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Bugbrooke and the Great War - Page 14 June - September 1918

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 December 16 - January 1917
Page 10 February - May 1917 Page 11 June - September 1917 Page 12-Oct 1917-Dec 1917
Page 13 February - May 1918 Page 14 June to September 1918 Page 15 -Oct 1917-Dec 1918

100 Years Ago - June and July 1918

One hundred years ago, World War 1 had been running for almost 4 years. Around 150 men from Bugbrooke, a village with around 150 dwellings at that time, had enrolled or been conscripted into the forces, and everyone would have known someone close who had been killed or injured.

In the school records there is an entry for June 14th stating that Mrs Collins, a teacher at the school, was given leave of absence to visit her injured brother, Private Christopher Wilson, who was in hospital in Warrington after serving on the French front and probably wounded. We don’t know a lot about Christopher’s service. His war records are missing as are many more following a fire at the records office. We do know that he was born in 1899 and so would have been only 19 at this time. We see from the 1911 census, when he was 11 years old, that he had a sister Lily who was 21 and a teacher, who later became Mrs Collins. Christopher was born in Kingsthorpe and at this time was living with his family in Bugbrooke where his father was a fitter and mother and eldest sister laundresses. We know he survived the war and in 1925 Christopher married Annie Dyke, five years his junior, in Towcester. By 1939 the couple were living in Roade and he was employed as a foreman storekeeper in a heavy engineering business. He died in 1978. His sister, Lily, resigned her position at the school at the end of that July due to the pressure of household duties. She was obviously well respected at the school, being described as industrious and hard working, and giving the school every satisfaction.

Albert Nightingale was mobilised about this time. He had enlisted at Northampton on 9th December 1915 but was transferred to the Army Reserve the same day. He was eventually mobilised on 12th July 1918 and posted to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry as a private, number 46260, most probably serving with the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, which was part of the Dover Garrison, from October 1917. Albert does not appear to have left the UK and was released to the peacetime Reserve on 1st March 1919; he did not qualify for any service medals.

You will remember from the previous article, that Philip Campion had been torpedoed and rescued for the second time at the end of May on the way from Alexandria to France. After being returned to Alexandria, they spent about 10 days training on machine guns before again attempting the journey, this time successfully arriving in southern Italy, before being transported to France by rail. In France machine gun training continued, in preparation for the regiment to join in the final big push. Desperate for home leave, Philip and another couple of men applied for officer training. To his great relief this was accepted and he was sent to England for training just before he was due to go to the front line.

In June 1918, the Government announced the general introduction of rationing. To assist with this, ration books were introduced in July for butter, margarine, lard, meat and sugar. In Bugbrooke, the teaching staff at the school appear to have been responsible for writing out the ration cards before their distribution to the village. The school was closed on the 9th and 10th July so that the teachers could complete this work and 193 packets of completed rationing cards were delivered by them to the Post Office for distribution.

Whilst at Canons Ashby, I recently noticed that in the larder there are some jars with the stamped initials SRD. These were the jars in which rum rations were delivered to the troops in the 1st World War. The initials stand for Supply Reserve Depot although soldiers called them ‘Seldom Reaches Destination’ or ‘Soon Runs Dry’. Rum rations were introduced in 1914 as a remedy for the consequences of bad weather and cold in the trenches. Each jar held a gallon of rum and each man got one third of a pint per week. In the front line rum was issued twice a day and was also offered to give 'Dutch courage' to men about to go ‘over the top’.

Although very popular with the troops, the rum did little to protect the men from cold, and may have made them more susceptible.

In the wider world, Paris was being shelled from a distance of 65 miles by a ‘Big Bertha’ gun. A huge gun firing 1764 pound shells of 420mm diameter. This had already claimed 800 deaths in the city and at this range was wildly inaccurate. In Russia, the Tsar and his family were massacred in a cellar in Ekaterinburg. They had been in confinement since 1917.

On 15th July the Germans started the Champagne-Marne offensive. This offensive failed when they were overrun by an Allied counter-attack supported by several hundred tanks which inflicted severe casualties. It was the final German offensive of the war, and was the beginning of the end, which would finally come 4 months later.

Geoff Cooke for the 100 Years Project


Whippet Tank as used at Amiens

By permission Paul Hermans - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0



Arthur Lester pictured in 1910

100 Years Ago – August and September 1918

Four years of war which had seen stalemate in the mud of western Europe were finally entering a decisive stage in the months of August and September 1918.

The Spring Offensive of the German Army on the Western Front had begun in March but had petered out by July. Though the Germans had managed to advance to the River Marne they failed to achieve the decisive victory they had intended. The Allied counter-offensive opened with the Battle of Amiens on 8 August 1918. With ten or more divisions, over 500 tanks and careful preparation, the Allies achieved surprise. The attack, led by the British Fourth Army, broke through the German lines and by the end of the first day they had opened up a huge gap. The losses on the German side were great and had the effect of causing a collapse of German morale.

 The advance continued for three more days but with less spectacular results as the rapid advance outran the supporting artillery and also ran short of supplies. On the second day of the Battle of Amiens Marmaduke George JOYCE was killed in action at the age of 18. He was the son of James and Edith JOYCE of Bugbrooke and had enlisted the previous year in the Kings Royal Rifle Corps. He later transferred to the 12th Battalion, London Regiment and when that was disbanded in February 1918 he transferred to the 11th Battalion at Amiens. He is buried at Beacon Cemetery, Sailly Laurette. As well as the memorial in the Church there is a memorial plaque to Marmaduke and his brother Fred JOYCE (killed at Alexandria the previous December) in the Bugbrooke Chapel.

Many other men from Bugbrooke were involved in the fighting in Western Europe, amongst them Alfred ADAMS, William SOLWAY who returned to France after a time in hospital, Joseph MARSHALL who was injured in the knee and discharged to the Labour Corps, Percival AMBLER and Benjamin WISEMAN who was mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s despatches for “Good Field Work”.

On 10 August, the Germans began to withdraw towards the Hindenburg Line. On the 21 August the Allies launched a fresh offensive at the Battle of Albert. This offensive was again a success and pushed the German 2nd Army back over a 34 mile front. The town of Albert was captured on 22 August, Noyon on 29 August and Bapaume on 29 August.

During this time there was a second Bugbrooke man killed on the Western Front - Arthur LESTER. Arthur was born in Bugbrooke, the son of George and Elizabeth. In 1915 he married Maud ADCOCK and moved to Rugby. He enlisted soon after the wedding but was placed on the reserve. He was finally mobilised in July 1917 soon after the birth of his daughter Edith May. He served in the 263 Railway Company of the Royal Engineers and was promoted to Lance Corporal in June 1918. He was killed on the 17 August and is buried at the Ribemont Communal Cemetery in the Somme.

Back in Bugbrooke, the school was closed for the Harvest Holidays for most of August. It reopened on 16 September. On that day the headmaster, Frank WRIGHT, applied for and received permission from the vicar for blackberrying “under the scheme”. This was where the children were allowed out of school to collect blackberries for the war effort. Fresh fruit was in short supply and Bugbrooke had plenty of briars laden with berries at this time of year. The children were paid for their efforts and on 24 September they collected nearly 100 lbs (45kg) of blackberries for which they received one pound four shillings and threepence three farthings. More were collected over the next few days. The school also sent off three stone (19 kg) of plum stones. It is probable that these plum stones were to be turned into charcoal for use in gas masks.

The advance in Western Europe continued throughout September but saw another Bugbrooke man give his life for his country. Percy PERKIN was born in Bozeat but lived most of his life at Ward’s Lodge, Bugbrooke with his parents John James and Elizabeth. Before joining up in 1918 he worked for William John ADAMS in the village. Percy joined the 7th Battalion The Buffs and embarked for France late August. Four weeks later, on 24 September, he was killed in action at the age of 19. He is remembered on the memorial at Vis en Artois in the Pas de Calais as well as on the plaque in the Bugbrooke Church. There is also an inscription in his memory on the grave of his parents in Bugbrooke Churchyard.

September saw the war progress in the Balkans. The French, Serbian and Greek contingents of the Allied forces defeated the Bulgarians and opened the route for the British to move towards Turkey. Various successful battles in Palestine led to the Allies capturing Damascus at the end of the month. The successes on these fronts left Germany more isolated and exposed to attack from the South.

These two months saw major advances by the Allies and foreshadowed the end of the war. German losses were huge but the Allied victories were hard won and resulted in countless men injured and killed. The village mourned the deaths of three more brave men.

Dave Marshall, For the 100 Years Project