Private 201827 John Hand

Hand John 96 443x600

Killed in Action on Monday, 1st April 1918, age 19.
Buried in Grave III. E. 19. "Buried near this spot" at Pargny British Cemetery, Somme, France.

1st Bn., Worcestershire Regiment. 24th Brigade of 8th Division.

Son of Mrs C. J. Lavender, of 50, Wellington Rd., Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Brierley Hill, Enlisted: Dudley, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: 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/307452/

Genealogical Data

Birth of John Hand registered March quarter 1899 in Stourbridge.

1901 Census
20 South Street, Brierley Hill, Staffs.
Ann Hand (68, House Keeper, born Monmouthshire, Wales), her daughter Clara Hand (27, Domestic, born Brierley Hill), and Clara's son John Hand (2, born Brierley Hill).

Marriage of James Lavender and Clara Jane Hand registered September quarter 1903 in Dudley.

1911 Census
5 Victoria Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Thomas Hand (40, Glass Bottle Maker, born Brierley Hill), his sister Clara Jane Lavender (36, Married, born Brierley Hill), and Clara's 2 children: John Hand (12, born Brierley Hill), and Phoebe Ann Lavender (5, born Stourbridge).

Personal Data

After John's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £1/10/4d (1 pound, 10 shillings and 4 pence); this was paid to his mother, Clara Jane Lavender, in October 1919. His War Gratuity was £15/0/0d (15 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in October 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that John had enlisted in approximately January 1915.

Action resulting in his death

As the German Spring Offensive began on March 21st, the 1st Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment (1/Worcs) were in training near St. Omer. They were immediately ordered to the southern sector of the Somme front, and arrived by train at Nesle at 2.30am on the 23rd March.

They took up defensive positions along the River Somme near Brie, and other units passed through in a general retreat. The 1/Worcs covered their retreat, blew the bridges, and when that did not stop the German advance carried out a counter-attack at Pargny in which the Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Roberts won the Victoria Cross.

The 1/Worcs had no alternative other than to join the fighting retreat, making a notable stand at the Battle of Rosieres on 27th March. Their first rest in 6 days was 24-hours over the 28th and 29th March where the exhausted troops did little but sleep. The next day was spent in reserve at Sencat Wood, and later at Moreuil Wood.

Next morning (March 31st) a strong German attack broke through the troops north of Moreuil Wood and captured Hill 110 together with the small wood on that hillock's western face.

The 1/Worcs formed a defensive flank from the wood to the river and held that line until a counter-attack late in the afternoon by the 2nd Royal Berkshire retook the wood and the hill. Throughout the 1st of April the position stayed unchanged, and that night the 1/Worcs were relieved by French troops.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that John Hand died on the 1st April, and that he was originally buried near Pargny, before being re-buried in Pargny British Cemetery in 1921. He was buried by the Germans in a grave with a cross marked “Hier Ruhen 11 Englanders” – “Here lie 11 English”, so he was either a prisoner, or found and buried by them – probably the latter.

Pargny had been the scene of Lt. Col. Roberts’ Victoria Cross action on 23rd March, so it is more likely that John Hand was killed on that date. By the 1st April, the 1/Worcs were 20 miles west of Pargny, in Moreuil Wood. This is made more plausible as his entry in Soldier's Effects say "Death Presumed between 23-3 and 1-4-1918".

Newspaper Cuttings

Birmingham Daily Post 25th May 1918
WORCESTERSHIRE REGIMENT- Hand, 201827, J., (Tipton).