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Bugbrooke and the Great War - Page 5. June 1915 - October1915

Page 1 - Overview, Info & Articles Page 2 - August, September 1914 Page 3- October 1914 - January 1915
Page 4- February 1915 - May 1915 Page 5 - June 1915 - July 1915 Page 6   October15-January 1916
Page 7- February 1916 - May 1916 Page 8 June 1916 - Sept 1916 Page 9 October 16 - January 1917
Page 10 February - May 1917 Page 11 June - September 1917

Bugbrooke in the Great War.  Events 100 years ago June - July 1915

100 years ago, World War 1 was stagnating in the two largest theatres involving British forces at this time – the Western Front (France and Flanders) and the Dardanelles (the Allied landings on the Gallipoli peninsula).  There was some progress elsewhere, with substantial forces deployed by modern standards, though these were probably considered ‘sideshows’ at the time.

The strategically important campaign by Italy (which had only recently joined the Allied cause) against Austria-Hungary on its northern border did not yet involve major British units, though later in the war our own Northamptonshire Yeomanry would be in the thick of the fighting.

The actions in the Middle East, including so-called ‘Mesopotamia’ (modern Iraq) and in Africa were also important and all involved British or British-led forces.  In the former, Major-General Charles TOWNSHEND’s force advancing along the line of the Tigris had a notable success at Amara on 3 June, though he was later besieged and then captured at Kut.  Meanwhile in German South West Africa, German forces were cut off, surrendering to Union troops (joint British and South African) on 9 July.  However, in German East Africa, the German forces under Colonel Paul von LETTOW-VORBECK held out until after the 1918 Armistice.

Our local units, the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Northamptonshire Regiment, recovering from the heavy casualties taken in May, and its newly-arrived 5th (Pioneer) Battalion (formed in August 1914 and landed in France on 31 May) were occupied on relatively routine duties, making small sorties from the trenches, with periods of training behind the lines.  Any gains made by either side were measured in yards not miles and often conceded in later actions, the net result being the aforementioned stagnation.  The 6th (Service) Battalion of the Northamptons, formed in September 1914, landed in France on 26 July.

None of our local men were reported wounded during this period, though detailed communication was generally somewhat delayed.  The first public report of 9 May’s action appeared in local newspapers a month afterwards – ‘The Northamptons at Aubers Ridge’ in the Northampton Independent of 5 June, for example.  Similarly, the sad loss in action of Private James BARNES on 24 May at Ypres while serving with the 11th Hussars was reported in the Northampton Herald of 18 June, with his portrait [not clear enough to reproduce here]. 

We know about six other locals, including our one lady in uniform.  Newly-promoted Sister Eva MOORE, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve, arrived at Alexandria on 4 June, destined to spend the rest of the war in Egypt and Iraq.  Philip CAMPION, Warwickshire Yeomanry, already in Egypt, received notice in July to embark with his unit for Gallipoli.  Brothers Edwin and Henry BUBB went to France in July to join the 10th Hussars, which had been at the Front since October the previous year.  Andrew Albert EALES, a Platelayer with the GNWR, volunteered in June and was posted to the Royal Engineers (RE), destined for employment in a Railway Company.  Another former Bugbrooke pupil, Harry James AMBLER, enlisted on 6 July in London, where he had been employed as an Architect and Surveyor’s Assistant.  He too was accepted by the RE, in due course being commissioned as a Signals Officer in the Corps and serving in that protracted campaign in East Africa.

On the Home Front there were the first serious Zeppelin raids, with Kent, Essex and Yorkshire attacked on 4 June and the last suffering again on 6 June, when Hull, Grimsby and the East Riding were targeted. There was a further raid in the period, on 15 June over Northumberland, despite the first successful destruction of a Zeppelin in the air by one of our aircraft, on 7 June.  Young Flight Sub-Lieutenant ‘Rex’ WARNEFORD, Royal Naval Air Service, brought down Zeppelin LZ37, returning to its base after a raid, using small bombs (for his aircraft was otherwise unarmed) on the outskirts of Ghent in the early hours that morning, having braved not just the defensive gunfire, but the cold and thin air at the height the airships could reach.  Prompted by the King himself, the award of a Victoria Cross (VC) to WARNEFORD was announced in the London Gazette on 11 June, by which time he was in Paris to receive a Légion d’Honneur.  Sadly this 23-year old national hero was killed in a flying accident near Paris on 17 June, before he had been invested with his VC.

Back at home, on 14 July the National Registration Act was passed, and on 15 July Welsh miners went on strike, affecting the supply of coal to the Royal Navy (for its steam-powered ships).

In Bugbrooke, news was less dramatic, with the school just re-opened following five weeks of closure during a measles outbreak.  The headmaster, Frank WRIGHT, in something of an understatement, wrote in the School Log on 19 July “Have been examining the children … the closure has affected their work”.  At the School, young Fred CHAPMAN (just 15 years old) had passed a trial period in June as PT Instructor and was taken on full-time from 31 July.  In the village itself, the annual ‘June Holiday’ took place, organised by the Rector, with the usual Church Service, games and festivities, but no procession around the village this year or evening dancing when the band played.  A collection gathered 300 eggs for donation to Northampton Hospital as extra treats for wounded soldiers, with £1.15s.3d passed to the Matron to provide tobacco and cigarettes for those patients.

Though the School Log noted on 21 June that it is “very hot”, we read elsewhere that harvest celebrations were late that year because of a “wet summer”, so we assume that July was not as fine as the previous month.

Roger Colbourne for the 100 Years Project

 

 From the Northampton Independent 1915

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Bugbrooke and the Great War – August - September 1915

  The bigger picture

100 years ago it was a full year since the war had started; and there was no end even remotely in sight. In the ill fated Gallipoli campaign it was the time of the August offensive with the British landing at Suvla Bay (this followed the earlier landings by Australian and New Zealand forces at Anzac Cove) and a series of fierce and costly, but largely indecisive battles.

On the Eastern Front this was a time of military humiliation for Britain’s ally Russia at the hands of German forces. The Russian army suffered enormous losses and the front was pushed back deep into Russia itself. Russia at this time was still under the rule of Czar Nicolas II, and after these defeats he personally took over the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army.

At sea the German U boats were causing havoc to merchant shipping. This posed a real threat to Britain’s food supplies. The U boats did not however have it all their own way. During these months two U boats were sunk by HMS Baralonga. She was a so called Q-ship- an armed merchant vessel used as a decoy. Any celebration of these successes however must have been marred by news that all the survivors from the first U boat had been killed in a ”take no prisoners” spree (the so called Baralonga Incident).

On the Western Front at the end of September major allied offensives were attempted in Champagne-Ardenne and Loos-Artois. The main British offensive was at the Battle of Loos. This was the first battle in which Kitchener’s New Army took part. It was also the first battle in which the British deployed poison gas. Despite some early success, neither the Battle of Loos nor the other, mainly French, offensives were successful in breaking the deadlock on the western front. The casualties were enormous: 61,000 on the British side alone. Of these 7,766 men died (including one from Bugbrooke as we will hear later). One chilling report after the battle stated “From what I can ascertain, some of the divisions did actually reach the enemy’s trenches, for their bodies can now be seen on the barbed wire.”

What was Philip CAMPION doing?

After spending some time in Egypt, his troop were suddenly issued with infantry equipment and, leaving their horses behind, were marched off in the boiling sun to the docks. Here they boarded the Cunard liner Ascania and set sail to take part in the Gallipoli campaign. They passed first through the Grecian Archipelago, which Philip describes as enchanting and ”making a fine picture. “ He then adds “that great disaster of the sinking of the Royal Edward, when so many lives were lost, happened just in front of us, which rather spoiled the picture.” (He is ever the master of understatement. It was not only in the Atlantic that U boats were active. Among the dead were two men from Raunds).

After being transferred to the Battleship Doris Philip and his regiment were taken to Suvla Bay on the Gallipoli peninsular to reinforce the troops who had landed there a few days earlier. “Although we were fortunate enough to land without being shelled, we were not ashore many minute before we received our baptism of fire. This is where one’s keenness for battle receives its death blow.”

However into battle he was shortly to go. He describes an occasion when they had to march across a dry salt lake: “... we set off, the whole Waricks Yeoman division leading the way in line of troop columns, a splendid target...Then the fun began; a barrage of shrapnel was put up, which seemed impossible to get through alive, but Sir Ian Hamilton was good enough to say in his dispatch that the march was as if on parade.”

Philip survived that and other engagements, but eventually succumbed to dysentery and had to be invalided out. “Thus I left Gallipoli after seven weeks of it, a short time before the actual evacuation.”

Sappers from Bugbrooke

It seems that prior to the war quite a few men from Bugbrooke worked on the railways, mainly as platelayers. Of 161 men with Bugbrooke connections who took part in the war, at least 14 were previously railway workers.

Between 31st July and the end of September 1915 six Bugbrooke men were posted abroad as sappers in the Royal Engineers. Many, and possibly all, had previous civilian experience of railway work.

George Frank EALES enlisted as a sapper in the Royal Engineers in April 1915 and embarked on 31st July. He served in Salonica as a platelayer in a Railway Company of the Royal Engineers until 1919. He was known to the army as a sober, reliable, hardworking man and was mentioned in dispatches by Lieutenant-General Sir Gervaise Milne Vide.

Andrew Albert EALES (twin brother of George Frank- both were platelayers at the time of the 1911 census) volunteered in June 1915 and in September was drafted to the eastern theatre of war. He served first in Egypt and later Palestine as a sapper in a railway company of the Royal Engineers.

Fred Lowe SAUNDERS also volunteered as a sapper, and embarked for France on 3rd September1915. He was later to go Egypt and worked on the Kantara to Romani railway. Fred’s father was a platelayer. The family lived at Norton’s Barn.

Oliver MEAD was the son of a railway ganger. He enlisted as a sapper in the Royal Engineers and was posted to 115 Railway Company. He left for France on 3rd September 1915 and he too was later to go to Egypt.

Herbert William ROBINS was a farm labourer in 1911. After enlisting he also was posted to 115 Railway Company, sent to France on 3rd September and later served in Egypt.

Stephen HOWARD was a railway labourer in 1911. After enlisting he was posted to 117 Railway Company. He served in the Balkans from 27th September 1915. He was later promoted from private soldier to second corporal.

Charles TURLAND: another Victim of the War

Charles TURLAND was an apprentice wheelwright in 1911. He would have been about 21 when he volunteered in September 1914. A year later saw him arrived in France with the “Mobbs Own” 7th battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment. Within four weeks his battalion was engaged in the Battle of Loos. Charles never came back. His photograph appeared in the Northampton Independent on 30th October1915, the caption saying he was reported missing between 25th and 27th September, adding poignantly that his mother would be grateful for information.

Charles was the fourth man from Bugbrooke to be killed in the war. He is commemorated on the Loos memorial, his body having never been identified.

Back in Bugbrooke – the Harvest Holiday

A hundred years ago the school summer holidays were not fixed long in advance as they are now. Instead an almost last minute decision was made dependent on the state of the harvest. Indeed the holiday was then known as the harvest holiday; and it lasted for one month. In 1914 the harvest was early and it was decided on 22nd July to close the school on 31st July and reopen on 31st August. The previous year the holiday had been later: 15th August to 15th September. In 1915 the harvest was later still. The School Log for 10th August records that the harvest holiday would commence as from Friday 20th August, the recent wet weather having “backwarded” what would otherwise have been an early harvest.

The reason for linking the holiday to the harvest must have been because the children were needed to help with the harvest. This was the case even before the war. How much more important their contribution must have become now that so many men were had volunteered for military service. The burden on women, children and older men would of course become even greater after the introduction of conscription the following year The threat posed by the U boats to food imports must also have made the home harvest even more critical. All in all the harvest holiday was probably not much of a holiday for many.

Jim Inch for the 100 years project