Welcome to East Chinnock
East Chinnock and World War 1
Part 10
by Jeremy Churchill
Late Autumn 1915
The very disappointing outcome to the great French offensives in Artois (of which the “British” battle of Loos was a part) and Champagne forced a close to the heavy fighting on the Western Front in the late autumn of 1915. Both British and French took time over the winter to rebuild their battered forces, to train new recruits and to build up stocks of heavy guns and of ammunition of the right type for trench warfare. Both were also absorbing the lessons of the year’s fighting; both were developing new tactics and new weapons, such as the early tanks, to break the German trench lines.

The total failure of the Gallipoli campaign caused all to realise that the only way out was withdrawal from the peninsula, even though that meant admitting total defeat of the British and French by the (supposedly much inferior) Ottoman forces. However, thanks to the opening of a new front in Salonika with the entry of Bulgaria into the war on the German side, the British and Imperial troops in Gallipoli, amongst whom were several men from East Chinnock, found themselves posted not back to France, but to Egypt, on their way to new theatres of war in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) and Salonika (Greece).

At home, the strain of the War was beginning to tell, although to most people in East Chinnock the most significant change would have been the introduction of restricted pub opening hours by the new licensing laws and the increased cost of many things due to heavier taxation. The initial rush of volunteers had died down and recruits were not now sufficient to make good the heavy casualties of the 1915 battles. Relaxing the minimum height requirement and raising the age of recruits to 40 did little to help. In late autumn, the Derby Scheme was launched by the Earl of Derby, Kitchener's new Director General of Recruiting, Each eligible, medically fit, single man aged 18 to 41 who was not in a "starred" (essential) occupation had to make a public declaration. When the scheme was announced there was a surge in recruiting because many men volunteered without waiting to be ‘fetched’.

The Scheme obtained 318,553 men in November and December 1915. However, many men had publicly refused to enlist; this left the government with no option but to introduce conscription. The condition of some of the men taken up by the scheme is shown by the following men of East Chinnock:

James Adams Private (Regimental No. 54571), Devon Regiment. Son of Mary (widow), of 459 Weston Street, James was born in 1877 so was 39 by 1916. Married to Susan Jane (née Trask), with 2 sons, their address in 1915 was 449 Weston Street. James attested 11/12/1915 but was assessed Medical Category B2 (Medical Category B: Free from serious organic diseases, able to stand service on lines of communication in France, or in garrisons in the tropics. B2: Able to walk 5 miles, see and hear sufficiently for ordinary purposes)! Transferred to 167 Labour Company, Labour Corps (Regimental No. 99655).

Private Solomon Trask (Regimental No. 473946, later 7710), Somerset Light Infantry/10th & 12th Battalions, London Regiment. Son of Absalom & Sarah, of 433 College, and 23 in 1915, Solomon attested 10/12/1915, giving his occupation as “Painter”. Between volunteering and being called up for duty he got married on 24th January 1916 to Elsie Andrews (daughter of Jesse Andrews), of the Post Office, East Chinnock (then in “The Gables”). Called up on 8th February 1916, only to be discharged 01/04/1917 “on account of disabilities contracted” following service overseas in a theatre of operations.

Private Robert Tuck (Regimental No. 19538), 3rd Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry. Married to Alice (née Rogers) and with 3 daughters, then living at 414 New Buildings, Robert enlisted 16/8/1915, (Declared 6 years previous service with 3rd Battalion Somerset Light Infantry), but was discharged sick 1/3/1916 at Crownhill Fort, Plymouth, as “Not likely to become efficient soldier”.

Meanwhile, other men from East Chinnock were joining the fighting after months of training, prolonged while waiting for their equipment to be manufactured:

Lance-Corporal, later Corporal Frank Dane (Regimental No. 19496), Hampshire Regiment, France 19/12/1915. Discharged wounded (Silver War Badge).

Sergeant Maurice Axe (Regimental No. 14282), Royal Field Artillery France 4/09/1915.
Part 11
Winter 1915 - 1916