butte_de_warlencourt_memorialUpdate July 2013: a new Centenary project for the Butte .

The Butte de Warlencourt, a prehistoric burial mound on the side of the Albert to Bapaume Road, was, during the 1916 Battle of the Somme, a position of great strength for the Germans. It was fortified with barbed wire, riddled with tunnels and defended by machine guns and mortars and stood as a sentinel in front of the major German trenches called Gird Trench and Gird Support.

As the British Army clawed its way forward over the Somme battlefield during the summer of 1916, the Butte, standing several hundred feet higher than the surrounding countryside, was of immense value to the Germans. By late September 1916 the front line had been pushed towards the village of Le Sars.  A large scale assault by seven British and Commonwealth Divisions was planned for 1 October; one of the objectives was to be Eaucourt l'Abbeye which was directly overlooked by the Butte. The units involved in the attack here were from the 47th (London) Division and 50th (Northumbrian) Division. The commanding officer of the 1/6th Durham Light Infantry (DLI) was wounded, so the 1/9th DLI, who were in support, came up. The commanding officer of the 1/9th DLI was Lt Colonel Roland Boys Bradford who, for his actions, was awarded the Victoria Cross. The citation reads as follows:

For most conspicuous bravery and good leadership in attack, whereby he saved the situation on the right flank of his Brigade and of the Division. Lieutenant-Colonel Bradford's Battalion was in support. A leading Battalion having suffered very severe casualties, and the Commander wounded, its flank became dangerously exposed at close quarters to the enemy. Raked by machine-gun fire, the situation of the Battalion was critical. At the request of the wounded Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Bradford asked permission to command the exposed Battalion in addition to his own. Permission granted, he at once proceeded to the foremost lines. By his fearless energy under fire of all description, and his skilful leadership of the two Battalions, regardless of all danger, he succeeded in rallying the attack, captured and defended the objective, and so secured the flank.

The London Gazette, 24 November 1916

Medal Index Cards (MICs) are the original method of recording medal entitlement for soldiers who served in the Great War.

Each soldier who served in an active theatre of operations was awarded a medal. If you have a relation or a research subject who served at the front, there will almost certainly be a card for him. There is sometimes useful information on the reverse of these cards.

The Medal Index Cards were stored at the Ministry of Defence record centre in Hayes until 2005. Due to the need to make space, the MoD sold the Hayes site for redevelopment; the MoD (which owned the cards) proposed the cards would be destroyed. No museum or archive was prepared to take them on, so the Western Front Association came forward and agreed to save these records.

Since obtaining these cards, the WFA has been storing them. Many WFA members have requested copies of these, often placing the card in a frame alongside the medals.

The Western Front Association is delighted to be able to offer this copying service to WFA members and non-members alike in return for a small donation to our work.

If you would like a copy of a MIC record, please contact the WFA Office.

The Medal Index Card below shows Pte Robert H Reeves, killed in action aged 15.

Pvt Robert H Reeves medal index card mic

 

Established in 1980 by noted military historian John Giles, the Western Front Association has grown over the years to more than 6,500 members worldwide.

The WFA has supported many remembrance and research projects, from the renovation of battlefield memorials, to organising care for the veterans, to re-establishing the 11 o'clock two-minute silence at the Cenotaph on 11 November each year.

 

Activities of The Western Front Association

The WFA is widely regarded as a first-class example of an historical interest group, with some of its members acting as subject-matter experts for TV, publications, tours, and education. In addition to the publication of our two journals, Stand To! and Bulletin we organise many different events for both the public and for our members. We also make available to members some exclusive products, services and discounts in our shopping activities, such as our renowned collection of trench maps. But the thing our members perhaps value highest is the comradeship and network of many others who share a common interest.

 

Organisation

The WFA, which is a registered charity in the United Kingdom, is managed by an elected Executive Committee, which is advised by a President (see below) and a number of Vice-Presidents (see below). Individuals become members on payment of a subscription, and they form themselves into branches. The Association is a registered charity in the UK, and operates to a democratic constitution. The members of the Executive Committee are subject to annual election (in the case of a Trustee) or reappointment (in the case of an Appointee). The Committee meets four times per year. Its activities are subject to the WFA Constitution, and the laws relating to charities in the UK. All Committee activity is voluntary and unpaid.

 

Patron

Colonel Terry Cave CBE

 

President

We are very proud that Correlli Barnett CBE, DSc, MA, FRSI, FRHistS, FRSA is the President of the Association. Correlli is known as both military and social historian. Since being invited to the Presidency in 1999, he has played an important and active role in the affairs of the Association. Among his works are:

 

  • The Swordbearers
  • The Great War
  • Britain and her Army
  • The Audit of War
  • The Verdict of Peace
  • The Lost Victory
  • The Collapse of British Power

 

Vice-Presidents

 

  • The Earl Kitchener TD, DL
  • Professor Peter Simkins MBE, FRHistS
  • André Coilliot
  • Dr John Bourne BA, PhD, FRHistS
  • Hon Leonard G Shurtleff
  • The Burgomaster of Ypres
  • The Mayor of Albert
  • Col Graham Parker MBE Rtd.
  • Prof Gary Sheffield BA, MA, PhD
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