It is always dangerous to single out a single person – whether in a classroom, a business or an organisation. What about the rest? But forgive me if I do just that, and share something about Len Fisher, a Redbourner typical of so many who gave their lives 100 years ago on the Somme.
Leonard George Fisher
Private, 9821, 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment
Died 12th October 1916, aged 23, Battle of the Somme.
Born in Batford, Harpenden, Hertfordshire
Son of William and Emily Fisher (nee Chapman)
William was a farm worker and Len was the second eldest of six children. He was educated in Harpenden then Ayot St. Peter, and a resident of Redbourn, living at Flamsteadbury until being enlisted at Hertford in 1911 for service in South Africa, before being transferred to Belgium on 7th Oct 1914.
The following article offers an insight into the conditions he faced there:
Herts Advertiser 23rd January 1915
REDBOURN. “Bed’s” Terrible Losses
Redbourn Man’s Account of Very Hot Work
Mr. W. Fisher, jun., Flamsteadbury Farm, Redbourn, has received the following letter from his brother Len, who is in “D” Company, 2nd Bedfordshire Regiment:-
“January 9th. – I am serving with a battalion which all Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire people should be proud of. Our first engagement was at Ypres, where we had it very stiff. Our division was outnumbered by the Germans nine to one, but anyhow, we held them back for three weeks till we got reinforcements up. My battalion was in reserve for the Infantry Brigade, and we had a very hot job to do to keep the other battalions reinforced. We had to advance in daylight under very heavy shell fire, and my platoon and another had to go to the Scots Fusiliers, as they were getting cut up terrible. We reached their trenches all right with only a few casualties, and there was a fine sight to see. The Germans were advancing to our trenches about a half-a-mile off, and they were just like flocks of sheep coming towards us. We were firing rapidly for about two hours, but still they came in swarms, and by this time it was getting dark, and still they were advancing, and they got within two hundred yards of our trenches, and they charged us with the bayonet and we had to retire in to a wood. But we all formed up and did a counter-attack and drove them out of our old trenches at the point of the bayonet. And I must say they are a poor lot of chaps to face the cold steel. I could tell you a lot more, but I have not the time to write. I am sorry to say that all that came out of the firing line of my battalion were one officer and three hundred men out of 1,100.”
He survived 2 years in these appalling and hostile conditions, and having been hospitalised in 1915, he returned to the front in August 1916 and was killed in an attack on Gird Trench near Eaucourt l’Abbaye (Battle of Le Transloy). He is remembered with Honour at the Thiepval Memorial, France and commemorated on the Redbourn War Memorial and on a plaque in St. Mary’s Church.
Will you come and join me in remembering Len and all who gave their lives for our liberty?
With grateful acknowledgement to Jonathan Sinfield (Len’s great-nephew) for the information above
Sunday 13th November
10.50 am THE ANNUAL ACT OF REMEMBRANCE
At Redbourn War Memorial
Members of the uniformed Groups and Organisations will gather at the Cricket Pavilion in order to parade to the War Memorial for the service which will be followed by refreshments at ChristChurch, Fish Street