Sergeant Francis George PEGG
(Private on CWGC Record; Corporal on the Harpur Hill Memorial)


Regiment/Service:
Sherwood Foresters
(Notts and Derby Regiment)
Unit:
2nd Battalion
Service Number:
12416
Date of Death:
16 September 1916 - Killed in Action
Age:
28
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Pier and Face 10 C 10 D and 11 A.


Personal History:

The SDGW database gives Francis' place of birth as Littleover, Derby, possibly in the September quarter 1887. However, his early life is difficult to track down and he does not seem to apeear on any of the relevant Census returns.

Francis married Mary A. Mycock in Buxton in the March quarter 1914. They had two sons, Francis G. (June quarter 1914) and Leonard V. (December quarter 1915). 'The Buxton Advertiser', 4th November 1916, has the family living at 12 Harpur Hill, Buxton.


Military History:
Francis enlisted at Derby and his Medal Index Card shows him being posted to The Balkans, undoubtedly The Dardenelles, on 31st December 1915. Sometime later he returned to France in time to take part in The Battle of the Somme. He was killed during the attack on the Quadrilateral Redoubt a strong German fortification near Ginchy on the Somme.

The 2nd Battalion had initially landed at St Nazaire on the11th September 1914 and on the 27th October 1915 transferred to the 71st Brigade in the 6th Division.

In preparation for the forthcoming Battle of the Somme, the 2nd Battalion moved by train from Proven to Candas on the 2nd August 1916, arriving the following and marched to billets near Beauval. On the 5th August they moved to Mailly-Maillet Wood and began tours of duty on the Front line trenches to the west of Beaumont Hamel. The Battalion History states that the Battalion did not take part in any major operations but were took part in occasional raids on the German trenches. On the 11th August the Battalion crossed open country and arrived north of Carnoy at 1.00 p.m. After dark the Battalion took over trenches south-west of Guillemont.

Between Wednesday 13th and Sunday 17th September 1916 the 2nd Battalion Sherwood Foresters was engaged in fierce attacks around the Quadrilateral Redoubt. The War Diary recorded: "The Bosche machine-gunners now kept up a slow and very deadly fire, and anyone who popped his head above his shell hole was hit". The Battalion attacked the Quadrilateral Redoubt with a total of 681men, 17 Officers and 421 Other Ranks were killed, wounded or missing after the attack.

The Battalion War Diary for the 15th and 16th September 1916 reads as follows:

"15th. - 6.20 a.m. All fairly quiet last night. 1st Leicestershire Regt. passed through the Battalion to attack their 1st objective. The Battn. got into position in attack formation ready to advance and take over positions captured and vacated by 1st Leicestershires 1 hour and 30 minutes after their 1st advance, in the following order:-
A Company with remainder of D Company in front line and a Two Platoon in front.
B and C Companies each two platoons strong on a one Platoon front in Support.

7.30 a.m. Battn Head Quarters moved up to where Battn were formed up. 7.50 a.m. Battn advanced 150 yards between Companies and immediately came under heavy Machine Gun fire from our right front. We had not gone far before we heard the Leicesters were held up by M.G. fire and unable to get on. After an advance of about 500 yards we found the Leicesters about 150 yards in front of us so dug in in rear of them. 8 a.m. Battn Head Quarters moved up to a Shell hole immediately in rear of the Battn.

8.15 a.m. Orders were sent to O.C. "A" Company to try and get in touch with the 9th Suffolks on our right. The Battn dug in in shell holes. 8.28 a.m. C.O. went up to O.C. Leicesters and asked if he required any support from us. No support was required. Both Battalions have suffered heavily, mostly from M.G. fire.

9.30 a.m.         A Patrol was sent out from "A" Company to reconnoitre German trench running N. from Quadrilateral in front of Leicesters where men in our helmets could be seen on our left front. Patrols reported trench held by the Boche and heavily wired. N.C.O. i/c Patrol killed and 2 men wounded.

1.30 p.m. Two Platoons of "A" Company were sent forward to get in touch with the Guards on our left. All efforts to get in touch with 9th Suffolks on our right were unsuccessful. 5.40 p.m. Orders were received from Brigade to dig in and remain where we are.
6.20 p.m. About 200 of the enemy were seen coming over the rise West of LESBOEUF, advancing in a North Westerly direction. We opened fire at 1,400 yards which seemed to be effective, this counter attack was broken up by the Guards on our left. 7 p.m. A large number of the enemy were seen advancing towards the Guards from LESBOEUF. 10 p.m. The Battn were heavily shelled during the day at short intervals. Sent a wire to Brigade asking for Major Street and Lt. Mellor to join from Transport.

                        CASUALTIES: OFFICERS.
                        KILLED.
                        Lieut. R.W. Fellows.
                        Lieut. S.W. Moult.

                        WOUNDED.
                        Capt. G.T. March.
                        2nd Lieut. T.A.R. Barnes.
                        2nd Lieut. K. Grounds.  (Later died of his wounds)
                        2nd Lieut. W.E. Brandt.
                        Lt.Col. C.J.W. Hobbs, D.S.O. (Remains on Duty).
16th.    All fairly quiet last night and very cold. At several periods during the day we were heavily shelled especially at Day break."

Although not mentioned on the 16th Francis was either killed by the shellfire on that day or the previous day of heavy fighting. CWGC Records show that 110 Officers and men of the 2nd Battalion were killed in action on the 15th (38) and 16th (72) September. Francis' body was not recovered and he is commemorated on The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, alongside all but 22 of his comrades who died on those two days.

The Official History of the 2nd Battalion has this to say about the 15th - 16th September:

"... the Battalion made ready to occupy and consolidated the positions captured and vacated by the Leicesters one and a half hours after the commencement of their advance; the companies were thus distributed "A" and remainder of "D" in the front line on a two-platoon front: "B" and "C" each two platoons strong, on a one-platoon front in support. The advance began with an interval of 150 yards between companies, and came M once under heavy machine-gun fire from the right front, and it was almost at once found that the attacking battalion was held up and unable to get on, so the Foresters dug in some 150 yards in rear of it.

As the morning went on both battalions began to incur many casualties, and at 9.30 a patrol sent out from "B" Company to reconnoitre the German's trench running north from the Quadrilateral in front of the Leicesters, where men in British helmets could be seen, reported the trench strongly held and heavily wired; of this patrol the non-commissioned officer in charge was killed and two men were wounded.

Towards the afternoon an enemy counter-attack seemed about to develop. from the direction of Les Boeufs, but it was broken up by rifle-fire from the Foresters and the Guards on their left. Casualties were mounting up, especially among officers; Lieutenant-Colonel Hobbs was hit but remained o" duty, and a message was sent back for Major Street and Lieutenant Mellor to come up.

The night of the 15th - 16th was fairly quiet, though very cold, and a; daybreak on the 16th the position occupied by the Battalion was very heavily shelled, and again at intervals during the day, but information received was that at dusk the 1st Battalion West Yorkshires, from the 18th Brigade, would relieve the Foresters. As a matter of fact, however, no relief came, but at 3.30 a.m. on the 17th the Battalion was ordered to vacate at once the positions held and proceed to Maltzhorn Farm trenches, which were reached about 5.30 that morning. A wet and uncomfortable day was spent here, and then, on the morning of the 19th, in accordance with orders received, the Brigade marched via Mametz to Ville-sur-Ancre, where the Battalion was accommodated in tolerably comfortable billets in the village, and where a much-needed reinforcement of 180 non-commissioned officers and men joined from the base, under Second-Lieutenant Cleveland."


Sources:
· The Buxton Advertiser, 4 November 1916
· I am grateful to 'Bronno' for the War Diary extract
· I am grateful to Martin McNeela for the extract from the History

Link to CWGC Record
Francis Pegg's name on the Thiepval Memorial
Sgt. Francis Pegg
The Thiepval Memorial
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