Samuel Percival SAMPSON
Rank: Private
Number: 29503
Unit: A Company, 8th Battalion BORDER Regiment
Date of Death: 27 May 1918
Age: 18
Cemetery: Soissons Memorial, Aisne, France

Samuel Sampson, senior, was a Cornishman by birth and an auctioneer by profession. In early 1897, he was in the South Manchester area when he married Sarah Elizabeth Thorp. She had been born in the Sheffield, in 1876, and was slightly older than him. A couple of years later, they had their first child, May, who was born in the Manchester area. . A year later, the family had returned to Cornwall and their son was born in Saltash. He was named Samuel after his father.

When the Census was taken in 1901, the family was living at 11 Edith Avenue, Plymouth. Samuel's auctioneering was clearly very successful as they could afford to employ a live-in general servant, Ethel Turpin.

It's not known when the family came to live in Stockport, but Samuel, junior, enlisted into the army in the town. The War Graves Commission records his parents' address, in the early 1920s, as 118 Wellington Road South.

In the fourth year of the War, the German Army was still strong. It launched massive and initially successful attacks in March and April. The British 25th Division, of which 8th Borders was part, had lost many troops and the replacements were not fully trained or prepared. It was decided to move the whole Division to a quiet sector on the Aisne. It would prove not to be a quiet sector but the exact location of the third strand to the enemy's Spring offensives.

By the middle of May, it became clear that the Germans were preparing to attack and, on the morning of the 26th , definite intelligence was received of an attack expected the following day. In the evening, 25th Division was moved forward to be in close support to the front line Divisions. The Borders were assigned to a position just east of the village of Ventelay (about 20 kilometres north west of the city of Reims in the Champagne area).

At 1am on the 27th, an estimated 1000 German artillery pieces opened fire on the British front line and support areas. The bombardment continued until 4am when the infantry attacked in massive strength. At about 7.30, the Borders received orders to move forward to defend a bridgehead over the River Vesle, to the north. As they were moving off, further orders were received to send two companies to support the 2nd South Lancashires, and Samuel and his mates in "A" and "B" Companies were despatched. As they reached the other Battalion, "B" Company was sent to support the 11th Cheshires on the left whilst the officer commanding "A" Company placed his men under the command of the Lancashire's Colonel on the northern slope of the Butte de Marchanne.

The Regimental History is sketchy in its detail of the events that unfolded as far as "A" Company was concerned, but it is clear from the record that, across the area of 25th Division, by 5.30pm, "the enemy was gradually encircling the position; he brought up  trench mortars and inflicted numerous casualties, while his snipers crawled out from the woods in front and opened fire and other bodies advanced from the cover on the flanks and began to enfilade the position with machine guns."

Over the forthcoming night, the Borders and the other troops withdrew, fighting all the way until they were safe.

Samuel was one of 32 member of his Battalion who lay dead on the battlefield. Like him, few have a marked grave and are now commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at Soissons.

   
           
   
     
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