Private 8834 Frederick Banner, DCM

 Banner Frederick 96 362x600

Killed in Action on Saturday, 26th August 1916, age 24.
Commemorated on Pier and Face 5 A and 6 C of Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

3rd Bn., Worcestershire Regiment. 7th Brigade of 25th Division.

Son of Mrs Banner, of 3 Harrold Street, Toll End, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Birmingham, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 29th November 1914.
Medal entitlement: Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/769306/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
30 New Road, Great Bridge, Tipton
John Banner (47, Slag Breaker, born Tipton), his wife Ellen (43, born Tipton), and their 4 children: William (16, Boatman - Horse Driver, born Tipton), Joseph (12, born Tipton), Frederick (9, born Tipton), and James (2, born Tipton).

1911 Census
33 Midland Terrace, Great Bridge, Tipton
John Banner (57,Canal Dredger, born Tipton), his wife Ellen (55, born Bilston), and 4 of their 7 surviving children of 10: William (26, Canal Boatman, born Tipton), Joseph (21, Canal Boatman, born Tipton), Frederick (19, Glass Worker, born Tipton), and James (13, Blower's helper, born Tipton).

Personal Data

Frederick Banner wins the D.C.M.
The 3rd Worcesters had been in reserve at Varennes for the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, 1st July 1916. On the 2nd July, they moved to Aveluy Wood and on the 4th July across the River Ancre to reserve trenches at Authuille. To the north and up-hill was the German front line of the Leipzig Salient and its inner defences, the Leipzig Redoubt. The month of July and August 1916 in the Leipzig Salient were to be the defining moments of Frederick Banner's life.

The front line of the Leipzig Salient had been taken on the 3rd July, but further progress has stalled at the Leipzig Redoubt. The 1st Wilts were in advance of the 3rd Worcesters and had lost heavily, so on 5th July three Companies of the 3rd Worcesters were sent forward to add their support. The 6th and 7th July saw the Wilts and Worcesters fighting side by side in the Leipzig Salient in atrocious conditions and often under heavy shellfire.

A Staff Officer, 'ACJ' - who may have been Lt. Col. A.C. Johnston of the 10th Cheshires who took over from the 3rd Worcesters of the night of 7th July - wrote "The men however were behaving simply magnificently. In all previous fights I've been in there have always been a certain number of men going back on some excuse or other, but to-day there was no one, every man was holding on, though there was hardly any trench left to hold on to, and all were ready to meet any attack the Bosche should feel disposed to try. One saw magnificent work being done by the regimental stretcher-bearers going backwards and forwards over the open or across gaps, binding up wounded and bringing them in...... and a stretcher-bearer of the Worcestershire named Banner must have earned the V.C. several times over." According to a subsequent letter from Lt. Col. Gibbs, Frederick Banner was recommended for the Victoria Cross, but was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for his bravery on that day.

Supplement to the London Gazette, Issue 29760, 22 September 1916.
"8834 Pte. F. Banner, Worcs. R., Spec Res. For conspicuous bravery and devotion in going over the parapet under intense rifle and artillery fire, and carrying in many wounded men of his own regiment and any others he could find. He did this on many occasions, and his courage and total disregard of personal danger contributed to save many lives."

After Frederick's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to the significant sum of £28/10/11d (28 pounds,10 shillings and 11 pence); this was paid to his mother and Sole Legatee, Ellen, in December 1917. His War Gratuity was £8/10/0d (8 pounds and 10 shillings), this was also paid to his mother in October 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Frederick had enlisted in approximately August 1914.

Action resulting in his death

Frederick Banner returns to the Leipzig Salient.
The 3rd Worcesters returned to the Leipzig Salient on 21st August when they provided fire support to a 1st Wiltshires attack; the main action of the Worcesters came between the 24th and 26th August.

On the 24th the 3rd Worcesters and the 1st Wiltshires attacked the strong German position known as "Lemberg Trench", this was taken and held in spite of German counter-attacks and artillery fire especially on the 24th. On the next day, the 25th, at 5.30pm a German bombardment fell on the British line, and the Germans were seen massing for a counter-attack. A British bombardment found their position and destroyed the attacking force - the 5th Grenadier Regiment of the Prussian Guard. No German counter-attack was subsequently made, and the fighting eased. The 3rd Worcesters were relieved on the evening of 26th August after 6 days in the line, with a total of 1 Officer and 51 Other Ranks killed.

Official sources say that Frederick Banner was killed on the 26th August, a letter from Lt. Col. Gibbs to Banner's mother says the 25th. The description in Lt. Col. Gibbs' letter does correspond with the actions of the 25th. Despite the fighting having eased from the evening of the 25th August, the work of the stretcher-bearers would have been just as strenuous as there were wounded were still to be rescued.

Stretcher-bearers were amongst the bravest of the brave, and Banner's actions at the Leipzig Salient in July and his death there in August 1916 illustrate that point. Frederick Banner has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 5th December 1914
The list of Ocker Hill men serving included Frederick & Joseph Banner.

Tipton Herald 9th September 1916 - including photograph
Mr Fred Pearson of the Turf Tavern, Toll End, Tipton, recently received an interesting letter from Pte. F. Banner (of the 3rd Worcesters) and was subsequently about to reply on behalf of this family and customers, when Pte. Banner's mother who resides at 3 Harold Street, Toll End, Tipton, received the sad news of her son's death.
The deceased soldier was 24 years of age and was highly respected, both at home and in the regiment in which he served. Much sympathy is felt with Mrs Banner and family in their irreparable loss. The brave young soldier had two brothers in the South Staffords, one being seriously wounded and just discharged from Corbett Hospital, and the other one is still in France. On Sunday morning last his mother received the following letter from Lieut.-Col. Gibbs:-
"Dear Mrs Banner,
I very much regret to have to tell you that your son, Pte. F. Banner, was killed on August 25th, when bringing in a wounded man from the firing line. Your son was the bravest man I have known, and we have many brave men in the Worcestershire Regiment. He was recommended for the Victoria Cross a short time ago, but was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, a very high honour. I sympathise with you in your great loss, and the whole regiment, officers and men, deeply mourn the loss of a very gallant comrade.
The regiment had captured a very strong position, and were being counter attacked on the day your son was killed, many wounded men being up in the front trench. Your son gallantly went to help them back when he was shot and killed on the spot, so that he probably suffered no pain.
Yours etc .
M. GIBBS, Lieutenant-Colonel.
O.C. Worcesters.

Tipton Herald 30th March 1918
Some time ago we published in these columns, an account of the death of Pte. F. Banner, of the 3rd Worcesters, which occurred on August 25th 1916, while bringing to our lines a wounded comrade. The hero's mother visited the Rugeley Camp, and was presented with her son's medal. (Editor: this would have been the DCM.)
We may state that another son, Private John Banner, who before joining the colours was engaged by Mr Elliment, of Gospel Oak, has made the supreme sacrifice. He leaves a widow and five children.
A son named Joseph has returned home gassed, and the youngest son, Jim, is still with the colours. The mother who is a widow, residing at Harrold Street, Toll End, wishes to express her thanks to the Officers of the Rugeley Camp for their hospitality.

Tipton Herald 31st August 1918
In Memoriam
In loving memory of my dear brothers, Private Fred Banner, 3rd Worcestershire Regiment, killed in action in France on August 25th 1916 (he died to save his comrade), and his brother Private John Banner, 8th South Staffs Regiment, killed July 28th 1917. Ever remebered by their sister, Mrs Stevens; Lizzie in Canada; his mother and brothers (Jim in France). "They answered their country's call. Sleep, peaceful sleep."