THE GULLY FARM RAID

This photograph is taken from the edge of Railway Wood with the wood behind the camera position. Gully Farm was in the trees on the right hand side of the picture.

During the early hours of 27th January 1917, the 11th Royal Sussex (Edmund Blunden’s battalion) suffered a devastating German raid on one of their outposts in No Man's Land near Gully Farm. Creeping out from the German lines along the abandoned railway track (now a road), the raiders sheltered in a culvert before making their surprise attack on the Sussex men holding the position. The raiding party consisted of about forty men and soon overwhelmed the defenders before withdrawing to their own lines. Among the German dead was an officer of about forty years of age. In his pockets he had some 30/40 whistles, presumably to issue to his men for signalling purposes.

The German dead were carried back to battalion headquarters where, on Brigade instructions the bodies were stripped and specimens of the German Army issue of underclothing sent to Division for comparison with that issued to the British.

Among the British casualties during the Gully Farm raid were: -

No. 6541 Pte. Charles William Jupp

No. 15747 Pte. W.May

No.15771 Pte.B.Meadwell

No 15839 Pte W.J.C.Laker

Edmund Blunden wrote in 1928, that when he reached the outpost, he found that one of those killed in the action was a Lewis gunner who amazingly had fired this heavy weapon from the shoulder. Who could this be? On the basis of regimental service and age, it is likely that this would be Pte. Jupp (age 32) as his comrades were within the age group 18 to 20 years and perhaps, not as physically well developed.

All four men are buried in Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery, Vlamertinghe :Plot V. Row F. Graves 3 to 6

During this period it was Edmund Blunden’s duty to write up the battalion War Diary.

His neat hand-written entry for the 25th January 1917 reads:-

"Early in the morning Bosche puts on a violent minnie and whizzbang barrage round our extreme right and raids our right Bombing Post in strength. Our casualties Missing 3 and Died of wounds 5; also several slighter wounds. Enemy left three dead behind, one being the officer in charge. Quiet day follows. Our planes bring down 2 enemy planes between 3 & 4 p.m. In the evening a false gas alarm raises an artillery strafe. 30 coils of wire put out on our front."

A quiet day, indeed!

Copyright www.1914-18.co.uk, 2002. All Rights Reserved