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

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1916, JULY 19th – THE BATTLE OF FROMELLES

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.

 KILLED IN ACTION JULY 19th 1916

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

1916-07-19

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).

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Private Sidney Butler

Name: BUTLER, SIDNEY
Initials: S
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Unit Text: 2nd/4th Bn.
Age: 19
Date of Death: 19/07/1916
Service No: 202028
Additional information: Son of Harry and Sarah Annie Butler, of Oxford Rd., Kidlington, Oxon.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 83 to 85.
Memorial: LOOS MEMORIAL

Name: Sidney Butler
Birth Place: Kidlington, Oxon
Residence: Oxford
Death Date: 19 Jul 1916
Enlistment Location: Kidlington, Oxon
Rank: Private
Regiment: Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
Battalion: 2/4th Battalion.
Number: 202028
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theater of War: Aldershot

Is Sidney related to the Butlers below?

Ernest James BUTLER (c.1895–1916)

Ernest James Butler was born in Oxford in c.1895, the son of James Butler (born in Kidlington in c.1872/3) and his wife Emily Jakeman Bryan (born in Headington on 11 October 1869 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 28 November 1869; she was the illegitimate daughter of Sarah Bryan, who obtained an order of affiliation against George Jakeman on 22 January 1870).

Ernest’s parents were married in Kidlington on 4 June 1892 and had three children:

* Percival Butler (born in Kidlington in the last quarter of 1893)
* Ernest James Butler (born in Oxford in the last quarter of 1895)
* Sidney Butler (born in Oxford in the first quarter of 1900).

Ernest’s father was a cattle man on a farm in Kidlington until at least 1901.

By 1911, Ernest’s father was employed as a builder’s carter, and the family was living at 73 St Mary’s Road in East Oxford. Ernest (15) was then working as a page boy in a refreshment department. At some point between 1911 and 1916 the family moved up to Headington, where they lived at 59 Windmill road in Quarry parish.

Poppy In the First World War Butler served as a Private in the 5th Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment (Service No. 10868), and was killed in action in Mesopotamia (Iraq) at the age of 20 on 9 April 1916. He was buried in the Amara War Cemetery (XVI. K. 12). He is listed on the stone plaque in the porch of Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry, and the words: “And of Ernest James, son of the above killed in action in Mesopotamia April 9th 1916. Aged 20 years” were added to his parents’ gravestone.
After the War

Butler’s parents continued to live at 59 Windmill Road. His father James died there at the age of 53 and was buried at Holy Trinity churchyard on 26 March 1921.

In 1922 Ernest’s widowed mother Emily Butler opened a grocer’s shop in her house, which continued to be listed at 59 Windmill Road in Kelly’s Directory right up until 1954. She died aged 84 on 24 January that year, and was buried with her husband.

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