Private 20039 Ernest Andrews Holmes
2nd Battalion (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) Royal Berkshire Regiment
Private Holmes was the son of Mrs H. Cook, of North Hidden Farm Cottage, Newtown, Hungerford. He was born at Harrington, Berkshire and enlisted into the Army at Hungerford.
He was killed in action on Saturday 1 Jul 1916 (The First day of the Somme). He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing.
- Regimental Badge of the Royal Berkshires
War Diary for the attack on the 1st July reads:
Attack on Ovillers. The Battalion took up its assembly position in accordance with Brigade Operation Order No. 100. The 2nd BN Lincolnshire Regt was on the left and the 2nd BN Devonshire Regt on right.
Our own wire was not sufficiently cut and parties were immediately sent out by Companies to clear it. At 6.25am the intensive bombardment began as scheduled. At about 7.15am the enemy opened rifle and machine gun fire on our line; this fire was probably drawn by the 2nd Devon Regt which at about this time attempted to line up in front of their parapet. At 7.20am Companies began filing down trenches and getting ready for the assault.
At 7.30am the three assaulting Companies advanced to attack the German line. They were met by intense rifle and machine gun fire which prevented any of the waves reaching the enemy lines. A little group on the left of the Battalion succeeded in getting in, but were eventually bombed out.
At about 7.45am the Commanding Officer (Lt Col A.M. Holdsworth) and Second in Command (Major G.H. Sawyer DSO) were wounded in the sap on the left of our front, the Commanding Officer handed over Command of the Battalion to 2nd Lieut C. Mollet(Actg Adjt) by this time the parapet was swept by rifle and machine gun fire which prevented any exit from our trenches. The enemy replied to our intensive bombardment by barraging the front line from about 6.35am onwards. No message was received from other Battalions in immediate vicinity.
At about 11am the order came from Bde Headquarters to "stand by" and await further orders.
About 200 men of the Battalion were collected on the right of the front line and in the assembly trenches off Ulverston Street.
At about 12.30pm news was received that the Brigade would be relieved.
At about 3pm Major Hon R. Brand, 2nd Rifle Brigade arranged to take over all the front line and with the sanction of the Brigade the Battalion was withdrawn to Ribble Street.
On relief by the 37th Infantry Bde, the Battalion marched back to bivouac in Long Valley.
Two Lewis guns were damaged; Steel Helmets proved invaluable and in numberless cases saved men's lives.
The following casualties occurred amongst Officers.
Killed in Action:
Lieut A J G Goodall
2nd Lieut S S Schneider
Died of Wounds:
Lt Col A M Holdsworth
Major G H Sawyer DSO.
Captain B Haye
Captain J A Cahill
Lieut W C Adams
2nd Lieut W S Mackay
2nd Lieut J V R Owen
2nd Lieut R G Green
2nd Lieut W Gale
Captain H T Rowley
Captain R C Lewis
Lieut B S Robinson
Lieut O G Payne
2nd Lieut H Godfrey
2nd Lieut B H Belcher
2nd Lieut P G Shirreff
2nd Lieut M I Heming
2nd Lieut S H Bedford
33 Killed; 3 Died of wounds; 260 Wounded; 118 Missing.
[Note – Private Holmes was killed in this action. Many of those shown as wounded later died as did many of the 'Missing' ]