Outside St Peter's Church Inside St Peter's Church

The Northbourne War Memorial

The Fallen

To commemorate 100 years since the start of the First World War, on 11th November 2014 members of the 2410 (Didcot) Squadron Air Cadets led an Armistice Day Service at which they presented the results of their research into the lives of those mentioned on the Northbourne War Memorial:

 

Private Robert Bosher

Robert Bosher served with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment. He would have seen action at the Battle of St Quentin and Battle of Rosieres during March 1918, the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918, and the Third Battle of Aisne in May 1918.

The Germans selected the Aisne region for one of the major strikes as success here would leave the German army at the edge of Paris and hopefully lead to the capitulation of the French army. As was now typical of warfare on the Western Front a massive bombardment of the enemy lines preceded the attack. In this case over 400 pieces of artillery were engaged against Allied lines, causing devastation and inflicting many casualties in this instance. The bombardment was assisted by the use of poison gas, inflicting many casualties.

It was during this last battle that Robert Bosher was wounded. He was transported back to England, where he died of his wounds on 7th July, at home, aged 41. Private Robert Bosher is the only serviceman mentioned on the Northbourne War Memorial to have a memorial in England. He is buried at St Andrew’s Church, East Hagbourne.

 

Private William Bosley

William Bosley served with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment. During 1917 and the first quarter of 1918 Willaim Bosley would have witnessed the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line and seen action in the Battle of Pilckem and the Battle of Langemarck.

In 1918, the opening of the Battle of St Quentin was a colossal German offensive launched on 21st March, following the largest bombardment ever seen on the Western Front. William Bosley would have also been involved in the Battle of Rosieres a few days later. The first Battle of Arras commenced on 28th March. The last main German attack occurred on the 30th. Another division of German troops launched an attack towards Amiens. This was the first Battle of Villers-Brettoneux. It was during this battle that William Bosley was killed. His age is unknown.

 

Corporal Ernest Brind

Ernest Brind served with the 19th Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery. The Royal Garrison Artillery developed from fortress-based artillery located on British coasts. From 1914, when it had little in the way of heavy artillery, it grew into a very large component of the British Forces.

Ernest Brind would have been stationed some way behind the front line with his unit, using large calibre guns and howitzers to target the enemy. These guns had immense destructive power. The Germans would have retaliated with their artillery.

Ernest Brind was wounded and died on 7th May 1917. His age is unknown.

 

Private Hugh Dixon

Hugh Dixon served in the 2nd Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment. During 1917, Hugh Dixon is likely to have been involved in the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line. He also saw action in the Battle of Pilckem Ridge that took place at the end of July and beginning of August. It was the opening battle of ‘Third Ypres’. The artillery bombardment, of unprecedented scale, culminated in a stunning crescendo at the moment of assault, on 31st July. The battle, stopped because of exceptionally bad weather, resumed on 16th August. There was little allied success at the Battle of Langemarck. The British bombardment failed to destroy German batteries and field defences.

Hugh Dixon was wounded in this battle and died of his wounds on 18th August. He was aged 29.

 

Private Hubert Forrest

Hubert Forrest served in the 5th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment. He saw action in the Battle of Albert in July 1916, which began the first two weeks of the Anglo-French offensive operations in the Battle of the Somme. The Battle of Pozieres was a two-week struggle for the French village and the ridge on which it stands. This happened during the middle stages of the 1916 Battle of the Somme.

Hubert Forrest died of wounds received during the Battle of Le Transloy on 4th October 1916, aged 26.

 

Private Stanley Hillier

Stanley Hillier served with the 8th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment. He fought in the Battle of Aubers Ridge in May 1915. This battle was part of the British contribution to the Second Battle of Artois, a Franco-British offensive which was intended to exploit the German diversion of troops to the Eastern Front.

Stanley Hillier was killed in action on the opening day of the Battle of Loos, 25th September, the largest British offensive mounted in 1915. He was aged 18.

 

Corporal Albert Keats

Albert Keats served in the 1st Battalion Royal Fusiliers. He would have seen action in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917. This was a military engagement fought primarily as part of the opening phase of the British-led Battle of Arras, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.

Vimy Ridge is northeast of Arras on the west edge of the Douai Plains and provides a natural unobstructed view for very many miles in all directions. The battle took place from 9th to 12th April. Albert Keats was wounded in this battle and died of his wounds on 16th April 1917. His age is unknown.

 

Private Arthur Keep

Arthur Keep served in the 1st Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment. He saw action in the Battle of Delville Wood, between July and September 1916, which was a series of engagements in the Battle of the Somme. Delville Wood was a thick tangle of trees, mostly oak and birch, with dense hazel thickets, intersected by grassy ridges.

Arthur Keep was killed in action on the second day of the Battle of the Ancre, 14th November 1916. He was aged 24.

 

Private Walter Stroud

Walter Stroud served in the 1 st Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment. He would have seen action during the German attack on Vimy Ridge, in the Battle of Albert, the Battle of Bazentin and the Battle of Pozieres. He saw action in the Battle of the Ancre Heights. This battle was the continuation of action by the Reserve Army. British possession of the heights would deprive the German 1st Army of observation towards Albert to the south-west and give the British observation north over the Ancre valley to the German positions.

Walter Stroud was wounded during this battle and died of his wounds on 11th January 1917.

 

Able Seaman William Wallace

William Wallace served with the Royal Navy on HMS Tipperary, which was sunk by enemy fire at the Battle of Jutland. He died together with the rest of the ship’s company on 1st June 1916, aged 26.

The captain of HMS Tipperary, Captain Wintour, had been aware of a shadowy line of ships on a converging course, unable to tell whether they were friend or foe. Eventually he challenged, with point-blank fire being returned immediately. The bridge was hit and Tipperary burst into flames.

 

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St Peter's Church, Newlands Avenue, Didcot, Oxfordshire. OX11 8PY
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© 2013 Keith Mintern