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

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The Battle of Fromelles – Order of Battle for British and German forces.

The Battle of Fromelles – Order of Battle for British and German forces.

Extracted From The Regimental Chronicles of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

The 61st Division were to attack on the line from Bedford Row to Bond Street, the 184th Brigade on the front from Sutherland Avenue exclusive to Bond Street inclusive, the 183rd Brigade were on the right, and the Australian Division on the left.

The 2/1st Bucks and the 2/4th Berks were in the trenches and were to make the attack, one Company (C) of  the Battalion was in immediate reserve just north of the Rue Tilleloy, and the remainder of the Battalion remained in reserve at their billets. Owing to a misunderstanding of orders, a platoon of C Company, which was destined to carry trench-mortar ammunition across No Man’s Land after the attack had been established in the enemy’s trenches, was kept in the front line and suffered very heavily in the bombardment. An intense bombardment was kept up from 11 a.m. till 6p.m., when the assault was delivered, but owing to the machine-gun fire of the enemy the assaulting Battalion could not get across No Man’s Land and suffered very heavy losses.

About 7 p.m. the Battalion was loaded on to motor-buses and moved up towards the firing-line, and was sent up to take over the line held by the Berks and the Bucks. The relief was completed by 11, and at 11.30 the C.O., who had been ordered to remain at the Battle Headquarters, received orders to organize an attack with two companies on the Sugar Loaf, being told that he would find a party of Engineers with consolidating material at a certain point for which he was to provide a carrying company.

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

This harassing warfare had a crisis in July. The operations of July 19, which were shared with the 61st Division by the 5th Australian holding trenches further north, were designed as a demonstration to assist our attack upon the Somme and to hold opposite to the XI Corps certain German reserves, which, it was feared, would entrain at Lille and be sent south. That object was achieved, but at the cost of severe casualties to the divisions engaged, which were launched in daylight after artillery preparation, which results proved to have been inadequate, against a trench-system strongly manned and garrisoned by very numerous machine-guns. The objectives assigned to the 61st Division were not captured, while the Australians further north, after entering the German trenches and taking prisoners, though they held on tenaciously under heavy counter-attacks, were eventually forced to withdraw. ‘The staff work,’ said the farewell message from the XI Corps to the 61st Division three months later, ‘for these operations was excellent.’ Men and officers alike did their utmost to make the attack of July 19 a success, and it behoves all to remember the sacrifice of those who fell with appropriate gratitude. It was probably the last occasion on which large parties of storming infantry were sent forward through ‘sally ports.’ The Battalion was in reserve for the attack. C Company, which formed a carrying party during the fighting, lost rather heavily, but the rest of the Battalion, though moved hither and thither under heavy shelling, suffered few casualties. When the battle was over, companies relieved part of the line and held the trenches until normal conditions returned.


3560 Lance Sergeant Arthur Lunn

Corporal Reginald Harding

5417 Private Frederick William Bateman

5148 Private Charles Bryden

202028 Private Sidney Butler

2990 Private George Jones

6736 Private William John Jones (Formerly 1347, Welsh Regt.)

4317 Private George Edward L. Simpson

4167 Private William Arthur Taylor

3022 Private George Tolley

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


Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire

Location France, Laventie

Entry Artillery preparation opened at 11am attack at 6pm 2/1 BUCKS on our LEFT. AUSTRALIAN Division on Left of 2/1 BUCKS. 183rd Bde on our Right and 182nd Bde on Right of 183rd Bde, 8th and 61st Divisional Artillery behind our lines. Casualties Officers 3 Killed (Lt Col J H BEER, 2/Lieut G S ABBOTT and 2/Lieut F C D WILLIAMS) and 2 wounded (Major T SHIELDS and 2/Lieut D R GIBSON). Other ranks 35K, 115W and 8 Shell Shock. Bn relieved by 2/4 OXFORD and BUCKS LI at 1030pm. Marched back into billets at RUE DE LA LYS (G.27.c.2.2 1/2).

Private George E. L. Tolley (1895–1916)

George E. L. TOLLEY (1895–1916)

“George E. L. Tolley was born in Barton in 1895, the son of Edward Tolley (born in Headington and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 23 October 1859) and Mary Jane White (born at the White Horse on the London Road and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 28 August 1861). His parents were married (probably in haste) at St Andrew’s Church, at the respective ages of 20 and 19, on 9 May 1880 and had the following children:

* Edward Albert (also known as Albert Edward) Tolley (privately baptised on 13 August 1880, died aged 2½, buried at St Andrew’s churchyard on 6 January 1883)
* Percival Charles Tolley (born in Old Headington 12 March 1883 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 29 April 1883)
* Sarah Maria Tolley (born in Old Headington on 4 May 1887 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 11 September 1887)
* Edith Tolley (born in Barton on 19 December 1890 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 11 May 1890)
* Thomas Tolley (born in Old Headington on 9 October 1892 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 27 November 1892)
* George E. L. Tolley (born in Barton on 23 August 1895 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 24 November 1895)
* Alice Tolley (born in Old Headington in c.1897)
* Edward Tolley (born in Old Headington on 14 January 1904 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 6 March 1904).

In the 1881 census the family can be seen living in Old Headington (probably in Old High Street, and Edward’s father is a brewer’s drayman (which may explain how he got to meet his wife, who was the daughter of Daniel White, landlord of the White Horse on the London Road) and his mother a dressmaker. They still had the same jobs in 1891, but were living in Church Lane.

By 1901 they had moved again, to one of the cottages between the Priory and the Black Boy in Old High Street: George’s father was now a mason’s labourer, and his mother still a dressmaker. George was a 5-year-old “scholar”: he would almost certainly have attended Old Headington Infant School, which had recently moved into an old building behind the present St Andrew’s School.

George’s father Edward died in Old Headington at the age of 46, and was buried at Headington Cemetery on 24 February 1906. The 1911 census shows George’s mother as a widow of 49, earning her living by dressmaking in Western (now Holyoake Road). George (15) was now a printer’s labourer, as was his brother Thomas (18).

Poppy In the First World War George Tolley served as a Private in the 2nd/4th Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Service No: 3022). He was aged only 20 when he was killed in action in France on 19 July 1916, and is buried in the Laventie Military Cemetery, La Gorgue ( II. D. 6). He is listed on the roll of honour of St Andrew’s Church in Old Headington.
After the War

Tolley’s mother died at 1 Holyoake Road and was buried in Headington Cemetery on 7 February 1927. Miss Tolley (presumably one of George’s sisters) was still living in that house in 1962.”

Initials: G E L
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Unit Text: 2nd/4th Bn.
Date of Death: 19/07/1916
Service No: 3022
Additional information: Son of Mrs. M. J. Tolley, of I, Western Rd., Headington, Oxon.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: II. D. 6.

Name: George Tolley
Residence: Oxford
Death Date: 19 Jul 1916
Enlistment Location: Headington Quarry, Oxon
Rank: Private
Regiment: Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
Battalion: 2/4th Battalion.
Number: 3022
Type of Casualty: Killed in action

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