The following research was carried out prior to a trip to Ieper (formerly Ypres) in Belgium to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of my great uncle Reggie, my Grandmother's brother. He was killed in The Battle of Passchendaele (also known as the Third Battle of Ypres)
Sergeant 295115 REGINALD JOHN CHAPMAN of 1/4th battalion London Regiment ( Royal Fusiliers) was killed in action on 16 August 1917. He had previously served as private 3662 and as sergeant 631446 with the 20th Londons.
Above: With his wife Irene Berta Dixon on their wedding day, 2nd December 1916. [He has a stick, was he temporarily home from the war injured, on leave?]. (Click image for high-res version)
Here he is a sergeant with the 20th Londons, as shown by the three chevrons on his shoulder and his cap badge:
Above Left: Detail of cap badge
Above Right : The same cap badge from web search. The badge reads "20th The London Regiment Battalion." "INVICTA" (meaning undefeated or unconquered)
Above: Reggie with his chums, Brockley lads ready for war, Reggie is the tall one at the back. Here he is a private with the 20th Londons. (Click image for high-res version)
According to the Army Service Numbers 1881-1918 website, Reggie (3662) joined up between 5th April 1915 and 10th May 1915:
20th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Blackheath and Woolwich)
Here are some sample numbers and joining dates for the 20th Londons.
3290 joined on 5th April 1915
3774 joined on 10th May 1915
Reggie was born on 6 July 1897, so he was still 17 when he joined, two months shy of his 18th birthday.
Above: May 1915 poster by E. J. Kealey, from the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee. Reggie may have seen this poster on his way to volunteer
Volunteer Army, 1914–15
The British had about 5.5 million men of military age, with another 500,000 reaching 18 each year. The initial call for 100,000 volunteers was far exceeded, almost half a million men enlisted in two months (see the graph below). Around 250,000 underage boys also volunteered; either by lying about their age or giving false names which recruiters often turned a blind eye to. Naturally thereafter there were fewer, though volunteering was still ardently promoted by the most effective recruiting poster ever drawn (pictured below), newspaper reports of German barbarities that were supported later by eminent historians,pressure from employers who promised to keep jobs open, some Poor Law Guardians who refused to support fit military-aged men, and orations by politicians and public figures.
One early peculiarity was the formation of 'pals battalions': groups of men from the same factory, football team, bank or similar, joining and fighting together. The idea was first suggested at a public meeting by Lord Derby. Within three days, he had enough volunteers for three battalions. Lord Kitchener gave official approval for the measure almost instantly and the response was impressive. The drawback of 'pals' battalions was that a whole town could lose its military-aged menfolk in a single day of battle.
The women's suffrage movement was sharply divided, the slight majority becoming very enthusiastic patriots and asking their members to give white feathers (the sign of the coward) in the streets to men who appeared to be of military age to shame them into service. After assaults became prevalent the Silver War Badge was issued to men who were not eligible or had been medically discharged.
It is likely then that Reggie lied about his age when he signed up. If he gave his date of birth as 6 July 1895 (which would correspond with his age on his marriage certificate, making him two years older than he actually was), then in May 1915 he would have given his age as 19 to the recruitment officer. (Soldiers had to be 19 to be sent 'overseas')
His name is among those on the war memorial outside Saint Mary Magdeleine's RC Church, Brockley, London. (on corner of Comerford and Howson Roads). Reggie was also baptised and married in this church.
Location: St Mary Magdalen Church, Howson Road, Brockley SE4 2BA
Description: Cross of wood on stone base with image of Christ Crucified in stone and a metal plaque giving names of those who died in WW1 beneath
Papal Seal, O Crux Ave Spes Unica. (a Latin holy expression or motto meaning "Hail to the Cross, our only hope.")
“God Forbid That I Should Glory Save In The Cross Of Our Lord Jesus Christ” Gal. VI 14. (This quote from the Bible is about fighting against tyranny, glorying first of all in the Cross Of Christ. I.e. They were not there to settle any private grudge or national quarrel; they were there to free enslaved people, and the military victories were the triumph of the Cross of Jesus Christ over evil.)
To The Memory Of Men Of This Mission Who In The Great War 1914 - Gave Their Lives For Freedom & Justice. This cross is dedicated ... E.P. Finnessey, B. Phillips, B. O’Connor, F.B. Bartlett, C.P. Bartlett, E. Milton, Cpt F.G. Fraser, J. Horrigan, J.F. Kelleher, R.J. Chapman, M. Gispert, J. Hickey, Lieut F. Corrigan. Requiescant In Pace.
They appear in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database of war dead, as follows: (http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead.aspx?cpage=1)
|FINNESSEY||E P||30||07/02/1916||Bombardier||Royal Horse Artillery||"D" Bty. 14th Bde.||France||'32389'||QUARRY CEMETERY, MONTAUBAN||VI. A. 5.||Son of Edward Peter and Elizabeth Finnessey; husband of Mabel May Pinnessey, of 11, Lindore Rd., Battersea Rise, London.|
|PHILLIPS||B||16/09/1916||Private||London Regiment||1st/23rd Bn.||France||'5032'||THIEPVAL MEMORIAL||Pier and Face 9 D 9 C 13 C and 12 C.|
|O'CONNOR||BERNARD JOSEPH||B J||33||08/05/1917||Private||Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)||2nd/4th Bn.||Israel and Palestine (including Gaza)||'203367'||GAZA WAR CEMETERY||XXX. D. 10.||Son of Thomas Maurice O'Connor; husband of Edith Alice O'Connor, of 48, Meadow Rd., Bromley, Kent. Born at Brockley, London.|
|BARTLETT||FRANK BASIL||F B||03/05/1917||Private||London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)||1st/2nd Bn.||France||'230229'||ARRAS MEMORIAL||Bay 9.|
|BARTLETT||GEOFFREY||G||33||11/06/1917||Serjeant||Royal Fusiliers||"A" Coy. 26th Bn.||Belgium||'B/19387'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 6 and 8.||Bronze Medal for Military Valour (Italy). Son of the late Harry George Bartlett, of Streatham, London.|
|MILTON||E||24/04/1917||Private||Royal Fusiliers||32nd Bn.||Belgium||'11074'||DICKEBUSCH NEW MILITARY CEMETERY||BB. 15.|
|FRASER||FREDERICK GORDON||F G||29||14/06/1917||Captain||Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)||11th Bn.||Belgium||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 45 and 47.||Son of Harry Gordon Fraser and Margaret Fraser. Enlisted in London Scottish.|
|HORRIGAN||J||09/10/1916||Private||Royal Fusiliers||8th Bn.||France||'7897'||HEILLY STATION CEMETERY, MERICOURT-L'ABBE||III. B. 43.|
|CHAPMAN||REGINALD J.||R J||16/08/1917||Serjeant||London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'295115'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|GISPERT||MODESTO||M||24||11/11/1917||Able Seaman||Royal Navy||H.M.S. "M15."||United Kingdom||'J/35356'||PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL||25||Son of Arthur and Remedio Gispert, of 80, Breakspears Rd., Brockley, London.|
|HICKEY||JOHN DENNIS||J D||31||29/08/1918||Saddler||Royal Horse Artillery||"I" Bty.||France||'43953'||BROUILLY CHURCHYARD||Near West end of Church.||Son of Dennis and Emily L. Hickey, of 54, Whitbread Rd., Brockley, London.|
|CORRIGAN||FRANCIS STANISLAUS||F S||27||31/08/1918||Lieutenant||The King's (Liverpool Regiment)||13th Bn.||France||ECOUST-ST. MEIN BRITISH CEMETERY||D. 21.||Son of Francis and Margaret Corrigan.|
Reggie was born on 6 July 1897 so at his death on 16 August 1917 he was just 1 month over 20. Eight months earlier, on 2nd December 1916 Reggie married Irene Berta Dixon.
He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres, panel 52. The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial bears the names of more than 54,395 Commonwealth soldiers who died in the Salient but whose bodies have never been identified or found. On completion of the memorial, it was discovered to be too small to contain all the names as originally planned. An arbitrary cut-off point of 16 August 1917 was chosen and the names of 34,984 UK missing after this date were inscribed on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing instead.
'UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919' register:
Name: Reginald John Chapman
Death Date: 16 Aug 1917
Death Place: France and Flanders
Enlistment Place: Blackheath
Regiment: London Regiment
Battalion: 4th (City of London) Battalion (Royal Fusiliers)
Regimental Number: 295115
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre
Comments: Formerly 3662, 20Th London Regt.
(Source Information: Military-Genealogy.com, comp. UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.: Original data: British and Irish Military Databases. The Naval and Military Press Ltd. : In 1921 His Majesty's Stationery Office published, on behalf of and by authority of the War Office, two lists of those who died during the Great War. One volume, packed with minute typescript, gave the basic details of nearly 42,000 officer casualties. It required an additional eighty volumes to list all the 'other ranks' who gave their lives. Each of the original volumes represented one or more regiments, corps or other units of the British Army. Most were subdivided into battalions or similar groupings. There were often thirty or more of these per volume, each in alphabetical order.: This database contains information extracted from these volumes and includes over 703,000 individuals.)
Sergeant REGINALD JOHN CHAPMAN was awarded, posthumously, the Victory Medal and the British Medal. It is assumed they were delivered to his wife, who later remarried, and their whereabouts are not know.
Below is a copy of his Medal Index Card and photos of the Victory Medal and the British Medal
(Source Citation: Description: Surname Sub-Range : Chapman, Isaac - Chapman, Wilfred: Source Information: Ancestry.com. British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.: Original data: Army Medal Office. WWI Medal Index Cards. In the care of The Western Front Association website. : Source Description : This database contains the Medal Rolls Index, or Medal Index Cards. The collection currently contains approximately 4.8 million people, which is nearly all of the total collection. The records can be searched by first and last name and Corps, Unit or Regiment. These cards were created by the Army Medal Office (AMO) of the United Kingdom in Droitwich near the close of World War I (WWI).)
Above: colour version of his Medal Index Card
The index card refers to this entry in the Medal Rolls, which states that he joined the 4th London Regiment on 27/6/17, less than two months before he died: (Theatres of War: 1(a) :France and Flanders (also known as The Western Front) (http://www.greatwar.co.uk/places/ww1-theatres-of-war.htm)
(Source Citation: The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls; Class: WO 329; Piece Number: 1911: Description
Piece Description : Piece 1911: 4th London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers): Source Information: Ancestry.com. UK, WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.: Original data: War Office and Air Ministry: Service Medal and Award Rolls, First World War. WO329. The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey, England. : Source Description: Find your heroes and veterans from the Great War in this collection of medal and award rolls.)
Battle of Loos 25 September–1 October
Battle of the Hohenzollern Redoubt 13–19 October. This was a continuation of Loos. 47th Division returned to the same area to relieve other troops, with Battalion HQ and A Company of the 1/20th back in the Chalk Pit, which was heavily bombarded.
Vimy Ridge – the units of 47th Division were involved in frequent crater-fighting in this sector from April to July 1916, including the major German attack on 21 May.
Battle of the Somme In August the division marched south to take part in this offensive. Its first operation was the capture of High Wood on the opening day of the Battle of Flers-Courcelette (15 September). 141 Brigade was given the task of seizing the wood itself, the 1/20th being in the second wave, joining a confused and desperate fight. Casualties were very heavy but, after a renewed bombardment, German troops began to surrender. By the afternoon, 141 Bde held the wood, but was so disorganised by casualties that it had been formed into a composite battalion. Work on establishing a new line beyond the wood was started by a mixed party under Capt H.S. Read of the 1/20th Bn.
Battle of the Transloy Ridges 1–9 October
Capture of Eaucourt l'Abbaye 1–3 October
Attacks on the Butte de Warlencourt 7–8 October
47th Division moved into the Hill 60 sector of the Ypres Salient in October 1916 and took part in regular raids and crater fighting for a number of months. It then participated in the following operations:
Battle of Messines – in the weeks leading up to the battle, 141 Bde held the divisional front and carried out preparations for the attacks, including digging new trenches and establishing ration and ammunition dumps. For the attack on 7 June it was in support, moving up to relieve 142 Bde two days later.
Aboce: Badge, headdress, British, 4th (City of London) Battalion (Royal Fusiliers) © IWM (INS 7239)
According the the War Diary, the battalion was holding the front line at Wancourt (near Arras)
31 July - Third Battle of Ypres https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Passchendaele
Battle of Langemarck (16–18 August 1917)
(Meanwhile, the 20th London Regiment was not directly involved in the 3rd Battle of Ypres offensive, being in reserve during the Battle of Pilckem Ridge (31 July–2 August) and spending two periods holding the line (18 August–2 September and 8–17 September), described as 'among the most unpleasant in its experience'.)
Battalion War Diaries: Download from here: War Diaries
Map of the front near Ypres, June to October 1917:
Above: Detail showing place of Reggie's final battle marked with red circle
Below: Wider view showing advancing front line between June and October 1917, capturing the higher ground, shaded brown.
By n.d. - The National Archives, Kew (FO 925/24005) http://blog.awm.gov.au/awm/wp-content/uploads/maps/Ypres_Offensive.pdf, Public Domain, Link
Download from here: War Diary
(War Diaries are downloadable from The National Archives: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7354938#imageViewerLink)
The National Archive research guide: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/first-world-war/
The orders below refer to the Hooge map, downloadable from here: Hooge Map (Large File 43MB), detail below:
I have annotated the map:
Above: Reggie's battalion, the 4th Londons, were to attack with the 7th Bedfords on their right and the 169th Brigade on their left. The intention was to advance in a practically due east direction, while at stated points in the line of advance platoons would halt one by one, each establishing itself in a strong point, until finally, when the last platoon reached its halting point, the whole Battalion would be deployed in a line of outposts, all of which would turn to their right and face south. The attack was to be delivered along the whole battle front at 5.45 a.m. (Zero Hour) under cover of a creeping barrage, supported by machine-gun barrage and heavy gun fire on the enemy back areas. At zero hour the British barrage came down, well distributed and of terrific intensity. It was hoped that the danger points in Inverness Copse would be put out of action by our artillery, so that the task of the 7th Bedfords would be an easy one, but calculations in this respect were soon found to have been mistaken.
Things did not go to plan. The leading companies of the l/4th Londons got away from the mark at zero, in good order and well up to the barrage, but almost immediately came under a hail of lead from Inverness Copse. The attack of the 7th Bedfords, of such vital importance to the success of the whole operation, had failed. The artillery fire had not produced the expected effect on the enormously strong enemy posts over which the barrage had passed harmlessly, and the 7th Bedfords were repulsed with loss, thereby leaving the l/4th Londons completely exposed to the full force of the enemy's nest of machine-guns on their right flank.
The 7th Bedford's War Diary reports that the barrage fell short onto a company about to move forward to the attack, knocking 50% of them out (a company numbered 227 heads when at full establishment, however It was not unknown at times for battalions with a nominal strength of over a 1000 men to go into fighting with perhaps only 200. http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/definitions-of-units/what-was-a-battalion-of-infantry/)
I have plotted the co-ordinates mentioned in the report below onto a Google Earth map, download from here [link] (You'll need to have Google Earth installed on your computer or phone.
This is the Google Maps version, lacking image overlays that allowed me to plot the points. Click on the icons for more info. (How To Read A Trench Map: http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/battlefields/how-to-read-a-british-trench-map/)
Above: Aerial photograph showing road leading to Menin and Ypres with 'Inverness Copse' clearly marked. Sheet 28, J14. Date 19 August 1917. http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205307859
Above: September 16, 1917. The Ypres to Menin road can clearly be seen cutting a diagonal across the lower-left corner of the photo. Inverness Copse in the lower-right. Jap Avenue runs accross the centre.
Click image above to open very highly detailed aerial photo on McMaster University website. Then click on the icon indicated above for full screen mode. Mouse roll to Zoom
Below, the casualties. Sgt Reginald Chapman will be one of the 39 Other Ranks (O.R.) killed on 16 August. One of his comrades would later visit his parents and inform them he was shot in the head.
The war history of the 4th Battalion, the London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers), 1914-1919, Published 1922
by Grimwade, F. Clive
The book retells the account from the War Diary, with some extra detail.
Whole book available as PDF at https://archive.org/details/warhistoryof4thb00grim
Chapter of interest PDF: Extract
The l/4th Londons were detailed for this attack on the morning of the 14th August, and it is important in view of what subsequently occurred to bear this date in mind. It must also be remembered that at this time the Battalion was some seven miles from the field of battle and that no officer, N.C.O. or man belonging to it had ever set eyes on the ground over which the battle was to be fought. During the morning Lieut.-Col. Campbell, the Adjutant and the four company officers went forward to reconnoitre the forward area, visiting in turn 169th Brigade Headquarters at Dormy House, and Headquarters of the Battalion in line of the 53rd Brigade at Stirling Castle.
It had been intended also to reconnoitre the ground over which the advance was to be made, but such was the intensity of the enemy's artillery and machine-gun fire that this was impossible, and the company commanders were compelled to return to their companies in ignorance of what lay before them. Later in the day Lieut.-Col. Campbell was ordered to report to 53rd Brigade Headquarters, but was unluckily hit on his way back, near Zillebeeke Lake. Although badly hit he made his way back to the Battalion, but being unable to carry on was succeeded in the command by Major A. F. Marchment, M.C. (1/lst Londons).
At seven that night the Battalion moved forward from Dickebusch to Chateau Segard, the move being completed by 11 p.m. Shortly after dawn on the 15th the forward move was continued to Railway Dugouts, in the cutting between Shrapnel Corner and Zillebeeke Lake, and here the Battalion remained during the day. The 15th August was occupied in issuing battle equipment and rations to the companies, while Lieut.-Col. Marchment took the opportunity of conducting a reconnaissance of the forward area and communications, and of issuing his operation orders. These were explained to company commanders as adequately as time permitted, but it must be borne in mind that when the Battalion moved forward to the assault the following morning no company or platoon officer had been able to see the ground over which he was to lead his men.
At 6.30 p.m. the l/4th Londons left Railway Dugouts in battle order for the assembly area at Clapham Junction with guides supplied from the 53rd Brigade. A great deal of heavy shelling, in which four men of B Company were hit, was experienced during the advance, and in breasting a ridge near Sanctuary Wood the Battalion had to pass through a barrage put down by the Germans. Aided by the excellent discipline of the troops, however, company commanders were able to split up their companies within a few seconds, and no loss was sustained. By ten o'clock the Battalion was concentrated with A, B and C Companies in the tunnel under the Menin Road, and D Company in the trench south of the road. Battlion Headquarters and part of C Company were in the trench on the north side of the tunnel.
There was no defined line of trenches in this area, the front being held by isolated shell hole posts, and the assembly was to be made on tape lines laid down under staff arrangements. The lack of shelter thus made it necessary to keep the Battalion under such cover as was obtainable till the last possible moment. During the evening an officer of each company reconnoitred the route from the concentration area to the tape lines, assistance being rendered by the 6th Royal Berkshires, and No Man's Land in front of the line of assembly was patrolled until shortly before zero hour.
The intention was to advance in a practically due east direction, while at stated points in the line of advance platoons would halt one by one, each establishing itself in a strong point, until finally, when the last platoon reached its halting point, the whole Battalion would be deployed in a line of outposts, all of which would turn to their right and face south.
This advance, being made on a front of two companies, would result in a double line of posts of which the left flank would rest on Black Watch Corner in touch with the 169th Brigade, while the right flank would join hands with the 7th Bedfords in the corner of Inverness Copse.
At 3.15 a.m. on the 16th August companies began to form up on the tape lines, the assembly being completed by 4.20 a.m., when the troops were lying down in the open under a continuous and fairly heavy shell fire and a galling machine-gun fire from the direction of Inverness Copse. About 22 casualties occurred under this fire before zero hour at 5.45 a.m. The order of battle was as follows : A. Company (Spiers) on the right and B Company (Stanbridge) on the left in front ; with D Company (H. N.Williams) on the right and C Company (Rees) on the left in support.
The attack was to be delivered along the whole battle front at 5.45 a.m. under cover of a creeping barrage, supported by machine-gun barrage and heavy gun fire on the enemy back areas. At zero hour the British barrage came down, well distributed and of terrific intensity. It was hoped that the danger points in Inverness Copse would be put out of action by our artillery, so that the task of the 7th Bedfords would be an easy one, but calculations in this respect were soon found to have been mistaken.
The leading companies of the l/4th Londons got away from the mark at zero, in good order and well up to the barrage, but almost immediately came under a hail of lead from Inverness Copse. The attack of the 7th Bedfords, of such vital importance to the success of the whole operation, had failed. The artillery fire had not produced the expected effect on the enormously strong enemy posts over which the barrage had passed harmlessly, and the 7th Bedfords were repulsed with loss, thereby leaving the l/4th Londons completely exposed to the full force of the enemy's nest of machine-guns on their right flank.
- Extract from 7th Battalion, the Bedfordshire Regiment. War Diary, 16-8-17: B Company having formed up on the tapes put out by 2nd Lt.Craig during the night attacked the enemy strong point at J14 c.4.4. (APP I) This attack was carried out in conjunction with a large offensive by the Division on our left; a heavy shrapnel barrage opened at ZERO hour (4.45 AM) and 4.5 howitzers shot on strong points. Owing to some mistake a battery of 4.5 howitzers detailed to shoot on the enemy's strong point at J 14 c.4.4 fired short and on to our B Company about to move forward to the attack, knocking 50% of their effectives out. Cap Ferguson at once supported with a platoon of D Company but owing to the heavy enemy M/G fire little could be done and the attempt to capture the strong point was abandoned. 7 AM The day was chiefly spent in artillery duals no further infantry activity taking place on our sector. (http://bedfordregiment.org.uk/7thbn/7thbtn1917diary.html)
Within a few minutes 5 officers and 40 N.C.O.'s and men of A and B Companies were casualties, but the survivors pushed forward steadily, though a certain amount of delay caused by the gaps so suddenly torn in their ranks was inevitable. The gallantry displayed by all ranks under this devastating machine-gun fire, to which was added enemy shell fire of great intensity, was unsurpassed, but under such a storm of bullets at close range nothing could live, and the Battalion was brought to a standstill about 200 yards from startingpoint, in an old German trench which skirted a ruined farmhouse about midway between Inverness Copse and Glencorse Wood.
A party of some 60 men of all companies managed to gain shelter in Jap Avenue. Here they were organised by 2/Lieut. H. E. Jackman, under whom a strong post was consolidated and an attempt made to push forward along the trench. This proved unsuccessful owing to the continued intensity of the enemy machine-gun fire and the accuracy of his sniping. Further attempts by other companies to advance were also fruitless, and the Battalion was forced to content itself with hanging on to these small gains, from which at intervals it was able to engage with Lewis gun and rifle fire small bodies of the enemy in the open near the east end of Glencorse Wood.
An attempt was made to re-establish the situation by an attack, for which the 53rd Brigade was called upon, through Inverness Copse from south to north, but so terribly reduced in numbers were its battalions that Brigade reserve was limited to two weak platoons and further action was found to be for the moment impossible.
The Great War: The British Campaign in France and Flanders, Vol. IV
Arthur Conan Doyle
first published by Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1919
CHAPTER VII. THE THIRD BATTLE OF YPRES August 1 to September 6
...The advance of the Fifty-sixth Division upon the right could not be said to be more successful. The 167th Brigade were on the left, the 169th in the centre with the desperate task of carrying Nonneboschen and Glencorse, while the hard-worked 53rd Brigade of the Eighteenth Division was detailed to form a defensive flank upon the south. It was really the failure of this attack which contributed greatly to the failure of the whole, for there was a strong point at the north-west corner of Inverness Copse with strong machine-gun emplacements which could sweep the area to the north over a wide arc. Thus all the troops north of this point were faced from the start by a devastating fire. The 167th Brigade got well forward to Nonneboschen, but was stopped by bogs and so fell behind the barrage. On the left they reached Albert Redoubt, but were driven in by a strong counter-attack. The 169th reached the east end of Glencorse Wood where they killed many Germans and captured sixty gunners, but the counter-attacks gradually drove the line back to whence it started. A German officer captured a few days later has described how he saw the London men, mostly without officers, walking slowly back in front of his advance. It was a day of hard slogging upon this sector with very little to show for it. So serious were the losses of the Fifty-sixth Division that the Fourteenth Division took its place next day, while the other London Territorial unit, the Forty-seventh Division (Gorringe) took over the line of the hard-worked Eighth.
Thus we have passed down the whole line upon August 16, and have noted the victory of the north, the stalemate of the centre, and the failure on the south. There can be no doubt that the losses of the British were very much in excess of those of the Germans, for the line of the latter could be held cheaply owing to the Mebus system which presented a new and formidable problem for the British generals. On the other hand the actual trophies of victory lay with the attack, since in the north they had possessed themselves of the German third line, and had captured 30 guns with more than 2000 prisoners.
At 4:45 a.m., the British creeping barrage began and the infantry advanced. German flares were seen rising but the German artillery response was slow and missed the attackers. In the 18th Division area, German machine-gun fire from pillboxes caused many losses to the 53rd Brigade (inc. Reggie's battalion) , which was stopped in front of the north-west corner of Inverness Copse. Part of the brigade managed to work forward further north and formed a defensive flank along the southern edge of Glencorse Wood. To the north, the 169th Brigade of the 56th Division advanced quickly at the start but veered to the right around boggy ground, then entered Glencorse Wood. The German main line of resistance was in a sunken road inside the wood, where after a hard-fought and mutually costly engagement, the German defenders were overrun and the rest of the wood occupied. The leading waves then advanced to Polygon Wood.
The 167th Brigade also had a fast start but when it reached the north end of Nonne Bosschen, found mud 4 ft (1.2 m) deep, the brigade veering round it to the left but the gap which this caused between the 167th and 169th brigades was not closed. Another problem emerged, because the quick start had been partly due to the rear waves pushing up to avoid German shelling on the left of the brigade. The follow-up infantry mingled with the foremost troops and failed to mop up the captured ground or German troops who had been overrun, who began sniping from behind at both brigades. Part of a company reached the area north of Polygon Wood, at about the same time as small numbers of troops from the 8th Division.The ground conditions in the 56th Division area, were so bad that none of the tanks in support got into action.
The troops of 169th Brigade of the 56th Division, which tried to follow the leading waves from Glencorse Wood, were stopped at the edge of Polygon Wood and then pushed back by a counter-attack by the German 34th Division around 7:00 a.m., the troops ahead of them being overwhelmed. The brigade was driven back later in the afternoon to its start line, by German attacks from the south and east by troops from a regiment of the 54th Division sent back into the line. The 167th Brigade pulled back its right flank as the 169th Brigade was seen withdrawing through Glencorse Wood and at 3:00 p.m. the Germans attacked the front of 167th Brigade and the 25th Brigade of the 8th Division to the north. The area was under British artillery observation and the German attack was stopped by massed artillery fire. At 5.00 p.m. the brigade withdrew to a better position 380 yd (350 m) in front of its start line, to gain touch with 25th Brigade. German artillery fired continuously on a line from Stirling Castle to Westhoek and increased the rate of bombardment from noon, which isolated the attacking British battalions from reinforcements and supplies and prepared the counter-attack made in the afternoon.
Dudley Ward, C. H. (2001) . The Fifty Sixth Division 1914–1918 (1st London Territorial Division) (Naval and Military Press ed.). London: Murray. ISBN 978-1-84342-111-5.
A personal account of the battle, from an officer of the 2nd Berkshires (who were fighting a mile North of the 4th Londons) is documented here: http://www.purley.eu/RBR3272.pdf See page 7.
Reggie has no known grave. It is likely his body was obliterated by exploding ordnance, lost in the mud. But the number of deaths on the 16th August from his battalion would suggest he would perhaps have been buried in a temporary cemetery. The nearby cemeteries' descriptions (on CWGC) describe bodies having been moved to them from the surrounding area.
Who else died with Reggies, on 16th August, and where were they buried? Maybe he is an 'unknown soldier' buried in a nearby cemetery.
from CWGC database:
The named officers:
|DAVIS||ARTHUR GEORGE||A G||23||16/08/1917||Second Lieutenant||London Regiment (Finsbury Rifles)||"D" Coy.||Belgium||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 54.||Son of Mr. and Mrs. F. Davis, of Holway Hill, Taunton, Somerset. B. Sc.|
|ELLIOTT||JOHN BENJAMIN GEORGE||J B G||16/08/1917||Second Lieutenant||London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)||4th Bn.||Belgium||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|SPEYER||CECIL ARTHUR||C A||22||16/08/1917||Second Lieutenant||London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)||"C" Coy. 4th Bn.||Belgium||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of Arthur A. and Julia M. Speyer, of The Red Cottage, Magpie Hall Lane, Bickley, Kent. Went to France with the 1st Bn. Hon. Artillery Company, Sept., 1914.|
All memorialised on the Minin Gate, no know graves.
None of the 39 other ranks from the battalion have known graves either:
|ABRAHAMS||SOLOMON||S||20||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'281753'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of Phillip and Phoebe Abrahams, of 12, Exchange Buildings, Cutler St., Houndsditch, London.|
|ANELLI||FREDERICK WILLIAM||F W||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'282898'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|BAKER||GEORGE||G||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'282205'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|BAYLEY||WILLIAM HENRY||W H||20||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'295190'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of Mr. J. J. and Mrs. L. Bayley, of 130, Fleet Rd., Hampstead, London.|
|BEAL||JOHN THOMAS||J T||40||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'295222'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Beal, of 3, Invicta Rd., Sheerness, Kent; husband of Flora Beal, of 20, Brigstock Rd., Belvedere, Kent.|
|BLENKO||EDWARD HENRY||E H||20||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'281935'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Blenko, of 13, Morpeth Grove, Morpeth Rd., South Hackney, London.|
|BRIMMER||ALFRED||A||21||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'283810'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of Francis Henry and Louie Margaret Brimmer, of 2, M Block, Peabody Buildings, Stamford St., Blackfriars Rd., London.|
|BROOKS||LEONARD ARTHUR||L A||25||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'282045'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Brooks; husband of Sarah E. Brooks, of 9, Glyn Rd., Homerton, London.|
|BROWN||TYSON ARTHUR||T A||40||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'282986'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of Mrs. Catherine Brown, of 22, Drysdale St., Kingsland Rd., London.|
|CHAPMAN||REGINALD J.||R J||16/08/1917||Serjeant||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'295115'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|CONWAY||ALFRED EDWARD||A E||23||16/08/1917||Lance Serjeant||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'280746'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of Henry Conway, of 115, West Green Rd., South Tottenham, London.|
|CUMPPER||CHARLES WILLIAM||C W||20||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'281962'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of Charles J. and Lizzie Cumpper, of 24, Leopold St., Vauxhall, London.|
|EDWARDS||FREDERICK WILLIAM||F W||20||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'280229'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of Joseph Henry and Frances Louisa Edwards, of 57, Graham St., City Rd., London.|
|EVANS||WALTER||W||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'280548'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|FABLING||WILLIAM||W||30||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'283210'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of Alfred Fabling, of 7, Radnor Terrace, King's Highway, Plumstead, London, and the late Caroline Fabling; husband of Jane Fabling, of 22, Wickham Lane, Plumstead, London.|
|FRY||LEONARD THOMAS||L T||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'283149'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|GOUGH||CHARLES JAMES||C J||35||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'283247'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of George and Mary Ann Gough, of 66, Elesmere Rd., Roman Rd., Bow, London; husband of Eleanor Grace Annie Gough, of 13, Cantrell Rd., Bow Common Lane, Bow, London.|
|GROWER||ABRAHAM||A||19||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'295215'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of Levy and Bessie Grower, of 10, Nottingham Place, Commercial Rd., Stepney, London.|
|HAMMOND||JOHN||J||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'295228'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|HARLEY||ALEXANDER||A||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'283203'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|HOPCROFT||JOHN||J||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'283922'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|JACKSON||SIDNEY ALBERT ED||S A E||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'295106'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|JONES||ALBERT||A||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'280686'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|KING||WILLIAM ALBERT||W A||20||16/08/1917||Serjeant||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'280308'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of William J. and Susan King, of 39, Appleby St., Haggerston, London.|
|LEE||ERIC CHARLES||E C||20||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'283766'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of Eli and Selina Lee, of 75, Grand Parade, Harringay, London.|
|MACDONALD||WILLIAM EDWARD||W E||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'281888'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 54.|
|MATCHAM||EDWIN||E||16/08/1917||Corporal||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'283581'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|MOSS||JAMES ROBERT||J R||26||16/08/1917||Serjeant||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'281825'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of George and Hannah Moss, of 45, Vivian Rd., Roman Rd., Bow, London.|
|McGUINNESS||HUGH DUNN||H D||30||16/08/1917||Lance Corporal||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'281421'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of Dora McGuinness, of 73, Forsyth Rd., Jesmond, Newcastle-on-Tyne, and the late James McGuinness.|
|NORTON||HAROLD||H||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'282904'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|NYE||JAMES HERBERT||J H||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'295104'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|OGLES||CHARLES||C||20||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'283065'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of Mr. and Mrs. Ogles, of 16, Clever Rd., Custom House, London.|
|OGLES||LOCHLAN HENRY||L H||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'295205'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of George Edward Ogles, of 27, Percy Rd., Canning Town, London.|
|PAYN||ALBERT ARTHUR||A A||20||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'283918'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of Sarah Esther Payn, of 85, Glasgow Rd., Plaistow, London.|
|POWELL||WILLIAM THOMAS||W T||20||16/08/1917||Lance Corporal||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'281958'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of Samuel and Amelia Powell, of 234, Howard Rd., Barking, Essex.|
|ROSS||HERBERT||H||16/08/1917||Lance Corporal||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'280497'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|SEYMOUR||WILLIAM||W||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'283930'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|SHAW||WILLIAM||W||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'283739'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|SIMPSON||CHARLES||C||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'281298'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|THOMAS||WILLIAM JOHN||W J||16/08/1917||Private||1st/4th||Belgium||'282768'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.|
|TOOKER||JOHN PATRICK MARTIN||J P M||20||16/08/1917||Lance Corporal||1st/4th Bn.||Belgium||'282064'||YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL||Panel 52.||Son of Sarah Mary Tooker, of 44, Vicarage Rd., West Hill, Hastings, and the late James Tooker.|
None of the soldiers who died with Reggie have known graves. They likely remain where they fell, in this field in Flanders:
4119 soldiers/sailors died in the war that day
261 from the London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)
Above: Reggie at army camp (Click image for high-res version)
Above: The evidence suggests Reggie died somewhere in the area shaded in the centre of the above map, between Clapham Junction, Glencorse Wood to the North, and Inverness Copse to the South.
Above Left: The place Reggie was killed is evidently near Clapham Junction, in the bottom left corner of this 2017 Google Earth oblique view.
Above Right : This aerial photograph taken 19 August 1917 shows the same view. The trench on the left is Jap Avenue, from where Reggie's battalion was attempting to take Inverness Copse when he was killed.
Above: Click image above to open very highly detailed aerial photo on McMaster University website. Then click on the icon indicated above for full screen mode. Mouse roll to Zoom
Above Left: Trench Map 30/6/1917. Jap Avenue trench runs accross the middle
Above Right: The same area today. These images can be viewed here National Library of Scotland (move the puck left and right to swipe between the images): http://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/side-by-side/swipe/#zoom=16&lat=50.8444&lon=2.9639&layers=101464642&right=BingHyb or blended here (Change transparency of overlay, bottom left): http://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=16&lat=50.8443&lon=2.9648&layers=101464645&b=1
Photos from the battlefield in 2017. See the map below showing from where they were taken.
Above: Reggie was killed near this spot. Inverness Copse on the right in the distance (from where enemy strong point was laying down machine gun fire) (Photo 1)
We retraced Reggie's final steps, carrying with us the wreath that we would lay at Menin Gate later that day.
Above: Glencorse Wood on the left. (Photo 2)
Above: Looking West, back towards route of Jap Avenue trench (Photo 3)
Above: Looking SE, back towards route of Jap Avenue trench, Inverness Copse to the left (Photo 4)
Above: Walking SE towards Menin Road in the area of Fitzclarence Farm (Photo 5)
Above: Menin Road runs through Inverness Copse. (Photo 6)
Above: View from corner of Inverness Copse (enemy strong point) towards Reggie's place of death (near hedge?) (Photo 7)
Above: View from Clapham Junction towards Inverness Copse (Photo 8)
Above: This map shows the locations, and direction, from where the above photos were taken (Move the mouse pointer over the arrows to see the photo)
Below, photos from the same area in 1917.
Above: 26 September 1917, View of the countryside near Glencorse Wood and Inverness Copse at the time that a German counter attack was in progress (I have merged a three part panorama.) (https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C954258)
Above: 20 September 1917, A desolate scene on Westhoek Ridge, in the Ypres sector, looking towards Glencorse Wood and Nonne Bosschen. The view includes Polygon Wood on the extreme left and Clapham Junction on the extreme right
Above: 20 September 1917, Soldiers running to take shelter from a heavy shellburst at Glencorse Wood
Above: 19 September 1917, A view of no man's land at Westhoek Ridge, showing shells bursting over the German trenches. The photograph is taken looking towards Glencorse Wood and Inverness Copse. (Wreck of an R.E.8 aircraft serial A... (obscured) in the foreground).
Above: 20 September 1917, A Mark IV female tank at Inverness Copse during the fighting by troops of the 1st and 2nd Australian Divisions. Note the stretcher party, comprised of German prisoners, seen on the right conveying wounded troops.
Above: British MkIV "Bear" tank, abandoned after battle near Inverness Copse, on August 22 , 1917.
Above: Men wounded in the Ypres battle of September 20th, 1917. Walking along the Menin road, to be taken to the clearing station. German prisoners are seen assisting at stretcher bearing.
The Ceremony at Menin Gate
Every day, just before 8 o'clock in the evening, the local police halt the traffic passing through the Menin Gate. For a few brief moments, the modern world is brought to a stop and the Last Post ceremony takes us back in time to the terrible and turbulent years of the Great War, as we pause to remember our dead.
The Menin Gate was chosen as the location for the ceremony because of its special symbolic significance: it was from this spot that countless thousand of soldiers set off for the front, many of them destined never to return.
Originally, the Last Post was a bugle call used in the British Army (and others) to signal the end of the day. In the context of the Last Post ceremony, it represents a final farewell to the fallen. In similar manner, the Reveille was traditionally played at the break of day, to waken the soldiers and call them to their duty. In the context of the Last Post ceremony, it not only symbolises the return to daily life at the end of the act of remembrance, but also expresses the resurrection to 'eternal life' of the fallen.
Official photos from 16th August 2017: http://www.lastpost.be/en/photos/2017/daily-last-post191
(30/07/2017, two weeks earlier, photos and video from the ceremony commemorating the start of the battle: http://www.lastpost.be/en/photos/2017/centenary-third-battle-of-ieper)
Above: View from the Cloth Hall's tower, looking East. Menin Gate on the left and Invernes Copse on the horizon top right
Above: Now back at the Australian War Memorial (Canberra), the Menin Gate lions were returned to Belgium to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1917 battles.
Above: The site of the Menin Gate before (with the lions) and after the first world war
Apply to take part in the ceremony at the Last Post Website (http://www.lastpost.be/en/ceremonies/participation)
The Last Post Association: The Last Post App: http://www.lastpost.be/en/news/81/last-post-app (Find a soldier on Menin Gate, Timeline of deaths)
National Library of Scotland Trench Maps: http://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=15&lat=50.8469&lon=2.9583&layers=101464642&b=1 (View maps overlaid on a modern map / satellite image)
11th November 2018 - Armistice Day
Reggie's great-great niece at her school’s Armistice Day commemorative display, marking one hundred years since the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918.
“When you go Home, tell them of us and say,
For your Tomorrow, we gave our Today”
John Maxwell Edmunds
The armistice initially expired after a period of 36 days. A formal peace agreement was only reached when the Treaty of Versailles was signed the following year
The Last Post at the Menin Gate, Amistice Day 2018:
Voices From The First World War : IWM podcast: Passchendaele: http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/podcasts/voices-of-the-first-world-war/podcast-31-passchendaele
The following photographs were taken in the same area and timeframe leading up to Reggie's death.
These images were created and released by the Imperial War Museum on the IWM Non Commercial Licence.
Battle of Langemarck. German shell bursting near a British forward battery. Pilckem Ridge, 16 August 1917.
WARNING - GRAPHIC CONTENT
Click 'Read More' below to see the photos
Reggie was the 4th of the 5 children of William and Mary Chapman (formerly Bronson).
Reggie's Birth Cert:
Reggie's marriage Cert:
Rank or Profession: Company Quarter Master, Sergeant 20th London Regiment (dental manufacturing clerk) -
--2nd Marriage of Irene Berta: ...she was married 8 months, widowed 15 months - and on 7th Dec 1918 she married Edwin George Arnold at Lambeth Register Office - another soldier! At least he wouldn't be returning to the battlefield - I suppose they would have know that for sure, 4 days later was Armistice Day. Both were 24---
Reggie's Death Cert:
Note that on both these his age is given as older than he really was: Reggie was born on 6 July 1897 so at his death on 16 August 1917 he was just 1 month over 20, not 21 as given on his death cert.
Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects:
Records of what the UK government owed to the next of kin upon a soldier's death.
A War Gratuity of £13 was paid to his widow on 21/11/19. '"To Whom Authorised : Wid. Irene B"
£13 in 1919 is approximately equivalent to £680 in 2017 (http://inflation.stephenmorley.org/)
(Source Citation: National Army Museum; Chelsea, London, England; Soldiers' Effects Records, 1901-60; NAM Accession Number: 1991-02-333; Record Number Ranges: 557501-559000; Reference: 323: Description: Register Numbers : 557501-559000 : Source Information: Ancestry.com. UK, Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.: Original data: Soldiers' Effects Records, 1901–60. National Army Museum, Chelsea, London, England. : Source Description : These records of what the UK government owed to the next of kin upon a soldier's death include next of kin.)