Samuel Wood Bath
'A' Battery. 106th Brigade. Royal Field Artillery
Died of a bullet wound to his mouth and neck in the 3rd Canadian Hospital Boulogne on Sunday 5th August 1917 aged 37.
Samuel enlisted in February 1915, well prior to being called up, and served with the CVI (106th) Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery. This brigade was originally comprised of A, B, C and D Batteries RFA and the Brigade Ammunition Column. It was placed under command of the 24th Division. The batteries were all armed with four 18-pounder field guns. The brigade then remained with the division throughout the war.
This Division was established in September 1914 as part of Army Order 388 authorising Kitchener's Third New Army, K3 and The units of the Division began to assemble in the area of Shoreham. Early days were somewhat chaotic, the new volunteers having very few trained officers and NCOs to command them, no organised billets or equipment. It was March 1915 before makeshift drab uniforms arrived and not until July before rifles were issued. The Division moved 19-23 June 1915 to Aldershot for final training. Lord Kitchener inspected the Division at Chobham ranges on 19 August and next day it was the turn of King George V. Orders were received on 19 August to move to France and the first units departed one week later.
Concentration was completed in the area between Etaples and St Pol on 4 September. The Division's first experience was truly appalling. Having been in France for only a few days, lengthy forced marches brought it into the reserve for the British assault at Loos. GHQ planning left it too far behind to be a useful reinforcement on the first day, but it was sent into action on 26 September, whereupon it suffered over 4178 casualties for very little gain.
Samuel was wounded at Loos, and was also wounded later more slightly.
Not long after Loos, Samuel acted as a Driver for Major Ralph Hamilton, 'The Master Of Belhaven' who was killed in action on 31st March 1918 with the rank of Temp Lt. Col
They took part in many significant actions. In 1916 the Division suffered in the German gas attack at Wulverghem and then moved to The Somme seeing action in the Battle of Delville Wood and the Battle of Guillemont and in 1917 they were in action at The battle of Vimy Ridge in spring, The Battle of Cambrai and The Battle of Messines in June.
Samuel had been in France for just under two years when he was hit in the mouth and neck by a pip-squeak (small calibre shells and rifle grenades). They first made a "Pip" noise on being fired and then a "Squeak" as they landed. The German rifle grenades always being able to out-range the British ones. They were often described as "treacherous things" and accounted for far too many casualties.
The following entry comes from the highly regarded 'The War Diary of The Master of Belhaven'.
Blaupoort 2nd August, 1917
"Another black day. We have been pounded by guns of all calibers from 10 o'clock this morning till now (5pm). My Faithful Bath has been hit at last, very badly. It got so bad at 11 o'clock, when they were actually dropping 8-in. Among my guns, that I had to take the men away. At that time there was no shelling on the immediate right of the battery, and I took all the men there, about three hundred yards from the guns. I left them there and went to tell B Battery to tell the brigade by 'phone that I had to leave the guns. On my return I found that poor Bath had been hit by a fragment of a high-explosive pip-squeak. It had gone in behind the right ear and at the top of his neck, cut his tongue badly and lodged in his left cheek... He was nearly choking with the blood running down his throat. We got him over to the dressing-station where fortunately we found Mortimer and another doctor doing nothing. So they set to work on him at once. He was nearly choking with the blood running down his throat, but Mortimer said that would quickly stop. They can't tell how bad he is yet; it all depends on if the wound becomes septic or not. He has a good chance of living but I am very afraid he is very bad. He is a dreadful loss to me, as he has since just after Loos, and he has been a devoted slave, anticipating everything I could possibly want. Now at 5.30 p.m. the shelling has become intense, and my office has just been hit. Several more men killed and wounded. I wonder how long we shall be able to stand this sort of thing."
Samuel Wood Bath died of his wounds in the 3rd Canadian General Hospital in Boulogne on Sunday 5th August 1917, He was just 37 years old, older than most but still way to young to die.
Major Hamilton heard the news of Samuel's death after returning to the Billets at Reninghelst
Reninghelst 11th August, 1917
'Today I had the sad news that poor Bath is dead. He died in the 3rd Canadian General Hospital at Boulogne, of Broncho-pneumonia, caused by the blood he had swallowed. It is a terrible grief to me, as he did everything for me, and had been with me night and day for two years'
Newspaper Article from the Belper News dated 10 August 1917
'Another recent death from wounds among our Belper men must be added in the case of Bombardier Samuel Wood Bath son of Mr Joseph Bath 57 Penn St. Deceased will be remembered as having formerly kept the jewellers shop in High St now occupied by Mr Moxey, and later taking up the business of confectioner and grocer, Field Head. He joined Kitchener's Army in February, 1915, and had been nearly two years in France, participating in many severe engagements. He was wounded at Loos, and again afterwards more slightly. His last wound has unfortunately, proved fatal, a bullet passing through his mouth and neck, to which he succumbed on Sunday evening, as intimated by the Military Chaplin. As a driver in the Artillery he had various adventures, having a horse shot under him on one occasion, and on another, the animal was badly wounded and had to be killed. He was promoted to Bombardier, serving under Major Hamilton. His last wound appears to have been received on the Belgian frontier. Deceased leaves three children, the youngest just over two years of age. He trained near Glasgow and in the south of England. He was a member of the Primitive Methodist body, and had been in the choir since a boy. His brother Alonso, is also in France and engaged in the Motor Transport Corps.'
Interestingly the newspaper article refers to a 'bullet' whilst Maj. Hamilton refers to a pip-squeak. So Samuels wounds would be better described as shrapnel wounds.
Samuel is buried in the Boulogne Eastern Cemetery France. Grave Reference: IV C 52. He is also commemorated at the Memorial Gardens in Belper, Derbyshire.
1 Cemetery Road, Belper
Samuel Wood Bath was the son of Joseph and Martha Bath of 57 Penn Street, Belper and the Husband of Florence Amelia Bath, of 1 Cemetery Road, Belper, with whom he had three children, the youngest being 2 years old at the time of Samuel's death.
Samuel was formerly a jeweller who had a shop in High Street, Belper and later a confectionary and Grocery shop at Field Head. The 1911 Census stated he had also worked as a cotton mill stock keeper. At this time he lived on Chesterfield Road with Florence Amelia, who was a Hosiery embroiderer and his children Pattie and Alonzo. He was a member of the Primitive Methodist Church.
Samuel's brother Alonzo, a lorry driver also served on the Western Front with the Motor Transport Corps.
Samuel was formerly a jeweller who had a shop in High Street Belper and later a confectionery and grocery shop at Field Head, he was a member of the Primitive Methodist Church.
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