William Tall’s War.
                               Home Page   Family History    Tall Family Start     Military   20 June 2012

Note:  Writing in italics and in blue is from the War Diary of the 3rd Battalion of Grenadier Guards, the
            battalion in which William was a member.
 

William, Percy and Annie’s eldest son, married Alice Julia Day November 28th 1914 at the outbreak of WWI, their two sons were born in 1915 & 1916, sadly their younger son, Denis, died aged 5 months.

William (25104) aged 23, a carpenter, enlisted on the 10th of November 1915. Like his brother Denis, William was a strong man, 5ft 10¼" tall Chest expanded 39½" with a 3" range of expansion. It is not surprising, therefore, that the 3rd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards accepted him. Norman Cliff (1988) described the training he would have received, much of it is similar to that undergone by conscripts everywhere. But, the Guards pushed the training to extremes.

"it was certainly good for the physique, I had entered Caterham Depot a chesty undeveloped, uncoordinated figure. I left with the tight, springy fitness of a greyhound. Never before had I enjoyed such an exhilarating feeling of being at the peak of health." (Cliff, 1988 p26)

This photograph is part of a portrait photograph showing William his wife Alice and his baby son Arthur.

"The woodwork of rifles had to be rubbed with heelball until they could serve as mirrors; bayonet handles were burnished, equipment was scrubbed, brasses shone enough to dazzle the eye, the soles of boots were blackened and polished as brightly as the tops; trousers had their creases soaped and ironed and slept upon.." (Cliff, 1988 p27)

After about 11 months training, William arrived in Belgium on the 30 August 1916. The graph below, created by the writer from public records, shows that William arrived in France in time to take part in an attack on the Germans on the 14th. of September (Note, the graph only shows William’s Battalion, overall 420,000 British soldiers were killed at the Somme!).

In England, newspapers continued to present an optimistic message. An officer told how things went before he was wounded in the early stages of one advance.

The battle of the Somme …. was a keen test of a soldier's coolness and courage, and it was just such an experience as to try the mettle of this fine regiment. They had been in the trenches day and night for four days prior to the advance, but they showed no signs of wear. The Tyneside Scottish live up to their regimental nickname 'Hard as Hammers', and were full of enthusiasm to measure their strength with Fritz, as the enemy is known in the language of the trenches. They took their orders for the advance in the cheeriest manner possible, and the way they moved out was really inspiring. Most of the men were singing songs and now and then the chorus would be taken up by all lines. Newcastle upon Tyne The Evening Chronicle Monday 10th July 1916       http://users.wessex.net/w1007346/introduction_frameset.html

Preparation for the 15th of September Offensive:
Guards Division
between the 20th  August 1915 and the 11th  November 1918.   The battalions *’d were only
                            part of the Guards division between the  20 Aug 1915 - 08 Feb 1918.

1st (Guards) Brigade.

2nd (Guards) Brigade.

3rd (Guards) Brigade.

2nd Bn Grenadier Guards.
2nd Bn Coldstream Guards.
3rd Bn Coldstream Guards.*
1st Bn Irish Guards.

3rd Bn Grenadier Guards.
1st Bn Coldstream Guards.
1st Bn Scots Guards.
2nd Bn Irish Guards.*

1st Bn Grenadier Guards.
4th Bn Grenadier Guards. *
2nd Bn Scots Guards.
1st Bn Welsh Guards.

Pioneers: 4th Bn Coldstream Guards

Kitchener brought the various Guards Battalions together in August 1915, creating the Elite Guards DivisionThe strength of the small British army was their level of training - the Germans thought the British had many machine-guns 

"in fact they had hardly any.. but their infantrymen had mastered rapid rifle shooting. Fifteen aimed rounds a minute was usual, but many experienced marksmen would be able to discharge 30 (Livesey 1989, p53). The value of the Guards was demonstrated at Mons in October 1915, they were told "The situation is critical. You are to hold your ground at all costs Sir Douglas Haig relies on the Grenadiers to save the First Corps and possibly the army." They did so, but the 1st Bn of Grenadier Guards consisting of 30 officers & 2000 men, was left with just 5 officers and 200 men. (Cliff , 1988 p35). "And when the last had gone, about forty tall soldiers in khaki hobbled past, with staring eyes and hollow cheeks. They were without rifles. Later we heard they were Coldstreamers, who had remained in their trenches despite that all their officers and NCO’s had been killed, all their ammunition fired, and they had had no food or water for forty-eight hours."                  Henry Williamson in Foreword in Beaver (1973).

On the 31st August training began "The battalion formed up in 3 waves and practised assaulting a position". From the 1st to the 9th of September the Battalion trained with the rest of the Brigade. The resulting nine waves were formed up 50 yards apart "and at zero time all waves advanced together under cover of (1) a standing barrage on the enemies front line (2) a creeping barrage starting 100 yards in front of the assault and moving forwards at 50 yards per minute. When the creeping barrage reached the standing barrage, both lifted to 200 yards beyond the German front line. The leading waves passed over the front line and formed up behind the barrage. Standing barrage was then put down on to the second line. The front trench was cleared by the rear waves."            War Diary 3rd Battalion of Grenadier Guards Sep 1st-9th 1916.

During this training and in the ensuing battle each soldier would carry a:

bayonet, water-bottle, ammunition pouches, shoulder braces and, on the back, groundsheet and haversack — the latter filled with the mess-tin, a tinned and an iron ration plus  ‘the unexpired portion of the day’s ration’, toilet gear, ‘housewife’ of sewing kit, spare socks and bootlaces. All men had two gas helmets and goggles against tear gas, plus a field dressing and iodine. Some had wirecutters; half, at least, had digging tools, in addition to their own entrenching tool. 220 rounds of .303 cartridges, half of which were stowed in the pouches, the balance in a cotton bandolier. Two sandbags and, in many units, either two Mills grenades or a Stokes mortar bomb. With his rifle charged with ammunition, weighing about 10 lb., no man carried less than 65 lb. Additional grenades, bombs, small arms ammunition or perhaps a prepared charge’ against obstacles, stretchers or telephone cable increased the load to 85 or 90 lb.  
                                                                                                   
Farrar-Hockley pp104-5

The Somme
The battle of the Somme started on the 1st July 1916 and lasted for 141 days. The Germans held the high ground providing excellent look-out posts and tiredness on the part of the British attacking. At the end of the first day 20,000 British soldiers were dead and 37,000 were wounded. Sixty percent of the British Infantry on that first day were Kitchener’s New Army and men who joined together, died together:

"The 10th West Yorks lost 22 officers and 688 men, the Accrington Pals 21 officers and 585 men, the 4th Tyneside Scottish 19 officers and 610 men, the 1st Tyneside Irish 18 officers and 602 men, the County Down volunteers 12 officers and 577 men."
(Middlebrook, First day of the Somme, p330 lists battalions with >500 casualties, i.e. half a Battalion)

For the elite Guards Division their introduction to the Battle of the Somme was on September 15th. Their direction of attack was NE of Ginchy and its prime target was Leboefs.

On the 13th of September the 3rd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards had "Marched to CARNOY and bivouacked there. Very little cover for the men".

Sept 14th

 

A cold and windy day with showers. The necessary bobs, sandbags, tools (5 shovels to 3 picks) S.A.A. flares for use with contact control aeroplanes, were distributed. The mens greatcoats and surplus kits, and the officers bits were sent to the Divisional store near MEAULTE.  The Battalion marched off in companies at 9.0 pm, to take up position. This operation was favoured by a fine clear night with a moon. Companies moved up via TRONES WOOD   "Trones Wood was a mass of black splintered tree stumps, with the decaying remains of British and German dead strewing the ground and emitting an appalling stench… The night was bitterly cold and we shivered in shell holes with sleep out of the question." (Cliff, 1988, p76)     (Trench Sheet 57 CSW 1/20,000) GUILLEMOT and GINCHY.   The assembly place of the Brigade was clear of the village as the enemy had proved to be very quick in putting down a barrage on it. The right of the Brigade rested about 100 yards from GINCHY telegraph and extended the frontage occupied was about 500 yards. This Battalion was the right front battalion and was formed up in 4 waves, all men in single rank and companies in column of half companies thus:

This formation was in accordance with the training carried out and described elsewhere. There was 50 yards distance between platoons. The 1st Bn Coldstream Guards was on the left, the 1st Bn Scots Guards was immediately in rear of us. The Battalion reached the assembly point without difficulty or interruption, only 1 man being slightly wounded. On the other hand there were no assaulting parallels due and the Battalion had to dig some kind of assault trenches by linking up shell holes. Further owing to the necessity of being clear of GINCHY village the Brigade was not in touch with the 1st Guards Brigade which was on the left and slightly in rear of us. The men had not seen the ground in front of them in daylight and lastly because of the terrain it was necessary that direction should be changed during the actual progress of the assault. In short as a position of assembly it laboured under every disadvantage except that it was not shelled by the enemy


The German defences facing the Guards were awe-inspiring. "The Quadrilateral, away to the left, dominated the road and everything that tried to move along it. This strongpoint was a complex of entrenchments built round part of the old railway cutting. It was furnished with fortifications of iron and concrete, stalwart enough to defy an earthquake and skilfully sited to command a field of fire which, in every direction, was absolute. MacDonald adds that the Quadrilateral was linked by the strongly held Straight Trench to its twin fortress, the Triangle which dominates the village of Ginchy beyond. (MacDonald, Somme).

Captain Sir Iain Colquhoun who had been court-martialled for allowing his men to participate in the fraternization initiated by the Germans at Christmas 1915, was the Company Commander of the 1st Scots Guards. He described his march up to the Front on the 14th as follows:

"Through Guillemont and Ginchy the whole countryside is devastated in a way it is almost impossible to believe. Dead lie everywhere in Ginchy, and the smell is horrible."
"Sept 15th Started digging at 2.30 am, finished 3.15 am. Went round all my Company to see they were all in the right places, etc. Anyone can see there must be hopeless confusion when we start. Lay down in a shell hole at 4 am. About 4.30 am the Tanks began to arrive behind us. The Germans heard them and sent up many rockets and shelled slightly.

The Guards had a long advance to accomplish: 3600 yards north-east from Ginchy to and through the village of Lesboeufs. The first objective a system of well-bombarded trenches 800 yards ahead on either side of the road.

Keeping up well behind the British creeping barrage "three battalions of Coldstream, one of Grenadiers picked their routes forward across the crater field in which in increasing numbers they found small parties of Bavarians who had survived the British shellfire. There was little resistance from these enemy soldiers. The danger for the Guards battalions lay on the flanks. "
               (Farrar-Hockley)

Higher Ground – shaded Brown.
The Triangle and Quadrilateral were strongly defended areas of land, not stone built ‘castles’.

Captain Colquhoun described the start as follows:

"At 6.30 am the entire British Line advanced, the 1st Guards Brigade on our left, the 6th Division on our right. As we anticipated the entire wave formation had disappeared before we had crossed our own front line, and we advanced in a great mass, Grenadiers, Coldstream, Irish and Scots Guards all inextricably mixed up.
Within 30 yards I found myself in front of the Grenadiers with a few of my own men. Our barrage was about 50 yards in front of us, and the whole landscape was obscured by smoke, and it was impossible to see anything or keep direction. About 100 yards on we found a few Germans lying in shell holes. I shot one and clubbed one. We came under heavy machine gun fire, and the lines disappeared into shell holes…. Many men began to fall and the Coldstream lost almost their whole Battalion by walking into our barrage…"
(Brown p188)

Confused by the creeping barrage (which was actually intended for the adjacent 14th Division) the Guards strayed to their left and come under enfilade attack from Pint Trench. To stop this danger Colonel Campbell of the 3rd Battalion Coldstream guards rallied his men by standing up, under heavy fire, and blew his hunting horn. For this action he was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross. "I saw that VC won. If ever a man deserved it, that man was Colonel Campbell." 
                                                                (
Private Charles Cole in MacDonald p277)


Grenadier Gds

On the right, machine-guns opened a hot fire from Straight Trench, unsubdued - unmenaced — by 6th Division. On the left, Pint Trench, adjoining Ale and Hop Alleys and Lager Lane, remained in enemy possession. As on the right, the enemy was placed so as to shoot directly down the Guards ranks. They shot well. None of the tanks detailed to destroy the flanking trenches were available to do so — seven of the ten allotted had appeared at the start line, but after crossing it they lost all 

sense of direction — and so the infantry took the consequences. To escape the hot fire, the leading companies of the two Guards brigades doubled across the remainder of No Man’s Land in a charge on the enemy trench ahead.                  (Farrar-Hockley)

The garrison of the Quadrilateral was free, to fire northward against the Guards advancing from Ginchy. More dangerous to the Guards, Straight Trench, above the Quadrilateral, was ideally sited behind the crest east of Ginchy to enfilade an advance across it. This the Bavarian company in occupation began to do at 6.10 am. (Farrah-Hockley p237)

Somewhere in this mêlée Captain Raymond Asquith (the son of the British Prime Minister) was hit in the chest while leading the first half of 4 Company of the 3rd Grenadier Guards in the attack. Sensing the wound was fatal, he lit a cigarette to prevent his men from realising how badly he had been hurt …..When they had searched the shallow dugouts and sent back the prisoners — men of an ad hoc force of Bavarian Regiment — a check was made amongst the units. Three-quarters of the officers had been killed or wounded, two-thirds of the men.
                                                                                              (Farrah-Hockley p238)

"The Scots and Irish Guards and another battalion of the Grenadiers in support all had elements forward and were ready to go on. Unfortunately no one was exactly sure where they were. It had seemed a long advance; they had passed over some old, broken trenches and scattered wire and seemed to be quite close to Lesboeufs. Ginchy could not be seen. After some discussion by the senior officers remaining - three of the eight commanding officers — it was decided that they had reached the third objective. A pigeon messenger was sent back with this news.  After the despatch of the message, Lieutenant-Colonel John Campbell of 3rd Coldstream came to the conclusion that they were further from Lesboeufs than he had at first thought.  The survivors of the two brigades were reorganised in the trenches and each brigade party continued forward. But it was difficult still to know exactly where the actual second and third objectives lay; repeated bombardments had defaced trenches and pasture alike and, in any case, 500 yards of the second objective was an imaginary line drawn on the map. There was little resistance from the Bavarian infantry as the brigade parties advanced in bounds but continuous shellfire reduced their numbers still more. Between 11 and noon the various segments became progressively separated as they sought to reach Lesboeufs on the slope below."                                                                              (Farrah-Hockley p238)

The right flank of the Grenadier Guards attacked the Triangle alone and unsupported, and overcame it after heavy losses by eleven o’clock.                     (MacDonald p278)

With the 3rd Battalions Adjutant, Captain Oliver Lyttleton, two officers of the Irish Guard and a ‘mixed bag of men mainly from the 3rd Grenadier Guards’ Captain Colquhoun carried out a major foray towards enemy lines.  As he described it ‘Between us we got up a composite company of every regiment and advancing out of the trench took up a position on high ground overlooking Lesboeufs.  I went down along the trench to try and get reinforcements and take Lesbouefs.’ 
 (Brown, M. The Imperial Museum Book of the Somme, Sidgwick and Jackson pp186-190)

Machine guns stationed on the Church tower put down an impenetrable curtain of fire. 
                                                                                                          (Cliff, p77)

Some 60 Guards held the position overlooking Lesboeufs for the remainder of the day, but with no reinforcements they withdrew.            (Brown, M & Farrar-Hockley pp237-240)

The 3rd Grenadier Guards war diary prosaically describes some parts of the above:

15th

Zero hour was fixed for 6.20 am and the battalion was ready in position by about 3 am. The men slept therefore from 3-5.45 am when they were given sandwiches and an issue of rum. During this time the "tanks" which were allotted to the Division could be heard making their way up in rear of us. We were in immediate touch with the 6th Division on our right. At 6.0 am heavy artillery fired about 40 rounds in quick succession. This of course woke up the enemy, who put down his usual barrage on GINCHY village (particularly at the NE corner) and started shelling LEUZE wood and troops of the 6th Division who were still moving about in that neighbourhood. At 6.19½ the whole Brigade rose to its feet and advanced. Our the left front company was met by machine gun fire as soon as they got up and lost Capt MACKENZIE and Mr ASQUITH at once (Both men died).

15th

1/Lt H.WILLIAMS was wounded a few yards further on. The last remaining officer of that company also fell within 200 yards of our own trenches.Our right front company however appeared to get off much more fortunately and did not seem to lose until a considerable way out..  Now owing to the causes which have already been set down and owing to the fact the 6th Division failed to advance and that the tanks were not forthcoming Our left flank was or rather appeared to be in the air as the 1st Brigade had started behind us.  Our right flank was completely exposed.
Owing to the closeness of the formation and the irregularity of the assembly trenches all the waves tended to become intermixed. Owing to (1) & (2) the tendency was for the Brigade to split up right and left to cover its exposed flanks.
In addition to the above a German trench or rather a line of shell holes hastily regained and provided with M.G.’s was encountered about 250 yards after leaving our own trenches. Every German in the trench was either shot or bayonetted but it helped to break up the regularity of the formation and impaired the cohesion of the assault.  The men however were not to be denied. And though the right flank flank was raked by heavy machine gun fire in enfilade and though the wire and trench on that part of the front, owing to the impossibility of observation, were untouched the Brigade continued to advance, but as a Brigade rather than as 4 battalions.

15th

The parties who were drawn to the left by the apparently exposed flank found themselves among the 1st Brigade but did not suffer severely as the wire and trench there had been completely destroyed. It was on the right flank that our chief casualties incurred. They included the Commanding Officer Lt.Col B.N.S. BROOKE D.S.O. and most of the officers except Capts GORDON & HOPLEY.

 

 

After reaching the first objective – the German line running through T.8.a,b,& d it was found that there was a gap between the left parties and the right which was occupied by the enemy who began to enfilade the trench with M.Gs and Shell fire. Composite bombing parties however dislodged them and the whole and the whole of the final objective was in our hands. Our right flank was however completely exposed as the troops on our right only a short distance if any in front of GINCHY TELEGRAPH.….On the evening of the 15th therefore this Battalion held a small frontage on the right of the first objective. This flank was subjected to repeated bombing attacks and the Germans also attempted to work riflemen round it. Five steps had to be dug in both sides of the trench and bombing parties organised to resist the enemy bombing down. Fighting on a small scale therefore continued throughout the night of the 15th/16th and resulted in all counter attacks being repulsed. The enemy drove us back at one time about 70 yards but his success was momentary only and the ground was immediately retaken and 1 machine gun captured.

Whilst the Tanks who supported the Guards made little impact, the soldiers on their right took Flers.

16th

Nothing occurred except some somewhat sever shelling on the 16th and in the evening of 16th/17th the Battalion was relieved and marched into camp at the CITADEL.

17th-19th

Reoganizing at the CITADEL. Owing to having left 20% of the officers, the C.S.Majors and a percentage of senior NCO’s this was not so difficult as might be expected. The casualties among specialists, signallers and Lewis gunners in particular, had been severe.
Weather very wet and camp and roads got into a bad state.

20th

The Battalion moved into bivouacks at CARNOY. Marching off at 9.30 pm.
The road was in an indescribable state and the march though a short one was most exhausting.

21st-25th

Training at CARNOY. Two drafts had joined the Battalion 198 on 20th, 133 21st .…. 1 Other rank was killed and 10 wounded on 23rd whilst carrying ammunition to forward camp. On the 25th the 2nd Guards Brigade was in reserve less this Battalion which was in Corps Reserve. Battalion moved to CRATER POST A.8.a.6.5. Owing to the complete success of the attack the battalion was not used and at about 5.0 pm came once more under orders of 2nd Guards Brigade.

One hundred and forty privates and NCO’s and 6 officers in William’s Battalion died as a result of the Somme, for a time William survived (Note: It is possible that William joined the Battalion on the 20th/21st, but I suspect not – he was in France in time to join the Battalion for training.).

On October 1st the Battalion was in billets at HEUCOURT "after a long journey in the train and a march of 5 miles." The whole month was involved in training, the Division not moving into the line as planned. On the 9th November "Battalion went for a 6 mile route march".  The following is typical of the remainder of the month

Nov 11th

Battalion marched to a rendez-vous on the AIRAINES-CAMP-EN-AMIENOIS and embussed on French Lorries at 11 am. Debussed between MERICOURT & TROUX at 4 pm and marched into Billets at MEAULTE. Billets very dirty.

12th-14th

Spent improving the Billets.

15th

Battalion moved into camp at MANSELL CAMP near Carnoy. Accommodation very poor and then very uncomfortable…. Weather cold.

16th

Spent improving camp …. Freezing hard

18th

Battalion provided 500 men for improving the camp and making loose standings, paths & QM stores.

Survival at the front - Humour: "I was squatting in the dugout one morning when whizz-bangs (an expressive title" began to hiss low over the parapet and drop behind us…. Outside the dugout stood Pongo and every time the whizz came he plumped on hands and knees and his funny face, made funnier still, by wide eyed alarm, appeared inside the low opening. I had to laugh at the comical sight and, despite his scare, there was a humorous glint in Pongo’s eyes.  When the shoot ended, he asked an old soldier, ‘What the ‘ell was ole Fritz aiming at , mite?’ ‘Trying to find one of our guns, I expect.’ ‘The why the ‘ell don’t somebody tell ‘im the bloomin’ gun ain’t here? (Cliff, 1988 p47)


ARE YOU A VICTIM OF
OPTIMISM?
YOU DON’T KNOW?
THEN ASK YOURSELF THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS

1.  DO YOU SUFFER FROM CHEERFULNESS?
2.  DO YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING FEELING THAT
     ALL  IS WELL FOR THE ALLIES?
3. DO YOU SOMETIMES THINK THAT THE WAR WILL
    END WITHIN THE NEXT TWELVE MONTHS?
4. DO YOU BELIEVE GOOD NEWS IN PREFERENCE TO
     BAD?
5. DO YOU CONSIDER OUR LEADERS ARE COMPETENT
    TO CONDUCT THE WAR TO A SUCCESSFUL ISSUE?

 IF YOUR ANSWER IS ‘YES’ TO ANY ONE OF THESE  QUESTIONS THEN YOU ARE IN THE CLUTCHES OF  THAT
DREAD DISEASE
WE CAN CURE YOU TWO DAYS SPENT AT OUR ESTABLISHMENT WILL EFFECTUALLY ERADICATE ALL TRACES OF IT FROM YOUR SYSTEM

The Somme-Times
An edition of the Wipers Times (Brown p176)
Trench magazines raised spirits, see the mock-advertisement on the left and the topic for discussion below:
"Describe briefly the increase in weight of a pack on a route march of 15 miles"

Humour was essential. Men relied on colleagues like Billy Green: "Billy Green is only 18, but he has more heart than many a full-grown man. No matter how much water there may be in the trenches, or how many shells drop on the ration party, you can always hear Billy’s laugh. Life in mud and water is apt to get on any one’s nerves, but there is always something to smile at if Billy is about. I remember Newnham once saying to me at Ypres. 'If anything happens to that boy, I really don’t know how I shall keep going.' And so say all of us" (Brown p58)

Beaver (1973)'s book 'The Wipers Times' contains the complete set of the trench Newspaper. The editor was a Captain in the Sherwood Foresters. The newspaper contained a range of items, from poems to Herlock Shomes stories. On the surface comments on political & military actions are shrouded in humour, but the soldiers would have nodded wincingly.

The Somme: Success or Failure
Haig defended the Somme by three arguments:
        Relieving the French army by stopping further attacks at Verdun.
        It kept German Reserves in the West and, hence helped the Russians
        It eroded the Fighting capacity of the German army.

Bourne (1989) argues (p66-67) that these aims were largely achieved; however, in human terms the Somme was a Pyrrhic victory – over 400,000 soldiers of the British Empire died. The amount of land gained was pitifully small!

Haig fundamentally failed to recognise that the barbed wire wasn’t cut when he ordered his troops to attack on July 1st.  
He accepted the French request for a late start, with the result that on the opening day his men advanced at 7.30 am in good light (L-H p314). The soldiers were ordered to walk in serried ranks because they couldn’t be trusted.:

 "Only as the upstanding waves were broken by the fire did advance become possible. For then human nature and primitive cunning reasserted themselves… the more enterprising and still uncowed survivors formed little groups… and worked their way by short rushes and crawling from shell hole to shell hole." (L-H p315) 

Haig failed to ensure he had enough tanks ready for action on September 15th .  He failed to ensure that negative reports were encouraged and learned from.  In the Official History the devastating indictment is that:

 "The failures of the past were put down to reasons other than the stout use of the machine gun by the enemy and his scientifically planned defences."  
                                                            (Liddel-Hart’s History of the First World War p.312).  

Haig failed to take into account the desperate conditions.  There is NO evidence in any of the books I have read that Haig visited the Battlefield, the hospitals or talked to ‘Other Ranks’.

Prime Minister Lloyd George, who was appointed Secretary of State for War in June 1916 and was a critic of the battle, subsequently described the effect of this battle in 1933 as:

It is claimed that the Battle of the Somme destroyed the old German Army by killing off its best officers and men. It killed off far more of our best and of the French best. The Battle of the Somme was fought by the volunteer armies raised in 1914 and 1915. These contained the choicest and best of our young manhood.
 The officers came mainly from our public schools and universities. Over 400,000 of our men fell in this bull-headed fight and the slaughter amongst our young officers was appalling. .

The "Official History of the War", writing of the first attack, says:

"For the disastrous loss of the finest manhood of the United Kingdom and Ireland there was only a small gain of ground to show...."

Summing up the effect on the British Army of the whole battle the Official History of the War says:

"Munitions and the technique of their use improved, but never again was the spirit or the quality of the officers and men so high, nor the general state of the training, leading and, above all, discipline of the new British armies in France so good. The losses sustained were not only heavy but irreplaceable."

Had it not been for the inexplicable stupidity of the Germans in provoking a quarrel with America and bringing that mighty people into the war against them just as they had succeeded in eliminating another powerful foe-Russia- the Somme would not have saved us from the inextricable stalemate.
                  War Memoirs of David Lloyd George, 1915-1916; Boston: Little Brown, 1933; pp 9-10

What Lloyd George fails to state is that the experience of the Somme caused the Germans to improve their defences by changing from a Static to a Mobile one - sadly it didn't cause Haigh to change his methods in the subsequent Battle of Passchendaele. The new German method of defence meant that relatively small numbers of German soldiers were in the Front line during the Passchendael bombardments but that German reinforcements could arrive quickly after the Bombardment stopped                             (Bourne p65).


Between the Somme and Passchendale

Not until the 27th of November did the Grenadier Guard Third Battalion move

"into camp at L’ARBRE FOURCHEE just north of BRAY taking over from the French. An excellent camp consisting of huts". However on December 1st they moved to a camp at MALTZHORNE Farm just south of TRONES WOOD. The camp was not a good one…"

Collapsing in the usual barn, we set about cleaning ourselves, our uniforms and equipment, and longed for nothing more than to rest and recuperate. But no, we were Guards. Parades and drill there had to be, with every man polished as though for ‘Buck(ingham palace) guard’. Woe betide anyone on whose boots the sergeant-Major could detect the slightest speck of mud. (Cliff, 1988, p48)

On the 2nd of December the Guards moved back into line and a typical mini action took place.
"The battalion section was N. of SAILLY-SAILLISEL and S of MORVAL. The ground had only recently been captured by the French and they had consequently not had time to organise it properly. The parapets were extremely thin. there were few if any fire steps. A long C.T. (Communication Trench) was in process of construction but communication with the front was entirely overground and lastly there was not a single strand of wire on our frontage. The enemy was 80 – 100 yards away from our left company.
As our left company was in the middle of its relief and some of our sentries hardly on the fire step 40 to 50 Germans attempted to make a raid on our left. They got right up to the parapet and shot a French machine gunner who was sitting on the saddle of his gun. the remainder of the gun team retreated hastily down a small c.trench when they met O.C. No 4 Company who endeavoured to turn them back without success. As there was no wire and the M.G. was not in action the enemy was enabled to seize it and carry it off. Rapid fire was however opened by us and any further development of the attack was frustrated." (
4 Grenadiers were killed and 10 wounded)
"A patrol on the evening of the 3rd found the bodies of 7 Germans belonging to a "Storm Section" of the 123rd Grenadier Regiment and near one body. Close to our parapet the French machine gun. This gun was subsequently returned undamaged to the French"

The rotation of Battalions at the front is evidence by the fact that on the 5th December they were marched back to MALTZHORN farm. "Last company arriving at 2.30 am". But on the 11th the 3rd Battalion were back in line. The conditions at the front were appalling:

12th 13th & 14th




15th

The weather conditions got still worse. It was intensely cold and the rain was punctuated with … snow and sleet. Work was concentrated on attempting to keep the parapet up and in digging out the bottom/ It was decided to hold the front line in "islands" and concentrate work on them. On the night of 14th /15th the Battalion moved back to DOULEUX WOOD. The men were in a most exhausted condition, being covered in mud up to their armpits and wet through. There was a number of cases of "trench feet".  On the morning of the 15th the Battalion moved by March route to TRONES WOOD Siding where it entrained and went into camp at BRONWAY FARM.

On the 19th. of December 1916, the battalion "Relieved 1st Battalion in the line. From this date tours were 48 hours. Conditions in the line had improved and there was a very hard frost on the 19th, 20th & 21st." Between the 10th and 31st of December 6 Grenadiers were killed and 12 Wounded.  No major action involving the 3rd Battalion of the Grenadiers Guards took place for the next 7 months, though according to the records 26 men died in the period up to the 20th July 1917.

When the battalion moved to Ypres, in preparation for the attack on Passchenael, William will have spent time at Poperingue.   He will almost certainly have visited Talbot House.  Padre Tubby Clayton, Garrison Chaplain of Poperinghe, took over a house rented by the British army and named it after Gilbert Talbot.  Gilbert had

been killed earlier in the war - the house, in signallers language, was called Toc H.  An organisation that my brother David and I joined in the 1950’s. "Its door was thrown wide open to the battered, deafened and bewildered lads locked in hellish slaughter …. To enter the door was to reach an oasis of peace and restfulness. A sign just inside and pointing back to the door said ‘Pessimists, Way Out’, another admonished "All rank abandon , ye who enter here’ and a third invited one to ‘Come upstairs and risk

 

meeting the chaplain.’ Climbing a wooden ladder, one reached ‘The Quiet Room’ a hop loft transformed into a chapel. Backless wooden forms face a carpenter’s bench serving as an altar on which rested a small ancient 

 Roman lamp kept perpetually alight.  Dropping on to a form, the tired lad felt a peaceful silence enveloping his spirit, and spreading a balm over his troubled mind. Here one could sit alone, with the hideous world of strife and hate and obscenity shut outside and collect one’s thoughts…

 

Padre Tubby Clayton’s love for his fellow-men permeated the building as an influence that was almost tangible and, resting its solacing presence, a peace passing all understanding… Thanks to him, countless men returned to the filth and holocaust of the Ypres Salient temporarily refreshed, cleansed and healed.
                                                                                                                           
(Cliff, 1988 p68)

 

 

Passchendael - Preparations

 

7th June 5000 yards of tunnels 6 ft high by 3 ft wide had been dug under Messines Ridge and at 3.10 am, 19 mines were exploded.

29th June Haig visited Fifth Army Corps commanders….."I emphasised the importance of securing the Gheluvet ridge to cover the right flank"… Cavan XIV Corps  "Everything is all right and the troops are in grand spirits"          Terraine, John 1977  The Road to Passchendaele. Leo Cooper : London pp180

7th July The guns of the XIV Corps on the left … suffered considerably from the enemy's fire. 27 guns out of 36 damaged"      Terraine pp194

June 14th
HERZERE
Belgium

On the 14th the Battalion moved to A12d17, with HQ in a farm house and the companies in bivouacs round two fields. The greatest attention had to be paid to camouflage, as German aeroplanes were continually flying over, & there was a certain amount of shelling of neighbouring guns
During the stay at A12d, fatigues were done nightly. About 300 men, on average, were employed nightly. Fatigues consisted chiefly of calling up T.G. ammunition to front line & sandbags and wire etc. to various places

15 July XIV Corps and the French Army commenced bombardment of the enemy's trenches. "This is the beginning of the great battle against the Passchendaele Ridge." Haig Diary

16th

The Battalion suffered a few casualties during this period. After the Battalion had been a few days the camp was shelled by 5.9" but owing to good fortune little damage was done. The only training done was a new class of signallers and stretcher bearers.

21st

On the night of 21/22 the Battalion relieved the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards

21st-25th

Right Brigade section of BOESINGHE
Dispositions were No 1 company 3 platoons in right front line, 1 in Wallrrantz (this had to be evacuated owing to heavy shelling)
No 2 Company 3 platoons in left front line, 1 in S line
No 3 Company in X line
No 4 Company, platoon in Y line (which was also evacuated) & 3 platoons at BLLIET FARM HQ at CHASSEUR PARK
There was a great deal of shelling during turn in the line and the Battalion suffered the following casualties in the five days: 27 killed, 11 died of wounds. Wounded 45 O.R. (
Other Ranks ie non-officers). Gassed 10 O.R. , Concussion 7 O.R. …

3rd Bn Grenadier Guard soldiers were Killed and 12 died of Wounds between the21st & 26rd July 25.

25th

On the night of the 25th/26 No 4 Coy were to have carried out a raid across the canal on this night to ascertain what enemy was holding the opposite front & to discover if the YPER LEE was a serious obstacle. On the previous night (24/25) 2 … had made an excellent reconnaissance of the canal and had marked four places over which the canal could be crossed without the men getting very wet, as in many places the water reached well up to their middles.

26th/27th

On the night of 26/27 the Battalion was relieved by the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards ……….. Battalion returned to Bivouac 10 (Forest Area). Here the final arrangements for the offensive were carried out, the attack was expected daily eventually settled to be to be the 31st. Zero at 3.50 am.

27th

29th

Major G.E.C. Rasch D.S.O. rejoined the Battalion from hospital.
50% of the details remaining out of this attack. Moved to HERREELE under Capt. J.Craip & 2 Lt FitzGerald. Remainder stayed in Bivouacs.

30th

At 9.30 pm on the 30th the Battalion moved off to go to the assembly area. Major Rasch D.S.O. remained in command of the details, of which there were approximately 40 a company

"Tuesday 31 July. Glass steady, Morning dull and coldish….Zero for all of the Fifth Army except 14th Corps was at 3.50 am (ie 2.50 GMT) For the latter Corps and the French it was 20 minutes later." Haighs diary report Warner pp46

Pilckem Ridge
31st July 1917 In many units the rum ration "traditional for men about to risk their lives for King and Country was issued" This was not to make them drunk It was intended to be just enough of a panacea to release their inhibitions a little for the trial that lay ahead (Steel & Hart p98)

Signaller Stanley Bradbury, Seaforth Highlanders describes the experience of "Going over the Top"

The order "Get ready, A Company!" was soon passed along and with bayonets fixed we prepared to clamber over the parapet. Two more minutes passed and then the sky was lit up by a tremendous sheet of flame from the boiling oil emitted from our trench. it was ten minutes to four on the morning of July 31st, a memorable morning indeed. It was quite dark and the sky overcast, but we had no time for contemplating, "Over the top!" was the order - and over we went. Behind us over 2,000 guns were blazing as hard as they could go, forming a splendid barrage which crept among in front of us and a 100 machine guns rattled incessantly making a curtain of fire about 30 yards in front of us. The noise was tremendous and shout as hard as you could it was impossible to make the next man next to you hear. It was each man for himself. I had only got two yards beyond the parapet when I tripped up on the broken barbed wire and fell full length. I got up and after another yard or two the lad on my side was struck down by a shell bursting very near and I again found myself sprawling on the ground…. Our objective consisted of the enemy’s first two lines of trenches but in the dark and excitement we had passed over these and were still progressing. What men the enemy had left in his first two lines must have been wiped out by our artillery, but on reaching his third line we encountered a few snipers and machine gunners. These were soon ‘napooed’ by short sharp rushes till we reached them. Then of course it was ‘Hands up!’ and a cry for mercy which they got - I don’t think! Fritz’s next line had many machine gun emplacements and the guns rattled away until they saw that the game was up, when they caved in and received the same treatment as their comrades in front…. There were five of us together, but as the shells seemed to burst all around in every direction, we rested awhile in a large shell hole where one of the chaps (who had a bottle of rum and had already indulged too much in it!) handed the bottle all round and we had a good ‘swig’."  
                                                     Signaller Stanley Bradbury, Seaforth Highlanders (Steel & Hart p104

In the third Battalion of the Grenadier Guards War Diary, the experience is described as follows:

31/7/17
7.55 am
BOESINGHE

Two platoons No. 3 Company assisted No 1. Company to dig in. The remainder of No. 3 dug a support line about 300 yards in rear of Green Line. The Germans put down their barrage on road (VOLCAN CROSSING – KORTE KEER cabin)
1 Platoon of 2nd Grenadier Guards assisted No 3 Company to capture a M/Gun post on right of Railway.

8.00 am
8.40 am

Covering patrols (2 Lewis Guns from each front Company) went out up to the Barrage.
2nd battalion Grenadier Guards commenced moving through.  The 3rd Battalion held their lines as above until after dark when No 1 company came back and dug a line on the left of GRAND BARRIERE House. No 2 Company continued to hod the green dotted line, No 3 Company the support line and No 4 Company the Blue Line. Exceptionally heavy rain fell all the evening & all night.  At 10 pm Lt M Ducquenog brought up Pack animals as far as the GRAND BARRIERE HOUSE with water, ammunition and rum which was issued to Companies on arrival

On the 31st July, The Fifth army (of which the Guards Brigade were a part) suffered 27,000 casualties killed, wounded and missing (Steel & Hart p136). For brigades hit badly, the impact is described by Company Sergt. Major John Handley:

On marching back behind Ypres, Brigadier Duncan, that hard stern soldier whom we feared, stood by the roadside taking the salute. ‘March to attention!’ rang out the order; then ‘Eyes right!’ and as we turned our heads we saw him standing erect, his right arm raised in the ‘salute’ and tears streaming down his face. It was indeed a sorry brigade he saluted that day - the remnants of battle - for barely a quarter of his men returned." Company Sergt. Major John Handley 1/6th Battalion, Kings’ Liverpool Regiment. (Steel & Hart, p 137)

1/8/17
6am

Battalion HQ moved into GRAND BARRIERE HOUSE. There was a good deal of shelling and Machine Gun fire all day. The Battalion was relieved immediately after dark by the 1st Battalion Irish Guards and marched back to Bivouac in the Forrest Area.

Forrest area

Total casualties in the battle = 26 killed, 113 wounded, 12 missing. 2 Lt B.J.Dunlop, Capt. G.W.East RAMC killed Sadly most of the missing men ‘died’, subsequent records name 35 men of the 3rd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards as dead.

2/8/17

The Battalion rested

3/8/17

The Battalion relieved the 1st Battalion Scots Guards in the 2nd Guards Brigade attacking front. The Battalion moving first by train to Elverdinghe and then by march route. During the relief 2Lt G.A.Webster was killed being hit by a shell. Disposition of Companies in the line were:

3/8/17

No 3 Company R.Front No 1 Company Grand Barriere Line
No 4 Company L.Front No 2 Company Blue Line
H.Q. Grand Barriere House
The Battalion held the line with slight casualties until the evening of 5th when they were relieved by the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards and on completion of relief the Battalion moved by motor busses to HERZEELE.

On the 5th of August: General Charteris wrote: "I went up to the front line this morning. Every brook is swollen and the ground is a quagmire" (Taylor, p165)

On the 15th August the 3rd Battalion moved to DE WIPPE CABARET. On the 16th the Battalion was in Corps Reserve whilst the 29th and 20th Divisions attacked. Haig wrote in his diary "XIV Corps are on the Red line i.e. has taken all objectives and over nine hundred prisoner were taken. Haig Diary, Duff Cooper ii. pp144-5

General Gough, in command of the Vth army was now horrified by the state of the battlefield. He reported as follows to Field Marshall Haig:

"The state of the ground was by this time frightful. The labour of bringing up supplies and ammunition, of moving or firing the guns, which had often sunk up to their axles, was a fearful strain on the officers and men, even during the daily task of maintaining the battle front. When it came to the advance of infantry for an attack, across the water logged shell-holes, movement was so slow and fatiguing that only the shortest advances could be contemplated. In consequence I informed the Commander-in-Chief that tactical success was not possible, or would be too costly, under such conditions, and advised that attacks should now be abandoned.
I had many talks with Haig during these days and repeated this opinion frequently, but he told me the attack must be continued…He saw the possibilities of a German victory, a defeat of the whole allied cause. There was only one army in the field in a position to prevent this disaster, and that was the British Army in France. On it fell this heavy burden."
Gough (Commander of the Fifth Army) p205 Terraine pp232


The Guards Battalion returned to HERZEELE on the 19th. On the 21st "the Brigadier presented medal ribbons to NCO’s & men who had gained them on the 31st."

27th

Battalion moved to DE WIPPE CAMP and continued training as before. Steady Drill, Physical Drill and Bayonet Fighting were done…They remained their until the 4th September

4th
Sheet 28 NW

Moved to ETON CAMP (B7d.99) This camp was tented, and was close to railway, consequently there was considerable bombing by hostile aircraft and the Battalion suffered 40 casualties

5th

400 men were required for laying out duck boards in the forward area. Individual training was done and young corporals paraded under the Sergeant Major daily. The assault was practised as there was a possibility of the Battalion taking part in a local attack. Although no deaths are recorded in the diary, five Grenadier Guards from the 3rd Battalion were killed on the 5th and six on the following 3 days.

13th

The Battalion moved to RUGBY CAMP (B10c) where individual training was continued. Camp was shelled intermittently at night but there were no casualties. Each tent or bivouac was dug down so that the men had cover from shell fire.

William Tall died on the 18th of September.  He was not involved in a major attack, but almost certainly in attempting to move a Lewis Gun from Rugby Dump to the front line.  The War Diary describes the event as follows:

17/18th

18th

Relieved the 1st Battalion Scots Guard in the right sub-section of BROENBEEK sector. Disposition No 1 Company Right front, No. 2 Left Front, No 3 Support No 4. Reserve. HQ in MARTINS MILL (U22 c12). A fairly good relief though considerable difficulty

18th


20th

was found in getting the Lewis Gun to the line as RUGBY DUMP (where Gun had been dumped) was heavily shelled, and guns were unloaded just in time to enable them to get clear. (This is almost certainly when William Tall died)
Owing to an attack taking place on our immediate right there was a good deal of hostile shelling and counter battery work ….
Total casualties for 4 days: 6 killed and 28 wounded.

What happened to William's body is unknown - shells may have destroyed it.  But conditions at that time were atrocious: bodies were buried and the grave markers subsequently lost:  By September:

 "Men of the strongest physique could hardly move forward at all and became easy victims to the enemy’s snipers. Stumbling forwards as best they could, their rifles also soon became so caked and clogged with mud as to be useless." (Taylor, p167)

The conditions when the Guards Brigade attacked on the 9th Oct 1917 graphically illustrates the problems William would have faced if he had survived:

The approach to the ridge was a desolate swamp…. far more treacherous than the visible surface defences with which we were familiar such as barbed wire; deep devouring mud spread deadly traps in all directions. We splashed and slithered and dragged our feet from the pull of an invisible enemy determined to suck us into its depths. Every few steps someone would slide and stumble and, weighed down by rifle and equipment, rapidly sink into the squelching mess. Those nearest grabbed his arms, struggled against being themselves engulfed and, if humanly possible, dragged him out. When helpers floundered in as well and doubled the task it became hopeless. All the straining efforts failed and the swamp swallowed its screaming victims, and we had to be ordered to plod on dejectedly and fight this relentless enemy as stubbornly as we did those we could see… To be ordered to go ahead and leave a comrade to such a fate was the hardest experience one could be asked to endure, but the objective had to be reached, and we plunged on, bitter anger against the evil forces prevailing , piled on to our exasperation. This was as near to Hell as I ever want to be. Private Norman Cliff, 1988, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards. Steel & Hart pp266

The numbers of soldiers that died at Passchendaele is, amazingly, uncertain

Source

British

German

Lloyd George

399,000

 

Churchill

400,000

 

Liddel-Hart & Taylor

lowest est. 300,000

200,000

Official History

244,897 (Wastage Removed)

 

Was Passchendaele a terrible blunder?. Read the following and see what you think:

Field Marshal Haig’s decision to launch an offensive in Flanders during the summer and autumn of 1917 was not itself a military blunder, but Haig failed to give enough consideration to the likely effects on the terrain, low-lying and prone to water-logging, and the forecast from the Meterological Office of rainy weather…. Before Haig made his decision to launch the battle of Passchendale he was warned by many people including the authoriative Belgian government department responsible, that if he bombarded the land around Ypres it would become a swamp. It had only been reclaimed from marshland by centuries of hard labour…. On 22 July 1917, 3091 British guns, including 1000 heavy mortars and howitzers began to pound the area with 4.25 million shells…. On every square yard of the ground nearly five tons of high explosive had fallen. The result was that the drainage system collapsed and the area was turned into heavy swamp by heavy rain. ….Haig then ordered hundreds of thousands of men to fight on foot in mud so deep that 90 men drowned in it. Assault after assault was ordered against German positions, many of which clung to what ridges remained, and the Germans were able to fire from firm footholds on British troops wading forward waist-deep through mud. From the comfort of their château headquarters miles from the front, Haig and his staff moved flags on wall maps and never knew what the conditions were like because they did not care to look for themselves.  Such generalship defies description."
             
(Geoffrey Regan, The Guinness Book of Military Blunders, Guiness:London p90)

The following quotations are eye-witness accounts of the Great War held in Flanders Field Museum, Ypres.

"I have just returned, last night, from a visit to Brigade Headquarters up the line, and I shall not forget it as long as I live. I have seen the most frightful nightmare of a country more conceived by Dante or Poe than by nature, unspeakable, utterly undescribable. In the fifteen drawings I have made I may give you some vague idea of its horror, but only being in it and of it can ever make you sensible of its dreadful nature and of what our men in France have to face. We all have a vague notion of the terrors of a battle, and can conjure up with the aid of some of the more inspired war correspondents and the pictures in the Daily Mirror some vision of a battlefield; but no pen or drawing can convey this country
- the normal setting of the battles taking place day and night, month after month. Evil and the incarnate fiend alone can be master of this war, and no glimmer of God’s hand is seen anywhere. Sunset and sunrise are blasphemous, they are mockeries to man,

only the black rain of the bruised and swollen clouds all through the bitter black of night is fit atmosphere in such a land. The rain drives on, the stinking mud becomes more evilly yellow, the shell holes fill up with green-white water, the roads and tracks are covered in inches of slime, the black dying trees ooze and sweat and the shells never cease. They alone plunge overhead, tearing away the rotting tree stumps, breaking the plank roads, striking down horses and mules, annihilating, maiming, maddening, they plunge into the grave which is this land; one huge grave, and cast upon it the poor dead. It is unspeakable, godless, hopeless. I am no longer an artist interested and curious, I am a messenger who will bring back the word from the men who are fighting to those who want the war to go on for ever. Feeble, inarticulate will be my message, but it will have a bitter truth, and may it burn their lousy souls.
Letter, Patti Nash, official war artist,
                                         18 November1917.

I died in Hell – (They called it Passchendale). Memorial tablet’, Siegfried Sassoon, November 1918

"The front is a cage in which men have to wait for the outcome of events with nerves on edge. With shells flying above our heads, we live in the tension of uncertainty. Chance hovers above us. When there is firing, I can stoop down, that is all. I can neither know exactly, nor influence, the direction of that fire.". Im Westen nichts Neues (‘All Quiet on the Western Front’), Erich Maria Remarque, Gefreite, 2. Garde-Reserve-Division.

"We could not believe that we were expected to attack in such appalling conditions. I never prayed so hard in all my life. I got down on my knees in the mud and I prayed to

God to bring me through. My whole life went before me and I couldn’t see any future. I really prayed, believe me." Interview, Pat Burns, Private, 46th Canadian Infantry Battalion, Passchendale,
                                 October-November 1917.

"There was not a sign of life of any sort. Not a tree, save for a few dead stumps which looked strange in the moonlight. Not a bird, not even a rat or a blade of grass. Nature was as dead as those Canadians whose bodies remained where they had fallen the previous autumn. Death was written large everywhere. Where there had been farms there was not a stick or stone to show. You only knew them because they were marked on the map. The earth had been churned and re-churned. It was simply a

soft, sloppy mess, into which you sank up to the neck if you slipped from the duckboard tracks and the enemy had the range of those slippery ways. Shell hole cut across shell hole. Pits of earth, like simmering fat, brimful of water and slimy mud, mile after mile as far as the eye could see. It is not possible to set down the things that could be written of the Salient. They would haunt your dreams.
Interview, R.A. Colwell, Private, Passendale,
                                              January 1918
.

The photographs below illustrate the conditions William faced at Passchendale:
http://british-forces.com/world_war1/Campaigns/west17.html

Source:

Above:
Infantry knee deep in mud.

http://www.worldwar1.com:

Above: British stretcher bearers. Pilck`em Ridge (near Boesinghe), 1-Aug-1917

After William’s death his wife and child were awarded a pension of 18 shillings and nine pence per week (just 94 pence per week – though, of course, it was worth far more in 1917) 
Index No M.R.30 Tyne Cot Memorial:
Part XX1 UK. No Known Grave
                               Tall Pte William Henry, 25104 3rd. Bn. The Queen’s 24 Sept 1917

However, according to William’s "Attestation of Service" William was "KILLED IN ACTION" on the 18th Sept 1917, and "Next of Kin were Notified" on the 6th October 1917.)  The 18th is also specified by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission - see below:

Name:

TALL, WILLIAM HENRY

Initials:

W H

Nationality:

United Kingdom

Rank:

Private

Regiment:

Grenadier Guards

Unit Text:

3rd Bn.

Date of Death:

18/09/1917

Service No:

25104

Casualty Type:

Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference:

Panel 9

Cemetery:

TYNE COT MEMORIAL

http://www.cwgc.org/    William Henry Tall

 

Location Information: The Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing forms the north-eastern boundary of Tyne Cot Cemetery, which is located 9 kilometres north east of Ieper town centre, on the Tynecotstraat, a road leading from the Zonnebeekseweg (N332). The names of those from United Kingdom units are inscribed on Panels arranged by Regiment under their respective Ranks. The names of those from New Zealand units are inscribed on panels within the New Zealand Memorial Apse located at the centre of the Memorial.

Postscript:     The description of the period when William was killed in Sir Frederick
                    Ponsonby's History of the Grenadier Guards

AUGUST: After three days’ rest in Forest Area the 3rd Battalion went by train to Elverdinghe, and marched up from there to the front line. While the relief was being carried out there was a good deal of shelling….. After a week’s rest at Herzeele, the 3rd Battalion moved into Corps Reserve, while the Twentieth and Twenty-ninth Divisions attacked on the 16th. It returned to Herzeele on the 19th, and on the 22nd went to De Wippe Camp.

SEPTEMBER: On September 4 the Battalion moved to Eton Camp, which was close to the railway, and therefore exposed to attacks by the enemy’s aircraft. There were no less than forty casualties from bombs dropped from aeroplanes. On the 12th the Battalion moved to Rugby Camp, which was regularly shelled at night, and then took over the trenches in the Broembeek sector. For four days it was subjected to considerable shelling, and on the 20th it prolonged the line to the left…
         Sir Frederick Ponsonby, 1920, Vol. 2 of "The Grenadier Guards in the Great War of 1914-1918".

 Return to  Military

References:
Beaver, P. (1973) The Wipers Times
Bourne J.M. (1989) Britain and the Great War 1914-1918. Edward Arnold:London A scholars text – supportive evidence given in detail.
Brown, M. ( ) The Imperial Museum Book of the Somme, Sidgwick and Jackson:London
Brown, M. (1998) The Imperial War Museum Book of 1918 Year of Victory Sidgwick & Jackson:London
Bullock, D.L. (1988) Allenby’s War: The Palestine-Arabian Campaigns 1916-1918 Blandford Press:London
Cliff, N. (1988) To Hell and Back with the Guards Steel & Hart
Duff Cooper ii. pp144-5 Haig Diary, (Bourne, 1989)
Farrar-Hockley, A.H. ( ) The Somme Pan
Haig Diary
Liddell Hart, B.H. (1970) History of the First World War Book Club Associates:London
Liddell Hart, (1934) "Lawrence of Arabia and After Jonathan Cape. reported in Bullock (1988)
Livesey, A. (1989) Great Battles of World War 1 Michael Joseph:London
Lloyd George, D. (1933) War Memoirs of David Lloyd George, 1915-1916; Boston: Little Brown,
MacDonald, L. Somme
Massey W.T., 1920, "Allenby’s Final Triumph" London:Constable (reported in Bullock (1988))
Middlebrook, First day of the Somme
Ponsonby, F. 1920, Vol. 2 of "The Grenadier Guards in the Great War of 1914-1918".
Regan, G., ( ) The Guinness Book of Military Blunders, Guiness:London
Steel & Hart
Taylor, p167
Terraine, John 1977 The Road to Passchendaele. Leo Cooper:London
Warner       Haighs diary report pp46
Winter&Baggett      p101

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