Build up to the Somme


Spring casualties

During Spring 1916, the focus in Europe had been on the French defence against the German offensive at Verdun.

The British and Commonwealth forces were busy preparing for the major attack now known as the Battle of the Somme. This included digging extensive tunnels to place huge explosives under the German positions.

There was a calm before the storm. The Richmond war memorial on Whittaker Avenue records the names of eight men from the local area who died in April 1916 on the Western Front in Europe as well as in Africa, the Middle East, and India.

John A Bodsworth, East Surrey Regiment. Died of wounds in base hospital at Calais.
Henry James Burrows, East Surrey Regiment. Died of disease in India.
Alfred John Keith D’Arcy, Canadian Infantry. Died of wounds received at St Eloi.
Cecil Herbert Julius, East Lancashire Regiment. Killed in action in Mesopotamia.
Bernard Pitt, Border Regiment. Commemorated on Arras Memorial.
Harry Fullerton, Royal Army Medical Corp. Buried in Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery, France.
Cecil Roy Terraneau, Royal Naval Air Service. Commemorated on Nairobi Memorial, Kenya.
Thomas Holland Thompson, East Surrey Regiment. Buried in Baghdad North Gate Cemetery, Iraq.


Obituary from the Richmond & Twickenham Times, 10 June 1916

You can find out more about these men and their links to Richmond on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

Using research on the war memorial completed by the Roll of Honour website, we calculated that between 1 July and 18 November, the duration of the Somme, 103 men were killed. That is 73% of all the local men who died that year, highlighting the impact the Somme was to have on the people of Britain.

Note for teachers: As part of the centenary commemorations, the borough has placed memorials in each of the six cemeteries where casualties were buried. A visit and research into these can be included in the Local History curriculum topic. Online resources are available to research the servicemen who died. Museum of Richmond is also launching an enquiry workshop for Yrs 7 – 9, focusing on six local men who were killed during 1916. The session uses real and replica material to retell the stories of those men and their families. You can find out more information here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s