Vyger Irish Genealogy

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Leslie Surgenor of Belfast, Ireland

Died 19th July 1916 - Fromelles, France

leslie-surgenor-fromelles-franceI am trying to help in the search for the family of Leslie Surgenor (aka Surgeoner, Surgener, Sargent) who is listed as one of those soldiers who died at the Battle of Fromelles in France on the 19th July 1916. Leslie's body has never been found and he therefore has no known grave at present so is amongst the thousands of casualties whose bodies are still to be found and identified.

After the discovery in 2008 of a mass burial pit at Pheasant Wood near Fromelles work began in May of 2009 to exhume the remains of up to 400 unknown soldiers buried there. These unknown Soldiers are a mixture of Australian and British forces who fought in the battle The task of trying to identify the bodies through DNA samples and other means is being overseen by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Researchers are hopeful that they can make contact with living relatives, identify these bodies and finally lay them to rest.

Leslie Surgenor (aka Surgeoner, Surgener, Sargent) enlisted at Bournemouth, England into the Hampshire Regiment, number 2151. His address was given as Belfast, Ireland but I have never to date come across a birth record to link Leslie to his family. He later served with the 2/6th Battalion of the Royal Warickshire Regiment as a Private (6276) and it was that regiment he was serving with at the time of his death.

If you can shed any light on the origins of Leslie Surgenor or he appears in your genealogy please do get in touch through the email at the top of this page. 

 

Military Record

Surname - Surgenor
Christian name - Leslie

Enlisted - Bournemouth
Residence - Belfast, Ireland

Died date - 19 July 1916
Died how - Killed in Action
Theatre of War - France & Flanders

Regiment - Royal Warickshire Regiment
Battalion - 2/6th Battalion
Rank - Private
Number - 6276

Notes - Formerly 2151, Hants regiment

 

Possible 1911 Census matches

Name

 DOB

Census Place
SARGEANT TOM LESLIE

1900

11 Dartford Kent
SARGENT ALBERT LESLIE

1896

15 Newhaven Sussex
SARGENT BERTRAM SAMUEL LESLIE

1899

12 Uxbridge Middlesex
SARGENT FRANK LESLIE

1901

10 Ecclesall Bierlow Yorkshire
SARGENT HARRY LESLIE

1896

15 Sunderland Durham
SARGENT LESLIE

1896

15 Greenwich London
SARGENT LESLIE

1902

9 Croydon Surrey
SARGENT WALTER LESLIE

1896

15 Tonbridge Kent
SURGENOR LESLIE

1899

12 West Derby Lancashire


Please get in touch even if only to definately rule out some of the above individuals. 

 

The following is from The History Learning Site

The Battle of Fromelles started on July 19th 1916 and lasted until the following day. The battle was an attempt to stop the Germans moving troops away from this sector to the Battle of the Somme that was being fought fifty miles to the south. The area around Fromelles was seen as a “quiet” sector where the Germans could move their troops around with some ease. The battle was an attempt to disrupt this and possibly force the German High Command to move more troops to Fromelles from the Somme battlefield to support their troops there.

On July 19th Australian and British troops from two divisions (61st Division and the 5th Australian Division) attacked German positions at Fromelles. The lines had been shelled for seven hours by 200,000 artillery rounds.

However, Allied intelligence had failed to pickup that the Germans had abandoned these lines and had set up new positions about 200m behind them where they had built concrete bunkers that housed machine guns. The expectation was that those in the German trenches would be killed or totally demoralised from the bombardment.

The end of a bombardment was followed by an infantry attack and the Germans were well aware of this. When the Allies attacked, they were hit by a German artillery bombardment that left many dead in their own trenches. Those who got through had to face well dug in machine guns that had escaped the Allied bombardment. The 61st was badly hit and they were forced to retire to their own lines after suffering heavy casualties. The Australians did better and reached what they thought were the German front lines, only to find them flooded and indefensible. By July 20th, they like the 61st had to retreat after suffering very high casualties.

The attacks were failures and very costly in terms of manpower. 5,533 Australians (about 90% of those involved) and 1,547 British troops (about 50% of those involved) were casualties. Ironically, the failure of the 61st to reach the German lines saved it from heavier casualties – as suffered by the Australians.

Many men lay wounded in ‘No Mans Land’. However, a plan for a temporary truce with the Germans to allow the wounded could be collected was vetoed by senior officers.

The organisation behind the battle was poor as so much planning and energy was being invested in the Somme campaign. Few would doubt that the planning was a fiasco. Fromelles was one of the worst disasters to befall the Australian Army in the whole of World War One and it did a great deal to sour relations between British and Australian senior army commanders.

In 2008 a mass grave of about 400 Allied soldiers was discovered at Pheasant Wood near to Fromelles. It is believed that the Germans quickly put as many bodies as they could into a mass grave to prevent the spread of disease. The bodies will be reburied in individual graves near to Pheasant Wood, a process that will be supervised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.