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machin

northamptonshire regiment 6th battalion

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machin

I am researching a soldier called Denzil Heriz-Smith of the Northamptonshire regiment 6th Battalion. He died on the Somme in Feb 1917.

He left a considerable amount of diary materials that I have access to.

I think he died in the battle of Boom Ravine.

I wonder if any one has come across the name Heriz-Smith in their studies.

Also i would be grateful if anyonre can inform me where I can get access to the war record of the Northamptonshire Regiment 6th Battalion.

Many thanks

Tim Machin

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Stebie9173

Hello, Tim.

Welcome to the Forum.

Good first question, If I may say so!

Denzil Heriz-Smith did indeed die at Boom Ravine.

I've done a little work on him as I've recently started looking at the officers of the 6th Northamptonshires.

Actually, it seems to be 6th Northamptonshires month round here! I've been posting some stuff on an RAMC Lieutenant killed at Trones Wood whilst attached to the 6th Northamptonshires (where then Second-Lieutenant Heriz-Smith ended up in charge of "A" Company, being one of two unwounded officers out of 17 who went into the wood on that day - 14th July 1916)

See this thread for some information on that battle and my "conversation" with Peter Hart (who wrote the Somme book published last year)

 

Lt. Heriz-Smith was on my list to view his service record this week at the NA but I didn't get to him because the NA clogged up my orders with several misplaced files.

However, here is the information I have so far:

Lt. DENZIL MITFORD HERIZ* HERIZ-SMITH

post-6536-1183062408.jpg

"A" Company, 6th Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment

Died of wounds on 17th February 1917 at Boom Ravine

Denzil Mitford Heriz Heriz-Smith was born at Filey, Yorkshire on 21st February 1894, the son of the Mr. Charles Mitford Heriz-Smith P.W.D. late of Madras, India (originally of Loddon, Norfolk) and Marion Frances G Heriz-Smith (nee Johnstone, married 1885, originally of Howick, Northumberland), of St. George's Lodge, Bedford (as of 1917) and who were living at "Four Winds," Kessingland Beach, Lowestoft by the 1920s. Denzil had three sisters - Gillian, Sybil and Joan.

At the time of his medical examination in September 1914, Denzil Heriz-Smith was 6' 1/2" tall, 160lbs, 37" chest with 4" expansion, and had brown hair and blue eyes. His profession/trade was "gentleman".

He was educated at Bedford School where he was head of the school, receiving a prize from Lord Roberts for “best all-round boy in the school”. He later entered Queens College at Cambridge, with the intention of taking Holy Orders. He was a member of the Bedford Grammar School Officer Training corps until he left the schoool.

On 16th September 1914 Denzil Heriz-Smith enlisted into the 2nd Public Schools (19th) Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. He was granted a commission into Northamptonshire Regiment, initially to the [3rd or 8th] Reserve Battalion on 4th December 1914 as a Temporary Second Lieutenant. Later (date unknown as yet) 2/Lt. Denzil Mitford Heriz Heriz-Smith was transferred to the 6th (Service) Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment "with precedence from 4th December 1914" (i.e. from the date of his commission). Second Lieutenant Heriz-Smith went to France to join the 6th Northamptonshires on 17th December 1915. Ironically, he was a replacement for his close friend, Lt. James Lambert who had been killed on 2nd November. He joined the battalion at rest billets at Buire on 22nd December 1915, heading into the trenches with "A" Compnay for the first time in Sector D2 at Fricourt on 24th December 1915. Five days later on the 29th the Germans pounded the trenches with high explosive and gas shells and mounted a large raid on "A" Companies sector taking 20 prisoners. On 1st January 1917, he was promoted to Temporary Lieutenant.

Entitled to 1914-15 Star, British war Medal, Victory Medal.

Battles fought in: 1st Day of the Somme – Support (1.7.1916, 2/Lt., mentioned as part of attack with "A" Coy in Battalion Orders), Trones Wood – Assault (14.7.1916, 2/Lt., mentioned as last unwounded officer with "A" Coy), Thiepval – Support (26.9.1916, 2/Lt., no specifc mention found as yet, possibly one of the officers held in Reserve), Boom Ravine – Assault (17.2.1917, Lt., "A" Company, died of wounds)

At Trones Wood on the 14th July 1916, Second Lieutenant Heriz-Smith was the only unwounded officer left of “A” Company by the end of the day and one of only two unwounded officers of the seventeen officers that were involved in the assault across all four companies.

On 17th February 1917, the 6th Northamptonshire Regiment was the right hand assault battalion at Boom Ravine, near Miraumont, with the 11th Royal Fusiliers on their left. Whilst forming up before dawn, the two battalions were bombarded by German artillery and suffered many casualties. When the assault commenced the German barbed wire was found to be largely uncut and the attacking companies were channelled into gaps in the wire where machine-guns targeted the bottlenecks. Lt. Denzil Mitford Heriz Heriz-Smith was mortally wounded by shell-fire, possibly trench-mortar fire fro the "Tongue" position in Boom Ravine. He was removed from the battle by stretcher bearers of the battalion and after receiving attention from the Regimental doctor, was evuacated by men of the 54th Field Ambulance RAMC**. At this point, Denzil Heriz-Smith died of his wounds.

His C.O., Lt. Col. Reginald Turner D.S.O. wrote of Lt. Heriz-Smith: “I cannot speak too highly of your son’s coolness and gallantry in action, and of the affection with which the men regarded him. He had been through two big actions with distinction. He died doing his duty and leading his men to victory, as he would have wished.”

Second Lieutenant Denzil Mitford Heriz Heriz-Smith is buried at Regina Trench Military Cemetery, Grave Reference VIII.B.21.

* In some places he is shown with an extra "Heriz" in his name, sometimes not.

** Although, the place of death is given as 54th Field Ambulance, the RAMC in this area were using German POWs to help evacuate soldiers from the area using a light railway and flat hand-pushed wagons.

CWGC

Name: HERIZ-SMITH, DENZIL MITFORD HERIZ

Initials: D M H

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Lieutenant

Regiment: Northamptonshire Regiment

Unit Text: "A" Coy. 6th Bn.

Age: 23

Date of Death: 17/02/1917

Additional information: Son of Charles Mitford Heriz-Smith and Marion Heriz-Smith, of "Four Winds," Kessingland Beach, Lowestoft.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: VIII. B. 21.

Cemetery: REGINA TRENCH CEMETERY, GRANDCOURT

1901 CENSUS

Not found. Presumed outside the UK, probably in India at the time. Probably born in India.

Wrong! With a location, I eventually found them.

At: The Bungalow, near Pot (?) Kilns, Great Cornard, Suffolk.

Name; Estimated Birth Year; Birthplace; Relationship; (Profession)

Denzil M Hery (Denzil M Heriz-Smith), abt 1894, Filey, Yorkshire, England, Son.

Joan M Hery (Joan M Heriz-Smith), abt 1891, Madres Pres, India, Daughter.

Lewis Gillian Hery (Lewis Gillian Heriz-Smith), abt 1900, Great Cornard, Suffolk, England, Daughter

Marid F G Hery(Marion F G Heriz-Smith), abt 1863, Howick, Northumberland, England, Wife

Smith Chas M Hery (Charles M Heriz-Smith), abt 1853 (Q1 1853), London (Loddon), Norfolk, England, Head(Retired ex-PWD, India)

Sybel M Hery (Sybil M Heriz-Smith), abt 1896 (Q4 1895), Great Cornard, Suffolk, England, Daughter

Marie Lavorsie(Lavoisie), abt 1872, Foreign Subject French, Servant (cook)

Victor Lavorsie (Lavoisie), abt 1869, Foreign Subject French, Servant (Gardener)

Mathilde Romeril, abt 1869, Nat, Servant (Governess)

Blanche Rose, abt 1883, Lawshall, Suffolk, England, Servant (Nurse)

BIRTH REGISTRATION

Name: Denzo Mitford H Smith

Year of Registration: 1894

Quarter of Registration: Jan-Feb-Mar

District: Scarborough

County: East Riding Of Yorkshire, North Riding Of Yorkshire

Volume: 9d

Page: 357

MEDAL CARD

Medal card of Herig-Smith, Denzil Milford

Corps Regiment No Rank

Northamptonshire Regiment Second Lieutenant

Northamptonshire Regiment Lieutenant

Due to the spelling errors and my own impatience/incompetence(?) - my ordered War Diaries were waiting - I could not find his MIC on the NA computer, and I have therefore relied on the date given in his obituary in the Times for his date to France and Medal entitlement.

The Medal Card gives no date to France, only showing DoW 17-2-1917 and medal entitlement to 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

SERVICE RECORD

Service Record in WO339/ 2021 Heriz-Smith D M H , 1914-1917 & 1923.

(I have yet to review his Service Record :( )

Now reviewed and changes made to above as highlighted in Blue.

LONDON GAZETTE ENTRIES

London Gazette 5-12-1914

The undermentioned to be temporary Second Lieutenants. Dated 4th December, 1914: —

INFANTRY.

Denzil Mitford Heriz Heriz-Smith.

---

London Gazette 12-5-1916

The undermentioned temp. 2nd Lts. are transferred fro Res. Bns. with seniority from dates shown against their names:-

Infantry

Service Bns.

North’n R.

D. M. H. Heriz-Smith. 4th December 1914

---

London Gazette 20-3-1917

North'n R.

The undermentioned temp. 2nd Lts. to be temp. Lts.: —

D. M. H. Heriz-Smith. 1 Jan. 1917. (Since died of wounds.)

OBITUARY

The Times 13th March 1917

DEATHS

HERIZ-SMITH : On the 17th Feb., from wounds received in action on the same day, LIEUT. DENZIL MITFORD HERIZ-SMITH, Northants Regt., only surving son of Charles Mitford Heriz-Smith. Madras P.W.D. retd, St. George's Lodge Bedford.

---

The Times 15th March 1917.

"PERSONAL NOTES" (i.e. Extended obituary on some officers)

post-6536-1183062446.jpg

Northampton Independent 31-3-1917

(Please note that my copy of the obituary was not very good and I have "guessed" some words whilst retaining the context of the Obituary)

Died for their Country

Lt. D. M. Heriz-Smith

The head boy of Bedford School.

There is great sorrow among all ranks of the 6th Northamptonshire Regiment over the death in action of Lt. Denzil Heriz-Smith for there was no officer more beloved in the battalion than he. He was within a few days of his 23rd birthday, but he crowded into his all too short career a record of good and gallant service united with a nobility of character, which will make his memory tenderly cherished. He was the only surviving son of Mr. Charles Mitford Heriz-Smith, of St. George’s Lodge, Bedford, late of the Public Works Dept., Madras. The first few years of his life were spent at Cornard Magna, Sudbury where his parents resided before coming to Bedford in 1904. A nephew by marriage of Mr. E. C. Ransome of the firm of Messrs. Ransome, Simms and Jeffries of Highwood, Ipswich, lately Mayor of that town, he came into association with the late Colonel Ripley whose brother, Mr. Phillip Ripley is managing director of that firm. At Bedford School he greatly distinguished himself, winning many form prizes and in 1913-1914 he attained the position of “Head of the School”, a position in which his abilities and affectionate disposition found full scope for helpful service. By nature gentle and unobtrusive, his manly and generous nature working in concert with a great love of boys and boyhood made him an ideal “Head of School”. He formed many close friendships and it was a great grief to him to have lost so many companions in the war. One of his most intimate friends was the late Lieutenant Lambert (the first officer in the battalion to fall) who received such high tributes from the late Colonel Ripley. An accomplished athlete, Lieutenant Heriz-Smith received at Lord Roberts’ hands a special prize given by the Field Marshal himself, for the best all round boy, consisting of the book “Forty-one years in India” on the first page of which in the field Marshall’s own handwriting and over his own signature is the following inscription:

“Presented to Denzil M. Heriz-Smith, the best all-round boy in the school. Head of the School, awarded a special Exhibition of Classics at Cambridge, Captain of the Gymnasium, in the Football XV, a member of the Officers, Training Corps, and of the School VIII.-by F.M. Lord Roberts. Bedford, 27th July 1914.

This was to him a very precious possession, as it will be to those whom he has left behind him. On leaving school he entered at Queen’s College Cambridge, intending on eventually taking Holy Orders, but on the outbreak of war at once determined to do his duty, and joined the U.P.S. battalion of the Royal Fusiliers at Epsom, and in the course of time he received a commission in the Northamptonshire Regiment.

Left behind when his battalion went to the front, he underwent prolonged training at Bedford, Colchester and elsewhere rejoining his battalion in France in December 1915. From that time onwards he went through the usual experience of life in the trenches varied by spells of training in rest camps, during which time he took great interest in the games and recreations of the men, playing himself in several inter battalion “Rugger” football competitions.

In July 1916 the forward movement began and the battalion played a memorable role in the two important actions that took place in that month commencing with that of Trones Wood in which the casualties were high including the gallant Colonel. Through these actions and a good deal of subsequent time he was lucky enough to pass unscathed but in the battle which took place of February 17th of this year he received his fatal wound as he was leading on his men behind the objective, and succumbed the same day.

“He did splendidly in the battle getting right forward with his platoon” writes one who was there. “He was a great sportsman and a true English gentleman” In writing of his death. Major Podmore says, “He was a fine soldier, and I cannot speak too highly of his coolness and gallantry in action, and of the affection with which the men regarded him. He had been through two big actions in July with distinction and came through unscathed, and it is indeed bad luck that his wounds this time should be so severe that he died before reaching the dressing station.”

Another officer writes: “He was one of the very few remaining original officers of the battalion at the time of his death. He had been through many fights unscathed and I think no other officer in the battalion has a bigger record of battles, but now we have lost him;” and the Chaplain says “I cannot say what a loss he is to us.”

The School paper, the “Ouzel” in a tribute to his memory adds: “His service in the School will be remembered with gratitude and affection. He had many accomplishments and one single purpose – to do his duty. A love of peace and home, he would have devoted his life to work for his country in the highest service of all.

Northampton Independent 14-4-1917

From the Front, April 5.

Seeing about the late Denzil Heriz-Smith’s death in your last week’s paper, I thought it would interest you to know that of the four that fetched him out of the barrage, two of us, Privates Whyman and Silvester of “D” Company, 6th Northants, are still here. I am sorry to say that the others are killed. We got him to our Regimental Doctor. After that four more took him to the R.A.M.C. station. We had to carry him about 700 yards to safety. We have also written to the late Lieutenant Smith’s family.

3/10297 Pte. Whyman, “D” Company. 11608 Pte. Silvester, “D” Company.

It will be remembered that the bereaved father of the gallant officer (Mr. C. M. Heriz-Smith of St. George’s Lodge, Bedford) who has thus lost his only son, wrote to me concerning these gallant stretcher bearers in the hope of tracing them and added: “Their names will, I suppose, never be known but they offer farther prove of their gallantry and fearlessness of our Northamptonshire fellows, and my heart goes out to them for their devotion and bravery”.

[The men would have been 3/10297 Pte. Frederick Whyman, ex 1st Battalion, gassed at Loos, MM LG 18-7-17 (probably for Cherisy on 3-5-1917), and MM Bar LG 13-9-18] and 16608 (not 11608) Pte. John Silvester, KIA 29-9-1918.

....................

WEBLINKS

Link to Queens College Roll of Honour page.

http://www.queens.cam.ac.uk/Queens/Record/...istory/ww1.html

(Simon Bull, a member here with interest in the Northamptonshire Regiment, helped in the compilation of this Roll of Honour.)

Heriz-Smith family history site:

http://www.heriz-smith.com/genealogy/WC01/WC01_126.HTM

---

Finally, a 2nd pic taken from the line up of the original officers of the battalion before transfer to France.

post-6536-1183062482.jpg

I had quite a bit to do at the NA on Tuesday (including completing my copying of the 6th Northants War Diary), so I didn't have enough time to order his file. Not only that but he was the only officer I couldnt find again on the MICs (due to not taking a note of the fact that two of his names had been mispelt on it)

Bit of a b***-up really by me, but I didn't think it vitally important at the time... Typical. :rolleyes:

(Now corrected!)

Let me know what you need for your research and I'll have a look. I'm in the middle of transcribing the 6th Northants War Diary at present (well about 10% of the way through) so I'll have to search for him the old fashioned way if we want to find him.

I'd just started typing up some information on the attack at Boom Ravine from the 54th Brigade History, for someone else (who's just PM'd me...) I'll get back to it, now.

There is also a 5 page write up on Boom Ravine in the War Diary which I haven't yet transcribed. It's written in idelible pencil so not the greatest to read on screen. I'll try to transcribe that at the weekend, too.

If you have already downloaded his MIC I would be grateful for a copy &/or the details on it.

Hope that's a little to be going on with.... ;)

I would be interested in seeing any extracts from Lt. Heriz-Smith's diary that you are willing to share as my great-uncle 17023 Pte. Walter Beeby served with the battalion and was possibly in "A" Company. I doubt the Lieutenant would mention him as he was a Private but, you never know!

Steve.

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machin

Dear Steve,

thanks so much for your amazing reply! It was like discovering a treasure trove of information, and so quick as well!

I taught history at Bedford School for 35 years. This is the school where Heriz-Smith was headboy.

My intention, encouraged by the Head Master, is to write up the letters and diaries, add some context, and hopefully do a small book.

I have just finished doing this for a soldier in the Somerset Light Infantry who survived the war as an "Old Contemptible" and left diaries that have never been used.

I would be very grateful for any information you can glean on H-S, and equally anything on Boom Ravine. The war record of the 6th Northants would help me enormously. Equally I will look out for any references to your great uncle, and I will forward any information I think you may be interested in.

Thanks so much

I will keep in touch.

Best wishes

Tim Machin

NB I know quite a lot about the Somerset Light Infantry in the early months of the war if you know anyone who is interested.

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Guest Simon Bull

Tim

You have probably looked at it, but there is an excellent book on Boom Ravine in the Battleground Europe series by Trevor Pidgeon.

This might well help you if you have not yet looked at it.

If you have not been there it is an interesting sector of the battlefield to visit.

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Stebie9173

The 6th Northamptonshires War Diary makes mention of Lt. Heriz-Smith's fate, but not details. It was almost certainly from fire from the "Tongue" a part of Boom Ravine that protruded further south than the rest (see the map below) and at around 6.0oam.

From the War Diary:

"The first two waves of the centre company (A) got over GRANDCOURT TRENCH with little opposition but were then met by heavy machine gun & trench mortar fire from their left a large body of Germans holding the Tongue in the Boom Ravine about R 11 C.5.3.

It was necessary to clear this point before advancing : during the operation A/Capt. McWHA and Lt. HERIZ-SMITH became casualties. The rear waves of the centre company were met with considerable opposition in GRANDCOURT TRENCH. It is not clear if the opposition was present when the first two waves went through or not : but the 4th wave encountered machine guns in the wire of GRANDCOURT TRENCH."

That could leave it open to be rifle, machine-gun or trench mortar fire that delivered the fatal wound.

Steve.

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Stebie9173

Boom Ravine

17th February 1917

From 54th Brigade History

"The Brigade had another three days out of the line for rehearsals, and on the night of February 15th-16th took over the battle front for the operations on the 17th. These were part of a big attack on both banks of the Ancre, to seize the high ground giving observation over the upper Ancre Valley.

We were on the south of the Ancre, below Miraumont, and had to attack from in front of Desire Trench due north towards South Miraumont Trench, first across Grandcourt Trench, and then across the deep sunken road known as Boom Ravine, which so far as this Brigade is concerned, gives its name to the action.

The assaulting battalions were the [6th] Northamptonshires (right) and [11th Royal] Fusiliers (left). The [12th] Middlesex Regiment was in support and the [7th] Bedfordshire Regiment in reserve. The [8th] Suffolk Regiment (53rd Brigade) were on our left, and the 2nd Division on our right.

Just why the weather had such frequent pro-German moods during the war is a question to be discussed in a more scientific book than this. But the fact remains that the hard frost, which would have given us almost ideal ground to attack over broke on the night of the 16th, and most of our troubles were due to the appalling mud which resulted from the untimely thaw.

Our forming up place was just in front of a depression known as the Gully, and from the Gully a sunken road ran into Boom Ravine. The junction of this sunken road with the Gully was known as "Oxford Circus" and the familiar name may enable me to make the general lie of the land clear to those who know their London.

Assuming that, instead of being in "Oxford Circus" facing Miraumont (a most unhealthy spot in the darkness of the early hours of February 17th), you had the far better luck to be in the real Oxford Circus in London, facing towards Queen's Hall, our forming-up lines would lie to your right and left down Oxford Street. Going towards Queen's Hall and Langham Hotel, you would first cross the enemy's wire and Grandcourt Trench, and Boom Ravine would be represented by streets running right an d left near the church. Beyond, roughly half-right, would be South Miraumont. Now fill Oxford Circus, Oxford Street and every step that you are going to walk to the church, with shell-holes and churned up ground, knee deep mud, and call down from heaven deadly hail of shrapnel and high explosive, with rifle fire and machine-gun fire to sweep every yard of your journey, and you will have a fair idea of the conditions.

On the night of the 16th the forming-up lines were taped and the wire cut, in spite of the darkness and some pretty heavy shelling by the enemy. The tapes were from 100 to 200 yards in front of the Gully.

Orders were for all troops to be in position by 4.45am on the 17th. There were two ways up to the forming up place, one along the duck-boards (as one might go up Regent Street to Oxford Circus) and one up Cornwall Trench, the only communication trench. Both became very congested, especially the trench, and the scene in the Gully was like a London crowd coming out of a theatre.

Just before 4.30am the enemy sent up yellow and green lights, and a heavy barrage opened at once on the Gully and the ground immediately to the north. It was discovered afterwards from captured German officers that they had learned full details of the proposed attack, and knew the approximate hour at which it was to be launched.

Both the assaulting battalions suffered heavily in this bombardment, especially the Fusiliers. Crowded together in the Gully and Oxford Circus, the men had no shelter. It was in the pitchy dark hours before dawn, rain was falling, the ground was deep in slippery mud, and there were no trenches to guide to the forming-up line. One platoon of the Northamptonshire Regiment was almost entirely wiped out as it was led up to the forming-up place; and of the total Fusiliers casualties in the whole of the operation, one-half were suffered in the Gully and thereabouts. That the battalions were formed up at all, in this dark mouth of hell, was due very largely to their gallant and skilful handling by officers and NCOs and to the courage and discipline of the men themselves, many of whom lay in the mud for hours under heavy shell-fire, awaiting the order to go over the top. That, after the terrible ordeal before dawn, they fought their way forward so well as to snatch a very large measure of success out of what might have been utter disaster speaks volumes for their doggedness and dash.

Some splendid work was done by 2nd-Lieutenants Boulton and Higham and Company Sergeant Major Cuthbert, of the Northamptonshire Regiment, in getting their men into position. Of the officers of two Fusilier companies in the front line (one to each side of road leading up to the Ravine), only two - Captain Morton of "A", and Captain Collis Sandes of "B" - were unwounded at zero hour.

At 5.45 am our barrage opened, and the assaulting battalions went forward close up to it towards the first objective. Before he had gone 200 yards, Captain Collis Sandes had a bullet through the neck, and Captain Morton had half his foot taken of by a shell a little farther on. So in the darkness and drizzling rain, over the slippery ground all cut up by constant bombardment, through shell fire and the thresh of machine-gun fire and sniping, the waves went on. The Trench Mortar Battery did good work, getting forward with the assaulting line, though heavily burdened with guns and ammunition, and losing heavily. The section of the 54th Brigade Machine Gun Company attached to the assaulting battalions also went forward well. As soon as our barrage opened, the enemy sent up showers of spray lights, and some green, and in answer to this appeal his guns put down a barrage on our front. It was, however, short-lived, and it seemed our counter-battery work was very good.

On arriving before Grandcourt Trench it was found that much of the wire was still uncut, and the delay in finding the gaps gave the enemy time to get away and take up fresh positions beyond the trench and on both sides of Boom Ravine. The movement along the front of the wire to find gaps also led to some loss of direction and mixing up of companies. It must be remembered that it was still dark. Not until 6.5am was there light enough to see more than a few yards. On the whole, the wire was better cut in front of the Fusiliers than in front of the Northamptonshire Regiment. In the case of the latter, the left and centre companies were held up by rifle and machine gun fire at this point so long as to loose [lose?] the barrage.

Meanwhile the Fusiliers had been able to get forward, and Boom Ravine was reached at last. Every officer was now a casualty, and the four companies were badly mixed up; but Company Sergeant Major Fitterer, of "B" Company, although he had a bullet through the thigh, reorganised the men and led them forward. He was well assisted in this by sergeants Choate ("A" Company), Berry ("B" Company) and Hazell ("D" Company).

At the Ravine the Fusiliers took over 100 prisoners, and these were at once pressed into service by Major J.C. Sale, D.S.O., then regimental medical officer, as stretcher-bearers.

The right company of the Northamptonshire Regiment was also able to get forward from Grandcourt trench with the barrage, according to timetable, but the left and centre companies were delayed, thus leaving a gap between the left of the Northamptonshire Regiment and the right of the Fusiliers.

The Fusiliers, so splendidly rallied and led by Company Sergeant Major Fitterer, and the right company of the Northamptonshire Regiment, advanced from the Ravine soon after 6.30am, leaving men of the Middlesex Regiment, who were sent over as "mopper-ups" to carry out their good work amongst the dug-outs. But there had been so much delay, owing to the mixing up of companies, the heavy casualties among officers, and the great difficulty of crossing this deep sunken road, that the barrage was lost. [Half an hour pause was allotted. It took an hour to take the Ravine and reorganise] Accordingly, when they arrived before South Miraumont Trench, they were not only held up by uncut wire, but saw their barrage far ahead and the Germans lining the trench, and could do nothing but drop into shell-holes. A few of the Northamptonshire Regiment under Lieutenant T. R. Price D.S.O., the adjutant, who had now come up, and 2nd-Lieutenant [Percy Harrowell] Higham, M.C., did actually succeed in entering the trench, but there could be no hope of staying there with every other part of the line held up.

Soon after this, about 8.30am, a strong German counter-attack was delivered from Petit-Miraumont. From captured German orders and statements by prisoners, it appears that these were specially trained counter-attack troops, brought up as soon as news of our intended attack reached them the previous night. They consisted largely of marksmen and machine gunners. Their fire was extremely accurate, while we were in poor plight, most of our rifles and Lewis guns being clogged, owing to the lying in mud in the dark before the attack, and the bad ground that had to be covered in the advance.

Whatever the exact cause, the British line, seeing no appreciable effect produced by their fire on the advancing Germans, began to fall back. Lieutenant Price now handled the Northamptonshire Regiment with the greatest skill and gallantry. He moved to and fro along the line under heavy fire, steadying the retirement and then, seeing that our right was in the sir, swung the little body of survivors to form a defensive flank on the West Miraumont Road. Lieutenant Colonel R. J. F. Meyricke, of the 11th Fusiliers, who had taken over command of the Northamptonshire Regiment as recently as February 3rd, was killed while going forward from the Ravine with Lieutenant Price.

In the meantime Lieutenant Colonel C. C. Carr, D.S.O. commanding the Fusiliers, and Captain G. F. J. Cumberledge, D.S.O., his adjutant, had come up and got hold of the Fusiliers, together with remnants of other battalions from the Brigade on our left [53rd Brigade], and steadied that part of the line. Later this left flank was taken over by Lieutenant C. F. Chute, Brigade Signal Officer, and Lieutenant Pearcy, Fusiliers Signalling Officer.

The line was now held until the afternoon, when, reinforced by two companies of the Middlesex Regiment, all that was left of the two assaulting battalions again moved forward almost to the crest of the spur overlooking South Miraumont Trench, and occupied a series of rifle and machine-gun posts. This line was handed over to the 8th East Surrey Regiment (55th Brigade) on the evening of the 18th.

Our casualties were heavy, the Brigade losing in all 14 officers killed, 25 wounded, and 2 missing. Of other ranks, 115 were killed, 423 wounded and 161 missing.

Mention has already been made of the employment of German prisoners as stretcher-bearers. By keeping them constantly at work, all the Brigade casualties were evacuated within a couple of hours, though it was a very long carry over heavy ground. The difficulties that the medical service had to grapple with that they were indeed very great. Stretcher cases were carried 2,400 yards from regimental aid-posts in Boom Ravine to tramhead at Hessian Trench, then pushed along the tram-line 2,300 yards to the advanced dressing station. The carry was uphill all the way, under fire, and over ground all churned up by shells and knee-deep in mud. In the opinion of the medical officers it was the heaviest work that the bearers ever had to perform.

In this attack all behaved with such courage in exceptionally trying circumstances that to attempt any complete record of individual gallantry would be to give a nominal roll of those who went over in the darkness and mud of that grim February dawn. In dealing with some outstanding cases one must take the risk of omitting many equally deserving of mention.

It will be remembered that the Middlesex Regiment, as supporting battalion, pushed two companies into the front line at a critical moment when we were getting some pretty bad hammering on the spur before South Miraumont Trench. 2nd-Lieutenant W. B. Godwin, of the Middlesex Regiment, did gallant work at this point. With a few men he got about 200 yards to the northeast of our objective, owing to a fog that had come down. The enemy counter-attacked, and though greatly outnumbered, 2nd-Lieutenant Godwin and his men stood their ground and fought till all but one were killed. This fine stand was effective in breaking up a threatening counter-attack. Unhappily, the gallant officer himself was killed. Lieutenant V. D. Corbett was another Middlesex officer who did good work in fixing and consolidating our final line of defence under heavy rifle and shellfire. Acting Company Sergeant-Major Kerr of the same battalion will also be remembered. All the officers of his company having become casualties, he reorganised the company, and directed the work of clearing dug-outs in the Ravine until killed.

Mention has already been made of Lieutenant C. F. Chute R.E., Brigade Signal Officer. He had gone forward to the first objective to establish telephone communication with a visual station. While doing this he saw that the enemy counter attack on our right was driving back the line in some confusion, owing to a loss of nearly all the officers. He at once went forward, rallied the men under heavy fire, checked the withdrawal, and the got into communication with Brigade headquarters, giving such a timely and accurate report that steps could be taken which resulted in the recapture of most important high ground.

The signalling officer of the Fusiliers, 2nd-Lieutenant Pearcy did equally gallant work. During the counter-attack he rallied the men of his battalion, when all company officers were casualties, and by his fine example under fire did much to restore the situation. For a great part of the time he took command of the remnants of his battalion in the front line.

While writing of the signals service one must say a word for the good work done by the men. Pioneer Walter Jones, R.E., attached to Brigade headquarters, worked without rest for forty-eight hours under constant shell fire, laying lines up to our most forward troops and replacing breaks. The runners also did excellent work, delivering messages under heavy fire. Privates F. C. Ross (Fusiliers), A. H. Philby (Bedfordshires), and R. A. Young (Middlesex), all attached to Brigade headquarters, attracted attention for devotion to duty. Private S. G. Hazell, of the Fusiliers, also did fine work as a runner, invariably carrying ammunition or Lewis gun drums forward on his own initiative when taking a message, and very greatly helping officers by his accurate observations and reports. Privates E. C. Bailey, and T. H. Bryan of the Northamptonshire Regiment, did equally good work in keeping up communications in their battalion.

Turning to the officers of the Fusiliers, the work of Captain G. F. J Cumberledge, then adjutant of the battalion, has already been mentioned, and his action in rallying men of his own and other battalions undoubtedly restored order and enabled us to hold onto an important ridge at a very critical moment. Nor would anyone consider this record complete without a word about the work of Captain G. B. Morton, whose courage and coolness did so much to form up his company and get it forward, until he was seriously wounded, and Captain (now Major) J. C. Sale, medical officer of the battalion, whose care for the wounded under heavy fire was an inspiration to all ranks. Lieutenant Bernard Ashmole, in temporary command of his company, was wounded in the knee at an early stage, but hobbled forward almost to the first objective till he collapsed with a second wound.

The fine work of Company Sergeant-Major P. J. Fitterer has already been dealt with. He was ably assisted by a number of N.C.Os in the battalion. There was Lance-Corporal G. Morgan, who volunteered to take an important message when three runners had already been killed or wounded in trying to get this message through. He succeeded in his task, although blown up on the way. Later he rallied a party of men of another regiment who had started to retire, and kept them in position for the rest of the day under heavy fire.

Lance-Corporal J. W. Butler was another prominent figure. When all his company oficers were casualties he took his Lewis gun team forward and kept his gun in action when all the team except one ammunition carrier had fallen, and when the line was compelled to withdraw was the last to come in, bringing back not only his own gun, but another which had been abandoned. Other good work with Lewis guns that attracted attention was that of Corporal C. Franklin, Corporal C. J. Diamond, Lance-Corporal W. G. Oliver, Lance Corporal P. Salt, Private A. N. Nellor, and Private J. Ball.

With all officers knocked out so early, it was essentially a day for initiative and leadership on the part of N.C.Os. Sergeant F. W. Hazell commanded his company with great coolness and ability throughout the day. Corporal E. A. Hart organised his company under heavy fire when there were no oficers left. Later he volunteered to take command of an advanced post, and held it until relieved the following day. Platoons were commanded and led by Sergeants H. Berry and B. Armstrong, Private H. Thorns. Good work in tending and bringing in the wounded under fire was done by Privates W. Whare and E. W. Trott.

Turning to the Northamptonshire Regiment, it has already been seen what an important part the work and example of Lieutenant T. R. Price (then Adjutant) played in saving a critical situation. Nor will any who survived that day forget the gallantry of Lieutenant C. G. Kemp, the medical officer, whose cheerful and unceasing worked, in spite of many casualties to stretcher bearers, got the battlefield cleared in such short time.

As in the Fusiliers, so in the Northamptonshire Regiment, the early loss of practically every officer threw a heavy responsibility on the other ranks, and they rose splendidly to the occasion. During the forming up of his company under fire, Company Sergeant-Major O. Cuthbert stood on top of a bank the whole time, until the last man was in position, and his coolness did much to steady the men in a very unpleasant situation. All the officers of the company were casualties as soon as the company moved forward, and this warrant officer was shortly afterwards wounded, but refused to go back until he had handed over the company properly to the senior sergeant. Among the N.C.Os who showed courage and good leadership in carrying on were Sergeants W. E. Toe, G. Quartermain, A. C. Gilbert, S. Flanagan, Corporal W. R. Thompson, and Lance Corporals A. Lee, W. Wreford and J. Hall.

At least two other individuals attracted notice. Private Charles Chantrell was servant to the officer commanding the leading wave. When this officer and most of the N.C.Os became casualties, before reaching the Ravine, he at once took charge of the platoon, lead them against a number of the enemy, whom he cleared out, reorganised in the Ravine, and proceeded with the advance.

When Grandcourt Trench was reached, many Germans were found lying in front, apparently dead. It occurred to Private J. W. Walsh to lift the cap from one of them. The man at once jumped up and held up his hands. The rest of the Germans who were also shamming dead were promptly dealt with. A machine gun and a number of rifles were lying by them, and but for Private Walsh's action the whole company would have been shot in the back. [This tactic was reported successful in a different part of the line].

In the Middlesex battalion a great deal of excellent work was also done when Boom Ravine was reached. 2nd-Lieutenant R. Charlesworth was the only officer left in two companies. Taking command, he carried out the work of dug-out clearing with great energy and thoroughness, and organised the consolidation in a very capable manner. In the same work Company Sergeant-Major J. Warner also distinguished himself.

Operations in front of South Miraumont Trench, when two companies of the Middlesex Regiment had been moved up to the front line, was marked by some fine examples of initiative. When an enemy machine-gun became a nuisance, Sergeant T. Travers, although suffering from a painful wound, led a bombing attack over the open, blew up the gun and some gunners, and took the rest prisoner.

Private H. S. Elliott and W. Taylor did similar good work. At one time the advance was held up by about fifty of the enemy with enfilade fire from a machine gun. Rushing forward with their Lewis gun on their own initiative to a spot where they got a better field of fire, they brought their gun into action with such good effect that the enemy's machine gun was knocked out, and the party of Germans were all killed, wounded or taken prisoners.

During a counter-attack a certain platoon engaged in consolidation of Boom Ravine lost its officer and sergeant. Private A. Humphries at once took command, reorganised the men and dug in, saving the situation at a critical moment.

In the case of one of the companies, Sergeant G. Rowe took command when all officers were casualties, took the men forward to the objective, and continued in command till relieved by an officer two days later."

[The conclusions in the Brigade History that the attack was a success a more than a little optimistic. While the first line at Boom Ravine was certainly taken, the attack failed in reaching its objectives and indeed several enquiries were held into its failings.]

Steve.

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Stebie9173

The Appendix of the 6th Northamptonshire Regiment War Diary.

NARRATIVE OF THE PART PLAYED BY THE 6th NORTHAMPTONSHIRE REGIMENT IN THE OPERATIONS AGAINST S. MIRAUMONT TRENCH FEB 17 1917

On the night of Feb 15 the battalion took over in battle front from the 8th East Surrey Regiment. This front was held by one company the others being situated as shown in the appendix. [Appendix appears to be missing]

The ground was carefully reconnoitred for forming-up lines but no actual marked line put in on the night of the 15th. At about 5am the enemy opened up a fairly heavy barrage on the line of the Gully & 80 yards north of it. This was most useful - enabling us to adjust our forming-up positions and close them up, so as to leave all lines clear of the Gully where it seemed his barrage would come.

On the night of the 16th 2Lt BOULTON (O.C. B Company holding the line) and 2Lt. HIGHAM (Intelligence Officer) assisted by officers and NCOs of the assaulting companies got the lines for forming up taped out & otherwise marked & our own wire sufficiently cut, by 12 midnight. They accomplished this in spite of great difficulty owing to the extreme darkness of the night, & although a heavy barrage was opened on them around 9pm.

Orders had been received that all troops were to be in position by 4.45am i.e. an hour before the time fixed for zero hour.

At 1am the leading platoon of C Company (the left assaulting company) reached the GULLY, and was at once taken out to its position by guides. There was some congestion on the way up at this time, and the rest of the company with its attached dug-out clearing parties was not in position till nearly 2.30. However, by 3.30 the whole of A Company, the centre company, was also in position with its dug-out clearing parties : by 4.15 the leading three companies of the right company (-D-) were also in position : just before 4.30 however as the last platoon with Coy HQ ..... Lewis guns was being taken into position the enemy sent up yellow and green light sprays & a heavy barrage was immediately opened on the line of the GULLY & a line running about 80 yards north of it. This last platoon of D Company suffered heavy casualties from those shells - the whole of one Lewis gun team becoming casualties & the O.C. commanding Coy. Capt. UNWIN was slightly wounded & suffering a serious concussion. The acting Sergeant Major showed splendid coolness : .... the platoon together again & placed them in their forming up positions.

The shelling while the 4th company was moving into its position N.E. of the GULLY about 4.45am was extremely heavy & there were a certain amount of casualties : too high praise cannot be given to 2Lt BOULTON & CSM CUTHBERT for their courage and coolness in directing the move under these trying circumstances.

The whole battalion was position by 4.50am. The enemy shelling continued heavy till 5.30am & then slackened a little. It was afterwards discussed that the enemy had received information of the attack six hours previously from some deserters (or prisoners) from the division on the right, who had told them everything except that they put the zero hour at 5.15 instead of 5.45. The barrage was certainly much heavier than the previous morning & on this occasion was accompanied by S.O.S. in great profusion.

The morning was extremely dark (heavy clouds obscuring the moon that should have risen about 4.20am), the ground was very soft and slippery - the thaw after nearly a months heavy frost having just commenced & altogether conditions could not have been more unfavourable to forming up for an attack absolutely without trenches. The greatest credit is due to 2Lts BOULTON & HIGHAM for the success of the forming up, and to all ranks for the absolute quiet & order with which the forming up was carried out & the calm courage with which they lay on the mud (some of them for three or four hours) with this heavy hostile shelling upon them. Actual casualties among the lines actual formed up and lying down were extremely few, but the test of discipline was extremely severe.

At 5.45am our barrage opened & the enemy at once sent up showers of yellow spray light & some green lights as well. His answering barrage was however very short lived & it would seem that our counter-barrage on this morning was excellent.

Our men had no difficulties in following our barrage up to GRANDCOURT TRENCH - though the light was very poor till after 6am but at arrival at the wire they found in many cases that it had not been cut. Only a few very narrow passages were to be found and the delay in finding these gave the enemy time to get into position again both in GRANDCOURT TRENCH & also on both sides of BOOM RAVINE. This movement along the wire to find gaps was also largely responsible for the loss of direction and mixing up of companies which took place in the case of the left company (-C-) the first two waves & those behind were held up by machine gun and rifle fire in GRANDCOURT TRENCH which delayed them at least half an hour & caused heavy casualties. The OC Company Lt. WINKWORTH & another officer 2Lt COOPER both became casualties before getting over GRANDCOURT TRENCH.

The first two waves of the centre company (-A-) got over GRANDCOURT TRENCH with little opposition but were then met by heavy machine gun & trench mortar fire from their left a large body of Germans holding the Tongue in the Boom Ravine about R 11 C.5.3.

It was necessary to clear this point before advancing : during the operation A/Capt. McWHA and Lt. HERIZ-SMITH became casualties. The rear waves of the centre company were met with considerable opposition in GRANDCOURT TRENCH. It is not clear if the opposition was present when the first two waves went through or not : but the 4th wave encountered machine guns in the wire of GRANDCOURT TRENCH.

The right Company D was the only one which was able to advance from Boom Ravine in anything like time (?) for the barrage - that is to say half an hour after entering it. The left and centre companies were occupied for a good hour in clearing GRANDCOURT TRENCH and the RAVINE : no actual time is available - only one company officer surviving crossed the RAVINE - but it seems quite certain that none of the left or centre company started out of the RAVINE till a clear half hour after the barrage had lifted from its first halt. Of the right company a certain number - chiefly those who - losing direction - had moved so as to leave BOOM RAVINE just as their left did, after finding their mistake & regaining direction started up the hill in R 11 C on the W of the WEST MIRAUMONT ROAD. But even these only arrived in time to see the barrage leaving the top of the hill, & by the time they came in view of SOUTH MIRAUMONT TRENCH, the barrage was on the N side of it and the Germans already re-appearing in the trench.

The 2nd Division on our right had established themselves in portions of SOUTH MIRAUMONT TRENCH : our men found only a very few gaps cut in the wire and was forced in the majority of cases to lie down quiet on our side of the wire and try to cut it. Later a few parties, one under 2Lt. HIGHAM MC and the other under Lt. PRICE did enter the trench W of the WEST MIRAUMONT ROAD and establish & fortify. But on the whole the number of the 18th Divisional troops in SOUTH MIRAUMONT TRENCH was small.: whereas the trench east of WEST MIRAUMONT ROAD was fairly thickly occupied by British troops.

It was about this time - apparently about 8.30am - that is to say when our barrage was behind the third objective - that a strong German counter-attack was delivered from PETIT-MIRAUMONT and the GULLY in R 5 d. This appears to have been the main attack, though parties also advanced from the brook in R 5 C (on the GRANDCOURT - MIRAUMONT ROAD) It appears from captured German orders & statements from prisoners that these were specially trained counter-attack troops, who had been brought up as soon as the information of our coming attack reached them on the previous night : they consisted largely of marksmen & machine-gunners. The fire was extremely accurate, while in the majority of cases British rifles & Lewis & Vickers guns had become clogged almost from the start - owing to lying in the mud in the dark before the attack & the bad ground traversed during the advance.

Whatever the exact cause, the British line seeing no appreciable effect produced by their fire on the advancing Germans began to fall back, chiefly on the right & then all along the line. It was at that point that Lt. PRICE (Adjutant of the 6th Northamptonshires) displayed most conspicuous gallantry. He moved to and fro along the line - steadying the retirement. Then, perceiving that our right was being left in the air & thinking our left comparatively safe, he formed the whole Northamptonshire body of survivors into a defensive flank on the W MIRAUMONT ROAD and this was done by him personally under heavy rifle & machine gun fire & done most successfully. In this position they stayed from about 9.00 to 9.30 : at this time fire began to be opened on them from their left & (rear?) i.e. from S. MIRAUMONT TRENCH with both machine guns and light trench mortars. After suffering heavy casualties for some time, Lt. PRICE decided to swing/bring back his line a original front : this was also carried out under heavy fire and at about 10.00am the battalion was occupying a position about 100 yards N of BOOM RAVINE.

This position was maintained till the afternoon when, in conjunction with 11 Royal Fusiliers, when the line was pushed forward almost to the west of the hill & occupied by a series of rifle & machine gun posts.

This line was handed over to the 8th East Surrey Regiment on the evening of 18th February. A summary of casualties is attached [but it isn’t!]

Signed,

H Podmore Major

6 April

[Apologies for a few missing words that I can't make out]

Steve.

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Stebie9173

I have annotated the following map to hopefully illustrate the locations of action south of Boom Ravine.

BoomRavineAnnotated-SouthoftheRavin.jpg

The location of Lt. Heriz-Smith's mortal wounding is of course an estimate (and presumably A/Captain McWha was wounded around there somewhere). "A" Company had reportedly crossed the wire and South Miraumont Trench (the box-type line south of the Ravine, on the map) with the Tongue on their left.

The newspaper report states that he died before reaching the regimental aid post, so presumably he was on his way back to the Gully, either on a stretcher or under his own steam when he died.

As Simon say the Boom Ravine book by Trevor Pidgeon is an excellent source (and Trevor has obviously accessed the 6th Northamptonshires War Diary, since there are several familiar themes). Lt. Heriz-Smith is mentioned as being killed, though it leaves open the possibility that he was killed before crossing the wire in front of South Miraumont Trench.

It also goes into detail on the other Divisions actions, and also talks of the 18th Division Enquiry, the Fifth Army Enquiry and the possibility of the Traitor(s) that may have given away the plan.

Steve.

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machin
Tim

You have probably looked at it, but there is an excellent book on Boom Ravine in the Battleground Europe series by Trevor Pidgeon.

This might well help you if you have not yet looked at it.

If you have not been there it is an interesting sector of the battlefield to visit.

Dear Steve

Thanks for your suggestion re the Pigeon Book. I haven't read it but will do so very soon!

Best wishes

Tim

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machin
I have annotated the following map to hopefully illustrate the locations of action south of Boom Ravine.

BoomRavineAnnotated-SouthoftheRavin.jpg

The location of Lt. Heriz-Smith's mortal wounding is of course an estimate (and presumably A/Captain McWha was wounded around there somewhere). "A" Company had reportedly crossed the wire and South Miraumont Trench (the box-type line south of the Ravine, on the map) with the Tongue on their left.

The newspaper report states that he died before reaching the regimental aid post, so presumably he was on his way back to the Gully, either on a stretcher or under his own steam when he died.

As Simon say the Boom Ravine book by Trevor Pidgeon is an excellent source (and Trevor has obviously accessed the 6th Northamptonshires War Diary, since there are several familiar passages). Lt. Heriz-Smith is mentioned as being killed, though it leaves open the possibility that he was killed before crossing the wire in front of South Miraumont Trench.

It also goes into detail on the other Divisions actions, and also talks of the 18th Division Enquiry, the Fifth Army Enquiry and the possibility of the Traitor(s) that may have given away the plan.

Steve.

Dear Steve

Thanks for the additional stuff plus map. I will keep you posted re my prgress

Tim

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machin
Dear SIMON

Thanks for your suggestion re the Pigeon Book. I haven't read it but will do so very soon!

Best wishes

Tim

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Stebie9173

Tim,

I shall try to lookup Denzil Heriz-Smith's file on my next trip to the NA.

I'm still transcribing the War Diary, but I'll let you know if Lt. Heriz-Smith crops up again.

Steve.

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Stebie9173

Tim,

Recent trips to both Northampton and the National Archives have been productive.

I have edited my first post with changes highlighted in Blue.

I think I've run out of places to look now!

Steve.

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machin
Tim,

Recent trips to both Northampton and the National Archives have been productive.

I have edited my first post with changes highlighted in Blue.

I think I've run out of places to look now!

Steve.

Dear Steve

Thanks so much and it's brilliant! I am going to start work on the book about Heriz-Smith in a couple of weeks time and I have examined most of the huge archive about him that is at Bedford School. I will keep you posted and will look out for your relative.

Best wishes

Tim

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Stebie9173

Don't suppose you'd be interested in Digital Pics of his NA file would you? I have copied most of his file, barring a few repeated pieces of info.

One of the pages notes that he died at 5pm, and another states his rank as "Lt. and Qmr.".

The files come in around 5mb, if you want me to e-mail you a copy.

I would also be interested to know what sort of information Bedford School archive holds on him.

Let me know when the book is published, please!

Steve.

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machin
Don't suppose you'd be interested in Digital Pics of his NA file would you? I have copied most of his file, barring a few repeated pieces of info.

One of the pages notes that he died at 5pm, and another states his rank as "Lt. and Qmr.".

The files come in around 5mb, if you want me to e-mail you a copy.

I would also be interested to know what sort of information Bedford School archive holds on him.

Let me know when the book is published, please!

Steve.

Yes please! My email is tmachin@bedfordschool.org.uk

When I have done a thorough search of the School Archive I will let you knowwhats there.

Thanks

Tim

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Stebie9173

I'll try and sort you out the file ASAP. My poor dial-up needs a good run up for 5mb worth of e-mail. Might not get chance until the weekend.

Steve.

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minkettle
I am researching a soldier called Denzil Heriz-Smith of the Northamptonshire regiment 6th Battalion. He died on the Somme in Feb 1917.

He left a considerable amount of diary materials that I have access to.

I think he died in the battle of Boom Ravine.

I wonder if any one has come across the name Heriz-Smith in their studies.

Also i would be grateful if anyonre can inform me where I can get access to the war record of the Northamptonshire Regiment 6th Battalion.

Many thanks

Tim Machin

Dear Tim

I was so excited to see your conversations about Denzil Heriz-Smith. My great uncle was Ted Winkworth (2nd Lt HEV Winkworth) who died at the same time as Heriz-Smith, during the operations against S. Miraumont Trench. A long time ago, when I first started researching Ted, I tried to find out about those men who were serving with him at the time of his death, just in case they had written diaries. I found 2nd Lt Heriz-Smith mentioned in the paper under "Died of Wounds", and his family details from the CWGC, but got no further. I would be very grateful if you could check your Denzil Heriz-Smith's diaries to see whether he mentions my uncle at all. He would have been perhaps a year older than Ted.

Steve has found an amazing amount of information. I have seen Ted's grave but now would very much like to go and see the place where he was killed. I am afraid I have no new information to pass on to you. I had the written account of the action kindly sent to me by the Museum of the Northamptonshire Regt, which you now have, and also a page from the regimental diary for October 1916, which was when my great uncle rejoined the regiment after being wounded at Mametz in July 1916. I expect you have come across Peter Jackson's book, "The Glorious Sixth", 1974.

I have been doing some research on the men in my village who served during the 1WW - most of them in the Somerset Light Infantry. If your SLI man mentions men from Stoke sub Hamdon (or Stoke under Ham), I would be very interested, but don't go to too much trouble with it. You must have your hands full with the book you are writing.

I thought Heriz-Smith sounded so typical of that generation, brought up with the idea of service and doing the right thing without boasting about it.

Angie

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armourersergeant

Steve,

Can I say you have accumilated a massive and instructive amount of information. It must have been brilliant for Tim to sign on and see that answer!!!

Well done

Arm

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Stebie9173

Hi, Angie.

I've been researching the 6th Northamptons for a couple of years now. (My great-uncle served as a Private in the battalion, 1915-1917). I have done a little research on Ted Winkworth (but away from my research, I believe that I just have the basics on him - family, commissioned dates, date of death, etc.). I may have a note of which company he was in. I believe he was one of six men joining per the October 1916 War Diary page you have, if memory serves.

I have the following resources on the 6th at the moment:

- Glorious Sixth.

- Four VCs in Forty Months.

- 54th Brigade history

- 18th Division History

- 6th Northamptons War Diary.

- Extracts from 54th Brigade War Diary (battle narratives, etc.)

- Battlefield Europe - Boom Ravine.

- Various other book and newspaper extracts.

Incidentally, Tim's book "From Bedford to the Somme" is due for release in September 2007 according to the Internet. On my to buy list, especially if I get a "research" nod!! (Blooming well hope so....)

If it helps, I have the service file of Captain Norman Terence Barry Ritchie McWha, Denzil Heriz-Smith's O.C. in "A" Company, wounded at Boom Ravine on the 17th February 1917, who had a German grenade explode in his face that morning. Astoundingly he survived, though with a hole in his forehead, and seemed to make a complete recovery, only to succumb to escalating epileptic fits in the early 1920s, collapsing and dying on a train near St. Leonards in 1922. He is not recognised on CWGC as he died after the cut-off date, but certainly another victim of the battle of Boom Ravine.

I have a list of 6th Northamptons officers wounded at Boom Ravine, and there is a list of wounded published in the Times of 21st March 1917, which I believe are the Other Ranks wounded from the battle.

Steve.

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Stebie9173

I lied. I have a copy of Ted Winkworth's officers file.

Second Lieutenant Henry Edward Vernon Winkworth

O.C. "C" Company during battle of Boom Ravine 17th February 1917.

Personal

- Born on 7th December 1895 at Brighton, Sussex.

- Son of:

- Edward Henry Thomas Winkworth, an auctioneer (b. 1857, Windsor, Berks.),

and

- Mrs Sarah Jane M. Winkworth (nee Merryweather, b. c-1868, m. 1890 at St. Giles, London),

of 23 St Michaels Place (as of 1901) and 7 Wilbury Gardens, Hove (as of 1914-1919).

- Brother to Cecilia Clara Winkworth and John Staverton Winkworth.

Military

- A Cadet in the Officer Training Corps and a Second Lieutenant in the Church Lads Brigade prior to enlistment.

- Applied for a commission on 28th October 1914.

- Commissioned as a temporary Second Lieutenant on 5th November 1914.

- Embarked to France on 11th February 1916 and joined 6th (Service) Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment at Fricourt on 13th February 1916.

- Officially transferred to the General List for duty as temporary Second Lieutenant with a Trench Mortar battery, dated 29th April 1916 per London Gazette 7th June 1916.

- Served with 54th Trench Mortar Battery from 1st May 1916.

- Transferred to a Service battalion with seniority dated 5th November 1914 per London Gazette of 7th June 1916. Probably refers to 11-2-16 embarkation to join 6th Northamptons.

- Wounded on 1st July 1916 in the region of the Pommiers Redoubt and admitted to 24th General Hospital, Etaples with bullet wound right through the left thigh on 2nd July 1916.

- Evacuated to England from Calais aboard the "Brighton" on 7th July 1916, arriving at Dover on 8th July 1916 and treated at the Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich.

- Joined 3rd (Reserve) Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment on 7th September 1916.

- Declared fit for General Service at a Medical Board on 9th October 1916.

- Rejoined 6th Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment on 29th October 1916.

- Transferred back to Northamptonshire Regiment from General List as a Second Lieutenant per London Gazette of 22nd March 1917, with seniority dated 5th November 1914. Probably refers to return to 6th Northamptons in October 1916.

- Apparently posted to "A" Company on arrival with battalion (though subject to interpretation).

- O.C. of "C" Company at Boom Ravine on 17th February 1917.

- Died of wounds at 45th Casualty Clearing Station on 18th February 1917 after being wounded by a gunshot wound to the chest at Boom Ravine on 17th February, possibly by machine-gun fire whilst crossing Grandcourt Trench.

- Buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension. Grave V. C. 11. [Per CWGC - Historical Information: The XV Corps Main Dressing Station was formed at Dernancourt in August 1916, when the adjoining EXTENSION was opened. The 45th and 56th (1st/1st South Midland) Casualty Clearing Stations came in September 1916 and remained until March 1917.......]

No picture available. (A picture would be great...)

Steve.

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Stebie9173

Talking of pictures, with this topic surfacing I realised that I had recently found a picture of Private Whyman, one of the stretcher bearers whom carried Denzil Heriz-Smith away from Boom Ravine.

post-6536-1183055077.jpg

3/10297 Private Frederick Whyman, MM & Bar.

MM gazetted 18th July 1917, Bar Gazetted 13th September 1918.

Enlisted at outbreak of war.

Served with 1st Northamptonshire Regiment and was gassed at Loos.

Also wounded at some point prior to mid-1917.

Of Wollaston.

Born in 1890 at Wollaston.

Son of the late John Whyman, a boot rivetter (1901), and Mrs Maud Whyman, of Newton Road, Wollaston.

Brother to Alfred, Archibald, Albert, Maud, Henry, Frank and Frederick, three of whom were serving in France in 1917.

Previously a boot operative employed by Mr Wm. Shelton, shoe manufacturer.

Sorry, Tim. I probably found him a bit late for inclusion in your book.

Steve.

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minkettle
I lied. I have a copy of Ted Winkworth's officers file.

Second Lieutenant Henry Edward Vernon Winkworth

O.C. "C" Company during battle of Boom Ravine 17th February 1917.

Personal

- Born on 7th December 1895 at Brighton, Sussex.

- Son of:

- Edward Henry Thomas Winkworth, an auctioneer (b. 1857, Windsor, Berks.),

and

- Mrs Sarah Jane M. Winkworth (nee Merryweather, b. c-1868, m. 1890 at St. Giles, London),

of 23 St Michaels Place (as of 1901) and 7 Wilbury Gardens, Hove (as of 1914-1919).

- Brother to Cecilia Clara Winkworth and John Staverton Winkworth.

Military

- A Cadet in the Officer Training Corps and a Second Lieutenant in the Church Lads Brigade prior to enlistment.

- Applied for a commission on 28th October 1914.

- Commissioned as a temporary Second Lieutenant on 5th November 1914.

- Embarked to France on 11th February 1916 and joined 6th (Service) Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment at Fricourt on 13th February 1916.

- Officially transferred to the General List for duty as temporary Second Lieutenant with a Trench Mortar battery, dated 29th April 1916 per London Gazette 7th June 1916.

- Served with 54th Trench Mortar Battery from 1st May 1916.

- Transferred to a Service battalion with seniority dated 5th November 1914 per London Gazette of 7th June 1916. Probably refers to 11-2-16 embarkation to join 6th Northamptons.

- Wounded on 1st July 1916 in the region of the Pommiers Redoubt and admitted to 24th General Hospital, Etaples with bullet wound right through the left thigh on 2nd July 1916.

- Evacuated to England from Calais aboard the "Brighton" on 7th July 1916, arriving at Dover on 8th July 1916 and treated at the Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich.

- Joined 3rd (Reserve) Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment on 7th September 1916.

- Declared fit for General Service at a Medical Board on 9th October 1916.

- Rejoined 6th Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment on 29th October 1916.

- Transferred back to Northamptonshire Regiment from General List as a Second Lieutenant per London Gazette of 22nd March 1917, with seniority dated 5th November 1914. Probably refers to return to 6th Northamptons in October 1916.

- Apparently posted to "A" Company on arrival with battalion (though subject to interpretation).

- O.C. of "C" Company at Boom Ravine on 17th February 1917.

- Died of wounds at 45th Casualty Clearing Station on 18th February 1917 after being wounded by a gunshot wound to the chest at Boom Ravine on 17th February, possibly by machine-gun fire whilst crossing Grandcourt Trench.

- Buried at Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension. Grave V. C. 11. [Per CWGC - Historical Information: The XV Corps Main Dressing Station was formed at Dernancourt in August 1916, when the adjoining EXTENSION was opened. The 45th and 56th (1st/1st South Midland) Casualty Clearing Stations came in September 1916 and remained until March 1917.......]

No picture available. (A picture would be great...)

Steve.

Hello Steve

Thank you so much for all that informatiion. I so glad to think that someone else has been thinking about my great uncle and reading his records. I did find Ted's file at Kew a couple of years ago but having it all written out makes it all so much clearer, especially as you obviously understand the military side of it a lot more than I do! I am going to try to attach a couple of photos to this but I haven't done this before as I am new to the Forum so fingers crossed.

The two boys in the photo are Henry Edward Vernon Winkworth (Ted) and his younger brother, John Staverton Winkworth who was my grandfather. My grandmother was engaged to Ted but eventually married his brother, John, who was very badly wounded in September 1916 and never returned to the Front. The other photo is of Ted. Both boys went to Tonbridge School.

You have got me thinking about Ted again. His record says he was with the 54th Trench Mortar Battery from May 1st 1916 and wounded at Mametz on 1st July 1916. I am awfully ignorant about these things - would the 54th Trench Battery refer to the 54th Brigade, and might there be a reference to him then in the 54th Brigade history which you mentioned that you have? I would be very grateful, if this is the case, if you could check this.

I will be looking out for Tim's book.

I shall post this reply and then try the photos.

Thanks again.

Angie

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Stebie9173

Hi, Angie.

The 54th Trench Mortar Brigade was a smallish unit attached to the 54th Infantry Brigade. Most of these units used men and officers from the Infantry Battalions of the Infantry Brigade.

The Trench Mortar Batteries (like the Machine Gun Companies, 1916- mid 1918) were attached to Brigades to give them a bit more versatility in the tactical management of their fire. They would provide cover and support to the attacks made by the Brigades infantry battalions.

The History of the 54th Infantry Brigade does mention quite a few officers and men, usually when they were awarded medals, but does not mention Sec. Lt. Winkworth as far as I can see (It has no index, but I have indexed the Northamptonshire Regiment men myself).

Certainly, I would think that Tim Machin's researrch on Denzil Heriz-Smith's letters may have turned up a few mentions of him. In fact, I too eagerly await his book!

Steve.

P.S. Pictures will need to be below 100kb in size to be posted. It may be necessary to either reduce them in size, or post them onto a Picture Hosting website and provide a link to the pictures there.

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minkettle

post-22577-1183837929.jpg

Hi, Angie.

The 54th Trench Mortar Brigade was a smallish unit attached to the 54th Infantry Brigade. Most of these units used men and officers from the Infantry Battalions of the Infantry Brigade.

The Trench Mortar Batteries (like the Machine Gun Companies, 1916- mid 1918) were attached to Brigades to give them a bit more versatility in the tactical management of their fire. They would provide cover and support to the attacks made by the Brigades infantry battalions.

The History of the 54th Infantry Brigade does mention quite a few officers and men, usually when they were awarded medals, but does not mention Sec. Lt. Winkworth as far as I can see (It has no index, but I have indexed the Northamptonshire Regiment men myself).

Certainly, I would think that Tim Machin's researrch on Denzil Heriz-Smith's letters may have turned up a few mentions of him. In fact, I too eagerly await his book!

Steve.

P.S. Pictures will need to be below 100kb in size to be posted. It may be necessary to either reduce them in size, or post them onto a Picture Hosting website and provide a link to the pictures there.

Hello Steve

I hope I have attached these alright. Thank you for clarifying the Trench Mortar bit. I had had the idea initially that he was taken right away from his regiment but it sounds as if it wasn't quite like that.

Thank you for checking the History of the 54th Infantry Brigade. The officer who wrote to Ted's mother when he died (would that have been Captain McWha?) said "his great modesty and unassumingness rather kept him in the background during training in England; but as soon as there was real hard work and danger to be faced out here, your son's great qualities soon brought him to the fore". So perhaps he was too quiet to get a mention while he was with the Trench Mortar Battery.

Have you been to the battle site? post-22577-1183837929.jpg

Angie

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