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Remembered Today:

88 years & a few days ago but ...

steve fuller

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In rememberance of the Hull brothers of Luton who gave their lives during the same raid on 20th July 1917 in Palestine

Lance Sgt Charles HULL, 200294

Private Frederick HULL, 200592

... of the 5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, 162nd Bgde, 54th Division.

Both born in & enlisted from Luton, neither has a known grave and are remembered on the Jerusalem War Memorial.

Battalion War Diary records:

"20 Jul 1917

0540 GOC 162 Bde inspected a rehearsal by the new 6 rifle sections.

0600-1100 R.S.M. & party laid out stores at place of assembly in proper dumps. These stores had been taken up by the T.O. to the entrance of K.M1 communication trench near P.31.D.4.4. The afternoon passed without incident. 1900 The whole raiding party marched arriving at the place of assembly at about 2015. Stores were issued & the party detailed in orders placed the four trench bridges in position & made the gap in our own wire. Everything was quite ready by about 2050 & all stores issued.

The raiders left the place of assembly at 2055 in accordance with programme & the raid was carried through very successfully in accordance with programme - details are given in Appendix B. By sheer bad luck the enemy had put up an intense bombardment of 5.9" H.E shells onto a very small area near the place of assembly & almost the whole of the casualties are due to this except for the missing & probably two or three killed in UMBRELLA HILL & perhaps 8 or 10 wounded there.

2145 About this time the Raiders & followed by the supports came back to our front line with so many men & in view of the tremendous noise & dense smoke some confusion was inevitable but the officers & N.C.Os of these parties quickly appreciated the situation & with the assistance of some parties organised by the reserve commander Capt C.H.MISKIN, managed to retain most of their men in our front trench which was comparatively safe as the enemy barrage was plastering a zone some 50 yds to 150 in rear of our front line & on a front of about 200 yds, with occasional shots further to our rear & to the flanks. After some reconnaissance it was found possible to move our men to the flanks i.e. towards SAMSON'S RIDGE & SNIPER'S SPUR along the front line & so out of the barrage. They were then passed down communication trenches or in small parties in the open. The garrison had been relieved & all except wounded evacuated by 0130."

"21 Jul 1917

0230 The large number of wounded were evacuated by about 0230. This is dealt with in the appendix.

0330 A patrol of 1 officer & 5 O.rs went in the direction of the BEANFIELD (about 150 yds short of UMBRELLA HILL), but found nothing. Everything was quiet on UMBRELLA HILL. The remnants of the smoke & a thick mist made visibility difficult.

0400 About 0400 a patrol of two went out, just as the dawn & lifting mist enabled one to see. They only stayed out about 10 mins and found 1 dead body - from a former engagement & some equipment which was brought in."

"Appendix B War Diary 1/5th BEDFORDS July 1917

Ref. plan attached to RAIDING PARTY ORDER No 1. In accordance with orders received the party detailed for the Raid assembled at the entrance to K39 trench at about 2015. Stores were issued, 4 bridges thrown across our trenches, our own wire gapped & all preliminaries completed by 2050 at P.32.C.9.5 (Ref SHEET AJLIN 1/10,000) The night was then dark & everywhere along the line things were quite quiet. Zero was fixed for 2100. At 2055 two flashes in the distance were seen & after what seemed a long time two dull roars & a heavy droning noise growing louder & louder were heard, then two vivid flashes on UMBRELLA HILL followed almost at once the tremendous crash of 2, 8" shells exploding shook the night. Two minutes of silence then two more 8" shells: Two more minutes & yet another pair hurtled over. A minute more & at Zero started a veritable inferno. Flashes all over the sky from the guns behind & from the shells bursting in front lit up UMBRELLA HILL & showed that it was wreathed in a bank of smoke which grew denseeach moment. The noise was deafening so that when the Machine Gun barrage from 24 guns started at 2105, at first there appeared to be little more added to the din than the noise of a stick being run over a split-oak fence & later, one was quite oblivious of any M.G fire at all.

At 2100 the Raiders closely followed by the supports moved quickly over the trench bridges & disappeared through the gap in our wire. So rapid was the advance across "no-man's land" that it was found necessary to halt for 1 minute at the BEANFIELD.

At 2106, a minute ahead of time, the screen under Lieut B.W.SMYTHE dashed up to the wire with the shrapnel of our barrage bursting right over their head & soon found the gaps in the wire. They shouted through the smoke to the Raiders, who though close on their heels were quite invisible & so guided , the latter dashed into FRONT TRENCH at about 2107, bayoneted the few TURKS who offered any resistence & captured a Machine Gun which was found in position. Having arrived & established touch with the enemy, Capt H.S.ARMSTRONG fixed his HQ & the various parties as detailed in orders, began to move to their allotted objectives, though at first some confusion occurred owing to the dense smoke & the large number of men crowded together.

LT B.W.SMYTHE after his first task of guiding the Raiders through the gap had been accomplished, collected a small party & dashed across the open to CROSS CUT which he cleared & made good thus affording a measure of local protection while the deployment mentioned above took place. To follow briefly the fortunes of various parties.

The LEFT SECTOR party under LIEUT W.A.SHAW moved along SIDE TRENCH, SILK ALLEY & finally obtained touch with RIGHT SECTOR at TASSEL CORNER. Bombing sections were quickly pushed up COVER ALLEY & SIDE TRENCH. So thoroughly demoralised were the Turks in most cases that they had to be bombed in their dugouts, each of which contained from 3 to 6 & refused to come out or indeed to do anything except cower down on the ground. A few TURKS offered resistance in COVER ALLEY but they were speedily overcome.

Soon after the evacuation signal went & in consequence the time was found insufficient for reaching STICK ALLEY & POINT TRENCH. The RIGHT SECTOR party under 2nd LIEUT R.H.SMITH entered the enemy trenches at STAY ALLEY, passed through ECHELON & made for TASSEL CORNER, where there was some congestion of troops. DUG-OUT ALLEY was then visited & a large number of TURKS killed. As before little resistance was encountered. When the evacuation signal went this party had just reached the bottom of DUGOUT ALLEY.

Meanwhile a section of bombers had been working successfully along ECHELON TRENCH. They killed some 10 TURKS & took several prisoners. A large MINENWERFER was met with & being far too bulky for removal, was put out of action very ingeniously by the Section who exploded bombs in its working parts. While these parties had been at work killing or capturing the garrison, a party of R.E.s under LT.MENDHAM 484th Field Coy RE had been systematically destroying the enemy works & wrecking the trenches. They left several heavy charges of gun cotton in the principal dug-outs which were exploded subsequent to the evacuation by time fuses.

Soon after the RAID started, the enemy began to shell the Hollow about 50 yds in rear of our front line at K39 very heavily with 5.9" H.E shelled & some shrapnel from much smaller guns. It was afterwards calculated that about 500 shells fell during the night here. By sheer bad luck the shelling was limited to an area of little more than 150 yds radius & in that was situated the signal office, HQ dugout & aid post. The area was fairly full of people, Orderlies, stretcher bearers, a dump party & HQ details found themselves in the open under this heavy fire. For about two hours an intense bombardment was maintained, the heavy shells falling in salvoes at first & later in quick succession. Later the bombardment died down to intermittent shelling with a single gun & this finally died down altogether. During the bombardment candles were continually blown out by the concussion, wounded were killed in some cases at the aid post & the dense smoke rendered the evacuation of wounded a matter of great difficulty. Though it was successfully carried out & by 0230 all the wounded had been evacuated.

When it was perceived that the returning Raiders & Supports would suffer heavily if allowed to enter the shelled area, which practically did not touch our front line, parties were organised by the Reserve Commander Capt C.H.MISKIN who was wounded while so engaged, to direct then. Partly owing to this organisation & partly owing to the control still exercised by the officers over the raiders & supports most of these were held up at our front line & after a short interval worked away to the left flank & evacuated by the communication trenches leading back from the neighbourhood of SAMSON RIDGE. Many casualties were undoubtedly avoided in this manner. About 0100 it was found possible to hand over the defence of bays 21-28 to the 5th DEVONS & our reserves were withdrawn except for a small party repairing our wire & those attending to the wounded. An officers patrol of 6 worked in no man's land for an hour in search of wounded & dead but none were found. By this time a thick mist had added to the difficulty to seeing anything so no good could be done. At dawn & just before the mist lifted a patrol of two went out again for a short time. A revolver & some equipment was found, but none of our casualties.


a) Casualties were killed wounded missing (excluding other units) [no figures given]

b.) Artillery Support. This was perfect & completely demoralised the TURKS. Not one of our men were hit by our own guns.

c) Machine Gun barrage also worked without a hitch

d) COMMUNICATIONS. The elaborate system of telephones was found of little value at any rate forward of Battalion Battle HQ. Nothing could be heard & the wires were soon cut.

e) BOOTY was brought in as under 25 Rifles 6 Bayonets 1 Revolver 1 M.G on sledge mounting complete 7 belt boxes 6 full belts 1 37m/m gun 79 shells for do. 1 bag of spare parts 1 set of equipment 2 Gas masks

f) Enemy Casualties. No count was possible in COVER ALLEY & STAY ALLEY & those killed by our guns are not included. the counted casualties are:



Side TRENCH 1 officer, 30 O.Rs.


Total 105."

Although it would have been no consolation to the parents, the 5th Bedfords raid on Umbrella Hill during 20th July won 19 MM,s (16 of which went to Bedford men), 3 DCM's and 5 MC's. The techniques employed for the raid became the "standard" in Palestine, such was the sucess.

Yet another pair of brothers lost in the 5th Bedfords during the same engagement ... :(

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