WWI ORCQ OCTOBER 1918 OCTOBER 2019 English version

WWI ORCQ OCTOBER 1918 OCTOBER 2019 English version

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Orcq (Tournai Belgium) 1914 - 1918

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Publié le 24 juin 2019
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ORCQ  21/108/11/1918  20/10/2018
͚Theiƌ Ŷaŵe liǀeth foƌ eǀeƌŵoƌe͛, this verse from Ecclesiasticus which is found on British war memorials from the Great War takes on its full significance when you see the 16 gravestones of the British soldiers killed at Orcq during the final offensive of the Great War one hundred years ago.
The cemetery, adjacent to the rippling river Rieu and green fields is nestled between the fertile plain and the Marlière woods. It is there that their bodies have lain since autumn 1918. It is there that since then visitors are overwhelmed by a feeling of gratitude mixed with sadness on seeing the row of 16 slabs of limestone bearing their names. Approaching the graves we learn that the youngest was Lieutenant Frederick Cumming, 19 years old, and the eldest, Richard Izatt, 35 years old awarded the Military Medal, all were killed in their prime. They came from all over the United Kingdom: SĐotlaŶd, Wales, Soŵeƌset, KeŶt… oŶe of theŵ ǁas ďoƌŶ oŶ the otheƌ side of the ǁoƌld iŶ SiŶgapoƌe.
st th These few pages summarise the military actions at Orcq from 21 October to the 8 November 1918 th whilst remembering those who died. We include in the text some photos taken on 20 October 2018 when the village of Orcq paid a moving tribute to its liberators.
We would like to thank all those who gave their assistance to ensure the success of the tribute: close bonds have been established with some of the British people without whom we could not have gathered the information on the biographies of the soldiers. We are thinking of Sarah and Chris Wilson, encountered by chance at the Orcq cemetery, who did a huge amount of work in terms of communication and research. We are also thinking of their daughter Carly and her children as well as of theiƌ fƌieŶds: Maƌk aŶd JaŶet NadiŶ, Claiƌe ‘edsull, Phil ELJdeŶ… Meŵďeƌs of the faŵilies also made the journey over or helped us make progress with our research: in particular families Barber, Bartie, Cockburn, Cumming, Izatt, Sowerby and Webb.
We are grateful also to the official representatives from the English, Scottish and Welsh governments as well as to the Mayor of Tournai Paul Olivier Delannois and the Deputy Mayor Robert Delvigne. The religious ceremony was elevated by the presence of Dean Debbie Flach for the Anglicans and Canon-Dean Michel Decarpentrie for the Catholics. We would like to include also in our thanks Céline Remue from the town of Tournai who managed the ceremony with efficiency and competence. Our gratitude also goes to the band of the Tournai firefighters and to the players of the Conservatory of Tournai.
This day could never have been organised without the dynamism and willingness of Carl Delroisse, 1 local Head of the War Veterans and François MancheD͛HeLJgeƌe aŶd. ChƌistiaŶ Berton Stéphane have discovered many pieces of war memorabilia from those terrible days still buried in the ground at Orcq and our thanks go to them as well.
Finally, the original text has been translated into English thanks to the voluntary collaboration of Judy Pow, the great-niece of Lieutenant Frederick Cumming, thank you also to her.
 Bernard Demaire 2019 bernard.demaire@skynet.be
1 Member of « Rumes Histoire et patrimoine » rumesmuseum@hotmail.com
The British military operations at Orcq on the front line from 21st October to 8th November 1918
The final offensive of the 14-18 war to the west of Tournai was the work of the 5th British Army. Its zone of activity was limited approximately, to the North by a line going from Néchin to Pecq and to the South by a line Howardries - Bléharies; it was under the orders of General Sir William Birdwood. th th rd st The 5 Army was divided into 3 units: the 11 to the North, the 3 in the centre and the 1 to the th rd South. All the soldiers buried at Orcq belonged to the 74 Division of the 3 unit of this Army. This Division operated in a zone situated approximately between the chemin Willems to the North and th the chemin de Bouvines to the South. It was escorted to the North on its left flank by the 57 th th rd Division of the 11 unit of the Army and to the South on its right flank by the 55 Division of the 3 unit of the Army.
 Map N° 1 Military map 37 305WW1MAP http://library.mcmaster.ca/maps/ww1/home
SUMMARY TABLE OF THE BATTALIONS ON THE FRONT LINE FROM 20/10 TO 8/11 1918 AT ORCQ
DATE BATTALION REF. NATIONAL ARCHIVES TEXT BURIED AT ORCQ* 21 oct. 12e Somerset WO 95 3152/3 1 G.W. Hill 22 oct. 12e Somerset 2 W.G. Williams  H. Malpass 23 oct. 14e Black Watch WO 95 3152/4 3 R. Izatt F.K. Cumming T. Cockburn T. Waller T.R. Bartie J. Barber E. Sowerby A. Webb 24 oct. 14e Black Watch 4 A. Tucker A. Christenson 25 oct. 10e Buffs WO 95 3153/2 5 26 oct. 10e Buffs 6 27 oct. 10e Buffs 7 28 oct. 10e Buffs 8 A. Simpkins 29 oct. 15e Suffolks & 16e Sussex WO 95 3153/3 WO 95 3153/4 9 T.A.E. Browne 30 oct. 15e Suffolks & 16e Sussex 10 31 oct. 24e Welsh & 10e Shropshire WO 95 3154/3 WO 95 3154/2 1 nov. 24e Welsh & 10e Shropshire 2 nov. 24e Welsh & 10e Shropshire 11 3 nov. 24e Welsh & 10e Shropshire 12 4 nov. 24e Welsh & 10e Shropshire 13 5 nov. 24e Welsh & 10e Shropshire 14 6 nov. 24e Welsh & 25e Welsh Fusiliers WO 95 3154/4 15 O. Davies 7 nov. 24e Welsh & 25e Welsh Fusiliers 8 nov. 24e Welsh & 25e Welsh Fusiliers 16  Summary table - * date of death is taken from the gravestone
Important facts relating to this progression (see the numbers included in the summary table) in bold the soldiers buried at Orcq. Preliminary Note:all the soldiers buried at Orcq were awarded the Inter-Allied Medal or the Victory Medal, and the British War Medal. The closest members of their families also received the Memorial Plaque in the 1930s. These two medals and the plaque are shown below, they relate to Thomas Cockburn one of the Black Watch killed at Orcq. They have been offered to the Tournai military museum by William Cockburn, great-nephew of Thomas.
From left to right the British War Medal, the Memorial Plaque in the name of Thomas Cockburn and the Inter-Allied Medal presented on a background of Black Watch tartan. 1 21st October: liberation of the village by the 12th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry Regiment. The red line on the left (map 1) shows the position of the Battalion to the East of Marquain on the st evening of 20th October. The blue line shows its position during the day of 21 . At 21.10 hours, after a short barrage of fire, a push was made to reach the boundary of Tournai and Orcq (made up of the chemin Vert to the South of the chaussée de Lille, and of the chemin des Peupliers to the North). A rapid fire of machine guns and mortars made the Battalion halt in the positions represented by the th green line. These positions remained almost unchanged until 8 November. Orcq was liberated from its invaders, but it was another four days before its inhabitants were able to be evacuated. One can only imagine that they must have spent these days holed up in their cellars. In the diary kept by
a junior officer, the Lieutenant-Colonel Gilbert Sanford Poole commanding the Battalion wrote an additioŶal Ŷote: ͚OƌĐƋ ǁas takeŶ afteƌ a haƌd fight͛. The ĐoŵŵaŶd post ;PC oŶ ŵap ϭͿ ǁas established at 479 chaussée de Lille, a farm which is known by the name of its previous owners: Ségard farm. Four soldiers were killed, the Second Lieutenant H. Wilde and 23 soldiers were wounded. One of the fouƌ ͚Soŵeƌset͛ killed that daLJ,Guy William Hillis buried at Orcq. Grave N° 16Guy William HILL
Born at Hook between London and Southampton, son of Frederick. st th He died on 21 October 1918. He was part of 12 Battalion th th Somerset Light Infantry Regiment (74 Division, 229 Brigade). He was a Private, service number 31351. His name is included on the 14-18 memorial at Odiham near his place of birth and at Warnborough his place of residence and that of his parents in October 1918.
2 22nd Octoberby the 14th Battalion Black Watch Regiment: relief The front line represented by the green line was held. Two soldiersWilliam Gordon Williamsand nd Henry MalpassOn the 22 killed and 14 others wounded.  were October at 21.00 hours the th Somerset were relieved by the 14 Battalion Black Watch Regiment. The Black Watch, a Scottish rd Regiment, were also known as the Royal Highlanders. The Somerset were billeted at Orcq on 23 th rd and remained supporting the Black Watch until 24 . Six of their soldiers were wounded on 23 . th They withdrew on the 24 at 17.00 towards Camphin (in France). Artillery: 2 cannons were positioned at the͚Chaussée de Lille͛ iŶ OƌĐƋ at the eŶtƌaŶĐe to theMarlière property by the 229th Trench and Mortar Battery. Grave N° 14William Gordon WILLIAMS
Born around 1899, son of William. His parents lived at 48 Bay road at Sholing, a district of nd th Southampton. He died on the 22 October 1918. He was part of 12 Battalion Somerset Light
th th Infantry Regiment (74 division, 229 brigade). He was a Private, service number 39985. His mother asked forthe ǁoƌds ͚Jesu ŵeƌĐLJ͛to be engraved on his gravestone.
Grave N° 15Henry MALPASS
Born around 1898 at Stourbridge, West of Birmingham. He was one of the last inhabitants of Stourbridge to enlist for the Western front nd in May 1918. He died on the 22 October 1918. He was a member th of 12th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry Regiment (74 Division, th 229 Brigade). He was a Private, service number 18742. His name is included on the Stourbridge 14-18 memorial in Mary Stevens Park.
3 23 October: day of mourning for the Black Watch On the 23rd October, in order to secure the 74th division on its right flank, an order was given to the Battalion to try to take the crossroads situated at the intersection of the chemin de Bouvines and the chemin Vert (see C on map 1). A Company advanced towards the windmill, no longer in existence today, near the crossroads, and another towards the crossroads itself. Machine gun fire and shelling were of such intensity that the Scots had to withdraw. Second LieutenantFrederick Cumming, the Officer, Lance CorporalRichard Izattthe Military Medal, and the soldiers awarded Thomas Cockburn, Thomas Waller, Thomas Bartie, John Barber, Edward Sowerbyand Andrew Webb, all from the14th Battalion Black Watch Regiment were killed. Artillery: the cannons brought out the previous evening were put into action, the approximate target being the suburbs of Tournai This action continued on the 24th. 2 As from this date the British strategy began to take shape. rd ͚It ǁas ďeĐoŵiŶg Đleaƌ that ďy the date of Ϯϯthe Germans had decided to hold a October, bridgehead on the left bank of the Escaut which was situated more or less opposite the front line of the 3rd Unit with its 55th and 74th Divisions, it was for this reason not the moment to attack this area rd where the enemy had really dug in. It was therefore decided that these Divisions of the 3 Unit should take a break in their advance before rebuilding a strong line of resistance. At the same time a
2 J. DE CEUNINCK,La pƌogƌessioŶ des ĐiŶƋ aƌŵées ďƌitaŶŶiƋues à tƌaǀeƌs la PiĐaƌdie et la BelgiƋue de l͛ouest du 1/10/18 au 11/11/1918.Chez l͛auteuƌ TouƌŶai ϮϬϬϭ, p. ϱϱ.
tactic of continual and intense bombardment on the Germans was carried out daily with artillery, machine guns and trench mortars͛. Grave N° 1Richard IZATT
Born on the 25th July 1884 at Crossgates in Fife, Scotland, son of James and Mary Dryburgh, he was one of 9 children. Aged 17 he enlisted before call-up as a nd volunteer in the 2 Battalion of the Royal Highlanders, service number 8290. He became a Lance Corporal in April 1903. The following month he was tried in a military court for breaking the dentures that the Army had supplied him with and he had to leave military life. He married th Elizabeth Graham on 18 May 1903 in Edinburgh, he was a miner at the time and at the end of 1903 he became a tram driver. The couple went on to have 3 children born before the war. He then went back into the army at the rank of Lance Corporal. He was on active service in Great Britain and was sent to India in 1904, a period which was marked by several health problems such as malaria, scarlet fever, gallbladder problems, typhoid and dental th issues. He was called up on the 5 August 1914 and arrived in France three days later. His brother th th Peter, Sergeant in the 9 Battalion of the Black Watch was killed on 25 September 1915 at the rd Battle of Loos in France, his name is included on the memorial there. On 3 January 1915 he was honourably discharged and retired from the front due to new health problems and was awarded the Silver War Badge 291528. On 20th March 1918 he responded to the call up for the Great War and rejoined the 14th Battalion Black Watch Regiment (74th Division, 229th Brigade), service number rd S/26870. Richard was killed at Orcq on 23 October 1918. He was awarded the Military Medal which explains the inscription MM engraved on his gravestone. His name can be found on the Clydebank memorial 14-18 in Scotland (see photograph).
In February 2019, a group of supporters of the Scottish national rugby team going to the France-Scotland match gathered around the grave of Richard Izatt to pay tribute. Donald Wynn (fifth from left) is a member of his family.
Graves 2 to 8 are a small distance apart from the first one of Richard Izatt. All the gravestones are joined together. It is in fact a communal grave.
Tombe N°2Frederick Kenneth CUMMING
st Born on the 1 May 1899 in Singapore, he had dual nationality, Scottish and Australian. Son of Alexander, of Scottish origin who was working in Singapore and died there of dengue fever in July 1905, and of Mabel Beatrice Newman originally from Australia. After his secondary education at Uppingham school (near Leicester), he joined the Royal Military College of Sandhurst (now the Royal Military Academy). At the age of 17 he tried to enlist without success due to poor eyesight. In his childhood he had burnt his leg whilst stoking a fire and due to being bedridden for some time he did a lot of reading which weakened his eyes resulting in him having to wear glasses for life. Finally, in the autumn of th 1917 he was accepted. He joined the 3rd Battalion Black Watch Regiment (attached to the 14 ) and after training in Scotland he arrived in France on 26th August 1918. Less than two months later, the rd th 23 October 1918, he was killed at Orcq where the 14th Battalion Black Watch Regiment (74 th Division, 229 Brigade) was on active service on the front line. He was a Second Lieutenant, service number S/25352. His brother Alexander Bryant, born in 1895 also died on the front line in Iraq in 1916. Various documents kept by the family tell us that the Black Watch attack took place on the rd 23 after dark and that the burialiŶ OƌĐƋ͛s ĐeŵeteƌLJ took plaĐe the Ŷedžt ŵoƌŶiŶg iŶ the pƌeseŶĐe of the Battalion Chaplain. The family archives also contain the diary of Frederick Cumming . The last th entry dates from 20 October noting that he crossed the French-Belgian border and slept in a farm th and that 4 members of the Battalion shared two mattresses. The diary of the 14 Black Watch indicates that the day in question they stayed in position all along the Tournai to Lille road up to where that road crosses the Blandain to Lamain road (the Faisan crossroads). The photograph below was taken shortly before his enlistment and shows us an adolescent far from imagining his forthcoming tragic end, it is further evidence of the horrors of this war.
Seventh from the left, Frederick Cumming amongst his companions in arms.
The names of the two brothers are included on the 14-18 memorial in Singapore.
Judy Pow and Simon Bayly great-niece and nephew of Frederick Cumming laying flowers on his grave at the ceremony paying tribute to the British soldiers which was organised at Orcq on 20th October 2018, one hundred years after the fighting.
We would like to thank Stéphane Berton andChƌistiaŶ D͛HeLJgeƌeperseverance has led to whose soŵe eǀideŶĐe fƌoŵ these ďloodLJ daLJs ďeiŶg edžtƌaĐted fƌoŵ OƌĐƋ͛s soil.