1918 - Norman Waite WW1

Norman was born in London at the end of 1899 to Charles Waite and Rosetta Waite nee Parrent.  His father Charles the son of James and Hannah Waite nee King was born in Oare and Charles returned to the village with his children when he retired from the Police force around 1908.

1911 Census Oare

Name                             Status           Age              Occupation              Birthplace

Waite Charles              Head            59                Police Pensioner       Oare

Waite Rosetta              Wife              44                                                    Kensington

Waite Norman         Son            12                                                  Pimlico

Waite Lionel                 Son              9                                                      Pimlico

Waite Cecil                    Son              6                                                     Pimlico

No service records survive for Norman, and there is no record of if he volunteered or was conscripted but he would not have been 18yrs old until late 1917.

According to available records Norman enlisted in Marlborough and became a Rifleman in the Royal Irish Rifles No 50001 but he was later transferred to the 1/8th London Regiment. His records do not state when he embarked abroad.

1/8th LONDON REGIMENT (Somme Region)

Sunday 25th August 1918.  The day had been very hot, the men were exhausted from the heat, and lack of sleep, orders were given for the battalion to move in Artillery Formation through Happy Valley and take up positions in Billion Wood which they proceeded to do at 7.45 p.m.  The night was dark, the valley up which the advance took place was heavily bombarded and a violent thunderstorm made keeping in touch extremely difficult, but by midnight most of the companies were in position although contact with Battalion H.Q was not established until 2.15 a.m.

Monday 26th August 1918.  Orders were given for the attack to commence at 4.00 a.m.  The 1/8 found themselves in the front line almost from the beginning.  Heavy artillery fire was encountered in the ravine in Billion Wood and the advance was held up by hostile machine gun fire on the right and left flanks, a period of consolidation took place before an enemy counter- attack at 11.a.m. but nothing came of it and the rest of the day continued under heavy artillery fire.  At 9.00 p.m. orders were received from Brigade for an attack the next morning.

Tuesday 27th August 1918.  The attack continued and although coming under machine gun fire casualties were light and objectives obtained, the men some of whom had been without rations of food or water since the 25th August due to the hurried move now received food, water and rum rations.

Wednesday 28th August 1918. Attack commenced at 5.5 a.m. again it was a dark night and the terrain was difficult owing to trenches, wire and shell holes but the objective was obtained although the new line was shelled all day.

Thursday 29th August 1918. On this day re-organization took place and the men were given the maximum amount of rest. Casualties for the previous three attacks were: Killed 2 Officers 15 Other Ranks, Wounded 6 Officers 160 Other Ranks, Missing 11 Other Ranks.

Friday 30th August 1918. The battalion embussed at 9.00p.m near Maricourt and debussed at 11.00p.m. on the Peronne Road near Hen Wood then marched up the valley between Hen Wood and Howitzer Wood to the crossroads where the men bivouacked for the night.

Saturday 31st August 1918. Orders were again received for an attack to take place at 5.10 a.m. It appears one of the companies had been positioned to close to their own barrage and has the men advanced they were shelled by their own guns.

The report from 2nd LT A. Buck of D Company states the following:

On the morning of the 31st inst, D Company was formed up quite 200 yards in rear of the rear edge of the barrage.  The company moved forward when the barrage lifted and had proceeded for about 400 yards when some of our shells burst among the Company.  The main barrage was still well ahead and it is my opinion that at least one of our 18 Pdr. guns was faulty and so was shooting short.  So far as I know we suffered no casualties from our own barrage until we had gone forward at least 400 yards.  The guns responsible for our casualties continued firing short during the whole of the advance to the objective.  There is no impression on my mind or on the minds of the men that the Company had formed up too near the barrage.

Although the attack was deemed successful 5 Officers and 71 other Ranks were wounded, it is highly probable that Norman received his fatal injuries from his own side during the barrage or during one of the attacks the previous week.

He was evacuated to the 20th Casualty Clearing Station which at that time was based at Heilly, unfortunately no records from this Station still exist so we do not know what his injuries were or how long he was there but had he had any chance of survival he would have been moved to a permanent hospital.  He died from his wounds on the 3rd September 1918.

He is buried at Heilly Station Cemetery at Mericourt-L-Abbe, France. This cemetery was used for hospital burials from the 20th Casualty Clearing Station and the burials were carried out under extreme pressure, many graves are either too close together to be marked individually or they contain multiple burials.

He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

His mother Rosetta was granted his Soldiers War Gratuity.

Further information including text and an image that was left presumably by a family member in Oare Church can be viewed by clicking here.  There are a number of details that do not match the text above, so it is a shame no contact details were left with the text as it is believed there are a number of errors or assumptions.