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
Elvey Thomas SIMS (of Lynsted)
b. 10th June 1896
d. 28th March 1918. Aged 21
Household Cavalry and Cavalry of the Line
5th Dragoon Guards (Princess Charlotte of Wales Own)
Remembered with Honour
Pozières Memorial, Somme - Panel 2
Killed in Action
Elvey was born on 10 June 1896 at 8 Ivy Place, York Road, Canterbury. The youngest child of William Albert, a brewer's drayman, and Kezia, sometimes listed as Rosia or Keziah, (née Hopkins), who was employed as a servant. He was christened in St Mildred's church on 19 July 1896, where the register incorrectly names him as Elvy. Elvey had three elder siblings: Alfred William, Annie Sarah and Walter George.
By the time of the 1901 Census, the family had moved to 11 Nunnery Fields, Canterbury. Just three years later, in 1904, Elvey's mother died aged 44. On 13 November 1905, William married Mary Jane Fairbrass, the sister-in-law of his daughter, in Littlebourne Church.
The 1911 Census finds William, now employed as a cowman, and Mary, listed as a dressmaker. They were living in Ivy Cottage, The Street, Lynsted, where Elvey had gained a step-brother, Harry Alfred William, and stepsister, Ida Mary. A further step-brother, Norman, would arrive in 1912. However, at this time, 14-year-old Elvey was living with his sister, Annie and her husband, Edward Marsh Wood Fairbrass, a master butcher, and their three children Rosetta, William and Ernest. Elvey was employed as their servant at 114 Northgate, Canterbury.
We know Elvey enlisted in Canterbury at the outset of the war, in August 1914. If he enlisted using his true age of 18 he would not have been eligible to serve at the front until he reached 19 years of age in June 1915. He was a recipient of the 1914-15 Star. This confirms he served at the front some time between 5 August and 22 November 1914. Indeed the newspaper notice of his death states that Elvey went to France in 1914 as part of the Expeditionary Force. This places Elvey in France while still underage.
On arriving in France, it was possible that during his first days he would have been part of an inspection by Field Marshal Sir John French on 4 December, followed the next day by an inspection by King George V. December was a time for the regiment to top-up on officers, men and horses and undertake training. Christmas saw the arrival of a "large consignment of plum pudding". Elvey's long war would now begin.
Elvey's first major action was probably the Second Battle of Ypres, between the 2 April and 25 May 1915, during which the regiment's losses amounted to 2 officers killed, 8 officers wounded; 29 other ranks killed and 73 wounded. No ground being won or lost.
However, things were beginning to change for cavalry troops: although they had proved their worth against infantry troops during the early stages of the war, static trench warfare was becoming the norm. The last cavalry charges were undertaken by an Indian cavalry unit during the Battle of the Somme. Although effective, these were at the expense of 102 men and 130 horses. From then on, tanks would replace the cavalry charge. The cavalry squadrons were now thrown into short, sharp interventions, relying on mobility to fill gaps or bolster numbers of other formations. They had to turn their hands to "dismounting" to bury cables and dig trenches. The war diaries paint a mind-set that is, at its core, that these soldiers were horsemen first and only temporarily ‘dismounted' to go into trenches, etc. The horses were always near to hand. The key ‘flexibility' of these soldiers and their formations meant that as this period unfolded you saw them move quickly to new areas that, quite frequently, meant they then fell under the orders of other Corps. Even when on Route March to one destination, they were sometimes called on to divert to an area of greater strategic importance or serious risk.
There is little specific information about Elvey's military career, but the war diaries of his regiment illustrate the fluid lifestyle he experienced. I make no apology for including large extracts of the war diaries to illustrate Elvey's 3-year 8-month service. These give a clinical illustration of Elvey's experiences and the momentous battles he survived. It is unusual to find a soldier with such long First World War service. The regimental war diary reports:
|Date||Summary events and Information|
|March 1916||In billets and Training.
A digging party, consisting of 2 Officers and 88 other ranks for employment under the direction of the First Army in the 4th Corps area proceeded on 29th to be billeted in the vicinity of VERDREL, South of BETHUNE.
|April 1916||Regiment remained in Billets as during March. Digging Parties provided at times.|
|May 1916 1st - 23rd||Regiment remained in Billets.|
|24th||Regiment paraded at 8.45pm and proceeded to Brigade Rendezvous at BEUTIN. At 9.45pm Brigade marched via BEUTIN – SORUS – CAMPIGNEULLES – Les-Petits-WAILY to cross roads just North of NEMPONT where Regiment were met by guides and conducted to billets.
Squadron billeted at MONTIGNY, Grande PREAUX.
|June 26th||Heavy rain during the day. Paraded at 8.15pm and proceeded to Brigade Rendezvous at SAULCHOY Church from where at 9.15pm Brigade marched via YVRENCH – DOMQUER – CHAUSSEE de BRUNERAUT to St OUEN which was reached at 1.30am, 27th. Horses of Brigade picketed on Communal Land.|
|27th||Regiment paraded at 8.0pm and proceeded to Brigade Rendezvous at the 5 cross roads one mile North of the "V" of FORET-EN-CHAUSEE – Northern outskirts of AMIENS to QUERIEU where Regiment was met by guides and conducted to bivouac in small wood North of QUERRIEU. Reached bivouacs at 2.30am, 28th.|
As with so many troops, Elvey was now in position for the first day of the Battle of the Somme:
|Date||Summary events and Information|
|July 1st 1916||Regiment paraded at 3.30am and marched with Brigade to area near BRESLE where they remained in a position of readiness throughout the day ready to exploit the success of the Infantry if they succeeded in breaking the German Front Line.
The enemy resistance not having been broken down, orders were received at 5.30pm to return to North QUERRIEU. Bivouac which was reached about 9.0pm.
|5th July||Paraded at 7.15pm and proceeded via QUERRIEU Road and thence along Southern Bank of the SOMME through AILLY-sur-SOMME – PICQUIGNY and HANGEST-sur-SOMME to CONDE – FOLIE where Regiment arrived about 1.0pm and went into Billets.|
|11th||Marched to new billets in area PICQUIGNY – AMIENS to QUERRIEU. Bivouacs.|
|13th||Proceeded via FRANVILLERS, BRESL, LAVIEVILLE to bivouacs around BUIRE-sur-L'ANCRE.|
|15th||Proceeded near DERNAMCOURT.|
|21st||Proceeded to QUERRIEU.
Remained in Bivouacs to 8th August.
|9th Aug||Marched via LES ALENCONS – CITADELLE – LONGPRE – FLIXECOURT to bivouac at L'ETOILE.|
|10th||Marched via LONG – PONT REMY – BAILLEUL – LIMEAU – HUPPY – GREBAULT – MESIL – VISMES-au-VAL to ANSENNE.|
|11-13th||Remained in Bivouacs in ANSENNE.|
In September 1916 the Regiment marked its second anniversary of mobilisation. The men and horses that sailed for France in September 1914 now formed only 33% of the Officers, 37% of the other ranks and 32% of the horses on the current strength.
As the battle continues the war diary lists the almost daily marching to areas around the Somme to plug holes. On the cessation of the Somme battles, Elvey went into billets in Frenq.
The first three months of 1917 were spent in billets and training prior to Elvey's regiment taking part in both the Battles of Arras and Passchendaele:
|Date||Summary events and Information|
|Dismounted Party = 72 Other Ranks under 2/Lieutenant F.T. TURNER proceeded to LACRES and there billeted for night prior to concentration at SAMER of 1st Cavalry Divisional Party for attachment to Canadian Corps.|
|5th||Regiment marched via RECQUES – MONTCAVREL – CLENLU to Billeting area SEMPY – HUMBERT – ST. MICHEL-sous-BOIS.|
|7th||Rendezvous at PLANQUES and marched with Brigade to area about ST.POL. Regiment bivouacked at GAUCHIN VERLOIGNT.|
|8th||Rendezvous at MARQUAY and marched with Brigade via BAILLEUL-aux-CORNAILLES – CHELERS – VILLERS-BRULIN – AUBIGNY to Bivouac at AGNIERS. "B" Echelon proceeded to ST.MICHEL-sur-TERNOISE.The following message send and receive:- To H.M.KING ALBERT [Editor's note: King of Belgium.] 8-4-17. All ranks Fifth Dragoon Guards wish their Colonel-in-Chief a Happy Birthday. Signed W.Q.WINWOOD, Lt. Colonel, 5th Dragoon Guards.|
|10th||Brigade was standing to at one hour's notice from the previous evening. At 11.45 am orders were received to move at once in support of XVII Corps, Third Army, and operate North of the SCARPE. Route: via MONT ST.ELOY – thence round ARRAS via ST.CATHERINE and ST.NICHOLAS, thence along road via ST.LAURENT – BLAGNY to ATHIES.
The road allotted to the Brigade as far as the outskirts of ARRAS was in a very bad condition, after which the road along the N. bank of the SCARPE was not only very bad but much congested with traffic going both ways. On reaching ATHIES it was ascertained from the G.O.C. 12th Infantry Brigade that the situation was: that the 12th Infantry Brigade had taken FAMPOUX the previous day without much loss but found itself unable to advance. During the evening its advance was further checked with some loss.
Our Line was from the POINT DU JOUR round the East of FAMPOUX to the River SCARPE.
The Germans had dug and were improving a trench running N.W. and S.E. about 500 yards from FAMPOUX. The sunken road from Station to GAVRELLE was held by machine guns and there were machine guns along the Railway, dug in, which could fire N. and N.W. and at least 4 machine guns were located there.
The advance troop under 2/Lt J.JORDAN reached the X-roads in FAMPOUX but was unable to make further progress owing to coming under machine gun fire from both flanks. Mounted action was evidently not feasible. There was no scope, the troops were in a regular neck of a bottle, with no chance of outflanking movement.
There was a good deal of shelling on the part of the Germans and although good cover had been taken 5 men were killed, and 11 wounded (2 afterwards died) also 16 horses killed and 32 wounded.
Shortly after dark the Regiment was ordered to withdraw to a field East of ATHIES and it was nearly midnight before the Regiment settled into bivouac.
Remained saddled-up throughout the night in readiness to support the Infantry holding FAMPEUX. Several further casualties to horses from shell fire.
The weather was bitterly cold with a biting wind and snow storms.
|11th||About 9.0 am withdrew to West of ATHIES and remained till 12 noon when Brigade again advanced East. The intention was that the enemy should be attacked along the line WANCOURT – GUEMAPPE – MONCH – PREUX – PELVES – MOUNT PLEASANT WOOD with the object of South of the SCARPE of gaining the QUEANT-DURY Line and North of the SCARPE of consolidating the line PLOUVIN – GREENLAND HILL. The 4th Infantry Division were ordered to secure the line PLOUVIN – GREENLAND HILL – HYDERABAD Redoubt. 12th, 10th and 11th Infantry Brigades in this order from South to North were ordered to carry out this attack. Had the 4th Division been successful with this attack it was intended that the 1st Cavalry Brigade should push forward strong reconnaissance on the line VITRY-en-ARTOIS – FRESNES-les-MONTAUBAN – GAVRELL and further to the North to the line IZEL-les-EQUERCHIN – NEUVIREUIL – OPPY.
The attack did not make the progress that was expected, and the Brigade received orders to bivouac West of ATHIES. Bivouac reached at 7.0pm. Heavy snow fall. Men and horses very uncomfortable.
|12th||Received orders to march at 9.0am to AGNIERES. Owing to congested state of road unable to leave bivouac till 11.0 am. Owing to road not being available through congestion of traffic, Regiment had to march by a hack across ground between old British and German trenches which had been fought over a few days previously. Going was very heavy indeed and the march proved very distressing to the horses.
Arrived AGNIERES at 5.0 pm, and bivouacs. "B" Echelon re-joined.
|13th||Remained in bivouac at AGNIERS. Dismounted Party under Lieut F.T.TURNER re-joined. This Party had been employed with the dismounted details of the 1st Cavalry Division attached to the CANADIAN CORPS during attack on VIMY RIDGE. (1 casualty – 638 Private PITT wounded (subsequently died).|
Marched at 8.0 am via SAVY – ST.POL – LE PARCK to billets at AUCHY-les-HESDIN. Dismounted Party – 2 officers, 70 Other Ranks – proceeded to Cavalry Corps. Reinforcement Depot FREVENT. "B" Echelon billeted for night at CROIX.
Passchendaele (3rd Battle of Ypres) 31 July – 6 November 1917
While this battle opened up, the 5th Dragoon Guards retired from the Ypres Sector, travelling west to Ruminghem then south-west close to Boulogne (Verlincthun). They stayed put there from 27 August until the end of September. Given the freedom and speed of movement enjoyed by the Dragoon Guards, we might speculate that they took up this position in readiness for urgent intervention or strengthening of ground forces. As the Battle of Passchendaele continued, from 10th October, the 5th Dragoon Guards were on the move again and marched past Arras, to Questrecques, where they stayed into November.
After the close of the Battle of Passchendaele the 5th Dragoon Guards were finally called on to take an active role in a salient, south and west of Cambrai. Elvey and his comrades would be thrown into action after marching to Trescault. This is where we pick up his story in the War Diary:
|Date||Date Summary events and Information|
|Marched via CAPPY – HERBECOURT – BIACHES – FLAMICOURT – DOINCT to BUIRE.|
|16-19th||In billets at BUIRE.|
|20th||Marched via DOINGT – St.DENIS – HOUT ALLAINES – MOISLAINS – MANANCOURT – ETRICOURT – EQUANCOURT to Concentration Area N.W. of FINS.
Left concentration area at 8.40am – marched through METZ-en-COUTURE – TRESCAULT and reached GRAND RAVIN about 12 noon in rear of 4th Dragoon Guards.
51st Division held up in front of FLESQUIERES. About 1.30pm 2/Lt G.R.MILES who had been sent out on patrol to ascertain if MARCOING was clear, reported it clear, so Regiment advanced via PREMY-CAPEL to west side of Canal at MARCOIGN.
At MARCOIGN Station, consulted with Colonel ELLIS Commanding 6th Border Regiment and Colonel KELLY Commanding INNISKILLINS of the 29th Division and found that Infantry were held up at FLOT FARM.
At 4pm Capt. H.O.WILEY's Squadron was sent forward to try and take farm, but found ground in front strongly wired, and M.Gun fire from farm and from the east made it impossible to advance.
A Tank which advanced to help the Inniskillin Battalion on right of MASNIERES was heavily fired at from direction of RUMILLY. 2 troops of Major H.E.E.PANKHURST's Squadron were sent off to try and get on along eastern bank of Canal, but found progress impossible owing to M.Gun fire from FLOT FARM and uncut wire. Darkness came which made any further operations impossible.
Got in touch with 2 patrols of 7th D. Guards, operating on our right. At 5.15pm Regiment received orders to retire to spot 1,000 yards west of MARCOING on MARCOING-RIBECOURT Road. Sniped at going through MARCOING, remained saddled up all night, heavy rain.
|21st||At 5.45am Regiment received orders to re-join 1st Cavalry Brigade at TRESCAULT at 7am. As regiment moved off 5 men of Capt. WILEY's Squadron were wounded, and 1 horse killed by M.Gun fire.
Marched through RIBECOURT and re-joined 1st Cavalry Brigade at TRESCAULT.
Marched through RIBECOURT and re-joined 1st Cavalry Brigade at TRESCAULT.
At 9.30am, Brigade moved off to clear up situation at CANTAING and FONTAINE-NOTRE-DAME. Order of march – Queens Bays, 5th D.Guards, 11th Hussars, attached to Infantry, the 186th Brigade, 62nd Division, on left of CANTAING. Queen's Bays advanced to BOIS DES NEUF on right of Infantry attack on CANTAING.
At 12 noon Lieut J.JORDAN and 2/Lt CLEUGH went out on patrol towards mill ½ mile west of CANTAING and LA JUSTICE with Major H.E.E.PANKHURST's Squadron in support with orders to ascertain whether the batteries firing S.W. of CANTAING were hostile or friendly and to sweep round to west of CANTAING, and assist Infantry attack on village. Major H.E.E. PANKHURST communicated by daylight lamp to G.O.C., 1st Cavalry Brigade that batteries were ours. He sent out patrols to ascertain situation towards BOURLON WOOD and FONTAINE, Sergt WHEAR carrying out a particularly good reconnaissance.
2.30pm: Report received from Lieut J.JORDAN that FONTAINE was held by enemy, and that we had not taken CANTAING.
Meanwhile the QUEEN'S BAYS were assisting the Infantry and Lieut BARNARD'S Squadron following up in support of a Tank got a footing in CANTAING and held it.
3 pm: The D.L.I. having gone forward to help the attack, Capt. WILEY'S Squadron was sent forward to fill up a reported gap in the line occasioned by the D.L.I. advancing. He found no such gap, so advanced beyond BOIS DES NEUF and gained touch with the enemy on MOYELLES in front of a Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment.
Major PANKHURST'S Squadron, was ordered to report to O.C. Queen's Bays to assist in the defence of CANTAING, and remained in trenches supporting Queen's Bays during the night 21st-22nd and till 3.30pm 23rd. During this period they suffered 4 casualties – L/Cpl CHALMERS Killed and 3 O.R. Wounded.
4.10pm: Received orders that Division would be relieved by 6th and 51st Infantry Division. Captain WILEY'S Squadron re-joined Regiment in HINDENBURG support line on PREMY Ridge which had been heavily shelled during the afternoon, as it was in direct observation by the enemy.
8pm: Capt. WINTERBOTTOM's Squadron was called upon to support a party of 40 men to act as Stretcher Bearers, to bring back wounded men of the Queen's Bays from CANTAING. These men did very good work.
5 refugees sent back from CANTAING, stated that there were 160 civilians left there when village was captured. They gave information re state of roads etc. but nothing of importance about enemy forces etc. They were escorted back to Divisional HQ at RIBECOURT. Total casualties for 21st:- 5 O.R.'s wounded (includes 1 slightly, remained at duty). 3 Riding horses killed.
|22nd||Moved out to bivouac ground ½ mile west of METZ-en-COUTURE.|
|23rd||Regiment stood to at 10 minutes notice from 10.30am. 9th Brigade moved up to support 40th Infantry Division which had suffered heavy losses at BOURLON WOOD.
9pm: Received orders that Brigade would remain in bivouac for the night. Casualties for the day:- 3 Riding Horses wounded.
|24th||Nov At 11am orders were received that the Brigade would form a dismounted Battalion to reinforce the front line, and that the Regiment would furnish 1 Company.
11.15pm: Orders received for Battalion to go up.
HQ of Battalion were established at Sugar Factory, 1 mile SW of BOURLON WOOD on BOURSIES-CAMBRAI Road. Casualties for 24th:- 1 O.R. missing.
|25th||The Dismounted Battalion moved off at 12.20am and marched via HAVRINGCOURT and GRAINCOURT to sunken road in E.29.a. heavy rain and rough wind. Battalion arrived at E.29.a at about 6.30am.
After a brief rest 5th D.Guards Company was ordered to take over from Middlesex Regt. Who were holding sunken road from E.17.c.9.4. to E.17.d.5.0. with posts thrown forward. Owing to late hour and enemy snipers, it was impossible to relieve some of the posts till 5 pm when relief was carried out by XI Hussars when Company went into support.
11pm: Lieut T.EDWARDS having reconnoitred during afternoon to find Battalion took up their rations. Casualties:- 5th D.Gds.Co 5 ORs wounded.
Remainder of Brigade remained in bivouac.
5th D.G's Company in support, enemy shelled neighbourhood heavily all day.
|27th||Brigade moved back at 11 am to SUZANNE Area. Route:- NEUVILLE – FINS – EQUANCOURT – MOISLAINS – BOUCHAVESNES – CLERY – MARICOURT – SUZANNE.
Regiment at CAPPY – arrived at 5.45pm. Accommodation:- Adrian Huts and covered standings for horses.
|30th||Received orders at 10.35am that Brigade would saddle up at once ready to move up, as Germans had attacked and penetrated our line opposite GOUZEAUCOURT.
Marched via HERBECOURT – PERONNE to BUSSU to bivouac.
|1st Dec||6.15am: Marched from bivouac ground at BUSSU via LONGAVESNES – VILLERS-FAUCON to bivouac ground 1000 yards N.E. of VILLERS-FAUCON arriving at 10am with orders to stand to at ½ an hour's notice.
10.30am: Divisional Commander, Major General R.L.MULLENS, C.B. rode to bivouac ground and congratulated Lieut. J.JORDAN on winning the Military Cross for his reconnaissance on November 22nd and later in the day official confirmation of this was received and that the Military Medal was bestowed on the following N.C.O.s for their good work in the operations of November 21st, 22nd:-
No.1803 Sergeant J. WHEAR; No3058 Lt Corporal W.J.DAGNAN.
4.15pm: Received orders that regiment would furnish a working party of 3 Officers, and 191 men to dig a support trench behind front line.
|2nd||3.55pm: Orders received that the Division would go into the trenches that night, each of the 3 Brigades forming a battalion, battalions to be ready to move by 6pm.
6pm: The 1st Battalion paraded, marched off, and took over trenches from GAUCHE WOOD to VAUCELETTE FARM, about 12 midnight. Queen's Bays and XI Hussars Companies in front line, 5th Dragoon Guards Company in support, 2nd Battalion on left. Quiet night.
|3rd||12.30am Received Orders that remainder of Brigade would take back the horses to SUZANNE area that morning.
9.30am: Brigade marched via LONGAVESNES – TEMPLEUX-la-FOSSE – MOISLAINS – BOUCHAVESNES – CLERY – to SUZANNE area. Regiment arrived at CAPPY at 3.15pm and took over same camp as it had occupied at the end of November.
|4th-21st||Dismounted Company: From billets at CAPPY, mounted a few working parties and scouting operations.|
|22nd||Marched via HERBECOURT – PERONNE – DOINGT to BUIRE, remained in camp.|
|23rd||5.30pm: Camp was bombed by enemy aircraft, 8 bombs being dropped in quick succession, 3 within 50 yards of R.H.Q. stables. Casualties: MEN: 2 OR Killed; 2 OR Wounded. HORSES: 4 Killed; 5 Wounded. (to 26th Remained in BUIRE).|
|26th||Regiment stood to at 1 hours notice from 12 midnight 26th/27th until further orders. During stand to, Squadrons and Headquarter to be saddled up and inspected by O.C. Squadrons and Headquarters at 7.30am daily.|
|31st||Remained at BUIRE
Total Casualties for Month:- MEN: 2 Killed and 3 Wounded; HORSES: 4 Killed and 5 Wounded.
There was no let-up to the routine for Elvey but he did find time to respond to the Christmas gift he had received from the parishioners of Lynsted and Teynham. The Faversham and North East Kent News published Elvey's thanks in their 28 January 1918 issue:
Extracts from letters and cards of Teynham and Lynsted men acknowledging the cigarettes sent at Christmastide by the parishioners:
Corpl E T Sims
"The cigarettes, you may be sure, were very acceptable and will be enjoyed very much indeed. We never say no to a smoke. The weather is bitter cold out here now; at present time it is snowing (Jan 10th). Shall be very glad when the summer comes again, and, best of all, when the war ends."
Elvey would not survive to the coming of summer or the war's end. The next two months were filled with the usual working parties for trench digging and repairs.
With the start of the Spring Offensive we trace Elvey's last few days:
|Date||Summary events and Information|
|In camp at MONTECOURT.
6.30am: Received orders to saddle up and to be ready to turn out at once.
11am: Order to off saddle and to stand to at half an hours notice.
12.30pm: Orders to turn out.
1.0pm: Brigade moved up to VENDELLES and at 14.15pm orders were received that the Brigade would go up Dismounted under the Command of Lt.Col. M.R. HEAD.
5.0pm: Dismounted Brigade moved up to SMALL FOOT WOOD and the Queens Bays and 5th Dragoon Guards went into the Front line to reinforce troops of the 17th Brigade; 24th Division; (2/R.B. – 1/R.F. – 8/Queens) – SMALL FOOT WOOD and Front Line shelled until 10pm.
10.15pm: Infantry retired from VADENCOURT and "B" and "C" Squadrons took up a position in posts from Point 109 to BIHECOURT.
|22nd||6 a.m.: Position unchanged. Heavy bombardment of Front Line and SMALL FOOT WOOD from Dawn till 10 a.m. After 10.0 a.m. the bombardment increased in intensity and as by that time LE VERGUIER had fallen and in consequence the enemy was outflanking the trenches held by us and the 17th Brigade, the G.O.C. 17th Brigade gave the order for the withdrawal to the Green Line at BERNES. – Lieut. P.Y. ATKINSON with "A" Squadron only just got away as the enemy had advanced on both his flanks and almost cut him off – Ground WEST of SMALL FOOT WOOD was heavily shelled during withdrawal. On arrival at BERNES, Regiment received orders to march back to meet the led Horses at MONS-EN-CHAUSEE. Regiment then proceeded mounted to ATHIES arriving at 7.15 p.m.
10a.m.: Orders received that Brigade would take up a position of outposts at PRUSLE Crossroads to cover the retirement of the Infantry over the River SOMME at ST CHRIST in the morning.
11.30 a.m.: Regiment moved up into position. Led horses were sent back over the RIVER SOMME. Squadrons gained touch with Queens Bays on Right and 2nd Brigade on left.
|23rd||6.0 a.m.: Message from Cycle patrol that the Infantry were digging in 1,000 yards EAST of ESTREES CRATER.
6.15 a.m.: Orders received to concentrate at Brigade Headquarters and to move back to ST. CHRIST.
9.0 a.m.: Arrived at ST. CHRIST and were met by led Horses.
10.0 a.m.: Marched to MORCHAIN, watering on the way at EPENANCOURT. Arrived at MORCHAIN at 12.15 p.m. and off saddled 500 yards N.E. of Village.
1.15 p.m.: Shelled – Moved horses 500 yards N.E. of POTTE.
5.0 p.m.: Saddled up.
7.30 p.m.: Marched to Divisional concentration at CURCHY – regiment being fairly heavily shelled as it moved off sustaining several casualties to men and horses.
10.0 p.m.: Enemy aeroplane bombed bivouac at CURCHY.
12.0 midnight: Regiment supplied outposts for local protection of Division.
|24th||4.0 a.m.: Orders.
5.15 a.m.: Marched to CAPPY; arriving at 9.30 a.m.
12.30 p.m.: Dismounted Brigade was formed – 5th Dragoon Guards; 190 rifles being Commanded by Captain L.F. MITCHELL. Dismounted Brigade moved off, with Horseholders, to CARNOY where they remained the night.
7.30 p.m.: Regimental Headquarters and spare Horses moved back to CERISY; arriving at 9.30 p.m.
|25th||6.30 a.m.: Dismounted Brigade went up to fill a Gap in front of MONTAUBAN – 9th Brigade on their right – then led horses going back to BUIRE-SUR-ANCRE.
10.0 a.m.: Regimental Headquarters and spare horses marched to BUSSY-LES-DAOURS.
4.30 p.m.: Orders received that Regiment would be required to furnish an additional Trench Party of 2 Officers and 50 Other Ranks who should hold themselves in readiness to move at ½ hour's notice. Lt. P.Y. ATKINSON and 2/Lieut D.W. WHITLOCK went with this party with 2/Lieut F.E. GILLET as Adjutant to Captain YATES, XI HUSSARS, Officer Commanding Brigade party.
BRIGADIER GENERAL BEALE-BROWN, Commanding 2nd Cavalry Brigade, was in command of Divisional additional Trench party which was named "BEALE BROWN'S COLUMN".
|26th||7.0 a.m.: Captain L.F. MITCHELL's trench party joined their led horses at BUIRE-SUR-ANCRE having been in heavy fighting.
8.45 a.m.: Orders received for "BEALE BROWNS COLUMN" to saddle up and stand to.
11.10 a.m.: "BEALE BROWNS COLUMN" concentrated at Crossroads 1,500 yards South of MERICOURT – L'ABBE where the 5th Dragoon Guards and Queens Bays received orders to take up a position on high ground West of BRAY to cover the right flank of the 7th Corps. In position at 3.15 p.m.; at 4.40 p.m. fell back under heavy M.G. Fire, as the enemy had worked round the left flank, and re-joined remainder of Column and bivouacked for the night in wood 1,200 yards N.E. of VAUX-SUR-SOMME in support to outpost line supplied by 2nd and 9th Brigade parties of Column.
11.30 a.m.: Captain L.F. MITCHELL'S Trench party re-joined Regiment at BUSSY-LES-DAOURS.
12 noon: Echelon B with one man to every ten spare Horses moved off to HAVERNESS, leaving Regimental Headquarters mobile.
1.0 p.m.: Major F.J. DU PRE, D.S.O., 3rd Hussars, Commanding the 2nd Cavalry Divisional School at BUSSY-LES-DAOURS joined Regiment to be temporarily attached as 2nd in Command.
7.0 p.m.: Regiment ordered to saddle up and stand to.
9.40 p.m.: Brigade moved off and concentrated 2 kilos East of PONT-NOYELLES in support of 2nd Brigade to defend the crossings over the RIVER SOMME at DAOURS–LA NEUVILLE and CORBIE in the event of an advance by the enemy. 2/Lt T.B. BROWNE went with his troop to LA NEUVILLE and "A" Squadron placed outposts on high ground East and South of the BOIS D'ESCARDONNEUSE.
|27th||4.30 a.m.: Brigade moved up via BONNAY to support 2nd Brigade in sector MERICOURT - L'ABBE–SAILLY-LE-SEC. 5th Dragoon Guards in reserve in wood 1,200 yards N.E. of VAUX-SUR-SOMME.
11.30 a.m.: Regiment proceeded mounted to push forward in conjunction with 2nd Brigade along North Bank of RIVER SOMME. Sustained some casualties from shell fire as it moved off.
A mounted patrol under Lieut. G.F. TURNER pushed forward to 500 yards East of SAILLY-LAURETTE getting into touch with the enemy and capturing 1 prisoner. Later Lieut. G.F. TURNER's troop covered a Squadron of 4th Dragoon Guards as it fell back to SAILLY-LAURETTE.
Led horses of all three Squadrons came back to SAILLY-LE-SEC.
"B" & "C" Squadrons helped in the defence of SAILLY-LAURETTE, while "A" Squadron held the bridge over the RIVER SOMME, 500 yards South of SAILLY-LE-SEC until relieved by the Queens Bays at 6.30 p.m.
7.0 p.m.: The 1st Brigade went into the trenches to reinforce the Infantry in sector immediately South of RIVER SOMME. Brigade Front from RIVER SOMME to point 500 yards South East of HAMEL. Queens Bays on left, 5th Dragoon Guards on right, 11th Hussars in reserve.
Regimental Headquarters at last house on Eastern outskirts of HAMEL. Quiet night.
|28th||10.30 a.m.: With view to finding out how strongly the enemy were holding trenches in front of HAMEL, 2/Lieut D.W. WHITLOCK took out a patrol of 8 O.R.s and 1 Hotchkiss Rifle. The Hotchkiss Rifle was successfully brought into action against a Hostile working party when the patrol had advanced 200 yards. Patrol was then fired upon by four hostile M.G.s and returned to our trenches suffering no casualties.
11.0 a.m.: Intense shelling of front line and HAMEL throughout the day.
During March Elvey's regiment suffered the wounding of 8 Officers (2 of whom died of their wounds), 18 other ranks were killed, 67 other ranks wounded and 7 other ranks missing. It would appear that Elvey was a casualty of the shelling on 28 March 1918. He had survived 3½ years of war, the first year while serving underage.
On 11 May 1918, Elvey was remembered in the Faversham and East Kent News:
ROLL OF HONOUR
Corpl. Elvy [sic] Thomas Sims, of the Dragoon Guards, who was killed in action on March 28th, was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Sims, of Lynsted, and was formerly in the Lynsted Church Choir. He went out with the first Expeditionary Force in 1914, and in less than a year was one of only four survivors of the company with which he went out. He had escaped without a wound until the day of his death.
Elvey was posthumously awarded the 1914 Star, British War and Victory medals.
On the 29 July 1918, Elvey's father received his money owed, amounting to £19 2s 3d (£19.11p). In November 1919 he received the War Gratuity of £22. [See Appendix 2] Taken together these amount to roughly £2,200 in today's money.
In addition to the Lynsted Memorial, he is commemorated on Panel 2 of the Pozières Memorial, Somme, France (see top of page).
Elvey is also remembered in his home city of Canterbury on the memorial on The Buttermarket at the Cathedral Gate.
On the first anniversary of Elvey's death, he was remembered in the East Kent Gazette on 29 March 1919 by both his family and, touchingly, by one of his comrades in the Dragoon Guards:
SIMS: In loving memory of our dear son and step-brother, Corporal Elvy Thomas Sims, killed in action, March 28th, 1918. Gone from our midst, but for ever in our thoughts.
Dad, Stepmother, Ida, Harry and Norman.
SIMS: In loving memory of my dearest chum, Corporal Elvy Thomas Sims, killed in action, March 28th, 1918. Gone, but never forgotten.