Saturday 27 October 1917 We Lost 573
Lieutenant Arthur Percival Foley Rhys Davids (Royal Flying Corps) is killed in action at age 20. He is the son of Professor T W Rhys Davids. He is a twenty-three-victory ace including the shooting down of Lieutenant Werner Voss, the fearless 20-year-old leader of Jasta 10 and the closest rival to the Red Baron. Another of 56th Squadron’s aces, Cecil A Lewis, was in London when he learned of his comrade’s death. Lewis’ lament for the young Eton graduate might as well have been said for all of his generation, British, French and German who fought in the air or on the ground at the Third Battle of Ypres: “Was this boy the hero of half a hundred fights? I could not reconcile the strange division, till one day, when I had praised him, he shrugged his shoulders: it was our job, he said, we ought to try to do it well, but then the peace came, we would do better. When peace came! I hope the gunner…shot him clean, bullet to the heart, and that his plane, on fire, fell like a meteor through the sky he loved. Since he had to end, I hope he ended so. But oh, the waste! The loss.”
The Third Battle of Gaza begins. Major Alexander Malins Lafone (Middlesex Hussars) dies of wounds received in action at age 47 while holding a position at Gaza for over seven hours against vastly superior enemy forces. After all his men, with the exception of three, have been hit and the trench which he is holding is so full of wounded that it is difficult to move and fire, he orders those who can walk to move to trench slightly to the rear. When finally surrounded and charged by the enemy, he steps in to the open and continues to fight until he is mortally wounded. For his actions on this day he will be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.
- Captain Seymour Van Den Bergh (Middlesex Hussars) is killed at age 27. His younger brother was killed on the Western Front in May 1916.
The six-day bombardment begins with navy guns as well, the largest artillery barrage outside France.
Today’s losses include:
- A Victoria Cross winner
- 23-victory ace and victor of German ace Werner Voss
- Multiple sons of members of the clergy
- The son of a General
- Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War
- The son of a Justice of the Peace
- Multiple men whose sons will be killed in the Second World War
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Lieutenant Philip Henry Franklin Wiseman (North Lancashire Regiment) dies of wounds at age 30. His brother was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and they are sons of the late Reverend Henry John Wiseman Scrivelsby Rectory Lincolnshire.
- Lieutenant Newdigate Owen Burne (Pathans) is killed in action in East Africa at age 19. He was a classical scholar at Uppingham and the son of Brigadier General R O Burne.
- Lieutenant Frederick Thomas Lee Abbiss (Royal Field Artillery) is killed in action at age 23. His brother will be killed in July 1918.
- Second Lieutenant Cyril Herbert Ford Barrowcliff (Leicestershire Regiment) is killed at age 20. He is the son of Herbert Barrowcliff JP.
- Second Lieutenant Cecil Ivor Phillips (Gloucestershire Regiment attached Royal Flying Corps) is killed in action at age 18. He is the son of the Reverend Egbert Ivor Allen Phillips of Clifton College.
- Second Lieutenant Ernest C Bonnet (Royal Marine Light Infantry) dies of wounds. His son will be killed in April 1941.
- Lance Corporal William John Brown (Australian Infantry) is killed at age 27. His brother was killed at the Battle of Jutland.
- Bombardier Albert Frederick Bisson (Royal Garrison Artillery) is killed in action at age 23. His only son will be killed in August 1940 in North Africa serving in the Royal Air Force.
- Private John Harney (Lancaster Regiment) dies of wounds received the previous day at age 31. His brother was killed last August.
- Private David Campbell (Canadian Cameron Highlanders) dies of wounds at age 23. His brother was accidentally killed last month in the Royal Flying Corps