Chesterfield Sherwoods on the Somme

 

1st July - 18th November 1916

 

 

17th (Service) Battalion (Welbeck Rangers)

Nottingham and Derbyshire Regiment (Sherwood Foresters)

 

117th Brigade, 39th Division, V Corps

 

Synopsis of 39th Division:-

The 39th Division moved to France at the end of February 1916 and during the following months began to train and gain experience in trench warfare. During August 1916 the Division moved towards the Somme region and for most of the Battle of the Somme the 117th Bde of the 39th Division were serving in front line trenches around Hamel, both north and south of the River Ancre. The Division were instructed to renew the attacks around a spur at the south of Beaumont-Hamel, which had been suspended since the 1st July. This attempt however, like those earlier in the summer, were to prove very costly and relatively ineffective. The 17/SF took part in the Ancre Operation on the 3rd September, which involved an attack on the German trenches opposite Hamel in which they suffered over 450 casualties. They were later part of the final attack on St Pierre Divion and the push to take the Hansa Line on the 13th November.

 

Index to page:-

Attack at Beaumont Hamel (September 3rd)

Casualties for the 3rd September

Decorated for Gallantry and devotion to duty on 3rd September

Front line trenches (September 12th)

Move to the Serre Section (September 20th - 30th)

17/SF Time line (October to November)

 

 

Attack at Beaumont Hamel

(September 3rd)

 

Ancre 3 Sept 1916.jpg (164933 bytes)

Operations on the Ancre, 3rd September 1916

 

 

The Welbeck Rangers moved into trenches south of Beaumont-Hamel on the 2nd September and attacked the following morning at 5am. 20 Officers and 650 other ranks went into action, capturing the German Front line before being held up at the second by heavy machine gun fire. They suffered over 450 casualties before being withdrawn that evening to Mailly-Maillet. Their sister Battalion, the Chatsworth Rifles, provided carrying parties during the assault and also suffered their own share of casualties.

The move up to the front line trenches was complete by 10.12 p.m. on the 2nd and assembly of the Bn in No Mans Land was complete by zero hour. No casualties were reported for this phase of the operation.

The leading ("A" Coy) had taken the German front line by 6 a.m., but with heavy casualties and reinforcements were at once requested. One Officer and about 30 men succeeded in making it to the German second line but were forced to retire due to the lack of support. The following day the O.C. 17 Bn Sherwood Foresters provided a rough estimate of the casualties suffered during the advance into the German front line:-

"A" Company, about 50%; "B" Company, about 75%; "C" Company, about 50%; "D" Company was split between different waves to protect the flanks.

The following notes were collected from N.C.Os. and men who participated in the attack:-

 

"The dug-outs and front line were all smashed in, and what appeared to have been dug-outs were made from railway line and wood work."

"The handle brush bomb was used by them with timing mark 5 1/2 secs. it did not appear to outrange ours."

"All or practically all carrying parties were knocked out."

"They counter-attacked from both our right and left flanks with bombing parties of about 20-30 men and all in shirt sleeves and over the top."

"Very little S.A.A. was used, but all the bombs were got rid of the two carrying parties sent up on different occasions with bombs and S.A.A. did not reach them."

"The Machine Guns could not be accurately located but fired from both flanks and front.

"All our casualties were nearly all from bombs and shell fire and a certain amount of machine gun. Bombs were thrown at our first wave from their front line. They barraged their own front line after we got in an NO MANS LAND with 5.9 and Trench Mortars"

"Their casualties appeared to be very heavy and the trenches in parts full of dead."

"There were a good many men in their second line but the party did not stay long enough to see any dug-outs as they were outnumbered."

"The wire opposite us was not very well cut in places and several men got hung up."

"He amused himself in the afternoon by sniping our wounded in NO MANS LAND, this I believe also occurred on my right"

 

At 2pm orders were dispatched for all assaulting troops to withdraw to the British trenches and the battalion spent the night at Mailley-Maillet Wood.

 

British 303.JPG (20375 bytes)

British .303s in front on Beaumont Hamel, June 2002

 

 

 

Casualties for the 3rd September

 

Total casualties for the attack on the 3rd were:-

 

Officers

Killed:- 

Major G Stollard (OC "A" Company); Captains R.G. Hopewell, S.F. Brookfield, F.C. Singleton, G.P. Littlewood.

Wounded:-

Captains F.R. Turner, R.S. Wright; Lieuts B.J. Ross; 2nd Lieuts W.N. Birkin, E.P. Acrill-Jones, T.C. Nugent, J.W. Salisbury.

Wounded and Missing:-

Captain H.V. Walters; Lieut B.F. Buck; 2/Lt M.A. Ellissen

 

Other Ranks

Killed - 59

Wounded - 155

Missing - 221

Wounded at duty - 1

Total - 436

 

Men of the 17th. Bn. Sherwood Foresters laid to rest in the

ANCRE BRITISH CEMETERY, BEAUMONT-HAMEL

Information courtesy of Hugh Burkinshaw

 

Surname

P

Forename(s)

Rank

NO.

From

Died

Age

Grave

ALLEN

9

S

Pte.

26226

Arnold

03/09/16

 

VI.C.26

BARRATT

11

W.H.

Serjt.

28393

Bingham

03/09/16

 

VI.D.28

BOUGHEY

13

A

Pte.

30557

Bolsover

03/09/16

21

VI.D.27

BULLOCK

14

Edwin

Pte.

42784

Grantham

03/09/16

26

VI.A.23

BURTON

15

James

Pte.

32482

Old Basford

03/09/16

20

VI.F.27

CONEY

17

Greenfield

Pte.

30411

Worksop

03/09/16

19

VI.C.31

CROFT

18

Charles Thomas

Pte.

41472

Tibshelf

03/09/16

36

II.C.6

CRUMP

19

Stephen George Arthur

Pte.

32641

Kinoulton

03/09/16

20

VI.A.24

CULLEN

19

L

Pte.

28491

Lincoln

03/09/16

19

II.B.40

DALBY

19

H

Pte.

32491

Ruddington

03/09/16

24

II.A.4

DERBYSHIRE

20

J

Pte.

41278

Matlock

03/09/16

 

II.D.22

FALIN

22

J

Pte.

30576

Chesterfield

03/09/16

 

II.A.21

GARBUTT

24

William

Pte.

28083

Chorley

03/09/16

41

V.A.27

HANFORD

27

E

Pte.

29838

Thorneywood

03/09/16

 

I.D.41

HUMPHREYS

30

E

Cpl.

31763

Nottingham

03/09/16

 

II.A.31

HUNT

30

Frederick

Lce.Cpl.

28068

Beeston

03/09/16

25

I.B.32

LEE

34

A

Pte.

27777

Mansfield

03/09/16

 

II.F.5

LITTLEWOOD

35

George Patrick

Capt.

 

Mansfield

03/09/16

27

II.D.8

MELLOR

38

W

Pte.

31749

Buxton

03/09/16

 

II.A.3

PHILLIPS

41

R B

Pte.

31288

Nottingham

03/09/16

 

VI.C.21

PICKIN

41

Phillip

Pte.

18711

Longton

03/09/16

23

VII.B.26

PILSWORTH

41

G H

Lce.Cpl.

31771

Newark

03/09/16

 

V.B.15*

POLLARD

42

Percy

Lce.Cpl.

32385

New Stapleford

03/09/16

19

VI.F.9

RAWSON

43

W

Serjt.

27565

Jacksdale

03/09/16

 

VI.F.23

RUDD

45

G E

Pte.

27127

Nottingham

03/09/16

18

VI.C.33

SMEE

47

A E

Pte.

4106

Cambridge

03/09/16

28

I.D.37

SUTTON

49

J J

Pte.

27149

Ripley

03/09/16

 

V.B.16

THACKER

50

J A

Serjt.

27524

Nottingham

03/09/16

 

VI.F.28

THORPE

51

J H

Pte.

27512

Burton-on-Trent

03/09/16

44

II.A.38

TRUSWELL

51

T

Pte.

32062

Old Radford

03/09/16

20

V.F.34

WALTERS

52

Harold Victor

Capt.

"A"Coy

West Bridgford

03/09/16

24

VI.B.23

WIGLEY

54

R

Pte.

30551

Derby

03/09/16

 

I.C.49

WILKINSON

54

Albert

Pte.

31009

Mansfield

03/09/16

27

II.F.24

WITHERS

55

Samuel

Pte.

32067

Balderton

03/09/16

41

VI.E.23

* Denotes "Buried near this spot."

 

 

 

A more comprehensive list of casualties will appear shortly - in the meantime here are the details of a few of the men from North Derbyshire that were killed during the attack on the 3rd September:-

 

27807 Pte John Flint Wheeldon, 117 Vernay Street, New Houghton (Pleasley), was killed in action on September 3rd. Pte Wheeldon enlisted into the Sherwood Foresters in July 1915. Previous to enlisting he worked at Pleasely Colliery.

and

27815 Pte John Morris, 9 Vernay Street, New Houghton (Pleasley), was killed in action on September 3rd. Pte Morris enlisted in July 1915 and he also worked at Pleasley Colliery.

[Derbyshire Times, Saturday, October 7, 1916]

 

30557 Pte Alick Boughley was killed in action on September 3rd aged 21. Commemorated on the Bolsover War Memorial and Parish Church Plaque.

 

30056 Cpl E Wilcox, 79 Setwyn Street, Hillstown, killed in action on 3rd September. Commemorated on the Bolsover War Memorial and Parish Church Plaque.

[Derbyshire Times, Saturday, October 7, 1916]

 

23332 Pte M Holland, commemorated on the Clay Cross Memorial

"Nothing has been heard of Pte M Holland since Sept 3rd and is now officially posted as 'missing'. He resided with his sister at No 11 Tunnel Road, Clay Cross and before joining the Army worked as a Banksman at the Morton Colliery. He was aged 38 years and single. Enlisting in February, 1915 he saw service in Egypt prior to France. He was well-known locally and a member of the Hand and Heart Friendly Society."

[Derbyshire Times, Saturday, November 4, 1916]

 

31120 Pte Charles Norman was killed in action on 3 September aged 42. Enlisted in September 1915 prior to which he had worked at the Cresswell Colliery for 18 years. His wife lived in Bournemouth. Commemorated on the Creswell Village Memorial.

"He was killed while taking part in an attack on the German front line system. His work as a stretcher bearer was of an arduous and dangerous character, and he would be carrying out his duty as well and bravely as he always did. A few weeks ago his Company Commander told me that he was the most valuable stretcher-bearer in the Company, and he was also killed on the same day as your husband."

"He was buried in a small British Cemetery close to where he was killed and a cross with his name and regiment inscribed upon it has been placed at the head of the grave."

[Derbyshire Times, Saturday, November 4, 1916]

 

29639 L/Cpl Ernest Clay from Alfreton. A signaller he was killed in action on September 3rd aged 23. He joined the Welbeck Rangers in August 1915 and had been at the Front for six months.

[Derbyshire Times, Saturday, September 30, 1916]

 

29346 Pte Frederick Croft killed in action on 3rd September aged 19. He had been in France for 6 months and prior to enlisting he had worked for Messrs Wrigley and Son, confectioners of Matlock. Matlock War Memorial.

[Derbyshire Times, Saturday, September 30, 1916]

 

 

 

Decorated for Gallantry and devotion to duty on 3rd September

 

Recommended by Lt Col H Millward OC 17/SF for theMilitary Cross (MC)

2 Lieut W.N. Birgin, 

2 Lieut M.A. Ellison

Recommended by Lt Col H Millward OC 17/SF for the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM). 

Awarded the Military Medal on 28/9/16

27675 Sergt W. Brown

31287 Cpl J.W. Porter

31928 Cpl J.J.S Harvey

32471 Pte A. Clarke

27399 Pte T Clarke (attached 117 TM Battery)

Recommended by Lt Col H Millward OC 17/SF for the Military Medal (MM)

32566 Pte F. Whale

28575 Pte C. Hind

29331 Pte T Scotney (killed in action on 3/9/18)

28189 Pte L Pinkett

28218 Pte E Copley

 

 

 

 

Front line trenches

September 12th-19th

 

On 12th September after undergoing Battalion organisation and training (and the arrival of over 12 Officers and 350 men) the 17/SF relieved the 16/SF in the front line trenches. The Battalion supported an attack on the left flank by the 4th and Reserve Army with Lewis gun and rifle fire. 

A trench raiding party consisting of 1 Officer and 20 men attempted to capture a German prisoner but failed to find a gap in the wire.

The following day the Bn was relieved by the 1/4th Black Watch and the Battn moved into billets at Beuassart.

Casualties during this period in the stenches totalled 1 Officer and man killed and 6 OR wounded.

 

On the the 18th September, 2/Lt Tom Black from Brampton was killed, he had only been in France for 14 days. Educated at Chesterfield Grammar School (but his name does not appear on the School Memorial). He landed in France on Sept 3rd and was killed on the 18th.

 

 

 

 

Move to the Serre Section

September 20th - 30th

 

On the 20th September the Battalion moved into trenches in the Serre Sector (right sub-section); "B" and "C" Companies were in the front line, "A" Company in support and "D" Company in reserve. The Battalion War Diary reports "Trench routine, situation normal" for the 10 days that they were in the front line. Relieved by the 1/Royal Berks on the 30th September. 

Total casualties during the 10 days were 2 OR killed and 7 OR wounded.

 

17/SF Time line (October to November):-

2 -4  October - Hedauville

5 - 9 October - Front line near Thiepval (enemy attacked with flamethrowers repulsed on the 8th)

10 - 15 October - Martinsart Wood

[28805 Pte Hosea Wheatcroft was killed in action on 10th October. Commemorated on the Shirebrook Memorial Plaque]

16 - 19 October - Front line trenches near Thiepval (River section)

20 October - North and South Buffs

21 October - Carrying parties to front line. "A" Coy attacked south of River Ancre and gained ground near Pope's nose. 

[See 16th Battalion Sherwood Foresters]

22 October - Took over old German front line trenches near Thiepval

23 October - North and South Buffs

24 Ocotber - Front line 

25 October - South and Central Buffs

27 October - Front line trenches successful bombing attack on the 29 October

3 November - Front line trenches

5 November - Martinsart Wood

6 November - Front line trenches

13 November - In Reserve at Paisley Avenue. At 9.15 a.m. "A" and "B" Companies sent forward to clear dugouts in captured trenches.

 

25150 Pte Samuel Jones died shortly after being wounded in the chest and back. Youngest son of Mr and Mrs Jones of Pisley. Aged 22 he worked at Tibshelf Colliery and enlisted on July 7th 1915. Commemorated on The Pilsley Memorial

[Derbyshire Times, Saturday, November 4, 1916]