April 1916

100 Years Ago

By Lyn Dyson

 At the beginning of the month the 1st Battalion of the Wiltshire regiment were in Ternas, continuing their training. They managed to set fire to one of the barns they were billeted in, and only through their energetic action did they manage to save the farmhouse. They had a tug of war competition and a football match. On 12th April they moved to La Targette where they were engaged in mining fatigues. They suffered a lot of enemy artillery action and mortar fire. After eight days they went to Mont St Eloy where they spent four nights in huts. They did some training in crater consolidation. When they returned to the trenches on 24th April they were tasked with baling them out, as heavy rain had put them in a very bad state. They then repaired the the duckwalks. They suffered from enemy sniper fire.

At the end of the month they were at Acq, engaged in training and parades, and some working parties laying cables under Royal Engineers supervision.

The 2nd Battalion had a quiet month, passed mostly at Picquigny. Two horses pulling a Small Arms Ammunition cart got out of hand and ran into a pump. One of the horses was killed and the cart was lost. They lost another horse a few days later.

The 5th Battalion was at Falahiyeh where they mounted an attack on the Turkish trenches, taking 12 prisoners. The next day they took over the Turkish trenches and converted them.

On 9th April they mounted another attack as they advanced at 4.20am. It was dark, and many of the men lost their bearings. 21 men were killed; 161 were wounded and 37 were reported missing.

On the 18th April they were at Bait Isa where the Turks mounted a counter attack during which 11 men were killed. The battalion remained there for the rest of the month, digging and repairing trenches.

The 6th Battalion spent the month of April in and out of the trenches, adopting the usual procedure with four days in the trenches and four days out. At the end of the month they were at Quernes undergoing training in machine guns, signalling and bombing.

The 7th battalion finally left Salonika at 6pm on 20th April. The weather by this time was very hot, and they marched around for a few nights before returning to Salonika on 25th April. This appears to have been an exercise as nothing is noted in the war diary to show any other purpose for it. So at the end of the month the men were back where they started, digging trenches in Salonika.

There was one local casualty during April. Although he died at home from pneumonia, he counts as a war casualty because he was a serving soldier when he was taken ill.

Trooper Jasper Stephen Chapman 1673 Died 5th April 1916

Jasper was born in 1894 in Market Lavington. His father was William Chapman, a market gardener born in West Lavington, but the family lived at Fiddington Clay in 1891. Sadly, Jasper’s father died when Jasper was only four years of age. His mother, Ann Kyte moved to Lavington Lane, where she brought up her seven children and earned her living as a tailoress.

In 1911 the family had moved to the High Street in Market Lavington, and Ann was working as a general servant. At this time Jasper was working as an outfitter’s assistant.

At the outbreak of war, Jasper joined the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry. Most of this Territorial brigade remained in the United Kingdom until later in 1916 and as Jasper does not appear on the medal roll, it seems likely that he died without serving abroad. He died at home in Easterton on 5th April 1916, having suffered from pneumonia for two weeks. He was 22 years of age.

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