Friday, 1 July 2011

A Trebilcock

Awbery Trebilcock
Born 1896 St Columb Minor, Newquay , Cornwall  Killed in Action 1 July 1916
Pte 12500 9th (Service) Battalion, Devonshire Regiment
Enlisted Bodmin

Awbery was the eldest child of Kate Trebilcock and the brother of Edna Grace Trebilcock.  His father was quite probably Richard Trebilcock, a mariner, but I have not been able to prove this definitively.  I believe that Kate's maiden name was Manley, but again, am unable to positively prove this.  

Kate and Awbery were on their own at the time of the 1901 Census. I have found a Richard Trebilcock of Newquay aboard a vessel in Bristol; this may be Awbery's father.  Neither parent appears on the 1911 Census, although Kate certainly did not die until 1929.  Perhaps they were both on board a ship at the time.  

Awbery enlisted with the Devonshire Regiment in Bodmin.  The 9th Battalion were formed in 1914 and attached to 20th (Light) Division.  Awbery was with the Battalion when they first landed in France on 27 July 1915.  Shortly thereafter they were attached to 20th Brigade with 7th Division.  Awbery and his comrades would have seen action at the Battle of Loos in 1915.  Their next major offensive would have been at the Battle of Albert, the first phase of the Battle of the Somme.

On 1 July 1916 20th Brigade's objective was to form a defensive flank to cover the advance of 91st Brigade around Fricourt and Mametz.  The 9th Devons were at the centre of 20th Brigade, and their objective was to move across the south slope of Rose Valley, south west of Mametz, on to Orchard Trench.  The British believed that any German dugouts which survived the preliminary artillery barrage would be neutralised between the advancing 9th Devons and 2nd Gordon Highlanders. However, on the 9th Devon's right flank a machine gun, located near the Shrine, had survived and its crew were waiting for the British.  As thousands of troops advanced towards them the enemy crew waited until the British were 800 yards away and opened up, mowing down the first wave.  Only a handful survived to reach the German front line, just a 100 yards in front of them. The left flank of the Devons were more fortunate, being concealed from the machine gun at the Shrine.  They were able to take Danube Trench with few casualties.  By 6 pm the Brigade had reached its objective.

Several days after the battle the British sent out a party to recover the fallen of both the 9th and 8th Devons.  160 bodies were taken to their old front line and buried together.  It is likely that Awbery Trebilcock was one of them.  Above their grave a wooden cross was erected with the following words:

"The Devonshires held this trench
The Devonshires hold it still."

1 comment:

  1. Awbery Trebilcock lies in the Devonshire Trench Cemetery at Mametz. I have been investigating all 160-plus of his comrades who were killed 1st July 1916. Your information has been most helpful, thank you.