Hood P.

PERCY HOOD 1896-1916

16/323 Private Percy Hood, 16th Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers was killed in action 1 July 1916 and is buried in Lonsdale Cemetery, Authuile, France.[1]  He was 20 years old and is commemorated on Cockfield War Memorial and the Roll of Honour for Cockfield Council School..

Family Details

Percy Hood was born 24 March 1896 [2] at West Hartlepool [3] the son of John R. and Ester Lena Hood.[4]  There were 4 children:

  • George Foster bc.1892 at Middlesbrough
  • Constance bc.1893 at Tow Law
  • Claude bc.1894 at Newcastle
  • Percy born 1896 at West Hartlepool [5]

In 1901, George, Constance and Claude lived at Saltburn with their grandmother Hannah Hood.  Percy aged 5 appears to have been the adopted son of Jane Copeland living in Byker near Newcastle upon Tyne.[6]  It is recorded that his father John died in 1897 and his mother in 1901.[7]  Percy initially attended Cockfield Church of England School then between January 1907 and October 1909 attended Cockfield Council School. [8]  Between October 1909 and April 1911, he attended Bishop Auckland Grammar School and left to take up a position as “a clerk in Colliery Office.”[9]

In 1911, 15 year old Percy lived at Holly Moor, Cockfield with his grandmother Hannah Hood, his uncle Charles Attwood Hood and his aunt Margaret Attwood Hood.  His brothers, 19 year old George and 16 year old Claude also lived there.  Charles Hood was a mining engineer.[10]  The census does not record if 15 year old Percy was a scholar or at work.

Service Details

Percy Hood enlisted at Newcastle-upon-Tyne into the Northumberland Fusiliers and was given the regimental number 16/323.[11]  The service details of Private P. Hood and the war dairy of the 16/Northumberland Fusiliers has not been researched.  The 16th (Service) Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers was formed in Newcastle in September 1914 and in June 1915 came under orders of the 96th Brigade, 32nd Division.  It landed at Boulogne 22 November 1915.[12]  Private P. Hood also entered France 22 November 1915.[13]

The 96th Brigade comprised the following units:

  • 16th, Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 15th, Lancashire Fusiliers (1st Salford Pals)
  • 16th, Lancashire Fusiliers (2nd Salford Pals)
  • 19th, Lancashire Fusiliers (3rd Salford Pals) left January 1916
  • 2nd, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers joined January 1916 left February 1918
  • 96th MGC joined March 1916
  • 96th Trench Mortar Battery joined March 1916[14]

1 July – 18 November 1916: The Battle of the Somme: an overview [15]

The Battle of the Somme was viewed as a breakthrough battle, as a means of getting through the formidable German trench lines and into a war of movement and decision.  Political considerations and the demands of the French High Command influenced the timing of the battle.  They demanded British diversionary action to occupy the German Army to relieve the hard pressed French troops at Verdun, to the south.

General Sir Douglas Haig, appointed Commander-in-Chief in December 1915, was responsible for the overall conduct of British Army operations in France and Belgium.  This action was to be the British Army’s first major offensive on the Western Front in 1916 and it was entrusted to General Rawlinson’s Fourth Army to deliver the resounding victory.  The British Army included thousands of citizen volunteers, keen to take part in what was expected to be a great victory.

The main line of assault ran nearly 14 miles from Serre to the north to Maricourt to the south with a diversionary attack at Gommecourt 2 miles further to the north.  The first objective was to establish a new advanced line on the Montauban to Pozieres Ridge.

A week-long artillery bombardment of the German positions preceded the first day of the attack – 1 July.  Just prior to zero-hour, the storm of British shells increased and merged with huge mine explosions to herald the infantry attack – at 7.30am on a clear midsummer’s morning the British Infantry emerged from their trenches and advanced in extended lines at a slow steady pace over the grassy expanse of a No Man’s Land.  They were met with a hail of machine gun fire and rifle fire from the surviving German defenders.  Accurate German artillery barrages smashed into the infantry in No Man’s Land and the crowded assembly trenches.  The British suffered enormous casualties:

  • Officers killed: 993
  • Other Ranks killed: 18,247
  • Total Killed: 19,240
  • Total casualties (killed, wounded and missing): 57,470

In popular imagination, the Battle of the Somme has become a byword for military disaster.  In the calamitous opening 24 hours the British Army suffered its highest number of casualties in a single day.  The loss of great numbers of men from the same towns and villages had a profound impact on those at home. The first day was an abject failure and the following weeks and months of conflict assumed the nature of wearing-down warfare, a war of attrition, by the end of which both the attackers and defenders were totally exhausted.

The Battle of the Somme can be broken down into 12 offensive operations:

  • Albert: 1 – 13 July
  • Bazantin Ridge: 14 – 17 July
  • Delville Wood: 15 July – 13 September
  • Pozieres Ridge: 15 July – 3 September
  • Guillemont: 23 July – 3 September
  • Ginchy: 9 September
  • Courcelette: 15 – 22 September
  • Morval: 25 – 28 September
  • Thiepval: 25 – 28 September
  • Le Transloy: 1 – 18 October
  • Ancre Heights: 1 October – 11 November
  • Ancre: 13 – 18 November

Adverse weather conditions i.e. the autumn rains and early winter sleet and snow turned the battlefield into morass of mud.  Such intolerable physical conditions helped to bring to an end Allied offensive operations after four and a half months of slaughter.  The fighting brought no significant breakthrough.  Territorial gain was a strip of land approximately 20 miles wide by 6 miles deep but gained at enormous cost.  British and Commonwealth forces were calculated to have 419,654 casualties, the dead, wounded and missing of which some 131,000 were dead.  French casualties amounted to 204,253.  German casualties were estimated between 450,000 to 600,000.  In the spring of 1917, the German forces fell back to their newly prepared defences, the Hindenburg Line and there were no further significant engagements in the Somme sector until the Germans mounted their major offensive in March 1918.

32nd Division: 96th Brigade: 16th Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers (16/NF):

1 July 1916: the First Day of the Battle of the Somme

The 32nd Division as part of the 10th Corps, Fourth (Reserve) Army took part in the Battle of Albert, 1 – 13 July 1916. [16]  An account is given below:

29 June: The date fixed for the great attack was postponed for 48 hours.  Battalions were ordered to “stand fast”.

30 June: 16/NF moved into its battle position via Martinsart Aveluy Wood and Black Horse Bridge and relieved the 2/Inniskillings at 2.30am.

1 July: 16/NF attack.  A Coy led by Capt. A.C. Young to attack from Skinner Street to Hamilton Avenue to Maison Grise; B Coy led by Capt. P.G. Graham. C Coy led by Capt. E. Thompson will be in support in communications trenches with 2 platoons in Hamilton Avenue and 2 in Gourock Street; D Coy led by Lt. Proctor to be reserve in the Second Line Gemmel Trench with Battalion HQ.  The battalion stood to for 5 hours until zero hour at 7.30 then goes over the top.  6 officers were killed, 13 wounded and over 350 other ranks were killed.

2 July: 8 officers and 279 other ranks return to the bluff, north of Black Horse Bridge at 1.30 that morning. [17]

Private P. Hood was killed in action 1 July 1916.  The 16/Northumberland Fusiliers lost 5 officers including Captain P.G. Graham and 123 other ranks that day. [18]  This figure differs from that given above.

Private P. Hood was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War and Victory medals.[19]

Burial

Private P. Hood is buried at grave reference IV.S.10, Lonsdale Cemetery, Authuile, France.[20]

Commemoration

Private P. Hood is commemorated on the Cockfield War Memorial and the Roll of Honour, Cockfield Council School.

References:

[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] Cockfield Council School Admissions Register

[3] England & Wales Birth Index Vol.10a p.134 Hartlepool Q2 1896

[4] Ancestry.co.uk: Polson Family Tree

[5] 1911 census

[6] 1901 census

[7] Ancestry.co.uk: Polson Family Tree

[8] Cockfield Council School Admissions Register Note: It records that John Hood was his parent or guardian.

[9] Bishop Auckland Grammar School Admissions Register

[10] 1911 census

[11] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[12] http://www.1914-1918.net/northfus.htm

[13] Medal Roll index card

[14] http://www.1914-1918.net/32div.htm

[15] Various sources including http://www.1914-1918.net; Peter Hart “The Somme” 2005; John Keegan “The First World War” 1998

[16] http://www.warpath.orbat.com/battles_ff/1916.htm

[17] http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/alliedarmy-view.php?pid=6789

[18] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[19] Medal Roll card index

[20] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

 

Photographs:

HOOD P. Headstone

HOOD P.
Headstone

2 thoughts on “Hood P.

  1. Pingback: COCKFIELD | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

  2. Pingback: Cockfield Schools: Some Details | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

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