Lt Herbert Percival Rimington

   

1898 May 5. Born Medway, Kent.

1901 census at Rochester, Kent

1911 census at Prior Hotel, Walton Le Soken, Tendring, Essex, England (Fanny Rimington is with her parents)

1917 Aug 1. Commissioned 2nd Lt in Royal West Kent

1918 Feb 10. The unit's War Diary records that 2/Lt. H.P. Rimington reported for duty at Mondescourt, Northern France (from 3/4th Bn. R.W. Kent Regt.). The battalion went back into the line on February 26th, taking over a section of trenches south of St. Quentin. They were relieved on March 12th, this short introduction being Rimington's only experience of front line service with 7th Bn. before the Germans unleashed their massive Spring Offensive less than 10 days later.

1918 Mar 21. Taken Prisoner of War. Rimington was one of 20 officers and approximately 577 men of 7th R.W. Kents reported as casualties, and is noted in the War Diary as missing. He was later reported a prisoner, and repatriated after the armistice. The virtual destruction of the battalion is described in the Regimental History, by C.T. Atkinson:

When, on March 21st, 1918, the long-expected German attack at last developed The Queen’s Own had two battalions in the front line, exposed to the full weight of the terrific bombardment which ushered it in. For both the 7th and 8th Battalions March 21st began a time of severe trial; both were to suffer terribly, the 7th indeed was almost wiped out, both were to do splendidly and add greatly to their laurels.

The 7th returned to the “Forward Zone” in its Divisional sector South of St. Quentin two days before the attack. It had barely settled down before, on the afternoon of the 20th, the warning “Prepare for attack” came round. A raid on the front of the neighbouring Corps had revealed the fact that the enemy were massing near St. Quentin and must be on the point of attacking. A night of anticipation was followed at 4.30 next morning by the outburst of the heaviest bombardment the 7th had ever experienced. At that hour it was still dark, but as dawn came nearer it became evident that the morning was going to be shrouded in the thickest of mists, under cover of which the enemy would be able to approach undetected to within 30 or 50 yards. The mist was the greater disadvantage because it presented the conditions which the new system of defence was least well adapted to meet. This depended on good visibility. The whole scheme of defended localities sweeping intervening spaces with crossfire was paralyzed by the all-pervading mist. The German tactics of “infiltration,” pushing forward through weak points or gaps in the enemy’s line and so outflanking the positions at which their advance was held up, could not have been tried under more favourable circumstances than on March 21st. Instead of the garrisons of the posts in the “Outpost Zone” having a good field of fire and supporting each other with enfilade fire they were practically blinded; and as the situation of most of the chief redoubts and defended localities and even of the supporting artillery was well known to the enemy, the mist was no obstacle to their being shelled by the map. At the Battalion Headquarters of the 7th all the overhead shelters were destroyed almost at once, the officers’ mess being the first to take fire, and the accuracy of the bombardment was on a parallel with its intensity.

Shortly after the bombardment opened all wires were cut and except for a few runners and wounded men hardly any of A and C Companies who were in the 7th’s front posts got back even as far as Battalion Headquarters at Durham Post on the road from Moy to LyFontaine. Actually the German infantry attack did not develop till about four hours after the bombardment began, by which time heavy casualties and much damage had been inflicted by it. About 8 a.m. the platoon of C which was in Moy itself, was ordered back to its Company Headquarters on the Western edge of Moy, but found German infantry swarming up the little valleys on both sides. A stout resistance was offered by the platoon, who found good targets for rifles and Lewis guns and inflicted many casualties on the enemy before it was overwhelmed. One of the few survivors, L/Cpl. Purdham, emptied twenty drums from his Lewis gun into the Germans during this fight. Captain Watts and the small party at C’s Headquarters, finding the Germans working round both flanks, effected a retirement to Durham Post about 11 a.m. C’s post at Le Vert Chasseur further to the right, which 2nd Lieut E. A. Thomas’s platoon was holding, was attacked rather later. 2nd Lieut. Thomas was wounded at the outset, but the platoon sergeant took charge and put up a fine fight, holding the enemy at bay for some time; indeed it was only after he had been xx and the Lewis gun disabled that the post was finally rushed, only three survivors getting away. A Company on the left was also attacked in overwhelming force, but held out with magnificent devotion and tenacity, inspired by the fine examples set by Lieut. S.A. French and Sergt. Coleman, both of whom died at their post. It was overpowered in the end, but apparently rather after C, for at 11.15 a message from it reached Battalion Headquarters, timed 10.25 a.m., and reporting that the Germans had penetrated the line to its right.

But even after the advanced companies had been overpowered the 7th continued to resist stubbornly. The support company, D, at Drummond Post, just East of the Vendeuil-St. Quentin Road, was attacked in great force about 11 a.m. The Germans got close up to the post under cover of the mist and poured in heavy machine-gun fire from both flanks at close range. The post had already been much damaged by the bombardment, and though the survivors of the garrison put up a good fight they were soon overwhelmed a few only escaping. This left B Company and Battalion Headquarters manning Durham Post against which the Germans now pressed on. This was first attacked soon after 10 a.m., but the enemy advancing across the open were driven off by rifle-fire. Renewing the attack they got into the post but were promptly ejected. By 11 o’clock, however, they had surrounded it, and a message reporting that the post was still holding out reached Brigade Headquarters shortly before midday. About 11.30 a large body of Germans massing in a sunken road before attacking were skilfully enfiladed by a section directed by the Adjutant, Lieut. Rapson. He was mortally wounded in doing this, but heavy casualties were inflicted on the enemy and the attack was nipped in the bud. About the same time Lieut. Webb, the signaling officer, was hit, and Captain Vaughan, of B Company, was disabled by a wound received when clearing out some Germans who were creeping under the wire: and then at 12.30 Colonel Crosthwaite sent off his last runner down a sunken road with the message, “Boche all round within 50 yards except rear. Can only see 40 yards, so it is difficult to kill the ‘blighters.’ ”

For some hours longer Durham continued its gallant resistance; repeated efforts by the enemy to get in were repulsed by rifle-fire or by bombers in a trench which Lieut. Eason was defending. Soon after 2 p.m. the Colonel was hit and rendered unconscious, and then when the mist lifted the survivors could see the Germans already a long way in rear and realized that there was no hope that a counter-attack would extricate them. Under such circumstances surrender was inevitable.

So effective, however, had been the fight put up in the “Forward Zone” that at midnight the “Battle Zone” of the Eighteenth Division was still intact. If the 7th had been overwhelmed it had done its work and exacted a high price from the enemy. Losses had been heavy; of the 7th Captain McDonald, the second-in-command, who had been sent back to Brigade Headquarters about 9 o’clock, could collect less than 20, and the Buffs and Berkshires, if in slightly better case, were the merest fragments. But the Germans had been hard hit, too. Had they fared no better elsewhere than they did against the Eighteenth Division, March 21st would have been a black day indeed for them. It appeared from the accounts of prisoners that they had put four Divisions in against the Eighteenth but not even the whole of the objective assigned to the first of them had been reached.

1918 Nov 29 Repatriated from Germany

1921 Apr 13. Enlists as a Private in Electrical Engineers, Defence Force for 90 days Emergency. Next of Kin. A V Rimington, Sholebroke Av, Leeds

1921 Jul 7. Discharged at Westminster from Defence Force where he had reached Sergeant by 6 Jun 1921.

1921 Oct 26. Joined ADRIC with service no 2129. Posted to E Coy.

1922 Jan 18. Appears to serve till demobilisation of ADRIC

1929 Married in Leeds to Muriel Thornton

1936 Nov 14 Fascist meeting leader

1937 Oct 23 Stands as a Fascist in Local Elections

1940 Jun 3 Commissioned 2nd Lt (110484) in Aux Military Pioneer Corps

1940 Sep 30 Resigned his commission

1973 Jan 31. . Died Blackpool

ADRIC