Private 50400 Edward Minter
11th Royal Fusiliers
Killed in Action 17 February 1917
Son of Edward and J. Minter, of 75, Cowper Rd., Boxmoor, Herts; husband of Emily Florence Minter, of 5, Adeyfield Cottages, Hemel Hempstead, Herts.
Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 8 C.
Born: Hanley Garden, London.
Enlisted: Hemel Hempstead.
OPERATION AGAINST S.MIRAUMONT TRENCH ON FEBURARY 17TH 1917 AND THE PART PLAYED BY THE 11TH BATTN. ROYAL FUSILIERS
Edward Minter was 23 when he died. He was from Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead, 75 Cowper Road. He was married to Emily Florence Minter. His ranking within the 11th Battalion is stated as Private.
It’s unknown and unspecified which of the 4 Coys (A, B, C or D) Edward Minter was in within his battalion. There were difficulties with communications on this day, regarding the passing of orders and messages from battalion headquarters to Coys: ‘intercommunication by telephone was practically impossible’.
On the day of Edward’s death, Coy A had a big dinner and carried food walking through the night. There was serious congestion of troops due to there being a ‘single line of duck boards’ slowing them down in single file. Coy C narrowly missed being late. The Coys walked in ‘pitch dark’ and at this point the trenches were ‘greasy and slippery’. By 5.30 all the Coys were reported as ready however, from 4.30 onwards the enemy had spotted the attack and kept a ‘steady bombardment’ upon the newly forming lines. The Coys stayed in good form and the enemy’s attacks slackened and therefore, they eventually managed to progress and move forward at 5.45. However, the enemy quickly launched an intense machine gun fire causing severe damage to many officers. The War Diary states how 2 officers were killed, 1 died of wounds and 11 were wounded, leaving the troops with weak leadership. To progress further at ‘GRANDCOURT TRENCH’ there was wire that needed cutting and this delay also resulted in casualties. By this time the Battalion units had all merged and it was considerably diminishing in numbers.
The battalion finally reached ‘S. MIRAUMOUNT’ in the north of France in the Somme area. The wire at this location was ‘inadvisable’ to cut through. Therefore, the troops were forced to occupy shell holes. They remained in this situation for around 30 minutes until the enemy in the centre hosted an attack. Troops retired from the left and right as it was ‘advisable to withdraw’. The Battalion failed to reach its final objective. However, it’s stated in the diary how after the disaster regarding the mass loss and wounding of the officers of the 11th Battalion, the remaining troops ‘displayed the greatest gallantry and devotion to duty’ and fought valiantly in the circumstances. It’s written that on this day, the 11th Battalion lost 42 Other Rank soldiers. 162 Other Rank soldiers were wounded and a further 69 Other Rank Soldiers were never found. We have reason to believe that Edward Minter was in fact one of the 62 soldiers who lost his life and unfortunately was never found.
War Diary, 11th Royal Fusiliers, 17th Feb 1917, WO 95/2045
By Daisy Bishop and Leah Collins
30 June 2015