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

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1916, NOVEMBER 25th – FRONT LINE ALONG DESIRE

Trenches Near Grandcourt November and Dececember 1916

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

On the evening of November 25, 1916, Robinson of C Company and myself, taking Hunt and Timms (my runner) and one signaller, left for the front line. This was being held along Desire–my fondness for this trench never warranted that name–with a line of resistance in Regina, a very famous German trench, for which there had recently been heavy fighting. Our reconnaissance, which was completed at dawn, was lucky and satisfactory; moreover–I do not refer to any lack of refreshment by the Berks company commander–I was still dry at its conclusion, having declined all the communication trenches, which were already threatening to become impassable owing to mud.

KILLED IN ACTION 25th NOVEMBER 1916

20413 Private Herbert Gerald Montague

Herbert Gerald Montague

Herbert Gerald Montague’s short and adventurous life is detailed below.

 

DeRuvigny’s Roll of Honour, 1914 – 1924

MONTAGU, HERBERT GERALD, Private, No. 20413, 4th Battn. The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, late Lieut. The Royal Munster Fusiliers, 2ns s. of Alfred John Montagu. Of Braeside, Hillingdon, co. Middlesex, formerly of Colnbrook, co. Buckingham, by his Wife Hester Vaudrey, dau. Of the late James Holland, of Manchester; b. Perth, Western Australia, 20 Nov. 1892; educ. St. Paul’s School, London, where he played polo for the school; won the 1909 Bantam Weight, competition at Aldershot the year of its foundation.; was gazetted 2nd Lieut. 5th Battn. The Royal Fusiliers 1 April 1911, and attached to the 4th Battn. At Aldershot, afterwards became a familiar figure at the Regimental hunts in the Curragh, and well known as an excellent shot. On the outbreak of the Turko-Italian War, anxious to see active service, he offered himself to the TurkishGoverment and after a long and adventurous journey reached Turkish Headquarters. During this Journey he and Mr. Seppings Wright, War Artist for the “Illustrated London News” whom he met at Sfax, also on his way to Turkish Headquarters, were owing to rough weather, stranded on an island, where they existed on octopus and porpoise for three days, threatened meanwhile by a mutinous native crew. After leaving the island their fresh water gave out, and suffering terribly from thirst, they finally reached Zwarra, whence Mr. Montagu proceeded by camel to the Turkish Headquarters. Here he was given the rank of Captain, with a command of 3,000 Turkish troops and Arab irregulars comprising the right flank of the Turkish forces. He was three times mentioned in Despatches, and his gallantry and his control over undisciplined Arab troops led Mr. Alan Ostler, War Correspondent with the Turkish forces, to describe him as the “Paladin of the Desert.” He was severely wounded in Dec., and later returned to England suffering from dysentery, having in the meantime been notified that the War Office demanded his resignation for communicating with the Press, as it was he who sent a cable exposing the massacre of women and children whose body he found in a mosque; subsequently he receieved an illuminated address from the representatives of the Moslem community resident in England. Later he visited Constantinople as the guest of the Minister of War, when he was decorated by the Sultan with the Odre Imperial du Medjidie and the Ordre de la Gloire Nichon-I-Iftikhar, who also appointed him an A.D.C. At this time an attempt was made on his life which happily failed; returned to England in March, 1913, suffering from the effects of typhoid; was reinstated as Lieut. In Aug. 1914, being attached to the Royal Munster Fusiliers; served with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, 10th Division, at Gallipoli from july, 1915; took part in the landing at Sulva Bay; was wounded on the ridge at Kislagh Dagh, and invalided home in Sept. with a septic wound and nerous breakdown., being invalided out f the Army after a year’s ill-health. On recovery he enlisted as a Private in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, preferring not to wait in the hope of regaining his commission; proceeded to France 2 Nov., and was killed in action at Moquet Farm, near Thiepval, 25 Nov. 1916, while carrying despatches to the base, only a few days before the recommendation for his reinstatement and consequent return to England. He m. in London, 15 Oct, 1913, Mai Hermoine, only au. Of the late James Cunningham Mitchell, Indian Police, Simla.

Limerick Chronicle, January, 1917.

Romantic Career Ended on battlefield.

The death in action is announced of Herbert Gerald Montagu, a private in the Oxford and Bucks, Light Infantry, formerly a lieutenant in the Royal Munster Fusiliers. Mr Montagu was deprived of his commission in the Royal Fusiliers for joining the Turkish Army in Tripoli without leave. He took a romantic part in the Turkish-Italian war in Northern Africa in 1911, and was subsequently decorated by the Sultan with the Orders of the Mejidie and Nichan-Lftikhar for conspicuous bravery in the field. At the conclusion of the Tripoli campaign he returned wounded to England, and was presented with an illuminated address on behalf of the Moslem community in this country. As Lieutenant in the Royal Munster Fusiliers he tool part in the Suvla Bay landing and in other Gallipoli operations, was wounded at Kislag Dagh, and ultimately returned to England in September 1915, suffering from septic wounds and nervous breakdown. Immediately he was fit he joined the ranks, went to France, and there met his death at the age of 24. He was the second son of Mr and Mrs A J Montagu, of Braeside, Hillingdon, late of Colnbrook. He was educated at St Paul’s School.—“Daily Sketch.”

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

1916-11-25

Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire

Location France, Trenches

Entry Normal artillery activity on both sides.

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1917, MARCH 16th – GERMAN RETREAT BEHIND THE SOMME AND THE 2/4th OXFORDS MARCH TO LIHONS

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

On March 16, 1917, the Germans left their front line and scuttled back behind the Somme. The news of this threw everything into a miniature ferment. The Berks stopped practising a raid which they were to do on the Brigade’s return to the old trenches. The General rode off apace. After orders and counter-orders the 2/4th marched dramatically to a map reference near Lihons and commenced pulling logs out of old French dug-outs. Much good work was done, but I believe the logs were never used.

DIED OF WOUNDS MARCH 16th 1917

201391 Private Albert Harry Timms

Timms was wounded on the 28th February,

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

The aftermath of this fighting proved a trying experience. The dug-out to which I returned to spend the remainder of the tour was a shambles. The stairs were drenched with blood. Of my companions, Thompson, a signaller, Timms, Smith (Hunt’s servant, a fine lad) and Corporal Coles- one of the bravest and most devoted N.C.O.’s the Battalion ever had–were dead or died soon afterwards.

He died in a hospital round Etaples.

From: http://www.ww1cemeteries.com/ww1frenchcemeteries/etaples.htm

During the First World War, the area around Etaples was the scene of immense concentrations of Commonwealth reinforcement camps and hospitals. It was remote from attack, except from aircraft, and accessible by railway from both the northern or the southern battlefields. In 1917, 100,000 troops were camped among the sand dunes and the hospitals, which included eleven general, one stationary, four Red Cross hospitals and a convalescent depot, could deal with 22,000 wounded or sick. In September 1919, ten months after the Armistice, three hospitals and the Q.M.A.A.C. convalescent depot remained. The cemetery contains 10,771 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, the earliest dating from May 1915. 35 of these burials are unidentified.

Name: Albert Harry Timms
Age: 20
Birth Date: abt 1897
Death Date: 16 Mar 1917
Cemetery: Cemetery Fr 40 Etaples Part Vi U K Graves Senior To Zelley
Burial Country: France
Father: Harry Timms
Mother: Emily Timms
Service Number: 201391
Region or Memorial: France

Lieutenant C. B. Hunt

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

November 1916
“On the evening of November 25, 1916, Robinson of C Company and myself, taking Hunt and Timms (my runner) and one signaller, left for the front line.”

“One night about this time a party of us, including Hunt and
‘Doctor’ Rockall, the medical corporal, who had accompanied me round the front posts, lost its way hopelessly in the dark. Shapes looming up in the distance, I enquired of Hunt as to his readiness for hostile encounter, whereupon the reassuring answer was given that ‘his revolver was loaded, but not cocked.’

“Hunt, who at this time, being my only officer not partially sick, has called for somewhat repeated reference, usually devoted the hours after mid-night to taking a patrol to locate a track shown on the map and called Stump Road, his object being to meet another patrol from a neighbouring unit. Success did not crown the work. Stump Road remained undiscovered and passed into the apocrypha of trench warfare.”

28th February 1917
“That everyone inside was not killed instantly was due, no doubt, both to the sloping character of the stairs, which made some bombs explode before they reached the bottom, and to the small size of the bombs themselves. A gas bomb finished the German side of the argument. Hunt’s useful knowledge of German commenced the answer. We ‘surrendered.’ I went upstairs at once and saw three Germans almost at touching distance. In place of a docile prisoner they received four revolver shots, after which I left as soon as possible under a shower of bombs and liquid fire. Shortly afterwards, but too late to follow me, Hunt also came forth and round the enemv had vanished Afterwards the Sergeant Major and Uzzell, sanitary lance-corporal, who on this occasion showed the genius of a fieId marshal, emerged and prevented the return of our late visitors.”

The story of this raid I should not have allowed to reach this length but for the fact that the affair created some stir at the time, and correspondence raged on the subject till long afterwards Hunt, who was with me during the bombardment and the
bombing of my H.Q., was not captured on emerging from the dug-out, but himself, some hour or more afterwards, while wandering among the blown-in trenches in an effort to follow me, entered a German listening post and became a prisoner. As a prisoner he was present at a German H.Q. when the details of an exactly similar raid upon a neighbouring division were being arranged ; which raid proved for the enemy an equal success.
The aftermath of this fighting proved a trying experience. The dug-out to which I returned to spend the remainder of the tour was a shambles. The stairs were drenched with blood. Of my
companions, Thompson, a signaller, Timms, Smith (Hunt’s servant, a fine lad) and Corporal Coles, one of the br.avest and most devoted N.CO.’s the Battalion ever had, were dead or died soon afterwards.”

UK, British Officer Prisoners of War, 1914-1918

Name: C B Hunt
Rank: 2/Lt.
Regiment: 4th Battalion. Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Lig
Date Missing: 28 Feb 1917
Repatriation Date: 18 Dec 1918
Record Number: 2903
Section: Western Theatre of Operations.

 

Private Albert Harry Timms

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

“The stairs were drenched with blood. Of my companions, Thompson, a signaller, Timms, Smith (Hunt’s servant, a fine lad) and Corporal Coles one of the bravest and most devoted N.CO.’s the Battalion ever had were dead or died soon afterwards.”

Name: TIMMS, ALBERT HARRY
Initials: A H
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Unit Text: 2nd/4th Bn.
Age: 20
Date of Death: 16/03/1917
Service No: 201391
Additional information: Son of Harry and Emily Timms, of 9, Stratfield Rd., Summertown, Oxford.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: XXII. B. 9.
Cemetery: ETAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY

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