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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Remembrance Day - 3rd May 1917

My great-grandfather Jonathan 'Jack' Rowe was killed mid morning of 3rd May 1917, below is a short passage from his commanding officer detailing what happened during that morning. The story in my family is that Jack took a direct hit from a German shell and nothing was left of him, his wife (Mary Ann Margaret) wrote to Capt Brown asking for at least his wedding ring, they found nothing.

Taken from Capt R.C Brown MC diary, commander of 'B' Company, during the morning of May 3rd 1917

"Early in the morning we attacked, my coy B in support of A coy (under Castle) Mills, Love, and Child with me. We moved up from Nepal trench when we had been back for 24hours for a breather. As soon as all were into our jumping trench, I went over to Btn HQ. John Maxwell in command to report all B coy in position. A shell burt in my face as I was entering the dig out, but only bloodied and scratched my face and leg a bit. We had hard work getting the men up, platoon by platoon under very heavy fire, to 'Gannet trench', which was a mere grip, a cable trench a foot wide and 2-3 feet deep. I bought up the last platoon and waited till I thought a favourable moment in an old Boche quarry hole dug out where Mills was,  and a signaller a telephone. Wounded men were there in some numbers, and several flopped in while we waited. Arrived at 'Gannet Trench' , I was at it all the time making such deepening and improvements as possible, urging the men to dig and get good fine rest and placing Lewis guns - Child's platoon on left, Love's on the right. Early we heard that's 8th R.B's in front of us had done their job, taken their objective, and sent a fair number of prisoners back. As soon as I got to 'Gannet' we saw our men coming back, and Germans from time to time showing. No news what had happened. It appeared right and left of us attack had failed. 12.30 I was hit by a whizz bang on right knee.

The above picture show in the red circle 'Gannet' trench, Jonathan was in this trench when the German bombardment opened up, notice the large concentration of shell holes around the trench system.

Sgt Hitchcock pulled me into the 'trench: rather painful. Hadley, Jones and stretcher bearers carried me down, by line and Guemappe side. Heavy fire all the way (1 - 1 half miles) but escaped. Put me down halfway and tied legs together.

Thanks to Jeremy Banning for this information.

My great grandmother Mary Ann taken in 1939.

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