Keith MacDonald Scobie
The decisive assault of the Allied armies across the Piave begins. At 06:45 the 12th Durham Light Infantry begins the advance onto the Green Dotted Line. Very deep swift water is found in the most northerly area of the Piave and while wading this, the battalion suffers heavily from machine gun fire, the leading company losing nearly half its strength. The Companies reorganize and press forward only to be held up by uncut wire close to the objective, which is strongly held. The wire is cut most gallantly by various parties. The battalion presses on, and C Company captures the first objective Blue Dotted Line, (the road from C Padovan to C Benedetti). Here orders are received that as the Italians on the left of the brigade have failed to cross the Piave, no further advance is to be made. The battalion suffers 29 officers and men killed, 114 wounded and eleven missing.
During the morning, Major William George Barker (Royal Air Force) observes an enemy two-seater over the Foret de Mormal. He attacks this machine and after a short burst it breaks up in the air. At the same time a Fokker biplane attacks him, and he is wounded in the right thigh, but manages, despite this, to shoot down the enemy airplane in flames. He then finds himself in the middle of a large formation of Fokkers who attack him from all directions, and he is again severely wounded in the left thigh, but he succeeds in driving down two of the enemy in a spin. He loses consciousness then, and his machine falls out of control. On recovery he finds himself being again attacked heavily by a large formation and singling out one machine he deliberately charges and drives it down in flames. During this fight his left elbow is shattered and he again faints, and on regaining consciousness he finds himself still being attacked, but notwithstanding that he is now severely wounded in both legs and his left arm shattered he dives on the nearest machine and shoots it down in flames. Being greatly exhausted, he dives out of the fight to regain our lines, but is met by another formation, which attacks and endeavors to cut him off, but after a hard fight he succeeds in breaking up this formation and reaches our lines, where he crash-lands. This combat, in which Major Barker destroys four enemy machines (three of them in flames), brings his total successes to fifty enemy machines destroyed, and is a notable example of the exceptional bravery and disregard of danger which this very gallant officer has always displayed throughout his distinguished career. For this action he will be awarded the Victoria Cross.
Lieutenant Earl Frederick Crabb (Royal Air Force) having crashed an enemy machine, then goes to the assistance of one of our own that is being attacked, and materially helps to shoot the enemy down. In addition to the above he has accounted for three other machines and assisted in crashing a fourth.
Second Lieutenant Keith MacDonald Scobie (Royal Garrison Artillery attached Royal Air Force) is accidentally killed at age 21. His brother was killed in action in July 1916 and he is a Great War Poet.
Have you ridden alone in the country ever
By the dusty light of the harvest-moon?
Cycled intent in a vain endeavor
To match your speed to your soul’s quick tune
When there’s never a sound to break the magic;
For the tyres; crisp whir on the powdered road
And the hoot of an oul in the distance, tragic,
Are pricking your heart with a fairy goad?
Then the hawthorn hedges, sweet dissembling,
Stealthily close on your path, till fear
Of their dense bulk looms; and your heartsick trembling
Shakes into stillness as you swing clear.
Then the high haw-hedges furious will bide,
Drawing back from the light of the moon:
But the black trees haste down the silver hillside.
You know in your hear that you laughed too soon.
Today’s losses include:
- A Great War Poet
- A battalion commander
- The son of a Field Marshall
- The son of a member of the clergy
- A 7-victory ace
- A former police constable
- A man whose wife is widowed a second time by the Great War
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Lieutenant Colonel Ashton Alexander St Hill DSO (commanding 11th Duke of Wellington’s Regiment) is killed in Italy at age 44.
- Major James Boswell Egerton (Indian Cavalry) is killed in action at age 38 in Mesopotamia. He served in the Somali Expedition and on the North West Frontier of India and is the son of the late Field Marshall ‘Sir’ Charles Egerton who also lost a son in April of this year.
- Captain George Pomeroy Sterling DSO (Northumberland Fusiliers) is killed in action in Italy at age 23. He is the son of the late Reverend Canon Sterling of the CMS Gaza Palestine.
- Lieutenant (Temporary Captain) Guy Wilbraham Wareing DFC (Royal Flying Corps) a seven-victory ace is shot down and killed at age 19.
- Lieutenant Robert Lukyns Williams (Indian Cavalry) is killed at age 24. His brother was killed in December 1915.
- Private Percival Henry Onyett (West Surrey Regiment) is killed at age 25 in Italy. His brother died of wounds in Eygpt in November 1917.
- Gunner Alfred James Hyder (Royal Garrison Artillery) dies of influenza at age 29. He is a former police constable.
- Private William Hall (Newfoundland Regiment) dies on service. His brother was killed in October 1916.
- Private Bryen Sidney Smither (Northumberland Fusiliers) is killed in Italy at age 20. His widow was widowed in March 1915 when her then husband was killed.
- Private John Morris (Devonshire Regiment) dies on service after a serious operation. His brother was killed in August 1916.
- Able Seaman James J Toole (HMS Lion) dies of pneumonia at age 19. His brother was killed in July 1916.
- Driver Alf Rayner (Royal Field Artillery) becomes the third brother to be killed in successive Octobers.