ID: IYS_105 / Edwin Sparrow

TitleFrederick Hutley of Great Wigborough died 30 June 1916

Rank: Private
Regiment: Royal Sussex Regiment, 12th Battalion. 116th Brigade, 39th Division.
Age 34
Date of death 30 June 1916
Service No. SD/1972

Frederick was born 1881, son of Charles and Rebecca Hutley of Abbotts Hall Farm and later Brick House Farm, Great Wigborough. Rebecca's maiden name was Hast. Brick House became known as "The Chestnuts" and has that name today. Frederick had four brothers and four sisters.
In 1896 to 1898, Frederick was probably living at Heckford Bridge, Birch, in 'house and smithy' but it is not known how he was employed. In 1901 he is a boarder in Beccles, Suffolk, working as an Auctioneer's Clerk. 1911 Census he is at 14 Kilbrack Road, Beccles, and his profession is recorded as 'Auctioneer'. He was aged 29 and single.
Frederick enlisted in the Royal Sussex Regiment at Beccles. He was killed in action on the 30 June 1916. He appears on the Great Wigborough War Memorial and is also on the Beccles War Memorial.

"12th (Service) Battalion (2nd South Down) was formed at Bexhill, 3 November 1914, by Lieutenant-Colonel. Lowther MP and a Committee. In October 1915 it was attached to 116th Brigade, 39th Division. The Division moved to France at the end of February and early March 1916. On 30 June 1916, it took part in a very costly attack in the area of Richebourg l'Avoue, which is not officially recognised as a separate engagement. The Sussex Battalions in particular suffered very heavy casualties.

The Battle of the Boar's Head, Richebourg l'Avoue, was planned as a diversionary action to make the German Command believe that this area of the Pas de Calais was the one chosen for the major offensive of 1916. The intention was to prevent the Germans from moving troops to the Somme area, some fifty kilometres to the south. British troops had been fighting in the area since 1914. The 2nd and 5th Battalions of The Royal Sussex, had fought at Richebourg during the Battle of Aubers Ridge, in May 1915, and in June of 1916 came the turn of the three Southdowns Battalions, which together formed the 116th (Southdowns) Brigade of the 39th Division, which had arrived in France on March 5th, 1916, taking over trenches in the Fleurbaix sector on March 20th.

On the 11th of June, the three Battalions went to the Divisional Reserve, being billeted around Locon, and commenced training for an attack (though this was still only a rumour). On June 16th they returned to the front line trenches in the Ferme du Bois area near Richebourg, holding the line until June 23rd, when news was received that the 39th Division were to make an attack on the Boar's Head, a salient of the German lines, and that the 116th Brigade, the Southdowners, had been chosen to lead the attack. Further training followed. A replica of the battlefield had been built behind the lines, but the battalions had only days, not weeks, to consider it. Initial plans had been that the 11th Battalion should lead the attack, with the 12th on their right, and the 13th in reserve. At the time that these orders were received, Lieutenant Colonel Harman Grisewood, was the Commanding Officer of the 11th (1st Southdowns). Grisewood had lost his brother, the Adjutant, who died of illness at Merville only months before, and this had deeply affected him. Col Grisewood, on seeing the plans, was concerned that if his untried troops attacked over unfamiliar ground a disaster might result, and is said to have instructed his brigade commander " I am not sacrificing my men as cannon-fodder!" Needless to say the attack had to go in, but the Divisional Commander, Major General R. Dawson, aware of Grisewood's comments, was concerned that this might be passed down to the men of the 11th Battalion. Grisewood was dismissed, whilst the roles of the 11th and 13th Battalions were reversed. On the eve of the battle, Grisewood left his men never to return. After a period in England, he was posted to the 17th Manchesters in 1917 and commanded them in the field until severely gassed. In consequence it was the 12th and 13th Battalions, with half the 11th supplying carrying parties, who made final preparations on 29th June, then assembled in the trenches of the Richebourg sector in the early hours of 30th June for the forthcoming attack, which was designed to "bite off the German position known as the Boar's Head", making the Germans believe that the real offensive was here, not the Somme. At 2.50 am the preliminary bombardment commenced, final preparations were made, and scaling ladders were placed against the trench sides to allow the men to go "over the top". In his history of the regiment Martineau writes:
"The records of one battalion are liable to be more eloquent than those of another. Yet, with the Southdown Brigade in France, there is much in common, and, in that sense, one may be taken to speak for all. There were superficial differences, however. Thus, the 11th Battalion, while supplying carrying-parties for the 12th and 13th on the day of the Richebourg and Ferme du Bois assault, sustained 116 casualties in this service alone. The 12th Battalion, assembling in the front line at Ferme du Bois, while the artillery bombarded the enemy trenches, attacked at 3.05 a., on June 30th, seized the front line, which they held for four hours against considerably superior German forces, and even broke through to the support line, which they held for half an hour. Naturally it could not last. The Germans were ready. There is even a story that one man brought back a notice in English, announcing: "Come on, Sussex boys. We've been waiting for you for three days!" A heavy barrage on the front line and communication trenches prevented reinforcements from being sent forward, the supply of bombs and ammunition gave out, and the valiant survivors were compelled to withdraw. The Battalion's 429 casualties included 17officers."

Frederick was awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal

Frederick is commemorated on the Loos Memorial to Commonwealth War Dead, Pas-de-Calais, France, Panel 69 to 73 above. He is on the War Memorial in Great Wigborough Parish Church and on the Beccles War Memorial.

From If You Shed a Tear by Ted Sparrow, Part 2.
13 Jul 2020 formatted for web by Tony Millatt. More information added about Frederick's Wigborough background and also the Beccles connection.

Read More:
Beccles War Memorial
Great Wigborough War Memorial
Death of Mr C. Hutley c1928

Edwin Sparrow obtained special dispensation from a number of agencies including the CWGC and The War Graves photographic project regarding copyright on their material used in "If YOu Shed a Tear". The IWM granted a non commercial licence for their material used in the book, in view of the nature of the book being commemorative rather than published for commercial reasons.

AuthorEdwin Sparrow
KeywordsFred, brickhouse
SourceMersea Museum