Lt Kenneth Sven Blad (3193), brother to CE, JV and OG. His father was of Danish descent and was born in Brighton in 1898. He joined College in 1908 until 1917

1916

EC              191            20              Mr Waite’s XI       111            0 for 10

EC              185-7         4               4th Staffordshires  132            0 for 9

EC              149            8               Vic Coll                210            0 for 10

                                                                     &       87-1

EC              91-2           28*            Mr Maunder’s XI   200

EC              108            0               Athletics              86              0 for 8

EC              121-3d                        RGLI                   74     3 for 20         & 96-9

EC              121            9               Vic Coll                203   0 for 13

EC              98              0               Staffordshires       92

He went to the London Telegraph Training College at Earl’s Court on leaving school. He joined the Cadet Battalion R.E. War Service and joined the Royal Signals in November 1917, commissioned in Dec 1917 as 2nd Lieutenant Royal Engineers and went to France in 1918 with the 4th Tank Brigade Signals as Wireless Officer to a Brigade of Tanks. He was accidentally killed on the Dollon-Arras road on 26th Nov 1918, aged 20. A French car, that did not stop, hit him on his motorcycle earlier in the evening as he was returning to Head Quarters. Though somewhat shaken he was apparently unhurt and decided to carry on with his ride but later he ran into the tail of a lorry during very heavy fog. The court of inquiry found that the lorry driver was not to blame and that Kenneth had been probably shaken or was suffering from concussion by the earlier accident, and did not see the lorry. He is buried in Fillievres British Cemetery, Pas de Calais.

Capt Alfred Frank Cyril Borrett (2966) was the eldest son of Alfred Charles Henderson Borrett and Gertrude Augusta Homfrey of Maison de Bar, Vale. He was born in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in July 1888. He attended College from 1900 to 1906 where he played 1st XI football and cricket as well as tennis and badminton.

1905

EC              180-6         0*              Castel                 128

EC 2nd         122            0*              Grange 2nd           112

EC 2nd         34     5       & 72   13*   Athletics 2nd          59              & 72-3

EC 2nd         60     0       & 81-7   0   Grange 2nd           177

EC 2nd         149-5                          Athletics 2nd         117

1906          He was 2nd in the school 400 yards and 1st in the 100 yards

EC              152            5               V Beuttler XI        127

EC              70              15              Rangers               132            2-0-7-0

EC              103            7               Grange                194

EC 2nd         193            8               Athletics 2nd         144-6

EC              101            0               Athletics              124

EC              83              4*              HMS Isis              84-3

EC              110            0               HMS Isis              130

EC              101            0               Grange                141

EC              104-7         0*              Grange                187-8

EC              86              12              Athletics              185

EC              77              19              Rangers               89

EC              170            1               Grange                124

EC              231-6                          Athletics              83

EC              119            0               Manchester Regt   123

EC              136-6                          Athletics              186-8d

EC              176            11              Vic Coll                48              & 68

He was awarded his colours

On leaving College he joined his father at the Maison de Bas in the growing industry. He went to Vancouver as a grower in 1912. He returned soon afterwards but was on a motor-cycle tour on the outbreak of war and immediately returned to Guernsey, joining the 1st Bn RG Militia in Aug 1914 as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was made adjutant in Nov 1916 and was appointed to the same position in the RGLI.

He was married in Sep 1917 to Miss Frances M Savage formerly of the Vale. He left Guernsey for England the next day on military duty. She stayed with her brother John in St Martins. He served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from Sep 1917 and was killed in action at Cambrai in the November. His commanding officer wrote, “His loss to me and the regiment is irreparable. I can find no words to express my admiration of his unflagging energy, his absolute fearlessness and devotion to duty. As an Adjutant in peace times he was perhaps too kindly, for he was a man who never could say a hard word or think a hard thought of anyone, but as an Adjutant in war he was simply grand and had he lived I should certainly have recommended him for a Military Cross”.

He is remembered at Cambrai Memorial and the Vale Memorial.

Here is an account of the war in those early days with A F C Borrett mentioned:

Only days after war was declared, in 1914, The Defence of the Realm Act was passed and part of it stated that: ‘No person shall by word of mouth or in writing spread reports likely to cause disaffection or alarm among any of His Majesty’s forces or among the civilian population.’ This was used to prevent the publication of stories which were critical, or even perceived to be so.

It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, when the British Army suffered 57,000 casualties, the War Department released the information that the advances made were a sign of success and victory. The battle went on for months, with 420,000 British casualties, as well as 200,000 French and 500,000 German, but these growing casualty rates were rarely reported in British newspapers. One British journalist said that he wanted ‘to spare the feelings of men and women who have sons and husbands fighting in France’, though another said that he was ‘deeply ashamed’ by what he had written.

Families and loved ones of the soldiers serving on the Western Front could get information from the soldiers themselves. Millions of letters a week were delivered between British soldiers and their families. These were censored by regimental officers and anything to do with location, number of troops, trench conditions (sometimes including the weather) were banned, as was any criticism of their superiors.

In effect, families in Guernsey would know how their sons and husbands were, but not where they were.

In those days, the Guernsey Evening Press produced three editions a day, the morning edition at 8am, the first edition at 1pm and the special edition at 5pm. These were updated through the day. Sometimes the original story was published together with an updated story.

But after the initial fanfare of the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry leaving the island, reported in the Press with a set of impressive posed photographs, including with the RGLI mascot donkey Joey, on 2 June 1917, news reports gradually became scarcer. News from the ‘front’ was not available, neither was it the concept that we understand today. Life at home had to go on.

Guernsey had seen some casualties of war in ones and twos up to now. There were Guernseymen who were regular soldiers in a variety of regiments when war broke out, others who joined up and served mainly with the Royal Irish Regiments, and many with French links who joined up to fight to defend France, their parent country.

On 2 June 1917, the same newspaper that reported on the RGLI’s departure also carried details of deaths in action, of Gunner W J Tostevin and Private Taylor.

The RGLI went to the UK for training and, after a short leave at home, left Southampton for France in September. On 20 November, the British launched a huge offensive at Cambrai, with infantry following more than 400 tanks, the new and frightening armoured mechanised weapon. The attack was initially a great success, and the RGLI went into action in the second wave to hold some of the ground gained. Then the Germans launched a fierce counter-attack and on 30 November and 1 and 2 December, the RGLI fought heroically and ‘like veterans’, according to their commanding general, in and around the lanes of Les Vertes Rues, near the town of Masnieres. Over three days of waves of enemy troops advancing, mortar and artillery shells pounding the ground around them, they stood often defending themselves and their friends in hand-to-hand combat with the enemy.

At the time of the battle, unaware of the situation in France, the Guernsey Evening Press made no mention of their involvement, but it did carry general news of the battle, released by the War Department and several syndicated war correspondents’ own censored reports. The day before the battle, on 29 November, the Press reported that ‘The Germans, considerably reinforced, continued to defend Cambrai. Engagements of extreme violence follow one another west of the town…’

The people of Guernsey were not then aware that those ‘engagements of extreme violence’ were featuring their sons, fathers and brothers.

A lull in the fighting was reported the following day under the headline ‘Calm at Cambrai’, which looked at communiqués from British and French authorities and, surprisingly, information from Germany. In reality at Les Vertes Rues at 8 o’clock that morning the first waves of Bavarian troops came into view along the canal banks of the town.

The roll of honour that day for those who had died in action included 21-year-old Sergeant Lorier, killed by a shell, Lance-corporal Davidson, died of wounds, and Privates S Roberts and Guille.

But the morning edition of 1 December reported that action at Cambrai (meaning Masnieres) had been renewed. According to a Press Association special correspondent, ‘There has been considerable infantry activity upon the battle fronts south-west of Cambrai, very lively machine gun fire but our men went forward stubbornly.’ The report went on, ‘The enemy artillery is steadily increasing in volume.’

A later story under the headline ‘Fierce Battle near Cambrai’ says that ‘the enemy attacked south and west of Cambrai from Masnieres to Moeuvres. The attacks were repulsed after fierce fighting in which great losses were inflicted on the German infantry.’ Nothing was mentioned of the RGLI, or indeed of any specific regiment or battalion.

In the same edition, the death of RGLI Lt. A F C Borrett, married only two months earlier, was reported.

The special edition on 1 December talked about ‘successful British raids’ and ‘no more German attacks on the Cambrai front’. As it transpired, these communiqués from the War Department were inaccurate.

On Monday, 3 December, the morning edition carried the story that ‘Further details which are now coming back in connection with the German attack render it clear that this was a big and determined effort…’

News of this was carried on the Press front page – a rare occurrence in those days – alongside adverts for artificial teeth, New Centaur cycles and spectacles to suit all sights from Spiller in Mill Street.

In fact, by that Monday the battle at Les Vertes Rues was over.

Inside that edition, there was more about the battle that had raged over the weekend. ‘During the fighting yesterday in the neighbourhood of Masnieres, the enemy delivered no less than nine separate attacks upon our positions in and around the village. All were beaten off with heavy losses.

‘In the last attack, detachments gained a foothold in the adjoining village of Les Vertes Rues, on the west bank of the Canal de L’Escaut, but were driven out by our counter-attack.’

Those reading the newspaper on that day would almost certainly not have known that the action at Les Vertes Rues featured the soldiers of their regiment, the RGLI. In fact, by the time this page was read, the RGLI had been ordered to withdraw from their positions, having fought bravely and suffered heavy losses.

In the days that followed, the Guernsey Press continued to report on Cambrai, with headlines such as ‘German offensive resumed with great violence’, ‘Twenty German divisions thrown into the Furnace’ and ‘Huns Taught a Rough Lesson’.

It was in the 5 December edition that the RGLI involvement was acknowledged, in a two-column box headed ‘The Royal Guernsey Light Infantry’ and ‘Fought with Steadiness of Veterans in Cambrai Battle’.

The story was from the special correspondent of the Times, who, after paying tribute to the Newfoundland regiment, wrote: ‘I also mentioned certain new troops which had never been in action before which distinguished themselves by their special keenness and desire to do well on their first appearance in the great theatre. These, one can now say, were a Guernsey battalion. There are no hardier men in the Empire than these Channel Islanders, and they fought as keenly as young troops could, and with the steadiness of veterans.’

It was also reported that: ‘The Guernsey flag was hoisted at the Royal Court House this morning, and flags were flown in all parts of the Town and Island, in honour of the gallant lads of the RGLI.’

Over the page, under the Toll of the Cambrai Battle, were listed three killed and 21 wounded. The list of casualties would increase over the following days. In the Friday 7 December first edition, the list had five deaths and 18 wounded, a figure which would increase to 23 by the time the special edition was published later that day.

The following Monday, there were two dead and 26 wounded listed, some with poignant details, such as those of Private George H. Langlois, who died of his wounds. ‘Pte Langlois was 22 years old and was employed by Mr H R Bougourd, La Tourelle, St Peter’s as a greenhouseman. He was called up for service in the army last February.’

The list of dead and wounded reported continued to increase in the following days.

At the opening of the Les Touillets, Castel, military hospital, the Lt-Governor Sir Reginald Hart said, ‘We have reason to feel very proud. We all feel the deepest sympathy with those who have suffered bereavement’, but he added that ‘the military situation is very serious and this is no time to keep back young men of 18 years and eight months for selfish reasons’.

On Friday 14 December, five more dead were listed and the following day, 62 wounded. Sometimes the names of the dead were listed and then later repeated, with more information.

It was also reported that a statement from the General Officer commanding the division to which the RGLI were attached was read out at the state meeting. It was headed ‘Gallant R.G.L.I.’.

The General Officer wrote: ‘I want to convey to the Guernsey authorities my very high appreciation of the valuable services rendered by the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry in the Battle of Cambrai. Theirs was a wonderful performance.

‘Guernsey has every reason to feel the greatest pride in her sons and I am proud to have them under me fighting alongside my staunch veterans…

‘I regret the casualties of the Battalion were heavy, a further proof, if any were needed, that they fought magnificently.’

Over the following days, casualty reports and names continued, with some new categories of ‘Missing’ and ‘Presumed Dead’. Even on Christmas Eve, the Press reported a list of 26 men who died at Cambrai, men with names such as Hotton, Peter and John Ozanne, Jehan, Guilbert, Marquis, Meagher, Priaulx, Sarre, Le Prevost.

The final toll was that during the battle, 15 men were killed outright, 274 wounded, many of whom would die from their wounds, and 216 were ‘missing’, which meant either lying dead on the abandoned battlefield, hit by artillery or captured by the enemy.

Major Edwin Parks, in his book Diex Aix – the Guernseymen who Marched Away 1914-1918, estimates that nearly 40% of the battalion’s total strength of 1,311 soldiers had become casualties. ‘Cambrai was the end of a generation in Guernsey and the island was stunned by the length of the casualty lists.’

Lt Ranulf Steinthal de Saumarez Brock (3155) was born in Thorton Heath, Surrey in 1895. In the 1911 census he was listed as a boarder at Elizabeth College. In 1913 he played ‘Dogberry’ in Much Ado about Nothing.

1914

EC              122            0               Green Howards             136

EC              191-3         12*            Athletics              107

EC              73              11              Grange                173

EC              234-4                          F W Mourant XI    97

EC              150-5                          Garrison              102-3

He was awarded 2nd team colours

EC              267-3                          Vic Coll                155            & 88-3

He joined the 23rd Trench Mortar Bty, Royal Field Artillery and was killed in action in May 1917. He is remembered at Brandhoek Military Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium.

There were also many who were injured, not the least Capt John Valdemar Blad who was wounded at the Somme in 1916 but survived before retiring from the Army in 1932. His brother Maj Carl Edward Blad fought in France and Belgium where he was wounded but survived until he too retired in June 1947.

Ernest James (Laddie) Brouard (2972) born in 1892 and joined Elizabeth College in 1902 and left in 1909. He played 1st XI football, 1st XI cricket and was Junior Champion of Sports 1908.

1908

EC              188            13*            R G Artillery         134

EC              120            2               Manchester Regt   221

EC              83              1               Grange                150

EC              142-6                           F Mourant            209-6d       1-1-0-1

EC              127   5*     & 104-6      Vic Coll       72     & 29-4

He was awarded his colours

1909

EC              150-4d       38              H F Morris XI        109-6         0 for 8

EC              75              17              2nd Bn Middlesex   227-6d

EC              112            9               Athletics              155

EC              91              6               Grange                202            1 for 17

EC              77              7               E T Whitehead XI  98

EC              34     6       & 86-2  29  2nd Bn Middlesex   75     & 115-2

EC              84              1               R G Artillery         101

EC              46              7               Vic Coll                121

EC              150-8          13              Rangers               101

EC              40     0       & 68-3  2*  Garrison              191-7

EC              192-9         7               Athletics              111-8

EC              97              0               Rangers               117

EC              154            13              Grange                140-9

EC              59              0               Vic Coll                256            1 for 23

He entered service with Capital and Counties Bank at Warminster and transferred to the Coleford Branch, Gloucester. Captain of West Wilts Football Club 1912 – 13. His War Service began as a Trooper in the 1st. Royal Gloucester Hussars in Gallipoli & Egypt. He returned from Egypt suffering from jaundice and dysentery and was forced to stay in a convalescent home in Luxor. Whist there he was placed on the Staff as an Assistant Paymaster. Upon discharge he served several months in the Sinai Desert and took part in the attack on El Arish. The British forces together with Anzac troops were defending the Suez Canal from the Ottoman Empire and by taking El Arish and other towns this was seen as essential to that purpose. He died on 9 January 1917 aged 24, killed in action during an attack on El Arish (Sinai Palestine Campaign). He is buried at Kantara War Memorial, east of Suez and a memorial at the Castel Church.

Lt Eric d’Auvergne Collings (3127) was one of six sons and a daughter of Dr and Mrs C d’A Collings. He joined Elizabeth College in 1905 leaving in 1914. He played 1st XI Football, Cricket and Hockey 1913 – 14 and was also a member of the College O.T.C.  After leaving he was 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Guernsey Militia Infantry in January 1915 and then to Sandhurst on 14 May 1915 and was commissioned on 12th Jan 1916. His War Service started as 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion East Surrey Regiment and then 3rd Battalion (Reserve) West Surrey Regiment January 1916. He was transferred to 1st Battalion The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment. Eric was killed in the Battle of the Somme which started in July 1916. He died on 23 August 1916, aged 19.

1910

EC              110            0               Vic Coll                169

Awarded 2nd XI colours

1911

EC 2nd         87     2       & 61-7        Victoria Cricket Assoc     224

EC              102   33     & 34-4        R G Artillery         141

EC              164-9         0               Royal Irish Regt    265-5

1912

EC              60              0               Athletics              151

EC              60     5*     & 16-1        Rangers               29     & 44

EC              98     5       & 76-7  2    Garrison              67

EC              65              0               Athletics              131

EC              81     2       & 45-5        R G Artillery         52

EC              83              0*              C J Rawlinson       146

1913

EC              134            5               Athletics              41-5

EC 2nd         139            3               Victoria AC           155-8

EC              55              10*            Grange                82

EC              120            17*            F W Mourant        89

EC              132            9               C J Rawlinson       113

EC              180-6         54              Rangers               139-8

EC              129            3               F W Mourant        107

EC              127            1               Grange                67

EC              183            37              Vic Coll                190

EC              124            26              R G Artillery         85

EC              40              6               Royal Irish Reg     202

EC              95              10              Garrison              203

EC              94              8               Athletics              190

EC              179            30              R G Artillery         112

EC              113   8       & 88  0       Vic Coll                99     & 64-5

EC              82              8               Old Elizs              110

Awarded colours

1914

EC              122            5               Green Howards     136            3 for 23

EC              234            1               Rangers      50     & 55-6        1 for 10

EC              73              6               Grange                173            0 for 19

EC              234-4         69*            F W Mourant        97

EC              150-5         38              Garrison              102-3         0 for 14

EC              267-3         9               Vic Coll                155   & 88-3     4-0-11-1

EC              157            33*            R G Artillery         47

EC              62              0               Green Howards     167

EC              164-2                          HMS Superb         66     & 46-2

EC              142-3         7               F W Mourant        199-7

EC              138            58              Garrison              187-8

EC              342-8         7               Vic Coll                127

EC              128            19              Grange                94

EC              222-3         61              Athletics              131

Collings

Eric d’Auvergne Collings            Weekly Press