Frederick Tavenor

266175, Private, 2nd/1st Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. (184th Brigade. 61st Division)

Missing In Action on the 19th July 1916 Aged 26.

Frederick was the son of George and Eliza Tavenor, of Ivinghoe, Leighton Buzzard, Beds. At the time of his death he was a resident of Aston.

He was to be lost during the first major action in which the 61st Division was engaged, regarded as an unmitigated disaster. An attack was made on 19th July 1916 at Fromelles, a subsidiary action to the much larger battle taking place further south on the Somme. The Division suffered very heavy casualties for no significant gain and no enemy reserves were diverted from the Somme. Such was the damage to the Division and its reputation that it was not used again other than for holding trench lines until 1917.

On the 18th July 1916, his Battalion were in the front line when "A" Company, who were holding the Battalion front, suffered a devastating blow. British artillery shells fell short and struck a gas container in the trenches where they were waiting. 78 men were lost, an ominous beginning to their time on the front line.

The following morning the 61st Division were to attack on the line from Bedford Row to Bond Street, the 184th Brigade on the front from Sutherland Avenue exclusive to Bond Street inclusive, the 183rd Brigade were on the right, and the Australian Division on the left.

The 2/1st Bucks and the 2/4th Berks were in the trenches and were to make the attack, one Company (C) of the Battalion was in immediate reserve just north of the Rue Tilleloy, and the remainder of the Battalion remained in reserve at their billets. Owing to a misunderstanding of orders, a platoon of "C" Company, which was destined to carry trench-mortar ammunition across No Man’s Land after the attack had been established in the enemy’s trenches, was kept in the front line and suffered very heavily in the bombardment. An intense bombardment was kept up from 11 a.m. till 6p.m., when the assault was delivered, but owing to the machine-gun fire of the enemy the assaulting Battalion could not get across No Man’s Land and suffered very heavy losses.

The Unit War Diary for the latter part of the day has this poignant entry; At 6pm, with a cheer, the four waves leapt up and assaulted the enemy's trenches. Even before 5.40pm, the enemy's machine guns had become busy; and at 6pm they mowed down the advancing waves, so that only a few men actually reached the German parapet. They did not return.

Map showing the location of the 2/1st Ox & Bucks Light Infantry during the Battle of Fromelles on the 19/20 July 1916.

The Battalion had gone into action with 20 Offivers and 622 Other Ranks. By the end of the day this had been reduced to 6 Officers and 300 Other Ranks.

It is not known at what point Frederick Tavenor was lost, but his body was never recovered and he has no know grave.

His name is recorded on the Loos Memorial, France. (Panel 83 to 85)

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