David HUGHES
Rank: Private
Number: 28633
Unit: 2nd Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 14 April 1917
Age:
Cemetery: Foreste Communal Cemetery, Aisne, France

Nothing is known of David's early life, other than regimental records published after the War show he had been born in Liverpool and was living in Edgeley when he enlisted into the army at Manchester.

On 12 April 1917, the Battalion moved to Savy - a small village near the German occupied town of St Quentin . The plan was that the next morning French troops would attack the town. If the attack proved successful, the Manchesters would go forward in support. Overnight, they moved to assembly positions and had dug-in by 4.30am. In the event, the French attack failed due to uncut barbed wire in No Man's Land, heavy German artillery fire and the enemy trenches being too strongly held. By 4pm, the Manchesters were relieved back to Savy

On the 14th, the Battalion was again designated to be in support of an attack and, at 8am, the orders came to move forward to Savy Wood. At 11.15, further orders arrived instructing another move forward, in preparation for an attack at 12.30. There were, however, no orders as to exactly what the Battalion was to attack. The Colonel rode to meet the Brigadier General and returned with more precise instructions. The objective would be a trench near a position known as Cepy Farm.

The Battalion's own War Diary takes up the story as they moved forward. "It was realised by the Battalion at the outset that it was impossible to cover the distance in artillery formation with the loads and paraphernalia that the private soldier is called upon to carry in the attack, in the time given. Upon arriving at the Bois de Roses it was found that the remaining 1000 yards to be covered was in full view across the enemy's front."  The Colonel gave orders for the men to use a different route to their assembly positions which were then found to be on the slope of a hill in full view of the enemy at St Quentin.

"It was found necessary to come over the top of this hill and move forward to a position more under cover from view, in full view of the enemy.  On this account, the Battalion went over in attack formation. Immediately the first wave passed over the crest of the hill, the enemy placed a hurricane barrage on the ground to be crossed with 10.5cm and 15cm high explosive shells. Though this barrage was straight in the middle of the Battalion, they moved forward through it as steadily as going on parade, each wave keeping its dressing and distance and every carrier retaining his load. By the Grace of God alone only 30 men were lost in this barrage."

Orders were changed again. The enemy was still holding a trench thought to have been previously captured and this would now become the Manchesters' objective. The intent was to attack it from the flank but the designated assembly positions involved crossing another small crest in full view of enemy machine guns. A small party went out to investigate a new route to the trench and it was decided to make a frontal assault as the men could get within 50 yards without being seen. As they were moving forward, the leading troops realised that the Germans had retreated from the trench so it was captured without a further shot being fired.

David had been badly wounded during the day and was in the process of being evacuated to a hospital by the Field Ambulance when he died. Another Edgeley man, Thomas Billinge, was killed. His body was never recovered and identified.

   
           
   
     
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