Long Sutton soldier gives account of Somme in 1916

Tony Goodwin (left) grandson of bell-ringer William Goodwin, who died after being wounded on the Somme in 1916. He is in St Laurence Church Surfleet, where bells were sounded in his memory, with churwarden Douglas Drakard. Photo: SGg110716-117TW
Tony Goodwin (left) grandson of bell-ringer William Goodwin, who died after being wounded on the Somme in 1916. He is in St Laurence Church Surfleet, where bells were sounded in his memory, with churwarden Douglas Drakard. Photo: SGg110716-117TW

This newspaper carried a first-hand account of the early stages of the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Corpl A J Luff, of Long Sutton, had been injured in the fighting and was recovering in hospital.

Writing home, he described action in the “great advance”.

Corpl Luff said they had gone out at 3.30am and that “it was a marvel” he got through the bullets and shrapnel to get to the third German line. Once there, they were ordered to take the village of Villers, which they did, before receiving the order to withdraw.

They dug themselves in for a brief rest, while the remainder of the division formed up again for another charge, “and over they went”.

He said: “The boys were singing and some were falling, but they pushed on and got the village”.

It was there that Corpl Luff was hit after being buried four times. He crawled into a shell hole and bound up his wound before making for the dressing station, the Germans “still popping” at him.

Pte J Furnival, of Sutton Bridge, wounded in the battle, says “our casualties” were very heavy, but the Germans’ were “three times as heavy”.

Other men were not so lucky. Lance-Corpl Sidney Simson (25), youngest son of Mr and Mrs F W Simson, of Hall Place, Spalding, was killed in action.

Pte William Tatam, brother of Mrs F Gibson, of West Pinchbeck, also died, aged 23, as did Sgt H Taylor, of Sutton Bridge, married two weeks before the outbreak of war.

Mrs Paul, of Winsover Road, Spalding, heard one of her three soldier sons, Pte William Paul, had been wounded in the battle. Pte George Kirk, of Woad Lane, Long Sutton, died in hospital from his wounds, while Pte R A Blackbourn, of Double Street, Spalding, was paralysed after being shot in the back.