100 years to the day since his DLI lieutenant grandfather was shot through the lung at the Somme, an academic will return to the spot to pay his respects. Mark Tallentire reports
JULY 1, 1916. The first day of one of the bloodiest gunfights in human history: the Battle of the Somme.
Over the next five months, more than a million men would be wounded or killed and, arguably, the British public’s perception of warfare would be changed forever.
At 7.30am, the 15th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry (DLI) went over the top, to face the German lines in the fortified village of Fricourt, about 20 miles east of Amiens, northern France.
Paul Kind, right, pictured during a motorcycle tour of the Somme. He has spent three years trying to compile a list of 15 DLI soldiers who fought at the Somme on July 1, 1916
Among them was Robert Kind, a Leicestershire-born Lieutenant who had been studying to be a teacher in Sunderland.
Within an hour, he had shot and killed a German soldier and himself been shot through the lung.
A comrade spent the next six hours pulling him through No Man’s Land, under enemy machine gun fire, to safety. He was shot again, so that his uniform was blasted away.
Lt Kind survived, but took 18 months to recover from his injuries, carried shrapnel wounds for the rest of his life and never returned to the trenches – instead being posted to coastal defence in South Shields.
Though he lived to be 82, and became a respected head teacher and magistrate, Lt Kind never spoke to his family of his time on the Western Front.
But in the 1960s, a long-forgotten letter he had penned to his old schoolmaster reappeared in Australia. Written from a military hospital shortly after he was injured, it is a detailed and moving account of the battle – and inspired his grandson, Paul Kind, to delve deeper into his family history.
“It completely changed my attitude to him as a man,” Prof Kind, a health expert at Leeds University who lives in York, says.
“It describes how proud he was of his men. It made me think that we know a lot about the people who were killed. The ones we don’t know about are the ones who came back.”
Over the last three years, Prof Kind has been trying to compile a list of all 800 or so 15 DLI who fought on July 1, 1916; connecting their families; and trying to identify the soldier who saved his grandfather.
At 7.30am on July 1, 2016, exactly 100 years on from when Lt Kind went over the top, his grandson plans to stand in the same Flanders field to honour his memory – and other 15 DLI descendants are invited to join him and do the same.
For more information, visit 15thdli.net, call 07947-252-589 or email: [email protected]
THE Northern Echo, along with Durham County Council, the trustees of the DLI and Durham University, with support from Durham Cathedral, is running a campaign to raise £20,016 to pay for a battlefield memorial to the Durham Pals, the 18th Battalion, DLI, who also fought at the Somme, to be installed in time for the Armistice Day commemorations in November. Send cheques payable to ‘Former Charities Of The Durham Light Infantry’ to: The Rifles Durham Office, Elvet Waterside, Durham, DH1 3BW.
Grandson’s tribute to DLI Somme casualty, 100 years on (From The Northern Echo) have 566 words, post on www.thenorthernecho.co.uk at 2017-03-21 10:20:16. This is cached page on Europe Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.