Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (The 2/4th Battalion)

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1916, JUNE 21st – RELIEVED FROM THE RED HOUSE SUB-SECTION OF THE FANQUISSART SECTION BY THE 2/4th ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT AND WENT IN SUPPORT AT LAVENTIE

June 21st-27th the Battalion was in support at Laventie.

KILLED IN ACTION JUNE 21st 1916

4103 Private Albert Joseph Randall

From the War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1916-06-21
Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire
Location France, Trenches
Entry Relieved 2/4 OXFORDS. Complete 9.30pm. Coys in same position as before. Listening Patrols out. Sap started from No 5 Sally Post and PICANTIN AVENUE. Heavy firing in S.

1916, JUNE 15th – RELIEVED THE 2/4th ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT IN THE RED HOUSE SUB-SECTION OF THE FANQUISSART SECTION

From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, by Captain G. K. Rose KC (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1920)

From 15th-21st June the Battalion was in the trenches in the Red House Sub-section of the Fanquissart section.

From the War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1916-06-15
Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire
Location France, Trenches
Entry Quiet day. Relieved by 2/4 OXFORDS at 11pm and moved back to rest billets in LAVENTIE. 1 Coy holds 2 Platoons in LAVENTIE E POST, 1 Platoon HOUGOUMONT, 1 Platoon DEAD END POST, 1 Platoon in PICANTIN POST. 2 Platoons ready to move at 15 minutes notice.

1917, APRIL 28th – RAID NEAR ST QUENTIN BY THE 2/4th OXFORDS

By G. K. Rose

By G. K. Rose

From G. K. Rose, The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

At this point I must explain for the benefit of lay readers the difference between a raid and an attack. The purpose of the latter was to drive the enemy from ground he occupied and stay there. Early attacks upon the Western Front were usually directed against trenches, of which successive lines, reaching to a distance or ‘depth’ of several thousand yards, were often our goal or ‘objective.’ So that our Infantry could enter hostile trenches it was invariably necessary to destroy the wire in front or make a pathway through it. Many attacks failed because the wire had not been cut. Before the days of Tanks the means employed consisted, broadly speaking, in artillery fire, which it was also hoped would put the enemy’s machine-guns out of action and frighten his garrison. Our Infantry advanced immediately this fire had ceased or ‘lifted’ to the next objective. During the Battle of the Somme it was found that the enemy often left his actual trenches and came forward into shell-holes in No-Man’s-Land so as to escape the fire of our artillery. To counter this manoeuvre the ‘creeping barrage’ was devised. Our shells were fired so as to form a moving curtain of destruction immediately in front of our men in their advance, whilst at the same time the enemy’s trenches were bombarded. Attacks on any scale were planned to capture and hold against the enemy some ridge, by losing which he lost observation of our lines, while we, in gaining it, saw more of his and also were enabled to advance our guns.

The purpose of a raid was to penetrate a portion of the enemy’s front, to kill or capture as many Germans as possible, and then retire. Raids differed materially from attacks in this respect, that no attempt was made in the former to hold the ground won longer than was necessary to satisfy the plan. Raids were usually supported by artillery and took place at night; but daylight raids, though less common or successful, were sometimes made, and ‘silent raids,’ when no artillery was used, were also tried.

This explanation, dull to military readers, will serve to indicate what operation I was now about to undertake. The scheme, of which the General and his Brigade Major were the authors, was to pass a body of men through a gap in the unoccupied portion of the German trenches opposite Fayet, deploy, and sweep sideways against some other trenches, thought to be held, and through several copses which Bucks patrols had pronounced weakly garrisoned by the enemy. These copses, which were expected to yield a few handfuls of runaway boys in German uniform, would be attacked by us in flank and rear at the same time. The scheme promised well, but the proposed manner of retirement, which would be in daylight and across nearly a mile of open ground, presented difficulties. The more to overcome them and to be fresh for the event, D Company and the platoons of C selected for the task were to stay in the sunken road north of Fayet, while A and B Companies went to garrison the outpost line……..

The Raid on August 28th

From G. K. Rose, The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

At 1 a.m. I roused the men, some 150 all told, and the responsible task of issuing the bombs, wire-cutters, and other things commenced. All these, invoiced with excellent precision by the Brigade Major, Moore, had been carried up by the Berks. The shelling rarely ceased, and I owed everything on this occasion to Corporal Leatherbarrow, who showed not only steadfast bravery but skill. The platoons could not, on account of the shells which sometimes fell in the roadway itself, be paraded, and each received its share of bombs piecemeal by sections. Food, to supplement which I did not scruple to issue some of the next day’s rations, was partaken of at 2 a.m., but it took long, and half an hour later the whole party should have started upon its journey across the mile of open fields to reach the assembly post. Disposal of the bombs, the meal, and those many last attentions which breed delay had taken longer than I had allowed. Time was getting very short. I wanted to dodge the shelling, but had missed a quiet interval that occurred at 2.30 a.m. At 3 a.m. I moved, leading the party in a long column over the open ground north of Fayet to reach its eastern side. The inevitable ‘wire mats,’ an encumbrance without which few raiding parties ever started, hampered the progress. It was a pitch dark night, nor was I certain of the way. To cover the mile and then pass 150 men, ignorant of their whereabouts, silently and in single file through a gap into No-Man’s-Land ere dawn broke and our bombardment started now seemed impossible. It was a serious quandary. To go on might be to compromise not only the operation, but the lives of 150 men, who would be discovered in daylight and in the open near the enemy. But to go back was to jeopardise the reputation of the Battalion.

I went on.

Great darkness preceded the dawn, which was expected shortly after 4 a.m. I found the road, the first crater, the narrow track through the wire, and the empty ground beyond. A few minutes after the last man had reached his place our barrage opened. Shells fell spasmodically here and there for a few seconds; then all our batteries were shooting together. Their fire was admirable, heavy and well-directed.

In the stumbling rush forward to reach the nearest wood–C Company to the second crater on the Fayet Road–waves and platoons were rapidly confused. The Germans, who found themselves attacked in flank and rear, were totally surprised. They had not stood-to and many were yet asleep. Some lights went up and a few sentries’ shots were fired, but it appeared that small resistance to our progress would be made. The wire was trampled through, and for some minutes our men played havoc with the Germans, who ran, leaving draggled blankets and equipment in their trenches. Dug-outs were generously bombed, and explosions filled the air as our men hastily used the weapons brought to hurt the enemy. Three machine-guns fell into our hands. A miniature victory was in progress.

But a turn of events followed; the trenches and woods beyond those we had first entered were neither unoccupied nor weakly held. A force certainly equal to ours was in opposition. After their first surprise the Germans recovered, manned their reserve machine-guns, and opened a fierce fire from front and flanks upon their assailants. Many of us were hit, including Taylor, the officer of No. 15 Platoon, who was severely wounded in the thigh. In No. 13 Platoon, which lost most heavily, Allden and his Platoon Sergeant, Kilby, were killed. The full programme could not be effected. It was getting light; so I decided to withdraw. Most of D Company I found had already done this in their own way, but the remainder now collected at my summons. Lance-Corporal O’Connor with his two Lewis guns did yeoman service to stem what had become the German counter-attack. Ammunition was running short, and German stick-bombs obliged me, in order to save from capture those less badly hit, to leave Taylor, whose wound made him quite helpless. The wire, through which Sergeant Mowby had been busy cutting a path, was safely passed, and an hour afterwards we had regained the sunken road. I learnt that Jones, who had led the right of the advance, had not returned. He with his men had narrowly missed being cut off when the dawn broke. During the ensuing day this party had to lie scattered in shell-holes till darkness enabled them to reach our lines.

The raid was hailed as a signal success for the Battalion. Two machine-guns and one protesting prisoner had been dragged back to our lines. The German trenches had been over-run and many of their occupants had been killed or wounded. By a satisfactory coincidence the troops whom we surprised were a battalion of the Jaegers, the very regiment which after three hours’ bombardment had raided us exactly two months previously at Ablaincourt.

Our losses, considering the scope of the operation, were heavy, but not so proportionately to the number of troops of both sides engaged nor to the severe nature of the fighting. Most of our casualties had bullet wounds. The list, officially, was: Killed, 1 officer and 10 other ranks; wounded, 2 officers and 41; missing, 1 officer and 2. Of Taylor I regret to say no news was ever heard. I left him wounded, probably fatally, and quite incapable of being moved. The likelihood is that he died soon afterwards and was buried by the enemy in the trench where he lay. Allden and Kilby were a serious loss to the fighting efficiency of D Company.

D Company and 2 platoons of C raided the enemy trenches at 4.20 a.m., and reached the second objective, capturing two machine-guns and one German. Our casualties were heavy, viz. : 2nd Lieut. T. H. Allden and 16 other ranks killed, 2nd Lieut. H. S. Taylor  wounded and missing, 42 other ranks wounded, 9 missing.

KILLED IN ACTION APRIL 28th 1917

2nd Lieutenant T. H. Allden

2nd Lieutenant Herbert Samuel Taylor

200603 Sergeant Herbert Kilby

201083 Corporal Frederick Harris

201477 Corporal Harry Harbud

201373 Lance Corporal Francis Edward Buckingham

203761 Lance Corporal Albert Henry Souch

203458 Private James Edgar Cockridge (Formerly 3065, R. Bucks Hussars)

200445 Private Stanley George Covey

203459 Private William Henry Dear (Formerly 3043, R. Bucks Hussars) (Died)

203534 Private Thomas Ginger (Formerly 3139, R. Berks Regt.)

203839 Private Willie Goff

203497 Private Reginald Jack High (Formerly 2829, R. Bucks Hussars)

203502 Private William John Murphy (Formerly 3015, R. Bucks Hussars)

202654 Private Ernest Roof

200361 Private John Shepherd

202139 Private William Waite

201381 Private George Walker

203762 Private John Thomas Williams

DIED OF WOUNDS APRIL 28th 1917

267483 Private George Henry Williams

From G. K. Rose, The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

For their gallantry Corporal Sloper and Sergeant Butcher received the Military Medal and Jones the Military Cross. Corporal Leatherbarrow for his steadfast conduct in the sunken road was mentioned in dispatches. To Sergeant-Major Brooks fell the honour of the Battalion’s first V.C., of which the official award ran as follows:–

‘For most conspicuous bravery. This Warrant Officer, while taking part in a raid on the enemy’s trenches, saw that the front wave was checked by an enemy machine-gun at close quarters. On his own initiative, and regardless of personal danger, he rushed forward from the second wave with the object of capturing the gun, killing one of the gunners with his revolver and bayoneting another. The remainder of the gun’s crew then made off, leaving the gun in his possession. S.M. Brooks then turned the machine-gun on to the retreating enemy, after which he carried it back to our lines. By his courage and initiative he undoubtedly prevented many casualties, and greatly added to the success of the operations.’

Company Sergeant-Major Edward Brooks V.C.

Company Sergeant-Major Edward Brooks V.C.

1917, APRIL 6th – GOOD FRIDAY ATTACK EAST OF SOYECOURT

AdvanceStQuentin

The 184th Brigade attacked the enemy’s trenches; 2/5th Glosters on the right, 2/4th Oxford and Bucks on the left. “Zero” hour, midnight. A Company was the attacking company. The enemy wire was found to be uncut; two attempts were made to break through, but without success, and the attacking companies, were consequently forced to withdraw. Casualties. — Lieut. C. J. Barton and 8 men killed; 2nd Lieuts. J. P. Wayte, R. Aitken, A. H. Tilley and 21 men wounded (2nd Lieut. A. H. Tilley afterwards died of his wounds)

From G. K. Rose, The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

For April 6–Good Friday, 1917–an attack on a large scale had been arranged. The 59th Division on our left, the Gloucesters and the 182nd Brigade on our right, shared in the operations. The line was to be advanced a mile on both sides of the Omignon. The Battalion’s objective was a line of trenches recently dug by the enemy and running between Le Vergier and the river. To capture them Brown’s company, which hitherto had stayed in reserve at Soyécourt in tolerable accommodation, was selected. B and D Companies were ordered to keep close behind A to support the attack, while C remained to garrison the outpost line.

Zero was midnight, but before that snow and sleet were falling heavily. It proved the dirtiest night imaginable. Companies moved in columns across the 1,000 yards of open fields between their old positions and the objective, against which our artillery kept up as severe a fire as possible. That fire was less effective than was hoped. In its advance A Company lost men from our own shells, of which nearly all were seen to be falling very short. The German wire, still the great argument to face in an attack, was found uncut. Although at first inclined to surrender, the enemy soon saw the failure of our men to find a gap. Machine-guns were manned, which swept the ground with a fierce enfilade fire. Brown, Aitken, and Wayte behaved in a most gallant manner, the line was rallied, and a renewed attempt made to storm the trenches. In vain. No troops will stand against machine-gun fire in the open when no object can be achieved. It was idle to repeat the attack or send fresh companies to share the forlorn enterprise.

KILLED IN ACTION APRIL 6th 1917

201177 Lance Sergeant Francis Hugh Silvester Smith

1917, APRIL 5th – FRONT-LINE EAST OF SOYECOURT

AdvanceStQuentin

Enemy’s artillery less active; 1 man wounded.

Private Alfred Dan Page

Rank: Private
Service No: 29157
Date of Death: 22/08/1917
Age: 34
Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry 2nd/4th Bn.
Grave Reference XXI. C. 2.
Cemetery NEW IRISH FARM CEMETERY

Additional Information:

Son of William and Mary Ann Page, of High Wycombe; husband of Bertha Helen Page, of 71, West Wycombe Rd., High Wycombe, Bucks.

From Buckinghamshire Remembers:

Name Alfred Dan PAGE
Rank/Number Private   29157
Regiment Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry   2/4th Battalion
Enlisted High Wycombe
Age/Date of death 34      22 Aug 1917
How died/Theatre of war Killed in action   France & Flanders
Residence at death
Cemetery New Irish Farm Cemetery, Ieper, Belgium 
Grave or Memorial Reference XXI.C.2
Location of memorial High Wycombe Hospital
Date/Place of birth c1883      High Wycombe
Date/Place of baptism 07 Feb 1883 High Wycombe
Pre-war occupation of Casualty carpenter & joiners apprentice
Parents William George (late) & Mary Ann Page
Parent’s occupation baker and grocer
Parents’ Address (last known) High Wycombe
Wife Bertha Helen Page
Wife’s Address (last known) 71 West End Rd, High Wycombe

Please see:

The Attack on Pond Farm, 22nd August, 1917

The Attack On Pond Farm and Other Strong Posts, 21st -24th August 1917

Attack on Strongpoints, South East of St. Julian, 22nd August 1917

The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)

Private Percy Dalby Pipe

Percy Dalby Pipe was the eldest of four brothers that were killed within a year of each other. Please see the post on Lance Corporal Edwin George Pipe. Percy was killed on the first day of the German Spring Offensive when the battalion was in the front line of one of the most powerful artillery offensives ever. His last remaining brother, Sergeant Robert Henry Pipe, who served in the same battalion, died of his wounds 8 days later.

Rank: Private
Service No: 200938
Date of Death: 21/03/1918
Age:
Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry 2nd/4th Bn.
Panel ReferencePanel 50 and 51.
Memorial: POZIERES MEMORIAL

National Probate Calander, 5 June 1920:

PIPE Percy Dalby of 9 Queen’s Road Beccles Suffolk. Private 2/4th battalion Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry died 21 March 1918 in France. Administration (with Will) Ipswich 5 June to William Dalby Pipe printer’s estimating clerk. Effects 203 13s

Sergeant Robert Henry Pipe

Robert Henry Pipe was the last of four brothers to die within a year of each other. Please see the page on Lance Corporal Edwin George Pipe

Robert Henry Pipe

Rank: Serjeant
Service No: 200939
Date of Death: 29/03/1918
Age: 26
Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, 2nd/4th Bn.
Grave Reference II. B. 11.
Cemetery ETRETAT CHURCHYARD EXTENSION

From the Woodbridge, Suffolk Roll of Honour

Sergeant 200939, 2nd/4th Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. Died 29/03/1918. Age 26. Son of William Dalby Pipe and Emma Pipe of 9 Queen’s Road, Beccles, Suffolk. Buried at Etretat Churchyard Extension (near Le Havre).

From the Woodbridge Reporter dated 30th Jan 1919, there are details of Woodbridgians who fell in the Great War. Against Robert H Pipe it says:

Robert H Pipe, assistant teacher at the Council School, died of wounds received in action on 29th March 1918. He was 26 years of age and joined the forces in September 1914.

National Probate Calendar, 24 July 1918:

PIPE Robert Henry of 28 Seckford Street Woodbridge Suffolk died 29 March 1918 in France from wounds. Administration (with Will) London 24 July to William Dalby Pipe printer’s estimating clerk. Effects 416 1s 1d.

Lance Corporal Edwin George Pipe

This is one of the saddest stories I have come across. Edwin was the youngest of four sons, all of whom fell. Their parents were William D. and Emma Pipe, of 9, Queen’s Rd., Beccles, Suffolk.

Name: Edwin George Pipe
Birth Place: Beccles, Suffolk
Residence: Oxford
Death Date: 10 Sep 1917
Enlistment Location: Beccles, Suffolk
Rank: L/Corporal
Regiment: Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
Battalion: 2/4th Battalion.
Number: 200937

Rank:Lance Corporal
Service No:200937
Date of Death:10/09/1917
Age:21
Regiment/Service:Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry 2nd/4th Bn.
Panel ReferencePanel 96 to 98. Memorial TYNE COT MEMORIAL
Type of Casualty: Killed in action

The following letter was sent by Lance Corporal Edwin George Pipe on 26th August 1917, a few weeks before he himself was killed. The letter was to the parents of Private Lewis Heath. The letter was kindly provided by Peter Heath.

Lance Corporal E. G. Pipe, B. Company Signals, B.E.F.

August 26th, 1917

Dear Mr & Mrs Heath

It is my very painful duty to inform you that your dear brave son was killed in Action on the morning of the 22nd. I send you my deepest sympathy and may almighty God comfort you in your great loss. I feel his loss greatly, a better lad one couldn’t find. We had reached our objective when he went with an important message to Battalion Head Quarters. I heard afterwards he got there in 10 minutes. Eager to do his duty he returned to come back when he was hit by shell fire. Our Lane Corporal Stretcher Bearer found him and was with him till the end. Before leaving us with the message he was with me It may comfort you to know that he did his duty bravely. I know how you must feel. It was only a few weeks back that a dear brother of mine was killed.  He was always a cheerful lad everyone liked him and we feel his loss very much. I again offer you my deepest sympathy. Believe Me.

Yours Sincerely

Edwin George Pipe

The brother he was referring to was William John Pipe. Two other brothers, Percy Dalby Pipe and Robert Henry Pipe died in 1918. They were the sons of William Dalby Pipe and Emma Starland.

William John Pipe

Rank: Private
Service No: 9764
Date of Death: 03/05/1917
Age: 28
Regiment/Service: Honourable Artillery Company, 2nd Bn.
Panel Reference Bay 1.
Memorial: ARRAS MEMORIAL
Additional Information:
Son of Mr. and Mrs. William Dalby Pipe, of 9, Queen’s Rd., Beccles, Suffolk; husband of Elizabeth Marion Pipe, of 47, Sutherland Rd., Tottenham, London.

Percy Dalby Pipe

Rank:Private
Service No:200938
Date of Death:21/03/1918
Age:32
Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry 2nd/4th Bn.
Panel ReferencePanel 50 and 51.
Memorial: POZIERES MEMORIAL

Sergeant Robert Henry Pipe

Rank: Serjeant
Service No: 200939
Date of Death: 29/03/1918
Age: 26
Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, 2nd/4th Bn.
Grave Reference II. B. 11.
Cemetery ETRETAT CHURCHYARD EXTENSION

From the Woodbridge, Suffolk Roll of Honour

Sergeant 200939, 2nd/4th Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. Died 29/03/1918. Age 26. Son of William Dalby Pipe and Emma Pipe of 9 Queen’s Road, Beccles, Suffolk. Buried at Etretat Churchyard Extension (near Le Havre).

From the Woodbridge Reporter dated 30th Jan 1919, there are details of Woodbridgians who fell in the Great War. Against Robert H Pipe it says:

Robert H Pipe, assistant teacher at the Council School, died of wounds received in action on 29th March 1918. He was 26 years of age and joined the forces in September 1914.

Please see:

The Attack on Pond Farm, 22nd August, 1917

The Attack On Pond Farm and Other Strong Posts, 21st -24th August 1917

Attack on Strongpoints, South East of St. Julian, 22nd August 1917

The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele)

Sergeant George Fowler

It looks if George Fowler was very involved in football prior to the war. Below he is in a picture of the Wycombe Generals F.C. 1910-11.

It also looks if he at one time played for Wycombe Wanderers Reserves.

Wikipedia has the following entry on Wycombe Wanderers:

Events off the pitch soon had an impact on the club. In the autumn and winter of 1913 a major industrial dispute in the furniture trade in High Wycombe saw workers locked out and attendances were seriously affected. However far more serious events were taking place in Europe and the First World War soon broke out. Wycombe players joined the two companies of Territorials and the Bucks Battalion. Loakes Park was used for training artillarymen and the club ceased to be active for the duration of the war. The club and football began to organise itself again and in the summer of 1919 the club held its AGM at the Red Lion Hotel and all stood for those who had lost their lives in the First World War. They included the following players; Charlie Buchanan, George Buchanan, Pat Carter, Bunny Fowler, Frank Langley, Jock Love, Jim McDermott, Edward Reynolds, A Saunders and Harry Stallwood.

Could Bunny Fowler be George?

The photographs above were from a Miss Carol Randall on Buckinghamshire Remembers.

Name George FOWLER   MM
Rank/Number Sergeant   11860
Regiment Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry   2/4th Battalion
Enlisted High Wycombe
Age/Date of death 25      12 Sep 1918
How died/Theatre of war Killed in action   France & Flanders
Residence at death
Cemetery Rue-du-Bois Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix, France 
Grave or Memorial Reference II.E.3
Location of memorial High Wycombe Hospital
Date/Place of birth c1895      Desborough Rd, High Wycombe
Date/Place of baptism 01 Mar 1895 High Wycombe
Pre-war occupation of Casualty
Parents George & Annie Fowler
Parent’s occupation labourer
Parents’ Address (last known) 88 Richardson St, High Wycombe
Wife
Wife’s Address (last known)

George was killed during an attack  on Junction Post, a grass covered breastwork where the enemy was offering stubborn resistance. During this attack the battalion won it’s second Victoria Cross through the valor of Lance-Corporal A. Wilcox.

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