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Rifleman JOHN RUSSELL
1st/5th Battalion London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade)
Killed in Action 1st July 1916, Hébuturne
Son of Millicent Russell and Oliver Lambert Russell
Commemorated at THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, Somme, France
Residence: 7 Rydal Rd, Streatham, London

and 

Rifleman ROBERT ALFRED EDMUND BRUNT
1st/5th Battalion London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade)
Killed in Action 1st July 1916, Hébuturne
Son of Mary Brunt and Henry John Brunt
Commemorated at THIEPVAL MEMORIAL, Somme, France
Residence: 30 Norfolk Louise Rd, Streatham, London

Both John Russell and Robert Alfred Edmund belonged to the 1st/5th battalion of the London regiment (London Rifle Brigade), a volunteer group. They were made up of five companies and originally started World War 1 in Sussex, making the journey to France in November 1914. The regiment was disbanded in 1919, following the end of the war.

Both men died on 1st July 1916, the first day of the Somme, in Hébuturne. The battalion ‘took up their position in the assembly and front-line trenches of the Y section’, ready for their advance. From the war diary, it seems as if their mission started successfully, with the first waves of men moving by 7:27am. The diary continues to describe their successes, detailing ‘The lines advanced in excellent order and the movement went like clockwork, so much so that by 7:50am, all our objectives were reached’.

However, the mission and its successes begin to deteriorate quickly. By 8:07am, they began to face opposition in the form of ‘machine gun fire’ and ‘heavy bombing’, which led to ‘bad casualties’. The German enemies continued to bombard them, and, according to the war diary, ‘bombs now began to seem short and German ones were freely used’. By 8:45am they were ‘forced to withdraw’ and there mission wholly ‘failed on account of the lack of success by the division on our left and also because we were unable to get the Reserve Company across with the supply of bombs that was so urgently needed’.

From this account, it is most likely that both men died at any time during this offence, but most likely between 8:07am and 8:45am when the battalion faced the most opposition and heaviest fire from the enemy. Furthermore, it is only from this point that casualties are mentioned explicitly.

By Gabby, Year 12

 

 

Sources

https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/810654/russell,-john/

https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/766001/brunt,-robert-alfred-edmund/

National Archives, Kew, WO 95/2961/1, War Diary, 1st/5th Battalion, London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade), 1st-5th July 1916