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Royal Naval Divisions remembered 100 years on

11 November 2016
On 13 November 1916, Lieutenant The Honourable Vere Sidney Tudor Harmsworth, aged 21, gave his life on the first day of the Battle of Ancre.

He was serving with the 63rd (Royal Naval Division) on the frontline in France.

A century later, Royal Navy personnel have remembered those that died in the Royal Naval Divisions by recording a poem written by AP Herbert. The poet recalls the losses his batallion suffered during the attack on Beaucourt, and references Lt Harmsworth.

The battle was part of the final phase of the first Battle of the Somme. In total around 4,000 members of the Royal Naval Division were wounded or killed during the month of November 1916.

And here the lads went over, and there was Harmsworth shot

AP Herbert

I found the half-dug ditches we fashioned for the fight,

We lost a score of men there - young James was killed that night,

I saw the star shells staring, I heard the bullets hail,

But the new troops pass unheeding - they never heard the tale.

I crossed the blood red ribbon, that once was no-man's land,

I saw a misty daybreak and a creeping minute-hand;

And here the lads went over, and there was Harmsworth shot,

And here was William lying - but the new men know them not.

And I said, "There is still the river, and still the stiff, stark trees,

To treasure here our story, but there are only these";

But under the white wood crosses the dead men answered low,

"The new men know not Beaucourt, but we are here - we know."

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