Oliver BRUNT
Rank: Private
Number: 300038
Unit: 2/8th Battalion LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 21 March 1918
Age: 32
Cemetery: Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France

William Brunt and Lucy Shatwell married in the early part of 1885 and Oliver was born, at Bramhall, later the same year. Although the 1901 Census lists several people called Brunt living around in the Cheadle area, it has not been possible to identify Oliver or his parents. Nothing is known of his early life until he enlisted in Southport, originally serving in the Kings (Liverpool) Regiment (service no. 8090). At some point, he transferred to the Lancashire Fusiliers.

On 20 March 1918, Oliver's Battalion was holding a mile of front line trench, north east of the village of Hargicourt (some 16 kilometres north west of St Quentin). Three companies occupied the front line with the fourth company in reserve. A German attack was widely expected and troops all along the front had been put on full alert.

During the night, a patrol went out into No Mans Land to see if any information about the enemy's intentions could be established. It came back at 3.45am, reporting that there were abnormally large numbers of the enemy in the trenches opposite the Fusiliers right company. At 4am, German artillery shells struck the front along the whole of a 50 mile front.  The bombardment continued for the next four and half hours increasing in intensity until 8.30, when it lifted from the front line. As it did so, German infantry could be seen emerging from the early morning mist towards the 2/8th's position. Masses of soldiers quickly overwhelmed the whole of the Battalion's area. The HQ dug-out was captured even before the officers had the slightest idea that the attack had begun. Less than two hours later, the German attack had secured all of the front line and support line areas 53 members of the Battalion had been killed with hundreds more taken prisoner. Only a few managed to escape and join the 2/6th Battalion.

The German attack was successful along the whole front, driving the British back over 40 miles during the next few days.

   
           
   
     
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