First World War Project

Harry PHILPOTT (of Doddington)

b. July 1897
d. 7th June 1917. Aged 19

Private, Service Number G/18481
Queen's Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment (Lewisham)

Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial,
Bay 45, Stone F
Killed in Action

Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Bay45, Stone F

This Philpott family was very much a local one. Predominantly a Bapchild (his mother's birthplace) and then Tonge family and only latterly moved south to Doddington Parish. Between the 1891/1901 Census returns, Harry's father progressed from Farm Servant (Radfield/Bapchild) to Farm Bailiff (Tonge). Then, in 1911, Harry's father was the Farm Bailiff for Homestall Farm on the northern edge of Doddington Parish. At this time, Harry was aged 13. Harry was one of six children. Form W.5080 {Declaration of relationships on application for personal effects. Countersigned by Alured Faunce-de-Laune of Sharsted Court} confirms the family home on 18th September 1919 was still Homestall Farm. The document records Harry's siblings: William H, 32 years, living at 12 Maybury Gardens, Willesden Green, London, NW10; Robert, 30 years, living at Grove End Farm, Tunstall, Sittingbourne; Amelia Jane Curtis, 24 years, living at 29 Crowndale Road, Camden Town, NW7; Elizabeth (19 years) and Norah (17 years) both in the family home at Homestall Farm.

On 19th September 1914, Harry enlisted at the age of just over 16 years into the 2/1 Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles (Regimental Number "2008") declaring his age to be 17 years and 9 months.
On 11th October 1916, Harry was transferred to the 4th (Territorial Force) Reserves, Royal West Kent and 3 days later (14th October 1916) Harry was posted to the 11th Battalion, The Queen's Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment (Lewisham) in the Field.
On 21st March 1917, Harry found himself in 25th General Hospital, Hartelot, suffering from "boils". We have to assume they represented a serious infection. On 16th May 1917 he arrived at the Infantry Brigade Depot at Etaples ready to return to the Front where he died at the age of 19 years.

The Ypres Salient had been relatively quiet until 1917, when in the Third Battle of Ypres an offensive was mounted by Commonwealth forces to divert German attention from a weakened French front further south. The initial attempt in June to dislodge the Germans from the Messines Ridge was a complete success.
The YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL now bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known.

East Kent Gazette  of 1st September 1917

"DODDINGTON LAD KILLED AT THE FRONT.- Another brave lad of the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles has given his life for his country. This is Private H. Philpott, attached to the Royal West Kent Regiment, who was wounded on the 7th June last, and while on the way to the dressing station was killed by a shell. Private Philpott was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs T.H. Philpott of Homestall Farm, Doddington, near Sittingbourne. He joined the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles in September, 1914, and previous to joining was in the employ of Major E. Faunce de Laune. Young Philpott, had he lived, would have been 20 years of age on the 14th August. His parents, who have only just received the sad news, have been the recipients of sympathetic letters, including one from the Major of his regiment. Private Philpott was a brother of Mr. R. Philpott, of Grove End Farm, Tunstall. The deceased yeoman was a bright intelligent young fellow, with hosts of friends, and much sympathy is felt for Mr. and Mrs. Philpott, senior and the other members of the family."

The following week, the newspaper published further (8th September 1917):- "PRIVATE H. PHILPOTT, R.E.K.M.R. – Only last week we recorded the death from wounds of a gallant young man of Doddington (Pte Leonard Charles Jarvis, Royal Dublin Fusiliers). We regret to hear this week of the death of another belonging to the same Parish, namely Private H. Philpot, of the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles (attached to the Royal West Kent Regiment), whose parents have only just recently had the sad tidings of his death though it occurred more than two months ago. Private Philpott was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. T.H Philpott, of Holmestall Farm, Doddington, and it appears that he was wounded on the 7th June last, and while on the way to a dressing station was killed by a shell. Deceased, who was in his 20th year, joined the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles in September, 1914, and previous to joining was in the employ of Major E. Faunce de Laune. The Major of his Regiment has sent a sympathetic letter to Mr. and Mrs. Philpott."

Making a correction, the E.K.G.: "DODDINGTON. THE LATE PTE. H PHILPOTT – In connection with our announcement in the last week's issue of the death, killed in action of Pte H. Philpott, their youngest son of Mr and Mrs Philpott, of Homestall Farm, Doddington, we are asked to state that the oldest son of the bereaved parents, Sergt W.H. Philpott, is serving in France with the Mechanical Transport, ASC, Sergt Philpott has been on the Western front for over two years."

Harry's personal effects amounted to £5 1s. 7d. plus his War Gratuity of £12 10s (approved on 20th November 1919) and made over to his mother, Jane Elizabeth Philpott. [See Appendix 2]

His medal record shows that Harry Philpott was posthumously awarded the British War and Victory Medals - this was approved on 29th September 1921. [See Appendix 1]

Military Experience of Harry Philpott

14th October 1916 marks Harry's arrival at the Front to join his comrades in the 11th Battalion, Queen's Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment (Lewisham) in France. According to the Battalion Diary:-

"12th October: DERNAN-COURT. RIBEMONT9 a.m., Battalion proceeded by rail from X.29.b. to MEAULTE Junction, and from there by route march to old bivouacs at E.15.a.
11 p.m.: Battalion proceeded by route march to billets at RIBEMONT.
13th October: Company reorganization and refitting.
Draft of 157 O.R. arrived from Base.
14th October: Company reorganisation and refitting. Strength:- Officers 30, Other Ranks 669."
"16th October: Company reorganisation and training. Draft of 70 O.R. arrived from Base. Transport moved by road to NEUVILLE." [O.O.57]

From NEUVILLE, the Battalion completed its 140km rail journey to RENINGHELST Billets from where the Battalion moved into trenches in the VOORMEZEELE SECTOR on 28th October to relieve the 11th Battalion, Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment. This places Harry 5km south of YPRES; 1.5km north-east of St.ELOI, where they also served in the trenches.

The 11th Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment spent the following months in this same sector, serving in the ST.ELOI trenches.

Over several days at the end of April 1917, the Battalion marched via STEENVOORDE, BROXEELE and finally to billets at ZOUAFQUES en route for RECQUES Training Area. Strength of Battalion:- Officers 43, Other Ranks 927

Extracts from the Battalion Diary

"29th AprilBattalion starts training for the Offensive.

1st May: ZOUAFQUES[Ref. Hazebrouck 5a, & Sheet 27 N.E.] Battalion in Training for the offensive. 2/Lt H.A.QUARTERMAIN joined the Battalion and taken on strength.
5th May: Strength of Battalion 44 Officer, 912 Other Ranks.
12th May: Strength of Battalion 44 Officers, 899 Other Ranks.
15th May: BROXEELE[Ref: Hazebrouck S.A.] Battalion began march back to 41st Division Area billeting for the night at BROXEELE and ROUBROUCK, vide O.O. No.64.
16th May: STEENVOORDE: Battalion continued march to Divisional Area billeting for the night at BROXEELE and ROUBROUCK, vide O/O.No.64.
17th May[Ref: M.5.a. Sheet 28] Battalion completed its march to the 41st Divisional Area. Vide O.O.No.66, and took over Alberta Camp from the 21st Battalion K.R.R.C. Strength of Battalion 44 Officers, 885 Other Ranks.
20th May: DICKEBUSCH[H.28. Sheet 28] The Battalion took over billets from the 23rd Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment in Brigade Reserve, near DICKEBUSCH LAKE. Vide O.O.No.67.2/Lieut. C.P. WEBB joined the Battalion for duty. Strength of Battalion 45 Officers, 939 Other Ranks.
31st May: ST.ELOI[Sheet 28.S.W. O.2.] The Battalion was relieved in Brigade Reserve by the 18th K.R.R.C., and relieved 23rd Battalion The Middlesex Regiment in the Right Sub-Sector of the Divisional Front. Vide O.O.No.68.
Casualties from 20th-31st May - Officers, Wounded 1; Other Ranks, Killed 5, Wounded 24.
Strength of Battalion 44 Officers, 915 Other Ranks.

1st June: ST. ELOI: Strength of Battalion 43 Officers, 920 Other Ranks.
1st to 5th June: Battalion in trenches in front of ST. ELOI. Preliminary bombardment for Offensive, little retaliation on our trenches.
5th June: MICMAC NORTH: Battalion relieved by 124th Infantry Brigade and proceeded by route march to MICMAC (North) CAMP, vide O.O.70.
Casualties for period June 1-5th, 1 O.R. killed, 15 O.R. wounded.
6th June: ST. ELOI: Battalion moved up to ASSEMBLY AREA for attack into OLD FRENCH TRENCH, vide O.O.71.
7th June: Battalion took part in successful attack on the WYTSCHAETE-MESSINES Ridge, vide O.O.69, also copy of report on attack attached.
8th June: Battalion was relieved by 73rd Infantry Brigade at 5a.m., vide report on operations attached, and proceeded to OLD FRENCH TRENCH in reserve.
9th June: Battalion in OLD FRENCH TRENCH.
10th June: Battalion in reserve in OLD FRENCH TRENCH. 2/Lieut L.E.HALE joined for duty as Transport Officer, and taken on strength.

Circumstances of the death of Harry Philpott

Harry Philpott died during a planned attack from St Eloi. on the WYTSCHAETE-MESSINES Ridge. We have transcribed the whole Report to describe the circumstances of Harry's death. We cannot be sure if Harry died from machine-gun enfilading or otherwise during the attack on German trenches.

Ref: WYTSCHAETE 28.S.W.2. 1/10,000 & 41st Division Map

ASSEMBLY. The Battalion was in position in the ASSEMBLY AREA, OLD FRENCH TRENCH, at 1 a.m. 7th instant.
ORDER OF BATTLE. The Battalion in 2 waves with Companies on a two platoon front. Order of Companies from Right to Left, A, B, C, D.
ZERO. 3.10 a.m. First phase of attack started.
ADVANCED ASSEMBLY POSITION. At 5.10 a.m. the Battalion moved forward in Artillery Formation to advanced position of assembly behind the DAMMSTRASSE.
The Battalion was in position in 2 waves at 5.40 a.m. having passed through very slight enemy barrage with very few casualties.
ASSEMBLY UNDER BARRAGE. At 6.30 a.m. the waves moved forward over the DAMMSTRASSE under our own barrage preparatory to the attack. The Battalion had to extend slightly to the left on the front of the 140th Infantry Brigade so as to keep in touch with them. A hostile machine gun on our left flank enfiladed our two waves inflicting several casualties. A TANK moved forward and put the machine gun out of action. Battalion H.Q. were established at O.10.a.6.6.
ATTACK. At 6.50 a.m. the barrage lifted and waves moved forward. Practically no enemy barrage.
A hostile machine gun at N.E. corner of PHEASANT WOOD held up the advance for a short time.
A party under Captain R. Maltby, and 2.Lieut. J.H. Greenwood rushed forward and captured the gun killing three of the team.
The Battalion then pushed forward to OBLONG TRENCH which was captured at 7.5 a.m. after slight opposition by enemy.
The second wave reinforced the first wave and the whole line pushed forward to OBLONG RESERVE.
In this trench there were 40 to 50 of the enemy who showed some fight until our line got close up to them when some of them ran back, and the remainder gave themselves up.
The BLACK LINE was captured at 7.30 a.m.
At this point the barrage was falling very short and we had several casualties from our own shells.
The line, however, pushed forward as far as the road leading from DELBSKE FARM to ENGLEBRIER FARM.
Several dug-outs were cleared on this road.
As we were having several casualties from our own barrage, which had not lifted far enough forward the line had to fall back about 20 yards this side of OBLONG RESERVE.
At this point the Battalion dug in and consolidated their position.
At 3.10 p.m. troops of the 24th Division passed through us.
The Battalion was relieved at 5 a.m. on the 8th instant by a Company of the 73rd Infantry Brigade.
[Signed: Lieut. Colonel, Commanding 11th Battalion "The Queen's Own" (Royal West Kent) Regiment (Lewisham).
Dated 11/6/17

Map for Attack on the Messines Ridge involving 41st Division

map of Brigade Disposition of 41st Division on 7th June 1917


The intent behind the attack of 7th June 1917 is contained in Operational Order 69.

Operation Order No.69, by Lieut. Col. A.C. Corfe, Commanding 11th Battalion "THE QUEENS OWN" (Royal West Kent) Regiment (Lewisham).
4th June 1917
Ref. Map 1/10,000. WYTSCHAETE and Map E.

1. The 41st Division in conjunction with 19th Division on its Right, and 47th Division on its Left is to attack the enemy's position on ZERO Day
2. The Objectives of the 41st Division are shown on Map E.

1st Objective RED LINE
2nd Objective BLUE LINE
3rd Objective BLACK LINE

3. The first two Objectives will be taken by the 124th Infantry Brigade on the Right, and the 123 Infantry Brigade on the Left.
The 140th Infantry Brigade will be on the Left of the 123rd Infantry Brigade.
4. The 122nd Infantry Brigade in conjunction with 3 Battalions of the 124th Infantry Brigade on the Right, and 2 Battalions 140th Infantry Brigade on the Left, will capture the BLACK LINE from Southern Corner of DENYS WOOD, O.15.b.3.9. to junction of OBLONG SUPPORT with trench in continuation of Sunken Road, O.10.a.8½.3½.5.
5. The attack will be carried out by

12th East Surrey Regiment on the Right
15th Hampshire Regiment in the Centre
11th Royal West Kent Regiment on the Left

6. Two Sections Machine Gun Company will co-operate with Assaulting Infantry in Attack on the BLACK LINE.
7. One Light Trench Mortar with 60 rounds will accompany each of the Assaulting Battalions.
8 The Battalion frontage will be divided equally between Companies. Order of Companies from Right to Left – A,B,C,D.
9. Time Table and Plan of Attack:-

ZERO minus 2 hours All Units will be in their assembly areas as shown on Map E.
ZERO plus 2 hours Assaulting Battalions will advance from their Assembly Areas in Artillery formation. As soon as they are clear of OLD FRENCH TRENCH, 2 Sections of 122nd Machine Gun Company will move Eastward along line of OLD FRENCH TRENCH until in rear of Assaulting Battalions, and then will advance behind them.
ZERO plus 3 hours 12th Surrey Regiment, 15th Hants, and 11th R.W.Kent Regiment will each be formed up in two waves behind the DAMMSTRASSE as shown on Map E., the Right Flank of the 12th East Surrey Regiment resting on OASIS ROW and the Left of the 11th R.W.Kent Regiment on OAR LANE.
ZERO plus 3 hours and 20 minutes Waves will move forward over the DAMMSTRASSE to get formed up close under the barrage, which will be beyond the DAMMSTRASSE.
ZERO plus 3 hours and 40 minutes The Creeping Barrage will move forward and the Assaulting Troops with it for the attack on the BLACK LINE.
The Leap Frog method will be employed for the attack. Each Battalion will be in two waves, with Companies on a two platoon frontage. Companies will detail their own "Moppers Up", the first wave being responsible for "Mopping Up" forward, after the second wave has passed through it.
ZERO plus 4 hours and 15 minutes Capture of BLACK LINE
ZERO plus 5 hours and 30 minutes 47th Division are going to attack DELBSKE FARM. 11th R.W.Kent Regiment will capture and hold ride running from this farm through RAVINE WOOD. RIDE runs about 100 yards in front of and parallel to OBLONG RESERVE.

10. After capture of BLACK LINE a front line will be organised in its vicinity.
The 122nd Infantry Brigade will hold their portion as a Divisional FRONT LINE; LEFT SECTOR.
11. Communication Trenches will be dug back from OBOE TRENCH to OAR ALLEY.
Officer Commanding "B" Company will detail party for this.
12. The Vickers Machine Gun defence of the line will be co-ordinated by O.C. 122nd Machine Gun Company with 4 guns on a general line along forward edge of PHEASANT WOOD to O.10.a.3½.7¾. A number of guns of the 123rd Infantry Brigade will also be in a position to cover the front.
One Sub-section will be detailed to front held by 11th R.W.Kent Regt. One gun of this Section will be allotted to STRONG POINT at O.10.a.2.4.
The attack on the BLACK LINE will be covered by a Machine Gun barrage.
13. The Light Trench Mortar with the Battalion will assist during the attack should a strong point hold it up, and will subsequently take up positions covering line gained.
14. The barrage in support of the attack will consist of a creeping barrage of 18 pounders, preceding the Infantry in lifts of 25 yards per minute, and a standing barrage on definite trenches and defensive systems, of 18 pounders, and all natures of Howitzers.
15. The Artillery barrage after lifting off the BLACK LINE will creep forward to a line 300 yards in advance of the BLACK LINE in order to admit of patrols moving out.
16. At ZERO plus 5 hours & 30 minutes, when 11th R.W.Kent Regiment secure line Ride running from DELBSKE FARM through RAVINE WOOD, the barrage will lift back a further 100 yards on this front.
17. Strong patrols will be pushed forward to clear the ground towards ODYSSEY and OLIVE TRENCHES, as the attack will be continued at ZERO plus 10 hours by troops of the 24th Division against these trenches.
18. Two Sections of TANKS will accompany the advance.
19. A MINE will be exploded at ZERO under Nos. 2 and 3 CRATERS.
20. Gas and Smoke Barrages will be employed according to suitability of the wind.
21. A Contact Patrol will be up from ZERO (if light enough) till 6 hours after ZERO.
Leading Infantry will light Flares approximately at the following times:-

ZERO plus 4 hours, 30 minutes
ZERO plus 5 hours, 30 minutes.

Infantry must however, ensure that the aeroplane is calling for Flares before lighting up.
22. A Wireless Aeroplane, which will be up throughout the day, will warn the Infantry of impending counter-attacks by means of Flares.
A RED Flare will signify that attack is NORTH of the Canal.
A GREEN Flare – South of the Canal.
This machine will also transmit Infantry messages calling for barrage.
23. Brigade Report Centre at BOLLART BEEK Dug-outs, I.31.d.3.6. Battalion Report Centre.
24. Personnel for the attack will be as laid down in S.S.135, as far as possible.
25. Carrying Party. A Carrying Party of 15 Other Ranks will be told off to report to the Trench Mortar Battery at a time to be notified later. Companies will provide men as under:-

"A" Company 4 men
"B" Company 2 men
"C" Company 5 men
"D" Company 4 men.

26. General direction of attack is 157 degrees true bearing.
27. O.C. "B" Company will tell off a small garrison to hold Strong Point O.10.a.2.5. – At Trench Junction.
28. The situation will be reported to Battalion Headquarters as frequently as circumstances permit.
(signed) A.C. Corfe, Lieut. Col., Commanding 11th Battalion "THE QUEEN'S OWN" (Royal West Kent) Regiment (Lewisham).

Family of Harry Philpott

Draft Family tree for the family of Harry Philpott of Doddington

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