G/11236, Private, Victor Herbert HUMAN
Aged 24

13th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment
Killed in Action on Wednesday 1st August 1917

Born in Isleham, Cambs in Q3-1892 [Newmarket 3b:532] 5th of 7 sons of John Fleet and Alice Martha HUMAN (nee WELLS), of West Street, Isleham.

1901 census...Victor [8] was at West Street, Isleham with his father John [42], a wheelwright; his mother Alice [41]; sisters Florrie[13]; Ethel [3] and his brothers Sidney C [13]; Harlock [10]; William [6] and Bertie [1]. The entire family were Isleham born, including brothers Ernest and Arthur who had left home.

1911 census...Victor [18] was a farm labourer, still living at West Street, Isleham with his parents; brothers Harlock,(shepherd); William (farm labourer), Bertie and Reggie [8] born Isleham, also sister Ethel May. One child had died (believed to be Sidney, aged 15, in 1903).

The family later moved to 2 Field Terrace Road, Newmarket.

His elder brother Harlock enlisted in the Suffolk Regiment on 31st August 1914 but was invalided out with a diseased heart on 15th May 1915, awarded a silver War Badge. From Harlock's army records it appears the family lived for a while in Barrow, near Bury St Edmunds

His entry in "Our Exning Heroes" reads:
"Born at Isleham, in Cambridgeshire, in 1894. Educated at Isleham School, and after working for a short time locally on a farm, he went up to London in a good appointment. When war broke out he returned to Newmarket, and was with his parents until he joined up in the Machine Gun Corps. He was in England about ten weeks training, went out to France, and was killed in August, 1917
His Officer writes to his mother of him: " He was one of the most efficient members of the Platoon, and a most able soldier. He was highly respected by the other fellows, and his death was looked on as a great loss, and I feel I have lost one of my best men."

Victor enlisted in Bury St. Edmunds. It is not known when he transferred from the Machine Gun Corps to the 13th Sussex. That battalion crossed to France via Southampton on 5th/6th March 1916, landing at Havre. He lost his life during the 3rd Ypres, at the Battle for Pilckem Ridge, which is between Ypres and Langemarck. Following a huge allied bombardment from the 16th to 31st July (with over 4 million shells) the battle began. The attack would make use of the new (and relatively un-tested Fifth Army). The orders to advance were given and the attack moved off at 3:50am on the 31st July 1917 in heavy rain. The rain was to play a major role in the campaign, as what lay ahead was the wettest Aug to Nov period on record). The first day saw most objectives taken, however at a cost, with 15,000 casualties, rising to 31,850 by the 2nd Aug (with 12 VC's being won), all for a penetration of about 2-3kms. Thanks to the heavy shelling and the rain, the ground conditions were appalling, men and mules sometimes simply disappearing in the mud
The Royal Sussex had done well the previous day, taking most of St Julien, but at the cost of 120 lives from the 3 battalions (49 from Victor's battalion). Strangely, only nine of those 49 have no known graves. Victor's battalion had 12 killed on the 1st August and his is one of only four identified graves.

© Roy Beardsworth

Victor is buried in Buffs Road Cemetery, Belgium - Ref:D.39
and is also commemorated on the Roll of Honour in St Philip & St Etheldreda's Church, Exning Road.

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