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I have a family tree member who died in Flanders in 1916 and wondered if anyone had a further information on this event. Possibly where the Battalion were approx on that date etc.
The record I have so far is
James Woolven DOB 1871 (born Percy James Woolven)
G/17399 Private, enrolled in Brighton
6th Battalion Queens own royal west Kent regiment
Died 07.10.1916 Flanders, killed in action
Formerly 41237 R/FUS
I cant find his military record so have no further information.
Any help would be much appreciated
My interest is in the East Kent Regiment but as the 6th West Kents were in the same Brigade as the 6th East Kents I know something of the events when your relative died. They were attacking the Transloy Ridge from the village of Gueudecourt on that day. The attack was a failure for many reasons and casualties were heavy. It is a battlefield that I have visited many times and perhaps the most interesting one for me on the Western Front. Here is the account of The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)
12 Division was scheduled to take Bayonet Trench from its positions on the edge of Gueudecourt village, and advance a further 500 yards on 7 October. Cope’s orders to the 6th Buffs make interesting reading as regards tactics; although based on the Red Book, they show his own personal innovations. He decided to attack on a three-company front (A–C), keeping D company in support. A and C companies on the right and left were to take two objectives, but B in the middle was given one. Each company was to attack in four waves on a single platoon front. This gave the battalion a narrow but bulky punch and was no doubt designed to compensate for the poor ground which, being so heavily cratered and boggy, was bound to divide and splinter the advancing troops. In order to increase firepower, Cope ordered all rifles to be ready with ten rounds and the first wave platoons to take a Lewis gun team.119
Fifteen minutes before zero hour (1.45 p.m.) the Germans began an intense bombardment of the division’s front line. The divisional historians believed that the Germans had gained some prior knowledge of the assault time; however, it is far more likely that routine observation and intelligence informed the reaction. Attacking in the afternoon had become habitual as it provided artillery observers with the opportunity of making their final assessments and adjustments in day- light.120 As the Buffs went over the top heading for a solid bank running across no man’s land, C company was immediately pinned down by machine gun fire, but A and B managed to advance to the first objective, suffering heavy casualties. Most of B company was unable to advance beyond the bank, as the ground sloped sharply upward beyond it and made the men easy targets as they slogged through the boggy ground.121 A foothold was gained on the first objective, but the mater- ial improvement to the British line was negligible. Eight officers were killed, including the battalion medical officer, and 12 were wounded, while 347 OR were killed, wounded or missing. Among the wounded officers was Cope, who had attempted to intervene by taking personal control in no man’s land, but was soon hit and only saved by the bravery of a small group of men who shielded his body from further hits. It was a disastrous ending to the battle for the 6th Buffs. Brigadier General Cator was forthright in his report on the action. He blamed the inadequate forming-up positions, the poor performance of the British artillery owing to bad observation resulting in ‘fire [which] failed to do any damage’, and the inexperience of many officers and men, many of whom had only recently been drafted into the brigade. He concluded ‘that at all costs it is necessary that proper observation should be obtained . . . before another attack is launched’.
it’s nice to know what happened to James, but so sad that so many men were killed and injured.
I appreciate your reply thank you very much
Glad to be of help. The West Kents were on the East Kents’ left shoulder during the attack. Their fate was similar. There was a machine gun post on the East Kents’ left (and the West Kents’ right) which they didn’t have full knowledge of. It cut up both the Battalions as they advanced. When you stand on the spot of the machine gun post you can see what a commanding view it had. Incidentally, only a few of the East Kents who died are in marked graves and even those bodies were found after the war. The rest of them were never identified and are remembered on the Thiepval Memorial
Do you have access to Ancestry? His record is on there. If not, let me know and I will précis it for you. He was originally in the Royal Fusilers