LANCE CORPORAL ROBERT DAVIS
Died 15th September 1916
No. 19942 of the Bedfordshire Regiment, 8th Battalion.
Resided: Woburn Sands
Enlisted: First week of March, 1915, at Bedford
Robert was home on leave during August 1915, just before his regiment left for France, where he arrived on 30th August, 1915, The 8th Bedfordshire were part of the 6th Division. The Battalion were mobilised afer 10 months of training.
He would have taken part in the Battle of Loos, in September, 1915, and may have been wounded in December 1915 or April 1916 when the Battalion were heavily shelled and lost several hundred men both times.
The action on the 15th of September began at 6.20am. A barrage was laid down before an attack that was to be made on a defensive position called “The Quadrilateral”, as a part of the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. Tanks were to be used for the first time but none arrived (having broken down en route). At 6am a massive British barrage opened up but many huge calibre shells fell short and landed on the Bedfords. 20 minutes later the Bedfords went over the top with 150 yards of ground to cross to reach the German lines before the German machine gunners could man their posts. Immediately they left the trenches, their front waves were scythed down by the untouched machine gun posts and waiting German riflemen. The entire line, including the battalions on either side for miles, made it a mere 50 yards before being forced to ground with heavy losses. The survivors waited in shell holes all day and crept back under cover of dark, eventually returning to their starting positions, with 72 killed, 217 wounded and 100 missing in action. Frederick Paxton was also killed in this action.
He is listed on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. Listed on the Woburn Sands Memorial. His army service papers have not survived.
Some details kindly provided by Steve Fuller, “The Bedfordshire Regiment in the Great War”, at www.bedfordregiment.org.uk
Page last updated Jan. 2019.