THIEPVAL MEMORIAL TO THE MISSING

 

 

 

Somme

 

 

 

France

 

 

 

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Please click here for photographs of some of the servicemen commemorated on the Memorial

 

Building of the Thiepval Memorial, early 1930s. Used with the permission of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

 

Dedication of the Thiepval Memorial, 31 July 1932. Used with the permission of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

 

The Prince of Wales and Sir Fabian Ware (left), Vice–Chairman, Imperial War Graves Commission, at the dedication of the Thiepval Memorial, 31 July 1932. Used with the permission of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

 

The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII with Albert Lebrun, President of France at the inauguration of the memorial, 31 July 1932.

 

 

 

 

Please click here for photographs of some of the servicemen commemorated on the Memorial

Location Information

The Thiepval Memorial will be found on the D73, next to the village of Thiepval, off the main Bapaume to Albert road (D929).

Each year a major ceremony is held at the memorial on 1 July.

Visiting Information

The Panel numbers (or Pier and Face) quoted at the end of each entry relate to the panels dedicated to the Regiment served with. In some instances where a casualty is recorded as attached to another Regiment, his name may alternatively appear within their Regimental Panel (or Pier and Face). Please refer to the on-site Memorial Register Introduction to determine the alternative panel numbers (or Pier and Face) if you do not find the name within the quoted Panels (or Pier and Face).

Historical Information

On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July. Attacks north and east continued throughout October and into November in increasingly difficult weather conditions. The Battle of the Somme finally ended on 18 November with the onset of winter.

In the spring of 1917, the German forces fell back to their newly prepared defences, the Hindenburg Line, and there were no further significant engagements in the Somme sector until the Germans mounted their major offensive in March 1918.

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial also serves as an Anglo-French Battle Memorial in recognition of the joint nature of the 1916 offensive and a small cemetery containing equal numbers of Commonwealth and French graves lies at the foot of the memorial.

The memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was built between 1928 and 1932 and unveiled by the Prince of Wales, in the presence of the President of France, on 1 August 1932 (originally scheduled for 16 May but due to the death of French President Doumer the ceremony was postponed until August).

The dead of other Commonwealth countries, who died on the Somme and have no known graves, are commemorated on national memorials elsewhere.

Shot at Dawn

Shot at Dawn: 8871 Private H. T. Farr, 1st Bn. West Yorkshire Regiment, executed for cowardice 18/10/1916.

Shot at Dawn: SR/9629 Private C. W. F. Skilton, 22nd Bn. Royal Fusiliers, executed for desertion 26/12/1916.

Shot at Dawn: 40806 Private P. Cairnie, 1st Bn. Royal Scots Fusiliers, executed for desertion 28/12/1916.

The mass pardon of 306 British Empire soldiers executed for certain offences during the Great War was enacted in section 359 of the Armed Forces Act 2006, which came into effect on royal assent on 8 November 2006.

Victoria Cross Recipients

ERIC NORMAN FRANKLAND BELL

Rank: Captain, Date of Death:01/07/1916, Age: 20, Regiment/Service: Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers 9th Bn. attd. 109th Light T.M. Bty. , Awards: V C, Panel Reference Pier and Face 4 D and 5 B.,Son of Capt. E. H. Bell, of 22, University Rd., Bootle, Liverpool. Native of Enniskillen, Ireland.

Citation: An extract from "The London Gazette", dated 26th Sept., 1916, records the following: "For most conspicuous bravery. He was in command of a Trench Mortar Battery, and advanced with the Infantry in the attack. When our front line was hung up by enfilading machine gun fire Captain Bell crept forward and shot the machine gunner. Later, on no less than three occasions, when our bombing parties, which were clearing the enemy's trenches, were unable to advance, he went forward alone and threw Trench Mortar bombs among the enemy. When he had no more bombs available he stood on the parapet, under intense fire, and used a rifle with great coolness and effect on the enemy advancing to counter-attack. Finally he was killed rallying and reorganising infantry parties which had lost their officers. All this was outside the scope of his normal duties with his battery. He gave his life in his supreme devotion to duty."

 

WILLIAM BUCKINGHAM

Rank: Private, Service No: 6276, Date of Death: 15/09/1916, Age: 29, Regiment/Service: Leicestershire Regiment 1st Bn. , Award: V C, Panel Reference Pier and Face 2 C and 3 A.,Son of Mrs. A. Buckingham, of 35, York St., Bedford.

Citation: An extract from "The London Gazette" dated 28th April, 1915, records the following:-"For conspicuous acts of bravery and devotion to duty in rescuing and rendering aid to the wounded whilst exposed to heavy fire, especially at Neuve-Chapelle on 10th and 12th March1915.

 

GEOFFREY St. GEORGE SHILLINGTON CATHER

Rank: Lieutenant, Date of Death: 02/07/1916, Age: 25, Regiment/Service: Royal Irish Fusiliers Adjt. 9th Bn. , Awards: V C, Panel Reference Pier and Face 15 A, Son of the late Mr. R. G. Cather and of Mrs. M. M. Cather, of Limpsfield, Surrey.

Citation: An extract from "The London Gazette," dated 8th Sept., 1916, records the following: "For most conspicuous bravery. From 7 p.m. till midnight he searched 'No Man's Land', and brought in three wounded men. Next morning at 8 a.m. he continued his search, brought in another wounded man, and gave water to others, arranging for their rescue later. Finally, at 10.30 a.m., he took out water to another man, and was proceeding further on when he was himself killed. All this was carried out in full view of the enemy, and under direct machine gun fire and intermittent artillery fire. He set a splendid example of courage and self sacrifice".

 

WILLIAM MARINER

Rank: Rifleman, Service No: A/2052, Date of Death: 01/07/1916, Age: 34, Regiment/Service: King's Royal Rifle Corps "B" Coy. 2nd Bn. , Awards: V C, Panel Reference Pier and Face 13 A and 13 B., Son of Mrs. Alice Wignall, of 18, Fletcher St., Lower Broughton, Manchester.

Citation: An extract from "The London Gazette" dated 23rd June, 1915, records the following:-"During a violent thunderstorm on the night of 22nd May, 1915, he left his trench near Cambrin, and crept out through the German wire entanglements till he reached the emplacement of a German machine gun which had been damaging our parapets and hindering our working parties. After climbing on the top of the German parapet he threw a bomb in under the roof of the gun emplacement and heard some groaning and the enemy running away. After about a quarter of an hour he heard some of them coming back again, and climbed up on the other side of the emplacement and threw another bomb among them left-handed. He then lay still while the Germans opened a heavy fire on the wire entanglement behind him, and it was only after about an hour that he was able to crawl back to his own trench. Before starting out he had requested a serjeant to open fire on the enemy's trenches as soon as he had thrown his bombs. Rifleman Mariner was out alone for one and half hours carrying out this gallant work".

 

WILLIAM FREDERICK McFADZEAN

Rank: Rifleman, Service No: 18278, Date of Death: 01/07/1916, Age: 20, Regiment/Service: Royal Irish Rifles "C" Coy. 14th Bn. , Awards: V C, Panel Reference Pier and Face 15 A and 15 B., Son of William and Annie Pedlow McFadzean, of Rubicon, Cregagh, Belfast.

Citation: An extract from the London Gazette, dated 8th Sept., 1916, records the following:-"For most conspicuous bravery. While in a concentration trench and opening a box of bombs for distribution prior to an attack, the box slipped down into the trench, which was crowded with men, and two of the safety pins fell out. Private McFadzean, instantly realising the danger to his comrades, with heroic courage threw himself on the top of the bombs. The bombs exploded blowing him to pieces, but only one other man was injured. He well knew his danger, being himself a bomber, but without a moment's hesitation he gave his life for his comrades."

 

 

THOMAS ORDE LAWDER WILKINSON

Rank: Lieutenant, Date of Death: 05/07/1916, Age: 22, Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 7th Bn. , Awards: V C, Panel Reference Pier and Face 11 A., Son of Charles Orde Wilkinson and Edith Wilkinson, of Ardanoir, Foynes, Co. Limerick.

Citation: An extract from the London Gazette, dated 26th Sept., 1916, records the following:-"For most conspicuous bravery. During an attack, when a party of another unit was retiring without their machine-gun, Lieut. Wilkinson rushed forward, and, with two of his men, got the gun into action, and held up the enemy till they were relieved. Later, when the advance was checked during a bombing attack, he forced his way forward and found four or five men of different units stopped by a solid block of earth, over which the enemy was throwing bombs. With great pluck and promptness he mounted a machine-gun on the top of the parapet and dispersed the enemy bombers. Subsequently he made two most gallant attempts to bring in a wounded man, but at the second attempt he was shot through the heart just before reaching the man. Throughout the day he set a magnificent example of courage and self-sacrifice.

 

ALEXANDER YOUNG (V.C awarded during the Boer War)

Rank: Lieutenant, Date of Death: 19/10/1916, Age: 44, Regiment/Service: South African Infantry 4th Regt. , Awards: V C, Panel Reference Pier and Face 4 C., Son of the late William Young, of Ballinamana, Co. Galway.

Citation: An extract taken from the London Gazette dated 8th November, 1901 records the following; "Towards the close of the action at Ruiter's Kraal (South African War). on the 13th August, 1901, Sergeant-Major Young, with a handful of men, rushed some kopjes which were being held by the Boers. Sergeant Major Young then galloped on some 50 yards ahead of his party and closing with the enemy shot one of them and captured Commandant Erasmus, the latter firing at him three times at point blank range before being taken prisoner."