7th (Service) Battalion, East Surrey Regiment.
Born 1897 Died Friday 30 November 1917. Aged 20.
Son of Charles Henry Miles and Mrs. Elizabeth Cobb Miles (née Brazier) of Thrift Cottage, Cherry Gardens, Bonnington, Hythe.
Commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial, Louverval Military Cemetery, Nord, France. Panel 6 as shown above right.
Relatives of Herbert told the compiler that Herbert was known as Bert. Certainly, when interviewing elderly Aldington & Bonnington residents, during the years of researching, all referred to Herbert as Bert. Depending on what data sources are accessed, Herbert is variously recorded as being a native of Caple or Hougham and his birth was recorded in the Dover, Kent Registration District during the fourth quarter of 1897.
As with his brother Frederick and the bulk of the Aldington, Bonnington & Hurst British army Great War casualties, the service papers of Herbert have almost certainly been lost, and his medal details do not record the initial date of his service on the Western Front with the British Expeditionary Force.
The war diary entries of the East Surrey Regiment, give us the best indication of Bert’s fate as they not only survive but are very comprehensive. The date shown above as being the date of Herbert’s death is an estimated date, for when we only know that he fell during The Battle of Cambrai which was fought from Tuesday 20 November until Tuesday 4 December 1917. Herbert was thus officially recorded as having lost his life at some time between those dates.
The compiler is of the opinion, after reading all of the 7th (Service) Battalion, East Surrey Regiment War Diary entries from Friday 30 November 1917 until Wednesday 5 December 1917, that it was on the first date that Herbert lost his life.
From 06.30 hours on Friday 30 November 1917, Herbert’s battalion was subjected to heavy artillery bombardment by the Germans along the whole of its defensive flank from the Nord, France communes of Gonnelieu to Les Rues-des-Vignes. Shortly after the cessation of the enemy shelling, the battalion was attacked on both flanks by five enemy divisions. The battalion War Diary which was written by Second Lieutenant H. Masan on behalf of the Commanding Officer, and records the death of Captain H.F. Ward, and (not by name) the deaths of five other ranks. Second Lieutenant H. Masan also records 11 officers as missing, and three others wounded. In addition to the five other ranks deaths, a total of 11 were wounded and a total of 260 missing.
Checking other data sources revealed that a not insignificant number of the officers and other ranks who had been recorded in the War Diary as missing on the day that Herbert lost his life, had been captured by the enemy. IF Herbert did lose his life on Friday 30 November 1917, he would have been numbered among the 7 officers and 57 other ranks of the 7th (Service) Battalion, East Surrey Regiment who are recorded as having died that day, 63 of whom have no known grave and are all commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial, including Captain Harold Frederick Ward who was the officer recorded by Second Lieutenant H. Masan as having been killed.
The only soldier of the 7th (Service) Battalion, East Surrey Regiment who died on Friday 30 November 1917 who has a grave is Bermondsey, Surrey native Corporal George Michael Bryan who died of wounds he had received earlier, and he is at rest at Étaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.
It was the Army Council at the War Office that made the decision that for official purposes it was to be assumed that Herbert had died on or after 30 November 1917 and his father Charles Henry Miles, as his next of kin, was notified.