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  Raymond Leopold Greig Heath 

 

 

Captain
D Company 2nd Bn The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
Killed in Action 25/09/1915 at the Battle of Loos, Aged 30

No Known Grave, but Remembered on :
Ewhurst War Memorial,  Memorial Plaque and Book of Remembrance
 Marlborough School Memorial Hall & Roll of Honour
Coldharbour War Memorial, War Memorial Panel and Remembrance Window
The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment Roll of Honour, Holy Trinity Church, Guildford
The Loos Memorial, Dud Corner Cemetery, France

 

RAYMOND LEOPOLD GREIG HEATH was born on the 14th February 1885 at Farmington Lodge, Gloucester, the eldest son to Arthur Raymond and Flora Jean Heath, and grandson to Admiral Sir Leopold Heath KCB of Anstie Grange and Kitlands, near Beare Green, Surrey. His father had been educated at Marlborough, studied Law at Trinity College, Cambridge, and was called to the Bar at the Inn of Temple. He continued to become the Justice of the Peace for Oxfordshire and Lincolnshire and became the Member of Parliament for the Louth Division of Lincolnshire in 1886, the year following Raymond’s birth, a position he retained until 1892. Raymond had an elder sister, Violet Mary, who had been born on 28th January 1882, and a younger brother, Frederick Dunbar, who was born at South Elkington, near Louth in Lincolnshire on 9th December 1889.

Raymond was educated initially at Hawtrey’s School, Westgate-on-Sea, and then at the age of 13 became a member of his father’s former house at Marlborough, Preschute, in the September of 1898. Here he remained until July 1902, when at the earliest age of 17 he attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. Prior to joining a regiment he visited extended family in Russia with the aim of learning the language and on 3rd November, 1903 Raymond was gazetted to the 1st Battalion The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment). He served with this Battalion as a Second Lieutenant in India and Aden where he was promoted to Lieutenant.

Whilst overseas on 4th May 1904, Raymond’s sister Violet died aged 22 and was buried at Coldharbour Church. The Battalion returned to England and in Gibraltar Raymond transferred to the Regiment's 2nd Battalion. With the 2nd Battalion he served in Bermuda and South Africa. During his service overseas he enjoyed hunting and shooting, and demonstrated an ability to mechanics which led to his being placed in charge of the Battalion’s two machine guns, in which he had displayed a great interest.
 
In 1907 Raymond and Frederick’s parents took up residence in North Breache Manor, Ewhurst, which until this date had been home to Professor William and Lizzie Frecheville, parents of Captain William Ralph Frecheville, Royal Engineers, (who served through the First World War, was wounded three times & was subsequently captured and murdered by the Bolshevik forces whilst serving in Southern Russia in 1920). They remained in North Breache Manor until 15th September 1915, when they moved to Kitlands, near Coldharbour.


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Capt Raymond Heath (back centre) pictured with the Machine Gun Section, South Africa,
 just before leaving for the First World War (July 1914)

Raymond, with the 2nd Battalion The Queen’s, left Pretoria in August 1914 to return to England, sailing from Table Bay on 27th August aboard H.M.T Kenilworth Castle. Arriving in Southampton on the 19th September 1914, the Battalion made its way to Lyndhurst where, on the 20th September it became part of the 22nd Infantry Brigade of the 7th Division under Major General Capper. During the week of 21-27th September, the officers and some of the men of the unit were given 24 hour leave passes to visit relatives, and the remainder of the month was spent in preparation for the Division’s move to France.

On 4th October 1914, the 2nd Queen’s, 30 officers and 988 other ranks strong, embarked at Southampton, Raymond continuing in the role of Battalion Machine Gun Officer. The following day they sailed down Southampton Water and along the Channel to Dover, before landing at Zeebrugge on the 6th and 7th. As part of IV Corps, 7th Division was to take part in the defence of Antwerp. When they arrived in Zeebrugge the situation at Antwerp was irretrievable, the city was already falling and so the 7th Division was used to cover the landing of a Cavalry Division at Ostend, and the retreat to the west of the Belgian Army. It then moved south to link up with elements of the BEF moving up from the River Asine before moving west to take up positions to the east of Ypres. 

On 14th October 1914, the German Chief of Staff, General Erich von Falkenhayen, committed the German Fourth and Sixth Armies, and the First Battle of Ypres commenced. On this day the Battalion also claimed its fist victory, by shooting down a German Taube aircraft that was flying reconnaissance over Ypres. The Brigade entered this battle on a dull and cloudy 18th October 1914, by initially advancing from positions near Zonnebeke towards Menin before encountering resistance and being withdrawn towards the end of the day in order to face the perceived threat from the east. On the 20th in rain and drizzle the German Armies launched their attack, and the 7th Division was ordered by Lieut-Gen Sir Henry Rawlinson, commander of IV Corps, to hold the line at all costs. By mid afternoon 22nd Brigade, on the left of the Division, came under heavy attack, eventually encompassing the whole Division, causing heavy losses including a colleague of Raymond’s from Sandhurst, Captain Percy Charles Esdaile, who was wounded. The Division received dense waves of enemy infantry, which it successfully repulsed at high cost before the 22nd Brigade was forced back to Zonnebeke station. By this time all of the Battalions of 22nd Brigade were critically short of men due to the sustained high losses.
 
The following day, 21st October 1914, whilst in charge of the 2nd Battalion’s machine gun section, Raymond was badly wounded by a bullet which passed upwards from the groin, lodging eventually in his stomach. The battalion was withdrawing from it’s positions near Zonnebeke and he was left behind, but managed to make his way back to the British lines with a number of stragglers. He was evacuated to England, and treated in a hospital in the London home of Mrs R. Lindsay. The bullet was lying loose in Raymond’s stomach, and was eventually removed. Following a short period of convalescence, he was passed fit for light duties abroad in November, and departed for France on 23rd December 1914 having been promoted to Captain on the 1st November, 1914. In France Raymond was detached to the Headquarters of General Sir Douglas Haig, then in command of the First Army Corps, where initially he took command the of the guard but after a short time was given the role of Camp Commandant. He remained in this role whilst keen to return to the frontline, and eventually, on his own request, he was permitted to join 1st Battalion The Queen’s in March. He remained with this battalion until 20th May, 1915, when he was again transferred to the Regiment’s 2nd Battalion.


Raymond pictured whilst convalescing in 1915

THE BATTLE OF LOOS
The 2nd Battalion had just been in action at the Battle of Festubert on the 15/16th May, 1915. Casualties had been high, the battalion’s war diary describing the cost as 19 officer casualties and 435 other ranks out of the 22 officers and 773 other ranks that had taken part, including the loss of the unit’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Bottomley and another Ewhurst man, Private George Eldridge. Raymond joined the Battalion in order to replenish the unit’s officer cadre, along with a large number of new men. Captain Maurice Gordon Heath (of no relation to Raymond), formerly of the 2nd Battalion and who had come to France with Raymond in 1914, rejoined and assumed command of the unit on 10th June, 1915, shortly afterwards he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. 

Raymond took command of D Company but, due to his previous experience, after only a short period he was selected by 22nd Brigade’s commanding officer, Brigadier General Lawford, to the role of Brigade Machine Gun Officer. Due to the Battalion’s dire shortage of experienced officers, Raymond managed to relinquish this role and affect a return to the unit, where he felt his duty lay.

Throughout the summer of 1915 the Battalion had been involved in minor engagements, and then the period from 17th to 22rd September 1915 was spent in the rear areas around Béthune preparing for the forthcoming Battle of Loos. On the 18th, the plan of action for the battalion’s part in the battle was explained to the officers. The 23rd  and 24th saw the Brigade moving up to the Loos area, depositing equipment that would not be require for the attack, such as greatcoats and packs, before the Battalion moved off to its allotted position through the night, to arrive at Lancaster Lines, just to the east of Vermelles at 3am.

Through the night it had rained in torrents, and movement to the initial positions was hampered by the large amounts of mud and water in the trenches. The morning of the 25th September, 1915 dawned grey, and the attack commenced at 5.50am with an artillery bombardment against the enemy’s trench line. The bombardment lasted until 6.30, when on a frontage of approximately 7000 yards, 75,000 men of the six divisions of I and IV Corps of the British First Army commenced the attack. The artillery preparation had been relatively light, and was to be augmented with the first use of gas by the British, the Germans having used it earlier in the year at Ypres. 7th Division attacked at the extreme south of IV Corps, the boundary lying on the Vermelles to Hulluch Road, with 1st Division of I Corps on their right flank.


2/Queen's at The Battle of Loos ~ 25th September 1915 

To the north, on the division’s left flank was the 9th Division, attacking towards Auchy. The divisional frontage was divided into two, with 20th Brigade attacking on the right, 22nd Brigade attacking on the left and 21st Brigade in reserve. 22nd Brigade’s first wave of the attack consisted of 1st Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment on the right, 2nd Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment on the left, the 1st Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers in support around Junction Keep and 2nd Bn The Queen’s in reserve at Lancaster Lines.  The 1/Royal Welsh Fusiliers were to move up to the front line as soon as the first wave had advanced and would attack towards Haisnes, protecting the left flank of the advance, the Queen’s would then move up into the front line and await the order to advance. The Battalion moved up into the line with C Company in the lead, commanded by Captain Philpot, then B Company commanded by Captain Brocklehurst, then D Company commanded by Raymond, and finally A Company commanded by Captain Maddock. The Battalion’s machine gun section, under Lieutenant Pilham, had been placed in a forward position in order to support the advance in bring long range fire to bear on the German support trenches, also involved in the attack was the Battalion’s headquarters’ section under Lt Col Heath.

The movement through the lines had been restricted by the numbers of casualties from the 1st Bn Welsh Fusiliers and the 2nd Bn Royal Warwicks and on reaching the front line the Queen’s followed the preceding waves in close support towards the German lines, the line of the advance being just to the right of Fosse 8, one of the sizable spoil heaps that littered the battlefield as a remnant of its more industrial past as a coal mining area. The German First line was at a distance of 500 yards, and the visibility was poor due to the combined effects of a smoke screen, gas, drizzle and a cold mist. With Raymond in D Company Sergeant A.J.K. Park, who preceding the war had been a gardener at Kitlands, the Heath home, he now fell, wounded in both legs. At approximately 9am Sergeant Park described Raymond as “running forward, leading D Company at the double".

The attack continued, B, D and A Companies encountering stiff resistance at the German first line whilst to the left C Company moved through towards the German second line. The three companies outflanked and bombed down the German line to their right, suffering many casualties. Half of C Company was instructed to capture the Quarries, which they achieved, capturing 2 officers and approximately 40 men.


2/Queen's advance at The Battle of Loos ~ 25th September 1915
Photograph taken from the D39 Vermelles-Hulluch Road (Road Junction at Trench Map Ref G.9.d.5.6). Junction Keep is at the left hand edge of the photograph, from where the red arrow depicts Raymond’s advance towards the British front line, and then onwards towards the German front line which ran parallel to the British line and just to the rear of the clump of bushes to the left of the text “British Front Line”. The location of the German Second Line, and Pekin Trench, can be seen to the left of the modern spoil heap, which obscures Cite St Elie. The text above Haisnes also marks the location of the German Hohenzollern Redoubt.


Cite St Elie - 1919

 

Pushing on to the German second line, Raymond and D Company met up with Captain R. H. Philpot, the commander of C Company in Pekin/Cite Trench, approximately 400 yards north west of the mining village of Cite St Elie, 22nd Brigade’s final objective. Raymond sent his last report back to Battalion Headquarters, and it was received by the second in command, Captain Longbourne, at approximately 11.20am. It read:

“D Company and about 50 or 60 men of C Company , some Warwicks and some men of R.W.F are in trench G.6.d.5.2- G.6.b.5.2 between Cite St. Elie and Haisnes. We are on the right of 9th Division. I am not advancing till I receive orders”

 

Unsaved Project
Trench map & modern map sections of Cite St Elie overlaid, trenches correct as of 10 weeks after the battle. Pekin Trench, in the blue rectangle, can be seen passing beneath the disused railway embankment.

In an extract from the battalion war diary, Captain Philpot describes how with the remnants of his No11 Platoon, numbering some 10 men, they occupied this trench, running in a N.N.E direction, with men of the 9th Division to their left.
“Captain Heath sent a bombing party down the trench to the right, as some German bombers were causing trouble. The Germans eventually pushed on and got in our rear, whence they sniped into our backs, our stock of bombs at this time becoming low. The Germans were at approximately G.6.d.2.4 and G.g.d.1.6.
At about 2pm Captain Heath organised an attack on Cite St. Elie, and we entered the village, but as our own guns then started to shell the village heavily we returned to our former position. At about 3.15 pm Captain Heath was killed and I assumed command”

The Site of Pekin Trench. Latterly a railway embankment surrounded the NW corner of Cite St Elie, and covers exactly the southern portion of the trench, but the debris from the northern section of the trench is clearly visible in the ploughed field. Raymond’s advance was from the left of the photograph, and then towards the camera & the village, which is behind & to the right.

Raymond fell in Pekin/Cite Trench, almost 2000 yards from the starting point of the British advance, and as Captain Longbourne (eventually to become Brigadier-General) described, “after he had successfully lead his Company and gained the most forward position occupied by the Brigade that day”.

He was 30 years old. The Heath family later received a letter from one of Raymond’s subordinate officers describing how at 3pm, shortly after returning to Pekin Trench following the attack on Cite St Elie, Raymond “was hit (by a bullet from a sniper through the temple).” The officer continues to describe;
“what admiration I feel for the way in which Captain Heath led us all day and by his coolness and personal example made us all feel anything he told us to do would without doubt turn out well, and I am sure I am voicing the feelings of the Company in saying this” .

 

 

 

Pekin Trench.
 Looking towards Cite St Elie, now obscured by the rail embankment. On 9th June 1919 Frederick visited the site of his brother’s death, placing a wooden cross in tribute.
The ruins of the village are visible on the horizon.

Raymond’s men fought on whilst being out flanked several times on their right, which was unsupported, and at about 5.15pm the troops on their left flank began to withdraw. This caused the remnants of C and D Company to have to withdraw at 5.30pm although they did manage a second advance to Pekin Trench, which they retired from at 11pm. During these retirements Raymond’s body presumably remained where he fell, and he subsequently became unaccounted for. The unit retired to the Quarries, where the Battalion Headquarters had advance to, and then retired further to the original British front line. During this retirement Lieutenant Colonel Heath was also killed.

On 5th October, 1915, his family held a Memorial Service for Raymond at Coldharbour Church, Surrey, including the Last Post, played by a member of his company. His parents, now residing in Kitlands, Coldharbour, and his brother Frederick attended, accompanied by many extended family.

He is commemorated on the Ewhurst War Memorial, the Ewhurst War Memorial Plaque, the Ewhurst Book of Remembrance, the Coldharbour War Memorial, the Coldharbour Memorial Panel and a Remembrance Window in the Coldharbour Church, created by C E Kempe & Co of London and dedicated by his brother and parents. He is also remembered in the Marlborough School Memorial Hall and Roll of Honour as one of the 746 pupils of who fell in the First World War, in The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment Roll of Honour, Holy Trinity Church, Guildford and on the Loos Memorial, France.


Raymond was posthumously awarded The 1914 Star & Clasp, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Probate was granted on his estate on 15th October 1915, the sum of £318 was awarded to his father Arthur Raymond Heath J.P.

   Visiting the site of Raymond Heath's action on the Loos Battlefield  

Follow this Link to details about First World War Medals


 Frederick Dunbar Heath 
Wounded in Action

Raymond's younger brother Frederick Dunbar Heath also fought in the First world War as a Captain in the 2nd Battalion Sussex Yeomanry. Frederick was born at South Elkington, near Louth, in Lincolnshire on 9th December 1889. He attended Hall's School in Colchester whilst his parents resided in nearby West Bergholt, before entering Harrow in September 1903. He remained at Harrow until 1908, when he departed to France for six months to learn French, before he undertook employment at Lloyd's of London.

On the outbreak of the First World War, Frederick was gazetted on 5th October 1914 as a Second Lieutenant in the 2/1st Bn Sussex Yeomanry. He remained on home duties until September 1916 and was promoted to Lieutenant on 1st June 1915 and temporary Captain in March 1916. On 1st July 1916, the Battle of Somme commenced in France, and reinforcements were required due to the high casualty rate. Frederick was transferred to 10th (Service) Battalion The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment and arrived in France on 20th September 1916, joining the battalion near Delville Wood, on the Somme. On 10th February 1917, whilst in the trenches at Ridgewood, near La Clytte (south of Ypres) he was severely wounded. Crawling down a trench he reached an intersection and, whilst cautiously surveying the area, had been shot through the neck, the bullet passing to the front of his spinal column. He was evacuated to England, eventually arriving at his family home, Anstie Grange, near Coldharbour in Surrey, which was being used as a Red Cross Hospital. On arrival his wound had caused him to be paralysed in both arms and legs, however he made a good recovery and returned to light home duties in the summer of 1917.

Frederick returned to France in command of a company of the 18th Bn Gloucestershire Regiment, landing at Boulogne on 1st August 1918 and was slightly gassed whilst on operations at the end of October 1918. At 9am on 11th November the battalion received word that, as of 11am on that day, hostilities would cease. The war was over. As the members of his battalion returned home Frederick remained in France commanding the 148 Labour Company and working with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. On 9th June 1919 he visited the desolate scrubland of the old 1915 Loos battlefield and located the site of Raymond's death in front of the ruins of Cite St Elie. He returned home to England in 1920 and served once again in the Second World War, as a Lieutenant Colonel in the 8th Bn Royal Sussex regiment and the Pioneer Corps. His service is commemorated on the Coldharbour War Memorial, Surrey.


The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment Memorial Chapel and Roll of Honour
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Roll of Honour  and Chapel of The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) at the Holy Trinity Church, Guildford, Surrey. Raymond's name on the chapel wall, detailing the Regiment's commissioned casualties.

 

 

 

 


The Loos Memorial, Dud Corner Cemetery, France
 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raymond and his commanding officer have no known grave, and as such are remembered along with over 20,000 other officers and men on the Loos Memorial at Dud Corner Cemetery, near Loos-en-Gohelle, on Panel 13. The Battalion lost 11 officers (5 killed) and 261 other ranks (151 killed or missing).
 


Coldharbour War Memorial Panel, Remembrance Window and War Memorial
 

 


Sources
Records of the Heath Family By George Heath,
1920 Queen’s Battalion War Diary WO95/1664
2/S. Staffordshire Battalion War Diary WO95/1664
18/Glousters Battalion War Diary WO95/1977
2/1 Sussex Yeomanry Battalion War Diary WO95/1664
11/Queen’s Battalion War Diary WO95/2638
Extracts from a report by Capt R. H. Philpot,
2/Queen’s Battalion War Diary WO95/1664
The Army List Official History of the War
Harrow School Archives
Marlborough School Archives The 1901 Census
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The Surrey Advertiser.
Mrs S Howells

 
 

 

Andrew Bailey, Ewhurst, Surrey
andy@ewhurstfallen.co.uk
Copyright©2005