Today’s losses are the highest in any one day of the war so far and bring the total losses in the Empire’s forces to over one thousand.
Included in those losses today are:
- Son and grandson of General
- Families that lost two and three sons
- Sons and grandsons of clergy
- A man whose stepson will be killed later in the Great War
- A man whose son will be born after his death
The Fifth Division finds itself in a very tight position and Cavalry is sent to its assistance the 2nd Cavalry Brigade reaching the scene of the action first. The Germans are advancing in heavy numbers, so near the village of Audregnies, General De Lisle orders his men to dismount and open fire on them. This they do but the enemy continues to advance in good order. The General then decides on a charge, and for this he chose the 9th Lancers who mount their horses and ride steadily at the enemy. In the face of a torrent of shot and shell from guns and rifles, they dash on until they find themselves against two lines of barbed wire, where men and horses fall over in all directions. This ends the charge. The survivors are ordered to return to shelter, and out of more than four hundred who have ridden out, only seventy-two at first answer their names. Later, some two hundred others turn up, but the regiment has lost heavily. Lieutenant Charles William North Garstin of the 9th Lancers is killed during these operations at age 20. He is the son of Major General ‘Sir’ William Garstin GCMG CBE. Captain Douglas Keith Lucas-Tooth (Lancers) will be awarded the Distinguished Service Order for gallantry in this action. He will be killed in action in less than one month.
Still the Lancers have not finished their day’s work. When the survivors arrive at a railway embankment near Doubon, they find themselves in the company of some artillerymen who have been driven from their guns with heavy loss. Captain Francis Octavius Grenfell now the senior officer of the Lancers, who had been wounded in the original charge but has managed to keep his squadron together, goes out into the open and finds a way to help save the guns. He has his men follow him and leaving their horses they rush out, reach the abandoned guns and assist in saving the guns of the 119th Battery, Royal Field Artillery. For his actions on this day Captain Grenfell will be awarded the Victoria Cross as will the commander of the 119th Battery Major Ernest Wright Alexander. This is part of an action when the Lancers charge a battery of eleven German guns posted in Compiegne Wood. The guns have been causing terrible loss to the British infantry. According to the press account published at the time, the 9th make a furious charge, reach the battery, and cut down all the gunners and put the guns out of action. After this charge, the survivors volunteer to a man to save the British guns whose teams have all been killed. Captain Grenfell will be hit in both legs and has two fingers shot off during this action. The action is successful but Grenfell is so badly wounded he is taken by his friend, the Duke of Westminster, in his Rolls Royce to the nearby town of Bavai where he will be treated by French nuns in a convent hospital. Major Alexander will go on to achieve the rank of Major General, while Captain Grenfell will be killed on 24 May 1915.
- Major Charles George Pack-Beresford (Royal West Kent Regiment) killed at age 45. He is the son of Denis William Pack-Beresford MP JP DL and he served on the North West Frontier in 1897 and 1898 and during the South African War. He is the grandson of Major General ‘Sir’ Denis Pack KCB.
- Major Percy Belcher Strafford (Duke of Wellington’s Regiment) is killed at age 41. He served in the South African War and played cricket for the Yorkshire Gentlemen. His wife is the daughter of Major General Hamilton Chapman.
- Captain and Adjutant Cyril Oswald Denman-Jubb (Duke of Wellington’s Regiment) is killed at age 38. He is the son of the Reverend Henry Denman-Jubb.
- Captain Walter Richard Augustus Aston Dawes (Wiltshire Regiment) is killed at age 36. His son will be born in December.
- Captain and Adjutant Francis Joseph Cresswell (Norfolk Regiment) is killed carrying a message at age 31. He married the niece of ‘Sir’ W H B Ffolkes Baronet and he served in the South African War.
- Captain Ernest Felix Victor Briard (Norfolk Regiment) is killed at age 25. His fourteen year old brother will be killed in 5 years serving as a Second Lieutenant in a Sikh Regiment of the Indian Army fighting in the Khyber Pass.
- Lieutenant Charles Esmond Redlin Albrecht (South Lancashire Regiment) killed at age 21. His brother will be killed in August 1917.
- Lieutenant Eric Llewellyn Welchman (Lincolnshire Regiment) dies of wounds received in action at age 21. He is the son of the Venerable Canon W Welchman Archdeacon of Bristol. Lieutenant Leslie Montagu Buller (Lincolnshire Regiment) is killed at age 28. He was educated at Eton where he was in his House Cricket XI when they won the House Cup in 1904. He is the grandson of the Reverend Richard Buller.
- Lieutenant Lawrence Edward Russell (Duke of Wellington’s Regiment) is killed at age 22. His brother will be killed in May of next year.
- Sergeant Frederick Davison (Duke of Wellington’s Regiment) is killed at age 23. His brother will be killed on the 1st day of the Battle of the Somme.
- Private Lawrence R Foster (Duke of Wellington’s Regiment) killed at age 20. His brother will be killed in 1916.
- Private John Mann (Norfolk Regiment) is killed he is the step-father of Private Percy Rudd (Suffolk Regiment) who will be killed in September 1915.
- Private Percy Frederick Ashton (Wiltshire Regiment) is killed at age 21. His brother will be killed in September 1916. Private Francis James Heffernan (Cheshire Regiment) is killed at age 20. He is the son of John Heffernan a foreign correspondent.
- Private William Barnard (Norfolk Regiment) is killed at age 24. He is the first of three brothers who will be killed in the Great War.