Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

John Stafford and casualty evacuation from the Somme, August 1916


derekjgregory
 Share

Recommended Posts

Europeana 1914-1918 has an extraordinary 13 pp account describing the wounding of John Stafford from the 5th Liverpool (unfortunately no Bn is given) near Trones Wood and his survival in and eventual rescue from No Man's Land 8-10 August 1916: http://www.europeana.eu/portal/record/2020601/attachments_47308_3155_47308_original_47308_pdf.html

The accompanying explanation has some details wrong – so far as I can see 'Death Valley' was not No Man's Land, for example, but one of the main routes up to High Wood – and there are obvious problems in interpreting a memoir written so long after the event (however vivid). Still, I'm trying to flesh out the details for a larger project on casualty evacuation from the Western Front, but before I get too far into this particular case I thought I ought to check that nobody else has done so already.

I realise that the main sources will be the War Diary from Kew (if it's available - the online listing is not encouraging) and any sketch maps, and I've worked my way through Terry Norman's The hell they called High Wood, but if anybody has any advice or other information I'd be really grateful. I'm still feeling my way into this!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Derek, thanks for the link, I've not seen this before, it does state as do you that he was with the 5th Bn and that Death Valley is a 'dangerous place', I have the war diary if you want to send me a PM with an email address or you can find my email in my profile, I'm off to have a look now

Jon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Derek,

I think this is the attack by 55 Division against Guillemont on 8 August 1916. 1/5th King's were part of 165 Brigade's attack on the right flank, where the British sector bordered the French. You need 55 Division's war diary for August 1916 as this contains the reports from the various battalions on these attacks. (downloadable from TNA: WO95/2900-2)

regards,

Kevin

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks so much Kevin -- I really appreciate it. I've downloaded the diary -- more soon, I hope.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was very common for carrying and other working parties moving from Reserve locations to the front line to have to cross the southern stretch of Death Valley. Various accounts in diaries describe having to skirt this location at various times because of heavy bombardment there. I think he's talking about two different events here. The position he describes taking the water to is the left flank of 55 Division's front. If this is taking place on the night of 7/8 August, he's delivering to Liverpool Irish who were forward of Trones Wood, roughly level with the gateway to the CWGC cemetery, their right flank touching the road. That date, his own battalion were a long way to the right near Maltz Horn Farm. I think the first describes a working party on the nightly supply run and the second the attack on Guillemont on 8 August. 1/5 King's pushed the line forward about 200 yards on the right and held part of Cochrane Alley, which was blocked by 1/1 West Lancs Field Coy RE using explosives. I think the action he describes must be around that side of the attack.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks again, Kevin: tremendously helpful. I'm now off to track down the Field Ambulance that would have been responsible of this evacuation, if I can.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The three field ambulances with 55 Division were 1/3 West Lancs, 2/1 Wessex and 2/1 West Lancs. Could have been any one of them.

I've looked some of my wounded from 164 and 166 Brigades for 8/8/16, 9/8/16 and 15/8/16 and they were all treated initially at 13 Corps M.D.S and then onto 5 C.C.S. at Corbie.

Edited by IRC Kevin
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks yet again -- this shows exactly why you're a Lieutenant-Colonel and I'm a Lance Corporal! I really appreciate all your help and insight.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...