up to sixteen men and wounding nine others. Following the battle, Birks assists in the reorganization and consolidation of the units involved. Tomorrow the enemy begins shelling in response to the movement of artillery burying some men in Birks’ platoon. Birks attempts to dig out these men, “standing exposed”, but is killed by another shell before he can save them.
The Australians reached the lower part of Polygon Wood and Black Watch corner at a cost of 5,000 casualties. They are then relieved and the captured ground is consolidated and a supporting Railway line and plank roads are quickly laid down so that supplies can reach the new front line.
Major Frederick Harold Tubb VC (Australian Infantry) dies of wounds in battle at Polygon Wood, Third Battle of Ypres. In this action Major Tubb serving with 7th Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Australian Division when he is shot by a German sniper. While being carried to the rear he is struck by British artillery shells. He dies at the dressing station at Lijssenthoek at age 35 and will be buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for actions performed at Lone Pine, Gallipoli on 9th August 1915.
Lance Corporal John Thomas ‘Jack’ Cooper (Australian Infantry) is an Australian rules footballer who played for Fitzroy in the Victorian Football League. He is killed today at age 28. In his youth he was a fine cricketer as well as a highly talented footballer, and went on to be a regular player with the Fitzroy Footballers Cricket Club. He is a champion half-back. Recruited from the local team North Fitzroy Juniors, he played his first senior VFL game for the Fitzroy Football Club against Collingwood on 27th April 1907 at Victoria Park. In his first season he played 11 matches and scored 1 goal. In 1912 he was appointed captain of the Fitzroy senior team. He played in the Fitzroy team that won the 1913 premiership by defeating St Kilda in the 1913 Grand Final Match he was one of Fitzroy’s best players in that match. He was the Fitzroy club’s best and considered fairest player in both the 1911 and 1914 seasons and he was the Fitzroy team captain in 1912, and its vice-captain from 1913 to 1915. He also played eight games for Victoria including the match against South Australia at the Adelaide Oval on 10th August 1912, when he captained the Victorian team that lost to South Australia. In his career with Fitzroy he played 136 senior games and scored 8 goals. He played his last senior VFL game for Fitzroy on Saturday 11th September 1915, in the 1915 Preliminary Final.
He enlisted in the Australian Infantry on 8th November 1915 and left for France on the troopship Wiltshire on 7th March 1916. In France, Cooper saw action in the Battle of the Somme. He was only in the trenches for a short time when he was badly gassed and repatriated to England to recuperate. Having recuperate he played for the (losing) Australian Training Units team in the famous October 1916 Exhibition match that was held in London, just before returning to active service in France. Most likely through the effects of the gas, Cooper’s throat continued to give him a lot of trouble (he almost lost his voice) and again, he was repatriated to England.
- Lieutenant Colonel James Joachim Nicholas (Australian Army Medical Corps) is killed at age 26. He is an Australian Rules Footballer who played 1 game for Melbourne University in 1911.
- Lieutenant Morton McLeod Allan (Australian Infantry) is killed in action at age 23. He is the son of the Reverend Thomas Allan.
- Lieutenant Raymond Scott Evert MC (Australian Infantry) is killed. His brother will be killed next September
- Sergeant Gordon Kennedy Bogle (Australian Infantry) is killed in action. He is the last of three brothers of the great grandfather of New Zealand Ambassador Christine Bogle to be killed in the Great War.
- Corporal Charles Percival Shaw (Australian Infantry) is killed at age 21. He is the middle of three brothers who are killed in less than one year.
- Private Ernest William Werner (Australian Infantry) is killed in action at age 21. His brother will be killed in June of next year.
- Private Francis Sutherland (Australian Infantry) is killed in action at age 33. His brother was killed in May of this year.
- Brothers Gilbert, 20, and Thomas Holt, 22 and brothers George Ross, 25, and Theo Leslie Seabrook, 24 are killed by the same shell serving in the Australian Infantry. Another brother Second Lieutenant William Keith Seabrook will die of wounds tomorrow received today serving in the same battalion and same action.
Corporal Jack Thomas Canham (Sherwood Foresters) will be awarded the Military Medal for devotion to duty when in the attack near Zillebeke on this day. He will die of wounds on the last day of October 1918.
Today’s losses include:
- Three brothers killed in the next two days in the same battalion and action
- Multiple Victoria Cross winners
- Multiple Australian Rules footballers
- Multiple sons of members of the clergy
- Multiple families that will lose two and three sons in the Great War
- Multiple battalion commanders
- The brother of a Welsh Rugby International
- An actor
- A military horse riding champion
- Multiple sons of Justices of the Peace
- A man whose sister will die on service in December 1918
- A Military Chaplain
- The great grandfather of a New Zealand Ambassador
- A correspondent for the Westmorland Gazette
- A son of Baron De Vicq
- The 4th place finished in the 200 meters race at the 1908 Olympics
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Lieutenant Colonel David Graham McNicoll DSO (commanding 20th Durham Light Infantry) is killed at age 33. His brother will be killed in November.
- Major John Angel Gibbs DSO (commanding 9th Welsh Regiment) is killed on Menin Road at age 37. He is the brother of Penarth Rugby Club great Reggie Gibbs and a Welsh international. His widow will purchase and furnish the Penarth Hotel which she will then give to the Methodist children’s charity National Children’s Home (NCH). It will become The J A Gibbs Home a nautical branch of the NCH preparing boys, some of which have been orphaned by the war.
- Major Horace Salkeld Green (London Regiment) is killed by a shell splinter near Poelcappelle at age 34. He is a clerk in the House of Commons. Major Green, who had been for some time an Officer in the London Regiment, volunteered for foreign service in August 1914 but was rejected on medical grounds. He finally passed and went to France in January 1917 where he was in command of a company until his death.
- Captain Robert Alan Mudie (Lancashire Fusiliers) is killed at age 31. He is an English actor who is performing in the United States when war breaks out and then returns to join the forces.
- Captain Alfred Langley (Wiltshire Regiment) is killed at age 34. As a sergeant with the Hussars on 11th October 1909 he won first and second prize on two different horses at the Royal Military Tatoo in the horse riding competition.
- Lieutenant Henry Lee Betts (Royal Fusiliers) is killed at age 32. His brother was killed in July 1916 and they are sons of the Reverend John Arthur Betts Rector of Stokesby.
- Lieutenant Knox Gordon Barrett (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 28. He is the son of James Hunter Barrett JP.
- Lieutenant Adam Francis Terrell Shapland (Wiltshire Regiment) is killed at age 22 in the Battle of Menin Road Bridge. His brother died of wounds last November.
- Lieutenant Noel Wiilliam Groom (Yorkshire Regiment) is killed in action. His brother was killed last May. Lieutenant Herbert Cyril Lindop (North Staffordshire Regiment attached King’s Royal Rifle Corps) is killed in action at age 22. He is the son of R C Lindop JP.
- Second Lieutenant Arthur Frederic Wellesely Greeves (North Staffordshire Regiment) is killed at age 26. He is the son of the late Reverend Arthur Greeves.
- Second Lieutenant Vincent Alfred Field (Royal West Surrey Regiment) is killed in action at age 20. His brother will die of wounds in June 1918.
- Second Lieutenant George Douglas Rose (Gordon Highlanders) is killed in action at age 22. He is a former honors student in Economics at Aberdeen University, where he was 1st Secretary of the Peach Society.
- Second Lieutenant John Bentley Freeman (Royal West Kent Regiment) is killed. He is the son of the Reverend Herbert Bentley Freeman Vicar of Burton on Trent.
- Second Lieutenant Charles Harold Lee (Royal Garrison Artillery) is killed in action. He is the son of the Reverend George Samuel Lee Rector of Benniworth.
- Second Lieutenant Charles Harold Wallington (Devonshire Regiment attached Liverpool Regiment) is killed at age 35. He is the son of the late Reverend Charles Wallington.
- Second Lieutenant James Allison (Royal Scots) is killed at age 36. His brother will be killed next month.
- Second Lieutenant Edward Lionel Haversham Whall (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) is killed at age 33. He is the son of the Reverend Edward Havaersham Whall Rector of North Barsham whose daughter will die on service in December 1918.
- Chaplain William Loraine Seymour Dallas (attached Liverpool Regiment) is killed in action at age 33.
- Sergeant Archibald Bernard Claridge (London Regiment attached Royal Fusiliers) is killed. His brothers have been killed over the previous two years.
- Lance Corporal Ulick Lovery (Cheshire Regiment) is killed at age 33. His brother will be killed in October 1918.
- Private Robert Ball (North Lancashire Regiment) is killed at age 21. His brother was killed in December 1915.
- Private Joseph Theode Clare (West Surrey Regiment) is killed at age 21. His brother died of wounds 3 days ago.
- Private Thomas Burton (King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment) is killed in action at age 30 at Gravenstafel Ridge, Ypres. His brother was killed in August 1915. He was the Cartmel correspondent for the “Westmorland Gazette”.
- Private Arthur Duroe (Cameronians) is killed in action. His brother will be killed two days before the Great War ends.
- Private Percy Edwin Stanford (Liverpool Regiment) is killed at age 25. His brother was killed in April 1915.
- Rifleman Ernest Elmo De Vicq (Liverpool Regiment) is killed at age 19. He is the son of Baron De Vicq.
- Private Ernest Wingrove (London Regiment) is killed in action at age 23. His brother was killed in August 1916.
- Private George Miles (Royal Fusiliers) is killed. His brother was killed in June 1916.
- Private John Keelinge Deakin (South African Infantry) is killed at age 39. He is the son of the Reverend Keelinge A Deakin.
- Private Robert Roland Perfect (Lancashire Fusiliers) dies of wounds at age 20. His brother died of wounds one month ago.
- Gunner George Albert Hawkins (Royal Garrison Artillery) is killed. He competed in the 1908 Summer Olympics in the 200 meters where he finished fourth.
- Private B E Davies (Durham Light Infantry) dies of wounds at age 24. His brother died of wounds in March 1916.
- Private Geoffrey Trevor-Roper (Royal Fusiliers) is killed at age 31. He is the brother of Charles Cadwalader Trevor-Roper who was killed last month.
- Private Kenneth Hart Hamblin (West Surrey Regiment) is killed at age 23. His brother was killed in October 1914.
- Private Kenneth Colin Rochester (Royal Scots) is killed at age 36. His son will be killed in September 1944.