WW1 Memorial Plaque & Trio to Collins Bedfordshire Reg KIA Somme 1916.
A bronze memorial plaque and the 1914/15 star, British war and victory medal all correctly named to 19672 Private Walter Collins of the 8th battalion the Bedfordshire regiment.
The 8th Battalion was a "Service" battalion that was formed specifically for the duration of the war. It was raised at Bedford in October 1914, as part of K3 Lord Kitchener's 3rd 'call to arms' for another 100,000 men to leave their civilian lives and enlist into the expanding British Army. That month, the enlisted men of the 8th Battalion, in the Third New Army were attached to the 71st Brigade of the 24th Division and remained there for a year.
The enlisted men from all over the county mustered at their local train stations and were transported en-masse to the Regimental HQ at Bedford to be mobilised into the 8th Battalion of the Regiment. Other than a brief spell in Brighton, most of their training was undertaken in Surrey, with almost seven months being spent in the sprawling New Army training area around Woking.
Finally, the increasingly restless men of the 'Hungry 8th', (a nickname used in a letter home from Private 19861 Leslie Worboys) received orders to mobilise and prepared to ship out. At 11pm on the 28th August 1915, the Battalion boarded the troop trains at Chobham Station and left for Dover. After transferring straight onto troop ships, they arrived at Boulogne early on the 30th August 1915.
Six weeks after landing in France, on the 11th October 1915, the entire 71st Brigade was transferred with the to the 6th Division, who were a veteran Regular Army Division that had been serving in France since 1914. During another reorganisation on 17th November 1915, the battalion were transferred to the 16th Brigade of the 6th Division. The 8th battalion served entirely in France and Flanders during the war and fought in every major battle during the battalion's active service, gaining a reliable reputation within a professional, Regular Division and winning many gallantry medals. In 1915 they were one of the few 'New Army' units to be committed to The Battle of Loos in September. They were also in the line when the army experienced the first German use of Phosgene gas in December, losing hundreds of men in the attack. In mid 1916 the battalion was involved in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette and the Battle of Morval, it’s the latter that interests us here. On the morning of the 15th September the battalion went into action, their objective was to take the Quadrangle at Morval Les Boeufs. To follow a detachment of Tanks and a heavy machine gun section but before the attack a heavy barrage of artillery was expected on the enemy’s position. At zero hour, the tanks did not arrive and the artillery barrage was not as heavy as expected. The men of the 8th battalion went into action under very heavy shellfire from the German trenches and were forced to take cover in shell holes, but shells were literally raining down, it must have been horrific, one survivor later wrote that during the attack it looked like the whole ground was exploding, his comrades were there, then just gone. Private Walter Collins was Killed during this attack on the 15th September 1916. His body was never recovered and he is now remembered with honour on the Thiepval Memorial. He was the 35 year old husband of Mary Collins of 3 Orpingley Road London. It is also mentioned on his CWGC certificate that Walter also served in the Boer war, this is to be researched.
All medals and plaque are in very good original condition and they comes with a small original photograph of Walter in uniform. This lot comes from the descended family, so it is the first time this lot has been on the market. Also included is copies of his mic, medal roll and CWGC certificate, plus the 8th Battalion Bedfordshire regiment war diary which comes on a memory card in PDF format.