Regiment : 5th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment
Service number : 42237
Conflict : WW1
Date of death : Killed in action on 22nd September 1918
Buried : Epehy Wood Farm Cemetery, Epehy, France, Grave IV. D. 7.
Birthplace : Born and enlisted Bewdley
Memorial : Bewdley War Memorial
Credits : Additional information researched and transcribed by Simon Fielding. Cathedral roll of honour books researched by Sandra Taylor.
Additional information on the memorial: Pte. R. Berks. R.
Appears in the Worcester/Worcestershire Roll of Honour Book for army casualties located in Worcester Cathedral.
The 5th battalion, unlike the 8th battalion, did not take part in the first day’s actions on 18th September. Although not in the initial assault the 12th Division’s attack at Epehy on that day was led by 36th and 35th Brigades whilst the Royal Berkshires were in support with the 37th Brigade near the village of Guyencourt. German resistance in this sector too was fierce and by late afternoon their troops were still holding out at the northern end of Epehy. Casualties of the 35th Brigade had been very high and three companies of the 5th Royal Berkshires were brought in as reinforcements. Their first task was to help clear the village and when this was accomplished, to secure trenches near Tetard Wood on its eastern outskirts. The battalion’s performance here earned them recognition from the historian of the Fourth Army: “The 5th Royal Berkshire did especially good work and was fighting for most of the night.”
At midnight on 21st/22nd September the battalion went into action again to capture the section of the German line running through a strong point at Little Priel Farm, some 4000 yards due east of Epehy. Weather conditions were favourable and by 2.00am they had taken all objectives.
They were heavily shelled in these positions for most of the next day. The historian of 12th Division recorded their attack:
‘In excellent spirits and full of determination, the Berkshires made a brilliant bayonet charge, resulting in heavy fighting in and around Heythorp Post and Heythorpe Trench. All resistance was overcome and within an hour Little Priel Farm was captured. One officer and eighteen men were take prisoner, fifty dead counted about the position, and forty machine guns found in the ruins of the farm. In fact, to describe it as a post “bristling” with machine guns would be no exaggeration.’
Casualties for the period 18th – 30th September were reported as:
Officers killed 2nd Lt E.F. Bond, officers wounded 2nd Lts W.A. Buckingham, T.C. Enever, F.S. Hawkins, A.V. Saunders, D.M. Thompson, other ranks 250 killed, wounded or missing.
General Rawlinson’s personal farewell message to 12th Division, dated 2nd October 1918 contained the following tribute:
‘A long list of successes, including Morlancourt, Carnoy, Hardecourt, Maurepas and Nurlu, culminating in the capture of Epehy, constitutes a record which has seldom been equalled, and I wish to convey to every officer, NCO and man of the 12th Division my gratitude for the magnificent example they have set, and my warmest thanks for the invaluable service they have rendered.’
Source for additional information: Their Duty Done: The Kitchener Battalions of the Royal Berkshire Regiment 1918 pp. 50 – 53