First World War Project
Edward George LUCKHURST (of Teynham)
b. Q4, 1891
Private, Service Number 229343
Edward was born into an agricultural labouring family with early generations centred around Charing in particular. It was his father's generation that made the connections closer to Teynham, becoming firmly established via Faversham, Ospringe and Lynsted. Edward was born to William Thomas (born in Ospringe) and Julia (née Jackson) and had five surviving siblings - six others died in their infancies. He had two older brothers, William T and Percy John, two younger brothers, George Charles and Thomas Stanley and only one younger sister, Annie Julia Elizabeth. Edward and his brothers William, Percy and George were each born in Lynsted, while his two youngest siblings were born in Teynham. Before the War, Edward appeared in the 1911 Census as a Waggoner's Mate while living at Brabourne Cottages, Norton. It is not clear where his wife was living when she became a widow - potentially with her in-laws (14 Station Row) or in Norton; alternatively 17 Eastwood Cottages, Oare.
So far as we can tell, there are no close family links between Edward and our other casualty with that family name, Albert Henry, casualty from Oare.
In 1914, Edward married Faversham girl, Kate Wellard who became his sole beneficiary. Kate received personal effects that amounted to £18 10s. War Gratuity and outstanding pay of £20 7s 7d. [See Appendix 2] Edward was posthumously awarded the British War and Victory Medals. [See Appendix 1]
Edward's remains were exhumed for reburial on 15th November 1919 (Map reference found at 57c.G.10.d.73. he was identified by a Cross bearing the remaining characters - "22734 Private Luckhurst E.C.") He was reburied with standard headstone and no family additions paid for.
Edward's medal record gives us an insight into his experience from his first short posting on 23rd September 1917 to the 4th (Reserve) Battalion, East Kent Regiment (Private, 200154). Four days later, on 28th September 1917, Edward was posted (Private, 229343) into the 32nd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, and finally the 10th Battalion on 16th March 1918. From these dates we might speculate that Edward first enlisted in (or before) April 1917 (to allow six months for training).
32nd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers
Posted 28th September 1917. At this time the Brigade had moved to Operations On The Flanders Coast from 26/09/1917. The 41st Division had moved to the area of Bray Dunes, De Panne and Oost-Dunkerke (Oostduinkerke) in readiness to take part in the proposed attack. Those operations were postponed several times until finally abandoned in October. This was a relatively quiet sector of the line in which they remained until 11th November, when the Division was withdrawn from the Western Front for transfer to Italy.
The Battalion in Italy. On 7th November 1917, the 41st Division was told that it would move to the Italian Front to strengthen the Italian resistance and assumed control of a front line sector behind the River Piave. Entrainment began on 12th November and the first units detrained in the Mantua area on 16th November, with concentration completed north-west of Mantua on 18th November.
Joining the XIV Corps, on 2nd December, the Division took over a sector of the front north-west of Treviso, on the Piave. The Division was relieved by 7th Division between 16th and 19th January 1918, following which it then spent a time in GHQ Reserve.
On 16th February the 41st Division returned to the Front when it relieved the 23rd Division in the front line north of Montebelluna until 26th February when it was relieved by 23rd Division.
On 18th March 1918, the 32nd Battalion returned to France to be disbanded and soldiers were posted to other Brigades.
Edward was posted into the 10th Battalion on 16th March 1918 until he fell on the south edge of Achiet le Grande on 25th August 1918 during the Battalion attack on Favreuil. He was buried with a cross marking his passing until his body was exhumed and 'concentrated' to the Military Extension to the Achiet-Le-Grand Communal Cemetery to the North West of the town.
On his arrival with the Battalion it moved from Support to rest in Vijverhoek, south-west of Ypres. On 29th March, the Battalion entrained for Mentieres, near Amiens, then marched via Freshincourt to Vauchelles les Authrie. From this position, the battalion remained in the Louvencourt Sector. At the beginning of May, the battalion were bussed to Ferrieres. In June they moved to the Amiens/Lens Sector to the south-west around Hebecourt and Prouzel. On 21st June, the Battalion entrained from Prouzel for Mondicourt then eastwards to Henu. In August the Battalion arrived in the Ablainzevelle sector, north-west of Bapaume.
On 23rd August, the Battalion went into Reserve for an attack on Achiet le Grand and Bihucourt. This is where we pick up the War Diary.
Circumstances of the death of Edward George Luckhurst
The daily War Diary entries are very brief but the action (21st to 26th August) was recorded in greater detail in a formal report - see "Additional Documents" below.
"21st: August: 12.15 a.m. Companies and Battalion Headquarters move into assembly positions in VERY TRENCH to attack ABLEINZEVELLE.
Battalion advances into attack simultaneously with the barrage coming down.
22nd: Battalion moves in to Bivouacs and trenches South of LOGEAST WOOD.
23rd: Battalion acting as Battalion in support to Brigade. Takes up its assembly positions N.E. of LOGEAST WOOD to attack ACHIET LE GRAND and BIHUCOURT.
24th: Battalion moves back into dug-outs in Railway cutting at ACHIET LE GRAND.
25th: Battalion moves forward to take up its assembly positions for attack on FAVREUIL acting as Battalion in support to BRIGADE.
26th: 111th Infantry Brigade relieved by 2nd Battalion Kings Own Scottish Borderers. Relief complete. Battalion moves to LOGEAST WOOD.
27th to 30th August: Cleaning up. Specialist Training under Company arrangements.
1st to 2nd September: Battalion carried out training under Company arrangements in LOGEAST WOOD."
Family of Edward George Luckhurst
The 10th Bn. ROYAL FUSILIERS were ordered to attack the Village of ABLAINZEVELLE at 4.55 a.m. on the morning of the 21st August, 1918.
They were given the assistance an Artillery and Machine Gun barrage, also 8 Tanks.
The dispositions decided upon were as follows:- B Company followed by D Company were to work their way round the South or the Village and to take the final objective and consolidate it. C & A Companies, C Company on the left, A Company on the right, with the assistance of the Tanks, were to proceed through the Village and carry out the mopping up. This attack was to take place without any preliminary bombardment.
When the morning of the day of the attack broke there was a heavy ground mist which had begun to gather the previous night, and, owing to this the Battalion and the Tanks were able to take their assembly positions without being observe or creating any suspicion.
At 4.55 a.m. the barrage came down, the Battalion advancing into the attack at the same time.
Although the mist was the greatest assistance in screening the advancing troops, at the same time it became exceedingly difficult tor the Infantry to maintain direction, or for the Platoons to pick up the Tanks with which they were collaborating.
B Company followed by D Company, in accordance with orders, advanced round the South of the Village and reached the final objective.
On arriving at this, D Company at once relieved B Company and commenced to consolidate the position. This was all done by 5.30 a.m. and touch was established with the 13th Battalion the RIFLE BRIGADE on the left and the 13th Battalion. KINGS ROYAL RIFLE CORPS on the right.
"A" Company, whose duty it was to mop up the Southern half of the Village, met with little opposition and had cleared their Sector, taking a certain number of prisoners and several Machine guns, without having one single casualty.
"C" Company on the left, however, came under Machine gun fire from the moment they started over. The fire was coming from the N.W. corner of the Village, a point too near our assembly positions to be caught by the barrage. In a very short time, however, the Machine Guns and their crews were captured and C Company was able to complete its task.
Some 56 prisoners, 6 Machine guns and one trench mortar were taken, including two officers, who stated that, although they expected an attack sometime in the future it had come as a great surprise to them that morning.
At 5.45 a.m. the 63rd (ROYAL NAVAL) DIVISION commenced to pass through ABLAINZEVELLE to attack LOGEAST WOOD.
At 8 o'clock, in accordance with orders, A Company formed a series of posts round the outskirts of the Village, and B & C Companies were brought back into reserve.
At 11 a.m. on the morning of the 23rd the 111th INFANTRY BRIGADE attacked ACHIET-LE-GRAND from the N. E. of LOGEAST WOOD. The 10th Battalion ROYAL FUSILIERS being in BRIGADE SUPPORT.
At 11 o'clock the barrage opened, the Brigade moving forward at the same time.
The attack proceeded in a very satisfactory manner, the Village falling into our hands within an hour.
At 1.30 p.m. the 10th Battalion ROYAL FUSILIERS, according to plan, passed through the other two Battalions of the Brigade front, after the heavy Artillery had bombarded the Village for one hour.
The dispositions of the Battalion were as follows: D Company on the left, B Company in the centre, A Company on the right hand C Company in support.
It was found that the German Garrison holding this village was quite a large one and they offered quite a considerable amount of resistance, but this was soon overcome by our troops, 2/Lieut. W. F. SMITH with his Platoon, only 19 strong, capturing 118 of the enemy.
The red dotted line on the Eastern side of the Village was reached and consolidated.
The Unit on the Right Flank had been unable to advance owing to Machine Gun fire, and although we had captured the Village a very large pocket of the enemy still occupied a position about 400 yards South of village, our right flank being entirely in the air throughout the rest of the day and the whole night.
After the fall of this Village it was subjected to an exceedingly heavy bombardment of large calibre shells, practically all of which contained gas, but this caused very few casualties as none of our troops remained in the Village itself.
On the evening of the 24th the 112th BRIGADE took over the line and the Battalion proceeded back to dug-outs in the railway cutting (ACHIET-LE-GRAND)
At 6.30 p.m. on the evening of the 25th the Battalion moved forward to take up its assembly position to attack FAVREUIL acting as the Battalion in support to the Brigade.
Owing to the distance and to the fact that the Battalion passed through heavy barrage South of SAPIGINES it was impossible to get into jumping off positions before ZERO. Barrage opened shortly after Battalion crossed SAPIGINES-BAPAUME Road and 10th Battalion. ROYAL FUSILIERS advanced straight towards FAVREUIL. The 13th Battalion KINGS ROYAL RIFLE CORPS were held up by heavy Machine Gun fire 500yds West of Village and were unable to advance. Perceiving this the 10th Battalion ROYAL FUSILIERS manoeuvring below ridge moved to SOUTH and instead of delivering attack from W. and N.W. as intended, attacked from S.W. and the enemy, who was in trench West of Village in great strength, finding himself outflanked, surrendered (60 prisoners and 12 Machine Guns). However large number of enemy and about 12 Machine Guns continued to hold Orchard and North Easterly portion of the Village, making the advance difficult.
After dark a Platoon under 2/Lieut. C.W.N. WOODCOCK moved along North edge of FAVREUIL, and they were fired on by several Machine Guns from the Orchard. These were rushed and Machine Gun and crew captured. Another Platoon moving up centre of Village established touch with 13th Battalion THE RIFLE BRIGADE on East side, they were also fired on from direction of Orchard. Shortly after midnight enemy finding himself almost surrounded, withdrew.
In the meantime 2/Lieut. N. USHER and two Platoons of A Company had pressed forward to a distance of 400 yards East of the Village and killed in a gap of about 80 yards which existed between the 13th Battalion THE RIFLE BRIGADE and the NEW ZEALANDERS.
By 3 a.m. the Village was in our hands, although touch had not been maintained with Division on the left.
At 6.30 a. m. the next morning tile Brigade was relieved by the 2nd KINGS OWN SCOTTISH BORDERERS, 6th DIVISION.
During these five days 1,366 prisoners, 75 Machine Guns and 1 Field Gun were captured.