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- 6th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry during the Great War -

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6th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry

   The 6th (Service) Battalion Somerset Light Infantry was raised at Taunton in August 1914 as part of Kitchener's Army and was attached to 43rd Brigade, 14th (Light) Division. They proceeded to France in May 1915 and served on the Western Front throughout the war. They took part in The Action of Hooge, in which the Division became the first to be attacked by flamethrowers, and The Second Attack on Bellewaarde. In 1916 they fought at Delville Wood and Flers-Courcelette in the Battles of the Somme. In 1917 They were involved in The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, the Arras Offensive and the Third Battles of Ypres. In 1918 they suffered heavily in The Battle of St Quentin and The Battle of the Avre, due to the heavy casualties the Division was withdrawn to the rear and on the 14th of April 1918 the 6th Somerset Light Infantry formed a composite unit with the 5th Battalion, Ox & Bucks Light Infantry, the unit was reduced to cadre strength two weeks later. On the 18th of June they transferred to the 16th Division and returned to England. On the 20th June the 6th Somerset Light Infantry was reconstituted and absorbed 13th Bn, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, they returned to France on the 1st of August 1918, landing at Boulogne, as part of 49th Brigade 16th (Irish) Division and joined Second Army. They were in action in the Final Advance in Flanders.

16th Sep 1916   6th Somerset Light Infantry attacked Flers-Courcelette on the Somme at 09:25

13th Sep 1918   6th Bn Somerset Light Infantry involved in action in the field at Auchy-Lez-Bassee.

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Those known to have served with  6th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry  during the Great War 1914-1918.

  • Bawdon Ernest. Pte. (d.16th September 1916)
  • Bayes Percy Frederick George. Pte. (d.6th June 1918)
  • Brace Douglas. Pte. (d.28th Sep 1916)
  • Bullock Thomas Henry. L/Cpl. (d.16th September 1916)
  • Burfield William Thomas Riley. Pte.
  • Carcary Arthur Henry. Pte. (d.6th July 1915)
  • Clift Charles George. Pte. (d.16th September 1916)
  • Durnford Henry Charles. Pte. (d.16th September 1916)
  • Garland James Henry Hill. Pte.
  • Griffin Arthur. Pte.
  • Hewlett William. Sgt.
  • Hobbs Victor. Sgt.
  • Horton John Henry. Pte. (d.25th September 1915)
  • Jefferies Alfred L.. Pte. (d.1st Nov 1916)
  • Mail William James. Pte. (d.20th Sept 1916 )
  • McMurtie G. D. J.. Capt.
  • Miller Maurice Epton. Pte. (d.21st Mar 1918)
  • Milton Joseph John. Pte. (d.16th Sept 1916)
  • Parker Edwin John. Sgt.
  • Phillips Louis. Pte. (d.19th Aug 1915)
  • Poole Thomas Henry. Pte.
  • Skrine Henry Langton. Capt. (d.25th Sep 1915)
  • Tavener George William. Pte. (d.22nd Aug 1916)
  • Upshall Theophilus. Pte. (d.16th September 1916)
  • Warman John. Pte. (d.21st May 1917)

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

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Capt. Henry Langton Skrine 6th Btn. Somerset Light Infantry (d.25th Sep 1915)

Henry Skrine rejoined his Regiment on 7 September 1914 and was promoted T/Captain on 24th October. As 'A' Company commander he went to France with the 6th Battalion (43rd Brigade, 14th Division) on 21 May 1915.

Prior to the second attack either side of Bellewaarde Farm on 25 September the Battalion, which had spent several unpleasant tours in the vicinity, was attached to 42nd Bde. After a heavy night bombardment of Railway Wood and the trenches beyond, the three attacking companies of the Brigade went over. Shortly afterwards the Somersets were ordered to re-inforce the line just north of the Wood when the enemy retaliated and drove the attackers back. Col Rawlings went forward to Railway Wood and seeing that a further assault was out of the question under the terrible gunfire, concentrated on holding the existing line for the rest of the day.

Captain Skrine, two other officers and eleven men were killed, one officer and 38 men wounded and three missing in the engagement. Col Rawlings wrote to Skrine's wife "...he was buried by his Company in rear of the fighting line. He died instantaneously, shot through the head. With him died four men... During the attack he saw Germans collecting in a communication trench. Immediately he ordered rapid fire on the enemy. A machine gun on a flank opened fire in return and your husband fell...".



Pte. Louis Phillips 6th Btn. Somerset Light Infantry (d.19th Aug 1915)

Louis Phillips served with the 9th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry during WW1. He was executed for desertion on the 19th August 1915, aged 23 and is buried in the Perth Cemetery (China Wall) in Belgium.

S Flynn


Pte. Alfred L. Jefferies 6th Btn. Somerset Light Infantry (d.1st Nov 1916)

Pte. Alfred Jefferies served with the Somerset Light Infantry 6th Battalion. He was executed for desertion on 1st November 1916 and is buried in the Arras Road Cemetery in Roclincourt, France.

s flynn


Pte. Arthur Griffin 6th Btn. Somerset Light Infantry

Arthur Griffin was born on 16th December 1898 at 73 Plume Street, Aston, Birmingham to Arthur and Sarah Griffin. He fought and was captured at Passchendaele in Belgium on 21/3/1918 and was forced to march to Germany to a p.o.w. camp where he spent the remainder of the war.

He met and married Ethel Elizabeth Cragg in November 1923 and went on to have eight children two of whom died as children. He worked at Dunlop tyres in Birmingham until he retired and died in 1984.

Editor's Note:- His Battalion were part of the 14th (Light) Division which were overrun when the German Spring Offensive (Operation Michael) which commenced on 21st March 1918, with the battle of Saint Quentin which was a phase of the Battle of the Somme 1918. He was one of many prisoners taken by the Germans that day.

Ian Round


Pte. George William Tavener 6th Btn. Somerset Light Infantry (d.22nd Aug 1916)

Thiepval Memorial

My Godfather is now 81 years of age and never knew his motherís brother. He is my late motherís cousin, so when my wife and I travelled through France with our daughter earlier this year, we said we would try and find out some information about George Tavener for him.

I did some research and found out that George had his name inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial. No family members had ever done any research about George, where he was fighting or where he had died. On the way to the Thiepval Memorial, we stopped by the roadside and picked a few wild poppies that were growing, as we hadnít anything else to lay at the memorial when we got there. We searched all of the graves, hoping to find George, but he simply wasnít one of the named graves. There was only one Somerset Light Infantry grave, which had no name, so we laid the poppies there. My Godfather was so grateful for what we had done and our daughter, who is 12, now has a better understanding of the sacrifice that was made.

Somerset Light Infantry Grave

Inner Arch at Thiepval

George's inscribe name

Thiepval Sign Information

Paul Harrison


Sgt. Victor Hobbs MID 6th Btn. Somerset Light Infantry

Sgt Victor Hobbs was awarded an MID for gallant conduct in the field at Auchy-Lez-Bassee on the 13th of September 1918.

Capt T C Park


Pte. Joseph John Milton 6th Btn. Somerset Light Infantry (d.16th Sept 1916)

Joseph John Pope Milton born on 23 October 1876. He was my great grandfather. The streets the family lived in in Bridgwater were not the most salubrious and the living was poor, so this may have been why in 1894 Joseph enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry. Joseph never left England, although other battalions of the SLI fought in South Africa. In October 1901 he was discharged from the army at Devonport as medically unfit to serve, perhaps thatís why he never went abroad. In March 1902 he married Jane Watling, a widow with one son and between then and 1915 when he went to war they had 9 children, the oldest son was my grandfather. During the latter part of this period at least Joseph worked for Sully & Co in Bridgwater.

Joseph rejoined the SLI (6th Battalion) and went to France in March 1915 at the age of 39 and went directly to Ypres then Loos and then Delville Wood and, finally, for Joseph, Flers Courcelette. On 16th of September 1916 the day after tanks were first used, they were to take Gird Trench but the barrage had very little effect and through misinformation the SLI suffered appalling casualties, mown down by German machine guns. One of the men hit was Joseph. Joseph appears to have been taken to a clearing station where he died and was buried but later reburied at Les Beoufs.

On 16th of September 2006 we were at his graveside and we will be there again, God willing, in 2016.



Pte. Thomas Henry Poole 6th Btn. Somerset Light Infantry

The only story I know about my Uncle Harry Poole's war service is that he was taken as a prisoner of war at Benay near St Quentin on 21st of March 1918 when most of the 6th Battalion was wiped out by a German offensive. He survived to live until the 1970s.

Roger Poole


Sgt. William Hewlett 6th Btn. Somerset Light Infantry

William Hewlett served with as a Signaller with the 6th Service Battalion (Prince Albert's) Somerset Light Infantry. Clearing my late mothers home we found a photo taken at Aldershot April 1915

Bernard Hewlett


Capt. G. D. J. McMurtie 6th Btn. Somerset Light Infantry

Captain McMurtie was a prisoner at Graudenz POW Camp.


Pte. Arthur Henry Carcary 6th Btn. Somerset Light Infantry (d.6th July 1915)

Although Arthur Carcary was from Kent, he enlisted in Taunton. He died, accidentally drowned, believed in Yser Canal, on 6th July 1915. His name is inscribed on the Menin Gate, Ypres. He was the son of David and Christina Carcary.

Dan Green


Pte. William Thomas Riley Burfield 6th Btn., D Coy. Somerset Light Infantry

William Burfield was born on 1st of October 1877 in Blaenavon in Wales, but moved to Taunton (and later Yeovil) as a boy with his family. In 1903 he married (Florence) Ethel Hockey in Norton-sub-Hamden and they had five children: Wilfred b.1903, Daisy b.1906, Leslie b.1910, Nora b.1914 and (Stanley) Norman b.1919.

William was a painter and decorator by trade and signed up for the Yeovil Territorials before WW1 started. The Yeovil Territorials were incorporated into the 6th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry when war broke out and, despite already being 37 years old, William joined up (he may have lied about his age and claimed to be 34 in 1914 and not 37 as he really was). William was a very fit man for his age and he first saw action in France in August 1915 in D company, and he fought on the Western front for two years before being invalided out of the Somerset Light Infantry in August 1917 at Ypres at the age of 39.

Thereafter he served out his time in the Labour Corps before returning home to Montacute where he died of pneumonia on 1st March 1921, aged just 43. According to his son Wilfred, William's lungs were damaged in the Great War (presumably by gas) and this may have been a contributory factor in his death at what was a relatively young age.

John Burfield


Pte. John Warman 6th Btn. (d.21st May 1917)

John Warman enlisted in the London Regiment and went on to served with the 6th Somerset Light Infantry.



Pte. John Henry "Mad Jack" Horton 6th Btn., "D" Coy. Somerset Light Infantry (d.25th September 1915)

John Henry `Mad Jack' Horton was my great grandfather and was a glass blower by trade. His name is amongst many of his Battalion on the Menin Gate Memorial.

John Morgan


Pte. Ernest Bawdon 6th Btn. Somerset Light Infantry (d.16th September 1916)

Ernest Bawdon is my third cousin. He was shot by a German sniper whilst tending to an injured officer in no-man's-land on 16th September 1916.

Neil Bawdon


Pte. Percy Frederick George Bayes 6th Btn Somerset Light Infantry (d.6th June 1918)

Percy Bayes was a joiner in peacetime. He was known to be in a Construction Corps and served with the 6th Somerset Light Infantry based at Montrescourt. He was captured at Moy de l'Aisne on 21st of May 1918 during the German attack called Operation Michael and died as a POW at German Military Hospital 21D. He was buried at Bohain then re-buried in the 1920's at Premont Military Cemetery.


L/Cpl. Thomas Henry Bullock 6th Btn. Somerset Light Infantry (d.16th September 1916)

I found Thomas Bullock's death plaque and did some research to find he died during the Battle of the Somme - the attack on Gird Trench on 16th September 1916. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. I do not have any further information. Maybe someone else does?


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