THE FOLLOWING MEN FROM CHIPPING NORTON AND OVER NORTON DIED ON THE SOMME             BETWEEN 1st JULY AND 11th NOVEMBER 1916


SERGEANT FREDERICK ALLEN

He was born in 1895, the only son of Elizabeth Allen of 18, London Road, Chipping Norton, where he lived with his grandfather and mother and worked as a porter. He enlisted into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment as a Private at the outbreak of war and was posted to the 1st Battalion in France on 7th April 1915. He was appointed to Lance Corporal and on 27th April 1915 he was wounded in action during the Battle of St Julien, a phase of the Second Battle of Ypres, one of 517 killed, missing and wounded from the Battalion. After recovery he joined the 11th (Service) Battalion, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment on its arrival in France in July 1915 and was promoted Sergeant. 

On 15th July 1916, during the Somme Offensive, the Battalion, as part of 112 Brigade were ordered to clear the village of Poziere, their part of the operation was to take up tools and assist in consolidating the ground taken by the 8th East Lancshire  and 6th Bedfordshire Battalions. The Brigade advanced 0920 under an intense artillery bombardment. Pozieres was reported thinly defended with no wire to impede progress. However the Brigade was held up by intense machine gun fire and was immobilized. Heavy shelling added to the difficulties and the Battalion took 270 casualties including Sergeant Allen, who was killed in action on 16th July 1916. His body was never recovered from the battlefield and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Monument. He was aged 21.

PRIVATE PHILLIP CHARLES BENFIELD

 He was born in September 1889, the son of Charles Benfield, a haulier and his wife Mary of West Street, Chipping Norton. The family later moved to Over Norton and Phillip worked foe the County Council as a road mender. 

He enlisted into the 2/1st, Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars in Oxford December 1914, later transferring  as a Private into the 6th (Service) Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, joining them in France in early 1916.As part of the 20th (Light) Division, they saw action on the Somme in the Battle of Deville Wood between 15th July and 3rd September 1916 and the Battle of Guillemont between 3rd and 6th September, in which the Battalion captured all their objectives. They then took part in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette between 15th and 22nd September and the Battle of Morval from 25th to 28th September. They the took part in The Battle of Le Transloy, going into action on 7th October 1916, a period of fighting in terrible weather in which the heavy, clinging, chalky Somme mud and the freezing, flooded battlefield became as formidable an enemy as the Germans. The Battalion captured the Germans first trench line and then took the second line and consolidated their postions despite heavy machine gun fire and counter-attacks. Private Benfield was killed in action on 7th October 1916 during this attack and his body never recovered. He was aged 27, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial for those with no known grave

RIFLEMANMJOHN BURDEN

Hewas born in April 1888,to parents Thomas Burden, a builder's foreman and clerk and his wife Sarah, of 1, Rock Hill, Chipping Norton, At the time of his enlistment was boarding in Upper Clapton, London where he worked as a timber merchant's clerk.

He joined the London Regiment in December 1915 as a Rifleman, joining the 1st/5th (City of London) Battalion (London Rifle Brigade), The London Regiment in France in June 1915. As part of the 169th Brigade in the 56th (London) Division. they saw action on the first day of the Somme Offensive, The Battle of Albert, on 1st July 1916, taking part in a diversionary attack on Gommecourt. On 9th September they fought in the Battle of Ginchy and the Battle of Flers-Courcelette between 15th and 22nd September and the Battle of Morval 25th to 28th September. The Battalion then took part in the Battle of Le Transloy, from 1st October 1916, a period of fighting in terrible weather in which the heavy, clinging, chalky Somme mud and the freezing, flooded battlefield became as formidable an enemy as the Germans. The British gradually pressed forward, still fighting against numerous counter-attacks, in an effort to have the front line on higher ground.   Rifleman Burden was killed in action on 9th October 1916, his body never recovered from the Battlefield. He was aged 30 and is commemorated on the Thiepval Monument for soldiers with no known grave.

PRIVATE FREDERICK JAMES GOODMAN

He was born in 1878, the son of William Goodman, a carrier and his wife  Esther of Back Lane, Chipping Norton. In 1901 he was lodging in Thame where he worked as a ropemaker. He married Ellen Cartar White, a widow, of Thame in 1903. He lived in Summertown, Oxford with his two children, Charles and Ivy, and stepson Henry and worked as a tent maker.

He enlisted into The 6th(Service) Battalion,  The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry as a Private on its formation was in Oxford in September 1914, one of Kitchener's "new armies" He was posted to D Company and on 22nd July 1915 the Battalion landed at Boulogne as part of the 60th Brigade in 20th (Light) Division. Their first action was at the Battle of Mount Sorrel, 2nd-13th June 1916, where they fought along side the Canadians to recapture a hill with excellent views across the Ypres Salient. On 3rd September 1916 the Battalion were part of an attack on the village of Guillemont, a phase of the 1916 Somme Offensive. They advanced from their trenches at 1200, following other Battalions, who had secured the first objective, a sunken road. The 6th Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry pushed through this to take the next sunken road. Held up by heavy machine gun fire they suffered 280 casualties including Private Goodman, who was killed in action on 3rd September 1916. his body never being recovered from the battlefield. He was aged 38 and is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial for soldiers with no known grave.The village was eventually taken 3 days later.

PRIVATE BERTIE CHARLES THOMAS HARDING

He was born in March 1896,  the son of John Harding, a groom and his wife Louise of 28, Rock Hill, Chipping Norton, Before the war he had been working as a groom in  Lower Slaughter. 

He enlisted into The Gloucestershire Regiment as a Private in Cirencester and landed with the 8th (Service) Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment  in France on 18th July 1915. As part of the 19th (Western) Division they took part in the opening action of the Somme Offensive, the Battle of Albert on 1st July 1916, capturing La Boisselle and were involved in the Battles of High Wood, Pozieres and Ancre during that campaign. The Battalion were holding front line trenches in Ovillers during the Battle of Le Transloy, one of the last phases of the Somme Offensive from 25th October 1916. Private Harding was wounded in action when his trench was hit by a shell. He died from his wounds on 1st November 1916 in a Casualty Clearing Station. He was aged 20 and is buried in Pucheville British Cemetery. 

His younger brother Reginald was killed in action in 1916 as well.

PRIVATE FRANK HITCHMAN

He was born in April 1898, the son of William Hitchman, a farm labourer and Fanny his wife Fanny of 6, Guildhall Place, Chipping Norton.

He joined theThe Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in Oxford  and was posted to the 5th (Service) Battalion, The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in France on 15th July 1915. The  Battalion joined the Somme Offensive during the Battle of Delville Wood from 15th July 1916. On 23rd August they occupied trenches on the edge of Delville Wood. On the 24th they attacked and captured German trenches in the wood. They took 200 German prisoners and killed or wounded 300 others. The Battalion lost 41 men killes in action on 24th August 1916, including Private Hitchman. He was aged 18 and is buried in Delville Wood Cemetery in Longueval France.

LANCE CORPORALROBERT HYDE

He was born in Chadlington in 1882,  the son of Richard Hyde, a farm labourer, and his wife Emma Hyde. The family later moved to 35, Rock Hill, Chipping Norton,  He married Susan Smith in 1903 and lived in Southside, Hook Norton with their two young sons, Robert and William and worked as an ironstone digger.  

He joined the Coldstream Guards in February 1915 and arrived in France on 3rd October 1915, joining the 3rd Battalion, The Coldstream Guards the Guards Division as a Privat, later appointed Lance Corporal. They were in action in The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, part of the Somme Offensive, from 15th September 1916. The Battalion attacked German lines near Ginchy at 0600 on 15th September, supported by the first use of tanks, and despite heavy machine gun fire took both the first and second German trench lines and repulsed a German counter-attack. Lance Corporal Hyde was killed in action during the attack. He was aged 34 and is buried in Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval.  

His brother Albert died in 1918 when HMS Ruby was lost.His widow Susan remarried in 1919.

PRIVATE LEONARD LANGFORD

He was born in North Leigh in April 1887 to parents John Langford, a farm labourer his wife Emily. He later moved with his family to Boulters barn in Churchill, where he worked as a shepherd. He enlisted as a Private into the 4th (Reserve Battalion), The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in Chipping Norton at the outbreak of the war. After basic training with them he was transferred to the 10th (Service) Battalion, The Gloucester Regiment. after further training on Salisbury Plain, he arrived in France with the Battalion on 9th August 1915 and came under the command of the 1st Division. They saw action in the Battle of Loos from 24th September 1915. On the 1st July 1916 they took part in the Battle of Albert, the opening phase of the Somme Offensive. They went on to be involved in further actions on the Somme between Juky and Seotember 1916, The Battle of Bazentin, The Battle of Pozieres, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette and The Battle of Morval. In November 1916 the Battalion were holding front line trenches on the Somme when Private Langford was wounded by a shell. He died of his wounds at a Casualty Clearing stationon 20th November 1916. He was aged 29 and is buried in Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension. 

At the time of his death his parents were living at 67, Rock Hill, Chipping Norton.

PRIVATE WILLIAM ROLAND MEADES

was serving as a Private in the 10th(Service) Battalion, The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry when 

He was born in March 1878, the son of William and Ann Meades. He lived at 23, Distons Lane, Chipping Norton and worked as a domestic groom.  

He had enlisted into the 5th Reserve Cavalry Regiment in Oxford, he was transferred to the 6th (Service) Battalion, The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry as a Private, joining them in France on 17th June 1915. On 30th July 1915, as part of the 14th (Light) Division they held the line near Hooge, 2 miles outside Ypres, when they had the misfortune to be attacked by the Germans using flamethrowers for the first time. He then transferred the 10th(Service) Battalion, The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, and as part of the 21st Division, took part in the opening phase of the Somme, the Battle of Albert, from 1st July 1916, during which Private Meades was wounded in action. He died of his wounds in hospital on 10th July 1916. He was aged 36 and is buried in St Sever Cemetery in Rouen.

His younger brother Mowbray died as a German POW in 1918.

 LANCE CORPORAL JOHN ALEXANDER SHERRETT

He was born in October 1890, the son of James and Mary Sherrett of 25, High Street Chipping Norton, where his father ran a tailors and outfitters shop. He was  working as a motorcycle tester and was a member of the Norton Defence Rifle Club. On 13th February 1913 he embarked on the Orient Line's SS Orama, in London, bound for Sydney.His final destination was New Zealand where hoped to be a farmer, although when he enlisted he was working as a chauffeur for Mr E Newman MP.

He enlisted into the Wellington Regiment on 19th October 1915, and promoted to Corporal the following month. On 8th January 1916, he embarked on the troopship Maunganui sailing from Wellington to Suez, Egypt as part of 9th Reinforcements Wellington Infantry of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He joined the 2nd Battalion, The Wellington Regiment on 19th March 1916, reverting to the ranks and serving in B Company. On 8th April 1916 they embarked on the Troopship Llandovery Castle, below, bound for France. He was appointed Lance Corporal in August 1916. On 2nd September 1916 the Battalion left its billets and marched to the Somme region. They took up positions in Check and Carlton front line trenches near Fricourt preparing for an attack on German lines. Lance-Corporal Sherret was killed by a German shell that hit his trench position on 14th September 1916. He was aged 25 and is buried in Flatiron Copse Cemetery in the Somme. 

 

PRIVATE TOM TRACE

He was born in June 1897, the son of Thomas Trace, a gamekeeper and his wife Ruth of Over Norton, having been born at Showell Farm outside Chipping Norton.

He enlisted into the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in Oxford in late 1914 and was posted to the 2nd Battalion, the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry on 17th December 1915 to reinforce the Battalion after the engagements of 1914 and 1915 that had ripped the heart out of the old regular army. On 29th July 1916 they moved up to the front line, relieving the 2nd Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry, to prepare to attack German positions in Delville Wood, as part of the 1916 Somme Offensive. They were involved in the bloody battle for Delville Wood, a thick tangle of trees, with dense hazel thickets, intersected by grassy rides, to the east of Longueval, on the Somme. On 30th July 1916 at 0445 they attacked German positions but were beaten back by heavy machine gun fire and took the Battalion took heavy casualties of 217 killed, missing or wounded, including Private Tom Trace who was reported missing, presumed to have been killed in action on 30th July 1916. His body was never recovered from the battlefield. He was aged 19 and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, for soldiers with no known grave.