Remembering the men from the Kingsdown and Creekside Cluster
who gave their lives in the First World War
On the centenary of their death, we remember
Harry Filmer (of Newnham)
b. Q4, 1888
d. 3rd May 1917. Aged 30 years.
1st Battalion, East Kent (The Buffs) Regiment
Remembered with Honour
Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe
Plot 1, Row O, Grave 18
Killed in Action
Harry's family came in particular from Lenham and Ashford, with relations remaining nearby. But Harry's parents, William and Emma (nee Carrier of Lynsted), set up their marital home at Little Sharsted, Christopher Row (Lynsted) and Lime Cottage (Doddington) and Lenham. Harry was the youngest of 11 children. He had 7 sisters - Harriet, Emma, Louisa, Eliza, Emily, Ada and Alice Mary; and three brothers - George, Frederick and Walter.
Harry is remembered on the Newnham panels of the Newnham and Doddington Memorial. In 1911, his home address with his widowed mother was Bistock, which sits on the downland rising to the north of Doddington Village. The Grave Registration documents confirm his mother was living in Newnham, nr. Sittingbourne, Kent.
Harry's personal effects amounted to £9 17s. 8d. plus the War Gratuity of £12. The Gratuity indicates that Harry enlisted in October 1914. However, his Obituary tells us he may actually have joined earlier, in September.
[Note: One Source [FamilySearch.org] suggests Harry first enlisted into the 1st Battalion, Royal Garrison Regiment in 1914 - that cannot be correct as that unit ceased to exist in 1908.]
We can speculate that Harry may only have received four months training. The urgency of the Army's needs meant this short period was 'normal' in this early phase. So, Harry may have landed in France between January and April 1915. In time for the action at Hooge (Ypres). He may then have served through the Battle of the Somme at the Battles of Flers-Courcelette, Morval, and Le Transloy. In 1917, the 1st Battalion, East Kent (The Buffs) Regiment continued to serve in 6th Division, 16th Infantry Brigade.
We are not helped much more on dates by his Obituary that appeared on 26th May 1917 in The Faversham and North East Kent News: "PRIVATE H. FILMER, THE BUFFS. Private Harry Filmer, of the Buffs, who was killed in action on 3rd May, was the youngest son of Mrs. Filmer, widow, residing in the Street, Newnham. He was a single man, 28 years of age, and left his employment in the gardens at Sharsted to join up in the month following the outbreak of war. His Captain speaks most highly of him in a letter of sympathy to Mrs Filmer. The officer remarks that "he was an excellent soldier, worthy of the Regiment he so nobly served and which mourns his decease." Private Filmer had previously been wounded, in fact he had only been back in the trenches a few weeks when he was killed - Mrs Filmer has another son in France. He went out some time before his late brother, and has been wounded once."
The East Kent News reported on 16th June carried the same information under the title - "NEWNHAM. A GALLANT BUFF."
Harry Filmer was posthumously awarded the British War and Victory Medals:-
British War Medal
Harry survived the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and we pick up his story in December 1916 leading into January 1917, when the 1st Battalion had been serving in trenches close to BETHUNE, LE QUESNOY and SAILLY LA BOURSE. In trenches at the beginning of 1917, the Battalion moved to Huts at NOYELLES and back into trenches on 14th January. There were still occasional casualties, but the troop position was essentially quiet and a period of consolidation. There were no Operational Orders issued. The close of January saw the troops return to Trenches. What followed was a gradual process through which the German Front and Support Trenches were retreating to the prepared defences of the Hindenberg Line that completed on 5th April. The Arras Offensive began on 9th April 1917, 27km south of Harry's Battalion.
Harry was killed in trenches during a quiet period when the likelihood is that he was caught by either a sniper or artillery fire on a day when his Battalion was preparing for relief back to MAZINGARBE.
On 11th February, in NOYELLES, the Battalion was inspected by Field-Marshal, Sir Douglas Haig.
14th February: Battalion marched to BETHUNE, and was billeted there one night.
15th February: Battalion marched to ROBECQ and took over billets.
16th February: ROBECQ: Court Martial on No.12351, Private W.A. Smith for self-inflicted wounds.
21st February: While the Battalion was in billets at ROBECQ the training consisted of street training in the morning from 8.30am to 12.30pm and in the afternoon there was Recreational training. Inter-Platoon, inter-Company, and inter Battalion Competition in cross-country running, boxing, football and bayonet fighting.
26th February: Inter-company cross country run - won by "B" Company. Course:- Cemetery ROBECQ - ST. VENANT - CANAL BANK at end of RUE de la BRASSERIE.
27th February: 16th Infantry Brigade Cross Country run. Winning Regiment:- 1st Battalion "The Buffs".
28th February: Battalion marched to BETHUNE.
March saw the Battalion move to Le BREBIS and into trenches, relieving the 6th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment.
3rd March: During both day and night the Boche Snipers and Machine Gunners were very active. 2/Lieut. S. MAJOR, "B" Company, temporarily attached to "C" Company, was killed. A great loss to the Battalion and his Company as he was a very popular and well-liked officer. 2 O.R., one "A" Company and one "C" Company, wounded in action.
4th March: Again the Boche was very troublesome and we unfortunately lost two men killed, i.e. Private BRENIN, "A" Company and Private Dawson, "B" Company - Nine O.R. wounded in action. Received draft of 7 reenforcements, O.R.
5th March: Three O.R., Private EBBS, "A" Company, Private HICKMOTT, "B" Company and Lance Corporal FOX, "C" Company, killed in action. Eight O.R. wounded in action, also three O.R. wounded at Duty.
6th March: A very clear day - a great deal of Aerial Activity on both sides. Three Planes seen to come down; not ascertained whether British or Boche.
The 16 Infantry Brigade started a Brigade Pioneer Company, composed of 1 officer, 1 sergeant & 25 O.R. from each Battalion in the Brigade. Party stationed at MAROC.
8th-13th March: Support Line before again moving back into FRONT LINE where casualties continued to be inflicted.
18th March: FRONT LINE: Enemy carried out a Raid on our trenches, and succeeded in getting a footing in the trenches; after a short while was ejected, leaving behind seven dead. Our casualties were:-
One officer, 2/Lieut M. NORSWORTHY, and ten O.R. killed; One officer, 2/Lieut G.H. HUGHES, and twenty four O.R. wounded; Eight O.R. missing.
20th-25th March: BILLETS in MAROC.
26th March: Battalion moved up into FRONT LINE TRENCH, relieving 8th Bedfordshire Regiment. One O.R. killed in action - Private A. FOSTER, "C" Company. H. GRIFFITHS and 100 Rank and file carried out a successful Raid against the German Front and Support Trenches:-
1 German Machine Gun blown up; 7 German dugouts (occupied) blown up; 1 prisoner (unwounded) brought in.
Trophies from the Raid:-
1 German Machine Gun with belt; 1 German Steel Helmet; 3 German Trench Notice Boards; 1 German Belt & Bayonet.
The following congratulatory message were received:-
(1) From Brigade, of 31st March: "Raid most satisfactory and greatly to credit of all concerned."
(2) From Corps, of 31st March: "Corps Commander congratulates the 1st Battalion, The Buffs, on success achieved in raid last night." The casualties are listed.
This action was described in Operation Order No.139, as part of the "re-adjustment of the Line". "16th Infantry Brigade will extend its Front to the North up to CAMERON ALLEY inclusive and will be relieved on the DOUBLE CRASSIER by the 72nd Infantry Brigade (24th Division)."
30th March: [O.O.No.140 of 29th March] "On the night of the 30th March, 1917, 1/The Buffs will carry out a raid against the German Front Line and Support Trenches ... Object:- (a) To obtain identifications; (b) To capture as many prisoners as possible; (c) To inflict casualties on the enemy; (d) To destroy Dugouts, Trench Mortars and Machine Gun Emplacements."
April opened in TRENCHES at LOOS.
1st April: Battalion was relieved by 8th Bedfords and moved into SUPPORT in LOOS VILLAGE. Battalion H.Q. in Cellars of BREWERY, "A" Company in MAROC. Other Companies manning the various KEEPS. 2 O.R. Killed, 10 O.R. Wounded.
Battalion remained in SUPPORT for 6 days. During this period our casualties were - 3 O.R. wounded, 1 O.R. Died of Wounds.
7th April: Battalion relieved the 8th Bedfords in the Front Line. The Battalion held a front of about 1,500 yards from M.6c.10.70 to N.1.a.30.95 (Ref Map LENS 36c, SW1).
8th April: 1 O.R. wounded.
9th April: At 10pm the Battalion on our left attempted a raid on the enemy trenches. This caused the enemy to put down a heavy artillery barrage on the trenches and back areas of our Battalion and resulted in several casualties.2/Lt B.R. HARMAN, wounded; 4 O.R. Killed; 6 O.R. wounded; 1 O.R. wounded (at duty).
11th April: 5 O.R. wounded.
12th April: 5 O.R. wounded. At this period the Army on our right were making good progress and from 6th to 12th the seriousness of the enemy opposite to us became more apparent each night.
On two occasions, hostile patrols attempted to enter the front line held by "B" Company, and the increased activity of hostile snipers and machine guns showed that the enemy were very alert.
During the night of 12/13th, numerous small explosions and fires were observed in the enemy line between THE DOUBLE CRATER CRASSIER and LOOS CRASSIER. These continued throughout the morning of the 13th. This pointed to a possible withdrawal on the part of the enemy and other indications were not lacking.
13th April: TRENCHES, LOOS: By this time the 24th Division South of DOUBLE CRASSIER had made good progress, and at 4pm the 2nd Yorks and Lancs on our right advanced and found the enemy front line system unoccupied.
"B" Company at once conformed with this advance and occupied the enemy front line South of LOOS CRASSIER. They also pushed out patrols who found the Support Line unoccupied.
In conjunction with 2nd Y&L, "B" Company continue to advance during the evening, the enemy rear guard (chiefly Machine Guns) offering a stubborn resistance). During the night a line was established running South from HARTS CRATERS (M.6.c.90.90) and this line was held under heavy artillery fire during the 14th.
14th April: During the night of 14th/15th strong patrols were pushed out. These patrols met with no opposition West of LOOS CRASSIER RY (M.6.b.50.30 to M.6.d.70.80)
15th April: 4.30am: In conjunction with 2nd Y&L, "B" Company again attacked and gained the LOOS CRASSIER RY. With the assistance of "A" Company this line was held and consolidated in spite of 2 vigorous counter-attacks.
2.30pm: "A" & "B" Companies made a further advance during the afternoon, and gained the SUNKEN ROAD (From M.6.b.75.35 to M.6.b.95.20) with the exception of one point at M.6.b.80.45). During this advance, "C" Company assisted by attacking with small parties across NO MAN'S LAND. Unfortunately our casualties were heavy and the Battalion lost many good officers. Among the killed were Captain A.K. Harvey James, Captain T.A. Brown, 2/Lt G.B. SAUNDER. Wounded: 2/Lt GROOM; 2/Lt D. WITTY, 2/Lt WALTERS, 2/Lt W.B. Griffith; 10 O.R. Killed, 1 O.R. Died of Wounds, 65 O.R. Wounded.
16th April: "A" and "B" Companies were relieve during the early morning and went back to "B Keep" (LOOS CRASSIER) in Support. "C" Company were relieved during the evening by the KSLI and went back into Cellars at about G.36.d.50.35.
17th April: Trenches LOOS: "D" Company (the only Company now at the Front Line) was still holding its original position (M.6.b.90.70 to N.1.a.40.95). Numerous patrols were sent out all of whom reported that the enemy were still holding their front line strongly.
18th April: "D" Company were relieved by "C" Company. Casualties: 4 O.R. wounded; Captain E.H. Allen, Captain D.V. Thomas and 2/Lt V.N. Moss joined for duty from 1st Corps during 16th April 1917.
19th April: "A" Company moved up in Support of KSLI, SUNKEN ROAD TRENCH.
20th/21st April: LES BREBIS: Battalion was relieved and moved into billets at LES BREBIS.
22nd April: PHILOSOPHE: Battalion moved into PHILOSOPHE in the morning and back in to the front line trenches at LOOS in the evening, relieving the 11th Essex, who had made further progress since April 20th. Dispositions: "C" and "D" Companies in NOVAL ALLEY (N.1.a.10.65 to N.1.a.60.15), "A" Company original front line M.6.b.90.20 to N.1.a.40.95. "B" Company in SUPPORT (TRENCH M.6.b.90.45 to N.1.a.10.10). Battalion H.Q. DUGOUT at G.36.d.40.30. 2/Lt T.E.G. Bullock (attached Brigade Pioneer Company, wounded and missing; 2 O.R. (attached Brigade Pioneer Company, wounded.)
23rd April: TRENCHES LOOS: Front line trenches. Enemy shelled our newly won trenches very considerably. 2/Lt L.A.E.S. Bilton, killed; 1 O.R. killed; 9 O.R. wounded.
24th April: Night of 24th/25th, Battalion was relieved by 9th Suffolks and moved into Billets at PHILOSOPHE. 2 O.R. killed; 17 O.R. wounded.
25th April: PHILOSOPHE: 5 O.R. wounded with Brigade Pioneer Company.
26th April: PHILOSOPHE: 1 O.R. wounded with Brigade Pioneer Company.
27th April: PHILOSOPHE: [Nothing to report]
28th April: Battalion relieved 1st KSLI in front line West of CITE ST.ELIE. Battalion held a front of about 1,600 yards from G.17.c.30.70 to G.5.c.10.10. Dispositions:- Right "C" Company; Centre "B" Company; Left "A" Company; Support "D" Company. Battalion H.Q. DUGOUT at G.11.c.50.70. Battalion was supported by 2 Companies of 1st Corps Cyclists (attached). TRENCH STRENGTH: 410; 15 O.R. reinforcements.
29th April: TRENCHES: Front Line. Comparatively quiet sector. 122 O.R. Reinforcements joined Training Company.
30th April: TRENCHES: Front Line. 1 O.R. Killed.
HONOURS & AWARDS during April 1917
M.C.s: 2/Lt J.H. Hughes (wounded), 2/Lt G. Brown, 2/Lt F.H. Griffiths (wounded); D.C.M. - 8213 C.S.M. Field W;
Military Medals: 6625 Corporal Richards G.T.; 10026 Corporal Stuart J.; 8512 Sergeant Edwards W.A.; Lance Corporal Admans S.; 6593 Corporal Brownrigg P.D.; 5800 Private Carey F; 8079 Private Moss A.; 9682 Sergeant McWalter J.R.; 9979 Private Eldridge C.; 6779 Lance Corporal Platts A.; 10019 Private Downs E.
1st May 1917: HULLOCH SECTOR: Evening: Battalion was relieved by 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment and side-slipped to the Right, relieving the 2nd Battalion Y&L Regiment. Battalion held a front of about 1,500 yards, fromH.25.b.10.50 to H.13.c.20.50. Disposition:- Right "A" Company; Centre "B" Company; Left "C" Company; Reserve "D" Company. Brigade H.Q. at G.23.d.90.90. Military Medals awarded to 9682 Sergeant McWalter, 10026 Corporal Stuart, 6779 Lance Corporal Platts, 4217 Lance Corporal Admans, 5800 Private Carey. Joined for Duty: 2/Lts A.E. Dyer, L.J. Derick & A.J.F. Charlier.
2nd May: Trenches HULLOCH: Trenches. Quiet Sector.
3rd May: Right SubSector: Evening of 3/5/17 Battalion was relieved by 1st K.S.L.I. and proceeded to huts in MAZINGARBE. 2 O.R. killed; 5 O.R. wounded.
4th May: MAZINGARBE: 41 O.R. joined Training Company.
Thursday 3 May 1917 saw the heaviest casualties for Lynsted when 5 men were lost at the Third Battle of the Scarpe.
The stories of these 5 men follow similar paths. Amos Brown and Reginald Weaver both served in 6th (Service) Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment). Stanley Cleaver and MacDonald Dixon served in both the Royal East Kent Yeomanry (The Duke of Connaught’s Own) (Mounted Rifles) and 7th (Service) Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment). William Gambrill served in both Royal East Kent Yeomanry (The Duke of Connaught’s Own) (Mounted Rifles) and the Household Battalion, Household Cavalry and Cavalry of the Line, alongside Henry Carrier who was lost 8 days later on on 11 May 1917.
Three more men were lost that day from the Creekside Cluster. Harry Filmer, lost from Newnham, served in the 1st (Service) Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment). William Henry Laker, lost from Teynham, served alongside Stanley Cleaver and MacDonald Dixon serving in 7th (Service) Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment). George Potts, also lost from Teynham, served alongside Amos Brown and Reginald Weaver, 6th (Service) Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment).
Six of these eight men fell without a known grave and are recorded in Bay 2 of the Arras Memorial alongside 242 other men from The Buffs who perished that day. They are Amos John Brown, Stanley Monkton Cleaver, MacDonald Dixon, William Henry Laker, George Potts and Reginald Douglas Weaver.
Click on image for larger version