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Person Details
23 Jun 1896
His was the son of Robert and Elizabeth Thrale and the brother of Claude Thrale. His father was a stonemason and the family lived at 2 Petersham Street Lenton Nottingham and later moved to 13 Harley Street Lenton.
01 Jul 1916
816243 - CWGC Website
Lenton Nottingham
1/7th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
Martin Middlebrook wrote in The First Day of the Somme: “When the Robin Hoods (1/7th Sherwoods) marched out of their village just on the eve of the Somme attack to march up to the line the normally fierce regimental sergeant major standing by the side of the road had tears streaming down his face.” After the 1/7th attacked Gommecourt Wood and suffered heavy casualties, the surviving remnants of the battalion became bogged down in No Man’s Land. They were harried by the Germans who continued to fire and throw grenades at them. Some were also captured. Many men, including some of the officers, including W E G Walker, ON, remained lying or hanging on the German wire in No Man’s Land until March 1917, when the Germans retreated to their new trench positions called the Hindenburg Line, before they could be buried. Many could not be recognised. In the 46th North Midland Division, which included the 1/7th Sherwoods at Gommecourt, the numbers of men returning from No Man’s Land by nightfall were so small that senior officers refused to believe that the remainder had been lost and wanted other men to go into No Man’s Land to look for them. The commanding officer of 1/7th, Major Hind, was among the missing. He was already dead. The 46th Division suffered 2,455 casualties on the 1st July in what was only a diversionary attack to the main offensive in the south. Robert Thrale during the Great War is recorded as the Captain of the Battalion Football team. He was a medical orderly, as his photographic portrait clearly shows and, on 1st July 1916, he accompanied the 7th Sherwoods’ Medical Officer, Captain J W Scott, when he went forward with a medical party, including Thrale, behind the 4th wave of the Sherwoods attack. By this time the smoke that had clouded the German trenches was clearing. As the party emerged from the remains of the smoke cloud in full view of the German trenches, they were caught by the artillery and machine gun cross fire sweeping No Man’s Land. Every man bar one was hit immediately with Captain Scott remaining miraculously unscathed. Amongst the men of the medical detachment who perished were two 20 year olds, including Corporal Thrale, and seven stretcher bearers. Captain Scott returned to the trenches where, in the absence of so many other officer casualties, he organised the defence of the trenches as well as treating some of the 200 wounded suffered by the battalion. He was awarded the MC. Thrale’s body was never found and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. Three other ONs, Mellard, Kellett and WEG Walker were also killed in this flawed and pointless attack on 1st July 1916. Thrale is recorded in the Sherwood Foresters’ History. It states that he was the Battalion Medical Orderly, ‘a lad of 19 at mobilisation’ who ‘was one of the lights of the medical staff’. ‘His cheerfulness and unvarying good nature, also the fact that he was Captain of the Battalion Football Team made him a great favourite in the battalion. He was gifted with extraordinary endurance on long marches besides having to remain behind continually with men who had fallen out and to regain his place with the Battalion, he usually spent time at the halts performing service for others. It is sad to record that he lost his life at Gommecourt, July 1st 1916.’
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