The Fallen of Ewhurst and Ellen's Green, Surrey  
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  Frank William John Dedman  

Lance Corporal G/1286

6th (Service) Battalion, The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment
Killed in Action 05/12/1916, aged 20

Buried in:
Wailly Orchard Cemetery, near Arras (I.H.7)

Remembered on :
Ewhurst War Memorial,  Memorial Plaque and Book of Remembrance
The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment Roll of Honour, Holy Trinity Church, Guildford


 

FRANK WILLIAM JOHN DEDMAN was born in 1896 in Cranleigh (1), the son of James, a quarryman, and Ann. In 1901 Frank was living with his parents and siblings Rose A, Mary, Lucy (b1889), James George (b1893), Richard David (b1898), and his niece Mary Jane at Horseblock Hollow, in the north west of the parish (Bar Hatch Lane).

With the commencement of the First World War, Frank attested at Stoughton Barracks in Guildford, the depot of The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, on  1st September 1914 (2), the day after his elder brother James George Dedman. Frank gave his age as 19 years old, his term of service being 3 years. He became Private G/1286, and was assigned to 6th (Service) Bn The Queen's (RWSR), his brother James becoming Private G/1292 and being assigned to the 7th Bn The Queen's (RWSR). James gave his age on enlistment as 20 years old, and this raises the possibility that Frank disguised his true age on enlistment. When he died at the end of 1916, just over 2 years after enlistment, he was 20 years old. Frank joined the 6th Bn at the same time as, and served with fellow Ewhurst man Private G/1280 William Baker. William and Frank were to serve together until William was wounded in action on 21st October 1915. He returned to England but was subsequently found unfit for further service, and discharged from the Army. 


The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment Enlistment Book

The 6th Bn The Queens formed in Guildford in August 1914 as part of the New Army, formed on the appeal for men by Lord Kitchener. On 11th August 1914 Earl Kitchener, the Minister for War, had asked for 100,000 volunteers. This number was raised in two weeks and the battalions they formed where allocated the reference K1. The 6th was a K1 battalion and Frank served with it more or less from its inception in August 1914. The battalion became part of 37th Brigade of the 12th (Eastern) Division on 21st August, 1914, part of Lord Kitchener's First New Army, and following a period of ten months of intensive training the division moved to France between 29th May and 4th June.

ACTIVE SERVICE IN FRANCE AND THE BATTLE OF LOOS

It is believed that James arrived in France ahead of Frank, on 17th December 1914. Frank departed Aldershot by train on 2nd June 1915 (3) and proceeded to Folkestone, where the battalion boarded the S.S. Invicta and  landed at Boulogne at 10.35pm. The battalion entered the trenches for the first time near Armentieres in the third week on June and suffered their first casualty on 24th June 1915. The 6th Queen's spent the next few months learning trench warfare before moving south in September to participate in the Battle of Loos, which commenced on 25th September 1915. At the start of September the battalion's strength was given as 25 officers and 1,010 other ranks. 37th Brigade was held in divisional reserve, and during this time the divisional commander, Major-General F. D. V. Wing CB, was killed by a shell (2nd October 1915). On the morning of the 12th October orders were received to the effect that the 37th Brigade would participate in an attack from the Hohenzolleren Redoubt to the Lens-La BasseÚ road the following day. Within this attack the 6th Queens would be holding the front line and providing covering fire and smoke with Threlfallite smoke bombs.

On 13th October 1915, shortly after 1pm, the attack commenced with 37th Brigade on the right against 'Gun Trench'. The 7th East Surreys managed to breach the German front line, and following requests for assistance, a company of the 6th Queens were dispatched to the captured German line (just south west of Cite St Elie, and south of the quarries and the area attacked by 2nd Bn The Queen's (RWSR) on the first day of the Battle of Loos- see Captain Raymond Heath).

The battalion remained in the Hohenzolleren area until 10th December 1915, when they moved north to the Givenchey area. This area of the battlefield had principally been water-meadows, and was now a quagmire of flooded trenches which had to be continually pumped. A large length of the front line was formed by 'islands' caused by the appearance of the parapet above the flooded landscape. These islands, known as "keeps" were manned by small bands of 10 to 15 men, which could only be approached during the hours of darkness. Here Frank Dedman and the battalion spent a quiet Christmas Day 1915, under appalling conditions. Early in 1916 the battalion moved south again to hold the line on the Loos battlefield from the Hohenzolleren Redoubt to the Quarries, where they remained until April 1916, when they moved south for training in preparation for the Somme offensive.

THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME

On 1st July 1916 the Battle of the Somme commenced. 12th Division relieved 8th Division in the front line later in the day after the 8th had suffered heavy casualties, 6th Bn Queen's relieving. 2nd Bn Rifle Brigade. The following day orders were received for the 12th to push the capture of Ovillers whilst the 19th Division advanced to their right against La Boisselle and X Corps to their left attacked the Leipzig Salient.  The attack commenced at 3.15am on the 3rd July, however to the division's left the X Corps attack had been postponed. This enabled the machine guns of the Leipzig Redoubt to concentrate on 12th Division. The division had attacked to a two brigade front with 35th Brigade to the right, 37th brigade to the left. Within 37th Brigade, 6th Bn Queen's were to the right in the first wave, and 6th Bn Royal West Kent Regiment were on the left. The German line held, and the 6th Queen's losses were high, 10 out of 18 officers and 294 other ranks becoming casualties.

To the south of the battlefield on 1st July, near Montauban, Frank's elder brother James Dedman was in action with 7th Bn Queen's (part of 18th Division). The two brothers would be in action in the same battle on the same day, albeit in different locations and with different units.

The battalion remained in the Somme area until 14th August 1916 when once again it moved north to trenches to the south of Arras, in the valley of the River Crinchon, near Beaurains. The area was described as 'quiet' however the British lines were at a disadvantage to the German lines due to the topology of the valley.

" our position, running along the valley of the Crinchon, was very much dominated by that of the Germans on the rising ground to the east, especially near Beaurains, and whereas all of our communications trenches were on the forward slope of the hill and so in full view of the enemy, his were over the rise and practically unseen "

This can be easily noted with reference to the contours of the trench map to the east of Wailly. The German lines were out of direct view of the British behind the rise, and any attacker approaching from the west would be silhouetted on the crest. To maintain observation of the British front line a number of short trenches, or 'saps' had been driven out into no mans land.  These saps were often the subject of nocturnal raiding parties, whose aim was usually to gather information on the enemy. 6th Bn Queens participated in a number of these before once again moving south to the Somme battlefield on 26th September 1916.

Once again involved in the Battle of the Somme, 6th Bn Queens took part in a major action on 7th October 1916 near Gueudecourt, and then returned to their previous area of operations in the Crinchon Valley south of Arras on 19th October 1916.

TRENCH RAID ON GERMAN FRONT LINE

On the night of 5th December Lance Corporal Frank Dedman was one of 74 men who, under the command of Captain Clerk (4) and three officers, took part in a trench raid on the German front line on Saps Z.14 and Z.15, the object of which was to "kill Germans, capture prisoners, and to obtain identifications". An initial patrol at 6.30pm reported the wire being well broken between and in front of the saps, The conditions were favourable with the moon being obscured by clouds, and a tape laying party began preparing the ground in front of the British lines at 8.20pm, followed at 8.40pm by the covering, blocking and raiding parties, including Frank Dedman, who was a member of the left hand party commanded by Second Lieutenant John Scarlett Pym (5). At 8.45pm the cloud cover cleared revealing a bright moon and good visibility. Captain Clerk concluded that this compromised the raid and recalled the different parties to the British front line.


Composite British trench map showing the British & German front lines equidistant to either side of a track running SW to NE. The German front line lies out of site to the British, behind a gradual rise, and the Germans have driven saps out into no mans land, almost up to the track, to maintain visual contact with the British lines. The saps Z14 and Z15 are 130m from the British front line.


Photo taken from track at site of Z14 sap, looking NNE across the gentle slope of no mans land towards
the British Front Line from where the trench raid on 5/12/16 was to start.

At 9pm two heavy trench-mortar shells fell to the left of the position and buried and killed Second Lieutenant Pym and (according to the battalion war diary) three other ranks, whilst also partially burying twelve others (6). The men killed were L/Cpl Frank Dedman, L/Cpl John Buckland (7), Pte Charles Coe (8),Pte Albert Devereux (9).

Frank and his comrades were laid to rest at Wailly Orchard Cemetery. He was 20 years old. He was posthumously awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Frank's parents, James and Ann, subsequently lived at Winterfold Cottage, Albury Guildford. His elder brother, Sergeant James Dedman was wounded and taken prisoner on the Somme battlefield in February of 1917. He succumbed to his wounds whilst in captivity on 28th August 1917, and is buried in Germany.

Frank is incorrectly remembered as Frederick on the Ewhurst War Memorial, but correctly as Frank in the Book of Remembrance and on the Memorial Plaque.
 

 

Follow this Link to details about First World War Medals
 

 

Notes:
(1) Soldiers Fallen in the First World War Gives place of birth as Ewhurst, 1901 Census gives Cranleigh
(2)
The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment Enlistment Book (Surrey History Centre)
(3)
History of the Queen's Royal (West Surrey) Regiment in the Great War, Col H C Wylly, C.B. states the Battalion left Aldershot on 6th June. Frank' medal card states he arrived in France on 2nd June 1915.
(4) Captain Ronald Malcolm Clerk. Originally an officer in the Kings Own (Royal Lancashire Regiment), attached to 6/RWSR. Second Lt when battalion was former in September 1914. .KiA at the Battle of Arras on 09/04/17, aged 31.(p199 RWSR History). Interred in Faubourg D'Amiens Cem, Arras (VII.G.15). Son of J. Somervail Clerk and Dora Somervail Clerk (nee Carew), of Foresters, Windlesham, Surrey.
(5)
Second Lieutenant John Scarlett Pym DCM. Beloved only son of Walter H J Pym (Paymaster Capt R.N.) & Flora (his wife), of "Sherwood", Saltash, Cornwall. According to Medal Cards was formally Corporal 221 of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, became a Second Lt in the Imperial Army, before joining the RWSR. KiA 05/12/16, aged 25, interred in Wailly Orchard Cem, Arras (I.H.11).
(6) Whilst the Battalion Diary gives the number of other ranks killed by the trench mortars as 3, there are 4 other ranks from the battalion interred in the Wailly Orchard Cem who died on the night of the 5th Dec 1916.
(7) LCpl John Richard T Buckland, G/421, Born in Kenley, Surrey 1889. Son of John & Ellen E Buckland, brother of Percy G, Charles B, Dorothy William & Winifred Buckland. KiA 5/12/16 aged 27.
(8) Pte Charles Arthur James Coe, G/13202, Son of Charles J. and Alice L. Coe, of 6, Barossa Rd., Camberley, Surrey. KiA 5/12/16 aged 18.
(9) Pte Albert Devereux, 2283, Son of William & Mary Devereux, of 2, Connaught Rd, Brookwood, Surrey. KiA 5/12/16 aged 19.
 

 

Other sources:

  • Book of Remembrance

  • Soldiers Died in the Great War

  • 1901 Census

  • History of the Queen's Royal (West Surrey) Regiment in the Great War, Col H C Wylly, C.B.

     

AEB 10/03/06

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Andrew Bailey, Ewhurst, Surrey
andy@ewhurstfallen.co.uk
Copyrightę2005