June 15th 1916

 

Deane EB

Private Edmund Deane (10th Bat. Canadian Infantry)

Whilst our attention has been focused on the Battle of Jutland, the Germans have launched another attack in the Ypres region, which claimed the life of Edmund Deane on June 3rd.

An official account states: “It was about 10 a.m. on June 2nd when the German preliminary bombardment of the Canadian position burst with the suddenness of a summer thunderstorm. A terrific drumfire of mixed shrapnel and high explosive swept over Hill 60, Mont Sorrel and Observatory Wood – the right apex of the Salient – isolating the sector absolutely. Warfare had never witnessed such a stupendous concentration of gunfire.

Storms of explosives rolled over the Canadian front and support lines with hurricane force and more than a hurricane destructiveness, wrecking position after position with ghastly thoroughness.

At 1 p.m. the German infantry emerged from their trenches and trotted over the scarred, shell-tossed earth where three hours previously had been well-built trenches manned by the best blood of Canada. They met with no resistance.

The 10th Battalion in the Brigade Reserve, when the storm broke, was at once ordered up to Mont Sorrel support lines in Armagh Wood, to assist the 7th Battalion, which was about to counter attack.”

The exact circumstances of Edmund’s death are uncertain, but we understand he was killed in the counter attack.

Edmund was at the OPS from 1879-83, under my predecessor as Headmaster, Rev AE Clarke.  We overlapped by one year, as I joined the school as an Assistant Master in September 1882.

May 24th 1916

Sous-Lieut. Noel Sergent (French Artillery) has met up with a number of his old OPS friends in recent months in Salonika:

“I’ve seen Molyneux, Wicks and Hoey once at a tea party to which I was invited. Molyneux was just the same as when he commanded an army of small boys and stormed the mound which was stoutly defended by ‘Captain’ Rupert Lee and his followers…”

Noel’s recent letter describes how he witnessed the shooting down of a German Zeppelin:

11/5/16. “We saw a Zep get knocked out in grand style. It was a trap. They pretended not to have noticed him till he was well over Salonika. (The aerial raid alarm had sounded three-quarters of an hour before and the aviators had already taken up their posts in the air.

Then at a given signal the searchlights were flashed on and spotted him immediately and the guns started blazing away. One beastly gun fired short every time and showered shrapnel and iron on our poor little camp and gave us a bad time for ten minutes. The old Zep was a long way up, but with my glasses I could get a ripping view; it looked splendid and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

Then one of our aeroplanes flashed a light on six times and the search-lights were turned off and the guns stopped firing and left the rest to our ‘Avion-canon’ (Voisin biplanes with a small naval gun on board).

Some time later we could see a huge bonfire a long way off in the distance and a huge flame shot up. Later again there were three or four explosions and a telephone message came through to say it was the Zep gone to glory, and a huge cheer went up.”

As no British plane has yet managed to shoot a Zeppelin out of the skies over England, it is difficult to believe it was the French planes that were totally responsible for this singular success.