2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers, 30th July 1916
Synopsis of Life and Military Service
Robert Ernest Rippington was born in the 1st quarter of 1889 at High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, he was the son of William Rippington a Wheelright and Carpenter and his wife Annie Maria.
In the 1901 Census when he was 14 years old, he was shown to be a Servant at 68 West Gate, Mansfield, the home of Surgeon William Gray and his family.
His Military Record has been destroyed so there is very little information available for him, however, it is known that Robert enlisted at High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire into the 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers. He was probably a professional soldier at the time as he is shown as being awarded the 1914 Star when he was a Serjeant. He was to progress to the French / Flanders Theatre of War on the 14 August 1914 at the start of the war. At some point he was to transfer to the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers and promoted to Warrant Officer II Class and given the role of Company Serjeant Major.
His death was recorded as being on the 30th July 1916 as a result of wounds. As the 2nd Battalion was involved in a large scale attack on that day and were badly mauled as a result with a high number of casualties, it is likely that he died as a result of this action.
His body was either never found or remained unidentified and as a result he is honoured and remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.
His mother was the Sole Legate to his property and pension as stated in the Register of Soldiers Effects and his Pension Card.
War Diary of 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers
The following is an extract of the War Diary for the 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers for the 30th July 1916, the battle where he was likely killed.
1215 a.m. – Battalion command moving forward by platoons from SILESIA TRENCH. The enemy was making use of gas shells which necessitated the wearing of helmets going along MARICOUORT-MONTAUBAN ROAD. The MALT2 HORN TRENCH was very much congested with troops. The Assembly trenches just east of Trones Wood and running north-east of the TRONES WOOD-GUILLEMONT ROAD were reached about 3.30 a.m.. The Battalion suffered very few casualties getting into position. Battalion H.Q. was established in tunnel under TRONES WOOD – GUILLEMONT Rd but no telephone were to Brigade H.Q. could be found.
The Battalion was dispersed as follows, A and B Companies in trenches running north and south on south side of GUILLEMONT-TRONES WOOD Rd, with A Company in front. D Company was in trench north of road and C Company for want of any prepared trench as promised were in a trench running parallel to the road.
4.45 a.m. – Zero was forced at 4.45 a.m.. There was movable barrage across the village at 08, 0.15,0.20, 0.40 and -.65. The Battalion went forward in lines of half companies on a frontage of 260 and at 60 distance. One platoon from each company acting as ? of which two platoons were in the 2nd line and two in the third line. Lewis guns went up behind the 4th line. There was a heavy mist at the time of the advance. The enemy put a barrage along TRONES WOOD but there was little rifle fire at the commencement. Battalion H.Q. was to move forward with two companies of 16th Manchesters who were in close support but never appeared. Officer Commanding 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers had been previously appointed Command out of GUILLEMONT.
One company of 17th Manchesters who were to have occupied trenches vacated by the battalion appeared long after Zero and was immediately sent forward to support the attack which from reports received appeared to be hung up in places. Communication with the advance was kept by runners but as the mist cleared this became exceedingly difficult, messages taking from two to three hours to get from the village. A second company of 17th Manchester Regiment appeared much later and in view of the situation was ordered to hold the line of trenches through ARROW HEAD COPSE.
About an hour after Zero, two officers of the 16th Manchester Regiment reached Battalion H.Q. and stated that their men had broken and retired. From further reports received it appeared that while the Battalion had reached its objectives both east and west of GUILLEMONT the advance on both flanks had failed. Orders were sent to O.C. D Company which was the foremost company to get into touch with the remaining Companies and follow the best possible defensive line but these orders never reached their destination. The remaining Companies were ordered to conform.
10 a.m. – By this time the enemy had put a very heavy barrage along the east face of TRONES WOOD and the mist having completely cleared and the road and intervening ground swept by Machine Guns. Communications became practically impossible. It had been impracticable to obtain any communication with even the advanced R.E. of Brigade and only runners and pigeons could be used.
12 noon – Lt. Murray, O.C. D Company reached Battalion H.Q., having been sent from the village by a Captain of the 18th Manchester Regiment to report on the situation. He stated he had fought his way through the village and he feared the battalion would be cut off. News arrived that the advance of the 89th Brigade had failed and that they were practically occupying their original line. The Battalion was completely isolated. It was impossible to withdraw away of the brigade due to the exposed nature of the ground. Later an Forward Observation Officer reported that he had seen about 300 men surrender on the left. The Battalion went into action 20 Officers and 750 Other Ranks strong. Of these only 3 Officers and about 40 Other Ranks – chiefly H.Q. Staff remained under the Colonels Command. About 100 Other Ranks rejoined later having made their way back through the 89th Brigade.
Casualties: Officers, KIA – 2nd Lt. H.L. Atkins, 2nd Lt. H.H.W. Blackman. Wounded – 2nd Lt. A.V. Morrison, A.G. Henderson, R.D. Paton, W.M. Kennedy and H.T. Kennedy (remained on duty). Missing – Lt’s C.N.J. Kennedy, W.S. Lomax, 2nd Lt. G.H. Slaughter, R.H. Ashton, P. McHugh, G.B. Duncan. Wounded and Missing – Lt. W.L. Harris, 2nd Lt’s D.P. Irving, J.M. McA. Gracie and W. Small. Total 17.
Other Ranks – KIA- 15, wounded 40, missing 578. Remnants of the Brigade under the Officer Commanding 2nd R.S.F. held the line East of TRONES WOOD but owing to unsteadiness of the troops and uncertainty of the position in TRONES WOOD the situation was precarious. The enemy heavily shelled the line of trenches round Battalion H.Q. and TRONES WOOD throughout the day.
9.30 p.m. – A heavy burst of shelling caused the Manchester Regiment to evacuate ARROW HEAD COPSE while two other companies who had returned to their Battalion H.Q. behind TRONES WOOD stating their trenches were untenable were reported as being sent back but never apparently arrived. The enemy made no counter attack as had been expected.
Robert Ernest Rippington was born in the 1st quarter of 1889 at High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire The following family information is taken from the 1901 Census.
His family is shown as follows :-
- Father: William Rippington, born c.1851 at West Wycombe, Bucks – Wheelwright and Carpenter.
- Mother: Annie Maria Rippington, born c.1855 at High Wycombe, Bucks.
- Sister: Janet Maria, born c.1879 at West Wycombe, Bucks.
- Sister: Helen E., born c.1882 at West Wycombe, Bucks.
- Brother: William Edward, born c.1884 at West Wycombe, Bucks.
- Sister: Kate Celia, born c.1886 at West Wycombe, Bucks.
- Brother: Edwin Joseph, born c.1887 at West Wycombe, Bucks.
- Brother: Arthur Frank, born April 1891 at West Wycombe, Bucks.
- Brother: Bertram John, born 15 January 1893 at West Wycombe, Bucks.
- Sister: Ivy Alice, born 24 June 1895 at West Wycombe, Bucks, died 3/2/1897.
- Sister: Olive Annie, born 23 September 1898 at West Wycombe, Bucks.
At least three of Robert’s brothers also served in the military during the Great War:- Bertram John, No.52971 was a Lance-Corporal in the 7th Royal Scots Fusiliers, Arthur Frank, No.10103 and 59918 was a Lance-Serjeant in the 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers and Edwin Joseph, No.28663 was a Guardsman in the 3rd Grenadier Guards.
- 1891: Village, West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.
- 1901: Village North Side, West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.
Robert Ernest Rippington was awarded the 1914 Star, Victory and the British War Medals for his service in the Great War.
Robert Rippington although not specifically mentioned on the memorial would be remembered on the High Wycombe Memorial on Castle Street there. He is however remembered on the memorial at St Lawrences Church, West Wycombe Hill, Church Lane, West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.
Links to Additional Information
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Robert Ernest Rippington
- A Street Near You website – Robert Ernest Rippington
- Find a Grave – Robert Ernest Rippington
- Lives of the First World War – Robert Ernest Rippington
- Imperial War Museum Memorials – High Wycombe Cross
- Imperial War Museum Memorials – St Lawrences Church, West Wycombe
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
- 1891 Census.
- 1901 Census.
- Soldiers Died in the Great War.
- Medal Index Card.
- Medal Roll – Royal Scots Fusiliers – Victory and British War Medal.
- Medal Roll – Royal Scots Fusiliers – 1914 Star.
- Register of Soldiers Effects.
- Pension Card.
- England and Wales Civil Registrations of Births.
- Vincent Stuart
- Clare Winterbottom (Family Photos)
- Andrea Brain (Family Information)