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Bugbrooke and the Great War - Page 8 June 1916 - September 1916

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 - September 1915 Page 6   October15-January 1916
Page 7- February 1916 - May 1916 Page 8- June 1916 - Sept 1916 Page 9 October 16 - January 1917

 100 Years Ago, June-July 1916

There were many conflicts within the First World War, but none more bloody than the
Battle of the Somme, which started a hundred years ago in July. Each allied infantryman
carried 70lbs of equipment, and staggered into no man’s land in the allied attack. Thousands were cut down in the first 5 minutes. There were 57,470 British casualties on the first day; 19,240 died. One soldier reported home “but all cheerful for they told us it was a day of glorious success.” In fact they captured 3 square miles on that day. The action lasted for 5 months and by the end there were over 1 million casualties on both sides.

For Bugbrooke it was a sad time as the losses directly affected village families.
Mark Clarke with his brother Walter, lived in Great Lane, where their father was a gardener and in 1901, Mark was employed at age 13 as an agricultural labourer. Both Mark and Walter joined the army together before 1911, and served in the 1st Battalion, Northamptonshire Regiment in the Expeditionary Force of 1914. Walter was the first Bugbrooke soldier to be killed in October 1914, and in July 1916 Mark was killed at the Battle of the Somme. Mark had fought in the Retreat from Mons, and at the Battles of the Marne, the Aisne, Ypres, Aubers Ridge, Festubert, Loos, and Albert. Battles where the Northants Regiment had taken very heavy casualties.

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
were mentioned in the School Letters sent out in the village, and visited the school on his periods of leave. He was also very popular in the Regiment amongst his comrades. During
the battle of the Somme on the 29th July, he was wounded inno man’s land. He was taken to the dressing station and while his wound was being attended to, a shell fell near and
killed him instantly. A year earlier he had received a bullet wound to the head at Neuve Chapelle, and was invalided home with shock. While recovering he was employed at the
Northampton Regiment depot for some time.
Eric was born in Bugbrooke, and lived in Ace Lane with his parents. He joined the army in 1906 aged 16. In 1913 he was stationed in Malta and Egypt, and described meeting
other Bugbrooke soldiers in his letter to the school of 14th February 1914. There are many references to Eric’s Letters which can be read on the Bugbrooke LINK website.

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
was also given a temporary exemption until September, because his employer required him to run the business. He was a dairy herd manager and smallholder. He eventually served, but only in England, and was discharged in 1917, no longer physically fit for service.

Further away from the war, life was going on in a remarkably normal matter.
The London 6 week opera season was just starting; Coca Cola introduced its famously contoured bottle;.The Whitsun holidays were going on, and the school was ordering 3 tons of coal and 12 tons of coke for the winter school heating. Empire day was celebrated at
Bugbrooke school on the 27th May. At 11-30am the school assembled at the front
and saluted the flag, sang patriotic songs and gave 3 cheers for the king.
Geoff Cooke for the 100 Years Project

 

 

Eric Poole

 

 

 

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.