2622 Pte Nelson Daniel MM
Served with the 7(S) Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent)
Queenie & Nelson
"The biggest battle of The Great War, the battle of the Somme, began 1 July 1916. Troops going 'over the top' on that fateful day faced uncut barbed wire and resolute German defenders. They, despite heavy British shelling, emerged unscathed from their deep bunkers. Within a few hours nearly 60,000 British soldiers were casualties, a third of them dead - the greatest loss of life in a single day in British Military history.
The British inched their way forward taking many strongpoints until October but the German front held. Field Marshal Haig planned a final assault on the Ancre Heights for November but heavy rains turned the battlefield into a swamp. Part of the purpose of this attack was to create a favourable impression at the upcoming Allied Conference at Chantilly.
The Battle of Ancre raged from 13 - 18 November before the winter weather forced a pause in operations. Between Poziers and Thiepval on the D73 lies Mouquet Farm, better known to the Tommies as 'Mucky Farm'. Here the British trench 'Regina' ran parallel to the enemy trench complex called 'Desire'. The morning of 18 November was bitterly cold with snow flurries. At 0610hrs A & B Companies, 7/East Kents, set off from 'No-Mans Land' to attack 'Desire'; they were quickly lost from view in the gathering gloom and mist. The need for information was critical for Companies C & D who were to follow and 2 runners were sent out. They were immediately killed. Heavy mist continued to obscure the battlefield. 5 more runners were sent out - one (Pte Daniel was wounded) and 3 were not seen again. The only survivors brief view of 'Desire'Trench yielded no details of who held it. 'Desire' Trench was eventually taken by the Canadians who took their part of the trench and bombed their way into 'Desire'. The names of 532 soldiers of the 7th Battalion are recorded at Thiepval.
My uncle was awarded the Military Medal 'for gallant conduct and devotion to duty. He never spoke of his actions and, although I knew of his gallantry award and have it hanging in my study, I only learnt of the details in April 2013. The story is a part of our family history of which we are inordinately proud.
Submitted by: Gordon Rayfield Wg Cdr RAF (Ret'd)