Text written by Pia Chamberlain.
The following was previously printed in a pamphlet available at St Andrew’s Church, Kingswood, Battle of the Somme, 1st July – 18th November 1916, The Fallen of Kingswood and Tadworth.
Bryan Paull was born on 15th December 1896 in Earlswood, Surrey, the second child and only son of Allen and Annie Paull. His father was a wealthy stockbroker and over the years, the family lived in a string of substantial houses around the area, amongst others Mount Hill (or Mount Hall as it was then called) in Lower Kingswood, Copthorne in Burgh Heath and Tadorne in Kingswood; the latter was given as his father’s address in 1916. In 1911, when the Paulls lived at Mount Hill, a house that still exists, but has long since been converted into flats, they employed no less than seven domestic servants: a governess, a cook, a parlour maid, a children’s maid, a housemaid, a kitchen maid and a chauffeur.
Bryan attended Charterhouse School, in Godalming, where he obtained his colours in football and for three years was a member of the Officers’ Training Corps. He entered the army on leaving school. He was gazetted lieutenant in February 1915 and Captain soon afterwards. He departed for France with the East Surreys in July 1915 and remained stationed with them in Picardy. He spent the winter in trenches. On one occasion, when his company was attacked by a strong enemy force, he led his men in a successful counter-attack. On 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme he was ordered to stay behind in reserve and had to watch as his officer friends led their men into battle. Amongst them was ‘Billie’ Nevill (see inset photograph), the instigator of the famous ‘Football Charge’. Find out more about the “Football Charge”. In the aftermath of the battle, which had decimated the officer ranks, Bryan Paull was given command of ‘C’ Company.
The village of Thiepval had been holding out for nearly a month against British attacks, but it finally fell on 26th September. The next task facing 18th Division, with the cooperation of the 11th, was to capture the formidable stronghold known as the Schwaben Redoubt. It consisted of a network of trenches situated about 1,000 yards above Thiepval. On 28th September the British troops succeeded in occupying the Schwaben in several points, from where the light machine guns were turned on the fleeing Germans. On the 29th the Germans, who were still occupying the northern end of the Redoubt, sent in some reinforcements and launched a counter-attack. On 30th the East Surreys were ordered to move in and finish the job of capturing the Redoubt. They took the north end by storm, but were driven back before they had had time to consolidate their position. Bryan Paull’s ‘C’ Company had already suffered heavy losses in the bombardment that preceded the operation. Bryan Paull was killed while leading his men in the attack. His commanding officer later wrote that all the officers in Captain Paull’s company had been killed in the operation.
Bryan Paull, who was 19 when he died, was buried in Blighty Valley Cemetery, just two miles from where he was killed. Fighting in the Schwaben Redoubt finally ended on 14th October. Its capture had cost the lives of 2,000 officers and men.
Margaret Mackeson Green gave her address as Mount Hall, Lower Kingswood, in 1915 when she signed up as a member of the Volunteer Aid Detachment.