Monday, 31 July 2017

All Saints Church - Dykes

Full Peal Attempt

Monday 31st July 2017
1.00pm to 4.00pm

The bells are being half muffled to mark the centenary of the death of Private Kenneth Dykes of Nocton (aged 19).

Kenneth served in the Second Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment [Service No: 1953] and was killed in action on this day 31st July, 1917. He is commemorated in Ypres on the Menin Gate Memorial in Belgium.

Photograph from Hill 62 looking across the battlefield
towards the church spires of Ypres
(copyright Geoff Hall)

My wife and I visited Belgium in 2016 and happened to photograph the Lincolnshire Regiment names panel on the Menin Gate - if you look carefully, you can see Kenneth's name.

Memorial plate on Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium
(copyright Geoff Hall)

Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium
(copyright Geoff Hall)

Kenneth was a bellringer at All Saints Church, Nocton before enlisting and going off to fight in the Great War.

We will remember them.

Memorial in All Saints Church, Nocton

Further information
More detail on the Full Peal can be found on the 'Ringing the World' website. I wandered down to take a short video and sound recording of the event during the Full Peal - it can be viewed here.

The Battle of Pilckem Ridge
31st July - 2nd August 1917

It was hoped that in this first attack our troops would succeed in establishing themselves on the crest of the high ground east of Ypres, and would also secure the crossings of the Steenbeek. For this purpose four Army Corps were placed at the disposal of General Sir Hubert Gough, the II., XIV., XVIIL, and XIX. Corps.

The II. Corps (Jacob) attacked on the right of the Fifth Army, south of the Ypres-Roulers railway, with three divisions, in order from right to left, as follows : 24th, 30th and 8th (Heneker), in which the 2nd Lincolnshire were serving, in the 25th Brigade. The first stage of the attack was carried out, as far as the 8th Division is concerned, by the 23rd and 24th Brigades, with the 25th Brigade in support.

The difficult country east of Ypres, where the Menin road crosses the crest of the Passchendaele-Wytschaete Ridge, formed the key of the enemy's position, and most determined opposition was met by the 24th, 30th and 8th Divisions, which fought their way through Shrewsbury Forest and Sanctuary Wood, and captured Stirling Castle, Hooge and Bellewaarde Ridge. The second objective of the 8th Division was to be taken by the 25th Brigade, 2nd Lincolnshire on the right, Royal Irish Rifles in the centre, 2nd Rifle Brigade on the left, with the 2nd Berkshire in support.

The Westhoek Ridge was reported in our hands, but on making a preliminary reconnaissance, the Commander of the 25th Brigade found that the situation on the Ridge was not what had been anticipated. Heavy machine-gun fire was coming from Glen Corse Wood and hostile machine-guns and snipers were firing from the neighbourhood of Kit and Kat and from the Westhoek cross-roads, while a large number of houses on the Westhoek road were evidently held by the enemy.

The 2nd Lincolnshire (Lieut-Colonel R. Bastard) formed up at 6.50 a.m. on the 31st July and advanced in artillery formation under Captain G.Mc.I. Bruce; the Commanding Officer and Adjutant having already started for Westhoek to meet the Brigadier and other Commanding Officers to reconnoitre the Ridge. The reconnoitring parties found the front line to be Jabber Trench, the left of which was very exposed to machine-gun fire from the immediate front.

By 9 a.m., the 2nd Lincolnshire had arrived at the position of deployment. All companies, however, reported casualties from machine-gun fire, whilst passing through Chateau Wood and from shell-fire between the Wood and Westhoek. The carrying platoons were exhausted from the effects of gas-shells and the heavy going.

By 9.40 a.m., the Commanding Officer, the Adjutant and two other officers were casualties, and command of the battalion fell upon 2nd Lieutenant K. Young. Orders then came from the Brigadier to advance. With D Company on the right, A in the centre and C on the left, B Company acting as "moppers up," the Lincolnshire pushed on to the crest of the Ridge. On reaching the latter, heavy machine-gun fire tore gaps in the ranks of the forward companies and caused heavy casualties. The fire came mostly from the right flank, which was exposed, as the 30th Division had been held up earlier in the day. To make matters worse, our barrage fell beyond the German machine-guns, which left the latter free to pour a destructive fire upon the gallant troops of the 25th Brigade. The result was that no further advance was possible and the Lincolnshire began consolidating the reverse slope of the Ridge with Lewis gun posts pushed forward to the crest. The line upon which consolidation began was just in front of Jabber Trench, which ran from north-west to south-east and about two hundred yards west of Westhoek. On the left C Company made a determined attempt to rush a machine-gun which was causing considerable trouble but, having to move up a communication trench, found the latter blocked, and, after suffering casualties, had to abandon the attempt. Two attacks were also made on a house along the Westhoek road, but the attackers were so exposed to machine-gun fire from the right that both attacks failed. Lieut. Young was awarded the D.S.O. for his energy and resource on this occasion.

At 11.50 a.m., and again at 1.10 p.m., the Germans launched counter-attacks, but both were easily repulsed.

At 1.30 p.m., German reinforcements were seen coming from the direction of Anzac (about one thousand five hundred yards north-east of Westhoek) and massing in Jabber support. The 2nd Lincolnshire quickly got to work with Lewis guns and rifle-fire and inflicted considerable casualties on these hostile troops.

At 2.30 p.m., having first placed a heavy barrage on Bellewaarde Ridge, the valley west of Westhoek and on the Lincolnshire front line, the enemy again launched a heavy counter-attack. This was also beaten back with heavy losses and after the failure of this attempt no serious counter-attack was made. Consolidation now proceeded more rapidly and was completed after darkness had fallen. The Lewis gun posts on the crest of the Westhoek Ridge were converted into bombing and listening posts and the night passed without further incident.

At 5 a.m., the following morning the 2nd Lincolnshire were relieved by the 2nd Royal Berkshire and moved to Pioneer Camp. The losses of the battalion were severe: 2nd Lieutenants A.J. Bush and G.E. Truby and thirty-nine other ranks had been killed, Lieutenant A.G. Bloomer and 2nd Lieutenant V.R. Sowerby were wounded and died later of their wounds. Lieut.-Colonel Bastard, Captain G.McI.S. Bruce, Lieutenant L. J. Lill, Lieutenant and Adjutant H. Ingoldby, 2nd Lieutenant F.C, Evans and one hundred and seventy-seven other ranks were wounded, and twenty-seven other ranks were missing.

Source: History of the Lincolnshire Regiment

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