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Bertram Foord


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Died : 23 September 1916


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Grave of Bertram Foord, Chester Farm Cemetery, Zillebeke, Belgium


Bertram Foord was the youngest of at least seven children of William and Jane Foord. By the time of the 1891 Census [the surname is incorrectly recorded as 'Ford'], his father was dead. Jane, then aged 51, farmed at Pest House, Upper Broyle, assisted by her four oldest sons. Bertram had been born in 1882 at Plumpton, whereas his brothers and sisters were all born in Westham. He was educated for part of his school days at Ringmer, alongside his older sister Mary. At Upper Broyle the family lived next to Charles and Minorah Foord who also had a son Bertram (Walter) Foord.

After leaving school Bertram was an agricultural labourer at Shortgate. He left for Narrogin, Western Australia during 1911 in search of his own land to farm. Like a great many of his fellow countrymen who had emigrated to the Dominions and Colonies of the time, Bertram responded to the world-wide call for volunteers. He joined the 16th Battalion Australian Imperial Force (A.I.F.), which recruited from both South and Western Australia, on 28th February 1916. Private Foord number 5360 was sent to France that year and was soon to see action on the Somme.

After their capture of Pozières and desperate struggle to retain it at an appalling cost in lives, the Australians were once more sent on the warpath. Just north of the old Roman road running from Albert to Bapaume which cuts right through the centre of the battlefield, was a German strongpoint known as Mouquet Farm. [Mucky or Moo-Cow Farm to the soldiers.] The 16th A.I.F. attacked on 9th August and succeeded in taking a vital position some 500 yards in front of the Farm. This was essential before a final onslaught could begin. Further preparations, skirmishes and German counter attacks filled the remainder of August. Victory however was denied the decimated Australian Forces, so debilitated with 23,000 casualties in the battles for the Pozières region that their operations ground to a halt. Indeed the farm was not finally taken until 26th September by the British 11th Division. By this time the exhausted Australian Divisions had been relieved and sent to the Ypres Salient, now relatively quiet, to recover.

The 4th (Australian) Division, with Private Foord, arrived in the southern sector near Spoil Bank on the Ypres-Comines Canal by 14th September. The forces opposite were partly composed of tired German Divisions also transferred in 'for a rest'. It is ironical that having survived the carnage of the previous months intense fighting Bertram Foord was to die, 'holding the line' in an area where neither side had much energy left for fighting. He was most probably killed by a minenwerfer, a type of trench mortar, used by the Germans against our lines as they had run low on artillery ammunition. The remains of Private Bertram Foord were buried in Chester Farm Cemetery, Zillebeke just south of Ypres.

Adapted from Valiant Hearts of Ringmer by Geoff Bridger: Ammonite Press, 1993