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Cpl Rennie Ormerod - 2nd Bn, Border Regiment

Paul Ormerod

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Remembering Rennie Ormerod, who died one hundred years ago today, on 21 May 1916, and is buried in Ste Marie Cemetery, Le Havre, Normandy (Grave Ref. Div. 19. CC. 3).

Rennie was a native of Colne, the son of Eliza Bracewell (formerly Ormerod), of 129 Eton Hill, Radcliffe, Manchester, and the late Seth Ormerod.

Rennie enlisted, aged 21 years and 5 months, on 24 November 1914 in Manchester. He was posted to 2nd Bn, Border Regiment, from 20 May 1915, and was promoted to Corporal on 5 October 1915.

From Rennie's Army Service Record it appears that he was wounded in fighting in the area of Mansell Copse, near Mametz on the Somme, on 20 April 1916 - with shrapnel wounds to his face, left eye and skull.

Rennie had been on leave at the beginning of April, but returned to his unit as it entered the line on 13 April, relieving the 9th Bn, Devonshire Regiment, in trenches near Mametz.

The Battalion War Diary records:

"13/4/16 - The Battalion proceeded to trenches in Square F11c, relieving 9th Bn Devons Regt.

14-4/16 - 18/4/16 - During this period the enemy artillery was very active and was apparently registering on our trenches. An attack was expected and the fullest arrangements were made for the defence of all lines.

19/4/16 - At 7.25 pm on 19/4/16 the enemy offered a violent bombardment on B2 Subsector, which the Battalion held. The front, support and reserve lines were all shelled. The bombardment was most intense on the front from MANSEL COPSE to junction F.10.1 and F.10.2. At sometime between 8.15pm and 8.30 pm the barrage was lifted between MANSEL COPSE and 71 Street and a party of the enemy approached our lines at the head of BLOOD ALLEY. They did not succeed in entering our trenches being driven back by bombs. They then appeared to move towards F.11.8 and the entered our front line trenches somewhere in this Subsector. A number of unexploded enemy bombs were found in our trench. It is believed that the enemy left a few dead near MANSEL COPSE. The trenches were seriously damaged in many places both front line, support line and communication trenches being blocked. Our casualties were 1 Officer and 18 Other Ranks Killed (Officer: 2nd Lieut W.L. Johnson) 2 Offrs and 42 Other Ranks Wounded (Officers: Lieut J.H. Hodgson, 2 Lieut G.P. Lindsay) 9 Other Ranks Missing. Lieut J.H. Hodgson - Died of Wounds 20/4/16.

20/4/16 - At 8.30 pm on 20/4/16 the enemy opened a very violent bombardment on much the same front as was shelled the previous night, but the bombardment was not nearly so long. A party of the enemy approached our line at the head of BLOOD ALLEY and threw bombs into the trench. We replied with Mills Grenades. After a short fight the enemy went over and attacked the line about the centre of F.11.8. Here they were again driven off by our bombers. The party appeared to consist of 20 men. No enemy bodies were seen in front of our trenches the next morning, but judging from cries which were heard they must have suffered casualties. Our Artillery retaliated with good good effect.

Later at 10.15 pm and 10.45 pm our Heavy Artillery retaliated on the enemy front line between the craters and BLACK HEDGE, with Field Guns co-operating. This retaliation was very successful, the enemy trenches being blown in in many places.

Our casualties were :- 1 O.R. Killed 6 O.R. Wounded

(Total Casualties 13/4/16 to 21/4/16: Killed 1 Offr + 20; Died of Wounds 1 Offr + 5 O.R.; Wounded, 1 Officer and 61 O.R.; Missing 9 O.R.

21/4/16 - The Battalion was relieved at night by 9th Bn Devons Regt and proceed to billets at BRAY."

Rennie was evacuated to 5 Casualty Clearing Station, where it's noted that he has multiple gun shot wounds.

He was subsequently transferred to 2 General Hospital, Le Havre, and on 15 May telegrams were sent from the hospital to the Attestation Centre in Preston, advising that Rennie's condition was critical, asking for his relatives to be informed, and stating that he could be visited by his mother.

It was established that Rennie's mother, Eliza, and his step-father, were unable to afford the cost of a journey to France, and travel warrants were issued at public expense to enable them to visit Rennie in hospital (passage being arranged on 17 May 1916).

A further telegram reports that Rennie died at 6.20 pm on 21 May 1916 - as a result of gun shot wounds to head and face.

The First World War Medal Rolls confirm that Rennie died of wounds on 21 May 1916. He was entitled to the British War Medal, Victory Medal and 1914-15 Star (having entered a theatre of war on 2 May 1915).

The Soldiers Died in the Great War Database records that Rennie died of wounds. The Database also notes that he was born in Colne, and was a resident of Radcliffe. He enlisted in the Army in Manchester.

Rennie's brother, Clement Ormerod, also died during the First World War.

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