Saturday 1 December 1917 We Lost 1,440

by greatwarliveslost

Alastair Malcolm McReady-Diamid

By today the impetus of the German advance is lost, but continued pressure will lead to the German capture of La Vacquerie in two days and the withdrawal of the British from the east of the St Quentin canal. The Germans have reached a line looping from the ridge at Quentin to near Marcoing. Their capture of Bonvais ridge makes the British hold on Bourlon precarious. Gonnelieu southwest of Cambrai is recovered though British forces withdraw from Masnieres as German counter attacks continue at Cambrai. The enemy attacks heavily at Bourlon Wood and claim 4,000 prisoners and 60 guns captured. While attacking Gauche Wood from the south-west the 18th King George’s Own Lancers fight on foot. The tanks that are supposed to accompany them are late in arriving (07:15 hours) and then become lost in the grey morning light. The Lancers though advance into the wood where they find men from the Grenadier Guards already fighting their way in from Gouzeaucourt. Machine gun nests are dealt with by the returning tanks which patrol the perimeter of the wood. To get into the wood the Grenadiers have chosen the tactic of running as fast as they can. The German gunners cannot get the range right and the casualties are light. Still with all of their senior officers gone the Grenadiers put themselves under the direction of the Lancers who organise the consolidation of Gauche Wood.

  • Captain George Henry Tatham Paton (Grenadier Guards) dies of wounds at age 22 while performing acts that will win him the Victoria Cross for his part in numerous counter attacks in the face of heavy machine gun fire until he was mortally wounded.
  • Captain John Bernard Mary Burke (Grenadier Guards) dies of wounds at age 25. He is the son of ‘Sir’ Henry Farnham Burke and the great grandson of John Burke founder, author and editor of Burke’s Peerage.
  • Lieutenant Philip Anthony Assheton Harbord MC (Grenadier Guards) is killed in action at age 20. His brother will die of wounds in July 1918 and a nephew will died of wounds in September 1919.
  • Lieutenant Bertram John Hubbard MC (Grenadier Guards) is killed in action at age 22. He is the son of the Honorable Evelyn Hubbard Member of Parliament for Lambeth and Director of the Bank of England and grandson of the 1st Baron Addington.
  • Second Lieutenant Stephen Hetley Pearson (Grenadier Guards) is killed at age 35. His twin will die on service in Egypt next November.
  • Second Lieutenant Richard Charles Denman (Grenadier Guards) is killed at age 21. He is the grandson of the 1st Baron Denman of Dovedale

Attacking the Quentin Mill (from which General de Lisle had made his hasty exit the day before) the Coldstream Guards and four tanks have little difficulty in gaining their objective though at the cost of three of the tanks. The 3rd Guards Brigade has been given the objective of taking Gonnelieu itself and attack with the Welsh Guards on the right and the Grenadier Guards on the left. The Welsh are brought to a halt at the top of the ridge in front of Gonnelieu with two thirds of their men being downed by the constant stream of fire from German Machine Gun positions in the old British trenches. At this moment the only surviving tank of four with the battalion rolls into action cruising along the trench spraying the Germans with all her Lewis guns. The Germans begin to surrender and the Welshmen seize the opportunity to grab the crest of the ridge. The Grenadiers manage to fight their way into Gonnelieu village but they arrive just as the Germans themselves had been preparing their next assault and are thus feeding the area with reinforcements. Faced by superior numbers the Grenadiers withdraw to a covering position alongside the Welsh Guards.

  • Captain Reginald Percy Loyd MC (Coldstream Guards) is killed in action at age 22. He is the son of the Honorable Mrs. E Loyd.
  • Second Lieutenant Thomas Harry Basil Webb (Welsh Guards) is killed at age 19. He is the son of Lieutenant Colonel ‘Sir’ Henry Webb the 1st Baronet and his nephew Roger Christopher Arthur Watson will be killed in World War II.

At El Burf, Palestine, when the enemy in large number have managed to crawl up to within 30 yards of our firing line and with bombs and automatic rifles are keeping down the fire of our machine guns, Second Lieutenant Stanley Henry Parry Boughey (Royal Scots Fusiliers) rushes forward alone with bombs right up to the enemy, killing many and causing the surrender of a party of 30.  As he turns to go back for more bombs he is mortally wounded at the moment when the enemy is surrendering. He will die of his wounds in three days. For his actions on this day he will be awarded the Victoria Cross.

German East Africa is cleared of enemy forces as Lettow-Borbeck retires across the Rovuma River into Portuguese territory.

Yesterday at the Moeuvres Sector, France, when the enemy penetrated into our position, and the situation is extremely critical, Captain Allastair Malcolm Cluny McReady-Diarmid VC (Middlesex Regiment) leads his company through a heavy barrage and immediately engages the enemy and drives them back at least 300 yards, causing numerous casualties and taking 27 prisoners. Today the enemy again attacks and drives back another company which has lost all its officers. The captain calls for volunteers, and leading the attack, again drives them back. It is entirely due to his throwing of bombs that the ground is regained, but he is eventually killed by a bomb. For his efforts on these two days he will be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

Today’s losses include:

  • A Victoria Cross winner
  • A great grandson of John Burke founder, author and editor of Burke’s Peerage
  • Multiple families that will lose two and three sons in the Great War
  • A man whose nephew will be killed
  • The son of a Member of Parliament and Director of the Bank of England
  • The grandson of the 1st Baron Addington
  • A man whose twin will die on service
  • A grandson of the 1st Baron Dovedale
  • The son of a Baronet
  • The uncle of a man who will be killed in the Second World War
  • A man whose son will be killed in the Second World War
  • Multiple Military Chaplains
  • A battalion commander
  • A man whose daughter will be born next year
  • Multiple sons of members of the clergy
  • The grandson of former Prime Minister Lord Salisbury
  • A Australian Rules footballer
  • The son of a Justice of the Peace
  • One of the Herder brothers memorialized on the trophy to the Newfoundland and Labrador Senior Ice Hockey Champions every year

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Malcolm Docherty DSO (commanding Lord Strathcona’s Horse) is killed in action at age 40 while leading a charge. He served in the South Africa War as a Sergeant.
  • Lieutenant Randle William Gascoyne-Cecil (Royal Field Artillery) is killed in action at age 28. His daughter will be born in July 1918. His two brothers will also be killed during the Great War the first in July 1915 the second in August 1918 and they are sons of the Right Reverend Lord William Cecil Bishop of Exeter and grandsons of the former Prime Minister Lord Salisbury.
  • Lieutenant John Charles William Pinney (Royal Fusiliers attached Central India Horse) is killed at age 21. He is the son of the Honorable Mrs. Pinney.
  • Lieutenant Donald Fairfax Mackenson (HMS Tower) drowns on service with Gunner John Henry Burton DSC. Mackeson is the son of Payton Temple Mackenson, JP.
  • Second Lieutenant Arthur J Herder (Newfoundland Regiment) is killed at age 32. His brother was killed in July 1916 and they are memorialized on the Herder Memorila Trophy which is awarded annually to the Newfoundland and Labrador senior ice hockey Champions.
  • Chaplain the Reverend Thomas Howell (attached Shropshire Light Infantry) is killed in action at age 33.
  • Chaplain the Reverend Oswald Addenbrooke Holden (attached 60th Infantry Brigade) is killed at age 43. He is the Vicar of Penn and the son of the Reverend Oswald Mangin Holden Rector of Steeple Langford who will lose another son in Italy next October.
  • Sergeant Thomas Newby (Welsh Regiment) is killed in Palestine at age 38. His son will lose his life in the Second World War in April 1941.
  • Sergeant Otto Lowenstern (Lord Strathcona’s Horse) is killed at age 28. He is an Australian rules footballer who played with St Kilda in the Victorian Football League. Lowenstern spent both the 1910 and 1911 seasons playing in the VFL. He appeared once in 1910 while playing 11 games in 1911.
  • Corporal Bertram William Bloy (London Regiment) dies of wounds at age 22. His brother was killed in June 1916. Lance Corporal Walter Edwards (Lincolnshire Regiment) is killed in action at age 21. His brother was killed in March of this year.
  • Private Hugh Williams (Newfoundland Regiment) is killed at age 19. His brother was killed in October 1916.
  • Private Percy Freshwater (Essex Regiment) is killed at age 19. His brother was killed in August 1915 on Gallipoli.
  • Private Arthur John Byard (Royal Army Medical Corps) dies of wounds at age 37. His brother will die of wounds next March.
  • Private Thomas Henry Brocklehurst (Army Service Corps) dies on service at home at age 23. His brother was killed in action in October 1915.
  • Private Thomas William Carr (South Staffordshire Regiment) is killed. His brother will be killed in September 1918.