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Joseph Patrick Henley

24137 Private

7/8th Battalion Princess Victoria’s (Royal Irish Fusiliers), 49th Infantry Brigade, 16th (Irish) Division

Age: 22

Date of Death: 17.8.17

Buried: Tyne Cot Memorial Panel 140 to 141

Family history: Prior to enlisting in March 1916, he was employed as a Postman in Bonnybridge.

The action leading to his death

The 16th (Irish) Division had begun to come into the line on 3 August. The 49th Brigade entered on the 6 August. With battalions already reduced in numbers holding the line under appalling conditions for up to 11 days prior to attack was a recipe for disaster. The division was to attack with the 48th and 49th Brigades, and they faced a formidable array of blockhouses, at Potsdam, Vampir Farm, Borry Farm, Beck House, Iberian, Pommern Castle, that guarded the approaches to the Wilhelm Stellung. The atrocious ground gave he enemy an advantage that made rapid out flanking moves impossible. The supporting creeping barrage had no effect on reducing the fire from the blockhouses.

(Linesman Map)

The 49th Brigade attacked the blockhouse at Borry Farm, which was estimated to have a garrison of 100 men and three machine guns. These guns racked into the lines of the attacking waves and all efforts to capture the blockhouse resulted in heavy casualties. By 4.50am they had managed to take Beck House and had moved onto Iberian and Delva Farm, which were successfully captured. Some in the advance had got as far forward as 400 yards of the crest of Hill 37 and the German third Line but they were checked by fire from the front and sniped from strong-[points in the rear that had not been cleared due to heavy losses in the attacking force.

Medals Awarded

The British War Medal, Victory Medal.

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