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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
Nottingham
Thomas Edwin Dabell was the son of Charles and Emma Dabell (née Freeman). Charles Dabell snr was born in 1863 at Nottingham. He married Emma Freeman, born 1861, at Nottingham in 1883. They lived at 10 Carey’s Yard, Coalpit Lane, Nottingham. According to the 1911 Census, they had thirteen children, eleven surviving infancy (listed 1891, 1901 and 1911) - Emma b.1884, Charles b.1885 (killed in action 31/3/1917), Harriett b.1888, William (killed in action 15/9/1916), Rose b.1891, Florence b.1894, Thomas Edwin b.1896, Francis b.1897, Alice b.1901 and Annie b.1906. In 1911, the family lived at 15, Taylor Street. Charles snr was a general hawker, Emma a lace hand and Florrie a lace clipper.
Thomas Edwin Dabell was a bottle washer in 1911 and a labourer upon enlistment.
01 Jul 1916
20
758219 - CWGC Website
3688
7, Radcliffe Row, Coalpit Lane, Nottingham.
Private
11th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
Thomas Edwin Dabell enlisted at Nottingham for six years on 16th December 1913 giving his age as 17 years and 26 days. He was posted to 3rd Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment). He landed in France on 17th May 1916 and joined 11th battalion in the field on the 30th May 1916. He was killed in action attacking German positions at Ovillers on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 10 C 10 D and 11 A). 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 Bn Sherwood Foresters' War Diary recorded: 'Casualties along the whole front 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 a fresh impetus to the advance by personal example but the advance died out before the first line was reached.' A third attempt, led by Captain C E Hudson*, ' was brought to a standstill by heavy frontal and flank fire as they came over the hill in the last 80 yards.' 'Casualties during the day amounted to 21 officers and 508 ncos and men. The strength of the battalion on entering the trenches on 26th June was 27 officers and 710 ncos and men.' (TNA WO95/2187-3-1) 125 men from 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters were killed during the attack on Ovillers (CWGC Debt of Honour Register). *John Cotterill, custodian of the Sherwood Foresters archives, 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.
Family research by Peter Gilling (April 2020). Military research by David Nunn
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.