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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Joseph William Homer (KIA)


A Powell

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Hi,

I was researching some general information on soldiers who were from Tipton, Staffordshire and had lost their lives during the war and found this entry on the CWGC:

Name: HORNER, JOSEPH WILLIAM

Initials: J W

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Private

Regiment/Service: Royal Warwickshire Regiment

Unit Text: 2nd Bn.

Age: 20

Date of Death: 17/07/1916

Service No: 9303

Additional information: Son of Joseph and May Ann Horner, of 15, Police Station Yard, Horsley Heath, Great Bridge, Tipton, Staffs.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: Pier and Face 9 A 9 B and 10 B.

Memorial: THIEPVAL MEMORIAL

His fathers name and address was Identical to my x2 Great Uncle Joseph Homer so I did some further research and found his son Joseph W's Medal Index Card which confirmed the surname Homer.

I hope someone could advise me if it would be possible to get the surname changed with the CWGC and how I would go about this.

I think from the date Joseph was sadly killed it would have been during the Somme Offensive. Joseph's MIC stated he went to France 2-5-15 with the 2nd Btn(Battalion of the Regular Army) would this indicate he was already a soldier prior to the outbreak of war.

I've been unable to find anymore information on his involvement in the war so any help would be fantastic.

Kind regards

Adrian

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Soldiers Died has him as Horner with a different date of death.

The Great Bridge War Memorial appears to have J Homer but some doubt about the middle initial

 

1901 census has Joseph Homer son of Joseph and Mary Ann, aged 4.

There is an option on the CWGC website under Contact Us re " I believe a casualties details are wrong or incomplete"

http://www.cwgc.org/contact.asp?menuid=7&submenuid=2&catid=1

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The 2nd Bn were in action at Bazentin-le-Petit around the time of his death. Forum member Alan Tuckermay be the man to help with this,

cheers, Jon

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It may simply be a scanning error from when the records were digitised. If not, it may be difficult to get it changed, as the info in the additional details section would have been supplied by the NoK at the time, though you may be able to convince them that it was a misreading back then. Unfortunately the original form will have been destroyed

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2nd Warwicks and Bazentin Ridge - July 1916...

On July 13 all of 7th Division moved forward in preparation for their part in the second major attack of the Somme battle on July 14, when for their part XV Corps would attack Bazentin-le-Petit and the adjacent woods; 7 Division would be on the Corps right.The 2/Warwicks bivouacked in Mametz Wood as 20 Brigade attacked the German Second Position trenches at 3.30 a.m with a brief preliminary bombardment and in the dark as No Man’s Land extended to about 1000 yards; both would ensure surprise. By 5 p.m. 20 Brigade’s attack had been successful.

At 4.30 a.m. on July 14 22 Brigade followed up from the eastern corner of Mametz Wood with the Warwicks leading. The Brigade was intended to pass 20 Brigade, push through Bazentin-le-Grand Wood and attack Bazentin-le-Petit village. The battalion passed over the German front line trench and reformed south of Bazentin-le-Grand Wood. ‘C’ company pushed on and took Circus Trench and its communication trench in the wood under very heavy fire, from which the barrage had just lifted. ‘D’ company came on behind them, started consolidation, but then pushed on themselves to assist the 2/Royal Irish in Bazentin-le-Petit Wood, where the latter had faced severe close quarter fighting but had driven the Germans out of the southern portion of the wood and the village. ‘D’ company suffered about eighty casualties in this operation. At 2 p.m. ‘D’ company reformed in Circus Trench with ‘C’ company.

Half of ‘B’ company now pushed forward along a narrow ravine to the road between the two Bazentins taking several casualties from machine gun fire. They continued a running fight into the north and north-eastern Bazentin-le-Petit village. They were not strong enough, however, to push the Germans out of the village. A strong German counter-attack at about 11.30 a.m. was driven back. The counter-attack re-occupied the northern part of the village until ‘A’ company led by Lieutenants Fowler and Cory-Wright, scrapping northwards, moved block by block, forcing back the German raiding parties. After very severe hand to hand fighting, with losses, and assistance of a 20/Manchesters carrying party and some 2/Royal Irish, the ruins of the village were reclaimed (771). German counter-attacks were also launched against the north-east flank towards the cemetery and from the windmill down to the Bazentin-le-Grand crossroads. The 2/Warwicks fought hard to hold the east flank.

Captain Wasey (772) of ‘B’ company had observed this counter-attack some time after his own action described below. His company established a defensive flank along the sunken road running from the crossroads to a point about one hundred yards south of the windmill. Parts of ‘A’ and ‘D’ companies joined him. Intense rifle fire and the help of Lewis gun to the north of Bazentin-le-Grand Wood, stopped the German advance at 200 yards range (773). Before 3.30 p.m. action on the eastern flank had ceased and a defence line established.

At around mid-morning that day Captain Wasey and ‘B’ company were patrolling east along the road towards Bazentin-le-Grand when they suffered casualties from machine gun fire. They fell into, and then moved eastwards along, the gully which runs from the north end of Bazentin-le-Grand Wood just south of the road, and discovered a group of dead 1/Northumberland Fusiliers and German soldiers at the cross roads known as Crucifix Corner. They saw a group of about thirty German infantrymen advancing across the elevated ground from the direction of High Wood and realised that the area of orchards and ditches to the north-east of Bazentin-le-Grand bristled with enemy troops. Whilst the company engaged the attention of the Germans from the road, Serjeant Pulteney, as scout, scrambled towards the village to alert 3rd Division troops. The 1/Northumberland Fusiliers were aware of the situation and joined in a successful attack which forced the Germans back to High Wood. During the return journey to ‘B’ company Serjeant Pulteney located a machine gun post in a cellar. Entry was forced and a lone machine gunner killed. Four machine guns were captured (774).

At 8 p.m. the whole battalion took up reserve positions covering the north-east of the village of Bazentin-le-Petit between the village and the cemetery. ‘A’ and ‘D’ companies were in the vicinity of the cemetery. ‘B’ and ‘C’’ companies were in the north-east of the village. All four companies faced constant shelling but were able to dig in and consolidate.

Seventh Division’s success in taking its objectives that day and also that of other units could have led to the capture of High Wood but ‘higher authority’ prevented it. Major-General Watts, commanding 7th Division, proposed to sent his reserve brigade, 91st, to High Wood but was instructed by Corps to leave such an operation to the cavalry which, in the event, arrived too late (775). The capture of High Wood would have posed a serious threat to German held Pozieres and Delville Wood. It took two more months of ‘bitter and costly’ fighting to take High Wood (776). Yet another opportunity on the Western Front had been missed. As Atkinson later wrote “It is one of the drawbacks of attacks with strictly limited objectives that complete and rapid success may sometimes not be fully exploited just because it has exceeded expectations” (777). Hancock also wrote that “Perhaps the success of the advance had overtaken the competence of the Corps command to react” (778). Prior and Wilson question this interpretation and point out that British initial successes on the day did not result in the collapse of German resistance and that,to the rear the Germans retained an intact defence. “There is no reason to believe that any earlier action would have been better rewarded” (779). Gary Sheffield has called July 14th ‘a false dawn’ and ‘a remarkable but tantalizingly incomplete victory’ (780).

The 2/Warwicks maintained their position on July 15. At 2.a.m on July 16 they were relieved and bivouacked in Fritz Trench, north-east of captured Mametz. Three days later two companies moved up to occupy a trench to the north-east of Bazentin-le-Petit Wood with the other two in support. Battalion HQ was in ‘Marlboro’ Wood. This was for a short time in brigade reserve for a limited attack to the east of High Wood. On the following evening the whole battalion moved back to Dernancourt. Since July 1 Seventh Division had suffered over 7500 casualties and needed rest (781).

The War Diary detailed the casualty totals for operations during the period July 12-20. One officer had been killed and five wounded; twenty-one other ranks had been killed with 142 wounded and 62 missing. The Brigade War Diary gave the following 2/Warwicks casualty figures for July 14…..

1 officer killed

1 officer wounded

21 other ranks killed

125 other ranks wounded

75 other ranks missing (782)

CWGC records forty-three deaths from July 11 to July 20; there were 23 on July 14. 88% are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. At least two ‘old soldiers’ were killed during this period. Private William Birch, aged 24, was killed on July 14 and had completed thirteen years service by that time although he was a reservist when recalled at the start of the war. He had worked for the Post Office at Bordesley, Birmingham (783). On the following day Private Albert Chapman was killed; he had served in the Boer War and was also called up from reserve. He left a widow and three children at Wenman Street, Balsall Heath (784). Two more examples of those killed on July 14 include Private Bertie Lawson, 23, a Norfolk born shepherd’s son who had enlisted at Warwick (785) and Private Thomas Cronan, 38, from Coventry who had worked as a motor cycle builder for Triumph before the war (786).

On July 22 the battalion marched to Mericourt station and entrained for Hangest station and then a short march to ‘real rest’ billets at Yzeux, ten miles north-west of Amiens on the River Somme. At Mericourt station the battalion was joined by a draft of 102 other ranks from the ‘Ox and Bucks’ and 55 Royal Warwicks. The new strength upon arrival at Yzeux was 27 officers and 730 men. Given these figures nearly five hundred men did not make it back from the Mametz/’Bazentin’ operations. On the following day another draft of 70 Warwicks joined.

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Many thanks for all your help.

I've contacted the CWGC with the details and await their reply.

The information posted regarding the 2nd Btn Warwickshire Regiment was really interesting and very informative.

I have two more questions that someone maybe able to help:

1. Given Jospeh served with the 2nd Btn which from the information I could find was part of the Regular Army would this indicate he was also a regular and had enlisted prior to the outbreak of war.

2. The date of his death is given 17/7/16 would this be when he was killed or could he have received wounds prior and died later on the 17th ?

Kind regards

Adrian

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