Saturday, 11 July 2015

Linslade Man Describes How He Won DCM

William Harper Brantom (Find-A-Grave)

Sunday 11th July 1915: Private William Harper Brantom, the son of William and Emily Brantom of Ivy Dene, Stoke Road, Linslade has received the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his actions while serving with the Civil Service Rifles at the Battle of Festubert on 24th May. Former Civil Service clerk Private Brantom of Linslade has describes how he came to be awarded the decoration:

“It happened on Whit-Monday, when the battalion, after a turn in the trenches, was in reserve. Eight volunteers were called for to act as bomb-throwers for the Post Office Rifles, who had been ordered to attack a particular section of the German trenches that had been giving trouble in their immediate front. A large number of men readily volunteered and after dark the eight chosen, in the charge of a sergeant of the Post Office Rifles, moved out in advance of the attacking company. The first German trench was surprised. Two bombs were exploded ‘beautifully’, and all the occupants of the trench killed. A furious fusillade then started from the neighbouring German trenches. The sergeant, and two leading ‘bombers’ fell, but the remainder went on and were so close to the enemy’s lines that every bomb found its billet. The little operation was soon finished and proved completely successful. Of the eight original ‘grenadiers’, four were killed, two wounded, and two escaped untouched.”

Private Brantom himself was one of the two men wounded and after some time in hospital in England has been home recovering. Bombing enemy trenches is one of the most dangerous manoeuvres for a soldier and it is to their great credit that Brantom and so many of his comrades were eager to volunteer. Private Brantom is now helping to recruit new men for his regiment [1].

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer and Linslade Gazette, 6th and 13th July 1915

[1] 2nd Lieutenant William Harper Brantom was killed during the Battle of the Somme on 4th July 1916 and is buried in Bois-de-Noulette British Cemetery.

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