Monday 4 November 1918 We Lost 2,767 – Highest loss before the war’s end
Lieutenant Wilfred Edward Salter Owen MC (London Regiment attached Manchester Regiment) the world renown war poet is caught in a German machine gun attack and killed at the Olse Canal, north of Ors, France age 25. He is on the Continent teaching until he visits a hospital for the wounded and is deeply affected by this and decides then and there, in September 1915, to return to England and enlist. Owen describes his decision to enlist in the following “I came out in order to help these boys – directly by leading them as well as an officer can; indirectly, by watching their sufferings that I may speak of them as well as a pleader can. I have done the first”. Owen is injured in March 1917 and sent home and when he is deemed fit for duty returns to the front in August of this year. His poems include The Dead Beat, Dulce Et Docorum Est, The Sentry, Anthem for the Doomed Young, Exposure, The Parable of the Young Man and the Old and Strange Meeting. The bells will be ringing on 11 November in Shrewsbury to celebrate the Armistice when the doorbell rings at his parent’s home bringing them the telegram telling them he has been killed.
Uder his helmet, up against his pack,
After so many days of work and waking,
Sleep took him by the brow and laid him back.
There, in the happy no-time of his sleeping,
Death took him by the heart. There heaved a quaking
Of the aborted life within him leaping,
Then chest and sleepy arms once more fell slack.
And soon the slow, stray blood, came creeping
From the intruding lead, like ants on track.
Whether his deeper sleep lies shaded by the shaking
Of geat wings, and the thoughts that hung the stars,
High-pillowed on calm pillows of Gods making,
Above these clouds, these rains, these sleets of lead,
And this winds’ scimitars,
-Or whether yet his thin and sodden head
Confuses more and more with the low mould,
His hair being one with the grey grass
Of finished fields, and wire-scraggs rusty-old,
Who knows? Who hopes? Who troubles? Let it pass!
He sleeps. He sleeps less tremulous, less cold,
Than we who wake, and waking say Alas!
Killed along side Owen this day is Lieutenant James Kirk of the same regiment who will later be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his actions today while attempting to bridge the Oise Canal. To cover the bridging of the canal Lieutenant Kirk took a Lewis gun, and, under intense machine-gun fire, he paddles across the canal on a raft, and at a range of ten yards expends all his ammunition. Further ammunition is paddled across to him and he continuously maintains a covering fire for the bridging party from a most exposed position till he is killed at his gun.
Another Victoria Cross winner Lieutenant (Acting Lieutenant Colonel) James Neville Marshall (Irish Guards commanding 16th Lancashire Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 31. He will be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for most conspicuous bravery, determination and leadership in the attack on the Sambre-Oise Canal, near Catillon. When a partly constructed bridge comes under concentrated fire and is broken before the advanced troops of his battalion can cross Lieutenant Colonel Marshall goes forward and organizes parties to repair the bridge. The first party are soon killed or wounded, but by personal example he inspires his command, and volunteers are instantly forthcoming. Under intense fire and with complete disregard of his own safety, he stands on the bank encouraging his men and assisting in the work, and when the bridge is repaired he attempts to rush across at the head of his battalion and is killed while so doing.
Captain Allen Hepburn and his observer Alexander Tranter (Royal Air Force) score their last two victories of the Great War when they destroy two Pfalz DIII in the Mainvault-Faucaumont area.
The Battle of Vittoria-Veneto ends with the Armistice on the Italian Front. During the battle, the 14th British Corps has captured over 28,000 prisoners and two hundred nineteen guns.
- Captain Thomas Charles Richmond Baker DFC MM (Australian Flying Corps) is killed in action at age 21. He is a twelve-victory ace.
- Captain the Reverend George William Jones (Royal Air Force) is accidentally killed at age 39.
- Lieutenant Henry Michael de Bathe (Royal Air Force) is accidentally killed at Sleaford at age 29. He is the grandson of the late General ‘Sir’ Henry de Bathe Baronet KCB.
- Second Lieutenant John Douglas Lightbody (Royal Air Force) a five-victory ace is killed in action at age 19.
- Cadet Geoffrey William Auden (Royal Air Force) dies at home at age 18 of pneumonia. He is the son of the Reverend Alfred Auden, Church Broughton Vicarage.
- Captain Adam Francis Burdett (South African Service Corps) dies on service in South Africa at age 36. He took part in the 1906-7 South Africa rugby union tour, the original ‘Springbok’ tour. He was awarded two caps for South Africa.
- Captain Burleigh Leycester Muir (Army Service Corps attached III Corps Headquarters) is killed in action. He is the son of Sir Richard and Lady Muir.
- Private John William Moulds (Army Service Corps) dies of illness at Woolwich. His brother was killed in July 1916.
- Private Stephen Owbridge Parish (Army Service Corps) dies on service in Egypt at age 36. His son will be killed 16 September 1942 at Khartoum Airfield in the Sudan attempting to save the life of a passenger on a crashed aircraft and will be posthumously awarded the George Cross for his efforts.
Today’s losses include:
- A world renown Great War Poet
- Multiple Victoria Cross winners
- A Battalion Commander
- Flying ace
- 12-victory ace
- 5-victory ace
- A member of the clergy
- Multiple sons of members of the clergy
- Grandson of a General and Baronet
- A member of the original South African Rugby ‘Springbok’ tour
- Multiple families that will lose two and three sons in the Great War
- A man whose father died on service and whose brother was killed
- A man whose son was previously killed
- A man whose son will be killed in September 1942 performing deeds which will win him a George Cross
- A man whose son will be killed in 1944
- A well known cricketer
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Lieutenant Colonel Edward Frank Harrison CMG DSO (Royal Engineers, Control of Chemical Warfare) dies at home at age 49. His son was killed in July 1916.
- Major Cyril D’Albini Sykes-Banks MC (Royal Garrison Artillery) dies of illness at home at age 29. His father died of illness on service in February 1916 and his brother was killed in April 1917.
- Captain Robert Colvill-Jones MC (Rifle Brigade) is killed at age 22. His brother died of wounds as a prisoner of war in May.
- Captain Francis Jones-Bateman (Royal Welsh Fusiliers) is killed in action two and half years after his older brother has been killed in France. He dies at age 22.
- Captain Rupert Ayrton Hawdon (Royal Garrison Artillery) is killed in action at age 24. He is the middle of three brothers to die in the war the first in 1916 the second later this month.
- Lieutenant Robert Evelyn Sandford Poole (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) is killed at age 22. His brother died of pneumonia in January 1917.
- Second Lieutenant George Augustus Hughes MC (Duke of Wellington’s Regiment) is killed at age 30. He is the son of the Reverend William Hughes of Hawnby Rectory, York who has already lost a son in the war and will lose another later this month.
- Second Lieutenant John McNair Lamb (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 19. He is the son of the Reverend John Lamb.
- Second Lieutenant Robert Stewart White (Royal Field Artillery dies of wounds at age 20 at home. He is the son of the Right Reverend William Charles White Bishop of Honan China.
- Private Martin Leslie Johnson (Essex Regiment) is killed in action at age 19. His brother was killed in October 1917.
- Private Albert Charles Wilson (Labour Corps) dies on service at age 29. His brother was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
- Private Robert Heaford Dempster (Sherwood Foresters) is killed in action at age 19. His brother was killed in April 1917.
- Private Robert Moody (King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) is killed at age 23. His brother was killed in March of this year.
- Private Frederick Ernest Barker (Royal Sussex Regiment). He was a well-known cricketer. Munitions Worker at the Aeroplane Works Richard Sutton Staines dies at home. His brother died of wounds in October of last year.
- Private Percy W Billings (Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment) is killed. His brother was killed in July 1917.
- Private Birkett Stuart (Border Regiment) is killed at age 20. He is the final of three brothers who lost their lives in the Great War.
- Private James Sallis (Machine Gun Corps) is killed at age 32. His brother was killed last month.
- Private Arthur Edmund Potts (Sherwood Foresters) dies on service at home at age 18. His brother was killed two months ago.
- Private Percy Albert Russell (South Lancashire Regiment) is killed at age 34. His brother was killed in May of this year.
- Private Richard Leadbeater (South Wales Borderers) is killed. His brother was killed in October 1916.
- Gunner Alexander Francis Lyall Houison (Canadian Field Artillery) is killed at age 24. His brother was killed in September 1917.
- Private Lewis George Ellis (Sherwood Foresters) is killed in action. His son will be killed in the Second World War in April 1944.
- Private Samuel Needham VC (Bedfordshire Regiment) is accidentally killed by a gunshot at age 33 in Egypt. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions last September at Kefr Kasim, Palestine.