Research and text by Jonathan Collins, and enhanced by Rachael Merrison (Records and Heritage Manager, Cheltenham College)
William Charles Trimmer born 19th September 1896 in Addlestone, Surrey, the son of William Septimus Trimmer and his wife Elizabeth educated at Cheltenham College where he spent four years in the College OTC reaching the rank of Corporal, he left in December 1914. He was in the “Modern” department at College, which prepared boys with a more military education than the “Classical” department (where boys worked towards university entrance). He was a boarding pupil, and stayed in Leconfield House (which is still running today).
His home address on the outbreak of war is recorded as Runwick House, Farnham, Surrey. A student at Wye Agricultural College, he attesting for the Honourable Artillery Company at Armoury House, Finsbury, East London 20th January 1915, he was discharged to a commission into the 3/1st Buckinghamshire Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry 3rd December 1915. Serving in France with the 1/1st Buckinghamshire Battalion from 30th May 1916 and was killed in action 21st July 1916, south west of Pozieres, Somme sector. Ordered to attack at night, the Battalion could not push home owing to the large number of enemy machine guns, and although one party, a Corporal and six men succeeded in entering the German line on the extreme right of the attack, the attack was unsuccessful.
The following extract from the battalion’s war diary entry (The National Archives WO 95/2763) on the 21 Jul 1916, during the Battle of the Somme:
‘A tape was laid 175 yards from the German front line by the RE – the attacking companies assembled in the sickle-shaped trench and moved forwards up to the tape at 2.30 am. D Company occupied the sickle-shaped trench after the other three companies had left. At 2.30am the enemy started sending up numerous white flare and after a few minutes red flares, as a result of which machine guns opened fire. At 2.45 pm, an intense artillery barrage opened on the German front line, and lifted at 2.47 am. The attack could not be pushed home owing the large number of enemy machine guns, though one party of 1 Cpl and 6 men succeeded in entering the German line on the extreme right of the attack. Casualties were heavy: Killed: Capt LW Crouch, 2nd Lt CG Abrey, 2nd Lt JP Chapman, 2nd Lt CW Trimmer (initials reversed in error by bttn adj – ed) and 7 ORs.’
Casualties on 21st July 1916 are recorded as 4 officers (including 2nd Lieutenant Trimmer) and 7 other ranks killed, 3 officers and 97 other ranks wounded, 1 officer and 42 other ranks missing. Aged 19 years William Charles Trimmer now rests in the Poziers British Cemetery, Ovillers La-Boisselle, Somme, France.
Service record TNA reference WO374/69519