Daniel Pearce James Amsbury
Memorial: Downend - Christ Church
Regiment: Grenadier Guards
Rank and number: Private 27601
Parents: Robert Pearce James and Harriet Amsbury (nee James)
Marital status: Married
Home address: Victoria Cottage, Semington Road, Melksham, Wiltshire
Pre-war occupation: Unknown
Date of birth: 1889
Place of birth: Pleasant Road, Staple Hill, Bristol
Date of death: 01/12/1917
Buried/Commemorated at: Bailleul Road East Cemetery (IV. G. 7.), St. Laurent-Blangy, Pas de Calais, France and Commemorated on the Christ Church Downend and Staple Hill (Page Park) Memorials
Daniel Pearce James Amsbury was baptised on 29th May 1887 at Christ Church, Downend. He married Hebe Frances Pottow in 1914 and had a daughter Eunice Hebe Amsbury, born 1915.
Daniel served in 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards in the 1st Guards Brigade, Guards Division, and from his service number it indicates he enlisted on 3rd December 1916. After the initial assault by the Allies in the Battle of Cambrai, when 381 tanks were used en masse for the first time, the Germans counter attacked and overwhelmed the village of Gouzeaucourt on 30th November 1917. It was recaptured on the same day by 1st Guards Brigade consisting of 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards and 2nd and 3rd Battalions Coldstream Guards. 1st Guards Brigade, commanded by Brigadier General Claude Champion de Crespigny, was next ordered to recapture the Quentin Ridge, which included Gauche Wood. 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel G E Rasch DSO, was to be the right assault battalion of the brigade with the dismounted 18th Bengal Lancers on its right.
Rasch was directed to take Gauche Wood at dawn on Saturday 1st December. The objective was the eastern end of the wood, which measured approximately 700 by 300 yards with tall trees and undergrowth. It commanded the whole area including the village of Villers Guislain. The German strength in the wood was thought to be about a company. Orders were issued for 1 and 3 Companies to lead the attack with 2 and 4 Companies in support. Rasch went forward with the company commanders to reconnoitre a sunken road about 1200 yards from the objective, from where the assault would be launched. The battalion marched off at 4.30am after breakfast and all companies were in position by 6.00am. A dozen tanks were to precede the attack by 400 yards and provide support, but their arrival was delayed.
The 2nd Battalion attacked Gauche Wood, near Villers-Guislain, just after 6.30 a.m. on the 1st December, 1917. The wood was defended by machine guns and the Grenadiers had to make a dash uphill over 1200 yards to the edge of the wood. Amazingly, they did not sustain too many casualties until nearly in the wood and then hand to hand bayonet fighting took place. The attack was successful but casualties were 153 killed, including Private Daniel Amsbury, plus wounded or missing.
After the war Daniel Pearce's widow Hebe remarried when she wed Bert Crook in Melksham during 1928.
Commemorated on the Christ Church Downend and Staple Hill (Page Park) Memorials.
By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):
Forces War Records, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Soldiers Died In The Great War, Find A Grave index, England Select Births and Christenings, Free BMD, Medal Rolls Index Card, Select Church of England Parish Registers, UK Censuses, David Blackmore – Mangotsfield Residents Association