10th Lincolns (Grimsby Chums)
Each year, during the annual Lochnagar Remembrance Ceremony Roger Frankish, a stalwart Friend of Lochnagar has placed a wreath to his father who was wounded at the Crater on 1st July. Roger has written a superb book on the experiences of the men of his village, called ‘The Barnetby Boys’. Here is part of his father’s account.
“It seemed a long wait until 7.28am when the mine went up. I remember the ground shaking like a jelly. We had been told that the advance would be a walk-over, as the trenches had been destroyed and most of the troops killed but we knew this was not true, as several times before the attack we had shown our dummy troops over the parapet, (tunics filled with straw and wearing gas masks and tin hats). The reply was a terrific hail of machine-gun and rifle fire.
After two minutes we went over the top into the churned mud of no-man’s-land. The small arms and shell-fire was very heavy. I had not gone far when a bullet struck my equipment and spun me round like a top, but I was none the worse. It was very hard going as I was also carrying two trench mortar bombs in a sand-bag.
About half way to the German trenches I received a terrific blow on my left forearm. I collapsed into the nearest shell hole, my arm quite useless, apparently broken.
Eventually I made it to No. 102 Field Ambulance Station to enjoy the best sleep I had had for months.”
In those 500 yards (approx. 450 metres) of the attack, from a fighting strength of 840 men the Grimsby Chums suffered over 500 casualties, with 180 men killed.