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62650 Sergeant
HORACE FRANK ANDERSON
Royal Engineers

by

Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
2003. All Rights Reserved.

1. INTRODUCTION

The service papers of Sergeant Anderson were not available in files WO363 or WO364 at the Public Record Office at Kew, Richmond, Surrey. The details supplied in this narrative were extracted from Soldiers Died in the Great War, from A History of the 38th (Welsh) Division and from other published documents pertaining to the unit in which Anderson served during the Great War of 1914-1918.

2. EARLY LIFE AND FAMILY INFORMATION

The 1901 British Census indicates that Horace Frank Anderson was born in the Town of Oxford in the County of Oxfordshire in the year 1894. At the time of the 1901 Census, Anderson was a resident of the Small Pox Hospital in Rodbourne Cheney, Wiltshire [1]. The 1901 census return shows the following information regarding Anderson's residence at that time [2]:

Civil Parish:

Rodbourne Cheney

Town, Village or Hamlet:

Rodbourne Cheney

Ecclesiastical Parish:

St. Mary

Parliamentary Borough or Division:

Northern or Cricklade Division of Wiltshire

Administrative County:

Wiltshire

The staff of the Rodbourne Cheney Smallpox Hospital consisted of David Smith, 46 years of age, the Hospital Caretaker and his wife Ellen, 44 years of age. Their son, William Smith, 14 years of age, also is listed as a member of the staff. In addition to Horace Anderson there were 18 other patients in the hospital, ranging in age from 6 years to 22 years.

3. ENLISTMENT AND TRAINING

As a young man, Horace Anderson appears to have moved to Wales where he enlisted in the Royal Engineers at Aberdare, Glamorgan in August of 1915, a year after the outbreak of the Great War of 1914-1918. He was 21 years old when he enlisted. Although records are not available to verify this, he probably enlisted as a Sapper. By the time of his death in July 1916 he had risen to the rank of Sergeant. This rapid rise in rank from Sapper to Sergeant in less than one year is a tribute to Anderson's prowess as a soldier. It could be partially explained by prior service in the Volunteer Force before enlisting in the Royal Engineers, although this prior service has not been verified.

4. ASSIGNMENTS AND CAMPAIGN SERVICE

Following his enlistment and his basic training as an engineer soldier, Anderson was posted to the 124th Field Company, Royal Engineers, which was formed at Porthcawl approximately 22 miles due west of Cardiff in South Glamorgan. The 124th Field Company had been raised in January of 1915 and was assigned to the 38th (Welsh) Division [3]. Headquarters of the division was located in Winchester, Hampshire. On the 27th of January 1915 the company moved to Abergavenny in Gwent and subsequently moved to Crawley Down in Sussex where, on the 29th of November 1915, it was reviewed by Her Majesty the Queen and Princess Mary.

The 124th Field Company embarked for Le Havre, France on the 1st of December 1915 and on the 6th of December the company was located west of Aire in northeast France. In January of 1916 the 38th Division took over the Neuve Chapelle sector of the line from the 19th Division, and from this period until the beginning of June 1916 it was continually in line holding in turn every portion of the British XI Corps line from Givenchy on the south to Picantin on the north. During this period, Givenchy with its many mines, constant trench mortaring and numerous springs that involved frequent repairs to trenches was a constant source of work for the men of the 124th Field Company and the other Sappers of the 38th Division.

On the 10th of June 1916 the 38th Division received orders to proceed south to take part in the Somme offensive, which was to begin on the 1st of July 1916. On the 11th of June the division handed over its sector to the 61st Division and commenced the move south. The division halted for a fortnight just east of St. Pol [4] where it trained for the upcoming offensive. The division then moved further south and at Rubempre it joined the British II Corps [5]. Orders were received by the division to the effect that as part of II Corps it was to be prepared to follow the cavalry in the event of a break through, with the division objective being Bapaume.

The failure of the centre and left of the British line to penetrate the German positions on the Somme on the 1st of July altered the division's plans. After marching first northward towards Acheux and then south to Treux, the division eventually joined the British XV Corps [6]. On the 5th of July 1916 it relieved the 7th Division in the village of Mametz and was ordered to prepare to attack and capture Mametz Wood.

The 6th to the 9th of July were spent in reconnaissance and in testing the enemy's strength by small attacks. On the 10th of July the division attacked with two brigades and continued the attack into the 11th of July when the 21st Division relieved the 38th Division in Mametz Wood. Unfortunately Sergeant Horace Frank Anderson was killed in action on Tuesday the 11th of July 1916 as his company supported the infantry during their attacks on the German positions in Mametz Wood. He was one of 41 fatalities suffered by the 124th Field Company during the war. The names of all fatalities suffered by the company between 1915 and 1918 are shown in the table below [7].


Name

Regimental Number


Rank

Cause
Of Death

Date of Death

Anderson, Horace Frank

62650 [8]

Sergeant

KIA

11/07/1916

Bending, Griffith

82351

Corporal

KIA

18/02/1918

Brann, W.G.

448726

Sapper

DOW

07/11/1918

Brown, Walter Ernest

82371

Sapper

KIA

21/07/1917

Channing, Albert John

82346

Corporal

Died

04/07/1918

Clucas, Hugh

82388

Driver

DOW

31/07/1917

Collins, Harry

140733

L/Corporal

KIA

18/05/1918

Corin, Frederick William

62661

Sapper

KIA

23/08/1918

Cox, Henry

62808

Sapper

KIA

11/07/1916

Currie, Peter Lowe

103636

L/Corporal

KIA

11/07/1916

Davies, David Walter

82319

Sapper

KIA

15/03/1917

Davies, John M.

108046

Corporal

KIA

11/07/1916

Deere, Herbert

91531

Sapper

Died

09/12/1917

Dyer, Charles

446976

Sapper

KIA

18/10/1917

Gee, Benjamin James

442414

Sapper

KIA

31/07/1917

Glen, David

163063

Driver

DOW

09/11/1918

Griffin, Albert Hughes

49124

Sapper

KIA

28/08/1918

Griffiths, Richard

166678

Sapper

KIA

29/05/1917

Halliday, Willie

144728

Sapper

DOW

01/11/1918

Harris, Thomas John

62820

Sapper

KIA

11/07/1916

Imrie, James

82519

A/Sergeant

KIA

24/08/1918

Johns, Charles

108165

Sapper

KIA

10/07/1916

Jones, Albert Rees

108072

Coy. Sergt. Major

Died

18/06/1917

Jones, Christopher

108176

Sapper

KIA

31/07/1917

Jones, William

108050

Driver

DOW

09/07/1916

Kingston, Ernest James

108159

Sapper

DOW

26/07/1917

Lee, John Ernest

446909

Sapper

DOW

18/02/1918

McCrea, John

140743

Sapper

KIA

15/10/1916

McLeod, John

166653

Sapper

KIA

31/07/1917

Maguire, Henry  

T/2nd Lieutenant

DOW

15/07/1916

Meik, Harry Alexander

450450

Sapper

KIA

31/07/1917

Morgan, David John

62872

L/Corporal

KIA

10/07/1916

Moutrey, H.

146547

Sapper

KIA

24/08/1918

O'Connell, Peter

494746

Sapper

DOW

09/06/1918

Philpotts, F.

67579

2/Corporal

KIA

01/11/1918

Quail, Henry Charles  

T/2nd Lieutenant

KIA

18/02/1918

Roberts, Edward

82342

Sapper

KIA

15/03/1917

Stewart, Victor William

62740

2/Corporal

DOW

12/07/1915

Tamplin, J.

108179

Sapper

KIA

11/07/1916

Thomas, Simon

82332

Sapper

KIA

03/04/1916

Treharne, John

92564

Sapper

DOW

14/07/1916

Turner, Thomas Harford

62560

Sapper

KIA

15/03/1917

Williams, John Ephraim

82353

Sapper

KIA

31/07/1917

Williams, William John

108058

Sapper

KIA

03/04/1916

Legend: KIA – Killed in Action; DOW – Died of Wounds; Died – of disease or accidentally killed.

The following is a statistical analysis of these deaths in the 124th Field Company by various categories:

1. Total Company Casualties from all Causes: 43

2. Deaths by Rank

T/2nd Lieutenant: 2 (4.6%)

Coy. Sergt. Major: 1 (2.3%)

Sergeants: 2 (4.6%)

Corporals: 3 (6.9%)

2nd Corporals: 2 (4.6%)

Lance Corporals: 2 (4.6%)

Sappers: 27 (63.2%)

Drivers: 4 (9.2%)

The Sappers, being the most numerous in a field company, suffered the heaviest casualties. The combined casualties of the Sappers and Drivers amounted to 72.4% of the total fatalities. Junior Non-Commissioned Officers (Lance Corporals through Corporals) represented 16.1% of the casualties, with senior Non-Commissioned Officers representing the 6.9% of the fatalities and Officers 4.6%. Over one-quarter (27.6%) of the total number of fatalities in the company were Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers.

3. Deaths by Category

Killed in Action: 29 (67.4%)

Died of Wounds: 11 (25.6%)

Died of Disease or Accident: 3 (7.0%)

4. Deaths by Year

1915: 1 (2.4%)

1916: 13 (30.2%)

1917: 15 (34.9%)

1918: 14 (32.5%)

Sergeant Anderson was one of only two Sergeants in the company who died during the war and both were killed in action. Of the 13 fatalities in 1916, eight occurred during the period from the 9th to the 11th of July 1916 during the battle for Mametz Wood. Of these eight men, five were killed on the same day as Sergeant Anderson. It is possible that all these men were from Anderson's section.

It appears that Sergeant Anderson has no known grave. His death is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial off the main Bapaume to Albert Road in the Somme Region of France. Anderson's name appears on Pier and Face 8A and 8D of the memorial. Over 90 percent of the men commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial died between July and November 1916. The memorial was built between 1928 and 1932 and was unveiled by the Prince of Wales in the presence of the President of France on the 31st of July 1932. Each year a major ceremony is held at the memorial on the 1st of July [9].

For his service during the Great War, Sergeant Horace Frank Anderson was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal [10]. His family received a Memorial Plaque and Scroll to commemorate his sacrifice [11].

Sergeant Anderson was not entitled to the Mention in Despatches
oak leaf shown on the Victory Medal below.

REFERENCES

Books

INSTITUTION OF ROYAL ENGINEERS. The History of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Volume V. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1952.

MERRIAM WEBSTER. Geographical Dictionary, Springfield, MA, 1997.

MUNBY, J.E. (ed.). A History of the 38th (Welsh) Division. Hugh Press, Ltd., London, 1920.

Computer Software

Officers Died in the Great War. The Naval & Military Press Ltd., Heathfield, East Sussex, 1998.

Soldiers Died in the Great War. The Naval & Military Press Ltd., Heathfield, East Sussex, 1998.

Maps

AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION. AA Motorists Atlas of Great Britain. Basingstoke, 1984.

Periodicals

INSTITUTION OF ROYAL ENGINEERS. Battle Honours of the Royal Engineers. The Royal Engineers Journal, Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1925-1932.

Internet Sources

1901 British Census. Public Record Office, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, 2003.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Register of Honour.

ENDNOTES

[1] The present town of Rodbourne is located approximately 14 miles due west of the city of Swindon, Wiltshire.

[2] PRO Reference. RG Number, Series RG13, Piece 1903, Folio 116, Page 23, Schedule Number 127.

[3] Commander Royal Engineers, Lieutenant Colonel G.S. Knox, R.E.

[4] The shortened name of the town of St. Pol-sur-Mer.

[5] The II Corps at this time was part of the British Fourth Army Reserve and consisted of the 3rd, 23rd and 38th Divisions. The Corps' Chief Engineer was Brigadier-General C. Godby.

[6] Chief Engineer, Brigadier-General P.G. Grant.

[7] Soldiers Died in the Great War. The information regarding Lance Corporal Peter Lowe Currie was obtain from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site by his great nephew, Tom Currie.

[8] Soldiers Died in the Great War shows his regimental number as 62500. The regimental number on his medals is 62650.

[9] Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour Register.

[10] The 1914-15 Star and Victory Medal are in the author's collection. The whereabouts of the British War Medal is unknown and it is feared that it was melted down for its silver content in the early 1980s.

[11] The whereabouts of the Memorial Plaque and Scroll is not known.