MAYES, Reginald

No. 16457, Private, Reginald MAYES
Aged 27

Norfolk Regiment, 9th Battalion
Killed in Action on Friday, 15th September 1916

Reginald MAYES was born in Wilton (Thetford Q3-1889 4B:374) the son of John and Alice MAYES (née WILLETT).

1891 census... Aged 1,Reginald was at Church Lane, Hockwold cum Wilton with his father John [26] an agricultural labourer, born Wilton; his mother Alice [23] born Methwold; sister Rose [5]and brother George H [3] both born in Wilton.

1901 census... Aged 11 he was at yard boy of cattle, living at The Lode, Hockwold cum Wilton with his parents, brother George, sisters Maud [9], Bertha [8], Annie [5]and Florence E [4] and brother Arthur [5 months]. All the children were born in Wilton.

1911 census... Aged 21, (no occupation recorded) he was living in Wilton with his parents, father now being a gamekeeper; sister Florence;brother Arthur; sister Dorothy [8]; brother Ernest [6]; niece Maud [2] and brother Frederick Norman [9 months]. No place of birth is given for any of the children. 13 children were born to the marriage but three had died by 1911.

It was reported that on the 15th September, :- 9th Norfolks ,a tank pasing thro' them in the Flers-Courcelette Battle fired upon them until corrected. Later on that same day the 9th Norfolks advanced against Straight Trench and were met with heavy machine gun fire..
Lyn MacDonald in her book “Somme” wrote the following on the first tank action and how it impacted the 9th Norfolk’s.
“They had planned to send three tanks into subdue the Quadrilateral 20 minutes before the troops went over at zero hour. One tank broke its tail on the way up. Another developed engine trouble. The third appeared but, unlike the solitary tank which so dramatically subdued the Germans resistance at Delville Wood, it made a tragic error. Lurching along beside what its crew took to be a Germans’ frontline trench they sprayed it with machine gun fire. The trench was packed with soldiers. The kill was enormous. But it was a British assembly trench and the soldiers were men of the 9th Norfolk’s waiting to go over the top. It was Captain Crosse who put a stop to that. He leapt out of the trench and rushed up to the tank whose guns were still blazing. It was difficult to make himself heard above it pandemonium, but furious gesticulation was enough. The tank swung away and was last seen turning to the north, moving parallel to Straight Trench. Straight Trench was the German front line running between the triangle and the Quadrilateral."

The battalion war diary for the day states:
“ Arriving trenches 1am. Took up line on the road running from Ginchy to Leuze Wood. This was our front line, the Suffolk’s were occupying it. Attack launched from this point at 7.30am, objective being the quadrilateral advancing WE. 3 tanks co-operated. Held up by wire which was uncut.
Casualties on this day alone 4 Off killed, 13 Off wounded, 1 Off missing, 431 O/R’s".

159 other ranks were killed from the 9th Norfolks that day, 2 are buried in Guards Cemetery, 4 in Serre Road No 2 Cemetery and 29 in Guillemont Road Cemetery. The rest were never identified and are named on the Thiepval Memorial.

Reginald was found in the area marked above and re-interred in Guillemont Road cemetery in 1919.

postcard of Guillemont Road Cemetery shortly after the war

this used to be Guillemont village

photo: Vise Paris

photo: Rodney Gibson

Reginald Mayes is buried in Guillemont Road Cemetery, France grave 5:A:1

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details