Sheffield Lad Perishes at the Somme.

Wilfred Revill was born in central Sheffield in June 1896 and baptised in the parish church, now the cathedral. In 1911 aged 14 he was working as a Dray lad with a railway company.

 

He must have joined the army  before the outbreak of the war as by the 26th of October 1914 he was in France. This is only 12 weeks after the general mobilisation and would have not been long enough for him to complete his basic training. Additionally he was only 18 and soldiers were supposed to be 19 before being sent to serve abroad so he must have lied about his age. From his letters we know that he was in A Company of the 2nd Battalion of the KOYLI.

 

During October the 2nd Battalion were engaged in intense fighting and suffered heavy casualties so it is likely that Wilfred arrived at the front in a draught to replace these losses at the end of October. His first taste of action would probably have been at Hooge Wood in early November where the battalion fought in rain and snow with “trenches half full of water. “ More fighting followed with Christmas day being spent in billets at St Jans Cappel. A Company won a 6 aside football competition then, but unfortunately we do not know if Wilfred played!

The next major event for Wilfred would have been the attack on Hill 60 at Ypres At this time A Company was led by Capt F. W. Yates and carried spades and grenades so that any captured German trenches could have their parapets transferred to the side facing the enemy. The battalion held the hill overnight despite heavy counter attacks, before being relieved the next day. On the 20th April the battalion withdrew to huts at Ouderdom to rest. However, this was not to be for long and by the 22nd they were back on their way to the front and the second battle of Ypres. Fighting once again concentrated around Hill 60 which had been lost to the Germans. On the 7th of May B and A company’s led the storming party, Lt R,M. Roberts now being in command of A Coy. During this attack the company’s became cut off and 21 men were killed and 177 wounded including Lt Roberts. After the battle the unit withdrew to refit and receive reinforcements.

At some time in 1915 Wilfred returned to Pontefract and he may have spent some time with the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion as he wrote from Hull in 1916 where they were also based. (see below)

In January 1916 the 2 Battalion was transferred to the 32nd Div of the 97th Infantry Brigade and this was followed by a period of training behind the line. This break may have allowed Wilfred a chance for some leave at home, for on the 3rd of February 1916 he wrote a letter from Hull after having seen his grandparents in Sheffield previously.

By the 24th June the battalion was back in the trenches preparing for the Somme offensive. On the 26th they moved into the front line trenches and on the 30th June to Kintyre and Caithness Trenches east of Authuille. At 7.30am they advanced to the attack, under heavy fire A company managed to capture part of the German front line. However during heavy fighting Capt Butler was shot in the head and killed as he led A company on a bombing raid up a communication trench. A company continued to hold the Leipzig salient as it was known for a further 36 hours, during which there was constant bombing and no chance of sleep. At this time some wounded men had to be left lying out in shell holes under constant sniper and machine gun fire. In some cases it being only possible to bandage them by day and bring them back in under the cover of darkness. At 9pm on the 2nd of July the battalion was relieved and on the 3rd of July they retired to huts at Contay Wood for a much needed rest. It was on this day that Wilfred died as a result of the wounds he had received during the fighting, he would have been just 20.The Battalion was reduced to 2 company’s having lost (other ranks) 42 killed, 242 wounded, 6 shell shock and 42 missing; in addition to the officers casualties.

Wilfred is buried in Puchevillers British Cemetery on the Somme. (Plot I.B. 27). As part of his medal award he was awarded the Victory medal, British War medal and 1914 Star with clasp. The clasp being awarded to those who had served under fire prior to late November 1914.

 

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