Horace LANE
Rank: Private
Number: 460332
Unit: No. 3 Company, 2nd Battalion (Eastern Ontario Regiment) Canadian Infantry
Date of Death: 9 September 1916
Age: 24
Cemetery: Pozieres British Cemetery, Ovillers-la- Boiselle, Somme, France

Horace was born in the Heaton Moor area (now part of Stockport) on 13 February 1892. He was the family's second son, his older brother, William Wilson Lane having been born in 1889.

When the 1901 Census was taken, the family was living at 19 Earl Street, Edgeley. William, senior, was aged 42 and worked as an time keeper at an engineering firm. His wife, Helen Hewitt Lane was 41. Horace had two younger brothers: Sydney (7) and Frederick (3).

All the brothers are believed to have served during the War and, as only Horace is commemorated locally on a War Memorial, the others probably survived. The Stockport Advertiser, in its edition of 9 August 1918, mentions that a W Wilson Lane, serving was the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, had been taken prisoner and was being held at a camp in Germany.

Horace attended Edgeley Wesleyan day School and, when he had finished his education, went to work at Sykes' Bleachworks - a major employer in Cheadle. He later went to work for the Atlas Assurance Company, in Manchester. He probably continued to work for an insurance company when he emigrated to Canada as, when he enlisted, on 23 August 1915, he gave his employment as "inspector". He enlisted at Winnipeg and was probably living in the city at the time. Horace's attestation papers are available on-line at the Canadian National Archives and these help to form an impression of the man. He was five feet, six inches tall (about average for those days) with a 33 inch chest (which he could expand by 3 inches). He had a ruddy complexion with brown eyes and hair. Horace had scars on his neck and the back of his hand. He gave his religion as Plymouth Brethren. This is, in itself, surprising as many Brethren refused to serve in the armed forces on conscientious grounds.

He was originally assigned to the 61st Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, arriving in England, after training, in April 1916. He left for the front on 10 June. It is probable that he was transferred to the 2nd Battalion very soon after arriving in France.

The Battle of the Somme had started on 1 July and, over the coming weeks, a series of attacks would advance the British line, but it was a slow process and costly in lives. Over the first few days of September, the Battalion undertook a tour of duty in the trenches, which its War Diary describes as being a quiet time, although 25 men were killed during the four days - most probably as a result of shellfire. On the evening of the 4th, they were relieved to reserve positions where, for the next few days, they undertook working parties.

At 9am on the 9th, the Battalion moved off towards the front line. It was a warm day, 75F, and there had been a little rain. There was to be an attack in the southern part of the British sector (to which the Canadians were attached), on the village of Ginchy and the neighbouring enemy trenches. The troops had arrived by 1.25pm. Each man carried 170 rounds of ammunition for his rifle and two grenades (Mill's bombs)

The War Diary records the events that followed 

"3pm  -  Companies entered "Jumping Off Trench", dug toe-holes and fixed bayonets.

4.25pm  -  Everything in readiness

4.45pm  -  Barrage opened, men leaped over parapet and advanced as close as possible to German front line.

4.48pm  -  Barrage lifted and our right companies gained objective. On left, our men were held up for a few minutes by heavy machine gun fire. At this time, one of our officers, Lieut J Pringle, alone, charged the machine gun which was holding up his men and silenced the gunners, himself being riddled with bullets.

5.21pm Message despatched by Officer Commanding attacking party (Major Vanderwater) to Battalion HQ, stating that objective had been gained and situation was well in hand. Trenches blocked and consolidated. Enemy machine gun fire from direction of Martinpuich made consolidation very difficult. Objective gained on enemy double company frontage- length 550 yards. Average depth - 200 yards.

10.25pm  -  Bombing post on left driven in (NB: by German counter attack). Re-established shortly afterwards."

The Diary records that the situation was very well under control during the night although enemy shelling was very heavy. 75 men had lost their lives and another 180 wounded.

The next day, the Canadians buried their dead. This will have been close by, just behind the original front line. The Cemetery where Horace is buried is some distance away from where he was killed and was greatly extended after the Armistice in 1918. This was when various small burial grounds were closed, as the land was returned to civilian use. Horace's body will have been exhumed and reburied at that time.

© 2006. Design and Layout are the property of Ihelm Enterprises Limited and cannot be reproduced without express permission.
Enter Search Phrase Here:(search may take up to 30 seconds) 
Close Search Window