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Charles THEYER Funeral Procession of 1920


The back of the photograph shown below states: "Funeral of Charles THAYER died in battle aged 20.  Buried at Chapel Milton Congregational Chapel".  (This should be Chinley Independent Chapel).  However Steve Morse tells me that:  `Soldiers died in the Great War` has - Grenadier Guards - 2nd Bn THEYER, Charles, born - Horsley Derbys, enlisted - Buxton, 24645, Gdsn, k in a F & F , 25/9/16.

He goes on to say: `I cannot find any THAYER.  It would seem that this is your man - but he could not have been buried in two places.  Is it possible that the Chapel info was actually a memorial service?  There are many instances of men having memorial services.  It may even be in the local paper.  I would check there first to see if anything has been reported. If the man was buried at the Chapel there would be a CWGC headstone there.  In this case he would have died of wounds or illness.  [There is no stone at the chapel therefore this must have been a memorial service].

The Guards attacked  in the Battle of Morval, 25th to 28th September 1916 as part of The Somme Battle. They took part in a tactical incident - Capture of Lesbouefs along with 6th Division.  The Guards were part of XIV Corps, Fourth Army. 

Below the photograph is an account of the battle that Charles THEYER may have died in.

The 2nd Bn , part of the Guards Division attacked on the morning of 25th September. They were tasked to clear Lesbouefs.  The 2nd Bn were part of the first wave.  The Guards had a long advance of 3600 yards, north east from Ginchy to and through the village of Lesboeufs. The first objective was a system of well bombarded trenches 800 yards ahead on either side of the road.

Keeping up well behind their barrage, three battalions of Coldstream, one of Grenadiers (2nd) picked their routes forward across the crater field in which in increasing numbers they found small parties of Bavarians who had survived the British Shellfire. The danger for the Guards Battalions lay on the flanks (A.H. Farrar-Hockley, The Somme, paged 237/238)

On the right, machine-guns opened a hot fire from straight trench, unsubdued - unmenaced - by 6th Division. On the left, Pint Trench, adjoining Ale and Hop Alleys and Lager Lane, remained in enemy hands.  The enemy could fire directly down on the Guards.  They shot well !  None of the tanks available to destroy the flanking trenches did so - seven of the ten got to the start line, but lost direction and for this the infantry paid heavily. (First use of tanks ever)

To escape this fire the leading men doubled (ran) across the rest of No Mans Land in a charge on the enemy trench.  Three quarters of the officers and two-thirds of the men were killed or wounded.  Another major problem was that the Triangle, twin fortresses to the Quadrilateral stood slap bang in their way.  One of the Guards CO's realising that the tanks could not help, got out of the trench and hunting horn in hand  rallied the men. Amazingly he was not killed and the attack pressed home. By this time though the Battalions were decimated. The CO won a VC for his action that day. 

The Grenadiers ended up attacking the Quadrilateral alone and unsupported.  The Coldstreams had lost direction and were not on the Grenadiers flank.  They presumed that they had taken their objectives.  The Grenadiers advanced into a gap in the line with the Germans still in possession of the 'captured' strongpoint.  By 11am the strongpoint was taken but a high price had been paid. 

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