Wednesday 31 July 1918 We Lost 424
Captain Thomas Riversdale Colyer-Fergusson VC (Northamptonshire Regiment) will be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for most conspicuous bravery, skilful leading, and determination in attack. The tactical situation having developed contrary to expectation, it is not possible for his company to adhere to their original plan for deployment, and, owing to the difficulties of the ground, and to enemy wire. Captain Colyer-Fergusson finds himself with a sergeant and five men only. His party is then threatened by a heavy counter-attack from the left front, but this attack he successfully resists. During this operation, assisted by his orderly only, he attacks and captures an enemy machine gun and turns it on the assailants, many of whom are killed, and a large number are driven into the hands of an adjoining unit. Later, assisted only by his sergeant, he again attacks and captures a second machine gun, by which time he has been joined by other portions of his company and is enabled to consolidate his position. He is killed by a sniper shortly afterwards. He is killed at age 21 and is the third and youngest son of Thomas Colyer-Fergusson 3rd Baronet. Captain Colyer-Fergusson was intending to go up to Oriel College, Oxford, but when the war broke out he joined the Public Schools Battalion, subsequently obtaining a temporary commission in February 1915, in the Northamptonshire Regiment, and a permanent one in December 1916. He went to France in November 1915, and was wounded at Contalmaison in July 1916, returning to France the following November. He was appointed Acting Captain in January 1917. His brother will die on service in August 1940 serving in the Royal Army Service Corps.
Lieutenant Gerald Anderson and Second Lieutenant Thomas Sydney Chiltern shoot down a Pfalz D III at Fromelles. Lieutenant George Poole and Sergeant Charles Hill (Royal Air Force) bring down a Fokker D VII at Estaires-Merville.
Today’s losses include:
- A Victoria Cross winner
- A 47-victory ace
- A man whose brother will die on service in August 1940
- Multiple families that will lose two and or three sons in the Great War
- A Justice of the Peace
- The son of a Justice of the Peace
- A son-in-law of a member of the clergy
- The son of the Salvation Army Commissioner
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Lieutenant Colonel John Graham Dooner DSO (Royal Field Artillery) is killed in action. He is a South Africa War veteran and his brother was killed in October 1914.
- Major Eric Brown Lees JP (Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry attached Sherwood Foresters) of Thruland Castle, Lancaster is killed in action at age 40. He is the son of Edward Brown Lees JP DL and son in law of the late vicar of Holy Trinity, Southport. He was the Justice of the Peace for Yorks, Lancs and Westmorland.
- Captain George Edward Henry McElroy (Royal Air Force) is killed by ground fire near Laventie at age 25. He is a forty seven victory ace, Ireland’s highest scoring ace and Edward Mannock’s star pupil. He is killed less than one week after his teacher.
- Lieutenant Patrick James Lamb (Royal Garrison Artillery) is killed in action at age 23. He is the son of Commissioner Lamb of the Salvation Army.
- Private Walter Milner (Leinster Regiment) is killed in action at age 19. His brother will die of wounds in April 1918.
- Bombardier E Watmough (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 27. His two brothers have already been killed in the Great War.