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War Memorials

In Memory of
Private 265883
2/7th Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derbys Regiment)
Who was Killed in Action on Thursday, 6th December 1917
Age 23

No Known Grave. Panel 8
Cambrai Memorial to the "Missing", Louverval Cemetery Doignies, Nord, France

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Cambrai Memorial

Cambrai Memorial to the "Missing"
Louverval Cemetery, Doignies, Nord, France

Bertie Mark Limb was born in Beeston, Nottinghamshire in 18942, the youngest of six children of Mark (b. c1859, Hucknall, Notts) and Elizabeth Cordon (née Towle, c1861, Nottingham)3. In appears that Mark had been one of many that followed Francis ('Frank') Wilkinson from Hucknall when he started his lace enterprise, first in Chilwell and then at the iconic Anglo Scotian Mills on Wollaton Road, Beeston. In 1901, Mark and his wife and six children were living at 11 Clinton Street, Beeston4, within easy walking distance of the factory where, it seems, he worked as a lace machinist. And, it was significant too that connection that, by 1911, the family was living at Station Road, Draycott, Derbyshire5, where an Anglo Scotian satellite factory had been set up earlier. Both Mark and Bertie were then working in the lace trade.

Although Bertie's Army Service Record has not survived, it appears that he enlisted in November 19146 and joined 2/7th Sherwood Foresters.

The 2nd/7th Battalion Sherwood Foresters had been formed in September as a duplicate of the already well-established Robin Hood Rifles which had flourished as a volunteer regiment in the years leading up to the war and now became the 1/7th and left for France in February 1915. 2/7th became a second-line battalion, part of 178th Infantry Brigade in the newly formed North Midland Division and set about training its raw recruits who, in these early days, were billeted in Nottingham and surrounds, many of then in their homes. Training was limited to drill, and elementary tactical exercises7.

Things began to change at the end of January 1915 when 178th Brigade - of which 2/7th was part - was moved to it's War Station in the grounds of Luton Hoo in Bedfordshire. Here, the battalion took part in more advance training. This training continued throughout 1915, during which time several drafts - typically consisting of two officers and 160 other ranks - left to reinforce the first line in France.

In August 1914 the political controversy of "Home Rule" for Ireland had been put aside when the Great War overshadowed all differences between politicians and over 250,000 Irishmen of whatever belief pledging their allegiance to the Crown and the cause of patriotism. Increasing food shortages in the towns, particularly in Dublin began to breed unrest such that, at Easter 1916 a group of intellectuals, backed by a force of about 3000 made their move. The first shot fired by the rebels was outside Dublin Castle when a policeman was killed. The rebellion spread across Dublin culminating in the leader of the insurgents, Patrick Pearce the insurgents' leader, declaring an independent Irish Republic from the steps of the Post Office. The reinforcements that were quickly summoned from England to counter this rebellion consisted of the 176th and 178th part Infantry Brigade of the 59th North Midland Division - including 2/7th Sherwoods Foresters. Bertie Limb, possibly by then already a Lance Corporal, was one of their number8.

There had been a number of setbacks, even before the troops arrived in Ireland. Crucially, Lewis guns and grenades were left behind, leaving the inexperienced troops to face the rebellion with only their rifles and bayonets. Nevertheless, the Brigade marched through the fine spring day, reaching Dublin without opposition. However, it was here that they ran into devastating enemy fire, hit the ground and suffered casualties while trying to locate the source of the attack. The battalion Adjutant, Captain Dietrichsen, was shot down while trying to get the men to move forward. Most of the battalion's casualties occurred during this tragic encounter. When eventually, the shortage of grenades was rectified and fresh troops arrived to relieve the exhausted and demoralised 2/7th, the revolt was eventually suppressed. it had been a difficult time for the men of the 2/7th which they no doubt reflected on during their return to England in January 1917. There would be much more to come after the battalion moved to France in the following month and settled down to a routine of training, trench maintenance and front line action as part of 59th Division and 178 Infantry Brigade.

In November, the Cambrai operation got underway. It was described by Sir Douglas Haig as the gaining of a 'local success by a sudden attack at a point where the enemy did not expect it' and to some extent it succeeded. The proposed method of assault was new, with no preliminary artillery bombardment. Instead, tanks were be used to break through the German wire, with the infantry following under the cover of smoke barrages. The attack began early in the morning of 20 November 1917 and initial advances were remarkable. However, by 22 November, a halt was called for rest and reorganisation, allowing the Germans to reinforce such that by 29 November, it was clear that the Germans were ready for a major counter attack. During the fierce fighting of the next five days, much of the ground gained in the initial days of the attack was lost. For the Allies, the results of the battle were ultimately disappointing but valuable lessons were learnt about new strategies and tactical approaches to fighting. The Germans had also discovered that their fixed lines of defence, no matter how well prepared, were vulnerable9.

The 2/7th Battalion was held in reserve and took little active part in the early stages of the operation but, on December 5th and into the 6th, it was called on to hold the line and cover the withdrawal of other units. During this two day operation, the battalion managed to meet its tasks and to take several enemy prisoners but it faced enemy shelling and there were considerable casualties. One of those reported missing was Lance Corporal Limb10.

As Lance Corporal Limb's body was never found, he is commemorated on the CambraI Memorial which stands on a terrace at one end of the Louverval Military Cemetery, which is situated south of Louverval a small village on the north side of the N30, Bapaume to Cambrai road, 13 kilometres north-east of Bapaume and 16 kilometres south-west of Cambrai. The Memorial commemorates more than 7,000 servicemen of the United Kingdom and South Africa who died in the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917 and whose graves are not known. It was designed by H Chalton Bradshaw with sculpture by C S Jagger. The chateau at Louverval, was taken by the 56th Australian Infantry Battalion at dawn on 2 April 1917. The hamlet stayed in Allied hands until the 51st (Highland) Division was driven from it on 21 March 1918 during the great German advance, and it was retaken in the following September. Parts of Rows B and C of the cemetery were made between April and December 1917 and in 1927, graves were brought in from Louverval Chateau Cemetery, which had been begun by German troops in March 1918 and used by Commonwealth forces in September and October 1918. The cemetery now contains 124 First World War burials11.

Lance Corporal Limb was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal12. His Army financial effects of 18 13 7d were paid to his father on 22 February 1918 and he also received his War Gratuity of 14 on 15 November 191913.

Mark Limb, his father, died in Beeston in 1929. His mother appears to be living at 2 Willoughby Street, Beeston in 1930 but no details of her death has been found. Two of his sisters, Edith E and Annie Sarah, emigrated to Canada. Edith married Claude Dear and died in British Columbia in 1977. Annie Sarah settled in Washington State, USA where she died in 1953. Arthur served with the Royal Marines between 1908 and 191414.

1The photograph of the Cambrai Memorial is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was part) in Q1/1894 (Ref 7b 205). 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' gives his birthplace, apparently incorrectly, as Wilne, Derbyshire.
3They married at St Andrews Church, Nottingham on 26 December 1881. Their other children were, Florence E (b. c1885), Edith E (b. c1886), Annie Sarah (b. 1888), Arthur (b. 1890) and May (b. c1892)
4Beeston, Notts : 1901 Census, 11 Clinton Street - Piece 3153 Folio 34.
5Draycott, Derbyshire : 1911 Census, Station Road - Piece 20853 RD434 SD5 ED3 Sched 457.
6The month and year of Bertie's enlistment has been calculated based on the amount of his War Gratuity.
7Details of 2/7th Battalion's formation and deployment is from the Sherwood Foresters Wikipedia entry (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherwood_Foresters) with detail from the Battalion's War Diary (at ancestry.com).
8This synopsis of the Easter Rising and the battalion's involvement is derived from the many accounts that are widely available
9This outline of the strategy and outcome of the Cambrai operations is from the Commonwealth War Graves description of the Cambrai Memorial.(http://www.cwgc.org)
10This brief account is based on 2/7th Battalion's war diary - available at ancestry.com.
11This description of the Cambrai Memorial is based on that on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
12Lance Corporal Limb's medal awards are recorded on his Medal Card and in the Medal Rolls, available on ancestry.com. He would not have qualified for the 1914/15 Star as this was awarded for service under fire in Belgium or France during those years.
13Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929, available on ancestry.com.
14This unverified summary of the later family history is derived from a range of standard genealogy sources.

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