Frederick Flatman was my Great Uncle. He was reported missing in action on October 7th 1916 and has no know grave. Just a mile or two east of High Wood, is MartinPuilch. It was probably a German headquarters until it was captured on the morning of the 15th September 1916 by the Scottish Division supported by one tank. Here is the Gateway Memorial to the 47th Londoners and beyond it the villagers own War Memorial. The Gateway was put up at the same time as the memorial at High Wood.
Only one or two miles further on is the quiet farm of L’Abbé d’Eaucourt. My grandfather David Sharman Flatman wrote:-
On, or about September 25th, the 47th advanced and took their position. A pause in the operation then followed and between then and October 5th drafts were brought up. Fred’s hospital draft was amongst these. It was now that Fred wrote his last letter, dated October, in which he referred to how badly the Batallion had suffered in a recent attack. On October 5th the Brigade of which the 15th London were a part advanced, took Eaucourt L’Abbé (sic) and about 500 yards beyond. Their objective was a German trench supposed to be here, but which proved non-existent.
The ? of the line was the 15th Londons – 7th and 8th Londons with the Anzacs on the extreme right.
At a distance of about 500 yards beyond Eaucourt L’Abbé the line was held up by the enemy machine guns and suffered heavily owing to there being no trench. The position of the 15th Londons was held but those of the 7th and 8th Londons could not be maintained owing to a windmill machine gun emplacement.
The position of the 15th Londons and the Anzacs became precarious and “enemy counter-attack” was signalled by our aircraft. The 21st and 22nd were then sent over with a view to closing the gap and stop the counter-attack – in this they failed to occupy the gap. The London Territorials were relieved that night by a Scottish Division.
It therefore followed that the roll calls were not made here until October 7th – missing men noted.
His writing stops here. Perhaps it was too much for him to actually write down that one of the missing men, one of the many who became unknown soldiers – was his little brother Fred.
The Warlencourt British Cemetery is actually slightly further east on the German side of the front-line at the time when Fred was killed. Many unknown Londoners from that conflict were eventually buried here, and it is the nearest graveyard to the place he died. It was created in 1919 and contains 3450 graves and more than half of the bodies could not be identified. There are lots of late 1916 graves and many are of soldiers who fought in that area of the battlefield we have followed back to Martinpuilch, High Wood and Flers.
This is where we chose one unknown Londoners grave and made it Uncle Fred’s. We lit a candle and said a prayer
“Rest eternal grant unto him O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him.
May he rest in peace, and may his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”