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Pte Harold Lee 301

Harold Lee was born on 2nd February 1895 at Hainton, Lincolnshire - the fifth son of John Lee, the village Postmaster and his wife Georgina. Harold and his elder brother, Percy, both enlisted at Louth into the 10th Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment (Grimsby Chums).

Both Harold and Percy were present on the first day of the battle of the Somme, when the 10th Battalion (34th Division) attacked at La Boiselle. The first wave had been moved back from the front line to supporting trenches, to avoid being hit by debris from the explosion of a huge mine under the German trenches, two minutes before detonation. This meant that they had to advance another 500 yards before reaching the German positions. The battalion lost 15 officers and 487 men - killed wounded or missing. Harold was killed in action on 1st July 1916 (his parent's Wedding Anniversary). Percy lived until he was 74. He named his first son Harold, in honor of his brother.

Harold Lee's grave is in the Gordon Dump Cemetary, Ovillers, La Boiselle, France.

Thanks to Mr S Marshall, of Toft Newton, for providing this information and for granting his permission to publish it here.

The Lochnagar Crater:   The Battle of the Somme

The road from Albert to Bapaume runs in a North-Easterly direction. It is quite hilly with the highest point at Pozieres - about mid-way between Albert and Bapaume. La Boiselle itself, is like a small spurr reaching out into the Avoca valley. This was where the British infantry began their assault, opening the Battle of the Somme, on 1st July 1916.

Lieutenant General Sir W. P. Pulteney commanded the III Corps, under him, Major General E C Ingouville Williams Commanded the 34th Division, of which the 10th Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment were a part. The commanders were confident that the men of the 34th Division could advance, capture La Boiselle and drive out any remaining Germans.

It was common to use mines to clear the most heavily fortified trenches. Early that morning, half a mile South of La Boiselle, a huge mine was blown. This was the largest mine detonated in the whole of the First World War. In one single explosion it created a crater measuring a good 400 feet across and wiped out 300 - 400 feet of German dug-outs, all full of German troops.

Unfortunately the British Army had not developed their infantry warfare tactics in line with the development of fast-firing machine guns. The old fashioned modus operandi was soon to prove inadequate against German machine guns. As lines of British troops began a steady advance toward enemy lines, walking forward without seeking cover, they presented easy targets for the German machine-gunners. Losses were devastating.

Update from Terence Camplin, 2 May 2015.

John William Camplin 1107: 10th Battalion The Lincolnshire Regiment, Grimbsy Chums.

I was looking through your site and reading up on the Lincolnshire Regiment and saw your request for photos. I have a past family member, Private John William Camplin 1107, 10th 'Grimsby Chums' Battalion, C Company. John was killed on the 1st July 1916 on the first day 'Battle Of The Somme', La Boisselle, Northern France. Prior to the battle of the Somme the Chums helped take explosives down through the Engineers tunnel, towards the German front line that caused the huge mine explosion and the 'Lochnager Crater'.

JW Camplin

07.28 am: 1st July 1916:
The mine was detonated just 350 yards away and to the immediate front of the Chums position.

07.30 am: 1st July 1916:
The whistle was blown and the Somme Offensive began. The Grimsby Chums advanced towards the German line. It was only a matter of moments before the first men was cut down, John Camplin made 300 yards across no-mans-land and to the lip of the newly formed 'Lochnager Mine Crater', he then moved on towards the German line but sadly he too was fatally hit. John William Camplin was 21.

John Camplin is mentioned (on page 73) of the regimental history and the following is a transcript taken from it.

"L/Cpl Eddie Powell and Pte Eddie Burrell did their best to wind out the wire. Under the unrelenting fire they too made it to the modest shelter of the crater. Three times they ventured from the crater’s lip to fulfil their task. On the last sortie they were both shot dead. Not far from them lay 20 year old Harold Cammack whose parents ran the Bull Ring Coffee Hall and John Camplin, an only son, and Sydney White the son of a town councillor. They were all dead.”

Johns remains were never retrieved from the Somme and like so many others, he is still missing. He is commemorated on the Theipval Memorial to the missing in Northern France.

Lochnager Crater

Pte Herbert Pass

Pte William Barker

Eyewitness to History - The Somme 1916

La Boiselle

Fred Stow's photographs of Albert and Arras after the bombardment.

Battle of the Hohenzollern Redoubt, 1915

The Western Front Association

First World War Pages

Tommy's Image Gallery

Lost WWI Memorial