The Old Seafordians Society
The Society has its own website: http://www.oldseafordians.org
OSGS Invitational WEDNESDAY 26th April 2017 at NORTH HANTS golf club
We shall be holding our 4th OSGS Golf Day at North Hants Golf Club, Nr Fleet in Hampshire. This is a top quality course which is used for qualifying rounds of the UK Open, inter county events and the public Schools Grafton Morrish competition that we enter every year. Many of you will also know that it is local golfing Mecca being the home to our major champ’, Justin Rose. Playing this venue will greatly increase the golfing experience for our members and will benefit our OSGS team as it prepares for the Grafton Morrish qualifying round to be played in May. All Old Seafordians are welcome of any playing ability. Our golf day is a social occasion and a chance to catch up with old buddies as well as a golf comp’!
For more information and to book your place see http://www.oldseafordians.org/Seafordian/project.aspx?project=27
Remembering Those who fell at The Somme in 1916
The area of Northern France known as The Somme, in the region of Picardy, now holds no frontiers. The Somme battle was named after the river that stretches east to west across this region approximately 80 km north of Paris. It is a fast-flowing river which meanders through flat, productive and green countryside. On a typical visit to France you may well miss this region, or avoid it not knowing of its beauty but knowing of its deadly past.
Amiens, the regional capital, has large tracts of colourful water gardens along the Somme. It is an attractive commuter city with a vast and stunning cathedral. Further east up on a plateau lies the town of Albert which became the HQ of allied forces during the Somme battle. Google map reference https://firstname.lastname@example.org,2.6418522,11z
The big push, starting in 1915, led allied forces to focus on the westerly facing German lines here. General Haig persuaded the Russian and colonial forces, along with the French, to join forces in a mass assault along a 16 mile section running from Gommercourt above the Somme river to Vermondovillers below it. The German forces were dug-in effectively with deep trenches able to withstand heavy bombing. The French would attack from south of The Somme, and the allied forces from the north of it.
The allied forces bombarded the German lines from 24th June 1916 with huge artillery shells. However, German army trenches, dug-outs and old house cellars provided excellent cover and the opposition forces emerged intact after a week of continuous bombing and took up their effectively located gun positions. The allied forces first went over the top of their lines on the July 1st. 19,000 men died that day along the lines as part of 58,000 casualties in total. Slow advancing soldiers were mostly cut down by machine gun fire and caught on barbed wire fences in no man’s land. The French pushed through German front lines to the south of the Somme and to the north from Maricourt to Bapaume with some success. The British and allied forces’ attacks to the north bought very little, if any, ground. The rumour has it that our men were told to move slowly across no man’s land to try to take German trench positions, but no one has ever been sure why those orders were given, or whether orders were individual to a particular regiment or area. At this stage of WW1 , what we are sure about is that the hastily-trained conscript soldiers knew they would likely die or be severely injured in making any step above the headline of their own trenches. The 16 mile front in 1916 was fertile fields and woods; by November 1916 hardly a tree stood. The allied forces tried to clear every obstacle that stood between them and the Germans believing that these provided distraction.
The area now defies its bloody past. It is now, as it was before the battle, an area of flowing fields and green pastures. Pastel coloured crops such as barley, corn and wheat provide contrasts below the big skies. The imposing Thiepval memorial was erected to commemorate the 75,000 soldiers who died with no known grave as well as those British soldiers who fell throughout France and Belgium. It is perched on a hill as one approaches from Albert and just down the valley one can see the Ulster Tower and Mill Road Cemetery behind the Thiepval woods, to the north Beaumont-Hamel, Devils Wood and Gommecourt and to the south Pozieres, Mametz and Fricourt.
Mametz Wood saw the most fierce fighting, many soldiers being The Welsh Guards. They were hit from both sides by German machine guns that ripped the thick oak trees apart. Most of the soldiers who fell remained and were not buried as they could not be repatriated. Robert Graves, the war poet, witnessed these terrible scenes as a soldier writing after the event, “It was full of dead Prussian Guards, big men, and dead Royal Welsh Fusiliers and South Wales Borderers, little men. Not a single tree in the wood remained unbroken.”
At Dantzig Cemetery close to Mametz wood 2nd Lieutenant J.G.Savage, along with thousands of his colleagues, lost their lives. He was an Old Seafordian and the son of the founder of Seaford College, Colonel Savage. His grave rests by two trees in a peaceful and quiet setting above a field of Barley that flows in the wind. The memorials are well kept by the War Graves Commission. The mismatch of these memorials with the fertile fields is shocking. Also pictured is a headstone of an unknown soldier, it is one of many and they are chilling to see.
The German memorial and cemetery at Fricourt http://www.greatwar.co.uk/somme/cemetery-fricourt.htm follows a simple formation in regulation. Soldiers are buried in pairs to signify unity, we thought, but it could be simply an efficient use of a cross. The black crosses are organised, if not minimal. The Germans lost almost 500,000 men at the Somme, a fact also often forgotten, and some were as young as 14. The youngest British soldier known to have served was Sidney Lewis of the East Surrey Regiment. He was returned home from the front lines after his age was established to be 12 years old and not 21 as required. By 1918 the age limit required dropped to 18 and so he re-enlisted, once again fooling the authorities with his older than age appearance and he fought again at the front.
If you are visiting the region it is best to spare a full day, if not two, and an overnight stay in central Amiens rather than in Albert. A car is essential if you want to take in multiple sites. However, the region is reasonably flat and so bike tours are rewarding and effective for the keen rider. To walk the immediate sites around Thiepval, one would need a full day for this; it would be a 7 mile walk from the top line at Gommecourt down to Brecourt and then 7 miles back with gentle slopes. There are fine museums at Peronne and Thiepval.
The Royal British Legion will be organising a daily commemorative service at Thiepval memorial which will take place at 11.45am every day from 2 July until 17 November. For more information, please see the TRBL website at http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/
If you would like to share details of your relation who fell during WW1 please send in a picture and a brief synopsis and we will post this to the website. SoOS web visited the Somme over the weekend of the 100th year anniversary of the start of the battle and we would be happy to help you with basic practical advice on the area or should you want to double check on details found on other websites. Please contact us at email@example.com. Also check The War Graves Commission website at http://www.cwgc.org
Story by SoOS Web – 1st July 2016
OSGS Invitational Friday April 22nd 2016 at Leatherhead golf club
Following the success of their 2015 open event OSGS announce their 2016 open event.
1. The 2016 OSGS open event venue to be Leatherhead GC which is over 100 years old and a good all round test ‘parkland’ course near to junction 9 of m25. Alfred Perry The Leatherhead Golf Club Professional for 36 years won The Open Championship at Muirfield in 1935. He was also selected several times to play in The Ryder Cup. There are a few of Alf’s old hickory golf clubs in the pro’ shop if anyone should forget to bring their own…
2. Date Friday 22nd April 2016
3. Start times from 10.30am.
Further details and to book your place see http://www.oldseafordians.org/Seafordian/event.aspx?event=91
OSGS 2015 EVENTS
The Society OSGS (Old Seafordian Golf Society) has now officially formed and is running both events and team matches for the first time in 2014 and held a very succesful event for Old Seafordians in 2015 at which 35 attended. If you would like to be involved please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org