The Germans attack at 07:00 and almost immediately the majority of III Corps divisions are heavily engaged. The initial speed of the German infantry’s advance is completely unexpected by the British. The commands of 29th and 12th Divisions are almost captured, with Brigadier-General Vincent having to fight free from his own encircled headquarters and then grab men from any retreating units to try to halt the Germans. In the south the German advance spread across eight miles and come within a few miles of the vital village of Metz and its link to Bourlon. At Bourlon itself the Germans meet stiffer resistance. The British have assigned eight divisions worth of fire support to the ridge and the Germans suffer heavy casualties. Despite this the Germans close and there is fierce fighting. British units display reckless determination – one group of eight British machine guns fires over 70,000 rounds in their efforts to stem the German advance around Bourlon.
The concentration of British effort to hold the ridge is impressive but it allows the German advance elsewhere greater opportunities. Only the fortunate arrival of British tanks and the fall of night allow the line to be held.
The Grenadier Guards meet the enemy and counter attack in the direction of Gauche Wood. They capture 3 field guns and a great number of machine guns at the cost of 25 NCO’s and men killed, 11 missing and 115 wounded.
Lieutenant (Acting Captain) Walter Napleton Stone VC (Royal Fusiliers) is killed performing acts that will be rewarded with a posthumous Victoria Cross at age 25. Captain Stone returned to England from Canada on the outbreak of the War and joined the Inns of Court OTC in November 1914. The following month he went to Sandhurst, and was gazetted to Royal Fusiliers in May 1915. He became Lieutenant in March 1916 and Acting Captain the following November. He left for France in September 1915 and four months afterwards was appointed Acting Staff Captain to the 5th Brigade Headquarters. He is killed in action between Bourlon Wood and Mceuvres, when in command of a Company in an isolated position, 1,000 yards in front of the main line, and overlooking the enemy’s position. He observes the enemy massing for an attack and affords invaluable information to Battalion Headquarters. He is ordered to withdraw his Company, leaving a rearguard to cover the withdrawal. The attack develops with unexpected speed. Captain Stone sends three Platoons back and remains with the rearguard himself. He stands on the parapet with a telephone under a tremendous bombardment, observes the enemy, and continues to send back valuable information until the wire is cut by his orders. The rearguard is eventually surrounded and cut to pieces, and Captain Stone is seen fighting to the last, until he is shot through the head.
Major ‘the Honorable’ Robert Nathaniel Dudley Ryder (Hussars) is killed instantaneously by a sniper while holding up a big enemy attack just after the Germans have broken through at Gouzeaucourt at age 34. He is the youngest son of the 4th Earl of Harrowby and brother of the fifth Earl. Major Ryder went direct from Harrow to join the 4th North Staffordshire Militia in the South African War and received his Commission in Hussars in 1900. He received the Queen’s and King’s Medals with five clasps. In 1905 he went to South Australia as ADC to ‘Sir’ G R le Hunte, returning to England in 1908. He was Adjutant to the Norfolk Yeomanry from 1909 to 1913. He went to the Front with his Regiment in October 1914 and remained there for three years.
Captain Andrew E McKeever (Royal Flying Corps) with his observer, Second Lieutenant L A Powell in a Bristol F2b record four victories over Albatros D.V’s between 11:50 and 11:55 south of Cambrai.
Private Frederick George Dancox VC (Worcestershire Regiment) is struck in the head by a piece of shrapnel and instantly killed at age 38. On 9th October he captured forty Germans and a machine gun in a pillbox at Poelcappelle for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Today’s losses include:
- Multiple Victoria Cross winners
- A son of the 4th Earl of Harrowby
- A General
- The son of a General
- The grandson of a General
- Multiple families that will lose two, three and four sons in the Great War
- The son of a Baronet
- A battalion commander
- A cousin of the actor ‘Sir’ John Gielgud
- Multiple sons of members of the clergy
- A Derbyshire cricketer
- Multiple sons of Justices of the Peace
- A member of the 1908 Scottish Olympic Bronze medal winning Field Hockey team
- A student at Princeton University in the United States
- A son of the popular author J E Preston Muddock
- A man whose son will be killed in the Second World War
- A man whose stepsons were killed together in July 1916
- A West Ham footballer
- The brother of twins who will be killed within days of each other next March
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Brigadier General Roland Boys Bradford VC General Officer Commanding 186th Brigade 62nd Division is killed in action at age 25. He had been awarded the Victoria Cross as Lieutenant Colonel commanding the 9th Durham Light Infantry on the Somme on 1st October 1916. His brother Lieutenant George Bradford (Royal Navy) will be killed in action at Zeebrugge on 23rd April 1918 performing acts that will win him the Victoria Cross also. A third brother, Lieutenant James Bradford died of wounds on 14th May of this year.
- Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Primrose Liston-Foulis (attached Royal Garrison Artillery) is killed in action at age 43. He is the son of the late ‘Sir’ John Liston-Foulis, the 9th
- Lieutenant Colonel Henry Lex Francis Adam Gielgud MC (commanding 7th Norfolk Regiment) is killed in action at age 36. He is a cousin of the actor ‘Sir’ John Gielgud.
- Major Isham Percy Smith DSO (Royal Garrison Artillery) is killed at age 27. He is the son of the late Major General Percy Smith.
- Captain Ralph Nevill Lendon Buckmaster (North Lancashire Regiment) is killed at age 22. He is the son of the Reverend Charles John Buckmaster Vicar of Hindley who will lose another son in September 1918.
- Captain John Walter Ewbank MC (Border Regiment) is killed at age 21. His brother was killed in February 1916 and they are sons of the Reverend John Ewbank Rector of Bolton.
- Captain Norman Algeo (Leinster Regiment) is killed at Tincourt at age 23. He is the son of the Reverend Lewis Algeo.
- Lieutenant Guy Denis Wilson (Royal Field Artillery) is killed on his 35th He played cricket for Derbyshire from 1902 to 1905 and is the son of Arthur Wilson JP.
- Lieutenant Charles Herbert Gribble (East Kent Regiment) is killed at age 28. His brother will die on service in November 1919.
- Lieutenant Noel Henry Fairfax Durant (Irish Guards) is killed at age 29. He is the son of the Honorable Mrs. Charles Richard Durant.
- Lieutenant Douglas Knox Brown MC (Highland Light Infantry attached Machine Gun Corps) is killed at age 22. He is the son of the late Reverend John Knox Brown.
- Lieutenant Ivan Laing MC (Coldstream Guards) is killed at age 32. In 1908 he was a member of the Scottish bronze medal men’s field hockey team.
- Second Lieutenant Frank Nisbett (South Lancashire Regiment) is killed at age 18. He is the son of G H Nisbett JP.
- Second Lieutenant Donald Neil Campbell Ross (Royal Field Artillery) dies of wounds at age 22. He is the son of the Reverend G A Johnston Ross DD of the Union Theological Seminary New York City and volunteered for service while a student at Princeton University in 1916.
- Second Lieutenant Gilbert Lewis Lloyd (London Regiment) is killed. He is the son of the Reverend William Robert Lloyd Vicar of Lanstephen.
- Second Lieutenant Jasper Milton Preston Muddock (Shropshire Yeomanry) is killed at age 29. His brother was killed in September 1916 and they are sons of the author J E Preston Muddock author of nearly 300 detective and mystery stories who was almost as popular as Arthur Conan Doyle in his time.
- Second Lieutenant James Hoste Welldon (East Kent Regiment) is killed at age 19. He is the grandson of Major General Dixon Edward Hoste.
- Sergeant James Lynch (Duke of Wellington’s Regiment) is killed in action. His son will be killed serving in the Royal Air Force in September 1940.
- Private John Dale (Coldstream Guards) is killed at age 18. He is the middle of three brothers who will be killed in a six month period.
- Private Ernest Henry Dowling (Berkshire Regiment) is killed in action at Cambrai at age 40. His stepsons were killed in the same regiment serving together on the same day in July 1916.
- Private Howard Prentice (Middlesex Regiment) is killed at age 22. His older brother was killed 5 weeks earlier while his younger brother will die as a result of his military service in 1920.
- Private Eugene Harris (Newfoundland Regiment) is killed at age 21. His brother will be killed in September 1918.
- Private Alex Farquhar MM (Norfolk Regiment) becomes the 3rd of four brothers to lose his life in the Great War when he is killed at age 29 in Bourlon Wood.
- Rifleman Frank Nunn (London Regiment) is killed. His brother was killed in October 1916.
- Private William Baigrie (Highland Light Infantry) is killed in action at age 27. His brother will be killed in May 1918.
- Private Frederick James Chiverton (Hampshire Regiment) is killed at age 34. His brother was killed last April.
- Private Sidney George Ellis (Machine Gun Corps) is killed at age 26. His brother was killed last February.
- Private William Glenfred Hayward MM (South Staffordshire Regiment) is killed at age 27. His brother was killed last June.
- Private John Henry Long (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed at age 23. His brother was killed in July 1915.
- Private Edward Arthur James Stallard (London Regiment) is killed in action. He is a footballer for West Ham United who scored in his debut against Millwall in April 1914.
- Private Thomas John Gallienne (Royal Guernsey Light Infantry) is killed at age 35. His twin brothers will be killed within two days of each other in March next year.
- Private Frank James Tugwell (East Surrey Regiment) is killed at age 22. His brother was killed last month.
- Private George Knock MM (Worcestershire Regiment) is killed at age 29. His is the last of three brothers who are killed in the Great War.