Valley End War Memorial. (Photograph courtesy David Fettes.)
The war memorial at Valley End stands opposite the church, to record the names of those who fought and died in the two world wars. It lists seven men who left this small community in World War I, and who never returned. Two have the same surname. Thomas and Frederick Hizzey were brothers, the sons of Rosina and George Hizzey of Brick Hill.
The Hizzey brothers. From left to right, Sydney born 09/04/1901,Thomas born 25/09/1894, and Frederick born 25/09/1899. (Image courtesy of Dave Hizzey.)
Thomas Hizzey was born 25th September, 1894. He worked as a gardener at Westcroft Park and as an assistant milkman. He chose to fight, and volunteered to join the army in 1915.
Thomas Hizzey. (Image courtesy of Dave Hizzey.)
He enlisted at Guildford, and joined the 6th Battalion of the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment.
His first day in France was 1/6/1915, and so he may have been with the transport and machine gun section. These left Farnborough Station for Southampton on 31/5/16, while the 1st trainload of the Battalion left Aldershot 2/6/15.
Thomas Hizzey in the uniform of the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment. (Image courtesy of Dave Hizzey.)
They reached the trenches at Armentieres by the 21/6/1916. The history of their war experience can be traced through the Regimental War Diary.
Thomas Hizzey served in the trenches at the front line, and was awarded Victory medal, the British medal, and star.
Thomas Hizzey’s medal and dog tags. (Photograph courtesy of Kelly Mills.)
The Battalion lost men, but the scale of casualties was nothing to compare with the holocaust that was ahead. For example, during the whole of April 1916 the battalion lost 91 men – 75 wounded, 13 killed, and 3 missing. There were no casualties in May and June 1916.
Thomas Hizzey. (Image courtesy of Dave Hizzey.)
But the 1st July 1916 was the start of the Battle of the Somme, later remembered as “the picture by which future generations saw the First World War; brave helpless soldiers; blundering obstinate generals; nothing achieved”.
The plan was that heavy bombardment over seven days would destroy the enemy machine guns and wire, and wipe out the enemy.
The Capture of Ovillers, from the 1st – 16th July, was a British local operation in which the 6th Battalion, including Thomas Hizzey, took part.
The 6th Battalion were part of the 37th Brigade, and were on the right in the first wave. They suffered heavy losses.
The Battle of the Somme – an officer leading his troops over the top.(Image courtesy IWM. )
The War Diaries reflect the chaos and frustration of the battle. On the 3rd July 1916 the 6th Battalion went into action. At 3.15 am they went over the top, but by 4.30am the situation was hopeless. The men were heavily laden with equipment, and had been forbidden to help wounded comrades. The enemy machine guns were sweeping across the battlefield, and the wire was impenetrable.
The Regimental War Diary analysed the failure, bitterly pointing the shortcomings. It said:
“The attack failed for the following reasons.
“The enemy machine guns whose fire completely swept the ground
“The enemy wire was insufficiently cut
“The short time to arrange the attack and not knowing the ground or being able to see the enemy trenches from our own parapet, consequent loss of direction
“The enemy trenches were thick with Germans, so the bombardment cannot have been very successful.”
The 6th Battalion lost over a quarter of its men, with 294 casualties. One of them was Thomas Hizzey, killed in action at the age of 21. He is buried in the Lonsdale Cemetery, Authuille, France, with over 700 other men who died at the Somme.
A chaplain conducting a burial service on the battlefield near Ovillers, middle of July 1916. (Image courtesy IWM)
Frederick William Hizzey, his brother, was born on 25th September 1899. Like so many of his neighbours at Brick Hill he also worked as a gardener, for Mr. Souchon of Sunningdale.
Frederick Hizzey, standing on the right. (Image courtesy of Dave Hizzey.)
When he was 18, he enlisted at Guildford, and was attested on 26th October 1917. He was 5 feet 7 .5 inches tall, and weighed 9 stone, with a chest size of 34 inches.
He joined the 20th Training Reserve Battalion, but later he moved to the 16th Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps.
This Battalion had been raised from the Church Lad’s Brigade, a youth organisation attached to the church. A soldier who joined it in 1918 said;
“16th King’s Royal Rifles was originally what was known as the Church Lad’s Brigade Battalion. They were all recruited from the Church Lad’s Brigade. But of course they’d lost all their original officers and NCOs. But they were quite a decent lot.” (Charles Frederick Miller.)
In March 1918 Fred was sent to France. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British Medal for his service.
The Battalion saw a great deal of fighting during 1918, culminating in October with the Battle of the Selle. On the 22nd October they were billeted at Bertry, and came under attack. There was shelling that night, and very heavy shelling the following morning. On the 24th the Battalion moved forward at 6.00 am, but found the situation “very obscure.”
The pursuit to the Selle, 9 October 1918. (Image courtesy IWM)
Frederick Hizzey fell, killed by a shell. He died on active service, at the age of 19, on 24th October 1918.
He is buried at Montay-Neuvilly Road Cemetery, Montay, in France.
What must have made it even more bitter for his mother, Rosina, is that he died so close to the end of the war. His death was reported in the Surrey Advertiser for 9/11/1918, beside items about repatriated POWs, demobilisation, and a talk on “The Problems of Peace.”
Two days later, on 11/11/1918, the Armistice was signed.
When their mother Rosina Hizzey heard that her two sons had been killed, she ran outside her cottage in desperation, and beat her fists on a galvanised iron bath that was hanging outside, keening for her boys who had been lost in France.
Roll of Honour, Valley End Institute.(Photograph by Suzanne Dolphin, Chobham Art Group.)
The Regimental War Diaries give a detailed account of the operations in which Thomas and Frederick Hizzey died.
War Diary, Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment. 6th Battalion. National Archives and Surrey History Centre. National Archives WO 95/1863/1
(A Battalion would consist of 1,000 men, divided into 4 companies.)
Quiet day. Battalion received orders to make all preparation to attack at dawn. Front line was shelled during the day. During the day the battn took over the front line of the Brigade, but moved back to original position during the night. Casualties 4 wounded.
In the trenches (opposite OVILLERS)
Received final orders at 1AM with reference to attack. The Battalion attacked the German trenches at 3.15 AM.
At 3.15 AM 1st Platoon closely followed by 2nd 3rd – 4th advanced. 1st Platoon got to Enemy parapet where the officer in charge was killed, and the majority of the men hit by machine gun fire. The bombers knocked out an enemy machine gun in an advanced sap.
2nd Platoon got to enemy wire + were stopped by machine gun and rifle fire.
3rd Platoon were stopped behind the second, 4th Platoon got about half way across but lost heavily + concluded it was useless to advance further.
1st Platoon went too much to their left, only about 8 getting to the German wire the bombers getting into the trench with the R. W. KENT REGT who were on the left. 2nd Platoon caught up 1st with about 5 men, the remainder being hit by machine gun fire. The Lewis Gun also entered enemy trench with R. W. KENT REGT and was captured. 3rd Platoon suffered heavily + were stopped by fire. 4th seeing things hopeless + losing heavily also stopped, the Company Commander being wounded.
(LEFT REAR Company)
Followed “C” over the top, but went more to the right. 1st Platoon got up to the German wire but had to stop owing to its not being sufficiently cut + suffered heavily. 2nd + 3rd Platoons followed + suffered from machine gun and rifle fire. The Company Commander is still missing. 4th Platoon owing to the trench being blocked did not arrive till late + were ordered not to advance.
(RIGHT REAR Company)
Seeing the hopelessness of further attack, this company was stopped advancing, but in consequence of orders received at 4.30 AM stating “Suffolks on your right have got in AAD endeavour to push on and support them” they were launched at about 4.35 AM, supported by the “Buffs,” but they immediately came under machine gun fire + did not get far. All the officers were killed or wounded.
The attack failed for the following reasons.
The enemy machine guns whose fire completely swept the ground
The enemy wire was insufficiently cut
The short time to arrange the attack and not knowing the ground or being able to see the enemy trenches from our own parapet, consequent loss of direction
The enemy trenches were thick with Germans, so the bombardment cannot have been very successful.
LT. C.W. FITCH
2/LT. C. S. HALL
CAPTAIN L.H.R. BUTLER
LIEUT. R. E. JOHNSON
2/LT. T. L. ORMEROD
2/LT F. W. ELLIOT
CAPTAIN. E. WRIGHT (KILLED)
CAPTAIN R. B. RUTHERFORD (KILLED)
LIEUT M. G. L. WALLICH
2/LT A. D. W. WARD (since rejoined)
NCOs and men
During the morning after the attack the enemy shelled the front line + support trenches with HE (high explosive) and shrapnel. The Battalion was relieved by 7th East Surrey Regt + went back to DONNET POST + RIBBLE ST. Relief complete at 4PM.
The battalion remained at DONNET POST. The day was quiet.
Extracts from 6th Batt. The “Queens’s” Regt. Orders for Operations 7/6/1916.
1/ Every soldier will carry
a/ Fighting order
b/ 220 rounds SAA
c/ Iron ration and 1 day’s ration
d/ 4 Sandbags
e/ 2 hand grenades
f/ 2 gas helmets and goggles
2/ The following will also be carried: –
a/ Pick or shovel by 3rd. platoon of each company
b/ Wire cutters and wire breakers by 1st and 2nd platoons.
c/ Hedging gloves
4/ All ranks are worried that the supply of water may be difficult. Water bottles must be filled before leaving the final billets.
c/ No one is permitted to fall out to help wounded men.
d/ Wire-cutters of casualties must be collected.
War Diary of Kings Royal Rifle Corps. 16th Battalion. National Archives WO 95/2430/3
Battalion marched to DEHERIES and then returned.
Battalion moved to BERTRY and was put under 2 hours notice to move forward. Battle stores issued.
Battalion billeted at BERTRY. Orders received. Battalion to move to assembly positions. Moved off at 2030. Shelling experienced during the night.
At 0200 attack by 33rd Division. From 0200 to 0530 “shelling was extremely heavy.” Casualties were few although “neighbouring units suffered very heavily.” Little news was received of the progress of the advanced troops, except that the 1st objective had been gained. Battalion moved forward at 08.45 hours. There were orders to keep 1000 yards behind troops of the leading Brigade. The right leading battalion encountered opposition on the right of VENDEGIES WOOD. The line of the battalion was about 400 yards short of the 4th objective.
2 Lt C. V. J. EVRETT was wounded, and there were 38 other ranks casualties.
Frederick Hizzey died on 24th October 1918. This is the relevant entry from his battalion’s War Diary.
Oct 24th 1918.
“Battalion ordered to take over outpost line from CAMERONIANS who were to go through that line later and to take the 4th and 5th Objectives when the Brigade would follow up and go through them and establish the general line, LA COUPE GORGE – 5.26.a.oo to S.14 central CAMERONIANS remained in the outpost line by arrangement with us and advanced direct from there at 0400hours. At 0600 hours our advance started but was held up owing to the very obscure situation on the right. The advance was continued at 1200 hours for the line of the ENGELFONTAINE – LA COUPE-GORGE Road.
A Company left front,
C Company Right front,
D Company Left Support,
B Company Right Support.
“By 1800 hours the battalion was within 600 yards of the Road.
“Strong Fighting Patrols were pushed out who reported the road clear at 2230 hours. A and C Companies were thereupon ordered up to occupy this that portion of the road allotted to that Company. Counter attack next morning at 07.30.”
(The entry for the 24th October does not mention casualties, which seems to have been standard practice. Was Frederick Hizzey one of the other ranks casualties listed for the 23rd?)
Surrey Advertiser, 9/11/1918
“Rifleman Frederick William Hizzey, King’s Royal Rifles, second son of Mrs Hizzey, Valley End, Chobham, was killed by a shell in France on the 24th ult. He was 19 years of age, and had been in the Army 12 months, going to France last March. Previous to joining he was employed in the garden by Mr. Souchon, Sunningdale. Another son of Mrs. Hizzey, Pte. Thomas Hizzey, The Queens’, was killed about two years ago.”
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.
UK Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects. National Archives.
Medal cards. National Archives WO/372/9/213464
Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment website http://www.queensroyalsurreys.org.uk/index.shtml
Exploring Surrey’s Past website http://www.exploringsurreyspast.org.uk/themes/subjects/military/the_queens_royal_surrey_regiment/
Roll of Honour, St. Saviour’s Church Valley End. (Image courtesy David Fettes.)
The names (with one exception) are given in the order in which they died. The list includes those with connections to the parish, rather than restricting it to those who lived there.