Wilfred George Edwards

Wilfred George Edwards
Born in 1896 in St Ives, Wilfred was an only son of Arthur, a coach painter, and Mary (née Burdell). His sister Elise was five years older. In 1901 the family were living with Mary's mother in Needingworth Road, St Ives. By 1911 they had moved to 41 Pennygate, Spalding. Wilfred worked as an apprentice stationer.

Wilfred probably enlisted as soon as war was declared. He joined the 1st/4th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment who, after some months training, were sent to France in March 1915. He survived a particularly horrific experience at the Battle of Hooge, when the Germans used flamethrowers for the first time to great effect.

The Hohenzollern Redoubt was considered by the British to be the strongest defensive feature of the whole Front. Although only 25ft high, the Redoubt granted the Germans views and fields of fire across all of the battlefield. At the start of the Battle of Loos on 25 September 1915 the position was captured by the British. Many counter-attacks were rebuffed, but by early October the Redoubt was back in German occupation.

Wilfred's Battalion attacking the Hohenzollern Redoubt, with clouds of smoke and gas visible
The Actions of Hohenzollern Redoubt commenced on Wednesday 13 October 1915. Wilfred was part of an attempt to gain back possession of the Redoubt. Gas was released to aid the attack, but had little effect due to high winds and bright sunlight. Lack of ammunition meant artillery support was minimal. The Lincolnshires were in the first wave of soldiers. Overall there were 3,643 British casualties, most within the first ten minutes of the attack. One of those involved wrote as follows.
It was absolute hell with the lid off. Dying and wounded all over the place. Shall never forget this day.
Wilfred was one of the casualties, killed in action aged 19yrs. He has no known grave and is commemorated at Loos Memorial, France. He was clearly a son of St Ives, mentioned in the Hunts Post of 15 Dec 1916 as a one of the St Ives Free Church congregation who had lost their lives. Wilfred is commemorated on Spalding War Memorial.

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Source materials
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