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Remembered Today:

6th Battalion Royal West Surrey Regiment May 1917


Guest Pete H
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My Great Uncle Pte Frank Ernest Newton (G/22768) was killed in action on 8th May 1917 near Monchy le Preux. Can anyone help with what the West Surrey Regiment were doing there?

Thanks

Pete

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The history of the 12th Division records no specific attack whilst the Division was holding the trenches north-east of Monchy-le-Preux, but does mention that German artillery was extremely active on th 8th May 1917.

The 12th Division had been involved in the first attacks at Arras on Easter Monday, 9th April 1917, and had been withdrawn from the line returning in time for the renewed offensive on 3rd May 1917, the Third Battle of the Scarpe, going back into the line beyond Monchy-le-Preux which had been taken in the Divisions absence. Earlier attempts had been made to "straighten the line" so the Division had some idea of what faced them on the 3rd.

Both 36th and 37th Brigade took part in the attack on the 3rd making reasonable progress, but in the dark "Devil's Trench" was passed over to a large extent leaving it full of German's who were then able to fire on the British soldiers from behind. Fired on from both directions the assaulting battalions were forced to retreat.

37th Brigade then attempted to take Devil's Trench on the 4th and were beaten back along with 36th Brigade by heavy machine-gun fire. Though the history does not mention a particular trench for the area they withdrew back to it was possibly Halberd Trench near the lane from Monchy-le-Preux to Pelves. The general area is around 20% of the way from Monchy to Pelves. No further offensive operations by the Division are mentioned until 12th May 1917.

The History makes no specific mention of the Royal West Surrey's around those dates, the battalion being in the vanguard of the assault on the 9th April at the start of the Battle of Arras. I would presume that the battalion was in close reserve and suffered it's casualties around that time from artillery fire, including your Great Uncle.

Hope this helps,

Steve.

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Pete

I have the History of the Royal West Surreys and it adds no more to what Steve has already posted. In fact it quotes the 12th Division history in places, word for word.

You probably know that he was formerly in the Middlesex Regiment as 23592 and that he was born lived and enlisted in Wood Green Middlesex

Sorry not to be able to add more detail to the action

Hambo

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Thanks for the information. I've now found out there were only 3 other soldiers killed on that day so the artillery shell theory would seem to be a good one.

Pete

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  • 3 weeks later...
Pete

I have the History of the Royal West Surreys and it adds no more to what Steve has already posted. In fact it quotes the 12th Division history in places, word for word.

You probably know that he was formerly in the Middlesex Regiment as 23592 and that he was born lived and enlisted in Wood Green Middlesex

Sorry not to be able to add more detail to the action

Hambo

Hi

I am sorry to interupt this chain but you seem to be very well informed about the Royal West Surrey Regiment

I am trying to find out more about 3/4 battalion - My grandfather Charles George Wynn was with them but his story does not seem to agree with the war diaries. He went to France in April/May 1917 and was injured in the third battle of Ypres - this is what he told my father - he was admitted to the 3rd Scottish hospital in Glasgow on Aug 16 1917 - he was honourably discharged because of his injuries in December 1918. His health was undermined by his injuries and he died aged only 46.

It seems to me that 3/4 battalions were at Arras during his time at the front but as the battle of Ypres started on 31 July and he ended up in hospital two weeks later this does seem to give credence to his story

you seem to have a lot of information about the movements of the regiment around this time so perhaps you could shed some light on my puzzle.

I am visiting Ypres this weekend and would like to visit the battlefield site where my grandfather could have been injured and also the cemetries where his comrades are buried.

My grandfather joined the regiment in London on 15 May 1916 - trained at Sturry & Tunbridge Wells before going to France

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