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Friday 14 September 2012

Dulce et decorum est part 2

Hugh Dennis' maternal grandfather endured far worse experiences.
Godfrey Parker Hinnels of Bury St. Edmunds born 1896, the son of a law clerk joined the Suffolk Regiment. His younger brother Frank (1898) was killed at Gallipoli.

13th February 1917 Godfrey was shipped to France. 
WWI had become a stalemate around Arras. Godfrey and the Suffolks first task was to bury the dead from the actions of the first battle of Arras

April 9th - 14th 
23rd April - 7th May

The Suffolk Regiment was sent to Neuville Vitasse south-east of Arras. They arrived at the trenches in front of the Hindenburg Line.
The Suffolks were sent to use grenades as they advanced (4.45) fighting (bombing) their way along.
Brutal fighting employing specialist bayonet men and grenade throwers.
Within 3 hours, Godfrey and the Suffolks came within 200 yards of their objective, only to be forced to retreat!
Casualties - only some 350 out of 700 survived including Godfrey.

The Arras campaign - some 4000+ men were lost daily (5 weeks and 160 000 Allied losses). 

Next Godfrey and the Suffolks were sent to Belgium between Ypres and Passchendaele Ridge.
26th September 1/3 of the Suffolk battalion was 'lost'.

The remainder overwintered near Poperinge (Ypres). Here they found 'Toc H' Talbot House. It was set up by Chaplain Philip (Tubby) Clayton. 
An 'Everyman's Club' a green idyll - 
“All rank abandon, ye who enter here.”

Home comforts in the heart of the battlefield. There was a garden and the men were encouraged to do gardening as therapy.

Spring Offensive 1918
Godfrey is now in a new regiment the Lincolnshires. Sent to defend the village of Wijtschate, Heuvelland.

CO of the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) Douglas Haig issued a Special Order of the Day.

"There is no other course open to us but to fight it out.  Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement.  With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end.  The safety of our homes and the Freedom of mankind alike depend upon the conduct of each one of us at this critical moment."

(Signed) D. Haig F.M.
British Armies in France

General Headquarters
Tuesday, April 11th, 1918

16th April 1918
The Lincolnshires were attacked by Germans under the cover of dense fog. Hand-to-hand fighting ensued.
Lincolnshires lost some 3/4 of the Battalion. Godfrey survived - it was to be his last front-line service.
He returned to Bury St. Edmunds, married in 1927 and lived out his days. (1974)


ari_1965 said...

Gallipoli was such a slaughter. I have Makem and Clancy singing "Waltzing Matilda" on my iPod. I always get choked up at the bit when the big Turkish shell knocks him arse over heck.

I also have Davey Arthur and the Furies singing "Green Fields of France" on my iPod. It's good not to forget WWI.

westrly said...

Interesting...thank you :)