Herbert Percival CHANTLER
Rank: Private
Number: 72874
Unit: 13th Battalion ROYAL WELSH FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 27 August 1918
Age: 24
Cemetery: Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval, Somme, France

Herbert Chantler had been born in Cheadle, the son of William and Sarah. William's first wife, Elizabeth, had died in 1885 and Sarah was over 20 years his junior. Their first child together, Francis, was born in about 1893 and Herbert two years later.

By the time of the War, William was running a successful business as a carrier and was living at 2 Wilmslow Road, Cheadle. In 1916, Herbert married his fiancée, Hannah Ravenscroft, at St Mary's Church. This will have been just before he went overseas on active service. They are thought to have lived briefly together at 3 The Crescent. By late 1918, Hannah had moved to14 Barlow Street, Oldham, possibly returning to her family home after Herbert's death.

He joined up at Stockport originally serving with the Royal Army Service Corps (service number 189385). It is possible that he was not, originally, thought to be fit for front-line active service but, later, with the continuing need for replacement troops after the German offensives in spring 1918, he was transferred.

On 6 August 1918, the Battalion occupied recently captured trenches near the village of Aveluy, just north of Albert in the middle of the Somme battlefield. The troops had to be careful as the enemy had left many booby traps in the trenches. They also had to give instruction in trench warfare to one company of recently arrived American troops. For several days, the 13th were in and out of the front line. When they were out of the firing line, they were undertaking training, but also had time for sports.

During the night of the 23rd, the Battalion marched to assembly positions north of Albert for what was to be several days of constant attack. At 4.55am, an artillery barrage started and the battalion attacked along a 2000 yard front, capturing the German position to a depth of 1800 yards, before they stopped to consolidate. The official War Diary records that they took 150 prisoners, 2 field guns, 16 machine guns and "considerable booty".

They were in support of a further advance during the evening of the 24th. One company was sent forward to the village of La Boiselle and found it clear of the enemy. The next day, they marched to new assembly positions near to Mametz Wood. They had been here before. In 1916, Mametz had been their objective on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, on 1 July.

At 4am on the 26th, Herbert and his comrades attacked towards Bazentin Le Grand. They were held up for some time by machine gun fire but eventually captured their objectives with minimal casualties. At 8am, the next day, they marched on the village of Longueval, without any preliminary artillery bombardment. They met no resistance until just short of the village, when German machine guns opened up causing many casualties. The Battalion withdrew slightly, but it had suffered 100 casualties. Herbert was one of 15 killed in the advance.

(Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)

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