Whilst wandering around the Arras Faubourg Cemetery, I observed Gunner graves where all had been killed on the same date buried together. Often the sign of a gun detachment who lost their lives because of a single incident.
In Plot V Row F, there were four Gunner graves together.
A closer examination revealed it was four Gunner Officers, all killed on the 19th May 1917.
Who were these Officers? What had happened on 19th May 1917 ?
The CWGC records revealed the Offers were all serving with 40 Brigade RFA, part of the 3rd Divisional Artillery.
The war diary of 40 Brigade Royal Field Artillery for 19th May 1917 revealed that the unit was in area of Wancourt, near Arras. The diary recorded;
CAPT PERKINS, LT'KEEFE, LT HARKER, and 2 LT LLOYD, all killed by a 5.9 which ????? in the Doorway of the Officers Mess.
CAPTAIN FRANK BAILEY PERKINS
Frank Bailey Perkins was born in Leeds, Yorkshire in 1889. He was educated at Denstone College, Staffordshire. A schoolmaster by profession, he taught at the Blind College, Worcester, and later as a mathematical Master at Little Appley School, near Ryde, Isle of Wight.
He commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery as a temporary Second Lieutenant 28th October 1914, rising to the rank of Captain.
Captain Perkins joined the 40th Brigade RFA 15th June 1915 (Source: @charlie962)
He was killed whilst serving with 40 Brigade RFA, when on the morning of 19th May 1917, a German 5.9 inch shell hit the Officers Mess killing Captain Perkins and three fellow officers.
Son of Frank Bailey Perkins and Harriet Louisa Perkins, of Malvern.
A letter to his mother from his Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel G.T. Mair wrote of him;
“It is with the greatest grief that I have it confirm what I expect you have already heard from the War office, that your son, Capt F.B. Perkins was killed in action yesterday. It occurred about 9.30am, just after he had finished breakfast. It may relieve any anxiety you may have as regards any suffering he may have had, to know that your son was killed instantaneously. His death is a terrible blow to his Battery and to me. I have to mourn the loss not only of a very capable officer, but also a dear personal friend, who had endeared himself to me and others in many ways, but especially by his charm of manner. But our grief great as it is, can be nothing compared to the irreparable loss you have sustained; and on behalf of the officers of the Brigade, and the N.C.O.’s and men of his Battery, may I be allowed to offer you our sincerest sympathies. The Funeral is to take place this afternoon in the cemetery, the position of which the military authorities at home will doubtless acquaint you with.”
LIEUTENANT GEORGE ERNEST HARKER
George Ernest Harker was born in 1893 and educated at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle. On leaving school he became a mining engineer at Sixth Pit, Fence Houses, in Durham.
He was commissioned as a temporary Second Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery on 3rd November 1914. He went to the Western Front in January 1915, promoting to Lieutenant in February 1916. In February 1917 he was wounded, and again in April 1917.
Lieutenant Harker joined the 40th Brigade RFA 26th June 1915 (Source: @charlie962)
He was killed whilst serving with 40 Brigade RFA, when on the morning of 19th May 1917, a German 5.9 inch shell hit the Officers Mess killing Lieutenant Harker and three fellow officers.
Son of George and Helen Harker, of 17, Grange Terrace, Sunderland.
SECOND LIEUTENANT WILLIAM MERICK ELLIS LLOYD
William Merick Ellis Lloyd was born in 1894 in Burnt Green, Birmingham. He was educated at Radley College. On leaving school he was employed at the Daimler Works, Coventry. He enlisted into Royal Horse Artillery early 1915 and was fought on the Somme. He was recommended for a commission and posted to an Officer Cadet training unit. William Merick Ellis Lloyd was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the Special Reserve of Officers in the Royal Field Artillery 4th February 1917.
Second Lieutenant Lloyd joined the 40th Brigade RFA 27th October 1916 (Source: @charlie962)
He was killed whilst serving with 40 Brigade RFA, when on the morning of 19th May 1917, a German 5.9 inch shell hit the Officers Mess killing Second Lieutenant Lloyd and three fellow officers.
Son of Hannah M. U. Allen (formerly Lloyd), of Asleton House, 69, Compton Rd., Wolverhampton, and the late William Ellis Lloyd.
LIEUTENANT WILLIAM HENRY O'KEEFE
William Henry O'Keefe was born on the 15th July 1896, Wexford, Leinster, Ireland. He resided at Faythe House, Wexford, where his father was a merchant.
He commissioned as a temporary Second Lieutenant into the Royal Field Artillery 27th February 1915.
Lieutenant O'Keefe joined the 40th Brigade RFA 6th April 1917 (Source: @charlie962)
He was killed whilst serving with 40 Brigade RFA when on the morning of 19th May 1917, a German 5.9 inch shell hit the Officers Mess killing Lt O'Keefe and three fellow officers
Son of William and Matilda O'Keefe, of Faythe House, Wexford.
Edited by ianjonesncl