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  • Photo taken from German machine gun positions (now Ovillers British Military Cemetery) showing the terrain over which 8th Division including 11th Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade), advanced on 1st July 1916. Houses beyond the distant tree line now stand on the 1st July 1916 British line.
Person Details
Syerston
George William Howitt was born in 1891 the son of Charlotte Howitt néé Burden and William Howitt a farm foreman of Field House, Boundary Lane, Newark. William was born in 1856 at Allington, Lincolnshire and died in 1905 at Syerston aged 49. Charlotte Burden was born in 1856 at Hawton. Married 18/5/1876 at St Pauls Church, Hawton, they had the following children - Mary b.1877 Newark, Emily b.1879 Long Bennington, Francis b.1881 Syerston, Lavina b.1884 Syerston, Ellen b.1886 Syerston, Elizabeth Ann b.1886 Syerston, Lottie b.1890 Syerston, George William b.1891 Syerston, Lily Sabina b.1893 Syerston, Harry b.1897 Syerston and Albert Edward b.1898 Syerston. In 1911, they lived at 3, William Street, Newark. Lottie and Lily Sabina were dress makers and Harry a butcher’s assistant. George William married Maud Lillian Cheetham (born 7th April 1893) in 1912 at Newark. They had the following children - Agnes May born 20th February 1912 and George William born 11th April 1914. The family lived at 4, Cotters Square, Millgate, Newark.
He was a plaster pit labourer.
01 Jul 1916
25
793851 - CWGC Website
17904
Private
11th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
George William Howitt enlisted in September 1914 at Newark and landed in France on 27th August 1915. He took part in the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He was reported missing and later presumed dead on the same date. Battalions attacking Ovillers on 1st July 1916 had to cross 'Mash Valley' one of the widest expanses of No Man's Land (750 yards) along the entire Somme front. Today, looking from Ovillers Cemetery (German front line) towards distant houses (British front line) across open fields offering little cover, the magnitude of their task is still evident. 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters' War Diary recorded: 'Casualties along the whole line were very heavy and a general attempt was made to crawl forward under intense machine gun and shrapnel fire, any available cover being made use of.... Lt Colonel Watson, walking diagonally across the front collecting men as he went gave fresh impetus to the advance by his personal example... A third attempt, led by Captain C E Hudson*, to reach the German trenches by the sunken road on the right flank was made but... was brought to a standstill by heavy frontal and flank fire as they came over the brow of the hill in the last 80 yards. The casualties sustained by the battalion during the day amounted to 21 officers and 508 men. The strength of the battalion on entering the trenches on 26th June was 27 officers and 710 men.' 11th Bn Sherwood Foresters War Diary TNA WO95/21871(3). 125 men from 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters were killed during the attack on Ovillers (CWGC Debt of Honour Register). *John Cotterill adds 'The man who brought the 11th Foresters out of action on 1 July and, one of the 6 unwounded officers, was Capt Edward Hudson who would go on to get a VC as CO of 11th Foresters on Asiago Plateau in Italy in 1918'. 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment suffered 264 fatalities during the same advance. Concerns of their CO Lieutenant Colonel Edward Thomas Falkiner Sandys DSO, a brave and well respected officer, that his battalion would be badly mauled crossing such an expanse of open ground with uncut wire an added hazard, did not impress his superiors. Sandys was wounded during the attack and evacuated to the UK. Depressed at the fate of so many men who had trusted him, Sandys shot himself in a London hotel room and died a few days later. 8th Division's Official History records a total of 5,121 casualties on 1st July 1916. Military Research by David Nunn He is commemorated on Pier and Face 10C 10D and 11A, Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.
His brother Corporal Albert Edward Howitt enlisted at Newark in 1914 and served with the King's Royal Rifle Corps. He went to France in January 1916 and he was posted missing on 10th July 1917. Later reported as prisoner of war, he survived the war. Article published 5th May 1917 in the Newark Herald :- Son of Mrs Howitt, Field House, Boundary Lane, Newark. Before the war worked at Messrs. Cafferatas. Enlisted in Notts. & Derbys. In September 1914 and in June last year was home on leave (see Newark Herald 24 June 1916) , returning to France on June 22nd. Nine days afterwards he was reported missing (declared dead in May 1917). The eldest son of the late William Howitt of Syerston & Mrs Howitt, who has two other sons serving. Cpl. H. Howitt (Leicesters) and Cpl A. Howitt (K.R.R.C.). While a son-in-law is a shoeing-smith in the artillery. Leaves a widow and two children.
Remembered on

Photos

  • Photo taken from German machine gun positions (now Ovillers British Military Cemetery) showing the terrain over which 8th Division including 11th Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade), advanced on 1st July 1916. Houses beyond the distant tree line now stand on the 1st July 1916 British line.
    Photo David Nunn - Photo taken from German machine gun positions (now Ovillers British Military Cemetery) showing the terrain over which 8th Division including 11th Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade), advanced on 1st July 1916. Houses beyond the distant tree line now stand on the 1st July 1916 British line.