Serre Road Cemetery No 3, Puiseux, Pas de Calais. In fields 300 yards NE of SerreRoad and W of Serre. Records 81 UK and 4 special memorials.
Suzanne Military Cemetery No. 3, Somme. The Cemetery is 8 miles SE of Albert, 1 mile NE of the village (itself on the North bank of the Somme River) on the East of the D197 road to Maricourt from Suzanne. Formerly a French cemetery, it was created after the Armistice from isolated graves on the Somme battlefields, bodies being brought in to replace those of French soldiers taken to their own cemetery. Records 103 U.K., 28 Aust., 8 Can., and 1 German burials. In the summer of 1915 the village was close to where the British and French lines joined after the BEF took over part of the sector.
Grave in Suzanne Military Cemetery of No. 7548 Private David Graham 11th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles killed in action on the 1st July 1916 aged 21 years. The Battalion was part of 108th Brigade 36th (Ulster) Division and sustained heavy casualties during the move forward from Thiepval Wood to assembly positions in No Man’s Land at 7.15 a.m. on the 1st July, the leading waves crossing the German line and capturing the German second line by 7.50 a.m. Thiepval is about 8 miles North of Suzanne and this young man’s body was plainly one of those brought south from his original grave near Thiepval. Born and enlisted in Belfast, the son of Samuel and Jane Graham of 13 Willow Street, Belfast.
Suzanne Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme is in a valley NW of the village of Suzanne, 8 miles SE of Albert. This is the view from the hillside looking down to the cemetery. The cemetery was begun by the 5th Division which took over trenches in the area from the French in August 1915 with a number of the burials being from the Manchester and Liverpool Pals Battalions from the 30th Division. There was an absence of burials until late 1918 with 14 Australian burials. Records 141 U.K. and 14 Aust. burials.
Grave in Suzanne Communal Cemetery Extension of No. L/3867 Gunner Robert William Adamson “D” Battery, 150th Brigade Royal Field Artillery killed in action 13th June 1917 aged 17 years. Son of the late Thomas William and Sarah Anne Adamson of Liverpool. Headstone bears inscription “Thy Will be Done.”
Grave in Suzanne Communal Cemetery Extension of No. 9934 Private John Edward Sumner 18th Battalion the Manchester Regiment killed in action 28th June 1916 aged 22 years. The Battalion was part of 30th Division and in preparation for its part in the Battle of the Somme had moved to an area West of Maricourt and South of Montauban. The preliminary artillery bombardment began on the 24th June 1916. Born Dilworth Preston Lancashire, enlisted Manchester when resident in Kendal Westmoreland. Son of Margaret Jane Sellers (formerly Sumner) Kell House, Brigsteer, Kendal and the late Edward Sumner, a native of Longridge Preston. Headstone bears inscription “He died for his King and Country.”
Grave in Suzanne Communal Cemetery Extension of No. 10273 Lance Corporal David Logan 18th Battalion the Manchester Regiment killed in action on the 4th February 1916 aged 22 years. The Battalion was part of 90th Brigade, 30th Division which came to the Somme sector in January 1916 to the area south of Maricourt occupying trenches towards Vaux, the men’s billets being located at Suzanne. The Battalion occupied a hazardously exposed position along the Somme marshes on the extreme right of the British line near the village of Vaux, consisting of scattered posts, duckboard walkways in an area of marshland. Raids pressing for possession of outposts and pockets of firm land among the reed-beds and rivulets took a toll in killed, wounded and missing. Born Salford and enlisted in Manchester. Son of David and Elizabeth Logan of 28 Blanshard Street, Chorlton on Medlock, Manchester. Headstone bears inscription “Into Thy Hands, Oh. Lord.”
Sailly-Sallisel British Cemetery Somme. Sailly-Saillisel is a small village about 9 miles East of Albert and 6 miles South of Bapaume on the N17 Bapaume to Peronne road. The military cemetery is south of and on the outskirts of the village itself and on the West side of the N17 road. Records 559 U.K., 12 Aust., 7 Newfld., 185 Unknown burials and 8 special memorials.
No. 10076 Private David Condon 1st Battalion the Irish Guards was killed in action on 15th March 1917 and is buried in Sailly-Saillisel British Cemetery, Somme. David Condon was born in November 1894 in Ballyporeen Co. Tipperary, his mother being Johanna Condon. He enlisted in Caerphilly, Glamorgan on the 1st November 1915 for 3 years service and 9 years in the Reserve whilst residing in Kiltankin, Kilbehenny, Co. Cork. The Medical Examination, inter alia, described him as being 5 feet 7 inches tall with a fresh complexion and light hair.
The Battalion landed at Havre on the 13th August 1914 as part of 4th Guards Brigade 2nd Division but on the formation of the Guards Division in August 1915 was transferred to 1st Guards Brigade, joining 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards and 2nd and 3rd Battalions the Coldstream Guards in the Guards Division.
The Battalion moved to the Somme from the Ypres sector at the end of July 1916 to play its part in the Battle of the Somme leaving the battle area on the 16th November for Meaulte.
Private Condon was sent to the Guards Depot at Caterham on the 3rd November 1915 and served on the Home Front in the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Irish Guards until September 1916 during which period he had two admissions to Military Hospitals: 14 days in March 1916 for treatment for Rubella (a viral infection also known as German measles) and 10 days ending on 9th September 1916 for Alveolar Abscess (from decayed tooth extraction). Discharged to duty, he embarked at Southampton on the 27th September 1916 as part of a draft to join the Expeditionary Force. Before joining the Battalion his draft would have been sent first to the Guards Division Base Depot at Harfleur which had been established towards the end of August 1915. Its main function was to post all ranks to the various battalions on orders received from a Reinforcement Officer. Private Condon was posted on the 4th October 1916 to the 1st Battalion Irish Guards. He was almost without a doubt part of a draft of 152 men under the command of 2nd Lieutenant the Hon. D. O’Brien who arrived with the Battalion on the 5th October; David Condon was posted to No. 3 Company. The Battalion had just completed its tour of duty in the Somme sector for the Battle of the Somme and on the 4th October 1916 was in a rest camp in the village of Hornoy, which is West of Amiens and about 17 miles South of Abbeville.
On the 10th November the Battalion went back to the Somme sector to camps at Carnoy and then Montauban and then on the 13th November took over the trench line north of Lesboeufs to Guedecourt, reachable only by a duckboard track from Trones Wood and described as “a windy waste of dead weed and wreckage, no landmarks – trench equipment utterly lacking and every item having to be man-handled from Ginchy.” The Battalion remained until relieved by the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards on the 16th/17th November then returned to Meaulte.
It had been agreed that the British Army should take over a stretch of the French line from Le Transloy to a point 4 miles west of Roye and by the 6th December 1916 the Battalion had taken over a 1000 yard stretch of trench at Sailly-Saillisel. The front line ran just in front of what had once been a long and prosperous village on the ridge; the support line ran through and amongst the wreckage of the houses and there were no communication trenches. Reliefs were delayed by constantly having to dig men out of the mud, taking an average of 8 hours to cover 4 or 5 miles in a nightmare of mud and darkness. Later in the month they were at Combles furnishing working parties for the railway lines and helping to lay down plank roads (the planks being substantial logs). Then on the 3rd January 1917 the whole of the Guards Division went out of the line for refit, the Battalion being back again at Meaulte.
In September 1916 the Germans had begun the construction of a new system of defence from Arras through St. Quentin to the neighbourhood of Vailly on the Aisne. The work itself was mainly carried out by Prisoners of War and forced labour. Known by the enemy as Siegfried-Stellung and by the Allies as the Hindenburg Line, it was not a line but a defensive zone, sited as far as possible on a reverse slope with artillery observation posts, piquet lines with machine-guns in shallow dug-outs, concrete machine-gun emplacements, a better concentration of artillery, with generally three belts of barbed-wire each 10 to 15 yards in depth and 5 yards or more apart. The consequences of the Battle for Verdun and fighting on the Somme meant that Germany was too weak to cling to all the positions held in late 1916. A strategic withdrawal to the new defensive zone would reduce the line by over 40 kilometres and would mean less troops being required to man the defences and would also enable a substantial strategic reserve to be established to counter threats wherever these appeared.
Alberich was the cover name for all preparations for the retreat which was to take place over a period of 5 weeks and was executed between 9th February and 15th March 1917.
On the 11th January 1917 the Guards Division took over a new line which ran along the forward slope beyond the Peronne – Bapaume road with the right just north of Rancourt (a village on the N 17 Bapaume-Peronne road) and the left on the south-western outskirts of Sailly-Saillisel. The German positions lay along the western edge of St. Pierre Vaast Wood and on the extreme right were only about 50 yards from the British line.
On the 22nd February 1917 a patrol of the Royal West Kents reported unmanned enemy outposts in front of Miraumont on the Somme and on the 25th February men from the 2nd Australian Division climbing from sodden trenches in front of the Butte de Warlencourt began to move forward towards Bapaume and found the opposing trenches empty but from the ridges ahead long range machine gun fire made it plain that this was no retreat but a potentially dangerous, for the Allies, retirement of the enemy.
In the first week of March 1917 the front of the Guards Division was extended to the left, the 3rd Guards Brigade relieving a brigade of the 29th Division to the north of Sailly-Saillisel.
A general withdrawal of the German Armies to the Hindenburg Line had been anticipated for some time. Whilst the disengagement had begun towards the end of February 1917, the retirement itself was performed in a single large movement mainly over three days and nights between the 16th and 19th March 1917. A “scorched earth” policy followed with devastation wreaked over the whole area evacuated by the enemy. Larger towns were literally razed to the ground, in villages virtually every building was either blown up or burned down, trees were felled across the roads, huge mines were exploded at road intersections. Every bridge over the Somme and other rivers was destroyed , railway lines were torn up, no supplies of any sort were left behind, delayed action bombs were planted and thousands of booby traps were laid. “Crows feet” were sown in river bottoms, designed to puncture horses’ hooves, nearly every well had been defiled and every pond polluted. The marked increase in the volume of hostile artillery fire which began in early March and grew in intensity as the days went by was interpreted by the Guards as a sign that the enemy’s retirement from that particular sector of the line was timed to take place in the near future, the German gunners perhaps firing away their surplus ammunition preparatory to moving back their guns. On the night of the 13th March 1917 the enemy actually began their withdrawal opposite the Guards Division although it was not until the afternoon of the 14th March, when the enemy began firing at their own forward/abandoned trenches that the departure of the German infantry from its front line position was discovered. At some time that day Lieutenant D H Brand of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards went over to the enemy’s line which he found to be unoccupied and walked the whole way down the front of St. Pierre Vaast Wood (the wood being to the East of Rancourt). The result of the reconnaissance when reported to Brigade H.Q. elicited orders for the Scots Guards battalion to occupy the German front at dusk.
On the 13th March the 1st Battalion Irish Guards had taken over from the 4th Battalion Grenadier Guards a sketchy stretch of trench at Sailly-Saillisel when active patrolling found that the German line ahead was clear so this was at once occupied by the Irish Guards. There was nothing to see or steer by except devastated earth, mud, wire, scraps of sand bags, heaped rubbish and carcasses.
On the 15th March 1917 the whole line went forward, the 1st Battalion Irish Guards in touch with their 2nd Battalion on the right and on the left the 2nd Battalion, Coldstream Guards. No one knew how far the enemy was retiring but an hour after the Battalion had started forward, it came under long-range machine-gun and heavy artillery fire while they were consolidating a captured German trench, “Bayreuth”. A shell came through a Company H.Q. dug out when Major George Young, 2nd in command of the Battalion, was visiting, so wounding him that he died a fortnight later, on the 31st March; he is buried in Grove Town Cemetery, Meaulte. The next trench “Gotha” was also under gun fire and the Battalion seemed to be just moving forward into areas registered by the enemy artillery when they were held up by a rain of high explosives until the enemy had completed his local arrangements for further withdrawal. The German artillery was then withdrawn but long-range machine-gun fire or sniping continued for a while and then all would be silent. The Battalion advanced through empty German trenches and dug-outs until on the 20th March it held a line from, in the North, Le Mesnil-en-Arrouaise to near Manancourt. To the North Bapaume had been taken on the 17th March by the 1st and 2nd Australian Divisions. To the South on the 18th March units of the 8th Division had gone through the town of Moislains which had been evacuated by the enemy to reach the Canal du Nord and then heading North East had reached and taken Nurlu. On the same day, 18th March, Peronne, further to the South, had been taken by the 48th Division. The capture of Nurlu enabled units of the 3rd Guards Brigade to enter Manancourt so that by the 21st March Guards Brigades held a line from North West of Nurlu to Manancourt continuing north west to Le Mesnil.
Private David Condon was one of thirteen killed on the 15th March 1917. The other casualties were:
No. 9953 Private Thomas Galway,
No. 11287 Private Daniel Greene,
No. 3862 Lance Corporal Thomas Jackson,
No. 9875 Private James Kearney,
No. 2469 Private James Kinsella,
No. 11191 Private William Lamont,
No. 9340 Private Thomas Larkin,
No. 9456 Private Thomas J Liddane,
No. 4296 Private Richard Proudfoot,
No. 10464 Private John Quirke,
No. 7827 Lance Sergeant W Smyth and
No. 5521 Lance Sergeant William Travers.
Together with Private David Condon all these other 12 casualties are buried in Sailly-Saillisel British Cemetery. There are 746 U.K., 7 Canadian, and 12 Australian burials recorded in this Cemetery and this includes a total of 33 from the Irish Guards. The Cemetery was made wholly after the Armistice from small burial grounds and isolated positions mainly to the South and East of the village of Sailly-Saillisel which was in the possession of the Allies until March 24th 1918 and was recaptured on the 1st September 1918 by the 18th and the 38th (Welsh) Divisions.
Private David Condon was awarded the Victory and British War Medals which were sent to his mother, Mrs. Johanna Condon, and acknowledged by her on the 14th June 1923.