Somme Stories - England
Lieutenant E W Martin
Lieutenant E. W. Martin was a member of LOL No. 799, London.
He was killed in action on 27 July 1916 during the attack and capture of Longueval. His company was very seriously bombarded and cut up, prior to the assault, and his Colonel stated that “he displayed great gallantry and coolness. When the time came to assault, he was the only officer left in his company, and he led the assault with great gallantry and dash. He was shot through the head during a gallant attempt to consolidate his left flank. We have lost a splendid gallant officer.”
Gunner D E F Hepburn
D. E. F. Hepburn served with the South Midland Divisional Ammunition Column of the Royal Field Artillery and saw action in the opening days of the Somme. He was a member of LOL No. 242, Birmingham.
He wrote to The Orange Standard and his letter was reproduced in November 1916:
“We have not been kept too busy since the big bombardment save for the odd ‘strafe’ now and again. We had a pretty anxious time at the beginning of July, and I was in some hot corners at times. The Germans have plenty of fight in them at a distance, but when our Infantry get them at close quarters with the bayonet they generally put up their hands and cry for mercy.
"Although we had a fair amount of casualties in our Division, all the boys of ‘Brum’ kept up the laurels of the old City, and it was ‘Forward’ all the time. We have had another big advance lately and took several miles of trenches and German batteries intact. Our ‘Contemptible little Army’ is still keeping the Huns on the run, and we don’t intend to give them much rest. When we leave them alone, they dig themselves into the earth like rats, and take some getting out again. I think our Artillery has solved the problem now.”
Private Norman Robertson
Norman Robertson joined a Birmingham ‘Pals’ Brigade, which became the 15th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. This regiment saw action at the Somme from July 1916.
Robertson wrote a letter of thanks to The Orange Standard in October 1916 which was reported as follows:
We have received the following note from Bro. Norman Robertson, of L.O.L. 843, King’s Heath, Birmingham, who is serving with the Royal Warwicks in France. “Am just attempting to write you a few lines to try and thank you for the very nice Testament and Prayer Book (combined) which you so kindly sent me. You would be really astonished if you knew of the many cases in which the Word of God has saved fellows lives out here. Still we must not be surprised at these things for miracles are still being performed even in our times. When we come out of a “big do”, you can hear even the most sceptical of our fellows say “Thank God for this!!” So you see the war is having some effect on the most hardened, and I hope that when it is over this will prove to be a lasting impression for their good. God is looking after me and I am sure he will bring me through alright in the end.”