Monday, 8 November 2010

Blackmore: Battle of The Somme

Written by Bruno Giordan.

On 1st July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive. 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 make some progress. However, the German army resisted tenaciously, and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. Three months later, at the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The original objective had been to take the village on the first day. Not the first, but perhaps one of the clearest examples of "lions led by donkeys".

William Edward Rudling was baptised on 27th April 1879 at St Michael’s Church, Thorpe-le-Soken, son of William Rudling, painter, and Sarah. The 1901 census lists him as grocer’s assistant living in Church Street with John Martin and family, over the shop that is now Longbeam Cottage. He enlisted as private in the Suffolk Regiment 2nd Battalion, and died on 16th August 1916, aged 38. There is no record that he married.

Herbert Game was the son of Charles Game and Martha, born, like his parents, in Cockfield, Suffolk. In 1911 the family had been living in Blackmore for around eight years. Charles’ job was labourer, and Herbert’s is shown as “Cow Boy”. He volunteered as private in the East Surrey Regiment 9th Battalion, and first saw service in France in August 1915. He was killed in action on the same day as William Rudling, 16th August 1916, aged 25.

Ernest Martin was born in Blackmore in 1880, the son of Charles Martin of Great Baddow, the proprietor of steam thrashing machines, and his wife Emma. In 1901 they lived on the Green, near the pond. He enlisted as private in the Essex Regiment 11th Battalion, and was wounded in June 1915. He returned to duty, but died on 27th September 1916, age 36. He has no known grave.

Arthur John Nash was baptised 6th August 1882 at High Ongar. He was the son of John Henry and Eliza Nash. The father’s occupation is blank, which suggests his death, and this is confirmed by the marriage in 1884 of Eliza to William Chumbley of Blackmore. Arthur enlisted as Private in the Essex Regiment 2nd Battalion, and was killed in action, a little after the capture of Thiepval, on 23rd October 1916, age 34.

All are commemorated on the Theipval memorial.

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