Great War Lives Lost

We died 100 years ago in the War to end all War

Category: Imperial Camel Corps

Saturday 30 March 1918 We Lost 1,535

John Graham Antill Pockley

Lieutenant Alan Jerrard (Royal Flying Corps) flies an offensive patrol with Lieutenant Peter Carpenter and Lieutenant Harold Eycott-Martin patrol over the Austro-Hungarian Mansue aerodrome.  Lieutenant Jerrard attacks five enemy airplanes and shoots one down in flames, following it down to within one hundred feet of the ground.  He then attacks the enemy aerodrome from a height of fifty feet from the ground, and, engages single handed some nineteen machines, which are either landing or attempting to take off, succeeding in destroying one of these, which crashes on the aerodrome.  A large number of machines then attack him, and while occupied he observes that one of the pilots of his patrol is in difficulties.  He immediately goes to this pilot’s assistance, regardless of his own personal safety and destroys a third enemy machine.

Fresh enemy airplanes continue to rise from the aerodrome, which he attacks one after another, and only retreats, still engaging five enemy machines, when ordered to do so by his patrol leader.  Although wounded, this very gallant officer turns repeatedly, and attacks single-handed the pursuing machines, until he is eventually overwhelmed by numbers and driven to the ground and made a prisoner.  For his actions Lieutenant Jerrard will be awarded the Victoria Cross.

The Battle of Moreuil Wood is an engagement that takes place on the banks of the Arve River in France, when the Canadian Cavalry Brigade attacks and forces the German 23rd Saxon Division to withdraw from Moreuil Wood, a commanding position on the river bank. This defeat contributes to the halt of the German Spring Offensive.

At 08:30 General John Edward Bernard Seely and his aides travel towards the Moreuil woods from where his forces are stationed on the other side of the River Avre, with orders to cross the river and delay the enemy advance as much as possible.  At 09:30, upon reaching the wood, having received fire from German forces that are occupying it, Seely orders the Royal Canadian Dragoons to send sections to protect the village of Moreuil, while other sections are to seize the northeast corner of the wood itself.  While this was being undertaken, Lord Strathcona’s Horse is ordered to occupy the southeast face of the wood and disperse any German units found there.  The remaining squadrons of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade are ordered to enter the wood from the northwest, and sweep through it towards the eastern face where Lord Strathcona’s Horse is awaiting them.  After being driven back from their first assault by machine gun fire, the cavalry units dismount and proceed to attack a second time with fixed bayonets, driving German forces from the edge of the wood and into the center.  Hand to hand fighting breaks out in several locations with swords and pistols as Canadian forces fight through the German 101st Grenadiers, who became disorganized and demoralized.

As Canadian cavalry fight through the wood, they are driven eastwards by German machine gun fire while units of the Canadian Dragoons are forced to wheel into the woods at the north due to German attack.  This quickly became a series of separate engagements due to the nature of the battlefield, with units separated and dispersed inside the German formations, and the fact that horses are ineffective in the woodland leads to the pace of the battle slowing down considerably.  By now the remainder of the 3rd Cavalry has crossed the river and is distributed around the wood to support various Canadian forces currently engaged with German forces, many of these reinforcements are instructed to dismount before entering the battle.  At this time, units from Lord Strathcona’s Horse are formed into scouting teams of about ten men each and sent to discover details about the enemy forces and positions.

The commander of ‘C’ company Lord Strathcona’s Horse, Lieutenant Gordon Muriel Flowerdew, orders his forces to secure the northeast corner then report back to him.  Flowerdew is then ordered to cut off the German forces retreating to the east in the face of the Allied forces advancing through the wood.  During this time, the forces dispatched by Flowerdew to the northeast corner ambush and killed German forces looting a French wagon, then proceeding to dismount and entered the wood under fire.  Flowerdew arrives, assesses the situation, and decides that his unit should move to cut off the German retreat while the other section will help to drive the Germans from the wood.

By now there are six squadrons of cavalry in the wood, planes from the Royal Flying Corps are also attacking German forces from overhead, dropping 109 bombs and firing 17,000 bullets.  Cavalry forces approach the southwest corner of the woods, coming under heavy fire and suffering heavy casualties, they are forced to temporarily halt.  Flowerdew reaches high ground at the northeast corner of the wood just in time to encounter a 300 strong German force from the 101st Grenadier’s who are withdrawing.  Flowerdew orders “It’s a charge boys, it’s a charge!” however the bugler Trooper Reginald George Longley is killed at age 22 after raising his trumpet to blow the call silenced by German fire before it is sounded. During the charge nicknamed “The Last Great Cavalry Charge”, both sides are decimated, and Flowerdew is dangerously wounded through both thighs, with only 51 of his unit still alive. Tomorrow Lieutenant Flowerdew will die of wounds and he will be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his efforts on this day.

By 11:00 only the southern point of the wood is still occupied by German forces.  With reinforcements arriving for the British, Seely orders the remaining Germans to be driven away.  Seely orders British artillery fire into the wood to cease so he can operate without fear of friendly fire.  The Germans are routed from the wood, and the day ends with 305 Allied casualties but the wood was in Allied hands. This battle causes the destruction of the Moreuil Castle, an estate of the family of Rougé, inherited from the Lords of Créquy, Princes of Poix and dukes of Lesdiguières. Among those killed in the Royal Canadian Dragoons is

  • Lieutenant Albert Victor Seymour Nordheimer killed at age 33. His adopted son will be killed in the Royal Canadian Air Force on 17th August 1944 at age 20.

Today’s losses include:

  • A Victoria Cross winner
  • Multiple sons of Baronets
  • Multiple sons of members of the clergy
  • Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War
  • Brothers killed together
  • A man who has two brothers-in-law killed
  • The son of the Earl of Kimberley
  • The brother of the first Australian Army officer killed in the Great War
  • The son of a Justice of the Peace
  • A man whose adopted son will be killed in the Second World War

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Major Edward Fairlie (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) is killed in action at age 36. He is the son of the late William Fairlie JP.
  • Major Denys Huntingford Hammonds DSO MC (Royal Engineers) is killed leading a charge at age 30. He is the son of the Reverend Prebendary Edwin Hammonds.
  • Captain Douglas Raymond Montford (Indian Infantry attached Vaughan’s Rifles) is killed in Palestine at age 29. He is the son of the Reverend Henry C Montford.
  • Captain John “Punch” Arnott MC (Hussars) is killed in action at age 32 he is the son of ‘Sir’ John Alexander Arnott the 2nd Baronet and Lady.
  • Captain Herbert Basil Hinson (Canterbury Mounted Rifles) is killed in Damascus at age 24. He is the son of the Reverend Stanley Hinson Vicar of Te Ngawai Christchurch.
  • Captain James Ogilvie Grant Stuart MC (Black Watch) is killed at age 25. His brother was killed last September.
  • Lieutenant John William Church (Hertfordshire Regiment) is killed at age 39. He is the eldest son of ‘Sir’ William Selby Church Baronet KCB late President of the Royal College of Physicians, London.  He became District Commissioner on the Gold Coast in 1907.  Lieutenant Church enlisted in the Public Schools Battalion Middlesex Regiment in August 1914, and received a commission in the Hertfordshire Regiment in March 1915. He served as Acting Captain, Assistant Adjutant, and Musketry Instructor in England in 1916, and went out to France in August 1917. The Hertfordshire Regiment then formed part of the 19th Corps under Brigadier-General Congreve VC and took part in the retreat which began on 21st He is killed while leading the remnants of his battalion in one of the last counter-attacks made on the enemy. Lieutenant Angler Percy Hurd (Hertfordshire Regiment) is killed.  His brother was killed in September 1916.
  • Fleet Paymaster Bertram Howard Wodeman (HMS Benbow) drowns at Scapa Flow at age 42. He is the son of the Reverend Henry Wodeman Vicar of Peckforton.
  • Lieutenant John Graham Antill Pockley (Australian Infantry) is killed at age 26. His brother was the first Australian Officer killed in the Great War in September 1914.
  • Second Lieutenant ‘the Honorable’ Edward Wodehouse MC (Lancers) is killed in action at age 19. He is the son of the 2nd Earl of Kimberley and had attended Eton. His brother will die on service in 1919.
  • Sergeant Allan Cormack (Australian Infantry) dies of wounds at the 56th Casualty Clearing Station at age 26. His two brothers-in-law will lose their lives in the Great War.
  • Trooper Norman Harold, 24, and Lance Corporal Stanley Campbell, 21, are killed while serving with the Australian Infantry attached Imperial Camel Corps near Amman. The brothers are buried in adjacent graves in Damascus Commonwealth War Cemetery.
  • Private William M Dickson (Black Watch) is killed at age 19. His brother was killed in May 1915.

Tuesday 4 December 1917 We Lost 556

Stanley Boughey VC

Bourlon Wood is evacuated by the British.

There are minor actions north of Jaffa and on the Jerusalem road.  At El Burf when Turkish soldiers in a large number manage to crawl up within 30 yards of the British firing line and with bombs and automatic rifles are keeping down the fire of the British machine-guns, Second Lieutenant Stanley Henry Parry Boughey (Royal Scots Fusiliers) dies of wounds received three days earlier performing actions for which he will be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

The 11th and 14th British Corps take over from the Italians the Montello sector of the Piave River front, with the French on their left.  The Montello sector acts as a hinge to the entire Italian line, joining that portion facing north from Mt. Tomba to Lake Garda with the defensive line of the Piave River covering Venice, which is held by the Third Italian Army.  The British troops in this sector will not be involved in any large operations, but they will carry out continuous patrol work across the Piave River, as well as much successful counter battery work.  The Piave will prove to be a very serious obstacle, especially in the wintertime, the breadth opposite the British front being considerably over 1,000 yards and the current fourteen knots.  Every form of raft and boat will be used, but wading will prove to be the most successful method of crossing, in spite of the icy coldness of the water.

Today’s losses include:

  • A Victoria Cross winner
  • A battalion commander
  • Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War
  • Multiple sons of members of the clergy

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Lieutenant Colonel John Maxwell MC (Rifle Brigade commanding 7th King’s Royal Rifle Corps) is killed at age 36.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Henry Charles Rochfort-Boyd (Royal Horse Artillery) dies of wounds received three days before near Cambrai at age 40. He is the son of Colonel C A Rochfort-Boyd CMG.
  • Major Norman Cecil Ingpen (Machine Gun Corps) is killed at age 23. His brother died of wounds in June 1916 in East Africa.
  • Captain Anthony Dalzell Clark (Essex Regiment) dies of wounds at age 23. He is the son of the Reverend Harold Clark.
  • Corporal Leslie Reed Langtry (Australian Light Horse) is killed in action at age 27. His brother was killed in October last year.
  • Corporal James Greer Gould Fairbairn (Imperial Camel Corps) is killed near Jerussalem at age 31. He is the son of the Reverend William David Fairbairn.
  • Private Frank Veasey (South Staffordshire Regiment) dies at age 20. His brother will be killed next April.
  • Private Josiah Hayman (North Devonshire Yeomanry) is killed in Palestine at age 20. His brother was killed last August.

Tuesday 13 November 1917 We Lost 594

George Leonard Trapp

In Palestine at 14:30 orders are received for the 6th Mounted Brigade 52nd Division to capture Mughar Ridge. On the ridge are two prominent spurs, the Bucks Yeomanry is to attack the right hand spur and the Dorset Yeomanry the left hand spur. At 15:00 the Bucks Yeomanry emerges from the wadi to cross some 3,000 yards of open shot-over ground to reach their objective. The Dorset Yeomanry also emerges on their left to cover some 4,000 yards of similar ground. A squadron is ordered to gallop the spur and then attack dismounted. B and C Squadrons follow to where the dismounted horses are being held, dismount, fix bayonets and also charged up the hill. The Dorset Yeomanry takes their spur, captures eight machine guns and many prisoners.

  • Captain Richard Buller Kitson (Vaughan’s Rifles) is killed at age 32 in the battle. He is the son of the Reverend John Buller Kitson Rector of Lanreath.

Among those wounded who will die as a result of their wounds who will die of their wounds this week

  • Major Evelyn Achille de Rothschild (Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars)
  • Captain Neil James Archibald Primrose MC PC MP (Buckinghamshire Hussars) age 34 and the son of the 5th Earl of Rosebero the former Prime Minister. He is the Privy Councillor and Member of Parliament for Wisbech Division Cambridgeshire since 1910.

Yebna is about 64 kilometers north of Beersheba and 19 kilometers south of Jaffa, on the Gaza-Jaffa railway line.  The Imperial Camel Corps and Yeomanry capture it on this day.

Flight Commander Joseph S T Fall (Royal Naval Air Service) again successfully engages three enemy machines.

Today’s losses include:

  • A Member of Parliament
  • The son of a former Prime Minister
  • A 6-victory ace
  • Multiple families that will lose two, three and four sons in the Great War
  • The brother-in-law of Raymond Collishaw VC
  • Multiple sons of members of the clergy
  • A well known acrobat family member

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Flight Sub Lieutenant George Leonard Trapp (Royal Naval Air Service) is killed in action at age 24. The six-victory-ace is the second of three brothers who will die while serving in the Air Forces during the Great War. His sister is married to Raymond Collishaw VC.
  • Gunner George Herbert Headlam (Royal Garrison Artillery) is killed on the Western Front at age 40. He is the son of the Reverend Alfred Headlam.
  • Sapper Charles Forrest Patterson (Canadian Engineers) is killed at age 21. He is the son of the Reverend J R Patterson Pastor of Simpson Avenue Methodist Church.
  • Private John Huggan (British Columbia Regiment) is killed at age 33. His brother was killed last June and their cousin will die of wounds less than one week before the Armistice is signed next November.
  • Private Lhassan Houssein (South Wales Borderers) is killed at age 35. He is a member of the well-known Houssein family of acrobats.
  • Private N Davidson (King’s Own Scottish Borderers) is killed at age 26. He is the last of four brothers who are killed in the Great War.

Wednesday 7 November 1917 We Lost 752

      Walter Sterndale Bennett

Abu Hareira is about midway on the road from Beersheba to Gaza, in front of the Wadi el Sheria.  The Turkish lines here are attacked and captured by the 10th, 60th (London) and 74th (Yeomanry) Divisions. British forces finally captured the deserted and ruined city of Gaza after two previous unsuccessful attempts.

At Sheria, Palestine, under most difficult conditions, in darkness and in an unknown country, Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Drummond Borton (London Regiment) deploys his battalion for attack and at dawn leads his attacking companies against a strongly held position.  When the leading company waves were checked by withering fire, he moves freely up and down the line under heavy fire and then leads his men forward, capturing the position.  At a later stage he leads a party of volunteers against a battery of field guns in action at point-blank range, capturing the guns and the detachments.  For his actions this day he will be awarded the Victoria Cross.

The Allied Supreme War Council is created at Rapollo, Italy.

Today’s losses include:

  • A grandson of the composer ‘Sir’ William Sterndale Bennett
  • A man whose brother will die on service in the Second World War
  • The son of a Justice of the Peace
  • Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War
  • Multiple sons of members of the clergy
  • A Military Chaplain

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Commander Walter Sterrndale-Bennett DSO (Drake Battalion, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve) dies of wounds received in action three days before at age 24. His brother will die on service in 1941 at age 51 in the East Kent Regiment. They are great grandsons of the composer ‘Sir’ William Sterndale Bennett.
  • Captain Harry Cormac Walshe (Royal Field Artillery) is killed. His brother died of wounds in November 1914 and they are sons of Edward Cormac Walshe JP DL.
  • Lieutenant George Walpole Winthrop Denman-Dean (Royal Marines) is dies of wounds at age 21. He is the only son of the Reverend Richard Denman-Dean Rector of Woodbridge.
  • Second Lieutenant Andrew Reid Muir (Royal Field Artillery) dies of wounds. He is the son of the Reverend J Muir.
  • Second Lieutenant Bernard Robert Hadow Carter (Royal Flying Corps) is killed at age 19 in an accident at home. He is the son of the Reverend James Octavius Holderness Carter Rector of Slymbridge.
  • Battery Sergeant Major Nelson Godfrey (Royal Garrison Artillery) dies on service at age 36. His brother died on service on the last day of last month.
  • Private W O Reece (Nova Scotia Regiment) is killed at age 19. His brother was killed in October 1916.
  • Trooper John Stanley Friend (Imperial Camel Corps) dies of wounds in Palestine at age 21. His brother George also fell.
  • Chaplain the Reverend William James Dunbar (attached Australian Light Horse) is killed in Palestine at age 37.

Tuesday 6 November 1917 We Lost 1,904

           John Fox Russell VC

The 1st and 2nd Canadian Divisions having taken over the front, relieving the 3rd and 4th Canadian Divisions respectively begin an attack on Passchendaele. Less than three hours after the start of the assault, many units have reached their final objective lines and the town of Passchendaele has been captured.

  • Captain William Gilson (Western Ontario Regiment) is killed at age 33. His son Air Observer Edmond William John Gilson will be killed serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force on 28th August 1942.
  • Lieutenant Montague Lewis Farmar-Cotgrave (Eastern Ontario Regiment) is killed in action at age 25. His brother will be accidentally killed next month.
  • Corporal Benjamin Thomas Gunning (British Columbia Regiment) is killed at age 25. His brother was killed in April 1915.
  • Lance Corporal Walter Ralph Woods (Manitoba Regiment) is killed at age 19. His brother was killed in September 1916.
  • Private Edwin L. Gardiner (221st Canadian Expeditionary Forces) one of two brothers of the future Premier of Saskatchewan to be killed in action dies at the battle of Passchendale.
  • Private Donald Farquharson (Manitoba Regiment) is killed in action. He is one of four brothers who are killed in the Great War.

At Passchendaele, when his platoon is held up by a machine-gun, Private James Peter Robertson (Manitoba Regiment) rushes the gun, killing four of the crew and then turns the gun on the remainder. After inflicting more casualties and carrying the captured gun, he leads his platoon to the final position and gets the gun into action, firing on the retreating enemy. During the consolidation his use of the machine-gun keeps down the enemy sniper fire. Later when two of the snipers on his own side are wounded, he goes out and carries one of them in under heavy fire but he is killed just as he returns with the second man. For his actions this day he will be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

Chetwode attacks Sheria and wins the battle in one day, used Stokes mortars against trenches, and over the next days widens the gap in the Turkish defense lines.

  • Lieutenant Colonel Algernon Carteret Thynne DSO (commanding Royal North Devon Hussars) is killed in Palestine at age 49. He is a veteran of the South African War.
  • Captain Edward Stanley Russell MC (Herefordshire Regiment) is killed at age 34 at Beersheba. He is the son of the Reverend T R Russell and is a Great War Poet.
  • Captain Hanbury L Kekewich (Sussex Yeomanry) becomes the third and final brother to be killed when he loses his life in Palestine at age 32. His brothers were killed in September 1915 and two weeks ago.
  • Captain Cyril Mortimer Green (Sussex Regiment) is killed at age 29. He is the son of the Reverend Thomas Mortimer Green.
  • Captain George Manley (Royal Welsh Fusiliers) is killed in Palestine at age 22. He is the son of the Reverend Henry Jones Manley Rector of Llanbedrog.
  • Captain Evan Jones (Welsh Fusiliers) is killed at age 36. He is the son Arthur Jones JP.
  • Captain Edward William Walker DSO (Welsh Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 25. He is the son of the late Reverend William Greaves Walker Rector of Knockin.
  • Captain Randolph William Creswell (Imperial Camel Corps, Australian) is killed at Beersheb. He is the son of Rear Admiral William Rooke Creswell KCMG KBE OBE who has already lost one son in the Great War.
  • Captain Walter Lionel Carver (Herefordshire Regiment) is killed in action at age 34 in the Middle East. He is the son of Thomas Carver, Justice of the Peace.
  • Corporal Hiram Wilfrid Moulson (Sussex Regiment) is killed in action in Palestine at age 30. His brother will die of wounds as a prisoner of war in November 1918.
  • Private D Ellis (Herefordshire Regiment) is killed in Palestine at age 25. He is one of four sons of James and Elizabeth Ellis of Leominster to lose their lives in the Great War.

Captain John Fox Russell VC MC (Royal Army Medical Corps attached Welsh Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 24. At an early age, he passed the examination for a scholarship at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was educated for a few years before attending St. Bees School in Cumbria. While at School he was an enthusiastic member of the Officer Training Corps. He joined the Middlesex Hospital when only sixteen years of age and it was while he was in London that he joined the University of London Officers Training Corps, obtaining a commission in the Royal Welch Fusiliers in 1914. He was with them in camp when war was declared. Being anxious to qualify, he was seconded in order to complete his medical studies. After obtaining his degrees, he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps, and was attached to a battery of the Royal Field Artillery. He later re-joined his old regiment Royal Welsh Fusiliers and went out to Egypt as medical officer. In the First Battle of Gaza he won the Military Cross. He was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross at Tel-el-Khuwwilfeh, Palestine. Captain Russell repeatedly went out to attend the wounded under murderous fire from snipers and machine-guns, and in many cases, when no other means were at hand, carried them in himself, although almost exhausted. He showed the greatest possible degree of valour. His brother will be killed one week after the Armistice serving in the Royal Air Force.

Today’s losses include:

  • Multiple Victoria Cross winners
  • The brother of a future Premier of Saskatchewan
  • A man whose son will be killed in the Second World War
  • Multiple families that will lose two, three and four sons in the Great War
  • Multiple battalion commanders
  • Multiple sons of members of the clergy
  • A Great War Poet
  • Multiple sons of Justice of the Peaces
  • The son of an Admiral
  • The son of a General
  • A Rhodes scholar
  • A Gartshore United footballer

 Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Durham Murphy DSO MC (commanding 2nd Leinster Regiment) is killed at age 27.
  • Captain Claud William Hamilton (Royal Garrison Artillery) is killed in action at age 27. He is the son of the Reverend Dr. Frederick John Hamilton, joined the Artist Rifles in 1914 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in 1915.  His brother was killed in July 1916.
  • Captain Leopold George Frederic Fawcett (Scots Fusiliers) is killed at age 28. He is the son of Lieutenant Colonel J and the Honorable Mrs Faucett.
  • Captain Alfred Terence Leatham Richardson (Somerset Light Infantry) is killed at age 25. He is the son of the Reverend Alfred Richardson.
  • Lieutenant Gerald Charles Edward Gloster (Devonshire Regiment) is killed at age 20. He is the son of Brigadier General Gerald Meade Gloster CMG.
  • Lieutenant Walter Power (South African Horse) is killed at age 28. He is a Rhodes Scholar.
  • Second Lieutenant James Allan Christie (Royal West Surrey Regiment) dies at home at age 25. He is the son of the Reverend James Allan Christie Vicar of Thornton le Moor.
  • Lance Corporal Leonard Jarvis (Sussex Regiment) is killed at age 20. His brother was killed in April 1915.
  • Private Gordon Rupert Waters (Australian Army Medical Corps) is killed in action at age 20 serving as a stretcher-bearer at Dickebusch, near Ypres. His brother was killed in April 1915 on Gallipoli.
  • Private Robert Scott (Black Watch) is killed in action in Egypt at age 24. He played football for Gartshore United.
  • Private William Rippin (Sherwood Foresters) is killed at age 25. His brother died of appendicitis in October 1915.
  • Private Ernest Maiden (Welsh Fusiliers) is killed in Palestine. He is the last of three brothers who are killed in the Great War.

Tuesday 8 May 1917 – We Lost 1,141

Wilfred Wharton Parr

Flight Commander Van Reyneveld is named commander of 45th Squadron.

HMS Milne (Commander V L A Campbell) rams and sinks the German submarine UC-26. The hired Yacht Zarefay (Lieutenant Alfred Stephen Gilbert) strikes a mine and sinks with the loss of sixteen one mile northeast of Mull Head Deerness. Her commanding officer is among those lost.

Today’s losses include:

  • A member of the Pottery Cricket Club
  • Multiple sons of members of the clergy
  • Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Captain Wilfred Wharton Parr MC (Gloucestershire Regiment) is killed in action at age 44. He is the son of the late Reverend Robert Parr Vicar of St Martin’s, Scarborough.
  • Lieutenant Cyril Percival Baker (Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry) is killed in action in Greece. His brother was killed in July 1916.
  • Second Lieutenant Charles Cecil Watt (King’s Own Scottish Borderers) is killed at age 22. He is the son of the Reverend Charles James Watt.
  • Second Lieutenant Monague William Sandoe (Devonshire Regiment) is killed at age 21. His brother will be killed in August 1918.
  • Sergeant Francis Edward Brown (Canadian Engineers) is killed at age 34. His brother was killed last September.
  • Private George Charles Keeley (Gloucestershire Regiment) is killed at age 31. His younger brother will be killed in just over 3 months.
  • Trooper William Michael McDonald (Imperial Camel Corps) dies of septic poisoning in Cairo at age 23 from wounds received in Palestine. He is the author of Soldier Songs from Palestine which will be published posthumously and many unpublished verses on Australian scenes, national dreams and hopes.
  • Private William Albert Tapp (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed at age 20. His brother will be killed next April.
  • Private James Liggett (North Staffordshire Regiment) is killed at age 27. He is a member of the Pottery Cricket Club.

Thursday 19 April 1917 – We Lost 2,083

Walter Torrie Forrest

The first Battle of Gaza is a fiasco for the British after the commander, General Charles Dobell, makes the decision to withdraw when his troops are in a position to seize victory.  Turkey, encouraged by victory during the first battle last month resolve to stand upon the Gaza-Beersheba line so that by the time the British are prepared to renew their assault, the Gaza fortifications are even stronger than before. The battle becomes another costly defeat for the Allies and results in the dismissal of the commander of the Eastern Expeditionary Force, General Archibald Murray, who has conducted the campaign in Egypt and Palestine since January 1916.

In their communications with the War Office, Generals Murray and Dobell, commander of the Eastern Force, have falsely portrayed the first battle of Gaza as a success and gave every indication that a quick resumption of the offensive would have immediate and positive results. Dobell planned a typical Western Front attack with two days of preliminary bombardment followed by a frontal infantry assault on the enemy trenches. The experienced combat commanders, General Philip Chetwode, commander of the British Desert Column, and General Henry Chauvel, commander of the Anzac Mounted Division, are less optimistic about the chances of breaking the Turkish line.  The infantry component of General Dobell’s Eastern Force has expanded since the first battle to four infantry divisions the 52nd (Lowland), 53rd (Welsh) and 54th (East Anglian) divisions plus the recently formed 74th (Yeomanry) Division which is made up of brigades of dismounted cavalry serving as infantry. The mobile component remains the Desert Column which comprised the Anzac Mounted Division and the Imperial Mounted Division plus the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade. The 74th Division and Anzac Mounted Division would remain in reserve during the battle.

In keeping with the “Western Front” flavor of the battle, the British introduce poison gas and tanks to the eastern battlefield for the first time. Two thousand gas shells and six tanks are available. While the tanks are certain to be deployed, doubts remain about whether to use gas due to operational concerns.  It is estimated that the Turkish forces occupying the Gaza-Beersheba defenses number between 20,000 and 25,000.

As the infantry attack is about to commence, the guns concentrate on the Ali Muntar strong point, south east of Gaza. This includes the firing of gas shells for the first time.  One result of the prolonged bombardment is to provide the Turks with ample warning that a major attack is imminent, giving them plenty of time to finalize their defenses. Another deficiency in the British plan is that all their artillery is concentrated on bombarding the defenses, leaving no guns available for counter-battery work against the Turkish artillery which is therefore uninhibited in its shelling of the Allies line.

The attack opens on this morning 07:15 when 53rd Division advances on the extreme left (west) of the front, aiming for the sand dunes between Gaza and the Mediterranean shore. This is followed shortly after by the 52nd Division (155th and 156th Brigades) attacking in the center against Gaza and Ali Muntar and the 54th Division (161st and 162nd Brigades) attacking on the right between Gaza and the “Tank” Redoubt.  One of the tanks is destroyed while in support of the infantry.  All along the front the infantry are brought to a halt well short of their objectives while suffering heavy casualties from shrapnel shells and machine gun fire.

The five surviving tanks are deployed at various points along the front, rather than as a single unit. In most cases, the only discernible effect of their presence is to attract concentrated artillery fire which makes their proximity perilous for the infantry. However, one tank operating to the right of the 54th Division on the front facing a strong redoubt that will become known as “Tank” Redoubt, does enable the infantry to make their most significant gain of the battle.  Facing “Tank” Redoubt is the 161st Brigade of the 54th Division. To their right are the two Australian battalions (1st and 3rd) of the Imperial Camel Corps Brigade who have dismounted about 4,000 yards from their objective. As the infantry goes in to attack at 07:30 they are joined by a single tank called “The Nutty” which attracts a great deal of shell fire. The tank follows a wayward path towards the redoubt on the summit of a knoll where it is fired on point blank by four field guns until it is stopped and set alight in the middle of the position.

The infantry and the 1st Camel Battalion, having suffered heavy casualties on their approach, now make a bayonet charge against the trenches. About 30 members of the Imperial Camel Corps and 20 members of the Norfolk Regiment reach the redoubt, then occupied by around 600 Turks who immediately break and flee towards their second line of defenses to the rear.

The British and Australians hold on unsupported for about two hours by which time most have been wounded. With no reinforcements at hand and a Turkish counter-attack imminent, the survivors attempt to escape back to their own lines. To the right (west) of Tank Redoubt, the 3rd Camel Battalion, advancing in the gap between two redoubts, actually makes the farthest advance of the battle, crossing the Gaza-Beersheba Road and occupying a pair of low hills (dubbed “Jack” and “Jill”). As the advances on their flanks falter, the ‘Camels’ are forced to retreat to avoid being isolated.

The eastern-most advance is made against the Atawineh Redoubt and the neighboring Sausage Ridge. This line is made up, from left to right, of the Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade and the 3rd Light Horse Brigades and the 5th Mounted (Yeomanry) Brigade of the Imperial Mounted Division, commanded by General Hodgson. Hodgson’s orders are to ‘demonstrate’ against the Turkish positions to prevent them withdrawing reinforcements to Gaza but also to advance strongly if the opportunity presents itself. Dobell had visions of breaking through the Turkish line on the flanks and sending his mounted reserves through. Consequently the secondary attack upon Atawineh is pushed hard and at great cost in casualties.

The 3rd Light Horse Brigade begins its advance before dawn and, attacks along the spine of the Atawineh ridge, manages to approach to within 800 yards of the redoubt before being sighted. However, their advance is premature so that the units on their flanks are still well behind. They manage to close to 500 yards during the day but get no further. The 4th Light Horse and 5th Mounted Brigades manage similar advances on their sectors but nowhere are the Turkish trenches reached and given the inferior position of the attackers, there is no prospect of making a successful bayonet charge. The eastern flank of the British line is guarded by the brigades of the Anzac Mounted Division. The northern-most unit on the flank is the Wellington Mounted Rifle Regiment of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade whose front lay along Sausage Ridge. They advance in support of the 5th Mounted Brigade.

In the afternoon the line of the Imperial Mounted Division is reinforced when the 6th Mounted (Yeomanry) Brigade comes forward from where it has been in reserve. With all reserves committed, there is still no possibility of a successful assault. In fact, so unstressed was the Turkish defense that their artillery has guns to spare for counter-battery work against the horse artillery.  By noon the attack has faltered at all points. Any small gains made are too thinly occupied to be held for long. In most places the Turkish defenders are content to hold the British at a distance and inflict casualties as they approach. Only in the west along the coast do they mount a counter-attack to attempt to recapture a position and are defeated by the British.

At 15:00 the British headquarters intercepts a Turkish message stating that the Gaza garrison is not in need of reinforcements. By this time the British have committed most of their immediate reserves to the attack so, assuming the message is not a deception, it is clear that there is no prospect of success.

The second battle of Gaza is a disastrous defeat for the British. They make no progress, inflict little damage and suffer heavy casualties that they cannot easily afford. The main losses are amongst the British infantry who are called upon to attack the strongest position.  For failing to achieve the promised success on the second attempt, both General Murray, Commander-in-Chief of the Palestine campaign, and General Dobell, the army commander of Eastern Force, are quickly replaced. The War Office resolves to supply the Palestine campaign with adequate resources and capable commanders to ensure future success. Murray is replaced by the General Edmund Allenby, whose forces are expanded to contain three full army corps; two of infantry and one mounted. Dobell is replaced by General Chetwode as commander of the Eastern Force.

Today’s losses include:

  • Multiple families that will lose two, three and four sons in the Great War
  • A battalion commander
  • A Harwick Rugby FC player and Scotland Rugby International
  • A man whose twin is killed
  • The son of a future Prime Minister
  • Brothers killed together
  • The son of a Baronet
  • Two men whose brothers will be killed in 1943
  • Multiple sons of members of the clergy
  • A grandson of two members of the clergy
  • A cousin of Laurence Olivier
  • A son-in-law of a member of the clergy
  • The son of a Surgeon General
  • The brother of a Victoria Cross winner
  • A member of the Bonnybridge and East Stirling Cricket Clubs
  • The Musical Director of the Devonshire Park Theatre Eastbourne

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Bernard Salwey Grissell DSO (commanding 1st/5th Norfolk Regiment) killed at age 37. His brother was killed last September. Lieutenant Colonel Grissell received his commission in the Norfolk Regiment in 1899, and served throughout the South African War, being present at the Relief of Kimberley, and at the Battles of Paardeberg, Poplar Grove, and many other engagements. He received the Queen’s and King’s Medals with five clasps. He was appointed extra ADC to the King during the Indian tour of 1911, and in 1913-14 he was Attaché to the Army Headquarters, India, QMG.’s branch. In 1915 he was appointed DAAG, and the following year he received the DSO, and was given the command of a Territorial Battalion of his own Regiment.
  • Major Walter Torrie Forrest (King’s Own Scottish Borderers) is killed at age 37. He is Rugby Union player for Hawick RFC and capped for Scotland from 1903 to 1905.
  • Second Lieutenant Eric John Gardiner (Norfolk Regiment) killed at age 20. His twin brother will be killed in the sinking of HT Leasowe Castle next year.
  • Lieutenant Charles John Bonar Law (King’s Own Scottish Borderers) is killed at age 20. He is the son of the Right Honorable Andrew Bonar Law, future Prime Minister.  His brother will be killed next September.
  • Second Lieutenant Archibald Ainslie (King’s Own Scottish Borderers) is killed at age 23. His brother will be killed next month in France.
  • Privates Charles James and Austin George Rudram (Norfolk Regiment) are killed together in Palestine. Austin dies at age 32.
  • Private George Zachariah Barnard (Norfolk Regiment) is killed at age 25. He is the middle of three brothers who are killed in the Great War.
  • Captain Charles Grant Seely (Hampshire Regiment) is killed leading an advance on a Turkish position at age 22. He is the son of the 2nd Baronet and his younger brother will be killed in May 1943 serving in the Royal Air Force.  Their cousin was killed less than one week ago on the Western Front.
  • Captain Eustace Henry Cubitt (Norfolk Regiment) is killed at age 27. His two brothers were killed together on Gallipoli in August 1915.
  • Lieutenant Stephen Gilbert Ratsey (Hampshire Regiment) is killed in action in Palestine at age 24. His two brothers were killed in Gallipoli in August 1915.
  • Rifleman Arthur Stanley Chiverton (Hampshire Regiment) is killed at age 23 at Gaza. His brother will be killed next November.
  • Captain Alexander Kenelm Clark-Kennedy (King’s Own Scottish Borderers) is killed in Palestine at age 33. His brother will be killed in September of next year.
  • Lieutenant Harry Olivier Sumner Gibson (London Regiment) is killed at age 31. He is the grandson of the Reverend Henry Arnold Oliver Rector of Poulshot and the Reverend W Gibson Rector of Fawley and son in law of the Reverend John H Townsend. His first cousin is Lord Laurence Olivier and is an enthusiastic Alpinist.
  • Second Lieutenant Alexander Tweedie (King’s Own Scottish Borderers) is killed at age 34 two days after his brother was killed on the Western Front.
  • Second Lieutenant ‘The Reverend’ William Barton Campbell (King’s Own Scottish Borderers) is killed. His brother will be killed in two weeks.
  • Captain A E Beck MC (Norfolk Regiment) is killed in Palestine at age 31. His two brothers are also lost in the Great War the first in August 1915 the other in August of this year.
  • Major St John Lucius O’Brien Acheson ffrench Blake (Lancers, Indian Army attached Worcestershire Hussars) is killed in Palestine at age 28. He is the son of the Reverend Robert ffrench Blake who will have another son killed in North Africa in May 1943.
  • Captain Henry Ivan De Burgh Wilson (Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment) is killed in action at age 30. He is the son of Surgeon General ‘Sir’ William Wilson KCMG.
  • Captain Robert Leslie Murray (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed in Palestine at age 24. He is the son of the late Reverend Arthur H Murray.
  • Second Lieutenant Geoffrey George Leadbitter (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed. He is the son of the Reverend Dr. William Oram Leadbiter Rector of West Walton.
  • Lance Corporal Phillip John Woodman Burros (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed at age 18. He is the son of the Reverend T S Burros.
  • Lieutenant Frank Eric Throssell (Australian Light Horse) is killed in action at age 34. His brother, a Victoria Cross winner at Gallipoli, is wounded in the same action.
  • Trooper Solas Nassau (Imperial Camel Corps) is killed in Gaza at age 30. He is the foster son of the Reverend F B Oldham.
  • The merchant vessel S S Sowwell (Alexander Frederic Walton) is sunk by a torpedo 170 west of Gibraltar. Twenty-one including the master are killed.
  • Lieutenant Harold Francis Hughes-Gibb (Royal Field Artillery) is killed in action at age 25. His older brother has been killed while also serving in the Royal Field Artillery in 1916.
  • Second Lieutenant Charles Leslie Symond (Royal Engineers) is killed at age 18. His brother will die on service in February 1919.
  • Second Lieutenant Jack E Hewison (Royal Scots) is dies of wounds at age 21. He is the son of the Reverend John R Hewison, former pastor at Somersham Baptist Chapel.
  • Sergeant Ralph Murray Elrington (Australian Infantry) is killed in action at age 22. His older brother will be killed in three weeks.
  • Corporal Thomas Stanley Brighton (Norfolk Regiment) is killed at age 37. He is one of four sons of Truman and Agnes Brighton who fell in the Greatl War.
  • Lance Corporal John Albert Crane (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed at age 28. He is the middle of three brothers who will be killed in the Great War.
  • Private Alexander Stewart (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) is killed in action. He was a member of the Bonnybridge and East Stirling Cricket clubs.
  • Private Alfred Charles Doubleday (Essex Regiment) is killed at age 23. His brother will be killed in September 1918.
  • Private Frederick Parkins (Bedfordshire Regiment) is killed at age 34. His brother will be killed in August 1918.
  • Private James Hancock (Bedfordshire Regiment) is killed. His brother was killed in May 1915. Private Alfred Thomas Emmerson (Border Regiment) is killed at age 27. He is the musical director of the Devonshire Park Theatre Eastbourne.
  • Private Alexander Reid (Central Ontario Regiment) dies of wounds at age 24. He is the second of four brothers who are killed in the war.

Tuesday 9 January 1917 – We Lost 560

Second Battle of Kut

Second Battle of Kut

The Battle of the Khadairi Bend is fought as a prelude to the main offensive at the Second Battle of Kut.  The highly fortified Turkish defenses at Khadairi Bend are positioned in two deep trench lines at the north of Kut in a loop of the River Tigris along the left bank. The British operations are overseen by newly-installed regional Commander-in-Chief ‘Sir’ Frederick Maude.

British sappers began to dig positions underneath the Turkish lines back on 22nd December 1916 with the objective of capturing the Turkish outposts. Within two weeks they had succeeded in digging to within just 200 meters of the Turks’ eastern position.  Following a series of diversionary attacks launched along the Tigris the last two days and preceded by an unusually effective artillery bombardment, a major British assault against the town is begun.

British progress is good in the face of impressive Turkish opposition.  Khadairi Bend itself will fall, after heavy fighting (including two concerted Turkish counter-attacks), on 29 January.

With Kut secured the following month Maude briefly paused before continuing onwards to seek the politically spectacular capture of Baghdad, which duly falls in early March.

  • Lieutenant Colonel Henry Francis Dundas Stirling MC (Indian Army Reserve of Officers commanding 59th Scinde Rifles) is killed in action at age 33.

The Battle of Magruntein (or Battle of Rafah) begins. At 07:00 the Turkish garrison is isolated by the cutting of the telegraph lines to Gaza and the British horse artillery batteries commenced firing on the redoubts.  The bombardment begins at 09:30 and ends thirty minutes later.  Around 10:00 a party of Turks attempt to escape up the road towards Gaza but are intercepted by the Canterbury Regiment of the New Zealand brigade who capture 171 prisoners. The attack commences with the dismounted troops advancing from the east and south.  The 3rd Light Horse and 5th (Yeomanry) Brigades are initially held in reserve but are quickly sent to join the attack so that by 11:00 a ring of infantry is advancing on the Turkish positions.  However the Turks are in a strong defensive position and their redoubts are ideally placed to provide supporting fire for each other. The Turkish position is located at El Magruntein, about one mile south of the Rafa police post on the border. A bare hill, named Hill 255, dominates the surrounding country which is utterly devoid of cover.  The Turks have constructed four redoubts; one on the summit of Hill 255 and three more to the west, south and east of the summit, named “A”, “B” and “C” Redoubts respectively.

By 12:15 the New Zealanders have closed to within five hundred meters of the enemy trenches but they can make no further progress.  In most places the attacking troops are exposed to direct fire from the redoubts so a constant stream of fire is maintained on the Turkish parapets to protect them. As the afternoon wears on the attacker’s ammunition begins to run low. When their machine guns begin to run out of ammunition the quartermaster of the Wellington Mounted Rifles brings up 24,000 rounds of small arms ammunition at the gallop while the Inverness Battery of the horse artillery runs out of shells and has to withdraw.

General Chetwode is now becoming worried. Prisoners have told him that he is facing 2,000 Turks, supported by four mountain guns and by German machine gunners, and that another regiment is on its way to reinforce the garrison. Chetwode calls for a last concentrated effort by all assault forces.  Chetwode and Chauvel are well aware that the Anzac Mounted Division comprises the majority of the mounted troops available to the British in the Egyptian theatre and consequently they are not willing to sustain significant casualties.

he attack gains no ground, and by 16:00 the situation is critical. Chetwode decides to break off the attack.  Orders for the withdrawal are issued, and some assault units immediately pull back.  However, the withdrawal order has not reached Chaytor.  At the same time Chetwode is issuing his withdrawal order Chaytor issues orders for a brigade advance.   From the north, the three regiments of the New Zealand brigade charge over a mile against the main redoubt on Hill 255. At the same time, the camel brigade charges from the south against the ‘B’ Redoubt. Seeing these attacks going in, the 1st Light Horse Brigade moves in from the east against the ‘C’ Redoubt. In all cases when the attackers get into the Turkish trenches, the defenders quickly surrender and as each redoubt was taken, the resistance from the other redoubts diminishes until by nightfall the entire position has been captured.

The Turks facing the New Zealand Mounted Rifles charge surrender but German machine gunners on the right flank fire into the New Zealanders, causing several casualties. The mounted riflemen immediately bring up machine guns and, covered by their fire, climb out of the captured redoubt and attack the next one. However before they reach their objective the garrison stands up as one and surrenders.  With the loss of the vital high ground, the lower enemy positions are immediately rendered indefensible, and they quickly collapse.  The Australian light horsemen and the Imperial Camel corps quickly secure the remaining enemy positions. By 17:15 it is all over.                                                                                                                                           At 18:30 the Desert Column withdraws to Sheikh Zowaiid, where it spent the night. The Anzac Mounted Division’s field ambulances remain on the battlefield overnight to collect the last of the wounded, protected by two regiments of light horsemen. The British have suffered 71 killed and 415 wounded among the dead is

  • Private Frank Robert Morse-Kincaid (Imperial Camel Corps) killed in action at age 21. His brother will be killed in August next year.

The Turks have lost about 200 killed, 162 wounded and 1,473 unwounded prisoners. This battle clears the Turks out of the Sinai desert in Egypt, and General ‘Sir’ Archibald Murray is authorized an advance into Palestine.

The battleship HMS Cornwallis is sunk sixty miles southeast of Malta by three torpedoes fired by the German submarine U32.  Fourteen crewmen are killed.

Six Royal Flying Corps aircraft bomb Beersheba airfield, the first of five raids carried out over the next week.

Today’s losses include:

  • A battalion commander
  • Multiple families that will lose two and three sons in the Great War
  • The son of the 4th Earl of Bradford
  • The son of a Member of Parliament
  • The son of a General

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Commander ‘the Honorable’ Richard Orlando Beaconsfield Bridgeman DSO (Royal Navy, HMS Hyacinth) drowns at age 37 when the engine of his Short 826 fails near Kiombini while flying from HMS Himalaya in East Africa. He is the son of the 4th Earl of Bradford.
  • Major Gilbert Horsman Soames (West Yorkshire Regiment) is killed in action at age 37. He is son of Arthur Wellesley Soames MP and he had served in the Lancashire Fusiliers during the South African War. His brother was killed in September 1916.
  • Captain and Adjutant William John Arbuthnot (Indian Army Reserve of Officers attached Sikhs) is killed in action at age 31. He is the son of the late General ‘Sir’ Charles Arbuthnot GCB.
  • Captain Herbert Raymond Wilson (Mahrattas) is killed in action in Mesopotamia at age 22. He is the last of three brothers to die in the Great War the others both dying in September 1915.
  • Second Lieutenant William Walter Campbell (Manchester Regiment) is killed in action at age 24. His brother was killed in May 1916.
  • Acting Bombardier John Curtis (Royal Field Artillery) is killed. He is one of three brothers who are killed in the Great War.