Oppy Wood

As the allies advanced on Arras, Jack’s 11th (Tradesmen) Battalion was ordered to attack the German lines on the outskirts of the small French village of Oppy.

Having amassed almost in sight of Vimy Ridge, in the early hours of 3rd May 1917, Jack’s Battalion, and many others in the Hull Pals, were ordered to attack under cover of darkness.

Unfortunately it was a crisp, clear night, with a full moon, and a clear line of fire for the German machine-guns in the wood facing them as they ran across No Man’s Land.

Within a few hours over 2,000 men were slaughtered. Jack and his men had an objective to knock out a particular machine-gun, unfortunately due to the darkness, and smoke from the allied barrage, it wasn’t a clear target.

The gun was cutting Jack’s men down in frightful amounts, and twice they were repulsed from their attack.

Jack then took it upon himself to try and do something about the gun and so, single-handed, he ran across No Man’s Land, with just a pistol and a Mills Grenade for company.

Jack managed to stop the gun from firing, so his remaining men could get to safety, however Jack was never seen again, having been killed during his valiant action.

Because of such bravery, Jack was posthumously awarded the highest honour that can be bestowed on a member of the British Military, the Victoria Cross.

Jack’s wife and son, Lilian and Jackie, went to Buckingham Palace in March 1918 to collect the medal from King George 5th.

Pictures kindly supplied by Patrick J A Neal, author of the book The Heroic Johnsman

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