The 10th Essex in action at the start of the German withdrawal of 1917

The grand monument at the Thiepval Memorial Cemetery in northern France. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/ A

The grand monument at the Thiepval Memorial Cemetery in northern France. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/ Arcturus - Credit: Archant

The 10th Essex Regiment went into action on February 2 1917.

Their front line was Desire Trench. Over 300 yards north was Folly Trench, held by the Germans with strong posts at each end of the trench.

The 10th Essex set out to take both posts, and their artillery put down a barrage as they approached the enemy.

Unfortunately some of the ammunition was faulty and they suffered several casualties from their own fire.

The enemy replied to their assault with a hail of shells in the early hours of the morning of February 5 1917.

Prvt George Frederick Arthur Blyth, from Woodford, lost his life in this most successful action which saw significant advances and a general withdrawal by the Germans.

Early on the morning of February 8 the 10th Essex Regiment captured Folly Trench.

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The Germans had withdrawn from Grandcourt village to the north a day before, and this was the very first step in the German withdrawal of 1917.

Prvt Edward Robert Markham, of Rose Villa, Chadwell Avenue, Chadwell Heath, died in the action.

He was the second born of six children; the eldest son of George Edward Markham, a railway car-man and Susan née Murden. He had worked as a Van guard on the railways since he was 15 and died at 21.

Prvt George Frederick Arthur Blyth, who died in action on February 5 worked for almost twenty years as a stock-exchange worker and died at 38.

George was the fourth in a family of ten; eldest son of Henry Blyth and Sarah Catherine née Rollinson.

His father was a Mercantile clerk, who sadly died in 1900. His mother lived at Dunedin Villa, May Bank Road, South Woodford.

She lost two of her three sons in the war.

George’s younger brother 2nd Lieutenant James Reginald Blyth of the 11th Rifle Brigade, had died on July 19 1916 at Ypres.

Cuthbert Rollinson Blyth served in the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) and fortunately survived the war.

Prvt George Frederick Arthur Blyth and Prvt Edward Robert Markham are both commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial Cemetery.