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Remembered Today:

4th Batt Worcestershire Regiment,23/04/1917


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hi all

I am starting to research one of my Great Uncles,25324 Pte.Frank Allen 4th Battalion,Worcestershire Regiment,Killed in Action monday 23rd April 1917 Battle of Arras,he is rememberded on the Arras memorial,Family members think he was killed by a shell blast ?.

I hope some one will be kind enough to post info on the 4th Worcesters movements or details of their action on this day.

many thanks ww1tiger

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The 23/4/17 was the opening day of the second Battle of the Scarpe. At 4:45am on the 23/4/17 the 4th Worcs started their attack towards Infantry Hill which was about 1000 yards east of Monchy le Preux. The German front line in front of the hill was easily crossed. Although the 4th Worcs reached their object, the failure of the 15th Division to gain the right flank left the 4th Worcs in a dangerous postion. The Germans shelled the 4th Worcs position and at 10am the German counter-attack came in. With no support the 4th Worcs were eventually overwhelmed by the Germans at 4pm. Desperate hand to hand fighting ensued and many of the Worcester men were killed or wounded. At the start of the 4th Worcs attack their battle strength was 17 officers and 520 other ranks, only 2 officers and 64 men marched back on the 24/4/17.

One of the men I am researching George Humphries was also killed in this action and is also remembered on the Arras Memorial.


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Another Tragedy of the Great War,

Many thanks for going to the trouble of posting this information.


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Hi Jonathan

My write up of a Bewdley soldier that might be useful - the source is Stacke (of course!)



Private Samuel Caleb STEPHENSON

4th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment 35309

Killed in action 23rd April 1917

Samuel Caleb Stephenson was born in West Bromwich, Staffordshire on the of July August September 1887. He was the son of Enoch and Elizabeth Stephenson, natives of Wednesbury and Aston respectively. In the 1881 census the family live at 174 Hill Top; Enoch is 33 years of age and employed as a hosier. Elizabeth is aged 41. Elizabeth’s two sons by her previous marriage, William and Henry Dawson are 15 and 12 years old. The Stephenson’s sons are William aged 9, Alfred aged 7, George aged 5, Samuel aged 3, and Albert aged 11 months. By 1891, the family have moved to 1 Percy Street, Wednesbury, and Enoch Stephenson has had a change of occupation to a ‘moulder’; William is employed as a clerk; their sons Joseph (not listed on the 1891 census) and George are foundry workers. Samuel and Albert, and 9 year old Arthur are all still at school.

Samuel’s link with Bewdley becomes evident in the 1901 census, when he is listed as living at 1 Dowles Road, Bewdley, as a boarder with Sarah Elcocks aged 42, a dressmaker working from home. His age is 23 and he worked as an auction clerk. In April May June 1903, he married Susan Sarah Coldrick, and by the time of the 1911 census, he is a smallholder at The Plumps Farm, Rock. He and Sarah have a daughter Mary Louisa born in 1907.

Samuel enlisted in Bewdley, and served in the 4th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment, and seems to have been either a later volunteer or a conscript into the Army He was killed in the later stages of the Second Battle of the Scarpe. This formed part of the Battle of Arras, and Samuel Stephenson was serving in the same battalion as Private Valentine Finlow (see above) during the later stages of the same battle.

The 4th Worcestershire returned to the battle of Arras after spending the 15th to the 19th April at rest. They passed through the city itself on the afternoon of the 19th, moving into their reserve trenches after heavy bombardment had eased. Their reserve positions were near the British heavy guns, and they were the result of a severe German bombardment, which continued the next day. On the 21st the Germans used gas shells which caused further casualties.

Orders came on the 22nd that the attack of the 29th Division on Infantry Hill was to be renewed on the 23rd. the hill was to be captured, and the second wave of the attack were to pass through these positions to attack German positions in the woods beyond. The 4th Worcestershire was to take the first objective, and the 2nd Hampshire were to pass through for the second attack. The battle damaged Essex Battalion and Newfoundland Regiment, mauled on the 14th April, were to act as carrying parties in a composite battalion. To the right of the 29th Division, the 15th Division would attack Guemappe.

The attack began at 4.45 am on the 23rd April 1917 with a massive British bombardment. Despite heavy fire, the Worcestershire quickly seized the hill, being in control of all their objectives after only half an hour. They quickly began to dig in around their new position. However, the attack of the 15th Division at Guemappe had failed, exposing the 4th Worcestershire’s position to terrific German bombardment. At 10am the first counter attack began. The Worcestershire’s fire turned back the German attack, but artillery fire began to smash the British positions. No support was received. The plan has envisaged a seven hour pause between stages of the British attack, to move artillery. The 2nd Hampshire did not commence their attack, as to advance further and extend the fragile British salient would have been very dangerous. At 4pm the right flank of the British positions were crushed, and the Worcestershire companies defending them did so to the last man. The other companies just managed to hold the rest of the captured positions on the spur of Infantry Hill.

As darkness fell, the remainder of the 88th Brigade’s troops counter attacked the recaptured copse with little success. After midnight, the 86th Brigade relived the 88th, and the remains of the Worcestershires were replaced by the 2nd Royal Fusiliers. The Battalion moved back to rest in Arras before being rotated out of the line. There were 17 officers and 529 rank and file in the 4th Worcestershires on the 22nd April 1917; by the 24th April, there were only 2 officers and 64 men fit for duty. One of the casualties was Samuel Caleb Stephenson.

Like Valentine Finlow, Samuel Caleb Stephenson has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, bay 6. His widow Sarah was still farming The Plumps Farm in the late 1920s.

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