yeovil at War

colin william blandford

Killed in action just six weeks after arriving in France

 

Colin William Blandford was born in Dursley, Gloucestershire in 1888. He was the youngest son of Dursley farmer William E Blandford and his wife, Mary. The 1901 census recorded William and Mary at Castle Farm, Dursley, with their 24-year old daughter Hilda, 21-year old son Cyril and 13-year old Colin. By the time of the 1911 census Colin was an Assistant Draper living above a furnishing shop in High Street, Lymington, Hampshire with the shop owner Charles Read and his family and three other assistants. However Colin soon moved to Yeovil and went into partnership with John Austin. They traded as drapers under the name of 'A Genge' and were listed in trade directories as Milliners and Dressmakers of Princes Street.

Colin enlisted at Yeovil in February 1916 and joined the 1st Battalion Somerset Light Infantry with the Service Number 21558.

He was sent to France at the beginning of July 1916 but was immediately attached to the Wiltshire Regiment. He was most likely attached to the 6th (Service) Battalion of the Wiltshires as these were the only non-Regular battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment serving in France in 1916, the remainder of the Regiment mostly serving in India.

The 6th Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment was assigned to the 19th (Western) Division, eventually being assigned to the 58th Infantry Brigade. In July 1915 the battalion had been sent to France with the rest of the division. It would see action at the Battle of the Loos, Battle of the Somme, and Third Ypres.

After serving on some six weeks in France, during which time he was promoted to Lance-Corporal, Colin Blandford was severely wounded in the Somme offensive of July and August 1916 and died from his wounds on 25 August 1916. He was aged 28.

On 1 September 1916 the Western Gazette reported "The sad news has been received of the death in action of Lance-Corporal CW Blandford of the Wiltshire Regiment. Lance-Corporal Blandford, who was 28 years of age, and had only been in France about six weeks, joined the Somersets in February, but going on active service he was transferred to the Wilts. Lance-Corporal Blandford was partner with Mr. Austin, trading as A Genge in the drapery establishment, Princes Street, and his death will be keenly felt by those connected with this business, with whom he had worked in a most harmonious manner. Of a genial disposition he was liked by those with whom he came into contact, and the news of his death came as a great shock to his friends.

Colin Blandford was interred in Forceville Communal Cemetery and Extension Plot 2. Row E. Grave 4 and his name is recorded on the War Memorial in the Borough - albeit written as Blandford, GW rather than the correct Blandford, CW.

 

gallery

 

Part of the Somme battlefield. 1916.

 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of Colin Blandford.

 

Colin Blandford's headstone.

 

Forceville Communal Cemetery and Extension, Somme, France

Commonwealth forces took over this section of the front line from the French in 1915 and in early August, land to the south of the communal cemetery was set aside for military graves. Field ambulances were stationed in the village of Forceville from February to July 1916. Plot I of the extension contains the graves of men who died on the Somme front from September 1915 to June 1916. The graves in Plot II relate to the Somme offensive of July and August 1916 and those in Plot III to the operations of the autumn of 1916. In the spring of 1917 the front line moved to the east and it was not until the German advances of April 1918, which came to a halt just east of the cemetery, that further burials were made in Plot IV. There are now 304 Commonwealth burials of the First World War in this site, three of them in the communal cemetery adjoining the extension. The cemetery extension, one of the first three Commission sites to be built after the First World war, was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.