Geoffrey William Lund was born in Trotton, Sussex, and lived at 35 Monks Road. He joined the 2nd Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment, indicating that he signed up early in the war, probably seeing action at Gallipoli in 1915. His service number was 7222.
The battle diary of the 2nd Battalion is in the Hampshire
Records Office, and following the unit till William’s death on 21st April 1917 makes very powerful reading. In the month of April 1917 alone the battalion lost 3 officers killed, another 14 wounded and 4 missing. Amongst the Other Ranks, 26 were killed (including William), 262 wounded, 9 died of wounds, and 92 were in hospital, sick. To put this in perspective, the total strength of the battalion was 23 officers and 365 other ranks. William is listed as Killed in Action. The 2nd Battalion was committed to a key role in the Battle of Monchy, in the area of Arras. The battalion diarist wrote on 13th April 1917:
“Heavy shelling, Monchy full of dead horses and wounded in cellars who had been there for days.”
They moved back to reserve trenches at 3:00 am, with the Newfoundland Regiment and the Essex on either flank. The Newfoundlanders attacked to the north east with success, but the Germans counter-attacked. Unknown to the Allies, they were operating a new form of deployment that involved retreating in key areas to encourage Allied forward movement- followed by encirclement. It was 3 platoons of X Company Hampshires and 10 Newfoundlanders who were left surrounded. The Newfoundland records claim their soldiers killed 44 Germans in this vicious small battle. Y Company was now ordered into Monchy, suffering 25 casualties, but occupying fighting positions on the east, suffering another 20 casualties, but gaining a German trench and holding it. 44 of Y Company were wounded. The battle diary continues:
“Our front line was shelled all day, but with no casualties. But at night when Z Company was digging an assembly trench, Company Sergeant Major Lund was killed. CSR Lund was a great loss to the battalion”
On 20th April 1917 the Regiment was congratulated by the General.
In WW1 battalion diaries, officers are mentioned by name, but Other Ranks, rarely. William Lund’s official rank at the time of his death was Acting Warrant Officer Class 1. I understand this to be the highest non-commissioned rank. The comment made on his loss that night is also highly unusual in the war diaries. Clearly William was an extraordinary soldier:
“CSR Lund was a great loss to the battalion”
One other thing about this battle at Monchy is the detail in the battalion diary’s analysis, but no inkling that something new was going on with German tactics. Only with the later opening up of the German war records for military analysis could this battle be put into a deeper context.