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Private A.E.Dart

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Private A.E.Dart

Post  dazhands on Sun Aug 17, 2014 12:37 am

Alfred Edgar Dart from Plymouth died at the Somme on 1st July 1916. He was a Private with the 2nd Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment. (His service number was 16768). He was awarded the Victory Medal and British War Medal. He is buried at Ovillers Military Cemetary, Plot ref. VII. T. 1.

The 2nd Battalion’s attack on Ovillers failed due to failure to destroy enemy machine guns or adequately cut the barbed wire - 221 Killed in Action, 431 Wounded in Action.

Upon hearing the news of his death, his wife went into premature labour and gave birth to a daughter - Lucy Amelia Dart (my grandmother).

In the regimenatal archives there is a more detailed account on the attach at Ovillers. The following extract says it all (especially the last paragraph)-
At 0728 hours, just before the barrage lifted from the enemy front line, 2nd Devons, in the centre of their brigade, left New Trench. A and B Company advanced towards Ovillers and, even at this early stage, 'they were subjected to fire from rifles and machine guns'. C and D Companies followed in two waves at fifty-yard intervals. The leading assault waves were lying down little more than one hundred yards from the enemy wire when the British mortars lifted from the German trenches.
At Zero-Hour, the Devon's companies amidst the dust of the bombardment got up and went forward in waves to the assault at the pace laid down in Army Instructions to Infantry,'100 yards in 2 minutes'. Despite some reservations, commanders' confidence that the barrage would destroy the German defences was generally accepted and most believed that they would simply advance and occupy the German line. However, with the Germans having survived the bombardment, to succeed the Devons would have to have occupied the enemy line before the defenders could get out their deep dugouts and establish a firing line. The Wurttembergers of 180 Regiment were waiting
'A few moments later, when the leading British line was within a hundred metres, the rattle of machine gun and rifle fire broke out along the whole line of shell holes..'
A and B Companies were caught in interlocking and overlapping arcs of machine gun fire from Ovillers, and from la Boisselle to their right. According to the Devon's after action report, Lieutenant Colonel Sunderland could see very little of the action.
'At first and for some little time owing to mist and dust caused by our shell fire, it was difficult to realise what had happened … The lines appeared at first sight to be intact… Colonel Sunderland could make out rows of his men lying down. He demanded 'Why aren't they advancing?' The Adjutant, peering through his binoculars turned to the CO and replied 'They're all hit, sir!'.


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