Lance Corporal Cecil Paul Lucas

Researched and written by Anne Wright

L/Cpl C P Lucas
2nd Battalion, the King’s Royal Rifle Regiment
53889
Killed in action, 18.9.1918
Age, 18

Almost all of Cecil Paul Lucas’ short life was spent in Weybridge where he was born in 1900 and attended St James’ School. He was the seventh of eight children born to Henry Baigent and Agnes Laura (nee Smith) Lucas: Hilda, Mabel, Arthur, Margaret, Wilfred, Evelyn, Cecil and Kathleen. Their parents were married on 24 April 1886 at Hambledon; Henry was from Guildford and Agnes from Bramley. He was a carpenter and joiner who employed others when they lived at Rosedale in Dorchester Road in 1901.Ten years later Henry was an employee working as a builder’s foreman and the family had moved to Molesworth in Cedar Road.

Cecil enlisted in Guildford; he was posted to the 2nd Battalion, the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. They had served in France since August 1914; Cecil was with them during the last stages of their service. Having finally held the onslaught of the German Offensive of Spring 1918 the Allies were able to make the last great effort to push back the enemy forces. By September they faced the daunting prospect of attacking the formidable German defensive position – the Hindenburg Line. At the start of the month Cecil and his comrades were at Arras, on the 13th they were moved to Athies by bus and two days later they were in a wood to the east of Gourlancourt and the next day they went forward again and on the 17th made final preparations for the attack.

They were to take part in the Battle of Epehy attacking forward positions of the Hindenburg Line.The objective of Cecil’s battalion was to take Berthaucourt; they advanced at 5.20 am on the 18th.The conditions were very wet and a heavy mist hung over them, it was difficult to get news of what was happening. Prisoners soon began to come in but Cecil’s unit was then delayed by machine gun fire coming in from both flanks. They engineered moves around the flanks with one company holding the centre. By the time these actions were successful it was 9.40 am and their covering barrage had moved on. They then advanced quickly and moved through Berthaucourt, once again their main opposition was from machine gun fire. Cecil was one of the fatalities. The Battle of Ephey, saw the British Line advance by two miles and 9,000 prisoners were taken; the Germans were weakening. Fifty-four days later the war ended.

Cecil is buried in Berthaucourt Communal Cemetery (B.12) at Pontru, a village about 7 km north-west of St. Quentin. Berthaucourt is a hamlet adjoining the village. He is buried with fourteen other members of his battalion; they all died on the same day and with the exception of one (E.1) are all buried in Row B. Cecil’s parents remained at their Cedar Road address. His mother died in 1925 and her funeral service and burial took place at St. James’ Church and churchyard on 2 November. His father lived to experience another World War; he died on 15 August 1945.

Sources:

1918 Allied Advance to Victory: 100 Days Offensive – Breaking Through the Hindenburg Line, www.greatwar.co.uk
Memorial to the Masters and Old Boys of St James’ School, Weybridge Who Fell in the Great War 1914-1918, St James’ Church
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1912, www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1987, www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey, England, Church of England Marriages, 1754-1937, www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1962, www.ancestry.co.uk

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