Chapter XXII
The Capture of Pozieres
Randwick to Hargicourt, pp. 172-173
Eric Wren

July 25th opened with a tornado of shells from the German “heavies”,  and losses continued at such a rapid rate that Lieut-Col HOWELL-PRICE, after a personal reconnaissance, ordered a forward move close up to the 8th Battalion line, hoping thus to escape the worst of the barrage. It was at this stage that Captain R.O. MIDDLETON [buried in Pozieres British Cemetery Ovillers-La Boisselle, Pozieres, Pozieres Area, France] and Lieut J.S.F. [James Stanley Forbes] BARTLETT [there are no details of BARTLETT’s final resting place in either his Red Cross file or Service Record], both acting as company commanders, were killed. They had gone back for the purpose of guiding their companies forward but were caught in the curtain of gun-fire. HOWELL-PRICE there-upon led the survivors forward himself. By 10 a.m. this manoeuvre was completed.

1916.07.25 - G5831.S65 Sheet 7.17.1
Situation Map – Morning of July 25th 1916
AWM25 G5831.S65 Sheet 7.17.1

Just prior to the advance, Lieut H.S. [Henry Stanley] CHAPMAN [there are no details of CHAPMAN’s final resting place in his Service Record], the battalion signalling officer, was examining a map in company with Major D.T. MOORE [was not killed and would later become Lieut-Colonel] and several signallers, when a high velocity shell hit the hack of the trench. CHAPMAN was killed by the concussion and Signaller W.A. [William Aubrey] OATES was blown to pieces [OATES’ service record states his burial location as being “in vicinity of Pozieres (57c SE X.4)”]. The same shell killed Signallers [2166 Clarence Garfield] Clarrie PAGE, [3192 Frank Hessell] “Snow” PICKERING, and [3048] Rupert CLARKE [CLARK]. Strange to relate, OATES predicted, while at Gallipoli, the actual date of his death.

[PAGE and CLARK are buried in Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont, Peronne, France. PICKERING’s Red Cross file confirms killed alongside CLARK and his Service Record states as being “buried in vicinity of Pozieres (57c S.E. X.4)”].

“I decided to push forward one company”, wrote HOWELL-PRICE in his report on this day. “But when I returned to my trenches I found they were quite untenable. A Company had been practically wiped out, and as the enemy shells were going over the first line at the time I decided to move forward close up to the 8th Battalion line. As soon as this movement commenced the enemy artillery shortened range and we were obliged to pass through a terrific barrage of high explosive. My officers and N.C.O.’s had been greatly reduced, especially the most experienced being killed and wounded, and a great number of men had been buried. May brave actions were performed, especially by the most experienced stretcher-bearers who attended the wounded without hesitation, and for whose work I am unable to speak in high enough terms. I was reduced to less than one officer per company and after advancing I collected my battalion about a ‘strong point’ and commenced to consolidate, which work was done in splendid style.Two companies of the 6th Battalion reported to me and were put on digging in and connecting the brigade line with the ‘strong point’ above, and from there to the cemetery, with the result that when I was relieved practically the whole of the line was completed with a good firing line and communication to the rear”.

[In total 139 soldiers have been identified as having fought in the fighting at Pozieres (20 July-18 August) who all have no known grave. One hundred and four (104) soldiers from the Pozieres fighting are indicated as having died between 22-27 July 1916 and have no known grave. Of these, twelve (12) have their date of death recorded as 25 July 1916.]

Advertisements