yeovil at War

edgar george bennett

Killed at Passchendaele

 

Edgar George Bennett was born in West Camel, five or six miles northeast of Yeovil in 1891. He was the fourth of the six children of carpenter and wheelwright William John Bennet (b 1863) and Kate Keturah née Carew (b 1865).  

In the 1911 census the family were listed at 16 St Michael's Avenue. John Bennett listed his occupation as 'Coachman to Private Gentleman' while Edgar, now aged 20, was a baker.  On 4 August 1913 at Bothenhampton, Dorset, Edgar married 19-year old Beatrice May Miles of Bothenhampton.

It is not known when Edgar first enlisted in the Army, but he was initially in the Army Service Corps (Service No 143858).

Soldiers cannot fight without food, equipment and ammunition. In the Great War, the vast majority of this tonnage, supplying a vast army on many fronts, was supplied from Britain. Using horsed and motor vehicles, railways and waterways, the ASC performed prodigious feats of logistics and were one of the great strengths of organisation by which the war was won. At peak, the ASC numbered an incredible 10,547 officers and 315,334 men. The ASC was organised into Companies, each fulfilling a specific role. Some were under orders of or attached to the Divisions of the army; the rest were under direct orders of the higher formations of Corps, Army or the GHQ of the army in each theatre of war.

At some point (and, judging by his new Service No 41700 it was in late 1916 or early 1917) Edgar enlisted at Hartley Witney, Hampshire, (depot of the Lincolnshire Regiment, badge at left), giving his address as Aldershot (his barracks), into the 8th (Service) Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment. This was, presumably, simply a transfer between units. The 8th (Service) Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment had been formed in September 1914 and in September 1915 had landed in Boulogne, France. They were to become part of 63rd Brigade of 37th Division fighting in France and Flanders.

The Battle of Passchendaele (or Third Battle of Ypres) was a campaign of the First World War, fought by the Allies against the German Empire. It comprised a whole series of battles that took place on the Western Front, between July and November 1917, for control of the ridges south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres in West Flanders. Passchendaele lay on the last ridge east of Ypres, five miles from a railway junction at Roeselare, which was a vital part of the supply system of the German Fourth Army.

Edgar George Bennett was killed during the action at Passchendaele. He died on 31 August 1917, aged 26. He is buried at Voormezeele Enclosure No 3, Leper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, Grave XV.G.8. and his name is recorded on the War Memorial in the Borough.

Many thanks to David Clark, Edgar's great grandson, for the following - "The official War Diary of the 8th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment records for the 31 July, the day Edgar died, "July 31 - Attack at Riffle Farm. Casualties - 7 officers, 170 other ranks". Edgar would have been one of those 170 other ranks casualties. Edgar and Beatrice had one child, my grandmother Dorothy, who was born in May 1915. She said that she couldn't remember her father, although she knew that he had been killed in the war. Beatrice remarried after the war, and had another daughter with her new husband, George Atkins.

 

gallery

 

Men of the Army Service Corps load condensed milk, dried peas and biscuits onto a train from a shed, Calais. Photographed in 1917.

 

The ruins of the Church, Voormezeele, near Ypres, 30th April 1916.

 

Troops carry a wounded man to an aid post at Passchendaele.

 

The ruins of Passchendaele village. The church stood on the mound in the background.


The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of Edgar Bennett.

 

Voormezeele Enclosure No 3, Leper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium

The Voormezeele Enclosures (at one time there were a total of four, but now reduced to three) were originally regimental groups of graves, begun very early in the First World War and gradually increased until the village and the cemeteries were captured by the Germans after very heavy fighting on 29 April 1918. Voormezeele Enclosure No.3, the largest of these burial grounds, was begun by the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in February 1915. Their graves are in Plot III, the other Plots from I to IX are the work of other units, or pairs of units, and include a few graves of October 1918. Plots X and XII are of a more general character. Plots XIII to XVI were made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from isolated sites and smaller cemeteries to replace the French graves (of April and September 1918) that were removed to a French cemetery. These concentrated graves cover the months from January 1915 to October 1918, and they include those of many men of the 15th Hampshires and other units who recaptured this ground early in September 1918. There are now 1,611 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in Voormezeele Enclosure No.3. 609 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 15 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.