| Bugbrooke LINK
...the website for the village of Bugbrooke, Northamptonshire
Bugbrooke and the Great War - Page 8 June 1916 - September 1916
100 Years Ago, June-July 1916
There were many conflicts within the First World
War, but none more bloody than the
For Bugbrooke it was a sad time as the losses
directly affected village families.
Sergeant Eric Poole was in the 2nd Battalion of
the Northants Regiment and later with the 8th Battalion the
Gloucestershire Regiment. Eric was well known in Bugbrooke, as he wrote
several letters to the School, which
Also killed at this time was John Thomas Holt. John was from London, but had married Elsie Grant of Bugbrooke in 1910. He was killed on the 27th June, at the Somme, and is remembered on the headstone to Elsie in Bugbrooke Churchyard. She died in 1968.
Conscription had been introduced earlier in 1916,
but 100 years ago, the goalposts were widened so that all men between
the ages of 18 and 41 including married men were eligible to be called
up, including those previously considered as not medically fit.
Naturally men were appealing against their call up. With conscription
now in force, the first hearings against conscription were being held.
Edgar Lovell appealed on the basis that his wife and mother were
dependant on him and he was given temporary exemption until the 6th
September. He later served in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps and then
the Royal Ordinance Company through to 1919, and eventually died in
1953. George Russell, from Flore, attested in December 1915 in front of
Frank Wright the Bugbrooke School Head. He
Further away from the war, life was going on in a
remarkably normal matter.
100 Years Ago – August and September 1916
During August and September 1916 the Battle of the Somme continued to dominate the First World War. The BBC recently screened three programmes entitled “From Both Sides of The Wire” where historian Peter Barton used British and German records to shed light on why this battle resulted in such dreadful slaughter. In these two months it was actually a whole series of battles - Delville Wood, Pozières, Guillemont, Ginchy, Flers-Courcelette, Morval and Thiepval – with some small gains changes of territory but enormous loss of life and injuries. A number of Bugbrooke men were involved and many suffered. September also saw the first mass use of tanks on the battle front.
Several locals had been employed by railway companies before the war and most of them served in the Royal Engineers using their skills for the war effort. Typical of these was HORACE GARDNER who was born in Bugbrooke, one of six children of Josiah Gardner and his first wife Emma (nee Turland). Before the war Horace worked for the London & North Western Railway as a platelayer. He joined up in August 1916 and went into the Royal Engineers (RE) as a private soldier (called a ‘Sapper’ in the RE). He was drafted to the Western Front and served at many places including the Somme. His skill as a platelayer would have been vital as many hundreds of miles of railway were laid to serve the front and many were damaged and needed repair.
But not all those working on the railways were sent to the Western Front. FRED SAUNDERS, HERBERT ROBINS, OLIVER MEAD and ALBERT EALES were working on the Kantara to Romani railway in Egypt. Kantara is situated on the Suez Canal and Romani is in the Sinai Desert.
Another local man, PHILIP CAMPION of the Warwickshire Yeomanry, was in the same area – there to defend the railway. In his report written after the war (available on the this website ) he describes his arrival in Kantara as follows.
“Nothing out of the ordinary occurred while there, the temperature rose to 125 degrees (Fahrenheit – equivalent to 51°C) in the shade for two days. We were finding out on its edge, what a desolate place the Sinai desert is, hundreds of miles of undulating sand, with here and there a larger depression in which a few palm trees grew…. I don’t know whether you are aware of the really important part played by Bugbrooke in the construction of this line which ultimately reached Jerusalem. I visited the company of Engineers working at the railhead one day and there saw Messrs. Fred Saunders, Bert Robbins, Oliver Mead and Bert Eales; we had a word or two about Bugbrooke!”
The Battle of Romani took place on the 4th and 5th August and fortunately all the Bugbrooke men survived. The British, Australian and New Zealand forces were up against the combined forces of the Germans, the Ottoman Empire and the AustroHungarians. The importance of the railways in supplying troops, armaments and supplies to the front is fairly well known. Less well known is that canals were also used, as illustrated in the photograph below. It is quite likely that some Bugbrooke men with their knowledge of the local canal were employed in the companies of the Royal Engineers that manned and repaired the canals in France.
In the summer of 1916 there were still Bugbrooke men heading for the Western Front. HERBERT HENRY MOORE was born in Bugbrooke in 1890. He was one of five surviving children of Griffith Moore, a coachman, and his mother Ellen. His mother died in late 1910 and by early 1915 he was living with his widowed father in Boston, Lincolnshire, working as a butcher. Herbert attested at Lincoln on 17th November 1915 for the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) as a Gunner (private soldier) and was placed on the Reserve. He was mobilised on 15th May 1916 and reported to Great Yarmouth for basic training. By the 26th August he was on his way to France eventually joining No. 9 Siege Battery in the following spring.
Fred Saunders in his Bugbrooke football strip in 1920 Herbert Robins in his Bugbrooke football strip in 1910.
WILLIAM HERBERT ASHBY was the eldest of six children of John Ashby, an agricultural labourer, and his wife Sarah. William was married with four young children, but nevertheless attested for the army on 30th November 1915 but was placed on the Army Reserve and returned home. He was eventually mobilised on 29th May 1916, reporting to the Northamptonshire regimental depot. Posted to the 3rd Battalion at Gillingham in Kent he remained there until 14th September when he travelled to Folkestone and embarked for France. He landed at Boulogne and joined the 6th (Service) Battalion ‘in the field’ at the end of September.
Back in Bugbrooke the school had been closed since 18th August for the “Harvest Vacation”. The Headmaster writes in the School Log on the 18th September.
“School should have re-opened but in consequence of the very wet weather and backward condition of the harvest I have received instructions from the Chairman to close the school for another week.”
He notes that the re-opening was indeed on the 25th September.
Dave Marshall for the 100 Years Project.