Saturday 23 March 1918 We Lost 3,302
The drifter New Dawn (Ash Jeremiah Woolston Royal Naval Reserve age 37) is sunk by a mine at the entrance to Needles Channel. Her skipper is killed.
West of St Quentin Canal and north of Tergnier Temporary Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Bushell DSO (Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment) personally leads a company of his battalion who are cooperating with an Allied regiment in a counter-attack. In the course of this attack he is severely wounded in the head but continues to carry on walking in front of both British and Allied troops encouraging them and visiting every portion of the lines in the face of terrific machine-gun and rifle fire. He refuses to go to the rear and has to be removed to a dressing station in a fainting condition. For his actions Lieutenant Colonel Bushell will be awarded the Victoria Cross.
Today’s losses include:
- Multiple battalion commanders
- Multiple families that will lose two and three sons in the Great War
- Brothers killed together
- Multiple sons of members of the clergy
- A grandson of Alfred ‘Lord’ Tennyson
- The son of the 2nd Baron Tennyson
- A descendant of Lt Gen Shrapnel inventor of the shell that carries his name
- A Great War ‘almost’ Poet
- A song writer
- The son of a Justice of the Peace
- A man recommended for the Victoria Cross
- A schoolmaster
- The son of the Finance Minister of British Columbia
- The Science Master at Loretto and Abington
- A Baronet
- A Victoria Cross
- A man handed a feather while home recovering from a previous wound and went back to the front before being fully recovered
- A Norwich City footballer
- A Margate Thursday footballer
- A Manchester City Police officer
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Ponsonby Sneyd Hunt CMG DSO (Royal Berkshire Regiment) is killed at age 40 near Manancourt, while leading his men with great gallantry, and for his courage and work on the two days prior to his death he will be recommended for the Victoria Cross. Lieutenant Colonel Hunt joined the Royal Berkshire Regiment in 1897 and saw service in the South African War, during which time he was Commandant at Wildfontein he received the Queen’s Medal with three clasps, and the King’s Medal with two clasps. He was promoted to the rank of Captain while in Egypt and was then posted to the Depot at Reading. He afterwards returned to his battalion in India and was at Jhansi when mobilization was ordered. He went to France with his battalion in 1914 and was wounded early in 1915. When Colonel Finch was killed at the Battle of Fromelles, he took command of his old battalion and was promoted temporary Major in June 1915. He was with his Battalion in the severe fighting at Bois Grenier, in the Battle of Loos. In December 1915 he was appointed to command a Territorial Infantry Brigade, with the temporary rank of Brigadier General, and was shortly afterwards made a CMG. In 1917 he again took over the command of a Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, which distinguished itself in the severe fighting towards the end of the year. He was awarded the DSO and was mentioned in Despatches.
- Lieutenant Colonel John Alan Francis Field (commanding 13th South Wales Borderers formerly commanding 13th Cheshire Regiment) dies of wounds at age 42.
- Acting Major Harold Brown (commanding 4th Yorkshire Regiment) is killed. He is a schoolmaster.
- Major John Garnett Tatlow (Lord Strathcona’s Horse) is killed at age 21. He is the son of the late R G Tatlow Finance Minister of British Columbia.
- Major Sydney Harold Baker (Gloucestershire Regiment) is killed in action at age 37. He was a Science Master at Loretto and Abingdon.
- Captain Jacob Kruse Muller Hessler (Durham Light Infantry) is killed in action at age 21. Two months later his older brother will also be killed in action while serving in the same regiment.
- Captain ‘the Honorable’ Alfred Aubrey Tennyson (Rifle Brigade attached Staff) is killed at age 26. His brother was killed in January 1916 and they are sons of the 2nd Baron Tennyson and grandsons of Alfred ‘Lord” Tennyson.
- Captain Reginald Stafford Saumarez MC (London Regiment) is killed at age 32. He is the son of the ‘Honorable’ Arthur Saumarez.
- Captain Victor George Fleetwood Shrapnel (East Surrey Regiment) is killed in action at age 20. He is a descendant of Lieutenant General Shrapnel the inventor of the shell which bears his name. At seventeen he won an open scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford.
- Captain Llewelyn Albert Edwards (Warwickshire Regiment) is killed at age 23. He is the son of the Reverend Jeremiah John Edwards Vicar of Berrow.
- Captain Theodore Percival Cameron Wilson (General List and Sherwood Foresters) is killed in action at age 29. He is almost an unknown Great War Poet – ‘His Magpies in Picardy’ and other war verse are published but attracted little or no attention until his work is rescued from the oblivion of many years when Field Marshall Lord Wavell included some of the poet’s verse in his own wartime anthology. He is the son of the Reverend Theodore Cameron Wilson Vicar of Little Eaton. His grandfather is the novelist Thomas Percival Wilson. He once wrote in a letter to his mother “War is indescribably disgusting.” His poetry includes, Song of Amiens, A Soldier, during the Bombardment and Heaven.
MAGPIES IN PICARDY
The magpies in Picardy
Are more than I can tell.
They flicker down the dusty roads
And cast a magic spell
On the men who march through Picardy,
Through Picardy to hell.
(The blackbird flies with panic,
The swallow goes with light,
The finches move like ladies,
the owl floats by at night;
But the great and flashing magpie
He flies as artists might.)
A magpie in Picardy
Told me secret things–
Of the music in white feathers,
And the sunlight that sings
And dances in deep shadows–
He told me with his wings.
(The hawk is cruel and rigid,
He watches from a height;
The rook is slow and sombre,
The robin loves to fight;
But the great and flashing magpie
He flies as lovers might.)
He told me that in Picardy,
An age ago or more,
While all his feathers still were eggs,
These dusty highways bore
Brown, singing soldiers marching out
Through Picardy to war.
He said that still through chaos
Works on the ancient plan,
And two things have altered not
Since first the world began–
The beauty of the wild green earth
And the bravery of man.
(For the sparrow flies unthinking
And quarrels in his flight;
The heron trails his legs behind,
The lark goes out of sight;
But the great and flashing magpie
He flies as poets might.)
- Lieutenant Herbert Matheson (London Regiment) is killed in action at age 34. He will be remembered for his series of popular songs, written under the nom de guerre of Herbert Mackenzie, his most popular song is The Trail that Leads to Home which he wrote as a companion song to The Long Long Trail.
- Lieutenant Richard Philip Hearson (Reserve Cavalry attached Lancers) is killed at age 24. His brother will die in September.
- Lieutenant Laurence Stratford (Rifle Brigade) is killed at age 38. He is the son of the Reverend William Thomas Stratford Vicar of Rillington.
- Lieutenant Richard Conyers Norton (Royal Horse Artillery) is killed at age 20. He is the son of the late Edward Norton JP.
- Lieutenant Cecil Harry Edmunds (London Regiment) is killed at age 28. His brother was killed in May 1916.
- Second Lieutenant Vincent George Duckett (Durham Light Infantry) is killed at age 22. His brother was killed last March and a cousin was killed in September 1915.
- Second Lieutenant ‘Sir’ John Watson (Lancers) the 3rd Baronet is killed at age 20.
- Second Lieutenant Victor Lionel Manning (Machine Gun Corps) is killed at age 32. His brother will die of wounds in September.
- Second Lieutenant Ernest Frederick Beal (Yorkshire Regiment) is killed in action by a shell at age 35. He will be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions the previous day.
- Sergeant Ernest Thompson (Royal West Surrey Regiment) is killed in action at age 26. His two brothers George and Francis John also fell.
- Sergeant George McK Mowat (South African Infantry) is killed at age 31. His brother was killed in October 1916.
- Corporal Oscar George Wale (Bedfordshire Regiment) is killed in action at age 23. His older brother was killed in June 1915 while his younger brother will die on service next year.
- Corporal Alfred Burr MM (Royal Engineers) is killed at age 27. He is the son of the Reverend G F Burr whose other son was killed in March 1915.
- Lance Corporal Conrad Alexander Douglas Hawkins (Wiltshire Regiment) is killed in action at age 27. While convalescing at home from a previous wound and in civilian clothes he is reportedly handed a white feather. He is so mortified that he returns to his regiment before he is fully fit and is killed shortly thereafter.
- Lance Corporal William Hornby (Border Regiment) is killed at age 24. His brother was killed in September 1916.
- Lance Corporal William Herbert Feetham (Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry) is killed. His brother died of wounds as a prisoner of war in April last year.
- Private Simon Dunn (Durham Light Infantry) dies of wounds received in action at age 21. His brother was killed in action in June 1915.
- Private Alexander Kay (Machine Gun Corps) is killed in action at age 37. He is a former professional football player with the Norwich City Club.
- Private Frederick Arthur Holdstock (Royal West Surrey Regiment) is killed in action at age 26. His brother was killed in July 1916.
- Private Patrick George Proby (East Yorkshire Regiment) is killed at age 23. His brother was killed in August 1916.
- Henry, 25, and Thomas Fleming, 21, are killed serving with the 93rd Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps and are buried in adjacent graves in Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery.
- Gunner Albert Mark Giles (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 25. His brother will die on service in at home in November 1918.
- Driver Hubert Ernest Dines (Royal Horse Artillery) is killed at age 30. His brother was killed in October 1917.
- Air Mechanic 1st Class Edward Bertram Dewhirst (Australian Flying Corps) is killed at age 28. His brother will be killed in June 1918.
- Driver Peter Corcoran (Royal Field Artillery) dies of wounds at age 22. His two brothers will also lose their lives in the Great War.
- Private Arthur William Robins (South African Regiment) is killed at age 21. His brother was killed last April.
- Private John Charles Rogers (East Kent Regiment) is killed at age 27. He is a member of the Margate Thursday Football Club.
- Private Harry James (Gloucestershire Regiment) is killed at age 27. His brother will die at home on service in June.
- Private Harold Weekes (Somerset Light Infantry) is killed at age 21. His brother was killed in April 1917 and they are sons of the Reverend William Harvie Weekes.
- Private Joseph Henry Frederick Pratt (Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry) is killed at age 29. His brother was killed in May 1917.
- Private Ernest Harrop (Lancashire Fusiliers) dies of wounds at age 20. His brother was killed in January.
- Private and Manchester City Police Officer John Skarratt (Manchester Regiment) becomes the middle of three brothers who are killed in the Great War.
- Private Charles Heyworth (Lancashire Regiment) is killed at age 32. His son will be killed in the Second World War.
- Private Thomas Haywood (Machine Gun Corps) is killed at age 33. He is the middle of three brothers who are killed in the Great War.