Who was just 19 years old, was killed in action at Gommecourt.
He fought with the 19th (County of London) Battalion (Queen Victoria's
Rifles) (Territorial Force), which was assigned to 169th Brigade
in 56th (1st London) Division.
His parents were: Frederick Rich and Helena Earthy.
1st of July, at the village of Gommecourt.
The 48th and 56th Divisions of the Allied third army were respectively
ordered to attack the Germans, who were firmly established on
the higher ground of the Gommecourt salient. The 48th were to
attack from the north and the 56th from the south, their object
being to meet up behind the village in order to surround it before
forcing a German surrender. The enemy trenches had been subject
to an intense artillery barrage for a week beforehand in order
to flatten the barbed-wire and destroy the enemy defensive positions;
this made the land heavily cratered. Coupled with the heavy rain
that had preceded the attack, the shallow valleys between the
armies became a quagmire.
The attack by Brigades of the 56th Division started at 07.30hrs
and was initially successful. Although many men were killed as
they slowly made their way to the enemy trenches, once there and
against fierce opposition, they forced through the German lines
and made for the rendezvous point with the 46th Division behind
the village. However the 46th Division could make no headway and
most of their men were killed trying to reach the enemy wire and
were eventually forced to retire.
This failure by the 48th Division allowed the Germans to devote
all of their strength to attacking the 7 invading Battalions of
the 56th Division who soon needed reinforcements and additional
supplies. However these could not be brought forward owing to
the intense artillery barrage that the Germans laid down on no-man's-land.
By late morning the position of the attacking Brigades was becoming
dire and casualties mounted steadily. By 16.00hrs the attacking
Battalions had been forced back into the first German trench and
by the evening their position was hopeless and those few who remained
alive struggled to return to their own trenches. Just before dusk
the last German counter-attack came and it was all over.
From the 56th Division, 7 battalions (about 5,300 men) had attacked
and over 1,700 men were dead; some 200, mainly wounded, were prisoners
of war and 2,300 were wounded, most of them still lying out in
No Man's land.
Overall on the Somme there were 58,000 casualties on this one
day, 21,000 of whom were killed.
Stanley Harry Earthy
Was around 36 years old when he died on the 3rd of September 1916.
That day his Battalion was in action at Guillemont. He fought
with the 6th Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment, which was
assigned to the 47th Irish Brigade in the 16th Irish Division.
Before the war, Stanley Harry had served with the East Surrey
Regiment in India, Aden and Malta.
His parents were: Owen Charles and Lucy Earthy.
3rd of September 1916, at the village of Guillemont.
The battle for the village had involved many Allied formations
attacking over many weeks. They first had had to fight to take
two heavily defended woods, which lay in the line of attack. After
bitter fighting the woods were taken by the allied forces in mid
July but the Germans defending the village, less than half a mile
away, could not be winkled out. Each time a bombardment was launched
the Germans retired to underground bunkers and tunnels and re-emerged
when it finished to cut down the attacking troops with machine
Fierce attacks continued throughout July and August and although
Allied troops several times succeeded in entering the village
outskirts they were invariably surrounded by the defenders who
emerged from their warren of tunnels causing their attackers to
retreat or surrender. Eventually the village was captured when
the advancing troops followed closely behind a slow rolling barrage
and managed to overwhelm the front line defences and then take
the rest of the village. The attack plan then called for an advance
by the Royal Irish Regiment up to the Maurepas-Ginchy road to
the immediate east of the village; this successful advance was
made to the sounds of their battalion pipers.
Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment lost all 14 officers and over
300 men in the attack to take Guillemont and two men from other
battalions of the 16th (Irish) Division were awarded the Victoria
Cross on September 3rd.
Corporal William Vaughn Earthy
Died on 28th October 1916. He was 27 years old and married.
He was with the 33rd Division, 98th Brigade, and 1st Battalion
His parents were: Henry Robert and Alice Julia Earthy.