Benjamin Thomas Tasker


Died: 27th March 1918

A Territorial Gunner, Benjamin joined the Sussex Royal Garrison Artillery with the number 695 in September 1915. He was a Ringmer lad having been born and baptised there on 23rd April and 5th June 1898 respectively.

The son of Philemon, a labourer, and Agnes Tasker who lived at Broyle Lane, Ringmer he attended the village school from 24th June 1901 until 28th October 1908. However, the school admission register shows that on 13th April 1912 he was exempted further education. He left the district and moved to Catsfield near Battle to marry Nellie Bourner in 1917 and their daughter Hilda Agnes was also born that year. It would appear young Hilda was baptised in Ringmer on 17th October 1917.

Ben Tasker transferred from the Sussex Gunners, who were on coastal defence, into the Regular Artillery and received the new serial number 128885. He was sent to France with the 154th Heavy Battery which formed part of the LXXXVII Artillery Brigade and was attached to the 2nd Army. Their guns were 60 pounders and had a maximum range of 12,300 yards. As part of a Heavy Battery, Gunner Tasker would have fired barrages in support of the various offensives engaged upon by the 2nd Army.

It must have come as a nasty shock to find that at 5am on 21st March 1918 the roll was reversed and that the big guns were having to be fired in defence to try and keep the invading Germans at bay.

The LXXXVII Brigade was based at Beaumetz prior to the attack and progressively retreated in the face of close fighting and heavy casualties. They withdrew to Lebucquière as Louverval and Doignies had fallen to the enemy. They were firing on Agache Valley before being forced back via Fremicourt to Avesnes-les-Bapaume. It was not long before that too fell and the retreat continued each day amid mounting losses of men and equipment. The Brigade withdrew back over the land already laid waste by the fighting of 1916 and 1917 when so much blood had been sacrificed in the offensives of those years. They returned all the way to Bucquoy and then on to Souastre via Fonquevillers. Altogether the 154th Battery and the others of the Brigade were compelled to retreat around 25 miles to the west although a far greater distance was covered on their tortuous route. Firing their 60 pounders out of Fonquevillers to help finally stem the offensive naturally promoted direct retaliation. The counter batteries of the German gunners were active scoring direct hits on our gun positions and on 27th March an exploding shell killed Ben Tasker.


Benjamin Tasker grave

Grave of Benjamin Tasker in Fonquevillers Military Cemetery

He was buried in the Military Cemetery at Fonquevillers before his battery withdrew to a more advantageous position. Although Gunner Tasker enlisted in 1915 he did not enter a theatre of war before the end of that year and in consequence was only entitled to the British War & Victory Medals.

Foncquevillers Mil Cem
Fonquevillers Military Cemetery
Adapted from Valiant Hearts of Ringmer by Geoff Bridger: Ammonite Press, 1993