Private Clifford William MELLOR


Regiment/Service:
Leicestershire Regiment
Unit:
1st/5th Battalion
Service Number:
58655
Date of Death:
12 October 1918 - Died of wounds 
Age:
20
Cemetery / Memorial:
Cemetery Reference:
A. 6.


Personal History:

Clifford was born in Earl Sterndale, Derbyshire in the December quarter 1898, the youngest son of George Henry (Stonemason) and Hannah (née Kidd) Mellor. Clifford had five older siblings, Mary H., Alice, George Henry, Edna Jane and Ida Amelia, and two younger, John Herbert and Walter Frederick

The 1901 Census (RG 13/3264) and the 1911 Census (RG 14/21146) show the family were at the same address at Chapel View, Earl Sterndale, although the two older children had left home in 1911.

At the time of his enlistment in March 1918, aged 19 years 7 months, he was 5 ft. 8 ins.(1.73 m.) tall and weighed 11 st. 0 lbs. (69.9 kgs.). He was living at Chapel View, Earl Sterndale, and employed as a "Quarryworker". Soon afterwards, in the June quarter 1918, Clifford married Cissie Wilshaw in St John's Church, Buxton, and they set up home at 15 Bennett Street, Buxton. Their son, also Clifford, was born in the September quarter 1918.

After Clifford's death Cissie was awarded a pension of £1. 0s. 5d. (£1.02) for herself and her son, effective from the 2 June 1919. In the December quarter 1921 Cissie remarried to William Hobson.

Military History:
Clifford enlisted in the 4th Battalion, The Leicestershire Regiment, at Derby, "For the Duration". The 1/4th Leicesters had been formed at the outbreak of the War, and had originally landed at Le Havre on the 3rd March 1915. On the 12th May 1915 the Battalion became the 138th Brigade, 46th (North Midland) Division. The 1/5th were in the same Division.

The date of his enlistment, from his Service Papers, is not clear. The first date (crossed out) was the 2nd March 1916, being called up for service on the 18th March 1918, and mobilized on the 18th May. Later his Service Papers state: "Deemed to have enlisted" - 1st October 1916.

Clifford was posted to "The 1/4th Battalion For Record Purposes" and sailed from Dover to Calais on the 2nd October 1918. He was "posted to and proceeded to join 5th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment" on the 5th October, joining it in the field four days later, on the 9th. Within two days he was wounded in the field, wounds from which he died on the 12th - having been in France just 10 days.

The Battalion War Diary for the two days of the Battle which was to cost Clifford his life reads as follows:

"10th October 1918 - MERICOURT. Rest during the morning.
     11.55. Orders received to move to railway line north of FRESNOY STATION. Remainder of Brigade had gone forward as far as west edge of BOIS DE RIQUERVAL.
     12.00. Major R. S. DYER-BENNET arrived and took over command of the Battn. Captain J. D. HILLS resumed the duties of Adjutant. 14.15. Battn assembled in the railway cutting, warned of probable further move.
     19.00. Orders received for the Battn to go forward to the west edge of WOOD, occupy line of 4th Battn LEICESTERSHIRE REGT and be prepared to attack the wood during the night. FRESNOY LE GRAND.
     19.30. Battn moved forward to line of AISONVILLE - BOHAIN ROAD and occupied positions alongside 4th Battn in position by midnight 10th/11th. No reconnaissance possible. Cyclists reported strong enemy patrol in REGNICOURT.
Scheme now arranged as follows:-
     Objective - the road running north from HENNERCHIES FARM to REGNICOURT - to be occupied by French and ourselves. Attack to be delivered by 2 Coy along BOHAIN - REGNICOURT ROAD. 1 Coy on International Brigade in touch with French, one Coy in reserve to go straight through the wood to the objective. Not much resistance expected by higher command. 23.00. Battn HQ in farm house 400 yards west of AISONVILLE - BOHAIN ROAD in a cellar were considerably disturbed by a false alarm of some "clock work" which was heard."

At 5.15 a.m. on the 11th October the 1st Leicesters were to attack and the 1/5th's Adjutant decided to delay their advance to coincide. The Diary continues:

"11th October 1918 - BOIS DE RIQUERVAL.
     05.30. ZERO hour, D Coy (HAWLEY) with a left flank platoon (DUNLOP) moved along main road to REGNICOURT, closely followed by C Coy (BANWELL). A Coy (EDWARDES) advanced towards Chateau at south corner of the BOIS, but were at once met with very heavy machine gun fire from the right flank and front and dug in, ½ at cross roads, and ½ in hedge 50 yards east of road. B Coy advanced towards centre of wood and also became split up ½ to dig in under very heavy fire on face of hill, and ½ to dig in near FME DE RIQUERVAL. Battn HQ reached wood edge 100 yards north of Chateau and established a post there with enemy machine gun post on both flanks. Lt. S. COSGROVE commanding B Coy severely wounded.
     08.00. D Coy (HAWLEY) reported within 800 yards of REGNICOURT, came under very heavy fire. Ditches along road side enfiladed and 2 Sergeants and 10 men killed. Consequently decided further advance impossible. C Coy (BANWELL) moved south to try to get touch with remainder of Battn but failed as they were not up. C and D Coy's therefore formed a line through the wood north and south about 750 yards west of the final objective.
     08.30. Battn HQ party reinforced slightly now consisted of Commanding Officer, Adjutant and Lt. ASHDOWN with 1 French interpreter M. LETU, 12 French soldiers, 1 Lewis Gun team of the 4th Battn LEICESTERSHIRE REGT, and 1 platoon of A Coy collected from hedge where they were dug in.
     10.00. Mixed platoon, English and French under Adjutant attacked and captured Chateau, taking one wounded German on the way. Remainder of A Coy brought up to consolidate.
     10.45. Enemy recaptured RETHUIL FARM from the French and completely overlooked the Chateau.
     11.00. Enemy covering his advance with very heavy machine gun fire from their front retook the Chateau capturing some of A Coy. The Medical Officer Captain W. B. JACK, ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS killed whilst attending the wounded with great courage. 2 Coy's of the 5thBattn SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGT relieved C and D Coy's. Later marched back to billets in FRESNOY LE GRAND. [Captain William Boyd JACK]
     11.15. M. LETU sent off to try and arrange French co-operation with a view to attacking Chateau again. This gentleman showed throughout the day the most praiseworthy courage and initiative combined with an entire disregard of danger.
     12.30. 2 Coy's of the 5th Battn SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGT occupied corner of wood, securing left flank of Battn HQ post, right flank still somewhat insecure.
     13.45. 1 of the above Coy's was withdrawn to make new attack which never materialised. Remaining Coy too weak to hold corner of wood withdrew to a line of hedge across the valley 60 yards east of main road. Lt. A. M. EDWARDES (Commanding A Coy) wounded.
     16.30. Battn HQ and 1 platoon of A Coy now completely isolated and enfiladed by enemy's machine guns on both flanks. Position was hopeless and several casualties occurred. Battn HQ therefore withdrew to line left by Coy of the 5th Battn SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGT.
     17.15. Enemy seeing attack developing on left of French front opened tremendous bombardment. Gas and high explosive shells of all calibres were fired. Heaviest barrage was on position occupied by Battn HQ and A Coy, valley soon full of gas.
     18.00. New positions sited on the side of road on east line, occupied and dug.
     19.00. Battn relieved by 5th Battn SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGT.
     19.30. On relief Battn marched back to billets in FRESNOY LE GRAND.
     20.45. All in billets, tired out. Battn strength 10 officers, 230 fighting."

The part of the action underlined above is described in more details in the Battalion History. "Halfway from their starting point at Regnicourt stood a group of small houses ..... Lieut. Hawley decided to attack at once, and 'D' Company, making use of all the cover they could find, made their way up the hill and soon captured the house. ..... The two leading platoons of 'D' Company tried to continue their advance ... but beyond them the road ..... rose again to a ridge 300 yards further East and here the enemy were in considerable force.

Several gallant attempts to advance were frustrated by very heavy machine gun fire, and having lost Serjts. Bradshaw and Dimmocks killed and several others wounded, the Company was compelled to lying flat just beyond the houses. One little party had taken cover in a ditch along the roadside and were seen by a German machine gunner. The ditch became a death trap. Hodges and Longden, the runners, and Maw, the signaller were killed. ..... In half an hour this Company had lost 10 killed, 14 wounded and 1 prisoner."

Maybe it was in this heroic action that Clifford received the wounds from which he lost his life. The men named in the History are L/Sgt 240031 A.C. BRADSHAWSgt. 2935 William E. DIMMOCKS, Pt. 240173 Ernest HODGES, Pt. 241949 Robert LONGDEN and Pt. 40183 William MAW.

In the actions of the 9th - 12th October 20 men of Clifford's Battalion died in action, 17 of them on the 11th. Most are buried in Busigny Communal Cemetery. Clifford died of wounds the next day, and his Service Papers confirm that he was wounded "in the field" on the 11th. The 1/5th War Diary entry for 12th October 1918 just shows them at rest in billets, but with "58655 d.o.w" [i.e. Clifford's Service Number]. 

He was buried in the Cemetery at Fresnoy, near to where he died. Fresnoy-Le-Grand was evacuated by the enemy on the 9th October 1918, and occupied by the 46th (North Midland) and 6th Divisions. The Extension was made and used by the 46th Division in October 1918.


Sources:
· I am grateful to Jonathan D'Hooghe for the photo of Clifford's grave
· I am also grateful to Martin McNeela and Adam Llewellyn for the extracts from the War Diary and Battalion History
· "The Fifth Leicestershire - A Record Of The 1/5th Battalion The Leicestershire Regiment, - T.F., During The War, 1914-1919." by John David Hills  
   (ASIN: B003VRZE0K )

Link to CWGC Record
Pt Clifford Mellor's grave
Inscription on Pt Clifford Mellor's grave
poppy