On 30th June 2017 Tony Goddard gave a very interesting talk to the Wincanton Museum and History Society in the Memorial Hall, entitled Wincanton Soldiers at Passchendaele.
Mr Goddard based his talk around two local families, still connected with Wincanton. The Hamblin family of Penn View, and the Deane Family. (The Deanes being related to Mr. Sampson, another local person). Although he did mention that other Wincanton people were also involved in WW1, and also died as a result of the War.
In relation to Passchendaele, Mr. Goddard said that the Germans took the high ground (and thus had a distinct advantage over the British etc., on the low ground) and this resulted 120,000 plus lost lives in the battle for Arras. Putting perspective on the battle and numbers involved.
William Deane volunteered in 1915 at the age of 17 years – giving his age as 19. It often happened that volunteers gave an incorrect age, and many went to war at a young age. He joined Kitchener’s untrained Army – most had never fired a rifle, and at Roeux in a wooded area, 130 Somerset men died in one event, including William Deane. This was May 1917, and William Deane was not quite 19 years old.
Able Seaman Harry Hamblin, RNVR, was born in 1897. and killed in action at the age of 20. With a surplus of Reserves at that time, Harry was drafted to the British Expeditionary Forces in November 1916, and on to the front line. He died there on 25 August 1917,
Mr Goddard went on to discribe the 80lbs of weight each British person had to carry, the dreadful mud that year, and that 65,000 people have no known grave. He also had a very interesting display of items from that time, including a shovel, shrapnel, bullet heads, and a 1914 Princess Mary Box give to all participants that Christmas.
A lively Q and A session followed, and are grateful thanks were given to Mr. Goddard for his comprehensive talk.