Two who returned
Two accounts of men who survived the Great War
In his War Diary for Oct 2nd, 1918. Col H.P.Westmorland, commander of 2/B Hampshire Regt, wrote, in pencil:
“Two platoons of X company, under the personal command of Lieutenant G.H.Brown, worked down the banks of the Reutelbeek and succeeded in reaching the Cemetery on the east side of the village. Here they were held up after sustaining heavy casualties until two machine guns that were holding them up on the right, were rushed, with great gallantry, by two men of the leading platoon, resulting in the surrender of 27 of the enemy..”
Private E. Bone and his platoon commander had played a vital part in unblocking fierce German resistance to the Allied advance near Ypres. They helped relieve two days of British losses when they charged two machine gun posts, taking 27 prisoners. The two men were promoted, Lieutenant Brown to Acting Captain and Private Bone to Lance Corporal.
Edward Bone came to East Meon after the War, to work at Leydene House. With his wife Alice, he came to live first in Coombe Bottom and then at Hambledon Lodge at Leydene. When Leydene was requisitioned in World War II as HMS Mercury, Edward worked as a lorry driver and Alice in the NAAFI.
George Wilson Atkinson was the son of George Atkinson who, with his brother Joseph, had migrated from Cumberland to become tenants of South Farm in 1906. George W lied about his age to sign up for the Hampshire Regiment, joining the15th battalion, along with other East Meon recruits. He was taken prisoner in March 1918 during the German Offensive at St Quentin, fought on the same ground as the original Battle of the Somme; he was posted as missing.
By coincidence, Albert Smith, the village thatcher who lived at Frogmore, was taken prisoner in May 1918 and met George Wilson at a reception camp. In a letter home to he mentioned that they had met – and this was the first indication the Atkinsons received that their son was alive.
When he finally returned home, after the War. GW arrived at Petersfield Station in the middle of the night and walked home to South Farm, arriving unannounced at around 4.30am, to the joy of the family and of the herdsmen, Arthur Dowlen and his two sons, who were milking at that hour.
Research into Edward Bone was initiated by his grand-daughter, Denise Moody, who lives in Dunedin, New Zealand; she contacted the History Group for help in tracing her ancestor – which David Hopkins has provided. George Atkinson and Denys Ryder supplied the information about George’s namesake and forebear.