The Battle of Delville Wood was one of a lot of small fights in World War I during 1916, forming part of the overall Battle of the Somme. Delville Wood was an excellent strategic position for both sides and the attempts to take, retake and maintain possession of it went on for months.
The cost in lives was massive for the gaining of such a small piece of land. Around 23,000 casualties on the southern British front alone including quite a lot of South Africans. The rain didn’t help. Which reminds me…from 100 years on, it feels like it did nothing but rain during the Great War.
One of the casualties of the Battle of Delville Wood was a young chap (19) called Edward Arthur Goodeve. Serving in the 8th Battalion of the Royal West Surrey Regiment, he fell during the fierce bombardment that ensued throughout most of August.
Almost two years earlier, at the Battle of La Bassée, his step father, William George Grinstead was cut down at the age of 27.
William had married Edward’s mum, Lilian May, in 1907. She was a 24 year old spinster when she married him. She also had a nine year old son, the father of whom is a mystery…at the moment. Of course it could have been William and it just took him nine years to make an honest woman out of her (as they say) but that seems unlikely given he would have been about 11 when Edward was conceived while Lilian was 15 or 16.
In 1891, Lilian was a six year old living in Shalford with the rest of her family; I’ve not been able to find her on the 1901 census but in 1901, William Grinstead was 13 and living with his parents in Guildford though he was born in Shalford, like Lilian. All a bit mysterious.
Anyway, I spent quite a big slice of today finding out about the Goodeve and Grinstead families while happily working away at the Surrey History Centre.
On the way home, I snapped the progress outside Woking station. They have put a hoarding up since last week.